On the Side: December 2021
Tigger and Eeyore
by Carol Mason Shrader
The joke in our house is that Tigger married Eeyore. I bounce from idea to idea with romantic notions of how perfectly photographic and memorable things will turn out. My husband does the actual research to determine if the event/location/idea is actually something we can do, achieve, make happen. I want to jump at the idea and be spontaneous, and he wants to research the idea and be prepared for every contingency. My girls and I took a road trip this summer with only a tenuous sketch of a plan. More than once, one or three of us commented on how we wish Dad was with us and had planned the trip. My Tigger needs his Eeyore.
I recently heard someone describe marriage—and relationships in general—as paradoxical. For days now I have been taking that statement apart and thinking it through and discussing it with all who will listen, because there is truth that needs unpacking in that statement, especially in regard to our marriages.
Let me back up: According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, paradox is defined as a situation, person or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.
My best friend since high school is six feet tall, and in walking next to my five-foot, two-inch frame I have no doubt we are the embodiment of a paradox.
Another of my dearest friends is quiet and reserved, a stark contrast to my voice that carries throughout buildings and my need to talk to everyone in the room.
And my husband, my Eeyore, is contemplative, studious, self-disciplined. He gets work done months ahead of time, considers being only five minutes early late and has a sense of direction that rarely requires maps. By contrast, I bounce my feelings out loud, I work best with a deadline fast approaching—or yesterday—and five minutes late is my standard. We won’t discuss how life-changing a phone with GPS was for me!
Listen, in 1988 when our romance began early in our college careers, all those things were wildly attractive to me in Wade. I loved that he was so diligent in getting his work done. I saw him reap the rewards of his steadfast studies and was so proud. I knew exactly when he would arrive for our dates, and I relaxed into the comfort of trusting him to get us wherever we were going.
The paradox was so much of the attraction.
I hope you are tracking with me here, because dear ones, sometimes we forget the beauty of the paradox, we forget the way we are wired to fit together so well and we allow the differences to frustrate, irritate and all too often destroy relationships.
That steadfast attention to his studies translates today in a dedication to his patients, his work and his staff. He does not work a 40-hour week, and there will be things we cannot do as a couple because of that dedication. When I am healthy—emotionally and spiritually—I remember that we chose this together, and this is why I love him. When I am not—when I am neglecting my time alone with God, my emotional well-being—then I resent that he works so many hours, I resent that he didn’t take an easy career, a less-consuming path. The contradictory qualities in our personalities make me irritated instead of grateful.
The Jewish people studied the prophecies of a savior and expected a king in regalia, sitting on a throne. Jesus came as a baby born to a carpenter. A paradox.
When the shepherd was caring for his sheep and one became lost, he left the 99 to find the one. A paradox.
When God has the power to snap His fingers and force our obedience, He gives us free will to choose. When He loved us so much that He sent His son to save us from death by dying. Paradox.
My prayer for you this month is that you will remember the things that drew you to your husband—that you will recognize the paradox and remember that your strengths are woven together to make you stronger as a couple.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV).
In other words, Tigger can only bounce, and dream, because she knows Eeyore will research, and plan, and carve out a safe place for her imaginings. Likewise, Eeyore trusts that I will find the creative ways for him to relax, recover and enjoy life.
Carol Mason Shrader
For years Carol Mason Shrader drug her little family (three preschoolers and the little walker and wheelchair they required) through the snow to satisfy her imaginings of picturesque Christmas tree selections. And yes, she had a camera, a tripod AND the saw to actually get the tree in tow. Today, her wonderful Wade still drives her to the Christmas tree farm. But they have a compromise: he doesn’t complain (too much) about the dozens of photo opportunities she wants, and she doesn’t complain (too much) about choosing a tree from the pre-cut lot.