(I realize this is a blog about my wife, but keep in mind it could apply to husbands, partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, or whatever other kind of relationship you have. As you read it, find ways to INCLUDE your relationship in the conversation, not EXCLUDE it due to the personal pronouns used. )
Does your wife feel free to sing aloud to the radio while in the car with you despite her tremendous fear of other people hearing her sing? Mine does. I am thankful for this.
Does your wife smile at your weak jokes (no matter how corny), giggle at your good jokes, and snort like she is out of control at your best jokes? Mine does. I am thankful for this.
Does your wife ignite a passion in you that you can’t explain when she does no more than smile at you and touch your cheek? Mine does. I am thankful for this.
Does she smile and drive for hours on a Sunday while you sit in the passenger seat drinking bourbon and telling bad jokes? Mine does. I am thankful for this.
Does she exhibit parenting skills that put you in absolute awe? Does she carry on a conversation with a child that is both on the child’s level and also offers guidance an adult could understand? Mine does. I am thankful for this.
When she makes love to you, does it always feel like it is the first time you have ever experienced something of the sort? Yes, I am also thankful for this.
Is she willing to drive you around all over the countryside while you sip bourbon and listen to music you know she hates? Does she smile at you while you sing along? Thankful. Oh, so thankful.
Is she patient and kind with you, no matter what sort of career, life or personal decisions you make? Mine is. Six years after I joined the Navy on a whim, I am still thankful for this every single day.
Does she show extreme gratitude for even the smallest thing, without ever asking for gratitude for anything? I feel guilty and thankful.
Does she treat you like a king when you need the boost, yet know when to treat you as a squire? Yes ma’am, I am thankful.
Do you find yourself becoming better at being a partner every day, but never notice the coaching? I hope so, and I am thankful for that hope.
Can you watch her be a mother, a friend, and a lover and see each one in her actions without ever seeing her struggle with the transition between the three? I can’t think of a way to show my gratitude for this.
Does she ever ask for gratitude for being awesome? Mine does not. Does she change because she receives no gratitude? Mine does not. I am thankful beyond comprehension for this.
Does she try to help you overcome your mistakes and shortcomings without ever making you feel inadequate for them? Perhaps this is the thing I am most thankful for.
I am human and I am weak. I am often humorless and abrasive. Some would say that I can be harsh and that I lack tact. In spite of these things I know to be true, she smiles at me when I want to frown at the world. For this too, I am truly thankful.
If your relationship offers such abundant treasure, regardless of gender, orientation, ethnicity or age, be thankful. It is not normal to have such a thing. It is precious, and for that I am thankful.
In today’s social media-driven world, there seems to be someone ready to care about just about anything coming down the pike. In my 40 years, I don’t remember a time when people were more polarized about issues that mattered less.
It must have been nice to live in an age when important issues were the main source of concern.
Imagine if there had been Facebook in 79 A.D.
“These idiots in Pompeii will just not listen to my warnings. I’m leaving town before this volcano blows”
“When will this guy stop yacking about Mt. Vesuvius? That mountain has been quiet for ages. Stop all the alarmism”
Actually, thinking about the world at this moment, there is plenty to be alarmed about. A psychotic group of religious extremists is running rampant in the Middle East, executing people left and right. Entire countries are going bankrupt. Mind-altering medications are causing a plague of mass killings in our own country.
There really is a lot to be concerned about. I don’t know that any of it rises to a population-destroying event such as the eruption of Vesuvius, but all of it is valid concern.
Yet, every day I am bombarded with what seem to me to be topics not worthy of serious mental energy. I am almost embarrassed at what have become the “hot-button” issues of the day.
I have identified four topics that are all equally meaningless to me. Hopefully I can find someone to offend or shock with at least one of these.
Where flags can and can’t fly
Let me qualify this one early. I do care when some homeowner’s association won’t let a homeowner fly the American flag (or any flag) in their own yard. I care enough to tell them to make a smarter choice next time they buy a home. Besides that, I am stunned at the attention this flag garbage is getting pretty much everywhere.
Let me start with the Confederate Battle Flag. When I was 18, my car had Confederate flag centerpieces on its bullet-hole rims. It was sharp. I grew up watching the Dukes of Hazzard, listening to Hank Jr, and respecting the “Rebel Flag” as if it was a part of the family.
I also grew up ashamed of bigotry in my family, slavery in my country’s past, and discrimination anywhere I saw it.
I personally don’t think that particular banner has any place flying on government grounds, but not because it is supposedly “racist.” It doesn’t have any place on government grounds because it is no longer affiliated with any active government.
That said, the outright banning of the flag in other places or events is silly. This sudden movement to remove all traces of our past is not only dumb it is also dangerous. People who look to that flag as a reminder of the importance of keeping a strong federal government at bay need to be able to do so. People who see it as a symbol of past repression and are fearful of it need to look to it for the inspiration to make sure they are always in control of their own fate.
Hiding the flag from public view takes away both of those important opportunities. It does not change the past, but it can keep us from learning from our mistakes.
It is not just that flag causing a stir though. A small town near where I live has recently gotten into a row over whether or not the Christian flag should be flown at City Hall.
At City Hall. Really?
I don’t care if your town was founded by the Apostle Paul. Do you realize that flying the flag of a specific religion at a government building is not only an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, it is also a form of exclusion and intimidation that Christianity teaches against?!?
Maybe that is not clear to the people of that town. It wasn’t clear to me until I lived and served with people of many other religious backgrounds. Maybe there are no Jews in your town. But maybe there are. Do you expect them to speak up and identify themselves in a town where police cars park under that flag?
Religious witness is not about flying a flag at City Hall. It is about guiding the lost to your belief, or at least that is what I have been told. I don’t see how a flag at City Hall gets that job done. Handing a small flag to a neighbor while speaking to them about salvation, however, is probably pretty successful.
The craziest part is that most of the people up in arms about this are all-in on the fight against government-by-religion in other countries and are willing to send young men and women to die to put a stop to it.
I wonder how many cities Jesus hung flags in on his way out of town…
Who bakes what cake
So you don’t want to bake a cake for a gay wedding? I don’t care at all. I can choose not to hire you to bake a cake if I am offended. Your decision can make you the most popular bakery in town, or it might cause you to lose all of your business. The market should decide that. The government has no place compelling you to do business with anyone.
Now, if you work in a government office or your business is funded by taxpayers, then your refusal to do business with people for religious reasons is unfortunate and wrong. You need to be fired or lose government funding. That, and you are a douche.
Who marries who
If I could just get one person, even one, to tell me how my sister (who died three days prior to getting married) marrying a woman would have harmed their own personal marriage or life, I would consider it a great enlightening.
I always get a chuckle when I see people expressing how my sister marrying a woman would be such an abomination to a particular religion, but they never mention they are on heterosexual marriage number three.
I don’t care what religion you are. I respect them all. But please, for the love of Pete, don’t pick and choose what is a sin and what is ok. That ain’t your call pal. Most religions see all sin as equal.
So, if you are totally sin free, I welcome you to let me know so that I can listen to your commentary on my precious, late sister’s personal relationships and how it matters in your life. Otherwise, why can’t we all worry about making our own marriage better and stop focusing on what other people are doing?
The price of eggs in China
While we are talking about things that are useless, we might as well include this one. I certainly don’t care. Most likely you don’t either. Why would you?
Who has time to worry over the price of eggs in China when there are much more important topics to get all spun up about?
I guess it is possible that the price goes up one cent for every Rebel flag at a NASCAR race. Maybe it goes up two cents for every gay marriage. It probably doubles every time a “normal” married couple has an affair, but that’s none of my business.
In fact, none of it is any of my business. And that’s just the way I like it.
Disclaimer: If you came here to read my normal comedy-driven narratives, please be advised that this is not in that genre. I had the opportunity to teach a “marriage-crisis survival” class for the Navy, and I have been inspired ever since to write publicly about some of things I taught (and learned) during that class.
When you are a busybody who tries to give marriage advice, word gets around. But not in the way you would think… people actually want help. I get approached at least once a month by someone who wants to tell me about their marriage crisis.
I always welcome their story and I try to offer the best advice I can based on my personal experience and research I have done during my own times of crisis. But of all the advice I give, I find people less responsive to what I think is the most important lesson.
I tell them NOT to stay together for the children.
That’s right. DO NOT STAY TOGETHER FOR THE CHILDREN.
“But, Dave,” you must be saying right now. “Children of divorced parents have a higher rate of drug and alcohol use. They drop out of high school at a much higher rate than children in non-divorce homes. They have a much lower rate of college attendance Dave. How can you possibly give that advice?”
Good points all. But you need to hear the rest of my argument. I did not say to go through with a divorce. Why? Because all of the facts that I just pretended you spouted at me happen to be true.
Wait, am I confusing anyone? I am sticking to my story. Do not stay together for the children.
Let me explain.
It is really all about the lessons you teach your children. As a quick caveat, let me say that not every marriage needs to be saved. There are abusive relationships out there that are harmful for everyone and those are beyond any advice I can give. But I am not talking about those. I am talking about the “I just can’t stand that woman/man anymore and I want out” relationships.
If you are in one of those relationships, and you stay together for your children, let me tell you what you are teaching them.
Dad – if you have a daughter, and you no longer love her mother, but you stay in the home in an unhealthy marriage, you are teaching her what to expect from her marriage. She will accept much less love and caring than she deserves because YOU are the example she will forever use for what a husband should be.
Exit question Dad of a daughter – Would you want your daughter to live with a man she was not in love with, for any reason?
Dad – If you have a son, what lesson does he learn from watching Dad live in an unloving and unhealthy marriage? He learns that conflict and anger are normal and acceptable ways of living every day. He learns that he does not necessarily need to love a woman to have a relationship with her, he only needs to feel an obligation to her. How many young men end up not caring about irresponsible teen sexual activity because they have learned this attitude from their Old Man? Any social worker worth his/her salt can give you stats on this.
Mom – if you have a daughter, what is she learning from you by watching you stay in a broken marriage? She is learning that she does NOT have to wait for storybook romance. She does not need to hope for the man of her dreams. She is learning to accept less of a man than she is worthy of demanding. Little girls who live in that sort of household have a high rate of divorce, and unfortunately experience abusive relationships as adults because they did not witness their mother demanding respect and love from dad.
Mom – if you have a son, what is he learning from you when he hears you tell Dad behind closed doors that you are only staying for the kids? Because they do hear that you know, they hear and know EVERYTHING. Trust me. They know way more than you think. So what is your little man learning? He is learning that it is okay for him to live with a woman who doesn’t love him. It is okay for him to be in constant conflict with his wife. He is learning that the love of a woman is not at all important to a happy marriage. You are setting him up for marital disaster, and lowering his view of the value of a woman.
So, parents, that is real tough stuff isn’t it. I’m rude and brash for pointing it out. People will stop following my blog. People will get mad and say I was out of line. But wait! Just read the next little bit.
If you are not to stay together for the kids, what is the answer?
Let’s face it, staying with someone you do not love for any reason is hard. It is so hard that it almost never works out in the end.
So why not try something easy? What is one of the easiest things we do? Fall in LOVE.
What? That is right. Do not stay together for the kids. FALL IN LOVE FOR THEM.
If you are strong and willing, and if you are dedicated enough to sacrifice everything in your being to live with a person you do not love for your children, then falling in love with that person will be one of the best and easiest decisions you ever made. You already did it once, in most cases, and it was fun. You liked it. Remember?
You can leave all of those problems behind, and move on. Forgiveness is sometimes hard, but it is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give yourself. When you forgive, the person you are forgiving feels nothing, but you will feel everything.
Try this: Decide to forgive and leave all the problems behind. Put ‘em in a sack and leave ‘em by the street. If being in love with the mother/father of your children turns out to be no fun, and you liked the problems and the past transgressions, go back out to the street. They will still be there. No one will take them.
“Dave, that is all easier said than done,” you say.
Okay, try it. Try falling in love. You’ve tried falling into despair for your children, and you are finding it hard. Try falling in love for them, and let me know how that one goes.