Why Bother Celebrating Anniversaries?

Why Bother Celebrating Anniversaries? 

I think wedding anniversaries are a little more monumental than birthdays. Growing a year older happens to us, while staying married happens because of us. In other words, as long as we are alive, our birthdays automatically mark another year of living. But commemorating a wedding anniversary is dependent upon how well we have done with someone else.  Recognizing wedding anniversaries announces to others that, for another year, we have succeeded as a couple.  Yet, if we do not hold a  high regard for our better half, if we do not accept their idiosyncrasies, or remind ourselves of the important commitment we made on our wedding day, there would be no wedding anniversary to celebrate. 

                                                          Considering Others

There is no other relationship, other than marriage, that requires more of two people. First of all, staying married calls us to practice and eventually develop an attitude of sticking with it. I must confess, I did not begin my marriage that way. It is a little embarrassing to think back to how I started out as a wife. Yes, I fell head over heels for the man who was patient enough to ask me more than once to marry him. And yes, I did say the part in the vows about until death do us part. But, my heart did not match my words. There was a secret and unspoken clause in the back of mind that went like this: lf this does not work out, I can always get a divorce. It was not a good way to begin. But after a few years of being married to a man who was in it for the long haul, no matter what, I realized I needed to seal off my escape hatch. Once I did, our marriage took a turn for the better. 

I can accept another’s idiosyncrasies for a short amount of time. When I go to work, I live with the traits and qualities of my coworkers for the eight hours I spend with them. But I don’t bring them home with me. I get to leave them at work. Not so in a marriage partnership. Since we live with our spouse, we witness one another’s quirky ways day in and day out. Our habits, moods and perspectives along with our point of view, and opinions, most likely differ a bit from each other’s. Yet, it is only in the marriage partnership that necessitates us to admire those differences in our spouse. In doing so, our scope of how we think about things enlarges. Being married has been a good education for me. I am constantly learning how to live harmoniously with someone quite unlike myself. 

Finally, marriage calls us to trust the one we live with. At the altar, no one knows what is up ahead nor can anyone predict future events. More than likely though, there will be financial decisions to talk through, health issues to prepare for, and unrealistic expectations to evaluate. If we rely on our spouse and our spouse relies on us, then the unpredictable, unexpected and future surprises won’t sever the relationship. Those things will only deepen the appreciation for one another. 

Why bother celebrating anniversaries? It is worth acknowledging an anniversary because a job well done deserves some recognition.

Why Bother Thinking About The Other Fifty Percent?

 

Why Bother Thinking About The Other Fifty Percent?

Recently, while at the grocery store, I was reminded of my earlier days of marriage. As the familiar female clerk, whose age I gauged to be mid thirties, waited for me to write out my check, she conversed with a man who’d come and stood next to her. She spoke softly into his ear, while he leaned toward her. It was a brief, but personal encounter between the two.

When I handed her my check she smiled and said with a blush, “That was my husband. He is just getting off work.”

I looked at the clock on the wall, it was 6:30 a.m. “So he works the night shift and you work days.” She nodded as she processed my check. “Do you ever have time off together?” I asked, thinking about how difficult it must be for them to nurture their relationship with opposite work schedules.

“Yes, we schedule our days off so we can spend time with each other and our kids, ” she said with a smile. 

The Decisions Made

I thanked her and rolled my grocery cart out the door, reminiscing on all the decisions married couples have to make together. First, comes the one to tie the knot.

It was the commitment to a marriage that had scared me, not the tall, lean, blond haired, blue eyed man I’d become infatuated with. I’d come of age in the 70s, and envisioned marriage to be more like a ball and chain around my ankle, the loss of freedom, and the diminishing of my true self. I shook my head at the funny imaginings that had almost kept me from the bond of matrimony and my happy union. 

Then after marriage, every couple weighs the pros and cons of bringing offspring into the world and if they do, they have to answer the question, “Who will raise our child?”

Loading my groceries into the back end of my car, I remembered how at first, it had been hard for me to stay home. I’d kept my job until our first son was born and was convinced I’d go back after maternity leave. But it didn’t happen that way. Instead, I was given a lay off notice. At first, I was devastated, but not for long. Every time I’d gaze into the eyes of my newborn, I was convinced I was the one to raise him, and not someone at a child-care center. 

Staying home meant raising a family on one income. Not an easy choice. During those years, my husband worked six days a week and we often batted around various ideas of how we could make more money. Finally we concluded that it wasn’t so much about how to have more income. It was more about how to live contently with what we had. 

I closed the car’s hatch, now full of groceries, and stashed the cart with others in the parking lot. Getting into the driver’s seat, I started my car and thought back to some of the tougher moments in our marriage when I’d thought about throwing in the towel. I’m glad I never did. I steered my car back home where I knew my husband would be waiting to help me unload and put away the groceries. I smiled with gratitude thinking of how we’d stayed together in spite of  those hard moments and over the long haul. 

Fifty percent of those who say, “I do,” will later say, “I can’t do this anymore,” and file for divorce. But the other fifty percent who say, “I do,” and stick with their commitment may find their pledge to each other worth the effort it takes to stay together. I pray that my grocery clerk and her husband find that to be true.

 

Why Bother Thinking About G.O.A.T.?

Why Bother Thinking About G.O.A.T.?

My husband left me. Thankfully only for a week or so while he drives back to his mother’s memorial service in the state he originated from; Nebraska. He’s barely been gone a day and I already miss him. 

          The Greatest of All Time

Though I am not inclined to pay too much attention to the world of sports, my husband does and it is from him that I learned about the acronym G.O.A.T. It stands for; greatest of all times. 

This title is usually reserved for outstanding athletes like Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali, names even the dimmest of sports minded people like me know about. But the term can also be used for others who are also outstanding, such as musicians. But I will stretch the term even further by using it for my husband. Granted, he’s the only husband I’ve ever had, but I can say he is the greatest of all times. 

For an athlete to be great, it takes focus, sacrifice, endurance and a love for the game. I find those same qualities in my husband as well.

When we married and I listened to him repeat his wedding vows to me, “To be my wedded wife to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part,” I knew he meant every word. He has been 100% committed to our marriage from the start. 

 I, on the other hand, eased into it telling him that if we each gave 50% of ourselves to the union, it would be whole. But this was not how he’d thought about it. “We each give our 100 %,” he told me. His point was well made. If I focused only 50% on him and our marriage, where would the other 50% of my focus be?  

After we married, there were a few carefree years before any children arrived. During that season, we recreated together; hiking, fishing, hunting and camping. But once our sons were born, recreating became a thing of our past. Since Luke’s income was our sole revenue, he began working six days a week giving up those weekends for side jobs. For the time it took to raise our sons, Luke rose to the occasion of providing for our family. 

Something I know I will never have to go through is a divorce. Yet, the separation rate is high among my siblings. Six out of seven of us married. Of the six, four divorced. One of my sisters, whose marriage ended after seven years, once asked me, “So what is the secret of your marriage?” 

“My husband.” It was an easy answer. His pace is steady and his demeanor is calm and that is why we’ve been married for so long. 

Finally there is the fond affection that he has for me. He knows me well; my moodiness, my business, my “take the bull by the horns” way of doing things and yet I’ve never scared him away. He knows me best, and stays his best toward me, no matter what I do.

Yes there are some greatest of all time athletes, but I think being a great husband is much more of a challenge. Athletes get paid to be  great, my husband is simply great without the promise of fame or fortune.  

Why bother thinking about G.O.A.T.  It is worth it because it warms one’s heart and makes one smile acknowledging those who are great in our lives. 

Why Bother Thinking About Mother-In-Laws

Why Bother Thinking  About Mother-in-Laws?

Why bother thinking about mother-in-laws? If you are married you have one. If your offspring are married, you are one. Consequently, I’ve experienced both sides of the coin, being one and having one. 

Twelve years ago when our oldest son married, I became one and found my new role a little more nerve wracking than becoming a mother. At least with motherhood I got in on the ground floor, having my say about a few things in the lives of my children. Even when I didn’t know what to do, or say, there were innumerable and reliable resources that I could tap into; books written by mothers about mothering. Not so much with the mother-in-law gig.

    Who Knows How to Be A Good Mom-In-Law?

 Though there are a lot of jokes about mother-in-laws, there is not a whole lot of information about how to be a good one. 

In some ways, assimilating the ability to be a good mother-in-law is a little bit like learning how to drive safely on icy roads; you do it by the seat of your pants. But, I’d also like to say that some skills can be acquired from a good example. In my case, my own mother-in-law, Berniece, showed me a thing or two about the art of relating well to a daughter-in-law.  

 I met my future mom-in-law before I knew for sure that I’d marry her second born son. Back then, I was merely twenty, groovy, organic and going with the flow of culture, not at all certain about too much of anything. Berniece, on the other hand, was confident about everything; her faith, her family and her homemaking. 

When my then boyfriend took me home to meet his mom, she whipped together a succulent meal, complete with a pie for dessert without ever glancing at a recipe. She listened attentively to the stories her son told her about our travels and inserted some of her own. And she laughed with ease, her head back with unchecked tears rolling down her cheeks. I was not used to being around anyone who was so put together. Her prowess intimidated me. But that was not her fault.

I did marry her son and became a full fledged member of her family and the more time we spent with each other, the more I liked and appreciated her.  

She never tried to be my mom since I already had one, but she treated me with loving care, always remembering little things like my birthday by sending me cards with encouraging notes. Because of our geographical distance, phone calls and letters kept us connected in-between yearly visits. And when we did see each other, we fell into an easy step beside one another; making a pie, going for a walk or harvesting fresh fruit. It wasn’t a forced sisterhood, but a cordial relationship that grew to maturity with time. 

When I became a mom, Berniece took on the role of grandmother as gracefully as she’d taken on the role as mom-in-law. Never once telling me how to be a mom any more than she told me how to be a wife. Her acceptance made room for my mistakes and imperfections. 

                                 And Now It’s My Turn To Try

And now it is my turn to emulate what I’ve learned from my mother-in-law. When marriage brought Meagan and Alex, my two daughter-in-laws, into the family, they came fully formed, complete with their own opinions, political preferences and ideology. 

 I don’t need to tell them how to be wives or mothers. I want my acceptance to make room for their mistakes and imperfections. And though we share common ground; my sons, they are the ones who married them, not me. I conceived them, birthed them and raised them, but they don’t belong to me anymore. 

Meagan, Alex and I are off to a good start. We spend time with each other celebrating birthdays and holidays and summer vacations. In time, our relationships will only get better, maturing and deepening into an even greater appreciation for each other. 

In the meantime, why bother thinking about mother-in-laws. It is worth it because maybe someday you will be one and when you are, then you can consider what kind of one you want to be. 

Why Bother to Stay Married?

Why bother to stay married?

August 2, 2020, my husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We rafted down the Payette River, climbed Mt. Borah and camped under the canopy of the Dark Sky Reserve in Central Idaho. For ten days we soaked in the sunshine and marveled at the starlight.

When we married in 1980, 49 million other couples married too. But, for every couple that marries, 40%-50% of them divorce. Marrying is easy. Staying married is not. 

Divorce crossed my mind more than once at the beginning of my marriage. Single living had not prepared me to think like a married woman. Living alone, I thought only of myself. Married, I had to consider someone else, an unnatural way for me to think. 

But over the years, marriage has changed that for me. Not suddenly, quickly or even consciously. Rather, subtly, over time, and with repetition, considering my husband and not just myself has become the norm. Staying married, I’ve gained unselfishness. 

Adversities happen. Unemployment, the death of a child and rebellious teenage sons is my short list of trials. But the aftershock can wreak havoc in a marriage for a long time afterward. 

Anger can turn into resentment. Silence can result in loneliness. I’ve run the gamut; yelling, and stomping my foot. Crying while trying to get my point across and crying alone behind a closed bedroom door. Another worthless method; muting myself for days at a time too.  

Stating that communication is key to marriage is an understatement. Telling you that I know how to do it would be a lie. I don’t always know how, but I’m driven to try. 

Staying married cultivates in us the art of communication, benefitting not just your spouse, but others as well. 

Why bother staying married? It is never too late to consider how marriage refines us so we can enjoy the pleasure of a starry night with our spouse, instead of alone.