His and Hers: Singing praise

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.

What is your favorite hymn or praise chorus?

Mrs. Happy’s response

Without a doubt, mine is And Can It Be. I especially like the arrangement
we have for our church choir.

And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior’s blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine;
alive in him, my living Head,
and clothed in righteousness divine,

Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Curt’s response

I grew up in Southern Baptist churches singing old four-part hymns, so that
music will always be special to me. For pure meditative worship, though, nothing
beats Glorify Thy Name.

Father we love You
We worship and adore You
Glorify Thy name in all the earth
Glorify Thy name
Glorify Thy name
Glorify Thy name
In all The Earth

Q & A time with Curt

Miss O’Hara had
a really good idea a while back. She asked her readers to ask
her questions
that she
could collect and answer
in a post
. Later, Irene did something
similar when she invited her readers
to ask her questions
about her career in journalism
, questions she later answered.
I’ve considered doing something like that here. I even have a category set
up for
Questions.
I’ve never invited questions, however,
for fear that no one would ask me anything. I imagine people sitting at their
computers thinking, "You’re a husband, you’re happy, and you’re celebrating
marriage. What more is there to know?" There’s a lot more to
know, frankly. I’m a man of
complexity, noble in reason, infinite in faculty, in action like an angel,
in apprehension like a god, the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals,
and still merely the quintessence of dust.
And I quote Hamlet in
certain moods.

Though I don’t really solicit questions, I do welcome them. People e-mail
me sometimes. I don’t receive enough e-mails to fill up a whole post with answers,
so I concoct
a
few to fill out the space:

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
MCF once referred to Dave Barry’s humor as "Hendley-esque." I e-mailed a commenter
once, and she responded by saying, "Getting an email from you is like getting
a letter from Bill Bennett or C.S. Lewis!" Both of those compliments made my
heart skip a beat. But maybe the best came from a reader who stumbled across
my old site and left this comment: "As someone who doesnt really believe in
marriage, I must say that if
such a marriage as yours can exist, then marriage cant be all bad. If
ever I get married, I hope I will find someone who I can love as much as you
do your wife!" That one nearly made me cry.

Did you really say that Rey makes "mistakes born of ignorance that tries to
sound sophisticated and impressive"?

Some bloggers like to put quotes in their sidebars to let readers know what other
bloggers say about them. Rey pulls quotes out of context
and posts them to make it look like people say a bunch of nasty things about
him. He needn’t go to all that trouble. People say plenty of nasty things about
him without his having to pull anything out of context. I did
say that
about
him, but he neglects to mention that I also said, "For the record,
I have no problem with that."

Speaking of sidebar quotes, Amy
Scott
claims that you
called her a "highly competitive porkpier." What the heck does that mean?

Basically, it means she’s zealous in her pursuit of porkpieing. She pulled
that quote from the
same post
Rey pulled his quote
from. Funny how that happened.

What’s one good thing about marriage?
God
ordained it
.

What’s one bad thing about marriage?
I’ve been married for seven years, and I still have trouble believing how fast
a woman can use up a roll of toilet paper.

Pretty much every Christian agrees that God meant sex only for married couples,
but what about kissing?
That’s a pretty thorny question. I once wrote about it in another questions post, so check that out.

Is that all you have to say about the issue?
I suppose not. I remember being young, single, and frustrated with spiritual leaders who would talk
around an answer instead of saying something simple and definitive.
I’m tempted
to say, "Yes, it’s sinful for Christians to kiss if they’re not
married," but I’d have no confidence in that answer. Unfortunately,
the Bible doesn’t give us a commandment on where to draw the physical intimacy
line when it comes to premarital relationships.

How did that play out in your pre-marriage life?
It
was a real revelation to me the day I realized that sex is much more than
just intercourse. James Dobson had a good
essay about that
in his book Love for a Lifetime. Looking back
on my life, I wish I had never kissed a woman other than my wife, and I wish
I had waited longer with her. If I could go back and do
everything
over again, I would kiss her for the first time on the night I asked her
to marry me. The other girls I kissed still haunt my memory sometimes, and
I’d
be a lot better off without that. Anything that robs attention or privilege
from your spouse (current or future) is something that robs you of a great
deal of joy.

Why don’t you ever talk about marriage-related issues like same-sex
marriage, single parenthood, and divorce rates or offer resources and advice
for people
trying to heal a marriage?

Other sites do that much better than I ever could. My purpose here is to celebrate
marriage, to demonstrate what a deep and abiding joy it can be, and to hear
from others that they love marriage too. I stay away from the negative issues
for the most part because there aren’t many places in the world or the blogosphere
where marriage is embraced rather than mourned.

Are you really the only one celebrating marriage?
Recent years have seen the emergence of a number of blogs that also
celebrate marriage, and even more celebrating parenthood. When I started blogging
over two years ago, I couldn’t find any. Now I have a whole sidebar full of
them.

If you search your iTunes library for song titles containing the letters q and z, how many results do you get?
One: Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ by Journey.

You like Journey?
My wife put that on our computer. I swear.

Baby stuff, stuff for the baby

I love Miss
Manners
, but I don’t understand her sometimes.
She insists that when a gift is given on any occasion, the giver has absolute
discretion
concerning the substance and value of the gift.
She rails against children’s birthday party gift registries and situations
in which a
"gift" is required for admission to a social gathering. I’m with her on that.
As my friend Rey would say, that junk’s obnoxious. I disagree with her, though,
when she says that wedding and baby registries represent a monumental breach
of
etiquette,
especially
when (in the case of a wedding registry) an engaged couple
has never cohabited and will be starting a new life
together or when (in the case of a baby registry) a couple is expecting the
birth of their first child and faces a serious financial hurdle in preparing
a place
for their bundle of joy.

In my opinion, a registry is—or should be—simply a list of things a couple
needs. Well-wishers are free to peruse or ignore a registry as they see fit.
People who love the couple usually want to help make sure they have all their
essentials. What better way to accomplish this than with a checklist?

Anyway, we made a baby registry earlier this week.

It was fun. I love scanning things with that little ray gun they provide.
I love watching my wife ponder the subtleties of aesthetics. I love getting
ready for the birth of the life we made together. The worst part of the experience
came at the beginning when the lady helping us
get started
couldn’t
answer
any of
our
questions.
She made
me doubt
that
our efforts would amount to anything. The questions she couldn’t answer made
me nervous, but the one question she did answer made me sad. Mrs. Happy wrote
our names on a form and started filling out the blanks for address, phone number,
etc., then noticed that there were separate columns for the mother’s information
and the father’s information. She stopped and asked if it was really necessary
to fill out both columns. The woman asked, "Do you have the same last name
and the same address?" -Yes- "Then you can just fill
out the one column."

It occurred to me that readers of this blog might appreciate the opportunity
to take part in my child’s birth in some small way. Babies "R" Us has made
this possible by partnering with Amazon to make baby registries available online.
Maybe no one wants to do that. I don’t know.
I certainly don’t expect anyone to. I’ve never asked for donations or displayed
ads or provided a virtual tip jar. I consider this site a ministry and I don’t
want anyone to feel even vaguely guilty for enjoying it at no cost. But I don’t
want to deny anyone the opportunity if they want it. Therefore, I’m providing
links in this post for our
online baby registry
and Amazon
wish list
, which
consists mostly of books, videos, and music for babies and parents. I’ll also
post the links in the sidebar until Tater finally enters into his next phase
of life. And I’ll say no more about it.

Prematernal syndrome

One of the books Mrs. Happy has to guide her through pregnancy is called The
Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy
.
It was a gift from a friend, and it contains the kind of advice a woman would
receive
from another woman who’s been pregnant rather than a doctor who deals with
pregnancy as a matter of routine. It has some good, practical information,
at times is
quite funny (because pregnancy can pretty funny, especially in retrospect),
and is often more vulgar than any by-the-numbers book. That last quality is
sometimes a little offensive, but adds to the realism of what the author is
saying.

Anyway, yesterday my wife read the following passage to me out loud:

Normally, when an otherwise happily married couple is going through a bumpy
time, sitting down and talking out the problem can be quite helpful. This
is not true, however, when the better half of the couple is pregnant. If
you believe the premise that women are from Venus and men are from Mars,
then during pregnancy, women are scissors and men are either paper or stone.
Simple biology will preclude the man and woman from having any clue as to
what the other is feeling or thinking, and by the end of the nine (ten) months,
neither of you will be honestly able to say that you care that much. But
don’t worry too much about this communication gap, because it will disappear
after the baby is born and you are both physically and emotionally recovered.
Parenting, unlike pregnancy, is usually a much more collaborative effort,
and the two of you will be more in sync with your worries and your joys.
You will be equal partners in the "How in the World Do We Raise a Child?"
quandary.

Certainly, my dear wife has had some days that left me longing for the return
of PMS, but I never expected her to acknowledge it. Thankfully, every one of
those days has been followed by a day when she apologizes and explains that,
"I was just really pregnant." To be fair, I have my own mood swings. I can
think, "I’m so excited about having this baby I feel like I’m going to burst
out of my skin!" and "What the…! What am I gonna to do with a baby?!"
both within the space of ten minutes.

But even though we sometimes are not on the "same page" during this pregnancy,
I imagine that the author’s second assertion—that parenting brings couples
together—will be true for us. I don’t think it’s generally
true. Couples sometimes split because of differences of opinion
when it comes to parenting, perhaps the most tragic of all ironies, but Mrs.
Happy and I lack the ability to be at odds for very long. In any case, I’ll
be very glad when this baby stops messing with his mama’s hormones.

Marriage links for the week

Mopsy, on the day before her wedding anniversary, recalls how her wedding
rehearsal prepared her for the wedding but not
for the marriage
. Then, on the occasion of her anniversary, she reflects
on how her years of marriage have
been
.

Ben tells the story of how he met Rachel—a wonderful story of a love
flower blossoming from a friendship bush—in two parts (one and two).
I can’t tell from these posts whether the two are married yet, but it’s a nice
love story in any case. (Thanks to Rey for the link.)

Steve Lynch continues his review of the book Covenant Marriage with Chapter
10:
The Art of Self-Revelation
.

Ouch.
LOL, but ouch. Poor Rey.

Ben Wilson has an
interview with Shaunti Feldhahn
, author of several marriage-friendly
books.

Tim Samoff celebrates three
years with his wife
, and has also begun blogging
her pregnancy
.

Ginny, The Inspired Traditionalist, writes about the
importance of having a Christ-centered marriage
.

His and Hers: First words

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.

What was the first word you spoke when you were a baby?

Curt’s response

"No." When I told my wife this, she said, "That figures." :/

Mrs. Happy’s response

My first word was "Eat." I guess that figures, too.

Before and after

My mother tells me that while I was gestating in the womb, my movements were
usually calm and deliberate. My sister, on the other hand, did a lot of sudden
punching and kicking. Those characteristics eventually described our separate
personalities as well—I am fairly calm and deliberate while my sister is more
excitable and spontaneous. Our baby is about half-and-half so far. He stretches
a lot and he jumps a lot, often causing his mother discomfort that sometimes
borders on pain. He’s in a catch-22, though, because when he rests she worries about him.

Anyway, I don’t usually ask for comments, but I’m going to today. Have any
of you (especially those of you who are parents) noticed a correlation between
a child’s pre-birth and post-birth temperament? I’m just really wondering what
Tater’s going to be like and whether his current actions are in any way indicative
of his future personality.

A twinkle, a hint, a promise

I made a gross oversight in neglecting to include Jeff’s
homage to his loved
one
(and, it is assumed, future wife) on his blog.
His description of daily distraction strikes a familiar chord with me. I remember
the times when, as he says, "I can think of nothing else. She is
my beautiful girl. I see her in my thoughts.…She brightens my very existence."
I remember closing my eyes and seeing her image burned into the backs of my
eyelids, hearing her voice when I read silently, and wondering if she could
possibly have as much as a single imperfection.

One of the criticisms most often leveled at monogamy, marriage, and long-term
relationships in general is that such sparks never last. Even people who value
marriage say things like, "That feeling of being in love is just
a feeling, and feelings fade. It takes commitment and a willingness to work
if you want
to
make a marriage
last." When you put it like that, marriage doesn’t sound like much fun—first
the sparks, then the wedding, then it’s work, work, work till you die. Who
needs that?

Well, I’m here to tell you that sparks are just emotions, and emotions ebb
and flow. Sparks flash brightly, then go away. That’s why we call them sparks.
If I may extend the metaphor, it takes a spark to start a fire. Fires burn
as long as they’re tended; if tended correctly, a fire will never die. It may
burn hotter at times, and at other times may consist only of glowing embers,
but those embers can be fanned back into flames if flames are needed. The spark
at the beginning is brilliant and beautiful, but it is only a tiny glimmer
of what can follow. When stranded out in the cold midnight of a hostile world,
do you fire up a sparkler or spark up a fire?

Back when we were dating and we had to part company for the evening, Mrs.
Happy sometimes asked me, "Are you going to miss me?" I always answered, "The
only time I don’t miss you is when we’re together." She still asks the same
question, I still answer the same way, and I still mean it, only more.

Blog Party 6.0

For his sixth
blog party
, MCF asks the question, "What three wishes
can I grant you?" My gut reaction is, "Uh, dude, you got nothin’ I want." But
then I consider that he’s asking from the perspective of a fictitious genie,
and it’s all just in fun. So, if I could snap my fingers and just receive any
three things, what would I wish for? I have problems with games like this,
because I tend to overthink them. The whole three-wishes thing never works
out very well in non-Disney stories, and I’ve experienced enough of life to
know that if I got everything I asked for, I’d be much worse off than I am
now.

For example, I used to pray fervently for God to bring a specific kind of
woman into my life. I had a list of qualities I wanted in a wife, and all I
expected in return was for her to tolerate my presence and treat me kindly
for the rest of our lives. Instead, God gave me a woman with few if any of
the qualities I requested, though with quite a few better ones that I hadn’t
thought of. Even better, she loved me with a devotion I never thought possible.
I didn’t get my wish, and I’m so glad.

I think the problem is that when we sit around and think of what we would
wish for, the wishes almost invariably grow out of our insecurities. That’s
probably why God doesn’t actually allow genies to exist, and why he doesn’t
grant wishes like a fairy. He’s completely secure and in a far better position
to know what would be good for us and what would kill us.

I don’t mean to spoil the fun of the blog party. It is supposed to
be fun, after all. But now I’m all self-conscious because everyone knows that
my wishes reflect my deepest uncertainties. Oh, well. Here are my wishes, with
no further explanation:

The wisdom of Solomon

A golden egg-laying goose

Super speed

Marriage links for the week

I didn’t find many writings about marriage this week. If I’ve missed something
good, please leave a link in the comments.

Dan Haseltine, lead singer for the band Jars of Clay, writes in Relevant about
modern marriage as it contrasts with his
grandparents’ 60 years together
. (ht: Ben
Wilson
)

From the files of Bowden
McElroy
: "Mark Daniels celebrates 31
years of marriage
and lists 10 things he has learned during those years.
Al Mohler writes about The
Cohabitation Trap
. Tim
Ellsworth
wonders why the marriages of high-profile Christian recording
artists seem to be in trouble."