Tuesday, March 30, 2004

More laughter  

This is an actual conversation that made me laugh pretty hard:

Mrs. Happy (singing)
I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Me (thinking)
Wow. I knew that someone took that clever spoonerism originally coined by Dorothy Parker and used it as the basis for a country and western song, but I've never actually heard the song. I've sometimes wondered whether the rest of the lyrics would match the wit in Parker's statement, but I've never been in a position—while I'm wondering, that is—to look up the words or ask someone who knows them. And here I find that my wife knows them, except that she's stopped singing.

Me (speaking)
Do you really know that song?

Mrs. Happy
Kind of. That's really the only line I know.

Me
Oh.

Mrs. Happy
And I don't know the tune at all.

Me
::hysterical laughter::

Monday, March 29, 2004

Reminiscence No. 3  

Most blogs cover timely topics and, as such, their content has a fairly short shelf life. I try to make my posts more timeless since I want to be celebrating marriage for a long time to come. The number of visitors to this site has increased every month since I've started, though, which means that new visitors miss out on past posts that are as relevant today as they were four months ago, and as I hope they will be years from now. So every six weeks or so I indulge in a particular brand of egocentrism and highlight some of my favorite past articles, a practice based on the assumption that new readers are really missing out on good stuff if they don't browse the archives (and I'm not big-headed enough to think that anyone but maltagirl has ever actually done that). I've done this twice, calling attention to particular posts from the first twelve weeks of my blogging career. Here are some of the bright spots of weeks 13–18:

If you like those, check out Reminiscences No. 1 and No. 2. (Dec. 19 and Feb. 6)

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

When I sit down to find news articles that celebrate marriage, I go to Google News and type in a search for "good marriage." After I have gleaned all I can from that, I type in another search for "happy marriage." Both searches return quite a few hits, few of them having anything to do with the union of a husband and wife. It seems that marriage exists in the news more as a metaphor than as a reality. I find articles about how Princeton and Edmonton, NJ, complement one another in their contributions to technology, how an on-air personality found the perfect venue for his talents, and how Apple's PowerBook and OS X work so well together. I also get hits on stories containing sentences such as: "The couple seemed to enjoy a good marriage until shortly before the shooting."

Were I a sociologist, I could probably draw an insightful conclusion from the fact that the news media seems to value marriage more as allegory and irony than as a social and spiritual institution. That is certainly the case this week, as Google has given me nothing that speaks positively about actual marriage.

Sometimes I find good material on other blogs, but the problem there is that most of the current conversation about marriage focuses on the gay marriage controversy. There are some exceptions (pretty much everyone in my Personal Blogs sidebar links), but the general lack of marriage celebration on the Internet can be a little disheartening.

If you have a link to an article that speaks positively about marriage, please leave it in the comments.

Friday, March 26, 2004

His and Hers IV  

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday. 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.

What was your initial impression of your spouse when you first met him/her?

Curt's response

I moved to Georgetown, Texas (just north of Austin) during the summer before my junior year in college. I lived with my grandparents all that summer, and when I visited their church for the first time, my future wife was in my Sunday school class. She made no impression on me at all. Her friends made a big impression on me, though. They were the friendliest, most accepting group I had ever met, almost immediately accepting me into their circle as if they had known me since grade school, as most of them had known each other. Throughout that summer I got to know them all fairly well. At summer's end, though, they all dispersed to their various universities, leaving only me and the Happy Acquaintance alone with only each other for company.

I remember the first time she did make an impression on me. She taught Sunday school one week during my first summer in Georgetown. Before class started, she and I were in the classroom with three other people: another guy, a frumpy girl, and a tall, well-groomed, impeccably dressed and highly attractive girl (all college-age, of course). What made me take notice of the eventual Mrs. Happy that day was the way she treated each of the other girls. The frumpy one she treated with a mixture of respect, interest, and recognition of humanity. The tall, well-groomed, impeccably dressed and highly attractive one she treated with a mixture of respect, interest, and recognition of humanity. With the frumpy one, there was no hint of superiority or condescension. With the other, no hint of jealousy or intimidation. I don't believe I had ever noticed someone so comfortable with themselves or confident in their existence.

The second time she made an impression on me was more superficial, but almost as powerful. We went to the lake with the Sunday school class one weekend, and I saw her in a bathing suit. I remember thinking that her everyday wardrobe really did not do her justice.

She made many more powerful impressions on me over the next few years, and continues to do so. But my experience with her taught me that first impressions can be overcome, and thank God for that.

Mrs. Happy's response

Yes, indeed—thank God that first impressions can be overcome, because my first impression of Curt was that he was a total dud. I have but one vivid image of his first morning in Sunday school—he was sitting stiffly in a chair, with every bendable limb positioned at 90ยบ. His oddly pointy facial features seemed permanently fixed in an unnaturally serious expression. In fact, he was the most angular person I had ever seen, and geometry was not my favorite subject.

It wasn't until we started eating lunch together in college that I really started to see Curt as a person—the warm, sensitive, loving man that he is. As our friendship grew, his angles softened and we became inseparable, complementing each other in every way, and that is how we remain to this day.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

RLTB™  

Yesterday I intended to write about why my wife's drawing affected me so deeply. The problem is that I don't think I can really analyze my feelings about it without picking them apart and maybe losing them. I can say, though, that every piece of art my wife creates reflects her heart, and that picture is a beautiful reflection. Also, I have no idea how she's able to capture the essence of dusk with only black ink and white paper.

I'm bringing this up again because I'm short on time and ideas for writing. This will have to be a day when real life trumps blogging.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Someday  

 

My wife recently did this pen-and-ink drawing while contemplating our future. I think it may be my favorite work of hers yet.

This week's question  

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday. 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. Here is this week's His and Hers topic:

What was your initial impression of your spouse when you first met him/her?

Also be sure to visit this week's Christian Carnival for some of the best in Christian blogging.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Welcome encouragement  

I have a friend at church named Kenny. Kenny is my age, as is his wife Lori. Lori leads the choir that I sing in, a choir that sang in front of the church congregation for the first time this past Sunday. After the church service I talked to Kenny for a bit, and he told me that the choir sounded wonderful. I told him Lori had been doing an excellent job leading us. His eyes brightened, his smile widened, and he took on a surpassingly joyful demeanor and said, "Curt, words can't express how blessed I am to be married to such an incredible woman." He went on to describe in detail how much he loves her, how she inspires him, how she completes him, and how thankful he is that God allowed him to meet and marry her.

We went on to discuss his impending fatherhood (they're expecting their child's birth in August). He told me of his thrill at seeing the baby's heart beat in the ultrasound. He told me about his excitement and anticipation of being a father. Mostly, though, he explained to me what an incredible mother Lori was going to be. Interspersed throughout it all, I was able to tell Kenny what an amazing wife I had as well. He drank it all in, seeing that we both shared a fathomless appreciation for our wives that is too uncommon in our society.

I have praised my wife to other men before. On those occasions I usually receive polite nods and/or snide remarks in response. I know that most people don't want to hear about how much I love her, but sometimes I just can't keep it in. Kenny, on the other hand, understood and shared in my joy. Hearing him speak so adoringly of his beloved encouraged me, as did his receptiveness to my words. Before Sunday, I hadn't had any sort of deep conversation with Kenny. But now I know that he's a kindred spirit when it comes to marriage, and I know that I can go to him when I want to share my joy with someone who'll understand.

I know men who love their wives with all their hearts. I know men who treasure their marriages. But I don't believe I've ever had a conversation like the one I had with Kenny on Sunday.

This is the point I was working toward yesterday before I got sidetracked. My marriage is succeeding, and I love my wife more than I could ever describe. I have lived in that condition for almost six years without any such overt and joyful encouragement from other men as what I received from Kenny. But his words truly refreshed me. That, I think, is one way that men definitely should encourage each other. We happy husbands ought to share our joy with one another and so build each other up and sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Unwelcome advice  

Before I was married, I attended a church in Texas that formed a weekly Bible study for men. It focused on Biblical principles of being a man, husband, and father. The third week's session dealt with sexual purity. At 22, I was the youngest man in the class by at least ten years and the only one not married. This fact seemed to give the other men the idea that the best use of our time was to spend the entire session, as well as the next, telling me that I shouldn't have sex before marriage. Most of the men had made that mistake themselves and regretted it, and they felt it their duty to save me from their miserable fate.

It annoyed me because, as I mentioned before, I was 22 years old—not 12. I had had at least ten years to deal with my feelings of sexuality and tempestuous desires. I had had at least ten years to learn how God intended sex to work. My parents, my Sunday school teachers, and my youth leaders had all done an excellent job of teaching me about moral values, right and wrong, and Godly lifestyles. By the time I reached the age of 22, telling me to remain a virgin was pretty much pointless. If I had previously cultivated no conviction against premarital sex, I would have practiced it long before then. If by that age I had not yet engaged in intercourse, it would have been because of a conscious decision on my part, requiring no further instruction on theirs.

It happens that at the time I had, in fact, never had sex, and that by choice. It happens that I continued not having sex until my wedding night, one month before my 26th birthday. It happens that I already understood the importance of engaging in physical intimacy with one and only one person. I suffered through the blissfully horrid temptations of my hormonal youth and on that point emerged victorious where my admonishers had failed. More than once, I wanted to tell people to just shut up, but another thing that my parents, Sunday school teachers, and youth leaders taught me was respect for my elders.

I left the group shortly thereafter. The other men seemed to have nothing to teach me that I didn't already know and understand better than they. I apparently had little to offer them other than an opportunity to feel superior in their past failures. I felt a great deal of disappointment because I had thought that a group of Christian men could meet and encourage each other, build each other up, and sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron. We almost did that one night when one of the men, on the verge of tears, confessed that he never told his wife he loved her. Another man warmly said, "Start tonight," then the leader quickly moved on to the next subject, which probably had something to do with my sex life.


I find now that I have veered off on a tangent and far from my original train of thought, an unfortunate circumstance that another blogger recently praised me for avoiding. I'll try to get that train back on that train tomorrow. Today, though, here's my conclusion: Older men have a God-given responsibility to teach young men to love God's commandments and shun the ways of the world, and also to foster their spiritual growth rather than pummel them with superfluous advice and drive them away from a potential source of valuable support. Again, that wasn't the point I intended to make when I started writing, and it may not even be a point that needs to be made, but there it is.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

One female executive suggests that other entrepreneurs undertake domestic training in addition to business training in order to maintain peace and a happy marriage at home.

A Scottish couple, who defied their parents at the age of 18 by sneaking off to Lockerbie for an impromptu wedding, celebrate their golden anniversary.

"In the world of relationships, the most important numbers to learn are: five to one. That is the ratio of positive interactions to negative ones that predicts whether a marriage will last or become one of the sad statistics of divorce." So says an article in Psychology Today. Personally, I've heard that the ratio needs to be ten-to-one, and that's what I aspire to.

"Two-thirds of unhappy marriages right themselves within five years, and depression and low self-esteem are rarely remedied by divorce." So says another Psychology Today article.

In response to Wednesday's post concerning Steven Curtis Chapman's song I Will Be Here, I received a message from Irene about her favorite love song. Check it out. The lyrics, as she says, are real and powerful.

My favourite love song is by Twila Paris: I Will Never Go.…I've heard Steven Curtis Chapman's song too, but somehow it doesn't move me as much as Twila Paris's does. Maybe because her song is "real": we constantly see marriages breaking up all around us. To stand in the midst of all this brokenness and yet pledge lifelong commitment is somehow poignant.

 

Friday, March 19, 2004

His and Hers III  

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday. 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.

What is the most meaningful gift you've ever received from your spouse?

Curt's response

Two years ago, my wife was preparing to graduate with a Master's degree from her university. During most of her schooling, we had to scrimp and cut corners since we live in an area that has a high cost of living, we had only one income, and all of our savings went to pay tuition bills. She had been working at a school for special needs children to fulfill a hands-on experience requirement for graduation, and they offered her a job for the summer that paid fairly well. Since I had been working a job I didn't enjoy in order to pay for her schooling and help her fulfill her dreams, I thought I was due for a reward and suggested that we use part of her earnings to buy a new iMac.

Mrs. Happy thought that was a lousy idea and let me know it. She doesn't like computers, she had worked to earn this degree, and she would be working to earn this money, so if anyone deserved a reward, it was her. Upon reflection, I decided she was right. I had made sacrifices to support her, but I had always considered it a privilege to be able to make such sacrifices—not to mention that a sacrifice with a reward is no sacrifice at all. We would use a portion of her earnings to celebrate in a way that would reward her for all her hard work.

My birthday falls in a summer month, and that year it fell on a week day on which Mrs. Happy didn't have to work. When I arrived home from work that day I found my wife toiling in the kitchen making chicken pot pie, my favorite dish in the world, when she makes it. She greeted me with a smile, a hug, and a kiss, then led me to the living room. She gave me a birthday gift that turned out to be a Spirograph, one of my favorite toys. Then she told me to sit tight while she got something from upstairs. A few moments later, she called down to me, saying she needed my help with something. As I climbed the stairs, I could hear one of my favorite songs playing. When I turned the corner into the main room, I saw a pristine iMac sitting on my desk, framed with a big blue ribbon and bow, blasting BNL's One Week via iTunes. I believe it's the only present I've ever received that made me openly weep with joy. It wasn't because I wanted the computer so much, but rather it was because my wife had gone to a lot of trouble and expense to get me a gift that she neither understood nor cared about, and all because she loved me.

Mrs. Happy's response

It's really difficult for me to rank Curt's presents, since there have been so many thoughtful, creative, wonderful gifts from him throughout the years. Since he cheated on the movies/music/books list, I'm tempted to just list a whole bunch of my favorites, but I'll narrow it down to one (well, actually two, but I have to mention one to make sense of the other).

Ever since I can remember, I could always look at the front or back of a motor vehicle and see a face—the head/tail lights as the eyes, the license plate (or sometimes a spare tire) as the nose, and the grate or bumper as the mouth. So each car has its own distinct personality or expression to me, and I've pointed this out to Curt on numerous occasions while we're out driving. This car looks mad, that car looks smug, etc. Another one of my little artsy quirks is that I often leave a face made out of food for the waiters to discover after we leave a restaurant table, preferably with the tip if we didn't pay with a credit card.

One Christmas, Curt bought me this little book called Faces, containing photograph after photograph of different everyday objects and juxtapositions of objects that appeared to contain faces. I loved it and showed it to just about everybody I knew; my only problem with it is that I hadn't made the book myself.

Recently, I started making faces for waiters again, and Curt started taking pictures of them, ostensibly to help me acquire material for my own possible photograph book. But this past Christmas, he presented a home-made version of Faces, especially for me, containing photographs of my friends, family members, pets, stuffed animals/dolls, restaurant food faces, and various objects resembling faces. This gift touched me on many different levels. First of all, he put so much time and effort gathering all these photographs from my family and friends (in secret, no less) and designing the layout of the book itself. Also, every person, animal, object, etc., in the book has a very special meaning to me, and having them all together in one little booklet overwhelmed me with joy. Furthermore, the whole idea made me feel truly adored, because it shows that he actually appreciates my creative, often child-like vision of the world. Not only that, but he shares it. I am just so blessed to be married to a man who loves and appreciates me for all that am and want to be!

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Beauty update  

She's even more beautiful today than she was yesterday. I don't know how she does it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Being here  

I've been a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman ever since his first album, though I haven't kept up with his work in recent years. His I Will Be Here, from his third album, More To This Life, is my favorite love song. Here are the words:

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the sun does not appear
I, I will be here
If in the dark we lose sight of love
Hold my hand and have no fear
'Cause I, I will be here
I will be here
When you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind
I will listen
And I will be here
When the laughter turns to crying
Through the winning, losing and trying
We'll be together
'Cause I will be here

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the future is unclear
I, I will be here
As sure as seasons are made for change
Our lifetimes are made for years
So I, I will be here
I will be here
You can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we're older
I will hold you
And I will be here
To watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be here

I will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me

And just as sure as seasons are made for change
Our lifetimes are made for years
So I, I will be here
We'll be together
I will be here

When I first heard the song, the first verse held a great deal of appeal to me. I longed for an unshakable and intimate relationship with a woman. I wanted to commit myself to someone through good times and bad. I wanted to face life with a woman who would be my closest and dearest friend and lover so that we could share every part of ourselves and still feel secure. Before I was married, the first verse perfectly stated what I wanted in a marriage.

I've been married almost six years now, and I find that the second verse speaks to me more. Though the disappearance of the sun in the first verse is a powerful and poetic image, the unclear future of the second resonates to me as more true to life. My wife and I have grown older together and changed together and held onto each other through it all, never knowing what would come next, never knowing how we ourselves would change, much less the world around us. But we have grown and changed as individuals and as a couple, and it has been a joy.

I remember that on my wedding day I thought I would never see a sight more beautiful than the woman who stood before me in that chapel in the woods. I believed that with all my heart until the next day, when I was amazed to find that she had grown more beautiful overnight. I soon discovered that the more I knew her, the more beautiful she became, and now when I wake up in the morning I feel like I'll burst from sheer joy on seeing how her beauty grew while she slept.

The daily business of marriage, the personal and mutual growth, the uncertain future, and the constantly blossoming beauty all surpass the greatest expectations I had when all I wanted was just a lover more sure than the sun.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Real life strikes again  

Mrs. Happy started her new job yesterday. It's full of challenges, but she's up to them. Today we have a lot of household work to catch up on, so I'm just posting this week's His and Hers question:

What is the most meaningful gift you've ever received from your spouse?

(His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday. 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.)

Monday, March 15, 2004

My Passion perspective  

Last year, I played the role of Jesus in my church's Easter production. The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane remains vivid in my memory. I remember trying to understand what Jesus must have been feeling, praying to His Father as His disciples slept, knowing that He was about to lose His lifeline, His connection to the Father. That He sweat drops of blood testifies to the extreme stress He felt at the time, probably greater stress experienced by any man before or since. I can't imagine.

I remember standing on the stage at the front of my church, kneeling in prayer and sensing the presence of the actor portraying Judas behind me and to my left. Having read the script and rehearsed the play, I knew why he was there. I knew what would come next. He would kiss my cheek, cueing an angry mob and a couple of Roman soldiers to rush down the aisle, tackle me, and pretend to beat me. I knew that every member of the mob would play the part well, exhibiting pure hostility in the feigned beating. I also knew that the mob members sometimes got carried away, sometimes misjudged where to safely aim a realistic-looking blow, sometimes slipped up in the excitement of the moment. I had bruises from rehearsal to prove it. It was scary, hearing them run at me from the darkness of the house and knowing the impact was imminent. If I had turned and run, they probably would not have pursued me. If I had put my hands up and told them to stop, they probably would have stopped. I could have stopped it, but that would have ruined everything.

After the last performance, I inventoried my injuries. I had two abrasions on my forehead, a scab on my right elbow, a couple of bruises on my legs, and an invisible wound on my left knee that remained tender for another month or two.

My wife and I saw The Passion Saturday night. Some people say that the movie made the historical events leading up to the crucifixion more real to them. It did that for me in a way. It gave me a better idea of the extent of Jesus' physical pain than I've had. It humanized Mary, Peter, and John for me. Most of all, though, it filled in the gaps of knowledge left by my experience in the play. Compared to the pain Jesus endured, my injuries hurt no more than an eye-blink. I'm sure that as He prayed in the garden, He knew every blow He would receive with far more certainty than what I could gather from my script. I'm sure that in the garden He felt more fear and stress than I will ever know. I'm sure He could have stopped His attackers with more authority and effectiveness than I could ever dream of. But He didn't. That would have ruined everything.

The Passion didn't really give me any new insight into the importance or meaning of the crucifixion. What it did do was inspire me to redouble my efforts to be more like Jesus, carrying out His Father's plan no matter what the personal cost.

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.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Jeremy over at Parablemania looks at an article from The Economist that reports advances in the study of love's effect on the brain. He comes to the conclusion that the science confirms the Christian belief about sex making man and woman become one flesh. (link via Adrian Warnock)

Ryan has been posting pictures of his Leap Day baby over on his site, and that little boy gets cuter every day:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

It seems that many people today actively try to put themselves in bad relationships. Such people must really want to be miserable, but sometimes they just don't know how. Here's a list of ways to maintain a terrible marriage.

Can you put together a puzzle of the 48 continental U.S. States? Apparently, any American third-grader is supposed to be able to do. Here's an online quiz to test yourself. Even having lived in the Southwest, the West, the Midwest, and the Northeast, I failed the first time. I aced it the second time, though, so at least I'm a quick learner.

Friday, March 05, 2004

His and Hers I  

Starting this week, The Happy Husband will feature a weekly installment of a post called His and Hers. Every Friday, my wife and I will both ponder the same question and write a short answer from our differing perspectives. We're starting off with an easy one: Name your five favorite books, movies, and music albums. The only caveats are that each item in your list must be more than a year old, and that the Bible is not a book (the inspired Word of God inhabits a category all its own). I immediately bent the rules to the point of breaking, but Mrs. Happy actually stayed within the guidelines. Here are our answers:

Top Five Books
Mrs. Happy
Curt
Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls Ecclesiastes, Solomon
Holes, Louis Sachar On Writing Well, William Zinsser
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett My Life and Hard Times, James Thurber
I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis

I also should have included A Wrinkle in Time, Great Expectations, Cannery Row, and The Killing Joke, but I couldn't squash them all into a five-item list.

Top Five Music Albums
All This Time, Sting City on a Hill, Various Artists
Parachutes, Coldplay Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 1979 Original Broadway Cast (Stephen Sondheim, composer)
Dulcinea, Toad the Wet Sprocket All For You, Diana Krall
Greatest Hits, Simon and Garfunkel Tonight: Live, Take 6
I Am Sam Motion Picture Soundtrack, Various Artists 25, Harry Connick Jr.

Again, I should have included Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits 1991-2001, Appalachian Journey, and Alanis Unplugged, but for that draconian five-item limit.

Top Five Movies
Life is Beautiful The Princess Bride
The Shawshank Redemption The Sixth Sense
When Harry Met Sally The Muppet Movie
Forrest Gump Raising Arizona
Amélie This Is Spinal Tap

I also would have wanted to include Stand By Me, but figured two Rob Reiner movies were enough.

I should also note that Mrs. Happy is a little upset with me for sneaking in more than five selections in each category, since she had many more favorites she wanted to include. It's my blog, though, so she's just having to deal with her upsetness.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Work in progress (by Mrs. Happy)  

Howdy, bloggers and fans thereof! It's Mrs. Happily Employed, bringing you another guest blog while Curt washes dishes and cooks me dinner! That's right—things are gonna change around here, now that I'm a bread-winner. I'm being a little facetious here, but quite seriously I'm more than a little freaked out by some potentially monumental changes. You see, for the last couple of months I believe I have been engaging in somewhat of a "nesting" process, focusing primarily on improving domestic habits, cooking/eating healthier, getting into good physical shape, maintaining spiritual growth, and adhering to a reasonable budget. I'm nearing the ripe child-bearing age of 30, and it seems that we (particularly I) have been adjusting our lives in preparation for that future event. However, my Happy Husband and I both know that I need to work for a little while longer, both for increased financial security and to better establish my career before the inevitable break in employment when motherhood ensues.

On one hand, the acquisition of this job is a wonderful gift that enables us to move ahead with our responsible plans and break the uncomfortable stalemate we have been facing. On the other hand, I must now drastically shift my mind-set from that of a comfortable, cultivating housewife to that of a tired, stressed, busy career woman, newly committed to the mental well-being of a whole new set of needy people, and in a capacity that is completely foreign to me. I must admit that since I accepted the job, I've been incredibly anxious about the whole idea.

But here's what makes it okay:

  1. The proud and loving sound of my supportive husband's voice over the phone when I first told him the news.
  2. The congratulations from friends and family, especially those who have been praying for this very outcome.
  3. Celebratory free meals!
  4. The relief that we will experience with more income, and the satisfaction I will have in contributing to our funds and future.
  5. The knowledge and contentment that I will again use my God-given gifts to help others and grow further into the person He created me to be.
  6. The verse that I came across in my Bible reading this very morning: "When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?"—Psalm 56:3-4

So though my feeble human mind insists on freaking out once in awhile, I know in my heart that I am deeply loved and supported, that I am created to love and support others, and this job will be a reflection of those truths on many levels. I'll just have to do my nesting on the side.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Employment  

Back in December I wrote about Mrs. Happy's layoff from the best job she'd ever had. The months since then have been a little trying to say the least. We've had to curtail our spending quite a bit. We've had to deal with discouragement, distraction, and sometimes despair. We've discussed, argued, and tried to plan for the future in an uncertain present. But we've also had fun. Her wide-open schedule has simplified our lives to a great extent. She's been able to do more artwork than ever before. She's also been able to do some work at our church that would have been difficult while she was at her old job.

While looking around on the Web about a month ago, she came upon a Web site for a nearby outpatient day treatment center that focused heavily on fostering an artistic, creative environment. That seemed to be right up her alley, perfectly combining her education, experience, and passion for people and art. So she faxed them her résumé and a letter saying she'd love to have an opportunity to work there. The next day, they called and asked her to come in for an interview. A couple of weeks after that, they called her and asked her to come in for a second interview.

She had that second interview today. She called me at noon to tell me that it went well. She called me at 3:00 to tell me she got the job. This continues her streak of being hired for every job she's ever interviewed for. She's very excited and a little scared, because the particular job she's stepping into lies a little beyond her realm of experience. She's brilliant, though, so I'm confident everything will go well.

Thank you all for your prayers during this time. God is good, and He proves it to us over and over again.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

More tomorrow  

I took my wife out to dinner tonight, and there's no time left to blog. Celebrating marriage in the real-life hostile world takes precedent over celebrating marriage in the online world.

Oh, and Ryan's baby was born on Leap Day. So cool.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Going out  

Ever since we started tightening our budget, we haven't gotten out much. We love movies, but now we're saving money by renting everything through Netflix. We also love eating out, but now we're saving money by cooking more. Unfortunately, going to movies and eating at restaurants have always been our two main "things to do out." We enjoy playing games, doing puzzles, and creating art together, but those are typically home-bound activities.

One day last week we went shopping for a friend's birthday present. The experience reminded me how much fun we could have together outside the house. I miss going out with my wife, but I don't know what we can do without spending a lot of money. Winter is just beginning to break here on Long Island, so we'll soon be able to take long walks and maybe play some tennis. Other than that, I'm at a loss.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.