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Opinion Column

 

June 16 - 22, 2002

The Wise Spouse

 The wise spouse doesnít take anything for granted. The spouse is thankful to be loved and seeks ways to make him/her self more loving.

The wise spouse doesnít permit him/herself to be a liability but strives to be an asset to the marriage. The spouse looks for ways to make, save, and use money wisely. The spouseís beloved knows that her/she is richer by the marriage.

The wise spouse seeks to be part of the belovedís life. Oneís interest becomes the otherís interest. The wise spouse looks for ways to help the beloved in every endeavor. When the beloved needs a helping hand, the first one should be the hand of the wise spouse.

The wise spouse knows that he/she can give or withhold peace of mind for the beloved through conversation and observations concerning circumstances or people. The wise spouse limits conversation to the positive.

A wise spouse does not fill his/her mind with pornography or romance novels. Excitement and passion is reserved for the beloved.

The wise spouse sets a joyful mood in the home. Using laughter, music, and happy times the wise spouse stirs the beloved and the children to joy. The wise spouse knows that lightheartedness and grace reduces stress.

The wise spouse gauges the belovedís needs, fulfilling desires before he/she is even aware of them. The wise spouse meets every desire.

The wise spouse does not lie, but is gracious.

The wise spouse does not ever abuse the beloved, physically, emotionally, or sexually.

The wise spouse understands that the beloved needs to be honored and respected not based on the belovedís performance, but instead on the belovedís position. The wise spouse embraces with enthusiasm the belovedís ideas and plans.

The wise spouse is not whiny, complaining, pitiful, or entitled. Instead, the wise spouse seeks to be confident, capable, graceful, and thankful.

The wise spouse does not fantasize about the "roads not taken." The wise spouse realizes that he/she is not Godís gift to the opposite sex. The wise spouse realizes that he/she is blessed by the marriage and learns to be content.

The wise spouse does not use mood-altering substances, become addicted, alcoholic or a user of illegal drugs. A wise spouse keeps his/her body fit.

The wise spouse never expects to be served, thus is never disappointed. The wise spouse is a giver, a helper; and is an example to the children of cheerful and energetic service to others.

The wise spouse doesnít attempt to instruct the beloved through feigned questions. Questions should be sincere inquiries, not traps.

The wise spouse is eager to learn, is open to change, and ready to listen. A wise spouse does not cloud his/her mind with foolish folly of common entertainment. The wise spouse uses his/her time wisely for the beloved and the family.

The wise spouse realizes that the best gift he/she could give to the children is to love the beloved wholeheartedly.

Adapted from Debi Pearlís

A Wise Woman Builds Her House

No Greater Joy

 

 

June 25 through July 9, 2001

 

Courtship and 

the "Retro" Dear Mrs. Web

 

Dear Mrs. Web's

Occasional Opinion

 

Today when browsing through the different links to Dear Mrs Web, I came across a link that described the Dear Mrs. Web site as a "retro" perspective in matters of dating and courtship. Retro! Dear Mrs. Web! 

Can you imagine?

Itís odd how perspectives differ. When Dear Mrs. Web thinks of retro, the hollow sixties, and seventies immediately her mind: Flower power. Free love, free sex, no commitments. Remember that old chestnut: "donít hold onto your love, if he leaves, you never really had him?" Yuck!

Back then sex cured everything. Inhibitions were passť. Consenting adults were meeting their "needs." Women scoured discos and bars looking for Mr. Goodbar. Divorce was considered good for the children. Music was all beat, no lyrics. Spouse swaps. "As long as I am happy, the children will be happy." Free school. Filled divorce aftermath workshops. Moreover, who can forget the terrible clothes?

Dear Mrs. Web cannot think of anything more retro or tiresome than that era of freedom without responsibility. Juvenile impulses were unleashed across the nation. We are still mopping up the mess today, 30 years later. Our country has young adults who have never seen a solid marriage, and has a population that craves that their every whim satisfied. 

Marriage is now seen an option, not a lifelong commitment. Couples now consider children add-on features, to be accepted or rejected, not precious gifts to be loved unconditionally. So-called adults are involved in strings of consecutive marriages or uncommitted relationships as a way to meet their lifelong needs, avoiding any of the needed compromise and character-building that comes with life-long love and commitment

We live in a world where the art of choosing a true life-mate has been lost. Those retro years have wiped out this fund of knowledge from our consciousness. We enter uncommitted emotional and sexual bonds with likely, or in many cases, unlikely, members of the opposite sex. We dance on the edge of knives in these relationships fearful of hurt, wary of commitment. 

Meanwhile we wait for stars to line up pointing to the best life-long mate. For we want love desperately. We want commitment, happiness, and a future with a forever beloved.

We end up with morning-after doldrums. Wreckage of past relationships and heartbreaks wash up on the shores of our battered hearts. We are pained and puzzled. We have been obedient and followed our cultural directions carefully. We have gone out, dated, hooked up, played house, and married. It has not worked. We have given away so many pieces of our heart that what we have left is bruised, cautious, fearful and unable to passionately and permanently connect. 

It shrinks when it should swell. 

These retrograde, tired old ways do not work. Let us admit it and change the tunes of our lives.

Dear Mrs. Webís mail is full of letters from people who do not know why their love lives do not work. Why this tearing heart and soul apart from body and mind leaves them fragmented, shaking and alone. My heart pours out to them. There is a better way.

Yes, I do promote and support courtship. Dear Mrs. Web has taken it apart and scrutinized it and she can find little to fault with it. Asking the heart, soul, and body to wait for love doesnít seem nearly as difficult to her as having them both shatter from being continually handed over to people who do not value them.

Encouraging people to get to get to know each other with depth and grace is a commonsense approach to choosing one's life-mate. Having oneís family and friends embrace and get to know a potential mate seems to be an intelligent move. After all, when you marry, you do not just marry one person; you do marry the family. The pages and pages of my In-law Archives prove it.

Listening to trusted opinions and comments about the beloved is equally important. When in love we are blind, and we need as much information as possible. Watching how this future potential mate treats his family, as well as yours just plain makes sense. It is a peek into your possible future. 

Judging character traits, evaluating flaws (donít we all have them!) and making informed choices about a mate seems far more preferable to the blind love driven by physical desire and overwhelming neediness that drives most engagement and marriage decisions today.

Courtship and betrothal offer men and women today a better and different option. We no longer have to abide by the outdated, ineffective, and tiresome. We no longer have to compromise our values and our hearts.  We can learn to cherish and be cherished.

So, is Dear Mrs. Web retro? 

No way! 

Timeless? 

Could be. 

Classic? 

Perhaps. 

Retro? 

Never!


 

Another Occasional Opinion

 

 

The Importance 

of 

Communication

 

Recently a woman I have known for many years sat in Dear Mrs Webís kitchen. We drank coffee and talked about the wreckage of her life. For she was separated and spiraling towards divorce. She was staring bleakly at her future with three little ones and a rusty business degree. She talked and Dear Mrs Web listened.

This woman poured out the pain and betrayals of her life. Her husband had lied to her about the basic facts of his relationship with her. And continued to lie. When caught in lies he begged forgiveness, but over time lied again, and again.   He spoke lies of omission, so he would not have to confront his mistakes and lies to make himself look better. Worse, there were the lies to himself and a phony faÁade he showed the world.

She shook her head and added more coffee to her cup. "You know, Dear Mrs Web, " she said, "I finally understand something he said to me all those years ago when we were dating."

When I asked her what she meant she said, "One day when we talking I told him that honesty was very important to me. He said he understood my need for honesty. He then said: "I am certainly never going to tell you anything that might jeopardize our relationship. I would be a fool to tell you something that would hurt us."

"When he said those words a little wave of fear and warning skittered through my heart. What does he mean by that? I thought."

"However, everything was going so smoothly that I decided to let it go. After all, our budding relationship was going so well. I didnít want to confront him. I didnít want to face that this man who I was beginning to love deeply, might not be able to provide our future and me with the foundational honesty that I required for my life. I didnít want to do the work, draw the lines, set out the limits, and protect my future and myself. I sold my future, I sold what I needed and wanted in my life, for the security of his arms. Everything, I told myself, would be alright."

"At times, when I thought about his words, for I turned them over in my heart occasionally during these past fifteen years of marriage, I decided they must have been a sort of a pledge not to do anything to harm to our sacred marriage trust. It is amazing what the heart will do to have what it wants!"

I poured myself another cup of coffee, warmed up her cup, and stirred in a bit of milk. I asked her what she meant.

"Well, things went well over the first few years, but over the last five years the truth of his words have been obvious in our marriage. When he said that he would never tell me anything that might jeopardize our relationship, he meant every word of it. He would never tell me of any problems he had or that we had. He would not be truthful about anything that he thought might upset me. He would never expose any problems or issues he might have had. He would never confront me or ask for help. He would never have the ability to admit to problems so we could work it out. We have had a life of smoke and mirrors. The children and I now sit, twelve years later, on a marriage that was a lattice of lies."

This broken hearted woman rested her head on her arms and cried with shuddering sobs.

She continued talking as she wiped her eyes: "If only I had had the courage to have followed up on his words those many years ago, we would not be in the difficult place we are today. He would have learned what he needed to know to be the honest person I needed, and I would have learned more about his heart, his fears, and how to help him. We could have had a solid foundation and strong marriage instead of this instead of this slowly toppling edifice."

There were tears in my old eyes when this woman - wife - mother finished her sad words.

I tell you this story, Dear Reader, so you will understand the importance of clear communication in relationships. This womanís heartbreak is the reason Dear Mrs Web absolutely harps on courtship. It is in learning the heart and soul of the one who possibly may become the beloved that your future is written, and the future of your children.

There is yet hope in this story. The couple is trying to dig new and better foundations. With long hard communication work, an extended family that is pitching in to help (and holding its collective tongue, I must add!), a number of people to listen and encourage each of the spouses, and a church to pray for healing and reconciliation, this marriage has a chance. A slim chance, Dear Mrs Web knows, but at least a sliver of opportunity for the family to heal and go forth renewed.

 

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