Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Wife Handbook - $9.99

"They, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives." 1 Peter 3:1

I often believe that I have missed the boat with the covenant of marriage. I have many skills, but I'm not sure that I'm particularly gifted in the execution of what I know to do - versus what my mouth and mind collaborate on. To that end I can sometimes struggle with being the wife I aspire to be. Yet, as we approach 12 years of marriage I'm sure I can offer a few lessons in the handbook for consideration.

Gratitude is Contagious

I made my husband lunch this week and he sent me an email message thanking me for my attentiveness and my efforts to feed him. I was delighted. By Martha Stewart standards - heck, by my own standards - it was no great lunch. As I packed the kids snacks and lunch for the day I assembled the traditional grade school fixins with a few extra doses of fruit. In return my husband was motivated to let me know how much it matters to him when those little packages are delivered as a reinforcement that "Somebody loves ya baby!"

It is so very simple. At a stressful time of tight resources I somehow manage to find enough for chocolate milk, Rum Raisin ice cream, Cranapple Juice and a few other non necessities. In fact, since I have given up my Starbucks and coffee for Lent, I see just how quickly those extras can add up. Love languages mean many things to different people but I'm learning the power of simple thoughtfulness. He had gratitude for lunch and I in turn thought about some of the things I'm thankful for.

The Wife Handbook didn't tell me when I got married that I would value the killing of spiders. On the contrary I was raised to handle domestic issues on my own. I don't require anyone to help me in that situation - but I prefer it. I prefer my husband putting fuel in the car, taking out the garbage, checking the tire pressure and a myriad of things that I consider perks. I just recognized this week that I rarely say anything about them - ever. I have however started to realize just how contagious gratitude can be.

I am thankful that I don't do the bedtime routine for my children most nights. I used to feel incredibly bad that I would rather take a deep breath then fight through one more hour of routine. Kissing those little faces is a wonderful joy and I don't underestimate its powerful touch on a very hard day. I decided some years ago that this was an experience that I would happily share with my husband as he created his memories. Throughout the day I have a variety of little mommyisms that will forever define my time with my children. Daddy has a special way of doing bedtime that sends screaching voices running up the steps to avoid being caught by the tickle monster of the title of Rotten Stinky Egg. I appreciate that he takes that time on at the end of the day and I still get many a kiss, hug and I Love You - even if every bed time story is not mine. I appreciate that about my husband.

I appreciate that in 12 years of marriage his words have been kind. I could quote 1,500 scriptures, stories and lessons about the power of the tongue and mine is still not tame. My husband has worked to use his words in a way that does not destroy even at the most intense fellowship times. I am thankful that on many days he'd rather be happy than right, a skill learned later in life as I look upon my own growth and maturity.

After spending many years thinking about the Princess Wedding that never was, I have come to appreciate our simple choice in many ways. We are still married and in the covenant for the long haul. Even though we did not have an elaborate celebration our 12 years speaks to something stonger than I imagined. I may have one of those big anniversary parties one day, but my life doesn't hedge on when it will happen. I get unexpected compliments on a regular basis about my wedding ring, the traditional symbol of the marriage union. For many years I had a slow growing discontent that my ring wasn't all that I had dreamed. Sometime around our 7th year anniversary my dear husband remedied that issue no questions asked. I'm not in awe of the diamond unless you are referring to my husband himself. The simple band that now compliments is a reminder that small steps can be miraculous when done in synch with someone else.

Our society treats marriage as disposable. I can only imagine the feelings of Sarah and Abraham after a lifetime together of not having their deepest hearts desires met. Sarah, much like me, tried to solve the situation on her own. How often have you tried to fix a problem only to make it larger? In our current treatment of relationships there is little earthly reward for commitment and resilience. I believe we have both. I am encouraged by the fact that God used this couple in their older age and maturity to teach valuable lessons about faith and being faithful. Those lessons need to be taught to aspiring couples today.

The Wife Handbook has so many lessons to teach. My satisfaction in marriage today rests in the contagious nature of gratitude. I am thankful for my husband and his grace for me. Now...I might talk about some other issues in later posts, but for today, GRATITUDE.

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