The Secret to a Conflict-Free Relationship (just kidding, I don’t believe in those)

 

A couple nights ago, I was rolling out dough for cinnamon rolls, enjoying the quiet that comes after the little one has been tucked in for the night. I slathered the dough with butter, sprinkled more than enough cinnamon and sugar, hoping the extra helpings would somehow change the whole wheat flour into white. My husband arrived home from work as I sliced and rolled sections of dough and placed them curled in a pan.

He talked about his day and I listened; I don’t like to bake or cook and talk at the same time.

“Thanks for making those,” he said during a pause in the retelling of the day.

“Don’t get your hopes up, they probably won’t be great. We were out of white flour, and this dough rolled out kinda tough,” I shrugged as I placed them in the oven.

“Do you remember what you said, before we got married, about the kind of relationship you wanted us to have?” he asked.

Something about cinnamon rolls? Food? Talking about the little things in our days? I silently raced through random things I might have said, but in the second or two I took to try to remember, he knew I had no idea what he was referring to.

“You said you wanted us to be the kind of couple who always said, “Thank you” to each other. I’ve never forgotten that,” he smiled.

“Oh yeah, yeah…I do remember saying something like that now that you bring it up. It’s a little fuzzy in my memory. But, you know, we are pretty good about saying that, aren’t we?” I rinsed off the cutting board and considered my own advice to our pre-married selves. “Do you think that’s part of the reason we don’t really argue?”

“Maybe,” he said thoughtfully.

***

I’ve been thinking about our conversation a lot the past two days. What’s interesting to me is I’ve long believed in the power of practicing gratitude, but I didn’t realize it had become a habit in my marriage.

Many times I’ve tried to identify why we rarely fight or argue (or whatever you want to call it) because it certainly isn’t from lack of strong opinions or different beliefs or stubbornness; we have more than enough between us. I’ve never been able to come up with an answer that’s satisfied me, but after the conversation in the kitchen, I realized I hadn’t stopped to consider that maybe practicing gratitude on a regular basis had quelled many potential arguments or miscommunication. I think there’s something to it.

There’s a quote I have in a journal, it goes like this, “This is the gift—to have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life.” –Abraham Maslow

The capacity to appreciate again and again or to be critical again and again, it seems so obvious, so simple, but four years into our marriage I’d already forgotten we made it a point to be aware of that choice.

Even though this specific intention has become a habit, I’m glad one of us remembered the time it was only a hope, a piece of conversation, and not yet a part of daily life together.

To more moments of gratitude, *toasts with second-rate cinnamon roll*.

{Thanks for reading today.}