Category Archives: marriage

What Do You Say?

Last month I sat around a table with 1/2 a dozen sticky faced toddlers. Each one clutching a mangled dixie cup of cheerios in their hot little hands. Upon reaching the bottom of the cup they lift hopeful eyes in my direction. The more assertive personalities hold up their cup beseechingly.

“What do you say?”

Each one, in turn, squeaks out an adorable “pa-wease.” Even S rubs his tummy to sign the word.

After that, it’s smiles all around, flush with the success of snack acquisition and the effusive praise that comes with having “SUCH good manners.”

This is what we do. We teach our children what to say.

Say “Hi” to Grandma. Wave “Bye-bye.” Tell your brother “No thank you! I don’t like it when you throw sand in my eye/take my toy/hug me until I fall to the ground/bite me on the shoulder.”

We give our children words to foster relationships, stand up for themselves and express their feelings. We teach them how to treat others, and ourselves, with respect. Words are the sticks and stones brick and mortar of relationship development.

At the end of a meal our big kids are expected to clear their plate and say to whomever prepared the meal, “Excuse me, thank you for my dinner.” It’s a pretty habit we admired in the respectful, well-behaved children of other families we know. We do the same in the hopes that one day our children will morph into something similar.

I’m not so deluded as to believe it is always the honest expression of heartfelt gratitude. Some nights is sounds more like “excusemethankyouformydinner, it’s MY turn with the iPad, put it DOWN, it’s NOT FAIR, where’s MY ice cream, DON’T touch me, MOOOOOOO-OOOOOOM.”

Other nights we get the sullen, slumped shoulders version which sounds like the exact opposite of gratitude “Ex-cuuuuse me. Thanks for my ‘dinner.'” And we launch immediately into a lively post-dinner discussion about attitude and tone of voice, which is always fun. “What do you mean? That’s my normal voice. I always talk like that.” This actually does have a ring of truth, since sullen-pre-teen-cool is becoming our new normal. Sigh.

But we plug away. Every time they say the words, they go through the motions of Grateful. If nothing else, it is a reminder that meals do not magically appear on the table; they are a gift of time and effort, and hopefully (most nights) some small amount of skill.

Manners are a big deal in our house. I went toe to toe with the speech therapist who insisted that the sign for “want” was the strong verb B needed to use most in her communication. I insist on “please” when she needs something. It may seem like a small thing, but when words are few, they should be the right ones.

And hopefully attitude will follow action.

The easy part is writing all of this about my children; yet another parenting technique we subscribe to. The hard part is applying it to myself.

Glen and I had one of those rare lingering disagreements this weekend (we usually have heated/hurt feelings/cry/make up/I-can’t-really-remember-what-the-big-deal-was-anyway/quick fights). We are tired and overwhelmed and in this life stage, with head colds all around, it’s probably inevitable. But the lingering is worrisome. And unhealthy. And I haven’t been ready to let it go.

I won’t go into the details (mostly because they are pretty stupid and petty), but we both felt disrespected and devalued. Me, by his actions and he, by my words.

I’ve been absolutely certain that actions trumped words. Wasn’t that the point? Not what we said or how we said it, but what we DID. Sure, I had been a little bit wrong, but he was wrong-er.

So there.

Then this morning I dusted off this blog post that I had started weeks ago: pontificating about the importance of words. Gah. I suck.

I thank the doctor for his time. I say ‘please’ to the waiter who brings me a drink. I excuse myself from a meeting rather than abruptly walking out. I would never demand or yell or belittle someone I had just met. Doesn’t my family, and especially my husband, DESERVE respectful words even more than the strangers and acquaintances I practice my manners on all day long?

I know they do. And when I am feeling entitled and ungrateful and irritated, I can only hope that saying the right words will help adjust MY attitude too.

So here’s me, thanking my husband for all he does. He speaks to me with respect and that means a lot. I’m sorry.

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The Evolution of Sexy

Tonight I find my husband particularily sexy.

He pulled a giant hairball out of my drain yesterday. And no, that is not a euphemism.

That’s just the kind of thing that does it for me.

It got me thinking about the origin of sex appeal. And the movie Magic Mike which was just released in theaters. The trials and tribulations of a male stripper has been cheerfully labelled “Mommy Porn.” It is meant to appeal to women of all ages. Finally, some eye candy for the ladies! But I don’t get it. Not really.

If grown women are going to drool over Channing Tatum, I think his character Leo, in the Vow, would be a better bet. The funny, long-suffering husband who loves fiercely and sweetly. That’s a whole lot sexier than smarmy bump and grind with strangers who paid for you.

I think most of us mature past pointless eye candy. Hopefully. As women, we need more.

Sure, I’ve been known to ogle my man. He has rugged, masculine good looks, deep blue eyes and other physical attributes I will detail for him privately (after all, both our moms read this blog and it will remain PG). Suffice it to say, I think he looks sexy.

But this alone isn’t what has made him irresistible to me after more than 20 years together. He is more than just an attractive physical specimen.

He has snot trails on the shoulders of his black t-shirt. He has a soother and a matchbox car in his pocket. He has a strange clay sculpture on his desk and rainbow scribbles on the wall of his office. He has a sparkly bow in his hair to “make him pitty.” He loves our children without reservation. And THAT is sexy!

He makes me howl loudly – with laughter. He tries to seduce me with lyrics from the Wiggles (I’m Robot number One, flip the switch to turn me on…), and it usually works. He knows all the inside jokes and can deliver a punch line with a single look. And THAT is sexy!

He has perfected his Attentive Listener Face, and is able to contemplate changes to his hockey pool line up while simultaneously allowing me to vent about our latest potty training debacle. He navigates messy family politics and is always on my team, if not always in agreement. He sticks it out to fight through the issues, big and small, though his every instinct screams at him to flee conflict at all costs. He endures hormonal tirades and diffuses teary, self loathing recriminations. And THAT is sexy!

Sexy is strong enough to be gentle.

Sexy is secure enough to respect a woman and want her to succeed.

Sexy is selfless and loves through better and through worse.

So flex and pose all you want, Hollywood. But I’m a grown woman and there is more to sexy than that.

So here’s me, married 17 years today to the cute boy who sat next to me in Social Studies. He gets sexier every year!


Modern Day Torture, aka The Timeshare Presentation

This time last week, we were on holiday, in Hawaii, but not anywhere we wanted to be. This time last week, the sun was shining, the beach was calling, but we were stuck indoors. This time last week, we experienced one of the unique tortures of modern society:

The timeshare presentation.

Reeling us in

They’re so friendly. Pushy, but friendly. First they butter you up with free chocolates and gifts for the kids. Then they pull out the big guns. The “no obligation whatsoever cause we’re not pushy and high pressure like those other guys” FREE gift that they are just dying to give you.

Sailboat ride.

For the whole family.

At sunset.

With a baby whale.

And dolphins.

And food. Free food.

We did that super secret, silent discussion that evolves sometime after the first decade of marriage. The eyebrow raise. Half shrug. Wink… no wait, he’s got something in his eye. Ah yes, the slight nod.

Okay, we’re in. But we are absolutely NOT going to buy anything. In fact, we felt better making that clear from the outset. “We don’t want to waste your time. We are absolutely not in any position to buy a timeshare right now, but yes, we’d like the free gift. Thank you for mentioning this trip to see the whales in front of our children, by the way. Okay, fine, sign us up.”

But just to be polite. And thrifty. Because free stuff is even better than baby whales. But we are absolutely NOT going to buy anything.

Setting the mood

And this is how we find ourselves setting the alarm insanely early ON OUR VACATION for a 90-minute sales pitch. Blech.

Now, to be honest, the only other time we did this, we ended up buying in. Perhaps we were just excited to finally have the salary level to make it into the “free stuff so we can woo you” club. And it’s been better than we expected. We’ve gotten our money’s worth and then some. We are timeshare believers.

In fact, without timeshare, we would never have been able to take this super-cheap vacation to Hawaii. The timeshare week was free (a limited time bonus, because we were a pretty hard sell). The airmiles paid for car rental and a few extra nights in the hotel. Cheap airfare came in the form of red eye flights with absurd layovers – 3 different flights to find our way home.

But we are absolutely NOT going to buy anything, this time.

So, here we wait with our cups of free cocoa. Neither of us drink coffee, which is a shame because the snazzy machine makes everything under the sun. The doughnuts aren’t half bad. Fresh fruit plate – breakfast of champions. There’s a popcorn machine in the corner. It’s like sample day at Costco. Be still my frugal little heart!

I shamelessly eavesdrop on the tables near us. What do you know, all the salespeople are just hitting it off with their new customers. They draw out the small talk and act disappointed by the need to broach the subject of the day.

“Cause, gee, I’m just having such a fabulous time yakking with you about your 14 grandchildren and your cat’s bursitis, but my slave driving boss insists that I go through this material with you. Did I mention that I have a cat too? Now that we’re such good buddies, I’m sure you won’t mind helping me out with it.”

Ya, I’m onto them. This is the “building rapport” part of the spiel. But they don’t fool me. No. I’m cool. I’m detatched. I’m a rock, I’m an iiiiiis-land… And I’ve got plenty of friends already. Bring it on.

That worked for about 2 1/2 minutes. When he asked about my kids, I chatted. I appreciated that he laughed at my jokes. I pulled out a picture. I’ll be honest, I gushed. What! Can I help it if my children are incredibly interesting and engaging?

It was like a really weird date, with me, my husband and some strange guy who was determined to befriend us.

The spiel

He shook his head. Acted very concerned about the timeshare situation we were already in. He didn’t want to alarm us. It wasn’t his place to trash talk the competition. Obviously, we are very giving and trusting people, without the keen business insight that is needed to navigate the treacherous timeshare game. Good thing we now have our brand new friend to help us.

As he proceeded to tell us about the company, there just HAPPENED to be pictures of his family there. And his dogs.

Now, I’m not much of an animal person, but I’ll tell you, those sad canine eyes were accusing me. Of wasting his time. Of denying him the commission he so desperately needs. You know, to feed his sad dogs. And his family. How could I do this to my new FRIEND? Why the heck are his dogs so pathetically depressed anyway?

The pressure

This is the part where you hear ALL about the amazing life that you will lead if you buy in (no prices shared of course, no matter how many times we asked). Apparently, the world is my oyster if I sign up. My children will have the wedding of their dreams. Paris will become my home away from home. And I will OWN a piece of paradise. My children will rise up and call me blessed. My children’s children will be brilliant and well-travelled because of our investment in their future.

Strongly implied is the fact that non-timeshare holders (or those like us who are with another company and are destined to be cheated, extorted and ultimately disappointed) will lead lives of sad desperation. There will never be time or money for a real holiday. The best we can hope for is quiet days spent huddled in a dank basement, braiding armpit hair into a scarf.

The deal

Eventually even the slickest salesman must put a price on it. Also the various comparisons and mental gymnastics we are put through to convince us that $50,000 is a ridiculous steal! Oh, and the $2000 yearly fee. If that is not exciting enough, they are generously offering to finance our investment at only 17%!

Now, I’m not much of a math girl, but my husband tells me that 17% of $50,000 will be $8,500 in interest that first year. With that much money, I’m pretty sure I could HIRE someone to braid me an armpit hair scarf.

Until they invent teleportation (after 3 red eye flights with a head cold I am deeply invested in this possibility) and food pellets for children (like for a fish: a week’s nutrition in one cheap, easy to serve patty), accomodation is only one small piece of the holiday puzzle. If we spend all our money on this timeshare, taking on additional debt (and, as a result, jobs and possibly bankruptcy), I’m not sure our vacation prospects will look up, no matter what our new friend and his shiny brochure promise.

In the end, I had to walk out. After 2 hours, my kids needed me and we were done with it all. I came back to sign the refusal paper and talk to yet another sales person about an even better deal (tip: be a hard sell and they will offer you something better). We were almost there a few times, but as we said many times throughout the whole process we are absolutely NOT going to buy anything.

So here’s me, timeshare presentation survivor and as rich (read: solidly middle class) as ever! And YES, the baby whale was totally worth it!


Let’s Talk about Sex

Yes, it’s another post for married grown ups.

Since the last one, a few people have admitted that they were MUCH more likely to click on an article about sex than anything else. Let’s be honest, there are more than a few of you. You know who you are.

Is Sex a Big Deal?

Yes, it sure is.

That’s what she said!

Phew! I’m so glad that I got that out of the way. Now I can discuss the issue like the mature, serious adult that I pretend to be.

As many of you know, Glen and I worked for many years in the “marriage enrichment industry” helping put together conferences, websites, study materials and even a tv show at one point. With 3 little kids at home, my contribution mostly consisted of the occasional opinion and a willing subject for Glen to try out whatever advanced marital skill his latest article was about. Definitely a job with perks! The old joke was, he must be a marriage expert at this point, because, “after all, he wrote the book.”

I remember one session for wives that I attended. I was distracted by the details, making sure there was enough water, ensuring the power point was visible to everyone, dealing with that bothersome hangnail… but I perked up when it came to the sex talk. Ya, I know, I’m kind of like you people who clicked on this just because you saw the word “sex”. You understand.

Perhaps I missed some crucial prelude to this portion of the talk. Perhaps I misunderstood. I kind of hope so, because it was just so discouraging for me to hear.

The speaker (who is a lovely, amazing woman I admire) offered everyone a multiple choice question:

Your spouse has made some indication that he is interested in sex.

(At this stage in our life this often consists of: “so, you ready to head to bed?”, eyebrow waggle, aaaaaand leans in for a kiss. Try not to be jealous; for parents whose kids stay up almost as late as we do, these are some wicked moves.)

Anyway, the stage is set. Now, as a wife, you do which of the following:

a. pretend not to notice (you are tired and want to be left alone).

b. complain that you have a headache (or cramps, or toxic internal multi-system fatigue syndrome).

c. grudgingly give in (might as well get it over with).

d. put your husband’s needs before your own and cheerfully give him the gift of yourself.

That was it. Those were the choices.

Do you see the problem here?

I hope I’m not the only one. The best option (apparently) was d. And I didn’t get the impression she meant “give yourself” in a sense that included chocolate sauce or wearing only a ribbon to bed; more of a grin-and-bear-it dynamic.

What about:

e. enjoy some special grown-up time for all you’re worth.

Because I have needs too!

Is that weird? Am I some kind of freak because I enjoy sex? I sure felt like it at the time.

This caricature of the horny, insensitive husband and the prudish, longsuffering wife is really big in religious circles. It’s pretty common in sitcoms and stand-up comedy too. And I’m sick of it.

Must we accept this stereotype that men want sex anytime, anywhere and with any old person and nice women just really aren’t that into it?

Of course there will be times I put my husband’s needs first. As I expect him to do for me, in the bedroom (but that’s a whole different kind of post). Yet, even the occaional quickie does not seem like a one-sided thing to me. And I would hate to see the day that sex becomes a chore to either of us (whether it is cheerfully delivered or not).

Here’s something that may blow your mind: sometimes it is the woman who wants sex when the husband doesn’t – a problem made significantly worse by this stupid stereotype.

I understand that there are a whole range of problems which can affect this dynamic: sexual abuse, hormone levels, past trauma, porn addiction, unhealthy baggage, compatibility issues, etc. I am not naive. Sex can be a place of great conflict and frustration in marriage.

But it isn’t hopeless. We live in a day and age with a great amount of information and help for those who are willing to look. I firmly believe that a sex life characterized by MUTUAL PLEASURE is worth the effort, even if it doesn’t emerge overnight. This is the ideal we should expect: physical intimacy that is about giving, but also enjoying.

God designed us to enjoy each other, and not just in a platonic way. Sex is what sets marriage apart from every other friendship, and it should be amazing! Study after study shows that married people have more sex and are more sexually satisfied.

So here’s me, picking option “e”, every time!


Friday Favourites 9: Couples Edition

This post is for grown ups, the married kind…

Last Christmas I was having trouble figuring out gifts for my husband. Like me, Glen is a book lover AND a big fan of sex, so when I found an ornate copy of the Kama Sutra in a dusty old bookstore I scooped it up. It brought us hours of fun, but not in the way you’re thinking.

We giggled our way through some very weird and often disturbing ancient sex advice. For instance, men are advised to keep a rag by the bed so that they can mop the sweat from their pits during love making. A sensitive lover also must do their best not to spit on the floor during the act, but instead should provide their own spittoon.

Now you know.

As a follow up to the big V-day, here are a few of my favourite “couple-y” things.

Quote

To hear many religious people talk, one would think God created the torso, head, legs and arms, but the devil slapped on the genitals. ~Don Schrader

Runner Up: Sex on television can’t hurt you, unless you fall off. -Author Unknown

iPhone/iPad App

Although the book was a bust, the app worked out a lot better. The iKamaSutra is $0.99 of inspiring ideas, even those that inspire the question “what the…?” and “why?” It is password protected, so you don’t have to worry about the kids trying to play your new “game”. The illustrations and explanations are tasteful – instructive and not at all like creepy porn.

Website

I often feel caught between one culture that sees sex as a cheap thrill and another culture that sees it as a dirty, forbidden subject. It’s neither. ErynFaye.com is a great place to poke around for thoughtful advice and ideas.

Book

Once upon a time, we worked for FamilyLife developing marriage conferences and study materials. So we have read A LOT of marriage books, from the lame to the utterly bizarre (such as the one which suggests sitting naked, hands together and saying “the god in me salutes the god in you”). Of all of these, Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas remains a favourite.

It is not another exhaustive list of things “to do”, but an exploration of all the things marriage can and should teach us. Although it grapples with some profound and difficult subjects, it is surprisingly easy to read.

Movie

Okay, I’ll admit, as I was picking a movie off of Shaw VOD last night my finger hovered over Twilight: Breaking Dawn (which, yes, I’ve already seen), but I am so glad that I kept scrolling down and decided to try In Time. I was skeptical – that boy band kid and the chick from Veronica Mars… but dystopian sci-fi with romance to boot, sounds like my kind of thing. Turns out, it was.

Bonnie and Clyde with a Robin Hood flair in a world where time (as in, time to remain alive) is a currency. It puts that whole being the 1% thing in chilling perspective. Also, it kind of makes me want to rob a bank on our next date night.

Marriage Advice

Date night. Do it.

Marriage isn’t always easy, but you can get through almost anything if you’re still friends.

So here’s me, cuddling up on the couch with my friend to watch Modern Family re-runs. Yes, at this stage in life that totally counts as a date. PJs optional.


Love: a Modern Day Remix

It’s one of the greatest love poems in the world. We read it at our wedding. I’ve heard it at a dozen more weddings since. It’s a classic.

It fits well with Valentine’s Day, full of starry eyed wonder and Sappily-Ever-After… But the real life version is more gritty and down to earth than anything printed on frilly wedding programs. It’s more diapers and disagreements than mushy romance. At least in our house…

Love

is changing the 8,647th pull up and repeating one more time that big girls pee on the potty

is laughing at the same joke like it’s the first time, and not the 31st time he’s heard it

…is patient.

Love

is getting out of bed early to scrape the windshield and warm up the car

climbing into bed with your little sister and playing “snoring duck” when she’s having a rough night

…is kind.

Love

says, “Enjoy a weekend away with your friends. You deserve it. I can go to the game another time.”

bakes cookies for her little sister’s sleepover, then stays out of her way for the evening

…does not envy.

Love

harnesses years of “real” writing experience to play editor and cheerleader for his wife’s blog

says nothing about 3 years of perfect spelling tests, but celebrates her sister’s good grade

…does not boast.

Love

makes the first move to apologize and try to understand where he went wrong, even when it probably had more to do with the time of month than anything else

wears a wig and tiara to play the evil princess at his daughter’s birthday party

…is not proud.

Love

listens when she is frustrated with her crazy family, but knows better than to agree too emphatically or say ANYTHING bad about the in-laws

…does not dishonour others.

Love

plays the same silly game with her sister over and over and over and over again, just to make her laugh

makes all the hard calls because his wife has an irrational aversion to talking on the telephone

…is not self seeking.

Love

shrugs her shoulders and sighs, “Oh well” when the baby gets into her stuff, yet again

…is not easily angered.

Love

says, “Honey, I’m just glad that you’re okay. That’s all that really matters.” when she dents the van, AGAIN

also when she gets ANOTHER parking ticket

and when she screws up the budget by charging something to the wrong account, for the THIRD time that month

…keeps no record of wrongs.

Love

says, “Be happy! Mmm-happy!” and encourages hugs and kisses all around when her big sisters are fighting

…does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.

Love

tells their friends, “She’s so smart and doing really well. She has Down Syndrome and that’s hard work.”

checks the locks at least twice before bed each night, just to be sure

puts his wife to bed and takes over when the flu starts winning the fight

…always protects.

Love

hands over the reigns when it’s time to buy school supplies, clothes, Christmas presents, groceries and pretty much anything the family needs, even though his instincts are telling him to hide every penny away for a rainy day

(a rainy day may or may not be code for “a really cool concert”)

…always trusts.

Love

buys a single rose for each of his daughters on Valentine’s Day

takes each of them out for breakfast on their birthday

and treats them with love and respect every day in between, so that one day they will expect the man in their life to do the same

…always hopes.

Love

is 20 years of the good times, the bad fights and the ugly cry… and still going strong

…always perseveres.

Love never fails.

I see it in the four faces that surround me every day. We are not perfect, not even close.

But when we choose to love each other, it’s always seems to work out.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my favourite people!


When I was 16…

Twenty years ago, the boy I had a huge crush on took me on my very first date. Turns out, it was my only ‘first date’. Because sometimes one is all you need.

When I was 16…

you took me on a walk at Glenmore resevoir. You told me you had a question for me, but you kept changing the subject and clearing your throat. We talked about exams and schoolwork. We talked about our friends. We talked about the gifts we had gotten at Christmas. We talked about the weather, for Pete’s sake. I wondered if you were ever going to get to the point. Finally, as we turned towards home you blurted out “doyouwantogooutwithme?”

Of course I said “YES!” and then tried desperately to act cool about the whole thing.

When I was 18, you took me on a walk at Glenmore resevoir after dinner. You put your suit jacket over my shoulders to keep me warm. You were fidgety and nervous. I wondered what was wrong with you. You got down on one knee, right in the snow, and blurted out “willyoumarryme?”.

I think there was some stuff about how much you loved me et cetera… but I was crying and laughing and entirely giving up any pretense of coolness, so I don’t really remember.

When I was 16…

you reached over and took my hand for the first time. It was a bit awkward. We hadn’t figured out how to fit our fingers together just right, but you didn’t let go all the way back home.

When I was 23, you held my hand while we waited for the results of the pregnancy test. You held my hand in the hospital waiting room. You held my hand when the doctors told us our baby had died, and during labour and delivery. You held my hand when they took him away. You didn’t let go, not then and not through the sad, sad months to come.

You held my hand through 4 more children. Two girls, another stillborn baby boy, and our youngest who came one month early with a little extra in the DNA department.

Our hands fit together perfectly now; we don’t even have to think about it.

When I was 16…

we played Monopoly and you tried to slip me money so that I would win. You crushed me. I was embarrassed because I wanted you to think I was smart and capable, and because I really, really like to win.

When I was 30, we started family games night. Candyland, then Trouble and Sorry, eventually chess, Scrabble and Monopoly. You help the girls here and there, you give them tips, but we don’t let them win every game. It’s more fun that way, a real challenge. Because we all really, really like to win.

When I was 16…

we went to A&W for dinner, then to see Beauty and the Beast in the theatre. I was skeptical that anything could compete with Little Mermaid. We shared popcorn, and halfway through the movie you put your arm around me in one quick, smooth motion, and then let out a sigh of relief.

You were so cute! I couldn’t believe how fun this dating thing was turning out to be.

When I was 36, you took me to A&W for dinner, then to the movies for our 20 year “anniversary”. Beauty and the Beast 3D was playing and that seemed romantic, but we decided to see Sherlock Holmes instead. We’ve seen enough kids movies to last 3 lifetimes. I ate all the popcorn and you drank a huge pop. You had to go to the bathroom 3 times and I teased you mercilessly about it.

We still laugh and act like teenagers when we are on a date. I have more fun with you than anyone else.

When I was 16…

you walked me to the LRT station. I leaned in to hug you and you stole your first kiss. I was shocked. Church girls like me didn’t expect that on a first date. But you were worldly and wild like that.

When I was 22, you decided you wanted to serve God with your life. Your family thought we were crazy. Mine thought we were saints. They were both wrong. I knew our life wouldn’t be normal or easy; it wasn’t what I expected. But you were brave and devoted like that.

Now we live in the real world, and that ministry life is a memory. We’ve learned a lot since then. And the kissing has just gotten better and better.

When I was 16…

we had our first fight. My friend Claire and I smoked a cigarette in the alley behind my house. The next week I drank half a pitcher of real margaritas at a restaurant and got a little tipsy. You were appalled when you found out. You wondered who I was. I called you a stuffed shirt.

When I was 19, we had our first married fight – day one of our honeymoon, at the breakfast table. I ordered Eggs Benedict and you had the pancakes platter. I snagged a piece of bacon and popped it in my mouth. You looked at me like I had kicked your puppy. Apparently, you do not share food. This has not changed.

But you’ve shared everything else with me for the past 20 years, so I’m not going to complain. You can have all the bacon.

I picked the best man in the world when I was 16. I let you think it was all your idea, but I knew what I wanted. And I really, really like to win.

So here’s me, SO incredibly grateful that I got to grow up with you by my side.


The Silly Factor

We’re a family that likes to play games: Uno, Blokus, Sorry, Trouble, Charades… We try to make time at least once a week to play together. Another family tradition we have on these nights are the musical stylings of none other than… myself.

I’ve paid my dues, time after time.

So, I’m not exactly musical, at all. In fact, I’m rather tone deaf, but I more than compensate for this with sheer enthusiasm.

I’ve served my sentence, but committed no crime.

No, Mom, not again! Why must she keep doing this?”

And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few.

Cue the groaning and eye rolling. The occasional pillow is thrown my way, but don’t fear, I am spry. I don’t want to die with this music in me!

I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face, but I’ve come through!

This is where it gets loud!

Na-na-na-naaaaah-na

Naaaaaah-na

Naaaaaah-na

I AM THE CHAMPION MY FRIENDS

AND I’LL KEEP ON FIGHTING TO THE END!

I AM THE CHAMPION!

I AM THE CHAMPION!

NO TIME FOR LOSERS, CAUSE I AM THE CHAMPION…. OF THE WORLD!

In addition to illustrating what an incredibly gracious winner I am, this little conert is an example of one of our family’s greatest strengths. We are silly.

When the girls were little Glen use to tickle them while singing “May the bird of paradise fly up your nose, may an elephant caresse you with his toes…” I’m pretty sure HIS Dad used to sing it to him. My Dad preferred to make up his own words and was more likely to bellow bizarre phrases than sing. The words “Total Alabama!” were a frequent exclamation. I have no idea what it means, but it still makes me smile.

I don’t know what it is about kids that awaken the inner goofball. Both my husband and my father are fairly quiet and reserved people in most situations, but they can behave like complete nutbars with their children. It’s fun to laugh at and with each other, but it’s so much more than that.

Our absurd rituals and goofy traditions build intimacy. We create a weird and crazy world that is uniquely ours. Yes, we discipline, we fight, we build routines to make life run smoother… we love each other in hundreds of practical ways. But there’s something precious about the fun times when we truly LIKE each other too.

So here’s me, singing on and on and on and on.


The Flaw

I’ve kept quiet for many years about this. Okay, not exactly, but mostly I suffer in silence. Since I started this blog I have taken the opportunity to sing my husband’s praises through it. And he really is the best guy around – a wonderful father and human being. But sometimes he really bugs me.

It’s not a marriage thing; anyone you spend a lot of time with will find it. That thing, that seemingly insignificant, small thing that irritates you like nothing else. Other people may barely even notice, but this thing will drive you batty. Perhaps I am more neurotic than most, but I have quite a few pet peeves.

Thankfully, Glen does in fact understand the correct way to load toilet paper: from the TOP people! He understands the need to put the toilet seat DOWN (which makes my first thing in the morning dash to the bathroom much more pleasant). I am forever grateful to my mother-in-law for raising a son who puts his dirty dishes in the kitchen, dirty socks in the hamper and dirty self into the shower.

However… he does have one dark flaw, and it is something I “have a thing about”. Each week I collect, sort, wash, dry AND fold the laundry. I’m somewhat anal about it. Growing up, wash day was Monday, and I cannot feel quite right with the world if we have dirty clothes kicking around on Tuesday, or heaven forbid – Wednesday. The rest of my life may be descending into madness – dishes to the ceiling, crunchy floors and grimy bathrooms, but we WILL have clean clothes on Tuesday.

After busting my butt to produce this minor housekeeping miracle, I expect the neatly folded piles of clean laundry, which have been conveniently delivered to each person’s room, to be PUT AWAY. Each of my children puts their own clothes away. It was one of the first chores they learned. Even the baby was doing her part (as soon as she was able to stand on her own – I’m not a monster). It could be because their mom is the laundry Nazi, but I like to think it’s because this incredibly simple task is the least they can do to assist me with my Very Important Work (aka: laundry).

We talked about it when we were first married and he agreed. Not a big deal… totally something he could do… he was happy to help, and yet it hardly ever happened. All week I would eye that basket of clothes on the floor while he rummaged through it for what he needed. Determined not to nag, I decided to just ignore it and see how long it took before he actually put his shirts IN the drawer. Five laundry baskets precariously stacked with a smattering of clean clothes in the bottom of each one and STILL he would rather hunt through the stacks than empty the things.

I like to think of myself as a reasonable, peace-loving human being, but this could very well have pushed me over the edge. He really wasn’t trying to be a jerk or disrespect me in any way. He just doesn’t see it. In fact, he floated the idea of doing away with drawers entirely, just living out of the baskets.

Eventually I realized that this little, but extremely crucial issue could cause our relationship serious stress. Relationships can be destroyed by the silliest things. Friends, siblings, co-workers, room-mates… pretty much anyone who is up in your face long enough for you to want to punch them in theirs. Of course, in the end it’s not about how to fold the towels or who is a better driver, but it can start there. The spark that starts the fire doesn’t need to be a big one. I watched a bitter divorce unfold with the major battle being who should clean out the garage.

I know wives all over the world have been putting clothes away for centuries without complaint, but somehow I got it in my head that I shouldn’t have to. And I don’t, I really don’t. But I decided that this would be my act of sacrificial love. It may not seem that romantic, but it is a marriage builder in our home.

For more than a decade I have been putting shirts, pants, socks and boxers away while repeating the mantra “an act of love, an act of love, an act of love.” To be honest, I don’t think he’s even noticed. Every once in a while that irritation sneaks up on me again, but it’s good for me. Glen says it all the time – love isn’t just a feeling, it is an act of the will. And in our house, that means drawers full of clean laundry.

So here’s me, grateful that he loves me by overlooking the garbage I leave in his car, clipping my toenails in front of the t.v. and even peanut butter breath.


The Swingers Club

Dear Swingers,

I read all about your club in the newspaper this morning.

http://www.theprovince.com/Raucous+club+parties+rock+Delta+neighbours/5276978/story.html

I’m sure you’ve gotten all sorts of feedback from horny, fascinated teenagers to shocked and horrified religious types. Once upon a time I would have fallen into both of those categories, but today my reaction went something like this:

Meh.

Honestly, I feel sorry for you. Clearly, you aren’t doing it right.

I’m not talking about the mechanics of orgasm, no doubt you have that down pat. I’m talking about intimacy, connection, sex that not only blows your mind, but touches your soul. Chasing after the next empty thrill seems like a pathetic alternative.

Perhaps it’s old fashioned to use the words “cheap and tawdry” but they fit. It’s cheap because it costs you nothing. It’s cheap because it is worth so little.

You can do better. You should expect more.

So here’s me, wishing you would raise the bar.


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