Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Christ In Winter: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter


We have a meeting this morning.

Well, yes, we are environmentalists. We recycle. We turn down the thermostat. We turn off the lights [some of us]. Those are reasons we are friends of nature, but they don’t get you membership in the SMFON Society. You become a member by vacuuming the house on Saturday morning.

You see, nature abhors a vacuum, and so do we, because it is then that we vacuum the house, Art and Maury because they are single, Bob and I because we are married.

It’s sort of like intercessory prayer. We vacuum alone, but we are together in our abhoration as we do it.

Back when I did pre-marriage counseling, I made sure the couple discussed, and came to some agreement on, five things: religion, in-laws, children [whether, how many, and how to raise], sex, and money, not necessarily in that order. When I did warranty checks a few months after the wedding, I would ask what issue we should have discussed more. They invariably said “money.”

But I started doing weddings back in the day when men went to work each day and women stayed home and took care of the kids and the house.

I was so into that culture that when Helen’s father said, when we married at the end of her junior year of college, “We have money set aside for Helen’s senior year, so we’ll be glad to pay for it,” I said, “No, she’s my wife now. It’s my responsibility to support her in all ways.” Stupidest thing I ever did. There were many times I thought about asking Earl if he still wanted to give us that money. I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell him that I finally understood how stupid I was, but I think he knew, anyway.

But society changed, and when women started working outside the home as much as their husbands, I had to add a sixth area of concern to my list for pre-marriage counseling: Who does the housework? Women seemed to think that since they shared the burden of working to provide money for the marriage, their husbands should share the burden of caring for children and doing the housework. When I did warranty checks on couples I married in that new era, that was the area they, or at least one of them, said we should have spent more time on.

This is a major area of concern not only for newly married couples, but for those married forty years, too, those married back when the wife did all the vacuuming, and has probably continued to do all of it. Now she has a husband at home to take care of, too, and she thinks he should do more than watch her do housework.

Women have a lot to say about men in retirement: “I married George forever, but not for lunch.” “More husband, less money.”

One day not long after her husband, my friend, retired, his wife telephoned me. “If you don’t come up here and get him out of this house right now” she said, “I’m going to kill him.” I hung up, called back, she answered, loudly sounded surprised to hear from me, called her husband to the phone, and he happily agreed to have lunch with me. I jumped in the car, drove fifty miles, took him to lunch, to book stores, to the mall, to a shoe store, got lost driving around, kept him out of the house as long as I could. He’s still alive. Now he belongs to the SMFON Society.

It’s a good group. I recommend it. {That’s all the counseling I’m going to do.}


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