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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, June 24, 2014

WWF Marriage

This is going to be a short post. It's already in a headlock, and it's going down.

An issue threatened to spiral out of control and imperil my marriage. My wife and I were talking, talking, talking...

And then I stepped forward, took her in my arms, and kissed her. Hard and energetically.

Bent her glasses. She didn't mind.

The issue dissolved.

Marriage is first and foremost physical. It is sweaty sex, and personal smell that should not be masked by deodorant.

Marriage is not a spiritual union of angels.

Marriage is not an intellectual union of professors. (I used to be a professor, and writing that made me want to puke...UGH.)

Marriage is not ballet.

Marriage is wrestling

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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

WHY Did I Marry This Person?

There will come a season in every marriage when we ask ourselves, WHAT was I thinking?

The person we thought we grew to love, and married with hope and joy, is gone, replaced by...something. Something that, if we're honest, we can't say we even like, much less love.

This is past the "I don't like you but I still love you" stage.

This is bad. Really, really bad.

Or at least it seems so.

The fact is that people change over time, and in marriage we only see changes that too place within the context and timeline of our relationship. We didn't see what happened prior to that, and what we may have been told can never accurately convey what really happened.

Your spouse is not only different from the person that arrived to share life with you - he or she was different then from what existed a few years before.

So what made you think that marriage was static?

And what made you think that it might have been you that changed?

We like to think that we're just like we were at eighteen or thirty or whatever, but obviously, we're not.

But we still'sort of' think we are, because we have access to the continuum of events and growth that turned us into who we are today.

Maybe we've got insight and understanding, maybe we don't...but we still can see a chain of causality.

We may not be able to see that in our spouse.

But we have to trust that it's there, and we have to care, because regardless of the difficulty of the day...

Marriage is a promise.

For better.

And for worse.

And for standing in the gap to help make the worse...better.

By supporting the one we promised to love, and by changing ourselves.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Be the We

When was the last time you went for a walk around your neighborhood with your mate?

When was the last time you saw another couple out walking?

With so many demands on our time, from childrens' activities to Facebook to Downton Abbey, going for a walk has gone by the wayside for most people.

It's a pity, because shoe leather on pavement is one of the best ways to get a real sense for where you live, and walking hand in hand is one of the best ways to reconnect with the person to whom you're married.

Together, it's a dynamite combination.

We were designed to be social, and to have a sense of community. Even if you were part of the "out-group" in high-school, you probably did have a sense of identification with a group.

When you married, you probably didn't approach it as an arrangement of convenience, with an exchange of cooking, and cleaning services for mutual security, and the obligation of procreation.

You did it to create, first and foremost, a community of two.

And when you looked for a place to live, you probably stood on the front lawn or the sidewalk (or, in New Mexico, among the tumbleweeds), and tried to get a sense of place, of what the neighborhood was like.

And I'll bet that was the most attention you've paid to the neighborhood since.

We make friends in church, at work, and through meeting the parents of our kids' friends. They live in other places, and we have cars. We can scoot down our home streets to our new community elsewhere.

We have social media, a virtual community of people we may never meet...people that we know better than our next-door neighbors.Many of us would not recognize our neighbors if we met them at Wal-Mart.

Maybe it's time to turn around, and start back, hand-in-hand, toward making our neighborhood feel like home. To walk the sidewalks or grass verges or dirt paths on a summer evening, smelling dinner cooking, hearing snatches of conversation from a patio or porch.

Hand in hand, or arm in arm, to make our community of two a symbolic part of the larger community in which we live. Share knowledge of the people you know, or of their houses, or of their cars or pets. Build that feeling of familiarity, shared between the two of you.

And say hello to the people you may see. Call to them on their porches, walk a few steps up their driveway to greet them in their garage. Say, "Hi!, "We're the..."

This is who we are.

We are part of the neighborhood. We are together, and a part of this living community.

Be the we.

Do you walk out in your neighborhood with your spouse?

Monday, June 16, 2014

The End of Sex

We're supposed to be able to enjoy sex throughout our marriages. The physical relationship is one of the three 'legs' - physical, emotional, and spiritual - which keep the relationship stable.

It's also ordained by the Almighty. Pulling away from our spouse physically is expressly frowned upon, with the exception of mutually agreed periods for prayer and fasting.

And yet...it's been estimated that sex has gone missing for nearly half of married couples over the age of forty, and for a significant number of couples in their twenties and thirties as well.

What's happened? How can one of the biggest attractions during courtship, the promise of physical intimacy, be so easily discarded?

And at what cost?

There are a number of reasons why sexuality in marriage is abandoned- here's a sampling.

Illness - this may be a valid reason to avoid intercourse, especially if it causes pain to one of the partners, or medications make participation either impossible or exhausting. But it doesn't leave an excuse for turning away from other forms of intimacy that may not end in oragsm.

Yes, guys, this means cuddling. Illness does some pretty awful things to a woman's self esteem and self-image, and if you just hold her, and make it clear that you're enjoying holding her, you'll do wonders for her morale.

As she may one day do wonders for yours, if prostate problems put an end to your 'abilities. It happens.

No time / Too tired - this is the famous one that features into nearly every stand-up comedian's routine. It's tempting to dismiss it as a dodge, but really...life can be pretty exhausting, and it takes mutual intentionality to overcome this barrier.

The problem is that when it's seen - wrongly - as a dodge, egos get bruised. "He / she doesn't really want me, and it's an excuse!" Instead of talking about it, the 'rejected' partner sulks. And just how sexually attractive is a whiny, sulking mate? Not very, and the problem perpetuates itself through avoidance.

Boredom - There have been dozens of books written about the best techniques and positions and mood-setting devices that will take the boredom out of your sex life.

Throw 'em away. Sex in your marriage is not about thrills or novelty. It's about your partner. It's about comfort, and love, and closeness, and breathing the same air.

Performance issues - the rising tide of pornographic imagery and themes in literature, movies, and television make sex something of an Olympic event, and if we don't "get the gold" we feel somehow...cheated. or we feel inadequate.

Both are killers of intimacy. Marital sex is not supposed to be performance based. It's supposed to be a sharing of bodies and hearts in a very vulnerable way - yes, the n-word. N-a-k-e-d.

And it doesn't have to end in orgasm, for either husband or wife.

Criticism - criticizing a spouse for what he or she does in your intimate relationship can end said relationship, just like that. (I'm not talking about the husband who starts getting vile ideas from the Internet - that, yeah, criticize, because it's dead wrong, and a form of infidelity...he had to get those ideas somewhere.)

No, this is more about criticism of technique or timing. You can still hint..."I love it when you do that", but saying "Don't do that, I don't like it!" puts your partner on the defensive.

Marital sex has no place for offense or defense. It's about mutuality, and criticism "takes the high ground", in preparation for a battle that should never be fought.

What happens when sex is banished from a marriage? Bad things.

For both women and men, non-exercise of the libido results in its diminution - if you don't use it, you lose it. (Yes, ladies, it does work this way for men, too.)

When libido starts to go away, it's mentally 'discounted', as being somehow beneath one's dignity. Stay away from the bedroom long enough, and you won't know how to imagine going back.

Abandoning sex also diminishes closeness. Couples will avoid hugs that seem 'too intimate', and will soon be giving each other A-frame embraces, with contact only at the shoulders. Or worse...pats on the back.

Wow. Patting your spouse on the back instead of hugging him or her. Really? Yes. Really.

And as physical closeness goes, emotional closeness can follow. We need contact. We're not ethereal being whose hearts are sufficiently stirred by love poetry. We're not made that way.

Experiments have been done on monkeys. Take a baby monkey away from all contact, just give it food and medication and all it needs to survive, and what does it do? It dies.

They repeated that experiment in Romania, under the Communists, in orphanages. A lot of babies died, and a lot more grew up as psychopaths.

We need each other.

As husbands and wives, we need each other sexually.

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.

Seven Deadly Marriage Sins

When we think of marital infidelity, we usually think of the physical 'affair' first. If pressed, we'll add emotional infidelity, which has come to fairly recent prominence.

But did you know that there are a number of additional ways to be unfaithful to the vows one took on that sacramental day?

Remember, we're supposed to forsake all others. And so often, we don't.

So, here we go. How to be unfaithful, and break your mate's heart.

Physical Infidelity - this needs no introduction, and it's almost always a marriage killer. Everyone involved in a physical affair thinks that they're somehow different, that the quality of their 'love' raises them above the tawdry sludge of base disloyalty. The reality is that people who divorce their spouse and marry their 'lover' are far more likely to go through another divorce...I mean, planning a life of faithful wedded bliss with someone who's willing to either betray their own spouse, or help abet another betrayal isn't exactly smart.

Emotional Infidelity - this has become 'popular' in recent years, with increased freedom of movement and freedom of communication. If anything, it's even more prone to the "but this is different" excuse, because "nothing is happening". Nothing, that is, except that the affection that is supposed to be directed at one's mate is being freely given to another. And contrary to pop psychology, we don't have an unlimited amount of love to give. Love takes effort, it takes intentionality, it takes energy. To dissipate it through meetings at Starbucks or online flirtations is theft from the person to whom you promised that effort.

Vocational Infidelity - in other words, 'married to the job'. The excuse for this one is "I've got to provide a living, or a standard of living, or 'good stuff'!" Sometimes, survival does trump all, but more often the job becomes a refuge for a n ego that can't face an intimate life with another human being. Men, in particular, feeling threatened by the humanity and physicality of their wives, will  retreat into a synthetic persona that's defined by the job, and becomes increasingly remote from the emotional - and, yes, the physical aspects of marriage.

Avocational Infidelity - ever hear of golf widows? This is closely related to being married to the job, without the convenient excuse of perceived necessity. Avocational infidelity usually includes same-sex friends - the golfing buddies, the bowling league, the hunting pals. Here, identification with a recreational group is more important, and less threatening, than the marriage.

Familial Infidelity - blood is thicker than water, maybe....it's also very corrosive, and can dissolve a marriage in short order. A man is supposed to leave his mother, and a woman her home, to cleave unto one another. No looking back. It doesn't matter that "They're my family!" They have been replaced by your spouse. Period. End of argument. And the same applies to the"high, holy" practice of putting the kiddos first. You're not supposed to do that. Children should learn about love and adulthood by watching the devotion of their parents to one another, and not by watching one or both parents become devoted slaves to their childish whims.

Intellectual Infidelity - this is the sneaky one, in which one spouse 'outgrows' the other, and adopts a distancing contempt for the 'lower' intellectual level of the person they once loved. It's summed up in the words of a very wise marriage counselor - "You can't divorce a man because he says 'have went'."

Spiritual Infidelity - and now we come to the worst, the kind of infidelity that uses God as an excuse. Paul said that a couple can refrain from sex for a short time, to engage in prayer and fasting...but that very specific separation is supposed to be limited. There is no latitude for saying that "God is more important than you are, so I;m going to ignore you". If you want to be an ascetic, do it on your own time and with your solitary life, before you're married. The Mother Superior in The Sound of Music got it right when she said that "the convent is not a refuge" for Maris to hide from her love for Captain von Trapp.

All of these are, in one way or another, a 'walk to the brink', and their basic evil is that they weaken the bonds of affection and loyalty to allow the eventual development of overt physical infidelity.

It's a lot easier to betray a person physically when you've been disloyal to them in other ways for years.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Jesus, Your Husband, and the Man Cave

Men and women are different.

Society has swung wildly between two extremes on this issue - until the Second World War and the advent of Rosie the Riveter (who also drove tanks, and both tested and delivered high performance airplanes), women were treated with condescension that assumed they weren't far past infantile.

The generation of women who helped win the war didn't return easily to their former roles and subservience, and so began a societal adventure that shows little sign of ending soon.

In the 60s and 70s, a huge number of pop psychology books were inflicted on us, with the explicit message that there was not only complete equality in every respect, bit women didn't need men. (It was never stated that men didn't need women. perhaps the idiocy of such a statement was self-evident, even then.)

Women were supposed to become masculine, and men were supposed to explore their feminine side.

Well, that didn't last long. Guys were intimidated by women who tried to be men, and women were repelled by men who could  'let their inner child cry'.  It's a wonder that the birth rate didn't plummet.

And now, there's an uneasy sort of truce. Women are feminine again, and in ladylike manner they fly attack helicopters and work as astronauts.

Men are masculine, and they...well, they have Man Caves. Places where they can retreat to "be guys", and preserve some of their innate masculine nature.

Or is it all posturing, an excuse for men to act like adolescents with the justification of psychologists?

The idea of celebrating masculinity was boosted through the 90s, with the publications of books like Wild at Heart, Fire in the Belly, and Iron John.

All of these pointed to a visceral 'wildness' that is supposed to be part of the genetic baggage of the male, the qualities that make men hunters and warriors in the right circumstances.

That's the problem - in the right circumstances.

In suburban America there's little calling for warriors, in the literal and physical sense. (The need for moral and spiritual courage is obvious, but it's fundamentally different from a readiness to go out and cleave an enemy's head with an axe. There's a limit to "analogous".)

And yet, that is exactly what the "re-masculinization" movement is reaching for. The drumming in the woods, the chanting, the man-cave...they're all designed to exert a pull toward an ideal of manhood that is really not a part of daily life for the vast majority of men.

It's creating a need that can't be met.

And when there's a need that can't be met, people tend to create circumstances to make up for it, either in action or, more often, in attitude.

And here's where many man today develop a disconnect with their wives and families. They know that Christ calls them to a position of leadership, but the psuedo-spiritual arguments for the "ancient warrior" pull them to a darker part of the soul, from which they try to lead through intimidation of heavy-handed authoritarianism.

What they miss is that Christ calls them to authority and leadership in His likeness.

Not running through the woods banging a skin drum, nor chanting around the campfire.

Christ was a favorite of kids ("let them come to me, and do not hinder them, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven").

He liked and respected women ("Mary has chosen the best part.").

He didn't believe in brandishing weapons as a way of gaining self-respect ("He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.")

Christ didn't have to declare Himself to be a man. He didn't need to do fist-bumps, or arm-wrestle to establish an Apolostolic pecking order. One would assume He didn't need tattoos, either.

He was all man, and simply lived it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Ladies, this is a post you might want your husbands to read. Men can be pretty perceptive, but this is one area in which they tend to be clueless.

The question - "Honey, does this make me look fat?"

When a typical man hears this, a number of things run through his mind (no jokes about there being lots of room in there, please)

  • Don't you know how to use a mirror?
  • You've put on weight, so anything makes you look...well...
  • We're not in our twenties any more, so why does it really matter?
And so on, until he gets distr...oh, look, squirrel!

There is only one correct answer:


But why? Why does it matter if a particular garment makes your wife look fat?

And wouldn't she have seen that when she bought it, looking in the store's triple-mirrors?

Wouldn't she have felt it? (Though when men feel their belly drooping over their belt, they figure...wow, my pants must have shrunk, and so did my belt.)

The answer is, of course she looked at the outfit in the mirror.

Of course she cataloged, mentally, how it felt.

Of course she knows how much she weighs. If she's a size 1, she knows it. If she's a 16, believe me, she knows that, too.

None of this matters, guys.

Your opinion does.

Fat is a word that, in our society, is synonymous with unattractive.

What your wife is asking is - "Do you still find me attractive? Do I make your heart beat faster? Do you want to hold me, kiss me, love me?"

"Do you still want me?"

This is a plea. This is a question that's born in an insecurity, and grown in a hothouse of fear, one that our society, with its anorexic eighteen-year-old swimsuit models, profits in perpetuating.

"Do you still want me?"

Will you pass up your secretary, will you leave the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue on the newsstand shelf, will you stay away from 'those' websites...

Can I still hold you?

"Do you still want me?"

For any real man, there is only one answer.

"No. You look great!"

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.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lies and Marriage

Liars don't go to Heaven. The Bible's pretty clear about that.

We'd like to think we're pretty honest. We don't cheat on our taxes, we return extra change at the supermarket (remember paying with cash?), we don't move the golf ball for a better lie even when there's no one around to see.

Okay, two out of three...

And then we come to the acid test.


The dynamics of a building a relationship and a life in constant proximity to someone we probably met in adulthood is taxing in many, many ways, and perhaps nowhere more than in our definition of ourselves as honest.

In no other human relationship are we nearly as accountable as we are to our spouse. The money that we spend comes out of the common pot.

The reputation we build in the community reflects on our spouse nearly as much as it does on us.

And a spouse's good opinion can make life heaven...just as a bad one can make it hell.

The whole mix is a threat to truth, because we want to project the best possible face to the person to whim we're married.

Think it's ridiculous, that your mate knows you, warts and all?

OK, when did you last mention something really stupid you did at work, compared to something bright?

Have you bought something you knew you should have passed up, and then looked for a way to hide it directly, or at least conceal it among other purchases?

And - for guys. when you went to the beach, and your wife caught you looking at a twenty-something in a bikini, and asked what you were looking at...did you say, "Nothing"? (Husbands typically don;'t notice who their wives might be eying at the beach,m because their eyes are on...well, never mind.)

Marriage can batter honesty into something approaching insensibility, a state in which white lies and half-truths can appear to be equivalent of a speech by Abe Lincoln, because we know what lies we could have told...and what we've done in the past.

So how can we be better than this? How can we carry the Christian life we can easily project with strangers and colleagues and friends into the crucible of home and hearth?

It's easy, and it's hard.

The easy part is identifying what we have to do, or more accurately, we have have to not do.

We simply have to avoid any occasion that would tempt us into a lie. This means no looking at the girls on the beach (or in 'those' magazines, or the Internet).

It means not buying things that go against the budget agreements you and your mate have.

It means answering direct questions honestly, and trusting our reputation with the person we've married.

That's the easy part.

The hard part is that we have to walk the Christian walk 24/7. We're told to 'put on' Christ as we walk in the world.

We don't get to take Him off when we get home.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Spouse Replacement - Don't Do THIS!

On Wednesday we talked about the grace that we sometimes have to extend, and accept, when we choose not to walk alone after burying a beloved spouse.

Please note that five letter word...after.

When your mate is in the death spiral of a terminal illness, you're caught in a cruel dichotomy. You live in a world that goes on, with businesslike good humor, and yet always at your elbow is the end of earthly life for the person you're closest to.

You have to go to work, and listen to colleagues complaining about the price of lattes...

...and then you have to go home and clean up blood and worse. (That's assuming you're not doing a vigil in a hospital.)

The two halves of life are hard to square, and some people have more trouble than others.

They start looking beyond that dark event horizon, for the new life that they'll have to walk.

And they start looking for someone to walk it with.

To a degree, I'm sympathetic. It's hard to remain in the moment of dying when you will survive it. In a way it may be the harder position to occupy. Dying's easy.

But the sympathy doesn't go far, because there are few crueler fates than to be trapped in a failing body, seeing the days unwind and seeing one's life without one's presence...and seeing a spouse making plans...let's be blunt...for one's replacement.

Excuses are tendered. "I don't know how to go on alone!"

"Do you want me to miss this chance at the love that will help me survive?"

And so on. I'd list more but it's getting nauseating.

Nauseating because marriage involves a promise. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.

There's nothing about true love, or not being able to cope. I guess we're supposed to suck it up and deal with it.

Deal with it, if only because of this-

One day it may be you in the position of thinking you'd better hurry up and die, because you're in the future's way.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Spouse Replacement

Sorry  about the title.I'd originally started with something like "When Is It Appropriate To Look For A New Mate After Your Previous Mate Has Died?"

But that's a bit long, kind of like a chapter heading for a Victorian novel.

Still, it's an important question, involving loneliness, guilt, desire, family dynamics, and a host of other factors that can make that particular transition a very rough passage.

Or it can be a blessing, a doorway onto a joyous part of life.

Death of a spouse is the top stress-producing 'event' in life. It's an earthquake, a tidal wave, a forest fire, a mugging.

When it happens fast, it leaves you breathless, disoriented, and fighting for some sort of cohesion, some kind of security.

When it happens slowly, it grinds joy out of life with each granite-bound minute. It takes the colors from the sky(the Rolling Stones' song "Paint It Black" deals with this topic in a touching way...whatever you think of the band, give the song a listen here).

And life has to go on. The survivor has to move forward. 'Dying of a broken heart' is a nice poetic conceit, but it usually doesn't happen...and would your husband or wife want you to die because you can't live without them?

What kind of legacy is that?

Some of us - myself included - would never consider remarriage, and would look at bereavement as a sort of lifetime hermitage.

But not everyone's a closet ascetic. There are "people who need people", and they wilt in solitude.

(Aside from that, my doctor says I'm dying, and I really don't want my wife to wear black for the next 30 years.It's just not part of her color wheel.)

The Bible sets a mourning period of forty days. Life resumes after that. But try selling that to your family and your in-laws! You'll be accused of disloyalty to a memory, and whoever you may start seeing will likely be ostracized. (Interesting how we follow the Bible when it suits us, but it's 'from another time and culture' when it doesn't mesh with our sentimental nature, but I digress.)

One of the arguments against a quick assuagement of loneliness is rebound. I hate to say this, but every new relationship, no matter how long it waits after the end of a previous one, is taken on the rebound. To assume that life goes back to 'normal' after death is unrealistic. Death of a spouse is a traumatic amputation of the soul.

You have to go on.

Your children may want your life to become a living monument to a lost parent. They, as adults, may want to be able to visit 'home' and be able to visualize things just as they were.

You don't owe them that.

You may feel guilty, having emotions for another person when the smiling portrait of your dead mate is looking down from the wall.

Don't make your life sad and lonely, and pin it on your lost marriage...doing that merely denies every good thing you had, and is a slap in the face to the loved and lost.

The measure of the truth and honesty of love is this -

Will the love we gave bestow upon our mate the courage and hope to reach out again, after we're gone?

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.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Question You Must Never Ask

There's one question you should never, ever ask your spouse.

Is it about how you compare with  their previous relationships? Nope.

Previously unmentioned children from a previous relationship? Uh-uh. (This actually happened to me - a woman I was dating claimed to have one child, and then...months later...acknowledged the existence of a second one. Weird.)

How about online shopping? Nah.

Here it is...

If you had it to do over, would you marry me again?

On the face of it, if we have reasonably healthy marriages, it seems pretty innocuous. At its best, it represents an unspoken "I'm glad we're married, aren't you?".

At its worst, it's a plea for reassurance, and we all need reassurance sometimes, that our contributions to another's life have been worthwhile.

That our love has been worth the trip.

So, why not ask? There are some pretty good reasons...

  • The question can come across as 'weak'. Some people need strength from their partner, more than they need honest vulnerability, and by asking you can erode a basis of confidence...their confidence in your self-confidence. This isn't the mark of a bad marriage, or a red flag that your mate is hopelessly shallow - but we're all human, and do we really need to probe our mate for their own weaknesses?
  • You may force your mate into a dishonest answer. We don't always look back on our marriages with unalloyed joy, and there are moments in every marriage when it can feel like it wasn't worth the trip. If you ask "the question" at one of these moments...you may get a "yes, of course", but it may be, in that moment, a lie. The Ten Commandments say we shouldn't lie; and by extension there is a problem in eliciting a lie from others.
  • Your mate may hesitate too long before answering - and that hesitation can cost you dearly, because the natural reaction is to assume the worst, that the answer's really No but they're saying Yes, and trying to work up to being convincing.
  • Your mate may avoid the question - which will come across as a No.
  • And, finally, you may really hear a No.
This question cuts to the very core of our own self-worth - if we have the slightest thought that our company really wasn't worthwhile, the feelings of loss and devastation are immense.

And they don't go away. You can't go back and un-ask the question, nor can you forget the answer you got - or that you assumed you got.

It's kind of like a medical checkup. You go to the doctor, and you can come out 'fine', or 'sick'. You ask this question, and the best you can get is a confirmation of an assumed status quo.

Why not continue to live in the assumption, and don't ask? Your spouse is still there, right? Still talking to you, still sleeping in the same bed? Still laughing - or smiling...well, or groaning - at your jokes?

Why not go on that evidence?

Accept the love that's given, return it with all your strength, and leave the analysis to people who write books...or blogs...on marriage.