Life, Philosophy, Relationships

The Importance of Yes

yes-by-jose-picardo-on-flickr

Given the recent controversies in the States with the Brock Turner trial and the latest allegations against Trump – global news thanks to the media – you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m going to be writing about sexual consent; however, I’m going to assume that my readers would already understand the importance of ‘yes’ in that context(!).  Here, we’re going to examine the importance of ‘yes’ from a Christian perspective – the value of agreeing with what’s proposed; signing up; raising your hand; and being willing to both give and receive.

We’re so busy these days; we guard our schedules so closely.  Every blog, magazine, and opinion piece I’ve read lately seems to have proclaimed the necessity of learning to say ‘no’ – and here I am proclaiming the opposite!  It’s true – I agree with that other proclamation in this: we do need to be careful not to just agree to do whatever is asked of us regardless of the cost to our sanity, our dignity, and our felicity – but we also miss amazing opportunities when we’re too quick to say ‘no’ or to push aside a vision for something we’d like to be involved in.

So often, I think, something is asked of us, and our immediate instinct is to turn down the opportunity.  We think, “I’ve already got too much on!” or, “This is WAY out of my comfort zone – NO, THANKS!”  But when we resist that urge to say ‘no’ and instead jump in – boots & all – the results can be amazing.

Yesterday at church we examined the idea and practice of prayer.  At some point, around the middle of the service, we were asked to gather with those around us and pray together.  We were also encouraged to separate from our spouses for this purpose, so that we’d be a little further out of our comfort zone and meet a few more people (it’s a fairly large church).  I love to pray, but my immediate thought was, “Uh – do we have to?”  Just the idea of having to introduce myself to people I didn’t know and then pray – to share the intimacy of our hearts’ cries to God – was daunting.  But I ignored the impulse to just huddle with my hubby in a prayer-group-for-two and instead headed to a few pews ahead to pray with some people I’d never met.

I discovered through our prayers that they were a family group, and they were dealing with some tough stuff; they were a bit emotional and one of them even apologised to me, as if she felt badly that I’d ended up in the middle of what they were going through.  But I was delighted to be there.  It was my joy and my privilege to pray for healing; I was happy to share prayers for our community and our church with these godly women, even in the midst of their own trials.  God knew where he wanted me, and that’s where I ended up – but only because I said, “Yes.”

We need to be ready to say ‘yes’ in the moment – to ‘let go and let God’, as those in Christian circles are wont to say – because when we ignore our fears, push aside our doubts, and give our anxieties to God He will more than meet us in that moment.

We also need to overcome our reticence to say ‘yes’ when someone’s offering to do something for us or to share our burden.  The women I prayed with today – they did that.  They shared what they were going through; they welcomed me into prayer over their burden, delving into what really mattered to them, when they’d undoubtedly have found it easier to just stick to the script and pray some general prayer with me to get it over with.

I’ve just spent three weeks in virtual quarantine; our family’s been through a bad flu (high fevers, chills, and then colds) and conjunctivitis.  Several kind friends offered to help in some way, but I was generally inclined to just soldier on as best I could.  This was partly because there’s always someone who’s got it worse and partly because, what could they really do?  What you really need when you’re in the midst of a family-wide flu is either (a.) a housemaid with a strong constitution (so she could clean up the inevitable tsunami of mess that accompanies a family of six being cooped up in a house for several weeks without, herself, succumbing to the bugs that had laid us so low);  or (b.) a magic wand that would make me well enough to escape the confines of the infirmary (alas, with a grossly swollen eye I was fit only for the most desperate of forays into public for the purpose of gathering supplies!).  Finally, though, a friend on her way to the supermarket offered to pick something up and – light bulb moment, here – I said, “Yes!”  Well, after first saying ‘no’…  I realised that we were out of oranges – and oranges were what my feverish ones were begging for – so I texted her back and said, “Yes, please – we’d LOVE a few oranges.”  And *wow* – those oranges were such a treat (thank you, A, if you’re reading!)!

We’re so independent, most of us.  We are so reluctant to let others do something for us – so hesitant to accept help.  It’s pride, sometimes, that makes it difficult for us to say ‘yes’ to help; sometimes it’s more a sense of being undeserving of their kindness.  Whyever it is that we’re reticent to accept help, we need to overcome that instinct, because relationships are built and strengthened by this give-and-take.  I want my friends to accept an offer of a meal if it’ll make their lives easier for an evening when they’re dealing with illness, a new baby, or grief; I want them to let me fetch something when I’m doing my own shopping, or loan them something they’re short of, or collect their kids from school with mine when they’re running late for pick-up.  And I know that they want me to say ‘yes’ to their offers to do the same.  Saying ‘yes’ to involvement in the lives of those around us is key in building relationships.

I’ve got a few things going on, between our boys’ activities, church, writing work, and so forth.  There are some new opportunities for involvement at church and school, too, and I’m having to consider each one before just leaping in and finding myself swamped.  At the same time, I’m also working to avoid the trap of just saying, ‘No!’ to one more thing.  I have to fight the urge to shut down and say, “No WAY can I take on more – have you seen the state of my HOUSE??!  I can barely find energy to make lunches on school nights – how on earth will I find energy for something else?!”  Because I know – as you probably do, too, in your heart of hearts – that when I’m doing things that I love, it energises me.  When I make time for things I believe are important, I feel fulfilled; my time is reduced but my sense of accomplishment grows to more than compensate for what I’ve given up.  It’s true that we have a finite amount of time and we need to be careful what we spend it on – but it’s also true we waste a lot of the time we have; perhaps even more when we haven’t said ‘yes’ to things that demand inclusion in our schedules.

It’s so easy to get into the habit of saying ‘no’.  It can become our default method of self-preservation – but it can also prevent us from truly living up to our potential.  It can hinder us from receiving a blessing; and it can prevent us from being a blessing to those around us.

Really, what it boils down to is this:  Your ‘yes’ is important.  It’s essential, really.  So don’t be too frugal with it.  Seize those opportunities!  Bite off more than you can chew!  When we open ourselves up to opportunities for service; avail ourselves of the kindness of others; and follow our vision with passion, we realise that none of the reasons to say ‘no’ really mattered at all.

 

NB:  This post is dedicated to the memory of H.R., a wonderful brother-in-Christ who is now more than ‘resting in peace’ – he is living in Glory!  He said ‘Yes!’ to God a long time ago, and his life was a tribute to the power of that commitment.  He had a special gift for greeting and welcoming others, and I pray that I’ll always honour his memory by putting aside my shyness and greeting those around me – even those I don’t know – with warmth and compassion.

Thanks for reading!

-Trix  x

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Faith, Life, Relationships

Heads Up!

Conversation by Francois Bester on flickr

‘Save My Life’ – that’s the song on our playlist in the car that has been speaking into my heart.  Today I listened to it anew – and it reminded me of a message I’d written for our church magazine a few years ago.  The timing felt right to update the piece and post it for my blog readers, so here you go!

As I was entering marriage, my mother gave me some great advice about welcoming my husband home from work:

“Never let the dog greet him more warmly than you do.”

The idea might seem humorously absurd, but it does contain a precious nugget of truth: our nearest and dearest deserve the best of us, and we should not fail to give them our love and attention.

It’s now been close to fifteen years since West and I got married, and although we haven’t got a dog to greet us at the door, we do have a gaggle of boys vying for our attention.

There’s a lot going on in our household, and I definitely find that the everyday chaos of life can get in the way of my intentions to give my family the best of me.  I’m busy making dinner, sending an email, sorting out my ‘to-do’ list, trying to get everyone where they need to be at the time they need to be there, or simply trying to carve out the head-space to think and plan more than an hour into the future.  Talk to any Mama and I’ll bet you’ll find it’s the same for her – and we mothers aren’t the only ones who struggle with managing a multitude of tasks alongside our family’s needs.

So often our lives become so full of ‘doing’ that we allow Life – the real stuff – to happen around us.  We end up missing out on interactions with others because life is busy – so busy, in fact, that sometimes we don’t even bother to look up when someone we love enters the room.  And what of those who are more peripheral to our everyday lives – how many times do we fail to really notice the people around us?

It takes energy to maintain relationships and show that we care, and if we’re honest we must admit that sometimes we’d just prefer not to expend that energy.  Relationships are messy. Truth is, we often end up disappointing the people who most crave our regard because of our unwillingness to make and maintain connections with others.

What would our faith be like if Jesus had just opted out of Relationship?  Of course, the idea is ridiculous – Relationship is the reason we were placed on the earth: firstly, that we might enjoy a relationship with our Creator; and secondly, that we might enjoy relationships with those around us.  It is the most important thing.

We all go through seasons of life where we just put our heads down and push on.  Sometimes our work and familial obligations pile up – our time seems to be scheduled down to the nanosecond, and we feel that we must rush to ‘do, do, do’ in order to accomplish all the necessary tasks; sometimes we find ourselves in a period of illness or convalescence, and everything ‘normal’ just feels like hard work and too much trouble; sometimes we’re in a new situation and our energy is sapped just trying to find our way.  But how often do we manage to put our own agenda and needs aside to make ourselves available to others?

If we are created by God to be in relationship, can we allow ourselves to forfeit the chance to have real relationships with people when we make excuses like we’re ‘too busy’ to make new friends, or ‘too old,’ or when we don’t bother trying because we think that ‘nobody will get me’? What’s stopping us from being to others the friend that we wish we had?

What if, no matter what season of life we were in, we just stopped – and started to live life with our heads up?

Living life with your head up means being willing to engage in the lives of others, being aware of the needs of those around us, and being willing to do what we can to meet those needs.  It means engaging with others in a caring, intentional way.  It means nurturing our relationships instead of neglecting them. We are never too old, too young, or too busy to contribute to the lives of others.

The next time you’re in your workplace, picking your kids up from school, or just out running errands, I encourage you to remember to look up and really engage with those around you.

When we remember to look up from the things or activities that more commonly draw our attention and focus, we really see the people in our midst.  Let’s make ourselves available to those around us.

I, for one, am striving to live life with my head up.

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Family Harmony, Life, Marriage, Relationships

‘Til Death Do Us Part (or until it gets boring…)

Boring by Cheryl Colan on flickr

I woke up this morning to a Pokemon transaction taking place on my right, a pocket-money negotiation on my left, and a nappy-clad wriggly bottom right. in. my. face.

It’s not glamourous, this parenting-of-small-children.  Don’t believe anyone who tells you it is (is there such a person?  I can’t imagine so.)

Just in that moment, though, surrounded as I was by all my special little people and flanked on the left by my one scruffy big one, I was perfectly content.  This is my life, I thought, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Married life, when you’ve got kids, is so often not wine and roses.  It is so often waking up at an unearthly hour next to a chronically unshaven spouse (prickly legs or prickly face – equally uninviting), to the indescribable noise and chaos of some cranky early risers doing battle in the next room.  So often it’s leaping out of bed into the cold when you’d rather snuggle into the duvet and curl closer to your hubby or wife; it’s rushing to stop the six-year-old from flooding the kitchen as he pours milk from the giant containers that take up too much space in your always-too-small fridge; it’s stepping into the shower to find that your ten-year-old has used up all the hot water; it’s tripping on toys or sliding on a book left on the floor and having nobody there to help you up because everyone’s busy and it’s not like in the movies when your other half is there to lift you lightly to your feet or mop your brow or rescue you.

It’s tough.  It’s gritty.  It is not romantic.

So many couples find, in fact, that as the dust settles after raising small kids – whether it be the slight release from the constant exhaustion of the parenting-babies stage or the final emptying of the nest as grown children set up their own homes – they are left depleted, scraped-out, and devoid of any semblance of the romance that first drew them together.

Others wake up, in the midst of a mundanity that they’d never imagined in their most pessimistic dreams, and discover that they’ve drifted into complacency about their relationship and it has grown stale.  Life as they know it has become Boring.

And it is at this point that the cheerleaders of the world start to offer their tuppenceworth, with the ‘wisdom’ of modern philosophy (i.e.. if it’s broken then throw it out):

You deserve better.

You deserve to be happy.

You need romance.

Couples whose relationship has become Boring realize that changes need to be made.  They decide that they deserve better.  They decide that they deserve to be happy.  They decide that they need romance. And so these couples make a big decision – to call it quits.

What’s important, says the world, is that you do what you need to do to make sure that you are happy.

As long as you end it first before starting another relationship, it’s just fine.

Kids are better off with happy single parents than unhappy married parents.

People change.  It’s not fair to expect someone to stay married to a spouse that’s so different from the one they married.

You’ve heard all those before, right?  Sometimes you’ll even hear celebrities marketing these philosophies.  Undoubtedly you’ve heard friends or relatives speaking in this way about a marriage that has gone sour.

We throw away a life together with the same careless abandon we’d display in tossing a carton of milk that is past its Use By date.

It is a throw-away society that we live in.  We are a society that applauds people for walking away from mistakes and failures instead of teaching them how to fix and restore.

We forget that when we get married we take on the responsibility for another person’s happiness as well as our own.

We should be willing to work to meet that other person’s needs, to go the extra mile to answer the question, What can I do to be the husband/wife that my spouse needs?

We should be willing to fight hard for our marriages.  We should be willing to claw our way back to togetherness when we find we’ve drifted apart.  And, more than that, we should be alert to the signs that our marriage is eroding in some way, and act with great effort and intent to repair damage – with the clear goal of restoring the relationship – before things get to a point where the problems feel irreparable.

Of course I understand that there are marriages in which abuse and serial infidelity have so marred the trust that the relationship cannot be salvaged without both a complete change of heart by the offending partner (such change is possible) and the wronged spouse’s courage to forgive.

Of course.

We live in a broken world, and broken people can break the things and the people around them if they do not look to the Restorer of Life for the strength to heal.  But these are the rare exceptions to the rule of ‘til death do us part – and we are kidding ourselves if we think that these particular separations are any less painful and damaging than those in which a decision to divorce is taken more lightly.

Bless you, friends who have been hurt and harmed by the ones you should be able to trust the most.  Bless you if you have watched, helpless, while your spouse has walked away.  God sees your pain, and I do not judge it.  It is not your story to which I direct my critique; you know all too well the damage that is done when a marriage relationship is ruptured.  You know all too well how it can bleed you dry to cut off a part of yourself –and you weren’t even given a choice.

We used to refer to divorced couples as having had a ‘failed marriage’.  But in treading lightly out of care for the feelings of divorced people we now do them the disservice of championing their decision to call it quits.  Instead, we say that couples have ‘split up’ or that they’re just ‘not together anymore’ – as if marriage were just a casual arrangement that has just as casually been undone.  We no longer speak the truth about divorce – that it is, indeed, the result of a ‘failed’ marriage.  It does, indeed, damage people – and not only does it damage the couple at the epicentre of this severance but also their family and friends.  Their children – those poor innocent bystanders in the whole messy operation – are damaged, too.  These children’s marriages may suffer because of the trust their parents broke with one another.  How do you just stop loving someone like that?  And on it goes, through the generations, like a curse.

We need to see divorce clearly for what it is.  It is an amputation.  It is a severing of a part of you – it will leave scars.  We need to return to the ideology that marriage is for life, and anything less than that is a failure and a denial of sacred vows.

Married people, we all need to evaluate ourselves regularly: Am I doing what it takes to nurture this relationship?  Am I giving my best to my spouse?

So – you deserve better?  Do better.

You deserve to be happy?  Invest in keeping your spouse happy.

You need romance?  Instigate it – make a date, plan for romance.  Make it happen.

We need to cultivate a good relationship.  We need to cultivate feelings, actions, and attitudes to have a successful marriage.

We need to be invested in our relationships; to perform check-ups and tune-ups on our marriages.  We need to be willing to work on ourselves instead of pointing the finger at our spouse.  We need to avoid the trap of vanity; the presumption that the person we married should look better, be better, act better, ‘because we deserve better’…  Instead, we need to be working to better ourselves.

.

‘Til death do us part should be a thrill and a privilege.  And Boring?

A marriage is what you make it.

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.

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At the end of the day, it boils down to the choices we make:

What’s easier: taking time out each week to connect with your spouse or watching the one you said ‘I do’ to walk out of your life?

What’s worse: having to work at keeping the romance alive or accepting the status-quo of a relationship that feels boring and unfulfilling because you have done nothing to bring enrichment or satisfaction to your marriage?

What’s better: seeking opportunities to grow as a couple through attending marriage events and courses or allowing your spouse to become a distant stranger?

Choose love.

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Life, Relationships, Writing

Say What You Need to Say

write by sarah reid on flickr

 

Since I launched this blog back in January many of my friends have mentioned their own desire to do the same.  As I’ve encouraged them to follow that instinct and join me in sharing their musings in the blogosphere, many have protested that they wouldn’t know what to write about or that they haven’t got anything worth saying…

Early on in my blog-writing venture, I felt the same way sometimes – in fact, I still do on occasion.  I’ve got a list of ideas that I jot down on the go, so I’ve always got something to choose from (if not time in which to actually sit down and write on any of those topics) – but sometimes inspiration still seems to hover just outside my grasp.

But such is the writing life.  Such it is with any form of creativity.  People say you can’t force it, and ideally nor should you; but the practice of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, or paintbrush to canvas, etc.) has intrinsic value – and its greatest merit, in my opinion, is that it gets you started.  I may not have written anything spectacular or wonderful or awe-inspiring; I might not have always managed to feel like something I’m posting is the very best it can be – but I am attempting to hone my skill; I am working on saying what I need to say just how I want to say it.  And writing something – anything – is better than writing nothing at all, when you are a logophile and a would-be writer.

Of course, I – or any blogger, for that matter – could just write a post on my home computer every few days and save it there without broadcasting my thoughts to my friends and other internet readers, but there are three reasons why I choose to share my posts with a wider audience.

The first reason I blog rather than just write privately is accountability.  By having readers who notice whether or not I’ve posted recently I am motivated to write something on a regular basis (I am aware, for example, that this is the fourth day with no posting from me); I’m conscious of the fact that my kind readers, who are indulgent enough to read my stuff and express appreciation for what I write, would eventually get tired of looking for new posts that seldom seem to appear and stop reading my blog altogether if I should pause for too long.

The second reason I blog is to receive feedback.  When people comment or mention my blog or share a post, I am so (so so so so so SO) encouraged.  The fact that people read my blog at all is hugely encouraging; and when they feel moved to say something about a post I’ve written or invite others to read it, it spurs me on to keep up the practice of posting even when the flow of ideas seems to be ebbing.

The third reason I blog is just to say what I need to say.  About a month into blogging (or thereabouts), I was struggling a bit emotionally and it was distracting me from finding fun and interesting things to write about.  As I was driving to pick my older boys up from school, John Mayer’s song ‘Say What You Need to Say’ was playing, and it seemed to be speaking right to me.  What I needed to do was to process what was bothering me, and for me the best way of doing that (with this particular topic) was to just write it out.  I did that (it was so cathartic) – and of course I posted it, because I have realized that if something is worrying/upsetting/inspiring/exciting/challenging ME, then the chances are that there’s someone out there who can relate.  And it certainly seems to be the case (as a number of friends have mentioned it) that often something I’m feeling compelled to write about is also something that one – or more – of my friends and readers is dealing with or has gone through in the past, and so we can relate to one another through my writing.

Relationship is, to me, the most important thing.  I’ve probably said it before, and I’ll likely say it again (at least if I repeat myself I’m being consistent!); we’re on this earth for relationship.  Relationship with God and relationship with others – these things are paramount.  Having this blog has enhanced my relationship with people; saying what I need to say has turned out to be a way of connecting with others.  No matter what you write about, or how you write it, you stand the risk of alienating people – but it is my hope, and my prayer, that this is seldom the case with my blog.  I don’t expect that my readers will always agree with me, but I hope that I am able to share my heart with grace and in love, so that even those who might be against what I say would remain close and hear my thoughts because of how I say it.

We’re in the technological age, for better or for worse (look for a post on that in the near future!) – why not embrace what that means for writers, and add your own voice to the mix?  If you’ve been thinking of starting a blog, my advice is this:

Do it!  Say what you need to say!

 

Take out of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all your so called problems
Better put them in quotations

Say what you need to say…

Walkin’ like a one man army
Fightin’ with the shadows in your head
Livin’ out the same old moment
Knowin’ you’d be better off instead
If you could only

Say what you need to say…

Have no fear for givin’ in
Have no fear for givin’ over
You better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much
Than to never to say what you need to say again

Even if your hands are shakin’
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closin’
Do it with a heart wide open
A wide heart

Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say
Say what you need to say

Song lyrics by John Clayton Mayer

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Marriage

A Funny Thing Happened On Our Way to a Happy Marriage

Funny Thing

 

“The determining factor in whether couples feel satisfied with the sex, romance and passion in their marriage is, by 70%, the quality of their FRIENDSHIP with each other.”

Research on the subject of marriage relationships tells us that ‘happily married’ couples have five positive interactions for every negative one; in comparison, those who ultimately divorced averaged just 0.8 positive interactions for every negative one.

The ‘Happify’ website also cites a study in which “couples who were asked to recall a moment that involved ‘shared laughter’ reported being more satisfied than those prompted to recall positive moments in their relationship.”  So laughter, in addition to being ‘the best medicine’, is also greatly beneficial to the health of a marriage.  This is good news for me and West because laughter is quite literally the glue that holds us together.  The crazy glue.

Westley and I met fourteen years ago on St. Patrick’s Day.  Our shared sense of humour gave us one of our first connections, and laughter has continued to define and enrich our relationship in the years that have followed.  West often has me in stitches, and I love him for it.

Our ability to laugh at ourselves – and (gently) at one another – has stood us in good stead throughout our marriage.

That’s not to say that we don’t take things seriously.  Indeed, we can be very staid and un-fun when the occasion calls for it – and of course there have been stages in which laughter hasn’t come as easily as at other times – but in general as we’ve grown and matured in our relationship we’ve also grown more relaxed about our own foibles and fonder of one another’s small quirks.  We have also added to our list of ‘inside jokes’ with each passing year, as must be true of most happy couples.

In the close relationship of a marriage, we have the opportunity to be one another’s greatest cheerleader – or cause each other the greatest hurt.  By keeping the laughter alive, we stay on the right side of the ledger.

Both of us love to joke with the other.  We’ve even occasionally invented silly games to inject a bit of fun into life:

  • When we were newlyweds, we used to pluck a random word from the dictionary and challenge each other to insert it into the general conversation at parties.  One of the rules was that we couldn’t explain to anyone else why we had used the word (bonus points were given for using it appropriately in a sentence).
  • When our first two boys were small, we’d take turns choosing a sentimental book at the library and get the other to read it aloud to the kids – if possible, without crying.  We’d giggle as we (and each other) snivelled  our way through the stories, quietly loving the fact that our hearts were so equally tender.

More than these contrived amusements, though, our differing natures have provided us with great fodder for fun.  In the area of cars and driving alone, West and I are vastly different; and thus we have lots to laugh about.

For one thing, West loves cars (this will surprise those of you who know we drive a lowly minivan – but then you will realize the depth of his sacrificial love for me, that he deigns to own and drive it!).  He knows cars, and can recognize a type/make/model of car just by its angles, lights, and other subtle features.  On the other hand, I know nothing about cars.  I struggle to notice, let alone remember, the details of any particular vehicle. I frequently pass people I know who are waving furiously as they drive by me – they’ve probably thought I’d registered it was them because I’d have recognized their vehicle and peered inside to see them.  But in fact I have no idea who has what car. Half the time I only recognize our car by the license plate…  West thinks this deficiency in me utterly hilarious.  And I have to chuckle about it being such a no-brainer for him to recognize so many different vehicles.

I have something of a handicap when it comes to navigation.  I understand how to read a map, and if I am at home and I can register what route I need to take ahead of time (especially if I have the added clues of landmarks to guide me – thank you, Google ‘Street View’ – and an ability to turn the map around to sort out which way I should turn at which intersection), then I can generally manage.  But ask me to navigate (in the heat of the moment) in a place that’s foreign to me while we’re driving along at some speed, and you’ll be out of luck.

This has led to problems.

When we spent several weeks driving through Spain and Portugal together a couple of years into marriage, I acted as navigator while West drove along the impossibly narrow streets and attempted to locate our accommodations in various quaint towns.  When he grew frustrated at my inability to navigate without twisting the map around and asking him to attempt the roundabout for the fifth time, I grew frustrated, too – and threatened to toss his precious map out the window.  Some damage did occur to that map, and it may have occurred because of some intentional or unintentional foot-stomping of mine – but that’s all I’ll say on the subject.

My difficulty with navigation is not confined to making my way around unfamiliar places – I can also get lost when I know the road well, as I have no innate sense of direction.  Just the other day I was driving A. to his weekly keyboard lesson and became confused with where I was and where I was supposed to turn off.  So I stayed on the road and ended up going over the bridge to the wrong side of the water.  It was a harrowing ordeal for someone with no sense of direction; I felt rather like I could contribute my story to that ‘I Survived’ series of books. Miraculously, I did make it to the lesson in the end (albeit twenty minutes late, after having to stop back on my side of the bridge for a look at the stupid map!).  It’s no surprise that, with my difficulty in navigating and my lack of a sense of direction, driving is not my favourite pastime.

West loves to drive.  The idea of a long, scenic drive is, for him, absolute bliss (even with four kids in the back seats of the minivan).  I think he’s crackers, but I love it that he likes to drive – because I’m far less stressed out when he is in the driver’s seat.

But it’s not just the subjects of cars and driving that lend humour to our lives.  We also have lots to laugh about with our little idiosyncrasies.

I love to laugh about how reticent Westley is to share his thoughts and feelings, considering how opposite we are in that – and he laughs about my verbosity (nice of him, really!).  I love planning but I’m rubbish at follow-through and he struggles to plan but he follows through on all the loose ends I leave dangling around – we laugh about that, too.  I laugh about his pessimism and he chuckles about my optimism.  West has this desire to communicate his ponderings about highly technical subjects and I have zero interest in listening – he tries sometimes but he rarely gets far before I’m in fits of giggles about the complexity of the subject and my inability to grasp even the desire to know about it.

The other day West was picking me up from a ferry in the pouring rain.  As I emerged from the terminal building I peered through the downpour to see our car, and to my relief I saw West driving towards me from where he had parked.  I got into the car and he was chuckling, so I asked him what was so funny; he replied that he had wondered how he’d spot me in the sea of raincoats, but in the end he had known it was me by my mannerisms.  Apparently I had craned my neck forwards to try to see the car, and this was utterly hilarious to Westley, who pointed out that this position would hardly prove an advantage in spotting a vehicle some meters away.  I had to laugh, too – it hadn’t occurred to me that it was a futile gesture.

Equally futile, according to Westley, are my attempts to draw his attention to something by pointing at it.  He insists that I don’t point properly; he says that I just line the object up with the tip of my finger even if my finger is pointing in the wrong direction.  In his infinite wisdom, during our first year of marriage, he even went so far as to tape a small flashlight to my finger and take me into a darkened room to practice ‘proper pointing’.  Of course, I was giggling so hard that I couldn’t point properly at anything.  He quickly learned that the exercise was – ‘scuse the pun – pointless.

West was also the one to point out that I am apt to stamp my foot when frustrated with him.  I suppose this makes me look like a petulant child – and if I’m honest I sometimes feel like one when I am having a rant and he is looking at me in his aggravatingly bemused fashion.  But now if I am bent out of shape about something and unconsciously stamp my foot, West just smiles and points at my foot and it kind of takes the edge out of the whole thing.  I have to smile, which totally ruins the whole being-mad thing.

In fact, one of the things I love about West is his special take on life; and I believe that he feels the same about me (if not, perhaps we will laugh about that later, too).  He is the perfect foil to my madness, and I am mad about him.

So, a funny thing happened on our way to a happy marriage – or lots of funny things, actually – and it turns out that each of those shared moments of laughter has contributed to our treasured friendship with one another.

 

 

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