Monday, December 23, 2013

Do You Have a "Third World Romance"?

A few weeks ago, either after watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain or looking through the Samaritan's Purse "Gift Catalog," I remember asking my husband what married couples in third world countries do to "keep the romance." Obviously, many of these couples stay together through high rates of infant and childhood mortality, civil wars, famine, drought, and disease. They don't have money to always eat dinner, let alone have a date night.

Yes, this is a goat ornament. It's a picture of a goat that some of our friends bought, in our honor last Christmas, to give to a family living in Africa. 

The answer to my question is that these people likely have a very firm grasp of what it takes to make a marriage work. For, when you have very little earthly wealth, you tend to focus on what is truly important: Commitment. If you google "commitment," two definitions come up. Far too many people in America (and I'm guessing in most first world countries) view a marriage commitment, or at least have come to view it, as the second definition:
"an engagement or an obligation that restricts freedom."   
This view is often expressed in the media, which is one of the many reasons that I am glad we do not have TV. Husbands, for example, are depicted as depressed because they have to take their wives out for their anniversary instead of going to the game. Wives are depicted as unhappy because they "have to stay at home all day with the kids." In reality, though, we need to view a marriage commitment as the first definition:
"the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc." 
We are both dedicated to making this happen again some day!

--A marriage commitment implies loyalty and dedication even when you're tired, mad, sad, or otherwise unhappy. 

--A marriage commitment implies that there will be sacrifices on your behalf. 

--A marriage commitment implies work from both parties.

The above statements do not mean that you need to remain in an abusive situation. However, some women seem to think that they have been ill-used or mistreated when their husbands "don't speak the wives' specific love language." Now, should you have a discussion at some point about what you would like more of from your husband? Sure. If you like getting notes or gifts or calls during the day, tell him. (Notice I said "tell" and not "yell.") But let's think about this: You complain that he doesn't buy you flowers to show you that he loves you, but he does maintain a full-time job to help keep a roof over your head and food on your table? If that isn't love and concern for your well-being, I don't know what is.

Many people believe that a wedding anniversary, for example, is an occasion for the husband to "step up his game" and "romance his wife." These people flood us with ideas: He should take her out for a fancy dinner. He should buy her flowers and presents. He should surprise her with a trip to some exotic location. He should buy her a diamond this or that. The list goes on and on.

If you can afford to do that stuff, great.

I'm not saying that romantic gestures aren't nice. I'm not saying I don't like flowers or presents or romantic gifts (like dark chocolate!). But the greatest gift I get as a "bride" is my groom himself. I am just excited that I get to wake up every morning with my best friend by my side. I am so blessed by the fact that he works hard to provide for us, that he comes straight home after work because he enjoys being at home, that he doesn't come home and go to his "man cave" to ignore me. Apart from Christ, I cannot think of a greater gift than a faithful man of God to call my own. I cannot think of a greater gift than having someone beside me to laugh with, cry with, sing with, cook with, eat with, and go through difficult times with.

Today is our wedding anniversary, and I am so excited that we get to celebrate it together. We may not have the money to eat out. He may not be able to buy me fancy tokens of his affection. And I fully anticipate him being too tired, after working nine straight days, to make me dinner. But he is a good man, a good husband, a good protector, a good provider. Instead of worrying about something superficial, I am going to be celebrating what is real, what is wonderful, what is right in front of me.

Flowers fade and die, my friends, so that better not be where your commitment is.