Time for a software complaint. I wrote a long blog here and just as I got to the end of it, the whole thing got eaten by the software in some mysterious fashion. I hate when that happens.
Seriously, I wrote the whole thing and it was pretty good, I must admit. It was clever and insightful and full of insightful language. No, really. It was. Now, it is gone. You should have seen it. It was really great. Too bad it was eaten by my computer.
Sounds pretty lame, doesn't it? There is something really unsatisfying about telling someone how great something was when they can't actually see it.
I wonder how many of our "marriage classes" are like that.
We sit in churches in all these classes and people all tell us how great they are doing. Or, perhaps, how great they were doing. They remember days when they were thrilled to be married. They remember how they used to do everything together. Their marriage was great. No, really. It was.
But, now, well, things are fine, they say. Not really like the old days, but, then, we're older now. We are more settled. The children take a lot of our energy, after all, and we have to get them to all their stuff. So, things are not what they were.
In Marabel Morgan's Total Woman book, she explained how she suddenly realized that she and her husband just no longer had that fire in their marriage. She thought about it and realized that, well, they were more settled now. The fires burn lower and the passion is gone, but they still have a mature, comfortable life together.
Then, she said the line that really mattered. She realized that she hated "mature love." She hated having a comfortable marriage. She hated having a marriage with less passion and less joy. She hated it all. She wanted what she used to have.
So, as you think of your marriage, how are you doing? Your words notwithstanding, how excited are you to be the wife of your husband? How excited are you to go to bed with him at night, to wake up with him in the morning, and to spend your days together? If your marriage has become a "mature" marriage with no passion, do you like it this way?
Do not tell me how your marriage used to be. "It was great. No, really. It was."
Tell me how it was this morning and last night.
Tell me how it will be today.
One of the most important moments in a day is the moment of coming home. This is something you need to think carefully about because it tells you a lot about your relationship.
When a husband comes home, the reaction he gets is amazingly important to him. I can remember coming home when my children were young. They were always happy to see me. I remember getting out of my car, tired from a day of work and a long commute, but knowing that when I walked in the door the children would be pleased to see me. I loved that feeling. Knowing that someone loved you, that someone wanted you to be at home, that someone was happy that you were at home, was a very good thing, indeed.
So, what happens when your husband gets home? For too many people, there is no joy in it at all. You know he is coming home, so it is no big deal. You are doing something else and you do not really care that he is at home. Perhaps you are "updating your status" on Facebook or sending an e-mail to someone. Maybe you are watching television or folding laundry or doing something with a child. Suddenly, your husband is home. What do you do?
I know exactly what you do. You do whatever is most important to you. If you are on Facebook and you do not get up to greet and kiss him, then we know what is important to you. It's not your husband. If you are folding clothes and keep folding, or you are watching television and keep watching, then we know what is important to you. It's not your husband.
If you even have to think about it, then something is badly wrong. When did Facebook become more important than the man you married? When did folding clothes become something more important than kissing your husband? But there are many families where the husband's arrival at home is not important at all, at least by the measure of their wives' reactions.
Don't think he misses this truth. If I walk into my house and my wife stays at her computer, there is a little something that is taken out of my life. If this happens every day, it can mean a great deal. If coming home is not important, why should I hurry home? I wonder how many "workaholics" are men who are warmly welcomed when they get home. I wonder how many men who are warmly welcomed at home will spend time "having a drink" with guys after work.
When I was a boy, there was one truth I knew every day. When my father came home, my mother was excited to see him. Whatever she was doing was over when he walked in the door. She would greet him with a smile and a kiss and, usually, they would sit down together in the kitchen and spend a little time together (with no children interrupting). Her cooking was planned so she could take a break with her husband. Her work was never as important as the man she loved.
And my father always came home. Who would delay coming home with such a wonderful welcome awaiting him?
When he walks in today, will he know that you love him by what you do? Will he know you are thrilled to see him? Will his heart be warmed by your response? Or will you tell him "hello" and keep Facebooking? Will you immediately dump all your complaints on him?
If I were in your home today, what would I learn from watching him come home?
We have been posting the Love Their Children audio sections for a month or so now. I am impressed with just how many things are involved in being a parent. Sometimes, it seems really complicated. Not only do you have to be consistent, but you have to be consistent in all manner of situations, from grocery stores to restaurants to service station bathrooms. Children, being children, are always just a moment away from some horrible (or horribly embarrassing) action.
Two thoughts come to mind.
First, how easy it is to let this kind of pressure overwhelm you. There are so many things going on at once that it can quickly take control of your life. Your fear for your children, greatly magnified by the current news story approach to life, can almost destroy you. You will focus on them to such a degree that you will forget everything else. Especially your husband.
In families with young children and stay-at-home moms, the "coming home" of the husband is often not a time of joy but of relief. "He is here," the wife proclaims, and immediately begins telling him all about what has happened or instructing him about what he needs to take care of. His coming home is, she thinks, her moment of freedom. He, on the other hand, is coming home from WORK! You remember, that place he goes to every day in order to pay bills. He is tired. He has driven from work (we all know how relaxing it is to commute). He is looking for the comforts of home. This is a source of a lot of domestic tension.
Being an Excellent Wife is often tied to things like how well you "run your house," which includes your children. If your husband's appearance is the relief of your every day, if your idea is to dump everything on him when he walks in, something is badly wrong.
Second, as I look at parenting, I grow more optimistic about marriage. If you can handle parenting, then being an Excellent Wife should not be very difficult. Your husband is not likely to run through the aisles at the grocery store, grabbing things and demanding candy. He is not going to throw a tantrum at the cleaners or start drawing on the walls of your bedroom. He is not going to bite the husband next door or spit on his friends or be sent home from school with a note demanding a wife/teacher conference. Marriage is an adult relationship and you never have to buy band candy.
Compared to raising children, being a wife ought to be a piece of cake.
As I have written before, I am not a fan of the whole Valentine's Day plan. Far too many people place a lot of stock in "what happens on Valentine's Day," which means they care about what happens that does not happen every other day. They want something "special."
Well, let's think about what you "got" for Valentine's Day.
1. Did you have your husband in your bed last night? Seriously. Did you? You may not think this is a big deal, but it is huge. The number of divorces and abandonments continues to amaze us. There are many women who were once married who slept alone last night. There are many women who are still married whose husband was in someone else's bed. You may not like his snoring, but his presence is very big indeed.
2. Did your husband go to work today? Again, this may not mean much to you, but it ought to. Recently, the President has been claiming that he is responsible for "unemployment going down," but that is just a game of numbers. The government no longer counts men who just aren't looking for jobs anymore. If your husband is working and making money, that is a gift of great value. He is putting up with annoying co-workers and complaining customers and interfering government agencies, so you can have a home to live in. Did you count this in your day?
3. Did your husband come home this evening? There are a lot of places a man can go when he decides to go home. There are bars and bookstores and libraries everywhere, but he comes home.
So, if these three things happened, you already have all you need for proof of love, don't you? You have a man who, in a world that tells him to indulge himself and ignore his duties, has held to his vow to you. You have a man whose life is forfeit to his word, who continues, day by day, to love and honor you and your children. That is a pretty good gift for a foolish day pushed by card companies and candy makers.
Did he sit and spend time with your children? Did he fix something? Did he take care of bills? Did he hold your hand this evening? All of these are great gifts.
When you sit down with your girlfriends and talk about Valentine's Day, think about these things. They will want to talk about some card he purchased (which is a commercially made card sold to thousands of other people). They will want to talk about chocolate he purchased (which is just like the chocolate sold to thousands of other persons). They will want to talk about the flowers he purchased (just like the flowers purchased by thousands of other persons, all of which will be dead next week).
Your husband will probably bring you some of that stuff as well, but it is just noise, not actual love. Cards and candy and flowers are not proof of love. The greatest proof of his love comes when he leaves home to head to work every day and when he comes home after work. You know those times, when you kiss him hello or kiss him goodbye.
You did kiss him today, didn't you?
I am posting again after a break of ten days or so. I have been tied up in all kinds of things and had a bit of a hiccup with the website stuff, so I have not been around. Sorry about that, but, hey, at least it is all free and we have been putting up the parenting class things every week. :)
Life kind of goes on, doesn't it? Sometimes, it seems like we just cannot do all the things we need to do, but life goes on. We keep getting more things to do and, somehow, we get through. Things change and move and grow and recede, and we just keep on moving.
We like to maintain an image of "happiness" in our lives, a lot of the time. We tell everyone we are "fine" when they ask, even if we are miserable. We do not want to clean up the messy garage and, when we start, we often stop right away because the mess is too big. So, we just keep people out of it. We go to churches where everyone looks so happy and we look happy, too, even though we are not happy at all.
One of the central truths of our lives, as CS Lewis put it, is that we are "amphibians" between the natural and the spiritual. We have natural lives and bodies and desires and boredoms, on the one hand, and we have spiritual lives on the other hand. We move constantly in these two worlds.
Usually, our "happiness" is mostly a natural happiness and our unhappiness is mostly the same. We are happy when our physical world is what it needs to be. We get a good night's sleep, have a nice breakfast, and we are happy. We think we are being spiritual when we are reallty being natural.
The next day, we feel terrible. We slept poorly or caught a cold or one of our children did something stupid and we are now unhappy. Oddly, we then decide that our unhappiness is somehow spiritual, when it is just natural.
The Christian life is about getting hold of this truth in a real sense. It is about learning to handle both the natural high and the natural low with the same spiritual wisdom. It is about not letting ourselves get on the merry-go-round of natural life, from highs to lows, and learning to be content with whatever nature brings us.
For wives, this is often very difficult. By nature, women deal with more changes than men face. Their bodies change more often, they go through very different phases of life, and they have to cope with all these things. Your ultimate happiness must be based on something more than how you feel or it will last only so long as you feel good. You must learn to value that which is most valuable and not to fixate on little things of no eternal value.
Think about your day as you walk through it. Do not let things of this world, natural things, get you so off key that you can no longer sing the song Christ gives you. Keep your spiritual self strong and the winds of the natural world will not take you hither and yon.
You are not a sailing ship, blown wherever the world blows you. You are a steamship, going where the Spirit takes you.