It didn’t take me too long to realize that my husband Ted wasn’t an either/or sort of guy.
What do I mean by that?
Well, let’s start with hot sauce. If the question arose on whether to buy Texas Pete’s or Frank’s Red Hot, Ted quickly answered, “Both/and.” After all, one can’t have too much hot sauce, right?
Yep, this man I’d married was a both/and kind of fellow. At least in the innocuous matters of everyday life like grocery shopping. Both Texas Pete’s and Frank’s Red Hot. Both yellow corn tortilla chips and blue corn tortilla chips. Both restaurant-style salsa and pico de gallo.
This both/and mentality of his not only affected our Mexican food buying practices, but also matters of feet and queen-sized sheets. You see, we quickly discovered that each of us had a very different idea of the relationship between feet and sheets.
The thing was, Ted’s feet ran hot. Almost fourteen years later, they still do. As a result, he prefers to uncover his feet at night. Before climbing in bed, he walks to the end of the mattress and neatly folds the bottom of the covers up.
My feet run cold. Not only do I prefer to keep them covered at night, but I like to snuggly pull the sheets and blankets up under my feet. Kind of cocoon-ish like.
You’d think that this difference of ours – folding the covers back, tucking them under – would cause fights. And lots of them at that. But it hasn’t. Not once in almost fourteen years.
I kind of am. At least, when I stop and think about it. After all, it’s an argument just waiting to happen, right?
So what’s been our secret to a conflict-free zone in the area of sheets and feet? It’s that both/and philosophy of Ted’s that I mentioned earlier.
Thanks to his influence, we came to the conclusion early on that it didn’t need to be either/or. It didn’t need to be either feet uncovered or feet cocoon-style. Instead, we could both have our individual preference. He could uncover his feet and I could cover mine. Sure, it took some patience as we worked out the “logistics” of it all, but it wasn’t long before we had a system that worked for both of us.
And do you know what we’ve found?
When it comes to those not harmful, not-really-that-important-in-the-scheme-of-things matters of life, every marriage can use some both/and.
The both/ands are those places where you meet in the middle. Where you strike a balance. The places you decide it doesn’t have to be either your way or your spouse’s way. They are the places where you both choose not to pick a battle. Those places where you remind yourselves of the words of James 4:1 about “what causes quarrels and what causes fights among you” and determine not to make something a bigger deal than it is.
Perhaps you don’t have issues with sheets and feet. Maybe you both naturally have cold feet, or maybe hot. But I’m sure there are other areas that immediately come to mind. Areas where you’ve clung too tightly to an either/or mentality. For example, how the dishwasher should be loaded or the proper spot for dirty laundry or even the over/under of toilet paper etiquette. If so, I encourage you to decide to move from that place of either/or to one of both/and.
I could make a list of the areas Ted and I’ve settled in the land of both/and. For me, though, matters of sheets and feet is by far my favorite.
Each night, as I glance toward the end of our bed, I see half of the covers neatly folded up while the other half is snuggly pulled under. It’s a regular, visual reminder that in our marriage it doesn’t always have to be either/or.