With the advancement of technology, the pace of life seems to go faster and faster. We keep looking for more sophisticated ways to solve every problem. The quest seems to be for bigger and faster and yet smaller, thinner, and more powerful computers along with cell phones that can do everything a big computer can do and it fits in your pocket.
“Apps” are also the big thing. Looking at the App Store on our phone these programs will cover almost every aspect of our lives – books, business, education, entertainment, finance, food and drink, games, health and fitness, medical, and the list goes on and on. Cars will now talk to you, look out for approaching danger, park for you without you touching the steering wheel. It looks like it won’t be long until the car will do all the driving for you. There are so many advancements that it boggles the mind.
Oh, yes, then there is “texting.” Many people are losing the ability to talk to each on a personal level. Our Bishop stated he came out of his office at church to find two deacons sitting next to each other on a bench texting each other instead of talking. Our son, an elementary school principal, attended a conference where the speaker stated many job applicants struggle in a job interview and would do much better if the interviewer would sit across the table and text. This is even starting to creep into marriage and family relationships. Direct talking is being replaced with the quick text.
Maybe it is time to rethink what is going on in your own life. Use technology to assist your life but do not get lost in it. There are many great advancements that can occupy too much of your time if you let it. There is Facebook, Twitter, emails, Pinterest, blogging, all of which are fun, but can consume lives.
Get Back to the Basics
Many years ago a man by the name of Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. He stated. “Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at kindergarten.” There is some basic wisdom in what he wrote that bears looking at and thinking about. As you read what he wrote, see if you can journey back to a simpler time of your life. These are his thoughts:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint
and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant
goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed
in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word
you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
Did you chuckle a little bit as you read it? Take a minute and reread it then pause letting it sink into your mind and heart. Now, ask yourself, how I am doing with what kindergarten taught me? Do I remember to do these simple actions as I busily go about my life or have I forgotten many of them?
Most of the articles we have written have been about building marriages. As we read the above, it seemed most of it also applies to having a great marriage. So, let’s look at it in the context of a basic marriage statement. Step by step let’s take what Robert Fulghum has written and see how it applies to marriage.
Marriage grows and flourishes as a couple shares all parts of their lives, good times and bad, hopes and dreams, successes, challenges, disappointments, and hurts. Being able to share with your mate gives more meaning to the experiences. Phil, a traveling salesman, shared his feeling as he stood in the St. Louis arch peering out the little observation window. He remarked out loud, “This is a fascinating experience and a wonderful view.” Stepping back and looking around he realized he was alone without anyone who cared to share this with him. He stated, “Although I enjoyed being there, it just seemed a little hollow without my wife.”
As a very young man, our friend Earl Kauffman discovered some real wisdom and shared it with us. We found it to be quite remarkable for a teenager. He said, “I can expect nothing more of someone else than I am willing to give.” Now that is playing fair. Imagine if all marriages lived by that one statement the amount of peace and contentment that would fill each home, It is when selfishness invades the relationship that we stop playing fair.
Don’t hit people
Physical violence has no place in a marriage. Couples must even be careful about hitting each other in play because it could escalate. When you hit during play, it gives indirect approval to hitting.
Speaking disrespectfully is another way of hitting. Calling names, discounting another’s effort or accomplishment, ridiculing your mate, or ignoring your mate can leave emotional scares that may hurt more than physically hitting. Cynthia and Will came to therapy because they were extremely unhappy. She said, “I was attracted to him because he was ambitious and wanted to get ahead. As he is doing well, I find myself putting him down and telling him he’s not so great. I love him and can’t figure out why I am doing this.” He stated that when he’s hurt by her remarks he returns the same treatment to her. This behavior mirrors a boxing match. They have forgotten their desire to share their life and to play fair.
Each is trying to out do the other as though they were in competition instead of building a life together.
As these lines are read one might think these are basic rules of sanitation and they are. However if you look at them closely, they carry a deeper meaning.
The six lines are all about respect and self image. They talk about taking responsibility for self and one’s own environment. What each of us does with our own things is often a metaphor of our self-respect. The Savior stated in the second great commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” In this short phrase He recognized that how we love ourselves is often how we will treat our neighbors.
For example, when the couple comes in for therapy with their marriage in shambles, they are asked to describe their bedroom. They will begin by describing the furniture and where it is placed in the room. When asked, “What would be seen if someone walked into your bedroom?” most of the time they will describe clothes on the floor, bed unmade, and items haphazardly thrown onto the furniture. They seem a little embarrassed as they described this scene. The next question is very personal and is directed to either the husband or wife. “Do you deserve to live in a clean, orderly, and peaceful environment?” The immediate answer is “yes”. The therapist then makes the observation that if you do deserve to live in this type of place you will show yourself respect by taking care of and putting away your own clothes. This same inquiry is then made to the other person.
Often there is a reaction by one or the other such as, “What if my mate doesn’t do that?” This is where a reminder is given that each of us must take responsibility for ourselves and not give up our control of what we do or who we are to anyone else. The direct result of keeping our own control and taking care of our own things is that we show ourselves that we are worth what we say we deserve. The byproduct is that we show respect to our mate.
We suggest that a couple keep the master bedroom as a place that is uniquely their own. When you have children they seem to take over every place in the home and can displace the importance that needs to be preserved for the husband and wife. When you think about it, the master bedroom is the place where you sleep together, dress and undress together, and of course the place where you make love. It needs to be a retreat from the world, a special place of safety and comfort and intimacy.
As the pace of life continues to increase, we need to be reminded to take a break and find a way for renewal. Our marriage needs to be kept alive with the comforts we experienced similar to “warm cookies and cold milk.” The little experiences we share as a married couple help us “live a balanced life.” Dating and courting time was filled with new experiences and enjoyment being with each other. When marriage happens the seriousness of life begins to close in and it can often lead to that extra spark being extinguished.
It is surprising and sad to hear the response of a couple in therapy when asked, “What do you two do for fun?” In a high percentage of the time, the couple will look at each other, shrug their shoulders and say, “nothing.” So the phrase, “learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some” is a very important reminder that a married couple needs the balance to be able to face whatever comes together. We may not be able to take a nap every afternoon; however, there is a need for maybe a short downtime to renew.
Commitment and preparation help set aside fear. There is great peace in preparing to go out into the world holding hands both figuratively and literally, choosing to stick together having a joint purpose, and knowing that your mate is equally looking out for your safety and protection. This really is a good definition of commitment in marriage. With that safety a couple can go forward and experience the “wonder” in life. It is much like the Styrofoam cup and the seed. As a couple and as an individual we can flourish out in the open due to the strength and depth of the roots of our marriage. It is a wonder how it happens “but we are all like that.”
This mortal life has its limitations and does end. This is a gentle reminder of that fact and we need to prepare for that eventuality. Many couples have a hard time facing that death will come. All surviving mates go through a deep sorrow and loss. For those who have not prepared there is an added deep fear and sense of hopelessness for the future. This brings to mind the scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants 38:30, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” This preparation brings us back to the very first line which says, “Share everything.” Each mate throughout the marriage needs to be fully knowledgeable of all of the assets, debts, and obligations. If there is a business and one mate is not involved in the daily operation, that mate needs to be prepared with what is expected in case of a sudden death and who would be the trusted advisor. Take time now and have this discussion.
And now we’ve reached the last thought. Together as a couple “look” at your marriage and build the wonder and enjoyment together. It’s time to return to the basics found in the sand pile of life. Then you can experience anew the joy of your journey together.
[Join us in February for a romantic Valentine Couples Cruise to beautiful, warm, Western Caribbean locations.Along with all the other fun, we’ll be presenting classes that will spark your marriage and bless your family. Register soon. For more details see www.cruiselady.com ]