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Love and marriage are the greatest adventures in life, and they point they way to our relationship with the Almighty.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Let Battle Begin - Tuesdays at Ten

This post is linked to Tuesdays at Ten - please visit KarenBeth's site!

"We fight, therefore we are." Menachem Begin

For those who may not remember, Menachem Begin was prime minister of Israel through some of its hardest years in the 70s. It was he who was willing to meet Yassir Arafat for the Camp David accords, which led, if not to peace, to a certain level of understanding between Jew and Arab.

OK, so I' am cheating - I'm using the surname 'Begin', and not 'begin'. Too bad.)

What he is saying here is that our battles define us; our willingness to risk pain and death for a greater cause are what forms our legacy.

The same is true - sometimes - in marriage. We don't want to be unequally yoked, with divergent vision.

And if we are, we should be understanding and forbearing.


There are some battles in marriage we simply have to fight. We have to fight against adultery, obviously - we can;'t just say,"well, dear, as long as you're happy..."

We have to fight against "emotional adultery", a rather new category of dreadfullness to which the Internet has given birth. How lovely that we can reconnect with old friends.

And how revolting that we can reconnect with Old Flames.

These are things we have to fight, because if we don;'t, we sacrifice not only who we are, but the person our mate expected on that Wedding Day.

We were expected to bring not only a warm hug, but a bracing shout.

And now may be the time.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Not On The Same Page?

There have been times when my wife has said that we just aren't communicating at all.

We're talking, but it's like we're speaking different languages.

It gets frustrating for both of us, because everyone wants to be heard, but when we're not on the same page, it's just not happening. We're exercising oratorical skill in an empty lecture hall.

This is a recurring season that happens in every marriage; but that can be really hard to believe when your're courting.

In those halcyon days, every word that passes your beloved's lips is a drop of wisdom-nectar to be cherished, savoured, and remembered.

But after a few weeks of marriage, we start to forget them. And then we may forget why we thought we understood this individual in the first place.

But it is a season, and seasons pass.

Which doesn't make the question go away...how do you deal with communication that just doesn't work?

First, accept that this does happen. It will get better. And then it will happen again.

Second, don't try to force it. When we run into folks whose command of English is limited, we tend to try to make ourselves understood by speaking loudly. Sounds stupid, and it is, but most of us do it anyway.

Don't do it to your spouse. Speak your case, and let it go. You won't push understanding, and if you try, you'll only build resistance.

Third, listen more carefully. We change over time, and so do the nuances of our speech. I was once loud and confident; now I'm a lot quieter, and very, very reserved. For my wife it's a bit like being married to a whole 'nother person...and I have changed. I really am a whole 'nother person, and we have to meet somewhere in my difference...and hers.

Fourth, observe. What is your husband or wife reading, what do they prefer to watch on television, what kind of music do they listen to? The messages and images we ingest are both an indicator of where our hearts and minds are, and a predictor of where we're going.

Fifth, don't pull away. If talking doesn't work, okay, but don't quit holding hands in church, or walking around the block. Don't withhold hugs. Don't shy away from sex, if it's mutually desired.

Sixth, remain loyal. Do NOT complain to anyone (except a therapist) about the perceived distance that's opened up, because stuff like this tends to find its way home,..and back to your spouse's ears.

It's not fun. You work so hard to be a good mate...and this stuff isn't fair.

No. But it is life.

And if you give it a chance, and some care, it will pass.

If you have a chance, please visit my other blog, Starting the Day with Grace. You'll find a "grace quote" from a source you might not have expected, and a short commentary.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Married, at Church

Married Christians should attend church regularly. Period.

There are some very good reasons for this:

  • It helps keep you on the same spiritual wavelength. We usually begin marriage with a common worldview and a common spiritual outlook, but it;'s surprising how outside influences can cause divergence...and one day you can wonder how you ever believed the same things. Going to church together isn't a magic cure, but it does give a basis for discussion so that you can catch differences before they become chasms.
  • It provides an opportunity to service, through ministry teams. Serving together, in a common cause, is one of the best ways to strengthen a marriage.
  • It provides a way to meet other couples for fellowship...and to provide accountability partners. Fellowship, in this context, does';t necessarily mean talkathons about witnessing; rather, its the chance to hang out with someone whose views you can trust, someone with whom you're both implicitly and explicitly comfortable. Same with accountability partners, though their function is to act as your Christian conscience when temptation hits.
  • Going to church together sets an example for younger members of the congregation. Teenagers are surprisingly observant, and almost astonishingly wistful when it comes to marriage...and they are watching. Hold hands in church, walk with your shoulders touching, and you will give young women - and young men - an image of what can be.
But, surprisingly, a lot of Christian couples fall away from regular attendance. Schedules get busy, weekends are the only chance to sleep in, the kids are unruly and rebellious, there are parents and grandparents to be visited...and church falls down the list.

Besides, the Christian community begins at home, right?

Exactly. It begins at home, but it's supposed to extend out into the wider world. The light of faith isn't supposed to be hidden under a basket, and the first step in carrying it openly is...you guessed it - going to church.

It's a two-way street. The Christian influences from your marriage are supposed to flow out into the secular world, and become a living testament to the Gospel.

But it works in reverse, tool the temptations of secular culture are sometimes superficially attractive, and if all you have is a living-room-fireplace-mantle church, you quickly lose the backbone-stiffening consistency of message that you'd otherwise get every Sunday...if you were there.

So, go.

nd make it attractive, if churchgoing seems a bit of a chore. Stop at Starbucks afterward for a treat. Go miniature golfing. Go for a hike. Sure, worship is supposed to be its own reward, but that'snot always the case, so why not give yourself a treat,to mark having done it?

The most important thing, on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, is that you show up.

If you have a chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting the Day with Grace", for a "grace quote"and a mercifully short commentary.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Stay Married For Christmas, Pt. 3 - No Common Ground

Tomorrow is Christmas Day, and expectations in most households are high. Expectations of how things will go, how things will feel...

...and some of these have already fallen by the wayside, unrealized.

One of the biggest problems couples have at this time of year - golly, at any time of year - are expectations that simply don't meet. Like railroad tracks, their lives and hopes and dreams stretch to the horizon, close put always separate.

It's magnified at Christmas, because...well, we're supposed to be close at Christmas. It's the season of renewal, the Birth of Hope.

We naturally apply those images as metaphors for our own lives, for our own marriages. And they are true,but God is not Santa Claus, and He doesn't bring the Instant Marriage Repair Kit and set it under the tree.

It takes work, and Christmas isn't a terrible time to work on it. In fact, the emotion and sentimental ambience can give relationship repair a head start.

To begin the move closer together, start with the Three C's - communication, cooperation, and compromise.

  • Communicate what you hope and expect for Christmas. Don't hold back, don't try to scale your dreams down to what you think is possible. Be honest. You owe that to your spouse - and yourself.
  • Cooperate in bringing your spouse's expectations to fruition. Trust hi or her to do the same with yours, but don;t make this any kind of quid pro quo arrangement. Christmas is also the season of giving...so give, and make the decision not to look at what you may be given in return
  • Compromise on the things that you find difficult in your spouse's "expectation portfolio". If your husband wants you to watch all the football bowl games that run through the holidays with him, and you can;t abide the sport...agree to a set number, the ones that are really important. And as part of the compromise, take the time to learn about the game, and the teams involved...on your own. You may find that i's more interesting than you expected.
The main point in these categories is to be looking outward, putting your mate on the same level of importance that you occupy in your worldview.

It's not that we're "born selfish"; that is not the point. We just have easiest access to what we want, what we think we need, and it takes an act of will to see the world through the eyes of another.

But it's sure worth it.

What about you? Do you have any ideas or suggestions to add?

If you have a moment, please take a moment to stop by at my other blog, "Starting the Day with Grace", for a quotation and a mercifully brief commentary.

And have a WONDERFUL Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Message For Grief - Shove Off!

This is a slight change-of-pace, to link up with Kate Motaung's post today,"Letters To Grief". It's a follow-up to her book of the same name...only 99 cents on Amazon.

So here's my contribution.

Dear Grief,

They say your presence is cleansing, cathartic...a severe mercy that allows the soul to recover from loss, and move forward into a diminished world with the confidence gained from having once had that which has been lost.

Or something.

But there's a problem. Change and loss are a part of life, and grief is thereby sorrow at not being able to hold on to something or someone...the sorrow that attachment does not work.

And it doesn't. We have to let go gracefully, because we can't, under any circumstances, hold on.

That makes you, Grief, something like a second cousin to greed.

Everything in life is loaned to us. Everything will pass in the temporal world.

In the eternal, it all comes back, and we'll see that we never really lost it at all.

So, Grief, why are you here?

To give us the wistful sentimentality that sad songs engender? Are you here to inflict pain that we justify because "it makes us feel alive"?

Perhaps I see you differently now, because I have lived with death at my elbow, and am now close to death myself (or so the doctors say).

I don't need you. I never did, because God saved up everything good. It was never lost.

My wife does not need you. I will be waiting for her. Her life should be full, and you, Grief, have no right to tell her it's diminished.

So, Grief, no offense, but take your sad songs and sentimental slogans and wistful cards, and take a hike.

If you have the chance, won't you drop by my other blog, "Starting the Day with Grace"? It's a quote and short commentary that I hope will bring a touch of light into your marriage and your life.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Adore Like Mongo - Five Minute Friday

And here we are again.

It's Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaung. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

There will be a two week hiatus from Five-Minute Fridays over Christmas and New Years', but I will be here.

Today's word is adore.


The first thing that came to mind was a college anecdote - a young man walked into the library, and from the open door called out to the rather pretty girl at the checkout desk (on whom he had a major crush), "Je t'adore!"

Without looking up, she replied, "Shut it yourself."

Have you ever had one of those moments in your marriage, when you want to make an adoring gesture, and it just falls completely flat?

Road kill?

What do you do?

The worst thing to do is,of course, pull back, and not try that again. The thing is, marriage is all about embarrassment, humiliation, and feeling like an idiot...because you are with someone who recognizes that you can indeed be pretty dumb, and is free to call you on it.

So, what do you do?

Pick up your ego, shake off the dust and gravel, and have another go.

That's what adoration is all about. It's not expecting a specific return.

It's a gift.


Whoa! FOUR minutes!

If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stay Married for Christmas 2 - The Money Pit

Do you hate the January credit-card bills?

If you do, you're sure not alone! A significant part of the US spends far more than they have on any given Christmas, and spends the next year trying to pay back the borrowed excess.

When they succeed, it's time for the cycle to start again, and it's one of the most unpleasant issues that affects marriages.

"HOW much did you spend on presents for your family?"

"Less than you spent on that stupid sculpture for your Mom's office!"

"It's original art! She needed that, he office was too sterile...":

And so it goes. We spend more than we should, and sometimes more than we agreed to spend.

And we hide it, taking off price tags and hoping that when the bills arrive the presents themselves are just a dim memory.

Is this how we have to celebrate the birth of God into poverty?

It shouldn't be, and here are some suggestions on how to spend within your means, and plan Christmas spending together.

Spending within your means isn't hard to achieve, but it does take some concrete steps.

  1. Set a budget, based on your actual income and cash outlow. If you get a Christmas bonus, do NOT include it in your calculation, Keep the bonus.in reserve.
  2. Make a list of people for whom you have to buy something, and set a maximum dollar amount, keeping within your budget.
  3. Don't have your wallet or purse with you when you're on the Internet. Impulse purchases tend to be the ones that get us into trouble, and impulse purchases are so very easy to do from a computer.
  4. Take ownership of your shopping by posting the receipts in a prominent place...like the refrigerator.
  5. If you overspend, admit it, and don't try to justify
Working together to plan Christmas spending takes both commitment and transparency. You have to admit what you plan to spend, and you have to work with your spouse to make it less.

  1. Make a list of presents in order of priority (i.e, children first), and don't make substitutions unless it's absolutely necessary.
  2. With each entry on the list, subtract it from your budgeted Christmas spending, and write down the result.This kind of running tally shows you - accurately - exactly where the money's going.
  3. Practice giving in. If your husband or wife is dead-set on spending more than has been alotted, there is probably a good reason.

It's survivable.

And working together can be fun.

(If you have the chance, please visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Book Well Worth Reading

I rarely do book reviews, but today's an exception. This particular volume moved me deeply, and I hope that you'll consider reading it.

As a straight-up disclosure, I bought this book from Amazon, and liked it so much I decided to review it here.

The book is The Last Zero Fighter, by Dan King. It's the stories of five of the last surviving Japanese naval aviators from the Second World War; but what they tell is not so much of war.

It's really about love, loyalty, and honour.

Mr. King is well-qualified to tell the stories of these men; he spent many years living in Japan, and is fluent in the language and well-versed in Japanese culture and history. He has worked as a consultant on many films dealing with Japanese history, such as The Last Samurai, Windtalkers,  Flags of our Fathers, and Letters from Iwo Jima.

The stories introduce the aviators as they were at the time of the interviews (sadly, several have since passed away), and then drops back in time to let them tell their stories, from childhood through training, to their operational assignments...and the aftermath of a war their country lost.

The first thing you'll find, as a common thread, is love. Love of country, yes, but also love of family, of comrades, and of life itself. We have a Western conception of the Japanese fighting man of WW2 as being a suicidal fanatic, but these fellows - and they are, I think, fairly typical - do not fit that mold.

They wanted to fly. They wanted families. They mourned their fallen friends, and they feared for their country. Making war wasn't up to them, but fighting to the best of their ability was, and that was their path of honour.

Hard questions are not avoided. An officer whose performance bordered on cowardice is pilloried by one of Mr.King's interviewees, who felt that with an officer's rank came the obligation to take a path that would lead to certain death. It was expected.

And one of the aviators, Isamu Miyazaki, spent some time on Wake Island, where 98 American civilian construction workers were captured by the Japanese in late 1941, and kept working on the island. This particular pilot had a dental problem, and was treated by one of the prisoners. Miyazaki liked them, and said they were "a nice bunch of guys".

During King;'s interview, Miyazaki was horrified to learn that none of the prisoners had survived the war. They had been executed in late 1943, when the garrison commander thought the Americans were about to invade.

We share so much with these men, who were our erstwhile enemies.And their stories were nearly lost, but for the efforts of a diligent few who have had the gumption to seek out these elderly, and sometimes reclusive veterans.

To hear them clearly, we have to look at ourselves, and put aside prejudice.

To see their faces, we have to pull the stereotypes from our lenses.

To know them, we have to recognize our common humanity.

And why am i reviewing a book about Japanese naval aviators in a Christian marriage blog?

Simple. We have and obligation to God and to our mates to be better than we are, for them, and for the relationship.

These stories, in The Last Zero Fighter, will inspire you to do just that.

Click here to see the Amazon page.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Prepare To Meet Thy God - Five Minute Friday


It's Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaug. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

For me, it's going to take longer; and I will write less. Still recovering, and it is the best I can do, and I ask your pardon for the awkwardness.

Today's word is prepare.


Prepare to meet God...but if He doesn't show, say hello to your spouse instead.

Same difference.

Before your eyebrows raise so high they get caught in your bangs, remember this - marriage is a sacrament,

That means that functionally,it reflects, or is supposed to reflect your relationship with the Almighty.

So, you're supposed to treat your spouse like you;d treat God. or, to make it a bit more human, there should be no difference in your demeanour if your talking to your husband or wife, and Jesus walks in and sits down at the dinner table.

Scary, eh?

It means that you have to treat your spouse with respect, courtesy, and...reverence.The last is kind of hard to do when faced with morning breath, I know. But according to the rules, the ones in the Bible and the ones we agreed to before our smate, our friends, the community, God, and our in-laws...it's a must. Period. Full stop.

But there's a flip side, and that is that it may redefine how we think we're supposed to see God. Not as a stern authoritarian Judge, not even as Daddy (still an authority), but as an intimate. Someone with whom we can joke around, someone with whom we can be ourselves without fear of judgement.

This is not a God of Our Sunday Best.

This is an Everyday God.


If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stay Married for Christmas, Part 1

Okay, maybe that title is a bit extreme, but Christmas is a time during which a marriage can take some heavy blows.

Ironic, that the season of the Norman rockwell ideal of togetherness can drive couples apart.

This three-part series will offer some suggestion on how to steer your relationship through the Christmas Rapids...and, perhaps, come out stronger and closer.

We'll focus on three areas:

  1. The Dysfunctional Celebration - we all have something of an imprint, of how we hope and expect Christmas will be celebrated....and it always seems to fall short, so we blame (explicitly or implicitly) the closest available person...our husband or wife
  2. The Money Pit - anyone out there who's never overspent on Christmas?
  3. Walking parallel paths - the problem with parallel paths is that, by definition, they never meet.
Today we'll talk about the dysfunctional celebration.

Everything is more beautiful in retrospect, and this applies to the Christmases of our past. As we grow up, and leave our original families, we carry the inspiration - and shackles - of those traditions with us.

This is fine if we're single; we can build a single life as a monument to past traditions, in either a literal or symbolic way, but when we marry...surprise!..we realize that we're together with...or up against...someone with their own set of traditions.

Sometimes the traditions can be slotted together, to stand side by side in harmony, but all too often it becomes a power struggle, often made worse by pressure from parents and in-laws ("You mean you're not going to put up the wreath your little cousin made in Sunday School? It's your husband's fault, isn't it?")

What to do? The solution starts with cooperation, and continues through trust. You have to be willing to tell your spouse what parts of your Christmas traditions mean the most to you, you have to listen to what's important to your mate, and you've got to be able to trust that what you've offered as something of a vulnerability of your soul will be respected, and will be protected.

And then...implement those important traditions. Take up the "cause" of your spouse's traditions, and make sure they come to pass.

Set limits, though, to keep an approximately equal level of influence. Make the individual traditions a part of the celebration, but for the rest, make a deliberate effort to create new traditions.

Your own traditions, as a couple.

You don't have to create them all at once; that's a stress in itself. Instead, go to Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby or wherever, and find something that speaks to both of you. (Find Christmas traditions in a store? Sure, and why not? The context of our lives comes from stores; Wal Mart or Neiman-Marcus, or, a century ago, the Sears Roebuck catalog. There's no shame in this, because it's simply the most convenient way to live, a way that affords the leisure to contemplate at length the deeper meaning of Christmas.)

Maybe it'll be a cooking project.

Maybe it'll be a board game, to be played during Christmas Week.

Maybe you'll choose to go to dinner theater, with a Christmas theme.

The point is to find something that you both like, and that you've never really done, at least not in the Christmas context.

If the in-laws or the parents turn up their noses, well, it;s none of their business, because it's your Christmas. It's time to agree on a united from, and to stay with it.

How do you and your spouse cooperate to share old traditions, and start new ones?

(If you have the chance, please visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!

Friday, December 5, 2014

What We Hold Dear - Five Minute Friday

I am back...sort of. Not quite myself, but I'm going to try. And I am so very, very grateful for the prayers, support, and love I have received.

One day I will write about what happened - traumatic amnesia is a singular event. But I can't do that now.

Instead, once again, it's Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaug. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

But for me, it's going to take longer; and I will write less. It is the best I can do, and I ask your pardon for the awkwardness.

Today's word is dear.


The first thing that came to mind was a fragment of  a poem by Richard Lovelace:

I could love, thee, dear, so much,
loved I not honor more.

We all want romance; no exceptions. Some men try to hide the longing, and some women do, as well.

But there is a price to be able to love fully, and that's loving with honor. Loving when someone is hard to love, believing when faith and trust seem dead, being loyal when you've been repaid by betrayal.

Because you made a promise.

That stuff happens in marriage - all of it.

And honor is not holding onto love, but holding onto the honor of a promise, because that's what we can most closely hold dear.


If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A heavy heart...from Andrew's "sister".

Hello friends and readers of Andrew,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this. With Andrew's wife's permission, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jennifer Major and I'm sort of Andrew's adopted sister.

I'm here today to ask for prayer for Andrew and Barbara.

As most of you know, Andrew faces some significant health challenges. So until he recovers enough to resume his blog, I ask that you leave words of prayer and encouragement for him and Barbara, and pray for them both, as they need it.

My apologies for not going into detail, but suffice it to say, he is not well.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Greatest Gift

Thanksgiving is over, and Black Friday has begun.

Actually, it began yesterday...Thanksgiving Day. Go figure.

I'm not going to vilify Black Friday. A lot of people really enjoy it, and for many, the hopes of a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving dissolve in a wave of snide criticism and bitterness. The mall's an escape. Granted, it would be better to solve the problems and live in harmony, but until then...yeah, the mall can be better.

And what should you buy, for that one-and-only person who chose to marry you, who chose to spend their life with...you?

I have the secret!

Lean in. Closer. We don't want to tell the world, do we?

Oh. Right. We do.

Well, here it is.

Get your mate what he or she asks for.

Requesting a gift is something beyond buying for ourselves. First and foremost, it's an outreach for approval...."this is what I like, and is that OK with you?"

Second, requested gifts are very often an expression of individual hope, a statement that says, "this is what I want to become". Approval plays a big role here, as well..."this is what I want to become, and will you help me?"

Third, a request is an extension of trust, leaving it in your hands to find that which was requested.

All too often, we buy our spouses mirrors, gifts that reflect what we want in life, or what we would like them to be.

I spoke with a man who was utterly shocked that his wife greeted his gift with pained indifference. What did he give her? A clothes-pressing machine.

And the formal, button-down husband who got a half-dozen tie-dyed shirts also got the message..."I want you to change", which he translated to "I don't really like you the way you are".

Maybe he did need to lighten up (he did, actually). But this wasn't the way.

Give the greatest gift you can.


If you have the opportunity, please stop by at my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", for a grace quote - from an unexpected source - and a short commentary. It's at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chosen To Marry

(Next week we'll start on our next series, "The Five Languages of Touch". Today is the day for a Thanksgiving-themed post.)

On this eve of Thanksgiving, it is perhaps a good opportunity to let your mate know how thankful you are for him or her.

You were chosen.

Think of that. You were wanted, above anyone else. Not just anyone else your spouse knew at the time, but all of those they had the future opportunity to meet.

It didn't end there. Your husband or wife has chosen to stay. In this age of drive-through divorces (which did exist in Las Vegas), your mate's chosen to stay.

Not because you're a thoroughly lovely person; no one is, all the time.

Not because he or she is 100% madly in love with you. Marriage tends to cure that.

Not because you're rich as Rockefeller and your spouse can't let go of the lifestyle...ever looked at the divorce statistics of rich celebrities and "beautiful people"?

It's because you were chosen, you're loved, and your mate made a promise.


We hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

(If you have the chance, please visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Zero Tolerance?

Last week a new hashtag emerged...high-school students were taking pictures of their "healthy" but unappetizing school lunches, and Tweeting them with #thanksmichelleobama, a reference to the First Lady's support of increasing the nutritional value of school meals.

While Mrs. Obama is being unfairly pilloried - she doesn't prepare the menus, after all, and we did need to move beyond pizza and doughnuts - the kids have a point. Some of the food looks like dog vomit, and would you eat "Spanish Rice" with no salt?

It's just the latest installment of the "zero tolerance" philosophy that has replaced reasoned thinking since the 1990s. If lunches are not nutritious...make the transition from pizza to bean curd immediately. That sort of decisive action will somehow make up for the years in which Pop-Tartswere considered one of the major food groups. Right?


What it's really about is control; it's a convenient way to wield power cloaked in what seems to be common-sense justification.

Telling kids they can't bring a pistol to school is one thing; telling adults they can't take a pair of fingernail clippers onto an airliner is quite another. One makes sense, because it can marry immature intent with capability; the other is moronic, because fingernail clippers have no capability beyond clipping fingernails.

Is "zero tolerance" common in marriage?

I'm afraid it is. Consider these scenarios, which are disguised as House Rules -

  • No eating or drinking allowed in the car
  • No feet on the furniture
  • Don't touch my tools
  • ...and so on
Again, they seem reasonable within certain contexts, but in terms of  "real life" they are typically put up not only to protect personal boundaries...but to project power.

No food or drink in the car? Sure, it'll keep the upholstery clean, and give the illusion of keeping up the value...but cars lose value over time. Fact. Period.

It's kind of like an Asian observation of Western time-saving techniques..."when they've saved all that time, what will they spend it on?"

The interior may be pristine, but a car with 150,000 miles on it is still old.

Feet on the furniture? I personally don't like it much, but after a hard day, someone - like my wife - just needs to put her feet up in a safe place,where she can relax and watch some television.

But furniture is designed to be used, and if I occasionally overlook B's feet on the sofa, she feels at home,and I have allowed a small bit of grace to pass to her...the grace defined by keeping my mouth shut.

But she should never touch my tools. I would much rather she have to drive into town to get a hammer if she can't find "hers", rather than use mine.

I mean, she might break it.

What zero tolerance in marriage accomplishes is the maintenance of distance. It makes my wife feel not only like a second-class citizen, but one under constant scrutiny. On probation.

Zero tolerance is a prison.

Your thoughts?

In you have the chance,please stop by my other blog, "Starting the Day With Grace" at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Did You Notice Them? - Five Minute Friday

Once again, it's Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaug. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

Today's word is notice.


Did you notice them?

They were in Wal-Mart today - the elderly couple. He was wearing a cap that said "Korean War Veteran",and a windbreaker with a small American flag pinned to one lapel. There was a little Korean flag pinned to the other.

She was in a wheelchair. He was walking straight and tall, and pushing her. She pushed the shopping cart. Quite a sight.

Occasionally he would rest one hand on her thin shoulder, and she would put up her hand to touch his.

Did you see them in the canned-food aisle? He was trying to reach something on the top shelf, when a young, tattooed homie walked past.

The gangbanger stopped, turned, and then took down what the veteran needed. Then he pushed the cart through the store for them. He called the veteran "sir", and called his wife "ma'am".

Did you notice them?

Did it give you hope?


If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Respecting Your Spouse's Dreams - The Seventh Pillar

Today we're at the end of "Seven Pillars of Marital Respect", and it's fitting to conclude the series with a look into the future - the future held in your mate's dreams.

Most of us can assume that we have a relatively long and indefinite time to live stretching out ahead of us. We shape it through our daily actions, but we animate it through our dreams.

Hopes and dreams are what we used from childhood to propel us into tomorrow, to give reassurance that tomorrow would be all right, or much more than "just all right". Our dreams are sometimes what got us over a rough past, and can be the hook from heaven that can help us through a difficult today.

Dreams deserve respect, because they're the most personal and intimate part of a person...often hidden from everyone but God. They lift us up; not only the specific aspiration, but everything. They put a more pleasant and hopeful cast on life,and we all need hope.

Being entrusted with knowledge of your spouse's dream is a high honor.

And yet, it's often trashed. Consider the writer I know, who received some interest in a novel she'd been working on for years. She went to tell her husband about it.

His reply was, "Yeah, I guess it's based on something you read about." And he walked away.

I know the gentleman in question - he's given to offhand, cutting remarks, sometimes without a real desire to hurt.

But this time he did hurt. He devalued his wife's dream, and her enjoyment of the possibility of future success. She doesn't talk about her writing any more. Not to him, not to anyone. I don't know if she still writes.

I don't think the husband meant to do this; I believe he just wasn't interested, and wanted the possibility of having to listen to her description to go away.

Sometimes, the intention is malign, through a basis in fear. Some people feel threatened by a spouse's dreams, worried that they'll be somehow left behind.

Some simply don't want their spouse to achieve something separately, like the wife who kept putting trivial roadblocks in her husband's opportunity to take art classes...his clothes would smell of paint, and how could he justify being away from home one night a week? And what would the neighbors think, with him pursuing such an unmanly activity? Eventually he gave up the idea. I wonder if he might have been a modern-day Monet? We'll never know.

Togetherness is great; but God made us as individuals, and as long as one's hopes don't carry one away from commitment to the marriage, it's wrong to crush them out of fear.

What can you do to support your mate's imagined future?

  • Listen and learn - encourage your husband or wife to share their hopes for their future, without forcing a link to your together future. Make an effort to remember the details, because it's the details of a dream that bring it to life.
  • Contribute - offer to help, but be sure it's an offer you're willing to meet...if you're married to a writer, you may open yourself up to reading endless drafts of a manuscript. (If the writing's really bad, chalk it up tho the "for worse" part of the marriage vow and keep smiling.)
  • Give space - some people, usually men, will get so bullish on the subject of their spouse's dreams that they'll take them over in an effort to ensure success. "I want to do it myself!" isn't just for kids.
  • Celebrate success - understand what the milestones of success are, and celebrate their attainment.
  • Share your own dreams - be willing to be vulnerable, and share that which moves and motivates you
There's clearly a lot more that could be said...how to allocate family finances to support the restoration of that '32 Chevrolet, how to share household duties in a way that allows the writer to write...but their successful negotiation has to come from respect.

Please share - how does your spouse support your dreams? And how do you support theirs?

(If you have the chance, please visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Communication Breakdown

It happens in every marriage - suddenly you and your mate seem to be always at odds, talking at cross purposes...and you know it.

"You're not hearing me!"

"You're not letting me finish!"

"Now you're mad at me"

"You just aren't comprehending!"

Sometimes this is symptomatic of a deeper rift, when a couple has started growing apart. In those cases, counseling is definitely called for. run, don't walk, because if you can't communicate, the drift will only get worse.

But sometimes it's a "Wizard of Oz" paradigm...the lack of communication feels huge, but it's really just the Little Man Behind The Curtain. It's trying to be big and powerful and scary.

The only way it can harm your marriage is if your harm it yourself, in reaction to fear.

Our communication style, both talking and listening, is governed, to a large degree, by our emotions. Emotions are the mot changeable thing about us; a sad song can depress some people for a whole day, and finding a dim on the sidewalk can cause jubilation.

And so it goes with the way we talk to our mates. Generally, it all works out pretty well; they know our ups and downs, highs and lows,and unconsciously make allowances.

But sometimes, like two waves meeting at the peak, our 'bad' corresponds with our mate's 'bad', and we're suddenly talking at cross purposes...and at each others' throats.

How does a minor miscommunication escalate?

Simple. By labeling. If a couple isn't on the same page, saying "we're not getting through to each other right now, let's talk later" defuses the situation.

But when one or the other says,"You never hear me!", it's both an exaggeration, and an accusation.

The label of chronic miscommunication has long legs, and it sill survive far past the time when the original issue is forgotten.

How to avoid it?

  • Banish the words "you always" and "you never" from you speech and thought.
  • When a conversation starts going south, try to end it with the promise to talk later.
  • If the conversation is ended, don't reignite it. Some of the most damaging arguments come from a sharp but short disagreement, ending when one party leaves the room...and the he or she comes back to stir the pot, and it gets far,far worse.
What are your thoughts? How do you avoid letting a temporary breakdown in communication hurt your marriage?

If you have a moment, please visit my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace" at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com for a quote and short commentary on marriage.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Still Here- Five Minute Friday

Once again, it's Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaug. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

Today's word is still.


Today was hell.

I'm dealing with more physical pain, and more just plain fright, than I could ever have imagined possible. To those who have ever been shot, it's like being shot.

To those who have had kidney stones, it's like the mother of all kidney stones.

But wait! There's more! (I've seen too many late-night infomercials.)

Bleeding from various places (and today, for the first time, the nose...yee-ha).

Nausea and vomiting.

And, just to add insult to everything else, incontinence.

But I'm still here.

This life means something. God put me here for a reason, and I'm not going to sabotage His plans by opting out of involvement, or, heaven forbid, opting out of life.

Still here, and they're going to have to come in over the wall to get me.

I have something to contribute. I have kind things to say. I have stray dogs to comfort.

And I am still bloody here, and if the devil doesn't like it, he can go and...treat himself unconventionally.


If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Respecting Your Spouse's Past - The Sixth Pillar

Today we'll talk about respect for what made your husband or wife who they are - their past, and their heritage.

Both are important; and both are subject to deep disrespect in far too many relationships.

Just consider the negative connotation from the expression "having a past"; it's particularly nasty when applied to women, unfortunately.

And for problems with heritage, when was the last time you heard an in-law joke? Not long ago, I'll bet.

Disrespect for either your mate's personal history or their heritage is a not-so-subtle way to disrespect the person. It's also a way to maintain an unhealthy form of control in the relationship.

When you marry, you don't build a life with a person new-spring from the palm of God's hand; you marry a complex web of past relationships, experiences, family, and genealogy. The wedding limousine can get crowded; not to mention the marriage bed.

Let's deal with your spouse's past, first. The approach to showing respect is pretty simple: never bring up anything negative from their past, and never, ever reference current behavior to what you know of their past.

It can take discipline, but it's absolutely necessary. When you bring up "those friends you used to hang out with", you're locking your mate into a past that they can't escape. They may have tried; they may have gone a long way from the irresponsible of younger days.

And when you bring it up, you're negating all the work they did, and saying "you really haven't changed at all".

Based on the past - you've appointed yourself judge and jury, with no hope of appeal.

What you know of your spouse's past, that you don't like...you've got to let it go. That's the beginning and the end of respect.

Respect for heritage is a bit different, because you have to key your respectful attitude to your spouse's view of their family history.

It can be a tightrope walk. Remember the old saying - me against my brother; my brother and I against our cousin; my brother, my cousin and I against the world.

There may be little love lost in your mate's family, but blood can be quite thick, and you're not "of the blood".

That means that your mate may feel fine being extremely critical of "the family"; but you try it and you'll find yourself pilloried,  and wondering what hit you.

By the same token, if you defend the "black sheep" of your spouse's family, you can wind up soundly disliked by everyone - including the black sheep.

The best way to show respect is to be agreeable..and never take any side expect that of your mate, and then only in a supporting role. Never take the initiative in either praise or censure of your mate's family, and make sure that your emotions remain as unengaged as possible.

Respect for your mate's past and heritage can be a challenge, the biggest challenge of all, because it fundamentally requires you to...

...keep your mouth shut, and your opinions to yourself.

(Please don't forget to visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Would You Watch Your Spouse Die?

It's been a bit over a week since Brittany Maynard killed herself. You may remember - she was the young woman diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, who given a terminal prognosis, chose to move to Oregon to take advantage of that state's "death with dignity" law.

It's not for me to criticize her. She was the only one who knew what she was going through, and the only one who, in the end, knew her own mind.

But there are things to say, and questions to ask.

Dying sucks. Having one's world and facilities narrow week by week is discouraging, to say the least. Going from an athletic life to needing help in the toilet...and then to incontinence...well, no one's going to line up for that ride.

The Oregon law (followed by several other states, including my New Mexico) allows an individual with a terminal diagnosis that will result in death in six months to get a prescription from a 'participating' doctor for a lethal drug. Two requests have to be made, fifteen days apart, and the doctor has to be convinced that depression is not driving the rush to death.

So, an overdose of barbiturates. Off gently to sleep, while one is still relatively whole and happy. The Death With Dignity websites paint an appealing picture...you die in your own bed, in the arms of your family, at a time of your own choosing. You have time to say your goodbyes, and you can lay to rest the fear of unmanageable pain and humiliation as the disease progresses.


What of the loved ones? If it's planned, and for 'everyone to be there' it has to be, they have a countdown...three days from now, at this hour, she'll be dead.

They have to wake on the morning of the day, and the hours that they're watching the clock and willing it to go slower will forever be etched in their minds.

They have to know the moment when the beloved has taken the dose, and know that a fuse has been lit. They have to watch the eyelids drop, and hear the speech slur.

And then...please excuse my describing this...they have to watch the body fight for life. The raison d'etre of the law is to allow suicide while the mind is sound and the body is capable, and such a body does not want to die.

Could you put your husband or wife through thaving to witness hat?

What of the doctor? Doctors have to take the Hippocratic oath...above all do no harm.

It has been argued that giving a patient a 'clean' way out does fall under the purview of the oath, that refusal to aid would be harmful.

I can understand this, but it requires some degree of mental sophistry, and undoubtedly a significant paradigm shift for the doctor. At least I hope it would be significant; we don't need more Dr.Kevorkians.

What of the effect on the doctor who writes the prescription? It's like putting a gun into the hand of a person bent on suicide. It's exactly like that.

And what of the pharmacist who fills the prescription...and, perhaps, the high-school student who's running the cash register? How can one compel them to help a person end his or her life, by being the link in the chain that passes along the drugs?

What of society? The flip side of "death with dignity" is that life in desperate pain and decreased function isn't worth living.

Is that the message we want to support, that only the young and the healthy and those not facing a brick-wall future have something to contribute?

Do we turn our backs on those at the doorway to eternity, and shush their voices with a pill and a Happy Talk Death With Dignity Poster?

Thi is already happening, under the new healthcare laws. Care is being rationed, and there are boards set up to decide who's going to get life-saving treatment, and who's going to get pallative care.

Age, not surprisingly, is a big factor in the decision-making process.

If you don't get the best effort to save your life, you'll get hospice.

Or, in the states in which it's legal...your new health insurance will pay for the suicide dose.


There are those who have called Ms. Maynard less than brave. I don't stand with them. I believe that she felt, in good conscience, that she was making the best choice she could. And there, for her, it should rest.

But I do stand against assisted suicide (and it was suicide, by any definition...this is not a place for euphemisms like "self-determination").

I have no quarrel with refusing extraordinary measures, or declining radiation and chemo. That's where I am in my life. We don't have to walk every road we're offered, and there's a huge difference between omission and commission.

Death isn't a scene in a movie, and neither is life. We can't, and shouldn't try to define how it "should" look.

We can only define how we react, when faced with it at last.

In our reaction is the final definition of our humanity, and the capstone of our legacy.

If you have a moment, please visit my other blog, "Starting the Day with Grace" at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and short commentary on grace in married life.



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Where Shalt Thou Turn? - Five Minute Friday

Once again, it's Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaug. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

Today's word is turn.


"To Mecca thou turnest, with burning eyes and lips that sweat, Ah, Hajji, where wilt thou turn, when thou art there, when thou art there?" - James Elroy Flecker, The Golden Journey to Samarkand

Ann Landers once wrote that a marriage isn't two people looking at each other, it;s two people looking together, in the same direction.

Presumably, looking into their future.

But what happens when they reach their their future?

It may be the well-established family, it may be the big house in the country, it may be the secure and active retirement.

All too often things fall apart, because they were focused on the destination.

They were looking forward. But in the end, it;s not looking ahead, or behind. It;s not even enjoying the journey.

The direction to turn is up, because marriage - and life - are hard.

And we need help from on high.

I turn my eyes to the hills, whence cometh Thy help.


If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Respecting Your Mate's Joy - The Fifth Pillar

Originally I was going to call this "Avocational Respect", but it sounded like adenoids.

Avocations are what we choose to do; the hobbies, the causes, the passions that, in many ways, define who we are.

They're often what led us to our spouses in the first place, meeting at a Habitat for Humanity build, or a concert, or at the gym.

In a surprisingly large number of marriages, though, spouses pressure one another to give up exactly those things that brought them together.

Why? Insecurity.

After the wedding, what's seen as an excessive involvement in optional activities is seen as taking away from the attention one is supposed to be getting from one's husband or wife. "Hey! Pay attention to ME!"

And it doesn't take a lot to trip the 'insecurity alert'. How many couples talked for hours about what they read during courtship...but now, "she's always got her nose in a book".

And how many spouses receive passive-aggressive opposition to their endeavours..."I'm delighted that you're writing, dear, but have you remembered that the bathroom needs painting?"

Sure, the bathroom needs a new coat of paint, but when the comment is delivered while one is in the midst of writing, it delivers another message..."why are you wasting time on that stuff?"

It's unfortunate, because the things that motivate us actually make us better spouses. The happy husband or wife brings that happiness to the living room, and to the bedroom...and invites mutuality.

People who are passionate about something want to share.

The best thing you can do, to develop respect for your spouse's avocation, and to communicate that respect, is to listen and learn.

Listen so you can take part in the sharing, and learn so that you can add value to the conversation by asking informed questions.

Nest, make time and space for your husband or wife to pursue their passion. Don't keep pulling them back with reminders of household duties or pointed glances at the clock.

Take care of yourself. Don't be waiting at the door for your wife to come home from her art class, tapping your foot all the while; do something yourself. Going your separate ways in hobbies does not mean your marriage is weak.

It can mean exactly the opposite, that both of you can stand alone, but choose to stand together.

Finally, brag up your mate's accomplishments in their avocation. If your wife's a writer, read her work, and talk about it. Look for the good, and praise it.

We all need that kind of support.

We need someone to help celebrate our joy.

(Please don't forget to visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Just for Fun - 20 Random Things About Me

1. How tall are you?

5'10" , still trying to reach 6'.

2. Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

There are times when my talents ALL seem hidden, and my incompetencies showcased!

3. What is your biggest blog-related pet-peeve?

A blog that looks serious but is just a sales-pitch for a product.

4. What is your biggest non-blog-related pet peeve?

Rudeness and immodesty. There is no excuse for ungentlemanly or unladylike behavior.

5. What's your favorite song?

Linkin Park's "Iridescent"

6. What's your favorite Etsy shop that isn't yours?

What's Etsy?

7. What's your favorite way to spend free time when you're alone?

With a sanctuary for abused Pit Bulls (and friends) I'm NEVER alone. "Dad? I'm hungry!

"Dad? I'm thirsty!"

"Dad? I have to go...oh, never mind." WagWagWag.

8. What's your favorite junk food?

Chocolate is NOT junk food. Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, seem to qualify, and I would eat them only under duress.

Well, bribery would work, too.

9. Do you have a pet or pet(s)? If so, what kind and what are their names?

Uh, yes. Here are two - Josie (rear)and Reebok (as puppies - they are BIG Ridgebacks now). This picture was taken about 20 min after they were pulled from death row at a pound.

Josie likes to be carried. Everywhere. Even though her feet drag on the ground when I carry her.

10. What is your #1 favorite fiction and non-fiction books?

Fiction - ""Round The Bend" by Nevil Shute.  Shute's unforgettable and gentle characters, and his willingness to ask how we see our faith, make for an unforgettable combination.

Nonfiction - "Xin Loi, Viet Nam", by Al Sever. This Viet Nam memoir by a very hard man has a sober, spiritual side that will make anyone stop and think about our place in Eternity.

11. What is your favorite beauty product?

My nickname is Mongo.

I don't do beauty.

12. When were you last embarrassed?

When my wife asked me what my favorite beatitude was, and I answered, "Ringo".

I was SOOO embarrassed! I had confused Ringo with George!

13. If you could drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Lo-Carb Monster Drink. Better than water, better than beer, better than coffee.

14. What's your favorite movie?

"Lone Survivor", hands down. 

I also love "Notting Hill", and would love to be able to channel Hugh Grant. Alas, I am more like Ken Watanabe on a very bad hair day.

15. What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

Enforcer. We had a drug problem, and I decided to deal with it. At 5'10" and 230 lbs (I lifted weights), this was not difficult. The assistant Head was quite surprised one day when I tossed a dealer through a window, and the body didn't hit the frame. He didn't think it was possible.

Being the school 'janitor' gave me a lot of privilege - open campus, and the right to wear the biggest moustache I could grow. Which, for an Asian, isn't much.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Right where I am, on a mesa in New Mexico. Wherever you go, there you are, so why leave?

17. PC or Mac?

PC. A mac is a small and inaccurate submachinegun (Mac-10), designed for...heck, I don't know why the thing was produced in the first place. 

18. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

Well, my wife bought me an air compressor when my old one blew up...does that count?

19. Favorite celebrity?

Can I pick a pastor? Bobby Schuller, for his positive attitude.

20. What blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?

I have so many blogging friends! I would love to meet them all; and I don't want to single one out and leave the others left out.

Your turn! Tell me one random thing about yourself! 

Or more than one!

(And please take a moment, if you can, to visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, where you'll find a quote of grace, and commentary relating it to marriage)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Leaving to Arrive - Five Minue Friday

Once again, it's Five-Minute Friday, hosted by Kate Montaug. The challenge is to write for five minutes on a given "theme word", posted by Kate on Thursday night...and then stop when the timer dings.

Today's word is leave.


A man shall leave his mother, and a woman leave her home, they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one...and there is love...

Remember the song? If not, remember the Bible?

We have to leave our past, and the ties holding us, to arrive at the place we're supposed to be in our marriage.

The ties don;t want to be cut. It seems like they can be maintained, in a sort of compromise...where there's the major portion of your heart for the marriage, but there's a bit left over for the things that supported you and comforted you in the past.


Marriage is a sacrament, which means that it's a model of our relationship with God.

And God wants everything. He's not satisfied with a part of our fidelity. He wants it all, not because he's unreasonable, but because He knows you have to make that commitment to become a citizen of Heaven, and to be buds with the Big Dude.

Same thing with marriage, To be the husband or wife you're supposed to be, the commitment has to be total. Nothing else will do, because it'll end up like an unpainted part of a steel-bodied car.

It's going to rust.

And it's going to be compromised in strength, and can eventually fail.


If you have the chance, please stop by my other blog, "Starting The Day With Grace", at www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Vocational Respect - The Fourth Pillar

Before we start...do you like the blog's New Look?

Today we'll introduce the fourth of seven Pillars of Marital Respect - Vocational Respect.

Almost all of us work in some way. We have to; as Shakespeare said, "if all the years were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work".

Even if we don't need the money, we need the challenge, the bitter fruit of labor that makes the sweetness of rest something to savor, and anticipate. After all, if there were only light, and no shadows, the most beautiful landscapes would be flat and boring.

We also need respect for what we do, and for the sacrifices we make to do it.

How do you respect what your mate does? Simple. Learn about it. Ask questions, and listen to the answers. Celebrate the successes, and commiserate on the bad days.

Be involved, because involvement and engagement are the manifestations of respect.

And what of the sacrifices?

For the spouse in the workforce, it's the long hours and the unpaid overtime and the hard days that result in falling asleep in the soup.It's the cuts and bruises and the insults borne with honor and dignity.

It's the travel.

But what of the spouse who stays home?

We live in a culture that, for all the lip service it pays to raising children well and making an attractive home, still undervalues a stay-at-home spouse and parent. "You wouldn't be able to enjoy this luxury without support, since you're not bringing in the money...you're just spending it."

It's not society's business, really, but people love to judge.

The work is hard. Dealing with kids (and their disrespect) can be more trying that the most psychotic boss.

Keeping up a house that's nice to come home to...well, it doesn't do itself, and in between drinking champagne and eating bon-bons, the stay-at-home spouse generally has to do the washing, the cleaning, the vacuuming, the dusting, the gardening, the bills...and generally tries to get it done before the other partner-in-marriage gets home.

What's a bon-bon, anyway?

And the sacrifice?

For the stay-at-home parent (I almost said "mom" but there are some domestic dads) the sacrifice is being willing to step out of a large part of the world's flow, and attend to what is vital...but often unappreciated.

Being in the workforce makes us part of something, part of something big, and shared, and vibrant. The world makes demands on us, and extends little sympathy.

We thrive in that environment, and we've done something. We've won a small victory, every day.

But what of the parent who stays home?

She's important, but she's a big fish in a very small pond. Her influence doesn't cut across corporate boundaries; it may not even cross the street.

She's given up a sense of belonging in the world, to belong to her family.

She's dropped out of the race, and catching up will be hard.

Meanwhile, at social functions, she has to deal with the faint air of condescension..."Oh, you don't really work.".

How can you respect your stay-at-home spouse?

Help out. At the very least, don't create more work by leaving bathtowels on the floor and dirty dishes in the living room.

Help according to your mate's wishes and needs. If you're asked to help in a certain way...do it that way. Don't decide that you can make things run more smoothly by helping in the way you want to help.

Help in the way you're needed.

Ask questions. Know what's going on, so you can ask more than "how was your day". Ask how the roses are doing. Ask if she (yes, or he1) is tired, and would putting the feet up for a bit be appealing?

Compliment. Notice changes, and say, "thank you". If you left this morning and the hamper was overflowing with dirty clothes...and when you came home the hamper was empty, and the closet racks full...say, "Thanks."

Respect is understanding, and appreciation is expressed thanks...and we need them both.

What about you? How do you show respect for your mate's work?

(Please don't forget to visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!