Thursday, August 03, 2006

Marriage thoughts

In my journeys around the blog world this week, I’ve noticed that several of my blog friends are focusing attention on their husbands. Joy is focusing on blessing her husband. Lindsey talked about romancing her husband. Jenn talked about being nice to hers.

I think this is just the best thing ever!

I have been married for a really long time. In fact, I have been married for two years longer than I was ever single (we’ve been married 21 years; do the algebra, you math people)! I would like to tell you that it’s all been roses and sunshine.

But reality is, in all our years of marriage, I have had plenty of conflicts with my dear, sweet husband. When we committed “until death do us part” we meant it, which is good, because even though time has toned down my feistiness quite a bit, I look back on some times in our marriage that were particularly trying, and I see how easy it would have been for my husband to say, “She’s just impossible - I’m outta here!“

I was just thinking about some of the things that have caused tension in our home over the years and I‘m appalled at the thread of selfishness on my part that has been at the root of just about every argument.

Here are some of the random topics that have caused heated debate around
here at one time or another:

1. Going to school - Who goes first, who puts the other
through, how many degrees is enough?

2. Working - How much overtime/travel is too much? Job
changes, career changes?

3. Home life- How to load the dishwasher properly, who
does the shopping, how low to cut the shrubs, how much to spend on a light

4. Extended family/In-laws - How many times to visit, how
to deal with conflicts, how involved in our lives do we let them

5. Church/Ministry issues - Where to attend, how many
hours to volunteer, how much should we entertain, which ministries should we be
involved in?

6. Having children - When to start our family; when to
have another (I have had the distinct pleasure of telling my husband, twice,
that I was “unexpectedly” pregnant); how many?

7. Raising children - the number of discussions we’ve had
would be too long to list. How about starting with how long to let a baby cry
and methods of diapering, and ending with should we allow our daughter to attend
public school socials?

8. Educating children - Homeschool, public school,
university model school (we could not even financially consider Christian
school, so that has not been an issue). When to consider changing one of the

9. Financial issues - How much is enough (house, car,
clothing, vacations)? What lifestyle are we wanting to live and how do we
accomplish it?

10. The number one thing on every red-blooded husband’s
mind - and I am NOT talking about what’s for dinner.

(I should probably add one about time spent blogging…it will be a future
dialogue, I’m sure!)

Okay, these are just off the top of my head.

At the time of each of these little chats, I selfishly felt I had a right to “win.”

In hindsight, most of these are not what I would consider moral issues; they are preferences.

And in the long run of my marriage am I willing to win (and right here, right now!) at one of these arguments if it means I lose my husband, taking him down one round at a time?

I think not.

We are still not very good at the mechanics of dealing with conflict (I come from a non-confrontational home, but that‘s for another post!), but I am learning:

- I just don’t need to win every time. I’m learning to pick my battles better .

-As Joy is sharing, and as Linda Dillow says in Creative Counterpart, I am learning that God has a way of dealing with my husband in our areas of disagreement that is so much more effective than my nagging.

I can totally attest to this.

-And the most important lesson of all - we are going to be together for a very long time - do we really need to resolve this tonight (virtually all of our arguments are after 10 p.m.- coincidence? I don’t think so.)?

Patience is a virtue with big payoffs.

So I ask myself:

What would happen to my marriage if:

-I picked up the crying baby when my husband’s tolerance level is reached and not my own (as long as I don’t see blood, I can stand it a REALLY long time)?

-I didn’t rearrange the dishwasher after he attempted to load it?

-I cooked his favorite foods, even though I really don‘t care for them?

-I asked him how he felt before I committed to another year of our current educational structure?

-I met him at the door with “the look” that indicated that #10 above could be on his evening horizon (do ya think he might be more inclined to help get the kids off to bed?)?

Just some random thoughts.

In all my busy-ness as a mom, I want to remember that the best gift I can give my kids is a mom and dad that love each other - forever.

If I lose a few battles along the way (translation: I leave the outcome to the Lord), but win the war (my marriage), I’d say it’s totally worth it.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility
consider others better than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3


Jennifer said...

I love the ideas you have listed here and I'm trying to commit to some of the same things. =)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being so honest in this post! I loved it.

Lori said...

Good timely post... I was a grumbling wife last night (even if it was mostly underbreath). But I know that is not the way to be. thanks for your words of wisdom.

Wendy said...

Great post! So very true about picking your battles and winning the war. Great ideas that you listed.

voni said...

"In all my busy-ness as a mom, I want to remember that the best gift I can give my kids is a mom and dad that love each other - forever." No matter what:)
Thanks, once again you wrote a great post.

Kristina at Learn2Luv2Run said...

Great post, thanks for the reminder!

Jen said...

I think this is nailed it. What a great inspiration to look at and read. Thank you for reminding me of these things.

Susanne said...

We usually associate "picking our battles" with the thought of teenagers in mind. But what a good thing to actually apply this also in our relationship with our husband. When it comes down to it, how many of my major battles with hubby was worth the time, energy, stress and peace out the door for me to have the victory. If I'm honest; precious few.

Thanks again, Katherine for another great post that makes me take a good look at the way I do things!

Anonymous said...

The best marriage wisdom I have heard was at the open mike at my girlfriend's wedding:

Her 90 year old Grandpa got up and said: "In my many years of marriage, my wife and I have discovered something: every fight we have ever had and will ever have can be boiled down to one simple thing: at least one of us is being selfish."

Sometimes I think I end up making conflicts in my own marriage much more complicated than they really are.

"Love covers a multitude of sin"

Chris from Canada

Millie said...

That's really awesome - how funny that you can pinpoint all your issues so clearly. Most of ours boil down to me being a brat, generally. But every so often Hubby pulls out one of his own.

I have friends who treat their husbands so poorly that I wonder why these men stay married. These friends could stand to read your post. I'm not bad, but I can stand reading it too. ;)

Good for you! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Very insightful.

Annie said...

Very nice post. It is a great reminder of the things that are truly important.

Randi said...

My hubby and i have been married for 19 years. We have learned so much about communication and we have so much farther to go! We both came from homes where the communication was unusual--my home was silent, his was over-controlling--so believe me when I say that our marriage has had its challenges. I guess it is lucky for us that we have our whole lives to figure this out!

Andrew McAllister said...

Hi Katherine,
With that post, you could be a poster child for the types of issues covered on To Love, Honor and Dismay. I really like the way you balance your own needs with those of your husband and children. Above all else, that might just be a formula for a winning relationship!

T.S. Eliot said...

This is why your blog is so good. You're striving to live a God-centered life in a God-centered family, and you tell great stories of what has worked for you over the years. Thanks for your honesty and timely verses to back up your points. As a mother (for 11 months) and a wife (for 4 years) I'm greatful to have an online "mentor".

Thanks, Katherine.

Stephanie said...

*sigh* I just love your blog. I wish I could sit down with you over coffee and pick your brain about kids and raising them, and getting along with husbands, and everything!

Anonymous said...

Just lovely! Do you mind if I save this for future use?

PS: I linked you from "What on Earth is that Smell"

Anonymous said...

Amen. I love it. I actually printed this blog and stuck it in my journal so I could be reminded of some of this awesome wisdom. We have been married for 4 years and it has been up and down. We are in a positive, peaceful place right now but that can change at any minute.
I try to keep in mind that it is not about either of us winning but about the marriage winning!
Thanks for sharing!

Shawna said...

Very eloquently said. GREAT post! You are right on the money.

Code Yellow Mom said...

Another "home run" post...great thoughts!