I don't participate in writing prompts often [publicly], but as I've shared previously, one of the most welcoming group of bloggers can be found over at Deb's of San Diego Momma. Deb supplies writing prompts every Tuesday. If you ever choose to participate, I guarantee your writing will be read and your efforts supported and encouraged. You can't go wrong.
This week's prompt is "L-O-V-E". You can read about it here.
I worked on a post about "love" and decided it read like I was pontificating. I don't want to do that. We all have sweet, interesting, meaningful [to us] stories about how we met our significant other, how wonderful and passionate portions of our lives and love have been. "We're best friends [vomit]. We do everything together [puke]. We finish each other's sentences [bullshit]. We complete each other [fingers in ears, la-la-la-la-la]." Even if these things are true, most of it is best kept private - it rarely reads well, people. It's a select few who can get away with expressing to the world in detail, the love and respect shared between a committed couple.
I used to work with a woman who always talked about she and her husband's sex life. It ruined my lunch every day because I couldn't get the visual out of my head. We all have sex. We've all had good sex. None of us invented it, so caress your ego somewhere else. Even better, share all the mush and high-fives with your partner - or Penthouse Forum.
Chris and I have been married 19 years, together more than 20 - just the facts. For the record, I don't believe someone's time together is an indication of the health of the relationship. [Chris and I are fine - no worries.] We've had our challenges and our times of ease. I assume we'll have more of both in the future.
When I think of the best relationship advice we've received, two examples come to mind.
We'd been married only a couple of years and already felt the need to see a marriage counselor. [We're the generation that goes to a therapist for everything.] I was working as an administrative assistant for three PhDs. One of the PhD's was a man named Charles. He was in his late 70s and found himself needing to return to work later in life, not unlike many older people in this economy. He had been married over 50 years and had what appeared to be a very traditional marriage.
Charles and I were often the only two people in the office. One day Charles overheard me talking with Chris on the phone and I was crying by the end of the call. He came over and offered me his handkerchief, which I politely accepted even though I'd seen him using it earlier. He asked me if I needed to talk, so I told him the story. What Chris said and felt, what I said and felt, what the therapist said... Charles listened. In a soft and assured voice, he said, "When you go home tonight, you two just sit on the couch and hold hands. Watch the news quietly. It sounds like you kids have talked enough. Just hold hands, and sit, and don't talk. Rest."
He was right. I think we were in a ditch, and the therapist was over-complicating the situation. We needed to step out of the ditch and walk away from it. Not analyze from several angles how we got in the ditch, and all the possible ways to get out - just hop out of the ditch. So we did.
There are obviously times that require labor-intensive communication to resolve issues, but this wasn't one of them.
The second example that comes to mind is something my Mamaw said. Chris and I were having dinner with she, Papaw, my parents, and Chris' parents several years ago. We were finished eating, enjoying conversation and a little more wine. Someone asked Mamaw and Papaw what the key was to being married so long. They shrugged and smiled, the conversation moved along. We began discussing sleep patterns, like what time we went to bed at night and got up in the morning. Papaw said, "I'm an early riser so I go to bed about 8:00 o'clock. Jane here, she likes to sleep in, so she stays up much later than I do."
Mamaw raised her eyebrows, lifted her glass and said, "That's... how we've stayed married so long."
[Mamaw, Papaw, Oldest Boy and Middle Boy - July 2004]