His and Hers: Advice for Jerry

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.

Real-life friend TheWriteJerry is getting married tomorrow.
What’s one bit of advice you have for him and his new wife?

Mrs. Happy’s response

Never go to sleep angry with each other. Unresolved arguments
cause worse problems than sleep deprivation.

Curt’s response

Do not ever expect your spouse to make you happy. That’s
a responsibility too big for any human being. Only God can fulfill you and
bring you contentment. The most another person can do is make you happier.

Thank you

I would just like to thank everyone who participated and are still participating
in the reader survey I posted on Tuesday. It’s a lot of fun to hear from people
I don’t normally hear from, and learn more about even the frequent commenters.
I’m always a little afraid to solicit responses
because a) it feels self-indulgent to ask, and b) it feels absolutely awful
if no one responds. I learned a few things from your comments:

  • There are more international readers here than I realized—Canada, England,
    Scotland, Australia, Malta, Malaysia, Singapore, a nameless country in Southeast
    Asia, and California are all represented.
  • A number of people who visit this site live in places I wouldn’t know where
    to look for on a map.
  • I should really visit Malaysia some day. I already have several friends
    there.
  • Definitely more women than men read this blog.
  • Search engine hits sometimes result in return visitors.
  • Since a couple of Oklahomans visit this site regularly, I should tone down
    my anti-Okie rhetoric when The University of Texas plays OU this year.
    I don’t
    want to
    alienate anyone.
  • People really do read what I write and enjoy it. That’s what I hope for,
    but it’s a little overwhelming to know it for a fact.

Just about every day this week has had some sort of blog-trumping quality,
which is why I resorted to asking for reader participation. Next week I will
definitely get back to writing about marriage for real.

Thanks again, all of you.

Who are all these people?

What follows is mostly speculation. I have no idea how accurate or even useful
this information may be. It’s just a bunch of guesses backed up by some questionable
technology.

According to Sitemeter, The Happy Husband receives an average of 200 visitors
per day during the week. About 50 of those visitors come from search engines
and, judging by their search terms*, leave quickly in a rage of disappointment.
That leaves 150 daily visitors who actually mean to be here. Since not every
regular reader visits daily, I’m guessing that around 200 people overall read
the stuff I write. Last week, I asked men who read this blog to leave a comment
so that I could get a sense of how many male readers visit this site. Thirteen
left comments, but I can think of at least four others
(just off the top of my head) who read regularly and did not comment.
Since one-third to one-half of invitees usually respond to an invitation, I
estimate that there are between 13 and 26 male lurkers. A total of 35 men
who visit here to celebrate marriage
(17.5%
of
the regular readers) is a decent number.

Now I’ll open the comments up to all readers, male and female alike. If you’re
reading this, please make yourself known with at least a first name and your
city and country of residence. Sitemeter also tells me that I have visitors
from at least seven different countries, and I’m curious to see who you all
are.

I promise never to be this self-indulgent again…for at least a year.


*Some of the terms I can repeat:

  • sharing wife
  • how to dress my husband like a lady
  • how to surprise your husband with a new baby
  • how to draw a squirrel
  • happy nicknames for boyfriends
  • allison peed herself
  • how what is fair in a divorce , when the couple is 52 years old and have
    been married for 30 years with 2 grown children who live at home and the
    mother does not work. the father is having an affair.

Toys and Games Trump Blogging

I’ve been unemployed for about six months now. That sounds worse than it is.
Before I lost my job, Mrs. Happy and I were taking the Joseph-in-Egypt
approach
to
money
management,
saving everything we possibly could, knowing that a time of famine could be
right around the corner.
Things are going to get a lot harder when she leaves work to have the baby,
but hopefully I will have a job by then.

In the mean time, I thought I should be doing something constructive. After
a drawn-out thought process and a few weeks of research, I decided to join
a company called Discovery Toys. This company makes educational and developmental
toys for children ages 0–18, although many of their games are enjoyed by adults
of all ages as well. It took a while for me to make the decision to join, because
it is a multilevel marketing company, and I hate the whole MLM idea with a
passion. But as I spoke to people within the company, I found that they weren’t
obnoxious @mw@y clones. (Their practices are more in line with Avon, with whom
they’ve been affiliated in the past.) I also found out that the company adheres
to a fairly strict code
of ethics
that
was developed by an independent organization. Furthermore, I have loved their
products for
many years. I have bought their toys in the past, usually at fairs and fundraisers,
without even realizing that they were MLM.

I’m saying all this because I got a shipment of games today, and Mrs. Happy
and I have been playing them all night so I don’t have time to write anything
substantial. But if you’re interested, follow the link in the sidebar to see
what sorts of toys my baby’s going to be playing with as soon as he’s able.
:)

Marriage links for the week

Derek explains how he and his wife occupy
opposite ends
of an emotional spectrum.

Becky had decided to leave her husband. She packed a bag and went to her mother’s
house, 14-month-old son in tow. Her mother said "Before you leave Bill,
I have one task for you to complete." She divided a sheet
of paper in half and told Becky to write down a list of her husband’s bad qualities
on the left-hand side. The list on the right-hand side, she says, saved her
marriage. And it’s probably not
what you think
.

Jason writes about how no
marriage is perfect
, but every marriage can be healthy.

Lori points out that she’s not listing 100 reasons she loves her husband,
but rather 100 things she loves about her husband. It’s a point well taken,
and I wish I’d thought about that when I was writing my list. Anyway, she shares
list items Nos.
31–40
this week.

Bowden McElroy explains how husbands and wives tend to view sexual
rejection
differently, and how couples tend to think of disagreements
about sex
on a different level than other arguments.

His and Hers and (this week) Baby’s: Fame and fortune, without the fame

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 ate Chinese food earlier this week, what message
was in your fortune cookie?

Mrs. Happy’s response

"As the purse becomes empty, the heart becomes full."

This isn’t exactly my idea of a fortune, but if it’s true, then our hearts
are becoming fuller by the minute!

Curt’s response

"Be a Winner."

Yes, the word Winner really was capitalized. The companies that print
these up apparently have no quality control. And since the last few "fortunes"
I’ve gotten have been more like adages than predictions, I think maybe it’s
time that some entrepreneurial Christian started printing Bible
verses
to put
into
fortune
cookies. I don’t know how many Chinese restaurants would buy them, but I’d
prefer reading "Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs
rather than a fool in his folly" over something like "Be a Winner."

Baby Happy’s response

"You are the guiding star of his existence."

Though I am not yet entirely sure whether I enjoy or detest Chinese food,
I must admit a sense of bafflement concerning the concept of fortune cookies
in general and my fortune in particular. Daddy tells me that the use of a possessive
pronoun without even the hint of an antecedent is never a good idea, but that
even if we knew the "his" that is referenced, any man would be an abject fool
to look to a preborn baby for guidance in his life. I’m not even sure what
Daddy means by all that, but he is the smartest man I’ve ever met so I will
trust
his
judgment.

(At least the flip side of the fortune taught me that the Chinese word for
yellow is pronounced huang-se.)

Not an island

I had a friend once who worked with a woman whose husband was a youth minister.
My friend told me about some discussions he had with this young man, and the
things this youth minister would say always left me shaking my head in bafflement.
I remember one conversation in particular in which my friend asked this youth
minister what he thought of Promise
Keepers
. According to my friend, the YM said, "Well, I guess some
men feel a sense of inadequacy and feel like they need support and encouragement
from a group of men. There’s nothing wrong with that, I guess, but I personally
don’t need it."

For the record, I’ve never read the
PK book
or been to a PK rally. However, I have always sought out other Christian
men—not only those who are dealing with issues similar to my own, but also those
who have been through it before. I think men do themselves and their families
a great disservice when they neglect
to meet together
and
fail to encourage one another. We men need to be sharpening each other as iron
sharpens iron
. We need to be celebrating marriage together and showing other
men what a joy marriage can be.

Along these lines, a question recently arose concerning how many men read
this blog. I know there are some, because they leave comments and sometimes
send e-mails, but I suspect there are more. One reader suggested I do a poll
just to see how many male readers there are. I’m not quite industrious enough
to research poll services or technologies, but I think I would like to find
out how many men visit here. So, I’ll just ask that if you’re a man and you
visit this blog regularly, please leave a comment with your first name, your
city of residence, and anything else you’d like to say.

Most of all…

At least once every day, I put my face next to my wife’s abdomen and talk
to my unborn child. No matter what I say to him, I always end by saying, "Always
remember that I’m your daddy
and I love you, and your mama loves you, and Jesus loves you most of all."
So
imagine my surprise when I saw a
post on Adrian Warnock’s blog
reviewing a children’s
book called Most
of All, Jesus Loves You
.
The official description of the book says:

It’s wonderful to have parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and
uncles and aunts who love us. But the deepest love comes from Jesus. This
bedtime
story will leave the sweetest of thoughts in a child’s head as the little
one drifts off to sleep: "Jesus loves me!"

The illustrations look pretty simplistic, and the writing is obviously for
very young children, so it probably won’t win an awful lot of adult fans. Its
effect on Adrian’s kids is inspiring, however:

When I first read this book to our two year old Joel and our four year old,
Charis it was a real hit. Charis asked all kinds of questions about God,
and we had one of the best chats yet.

After having it read to him, our six
year old Henry asked to take this book to bed with him. For several nights
he read the book to himself after we
had said goodnight. He said that he sometimes thought about bad or scary
things
and that this book helped him to feel better. Reading Jesus loves him helped
him to conquer some of these fears which he hadnt even told us about.

The book has also been reviewed via Diet
of Bookworms
by TulipGirl,
Amy
Scott
, and Thinkling Philip
Schroeder
. Its message is one I’m desperate to impart to my child even before
he’s born. I said in an earlier
post
that I would say no more about the baby registry
and wish list in the sidebar, but I have to go back on that just this once
to
point out that I’ve added this book to the
wish list
.

Scott and Lori’s love story

During the summer and fall of 2004, I read the adventures of Scott
and Lori
pretty regularly on their joint blog. I loved reading their
thoughts on marriage beforehand, and I could feel their frustration at being
separated by so much
distance—she lived in Arkansas (U.S.) and he lived in Scotland. I remember
the sense of excitement when Scott traveled to Arkansas for the wedding. I
remember the obvious elation they expressed when they resumed blogging after the honeymoon. I remember,
and personally identify with, Scott’s amazement that such an amazing woman
agreed to marry him. I remember wondering how those two ever managed to meet,
much less fall in love and marry. Which brings us to this series of e-mails:

On Sep 12, 2005, at 1:54 PM, Lori McFarlane wrote:

Hi Curt,

I came across a link I thought you might enjoy reading. Unfortunately
it appears she doesn’t have permalinks set up, and the originator of the
blog is on holiday
(so the author of this post is one of her "blog sitters") but I thought
you might appreciate it anyway. It’s the September 9 entry.

http://www.forbieland.blogspot.com/

Lori


On Sep 17, 2005, at 3:23 PM, Curt Hendley wrote:

Lori,

Thanks for this link. It was great. I’ve also posted links to the beginning(s)
of your list of 100 reasons you love your husband. Great stuff–keep it up.

I’ve
been wanting for some time to ask you for a guest post. You may have seen
a few posts on my blog that tell the stories of how married couples
met and
fell in love. I’m intensely curious about you and Scott. How does an Arkansas
girl
meet up with a Scottish man, fall in love, build a relationship from opposite
sides of an ocean, then wind up being happily married? All love stories
are wonderful, but yours has to be unique. Would you consider writing it up
and
letting me share
it on my blog?

Curt


On Sep 18, 2005, at 9:10 AM, Lori McFarlane wrote:

Sure, I’d love to. Today
being my one-year anniversary, I’m in an especially romantical mood. :)

Lori

And so it happened that Lori wrote out her love story, which I’m posting below
in its entirety. It looks long, but reads quickly because it’s so interesting
and passionate. Be sure to visit their
blog
as well.


The story from our point of view starts back in 2001, but I believe from God’s POV it must’ve started much earlier than that (like before time). In hindsight, I can see His plan really kick into action about a year before we met. This is where I think I’ll begin the story.

I was a very young Christian- about four months old. For those four incredibly action-packed months, I’d been getting a very disturbing feeling… that I was supposed to be involved in overseas missions. This was severely out of line with my current aspirations to be a writer and editor/publisher. But the feeling could not be shaken, and I understood this to be of God. So, I got in contact with the one organisation I was most familiar with, Teen Missions Int’l, and offered my services as a leader for a team of teenagers. I expressed that I was interested in the Middle East, which is where my heart lay at the time, and said I’d be particularly interested in going to Egypt.

“Actually, the only two teams we need leaders for is Florida and Scotland. Are you interested in going to either of those places?” said the woman on the phone. Confused by what I thought God had been telling me, I told the woman I would have to pray about it and get back to her. I hung up the phone and instantly felt certain I was supposed to go to Scotland. But Scotland, Lord? Why would anyone need to be a missionary to Scotland? (I suppose I believed that heilan coos and bagpipes were enough to save any man from eternal damnation.) But this was no longer just a feeling I was having but a certainty. Not two minutes had passed when I called the woman back up and told her to Scotland I would go.

Fast forward to the the summer. In Scotland, our team’s projects were to coordinate and run a Vacation Bible School (or as the Scots called it, a Kid’s Club) for the kids living in the “schemes” or the projects. The first day we arrived on Oransay Avenue, we were met by hundreds of little devil-children greeting us with up-turned middle fingers and four-letter words that most of us had never even heard before. Our other project was to volunteer at the Haven, a rehab run by Teen Challenge. It was at the Haven when I finally realised why I’d been called to Scotland. Having had my own experiences with dabbling in drugs and having seen many of my closest friends’ lives destroyed by drug use, I immediately loved with all my heart the addicts in this place. I realised that this is the kind of missions I was meant to be involved in.

Simultaneously, I was leading a group of 31 teenagers, each with his or her own experiences and circumstances and struggles with knowing God. Enter Scott.

Of course, it was only Enter Scott for me. Scott had been living his own 17 years prior to my arriving on Scottish soil. At this point, having been at University for a year, he had come to the conclusion that there was no God and had declared himself an atheist. He came around to the church to hang out with “the Americans” with his brother and sister (all of whom attended the church we were working with) and spent practically the entire summer with us. Little did I know that our presence was slowly changing Scott’s mind about God.

Let it be said plainly – I did not like Scott. Let it be said equally plainly – Scott did not like me. For Scott had become involved with one of the girls on my team, and this caused an enormous amount of friction between myself and the girl. One of the most emphatic rules of Teen Missions is “No Pairing Off.” Thus, I was constantly having to separate the two, causing enmity between us all. Scott, to me, was a trouble-maker, and I, to Scott, a Nazi.

Fast forward again, this time two years. Scotland and Teen Challenge continued to be a soft spot in my heart. I kept the Haven in my prayers and tried to get in touch with several TC centres around the mid-South area but no centres contacted me back. Finally, I contacted Wales, where a girls rehab was located and was immediately responded to. It was arranged that I would come visit and help out in Newport, where the actual street ministry took place. Excited about visiting the UK again, I began chatting online with my Scottish acquaintances about visiting Scotland as well. Re-enter Scott.

But of course, it was only Re-enter Scott for me. For he’d been living the last two years his own life. He had changed significantly. Though he still struggled with his faith, he no longer disbelieved in God. He had grown quite a bit over the years, taken an interest in theology and had become anxious to serve God. He, too, turned to Teen Missions, where he signed up to be part of their Missionaries to America team, a group of non-Americans who toured the US as missionaries. Scott and I began talking and started to realise how much we had in common. He expressed his disappointment that he wouldn’t be in Scotland when I came to visit, and I promised to travel to one of the nearby states if he happened to come close by while I was still around.

My arrangements to go to Wales were coming along fantastically. I found a cheap ticket, had places to stay, had the full blessing of my parents (this being my first international trip taken on my own, and me still being only 21). However, though the Powers That Be were continually working in my favour for going, the same Powers were working against Scott’s coming to the US. There were issues with his visa and passport, then issues with his college exam dates. TMI wanted him out there a week or two before his exams were over, and he couldn’t arrange his exams for any earlier. It finally turned out that he wouldn’t be able to go. We were both disappointed, but also a bit excited that we’d get to see each other while I was over. Scott promised to hang out with me while in Scotland and take me around the non-touristy areas.

When he and his brother picked me up at the airport, I was shocked at how different and grown up they both were. They, too, were shocked at how not-black-and-spikey my hair was and, I’d also like to believe, by how much cooler I was. Scott stuck to his promise, and we did lots together. We went to pubs and movies and ate fish and chips by the river. Already people were beginning to see what it would take us about another month to discover for ourselves.

One night, while staying with the Gaults, a family at Scott’s church, Scott made an offensive joke in front of the group that hurt my feelings, and I retired to my bed. Lying in the darkness, I could hear everyone laughing and joking, and I shut my eyes, trying to go to sleep. Behind my eyelids, Scott’s face appeared. He was tossing his long hair back the way he always did, and I opened my eyes. When I shut them again, his face and hair tossing returned. What the crap. Why am I thinking about Scott? I wondered. The next morning we had planned to go to a museum together. He was meant to arrive at the Gaults’ around 10 in the morning. He was half an hour late, but it didn’t matter because I had slept in. I woke up in a panic when I heard his voice in the hall and stressed out big time over the enormous zit that had appeared over night. Unshowered and zit-faced I went with Scott to the museum. Something had changed. There was a thing between us. There was a weirdness. There was a need to impress. We looked at art together and made pretentious comments. I read out an Arabic phrase embroidered in a tapestry. Scott talked of the ancient Egyptians. We were both trying to impress and dually impressed.

Then I was off to Wales. Scott and I emailed every day. If a day went by without an email, we both felt the significance (or assumed significance) of the spurn. We had an unspoken code. If he signed his email with a “Scott x”, I signed with a “love, lori”. If he didn’t, I didn’t. By this time we’d both admitted to ourselves what this all meant but weren’t quite sure if the feeling was reciprocated.

It was harder on me than on him. One of the main things I’d asked prayer for from my friends and family was that I wouldn’t meet a guy who would take my mind off my work for the Lord. I was extremely boy-crazy and had also just been out of a serious relationship. I had decided, and quite happily, too, that I would remain single. I believed that I could do far more for God if I remained single. But I felt that my emotions had betrayed me, and here I was, falling for a guy.

I explained this struggle with a woman from my church, via email. She asked me, “Why did you want us to pray that you wouldn’t meet anyone? Did God lay that specifically on your heart?” The answer? No. Not really. I’d just wanted that prayer for myself. I didn’t think a man is what I needed or wanted, and for all I could see, men only got in the way of what was really important. But she’d stumped me. I felt confused.

Back in Scotland, I stayed with Scott’s family for the remainder of my trip. Things progressed. We held hands on the top of a mountain. We went out on a fancy date. We kissed. I remained confused.

As we ridiculous humans often do, we resorted to actually talking about our situation only at the end. I then explained my confusion to Scott. He was hurt but agreed we would slow things down and see what happened. Little did I know that Scott already had a suspicion that I would one day be his wife.

For the next five months we communicated through email, telephone and letters. We talked about everything, and we began to feel extremely close, despite our distance. I continued to grow spiritually and so did Scott. He arranged to come visit over Christmas. A few times, the stress of the situation and my confused state caused me to nearly break it off, yet each time, while in the moment of passionate frustration, contact with Scott was made impossible until the frustration passed and I no longer felt rash. Confused as I still was, I still at times couldn’t help but see how strangely significant all of this seemed to be. I even sometimes allowed my mind to wonder what a future with Scott would be like.

About two weeks before Scott came out, we each had our own private epiphanies. At my Bible study, I suddenly broke down in tears and told all about the pain and hurt I was still feeling from my last relationship. I told all about my decision to be single and how that decision was based also on my past relationship. The group prayed for me and I went home feeling burdenless for the first time in almost a year. Finally free to see and feel clearly, I realised something so intensely solid that I could hardly put a name to it. It was love. I realised that I loved Scott. I realised that my love for him was nothing like the love I expected it would be like. It was so honest and deep and perfectly normal that I hardly knew what to make of it. Scott, almost to the very same day, experienced the same realisation.

He came to visit. After spending only a day with me, he told me he loved me. We’d talked about the “L” word before and had both admitted we weren’t sure if we felt it. But now we both knew, independently of each other, that we did. I told him I loved him, too. But immediately I knew that wasn’t it. That wasn’t enough. Fresh in my mind was the book Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot, and I remembered her saying a man shouldn’t say he loves a woman unless his next words were “Will you marry me?” Not only did I now realise I loved him, I realised I couldn’t live without him. I wanted to marry him.

The next day, while taking a walk outside, I felt moody and quiet. Scott, not knowing what had gotten into me, continued to chat away about whatever he was talking about. Finally, I stopped walking, angry that he didn’t know what was wrong with me. “Scott. Yesterday you said you loved me. But… but… I don’t know what you mean by that!” I blurted. He stopped and looked directly into my eyes. “I said I love you, and I mean that I love you properly.” Still uncertain of his meaning, I began, “But for how long…” Surprised, he responded, “Forever. Lori, I mean I want to marry you.”

My heart burst into a million pieces and I dissolved into a million tears. Poor Scott, thinking he’d said something wrong, hugged me, confusedly. Once I’d regained a modicum of composure I told him I wanted to marry him, too, and thus we considered ourselves engaged. We considered buying a ring right then and there, but Scott decided he’d rather save up for one and get me one that was perfect. For three months we were “unofficially engaged”.

This was the worst three months I’d ever lived through. It was in this same kind of unofficial engagement that my last relationship had ended. But this one did not end. I flew over to visit during Spring Break, where Scott presented me with the most beautifully hand-designed-and-made ring in the world and the sweetest down-on-one-knee-and-jumbled-up-from-being-passionately-overcome proposal any woman has ever received. I went home, not to see my beloved for another seven months.

From March to September we continued to communicate in the same way as before, through email and phone calls and letters. When he flew out in September for the wedding, we’d spent a grand total of only six weeks in each other’s presence. Counting the week prior to the wedding, it amounted to seven. Yet we never worried about this, because we knew each other inside-out. A year of nothing but communication had taught us more about each other than many years of dating ever could. Besides, we could not help but see how masterfully orchestrated by God our whole relationship had been. We didn’t need loud fireworks and writing in the sky to tell us it was meant to be; we needed only look at our love and lives. That spoke it all.

One year of marriage has brought out differences, selfishness, arguments and tears. It’s also brought out laughter, commonalities, spiritual growth, overflowing love, unspeakable joy, spontaneous song and dance, romantic moments and strength. If we had it all to do over again, we wouldn’t change a thing.

“You’re worth the trouble and you’re worth the pain,
you’re worth the worry, I would do the same
if we all went back to another time
I would love you over.” – Belle & Sebastian

Marriage links for the week

Before we were married, Mrs. Happy read a book called Passion
and Purity
by Elisabeth
Elliot. It is perhaps the most timeless and essential book on Christian courtship
ever written. Paula read the book recently and offers
an excellent review
, along
with some insightful thoughts of her own.

Kari offered a guest post
at This Beautiful Mess recently
explaining how the reality of marriage shatters
preconceived illusions
while building
up a foundation of joy in love. (Big thanks to Lori for the link.)

Speaking of Lori, she’s striking out at the world’s negativity about marriage
with her own list of 100 Reasons She Loves Her Husband. Following my lead (she
calls me a "ringleader"—I’ve never been called that before), she’s listing
her reasons ten at a time: here are 1–10, 11–20, and 21–30.

First I see that someone considers me a "ringleader," then I find out that
my blog "inspired" someone. Heady stuff, that. Anyway, /Tim offers a creative
take on the whole "list of ten" idea and offers several
such lists about his wife
.

Rey examines what Paul meant when he said that spouses
have authority over
each other’s bodies
.

Rebecca came up with the truly inspired idea of writing limericks based on
Proverbs. Her first offering dealt specifically with marriage, but go
to her blog and read them all
:

The man who is wise in this life
Values character o’er skill in a wife.
Much better a diet
Of dry bread, with quiet,
Than a house full of feasting with strife. (Proverbs
17:1
)

Derek thinks about the responsibility associated with his becoming
one flesh
with his wife.