My husband and I have noticed that marriages between strong personalities tend to have moments of prickliness in them, which people survive when they practice forgiveness and tolerance of each other's character defects.
It's harder to practice a good recovery program at home, where we somehow feel free to let it all hang out. It's easier to be a good AA in meetings than it is to be a good member of AA when your partner annoys you.
My husband and I are both strong personalities. He is a self-confessed control freak, and I am often stubborn. We struggled for years to learn how to have mercy with each other, keep our side of the street clean, and grant the other person the right to be wrong.
But he's been sober for 22 years, and I've been sober for 16 out of the past 19. We've grown together. Forgiveness of ourselves and each other has become second nature, except when we have the usual sort of heated words that crop up when somebody's being a butthead. We made a promise to accept each other as the way we are, warts and all.
One day, when it was it his turn to be a butthead, I wrote this poem:
A work of art the cactus is
a hymn of symmetry
a prick and proud to be
How primal yet complex it is
austere, yet blooms appear
delicate but severe
Compelling is this crown of thorns
it makes you want to touch
but pain results from such
It sounds like you, the cactus does
a fearsome man apart
yet beautiful at heart
Chris Alba (c) 2009