Brainteasers and unconditional love

Our weekly marriage class at church took up most of our evening, leaving me
no time to write something both original and good. Since I revisited this blog’s
first post yesterday, perhaps you will forgive one more repeat. This was my
second post ever.


The other day while browsing through the archives of Dean’s
World
I came across a fascinating little nugget of a post called The
Brainteaser That Changed My World
. I love brain teasers,
and this one was especially intriguing:

You find yourself on a game show called "Let’s
Make A Deal." The
game is very simple. There are three doors: door #1, door #2, and door #3.
Behind
one door is a million dollars. The other two doors contain worthless joke
prizes. All you have to do is pick which door you want to open, and you get
whatever
is behind it. But you only get to open one door. By simple math, then, you
obviously have a 1 in 3 chance of picking the correct door and becoming an
instant millionaire.

You
pick a door. As soon as you tell Monty (the gameshow host) what door you
want to open, he stops and says, "Okay, you’ve made your choice. Now, I’m
going to do what we always do here on this game. I’m going to open one of the
other two doors for you that I know has a booby prize." And he does so.
Then he asks, "Okay, now, would you like to stay with your original
guess, or would you like to switch to the other door that’s still closed?
You only
get one shot, so do you want to stay with your original choice, or switch?"

Here’s
the question: is there any compelling reason to switch doors?

Of course not,
I thought. Why would you switch doors? They both have a one in three chance
of being correct, or maybe even a one in two chance, but neither
has a clear advantage over the other.

But then I had an epiphany and thought, “Yes,
by all means switch doors.” Given
that you initially choose one door out of three, the door you choose clearly
has a one in three chance of being correct. The removed door has a zero in
three chance of being correct, which means the third door (the only other door
remaining)
must have a two in three chance of being correct. Nothing could be more obvious,
right?

I explained the problem to a few coworkers, and they all thought I was
insane for insisting that it’s best to switch answers. Dance with the
one that brung ya, they said, especially when there’s no reason to switch
partners, which there’s definitely not. When faced with my irrefutable
logic, they said I was arguing semantics, which doesn’t apply to mathematical
problems.

I don’t remember the last time so many people told me I was
wrong.

So
I came home and shared the story with my wife. She too came to the conclusion
that switching has no advantage over sticking with your first answer, but nevertheless
agreed to help me do a practical test. Before we could perform an experiment,
I was able to pick the brain of my father-in-law, a computer programmer who
has a degree in math. I thought surely he would agree with my conclusion. But
he
said the same thing everyone else did: “I see what you’re saying,
but I still think you’re wrong.” I should note, however, that my
mother-in-law agreed with me. I love her.

Anyway, Mrs. Happy and I set up the
experiment. I took three playing cards (taking the place of the three doors,
which we don’t have), one of which was the
ace of spades (taking the place of the million dollars, which we also don’t
have), and placed them face down. She chose one. I removed one of the other
two that was definitely not the ace of spades. She then changed her choice,
turned
over the remaining card, and marked down whether her first choice or second
choice was correct. We did that 100 times. The first choice turned up the ace
35 times,
and the second choice turned up the ace 65 times. Basically, the first choice
has a one in three chance of being correct while switching will win you the
money two out of every three times. So basically, I was right and everyone
but my mother-in-law
was wrong.

Here’s my point: My wife supported me and didn’t try
to make me feel stupid even when she thought I was dead wrong. She always left
open the
possibility
that I had come to the right conclusion and even took time out of her busy
day to help me perform a tedious test of an inconsequential problem, because
it was
important to me. That, my friends, is a good wife.

I love being married

This blog is reaching a couple of milestones this week. Friday will be The
Happy Husband
‘s first anniversary of being published on the Internet.
Furthermore, today’s post is No. 300. At the risk of seeming self-indulgent,
I plan
to mark both occasions. Today, I will mark the 300th post by revisiting the
first
:

I live in a culture that is hostile to marriage as a lifelong commitment
between a man and a woman. It celebrates weddings, yes, but it also celebrates
divorces.
Why wouldn’t it? We hear more about happy divorces than we do about happy
marriages. And even bitter divorces serve to reinforce the idea that marriage
makes people
miserable—just think how much worse off those pitiful people would
be had they stayed married.

I’m married, I love being married, and I love my wife.
I think marriage is a divine gift, the natural state of mankind, the only
condition in which all
but a very few people can live full lives—the first thing in creation
that was not good was man’s aloneness.

It’s difficult, though, because we have
no comprehensive set of rules, no manual to cover every situation, no way
for both my wife and me to be happy with each
other all the time. On top of that, our entertainment media tell us that
married people are bitter, bored, and trapped in an existence with no variety,
sex,
or passion. (Last week I heard a character on a TV show say, "Do you think
it’s a coincidence that monogamy rhymes with monotony ?") And then I
see the real-life marriages of my friends, family members, and acquaintances
fall
apart every day, while the new national pastime is finding unique and humorous
ways to complain about spouses. It almost seems like a societal conspiracy
to discourage contentment.

I’m hoping now to begin undermining the conspirators.
On this blog, I plan to celebrate marriage and to communicate things I’ve
learned about being married,
but mostly to encourage and be encouraged by others who might feel oppressed
by the pervasive negative sentiments in our culture.

Marriage: It’s a beautiful
thing.

It’s as true today as it was a year ago. Maybe even more.

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:

  • small: things you can do without a lot of planning ahead
  • specific: generalities such as "appreciate me more" don’t
    help your spouse know what to do for you
  • positive: an item such as "stop leaving your socks on
    the floor" doesn’t really give your spouse something to do
  • caring: nothing cruel or falsely positive like "take me
    on a date once a week the way you said you would when we got married but
    haven’t done since the honeymoon"

 

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
.

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

 

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:

  • Little things can grow into huge things—"He put another
    parable before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard
    seed
    that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds,
    but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes
    a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’"
    Matt.
    13:31–32
    (ESV)
  • A small thing can spread itself throughout something larger—"He
    told them another parable. ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that
    a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.’"
    Matt. 13:33
  • Actions define feelings, not the other way around—"For
    where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matt. 6:21

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.

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.

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?"

Decisions

I had two choices for how to spend my evening: 1) write an insightful blog post 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.

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
).