Remarried Life

The Man and I celebrate three years married today, and I feel so much more competent at being married than I ever have. It really helps to have married the right person. I think the perspective from being married previously (to the hopelessly wrong person) helps, as well.

From the beginning with The Man, I saw us as a team. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, she reveals that marriage in the early years of western civilization was actually an act of civil disobedience against the all-powerful church (who preferred that individuals be married only to God), and became an “us against the world” partnership.

This coincides nicely with the advice I picked up somewhere that suggests you should never speak ill of your spouse to others. It’s all too easy to complain to friends and family when you feel like your spouse is being unfair or overreacting to something you did, but I have really tried to hold my tongue and keep any issues we may have with each other where they belong, between the two of us.

Here are a few other perspectives I have picked up along the way:

  1. The “never go to bed angry” line is nonsense. You don’t have any control over your emotions and how long you will feel the way you feel. You don’t look at the clock and say, “Oh, it’s 9 o’clock so I need to stop being miffed now.” But do go to bed together. It means that you are still in this thing together, even if you aren’t agreeing right now.
  2. Try not to let the little things drive you crazy. There are times when I fantasize about big heavy cast iron pans when the snoring has gone past its usual 20 minutes, and the TV is still on and he’s asleep. But there will come a day when there won’t be any snoring and no TV to keep me awake, and I’d much prefer to have him there next to me, even if earplugs are required.
  3. Show it don’t say it. Those three little words lose their meaning when repeated so often. Offering to do the dishes when he’s tired, not pointing out that he’s complaining too much, and letting him listen to Conway Twitty on the car radio go much further, sometimes.
  4. Being right is overrated. I come from know-it-all stock. I used to wield my intelligence like a cudgel, at times. Now I know that it’s ok to let my husband think he’s right about the mouth-being-a-very-clean-place-actually-because-he-heard-a-story-about-it-on-NPR.

The Man was nervous about getting married. His first experience wasn’t such a good one, either. But he knew it was important to me, and so he proposed. After about a year of marriage, he told me he was a convert – he hadn’t realized it could be so good. I hadn’t either, but I believed in us, in our team of two.

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A Year Has Passed

The Boy and I have now lived in our new home for a year.  All in all, our transition down here was a lot smoother than I anticipated.  The beginning of the school year had its fair share of stressors, but over the course of the year, we have been very lucky with the opportunities that have come our way (including those that I helped force our way), and we have settled into a very happy existence.

Don’t get me wrong.  We were happy before, and I miss that just a little, the single mom household thing, the metropolitan suburbia thing, the way-more-time-for-hobbies thing.  I miss that a bit.  I miss our friends (although we are looking forward to some visits this summer!), some of our favorite restaurants, having a Target around the corner as opposed to 45 minutes away…

But they have been replaced with The Man around full-time thing, the warmer climate thing, and that little thing called “family” – there is nothing that beats that.  The ocean, new friends that crack me up Every Single Day, our new-to-us home, having The Man around Every Single Day, lunching with my mom, having dinner with my parents, getting off of work at 3pm and not having to do anything else with my job until the next morning (usually), sweet tea in abundance, and date night Every Single Weekend…

So as I sit and reflect about all that has changed in our lives since a year ago, I am very pleased that we jumped at this chance, very thankful for how it has turned out, and very, very happy.

The end of our rainbow

Men and Boys

There are things in this world that boys need to learn from adults.  I find that as a single mom, some things slip through the cracks, and I’m surprised when I realize The Boy doesn’t know something (like what the phrase “laughing like a hyena” means).  Since The Man has been in our lives, he has often stepped in to teach The Boy something that boys (and really all growing kids) should know how to do, like ride a bike:

First Time on Two Wheels

Today, we had an up and down day, which ended up being mostly up.  Luckily, we were able to turn around a dramatic morning and spent most of the beautiful day at the park.  When we eventually came home, The Man immediately set The Boy to work, teaching him how to wash Mom’s car:

carwash

The Man even points out to me the times when I am doing something for The Boy that he could be doing himself.  I bristled at this at first, but it didn’t take me long to realize that he wasn’t telling me how to parent The Boy, and that he was usually right.  Now I find his insights invaluable, and these lessons he teaches The Boy are so important.  And even more important is the relationship that comes from these lessons and insight.  This stuff makes me smile. 🙂

Boy Bonding

The Man and The Boy have a ritual.  When The Man is here (or when we are there), they have evening wrestling matches, which are entertainment for everyone in the room.  Here, we have an old futon mattress, which we use as a crash pad, and that is our “wrestling mat”.  They have three rounds of two minutes apiece, and they try to take each other down (The Man uses this time to try to teach him actual wrestling moves).  This allows them to be goofy, and have their own “thing” that The Boy looks forward to all day long.  The Boy even dresses like a luchador, complete with mask and sometimes long underwear, and this week, The Man even got into it and developed his own costume.  It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen, but I think he would kill me if I posted pictures of him, so you will have to settle for pictures of The Boy.

The Luchador

Without really knowing it, they are also providing The Boy with much needed (and craved) deep pressure, as The Boy is often hyposensitive (the type of kid who crashes into walls and loves water because s/he can’t always feel where his/her skin ends).  It’s also a fantastic way for them to relate to each other and build their own fond memories of each other.

Do People Ever Change?

I ask that as a truly philosophical question.  In my personal experience, it takes a lot for a person to change.  Conditions have to be just right, including the person’s own desire to change, having the ability and wherewithal to put in the actual hard work of changing, and having some sort of positive reinforcement.  In other words, the stars have to align.

Maybe it’s a cynical point of view, but as I said, it is based on my own empirical data, my own worldview and my own experience.  I know that changing my habits to include exercise have been a monumental task, with only limited success.  I can’t imagine what someone who is attempting to quit smoking, or trying to become a more positive person goes through.

Awareness is the first step, though, and some people do not even choose to be aware of their own habits, or ways of being that may need changing.  Of course, if they are happy with who they are, and everyone else be damned, that’s perfectly fine – we all have free will.  But that person also must accept the possible consequence that all of those “damned” people may not stick around for too long.

Tiger PairSo who cares?  Well, as one who is soon to be joining households with a long-time bachelor, I do.  Change is inevitable, don’t you think?  A friend of mine who went through this process a few years ago (and is still, as it is an ongoing process) said the other day, as I was talking about this very subject, “He’ll change.  You’ll see.”  In fact, I think we both will.  We all will.

It takes a little bravery on the part of a good friend or partner to bring up to the person that their habits or ways of being may need to be considered.  That loved one must realize that an argument will most likely be the outcome, because most people will react defensively.  If they truly love you, though, they will consider what you have said, and will really begin to think about changing his or her own behavior.  In fact, that love is another ingredient for change.  We make adjustments for the ones we truly love, don’t we?  We want them to be happy, and usually find it within ourselves to contribute to that happiness.  This, too has been my experience, already in this process.  You have to truly care about each others’ feelings, and trust that your partner isn’t trying to hurt you, but bring your attention to something that could make your lives together a little more harmonious.

Trust.  Love.  Desire.  Hard work.  Strength.

Sounds like a recipe for a good marriage to me.

What are your thoughts?

Now What?

When you tell people you are engaged, they immediately ask you something along the lines of, “Now what?”: Have you set a date?  Where will you live?  What are your plans????

While I’m not going to say that we haven’t thought about these things (because I am a planner, after all, and that is just who I am), I must say that I’m having a great time just reveling in the feeling of being engaged, of having someone who loves me utterly, who has done one of the most vulnerable and romantic things a man can do, which is propose that we commit our lives to each other.

And perspective is an amazing thing.  I’ve done this before, and it’s almost amusing to look at a bridal magazine and all the infinite, intricate pieces of a wedding that are out there as ideas, and products, and kits, and… whew!  It’s a relief to have this experience behind me that makes me shake my head, laugh a little, and say to myself, “So unnecessary”…

So while I’m thinking about the “getting married” part (which pieces are important, and which pieces just really aren’t) because weddings are fun, I’m also thinking about the “Now What?” after the wedding.  Being a wife, blending a family, the big changes in my life (our lives!), and the one man who loves me enough to take it all on with me.

Have a beautiful day!

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