Saturday, March 01, 2008

It's All in the Marketing

"How do you get your husband to do everything? He just goes along with whatever you want..."

I shared this comment from a friend with the spouse in question and we both rolled on the floor hysterically chuckled as we considered how the presentation of my *merchandising* strategy might have sounded:

"We've noticed a drop in your marketability among God-fearing, married, women with two or more children in the 29-45 demographic. You can see from these graphs and charts that by presenting your more appealing qualities here, we can expect to see an upswing in your likeability factor within the same test group. With these new "Husband Development Tactics" (HDTs), the fourth quarter should produce our best results ever!"
I mean, seriously, do you all honestly believe that this is how marriage--even the most perfect ones (and by that, of course, I include mine)--work? If so, I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona I'd like to show you.

That being said, I can see why it might appear that way; especially when a husband and wife, given all their faults and shortcomings, attempt to live out the most holy Sacrament of Marriage, using all the graces at their disposal, following the sacrificial example of Christ for his Bride the Church. Why? Because if that's not the example being studied-if the pinnacles of good marriages are coming from Desperate Housewives (Are those women even married? I've never seen the show, but the producers are so bold as to imply marital status with the word "wives" in the title) or John and Kate Plus 8, then, certainly, practicing even the most common courtesies of civilized society would create marriages where the love and respect spouses have for one another seems almost supernatural.

What good does it do our husbands, or our marriages, when we indiscriminately choose to air our disagreements, dissatisfactions or simple pet peeves for all the world to see? Years ago, I read something which cautioned young wives to be very careful in choosing which people and what information was shared during times of marital strife. Why? Because later on, when the argument was over, the confidant(s) might not hear about the change of heart or happy times in between the next verbal slaying they witnessed.

If, for example, my husband's obstacle course of shoes or antibiotic cultivating pile of soggy bath towels frustrates me, is it appropriate to climb to the highest mountain top and shout it to the world? Or what if the frustration is something less frivolous? (not that tripping over shoes or needing a Hazmat suit to clean the bathroom is frivolous--hypothetically speaking, of course...) But what if your husband is struggling more personally--with his work, his weight, or his family? Or perhaps the Devil has your husband in his vice grip, literally, through a serious addiction or crisis in his faith? As the Boy says, "What now?" What's out there on the internet? Lots of garbage. What's out there on television? Even more--as discussed here. Who does it profit to add your own dirty laundry to the pile?

Let's be clear. Don't hear me saying that you should bottle your concerns all up inside until they burst out in an ugly way involving a clock tower and the SWAT team. But, how about starting the conversation at the source--with your spouse--first? (Shocking and revolutionary thinking, right?) And it is important to have a trusted, faithful friend or spiritual adviser for some more difficult situations. Of course. And what about God? Through the sacraments, in personal and couple prayer, He is just waiting to pour out graces and blessings on your marriage. So is it necessary to divulge all of your spouse's faults and misgivings to the world? At the busstop? In the grocery check-out line? During your weekly coffee with friends or family? On internet message boards, emails or blogs?

And if so, at whose expense is it done?

The husband who feels belittled by his wife's demeaning portrayal of him?

The children who learn, by example, from their parents what a *good* marriage looks like?

The wife who exposes the intimate concerns of her soul and her family to everyone--INCLUDING those who don't care where her soul spends eternity?

My husband and I are perfect foils for one another, where I am weak, he is strong and vice-versa (or so he lets me think). He definitely doesn't do "whatever I want". And given some of the harebrained schemes I've proposed over the last decade and a half, we can all thank God for that!

"How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire...With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so." James 3: 5-6, 9-10


Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

Excellent post! Thank you for writing it.
I have been working very hard to make sure I don't let the Devil get the best of me in this situation. I just keep thinking of "Debra" from "Everybody Loves Raymond." Never a nice word about her husband--but plenty of eye-rolling, sarcasm and just plain nastiness. Do I want to follow down that path?

Easter Almuena said...

Hi Jane,

Yes, I agree with Barb! Excellent post and you always manage to give me a chuckle! I love that about you! My hubby and I have been married too long ... he he he... in a good way (you two are a young couple and with God's wisdom in you, I say, you are doing wonderfully!). What came to mind, referring to my relationship, which helps me a lot, is the quote by St. Monica: "Guard your tongue when your husband is angry." Oh my, there is no use arguing sometimes and it is better to just find what is funny in a relationship... he he he... when gray hairs are becoming more prominent, to me, it is better to just laugh things out... hahaha...

Thank you for this wonderful post, Jane! :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree -
One of my greatest blessing is women of the word who will advise me in the way of Jesus when I am struggling....
But I made a decision early in our marriage to honor my husband with my words.... sometimes this is more difficult than others, but it is so worth it.