Monthly Archives: August 2013

10, 9, 8 … Countdown to Wedding Day

AndyGriffithShowAndyTaylorBarneyFife

I paid the wedding fee and the kitchen deposit today to use Christian Fellowship Church for the Sept. 7 holy matrimony of Natasha Jackson and Kory Myrick. A week from now it’ll be Mr. and Mrs. Myrick.

As we’re counting down the days and activity at the Jackson Estate becomes almost solely wedding focused, I’m also counting up with “How to Wreck a Marriage,” some of which is based on my 31 years of trial and error of being a prince to my princess, and some of which is based on the observations of others.

Wrecking ball No. 9: Resist change; don’t expect change. Andy will always be sheriff, Barney will always be his whacky sidekick, and Aunt Bee has a pie in the oven. You have an idea of what marriage will be like and look like, and if you’re the type that doesn’t roll very well with the punches of ever-present change, you’re in good shape to follow through with this wrecking ball. (It’s sibling, “Your fiancé will change once he/she becomes your spouse,” is this wrecking ball’s evil twin. More on that one tomorrow).

At first glance this wrecker might seem hard to understand, but if you can appreciate the nuances of “resist change,” you can wreak great havoc. For instance, here’s a chance to flex your inflexibility, to shrink away from challenges that threaten to expand your borders. Someone wants you “think outside the box?” What a ridiculous cliché. Besides, the box you’re in is just fine. You know how it operates, you know what to expect. There’s structure. Sounds like a good thing, sure, but taken to the extreme — which is what we’re after here — the unalterable structure you’ve created stifles creativity. And it stifles your spouse, the one that maybe recognizes the need to switch careers, houses, seats at church, the seasons of life. Blah blah blah.

You’re just fine. This is the way it will always be. Inside the box. Safe. Stifled.

On the other hand — I told you there were nuances, right? — being inflexible and unimaginative brings heavy darkness when things aren’t good, and love has grown dim, live has become overbearing, and your faith is like a vapor.

It will always be this way. It’s hopeless. I can’t change.

Hopeless indeed. Wrecked.

Congratulations.

Playlist

With my deepest, most sincere apologies to the late Freddy Mercury — and take a listen before you pass judgment — my No. 1 rock/metal hit of all time, Bohemian Rhapsody, performed by …

The Muppets.

And once that warms you up, check out the most classic Muppet tune of all-time. Click here.

Mahna Mahna

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Inspiration, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, Wedding countdown

Wedding countdown and more marriage-wrecking advice

Today's selected photo has nothing to do with today's post. I simply love randomness - and penguins.

Today’s selected photo has nothing to do with today’s post. I simply love randomness – and penguins.

Hear ye, hear ye: Nuptials in nine days. Natasha Jackson weds Kory Myrick on Sept. 7. Next week will be a whirlwind, and although I have a number of tasks leading up to the big day, my only duties on wedding day will be:

1 – Walk bride down aisle; give her away.
2 – Bring wedding gifts to our house after wedding. (Bride and groom will retrieve in a few days).
3 – Return tuxes/attire to Men’s Wearhouse.

Even I can handle that.

I made that list as a precursor to today’s installment of “How to Wreck a Marriage.”

Wrecking ball No. 7: Make a list and keep it going – a list of wrongs, offenses and those times your spouse was just having a bad day and you wanted her to be having a good day because, well, you can’t both have bad days at once.

The list accomplishes a number of purposes, of which two are primary:

1 – It shows that you’re keeping a list, so your spouse had better be aware, and just might not want another entry. You are a force to be reckoned with.

2 – It’s ammunition. You write the list with permanent marker and use a neon orange highlighter to showcase the worst offenses, and maybe add a sticky note strip for quick retrieval and reference.

And like any well-prepared battler, you keep the ammo close for future use. Some of the ammo represents the “nuclear option,” which is That One Thing (or things) that your spouse has no defense for, no redeeming explanation for and no comeback for. Even though your spouse has apologized, pleaded for forgiveness and relived that offense over and over again (good for you!), you keep that one handy if you need a nuke. That moment might come when you’re in a corner and instead of relenting and admitting and owning your part in the real or imagined disagreement at hand, you launch an ICBM, equipped with a war-head that splatters your spouse’s worst moments all over the place. Again.

Justifying your own actions or words by pointing out That One Thing or even a lesser offense – which is not as bad as yours, of course, so keep pointing that out – is an ideal way to use this wrecking ball.

And what makes this method extra fun is that both spouses can load up the missile war-heads with nukes.

“I remember that time that you …”

“Well if you hadn’t done that thing …”

“You mean that thing you told me was off the table because you forgave me?”

“Oh, but you weren’t really sorry, or you wouldn’t be acting like THIS!”

The list of wrongs and offenses is indeed a heavy wrecking ball, capable of smashing a marriage in no time at all. (The antithesis is grace, love and forgiveness). So, if you want to wreck your marriage, keep the list in a mental file, have a hard copy that you carry in your wallet or purse, and make sure to make digital back-ups. A bonus back-up and great addition for the wrecking ball is to share your list with friends, your parents and the in-laws.

Woo-hoo! Now you’ve got some power. By now you’ve got the hang of it and are seeing that those lists can wreck all kinds of relationships with siblings, daughters, sons, moms and dads.

You’ll show ‘em! Keep enough lists and, by golly, you’ll be all alone in no time, no longer bothered by the past sins and offenses of others.

Playlist

I’ve given you Southern Gospel, Classic Rock, contemporary Christian and whatever genre “Afternoon Delight” falls under. Recently I’ve fallen in love with the sound of the Big Band/World War II era, and this just might be my new all-time favorite tune, recorded by the great Crooner himself, Bing Crosby (1944).

“I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Inspiration, Wedding countdown, World War II

The Wedding Countdown: 12, 11, 10 days …

kneeling-in-prayer-at-sunrise

The Wedding Countdown is getting serious now. We’re at 10 days, counting down to Saturday, Sept. 7. Our second daughter, Natasha, is giving us a second son-in-law, Kory. I look forward to sharing with you the details (and photos?) of next week’s rehearsal dinner preparation, which will star my smoked pork butts and pulled pork. I’m a charcoal-grill-only guy, and I get a special thrill out of the hours-long process of turning a hunk of pork into savory shredded goodness. And, oh, the burnt ends! Don’t get me started this early …

I’m also trying something completely new. Think “non-meat” item. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, we’re running down “How to wreck your marriage,” so let’s continue.

Wrecking ball No. 6: Don’t pray for your wife. I could have said “spouse” instead of “wife,” and that would be good, too, but the onus has been on the dude since the dawn of time, or at least the dawn that I embrace, being the creation account of Genesis.

(Program note: Stay with me here. You can embrace evolution, intelligent design, or any other possibility that you’re comfortable with. This bit of advice is sage for spiritual folks and deity-deniers alike).

Genesis. Follow Adam’s lead. When that crafty ol’ serpent tempted Eve, where was Adam? Off naming the animals? Figuring out that round rocks rolled better than square rocks? Hitting sticks and stones together, making sparks ignite? (Clever reference there to that 1976 mega hit “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band).

Oh, yeah. Adam. The truth is, he was standing right there next to his wife. Watching. Right there but absent.

Silent.

If you know the story, you know it got kind of rough after that – for all of us. For us guys, we’ve been trying to redeem manhood ever since. We work 80 hour weeks, start wars, compete on the athletic field, amass collections of cars and other toys in search of masculinity. And rather than get on our knees and connect with the Creator – Who, by the way, is waiting to shower grace on us, not toss lightning bolts at us – on behalf of our family and our wife, we’re prone to keep searching for what it means to be a man.

And that search often leads to the greatest crime of marriage: the accepting eye of another woman or the “harmless” pursuit of virtual partners in cyberspace.

The silence of Adam. Didn’t work so well for him. Not so good for us – and our wives – either. A lot of marriage wrecking balls inflict little dings and dents over time, eventually destroying the fickle bonds of “I do.” This wrecking ball – not praying for your wife – is insidious, too, and capable of inflicting damage little-by-little, but it’s also capable of toppling the marriage with one strong hit. When hubby shrinks away from the responsibility of speaking into the darkness and speaking light into the life of his wife, he embraces darkness. It might lead to a stubbed toe. Or instant destruction.

How can I wreck this marriage? Ignore my wife’s spiritual needs.

Done.

Playlist

Cool video here of Aerosmith’s “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” with scenes from “Armageddon” (Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis). Tyler’s movie dad, Willis, is on the screen she’s looking at during the tragic ending. But there’s another face on the screen in this video. See if you can figure out what I’m talking about.

3 Comments

Filed under Family, Inspiration, Old Time Religion, Wedding countdown

Kiss the bride: 11 days from the nuptials

We’re counting down the days until Natasha and Kory tie the knot. No one asked for my advice, but I haven’t let that stop me. I’m listing some of the best ways to wreck your marriage.

You’re welcome.

Fast-track to a wrecked marriage: fight like children.

Fast-track to a wrecked marriage: fight like children.

Wrecking ball No. 5: Life isn’t fair, but marriage should be. We deserve equal time. Wife has a girl’s night out, husband should get a guy’s night out. (Be sure to keep a list of times this equity is not achieved. We’ll revisit the idea in about a week with a wrecking ball named “Keep a list.”)

True story, told from a third party. Husband spends hours after work or on weekends cutting wood to earn extra money. It wasn’t uncommon for him to come home, hands calloused and stained with chainsaw oil and nostrils caked with chainsaw dust, to hear his wife announce: “You got be out in the woods with your chainsaw, so I get to go shopping with my friends.” Then she insisted that he do the dishes and clean up the kitchen.

True story, I swear.

Did the wrecking ball work?

Knocked ‘em off the cliff, so to speak. Divorce. It was a marriage full of wrecking balls, wielded carelessly by both parties.

Tie the fairness equation to money and you’ve got a ginormous wrecking ball. “You bought new tires for your truck, so I’m gonna buy myself some new shoes, a couple of purses, maybe have my hair done.” “I can choose to buy what I want because I make the money.” (Try that one for an instant wedge in your relationship. Then pound the wedge with more talk about fairness and equality, kind of the way two little kids might argue.

Playlist

You’ve heard the saying that it takes a big man to cry, and an even bigger man to laugh at that man.
Well, it takes an even bigger man to unashamedly admit that he still loves the message and harmony of Southern Gospel and the Gaither Vocal Band. Tonight’s playlist is a double-dose of grace from the old and new: Sinner Saved By Grace a la the GVB and Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns, featuring the piercing indictment, “Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing finger.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Wedding countdown

12 days and counting: Wedding day draws nigh

I've dabbled in origami for a couple of years now. My flowers will be among the décor at the Sept. 7 wedding of my youngest daughter, Natasha Jackson, to Kory Myrick.

I’ve dabbled in origami for a couple of years now. My flowers will be among the décor at the Sept. 7 wedding of my youngest daughter, Natasha Jackson, to Kory Myrick.

Flashback …

Kelly and I were married when we were still kids. I was two months away from my 19th birthday. We were too young. Got it.

But to have done it any differently? Would that mean no Kishia three years later? No Natasha two years after that? 30th anniversary before I was 50? There are things in my life I would have done differently, but nothing before the age of 40. (Except maybe that time my friend, Kenny, and I caught the railroad box car on fire. And maybe a few other things from those days.)

Does any couple truly understand what they’re getting into by getting hitched? No, but you can’t know. You can just know you’re supposed to and, ultimately, that decision is entered into and sealed by the couple. They are accountable to each other and God and — someday! — their children. (No pressure there, Kory and Tash, but this fella LOVES being a grandpa!)

Now let’s get on with the business of “How to wreck your marriage.”

Wrecking ball No. 4: Call 1-800-Mom-orDad.

You’ll see a lot of namby-pamby advice out there about making sure the groom has cut the umbilical cord to mom and that the bride steps away from being daddy’s shadow. Don’t believe it, because if your goal is to wreck your marriage — and this one is a slow, maybe even years-long process — involving the in-laws/parents inappropriately and not drawing clear boundaries about their efforts to steer your marriage and eventually raise your children for you is a no-brainer. (File away the “no-brainer” reference for a sec.)

How this wreck occurs is when bride and/or groom insist on using mom and/or dad to vent about the offending spouse. And this can happen very passively (another GREAT trait for marriage wreckage), as in bride/groom not actively complaining about the other to mom/dad, yet mom/dad might say, “Oh, you poor misunderstood boy/girl,” and the wedge drives a little deeper. Later, when the in-law mom/dad brings this up to the offending spouse, it will create great pain (a la “wreck”). And when offending spouse mentions that talking about her/him to your mom/dad was hurtful, you can blame your mom/dad (the in-laws – stay with me here), and apologize with, “I just wasn’t thinking.”

“I wasn’t thinking” is its own wrecking ball, at the ready for repeated use. Telling your spouse often enough that “I wasn’t thinking” will give him/her the clear signal that, in fact, you don’t think much about him/her. And when you defend mom/dad (instead of defending your spouse) by saying, “Oh, c’mon, mom/dad didn’t mean anything by it,” what you’re saying is that the in-laws don’t think much of or about him/her, either.

That’s a great way to wreck a marriage, and usually it’s a slow, methodical wreck. Might take years of practice. Give it a whirl!

This wrecking ball is basically spelled “F-A-M-I-L-Y,” because your new one will be messed up soon enough even without the deliberate or well-intended meddling of in-laws. But you want to be sure to remind your spouse that “our family has these special traditions at (insert name of holiday) that we always do.” There’s automatically a head-on crash, because both spouses can reference family traditions that are part of the fabric of their lives.

“Oh, honey, you’ll just love Uncle Merle. He’s the one with the hairy back. My family has played Twister with Uncle Merle every Christmas morning now for 83 years. He never wears a shirt. We love that silly goof-ball.”

“I was hoping we could spend Christmas with MY family. We do that thing every Christmas Eve and then eat deer organ meat and we all sleep on the floor together in the attic. I thought that after we got married you’d want to be with MY family. And what about Thanksgiving? I was thinking of having MY family here this year.”

It’s not just holidays when this thinking is popular. You can’t even begin to imagine all the wonderfully subtle ways this theme gets played out.

Keep feeding the “my family” theme that excludes your new spouse. Don’t for one second think of something as zany as starting your own family traditions, like instead of trying to keep track of who visited whom last Thanksgiving you do something silly like deciding that your family’s tradition — YOUR family, the two of you (and kids when they arrive) — will be to go to the Salvation Army to prepare and serve Thanksgiving to others as a demonstration of gratitude that your family — husband and wife and children — is incredibly blessed.

That would just be old-fashioned, kinda like that ancient Bible verse that says a man (not the woman) must leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Old-fashioned. (As if those old sayings even had merit way back then).

Playlist …

Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (and music video), simply one of the best songs ever.

2 Comments

Filed under Family, Wedding countdown

Counting down: 13 days until ‘I do …’

funny-wedding-quotes-drink

Thirteen days until I give the hand of my daughter, Natasha, to her prince, Kory Myrick.

Today I took Natasha to see “The Butler” (super, super movie, by the way), then an after-movie meal at Texas Roadhouse. There’s a part of my youngest daughter that will always be my little girl, but that’s not the first persona I see when I look across the table or watch her interact with kids, talk about her music students, or laugh with Kory. I see a strong woman who has been to Mexico, Cameroon, Fiji, and travels around the country, either as Christian musician or Christian minister, offering volunteer muscle to help clean up a part of New Orleans long after it was fashionable to love on people devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Strong woman. Daddy’s girl. Maybe that sounds like diametrically opposed roles, but I disagree. I’m not going to be first; haven’t been first for a long time already. But that’s what happens when little girls become strong women. And it requires a dad to have a strong heart, trusting his Father to look after his girl. On one hand I think Natasha is still too much like the little girl playing softball, rounding second, headed for third – and coming to a dead stop to examine a colorful butterfly. Back then, I shouted, “Run! Run! Run!” It was exasperating.

Back then, that experience reminded me that going safely from second to third wasn’t as important as enjoying the interruption in front of the shortstop. Even these days, as I still see my girl stopping to watch butterflies, it reminds me how desperately boring life would be without butterflies and those of us who take the time to see them up close.

Enough waxing poetic. Time to get on with the countdown of “How to wreck your marriage.”

Wrecking Ball No. 3 – You’re right.

No, really. You. Are. Right. So insist that your spouse recognize your brilliance, your need to not ask for or follow directions, and the ability to see Rule No. 1, “You are right,” even when you’re not. Of course, a spouse might simply mistake you for being an ass, and that’s absolutely true when you are definitely right and you use that as a weapon against a spouse who happened to be wrong. Very wrong, of course.

Yes, rub it in. And continue to insist on being right, and that being right is more important than being loving, gracious and forgiving.

What’s so great about this wrecking ball is that you can use it over, and over, and over, and again, and again, and again.

It eventually silences the voice that you’ll most need to hear. But go ahead. Be right.

Because, of course, you are.

PLAYLIST

Still stuck in 1978, here’s Lionel Richie and The Commodores with Three Times a Lady.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Wedding countdown

Wedding countdown, 14 days away: How to wreck your marriage

car wreck 1938

Wedding day, Saturday, Sept. 7, will feature a bevy of unique elements. For starters, I’m giving away the bride. On behalf of me and my bride of 11,403 days, I’ll present Natasha Jackson’s hand to Kory Myrick. Tomorrow night (Sunday) I’m taking Natasha, our youngest daughter to dinner and a movie, sort of a last father-daughter date before she becomes Mrs. Myrick.

It was really tough passing her off to her kindergarten teacher, so I’m expecting some emotions to well up, but I’m not reluctant. She will be Mrs. to my son-in-law, Kory, a solid man whom I’ve gotten to know pretty well in the last couple of months.

What else will be unique on Sept. 7? The wedding ceremony will include the couple serving communion to the attendees. The reception will have a candy bar (think salad bar, except it’s candy). And I’ve been a bit busy these past couple of weeks perfecting my origami skills to complement the decorations and to accommodate candy-eaters. Oh, and Natasha is baking about 100 cupcakes this weekend for the cupcake tree. If you know Natasha, you know that none of this seems odd. It seems so … Natasha.

Now let’s get on with the countdown theme of “How to wreck your marriage.”

Wrecking Ball No. 2 – Be a spectator of – not a participant in – your marriage.

This is great, because a spectator has no responsibility for the outcome of the game, except to jeer or curse at game officials – referees, umpires, etc. A spectator can leave at any time, arrive late, spend all his/her time doing anything other than actually watching the game. A spectator spouse is in prime position to complain about the problems and insist that someone (the other spouse, of course) do something to fix the problem. And when the problems aren’t fixed or glossed over, then it’s not your fault at all. Someone dropped the ball.

Spectators don’t drop balls. (Well, technically they can, but unless you’re a Chicago Cubs fan interfering with a ball in play, then it doesn’t matter).

Being a spectator leads to a plethora of additional wrecking balls. For instance, if you’re not invested as a participant, spending energy, time and attention with your partner battling life together, it’s much easier to let your mind and attention wander. The worst spectators – the fair-weather fans – shift allegiance and alliance to other teams without much enticement. Which team is really hot right now? Where’s the excitement?

Spectators are free to look elsewhere; participants are only looking for ways to tackle problems and enjoy successes together.

Being a spectator is about more than simply taking your spouse for granted. It’s also saying that your allegiance is directly related to his or her performance and success.

Spectators are not obligated to show grace. (Let’s go ahead and list “Don’t freely extend grace” as Wrecking Ball No. 3).

PLAYLIST

I promise not to make the wedding countdown playlist a haven for Southern Gospel or old hymns, although there’s an origami-related story there to tell. Later.

My favorite rock band ever, Styx (with Queen, Journey and Foreigner all a close second – I’m a child of the 70s, what can I say?) …

The Best of Times

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

15 days ’til wedding day

June 6 was a big day for my bride and me. (I’m pausing here, anticipating Kelly’s reaction: “How could you get our anniversary date wrong?”)

Oh I didn’t forget. June 5 was anniversary No. 31. Shocking as it is that an angelic girl had stuck around with me for 31 years, it dawned on me that the next day, June 6, was the first day of Year 32. Twenty-five was a big deal (we renewed our vows and I arrived at the church on horseback, wearing an ill-fitting knight’s helmet); 30 was unbelievable (see: 31); and with each new number, I’m even more puzzled about coming up with a different answer for, “How did you do it?”

My default response, the only one with any credibility, is simple: Ask Kelly.

As the calendar progresses toward the next day, month, year and lifetime of marriage, the days are also clicking down to another set of nuptials. Fifteen days from now (Aug. 23), Kory Myrick will make our youngest daughter, Natasha, his wife.

Here’s the head-over-heels-in-love couple.

kory-tash 082313

So you’d think I’d been busy dispensing marriage advice, right? Not really. The most input I’ve given is when Natasha laughs randomly and like a little girl about something, well, random or incomprehensible. That’s when I remind Kory, “You’re marrying her.”

No, instead of telling the husband-and-wife-to-be how it’s done, I’ll be giving 15 days worth of advice on “How to wreck your marriage.” (There’s some fancy word for using negative statements to bring about positive motivation, but I’m all out of fancy words for today).

I was already pondering this mini-series of marital caution when I ran across a blog called Single Dad Laughing. It’s (mostly) funny stuff. Entirely secular, I think, but considering that all classes and sects have 50 percent divorce rates – Christians and secular humanists alike – these are undoubtedly universal truths. The ugly truth, though, is that I’ve tried some of them to varying degrees, which is why I have such trouble answering, “How did you do it?”

Wrecking ball No. 1 – Don’t just keep secrets, but let your secrets have secrets, and those secrets have secrets, and so on. And make sure that many secrets have dollar signs, and make sure you connect all of them to your own insecurities and emotional wounds. That way, secret-keeping gets easier, because you can rationalize that exposing even the tiniest keepsie (that thing you could NEVER tell anyone, especially your wife) would be more damaging than maintaining deception and dishonor.

So, sure, keep secrets. Especially secrets about YOUR money. (We’ll revisit the your money/my money/anything-t0-do-with-money theme quite a bit over the next 15 days). Things will also begin to become markedly more faith-oriented as we go, so just a heads-up to my atheist/secular/humanist pals.

I’m also building a playlist for the couple. You can expect a eclectic, seemingly random list. I recently rediscovered how Avalon’s music speaks to me. Here’s “You Were There.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized