Bickering: a love story

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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We were busy bickering - like couples can bicker after two or 12 or 20 years of marriage.

He made breakfast five mornings in a row. I folded eight loads of laundry. He fed the dog and took out the garbage. I fed the fish and cleaned the toilets.

I made meatloaf. He shoveled the driveway. I helped with homework. He served as field trip chaperone. I packed bagged lunches. He drove the kids to school.

Finally, it was Friday and we were both exhausted. Still, he came home from work and unloaded the dishwasher. I mopped the floor. He gave the dog a bath. I cleaned up the cat's vomit.

Early Saturday morning, the action started anew. I made the coffee. He poured. He cleared the table. I wiped off the crumbs. Neither of us said a word. We were too busy.

The competition was enough to put us over the edge. Until I nearly killed him.

Amidst our other weekend duties, we'd managed to get the minivan stuck in a large snow bank bordering our driveway. (Imagine what that did for our collective bickering moods.) We had things to do, places to go. It was imperative we get the vehicle unstuck.

My husband started with the shovel, working his way under the back tires to improve traction. He then pushed the van from behind while I gently - ever so gently - stepped on the gas. ("Don't spin the wheels," he warned.)

No go.

After more shoveling and pushing and gradual pressure on the gas we hadn't moved an inch.

It was time for the big guns. My husband went into the garage and returned with a long, yellow, ropey-tubey thingamajig. We would attach it to our van (stuck) and our SUV (pull-out vehicle). My husband worked outside doing the hooking while I remained in the van.

I adjusted the radio and heat and glanced up to check on my husband's progress. He was nowhere to be seen. I figured he must have gone into the house - probably to use the bathroom.

I sat for a minute or so inside the stuck van at the end of the driveway waiting for my husband to return. I fiddled more with the radio and pondered our wedged circumstance.

Wouldn't my husband be impressed if I emancipated the van on my own?

In my search for a magic solution, I considered the different gear options available on our van. There was neutral, drive, reverse and a couple of others; one was designated by the number 3, the other with the letter L. I knew this last option was for pulling loads in low gear - when a person needed some heavy-duty action, not to mention traction.

I needed both. I'd been trying to prod the van forward by putting it into drive. Maybe the low gear would give me the added traction I needed to free myself (and the van) from the snow undertow.

I put the van into L and lowered my foot on the gas. The engine roared; my wheels spun. The van didn't budge. Thank goodness.

Quicker than you can say, "Run me over with a stuck minivan," my husband popped up in front of the vehicle. He wasn't in the house, like I thought, but had been working under the bumper.

If my low gear super tire traction idea had worked ... and the van had shot forward ... well, I don't want to go there.

My husband mouthed a few expletives that I most certainly deserved. What could I do, except yell, "I thought you were in the house!"

And sit in the van, stunned by what I'd almost done. My eyes started watering.

There are moments in life when your actions can change the future forever. Thank goodness this wasn't one of them. My husband got the long, yellow, ropey-tubey thingamajig hooked up and pulled the van out with the SUV. As he was working, I looked at him through my tears-like you don't often look at someone after 20 years of marriage - and noticed how tall he is and how the little bit of gray hair at his temples makes him even more handsome than ever.

In that moment - intermingled with remorse and love-I knew this was a man worth more than a thousand loads of folded laundry and countless instances of cleaning cat vomit (as romantic as that sounds).

Later on, I would tell him how sorry I was. For now, I promised myself for at least the millionth time that I'd love him forever. And, I vowed to never bicker about silly things again-or at least for the rest of the weekend.

Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page.- E-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.