To love and respect

Recently when doing the dirty work of my semi-annual office purge I came across an artifact I had stashed away in a book, a reminder to write something. Anne Lamott apparently has a much better practice; she carries an index card in her pocket and writes down her thoughts as events happen.

Me: I get an idea and put it in a place for safe-keeping where I immediately forget and run across it months later when I no longer feel compelled to say anything about it.

When the Fall semester ended I forced myself to clean, organize, and mostly throw away another semester’s worth of stuff, and a couple of cards fell out of one of my books reminding me of something I actually did want to share with you.

A while back I attended a church that introduced me to the phenomenon of “Fireproofing your marriage.” As the video segment aired and I used all of my restraint to watch it without rolling my eyes back in my head or putting my head in my hands, I knew this church had been hijacked by the assumptions of prescribed gender-roles and patriarchal leanings of much American Evangelicalism.

The “Fireproofing” movement was all new to me and warrants some response, but for now, I’ll toss that idea into some other place while I tell you about the even more appalling events that followed the church service.

Immediately upon its conclusion as I stood up and greeted those I knew, someone thrust two cards into my hands. It wasn’t until I left some moments later that I looked down to see what I was holding. They were vastly different in size: the pink one resembling a post card, the blue one a credit card. There was another interesting difference as well. The pink card was laminated—I suppose for safe-keeping while posted to a refrigerator—while the blue one wasn’t, lending it, I assume, to be tucked into a wallet for preservation although probably behind the pile of credit cards making it essentially forgettable.

Now, you can guess where this is going.

The blue card provided the five chapters of a fairly popular book in Evangelical circles: Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I’ve not read it but it is easy to deduce from the headings that each one represents an aspect of love, a love language, if you will. I wonder what keeping this card is supposed to do? When its holder happens to dislodge it while going for the American Express, he remembers that to show love time is involved? Or, to love someone means to find some way to affirm the person?
Sure, these actions are related to love, but does someone really have to memorize them to know?

On the other hand the pink card offered very practical instructions, no mere chapter titles here! Listed in bold print are “Ten Ways to Respect Your Husband” by Cindie Hamley. This could be very useful for those women who perhaps feel a bit challenged in this area and several struck me as eminently apropos: make a list of your husband’s qualities and review them regularly; respond to his loving advances with enthusiasm; if confused or concerned about a decision he makes ask for an explanation.

How could anyone ask for any better advice? I mean, if I just work hard at studying my husband, with diligent effort I can memorize why I once liked him. Or, if I pray hard enough and learn to think always only of my husband, I can remember to agree to have sex every time he wants. And, finally, even though I will probably never fully understand the complexities of finances and work and manly stuff, I can ask for help for my feeble brain, and if my husband is nice and listening to God since God leads through him (it is the second way to respect my husband, after all), he’ll try to explain it to me.

What a watershed day! Now Bryan can get the respect he deserves (well, after I study the pink card) and I can slip the love language titles into his wallet where he’ll discover it in about ten years when his wallet falls apart and he purges it.