Saturday, October 18, 2003

Marriage links for the week  

Pastors in Cleburne County, Arkansas are taking steps to fight the highest state-wide divorce rate in the country (75%).

We shouldn't need Marriage Protection Week, but we do.

If God doesn't exist, then nothing makes sense—especially marriage. To me, marriage is a sacred lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. Still, there are still practical, non-spiritual benefits to marriage.

A study from a sociologist at my alma mater, The University of Texas, indicates that married couples experience joy and happiness on their wedding day, then enter into a gradual, irreversible decline toward dissatisfaction and regret. Whatta loada crap. In matters of human will, statistics are irrelevant.

This is so cool. Family history working its way into family future. Awesome.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Pillow talk: Mrs. Happy  

Hello again from Mrs. Happy, or Mrs. Put-on-the-spot-'cause-Mr.-Happy-has-writer's-block. Curt was just asking me to name a few things that he does to make me feel special, and though I can think of several general examples, one recent evening keeps coming back to me.

A couple of nights ago, the wind really started to pick up outside and eventually a storm ensued, bringing heavy rain that beat against our windows. We had just settled into bed, and as I nestled my head against Curt's chest, we started to talk. We talked about our future—how we would afford our own home, when we might have children, how long we might stay in New York, etc. These were not new topics that we hadn't discussed at one time or another by any means, but for some reason those moments in the rain-splashed darkness have really stayed with me. Perhaps it was simply the atmosphere of that particular night that makes it memorable, but I also think that Curt's attentiveness to me, despite his exhaustion, was really the key. So many times we've simply gotten into bed, cuddled awhile, and rolled over to fall asleep, having already talked about a million different things throughout the day. There's nothing wrong with that at all, but on the rare occasions that I feel the need to discuss my hopes and concerns regarding our future, I am so comforted by the fact that Curt is willing to sacrifice precious sleep to have those in-depth conversations, and the rain doesn't hurt!

I don't know. Maybe I'm just grasping at something to talk about, but I know that in the past few days I've told several friends of mine that Curt and I had a really nice talk the other night, so I know that it must have meant a great deal to me, even if it doesn't amount to a hill of beans to anyone else. Sometimes the simplest, most inexpensive, seemingly mundane moments in a marriage prove to be the most important, most meaningful, and the most special. Rain is optional.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Movie quotes  

Today is one of those days when real life must take priority over blogging. If you're desperate for something to read, though, here are some quotes from Hollywood regarding marriage:

"Make him feel important. If you do that, you'll have a happy and wonderful marriage - like two out of every ten couples."—Mildred Natwick, Barefoot in the Park (1967)

"A few months of good food, warm bed and warm wife was all I could stand. I had get back to the hunger and misery brigade so I could have something to complain about again."—Tom Mason, George Washington (1984)

"When I get a birthday card from my wife, I expect a loving, sickly verse. Not 'Another day 'till your coffin you old wreck!'"—Richard Briers, The Good Life (1975)

"You know, a friend of mine a while back broke his hand and put it in a cast. Very next day, he falls, protects his bad hand, and he breaks his good one. So he breaks it too, you know. So, now he's got two busted flippers. So, I says to him: 'Creighton,' I says, 'I hope your wife really loves you, because for the next five weeks, you can't even wipe your own bleeping ass.' [Laughs] That's the test, ain't it? Test of true love."—M. Emmet Walsh, Blood Simple (1984)

Post your own favorite love/marriage quotes in the comments.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Marriage on the Web  

Yesterday I happened to run across the Web site Googlefight during the course of my job duties (ahem). It surprises me that I haven't heard of it before now. Its home page offers two text boxes into which you enter search terms. It uses Google to search for both terms and then tells you how many hits each term received. The one with more hits wins. Thus,

(37 500 000 results )
(12 800 000 results)

(71 200 000 results)
"War and Peace"
(1 120 000 results)

I thought it would be interesting to see how marriage issues fare in a Googlefight. Here are the results:

happy marriage
(2 550 000 results)
happy divorce
(2 010 000 results)

faithful spouse
(113 000 results)
cheating spouse
(65 200 results)

happy wives
(2 400 000 results)
miserable wives
(96 500 results)

wife is my best friend
(16 400 000 results )
wife is my worst enemy
(2 450 000 results)

There are, of course, no conclusions to be drawn from this. The first result for the search wife is my best friend is a page titled I married my best friend's wife. Still, I was surprised at the results.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Adultery in the heart  

Back in my college days, I used to engage in quite a few philosophical/theological debates with friends and classmates. I remember one particular discussion with a guy I knew from church regarding the seriousness of sins of the heart. He insisted that imagining committing a sin was "the same thing" as committing the sin in the flesh. Greed and lust qualify as sins every bit as much as robbery and adultery, he said. He pointed to Jesus' words in Matthew 5:27–28:

You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

I tried to argue that lust and adultery are both sins, yes, but not one and the same. I pointed out that you can't contract an STD, conceive a child, or (as long as you're reasonable about it) be caught with your pants down while imagining sex. At that point he held up his Bible and said with more than a little condescension, "You know, when I read this book I take the words in red pretty seriously." Which brings up the question: What did Jesus mean when He said that stuff about lust and adultery?

Here's something to consider when evaluating any rule or commandment in the Bible:

Psalm 19
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
—verses 7–11

In more modern terms, when Jesus said "Don't do so-and-so," He didn't mean to deprive us of fun, as so many people seem to think. He meant to deprive us of pain and suffering. His commands fell more along the lines of "Don't put your hand in the fire" than "Don't do anything you might enjoy." Biblical commandments not only tell us how to live, but also how to get the most out of life. That's what Jesus was doing when He issued His warning against lust. He even punctuated the seriousness of the issue with His next statement:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

I don't believe He meant that literally, since there's no record of Him telling anyone specifically to pluck out an eye, and no record of any of the early Christians doing so, as far as I know. I think He meant to underline the importance of keeping yourself pure and cherishing your marriage.

There's no defending adultery. It hurts everyone involved because it breaks the wholeness, the husband-and-wife-becoming-one-flesh-ness, of a marriage covenant. Lust without the physical act of adultery has a similar effect, though in most cases not as destructive, unless of course it leads to adultery as it is often prone to do.

In November of 1976, Jimmy Carter told an interviewer (from Playboy, no less), "Christ said, 'I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery.' I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times." I'm with him on that. So is pretty much every man who has ever lived. I have looked on a lot of women with lust. And what did I gain from it? An aroused but unquenchable desire for an imaginary woman whose potential no real woman could ever meet. What did I lose? A little bit of my ability to appreciate the physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy a wife could offer.

This principle applies even before marriage. My entire adolescence was full of fantasies that still haunt my dreams and even my waking thoughts. Girls that I've kissed still maintain a residence inside my head, periodically popping up to offer a mental distraction. I didn't have sex with any woman before I got married, or else I'm sure that would still be with me as well.

I have found that when I can keep myself from thinking about other women and focus 100 percent of my thoughts and energy on my wife, our relationship deepens, grows, and offers more rewards than at any other time. That, I think, is why Jesus said what He did about lust, and why the act of thinking about a sin and the act of committing it can both wreak havoc and cause harm even without being "the same thing."

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.


Monday, October 13, 2003

To protect and preserve  

If I were president, I would use my bully pulpit to tell husbands to love and respect their wives. I would exert my influence to explain to the country the value and the rewards of strong marriages and strong families. I would probably even pick a week during the year and declare it "Marriage Protection Week." I'm not yet old enough to run for president, but it appears I may never need to:

Marriage Protection Week, 2003
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Marriage is a sacred institution, and its protection is essential to the continued strength of our society. Marriage Protection Week provides an opportunity to focus our efforts on preserving the sanctity of marriage and on building strong and healthy marriages in America.

Marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and my Administration is working to support the institution of marriage by helping couples build successful marriages and be good parents.

To encourage marriage and promote the well-being of children, I have proposed a healthy marriage initiative to help couples develop the skills and knowledge to form and sustain healthy marriages. Research has shown that, on average, children raised in households headed by married parents fare better than children who grow up in other family structures. Through education and counseling programs, faith-based, community, and government organizations promote healthy marriages and a better quality of life for children. By supporting responsible child-rearing and strong families, my Administration is seeking to ensure that every child can grow up in a safe and loving home.

We are also working to make sure that the Federal Government does not penalize marriage. My tax relief package eliminated the marriage penalty. And as part of the welfare reform package I have proposed, we will do away with the rules that have made it more difficult for married couples to move out of poverty.

We must support the institution of marriage and help parents build stronger families. And we must continue our work to create a compassionate, welcoming society, where all people are treated with dignity and respect.

During Marriage Protection Week, I call on all Americans to join me in expressing support for the institution of marriage with all its benefits to our people, our culture, and our society.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim the week of October 12 through October 18, 2003, as Marriage Protection Week. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs, activities, and ceremonies.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-eighth.


# # #

Of course, every week is Marriage Protection Week here at The Happy Husband, but it's encouraging to see such a statement coming from our country's leader.

One more thing: If I were president, I would consider the need for a federal marriage amendment to be an abject failure of my leadership on the issue.

Thanks to Jeff for the links.