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Before my bouquet had dried or the wedding cake topper had developed freezer burn, it happened.
Jeff had carefully saved pennies for months (literally), worked extra jobs, and planned every detail so we could have a great honeymoon. We drove our used Honda Accord up the east coast to a serene lake in Maine, to a white cottage with green shutters and moss on the roof. Our hearts were so full, even if our pockets were not. It was heaven.
We took a day to drive to the coastal town of Freeport, home of LLBean, where my beaming new hubby presented me with $50 he had chipmunked away for each of us to buy something "fun." He tried on sunglasses while I stood there wringing my hands, thinking ... thinking about how poor we would be, how I would have to water down milk and find new ways to cook oatmeal and ration the toilet paper (my imagination had been at work!) as a new and thrifty wife. I refused to spend my gift, saying it was wiser to save it for things like ... toilet paper! Jeff was so disappointed. Before long our time in Freeport was spoiled and our miscommunication had grown into misunderstanding that grew into our first bona fide "married fight." The honeymoon wasn't even technically over!
Our Honda was tense as we drove back toward the lake. Words became mean (Mine did. Jeff doesn't talk mean.) as we tried to explain ourselves and failed. Finally, somebody said something about being dropped off at a pay phone to call her dad and go home .... oh, mercy! It really sounds ridiculous now, doesn't it!?!
Next to a forest of pines Jeff pulled our little Honda over where we parked next to a dumpster, of all things. He told me it would take work to understand, to communicate, and to love. He told me we were going to apologize and ask each other's forgiveness and leave that argument and those hurtful words in that dumpster. We did ... and then we had a lobster for dinner and headed back to our honeymoon cottage by the lake. :)
It was our first married argument, but it hasn't been our last. Conflict in marriage is inevitable, but forgiveness must be part of any healthy marriage that lasts. Ephesians 5:22-33 describes the love and tenderness a husband must give his wife and the gentle respect a wife must give her husband. Since living in Knoxville, I have learned this is actually the home of the Dempster brothers, the men who designed the Dempster Dumpsters. It's a good reminder that every marriage should have regular "dumpster moments." Who wants to drive around in life with a life full of garbage? Don't be shy about it. When caught up in conflict as we struggle to communicate, to understand, to set ourselves aside, to meet each other's needs, be ready to go dumpster diving and leave your dirty rotten arguments where they belong! I'm praying for each one who reads today, that God will help you pull up to the dumpster and unload any bitterness you have in your marriage. And then go back to your honeymoon cottage. :)
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