How to Stay Married: Check In Creatively

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When I go out of town for service trips or conferences, I’m always caught between missing my wife and dog and enjoying the time spent with the students and colleagues. These trips are often times when I really get to know the students well, spend some real quality time with them and get to see them in a new light. I also grow close with colleagues on these trips and have a huge feeling of accomplishment by the end of the week or so.

But my wife is not here to share my joy. My dog is not here to enjoy things at the end of a long and hard working day. They, in turn, miss me. The dog in particular gets out of sorts when I’m not around.

And I’m terrible about calling. I get wrapped up in my work and forget to check in. An old colleague chastised me for that, “You need to call that girl and tell her you miss her and just tell her about your day!”

And so I do. But we’ve also come up with other things to remind one another of each other when the miles are distant.

I once set up a daily scavenger hunt around the house. A note hidden in a cookie jar, a chocolate hidden in a cabinet, an entire tray of her favorite cookies in a hidden spot in the pantry. And lots of notes leading to clues to find “me.” Pictures, etc.

For my wife’s part, I usually find a note or two, if there’s a long trip, they’ll be one per day. Shorter trips like this one usually have one note hidden somewhere amidst the packed clothing. I found this one yesterday:

Bun, (her pet name for me)
I feel like you will be gone so long.
Haze will really miss you. I’m going to miss you. Haze will be the man of the house. I love you and you’ll be in my heart. I know you’ll be doing good work.

I love you. Love, the bunner

Reason #7,146 as to why I married her.

Off to call my bride before the students arrive in force.

How to Stay Married: Celebrate Quirks with Humor

IMG_0405The other night my wife and I went out for a late night Chinese food meal at the end of a long day. I can usually decide what I want to eat at a restaurant quickly and easily. My wife on the other hand usually takes a rather lengthly period with the waitress or waiter coming back to our table two or three times before she has made a decision.

And even there she’ll usually have questions.

This night was no different. She didn’t want something too spicy (which should be translated as “not at all spicy”) and she began to search through the menu for something that would suit her palate. She had several questions for the kind waitress and time was growing thin as the kitchen was getting ready to close.

My head hit the table and I claimed to have died from hunger in the 10 minutes or so that she discussed options with the waitress.

Needless to say, my darling wife did not appreciate this. I think the waitress didn’t find me amusing either.

But regardless, I said to my wife: “You know what they are going to write on your tombstone?”

Marion: “No, what?”

Me: This was the 15th tombstone that she looked at before deciding on this one.”

Major laughter. Soda nearly came out my wife’s nose.

It gave me pause though that there are few people that can actually look at one another, at all their quirkiness and laugh. The truth is that I was annoyed by my wife’s quirkiness, but I have come to expect this and know that this is what I should expect from her. More importantly, I need to remember that I am in love with my wife–and that means that I am in love with all of her–not just the parts that don’t bother me, but also the parts that stretch me into loving the parts of her that annoy me.

And I know that there are parts of me that are hard to love for her.

Moreover, there are hard parts of all of us that are probably hard for God to love.

Might our stubbornness, our hatred, our tempers, our prejudices be difficult for God to love in us? And while God may in fact, hate those things about us, God still loves us in our entirety anyway and calls us to do the same for others.

So today, husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church, the people of God. That means even with some shortcomings, God is able to love us anyway.

Marion, I love you. May your choices at table remind me to be more patient in my life and remind me that the longer you take to order your meal, the more time I get to spend with you.