Words

nothing-is-more-expensive-than-a-missed-opportunity-quote-1

We are walking along the cliffs. The wind is blowing. Huge waves are crashing against massive boulders in anticipation of the storm that is blowing in. B huddles deeper into his coat as the air picks up my words and delivers them to the man beside me.

“Everyday, you can choose to love or you can choose not to,” I say to B. “And so I choose to love you today and I will choose to love you forever.”

“That’s nice,” he says flashing that smile I have known and loved for so many years. The smile that I suddenly want to slap right off of his face.

THAT’S NICE?????!!!! REALLY….AFTER OVER 30 YEARS TOGETHER IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT? DON’T YOU KNOW YET THAT…

I am a woman who needs words. I write for a living for God’s sake! I love hearing double vowels, romantic words, and certain letters rolling off the tongue like the sound of an L, which can be so incredibly sexy when you are at the right place in time with the right person. I like hearing sharp bursts of words from children who have found dragons and mermaids and have to tell you all about the experience in 2.3 seconds or less so you see them before they vanish in thin air. I like words that are carefully chosen like a mother who measures cough syrup for her child in order to get the correct dose thus ensuring no harm. I like playful words like tumble and words with double meanings. I like words that are said with a laugh oozing up out of the throat, desperate words that are said while waiting for hot sex, and the words you whisper to a baby as their heads slump onto your chest their eyes fuzzy with Mr Sandman’s visit and almost nearly closed.

I LOVE WORDS!

So what is a woman to do when she is married to a man who doesn’t? Can she be happy without an “I love you too, honey” coming back at her? Can she feel understood and cherished when the words she needs to hear do not come out of his mouth? I’ve lived without them for so long why do I desire them now? Is this what a “maybe divorce” does to you? It makes you word crazy?

I realize to many this isn’t a problem at all. There are much more serious things in the world. B doesn’t beat me. He goes to work everyday. He doesn’t abuse me. He is great in bed…isn’t that enough? I mean…. REALLY…ISN’T THAT GOOD ENOUGH?

How many times I have heard my girlfriends tell me they wished they had a husband like mine….so kind and sweet….and he even does housework!

Why can’t that be enough?

I know many women whose lovers have said all the right words and meant none of them. Better to have no words than lies? Better to endure omissions rather than half-truths? I have no clue… but I do know that often B doesn’t respond with reassuring words and after these past two years of hell I find I want them. I might even need them.

All I know is that without words life is dull…like living in a black and white movie. It’s like eating salad everyday for dinner and skipping the dessert. Life without meaningful words looks like a bare bulb dangling in a stark white room. Its like a warm beer when it is 103 degrees outside and feels like that pit you get in your stomach when a cop pulls you over for speeding.

I want words. I want endearments, I want to know what you are feeling. I am tired of missed opportunities or the absence of words that leave me confused and hanging. Because without the proper words it feels as if storm clouds have entered my head and the disappointment is whipping up the winds that blow through my mind and turning what could have been a gentle spring shower into a raging hurricane. So button your coat and sink even further into it because a storm is coming. And I think it is me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving On A Jet Plane

imgres-1

Today B left on a 5 day business trip. Now to most, this would sound mundane. Five days. Big deal. But for me that is exactly what it is…a big deal.

Almost two years ago B came home while the rest of us vacationed for an additional 10 days. A few days after I arrived home is when he said he was wanting a divorce. Fast forward marriage therapy, individual therapy, meditation, Marriage Encounter…you name it we tried it. It was a merry-go-round of great successes followed by some major failures.

This past January, after coming back from a business trip to China, once again B stated he wanted to separate. Then I went away and realized I did too. I was done with all this back and forth. Either you want to be together or you don’t. I wrote a five page note putting my feelings into words and the actions I wanted to take, out there, in plain site, for him to read…only now he didn’t want to separate. So we made a deal. No more talking about divorce for 6 months and things seem to be better.

Now three months later B is alone on another business trip and, frankly, it made me a little nervous. So as we were walking to the other night I decided to be honest and spill my guts. I said to him:

“You know you are leaving and the last two times you have gone away on your own you have come home wanting a divorce/separation. Obviously, I have some concerns because being alone seems to take you to a place of not wanting to be together. So I wanted you to know if you are even thinking this again don’t bother to come home because I don’t want to deal with it and your indecision. This is a scary thing for me to say this but I am dreading your time away because I don’t want to be hurt again.”

“It sounds like you are scared,” he says using a phrase that he has learned at the therapists office.

He keeps walking. I do too but immediately feel my stomach clench.

“Really! That is all you are going to say!” my brain almost exploding with these type of thoughts.

images-5

And so I stopped walking.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” B says to me.

“Honey, this is the point where you are suppose to offer reassurance. I appreciate you recognizing my feelings but you need to go further. Just recognizing what I have said isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to react, reassure, or explore a little more. This is a pattern in our relationship. I express myself and you barely react to what I say. You could say more but you choose to withhold words that could be helpful, kind, or could bolster our relationship. You have gone away twice for periods of a week or more and both times have returned wanting to be single. I need honesty and reassurance from you that this isn’t going to happen again.”

B looks perplexed. He stares at me like I am a alien from Mars. But then he pulls me close and gives me a kiss.

“You don’t need to worry. I will be excited to come back to you.”

Okay, he’s not the best with words but it is a start.

This morning B left. When I went downstairs I found a note by my computer which read:

HONEY,

HAVE A GOOD WEEK AND EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE WHEN I RETURN. THANKS FOR GETTING THE KIDS AROUND WHILE I AM GONE. LOVE YOU, B

Maybe he is starting to “get it” after all.

images-6

 

 

 

 

Preservation

home-canning-basics

When I visited with my therapist this week I told her about an incident that happened while we were in New York. I wanted to explore it a little deeper because I knew that it was important and while I thought I knew why it needed to be tackled, I wasn’t sure that I had all the pieces I needed to fully understand why I did what I did.

On Sunday, our son West, was telling us we should sell a piece of property that we own, to which I replied:

“Honey, we can’t do anything until Dad and I know what is happening with this relationship and if we are even going to stay together.”

I think that is what is called starting to pound the nail in the coffin or maybe torching the bridge.

“So, why did you do it?” my therapist asked. “Why did you open the EXIT door and go right through it when you said that for six months you would not talk about divorce?”

“Because I felt like West was confused,” I answered. “Here we were so happy and yet we have been teetering on the edge of divorce. I didn’t want him to get the wrong idea.”

“First of all it isn’t West’s business and you didn’t owe him any explanations about where you are in your relationship. But I’m not sure that is all there is to it. Anything else come to mind?” she chuckled.

I stared back giving her my best evil eye. She laughed again. I squirmed.

“Okay, I guess I was feeling scared. Everything felt so wonderful and right this weekend. It felt too good to be true. I just couldn’t trust it and needed to put it back in the place I am used to…limbo.”

“So you went ahead and made sure it was too good to be true for everyone involved. You undermined your relationship which gave you a plan of escape. You abandoned the people you were with because you went through that EXIT door. Your plans and words gave the impression of wanting to escape. Why not have a plan to preserve your relationship instead?”

YIKES. WHY DON’T WE TAKE A LESS PAINFUL WAY THROUGH THIS PSYCHOLOGICAL CRAP …FLOGGING MIGHT BE A BETTER CHOICE.

“Think of it this way. There are many ways to preserve food. You can use a water bath, you can freeze-dry,  or dry it like jerky, or even pressure can it. Some things need to be preserved in just one way and some things can be preserved in many ways. But the object is the same: preserve what you have so you can enjoy it on another day. That is what you need to start doing with your marriage.  You can’t preserve your relationship if you are so busy running away through the EXIT door that you can’t stay in the kitchen to get the tasks done which will keep you and your relationship healthy.”

CRAP

“So, this week I want you to think about the things in your relationship with B that need to be preserved so they don’t go bad. Or think about those things that have been neglected and need to be revived. How do you go about preserving them so you have something tasty and good in the future? What work do you need to do on YOU that will allow your relationship to be preserved and ultimately flourish, instead of becoming moldy and rotten?” Are you going to leave the food out or are you going take care of it so it lasts a long time?”

As I headed home I stopped at the fruit stand and bought a lug of strawberries. On a lark I decided to make jam. So I cut,  smooshed, cooked, and added just enough sugar to make the syrupy fruit sweet. Everything in the kitchen was sticky to the touch as I lifted the jars out of the waterbath and as the jars started cooling on my counter I began to contemplate what my therapist was trying to convey. And then it happened… I began to hear the sound that all canners long to hear….the tinney POP of the lids as they seal in the freshness of what is put inside the jar. A POP that tells you that you did everything right and what is inside is preserved.

It was hearing those tiny little pops that made me realize that I wanted to put the best of what we had into our jars to keep what was inside fresh and free from contamination. After 30+ years of marriage, the good the bad and the ups and downs; I finally recognized that someday our cupboard will once again be bare and we will need what is preserved inside those jars to sustain us.

images-4

 

 

 

 

Better Than A Shirt

Last Christmas, after a crack B made about all the shirts and ties he had received over the years for the holidays, I gave him a bathrobe instead. But after contemplating his “joke” I realized he was right. My present giving had gotten a little boring just like our marriage had been for several years. I decided right then and there that this year I would give him something he would never forget.

If you know B you also know that he has devoted the last several years to playing the bagpipes after a trip to Scotland got him hooked. His favorite band is The Red Hot Chili Pipers but unfortunately they only play on the East Coast when they tour away from their home base of Scotland. So what is a girl to do? She buys airline tickets to New York, calls son West to see if the folks can stay with him at his pad, and she buys tickets to see the band at B.B. King’s Bar and Grill. That is where we were last night and the blokey bagpipers were amazing! Watching B watching them was the best gift I could have given myself. The joy on his face and the challenge that stirred his soul brought tears to my eyes. It was in short…one of the best nights ever!!!

IMG_5791

We arrived in New York at 11:30 p.m. Friday. West was here to pick us up. It was great to see our son and also see how well he is doing for himself. The view of Manhattan from his condo is amazing and his home is sporty and chic like a young man’s pad should be. But hell, we are only here for 60 hours so we had to get the show on the road. So off to bed we went only to be greeted by the sun a few hours later.

The next morning we went to the City Diner. The food is amazing and my stuffed french toast was incredible.

17458000_10154329599316516_8741472389554606132_n

We visited Central Park where we embarrassed West by riding the carousel like a couple of kids. We stopped and talked to Big Bird, who was with Elmo, and posed for pictures with the two icons, while West tried his damnedest to disappear behind a tree. It’s nice to know we can still embarrass our children no matter what their age!

17553555_10154329973656516_2387042431315340605_n

IMG_5643

 

We also visited the Plaza Hotel, went into the New World Trade Center, took the subway, gave the Trump Tower the finger, went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, saw Times Square and Broadway, had an amazing pub experience at The Dead Rabbit (voted one of the world’s best bars), ate New York pizza & cheesecake, while drinking just a wee too much.

IMG_5602

IMG_5670

So here it is early morning Monday and we are packing to return home to our “real” lives. We enjoyed each others company immensely, had great sex,  and got to see the things we enjoy most about the other. Divorce felt about as close to us as the sun as we spent our anniversary just being happy with the way things are…undefined.

In short, it was a weekend we will never forget, and if I do say so myself…it was much better than a shirt!!!!

Porn

images-6

The other day I mentioned porn and that got me to thinking. After much consideration I have come to the unequivocal conclusion that men should be forever banned from the making of porn films. Not only that they should not be able to write porn, direct porn, or cast the stars of these low budget features; they probably shouldn’t be able to watch them either.

I will confess right here I am not a big fan of the genre. I don’t like how women are demeaned and objectified. I don’t like “please me no matter what” attitudes of the men involved. But most of all I don’t like the plots. Actually, there are no real plots and that is exactly where the trouble lies.

Men make porn the same way they played with their toy cars when they were kids.  First off, they look for the most elusive or expensive model there is. Always.Who cares about what the color is as long as it’s a Porsche! This is followed by further scrutiny about how they will look driving the car and how fast can they can get into it and go. Next up: Leather or cloth seats? Pumped up tires or standard? With a bra or without? Essentially nothing has changed. Just pull it out back and let it rip. Banging into as many as they can becomes the name of the game, both young and old.

Now, I am not advocating more porn but I know that if women made porn there would be real plots. Instead of sex occurring one minute after the show began, it would take at least a half hour of fancy dresses with numerous costume changes, plenty of castles, and lots kissing and foreplay. The sets wouldn’t be sleazy formica kitchen countertops but fancy feather beds, lush tropical beach settees, and foods like grapes, whipped cream and caviar acting as aphrodisiacs.

I guarantee you that if women made porn the actors would all have straight dicks and perfect teeth. The men would have normal sized tools instead of scary looking tree trucks and the woman would all be able to walk upright instead of bent-over due to the size of their breasts. The actors would all manage to look like your fantasy lover not something that was drug in off of the street. And the sex act itself, well, it would last exactly 22.2 minutes because we all know what happens to our tender parts if you go much longer than that. No woman should ever be put in the position where she has to say, “You are wearing out your welcome.” THAT look of “GET THE HELL OUT” that always crosses the woman’s face in man-made porn would never occur in a film created by gals.

imgres-6

If women made porn they would turn it into a series in which the viewer knew everything about the characters and cared for them like their own family members. Debbie would do Dallas but she would also do it in the blooming rose gardens of Versailles. By the end of the show you would know all of Debbie’s friends, her parents and her favorite food. She would be a fully developed person, not just a sex machine. And while Debbie and Grant were getting it on in the opera box but we would also get to see the Joffrey Ballet set the mood as they performed a portion of The Nutcracker at the same time.

You see, if women made porn it would be something grand.It would be something your husband would call you about to remind you to chill the wine because tonight is “our night to watch Upstairs and Downstairs too.”  And if there were English accents involved it would be all the better to set the mood.

Women based porn would be something women wanted to watch and men too. It would increase desire and promote safe sex. And I am willing to bet if this were the type of porn that we spent watching with our partner we would all be having a whole lot more pleasurable and sexy sex instead of demeaning sex…and isn’t that what the goal should be in the first place?

 

A Good Book

images-13

I am reading the book Perfume River by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler. His words flow like a river during the spring rains…rushing and so powerful that they threaten to pull you under. Yet, Butler also knows how to write as if the river is also drying and receding into itself … the author’s words trickling from the pages in a sparse kind of way like the character who finds himself parched and unable to continue his journey.

As a writer I find it amazing when an author can match the flow of his words with the flow of the story. It’s a rarity, that. Most people can write of feelings and place but show me an author who has the gift of using words to match the tempo of the story, like a composer who pens his first notes for each instrument; well, it is a gift to the reader.

I wish I had the ability to match my words and actions with the tempo of storyline that is running throughout my life. Often I feel that my passion is too intense for the scene or that I fall behind not realizing the importance of the moment until it has passed. Sometimes I find  myself experiencing a momentary loss of words as I traverse this life that is mine. Having my emotions and words match what is going on in life often presents a bit of a challenge and I find that sometimes I am missing the perfect words that would complete the chapter in a satisfying sort of way for all the characters in my life.

But if the truth is told,  seldom is the time that we get to write our own life story as we envision it. Often plots are pushed upon us through no fault of our own and characters we never imagined magically appear. We expect a monsoon but get a drought instead. And as we journey through life we often forget that our words set the pace for what happens next, who we become, and the quality of our relationships that we are in.

So today, let us be mindful of the words we are saying and where they might be taking us. Let us craft our words and deeds like the chapter of a good book. And by thinking before speaking, let us be like that author who knows what to edit out to make the story flow. After all, it is our own personal story so its up to us to make it interesting and something we would be proud to let others read.  We may not get a Pulitzer Prize but we will get immense satisfaction in taking the time to craft a life that becomes our own bestseller.

 

 

 

 

B’s List Of What He Wants

images

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:

What I Want In The Second Half Of My Life

images-5

What I Want In A Relationship In The Second Half Of My Life

Getting older is not for the faint at heart. Our bodies will start to deteriorate and possibility our minds. We might get seriously ill and it might get harder to do the everyday things that we now take for granted. As they age, our children’s problems may become more complicated which will impact us and some may never leave home. One just never knows. Yet, our upcoming years are also a time for reflection, a time to finally relax and enjoy what we have accomplished. I hope it is a time to rejoice, have fun, and learn. I am excited and scared about it at the same time.

As I have contemplated what this second half of my life might look like I have come to understand that there are certain things that I want and need in a relationship, and certain things I don’t, if I am going to find my own personal joy in living. These are:

A. I need total transparency in my life. I no longer what to be guessing about what might be going on with my partner. I don’t want secrecy and secrets nor the lack of peace that accompanies secrets and dishonesty. I want to know that what I am looking at is the real deal and not some form of the truth.

  1. I want to be best friends with my partner and have us act in the manner one does with their best friend.
  2. I am trying to be someone who keeps herself open; someone who is open to change in whatever form that will take. I also want that in my partner.
  3. I want honesty not half-truths.
  4. I want someone who loves me with passion, concern and without reservations. I want them to feel desire and that I am their only and that they love me so much that temptation isn’t even in their vocabulary. I am willing to do the same but if I can’t have this satisfying/necessary type of love that I need then I don’t want to be in a relationship with them.
  5. I don’t want to worry about cheating whether it be emotional or physical. Everyone knows what it is and what the path looks like that leads there. I want to be 100% certain that the person I am with will turn away from that path. I will NEVER again accept this in my life. I
  6. I want someone in my life to laugh with loudly and often but knows the proper time to do so. I know I tend towards seriousness so I appreciate anyone who can lighten the mood when appropriate.
  7. I wan to try to live a blameless life in a blameless relationship. I don’t want to blame someone else for my issues and I don’t want someone blaming me for theirs. I have wasted too much time blaming and have spent too much time being blamed. I don’t want it in my life anymore.
  8. I want to live a life taking full responsibility for myself and not putting it on someone else. Seems like the grown up thing to do when you are over 50 years of age.
  9. I want “boring normal” everyday passionate sex. I don’t want sex with other people. I don’t want people watching me have sex. I don’t want to watch my partner have sex with someone else. I have learned what is important in life and this is not it.
  10. I want a relationship in which both parties share and consult with the other especially in the big matters.
  11. I need to be in a relationship in which my partner thinks the best instead of the worst of me. I want them to have faith that I am not slacking and that I am doing as much as I can and the best that I can on any given day. I don’t tell my partner they aren’t doing enough at work and I don’t expect to be experiencing that back.
  12. I want to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t afraid to get involved in important things as long as they aren’t disrupting the peace. Someone who will be proud of my activism knowing that ultimately I am trying to improve things for ourselves and others.
  13. For me a sense of adventure is important. I want to share that with someone who will also help push us into a realm of discovery.
  14. I want to spend time with my kids and my grandkids when I am older. I would like to have BIG family vacations together. I think it is important that the person I am with values family too.
  15. Being with someone who finds me sexually desirable no matter if I have scars, jiggly thighs and a soft round belly. I want to feel that my physical flaws are just as valuable as the parts that are not flawed just because it is part of who I am. Getting old does not do nice things to the body. I may not be perfect but I am still beautiful.
  16. I want to get naked more… wrinkles be damned
  17. I want a more in-depth spiritual life to share with my partner but I am not sure exactly what that looks like right now.
  18. I want to know that the person I am with has my back. I want to know that if I am lying in a hospital bed they will not be afraid to call the grumpy nurse over and say, “You know she hasn’t been given her meds. She needs to be turned.” Whatever it is. I want to know they will not be afraid to get me what is needed and will get out of their comfort zone to protect me when it is difficult for me to protect myself.
  19. I want to share in deep conversations so I know who my partner is… their wants, needs, dreams and desires.
  20. I want a person who loves to travel and explore. These are things I want to do when I am older. I don’t just want to be sitting on a sofa waiting for the Meals For Wheels truck to arrive.
  21. I want to volunteer more and share that experience with the person I love.
  22. A want to become a person who says yes more than they say no and I would like that in my partner.
  23. It is important for me to know that the person I am with appreciates what I bring to our relationship and doesn’t try to force me into a role they want to see me in rather than the role I put myself in of my own choosing.
  24. Compromise is important to a healthy relationship. I want to become better at it and learn from the person I am with.
  25. I want to try to do the things that will help us to stay healthy through exercise, eating, sleeping, etc. and I need a person who will encourage me to do these things especially when I am hurting and getting up and moving is hard.
  26. I think it is important to share our lives together but to also acknowledge that we don’t have to share everything to have something worthwhile and worth keeping.
  27. I want more peace in my life. I am finding out how really important that is to me. That doesn’t mean no strife and confrontation because if you don’t have a little of that you cannot be peaceful because what you have isn’t real. But in general a life that cultivates and values peace in the relationship and within us.
  28. Acceptance…I am who I am and though I can change I shouldn’t have to unless I am seriously hurting those around me (like yelling) That doesn’t mean someone has to accept everything about me like the fact that I hang the toilet paper role “wrong” but in a general sense of “you are pretty okay and everything about you doesn’t have to be re-done”.
  29. Learning keeps the mind young and excites it. I want to be in a relationship with someone who never wants to stop learning.
  30. I want to be with a person who isn’t searching for perfection but is searching for meaning.
  31. Like everyone, I have many flaws. It is important that I am with someone who is aware of my flaws and will try to ignore the ones they can and will kindly try to help me improve on the ones that they cannot.
  32. I tend to be too critical so I don’t think another extremely critical person would be a good thing to promote happiness.
  33. My love language is hearing sincere words of praise, acceptance and love. If I do not hear the words it is difficult for me to fully believe I am loved so this is important to me. I understand that words can be cheap but words said with love “sound” sweeter than words that are missing and should be said.
  34. I have pain on a daily basis from my back, neck and sometimes fibromyalgia. I want the person I am with to understand this and not think I use it as an excuse. It is hard for me to be “less than perfect” it makes me feel old and crabby because I am in pain. I want that pain to be acknowledged and some understanding to help me through it and provide encouragement rather than having to “prove” myself constantly.
  35. This past year in particular I have lived in fear. I no longer am willing to do that and I am not willing to be with anyone who would use it against me.
  36. I want to have a deep spiritual connection with my partner in which those things we find important we willingly share without fear and impatience. I want to feel that natural connection and know they are thinking of me because they call during the day or leave texts. I want connectedness rituals built into our lives from the way we spend the morning TOGETHER to how we say goodnight.
  37. I want to be able to reach my partner on the phone when I call. While I understand there are meetings and such there is NO reason I should not be able to reach my partner other times during the day.
  38. I want to limit my time traveling and try to live in the present. This is hard for me and because of my past I have a tendency to try and plan for the worst or for the future because it makes me feel safe and without anxiety even though doing so makes no sense.
  39. I want to try and live with as little anger as possible.
  40. I am trying to learn to make decisions on feelings with ebb and flow and constantly change and I am hoping my partner will do the same.
  41. I want to help make my partners dreams realized and I want the same back.
  42. As I age I want to focus more on the good and less on the bad.
  43. I want to find ways to show love that is meaningful to the person I am trying to show love to
  44. I would like to believe that as much as you can plan these things that my partner will be there holding my hand when I take my last breath and will help lead me to my final adventure.images-7

A Weekend Of Promise

imgres-5

This weekend we traveled six hours to attend a World Wide Marriage Encounter. This program is put on by a segment of the Catholic Church and its aim to to strengthen and preserve marriages. Since we are not Catholic, I was a little worried but I decided from the get-go that I would take away what I needed and leave any discussion behind regarding ideas/values that I may disagree with. That was a good decision but in truth there was very little church doctrine thrown our way.

All I can say about the weekend is that it was very therapeutic and restorative. Programs were given in which the Marriage Encounter leaders shared powerful stories from their own lives and gave examples of how following the program renewed their relationships and made communication/intimacy easier. Listening to the hardships and disappointments of these couples really helped B to understand we were not alone. Seeing their relationships and the intimacy they shared made us want the same for our marriage too.

We spent the weekend writing and learning to dialogue with one another. For someone like B, who finds sharing and even discussing FEELINGS difficult, seeing other men who were in the same boat as he, but have learned how to share and behave differently was a huge break through. The most important things we learned were:

  1. Feelings are neither good nor bad. It is the actions that follow the feelings that can be good or bad.
  2. The difference between thoughts and feelings. Thoughts include judgements, beliefs, ideas, perceptions and opinions while feelings are spontaneous inner reactions.
  3. If you can replace “I feel” with “I think” then you have expressed a thought not a feeling.
  4. If you can replace “I feel” with “I think” and it doesn’t make sense or if you can replace “I feel” with “I am” then you are most likely expressing a feeling. For instance “I feel irritated about this” it doesn’t make sense if you say “I think irritated about this” so it is a feeling. You can also identify a feeling by saying “I feel irritated about this” and then replacing the “I feel” with “I am” “I am irritated about this” so it is also a feeling.

There was also a priest there who participated and shared about his journey and disappointments with his vocation. He was so honest and forthright about his life. It was refreshing. I think for some of the men hearing the struggles of a priest allowed them to really look at their own lives and to open up.

It was an INTENSE but amazing weekend full of hope and promise. The feelings and intimacy we shared was much needed and appreciated. We both felt like we came away with the tools to improve our marriage and make it be the type of relationship we both need and desire. And we both had felt a renewed commitment to our marriage and each other.

Yet, I think the thing that touched us the most was when we found out we had had two couples who had gone through Marriage Encounter praying for us and the healing of our relationship throughout the weekend. I have to admit that prayer is a iffy thing in my book and I have always felt uncomfortable with others praying or asking for things on others behalf. It has just never sat well with me. Yet, to know that people we didn’t know were wishing us well, encouraging us through prayer and rooting us on just amazed me and somehow it felt like a blessing rather than an intrusion. But what was even more amazing was that after the weekend was over and we were exiting the building there were those same couples who had prayed for us standing there welcoming us with their insight, love, the candles they burned for us and flowers…well, it caught us both off guard. We felt encouraged, joyful, honored and amazed that strangers would do all this for us with the hope that our marriage would come to a place of peace and harmony.

There are not many times in life where you truly get to feel uplifted and amazed while experiencing positive changes working within your own life. This weekend was one of those times and it leaves me hopeful and gives me the ability to dream again about our future together. It doesn’t mean that we will be free of troubles but we have some more tools in our tool belts and how they work make sense to both of us and we are both willing to take them out and use them to improve things between us.  I hope you will root us on too in whatever way you choose for one thing we learned this weekend is that we can use all the help we can get to take our relationship in the direction that we want it to go.

 

 

Love Letters

images-8

Recently someone contacted me (after finding my family tree on a genealogy site) saying that they had found a box of letters from 1912 from my 2nd Great Aunt (I’ll call her Mary) to her then boyfriend who later became her husband. She had three boys from an earlier very bad marriage and in stepped (I’ll call him Ned) to love and cherish her and the boys. Not many men would have had the heart or the courage to take it all on but he did and I know that Mary and her sons were blessed to have Ned in their lives for another 51 years.

There are about 40 letters in all and they are courtship letters. Mary and Ned were separated at the time by two long train rides from one another and they were trying to find a way that they could be together as a family but things were hard and there was not a lot of work where my Aunt lived, so Ned went to the “Big City”  to look for work. One of the bonuses of these letters is that my Grandfather is mentioned in them twice. He was about seven at the time. In one her letters to Ned, Mary says that my grandfather said to her son, “Do you think that man is going to marry your mom?” He replies “I reckon they might.”

Throughout all the letters there are pronouncements of practical love and a few glimpses of passionate love too. In one letter my Aunt talks about what might happen if they were to work together and says, “But if we do you have to promise to keep your hands off of me while at work!”

These letters are nice reminders of how early in relationships we do our best to impress, to praise, encourage and to believe in the possibilities that lie ahead. I think that is often missing as marriages mature and the letters have reminded me of just how important those kinds of gestures are in everyday life. Mary and Ned’s belief in their love and their future together is strong and its an overriding theme throughout their writings. It was important to them to believe and celebrate what they had and what they had found in each other. It’s some thing I want to rediscover in my relationship too.

Ever since B brought up the”maybe divorce” I have had difficulty celebrating what we have had, what we do have, and what we might have. Yet, as Mary and Ned have shown me celebrating a relationship and each other if important. It is a must do and it serves a much needed purpose to foster love and a sense of connection. So I have decided that if I want B and I to be a couple, I have to live like we are a couple and act as if we will be together forever. I have to believe in the possibilities that still exist for our marriage if this relationship is to survive. I must:

images