One of the first lessons that I learned in marriage involved our alarm clock. You may be able to guess what Iâ€™m about to say.
The first morning that Megan and I woke up together in our tiny rental house in South Knoxville was a Tuesday. We had left Turks and Caicos on Sunday, spent the night in Nashville at my parentsâ€™ houseâ€”awkward?â€”then drove back to Knoxville on Monday. That night, Megan set her alarm for 7:30 am.
I should preface by telling you that Megan has the most annoying alarm clock in the world. I donâ€™t know how so much piercing, obnoxious, repetitive noise can come from such a small, seemingly innocuous box.
The arrival of this black plastic canker at the house is partly my fault. Back when we were dating, Megan would turn off her old alarm and fall back asleep. Hours after she was supposed to have left for school, she would wake up without any recollection of turning off the alarm.
Or she just slept through the alarm.
She had to put in 1500 hours at Tennessee School of Beauty to qualify to take the state cosmetology examâ€”no way around it. Every day she missed was a day sheâ€™d have to make up later. She was, in effect, prolonging her tenure at TSB indefinitely.
I convinced Megan to get a new alarm that would, without fail, wake her up. The new alarm clock was a guarantee that sheâ€™d get out of school as quickly as possible. Her reasons for doing so are a subject worthy for a Better Business Bureau investigation, not a post on gu.e.
Until Meganâ€™s alarm ruptured the quiet at 7:30am on a November morning, Iâ€™d forgotten about it. Iâ€™m a lighter sleeper than she is, so I listened to several earsplitting screeches before she rolled out of bed. She hadnâ€™t yet mastered that art of hopping out of bed. She didnâ€™t throw off the covers. She rolled, and when she rolled, she took the covers with her.
First, I was welcomed back to life with a sound akin to a donkey on Sudafed trying to imitate a rooster. Next, a blast of cold air hit my chest.
I assumed that my new wife had turned off the alarm. Five minutes later, I realized my mistake.
Manic donkey! Cold air!
The cursed snooze button!
Five more minutes, Iâ€™m just drifting back offâ€¦ Surely, this time…
Fool me once, shame on you, Snooze Button. Fool me twice, shame on me.
After the second snooze ended, I began to ask myself the questions that visit most newlyweds: “Is this what itâ€™s going to be like?” This question also goes under the guise of â€œWhat was I thinking?â€ and â€œDid I make a big mistake?â€
Iâ€™m thankful that my best friend Hunter married a lovely woman named Holly five years before I married Megan, and had already worked through such quandaries.
The answer to the three questions above is no. The truth is, I’m selfish. Who knew?
This discovery was similar to others, such as whether your spouse minds if you try what he or she ordered for dinner or, even better, hygiene, germs, and toothbrush swapping:
I forgot my toothbrush. Do you mind if I use yours?
Really? Yes? Youâ€™ll kiss me, but you donâ€™t let me use your toothbrush?
Well, okay. I guess Iâ€™ll just use my finger. And just so you know, itâ€™s going to be the middle one.
Megan and I don’t mind each other’s germs.
During premarital counseling, I learned that typical conflict-inducing issues, such as sex and finance, and to a lesser degree, food, hygiene, and sleep, are less about unattractive weight gain or lavish spending than they are about deeper concerns. They are stages where we act out our dislike of our bodies or fear of abandonment or lack of trust in the other person.
The argument about that pair of shoes that your wife bought on sale at J. Crew is not about money at all. You feel betrayed because you thought you had an agreement that neither one of you would buy new clothes for six months. You feel betrayed because she didnâ€™t keep up her end of the bargain. She broke your trust for an impulse buy. Why doesnâ€™t she ever keep her word when it comes to shopping?
Or maybe youâ€™re not upset about money, agreements, or impulse buys. Maybe youâ€™re upset because she didnâ€™t obey. You make what you think are good rules to be responsible and â€œprotect the family,â€ but she defies your authority and challenges the good sense of your â€œagreement.â€ Youâ€™re upset because you’re not in control.
Maybe she only agreed not to buy clothes in the first place because you were being domineering and she was looking for the nearest exit from an exhausting and belittling conversation. She never had any intention of saving money because sheâ€™s still subconsciously resisting her fatherâ€™s crippling stinginess.
The real issue is probably a swirling mishmash of all of the above, and neither one of you realizes that youâ€™re acting out of the frightened, selfish boy or girl that lives in the innermost recesses of your heart.
For Megan’s sake, I should admit that the shoes anecdote is fictitious. I’m definitely the more prodigal spender.
The selfish boy in me had no desire to wake up at 7:30am. The slowly emerging man in me got out of bed anyway, growling like a bear fresh from hibernation and lumbering into the kitchen to make my wife breakfast.
The alarm going off three times didn’t kill me, and bacon cures all manner of ills.
I canâ€™t say that Iâ€™ve responded that way every morning, but itâ€™s a start, and from what I understand, marriage is a thousand starts. Megan has more annoying â€œalarm clocksâ€ to forgive than I do.