It wasn’t an important fight. It never really was. They had managed to talk through all of the important issues–religion, politics, whether they wanted children or not. Little things that never seem to matter are what really gave this young couple their troubles.
“It’s just cereal! What’s the big deal?” the young husband said.
“I know, I know. It’s not a big deal. It’s just that…” his beautiful wife trailed off as she tried to find her words. “You always get upset about money… Its just so much cereal, you don’t need that much.”
“I was hungry. I haven’t eaten all day.”
“Yeah, but there are other things you can eat. All I eat for breakfast is cereal. We can’t keep buying more cereal.”
He looked up from his concoction of peanut butter and whole-grain-Cheerios knockoffs. Shook his head. Looked back down and raised his spoon to his mouth. He paused, shook his head again, and lowered the spoon.
“It’s just cereal. I don’t know what the problem is.” He looked up and thought about saying something else before he gave up on the idea and began to eat.
“I know it’s not a big deal!” she shouted, “I just… It’s just… I’m not trying to upset you. I always make you so angry. I’m sorry.”
She looked like she was ready for anything. Skinny jeans, black T-shirt, hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. She had a messenger bag thrown over her head and across her shoulder. With all of it, she still looked unkempt. It was in how she was carrying herself–the way her face looked as though she was trying too hard to appear anything but upset.
The two of them, together, were remarkably better than either one of them on their own.
He was as detached from life as any sane person could be. Any news he heard, whether good or bad, just entered his mind as a list of facts. He analyzed which facts were important to him and which ones weren’t. He acted as he thought was necessary. He didn’t often get happy about the news or sad about the news; he rarely got angry about anything serious.
On the other hand, his wife could become uncontainably emotional about things, all on her own. The simple repetitiveness of college life often brought her to her breaking point. As much as she missed her family dearly while away at school, she also couldn’t handle extended visits. They always made her feel like a child again–incapable and burdensome.
Between the two of them, she had a much greater handle on humanity, and he was much more adept at logically coming to simple conclusions about commonplace problems. Her humanity was his salvation, and his steady mind rescued her on countless occasions.
Only three people in his life were able to challenge his way of thinking–his analytical, logical, disconnected way of thinking. She was the only one that he had chosen. His mother and his son were both able to cause great joy and pain in him, but they were his blood, his body, his family. She was his wife, he chose her. This decision was unlike all of the others he’d made: it wasn’t about risk and reward, and it wasn’t about what would be able to help him in the long run. It was about her. He wanted her, to be with her. So he made that decision. He chose to be with her.
It could be argued that her decision was helped along quite a bit. She wasn’t naturally as thought out as he was, and because of this, making an emotionally driven decision was easier. She never understood him. She knew how analytical he was and how little effort he needed to use in order to make finite, logical decisions. She could never explain to herself why somebody so logical would choose her–she didn’t feel particularly special or as though she would be able to fulfill whatever thoughts he had of her in his mind. She convinced herself that there was something he saw in her that wasn’t actually there.
He didn’t. He didn’t see anything in her that wasn’t there. There wasn’t anything extra that went into his decision. Choosing to marry her was not about being able to gain anything. There was no balancing act in his thought process about the challenges that he would, or might, face in order to gain great wealth, a beauty-queen wife, or anything of the sort. He wanted to be with her, and that was all there was to it.
“I’m just trying to help.” she started again, “Eggs have been making me sick lately, and if I have oatmeal, it’s just too much. All I eat is cereal, and you eat so much of it.”
She began to tear up.
“I don’t even know when the last time I ate cereal was. A week ago?” He was not hiding his frustration well. “It’s just cereal. We just got two new boxes. It’s not going to run out.”
“Yeah, but when you eat it, you eat so much of it. I just opened that box yester–”
“And this is the first of it that I’ve had.” he interrupted.
“Fine! It’s fine. I’m just gonna go out for a while.” Her words were slow and got quieter as she spoke.
Her shoulders were dropped back. The bag she carried seemed to weigh heavier on her than it had before. Her ponytail was no longer as tight as it had once been. She looked as she felt–defeated.
“No. No, I’m sorry.” He began. “I don’t want you to leave.”
“All I do is upset you.”
“You aren’t upsetting me. I’m fine. I just don’t know why it’s such a big deal.”
“It’s not a big deal. It’s fine. I think I’m just going to go write for a little bit.” She didn’t feel fine. She knew it had become a bigger deal than she had meant it to be.
He sat in silence and looked at his food as she walked out of their tiny apartment. He thought of how trivial the fight was. It was nothing serious at all. It was about cereal. Cereal. That’s all it was.
He was her rock, and she was his river. She let him know he was still human, still sane, still capable of having proper feelings for another person. He saw himself in her eyes and liked the person he saw. He saw a person smiling a genuine smile. He wasn’t smiling because he knew it was the socially acceptable thing to do, as per usual. It wasn’t because he felt that if he didn’t, she would be uncomfortable with him. It wasn’t an impulsive smile that resulted from seeing or hearing something funny. He smiled because it was her eyes that he saw himself in, because it was her eyes that he was always able to look upon, and it was her eyes that unfailingly looked back on him. He loved her because he chose to, and he chose to because it was the only choice that he could make.