Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘marriage

Different Sense

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I suppose this is related to the concept of “opposites attracting,” but living with someone who perceives the world differently from you has a way of complicating otherwise straightforward coexistence. Several times in the last week, Cyndie’s and my dramatically different abilities to sense smells has been made vividly obvious.

She brought a horse blanket into the house to be mended the other day. When I stepped inside after a day of work, I immediately commented, “It smells like a barn in here!”

She didn’t notice it.

Friday night, she put a pork roast in the slow cooker before going to bed, to let it simmer while we slept. The longer it cooked, the more intense was the appetite-triggering aroma that filled our home. When my slumber was interrupted by a full bladder in the wee hours of the morning, getting back to sleep amid that incredible smell, was like trying to go to sleep while someone continuously knocks on your door.

I couldn’t do it. Cyndie barely sensed the aroma.

There are other differences –or opposites– that tend to have greater significance. The way we process grief, and the intensity with which we experience it, is a particularly hefty one of late. The horses aren’t even gone yet, but the mental anguish over rehoming them started way back when the idea of doing so was first brought up.

The torment over their departure is deeper than just coming to grips with them no longer being here, it delves into the original vision that brought us to this land in the first place.

The difference in the way Cyndie and I perceive this whole development, and the varying degrees of processing our personal grief over it, can make for a difficult… life together.

It would be great for me if I could just deal with all of this my way, but then I would miss out on life lessons that are the gift of living in relationship with another person.

Cyndie and I got to where we are today, together. We intend to get to where we are going next, the very same way.

We’ll discover it together, even though she doesn’t smell half the things I do.

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A Discovery

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Portrait of the author after hand-shoveling around the barn doors this morning.

We received a walloping amount of snow overnight (between 10-11 inches) and strong winds are creating epic drifts. It will be a monumental day of digging out. Luckily, I wrote most of today’s post yesterday afternoon. I’ll give a more complete report on the details of our winter storm recovery tomorrow…

Meanwhile:

After waking up too early yesterday, resorted to random searching Google while awaiting the return of sleepiness. I simply typed the word, “love,” and happened upon an article from 2014 about living happily ever after in a long-term relationship.

In lieu of the Wikipedia definition of love, I clicked on the headline, “The Secret to Love is Just Kindness.”

That title included two things that I value the most: love and kindness, together with the enticing word, ‘secret.’ How could I resist?

Eventually, I drifted back into a dream-filled sleep, but not until after I had gained great insight, and felt totally convicted, about moments of my behavior. After breakfast, I read the article to Cyndie. She had the same reaction as me.

We have been married for 37-years, and somewhere in the middle of that span of time, dedicated a few years to marriage-saving couples therapy. Basically, our sessions went like this: we entered the hour looking to have our therapist “fix” the other partner, and left each time having learned more about ourselves than we sometimes wanted to know.

The years since have been better than I ever dreamed possible between us. How could this ever be improved upon?

Now I know. Despite all the work I have done toward seeking optimal health, specifically, not taking on any of the several deplorable traits of my father, I am very clearly a product of my parents. (Luckily, I did inherit plenty of Dad’s finer qualities!) In the midst of any project I undertake, I will find myself doing the “air-whistle” my mother often “phoo-whewed.” I am also all too adept at seamlessly replicating Ralph’s ability to be a sourpuss.

Cyndie is sweet enough to tolerate the random –and I’m hoping, mostly subtle– air-whistling (song-breathing?) habit, but she never deserved the boorish behaviors she has endured in our marriage.

In my depressive years (multiple dubious skills of which I no doubt picked up from my father), I could totally relate to the line in John Prine’s song, “Angel from Montgomery:”

How the hell can a person go to work in the morning
And come home in the evening and have nothing to say.

I knew exactly how that is done. Ralph did that to my mother so many times it became normal and accepted. It was no wonder that I could recognize when he’d imbibed to inebriation. He was suddenly chatty as could be with Mom.

From the article in The Atlantic, I now understand how divisive it is when Cyndie’s bids for connection are met with my lack of engagement. The kind thing to do when someone seeks connection, is to turn toward them, not away. For some reason, I have an uncanny skill of treating the one person closest to me at home, with a cold shoulder, something I would hard-pressed do to a person in public.

“There’s a bright red cardinal out the window!” Cyndie might report.

If not silence, I might offer an uninterested, “Okay.”

She hadn’t asked a question, so did it require an answer?

The healthy thing to do for a relationship –one that I want to thrive for a lifetime, not just survive– is to meet all of her bids for connection with kind attention, even when I don’t necessarily feel like it.

Even if it is limited to telling her that I just don’t feel like being kind right now, that would be a connection.

Actively being kind to our partner’s bids for connection, especially the trivial (ultimately, not-so-trivial) ones, seems the healthy way to nurture a thriving life-long relationship.

That isn’t a mind-blowing insight, but it was an eye-opening self-discovery for me that resulted in a quest for greater love.

Onward, on my quest toward optimal health…

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Another Anniversary

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It’s our thirty-seventh this year. I’ve been writing and posting daily on this blog for over nine years, and every time September 19 comes along, the topic of the day has acknowledged Cyndie’s and my wedding anniversary, and Julian’s birthday.

I have an annual habit on September 18th of navigating the “Previous Somethings” drop down feature in the right margin to pick the month of September, and then clicking on the day “19” to read each of my prior interpretations of the occasion. It’s a little repetitive, but at least the number of years changes in each post.

I’m not sure what the primary focus of a wedding anniversary is supposed to be. One obvious choice is the ceremony and all that was related to the events of the day.

Another logical area for consideration is the milestone of years. 2018 marks the accomplishment of our 37th year. Is the anniversary a time to review all that our relationship has enjoyed or endured over that period of time?

On that note, which gets more attention? The best of times or the obstacles hurdled?

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How about examining ways the relationship has changed over the span of time? I’m pretty sure we know each other better now than we did in the early years. Although, we continue to surprise each other and discover new insights as a function of the changes continually occurring in ourselves year after year.

I suppose the most popular detail deserving attention is a revisiting and rekindling of the romance that drew us together in the first place. I fear there may be a few laws of physics that tend to overrule best intentions in that realm.

As noted, Cyndie and I have an additional blessing to enhance our celebration of September 19th. This year it involves one of those round numbers that garners extra significance because it ends in zero.

Happy 30th Birthday, Julian!!

At this point in the father-son relationship, I’m thoroughly enjoying how much more like a brother you seem to me. I never imagined I would enjoy my children as adults as much as I do.

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Counting our many blessings today!

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Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

Project Love

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There are some situations that provide me with enough incentive to complete a project in a fixed amount of time. It is apparent that I do better when given a firm deadline. The last couple of months have been a challenge for me to not write and share images of progress for a special carving I have done, because it was a secret.

The deadline has now passed and the secret is out. I carved a heart for George and Anneliese out of a chunk of the old ash tree we cut down last fall.

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Starting with a section where the trunk split into two branches, I trimmed the shape with a chain saw. The next shaping was done with an angle grinder.

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As I’m often prone to do, I wanted the end result to be a mix of unfinished and extremely polished surfaces. An added bonus was the incidental flat at the bottom, which allows the heart to appear to stand on the point seen from the front.

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One of the pleasures of this project was the number of opportunities when I was able to work out in the warm sunshine while refining the shape and honing the smoothness. I chose to apply a beeswax and orange oil wood polish and conditioner as a finish to bring out the grain.

Yesterday, we were finally able to present this literal heart-felt gift for the occasion of the wedding. What a joy!

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The culmination of a summer’s worth of creative design and loving contemplations.

A symbol of a love of many layers, great depth, multifaceted, both rough and polished, cracked, shaped, intricate, beautiful, balanced.

Simply, true love, in the symbol of the heart shape.

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Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

They Did!

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Under a few timely peeks of sunshine, in the presence of family and friends, George and Anneliese exchanged vows in the front yard of their home yesterday.

We were honored to be included in the blessed events of the day. It’s all about love, you know?

There was a lot of love saturating the celebration of the bride and groom’s love for each other.

Cyndie baked love into her contribution of umpteen varieties of cookies for the post-ceremony reception feast.

It’s a good thing she did, because the cookies themselves didn’t last. The love goes on forever.

There was plenty of love added to the universe yesterday near Princeton, MN.

Did you feel it?

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2018 at 8:45 am

Posted in Chronicle

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All About

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Cyndie. This Weekend, it’s all about Cyndie as we celebrate the milestone of her 60th birthday. With Jackie tending to animal chores at Wintervale, Cyndie and I are submersed in the loving energy –and I do mean energy– of the Friswold family. We are staying at her parent’s house in Edina, MN, but have twice in a row found our way to downtown Minneapolis.

Last night, it was dinner and music at the Dakota, where we ate like royalty and swooned over Shawn Colvin‘s very personal solo guitar song performance.

This morning, Cyndie is sleeping in. My brain is busy trying to process the onslaught of activity, memories, and emotions –not to mention distractions of mental and physical preparations for my biking and camping trip that starts on Friday– conspiring to confuse me over whether it’s all about Cyndie, or all about me right now.

I had the great pleasure of starting the day yesterday riding bikes with Cyndie’s brother, Ben. He rode over from about a mile away just as a rumble of thunder rolled over us.

We took pause inside to watch the radar long enough to see we would have a perfect window of opportunity after a very short wait. The tiny disturbance sliding south of us was just a precursor to the precipitation that would arrive in the middle of the day and hang around for the afternoon.

While the sky was watering the earth, more of the Friswold clan gathered for lunch at Jimmy’s restaurant near our old Eden Prairie stomping grounds.

After a little nap before heading out for the night, attention turned to a gift brother Barry presented to Cyndie. Her jaw dropped when she saw her younger face on the cover of a memory book of pictures he had spent many loving hours to produce.

Just as she finished a first pass through the overwhelming collection of memories the images trigger, we stood to witness Justify run for the triple crown. Then eleven of us headed out for dinner and the concert.

With noted local musician and song-a-day YouTuber, Zachary Scot Johnson opening the show for Shawn Colvin, we were treated to a range of guitar-accompanied stories, providing me with a second recent prompt to wonder whether I am still a guitar player, or not.

A variety of reasons have combined to allow months to pass without my spending time with fingers on frets. I am inclined to blame my yet-to-be surgically treated arthritic left thumb as the primary culprit for the hiatus, but deep down, I have a sense I may be giving that more credit than is due.

Somehow, while distracted with too many of my own concerns rarely focused on accomplishments, I have been granted the chance to flutter around the bright light that is Cyndie for 44-some years.

It makes for a tangled web that isn’t so much all about her or me in the end. It really has become all about us.

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Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2018 at 8:35 am

Years

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

April 8, 2018 at 9:37 am