Armchair Activists

Something horrible and reprehensible happened in a state I just happen to live in right now (albeit over 100 miles from my front door).  Some terrible people (some from other states) did some terrible things.  They happen to bear a physical resemblance to me.  They also claim associations like me.  They are identified as people of privilege (like me) who as such, can supposedly have no possible clue about the evils of bigotry, hatred, and racism.

Violence and hatred are bad things.  Most reasonable adults and Americans can get on board with that.  I deplore and denounce what happened.  I also know that in this fallen world, it will happen again, in another state, another city, by perhaps another race or class of people.  Ugliness is an equal opportunity employer among the human race.  Satan sees to that.

So what am I going to do about it?  Many seem to think spinning more hatred, vilification, and dissent on social media is an appropriate way to address the issue.  Related image

I just see Satan gleefully rubbing his hands together as he watches the sparring, the self-righteous accusations, the character assassinations, the tearing down.

The rants on Facebook are back.  Articles, comments, personal testimonies (“I have black, gay, tall, short… friends…”), renouncement (“This is why I don’t want to be a Christian”); and dares (“If you don’t agree with me you’re a scum bag and I’ll unfriend you.”). They dissolve into personal attacks and slurs, strangers judging strangers.  Cussing them out.  Calling them stupid.  Some posts may be well meaning, but they are armchair activists.  Just like me right now—sitting in our comfy chairs blasting out our views.  SNL did a spot-on sketch about this:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/thank-you-scott/3498997?snl=1

I seriously don’t want to rant here.  I make the mistake of looking at my Facebook first thing in the morning, and I get sucked in to reading the ugly back and forth rhetoric that Related imageaccuses any one of a different view immediately suspect of being part of the hatred and vilification that happened.  God forbid you say you live in Virginia– Oh, you are one of those….  I want to say authentic Christians don’t act hatefully, but I know there are plenty who claim Christianity and do horrible things.  I want to say not all white people think or act that way: but I realize some do.  I want to say a lot of things, which will just stir the pot.

But I’ll limit myself to this: instead of sanctimoniously throwing up a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or a Blog like this, please be damned sure that you are actually living what you write. 

And maybe a little more “Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…” (and yes, I see the irony in this post).

Posted in On Life in General | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Why I Don’t Comment

Image result for bloggin

Over the past year and a half of writing on this blog, I’ve done precious little commenting or in-depth reading or following of other blogs.  I sometimes feel quite guilty about this, because there’s a lot of good stuff out there, and I truly do enjoy and appreciate what others have to say and share.

But I had a dilemma to face.  I had been blogging actively for several years (anonymously) in a bid to understand myself, my past, my desires, my broken and then healing marriage, my motivations.  It was also a bit of escapism from boredom.  I was encountering a lot of interesting people who also were enjoying the anonymity of blogging, and with similar quests for answers.  I voraciously read their blogs.  Comments on mine were helpful, caring, informative, encouraging, and complimentary (things I was lacking in my marriage then).  I rarely had any inappropriate or “weird” commenters; most were incredibly gracious and very helpful. Being able to open up fully about my questions was freeing,  I learned a lot, and I don’t consider it a wasted time.  It served to grow me and inform me.

Related image

Eventually though, God was convicting me that sourcing wisdom for living in the blog world was not His best plan for me.  I longed to explore far more than just my needs and my desires for gratification in life; I wanted to include a God-view in my life, and this meant having to give up some thoughts and habits that were not helping me grow.  Namely, giving up my selfish fantasies about how things “should be” or “could be” better. I needed to factor God’s will for me into my explorations.  God has done some amazing work in my life, in my marriage.  I was feeling like God was telling me it was time to explore how that might serve others.

In the blog world there are honest people, people who just tell it like it is and let it all hang out; who share wisdom from living,  and mistakes; who don’t just write about themselves and how to have their needs met.  They live for a purpose bigger than themselves.

There are also sensational bloggers, who clearly seek an audience of followers.  Not to say they aren’t honest, but they like to write a riveting story; embellishments and fantasy are acceptable.  There is a blur between reality and fantasy.  The number of followers and commenters become a really important driving factor in their blogging.  However we the reader rarely know what is truth or fiction.  Some of these talented story weavers can really suck us in. Sex sells.

In just my first 3 years of blogging, I watched some bloggers crash and burn along the way of their sensationalist blogging (and concomitant lifestyles).  One woman who Image result for sex blogger 'regrets' life choicesdecided it was hip and cool to explore (and blog) something with another woman, supposedly with hubby’s permission, is now alone and divorced.  Another realizes that what seemed like a fun fantasy was really abuse.  A young mom seeking more excitement in her marriage found out he was cheating.  Another lady quit her job, packed up her life for her fantasy life with a blogger halfway across the country, only to repack and return “home” within four months, greatly disillusioned.  I’ve seen some crazy, sad stuff go down.  Along with crazy, sad, irresponsible comments like “You go girl!”  Sadly, these stories played out like that horrendous crash you can’t tear your eyes away from.

By now, most of us can smoke out the difference between the authentic blogger, and the fantasy-reality blogger. And we can make our choices.  I wasn’t always making good choices; I have a weakness for the sensational, the evocative, the erotic.  But I appreciate real, honest, and messy.

When one is searching for a better way, for better love, a better marriage, it’s easy to get sucked into something that looks so amazingly good, and think “that’s the cure-all, that’s what will make me happy.”  Especially when it’s titillating and/or sexy.

Being in God’s will can make me happy.  I know this.  It’s just easy to forget it, easy to get distracted, tempted. It’s easier to come up with some other ways that I think are “more fun.”

God is not a “sexy topic” these days (was He ever?)  He doesn’t sell too many novels, but Image result for blogginHis Book is still the world’s best-selling, most read, and most widely distributed book in the world. Not Harry Potter.  Not The Great Gatsby. Not Fifty Shades (which, incidentally is the fifth most best-selling books of all time according to the Guardian).  It’s even reached a point in some circles that to express one’s faith views or speak of God is considered intolerant.

From a pure modern-day marketing point of view, I saw little popularity in writing authentically about God AND sex AND marriage.  Imagine my surprise that some people actually want to read about this. Go God!  God knows exactly how 55 followers (plus me) can be reached through my blogging, even if it transcends my own understanding.

So back to reading and commenting.  It wasn’t always a healthy thing for me in the past. It informed me in some not-so-healthy ways.  I found myself sucked into a vortex of wanting my life to resemble another’s.  I enjoyed the sensation of being “listened to” and “approved of” when there were comments on my blog (and quite honestly, I still do–I appreciate those wonderful folks who take the time to leave their thoughts or approbation).  And I felt I needed to take a little sabbatical from gaining wisdom and information solely from the blog world.

I do read your blogs (and you know who you are), especially when I know that they won’t take me down that rabbit hole of unrealistic fantasies or desires.  I learn a lot from you.  There are things bloggers say that inspire me to try harder, to become less self-centered and selfish.

So thank you to all who have followed, read, commented AND prayed.  I appreciate you.  Iron sharpens iron. And I promise to be a better reader.

 

Posted in On Being Imperfect Me | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Love

Last year, I began to write on the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23): “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

I am currently reminded these days on how LOVE CAN BE HARD WORK, and that in most marriages, there are some times, some seasons, when it is harder.  Seemingly impossible.

Galatians 5:22-23 has long been one of my memory verses.  My pneumatic is to recall 9 fruit: 3 one-syllable, 3 two syllable, 3 three syllable.

This is handy verse to commit to heart because there are tons of situations in which you find yourself dragging it out to gain some power from the Holy Spirit when your own seems weak.  And even if you are praying “just” for patience (or peace or kindness, etc), you truly need them all to help you exhibit patience, and especially love.

Love anchors Galatians 5:22-23, possibly because it is required for all else. And, because while it seems so simple in principle, it can also be so, so hard.

Image result for the world says love is a feelingYou know what I like?  I like the FEELING of love.  That feeling that washes over you and makes you giddy and happy.  Adorable babies and puppies elicit this feeling.  Fun times with good friends.  New love and the passion it evokes.  A piece of amazing chocolate cake.  So many things can bring on that flood of “loving emotions.”

But it’s just not so simple, is it?  What about loving that fussy baby when he/she’s been crying for hours, or pooping green stuff?  That snarky teen? Or, that puppy that just chewed up your favorite shoes and/or left deposits in them?  Sometimes by the last bite of that rich amazing chocolate cake you possibly feel miserable (not to mention unhappy at the numbers on the scale).

There definitely are times in a marriage when all love threatens to just dry up, wither, and die, especially when we allow it to only be a feel-good feeling.  Without intentional care and nurturing, even hard work, it can become nothing but dust before you know it. Sometimes it is just a discipline to love, give love, act loving, speak love.

The Greeks had several concepts/words for love, and four are used in the Bible:

There is Phileo, which is brotherly love, the kind of love, affection, or fondness we feel for close friends.

Closely related is Storge, a kind of love is what a sister and brother for one another, strong feelings between family members. This love is one that most people have in family relationships.

Eros refers to the passionate and sensual love of lovers, husbands and wives, usually manifested with sex (however sex alone can be Eros, but it is often a fleeting love when it stands alone).  This word is used in Song of Solomon, one of the most erotic books in the Bible (and many want to call it allegorical instead of the lyrical love poem it is). Some may say there is no spiritual aspect to Eros, but I disagree.  The loss of this erotic love is often where many couples decide “it is over.”  And while erotic love should not be ALL there is in a marriage, it is very powerful, which is why the loss of physical affection and intimacy can really tank a marriage.

And there’s Agape love.  This is the highest form of love or charity, the love of God for man and of man for God.  It embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that persists regardless of circumstance. This translation of love occurs 320 times in the New Testament.Image result for 1 corinthians 13 4-8

Agape love isn’t always easy.  It’s seemingly practiced less and less these days, and it’s absence in social media is noticeable.  It’s the one we all need to work on, and which many of us don’t want to work on.  It’s the “why should I be nice/loving if he doesn’t…”  It comes up many times in popular verses of love in the Bible, but most famously in the 1 Corinthians 13 “Love is…” passage.

Love always perseveres.

Jesus was agape love.  He truly introduced the concept.  And of course, we want to be like Jesus, but we’re just not always good at it.  We don’t feel like it.  We get discouraged.  We fall short of the mark (a human condition).  We live in a world that has taught us to ask, “what’s in it for me?”

I have a confession: there are times when I don’t feel loving in this marriage of 25 years.  I may feel grateful, lucky, blessed, safe, indebted, guilty, duty-bound.  There are times I try to tell myself (or is it the devil?) that because I don’t feel love (especially eros or storge), why keep trying?

These are the times I need to be in prayer.  I cannot do it all on my own power.  I need to recognize and acknowledge that no love beyond God’s is perfect, and no marriage is perfect.  Love just doesn’t “happen,” but I need to make it happen.  It’s not a one-way street, but rather how I AM love and GIVE love. Unconditionally.  Unearned.

Whoa.  Hard.

Conditional and earned love was the MO of one of my parents.  I never was quite sure if I could “earn” or “deserve” love.  It could be taken away or withheld indefinitely at any time.  So, I personally had a lot to learn about love, a lot to heal.

As a parent myself, I had to reverse what I learned as a child and decide to love my children unconditionally, no matter howImage result for he first loved us they faltered, sinned, or got on my nerves.  I never stopped telling them I loved them, and I assure them that I will ALWAYS love them (even if at times I may not agree with their choices).

In a marriage, I have to decide to love my husband.  We have both made a Covenant, a promise, to love in a whole range of circumstances.  We don’t get to choose love, we just DO IT.  No matter if it is deserved, or how it might hurt, no matter how we feel.  (Clearly there is another complicated matter of abusiveness in a marriage or relationship; so safety always is paramount; you can walk away from abuse and still pray to love the sinner).

And why does anyone deserve unconditional and unearned love?  I’m sure glad that hard-workJesus didn’t ask that question as I do sometimes.

Love is not easy.  Love is often messy.  It is hard work in a marriage.  

And I know that the only way I can humanly do this hard work is with the power of the Spirit of God.

And LOTS of prayer!

Posted in Fruit of the Spirit, On Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Women’s Issues:  UTIs and Pelvic Floor Problems

A decidedly non-sexy post: in this blog where I pretty much have vowed to be honest—this post is brutally honest and “graphic.” I’ll discuss a demoralizing (and often embarrassing) medical issue many women face.  I’m not going to be fun or sexy or deeply philosophical here.   I just find way too little reliable information in the “Google It” format.  Consider this my Public Service Announcement, from years of experiences and a layman’s point of view, and decidedly “non-medical.”  (Always consult your doctor for a professional diagnosis and treatment).

Many women (and very few men) are prone to an extremely unpleasant condition called Cystitis, or Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).

Image result for women's cramps

And, well, it can totally mess with a woman’s sexuality.  It can actually make one fearful of sex, for all of the pain and discomfort it can potentially cause.

If you’ve read this far, you probably already know that any infection of the urinary tract involves a bacteria of the digestive system (namely E. Coli), that has invaded that otherwise sterile urinary system.  The symptoms usually involve burning, frequency, achiness in the pelvic region, and a sensation that you can’t completely void.  All of that irritation may also create a sensation of constant arousal… and ironically, it’s not a pleasant sensation.  It’s one of the most miserable pains I know (and we will rule out any other STDs or other infections for purposes of this discussion).

The cause of a UTI is often that fecal matter enters the urethra; but despite many women’s best efforts to clean themselves correctly (front to back), that bacteria can still invade.

It is also called “Honeymoon Cystitis” because the intensity and frequency of sex on a honeymoon (or any time) can often bring this on.  Those having frequent sex are advised to immediately urinate after sex to flush out any invaders (and if you are prone to UTIs, you void after all sex).

Image result for women's UTIIt’s also a condition common among post-menopausal women. Lack of estrogen may allow bacteria that can cause UTIs to grow more easily in the vagina or urethra and cause an infection in the bladder.

When the infection goes beyond the urethra (the tube that drains the bladder) and into the bladder or kidneys, it is a serious condition.

Here’s what you might not find in your Google Search:  There are some women who due to their individual anatomy, are very susceptible to repeated infections, despite best efforts at prevention.  So much of a woman’s vulvar anatomy are such close neighbors, it’s little wonder it’s not a constant state.  What a complicated area! But like fingerprints, vulvas are very unique.

And there is shockingly little research or answers about all of this.

There are thousands of women who regularly quaff cranberry juice, as legend has it (and science has yet to definitively prove), it makes the bladder and urinary tract inhospitable to bacteria.  What you paradoxically find, is that most cranberry juices are full of sugar, possibly other additives.  PURE cranberry juice is about the tartest thing I know, barely consumable even when you add stevia or other fake sugars.  Cranberry supplements are often made from by-products of cranberries, after they’ve been juiced (the one recently recommended to me—Ellura– runs about $1.50/tablet).  But there may be cases when cranberry (or anything acidic) is the exact opposite of what you should do. Others steer clear of sugar and caffeine, which can be irritants.  Of course drinking LOTS of pure water is always advisable for keep things flowing well.  This is all preventative, and once a bacteria has taken hold, there’s little “natural” you can do to back off from it.

There comes a time when the only way to handle a full-blown infection is with Image result for women's UTIantibiotics.  Usually when you see your doctor and give a urine sample, they’ll do a quick dip to check for bacteria and blood (you can actually buy UTI test kits at the pharmacy).  If present, they’ll start you on an antibiotic immediately, while they send your sample off for a “culture.”  From my limited scientific knowledge, in layman’s terms, that culture will grow bacteria and test its susceptibility or resistance to various antibiotics. If it proves resistant to the antibiotic you were first given, they’ll switch you to the better one.

So now here’s the scary part about antibiotics. You may have heard that there is increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics.  This causes many (lazy) doctors to just default to the strongest, most toxic and broad-spectrum antibiotics to treat UTIs from the start, namely Cipro.  Cipro is a floxin drug, which has some real horror stories associated with it (look it up… namely affecting tendons; I am sure my Achilles tendinitis problem is related).  I personally view Cipro as a poison.  It is so broad-spectrum that it destroys all of the good bacteria as well- in your gut, and the good bacteria that keeps your vaginal pH normal.  When I HAVE to take Cipro as a last resort, I also ask for Diflucan to battle the yeast infection that is sure to come.  And, lately, I feel that the toxicity of Cipro has actually prolonged my irritation and discomfort from UTIs. While the bacteria may be gone, the pain and discomfort remain.

My “antibiotic story:” as a child, I was diagnosed with probable Rheumatic Fever.  The therapy at the time was massive daily doses of Penicillin.  I took Penicillin for several years, daily.  My body’s bacteria have long ago scoffed at penicillin drugs.  As a young woman in my 20s, I got frequent UTIs.  The docs recommended a “prophylactic” daily dose of Macrodantin.  My body’s bacteria eventually learned how to combat this antibiotic (a common one for UTIs).  Last year my urine culture came back resistant to 16 antibiotics.  Cipro was the only option. But for weeks after, I had pain and discomfort.

With that scary news, I became determined to decrease or stop antibiotics in my life, and build my natural immune system.  Problem is, I can usually count on at least one major bronchial or sinus infection a year; and apparently at least one or more UTIs—which require treatment with antibiotics to prevent complications of pneumonia or kidney infection.

Preventative is what I’m left with.  Recently I’ve invested more into use of essential oils.  I’ve managed to forestall one pending UTI by taking a capsule with Young Livinig essential oils (of lemon, copaiba, Thieves® and juniper); but not having a tried and true protocol, I apparently didn’t take the blend long enough to really discourage the bacteria, and the full-blown UTI came a week later.

There’s another complication to mention.  In my early 40s, it seemed I had repeated UTIs, with all the full-blown discomfort symptoms: the constant pressure, frequency, and ache in my pelvis.  When cultures returned repeatedly without bacterial, I was on a quest to find out what it was.  Eventually my symptoms pointed to a little-known condition called Interstitial Cystitis, sort of an ulceration of the lining of the Urinary tract/bladder.  There are no known causes (some will say “stress” which to my mind is an overly simplistic and convenient supposition), and no definitive treatments, just a lot of experimental stuff (drugs from antihistamines to antidepressants were used to treat).  Plus, there were (and still are) many traditional doctors/urologists who do not believe this is “real” condition.  I had to learn the hard way, and would actually ask each urologist’s office “did the practitioner BELIEVE interstitial cystitis was a real condition, or did he subscribe to the prevalent notion that it was a “hysterical female psychosomatic condition?”  My take-away is that I will never see a male urologist again; and whenever possible, seek out a FEMALE gynecological-urologist who has invested into the research of female pelvic disorders. I’m currently on the wait list for an appointment, the earliest available being October.

Lastly, I’m faced with yet another complication.  About ten years after a large twin pregnancy that stretched a lot internally, I was experiencing stress incontinence (I was 48). My gynecologist at the time recommended a procedure called a Transobturator Sling, a “minimally invasive” surgical procedure that uses a narrow strip of permanent mesh to correct stress urinary incontinence (SUI) by creating a sort of “hammock” to lift the urethra tube.  The procedure was successful and SUI went away for me.  Since that time there have been issues (and lawsuits) with this material.  I’m a little concerned that this could be contributing to recurrent UTI issues for me.

Meanwhile, I’m blessed to have a husband who understands and is sympathetic (guys– the best thing you can do is hug, hold, massage, offer to draw a hot bath…).  I have “only” had a handful of these episodes over our marriage, but when I’m down and out with these symptoms (often accompanied by malaise and depression), I am not a happy camper.  It plays a cruel joke with my mind and body—because there is a constant Image result for women's UTIawareness of your pelvic region which can be eerily arousing in a very unsettling and unwelcome way.  Penetration would feel like a knife at this stage of discomfort; but it is hard to take your mind off of sexuality.  And the more I research this, the more I realize there are quite a few women out there going nuts over this, and very few remedies/answers.  My next steps are to eliminate caffeine, sugar, and gluten, which isn’t easy.

I don’t know how or when I will get this resolved, and I just pray for a miracle while I wait to be seen by a specialist.  But given the real paucity of information, I wanted to share with those who may have similar issues.  You have my sympathies.

Please share your stories here.  Women need to support each other.

Posted in On Being Imperfect Me | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Over 55– No more “Sexy?”

I’m packing for our upcoming 25th anniversary cruise.  And a sobering truth is sinking in.

I’m 59, and I don’t get to be sexy anymore.  Waaaa.

Dang, that sounds so sad, doesn’t it?

I’m ashamed to admit that so much of my adult life has been about my personal appearance, which makes me sound quite shallow. From the moment I knew that I was IMG_2397attractive to a male, I was all about strutting my stuff.  I loved dressing up, I loved wearing sexy outfits, I loved fixing my hair and makeup, and I wore heels because they made my long, lean, toned legs look great.

My heels haven’t been out for a strut in a while.  I love comfy flip flops, flats, boots and mocs. Lean and toned are not what they used to be.

Over the years, I loved turning heads.  I secretly liked guys flirting and coming on to me, even when they were somewhat sleazy or disgusting.

But what really is “sexy?”  Why are we so wooed by it?  Doesn’t it just mean that others covet sex with you?  I’d like to think those aren’t my motives now at nearly 60, but losing the young thing isn’t easy.

This is a hard “habit” to let go, the concern to appear young and sexy.  Face it, we’re not all Christy Brinkly.

IMG_0148I currently love yoga pants (and yes, I actually DO yoga 4-5 a week).  Especially the ones that hold you in and help your butt look good.  But yoga pants can only do so much, and I’ll keep working on the butt and fighting gravity.  Not everyone can or should wear yoga pants.  But that day I wore shorts to yoga and looked at my thighs in down-dog is burned into my eyes like acid.  59 year old thighs, no matter how muscular, don’t look smooth and taut. Not everyone can wear shorts either—I’m sad to admit.

 

So I am having to deal with reality here.  In spite of having lost (and gained and lost) weight in recent years, the old body is just that—old.  It’s withstood nearly 6 decades of wear and tear, and popped out 3 babies.  I stay fairly active, but could always do more.  I can still hike 6-7 miles in a day, but I will be feeling it.  As for 10,000 steps a day—let’s just say that is not my IMG_0966everyday.

Attractive is achievable.  I want to think that healthy is key goal, and as long as I can I’ll put the skis or hiking boots on.  I think I need my focus to be on achieving classy or “striking” or even “stunning” mature woman.  I’ve seen some of these.  They have bravely allowed their hair to go soft grey but wear it stylishly long (and not butch short).  They dress smartly, obviously taking care in their appearance and accessories.  Make up is tasteful and not overboard.  Faces are adorned with beautiful smiles and healthy teeth, amid the character lines boasting a life well-led.  The Audrey Hepburn-esque grace and poise.

 “The beauty in a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart; the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.”

Sure, I’ve read the Proverbs 31 wife, and really tried to take it to heart: charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Hmmmmm.  Easier said than done. Oh, I do fear the Lord.  And I shouldn’t worry about whether anyone else finds that attractive in me. I know my worth is far deeper than my character lines and wobbly bits. SJ does too.

I once saw a story about an aging sex-goddess, who had assiduously kept up her youthful appearance with exercise, plastic surgery, modern fashions, and long shiny hair, setting high store on looking good.  She related walking along the beach one evening, to have a young man who could have been a son or perhaps grandson, come up from behind her with a sexy pick up line.  When she turned and he saw her face, his grew shocked.  “I’m so sorry… I thought…” he stumbled.  “Excuse me ma’am.”  He beat a hasty retreat.  The woman suddenly realized that in spite of her best efforts to look “young,” her age showed—and she also wondered, why did it matter?  Did she think she would attract a young man half her age?  And for what reason?

I look at my packing pile and realize it’s replete with comfortable cottony dresses,  Bermuda shorts, cute tops, and probably the one-piece bathing suit, along with the Land’s End SPF long-sleeve top (I can’t tell you how many horrible burns I’ve had from snorkeling). Comfy flip flops and flats.  A wide-brimmed hat with Annie-Hall-esque flair. A lightweight tomato-red Marmot rain jacket, and possibly my jeans jacket.  Lots of colorful scarves collected during world travels. Clothing that is stylish, colorful, comfortable, complimentary to my long torso.  No “muumus” (large, voluminous, flowey, tent-like dresses, which are SJ’s bugaboo).   For a brief moment, I think about the short little black dress and high heels for “formal night.”

And I realize that I’ll be just as happy in my flip flops and cotton sundress.  Grey hairs, character lines, and all.

Sitting in the deck chair next to my old man who loves me just as I am for 25 years now.

couple at the beach

Posted in On Being Imperfect Me | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

So You Want Your Wife to Lose Weight?

This is for the men out there.  Of whom I probably have few following.  But for what it’s worth if you’ve stumbled into my blog… mwah ha ha…

Dear Husband–

So, you want your wife to lose weight?  Do you miss that little Miss you courted and married?  That active and slender gal who really turned you on?  Trust me, we want to be back there in 20-something firm boobs and ass territory.  No wobbly bits or tummies. IMG_2921It’s just that there are some little hiccups that come along the way.  Gravity is the big one, and we just can’t help that very much.  Pregnancy and kids for sure. If you want to truly mess up a body, get pregnant (and multiples is a true out-of-body experience.  My husband has scars on his eyes from seeing about 14 pounds of twins in my belly on my otherwise 148 lb frame; hey dude, you helped put them there!).  Being “Mom of the Year” and preparing all of those wonderful chocolate chip cookies, cakes, treats, and delicious dinners, the casseroles for the sick or grieving neighbors, enough left for our family of course. Crazy hormones at all times, but especially at THAT time of life which can set in from the mid 40s on.  That’s when the true body snatchers hit, and your body becomes a metabolic and hormonal mess.

Trying to be a true Proverbs 31 wife, we provide food for our families, we don’t eat the bread of idleness, but we will shrewdly make sure there is no waste and eat that last tater tot/fry/chicken nugget the kid left on his plate.  Food is love, food is family, food is fellowship. Food can be comforting when you aren’t hugging us or loving us.  Food nourishes us, food makes us fat.

And, well, we do fall into bad habits of not exercising regularly, or eating crap.  Many of us medicate with food.  I know I did: 95 pounds worth over a 20 year marriage. We take some of the blame.  Not planning out menus and defaulting to the fast food lane or the pizza delivery.  Everyone is happy, and Mom can take a breath.  There’s hardly a woman alive who hasn’t had at least a temporary fling (or a long-term affair) with a bag of chips, a sleeve of cookies, or a pint (quart) of ice cream.

Yes, most of us really do not like the weight we’ve put on over the years.  We want it gone.  I think that at least half of the women I know would say they are on a diet.  Many more probably are.  The really amazing superwomen might tell you they just “control” what they eat, keep a balance.  The ones who dare to say they can eat whatever they want and not gain an ounce should have a target painted on them.

And there are periods of time when we really, really mean that we are going to lose weight.  In 2012 I decided enough with being fat, and heading down a rabbit hole of health issues.  I lost 75 pounds in about 5 months.  I know, that’s fast, but it’s what I needed to do.  When we are going to get serious about losing pounds, getting closer to IMG_2760ideal weights, we are a force to be reckoned with.  Like please don’t bring that box of cookies home and in my line of sight (even if I brought it home last week)– I may have to divorce you.   

Thirty pounds have come back for me.  I want them gone.  And it’s not been easy, lots of yo yo dieting over the past 3 years hasn’t worked.  And I’m serious, with a plan and a goal. Nothing like an accidental selfie to spur you into action with renewed fervor. 

 

Here are some pointers for husbands who want to support a wife’s weight loss goals:  

  • First of all, husband, you are either already in decent shape for your age (no big bellies hanging over belts… dad guts are OK), or at least making some really good progress in that direction.  You can’t even utter the word diet or pounds without this prerequisite.
  • Don’t nag your wife to lose weight, that’s a dead end.  Listen to what she says to you.  If she says she wants to lose weight, smile encouragingly (I didn’t say maniacally), immediately tell her how proud you are, how her health and happiness is important to you, tell her you are there for her, and ask if there is anything you can do to support her. Be willing to accept an answer of “No.” And then just pray for her. Can’t hurt. 
  • Know what HER goals are.  If she says 10 pounds and you think 20 is better, keep that to yourself.  Know not only her ideal weight goals, but what her food plan is, her time frame (many women are working towards a goal: summer, that reunion, a IMG_2658wedding, a party).  Try not to get in and take over, or be tempted to tweak.  Chances are, she can figure out that 20 pounds is more what she needs.  Ask how you can support her goals.  DON’T NAG if she doesn’t exactly follow the stated plan to the letter.  Of course is she is telling you she’s on the potato-chip and cupcake diet, or wine and cheese diet,  she might need a little reality check.  But trust me, guys,  there are some crazy diets out there, which while perhaps impractical for the long-term at least get us moving in the right direction.  We are smart.  We know we can’t sustain eating 800 calories worth of shakes and protein bars forever.  We just need that incentive to keep going, and to fire up our metabolism burn.
  • You are not her coach.  You play a supporting role, only.  Don’t tell her how many calories, crackers or reps.  Just ask her how you can support her goals.  Unless it is to order her a Big Mac, every night.  Maybe then you can say, I don’t think I’d be supporting you well if I did that…
  • When she moans that her diet is not working while she’s stuffing a cookie into her mouth, take a deep breath.  Tell her everyone hits plateaus. We all mess up, that’s just human.  Ignore that cookie.  Don’t even look at it.  Tomorrow is a new day, honey.  What can I do to help? And then hug her.  Don’t try to wrestle the cookie out of her hand, but if you play your cards right, she might put it down if she feels loved and attractive to you. 
  • Don’t tell her what YOU think works for you.  Please.  We all know that men and women lose weight differently.  Support her plan. 
  • When she loses a pound… even a half a pound… whatever makes her seem a little excited… jump up and down, high five her, hug her, CELEBRATE!!  Tell her how you knew she would do it, how proud you are.  Be supportive of every little accomplishment, even if it is she didn’t eat the whole pizza this time.
  • If you (or she) proposes eating a meal out, ask her what works best for her.  IMG_2748Survey menus on line in advance  Anything with lots of soup, salad or small bite options are best.  Anyplace with deep fried, wok fried or any fried, big on the carbs (pizza, buns, pasta), or lacking in green vegetables, probably not so good.  I know that more and more, I am picking my meal long before I hit the restaurant, and plan my other food accordingly (yes, I know that at the Greek restaurant I WILL order the galaktouboureko dessert, even if only to have a couple bites.  I don’t get to have galaktouboureko often).  I also know that I am most tempted to be bad when eating out.  Occasional treats or cheats are OK, as long as you plan them.
  • Keep asking what you can do to help support her.  Please resist the urge to tell her what you think would work better!  My hubby loves to run on the track, and IMG_2734swim laps in a highly-chlorinated (and maybe urinated) public pool.  He can think of few better ways to exercise, and I’d have to agree these are good ones.  BUT,  I HATE dusty, dirty, crowded, sun-beating-down-on-you tracks. I’d much rather hike on a shady scenic path.  My long hair (which has some help staying blond, i.e., doesn’t like chlorine) takes about an hour to style, and I sometimes can get away with a week between wash and style.  Swimming doesn’t work for me.  Walking, yoga, hiking, biking, an occasional gym machine workout with my hair pulled up and a sweat band, I can do.
  • Women supporting women is an ideal way to have accountability with empathyIMG_2944(sorry, I do not think this a trait found in male DNA).   This is why the Weight Watcher’s model has worked for many (it stopped working for me a few decades ago, alas).  Encourage your wife to pair up with a female friend if she can.  Even churches run programs to provide diet support. At some point you are not going to make the right empathetic statements, and occasionally you are going to be the sole reason of her IMG_2943weight problems (she doesn’t really mean it, but it will come out that way).  You need a back-up cheerleader. My best friend is a wonderful cheerleader, a great support, a good listener; I know she gets what this is all

    IMG_2746about.  She makes the right sympathetic statements, and knows when to encourage, and when to gently admonish/motivate.  She’s the queen of positive spin. Of great emojis.   She’s the bestie who will cheat with you and say, “we’re starting the diet tomorrow.” She’s been here.

  • ASK HER WHAT WILL HELP HER, AND LISTEN.  It might not make sense to you, but it does to her.  I just asked my husband if instead of plopping his cookie package on the counter in plain view, if he could PLEASE hide it away.  I have even given him his own high cabinet for this purpose.  He looks at me like I’m a little crazy, and I admit to him that in desperate moments I might be tempted to raid his stash, but it provides me with a more controlled environment.  As for the Heath Klondike IMG_2914Bars that just “showed up” in the freezer… still trying to figure out how to disguise this-and resist it.

Don’t let her diet “punish” you.  This is the hardest thing for SJ and me, as we are with each other constantly. We both are on our own for breakfast, lunch, and between, but I usually plan our dinner together.  A healthy lean and green paleo-inspired dinner may not be what he wants all the time, I get that (I try to make appetizing dishes).  I’m a good sport and will make a pot of his favorite starchy white rice, or a baked potato for him.  There are days when he’s craving a box of southern fried chicken, a greasy food-truck plate, a Mexican plate, or a nice 610 calorie 57g carb pot-pie, and I don’t begrudge him these treats.  He is a fit man, he controls his intake and exercise over the long range.  I’m fine with that, but I won’t partake while trying to diet–I know my weaknesses, and yes, it is a little tempting.  He fries up bacon in the morning, and the lingering smell is irresistible.  He’ll ask if I want IMG_2834some, and often I’m strong enough to say no as I fix my protein shake.  More times than not, if he makes extra, I can slip it away to top a healthy salad later.  All I can say, is, for a period of time, maybe you guys can have your little treats in secret, and maybe not in our faces.  Don’t deprive yourself with her diet, but stop and ask yourself what is supportive for the short run? 

(Today, in honor of July 4, I suggested that I defrost a couple hamburger patties for us; they’d most likely be served bunless, on a bed of greens, with tomatoes and avocados.  Some cool watermelon with fresh mint and lime juice on the side.  He mentioned his favorite burger joint– would I want to walk over later?  I smiled and said, “sure, I’ll walk over with you.”  He realized what I was saying.  “But you won’t order one?”  “No, but it’s OK.  I’m fine cooking mine at home later, where I have more control over the calories and less temptation.” This seemed to devolve into a deprivation for him, despite my urgings for him to go indulge himself, he can afford it. I don’t know quite what happened after that… but our conversation spirals down.  Everything I requested he do to support me was met with what he thinks he’s been going above and beyond doing.  He seems guilty for proposing the “bad burger,” and resentful I am resisting.  I think he gets defensive that I’m judging his “treats” as “bad,” when all I’m trying to say is that they are bad for me in diet mode, could he please just put them out of sight to help me? He starts suggesting what I should do (and by inference, that what I am doing isn’t right).  He defends himself and claims to be supportive.  I ask him to listen to what I need, and not for him to tell me what I should do, or what he wants to do for me.  He asks if I want to go walking with him… I say sure, envisioning a nice shady walk in 90 degree weather.  He meant track. Sigh, apparently he hasn’t been listening.   We’ve been here before…  I silently–and not-so-silently– wonder why he doesn’t hear me. And angry words are IMG_2931exchanged).

And you know how this all started? Today I broke through a major weight hurdle, a crazy number on my scale that had been MIA for about 18 months.  My body stubbornly would not budge below that “magical”  number.  This is purely psychological, but 4/10 of a pound lower from yesterday was a real motivator to keep me going.  I still have a long way to go to my goal.  But today I was happy, relieved, vindicated, motivated, and a little proud.

And all I wanted was a hug and a “good job, babe, I’m proud of you.”

 

Posted in On Being Imperfect Me | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Alive and Writing

I have been a writing beast, so forgive radio silence.IMG_2887

I love my new book.  I hope others will too.  131 pages down, maybe a bit more than half done?

SJ, wonderful husband that he is, has been most understanding about my writing obsession.

Made it through my wonderful Girls’ Weekend without writing DTs, I confess I had to pick it up a few times when everyone else was napping, already in bed, or watching a hockey game (who are you and what have you done to my girlfriends?).

I got back to yoga 4 times this week; day trip out of town with SJ for house exploration; have set up some social times with old friends; did laundry and sheets.  Otherwise I can usually be found glued to my computer, writing, researching, editing.  Like, hmmmm, when was the last time I washed my hair?  Forget taking that extra time to straighten it smooth, it’s been a crazy curly mess for the better IMG_2886part of a week.  Each morning it’s like:  hair, or write.  Write wins.

Started again in earnest on the diet to RE-lose the 25 (30?) I regained after the big 75.  Five pounds down.  So many to go for my goal of late summer wedding.  Pulling out all of the low-cal standbys: This Weight Watchers Key Lime pie is da bomb (43 calories a slice).  Who says dieting can’t be delicious?  Now to not eat the whole pie at one sitting.

But I am good.  SJ and I manage to stick with our Sunday talks.  We dislike the Love and Respect book so thoroughly that we have decided to move on to another, which SJ likes better (Why Marriages Succeed or Fail… and How You Can Make Yours Last). Will let you know what we think. Meanwhile, he’s been extremely proactive on suggesting bedroom dates.  I am currently the one who needs to be better at dropping my obsession and focusing back on him. IMG_2888 Again, he’s been supremely understanding, but I do believe I’m pushing his tolerance envelope, which is saying a lot (Mr. Hermit can be quite happy in his books, documentaries, news, and his own schedule).

A BIG anniversary is looming, right before the BIG wedding, so plans for that are still in the works.  I have gently suggested an alternative to his first suggestion (after asking him to think of things). Bad me, I know.  I REALLY appreciated he tried. It’s just that the wonderful location he researched is in a VERY HOT and rustic location for summertime, with no beaches, a rustic woodsy venue, and a better choice for cooler seasons when hiking isn’t so sweaty and buggy.  Campfires and s’mores will be so much nicer in October.  I don’t do well with HOT, and as SJ quips, Happy Wife, Happy Life.  So, it’s back on me to come up with a plan for a quick and cheap getaway somewhere cooler and perhaps less rustic?  Gotta put that at the top of the to-do list.

Marriage is work, folks–even in semi-retirement.  So easy to let things slide.  It’s at it’s best when you are at peace (for us, kid-free–this doesn’t mean 100% worry free about the kids); you both have passions that excite you (for me right now it’s the writing; I also have a few clients);  a purpose to make dedicated time for each other priority; and a plan (reconnaissance to look at locations and model homes together, and dreaming about the “Forever Home.”  SJ is a genius to have suggested last week’s recon, it makes me happy we are operating as a team,  looking and planning together, so that in a year from now we know where we are going. I’ve been sooooo good not to obsess

or nag about what I LOVE, a tactic that tends to push him in the opposite direction.  I state once, maybe twice, “Gee, that really seemed right for us;”  he gives a little non-committal grunt, points out it’s more than we can really afford; a week or two later, he’s suggesting we might be able to make it work…).

IMG_9220

This takes like an hour’s work…

OK, need to go wash hair and make it pretty.

IMG_9621

The best of a non-frizz day

Cheers!

Posted in On Life in General, On Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing “Dilemma”

Image result for writer's muse good

It’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been experiencing a rare writing dilemma.

It’s a good dilemma, but a tricky one.

Image result for writer's muse goodMy muse has kicked back in, with a vengeance.  It is both exciting, and a little bit scary at the same time.  Scary because sometimes I feel I have no control over it. It just sort of grabs me by the hand and whisks me off at break-neck speed.

Deep breath here.

So, quick update from A Submitted Wife.

Hubby has had his nose in about 3 to 4 different Christian books on marriage.  He’s been in study mode.  He has invited me to join him.  I’ve been in study mode in the past, and sort of felt burned by it.  Lots of investment, and little return over the long run.  Lots of good knowledge, but poor follow through.  Hope, followed by disappointment.

Le sigh.

But, I will try again.  I love him.  We are worth fighting for.  Defeat is not an option.  We have re-instituted weekly talk times, right now centered around the book/study Love and Respect.  I’m finding this to be an annoyingly incipient book.  The so-called Pastor who wrote it and leads retreats on it has exactly the correct idea and “formula,” for arresting what he calls the “Crazy Cycle” between spouses… but he really lost me with anecdotes about forgetting his wife’s birthday, and leaving his wet towels on the bed/floor even after knowing this is something that annoys her (and which every normal-functioning  human being can remedy quite easily), and then suggesting she still can respect him. Perhaps that’s his goal, to prove that it could be worse, Virginia.  But we decided to muddle through the accompanying workbooks, since we bought them after all; and just use them as a general guide for our weekly talks.  I don’t mean to denigrate this book right out of chapter one, and maybe my views will change.  I’ll let you know.

Hubby has completed three books in full (have I mentioned he’s a rabid bibliophile?).  He really has good things to say about The Meaning of Marriage (Keller) which I’ll read next.  So the news on the marriage/relationship front is that we are committed to trying and I am really working on not protecting my heart for fear of disappointment.

09da7-writing_woman

Now, on to my “writing dilemma.”  I attempt to keep up with 3 different blogs: one on travel, another on education, and this one.  This one gets most of my attention; God seems to have placed in my heart to relate the good, bad, ugly, and beautiful of imperfect marriage, and share a hopeful story.   I’ve been long overdue on writing up posts for the travel blog; there is a ton of raw material ready to be crafted into posts, and I’ve managed to churn out two in the past couple of weeks.  Education blog gets the least attention, but as it does occasionally bring me clients, I need to tend to that one more.

Then there’s my novels.  Did you know I’m a “published author?” Over more than three decades I have worked on an epic novel, which I eventually broke into a 5-book series, and e-published on Kindle.  It was hard to let go of this baby, it sort of grew up with me. Editing and revising and polishing were my real bugaboos. In the end though,  I think it’s pretty good, no, REALLY good, but I’m lost on the marketing side to this process (I know, I need an agent).  It’s had a handful of readers, but I know it’s not everyone’s genre.  It’s even hard to describe the genre: a “Fifty Shades with a brain,” meets “search for traditional Christian marriage, with romance Image result for writer's museand pinches of international intrigue laced in.”  LOL, it’s a novel that wanted to be everything, but in the end, if you get to Book 5, there is a redemption story.  If you read FSOG, I promise my books are far superior; if you hated FSOG “because that kind of stuff is sick” or you have moral issues with explicit writing about non-vanilla love, I’m not your author. I published under a pen name because I’m not sure I want the world that knows me, to know I wrote what some might think of as “smut” (but let me know if you’d be interested; I can private email you links, the books are ridiculously cheap, and it’d be a good beach read).

I knew I had to cut the apron strings on that first novel series (Book Five just was uploaded about two months ago), before I could begin writing something new.  I’d have ideas, I’d jot them into my iPhone notes.  But nothing new was seriously motivating me.

Then a week ago I started to develop a character.  My writing process is pretty bad for someone who is an educator and has taught the “proper” writing process of outlines, characters, story arch, etc.  I claim I’m the “Hemingway brand” of writer, where “the story was writing itself and I was having a hard time keeping up with it”  (please note that I in no way compare myself to the great Hemingway).  Sometimes I’m just excited to find out where this story will go,  where it will take me, as my readers may one day be. I balk at coming up with instant and formulaic endings, and really tight structure.  Sometimes I have to immerse myself into my characters and my story before I can decide how it might end.

Image result for writer's museThis new story has taken hold of me and taken over my life.  I eat, drink, breath this story.  There’s rarely a time when it’s not on my mind.  I wake up with it and fall asleep with it (if I can fall asleep– there have been many a past-midnight session in the past week).  I can’t clear my head in yoga because the story won’t leave my mind.  I’m having to constantly write notes when I’m not in reach of my keyboard.  In a little less than a week’s time, I’ve written 41 pages of manuscript; copy and pasted countless pages of research; I’ve created a pretty comprehensive outline, and notes, something quite unlike me.  There is actually a direction for this writing, but it’s like drinking at a fire hose right now because I can’t keep up with it.  It’s a living, breathing thing that’s taken up residence inside me.

A thrilling and daunting feeling, all at once.  The control this has over me is at times frightening.

I’ve explained it to my husband, and I’ve asked for forgiveness in advance.  I’ve told him that I do not mean to ignore him, but I’ve just got to ride this muse while it’s here.  He’s been very understanding.  But I know pretty soon I will need to come up with a writing schedule.

Related imageI’m also about to take off on a fabulous girls’ weekend, where there will be EIGHT of us hanging out at a beach house for 4 lovely days.  En route, I get to have two lovely days with one of the besties.  These gatherings are just amazing, and I love them.  To miss one is agony. To not be “present” is inconceivable.

But now I feel like, “how can I put my writing on hold for nearly six full days??”  There’s no way to take it with me, I couldn’t possibly face a choice between the call of my muse, and my life-long friends.

The dilemma of writing.  Dry periods, periods when it feels forced and fake; periods whenImage result for writer's muse good it feels authentic and true (“all you have to do is write one true sentence.  Write the truest sentence that you know.”  Another Hemingway truism.)

So, I’m excited.

That is all.

The book is calling me.

 

 

Posted in On Life in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Be Completely Humble and Gentle…

Image result for forgivenessI’m a bit more active on the blogging in this season for several reasons: 1) to see how things progress in this difficult time; 2) to check in with my sanity; 3) and hopefully, to show some progress out of the dark valley.

First, it took me a full three days to finally be able to talk, without anger (and I mean FULL days of being constantly in each other’s presence in very small areas– like 2,000 miles in the car, hotel rooms, and around our kids). There still was plenty of sadness, dare I say it, depression… and lots of prayers… but I could finally talk without being angry and nasty, while still being honest.

Having wallowed through some pretty dire and depressing thoughts over the past few days, I was reduced to groans to God of, “I don’t know what to do… tell me.”

Oh yeah, He told me.  He kept giving me a verse I know well, one I used to teach students:

Be completely humble and gentle.  Be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ack!  God, that’s NOT the verse I want right now!  I want something like, “Shame on the husband who makes his wife sad…” (there IS such a verse, isn’t there? The closest I can find is “May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and distress.”)  But yeah, he’s not gloating or exalting; he’s sad too…

I also listened to a TED talk podcast I’ve kept open on my browser for MONTHS.  It was Related imageabout The Power of Vulnerability, and it was spot on (more on this later).

Yesterday SJ coaxed me to go to church (we are away from “home” so we often just take a mini vacation from Sunday worship, often watching the stream from our home church). I wanted to say no, but reasoned that it couldn’t hurt me.  I still felt so distant from him, as ironically the verses from 1 Corinthians 7 were read and preached on (the ones about husbands and wives fulfilling their marital duties and yielding their bodies to each other).  Although most of the sermon focused in on the “ministry” or state of being single, I found myself actually quietly scoffing at Paul’s words, as I put as much of a distance in the pew between my spouse and I as I dare.  I think the apostle Paul is amazing, but in so many ways he does get under my skin (in good and bad ways).  I know that he really wasn’t a total chauvinist, yet I still can’t read some of his epistles without bristling a little. However, what he says is always convicting, and he has quite a bit to say about marriage, husbands and wives.

On the way home SJ asked me to “forgive him.” It just came out so… so… insincerely, to my ears.  Not “I acknowledge this behavior wasn’t right; do you forgive me for doing x, and I want to improve,” but sort of like a statement that expects a blanket absolution for “whatever the hell makes her mad,” and move on with a clear conscience.

Well of course as a Christian I am supposed to forgive.  And as a person who doesn’t want to be poisoned by unforgiveness, I know the need to forgive, if for nothing more than my own soul.  But I couldn’t say a word in response to his statement.  I did feel guilty that it seemed mean of me… but he didn’t actually seem to want an “answer” per se.  And of course, that made me angry again– to feel guilty for not responding with unconditional forgiveness.  Feeling guilty that what I wanted to say is “No! I don’t forgive you any more. Related image I’m out of forgiveness, you’ve used it all up!”

After another day of keeping quietly to ourselves, I realized what bugged me.  Wanting to fix things, and actually committing to fixing things, are two different things. Seeking forgiveness means I put the bad behavior/actions/sin behind me, and commit to actively changing.  To not do THAT again.

Later in the day, he also wanted me to watch our home church sermon.  Sheez, God is persistent.  The sermon series is about relationships and this one addressed the “need” for (healthy) conflict in marriages (versus sweeping things under the rug).

I prayed as I tried once again to find sleep last night, not daring to take another dose of Ambien (although I learned it would take 200 of these pills to actually overdose).

By this morning I had really had enough of the silence and impasse and inability to sleep.  I asked if he wanted to talk.  He readily agreed.

As an aside, he’s continuing to read the marriage books.  He has articulated that he’s starting to see that he may have married with the wrong expectations (to “acquire” a smart, interesting, and attractive wife, who would make him feel happy and complete, to assuage loneliness, and to not be that pathetic old single guy); and that he perhaps has guarded his heart (because of previous hurts).  These thoughts are breakthroughs, but not at all surprising to me.

I tried hard to stick to the “I feel… when you…” statements.  The number one for me is that I would feel loved to know he is there to defend me, to support me, and to show he expects respect towards his wife, his woman.  Since he doesn’t do this with our kids (I invoke the Biblical mandates about honor to parents), I don’t even trust him to do this at large, and this feels like such a betrayal.  He cares much more about his own need to not be embroiled in unpleasantness, or God forbid, that someone won’t like him.  That does not feel loving to me, nor protective.  I don’t ask him to endorse anything unreasonable, just that blanket expectation that he could firmly and with conviction say, “You can’t speak so disrespectfully to your mother, my wife.  It’s OK for you to disagree, but do so with honor and respect.”  I don’t particularly want my kids to honor me solely out of a sense of duty (as I’ve had to with my Dad); I most certainly prefer that they honor me out of love and devotion.

We both have things to work on.  It made my heart cheer a little to hear him say that he Image result for vulnerabilityis realizing that “Our marriage is supposed to glorify God;” and “I need to do and give without expectation of return.”

Amen.

I feel exactly the same way, but oh, it’s so, so, so hard to carry that off in a one-sided way. Because if you both don’t buy into this, it doesn’t really work.  We need to just keep praying and giving it to God.

I cried a lot.  I admitted to some really, really dark and dire thoughts.  These shocked him and made him a little upset (not my intention, I told him I wasn’t saying anything for purposes of manipulation or blackmail, just that I’ve even  been shocked to feel myself so hopeless). I reiterated my commitment to also read the books and renew the respect he needs (he pointed out a few moments where he felt disrespected, and I obviously have a lot of work on perceiving this better).

With our conversation, thoughts aired, and some of the pressing weight of this sadness relieved, I went out to run some errands and feel semi-normal.  By the time I returned home, I realized something in my heart.  Oooooo, I struggled so much to say it though!  What if… what if… I can’t risk my heart being trampled…

Image result for vulnerabilityAnd I went for it…

“Vulnerable.  I’m going to be vulnerable…” I muttered as I walked towards him.

“Huh?” he asked in confusion.

“I hate feeling apart from you,” I said.  Whoa.  That is hard to say.

He hugged me, and agreed.  He told me, “I’ve got you.”

Good answer.

Image result for vulnerability

Posted in Fruit of the Spirit, On Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Weary

My amazing BFFL describes it as the mountains and valleys.  And she’s reconciled that inImage result for mountains and valleys her marriage.  She just keeps looking forward to those mountain moments.

Marriage isn’t smooth sailing for many people.  It certainly isn’t for us.

Most of us want to have those Facebook-perfect lives, and we want to portray the image of having it all together.  Frankly, I love believing in the fairy tale of it all, the happily-ever-after.  But maybe it’s this fantasy that bites me in the butt every time… the hope that things will be OK.  Reality sucks.

Some of the time things are good for us.  I want to say that this is the case most of the time, because in the whole scheme of things we have a pretty charmed life with few major problems.  There are no life-threatening illnesses, no kids on drugs or in prison, no horrendous family problems, no massive debt or money problems.  We have minor health issues, our kids are now all college graduates in various stages of getting their lives established, and we have yet to figure out what we want our future to look like and where we want to spend it… if we want to spend it together as a “we.”

Yet these valleys in our relationship seem capable of going to new and darker lows each time.  Sometimes it’s the same old issue again and again.  I lose hope. I want to give up.  I don’t see a way beyond it.  I suppose that sometimes I need to ask myself if “it’s me;” am I having unreasonable “bi-polar” reactions when things are bad?  Why is it so difficult to dredge up that positive that I spoke of in my last post?

Here’s the thing: I wrote previously about how marriage is hard work.  In that post I wrote (comparing our REALLY difficult years to the present): “The difference is, we acknowledge we don’t have all the answers and we don’t know everything.  We may be a bit wiser in our “old age,” but every new challenge or situation can torpedo us unlike any before, and throw us into a major tailspin.  Thing is, we have discovered some things that help us from descending into an irrecoverable flame-out.”

I’m trying to recall just what things we discovered to head off that flame-out.

We’re trying to pray more.

img_0301The recurring theme over and over for me is whether we both really want to do that hard work required by marriage.  It exhausts me.  And I have persistently felt like it’s too hard for him.  He will make promises to me to “step up” in this marriage, but he can’t sustain the efforts.  There is a tease of what he is capable of being as a husband, leader, lover, and best friend… and then it just fades away again.  Part of it is because he’s human and imperfect, just like me.  Part of it may be because I’m a lot to handle.  But I can’t escape the feeling that it’s just because it’s too hard for him.

I’m sure he thinks similar things… “She can’t sustain the things I need in a wife, help-meet, lover and best friend…” 

This dance is so hard.  The moment one of us isn’t living up, the other begins to falter, and it’s a vicious cycle, a whirling vortex,  that’s hard to pull out of.

…And it’s the weariness of trying, and having it go bad over and over.

So, some people will say, “Why do you stay if you aren’t happy?  Surely there are ways to be happier…”  Five years ago I was really buying into that theory.  I felt like anything would be better than staying in a miserable, sexless, and morose marriage.  Miraculously we fixed a few things.  We didn’t stay sexless.  We tried to be happier by being more patient and respectful (what he needs).  He attempted to be more loving and romantic (what I need).  It kinda sorta worked for a while.  You get a glimpse of the person you fell in love with, and the marriage that you always wanted.

And then it slips away.  Sometimes so gradually you don’t notice (except maybe when imagethree or four weeks slip by and there is no sex).  Sometimes it is represented in the moment your offspring treats you like shit, and your spouse does absolutely nothing to show his loyalty or support of his wife, maybe even throws you under the bus a little (a common issue our entire life together).  It’s so demoralizing.  It’s like getting shot in the heart again just as the previous wound is scabbing over.

Is that the way it’s supposed to be?

The “fix” began 5 years ago only because I was convincingly ready to leave, to chuck it all.  He had a choice, to give it up or try harder.  He chose the latter– but temporarily.  I also had to step up and try harder too.  I don’t know who starts flailing first… but of course I think it’s him.   I don’t want the threat of me leaving to be what causes him to work harder.  I sure as hell wouldn’t like that threat.

So you sit here and ask yourself– what IS good about us?  Will we ever find another person to even remotely care about the imperfect people we are?  Will we ever find someone we can trust as much… what, not to be totally disloyal?  Can we continue to survive the emotional disloyalty we seem to default to?  Will we ever find another who takes marriage vows seriously enough not to be gone at the first glimmer of inconvenience, sickness, or discord?

Can we survive the valleys and live off the mountain moments, however few and far between they become?

 

Posted in On Marriage | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment