Prenup, schmeenup

Mrs. Happy here, reporting to you live from the Happy Home! First, I just
want to shout from the rooftop how much I love my husband and my marriage
(but probably
more people will hear me this way!)!!!!!
At the same time, I am saddened by the world around me, and the unfortunately
common attitudes shared by spouses, spouses-to-be, and ex-spouses.

I was involved
in a conversation recently with a bride-to-be whose success, beauty, and
integrity I admire, but whose ideas about marriage seem, at least to me, destined
to
make her miserable. I was actually a bit surprised when she told me that
she had
been sent a lengthy document detailing her and her fiancee’s prenuptual
agreement, and that her lawyer and his lawyer were fighting over it, effectively
souring
both of them to the whole idea of getting married!! I offered my opinion
that signing a prenuptual agreement already reflects that they don’t trust
each
other, and someone else in the room replied, "No it doesn’t. It’s just business."
WHAT?!

Marriage is most certainly not a business; it is a sacred union based
on love, trust, and commitment, and frankly it scares me that this isn’t
obvious to
people (and that they’d actually argue with someone who believes this
to be true).
I just felt really sad for her, and wished I could just show her a brief,
fast-forwarded version of the marriage I have cherished over the years,
or maybe if she had
time to read all of these wonderful posts from the beginning…

Marriage links for the week

Eric, of The Fire Ant Gazette, links in a recent
post
to an older post he wrote
about men
(especially married men) behaving responsibly
. He offers some practical
advice on avoiding every appearance of impropriety, which prompted a Canadian
columnist to interview him for an
article on the subject
.
(Thanks
to
Irene for
pointing
out the link.)
Oh, and just for the record, Eric isn’t the first person to accuse me of being
OCD
. I’m not, though. Really.

Speaking of responsible behavior, an expert on the study of infidelity has
dissected the
Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston breakup. (Another link from Irene.) You have to
keep your guard up against emotional affairs. They can cause as much damage
to a marriage as sexual affairs.

Elena has a couple of follow-up posts (here and here) to her informal poll
about what men look for in a wife.

I don’t know what comment to make about a man who buys 60 roses and takes
out a $17,000 advertisement to beg
forgiveness from his wife
.

Ryan lists 15 reasons he
loves his wife. A few other people have done this, though I seem to have lost
their links, but I love seeing other men praise their wives in such a public
fashion.

If Walter Mitty had been a sci-fi/fantasy/comic book geek, this is how he
would view my
changing of a tire
.

I have never been much good at networking or promoting myself or selling anything.
In fact, I have been intending to write something about blogging for at least
a week, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Fortunately, Marla Swoffer
wrote an article that’s even better than the one I intended to write. If you’re
interested, just go read what
she has to say
.

His and Hers: Stress relief

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.

When you feel stressed about life, what calms you down?

Mrs. Happy’s response

Mmm…coffee.

Curt’s response

Singing emotional songs really loud and playing my ukulele so hard the strings
break. Some day maybe I’ll learn to play something that has six strings.

A marriage lesson

I read a book a long time ago that claimed every problem in marriage is the
husband’s fault. It said that after five years, once both spouses’ emotional
baggage has
been dealt with, the sole responsibility for marital harmony rests on the man’s
shoulders. As long as the husband is acting properly and effectively as
the
head
of the household, the wife will respond
with appropriate love and respect and Godly submission, and all will be well.
That’s a heavy burden for a man, but the idea made sense to me, and I have
acted under that belief for most of my marriage.

Last week, my wife had a really bad day, which in turn caused me to have a
bad day in the tradition of Apollo 13, Waterloo, and Peter
Venkman
. Fortunately,
she quickly recovered and apologized for certain things. I, however, was shaken
to the
core. In my mind, days like that would
never ever happen if I were a halfway competent husband. I confessed
to her my discouragement in a conversation that went something like this:

Me: Days like that would
never ever happen if I were a halfway competent husband.
Her: How do you figure that?
Me: I’m supposed to love you as Christ loved the church.
Her: You do.
Me: Apparently not. If I did, then, as I said before, days like that would never
ever happen.
Her: I’ll admit you’re not perfect like Jesus.
Me: Exactly.
Her: But this had nothing to do with any failing on your part.
Me: I don’t think you’re hearing me.
Her: I understand what you’re saying, but it doesn’t make sense. You think that
if you loved me perfectly the way Jesus loves the church, I would respond perfectly.
Me: Yep.
Her: The way the church responds to Jesus?
Me: Uh….
Her: I’m not perfect either, Curt. And that’s not your fault.

Throughout the course of our marriage, my wife has taught me a lot about love,
and (I think) vice versa. She has never taught me such a clear-cut lesson before,
though. I still believe that the ultimate responsibility for familial harmony
lies with the husband in the sense that every leader is responsible for the
effectiveness and well-being of those he leads. The buck still stops with me.
It seems obvious now, but
it took this to make me realize that leadership involves as much response as
it does direction. As I hinted in my
last post
, my wife’s SAT scores were several
hundred points lower than mine, but sometimes she’s just so much smarter than
me. I’m still learning, though, and some day soon I’ll catch up.

What’s good in a wife?

In a post today, Miss
O’Hara
linked to a post by Elena at Pretty
Green Polka-Dotted Sky
that asks about good
qualities for a wife
to have. She has specific questions
for single guys and married guys. I’ve been both single and married, and my
perspective changed quite
a bit in the transition. I think most men do have a sort of checklist for attributes
they want in a wife.
I certainly did. These are some of the qualities I used to look for in a wife
when I was single:

  • strong domestic skills
  • a family that’s saner than mine*
  • a good career with better earning potential than mine (which was journalism
    at the time)
  • intellectual ability (measured by SAT scores) equal to or greater than
    my own
  • sex drive approximately equal to mine
  • solid organizational skills
  • tall, blonde, big-breasted, and/or Asian (in any combination)
  • well versed in the arts
  • proficient at needlework
  • surprised at nothing

Looking back, I realize that most of my requirements indicated insecurities
about my own life. I knew my own shortcomings, and I wanted to marry out of
them rather than tackle them myself. My list blinded me for a long
time and kept me from recognizing the innate value in individuals who didn’t
match up. Out of the thirteen "requirements" on my list, Mrs. Happy
met two. I’ve come to realize that the other 11 don’t really matter as much
as I thought (though she actually has developed a few of them), but wow am
I thankful for those specific two. Additionally, these are
some of her qualities that make me mind-blowingly happy (also see my list of
Reasons I Love My Wife):

  • emotional intelligence and insight
  • strong intuition about the needs of others
  • a desire to serve and make the world better
  • an understanding of my sense of humor
  • a completely silly sense of humor all her own
  • unending love for an insane family, both hers and mine
  • passion for life

I prayed a lot in
my single days, asking God to bring a certain kind of woman into my life. He
looked beyond the request and filled the need. The woman He paired me with
is nothing like what I wanted, but rather exactly what I needed. And wow am
I thankful for that.



* I have since learned that my family is really not all that insane in the
context of the rest of the world. Every family has its own troubles. Mrs. Happy
and I both are fortunate and blessed to come from troubled families that overflow
with love.

Marriage links for last week

My attic is still cold, but I can’t just go into blog hibernation until spring.
Here are some links to make up for Saturday:

Married people, especially relatives, can be sort of insensitive to single people
about their marital status. Messy Christian ponders how best to handle such obnoxious
questions and remarks
.

Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost offers his thoughts on how evangelical Christians
should view the one-flesh
union of sex and marriage
.

"When a wife’s gotten to where she nags while kissing, things have gone too
far." — Katy McKenna
Katy resolved not to nag her husband for an entire week, and wrote several posts about the
experience
.

It’s good to have role models, even when it comes to marriage. Just be careful
whom
you choose
to look up to.

A couple who has managed to build a happy marriage over the course of 57 years
might be a
good pair
to have as role models.

CWTB

The temperature here in New York has been absolutely frigid for the past few days. Right now we’re in the middle of a blizzard that looks to drop a couple of feet of snow on us overnight. My computer is in the top floor of my house, a floor which was built to be an attic storage space and thus has no artificial climate control. As a result, my fingers are nearly numb as I type this so I must postpone Marriage Links for the Week until Cold Weather is not Trumping Blogging.

I really need to move somewhere warm.

Reasons I love my wife, 41–50

I am still in the midst of writing 100 Reasons I Love My Wife. While I was thinking about
what to write about tonight, it occurred to me that in many ways actions dictate
feelings. Therefore, reasons 41–50 will focus on actions I take that make me
love her more.

  • I lie in her place in bed while she washes her face and brushes her teeth
    at night, acting as her own personal bed warmer
  • I open doors for her
  • I kiss her at least 50 times a day
  • I hug her as if she’s the only woman in the world
  • I work a well-paying, soul-sucking job so that she can work a low-paying,
    world-changing job
  • I keep her supplied with chocolate and candy
  • I encourage her when she works out at the gym
  • I serenade her, sometimes with my ukulele
  • I brag about her to my friends and family
  • I pat her rear every time I walk past her

You know you’re a blogger when…

Last night I had a dream (a dream—please understand that before reading any
further) that I received the following letter from my high school
girlfriend:

Dear Curt,

I realize we haven’t even seen each other in 17 years and that we have had
no relationship by any definition of the word for at least that long. I feel,
however, that we need to formally dissolve our marriage. This may be a somewhat
empty gesture, but I have filed legal papers for divorce. I want you to know
that I expect nothing from you in terms of money, property, or personal
contact. I just want this settled once and for all. I hope this will provide
closure for both of us.

Sincerely,
Marcy

Let me repeat—this was a DREAM. I did not marry my high school
girlfriend in real life. We broke up in 1989. But within the muddled context
of the dream several thoughts ran through my head (pretty much in this order):

  1. Oh NO! I forgot we had that wedding!
  2. Oh NO! I forgot we never really divorced!
  3. Oh NO! I never told my wife I was married once before!
  4. Oh NO! I’m going to lose all credibility on my blog!
  5. Oh NO! Does this nullify the legality of my marriage now?
  6. Oh NO! I can’t in good conscience continue to blog about marriage.

I continued to be upset for several minutes after I woke up. Even after I
recognized the unreality of the dream, that I never actually received the letter,
I still thought I needed to confess the prior marriage to Mrs. Happy. Oddly,
the part that depressed me most was the idea of giving up blogging. The other
things,
while
shocking
at
first,
could
be
discussed,
accepted,
and
put
in the
past. I love my wife and she loves me, and our relationship is solid enough
to withstand any mistake I made in my teens. But how could I go on proclaiming
the value of commitment in marriage, of one man and one woman dedicating themselves
to each other for a lifetime?

I have no idea where that dream came from. But it made me understand the impact
this blog has had on my life. I really do think of it as a ministry, a place
that I have set aside to be an oasis for anyone—of any marital status—who loves
the concept of marriage as God intended it. Though I hadn’t realized it until
now, it is certainly an oasis for me, and a huge encouragement when I see the
links,
traffic statistics (around 350 visitors a day), comments, and e-mails. People
often dream about things that occupy their minds, but you know something
is an integral part of your life when it’s actually part of your thought process
even when you sleep.

Three vignettes

Earlier this evening I was vegetating on the couch watching The
Simpsons
,
one of my favorite television shows, while Mrs. Happy busily toiled in the
kitchen
chopping vegetables and grilling chicken for our supper. The episode told the
story of how Otto, the pot-smoking, headbanging, slacker school bus driver,
almost got married. On his wedding day, his bride told him that he had to choose
between
her and heavy metal music. At that point in the show, my wife called to me
from the kitchen, "Curt, do you want to come talk to me?" I nearly responded
by saying,
"Let me just finish this show first." But as I drew breath to speak, Otto left
his girl at the altar and sped away in a school bus carrying
with
him
Cyanide,
a
Poison cover
band he had hired to play the wedding march.

I turned off the TV and helped my wife in the kitchen.


I related the above story to Mrs. Happy as I began grating cheese. She asked
if I had seen that episode before, and I told her I hadn’t. She said I should
finish watching the last 15 minutes, then return so she could tell me about
her day. She’s wonderful that way.

I didn’t actually get to finish the episode. My mother-in-law called and talked
to me for exactly 15 minutes.


Earlier today, The Mysterious
Cloaked Figure
and I went to a local cinema
to see the movie Elektra.
One of the previews touted a movie called Mr.
and Mrs. Smith
starring Brad
Pitt and Angelina Jolie as (from what I could tell) deadly assassins who
pretend to lead normal lives, going so far as to hide their work even from
each other. They go to such lengths to appear normal that they end up just
boring each other until they eventually find out the truth and endeavor
to kill each other in extended fight
scenes.
After
the
preview,
MCF
leaned
over
to
me
and said,
"Talk about marriage in
a hostile world." Indeed.