Monday, August 16, 2004

A final thought about small stuff  

It may not have been obvious, but Friday's His and Hers question came almost straight out of the curriculum for the marriage class that Mrs. Happy and I have been attending at church. Last Wednesday, we were supposed to "list 10 small, specific, positive, caring actions that your spouse could do that would make a difference in your marriage." We didn't do it until Friday because we really didn't need to do it at all. The workbook tells us to "Every day, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks, do one of the small actions from your spouse's list." The author says that this step will breathe new life into any relationship, that it will turn every marriage around. The problem is, we already have the happiest marriage in the world. What is there to improve? We love each other and do nice things for each other every day. We laugh in the faces of anyone who dares suggest ways to enrich our already extravagantly wealthy relationship! Had we been able to come up with any other topic for His and Hers, we probably never would have made the lists at all. Why would we?

I thank God that we did. Wednesday's lesson told us that six weeks of spouses doing specific nice things for each other would bring about a dramatic improvement. For us, three days of it has dramatically improved things. There was nothing really wrong on Friday, but by Sunday evening, we had sort of rediscovered how much fun we can have by making an effort to be good to each other. The list helped by bringing our loving actions to the forefront of our consciousness. Sometimes I just sing her a song because I have one on my mind and I'm comfortable singing to her, and she enjoys it. But now when I do that, I know it's not an offhand thing—I know it's something she wants, and she knows I'm doing it to say "I love you."

And oddly enough, it's not the things she does for me that make me love her more—it's the things I do for her. I wrote on Thursday that actions define feelings. I have long known that to be true, but it still surprises me. Love is what you do more than what you feel. Love is the sacrifice of yourself for another person. I love my wife more, and I feel love more, when I'm serving her than I do when she's serving me.

If you're married, I strongly encourage you and your spouse to make your own list. Remember, the actions listed need to be:

 

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Joe Missionary writes about honoring his wife: "It seems to be a cultural thing for husbands and wives to publicly (and jokingly) complain about the other, or even about being married. The joking, though, carries an damaging undercurrent."

Irene writes a lot about being single (and no, Irene, it's not too much). I empathize with her feelings because I was there myself for what seemed like an eternity. This past week, she wrote about her simultaneous conflicting desires to patiently wait and to speculate on the possibilities with every man she meets. She also writes about the difficulty of surrendering to God and staying focused on Him while waiting for someone to enter her life.

Marla, the Provervial Wife, writes beautifully about her third anniversary.

I recently discovered a blog written by Scott and Lori, an engaged couple who live in two different countries for the time being. They obviously love each other and care about building a Godly marriage, so I have added them to the sidebar. This past week, in response to my post about sharing fears with my wife, Lori related her own experience with a health scare and how she handled it with Scott.

Ben, of Marriages Restored, received an ugly e-mail that said, among other things: "Ben, Your marriage is not restored. Once your wife cheated on you, you have no marriage.…You are acting like a fool. The Almighty has a decent woman out there for you. Just have the courage to look." His response exemplifies what love, forgiveness, and grace are all about. If you read none of these other links, read this post.

Pa over at Little House writes about the power of positive memories.

Friday, August 13, 2004

His and Hers XXI  

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 are ten small, specific, positive things your spouse can do for you that would make you feel loved and appreciated?

NOTE: These things must be positive and not something like, "Take your nose out of the paper and pay attention to me for once." There is a follow-up assignment with this question: Read the things your spouse has written and do at least one of them every day.

Mrs. Happy's response

  1. make my lunch and draw a picture on the bag
  2. have a picnic at the park with me
  3. play tennis with me
  4. dance with me to slow music
  5. make my coffee in the morning
  6. compliment me about something I do
  7. take me out to dinner after a difficult day
  8. leave me a sweet message at work
  9. sing me a song
  10. write me a letter and/or make me a card

Curt's response

  1. wash the dishes (that's usually my job)
  2. write a blog post
  3. watch a science fiction movie with me
  4. call me at work just to say, "I love you."
  5. turn off the lights and just listen to music with me
  6. kiss me ten times as soon as we wake up in the morning, and let me do the same
  7. put a loving note in my lunch
  8. bake a batch of those amazing oatmeal-coconut-chocolate chip cookies
  9. set aside some time when I can serenade you with my ukulele
  10. walk with me to the store to get a snack

 

Thursday, August 12, 2004

More small stuff  

I've been thinking a lot about the importance of small things in a marriage for the last couple of days because Minding the Little Things was the topic of this week's marriage class at church. I had to think about this week's lesson in particular more than the others because our pastor was out of town and asked me to lead the class for that evening, so I had to appear knowledgeable. The lesson (not written by me) contained some excellent points:

These points apply to negative things as well as positive things. A tree that can survive hundreds of years through hurricanes, wars, fires, freezes, and droughts can fall to termites. It's important, then, to make sure the positive things in a marriage far outweigh the negatives.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Love the small stuff  

Earlier this week, I was watching a bit of television with my wife. I don't remember which program, but I do remember watching it. I remember sitting on the couch, with Mrs. Happy was reclining on a bean bag chair near my feet. At one point, she reached over to me and started stroking my lower leg in a gesture of pure, loving affection.

That was a small thing. She didn't even think about it, but it made me feel good. It made me feel loved.

It's the big, spectacular things in a relationship that give us the emotional highs, the feelings of bliss, the events that we'll always remember. But it's the little things done every day that make marriage a joy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Sharing  

If you've been reading this site lately, you're aware that I've been having sort of a health concern involving my heart. Basically, my heart sometimes beats too soon then waits a moment before beating again (the second beat is especially strong—strong enough for me to feel in my chest—since blood has built up a little). The effect is that I feel my heart beating randomly rather than steadily. I have had no fewer than five doctors assure me that the condition is completely benign, that it is not harming me in any way and will never do so and that I should not feel any concern for my well-being. When they explain it to me, it makes perfect sense, but then I feel the odd beats pounding against my ribs, I take my pulse and feel my heart seem to stop momentarily, and I get dizzy and lightheaded. Then I realize that there's this little engine inside me that's supposed to run without a rest for 90 years or so, and after 32 it's already missing on a cylinder or two. I must confess that it causes me the concern that my doctors say is unwarranted.

The worst time is at night when I'm trying to go to sleep. When I'm awake, I'm aware of what my heart is doing. I know that if anything happens I can probably get someone's attention before I pass out. Even if I can't, then my falling to the floor will likely not go unnoticed in most situations. If my heart just stops during the day, I can almost count on someone administering CPR and/or calling an ambulance for me. If I go to sleep, though, that's no longer the case. I won't be able to monitor my heartbeat, and nothing in my demeanor will change noticeably if something happens. I've spent a few sleepless nights simply due to fear of losing track of my heart. I prayed about it a lot. I did not, however, share my fears with my wife.

I wondered whether I should tell her how I was feeling. I assessed the situation as objectively and as logically as I could, and I decided that telling her would not alleviate my fear and would serve only to frighten her. So I kept this from her until the day an arrhythmia specialist convinced me to a 99% certainty that I was in absolutely no danger of death. I realized too late how wrong I had been in keeping my fears to myself.

I had based my decision on the wrong criteria. Logic works well in cases where it applies, but it does not really apply in the areas of emotion and relationships. Logic says nothing about how people feel. I know that if my wife were afraid to sleep, I'd want to know. There's no logic behind that desire—I would just want to know. However little I might be able to help, I could at least be more sensitive, more attentive to her needs, and more effectively prayerful. In my case, I didn't give her that opportunity, and now she probably feels cheated and hurt. I understand that, I have apologized, and I have (hopefully) learned a lasting lesson. If anything like this happens in the future, I will not ask myself, "What will telling her accomplish?" Instead, I will ask, "If the situation were reversed, how would I want it handled?"

Monday, August 09, 2004

Decisions  

I had two choices for how to spend my evening: 1) write an insightful blog about how to be a good husband, or 2) take my wife out for some ice cream and intimate conversation. Guess which one I picked.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

Tim at Challies.com tackles the question of what Paul really meant in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 when he implied that it's better to remain single than to marry. He also discusses what he calls the myth of mutual submission within marriage. Both are good reads.

The couple behind the blog Little House celebrates anniversary No. 11.

Miss O'Hara laments the state of modern marriage: "…God created marriage to be the union of two souls, so that each could help the other for the rest of their lives (in part). Marriage should - and can! - be so much more than it has become, and my heart weeps for those who don't understand this, for those who don't know how it can work and how much beauty and wonderment it can add to their lives."

Julie talks about her struggle to be a better wife.

Actor Stephen Baldwin, brother of William and Alec but no relation to Adam, became a Christian through the influence of his wife (link via World Magazine Blog).

Friday, August 06, 2004

His and Hers XX  

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 a symbol of a trait you value in your spouse?

Mrs. Happy's response

I like to think of Curt as a blanket. He's soft and warm, he makes me comfortable and cozy, and he provides security in a world of uncertainty. On a cold, rainy day, I can wrap him around me and feel safe. The rest of the time, I just sit on him.

Curt's response

I love the fact that my wife is affectionate and that her affection originates from love rather than neediness. The best symbol that I can think of is a dog, because there is no love and affection more pure in this world than that of a dog for his human. That's how she is: expressive and not solicitous, loving and not manipulative.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

RLT…uh…something  

It has been a strange week here in the Happy household. I visited a cardiologist who specializes in arrhythmia and learned that my condition is almost certainly benign. However, the fact that it isn't permanently damaging me doesn't alleviate the discomfort, fatigue, and dizziness I've been experiencing. This circumstance has spurred discussions both wonderful and painful between Mrs. Happy and me, and I would love to write about them, but that will just have to wait. I'm too tired and unable to think right now. I need to go downstairs to the…place…where the bed…and things…is.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Ahhhhh...  

Back online and it feels so good. I'll resume posting tomorrow, or maybe Thursday since we have the marriage class at church tomorrow. We'll see.