Monthly Archives: February 2015

Great Minds, #3

What it comes down to is this: if you need something from your husband, or if you want something from your husband, speak up!

Your humble Curmudgeon, last week.

How to Ask for What You Want–Just Say It!

Sheila Wray Gregoire, 2/27/2015.

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Apostle’s Creed, part 10

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified,

died,

The story goes that a group of college students, having lunch in the cafeteria, began to talk about dying, and the consensus was that it wasn’t something that any of them thought about, that it was the furthest thing from anyone’s mind.

There was an older student in the cafeteria, a nun, who was taking refresher classes at the college. The students turned to her, since she was older than them, and a religious “authority”, to boot, and asked her, “Do you ever think about death and dying?”

The nun, in her middle 50’s, replied, “I think about death every day. I’m in my 50’s, and I know that the average life span is 75 years. If statistics are true, that means I will only live another 20 years, at most, and every day brings me one day closer to that reality.” Needless to say, they were given something to think about.

Two aphorisms are often with me:

“No one gets out of this life alive.”
“Don’t take life so serious, son, it ain’t nohow permanent.” (Porky Pine, in Pogo; Walt Kelly)

Life is a terminal disease; everyone comes with an expiration date. And just as determined as we are to try to avoid thinking about death, the thought of death is just that persistent in being heard, constantly niggling at the back of our minds.

But as Christians, we know that death, while serious, ain’t nohow permanent. Jesus, God incarnate, died on Pilate’s cross. He tasted death (Heb. 2:9), but as our Pioneer (Heb. 12:2), our Trailblazer, He opened the way to Eternal Life.

Yes, death is a fact of life. But for the Christian, it ain’t nohow permanent.

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Hard Things To Hear, #4: It’s a Woman Thing

(This is the fourth of a seven-part series; here are the links to part 1, part 2, part 3, part 5, part 6 and part 7.)

In John 6:60, some objected to what Jesus was saying: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”. While I’m not Jesus, there are some who will attest that I provoke the same reaction. Might be what I’m saying, but it’s possible it might be my manner. Be that as it may, I’m going to pull rank and lay some things on the line in the next few posts. I’m going to present some things that might be hard to hear, but trust me; forty-three years of marriage is coming at ya!

In preparing this post, I thought that I would be able to turn the previous post around and apply it to women, saying, “Put down the electronics, log off of Facebook, and engage the hubs”, but that didn’t work. While Wife and I have had a real-life example of that very thing occur very close to home, it just didn’t ring true. Why? Because the truth is that wives, for the most part, WANT to engage with their husbands, so telling them to “grow up and take the marriage relationship seriously” just doesn’t seem to be all that useful.

But the more I cogitated on a female cognate for “It’s a Man Thing”, a truism of marriage came to my mind, and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to be to be accurate. The truism, which I’m sure we can all pretty much recite together, is “A man marries a woman hoping she will never change; a woman marries a man hoping he will.” And I think that, like many truisms, there’s more than a grain of truth in it. So if I’m going to say to husbands, “Grow up!”, I think that what I should tell wives is that

You Married A Man, Not a Fixer-Upper!

Please pay attention to this next line, because it contains a secret that is, apparently, not widely known in today’s society. Ready? Here it is: by God’s design,…

Men are different from women.

If one accepts the common stereotypical portrait of men, you come up with the following categories and descriptors of masculinity:

Physical: bigger, stronger, hairier.
Social: more ambitious, more adventurous, more competitive.
Relational: less communicative, more confident, cerebral (as opposed to intuitive).
Emotional: less emotional, more independent,  less empathetic, more sexually aggressive.

On the surface, these seem to be accurate descriptors. However, a problem arises when accurate descriptors are seen not as traits, but as symptoms of defectiveness and need of correction. Prof. Henry Higgins asked “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Our society has posited, “Why can’t a man be more like a woman?”, and proceeded to try to bend the gender.

If you think I’m off-base with this, I’ll have to point out to you that it’s not just me saying this. Of course, there’s the go-to author on this topic, scholar and feminist Dr. Christine Hoff Sommers, and her seminal work, The War Against Boys. An even more surprising advocate of this premise is lesbian writer and iconoclast, Camille Paglia. In an article from last year, Paglia presents the case that our culture is emasculating itself into oblivion. This is the first paragraph:

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

It’s pretty much a given that our society is making war on men; Christian wives shouldn’t be buying into the world’s lies. Husbands are no more a DIY project than wives are.

There’s Only One God, and You’re Not Him

Years ago, when I was a new Christian, the people who were discipling me, while well-intentioned, tried to play Holy Spirit for me. I grew up loving the smell of pipe smoke; one special cherry-flavored blend was particularly wonderful, and so when I left home and joined the Navy, I bought a pipe and took to smoking Captain Black Cherry pipe tobacco.

A couple of years later, when I became a Christian, these nice people told me “Christians don’t smoke,” and since they told me that, I said, “Oh, I guess I’d better not smoke, then.” Fast-forward about five years to when I’m out of the Navy, going to college, and working part-time in a Christian bookstore. One day, I’m opening boxes of new stock and find that we’ve received a new edition of a book by that great Christian writer, C. S. Lewis. Imagine my shock when I opened up the cover and found this on the inside of the dust jacket:

They Lied To Me!

Those well-meaning Christians, eager to set me straight, didn’t give the Holy Spirit room to work on me, but decided to help God out. They had a new Christian on their hands, and so began to do renovation work for the Holy Spirit.

Wives, when you got married, God didn’t give you a fixer-upper. He didn’t say, “Hon, here’s your DIY project. I’ll check back with you in forty years to see how you’re getting on.” In a previous post, I said that due to The Fall, no one comes into a marriage as a whole person. Yes, marriage changes people. It changes men and it changes women. However, this change has to come about “organically”, as a part of growth.

And that’s the key word: growth. In my previous post, I told husbands “Grow up and become a man!” In this post, I’m saying to wives, “Grow up and accept your man as a man!”

CSL

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Hard Things To Hear, #3: It’s A Man Thing

(This is the third of a seven-part series; here are the links to part 1, part 2, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7.)

In John 6:60, some objected to what Jesus was saying: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”. While I’m not Jesus, there are some who will attest that I provoke the same reaction. Might be what I’m saying, but it’s possible it might be my manner. Be that as it may, I’m going to pull rank and lay some things on the line in the next few posts. I’m going to present some things that might be hard to hear, but trust me; forty-three years of marriage is coming at ya!

Okay, here’s where I’m probably going to lose my Mr. NiceCurmudgeon image, because I’m going to address a problem that I am reading about, and that is boys pretending to be men. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read of wives – wives! married, get that? – who tell of husbands that spend their time away from work either playing video games or off with their buds seeking some adrenaline rush from their latest exploits.  Continue reading

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Matinee Mondays: A Song Is Born

curtains

Last week, I raved about the movie Ball of Fire, featuring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. What do you do if you are a movie maker and you own a story that did well in 1941? And if you own a studio that makes the best technicolor musicals in Hollywood? And if you own such talent as Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo? You do a remake of the story, cast Kaye and Mayo as the love interests, and make a musical.

And if you’re movie producer Samuel Goldwyn, you load it up with as many great musical stars as you can. After all, nothing succeeds like excess. And that is how A Song Is Born was born.

Yes, the same plot is used: a group of cloistered, bookish professors are working to produce an encyclopedia; this time, an encyclopedia of the history of music, with accompanying recordings (gotta have those great musicians). And as in the first movie, a gangster’s moll needs a place to hide out and gets herself sequestered with the professors. A charming story, with Danny Kaye pulling off another Walter Mitty-esque performance as the bookish scholar.

But the selling point? Oh, the music! This scene features, in one room, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Barnet, Mel Powell, The Golden Gate Quartet and the Page Cavanaugh Trio. CSL

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Hard Things To Hear, #2: It’s a Clear Thing

(This is the second of a seven-part series; here are the links to part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7.)

In John 6:60, some objected to what Jesus was saying: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”. While I’m not Jesus, there are some who will attest that I provoke the same reaction. Might be what I’m saying, but it’s possible it might be my manner. Be that as it may, I’m going to pull rank and lay some things on the line in the next few posts. I’m going to present some things that might be hard to hear, but trust me; forty-three years of marriage is coming at ya!

Wives, this one’s to you; how many of you have the last name “Kreskin”? No one? Okay, then why would you think that you married The Great Kreskin? Prof. Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady, had it right about men: “By and large, we are a marvelous sex!” That’s why you married us; we are that good! But we aren’t psychic!! We don’t come equipped with one of these:

crystal Continue reading

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Hard Things To Hear #1 : It’s a Clean Thing

(This is the first of a seven-part series; here are the links to part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7.)

In John 6:60, some objected to what Jesus was saying: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”. While I’m not Jesus, there are some who will attest that I provoke the same reaction. Might be what I’m saying, but it’s possible it might be my manner. Be that as it may, I’m going to pull rank and lay some things on the line in the next few posts. I’m going to present some things that might be hard to hear, but trust me; forty-three years of marriage is coming at ya!

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Guys, this post is directed at you. Let me introduce you to…

soap

I know that we like to be “Manly Men”™, and our man-culture tells us that sweaty and dirty is butch, er, manly. My question is this: who are you wanting to sleep with, your buds in the mud or your wife? Guess what, guys? While there may be outliers on the Smell Scale, most women are not into sweat and dirt. How do I know? Check their kitchens, bathrooms and boudoirs.

In the kitchen, you won’t find your wife running around saying, “A place for everything and where in Hades did I put it?” In the bathroom, how many soaps, shampoos, washes and lotions do you find on the counters and in the cabinets? In the bedroom, can you number the perfumes, colognes, sachets and scented candles?

For years, my concern was only about  how spiffy I was when I left the house in the morning, heading for work. Was I fresh and sparkling clean for my co-workers and students? But for my wife, when I got home? Eh, not so much. It took me years, and a hard conversation or two, to realize that after a day’s work, maybe I wasn’t so fresh.

It’s a Jungle Down There!

Guys, look at the geography of the situation: two land masses join the mainland right at Happy Town. The body is designed to keep Camp Crotch warm, in order to protect our swimmers. It gets hot and sweaty down there, and the conditions can get rather rank. In other words, many of us rot fast. To make matters worse, God has given our wives more acute olfactory abilities. Or as this article says, women smell better.

So here it is, in plain English, guys: get spiffy for the girl. Wash up and slosh on a little English Leather or something. Make the girl happy.

Addendum: I just read this to Wife (she of the 43+ years), and she said to tell you guys this: “She might not tell you, but believe me, she knows!”

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Matinee Monday: Ball of Fire

curtains

Ball of Fire (1942) is one film I dearly love. “How do I love thee; let me count the ways…”

1 – Believe it or not, it is a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, only with Snow White being a gangster’s moll needing a place to hide out, and the Seven Dwarves being eight professors living cloistered lives writing an encyclopedia. Continue reading

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Christian Go-To Marital Tools, part 3.2

(This is the fifth of a five-part series; here are the links to part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.)

In my previous post, I presented how Mr. Natural is the Christian Go-To Marital Tool in many marriages. “Things will work themselves out in the end,” couples are told. What they are not told is that the end might be a devastating divorce or miserable marriage. I believe that The Student is the antidote to Mr. Natural. *

Two Presuppositions

Before I begin, however, I believe it imperative to state two premises that need to be taken as ‘givens’.

First, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage because there are no perfect people. Paul Byerly has said in one of his Generous Husband posts that all men come into marriage with a broken idea of intimacy due to porn in today’s society. I believe that there is no such things as a person who enters marriage whole. We are all broken, in some way, due to the fact that we live in a fallen world, and we have been nurtured in our selfish ways by this world. Whether it be because of bad teaching or bad experience, all come into the marriage with good intentions but broken conditions. Continue reading

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Christian Go-To Marital Tools, part 3.1

(This is the fourth of a five-part series; here are the links to part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 5.)

Okay, I’ve written about the poor sod who hopes God will work Jedi wonders on his wife, and of the Caspar Milquetoast who is a wonderful GCH™, and who “leads by serving”. It’s now time to discuss the third Christian Go-To Marital Tool, which is Nature. *

All too often, when a problem appears in a marriage, the initial attitude that is adopted is, “Give it time. Things have a way of working themselves out. Let nature takes its course, and things will be alright.” If one of the Christian tools is to ask God for a Jedi Mind Trick™, and a second is to adopt the attitude of Mr. Milquetoast, I’d say that the third most common christian go-to marital tool is to become Mr. Natural. Continue reading

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