No greater love…


© Bruce Allen  October 26, 2021

In the days immediately preceding her death, our daughters and I were my wife Nancy’s constant companions, as one would expect. What one might not expect is that Nancy would have a friend who took this trauma willingly upon herself. One who came to our house and then to the hospice on W. 86th St., who would spend hour after hour caressing her, whispering to her, praying over her, holding her hand, during the worst days of the entire journey. During the days when the cancer had robbed her of her intellect, her sentience, and was in the process of disfiguring her, on its way to, finally, taking her, the train that was five years late at last pulling into the station. This, I suggest, is what they mean by agape love.

Many of you know who I’m talking about, Nancy and her friend, the Dynamic Duo of OLMC, the teachers, trainers, facilitators who made so many of the ministries work; I will simply call her Dee here in order to protect her privacy from people outside her wide arc of friends in Indianapolis and elsewhere. Dee is perhaps the holiest of all the people I’ve ever known who is willing to hang out with me. She and Nancy had a special relationship and a partnership that bloomed over several decades into something greater than the sum of its parts.

Nancy and Dee had complimentary skill sets and shared passions. They shared a passion for Mary, the Trinity and Christianity; Catholicism is up there somewhere, but these were the top two. Dee had two decades directing adult faith formation at a big Catholic parish north of Indianapolis. Nancy had trained as a corporate meeting facilitator, and together they put together some powerful presentations. People still talk about Nancy’s Myers-Briggs presentation at a marriage retreat a decade ago where she taped off the narthex and explained to everyone–all fifty couples–where the tension in their relationships arose. In about 15 minutes. Lights came on in people’s heads. She could do that.

When Nancy was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer in 2016, she and Dee set off on numerous novenas and rosaries, healing masses, whatever. They kept right on working on little projects; Nancy was already working on several other projects with her friend Vee.

I have a clear memory of June 17, not only because it is our oldest’s birthday. Nancy and Dee were on a Zoom call that Dee was turning into a podcast. Nancy had her parts to contribute, and Dee hers. We were leaving on the long-awaited beach vacation, the last dance at Bethany, the next day. Nancy got all dressed up and made up and sharp-looking and sat at her computer actively doing her part, in great pain, as professional as usual. It was only afterwards that she confirmed to me that she had had to ‘dig deep’ to finish. She knew this would be her final project with Dee.

Dee was a regular visitor and texter during the time after we returned from Bethany in late June until Nancy’s passing. As July wore on we, the family, decided to limit her visitors, basically to Dee and a handful of others. In August, as things with Nancy became increasingly difficult, Dee was a constant presence, there to help, there to chat with Nancy while she was on morphine, another exercise of agape love, as the switch in Nancy’s brain had been turned from SEND to RECEIVE to OFF.

We had Nancy transported to inpatient hospice on Sunday, August 15th. Dee was there later that afternoon, after Nancy was ‘comfortably’ settled, to spend time with her. Nancy, at this point, was an hour-by-hour proposition. Dee was there on Monday the 16th for hours, talking with the family when she wasn’t keeping Nancy company. If you’re looking for a vision, picture Nancy with a humble path to Glory, and Dee out there with a broom clearing her way of dust and leaves.

We called hospice around 9:00am on Tuesday and were told that Nancy had just passed. Which I expect is not true, as we rushed over and she was waxen and cold; that doesn’t happen in an hour. Whatever. Dee, who had texted, comes in, sits at the bedside, says her final prayer over Nancy’s body, and turns to begin comforting us, the family, we who had just lost our north star.

And which continues to this day. I had dinner with Dee and her husband Jay the other night and they want to help me move forward in any way they can. With them, there is a holy element to almost everything and I need that these days.

Here’s what I started out to say. We, Nancy’s family, have all experienced trauma around her passing. Although it was a good as it could have possibly been, it was still gruesome to watch the disease’s final insults. But Dee willingly took on this trauma, made it her own, and lifted it up to God to make it endurable, to enable her to deliver Nancy’s eulogy without coming unglued. Unbidden, she took on her friend’s suffering in an effort to reduce ours. That is the next thing to laying down one’s life for a friend, the highest expression of human love there is. This is agape love at work. Dee was doing all these things out of love and love alone; there was no ulterior motive, no agenda. Just love.

Dee brought many elements to Nancy’s life that I couldn’t possibly bring, as I was so late to the party and so faint in my practice of the faith. Dee was and is immersed in her faith, and it just rubs off on everyone. I remember when she first corralled me to facilitate Bible Study, and later to lead the marriage enrichment ministry. I didn’t want either, but I couldn’t say no in the face of a woman who clearly encouraged the Holy Spirit to work through her to bring more people to her faith. She and Nancy could spend hours talking about scripture and the lessons to be learned therein; in effect, they were each other’s spiritual advisors.

So, in the midst of all these tears, we find reason to celebrate the Holy Spirit working through one of our friends to ease Nancy’s passing and the pain that follows for us. We pray, those of us who lean in that direction, that Nancy’s road to heaven was straight and short. If this entire heavenly construct is true, we should be celebrating Nancy dunking on St. Peter at the gates, reminding him that she’s from New Jersey. And we–her family–should remain grateful to Dee for our entire lives, for the selfless love she showed our mother and wife.

RIP Nancy Porter Gillespie


© Bruce Allen
March 19 1952–August 17 2021

‘Grateful No Matter What’


Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness

Nancy Gillespie, 69, died peacefully at St. Vincent Hospice on August 17. She was born in Woodbury, New Jersey, and was preceded in death by her parents, Edward and Elizabeth (Harper) Gillespie. She is survived by a sister, Mary (Volk), Audubon, PA, brother Ed Gillespie, Glade Valley, NC, husband Bruce Allen, daughters Liz (Pearce), Seattle, WA, Ginger (Edwards), Carmel, IN and Cate (Collins), Chicago, IL and her six grandchildren, upon whom she doted. She will be greatly missed.

Nancy graduated from high school in Woodbury, NJ in 1970 and attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, graduating in 1974. She and Bruce were married in 1975. Daughter Liz was born in 1977, Ginger in 1980 and Cate in 1984. Nancy spent a dozen years as a full-time mom before re-entering the workforce in 1990. She worked at both Carmel High School and the Carmel Public Library and ended her career at OneAmerica as an Organizational Development leader.

After retiring in 2016, Nancy continued to pursue her love of travel, visiting Mexico, Hawaii, Arizona, Mackinac Island, New York City, Seattle, New England and the Atlantic coast. During this same period she beat all the odds in a battle against Stage IV pancreatic cancer. She credited the combined prayers of her family, friends and complete strangers for her lengthy survival. She was an avid reader, loved her book club members, and stayed in close touch with old friends from Woodbury, Cincinnati, and Annapolis. She loved birds, especially hummingbirds and cardinals, and beaches.

Nancy was an active member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish for 37 years, volunteering for and leading a host of ministries over that time. A calling and eulogy will be held in the church narthex (14598 Oak Ridge Rd, Carmel) on Thursday, August 19, 2021, from 6 to 8 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, August 20 beginning at 10 am. Interment will follow at Our Lady of Peace cemetery (9001 Haverstick Rd., Indianapolis). In lieu of flowers, the family requests your support of pancreatic cancer research through donations to The Lustgarten Foundation.

Marriage and Unconditional Love

eph-5-25-web-wRecently, while topic shopping, I came across a site called Marriage Builders.  It is the work of Dr. William Harley, who seems to be a one man corporation when it comes to writing about and discussing marriage.  He has a decidedly Christian bent to his work, although I’m guessing he’s not Catholic.  At any rate, having read a number of his articles, they are consistently well-reasoned and well-written.  I recommend you bookmark the site, as there is a wealth of material available to those interested in the subject of marriage.

After our Valentine’s Day Marriage on Tap event, one of the best ever, I was hunting for articles on the myths of marriage and, while having discovered several good ones and many not-so-good ones, I came across one of Dr. Harley’s articles on the subject of unconditional love in marriage.  Please follow the link, for the article contains some controversial thoughts with which many of you may disagree.

I recall a parish mission some years ago at which the speaker asked the audience to list Heveryone they loved in the order in which they loved them. Along with many of the attendees, I put my wife Nancy at the top of my list, followed by my kids and The Holy Trinity. Now, please don’t let my poor writing skills confuse you into thinking that hundreds of men put Nancy at the top of their lists; they put THEIR wives at the top.  🙂  The speaker went on to explain that we should ALL have God at the top of our lists, that God’s love for us is unconditional and therefore of a higher order than the love we feel for our spouses.

Dr. Harley’s article supports the notion that God loves us more than we love one another, but takes on the notion of its being unconditional.  Discussing this with Nancy, she flat out disagreed with him, arguing that God’s covenant is not a contract, citing several verses from scripture, and basically taking advantage of my lack of knowledge of the Bible.  She agreed with the author and with me that spousal love is not and should not be unconditional, that if I were to come home from work everyday and beat her senseless she should not continue to love me as she does.  Again, being better at this stuff than I am, she cited Thomas Aquinas, who famously argued that the nature of love is willing the good of the other for his own sake, which describes God’s love for us, in that God does not need us.  God gets nothing in return for loving us.  And this despite the fact that we may, using our free will, choose not to love God in return, which does nothing to diminish his love for us.  This, in turn, suggests that it is, unfortunately, possible to be loved by God and to also go to Hell.

cropped-lse-masthead6.jpgWhere was I?  Right, unconditional love in marriage, which seems to belong on one of the many lists of marriage myths that clutter up the internet.  Please pray on this and discuss it with your spouse.

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Hurt people hurt people.

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Alcoholics Anonymous

Thanks to Fr. Emmerich Vogt and his 12 step ministries for the inspiration behind this post.

As humans, we are wounded by living in a broken, fallen world, surrounded by a culture that seems to celebrate failure, death, violence and decadence.  Similarly, as humans, we seek out other humans as our life partners, and they, too, are wounded by the same fallen world.   Despite our best efforts, we often hurt one another.  Fr. Vogt speaks about spiritual healing, sharing lessons learned through years of service to a variety of 12 step programs and hundreds of participants.  He has developed an entire ministry around the divine inspiration built into these 12 steps.  Listening to him this past weekend, it occurred to me that the 12 steps can be easily applied to our marriages.  With apologies to the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, I will paraphrase the steps themselves, in order to highlight their relevance to our marriages.

1.  I am powerless in the battle against sin; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. This does not refer to the petty squabbles that all of us experience with our spouses, but to the body blows, the haymakers, the capital sins of infidelity, masturbation, porn addiction, gambling and drug and alcohol addictions that have the potential to ruin relationships.  Not all of us suffer these afflictions, but those of us that do are largely helpless to fight them by ourselves.

2.  Belief that a greater power can restore us.  This is the first step addicts must take in order to begin the healing process, and is thus one of the most difficult.  It is a necessary, but not sufficient, belief.  If we are suffering in our marriages, we are called to find the strength to first believe that we can be saved, that our relationship is not doomed. In one of Jewel’s early songs, she spoke about all of us having “addictions to feed.”  As spouses, we are all addicted to something; we must embrace this belief in order to begin the healing process.

3.  Deciding to turn one’s life over to the will of God.  Probably very few of you reading this have not, in some way, already done this.  It is God’s will that we live together in harmony; if it weren’t, we wouldn’t stand a chance.  Surrendering to the will of God follows accepting the belief that He can restore us.

4.  Taking a fearless moral inventory.  If we are going to succeed as a couple, each of us must take responsibility for our own shortcomings.  Playing the blame game is a guaranteed path to failure.  We must focus on what we refer to as “I” problems, not “you” problems.  In the immortal words of Pogo, “we have met the enemy, and he is us.”  As couples, I believe that, having taken this painful inventory, we must consider sharing it with our spouses.  Or at least as much of it as we can, without hurting our partner.  As Father observes, “Honesty without gentleness is brutality.”  See #5.

5.  Confessing our sins/faults/shortcomings to ourselves, to God, and to one other person–our spouse.  Confession is itself a sacrament, and acknowledging our sins one of the basic elements of the Mass.  By speaking these words out loud, we take away one of the hiding places most of us use to avoid dealing with our sins–not talking about them.  If we are to seek true health, we cannot ignore our illnesses, any of them.  We must bring them out into the light of day, before God and our spouses.  This one strikes me as another of the more difficult steps in the process.

6.  We resolve that we are ready to have God remove the madness from our wounded selves.  We must acknowledge that we cannot fix our addictions alone, and we cannot expect our spouses to fix us, either.  We need to pray to God, in his mercy, to send The Holy Spirit to give us the strength to choose the narrow gate, to take the first steps toward becoming whole, and healed, capable of loving ourselves and worthy of the love of our spouses.  In short, we must first pray, in order to prepare ourselves to be healed.

7.  Humbly ask God to remove my defects.  One of the characteristics I’ve noticed in the people I’ve come to know and love at OLMC is a deep-seated humility, the constant refusal to take credit for all of the good they do, and their habit of always giving credit to God.  My own personal motto, which I do not practice nearly enough, is “Be humble or get humbled.”  We must be willing to knock on the door, God’s door, but we must do it in a spirit of humility, seeking his mercy rather than justice.  This is true with our spouses as well, for as spouses we all need to give and seek forgiveness.

8.  List everyone we’ve harmed, and be willing to make amends with them all.  At the top of the list, right behind God, should be our spouses, for they live in our presence daily, and are most likely to have been hurt by our sinfulness.  There is undoubtedly a long list of people behind them.  It is an inescapable truth that our sinfulness hurts God, and that our spouses bear the brunt of our addictions and faults in the world.  For you, there may be a lengthy list of folks behind the first two, but it is important to start at the top.  For me, the next five names on the list are my children and my parents, for all of them have undoubtedly suffered at my hands, in my thoughts and in my words.

9.  Apologize to everyone you’ve harmed, except when to do so will injure them.  For the living people on your list, including your spouse, this is rather straightforward, but must be approached in an almost spiritual sincerity.  As for God and the deceased persons on your list, it is only through prayer that you will be able to communicate your regret and apology.  Doing so, whether speaking to the living or praying to those others, is a cleansing act, one which should not be dreaded, but rather embraced.  How can we not feel better after having sincerely apologized to those people we’ve hurt?  As a young man, I went to my parents house one day and apologized for every single word that had come out of my mouth for the previous four years.  The three of us shared a toast–several in fact–in celebration of how good we all felt afterwards.  That was over 40 years ago, and I remember it as if it was yesterday.

10.  Commit to a daily examination of conscience.  If we are committed to living in the moment–give us this day our daily bread–we should regularly ask ourselves, “How did I do today?”  Some days will be better than others.  The point is that healing is a process, not a silver bullet, and we must commit to examining our conscience every day.  As addicts, we are capable of falling off our own particular wagon on any given day, and it is alleged to take 21 days to form new habits.  If we are to be healed, there can be no place to run to, no place to hide.  Examine your actions, words and thoughts every day.  If possible, share this process with your spouse; you can help keep each other on track.  After all, in marriage we are not called to achieve Heaven for ourselves, but to help our spouses find their way to Heaven.

11.  Pray and meditate to increase contact with God.  This, again, is a daily activity, as befits human nature.  Most of us don’t suddenly fall off a wagon we’ve been on for months or years; typically, we gradually backslide into our old ways.  This, I believe, is true for people such as myself with food issues.  I need to weigh myself every day in order to avoid waking up one day six months from now and being at the weight I was when I started taking better care of myself.  For others–especially those with alcohol and drug addictions–the world can tilt off its axis almost without warning.  In either case, by increasing our contact with God we are in a better position to enlist his help.  For those of us who find prayer difficult, saying the words of The Serenity Prayer is a fine place to start.

12.  Practice these principals in everything we do.  One of my best friends, who used to have issues around alcohol, once told me that the difference between drunks and alcoholics is that alcoholics go to meetings.  Practicing these techniques in our marriages does not require us to commit to any kind of formal 12 step program.  But it does require us to thoughtfully approach each other in humility, with forgiveness in our hearts, in as honest a manner as possible.   We must be convinced that we ourselves are, in most cases, the problem, and we must share this spirit.  With God’s grace, we will find happiness and peace in our marriages, create loving homes for our children, and model the behaviors that will, in turn, make them good parents to their own kids someday.

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If Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy

One of the old jokes Nancy and I have woven into our relationship goes like this, as I tell it.Man-Laughing  “When we were first married, I decided that I would make all the big decisions and that Nancy could make all the small decisions.  Luckily for us, in over 38 years of marriage, there haven’t been any big decisions…”  At the heart of this laugher is the concept of influence, the extent to which spouses allow their mate to shape their thinking and actions.  And according to the Gottmans, couples who share influence with one another are more likely to have lasting, fruitful and rewarding marriages than those who don’t.
couple talkingIn the 21st century, it is amazing to me that we still see and hear vestiges of 19th century thinking on this subject, marriages in which the husband assumes the role of the dominant decision-maker, with the wife taking the inferior position of having to defer to his judgment (or lack thereof) and live with decisions he makes almost entirely on his own.  Less common, I suspect, are marriages in which the wife makes most of the decisions, and the husband meekly accepts orders and direction from her.  These types of relationships lack equilibrium and are, hence, less stable than relationships in which influence is mutually observed and decisions are shared.  Personally, I’m not sure I would be happy in either extreme, as I don’t like the feeling of being directed or pushed around, but also lack confidence in my ability to make important decisions on my own.  One of the qualities that attracted me to Nancy in the very beginning was her assertiveness, the clear understanding that I would not be piloting this relationship entirely by myself.

How does your own relationship stack up in this area?  The following 20 true/false questions were developed by The Gottman Institute in order to help couples assess the extent to which they allow their spouses to influence them.  Perhaps you and your spouse feel you liberally allow one another to influence the thinking and actions of the other.  If you’d like to test that theory, cut and paste the following questions into a Word document, print it twice, sit down together, answer the questions, and compare your answers.

1. I am really interested in my partner’s opinions on our basic issues. T    F 
2. I usually learn a lot from my partner even when we disagree. T    F 
3. I want my partner to feel that what he or she says really counts with me. T    F 
4. I generally want my partner to feel influential in this marriage. T    F
5. I can listen to my partner, but only up to a point. T    F
6. My partner has a lot of basic common sense. T    F
7. I try to communicate respect even during our disagreements. T    F
8. If I keep trying to convince my partner, I will eventually win out. T    F 
9. I don’t reject my partner’s opinions out of hand. T    F
10. My partner is not rational enough to take seriously when we discuss our issues. T    F
11. I believe in lots of give and take in our discussions. T    F
12. I am very persuasive and usually can win arguments with my partner. T    F
13. I feel I have an important say when we make decisions. T    F 
14. My partner usually has good ideas. T    F
15. My partner is basically a great help as a problem solver. T    F 
16. I try to listen respectfully, even when I disagree. T    F 
17. My ideas for solutions are usually much better than my partner’s. T    F
18 I can usually find something to agree with in my partner’s positions. T    F
19. My partner is usually too emotional. T    F
20. I am the one who needs to make the major decisions in this relationship. T    F

Cute-Romantic-Love-CoupleAn excellent metric for your ability to influence one another follows:  If answering these questions and discussing your responses leads to an argument, you may need to work on this aspect of your relationship.  If answering these questions and discussing your responses leads to sex, you’re probably doing okay.

Temperament and personality types will enter into this process.  For Nancy and me, in that we have significantly different preferences when it comes to Myers-Briggs typing, it is generally helpful when we sit down together to iron out disagreements.  As Gottman points out, the process of reaching external conflict resolution often relies on one’s ability to reach internal conflict resolution first, by learning to accept influence from one’s partner.  Early in relationships, this can be a challenge, as most of us enter marriage having relied almost exclusively on our own judgment for some period of time.  Overcoming disagreements requires us first to acknowledge that our partner’s point of view, though different from ours, may, in fact, be as valid, or even more valid, than our own.  Over time, and with practice, couples in successful relationships can learn how to navigate such differences with relative ease.

I suspect this is not always true with couples whose Myers-Briggs profiles are more similar.  In such marriages, it seems to me that significant disagreements may be more rare, but may be harder to resolve since each spouse approaches decision-making in a similar way.  In these instances, it may be that the best outcome the couple can hope for is to agree to disagree, a sub-optimal solution which, over time, may evolve into a “we just don’t seem to agree about anything” position that could require professional counseling.

One of the most mis-applied verses in scripture is found in Ephesians 5:22-24, which is often used to suggest that women must be submissive to their husbands.  But by reading through verse 33, it becomes clear that God expects equality in our marriages.  Husbands, if you wish to justify 19th century thinking by applying only the first three verses from this passage, you are likely to end up with an unhappy wife.  And, as the old saying goes, if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.


“You’re So Predictable”

fighting_couplesMany of us have heard this charge leveled by one spouse toward another, whether in a movie, on TV, or perhaps in our own homes.  It reflects one of John Gottman’s Four Horsemen–contempt.  By being predictable, it is implied that we are also dull, boring, uninteresting and non-spontaneous.  It is generally not a compliment.  Scripture and The Catechism touch this issue over and over again.

Cat. 214. God, “He who is,” revealed himself to Israel as the one “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”  These two terms express summarily the riches of the divine name. In all his works God displays not only his kindness, goodness, grace, and steadfast love, but also his trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness, and truth.

My sense is that this particular flavor of contempt emanates from one of two likely spanner in the workdsources.  The first is what I think of as “children of chaos.”  Kids raised in an unstable family situation, where there is drama, abuse, violence or other negative environmental factors, often grow up to be adults who crave chaos.  If there is not drama in their family, they will seek opportunities to create it.  If things are peaceful and calm, they will find a reason to cause disruption.  If everything is running smoothly, they will throw a wrench into the works.  We all seek that to which we became accustomed as kids, and this is no exception.  Woe be to the woman married to one of these men.

Micah 7:18.  Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.

dreaming-expensive-new-car-12810851Another source of such disdain, as I see it, is the ennui of the young and privileged.  Kids who grew up with money, who spent winter breaks skiing in Vail, or went on European cruises in the summer, often grow up to be adults with what I think of as a low “coefficient of boredom.” They often find themselves at loose ends, put off by routine, and constantly in search of something fun or expensive or unexpected to get their engines revving.  Predictability probably ranks just below “cheap” on their list of cardinal sins.  Woe be to the man married to one of these women.

Romans 2:4.  Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Having grown up in neither of these environments, and having sought and found a woman from a family similar to mine, I feel blessed to be exempt from this particular criticism.  Not that I’m immune from criticism, most of it richly deserved.  As mature adults, I think we have grown to equate predictable with dependable.  Just the other night Nancy and I were sitting together when, unprompted by anything, she said, “I love coming home to you in the evening.”  My work schedule allows me to get home in mid-afternoon, and she knows that by the time she rolls in at 6:30 or so I’ll have the kitchen squared away, dinner on the stove, and a cold glass of chardonnay awaiting her.  We generally sit together for half an hour and share what our days were like.  Having thus disposed of any negative residue from our workdays, we can sit down to dinner together, and then do whatever wants or needs doing in the evening.

happy older couple

Cat 1804Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.

It strikes me as logical that boredom with one’s spouse can easily lead one to look for greener pastures, for the excitement and newness that can accompany marital infidelity. Though such adventures are generally short-lived, they may afford the stimulation  the pulse-pounding taste of forbidden fruit, what Eric Clapton once referred to as the “dull surprise” missing in some people’s lives.  Regrettably,  this newness probably wears off rather quickly, leading either to a series of such affairs or resignation to a life of perceived drudgery.

Cat 2365.    Fidelity expresses constancy in keeping one’s given word. God is faithful. The Sacrament of Matrimony enables man and woman to enter into Christ’s fidelity for his Church. Through conjugal chastity, they bear witness to this mystery before the world.

Once again, we are reminded that our efforts in this regard should not be to FIND the right person, but to BE the right person.  To be grateful for the truth in Nancy’s observation that “for every Jack there is a Jill.”  To count among our blessings the stability of our relationships, and the firm platform it provides our children as they are formed into adults. In sales, one of the most powerful statements we can make to a customer is, “You can depend on me to do what I say I’m going to do.”  In marriage, God’s grace is found in the spouse who is dependable, faithful, and happy to serve our needs  For those of us who ended up with that person, we should thank God every day.  For those of us who have not yet become that person, we should pray for the grace and fortitude to persist, to reach the point in our relationships where “You’re so predictable” is praise of the highest order.

Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.


Four Ways to Be a Better Spouse

Here we go again, with an article borrowed from Huffington Post.  This one has a semi-Buddhist flavor to it, which is a switch from our usual fare.  Unfortunately for you, this fact reminds me of the only Buddhist joke I know, in which the Buddhist says to the hot dog vendor on the streets of New York, “Make me one with everything.”  Wait for it…  Anyway, since the article refers to I Corinthians, I thought it would fit in our blog.

PsychiatristBrandy Engler is a clinical psychologist and the author of The Men on My Couch: Stories of Sex, Love and Psychotherapy.  Her recent post, “Four Ways to Love Better” visits a recurring theme on this blog, namely, rather than seeking the right partner, we should BE the right partner for our spouse.  As most people married more than once will attest, in the absence of abuse–physical, mental, drug–the grass is rarely greener on the other side. We bring most of our relationship problems with us; if we’re capable of cheating on one spouse, we’re obviously capable of cheating on another, etc.

Engler does not specifically address marital love in this post; rather, she points us toward a wider, more inclusive love of the world and the people in it.  This is a very Christian attitude from a writer who strikes me as not overly, or overtly, Christian.  But by inference, we are to include our spouses in this view.  And if you can guess her four prescriptions for being a more loving person, well, you’re better at this stuff than I am.  YOU should be posting on this blog.