Tag Archives: love

Father’s Day: Keeping it simple

father's day

My 40-something brain regularly forgets that my sunglasses are perched on my head, can’t remember where I parked the minivan, and compels me to walk around my house mumbling to myself, “Now, why did I come in here again?”  However, for some unknown reason, I have an incredibly detailed memory of my childhood.

I don’t have a perfect chronological recollection of my upbringing; instead, I have an almost photographic memory of certain mundane, seemingly unimportant occurrences like climbing my neighbor’s tree or eating dry Tang out of the jar with my licked finger. It’s as if I can transport myself back in time and re-experience all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings all over again.

Sometimes, if one looks at snapshots or home movies, one can artificially remember the events depicted. However, other than a couple shaky 8 mm films in my mother’s attic without a workable projector to watch them, and a few yellowing photo albums — with a clear preponderance of shots of my older brother, I might add – my family did not regularly memorialize events on film.

Therefore, my childhood memories are totally legit.

A couple weeks ago, I was at Walmart buying cards for Father’s Day. Our kids think their Dad is the greatest thing since Double Fudge Cookie Dough Blizzards, so they were happy to help. While they looked for cards, I figured I’d get one for my own father.

I read card after card, but could only mumble to myself, grimace and shake my head. None seemed to fit my complex circumstances. None described our complicated relationship. None communicated the vastly mixed emotions and unique bond that my father and I have.

The kids were done, so I sent them to find a gallon of milk to buy me more time. “Stop overthinking this,” I said to myself, “there must be something here that you can send to Dad.”

Before picking up another card, I tried to remember how I felt about my dad when I was a kid. Before my marriage to my Navy husband emptied my parents’ nest. Before my parents got divorced. Before my Dad resented me for not speaking to him for five years. Before I resented him for breaking up our family. Before we butted heads trying to form a new relationship. Before we had to forgive each other.

I thought back to a time when I was just a kid and he was just my Dad.

As the details of my childhood awoke from hibernation, vivid scenes began to flash in my mind. Dad taking out his false tooth (college football accident) on a family road trip, and talking to the tollbooth operator with a fake hillbilly accent, just to make my brother and me laugh. Dad letting me skip school to go with him to Pittsburgh for business, and me throwing up peanut butter cookies in the A/C vents of his Buick on the way.

Dad lying shirtless on the floor so my brother and I could draw on his back with ink pens while he watched golf tournaments. Dad lecturing my brother and me at the dinner table on report card day. Dad explaining to the police officer why he was teaching me how to do doughnuts in the icy natatorium parking lot after swim practice one night. Dad handing me an old tube sock filled with tools – a small hammer, screwdrivers, pliers – before I left for college. Dad nervously walking me down the aisle at my wedding.

One memory lead to another, and to another.

Then, my mind was seized by one final recollection, which ended my paralyzing over-analysis. I could see my father lifting me from the back seat of our station wagon. I had fallen asleep on the way home, but woke up when my parents pulled into the driveway. I kept my eyes closed and pretended, lazily allowing my arms to drape around my father’s neck and my head to lie upon his shoulder. I bobbed gently as he walked through the house and into my yellow bedroom, where he laid me in my mock brass bed, removed my shoes and tucked the covers around my chunky little frame.

I felt him kiss my forehead, and then, he stood there and waited a moment before he turned and left the room.

Suddenly, there at the Walmart, the Father’s Day cards on the rack had relevance.

My father raised me, protected me, cared for me, loved me.

I love and appreciate him.

Enough said.

Father

Does size matter (in marriage)?

My column in the May issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

My column in the May issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

Leaf through any wedding magazine, and you’ll think you deserve only the best for your big event. It’s a once in a lifetime thing, after all, so you shouldn’t waste this opportunity to treat yourself, right? Sure.

A humongous ring, a gazillion roses, pure silk, fine china, cut crystal, surf and turf, spa treatments, and of course, a honeymoon that’s simply to die for. Paris, Bora Bora, the Bahamas, Tuscany — that’s what you deserve! You don’t want your entire marriage to get off to a mediocre start, so you must demand only the best!

Reality check, please?

My engagement ring, a modest-sized gold solitaire, seems to have gotten smaller over the years, which might be due to the fact that it’s always gunked up with schmutz. My plain quarter inch wedding band has been dulled by constant wear.

For two decades, both rings have been permanent fixtures on my left hand (especially since I jammed my fingers catching a football at the beach a few years ago), which is now dappled with the beginnings of liver spots and crisscrossed with tiny wrinkles.

Here’s some knowledge I’ve picked up during these two decades:

  • Take the glossy wedding magazines with a colossal grain of salt. Few can afford to splurge on every single aspect of their wedding and honeymoon.
  • Anyone who does spend that much on their wedding and honeymoon will wish they a year later that they hadn’t.

I speak from experience.

Back in the spring of 1993, my then-fiancée was in his second tour of duty in the Navy, so he bought the best ring his non-existent budget and low limit credit card could buy. With the ring in his pocket, he knelt down between two tables at our favorite Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh one night, and asked me to be his wife.

Our Italian Restaurant

Our Italian Restaurant

I tried to cut wedding costs wherever I could – making my own veil and centerpieces, decorating the church, baking cookies for the reception, hiring an amateur DJ instead of a band. Everything went off without a hitch.

Just Married

Just Married

Afterward, we spent a night at the Pittsburgh Airport Best Western, complete with “honeymoon package” – a metal ice bucket with sparkling cider and two plastic glasses –before flying to Bermuda for our honeymoon. We had rented a tiny pink cottage named “Halfway to Heaven” with outdated furnishings and a few resident Palmetto Bugs hiding in the kitchenette. It was not as warm and sunny as we had hoped, but we got the cottage cheap because it was the middle of hurricane season.

Halfway to Heaven

Twenty years later, do I wish my husband had spent a little extra to get me a bigger diamond? Do I wish we had splurged on roses and limos for our wedding? Do I wish we had just shelled out a few more bucks to honeymoon somewhere that wasn’t in the midst of hurricane season?

Here’s the thing:

Back when we were scrounging for the money (or available credit) to spend on our wedding and honeymoon, we were so goofy, cheesy, silly, corny, stupid in love, that we were clueless. Mention that time in our relationship to any of our relatives, and they will roll their eyes and huff, “Oh Brother, you guys were so annoying.”

Oh Brother

Oh brother….

We were in that ridiculous stage when you can’t keep our hands off each other. When you look into each other’s eyes a lot and giggle. When you talk incessantly about how much you love each other’s freckles, hair, eyes, lips and toenails. When you think that everything that happens is serendipity.

To us, our honeymoon could not have been more romantic – everything from the stormy skies to the Palmetto Bugs had some kind of romantic meaning. Blinded by love, “Halfway to Heaven” seemed like Pure Heaven to us.

So now, when I look down at my plain gunked-up solitaire ring, I don’t want a bigger one. My ring symbolizes that lump in the throat feeling of being utterly in love, regardless of financial or practical limitations.

My ring reminds me that, as long as we splurge on love, size really doesn’t matter.

IMG_5383

 

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Don't miss the big MSOY 100-page June issue! https://www.facebook.com/MilitarySpouseMagazine/app_453999958005196

Don’t miss the big MSOY 100-page June issue! https://www.facebook.com/MilitarySpouseMagazine/app_453999958005196

I only have eyes for you, Dear. Whether you like it or not.

One busy weeknight while chewing the last bites of pork chops and boxed macaroni and cheese, I asked my husband, “Did I tell you about my conversation with the sixth grade math teacher today?”

Gnawing a particularly tough piece of meat, my husband shook his head with a familiar glazed look in his eyes. After 18 years of marriage, he knew that I could take a good 20 minutes to describe cleaning the fuzz out of the lint trap, so he settled into his seat and braced himself for excruciating detail and superfluous analysis.

“Well, I called him about the semester project,” I continued, “and do you know what he said?”

“No. What.” my husband robotically replied, staring blankly into space.

I went on, in great detail, to describe a mundane event in my daily life as a stay-at-home Navy wife and mother of three. However, many years of housewivery had taught me that I could give our regular dinner conversations a stimulating dose of drama and suspense if I merely embellished my otherwise ordinary stories with exhaustive descriptions, exaggerated voice intonation, and vivid facial expressions.

I told my husband all about my phone call with the math teacher, but it came off more like a thrilling off-Broadway play. During a particularly expressive point in my story, my husband, tired and irritated after a long day and a mediocre dinner, interjected sardonically, “Oh, please, do that again with the bulgy eyes. That’s really attractive.” Fully intending to add insult to injury, he mocked me by imitating my Marty Feldman-like eyes, while I sat, stone-faced, glaring at him.

Although his deep-set eyeballs could never mimic the natural prominence of mine, my husband nonetheless contorted his face to look as ridiculous as possible. As I watched his discourteous display and doggedly gripped my fork on that weeknight at the dinner table, our entire marriage passed before my genetically protuberant eyes.

What’s happened to us? I wondered. We used to be so lovey dovey, and here we are pelting each other with insults over Shake & Bake. Is our marriage hopeless? Does he think I’ve become unattractive and annoying? Well, I don’t recall anyone dying and making him God’s gift to women. Hrmph.

Bitter, I finally interrupted his facial contortions, “So, who are you over there, Robert Redford or something?” With blatant hypocrisy, my husband took immediate offense to my sarcasm and scowled.

We sat in silence, sucking the macaroni from our teeth and avoiding eye contact.

Unable to remain mute for more than a minute, I spoke weakly without looking up from my plate, “I can’t help that my eyes bulge, you know.”

My husband’s irritation was suddenly replaced with sincere remorse. “Oh, Honey, I’m sorry,” he said, moving in closer and placing his hand on mine. “I don’t think your eyes bulge. I think you’re bulgy in all the right places.”

His awkward flattery softened my ire, and I released the death grip I had on my fork. Glancing up from the remains of my pork chop and into his deep-set eyes, I realized that, even if we get a little mad from time to time, we’ll always be madly in love.

When Strangers Marry

On this day, eighteen years ago, I promised to love, honor and cherish a man I really didn’t know all that well at the time.

In fact, prior to committing ourselves to each other until death, my husband and I were pretty much clueless. We had no idea what kind of husband or wife we might turn out to be. As long as we were in love, we thought, nothing else mattered, right?

Time marched on, and with each passing year, we made new realizations about each other and our relationship.

Most significantly, our vastly different childhood experiences forced us to redefine our pre-conceived notions of “man” and “woman.”

My husband grew up going to private school as the son of a neurologist in the affluent DC suburb of Chevy Chase. At weekend cocktail parties and crew regattas, parents chatted over canapés about politics, world events, and their children’s prep schools. They drank bottled water and bought their food from overpriced grocery stores. They had things like capers and pate in their refrigerators, and drove imported cars.

I, on the other hand, grew up in a town with only one high school, where we thought every one in the world had two days off for hunting season. To the people of my small town, “Chevy Chase” was not necessarily an affluent neighborhood, and it was perfectly normal to get your water from a well and your meat from the woods. Our refrigerators frequently contained bricks of Velveeta, cans of Hershey’s syrup, and in the spring, fish with the heads still on. My parents’ vehicles were pre-owned, and other than one Volkswagen Beetle, none of them were imported.

My husband grew up believing that all women can throw sophisticated dinner parties at the drop of a hat, while being charming and looking fabulous in the latest styles from Lord & Taylor or Talbot’s. He did not realize that he had made a lifetime commitment to someone who shops at Target and whose idea of a party is opening a bag of Fritos and watching a Steelers’ game. My poor husband has had to redefine “woman” to include those, like me, who would prefer a hot poker in the eye than the obligatory social events required of a navy officer’s wife.

Similarly, I have had to adjust my definition of “man” to include those who don’t own any thing that is fluorescent orange. I’ve had to realize that there are men out there who actually prefer white wine to beer, and not all men demand space in the garage for a work bench. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my husband is afraid of tools, guns and knives, and shudders at the mere thought of putting a worm on a hook, much less eating a fish with the head still on it.

I’ll admit – I have felt somewhat guilty that I’ve never fulfilled my husband’s expectations of what his wife might be. I’ve often wished that I was more sophisticated, more formal, more “fancy.”

And I’ve seen self-consciousness in his eyes too, like the time I had to put the barbecue grill together because he couldn’t understand the instructions, or the time I snorkeled on a beach vacation for four hours alone while he sipped a Pink Squirrel and read an Oprah Winfrey book selection under an umbrella.

If we knew back then what we know now, would we have eternally promised ourselves to each other before the altar of Graystone Church eighteen years ago today?

Without a doubt, I say “Yes.”

When we first met, the one thing we knew for certain was that neither of us was perfect, but we instantly gave each other the pure and unconditional acceptance that had been missing in our lives. Unless one later discovers that one’s betrothed is actually an axe murderer or a spy for the Russians, unconditional love and acceptance is a powerful thing that can transcend unknown personality quirks.

Besides, I’ve also discovered along the way that my husband is incredibly disciplined, dedicated, and hard-working. Better yet, he is fiercely loyal and his love for our family is deep and sincere. Best of all, he makes me laugh.

We may not be the husband and wife we thought we’d be eighteen years ago, but deep in our hearts is the underlying truth that we love and accept each other just the way we are.

So, Happy Anniversary, Honey. Always be yourself, and I will always love you for it.

Dissecting the Teen

SCENE ONE: (Mom cheerfully sweeps kitchen floor. Front door opens. Brooding Teen in hooded sweatshirt enters. Without looking at Mom, Teen shuffles down hall toward bedroom.)

MOM: (Hurriedly following.) “Hi Honey! How was school today?”

TEEN: “Nghu.”

MOM: “Hmm? What was that?”

TEEN: “Nghoo.”

MOM: “I’m sorry, Sweetie, but I couldn’t hear what you said. Give it to me one more time.”

TEEN: “Ngood.” (Teen slams bedroom door, leaving Mom alone and dumbfounded in hall.)

END SCENE.

This little vignette is reenacted over and over again in our house. Day after day, week after week, month after month.

Now that my son is a full-fledged teenager, all affection, conversation and attention are forced under threat of house arrest, or bribed with expensive electronics, edible treats, or cold hard cash.

His father and I used to rock his world just a few years ago. He would burst out of school each day and find me waiting there to walk him home. His eyes would light up, and he would often run at me full pelt, plowing into me with open arms. He would linger a few seconds so I could run my hand through his sandy colored hair and kiss him on the head.

But then, he became a teenager.

When he first started withdrawing from us emotionally, I panicked and thought, “Why did I let him watch that PG-13 movie when he was twelve?! And, he’s always resented me for those cute bowl hair cuts I used to give him. I knew I never should have spanked him when he put that waffle in the VCR! Oh God, what have I done!?!”

We worried and watched, waiting for a call from the police informing us that our son was holding the school principal hostage or that he was hitchhiking across the country on an historic crime spree.

Even though the police never called, we feared that our son’s withdrawal from us was clear evidence that he was on the brink of some kind of teenage nervous breakdown, all caused by our overbearing demands and inadequate parental nurturing.

Eventually, we did get reports of our son’s behavior, but not from public authorities or school officials. Other parents told us what our son was doing outside our home.

“My daughter told us the funniest story about your son at supper last night – apparently he had the whole literature class laughing yesterday at school.”

“That skit your son did for our Cub Scout den was priceless. We videotaped it!”

“Your son was so chatty and polite when I gave him a ride after football practice yesterday.”

“You must be so proud that the Biology teacher played your son’s cell project video to all the classes. It was so well done.”

Initially, we thought, “Are you sure you have the right kid here? Our son is the one that never wears anything but that hooded sweatshirt, doesn’t make eye contact and grunts. What skit? What cell project?”

Slowly but surely, we began to dissect this brooding man-child living in our house. By examining his separate and distinct parts, we started to understand the creature our son was becoming.

We discovered that our son isn’t an axe murderer, he’s just a teenager.

Outside our home, he is a smart, funny, outgoing football player, scout leader, band geek and math tutor. When he gets home, he withdraws and hides his burgeoning personality from us, afraid that we will interfere or attempt to change him. His “split personality” enables him to grow, mature, and as much as we hate it, become independent from of us.

We have to let our son create himself, whatever that creature may be, and in the meantime, we must learn to find complex meaning in the grunts and grumbles he emits.

For example, “Nghu” really means, “Wow, thanks for asking about my day at school, Mom – it actually went quite well despite the fact that I missed you terribly and couldn’t wait to come home and eat your delicious home cooking.”

Nowadays, when I force my son to let me hug him, I interpret the pained expression on his face to mean, “Mother, my gratitude and respect for you are so intense that I can only bear it for a second before I must shove you away.”

Another thing I’ve learned: Asking one’s teen for a kiss on the cheek definitely requires bribery. Pepperoni pizza and chocolate chip cookies work for me.

[See the hilarious Neuron Cell project video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH37g_KDM_s.]

War of the Roses

It is a night like any other night.

The soft glow of the television winks off, signaling the start of our bedtime ritual. I hoist my weary body out of the hollow it creates in our sofa, and begin my journey down the long hall to our bedroom, flicking off lights and peeking into the kids’ rooms on the way. My husband peels himself out of his leather recliner and plods off to the kitchen and sets the coffee maker to brew the hot elixir that will wake us in eight hours. 

Peering at my baggy eyes in our bathroom mirror, I floss, brush, and gulp down a self-prescribed combination of eight vitamins, minerals, essential oils and fiber, intended to keep me eternally young, and regular. Although he used to simply strip down to his undies and hop into bed, my husband now joins me at our double sinks, to floss and brush his teeth and a recently filled cavity.

With oral hygiene completed, we fumble into our bedclothes – me in pajama pants and a sweatshirt to keep warm, him barebacked with only his Jockey boxer briefs. Much to my dismay during the winter months, my husband is always hot and turns the fan on before plopping into bed. Despite the chill of the circulating air, the comforting whir of the blades drowns out some of his snoring, so I’m generally OK with it.

We each grab a corner of our quilt, and climb into bed, me on his right, and him on my left. 

“Hike,” my husband commands with his eyes already closed. I oblige, lifting my left leg and flopping it over his right. With our legs intertwined in such a way, we kiss goodnight and silence falls.

“Hey, you’re over the roses,” I murmur. Our bed, a 100-year-old French antique with three roses carved into the apex of its lovely arched headboard, only fits a full-sized mattress. The middle rose has always been our equator, our 38th parallel, our Berlin Wall.

Despite our substantial body frames, we have been sleeping on this full-sized mattress our entire 17-year marriage, and territory disputes arise frequently. 

With a loud “tsk,” my husband jerks his girth two inches to the left, and as I wait for the resulting undulations of the bed to subside, I find my place in my latest book.

“The light,” my husband moans. He can’t sleep with the light on and I have to read to get sleepy, so I fumble for my book light that is somewhere on my cluttered nightstand. Finding it, I click off the lamp.

“Holy cow that thing is bright,” he whines after I push the button to illuminate the tiny light. He stuffs a pillow over his eyes and I compromise by angling the beam away from his side of the bed. I find the spot on the page where I dropped off the night before and focus my thoughts on the words.

A few minutes later, a familiar sound interrupts my reading. The rhythmic racket like sandpaper scraping rough wood or maracas keeping the beat is always accompanied by a prolonged jiggling of the mattress. These well-known clues point to only one thing: my husband is scratching himself again.

But it’s not so bad. When we lived in moister climates, the scratching was incessant, and often included the additional disruption of my husband furiously rubbing his burning feet together. Although I offered various creams and powders in hopes of dousing his fiery itch, he never seemed to mind it, and in fact, took pride in the association of his condition with “jocks” and “athletes.”

The sounds and shakes soon subside and are topped off with a loud, elongated yawn. Silence falls again and my mind wanders back to the pages of my book. I lose myself in the wordy descriptions of the characters and begin to doze.

Onions. My eyelids blink open and I turn my head to the left. I grope for my book light which, along with the book, has slumped onto my stomach. In the dim light, I see my husband’s open mouth about six inches from my head. The hot breath emanating from this seemingly enormous dark cave makes my nose crinkle. 

For some unknown reason, the smell of my husband’s breath does not seem to relate rationally to his eating habits. I don’t recall serving the aromatic bulb with tonight’s dinner or dessert for that matter, but somehow his mouth is giving off the clear scent of onions. The same irrational rules govern the odor of his belches. I could serve him a heaping plate of sugar cookies for dinner, and if he burped afterward, it would smell like salami. Go figure.

“Hon, could you face the other direction?” I gingerly suggest. It takes him a sleepy second to process my request, and then he smacks his dry lips, growls and hurls his body onto his back in a tuck and jerk motion that violently shakes our bed. 

Fully awake again, I readjust by book and tiny light, and delve into the words. An unknown period of time passes, and I awaken to find my book back on my stomach and the light buried in the covers. I place the book and light on my nightstand, snuggle into the blankets, and surrender to slumber. 

My dreams take me to fuzzy locations with people I can’t remember but somehow recognize. The subconscious situations change frequently and my eyelids twitch. The dream turns fitful, as I struggle to reach something I can’t quite distinguish. Slowly it comes into focus and I realize that I am trying to throw a blanket over a chainsaw that is getting louder and louder.

With a tiny gasp, I awaken and realize that the chain saw of my dreams is my snoring husband. 

“Honey, turn on your side, you’re snoring,” I whisper.

“Hu? Wha?” he mumbles. With another prominent “tsk,” he jerks and tucks his body to the left, managing to curl our quilt around him like a giant burrito. Feeling the cold chill of the fan breeze on my uncovered body, I fight for my share of our quilt. Slowly the quilt unravels itself from around my husband and I shield myself from the frigid air.

I lay awake a few minutes, thinking of our nightly ritual and whether or not it indicates anything about our relationship. I feel remorse for making my husband accommodate my light-sleep habits, and contemplate spooning him to communicate my regret.

“Hike.” my husband knowingly whispers from his side of the roses. I flop my leg back over his, and warm and secure in our little bed, we happily drift off to sleep.

Tired? Boring? Predictable? True marital romance is a gas.

See this article as it appeared in The Washington Post on January 24, 2010:  

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/23/AR2010012302853.html?nav=most_emailed

One busy night after the kids had gone to bed, I settled into my well-worn spot on the sofa for some mind-numbing television.

“Can you believe this guy?” I asked my husband, seated in his favorite recliner beside me. When no answer was forthcoming, I glanced over to witness an all-too-familiar scene: Deeply embedded in the recliner’s cushions was my husband of 17 years, sound asleep.

Normally, I would giggle, turn the lights out around him and go to bed — a sort of revenge for being “abandoned” for the umpteenth time. He’d eventually wake up alone in the dark and trudge upstairs to find me tee-heeing under the covers.

But on this particular night, I gawked at my dreaming husband as if I were seeing this for the first time. Is this the man I married?

Panic gripped my soul as I realized: We’ve changed. We’re tired, boring, predictable. We’re doomed.

One evening in 1992, my husband-to-be and I were at an Italian café in Pittsburgh, sipping wine and falling in love.

“I really want to travel,” I said. “Me, too,” he said. “I want to live near the ocean,” he said. “Me, too,” I said. “I don’t care about money, I just want happiness,” he said. “Me, too!” I said. It was a match made in heaven.

But maybe if we understood the reality of marriage our conversation would have been different: “I might have a lot of stretch marks,” I should’ve said. “That’s OK, we’ll just dim the lights,” he might’ve said. “I’m going to go bald, but ironically, hair will sprout out of my ears and nose,” he should’ve said. “I’m good with tweezers,” I might’ve said. “I have no mechanical ability whatsoever and will feel no embarrassment if my wife handles all the home repairs,” he should’ve said. “I won’t have a problem with that for the first 10 years or so, but then I’ll get really fed up,” I really wish I’d said.

But back then, we weren’t thinking about annoying habits, taxes and clogged drains. We were too busy planning our perfect life to be bothered with reality.

Our unrealistic expectations persisted after we were engaged. “Oh, pardon me!” my fiancé yelped after accidentally belching. Although he insisted that he would never expel any kind of gas in front of me, it didn’t take long to erode his steely resolve. Today, expelling gas is almost commonplace and happens as soon as the urge beckons. Mid-sentence, under the covers, in the recliner. “Why do you have to burp while I am talking to you?” I’ve said. “I didn’t burp,” he’s said, sincerely oblivious.

Before marriage, I preened and pampered my fiancé like a primate, manicuring nails and plucking stray hairs to maintain his ruggedly handsome good looks. I thought this giddy nurturing stage would last forever; I had no idea that those stray hairs would later multiply so profusely that our grooming sessions now take place in the garage and involve the leaf blower. The pedicures have become completely intolerable, because my husband’s left piggie toe now resembles a tiny hoof. One of the kids recently asked him if it was made of wood. I had to draw the line somewhere.

So what am I saying? Are we doomed because we haven’t met our premarital expectations?

That night, as I watched my husband dozing, I realized something very important: We did not meet our original expectations — we’ve exceeded them. Back when we were dreaming of a life of romance uninhibited by responsibility, stress and aging, we couldn’t fully comprehend the complexity and depth of the marital relationship.

What we didn’t understand then is that romance is more than candlelight dinners and adventurous travel. The foundation of long-term romance is really commitment, companionship and comfort.

Realizing this, my initial repulsion at the sight of my sleeping husband turned to adoration. And as I turned out the lights and sneaked upstairs to wait for him to wake up alone in the dark, I felt happy that our marriage is on an unexpected course to paradise.

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