I wanted to scream, but she was sleeping like an angel. I was shivering like a dog taking a winter bath, and she looked so warm and cozy. We went to bed with the covers equally distributed, but two hours later she had them ALL. This competition over the sheets had not come up during premarital counseling. Nobody warned me about this possibility.
I need sleep. Long periods of uninterrupted Z's. I am totally awed by the people who can function with three hours of sleep, but that's not me. We had only been married a few weeks, yet already I was saying to myself "this is miserable – will it always be this way?" At the altar I said "for better or worse," but I didn't expect the "worse" so quickly.
I had no choice. I had to talk to her about the sheets. The dreaded "conversation" needed to happen.
Step 1: talk about it. At that moment, I learned I might be part of the problem. Wait, what? I'm contributing to the problem?
I don't like Step 1.
Yes, she admitted to stealing the covers, but then she told me something about my covers not being organized properly. She didn't like the way I wrap my feet in the sheets. And she preferred more layers, so she had to keep adding them to her side. And apparently there is a top and bottom to the sheets, but bed linen nuances like that had escaped me up until that point.
And that's how I got my first lesson in marriage about owning my part of the problem. In this situation, it never occurred to me that I might be doing something to cause her frustration. But the longer I've been married, the more I've learned that in most conflicts we both have a part to own. Things go better in marriage when we each own our part of the problem. Matthew 7:3-5,
"And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see pas the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye."
But back to the story. We were both frustrated and discussed a variety of options. We finally arrived at a solution we liked: we needed separate covers! She preferred a layered, structured, thick cocoon, and I preferred a natural, crooked, single sheet. Wonderful! We excitedly shared our solution with friends, but they thought it was weird. Isn't this violating some marriage rule where couples must sleep under the same covers? Probably. The marriage police will be looking for us. Perhaps they won't press charges.
This was the first of many situations over the last 32 years that has required us to work together to practice Romans 12:10,
"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."
I have found that when we serve each other selflessly, it creates an environment where solutions are most easily obtained. We know the other is not trying to rip us off or take advantage of the other. We are FOR each other. Even though I know this, there are times when I simply want my way. I don't want to go through the effort required to work together, so I make demands or unilateral decisions. Do I need to tell you how that goes? Rarely well.
Serving my wife is one of the most difficult things I must do every day. Not because she is not worthy, but because it is so hard for me to look beyond my own needs. Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 9:23
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."
Daily? Ugh. Can I take today off? No. What if she is not serving me well today? No, you still need to serve her. Thank you for the reminder, Lord. Not my will, but Yours.
And in case you're wondering, 32 years later we still sleep with our own covers. Wait, shhh, there's a knock at my door. Turn out the lights. I think it's the marriage police…
Recall one solution to a marriage problem that worked for you and your spouse, but all your friends said you were crazy. Take a minute to laugh about it together and remind yourselves that you are better off working together!