Saturday, May 22, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

How is marriage doing? Fox News gives some detailed statistics concerning the state of marriage in the United States. Not that they have any relevance to specific situations, but they're still interesting if a little depressing. Thanks to Ryan for the link.

Messy Christian ponders how marriage would affect her life. She seems to think the effect would be bad, but I say it all depends on whom you marry and how you cultivate the relationship.

Marla has a great story about her sleep-induced psychosis. It reminds me of a time when I cooked some soup while Mrs. Happy took a nap. When the soup was done, I woke her up and told her to come to the table. She looked at me coyly and said, "The soup's done? You must have been coming in here and messing with me quite a bit." I had no idea what she meant. I tried to help her out of bed, but she fought me off desperately and refused to even sit up, saying, "If I get up, it'll all fall out!" A few moments passed and she began laughing hysterically. She laughed for several minutes without stopping and couldn't tell me why. She finally was able to come to the table, catch her breath, and tell me that she had been vividly dreaming that she was a can of soup. We had been married less than six months at the time.

One columnist in an African paper expresses some doubt about a study that assigns monetary value to a year's worth of good sex as well as a year of a good marriage. I'm not entirely sure what currency he's referring to, but if it's Rupees, then 100,000 Rupees is roughly equivalent to 2,200 US dollars.


Rey says a thank you to everyone who's been praying for him.

Friday, May 21, 2004

His and Hers XI  

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday (though I forgot to do that this week). On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the topic. I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week's question is:

What question do you dread hearing from your spouse?

Mrs. Happy's response

"Have you written your His and Hers yet?"

This question, invariably posed to me on Friday afternoon, is almost always met with a long, whiny groan, followed by, "Why didn't you remind me earlier in the week?" whether he did or not. Don't get me wrong—I think it's a great "meme," but by the end of the week, all I want to do is collapse in a heap on the floor, not rack my brain for some witty, insightful blah, blah, blah, heap, blah, blah, floor.…

Curt's response

"Can you tell I've lost weight?"

At least she doesn't ask if she looks fat. Still, I'm never sure how to answer. I know when she's been watching her diet and exercising more just because I see her doing it. I also know that probably translates into weight loss. I know she needs the validation, but an ounce dropped from her hips and fraction of an inch from her waist are not obvious the way five inches off her hair are. (Honestly, though, I don't always notice when she gets her hair cut either.) I see her many times a day every day, and to me she looks the same from moment to moment, and she's always beautiful.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Q & A time with Curt  

I don't do this very often (actually, I've never done this before), but today I'm going to open the floor to questions. Some of these are questions people have actually asked. Some are questions people want to ask. Some of them are questions no one cares to ask. I'm not making obvious which is which in order not to embarrass people who have asked me silly things.

Q: How old are you?
A: I'm 31 years old. I'll be 32 in June.

Q: How old do you look?
A: About 20.

Q: How do you stay so young looking?
A: Live clean, drink lots of water, and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Q: Is that why you're paler than an Englishman?
A: Shut up.

Q: Why should I get married when it would mean the end of life as I know it?
A: Marriage is the end of the single life in much the same way that birth is the end of life in the womb. It's a huge change, but wow—so worth it.

Q: How long have you been married?
A: It will be six years on Sunday, May 23.

Q: What has surprised you most about marriage?
A: The rapidity with which a woman goes through a roll of toilet paper.

Q: What do you think should be the boundaries of physical affection in a Christian dating relationship?
A: Ideally, hand-holding should be the physical limit, and maybe hugging.

Q: That's weird. Why not kissing?
A: Anything beyond hand-holding is part of a process that leads to intercourse. Beginning that process and stopping short of intercourse only serves to frustrate your body and create more lustful desire both physically and mentally.

Q: But isn't it a little unrealistic to expect a couple in love to never even kiss?
A: Okay, stopping at hand-holding hardly ever works out in reality. Personally, neither my wife nor I had sex before we were married, but we did go beyond hand-holding. All I can say is that it's best to minimize physical contact as much as possible before marriage. Develop all the other aspects of your relationship, and you'll be ready for the physical part—as it was meant to be—on your wedding night.

Q: Could you elaborate on that a little more?
A: Most couples start off with sex before they bond emotionally and spiritually, and they're bored with it by the time their relationship has developed to the point that sex would really mean something. That's why you hear so many jokes about married people having very little sex. But marriage isn't supposed to be the end of sex—it's supposed to be the beginning.

Q: What is the best advice you've ever received about marriage?
A: I got lots of advice when I was engaged. My dad told me that my wife and I should agree on whether to hang toilet paper so that it dispenses from the top or from the bottom before either of us ever tries to hang it. I'm sure that isn't the most profound advice I received, but it's the only bit I remember. Probably because it had something to do with toilet paper.

Q: How do people usually respond when you tell them you're married?
A: They say, "What?!! You don't look…married." I'm never quite sure what they mean.

Q: How do people usually respond when you introduce them to your wife?
A: They usually say, "That's your wife? But…she's so pretty."

Q: Is your wife really as hot as you make her out to be?
A: I use three words to describe the effect women have on men. Pretty is something we like to look at. Attractive is something we want to talk to. Beautiful is something we want to look at, talk to, and bask in. My wife is the only beautiful woman I know.

Q: But is she hot?
A: Absolutely smokin'.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Will Rogers on divorce  

I don't know how well acquainted international readers are with Will Rogers. For that matter, many Americans have sort of forgotten about him. He was a vaudeville, Broadway, and movie performer in the early part of the 20th century. His stage act consisted of doing tricks with a lasso and making jokes about the day's news. He was so funny, refreshing, and down to earth that he reached a level of popularity that even today's biggest stars can't match. People really loved him the way they love a close personal friend. For a while he had a weekly radio address as well as a biweekly newspaper column that provoked more water-cooler conversations than Mike Royko and Dave Barry combined. He died in a plane crash in 1935, but his insights and witticisms live on. I found the following bit in a book I have. It's part of his observations of his tour of Russia in 1934:

Then we went down to where everybody wants to go, and that's the Divorce Court. Mrs. Rogers got kind of itchy in there. I even got a little scared after I got in there. Boy, I behaved myself while I was in Russia, I'll tell you that. Well, we were sitting in there, with a girl interpreter. And the first thing you know, a fellow come in with a brief case. He put his things down on a desk, and he was in there a minute, and they asked him a couple of questions, wrote down something—then he got up and went out. I said—I'd been watching—I said to the interpreter—what did that guy do that just come in here?

She said: he got a divorce. I said: huh? That guy that just went out got a divorce already? He wasn't in there longer than I've been telling you about it. And sure enough, yes. I said—my Lord, where was the girl he got the divorce from?

She said: well, they'll send her a card tomorrow, saying: you ain't with us any more.

I asked: Is that the way they get married, too? I can come in here and marry somebody, and announce that I am married and then send Miss Greta Garbo a card, and say: Miss Garbo, you're married to me?

She said: No. You've got to bring the girl when you get married.

Now that sounds awful easy, but wait a minute. Divorce ain't like right here in Hollywood, where we are now. Say listen, here you come in with three or four of those marriages and divorces. But they got a limit on them over there. Out here there's no limit to what you can do, but over there, they do. You come in on about your fourth marriage, and they've got all your records down there, and they'll say: Wait a minute! This thing has gone about far enough. See? This is a Communistic country, and we believe in dividing up, but you ain't going to get all the women in Russia. Now you better go back and make up with the old one.

There is many more things to talk about in Russia. So let me know. Write and let me know your questions, I'll be glad to answer any question. Anything I don't know about the country, I can make up. For Russia is a country that no matter what you say about it, it's true. Even if it's a lie, it's true.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Why marry?  

I mentioned in Saturday's Marriage links for the week that Irene had written a few recent posts about marriage. She posed a question in one that I felt a need to respond to:

Yesterday I was driving Emmy (my housemate) and I to a nearby shopping mall when I asked her if it was ok to get married for companionship or because we're lonely. After all, if God said , "It is not good for man to be alone"…

She said no. Yeah our gut feeling is to say no, you shouldn't marry just because you're lonely, or you shouldn't marry for companionship alone. But why? Or rather, why not?

Why get married at all? It's a good question to ask, both generally and specifically. Here's what the book of Genesis says:

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."…

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,

This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

We should get married because God created us (most of us, anyway) for marriage. I think it's okay to marry for companionship. I think companionship is actually the main reason to marry. But that's just a general rule, not necessarily applicable to a situation in which one considers the possibility of spending a lifetime with a specific person. Here's another general rule: "Because we're in love" is a terrible reason to get married, if by "in love" you mean the intense physical and emotional response brought on by another person's presence. If being "in love" is the foundation of a relationship, the relationship can't and won't last. It is a feeling both blissful and ecstatic, but also unsustainable. It is good for a married couple to be in love, to have that infatuation and preoccupation with one another from time to time. It's like having icing on your cake after a satisfying meal. But that feeling can overpower rationality and even impede growth and hamper a deepening of the intimacy two people can share, and therefore can't be the basis of any successful relationship.

Reasons for marrying a specific person vary with every couple. When I considered proposing to my best friend, I took into account several things:

Those were just some of my practical reasons for proposing. There were definitely other reasons, reasons that can't really be put into words—emotional reasons, spiritual reasons, reasons that you might even call mystical. They all boil down to one thing: marriage (this specific marriage) felt right, and remaining single and apart from each other felt wrong. We reached a point where we felt that every day that we weren't married was just a day we spent running on a relational treadmill, having fun and learning about each other but not making progress consistent with our effort. It took us three years to reach that point, three years so full that they felt like a lifetime. The years since have been even fuller. Whatever reasons we had, whatever feelings compelled us, whatever guidance we received from loved ones and from God, they have worked out. Messy Christian said in a recent post:

Marriage means the end. I don't want to end up having that perfect suburban life because it terrifies me. Because then I'll end up like everyone else, part of this endless cycle of marriage, birth and debts; part of millions. I want something more than that.

Well, MC, marriage is more than that when the husband and wife are both committed to making it so. A good friend brings out the best in you. A good spouse brings out more good than you could ever have on your own. Two people who do that for each other make for an amazing couple, and a fuller life than I could ever imagine.