Saturday, July 03, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Two columnists debate the question: "If your spouse has been institutionalized for years with no hope of recovery, is infidelity acceptable?" I fear that question would be a boring topic for His and Hers on this site. No matter what the if statement might be, my wife and I both would answer with a resounding "NO." (User name: Joe | E-mail: ajc@donotremove.net | Password: password) (Thanks to Julie for the link.)

Speaking of Julie, she wrote a post this week about this The Happy Husband, Marriages Restored, and her own relationship with her husband. Her site doesn't have permanent links for individual posts, so go there and read the June 29 @ 6:32 p.m. entry.

Bryan at Spare Change posts a tribute to his wife on the occasion of their ninth anniversary.

Marriages Restored has a post about how husbands and wives have different priorities when it comes to cherishing and respecting each other.

Friday, July 02, 2004

His and Hers XVII  

His and Hers is a weekly discussion of a question or topic relating to marriage. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the week's topic. I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week's question is:

What do you appreciate most about your spouse's sense of humor?

Mrs. Happy's response

<<Editor's note: Mrs. Happy is currently incapacitated by fatigue. She went to sleep the moment she got home from work, and I didn't want to wake her up for this. We'll fill this space with her response some time tomorrow (Saturday). —Curt>>

Curt's response

I love her random silliness. It doesn't exist at anyone's expense, it doesn't depend on specialized knowledge, and it doesn't require me to be in a good mood. It just expresses a spontaneous joy for life, reminds me afresh of her humanity, and creates for me a sense of well-being that I can't find anywhere else.

Mrs. Happy's belated response

I had very high standards when looking for a potential mate, and one of the top characteristics I absolutely required was a sense of humor. I had grown up with terrifically funny parents and brothers, and there was no way I was going to go through the rest of my life with a person who couldn't laugh at himself, others, and the myriad of ridiculous circumstances that make up our lives. So first and foremost, I'm just thrilled that Curt has such a great sense of humor. My favorite aspect of this is his gift for storytelling. He can take the most mundane or terrible circumstance and tell its story with such animation and colorful language, that his listeners can't help but giggle and/or spew laughter uncontrollably. This is especially a blessing while we are actually experiencing the mundane or terrible circumstance, as inevitably one of us will turn to the other and say, "Well, at least this will make a great story!"

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Hope for the hopeless  

I once wrote:

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.

That's not to say that anyone should try to discourage a single person from hoping. Just don't offer false hope. Earlier today, I ran across an old letter of mine to my friend Matt (long story how I came to have a copy of it) that may offer some semblance of hope to single people longing for companionship. Let me disclaim here: I was in a desperate situation at this point in my life, and the letter contains ideas I do not usually express with language I do not usually employ. Here's an excerpt, edited only for relevance:

Matt, I am so lonely. If I only had a match, all my cares I'd soon forget. All I'd need would be a match if I had a cigarette. And if I had a cigarette, I could watch the smoke rings curl. But I'd really be all set if I only had a girl (from an old Al Jolson song). I just don't understand why I can't, why I've never been able to find a girl. I don't want to start feeling sorry for myself, but it seems that whenever I'm attracted to someone, something makes a romantic relationship impossible. Maybe she's got a strange religion, maybe she's got a boyfriend, maybe she's got a penis, but something always stands in the way. Is it me? Am I attracted to women only if I can't have them? Or is there some global conspiracy to keep the attractive, intelligent, single Christian women away from me? Or is it just my stupid luck? …All the girls at my church are engaged or attached. There's nothing left for me. My friends are all married. Why did I get left behind, alone?

I was sitting here at the computer one night playing solitaire and listening to Company [i.e., the CD soundtrack for a musical play by Stephen Sondheim–Curt]. One line kind of struck me as strange: "Poor baby, sitting there, staring at the walls and playing solitaire / Making conversations with the empty air, poor baby." I though about that a minute and said, "Boy, that would be a pitiful existence."

Please forgive me if I sound like a pathetic wretch. Really I'm all right.

Is that encouraging? I wrote that six months before I met the future Mrs. Happy. Things seemed hopeless, as is life were a dead end. God has a way of making amazing things happen, though. The evidence is in this blog's title. There's no such thing as a dead end in His kingdom.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

An open letter to newlyweds  

(inspired by Jessica's comment on Saturday)

Dear newly married person,

I'd give you some sage words of advice, but I know from experience that unsolicited advice has no effect. I'll just try to offer some encouragement instead. Marriage is a gift of God, and as is the case with all Godly gifts, this world we live in is overtly hostile to the idea, institution, and practice. Sometimes your new life will bring you nothing short of absolute bliss. Sometimes your heart will swell with such joy that you fear it may burst. Sometimes your heart will ache with the pain you cause and with the pain caused to you. Sometimes you will find sweet fellowship with others who cherish marriage, though sometimes you may feel that you're the only one(s) trying to honor your commitments. Just know that you're not alone, that others love marriage as much as you do and that marriage can be better than you ever imagined when you were single. You'll cry tears of disappointment, anger, fear, happiness, affection, and gratefulness, just as we all do. Remember that in spite of numerous declarations you'll hear to the contrary, marriage can be enriching, empowering, and full of love.

Here's a bit of unsolicited advice after all. Never take your marriage or your spouse for granted. Revel in the bliss, grow through the heartache, laugh through everything, and always keep your focus on God.

Sincerely,

Curt

 

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

On birthdays, both happy and not  

I celebrated my birthday this past Saturday. The day marked the beginning of my 33d year on this earth, and it didn't depress me a bit. There have been times when I have found June 26 to be a day more appropriately devoted to mourning than celebration, but this year I felt content about my life and excited about the future.

In my childhood and adolescence, my birthday actually marked the passage of significant life events, mainly the graduation from one level of schooling to the next. Since my birthday fell during summer vacation, it always signified to me that one chapter of my life had closed while another was about to begin. That changed during my third (of seven) year of undergraduate study. At the age of 20, I could not imagine my life going anywhere good, or really anywhere at all. Four difficult years of college had brought me no closer to earning a degree than two good years would have (due to a few school transfers, a change of major, a slew of bad grades, and some personal difficulties). I had been working at low-paying manual labor jobs. I had one friend who lived a thousand miles away (2,500 km, I think) but none where I lived. I felt like I had no real home, having moved too many times to grow roots. You know the uncertain man James mentions whose doubts cause him to be tossed about like foam on the waves? That was me. At that point in my life, a birthday served only to remind me that my previous year had been as stagnant as a land-locked, algae-filled swamp, and that the next year held little promise of anything better.

I remember one particular birthday—my 23d, I think—when the future Mrs. Happy took me to a Cajun restaurant for my birthday. At that time, it had not occurred to me that she would make an amazing wife even though I already loved her ("as a friend," I insisted even to myself) more than I had ever loved anyone. She beamed for the entire evening, such was her joy for life and for me. The sight of her almost sufficed to enliven my pathetic existence, and even though I appreciated her efforts I was too caught up in my own perceived misery to enjoy the attention. The cycle of yearly stagnation and birthday depression repeated itself for five years.

If I remember correctly, 1997 (No. 25) was the first happy birthday of my adult life. My Happy Best Friend had earned a Bachelor's degree, and I would received mine in December of that year. We held hands on the day of her graduation, sort of coming to a mutual realization of a love deeper than friendship. I still had no ideas about a career or life after college, but I had grown enough in faith to trust the future to God. Since then, I have made a conscious effort to progress in life every year so that the arrival of my birthday would mark a sort of milestone the way it did in my childhood, only better. I still experience doldrums, of course, but one of the joys of my marriage is that I have someone to help me out of the stagnant times. I also have the privilege of helping her out of her own funks when they occur. It's true what the book of Ecclesiastes says: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?" I thank God for her. She makes my birthdays happier than ever.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Marriage links for last week  

I'd like to thank everyone who e-mailed me birthday wishes. The day was wonderful. I was just going to skip the links for last week, but the blogosphere had some marriage posts too good to ignore, so here they are:

Stacy reflects on her attitudes toward her husband and ponders what it would mean to honor him in a Godly fashion.

Joe Missionary (another blogger I'll add to my sidebar when I get a chance to fiddle with my template) wrote last week about a husband's influence in a marriage. What he wrote went nicely with my post on the subject, though we each wrote independently.

Jeremy at Parableman offers a stringent test for young couples to see whether they're ready to have children. Funny, but in many ways living with a small child seems a lot like being a bachelor.

Rey sends up a prayer for his son as he grows.

This has nothing to do with marriage, but with my other passion: dogs. It's a story about how a puppy was able to prevent a Canadian man from going on a killing rampage with a car full of guns and ammo.