Learning to fight better, accept more, appreciate daily and stay in love with my husband

Posts tagged ‘divorce’

Meet the Longest Married Couple

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photo from the Connecticut Post, BK Angeletti

I am not a news junkie.  In fact, I avoid the news at all costs.  I have decided that I would rather live my life in blissful ignorance, than fill it with negativity and fear. There are so few positive stories shared these days.

Despite my avoidance of the news, I recently, saw a post on Twitter that had me heading to the Associated Press.  It said, “Meet the Longest Married Couple.” I was hooked.  I couldn’t wait to meet them.

Last month, John and Ann Betar celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary and were declared the US’s Longest Married Couple.  Since then, it seems that other couples have come forth to claim the label for themselves, but that is beyond the point here.

The Twitter feed linked to a video of the couple being interviewed.  I couldn’t wait to hear what kind of insight they had into marriage.  What could I learn from them? The couple sat together on a couch while being interviewed, his hand resting comfortably on her knee.

The first thing I noticed about this remarkable couple, is how young they looked and acted for being people of 101 and 97 years old, respectively.  I hope I can be of such strong mind and body when I am their age, may I even make it to their age.

Listening to this couple talk of their love story, their life and marriage . . . I was so touched.  There was just something about them, so sweet and adorable.  But, there was one thing that was said, that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since.

They were, of course, asked the question that everyone on the planet wants the answer to.  “What is the secret to your marriage?”   Here is what she answered,

“He has always had his hand on my knee.”

So sweet, simple and deeply profound.  As she said it, they both giggled and he quickly removed his hand from her knee laughing, probably not even realizing his hand was there in the first place.  It had become something so natural.

What is the secret to a long marriage?  To her, it seems the answer was connection.  He was always somehow connected to her.  A physical connection.  A simple touch that she could always count on.  Something beyond words.  Something that says, “I’m here.  I love you. You matter. I want you close to me.”

“He has always had his hand on my knee.”

Am I naive enough to think that simple gesture is enough in a marriage? No.   But, I believe there is a very valuable lesson to be learned in that statement.   To me it says, never underestimate the power of connection.  The power of simple gestures that show your spouse love.  A touch that shows contentment and loyalty.  A special gift of love that is reassuring, loving and comfortable.  A touch can often transcend words.  It can say, “I love you” with a simple clasp of a hand, a brush of the cheek, a warm embrace, a squeeze of a knee.

Stay connected.

Don’t take for granted the simple power of a loving hand resting on the knee of your spouse.

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage: Simple gestures of love go a long way.

Here is one of the interviews of them in case you want to meet them too.  Newsday.com

You Can Be Right (or you can be married)

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That is the title of the book that is currently sitting on my nightstand.

I recently had a small epiphany.  I realized that I talk a lot about my marriage and I spend a lot of time and energy working to make it the best that I can, but I have been missing something. Books!  I had not read one single book on the subject.

Now, I do realize that just because it is written in a book certainly doesn’t mean that it is fact, but there is definitely something to be said about learning what the “experts”, or non-experts for that matter, are saying on the topic.

So I hit the local Barnes and Noble and started my hunt for my first book on “marriage.”  Since I didn’t know what I was looking for, I simply looked for titles that caught my eye.  After a few minutes of searching I came across one that definitely grabbed my attention.  It is titled, “You can be right (or you can be married). ”   Great title and great cover.  I bought it on site without even cracking the cover and, let me say, I am glad that I did.

This is a book written by Dana Adam Shapiro, a man on a mission to find out why his relationships never make it to the Honeymoon. His mission took him on a 4 year journey interviewing people who have been thru divorce in hopes to learn from the errors of their ways and attempt to avoid those mistakes in his own relationships.  What a great concept!

This is a candid and sometimes graphic look into other people’s marriages spoken thru their own words.  He interviewed hundreds of people and put the interviews into this book in a dictation type format.  Because the names are protected thru aliases, the interviews are frank, honest and often no holds bar.

It is fascinating to get a glimpse into the lives of others.  To hear first hand what their secrets might be, what regrets they have, what lessons they have (or sometimes haven’t) learned.

Growing up, we don’t get an education in relationships. There are no classes offered on building healthy relationships in high school. Such a shame since our relationships are the foundation of our lives.  Relationships with parents, friends, co-workers, bosses, spouses….

With regards to love, our lessons come from watching our parents.  Watching their marriage or divorce, paying attention to how they communicate, how they fight or face challenges.  If you were lucky enough to have good role models in that arena, you might be among the few.  Many of us come from ugly divorces or from parents who, maybe, should have gotten a divorce.

When it comes to learning how to develop healthy relationships, many of us are on our own.  It is a process of trial and error.  Sometimes with the same person, sometimes not. What I do realize, though, is that it is incredibly valuable to learn from other people’s experiences.  Whether it be from your parents or complete strangers, we all have so much to learn, but so much to teach as well.

That is what I appreciated about this book.  The ability to learn from someone else’s failed marriage.  What did or didn’t work?  Looking back, what would they have done differently?  What  lessons have they taken with them into their other relationships to avoid the same outcome?

One thing that I found interesting, is the similarities in the lessons that were learned and the underlying themes that rang true in so many of the interviews. Things that so many of the divorcees confessed to being vital to a marriage’s success; respect, communication, acceptance, a healthy sex life, a sense of newness and excitement. Through all of the various stories of failed marriages, so many of the mistakes are similar. So many of the lessons were the same.

If you are looking for an interesting read on how to improve you marriage, this just might be a good pick. Listening to other people’s regrets and mistakes can be the best education of all. Truly!

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage: Learn from others’ successes and (sometimes more valuable) their failures.

Image provided by http://www.123rf.com

How to Make a Marriage Last!

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“How to Make a Marriage Last”

That was the title of a small article in the February edition of Redbook magazine.  Of course it caught my eye.  How do you make a marriage last?

This little article was simply a handful of tips from couples that have been together since they were teenagers.  Hubby and I have been together, exclusively, since we were 14 years old.  I couldn’t wait to hear what these other couples, with stories similar to mine, had to offer about the secret of a lasting marriage.

There were two pieces of advice that I really liked that I wanted to share with you.  They are lessons I have learned in my own marriage.

The first was from a couple that had been together since they were 17 years old.  They said, “Prioritize time for yourselves. My husband’s hobby is running and mine is performing stand-up comedy.  We plan vacations around his marathons, and he attends all of my shows.  We love our date nights, but everyone needs something that matters just to them.”

As I am approaching 15 years of marriage, I have come to realize the importance of this in my own marriage.  It is so easy to lose your own identity as you try to please everyone around you, especially your spouse.  In the last couple of years, I have tried to be more supportive of my husband’s hobby of playing basketball.  It is extremely important to him to get a few times a week to go to the gym and hit a pick up game.   He loves it!  Who am I to deny him of time that makes him so happy?   Now, I will often push him out the door.  He deserves time for himself.

I have also discovered my own need for time to do something, all of my own, as well.   It feels so good to do something just for me sometimes.  For the past year, my sister and I have been taking a hip hop class once a week and just recently I signed up for a weekly guitar class.  I love them both so much!  It is time, just for me.  For personal growth that is all my own.

I agree with the couple.  It is vital to have something of your own, that is supported by your spouse and that makes you happy.  You are a part of a couple, but you are still you. . .  an individual.  Do something, just for you!

The other piece of advice that I liked came from a couple who had been together since they were 16.  They said, ” Act like your marriage is a job.  Treat it as if you were climbing the corporate ladder.  Address your challenges, work overtime when needed, and plan meetings to discuss how you’re doing.  It’s the most important gig you’ll ever have.”

I love this, because it is so true.  It seems people work their tails off to be good at their jobs, to get the good review, promotion or raise.  Being successful at marriage, takes the same principles.  It is hard work.  That is the bottom line.   I have realized that if I want my marriage to be awesome, then I have to really work at it.  I have to give it attention, I have to work thru problems and get better. I have to talk about what is or isn’t working so that I know how or what to improve on.  Just as in a job, if you stop working at it, then the promotions and raises stop coming.   Even though it can be exhausting at times, working at my marriage continuously has the most incredible payoff.  It is the best kind of promotion!

Today’s lessons in improving my marriage:   Continue to take time for my self doing things that make me happy and never stop working hard at my marriage.  Thanks Redbook! http://www.redbookmag.com/

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My Pity Party In the Closet

Lately I have been standing center stage with the spotlight blinding me at my own pity party. There are only two people on the invite list, myself and my husband.  And my husband wishes he could just ignore the invite all together.  It is embarrassing to say, but it is true.

I am not sure what is up.  I just think that sometimes the stars align just right. They align in perfect order so that I can look at them and find everything wrong with the world.  Just in line to turn a normally positive and optimistic girl into a pessimistic stranger.

That is me.  The unrecognizable girl, laying in her husband’s lap in the closet, bawling for no real apparent reason, unable to pick herself up off the floor.

The stress of a bad business decision, unknown finances, an excess 10lbs that wasn’t there last year,  the undeniable stress of work and parenthood.  Stacking on top of each other all at once and, WHAM!  The once strong and happy woman of yesterday is the dark cloud of today.

I know that regardless of my list of excuses, sitting in the closet checking off all that is wrong is ridiculous.  In my moments of clarity I know that.   I know that I am quite capable of getting up off of the floor, dusting the carpet lint of my clothes and wiping the mascara smudges off my face.   In the heat of the moment though, I need to be reminded.

In comes husband, who provides his clothes as a snot rag, his lap as a pillow and his hands to move the hair out of my face.  Soothing and listening. Reminding me that I am better than this.

When I said, “I don’t know what to do.”  He replied, “Just start with what you do know.”   That simple statement stuck.  Start with what I know.

What did I know?  I knew I needed to get up off the floor.  I knew I needed a little time to myself and I knew I needed to move my body some so that I could start to feel good again.  That is all I knew, but it was enough.

I am still short-tempered and falling into tears easier than usual, but everyday is a new day.  I set new exercise goals, ones simple enough to do with minimal effort.  I cut some pages out of a magazine for inspiration and posted them on my closet wall where I can see them everyday.  I asked my husband to take over with children a couple of nights a week, so I can have some peace to think, I started writing in my daily accountability journal again.  Little steps that move me in the right direction.

Through all of this, there is one thing that I found easy gratitude for.  My marriage.  I am so grateful that husband and I have spent so much energy strengthening our marriage.  What would happen if our marriage was rocky on top of all of the stress that my meltdown has put on us?  It could be disastrous.

But, all of the work we have done has helped prepare us for times like these.  It has given us a real foundation that keeps us balanced when it feels everything else is going to crumble.  That foundation boosts me.  It gives me hope.  It reminds me that I have done something right. . . . .  A strong, loving, supportive, forgiving marriage.  That definitely has to count for something right?

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage:  Keep up the hard work.  It will pay off in ways you can’t imagine

photo credit: Evil Erin via photopin cc

I Have A Crush!

photo by freedigitalphotos.net

I recently read an article in October edition of Redbook Magazine titled, ” Get Ready to Crush on your Husband.”  The title sold me.  I was in!

It talked about things that you can do to revisit that spark that you felt for your spouse in the beginning.  It made me think back to our beginning and reminisce about the things that started my crush in the first place.  Granted, when my crush started I was going thru puberty, but regardless there were certain things that made my heart race.

I remember, way back then, being crazy about his hugs.  My husband gives great hugs.  They are not half-assed hugs.  They are both arms wrapped around, body close, head tucked close to mine, tight squeeze kind of hugs.  They used to make my knees go weak.

I remember crushing on him because of his sense of humor.  He was always silly.  He knew how to bring a lightness to a room.  He was always joking.  He would do things that would make me shrink with embarrassment and laugh at the same time.

I remember having a crush because of his energy.  My husband is the kind of guy that can walk into a room and people look.  He draws people to him.  He always has.  He can bring a power and buzz to a room and make it shine brighter without even trying.

I definitely had a crush over his looks.  He was a hottie, at least in my eyes, way back in our Freshman year in high school. I remember thinking, Wow!  How did a guy like him, pick a girl like me?   I felt so  lucky.

What happens is, thru the years, you lose sight of all of those things that made you have a crush on the man to begin with. Not only that, but many of the things that you used to find attractive, now can be completely ignored or can make you absolutely crazy.

How often to I pay attention to his hugs?  Do find his silliness attractive?  Do I laugh at what I used to find adorably funny.  Do I notice when he walks into the room?

The article talks about how even after so many years together, you can still get that feeling of butterflies at strange and unexpected moments.  The point is, when that happens,  make sure you pay attention.

Since reading the article, I have thought a lot about the whole crush thing.  I realized that I get this feeling all of the time these days. It can be from taking in a good deep breath of how good he smells, to watching him on the floor playing with our son, to taking in a certain way he looks at me with his incredible blue eyes, or watching him walk toward me across a room with his goofy little grin.

It seems that the key to keeping the butterflies is to not only notice the moments he makes my heart beat a little faster, but to make sure I don’t let it pass without acting on it, or at the very least sharing my feeling with hubby.  He should know that he can still make me feel like a teenager with crush.

Just after I read the article, my husband went to run an errand.  He took the Jeep.  The Jeep is our favorite car.  In the summer, he takes the top and the doors off of it.  I was watching thru the window as he hopped in.   He put on his shades, turned up the music and sped out of the driveway.   All I could think was, “Damn, that Jeep looks good on him.”  He looked so sexy driving away in that car.  He looked young and free and so hot! And, I made sure to tell him so when he got back.

Today’s Lesson In Improving My Marriage: Yeah, I still got it!  I still have a crush on my husband. The key is to continue to work to keep it that way.

I am curious, what makes you crush on your spouse?

photo by freedigitalphotos.net

The Alien in My Bed

I am beginning to think that men really are from Mars.  I find it fascinating that after nearly 14 years of marriage and over 23 years together, my husband is still alien to me.

I have been in a very strange depressive funk this week.  Something fairly rare to me.  I am usually a pretty easy going and predictable person.  That was not the case this week.

My body hurts and it has taken a mental toll.  I have been at a one woman pity party for the past 7 days.  It is bizarre to me.  To not feel like myself.  To not even feel human.  I feel out of my body, looking down at some woman I don’t recognize.  It is weird and a little freaky.

If it is freaky to me, you can only imagine how my husband has taken it.  He thinks I have been abducted and replaced with some overly emotional negative being that looks a little like his wife.

Through this week, I have learned something about my husband.  He is a fixer.  I think it is a man thing.  The second something is awry  he feels the need to make it right as fast as possible.  I can respect and appreciate that about him.

But sometimes,  things don’t need to be fixed, they just need a hug.

In one of my self pity rants I start crying about how my body is not what I want it to be.  How I feel enormous and unattractive.  My husband immediately goes into details of what excercise I should be doing or how I should cut out soda.

In response, my eyes bugged out and I felt my head start to spin.  I yell at him, “I don’t want you to fix it, I just want you to listen.”

I might as well have been talking Greek.  I could see him thinking, “What do you mean don’t fix it?  That is what I do.  If I am not supposed to fix it, then what the hell am I supposed to do? Just sit here and listen to you bitch and moan?”

YES!!!!

I admit, I have been a royal pain in the butt this week.  Something I can ‘t really explain, but I know it has taken it’s toll on my husband and my relationship.

Over the weekend, he decided to brave the rough waters and broach the subject again.  Basically, what is going on with me and where is his wife?

I told him talking to him is hard because he is not a very good listener.  Hurtful to him, but truly how I felt in that moment.  He just wants to fix it and that pisses me off.

After going back and forth about it for about an hour and feeling like this is not going anywhere, he decided to try a different approach.  He came over and put his arms around me.

The second he did that, the flood gates opened.

I crumbled into a sobbing mess and he just held me.  He didn’t offer an opinion or a get better tip.  He just held me quietly and let it all come out.  I won’t tell you how ridiculous I sounded.  Let’s just say it was not one of most shining moments.

But, I was so greatful in that moment.  To have such a wonderful husband that could still love me and try to give me what I needed even though I was mean to him and spoke in a language he didn’t understand.   Really who could blame him for not understanding how to handle someone like me.  I can’t even handle me.

But through it all, I have learned to be clear about what it is that I need.  I think he has learned that sometimes trying to fix it won’t help.  Listening can offer it’s own fix.  Feeling heard and supported is a valuable gift.

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage:  Maybe it is not my husband who is alien, but ME!!!!!   Poor guy.

My Obscure Husband in Great Shoes

Will I ever grow to fully understand this man who I have chosen to spend my life with?  I am beginning to come to grips with the fact that the answer is a resounding, No!  He is an endless list of things that I may never get.

I will never understand how he can dismiss any exercise other than basketball as not excercise at all.  A jog, lifting weights, the elliptical machine.  None of that counts to him.  If it is not a 3 hour round with sweat, testosterone and fist pumps it is just not worth the calorie burn. 

Husband, “Tam, I’m gonna go to the gym to play basketball.”

Tam, “Okay, but didn’t you go for a jog this morning?”

Husband, “Yeah, but that doesn’t count.”  

 If it doesn’t count than why do it?  I don’t get it!

I will never understand how when we go on a trip, his shoes take up a suitcase of their own.  I am the woman.  Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Basketball shoes, jogging shoes, comfortable shoes, dress shoes,  same shoes in several colors.   What is it with him and his shoes?  He can’t pass a Sketchers or a  Foot Locker at the mall without feeling some serious regret.   A pair of flip-flops and tennis shoes and I am good to go.  

I will never understand how Husband can hop out of bed the second the alarm goes off after a mere 5 hours of sleep.  Are you kidding me?  Hit the snooze, will ya?  I am an 8 hour a night kind of girl, and even then, I drag myself out of bed feeling a deep sadness over leaving the warmth of the covers and the sweetness of the quiet.  Not husband!  Loud morning music and singing in the shower is how he wakes up with me begging him to turn it down.  I mean really, there is just something wrong with someone being that energetic in the morning. 

I will never understand why he can set out to lose 5 lbs and  reach is goal in 3 days.  What is going on here?  To lose that same 5 lbs it takes me two months and severe deprivation.  Okay, maybe not severe, but going two weeks without french fries is a travesty.  Truly. 

I will never understand how he can be asleep the second his head hits the pillow.  What is up with this?  I lay there twiddling my thumbs, bitter at his peaceful sleep, listening to his heavy breathing.  Why does he breathe so heavy anyway?  What is he dreaming about?  Is it me or Brooklyn Decker?  And if it is Brooklyn Decker, who can blame him anyway?  Did he say she was hot?  No, that was me.  She is so hot!  How does she get her hair so shiny and stay in such great shape?  Ugh!!!  Counting sheep, 1, 2, 3 . . .  Why is he breathing so heavy?

He will always be a bit of a mystery to me.  But, if I understood everything about him married life would be boring. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage : Figure out what he is dreaming about!