blogging madness, Humility is important, Uncategorized

Honestly Inconsistent.

Show me a person who is sure, certain and comfortable with everything they ever think or do and you’ll show me someone I am not particularly interested in spending very much time with.

Honesty and inconsistency are actually not strange bedfellows.

I can read two posts here on any given day and find thoughts or ideas which seem to conflict with each other. I used to be slightly alarmed by this, particularly when there was a hit to a link that seemed to clash with an idea I just posted; almost as if someone was looking for it.

Once I took the time to think about it, however, the concern dissipated. It dissipated because anyone who is honestly striving, working, and occasionally stumbling on the journey of life will sometimes fall short of their ideals. The spirit is always warring against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit. Toss in the natural *stuff* that goes on in my very feminine psyche, and if I didn’t know me, left to judge based only on posts on my own blog, I might think I was a little bonkers.

Or I would, if I hadn’t figured out that best behavior Elspeth and not-so-best behavior Elspeth are both still Elspeth. The me who is full of myself one day is the same me who is humbled the next by the love of God or my husband, or the difficulty of trying to properly educate two children with very different personalities.

I once heard this from a mostly forgettable preacher, except he said one thing was pretty unforgettable. He talked about what he called “The Four You’s”, even though he followed it by rattling off five categories. They are:

  • The you that you think you are
  • The you that others think you are
  • The you that you want to be
  • The you that others want you to be
  • The you that you really are (and whom only God really knows)

Every one of us, whether we realize or acknowledge it, are navigating our lives through the prisms of these versions of ourselves. As we grow and mature, their intersections should be frequent and the tensions should gradually fade into one another. To those in our inner circles, these are almost seamless. The farther you pan out, however, the more the distinctions emerge; sometimes out of a necessity that is good and healthy, and sometimes without us even noticing.

The things we do, the way we speak to others, the decisions we make about what we will and will not do? These behaviors should be externally consistent, and for most ethical, moral, honest people, they are. None of that however, diminishes the internal tension, the struggles, the questions, the *stuff* that we all wrestle with on the inside.

When I look back over the things I’ve written, I am at ease, for example, with the contradictions between my internal feelings of mundaneness and the oft-stated expression of others that I might be in some way extraordinary. The “me that others think I am” or the “me that others want me to be” don’t cancel out the “me that I think I am”, or the “me I want to be”.

All of those Elspeths are reflected here. These words are an outpouring of the ambiguity that is the struggle between being, doing, and finding the balance. Maturity, I am learning, requires a fairly high tolerance for ambiguity.

Despite my many imperfections, there are some things about me that others have found commendable. These are simply two parallel truths[1]. One of the great regrets of my tenure writing this way in this forum is my naivete regarding the ability of people (including me at times), to appreciate nuances and unspoken realities that I assumed went without saying. I now know, and shall never forget, that nothing does.

There is only One Good, Perfect Being who has all His spit together, and I’m fine admitting that it ain’t me.

“…if you haven’t stood before God and been confused, you’re probably not standing before the real God”~ Steve Brown

[1] My favorite theologcal quote concerning the realty of truth in parallel lines can be found here.

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Uncategorized

Video killed the radio star

So much to say, so little time. This is worth every second of your 5-6 minutes. Trust me. Read, be blessed, go live.

Outside the boxes.

Hearth's Rose Garden

One of the questions that always bugs the modern is, “when did we stop dressing properly?”  My dad had the answer for this one, he said it started when TV came along.  At that point, our fellow humans were no longer our entertainment source, the box in our living room was.   He says he can remember the change, and how quickly it began.

I’m not on a rant about entertainment and socialization, because I use my glowing boxes as much as the next person.  But it’s interesting…. and what interests me is the division in our society between the Viewer and the Viewed, and how it’s crept into so many parts of our lives.

One of the things that I get when I go out in a long, full skirt is someone coming up to my shyly to compliment me on my “dress”.  That’s nice, of course… but when I…

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Common sense, family life, healthy living, Homemaking stuff, Uncategorized

Monday!!! – or – the week, on purpose

This is a good reminder and strategy for moving forward after the holiday madness ends. So I’m reblogging it.

BAY boxwood

Happy Monday!  I hope you’re well and off to a great start this week!

We had an active weekend – I use “active” on purpose, because we weren’t merely busy, we were doing fun things, running kids to different activities, hanging out at the house, discussing Thanksgiving plans, cooking a slow Sunday supper.  It was good – loosely planned,  edited as necessary.  Way better than busy – in fact, I detest being busy.  I enjoy active, though.

I don’t do particularly well with a rigid list of to-do’s, particularly since I’m a recovering over-scheduler (read: busy work maker) and even after 20+ years in Houston, I do not have a grasp on the reality of the relentless traffic.  Every hour is rush hour, here, and somewhere between errands 3 and 4 things go off the rails, timing wise.  Still, an outline is necessary, because I have goals, and people who…

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el's rabbit trails, family life, healthy living, Homemaking stuff, real living in a virtual world, things that make me go hmm...., Uncategorized

Parting Shots…

I’m going to take a holiday centered break from here beginning November 1st until after the Thanksgiving break. I fervently hope to be able to enter the Advent season with a relaxed mind and a focus on commemorating Christ’s advent into the earth. That means a lot of planning and shopping need to get done now so that I have the freedom to do that.

This is similar to a Frivolous Friday post, but in a more stream of consciousness vein.

~ Growing up:  This past Saturday SAM and I attended the homegoing celebration for the widow of a man from his childhood neighborhood. This man, an electrician, noticed when he was a little boy that SAM had a unique sense of how things worked, and a mechanically inclined mind. He would take him with him to electrical jobs and show him the ropes. Incidentally, we have lived in this house for a long time, have never called an electrician, and not because we’ve never had an electrical problem. The man’s door was always open to SAM and his brothers, and they came and went in his house, and this woman’s refrigerator just as if they were her kids. Her children had the same freedom at SAM’s parents’ house.

The interesting thing about occasions like that one is how strange it is to see people you haven’t laid eyes on in 20 or more years. Many of them I knew from the days pulling my beat up powder blue ’89 Ford Escort up to SAM’s parents’ house at the beginning of our relationship. It’s funny how people you think you’ll be connected to forever sort gradually fade from view as you build a family and grow into a separate person than the one you were when they knew you when. It has a surreal quality to it even as you are so happy to know that they are all alive and well. I can remember when I used to wonder how I lost touch with so and so. Now I know it’s just the way life is.

~ More surreality: I am not a person who hears from God directly as some do, but I had an eery experience recetnly.

I have tiered friendships. There are the couple of women I speak to on an ongoing basis. The ones I immediately pick up the phone to call or shoot a quick text to ask for prayer. There are others I see weekly (and have for years) as a result of our kid connections.

Then there are the friends I connect with maybe a few times a year: holidays, birthdays, etc. I can literally go months without speaking to them and out of the blue one of us will call or text the other and say, “Just thinking of you, friend. Love ya.” I woke up Saturday after having a dream about such a friend and her family. I hadn’t connected with her with since March. I didn’t call her right away, but I did pray for her. I was pretty busy so I shot her a text Sunday, to which she replied, “Oh my gosh…this was right on time!”, and preceded to tell me what challenging blow her family was dealt just last week.

It was definitely one of those things that made me sit up and take notice.

~ Brazen: I shared a story with Hearth (and another friend) the other day which sent us off on a very funny text conversation about a subject that isn’t particularly funny. Namely, the realtively shameless way many women comport themselves for the attentions of married men.

It’s not particularly shocking to me, since I don’t live under a rock, but it certainly puts to death this notion of the so-called sisterhood that feminists and masculinists try to put forth as a real thing. What sisterhood there are between women are not about being of the same sex. If it was, certain things wouldn’t be a thing at all.

I have a much greater respect for the woman who said to my husband a couple of weeks ago: “I know you’re off the market, but if you have a brother -or even a friend- who is available, set something up for me. I know your circle must some good men in it.” His circle does have some good men in it. Most of those old enough for her are already taken, though.

~Another day, another diet: So I’ve been flirting with the idea of the keto diet off and on for months. I haven’t been able to bring myself to bite the bullet on it, though, mainly because it’s the kind of thing for which there are no margins. I like margins. There is such a thing as too wide margins, and I know something about those as well. But NO margins? That’s daunting.

Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a go. I, as usual, could certainly stand to lose a few pounds. I’m always wrestling with the same 25. Up and down, up and down. But one of my overwhelming reasons for considering this is the pain I have been battling since I injured myself in late summer trying to impress the man with the heavy duty work I could get accomplished. He was impressed, but unhappy with my lack of priortizing my health.

Apparently something about keto affects the body in a way that relieves pain. I’ll let you know next month how I do with it. My bullet proof coffee this morning was delicious.

~App-oholic update:  So the man got me a new phone, because he just figured I needed one. The old one wasn’t broken. It just had a crappy camera and was always notifying me that I was about to run out of space.

The space problem was more about music, un-deleted text streams, and the myriad pictures and random kid videos that I never bother to transfer, but compared to his phone with years of information and 5 times as much music, mine was a relic. So he replaced it.

About a year ago, I went on right here about my increasing dependence on apps for things I would have found ridiculous a couple of years ago. Ahem. Since I got this phone, my app usage has gone up, not down.  Not only do I have the apps I mentioned before, but I’ve added even more: a HIIT trainer, parallel Bible app, and a put my WordPress app back on there. Oh yes, my Target Cartwheel app. I get a perverse pleasure out of that little cha-ching sound they text me when I combine a cartwheel discount with my red card savings. My husband added Spotify and Letgo because I need a classified app on my phone, I guess?

In other words, I’m wading in apps again. I figured I should confess it since I feel a little wormy about it. And I don’t even have Facebook!

So…this is the view from the rock bottom of app-oholic mountain.

I’ll be around a bit because wordpress app, but I don’t anticipate posting anymore before December. If you’re already well underway with your holiday preparations, do share!

 

 

 

cultural absurdity, family life, healthy living, Homemaking stuff, wife stuff

What is the point of our work?

Has God indeed said that we are to “work hard”?

I read this and it pierced me, because I can be so possessed with efficiency and fulfilling lists that I regularly find myself out of steam.

I set ambitious goals for all the *stuff* I want to accomplish, frustrating myself when I inevitably fail to get it all done. This striving continues for several days, and then crash and revert to doing the bare minimum. Usually on Mondays. I just need to try harder, I tell myself. Be more organized. Eat better and get more sleep so I will have more energy. Pray for more focus and concentration so I can get more done. The Protestant work ethic gone sour. Joshua Gibbs questions these notions for homeschoolers, but his ideas are easily transferable to the life of the home in general:

The idea of finishing a certain task in “a more timely fashion” was meaningless, for Adam and Eve had no expectation they would ever run out of time. Efficiency places value on time as a limited commodity, but for deathless beings, time is endless. Adam replies to his wife that man was made delight, for the love of God and the service of God’s friends, and that work exists that man might love God in his work. Work has no value in and of itself.

Granted, we do not live in such a world anymore. We do not have unlimited resources of time at our disposal, and it is possible for a man to run out of time without accomplishing all he needs to do. However, the imposition of time on our lives does not change the fact we were made for delight in God, not for work. Work is not the point of work. When a man obscures the love of God with his commitment to work, he becomes a slave. A slave lives in fear, as St. Paul suggests in Romans, for the slave is commanded from above with coercive threats. If a man neglects the knowledge of God in his work, he has been reduced to a chattel, for he regards himself as purely physical object.

My husband, ironically, is always encouraging me that I am doing fine, that I don’t need to be stressing this stuff all the time even as I insist that I am just trying to be a good wife to him. He says I am already a good wife; excellent even.

This begs the question: If God doesn’t want me to work purely for the sake of working, and my husband is happy and more concerned with his family’s overall quality of life than a perfectly executed checklist, where does this pressure I put on myself come from?

 

el's rabbit trails, How to pick a guy, wife stuff

Relationship compatibility, redux.

I’ve mentioned this before, but was reminded of it again after walking in on the tail end of a lengthy phone counseling session between SAM and a protégé. It occurred to me how much of the counsel being offered was -or should have been- garden variety. A culture which prize feelings above all would undoubtedly find his advice to this young man offensive:

  • When you’re wrong and you know it, apologize sincerely, but stop the groveling. You’re sending the wrong message.
  • If she says she wants or doesn’t want something and doesn’t mean it, call her bluff. Every time. Don’t help her perfect the habit of lying.
  • The pattern you  now is a precedent set when you marry. Is this how you want to start your life together? [my husband is BIG on precedents and patterns]
  • Stop allowing her to use your actions to justify her wrong behavior, and don’t ever use her actions to justify any of  your wrong behavior.
  • Women play on your emotions and hit you where it hurts when everything else is failing. Don’t get sucked in to that. You’re getting distracted from the real issue.

None of this offends me even when I am on the receiving end of it. I suspect it’s because I don’t come from a family dynamic where love was treated as synonymous with coddling. Love was patient and love was kind, but it also insisted on truth. This is also a bedrock principle in our home. Tell the truth- to yourself and to each other. It underscores every piece of advice I have ever heard my husband dispense.

I was reminded -again- of why it is important when couples marry, that they do so with a clear understanding of the commitment they’re entering, and in touch enough with themselves to know that the person with whom they are joining is someone they are equipped to adapt and adjust to.

There are general truisms about male and female nature which hold up in aggregate. However, within those are various personality types, family histories, strengths and weaknesses which affect individual relationships in unique ways. Generalities are not absolutes.

For example, among our adult daughters, there is one with whom a gentler man who wishes to please his wife would meet an equal sensitivity and eagerness to please. It wouldn’t occur to her to view him as weak, but loving. Being a loving soul herself, his nature would be rewarded so long as it is balanced with confidence and protectiveness.

Another daughter, however, probably won’t do as well with anyone less than a man who meets her father’s strength of personality. She is very aware of that reality. A man she could lead around by the nose is one whom she would make miserable. She would be miserable with him as well.

The third is mature, analytical, and highly adaptable. A highly sensitive man would be turned off by her reserved nature (and she by a heart on his sleeve), but she doesn’t need a man as dominant as her father in order to follow his lead. She could handle that kind of dominance and even enjoy it, but would have no problem submitting to a man who leads from a more laid back position.  He would, however, have to be an unapologetic leader.

None would be able to tolerate micromanagement because that’s not what they have grown up around, and it’s the antithesis of confident leadership. They need to be able to breathe freely.

Each of those examples serve to illustrate how our individual makeups matter in our relationships. Marriage and family are a delicate balancing act; an intricate microcosm of emotions, personalities, and traits which meld together beautifully when done well. They can be equally difficult without honesty, spiritual growth  and character development. Character growth is often uncomfortable, and we need someone who will help us persevere righteously through those periods of growth.

Attraction, shared faith, and shared values are important things, but they are not the only things. Intangibles are also important.

 

 

Common sense, el's rabbit trails, family life

Els-isms

Things that I say or have said to my kids at some point, and which I hope they take to heart and remember.

~ Life is full of little inconveniences and unpleasantries that have to be done anyway.

~ God sees even if no one else does.

~ Respect people’s right to be different from you.

~ Skirts and dresses cover a multitude of flaws that pants can’t help but accentuate.

~ Family will tell you to your face what other people will only say about you behind your back. Don’t be so sensitive.

~ Leisure is earned. We get work done before we play.

~ Take care of yourself while you’re young so it’s already a habit when you’re older.

~ You can change friends but you can’t change your family.

~ Women have more rights than men do now.

~ Don’t buy into the lie that not screwing, drinking, and partying means you don’t have a life.

~If drunkenness impairs the woman’s judgement, then it can also impair the man’s judgement.

~ Not everything we want to do is a right.

Some of these can lead off onto tangents that make my kids laugh at me, because they know what’s coming next is a cultural rant lecture.

 

How to pick a guy, wife stuff

In Which I Condemn Metrosexuality

I am -again- reheating up a leftover post from a time when I wrote from better-formed thoughts. This one is from 5 years ago as well, with a couple of edits to reflect the time lapse. I was reminded of it by something our 22-year-old daughter showed me.

I have never liked the trend of metrosexuality that exploded a few years ago, complete with male body washes, skin care, and lotions. It bugged me for so many reasons I can’t list them all here.  I can fully appreciate that men today want to look their best and smell good while doing it. There’s nothing wrong with that. The more I think about it however, the more I realize that there is more to this than that. This is different. This is more blurring of the sexes.

My dad wore his Old Spice and dressed as if he took pride in how he looked, but without that metrosexual vibe. He wasn’t obsessive about it. His shoes had a purpose, and it was largely utilitarian: black and brown dress shoes, work boots, slippers, sneakers. That was it. He didn’t see a need for a man to have a closet full of shoes. Shoes were something that women went gaga over, not men. There are times and places where you can still find a preponderance of men who are at home in their masculine element.

I have come to enjoy the atmosphere in Home Depot early on Saturday mornings. It has to be early, because that’s when the men who wake up with a sense of purpose and a plan are in there in old t-shirts, work jeans, with slightly dirty hands because they hit the ground running at the crack of dawn. It’s not uncommon for my husband and I to get out of bed early before the kids wake up if we have a project we’re working on, and head to Home Depot before the rush of DIY amateurs crowd the aisles.

I have always appreciated a man in a hardware store, with residue on his hands, picking up a tool or a box of screws. That guy who doesn’t automatically think to call someone when something in his house breaks because he can fix it himself. I get that same feeling at an auto parts store, but amplified because in my experience there are few men today who will dare tackle a repair on a newer car like my husband does. It takes confidence to do that, and he likes the challenge of it even though he can afford to pay someone to do it, and does when he doesn’t have the time to do it.

Yes, I realize that the men up under the hoods of their cars in the auto parts parking lot are most likely to be working class men, the dreaded “proles” who are oh-so-maligned in the dominant culture. And yes, I recognize that I reveal my lack of social status by saying this, but I have no problem with hard working, blue-collar men. They’re often manly in a real and visceral way.

We’ve forgotten that the pampered lives we’ve grown accustomed to would be much less pleasant without garbage men, HVAC guys or plumbers. As much as I love my husband in his Dockers, tailored shirts and white collar get up, there’s something different about him when he’s working hard, building, fixing, creating. Besides, I can actually understand the language of his hands-on work much better than I can his technological jargon, though I’ve gotten better over the years at deciphering that also. A tape measure and level, I can handle. Servers and switches? Not so much.

I’ve encountered fewer and fewer men in recent years who know anything at all about how to tackle an involved project and see it through to completion, doing a quality job. I know a few, but they are increasingly rare. I am tempted to chalk it up to limited time, but I can remember when no man I knew, regardless of how many hours he worked,  took his car in to have the oil or the brake pads changed. Now, I know more who don’t.metrosexual-man

There is something off about heterosexual men with keen fashion sense but no clue how to properly hammer a nail, change a tire, or use a mitre box. I’ve considered the fact that things are different now, that we live in the digital age and men don’t need to know how to use their hands the way they did when my father was a young man. It sounds plausible until I consider that my own husband is 44, with a STEM career. Nevertheless, there is a drive in him to work with his hands. To fix. To create. To build. I don’t see that in many men today.

The problem with the modern metrosexual man is the lack of discernible depth. It’s not as if there haven’t always been men who dressed well and appreciated beauty. It was that it was one part of their overall personas, and it certainly wasn’t the main thing. When all was said and done, they were men first: fathers and protectors, builders of civilizations. They certainly weren’t inclined to compete with their woman for the title of who looked the best. it was a given who should put the most effort into that. This is a new thing, these men hogging the mirror.

I don’t blame young men for this, and I don’t blame their fathers either, at least not entirely. I think a culture and society that has made fathers expendable and branded traditional masculinity toxic helped to create a generation of young men who lack the confidence that working with one’s hands instills. Having been raised mostly by women, they gravitate toward the things that interest women: fashion, grooming, and aesthetics rather than accomplishments.

For the record, I appreciate a well groomed man, and my own man takes care of his appearance: goatee trimmed, nails clean. matching belt with shoes, etc. This is not a promotion of slovenly manhood. Heaven forbid I recommend that. It’s one thing to not be vainly pretentious, but that’s no excuse for failing to put your best foot forward.  The point here, and I hope I making it well, is that there is a difference between being well groomed and preening in a feminine manner.

Unfortunately, as we have reduced male and female traits to nothing more than differences in plumbing, male and female psychology have been deemed social constructs. The result is metrosexuality on speed, indistinguishable in any meaningful way from the way women assert their femininity. Personally, I don’t care for it.

In the meantime, there’s always Saturday mornings at the Home Depot. Or better yet, Auto Zone.

American identity, cultural absurdity, Uncategorized

Exaggerations

One of the wonderful things about interacting with lots of different people -alongside the juxtaposition of virtual interactions- is that you get a sense of reality that is refreshingly distant from the narratives of media and online memes. Our daughter shared something with me last night that she heard somewhere else. Namely this:

‘The Internet is an exaggeration.”

I would add to this that the media is also a bastion of exaggeration. I often say this, and it’s true: There is no money to be made from happy, anxiety-free people.

That occurred to me this morning as I scanned the articles in my reader. It’s not as if I didn’t already know this, but there is clearly an antagonism and earnestness online over minutiae that one rarely encounters in the flesh. That is of course, unless the minutiae at hand is in important to someone.  In which case, it isn’t really minutiae, but you get my meaning.

This is where the media gets in on it, by finding the one child in 10,000 who died from some rare disorder and producing a 10-minute feature segment on it which tugs at the heart strings. To raise awareness. And anxiety, based on an exaggerated fear.

Another daughter noted that Richard Spencer will be in our neck of the woods very soon and that the governor has declared a state of emergency in the city where he will be speaking. This news gave me a sense of how easy it is for the self-proclaimed awake among us to usher the exaggerations from the airwaves and digital superhighway into stark reality.

Thankfully, for all the consternation from those on both the left and the right about the ignorant masses (I’ve been guilty of this myself), I couldn’t help but be somewhat thankful that the majority of Americans are too occupied with Facebook, Game of Thrones and daily life to really care much about these things. The reason American news is so filled with fluff and infotainment is precisely because most Americans have pretty much tuned them out.  They are trying desperately and unsuccessfully to draw the people back in but the people are occupied with other amusements and their own daily existence.

This is not without its drawbacks, but it’s not without its virtues either. Not being consumed with or even attentive to all of this fear baiting means taking the people that they encounter from day to day at face value, embracing or dismissing them on the merits of their interactions, and individual knowledge of their characters. It isn’t so much that we don’t know we’re divided, what divides us, or that trust levels are at an all-time low.

It’s just that the extroversion which characterizes the majority of human personalities -making Facebook, It, and the latest NFL kerfuffle more worthy of attention- also inherently appreciates the commonality of the human experience.

They’re leaving the debates, paranoia and arguing over minutiae to us introverts in the minority, who fancy ourselves awake, standing guard on the walls of Western Civilization as if we can save it from its just desserts, so that it escapes the fate of every other decadent and perverse empire in history. The 50 or so people who read here are pretty sharp, but for those who don’t know it: God is not mocked.

So be aware, but also look for, enjoy, and embrace the beauty in life; in all the ways and people through whom God expresses it.

 

wife stuff

The value of keeping score.

This is a rehash of an ancient – in Internet years-  post, but worth a repeat sharing.

Anyone who has been married more than a decade can appreciate that even the worst marriages have good years and the best marriages have crap years. Life is far less linear and far more messy than we often care to admit. I don’t mean the euphemistic “beautiful mess” which excuses things that need to be addressed. Just real life stuff.

Our marriage has been in what I would easily characterize as a golden age over the past few years. That’s saying something since we’ve always gotten on fairly well. That isn’t to say that there are never disagreements. They happen. The difference is one of keeping score. I learned several years ago the value of keeping score in my marriage, and it has made all the difference. I encourage other wives to keep a score card as well.

1 Corinthians 13 admonishes us that love keeps no record of wrongs, so we tend to view keeping score in a relationship an inherently negative. I challenge you to reconsider that idea. If you can keep a record of wrongs, does it not follow that you can keep a record of what is right?

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 which accompanies the discovery characterized by a new relationship.

However, that 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 great thing about this exercise is that it’s easy once you get the hang of it. You already love your husband, you married him, and you can easily think of several of his most complimentary features; physically, relationally, and practically. The problem isn’t that he has no great qualities*. The problem is that one of being mentally and emotionally lazy, not to mention selfish.

Lazy, self-centered minds find faultfinding easy to do. It’s the path of least resistance, which almost always takes us where we do not need to go. In this case, it leads to a stale marriage. In the most extreme case, it cause wives to assume a perfectly good marriage is broken because they’ve spent years rehearsing their husband’s faults to the exclusion of all else. As Christians, we are called to a higher standard:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8

Unequivocally: It is sinful to rehearse as a matter of habit, those things that are untrue, ignoble, unjust, impure, ugly, or of bad report. To meditate solely on that which is sinful or unworthy of praise, particularly with regard to the man we have vowed to help, submit and do good all the days of our life is a violation of Scripture.

So how do you do it? Easy. Pay attention. I was surprised at how much attention I wasn’t paying to certain things about my husband several years ago. I took for granted his good looks because I’d grown accustomed to looking at his face. It was actually a cashier at a grocery store who reminded me once as I left the store after my husband, who had walked ahead. “Is that your husband? He’s really handsome”, she said. Had I forgotten that?

I think I forgot it the same way I’d forgotten how rare it is  today to meet a man like mine, who can fix just about anything he puts his hand to. I have a real appreciation for men who build engines, tackle their own plumbing jobs, and know the difference between a monkey wrench, a box wrench, and a pipe wrench. You’d be surprised at the numbers of men who don’t. So when my husband put a new transmission in his car, I helped however I could and took care to note how manly it is that he can do all that. Manliness is alluring.

I have even learned to appreciate the blessing it is to be told “no”, when I’d rather hear “yes”. To be thankful that my husband cares enough about me and our family to stop me from doing foolish things. That one doesn’t usually kick in immediately. Like anyone, I want to have my way, but after I get my bearings and think it through, I am always grateful rather than angry.

Everywhere we turn, we are being bombarded with the message that something is missing. If our feelings are in anyway restless or discomforted, we’re told we need to blame something or someone. If we’re married, 9 times out of 10 we’re encouraged subtly and not so subtly to blame our husbands. Blame them for not giving us what we need. Blame them for not giving us what we want. Blame them because we are simply ungrateful and even that must be their fault. Our “friends” and family members perpetuate the nonsense.

Misery lives company. Also, there’s no money to be made from contentment, so consider the source when you seek advice diagnosing “problems” in your relationship. Better yet, consult Scripture and practice keeping score using Philippians 4:8 as your scorecard. It’s the best prescription for reinvigorating a marriage that I could ever recommend.

As a (wo)man thinketh…