Valentines Week is upon us and with it, a fresh crop of articles on how to love and be loved, never a dull subject. First up, an article in The NY Times posing the timely question “Can Scientific Relationship Advice Save Your Marriage?”, in which couples are profiled who have chosen to base their wedding vows on the scientific study of relationships. Before you venture an answer, let me say that I found the honesty refreshing–at least these couples take the occasion seriously enough to acknowledge their true object of worship. On other hand, the vows dictated by ‘science’ sound…
And…. we’re back! A handful more videos from the Fall Conference to share, the first of which captures, beautifully, what happens when vulnerability, truth, and amazing harmonies come together:
As I write this, Thanksgiving is almost upon us. I feel as though I am standing on a precipice of sorts, waiting to be pushed over into the rush of the season. I’ve already received my Black Friday Preview Sale emails. I’ve added BUY BREAKFAST CASSEROLES to my calendar for December 23rd. And on top of all of the other “ambitions” I have for the season, I am determined to give my family gifts they actually want.
Last year gift-giving was kind of a bust at Casa Condon. I was working full time and pregnant. So I just got online and…
This one comes to us from Emily Price:
I recently started working for my husband.
This may not be the wisest career or marriage move, but it was borne of necessity. My husband just opened his own law firm. Rather than hire an associate to help, he looked across the breakfast table to yours truly. So, I dusted five years worth of spit-up and Legos off my law degree and set to writing.
Working toward my first deadline, I grew anxious. Like any self-respecting sinner, I projected that anxiety onto someone I love. I started snapping at my husband over every little thing….
Since Reformation Day is kind of a big deal around here, I’d like to take a moment to remember those largely unsung heroes of the time: clergy wives. It is a role that many of us take for granted. History tells us that these women were treated horribly. Among other “fun facts,” they were called harlots and were often denied midwives in childbirth. An archbishop of the time recorded a visitation to a church by writing: “all the married priests in England are knaves and their wives are very whores.” As a priest wife myself, I am hoping no one…
Woah, this one is painful, ht TM:
“Back when we first met, my irrational and entirely unfounded vision of what you could someday become seemed almost too perfect: kind, thoughtful, caring. That fictional mental construct that I envisioned you eventually developing into was everything I ever wanted. I thought that imaginary version of you and I would be happy together forever.
How wrong I was.
Today, it’s evident that you’re simply not the nonexistent, purely hypothetical person I always wanted to grow old with. Just last week, for example, when you didn’t so much as look up from your laptop after I came home from work, even though you knew I was supposed to hear about my promotion that day, I realized that you aren’t even capable of magically changing into what I need in a husband. When I look at you now, all I see is a workaholic with intimacy issues who has persisted unchanging for the past decade and a half—no longer the ideal husband I convinced myself you would morph into through some miracle. And that’s just sad.
I see it all now. Your outright lack of interest in my sculpture classes and my volunteering work at church, your single-minded obsession with your career, the fact that you explicitly told me on our first date that you never wanted children. I thought those things were important to the theoretical idea of who you’d become in the future that has long lived in my head, and it breaks my heart to realize that they are not.
Honestly, it’s almost as if you’re the exact same man I married.”
Another Week Ends: Bloated Syllabi, the Jeremiah Option, Better Call Saul, Brangelina Vows, and New Culinary Imperatives
1) Our friend at The Dish, Matt Sitman, gave a poignant response to the question of Christianity in modern life. As opposed to Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option”, where stalwarts of Christian virtue create a new community devoid of distractions, Sitman prefers the “Jeremiah Option,” as described by Samuel Goldman, that life as God intended is meant not in escaping Babylon, but in building our houses there. Sitman (hat-tipping our beloved Thornton Wilder) looks to what makes Christianity fundamentally unique anyways—not the stringency of time-honored virtues (many religions honor them) but the power of God to forgive.
Goldman gets at something important…
A touching installment of Modern Love appeared in this past Sunday’s NY Times, entitled “We Pledge Allegiance…”, in which Debby Greene traces how the “no divorce” pact she made with her husband has played out in her marriage, thirty years down the line. Clearly the survival of any relationship is seldom a matter simply of resolve. Still, in a society biased toward self-determination and individual ‘freedom’, their pact seems downright radical. I should let her tell it:
Our first summer together, we read the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy to each other below high cliffs on a beach in Southern California….
In case you haven’t heard, the Biography Channel ain’t your Dad’s late night insomnia cure any longer. Over the past few months they have relaunched as “fyi,” (yes, the weird comma is in the logo). And they are turning out some really wild programming.
Married at First Sight (Tuesdays at 9ET/10PT) is a show billed as a “social experiment” where people volunteer to get married to complete strangers. They meet for the first time when they exchange their vows. Six people were narrowed down from hundreds of applicants to be paired together in attempted wedded bliss. Four experts, a sexologist, psychologist, sociologist,…
Another great contribution from Stephanie Phillips:
“This could be our last big surprise in life,” I said to my husband on our way to the gender-reveal ultrasound of our second child a couple of months ago. He laughed at the melodrama of the statement even as we both acknowledged that the news was likely to be anticlimactic, since the perinatologist had already guessed–and we had suspected–that we were having another boy. An hour later, our suspicions were confirmed. I was set to be the lone female in a house populated by Y chromosomes.
Building on last week’s Fargo post, some food for thought from pages 119-120 of writer-philosopher-‘religious atheist’ Alain de Botton’s provocative How to Think More About Sex (other brave portions of which we excerpted here):
“In a perfect world, all couples would be visited by a psychotherapist on a weekly basis, without even having to put themselves forward for the service. The session would simply be a regular feature of a good, ordinary life, as the Friday evening meal is for Jews, and would offer some of the same cathartic function as this ritual. Above all, neither party would be made to feel by society that he or she was crazy for having therapy–which is currently the main reason people neglect to see therapists and therefore slowly go crazy.
This ideal therapist would take a history of a relationship, explore its current tensions and try to serve as a catalyst for the sort of change that the couple themselves were too weak, busy or confused to bring about on their own. She would remind her clients that every exchange, however minor, had meaning and could set off a chain of recriminations and resentments that would prevent them from wanting to have sex. She would teach them to treat the complicated business of being in a relationship with extraordinary care. She would ask them both to arrive at every session with a list of issues that had arisen during the previous week, and insist that they each listen to the other’s complaints compassionately, without resorting to angry self-justification or injured self-pity… She would review their individual psychological histories and endeavor to help make the couple aware of some of the ways in which, because of their particular pasts, they might both be likely to distort or misread reality. And when arguments did flare up, she would urge each of them to see the other as being wounded and sad rather than malicious or spiteful.
This therapist would belong to a new kind of priesthood, designed for an age that no longer believes in religious forgiveness and understanding in the afterlife but that is still very much in need of those same qualities in the here and now.”
When my husband Josh and I were newly engaged we underwent a series of pre-marital counseling sessions with a therapist. While I wish I could tell you what I remember from that expensive experience, I cannot. We probably checked a mental box of “reassurance about us being okay” and moved on. Some weeks before our wedding, Josh’s bishop in Atlanta asked to meet with us. Years later, that meeting is something I consider on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Here’s what he said: if true contempt enters into a marriage, it is over. After years of counseling to-be-joyfully-wed couples, this…