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Passive aggressive peanut butter (& other tales of wedded bliss)

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.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Kathleen

    I found this essay so comforting. My husband and I have been married 12.5 years, together for 16.5 years (and also parents to three young boys). I wouldn’t exactly call our marriage easy either. And I’ve got a similar set of stories to the author’s, moments in our marriage that were supposed to by idyllic that really weren’t. But we’ve stuck by each other, still love each other, and continue to work through things. Looking forward to the new book!

    • Katherine Willis Pershey

      Thanks, Kathleen! Blessings as you continue to faithfully navigate the joys and challenges of marriage.

  2. Susan

    Several years ago my husband & I, while on vacation, took a guided kayak tour; the guide referred to the tandem kayaks as “divorce boats.” So it’s definitely not just you!

  3. Stephanie @ EntreFamily

    Oh Katherine, I’m still loving over the passive aggressive peanut butter. Your stories sound way too familiar. We also have a terrible double-kayak story form our honeymoon (of course). We also thought we might file for divorce upon coming home from Europe. And yet… here we are. 13 years strong and still smiling (most days). I so agree how much of a difference kindness makes. That and the benefit of the doubt. And so much grace. Thanks for sharing. Congrats on your new book!

    • Katherine Willis Pershey

      Thank you! It really does help to laugh at our mistakes. I hope you keep smiling, and laughing, and loving your way through marriage. 🙂

  4. noreen

    I appreciate your honesty in a society that tends to hide behind
    falsehoods of perfection.
    Marriage is hard there is no doubt about it…therefore persevering
    is necessary and enjoy the good times when they present themselves.

  5. Cheryl Ives

    Nice to know my marriage wasn’t so different 🙂

  6. Kara

    My husband and I tried to manage a 2 person kayak on our honeymoon…it didn’t go so well. Everyone else on the outing thought it was hysterical. We have managed 15 years of marriage so far, so we must have done something right! Just this past year I was talking with a friend who had worked in a sporting goods store when he was younger. Apparently 2 person kayaks were known as divorce boats at the store. We are not alone!

    • Katherine Willis Pershey

      Definitely not alone! It’s funny how many similar kayaking stories I’ve heard since I started telling that story!

  7. Theresa Boedeker

    Your stories made me laugh. You sound so married and not just on a date! And isn’t that what married life is about? Trying to figure out how to live with this person who is so opposite of you? Kindness, grace, and forgiveness are necessary every day. Well, and a big sense of humor.

  8. Emily

    I’m really thankful you shared these stories! I have been dating my boyfriend for a couple years now and love to read up on anything to prepare me for marriage, but most of what I read on blogs often talks about marriage as a honey moon/happily ever after story. Knowing that marriage can’t always be like that, it’s really refreshing and helpful to read about stories I can see myself in, and see that those stories are part of a healthy marriage too. Thanks!

  9. Aimee

    Catching up on my podcasts! I know I’m late to the party!

    Thanks for your stories, they were a lot of fun to read. My husband and I went through a lot of stress in our dating phase. Broke up a couple times, moved to a new state and he had a previous very young marriage that created some baggage. Once we were in, we were all in. Marriage was and has been a pretty smooth ride for us. (Although, I’m non-confrontational, but stubborn and easy-going). We joke that we had a lot of the insecurities and fights before tying the knot. We are very similar, except he is an extrovert and I am a social introvert. He had to realize when I retreated to my room after dinner it wasn’t because I didn’t like him, I just needed space. We spend a ton of time together because he’s a professor and entrepreneur that works mostly at home and I work in our business and raise three awesome boys. People sometimes wonder how we spend so much time together, but it works for us. We also have similar views on what marriage and FAMILY means to us.

    I understand that he is a better husband to me than he was to his first wife and that they saw the world differently, but had never lived in the same state nonetheless same house and raised in super religious households which all factored into why they got married when they did. I know divorce isn’t for everybody, but for them and many friends I know who had “starter” marriages without children it’s just a legal break-up.

    I loved listening to your podcast with Tsh and am looking up the book!

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