JESS MACCALLUM

 

June 11, 1988


The

Adventure

Begins

Value your wife above everything all earthly things.

Adapted from “I Married Wonder Woman, Now What?”


     I married my wife because I couldn’t imagine ever finding her equal. I was in love, and I was also impressed. Her value was so clear that there was no way I was going to let her get away if I could do anything about it. I began with the perspective Adam had toward Eve when he first laid eyes on her: Wow! Long red hair, a natural, earthy style, and mischievous brown eyes that said, if you can’t take a joke, you’re going to regret ever meeting me. I certainly didn’t know God’s will for my life the first time I saw her, but I thought I knew my will for my life. As Wayne said of Cassandra in Wayne’s World, “She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine.”

     Proverbs 18:22 states, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.” God’s plan is to bless us men through this good thing. I had no doubt that this young lady was a very good thing! And just having her would be favor enough. It seemed that every time we were around each other her value to me grew. In fact I had seven years to confirm that she was valuable as she mostly ignored me. Well ignored may be too strong: the thesaurus says disregarded, overlooked, or bypassed would be equally descriptive. Just pick one. The point is I finally caught her, and the compliment of my life was that she traded all her other options (and they were numerous) for me.

     A strong beginning like we had is not terribly unusual though. Unfortunately however, over time, we men often fade in our enthusiasm as other things compete for our attention. Our “good thing” becomes part of the everyday scenery and values become relative. Not intentionally usually, and not because the “good thing” has stopped being good in itself. But life is a sneaky thing, you have to watch it every minute or stuff happens. Stuff that makes you go to counseling and sit there with your arms crossed, trying to sound like you’re not the one with the problem. Stuff that end marriages with both sides just sure it was the other’s fault.

     We get distracted from pursuing our spouse’s full potential rather easily. It’s like investing in a house expecting it to appreciate, but never spraying for termites, painting, roofing and doing all the other smart things. Then one day, surprise... you’re the one bringing down the neighborhood property values. Sort of like the guy in Luke 14 who started a project he couldn’t afford to finish and was ridiculed for poor planning. That’s just as possible with our marriages if we stop seeing the value of continuing to invest in our wives.



Braveheart!


     In the epic movie Braveheart, when as a boy, William Wallace is standing by his father's grave, the little girl, Murrin, gave him a thistle. Years later when Wallace returns (all grown up into Mel Gibson) he begins their courtship by giving her back the thistle pressed flat in a book. Boy did he make an impression. She knew immediately what kind of a man he had grown into. A man who would guard such a small thing simply because it came from her, could certainly be trusted with something of real value – her love.

     Unfortunately, in their case, things didn't work out so great and he had to kill half of England, but that's not the point. The point is that he was faithful in a little thing and was rewarded with something much greater.

     There’s a lot to be said for the small things. Most of a fulfilling marriage is made up of the small things. Things like daily courtesies, quick apologies, spontaneous affection; sacrifices of time and personal preferences; routine conversations over meals or before bed; ignoring idiosyncrasies and annoying habits. Many couples can weather the big stuff, but few enjoy the quality only the small stuff allows.



Tell the Boys When to Leave

Adapted from “Put the Seat Down”


     Is there anything more annoying and beautiful than a group of men? The loudness, the bodily functions, the need to best each other! It’s somehow tribal and necessary for a man to have comrades and competitors all bunched up together and ready to trample the unsuspecting. Glorious.

     But it’s your responsibility, Mister, to make sure your home is not overrun with Larrys and Daves and Ralphs. They may be great guys, but don’t let them overstay their welcome. If you do, your wife is going to start questioning where your loyalty lies. I promise.

     Proverbs 20:6 says, “Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?” Your wife is asking this question whether you can hear it or not!

     The Apostle Peter, who took his wife on ministry trips (1 Cor. 9:5) said, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect” (1 Peter 3:7).

     It’s all a matter of priority. Most of us men seem to get this whole thing the hard way, after the silent treatment or several arguments. Ultimately, you can choose whether this will be a source of great tension or a means to build intimacy by reinforcing personal loyalty. Here are some helpful ideas you can practice—starting today.


•Let your friends know that just dropping by isn’t going to cut it anymore. Make sure they call first.

•Communicate to everyone, especially your family, that your status has changed and there is no competition with your new wife when it comes to priority.

•Schedule a night (with your wife’s OK) to have the boys over. If you have masculine interests that are difficult for your wife to tolerate—like cranking up high-decibel music, hurling insults at refs on TV, or examining Jason’s newly bagged buck . . . with bullet holes—maybe you can host this event somewhere other than the living room.

•You could also encourage your wife to set a time to go out with her friends or have them over for a girls’ night. Hey, you could even be the cook or waiter for them! (She will most certainly turn your offer down, but you’ll get points for asking.)

•Whenever you make these social arrangements with your wife, remember two things: Make sure her agreement is totally voluntary, and check in with her once in a while to make sure she hasn’t changed her mind. Things can and do change.


     If you have clueless friends, difficult family members, or intrusive in-laws—(like any of those could ever become a possibility!)—you may want to sit them down privately and explain the new lay of the land. It should go something like this: “I put my wife first in my house. This little chat is my idea, and I’d like you to have time to adjust so that I don’t ever have to embarrass you at a social function—because I will never take your side over my wife’s.”



You Married an Ox


     Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.”

     Marrying a man is a trade off, like having an ox around. Men are a lot like oxen, and I am speaking from experience. We are usually bigger and stronger and less astute than women. Again, my own experience. We are basic, and designed to work (whether we like it or not). We come with consequences, occasionally messy ones. Sometimes in the house-would-eventually-be-condemned kind of way, sometimes emotionally, financially, socially or spiritually.

      Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that men generate mess as a byproduct of being men. We plow ahead, ox-like, stomping forward toward some goal and for us to do our thing, other things have to take a backseat. That can look really messy. This is true of women to some degree, but my experience has been that women are better balancers of the consequences of their work. I am more ox-like.

     But the good news according to the proverb above is that there is great reward with an ox! We are worth more than the mess we create. An empty manger may be more convenient, but there’s less value in it than a messy one.



I’m Drawing a Blank


     Men, fill in this blank: “Women are _________.” Too broad? Try this one: “American women are ________.” Still nothing?


        “Southern women are ________.”


        “Women in a 50-mile radius are __________.”


     If you can fill in any of those blanks accurately you are a smarter man than I. The best I can do are a few broad generalizations that aren’t necessarily helpful with the problem I have – “My wife is ________.” That’s the puzzle I have to solve, the adventure I am called to, the Ph.D. I am supposed to be working toward.

     I do like generalizations though. They give some kind of framework to begin, but they can be misleading too. No one fits into any category neatly and cleanly. And assuming your wife fits into a particular mold is going to cause you problems. Your wife is not going to be like her mother, at least not entirely. And she definitely isn’t going to be like your mother. Whatever you and I start with in our imagination about being married – and we all start with something – that person across the breakfast table is going to poke you right in your mind’s eye.

     I’ve read a lot of books on marriage, and there are some great ones out there. I encourage you to read a lot of them, because no single one is going to nail it down for you. I remember one book that liked to use lists to describe the “typical man” and “most women” and got discouraged when I saw more stuff on “her” list that applied to me than to her. I liked affection, I wanted to be listened to without her trying to fix anything, I liked financial security! And my wife found herself on the “man’s” list too: hard to share her feelings, likes to work outside, doesn’t know when to tell her friends to leave, etc. Not a very neat and clean fit for either of us.

     Read, study, think, pray is the best suggestion I have when it comes to filling in the blanks about your own wife. Start with the Scriptures since God designed people. Then survey your friends for the best books they’ve read. Look for an older couple who can pass along wisdom only time offers. And above all study your wife! Take notes! She’s definitely going to be on the final exam.

If a husband complains about credit card bills, he's normal. If he complains about the one from Victoria's Secret, he's a moron.

Note to Self: Getting in touch with my “feminine side” is a total waste of time; I should be getting in touch with my wife's feminine side.

We must often be contradicted if we are to understand ourselves. This is why God created marriage.

Become a fan before a critic. Assume the best, praise the most, defend that fastest, forgive the quickest.

Here is a lesson on the marriage bed that I learned the hard way: If your wife seems less than enthusiastic about sleeping with you as frequently as you’d like… maybe it’s because she would prefer to be the only woman in the bed. Stop acting like she’s there to make you happy. It’s the other way around. Christ pursues and serves the Church and the Church responds.