I’ve not done a great job on taking my own advice of late. I’ve been in a blah mood, and not so nice to hubby. I’ve not been practicing my loving thoughts and attitudes. Yeah, maybe a little bitchy. Sometimes I revert to those dire thoughts of whether we really should be together. I stop feeling pursued or special. Passion had started taking a nose-dive for us. There is a tendency to get lazy about intentionality in expressions of love, passion, and intimacy. This often feels like a reversion to a time when we were merely co-existing under the same roof as virtual roommates–and it puts me into a panic. The panic makes me not very nice.
For some reason, for all of the good we’ve had, February was not an easy month relationally. And thank God we did communicate when my bad mood grew toxic. Just wish we could communicate before I’m in crisis mode.
We are barely a year into the new chapter of our lives, the one where suddenly the demands and busy-ness of life has come to a screeching halt. We are “retired,” at a fairly young age (and happy to be out of the stresses of the “rat race”). We make our own schedules. We try to remain gainfully involved in activities and causes outside ourselves. But it’s still A LOT of time together, a state we’ve never before experienced.
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, what does proximity do?
Another chapter we started not to long ago is mending and reviving our marriage. About five years ago, we were headed towards a messy ending. By the grace of God, we pulled our marriage out the fire, and have been dusting off the ashes in search of those diamonds ever since.
Some days are definite diamonds. We both work on being the love that we promised to be in a covenant relationship. We count our hundreds of blessings in this life.
Some days are coal and dust. The old nature and habits creep in: the laziness, the “take-for-granted,” the impatience, the little annoyances, the mean spirited sarcasm; and threaten to sabotage marital happiness.
In the day-to-day, we are learning how to work this and establish routines that keep us fruitfully occupied. We each have separate exercise plans; he’s taking adult learning classes; I’m volunteering with a local church and also tutoring. We both read, but he out-reads me 10 to 1. I write: I out-write him 10 to 1. We do local hikes, kayaking, events, tours, and museums; occasional movies and dinner out. We’ve never been big TV people, but have taken to watching some of the mini-series we missed when life was so busy. I’ve attempted to draw up a chore chart to share the wealth of keeping our small place clean; asked if he could be “in charge” of cooking one meal a week. We don’t have many friends in our new locale, but as this is my old town, I do get to occasionally meet up with old friends. And we enjoy entertaining friends who visit. We are learning to be alone together when we need to be.
When we “retired” (I prefer to call it “reinventing ourselves” and “the next chapter”) a friend “mentioned the three Ps for retirement: A Plan, a Passion, and a Purpose. To be successfully retired, you need these things. It can’t all be serendipity. And it can’t be 24/7 getting into each other’s way.
Our current passion is world travel, and we plan to do that for at least the next decade while we have our relative good health, mobility, and funds. We have a substantial bucket list, and although we’ve done all 50 states and 40+ countries, there’s so much more to see! The up side is that we see the big beautiful world, and experience other cultures, foods, sights and languages. There’s a lot of joy in this, and the memories that result. The down side is that travel can be stressful, AND it puts you in close proximity to one another for extended periods of time.
Both of us traveled successfully as singles, and I recall many times watching that sunset alone, or seeing that amazing castle or painting or mountaintop, wishing there was someone to share the awe and beauty with me. Yet both of us have slightly different approaches to travel, and this can at times work at cross purposes. It is my “talent” that I can find good deals, and SJ is happy to leave this to me (especially since my cleanliness and comfort requirements are a bit more stringent than his; he doesn’t cock an eyebrow at a flea-bag hotel). I also happen to be a little better at navigation. SJ is better at reading the history guides and finding the best spots to tour. He can walk serendipitously for hours on end; I need a plan, and periodic and enjoyable coffee breaks at lovely cafes. We try really hard to compliment each other’s travel styles, but don’t always succeed. Sometimes we get quite annoyed with each other. Sometimes I bemoan his reluctance to lead or be decisive. Instead of the back and forth, “where do you want to go… what do you want to do…” I just cut it off and make the decision, take the lead. And then I get really tired of always making the decisions. I’ve actually requested him to take a day to make all the decisions for us. I promise to not be picky about the decisions he makes.
So this is the fatal flaw in our “plan.” If we get annoyed in close proximity, travel together is a tricky pursuit. If I want a husband-leader, it won’t happen as we follow our passion of travel. And given that we’ve boarded an airplane six times in 2017 by mid-February; and will have traveled half way across the globe by the end of this month, we have lots of opportunities to get on each other’s nerves. And can I just say, I truly would love it to not be this way?
I’d love to be walking into countless gorgeous sunsets over turquoise and cerulean waters, hand in hand and so totally in love and blown away by God’s creations. Enjoying the exotic tastes and smells and people of distant places.
We are about to leave for nearly a month of travel. Two weeks is planned out for us with a larger group, so I’m guessing that will go well as it won’t just be only us two. Then follows another 12 days together.
I am praying to find the peace and joy of this passion of travel, with him at my side. To be grateful that we have this awesome opportunity. To be grateful for him, for us, for our love.
To be love.