Tag Archives: marriage

Day 20: Date Night (31 Days of Simple Truths)

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(Obviously, we’re not watching NCIS here. But we’re cute anyway!)

Tuesday nights are probably my favorite night of the week.

My husband and I have been fans of the show NCIS for all of our marriage. He actually introduced me to it on the flight home from our honeymoon—awwww! It’s been our weekly ritual for our entire marriage (except during the summer, the annual State of the Union address, a few random by-weeks, and severe weather tracking—so sad, although we do have a funny story about the weather tracking one. Maybe another time!).

But there was a small wrench in the plan once we had kids who were big enough to not sleep through the whole thing or go to bed at 7pm. It’s not a kid-friendly show.

Separately from that, we were living far from family, he was working crazy hours, finances were strained to the max, and date nights were extremely rare.

So Tuesday nights became our thing. We told the kids that we needed a stay-at-home date night. They would have to go to their beds early, but they could have books, coloring things and a toy or two until we came to tell them “lights out.”

We fiercely protect this time. No, we cannot do anything else on Tuesday nights! And we try to make it special—a bottle of wine, a special dessert, a pint of ice cream, or even a cup of tea. It’s a chance to laugh together, to just be, to not feel the weight of all the hard, life, grown-up things.

And this I know for sure, relationships—any relationship, but especially marriage—take some creativity in order to maintain connection through every hurdle that manages to line up in front of us. It is worth the effort, and it is definitely worth prioritizing.

What relationship needs a little creativity from you these days?

As a weird sort of P.S.: Over the past few weeks of this NCIS season, I’ve noticed that the vast majority of the commercials during the show are aimed at senior citizens. What does this say about Jonathan and me? Are we watching an old people show? Are we old? No one told me! Oh well! We love Gibbs!

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Marriage, Parenting

What the Hope of Gilbert Meant

anne.gilbertIt seems that a lot of beloved celebrities have left the world in the last several months to a year. Maybe it’s more than usual, or maybe it’s just that many of them now are associated with my own childhood or other significant memories and so I feel it more.

I probably don’t have to tell you (but I will) that something is distinctly different about Jonathan Crombie’s death. Of course, in my practical mind, I know he is a very real, flesh and blood person—someone’s son and sister and friend, and all those people are grieving him as such. But for millions more of us, Gilbert Blythe is dead, and this strikes us in a deep place that is hard to articulate.

More than one woman I know has tried—very unsuccessfully—to explain to a husband or significant other or just any male in general why this is a loss. I know my own husband has given me more than one “are-you-kididing-me” look since I heard the news. And I almost feel silly. Why did I actually cry over this? Is this like weeping through Titanic and Rose’s heartbreak as she pushes Jack’s body off the frozen iceberg? Is this like watching The Notebook? Is this chick-flick madness run amuck?

I’m going to have to say no. There’s a reason—a far better reason than a beloved book or excellent onscreen portrayal of a character. Gilbert Blythe is so much more than the heartthrob male lead in a love story. I mean, of course, he was perfect. His boyish grin that stayed with him from the schoolyard days when he had that unruly mop of curls all the way until he was a distinguished medical student—sigh. He was handsome and smart and charming. Even when he called Anne “carrots,” we were already falling for him.

When he clapped like a goofball after her performance at White Sands. When he gave up the Avonlea school so Anne could stay with Marilla. When he was heartbroken after Anne rejected his proposal and told her he knew she’d marry some fool who’d sit and read her Tennyson by firelight and he hoped he’d break her heart, whoever he was. Heck, even when he was at death’s door because of scarlet fever and revealed he’d broken off the engagement with Christine because there’d never be anyone else for him besides Anne—he was perfect.

But there’s still more. Gilbert Blythe meant something to so many of us as young girls because he sent a message through his unyielding love for Anne that countered practically every other message we receive as women every day of our lives.

Gilbert was hope.

Hope that smart actually was better than pretty (or at least as good as, because come on, Anne was lovely). Hope that we could be smarter than a man and instead of being threatened by us, he would celebrate us. Hope that we could have days when we were at our worst, days that could possibly include smashing slates over his head or knocking him over with our basket of flowers, and he would still want us. Hope that our pasts did not define us. Hope that it was really ok to not be like the other girls. Hope that it was ok to crave both romance and something more. Hope that ambition in a woman was not unattractive. Hope that we really could give a dramatic performance or write a book (or any other creative endeavor), even if no one around us ever aspired to such things. Hope that if our imaginations got the better of us and we ended up in some bizarre scrape (like hanging onto a bridge for dear life because our little skiff sprung a leak), he might tease us a little, but at least he would bail us out.

The fact that a man like Gilbert might love a woman like Anne meant that maybe we actually were not too much. This was perhaps the biggest hope of all—that with all of our fiery emotions (and possibly bad tempers) and lofty ideals and propensity for mischief and artistic bent and flair for the dramatic and tendency to make mistakes because we were so outspoken, maybe we were not more than a man could handle. Maybe we were just right, exactly as we were.

No wonder a fictional character managed to be the first true love of so many young girls. Maybe it was silly. Or maybe it was exactly what we needed to keep us from losing heart.

10514541_804042912973190_2247408792594572404_nAnd when I look at the man I’ve married—well, perhaps he’s not quite so eloquent and refined as Gilbert. But goodness, he has always embraced all of me—the good, the bad and the crazy. He champions me. He cheers me on when I chase my ambitions. He laughs at my dramatics . . . and occasionally gets a little dramatic himself. He picked me because I wasn’t like all the other girls. He’s not threatened by my strengths. He’s my safe place.

Like Anne, it took me a little bit to find him because I went looking for my ideals outside myself too. But even there is another gift Gilbert gave us—the hope that if it took a long journey to find ourselves, we would eventually find our way home, find our way to the love we’d always needed.

I don’t know if this will help our men look any less bewildered as we cry over a fictional character, but pondering the significance of this beloved character and how he actually shaped me has helped me to understand my own heart a little better and to appreciate my husband a lot more. And I’ll take both of those things any day.

So, rest in peace, Jonathan Crombie. And thank you, thank you for immortalizing the reminder of what kind of love we could hope for and giving us courage to be true to the women Anne inspired us to be.

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Filed under Creativity, Hope, Love, Marriage

The Act of Choosing Every Day

We have spent the last few days celebrating seven years of marriage. Seven! We enjoyed a much needed, relaxing, kid-free weekend (hallelujah!), and then yesterday–the official day–we let the kids in on the fun of celebrating with us.

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Anniversaries of any kind invite so much reflection, and this has been no exception. My heart is full as I realize the strength and gift of what we have. I would by no means claim to be an expert, but I think I have realized one very important truth for building a healthy marriage: you have the opportunity every single day to choose each other all over again, to turn towards each other even when you’d rather turn away.

I always wondered how people could say they had just drifted apart. How does that happen? How do years go by and suddenly there is nothing where there was once a loving relationship? And I think it has something to do with this choosing.

Our responses and interactions with each other in the flurry of ordinary, every day living either add a brick towards forming a wall between us or they bring us a step closer into deeper connection with each other. It is not enough to choose each other as a spouse and have a pretty ceremony and say our vows. We have to go on choosing each other every single day.

When I don’t take him granted and I express my appreciation for all the little ways he helps carry the load, I am choosing him.

When he hurts or disappoints me and rather than attacking him, I express myself with humility and grace, I am choosing him.

When I hurt or disappoint him and I swallow my pride to say I’m sorry and make it right, I am choosing him.

When I recognize he is weary and stressed and I say, “Hey, why don’t you go for a run?,” I am choosing him.

Again and again, countless ways, I can move closer to his heart or I can step away.

We haven’t always gotten this right. There have been seasons when poor communication or overwhelming circumstances were allowed to build a wall between us, and it was tremendous work to tear that thing down. And I can see how something like that could grow insurmountable to where it seems completely hopeless. Those chasms can get harder and harder to cross.

But in the opposite vein, even when vulnerability and humility seemed the painful option, I have never ever regretted choosing that path. It becomes easier to choose that step now rather than deal with the wall later.

And with this understanding, I have a renewed passion for the next season of our marriage, a renewed commitment to being even more intentional about choosing this amazing man all over again, every single day. There are so many ways we can still say, “I do,” and I am looking forward to finding them.

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Filed under Covenant Relationships, Hope, Marriage

40 Days of Poetry: First Kiss

I am on day 5 of a 40 day poetry course through Story Sessions, and oh my goodness, this has been fun and amazing and stretching already.  I won’t be posting everything I write for it here, but I will share some of my favorites along the way.

Photo by Jorge Parrales II

Photo by Jorge Parrales II

It is the evening walk to my front door.
February wind blows timid, caresses not so biting.
My heart surprises me with its fluttering –
the revelation of how I do not want you to part. {ever}

The good-bye hug begins.

I linger far past the acceptable time for such things.
{you do not seem to mind.}
The scent of cologne, the strength of your arms,
the warmth of you near –
a heady cocktail to make me forget my resistance
if only for a moment.

The walls shudder and snap back into place.

I force myself to step away,
fighting the magnetism of my soul and yours,
but your arms tighten with the resolve of knowing
and your kiss lands like a grenade on my barricades.

Many years and many fiery kisses lie behind us now.
Still this is our secret –
when the locusts come to eat everything alive
and the vultures come to feast on our weary, wounded hearts –
we are saved by the heat and the sparks and the melting in,
the pulling close of two lives forged into one.

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Filed under Marriage, Poetry