Marlette’s Musings #2

I received a link to an interesting post this week.  Marlette has been married 34 years and in celebration she put together a list of 34 Things about Marriage.  In the next several blogs, I’ll share some of her thoughts with you. Last time we looked at the number 1 item of Marlette’s list and found that their marriage has the priorities of love and respect clearly in focus.

Here’s her number 2 thought of 34:

We show love in medium ways (there is no small love) – he rubs my feet, folds the bath tissue like we’re in a hotel and he calls me darlin’.  I bring him his favorite treats, never run out of peanut butter, and record movies I know he’ll like.

Photo by Crystal Alifanow

Now we see their marriage is characterized by acts of service.  Simply put, they serve one another.  He rubs her feet and finds simple things to show he loves her.  She in turn makes sure to keep a healthy supply of peanut butter on hand along with his favorite treats. Hmmm, did someone once say that the path to a man’s heart is through his stomach?   If only other wives could have it so easy.  The key to a happy home and husband is as simple as having enough peanut butter!

The “Happy Marriage Manuals” would all go out of business if they only knew that peanut butter was the answer!

Photo by aamag

All kidding aside, the point is pretty basic.  Find out what is special for your spouse and do it.  If a foot rub makes her feel loved and melts her heart, then just do it.  Understand why it is so special to her.  It makes her feel relaxed and takes away the tension of the day.    Make it a regular event.  You can do the “quickie” foot rub where you just rub her feet while you sit on the couch and watch a movie.  Or you can step up your game and go for the full-on gourmet foot rub with candles, soft music, and scented foot massage cream.  Find out what makes your wife feel truly loved and go for it.  Serve her in this way.

And for you wives that can melt your husband’s heart with a pantry full of peanut butter, by all means, order the case lot size.  But if his thing is having the guys over to watch the game and you can provide all the fixin’s, then just go for it darlin’.

We all get the point.  Serve one another.  The path to a lasting marriage is to love and serve one another.

Serve one another, humbly in love. Galations 5:13

Love is an Action Verb

This week our Marriage Ministry at church began a series by Andy Stanley called Staying In Love. He says falling in love is the easy part, because you only need a pulse. But staying in love requires much more.

Our culture allows for an easy out if a relationship has struggles and he explains many have a very low pain threshold when it comes to working through the inevitable relationship struggles all couples face. Many end a relationship because they just don’t get along anymore. Others say they have lost their loving feelings.

Andy points out love starts as a feeling, but later should become an action. That is, love should be a verb and not a noun. As a noun, falling IN LOVE, is often based on chemistry, beauty, and the best behavior people maintain during the dating phase.

But Andy reminds us love is an action verb and to love one another as Christ loved the church.

  • We need to actively seek HOW to love our spouse.
  • We need to selflessly LOVE them.

And when we do, we build the core of a truly remarkable relationship. We are giving to one another and the very act of giving creates an atmosphere for love to be returned.

Photo by Joanna Kopik

Photo by Joanna Kopik

I have often used this illustration: Imagine that you are each a plant, with a unique need for certain ingredients to survive. You can check out my previous blog, “Water Often.” People need affirmation, care, help, understanding, and physical love just as plants need soil, water, nutrients, and sunlight. If you do not give these ingredients in the right quantity, your spouse cannot flourish and will die just like a deprived plant. You are the only one who can give these ingredients to your spouse. He depends on you to love and nurture him in his unique way.

The message is this: pay careful attention to what your spouse needs and lovingly supply their needs. Become a student of what your spouse needs to grow and flourish.

Love in action requires us to do the things that demonstrate our love. Expressing love to your spouse verbally may be good, and even needed. It is important to tell your spouse that you do indeed love them. “Honey, I love you”.

But if the words are never followed by action, the words become meaningless and hollow. So not only should we tell our spouse we love them, we must also selflessly do the things that show them. Ask them what things you could do on a regular basis to show them your love, and actively work at giving to them the very things that demonstrate love.

In this case, helping them turn green is a loving thing!

Hey You! Listen Up!

Has your wife ever said, “You’re not listening to me!”

There are times when these words come out tearfully and loaded with overwhelming emotion or with anger and frustration.  Either way, the message is clear:  All of us guys can do a better job at listening to our wives.

Photo by CELAL TEBER

Photo by CELAL TEBER

The familiar scenario has the husband getting home, rummaging through the mail for bills, making a quick run to the bathroom, and returning to the family room to open his laptop to check the last few work emails. He yells back to his wife in the kitchen the obligatory, “How did your day go?”  She reviews the challenges of raising 3 active kids, and the stressful issues that came up.  When she looks around the corner to discover her husband with his gaze fixed on the laptop, she asks, “Have you been listening to me?” to which he replies, “Of course.  I just have to get this one email done.”  And that means he should be done in 20 to 30 minutes.  She walks back to the kitchen thinking, “Right! One email.”

Has this scenario ever happened in your home? Some of us, habitually turn on the TV or read the newspaper.  Still others disappear to the office to put things away, emerging in 45 minutes.  So much is vying for our attention, we often are drawn away from attending to the ones we love.

And then we hear that this pattern of behavior is justified because, well…. Men just need some time to unwind.

Photo by Janelle Siegrist

Photo by Janelle Siegrist

We basically just get our priorities all wrong.

Am I guilty?  Convicted to the core.  I have done this for years.  It is a worn-in pattern.  But it can and should be changed.  If we love our wives, we should first look to their needs, giving them our undivided attention.  How did their day really go?  We should actively listen to hear not only the message but the heart.  Maybe she revealed the facts about her day, but if you listen to hear her heart she is really saying “I just need a hug.  Today was rough.”

I have a bad habit of “kind of” listening.  That means I do something else and listen in the background.  I have even caught myself needing to “play back” what Darleen has said, as if I have a tape recording in my head.  Ouch!!!  Yes, I do love you, but I only half listen when you talk to me.

So here’s the deal.  listen and pay full attention to your spouse.  No more half-baked efforts.  On the way home from work, decompress and use the time to transition your mind to the people love. If this applies to some of you ladies out there, then so be it.

It is often said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak!

Fables and Fairy Tales

There is a long tradition of teaching life principles with short stories like Aesop’s fables, parables, and fairy tales.  I ran across one such pithy tale in a book by Mort Fertel, Marriage FitnessAmazon.  The story is one of love and sacrifice.  I was struck with how well it illustrated the concept of Selfless Serving, a cornerstone principle of our blog.  Here’s a brief summary of the tale.

There once was a brave knight in King Arthur’s court, Sir Gawain, who uncovered a plot to kill the King.  To save the King’s life, he had to agree to marry Ragnell, the unsightliest maid in the kingdom.  On their wedding night, she was amazed that he never showed revulsion or pity for her and she asked one thing of him.  She asked for only one kiss.                                                                                  

Photo by Gabor Palla

Photo by Gabor Palla

Sir Gawain gently kissed his bride.  When he opened his eyes the most beautiful women he had ever seen was lying next to him and he asked, “Where is my wife Ragnell?”  She replied, “I am your wife Ragnell and now I must tell you the rest of my story”.

Ragnell told him her evil jealous stepbrother had a sorceress put a curse on her, turning her into the ugliest woman in the kingdom and because he had treated her with love and not pity, she could give him a choice.  She could be beautiful by day so that all would see Sir Gawain was a lucky man married to a beautiful woman, or she could be beautiful by night when they were together.  Ugly by day, beautiful by night, or beautiful by day and ugly by night.  It was his choice.                                                        

Sir Gawain immediately declined to make that choice.  He said that she must choose and he would accept her decision.  And at that, the curse on Ragnell was lifted and she was once again beautiful by day and night.

In this simple tale, we are shown that we have choices.  Gawain gave up his right to choose and let his wife choose the best for her.  We can also choose to serve our own needs and wants, or we can choose to surrender our desires and selflessly give to our spouse.

Here’s a Date Night idea.  Take turns asking your spouse these questions:

  1. Do you feel that I am attentive enough to your needs?
  2. Do you think I take the time to really hear what’s important to you?
  3. What would you say are your four most important needs?
  4. What can I do to better meet those needs?

Remember marriage is a “We” relationship.  No one is perfect.  We can all improve and we need each other.  Help each other so that you can better serve and love one another.

Who knows, you may make a fairy tale marriage!

Who Are These Bears?

The Lions, Bees, Bears, and Otters are four temperaments explored in Dr. Sandra Scantling’s book Extraordinary Sex Now. Previously we explored the structured, disciplined Bees and the whimsical frolicking Otters. And we have also looked in on the take charge Lions. Now let’s look at the loveable supportive Bears.

A Syed

A Syed

Bears are stabilizers. No big surprises here. They tend to be thoughtful and contemplative types, often shy and retiring. They’re supportive and calming to those around them. They fear rejection the most and want to be liked, accepted, and appreciated. They are good listeners and non-confrontational, unless backed into a corner; then watch out. Bears can attack if provoked. They also tend to hide their feelings, so you will need to gently coax them out of their den. Quite cautious, Bears avoid risks. They prefer to play it safe, so don’t expect them to respond quickly or to take charge of things. They may procrastinate, waiting for a safe time to proceed.

Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind if you are married to a Bear:

  • Be clear about what you want and expect. Bears aren’t mind readers.
  • Don’t expect perfection. Bears are ok with good enough – Bees should take note.
  • Affirm and praise your Bear for positive efforts – Appreciation is important to them
  • Avoid blaming or finding fault. This will drive them into their cave. Bears with hurt feelings stew for a long time.
  • Be patient with your Bear. They will come along, but usually later rather than sooner.
  • Because they fear rejection, be thoughtful how you bring up things for constructive review.
  • Give your Bear space. If they need time to think it over, it will be time well spent.
  • Solve tough issues a little at a time, to avoid overwhelming them.

For those of you who identify with being a Bear, here are some things that will be helpful to you:

  • Make a concerted effort to understand your partner’s feelings. Practice empathy to see it through your partner’s eyes.
  • Listen to your own feelings. This is tough. Reach deep to understand what you are feeling. Then, let your partner know.
  • Work at being more assertive. Express what you think. Take a risk.
  • Open up and share things about yourself that are personal.
  • When you are hurt, be honest and willing to express what has hurt you. Don’t bottle it up.
  • Try to be more adventurous. Make the suggestion for what to do on your next date and have some fun. Learn to be a little more Otter-like.
  • And finally, it’s OK to say No. Don’t agree to do something and then be angry because you really didn’t want to do it. Be honest in the first place.

Be thankful for your Bear. They will be supportive and loyal to you. Appreciate them and don’t try to make them into a Bee or a Lion or an Otter.

Bear with them as they are.

Who Are These Lions?

The Lions, Bees, Bears, and Otters are four temperaments explored in Dr. Sandra Scantling’s book Extraordinary Sex Now. Previously we explored the structured, disciplined Bees and the whimsical, frolicking Otters. Now we’ll take a look at the bold, conquering Lions.

 Gergely Kökényesy

Gergely Kökényesy

Lions make no apologies for being in charge. They’ve mastered leadership skills and boldly take point on most projects. They are strong, confident, and responsible, prefering to do things themselves, finding security in knowing it will get done right. With all of these positive qualities, Lions can also be lonely, insecure, and concerned about being unlovable. While this seems a contradiction, it’s part of the fabric of the Lion’s temperament. They have a tough, take charge exterior, and an insecure, do you still love me interior.

Lions are quintessential extroverts. They speak candidly, then are confused why you think they’re insensitive. You asked what they thought, and true to the nature of the Lion, they told you while firmly lodging their foot in their mouth. They have high expectations and value conquering and attaining their goals. They are generous and see value in helping the less fortunate.

Here are some other qualities you will often find in the Lion:

  • They like being the initiator, the leader
  • Generally prefer to lead on their own as opposed to being a co-equal team player
  • Quick to anger and let you know their upset, but get over it quickly and move on
  • They can be short on patience and frustrated with someone who takes too much time or reflection
  • Can be intense, focused, overbearing, and pushy to get things moving
  • Appearance is important and they take pride in looking well dressed and groomed
  • They can be arrogant, self-serving, and out of touch with the needs of others

If you find that you are married to a Lion:

  • Remember they enjoy a challenge. If your relationship is  stale, try to engage him by considering together what will move your relationship from a 4 to an 8 or a 9.
  • They like to be in control, so challenging their leadership will be unwelcome. Make suggestions not demands.
  • Understand that they want to know that they are loved. Beneath the tough exterior is often insecurity.
  • They appreciate a forth right approach. Don’t beat around the proverbial bush. Get to the point.
  • Be clear when they have hurt your feelings. Lions are not the best mind readers, so you’ll have to come right out and say it. They appreciate the direct approach.
  • Lions thrive on verbal affirmations and physical shows of affection.
  • Don’t harbor hurts. Get things resolved sooner rather than later.

And some suggestions for you Lions:

  • Lions would do well to remember to be more flexible and understanding. Remember that when you reach the goal, you’ll want us with you.
  • Temper what you say and how you say it; not everyone desires to hear it like you see it.

Next time we will visit the cave of the stabilizing Bear.

The Affection Connection

Did you see one of the latest videos that hit the internet?? Check this one out:

Who said romance is dead? This video was viewed 60 MILLION times!

Bernie Mills, 80, was caught on camera waiting for his wife, Carol, 75, at Los Angeles International Airport.  When he saw her, he broke out into a smile, gave her flowers, a hug, and a kiss. The couple met on eHarmony after their spouses of 50 years died and have been married to each other  about 5 years.

Did you see it?? OK, You’re right. I’m a big mush. But I guess I’m not alone… 60 MILLION other people wanted to see this one touching video of an old guy being affectionate, at the airport, in public, in broad daylight, and he doesn’t seem to care that anyone else is looking. Yep. They call it PDA… Public displays of affection.

So what about you?? Do you ever get all squishy in public and show your spouse that they’re the best thing in your life and you can’t live without them? I know, maybe the “in public thing” is just not your style. What about at home, when no one is looking? Do you get affectionate then?

Do you know what kinds of affectionate things your spouse likes? Think about it. Some like holding hands. Others appreciate a handwritten note expressing some endearing thoughts. Or a spontaneous neck rub or foot massage. Even just a couple of scratches on an itchy back. Bringing home a few flowers, even free wild flowers that you picked next to the parking lot at work (for those of you who need to do romance on a budget). What about it? What does your spouse like? What would make him or her smile. What would make them happy that you thought of them?

And how often should you do these squishy endearing romantic little gestures? How about every day!!! You can easily stoke the fire of your love for each other by just doing a few little affectionate things on a regular basis. Make a habit of it.

Little gestures of your love for your spouse let them know that to you, they’re really special and you want to have that one to one connection. You really do care about them and you enjoy making them happy.  To be cherished in this way can make a huge difference in your spouse’s psyche and their outlook on life.

So what about it? Are you ready to show your love? Who knows, maybe someday YOU’LL show up on a You Tube video and 60 million people will be inspired…..