That’s How the Fight Started

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Feb 11, 2012
Part of the happiness of life consists not in fighting battles, but in avoiding them.  A masterly retreat is in itself a victory.
Norman Vincent Peale

Over the years I have always been a bit uneasy with those who poke fun at marriage.  I guess it’s because marriage really matters. Ever since August 5, 1967 when I changed Evie’s last name from “Morneau” to “Meyer,” I have had a profound, indescribable gratitude for the privilege I have had to share my life with her as her husband.  

But lest I come across as a prude, there are times we hear genuinely humorous things about marriage and being able to laugh a little bit about the ways we function in this sacred institution can actually help to stabilize and re-enforce its influence.  I remember early saying to Evie, “I’m not fussy about a lot of things but…” then I would reference something I am very fussy about.  We have laughed at that oft repeated remark over the years as I add yet one more item to my “fussy” list pretty much negating the claim.

Years ago I heard someone make this remark about marriage that I disagree with yet for some reason it still makes me smile, “Marriage is a great institution but who likes to live in institutions.”

Here are a few more such anecdotes:

One year I decided to buy my mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a Christmas gift.  The next year I didn’t buy her a gift.  When she asked me why, I replied, “Well, you still haven’t used the gift I bought for you last year.”  That’s when the fight started.

When our lawn mower broke my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed.  But somehow I always had something else to take care of first.  Finally, she thought of a clever way to make her point.  When I arrived home one day I found her seated in the tall grass busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors.  I watched her silently for a short time, went into the house and came out and handed her a toothbrush saying, “When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway.”  That’s when the fight started.

My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary.  She said, “I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds.”  I bought her a bathroom scale.  That’s when the fight started.

We were sitting with two other couples at a dinner table and just as the meal began, one of the husbands looked over at his wife and said, “Will you please pass the honey, Honey?”  The other husband looked over at his wife and said, “Will you please pass the sugar, Sugar?”  The third husband knew he had to say something to demonstrate his love for his wife and also demonstrate his creativity so without thinking he looked at his wife and with similar sincerity said, “Will you please pass the tea, Bag?”   That’s when the fight started.

My wife sat down next to me as I was flipping channels.  She asked, “What’s on the TV?”  I said, “Dust.”  That’s when the fight started.

I think most of us can muster a bit of a smile as we reflect on these or our own spousal interactions.  Surely Alan King had this in mind when he said, “Marriage is nature’s way of keeping us from fighting with strangers.”  

When we were first married I remember reading this quote, “Within the first 30 days any newly married couple can begin to find reasons for them to be divorced.  What is needed, however, is for them to focus on reasons why they should stay together.”

And, I love the plaque which says, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”  

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to