May 9, 1970
About this time, Nate and I bumped into an unexpected disagreement. My cooking was improving as I learned from my many failures, but our dinner hour presented a new problem.
Nate looked forward to our evening meal with enthusiasm every single day. He came to the table hungry and was always generous with compliments and kisses for the cook. Though I loved spending time with him, my perspective on dinner was a world away from his.
I didn’t like cooking, and my M.O. was to get the process over with as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, over the months of being married, that same mindset had spread to wanting the whole meal finished fast, too.
This was in direct conflict with Nate’s desire that we eat slowly and linger at the table. I wolfed down my food without considering his point of view and then jumped up to head for the kitchen sink. While still turning to chat with him as he ate, I attacked the pans and cooking mess, wanting to check that off quickly, too.
One evening as we sat down to chicken and rice he said, “Can I talk to you about something?” The way he said it worried me. What could possibly be wrong?
“Sure,” I said. “We can talk about anything you want.”
“Well…” he said, hesitating, “you know how you always finish eating before I do?”
“Yes… because you’re hungrier than me, and you eat more, which is how it should be.”
“Right,” he said, measuring his words. “But then, when you’re done, you leave the table.”
“You mean to start washing dishes?”
“Does that bother you?” I said.
“Well… because each day when we’re apart, I miss you a lot. And when we finally sit down across from each other, I want to talk to you and hope you’ll talk to me. But you get up before we’ve barely gotten started.”
Although his words were spoken with gentleness, they hurt my feelings.
“But I’m just trying to be efficient,” I said, defending myself. “And that way, by the time you’re done eating, the dishes are pretty much done, too.”
After making his point, he wisely backed away, leaving me a minute to think about it. Then he made one last comment that poked through my defensiveness. “How ‘bout if we sit together for a while longer, and then, after dinner is over, we do the dishes together?”
“Really?” I said.
With that I melted. “Gee, I’m really sorry,” I said. ”I didn’t realize.” The tension disappeared, and I learned that even though his plate held more food than mine, if I didn’t gulp mine down, we could finish together.
Once I decided to stay at the table longer, we had much deeper conversations – exchanges that continued as we stood side-by-side washing dishes together.
And I’d learned something new and very special about the man I loved.
“Be good…. and be ready to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18)