Tuesday, February 26, 2013

LCC Teaching Survey

Seventy-five of the roughly 670 LCC instructors participated in a survey.  The results are online.  I have no idea what they signify, with such a low participation rate.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Paying Back in Beauty and Caring

This blog post is mostly a story about my grandfather: a tribute in his memory.  One of many.
Now it was time for him to move out. She wasn't there, so he must go for both of them. It was up to him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned him in vision and strength.
  - Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia

I have mentioned my grandfather a few times before: that he was a real "American Success Story" of hard work bringing his family from poverty to wealth, and that he was the chemist who convinced the board of Johnson and Johnson to recall all Tylenol during the Tylenol Crisis.


My grandparents met in elementary school, but she had cooties back then.  They married when he was nineteen. 

He went to college at the Newark College of Engineering.  He worked to pay his way through college: first driving an ice cream truck, then driving a taxi.

It was difficult to support a family and pay for college.  Too difficult, even for someone like my grandfather who had lived through the Great Depression and avoided debt.

At the end of one semester, the Head of the Chemistry Department asked my grandfather to step into his office.  I do not know that man's name.  He had a very big wooden desk.

"Your grades are slipping," he noted.

"Yes, sir," my grandfather answered.

"I hear you are a good taxi driver," he commented.

"Sir," my grandfather replied.

"You could be a brilliant chemist.  The world needs brilliant chemists more than it needs taxi drivers," he said.  Then he took out his checkbook and wrote my grandfather a check that would cover the next semester's tuition.  "I do not want you driving a taxi next semester," he said as he handed my grandfather the check across the desk.

"Sir, I do not know when I can pay you back," my grandfather said.

"You will not pay me back," the Head of the Chemistry Department replied.  "You will become a brilliant chemist.  Some day you will have your own office, your own big wooden desk, and your own checkbook."

My grandfather understood.  He became financially successful and generous to charities and to friends in need.

My grandfather later become instrumental in causing Johnson and Johnson to promote qualified minority employees up to positions of management decades before other large companies began to do so.  When he passed away in 2003, my family discovered that sometimes he would secretly help pay for these co-workers' children's college educations with his own money.


The loss of a family member is hard.  But there are universal steps for proper and healthy mourning.

Sharing stories about the virtues of the departed family member is an important part of the process from mourning the person with grief to remembering the person with a smile.  These stories serve as the "knots" that tie the tapestry of their life to the tapestries of other lives by reminding and encouraging us help continue their virtues: at first because we want to commemorate their tapestry's beauty; eventually because such deeds become themes in our own tapestry.

In my family, my grandfather's generosity continues in how we help friends with interest-free loans.

How do you "pay back to the world in beauty and caring" what has been shared with you by your departed family members?

Liquidity

My wife and I are long-term investors.  Before deciding to invest in a stock or fund we do a lot of research to estimate its long-term potential.  If that investment performs well we hold onto it, waiting until we have available cash from the next year's savings to pick a new investment.

We have been married for almost seventeen years.  Most years we did what economists recommend and saved at least ten percent of our earnings.

(There were a couple years where home improvements meant we saved less, but often our house value went up.  During the two years when each of our boys were born we spent a bit more than we earned due to my wife being on maternity leave.)

Einstein may have once called compound interest either "greatest invention in human history" or "the most powerful force in the universe".  In any case, it should not be surprising that after seventeen years our investments had appreciated greatly.

December ended with a potential fiscal cliff and doubts about whether 2012 would be the last time to long-term capital gains without taxes if your total taxable income was less than seventy thousand dollars.

I have written before about our income: our taxable income is typically a lot less that that cutoff.  However, that seventeen years of capital gains would more than double our normal income.  So we decided to sell all of our investments with long-term gains, but first needed to donate a big portion of our appreciated investments to charity to stay under that cutoff to avoid paying tax on our long-term gains.

We were happy to find out about Fidelity Charitable.  It is charity that holds onto the money you donate, and whenever you give an order it sends out a check to other charities.  To paraphrase, it is a tax trick: my family effectively paid several years tithes "up front" for a tax benefit in 2012, and for a while will pay our tithes from our Fidelity Charity account instead of our bank account.

My wife and I are very used to a mindset in which we do not consider our investments "our money".  First, because we see ourselves as stewarding a portion of God's money that in the long term is not ours.  Second, because our investments have always been "sticky" instead of liquid since we could not easily sell them without worrying about tax implications.

Now it seems strange.  We have reinvested, and our investments are so much more liquid.  It is still God's money, but it is nearer.

There is a nice benefit.  Because our investments are now liquid, the money we keep as cash at the credit union for emergencies can be very easily replaced.  That means we can more readily offer our close friends interest-free loans.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 15

15. She is rational and responsible.

I wrote earlier about how well our plans mesh.  This was huge.  But it would mean little if we could not make thoughtful decisions when apart or together.  It would not provide stability if we did not both feel responsible for the decisions we made.

Please allow me three examples about my wife that highlight three stereotypes about women.  (The stereotypes are to provide an outline for this essay.  Whether you agree with them does not matter.)

My wife is often more emotional than I am.  But she can turn on her logical problem-solving mode at a moment's notice.  Her decisions are rational, even when her emotions are one factor she considers when making a decision.

There are times she is at the mercy of her hormones.  Yet she always feels responsible for her words and deeds.  She apologizes for "acting hormonal" and never uses her gender to excuse her behavior.

She is habitually more self-focused than I am.  When she hears something (anything from the weather report to economic news) she always initially meets the information by asking, "How does this affect me?"  But she can move beyond this questions as quickly as she wants or needs to.

I know of a few husbands who are not so fortunate.  It is difficult to live with a woman who excuses her behavior with clich├ęs about "women get to change their mind" or "women are mysterious".

Creative Vulgarity from Children's Literature


So, what fills my mind during a grueling hike up Mount Pisgah?

In truth, not much.  Pushing a jogging stroller up a steep hill for an hour while talking to a chatty four-year-old tends to quiet the inner monologue.

But later that day I thought of yet more creative vulgarities that take children's literature or television in wrong directions.  Here are my current favorites.  I try to make them subtle enough to fly over the heads of children.  Be warned that they become more obscene as you keep reading.


Trolls under the bridge to Terabithia! - Terebithia stands for the place of imagination, so this imprecation describes writer's block or any obstacle to imagination.

George's tail! - Even though he is called a monkey, George has no tail and is actually a chimpanzee.  So this malediction is used when something is proved not to exist.

Mavis's stones! - Mavis is an often unpleasant engine who shunts trucks in a quarry.  Thomas and his friends do not like working with her attitude or the heavily loaded trucks she prepares them to take to construction sites.  This fulmination describes something doubly unpleasant.

Donald's codpiece! - We all know what a big codpiece is supposed to represent.  And Donald is a duck.  Ever wonder why Daisy found that bumbler attractive?

Fraggle fewmets! - Fraggles are small.  How might we track them?  A vilification for something made difficult because it requires focused concentration about something unpleasant.

Pooh covered gorse-bushes! - During an expedition to find the north pole, Winnie-the-Pooh fell onto a gorse-bush.  This denunciation describes something unpleasant that sounds even worse than it is.

Tinkerbell's orgy! - Peter Pan had his nose tweaked by a parade of drunk fairies.  Identical meaning to the previous phrase.

Little Bear playing doctor! - In Little Bear's Friend the hero makes friends with a young girl whose doll gets broken.  Little Bear fixes the doll.  That's all.  Again, identical meaning to the previous two phrases.

Hooper's flavored raincoats! - Luis and Maria needed to shop somewhere, at least for the first few months after their wedding until their daughter was conceived.  Refers to something everyone knows is there but no one will talk about.

Jadis's frigid thighs! - Can't you picture one of the Dwarves of Narnia saying this?

Hansel's bone! - Hansel is trapped in a cage by a nearly-blind witch.  She tries to fatten him up, but he holds a thin bone (in most versions of the story a chicken bone) through the bars to trick her into waiting to slaughter him.  Only an obscenity because of slang.

Beren's balls! - Beren was an ancient warrior of Middle-Earth and the manliest hero ever.  Remember in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy how Sauron was weakened and only an eye, and it still required every hero of that generation working together to defeat him?  About 6,500 years earlier, Sauron was at his full strength and Beren's dog took him down.

Clark's kleenex! - A reference to a Larry Niven story.  I do not like this obscenity: in my mind it means "an insurmountable problem!" but it could be understood as referring to Lois in a demeaning way.

Toothless Ewoks! - In prison the Wookies knock out their teeth, because gums slide better.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Two Summit Hikes

No blogging the past few days because I have been so tired in the evenings.

On Friday the boys and I hiked with some friends up to the summit of Spencer Butte.


 

This is not a difficult hike, except for a bit of scrambling over rocks at the very top.  Here is a map.  The distance is 1.1 miles, and the elevation gain is 722 feet (trail head is 1,340 feet, summit is 2,062 feet).  So that is an average of a 12% grade.

So on Monday I thought, "Rainy days predicted for most of this week, so why not try the hike up Mount Pisgah?"

 

Uhg.   It was grueling!  Part of the reason was that I think pushing the jogging stroller was quite a bit more work that wearing Gallant in the ergo.  And part of the reason was that even though the summit is lower, the trail head is much lower.

Here are two maps.  The distance is 1.4 miles, and the elevation gain is 1,050 feet (trail head is 479  feet, summit is 1,529 feet).  So that is an average of a 14% grade.

Now I need to catch up on blogging.  Tomorrow...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 14

14. We both believe we are sexy enough to make the other happy, and do not mind or feel threatened if the other appreciates an attractive stranger.

Modern English often inaccurately uses the word jealousy to make it synonymous with envy.  Please allow me a brief example:
My wife and I are at a swing dance event.  I watch her dancing with someone else.

If I feel jealous then I think, "My wife is attractive and a good dancer!  That other guy may be dancing with her now, but I get to dance with her later and take her home."

If I feel envy then I think, "Hey, that's my wife!  Get your hands off her!"
Got it?  Jealousy is being stirred to an appreciation of what you have.  Envy is wanting what someone else has.

Now, I have already mentioned that my wife and I both think the other is sexy, that we have physical and emotional exclusivity, and that we were abstinent until married.  These three factors combine to help us feel safely secure in our relationship.

But I am sure there is more that allows us to not feel threatened by the fact that the world includes other attractive people.  We even enjoy trying to put our hard-wired attraction preferences under the microscope while people-watching or looking at a catalog.  (From one such discussion I learned my wife is really attracted to strong hands.  So I should wrap this up soon and give her another backrub to keep my hands strong and sexy.)

Here is a more detailed recent example involving this photograph from the back cover of a college alumni magazine that was lying on the dining room table one day.  Not only did we disagree about which young lady was most attractive, but I could not explain why I picked the one third from the right.  Some cooperative analysis revealed that it was the combination of high cheekbones and curved eyebrows: I must be wired to prioritize a Duchenne smile in which the limbic brain engages the eyes.  (In the photograph all the other young women instead demonstrate a forced "social smile".)  No wonder I like making my wife laugh!

It is comfortingly sexy to know my wife is enough of a sexual creature to consider other people attractive.  And it is comfortingly stable to know that attraction will produce jealousy, not envy.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 13

13. She encourages my role as head of the family and leader in religious practices and teaching.

What does it mean to be head of the family?

I already wrote about how we show respect to each other.  I am not respected more.  But I do have some leadership roles my wife does not.

First, I provide for the household (I already wrote about providing momentum within a conversations and events).  One big aspect of this role is monitoring and supporting both of our to-do lists.  As each weekend approaches, my wife and I sit down and discuss what needs to be accomplished that weekend and how to fit this around our out-of-the-house plans.  If we make these plans badly it is my fault.  If the weekend could have been more successful if we were a little more energetic that is also my fault.

Second, I accept and am given responsibility for household.  Because I am the momentum-provider even for the items on my wife's to-do list a small amount of blame or credit for how things go.  Part of her career success is due to my efforts to ensure she gets enough sleep.  Part of how our house needs some dusting is my fault even though this is one of the chore she does.

Third, when my wife and I must do something together but have different ways of doing things, we do it my way.  This only happens for things we rarely do (such as packing for vacations) since we work out a blended way of how to do anything that happens frequently.

Lastly, in those very rare cases when we do not agree about what to do (such as I joked about here) I get to pick who gives in.  I cannot remember what our second argument was about, except that it happened in our kitchen in Eugene.  So I am not sure whether I always pick that I give in, or we each have had to give in once.

I did not write about being leader in religious practices and teaching for the family, since that is more commonly understood.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 12

12. Neither of us create or bring drama into our lives or home.

I am not sure how to write about this.

Some people are drama magnets.  We are not.

(For example, tonight is the evening of Valentine's Day.  Why would I pick something longer to blog about, when I could be spending time with my wife?)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 11

11. Our plans mesh.

This is huge.  It means so many things.

When we were engaged and talking about our plans for our lives, those plans fit together.  The roads which God wanted us to walk were complimentary.  Our habits fit together.  Our personal preferences were compatible.

Here is a surely incomplete list of examples from some quick brainstorming:
  1. My wife's career is of the type that might require us to move to a certain place.  My career is not: I can continue my career whever we move.
  2. My wife's career is of the type that might require strict workday hours.  (Her current job does not, but it could.)  My career allows flexible workday hours.
  3. We both wanted to have our careers and finances stable before having kids.
  4. We both wanted two kids.  We knew neither of us would be disappointed if those two kids were both boys or both girls and thus change our goal to more kids.
  5. We both wanted me to eventually be the primary caregiver of kids, and my wife to be the primary breadwinner.
  6. We both agreed on what raising kids well and successfully would look like.
  7. We both agreed on what "stuff" we wanted to own, including big things (one house, one practical car, no television, etc.) and smaller things.
  8. We both agreed on what we wanted in a house: a big back yard, each child having the option of his or her own bedroom, etc.
  9. We decided, because she likes cooking and I do not, that she would prepare most dinners.  I mind washing dishes much less than she does, so I usually wash all the dinner dishes.
  10. We agree about how to eat healthy and what types of exercise we enjoy, and prioritize these.
  11. We worked out complimentary roles for household chores.
  12. We worked out complimentary roles for household finances.
  13. We want to support the same charities.
  14. What we enjoy as recreation on the weekends matches.
  15. What we enjoy as recreation on the weekday evenings matches.
  16. What we enjoy as recreation on vacations matches.

I surely could go on, but need not.  The big point is that in our marriage neither my wife nor I need to make compromises.  Our marriage is very relaxing because we have such similar lifestyles.  (Recall that what I wrote yesterday mentioned that divorced people list different lifestyles as a reason more often than cheating!)

When my wife and I need to make plans together I never, ever worry that an argument will happen, or that one of us will end up feeling hurt and harboring bitterness because of an unhappy compromise.  We can always approach those decisions fearlessly confident that we will happily agree upon the answer, whether deciding where to move, or planning a vacation, or shopping for a car, or deciding on the kindergarten in which to enroll Smiley.

Surely this adds to the stability of our marriage, even though I have never seen any statistics attempt to measure how well people's plans mesh as they build and live a life together.  How could either my wife or I ever consider that we could find someone else half as good a match?

Anecdotally, we have had one argument.  When we moved Rochester we could not agree about which drawer in the kitchen should be for silverware.  I gave in and let my wife have her way.  For all the years we lived in that apartment it seemed to me like the silverware was in the wrong drawer.  So, yes, I can make a gracious compromise.  :-P

Finally, I should add that a whole lot of our agreement is due to our faith.  Some of this is because we have divine guidance (such as our careers).  Some is simply because of scriptural morals and values.  My wife and I have so much agreement because our spiritual walks have shaped us to have that agreement.  And that allows us to trust that in the future we will have only increasing agreement.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 10

10. We have only had sex with each other.

Today's reason is slightly awkward: perhaps a bit on the TMI side, and unlike what I have written before not something I actively find attractive about my wife but instead a passively helpful historical truth.

A blogger named Dalrock has a few interesting posts about divorce statistics that helped me understand how much abstinence until marriage is important.  He also links to three articles by a blogger I have not other otherwise read.

I'll summarize so you do not need to follow all those links: a marriage in which the wife is abstinent until marriage apparently has a decreased risk of divorce by at least 35% and perhaps as much as 60%.

(I cannot find any data about husband abstinence.  Are we unimportant?)

This is huge!  Let me compare it to other factors that lower risk of divorce and apply to my marriage (I do not know how much these are statistically independent):
  • college-educated women have a well-established decreased risk of divorce by about 25%
  • high-IQ women in the U. S. have an additional decreased risk of divorce by about 30% independent from educational level
  • couples who wait at least seven months before having kids have a decreased risk of divorce by about 25%
  • our income level correlates to a decreased risk of divorce by about 30%
  • neither of us have been married before, which decreases risk of divorce by about 35%
  • only one of us has divorced parents, which decreases risk of divorce by about 15%

If you know basic statistics you can combine all of these to estimate a statistical chance, back on our wedding day, that our marriage would end in divorce.  It is quite low!  Do not believe folks who say that modern marriage is always dreadfully risky.

More important to my wife and I was that God gave our marriage his approval back when my wife and I were engaged, so we felt quite safe getting married.  Statistics do not compare to divine guidance!

Why might abstinence be the most significant single predictor of marriage stability?  Hormones!

During sex, hormones cause emotional pair-bonding, similar to the pair-bonding of lovebirds and guinea pigs.  But this effect fades away with multiple sex partners.   A married couple who was not abstinent has less or none of this benefit.

Furthermore, the pair-bonding remains for those prior sex partners and often causes a bit of historical revisionism.  That rude college person who was so amazing in bed one time might over time be remembered as so very attractive and able to give pleasure, with all faults ignored and a youthful physique frozen in time.  Even if this somehow never interferes with marital intimacy, anecdotes abound about how it hinders marital communication.  When a marriage is stressed, talking through the issues with your spouse takes difficult and sometimes unpleasant work.  Much more easy and feel-good to lazily reminisce about old pair-bond people.  Or maybe even find them on Facebook...

So now you know the kernel of Reason #10.  My wife and I are overly fond of each other because our brains have been rewired by our body chemistries--what a great deal!  And we have no other competing pair-bonds to distract us from being fond (and staying fond) of each other.

(Also, do not trust anyone that says young adults need to "discover themselves" sexually before marriage.  Both statistics and biology prove them wrong.)


Tangent: All of the above statistical analysis focused on predicting divorce on the wedding day.  Since this is probably the only blog post I will ever write about divorce statistics, the mathematician in my wants to be more complete and comment briefly on Dalrock's chart of reasons divorces happen, which describes the other side of the issue.

The biggest cause of divorce is "abuse", which sounds simple but is not.  For example, during all of my grandparent's marriage my grandfather gave my grandmother discretionary money each month and otherwise did all the finances.  My grandmother liked this: she could not make a bad decision about money!  But some currently prominent academics and their surveys would now label such financial unequal roles as one kind of abuse.  Overall, how they widen the definition of "abuse" means this category should really be relabeled as lack of respect.  (After all, few people could physically or verablly abuse a spouse they respect, and lack of respect can be fatal to marriages even without actual abuse.)

UPDATE: This website has a long list of "abuse", much of which is mere disrespect.  Not good for a marriage, but not true abuse.

Apparently I was onto something when I started this new theme by describing how my wife and I respect each other.

Also, I was surprised that "different lifestyles" was perhaps more significant than "cheating".  I will refer back to this tomorrow.


UPDATE: Good heavens!  According to this article,  "68% of men say they married the best sex of their lives, compared to 45% of women who said the same."  No wonder the divorce rate is high, and so many wives slowly turn off marital sex.

UPDATE: How many men are abstinent until married?  I find conflicting statistics, compounded by the usual problems with survey reliability.  Try these two links as places to start if you are doing your own research.

UPDATE: More data on partner count and marriage stability, from the Heritage Foundation (so a bias alert).
Women with 0 non-marital sexual partners had a 80.47% chance of being in a stable marriage.
Women with 1 non-marital sexual partners had a 53.63% chance of being in a stable marriage.
Women with 2 non-marital sexual partners had a 43.65% chance of being in a stable marriage.
The trend continues but I won't keep typing...
UPDATE: Two more posts by Dalrock about divorce, showing statistically (for what that is worth) divorce is contagious and does not make people happy.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 09

9. We are faithful both physically and emotionally.

Faithfulness includes having things we make sure we do together physically and emotionally.  The things in this category we might do with other people also, but not with purposeful regularity.  For example, I might sometimes give a friend a neck massage, but I treat it as a duty to give my wife as much massage as she asks for--and to frequently ask if she needs a massage so that I am not relying on her initiative.

Faithfulness includes having things we make sure we only do with each other physically and emotionally.  The things in this category we might not do very often, but when they happen we know it is a special thing reserved for each other.  For example, the fireplace can add a romantic ambiance to various stuff, and we know we only treat fireplaces as romantic with each other--even though we might not do this at all during the warm summer months when we do not heat the house.

(I have written before about how terrible it is when spouses are not each other's best friends and closest confidants.)

To paraphrase, physically and emotionally we have reliability, intimacy, and exclusivity.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 08

8. We both enjoy date nights and see the importance of practicing dating.

Now that little Gallant is twenty months old, my wife I can enjoy more date nights.  Finding a babysitter is easier.

Oddly, we best like going to a theatre: to see a musical if possible, or a movie otherwise.

Back when we had not been married so long, we wanted date nights to involve a lot of talking.  We had dreams to discuss, long-term plans to make, and events to plan.  Now that we are old fogies we just want to relax together and get something new to talk about.  Most of what used to be long-term conversation topics have happened: we have kids and know how to raise them, we have a house and know how to maintain it, etc.  The time we spend cuddling in bed is plenty for making short-term plans because life with little kids means each weekend we get to do about one interesting thing instead of several.

We also realize that, because we have little kids, we are not as skilled at date nights as we once were.  We have gotten rusty.  So we value "practicing" them, meaning both "doing that often" and "getting even better at that".

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Slightly Deeply Funky

For the last few months I have really been enjoying my new boots.

Long ago I heard the advice, "A very comfortable pair of shoes you wear often is worth spending a bit on.  You posture and back are worth it."

For the past few years I thought I had found a "very comfortable" pair of shoes.  But after I tried on the Fleuvog Burgundy Kaden boot while visiting Portland I knew my old concept of comfort was way out of whack.  They are truly amazing, and my posture and back appreciate them greatly.


The Fleuvog company has many mottos, of which one is "Be deeply funky."  I certainly am not a very funky person.  But I think with my long hair, burgandy boots, and goatee without a moustache that I am beginning to qualify as slightly deeply funky.

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 07

7. We collect romantic traditions as togetherness rituals.

I think I am a day behind, so two of these today!

This reason needs explaining because the phrase "togetherness rituals" is meaningless personal jargon.  But after a few examples you will recognize what I refer to, and hopefully relate the idea to ways you interact with your own close friends and family.

Many of our rituals are occasions for kissing: on a bridge, in an elevator, when the car odometer is a palindrome.

(Of course there are hello and good-bye kisses too.  Those rituals are so common I am not sure they count as "collected" by us.)

We also have codes for what  different types of touches mean.  When we do five fingertip touches, one with each finger of one hand, that is a code for the five words "I love you very much."  Two squeezes when holding hands means "Glad you are here."  We pet the back of the other person's hand to mean "It is nice to relax with you."  When we go on a walk we link elbows arm in arm to emphasize being together (when on walks with our kids this translates as "Ha!  We have both momentarily escaped from having to hold a little boy's hand").  Or on walks we will hold hands and swing those arms like a pendulum: a small swing means "What is next?" whereas a big swing means "Onward!"

I sometimes ponder what advice about dating I will give to our boys when they are older.  I am pretty sure one nugget will be:
     "Do not hold her hand until you can say six different things just by how you touch her hair.
     Do not touch her tushy until you can say six different things just by how you hold her hand.
     Do not kiss her until you can say six different things just by how you touch her tushy.
     Do not nap beside her in a hammock until you can say six different things just by how you kiss her.
     And you better not be doing more than napping beside her in a hammock!"
UPDATE: Changed the "nugget" to be longer and funnier.

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 06

6. We both think the other person is sexy and treat them that way.

This reason should not be notable.  But I suppose it must be, after I compared how my wife and I behave with the statistics about how often married people do Married People Stuff ™ in bed.

Throughout the day, whenever we are together, we pay attention to each other in ways that communicate "you are sexy".  This happens with eye contact and little touches when we walk past one another.  We like to sit close to each other.  We sneak hugs and kisses when the kids are not looking (and often when they are). We purposefully keeping up our appearance at home and compliment each other on how we appreciate seeing our spouse in nicer clothes than sweatpants and a formless tee shirt.  There is also the trick of paying attention to the other person when they are not expecting it: this is the time a comment on how we are attracted to the other person's body seems most genuine.  And of course there is lots of cuddling and Married People Stuff ™.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 05

5. She swing dances with me.

I could write much about this if I had more time and better words.  For now I will merely note that real swing dancing, focusing on connection and lead-and-follow (instead of the kind often taught at colleges that pushes the follow through scripted moves with jerky arm motions) is all about enjoying being with someone while communicating with movements of body weight and sharing of momentum.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 04

4. She laughs when we cuddle in bed and say silly things.

You don't really need me to explain this one, do you?

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 03


3. She laughs when I tease her in all three types of teasing

Smiley often asks if what he says is "silly" or "teasing".  Therefore I have had to pay attention to what teasing really is.  I have identified three ways I tease my wife.
  • my lame attempts at playful innuendo
  • my silly obvious lies told just to make her laugh
  • my responding to nagging with agree-and-exaggerate

The first I will not elaborate on.  My improvised innuendo really is terrible.  But she still laughs and usually teases me back.

The second is the type of teasing Smiley does: saying obvious untruths just to make someone laugh.  ("Have you checked the weather report for tomorrow?"  "Yes, heavy volcanic activity.")  I do not do this nearly as often as I should, since my wife does enjoy it.

The third is a great trick.  Lately I have learned about how wives sometimes use a "fitness test" question to check their husband's confidence and reliability.  These are deliberately (although often unconsciously) awkward questions: either both people already know the answer or there is no right answer.  (As examples: "Did you miss me?", "Do you still want to go out for Thai food on Sunday?", or "Do you worry about our relationship?"  Of course, the classic is "Do these pants make me look fat?")  The best responses are usually playful agreement followed by either witty exaggeration or absurd embellishment.  (Possible answers to the four questions above are "Yes, but it's complicated," "Of course!  I'm still working on perfecting post-Thai-food farts," "Yes, but don't start taking that for granted," and "Maybe, let's compare without the pants.")  The same style of playful agree-and-exaggerate works to defuse most nagging.  ("Have you washed the car yet?"  "Yes, but I did a terrible job.  Now it’s your turn.")

Anyway, the point was that my wife finds my teasing funny, and I love that she does.

UPDATE: Did some minor re-wording for clarity.  I also thought of other good answers to the pants questions.  First, "Let me see them," followed by making the pant legs into a circle and looking through it.  Second, "I'll try them on so you can see what they do."  Either way you are being playfully confident and inviting your wife to give you an opportunity to compliment her tushy.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 02

Continuing the new theme...

2. She appreciates my role as momentum-provider during conversations and events.

It takes energy to keep activities and conversations from stalling, especially at the end of the day when both spouses are tired.

Somebody needs to suggest what to do when nothing is happening, have ideas or preferences prepared, and maintain a storehouse of interesting topics of conversation for during walks or soaks in the spa.

Somebody needs to enliven conversations with silly jokes and defuse tense situations with witty agree-and-exaggerate statements.

Somebody needs to push for setting aside time to exercise together, especially if one spouse only goes for walks or does strength training if the other is with them.

Somebody needs to be the first to set aside the laptop when we both crash after the boys are asleep.

It is a lot of mental work to be lively yet relaxing, playful yet clear, and prepared yet flexible.

My work day with the boys is much more physically exhausting than my wife's work day behind a computer and at meetings.  Yet she is the one who gets more mentally fatigued each work day she has to make difficult choices and carefully word things to avoid offending people.

So it becomes my job at the end of the day to do that mental work at home and be the provider of momentum.  My wife realizes and appreciates this.  I suspect that if she took it for granted I would quickly find that the responsibility felt like a burden rather than a happy act of agape.

Again I ask for brainstorming help: in what other ways does someone need to be the momentum-provider?

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Why I Love My Wife - Reason 01

Today is an engagement anniversary for my wife and me.

I have been doing a lot of computer writing that has edged out blogging.  But time to remedy that with a new theme!

I mentioned in November that I had started reading Manosphere blogs.  Let me say now that there is nothing like reading comments from a bunch of men who have or had unhappy marriages to make me appreciate my great marriage.  One of the first things I did after encountering these blogs was to write down lots of reasons why I love my wife.

And what better day than now to finally get around to processing those as blog posts?

Here is the first.

(Tangent #1: With nearly all of these I originally wrote them as "she does..." but later changed them to "we do..." to emphasize the healthy marriage and avoid giving the false impression that she is a saint married to an old goat.)

(Tangent #2: For anyone new to my blog, know that I purposefully avoid using my wife's first name.  We want those searching the internet for her name to find her professional work, not this blog.)

1. We know how to show respect to each other.

This one is a bit difficult to write about, simply because modern American culture does a terribly job at teaching people how to show respect.  So I need to be specific, which will sound overly clinical about a dynamic that is quite natural to us.  Here it goes...

We are polite with our words.  We say "please" and "thank you" to each other, and usually "you're welcome."  We ask requests instead of making demands.

We are polite with our body language.  We do not stand in a way that boxes in the other, we start conversations a bit angled (rather than parallel), we give each other enough space, we do not move too quickly.

We appreciate each other's ideas.  We ask each other for advice.

We compliment each other's good habits.

We forgive each other's mistakes and never bring those up again.

We seldom have disagreements.  On those rare times when we do, we avoid disagreeing in front of the children or in public.

We give each other priority.  Over the years we have established little ritual acts of kind subservience towards each other (how we get each other tea, etc.).

What are other ways to show respect?  If I have not listed something it is probably due to insufficient brainstorming, not that the something is lacking in our marriage relationship.

UPDATE: I did think of one way to show respect we neglect.  When in face-to-face conversation and holding an object, it is most proper to hold it by your hip rather than in front of your chest.  (See any James Bond film with Sean Connery, how Connery holds a glass or pen.)  Holding an object high can send the minor body language signals "I want something between us" or "I am holding this high and aggressively."  But my generation was never taught this, and my wife and I know neither of those signals would be truthful between us.