Last week my wife and I had a fight. You might have called it a “spat.” Whatever you name it, it wasn’t good. Disagreement was sharp. Voices rose to a higher pitch than usual and grew much louder than necessary. They certainly didn’t have a pleasant ring to them.

For the life of me, I can’t remember what the quarrel was about; but I know I was right. And I know my wife was dead wrong. Usually Ruth is more honest about these matters than I am, but not this time. She wouldn’t admit she was in any way mistaken and stubbornly insisted that I was the one in the wrong.

The irony of the matter is that later on that same day Ruth and I appeared on a live television broadcast to discuss ways to solve marriage problems. The show’s host presented us as an ideal couple—happily married, he said, for 53 years.

Well, part of that is true. We are not an ideal couple; but we have been happily married for 53 years, and it gets better every year. If we both live to be a hundred, we might even approach that mythical state of the ideal couple. But we’re not there yet.

Two strong-willed people of independent minds and deep convictions about what is right and wrong can hardly fail to clash at times. When two married people tell me they never quarreled or disagreed, my first reaction is to doubt their honesty. My second reaction is to conclude that one or both of them must be a milquetoast. I am not saying their sanctification could not have arrived at this ideal state, but I am convinced that if that occurs at all, it is extraordinarily rare.

The television panel allowed time for discussion. “Do you ever quarrel or disagree?” the moderator asked.

“Yes, of course.” (What else could we say in the light of events earlier in the day.)

“What do you do about ...

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