The News Cycle Bites

soapboxpile“A bad year and a bad month to all the backbiting bitches in the world!…” 
― Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraDon Quixote

Disclaimer

The first man to call me wife also called me whore and property. I have written about my nearly three years under his roof and his fists, here and elsewhere. I have exposed small parts of my life as a runaway at 15, a claimed woman child with no safe haven until he stretched out his hand and lifted me up. No, he wasn’t a ‘true’ husband, but by Texas law, he could claim the title and I did not know better. I was young, uneducated and afraid. I was afraid of him, I was more afraid of the streets.

I will not catalog every abuse, suffice to say in my nearly three years with him he broke several bones, he beat me so badly I lost my uterus and one ovary, he broke my nose more than once. Other parts of my body, suffered long-term damage and I carry many scars where I had to be stitched up after one of his beatings. This doesn’t even come close to cataloguing the emotional damaging those three years did to me. I never fought back after the first time.

People often ask why we stay, why an abused partner stays. There are many reasons, sometimes fear is the overriding reason. He told me if I tried to leave he would find me and kill me, I believed him. I was also afraid of the streets I had already been on, something I had already lived through and understood. I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to for help. In the early 1970’s there was no domestic violence laws, no shelters to protect us. In fact, domestic violence was ignored entirely unless someone died.


 

Domestic violence took over the news cycles the past couple of days; we have been subject to the left hook of Ray Rice in the elevator. Everyone has an opinion and for the most part that opinion is there is no pit in hell deep enough or hot enough for Ray Rice. Furthermore, the NFL and the DA didn’t do enough to punish him for that left hook and what followed. Dragging his fiancé out of the elevator, leaving her lying on the ground, legs and arms akimbo and name-calling, AP presumably has a video with audio in which the casino offers to cover up for him.

Here is the problem in this entire scenario, Janay Palmer Rice slapped Ray Rice first, she spit on him first in the elevator  and appears to have been the aggressor before the infamous left hook. None of us knows what came before the three minutes we have been made privy too, we don’t know what else their lives look like. We don’t know who they are, separately or together. We only know the Left Hook and being the good little drones we all are, we have drawn our conclusions and we have publicly pilloried Ray Rice, without ever once questioning her actions that came before.

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Could he have handled it better? Restrained her instead of punching her, maybe he could have. Likely, this would have been a better choice. However, this says people don’t have a right to defend themselves from an assault if they are men and it is a woman assaulting them. It says as a woman, short of wielding a knife and threatening a man’s life, I can do just about any damned thing I like and get away with it, that no man has a right to hit me, not even in self-defense.

I call bullshit. Yes, me a survivor of horrific domestic violence where I never once defended myself, where I never once raised my hand or my voice, I call bullshit.

There are far worse in the NFL then Ray Rice, if the NFL wants to make examples start with those who have killed, used drugs, been arrested for DWI, or hand all the abusers the same outcome as Ray Rice, it is simple to find this information, go here.

In the meantime, I have another issue with this entire news cycle. It is the diversion, the look over there style of reporting. The amazingly simplemindedness of it all has me dumbfounded. While the entire nation focuses on the left hook of Ray Rice, we forget the national tragedy of a militarized police force in every town, big or small across the land. We forget the unarmed men and women, mostly of color, mostly Black bleeding out on our streets.

We forget Eric Garner, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, Marlene Pinnock and these are just the names of those beaten or murdered by cops between July and August of this year.

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At no time did these names, did these murders, did this tragedy elicit the call to action by so many from every side of the aisle, as the left hook of Ray Rice. The murderous acts of cops do not so much as cause our elected representatives to blink. Riot gear, tear gas and wooden bullets turned on peaceful demonstrators doesn’t elicit even 5 minutes of; ‘calm your asses down out there’ from the administration. But the Left Hook of Ray Rice has Congress demanding action from the NFL and the President of the United States issue statements.

I will say it one last time; I am a survivor of domestic violence. At no time did I defend myself; I knew if I did, it would be worse. I was fifteen when it started. I was eighteen when I ran. There are many reasons why a person stays, sometimes it is fear, other times it is love; sometimes it is because we are so broken we think we deserve the abuse. No one can judge. We do not have the right to judge Ray or Janay, not now and not then. What we do have the right to do is step off and start looking at this situation with more clarity.

Men should not hit women; in most cases, they are larger and stronger. However, women shouldn’t hit men, shouldn’t attack, shouldn’t place themselves in the position where a man must defend himself and thus will likely hurt her in the process. I am sorry but self-defense is not abuse. It is a fine line, I understand this however, women are as responsible for staying on the other side of that line as men are. Some of the things I have heard over the past couple of days are idiotic, things that would seem to mean that we expect men to be saints, at all time. Things that would seem to mean a man has no right ever to defend himself under any circumstance, this is simply wrong and wrong-headed.

Some things that are important to know with regard to Domestic Violence, men make up approximately 40% of domestic violence victims.

Over a year ago we fought to refund VAWA, the battle was hard fought and there were some significant concessions that had to be made. Some of the issues the GOP hated? The expansions of services to poorly served populations including Native women on reservations and the LGBT community.

In the meantime, cops are beating and murdering in the streets and the outcry isn’t near what it is for the Left Hook of Ray Rice.

What is wrong with the morality and values of this nation? Don’t you think it is time to start asking this question?

Another take on it: http://theobamacrat.com/2014/09/09/raymell-mourice-ray-rice-abuser-victim-or-both/

I leave you with this.

Served Grown Up, Part Deux

LindaHead_2Well here we are again, things have moved along and I must say some things have moved in directions I would have never thought possible. I am learning a great deal about myself, what I like and what I want from the world, from life and for myself I am truthfully learning every single day. One thing I have learned is there are no timetables, things happen, when they happen and unless you choose to ignore what makes you happy (which would make you an idiot) you just need to jump in with both feet and let the tide take you where it will. Another thing I have learned is there are no set rules or patterns, you might think you know it all, you might believe you know how things are going to come at you and how you are going to work the program, it simply isn’t so, things happen the way they happen.

I learned one other thing, one thing that truly surprised me about myself; I am entirely and completely susceptible to romantic gestures and a well-executed plan of action.

Where is this all leading? On 13-April, I wrote Served Grown Up Please, it was a soliloquy to what I wanted in the next man I would love. I said then I would return to my list, so as a continuation is Served Grown Up, Please II.

I Want A Grown Assed Man

He makes me laugh uproariously at life, him and me too. His jokes are never mean spirited though at times they do cut through all the political correctness we have grown accustomed too and simply says it likes he sees it.

He isn’t afraid to ask for help when he needs it. He is adult enough to recognize we all need help sometimes.

He is truthful about himself, his strengths and his weakness. He doesn’t pretend to be what he isn’t but he doesn’t hide his power either. He is clear about who he is, where he has been and what he has done in life. Takes real pride in his accomplishments, not that chest beating machismo stuff but the quiet pride of a job well done.

He listens and he remembers the important stuff. He cares enough he can hear the timber of my voice, that there are some things I just might not want to talk about today. He listens not just to my words but also to what lies beneath and can ask questions to draw me out when it is important. He knows I carry the burden of a lifetime of keeping secrets, mine and other peoples. He knows I have been hurt, my heart has been broken and encased in ice. He knows and he is strong enough to share his strength with me so I can finally let go.

He is outrageous and demanding. Yes, I said it. He knows what he wants and isn’t at all shy about stating his needs, wants and desires. There is nothing vanilla or passive in the Grown Assed Man of my dreams. His eye doesn’t wander because he values what is in front of him and he makes clear what he needs, involving his partner in all of his world both the here and now and future fantasies. He is not about “Me” in anything he does, but instead fully about “We”, knowing there are two of us in the room at all times and nothing is ever pleasure if both of us are not fully engaged and fully in the moment. He would never think to do harm or cross boundaries, never think to cause fear or discomfort.

He makes plans and executes them. He doesn’t look to others to do his planning, he doesn’t demand others run his life for him, he doesn’t blame the world when he doesn’t get exactly and specifically what he wants. He identifies what he wants, creates a plan of attack and executes that plan. He is unflinching, fearless and patient. His observations about what it takes to win are keen; he has a great eye for detail.

He has no fear of showing his own emotions, whether it is what he feels about me or about the world around him. He knows his emotions do not make him weak, instead, they prove his humanity and his strength.

He understands the power of conversation, whether it is about dreams of the future, the world around us or simply what is important; he knows how to share information. He doesn’t withhold information or dominate but simply participates in conversation fully.

He knows when to stand in front of me, when it is important to be the protector even when I don’t believe I need protection. He wouldn’t think to leave me standing alone and without a safety net, without protection. He knows there are monsters in the world and knows I have met a few of them; he wants to be a protector, without ever diminishing me as a woman or a human being.

Finally, loves me exactly as I am doesn’t want to subtract anything from me, doesn’t resent anything about me except I am late coming to his life, doesn’t condemn me or ridicule me, doesn’t want to change me. He thinks I am sexy, funny and brilliant just exactly as I am from the inside out. He appreciates my peculiarities and oddities, even those I have developed because of my life history.

Let me Repeat Myself … I Want a Grown Assed Man and This is more of what he looks like

Done with a Blank Page

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt approximately 9:15am yesterday, I was standing in front of a judge in family court in Dallas County, right hand raised and swearing to tell the truth. My attorney asked a series of questions, including was I requesting my name be returned to me to ask my creditors or criminal prosecution, I answer each question correctly apparently, five minutes after it started it was over. The judge smiled and granted my request for a divorce, a chapter closed.

I felt a weight lift from my shoulders as if a piece of me had been returned. I will not say that all the years with the man who had been my husband were bad or wasted that would be a lie. We had many good years together, at least I believe we did. The lie we told to each other and ourselves is we could repair what was broken after the first time he left, we spent two more years lying to each other and ourselves. Maybe out of love, maybe out of duty, maybe out of fear, whatever the reason we spent two years hurting each other and we shouldn’t have. We tore at each other, finding what hurt the worst and tearing each other down to the bone. I know at the end I felt broken by harsh words and the almost two years without physical validation of our connection, of love, of beauty or desirability in the eyes of the man who was supposed to love me.

The pages have been turned the book closed. I walked out of the court and it was done. My copies stamped by the County Clerk and officially, I am me again, single…free…unencumbered by husband or the obligations to same. I am no longer a hyphenated name, but just me.

During the last several months as I walked toward this day I have been finding things about myself, some of them I have talked about in the pages of this blog. Some you have seen as I have begun to open the pages of my journals and add poetry to the mix. Truly, I never thought I would ever let those out for others to see, I am gratified by the reception they have received.

Outside the courthouse 23-May-14

Outside the courthouse 23-May-14

When I started this journey, the day I came home to an empty house I was devastated and betrayed. Not once but twice my ex-husband had walked out, leaving me alone to pick up the pieces. This time I didn’t wait I found a path to take back my life. This time I was done, there was no ‘vacation’ from marriage, I was taking myself back, even through the hurt, I knew I had had enough. Alone, I made it through the death of my mother. Alone I have been working through trying to sort out career issues and not working. Scary stuff really, when you are use to having a partner by your side. Then finally, today came and alone I stood in front of the judge and thanked her for granting my petition for divorce.

What I have found, as I stare at these pages saying I am no longer married is this is simply the finalization of what has been mostly true for two long and hard years. I have certainly been lonely for that long, broken by judgment I didn’t earn or deserve and isolated in my head, my heart frozen over, more fragile than even I was aware. I tried very hard to gloss over what was wrong, even becoming very good at it most of the time in public. I was wrong; I should have walked away when I knew it wasn’t going to get better. I am not going to beat myself to death, it’s my nature to do the right thing, to stand by commitments made and vows taken, it is how I was raised. But, the truth is, I was wrong and I allowed myself to be hurt.

For two long years I have thought, what do I want, from life mostly but for my future and in my future. I continue to discover more about myself every single day. Some things I discover are shocking as they rock my world away from what I thought I knew. Others are more validation of what I have always known, now as I pull myself away from the funk I have been in I can realize them and begin to act on them, as I need to, so I can take my life back.

What do I know so far, some things are simple and others more nebulous, strange and for the future.

  1. I want work that interests me but doesn’t take up all my time, it is a difficult balance.
  2. To truly get my house in order, cleaned and cleared out of all the debris of the past.

Those are my two very short-term goals. Silly,right?

Remember Grown Assed Man, yes him. I talk about him now and then and think about him frequently. He is that man sitting off in the corner of my eye, the one who has never come into focus, stepped in my way or given me that shattering kiss that made my knees weak and captured me, mind, body, heart and soul. I want him in my life; I do not want to spend my life alone. It is neither my nature nor my desire. Do not misunderstand, I will never settle again. I will never again tolerate being abused or mistreated, ignored or abandoned. This doesn’t change the truth of my nature; I am a woman who enjoys the companionship at every single imaginable level of a man. I will wait, because the man I have built in my writing and my imagination, yes that one that grown assed man he is the one I already love a little bit, he is the one worth waiting for. Nevertheless, I want that in my life.

I have turned the page and closed the chapter on this I have a blank page with a new chapter, oddly it starts;

Once upon a time……

(as part of my house cleaning endeavor I have cleaned up my blog removing twenty posts going back two years. This bit of housekeeping felt good, I hated losing comments and discussions, I didn’t hate losing what were in truth lies, since they reflected a marriage with happy and loving partners, clearly not the truth)

Half a Lifetime

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI promise, you and me, I will not be maudlin through this time of rediscovery.  I might now and then be some of the following:

  • Pissed right off
  • Sad
  • Scared to death
  • Okay, even a small bit maudlin

However, I promise, you and me, I will not allow this change in my circumstances to take over my blog or my life.  Perhaps this is not quite the truth, this change will indeed take over my life it is in fact my new normal and thus instead of being part of a twosome my life is different, I will join the millions of women over 50 who are living alone, by choice or otherwise.

Things you and I should know about me as I begin this journey toward my new normal.  Things that are incredibly difficult to admit.

I have truly been in a long-term partnered relationship or married my entire adult life.

When I read that statement, it sends shivers up my spine.  The sad truth is, I do not know how to be alone, I have always had someone in my life.  I have always been the ‘other half’.  Usually, I have been the half that takes care of things, cleans up messes and ultimately is left holding the bag.

How strange, how very strange.

Since I was fifteen (15) years old, I have not really been alone.  Not really been on my own to determine and decide my own fate without having to consider how my choices might affect others, some of those others have been spouses, while others have simply been those who claimed the title (Texas is funny like that).  In some cases and through my own choice, I remained legally bound to a man with whom I did not share a bed, did not enjoy congress yet continued to shared a roof; I did this so his children would be provided normalcy.  My ‘husbands’ and other partners, in a nutshell;

  1. Beat the hell out of me, nearly killed me more than once and destroyed my ego – 3 years.
  2. Saved me from myself but could not convince me to love him or me – 5 years.
  3. Simply was a stopgap measure to convince myself and others I could marry ‘normal’ – 3 years.
  4. An addict and more, who hid his crimes from everyone far too well, robbed me of money, time and much more; gave me my sons, so I can forgive him all the rest – 14 years
  5. Dearly Beloved, yes he is still this despite it all, the last sixteen (16) years I have given him everything there was in me to give.  I withheld what he told me to withhold, each time he said to me, “I don’t want anything from you”; I withheld a little more if myself.  I honestly thought he was the one I would grow old beside  – 16 years

That is forty-one (41) years of my life in those five (5) men; I am fifty-six (56) years old.  Those five men represent more than half of my life.  Since I was fifteen years old, I have been entangled.  I have usually met the next man before I am fully untangled from all the legal wrangling of the previous relationship; I haven’t stopped to think how vulnerable I might be.

Now to the rest of what I wanted to say about not being maudlin and wanting a new normal.  DB and I separated once before during our marriage in 2010.  That separation was for 6 months, it was hard and he was the one to leave that time also.  Though to hear him tell it he left because I asked him the following:

“If you are so unhappy, why are you still here?”

His answer was to leave.  That six months was hard, it was sad, it was miserable in truth; but, by the end I had gotten to happy, gotten to a new normal where I was starting to enjoy life and my independence.  I should have known when he wanted to come back while refusing marriage counseling and refusing to acknowledge the core issues between us, it was not going to get better.

I have a friend of thirty-five years who says at heart I am a romantic.  I suspect she is right.  I wanted desperately for his, “I love you”, to be the truth without strings.  It wasn’t, it never has been.  But I wanted it and I put my blinders firmly in place and reminded myself of the vows I took, when I flung the door open wide and let my husband back into the home and the marriage he so firmly rejected once already.

Victorious

My new tattoo, as of yesterday. Yes, Victorious and yes my high-heeled combat boots were the model!

I knew, even then while I held that door open there would be an end somewhere in the future.  I had tasted independence and gotten to happy and it felt light and wonderful.  Don’t misunderstand me, being loved is also wonderful, I want to be loved someday in the future before that happens though I want to try living for me for once in my life.

I have a few more choices to make before too very long.  Choices on where I live.  Choices on how and where I work.

These will wait for a few weeks at least.  For now, I will simply try sinking into the idea of the new normal and how to get through the day.

Yes, it hurts today.  Yes, it will likely hurt tomorrow.  It will not hurt forever though; I know this.  I suspect I will share some of this journey with those of you who want to ride along.  I promise you though I will not change course, I will continue to write about other things that interest me and hopefully you, I refuse to get to mawkish.

First Love

Many years ago, when I was 18 I married the man who saved my life. I loved him desperately at the time, thought I couldn’t draw breath without his smile. Because we were good together but we were also really bad together. He was ready to settle down and be a husband, be a man, but not really. I was still spinning, from all the pain that had been inflicted on me and that I had inflicted on myself. I didn’t know how to love with my whole heart and didn’t know how to trust anyone to love me. Then again, perhaps I knew enough not to trust.

Although we were married for five years, we did not spend the entire time living together, in fact spent less than two years under the same roof. When I was 23 we came together for a brief time because I wanted to see him, to know what I was walking away from, what I was giving away. My heart hurt then, I knew I still loved him but we couldn’t be together because I was ready to heal and grow up and he couldn’t be part of it. The baggage we had didn’t belong together and the life I wanted didn’t have a place for our history.

I had shared all my secrets with him; he knew the darkest parts of me. He let me cry them out in fury and fear. He never told me it would be ‘okay’, only that he wouldn’t let anyone else hurt me, ever. I believed him. Sometimes he told me I was strong, but he also told me I could be stronger that I could be more. He hated my weakness and my fear of the world, when I was 18 I was afraid sometimes even of him, mostly I was afraid he would fail me, or worse still that I would fail him.

We failed each other.

I have married since then of course, badly and well. I have loved since then, also badly and well. Each time I near a milestone, a birthday or an anniversary I wonder though what would have been had we been different, or in different places in our life. Was his love for me conditional on his need to save me? I often think this might have been a part of it, I was broken and he set about to fix me. Within our marriage, during our time together I didn’t grow stronger but dependent on his approval. My heart beat for him, his anger would send me in a tailspin. We had a normal marriage with normal arguments that couples have, but looking back I wonder now if this is true given how truly dysfunctional I was.

I was blind to his faults, seeing only his care for his extended family and me as the measure of the man he was. His care was strange though, did not make sense to anyone but him. I am grateful today but then I only wondered why he put his future, his wife and his life in danger. He sent me away, telling me nothing but that I must go that I was a risk he couldn’t afford. I left broken hearted with an uncertain future, rejected by the man who promised to love me and to save me.

My husband was an armed robber.

I had returned finally to my father’s house. I was across country when a phone call came from my sister-in-law, she told me my husband had been convicted of armed robbery along with two of his cousins. This was how he had been paying the bills, no one knew. Not for months, but he knew that soon they would be caught and this is why he sent his daughter and me away. He was sent to prison, I wrote him while he was there but he said he wanted me to file for divorce, to end our marriage that it would be best for me.

I didn’t do it. I would not do it until he was released.

Three years later, he was released from prison on parole. I had saved my money to return to Texas to see my now convict husband. I didn’t know what I thought of the situation. I still loved him in my heart but I had gotten stronger, I had started to dream of a new life. In our letters, we had shared our dreams and they weren’t the same.

I took the bus from Seattle to Austin; it gave me time to think. He met me at the bus station in Austin. He looked the same, his smile was still the same but his eyes were clouded with pain. It was a sad reconciliation; we stood in the middle of the station and held each other. We had both changed; we were different people with hopes and dreams that flowed in different directions. I didn’t have money back then for hotels, I stayed at his sister’s house and he was staying with his mother.

We sat up late that first night we talked until morning. I asked the question I never asked in my letters.

Why?

He couldn’t answer; maybe he just wouldn’t answer. We talked about hopes, dreams and the future. We talked about love. In the end, we talked about ending our marriage. We both cried. For three days, we talked and we cried. We hugged and we cried some more.

At the end of those three days, he took me back to the bus station and put me back on the bus to Seattle. He stood and watched me leave, he waved as the bus left the station; he didn’t smile just a small wave of his hand. We knew it was the end and I think we were both sad.

He knew me better than any person in my life ever had. I think he disappointed me worse than any person ever had. Now and then, I search for him, just to know that he is still on the earth. I think I would be sad to find out he was no longer alive. He was my first real love.

Chasing Perfection

How many women err on the side either of caution or of recklessness when we begin new relationships?

Venus & Mars Dance

I was speaking to my dear friend, Red, yesterday and we identified our initial list of potential sure to fail strategies we have either executed ourselves or seen our friends and family undertake in their pursuit of happiness. Our list grew throughout the day as she polled her vast Facebook army. By the end of the day there were so many it will be impossible to address them all individually!

There were some common themes though, in no particular order (yet) here are the top deal killers.

  1. Giving up our own life (family, friends and interests)
  2. Playing mind games (manipulation)
  3. Carrying our baggage into the new relationship (matching luggage though might be fine)
  4. Suffocating the new relationship or person
  5. Nagging
  6. Chasing Perfection (are any of us perfect)
  7. Lack of Ambition or Sacrificing Ambition
  8. Money Honey (keeping some of our own)
  9. Beginning a new relationship to soon
  10. Not being our authentic selves
  11. Moving too fast (sex, I love you and all that jazz)
  12. Not hearing what is said (Listening with our ears instead of our notions)
  13. Failing at trust and failing to trust
  14. Talking about the previous relationship or ex ad infinitum
  15. Trying to change ourselves, worse trying to change him

Number 1 on the hit parade seems to be ….Chasing Perfection

AKA

Building the Perfect Mate in Your Mind and Leaving no Room for Adjustment

It is my suspicion that many of the others fall under this one. Nevertheless, to start the ball rolling let’s explore our propensity to build our Dream Man, our Perfect Mate and our seemingly constant desire to mold our latest and greatest into that icon of flawlessness.

The Faceless Prince

When we are little girls we dream of our wedding day, we have a picture in our mind of what we will wear, how many attendants we will have and even what colors we will use. We see the groom standing at the front of the church in our fantasy wedding; usually he is one big tuxedo with a blank face. As we enter our teen years our imagined wedding matures with us, of course. We now have access to greater fodder to fill our minds, including the blank that is our future groom. No longer is his face blank, no indeed now he looks like our latest crush either the school hunk or the latest movie idol to hit the market. We sigh; we sign our names on multiple pages of our notebooks “Mrs. TwiddleTwaddle”.

Eventually we grow up, we reach some magical age of maturity where we recognize that Sir TwiddleTwaddle is unlikely to sweep us off our feet and marry us; or do we? Indeed, it is almost certain most of us have not only by now filled in the blank face of our childhood

Princess Bride Forever (image)

but have also made a list of attributes we require of our future mate, some of which may be non-negotiable. In keeping with the idea that we have defined our perfect mate, identified all his required characteristics, filled every last portion of his personality with our desires, I must ask is there any man that will fulfill our wish list? Will we always be settling in our heart and mind for ‘less than’? Is this what any man who enters our sphere of influence has to look forward to when they hope for a relationship with us? Really, are we always going to be this hard to please or have we left some room in there for our future mate to be their own authentic selves and for us to be happy they are there without equivocation?

There are certainly some things that are non-negotiable or should be at least. From the very beginning of a relationship we should be able to nix any of the following as deal breakers:

  1. Abuse of any kind – kick this one to the curb immediately and without thinking twice if he is verbally abusive it will without doubt escalate eventually. Run; don’t walk to the nearest exit.
  2. Liars – if someone will lie to you early in a relationship, whether on the big stuff or the small stuff, they will always lie to you. See the exit sign over the door, yes the one that is flashing red; make your way to it and leave now.
  3. Cheaters – if you agreed between you to exclusivity and he failed during the early days of your relationship, he won’t change. Forgive him, sure it is always nice to be forgiving nevertheless, get out he isn’t going to stop cheating.

Those are my own hot spots, there are surely more and likely others can add theirs.

The real point is though; men and women are imperfect in their design. If we have built up our perfect mate there will be no one who will measure up, no opportunity for us to explore our options and find that person that just might be perfect for us rather than simply perfect. If we shut the door there will be no opportunity for us to find that future mate that brings their life lessons and experiences, ones that balance ours and help us to live more fully together than apart. If we fail to open the door to imperfection we lose our chance at future love.

More on common themes in future posts, for now I think I will end this with one other thought; when we find that imperfect possibility and our first thought is how we can change them we have already lost.

Whats Love Got to Do With It?

The dress is back from the cleaners packed in a box for some future when your daughter will say, “Mom it is so old fashioned I want to pick my own dress”. The pictures framed and scattered throughout your first home. The thank you notes are written to all the kind people who provided you with blenders, toasters and other small appliances you have yet to return or figure out uses for. Your tan is fading and frankly, it is time to return to real life.

You’re married! That ring on your left hand announces to the world you are officially off the market. Do you wear your ring? Does your spouse where his / hers, if not why not?

The strangeness of married life, even for long-term couples takes some adjustments. People may treat you differently now. During the early days of your marriage, you may find yourself resenting some of questions that come your way, such as;

How about joining us for a few beers after work tonight? Why don’t you call your husband / wife to make sure it is okay with them?

What? You’re an adult; you don’t need permission have a couple of beers after work. Think though, is this simple phone call asking permission or is it common courtesy extended to your spouse.

Another thing you may find happening is you aren’t invited to the boys / girls night out events you were once part of. Now that you are part of a married couple, your single friends may not feel comfortable inviting you. Perhaps these events were ‘hunting’ expeditions and now that you are off the market, your presence isn’t as welcome as it once was.

Yes, some of your friends may drop away. Don’t worry you will make other friends. Married friends, you will meet them over time and form new bonds. Some of your single friends of course will remain and as they pair up their new partners will join the elite circle of Married.

So what does love have to do with all of this? Marriage is the choice we make to bond with that one person who makes our heart race and feel at peace all at the same time. Despite our personal idiosyncrasies, despite our flaws we make the choice to live with, fight with, love with this single person for our lifetime.

Love has everything to do with it!

We agreed, even if we didn’t understand how marriage would change us, we knew we wanted to be with this person. We agreed we were going to walk side-by-side for our lifetime, even if we didn’t understand that there would be some unplanned loss of ‘independence’. Love has everything to do with our choice and everything to do with how we conduct ourselves from here forward. Love informs our actions, every day of our married life; whether it is a great day or a bad day love informs our choices and decisions.

While I believe there are always compromises, they are not compromises of self nor are they sacrifices. Love has everything to do with how successful marriages are made and sustained over time. Love of self and love of our partner. Once the bliss of the wedding is behind us the scales fall from our eyes, we discover marriage is hard work. Putting the person we love in front of us as  we make decisions, helps us to make informed decisions that are good for our marriage and prevent us from reverting to the selfish behavior and decision-making of our single life.

Marriage is hard sometimes; Love is Easy.

The Wife Book

The big secret passed down from mother to daughter with all the rules. We have it and talk about it in whispers; we share it amongst ourselves and periodically change the rules to ensure they are up-to-date. The Wife Book has been in existence since marriage has been a state of union between Men and Women. The Wife Book is the secret we keep from men, it is the one thing we have men will never be privy too.

I know you believe women share THE BIG SECRET, The Wife Book. You even discuss it amongst yourselves the incomprehensible behavior of your wives, then discover the consistency of the ‘rules’ and ‘demands’. Those nights out with the boys turn into ‘bitch’ sessions, not that you would ever admit to this. This is how the legend grows of the secret Wife Book.

Stop to Think

In throes of your complaints, do you stop to think? While you are discussing the similarities of your wives and their complaints, do you ever scratch your heads and say to yourselves, “perhaps it isn’t the secret book at all but us?” It is my suspicion that you do not. It is far easier to blame the enigma that is your wife than to question your own actions within the context of your marriage.

The Harridan in Your Bed

What happened to that beautiful woman you married? Her make-up is running, her words

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are unsweetened, clothing pulled out of the dirty clothes hamper and she continually nags you to put about your dirty dishes. She wasn’t like this before the wedding, by damned you think you might have been tricked! Sex? You aren’t getting it nightly the way you expected either, she says if she wasn’t so tired and she felt more ‘cared for’ she might be in the mood more often.

What does that mean anyway? You don’t have to love what I love only love me enough to participate or act.

Answering the Question – The Wife Book

Remember the question of why is marriage so hard( Where’s the Manual)? All of us enter marriage with expectations, women with a more detailed list of expectations than men; thus the Wife Book. Women are by far the more complex of the partners in a marriage this is a known fact. They have entered the marriage with an ideal in their mind of what their marriage will look like, feel like and what elements it will include.

The odd thing is most of those elements are consistent among modern wife’s it is simply a matter of the modern husband catching up. Many of the elements of a modern marriage are considered still anathema by men. In some cases less than manly. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning what women want, what is part of the secret Wife Book.

Dirty Dishes meet Dishwasher, no I am not your dishwasher it is that large appliance next to the sink where for some reason your dishes always seem to land as if waiting for me to complete the process.

Remote Control meet sharing, yes there are two of us in the house and your desire to watch only sports or bloody combat is hampering our time together. I know it is delightful the cable networks now have 100+ sports channels however; this doesn’t mean you must watch them all day.

If you want food on the table at a specific time every night, learn to cook! We are not your servant, we aren’t paid and it is likely we also have jobs.

The list goes on and on, ad infinitum.  This doesn’t even address the issue of date nights and why your wife doesn’t consider a Sports Bar with the Boys a Date. The real issue is one of discussion and compromise. Your wife really doesn’t have a Wife Book, what she likely has is a list of complaints that you aren’t responding too. The longer you don’t respond the longer the list becomes and the more hurt your wife is by your lack of response to her needs. Thus the lack of SEX in your marriage.

Do you have needs and wants in your marriage? Certainly, everyone does. Marriage is nothing but a compromise between partners. This dealt only with the secret Wife Book. Feel free to tell me about the Husband Book.

Sleep Deprivation and Marriage

It is never easy to wake-up and find your leg dangling precariously over the side of the bed, as if your sub-conscious has prepared you to flee. Your attempts to roll over are prevented by the person dragging the covers off you, stealing your pillow and laying dead in the middle of your side of the bed. Not mind you, the middle of the King sized bed you share, but rather the middle of your side of the bed. Your arm wedged firmly beneath you, tingling due to the lack of blood circulation and the crick in your neck, it just might be permanent. This is me, six days out of seven.

First Thoughts

Finally, my eyes able to focus I note the time, 2am. Why in the world is it two in the morning, again. Oh, the injustice, is this really my fate. It is 2am, there is a stranger in my bed and I married him more than a decade ago. I frequently wake up with that thought in my mind, “who are you and why are you disturbing my sleep?” It doesn’t last, fading quickly as I am not prone to linger between sleep and the awakened state.

When I try to move his arm tightens around my waist and he makes that small growl in the back of his throat, even in sleep he knows I am trying to move away. It makes me smile even in my annoyance, nonetheless, I slip out of the covers to gain some distance and get my blood circulating again. I know our sleep habits perhaps better than I know our awake habits, he will move back to the center soon and I will regain some small space on “my side” of our King sized bed to finish the rest of my night’s sleep.

Who are you, really? Why are you here?

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My husband, my mate, my partner; all that but mostly the bed hog, cover thief and sleep robber. He is a snuggler far more than I am, in this I think our roles are reversed. For all the years of our marriage, even when we go to bed angry he chases me across the expanse of our bed to trap me in his favored spoon position and hold me there through the night.

I have always been able to take the pulse of our marriage by our sleep position, though there are days I would rather him sleep anywhere but under and around me, I am comforted by his constancy. There has only been one time in the years of our marriage he did not seek me in his sleep, that time now a painful reminder for both of us that we must be present during our waking lives not just our unconscious moments of sleep.

He points to a picture of me as a five-year-old and laughs says I sleep in exactly the same

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position today as I did then, asks why I complain. My only answer is, at five I didn’t share the bed, my body didn’t have all the strange grievances then it does today, I was only afraid of monsters and most importantly I never woke up wondering “who the stranger in my bed was”. He just laughs at me and tells me there is always divorce and then I can have the whole bed to myself, yet here we are still married and still spooning.

I love you too.

What we Forgot to Tell You

Did we forget to tell you?

The number one reason we married you wasn’t for your sparkling wit or your dimples either, those certainly caught our eye but they weren’t number one. It wasn’t for your six-pack, neither the one you proudly show off at the gym nor the one you pick up from the corner store on Monday nights. It wasn’t for the TGIF dinners you bought us or the occasional Chick Flick movie you suffered through on Saturday night. It wasn’t even that you make nice with our girl friends to make a good impression or that you try hard to get along with our family.

What we must have not told you when we agreed to spend our lives with you is this.

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We married you because we saw something in you we didn’t see in all the other boys that did all those things during their hot pursuit.

We agreed to marry you and spend our life with you because of all the opportunities we had we thought deep down in our hearts that you were the one. The one that would step beside us, not in front of us but beside us.

You made us laugh, you made us feel safe, you made us feel smart, beautiful and mostly you made us believe together we would achieve greatness. Does that make sense? When we walked that aisle after being pronounced husband and wife we didn’t meekly follow you we walked side-by-side and that was how we expected to live our life with you. We married you because we thought we would be your partner.

Did we forget to tell you what we wanted?

This is the only explanation there can be for the strange and utterly inexplicable changes our marriages seem to take after the vows. Being women we tend to look to our own failures first rather than any of yours, we gather into ourselves for deep examination anything we might have done that would cause this baffling change in the dynamic of our relationship.

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Where once you were our White Knight, our romantic hero and our friend, now you are something entirely changed from the man we said yes to what seems to be an eternity ago. This change can only be due to our failure, we think. Our failure to communicate to you our desire to keep the person we married at least somewhere we can find him. More importantly even to keep ourselves from disappearing too.

We ask ourselves countless questions during this time of examination. Questions that hurt us deeply because there are no real answers.

Why aren’t we laughing at the same things anymore? Did we forget the fundamentals that brought us together or is it that we forgot to tell you they were important to us in that forever sort of way. What happened to the man who would laugh when we forgot the punch line, not at us but with us. Where did that man go, the one who was willing to tell us about his foibles and fears, the one who was willing to be vulnerable with us now and then? The guy who would sit for hours and share intimacies as if they were invaluable gifts between us to be handled with great care, where did he disappear to?

Did we forget to tell you before the vows were read, before we said yes that we wanted there to be an “us” not just a you and an I.

How did we suddenly end up on opposite ends of the couch? Did we forget to tell you that part of what made us so happy was touch, just that random snuggle that didn’t lead to anything else.

How did the bed suddenly get so big? Why have you moved to Siberia? Why is there your side and my side now instead of us piling into the middle of the bed like puppies randomly wrapped around each other. Did we fail to tell you that was the way we wanted to wake up with you, wrapped around you and in your arms? The air conditioner isn’t broken so your excuse that it is to hot can’t be right. I am certain you aren’t suffering from hot flashes, what has happened since we said “we do” that we don’t unless it is part of the post-coital moment and even then it truly is only a moment till you roll over to your personal Siberia, your side of the bed.

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What have we forgotten in our march to the alter of forever, what did we fail to say to you?

It wasn’t “I love you”, those words tripped off our tongues thousands of times, perhaps to easily to thoughtlessly. Conceivably we didn’t tell you what that meant to us, when we said “I love you” did you understand it meant all the parts of you, both what we see and what you thought was hidden, that we are in it forever even when it feels like we are on top of Everest and we can’t breathe?

Did we fail to tell you there will be days we don’t like you much, we still love you.

Did we forget to tell you in our breathless joy at becoming your wife what we already knew about marriage and you didn’t; marriage is hard work, never easy. That it takes two strong people willing to go the distance every single day to make it work. Not one person willing to go half way most days but two willing to bust through all the hard stuff every day.

Did we forget to tell you even though we love the White Knight we don’t need him. Even though we love the idea of the Romantic Hero, we don’t really want to be married to him every day just once in a while we would like for him to show up and sweep us off our feet. Did we fail to tell you what we really wanted is for you to be fully in the moment, all of them every single day. Everyone changes, everyone grows we just want you to change and grow with us not apart from us.

When you say to us, we have grown apart our hearts break, all we can think is we forgot to tell you something important.

We forgot to tell you we love all the bits and parts of you. We forgot to tell you to be part of something you have to stay in the moment and stay part rather than apart. We forgot to tell you it was important to us you stay so instead we watched you drift your own way. Once you had us we became less vital to your and we forgot to tell you we were still here.

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