Posts Tagged ‘marriage’
Confession: our house is always a mess. Lately, I can’t keep up and frankly, I haven’t even been trying. Sometimes, life is just busy and you don’t get to choose what falls to the wayside.
However, I do hit my limit eventually. And Friday night, as I headed to bed I looked at IZ and said, “I can’t walk tomorrow–this house has to be cleaned.”
I wish I could say I was one of those people who kept up with cleaning on a daily basis. But, other than making sure the dishes are done every night, I’m not. For the most part, I’ve accepted that this isn’t my strong suit. My gifts and graces do not include ” keeping an immaculate house” and I’m ok with that.
What I will tell you, though, is that I adore a clean house. Who doesn’t really? There is something so hopeful about looking around your space and seeing everything, ok mostly everything, in its proper place. Sure, keeping up with these chores daily would mean not spending an entire Saturday to remedy the mess–but, oh is the effort worth it. Even if it’s done all on one exhausting day.
I woke up yesterday to find IZ and Geo watching anime in the living room. As I began to clean, IZ said, “Don’t worry about the kitchen.” And then he booted our son into his room to clean it and began to clean the kitchen. He did all the floors too. Which meant that I actually had enough steam at the end of the day to tackle the laundry in its various stages of undone.
Clean sheets, vacuumed floors, fresh flowers — it doesn’t take much to remind me how much I love living in this house. Despite the unpainted walls and crumbling carpets. But a man who doesn’t let you clean alone, is priceless.
Last week IZ whisked me off to Cannon Beach for 2 nights. It was lovely. It’s been ages (since our son was 6?) since we’ve been alone in a hotel room together. We’ve just not had people in our world to leave our child with. The few times we did, when Geo was younger, we would come home to be inundated with tales of how “hard” it was for the caregiver. Stream of consciousness complaint, right as we hit the door. Sigh.
Nothing spoils that getaway zen like coming home to kid angst. Sure, I get it: he was a handful– kinda why his parents needed a little R&R, right? Your two days of dealing with a high energy kid hardly trumps my day to day existence. But, thanks for reminding me.
After the last get away, I looked at IZ and said, “I’m not going away until it’s no longer abuse to leave my kid on his own. And remind me to keep my mouth shut when I find myself in this situation with my own grandchildren!”
So, we traveled with the kid. Everywhere. And that wasn’t a bad thing. We’re a happy trio, we enjoy exploring together. It can be fun and exciting and worthwhile.
What it is not, is romantic. Children have a sixth sense about romance: the minute you start to get frisky or intimate, you’ll find you’re not alone by a long shot. (A related aside, how people co-sleep with toddlers is beyond me!) Little eyes are on you. Little bodies step between you. Little voices want attention. Excuse me, I was talking to your dad!
And it’s all good, because that’s the beauty of parenting. Sex is overrated, right? Half consumed coffee, unfinished conversations, is that glass of wine for me? Exhaustion and missing showers is the norm, the beautiful, glorious, norm.
I wouldn’t trade those days. But I won’t lie, the benefits to having college aged children are starting to dawn on me.
One of those benefits is that it isn’t abuse to leave them on their own! It’s not only NOT abuse, it’s easy. Granted, we were 40 minutes down the road, but I was more concerned over how the dog would fair than how the kid was getting on. (she has dementia and needs her routine!) Other than a few instant messages to check in on how the dog was doing, my child wasn’t on my mind. Instead, this beautiful man and I spent the time reconnecting. Dreaming and laughing and remembering what it was like when it was just us.
For the record, the world did not come to an end. The house wasn’t trashed, our son got himself to and from school without any mishaps, and the dog met us at the door and seemed completely unconcerned that we’d gone missing for 2 days.
And taped to the front door when we arrived was this:
I’m liking what’s on the horizon.
This lovely man and I are about to celebrate 24 years of marriage in just a short month. And I’ve been reminiscing with him on our long walks this week–it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come.
Just today, in one of those random moments of serendipity, we ran into the inn keepers of one of our favorite Bed and Breakfast places on Whidbey Island while walking along the Riverfront. We had been guests in their home 20 years ago, in the very early days of our marriage. They were on a cruise excursion and we all stood around being amazed at how small our world truly is. I couldn’t help but think about all the anniversaries we spent at their place — who we were in those days. Who we are now.
Today, I would probably rewrite the first line of the post below (which originally ran on Evidently in 2006!!) but the rest still holds. It’s still the most fitting description of our marriage that I can find. So, as we approach the month mark: with the realization that I’ll probably have much more to say on marriage and love in the coming weeks — I thought I’d share this with you.
This, and the nutty photo of my adorable husband mocking me for taking our photo on our date night. Never let it be said I don’t keep it real.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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?
We could just take the money and run.
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.
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. Â 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.