His and Hers: Looking back

I read an article once about a radio call-in show whose host decided to dedicate
his final December broadcast to
polling his listeners about what they thought was the biggest news story of
the year.
A woman called in and said that her son told her he was gay. It was difficult
for her to accept at first, but she certainly couldn’t stop loving him. The
show’s host
hurried her along until he was able to hang up and move to another, hopefully
more relevant, call. The next call was a man who said he had lost his job and
struggled to support his family, though with the love and support of his wife
and their friends, everything worked out okay.

The show went on like that. The host wanted people to argue about the most
important world event, but they persisted in telling their own personal stories.
The host finally came to the conclusion that although politics, wars, natural
catastrophes, and precedent-setting legal cases affect masses of people, every
person is an individual who feels pain and joy in a unique way for unique reasons.
I think three major things have dominated my thoughts this year, as far as
world events go: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. presidential election,
and the tsunamis in Asia that have so far killed more than 135,000 people.
In 50 years, however, when my grandchildren ask me what I remember about the
year 2004, I’m not sure any of those things will immediately come to mind.

This week’s His and Hers asks the question our grandchildren may
one day ask:

What is the most significant thing that happened in your life
in 2004?

Curt’s response

I’ll remember that 2004 was the year my heart started skipping
beats. The condition got so bad that one day I
feared I was having a heart attack
. I spent two days in a hospital in Arizona. It was maybe the scariest
experience of my life so far.

Mrs. Happy’s response

I will certainly remember Curt’s heart episode and following
saga forever, but fortunately I have the luxury of putting all that in the
back
of my mind now that everything is resolved. My most memorable and most touching
2004 memory is certainly my 30th
birthday
and the events surrounding it, primarily
the incredible surprise party Curt so thoughtfully planned to the utmost detail
and the beautiful card my mother painstakingly made for me with her own two
hands. This will go down as the year I felt especially
adored
.

Jealousy

One summer during my high school years, I had a job working as a janitor at
a bar in Ogden, Utah. Since the legal drinking age there is 21—and I was 17—I

worked
only after
closing
time, when the law presumably did not forbid the presence of a minor in an
alcohol-centric
establishment. An older married couple owned the bar. I got the job because
the wife worked for my dog’s veterinarian, and everyone who met my dog loved
her.
The fact that my dog loved me proved to be enough of an endorsement to land
me a weekend job cleaning up spilled beer, scattered cigarettes, a greasy stove,
and
the
periodic
upchuck.
The wife always treated me well, and the husband showed me more respect than
I ever expected in my capacity as puke-mopper.

The husband ran the bar, so I rarely saw the wife except when taking my dog
in for a checkup. Sometimes I would show up for work and find the bar completely
empty. Sometimes the husband would be there alone. Sometimes he allowed stragglers
to stay a little past closing. One night, the husband was there with a female
straggler. I spoke briefly to him and started my work, while he and the female
sat across from each other in a booth and talked for over an hour. I never
heard anything they said, but I didn’t really care to. While I was cleaning
the men’s restroom, I thought I heard the husband call my name. It was faint
enough
that
I didn’t
react, figuring that if he
really wanted me he would call again. Then I heard him distinctly, so I walked
to the front of the bar to see what he wanted.

When I arrived there, he said to someone in the kitchen, "See? Curt’s
here. There’s nothing going on." I could hear the female straggler in
the kitchen pleading with someone, "This is silly. Nothing’s going on.
I’m not that way at all. You know, I think we’re going to be good friends,
and
some
day
we’ll look
back on this
and just laugh our heads off." At that point, the wife emerged from the
kitchen and said, "Somehow I don’t see that happening."

The husband continued to offer my presence as proof that nothing was going
on. She seemed neither to hear him nor to see me standing there bewildered
and ill at ease. The female resumed her protestations, "We were just talking.
Why would you think anything else?" The wife responded, "I show up
at a dark, empty bar to find my husband leaning over beers with a young woman.
What am
I supposed to think?" For my part, I thought, "He’s a balding, middle-aged
man with a beer gut, and she’s an attractive blonde
woman in her early twenties. If you’re going to be jealous, at least be jealous
of
someone
he
has a shot
with." But I was a shy, insecure, discreet 17-year-old, so I said nothing
and (gratefully, I might add) returned to my work.

That display of jealousy frightened me and left an indelible
impression on my young mind. I don’t know whether the wife had reason
to be suspicious. I don’t know how well the husband knew the female. I don’t
know how well the husband knew any other females, or what level of devotion
he felt for the wife. I do know he did not have her trust, for whatever reason,
and I know that I was not the only frightened person in the bar that night.

I thought of this several weeks ago when I came home from a morning worship
service at church. Mrs. Happy and I usually attend the Sunday evening service,
but that particular day I had to attend both morning and evening in order to
fulfill some responsibilities. My church is an affectionate church. I get more
hugs and handshakes on Sunday than I get the rest of the week combined (not
counting the hugs from my wife, of course). Several (mostly international)
people greet others with a kiss on the cheek. So on this particular Sunday
several
weeks
ago, I
walk
in the front door of my house to find my wife waiting
to greet me. She starts roughly wiping my face with the thumb of her right
hand and says something I’ll never forget:

"You have lipstick on your face. What do you want for lunch?"

I love her so much.

Q & A: “Knowing,” games

Ever since I did a question-and-answer
post
, people have been sending me questions.
It’s wonderful. I get an opportunity to actually interact with people online,
and it also saves me the trouble of thinking up an original idea. So keep those
questions coming! Here are the
two most recent questions I’ve received.

Q: how do you know when you met Mrs Happy that you were going to marry
her? how
do you know that this person is ‘the one’ and its not just feelings/emotions?
(from
Anonymous)
A:
The quick answer is that I didn’t know I would marry her when I met
her. In fact, she made almost no impression on me at all when I met her, and
she thought
I was a total dud with no personality or physical attractiveness to speak of.
As luck fate God would have it, we ended up
spending
a
lot
of
time together basically because neither of us had anything better to do. (You
can
read a fuller explanation on the About
my marriage
page.) We became friends, then good friends, then best friends.
At one point during the "best friends" stage, I asked her, "Are we going to keep
insisting we’re just friends until we’re married?" She burst into hysterical
laughter and, once she regained her composure, said emphatically, "I am not going
to marry you!"
With time, our relationship developed into an intimate
friendship, then a romantic friendship, then a married friendship.We married
because we hated being apart, because we shared a love for God, because we believed
in
each
other’s
life goals and because we could accomplish more together than apart, and because
we could not imagine growing old away from each other.

If you’re looking for criteria to go by, check out a couple of posts I wrote
last
year (Part 1 and Part
2
).
They have some good guidelines that were offered by a wise Christian woman.

Q: My brother and I were remembering how we used to play squat with
our father 20 years ago.  Fond memories but, unfortunately, we couldn’t
remember the rules for squat.  All we could remember was that it required
5 dice. So, I did a Google on "squat dice game" and found your site.  Unfortunately,
while the
game is mentioned
, there are no rules.  Would you be kind enough
to either reply with the rules for the game or a link (if you have one) that
would list such?
(from John)
A: I’m not sure my game is the same as the one John played, for reasons I’ll
explain
later. Here are the rules to my game, in any case:

A player rolls five dice
and sets aside however many dice will score points for him. He may then end
his turn voluntarily and accept those points or roll the
remaining dice. He may roll the remaining dice until all five dice have scored
points or else he rolls no points. If he rolls no points, his turn is over
and nothing is added to his score. If he rolls so that all five dice have scored
points, he may pick up all five dice and continue to roll as before. His turn
ends when he decides to stop and accept the points he has rolled, when he rolls
no points, or when he has rolled all five dice three times, whichever comes
first.

The dice count for points in the following configurations:

  • ones are worth one
    hundred points
  • fives are worth fifty points
  • three dice of the same number, taken together,
    are worth 100 times that number (three 4s are worth 400, etc.)
  • (exception
    to the previous rule) three ones, taken together, are worth 1000
  • a single
    roll of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (or 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) is worth 1,000.
    This counts only when all five dice are rolled at once.

Players take turns
rolling until someone reaches a previously agreed-upon goal. 5,000 or 10,000
is pretty standard. When one person reaches the goal,
everyone
else gets one last turn. Each player then rolls until he rolls no points
or until he surpasses the high score. If anyone surpasses the score of
the first
player
to reach the goal, all other players get a chance to beat him as well,
including the first player.

Here’s a sample game:
Player 1 rolls all five dice. They land on 1, 2, 4, 4, 6. He sets the 1
aside, then rolls the remaining four dice. Those land on 3, 3, 2, 3.
He sets aside
the three 3s, then rolls the remaining die, which lands on 5. If he stopped
at this
point, he could add 450 points to his score (100 for the 1, 300 for the
three 3s, and 50 for the 5). He picks up all five dice and rolls again,
rolling
2, 2, 3, 4, 6. His turn is over and he adds no points to his score.

Player
2 rolls all five dice. They land on 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. He rolls all five dice
again—1, 2, 1, 1, 4. He ends his turn voluntarily and records
2,000
points on
his score (1,000 for the first roll and 1,000 for the three 1s).

Player
3 rolls all five dice—6, 1, 5, 5, 5. He sets aside the 5s and the 1 and
rolls the remaining die, receiving a 5. He rolls all five
dice again—2,
3, 4,
5, 6. He rolls all five dice again—6, 6, 6, 5, 3. He sets aside
the three 6s (he doesn’t have to keep every scoring die as long as he keeps
at least one) and rolls the remaining dice, receiving a 1 and a 5. Since he
has rolled all
five dice three times, his turn is over and he records 2,400 on his
score (500
for the three 5s, 100 for the 1, and 50 for the 5; 1,000 for the
2, 3, 4, 5, 6; 600 for the three 6s, 100 for the 1, and 50 for the 5).

And so on to the end.

The reason I doubt that this is the game John played
is that I learned the game without a name and later started calling it Squat.
I did this because while
playing with some friends, one was especially dim about counting his points
and another was impatient with him, giving rise to several exchanges that
went something like:

"Let’s see. I rolled two 2s, two 3s, and a 6. So I got 200 points."
"You got squat, is what you got. Gimme the dice."

It’s a fun game anyway,
though, and can be played just as well with 6 dice.

The reason

This isn’t exactly the Christmas story, but I think it demonstrates what Christmas
is really about.

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus,
the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

And when
the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they
brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written
in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be
called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what
is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young
pigeons." Now
there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous
and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was
upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would
not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the
Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus,
to do for
him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and
blessed God and said,

"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart
in peace, according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."

And
his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon
blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is
appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is
opposed (and
a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many
hearts may be revealed."

Luke
2:21–35
(ESV)

His and Hers: Christmas memories

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 others to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in
celebrating marriage. This week’s question is:

What’s one Christmas memory that you cherish?

Mrs. Happy’s response

Though my Christmases with Mr. Happy have been wonderful and memorable, I
was struck the other day by the sight of chocolate-covered pretzels, which
reminded me of my grandmother, who died in 2001. I must have been about five
years old when she and I drizzled melted white chocolate on pretzels for the
rest of the family. I only saw her once or twice a year, almost always at Christmas,
and those are some of the fondest memories of this holiday that I have.

Curt’s response

One Christmas Eve during my early childhood, all of my paternal grandparents’
(5) children, (12) grandchildren, and (?) great-grandchildren gathered at their
house in Waxahachie, Texas. We all sat in the big living room and took turns
starting Christmas carols. Everyone sang. It was so much fun, and warm, and
exactly what family should be. When it was Granddaddy‘s turn to start a song,
he couldn’t think of one that hadn’t been sung. My Aunt Jean said, "Well, Daddy,
it doesn’t have to be a carol. Just sing whatever you want." He grinned—he
had this mischievous little grin—and started singing:

Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away
To a home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away
When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away

Everyone joined in. It is one of the most raucous, celebratory, hopeful songs
ever printed in a hymn book. I think it was his favorite song. I also think
he looked more forward to Heaven than anyone I’ve ever known. I’ll Fly
Away
isn’t technically a Christmas song, but no one argued about its appropriateness
for the occasion.

“No, not yet. Maybe some day.”

When people find out that my wife and I have been married six years, they
inevitably ask if we have kids. We don’t. Then they ask if we’re planning to.
"Why do you
care?" I think. "Just because other married couples feel the need to augment
their own relationship with crying poop machines who rob them of sleep and
peace of
mind, that doesn’t mean everyone feels that way." Of course, that’s just a
defensive feeling. We really do want kids, and we are planning to have at least
one and
at most three but ideally two some time in the future.
I just don’t like the implication that we’re not
complete as a family
if we
don’t have
children.

I think one of Mrs. Happy’s fondest desires is to raise a couple of children
to be amazing adults who can change the world and affect the lives of everyone
they meet. Even I have a subconscious, indescribable longing for progeny. On
the other hand, I can’t imagine myself actually being an effective father.
Especially
to a
daughter.
Sometimes
I look
at my
wife,
and my love for her moves me to tears—tears with no provocation other than
her existence. If I have a precious little girl who looks like the woman I’ve
pledged my life to, and who can’t help being the most adorable creature in
the universe, I’ll just be a pile of mush until the day I die. Plus, I will
severely damage every boy who even thinks about talking to her.

Nearly everyone is terrified at the prospect of parenthood, though, yet somehow
people survive. My friend Rey just found out that the
baby growing inside his wife is a girl
. When he told me that, I said, "Whoa.
I guess it’s time to start, uh…"

"Worrying about the guys she’ll meet when she’s 18?" he asked.

"Well, I was going to say ‘start building up an arsenal,’" I said.

"Sounds like a good idea."

Yeah.

No plastic for us

I’m allergic to pine, and I’ve never really cared much about Christmas decorations.
My wife, on the other hand, takes great delight in decorating and in having
a live tree. She managed to find a small spruce—which doesn’t make me sneeze—that
we
could
put
on
a
small
table
we have
in our living room. Our house definitely feels more Christmas-like with it
than
without it.

Marriage links for the week

I have never seen the movie Before Sunrise, but maybe that’s a good thing. One
young law student saw it when it was new, and it influenced him to change
the
entire direction
of
his
life
.

Mike Stubbs of Truth Rising explains how true intimacy can only be achieved
with true
devotion to one spouse
, and how real fulfillment can only be achieved
with real devotion to God.

World Magazine
Blog
links to an article about a study that found a strong correlation between
marriage
and health
: "…(O)verall, married people are sick less often and more active.
They smoke and drink less and in general feel better than single, divorced, never
married or even folks just living together." This apparently holds true "regardless
of socio-economic status, education and poverty, where people were born or their
ethnicity."

Tim Challies links to The
Soul Mate Solution
, a Christianity Today article that argues that
soul mates are made, not born.

Another therapist gives his opinion on what
makes a happy marriage
. There’s
something like this in the news every week, so I don’t often link to them,
but this one’s actually pretty good.

When you really appreciate your wife, when think she’s the best wife in the
world, it’s important to tell her so. It’s also kind of cool when you can tell
the world
too.

Q & A time with Curt, a follow-up

Wow. I actually received a couple of questions in the comments of the Q
& A
post
yesterday
.
Since I had a spontaneous date night
with my wife tonight, this makes for an easy post tonight:

Q: What is the birth order of you and your wife? There’s a theory
that says oldest children usually marry youngest children, and vice-versa.
Is that true
in your case?
(from George Eliot)
A: Not in our case. I’m the oldest of two (one younger sister). She’s the oldest
of three (two younger brothers). I like her youngest brother a lot, but I don’t
think I could live with him.

Q: Do you and Mrs Happy ever fight? What happens then, do you ever yell at
each other?
(from cheezits)
A: We bicker a little pretty often. We have a deep, impossible argument maybe
once a year. During the worst arguments, our voices get more intense and we may
cry
some,
but
I
don’t
think we’ve ever seriously yelled at each other. Neither of us is really the
type
to
yell,
though. My sanity level rises and falls in inverse proportion to the
volume of my voice, so it’s not good for me to yell.

I have known couples who claim to have never fought, or maybe just once or twice.
I don’t believe them, but if their claims are true I feel sorry for them. Those
who never fight never get to make up.

Q: Do you and Mrs. Happy have a regular devotional/prayer time together? If yes, what do you usually do? (from MaltaGirl)
A: We don’t have a formal time set up for devotionals. We each follow a different plan for reading the Bible through in a year, and some time during the day we’ll discuss whatever we learned in our last reading. We also try to pray together before going to sleep. We’re trying to find a different time to do that, though, because often we’re too tired to be coherent.

I think it’s important for a husband and wife to share their spiritual journey, and for the husband to take the lead in that area. In practical terms, it’s probably the most difficult part of marriage for me simply because I’m not sure exactly how to be such a leader. I have asked other Christian men about it, and if they don’t just shrug their shoulders, they say, “Set a good example.” It seems like there must be more to it than that, but I don’t know. I am learning, though. Maybe some day I’ll be able to give a better answer.

Q & A time with Curt

Some bloggers like to publish disclaimers periodically, saying things like,
"Regrettably, I do not have time to answer every e-mail I receive, but rest
assured that I
read each and every one of them. Sometimes I even work them into a post." The
sad truth about me, though, is that I have ample time to answer each and every
e-mail I receive, since I receive a blog-related e-mail approximately once
a week. Back when I started writing, I imagined that one day I would be able
to
do sort of a Q & A time with Curt post every so often, answering
the questions I heard most often from my adoring fans. But if I waited for
people
to ask,
I’d never get to write such a post. So I make up my own questions and just
pretend
that people are interested in the answers.

Q: Are you and Mrs. Happy the best married couple ever?
A: I’m not comfortable with the idea of best.
It implies an objective standard where none exists. It also implies that there
exists a standard to be achieved after which no improvement is possible. Neither
of us is perfect and neither of us is the best spouse in the world. We’re always
working to get better, though. Hopefully we always will.

Q: Are you and Mrs. Happy the cutest married couple ever?
A: Yes.

Q: What did you do to deserve such a wife?
A: When I was a child, I brightened the countenance of every elderly person who
saw me, I gave my teachers (except for my sixth-grade teachers) hope for the
future of the country, and I often protected my little sister from bees,
fire ants, and crawdads.
I imagine that in the future I will also find a cure for a horrible disease,
and I’m being rewarded in advance.

Q: What did your wife do to deserve you?
A: When she was a child, she must have made a conscious effort to kick every
puppy she could reach.

Q: What’s the secret to a happy marriage?
A: The "secret" is different for every marriage.
Some keys, though, are a common faith, compatible goals, a shared sense of humor,
physical affection, common interests, diverse interests, and an attitude in both
spouses
that
the
other
is
more
important.

Q: What’s something weird about you?
A: Lots. But when I was in sixth grade, I learned how to diagram sentences
and loved it. I ditched my English textbook and wrote my own sentences to
diagram because the book’s exercises weren’t interesting enough.

Q: How old were you when you got married?
A: I was one month shy of my 26th birthday.

Q: What is the stupidest question anyone has ever asked you about marriage?
A: During my engagement, a lot of people asked, "So, are you excited?"

Q: How did you answer them?
A: I usually said "Yes" while thinking, "I’m nearly 26 years old and I’ve never
had sex. What do you think?"

Q: Did you really not have sex until your wedding night?
A: Yes. I mean, no. I mean, that was such a poorly constructed question I’m
not sure how to answer it. Yes or no, bottom line is that the wedding night
was the first time.

Q: You never wanted to have sex before then?
A: Are you stupid? I’m a man. Yeesh. One of the few pieces
of relationship wisdom I possessed at an early age, however, was the idea that
true, lifelong intimacy is best achieved when it’s shared with only one person.

Q: Are you listening to music right now? If so, what is it?
A: Yes, I am. It’s Roger Miller singing You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo
Herd
.
And no, truer words have never been sung.