Today is my wife's birthday, and it's already been a good day even though it's had some funny pieces to it. First, she read the message that our two-year-old son wanted me to write on his behalf in her birthday card: "Thank you for my birthday." I'm not sure what he thought he meant by that, but he definitely owes her his gratitude his own birth.
The next interesting part of her birthday was that I was asked to play guitar and sing at a graveside funeral service this morning. I was happy to do so, and was very glad that she was willing to go with me, but this is certainly the first time that we have included attending the funeral of someone whom neither of us knew as part of a birthday celebration. I guess if a funeral is for remembering a life that is past and a birthday is for celebrating another year of a loved one being alive, we can find some meaningful connection between the two (but we still may not make it an annual tradition).
Then, since my wonderful in-laws are in town and offered to provide childcare so that the two of us could go out for a birthday meal, we went to the new Japanese steakhouse in town. It was a really nice place, and the food was even better. The funny part of our lunch, though, was that (because we don't have much of a Japanese population in West Texas) most of the chefs we saw in the building didn't look very natural in the Japanese outfits they were wearing. Ours was named Rodrigo. Regardless of his name or nationality, the food was good and we had a very good birthday lunch together.
With her birthday today, Mother's Day a few weeks ago, and all that she's going through being within a couple of weeks of our daughter's due date, I've certainly been thinking a lot about how much I appreciate about her, and I've noticed that blogging is helping me to learn much-needed lesson about marriage.
I have all kinds of thoughts that (in my opinion) can be turned in to great blog posts, but now that I've been putting effort into this blog for a while, I've noticed something consistent about all of those blog post ideas: the only ones that count for anything are the ones that I actually write and post. If I don't do that, I never get the joy of writing them and no one else can ever read them. Search engines have no way of indexing the content of the ideas in my head and bringing visitors to my blog just based on the thoughts that I've had; they can only bring visitors based on what I actually publish.
So here's the marriage application: I think it's common for men (especially introverted men) to fall into the habit of thinking about the things we appreciate about our wives, but not ever letting those words come out of our mouths. And since I think most men are like me in the sense of always being in favor of finding things to give ourselves credit for, we tend to believe that thinking that our wives are gorgeous, or that they're great mothers to our kids, or that they do so many things so well, or how much we enjoy being around them, or how thankful we are that they still haven't figured out that they could have married someone much better than us... we give ourselves good husband-credit for thinking those things without ever getting around to saying them.
In other words, if our marriages were blogs, most men like me wouldn't ever get around to publishing anything. Blog posts that I never publish can't help anyone, and neither do all of those things we think about why we love our wives so much help her at all, unless we get them out of our mouths so that she can hear them.
I know this isn't easy to do. I much prefer thinking to talking, but I've experimented with this lately. I recently listened to a very helpful audiobook called [amazon_link id="1590525728" target="_blank" ]For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women[/amazon_link] by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn, and one of the things it mentions is that men have something like a 30-second window from the occasion to take the thought that entered our minds until we need to let our wives hear that thought before it loses value for her. So, this morning as we were getting ready to leave for the birthday-funeral and she walked out looking celebratory in an appropriate way to attend the funeral of someone we didn't know, the thought entered my mind, "Wow, she looks nice." Because I've been experimenting with these things, I also had the wisdom within the 30-second window to say, "You look nice."
My conclusions after a couple of months of experimenting with this:
First, I still have way too many times that I hang on to a thought and it never crosses my mind to say it with my mouth. I really have no idea why this is the case. I guess it's just as true that new habits are hard to develop as old ones are to break. But, I do say things to her more often than I used to, and that has led to the second conclusion:
She likes it. If I analyze it thoroughly enough, this makes sense. She really wants to know she's loved, and I really want her to know that she's loved, so I want to further my experiment and be sure and tell her the next time that I notice how much I like her eyes or her smile (or other things), or how much I appreciate her doing any of the million things she does to keep our lives going pretty smoothly. I need to tell her when I think all of these kinds of good things about her.
And I need to publish the blog post.
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