Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Marriage Harmony - A Candid Talk

Marriage Harmony
Hi ladies. I've been working on this post in past weeks. Meanwhile, in his office, Dean has put some of our old photographs through restoration for me - including a 1979 hippy-wedding Polaroid out of my scrapbook.

Over Christmas my 4 yr-old grandson came to visit carrying a little plastic case through the door.
"Hi, Mimi."
"Hi. What's that?" I asked him after a hug.
He solemnly replied, "My doctor's kit. Do you want me to doctor you?"
"Yes," I said and sat down. He began to take my vitals. "What does this do?" I asked. He put the plastic stethoscope in his ears.
"This let's me hear your heart-beep."
"Is it beeping? I asked with a straight face as he pressed the stethoscope to my chest. I didn't dare correct him - and thought as a grandmother can't help but think - what a cutie-pie - and on second thought - he'd make a good doctor some day.
"Yes," he said and went on to wrap an arm band around my wrist to take my blood pressure.

With the coming of the new year I seek to have a stronger "heart-beep" - to be more loving - in thought, word and deed. Read anything on the subject of love and you'll be met with its affects toward humility. Grace to the humble is God's blessing. 2 Peter 3:18 is a New Year's goal for me.

Dean's maternal grandparents. Engaged 1926
Opposites Attract
When a Christian maiden prays for a man to marry she prays for one who shares her belief in the God of the Bible. Apart from this, how very different the two can be! Once married the couple will be yoked aright - no matter how different their personalities - if they pull in the same direction - serving their Heavenly King. It is their highest common purpose for living.

If a maiden waits long enough, it is possible (I suppose) but not probable, that she will meet a man who is nearly identical to herself in personality and preferences. Realistically, she will not find a man who shares all her likes and dislikes. A maiden may rejoice when she finds that she has much in common with the man-of-her-dreams - and yet - underneath this layer of commonality, opposites are attracting. This is part of the magnetism in courtship.The man and woman bring into the relationship a set of characteristics. Each has strengths, gifts, talents and skills. But each also has needs, weaknesses, and their own rate of maturity (to be handled with care.)

Esther, Dean's mother. 1931

The Couple Complement One Another
To ensure compatibility a maiden needn't look for someone who is as much like herself as possible. You see, in an ideal marriage the couple complement one another. The opposites that initially attract are the same character qualities that can blend together to the couple's advantage. The husband fulfills her need with his individuality. He brings increase to her lack, strength to her weakness, a skill for an ability she yet lacks, etc. The same can be true for the strengths the wife brings to the marriage. She fulfills his need, brings a strength for his weakness, a talent or a gift for something he lacks, etc. They admire one another's strengths. They gently lend-a-hand with weaknesses.

Everyone has idiosyncrasies. These potentially make us irritating. It's inevitable that our spouse will stumble upon something about ourselves that he tries to overlook - or that we need to overlook in him. Sometimes, it's a big deal - a conflict or an area where we fall-short - requiring gracious forgiveness. The main idea is that by cooperating through our contrasts we grow spiritually. Marriage is about opposites that learn to get along. The love of 1 Corinthians 13 accomplishes this.

Here are some hypothetical examples of mutual exchange that I made up.

He's a businessman - let's say - who is good on the telephone. It hadn't occurred to him that anyone could be phone-shy. Yet his wife is. Talking on the phone to set appointments or even order a pizza makes her nervous. On the other hand, she is hospitable, likes parties and is at home leading a lady's Bible study. Her husband is an avid-conversationalist one-on-one but feels awkward in large groups. The couple work at helping one another to polish their manners, being careful to be not be critical. As a result each practices a new skill which they eventually feel comfortable with it.

My parents. Anthony & Joan, High School Sweethearts 1950s.
What good is it to marry someone who has the exact set of strengths and weakness?

The husband - let's say - loves music.  Although the wife sets her hopes on a new washing machine, he purchased a set of sophisticated speakers that were on sale. He listens to music after work to unwind. His tastes are widely varied. She has only ever listened to blue grass. He begins saving up for that new washing machine. Meanwhile his wide scope of musical interests begins to grow on his wife. Vivaldi and Bach aren't so bad, neither is Gershwin, the Beatles or Andrew Loyd Weber. Out of courtesy he doesn't play his music in the house every day and for the first time he finds something to like about the banjo. He arranges a date with his wife to visit an historical house and hear the blue grass band playing there.

Writing my father during a visit to Washington, D.C.
A blending of contrasts adds flavor to a marriage.

The wife - let's say - is health-conscience. She prepares salads with veggies from her own garden. She often includes cruciferous vegetables (which have anti-cancer properties) in soups and casseroles. In the husband's opinion if there isn't meat in the dish,' it isn't supper. In a moment of hunger he speaks bluntly. The young wife is offended, initially. Doesn't he know how many hours she spends in the kitchen? But the same day he lets the protein-cat-out-of-the-bag he comes home with a grill. His backyard grilling saves her work in the kitchen and pleases himself - and - it's good for hospitality, he suggests. He learns to appreciate her emphasis on health - and actually looks forward to her broccoli soup and apples-with-red-cabbage while achieving the perfect-timing for grilling salmon - something they both enjoy.

A goal of marriage is the give-and-take of mutual sharing. It's two people who have something to offer while receiving something they need in return. It is a close friendship where each has something that can be learned from the other. If they are at lose-ends on how to go about this give-and-take they can seek God's guidance. He is the creator of the human personality. Marriage was His idea. From the beginning He pronounced it good.

My father in the navy, in Greece.

Differences surface for the mere fact that they are male and female.

Lovemaking to the wife - let's say - has a lot to do with how much attention and affection and she receives before coming to bed. Lovemaking to him - let's say - is about attention and affection shared in bed. (or vice versa) The couple thought they were "in love" but soon discover "to love" is to give-of-oneself by exploring a broad definition of love. With courage, honesty, and vulnerability they acknowledge their differences and feelings. To honor one another they figure out how to use the love language of the other to communicate lovingly.

My maternal grandparents, married 1929.

This simple song encourages communication. We used to listen to it in the early 1980s. (Found on YouTube).

Talk to one another, You've go to learn to talk it out
You've got to know exactly what the other's about.
But when we talk to one another, Just like the Father above
We've got to learn to say it in love.
Brown Banister, Christian music lyrics

My Favorite Odd Couple
This year my parents will be married 60 years. Here's something I haven't had reason to mention before. My mother is a Protestant - although she was married in St. Mary's Catholic Church. At heart my father is a Roman Catholic - although he has attended Protestant services. Mom and Dad have different cultural backgrounds. Mom's decedents date back to the Plymouth Colony. Dad's parents were born in Italy. Some of their family customs clash (which can be comical). Their children grew up enjoying the benefits of the merger - the best of both worlds, you might say. Mom and Dad have the occasional tiff, but mutual esteem, mutual forbearance, and a sense of humor has enabled them to get along all these years.

Two Old Films I Recommend
Two American films, Dean introduced to me, demonstrate how two people (male and female) with contrasting personalities and backgrounds, can get along - especially as they share a common purpose and a similar moral conscience. The films just happen to be both starring Katherine

The first is is African Queen starring Humphrey Bogart.

The second is Rooster Cogburn starring John Wayne.

I link the films to Amazon here so that you can read more about them. Dean is an old-movie buff. I actually miss our dates to the video store to pick out a Friday night movie as we used to do. At times I'll rent a film for $2.99 on-line. At Christmastime it was Little Women - 1949 with Elizabeth Taylor.

Comments to this post are welcome.

Karen Andreola

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