I have a theory that every relationship that's lasted for any length of time endures keystone events that test the true grit of both parties. If you survive, then the crisis becomes something fondly remembered, trotted out at family reunions, retold to friends, and reminisced upon in the car on the way to Home Despot.
I first observed phenomenon with my own parents. Grandpa Snark likes to be right and he usually is, but every now and then, he screws up. When he does, Grandma Snark never lets him forget it.
Grandma Snark: "In 1973, you said that Big Wheels were the dumbest thing you'd ever seen and no one was ever going to ride them."
Grandpa Snark: "Fine, I admit I may have been wrong that one time."
Grandma Snark: "And don't you forget it, buddy!"
Grandpa Snark: "Like you'd allow that, honey."
Fortunately, Mr. Snark isn't right all that often. I usually don't have to go back more than 30 minutes. He's correct so seldom that he's usually astonished when he is right.
In the early days of the Snark's courtship, I made a batch of chili at Mr. Snark's bachelor cave, a rental house with a gas stove that had no simmer setting. In a very short time, the bottom of that pot scorched solid black.
I knew I could salvage the remainder of the chili by transferring it to a new stockpot so I lowered the heat, stirred with care and left it to finish reducing.
In those days, Mr. Snark was fresh from the Old Goat Rescue, and remained more than 50% feral bachelor. The man not only entered entered my territory without due caution, but he messed with my cooking with impunity.
Finding the unprotected pot of chili, Mr. Snark let loose with a gleeful cackle and proceeded to scrape the bottom with all of the strength in his arms. It took a hammer and chisel, but he freed every last bit of charred crust.
Imagine my horror upon returning to the stove, only to discover pieces of black crap floating throughout the entire batch. Not just huge chunks but itty bitty black dots, infusing every teaspoon with carbonized bitterness.
The shriek heard that day lives on in the neighborhood's collective memory. Amazingly, our relationship survived. (I assure you, the man has never been allowed to forget it.)
We laugh about it now and the term "scraping bottom" has a unique connotation to us.
Mrs. Snark: "She's scraping bottom. After dating two losers, you'd think she'd know better than to go with a third."
Mr. Snark: "Yes, dear."
Mrs. Snark: "You know what I'm saying, right? You understand that scraping bottom is bad?"
Mr. Snark: "I wouldn't do it unless I knew you were watching, dear."
Mrs. Snark: "What?"
Mr. Snark: "There'd be no payoff."