One of the best things about our new home on the ocean is our huge air-tight wood stove. It sits in the corner of our living room right beside the picture window overlooking the ocean. There’s something just right about sitting by a roaring fire on a crisp winter evening with your significant other, getting warm and simply being together.
Honestly it was one of the main selling features of the house. Well, truth be told, it was a mandatory feature.
For the previous 9 years a familiar refrain was, “I want a fireplace.” Unfortunately, I had to keep pointing out that there was really no good place for one in our previous home. So we made certain that any place we moved to had to have one. (We lucked out, this house has two!)
Those of you who have a wood-burning fireplace know that there is a price to be paid for all that warmth and beauty, that wood doesn’t put itself in the hearth. Nope, all that wood has to be stacked away, then unstacked and moved indoors, unstacked and stacked up again by the fireplace, then placed in the fire piece by piece, all by hand. Every. Single. Piece. It’s actually a lot of work, (if you cut your own firewood, you can add several steps at the front end to this process.)
We just had a couple of cords of wood delivered to finish out the season, and it needs to be moved, first from the driveway to the storage hut in the backyard, then some of that to the large storage rack in the house, and finally, some of that is moved to the smaller holder in the living room. All by hand. All by us.
And really that’s the key. It needs to be moved by us. Not by me. Not by Vanessa. By us, together, as a team.
Over the years Vanessa and I have discovered a real synergy when we work together, especially when doing big, physical projects. It seems that whenever one of us is ready to give in a bit, the other one picks them up and we keep going. We take turns in getting tired, overwhelmed, or disillusioned. And every time the other takes a turn at cheering us on, focusing our attention on one part of the job, or pointing out how far we’ve come.
With the wood, for instance. I pick the time to get started. Vanessa figures out the best strategy for moving the wood to where it needs to go. She encourages me as the soreness in my back gets progressively worse. Then, as we stop for the day, one of us will point out how much smaller the pile is on the driveway, and we both feel great about what we accomplished.
Ultimately that’s what a marriage is all about, working together as a team. Two equal partners with different strengths who come together to make doing the hard work easier, (in many cases making it possible at all!)
Sadly, this is where a lot of couples break down.
Instead of seeing the differences in each other as a combined strength, they get angry at their partner for not thinking and doing things “their way”, or worse, “the right way”!
What is even more amazing, is that those differences, the very ones that are driving you crazy right now, are likely the very things that you loved most about them in the beginning.
I encourage you to look at those differences in a new light. Not as something to be tolerated, but as something to be enthusiastically embraced.
It’s good that she wants to leave the party now instead of later, otherwise you’d be out way too late and have trouble functioning the next day.
It’s good that he wants to take some time to compare prices and features instead of making an expensive impulse buy.
It’s good that you like different music, movies, sports, foods, etc. that way your world expands in ways that it wouldn’t otherwise.
Your differences are strengths, that when used correctly make you, as a team, practically unstoppable.
When you work together.