marriage

Let me explain how this marriage works.

A casual observer into my marriage would assume, because I’m the noisy one, that I run the show. They’d see me flapping my lips and my arms and hopping from room to room, coming up with all manner of ideas for our family and also shouting my opinion rather ceaselessly.

They’d see Eric calmly watching the circus that is his wife, and might incorrectly assume that he’s passively letting me do whatever I want.

No.

Not even a little bit.

The man is a ROCK. He is IMMOVABLE. I could pick up my van with my bare hands and heft it to the next city before I could get Eric to do something he doesn’t want to do.

That’s how this marriage works, dear reader. It’s my job to come up with a terrible, ridiculous idea (or two) literally every single day.

It’s his job to deflect that terrible idea every single day. On a weekend when we’re both together and I have more free time, he might literally have to tell me no or stare me down from sunrise to sunset, which is when he finally hands me a glass of wine to quiet me down.

For example, I tried to move our family of four into a tiny house. This assault lasted over a year.

Seriously. Now I want one all over again! (Photo courtesy of hgtv.com)

For example, I tried to talk him into moving to Dubai last month.

Come on, honey! We could get a camel! (Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com)

For also example, I also tried to talk him into buying a $400,000 lake house when he refused the Dubai idea.

I present my ideas and flutter my eyelashes and wait for him to acknowledge that I’m a genius. He waits a moment, phrasing his answer just so, and then gently points out the logic that renders my plan unworkable. “Your logic is ruining my day!” I shout in his direction. He smirks.

I’m sure the man must be exhausted. But I also think he’s amused and finds this circus endlessly entertaining, so he lets it roll onward.


And here’s the thing– I don’t actually feel bad about this dynamic in our marriage. If I didn’t come up with a hundred terrible ideas, I probably wouldn’t get around to the sparkling, amazing, stupendous ideas, either. One of us needs to be dragging us forward, and the other one needs to be the brakes so we don’t run straight off the cliff into a tiny lake house in Dubai.

I know that from outward appearances, my attempts at being a wife probably fail every litmus test for submission, quietness, gentleness, or self control. But deep on the inside, I know my husband. I know when I’ve crossed the line from fun-wife to poopy-head-wife. Out of respect for him, I try to stay on the fun side of that line.

And out of love for me, he does occasionally concede that an idea might be a good one, and we move forward. Cautiously. Oh, so cautiously.

I firmly believe there’s no one perfect kind of marriage. Just like with good parenting, there are lots of ways to have a great relationship. And really, outward appearances count for little. What goes on during the quiet afternoons, the early mornings, and the long car rides– when it’s just the two of you working it all out together– counts more than failing to live up to standards that have nothing to do with you two as people.

“You be you,” as our thirteen year-old says. Your marriage is what you make of it, good and bad, just like we individual humans are what we make of ourselves. Even if what we make of ourselves is kind of crazy, with really terrible ideas.

This is how a marriage works. May our relationships flourish and grow as we care for one another in our deeply individual ways.

 

 

 

Of grace, and minivans, and marriage

We had a bone of contention in our marriage for about a decade.

I wanted a minivan and I wanted one with all my heart and soul and mind.

My husband felt like a minivan would be the stamp of death upon his heart and soul and mind.

And so it went for years and years.

Two years ago I started a new job and said, “I’m getting a van, good sir.” My good sir saw the fire in my eyes and the actual money from my paycheck and finally gave in. Also, it helped that our car at the time was a pitiful wreck, full of melted crayons and smashed goldfish crackers and a transmission that was about to die.

We found the perfect van for our family and budget and I gloried in it for two years. I put the seats down and hauled home furniture. I put the seats up and hauled around people. We took it on vacation and stuffed it full of all manner of junk.

grace-minivan-marriage

 

But after some time, I had more trouble than I cared to admit. I was afraid to back it out of the garage because the dang van is a bit too wide and I knew I was running the real risk of ripping off a mirror. One day, while carefully monitoring the mirror, I got too close to the lawn mower and ran that over instead.

It’s almost fine. Barely crushed at all.

We will not discuss how I now park waaaaay far out in the store parking lots, simply because I’m not skilled enough to fit it into narrow spaces next to other cars.

And lately I find myself alone in a huge, room sized vehicle. The kids are in school and are far too old for car seats and strollers and all the other things that make minivans delightful. I mean, I guess I could have a few more kids and then fill the minivan back up, but I don’t think that’s the real solution I’m looking for, here.

And so, I looked my husband in the eye and said, “It’s time to sell this thing.”

To his everlasting credit, he didn’t laugh at me. He didn’t smirk, or giggle, or even say I told you so.

He did, however, immediately pull up the car listings on the internet and start looking for a new vehicle.

This whole example feels a little silly, but it’s a beautiful thing to offer grace to a spouse. To give in and let her have the thing she’s wanted for a long time, no matter how much you hate it.

To humbly admit to him that the thing you wanted for so long isn’t as glorious as you thought it would be.

To not mock her when she says she’s actually like to drive the ancient Corolla instead of the roomy van.

To not say a single word about the wobbly wheel on the crushed lawnmower, even.

Grace, minivans, marriage.

Amen.

 

Excitement and Panic

Things are exciting around this joint, I tell you. The new walls are finally getting some paint, and the kids are back in school with a full social schedule, and my book’s publication date is finally growing near. It has been so far off, forever, that it seemed probable that it would never actually arrive.

But just like any huge event that lurks in the distance, the date eventually arrives. There’s a Green Plastic Monkey in my Purse will be published in the beginning of March. Just this week I got an email from the publicity department asking me for all sorts of details that they will use to publicize the book far and wide. This caused me some mixed emotions. On one hand I feel excitement from the top of my little red-head to the tips of my tiny little toes. (All the parts in the middle are much larger, I’m afraid. I just have a little head and little toes. Genetics are such a beast.)

Here I present my tiny little toes. Just for you. Because I love you all.
Here I present my tiny little toes. Just for you. Because I love you all.

On the other hand, sheer panic stung right through me when I sat down to fully comprehend what is about to happen. You know that feeling when someone drags you on a roller coaster, and you finally reach the top of the first hill? You look down and you think, “Oh, dear. Dearie, dearie, dear.” You aren’t sure you’re ready, but you know you’re strapped in to a moving cart someplace near the clouds. Getting out is not an option. So you sit tight and hope that no one dies.

No one is going to die, here. I’m quite certain. But I am wrestling with a similar sort of panic. And to top it off, I’ve started a new book proposal. Since the first book is about parenting, I thought it might be a nice complement for the second book to be about marriage. I have an outline, and Scripture chosen, and a few good reference books waiting. But the more I write, the less this book is about marriage. So far I have 4,500 words written on how not to be a selfish idiot. Anyone who has ever been married or in any other human relationship knows that this is a good place to start a book, but still. The more I write the more confused I become.

I take comfort in knowing this has happened before, and it will happen again. Life is confusing. We struggle. We wrestle. And by and large, if we do not give up, that struggling and wrestling works some sort of magic and the process moves along. Things become clear again. We see the end result.

We aren’t the only ones who wrestle, either. Jacob wrestled with God. John the Baptist struggled with doubt. Jesus struggled in prayer before He died. If these godly men had to work out their faith and get through a difficult process, I can do the same.

But what do you all think—should I go for the marriage book, or the do-not-be-a-selfish-idiot book?

This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

“What is your name?” the man asked.

He replied, “Jacob.”

“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” (Genesis 32:24-28, NLT)