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Secrets of Marriage

24 May

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A few years ago, I heard someone say that married people should not have any secrets from each other.

I disagree.

Some secrets are harmful, it is true — sneaky, deceptive secrets. Selfish secrets.

Other secrets are simply things you don’t talk to people about.

After nearly a decade, there are things I have not told my husband. At the same time, I know there are things he has not told me. I “know” this because there are subjects he brushes over or avoids…for example, some of his military experiences. I believe this to be completely normal, and I do not see it as a problem. Sometimes people have experiences that are either too unpleasant, or too personal, or simply too unusual to try to explain to other human beings.

I think the expectation that married couples “become one” is a false concept that leads many couples to divorce.

We have different names and separate bank accounts, and some might see those choices as a sign of a lack of commitment. Not so. After nearly ten years, I still think marrying my husband is the best decision I ever made.

When I was single I used to be more spontaneous. I would sometimes feel the need for a change of scenery and I would pack a bag and drive without any plan of where I would go. I would not tell anyone. I would drive in a random direction and stop when I felt like stopping or found an interesting place. I would find a hotel and check in. I would find a restaurant and eat. I might be gone for two or three days without any contact with friends or family — but usually no one would notice I was gone, because I spent a lot of time alone anyway.

A few weeks ago I told my husband I was going to the bank and the library and would be back soon. Along the way I decided to make another stop and I was gone for a few hours. My phone was off. My husband became concerned. This was very uncharacteristic behavior for me, in his experience.

My spontaneous self would be unrecognizable to him. The wife and parent I have become does not normally act in a spontaneous manner…she likes to know in advance what will happen in her life.

There are other versions of me. Sometimes I think about the different phases of my life and how I have become a different person many times over.

My married life is my longest phase, and my happiest. I expect it to be my last phase. I think the same is true for my husband. He does not need to know every part of me to understand me or trust me, and I do not need to know every part of him.

A decade is a long time, but in the case of my marriage, it does not feel long. It just feels like home.

 

 

The Old Lighter Under the Shirt Trick

30 Jun

Reading  another blog  reminded me of something that happened in my little world recently and made me think about my first impressions of people…

One weekend, my husband and I had agreed to take a drive to help my mechanical-minded father-in-law pick up an old Jeep he was purchasing from a random seller (online). We drove him there to get the car.

Actually, first we waited for Jeepman to call back to arrange a time.

A time was set and we arrived and waited for Jeepman to return from fishing. There was a boat; there were children; there was chatting.

There was an enthusiastic pit bull that wagged her tail so hard it was like having our legs beaten with a very happy stick. Honestly, it hurt. It may have left bruises, I forgot to check.

The purchase was made. We were to follow in case the Jeep broke down.

And it did break down. About five minutes down the road.

A large pickup truck pulled up beside us, and there was an offer to tow the Jeep out of the intersection. We were towed away from traffic by the pickup guys.

I thought that was kind.

Then, the pickup guys parked and one of them got out and started trying to help fix the car so it would drive.

There was looking under the hood, there was tinkering… there was lying on the pavement underneath the back of the Jeep.

This was some real Good Samaritan stuff. Beyond kind.

I was truly surprised —  and I probably should not have been — not only because the guys took so much time to help out some complete strangers, but because the first guy I saw get out of the truck looked kind of scruffy, like a television version of a drug addict.

Stringy hair past his shoulders, missing teeth, tattoos, cigarette, worn clothes. His t-shirt had a design that seemed to blend into the tattoos on his arms.

He saw me watching him from inside our car. He grinned and waved at me. His hair was blowing everywhere. I should note that I stayed in the car because I thought it would not take long. I was wrong.

I watched as Scruffyman searched the ground after his fresh cigarette blew out of his grip. He picked it up from the sidewalk at the edge of the grass, put it in his mouth and pulled his shirt over the lower half of his face. Then he stuck his other arm under the shirt. His face emerged with a lit cigarette.

I had never seen this before.

I thought maybe he should have a hairband if he was in the habit of smoking with long hair on windy days. Seemed risky.

The Jeep got started again as I reflected on the kindness of Scruffyman.

We went a few miles before the Jeep stopped again.

This time, the Jeep was pushed by hand, and a tow service was called. We sat in my car with the windows open and the radio on. It was windy, hot, boring.

There was a deer across the street running inside an enclosed fence. It disappeared into the tall foliage as if it had never been there at all.

We waited. Sometimes the deer’s head popped up to look at us. We stared back. Sometimes we saw a bit of brown between the leaves, but mostly we saw nothing.

After about two hours of waiting, with assurances that the tow truck driver was “almost there”, we went to pick up my father-in-law’s big truck to tow the Jeep ourselves.

The day was long, but I felt my hope for humanity restored by Scruffyman and his generosity of spirit.

It was a reminder that our outsides do not reflect our insides.

 

 

 

Nothing More Than Feelings

24 Feb

This animal is expressing some feelings about my camera.

We are still talking about guns. The discussion on guns misses the point entirely, in my opinion.

I read about murders and assaults in the news nearly every day. Outside of war, most of them involve only one or two people. The police always check out family, friends, and business partners first. What does that tell you?

Why do people kill each other? Why do they assault each other?

There are a few reasons — including greed — but mostly it comes down to strong feelings that people don’t know how to handle.

I have been reading the stories for as long as I can remember…

A young woman was killed because she turned down a marriage proposal.

A girl’s hair was set on fire by a peer who was not invited to a party.

A man set his son on fire because of a divorce/custody dispute.

The stories are different but they are all the same.

People who cannot accept emotional pain. People who cannot live with having been wronged. People who judge others, who blame others, who want to punish others.

These are the people who commit violence on a daily basis.

Gun regulation is easier to accomplish than emotional regulation.

But…emotional regulation is the only solution.

Teach your children how to process their feelings. Teach them that they are stronger than they think. Show them examples of those who have overcome adversity, those who are happy in spite of all that has gone wrong with their lives, those who are loved when they thought they were unloveable.

Teach them the meaning of the word NO.

Teach them to work through their disappointment, shame, or humiliation.

Teach them that pain is temporary, just like joy.

Teach them that others are vulnerable, just as they are.

Teach them that anger can be productive or destructive.

Teach them that negative emotions are part of life and must be recognized and managed.

Sometimes Those Good Things Do Not Happen, But Other Good Things Do

30 Mar

I had one of those days today.

You know…those days when something very simple is expected to happen, only it doesn’t happen, and the simple thing not-happening means that those grand things that would have made your life so much brighter are also NOT happening.

And still the sun shines, and the flowers bloom, and the children laugh, and a guy named Mike publishes a blog post called Welcome to Blue Sky, Rhode Island. Population: One Totally Plibbed-Out Sixth Grade Girl Who Goes by The Name of None-of-Your-Beeswax-if-That’s-Okay-With-You-Mister-Flibbertijeepers and it surprises the heck out of me with its creativity, widening my eyes and possibly my horizons. (When you read Mike’s post — because you must read it — be sure to notice the tags at the bottom.)

Life is beautiful, even if you are hiding in the closet and feeling plibbed-out.

~ACS

Charmed

22 Feb Stinson pix 6-10 027

Charm is the quality in others that makes us more satisfied with ourselves.

~   Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881)

A charming person has a natural talent, a gift for elevating others from the inside out.

Do you have someone like that in your life?

New Adventures

29 Jan

Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.

— Douglas Adams (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency)

wide open spaces

This year I am trying new things, taking more risks, and worrying less.

I am driving in snow storms.

I am taking photographs of sunsets through dirty car windows.

I am thinking a little bit less.

I am taking more action.

Life seems simpler.

Mental Magnets

9 Nov
“Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.”—Mary Lou Retton

Have you ever noticed that when you get a new car (even a used car) you start seeing that model of car everywhere — as if you had just acquired the top-selling vehicle in the nation?

Similarly, when you have just been dumped by your sweetheart and you are moping around all alone, thinking about the happy times before your beloved kicked you to the curb, you can be sure that blissful couples will appear at every turn, cuddling and sighing contentedly.

I believe the human mind seeks familiarity. We see whatever we are thinking about.

We may feel as though we are drawing these things toward ourselves like a magnet, when perhaps we are simply more attuned to what has been there all along.

Either way, it seems to be a good idea to focus on what you want in your life, rather than what is wrong or what is missing.

Don't be this guy.

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