I have a friend whose wife caught him hiding bananas in the garage. Turns out she hates bananas and cannot stand to have them in the house. But he loves bananas, so he sneaks out like a thief and gobbles them up when she’s not looking. Or, at least, he thinks she’s not looking.
Another friend hides mayonnaise in his office where his wife is not likely to find it.
These stories resonate with most married people because we’ve all discovered irrational quirks and peeves our partner has– which make no sense to us—yet we honor them and respect their insanity.
Except we also have that same insanity. Every one of us is weird in some way (or many ways). President Russell M. Nelson said, “Every marriage starts with two built-in handicaps. It involves two imperfect people.”
Here’s one of my fears. I’m scared of eating whole cherry tomatoes. As a kid I was told they were really cherry bombs, and that if you bite one, it squirts tomato juice down your wind pipe and chokes you.
Even worse, my fear has been confirmed by several people who’ve said, “I’ve had that happen!” This does not argue in favor of forsaking my phobia. It’s crazy, I know it, yet I cannot bring myself to eat one.
I have another friend who won’t eat eggs because her brother told her it’s another form of chicken poop, pardon my barnyard French.
One is scared to sleep with her ears uncovered lest something creepy crawl into them (scary movies seen at a tender age, rather than siblings, are the culprit here).
Add to this, several other discoveries that come down the windpipe, I mean pike. It seems that if marriage is ordained of God, then we need to prepare for surprises. Not even the best marriages are without a few raised eyebrows.
If you’re already married, you may have learned this dance. But if you’re not yet hitched, you might decide to have a Banana Plan. This means you hold no illusions that your spouse will have all your same opinions, tastes, and ideas. You know they’ll surprise you by wanting to paint a pink flamingo on the family van one day (not that Bob and I had a minor row over this).
And you decide ahead of time that you’re going to allow twenty or thirty of these. When one crops up, you simply smile and roll with the avocado punch.
Too many people get far too wound up about things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Taking the wide view can save many a marriage when we realize that some things simply won’t be in the next life, even though they may plague us in this one.
Some spouses keep running lists of all the foibles packed tightly into the one they married. Some try to “cure” their partner, rationalizing that it’s to make them a better person. (Was that better or bitter?)
President Gordon B. Hinckley often urged us to look for the positive and stop being critical. “Carry on,” he said. “If you keep trying and praying and working, things will work out. They always do. If you want to die at an early age, dwell on the negative. Accentuate the positive and you’ll be around for awhile.”
He also quoted columnist Jenkin Lloyd Jones who said, “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
These “crazy” characteristics can even provide the spice and humor a marriage needs. My husband loves his mini pocket knife. He wants to use it every time a box or package arrives, and in dozens of other situations. Does it cut faster and more efficiently than other options? No. But so what? It delights him. When the tiny knife was taken away at an airport one time, you would have thought the world was ending (he got a new one).
He also loves to wander into the kitchen and sample so much of what I’m making that it throws off the recipe. But is this worth arguing about? I’m just glad he likes my cooking.
I have so many quirks I sometimes wonder if I have non-quirks. I always turn the wrong way and have to be herded back to exit a building, I jump from topic to topic “like a TV remote,” and can’t resist baby-talking to pets. But Bob tolerates all of them. And, when you see your spouse cater to your whim, it actually becomes a sign of affection, of truly being known, and truly loved. What started as a flaw became endearing.
This Banana Plan can even apply to disagreements that would otherwise become contentious. Why not step back and decide to let your spouse have this one? President Nelson has said, “Differences of opinion may occur between husband and wife. But one’s objective in marriage is never to win an argument, but to build an eternal relationship of love.”
That’s wise counsel. So let your spouse wear the goofy T-shirt, decorate early for Christmas, tell silly jokes that they forgot they already told, choose the car’s radio station, and hide the bananas.
Joni Hilton is a Latter-day Saint author, Seminary teacher, and shares life hacks at http://bit.ly/YourYouTubeMom.