By Shannon Ralph
Reason #7: The united front.
There are times in any marriage when “teamwork” is put to the test. This is especially true if you also happen to be parents. If your children are anything like mine, they will try with every bit of might they have in their scrawny little bodies to drive a wedge between their parents. To divide and conquer. To drive a wedge into the very heart of everything that makes you a married couple.
Sometimes their tactics are pathetically obvious. “Mom said I can’t have a cookie and I don’t think that’s fair. What do you think?” Yea buddy….right. At other times, their schemes are fairly sophisticated. As a married couple—regardless of the level of attack—we must stand firm. We are a team. We must present a united front to the children.
If I say to my son, Nicholas, “As your consequence, you are not allowed to play the Wii for a week,” Ruanita is bound by the unspoken laws of marriage to back me up. To agree to my selected punishment for our child’s misbehaving. Despite the fact that Nicholas’s one hour of Wii time each day is the only respite we get from his constant banal chatter, Ruanita will comply. She may not agree completely with my decision. She may wish I had never spoken those words. But she will back me up. She will enforce the consequence even when I am not around.
No matter what crazy shit I come up with in the heat of the moment, Ruanita will have my back one hundred percent. “Sophie Elizabeth, you are not allowed to have sweets for the next year!” Ruanita will be standing right behind me pointing her finger at Sophie saying, “Yea….what your mom said! No Christmas candy! No Easter! No Halloween! You’re not even getting a birthday cake this year, missy!” If I were to yell, “Lucas Matthew, you are not allowed out of your room for the next six months!” Ruanita would immediately begin compiling lesson plans to home-school our child despite our both being completely befuddled by 4th grade math. If I happened to scream, in a fit of rage, “Nicholas Arnold, you are not allowed to breathe the air in the living room for the next week!” Ruanita would probably look at me strangely, but she would be on the internet fast as a whip looking for the nearest gas mask vendor in the metro area. If I declare it—particularly if I declare it using middle names—she supports it. And when I inevitably realize how absolutely ridiculous and morally questionable and probably illegal my punishment is and I amend it, she will support that decision, as well.
This unconditional support goes the other way, too. Just last week, Lucas found this out the hard way. On a particularly cranky day, Lucas had the absence of judgment to call me “lazy” for “always” being on my laptop. It was rather absurd because I was working from home at the time, so I had to be on my laptop. I fussed at him and left it at that. I admit that I was a wee bit hurt because, dammit, I do a lot of crap I don’t like doing for him and he thanks me by calling me lazy?! Ruanita was working at the time and I mentioned it to her on the phone that evening after the kids had gone to bed. Whereas I was hurt, Ruanita was pissed. The next day, Ruanita made Lucas sit down and write out several ways in which his momma is NOT lazy. This was an ideal consequence because 1.) Lucas hates to write, and 2.) He needed to acknowledge all of the things I do for him that are decidedly un-lazy. I also suspect that Ruanita reamed him pretty good because I got an unsolicited apology and a hug when I got home from work the following day. Lucas felt the full brunt of the united front. Ruanita, in no uncertain terms, had my back.
The united front is one more way that my marriage is just like your marriage.