Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why I Said Yes

Why I Said Yes - Part One

A wise friend once said to me, after hearing me say I'd never get married again, "Oh yes you will. You don't know what a real marriage is. Once you meet someone who shows you that, you'll get remarried."

I'm smart enough to know that there are people wiser than I am, so I admitted that maybe she was right {without shedding my normal, skeptical attitude, of course, because that's how I roll}.

Let me explain why, at that point, I was saying "never again."

I thought, with my first marriage, that I'd done most things right. I was living what most would consider a good, moral lifestyle. I met that guy in an online Christian chat room. We didn't live anywhere near each other, but we talked on the phone constantly for a month and a half. I heard about his good days and bad days and how he reacted to each. He told me about his family, his job, his hobbies. It sure sounded like he had a lot of the things that were on my list of "the ideal guy." By the time I flew to meet him, I was sure I knew him well enough to say yes when he asked. Plus, I prayed about everything. Plus, we didn't have sex before we got married. Doesn't all of that qualify as "doing most things right?"

We married after only a few months, and even fewer of those were spent living in the same area. Though I was convinced I knew him, I really didn't. I didn't know that even though he liked to read, to him that meant standing at his computer every day when he got home. I didn't know that our definitions of being a Christian didn't mesh on certain important levels (I thought it was more important to just live it. He was often really-not-nice to people over the phone (which, when you're trying to offer remote tech support, happened a lot), then excuse his behavior with, "I'm sorry. I'm a Christian. I really shouldn't be acting that way. Please forgive me.")

Of course there were many things I wouldn't know until we'd been married a while. For instance, once we had kids his take on watching them was that I was the caretaker and, on his watch, he was the babysitter. It took a while to learn that his definition of a Biblical wife was a woman who agreed with him on everything or be branded "unsubmissive." Eventually I stopped sharing things with him because it was easier than him talking at me until early morning hours until I agreed with him.

In his defense, I will never say he was the only reason our marriage failed. I was half of that partnership. I could have done things differently. I could have insisted on more counseling. I could have tried to tell him more often that I was dying inside. But I guess that for all the times that I did say something and it fell of deaf ears, I eventually gave up - years into and years before the end of our marriage. Instead, I kept quiet and kept praying. That things would get better. That I would learn to respect him. That he'd come home in a good mood from work each evening so things would go smoothly until bedtime.

Eventually, fourteen or so years into our marriage, when I was done and finally told him so, we went to counseling again. After listening to us for just one session the counselor said to him, "You know, there isn't just one form of emotional abuse. There's the kind where people yell and scream at each other. But there's also the kind where people make others feel like they're non-existent, non-valued human beings. What you guys have is not a real marriage."

Another person, a friend and a pastor that my husband-at-the-time called to try to talk some sense into me, said, "Your husband is the most legalistic man I've ever spoken to. I don't know how your marriage is going to make it."

There are a lot of people who never agreed with my divorce. I lost friends because of it. Friends who accused me of "listening to Satan" and who said, "I thought you were stronger than that."

I don't think some people realize how strong you have to be to get divorced. Or how bad things must be. It isn't the easy way out.

People didn't understand that I just couldn't live like that any longer. Not being a person. Not being respected. Not being happy. Living with someone I felt was the complete opposite of who I think a person should be. Being in an emotionally unhealthy place {and having had been there for years}.

Those people also hadn't talked to some of the people I had, who stayed in their marriages because it was the Biblical thing to do, and were now in their 50s or 60s and still miserable. In fact, I have one older friend who has made the choice to remain unhappily married. When I visited with her a few years ago she talked about how miserable she was in her marriage. When she visited again about a year ago, she told me what a better place she was in than that previous time we'd seen each other. "So you're happy?" I paraphrased. Her reply was, "Oh, no. I wouldn't ever say I'm happy."

I'm sorry, but I don't think that's Biblical, either. Don't misunderstand me and think I'm saying that being unhappy is grounds for divorce, but I don't believe God is going to reward anyone based on a "you were this ___ miserable for this ___ long, so your reward is exponentially this ___" system.

Why I Said Yes - Part II

I should know by now never to say never. My list of "I-said-never-and-then-it-happened"s is quite long.

But that's such a great thing! Among the list of things I never would have experienced if my nevers had happened:
* I would never have had my two amazing boys that are crazy and funny and adventurous.
* I never would have made some of the great friends I have.
* I never would have traveled to India.

And if THOSE things had never happened, well, it's a chain-reaction, isn't it? If those things had not made me who I am and led me to where I was, the things that I'm doing and experiencing now might never have happened.

* I might still be in an unhappy marriage.
* I might still be bored out of my mind at home.
* I probably never would have ended up back in Colorado.
* I never would have met some of the great people I've met.
* I might never have traveled to Spain and Morocco. 

Most importantly, I never would have met the man who changed one of my most important "nevers": the one we're talking about - the one where I said I'd never marry again.

Well, I'm still not married, so I guess technically...

But that's just a formality at this point.

So what did he do to change my never?

Mostly, he showed me that not all relationships or people are the same.
*Until I met him, I thought married people fought all the time.
They don't.
*Until I met him, I thought losing respect for someone you spent a lot of time with was an unavoidable natural erosion.
It isn't.
*Until I met him, I thought all men wanted to take control of their women.
They don't. Some have a lot of respect for us. This one won't even let me clean the bathroom because I am the only woman in a house full of boys who are the ones who make the mess in the bathroom.
*Until I met him, I thought love scenes from romantic movies were all scripted and void of reality.
They aren't. They happen often. Sometimes in my kitchen.
*Until I met him, I thought everyone had flaws that you just learned to put up with.
Guess what? Some people actually don't have things about them that bother you.
*Until I met him, I thought people really really needed breaks from each other.
They don't. We don't. I look forward to every single evening and weekend with him.

But I've also learned it's extremely important to spend a lot of authentic time with a significant other so you can really learn who they are.
So secondly, he showed me that he is the type of person I value.
*He is kind and compassionate and understanding.
*He is competent in so many areas.
*He is funny.
*He is solid.
*He communicates extremely well.
*He is just the right mix of emotional and cerebral.
*He treats everyone with respect.
*He is smart.
*He's pretty much every good quality and none of the bad ones.

I know that sounds like a fairy tale. I know that sounds like I'm "in love" and am still in that "honeymoon phase" where my lover can do no wrong. But I can tell you that isn't correct. Because this time I've done everything "wrong" {according to some ways of thinking} in order to make sure this is right. I've been living with this man for over a year now, because I really don't subscribe to that way of thinking anymore. I'd rather be true to who I am. I'd rather be sure. And I'm telling you, there's nothing I'd change about this man, nothing I'd delete. His background has made him who he is, and I love what he brings to my life.

I have one final story. It's not really one I like to think about, but to me it was a turning point, and therefore important. A few years ago I took a summer climbing trip with a then-friend. It was the morning of July 4th, so there was no one on the roads. We were heading somewhere new to climb. Driving through Boulder, there was a young woman in her car, turning left, slightly in our lane. Rather than moving over to the right lane and just going around her {remember how I said there was no one on the roads that morning?} this man stopped his truck, rolled down his window, and started screaming and swearing at her, as well as honking his horn intermittently. I was incredibly embarrassed to be in his vehicle. We had no idea why she was where she was. True, she shouldn't have been in our lane. But had her car stopped unexpectedly? Had she thought she could make it before we got there, then realized she couldn't, and stopped without realizing she was in our lane? Was she transporting a sick animal or fragile plants and taking things too slowly? I have no idea. But I was horrified that someone would treat someone else that way. That woman was a soul, a spirit, a fellow human being.

It made such an impression because all I could think after that was that I needed to be with someone who, in that kind of situation, would have gotten out of our vehicle to see if she needed help.

This man I've met and fallen in love with is that type of person.

In a conversation with a friend a couple weeks ago, I told her about how my man respects me, cherishes me, treats me and others well. How I would follow him to the ends of the earth because he is the kind of man I can trust that far. How even though he doesn't go around proclaiming his beliefs, he lives them. "And that," she said, "makes this union more holy than your first one."


And that is why, when he asked, I said yes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Just Go

Sometimes, when people are important, you must go be with them.

It is not the first time I've made that decision, nor will it be the last. Because it is always so worth it. 

Yes, sometimes the cost of an airplane ticket is a factor. Yes, sometimes there are scheduling conflicts. But those are hurdles that can be overcome, because "sometimes" is the key word here.

What can't be overcome is the regret of not going. 

I decided to fly to Texas two weekends ago, to hang out with one of my closest friends. It was a quick, two-day trip, but we hadn't seen each other in a couple years, so it was time.

Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures together, but that's OK. We have some from last time we were together. 

And yesterday I got home from another whirlwind weekend - this time in Minnesota. My favorite aunt turned 80 on Friday, and while we didn't make it in time to see her that day (our plane got in at 9:00pm that evening), we drove the last two hours on Saturday morning and got to hang out with her and my cousins for 25 hours (minus sleeping time).

We drove up the north shore of Lake Superior for the day, ate lunch together, walked around an old lighthouse, talked about how much we all love Minnesota lakes, and had wine in the evening. The next morning we took a very short walk (short, because Minnesota in November is no joke), and had bacon and eggs for breakfast before setting out for the airport again. 

I adore this side of my family.

I AM planning to stay home next weekend... :-)