Heather and I had the opportunity to attend a marriage retreat with 10 or so couples from our church this weekend, up at Rangeley Lake in Maine (thanks Scott, for the house!)

We were the youngest couple (by far, the average marriage length represented there was 31 years), and we haven't been in this church for very long, and so we feel out of place in some ways - some of the people have known each other for decades, and have been married for longer than we've been alive.

In the following video, Doug and Betty Henderson discuss some aspects of their marriage.  Technology failed (the battles consisted of Apple vs. Windows, HDMI vs. VGA, HDMI vs. analog audio, and after all of those were accomplished, CPU speed or a codec issue...), and so we weren't able to see the video until we got back home.

I had a couple things strike me during this video - one is one I've thought about before.  Two of the first couples that were around my age to get married said that they didn't believe in the bible verse that says:"let not the sun go down upon your wrath (Ephesians 4:26)" as that led to just being tired and still arguing.  I always wondered about it, but figured - they know better than I do, since they are actually married, and I wasn't.  After we got married, and the very few times that we would be lying in bed not talking to each other, we always (eventually) came back together to talk and resolve the issue before going to sleep, and so I think it is a good practice.  What I was reminded of today is that those two couples are now divorced, and so perhaps this discussion could have provided an "early warning" of what was ahead, if they continued on the same path.

Heather and I do also have some difficulties shopping together, and I'll have to ask the Hendersons if they have any solutions other than not shopping together.  It does seem like it doesn't happen as much now (in NH) as it did in Pennsylvania - I think we drove a lot more in Pennsylvania, so we would stop by a store on the way to somewhere else, where we are now more likely to go out specifically to shop somewhere, and so probably shop together less often than we used to.

I was also struck by Doug's comment about not having a "bosom buddy", and not really seeing the need for one.  Another guy at church made a similar statement this weekend, though he has been looking for one.  That does seem to be a common occurrence at churches, at least from my perspective - most people are comfortable where they are, and are not interested in adding any close friendships.  As a campus minister said when I left college - prepare to be disappointed - that's just the way our modern, busy lives are.

I did enjoy the weekend, and we drove up and back with another couple, and some other conversations at the retreat were good, so it does give me hope for the future.

Posted by Jon Daley on October 7, 2013, 12:59 pm | Read 42134 times
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I think there are different reasons for not wanting/needing a "bosom buddy." I am like Doug, value friendships but don't need them. We're introverts acting according to our nature. That doesn't mean we shouldn't facilitate close relationships for those who, for whatever reason, do need them. It isn't always busy lives that create this attitude. The real question is, "Do you value relationships? With God first, then your spouse, then others?"

Posted by Greg on October 7, 2013, 2:32 pm

With all those long marriages and long-time friends, looks like you’re at a great church! Doug’s relationship with his wife is so strong that she is his wellspring and bosom buddy . He also says he has lots of friends so it’s no wonder he’s content and not looking at adding more relationships! Still, God’s community should never close off. Our church is also filled with long-time friends and rooted in the local Swiss culture. Things move slowly here (we weren’t invited over until over six months after we’d been regularly attending the church and one guy didn’t want to share his opinion about how music worked in the church because he’d only been serving on the worship team for a year!).

As someone who’s thought a lot about community, do you think there are ways to accelerate intimacy or do we just have to be patient and let relationships grow at the pace others are comfortable with?

Youtube suggested the video “Evening Star Tappers and Ensemble at Ladies’ Tea 2013” and I thought I saw Heather – and it was! So fun to watch you sing – nice touch on the bongos. It makes me miss worshiping with you. All the videos you post are of the kids, so it was nice to see one of my dear sis!

Posted by Janet on October 8, 2013, 9:06 am

I'm glad that was a blessing to you, Janet. It's a bit uncomfortable watching myself, but I did have a nice time when we did it! The conga drums were a challenge for me, but it did work out.

We're hoping to get to know people better deliberately - maybe some kind of mentorship thing, we were brainstorming at the retreat.

Posted by joyful on October 8, 2013, 11:03 am

I finally watched the video - thanks for sharing! What struck me (among many other things) was Doug's comment that Betty was easy to please, and he liked pleasing her.
I feel the same way with Janet, and I think the two points go hand in hand. Once I learned how to please Janet (there was a bit of a learning curve involved), it became easier; as it became easier, it became more fun; as it became more fun, it became easier, and so on.
Now, pleasing a person is always a bit of a moving target situation, as preferences and circumstances change; but with that bedrock of motivation built, and the frequent feedback of marital talks, it's certainly a lot easier than when we started out!
Doug and Betty's long-distance issue is an encouraging example. She was unhappy and told him; he reacted in a way that allowed them to find a creative solution in mutual submission, as the verse at the end instructs us to.
As for bosom buddies... I'm mostly in a boat with Doug. I think in part that's because I grew up in an international church where people came and went at a pretty high rate, so long-term friendships were rare; in part it's the Swiss culture that's perhaps a little more collectivistic than the US culture and therefore more cautious with adding friends, as friendship is a more long-term obligation. Add that to a generally contented personality, and it's not surprising that having Janet quenches my need for close friendship. It's funny the campus minister blamed our modern, busy lives - because I feel that adding a lot of friends would make my schedule rather busy! Maybe I misunderstood what he was driving at.
But enough of my jibber jabber. I'm glad y'all had an encouraging weekend, and thanks for sharing.

Posted by Stephan on October 17, 2013, 5:01 pm

I think the campus minister's point was that other people are so busy that they don't have time to develop a relationship with you.

Posted by joyful on October 19, 2013, 10:37 am

Ah, I see. That might be part of the problem; people do have a lot of commitments these days. But I would have thought that for someone new to a church the main problem would simply be that he has no connections in the church and desires new relationships, whereas most people already attending in the church have built up a number of relationships to their contentment and aren't necessarily looking for more.

Neither's to blame. The new guy can't help wanting relationships - it's healthy for him to desire them. The longtime attendee can't help being less than excited at adding a new relationship to his roster - it's wise not to want to spread himself to thinly across relationships.

It's a bit like the guy on his way to lunch who bumps into a friend who's just eaten and suggests the two of them grab a burger together. Their needs just aren't aligned right now, but time and patience (and, as you say, some deliberate action) can very well change that. It'll be interesting to hear what you come up with!

Posted by Stephan on October 25, 2013, 5:03 pm

Has anything come of your brainstorming ways to be more deliberate in getting to know people? Your solutions would be just the sort of ideas I was hoping to get by asking about ways to accelerate intimacy. Keep us posted!

Posted by Janet on October 26, 2013, 9:48 am

I talked to one of the elders at the retreat, and while he agreed with much of what I had to say, he gave himself an F grade for these first four months or so of his eldership. He knows it isn't a real reason, but he has had a lot of work lately.

They have been at the church for a long time, and would say that he hasn't really made any close friends in all of that time.

He did invite us over for lunch tomorrow.

I suspect our conversation was brought up at an elders meeting, because another elder invited me to read through a book together.

I keep forgetting to type up the marriage retreat notes, which is likely hindering anything from moving forward.

Posted by Jon Daley on October 26, 2013, 10:48 am

Cool! That sounds like movement in a good direction. I hope you have a good get-together with him tomorrow!

Posted by Stephan on October 26, 2013, 5:13 pm

I just moderated Greg's comment (the first chronologically). Sorry it took so long to notice!

Posted by joyful on November 4, 2013, 2:35 pm

As much as I identify myself as an introvert, I don’t quite see myself in Greg’s boat. I need friendships. Deep friendships sustain me. The difference is more that if I don’t have contact with a good friend for a while I don’t really notice for a long time or until we get together again and then it’s like water to a parched soul. Given the choice, I’d stay home, but if I take the trouble to get out, I enjoy good company.

Now, I would never forget to eat, but I had a friend who would get so caught up in his work he’d only realize after a 48 hour fast that he hadn’t eaten a thing. He liked food as much as the rest of us, his hungry sensors just weren’t as sharp. It’s the same for me as an introvert. I like friendship as much as the next guy, but somehow I don’t know I’ve been missing it until it’s been ‘way longer than any extrovert can stand. Like my friend who would engrossed himself in his work and forgot he needed food, I engross myself in the world inside my head or the work at hand so fully that I forget I need people. Can anyone else identify?

Posted by Janet on November 5, 2013, 6:55 am

I can identify. I also am realizing the need for cycles. Time together, time apart. When we were away from church for several weeks because of other activities and sicknesses, I really enjoyed it when we came back. Like you said about water to a parched soul. But then after going consistently for several weeks, I found last Sunday's break (when I stayed home with two mildly sick kids) refreshing.

I suspect that maybe the basic difference between introverts and extroverts is the time period for each part of the cycle. Well, and the "hunger sensors" play a real part, too.

Posted by joyful on November 5, 2013, 3:08 pm
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