Tag Archives: Relationships

“… and the Ugly”: part 1


In my first Indifferent Muddle post, I referenced Emerson Eggerichs’ Love & Respect, a book I recommend highly. I mentioned how he and the Byerlys, of Generous Husband and Generous Wife, speak of good-willed spouses, husbands and wives who do have goodwill in their hearts toward each other. It was in that first post that I discussed that not all marriages have spouses who are still good-willed, hence the Indifferent Muddle.

I tend to see things as being on a continuum instead of terms of black and white, and marriages are no exception. As I’ve been thinking about all of this, I see the marriage continuum as resembling this little graphic:

Marriage continuum

Having dealt with the Muddle, I want to address those marriages that have moved from generous good-will, past the Muddle into, erm, well…, for want of a better word, Hades.

As I’ve stated before, I highly recommend Eggerichs’ L&R; that being said, I do have one caveat. The book is directed toward “good-willed” marriages; not that this is a crime, mind you. He freely admits that the husbands and wives that he writes about, who are having communication difficulties, are still in love with each other and want to have great marriages together. These marriages aren’t really “on the rocks”; as Eggerichs points out, neither husband or wife hates or even dislikes the other, but through hurt and misunderstanding have come to a rocky place in their marriage. 

But he realizes that his audience isn’t in Hades.

The Fly In The Ointment

Okay, it’s time to “tell the truth and shame the devil,” as the old saying goes. None of us are ever keen on airing dirty laundry in public, and we in the Church are among the world’s best when it comes to evading uncomfortable truths and topics. We can mumble, harrumph, and mouth pious platitudes with the best that the world has to offer when it comes to avoiding the ugly truths we don’t want to talk about. But we all know that despite all our preaching about the blessedness of marriage, the dirty little secret is that there are some “christian” marriages that aren’t so much “made in heaven” as they are spawned in Hades.

As I’ve mentioned in past postings, I have been participating and posting in a non-Christian forum, and I am reading of situations in which all traces of good-will and generosity are gone. I’m talking about marriages where name-calling, disrespect and animosity aren’t just occurrences, but an entire way of life. But here’s what’s killing me; I’m also reading of similar marriages on christian marriage fora.

It’s heartbreaking. As I’ve said before, marriage isn’t supposed to hurt.

I am not the only person reading/dealing with people who are in Hades-type marriages. Recently, Paul Byerly, of Generous Husband, wrote a blog post that, for him, was quite unusual; it was entitled My Nightmare Marriage. Don’t let the title throw you; when he says “nightmare”, he means “nightmare,” as in a bad dream he experienced. In the comments section of his post, I asked if he knew what might have triggered such a dream, and he wrote of trying to help people who were in such marriages, in recent months; he thought it might have caused his dream.

Both Paul and I write for christian audiences, and so these nightmarish, Hades marriages that we come in contact with are “christian” marriages. We understand that the world gets marriage and sex wrong, and so we’re not surprised when non-christian marriages go south, but the truth that the church tries to ignore is that christian marriages go south, too. And people are hurting because of our desire to hide the, oh so ugly.

“Invested Selfishness”

In writing about the Indifferent Muddle, I spoke about marital drift. I said that no one intends to direct their marriage into the Muddle, but through indifference, care-lessness, and what I call “casual selfishness,” marriages end up in the backwaters and eddies that are the Muddle.

Care-lessness? – yes, not having a care, just drifting. Not being intentional in working on the marriage.
Casual selfishness? – yes, not intending to take from your spouse, but making choices that add up to “Me uber alles.”

But then there is Invested Selfishness, where one intentionally looks out for #1. For this person,  marriage has become a life-enhancement accessory. When it comes to trying to define someone who has come to invest in their selfishness, there’s no way I could begin to provide a catalog of the different methods by which those invested in their personal selfishness work to create a Hades.

I could try to come up with different character types, such as the Shrew or the Man-Child, the Terrorist or the Princess, to try to categorize the different ways by which a spouse makes a home a Hell, but again, I would run the danger of leaving your particular sin off the list. Instead, I think that a better indicator for judging your marriage is simply your reaction to being in your own home.

Decades ago, I heard a minister say that Christians are ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom here on earth, and that a christian home is like an embassy of heaven. From that statement, I’ve had the idea that a christian home should be a sanctuary, a place where the stresses of the world can’t enter and where God’s peace and love abides. For me, leaving work every day and driving about twenty miles to my home was just that. Entering my home at the end of a workday was pure heaven for me.

Contrast that to someone whose home is a Hades. In my reading, I’ve come across such statements as:

“I have to take Tums in order to enter my house.”
“Lately, I realized that I started driving slower as I neared our home. Apparently, my subconscious mind didn’t want me to arrive.”
“I’m spending more time at work or at the gym in order to spend less time at home.”
“I find that the best part of my life is when my wife has to travel on business. Is that wrong?”

I realize that, as Christians, we are expected to put on our “I’m blessed” face for the world and make like everything is just peachy-keen, but be honest with yourself: can you identify with any of the above statements? Or maybe you have your own version of these aversion statements? Plain and simple, if your home is not your sanctuary from the world, where do you see yourself on the Marriage Continuum?

In my Indifferent Muddle post, I gave some suggestions for trying to move your marriage from the slough of the Muddle back onto the road of a good marriage. In my next post, I want to piggy-back on some ideas that Paul B. made in HIS follow-up post, and resurrect some of my old posts that can help someone dealing with a Hades in their home.

More to come…


Disclaimer: I am not a counselor, doctor, or pastor. For that matter, Wife says I don’t play well with others. My advice and comments come from my concern for hurting Christian husbands and wives. Someone once said to me, “Church shouldn’t hurt”, and I believe the same thing goes for marriage. I’m going to call ‘em as I see ‘em, but please, don’t take my word as gospel. Yes, read what I say, pray about what I say, but do your own “due diligence.”


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Smack Dab In The Muddle, pt. 2


In my last post, I wrote about the state that many marriages find themselves in, that of the Indifferent Muddle. In this condition, husband and wife plod through their married life with a growing indifference in how they live in their marriages, since the marriage is carried on by rote. Oh, if asked, each will say, “I love my husband/wife!”, but maybe, if pressed about desire and attraction for their spouse, they will agree with the old Amish saying, “Cooking lasts.” Passion, however? E-e-eh, not so much. Continue reading

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Smack Dab In The Muddle, pt. 1


Many of the authors and bloggers I read make it a point to emphasize generosity and good-will. Two of my favorite bloggers are Paul and Lori Byerly, authors the Generous Husband and Generous Wife blogs (I read them every morning, without fail.) Another example would be Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect, who peppers his writings with statements on how most spouses are not evil jerks and witches, but truly do have good-will for their mates (a statement with which I agree, by the way). Continue reading


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“It’s Y’ALL’S Sex Life”

Just a quick-hitter this week.

If you’ve read much of my blog, you will have come across the above title any number of times; it’s become one of my mantras. Just a few minutes ago, I read an article that came out last week from the Chicago Tribune, telling of a survey done by the Pew Research Center.

The take-away from the Pew study was supposed to be that shared chores was that the key to a happy marriage. The survey of 35,000 adults showed that 56% of the respondents said that “shared chores” were very important to a happy marriage. In fact, that was the headline of the Pew Center’s article. Continue reading


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Twain on Relationships, part 4


Here are the links to Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

This is my last post on Mark Twain’s Diaries of Adam and Eve, and while Eve’s observation about how it is preferable to be alone rather than unwanted was an eye-opener (Diary post #3), I love the way that Twain developed his two characters, and gives insight into masculine and feminine psyches. Yes, your cuddly Curmudgeon is a throw-back, and for that I make no apologies, so if someone wants to take me to task for not being grounded in the 21st century — oh well, and shuckydarn. Continue reading


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Twain On Relationships, part 2


Here are the links to Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.

I’m writing about some of insights I observed as I re-read an old favorite, Mark Twain’s Diaries of Adam and Eve.This is just a short one, today, with seeds of a rant that I will hint at, but probably not develop at this time.

In my last post, there was a hint of a problem beginning to raise its head in Paradise. After Eve started naming and labelling everything around them, Adam says, “My life is not as happy as it was.” Continue reading


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Twain on Relationships, pt. 1


And now for something completely different on this blog. Extremely different.

To my mind, one of the greatest commenters on the human condition (and all-around great curmudgeons who ever lived) was Mark Twain. A veritable quote machine, it’s quite possible that he was America’s first superstar. Yes, his books are classic literature; of course he defined classic literature for us as books “which people praise and nobody reads.” For me, one of the plusses about Twain is that he truly pissed off the Moral Majority of his day with the book Huck Finn (come to  think of it, he still does.) Louisa May Alcott was on the committee that got it banned from the Concord, MA, library.

But lost in all the humor and quotes is the fact that Twain was a keen observer of humanity. Oh, he could engage in wondrous verbal slice-and-dice in his writing and speaking, and could make jokes at the drop of a hat, but behind the mask was an understanding of people: their foibles, their pomposities, and their cussed humanity. Continue reading


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