6.12.2013

I hope I get an "A!"

Some of you will crack up at this, some will roll their eyes, and some will totally get it.

I am married to a teacher.  His whole life revolves around research, information, study, tests, and responses.  That is how his brain works, and it is how the Lord gifted him.  So when it comes to our marriage, he pretty much attacks it in the same manner.

Since I appreciate logic, planning, information, and responses (even though I like mine from humans rather than data and facts) Dennis and I work together - very well.  Neither of us are emotional or sappy, and neither of us need coddling or extreme gentleness when being corrected or challenged - as individuals or as a couple.

So when I received this e-mail from him today, I smiled, and started planning when I could have some quiet moments to myself to respond.  It may not seem romantic to some, it might seem ludicrous or "cold" to others, but for this wife, it is a welcome and appreciated gesture - because I know it comes from his heart.

It took us a few years to learn how to be married ... how to think of each other above ourselves ... how to give up our own wants to meet the needs of the other ... and the biggest take away Dennis ever got from all of the men's retreats, marriage seminars, and marital books he absorbed was this one simple thing:  Be a student of your wife.  What makes her smile?  Does she like gifts or time? What is her least favorite chore?  When is she most stressed?  Who are her closest friends?  What is her greatest fear?  Where does she struggle in her walk with the Lord?  What is her favorite snack?  Does she like surprises or detailed information?

For a very long time Dennis could not have answered any of these questions.  Then one day the Lord convicted him to take this challenge seriously - and he did!  He treated it like a research paper.  He had a fresh notebook, pen, a list of questions - and every time I answered one he would write it down.  If I mentioned in passing that I would like something (present or future) he would write it down.  And after a few months it became a habit.  He started paying attention, not because he had to remember the answer as if there would be a test, but because he WANTED to know.  He wanted to buy a gift for my birthday without asking what I wanted.  He desired to take a burden off of me by doing one of my least favorite chores once in a while.  He wanted to know how to pray for me - how to encourage me.

And our marriage has been completely different ever since.  Nothing magical.  No intervention.
Nothing we could package and sell for $199.99.  Just a simple thing - attentiveness.  (Note: I am also a student of my husband.  It looks a little different for me, but the results, and the rewards, are the same.)  Pay attention.  Not just to your spouse, but your children, your friends, your family, your boss, your pastor.  What makes them tick?  What are their greatest needs?  How are they encouraged most?  It takes time and effort - but you will never be sorry you did it!

This is the note I received from my groom of almost 20 years.  He has been doing research on 'legacy' as he prepares a two-part lesson for a Bible study he was asked to lead, and he came across questions that caught his attention, changed the wording a bit, and sent them to me with enthusiasm and anticipation.

Let's hope my answers get an "A" when I turn them in!

Greetings, My Queen,
As our anniversary approaches I would like to take a moment to ask you to provide candid and altogether un-filtered responses to the following questions:
  1. Do you feel I properly understand the goals that God has placed in your heart? How can I help you achieve them?
  2. What are some things I can do to regularly show you just how satisfied I am with you as your husband and the leader of our home?
  3. Is there anything I am doing or failing to do that seems to send a signal that I do not honor you or your important role in our home?
  4. Is there anything I can change to make our home a place where you feel more satisfied and comfortable?
  5. Are there any big dreams in your heart that you have been hesitant to share with me? How can I help you fulfill them?
  6. How do you feel we can begin communicating better than we already are?
  7. Do you feel that there is anything keeping either one or both of us from God's best in our lives? What should be my part in freeing us from those restraints?
  8. Are we where you wanted us to be at this stage in life? 
  9. How do you envision our future together? What can we do together to achieve that goal?
  10. What can I do to show you how much I need and trust you?
Thank you for your honest responses as they will ultimately assist me in becoming a more informed, and hopefully effective, husband.  Dennis

Aren't these GREAT?  I can hardly wait to get pen on paper and answer them!  These will provide hours of fantastic and thought-provoking conversation over the coming weeks. 

Dennis, thank you for always seeking to improve our marriage - and your role as a husband.  I do not take it for granted because I never want to forget how far we've come, and how the Lord restored the years the locusts had eaten after our foolishness and selfishness in our early years.  You are a good man, a wonderful father, and a loving husband.
I certainly do not deserve you - but oh, how thankful I am that you are mine!  Michelle

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