I have had the grandkids (and our daughter) with us for almost two weeks. I have come to the conclusion that two and three year-olds fight, scrap, say “NO” and pout almost as well as our politicians; so Grandma is taking a break.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
“Grandma, whatcha doing?”
“It’s when you sit quietly and don’t make any noise.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because Grandma’s head is about to explode.”
“Would that make a mess?”
“No, there really isn’t much in Grandma’s head anymore.”
“Where did the stuff in your head go?”
“My kids stole it from me.”
“Didn’t you teach them not to steal? My mommy says not to take something if it doesn’t belong to you.”
“Honey, its no one’s fault. They don’t know they are stealing it from you and you don’t know that you have lost it until they are all grown.”
“Grandma, am I stealing your head?”
“No baby. You are stealing my heart one day at a time.”
“Do you want it back?”
“No you keep it and when you go back home and Grandma is here you will have a piece of me that you know always loves you.”
“Like Sophia?” (her dog)
“Yep, like Sophia.”
“Sofia poops in the backyard.”
And so it goes………..
Yesterday I posted what I wanted/needed in my second half of life. Today I am posting B’s.
First of all, just so you know, I asked B if it was okay to post this. To my surprise he said yes. This is his list of what he wants in the second part of his life with me. It won’t come as a surprise to those who know us that his list is very different than mine. Much more compact. Remember, I’m the one with the words. Yet, what he wrote touched me deeply because I knew it was from his heart and soul. All of it.
The morning we were to go to breakfast to discuss our relationship; I got into the car and our wedding picture was there along with some flowers. B said that before we went to breakfast he wanted to read what he had written and so with tears in his eyes and a catch in his throat this is what he read:
August 20, 2016
In the name of God, I B take you C to be my wife, to have and to hold for all our remaining days, for better or worse ,for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish all the remaining days of my life, this is my solemn vow.
I love you!
My dear love you are my woman
May I show this to you in a loving, kind, gentle way all the days of my life.
Dance with me.
Sing with me.
Laugh with me.
Eat with me.
Pray with me.
Plan with me.
Have fun with me.
Forgive with me.
Exercise with me.
Show compassion to others with me.
Work with me,
Live with me.
See great great grandchildren with me.
Watch the sun rise and set with me.
Enjoy the gift of each day with me.
If there is something else of importance that I came away with from this weekend’s Marriage Encounter it is that LOVE IS A CHOICE. It is a choice that you make again and again and again over the lifetime of your relationship. The choice to love begins when you wake up in the morning and think pleasant thoughts of your spouse while he lays there sleeping. It is present when you decide to take the time to really listen to what your partner is saying. And it renews itself when you chose to give your sweetie the benefit of the doubt and believing in the best instead of the worst.
I am not sure when B and I forgot this or if we ever viewed love in exactly this way. Letting resentments build up is not choosing to love. Foregoing intimacy is not choosing love. Escaping from each other by putting other things first is not choosing love and I know these things were happening in our relationship. No wonder our relationship became unsatisfying to both of us. Other things intruded and we did not recognize it nor stop it when we did. Making sure that our love for each other a priority just never got very high on the list.
I thought it might be difficult to make sure that B knew I was choosing love. But staying connected throughout the day via texting and dialoguing at night is helping us to see that putting our relationship first makes us feel good about the other. It makes us appreciate and celebrate what we have.
Sure, it has only been a few days and we have yet to be put to the test with schedules, poor behavior and a disagreement. But I have hope that as long as we both remember that LOVE IS A CHOICE and choose to honor the choice we have been blessed by; then loving each other as the unique individuals we each are will become as natural as a rose opening itself for all the world to appreciate and see.
I have noticed at the therapists office lately whenever I say something and the therapist asks how B feels about what I said, he replies “It makes me shut down when she says that, talks that way, responds that way, etc.” Frankly, its getting old. Put on your big boy jock strap and get over it for goodness sake!
You shut down years ago and now you use me as your excuse. You actually started shutting down when you were a kid. Now you are a middle aged man who is mad at himself for keeping in his feelings and not saying what was on your mind to your mother, to your family, and to me because we all “shut you down.”
But instead of being the scapegoat I think you need to put this one directly on your own shoulders for it seems to me that you “shut down” when you don’t want to deal with conflict or emotions or whenever something makes you uncomfortable. You use “shut down” as an excuse to avoid…me, your feelings, or anything that makes you have to think in a way you do not want to. This then gives you the excuse to be righteous in your misplaced anger.
Your first response may be to shut down. You are not responsible for that first response but you are responsible for how long you choose to live with it.
So, in essence, shutting down is a really just a bad habit and it is a choice. Stop making that choice. PLEASE.
We never enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles until this summer when my 90 yo aunt introduced us to them while we sat on the summer porch looking over the lake. After that, Gracie and I were hooked.
There is nothing quite like time spent doing a jigsaw. Life slows down, your senses are heightened and magic begins to happen as an image slowly begins to form. All that hard work and in the end you see the results unlike so many things we do in life in which we never “see” what we actually do. But the best thing about the jigsaw that happens is the time that Gracie and I spend together. We sit in near silence except for the “eureka” that is voiced triumphantly when we find an elusive piece.And sometimes in this quiet time a different type of magic occurs and little bits of conversation emerge that never would otherwise.
“Mom,” she says with a sense of pain and frustration that catches the words in her soft little voice, “Celeste (her nemesis) asked me in front of my friends, “Can you see out of your eyes?”
I give a snort of indignation.
“So what did you say?”
“I told her, what, do you see me with a white cane or something? How can you ask such a stupid question?”
“Well done. I hate when people try to get our goat and I am proud that you didn’t let her.”
These are the types of conversations that my tween and I have as we stare at 1,000 little pieces scattered over one small card table. Brief, sweet, insightful…I hear things I normally wouldn’t have as we sit in the silence together. It’s perfect amount for a 12 yo who is not sure she needs her mother anymore and enough for me not to put my foot in my mouth and say something unnecessary or unneeded. And in that, I realize our words together are a lot like those jigsaw pieces…small, misshapen, but often fitting together until a picture is created. And that is enough for both of us right now.
According to researcher, Karl Pillemer, author of 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage there are five key elements that make for successful long-term relationships.
Pillemer interviewed over 400 Americans who had been married from thirty to over 50 years. What he discovered was this:
- Couples who saw marriage as a “We’re In This Love Forever” type of life-long committed relationship were the ones that made it. While they had rough patches and times of stress these couples fought to get through their troubles and ultimately succeeded by not giving into the temptation to leave. These folks just refused to give up!
- The couples interviewed beleived that it was important to pick a person who had smiliar interests, views and background. If these commonalities were observed contentious issues regarding money, religion and how to raise the children would be minimized because the core values were the same according to the happy couples.
- Talk, talk, talk said these long wedded couples. According to them problems are solved through constant open dialouge and that they felt that marriages ultimately fall apart due to lack of communication.
- Team work tells the story according to Pillemer. Marriage is not always a 50-50 proposition. When illness or setbacks sidelines your partner the other has to step up and step into the game. A winning couple acts as a team in all facets of their lives and problems are not an individual issue but one that the team faces and works on together.
- Know your potential spouse well before marrying them. Shared experiences over time tell you how you will handle issues and problems in the future. These long time lover advised making sure you like your partner in all types of situations because you can’t go into marriage thinking that you will change them. You won’t.
Oh yeah, one more thing…those long term forever marriages…well they have a lot of sex even in their advanced years. Now that is about the best news I have heard in a long time…Maybe there is hope for us yet!