My Rock

Guest Post on Mommy Miracles

Writing Vows

When you are the kind of person who says things like, “I’d rather have an engagement car than an engagement ring.” (Practical to a fault? Maybe.) you really hope those words are taken to heart.

You don’t say these things lightly and you don’t say them to be dramatic or facetious. You say them because you mean them.

And just to be clear, when I say, “you say them” I mean, “I say them”.

 

I mean what I say and I say what I mean and, despite the obvious (possibly blatant?) blog reference, I really do try to temper my words with kindness. You simply never know when the words you speak will be the last words someone hears.

I know this sounds like a very heavy or dark thought, but this is what I think about when I leave someone with a good, squeezy hug and an “I love you”. I assure you I reserve it for people I really do love. No need to worry about the crazy lady hugging random receptionists and telling cashiers that she loves them (at least not so far), but really, would that be so bad? (Well, yes. Admittedly, it would be very weird, but the world needs more “I love you”s and hugs, wouldn’t you agree? But I digress …)

Just think about it, though, if you will. Think quickly back to the last argument or squabble you had with your beloved. Was it something major or minor? Was it an earth shattering, we have got to get this figured out or we are doomed dilemma? Was it a Til Debt Do Us Part repartee? Were there skeletons jumping out of all the closets, demanding to be buried once and for all?

Or were you bickering about butter*? Was the last straw the last empty TP holder? Was yet another can of green beans about to cause you to come undone? Maybe more mustard made you mad?

Whatever it was, I’m willing to bet that if you didn’t run screaming from the room, it was simply not that big a deal. Forgotten. Forgiven. Moving on.

I would hate (and I reserve that word for very special situations) for the last words I say to my husband to be something to the effect of, “Oh for the love of all that is good and holy (wordy much?) why did you buy more mustard? NO MORE MUSTARD EVER!” (in my best Joan Crawford) or “Why can’t you just put the stupid bathroom tissue on the roll for once? I wouldn’t expect it to be done the *right* way or anything, but just once! Gah!” *heavy sigh* *Hermione Granger eye roll*

I mean, picture the ridiculousness of it all.

Can you imagine if your last conversation was about mustard?

I can’t control when that last conversation will be, but unless we are laughing about the multitude of shared ridiculousnesses (Totally made up a new word just then! Go me!) throughout our many, many, many years together, I hope to heavens that it is not about mustard.

We have already had so many.

 

Better yet, we have conversations about everything. There is no greater joy than talking with someone who really listens and cares about what you have to say. It’s a gift to still be able to talk into the wee hours, solving the problems of the world. There are certainly enough of those lately to keep us talking for a very long time.

It is an even greater gift, to be able to make each other laugh out loud on a daily basis. Not just polite oh-you-told-a-good-one-honey-insert-laugh-here laughs, but knee-slapping-belly-laughing-can’t-catch-my-breath guffaws.

There is nothing like the thrill of being able to make my husband laugh his big, LOUD, booming laugh. It’s especially awesome when I catch him off guard with a quip or a real zinger of a pun.

When he “gets me good”? I go silent. I can’t help it. Blame genetics. My face turns as red as a tomato, my mouth flies open like a Muppet, but no sound comes out. My shoulders shake. No. My shoulders laugh. Tears stream. This happens more than I care to admit. Often during family game nights.

Seriously, the last time we played Munchkin with the kids (Thing 1 & Thing 2) I was laughing so hard that we had to take a break. Thing 2 came to console me and my shaking shoulders. (She is so kind!) And just when I would start to feel mellow enough to play again, I would start giggling and that was it! Back to the silent, shoulder shake I’d go!

See? Ridiculousness.

It’s perpetual.

It’s not that everything is perfect (There’s a silly word!). Not at all.

Throughout our time together we have had to face adversity, just like any couple that is together for a long time, but thankfully we have always come out the other side a bit wiser, a bit stronger and with our senses of humour firmly intact.

 

I am just thankful that for the most part our collective ridiculousness has kept us laughing.

 

 

Now, I feel compelled to share with you my (engagement) rock.

Oh yes, after all the practicality and mind melding and seeing eye-to-eye on “stuff”, of *course* I received a rock.

See?

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I don’t know what the secret to a long, happy marriage is. I don’t. I won’t pretend to. I am way too practical (and honest) for that.

What I do know is that when I say something and the person I love most in the world** believes me, I feel respected, honoured and loved.

It’s been 15 years and I can tell you without hesitation that there is a LOT of respect, honour and love happening around here.

 

I got a rock.

I couldn’t be happier.

 

*Butter has a special place in my marriage because when we were first married, I gave my husband a greeting card that showed a cartoon man looking into a fridge that was filled to the brim with little packages of butter. On the inside it read, “Hon, where’s the butter?”. Hah! Still funny to me after all these years.

**My husband. To be clear.

Writing Vows

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An Open Letter to our Children About Marriage

Guest Post on Mommy Miracles

Writing Vows

Boys,

We’ve been married almost 15 years, and you are all growing fast. We’d like to give you some unsolicited (is there any other kind from parents?) advice. Here’s the thing. Who you choose to spend your life with is probably the single most important decision you will make. And though you are only 12, 10, 7 and 5 years old, it is not actually too soon to start learning about how to choose that person wisely and treat her (or him) well.

Marriage – and life – is about balance. In the interest of that balance, your father and I each have for you five truths we’ve learned that we want you to keep in mind as you create your own expectations for your adult lives.

Mom’s truths:

  1. I hope, when you consider marrying a person you love, that you will picture the wonderful moments you may have together (like a wedding, babies, vacations, fun). I want you to also picture the hard moments, like losing a job, or when your Dad or I die, and make sure this is still the person you want next to you in those times.
  2. No one is psychic. If you need something, you’re going to have to say so.
  3. When your feelings get hurt in your marriage (and they will) first assume that your partner did not do that on purpose. Assuming the best of your spouse will make it easier to talk about and easier to make up.
  4. When you fight (and you will), only argue about what is happening now. No name calling and no old grudges.
  5. Lust is not the same as love. Lust does matter, but love and perseverance matter even  more, and will often lead you happily back to lust.

Dad’s truths:

  1. Just like we play “What if” with you and your brothers to see if you’re ready for a new privilege, your mom and I played “What if” when we were dating. We did this to see how the other person would handle the changes and challenges of a lifelong relationship. Don’t skip this step.
  2. People change as time goes on. Find a partner who is flexible enough to change with you and that you love enough to change with them.
  3. If there is something you want that you’re not getting from your spouse, first make sure they don’t feel that same way.
  4. Relationships work best when both partners know that the other person won’t try to hurt them even when they’re angry. So don’t.
  5. The way your parents treat each other sets up a strong expectation you look for as you get older. That means, if you want your children (someday) to pick a great partner, you need to treat your own spouse well.

An open letter to our children about marriage by the Drs. G on Mommy-Miracles.com

If the person you choose is the most important decision you’ll make, then how you treat that person is the most important work you’ll do. Like any skill that you pursue and want to improve, you’ll need coaches. In each phase of this work – the choosing, the marrying, and then (hardest of all) the staying married – you will need mentors.

Many people are drawn to danger and drama. If you find yourself in a phase like that, be careful! A lot of these decisions will affect the rest of your life.

Look around you. Find the couples that you believe have chosen wisely and treat their partner well. Watch, ask, learn from them. And when you face a decision point, go to those people and seek their counsel. No one knows what the future will hold, but a good coach can really help.

Writing Vows

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Music Magic Murder

Guest Post on Mommy Miracles

Writing Vows

I wish someone had told me before marriage what marriage was “really” like. The best way I can describe it for those wishing to enter into matrimony is it is the greatest example of devotion melded with unrelenting, imagined schizophrenia. One minute you love and adore your spouse. And then mere hours later you can experience a desire to murder so viciously you wonder about your capability to pull it off. Will someone see? Do the local police use those CSI blue lights to find blood? Music, magic, murder, mostly. Seriously, it’s not that extreme. Mostly. I’m being facetious. Mostly. I love him and would never trade him. Ever.

That’s what marriage is: a blurring of devotion and cold blooded, premeditated murder.

He washes dishes and puts the knives in the drain handle-down. You think I’ll be so silly as to impale my wrist, vertically? He eats things I planned to take to work for lunch. He washes lights with darks. He doesn’t SEE the things I see: our bathroom sink got grubby and grimy for more than two weeks, because I wanted to see how long it’d take him to clean it. I succumbed and cleaned it, but that doesn’t means I’m destined to clean it forever. It means that I chose to not say something about the sink and now it’s filthy. Forget about the why. Why didn’t he clean it? Why did he wait until I did it? Why is it a showdown over who can tolerate the most filth? I can’t answer any of these things definitively, certainly not outside of my own marriage. I commented about the sink and he said oh. I said I’d cleaned it, finally, and he said ok, almost dumbfounded. I asked why he hadn’t. Which sink are we talking about again, he asked.

He does more for our family than you can imagine, more than I’ll probably ever tell you.

Music Magic Murder | Writing Vows by Arnebya

We’re in year 12. We deal with financial struggles, miscommunication, children, taxes, and someone drinking the last of the orange juice and not saying anything. We deal with who does what in the house and who’s keeping score. We deal with I only like Yopa yogurt, not Chobani, and if you’d just listen, you’d remember. We deal with tonight, baby, absolutely tonight, with winks and crotch glances, but then dinner, kids’ bedtime, sofa, tired. Maybe tomorrow.

We are surrounded by divorces of friends whose marriages we thought were fine. But that’s key: just like you will never know the inner workings of another’s marriage, never should you allow anyone too much entry into yours. It was 2004. My husband’s family wanted to take our young girls to Disney World. I hadn’t yet looked at my schedule at work and was incensed that it seemed like they were planning to take them without me. The girls were maybe 3 and 1. Their first plane ride, without me? I went to my group of friends, emailing all the wrongness. I may have said how dare he/they. My husband saw the email. I can’t recall a time more disappointing than that one, in regard to letting others into a marital situation/decision. My friends’ responses were jokes, but read from his point of view, both I and they were rude and uncaring.

Don’t get me wrong; spouses need a safe place to vent, but not degrade. The thing is, most people you confide in think you’re looking for advice. Sometimes you just want to bitch about your husband and leave it at that. The first time I let something slip to a friend she said, “Oh, I wouldn’t tolerate that. You should leave.” Um, he took more than 10 minutes to pick me up from the subway. It was raining, I got wet, and it was cold. I’m just complaining. Can I not just complain about a situation he didn’t create, but could have made easier? I have puddles in my shoes, yes, but divorce him over it? It puts things into perspective, makes you see how pointless the argument or initial feelings were. Or, if not pointless, because your feelings deserve to be acknowledged, then you get at least a different perspective. I laughed about the soggy shoes later.

Sometimes, when the dishes aren’t done, he’s been snoring, I’m up early, and he sleeps in, I imagine how easy it would be to smother him. Would it be easy? I don’t know, I’ve never tried. That’s pride in my voice. It doesn’t mean I don’t still love him.

He buys Safeway brand pasta sauce when I write Prego on the list. How would you like me to smash this nasty, generic sauce upside your head?

Be willing to be the one to accept that everything isn’t going to be in your favor. Try harder. Now, I’m not saying every marriage can be salvaged through therapy. And I’m certainly not saying in instances of abuse or absolute incompatibility, that one should simply try harder, or even that murderous desires will disappear. I’m just saying that over the years I’ve learned some of what I fight for and about simply isn’t worth it. Think before you type or say something disparaging about your spouse. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not going the whole wife to husband submission crap. I would say the same to a man talking about his wife. The sanctimony of marriage will always be between the two of you. It transcends everything else, parenting included, mothers-in-law included (mine is awesome). Think before you say something that can be misconstrued. Oh, but to muddy the waters further, in that moment of you typing or speaking about what your spouse has done (this time) to irritate you, you are probably the least likely to award your spouse any kind of leniency. Just think first. And hope that your friend understands that your complaints are situational, not demonstrative of your marriage as a whole.

I said be ready by 7:00. The movie starts at 7:30. Why in the absolute hell is he not even dressed at 6:55? Are we going to fly there? Will Scotty beam us up?

There will be times, no matter how long you are married – two years to 20 – when you have zero damns to give about how your partner will feel when you say something cruel, tell a friend about a situation in a light unfavorable to your partner. But it’s in those times that you need to temper your anger with care.

One of the best comments I’ve heard about marriage is from my mother-in-law: if it were easy, everyone would be able to do it.

I still see him and my breath will catch. I still see him and want to pull him into an embrace that says it all: I love you, I need you, I’m in this for the long haul, I was right all along, please wash the dishes, and I’m not really going to kill you. Today.

Writing Vows

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