Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Marriage Maxims Minimized

Preparing to marry in the Catholic church requires a lot of prep seemingly designed to measure the amount of stress a relationship between an agnostic guy and Catholic girl can take to bring the couple closer together.

During the retreat there were experienced couples sharing their stories of marriage - tips to make the relationship last and flourish. And I listened. Contritely. After all, we had already been friends for 8 years, we had a child well on her way to 2, and I knew dang well I went to bed angry. More than once. And I knew he had, too. There seemed to be an abundance of couples in the world who had a lovely anecdote ready to share - and our relationship was not living up to the generally accepted "guidelines for a great marriage." Nah, no stress there. But we persevered - the only casualty being an electric griddle which I still miss to this day. Twenty years later.

Yes, today marks the 20th anniversary (china anniversary) of my marriage. It seems going to bed angry doesn't derail a marriage after all. In fact there are lots and lots of "guidelines" we have both broken more than a couple of times.

But here are some we use:

1. Show compassion for each other: "Obviously you are hurt, so call the doctor! What do you think I can do?"

2. Use flirtation to stay connected on a fun level: "Oh baby, you know how excited I get when you fold the laundry."

3. Make alone time for yourselves as a couple: "I gotta get out of the house, wanna run to Walmart with me?"

4. Share your hobbies: "I thought I'd come stand here and watch you sand some wood for a bit before I go back to reading my book."

5. Discuss all major decisions as a team: me:"The baby was removed from her parents and we need to take her." him: "Okay. I'll leave work now."

What? We live by the letter of the rules if not the spirit. What we do have is a spirit of of loyalty and a shared history that reminds us of our connection and devotion. I know that when the world seems hostile and I just want someone on my side he will be there for me. Whether it's tagging off in parenting or deciding a home project we are partners. Partners don't always see things the same, and they certainly don't do things the same, but they are willing to share the responsibility and the rewards. We laugh - at the silly moments and sometimes at the darkest moments. We love - everyday and through the annoyances.

So it is to that nervous girl wondering if her husband-to-be is going to be on time, attired appropriately, if he will break her heart or be there for the duration I say, relax. Life is not easy, but you have a partner who will face it with you. Here's to the next 20 years.

Monday, June 13, 2016


I am finding silence difficult. My mind wants to focus on anything that can distract itself from the thought of what if.

What if Oldest's car hadn't died sending her to Sunnyville and she was at her home in Orlando with Saturday being her 2nd night off from work in a row?

What if she didn't arrive in Orlando Saturday evening exhausted from a day of boating, swimming, and car issues in Sunnyville, and instead had been home all day & looking to get out of the house?

What if I couldn't have sent a text saying, "I'm so glad you didn't go out last night." and received the reply, "Yeah, me too."?

What if my beautiful, vibrant baby had decided to go to a club she occasionally visits to enjoy music and friends without hurting another living soul only to be shot down by a psychopath?

The hell of it is these are thoughts no mother should have floating in her head while she waits at the stop light and the radio fades to background as the thoughts swirl in and out of focus. Yet there are many like me, and so much worse.

Grievously, there are parents that know beyond a doubt what if. And it is horrendous and grotesque. The heartache I feel for the victims, parents, siblings, & friends is oppressive, but does nothing to heal their pain or stop the madness.

So, no I don't want to defend the need for better gun laws and more efficient enforcement. I don't want to discuss psychotic religious fundamentalists or sociopath terrorists. I don't want to hear the noise coming from every direction - everyone with a political or social position to push. I am sure there are many strong arguments for the public and their right to know. But this is not the time to promote your position.

This is the time to mourn. To unite as a nation and a species. To say to the victims and their loved ones we grieve with you. We cannot fathom your pain, but we are mourning your loss with you. We know the that there but for the grace of God go we.