Marriage; as it relates to cute shoes and combat boots

I just returned from an anniversary trip with my man.  The same man about whom I may once have said didn’t have a romantic bone in his body planned a trip without my help and told me just to keep four days open and pack my bags.  Now that’s romantic.  This is the kind of thing a girl waits for, longs for.  And I know most don’t get.  So I write this carefully, not wanting to brag, but to encourage that even the things that seem like were once impossible are simply not.  Dreams bigger than what you know to dream are possible when you hand them over to Someone big enough to handle them.
But some things need the right apparel…

Some deep discussions have been happening at my house lately.  All of them point to one glaringly obvious truth.  We (boys and girls) are just never really going to understand each other.  The differences are countless and vast.

It doesn’t mean we can’t coexist and even love each other madly, but it does mean that there are invisible lines drawn that need to be straddled and even hurdled occasionally in order to do life together well.

The stuff that makes us up is just made from different materials.  One group is velvet-coated rebar, and the other is more like massive steel beams.
I’m thinking that originally, when we were created, there wasn’t such a chasm of differences between us, but perhaps that whole kick-you-out-of-paradise-curse thing may have shoved the whole night-and-day difference thing into overdrive.

In my opinion, the list of differences can, for the most part, be summed up in two words.
Logic versus emotion.
To demonstrate my point, I’ll use just one aspect.  Competition.

This word alone is why I had mostly guy friends until I had a little maturity under my belt.
Guy competition happens every day in any scenario and can involve who can throw rocks farther, who can lift more firewood, or, oddly enough, pee the farthest (?).  And even after a fistfight a “Sorry, Dude” and a handshake is all it takes to patch things up.  A logical fight with a logical ending.

Girls.  Oh, no. We walk into a room and our competitiveness shows in the way we size up every other girl in the room to figure out how we fit in.  We take in all the hair, and shoes, and let’s be honest, the shapes of every one else and base our own score on what we see–as if olympic-like judges sit at a table in our minds determining our worth.
And a girl who is feeling especially insecure may decide to wipe out the competition with a word–to wreck a life with a well-placed emotional bullet that no handshake can ever repair.image

So, how in the world is marriage supposed to work in this craziness?  How do we find the balance across the chasm that divides with the odds stacked high like some Empire State-sized Jenga game?

I took my husband to see Man of Steel for Father’s Day.  Amy Adams, a favorite actress of mine, played Lois Lane.  For the first two-thirds or so of the movie, she functioned in her cute shoes.  You know, the ones with four and a half inch heels.  She got carried around by the big guy in her cute shoes and she ran from the bad guy in her cute shoes.  She fell in love in those same shoes, but when push came to shove, and her man was in trouble, the girl found herself some combat boots.

See, I’m usually the girl in cute shoes.  In fact, these are my favorite pair.  Image
This particular pair hurts my feet like the dickens.  Perhaps it’s my Dutch heritage that made me think wooden shoes were a good plan.  But, to the consternation of my son who has no idea on earth why a girl would wear something so impractical, I will wear them and quite happily because they are so darn cute.
But there comes a time…

A time when it’s time to put the combat boots on and fight for and alongside the man I married made of steel beams in the only way I know how.

As much as we want to, to act instinctively based on emotion or logic alone will always be unproductive.
Wanna know what I learned?  It’s the toughest thing I ever have to do, and most times I fail.  Fighting for our marriage, putting on the boots, looks mostly like keeping my mouth shut and letting go of control.  Right, wrong, or otherwise, there are times when I need to just back the truck up and let my man lead and watch the ‘S’ on his chest grow to superhero-like proportions.

The only bridge we’ve been given is to consider the other position.  To act outside of instinct and consider a different approach.  Loving intentionally.

Men, do the opposite of what may come naturally and LOVE!!!  Love her!  Be willing to lay down your dreams, your ego, your plans–for her.  Not that you’ll have to, but love her that much.  It’s not a logical issue this time.  But, that’s why God made sure to tell you the secret, and how to implement it.  Just love her.  If you really do it the way you’re supposed to, she’ll follow you to the ends of the earth.

Ladies, don’t react with that emotion that can destroy in a word, or even a look.  Put on your boots and fight by standing alongside and praying for him.  Make the decision to hold your tongue and let a loving husband lead.  Even if you’re darn sure you know better than he does.  Be willing to let him make a mistake and correct it, because a humble leader is what we long for, isn’t it?  We may think we can do it best, but truthfully, we are the most secure when the weight of the world rests squarely on some steel beams.

It’s never gonna be perfect.  But the moments when we sit well in our shoes make it worth it, and make for a much more comfortable journey.

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Happy 22nd Anniversary to us!!

What are some of the major differences you have to hurdle in your marriage or have observed in others’?

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Once upon a time…

I used to smoke a pipe.

Well, I did, once.

My dad smoked a pipe and made neat smoke rings, and when I saw that pipe sitting in the window as I graced the seat of our commode at the wise old age of, oh, probably four, I gave it a good puff.  IN.  Yeah.   You can imagine.  Never gave in to that temptation again.

I just bought his tobacco at an antique store.  Smells familiar.

I just bought his tobacco at an antique store. Smells familiar.

I used to bite my nails like a fiend. I’d bite until my fingers looked like little nail-less nubs that hurt and sometimes bled. It took me until my senior pictures to grow a nail with white on it.  I guess my nerves were a bit frayed. It was better than sucking my thumb which I did for much too long until threatened enough times.
Back then, my pink blankie I got as an infant was my only real friend. Still is when I don’t feel my best.

sasha

C’mon. It was my awkward stage.

And my Great Dane was my other pal. She made for a good snuggle and tear-catcher.   I got her when I was three. She and I were quite the funny little team.  I had her until I was fifteen and over the years I got bitten three times. I learned that, though full of love, giant dogs have big teeth and even a “nibble” can create a need for stitches. Now, I have a Jack-Russell.

I didn’t want to be a mom.  I didn’t think there was any benefit for me.  I also didn’t think I came equipped with the right tools for that job.  But something about pushing a human out of your body gives you an inkling of an idea that maybe, just maybe, you can do more than you thought you could before.

63There was a time before I knew the absolute joy of a hug from a son to his momma.  The fascination of watching his muscles and Adam’s apple grow and his voice and mind become that of a man–a protector. And the beauty of watching his little flower-filled fist become a good man’s heart–love poised and ready.

my girlsOnce upon a time, I absolutely panicked at the thought of having a daughter–or TWO!! Little did I know the indescribable beauty they bring into a home, the sweet spirits they infuse into a momma’s life, the fascination I would find in their nurturing, caring hearts.  It was so unexpected.  It is the stuff of miracles that these treasures are mine to spend my life enjoying.

I used to think friendships were about what they could take from me.  They needed me to look and behave a certain way to be accepted.  And honesty in a friendship was relative to what that friendship could handle.  Now, I know that a true friend even loves the ugly, and lets me be just that if necessary.  Honest is honest. There is no such thing as relative truthfulness.

friends

I once believed that love in marriage was a temporary, youthful thing. If it got old, it also got frumpy and dusty. And undesirable. Now, I know it gets sweeter and more tender and blessedly, fuzzier around the edges. I mean that the rough places wear down a bit and you know where they are more so you don’t bump into them as often.

And a well, and long-loved item is what you pick over the shiny new one every single time.

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22 years and counting…

I used to think that holidays had to stink.  Bad.  Like the smell of someone else’s idea of what you had to do because someone else said so.  I’ve learned that tradition is a living, growing idea that can change and morph into whatever the heck we want it to look like.

Train rides and corn dogs on Easter.
Friends PLUS family at the movies on Thanksgiving.
Christmas

2012

Cocktail sauce and ketchup smeared all over a plastic tablecloth for Christmas.  It’s about heart, and smiles, and PEACE, and laughter and being together with folks you choose to be with. And some meaningful reflection shoring up the underside.

I used to be afraid of everything. Shoes dropping. Dreaming. Loving.

Now, I’m only afraid of the real stuff.
Like snowy road driving.
And BUGS.  Or should I say miniature monsters?
And if the bathtub were to fall through the floor when I’m in the tub with no clothes on. I’m not kidding. I saw when they put these floors in; they’re not that thick. And a tub full of water plus me is pretty heavy stuff!

I used to think my God was as old and stodgy as the deacons from some of the churches that judged me, as unaware as the earthly father I knew, as critical as my mother, and as bland as colorless as the future I saw for myself.
Not so much.
I don’t have words for the vibrancy of His love, the depth of His concern for me, the technicolor dreams He put deep inside me and has already fulfilled.
I thought He needed me. And my deep and martyr-like sacrifices. And the WORK He had for me to do…
Little did I know He just asked me to let Him love me and fill the broken places and then my heart became a teensy bit more like His and my corner of the world started to change as a result.

I used to long to write a novel. To tell my story.
Oh.