On Saturday we went to say Au Revoir to a friend and work colleague of Other Half who will very soon be moving to New York to get married to his boyfriend. As a little bit of history, I have known this man since before Other Half and I married as we used to go and watch him act in amateur dramatic productions. At the time he lived with his then girlfriend and everything seemed very conventional. Obviously changes have since taken place, but the one thing that has never changed is just how lovely this man is. We are the lucky ones to count him as a friend. It comes as no surprise that the person he has chosen to marry and spend the rest of his life with is equally lovely, and as a family, we can’t wait to go and visit them in New York!
What did surprise me, was that at this party was someone else that Other Half has long since told me about, another friend and work colleague, who used to be male and is now female. Again, they are really happy with their new status and I think them fabulous with a wonderful sense of humour. That’s before I mention the figure hugging dress and shapely legs. I am not jealous honestly! They couldn’t belong to a nicer person, especially because she shared shopping tips with me (we both take size 9 shoes). She has an open invite for lunch or dinner and I hope she comes really soon.
When I went to the toilet, Other Half later shared with me that, Newly Female friend shared with him, that she thought I was lovely and was so pleased as she had been so worried about meeting me. Why? Most days , think when not screaming at the kids because we are going to be late for school, I am lovely. Why would someone be genuinely scared that I wouldn’t be, or wouldn’t like them and even worse, would judge them?
Because I’m a Christian! So is Newly Female Friend by the way, so we had fun comparing churches, but it seems that some who call themselves by that name have not been kind to our friend, offering ways by which she should change, rather than loving her as she is and being thoroughly grateful for her company. Thankfully that wasn’t me and I hope that I began that night to restore some trust again in Newly Female Friend.
Then I heard about the above article on the radio the next morning and my heart sank! Saying you would like the definition of marriage to be between men and women is one thing, after all, opinion is just that. This article takes it to a whole different level. All it made me think was that this man didn’t know anybody gay.
I’m not saying we know lots of gay people or have lots of gay friends, but people we do know include teachers, doctors, nurses, vicars, actors, singers and so on. They are also someone’s son or daughter and someone’s friend. If you have someone in your life that you like, love, or care about who happens to be gay, all you really want is for them to be happy and safe. Exactly what you would want for someone heterosexual. Happy and Safe.
It reminds me of what Martin Luther King said about having a dream that one day his children will be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. May the day soon come when we judge everyone, solely by the content of their character.
What a stupid question I hear you say. Of course I say please because I was brought up properly, to have good manners! Calm down, of course you were, as was I, but that is not the sort of please that I mean.
I have realised that I don’t say please. Or rather I don’t mean please. When Mum says she can’t make Little Lady’s birthday because her leg is hurting (she walked into town to buy some items even though she needs a hip replaced and has already had the other one done) I say fine and am fully prepared to do without her attendance even though 10 other family members will be here. Other Half’s response is to flatter, cajole, plead and tell me to get in the car and go to pick her up!
When someone isn’t on the same side as me in a decision to be made, I turn into a lawyer giving every reason under the sun as to why I am right and the decision has to go my way! At no point though do I ask, or plead, giving the true decision making over to the other person. No way! That would involve me becoming vulnerable and possibly receiving an answer that I didn’t want and wouldn’t like! Essentially that could lead to me being hurt.
I’d like to be able to say how not to do this. After all the blog is called How Do You Think It’s Done and is about making your journey easier. Maybe this post though is to ask whether you are doing the same thing? Are you avoiding heartfelt requests in order to protect yourself? In doing so though, do you realise what you are missing out on, the relationships, the events, the experiences? I’m beginning to, which is why next time around I will try to say PLEASE…? If I don’t get my way, at least I tried and as importantly, I felt. Walls stop you feeling. Feeling love, kindness, generosity and so many other emotions. Walls stop you being in receipt of them too. I don’t want that. What about you?
When was the list time you were someone’s cheerleader? That’s essentially what you are every time you say well done or thank you for something. Not the thank you for passing me the salad variety, but the thank you for making a difference in my life version.
A dear school friend of mine thanked me for something in a message. Not only did it make my day or even week, but it made me feel special and valued. She mentioned too, how someone had complemented her on how her children treat their children. I hope she felt as proud of her children and herself as I did when she praised me.
The gift of encouragement is free to give, but priceless to the one in receipt of it. Is there anyone that you could give such a gift to today?
My friend that I told you about in ‘If you want something, ask’ is off to the ball! Her Other Half duly considered everything she had said and once a friend of his decided that he was going to go to the meal too, all the stars became aligned and he told my friend to get a babysitter.
Mrs Busybody here couldn’t be more pleased!
If you don’t ask you won’t get!
Someone I know wants to go to an event with her Other Half. So far so good. Only they haven’t gotten along relationally for some time and seem like two singles living under the same roof, parenting their children. Call me cupid, but as the woman in the situation spoke of her Other Half, I suspected that the feelings were not nearly as over as she thought they were. Little stirrer that I am, in my own way I pointed this out.
Another time, another conversation and obviously much thought has gone on in my absence. Now there is an event that the woman would like to go to. This is where things would have remained. She wants to go, he has an invite, without further action he will be going alone, or not at all!
More intervention and brave woman that she is becoming, she tells her Other Half she would like to go. His response? He is not sure whether or not he is going yet…Cold! You tried, give up right? Wrong! That wasn’t a No! That was a, I’m hurt, we haven’t been getting along, and I am not taking you to my works do, so that you can look around the room and find Mr Next!
So now, we are working on letting Him know that there will be no Mr Next and that actually she would very much like to go to the event with Him and spend some quality time together, away from the children together.
No one is a mind reader. No matter what stage of a relationship you are in, if there is something you would like, you need to ask. If they say no, then ask why and start to negotiate. But, they just might say yes, even if it is eventually!
Had the longest conversation with a dear friend of mine yesterday. It turns out that all has been far from well in her marriage for a long time. She has since fallen in love with someone else, divorced her husband and plans to marry her new man! Nothing unusual in that you say. True. If I say that she still lives with the ex-husband and will do so until the children are grown and has not so much kissed the new man in her life, let alone slept with him, is it beginning to sound a little more unusual?
I don’t doubt that my friend and this new man have something special. He is supportive of her and her children, emotionally, spiritually, practically, in fact, to hear her tell it in every conceivable way! To which many of the girls reading this will be saying, I can get all that without sex? Where do I sign? But there lies the rub. The man isn’t gay and he is no virgin either. He is a full, red blooded male who will want and need sex from my friend, sooner rather than later and there is no way he will wait 5 years to get it until they are married. I fear that this will all end in tears!
My friend is a sweetie. Naïve, but lovely. I have told her, if you want to keep this man you will either have to marry him quickly or be sleeping with him until you can. I know this, having learnt the lesson myself a long time ago. My very wise and experienced mother, in probably the only sex education lesson she ever gave me said that if that was the sort of man that I wanted to be with, then that was the sort of girl I would need to become. I’m not proud of it, but at least I married him!
It’s the same inside marriage too. Take sex off the cards and you will have a problem. Good luck to my friend and her other half. They will need it.
At my significant birthday meal, my Uncle and Aunt gave my a present which included their filming of our wedding. They asked about the wedding video we had done on the day and whether we still watched it. Yes, was my reply, but not that often. Now the video and the pictures felt like the wedding, not the marriage I told them. They laughed.
Other Half knows about the above conversation, even though he was at the other end of the rather long table when it took place. He also knows that all is not well with another friend’s marriage, which I told him after a long and enlightening conversation with said friend. Other Half doesn’t know any details about the person or situation as my friend swore me to secrecy and I am abiding by that. It did lead us onto a very interesting conversation about our own marriage though, after one of those 24 hour I’m still not talking to you rows.
You see, we often joke, when we are friends obviously, about being with alternative others. In my case, Mr I earn a small fortune, do all the housework and look after the children whilst you watch TV all the time in a Slanket. Other Half’s perfect wife being, a rich Supermodel who is never out of perfume, short clothing, heels or makeup, is expert at Argentine Tango and thinks Other Half is divine in every conceivable way!
As Other Half pointed out though, as hard as it would be for him to lose me, access to the children on a daily basis, his home (I would need it for residency of the children until they were 18) and a decent income (having to pay maintenance and 2 mortgages) that wouldn’t be the worst of it. For Other Half it would be the shattering of his trust, his dream, his belief in all that we are creating together; past, present and future. Everything he works for goes to me to use in the best interests of our family. Yes, the money purchases items for the present and the future, but it is the trust that we will be there for each other in every situation, no matter how bad that situation may become, that is the true bank that Other Half is investing in.
That has been the case for Other Half’s parents, married many years, and he doesn’t know how to do it any differently. Growing up in a single parent family, differently is all I know. Realising what marriage, commitment, till we are parted by death etc. means to Other Half though, whilst we still love each other, might just make all the difference next time I think that I have the option to walk. The option is always there, I just know in advance the abject pain and misery I would be causing to those concerned, those I love the most, if I were to leave. I’m hoping that for me, when times get tough, that this knowledge will make me stay.
I read an article some time back, probably in the Guardian, but for the life of me can I find it now? Not amongst the stack of Saturday sections that I have yet to plough my way through, nor a quick, yet thorough search for said article online.
So why mention it now if all is done and dusted? For the simple reason that I seem to have been quoting it an awful lot to men and women of a certain age – think special birthday of mine coming up next week – who think the whole marriage and kids thing has passed them by.
“Wrong!” I quickly inform them, referring to this story that I read. So for any of you who may also be thinking that unwanted singledom is to be your lot, or the lot of a friend or family member of yours, read the following and take heart!
A woman who thought she would obviously be remaining single having gotten into her late 30s without a significant other, then meets someone and gets married at 40. Despite all the articles to the contrary, she gets pregnant soon afterwards (naturally) and has a child at 42, as I recall. Wanting a second child, this woman is able to have another child at 45. Job done! Thinking at 48 though, that she is going through an early menopause, lo and behold, you can imagine the joy to find that it is baby number 3 instead! Yes husband was about 10 years junior, but Mum’s age was Mum’s age, so do be inspired.
I love such stories because you just couldn’t make them up!
Yesterday evening I watched the film Love and Drugs with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal about a serial womaniser who falls in love for the first time! A catch enough in itself, except that the woman he falls for is also sick with the early onset of degenerative Parkinson’s disease.
Such a condition is would be a lot for any couple to get their head round, let alone a brand new couple, one of whom has never been committed in their life! Needless to say, when Jake’s character is given advice to run for the hills by a husband of a fellow Parkinson’s sufferer, he heeds the advice, probably thinking he had had a lucky escape.
Love is a funny thing though, as the last 10 minutes of the film point out. If love, in the form of someone, touches you, there is no going back. As the film is based on a true story, so it will ring true for most people in a relationship. No, having a debilitating illness as part of the equation is far from ideal and possibly at the extreme end of what most couples have to cope with. How often though have you wished he didn’t snore or that she was a little bit slimmer? That he would just listen more instead of jumping in with the answers or that she wasn’t always so tired when you were in the mood and so on?
I have already written of how I would like another child, whilst at the moment Other Half wants to stick at two. There is nothing to stop me having another child if I really want, right now, but it wouldn’t be his. Other Half could have a wife right now who was more than happy to stop at two children, she just wouldn’t be me!
And therein lies the crux. You don’t get perfect. You probably don’t even get ideal. You get who you want though and, for all their faults, be honest, you wouldn’t have it any other way!
Would you drive a car without learning first how to drive it? Or fix an appliance without first having googled what to do, or at least discussed the problem with someone who could help remedy it? What about expecting to pass an exam without having had a lesson, lecture, seminar, tutorial on it or done any research on the subject?
No, you say, of course not! And yet, another friend, another relationship, is not going well. One party keeps everything going on, bottled inside themselves, the other talks to all and sundry, but essentially only to vent enough steam to be able to continue the modus operandi. At the moment they have no money for counselling, no time to take a marriage course and have no knowledge of self-help books and films that would help them.
This couple have children. Walking away from the relationship would have caused enough damage to the couple and other people in their lives before they had children. Now they have children the damage would be untold! Any of us in a relationship, even the ones we want to be in for all the right reasons, will on a regular basis neither be, nor have a picnic! To continue the metaphor though, if you want decent meals then you had better learn to cook!
None of us can expect a decent relationship without learning first what a decent relationship looks like, finding out how to get one and then finding out how to keep it. We expect no less for the products in our lives, how much more important then, is it to work hard to fix and operate the relationships in our lives, i.e. the things that really count!