Monday, June 09, 2008

About Happiness in Marriage

Rosa was an older woman I met in California at my church who was also involved with a Christian women's group on the army base we lived on. She was a doctor in Argentina before she married the son of a American missionaries, who was more Argentinian than American. She gave up her practice to raise her three daughters, and support her husband who became a psychologist and then an officer working in Army military hospitals. When I met her, her daughters were my age and married with families, and all were pursuing advanced degrees in universities all over the world. I met a few of them when they visited, accomplished and bright were they. I liked them immediately, because not only were they smart, they were godly women and warm in personality as well.

The intelligence came from both their parents, but their warmth was definately a trait they got from their mother. Rosa's husband was a difficult man to know. He was an elder in our church and led several adult classes on Sundays. As correct as the theology was taught, as precise and accurate as it was taught, I found the man himself to be cold and exacting. He worked long hours at the hospital, riding a bike several miles from his home to work every day. His route went by the housing area I lived in.

I was a frequent visitor of their home during the day as I spent time with Rosa, even though I never had a single conversation with her husband. Rosa shared many things about love and marriage that I found to be crucial. First was that she sought God out every day and her prayer life was a deeply emotional and intimate one. Second was that she was aware of how different she and her husband were but she accepted him without condition. She prayed for him and brought her concerns about him to the Lord. If she needed to speak to him, she set up a time for them to do so and she would lay out her heart in a way that wasn't arguementative but boldly honest. She told me that it wasn't good to keep things all bottled up inside, especially with her expressive personality. So, she had to learn over the years how not burst out but deal with a problem in a way her husband could listen.

She went into few details about how she and her husband were opposites, for example when he came home from work, they had dinner and then he would retreat to read and study for hours. Rosa learned that they benefited from a routine where certain days were planned fun and family days every week. If she left her husband to himself, he would read himself into oblivion for sure. This is what I learned about Rosa--she found a way to influence her husband to balance him out and extend him a bit beyond his comfort zones. A wise, wise wife who took responsibility in her marriage and knew that her role in it was not being a helpmeet by keeping an orderly house (which she did excellently) but by being a sensitive and loving woman who did not drive her man away but kept drawing him closer to herself and to his daughters. Rosa's ministry was her husband--she would not let him get away with living entirely within his head.

She also told me the importance of holding your family in an open hand towards God. It is his will be done, not your own. Painful things can happen to the ones you love that you can do nothing about but God is good and has good things planned for them even though it doesn't seem like it. She was not a controlling or grasping person.

At the end of the day, she felt satisfaction in her work. Her investments paid off. Between God and her, Rosa's clan was thriving. She fought hard for it. She is the most vibrant woman I ever met.

Which brings me to the book reviews I read about A.W. Tozer's biography and the surprise that he wasn't a great husband and father. That his wife wasn't happy. As my mother told me, when it comes to unhappiness in a relationship, it goes both ways. In other words, if I thought that my husband was hard to live with, then I have to consider his point of view as well. To be fair, I haven't read the book. Or totally get what the situation was all about. It makes sense that Tozer was a complicated man. It also makes sense that he had a hard time with relationships. We all do in one degree or another. It may be a hard judgement, but when his wife was withdrawing and giving up on him, it didn't sound to me like a good example to follow.

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