I’m feeling mentally stodgy and sluggish. My mind isn’t a-simmer with things to write about, but I want to produce something—the chicken-cheese lasagna sitting on the counter waiting to go into the oven wasn’t enough of a creative production, I guess. (Maybe I should announce a game, such as “Incite Mama JJ: The person to suggest the topic that gets her the most fired-up wins.” Then again, that sounds rather dangerous. I don’t think I want to go there.)
In an effort to get my mental juices a-flowin’, I perused the chapters of our book, looking for some inspiration. The chapter on marital conflict holds all sorts of juicy stories, but they are long (we fight a lot) and detailed (to be fair, all sides must be duly expounded upon), making it rather difficult to find a post-appropriate excerpt. However, I did pick out one of the shorter stories to share. Maybe I’ll dig into the bigger picture later.
So, in regards to marriage…
Mr. Handsome and I have at various times sought outside help. Before our engagement we met with two people from my congregation to ask if they saw any red flags in our relationship. None? Okay then! On to premarital counseling and the wedding!
Off and on, since then, we have gone for counseling. Nothing earth-shattering has ever resulted from the sessions, though I always secretly hope that the counselor will wave a magic wand and say, “Sha-zam! This is The Problem and this is The Fix!” But a third person’s observations of our interactions forces us to articulate our thoughts and challenge each other in a more civil fashion than what usually happens when we’re in our home, out of sight of critical eyes.
We’ve also resorted to pop psychology from books and magazines. In one of those articles (I don’t remember which magazine I found it in) I read about a marriage covenant, so I got Mr. Handsome to sit down with me to outline our goals for our relationship so that we would have something to refer to when we had to make an important decision. Mr. Handsome was grumpy about the whole thing, but I persisted, typing up the results and sticking the paper to our fridge.
I’ve also read a book about love languages, the different ways that people give and receive love. Several months ago I proposed to Mr. Handsome that for one week we try to love the other person in the ways they want to be loved, not how we think they should be loved. Much to my disgust, he declined. “I don’t know how you want to be loved, and I don’t know what I want.”
“Bullcrap!” I yelled. But he wouldn’t budge.
This past weekend I proposed it again—“what do you have to lose, huh?”—and to my delight he agreed. We even shook on it. So from Saturday night at midnight till this Saturday night at midnight I am to think of what he needs and wants, anticipate him, and do everything in my power to make him happy.
But for me, the converse is much more difficult. How can I let go of my expectations and have faith that he will rise above his chronic self-absorption, as mom so nicely describes it, to take care of me?
Last night, coming home late, I caught myself wanting to complain about the unswept floor. He usually cleans it if I’m gone, and often when I’m not. Let it go, I chided myself. Just trust him. However, I wasn’t able to completely refrain and scrutinized the floorboards a little too pointedly (nagging dies hard). He noticed, but instead of making a snide comment or ignoring me, he said cheerfully, “Don’t worry, I’m going to sweep in a minute.” The communication was dizzying! Here was my knight in shining armor, broom in hand, fighting for my needs. I nearly swooned.
So maybe this would be a good new rule: just love your mate in his lingo.