The antidote to nuthin’ left

Because I am rarely able to comment at Traditional Christianity (and I keep forgetting to add them to my little blog roll) I wanted to drag one of Elspeths posts over here and talk about it.

She titled it “Yes, Keep Score”. And it fits among some things that have come up recently in comments conversations, as well as the previous post I made about the FOTF insanity.

Elspeth unpacks a couple of scriptures by re-framing them to speak to things TO do, rather than things NOT to do. This means that, sure love doesn’t keep records of wrongs etc. etc. but, we are admonished to think on excellent things and therefore doesn’t it make sense to actually keep a record of good things and focus on those? It may sound like basic common sense but its not, and certainly as evidenced by the divorce statistics and relational angst expressed anywhere in Christian blogdom, people are not doing what she recommends.

More, recently the notion of keeping a relationship fresh has popped up. I assert that it is a myth that we can recreate the magic of the new relationship, and Elspeth and I had an exchange that clarified for her what I was saying, and we agreed. What you CAN do is create something else that is wonderful, its just very different than the whole discovery phase of the new relationship where we hang on each others every syllable because it likely contains a new fascinating fact. Eventually the pictures get fully colored and we have the image of the other that we and they have created. And it was rightly fun doing it. Granted, we likely made some errors and will need to color over some parts over time, but that is not fun discovery, it is usually annoying and a pin in the neck to have to drag the picture back out and fix it, then accept it. It may not look as pretty as the one we made in the beginning.

Elspeth puts it:

Conventional wisdom dictates that over time the spark of a new relationship must give way to the mundane existence that comes with being very familiar with one another. I don’t deny the truth of this. A long term marriage does not have the same level of excitement and infatuation that comes with the discovery which characterizes a new relationship.

However, this shift is not what causes marriages to die. It’s our ingrained tendency to take for granted those things and people closest to us. We are perpetual malcontents and the only way to avoid allowing this evil trait to infect our relationships is to actively fight against it. This conscious action will revolutionize almost any marriage. Living intentionally is work however, so commit to vanquishing the comfort of mental and physical laziness.

The parts of the picture that remain the same after the editing should not be ignored. (my lame metaphor, not hers)

I was motivated to write this by something germane that happened last evening. I have been married 22 years and have 4 kids. There are lots of parts of our pictures that have been edited for the worse. We needed to run out at 6PM and get a few grocery items, which annoys me that it wasn’t done while i was at work. But I was in a good mood and cracking lots of jokes. Its cliche, but I do make my wife laugh with abandon, often, and she brags about that to others. Makes me feel good. But as we walked out the door, dark outside, 7 yr. old in tow, me in a golf hat and sweatshirt and wife similarly dressed, I had said something really funny. She turned and looked at me in the front porch light, had that quasi naughty glint in her eyes, and utterly in-congruent to the scene, she turned and placed a real kiss on me and whispered “I’m glad you are my husband”.

That may seem very trivial to people who are unmarried, or new in marriage, but its epic for those of us with decades of marriage, and it portrays what Elspeth was getting at to a degree. My wife made something exciting out of drudgery. I assume that somehow I had done the same for her. Its like the expression mediocre golfers use, its the good shots that keep you coming back and playing again.

Hmm, it is not so bad to post something positive and that is not bitching about feminism…..

But bringing it back to reality, for most people, things like Elspeth wrote and the example I offered just do not seem to be enough.


12 thoughts on “The antidote to nuthin’ left

  1. I LOVE your “trivial” example and it’s not so trivial after all. It’s what makes long-term marriages continue on. I used to try to use such things as examples at CF, but most just didn’t get it. I’d rather have exchanges like that with my husband than all the money in the world.

  2. We will not change the world or its prophesied trajectory with our continuing cursing of the darkness.

    For the sake of our marriages, children, and most importantly our Lord, we need to remember Scripture’s admonitions and focus on shining our lights.

  3. This is excellent. Yes, all those qualities that attracted you are still there. As you are likely to find out when the marriages ends. Call them to mind. Enjoy the feelings of warmth and affection they produce.
    And it’s not just marriage. We do this with our whole lives. The job we wanted, the home we wanted to live in, the car we liked so swell when we bought it. If we forget to enjoy them are lives will be a treadmill of greed.

  4. It occurred to me this morning that my wife has totally given up the capacity to surprise me. Everything, good or bad, is played out.

  5. Her post and yours also illustrated how we often allow the transience of feelings to dictate what we should do. Feelings often focus on what isn’t there, versus what isn’t. We give way to our feelings when we think there isn’t anything else to do.

    [in keeping with my meme, “we” are not so prone to giving in to our feelings to the point where we take dramatic action, SHE is, however, prone to that…see the findings of FOTF in the prior blog entry]

  6. Its cliche, but I do make my wife laugh with abandon, often, and she brags about that to others. Makes me feel good.

    Oh yes it does! When you get a real guffaw out of the woman who’s heard your jokes for the last 20 years–that’s something.

    She turned and looked at me in the front porch light, had that quasi naughty glint in her eyes, and utterly in-congruent to the scene, she turned and placed a real kiss on me and whispered “I’m glad you are my husband”.

    That look ain’t naughty, friend. She wanted to go into the sanctuary

  7. Yes, keep track of all the good stuff your spouse does for you and try to out compete her/him by doing even more good stuff for the other! That way a competition of the good will result in an ever increasing awesome marriage.

    And even if she or he does something really bad, like cheats on you in a moment of weakness, look at the good things. Does her or his good qualities outweigh this one tiny indiscretion? Weight the pros and cons of marriage vs divorce in such a circumstance. And if you have children, please, please, please consider staying together for their sake.

    Forgive and love again.

    [agree fully]

  8. I hadn’t intended to make it a drive-by comment, dropping it off and not returning to answer any come-back I’d get to it. Sorry about that. To revise and extend my 1/5 5:34 PM remark: What I meant was that after many years of marriage, more than half of our lives, every experience I have with my wife is highly predictable. I am not psychic. I wish it were something useful like that!

    I change, develop, and retain a capacity to live creatively and surprise people, but she does not. I know what sweater she is wearing, despite not having seen her today — she wears the same damned unflattering things all the time, for years on end, sometimes not even making a change though a garment is falling off her back in rags. But it is not because she is short of money, as you can see from the way she does her hair – for that, she pays some misogynist $85 every few weeks to inflict the same unflattering hairstyle on her time after time, even after I’ve told her it’s a lazy cut from him that takes away from such good looks as she still has. When she cooks, it’s always the same things. Our arguments go over the same ground all the time, in the same terms — I can recite her rantscripts backwards and forwards.

    Two thousand year-old Roman roads are not as rutted.

    I have no poker face. People have been able to see for years that I am not happy in my life arrangements. Yet when I told her in words how I felt, she indicated that she was shocked and surprised, that she had never had any idea, that she felt she was happily married and assumed I felt the same. When I asked her what “happily married” meant if that is what she thinks we are, she said, “I am used to you.”

    As I said about them Roman roads. . .

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