Archived Opinion

Love, marriage ... and a sharp paring knife

op barbeeThe other night I cut a skin tag off my husband’s face with a really sharp paring knife and some tweezers. I used peppermint essential oil to numb and rubbing alcohol to cleanse. Our 7-year old held a flashlight so I could see and our 4-year old looked on in amazement. 

That skin tag has been driving me crazy for years, and I was so happy to get it off. He looks 10 years younger without it. 

This is love and marriage, my friends. 

A young girl can’t fully perceive what her life will be like once she is married. An immature brain can’t really envision anything past the wedding day because life is messy and complicated while a wedding is easy and predictable. 

When I first met my husband 11 years ago, we were both working at Canton Middle School. He asked me to attend a Robert Earl Keen concert at The Orange Peel in Asheville. I had never heard of this Austin, Texas, singer-songwriter. At the time, I was listening to a lot of Iron & Wine, Coldplay, Radiohead and other depressing music. 

Before the concert, we decided we should go on a regular date. I was living in West Asheville with two roommates so after driving to my house, he and I walked to Westville Pub on Haywood Road. We talked and giggled and awkwardly brushed arms, not really sure if we should physically touch quite yet. 

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A couple of weeks later we went to the Robert Earl Keen concert. My eyes were opened to this very talented musician and I’ve been a fan ever since. We still play his music all the time. His distinctive voice was the one that crooned as we danced our first dance as a married couple. 

Often times, if we’re fighting or going through a rough patch, I listen to his music to bring me back to center and transport me to a time when we were first falling in love. 

We married at Chip’s Chapel out at Camp Daniel Boone. As an Eagle Scout and lifelong member of Boy Scouts of America, this is a special place to my husband. I wanted to get married outside so this location was perfect. We fancied up the rustic atmosphere and the camp ranger (also an ordained minister) married us. 

We went to Charleston for our honeymoon. 

Then we came home as a married couple. And that’s when life really began. Not a life flavored with concerts and festivals and honeymoons and vacations. 

But real life. 

Gritty, honest, raw, beautiful married life. 

Over the past 11 years of being together and eight years of marriage, we have had extraordinary peaks and extreme lows. We’ve gone to the edge and back. 

I recently read a quote from one of my favorite authors and speakers, Cheryl Strayed. 

She says, “Our most meaningful relationships are often those that continued beyond the juncture at which they came closest to ending.”

I couldn’t agree more. When a marriage is crumbling and both people commit to salvaging it, amazing things can happen. Having “the edge” as a point of reference is very helpful in the fight. No one wants to end up on the edge twice.  

It takes effort, vulnerability, compromise, kindness, respect, understanding, communication and compassion. We often give these intangible gifts to our parents, our children, our friends. Do our partners in life not deserve the same?

I’ve finally figured out that they do. 

Remember the 1980s movie “Dirty Dancing’? We listened to the soundtrack the other night and had a kitchen dance party. We told the boys about the movie and reminisced about different scenes in this classic flick. 

Later I said, “If that movie was reality, you would have been the guy with the bullhorn ensuring everyone was at the correct extracurricular activity and I would have been hanging out with Penny and Johnny and the other dirty dancers.”

He laughed and said, “That is so true. How did I end up with a dirty dancer?” 

I think I have the answer. 

Sometimes I wish my husband was more of a thinker or more spontaneous or more complicated. I wish he would listen more intently or “get” me. Blah, blah and more sappy girly blah, blah. 

But in truth, one dirty dancer with another dirty dancer never ends in happily ever after. 

This girl needed the guy with a bullhorn to rein her in and foster a sense of peace and comfort. And my husband definitely needed a dirty dancer to chill him out and offer some adventure to his life. 

Love and marriage isn’t easy. It isn’t simple. It isn’t predictable. 

But then again, what great things in life are? 

(Susanna Barbee lives in Haywood County and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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