As a fourth grade teacher last year, we read the book Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech in my classroom. If you’re in my age bracket, I can guarantee that you’ve read it as a ten-year-old. As I read the book aloud to a new generation of ten-year-olds, they grasped onto one of the main themes of the book as strongly as I did: never judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins. Even though I’ve read the book multiple times, this message really hit home on Saturday. As a 25 year old. Finally.
Obviously as a human who cares about other humans, the sentiment still rang true in a general sense since the first read. But, boy, marriage is a different ball game. And, as someone who is very new to marriage I found this message especially poignant.
All week I was looking forward to our trip to Garmisch. We’ll see the beautiful mountain views, walk through the cute town, hike, yadda yadda yadda. Because I don’t have a job on this military base, much of my headspace is used dreaming of what J and I will do during weekends when he doesn’t have to work. I dreamed of moving to Germany for many reasons: to be with my husband more than just a spare few visits a year, and to travel.
You can imagine my reaction when Saturday at noon, J informs me that he doesn’t feel like going to Garmisch today.
He tells me he’s not in the best mood and he doesn’t feel like driving for that long. From previous conversations with him, I was under the impression that Garmisch was under an hour away. He informs me that intel was not correct, Garmisch is, in fact, 3 hours away.
This is a crucial point where I can either:
a) unleash my irrational irritation at him, or
b) find a different plan.
Luckily, I went for the second option.
He jumped in the shower as I researched closeby German towns like a mad woman, taking screenshots and searching distances, trying to find a good alternate to the discarded Garmisch plan. In 20 minutes I had narrowed it down to three options within an hour and a half drive.
Alright, we’re back in business. He came down the stairs, grabbed the keys, and headed for the car. As we’re walking out the front door, J says, “Okay, we’re going to Pottenstein.”
Pottenstein? Where is Pottenstein? That wasn’t part of my research. I could feel my irritation bubbling back to the surface. Not only does he not want to go to Garmisch, our original plan, but we’re not even using my research.
We get in the car, now both of us in a stale, sour mood. Clearly, this will be a pleasant experience. Frustrated, I ask him about his choice.
It turns out that Pottenstein has a mountainside downhill toboggan ride, much like the larger version in Garmisch. This ride being the main draw of Garmisch for him.
I learned that he prefers more of the adventure or nature destinations, while I enjoy architecture and picturesque villages.
I realized that J has not had one minute of alone time since I had arrived a few weeks ago, going to work then home (with me), repeat, repeat, repeat.
All morning I was concentrating on how I can reach my goal of getting out of the house, while I wasn’t thinking of the fact that J had worked all week and is now expected, by me, to maintain the same amount of energy as me. I hadn’t been able to put myself in his moccasins until that singular moment. More than anything, it made me so grateful to have someone like him in my life, someone who has put my needs first everyday since I’ve been here, then was open about needing a break.
After our car conversation, the dam was released and all the irritation and stress that had been building up dissipated. Control was relinquished. Pottenstein ended up being the perfect choice, a balance of the both of us: adrenaline and picturesque German village. And, very importantly, we made sure that once we returned home he got his much needed alone time.
Let me tell you something. The most significant thing that I’ve picked up on from living overseas with my husband, this being first time we’ve ever lived together, is how important it is to understand where the other person is coming from. As a person who, at times, loses track that the world doesn’t revolve around herself, this is so very critical for me to learn.
There will be times when it’s tough to remember those moccasins that don’t belong to me, sitting by the bed next to mine. There will be times I have to remind him about my moccasins. But, at the end of the day, I’m so happy that they live side by side.