Gratitude and Marriage

“When couples struggle, it is seldom over who does what. Far more often, it is over the giving and receiving of gratitude. The struggle for marriage in the contemporary context is the struggle to cultivate gratitude between men and women.” – Arlie Hoschild, The Second Shift

Gratitude grows out attention, appreciation, and humility. Acknowledging the importance of the Other. Taking time to notice what they do, the little things, the tiny ordinary graces. These are the soil of a fertile marriage. My greatest Achilles heel is that I get spun up in cloud of activities and distractions so that I fail to stop and notice, pay attention to little things, and appreciate. Prayer in my life needs to serve that function – slowing down, paying attention, appreciation.

Along those lines, reading Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson has been a prayerful experience. It has done wonders in that it has connected my left brained engineering side to my sense of wonder at the ordinary stuff of domestic life. It makes me want to go home at lunch and hug my wife, air the bed, dust under the couch, and read care labels. I read along this morning in gape-mouthed fascination at the unlocked mysteries of such things as dusting, ironing, and folding laundry. It made me want to go home and try my hand at folding a fitted sheet.

Reading all this was pretty overwhelming. Any manual pf proper care sets a standard that the limits of life, time, and space make it impossible to measure up to. But reading Home Comforts so far has mostly been an exercise in increasing my attention, appreciation, and humility about things domestic. And gratitude for the wonder that is my wife.

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