Many clients over the years have commented to me that my blog on Living as Roommates was really creepy, like I had been observing from their living room. How did I know that stuff? Keep in mind I listen for a living and thousands of individuals and couples have told me about their relationships. Some of them had horrendous problems and were able to figure out how to get out of the quagmire. I’d ask them “How did you do that?” Or, “What worked?” Others of them got further and further into the pit and I’d ask them how they got to that point? Or they would just tell me. Meanwhile, I’m taking very good notes. I’d sock away their observations and over time I’ve learned a thing or two about marriage.
If you watched my video about my storage unit and the thousands of client files I have stored, you may note I didn’t say a whole lot. The following is what I wrote ahead of time that’s I’d hoped to share during the video. It’s not bad. I wish I would have said it! So here’s my running commentary after the fact:
Here we are where I keep my thousands of files and notes from couples and individuals who told me about their lives and relationships. There are 13 file cabinets here with 4 drawers each leaving 52 drawers. There are room for about 100 client files in each drawer. It’s not quite full yet, but that’d be over 5000 files. Note that Carol Putz has worked with me 18 years and her files are in here, too. We’d see around 200 different couples and individuals a year so in the twenty years I’ve been on Lincoln Way in Ames and the 19 years I’ve been on 86th Street in Urbandale, Iowa. Lots of people. Lots of stories. Lots of lessons people did or didn’t learn.
In this envelope I have the different keys to the various file cabinets. I’m going to pick out three keys randomly out of this envelope and then open that particular cabinet and you can see the many file folders that are in the drawers.
(While opening three drawers and showing the contents): You’ll note my comment on quotes today is from Solomon’s statement in Proverbs that “it is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search them out.” I’m certainly not a king, but Proverbs is full of principles and if the principle is that it’s the glory of kings to discover God’s mysteries, then for us common folk it would be for our glory to also figure things out in whatever little corner of the world we find ourselves. My little corner is working with adults and couples about their relationships. They’ve told me thousands of stories. Some of them are stories of victory. Some of them are stories of defeat. I think about these stories. I put two and two together. I come as a learner. I discover patterns and principles and things that work and don’t work.
In addition to this Solomon says in Ecclesiastes “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might” (See Ecclesiastes 9:10a). Over the years I’ve worked hard to figure things out. I’m not good at everything. But I’m good at this. I thank my clients for sharing their stories with me. I count it a privilege.
If I’m going to do something with all my might I’d want to do it around a topic I’m good at and and what am I the best at in my life? What is the best thing? My greatest success in life is my marriage and my wife of well over forty years: Mary Sue, and our relationship and love for each other. She’s taught me some great insights. She’s literally kept me alive! And the laughs? Not to mention four fun and delightful children and wonderful daughter-in-law and five, filled-with-life, grandchildren.
It’s not easy to figure this stuff out sometimes. There’s pieces of this puzzle I still haven’t sorted out. In another place in Proverbs it says that “The way of a man with a maiden” is one of the world’s great mysteries (See Proverbs 30:18-19). The fact that it’s a mystery is one of things that keeps my interest. Likewise it’s one of the reasons you might be in a quandary and not be sure quite what to do.
Oh, and having a Ph.D. in the field probably doesn’t hurt either and you put these all together and over time I’ve been able to learn a thing or two about what ruins relationships and what makes marriages work.
I’d be happy to share these things with you.