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Marriage: a Formula for Success

I was making small talk. Okay, for me small talk can be a range of things. I believe everyone has a story to share. So, the get-to-know-you questions came up, and in there was, “How long have you been married?” I always have to think about that. “Almost 12 years.” “Oh wow, that’s a long time. What do you think are two things that have helped you?” Without thinking, I responded, “Stubbornness and loyalty.” Later, I returned the question after learning he’s been married 11 years. “Knowing that you are two whole people coming together,” he waxed poetic.

I sat on this for a few days, and I decided to post it to my Facebook world. I love the responses I got. Check it out! 

Communication and laughter and being able to accept when your SO tells you you’re being an ass

Compromise. Knowing we both can’t always have it their way all the time. And laughter…we can be huge dorks

Pick your battles, don’t sweat the small stuff.

Well damn. Mine would be similar to yours. We’re having our 10 year wedding anniversary this year and I would say service and loyalty. By giving and remaining true to standing by each other… you can get through all of the harsh crap that surfaces every now and again

Compromise. Knowing we both can’t always have it their way all the time. And laughter…we can be huge dorks

Hmmmm…..humor, communication, and knowing our roles. Hopefully, that doesn’t sound bad, but having a child with special needs we don’t always have a lot of time so we do the jobs we have strength in.

Softball and chocolate

Owning my own [stuff] and committing to basic emotional literacy such as “I statements” and a profound desire to “fight fair.” There will always be issues and annoyances, but I choose to focus on the many good things we have and to be a loyal, loving friend. That they are as committed to that as me makes it possible.

“If my brother annoys me there are two handles by which I can pick that up,” as a Stoic saying has it: “By that , it annoys me or that he is my brother.”

Laughter

Communication, yes of course! I also believe that at the end of the day your spouse needs to be your best friend. Laughter, fun, and not taking things too seriously helps too

My friend’s grandmother was married for 70 years and said simply ‘love.’

My mom was married for over 30 years said “there were times I did not like your father but I never stopped loving him”

I got divorced during year ten with my ex and I’m I’m year 6 this year. But what’s helping my husband and me through life is laughter, every day!

Choose to love every day. Even days when it’s hard. Choose to love.

Compromise and communication. We make sure to know what is going on with each other and make all big decisions together. We also make sure to spend time together each week doing something – dinner, movie, shopping, something that is just time together.

Commitment to mutual joy, focusing on the compatibilities.

My partner thought for a long time and then said, “Liking each other a lot.”

Respect, laughter, play, and friends

The best way to ensure a strong marriage is to work on yourself.

You put up with one another’s shit and you know how to let go so the other can grow.

Being willing to dive into the hard stuff and come out on the other side stronger. Giving space for each person to remain their own person. Laughing till you cry at ridiculous and small things.

Forgiveness and understanding

  1. Respecting the other person
  2. Actually liking the other person.
  3. Fighting fairly. We haven’t had that many fights in 20 years of being together. But in each of them, we have never been mean.
  4. Being on a team
  5. Always give more than you receive. If you are both in it like this you never come up short.

We also give each other a pass on social/family gatherings. I let him know when it’s really important and he comes along happily.

Conversation. forgiveness. putting up with some random quirks that bother you, without letting them GET to you.

At my marriage we had our friends and family write words on rocks to help remind us how to be in a relationship. While we are no longer married we do still abide by that advice because it’s even harder to maintain a good relationship when you are no longer together but still share parental responsibilities and family.

Respect and be nice! Always be grateful for what the other person does for you and the family and say thank you often.

Lace your fingers together. See how snug and tightly woven they are? He met my weaknesses with his strength. And I tried to do the same for him. He was the wind beneath my wings.

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Back Spasms

Low-resolution image of the Oregoh Health and ...
Image via Wikipedia

Back spasms brought us to the OHSU emergency room tonight for my dear husband, who wrenched his back probably Thursday, but felt it Friday. It got worse, even after the Saturday chiropractor appointment, and he was in noisy excruciating pain today. So, after negotiating the no urgent cares, from the Internet, in the city limits, after he woke from his nap even worse (all day was progressively worse); we voted for the hospital. Our dear friend watched Levi and monitored the roast I put in the oven. We were gone about three hours with a verdict of nothing wrong with the kidneys, and nothing obvious with the back, which means muscle spasms and narcotics with a free pass from work for a week. We are well enough for now. My hope is the patient stays home like he’s more or less ordered to…

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Quiet – Please

I feel like I should be thankful they want to talk to me. How much of the growing up years did I long for people to want to talk to me? But, it’s not always conversation I receive. It’s a litany of what they see – a verbal narrative that never stops, is often not interesting to me, and yields no peace and quiet.

We were driving, and while he was steering, there was barely a silent moment. “Look at that tractor. I want to check Craigs List. I would like to buy that tool. Did you see that thing?” Levi then begins his own chatter to compete or compare or be like his father. Then the father’s litany continues.

Quiet please. Can’t we just be quiet and be alone with our thoughts? Perhaps it’s more arduous because I am sick. My nose is stuffed. My head is stuffed. I can’t hear very well because my head is stuffed.

I should be more proactive about stating my own needs.

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Mantras

Look what we did!
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

One friend (you know who you are) sometimes has to get out her “Momma Zen.” This is when her kiddo does something so… kiddo-ish, that she might be in shocked horror while embracing the kid-factor of his being, that she calls out for her Momma Zen to calm her, remind her that he’s only a small fry once, and this really doesn’t matter in the scheme of things because he is a good kid.

I have a few mantras I find myself using. Deep breaths when I am faced with something so ridiculous (this is usually when my husband says something so off the wall I don’t know how to respond). So, I take a deep breath. Usually the thing figures itself out, or I am given a moment of reprieve. The other day, for example, he asked, “Do you mind if we eat in front of the TV tonight for dinner?” I snapped, “I don’t care!” We’re learning how to communicate with each other so he replied, “Now, wait, what do you mean.” Seriously, a year ago, 2 years ago, we would have huffed to each other, and not said anything. This is great marital progress. So, I said, “Yes, I do mind if, and I would rather we sit at the table and eat but, I’m tired, and I’m not going to fight about it, so I don’t care.” We ate at the table, as we usually do. That’s quality time.

Sometimes, I try to remind myself that the guy in front of me isn’t really trying to cut me off, but he might be late too. I use deep breaths here. Sometimes I’m unsuccessful and a few mutterings spew out. I hope they are quiet enough Levi can’t hear.

Sometimes, I don’t understand what is motivating someone to the point I’m dumb struck. Why can’t they see it the way I do?! (Because they aren’t me!) So, I tell myself, “Patience.”

Sometimes, it feels as if the whole world is bubbling over and colliding. It doesn’t matter what you say, the folks you are around keep taking what you say and leaping off weird cliffs and distorting your words. Here, I repeat, “Grace under pressure, grace under pressure.”

I’d like to think it works. My logical brain tells me people are just being people, and we’re usually too selfish and self-centered to intentionally cause harm to another. That is, I’m hedging my bets on selfishness that few if anyone is out to get me – especially the random driver who just cut me off! He might be a jerk, he might be trying to get home.

My mantras come from my mother. Not the specific phrases that go through my mind, rather the concept. She would often say while we were growing up to reserve judgment until you’ve walked a mile in someone’s shoes. I probably had to play that out in my mind a half million times before I could conceive of understanding.

Let’s take the guy who just cut you off. Sure, you’d like to track it to pattern because you’ve noticed a dozen or so drivers being squirrelly the same day. But, let’s think about this for a moment. This guy, imagine, just got a call, his wife’s in labor. It’s been a difficult pregnancy, and they had a c-section scheduled in two weeks. He got a call that his wife’s water broke, and they are rushing her to the maternal-ER to make sure everything is okay. I bet he’d be in a hurry. I hope he’d be in a hurry.

Walk a mile in someone’s shoes doesn’t mean imagine the worst – it just means, take yourself out of yourself for a moment. Remember there is a bigger, wider world out there, that doesn’t revolve around you. Remember that life goes on in a myriad of ways, and sometimes a little patience and kindness is all that’s required. So, deep breath, remember patience and grace  under pressure.

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Tension & Pretense

Play napping on the living room floor.
A picture of Levi being SILLY. There was no tension here! Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Ever been in a situation where there is rampant speculation, many unknowns, and lack of trust with each other? You know what I hate about those situations? The TENSION. The kind of tension you can cut with a butter knife it’s so thick and soft.

After I got married, our lives threw us into some of the realities of marriage: IT’S HARD. It’s damn hard. It’s hard letting go of the butterflies and giddiness and getting down to real life. It’s hard learning to trust. It’s hard not speculating, and it’s hard realizing boundaries. So, with my sister’s death, Grave’s Disease, being a new mom, and a new bride, I found myself in (gasp) … counseling. This is a concept I have previously abhorred because I believe we should be able to turn to our close friends (think many generations, inter and intra) for guidance, listening, and hope. But, I realized that my friends (and family) either didn’t have the time, the wherewithal, or the capacity to do that – so we had one session of marriage counseling, and I continued on, solo, for a year. I’m sure I could use more counseling, but I got sick and tired of talking about myself the whole time. It seemed no matter what progress we made and how my views changed, I was still talking about the same things. So, to me, it meant I needed to really figure out how to talk about those same things to the people that mattered: namely my husband.

I got some good tidbits, though, from this psychologist.

  • First, I have permission to have boundaries.
  • Second, I am responsible for my own feelings and no other person’s.
  • Third, not everything is my fault.

There were more tidbits, but those are good highlights.

See, I’m the type who has been known to over-analyze and take things too personally. That wore me down. Always. Wondering what people think, what they consider, what they want – constantly anticipating needs while letting my own go. And, this psychologist, she gave me permission to stop. It was so obvious, so beautiful. She encouraged me to read a book I’ve promoted before, Safe People by Cloud & Townsend, two Christian Psychologists who talk a lot about boundaries. She and this book ask simply why we just don’t take things at face value? So, I started doing that.

I still see things lying behind the surface. I can still tell when someone is holding something back. I can still feel tension because people have interpreted things maybe in a way that shouldn’t have, or they are sensing something coming down the pipe that they are fearful of, but I have learned to ask questions and not worry about it.

I am learning to be more frank. I am learning to not care as much and have faith that I will be taken care of because I have a will, and where there is a will there is a way.

So, what I wish for is that I had more trust, so when I find myself in another group setting where there is so much tension, I could just say something to encourage others to say what’s on their minds.

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Daily Post: Best 2010 Accomplishment

Levi & Peter admiring the view.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my husband and my son. Just look at them! Adorable! And, we're participating in a trash-pick-up to boot! Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Topic suggestion: What’s the single most important thing you accomplished in 2010?

After this topic, I will be caught up with the challenge, and lest I get behind, I will be posting once a day under this “Daily Post” / #postaday2011 tag.

I haven’t often reflected specifically on the previous year to analyze my accomplishments, and from them, pick the most important. So, let’s take a look at the highlights?

  • Continued to raise a beautiful, kind, energetic boy named Levi.
  • Continued to work on this crazy, myriad thing called marriage – enjoyable companionship and frustrating differences of opinion abound!
  • Finally the food club started and have played an integral role in its set up, even being named president.
  • Continued to volunteer at the Church as reader, {new} Eucharistic minister, and religious ed (Sunday school) teacher.
  • Got a Paying Job.

My gut says, “Say the job, it’s what they want to hear.” You know, because that’s how we value things, generally, in our society – by the pocketbook. So, if we are earning money to value our worth and our daily tasks, then that must be more important than the other things.

Food - 2
Levi helping me make bread. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

But, my gut also says, “Value Levi first!” I value Levi first, but is he my greatest accomplishment in 2010? He’s his own person now. And, seriously, what thought went into his creation on my part and my husband’s? Honestly, not a lot. Kids sometimes happen, and they are beautiful, wonderful gifts and surprises, but if a lot of planning DID NOT go into their creation – how can they be called a great accomplishment by the parents? Whatever Levi goes onto accomplish, and he’s had some super milestones this year on his own, will be his, and his alone. As his parent, it is my job to coach him along, help him figure out what values, morals, etc are important and explain to him why I think x, y, and z are the most important. But, is his being my greatest accomplishment? I have to give a resounding no.

Likewise, my husband and I are learning how to be married. Every year we evolve a little bit more. Every year we appreciate each other a little more, learn more about respect, about communication, about family, about love. We didn’t know many of these things when we stated our vows. No one really tells you what’s up in conversation. Can they? Could you hear? So, as a work in progress, is my marriage my greatest accomplishment? Again, while I’m glad we’ve come a long way, I can’t say that it is.

Volunteering at the church is something I do as a servant leader. I feel I must, and as I learn more about certain jobs, I want to do certain things less. Once I made the choice to reconnect with my Catholic Faith, I felt it was very important to act on it in the capacity I had. This meant, at first, reading at mass. As an over achiever, I wanted to do more, and somewhere along the way I mentioned an interest in helping with religious ed. At the church, over the last 5 years, I have helped decorate, fill in in the office when I could, read monthly or every two months at mass, now serve as a Eucharistic minister, and help with Sunday school. This is my second year helping with Sunday school, and I’m not actually enjoying it. Sure, the kids are great, but I have the hardest time explaining faith with the materials and lesson plan given to these young kids. The teenagers are a lot more fun with their questions and critical thinking. This year, none of the parents said evenings would work for them, so the time is still in the middle of the day. This means, we go to church, go home, then I go back. And now, it’s two Sundays a month, and with all the other things I’m involved with – it feels more like a committed burden than any sort of service accomplishment. So, although it could be argued it’s this noble thing I’m doing, I don’t feel like it’s a significant accomplishment.

That leaves the food club. This is where I feel we’ve actually accomplished something and where my greatest 2010 accomplishment lies.

December Frontier
Our largest club order in my living room, later to be transferred by our SUV to be sorted, and then returned to my home for pick up. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

In 2008, the idea came to start a wholesale group, buying primarily food together to cut retail overhead associated costs and make better choices with a group of close friends or neighbors. Well, things didn’t pan out like I thought they would. 2009 was a pretty dry year with buying, and it turned out that my friends weren’t the right people for a buying club. I have a limited network, so I tried to reach out where it was reasonable, and one place I reached was a local Food Coop, People’s Coop, where part of their mission is to assist new buying clubs and coops. Many coops start as buying clubs, so a network link was formed.

Still nothing really happened in 2009, we met, we heard the spiel, we made two orders. I got tired of sending out monthly emails reminding the few folks who found us through Google and Craig’s List that we’re still here, if you have an idea of a buy, let’s get it going! Then, this People’s connection did two things, only one of which I was aware at first. First, she asked me if I’d do an interview and answer five questions via email. I did this but didn’t know it got published until 6 months later. The second thing she did was suggest I become Facebook friends with another Portland Food person. This gal, at the time boasted the largest area buying club and in many ways was over capacity, so she put me in touch with another gal in my neighborhood who was already ordering.

Suddenly, I found myself within the realm of the right people. In many ways, it felt like the thing I was waiting for for so long was (like my whole life, but not really) finally coming to fruition. I was skeptical that this would work and treading lightly was very important. I hope I have accomplished that.

Those first few months were interesting. First, it was Kristina, Kimberly, and I talking, then just me and Kristina. And since no one else seemed to really want to do the talking, it ended up being me. I didn’t mind, this is the thing I wanted, so I wanted this role – this leadership role. We met monthly. Dropped Robert’s Rules as our mode of meetings and went for Consensus. We talked, implemented, and changed. I learned more about my meeting facilitation skills, and where other folks don’t have skills and how that is still similar to me.

Food - 3
Heirloom tomatoes from our 2009 garden. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I met this amazing group of women who could rule the world. And, mostly, I’ve tried really hard to make sure people’s assumptions don’t get the best of them and encourage judicious, fair thinking across the board to so we can create a sustainable community first within and then without and throughout the rest of the community. Those basic goals are common with the other members in our steering committee and the club.

The goals for the next year would be to increase club participation. We have about a 10% steering committee/buy organizer participation rate. If we could raise that to 20% (20 regular volunteering members instead of 10) we’d do a lot to increase voices and alleviate the work loads.

So, my greatest accomplishment of 2010 was realizing my facilitation skills and seizing the opportunity to practice them with a fantastic group of women who under the surface are itching to change the world.

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