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Fort Smith
Sunday, April 14, 2024

For Better Or Worse


Every since I was a little girl, I have always loved old things, antiques, and had a fascination with the “old ways of life.” I would sit and listen to stories from my Grandma Schlinker, Aunts, and Uncles anytime they talked about “how things use to be.” I would carefully watch my Grandma cook, garden, and stitch things. So, when I first got married, I had this picture perfect idea in my head of how everything was going to be and what our home would look like. I wanted our marriage modeled just like my grandparents. I had envisioned me having supper on the table when he came home from work, a spotless house, a garden in the back yard, Sunday dinners, and the sweetest kids playing in the front yard.

As soon as the honeymoon was over, I soon realized reality. Although I had married my best friend, he was messy with the toothpaste, snored really loud and didn’t like vegetables so gardening was not his favorite thing to do. He soon realized I needed to learn how to cook, and I looked completely different without makeup. He realized I was too tired after church to cook lunch and would much rather go out to eat, and after four kids, keeping a clean house and laundry caught up seems near impossible.

The first week we were married, I’ll never forget the first meal I tried to cook. I wanted to make something just like I knew my Grandma would cook. So, I decided on fried chicken. I went to the store and purchased the biggest chicken fryer breasts I could find, a sack of white russet potatoes, a box of macaroni and cheese, and a can of biscuits. I got home and went to work, and I wanted to make sure I had supper ready and on the table once my husband got home from work.

After making up the best flour batter with some good spices, I dipped the chicken in egg to coat the chicken heavily in batter. I even did a double dip to have extra crust. After all, when I eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken, I always order the extra crispy chicken instead of the original. Then, I peeled my potatoes to get ready to make homemade mashed potatoes. My husband had already told me that his momma never made box potatoes. She had always made homemade mashed potatoes. Loving him so much and excited to make a big dinner for us, I wanted everything to be perfect. Therefore, I planned to make the dinner all from scratch except for the biscuits that were from the can. In fact, I had even bought stuff to make a chocolate pudding box pie since I knew my love’s favorite pie was chocolate.

Y’all! The whole time I was peeling potatoes, I was smiling from ear to ear knowing that this meal was going to be fit for a King. I had my music playing on my radio, and slight grove going on to the beat, and I was at work in my element of stepping back in time. I peeled each potato and put them into a bath of hot water into a large pot. I didn’t place the potatoes on the stove just yet because I assumed they would boil fast just like boiling an egg. So, I went to making my chocolate pudding pie. I opened the box of chocolate pudding and added the amount of milk it called for. Then, I added it to a ready-made graham cracker crust, placed a lid on it, and returned it to the refrigerator to chill and set. Next, I put the chicken on high to fry and the pot of potatoes on the burner to boil.

The chicken started to brown fast, and the aroma in the kitchen was soon filled with a southern scent of childhood memories. The potatoes came to a boil and the water rumbled as it continued to cook. Within fifteen minutes, the chicken was golden brown, and I pulled it from the skillet to dry on paper towels. I placed the fried chicken in the microwave to keep warm while I kept boiling potatoes. I placed the macaroni on to boil and the biscuits in the oven to bake. I still couldn’t help but to smile. I was so excited for my love to get home from work.

The time kept ticking away, but I realized the potatoes weren’t softening. I finished up the macaroni, and I kept the burner on low to keep it warm while I waited patiently on the potatoes. My timer went off , and I pulled the biscuits out of the oven. I placed them on the back burner and covered them hoping to keep in some heat. However, the potatoes still were not softening.

My sweetheart arrived home, and he greeted me with a kiss. “Smells so good! Whatcha cooking?” he asked. With a big smile, I told him, “Fried chicken and mashed potatoes.” He went to clean up for supper, so I made us glasses of sweet tea while I kept waiting for the potatoes to cook. He didn’t seem to mind that I wasn’t just quite ready yet to eat, but I was getting nervous that this delicious dinner was not going to go as planned. We sat at the kitchen table and talked about his day. Finally, about thirty minutes of him being home, I apologized and told him I wasn’t quite sure the potatoes were not cooking. He, on the other hand, was not worried all. He went outside to feed the dogs while I tried to hurry up and finish up . I was so confused. I could not figure out for the life of me why the chicken cooked so fast, the potatoes were taking so long, and now my mac and cheese was sticking to the pot because it had set so long on the stove.

He returned from outside, and by this time, we were both starving. He had been home for over an hour, and we just decided to eat what I had already cooked and forget about the potatoes. I made us a plate of cold fried chicken even though I tried to do a 30 second warm up in the microwave. I gave us each a scoop of sticky half burnt macaroni and cheese along with a cold biscuit that was now burnt on the bottom from leaving it on the back burner while the oven was cooling down.

While we left the potatoes on to boil and had our plates made, we sat down with what we had and bowed our heads to bless the food. We got ready to dig in, and the minute I used my fork to pull back some crust on my deliciously looking fried chicken, my stomach did an instant flip and a flop of disgust as blood began to seep out of the seams of the chicken meat. The fried chicken cooked on high had made it’s outside crispy and golden, but it was completely raw on the inside. I wanted to cry! I quickly went to the stove and turned my skillet of grease back on and thought I could try to cook it a little more. I kept apologizing over and over to my husband. He kept saying, “Don’t worry! It’s fine!” and he would try to take a bite of the raw chicken. I immediately stopped him in fear that he would get sick from trying to eat the fried chicken.

So, now we sat there trying to eat the sticky burnt macaroni and cheese and bottom burnt biscuits, and he said, “Well, surely the potatoes are about done so we can eat those too. We’ll be just fine.” He was just the sweetest trying to make me feel better since I had tears in my eyes. I got up to check on the potatoes, and they were still so hard and still not able to smush. I finally broke down and called my momma. I explained to her step by step what I had done to the chicken and then my problem with the potatoes. She replies, “Kimberly, you mean you put whole potatoes in the pot to boil?” “Yes, Momma. I did it just like you said. I peeled them and put them on to boil.” She laughed and said, “Honey, you are suppose to chop the potatoes up into cubes. You don’t boil whole potatoes. Ain’t no telling how long that’s going to take with five large potatoes in a pot!”

By this time, I had tears streaming down, because nothing about this dinner was going right. My sweet husband came up behind me while I stared at the stove in dismay and wrapped his arms around me, and said, “Honey, it’s ok. How about we eat some of that chocolate pie that you said you made?”

So, I go to the refrigerator to pull out the pie, and I cut us both a slice of pie and pour him a glass of cold milk. We sit down to eat pie for supper since everything else had been a disaster so far. He takes a bite and I can tell by his facial expression. It was not what he was expecting. Slowly, he continued to eat the pie without saying a word. I knew something was wrong but at this point I was afraid to ask since everything else had already went wrong. Finally, I could not take it any longer and I asked, “Honey, is something wrong with the pie? I thought chocolate was your favorite?” Hesitantly, he said, “Oh it’s fine. I just wasn’t expecting this kind.” I replied, “What do you mean, ‘this kind?'” I could tell he didn’t want to answer my questions, but I kept prodding until he finally answered, “Well, I thought when you said chocolate pie, it was a homemade pie like my mom makes. This one is a box pie.”

At this moment in time in our marriage, we learned so much! I will never forget this first meal. It did not end well, because I got my feelings hurt about the pie and my emotions were all over the place since I had ruined our supper not knowing how to cook fried chicken or make homemade mashed potatoes. My husband tried his best to make me smile after all the disastrous mess in the kitchen.

In August, we celebrated our 12th anniversary. I have come to realize a perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. Tommy Jay and I have never had that perfect marriage or the fairy tale story that I had dreamed about, but we love each other so much. We have went through so much together. We have went through the death of a child when we miscarried, the death of our grandparents, and the death of my brother. We have went through one of our kids suffering a major illness that ended up with days upon days spent in the hospital. We have went through jealously issues and money problems. We have went through a lot.

I decided a long time ago, marriage can’t be about “me” but it has to be about “us.” So, sometimes that means I have to let him win the argument. Sometimes, I have to let it slide if he leaves his socks on the floor beside the recliner with his cup still setting on the end table. Sometimes, I have to just deal with his gigantic snoring problems and try to fall asleep before him. I could pick out all his faults and be mad in a minute, but I could also pick out all his wonderful attributes and realized I’m blessed way beyond I could have ever imagined. He loves me so much he was willing to eat raw chicken and boxed chocolate pie!

I’m sure if you asked him my faults he could give you a list a mile long. I talk to much but he still listens. I am a softy, meaning I cry a lot, and he just bears it in love. I have crazy ideas and activities planned all the time as a family, and he goes with the flow as long as I plan on somewhere good to eat! I am never caught up on laundry, and somehow this man still loves me.

Do we argue? Yes
Do we ignore each other sometimes? Yes
Do we get frustrated with each other at times? Yes!
Does he annoy me at times or do I annoy him? YES!
Have we fought over money and bills? Yes. What couple hasn’t??
Have we had arguments over jealousy ? YEP….
Have we fought over how to raise the kids? Yessssss

If you can answer yes to all of these questions about your spouse too…guess what? You have a normal marriage too! This is stuff that just comes with life. However, does he love me and do I love him? Yes!

You just have to realize marriage really is for better or worse.
It’s not about throwing in the towel if it doesn’t work. Don’t give up!
Pray through it. Lord knows, I have had to do this! DON’T GIVE UP! I’ve always been told, “a couple who prays together stays together.”

My husband is literally my best friend. As each year passes, we learn more about each other. It was not easy the first year of marriage, but we did not give up on each other. So, my advice, marry your best friend. Pick someone who is your best friend to do life with. I think sometimes we go searching for that fairy tale love and forget that we have to have compatibility for a marriage to work.

Think hard before you get married to make it last a life time.  Let God lead you instead of your desires leading your decisions. Today society goes against most standards of marriage set from our ancestors. So, you have to decide before you ever say, “I do,” is this what I really want? Do I really want a life time commitment? Some days, you may not feel like you are madly in love. Some days, you may not feel like cooking fried chicken. Some days, you may feel like you just need a minute alone to gather your thoughts. No matter what the day may bring, just remember, it will always be better doing life with your best friend than doing it alone. If your marriage has been on the rocks, and you do not know what to do, ask others what their secret to marriage is and seek advice from people who have been married for years. Those with experience can offer a wealth of wisdom. Lastly and most of all, place God first in all that you do, and you might want to learn how to cook fried chicken, real mashed potatoes, and a real chocolate pie! You never know when you might just need that wealth of knowledge too!

1 Corinthians Chapter 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends…

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