Musings on Love on the day of Love

When I was a younger woman, I had all sorts of notions about love. The funny thing about preconceived ideas is that life has a funny way of making mincemeat of all our lofty thoughts on such matters. Today is Valentine’s Day; a day that in modern time is about showing our love for that special person. Or a day which in our culture can sometimes be summed up simply, if you love someone you must spend money and if your gifts are proved to be lacking there may not be much more love in your future. Of course, the messages are even worse if one does not have that special person in their life. After all, who will send you a dozen of roses? Or treat you to a fancy dinner and shower you with oodles of gifts and curl your toes with hot steamy sex? Let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day is filled with heavy expectations and when they aren’t met, it’s a ride on the emotional roller coaster.

Having run off at 18 to get married and having remarried again at 24, I have to say that Valentine’s Day has never been that big of a deal for me since I have pretty much been partnered for most of my adult Valentine’s Days. The funny thing is one of my earliest dates with the current Man Unit of 17 years was on Valentine’s Day. I must say he did it up right with all the bells and whistles but the truth is even if he hadn’t, the odds are that he probably would still be my wing-man.

Over the years as we have seen our fortunes rise and fall, the importance of Valentine’s Day has lessened for me. Love is shown continuously in how we choose to live and how we treat our partners and ourselves. In the early years of my relationship with the Man Unit, I didn’t love myself enough so the Man Unit’s love was strong enough to sustain us for the love I didn’t know how to give myself. It’s why I had to focus on the exterior things that he was able to give me and why when those things didn’t meet my notions of what love should be, I was crushed.

In choosing to share my life with another, it’s interesting to watch how love changes over the years. Years ago, I needed that big bag from Vicky’s Secrets and a spa visit to feel loved. Now I need very little because knowing that I have a person who allows me the freedom to roam and find myself, always trusting that I will come back to home base is far more valuable than that pink bag ever was. Waking up each day to the smell of coffee massaging my nose from the first floor is the ultimate in love because the Man Unit hates mornings and gets up early to accommodate me. Love was shown when he walked away from the lure of six figures and an upward career trajectory to be here for me and my son in Maine. Love is the times, he put his needs last to put mine first and I learned love when I put my needs last to put his first. Love is a dance of constant give and take where each partner takes the lead as needed. Love is the times when you go broke together literally but can stay up until 4 am making love and still find the joy in life when really from the outside looking in; others might say that you should be crying.

This isn’t quite the post, I had in mind when I sat down, but that’s life, it never goes quite the way we plan. To love another fully and completely, I believe we must love ourselves fiercely and passionately. Loving oneself is to know yourself and to trust in the wisdom that you hold and not allow others to define you. So on this Valentine’s Day, no matter what your relationship status, show love to yourself first and foremost and if there is a special person/s in your love, be willing to dance the dance of love and don’t worry about the external factors. Flowers are lovely and trust me I love em, but they die and eating out tonight is overrated, most restaurants are packed and overpriced.

To love…that which keeps this journey vibrant.

A journey to new selves and a new partnership…

For the past several nights, I have gone to bed and each time was hit with the thought that the smoke has settled and things are going to be okay. The first night I figured I was simply tired but last night it really hit me…things are okay. If you are a new reader to my tales, then you probably never saw a post I wrote last year Heavy Lifting…Marriage Restructuring Project Underway. For the click adverse, it’s basically about how my marriage needed some work.

Well after a long and rather strange year, it’s finally safe to say, we have emerged on the other side of things. This afternoon the Spousal Unit and I talked about just how hard this past year has been and I was struck by how little time is spent telling couples before they marry that life will happen and if you aren’t prepared it can blow your marriage up. We all know about money woes, illness and of course how kids if they come will change your marriage. Yet very few people really talk about the fact that just because you marry at some stage of life, the fact is very few of us remain the same over the years. This growing up and growing older thing creates change individually and collectively.

Looking at our relationship, we weren’t the same people we were back in 1995 when we first go together, nor were we the same people we were in 1997 when my Pops married us and we made all those sweet promises. Nope, somewhere along the way we changed and for the longest time it was easy to chalk our changes up to life and the addition of that great girl of ours. Sure sleep deprivation didn’t help but no, the reality is we changed. Change is good in fact not changing is bad, real bad. After all at 40 whatever do you really want to be the same person you were at 22? Nope, though I admit I would love that body I used to have and the Spousal Unit admits he occasionally misses the hair he used to have.

This past year has been about finding ourselves and  accepting these new people and making a place within the existing framework to accommodate these new beings. As someone who never used babysitters until this past year, we had to accept that we needed actual alone time. Many parents will poo poo date night and trust me I did too, but there is a reason many don’t poo poo it. As we learned this past year, having time to sit and talk without interruptions and sometimes discuss things you don’t want to have your kids overhearing is a good thing. Sometimes when parenting it’s all too easy to get caught in a rut, in our case we spend so much time together thanks to the man having his office in our house and me working at home partially that we skipped the fact that sure we talked often and regularly but we still weren’t talking.

In the end, we took some risks and the truth is this new partnership is not the marriage we agreed to so many years ago. At times I miss that marriage but the truth is I had outgrown that marriage. We both had, it no longer fit who we had become. What we do have is far nicer, and is based on grown up truths that frankly our younger selves could not have dealt with because frankly we lacked the maturity to face anything other than the media manufactured version of marriage that much of society buys into which leads to half of marriages ending in divorce.

Marriage is hard work and complacency is all too often one of the greatest killers to any relationship. When we raise kids we accept that they are growing and changing almost on a daily basis and if we strive to be mindful in our parenting we accept that change no questions asked. Yet too many times we don’t apply that same level of mindfulness and acceptance to our intimate relationships and it’s a shame.

Marriage…no, it’s not that simple

I have thought long and hard about how personal I really want to be in this space considering that I am no longer anonymous. I am fortunate that for the most part the thoughts and opinions expressed in this space don’t bother my employer. That said, since I may not always be with this employer, I am starting to think more about what I actually share, especially after one of my closest friends shared with me that during a recent credit and background check for an apartment her now landlord pulled up her twitter account. Yikes!

Yet I am an open and honest person and so I figure if you know me offline eventually you will know who I am. That said, something I read earlier really bugged me, like really pissed me off especially as I am dealing with some pretty deep shit. The words of wisdom that set me off came from an unmarried woman, a good decade younger than me that shared that the key to staying married is simply to never get a divorce…ever! If only it were simple, but hey let’s check back in after you do a few years being married.

The truth is my marriage is struggling. It has been on struggle mode for quite a while now. The funny thing is the Spousal Unit and I love, adore and cherish each other and we are truly each other’s best friend. I trust the man with my life and can’t imagine that will ever change. Despite the fact we are struggling, we still spend most of our time with each other because we enjoy it. Even in the midst of our struggles we have taken to joking we should change our respective Facebook relationship statuses to “complicated” since it really is a complicated situation.

The first time I married at 18, I knew nothing and was woefully unprepared to be married as was my first husband. So it was no shock when our marriage erupted in flames, we were a toxic heady mix, and nothing could have saved that union. Even our now almost 20 year old son over the years has acknowledged that his Dad and I were probably not a good fit. Yet we had youthful dreams and hopes.

Second time around I wasn’t a kid and knew marriage was work and figured if we worked hard together that the marriage would always be strong. Funny thing about life to use my favorite quote from John Lennon “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. Turns out in the real world, a couple can be strong, in love but still have issues that make them incompatible.  There is no secret to staying married, and anyone who tells you otherwise is shitting you.  I say that with 14 years of marriage under my belt and being the offspring of a couple that did 31 years until death parted them.

I have no idea what our future holds, at this point we take it day by day, and take the good with the ugly. Yet we both had a great laugh when I shared the so-called keys to staying married that I stumbled across, if only it were that easy. Life is messy and when you combine lives it gets even messier.  Or shall we just say it’s complicated.