Dreams Of The Past And The Future

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When we were young B and I could never have enough projects. They kept us busy and talking to one another about the different aspects that we needed to consider when we were working together. We tore out the kitchen of a cabin we bought, we built a house in the mountains, we started a winery and built the building to go with it. We were busy, tired, and often content with the manner in which our lives were progressing.

These days B is done with projects. He wants nothing to do with them. I suspect some of this stems from having to leave behind our hard work for others to enjoy when we did not yet have that pleasure. Moving for B’s career made us give up some of these comforts and dreams. Not being able to experience the joy of our labors made it more difficult for B to keep up the hard work, determination, and faith that building requires. And I think that stress at work has limited his enthusiasm for projects.

However, recently we decided to sell a property that we have owned for about seven years. This has entailed ripping our a kitchen and installing new cabinets, countertops and backsplash. We have had to repaint the entire place put up new lighting fixtures and vents in all the rooms. It has been a huge undertaking but it has paid off with some unexpected dividends…a closeness that has been missing and the chance to re-visit all of the amazing things we have accomplished together. This isn’t to say that everything is perfect. It isn’t. But it is nice to experience some of our “old selves” again and it is nice to be engaged with one another once more. I have missed this over the past several years. I have missed just being with B and watching him sweat as we struggle to hang a cabinet. I miss having dreams which are flavored with the smell of hard work and the sweetness of a job well done. I have forgotten how just spending time together made me feel connected and how my admiration for my husband would soar when all we worked for came to fruition. And it occurs to me that the respect I feel for this man, who, when exhausted, keeps giving his all, is immense and inspires me to do my best too.

I wish we could work together more. Find new projects to create together. I don’t know that it has to be building but something… anything that will plant new seeds to understanding, respect and appreciation.  I thirst for finding commonalities again with the man that I love. I understand why B wants to lay down his hammer but for me these undertakings  that we embark on together give me a sense of hope and purpose. And even though I can barely move after a day of hard work I would gladly down numerous Tylenol just to spend quality time with B once again. For when we work together I see deeper more personal glimpses of the man I fell in love with and I hope he sees the same in me and it also feels as if there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.

 

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What I Need From You

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I talk to B everyday I am gone. Perhaps it is a mistake. Perhaps he needs to “feel” my absence instead of my presence for a while. Perhaps he needs to miss me…if he ever would.

I say, ” Love You.” He repeats it back when what I really want to hear is:

“Well, Dad and I had a good day today. Blah-blah-blah.”

“Honey, I just want you to know that we are really missing you here. Especially me. What I wouldn’t give to have you in my arms right now. I  love you and need you here with me, now and forever.”

What I wouldn’t give for those kinds of loving and reassuring words. Words that say that I am appreciated, treasured and loved. Words that tell me I am still his girl and he is damn glad that I am. Words that make me feel his love for me here in Michigan or Paris or anywhere I happen to be. Words that he would say during my eulogy to pronounce to all in attendance that I was who he loved and letting go will be hard.

Why is it so hard for B to say them? Is it because he doesn’t know how or that he can’t because he doesn’t feel that way and saying them would be a lie?

This 30+ year love affair shouldn’t be so difficult. It SHOULD be easier than ever to whisper sweet nothings. To let a person who feels they are teetering on the edge of your life to know how much they mean to you, how much you desire them, and that their absence makes their heart ache.  For we are getting to the age where death begins to watch you from the shadows and you never know when you might be taken. And of this I am sure: When you leave this earth you should know without a doubt who loved you to the end of the rainbow.

Perhaps this kind of talk is unrealistic. Perhaps it only happens in fairy tales. But if those things are true then I want to re-write my story because this is what I need. This is what my heart longs to hear and my soul craves. Words that are meaningful, loving and make a future with B obvious. A future that is mutually desirable, sought-after and protected.

Do you love me B? Then let me hear the words. Let me hear them said from that place in your heart that is occupied only by me and that is reserved for my love only. That place in you where I anchor you to our love both past, present and future. That place that says I am still the only woman for you. That place that says you want me to be the one holding your hand when you pass into another realm.

Let me know. Before I forget and slide into a place where I can no longer feel your heart connected to mine or feel our souls slide gently together throughout the day. Let me know so when I lay my head down on my pillow tonight I can rest so peacefully that angels would come and I would not fight them. Let me know so when the sun rises tomorrow that I know your love for me has risen with it just like it will the next day as well as the next.

I need your love but right now I need your words more than I ever have. For they are a gift that is not meant to be withheld but given freely and in love.

So be it!

Closeness

*The other day I posted about the distance I was feeling in my marriage. A very smart reader inspired me to write about what I want. Here it is.*

I would like to feel the kind of closeness with you that you feel when a newborn baby is first placed in your arms. The feelings of awe and beauty in what you have created make you feel elated.A sense of total dedication and belief in all the possibilities that lay before you open to you and bloom like a rose. The total acceptance of this person and the belief you can handle whatever lays before you with them. The way they fit so perfectly in your arms and automatically snuggle in, burying themselves deeper into your heart and soul.

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I want the sort of closeness with you that feels peaceful and reassuring. A closeness in which what what I see before me is truth in all its glorious nakedness and not something dressed to cover it up.

I want a quiet and dignified closeness in which you know the person so well that they will tell you when you are wrong in a way that allows you you to hear it and know it is true because they love you enough to tell you. In a way that in reaching for your hand they are actually grabbing onto your heart and holding it gently in their hands.

I want a closeness with you in which your love knows and acknowledges my flaws while gently trying to lead me to a better way, not through superiority but through genuine good will wished for me. A person who tries to concentrate on the good and not only acknowledge the bad in me. The kind of closeness that encompasses true forgiveness and understanding.

I want a closeness with you in which if I had to have a mastectomy in wouldn’t bother me that I had missing parts because I know you could let those go knowing that I have other parts that were just as precious and wonderful.

I want to feel a closeness with you in which talking to each other throughout a work day feels like a bonus, like a 5 minute picnic in a meadow full of warmth and happiness instead of feeling like a chore.

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I want a closeness with you that at times needs no words. It is just strong and steady and something we can hold onto while feeling safe and confident when the gales of life threaten to pull us from one another.

I want to feel a closeness to you that feels like the biggest and best quality feather bed ever made. It feels light  and airy and its a place where deep rest and relaxation can be found.

I want to feel a long-term closeness with you not something fleeting and temporary based on whims and moods. But something strong and sure  like a Boy Scout knot that won’t come untied unless you release the ends with purposeful intent.

I want to feel a closeness with you that is steadfast and steady like a dogs love and admiration to his people. No questions asked, it is just there unwavering.

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I want to feel as closeness that is devoid of fear, mistrust and hidden agendas. I want this closeness to be pure and bright like a guardian angel or like the closeness God shows us when we are open to seeing it. Closeness that you guard with your life because you both feel that it is precious and worthy.

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I want to feel a closeness to you like I never have. I want to have a deep never-ending connection with you.

Maybe…

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A month ago B told me that he was going to China for 10 days. I wasn’t invited and I was hurt as going to China has become somewhat of an annual pilgrimage for us. Besides, although it is for “business”, in truth, he doesn’t really need to go. His partner can take care of it and B doesn’t speak Mandarin anyway. It is really an excuse to just get away from the daily grind of home, office, family and me I’m afraid.

Then about 10 days ago I asked if B was going anywhere else besides the town he usually goes to because it seemed to me that 10 days in that one spot was unusual. He replied “Oh, I am also going to Taiwan” Really? When did you think you would inform me of this news? Oh, and not with your partner…by yourself. How interesting! Oh its part of your business plan now to tour facilities? So are you really going to do something different because of this knowledge you will acquire? Well no. I didn’t think so.

When I mentioned to B that I was hurt about not getting an invitation to accompany him his reply was that I was taking Gracie to Florida for a diving competition. Really? That’s the best you can come up with? I get to go somewhere with bitchy back-biting diving moms and worry about schedules, practices and hauling around a 12-year-old who has recently decided to get strung out on teenage girl hormones while you have 10 days basically to yourself. Hmmmm. Someone is getting the better end of the deal and it isn’t me.

So I asked B if this was the start of us taking vacations apart from one another. He looked surprised and said no. But I feel like this separateness is saying something in and of itself about us, about him, and about our relationship. It worries me. And so, after much thought on my part,  I told B that I think it is the start of something new for us because I will also be going on vacation alone just like he is. That I need time alone and adventure too.

Now part of me feels guilty about this. The woman who doesn’t value herself enough thinks that perhaps I am not deserving of this time alone. Most mothers don’t get it so why do I need it? The devoted wife thinks…come on…there is a difference between going somewhere on “business ” which B is doing and going just to go which is also what B is doing. There is the financially responsible person in me who says you need to save your money…you have been plenty of places so don’t be a bitch. The weary mother of boys with autism and a marriage that is still mending says…go…recharge your battery. Use this as a time of self discovery outside of the usual daily carpooling routine.

And so I am torn. Trying to decide if I am just seeking a kind of perverse tit-for-tat “revenge” for the disappointment I feel at being excluded, if I am trying to make a statement, or if I am looking out for myself in the best possible of ways and giving myself what I need to grow spiritually and emotionally. Maybe a combination of all. And as I contemplate this I am perusing the internet of exotic places…India, the Seychelles, Africa…dreaming of what it would be like to have the freedom and the guts to take a trip for me, myself, and I, with no remorse or guilt on my part. Can I do it? I’m not sure at this point but I think that 18 months of therapy and a marriage that was teetering on the brink might have taught me a few things… the primary one being is that I matter. That my dreams, needs, and thoughts matter and for some foolish reason I let go of that strong confident ball-busting young woman I once was… and that I miss her…a lot… and that I want her back. And I also wonder that if I take a chance… if I just step out and up…if I might find that confident, intelligent and oh-so-sure of herself slightly older  and more colorful woman again somewhere in India because I haven’t yet found her here.

Does going somewhere new and doing something different change you? Does challenging yourself help you grow balls? I’m not sure… but I think I would like to find out and if I do I can only hope that I will bring back so much more than I left with.

 

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Porn

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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.

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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?

 

B’s List Of What He Wants

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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:

372 DAYS TO FIX THIS

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When I began this blog it was with the intention of blogging everyday for 365 days as I fought to keep my marriage intact. I didn’t because life got in the way. A lot. Life has a tendency to do that when you have a husband, 5 children, a dog and 3 grandchildren.

I purposely decided not to blog about reaching 365 days on the one year anniversary of B telling me how unhappy he was in our marriage and that he might want a divorce. I didn’t want to “celebrate” much less acknowledge one of the most agonizing days of my life. That day, one year ago, was a full of intense pain, enough tears to officially end the drought and it lead to months of increased struggle, anger, and hurt. The “I Think I Might Want A Divorce Day” brought me to my knees and my life changed at that instant. Thirty years of togetherness, memories, marriage and great sex were on the verge of disappearing in a blink of an eye. I am not sure why but on that day I asked B to give it 365 days to fix our broken relationship and with it a blog was born. Six hours later he left for a week to take the boys to scout camp.

Frankly, it was never my intention to spill my guts the way I have; nor allow my anger and dismay to swallow me whole with witnesses along to pick their way through my mess. But I did and it did. I am not really sure what I expected when I started writing but the rawness of some of my early posts bring me back down to earth with a thud. Divorce was for other people. Not me. Damn it.

There are many things that have happened this year that have stretched and surprised me. The major one was that at some point in the past year B and I reversed roles and I decided I wanted a divorce but to my surprise he didn’t. That was an awakening and hurt almost as much as when he said he might want one. Frankly, I didn’t know quite what to do with that. But we both know that with three kids in the house, two of them with autism and other issues that impact our marriage in a big way; that divorce would be akin to picking up tiny pieces of a huge pane of shattered glass and that someone would get cut. Deeply.

I wish I could say I handled all of this with grace. I didn’t. I did however get a therapist whose help has been invaluable. She has taught me to be mindful. To sit with things and let them brew without my influence. We have also been going to joint counseling and B now has his own counselor too so that he can learn to express himself rather than keep things bottled up inside for years.  But the best thing we did was attend a Marriage Encounter weekend. It is what has started us down the path towards healing, understanding and really listening to one another. I am not sure that had we not attended that my blog would count off 372 days. Really, it made that big of a difference. We just had to be open to it even though we are not Catholic and the things were heard were nothing more than what we would have heard at any religious gathering. I urge any of you who are struggling in your marriage to at least consider attending.

The changes I have made over this past year have been accomplished through a lot of hard work and perseverance . At times I have taken one step forward and two steps back. Those steps have been humbling, courageous, and have often felt like I had a huge splinter in my shoe while I was taking them. I have had to do a lot of changing. I used to try and live my life with a guarantee arm-wrestled from others…an impossible task. I try not to do that anymore. The biggest thing I have accomplished to date is that I have stopped yelling. That was a major victory and has changed our family for the better in so many ways. I am now working on trying to remove a sense of harshness from my voice and it is a challenge to say the least.

I have implemented many new ways of doing things and new ways of considering how to occupy my place in the world. This is what I have done that has been helpful for me:

  1. I listen to the Meditation Minis podcast by Chel Hamilton. It’s free and it is only 10 minutes a day. Those 10 minutes have allowed me to decrease the negativity I has feeling in my body and mind and replace it with acceptance and positivity.
  2. Thanks to my therapist I now have a Place Of Mysteries. This is a place in which I put on a shelf things I do not have enough information about so I do not carry them around with me. I then examine them when I have more facts so that I can make intelligent decisions.
  3. I am working really hard on not saying things the moment I think them. I now try to let my thoughts gels before spouting them.
  4. I try to look for the good instead of the negative
  5. I make a conscious choice all day long to CHOOSE LOVE. When things irritate me I CHOOSE LOVE and try to act accordingly.
  6. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to the positive attributes I know that B has instead of jumping to conclusions.
  7. I try not to TIME TRAVEL to the future and the past. Instead, I try to stay in the present collecting the golden nuggets of life that are in the here and now.
  8. I try to think rather than just react and ask for time to do so when more time is needed.
  9. I get more sleep realizing that there is always tomorrow to get things done.
  10. I keep a sex calendar which serves as a gentle reminder that too much time has slipped away since our last loving encounter.
  11. I work on being mindful of what is going on around me and within me. I have slowed down to really think about the ramifications and unintended consequences of what I am doing.
  12. We dialogue every night in the way we learned to do at Marriage Encounter. This has allowed us both to learn more about what the other is feeling and gives us a loving perspective in which to view our mate and his/her actions. Dialoging gives us the time to ask questions and clarify, not just assume what is meant by words/actions.
  13. I have lost weight but not for him. It is for me only and it shows.
  14. I am learning to just sit with things and not try to force a desired outcome.
  15. I am trying to learn to do things with joy in my heart while doing them. After all, the house does need to be cleaned so why not do it with joy instead of resentment?
  16. We try to have a date night every week or so. Time spent with each other without the interruptions of family life has allowed us to look at each other as individuals with unique feelings instead of as just Mom and Dad.
  17. We have a GRATEFUL log that we keep to remind us of all the wonderful things the other has done for us and is useful to pick-up and read when things are a little bit off.
  18. Whenever I feel like I am getting “hooked” I try to take a pause and relax.
  19. I have come to realize that life is not static. We are fluid beings and as such things will change. I don’t have to stay “stuck” in a particular way of acting or doing things especially when it is causing me or my loved ones harm. I am sowing seeds everyday that will blossom as suffering or joy depending on how I plant them and care for them. I try to keep this in mind as I interact with others.

So a year as come and gone. A year in which I did not get divorced or separated although we came close. A year in which we both worked hard to improve ourselves and our marriage. It has been a lonely year that has been frightening yet also enlightening. We have had to expose our own vulnerabilities as we have attempted to open up to one another in very deep and personal ways. And as painful as it has been I am grateful for it because I have become a better person, a better partner, and a better mother because of it. I have grown and become a better me. A person I am proud of and a person who is more comfortable in her own skin. And I have a marriage that is better than I believed would ever be possible. Does this mean that in 365 days I was able to “fix this”? Heck no. Does this mean I have a perfect relationship? No. Does this mean we will be together forever? I think the opportunity for that has increased tremendously but I no longer try to look for guarantees because there really are none for this type of thing.

What I do know for sure is that once again B is at camp for the week and this time when he left my heart was filled and my brain was quite. For this time around, I have a confidence in myself  and a belief that together we can conquer those things that are holding us back. Things may not be perfect but they are getting better everyday and that is really all you can hope/work for. But perhaps the most important thing is that I am happy, really happy, and sometimes even joyful. I am becoming who I want to be as I enter into my mid 50’s and discover what it is that is really important to me and what I can leave behind.

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So thank you for sharing this journey with me. I am sure there have been times you have wanted to kick me in the ass. I am sure there are times where you would have liked to have screamed “WAKE UP.”  But believe me I have felt your loving arms wrap around me and hold me close when there was no one around to do so. And for that I will be eternally grateful!

 

While The Cat’s Away…

Okay, if I am honest here the whole “DRESS UP FOR YOUR MAN” thing weirds me out a little, especially at my age.  When I was 20 I could pull it off because…well…I was 20! Yet, as a feminist dressing up for a man often feels degrading and so out-datedly contrived. And as a mother.. yuck…just yuck…thinking that someday the men in my three daughter’s lives will be oglingimages-9 them as they flounce about in an effort to try to please their husbands.imgres

 

Yet, I do recognize the fact that men are visual creatures and that after being married for so many years that sex can become a tad boring imgres-2 unless you do something to spice it up a bit. But what to wear without looking like a chubby little schoolgirlgirls-skipping-school-costume that really sends a really perverted message?images-14 It is always a dilemma for a not-so-skinny 50 + year old woman. images-18

 

So I decided while the cat’s away this mouse will play…with different styles of sex-wear. I’m starting with the easiest first…stockings.

Frankly, I was surprised at the variety of stockings that are available these days. When I was 20 years-old fishnets were really risque and only the “bad” girls wore them. Now perhaps I should have been “bad” a little more often so I have decided to regress and try these on for size.

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I mean seriously if these don’t catch a man’s eye he is stone cold dead.images-3 But frankly, it would be helpful if the manufacturer included a tutorial on how to put these on so the seam goes STRAIGHT up the back of your legs instead of swerving side to side like a cheap drunk.

FISHNETS have come a long way baby! My oh my, the choices are mind numbing these days. Bows, lace, and streamers are now standard fishing gear allowing you to reach even lower depths than before.

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I have to stop here to confess that I’ve always wondered why these types of stockings are called fishnets. (Yes, those ARE the crazy questions that keep my mind spinning out of control) Yet, as I wrote this, it occurred to me that wearing fishnets have one purpose and one purpose only….trolling for fish… and once you catch that fish in your net it is yours until you decide to throw it back. In this case, size really does influence that decision.

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I never knew until today that you could buy stockings with writing on them. What a great idea! I know a lot of women who would like TALK TO MY LAWYER climbing the back of their legs as they were walking away from their cheater husbands. zu6932816_main_tm1388876938YOU DON’T DESERVE ME and FUCK YOU would probably be other popular choices.

 

There are also the RICH BITCH hose. I propose that any woman who wears these sparklers should demand a real diamond for each of the fake ones that grace her legs.zu6295865_main_tm1390849776

 

 

Then there are the WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST thigh highs. zu6369623_main_tm1385773170You’ll have to buy your own flying monkeys if you want to add an element of danger to your sex life.

There are also the sentimental I LOVE YOU type of nylons.zu20591130_main_tm1414434537 Somehow I imagine this just wouldn’t look good on a 50+ year-old broad and I shudder to think of being in a car accident and having the paramedics cutting them off with an onslaught of rubberneckers witnessing this kinky event. I am sure that those paramedics would never be able to work again due to the trauma they had endured.

Finally, a burning question that I have always had is this… do stockings go with flats? I have bad knees and wearing shoes like the models wear  would bring me to my knees which, I confess, is probably where my husband would like to see me, if you know what I mean. But seriously, doesn’t it look like something is missing here?    images-22

So I am off to the store for some sexy seven story high stilettos, a knee brace, and a tube of Ben Gay. I  can only hope that I don’t fall off of them as I greet B at the door wearing almost nothing but a red face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Is A Choice

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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.

 

A Weekend Of Promise

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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.