Love Talk

5

John is a typical man from the Baby Boomer era.  He wasn’t raised to express his feelings, and isn’t comfortable with verbal exchanges of love-struck happiness during those times when he’s “expected” to say them.   So, like many men of his age, his silence could be taken for a lack of caring, when truly, nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ve tried to institute a game with him that I thought might make it easier to get those words out, but it hasn’t gone over so well. The “Tell Me Something Nice” prompt usually elicits a response like “No, I can’t…. it’s raining out”.  Or “No, I can’t… I’m asleep”.  Or “No, I can’t… I have a bullet lodged between my teeth from saving the West”.

This morning I tried a new tactic.  We’d gotten up and taken the dogs out, fed them their breakfast, and decided to climb back into bed, pups and all.  (The three dogs are not allowed on the bed after lights out at night, but this was just a morning snuggle.)

John was ready to fall back to sleep, but I was in one of those yappy moods.  “You sleep while I talk at you.”

Grunt.

Okay, he’s still awake.

Repeat after me.  ‘I am a lucky man.  I have an awesome wife.'”

Dead silence.

Do it!  Repeat after me.  ‘I am a lucky man.  I have an awesome wife.'”

His breathing, slow and measured, sounded like someone who was on the verge of falling asleep.  I waited a bit, but it seemed there would be nothing further coming from the Hubs.  Just as I was about to begin pushing my way through the dogs so I could get out of bed, a very low and deep voice said….

“I am an awesome man.  I have a lucky wife.”

HA!!

He’s right.

SoulMate 8

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Resentment: Death By 1000 Cuts

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

— Carrie Fisher

Resentment in a marriage could be called death by 1000 cuts.  Few marriages fall apart because of one major issue… it’s usually the accumulation of many small resentments over time, dozens and hundreds of them, that just add up.

Several years ago, when Husband and I had just started living together, I was describing to an acquaintance how much I appreciated his attentiveness to small household-type details.  For example, he doesn’t leave his dirty socks and underwear lying around, and in fact, one evening when I happened to pick them up before he had a chance to, Husband said, “Hey, I’ll get that”.  My response was, “It’s okay, I’m heading towards the hamper anyway.”

My acquaintance commented: “Yeah, but I’ll bet he saw that look in your eyes that told him you were p*ssed off.”

I was taken aback for a moment, and then realized two things… a) had it been my first husband, that resentment would have been there, and b) she was saying more about her own relationship than she was about mine.  But with Husband, there’s no resentment about the little things that most couples squabble about.

Does that mean he’s perfect? Ha! Absolutely not.

Does that mean I don’t notice the annoying habits he has?  Of course I do. 

I notice that he often leaves me to do the dishes, and like most men doesn’t seem to realize that cleaning the counter and range are part of that job…. and after 4½ years he still doesn’t know where the fire engine red collander goes (which is in a different place than the cheap stainless collander). 

He can’t be trusted to wash my clothes, and when folding laundry will pair one of my black ribbed trouser socks with a plain one.  He snores.  Loudly.  He smokes like a chimney and our garage—which is now called The Clubhouse—reeks as a result.  He forgets to shave sometimes which makes his face really scratchy. 

But I also notice that if I lose my keys (a daily occurrence), he’ll hunt high and low for them, even though it isn’t his fault and even though it’s the 90-hundredth time it’s happened. 

He always helps bring in the groceries without being asked; he will eat anything I put in front of him even if he doesn’t like it or it’s vegan. 

He prefers to be a homebody, but if I want to go out (with friends, to a movie, a restaurant or whatever), he’ll go… and not gripe too much.  

He calls me several times a day (even if he’s in The Clubhouse and I’m just yards away inside) to tell me little things he’s just seen, heard or thought of.  He looks for movies we can watch on television together, and he remembers anniversaries.  He thinks of things my daughter would like.

He doesn’t complain when I forget to shave sometimes (okay, often) and my legs get really scratchy.

He is as excited by our love as I am.

Given all this… why in heaven’s name would I waste time on resentment?

 

 

Soul-Mate Marriages is saddened by the high rate of divorce in the U.S., with even fewer second marriages succeeding.  We recognize the reasons are complicated but believe the trend can be reversed with trust and hard work.

Neither of us is a relationship saint, but our marriage, the 2nd for both of us, has brought more joy, satisfaction, and peace than we could have imagined. 

We hope our insights will be helpful. 

 www.facebook.com/soulmatemarriage

How Could She Be Surprised? Part Two.

My August 2nd blog described how stunned a male friend was by his wife’s over-the-top reaction when he told her he was filing for divorce.

The marriage had been distant and uncommunicative for more than a decade, and he figured she’d be as relieved as he was to finally just get it over with.

 Instead, she was furious. How could he do this to her? She’d been left alone with the house and the children, week after week for years, while he’d been off on his never-ending work-related sales trips. She’d raised those kids practically single handedly, and had dealt with the household problems and vehicle breakdowns all by herself.

Where was he when the children had chicken pox and were whiny and feverish? Where was he when a blizzard dropped 26 inches of snow and the power was out for three days? Where was he when she didn’t get that promotion she desperately wanted?

And now that the kids were grown and out of the house, he wanted out too? How dare he?

From his perspective, her anger was completely unfair—this was the first time he’d heard any of this from her. They’d agreed years before that he would take the sales job, because it would provide them with a better living than he could otherwise manage. He’d always thought it was a mutual decision, and her actions and attitudes seemed to reinforce that she preferred it when he was gone.

Wondering what signals he’d missed, he thought back over all the homecomings when she’d barely acknowledged him as he came through the door after being away for two or more weeks.

He cringed over the times when he had realized once again that he’d missed out on an important milestone in his kids’ lives… the grade school graduations, school plays, birthday parties, first boyfriend (it came and went while he was on an extended trip).

And he sighed as he remembered how she had made it clear that this was HER house, and his suggestions were unwelcome… after all, she handled it all just fine while he was gone, didn’t she?

So why was she so angry with him? How could she believe they had a marriage when they didn’t sleep together, talk or even eat their meals together?

And what about him? Did she really think it had been all fun and games? He’d spent half of his life on the road, living out of suitcases and in so many hotel rooms in so many cities that often he’d wake up in the middle of the night completely disoriented—he wouldn’t even know which state he was in, let alone what town or hotel.

He’d spent night after night either entertaining clients and drinking too much, or sitting alone in yet another boring room, watching bad television. This was a life? Hadn’t he done this for her and for the kids? And what did he get for it? A family that didn’t know him and didn’t seem to want him.

Sadly, this couple, like too many others, never communicated their relationship wants and needs in an open and honest fashion. Had they, it’s possible there might have been a different outcome to this marriage.

We’ll continue to explore this relationship in future blogs.

Coming soon, Part Three.  

Soul-Mate Marriages is saddened by the high rate of divorce in the U.S., with even fewer second marriages succeeding.  We recognize the reasons are complicated but believe the trend can be reversed with trust and hard work. 

Neither of us is a relationship saint, but our marriage, the 2nd for both of us, has brought more joy, satisfaction, and peace than we could have imagined.

We hope our insights will be helpful.  www.facebook.com/soulmatemarriage.

What’s LOVE Got To Do With It? Everything!

A column in today’s newspaper entitled “What’s LOVE Got To Do With It?” describes a survey by Prince & Associates, a firm that polled 1,134 people in the U.S. and determined that two-thirds would “marry an average-looking person they liked if they had money”… in the ballpark of $1.5 million.

Well, I’m happy to say that my husband is in the minority.

We were 7th grade sweethearts; a short-lived but sweet young romance, and broke up after a few months without any major—or even minor—scarring.

 Thirty-seven years later, while in the process of extricating ourselves from unhappy marriages, we serendipitously ran into each other on an airplane—I’d missed my flight and was rerouted onto his, and into the very last seat on the plane, directly behind John.

The connection was immediate, although it took us nearly 18 months of e-mailing and instant messaging to get our acts together; in part because I was CEO of an $8.5 million company and had significant real estate investments.

At first John was concerned, because despite a well-respected career as a civilian subcontractor for the Navy (he was known all over the world for his work), he didn’t think he could match my success.

Once we worked that out, our relationship was able to move to the next step… meaning he moved in with me.

The next hurdle was his belief that people would think he was only interested in me for the money. He wanted to marry me, but for some reason the timing wasn’t ever “right”.

A little over a year after he moved in, my business crashed and burned, a victim of treachery from within and politics from without.

Suddenly, I no longer had any money, and in fact my personal net worth was in the negative numbers. It will take me a very long time to dig out of the financial crater I’m in.

A year after the company imploded, John and I got married.

Although the loss of my company devastated me and our finances, the reality is that I know one thing beyond a shadow of any doubt. My husband loves me—and it’s not for the money.

Soul-Mate Marriages is saddened by the high rate of divorce in the U.S., with even fewer second marriages succeeding.  We recognize the reasons are complicated but believe the trend can be reversed with trust and hard work. 

Neither of us is a relationship saint, but our marriage, the 2nd for both of us, has brought more joy, satisfaction, and peace than we could have imagined. 

We hope our insights will be helpful.  http://www.facebook.com/soulmatemarriage.

How Could She Be Surprised? Part One.

Recently a male acquaintance told his wife of more than 2o years he wanted a divorce.  

Since they hadn’t slept together more than a couple of dozen times in the previous decade (and if you know men, you know he was very aware of this) and in fact hadn’t even shared a bed for the preceding year, they seldom did anything together, they barely spoke and they even ate their meals separately, he figured she’d shrug her shoulders and say, “Whatever”.  

Instead, her response knocked his socks off.  She screamed at him, told him to get out of the house RIGHT THAT VERY MINUTE, and made it clear that she didn’t want to ever speak to him again.  

He was stunned.  After all, as a salesman with a very large territory he was often on the road for weeks on end; he’d frequently invited her to travel with him.  She’d always refused, even after their kids grew up and moved away from home.  In fact, within days of returning home from yet another assignment, she’d be sniping at him, “Isn’t it time for you to go out on another sales trip?”.  

As far as he was concerned, the marriage had been over for years.  A decade or so before, he’d asked her to go to marriage counseling with him, but she’d refused.  She didn’t want to talk about it.  

 The divorce was difficult.  The wife was very angry and hurt, and made it clear to the family that her heart was broken by the horrible person she’d married so many years ago, with the full expectation that it would last forever.  

What happened?  How could two people have such a different understanding of what was going on between them?  How could any woman who was still fairly young – after all, she was only in her mid 40s – believe that her similarly-aged husband was happy to be in a relationship with no sex, no mutual interests, and no conversation? 

Sounds completely irrational, doesn’t it?  

It happens with far more frequency than most people realize, and the reason is both very simple and extremely complicated at the same time.   The simple explanation is “People see what they want to see, and believe what they want to believe”.   

What my friend’s ex-wife wanted to see and believe is that her marriage was fine, that as long as they weren’t battling it out every day and were living a reasonably harmonious existence, that there was nothing to worry about. 

She apparently valued a relationship where she didn’t have to “feel”, where she could be emotionally distant and there were no expectations placed on her – other than those she felt competent to handle, such as her job, housework, mothering, and so forth.  

She was probably panicked when he asked for marriage counseling those many years before, and likely did everything she could to dissuade him from pursuing that line of thought… and she most likely pushed all the right buttons – those buttons that any spouse knows how to push – to make it clear that this was a bad idea on his part, and that even bringing it up was both foolish and indicative that he had some serious personality failings.  

So my friend gave up.  He stopped asking for counseling, he stopped trying to find a way to make the marriage work, and he was rewarded for it… the air cleared, the household became calm again, and sadly, he was left alone. 

Married, but quite alone.  

Coming soon, Part Two.

Soul-Mate Marriages is saddened by the high rate of divorce in the U.S., with even fewer second marriages succeeding.  We recognize the reasons are complicated but believe the trend can be reversed with trust and hard work. 

Neither of us is a relationship saint, but our marriage, the 2nd for both of us, has brought more joy, satisfaction, and peace than we could have imagined. 

We hope our insights will be helpful. 

www.facebook.com/soulmatemarriage.

Won’t You Be My POSSLQ?

When Husband first moved in with me (he was called John then; now even my friends have started calling him Husband), we struggled for a bit to come up with a good word to describe our relationship and each other. 

At 50 years old, “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” seemed… dumb.  “Partner” was too harsh.  “Fiance” was okay but it just seemed too contrived – yes, of course we were getting married (it was always understood, even before we talked about it).

Then I remembered!!  Of course!  The U.S. Census Bureau had created exactly the right term several decades ago.  And some hacks had even written some poems about it, as in:

Roses are red, Violets are Blue, Won’t You Be, My POSSLQ?

Persons of Opposite Sex, Same (or Sharing) Living Quarters…. POSSLQ!

There’s a longer poem, ripped off from John Dunne’s “The Bait”, which starts with “Come live with me and be my love…”.   You can easily google it or find it on our Facebook Fan Page “Soul-Mate Marriage”.

After playing around with it, Soon-To-Be-Husband and I decided POSSLQ didn’t quite cut it for us.  Any two people could be POSSLQs, and not have nearly the level of commitment to one another as we did.

So we made up our own: Partner for Life, or PFL (pronounced “Piffle”).

Piffle only lasted a year or so, but during that time it worked for us.

All in all, though, we much prefer Husband and Wife.

Soul-Mate Marriages is saddened by the high rate of divorce in the U.S., with even fewer second marriages succeeding.  We recognize the reasons are complicated but believe the trend can be reversed with trust and hard work. 

Neither of us is a relationship saint, but our marriage, the 2nd for both of us, has brought more joy, satisfaction, and peace than we could have imagined. 

We hope our insights will be helpful.  http://www.facebook.com/soulmatemarriage.