Where Was This Info When I Needed It?

My bride and I will celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary in a few days. I wish I could say it has been 33 years of wine and roses. Or,  for my legalistic friends, 30 years of Welch’s and practical cut flowers. But it has not always been easy. Neither one of us came into this little nuptial adventure with any idea of what we were doing. So I was a little disturbed to find an article that would have told me everything that women wished that men knew. How helpful that little bit of intel would have been in 1976 instead of 2009. But I decided to proceed to see if I had figured anything out by trial and consitent error.

The survey was a joint effort of Woman’s Day Magazine and AOL. The title of the article is “What we wish men knew”. Here are some of the findings with my totally objective self-evaluation of my beginning marriage grade and current grade.

When you tell him you’re “fine,” what you really mean is…

   I want to talk about what’s bothering me, even if I say I don’t: 43%
   I’m not fine, and no, I don’t want to talk about it: 34%
   I’m good, thanks for asking: 23%

It only took me 27 years or so but I did figure this one out. On the guy curve that makes me slightly above average.

1976 grade –  D
2009 grade – B+

You can tell your husband is listening when he…

   Looks me straight in the eyes: 42%
   Does the talking. Then I know he’s listening: 20%
   Nods his head in agreement.    11%

My wife knows that my nodding my head in agreement only indicates that my head is still attached. Even looking her straight in the eyes does not necessary mean I am residing on the same planet at that moment. I think I have lots of room for improvement in this category.  

1976 grade - F
2009 grade – D-

What’s missing most from your relationship?

   Physical intimacy—holding hands, kissing: 35%
   Conversation. He thinks communication happens during halftime: 27%
   Time alone. We’re in desperate need of a vacation—sans children: 22%
   Nothing. I couldn’t ask for a more fulfilling relationship: 16%

First of all, the conversation phraseology in this question is slanted. Every thinking man knows that communication can also occur during commercials and replay challenges. But I digress. Hard to grade this one. 

What household chore would you most like your husband to help with?

      Just take out the trash!: 31%
      Cooking. He makes a mean hamburger: 30%
      Laundry. How hard is it to put a load in?: 23%
      There’s no way he can make the bed the way I like it. I’d rather do it myself: 16%

It is not hard to put a load in. It is a little harder to get the clothes back out in the same color and size. My current grade on this topic is definitely better. We do disagree at times on the need to dust. Joni can spot subatomic particles while I need a dust-ball to be the size of a chihuahua to notice. For that area of needed growth I give myself a B + .

You would rather marry a man who…?

   Makes you laugh like Will Ferrell: 54%
   Has more money than Bill Gates: 21%
   Is mysterious like Robert DeNiro: 15%
   Has washboard abs like Matthew McConaughey: 10%

Thank God that Joni was in the majority here. I could make her laugh and she somehow did not notice the rest of the presentation. I did not score any points for money, mystery and especially for washboard abs. Still my abs can be described by a laundry room item. They, unfortunately, are Downey Soft.

 After a bad day, you’d like him to…

      Give me a hug: 54%
      Listen to my problems—without trying to solve them: 21%
      Offer to make dinner and put the kids to bed: 18%
      Fix me a drink (a cold Nehi Orange for my legalistic friends): 7%

Getting better. It took awhile to learn the try not to solve the problems part. It is hard for men to understand the concept of talking without having to reach a conclusion. Weird.

1976 Grade – C
2009 Grade – B +

The survey reported that 64% said they would rather be with a man who is poor and attractive than rich and unattractive.

I wish I could believe that. My anecdotal experience tells me the percentages are likely reversed.

Another ladies magazine (Ladies Home Journal) used to run a feature called “Can this marriage be saved?”.  I suspect if we had been honest with the therapist during our early years the prognosis would have been bleak. But we had two things going for us. We believed that the commitment we made on July 17, 1976 was binding. So we had to choose to make it work or choose to be miserable.  

Second, we both had a commitment to our faith in Christ. Jesus was clear that the plan was for a marriage to stay together.

But God’s plan was seen from the beginning of creation, for `He made them male and female.’`This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one,  let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.”  (Mark 10,  NLT)

Apart from Jesus I suspect that Joni and I would not have made it. That should be the story of more Christians and not that the divorce rate is not much different for Christians than the general populace. That is just unbelievable to a cynical, watching world. This is not about making anyone feel guilty. I know that sometimes a marriage simply cannot continue. But I suspect that many could have been saved.

I am so grateful that we stayed together. I am so grateful that Joni was patient enough to allow me to figure some of this stuff out. These surveys are fun and can even be instructive. But for me trying to learn how to love my bride like Christ loves His church is even better than taking the garbage out. I still have a long way toward that goal. The loving her like Christ loved the church one. It should be keep me busy for the rest of our nuptial adventure.