Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Economy and Dancing with Dale

Men and women are facing the economic recession differently. Where men are hurting, women are finding their jobs holding, opportunities expanding. Last week, The Boston Globe's Robert Gavin wrote that the recession is predominately male (see "Losing Jobs in Inequal Numbers"). The job lost might be white or blue collar. Over 1 million men have lost their jobs, but 12,000 more women are working.

As a woman who loves her brothers, her fathers, her sons in the body of Christ I want to do something with this knowledge.

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. In honor of him and the many men we love beyond their ability to provide money for us, I want to focus on something unique about men. I want to show the way men provide themselves to us. I want to spotlight the way one man has given the best gift to me, a gift that is distinct from providing money, the gift of himself.

We've been married nearly 7 years, Dale and I. I've been regularly dazzled by the depth of this man, who he is, how he shapes me, how he is taught and changed by me, how love twines our lives together.

And love helps me both know and receive Dale for who he is, not what I long for him to be. I mean, the same guy I wake up next to, the man who travels and speaks alongside me, is the man who fails, listens, grumbles, creates, argues and loves me. Can I receive his gifts to me, the gifts that have much more to do with Dale's soul and body working in love than they have to do with money . . . .

Take our non-profit, Soulation. Dale runs almost everything. He is our accountant, travel-agent, resident researcher, sound technician (until recently he edited all our talks), video operator, web-technician, he updates our calendar, our new biographies, our pictures, he files for our non-profit status, he navigates the IRS law to ensure we're both writing off all true tax-deductible receipts, he writes all the code for our website (he'd say he's just a great copy-paster, but I know he has to hunt up that code somewhere and find the beginning and end--no small task for a novice and then integrate it into our Soulation site).

Dale intentionally invited me to do Soulation with him, wanting to share the spotlight with me on the stage, allowing his airtime to be cut in half because he believes in partnership on the road. This gift is beyond the diamond in my engagement ring.

In our home, I watch Dale keep spaces clear because he knows how clutter plagues my creativity. He shares in the task of walking our brood of corgis, the Ladies. He cleans alongside me, he researches and fixes items around the house, and keeps up on new projects. This gift is more than a cruise to the Mediterranean.

Take our friendships. Dale is an amazing conversationalist. I have a litmus test that if you cannot get along with my husband, you can't get along with anyone. He is full of grace and understanding, he knows how to listen, well. This gift means we can enter a room as a couple and find friends swiftly and pleasantly. This gift means more to me than a pair of deliciously sexy shoes.

In our marriage, I can trust that Dale really knows me, my interests and he knows how to add them to his own. He has watched and really liked the classics I keep adding to our Netflix list, he will switch plans last minute to go to a

restaurant I'd prefer. He consults me about absolutely everything, not that we always agree, but we always discuss it. Dale refuses to be less of himself in our argument, like when we talk about how I want to have children and he believes we must wait for the sake of helping care for souls in this world. I feel known by my husband, known and understood and this is why I can find deep satisfaction in what I do and who I am loved by, even here on the eve of the 1st anniversary of losing our baby.

I have a marriage where more has happened, more doors have been opened for me than I could have ever dreamed up.... and to think I almost married someone else.

Dale's only real fault is that he won't dance with me in public. And we go round and round about it. How I wonder if in my aging years, if God takes him from me, will I be one of those elderly women who sign-up for the community dance class, where I will be matched up with a young, pimply college student trying to earn some extra bucks teaching old ladies how to dance. Will my dancing debut find me with knees cracking and my figure sagging.

I've told Dale about my wonderings. And it troubles him every time we pass a senior citizen center that offers dance classes. He doesn't like the picture.

But, I tell him, you're the only thing keeping me from learning to dance now. And I roll him one of my insistent, pleading looks. He sits unhappily, unbudgingly.

And I sigh, dramatically. But soon lean over and kiss him on the cheek.

I really do think he is the world's best man.

This Christmas I want to learn to see our sparring matches about everything that matters to us, about philosophy and religion, about emotional health and investing, about designing our Retreat Center and Soulation and corgis as our dance.

Soul dancing with Dale...

As Christmas draws near, let me play the herald's role and sound the clarion call to women everywhere to honor the partners God has given them, to measure a man's success, not by his job, or by how well he meets our expectations, but to measure the man by his soul. May this recession help us accept the gift of the men who love us.


Tina Marie said...

Jonalyn, thank you so much for sharing your reflection. Paul and I have been so blessed to have couples like you and Dale to look up to. Thanks to you both for living out your love for each other unashamedly and with such intention. Merry Christmas and Advent Blessings!

Myowne said...

I am not married, and sometimes I wonder if I ever will be. I am 31 and wish for a man to love me like your Dale clearly loves you. I just want to say I thank God for marriages like yours. All we ever really hear about nowadays is how marriages are breaking up and divorce is rampant in the Body of Christ. But I appreciate knowing that there are couples like you and Dale that are demolishing that curse with every day that you love each other more, for the right reasons. Thank you.

Jennifer said...

What a beautiful tribute to your husband! It is truly amazing how God brings people together to complete each other and also to learn what it means to love sacrificially.

God Bless!

Tasha said...

Aww! This was amazing! Like Myowne said, it is nice to hear of couples who actually like each other, let alone love each other.
Thank you

Catherine Illian said...


well spoken wisdom. Thanks for sharing. It helps me get to know Dale better---
he is quite a man--
When we went to marriage counseling our counselor said something that has stuck with me-- every marriage has their "achilles heel" That part of relationship that is hard or difficult about loving the other person. He said some people focus on that
"Achilles heel" and others learn to gracefully live with it-- if your "achilles heel" is that he doesn't like dancing in public-- that isn't too bad.. but if I do remember correctly-- you do know how do dance-- Have you considered private dancing lessons for the two of you? Or does that count for dancing in public? just wondering....

Jonalyn Fincher said...


I love how you put it "demolishing that curse" that is a worthy work for both our lives.. whether married or unmarried. God give you grace to lead your un-distracted life during this season (I Cor 7:34).

Thank you for writing!

Anonymous said...

I'll drink to that--to him, to you. Merry Christmas! :)


Kristie Vosper said...

I LOVE this post. I think it is so deeply beautiful. I will direct many to read it. :)

Thanks for your comment on my post. I think your book is wonderful...a treasure. Thank you for writing it.

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Merry Christmas to you, too!

In the wintry world (we're currently looking at 2 feet of snow on our balcony banister) and no sun showing here in Steamboat, your comment today was my gleam of sunshine.

Thank you for your encouragement!

Philip said...

Two things Dale and I have in common: I am an excellent "copy-and-paster" and I rarely to never dance with savannah in public (sometimes in the kitchen while we cook... if she's caught me in a really good mood). Besides that, he seems like a step above myself and many others. Cheers to your great marriage!

Kathyblck said... BEAUTIFUL!

A potent reminder for someone that's been married for 31 years!

Cara Nilsen said...

Hi Jonalyn,
I saw this article and remembered your earlier article about how the economic downturn was affecting men. Here's the link:
Do you think there's been a change in the economy? Or are these differing interpretations to what's happening?

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Hi Cara,
Glad you pointed this out. I do think the economy began by hurting the while collar jobs, where men dominate. Now the trickle down affect means that those who work in part-time, lower pay jobs (often where women and minorities dominate) are now feeling the pain of tighter budgets and less resources.

As the stock market continues to dip, so many industries are affected, and as instability becomes the norm I think that many of the jobs women usually hold become less necessary (for instance women are the main professional daycare workers, but childcare becomes less necessary when one parent is out of work, or the money made from the 2 parent's salaries cannot cover the childcare costs).

One encouraging thing is that less money means women (and men) have to get more creative. I've seen some beautiful examples of bartering and trading going on even in my community. I give piano lessons, my friend provides me with a home cooked meal.

Anonymous said...

Why is this post labeled 'anti-feminism'?

Jonalyn Fincher said...

Great question. This may sound confusing, but I'll try to explain.

I believe that most Christians assume that feminism is a man-hating enterprise, so I tagged this blog to give them a chance to read one of my posts that was more "pro-man"

I do not, however, think that all feminists are anti-male, though some secular feminists, are. Perhaps the tag would read more accurately as "anti-man-hating feminism"


Lindsey said...

Jonalyn, I love this! Now that I have had the privilege of meeting you both, I can vouch for the vibrancy of your dance together. Thank you for these words that so honor your husband, and for the example of how the fullness of one lends such reflected glory to the other. You give me such hope!

Jonalyn Fincher said...


Thank you for your vote of support and appreciation!