Thoughts to Ponder are my musings regarding community, things of the Spirit, and living as a Christ-follower. I don't offer the words of a professional or an expert; just a fellow traveler and explorer. Please don't take my musings more serious than I do. I've discovered a long time ago that I do not hold the keys of knowledge or wisdom. If I did, I misplaced them somewhere...typical.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Men hold key to their wives' calm

The title of today's post is unashamedly lifted from a Washington Times article by Jennifer Harper (February 20, 2006).

It seems that University of Virginia pyschologist Jim Coan (through magnetic resonance imaging) discovered that the greatest source of peace for women during times of stress is not chocolate, alcohol, or bubble baths. It's the touch of their husbands' hand.

The MRI showed immediate relief in brain activity when women under stress held hubby's hand. And (surprise) "the better the marriage, the better the relief." (There hasn't been any studies done on hubbies to my knowledge).

I'm reflecting on this because during the past few years I've had to deal with some very troubled marriages. Some of the marital dynamics were devestating.

Interestingly enough, the most difficult of situations (usually involving adultery) worked out and the couples were reconciled and are now doing exceptionally well. But I've had to deal with some issues that were just plain petty. Some of these marriages didn't recover.

The common denominator I've discovered was the sense of self.

Those couples who survived moved beyond self-centered interests and approached their problems as a couple. The "I" became a "we." "Your problem" became "our problem." Those couples who crashed and burned never got over the immature reaction of "I want my way."

Or, my personal favorite, "I just want to be happy." That line is generally followed by "God wants me to be happy."

Gee, I didn't know that God was particularly interested in your self-centered wish for pleasure! In fact, I've never found those words anywhere in the Bible.

From the Christ-follower's perspective (and the perspective of the New Testament) God's desire is that we be formed into the image of Christ. And the last time I looked, the image of Christ is one of self-denial, self-sacrifice, and unselfish living.

I would go so far as to say that the purpose of marriage is not to make the individual happy at all. From my own personal perspective it seems that marriage is the environment where a person practices and learns self-denial. It is an excerise in giving in to an other. It is the practice of leaving the "I" and becoming the "we."

And then (usually) come the children. Talk about intense training in unselfishness! I figure (if we truly pay attention) children are God's way to demonstrate how we were before we began to get a handle on giving self up! We find ourselves muttering to ourselves, "I wasn't that stupid, was I?"

And, of course, the answer is (if I'm being honest): "Yes, and maybe a little more stupid!"

If you're married, give your spouse's hand a little squeeze in appreciation. She or he is teaching you how to be unselfish!


Scott Freeman said...

Welcome to the world of blogging, Darryl. You are perfectly suited for it. I will link you on mine.

Dick said...

Well, Darryl, you're braver than I am! I have considered a blog, but my posts are just too long to fit into this medium. Besides that, blogs can be, to borrow part of the first article title, "a dangerous place." For now, I prefer my e-mail/website format. I did build a blog connected to my website, but it's strictly for a group at our church to exchange sermons topics and outlines.

As far as this article is concerned, isn't it amazing how the world sometimes figures out what God could have told you all along. I think the "God wants me to be happy" attitude is an outgrowth of the "gospel of prosperity." What a perversion. I'm thankful that God is interested in more about me than some transitory "happiness."

God wants us to learn to be content in every situation, as Paul said, which is a far care from self-satisfaction.

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