“I know the world is filled with troubles and injustices,
but reality is a beautiful as it is ugly …
I just couldn’t write anything without hope in it.”
— Oscar Hammerstein II
Before we were married, Prince Charming and I didn’t talk much about finances. We didn’t discuss owning pets or the fine art of buying gifts in connection with birthdays, holidays, bridal and baby showers, anniversaries, et cetera, et cetera. We didn’t exchange ideas concerning how we would resolve personality conflicts, furnish and equip our home, or raise our children (he wanted five kids BEFORE we had our first).
I wasn’t concerned though, because in fairy tales people don’t worry about stuff like that. They just look forward to “happily ever after.”
Prior to the “I dos,” I didn’t think to ask my beloved how he felt about me driving his cherished “Tri-power, Four-speed, 1964 Pontiac Catalina 2=2.” It never crossed my mind that when he did allow me to drive it, there would be limitations. For example, I would not be permitted to drive the car outside our city’s boundary limits … without a fight. I had assumed that I would go to community college and eventually realize my dream of becoming an elementary school teacher…. Nope. He was afraid that his car’s precious paint job would somehow suffer scratches during its idle time in the parking lot. And discerning his theological worldview had seemed like a no-brainer, since we had both grown up in the same church…. More to come on that note.
How could I have known that my job description as wife and homemaker would include turning away door-to-door salesmen — even when they managed to convince me that the product they were selling was absolutely necessary for the advancement and enhancement of my (very limited) homemaking skills? And why was it so unreasonable to want to spend my piddly part-time job paycheck on things that I viewed as important, instead of contributing it toward paying for groceries and utilities?
In addition to putting the toilet paper roll on “backwards,” Prince Charming irritatingly expected me to write a check for every purchase I made. Rather than buying maple syrup at the store like most “reasonable” people, he insisted that I concoct it by adding sugar and maple flavoring to boiled water, like his mother had always done when struggling to feed her five children on a shoestring budget.
I was 18. Chuck was 21. And neither of us had a clue that both of us had a lot of growing up to do.
My first step toward marital maturity involved a few dollars stored in a metal tea bag can, which I squirreled away in the kitchen cupboard (behind the homemade syrup). I’m a word engineer, not a math whiz, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that a girl simply can’t function on a daily basis without at least a small amount of cash on hand. My survival instincts kicked it … and suddenly I was entrusted with custody of our checkbook. (Debit cards would not be in use for decades!)
I quickly came up with a very simple alternative.
The first time I decided to overwrite the grocery check and get unnoticed cash back, I had a really hard time living with myself. But I found that with each transaction, the deception became easier. With every passing week, as I stashed away a few more dollars, I would condone my deceit by reasoning that I had no education beyond high school — no fault of my own — and no marketable skills that I knew of, so if I ever felt desperate enough to bail out of my not-so-fairytale-like marriage, I would need some secret money!
After a few months of emotional turmoil tearing through my guilty-feeling gut — and a sermon on proper wifely submission — I began to realize that my secret cache was not giving me the peace of mind that I’d hoped for. I wasn’t trusting God to provide for my needs (and desires). I was working out my Plan B, just in case God’s Plan A didn’t pan out to my satisfaction.
The next Sunday when the offering plate was passed, I relinquished my meager savings to the Lord, and I felt like one of Jericho’s walls had come crashing down. Of course my naïve, simple-minded gesture didn’t resolve my marital conflicts, but I experienced a significant victory in a crucial spiritual battle.
Chuck and I have managed to stay together for more than four decades, through better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health. We’ve encountered lots of frustrating speed bumps, challenging hurdles, and even some roadblocks along the way. But we are still growing and maturing in our faith in each other and in our Lord Jesus Christ. We continue to learn how we can respect each other’s uniqueness and reap rewarding — often unexpected — benefits.
My husband takes care of me. His wife takes care of him, And together we recognize that God takes care of us both, especially during the toughest of times.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are my ways your ways,’
declares the Lord.
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”
A RUST REMOVER …
When an “irritation” threatens to ruin your morning … your day … a relationship … a special event … read Philippians 4:8-9 and practice thinking an alternative thought — something positive to help remind you that things probably aren’t as bad as they seem. Give God control of your mood, your attitude, and every moment that is to come during the next 2 hours … 12 hours … 24 hours. Then write yourself a note of reminder: REPEAT THE PROCESS!