5 Things Ice Cream Taught Me About Marriage
In life, there are two kinds of people: those who LOVE chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and those who LOVE brownie batter ice cream. (Am I generalizing here? Maybe a little.)
This was an important piece of information my husband and I hadn't yet realized while we were dating.
We both lived on our college campus as RAs, which meant we could spend an excessive amount of time together with an excessive amount of "points" allotted for our meal plans. It was so whimsical.
And what do you do when you’ve just started dating and you have too much time and fake money on your hands? Well we chose to spend all our whimsical days flirting, playing music, hanging out with friends and eating. (And yes, okay, you're right, making out, too.)
And how did we spend most of our fake money meal plan? Pizza. Parfaits. French fries. and Ice cream. That’s basically it. We also decided to indulge in one of those items on a nightly basis--I'm not going to tell you which one for the sake of our reputation, but it was cold and delicious and full of sugar. (Ahem...it was the ice cream.)
Oh but it wasn't just any ice cream.
It was Ben and Jerry's “Half-Baked” ice cream. Have you tried this glory? It's as if the two best flavors on the planet had a baby--a beautiful, diabetic, chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-and- brownie-batter baby.
For months we would get one pint, two spoons, and share it while we gazed deeply into each others eyes, our love (and love handles) growing by the day.
Ricky always hunted down the brownie batter bites for himself, so I could have most of the cookie dough bites; he thought he was saving the best for me.
However, I always tracked down cookie dough bites for myself, so that he could have most of the brownie batter bites--I thought i was saving the best for him, which I was, obviously.
We each tried to save the bites that we loved the most for the other person. We never explained what we were doing; we just did it.
And then, one fateful day as we were nearing the bottom of yet another pint, I finally asked him, “Hey babe, do you like the cookie dough or the brownie bites better?"
Ricky, with a bewildered look on his face: "Are you kidding?! The cookie dough! It’s the best part!"
"What!?!?" I raised my voice as the light bulb turned on: "So ALL this time, I've been saving brownie bites for YOU, BECAUSE THEY ARE CLEARLY THE BEST PART. And you've been saving cookie dough for ME because you think it’s the best?!?"
We laughed. A lot. And then we got another pint for the sake of celebrating our newfound discovery. And it was the most enjoyable pint we'd ever shared.
Here's what that ice cream experience taught us about relationships (yes, ice cream truly is the gift that keeps on giving):
1. There’s no room for perfection in marriage. In fact, it's okay to let loose and be mildly poor influences on each other, SOMETIMES. Freedom and grace abound: eat the ice cream. Say yes wholeheartedly for the experience (but if you’re in, you’re in, no guilt allowed), and then you are more freed up to say no wholeheartedly other times--don’t give a half-hearted, half-guilty yes. I say that as a personal trainer, so it’s fine (ha.) Every now and then, eating the ice cream one day helps you remember why you don't eat the ice cream every day (tastes good; doesn't feel great.) We were young and in love and we'll never eat a pint-per-night ever again. But the memories (and cavities!) will last a lifetime. Choose experiences together over perfection together.
2. Share as often as you can. Be inconvenienced by sharing; go out of your way to do it. Yep, I just said that--be inconvenienced by sharing. If we would have simply bought a pint each, we would have missed out on the opportunity to practice sharing in small ways, like ice cream, which makes it easier to share in big ways (like holidays and space on the bed and pursuing dreams.) Sound crazy? It’s not. Share the little things often to cultivate a relationship and culture of sharing the big things often, too.
3. Coincidentally, we got a pint of Ben and Jerry’s non-dairy brownie batter a couple days ago to treat ourselves after a round of whole30. We each had a couple bites and then put it in the freezer (oh, how far we’ve come.) Multiple times over the last couple days, I’ve opened the freezer while Ricky’s at work and wanted to have a bite of that ice cream. I’ve even pulled it out intending on doing so. But I keep thinking about Ricky every time I do. I think about how much sweeter it would be to sit on the couch with him after a long day, when our daughter is fast asleep, and share the pint, share the moment. So I put it back.
I love the positive emotions and memories I have associated with that ice cream. It sets me up for thinking about my husband throughout the day. The more I think about him, the closer I feel to him. And when we have children and jobs and all the craziness, sometimes just thinking about each other and feeling close feels like a luxury we don’t have time for aside from the occasional date night.
4. Assumptions about our spouse are just as lethal as affairs. Okay...that's dramatic. Maybe not THAT lethal. But they are pretty dangerous and can quickly domino effect into other problems. When we assume what the other wants or doesnt want, thinks or doesn’t think, and so on without actually asking, it's like walking in a minefield--eventually you’ll step on one and get injured. Don’t assume. Ask. And answer honestly when you’re asked. Ricky and I live by the rule that lovingly over-communicating is always king.
5. I’m sure you already picked up on this, but the main takeaway here is that communication is key. And not just communication either, because we communicate all day long whether intentional or not. But HONEST, transparent, uplifting, same-team communication, is key. I have seen relationships end over easily avoidable gaps in communication where assumptions were made but thoughts were never spoken. No one is a mind reader (as much as I expected Ricky to be one during our first year of marriage - that didn’t last long). We can only be held accountable for or base expectations off of the things we actually say.
6. Ice cream saves marriages. Specifically brownie batter.
...And chocolate chip cookie dough, too. I guess.
*heading image from @mandinelson_*