You might think that the author of a book about marriage would be some sort of expert. I’m not; I’m more of a marriage geek. You might also think that the author of a book about marriage would have celebrated at least, say, 30 years of wedded bliss. Benjamin and I haven’t yet hit our fifteenth anniversary, and for a portion of those years I considered “wedded bliss” an oxymoron.

I suspect that one of my primary qualifications to write about marriage is that mine has often been a hard one. They say you learn best from your mistakes. We’ve had loads of opportunities to learn.

These fiascos have given us so much mirth in the years since they’ve somehow become some of my favorite marriage memories – even though they were totally lousy in the moment:

• Most newlyweds experience their first dance as a moment of joy and romance. We didn’t. We quarreled. During our wedding dance. Learn from my mistake, friends: don’t micromanage the way your beloved slow dances in front of all of your friends and family.

• We went all the way to Paris – Paris! – only to fight like cats and dogs. Turns out jet lag and a total lack of French language skills can transfigure the City of Love into the City of Acrimony. We didn’t even bother going to the top of the Eiffel Tower because I was pretty sure we were going to file for divorce as soon as we were stateside.

Wedded bliss

• One time, we realized a little bit too late that we’d forgotten to turn the baby monitor off while we were arguing in the guest room of my parents’ house. At least we weren’t broadcasting an afternoon quickie?

• When I was nursing, I would wake up in the middle of the night famished. I once asked Benjamin to fix me peanut butter toast while I fed the baby. When he presented the plate, my heart sank and my stomach growled: there was nowhere near enough peanut butter smeared on the bread. I asked for more peanut butter, and I got more peanut butter. So much peanut butter that there is absolutely no possibility that it was anything other than a passive aggressive amount of peanut butter.

• There was also that time we tried to paddle around the Redondo Beach Harbor in a two-person kayak. Are you even surprised that it didn’t end well? Maybe some couples are just mean to be in separate kayaks.

We don’t have epic fails nearly as often as we used to, thanks to the grace of God and a skilled marriage counselor. I reckon we could even remain on speaking terms in Paris. We recently built Ikea furniture together without incident!

The lesson we’ve finally managed to learn – other than how to forgive someone seventy-times-seven times – is that kindness really does make all the difference in the world, just like the experts have been saying.

A note from Tsh: Very Married: Field Notes on Love & Fidelity is a marriage book I can get behind: grace-filled; doesn’t take itself more seriously that it ought. It is a book on loving your spouse for “the rest of us”- regular folks working daily liturgies, choosing to witness life with the one for whom we’ve forsaken all others. It is a beautiful treatise on loving the gift of marriage, one I can give to friends without a second glance. Katherine has written a gift.