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

If you'd like a reply or prefer to contact me privately:


  1. This is a great post and all of the old pictures were very fun to look at. It is something I have thought about a lot as we get farther along (17 years now) in our marriage. My husband and I have many similarities but also many, many differences. As time has gone on some of the things that have at times really irritated my concerning my husband I have seen how they actually compliment my personality. We are a good team in so many different ways and it is cool how God designed that.

  2. I loved see all your family photos, Karen! So much food for thought! I'm in my 14th year of marriage, I can't believe it, and wow, marriage sure does help in the process of sanctification, does it not? ;) I've come to appreciate my husband more and more...even though we have differences, he is faithful and he loves the Lord. Those things mean so much to me, I don't think I realized HOW MUCH until the pass few really does take time to age (like cheese! :) ) and grow in the Lord together. I also think hindsight and perspective show me how ridiculous some of my irritations where and can be still...anyway, thank you for your interesting post! Amy

  3. Hello, Karen.
    I always find it interesting that I can either see my husband's traits as annoying, or I can see them as interesting and endearing. Choosing to be interested and endeared makes for a much happier home and a deepening love.

    Your grandson's heart beeps make me smile!


  4. How wonderful! Loved reading the article and appreciate you sharing some of your family photos!! What you have written about "Marriage Harmony" is helpful and inspiring - a must read for those who are looking to be married someday, or even for those of us who have been married for some time (22+ years) Julia

  5. On a food health journey I moved way too quickly for my husband and eliminated so much of what he likes or is used to! I learned to back off a bit and make sure I offered meals or dishes that he wanted, not just what I wanted or thought my family should eat.

    I too loved the old photos of your family! Such a lovely post!

  6. What a neat post. Loved seeing the photographs!

  7. There is a lot of wisdom here. Marriage is all about giving and accommodating and learning from one another. What is amazing is that God can take two flawed human beings and create a picture of Christ and His church!!

    Oh, I love your wedding photo!

  8. Wonderful post! I loved seeing your wedding photo. Over the Christmas season I watch the 1949 version of "Little Women" more than once. : ) It is my favorite version of "Little Women". My husband and I are a lot alike, but I am very grateful that his skills compliment mine, as he is able to do so many things that I can't. You have shared a great perspective on how to view differences in marriage.

  9. Karen, your wedding picture brightened my day. Dean was at the height of fashion, I am sure. You made a beautiful bride.

    Being divorced, I will refrain from commentary, with the exception of giving a hearty Amen to your statement:
    "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."
    ...and that, as far as a "profession of Faith" goes, actions are far more important than words.
    God bless you, Karen!

  10. What a lovely post.I enjoy the wisdom expressed as well.We are married 35 years now,it is only by God's grace.We are total opposites.Lots of bumpy patches,but God has given us a glorious marriage today,I would never have believed possible.He must increase, I must decrease,is well for me to practice.What a lovely wedding picture, beautiful bride.Such handsome couples in every picture.Bless you Karen again for sharing ,Dawn E. Brown

  11. Love this post, Karen, and the photos. Hubby and I have been married for 33 1/2 years... it will be exactly 34 years this July. We have been through many ups and downs. And we have discovered that marriage is cyclic - times of wonderful, and times of not-so-wonderful. But through it all, we have honored the covenant we made all those years ago, and the Lord has been right beside us all the way. So thankful for our years together. And for yours. Thank you for sharing, friend. :)

  12. Karen, I love, love, love all the photos, especially the first one! As we celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary this Valentine's Day, I can agree with everything you wrote in this post. Marriage is truly a blending of two very different individuals. We have been blessed to have gotten on very well during these twenty-five years, although there have been times of discouragement and sadness. I know the Lord has led us through every step of the way. I think the area where we are the most opposite is in the area of clutter. I probably drive him crazy by putting everything in its place, while he is happy to have things scattered here and there. I have learned to be more tolerant of his piles of stuff, and he has learned to ask, "Where...?" The only problem is, as I get a little older, I sometimes forget where I put it!

    I just received my package today and it brought a squeal of delight. Thank you for everything you included in my box. I am anxious to curl up on the couch and read. As the days are cooler, I have an excuse to get a blanket and a cup of cocoa and spend a few minutes with The Parents' Review.

    I know you are enjoying your grandchildren. I love the heart-beep story. Having a greater heart-beep is also a goal for me- Loving Him more because He first loved me.

    I hope this winter finds you well. We have enjoyed several warm days, but it seems cooler days are here. The birds are few, but the grass is still fairly green in January and that makes the days look brighter.

    Take care.

  13. Thank you, Ladies.
    This subject, I know, comes close to home.

    We've had our ups and downs, and irritations too. I once heard it said that anybody who drives faster than you is a maniac. And anybody who drives slower than you is a slow-poke or Sunday-driver. I think that what holds true for speed, holds true for clutter and the organization or lack-of-organization, thereof. he, he. We have a difference of emphasis in our house.

    I made a pot of chocolate mint tea for a friend last week, whom I hadn't seen in five years. We sipped and talked about books and children while the menfolk talked about the 2nd Amendment in another room - after their walk in mild weather. A wild-ish wind last night rattled the bedroom windows and brought with it seasonable cold air. January is here at last. I bury my head in books each January and take out the needlework. I so enjoyed seeing my grandchildren over the holiday. Now I can, at least, see them on my daughter's Facebook.

    Yours, Karen

  14. I love this, especially telling about your parents. I adore this!

  15. What a thoughtprovoking article... I guess every lady here read it with interest as it is a subject concerning all of us. Thanks for tackling this sensitive topic!
    I love your grandparent's photos. The perfect illustrations for Blackberry Inn, arent' they?!

  16. we all need a stronger heart "beep"! enjoyed the photos, especially your wedding day! Thanks for sharing this Mrs. Andreola.

    This message is spot on in regards to marriage!

    My favorite part:
    "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."


    Perhaps next time the menfolk are discussing the 2nd amendment, you could sit your needles down to listen in and share some thoughts here?! he he:-)



  17. I need to save this post for my girls to read - lots of wisdom here. And you speak the truth so graciously, always.