Marriage Humor: When Cracking Jokes Becomes Waving Weapons

woman pointing gun marriage jokes

woman pointing gun

I hate “married people jokes.” You know, those ones that go like, “Men, the right answer is always ‘Yes, dear,’ ” or “Marriage is the only war where you sleep with the enemy.”

When my husband and I were engaged, I remember occasionally hearing one of those silly jokes and despising the words from the bottom of my heart. I wanted to be with my man so badly, and here were all these other couples, totally taking their relationship for granted! It felt like a slap in the face.

But you know what? I have recently caught myself either on the verge of letting one of these wisecracks cross my lips, or even worse, tossing one out. How did this happen?

It’s simple. In that moment, I’m taking my relationship for granted.

Now, why is this a big deal? It’s because although there is definitely humor in marriage, most of these kinds of jokes seem to be aimed at the relationship itself. These supposedly harmless one-liners seem to spring from discontented hearts, or an attitude of giving up on understanding one’s spouse. Instead of seeking to appreciate each other’s differences or become better at understanding how the other thinks, these words subconsciously condition us to believe that there’s no hope in ever making heads or tails of our spouse’s mental processes.

All this is just another insidious tactic of the daily, silent spiritual warfare we’re in. It’s a powerful, subtle assault on the oneness and unity of a husband and wife. If Satan can convince us that any part of our marriage is “hopeless,” then he has an edge, a foot in the door, no matter how small. He will take that leverage and use it against you to grow hopelessness in any other part of your marriage that he can. {And if you think this kind of thing is blown way out of proportion…you may have already fallen prey to blindness.}

Often, these “innocent jokes” take a swing at Biblical masculinity {my husband wrote a fantastic piece on this recently}, or the responsibility of husbands to lead their wives and families. Undermining men and the way God designed them socially/mentally/emotionally seems to be a favorite pastime of entertainment in our culture, and you know what? It’s straight from hell. As for us women? Well, we know how to do it all so much better than our men. You listen, and that’s a big part of these little funnies. We should be doing everything in our power to combat these lies.

What does Proverbs say? A wise woman builds her house. She does her husband good all the time. He can trust safely in her. If I’m making jokes that don’t build my husband up, don’t promote my husband’s good, or cause him to feel “safe” with me, then not only am I potentially causing harm to my marriage…I really am disobeying God.

Sobering stuff.

So, I’ve been thinking about this. And I’ve come up with three things that I can do to fight back when one of these jokes cross my path. Because, really, this isn’t about comic strips and a giggle here and there…this life is a War, and words are one of our weapons. {Read James 3, some time.} The Enemy is a master saboteur. Allow him to sabotage my marriage through words, and that’s a victory for him. I don’t want any part of helping him. Here are the three tactics I’m using to fight back:

 

1. Speak Up

I want to draw attention to the fact that, no, this little joke that pokes fun at a husband’s intelligence or a wife’s bad attitude is not okay. Depending on the situation, it may not be appropriate to vocalize the truth right then. But when I’m alone with my husband, I can tell him, “Hey, I heard what was said by that person, and I don’t buy it. We’re different, we’re not going to become part of that culture, and I want you to know that I’m in our corner on this.”

This is also going to be so important as Jungle Baby gets older. He’s going to hear things about marriage, and wonder why people think it’s funny, and I’m going to strive to teach him that, actually, we’re not laughing and God says marriage is better than that.

2. Build up

I want to use my words to respect my husband and the man he is, as well as let him and others know that I appreciate our marriage. So when I hear a “married people joke” gun go off, I’m going to fire back. {Again, situational appropriateness is important. But don’t forget that your relationship with your husband is the MOST important.} So simple things like, “Babe, I appreciate the man you are. I see how you work hard to try to lead our family,” make a big impact.

Be forewarned. There will always be a million reasons to not say it, or even just to put it off​ till later. Don’t let yourself procrastinate. There is no “wrong way” to build your husband up! “Just do it!” {Seriously, why should Nike beat us out on having the answer?!} I literally made myself stop while I was writing this, and go tell my husband that I appreciate him and how he doesn’t give up on me. It was something he deserved to hear, believe me…but I had to make myself do it, and I believe that this is because building others up goes against our grain. It’s so much easier to tear down…hence why jokes are a lot easier to toss out than sincere compliments.  

3. ‘Fess up

{cringe} This might be the hard one. If I allow one of these jokes to come from my corner, well, I need to acknowledge that it wasn’t a good thing to say, and maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut. I need to say that I’m sorry and ask for forgiveness. So simple, but so important.

Ahem. Confession time. I had to do this with my husband, just recently. We were with some good friends, I was in a teasing mood, and I in essence “complimented” a wife on how well she had “taught” her husband to say the right things. I did this in front of both of our husbands. Ouch. As soon as I had said it, I realized that it was a dumb thing to say. Why? Even though it was in good-natured fun, I was, in essence, promoting a worldview that says “husbands are stupid, wives have all the answers, and women have to “train” their men.” Not my beliefs, thank you. So, after ruminating on the episode for a while, I asked my husband to forgive me, and explained to him that I didn’t want to foster that kind of attitude in our marriage, or with our friends. He had hardly noticed the incident, but agreed with the fact that our marriage is worth protecting, even in the little things, like silly jokes.

 

So, that’s my plan. Just for the record, this is not about attacking other Christians who make these jokes. Some people, of course, do it innocently. But I believe that our marriages are valuable enough to care for in the smallest details. They are important enough to fight for, on any level.

Your turn. How do you seek to protect and nurture your marriage, even in the little things? And honestly, nothing is “too little.” Share in the comments!

Personalities in Love – Book Review

I heard about this book on a blog I follow, and was intrigued. I ordered a used copy on Amazon for under $5. My husband and I read it together, over the course of several long car rides, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Donna Partow’s style is highly entertaining, and we shared some good laughs over her hysterical anecdotes and brassy turn-of-phrase. It also opened up some deep discussions between us, and we often refer back to what we have learned, many times in a week.

“Personalities in Love: Understanding Yourself and the Man in Your Life” focuses on how the male and female versions of each of the four basic personality types interact with one another, as well as giving practical relationship advice throughout. I would recommend it to both married and single women {especially the first of the three sections}, since an understanding of your own personality will be of benefit no matter what stage of life you are in.

In the first section, the origin of the four general personality categories is covered briefly, and then you get to take an adjective-based personality test to determine which personality is more dominant in you. This was really fun for my husband and I. {Hint: there is an appendix with definitions for each adjective in the back of the book, and you DO want to use it–some of our answers changed after we read the definitions.} The original personality categories have been renamed by many authors, and Donna Partow has her own set of titles: Popular, Powerful, Perfect, and Peaceful. We learned from the test that David is generally a “Peaceful,” but is actually a good mix of all four personality types. I am mostly a “Perfect” woman. {If you are now picturing Mary Poppins smiling serenely as she tells her charges that she measures to “Practically Perfect, in every way,” please know that I did too, and laughed.}

In the rest of section one, we are introduced to each of the feminine personalities. A picture is painted of each personality in its purest form {wow, that was a lot of “p’s”}, and the strengths are identified and the weaknesses uncovered. I swallowed hard when I went through the list and description of all my weaknesses, as most were spot-on rather convicting. A section on “How to Make the Most of Your Personality Type” closed out each chapter, and honestly, it made the whole book worthwhile. These portions are very focused on seeking the power of God in order to truly flourish in your temperament, and, especially following the sections on weakness, were extremely encouraging! The book would sorely lack without this constructive advice.

Section the Second acquaints us with the man version of each personality, along with his strengths and weaknesses. There are plenty of real-life stories sprinkled throughout in order to illustrate the different facets of each personality, and they were both entertaining and informative. I think my favorite part about this section, however, was the “What Your Man Needs From You” portion at the end of each chapter. Since the author is writing to women, she is focusing on understanding how a woman’s personality relates to her husband’s, as well as being sensitive to the specific needs her husband has, due to his own personality. I really appreciated the fact that it wasn’t all just theory {Partow promised that it wouldn’t be, in her first chapter}, but I was provided with very down-to-earth applications and specific ways to encourage my husband.

In the third and final section, each of the possible relationships that can result from mixing the eight personality types is considered, as well as the relationship difficulties different couples can expect–yet overcome. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.

Okay, personal note. I realized something, as I read through the book with my husband. Although all people are usually a blend of personalities, with one personality dominating, I think that as a Christian grows in their walk with Christ, allowing themselves to be changed, the Holy Spirit actually adds some of the strengths that normally fall to other personality types, and overrides some of the natural weaknesses. {Hint: “weaknesses” of a personality type are simply the types of sin that that person is naturally prone to.} David is an amazing example to me of what can happen when a person yields themselves to God…his test revealed that he is quite balanced in his blend of personalities. We know that this isn’t “natural,” because personality type manifests itself in childhood behavior, and he would have been mostly “Powerful” as a child. So deliberate choices in his life to yield his habits/actions/words/inclinations to the authority of God have resulted in him becoming a very well-rounded individual, with many strengths to offer. Romans 12:1-2 in action!

The overall tone of the book is cheerful and optimistic. Partow is forthright, but friendly. She’s very transparent about her own struggles, and honest about the weaknesses we all have. Whereas a secular writer would turn to self-help or a therapy approach when dealing with the personality weaknesses, Partow recognizes the need for the Holy Spirit’s power to triumph over them.

Regarding further resources on this subject, Partow often references the authors Dr. Tim LaHaye {The Spirit-Controlled Temperament} and Florence Littauer {Personality Plus} throughout the book, citing their work as part of what she has built upon to create “Personalities in Love.” I have not yet read either of those titles, but I have read The Spirit-Controlled Woman by Beverly LaHaye, and although certainly a useful book, I found it a bit dry. Partow’s Personalities was definitely more “fun,” but not necessarily what someone looking for a scholarly work would be seeking. It’s not as detailed or extensive as the Myers-Briggs personality classification system, however it was written with the busy woman in mind, and is a light-hearted, quick read. It is ideal for someone starting out in personality studies, anyone who desires a Christian perspective on the general subject, and those who want a frolicsome refresher coupled with solid advice for appreciating how you and your man fit together.

Wild At Heart – Book Review

 

I picked up this gem at a thrift store for a buck fifty.  I figured, when I saw the volume’s subtitle, “Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul,” that with a husband to love and a son to raise, I didn’t have much to lose. After reading the first chapter earlier in the week during a few spare moment, I read the entire rest of it yesterday. I could not put it down! Fascinating, stirring, and sorely needed are a few words of description I can ascribe to its content. I was actually quite unprepared for the wealth of knowledge I found, as well as the realization of how little I actually know about the way men think and what their God-given driving forces are. I’ve been blessed with a husband who is willing and pleased to communicate with me. When I ask him questions about what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling, he tells me. But I hadn’t realized that I was still hearing all that he was saying through my feminine perspective. This book helped me recognize that fact, and gave me a better appreciation for the ways God created my husband differently than me.

{A few important disclaimers! Firstly,  I read the original version, published in 2001. It has since been revised, and I have no idea what the revisions cover. Secondly, I DO NOT recommend this book for ladies who are not married, as it can be very explicit at times. And thirdly and finally, I recommend this book, but cannot endorse most of the movies/lyrics/authors referenced therein. Okay, there. Disclaimers ended.}

Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge, is about the journey of masculinity that every male embarks upon. This is a book about men, for men, by a man. But it’s also written with the understanding that the women in their life will read it. Original design, spiritual warfare, and revival truth are all part of the picture. It’s about identity, love, and all the big questions in life. And even though it is directed specifically towards men, I found that much of Eldredge’s writings applied to me, simply because I’m a human being, and a follower of Christ.

Eldredge tells us that every man desires three things that are an inherent part of his God-given nature: an adventure to live, a battle to fight, and a beauty to rescue. I took away from this book a better understanding of the adventure, battle, and beauty that my husband needs [and that my son will someday need], and my role to play in it all. Much of Eldredge’s insight are based on the Creation account in the Book Genesis. I found it fascinating that so many clues to the most basic, yet different, needs of men and women are laid out right in there in the first chapters of the Bible.

I was especially challenged regarding the mother-son relationship. I now know better to prepare for, and be on the lookout for, the day Jungle Baby needs his freedom–specifically, freedom from me. {Brace yourselves, ladies, this part, especially written in its blunt male style, may be a hard one to read. But is it serious advice to heed, if you want to really let your son be the man he was created to be.} Eldredge declares that a mother who does not “allow her son to become dangerous…will emasculate him.” I’ve always had a desire for my son to become “manly”. But defining it as “dangerous” takes it to a new level of reality. For, as the author so clearly outlines, this life is a War, and if you don’t look at it that way, you’re already losing the battle.

Speaking of battles, I think my favorite chapters were the two focused specifically on spiritual warfare. Men’s battles are in the spotlight, of course, but the spiritual strategies needed to fight these battles apply to every Christian. For instance, regarding Romans 7 and the battle against sin, Eldredge says:

“You are not your sin; sin is no longer the truest thing about the man who has come into union with Jesus. Your heart is good. …The Big Lie in the church today is that you are nothing more than “a sinner saved by grace.” You are a lot more than that. You are a new creation in Christ.”

There is an incredible freedom in this truth that so many in our churches are missing! {By the way, I read this paragraph a mere 48 hours after hearing a sermon on the exact same thing. You can download the message I heard here, from mediafire: Radical New Realities.}

Wild At Heart was obviously very different than books authored by women–as it ought to be. To be honest, I enjoyed the different literary “taste.” It was raw, yes, but also refreshing. A nice change of pace in writing style, as women’s books usually are a bit more…I don’t know, chatty? Although that can be enjoyable, it also can make them harder to follow. Eldredge’s message was a clear flow of ideas, progressing like a soldier marching towards his military objective.

I took away a LOT of questions to ask my husband. In fact, I used a pen, highlighter, and sticky notes, and listed topics that I wanted extra clarification on at the end of each chapter. Be prepared to let the book be a merely a springboard for studying your man’s deeper waters.

Though I don’t agree with Eldredge on every theological point that arises, he tackles some of the most fundamental and, sadly, overlooked aspects of a believer’s relationship with Christ, laying them out in a clear, concise, and motivating manner. Obviously, part of having a right relationship with Jesus is seeking to have right relationships with those in our families. I highly recommend this book for every wife and mother who wants to truly learn about and love the men in her life!