My husband and I have been married for almost fifteen years now. I know, it’s not as long as some, but we met when I was twenty, and got married when I was twenty-two, so that’s basically all of my adult life. Many, many moons later, we’re still together, and, as far as I know, have no plans to part (right husband? And don’t lie to me–I know where you live!).
My friends have often commented that they would like to be a fly on the wall of our house, just to listen to our conversations. I take this as a compliment; maybe it’s not. See, Husband is the smartest, funniest person I know, and I’m… uh… zany. You might say that some of the things that fly out of my mouth are kooky.
But today, Husband and I were tested by, of all things, a toilet.
What was but a little tiny bump in the floor after a leaky toilet incident turned into a big hole in the floor, the question of whether we’d have to tear out the garage or could leave it alone, and ginormous, super hot fans in my bathroom. Which is awesome, since I’m sure Mercury’s core would feel perfectly temperate compared to the weather outside. My toilet is, as I write this, sitting in my shower. The perfect place for a toilet, right? I always wanted a place to sit in the shower, but I’d envisioned a shower bench, not a toilet. I suppose gray won’t be the only thing I’ll need to wash right out of my hair.
Not to mention, we don’t exactly have the money lying around for major renovations.
Needless to say, I’m pretty upset. So while my friends might want to be a fly on the wall to listen to our conversations, I’m relatively certain that’s not a wish on the part of the guys who came to fix the floor. They may have wanted to disappear into the hole they cut into my floor. Actually, I don’t know how much they noticed. It was a lot of muttered snarkiness and casting of the evil eye, low-pitched bickering and gritted teeth. We’re not screamers.
Now, you might wonder what a leaky toilet, a bickering couple, and writing all have in common. I’ll get there.
No relationship is without its troubles, but not all fights end in a stormy breakup, or are even over something big, like an affair, or problem gambling, or whatever. Sometimes, a couple will bicker like hens over a stupid toilet. It’s not what they fight about that’s important. It’s how they fight that is.
When my characters fight, no matter how troubling the argument, I will throw in some humor. Mostly because I personally don’t know how to fight without it. Even if it’s something stupid and immature, at some point, one of us will laugh. Today, I knew our argument was over when I scowled, screwed my eyes shut like a two-year old, and stuck out my tongue.
And Husband laughed.
Humor is important to weave into the most serious of manuscripts. No life is without humor. It’s the funny moments that endear our characters to our readers, and make our readers care about what happens to them, so that when the fight does happen, our reader is yelling at the pages, “But you’re perfect for one another! What are you thinking?” Or, when we write something really dramatic, that our readers are crying right along with the characters.
Drama alone won’t bring a reader to tears. For me to care about a character, truly care, I have to see his or her heart. It’s in the way he loves, in the way he fights, in the way he laughs, and in the way he mourns. You need all of those elements to create well-rounded characters.
So, I suppose, being a well-rounded character myself, I found humor in my leaky toilet. Despite our argument, Husband and I are, right now, sitting in the same room, giggling over how Boy Child is wearing his Darth Vader mask while watching Star Wars and declaring, “Dad, I am your father!”
As long as we all avoid the bathroom, we’ll be a-okay.