Saturday, November 15, 2003

Football update  

University of Texas: 43
Texas Tech University: 40

Hook 'em Horns!!!

Marriage links for the week  

Spending more time at work than at home is hard on a marriage. Spending personal time with coworkers of the opposite sex can lead to adultery. Hanging out with people who are bitter about their marriages can make you bitter about your own. I should go into the research business. I could apply for grants to study marriage, write common sense reports that would be obvious to any idiot, then pocket the leftover grant money.

It's good for a husband and wife to spend their leisure time together, but only if they both enjoy the activities.

No matter how careful and loving parents are, divorce devastates children.

A husband and wife had seven sons, who all eventually got married. There hasn't been a single divorce among them, and now the family represents 433 collective years of marriage.

When I started writing this blog, I actually told my parents about it, and my in-laws as well. I don't usually write about embarrassing things, so it's not much of an issue. I pity this guy, though. My blogging service, Blogger, has responded to the article with advice on what to do if your mom stumbles across your blog. (In case you don't know, The Onion is a satirical newspaper, and its stories are not real. But they can be very funny.)

I have adapted atimelikethis.net into a romantic comedy screenplay. I'm trying to find a distributor now.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Choosing, part 2  

Yesterday I began examining some practical criteria for choosing a spouse from an article over at Deeper Devotion. Today I continue that.

  1. What are the people around you saying? Do your closest friends and family think this person is worth pursuing?
    My closest friends and family could not shut up about how I should be pursuing the Happy Potential. Not one person that I ever introduced to my parents made as strong an impression on them as Mrs. Happy. My friends constantly expressed bewilderment at the fact that she and I were not the hottest item in Austin. Even my friend Matt, who lived in Indiana and didn't meet her or speak to her until the wedding, told me I should be with her. Everyone knew a long time before we did that we would (or at least should) get married, and they weren't shy about saying so.

  2. Does she cause you to sin? Would you be compromising on your standards by pursing a relationship with her? Have you seen any red flags-sin or baggage that needs to be dealt with that shouldn't be carried into a relationship (i.e. lust, anger, bitterness toward God)?
    I lusted after her in my heart quite a bit, but that wasn't her fault. She never required any sin from me, and in fact she encouraged me in my ministries and my personal spiritual growth.

  3. Do you have similar life goals, dreams, and ideals? (Not that they have to be exactly the same, but have you made sure that neither of you are compromising what God has already told you to do?)
    We both wanted to grow closer to God and to each other. We both wanted to raise a loving, Godly family. I had no clear direction in life, so compromise was a non-issue for me. Mrs. Happy, on the other hand, had some pretty prominent gifts that she obviously needed to foster. I dedicated myself to helping her do that, and I've never regretted it.

  4. How does this person treat other people (especially her family)?
    Mrs. Happy's family has issues and conflicts, just like every family, but she loves them with all her heart. When we met, she didn't have a very close relationship with her youngest brother (they're 11 years apart in age), but he was able to hang out with the two of us quite a bit, and now we're all good friends. As far as non-family goes, she's the rare type of person who treats everyone with respect (except sometimes mean people, who, I think we can all agree, suck). She even has a special affection for those that society considers outcasts.

  5. Is this person someone you would want to be influenced by? A person that you would want to wake up beside every morning? Someone you could be committed to working through their faults with? Someone you would trust to make some of life's biggest decisions with?
    Yes. Oh, yes. Yes. Absolutely.

  6. Have you put in the time to know if this person is who she says she is—consistently?
    Mrs. Happy and I were friends for a year and best friends for three years (including a four-month courtship and a six-month engagement) before we got married. I estimate that we spent no less than 5 hours a week together during that first year and no less than 20 hours a week together in the next three years, which adds up to easily more than 3,000 hours that we spent with each other before we got married. It would be difficult for two honest people to keep up a facade for that long.

  7. Are you ready? Have you spent enough time with this person to know that your decision isn't based on emotions? Is your heart prepared for a relationship? Do you fit these criteria?
    I don't know if anyone can accurately gauge their readiness for something they've never experienced. I do know that we desperately wanted to begin building a life together, that 20 hours a week was not nearly enough time to spend in each other's company. For us, getting married was the logical, best, and only option.

I wish I had read an article like this when I was twenty. It contains quite a bit of solid, practical advice. It might have saved me some grief. Then again, I was probably too misguided and stubborn to have paid attention anyway. I'm just glad everything worked out the way it did.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Choosing  

I came across an article over at Deeper Devotion that offers some advice on choosing a spouse. It's the sort of advice a lot of married people gave me when was single, along the lines of If you just depend on your feelings, you could get yourself into a messy situation and Choose your mate wisely and don't settle for less. I resented it at the time, thinking that married people have no idea what it's like to be single and lonely. But now I can see the wisdom in it, and now I also realize that a lot of married people endured years of loneliness before their weddings as much as I did. Still, I look back and see that people told me a lot of stupid things, too. Fortunately, I didn't listen to the half-hearted encouragement and ill-informed opinions any more than I heeded the good advice.

Let me give some advice to people who like to give advice: Never say to a single person, "Don't worry. You'll get married some day." It's the most transparent, condescending, and unhelpful piece of falsely hopeful tripe ever uttered by a human being. Also, when a young man has been told by a young woman, "I just like you as a friend," don't try to cheer him up by telling him that the young woman's statement is good news because it's better to be friends first. It's true that the most enduring romances grow out of the deepest friendships, but that really doesn't apply to the situation. When a girl tells a guy that she likes him as a friend and nothing more, what he hears (and probably what she means) is that at best she sees him as a eunuch with a decent personality—not good news at all.

Anyway, there's nothing like that in the Deeper Devotion article. Kristy Smith, the article's author, actually provides practical advice on how to choose who you marry. She sets out ten questions to ask yourself when looking at a potential mate. Here's how they apply to me and Mrs. Happy:

  1. Does this person acknowledge God as Lord and the best friend of her life? Is she molded by God or molded by the people around her? Is she really committed to knowing God and what God wants, or is her spirituality just for you?
    When I met my Happy Acquaintance in 1994, she had been a Christian for a couple of years. She didn't attend church much growing up, so once she came to understand what Jesus was all about and that she could have a personal relationship with God, she wholeheartedly began growing her faith. We were absolutely compatible in this area.

  2. Does this person have a teachable spirit? Is this person quick to learn from situations, or does she get mad easily and blame things on other people? Is this person willing to listen to criticism and the opinions of others? How does this person respond to you when you do or say something she doesn't like?
    Mrs. Happy scores high in this regard, too, and always has as far as I know. She's quick to learn and slow to anger, if at times a little too quick to speak.

  3. Do you feel the Lord is giving you the "okay"? Have you prayed about it? Seriously? Are you willing to not pursue this relationship if you felt the Lord was telling you "no"?
    I prayed about girls a lot during my single days. Nearly every time I met an attractive girl, I asked God if I should pursue her. Every single time I prayed such a prayer, God's answer was crystal clear to me: Yes. The results were invariably disastrous. However, I didn't feel an immediate attraction to the Happy Acquaintance, so when I prayed about her, God's crystal clear answer to me was not to pursue romance. I have found that in my life, hormones trump the Spirit…and hormones are always wrong.

I will address the remaining seven questions in tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Vermont art  

My wife is something of an artist—not the bizarre, fixed, cold type of artist who obsesses over color spectra and schools of technique and philosophy, but rather the thoughtful kind of human being who tends to see things a little differently and skillfully puts her vision down on a blank page or canvas so the rest of us can see it too. She's not extremely prolific or driven to spend four hours a day in her studio, but probably about once a week she gets the urge to create something. For her the act of creating art is a spiritual experience. In her own small way she emulates the One who created her and expresses something of herself in the art she makes.

Our stay in Vermont last week inspired her to paint a landscape. We saw rolling mountains bursting with fall-colored trees. We saw early American architecture in houses, inns, shops, and covered bridges. We saw the work of artists such as Grandma Moses, Norman Rockwell, and a number of incredibly talented regional painters, sculptors, and craftsmen. If I were an artist, I would have been inspired myself. After viewing the furniture of Peter Maynard, I felt a sincere desire to become a carpenter. Of course a memory of my failure to construct a six-sided box in junior high woodshop quickly squelched that feeling, but Mr. Maynard's furniture was cool nonetheless.

Anyway, one day during our vacation Mrs. Happy really wanted to paint. She hadn't brought any of her art supplies along on the trip, however, so we went to the nearest grocery store in search of cheapo kid water colors, colored pencils, drawing paper, anything that she could use. The grocery store disappointed us greatly. It had drawing paper, but no paint of any kind, no colored pencils, no colored pens, no markers, nothing. Drawing on all the ingenuity at our disposal, we purchased a pad of drawing paper, a bag of Skittles, a bag of M&Ms, a package of Q-Tip brand cotton swabs, and a seven-day pill organizer.

When we got everything back to the hotel, Mrs. Happy put seven different colored candies into each compartment of the pill organizer and put some water in a glass. She dipped a cotton swab in the water, rubbed some of the coloring off of a Skittle, then transferred the artificial dye to paper, thereby creating her own sweet water color painting.

I usually write about things that directly concern the topic of marriage, but today I just want to say that my wife is so cool. Click on the small image below to see her candy-colored painting. Click on the small image below that to see a pencil drawing of her impressions of the trip in general.

 

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

In sickness  

As I mentioned yesterday, I don't feel good. My symptoms include congestion, sneezing, coughing, headaches, sore throat, fatigue, and an aversion to Dr Pepper (that's how I know I'm really sick). These symptoms might stem from a cold or flu virus or an attack of allergies, though I'm pretty sure it's the allergies. Whatever their cause, the symptoms kept me in bed pretty much all day today (I'm writing this at about 6:30 p.m.). I don't get sick very often, but every illness I do experience makes me gladder than ever to be married.

In my single days, I hated being sick for two reasons: 1)it felt bad, and 2)I had no one to take care of me. I still don't particularly like feeling bad, but now that I have someone to take care of me I don't especially mind being sick. I never feel more comfortable and cared for than when I'm too weak to leave my bed and Mrs. Happy takes my temperature, wraps me in blankets, makes me chicken soup, keeps me supplied with water/tea/hot chocolate, and kisses my forehead all day long. When I'm sick, I'm vulnerable. I entrust my well-being to her, and she always proves worthy of the trust.

On the other side of things, I don't much like for her to be sick. I do enjoy and crave the responsibility of caring for her in her vulnerability, but I hate the helpless feeling of not being able to heal her myself. About a year ago she developed some sort of bronchitis and could not stop coughing. She suffered quite a bit, but (even by her account) not as much as I did. I hated that I couldn't defend her from the infection inside her body. I wanted to take it into my own so that she wouldn't have to hurt anymore. But I couldn't. All I could do was give her medicine, keep her as comfortable as possible, and kiss her forehead all day long.

The illnesses my wife and I have experienced so far have been fairly minor. Five years ago we promised to love each other even in sickness, and we've had no problems doing that. Several people close to me have had to love a spouse through both serious and terminal illnesses. I can't begin to imagine the pain of that. I take comfort, though, that Mrs. Happy and I will be together to nurse each other through any future catastrophe that may arise.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go lie down. I think I hear the tea kettle whistling.

Monday, November 10, 2003

achoo...  

I'd like to thank all my guest bloggers from last week for filling in for me while I was secluded in the mountains of Vermont with Mrs. Happy and her parents. The week was wonderful and relaxing, but also aggravating because of some horrible and unidentified allergen permeating the air. Fortunately, I didn't feel its effects until Friday, but I have still not fully recovered, hence the late and sparse posting today.

Until I can regain use of my nasal passages and mental faculties, I'd like to point out a couple of links I added to the left sidebar recently. Dr. Bradley writes a blog called kill as few patients as possible. He is a husband, a dad, Catholic Christian, and family doctor in semi-rural east Texas. He writes about whatever is on his mind, but his posts often focus on medical issues, and they are always enjoyable. Ten Years of My Life is an ambitious effort on one man's part to take a photograph every day for ten years. Matthew Haughey posts a new picture every day, and I enjoy seeing what he comes up with.

I guess I'll also take this opportunity to explain the links at the bottom of my posts for those of you who are not blog-savvy. If you clik the link titled Comment on this! (0), a new window will pop up in which you can type a comment and read comments that others have left. The number in parenthesis is the number of comments people have left. If you click the link titled Permalink, your browser will take you to an archived page containing the post that offers the Permalink. Since posts on the front page move to archives after one week, this feature allows you to bookmark, cite, and e-mail specific posts.

That's all for today. I have to go blow my nose. And take an Advil. And a nap. Again. I hate allergies.