Don’t cry over spilled milk

I’m not proud to admit that I have, in fact, cried over spilled milk. At least once. I’m even less proud to admit that this weekend, I fought with my husband … over a stick of butter. Of course, butter wasn’t the real issue, just as it wasn’t the spill or the milk that made me cry. In the milk incident, knocking over a glass full of skim was simply the last straw (so to speak) of a day-long string of frustrations. At that point, what’s there to do but cry over spilled milk?

The infamous butter battle began innocently enough. We were headed out the door, already a little late, and I was grabbing ingredients to make fresh garlic bread at our friends’ house, our contribution to the dinner potluck. I held up about three tablespoons of a stick of butter and asked if Will thought that was enough.

The butter battle
He wanted to bring the whole stick. I said that was wasteful. He said I was being stupid. I exploded at the perceived verbal abuse. And so on, and so on. We ended up fuming all the way to the dinner, snapping at each other in the car with our friends (they’re married; they get it) and not making up until the next day.

Every married couple I know has their “butter battles.” The toothpaste cap, the rinsing (or not) of an empty milk jug, the most logical placement of a toilet plunger … these are domestic battlefields upon which many a spousal war has been waged. I can’t quite laugh about it – yet. But I can step back far enough to separate the butter battle from  the real issues: Will’s behind on studying for next Monday’s test, I had the worst workweek in years, we don’t see enough of each other.

Marriage = sacrifice
Compared to most of the world, we live an outrageously blessed and happy life. Complaining about my life does sound a little like crying over spilled milk – I get that. But medical school is no float down the lazy river. For a marriage to survive these four years, and the years of residency that await, it takes some sacrifice from both spouses. Me giving up the desire to have a “normal” husband who works 9-5 and can spend evenings and weekends hanging out. Will sacrificing the straight A’s he’s used to, and settling for B’s so we can have a sliver of a social life.

Sure, we may have to make a few more sacrifices than your average 20-somethings. But strong marriages are based on sacrifice, learning to meet the needs of another person and to put yours aside. Those are lessons we all could use.

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One Response to Don’t cry over spilled milk

  1. Lauren says:

    Oh my how I appreciate this post. And how true. C and I, when we were first married and living together in that first month, got in a fight over chocolate chip cookies and butter. His WHOLE life, his mom has only ever used one stick (of the required 2) in regular chocolate chip cookies. I, on the other hand, the avid Food Network connoisseur, know not to screw with baking recipes.

    So we fought over the amount of butter to go into the cookies. And we agreed to disagree for months until we came to the compromise of one real stick of butter, half a cup of Smart Balance.

    But the thing is, similar to what you’re saying, most arguments in a medical household are rarely about the topic at hand. They are the result of not enough time together and not enough time to study, and so on and so forth, and then the butter becomes the battleground for the moment. But in the end, it is all about sacrificing for one another and compromise to make the best of every situation.

    Love, love this post/story/lesson.

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