What I know about LOVE at 44 …

Aunt Kate & Uncle Joe with their granddaughter

Aunt Kate & Uncle Joe with their Granddaughter

Love happens.

My Aunt Kate once said about love, “When you get it right, it’s a slice of heaven.” She has been happily married to my uncle for 40 years, one of the best examples of a successful marriage I’ve seen.

I met and fell in love with my husband when we were both in high school. We dated through college, married in our early twenties, and quickly had two children. We settled into our first home in a family neighborhood, where I stayed home to raise our daughter and son.  I expected to always love him, to be married forever.

Love goes away.

My husband and separated when I was 38; then divorced.

He is now my ex-husband. Yet it is still a love story to me, because my children have been one of the greatest joys of my life. My ex and I both love the children, if not each other.

Many years ago, my mother passed away after battling cancer. Divorce and breakups aren’t the only romance enders, partners can pass away.

Love can have many chapters.

After my mother passed away, my father met his second wife. We are profoundly grateful they found each other, his wife has been a gift to our family.

A friend was toasted with, “to the most optimistic woman I know,” at her wedding, when she married her third husband. Nobody expects to be married two, three, four times. But it happens. Perhaps there are more challenges and baggage, but it can work. I admire those with the courage to dive in, embrace another chapter, and love again.

Love comes back.

We all know couples who separated, then reunited; or married, divorced, and then married each other again. Long married couples often say they stayed that way because they never wanted to divorce at the same time.

Couples often struggle during transitions, such as retirement or children flying the nest.  Sometimes they lose each other, and then find their way back together again.

My Wedding (1992)

My Wedding (1992)

Love is squirrely.

Can’t chase it, and catch it. Can’t manufacture it, or force it to be there. Can’t will it away, if that’s what the heart feels. It’s isn’t easily explained.

When things got rocky in my marriage years ago, my then husband and I did a brief stint of marriage counseling.  I remember saying to him, “I think you want to be in love me.”

To which he responded, “Isn’t that a start?” (Meaning a start at repairing the marriage.) No. It really wasn’t. We separated soon after.

Divorce, loss of love, isn’t as simple as pointing a finger.

Was the divorce his fault? Mine? Both of our faults? Yes. It was.

During divorce, many want to blame somebody, or something. It gets complicated. Many thought I should have been more angry or bitter than I was. Here’s what they didn’t understand.

The divorce forced me out of my comfort zone, freed me in some ways. I’ve met new people, grown and developed, pursued my interests, worked to build a career, raised two children as a single parent, and learned to stand on my own two feet.  It’s been hard, challenged me relentlessly, but it has also been good for me, empowering in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

People don’t fall in and out of love at the same time.

Often during love relationships, one person stops feeling the love, while the other is still in love. After the breakup, one person feels guilty, while the other devastated. Many times we don’t fall out of love at the same pace, or at the same time. It is doing somebody a kindness to let them go, when it isn’t working.  It frees them to grieve, and then find the love they deserve.

It isn’t a picnic to be the one who lags behind, who is dumped while still invested in a relationship. Neither is it fun to call off a relationship, hurt somebody.

It isn’t wrong to be either person.

People often botch the ending.

Instead of facing the end of a relationship with honesty, many have affairs, drink, avoid home, pick fights to justify their actions, work incessantly, and all manner of things that make the ending more confusing, messier than it might have been.

Adultery is particularly challenging; it creates shrapnel that children and families pluck out for years, perhaps even lifetimes.

Teaching teenagers about love is hard.

As a single, divorced mom, it’s tough to speak to something that I neither succeeded nor failed at.

I’m not providing an example for my children to learn from, or follow. Could be worse, I could be providing a poor example; serial dating, dragging drama into our family home, and doing more damage to my children. I rely on family and friends to model examples of solid relationships these days.

What can I tell my children about love?

If you fall in love, be honest. If you fall out of love, be honest. Don’t muddy the waters with bad behavior, cheating,and lying. Respect the love you once felt with an honorable ending.

Evaluate the failed (or ended) relationship, yourself and your part in it, your patterns, before moving to the next relationship. (i.e. “clean up your mess”)  Without time, reflection and cleanup, your next relationship is doomed to failure.

When you find somebody you don’t want to live without and they feel the same for you—something clicks. Value it.  Respect and cherish it. It doesn’t come along every day. Hang onto it.

Wisdom to add? Something you’ve learned about love? 

Please share your thoughts by commenting below…

Barefoot, Barf and Candy Hearts

candy heartsMany would have considered this week a failure…

Early in the week, I spoke in front of a group of about 100 people with less than a days notice. And because Daughter took the shampoo to school, I was stuck washing my greasy hair with a homemade mixture of baking soda, warm water and vinegar .

(See last post for full story…)

Found the recipe on the internet.

At the dinner table that night:

Son: How’d you smell?

Daughter: Were you mad? I saw your text about the shampoo at the END of the day!!

Me:  Not at all.

Thankfully, that isn’t the type of thing to wind me up. I found another way to make it work. I’m really good at that, because I’ve had lots of practice in recent years.

Then came Valentine’s Day.

People get a little silly about the holiday. (In my opinion.) Though I’ll say, I can only remember a few times that I didn’t get something from parents, boyfriend or husband.

And yet, the retail stores can keep their candy, flowers and other fripperies. I’d far prefer a nice fella to curl up with at the end of the day. Somebody I can laugh with, who’ll share my sorrows and who I look forward to spending time with. The Dog and Pony show? I could skip that…

Could care less about the candy hearts, or the flowers…

Which is a good thing, as they were in short supply this year!!

This morning…

I was up early. At 6am, I stumbled out of bed and made my way to the sliding door to let the dogs out. I rubbed my half-closed, eyes as I moved toward my laptop in the dark.

But my foot landed in something cold. And wet. The consistency of pudding.

I hopped over to the light switch, then flipped it on. Barf! One of the dogs puked.

Eeeeewwwwww…

Not for the first time, I was grateful for my catlike reflexes and coordination. I quickly hopped through the kitchen, dining room, down the hallway to the bathroom and got into the shower.

Not exactly the way I was hoping to begin my day, but I didn’t miss a stride.

These things happen to me. Often!

I’m not sure why.

Probably, that’s why it doesn’t bother me to hit a roadblock, because life mostly doesn’t go smoothly for me.

The best part of this week?girl

My cousin and his wife are having a baby—and it’s a girl. Not since Thanksgiving has the family been this excited. (Thanksgiving was a free for all when they shared the ‘big news’)

It’s a Big Deal to all of us…from Cleveland, to Pennsylvania to California and other locations—we’re all filled with joy to welcome another member to our family.

Puke between my toes, baking soda and vinegar in my hair, zero Valentine’s Day candy.

None of that much matters.

The things that really matter are my children, family and good friends. If they are okay, I’m happy. This week, I’m a tiny bit happier than usual—because there will be a new baby girl joining the family soon. Such a gift.

What a spectacular end to an otherwise ordinary week!!
[one_half][/one_half]

[one_third]

Things I’ve Been Thinking About Lately…

In no particular order, some of what I’ve pondered recently:

Why doesn’t anybody from HGTV ever stop me outside of Home Depot?

I would love a bathroom redo. A yard makeover. Pretty please with sugar on top would somebody remove my gravel driveway and install pavers, black top, or cement? They could redo anything. I would cooperate—and not get mad like some of the ungrateful people they show on the design TV shows. They could pick whatever they wanted. Plenty of projects around my house…They could even pick two.

 

 

 

 

How in the he#% does Daughter do her hair with this curling iron?

Seriously. It is in pieces. Most of them long gone. She slides the little metal tube thingy onto what’s left of the curling iron and creates curls and ringlets without burning her fingers. And it looks lovely. She used this method to achieve the look in her senior pictures. How? People go to the salon for curls like that. And should I be concerned that she plugs her ‘rigged up’ contraption into an outlet in my home?

On men, women and relationships…

Why do men see right through men and know exactly what they’re about? And it takes a woman about 2 minutes to know  what another woman is about. And yet men and women spend YEARS in relationships–without a clue. Just no idea what their partner is about. Would it not make more sense if we could read the opposite sex, as we can read our own? And yet, we often cannot. Why. Just, why?

Why can’t I find 31 gothic pickets?

I’ve needed them for a couple of months. When I DIDN’T need them, I saw them everywhere. Now that I am LOOKING for them, I cannot find them. Which means I have a partial fence. I cannot apply the fresh coat of white paint, nor can I install the arbor above the two posts that look silly. And I don’t want to complete the landscaping, because it will get in my way when I paint the doggone thing.

Pulling into my driveway last week:

Me: I’ve GOT to find those gothic pickets.

Aunt Kate: Why?

Me: Look at the fence!! I want to finish it up…make it look pretty.

Aunt Kate: But it makes me laugh every time I pull into your driveway.

I’d hate to spoil her fun…

Why is Table #6 taking such a long time?  

It has been in my garage since June. When I finally started it, I couldn’t get the stain off the top. I dumped a bottle of stripper on it over the course of a couple of days. Scraped. And scraped. Then scraped more. Then spent a few evenings looking like I took a swim in sawdust. Probably the table is ¼” shorter than it started out being. I had thought I might finish today, but I need more paint for the chairs. When I blow my nose, whats coming out is Italian Olive…the green color I’m using. I can look forward to another day of Italian Olive snot tomorrow. Because I am STILL not done!!

How long does it take to grow new toenails?

Son wore old cleats for football Two a Days. And they were too small. His toenails were a mess afterwards. And he walked funny. (Really, really funny) No idea how he played football after that. A couple of weeks later, one big toenail is completely off. And the other is 90% off. How long is it going to take for the boy to have a BRAND NEW set of big toenails? Because I think he needs them. And again, why? Surely he wasn’t the only kid who didn’t yet have his new cleats. Things happen to him that don’t seem to happen to others. But then, he is my son. I will spare everybody the photos. Looking at his toes nauseates me.

Got answers to any of that?

Feel free to share…

Mr. Grey & Miss Steele ~ The Halfway Point

I stopped reading at the end of Chapter 16 late last night. When I start again, it’ll be with Chapter 17 and page 290.

Which is just a little past the halfway point. Not yet sure what to make of the book, but there have been some ideas, questions, thoughts on my mind…

Is chemistry essential for a successful relationship? What IS chemistry?

Chemistry often defies definition. Sometimes we want it to be there, try desperately to feel it even. And it’s not. Then when we aren’t expecting it—don’t even want it present. It is there. And it cannot be faked or forced.

We can all think of examples of couples who seem to ‘fit.’ And couples who don’t. It’s true that we never know what goes on behind closed doors, but I have long thought that couples who don’t ‘fit’ and yet hang in there (unhappily) are perhaps trying to push the square peg into the round hole—instead of cutting their losses and finding the square hole. It is often easier to stick with what we know, even when it doesn’t work—than to move on, not knowing what the future holds.

I’m 41. I’ve been through a divorce. A brief relationship during/after the divorce. Dating as a teenager. And dating as an adult. What I’ve learned? I’ve got a lot to learn. I’m quite sure of that!

But I do know that chemistry is essential for me. I’m not willing to be in a relationship without it. What is the point? I may not be able to define it, but I know if it is there. If we are honest, it is either THERE or it is NOT.  Life is difficult enough and relationships aren’t always easy (or Perfect). And so personally, I’m not willing to do battle to find affection/chemistry for somebody. When the right chemistry is there, everything else tends to fall into place.

Human Nature…

I see the human sides of Mr. Grey and Miss Steele. I don’t hate either of them (yet), nor do I think badly of them.

So Mr. Grey uses sex as a form of control—or tries to. I’m not even sure I can say he manipulates (yet) because he is completely straightforward. And thus far has exerted his control in a fair (and even kind) fashion, without malice.

Honestly, nothing in the book so far is ANY different from the thousands of ‘bodice rippers’ that many women read every day.

The difference? There is the negotiation of sexual acts considered outside the range of ‘normal.’ Or the hint of them. So far, there’s been a spanking. (And the ‘bodice rippers’ sometimes have that, especially the historical romances set back hundreds of years ago…)

How many of us use control to get what we want?

There are MANY ways to control others. How many people use money? Or social position? Or dangle a job? Or use the kids? Or make threats? Which leads me to a big question that’s been on my mind while reading…

What type of control is the most damaging?

I find myself questioning whether emotional manipulation is worse than physical? Is it worse to chip away at another’s self esteem and self-worth with words? To use words to gain control and take advantage of another? Can words cut deeper than a slap on the behind? What about those who withhold affection, sex, tenderness? Is that equally as damaging to the spirit? Because it is certainly a means of exerting control.

I can’t help but wonder if ANYBODY who places conditions on a relationship is doing the same as Mr Grey? Just using different methods. And maybe to a different degree? Is there an unidentified (and unspoken) Dominant and Submissive in many relationships? Is the ‘game’ the same, but with different currency required for approval? Is it worse, more damaging when it isn’t spelled out?

The whole, “I’ll love you if___________.” Fill in the blank.

If you’re thin enough. If you act a certain way. If you do what I want you to do. If you marry me, buy me the house I want, make enough money, do as I say….

Taken several steps farther, there are those who place conditions on all of their relationships. With their friends, parents, children. It is just their way. I have known a few in my life. And though I don’t think they are ‘bad’ people, or even wrong. I do tend to keep my distance, because that personality isn’t one that I am overly compatible with.

My last thoughts…

I notice that they call each other Mr. Grey and Miss Steele during conversations and the more mundane activities such as dinner, graduation, etc. It is during the intimate moments and when they drop their guards that they use Christian and Anastasia.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that Mr. Grey is pressing for his paperwork and agreements, trying put the relationship neatly into its little box—with labels and rules. And Miss Steele is supposed to be the innocent victim. Yet, she seems to hold her own, thus far. She seems to turn the tables on Mr. Grey. Meaning she has her own power—and instinctively knows when/how to use it.

There you have it. An accounting of thoughts/ideas that have bounced around in my brain while reading…

Note to Cheryl Sadler: Get a copy. (Don’t wait for the library copy.) This might merit a ‘discussion’ at a local winery soon. Could be fun, right?