Marriage heroes

My wife and I are responsible for the quality and success of our marriage
even if the world assembles against us. I truly believe that even if every other
marriage on the planet were to fail, if everyone we know constantly criticized
us for remaining committed to one another, and even if the federal government
outlawed marriage as we know it, Mrs. Happy and I would still be accountable
to God for loving each other the way
He intended. Our world, fortunately, isn’t quite as hostile as all that, but
it is still a generally discouraging place for those of us who value marriage.
So we look for encouragement wherever we can find it, and God has blessed us
with a huge source of encouragement in our pastor and his wife.

Sad to say, but pastors’ families usually fall well short of role model status.
Their wives gossip worse than anyone, and their kids cut a wide swath of mayhem throughout their childhood and teenage years. Steve and Shelley Switzer, along
with their three wonderful children, are notable exceptions to this rule. Every
member of their family loves Jesus and is devoted to ministry. They are a
God-centered family, full of love and worthy of emulation, and they are an
inspiration to my wife and me.

We celebrated our sixth anniversary last week, while Steve
and Shelley celebrated their 18th in December. I asked them each to write
a little something about having been married for that long. I will post their
thoughts tomorrow and Wednesday.

I thank God for them, for their family, and for the example they provide to
all of us.

Marriage links for the week

Ryan talks about how a
marriage’s spice
comes from differences between spouses.

The WorldMag Blog wonders whether Shrek 2 is a pro-marriage
fairy tale
. I haven’t seen it, so I’m reserving judgment on that.

Irene is single and thinks a lot about marriage. She says that her desire
to marry is enhancing
her prayer life
.

James at Loopy Meals thinks it’s hilarious that his
wife finds him attractive
.
I can certainly empathize with his feelings. (Thanks to Irene for the link.)

I ran across an essay this week called Stumbling
Toward a Theology of Getting Married
. It’s a year old, but still fascinating.

Dr. Warnock created a list of his top
ten favorite bloggers
.
Speaking objectively, I must say that he made some quality selections.

Affairs of the heart

Ben at Marriages Restored has
a great series of posts warning against the damage an emotional
affair can do to a marriage. Go there and read part
1
, part
2
, and part
3
. When Mrs. Happy and I were
engaged, she told me that
she felt good to be marrying a man incapable of adultery. I said, "But I thought
you agreed to marry me!" I told her that I’m quite capable of committing
adultery, and that the more I’m aware of my weaknesses, the more I can compensate
for them, thereby lessening the chances of succumbing to temptation. Better
men than I (King
David
, for example) have committed adultery, so it would be arrogant
of me to think that I’m immune to that sin. We discussed that for several hours.
She couldn’t imagine me as an adulterer, but I knew that the moment I think
I have any sin under control is the same moment in which I drop my guard and
open myself up to failure.

We brought it up in premarital counseling, and our counselor confirmed that
every man is capable of adultery and that every good man is constantly on guard
against it. Women aren’t immune to the temptation either. Ben’s story shows
that sex outside of marriage is only one of several ways to commit adultery.
It’s
important
to
guard
your
body,
your
mind,
your
heart, and your spirit. The parts of your life that you leave unguarded are
by definition the parts most vulnerable to attack.

It’s like buttah

Mike Myers used to do a bit on Saturday Night Live in which he portrayed a
character named Linda Richman who had her own TV talk show called Coffee Talk.
She was
an older New York Jewish lady who liberally sprinkled Yiddish words into everything
she said and, two or three times per episode, would find herself overcome with
emotion.
Whenever that happened, she would announce, "I’m
a little farklempt
talk
amongst
yourselves
…I’ll give you a topic and you go with it…Diamond Shamrock sells
neither diamonds nor shamrocks…discuss."

Real life is making me a little farklempt (which means choked up,
according to a Yiddish dictionary,
but I’m using it to mean unable to blog) right now. So I’m going to put out
a topic and hope that a bunch of people comment on it:

A spouse can’t
make you happy. The most he or she can do is make you happier.

Discuss.

Looking back, looking ahead, and celebrating

I met my wife in May of 1994. She was 19. I was 22. It was ten years ago,
but it seems like yesterday. Sometimes I look at her and feel like we’ve
known each
other
for only a couple
of weeks. What a couple of weeks, though.

We
each
had
a lifetime of experiences before we met. Looking back, I can see how my circuitous
life led up to meeting her, and how our meeting served as a springboard for
my
life since. My entire life, from the moment I was born to this moment right
now, seems to have involved her in some way.

I love her. I can honestly say that I can’t remember a time when I didn’t,
and I can’t imagine a time when I won’t. Yesterday
was
the
sixth
anniversary
of
our
wedding
in
1998,
the
first
day
of
our seventh year as husband and wife. I eagerly anticipate finding out
what the future holds.

Marriage links for the week

How is marriage doing? Fox News gives some detailed
statistics
concerning the
state of marriage in the United States.
Not that they have any relevance to specific situations, but they’re still
interesting if a little depressing. Thanks to Ryan for the link.

Messy Christian ponders how marriage would affect
her life
. She seems to think the effect would be bad, but I say it all depends
on whom you marry and how you cultivate the relationship.

Marla has a great story about her sleep-induced
psychosis
. It reminds me of a time when I cooked some soup while Mrs. Happy
took a nap. When the soup was done, I woke her up and told her to come to the
table. She looked at me coyly and said, "The soup’s done? You must have been
coming in here and messing with me quite a bit." I had no idea what she meant.
I tried to help her out of bed, but she fought me off desperately and refused
to
even
sit
up,
saying, "If I get up, it’ll all fall out!" A few moments
passed
and she began laughing hysterically. She laughed for several minutes without
stopping and couldn’t
tell
me
why. She finally was able to come to the table, catch her breath, and tell me
that
she had been vividly dreaming that she was a can of soup. We had been married
less
than
six
months
at the time.

One columnist in an African paper expresses
some doubt
about a study that
assigns monetary value to a year’s worth of good sex as well as a year of a
good marriage. I’m not entirely sure what currency he’s referring to, but if
it’s Rupees, then 100,000 Rupees is roughly equivalent to 2,200 US dollars.

 

Rey says a thank
you
to everyone who’s been praying for him.

His and Hers XI

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday (though I forgot to do that this week). On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the topic. I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week’s question is:

What question do you dread hearing from your spouse?

Mrs. Happy’s response

“Have you written your His and Hers yet?”

This question, invariably posed to me on Friday afternoon, is almost always met with a long, whiny groan, followed by, “Why didn’t you remind me earlier in the week?” whether he did or not. Don’t get me wrong—I think it’s a great “meme,” but by the end of the week, all I want to do is collapse in a heap on the floor, not rack my brain for some witty, insightful blah, blah, blah, heap, blah, blah, floor.…

Curt’s response

“Can you tell I’ve lost weight?”

At least she doesn’t ask if she looks fat. Still, I’m never sure how to answer. I know when she’s been watching her diet and exercising more just because I see her doing it. I also know that probably translates into weight loss. I know she needs the validation, but an ounce dropped from her hips and fraction of an inch from her waist are not obvious the way five inches off her hair are. (Honestly, though, I don’t always notice when she gets her hair cut either.) I see her many times a day every day, and to me she looks the same from moment to moment, and she’s always beautiful.

Q & A time with Curt

I don’t do this very often (actually, I’ve never done this before), but today
I’m going to open the floor to questions. Some of these are questions people
have actually asked. Some are questions people want to ask. Some of them are
questions no one cares to ask. I’m not making obvious which is which in order
not to embarrass people who have asked me silly things.

Q: How old are you?
A: I’m 31 years old. I’ll be 32 in June.

Q: How old do you look?
A: About 20.

Q: How do you stay so young looking?
A: Live clean, drink lots of water, and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Q: Is that why you’re paler
than an Englishman
?
A: Shut up.

Q: Why should I get married when it would mean the end of life as I know it?
A: Marriage is the end of the single life in much the same way that birth is
the end of life in the womb. It’s a huge change, but wow—so worth it.

Q: How long have you been married?
A: It will be six years on Sunday, May 23.

Q: What has surprised you most about marriage?
A: The rapidity with which a woman goes through a roll of toilet
paper.

Q: What do you think should be the boundaries of physical affection in a Christian
dating relationship?
A: Ideally, hand-holding should be the physical limit, and maybe hugging.

Q: That’s weird. Why not kissing?
A: Anything beyond hand-holding is part of a process that leads to
intercourse. Beginning that process and stopping short of intercourse only
serves to frustrate
your
body and create more lustful desire both physically and mentally.

Q: But isn’t it a little unrealistic to expect a couple in love to never even
kiss?

A: Okay, stopping
at hand-holding hardly ever works out in reality. Personally, neither my
wife nor I had sex before we were married, but we did go beyond hand-holding.
All I can say is that it’s best to minimize physical contact as much as possible
before
marriage.
Develop all the other aspects of your
relationship, and you’ll be ready for the physical part—as it was meant
to be—on your wedding night.

Q: Could you elaborate on that a little more?
A:
Most couples start off with
sex before they bond
emotionally and spiritually, and they’re bored with it by the time their
relationship has developed to the point that sex would really mean something.
That’s why
you hear so many jokes about married people having very little sex. But
marriage
isn’t supposed to be the end of sex—it’s supposed to be the beginning.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received about marriage?
A: I got lots of advice when I was engaged. My dad told me that my
wife and I should agree on whether to hang toilet paper so that it dispenses
from
the top or from the bottom before either of us ever tries to hang it. I’m
sure that isn’t the most profound advice I received, but it’s the only bit
I remember. Probably
because it had something to do with toilet paper.

Q: How do people usually respond when you tell them you’re married?
A: They say, "What?!! You don’t look…married." I’m never
quite sure what they
mean.

Q: How do people usually respond when you introduce them to your wife?
A: They usually say, "That’s your wife? But…she’s so pretty."

Q: Is your wife really as hot as you make her out to be?
A: I use three words to describe the effect women have on men. Pretty is
something we like to look at. Attractive is something we want to talk
to. Beautiful is something we want to look at, talk to, and bask
in. My wife is the only beautiful woman I know.

Q: But is she hot?
A: Absolutely smokin’.

Will Rogers on divorce

I don’t know how well acquainted international readers are with Will Rogers. For that matter, many Americans have sort of forgotten about him. He was a vaudeville, Broadway, and movie performer in the early part of the 20th century. His stage act consisted of doing tricks with a lasso and making jokes about the day’s news. He was so funny, refreshing, and down to earth that he reached a level of popularity that even today’s biggest stars can’t match. People really loved him the way they love a close personal friend. For a while he had a weekly radio address as well as a biweekly newspaper column that provoked more water-cooler conversations than Mike Royko and Dave Barry combined. He died in a plane crash in 1935, but his insights and witticisms live on. I found the following bit in a book I have. It’s part of his observations of his tour of Russia in 1934:

Then we went down to where everybody wants to go, and that’s the Divorce Court. Mrs. Rogers got kind of itchy in there. I even got a little scared after I got in there. Boy, I behaved myself while I was in Russia, I’ll tell you that. Well, we were sitting in there, with a girl interpreter. And the first thing you know, a fellow come in with a brief case. He put his things down on a desk, and he was in there a minute, and they asked him a couple of questions, wrote down something—then he got up and went out. I said—I’d been watching—I said to the interpreter—what did that guy do that just come in here?

She said: he got a divorce. I said: huh? That guy that just went out got a divorce already? He wasn’t in there longer than I’ve been telling you about it. And sure enough, yes. I said—my Lord, where was the girl he got the divorce from?

She said: well, they’ll send her a card tomorrow, saying: you ain’t with us any more.

I asked: Is that the way they get married, too? I can come in here and marry somebody, and announce that I am married and then send Miss Greta Garbo a card, and say: Miss Garbo, you’re married to me?

She said: No. You’ve got to bring the girl when you get married.

Now that sounds awful easy, but wait a minute. Divorce ain’t like right here in Hollywood, where we are now. Say listen, here you come in with three or four of those marriages and divorces. But they got a limit on them over there. Out here there’s no limit to what you can do, but over there, they do. You come in on about your fourth marriage, and they’ve got all your records down there, and they’ll say: Wait a minute! This thing has gone about far enough. See? This is a Communistic country, and we believe in dividing up, but you ain’t going to get all the women in Russia. Now you better go back and make up with the old one.

There is many more things to talk about in Russia. So let me know. Write and let me know your questions, I’ll be glad to answer any question. Anything I don’t know about the country, I can make up. For Russia is a country that no matter what you say about it, it’s true. Even if it’s a lie, it’s true.

 

Why marry?

I mentioned in Saturday’s Marriage links for the week that
Irene had written a few recent posts about marriage. She posed
a question
in
one that
I felt a need to respond to:

Yesterday I was driving Emmy (my housemate) and I to a nearby shopping mall
when I asked her if it was ok to get married for companionship or because
we’re lonely. After all, if God said , "It is not good for man to be alone"…

She
said no. Yeah our gut feeling is to say no, you shouldn’t marry just because
you’re lonely, or you shouldn’t marry for companionship alone. But why? Or
rather, why not?

Why get married at all? It’s a good question to ask, both generally and specifically.
Here’s what the
book of Genesis says
:

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will
make him a helper suitable for him."…

So the
LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then
He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh
at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which
He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,

This
is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.

For this
reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his
wife; and they shall become one flesh.

We should get married because God created us (most
of us
, anyway) for marriage. I think it’s okay to marry for companionship.
I think companionship is actually the main reason to marry. But
that’s
just
a
general
rule,
not
necessarily applicable to a situation in which one considers the possibility
of spending
a lifetime with a specific person. Here’s another general rule: "Because
we’re
in love" is a terrible reason to get married, if by "in love" you mean the
intense physical and emotional response brought on by another person’s presence.
If
being "in
love" is
the foundation of a relationship, the relationship can’t and won’t last. It is
a feeling both
blissful
and
ecstatic, but also unsustainable. It is good for a married couple to
be in love, to have that infatuation and preoccupation with one another from
time to time. It’s like having icing on your cake after a satisfying meal. But
that
feeling
can overpower rationality and even impede
growth
and
hamper
a
deepening
of
the intimacy
two people can share, and therefore can’t be the basis of any successful relationship.

Reasons for marrying a specific person vary with every couple. When I considered
proposing to my best friend, I took into account several things:

  • She made me a better person. Different
    people draw out different facets of my personality, but she drew out nearly
    every positive trait I have (including some I wasn’t aware of before I
    met her) while minimizing nearly every negative trait.
  • We were spiritually compatible.
  • Our simple goals (to serve God, to serve others, to raise a loving family)
    were the same, and we could work together to achieve them.
  • Long before we met each other, we each decided that sex was an intimacy
    to be experienced only between a husband and wife, and we had both lived
    accordingly. At the ages of 23 (her) and 26 (me), we were both feeling a
    sense of…um…urgency.
  • I had a desire to make a real difference in people’s lives coupled with
    an utter inability to do so. Mrs. Happy, on the other hand, had that ability
    in spades but could not financially afford to dedicate her life to it. If
    we married, she could work for peanuts and change the world while I took
    care of her financially working at a pointless job (writing computer manuals).
    In that way, my pointless job was given real meaning.
  • I had invested a great deal of time and effort into our friendship. Our
    lives were already almost inextricable. Marriage was the only further step
    available, and it was nearly unavoidable.
  • I simply could not imagine living the rest of my life without her.

Those were just some
of my practical reasons for proposing
. There were definitely
other reasons, reasons that can’t really be put into words—emotional reasons,
spiritual reasons, reasons that you might even call mystical. They all boil
down to one thing: marriage (this specific marriage) felt right, and remaining
single and apart from each other felt wrong. We reached a point where we felt
that every day that we weren’t married was just a day we spent running on
a relational treadmill, having fun and learning about each other but not making
progress consistent with our effort. It took us three years to reach that point,
three years so full that they felt like a lifetime. The years since have been
even fuller. Whatever reasons we had, whatever feelings compelled us, whatever
guidance we received from loved ones and from God, they have worked out. Messy
Christian said in a
recent post
:

Marriage means the end. I don’t want to end up having that perfect suburban
life because it terrifies me. Because then I’ll end up like everyone else,
part of this endless cycle of marriage, birth and debts; part of millions.
I want something more than that.

Well, MC, marriage is more than that when the husband and wife are
both committed to making it so. A good friend brings out the best in you. A
good spouse brings out more good than you could ever have on your own. Two
people who do that for each other make for an amazing couple, and a fuller
life than I could ever imagine
.