I’ve begun multiple posts in recent months, and decided not to post them.
Too whiny. Too ungrateful.
Blogging is tricky. At least for me it is, now. I’m not totally anonymous (my initial goal had been to just “come out” and be “me”). However that means anyone connected to my blogging is not anonymous. I have not truly gone public to a wide swath of friends saying, “Hey, read my blog.” Hubby has expressed his extreme discomfort about being THIS transparent. And, I get it. Even my offer to give him full editorial privileges over my blogging has not been acceptable for him. Quite frankly, he does what he always does when he truly doesn’t want to deal with something. He ignores it. I’m not sure he’s read my blog in a long, long time.
However, to write my life and my feelings, my joys and disappointments, and all the lessons learned therein, the people who matter to me will be included. Namely, SJ, my dear husband.
This blog began with a desire to share the “wisdom of living”–with anyone who is seeking— from the point of view of a mature, sexy, married woman who has been through a roller coaster ride of a marriage and life. A Christian woman who wasn’t/isn’t perfect (actually was quite debauched for a period of time in the single years), but relies completely on a Savior, and the doctrine of forgiveness and salvation; a woman who has had difficulties trusting, and hence finds submission and surrender in marriage a constant challenge; a woman who after 25 years KNOWS WITHOUT A DOUBT that she can trust the man she married, but again, seems to have to re-learn this truth daily.
Our life continues to change, daily. Sometimes it’s lovely, wonderful, and exciting changes. Sometimes it’s frustrating changes (mostly age-related). Looking back and dwelling on the negatives never is helpful, but at times it is instructive.
Here are a few truths I pass along today:
Live your big life moments before marriage: If you have big dreams that involve travel, daring or crazy fun, and spending money, get that out of your system before you marry. I have friends who wanted nothing more than to be married at age 21. They spent their 20s and 30s cash-strapped and stressed to pay a mortgage and the expenses of family, not to mention having to save for college. Now that some have launched their kids, they are able to go on to enjoy a fun life while they were still relatively young and mobile, but it’s a risk you take that you’ll be able, after all the wear and tear and money of raising a family—not to mention the loss of yourself and your passions. It makes me sad to see so many men (yes, it’s usually men) leave their first wife in their 40s and 50s; to take up with a young gal who is fun and sexy. It’s all good for a few years, until the young chic begins to have visions of wheelchairs and adult diapers.
For all the singles out there– whether by choice or not: LIVE YOUR LIFE. Don’t wait for someone to live it with you (when I followed this advice my husband unexpectedly walked into my life when I was 33; yet if he hadn’t, I had made a plan in my early 30s about how I was going to enjoy my life as a single).
Be Kind: ‘Nuf Said.
Save it: yeah, I mean your virtue (and, if you say “already too late,” I urge you to try to stop damaging your future marriage with more bedroom conquests). I’m hoping to do some research into this, but it’s not easy to get people who saved it for marriage to talk about this. Yet those I know seem to be quite devoted to each other. They are the only one they’ve had intimacy with, and therefore “the best.” Intimacy is something special that you saved for one person, it’s not trite or overdone. Having done the opposite, I’m pretty convinced that sleeping around before marriage never helped any marriage. Giving your heart away one too many times can really damage you. Once you know about all the other “flavors” out there, you will always have something to compare, perhaps something to long for. And trust me, it can take on mythical proportions (that unreliable jerk of a boyfriend may have been super romantic and hot in bed; because our physical memories can be more potent, we tend to forget all the emotional negatives).
Romance: Don’t let it die once you’re married. Understand your job description, which is essentially written by your mate! For her, maybe it’s flowers, massages, love notes, cuddles, or taking out the trash. For him, maybe it’s letting him go to his man cave, scratching his back, and well, respecting him of course (men feel love by respect). Work on romance as if it’s your full-time job, even when you maybe don’t feel like it. Like, you will get fired if you don’t excel at it. And be very clear up front about your love languages. While it’s not necessarily a deal breaker, if you can barely breathe without physical touch and closeness, don’t marry someone who cannot speak this love language (perhaps they can learn it, but they will rarely become fluent or natural in it).
Children: Don’t have them if you or your spouse are selfish. It’s OK to be married without kids. Don’t have them to affirm yourself, or to make your marriage better. Chances are, children will challenge any good marriage, and kill a bad marriage. Raising kids is hard and expensive. IF you have kids, love them unconditionally, even when they aren’t lovable (and express that to them daily); don’t just train them to be giving, polite, trustworthy, honorable and responsible citizens—model it daily (more caught than taught). Turn a deaf ear to their petty complaints. Go to church. Teach them giving. Keep focusing them back on all the blessings. Don’t squelch their spirit. Read to them every day from birth on. And ENJOY THEM when they are young and adore you. They will grow up, they will “hate” you, become snarky, they will challenge you, and distance themselves. If you were a decent parent, eventually they’ll come back and say “Hey, you were a pretty good parent… but not perfect. Watch me do this better when I’m a parent…
Older Parents: Take care of them (aka “honor.”) This truly may be the hardest thing you’ll have to do, now that people are living so long. Harder still when our parents are difficult or have been a source of grief to us. This deserves its own post, but the bottom line is obey the 5th commandment and trust in that promise. Our kids are watching us, and they will one day decide how to care for you (quick note: you can honor from love; or you can honor from duty. Just do it).
Purpose, Plan, Passion: I know I’ve written about this before. Every life needs these three. If you are part of a couple, you both need it, together and individually. While early life can drive this by necessity (you have to have a job; a budget or plan to live), retired life can be tricky. I love retirement. I have had so many people recently asking me what I like about it (and a fair number of people asking “what do you do with yourself?” as if I should feel ashamed I’m not working a 50-hour work week, mowing a lawn or cleaning gutters). What I like about retirement is the opportunity to do what I want to do and not what I have to do; and also the chance to serve without need for compensation. My passions are varied, but usually involve anything travel, international, using my languages, children, church ministry, and education. I’m working on how to bring these together into my purpose(s) now—re-inventing myself with a plan to begin a new chapter. I’m proud of my different “schizophrenic” life chapters (from careers in translating, Foreign Service, economics, educator, writer, novelist, and many other things). I’m not one-dimensional but wonderfully multi-dimensional. I look forward to carving a few more facets into my complex diamond. When we move out closer to the mountains of the Old Dominion State, I think about wonderfully wild ideas like teaching at toddler ski school (I love kids, I love skiing, I’ve slowed down a bit and don’t take the black diamonds…), or perhaps owning that horse I’ve always wanted. Teaching Yoga to the elderly or to the pre-school set. So much ahead. Maybe even grandchildren someday. Yes, I love retirement, and I guarantee it won’t be a sedentary one if I can help it.
Live life big. God Bless. Namaste!