Saturday, March 13, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

A happy marriage is good for a woman's heart, but a bad marriage is worse than being single.

Alan at Imago Veritatis takes a good, in-depth look at the question "What is marriage?".

I've mentioned before that I love to hear real-life love stories. A short version of mine is on the About my marriage page. I just found another that bears a strong resemblance to my own in that the couple became best friends and eventually married in spite of the guy's complete cluelessness. (Link via IreneQ, and thanks to Rebecca for the heads-up.)

Ryan keeps posting pictures of his new baby, and I can't blame him. I usually think that babies look like withered little aliens, but baby Andrew really looks like a tiny human being, and he's beautiful. Ryan also tells us how he and his wife steal as many private moments as they can.

Speaking of which, here's an article explaining how parents' handling of early child care affects the marriage later.

I can't believe it has taken me this long to realize that Theognome's wife has a blog. I'm sure it's been there in his links for months, but I just noticed it this week. Bill (Theognome) has a greater love and respect for his wife than most husbands you're likely to meet, and after reading her stuff I find that his feelings are not misplaced. Toni (Mrs. Theognome) posted a great piece on the husband's role as spiritual leader on March 9. For goodness' sake, check it out.

Friday, March 12, 2004

His and Hers II  

Last week we began a weekly feature called His and Hers, wherein Mrs. Happy and I each share our views of the same question or topic. This week's topic is: Talk about something funny you have done to or for your spouse.

Curt's response

When we were first married, we teased each other quite a bit and had a lot of fun getting to know each other as husband and wife. One day, Mrs. Happy was taking a shower and I thought it would be funny to pretend I was trying to sneak a "forbidden" peak at her as she washed herself. The toilet in our apartment was right next to the shower, so I climbed up onto the toilet, poked my head over the shower curtain, and said, "I see you!" in a sing-songy voice. Just then, the toilet lid shifted and I fell into the shower, taking the shower curtain and rod along with me. Water splashed everywhere, I got soaked, and Mrs. Happy's shower had to be put on hold for nearly half an hour while I tried to reinstall the curtain—no easy task since both of us were laughing hysterically for hours after that.

Mrs. Happy's response

Curt and I have always had little inside jokes with each other. Some of them are silly, some are funny, and some are downright hilarious, and most stem from silly little things I've done that somehow take on a life of their own (for example, the victory fist when we recognize something on TV). Unfortunately, these inside jokes don't translate well into stories that other people would find funny. I guess that's why they're called inside jokes. I'm having trouble thinking of something that I've done to or for my spouse that other people would find funny. The only thing I can think of is the time I took Curt to Joe's Crab Shack for his birthday. I blindfolded him before I drove him there so he wouldn't know where we were going, and I didn't remove the blindfold until we were inside and sitting at a table with all our friends. It was a fun evening, and toward the end of the meal, the waiters all sang Happy Birthday to him while making him stand in a chair, bend over, and spell out his name in the air using his (adorable) rear end.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Lewis on marriage  

I just came across an old article (Nov. '03) on the Christianity Today Web site about how C.S. Lewis' influence on modern society is in many ways greater than that of John F. Kennedy. They both died on the same day several years before my birth. But I can say that even if JFK changed the state of politics in my country in bigger ways, Lewis had a far more profound impact on me personally. There was a period of time in high school when I couldn't bear to read anything not written by him. Even today, I'm almost incapable of discussing a spiritual matter without eventually quoting him.

Having said that, I'm not sure what to make of this passage I recently came across in his book The Four Loves. Here he writes of the analogy the Bible draws in comparing a marriage to Jesus' relationship with believers (husband is to wife as Christ is to the church). I've tried tackling this subject before on this site, but the whole issue remains a sort of ethereal mystery in my own mind, and I'm not sure how to flesh it out in the real world.

Here are Lewis's words. Make of them what you will.

Christian law has crowned him in the permanent relationship of marriage, bestowing—or should I say, inflicting?—a certain 'headship' on him …. As we could easily take the natural mystery too seriously, so we might take the Christian mystery not seriously enough. Christian writers (notably Milton) have sometimes spoken of a husband's headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the Church—read on—and gave his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is—in her own mere nature—least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely. The chrism of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man's marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of a bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence. As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs….

To say this is not to say that there is any virtue or wisdom in making a marriage that involves such misery. There is no wisdom or virtue in seeking unnecessary martyrdom or deliberately courting persecution; yet it is, none the less, the persecuted or martyred Christian in whom the pattern of the Master is most unambiguously realized. So, in these terrible marriages, once they have come about, the 'headship' of the husband, if only he can sustain it, is most Christ-like.

The sternest feminist need not grudge my sex the crown offered to it either in the Pagan or in the Christian mystery. For the one is of paper and the other of thorns. The real danger is not that husbands may grasp the latter too eagerly; but that they will allow or compel their wives to usurp it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

RLTB  

Mrs. Happy and I have plans tonight, so time is short. In my blogging absence, please check out this week's Christian Carnival, hosted by The Trommetter Times.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

A new meme  

Doug of CoffeeSwirls.com left a comment on Friday's His and Hers post saying, "This would make a great meme, you know. I recommend that you do this, and suggest that others link to you in their responses to the meme." I was, of course, quite flattered that someone thought I had come up with a good meme. I was even more flattered after I did some research and discovered what a meme is.

For those of you no more astute than I, a meme is an idea that begins with one person and spreads to many people. In the real world, it is often a topical joke or slang word. In the world of blogging, it usually takes the form of a unique type of post on one blog that other bloggers duplicate and personalize. The Friday Five and 100 Things About Me are two of the more prominent blog memes. I may have participated in a meme without even realizing it with the Where I'm From poems.

Given all that, I think His and Hers is indeed a good idea for a meme. So here's what I'm going to do. Every week on Tuesday or Wednesday, I'll pose a question or discussion topic relating to marriage. On Friday, I'll post my thoughts along with my wife's. Hopefully, one or two other bloggers will also post their thoughts along with their spouse's, link to this site, and allow me to link to theirs. My hope is that this will allow us all to share in an online celebration of marriage that reaches beyond this page.

Here's this week's topic:

Talk about something funny you have done to or for your spouse.

If you and your spouse write about this, please send me an e-mail with a link to your post. Even if no one participates, Mrs. Happy and I will post our thoughts.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Movie moments  

This past weekend my wife and I watched a DVD of a movie called Pieces of April. It tells the story of a girl who lives in New York City and hosts a Thanksgiving feast for her family. All sorts of things go wrong for her, and for her family, and their already strained relationships stretch to the point of breaking. It is a wonderful, painful exploration of a family full of love and devoid of patience and understanding. I highly recommend it.

While I don't normally write about movies that I see, I mention this one because of a particular scene at a Krispy Kreme donut shop. When the family stops there en route to April's apartment, Mrs. Happy leaned in toward the television and said, "Is that our Krispy Kreme?" A subsequent shot of the family in the parking lot revealed a setup identical to the nearest Krispy Kreme to where we live, complete with a Wal-Mart in the background. We decided that it must be our Krispy Kreme, and the end credits confirmed it with the words "Filmed on location in East Meadow, New York," and other places.

I don't know why it's so thrilling to see a familiar place on film. For me, I think it's because it shows me for sure that the world does indeed exist beyond my own immediate perception. Most everything I see in film is fake to some extent, but seeing my Krispy Kreme lets me know that some things are real, that people who drive down Hempstead Turnpike will see the same Krispy Kreme in front of the same Wal-Mart that I do, and that Oliver Platt is one of those people. However little I may have in common with him, he and I at least have that Krispy Kreme connection.

My theory may be way off base, but it's still thrilling to have that moment of recognition on film. Mrs. Happy and I have experienced many such moments since moving to New York. The characters on the Law & Order often visit and talk about places where we've been. The same goes for Without a Trace. Once, while we were watching a quirky independent movie called The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human with our friend Amy, Amy said, "Hey, go back! Rewind a little bit." I rewound a couple of seconds, hit play, and she pointed to an actor in the background of the scene and said, "That's Chris Liner!" Chris went to high school with Amy and Mrs. Happy. He eventually moved to California to pursue a career in acting, ending up in that movie alongside Mackenzie Astin.

We've also had some "Hey! That's…" moments with movies filmed in Central Texas. Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr. walked past Gold's Department Store in Georgetown, Tx., in the movie Johnny Be Good (I don't recommend the movie, though). Part of Dazed and Confused took place in an elementary school I used to drive by nearly every day. Varsity Blues was also filmed in Georgetown (another movie I highly do not recommend). The movie Michael featured several Austin-area locales.

Our coolest moment of recognition so far came in the movie The Life of David Gale (still another that I don't recommend). Part of it was filmed on the University of Texas at Austin campus, where both my wife and I finished our undergraduate work. An exterior shot of a building showed the exact place where The Happy Friend and I used to eat lunch together at least three times a week. At that same spot, on November 13, 1997, I asked her to be my Happy wife. She said yes immediately.

Whenever we see something we recognize on television, video, or DVD, we each raise our right fist in sort of a victory sign, just as a nonverbal acknowledgment of the thing we just witnessed. I can't explain why that kind of moment is such a thrill. But it really is.