Tag Archives: love

Loosening or Tightening the Knot

I dislike absolutes in life, especially casually tossed out, hyperbolic blanket statements. They dig under my scalp and into my brain like psychic chiggers.

I know, I know…given past experience, you probably figure this is a post that’s going to be about racial stuff. And then you go back to the headline and get confused and wonder, “Is it about lynching somehow, whether literal or metaphorical?”

Nah.

The blanket statements and knots I’m talking about relate to marriage (or any other similar relationship between two people—any theoretically committed, long-term gig to be by each other’s side, in each other’s bodies and juggling each other’s hearts).

I’m a veteran of marriage, having been in one for more than 14 years now, and having dated my amazing (and lovely, and talented and smart and yes every so often frustrating and infuriating) partner for a couple years before she became my wife. I don’t think that makes me an expert, but I have enough hours logged now that I can say a few things with authority.

First, no marriage fails in a vacuum and second, no marriage is doomed.

Save your retorts for the end; give me a chance to explain. This isn’t one of those religious “You can’t ever let your marriage go to pieces” posts.

You see, one of the people I follow on Twitter (and who follows me) is going through a separation (her second with this man, I guess) and probably to divorce. We’ve traded a few tweets and I’m sure many other people on Twitter have communicated with her too, with support, commiseration, questions and maybe even criticism.

She seems to have a pretty healthy outlook overall about the situation, even though it’s stressful, obviously. But she made a tweet today that took me aback, about how she wasn’t innocent in the breakup, and that it is entirely her fault.

No, it isn’t.

I can say this with assurance, and it goes to the first of my earlier assertions: No marriage fails in a vacuum.

Just as it takes two people to make the relationship (well, usually two; it can be more, of course), it takes both of them to tear it asunder. In the heat of emotional things like this, it’s easy for both parties to point the finger of blame, or even for their friends and family to assign the role of villain to one person.

But I’ve come close to the abyss in my marriage. There have been some rough times in recent memory and moments I thought it was all over. My wife and I have come back from the brink, and I have a very good feeling that we either won’t get to the brink again, or we’ll figure out again how to avoid going over the edge if we do.

Something interesting has happened for me in the travails I’ve faced in my own marriage: Realizing where I’ve gone wrong (mostly because I was willing to look inside myself and my actions in the context of the marriage; many people aren’t willing to do that). Now, I’m not going to say who was mostly to blame for the near ending of the marriage. But while one of us was noticeably more responsible for the dilemmas we faced, neither of us was anywhere near guiltless.

Fact is that in any relationship like this, no one is blameless. One person might be 99% to blame and the other 1% to blame, but there are always contributions and failures on both sides, and rarely is it so lopsided as to even be 80% or 90% in one person’s corner.

And that is part of the reason why no marriage is inherently doomed to failure (my second assertion). Because there is blame to go around, there are opportunities for both parties to fix things. If both parties are willing to truly look at themselves as honestly as possible and at the other person, those people will be able to get to the heart of what’s causing the rift.

Once the causes (and rarely is it just one thing) are identified, they can be fixed.

I don’t care how dire it is. They can be fixed.

However, the question is often: Should they be fixed?

And another question, perhaps more central to the issue, is: Are both people willing to do what needs doing?

Both people can make the commitment to change whatever needs changing in their behaviors, attitudes, perceptions or whatever else. They can save the marriage.

The question is never “can a marriage be saved” but rather “is it worth the effort/pain/time to save it?”

In our case, it has been worth it. Some major changes have been made. Changes that many would not be willing to make and that some might even say neither person should have been willing to make.

As to the former, not everyone can make the necessary changes. That doesn’t make them bad people or failures. We can only go as far as we feel we have the strength to go.

As for the latter point, whether the changes should have been made, well…that’s no one else’s fucking business. It only matters that we felt the marriage was worth keeping and that whatever discomforts might come with making changes were worth the payoff. No one looking from the outside toward the inside can truly judge whether there’s something worth saving; only those on the inside can really decide.

That’s not to say people on the outside can’t help with insights, observations and advice. But they don’t get to make the decision, and they sure as hell shouldn’t be coming out with “I told you so” comments if an attempt to save things fails. Because, bottom line, it isn’t their marriage; it isn’t their call.

Mind Your I’s and A’s

While our pastor’s sermon kind of meandered today (good message, but it seemed overly long and somewhat disjointed), there was a portion that caught my attention:

Where there is ignorance, there is often indifference. Where there is indifference, we often see intolerance. And wherever there is intolerance, we will see injustice.

That explains a lot to me about the world. Ignorance remains at the core of so many of our problems. Ignorant Christians, ignorant atheists, ignorant Muslims, ignorant Jews, ignorant agnostics, ignorant pagans…you get the idea.

Now, those who read me regularly might expect me to pick on the members of the Tea Party here in the United States. And certainly, their ignorance is often astounding, as they make people with education seem to be the enemy. Suddenly, to them, knowledge is the problem. God forbid anyone pays attention, or tries to consider complex issues. No, lock-and-load or fly off at the mouth are the ways to go.

But they aren’t alone. I’ve known a ton of ignorant “progressive” people and other liberals. People who say they understand the plight of people who struggle but who distance themselves from such people. They are just as ignorant, because they have some kind of general knowledge or book learning but no connection to the real issues or what needs addressing.

Stay-at-home middle class mothers who knock other mothers’ choices to send their kids to school instead of home schooling, thereby showing complete ignorance of those other mothers’ challenges and lives, which don’t mirror their own and therefore cannot often follow a similar model.

Men who blame women for leaving them and being shallow, while remaining ignorant of their own gender sins and the things they did that helped scuttle the relationship, too. Women who show the very same ignorance as they set unrealistic demands and then dog out their former (or current) men online for not being perfect.

Ignorance is at the heart of ethnic conflict; passive workers who allow themselves to be undercut by corporate interests; corporations who focus on short-term goals at the expense of the country and their own organizational health; teachers and doctors who slap labels on kids like autism or ADHD when they’re just being kids; and so on.

And so, with my pastor’s example in mind, with those four I’s, I now offer my four A’s as a counterpoint. As a healthy alternative. As the path for our salvation, whether secular or religious:

First, we need awareness. Honest, willing efforts to look past the surface of things and challenge our own assumptions about everything.

Second, we need authorship, so that we will be not just show silent accountability but also open assertion of where we fail and where we cease to understand. Such things will lead to us asking for help in increasing our awareness and then our authorship.

Third, with those two things, we will see more acceptance. Always in society, there will be things we cannot accept, but those will be the things that are truly hurtful as a result of cruelty or ignorance. But we will accept that people are different and even when they lead lifestyles that we find uncomfortable, they have a right to be the way they are.

Finally, those three things, if we seek them (and I have no reason to expect that humanity will bother to, but there’s always hope, right?) will lead to the start of ascendancy. This could be secular as easily as it could be spiritual. But it will mean that we are on the path to fully realizing our potential beyond mere self-satisfaction and laziness. We won’t likely become truly ascendant in these our mortal coils, because that’s expecting too much.

But damn it, we need to make an effort to head in that direction.

Taking Care

I’m in the position of having to take on a lot more of the household duties, as well as take care of my wife, as she recovers from her surgery.

It’s a small but notable reminder to me of the awesome responsibility we take on when we choose to form families.

Even when we don’t have kids in our relationships, committing to another human for life (theoretically, at least…Lord knows plenty of people don’t take that as seriously as they should when they trade vows), that commitment extends to caring for that person.

It could be a month after the wedding that one of you gets hit by a bus and you or your beloved might have to be changing the undergarments for a quadriplegic spouse. Or if you live to a ripe old age, one of you might be hale and hearty while the other one suffers chronic illnesses and needs to be taken care of.

Bring in children and it only gets more complicated. In lean times, it’s one thing not to have health insurance for myself, to not visit the dentist, or to eat ramen noodles and rice-and-beans for a week or two. But I can’t do that to my child.

Love is a sweet little word, but I wonder how many of us really consider the responsibilities that go with love. It isn’t just about affection and sex. It’s not just about a theoretically lifetime companion. It isn’t just about making “little versions of us.” It’s about work. Much of that work is just keeping the relationships healthy and always evolving in a mature fashion.

But sometimes it means taking care of that other person, and not asking or expecting praise for it. Not complaining about it. Not feeling put-upon. In fact, it means feeling a sense of pride and compassion and satisfaction at being there and making that person’s life better.

How many of us, though, really do that? How many of us are willing to care for our loved ones as well as we care for ourselves. Or, more appropriately, better?

Keeping it Together

Mrs. Blue and I have had our moments over the years, as have all married couples. With the decline of income over the years and the addition of Little Girl Blue along with Son of Blue, pressures have been higher than ever and, I dare say, we’ve had more big arguments in the past four years than we did in the prior seven we were married and the two during which we dated.

There have been times I was certain my marriage was over. In truth, those feelings have never lasted very long. Both myself and Mrs. Blue love each other and despite the occasional animosity that happens in life, we are devoted to each other and committed to our marriage and family. That isn’t to say that things couldn’t break at some point, but we’ve fought for our relationship, and staying together has always been the choice.

This kind of thing is on my mind a lot in recent months, not so much because of any particular pressures in my own marriage, but in those of people whom I know online (no, not personal, real-life friends, but people I do feel a kinship for online). A while back, it was SocietyVs, author of the Losing My Religion blog, whose wife had cheated on him and left him for a time. The separation didn’t last terribly long, and last I heard, they were still working hard on the relationship and SocietyVs, far from wanting payback for marital infidelity, had used this as a chance to see where he’s gone wrong emotionally and otherwise in the relationship.

On the less positive end of the spectrum, one of my top three or four favorite bloggers of all time, Chez at Deus Ex Malcontent, seems to be at the end of his marriage, after recently bringing a child into the world. He’s posted very honestly, even brutally at times some might say, about the situation. Through it, he has been careful not to lay blame at his wife’s feet but also to make clear that separation or divorce aren’t his choices. They pulled their marriage back from the brink a couple years ago, I understand, but it doesn’t look good this time around.

It’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten most of the responses to SoceityVs when he was posting about his marital travails, so I don’t recall if people were giving him some of the party lines of either you must stay together and fight for your marriage or you must break up now because otherwise you will both hate each other eventually. I seem to recall most comments were in the supportive range and more neutral and useful in their advice.

So, too, comments for Chez have trended toward balance and logic, but there are those who have said things like:

  • You must stay together for the good of the child
  • You must break up or you will make life hell for the child
  • It always takes TWO people to ruin a marriage
  • So, which of you gave us first!

And so on. While not the most common of comments, some of those on the fringed ends of the spectrum infuriate me with their black-and-white approach.

All of that is a very long-winded introduction to what I think will be relatively brief marriage advice from me here to anyone whose marriage is on the rocks or seems to be.

You must be willing to fight.

But you must choose your battles carefully.

And you must be fighting a good fight.

Now, the tricky part is knowing which battles to pick and understanding whether you’re really fighting the good fight. To me, I think it is important that in deciding these things, one must take their own interests out of the equation if at all possible.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t look out for yourself, your sanity and your own interests. Such things are important, but they don’t always involve a “fight.”

What I am talking about is when you make choices like:

  • Will I fight to keep this marriage together?
  • Will I fight for custody of the child or children?

Those are the two biggest fights I can think of. There may be others, but those are the most primal, I think, and neither of them can be made properly if you are considering your own wants and needs.

So, to the first bullet point, which might generally be called fighting for something: Staying together only makes sense if the two of you truly both need and want each other. You must be useful to each other and supportive of each other, whether that support is active and overt or more subsoncsious and subtle. If you aren’t both bringing something invaluable and irreplaceable to the other, why be married? Why be together at all? And this is why you must start by considering what the other person needs before you factor in your needs.

The second bullet point is more of the theme fighting over something, and it, too, requires you to divorce yourself from you own desires. Especially in the case of children, are you fighting for them because they are best off with you, or because you simply want to hurt the other spouse? Scoring points with children is a godawful thing to do, and I personally like the idea of God striking people with a bolt of lightning for using kids as weapons in a relationship. When my parents divorced, they refused to put me in the middle of things, and I will always be grateful to them for that.

I think that those people who stay married “for the sake of the children” are not that different than people who fight for custody in a divorce, just the flip side of the same coin really, and special attention should be paid to whether it really is best for that child that the parents be together. It might be, but it also might be the worst choice you could make. So again, think of the children first before thinking of yourself, or yourselves as a marital unit.

Yes, marriages and custody and the like are often worth fighting for. But sometimes, the war is already lost by the time you realize you’re engaged in yet another battle. Sometimes, there is nothing left to fight for, or fight over, and you need to make sure you aren’t still in a conflict that you are no longer likely able to win.

Hot Pink by Miz Pink

Tisk Tisk…

Deke has really gotten away from his prurient roots hasn’t he? Deacon Blue indeed. Sure he’s got that naugty language of his still going on around here but where’s the sexual tension we used to enjoy?

Is it up to me?…I guess so.

I mean I like sex and I think I’d like to keep having it in my marriage since I figure that’s the best way to keep Sir Pink from going astray and me from turning to reality shows, the Tyra Banks Show and Lifetime TV for my satisfaction (*shiver*)

Personally I think that as much as we want to chill out when we get married we need to keep at the sex thing and the being sexy thing. Kids and work and chores and stuff make it tough I know but we’ve gotta work at it. Even if it has to be scheduled nothing brings me and my hubby closer than when we get busy. Sometimes I treat it like a chore but just like the household chores, I get into it once I start and I have immense satisfaction when I finish the job right.

The ‘getting sexy’ part isn’t so hard I think. The BEING sexy part is tougher. We all get older. We get bumps and paunches and wrinkles and all sorts of other assorted un-wanteds whether we like it or not. Short of a huge bank account and miracle working cosmetic surgeon on speed dial we’re all gonna start to slip.

But that doesn’t mean we gotta just settle. Flab? Work it off a little bit at a time. Walk, eat more salads, whatever. Even if you wear jammies to bed get some that are coordinated, without holes and look decent. Don’t need to be silky though that’s nice. Nibble on your loved ones ear for no reason. Give neck rubs. Fetch them a glass of water or whatever when they need it. Talk dirty sometimes. Send a flirty e-mail or IM (just make sure to send it to the right person). Make an effort to show you’re still attracted and be as attractive as you can and the rest will follow more easily.

A Kiss Before Bedtime

A wonky wireless home networking system kept me from doing any kind of post last night, and the in-and-out connection has been playing havoc with me today, too.

I will probably post another installment of the Cleansed By Fire novel sometime today, if the gods of the Internet are kind to me, but here’s a quickie post to make up for having posted nothing yesterday and to give you something if you aren’t a sci-fi fan.

Mrs. Blue doesn’t like it when I ascribe semi-diabolic  motives to Little Girl Blue’s actions. She’s agreeing me with more often than she used to now when I point out such things, but I remember in the past year or so many, many times when I would suggest our little girl was playing us a bit, and I would get the stank eye in return from the wife.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My 3-year-old is not some devil child. She is challenging at times, but she’s also loving. And she’s whip-smart. To a certain degree, I like seeing that she has enough intellectual power to find subtle and tricky ways to get what she wants. I have to stay one step ahead of her, and that sometimes wears out my own brain, but I’d rather have that than a child who goes into brain-shutdown/drool mode in front of the TV on a regular basis.

The latest trick in her book is asking for a kiss at bedtime.

No, no, you don’t understand.

It’s not the kiss goodnight that’s a problem. I’m more than happy to give out one or even several kisses and hugs as I lay her down in bed.

It’s when she gets up, 5 minutes later and I ask, “Why are you up?” and she says she wants to give me a kiss. And I do. And I tell her she must go to bed and stop getting up. Five minutes later, she needs to give me another kiss, or a hug. And so on.

Now, she will from time to time say she needs a damp cloth to wipe her eyes, or another drink of water, but by and large, she will whip out the extra affection as an excuse to get up more often than not these days.

And this poses a real challenge for me as a loving father.

I know she’s stalling and trying to put off going to bed. And she probably enjoys yanking me out of my office every 5 minutes too, since it’s right next to her bedroom and it’s not like we can let daddy do his thing. 😉 But the real quandary for me is this:

I don’t feel right saying, “No, you can’t have a kiss.” Nor do I feel good scolding her about delaying her sleep after I give her one, even though I sometimes have to.

And she’s smart enough to know this, which is why she added this trick to her arsenal. She found an excuse that at least partially defuses my ability to get cross with her. Oh, sure, I eventually do reach a point at which I may have to threaten to deep-six one of her Dora DVDs or something, but for the most part, she gets to delay her bedtime (which is already way late by most family standards) and give me very little room to operate in a disciplinarian mode.

Like, I said, this girl is smart.

It’s that kind of skill that might serve her very well in life as she figures out how to navigate the hell that is other people (other annoying people at least…I’m not such a misanthrope that I think all people are trouble). But it’s going to give me some headaches, and many gray hairs, until she begins harnessing those skills for good instead of selfish reasons.

Gimme Some Lovin’

the_kissSo, I have nothing much on my mind today. I will be posting another installment of my novel soon, possibly tomorrow, but no deep thoughts right now. But I will say this: My brother-in-blogging Big Man had a nice post that generated some good comments recently, about sex/intimacy/relationships. Check it out by clicking here.

I not only say that to drive him some traffic (for those of you who don’t already frequent both of our blogs) but also because I took some of my own advice that I doled out in the comments section.

I made a point of grooming more than just at the basic level. I sprayed some “smell goods” on myself, I even dressed in a button down shirt and tie one day, even though I work at home and my wife does half of her work at home. I have made a pointed effort to walk downstairs to kiss her for no particular reason and just tell her how much I love and desire her.

It’s been a pretty good week so far.

I’m not saying Mrs. Blue and I have had some kind of earth-shattering encounter as a result of this, but we’ve had some intimate moments that went beyond the chaste. More to the point, though, I’ve felt much closer to her in general, and I think she’d say the same. Even if she has been teasing me to stop kissing her neck and get back to work.

In our busy lives, we can fool ourselves into thinking we’re too busy to make time for the person we love. It’s important not to do that, though.

Not just because we want to remind them how much we love them.

But also because we need to remind them why they love us.

Eyes of God by Miz Pink

pink-baby-gazeNah, I’m not talking about Gods Eyes, those little yarn and stick projects. I’m talkin about the pair on my new little girl Mini Pink Model 3. I’m reminded of the first two kids as I look at her face and how those big, moist eyes suck you in. I don’t think God’s eye (if he has any) are that innocent because Lord knows he’s seen everything. They’d be deeper and more complex. But still I can’t help thinking of God when I look at Mini Pink 3’s eyes. They are so open. So inviting. So utterly lacking in malice.

It’s the purest most untarnished thing that any of us probably get a chance to look at.

I know that we’re “born in sin” and we start early with the desires to keep things and take things and sometimes hurt others. But a newborn or an infant or even a toddler is for the most part so devoid of malice and scheming and nastiness that its a joy to look into their faces.

It gives me a bit of innocence I think. I think that when I look into my little newborn girl’s eyes that the love in my eyes must increase. My heart is filled and I am made a little better.

It’s one of those wonderful little gifts God gives us that we often don’t appreciate and that we too easily forget later on in the press of life.

It’s my third time and I’m sure I’ll forget how wonderful it is again when she’s saying “no” a billion times in a row or screaming becuase I won’t turn the TV on or something.

But for now I’m just goin to revel in those eyes.

(And no that’s not my baby girl. Just like I don’t post pics of me I don’t post pics of my family.)

Unconditional Love by Miz Pink

I know it’s very common for people to talk trash bout the big guy upstairs (um, God, that is, not the big fat man in the apartment above you who plays the music too loud) because they wonder how he could be a God of love and ever dream of punishing us.

I look at my swelling tummy and get ready for Mini Pink #3 to arrive, and I am filled with love. But I also know that he or she will get a ration of crap from me to go along with that love. I will lecture, correct, chastise and maybe even ridicule at times. I won’t feel good about it most of the time but also I will free it is right most of the time. And it will be because if I seem harsh from the kid’s point of view it’s only in order to keep that kid safe and raise it right.

I’ve been through this twice before and I still have to pull out attitudes and responses and punishments that I’d rather not with Mini Pink #1 and Mini Pink #2. I still have to watch helplessly at times while I let them make certain mistakes, not matter how painful, because I know they will learn from those mistakes.

I love them unconditionally. I would swallow crushed glass for their sakes or put mself between them and a bullet. I would kill anyone who tried to hurt them. I am an alpha bitch wolf and a she-bear. I don’t play. I won’t play. If one of my children should turn out to be a serial killer I will still love that kid. There is nothing that can separate one of my children from my heart.

But that doesn’t mean I give them a cake-walk and it don’t mean that I give them all that they want. It means I make the decisions I need to make and love them enough to do what needs to be done even if it makes me look like a jerk.

I expect no less of God. I never doubt that he loves me even when i don’t like what he does in terms of rules or disasters he lets go unchecked. Because that’s life and in the cosmic scheme and the universal perspective, there isn’t anything we go through here that matches what God has waiting for us if we don’t run out on him and go off to the nasty guy who tells us sweet things just to keep us on the wrong path. God loves us more than we appreciate and more than we can ever know.

Even with all I would do for my two kids and the third one on the way, I’ll never match God’s love.

(And yes, you can bet yer sweet biffy…whatever that means…that I will be posting a lot of pregger/kid themed things between now and when I give birth this fall and probably for a while thereafter too. Sue me)

Big Love From a Small Person

Look, I’ve been out of town much of the day on the highway shuttling Son of Blue to an out-of-state friend’s house, so I’m not sure if I’ll get around to making a substantial post on any pressing topics tonight or not.

But in the interest of being a proud papa and in giving you something to read, let me just say that of all the wonderful things I’ve experienced as Little Girl Blue has grown these past three years, the past week has brought one of the most beautiful.

She’s giving us hugs—big ones—and she’s planting real kisses on our cheeks and noses and necks along with those hugs. And it’s not just in response to us giving her affection but completely out of nowhere sometimes now.

She’s discovered sweetness and love and empathy for real. And it makes all the stressful things about raising a little child—all the tantrums and defiance and nonsensical decisions—just melt away.

I’m in some serious parental love right now, and I don’t care who knows it. Go ahead, revoke my “Manly Man” card.