Saturday, November 29, 2003

Marriage links for the week  

On most days, I spend 7 to 10 hours sitting in front of a computer. I've been doing that pretty regularly for the past five years or so. Yesterday, however, I played football with some friends. It was a lot of fun, brought back fond memories of the front-yard game of my childhood, but today I can barely move. When I was 19, I probably could have taken it in stride, but right now I can't point to a single muscle in my body that's not sore. That has nothing to do with my marriage. I just feel like complaining. Here are some links from the news this past week:

I love reading stories about happy marriages. This one involves a young Italian bride who grew to sincerely love her 59-year-old arranged husband.

Another reason I support President Bush: He initiated a federally funded effort to provide marriage counseling to political refugees who come to the United States. Key quote: "The refugee life has so many problems. If you have a good marriage, it's something that's almost too good to believe."

Blake, of StateDog, has a great story about rescuing his daughter from a scary and pretty awkward situation.

Trouble with inlaws? Stacy has it, but she and her husband don't let it bother them anymore.

And one more thing:
University of Texas: 46
Texas A&M University: 15

Hook 'em Horns!

Friday, November 28, 2003

Adultery of the eyes  

A short while ago I wrote a post called Adultery in the heart. I tried to make the point that sex is a sacred physical bond between a husband and wife and as such should not exist anywhere else, even in the imagination. Otherwise, we run the risk of diluting our sexual passion by spreading it too thin. My argument revolved around the short excerpt from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount:

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.
—Matthew 5:27–28:

I summed up my own thoughts on the matter with this:

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.

While reading over blogs4God the other day, I came across a post at a blog called A Blog Apart that addressed the topic of pornography. It references an article by Naomi Wolf, a feminist social critic, that addresses the effect of pervasive pornography on our culture's sexual health. She says that when men see naked and nearly-naked women all day every day, their sexual energy disperses in many directions, with little left over for a flesh-and-blood woman at the end of the day. Here are some key quotes:

The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as "porn-worthy."

The reason to turn off the porn might become, to thoughtful people, not a moral one but, in a way, a physical- and emotional-health one; you might want to rethink your constant access to porn in the same way that, if you want to be an athlete, you rethink your smoking. The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity.

In many more traditional cultures, it is not prudery that leads them to discourage men from looking at pornography.…These cultures urge men not to look at porn because they know that a powerful erotic bond between parents is a key element of a strong family.

Though she seems to be writing from a non-Christian perspective, her conclusion falls in line with Jesus' warning. Adultery in the heart hurts a marriage just like adultery in the flesh, though in a different way. Jesus didn't give us His command against lust to keep us from having fun, as so many people seem to think. He gave it to us so that we could have better marriages and lead more fulfilling lives.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving  

I know I have some international readers here who may or may not be aware that today is a huge holiday in the United States. It is the day that we set aside for spending with loved ones while sharing and contemplating the things that we're thankful for. Mrs. Happy and I drew up a short list of things we thank God for (the unabridged list would take days to compile) so that we could share it here. We are thankful for:

 

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Anything in the world  

For a few years after we met, the Happy Best-Friend and I used to spend quite a bit of time together. We would sit together in church, meet for lunch on most weekdays, go bowling between classes at the University of Texas student union, spend Friday nights with a group of friends, then see movies on Saturdays with a different group of friends. In between those regular activities, we would manufacture any excuse to be in each other's presence. Anything would do:

Of course, my roommate at the time would say things like "I like spaghetti" or "I can show you how to draw a squirrel" or "McDonald's sounds good" and I would have to shoot him with a rubber band.

One evening the Happy Best-Friend came up with the excuse that she felt like taking a walk through San Gabriel Park. It's a nice park: scenic, quiet, well-kept, and built around a river so wherever you are in the park you can hear the beautiful sound of flowing water. It provides swings, slides, trees, park benches, a hiking trail, open fields, and lots of opportunity for laughing, talking, and having fun. That particular evening we made use of the trail and the swings, then settled down on a bench facing the river. We sat there and talked until well after dark, until she began nodding off against her will.

I told her we'd both better get home. We had school the next day and I had missed too many classes already. She slumped where she was sitting and said, "Oh, I'm so tired." By that point in our relationship I loved her with all my heart, even if I didn't realize it. So I bent over, put my right arm behind her knees and my left arm behind her back, then picked her up and carried her to the car.

Mrs. Happy majored in studio art in college, and it happened that she had a watercolor class the day after we went to the park. That day, she painted a picture of a man carrying a woman in his arms and titled it Anything because she came to realize I would do anything for her (click on it to see the full image).

She came across that picture yesterday while going through some old work. She found all sorts of things wrong with it: "It's too faint, and I'm barefoot. Why am I barefoot? I was wearing shoes. And you never had a shirt that color. And I made you too tall and my arm is unnaturally long. Ugh."

I see something else in it, though. I see a picture revealing two people on the cusp of adulthood looking onto an indistinct world where even a tree, normally a symbol of firmness and stability, fades out of sight. I see her stretching her arm out to hold on to a man who will accompany her into that world, bearing her burdens when she can't carry them herself, when she's not "wearing shoes." I see that man (or a slightly enhanced vision of him) slowly coming into focus, not yet solid but much more than a shadow. I see how the future looked to us in 1995, as envisioned by a Happy Best-Friend who still signed with her maiden name. I remember how I felt about that future myself—unsure, overwhelmed, slightly terrified—and now I look back on it with fondness and thankfulness that we were able to meet it together.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Biblical love  

Here are a couple of things the Bible says about marriage, things I try to remember/practice every day:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
Ephesians 5:25, 29–31

Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
Proverbs 5:18–19

Like a lily among the thorns,
So is my darling among the maidens.
Song of Solomon 2:2

The Bible is in many ways a love story, the story of how and how much God loves mankind. It's only because He loves me that I'm able to love anyone else.


Poetry update:The where we're from page now includes a poem from Stacy.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Tired morning  

A long day yesterday turned into a late night last night which turned into an oversleeping session this morning which gave way to a "real life trumps blogging" situation (a concept promoted by Dean Peters, aka MeanDean, of Heal Your Church Web Site and blogs4God) this morning. Even so, I would like to point out that I have built a page for the Where I'm From poems that people send me (see this post for more details). The permanent link for the poem page is in the right-hand column under the About heading. Enjoy the poems there, and please consider writing your own and sharing it.