Deane's Blog

marriage

Thirty-seven Valentine's Days Later

FamilyDeane Watters4 Comments

On the day my husband and I got married, back in 1979, my pastor brother spoke at our wedding and said many wonderful and witty things. But the statement we quote the most is the one when he said that Brian certainly wasn't perfect but he was definitely perfect for me. We all laughed but little did we know at the time how very true this was! Here are a few of the ways this little sentence has led to thirty-seven Valentine's Days together:

  • Well, our first Valentine's Day as a married couple didn't go very well. I thought about it all day and wondered what he might have dreamed up for us to do together. All day. When he finally got home from work, rather late I might add, he changed into his gym clothes and told me he was going to play basketball with some friends. "What? It's Valentine's Day!" He was quite surprised by my reaction so he let me know that he thought Valentine's Day was something kids celebrated at school, not something adults did! Ahh. Well, every year since then has gone MUCH better after I explained my view on the matter. I guess that's what I got for marrying a man who was already thirty-five years old!
  • For many years our routine, before Brian retired, found me up for an early morning walk. By the time I got home, he was already out the door and off to work. He and his partner owned their business, so putting in many hours each day and on Saturdays was normal. Some of these days were long and difficult especially when kids came into the picture. But we know that God is love. He wrote the book on love. We know that because He loves us, we have a way to love each other, even when things are hard. 1 John 4:7-8 tells us, Beloved, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  God is the one who gave us the good gift called love. When our marriage didn't feel like a "good" gift we kept at it and walked through each day simply caring for one another from one day to the next.
  • I found many things to admire in Brian and this helped as we navigated the decisions facing us: children, schooling, church, friends, family. My respect for him and his kind love for me held us strong many times. Brian has a way of just being who he is. No game playing with this guy. Having come from a broken home, I was determined to have a marriage that was strong, happy and solid. For the most part, we were able to navigate it as such... but there were days when I thought he could do some things differently.
  • But one day I woke up and realized that I would be smart to focus on the many good attributes of this man, rather than the things I felt he could do better. I always say it like this: I learned to focus on what IS and not on what IS NOT. It has made a great foundation for me and enabled me to really love my husband instead of trying to FIX him. (Husbands don't fix very well. Believe me, I know.)
  • We have become strong believers in showing respect and kindness to one another. Good hard listening and talking things out are the magic pills for getting on the same page. Praying together, reading the Bible together and going to church together keeps us going the same direction spiritually.  Its all amazing to me. I couldn't be more thankful.

We have settled in to a way to celebrate Valentines Day every year. I bake him a cherry pie and he buys me flowers. I'm so good with that. I have to admit that I need words to accompany those flowers but after thirty-seven Valentine's Days, he knows that.

Yep. He certainly is...perfect for me.

My Husband is Not my Girlfriend

FamilyDeane Watters9 Comments

There I stood. All by myself in front of a group of women I had just met the night before. They had invited me to speak about prayer and my preparation had been extensive and diligent. Hours of study had produced three forty-five minute talks and I knew my notes well. I was ready. But this segment was different! Nothing could have prepared me for on-the-spot questions…because they were, well, on the spot. A question would be picked from the basket and I would respond right then and there.

What might they want to know? What kinds of questions would they ask me?

I stood there feeling quite vulnerable, wondering what the next few minutes might bring.

But I didn’t need to worry. The questions were excellent and I answered them with the best of my "off-the-top-of-my-head" answers. It turned out to be quite fun actually. After the weekend was over I found myself thinking about some of my answers. What did I say? What might I have answered if I had more time to think?

One question and answer stood out to me:

What advice would you give to a young bride?

After the question was posed, I remembered back to a woman who offered me advice on that very topic many years ago. She said, “Keep your girlfriends. Your husband is not a girl; never has been and never will be. So keep close to your girlfriends. You need them.” As I spoke this out to this group of women, another thought came into my mind so I spoke it out as an afterthought.

"And don’t try to turn your husband into a girlfriend. Let him be a man.”

I was kind of proud of myself as I mouthed these wise and thought provoking words. Later, though, I wondered if, throughout our marriage, I had let my husband be a man. I have to admit that I didn’t do it very well at first.

My dad left our family early in my life and died when I was twelve years old.  I was young and he was rather troubled and our family just hung on trying to survive. I don’t think I had any insight into healthy husband or dad behavior…or even healthy man behavior for that matter. My mother stayed single for the rest of her life.

So when we got married, it is pretty safe to say that I really didn’t have a clue how this was all going to work. I just knew that we WERE going to be a HAPPY family.

I remember having expectations for him as a husband as well as a dad, without a good role model myself. I recalled many hard discussions on how to "build a relationship”. There were days when his work-hard ethic was confusing to me and his love of exercise and sports kept him from us. In so many ways I DID want him to be different than who he was. Was I trying to turn him into a girlfriend?

  • I wanted him to take the kids out on dates to talk over a hamburger. He wanted them to run with him.
  • I wanted him to snuggle on the couch with them; he was more interested in wrestling.

Ummm. I wonder if that was kind of like girlfriend-turning!

After reading Wild at Heart, by John Eldridge, I came to understand my husband and sons better.

He writes," Women are often attracted to the wilder side of a man, but once having caught him they settle down to the task of domesticating him.”

I have a kind and patient husband who did all he could do to make me happy, not an easy task.

Eldridge further wrote, “They may be misplaced, forgotten or misdirected, but in the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, adventures to live and a beauty to rescue."

So, here’s the thing. After lots of years of missing the boat, and learning some things, I have come to a few conclusions.

  • I don’t try to compete with sports on TV. I love it when he is happy. That is how he relaxes. That is how he lives with a competitive tension that he needs. I sit with him and sometimes read a book. He doesn’t mind. He likes me to be with him.
  • I don’t insist that he take a shower every day! Oh dear, have I said too much? He is not a smelly person so it would be a hard argument on that point.
  • When he complains about the conditions of the street every time we go out in the car, I have to remember that he needs battles to fight.
  • When he led me on amazingly long, steep, exhausting and dangerous hikes in the National Parks, I carefully tried not to have thoughts of murder. He needs adventures to live. And hey, I survived several great escapades I would have missed out on if I had insisted on comfort and safety.
  • And as for a beauty to rescue, I fit the bill. I need him desperately for all kinds of things like names I have forgotten, places we have visited, all that yard work, jars that need opening, finding and taking care of leaks in our roof, directions to anywhere we have been before and all kinds of trivia that I do not understand how one brain can hold, as well as someone who loves me as I am and cherishes me, our God and our marriage.
  • My respect of him is worth so much more than trying to change him into someone he is not.
  • And…focusing on what IS is so much healthier than focusing on what ISN’T.

 

I guess after being married for thirty-seven years, we have learned a few things that have moved our relationship into a peaceful and satisfying bond. Our faith in God’s goodness has matured also, which adds to the adventure that we enjoy. What will He do to show himself today? What can we learn today that will increase our faith? How can we show God’s kindness and grace to each other and to people around us? The ways to grow close never end!

Stepping up in front of that group of women was risky. Thankfully they were amazingly kind and the questions were not difficult. Now after thinking it over, I think this was my best answer.

But I can’t help but wonder, if the advice I gave to that young bride was really a reminder to myself.

Surrounded by Favor

Faith, FamilyDeane Watters2 Comments

img_1461Many years ago, back in the day when I was so unsure of just about everything, my husband and I were dressing for a wedding. I had a pretty new pink dress on and, I have to admit, my hair had turned out just right. As I applied lipstick and picked up my little purse, my husband came back into the room and saw me in this prettied-up state for the first time. He looked at me and said….wait for it…."Ready to go?"

I told this story recently in front of a group of women and I heard a collective gasp. Really. They all knew exactly what I was talking about! They knew the feeling of wanting to be told. They identified with the pain of not getting what I needed in that moment: to be assured that I was OK, that I looked pretty, that I was special to him.

Needless to say, we had a tense drive to that wedding.

Later, after processing a bit, I was able to sit with him and express how I felt and my need for his verbal approval. He,who is such a sweet person who would NEVER do anything to hurt me, took this advice and tucked it into his understanding for later use.

I told him, that by telling me his thoughts about me  he was building a protection around me. My little girl heart needed to hear that I was pretty. I needed to hear that I was his favored one.  All of that solid reassurance and understanding could have been communicated in one enthusiastic, “You look great!” It didn't have to be over the top. His simple regard and admiration would have felt like a warm blanket around me; a shield that could help me feel secure. Perhaps it could even keep me from trying to find that favor in the eyes of someone else.

I know my husband loves and approves of me. He is the one I run to when I need reassurance. His practical and steady ways keep me secure!  I know I don’t need to search for that kind of assurance any where else.

I have also learned ways to communicate my favor toward him, enabling him to feel his own sense of admiration and approval from me.

It also needs to be said that I have grown to like myself better. My husband was not the only one who needed to learn to express approval to me.

I think that is why I love this verse in Psalm 5:11-12. But let all who take refuge in you (God) be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

The psalmist is telling God that he knows that He loves His people! His love protects them from looking toward other "false gods" or lesser things to worship or to fill themselves up. His approval provides a solid place on which to build their lives.

My husband’s approval delights me. God’s approval knocks my socks off. These dependable relationships allow me the freedom to be me and to express my one little life fully in the joy of a protected one. I live thankful... amazed, really, because it feels so undeserved and unearned.

I encourage you. If you don’t feel solid with God, go to the Bible and find out what He really thinks of you. A few places to start might be: Zephaniah 3:17 (he takes delight in you), Jeremiah 31:3 (he loves you with an everlasting love), 1 Peter 5:6-7 (he cares for you). These may be difficult to comprehend. If you can’t get your heart around them, then read about what Jesus did so that God could love you like this. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8)

And my husband? He's gotten better at telling me that I look nice. I have to be patient and let him express himself the way he is comfortable. But this far into this marriage thing, I know how he feels about me and I rest in the comfortable grace that surrounds and protects us both.

five discoveries that made our marriage better

FamilyDeane Watters3 Comments

I woke up today to find that our daughter had posted a blog here on her photography website entitled, "3 Lessons I Learned from Marriage." Inspired after finding myself quoted there, I started thinking about what else I have learned about marriage in these thirty-six years that has made us feel like a success. Here are a few for you to consider:

  1. It is better to focus on what is rather than on what isn't. Unfortunately I learned this after doing just the opposite. Having grown up in a home with a marriage that didn't work out, I wasn't sure how to navigate what I hoped would be the "perfect" marriage. I felt there was plenty of change that needed to take place and that attitude led to some unhappy years for me. Time and maturity helped me wake up to find that I was married to a pretty amazing guy. I have much to be thankful for as I keep my eyes and heart focused on what I love about him rather than what I wish was different.
  2. It's OK to be different from each other. My husband and I are incredibly unalike. He often makes note of that fact when I hyper focus on something and he fears that my "brain might explode" with such passion to learn! He's basically content with who he is. I'm incredibly eager to grow and change. He can sit in front of the TV for hours watching golf, basketball, football, and even a bit of wrestling! I listen to the radio, search for podcasts and write every day. Reading the newspaper from cover to cover is his never-to-be-forgotten daily routine. My never-to-be-overlooked practice is an early morning quiet hour and meeting the walking girls for a super hike up and down the hills of Bever Park. He, a lover of numbers; I, a lover of words. His perfect day is to work in the yard, making beautiful flower gardens and a well groomed property. My dream day is to sit at my computer and create blogs or lessons plans for teaching. He knows more trivia than can ever be expected in a person's brain. I forget names, numbers and how to get back to places we've driven to many times. For our church, he manages money; I facilitate a class for women.What I love about this is that we don't expect each other to be the same. We actually enjoy the differences, well... most of the time.
  3. It is important to talk together and listen well. One of the things we learned early on, was the importance of listening to each other. I need Brian's input. I have a hard time making decisions so I need his practical view and I depend on him more than I care to admit! He needs my "heart vision," my intuition and my relationship focus. We could never tap into those strengths if we didn't offer respect and curiosity for the other's point of view, as different as they can be. Listening is crucial.
  4. Faith creates a common ground. We are both believers in and followers of Christ. Our passions lie in different aspects of our faith, but this sharing binds us. I love to stand next to him in church; my shoulder fits perfectly as I press into his.  Together we  journey with a faith in something bigger than ourselves and this gives us hope for the future as well as a grounding for today.
  5. Marriage is better with friends. I was told, when we were newly married, that one of the best things I could do for my marriage would be for me to have girlfriends. Fellow females fill my need to deeply connect. I often find myself in coffeeshops participating in such conversation. He also needs guy friends who like to exercise, who need help with house renovations, who want to meet for lunch or go fishing. Together we need couple friends who will come to dinner or go to a movie.

After all these years together, there are many other lessons. These will have to wait until another inspirational day when I find myself choosing to sit back and count my blessings.

What have you realized in your marriage that has made it better?

View More: http://hannahwhite.pass.us/watters

Thanks to Hannah for inspiring me with her unique words of wisdom over at hannahwhite.biz and for the photo above.