Skip to main content

Bookcases and Big Salads 

We laugh when we think about our first apartment. It was so small that you could plug the vacuum into the center outlet and clean the entire place in about three minutes!  When the lease ran out, we moved on up…  into a townhome.  Things were great until we needed more furniture to fill it, and we bought new bookcases. Once we had them assembled, Janey clapped and exclaimed, “Now I get to decorate them! We can put pictures here, and candles there, and…” My stoic, calm, logical response was, “You mean with books, right?” Because in my thinking, why would any sane person do anything else?

You see it coming.

Que one of the most epic fights of our marriage…

I don’t remember how things progressed, but I do remember standing in front of the empty shelves, motioning toward them with my hands, yelling, “BOOK….cases! BOOOOOOOK…CASES!!”  Isn’t it funny to look back and see how foolish we can be with our spouses?

What happened next has become a core memory of how to resolve conflict. After Janey left the room crying, she called her mom.  Now, this is NOT always the wisest move after a fight.  But Janey’s mom is a wise, Godly woman.

The advice she gave was perfect.

Janey got off the phone, giggling a bit, and said, “Do you know what Mom told us to do?

She told me to make a big salad,

Sit with you at the table,

Share the salad,

and talk it out.”

We both burst into laughter at the thought of making a big salad after a fight.  But that’s exactly what we did.

In the laughter, we realized our fight was less about bookcases and more about opinions, assumptions, and how we communicate those things to each other. So, we did indeed make a salad, and talked as we ate, apologized to each other, expressed love for one another, and learned a lot about the right – and wrong – way to communicate.  To this day, if we sense tension rising, we can say, “Do we need to make a salad?”

Learning to compromise rather than win is a game-changer.  There were a ton of books on those shelves… and some pictures and candles too.

What tension breaker do you have in your marriage that reminds you to focus on the love you have for your spouse and learn to appreciate them, even in disagreement?  What would it look like for you to listen to understand their perspective?