“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” -Ferris Bueller
“He who loves his wife loves Himself.” -The Apostle Paul
There was a house in Dallas, and for a season it mattered. From that house a pastor ministered to a flock of aging Lutherans with much grace. There came a day they hosted a very unique marriage conference. All the husbands were at one venue, while all the women went to another. Two well renowned speakers were lined up to share a word. A wise woman would encourage the women, while a veteran of many arguments would advise the men on being husbands. Pretty standard fare for marriage conferences. But our pastor made a move at the eleventh hour that still ruminates to this day. When his speakers arrived, he switched their destinations. He sent Mr. Man to the ladies, and Mrs. Lady he sent to the fellas.
Lutheran Pastor told each speaker to give them one insight. One cutting and blinding truth to help them to have happy homes. It is easy to know what Mr. Man told the ladies. But what do you tell the fellas? What would Mrs. Lady share as her most important piece of council for every married man in that hall?
She spoke, and I have never forgotten what she said.
“Husbands. Every Sunday before your week begins, sit down with your wife. Get out your calendars and let her know what the week looks like. Go over the schedule. Get on the same page. And whatever the calendar says, live by it.”
That’s it. She told all these married man to compare calendars. To talk about what the upcoming week held. As a 20 year old know-it-all, I found the advice odd. It’s probably why I remembered it. It’s not what I expected.
Fast forward to 2019. I am 38 years old, and have been married for 16 wonderful years. A disagreement breaks out about who’s going where and when.
I say, “Babe, I didn’t know I was supposed to be a part of this.”
She drops the bomb. “It has been on my list for weeks, but we never get to it.”
List? It’s been on The List?! I had a list once. It was of the people on the planet that I didn’t like (there were three names on it). Lists are formal. Lists are thought out and intentional. Lists have a purpose. And apparently there was some list out there that had stuff on it waiting for my input, and I didn’t even know it.
Turns out, the List is about the future. There are questions about dentists, piano lessons, vacations, new curtains… just stuff that needs a little time and agreement. And it is not just some mental thing. No. This list is written down on paper with quite nice handwriting. There are some bigger issues on The List. Like our next step on our Foster Parenting journey. They demand time and attention. They need space to be engaged.
And I realized, Mrs. Lady was right. At night, after we put the kids to bed, it is easy to sit down on the couch, watch the Nightly News and an episode of Father Brown before heading to blissful rest. It’s together time. We sit there side by side, sweetly connected. But the TV is all consuming. There has to be time for talking and dreaming and communicating. We need to debrief and reset for the week ahead. We need to compare lists and calendars and expectations so that we don’t end up at a formal event wearing jeans…. again.
So… she has a List. Before the TV turns on. Before I head to the office to pay bills or work on some hobby, I ask the question. “Anything on The List you want to talk about?” Also, there is this gem. “Babe, here is how the next week looks.” And I tell you what. It is something special.