Saturday, July 31, 2004

Technical Difficulty  

Curt is experiencing technical difficulty in the form of a downed phone line. He will not be able to post until Wednesday at the earliest. In the meantime, feel free to check out my site Peachwater, Tx.

Friday, July 30, 2004

His and Hers XIX  

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 is your favorite joke?

Mrs. Happy's response

<Mrs. Happy has had an exhausting week and fell asleep before she could come up with a response. I know that she's always been partial to A horse walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Why the long face?" but I can't say for sure that it's her favorite joke. Perhaps tomorrow she'll be able to come up with something.—Curt>

Curt's response

Adam was in the Garden of Eden questioning God about Eve. "God," said Adam, "why did you make the woman so beautiful?"

"So that you would love her," said God.

"Okay," said Adam. "But why did you make her so stupid?"

And God replied, "So that she would love you."

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Love and commitment  

I don't have much time to write today, but I would like to share something. The pastor of my church, Steve Switzer, focused his sermon last Sunday on marriage, adultery, and divorce. You can listen to it online in MP3 format. It's about an hour long, but the whole thing is a blessing so listen to as much of it as you can.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A few quotes  

"Did I pick the right person? This question inverts the starting and ending points. We do not pick a perfect match because we ourselves are not perfect. The universe hands us a flawless diamond—in the rough. Only if we are willing to polish off every part of ourselves that cannot join do we end up with a soul mate." —Hugh and Gail Prather, Only If We Are: Notes to Each Other

"What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow." —Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Newlyweds become oldyweds, and oldyweds are the reasons that families work." —Anonymous

"In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage." —Robert Anderson, Solitaire & Double Solitaire

"In the opinion of the world, marriage ends all, as it does in a comedy. The truth is precisely the opposite: it begins all." —Anne Sophie Swetchine

"One of the good things that come of a true marriage is, that there is one face on which changes come without your seeing them; or rather there is one face which you can still see the same, through all the shadows which years have gathered upon it." —George MacDonald

"You should never kiss a girl unless you have enough bucks to buy her a big ring and her own VCR, 'cause she'll want to have videos of the wedding." —Jim, age 10

"It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I'm just a kid. I don't need that kind of trouble." —Kenny, age 7, when asked if it's better to be single or married

Monday, July 26, 2004

The paradox of manhood  

I like movies. I like watching them, thinking about them, analyzing them, and talking about them. I can offer a measured opinion of nearly every movie I've ever seen. Some of those opinions are more controversial than others, especially among sci-fi and comic book geeks. For instance, I think Batman Returns (which featured Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Danny Devito as the villains) was superior to Batman (starring Jack Nicholson), and that Gene Wilder would have been an exponentially better Joker than Nicholson could ever have aspired to, and that I will never forgive Nicholson for destroying what could have been a great movie. I think that the ending of The Usual Suspects ruins what is an otherwise excellent movie. I also think Fight Club is a total chick flick.

Trust me, I have good reasons for all those pronouncements, but I'll explain the last one because it's relevant to today's post. See, I have a theory, which may be right or not—feel free to disagree in the comments—that women are drawn to warriors and repulsed by aggression. There is something primal and intensely masculine about a man who can lay waste to all around him, and a woman feels her own femininity in direct proportion to her man's masculinity. However, women are also gentle creatures and often feel shock and horror at the idea that a man would be capable or desirous of inflicting harm upon another human being. This is a contradiction that has plagued sensitive high school boys ever since the first high school was built. "They say they like sensitive guys and yet they only date jocks," is the plaintive cry of every non-athletic adolescent male.

Well, Fight Club eliminates the contradiction. Here is a group of men who fight each other for no reason at all. They have no feelings of ill will or aggression, they (usually) stop before anyone gets hurt, and they're all friends afterward. Fight Club is a school for turning men into the perfect blend of warrior and pansy. Throw in a few scenes of a shirtless Brad Pitt and you have a movie that leaves guys wondering, "What was the point of all that?" while their dates drift off in reflective reverie. I would bet that most men who say they like that movie enjoyed it only because they thought they were supposed to. Like I said, though, I could be wrong.

Anyway, however women feel about men's physical prowess on a field of battle or athletic competition, men want women to be impressed by their skills in those arenas. I'm no exception. Problem is, I'm not really that athletic. I'm too small for football, too short for basketball, too slow for soccer, and too uncoordinated for hockey. I do possess a fierce competitive streak, however, and that sometimes gives me an edge against more capable but less driven competition when I do participate in a game. I'd like it if my wife recognized that and felt some measure of pride because of it, but she rarely sees me play any sport at all because it just doesn't interest her.

Recently, though, our church had a picnic in the local park in which the youth group challenged the church deacons to a game of dodgeball. We accepted the challenge…and beat them into the ground. I hadn't played dodgeball since the age of 12, at which time I was the smallest person on the court by 100 pounds. This time, the teenagers only outweighed me by 25 or 30 pounds, and for some reason they seemed a little intimidated by the old men. Let me tell you, I made some spectacular plays. Both my teammates and our opponents were wowed by my performance. After two games in which the rickety grownups dominated the vigorous teens (some of them jocks, even, heehee), I found my wife and asked, "Did you see me out there?" Her reply? "Oh, I watched for about five minutes, but then I heard someone singing and went over to listen."

So maybe my theory about women being drawn to warriors is a little wacky. I hope so. That dodgeball game was two weeks ago, and I'm just now beginning to be able to move without feeling the tortured protest of every muscle in my body.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

King of Fools posts about an accident in which he, his wife, and his three children lost their family pet. His children's reactions to the event are touching and worth reading about (Beyond the rim shares something similar on his blog). KoF later took his family to meet another puppy that will soon be joining their family, bringing them all a renewed sense of hope.

Miss Manners finally talks about blogs. Her main concern is blogdom's potential for gossip. That's not a problem on any of the blogs I read, but I can see her point: "The polite person at least gossips discreetly and without malice. Blogs do not qualify as being discreet. "

Marriages Restored has some information about the dangers of Internet affairs. It even includes a quiz to see if you're in danger of an online affair.

Joe Missionary takes a critical look at the theology of polygamy. Check out his other posts, too. He writes a lot of good stuff about being on the missions field in Asia with his wife and one-year-old son.

Friday, July 23, 2004

His and Hers XVIII  

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 is your favorite kind of weather?

Mrs. Happy's response

Rain and sunshine at the same time. It's rare, it's beautiful, and it holds the promise of a rainbow.

Curt's response

Misty autumn dusk at about 55° (13°C). I don't know why, but it makes me think, "This is how life ought to be."

Thursday, July 22, 2004

More heart stuff  

Many of you read about our misadventures in Arizona—if not, read the whole story part 1, part 2, and part 3. We have since chalked Curt's condition up to low potassium levels, and have adopted the mindset that "a banana a day keeps the PVCs away," but lately that hasn't been the case. Despite a steady monkey diet, Curt has been feeling strange again, warranting more visits to the cardiologist. This has brought back unpleasant memories for me about those days in the hospital with him, but it also reminds me of the faith and fortitude with which we were able to get through them. As an artist, I tend to process my feelings through my artwork, and I would simply like to revisit a collage I did about that time and share it here.

Right now, the doctors are of the opinion that there's nothing to worry about and that the causes and results of the PVCs are completely benign. Thank you for keeping up with our marriage, and thank you in advance for your prayers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Affinities  

In the marriage class I mentioned on Tuesday, my wife and I each did a personality inventory and found that despite our different interests, we have a lot of similar traits. Here's how we match up in four different quadrants of our personalities:

Leader

determined
competitive
enjoys challenges

Partier

creative

Friend

loyal
non-demanding
even keel
deep relationships
adaptable
sympathetic
thoughtful
nurturing
patient
tolerant
good listener

Worker

controlled
reserved
practical

Of course, this is only where we match up. My wife is much more of a partier than I am, so she had more attributes in that quadrant, while I'm more of a leader than she is, so I scored higher there. We found, though, that both of our personalities center around relationships—the deeper the better. That's a big part of why we're so close. Our needs and ways of expressing love complement each other quite nicely. We also both have a laid-back attitude toward life that lends itself to compromise when our interests don't coincide. We also have the same goals and a mutual dedication toward reaching those goals. We do have our disagreements, but the commitment we've made to each other's well being and the investments we've made in each other's lives always (eventually) overcome any conflicts that may arise.


NOTE: I used a width="100%" attribute in this opening table tag. It looks fine on my computer, but I learned from the last table I posted that Windows machines interpret things differently. Please let me know in the comments if this table isn't appearing properly.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Differences  

NOTE: This formatting issue is confounding me. The only thing the slightest bit strange about the table below is that I originally posted it with an align="left" attribute in the opening table tag. I have now removed that. It displays fine for me, but it always has. If someone with a Windows PC can see it (or not), please leave a comment letting me know.


I mentioned last week that my wife and I are taking a class at church that focuses on strengthening marriages. One of the exercises we did was an inventory of our interests, which brought to light how different we actually are. We completed a chart (see below) that spelled out the differences rather starkly.

When it comes to… I like My spouse likes
sports team sports tennis
movies science fiction and fantasy tales dramatic, psychological, and relational stories
being an early bird or a night owl staying up late sleeping late
driving expressing frustration and letting out the road rage staying calm and giving people the benefit of the doubt
holidays visiting family spending time alone together
money and spending buying books and music buying clothes and art supplies
attending social occasions staying home or spending time with one or two friends parties, get-togethers, and shindigs, but not galas, hootenannies, or box socials
going out on a date staying intimate and casual dressing up and patronizing classy dining and entertainment venues
reading nearly anything realistic fiction
keeping the house clean enacting a laissez-faire policy toward cleaning keeping things neat, with as little effort as possible
food fast food and easily prepared comfort food at home interesting, nutritious meals

We also found that apart from interests, our personalities are pretty similar. I'll go into that a little tomorrow.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Toni has some thoughts about what it means to be in submission to one's husband as the church is to Christ.

Donald Sensing offers some sobering statistics about modern men's attitudes toward marriage. In another post, he quotes Michael Williams, who says of marriage in general, "Most men don't strive to be worthy of submission, and most women don't strive to be worthy of dying for."

Irene writes about waiting for the right man to come along.

Marla Swoffer (Proverbial Wife) shares her thoughts on divorce, adultery, and remarriage. They are well worth reading. These are difficult topics, and she gives them a good treatment.

One columnist shares 50 suggestions for making a marriage happy, and ends with this: "Keeping our commitment to God and to each other will keep our marriages from breaking up, but honoring and serving each other in marriage can make coming home a wonderful haven that each spouse continually will love coming home to year, after year, after year."

Here's an interesting take on love and passion from a columnist in Tanzania.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Reminiscence No. 5  

I've been receiving a fair number of links and new visitors in recent months, which reminds me that a lot of people reading this have never read some of my past work. Since I don't focus on current events here, most of my posts remain as relevant today as they were when I wrote them four months ago. So, in an effort to serve those who don't want to filter through the voluminous archives, and in another effort to avoid writing something original, I periodically post links to myself so that the new folks can share a little of The Happy Husband's past. Here are a few from February and March:

That's it. I kind of went through a dry spell this past winter, but there were still a few nuggets I'm proud of. If you like these posts, you can find some that are even better by reading Reminiscences No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

RLTB™  

Earlier this evening, Mrs. Happy and I began attending a class at church aimed at helping married couples develop stronger, more Christ-centered relationships. This class will last the rest of the summer (or winter, for my friends south of the equator), so just assume that real life trumps blogging on Wednesdays for the next couple of months.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

A word from Mrs. Cranky Happy  

This is Mrs. Happy, and I made a big mistake today. As part of the process of making up for it, I saw it fit to let Curt’s entire blogdom know how imperfect his wife can be. Hopefully it will turn into a healthy bit of marital education to others as well.

I like to snooze…I'm not talking simply about sleep, but serious, hit-the-snooze-button-at-least-four-times hard-core snoozing. I'm also a very heavy sleeper, so it takes me a few minutes to understand that the noise coming from the alarm clock is not a dream. Curt, on the other hand, becomes semi-conscious at the sound of a pin drop, and quickly shuts off the annoying alarm by hitting the snooze. This morning, he hit the snooze several times so quickly that I never had a chance to actually wake up and realize what was happening, and by the time Curt told me what time it was, I had just barely woken up, only to realize that I had precious little time to get ready for work. Did I mention also that I am horrifically cranky in the morning? To make a rushed and frustrating story even shorter, my evil, pre-coffee madness was at an all-time high this morning, and I left the house with some harsh words, and in a less than affectionate "Mrs. Happy" state. By the time I got my coffee and finished my commute, I hadn't given it a second thought. By the time I got home, it was as if nothing negative (between Curt and me) had ever transpired at all. Meanwhile, Curt had had a rotten day all day long because his feelings were hurt, and I had no idea. I guess part of me thought that he should have learned by now that I am not myself (or a semblance of any other pleasant person) in the mornings, and should have taken this morning with a grain of salt. Then I realized that our rule about never going to bed angry should also apply to leaving the house. We should never part company without some combination of the following: a hug, a kiss, and a sincere "I love you."

Monday, July 12, 2004

Extravagant love  

I love my wife. She has met and surpassed every expectation I've ever had about marriage. In fact, just today she said to me, "Curt, I'm so glad you're not hideous."

Mark one more fantasy down as fulfilled.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

I mentioned in Thursday's post how Doug McHone (Coffee Swirls) praised his wife on his blog. If you didn't read his post then, read it now.

Over at Spare Change, Bryan confesses to some personal deficiencies in how he deals with his wife sometimes. It is a penetrating, intimate look at how he sometimes fails and has to humble himself in order to restore himself and his marriage. He brings to this post the sort of insight we should all aspire to.

"Do soulmates exist? Why or why not?" That's the entirety of Joshua Claybourn's post from Tuesday. The comments are worth reading, though I think soulmate needs to be defined in the question if the debate is to have any validity. I define soul mate in terms of what I have experienced, so in my mind they absolutely exist. In fact I once wrote in this very space:

A soul mate…is someone completely different from you. When you meet her, you may take an immediate liking to her or you may not. But eventually, you grow into each other so that the two of you are inextricably bound to one another. Your souls, in effect, mate.…Soul mates make each other better than either of them could be on their own. …if you can't find a soul mate, it may be because you're searching for a perfect match of personalities or settling for a safe harbor friend rather than recognizing the radical intimacy that's possible when two different souls mate.

Jollyblogger has some good news about marriage from bad statistics.

Newsweek's cover story this week was titled The Secret Lives of Wives, detailing how modern women have more opportunity and inclination to cheat on their husbands than they have in the past. Vincent at World Magazine Blog takes Newsweek to task for their faulty assumptions and misguided conclusions. Ben, of Marriages Restored, has some even stronger things to say about the story's failure to examine the tragedy and trauma caused by affairs and, in another post, its bewildering interpretation of the movie Unfaithful.

Friday, July 09, 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:

This week's question is two-fold:
a) What was the stupidest thing anyone said to you at the beginning of your marriage?
b) How would you have responded if you had no manners or tact?

Mrs. Happy's response

a) (when we were still newlyweds) "You're young and in love, but just wait a few years and it'll wear off."
b) "You don't know the first thing about my marriage. Don't project your own misery onto me."

Curt's response

a) (when we were engaged and not yet married) "So, are you excited about getting married?"
b) "I'm a 25-year-old virgin. What do you think?"

Thursday, July 08, 2004

An excellent wife  

I had a professor in college who was one of the world's foremost experts on the book of Proverbs. He told us once that the 31st chapter of that book—the one that lays down impossibly high standards for wives—used the word wife as a metaphor for wisdom rather than a literal term. I'm sure he elaborated, but I can't remember any of his reasons for thinking that. When I read it, it certainly seems to be speaking about wives. And though he may be the smartest person in the world when it comes to that subject, he's the only person I've ever heard offer that opinion. But that's neither here nor there.

I'm thinking about Proverbs 31 because Doug wrote a beautiful post this week in tribute to his wife, and it nearly made me cry to see the love he has for her and that he's willing to express in such a public fashion. It also made me think. I read over the chapter and applied it to my own marriage. As I said before, its standards are impossibly high. But in many ways they are still applicable to modern marriage. In any case, verses 10–31 prompted these thoughts about my wife:

I'm so glad she married me.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Husband, heal thyself  

I once mentioned my friend Kenny in a post that focused on how Christian men can encourage one another. Recognizing the need for and the absence of such encouragement in the lives of many men, Kenny recently started up a men's ministry at our church. I asked him to write a guest post for The Happy Husband and offer encouragement to other husbands who read this site. — Curt


"I have more trouble with D. L. Moody than any other man I know." Those were the words of an evangelist used greatly by God named Dwight L. Moody.

You may be wondering what on earth does that have to do with marriage? The response is that it has volumes to do with marriage. Before I met with my wife and entered into a marital relationship, one of the statements I heard often was that marriage is hard and requires a lot of work. The spirit in which it was stated carried somewhat of a regretful tone to it. Because I heard it stated many times and by people, I've come to realize that many spouses feel that marriage is difficult due to the complexity or shortcomings of their spouse.

When I married my wife on September 7, 2002, I felt that I married the most incredible woman God ever created, and I'm still convinced of it. However, since that time I've grown to realize that incredible and perfection are two separate topics of discussion. I can say with certainty that she is not perfect, and at times her imperfections irritate me. But her imperfections are not the reasons that I would say that marriage is difficult or is a lot of work.

The most challenging obstacle that I face in marriage everyday is ME. Like my wife, I am imperfect and I'm sure my imperfections contribute to the complexity and hardship that arise in our relationship. I'm not narrow-minded enough to believe that our marriage would be significantly better if she would make certain modifications in her behavior that could reduce my irritability. Our marriage can change for the better when I attack my imperfections fearlessly. To do this, I must be willing to come to a place of honesty about my areas of weakness that do contribute to the labor and challenge of our marriage. I'm convinced that when two people in a martial relationship endorse this way of thinking, the amount of conflict is reduced and resolving conflict becomes less challenging.

I'd like to remind you that your spouse is not your enemy. God's design for marriage is that two become one flesh before him. They are to cleave together spiritually, physically, and emotionally. So often in marriage we can function in a divided state by allowing the imperfections of our spouse to shape the outlook we have of them. The key is to focus on your own imperfections and make whatever change is needed that is for the better.

In closing, when you retire from insisting that your spouse must change in order for your marriage to get better and begin addressing your imperfections, you will find that your spouse will be more open to addressing their imperfections as well.

God's richest blessings upon your marriage,

His servant,
Kenny Morgan

Monday, July 05, 2004

Excuse the mess  

Blogger, my blogging service, recently introduced some exciting new features. One that I really wanted to take advantage of was its new archiving capabilities allowing every post to have its own page rather than having to share a page with a week's worth of other posts. I had some time today, so I sat down to improve my archives and succeeded only in screwing them up worse than they were before. Things look okay here on the main page, but click any permalink, and you'll see what I mean. I'll have to spend some time figuring this out.

Update: Problem fixed. I'll resume regular posting tomorrow. Please e-mail me if you experience any problems with this site, technical or otherwise.

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 XVI  

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.