Tag Archives: marriage

Marriage Advice 2

I realized today that on that monumental date in a young-ish marriage–our 10th anniversary–I made no mention of our marriage or anniversary or anything of the kind. I forgive myself because at the time (in Canada) I was probably asleep and at the time (locally–that is, in England) I was on an adventure with my wife in Bath.

I also recalled writing, on our 8th anniversary, a post with 8 points of marital advice. I still stand by that advice. However, I want to highlight one point and add another very important one that I hadn’t mentioned there.

First, forgiveness. I can’t stress this enough. Forgive your spouse daily, because, quite frankly, you will probably need to be forgiven more often than your spouse. But also because without forgiveness bitterness takes route, and bitterness won’t take your marriage to good places.  I say it again: I can’t stress forgiveness enough.

Secondly, I neglected to mention one thing in my original marriage advice post: humility. Swallow that pride. Your pride is not worth your marriage. What am I talking about? I am not talking about swallowing your pride in terms of your basic worth as a human being created in the image of God. That is, I am not suggesting you swallow your pride and, for example, just accept spousal abuse.  I am suggesting, rather, that you swallow your pride in terms of disagreements and tensions with your spouse.

  • when you are angry about something don’t hang onto it no matter how right you are (“righteous pride”, perhaps?). This doesn’t mean that you have to say, “You’re right,” but that you have to be willing to communicate in a healthy way in spite of what you see as your clear “rightness”. Plus, even if you are right, your actions (verbal or otherwise) may not be.
  • When are angry about something and realize that you are wrong, admit it. Don’t stay angry or continue on a pretense of correctness simply because admitting that you are wrong is embarrassing. Same thing goes for when you’re angry and you realize that it’s a silly thing to be angry about.

Conversely, don’t get angry and defensive when your spouse critiques your character or criticizes you. They may be wrong and their comments may be unjustified. Then again, they may be right–or at the very least, they might be partially right. Whatever the case may be, anger and defensiveness closes the ears and shuts down your capacity to reason. When emotion takes the wheel in this context, it doesn’t take you down any better roads than bitterness will. If you get angry and/or defensive, you will not hear what you may well need to hear, even if it is only a grain of truth.

Two Sundays ago there was some tension in our home in the morning (not uncommon on Sundays), because my scheduled departure time in order to get to church more or less on time (“on time” is not an exact measurement at our church) was once again way overshot. Once we were in the van, Dixie made the comment, “I think you’re the angriest person in the family.”

I was incredulous. “What do you mean I’m the angriest!? On what basis do you make this assertion?!” But, for once, I managed to swallow my pride (perhaps after a period of time) and reflect on what she said, instead of rationalizing and arguing to restore my character in her mind (having written that, it seems even sillier). She had touched a nerve. I pride myself on my “even keel”–I take most things as they come and it generally takes quite a lot to make me angry.

Whether or not she is right about my anger ranking within the family, she was at least right in the sense that my “even-keeledness” seems be weaker at home. (I’ve mentioned before that having children, as much as it is a joy, delight and blessing, has also brought out a dark side in me that I had not previously been aware of.) And the truth is, I do lack patience at home, and of late I have been raising my voice more often. Dixie’s words, as much as they hurt my pride, brought me to reality.

So, swallow your pride, folks. Your spouse in many ways knows you better than you know yourself. At least, your spouse will see things in you that you are unable or unwilling to see. Insofar as marriage is a relationship for each other, one way your spouse is for you is by being honest about the things that he or she sees in you such that you can become a better person (and, I suggest, even vindictive criticism can be turned into something positive).

(I’d better write something more directly theological–though marriage is theological–lest this blog become Dear Abby.)

Matchmaker, unawares.

Yesterday Dixie and I were reminiscing about some of the people we knew in our university days.  One gentleman comes up every time we have this conversation, and we always wonder where he is and what he’s up to.  For you see, he is responsible for our marriage.

In my first year of university (University of Regina) I lived alone in a basement suite.  I had one or two high school friends who lived in the city, but we did not connect much.  Growing up in the small town and Christian bubble that is Caronport, I was unfamiliar with the ways of the world–was shy and reluctant to venture out to university functions or to local pubs.  The simple fact is that I didn’t know how to relate to people who were not Christians–I was, in fact, intimidated by them.

It just so happened that within a couple of weeks of the school year starting, the campus group, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), was meeting at a house around the corner from where I was living, so I thought I’d check it out.  I’ll be frank about my first impression: these were not my kind of a people: sci-fi geeks, nerds and people singing along to VeggieTales soundtracks.  My friendships had historically been in an undefinable category that was neither jock, nor geek/nerd, nor intellectual, nor VeggieTales singing.  Don’t get me wrong: eventually I befriended many of those people (and I may have fallen into some of those categories without being aware of it), but at that first meeting I didn’t think I would return.  Actually, I regretted coming in the first place and wanted to get out of there.*

Except for one thing: Rob Sentis, IVCF President. Rob Sentis was a charismatic guy: friendly, welcoming, intelligent and somehow able to transcend all those categories to which I thought I could not relate.  If it wasn’t for Rob, I probably would not have gone to another IVCF meeting.

And the same was true for Dixie.  She was not at that meeting around the corner from my basement suite (we debate to this day just when it was that we met for the first time).  She had attended another IVCF meeting and had the same feelings about the group and Rob as I did.

So you see, if it hadn’t been for Rob Sentis, neither Dixie or I would have gone to subsequent IVCF meetings.  And if we hadn’t gone to subsequent IVCF meetings, Dixie and I would have never met each other.  And if Dixie and I had never met each other…well, you get the point.

And so, Rob Sentis, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing, we salute you.  We owe you our marriage.

_____________________________________________

*In the end, Dixie and I both became involved in IVCF at a leadership level and befriended many of the people there.  They became our social group, in spite of the differences we may have had.  Two of the guys who attended became my roommates.  And I maintain a friendship with one of them. So you might say that that friendship is also due to Rob Sentis.

Oh, Archie.

I woke up this morning to a shocking news story (and not just because the word “shocker” is in the headline):

Archie shocker: Comic book hero picks Veronica

In what’s being billed the “Archie Story of the Century,” perennially indecisive loverboy Archie Andrews has finally chosen the raven-haired Veronica Lodge over sunny girl-next-door Betty Cooper, according to the official Archie Comics website.

“Could it be true? Has Archie finally decided to take the plunge and propose to comics’ favourite rich girl? It sure looks that way!” read a note posted online Wednesday.

The posting is accompanied by a comic book cover featuring Archie, on one knee, offering a ring up to Veronica, depicted saying “Yes!” A teary Betty and shocked Jughead — Archie’s best friend — look on.

The storyline will span a six-part series, beginning with the comic’s issue number 600, Archie Marries Veronica Part 1: The Proposal, set to hit comic shops Aug. 19 and newsstands on Sept. 1, according to the post.  (CBC.ca – link)

This is, of course, a marketing gimmick to boost sales.  Show me a teenager who still buys and reads Archie Double Digests in these tough economic times ever.  But still: Veronica?

Questions arise:

  • Will Veronica’s father even allow this?  Has his opinion of Archie changed?  Or will his elitism and high society snobbery win the day?
  • Why Veronica?  She has never treated Archie well.  Is he blind?
  • Doesn’t Archie see that Betty has not only outer beauty–and natural outer beauty at that–but is also beautiful on the inside?
  • Why Veronica?
  • Will Reggie manage to sabotage the nuptials?  Or (more likely) will Veronica dump Archie at the altar (for Reggie)?
  • Why Veronica?

I’ve always been of the opinion that Betty is the better choice for Archie.  Whereas Veronica is high maintenance, Betty is down-to-earth and natural; whereas Veronica is at heart a snobby rich girl, Betty is a good samaritan; whereas Veronica has some deep-seated psychological issues she tries to placate or ignore by living a life of materialism and (non-sexual) promiscuity, Betty is balanced and devoted.

Also, Betty is more beautiful.

Need I go on?

I twittered my opinion upon reading the news: “Apparently Archie finally chooses Veronica over Betty. If this is true, he has absolutely chosen wrong. I hope their marriage survives.”  Scott (Twitter) concurred in a comment to my Facebook status (fed by Twitter–what a tangled web we weave!) saying, “I agree… a women who can rebuild an engine is a far better catch than a girl with money…”

However, Ky tweeted back with an interesting take: “I always wanted him to choose [Veronica] because I thought Betty deserved better.” Her point being that while Betty may be the better choice between the two girls, Archie may not be the best boy for Betty. (It does beg the question, though, which Riverdale boy would be good enough for Betty?  Certainly not Reggie.  Jughead?  Moose?  Mr. Weatherby? Who?)

I’d never thought of it this way before.  As an adolescent, it was always about which is the best girl of the two.  I always thought Betty was the prettiest and nicest and thought Archie was an idiot for chasing Veronica all the time (sometimes standing up Betty in the process).  I had never considered whether Archie, whom the CBC.ca article hyperbolously and oxymoronically calls a “hero”, is good for Betty.  And maybe he isn’t.  Archie is a fool for choosing Veronica over Betty, but maybe Betty is the fool for adoring Archie.

Maybe Betty is too good for any man, other than the generations of adolescent boys who’ve been following her, protecting her, wanting and wishing the best for her.

Maybe Archie choosing Veronica is the best thing for Betty, if not for Archie.

Maybe it’s time for both Betty and Archie to spread their wings and leave Riverdale and discover that there it’s a big world out there, where not every story has a happy ending, where high school doesn’t go on indefinitely, where people no longer drive jalopies, and where there are other men and women, some of them better matches for you than those near your home.

Take care Archie.  You still have time to get out of this–you’re not married yet.

Veronica: if you do tie the knot, treat Archie well.  You are equals in that relationship: don’t seek to control Archie.  You are in this together.

And Betty: you take care, too.  Follow your dreams.  Hit the open road.  Travel.  Discover.  Live, for goodness’ sake, Betty–live.

* * *

For the record, here’s how I think it will go down: Veronica and Archie will not, in the end, marry.  Somehow Veronica will walk away, fall for some hairbrained scheme of Reggie’s.  Or maybe Archie will see the light and break off the engagement with Veronica to pursue the woman he really loves: Big Ethel Betty.  This ending would have made me happy in the past, but now I’m not so sure anymore, for Betty’s sake (she’d be a good wife, but would Archie be a good husband?)

Second possibility: his disdain for Archie and his middle-class ilk continuing, Veronica’s dad tries to intervene to break off the engagement.  Veronica refuses, her love for Archie being genuine.  Veronica’s father disowns her, disinherits her.  Veronica becomes a changed woman through her love for Archie: she forsakes wealth and power and even family for life as a dutiful housewife of middle-class mediocrity (not poverty per se) with Archie.  (Or maybe it’ll be a little more second millenium than that.)

Further possibility: Betty does not choose any man, choosing the single (and rumour-filled) life.  She leaves Riverdale and becomes a powerful businesswoman and activist.

And Jughead keeps eating crap without putting on weight, that lousy so-and-so.

Marriage advice

Today marks 8 years of marriage (to each other) for Dixie and I.  It’s kind of a bittersweet day: our anniversary, Dixie’s granny’s funeral.  We got married in the same church as where Granny’s funeral will be held.  20 years ago this year, when Dixie was 9 years old, Granny gave Dixie a journal of pictures and memories.  In that journal, Granny said that one day she would see Dixie walk down the aisle.  Dixie always remembered that line, worried that maybe Granny would never see that day.  But she did.  Dixie remembered those words as she walked down the aisle.  She looked at Granny as she passed her by; Granny winked.

* * *

I know 8 years is not all that long as these things go—Granny and Grandpa were married 67 years!—so this might be premature, but I feel it incumbent upon me to share some wisdom for a lasting marriage.  At least, a marriage that lasts 8 years and counting.  (And it’s not my intention to put a damper on the bittersweetness that pervades this day.)

In no particular order:

1. Assume there is no such thing as an irreconcilable difference.  How many times have you heard this: “Star A and Star B cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for their divorce”?  It’s a catch-all cop-out.  I realize that there are legitimate grounds for divorce, but we shouldn’t look for them.  Divorce shouldn’t be an option going into marriage.  Assume your marriage will be life-long and work at it being so.

2. Forgive.  Forgive.  Forgive.  Forgive.  Forgive.  And so on.  (It is my understanding that healing is possible even in a marriage where the worst has happened.)

3. Be patient.  Especially if your spouse is slow or reluctant to forgive.

4. Say, “I love you” daily.  Multiple times, if you like.  It doesn’t get old.

5. Laugh.  Joke around.  Tease each other.  Allow yourself to be made fun of.  Give each other nicknames.  Try to find common interests—watch movies together.  Have a regular TV night to watch a particular show you both like together.

6. Be affectionate.  Hug, kiss, snuggle, spoon, hold hands, etc. (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more)

7. That old saying, “Don’t go to sleep angry”?  Rubbish.  Go to sleep angry.  In the morning you’re likely to feel much better and, in fact, a little silly for being so angry in the first place.

8. Open up to each other: share your feelings, dreams, loves, joys, passions, fears, struggles, mistakes, failures.  (And see numbers 2 and 3 above.)

I’m sure there are more—I should probably ask Grandpa—but there you have it as I see it after 8 years.