Archive for January, 2012

Life explained

Posted: January 27, 2012 in Fun

On the first day, God created the dog and said, “Sit all day by the door
of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past.  For this,
I will give you a life span of twenty years.”

The dog said, “That’s a long time to be barking.  How about only ten
years and I’ll give you back the other ten?”

So God agreed……

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, “Entertain people,
do tricks, and make them laugh.  For this, I’ll give you a twenty-year
life span.”

The monkey said, “Monkey tricks for twenty years?  That’s a pretty long
time to perform.  How about I give you back ten like the dog did?”

And God agreed……

On the third day, God created the cow and said, “You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves
and give milk to support the farmer’s family.  For this, I will give you
a life span of sixty years.”

The cow said, “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty
years. How about twenty and I’ll give back the other forty?”

And God agreed again……

God created humans and said, “Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your
life. For this, I’ll give you twenty years.”

But the human said, “Only twenty years?  Could you possibly give me my
twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and
the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?”

“Okay,” said God.  “You asked for it.”

So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy
ourselves.  For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our
family..  For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the
grandchildren.  And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch
and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information.  I’m doing it as a public service.  If you are looking for me I will be on the front porch.

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Gratitude is an exercise

Posted: January 27, 2012 in Gratitude, Happiness, Lessons

Going through divorce sucks.  No ifs, ands or buts about it.  It is rough, draining physically, emotionally and financially.  As I experienced this event in my life I realized that one of the things I most needed to do was understand and package the divorce as an event and not a lifestyle or a definition of who I was or was becoming.  I needed to return to a positive mindset.

I’ll be the first to admit that in my early years I was a true pessimist.  I had an almost impossible time seeing things in a hopeful light.  I had to work hard to change that and still struggle at times as I do think it is the general nature of most people to get dragged into what is not working.  I was also very introverted and quiet but no one that meets me today would describe me in those terms.   Getting there took a lot of hard work and one of the lessons learned was to be grateful for things.

My most recent negative trauma was certainly my divorce and I credit getting through it as quickly as I did to having built up that positive mindset and also an attitude of gratitude about my life.  Anyone who asks me for advice on how to be successful in life, to be confident and to be happy, this is the first advice you will hear from me.  Be positive and focused and work on being grateful every day of your life.  Just like anything else, it must be repeated and exercised to become a habit.

At first it will be the dumbest feeling in the world.  I am grateful for waking up this morning without any major ailments.  I am grateful for my kids.  I can say these things today and not cringe, but initially years ago when I would state these things in my head or out loud to others it felt really weird.  It is not something that we are really taught to do, but what I found is the more I did it, the more natural it felt and the easier it was to find things to be grateful for each day.

For many of us we are facing some adversity.  You may have lost a job, gone through a divorce, be feeling that you have money problems.  If you struggle with this, try this exercise.  Find a quiet place and just reflect back to your high school or college years  to what you used to think in the “if only” moments.  “If only I had my own car.”  “If only I had someone in my life who loved me for who I am.”  “If only I had a supportive family or friends.”  “If only I had a job.”  “If only I lived in a city with fun things to do.”  We’ve all had a ton of “if only” moments as we started out in life.  No open your eyes and think about how many of those “if onlies” have come true for you and realize the someday you wished for is the one you are living today at least on some level.

This is the opening to gratitude.  In daily life it becomes too easy to lose sight of all that has happened and all you have experienced and accumulated in life’s journey.  Spending time each day finding something to be grateful for and committing to doing this for the next month will make it a habit.  Then when you get socked by something in life you can rely on this habit to show you that things are not as bad as you think.  I am confident you will always have something to be grateful for no matter what your circumstances.  I will talk more about these things in the future, but in getting through trials in life like divorce, job loss or other things it helps to have a habit of gratitude and stay away from the “woe is me” mindset as much as possible. 

It is scientifically proven that negative and positive mindsets cannot exist together.  Gratitude will improve your attitude and lift the altitude at which you fly in life.

It worked for me and I am confident if you really embrace the practice it will work for you too.

One of the most challenging lessons I have ever had to teach has been that of generosity.  Lest you think I am only talking about teaching my children, I assure you I am not.  I have had these conversations with several adults, including my parents, about what it means to really be generous.

It helps to begin with the origin of the word generous.  It comes from the Latin Generosus which translates into “of noble birth”.  In ancient times the nobles owned everything.  They owned the land, the buildings and improvements on the land, the livestock and the means of making a living.  The peasants who lived on their land and worked it for the noble’s benefit were reliant for their very existence in most part to the noble.  While there certainly were nobles who were mean and nasty, many understood this dependant relationship.  If the noble kept his peasants happy they would work harder to please the noble and incur his favor.  

When the noble gave something there was no expectation.   No when I say this I am not talking about simply no expectation of monetary return, I mean no expectation of even recognition of the gift because in many cases the noble would never even have contact with any of the peasants on his land.  He would release food on a special occasion or have a feast for the commoners and expect nothing.  The obvious reason for this is that there was very little the people could give in return as they just had enough to get by.  This is the true origin of the begin “generous”.  It is to act as a noble and give with no expectations.

Today this type of giving is rare.  Many people give with the expectation of a reciprocal trade.  Think of going to lunch with your co-workers.  You rotate around paying for lunch, but it is understood that at some point you will pay for everyone’s lunch when it becomes your turn.  When you do that, do not think you are being generous.  You are not; you are just part of the lunch system.  Others give with the expectation that they will be thanked or appreciated.  This plays in with people all the time when I hear, “I’m so generous, I give gifts to people and they never thank me”.  While I agree it is important to teach being grateful and thanking people when possible, as the giver to say you are generous when you get all huffy about not being thanked is wrong.  A generous giver will give for the joy it provides to others and for nothing else.  If you want to be thanked that’s fine, but that’s not generosity.

Another example is that of my fiancee’s ex, the self-promoter.  Running a charity drive and calling up the local papers to tell everyone about it is not being generous.  That’s fluffing up your own feathers for your own sake.  To me these are the most disingenuous types of “generous” people.  It does not help that the media perpetuates this junk by at times using the word generosity when describing the behavior, but the sheer fact that the article was written because they notified the paper they were donating clothes runs right against anything to do with being generous.

This is the challenge I feel with trying to educate anyone on what being generous really is.  An anonymous donor is the most simple form of really being generous.  If you give away money with your name not attached you force the situation where you cannot receive anything in return.  Donating to the PBS station or telethon and being all excited to see your name on the screen, or with the desire to have your name on a brick in the new concert hall is not really being generous.  This does not mean that someone who does that and has their name etched in a brick or on the crawl at the bottom of a screen is not generous.  You do not have to be anonymous.  It is all in the mindset.  Did you give with the intent of seeing your name as a reason?  That’s not true generosity, that’s being charitable.  Are you in church wanting to be noted by the pastor as the biggest giver, or to be known that no one will “out give” you?  That’s also not generosity that’s competition and could border on self righteousness and self promotion.  Trying to give that lesson is challenging because there is so much focus now on being recognized for good works.  God knows what you did, and others may too.  If your motivation is for that recognition, that is not generosity.

Generosity can take many varied forms.  What never varies is giving with no expectations.  Feed your kids friends or take them along on an outing with no expectations.  Drive a co-worker to work every day just because you are going there already.  Give someone a gift and do not expect thanks.  Donate time or money to a cause and have no expectations.  Those actions are generous.  It is something we have truly misunderstood in modern society where rules of etiquette and other things have clouded them.

The love secret

Posted: January 25, 2012 in Christian, God, Love
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Psst.  Yeah you.  I have a secret to share.  Do you want to know how to stay happily in love in a relationship?  You do?  Something that many of us have lost especially with all the movies about romance and how it plays out is that movie romances are written by script writers, however our love story is written by God.  That’s the secret for having a totally different viewpoint on what your love should be.

Too many people, not sure if I would really say mostly women due to the fact they drive most of the romance industry, be it romantic comedies, romance novels or shows like the Bachelor, have this fantasy about what a loving relationship should be like.  The TV shows especially have this great propensity to feed into society’s desire to create brides and grooms but does nothing to create husbands and wives.  Maybe I’m more attuned to this given that a big portion of friction in my failed marriage was based on not being able to attain the love she saw in the movies.  We never ended up with some big break out of nowhere that made us rich and love drunk with each other for lack of want.  We had not had some love triangle or pentagon that had us in love with others only to realize in some crucial moment on horseback or in the car or in the bathroom or most importantly when the other was getting married to someone else that we really loved them and caused us to race around the globe to go get them.  In our marriage counseling sessions my ex was told that her view of relationships was the “fairy tale” format and was not realistic, yet she refused to believe that if she did not see fireworks when we kissed or have some other grand moment of Prince Charming coming in that it was really love.  It was certainly not the only factor to dissolve our marriage over time but it certainly played a key role.

We get fed this regular diet of perfectly scripted relationships.  How is that?  Because they ARE scripted.  It’s not the norm to get set up on a blind date by someone and find they are your soul mate.  Or to be asked by your dead friends to raise their baby together as strangers and fall madly in love.  The reason these stories resonate so much is that real, solid love is elusive so many want to see what it would be like.  But making a movie about how real love is built would not really be fun to watch.  It’s fun to live, because you have a key role and you feel the emotions and form the bonds, but someone watching you spend days talking about mundane topics to learn about each other’s character and dreams is not very exciting.  If you listen to God and let Him lead you to a connection with the right person, it is exhilarating.

In my case, I was hoping that God would show me someone, yet also being pragmatic in understanding that was very unlikely.  I was not going to follow Hollywood’s version of romance and just get involved with someone because things “clicked”.  I was open to the possibility of finding someone to build a life with but would do it with faith as the center.  My life experience had taught me that anything else was just too fickle.  Our choices are shaped by our belief in God and what we are taught by that.  Living that out daily helps us to see and trust each other more.  This is God’s plan for us and not some magical movie script that says that the divorced people should meet and live together happily ever after to make up for their earlier pain.  This is not the Brady Bunch where no one ever fights and the kids always work together like some fantasy version of Congress where we all just get along.  Things are raw and real and emotions get involved and the music does not rise on a moonlight night as the lovers run together and embrace on the beach.  We do however come together talking on the couch or the phone because we know we are both grounded in the same core and we gravitate towards that as we work through life’s challenges.

God has a plan for us.  In the process we will work through changing school districts for some of the kids and working out parenting time swaps so we can go on a honeymoon.  Would you spend $10 to watch a movie about that?  Probably not.  So when the movie writers create a romantic yarn they spin in the big moments, but life is not full of those.  God writes our stories in a much more relaxed manner where we deal with non-movie moments all the time.

That’s the secret to understanding how to happily and deeply stay in love.  If you want a big movie moment to happen every few months as the movies have you believe and when they don’t you begin to wonder if you are really in love, you will always fail.  Being happy in each other’s presence and working through general obstacles of job issues, parenting challenges and hurdles caused by exes is what a life long love is made of.  That’s the love story that God writes for each of us, but he expects us to be mature enough in our emotions and our faith to embrace that.   If we are not and we look for more excitement that’s when you fall apart and move towards breaking up, divorce or other ugly things.  Forrest Gump said “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”.  What I do know is that if you want each chocolate to be perfect and taste wonderful you want a movie box, but if you know some of the chocolates are not your thing and you work to move forward then you want God’s box.  God does not promise happiness all the time.  Even in the Declaration of Independence, you are promised life and liberty, but only the “pursuit” of happiness.   Even brilliant men like Thomas Jefferson knew better than to guarantee that.  I love that I get to trust God with his plan for us and do my part in living as He would like me to, in His image.  God is love, and finding a godly woman is as close as we get to heaven on Earth.  I will enjoy the fun and entertainment that Hollywood provides in their scripted love stories but as for my own, I know it is written by God and I trust that it will be exactly as He has planned.

What is the Bible?

Posted: January 21, 2012 in Christian

Seems like a funny title for a post.  After all you’ve got Wikipedia for that why would you come here?  As a Christian blended family in the making though this is a critical question for us.  Until a few weeks ago, I would have gone with the Wikipedia or religious viewpoint of a book that provides the word of God through divinely inspired authors for us to read and learn from.  We can get into semantics on if you are Catholic or not and what that means to the Bible.

I attended a Christmas pageant at a local church earlier and during that performance they had a curious line.  They had one of the characters, I do not recall if he was supposed to be a pastor, but he was played by a pastor, say that he had this grand book, “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, or BIBLE for short”.  I turned to my fiancée and said, “That’s going to be a blog post someday!”  Well, lucky you, today’s that day.

In all my years of hearing various explanations about how we should use the Bible and what its purpose for us as believers was, this was the simplest and clearest description I have heard.  As I wrestle with issues like what I described in my last post and need to provide guidance to my family, this was a great message. 

We try to explain to our kids our new believers what the Bible does.  It is to guide them in their life choices.  It is to inspire them.  It is to explain what we believe in.  With a good study bible in hand it can point you via an index to passages addressing nearly every issue in life.  I’m not usually one for gimmicks when it comes to faith, but this one was really a great, simple summation that you can use to help anyone who asks you that question.

Who do I teach?

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Blending, Kids, Parenting

I just watched the movie “Courageous” with my kids.  They seem to have all enjoyed it, in their own way.  What I mean by that is my oldest thought it was great until we got to a scene near the end about a purity ring and we briefly commented on it.  Her view of dating was that she should start next year when she enters high school, mine was not there.  Suddenly she felt the movie was less valuable than it was before, but yet later she seemed to have sloughed it off. 

Separately, I have been reading a daily devotional for 2012.  I’ve had the book out with my Bible and the kids have seen it for weeks now, and I told them about it even before the start of the year.  I would like to use it once the family is blended as a simple, short time we share on the days all eight of us are together to provide some spiritual guidance.  In that vein, on the days I find myself able to read the devotional at breakfast I have been reading it aloud to my girls.  For the first few days it was a grumble fest complaining about it.  This morning one of them came down and told me she had read the entry for today on her own.  I asked her what it said and she went and got it and read it aloud to me.  My teaching style at this point is to provide the evidence through word and deed and let God handle the changing of their heart.  It is times like this that I can feel thankful that it is working.

A final example is with regards to formal religious education.  I had mentioned earlier that we were looking for settle into a church for our blended family and we believe we have found one.  We took the kids for the first time this past weekend and the night before one of my daughters was crying that she did not want to go to the children’s program.  After a few minutes of discussion she admitted that her hang up was that because she was in middle school it was assumed that she understood all kinds of things about God and that since she had not been going before she felt lost, awkward and out of place.  Part of why I liked this church is I did not feel they would operate that way.  They went on Sunday and I heard no complaints afterward.

So overall, I think progress is good.  If I look to where I was just four months ago with teaching about the importance and the meaning of God we have made some great strides.  The struggle I have is what happens when the new family is together? 

I’m not worried about being in different places as that is just common place, and just as adults are at different places in their spiritual journey when they come together for Bible study, I know the six kids will be that way, and there will be differences in each set of three because of age, resistance to believe and other factors. 

Beyond this there are life lessons that are not just centered on spirituality.  How to handle bullies, what to do in a relationship.  As I try to identify the root of my struggle it really centers on when my step kids needs a father figure, what is OK?  In our case they go to their dad’s house and in many cases I think our instances when they need that interaction from me will center more on the religious side since their father is not at all Christian or religious in any way.  The thing that got me here was the purity ring scene in the movie.  With my two girls, I have no indecisiveness.  I will do something similar with them as depicted in the film and teach them what I feel is the right way to approach a relationship, including the role of dad in assessing their potential suitors.  But what do I do with my two step daughters?  Certainly the first steps are to discuss this with my spouse and take her lead on what she would like me to do.  I feel their father would never do anything like sitting with them and talking about if a boy that is interested in them loves God and what that means to them.  So I’m pretty certain if they do not hear it from me and get the opportunity for my involvement as they grow that it will not exist in their life.  But is it my place?  On the one hand, I am committed to be the spiritual leader in my home and they will be in my home half the time and I would like to set the model consistently.  Yet I am not their father and their father will most likely vehemently disagree with my stance even though I am confident my spouse and I agree.  Having their father in opposition will create arguments with him for my spouse, and I am not looking to increase the stress there, but I need to do what I believe is right.

I’m worried we will end up at a “wait and see” position and that ambiguity for me will be difficult.  At times I feel it would be easier if they were like so many other divorced families and the father had just left.  Then there would be no confusion as there would be no other role model.  But, I feel awful for thinking that way as I know how important it is for them to have their father involved even if we feel some of his involvement is very wrong.  It is the one thing I have not been able to reconcile and have no idea on how it will resolve, if it ever will.  Will I have to grit my teeth and just go along with what he teaches them even if it is contrary to what I will be doing with my daughters? 

I know we will find a way.  I have a year or two until I realistically have to worry about the scenario I described.  That’s a lot of time to talk.  I have to work on forming the bonds of a relationship that is deep enough with my step kids just as my spouse will need to do with mine, to even have them want to care what I have to say about such a personal topic.  This may be an area where traditional father/mother roles takes a back seat to biological parent and my spouse handle the purity ring discussion and we created a blended version of this where I am involved in the sizing up of their dates and sharing my thoughts with my spouse who will talk with her daughters.  I want to do everything I can to help.  I know I’ll say it again and again, as I know this blending thing is hard, and this is just one example of the nitty gritty that needs to be worked on in daily life.  With what I know of their dad I shudder to imagine what the dating years will be like for his daughters.  He leads a very immoral life himself and what lessons will they get from him as they grow?  What is my role in counteracting that?  Right now they are still innocent enough that they buy his explanation that the multiple women that live at their dad’s are workers he’s helping out and not girlfriends.  That innocent view will end one day as they get older.  Maybe he’ll change but I’m not holding my breath.  I would love to just tell them at that time what I think of their dad’s lifestyle but I know that will backfire and is not the right approach. 

So the question still remains of who to teach. Is it the entire blended family on everything, or do we pick and choose topics?  Certainly the former is easier to handle.

We’ve been hard at work since the year started getting things in place for our upcoming nuptials.  We’ve got a church booked, a banquet hall, the bride has her dress, and the girls have theirs on order.  We know who will do the cake, the photos during the ceremony and the honeymoon accommodations and air fare are in the history books.  Time has been requested off from work, marriage license requirements have been researched, we know the guys need tuxes and I’ve rented them before, so it all looks good.  As this day dawns we are exactly four months away from the “big day”.  Society has made these events have some magnitude all their own and the celebrity marriage has created an aura of spectacle followed by giant flame out.  It used to be that people made fun of Elizabeth Taylor for all her marriages, but these days it seems celebrities are applauded for standing up for themselves if they choose to split after 72 hours.

My road to get here has been uniquely mine.  Everyone does the same thing.  How you met, got married, lived, is all similar yet vastly different than someone else’s journey.  At this point in my blog I feel like J.K. Rowling.  I can’t assume you read my other four books before you picked up my fifth, so I need to give you enough back story here to not require you to piece things together by reading the previous 60+ posts.  Just like her, I certainly hope you do read them as I put a lot of work and heart into creating them, but I also know you’ve got other things to do.

In this time between separation, divorce and entering into my last marriage I also feel like I may be judged for my views in a different light.  After all, if I believe these things, then why am I divorced in the first place?  Alas, as some of you may find, no matter how strong your commitment, a marriage take two committed people.  For now, I’ll leave it at that.  This is not a dissection of my failed marriage.  I did that already.  You can go read about it if you like.

So to catch you up to our story with the relevant points, I was told by my ex-wife she wanted a divorce just before Christmas of 2010.  In less than two weeks we had drafted our agreement, filed it in court and she had moved out.  Two months after that in an eight minute court appearance it was final and she was free.  The universe as she wanted and I had come to understand it should be, because there was not enough there to base a casual acquaintance on let alone a marriage.  A little over three months after that I met my fiancée.  A little over four months after that we were engaged and now a little over two months after that we are four months away from being married.  Now you’re caught up.

So I know what you’re thinking, oh, cynical reader, for I am you more often than I care to admit.  “He’s railing about celebrity marriages yet here he sits, engaged, barely a year out from when his other marriage began to break up.  He must take marriage casually”.  I can see how you could get there, and I’ll just have to let you decide if that’s the case.  Getting you to where I am would require more writing than you’d care to read, but I will respectfully disagree strongly with that assessment.  For me marriage is as heavy as you get.

I often joke that my receding hairline began in high school simply because my hair was trying to catch up with my thinking.  Employers I worked for regularly praised me for having a work ethic and approach to opportunities similar to someone three decades my senior.  As I’ve shared my thoughts on marriage with people I get comments like “old fashioned”, “traditional”, and “out dated”.  That’s OK.  As I said, my road is uniquely mine and I like where it’s taken me.  Shows like “The Bachelor” have turned falling in love and getting married into a simple process that requires nothing more than sheer numbers.  Give a man 25 women who are desperate enough to want to marry someone that they are comfortable playing out their budding romance on national TV and who could fail.  Or at least that’s what they hope to make you think.  Yet the significant lack of any successful marriage from any one of these seasons shows that there is more to it than that, yet the draw of the fairy tale is so strong that they keep finding fools to rush in and show us on TV just how foolish they are.  When and if one arises, we’ll all be dead and gone or close to it before we know if it was successful, at least by my definition.

So let’s get the simple fact out of the way.  I believe marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman made before God and witnessed by friends and family.  It is not a promise, a cool thing to do when you are drunk in Vegas and you met the girl of your dreams in the hot tub the night before, or a legal contract.  For this reason I do not believe in same sex marriage in the same form.  A legal union, some ceremony sure, but God is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman and that is the only format He recognizes.  In this case as in any other, as we as a society move further and further away from the simple direction provided in the Bible, we get more and more lost as to the true value of what it is we are changing.  We have created confusion by requiring a marriage “license” just as we must have a driver’s license or a dog license.  Is the state allowing me to have a wife, or to “operate” her?  The concept in itself is really a little off kilter.  If you delve into the rationale for this requirement it usually stems from a few things. The government wants to avoid the spreading of disease and the marriage of minors who may not have the capacity to consent properly.  It also would like to avoid health issues by not allowing closely related individuals to marry and have children.  More properly what the state is doing is checking against standards for the common good and permitting us to proceed, hence I think it should more properly be called a marriage permit.  Just as I need a permit to gather a group in a public space or to add on to my home.  The permit implies a checkpoint in a process.  A building permit allows you to build something but is not then allowing the existence of it in perpetuity.  Similarly in a marriage they are checking the ability to marry, not allowing you to stay married.  A dog license allows me to legally continue to own my dog.  The marriage license does not allow me to legally keep my spouse.  It expires in 60 days. 

So why this tirade on something so seemingly trivial?  Because I think it begins as the basis for why many view marriage as nothing more than a legal contract.  If one side or the other breaches a contract the other party just walks away.  Having marriage be disposable removes the value of it from societal view.  Too many people view it as something on their bucket list.

Marriage is to be permanent and divorce is not an option.  There is no doubt in my mind and soul that what will happen this May will result in anything other than me having my fiancée at my side through life until one of us dies.  Tony Evans has a great sermon I have seen segments of in the Divorce Care classes.  He goes through the traditional wedding vows and explains how you are anticipating bad times and you are telling God you are committed to getting married.  When people choose to write their own vows, is this part of the reason, because they find them too constraining?  I have no idea, but it certainly seems possible.  If you want to look at your wife as something to be tossed aside when she’s “broken” like an old toy, and replaced by a newer, more functional model then do the world a favor and stay single.  I know my wife will get old.  That’s not a surprise to me.  I’m pretty sure she knows the same about me.  I know she might change careers, clothes, hairstyles.  We both like to hike, but I understand one day we won’t be able to go as far or as high as we can now.  Does this mean I should be upset with the changes and turn her in for a 2020 model with more sporty lines and a shiny exterior?  I find the concept appalling.  I am one of those guys that stops being friends with you if you do that.  That’s a character flaw to the core.  I’m not going to high five you for getting a trophy wife; I’m going to make you understand what you did wrong by being so shallow.  That tends to end a friendship for some reason.

I used to wonder how couples were happy after so many years of marriage, when we were so miserable in quiet solitude in ours.  I’ve learned that’s because the bond of love was formed differently than it was in my failed marriage.  I’m not in love with my fiancée because of the activities we do together, or how we can make each other’s lives easier.  I am madly in love with her because I know she believes in Jesus Christ as the center of her universe and I know what that means for every other action she will take.  Everything else is a spin off of that.  Her compassion comes from that.  Her tenderness comes from that.  Her passion comes from that.  Her sense of right and wrong is forged and developed from His teachings.  Her understanding to stand beside me as a partner is borne from that.  I hear people say they got divorced because their spouse “changed” and I argue that usually means that they fell in love with the superficial things and did not fall in love with the soul and character of the person.  Things that my fiancée finds fun today may not be what she finds fun tomorrow.  She may “change”, in popular parlance.  If I loved her for the fact that she enjoys hiking, cats and Betty White then I would have a problem.  She may decide hiking is no longer fun or too strenuous or and take up skydiving.  But she won’t suddenly decide that being married to her means sleeping around with five men nor will she decide she needs to artificially enhance anything to be more showy.  She won’t suddenly decide to treat everyone with disrespect and malice.  That won’t change.  And that’s why it’s crucial to find out what that core is like and fall in love with that.  That’s what I did not know in my failed marriage.  The core does not change.  The window dressing may, but if the core is something you disagree with, you will always disagree with the draperies too.  The long married couple usually understands this and that’s why they never fall out of love.  They may disagree, argue and fuss, but at the end of the day they know their partner has good intentions and they work back towards that core. 

I could have remained single.  I would have until I found someone who had a solid core or until I decided I was no longer interested in trying to find them.  My guess is by about sixty I would have thrown in the towel, but it is the other things of what I believe a marriage is that would have kept me going till at least then.

Being married to someone grounded spiritually creates a situation where you share yourself and your gifts with someone in a way like no other.  You can trust that individual to guide you in the proper path when you begin to stray.  To hold you accountable when temptations rush in and you act in an ungodly way.  To work with you to build an environment to help grow children who love God and therefore others and to stop perpetuating the self centeredness and entitlement that is so prevalent.  It is hard to put into words the feelings that come with entering into a marriage this way.  I know we will support each other when needed.  I know we will always strive to do the right things.  I know I have found my Earthly partner to do good things for the glory of God and bring others into his light by our example.  It just feels awesome.