Saturday, June 19, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Finding herself facing an elegantly circular dilemma, Katy asks for advice on giving advice to engaged couples. Her commenters come through for her.

Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping offers the opinion that the producers of the new movie The Stepford Wives sort of misses the point when it comes to modern relationships. He later posts a reader's e-mail about how his earlier post missed the point as well.

Check out Rick's story about his wife's close encounter with a dragonfly. A sense of humor about yourself is one of the most important skills for coping with life.

Statedog Blake reminisces about his honeymoon as he, his wife, and his child revisit the same area on a vacation.

According to an article at ABCnews.com, a friendship with a member of the opposite sex can cross a moral line and become an emotional affair. Link via Marriages Restored.

A newspaper columnist reflects on the nature of romance as he looks back on two years of marriage.

Another columnist advises Tiger Woods to call off his impending wedding. I link to this because it's sort of funny and sort of sad and completely ignorant and moronic.

In my earlier post about the joy that dogs bring to the world, I was remiss in not pointing out that Messy Christian has a blog dedicated entirely to her dog.

Friday, June 18, 2004

His and Hers XIV  

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday (though I didn't 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 song reminds you of your spouse every time you hear it?

Mrs. Happy's response

When Curt and I were just friends, we were best friends. He treated me with so much kindness and affection that I grew to love him more deeply than I had ever loved any other friend. I listened to a lot of Jewel back then, and when I heard the song Near You Always, I realized that I was in love with him. I knew, however, that he didn't feel the same way about me (hah) so I had to guard my emotions with every ounce of will I possessed. He didn't make it any easier, though, because he never stopped treating me as though I were a lovely and precious human being. Near You Always always made me think of Curt, and I still do. The difference is that now I can completely omit the word don't from the lyrics.

Near You Always

Please don't say I love you,
those words touch me much too deeply
and they make my core tremble
Don't think you realize the effect you have over me
Please don't look at me like that
It just makes me want to make you near me always
Please don't kiss me so sweet
it makes me crave a thousand kisses to follow
And please don't touch me like that
makes every other embrace seem pale and shallow
And please don't come so close
it just makes me want to make you near me always
Please don't bring me flowers
they only whisper the sweet things you'd say
Don't try to understand me
your hands already know too much anyway
It just makes me want to make you near me always
And when you look in my eyes
please know my heart is in your hands
It's nothing that I understand, but when in your arms
you have complete power over me
So be gentle if you please, 'cause
Your hands are in my hair, but my heart is in your teeth
And it makes me want to make you near me always
Your hands are in my hair, but my heart is in your teeth
And it makes me want to make you near me always
I want to be near you always
I want to be near you always
I want to be near you always

Curt's response

When I was in high school, I had a girlfriend. I dated her not because I loved being around her but because I was lonely and I thought having a girlfriend would solve that. It didn't. But I still behaved the way I thought a boyfriend should behave, which meant that I often told her I loved her. It was a complete lie, but I didn't realize it until after we broke up. Once I understood the weight of those words, I vowed to myself never to tell any woman I loved her until I was ready to marry her. It wasn't that difficult, because I never even felt like saying that to any woman until I grew to love the woman who would eventually become my wife. There was a period of a year or more when I could have truthfully said to her, "I love you," and I desperately wanted to say those words—at the time, I just wasn't ready to marry her yet. I did tell her about my personal vow, hoping that she would realize my feelings without hearing that verbal expression of them, but I didn't tell her I loved her.

When I proposed, I serenaded my beloved with the song Do I Love You by Cole Porter. During a musical interlude in the song, I told her I loved her over and over again. I continued telling her throughout the evening. Since then, not a day has passed without my saying, "I love you." Whenever I hear that song, I think of her and of what a relief it was to finally give voice to my passion.

Do I Love You?

Do I love you do I?
Doesn't one and one make two?
Do I love you do I?
Does July need a sky of blue?
Would I miss you, would I, if you ever should go away?
If the sun should desert the day, what would life be?
Will I leave you, never?
Could the ocean leave the shore?
Will I worship you forever?
Isn't heaven forevermore?
Do I love you, do I?
Oh my dear it's so easy to see,
Don't you know I do, don't I show you I do,
Just as you love me.

Will I leave you, never?
Could the ocean leave the shore?
Will I worship you forever?
Isn't heaven forevermore?
Do I love you, do I?
Oh my dear it's so easy to see,
Don't you know I do, don't I show you I do,
Just as you love me.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Canine joy  

Mrs. Happy and I currently rent a house in New York. It has some advantages over owning, but many disadvantages as well. Perhaps the most painful disadvantage is that we're not allowed to have a dog. One of the first things we do when we move into a house of our own some time in the future will be to invite a dog (probably a boxer) to live with us. I bring this up not because it has anything to do with marriage, but because I just got my computer fixed and I'm feeling lazy enough to recycle quotes from some books that I've read as well as a short essay I once wrote.

Jollyblogger recently posted a quote by G.K. Chesterton that I had never read, but that makes me want to read more from Chesterton:

But there is something deeper in the matter than all that, only the hour is late, and both the dog and I are too drowsy to interpret it. He lies in front of me curled up before the fire, as so many dogs must have lain before so many fires. I sit on one side of that hearth, as so many men must have sat by so many hearths. Somehow this creature has completed my manhood; somehow, I cannot explain why, a man ought to have a dog. A man ought to have six legs; those other four legs are part of him. Our alliance is older than any of the passing and priggish explanations that are offered of either of us; before evolution was, we were. You can find it written in a book that I am a mere survival of a squabble of anthropoid apes; and perhaps I am. I am sure I have no objection. But my dog knows I am a man, and you will not find the meaning of that word written in any book as clearly as it is written in his soul.

I don't know if Dean Koontz is a Christian, but he is without a doubt spiritual. And he loves dogs. Here's a quote from his novel One Door Away From Heaven:

Every world has dogs or their equivalent, creatures that thrive on companionship, creatures that are of a high order of intelligence although not of the highest, and that therefore are simple enough in their wants and needs to remain innocent. The combination of the innocence and their intelligence allows them to serve as a bridge between what is transient and what is eternal, between the finite and the infinite.
...
For those who despair that their lives are without meaning and without purpose, for those who dwell in a loneliness so terrible that it has withered their hearts, for those who hate because they have no recognition of the destiny they share with all humanity, for those who would squander their lives in self-pity and in self-destruction because they have lost the saving wisdom with which they were born, for all these and many more, hope waits in the dreams of a dog, where the sacred nature of life may be clearly experienced without the all but blinding filter of human need, desire, greed, envy, and endless fear. And here, in dream woods and fields, along the shores of dream seas, with a profound awareness of the playful Presence [of the Creator] abiding in all things, Curtis is able to prove to Leilani what she has thus far only dared to hope is true: that although her mother never loved her, there is One who always has.

From an essay by Will Rogers in 1934:

I have often thought my friend O.O. McIntyre gave more space in his column to his little dog than I do to the United States Senate. But it does show that he knows human nature better than I do. He knows that everybody at heart loves a dog, while I have to try and make converts to the Senate.

In London, five years ago, old Lord Dewar, a great humorist and character, and the biggest whiskey maker in the world, gave [my] children a little white dog, a Sealyham, saying: "If this dog knew how well bred he was, he wouldn't speak to any of us."

We have petted him, complained on him, called him a nuisance, but when we buried him yesterday, we couldn't think of a wrong thing he'd ever done. His bravery was his undoing. He lost to a rattlesnake, but his face was towards it.

From an essay by me in 2001:

I love dogs because they are without a doubt the most lovable creatures inhabiting this world. Puppies live every day as though it were their first, rushing around, playing at every hint of provocation, rejoicing in their lives as if they remember how it was not to live. As they grow, so does their love. Older dogs are mellower than puppies, not out of fatigue or boredom but rather maturity. An older dog understands the deeper value of life, especially the life of a loved one. An older dog has a better understanding of the complexity of human emotions than many humans do. The very presence of a dog can drain negative feelings out of anyone, and their service to mankind has been well documented in literature, TV, film, and oral tradition. Every single dog that I've had for more than two weeks left an indelible imprint on my life.

I think that people who don't like dogs fall into two broad categories: people who like cats better, and people who don't like animals at all. I can only pity people who don't like animals. They deprive themselves of the unspeakable joy of communing with other of God's creatures. Of people who prefer cats over dogs, I hold the opinion that <deleting some nasty comments about cats and the people who like them more than dogs—I've mellowed a little in the last three years - Curt>.

Any other animal, with the possible exception of the horse, requires little in the way of maintenance, affection, time, and love. And any other animal, again excepting the horse and maybe the dolphin, provides nothing like what a dog does in the way of loyalty, companionship, and unabashed fun. <deleting a few more nasty comments> People who love dogs understand that the rewards of relationship are far greater than the conveniences of coexistence.

I think E.B. White also had some wonderful things to say about dogs, and I know James Thurber did, as well as Fred First, but I've already exceeded—for the first time, I think—my self-imposed limit of 1,000 words per post. I'll have to save those for another time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

technology is wonderful  

We are experiencing technical difficulties. I may not be posting anything for a few days until I get a computer issue resolved.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Marriage advice  

Yesterday I was cleaning out one of our kitchen drawers and I found what appeared to be a collection of recipes bound together by a single metal ring. I looked at them more closely and saw that the first recipe card proclaimed "Recipe for A Wonderful Christ-Centered Marriage! We All Love You!" It was a party gift from one of Mrs. Happy's bridal showers back in March of 1998. All the ladies at the shower wrote marriage advice on recipe cards and gave them to her at the end of the shower. Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom we received early on. (These were all hand-written. I have tried to preserve all the capitalizations, spellings, and notations as much as possible.)

Make the big effort to "make memories." Right now it will al be special, joyful times. In a year or two…it may take more effort~but it will all be worth it. Have Candlelight dinners once a week! (it makes it all taste better AND do this once the kids come too :) Surprise Kurt with notes of love in his lunch box - socks drawer… Ask His mom how to fix his favorite meal & dessert…then do it! Make every day Precious!

Never go to bed angry with one another.

<this card consisted of a picture of a gingerbread man with the various body parts labeled>
• eyes to always look for the best in each other
• ears to always listen
• arms to give a hug every morning & every evening
• an extra large heart to always forgive and always big enough for growing love
• feet with no heels, so you can never turn & run away, but always move forward together

Always remember to keep God first, then each other. Don't let all the business of life start to become more of a priority than each other. When children come along remember they do not come before the husband or the wife. Remember:
God - first
family - second
everything else - third

One word for your stable marriage: forgiveness. It worked for us!

1) Have plenty of laughs. Make lots of jokes especially when circumstances aren't perfect. 2) Cook in large quantity and freeze the leftovers.

I can say for sure that this is all good, practical advice. Still, we didn't really listen to it or understand it at the time. Having been through six years of marriage and learning this all from experience, it makes a lot more sense now.