Tag Archives: marriage

Baby we were born to run….

18 Sep

Oh this week, where do I even begin with you? Your ups and downs are really knocking me for a loop and it’s only Thursday.

I suppose I should start at the beginning, but to do that, we have to go further back than Sunday. We have to take your preferred time traveling device (Mr Peabody’s Wayback Machine or The Doctor’s TARDIS?) to almost four years ago. Set your chronometer for October 2, 2010.

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Look at this couple. They’ve just gotten married. They didn’t write their own vows and they didn’t go over the ceremony in detail with the minister ahead of time. They are a little bewildered right now, but they are pretty sure they just promised to love each other, for better or for worse, for the rest of their lives. They are confused by the time traveller now in their midst but they assure you that they are ridiculously happy and ready to face any challenge life will throw at them, and that they will face it together.

Rewind half an hour or so and listen to the minister’s speech. He tells them that perfect love not only casts out fear, it embraces it. Love conquers challenges together.

And so you, time traveler, you ask them the question I asked Ken this week: if I told you, now, the troubles you will face, the challenges you will go through, would you change your mind?

And we would respond the way Ken did this week: absolutely not. He would squeeze my hand, cast out fear, and we would forge ahead.

We have survived so much in less than four years. Joe’s death, our struggles to have a baby, Gloria’s dementia, my struggles with depression, and countless injuries and trips to the ER.

But we’ve had so many moments of happiness. We’ve gone to weddings of dear friends and had vacations with family. We have a dog and a house and a precocious 8 year old. We have had impromptu dance parties on our front porch, swaying in each other’s arms to ‘our’ song. Life has been both bitter and sweet. And man, has this week perfectly epitomized that.

Sunday was amazing. Two of my cousins are in town – a very rare occasion considering they both live in different continents. And Sunday they randomly called and asked us to go apple picking with them. Ken had already committed to helping with Gloria, but Daniel and I eagerly agreed.

We had a blast – picked a ton of apples, spent quality time with some of the people I love most in the world.

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buuuuut I also got stung by a bee, turning my hand into this:

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Can’t have the sweet without the sting.

Then, Tuesday morning was another bittersweet day. Ken and I went to the funeral of his coworker and friend. George was a legend – I can’t even begin to do him justice in attempting to describe him. Let’s just say, one year his Christmas card was him in a bathtub, full bubble bath, and ever-present cigar in his mouth. I adored George and his sudden death was hard for both of us.

Even harder was going to the gravesite. George is now at rest in the same cemetery as Joe, not too far from each other. I asked Ken to take me to Joe’s grave and we cleaned up a little around it, held hands, and cried.

And then the weirdest, funniest thing happened. We had been completely alone in that section of the cemetery and were surprised to see a car park directly behind ours. And we were even more surprised when a bagpiper, in full regalia, started walking towards us, warming up on his chanter.

Now when a bagpiper actually plays a song, it can be quite beautiful, even haunting. This guy was not doing that. He stood RIGHT BY US and let out the most awful set of shrieks and honks until his chanter was in tune. Ken and I looked at each other in disbelief, then collapsed with laughter. We are both convinced Joe saw us crying and said “None of that here!” We still cried, but it was the laughing so hard you’re crying tears. Thank you, Joe, if that was you. It certainly worked.

And then there was yesterday. My mother in law has degenerated very rapidly recently. She has become more combative, more difficult, and is not maintaining her hygiene. It is breaking all of our hearts, but the time has come for her to go somewhere where they can take better care of her. Ken and his siblings have looked at places and I think they’ve made a good choice. But it’s still so hard and we are struggling emotionally, with the process and the new reality.

Anyway, I went over there yesterday to watch her while some of the kids checked out some places. She had refused to shower the past few days, so I said I would try.

I ran a bath for her, put in lots of bubbles, and managed to coax her in the tub. She resisted at first, but eventually relaxed. As I washed her hair and scrubbed her back, I did what I always do when I’m in the shower: I sang.

Now, Gloria has frontotemporal dementia, verbal subtype. Her vocabulary, her ability to have a conversation, to express her basic needs, has been stolen from her. Which is why I cried when she sang right along with me, every dang word, to “You Are My Sunshine.”

I don’t know what all the rules are at the new place. Maybe I’ll be able to give her a bath again. But if not, that’s okay. That one was magic.

So hop back in your preferred time machine. Don’t tell that couple everything they will face. If they hear it all at once, it will break their hearts. But tell them again what the minister said – love casts out fear. It will be hard. Sometimes it will downright suck. But you will also have small moments of magic, to see you through. Most of all, you will have each other.

Now to explain the title of this post: I’ve always liked running to ‘Born to Run’ because I am weird like that. There is one line in particular that has always resonated with me and it sums things up so well. At one point, Bruce plaintively sings, “Together Wendy we can live with the sadness/I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul.”

Dear, darling husband, if you’re reading this, I know this week has been awful. I can’t promise to make it better, I can’t promise much at all, but I promise that I – and the magic – will always be here. And, with all the madness and sadness, we will cast out fear.

And we will not be signing Daniel up for bagpipe lessons.

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Some unsolicited marriage advice

2 Oct
that's danny on the drums.

Our wedding was kind of like this. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is a great day- my second wedding anniversary. My husband and I are going to go out to dinner tonight to celebrate surviving two whole years of marriage, and five years together total. We’re nowhere near the record that other couples have set, but we’re getting there.  Considering all the naysayers, the obstacles, and the challenges, I’d say we’re in pretty good shape.

I’ve been reflecting on the things that make our marriage, and relationship, work. Not that I have lots of experience – a five year relationship and two year marriage may not seem like much. But I also have the benefit of watching other successful relationships and learning from them. In my family, you’re in it for the long haul. My parents celebrated 35 years together this Spring. They met in August of 1976, and were married by May of 1977. The old cliché, “When you know, you know” has a ring of truth in our house. And my siblings have all shown me, in their own ways, how to have successful marriages. My oldest sister and her husband, and my brother and his wife, both celebrate 17 years of marriage this year. And my sister celebrated 9 years with her husband in July, and they’ve been together for 11? 12? years total.

So, between my own marriage, and those I’ve observed, I’ve gleaned a few truths about how to make this long-term commitment thing work.

–          Communication. It’s key.  Check in with each other, talk to each other. Don’t let a misunderstanding get in the way or go uncorrected. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings, your partner may surprise you with their understanding.  Talk about big decisions, little decisions, how your day went, what your plans for the future are, who’s going to feed the dog today. (Benny likes to pretend he hasn’t been fed to try to get double meals.) No problem is too big that you can’t talk through, together.

–          You don’t have to share everything. There’s this strange stereotype promulgated mostly by the entertainment industry, that the happiest couples are the ones who do everything together. In my own experience, this isn’t the case. My dad loves to golf, my mom has never set foot on a golf course. My brother in law loves sports, my sister can’t throw a spiral. My husband has devoted our basement to slot car racing, I have no idea why.  I run in the mornings, he waves from the window. But this doesn’t mean we aren’t compatible. When we do our own things, we don’t feel resentful of the other, and we then share our experiences, and we’re both better off for it.

Chinatown, London. Benedict Cumberbatch during...

My other husband.

–          That being said, be open to new experiences. Small example: My husband and I were both sci-fi fans, but of entirely different fandoms. I’m X-Files and Doctor Who, he’s Star Trek and Babylon 5. But we’re both willing to sit down and give the other’s shows a try. Ken hasn’t converted me, and I haven’t converted him, but we enjoy seeing what the other one likes. And talking about it, figuring out what we like about each, helps us find stuff we both love, like Firefly and Sherlock (is that sci-fi? I feel like it is). This applies to more than just entertainment. I’d never gone camping a day in my life before Ken, he’d never owned a pet. We’ve found that we love doing things we never would have done otherwise.

–          Even when married, continue to date each other. In the first few stages of the dating relationship, you both put a lot of effort into spending time with each other, getting to know each other, even impressing the other one. That shouldn’t stop when you’re married, especially when there’s kids involved. We try to make time for ‘date night’ every month or so, and it helps a lot. We reconnect, enjoy a quiet evening out and adult conversation, and enjoy each other that much more. It’s nice to be courted every once in a while and to feel wanted.

–          Be each other’s biggest fan. This was my friend Mara’s advice, and it’s true. Having someone in your corner, who unconditionally loves you and believes in you, is the best feeling in the world. Not that you should view each other with rose colored glasses, but you should support and encourage each other as best you can.

So those are the main things I can think of. I’m sure I missed stuff. Let me know – what makes your marriage, or relationship, work? And what should be avoided?

One last note: We’ve survived death of a parent, infertility, buying a home, illness, surgeries, all kinds of obstacles. But the biggest challenge we’ve overcome in our two-year marriage? Assembling IKEA furniture together.

we're pretty awesome.

Us, 7-6-12

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