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Top 10 Sure-Fire Argument Starters in a Marriage

Another Way for week of September 14, 2018

Top 10 Sure-Fire Argument Starters in a Marriage

Our neighbors Harold and Willie, on their 70th anniversary.

We recently were privileged to celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary of our neighbors with a nice dinner out. What a milestone!

While it is great to focus on the love and beautiful times that help a couple grow their marriage for 70 years, I know that any couple which has been married 30, 40 or more years, have survived their share of arguments. If pushed, most of us would probably be able to name some sure-fire argument starters as a couple.

I posed that question recently on Facebook and I was not disappointed. I’ve changed almost all names here to protect the innocent (and maybe save an argument), but preserved the spontaneous wording of their Facebook posts:

1.     Money. Pamela was first up with a one-word response, “Money.” Nedra and several others named this also and Peter just posted a $. Daisy added a quote she’s heard, probably more than once: “You spent HOW much on WHAT??”

2.     In-laws or parents. Georgia posted five words: “You’re just like your mother.” Dan gave two twists on that: “This isn’t as good as my mother’s” and “That’s not the way Dad did it.” Lacey was totally in this camp with “My mom didn’t do it (whatever it may be) that way.”

3.     Chores. Rhonda named a big one for many of us: “Housework that isn’t getting done.” Sharon listed “Leaving ice cream/snack dishes in the sink overnight.” At that I was going “Uh, that would just make me happy the dishes got into the sink instead of staying on the counter, table, or coffee table.” Martha said this line starts arguments at her house: “I’m so glad you retired so you can finally get my Honey-Do list done”!!

4.     The “You always” or “You never” arguments. We all know it’s bad to start a conversation that way, but they slip out. David put it this way: “Anything not complimentary beginning with “You” or “You always…” Lucy said “Any use of you, always, never.”

5.     Disrespect. A number of “top arguments” fall into this category such as Pam’s lament, “Being ‘corrected’ in front of our boys.” Patty said “Speaking ill of any of your spouse’s family of origin” or, “commenting on how the other is driving!” Loretta put two words together that cause arguments in their marriage of over 40 years, “Being disrespectful or dismissive.” Any familiar territory here?

My romantic father and mother on my wedding day, flower boy Bob photobombing.

6.     Intimacy. One woman just put this painful argument out there: sex. A husband framed it, “When a spouse/partner wants ‘special’ attention, and the other one just isn’t interested or is really tired at the moment.” ‘Nuff said.

7.     Times you should be getting along great but it’s stressful. Jill wrote “Packing for a vacation with the kids.” Lucy said “Setting up the Christmas tree” and another couple dittoed that with “That was one of ours, too.”

8.     Cleaning the basement or garage. I can’t believe no one else posted this, but it is one of our worst ways to always, always, pick at each other.

9.     Hangry. Haven’t heard of that? I’ll give credit to the real gal, Gina for introducing me to this word meaning “Anger caused by hunger. In our vows I promised to try not to boil in, or discuss my anger with my husband until I’d eaten to make sure I was actually angry at something! Funny how much a granola bar can change your outlook on life!” We’ll remember that, Gina.

10.  Politics. Only one person offered this one, but everyone may be like me and my husband, generally avoiding the topic so it doesn’t get us mad.

It’s comforting to know that others are also very human and that we’re not alone in the skirmishes in a relationship. Next week we’ll look at what we can learn from this list, and how to preserve the good stuff!


Send stories or ask for my free booklet, “Secrets of Long Marriage.” Write to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  


The World of Work

Another Way for week of September 7, 2018

The World of Work

If you’re employed, Labor Day is basically just the last of summer’s three paid holidays, nicely spread out.

I got to thinking seriously about our national labor force as the manager at a box store sat entering the details of my custom blinds order. The manager—the top dog at Home Depot was doing this mundane detailed work that an employee should have been doing. Meanwhile as he waited for the computer to spin he was fielding calls from all over his store: so and so called in absent; what should I do about such and such cash register? The accommodating young man who had tried to wait on me had also called the manager to help because he didn’t yet know the particulars of ordering.

The manager completed the deep detail parts of my order before turning the transaction back to the young man to handle the more routine parts. I told the manager sympathetically, “You need more help here.”

He responded with a grimace, “No, what I need is for the people we have hired to come to work!”

I hear things like this all the time about how today’s younger workers don’t have the work ethic of their parents or grandparents. I hate to paint generations with too broad of brush and usually give people a generous benefit, doubting the factual nature of such statements. But some quick true stories:

  • The warehouse my husband retired from after working 30 years used to be considered a great place to work with deep appreciation for employees, expressed through bonus plans and awards, elaborate and fun company picnics, trips and great Christmas parties. Now all those perks are gone, partly because of hard times. The company now has trouble keeping people; temps are hired and they leave just as quickly.
  • A 70-year-old man was lying on the floor in our kitchen when I got home from work the other week. He was installing a new motor in our older model refrigerator, which he said would last much longer than any fridge we could buy today in a typical big box store. He has spent his life lying on kitchen floors fixing refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and more but said his kind is a dying breed: “The young people don’t want to do this kind of work. They would rather sit behind a computer.”
  • An article in our local paper featured a dog trainer, Lawrence Frederick, who performs with his dogs catching frisbees (and related tricks) all over the world. He said he’s not inclined to hire helpers/trainers much younger than their early 30s, because “many don’t have the work ethic or the ability. It looks like fun, but it is work.” His team of 13 dogs and nine contract dog handlers work from morning until bed time walking the dogs, cleaning up after them, feeding them, and then practicing or performing every three hours. Hard work for the dogs, and the humans, and I found it revealing that the youngest he has hired is 33—because of the work discipline thing (“Furry High-Fliers” by Tom Crosby, Daily News Record, August 25, 2018).
  • We enjoyed eating out with neighbors celebrating their anniversary recently. This was not a fancy place, and I’m sure the waitstaff only make modest wages and tips. But our very kind, friendly, and excellent waitress—probably late 50s—said she likes people and therefore enjoys her job; her mother always told her how much of a privilege it is to wait on people and serve them. Old-fashioned? Maybe. But real.

I know my readers here are mostly of the 40 and up generation, and you may have your own stories. I’d love to hear them. How can we encourage our kids and grandkids to learn the joy of work well done and the satisfaction of working with our hands—and minds?


What comments have you heard about enjoying work?

Have you taught your children the privilege of working?

Send stories or ask for a free booklet, “Work Therapy.” Contact me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  


What You Can Learn Parking Cars at a Large Event

My grandson and great great niece parking their cars.

Another Way for week of August 31, 2018

Don’t Blame the Parking Crew

At an event or an amusement where there was a parking crew, have you had to park someplace that irked you?

I think I will forever look differently at the job of parking cars. Particularly in a poorly marked grassy field.

Sooooo, what happened was my husband and I, along with others from our Lions Club volunteered to help park cars at our local county fair. It is one of the bigger fairs in our state, and generally well run, with hundreds if not thousands of volunteers. The cherry on top for our efforts was a monetary donation to our club for our assistance.

It was hot, it was muggy, it was chaotic. On the positive side, we learned that 99 percent of people are gracious even when you’re asking them to park in a row far from the entrance gate, and even though they said they hurried to arrive early so they could park in a good location.

No, I didn’t see anyone arriving at the fairgrounds dressed like this.

Folks, when it comes to getting a good space (meaning close to the entrance) at huge fairgrounds, that’s a wild hope. It happens to a lucky few, but when you go to Disney World, you expect to park in Timbuktu and walk, right? They may have a monorail to whisk you to entrance gates but you are still likely to walk forever to catch the monorail. At least that’s the way it was when I last went to Dizzy World.

Problems: untrained volunteer parkers; folks driving dreamy sports cars desiring huge spaces to protect their doors; excited children erupting from carseats; a parking coordinator who tried to make volunteers tell people who had parked and left their vehicles to get back in them and move them four feet—I kid you not; and trying to straighten rows where early afternoon-goers had parked willy nilly (without parking crew).

I smiled a lot and thanked people for cooperation, and said they could be happy they didn’t have to use the far far parking lots up the back hill of our fairgrounds. I was also known to look the other way if folks said they had a passenger who had trouble walking, and motioned them to drive on up closer and find a space.

If we had had curbs and markers like these …. no sweat!

My husband is an experienced parker and crew leader for overflow events at our church such as large funerals when we must park cars on our church front lawn. He’s a master at it, and doesn’t mind enforcing rules either, and mostly he does it kindly and makes sure those who have walking difficulties can park as close as possible. But he heats up when drivers try to pull rank and tell you they’re pastor so and so from such and such (at services where there are lots of ministers attending).

I saw our building supervisor at the office having what to me was a hard task the other day: kicking people out of our office parking lot. Another job I wouldn’t want is giving tickets to people who’ve overstayed their two-hour time period on the side streets near our office.

Back to the fairgrounds and the one percent of people who went ugly on us. The regular parking officials said the goal was to prevent people from blocking each other into their spaces—other years they had to call tow trucks when parking went way awry. Remember that parkers have a bigger picture of the planned traffic flow, and we’re asked to follow directions for our own good, to stay out of trouble. You can make spiritual applications there if you wish!

Such is life on a hot August day in the rural valley we call home. We survived and as far as I know, no one was hurt while parking or walking from the far-flung fields that night. We learned a lot about humanity and maybe ourselves. Not bad for an evening’s work.

Parking gripes? Leave them here!


Parking praises for kind people?


Or, what was your worst—or best volunteer experience?

Comment here or send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  




Behind the Scenes: Making a Hymnal

Another Way for week of August 24, 2018

Behind the Scenes: Making a Hymnal

What is your all-time favorite hymn or spiritual/religious piece of music? That may be hard to narrow down, but if you are a regular reader of this column, I know that you likely go to church and participate in regular worship services. If you do that, you also likely enjoy the songs and hymns most churches count as a very important part of their worship of God. It is the music portion of a service that most often moves me emotionally, even to tears, and I’m not alone in that. You probably have a number of favorites, depending on the mood and circumstances.

Of the many privileges I have had working as a writer for the Mennonite churches these past 42 years, getting to help—in however small of capacity—on a new worship and song collection for the church is stirring and rewarding. We are currently about half way through that process at the agency we call MennoMedia and while I plan to retire from my job before it is finished and published, I have learned a little of the tremendous planning, thought, sleepless nights and even tears (usually the emotional, joyful kind) go into producing and publishing a hymnal.

Hymnal: A Worship Books is looking dog-eared and worn in many pews.

It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, even though there are musicians and leaders in the church who have worked on two or more such productions. Denominational hymnals are not usually created more than once a generation and may even span 30-50 years between new hymnals. Let me also hasten to say there are many of us assisting with the process who are not musicians and barely know a treble clef from a bass. While I sing heartily with a congregation, you wouldn’t want me to sing a solo anywhere other than the shower.

But I have been privileged to work behind the scenes writing or editing things like news releases, and helping on fundraising and marketing tasks. As part of the editorial team at MennoMedia and Herald Press, this has also included sneak peaks at various cover designs and colors, and voicing opinions on options for title and cover. It is such a collaborative process, that other than the project director, in this case a splendid musician and teacher, Bradley Kauffman, no one person can be named as author or creator or organizer. From the staff end, Amy Gingerich as executive director has been supervisor and cheerleader to the process. What a group effort—especially for the actual committee, mostly volunteers, numbering around a dozen.

From upper left, the marketing and editorial team weighing on the new cover: Valerie Weaver-Zercher, Melodie Davis, Amy Gingerich, Rueben Graham, Joe Questel, LeAnn Hamby, Alyssa Bennett Smith, Bradley Kauffman (project director) and Merrill Miller (designer).

All along, those who have envisioned, planned, and sought input for this new collection have pitched in with their hearts and souls. A few months ago, before the title and cover had been revealed, staffers were a little giddy to know what it was going to look like before it was shown to the general public. The name and cover for it are now out there: Voices Together and you can see it here:

Raising the funds to develop a long-term project like this has been spurred by a huge and generous $100,000 matching grant from two Mennonite-related agencies, Everence and Mennonite Central Committee. They made the grant because they see church music as so important to the future of the church: bringing new generations to love singing and worshipping God through music.

This collection will be published not only as a traditional book for church pews, but a projected edition and a digital app. It will also have artwork in it – expecting 12 pieces to lead and inspire congregations in worship. I’m told that artists are super pleased about this aspect. In addition, the music will represent a wide variety of cultures, countries, and Christian theology: truly a book which voices can enjoy, together worshipping the God who made us all. 

For more about the hymnal project visit Send comments to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

How Many Pairs of Shoes Do You Own?

Current summer shoe collection, minus the “lost” favorite pair. the blue pair far right is my replacement pair, but just meh, not favs.

Another Way for week of August 10, 2018

How Many Pairs of Shoes Do You Own?

I lost one of my favorite pairs of shoes while on vacation at the beach this summer. I hesitate to say they were stolen—that would even be okay because then someone else would still be enjoying them. But who would steal a used pair of not-fancy $29 shoes? I think they were just plain thrown away.

The first night I left them outside on a landing near the door of our rental condo. They had sand on them, after all. Other items—sand toys and beach chairs were left outside as well. But my shoes—a handy pair of tan summer slip-ons, were gone in the morning. I hunted everywhere for them. Too late, I learned the condo rules said no shoes left outside. A person sweeping the porches one morning said that’s what usually happens—shoes are disposed of. And I realized that the job of sweeping stairs and porches would be made much harder dealing with shoes left outside. Okay.

It got me thinking about other favorite shoes I have had–especially summer sandals, because I have had several favorites in the last 20 years. Two well-loved and well-worn pairs got to the place where they could no longer be worn. They were my go-to shoes all summer for a number of years, and then straps broke or in one case the surface of the soles got rough and hard over winter—not pliable to feet. I kept them several years after I could no longer wear them, they were that dear. I hate throwing shoes away, especially favorites.

Have you had shoes that you hated to get rid of? When we’re young we wear the fashionable styles—perhaps with spikey heels. I used to wear that kind to work until I developed painful callouses on the soles of my feet. I think they were brought on by wearing poorly made shoes with little support, or in my case house slippers with slight heels. My feet tended to slide down those slanted slippers on the fuzzy surface. A podiatrist recommended that I buy very well made “support” shoes for work. He even wrote a prescription I could turn into my insurance. I swallowed my pride and wore dorky so-called old-lady shoes for about a year which did help tremendously. After the soles of my feet recovered, I did not continue to wear “prescription” shoes at work, but in my off hours wore well-made tennis shoes with arch support, and better-made, more expensive shoes that supported the amazingly intricate bones and padding of the feet. At least that is my memory from when I was in my late-twenties.

I hope this is a good reminder of how important our feet are—especially as we get older. Having shoes that feel good can be all-important to mobility and even longevity, right? Longevity because if you have shoes that don’t support you properly, a bad fall can occur and your health goes downhill with the fall.

This reminds me of the book I’ve been editing by Darla Weaver, Gathering of Sisters A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family (comes out Sept. 25 from Herald Press), about Darla and her Old Order sisters getting together with her mother every Tuesday, along with children who aren’t in school. The sisters have fun teasing each other, along with sharing lunch and the quibbles of children. Here’s a short excerpt on shoes:

“Between paying for Cody’s braces and food for Alisha’s cats, there’s nothing left to buy shoes for me,” I grumbled. “See what I have to put on my feet? Shoes that Alisha wore to school until they were full of holes.”

Her sisters just offer to bring her more worn-out shoes, and she ponders how their parents managed to feed, clothe, shelter, and educate nine children, to say nothing of doctor and dentist visits. “Sitting at the table in Mom’s kitchen has a way of reminding me that holes in my shoes are a very minor blip on the screen of life,” Darla reflects.

Yeah, not-pricey lost shoes—a very minor blip on a lovely vacation.


Have you lost or a had a favorite pair of shoes stolen? Tossed? Shoe stories anyone?


This wasn’t the first time we had shoes “stolen” or disappear at the beach. Years ago my husband left his on the beach when we went for a sailboat ride with a brother-in-law. The kicker there was the tennis shoes also contained his high-priced medically-prescribed plastic custom-made inserts. Not a happy husband!


I already heard that one teacher of a women’s Sunday school class used this title for the start of a discussion! One class member said it made for a good discussion on stewardship, tithing, etc.


My former pastor told me that he and his wife only have three pair of shoes each: dress, everyday, and mud shoes. I found that amazing and startling. Anyone else?

For more about Darla’s new book Gathering of Sisters, check here.  Or write to me and I’ll send you information by regular mail (along with a free bookmark). Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  










Why the Universe Exists

Another Way for week of August 3, 2018

Why the Universe Exists

I’m not the kind of deep thinker that would ever think of taking on the great mind of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. He passed away of course this past March, after a full lifetime of dealing with the crippling effects of ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig Disease.” I admired him for his courageous struggle and his great mind, wit and writing.

One of his well-known quotes is “My goal is simple. It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

Those of us who are Christian tend to believe that we have been given a rather complete description of why the universe exists in the stories of the Bible. We accept—and know in our innermost being—that there is more to life than the physical dimension. We believe that there is a spiritual dimension to us as humans and the universe.

I’ve only read a brief summary of the chapters in Hawking’s landmark bestselling book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes published in 1988. That was long after my own years in college had passed, so I can’t and won’t begin to dive into that. But I do want to explore the spiritual dimension in relation to the universe.

Everyone who feels love towards another human or even for animals and nature has felt the spiritual dimension to life. We can’t touch love and we can’t see it. But yet we believe it exists and it shapes us, for good and for bad or sad.

The Bible tells us God is love, in 1 John 4: 7-8. Verse 16 of that same chapter expresses it this way: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

But let’s go back to the Stephen Hawking sentence—why the universe exists. The truth that I know and feel and experience every day is that the universe exists because God is love and created humans to return love to our Creator. As the Bible itself James Weldon Johnson wrote in his poem “The Creation”, perhaps the universe exists because God was lonely. It does say God noticed (Gen. 2:18) that it was not good for the man he created to be alone.  Ultimately God brought humans into being and created us to love and be in spiritual companionship with the Almighty.

I feel and know God when:

  • I feel awe with morning sun peeping over the eastern hills near our house
  • I feel the warm and loving human touch of my husband before I arise to start my day
  • I sink my teeth into a wholesome banana, savoring the goodness—the first fruit most of our babies taste and toddlers love
  • I reflect on my beloved children, grandchildren, and sons-in-law and the love they’ve added to our circle; we can’t describe or delineate how that love was born—especially between parent and child and grandchild, but knowing it is there helps me feel God’s love
  • As I stretch out for some morning exercise I admire how well God made our bodies and brains and muscles to move and work together
  • As I’m struggling with a piece of writing and a new idea pops into my head—is that God? Maybe sometimes, maybe not I won’t blame God for my ideas that are losers but certainly creativity is a spirit and gift that comes from the hand of our creator God.
  • I take a walk and enjoy the singing birds, the wild flowers, the squirrels and rabbits. As Jesus put it—if God so loves the birds and flowers of the field, how much more does God care about you and me?
  • I sit down to a meal of delicious sweet corn, garden ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers—with some meat from God’s animal kingdom. We pause to thank the Creator.
  • I am stirred by billions of stars in the universe—the universe which Hawkings and other brilliant minds (which God created) have attempted to describe, and I know that I am seeing just a small part of the unfathomable universe. I’m glad for those who fathom how and why, and know that love and God are part of it.

Thanks be to God!


What are your thoughts?

What do you most wonder about the universe?

If you believe in God, why? What makes you know God exists? 



Comment here or send thoughts to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  









A No-Tan Summer

Yes, this is pretty much how we went in the water.

Another Way for week of July 27, 2018

No-Tan Summer

We went to the beach this summer with two of our daughters, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren. I followed my daughters’ lead and not only put on plenty of SPF50 sunscreen every time we went out, I covered up with a hat, blouse, shorts or capris to enjoy the beach.

None of us got any sunburn. We came back tanless, even after four mornings of romping in the surf, sand, and sun with perfect weather, barely any clouds in the sky. It was awesome—both the beach and the not burning with pain and sore, reddened skin.

But I couldn’t help but flash back to my years and years of needlessly exposing myself to ultraviolet sun rays and increasing my risk of skin cancer. I remember so many excursions to the beach—especially the year and four summers I lived in north Florida—when I was actually disappointed when we arrived at the beach too late in the day to get very much sun. I lived by the sun rule: the sun burns the most between the hours of 10 to 2 and if I couldn’t get in a least an hour or so in the sun, I was not happy. If clouds came up, I was half mad. Seriously.

I also “worked on my tan” by laying out in the backyard, on my deck, on a hilltop at my college, and mowing with a tank top and shorts. Helping Dad by driving tractor in the field was even welcome because I knew there I would get a real tan, even if it ended up being kind of a farmer’s tan.

Oh what a price we pay for our ignorance and what’s the most unbelievable, there are many many who still haven’t gotten the skin cancer memo or wake up call. Even if you never get a single basal cell type skin cancer (the “best” and least dangerous kind), we age our skin by decades the more sun we expose ourselves too.

About 12-15 years ago I quit trying to tan. A year and a half ago I had my first basal cell cancer removed and the scar is still very visible on my chest. I’m not happy with the particular surgeon who had his very young physician assistant do the actual sewing up on me. I guess he left his signature on my neck.

I know that more are possible in my future—with a sister and mother who have also had such removals. Basal cell cancers are supposedly the “good” kind (not considered melanoma) because they haven’t spread, but the concern is to catch them early. The American Academy of Dermatology says “Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but when detected early, is highly treatable.” I now have to have my skin checked twice a year.

My grandsons playing in the sun. No burn worries.

I still love the beach and I love people who still sport tans just because that’s the look they prefer or the lifestyle that turns them a rich beautiful shade of brown. But year after year, it increases our chances of skin cancer and the certainty that as 80 and 90-year-olds, our faces will be leathery and our necks lined deep with wrinkles, freckles and worse (scars from skin cancer surgeries), or, heaven forbid, an earlier death. I especially have trouble understanding those who frequent tanning beds. Experts warn it increases the risk of getting skin cancer, especially when begun under the age of 30. Some may argue that it is safer than the sun, and lotions may promote skin softness and delay dried out skin, but over time, I see deep wrinkles ahead.

Okay, so wrinkles don’t matter much and looking older than one’s age isn’t a worry for some in the grand scheme of life. Like they say, whatever makes people happy. Of course the sun also provides Vitamin D in megadoses—one element of a healthy life, but most of us get enough sun and Vitamin D in just the normal routines of going in and out of doors. But I hope you will seriously consider what sun or tanning beds are doing to your skin and life if tanning is still your thing!


For a free infographic to post in offices, schools, churches, etc., find them online at:  Or write to me and I’ll send it to you by regular mail. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  




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