Why We Stopped Reading Marriage Books

Blogs are not a good place to get marriage advice.
Despite sometimes writing about marriage, I personally don’t read blogs about the subject unless it’s to pick them apart.

The Internet is a great source of horrific marriage advice. Instead of going there and being inundated with nonsense, I recommend that you get your marriage advice directly from your spouse, not some credentialed celebrity pastor, not some well known author or speaker, not some mommy-blogger with too much time on her hands. Those folks don’t know you or your spouse. They don’t know your needs or your spouses needs. They know only themselves and some generalities that have been spread around since the beginning of time. 

The assumption of so many blogs seems to be “my husband/wife enjoys this, so yours must too.” They will offer advice like “look good” for your husbands and get your wives flowers once a week. While the advice isn’t always the worst, it doesn’t always apply to everyone. My advice? Do not heed such general and reckless advice. 

It reminds me of those old magazine articles about what women should do for their husbands. Have drinks ready. Fluff his pillow. Get the children cleaned up. It’s not bad advice necessarily, but if you step out and suggest that it’s perhaps a bit stringent you must be a radical. You might even hate your husband.

So much of this bad advice comes from complementarian circles. I’m not anti-complentarian, I’m anti-bad advice. Honestly, I don’t want my wife to do all those things for me. That is just not the way I want to be served. Just because we are complentarian doesn’t mean that we should assume men and women are cookie-cutter and all marriages are going to look the same. 

There are many books out there as well that carry lopsided advice. One is called Love and Respect. The basic premise of this book as I understand it is that men need respect from their wives and women need love from their husbands. Now, again, this is not completely untrue. But it does seem a bit overly simplistic. Not all men want just respect and not all women just want love. Love and respect are not mutually exclusive things. Nor is the desire to have one or the other determined by gender.

Unfortunately, when some of these suggestions are taken to their logical conclusion some people can get really damaged. If your husband doesn’t like make up or your wife is not the flower type, you can be left out to dry when truly trying to find help for your relationship.

Worse still is that some of the suggestions almost become rules. It’s not simply advice, it becomes law. And the authors will often find some obscure scripture (out of context) and say “see, the Bible agrees!”

Sometimes, they will take a verse not out of context, but apply it in a horrible way. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” becomes “confess all lustful thoughts you ever have to your wife.” This is a horrible thing to do, especially if you have a very sensitive wife. It becomes worse when  you’re expected to describe them in detail. This not only may horrify your wife, it makes you dwell on thoughts that you should probably just repent of and move on.

If I could narrow down most good marriage advice it’s this: treat each other with kindness. Be respectful, be loving, both of you. You should both be loving and respecting the other. Treat each other with common decency and humanity. Above all else, spouses should be learning as much as possible about each other. Find out what your spouse likes, asked detailed questions, then strive to do those things. Find out his or her love language. Seek to fulfill them in the way they request, not the way some book or blog tells you.

Learn about your spouse’s personality. Are they an introvert or an extrovert? Do they need time alone or do they unwind with people? Does he need to talk things out or does he need to be alone to figure out his problems? Maybe your wife likes gifts, maybe your husband likes for you to serve his plate. Maybe he likes to do things for himself and can’t stand to be waited upon. Maybe he does not want to burden you with superficial things like makeup. Does he really care? Don’t just assume that he does because a book or magazine told you he does, ask. Make him think about it. He is probably just going along with what other men have told him is attractive and has never really thought for himself about the subject.

It is a cliché, but communication is the key to good marriage. It’s important to communicate constantly so that you have an idea of your spouse’s desires and needs. Realize that they will change over time, but if the communication lines are open you will never miss those changes.

Marriage books will not prepare you for those changes. You read it, you accept it as law, and then you think your marriage will be static and perfect. But you grow and your spouse grows. In different seasons of life you two will always be changing and what was at one time indispensable is now completely unnecessary. Likewise, new needs will spring up and you will find yourself serving your spouse in ways you never imagined. You must communicate to know these seasonal changes.

Maybe I’m too hard on the books and blogs and other marriage related paraphernalia. Read them. Discuss them. Take them with a grain of salt. If something doesn’t sit right with you, make it known. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Music and Art Monday April 3rd, 2017

No new music and no new art, but I do have a book recommendation. 

I just finished reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It took me forever to finish because I got bored with it one third of the way through and quit reading it. How many times can she use the phrase “head thrown back”? Why is everything angles and light? Why are all of her characters so simplistic and one-dimensional? 

Almost a year after putting it down, I decided to plug through and finish it. I must say the rest of it was worth the effort. 

If you don’t want to read all of it, I at least recommend reading the third and final part. This is the real meat of the story, the summation of all the previous long and boring parts. This is the section where all of Rand’s philosophy shines through and makes you step back and contemplate life for awhile. 

When Roark delivers his final speech, it makes you want to create. When I finished it I immediately wanted to write. I didn’t care what everyone else felt about my writing, I just had to write.

It makes one step back and consider just how second-hand everything we do in life really is. How much do I produce, and how much do I simply borrow and steal from others? The conclusion is startling. 

Rand’s writing style is a bit romantic and over the top with gold and light, but when she pours out the philosophy it’s a pleasant punch to the gut that leaves you thinking “she’s right, she’s idealistic, but she’s right.” 

Every book of hers can be condensed and never lose the punch. Atlas Shrugged is her magnum opus and is oft recommended, but it too can be concentrated down to a few chapters and never reduce it’s meaning. 

So go pick The Fountainhead up, maybe it won’t take you an entire year to read. Or maybe I will, but only because you are savoring it.   

Silence Is (Not So) Golden

Nothing new here. Life is moving on imperceptibly slow. Sure, there are minor details of life that may be interesting to some, but for the most part life has been nothing but the slow turn of the Earth, marching onward with no slow down in sight. 
I’m not sure how much time has passed since I have been here. Sure, a calendar will tell me it has been two weeks since my arrival, but every day has felt like many days. Even yesterday is a blur at this point. 

I went without running water in my temporary home for almost ten days only to find that the leak that had once forced me to keep it off has mysteriously ceased. I had a shower today and it was lovely. Also, my dishes that had piled in the sink refound their homes in cabinets and drawers. 

Life has been good, yet lacking. 

I miss the companionship of a wife and children. I miss the noise that accompanies the domestic half of my life. Work is a welcome distraction from the silence of my borrowed trailer, but it is no substitute for the joy of family. 

So I wait, impatiently, for their arrival, angry at those who have delayed it with their careless (and possibly criminal) actions (or lack therof). 

Perhaps I should relish the silence, enjoy the time spent in quiet. Perhaps I should take this time to reflect or grow. 

Not for me. For me, there is no growth without the stress of noise. There is nothing in silence but time for navel-gazing and dangerous over-contemplation of one’s life choices. 

I think too much when I am alone. I go to places the mind should never go. I worry and fret and despair over details of life which I have no control over. I take too much credit for my position in time and space. 

If I have discovered anything in this time of silence it’s this: God has given me gifts which I have taken for granted. I assume that what I have is normal and is a part of me, like appendages. I did nothing to bring them into existence, they just are. Every good gift must be something I deserved, merely because I exist. 

But, a wife, children, and the fertilizer of chaos are not deserved, they are gifts. God supplies them for the growth of a man, and when they are removed, even temporarily, a man can find himself stunted and unable to flourish. 

God knows I need noise as much as He knows I need times of silence. One to grow me, the other to force acknowledgement of His gifts. 

Pray that they arrive safely and more importantly soon. 

New Adventures Begin 

Out of my driveway and into the world

Some things are laughable, like planning to leave at 6 AM. After driving for Uber late into the night I woke up way beyond my alarm and left at 9. 

My singular goal on day one was to get lunch at Lee’s Diner in Hammond, LA. My mom used to eat here during her younger years and she has always raved about it. I tried to eat there last year on my way through, but a fire had gutted the kitchen and they were renovating. My personal memories of it are sparse, I know we went a few times when I was a kid, but what I ate besides a chocolate malt escapes me. I hit the road salivating. 

Someone’s having fun…

Before I even got out of Florida I was reminded why I was heading west.  A prescribed fire was going just on the other side of the highway. I hope it was successful, given the smoke column I’m pretty sure it was. 

The panhandle of Florida takes what seems like an eternity to cross. My lunch plans settled into dinner plans as I ate some roller “food” from a gas station. I know people who won’t touch those things. I figure if I am going to be sick I may as well do it right! 

There wasn’t much excitement between home and the Louisiana border. Then came the Obligatory Community Coffee Stop at the welcome center. 

My favorite part of the coffee setup they have there is the “Children Need Assistance” sign. Everyone should know all Cajun kids start coffee at a very young age, the younger the better. That’s why we tend to be shorter than average. 

Mmmmm

I kid of course. But really,  I started coffee at five, and my growth stopped at 5’7″. There has to be a connection. 

Around 5 PM I finally reached my goal. The place was packed, so I grabbed a spot at the counter. I’m not used to traveling solo so I am not used to lunch counters. I actually tried to pull my stool closer to the counter at one point. My embarrassment was quickly stifled by this:

Double Mmmm. 

I was persuaded that I could probably make a decent po boy at home but that ettouffe was a bit more difficult to perfect. I’m so glad I made that decision. 

I topped it off with a chocolate malt and headed out full but determined that boudin balls were necessary to make my drive through LA complete. After discovering that most places were closing soon I found Hebert’s down the road was open until 7 and if I hurried I might just get me some awesome. 

I assume it’s Cajun lasagna… 

When I saw they had lasagna I was a little worried. After a short discussion with the girl at the counter I decided on links instead of the usual balls. 

Insert obligatory sausage joke…

While they may look a little strange, they were amazing. 

I trucked on and crossed the Mississippi at sunset. 

Old Man River #NoFilter #WowMyPhoneCameraIsGood

My second goal of the day was to make it to Houston. I selected a Pilot Travel Center just outside of town thinking “this will work”. Normally this would be reasonable thinking, but when I arrived around Midnight I was met with one hour parking signs and a panhandler telling me about his seven felonies. “Nah man, I won’t snatch your wallet, I ain’t dumb.” Then he asked if I smoked “hydro”. Soooo it was on to the other side of town where thankfully I was able to find a Walmart with rvs parked out front. Rvs are always a good sign that no Walmart manager is going to scoot you along at 4 AM. 

After six uncomfortable hours across the front seats of the van, I decided to trek onward. 

Day two was even less eventful than day one. About the time I hit west Texas the AC stopped working well and I was forced to switch from long pants to shorts. That was quite an event! Sarcasm.

Roasting and getting blinded, TX hates me. Oh, and so many bugs.

Finally I hit NM and after getting through Carlsbad and Hope I was finally climbing into the mountains. 

More like “hills” really…

My plan was to park somewhere on the forest and set up a tent. There was snow rumored on my aunt and uncle’s property where we plan to stay for the summer. About ten minutes from town I find out that they are actually in town and the property is pretty much snow free! 

After eating decent Mexican (i.e. NOT Utah “Mexican”) we settled down to sleep in their trailer. 

My hidey-hole…
First view of Cloudcroft in the daylight.

Now to get the rest of the family out here. 

I can get used to this…

The Adventure….Doesn’t Begin

Today was supposed to mark the beginning of our adventure to New Mexico. Of course, thanks to a snafu by the car dealer, our title has not been sent from VA to NM. So we are stuck in a holding pattern for the foreseeable future.

Which is fine.

This is fine
How I really feel

We are way behind on packing and cleaning, and it gives me time to do my new favorite pastime: driving Uber.

For a total of four nights now, I’ve driven around town and picked up people from all walks of life. Some are chatty, some are eerily quiet, most are somewhere in between. Some are drunk, some are just trying to get to or from work. I feel a bit like I am playing GTA in real life, picking up random people in random places and dropping them off in other random places, then watching the money counter scroll upwards. For an extrovert like me, this has been a pretty cool job.

I’m glad to have a little job to do, it distracts from the craziness of trying to get this show on the road. As if I didn’t have enough anxiety already, add a deadline and a really long drive and I’m getting crazy not being on the road. I made it to Arizona in three days last year. If it comes down to it, I can probably make NM in two…

I’ll keep you posted.

My Life is About to Get a Whole Lot Of Crazy

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Lighting a backfire in Idaho, State Fire 2013

When I’m not wrangling five hoodlums, I wrangle fire. In 20 days I’ll be starting my second full season of working on an engine full time. Needless to say I’m a bit freaked out, not because of the job, but because of all the stuff that must be done to get there. We have 20 days to get the house cleaned and prepped for a six month absence, get a trailer cleaned and packed, prepare two vehicles for a 1500 mile drive, prep for a pack test, and get three cats, a dog, and seven people from Florida to New Mexico.

Needless to say I am incapable of deep thoughts at this point. While I do have some stuff already written up, I can’t edit them to my liking right now. So don’t expect much in the next few weeks except for some possible updates on our adventures.

Those are probably more fun anyways. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Music and Art Monday February 27th

Almost didn’t get one this week. We spent three days driving from VA to FL. THREE DAYS!

So, that was a lot of time to listen to music. This week I will recommend some driving music:

Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand

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This album doesn’t have any bad songs to drive to, just a constant beat of awesome. It helps that the lead singer sings in pretty much exactly my range.

Record in A Bag by Hollerado

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Another band I discovered in a truck in Idaho. A good mix of upbeat and slow stuff to keep you wide awake.

Sugar Man by Yolanda Be Cool

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Really anything by Yolanda Be Cool is good to drive to, but this remix of Rodriguez’s Sugar Man is the best in my opinion. Second best is Soul Mokossa (Money).

Stay Gold by First Aid Kit

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It’s hard to choose between this and The Lion’s Roar but this has more of a road trip feel right off the bat with “My Silver Lining”.

An Awesome Wave by alt-J

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Sometimes you just need something musically complex to keep you alert on the road. This album has enough ups and downs and strange sounds to keep any brain wondering where it’s going next.

Hope you enjoy these!

No art this week. I did not sit still long enough to browse through anything. O.O