marriage

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Advice For a Happy Marriage

ahappymarriage

I took this photo yesterday in Starbucks and posted it on Instagram with the caption, “for tomorrow we cleanse. . .” not realizing that the paper beneath my cup sums up my advice for a happy marriage. “Talk things out. (have a ) sense of humor. (Sometimes) cut a rug.”

Serendipity.

Oh, and the definition of true love this week is agreeing to a cleanse because your adorable husband doesn’t want to do one alone. It might also be the definition for divorce by day 6.

A Good Man

youngpicturestrip

 

Would it surprise you to know that I am a sucker for reality dating shows? I’m not ardent: I tend to google results after about 3 episodes and go back to watching true crime — but I’ll give most dating shows a glance at least once.  So when this Spring’s utter rating failure (it’s not a good thing when your executive producer takes up with one of the contestants mid-show) promised to feature “DATING COACHES” I could not look away.

At one point, the only male coach on the show gave this bit of advice:  ”When a man offers you his jacket and you refuse it, you’re depriving him a chance to feel like a man. YOU think you’re being nice not making him suffer being cold. HE doesn’t see it that way.”

Wait. What? Really?

I promptly paused the show and went and asked IZ. “Is this true? Do guys really think that?”

IZ smiled, “Yeah, kinda. I don’t know if all men think like that, but it’s true for me: I do want to go out of my way for you. And doing those kinds of things makes me feel more like a man. It’s not because you CAN’T do those things for yourself, I just feel good about myself when I do them for you.”

Um.

How did I miss this memo?

In all my years of insisting on getting my own door and refusing jackets — or any of those little acts of chivalry — I’ve missed the point. Those  acts were just as much about him as they were about me. And that doesn’t make him sexist or lacking in empathy — it made him human. A man in love.   A man in love with me.  Walter. Tango. Foxtrot. I am an idiot.

In my own defense, dating IZ as a teenager didn’t make matters easy. He opened doors for EVERYONE. And there were times when I honestly thought he would mow me over to get to the door before me. I don’t recall ever seeing my father open a door for my mother, so I didn’t have a frame of reference. And the look that would come over IZ as he would eye down the doorway– it was clear he was on a mission and getting in his way was not a good idea.

That irked me. At 19 I was determined to shake off the sexist “women are lesser” film I had clinging to my skin. As much as he was determined on being a “gentleman” I was hell-bent to not need him to be. This was war. And, because he knows when to let things go, he finally relented. “Fine, get your own door” when I explained yet again that I was WOMAN, I can DO. THIS. MYSELF.

The years would progress and my reasoning (about the doors anyway) became more about practicality. It seemed ridiculous for one of us to get drenched holding a car door. “That’s fine, I’ll meet you inside.”

And then I read this beautiful piece of writing by James Stafford. It’s a love letter really, entitled “You Know You Could Have Been A Candle” — written to the woman he loves. You can read it over on The Good Men Project. And you should, read it. It’s stunning.  A small paragraph has stuck with me this week. He writes:

 I love that you let me adore you. I shouldn’t complain, but it’s hard sometimes to be a man. I’m not your boss, your competition, or your coworker. I’m not The Man trying to keep you down or put you in your place. I just want to open the door for you because it’s polite. I want to pick up the check, open the jars, hold your hand. There’s no gender politics at work. That you realize that says everything about your character.

Gulp.

It’s taken me 20+ years to realize his impulse to adore me has as much to do with how he was raised as the fact that he does, indeed, adore me.   20 + years for me to let him be the man he truly is: willing to set aside his own argument for the sake of mine. Even though, in this particular case, my argument was misguided. It’s taken 20+ years to realize that it has nothing to do with making me “less”. If anything, I am more for having been loved by a good man. The why of that love, well, that’s beyond my comprehension.

But it is not beyond my amazement. The very memory of his 16 year old self, running to get my door leaves me breathless. I wish I had had the character then to appreciate the gesture at the time. The grace to have said , “Thank you” in the moment. Somehow, I stumbled into loving a good man while reaching for my own door — who, for reasons only he can explain, loves me enough to let me be wrong.


The photo strip was taken on IZ’s 21st birthday–which was 22 years ago this week.

Grow A Pair

Overheard at my house:

I don’t know. It’s this stabby pain in my ovary. It’s relentless.
~Oh, I hate it when that happens.
You hate it when your ovaries hurt? You have those now?
~I have sympathetic ovaries. . . I grew a pair.

He thinks he’s so funny. Of course, me falling down in the kitchen laughing only encourages him.

Take The Money And Run

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Wedding Toes

 

IZ and I marked 23 years of marriage on Sunday. Because it was also Father’s Day we are celebrating later this month. Though, that didn’t stop him from surprising me with flowers and a card. He’s a romantic. Was then, is now.

But the date has me in a reflective mood. And then a friend posted a link to this article on facebook today, ” Scrap the Satin and the Tulle: Why Your Wedding is Probably NOT Going to Be the Best Day of Your Life.”  I found myself nodding along with most of it. Most of it. Because, unlike the author and her premise, I didn’t have any notions that my wedding day would be the best day of my life.

I didn’t even want a wedding.

What started as a tiny little service at City hall, and then turned into a simple garden wedding at a friend’s home, finally morphed into 200+ invitations to our “closest” friends for a ceremony held in possibly the least attractive  church around.

(The downside of warehouse churches: they don’t make for pretty pictures. The upside: they will hold the masses and keep people without an invitation from “peering through the windows” because there is room for everyone to get an invitation! Seriously, this is not vanity. I was told that if I went ahead with my “tiny little family wedding” that members of our church would show up to watch through the windows. I don’t think they were kidding.)

I would have been happy on the beach, exchanging our vows with just each other maybe a friend or two? Or if family HAD to be included, then no cameras and lots of flowers and just those people directly related to us. IZ was not convinced, “Define directly related to us. . . ”  Heart sink.

We planned for 16 months. In part because we were only 19 when we got engaged and there were certain parental forces who were SURE it was just a passing notion. A long engagement was probably seen as a fool proof way of making sure we didn’t stumble into a mistake. A good idea, though I resented it at the time. I’ve seen our pictures from that year. We were children! However,  I took it as a challenge and found myself a quintessential bride walking down an aisle in June. JUNE, for crying out loud: could I have been a bigger  cliche?

I rebelled in my own way. My bridesmaids wore black and sliver. That’s not a big deal now, but in 1990 in our small town it arched a few brows. I resisted every tradition I could find. We walked to “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” and “Variations on a Theme by Handel”.  I didn’t carry roses. I didn’t wear white.

We planned, but it wasn’t the wedding I wanted. It was the wedding everyone else needed. Was I a bridezilla? I don’t think so, but I’m pretty sure I have family members who would disagree!! Did mothers run amok and mother-in-laws create chaos? Check and check. Did we have an inept premarital councilor? Uh huh. But I wasn’t disappointed because I expected this to be the best day of my life. My inner 3 year old just didn’t want to BE there.

At some point in the process, a certain skeptical parent realized I wasn’t giving in about the whole getting married thing and made an offer that made utter sense to me: “Instead of spending the money, you could take the money and run.” He was offering to let me elope.

Now, we did not spend $45,000 on our wedding. I think even that amount would have made my romantic IZ (who desperately wanted a wedding. He cries at Disney movies too. We mock him mercilessly.) think twice. But the 2 grand my father was willing to pony up didn’t even make him pause.

“Are you sure? We could take a lovely holiday with that money. . . or pay rent for 4 months!”

Blink Blink.

In fact, I think that might have been the first time he “blinked blinked” me. I should have known then, this would become his “holding” pattern when he is set on doing something and in no mood to discuss it.

So, we had a wedding.  I walked down the aisle. He fought tears and blushed. I consented to smiling for photos and not complaining about my picture being taken. He stepped on my veil all afternoon. But he also never left my side, holding my hand through all the extroverted exchanges I’m rubbish at. And he smiled. Constantly. In every photo he is the picture of joy unleashed on the world.

weddingphoto23

See!

Was it the best day of my life? No. But then, I’m probably not the person you should be asking.

We’re moving closer to 25 years. He asked me last year, “Do you want to renew our vows on our 25th wedding anniversary? Have the wedding you wanted?” I have considered it. I started a pinterest board for the event. I’ve contemplated everything I would do differently: a better photographer, less pomp more party, flowers everywhere. It’s a beautiful vision. A beautiful wedding. A do-over?

Or.

We could just take the money and run.

 

The Good, The Beautiful, The Bliss

This photo was taken for a photo tour of my house a few years back. But I go back to it often, because it sums us up. On the porch, having tea, together. 


In a few short days (Saturday) IZ and I will celebrate 22 years together. Married.  We don’t count those years before because that number is getting ridiculously large!

Wedded bliss? Um, sometimes.

Wedded strife? Um, sometimes.

Mostly, it’s two people committed to striving together. And that in itself, is a beautiful thing.

It’s the nature of marriages, any marriage. You bump into things you weren’t expecting. Life hands you lemons. You make lemonade or margaritas. You squabble. You row. You fight. You endeavor toward intimacy. And it’s not always pretty.

But I choose to write about the good. The beautiful. The bliss. And I will continue to do so, despite the recent impulse of the  blogosphere to bare its soul. While I applaud the willingness of bloggers to get real and share the hard stuff. To forsake, if only for a few moments, the urge to “pretty it up” and make it seem presentable. When it comes to my marriage, I blog the beauty.

I’ll show you my laundry. And the works in progress. And weeds in the yard along with the before pictures and the posts about failed recipes. I’ll tell you that I struggle with my weight and staying on task and being charitable to neighbors who kill my roses.

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Our Picture

Will you let me take our picture?


“Will you let me take our picture?”

“Sure? What should I do?”

“Just hold my hand.”


My head is a jumbled mess. I’ve been reading some amazing writing* online. Which is a blessing and a relief. Good writing always is. But it also reminds me that I’ve not been writing on this blog, not really.

To my mind, blogging and writing are different things. They often converge and that’s lovely. But not always. Me putting up a picture with a few words below it is blogging, barely. I wouldn’t call it writing.  You might not agree with the distinction, but I’m loath to use language like “real” or “good” or heaven forbid, “literary” to describe the difference. Wait, wait, you’ll know (real) writing when you read it? I’m not sure that’s even true with Porn, so um, no on writing. You can see how I’m consoling myself, right?

Traipsing through my archives might make the point better. I’m not observing anymore. Let’s face it, every new blogger has a tank full of observations just waiting to get out. Crawling to the surface, it’s blood lust, to put the words on paper. But eventually, you run out of a steady stream of lovely turns of phrases and witty antidotes about standing in the grocery line at Whole Foods. Your three year old grows up. You sleep again, the words no longer playing bouncy house in your subconscious.

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A Little Romance

Found this on Pinterest and then spent an hour looking for the original source. I can’t locate it. . . but if you know, please tell me!

A Little Romance:

I love Valentine’s Day. Always have, always will. Even when I was a love sick teenager pining for a boy who didn’t know I was alive, the day was a good day.

I’m blessed to be married to a Romantic. Yes, with a capital letter. IZ is a fan of the grand gesture (hello, favorite painting for my birthday). He covers holidays and birthdays and “events” with a lot of style. It doesn’t hurt that he’s an amazing chef. . . we eat well, and food is love in these parts. (It’s a Larsen thing, no lectures) I’m blessed and spoiled and thankful.

Then there’s the rest of the year. IZ would like you and me to believe that he has that covered too. That he is a master of the “little thing”. Those small tokens we tend to over-look because they become so much a part of our everyday life. In fact, he’d tell you everything he does is romantic by definition.

This is where we quibble. Our on going conversation looks like this:

IZ: “See, this is me being romantic. I brought in all the groceries from the car.”

Me: “Um. Thoughtful. YES. Romantic? I’m not sold, buddy. I mean, by that account, my doing laundry is romantic.”

IZ: “It is romantic. Being thoughtful is romantic.”

Me: “Well, it sure doesn’t feel romantic.”

He does this with every chore you can imagine. And often and our conversation is the same.  I can’t help but think he’s pushing the definition. . . just a bit. But then I remember all those heady days of early marriage and wonder? Everything was romantic then. . .doing dishes and laundry and grocery shopping. Maybe it’s a time thing. Because what was once romantic in the early years, is, well, now a big old chore. An age thing? Holy Cow, an “I’m getting OLD” thing.

I can’t win here. So, is IZ right? Is it romantic because he says it is? Or is romance in the eye of the beholder? Because there are sure a lot of you who poo-poo Valentine’s Day and no amount of cheering on from my side of the field will change your mind. Valentine’s Day isn’t romantic to you.

And maybe that’s the catch and the solution. Maybe it’s about perspective. Maybe it’s about choice.

Those groceries unloaded from the car. Romantic.

Those mochas every day when I wake up? Romantic.

Door held, hands held, long talks, long walks, time spent together smiling and arguing. Romantic.

Laundry? Um, I can’t get there. But the rest of it, I’m willing to open my eyes and see the heart giving it all to me. And that, my friends, might be how you keep the romance alive.

Here’s an interesting article from USA Today on people who are “Intensely in love” after years of marriage. Worth a read, I think. . .

When You’re Sick: Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup:

Poor IZ is sick. He’s still plugging away at work (the joys of working at home) but I’ve been taking up the cooking duties for the past few days. Monday, I did this dish on the side of the couscous box that was a hit. Hardly “cooking” as much as following directions. But I did add my own twist of walnuts and myzithra cheese—hanging out with IZ in the kitchen has clearly rubbed off on me.

But yesterday, he was feeling so poorly, I knew a “Chicken With” meal wasn’t going to cut it. “How about soup?” And with a snuffled nod we were on.

Now, I have a history with soup. I don’t make it. Ever.  Not after a disastrous encounter with homemade acorn squash soup in 2007. How bad was it?  Not even IZ could muster a pity bowl and he’s got a cast iron gag reflex. My child was not so diplomatic: “WHAT IS THIS . . . STUFF?! This is horrible. The worst soup ever. What are doing to us, MOM?”  Or something to that effect because I remember promptly ordering a pizza and calling it quits. It was that bad. That night we  all made a silent deal between us: the only soup Wende would be making from here on out was reheating IZ’s leftovers. Done!

That should give you some indication how sick IZ is presently.

I started with this recipe from 365 Days of Slow Cooking but then got serious about the modifications (though, it’s still plenty fattening). I’m sorry, but I blanch at two cups of half and half. SERIOUSLY? Um, no.  So, I modified and tested  and modified some more and served. . . and my teenager, who hates all things tomato, ate two servings. “Brilliant and thank you!”

I’m not sure what I’m more excited about. . . that I made soup or that the 15 year old said, “You can make this again.”  His father seemed equally pleased. He’s still sick, so this soup won’t cure all that ails you. But, it comes pretty darn close.

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Probably TMI

He said, “I remember thinking I should stop before I leave a mark.”

The Christmas Spirit

Tiny vintage floral pick—Santa is hanging out in the packaging area of Mireio reminding me of the Christmas Spirit all year long.

December 1, 2011

It’s brisk and bright—classic late autumn weather to usher in December. A month of season changes and celebrations. An ending to a year.

How did we get to December? This year has been a whirlwind.

We are encamped in our living room—and I’m sitting in our bed (where our sofa should be) writing this and wondering, “Where in the heck am I going to put a Christmas Tree?”  No, seriously, I’m asking. The living room and the contents of my closet are now in the dining room.  To complicate matters new carpets are scheduled to be installed on the main floor right before New Years. So, I’m trying to figure out how I’m supposed to get all this put back together, put up a tree, only to take it right back down again.

I’m going to pitch the idea of a bathroom tree to the boys later today, but you know that’s not going to fly.

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