BBQ Sauce, And Other Marital Challenges

The sumptuous aroma of BBQ pork lounging in the slow cooker wafted through the house clinging to the air like a lover refusing to leave.  I had whizzed round ASDA at a speed setting of ‘MadMentalMum – Category II’ flinging stuff  into an overflowing green basket.

I had gone there to buy some emulsion with the intention to delight His Husbandness by finding time between housework, running the business and looking after baby, to paint Darling Son’s wardrobes – a big gesture of thoughtfulness as getting his new room decorated would allow us to sort the house out good and proper.  He’s moving into the ‘spare’ room you see, and Baby into his old room so quite a momentous occasion really.   The wardrobes are large and splendid but were still an odd shade of peach thanks to the previous (now deceased) owners.  Time for a freshen up, a fresh start, a new day. (Side note to self – My baby boy is going to school soon – whoa!).

Anyway, back to Asda.  I had grappled with the pram and manoeuvred myself with great skill and agility around the good people of Linwood, basket hanging precariously from my elbow, slamming into my hip at 6 second intervals all round the store.  Thankfully, Baby was fast asleep (or perhaps actually wide awake but wisely blocking out the whole ‘MadMentalMum – Category II at Asda’ experience by kidding on she was asleep and actually practising mental baby yoga).

I was having a very annoyingly indecisive day, with those horrible split second dilemmas of ‘shall I wait until His Husbandness is here and we have a proper trolley, or shall I just get it now, oh heck, I’ll just get it now’ and somehow ended up buying all the heavy stuff on the day when the light stuff would have blessed me more.   The King of all Heavy Shopping was located: I found the emulsion – one kind only – and one size only –  in tubs with the sure capacity to dip sheep.  I only needed a litre, but 3 litres was acceptable at £6 I suppose. (Why do we pay more for more, when we actually need and want less – “3 for 2” anybody??).. anyway, I’m in a rush, basket very heavy, need to get meal stuff, no time to think for long… this was the context within which the jar of BBQ sauce ended up in my basket, then in my shopping bag, then into the boot, then into the slow cooker, and ultimately on a plate before His Husbandness.

Got home and did the obligatory car seat aerobics workout having parked too close to my own fence (I’m sure it moves in the night..) I had to shimmy and weave myself and the car seat out of the car whilst cleverly contorting my arm into yet another impossible shape to get the seat out of the car without waking Baby. Success. Phew.  I parked her on the kitchen table whilst I unpacked and admired my 3litre purchase and debated with myself about whether to paint other cupboards ‘just to freshen them up too’ and then realised my folly at creating work for myself just to use up the other 2 litres.  Darn those supermarket economies of scale.

So, the BBQ Pork.

His Husbandness is a plain eater (or, between you and I, a very fussy eater – a common trait of men I am assured).  Not keen on veg, spices, salads, sauces or anything ‘lumpy’, so we tend to stick to simple menus. Fair enough. But over the years I have slowly and by stealth brought him into the fold of experimentation a little with some success.  Curry (mild) and chilli (mild, minus the lump-like kidney beans) have been known to have been enjoyed.. so I thought that although he’s not a fan of BBQ sauce I’m sure he’ll surrender to its obvious delectable charms once it was cuddled around a perfectly melt-in-the-mouth pork loin.

(In actual fact, His Husbandness really dislikes BBQ sauce, in fact he hates it, can’t abide it, would cross the street to avoid it etc etc ).  I hadn’t realised the extent of their hate-hate relationship in near 10 years of marriage but I was soon about to find out ALL the details of his loathing of the stuff.

A ‘heated discussion’ of Biblical proportions ensued (strategically and thankfully contained until the kids were asleep..).  Why would someone who loves you put something you hate in front of you to eat?  This is not showing love! This is showing a selfish contempt for peoples’ differences in taste buds! What’s the Big Deal, it’s BBQ sauce, it’s delish! But you KNEW I don’t like it, so why do it? etc etc etc.. and actually – he had a point.  I did know he didn’t like it. I did know he comes in from work exhausted and hungry (doesn’t tend to eat at all during the day).  I did know he’d have enjoyed the pork on its own and I could have heated the sauce separately for myself.  I felt selfish and thoughtless.  Yes, it was just a silly row about BBQ sauce, but it gave me a jolt.

I do know him better. I do know what he loves and hates.  I can make him happy by simply showing what I already know about what he needs and wants, it’s not hard, it’s not complicated.  Our marriage was having an ‘adjustment’ moment.

8 years ago, shortly after we married, we attended a really brilliant course at the church called ‘The Marriage Course’. All the other couples had been married at least 10 years, one couple married for 40 years!   We explained to the group (who I suspected wondered what kind of problems we were already having) that we saw the course as a preventative measure, rather than a cure.

We see the marriage relationship like driving along a motorway (fast, full of rules that should keep everyone safe, but roadhogs and thoughtlessness cause accidents).. you have to continually, daily, hourly, momentarily make little tiny adjustments to the steering or you gradually veer so far off it takes an almighty yank at the wheel and some emergency maneuvering to prevent a full-on crash.  We wanted to learn how to make those little adjustments as we go along, daily, weekly, hourly if need be right at the outset of our journey together so that we don’t ever veer so far off track we ‘crash’ and end up communicating only through lawyers.

The BBQ Sauce Argument simmered down to an intimate mind-to-mind and heart-to-heart conversation about how we look after one another, how well we know each other – and keep getting to know each other day by day.  We talked and talked about how we can bless one another with the tiniest gestures and the conversation ended naturally with a peace-making giggle about the virtues vs. despicableness of BBQ sauce with each side arguing as passionately as the other.

The next morning we laughed and joked about BBQ sauce at every opportunity.. gently soothing away the residual ‘fright’ of having an argument (a fairly rare occurence in our house)… and ironically I had left the slow cooker on all night so the stench still clings to the walls even now – a reminder to us both that the little things DO matter in marriage.  In fact they matter more than the big gestures.

Fancy gifts, expensive holidays, a schedule of compliments – all take second seat to showing them just how well you know your partner, in ways that no one else would know or even care about.  It’s what strikes you both out as separate from the rest of the world.  It’s what distinguishes ‘married to you from ‘around you’.

It’s the little things that magically glue you together as the years grow, like an emerging, beautiful breathtaking mosaic –  creating a strong, colourful and inspiring marriage.

Ps. the big gesture of painting the wardrobe didn’t get done that day..

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