In our many meetings with married men over the years, we discovered a pattern that contributes more to the destruction of a marriage than we realize. It’s called bickering, characterized by nasty digs, one-ups and put-downs delivered in a tone of voice suggesting that the one delivering them is far superior to the one receiving them and expects the latter to acknowledge that fact while on their knees. It begins in the early stages of a relationship with seemingly good-natured little references to what might be called a fault.
Repeated often enough, they become a fault-in-fact and get added to the collection and are soon delivered with gusto. It becomes a competition determining who can make the opponent feel worse, never mind who is right and who is wrong. Sad, because so many couples have failed to realize that all they have to do is STOP, agree to trade all that in on a hug and a smile, and a resolve to put the respect
back into the relationship.
Henri Nouwen has a great way of describing relationships. When two people first meet, one usually reveals something about herself/himself and puts it in the space between, to encourage the other to do the same; this exchange continues, back and forth, until the space between becomes filled with the two qualities that make for a strong relationship, respect and trust. Respect for one another, trust in one another.
That’s the kind of relationship that exists in our caregiving program. When we first meet with someone going through one of life’s trials, we establish that respect and trust by agreeing to talk openly, honestly and completely, assured that whatever is revealed remains in the space between the two of us. Of course, we hope the Creator has been listening in, too, and makes His presence known.
Ever wonder how people in other countries picture us?
Here’s how they see America:
Fortunately, Americans average 15 laughs per day.
Hope is a word we use all the time.
Aristotle said, “Hope is a waking dream.”
Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches on the soul, and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”
Most of the time, we hope for something to happen, or something we can’t make happen, or don’t want to happen, as in, “I hope he isn’t thinking about buying a new car.” Once in a while we do hope, and pray, in a spiritual way, and of course, we hope that our prayers are answered. We are assured that God will answer them, in his time and his way. His way kind of reminds us that we aren’t in total control down here.
“I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.” That quote is pure Rodney Dangerfield, and we can all relate to it. Funny how we still judge one another based on how much money we make, on our possessions. We say that money isn’t important, yet we never have enough. Most of the time, we don’t have enough compared to our wealthy neighbor, or enough to join the country club, or have a summer home on the lake or pay our kids’ tuition at a private school. We could feel inferior pretty quick, even a little resentful. Only natural. But then, we see that the rich aren’t any happier than those of us who have learned to get along on less.
“He doesn’t talk to me.”
What she means is talk to me about anything important to our relationship. She’s right. And the truth is that most of us don’t talk to each other about things we consider personal or private. Like sex. Studies have shown that couples have never discussed their sex contract, because the subject is too personal or private.
Too Personal? Private? The most intimate, continuous, shared experience of the partnership is never discussed? Talk about a missed opportunity. And the real tragedy is the precedent we establish: we don’t talk about sex because it’s too personal, therefore, we don’t have to talk about anything else we consider personal. So we go through married life not really talking to each other.
80% of the men in a recent survey, if they had it to do over again, would marry the same woman. That’s pretty good.
Unfortunately, only 50% of the women would marry the same man. Wow! We ask, “Are men that bad as husbands?” Or are women that disappointed in the man they thought they married? Or a presumption gone South: they thought they could change him.
Adjustment to one another is something we have to work on continuously, because the conditions keep changing, especially when the kids join the party.
Did you read where the average person has seven sexual fantasies every day?
I don’t believe it, but just think, if only we could harness those fantasies and re-direct them to our partners in the bedroom, what a happy lot we would be. We might experience a resurgence of energy that would sweep the nation. Imagine, a whole nation of people walking around with a smile on their faces. Stands to reason: the male half of our population, 47% in a recent survey, rated a good sex life more important than making money.
Unfortunately, only 26% of the women shared that view.
Woody Allen, the famous philosopher, once said, “I don’t believe in afterlife . . . but I’m taking a change of underwear just in case.”
How do you feel about afterlife? Do you think your soul will go wafting through space and finally meet up with St. Peter? Or do you think your soul might stay right here, just out of reach and invisible, of course, but connected, connected to the family and friends you left behind. Your soul becomes the messenger, from the Creator and to the Creator.
Does that sound crazy?
I used to meet every week for over a year with another old guy, and we would take turns suggesting a topic to talk about. One time, he had been reading about the universe, that there could likely be 400 other planets out there with the same characteristics and natural resources as ours.
We said, “Suppose the Creator was having some fun setting up a competition to see which ones, or maybe which one, could live in peace. Or, at the very least, could live up to his request . . .simply to love him and love one another.
Where do you think we would end up in the competition?
One of the virtues of sculpting is that you can be thinking of something else while your hands are busy creating something that will be cherished for a lifetime. My something else is usually someone else’s problem.