Marriage Joins Two People for Forever or Not!

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Bride and Groom

Weddings are generally happy times. Two smiling faces, love in the air, expectations and the anticipation that surrounds the festivities. I’m heading to Atlanta for my oldest son’s wedding (third time’s a charm; or at least we hope!). I’ll be seeing two of my daughters there as well. The photos will appear in my next blog.

Commitment and faithfulness are difficult to come by in these frenetic times. I’ve read that the most important part of any successful relationship is not only chemistry, but the ability for each partner to feel comfortable with the loved one. I remember “walking on eggs” most of the 30 years in my first marriage. It seems that every word I said or every action I took either irritated my partner or caused a negative reaction. I tried to be so many people to please him, but nothing worked.

I’m hoping my son has found the perfect combination of comfort and caring. Living in a relationship where everything receives criticism is agonizing. You’re afraid to speak. You tip toe through the motions of living. There is nothing you can do or say to change things. Even my laughter was mocked. What you really need and want is love and affection, but all you get is disdain and indifference.

Life is much too short to spend your days in suffering. To really feel alive you must be able to be yourself, for better or worse. Acceptance is a gift you give the one you love. Neither of you are perfect. You have to take the good with the bad. If you end up punishing your partner through silence or indifference, you end up on the receiving end of unhappiness. One person does not a marriage make. It takes two people to meet in the middle to form a partnership that becomes one in mind and purpose.

Growing together creates more love than you can ever imagine possible. It doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it only one person’s problem. Rigid stubborn hearts cannot form this kind of union.

From what I’ve seen of my son’s new relationship, they have what it takes. We were there at Thanksgiving of last year and were surprised to see how settled they appeared and how relaxed they were in each other’s presence.

A low self-esteem in either partner makes an unbalanced marriage. If one person is arrogant or self-absorbed, they want everything their way. When the “other” in a union is confident it is much easier for them to be patient and to avoid saying something cruel or cutting. If you can’t think about anyone else’s happiness but your own you should never get married in the first place.

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Me and my sweetheart chatting while resting. My daughter caught us unawares.

Above all, don’t marry for the wrong reasons. Join hands with someone you know you can trust. You know them so well that you feel safe sharing the private yearnings of your heart and mind. And they will not use your own words against you or belittle you in any way.

Learn how to forgive yourself for past mistakes. Each day is a new start. Move from weakness into strength. Invite God to be a partner in your marriage. Support the person you love and don’t allow your ego to get in the way.

Confide in your partner and share the burdens of grief and worry together. Allow nothing to come between you, not the children, not finances nor other people. After a time, a butterfly will perch on your shoulder and envelop you in happiness. After all, you’ve earned it!

In-laws, Outlaws, Cousins and Fam make Life a tad Richer and Fuller

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Scene from “Call the Midwife” PBS

The birth of a new baby always draws people together; the anticipation, the anxiety, the hope and excitement for the future are mirrored on each face.

Time inches forward. The waiting is stressful. We traveled from Fort Myers to Minnesota to welcome a new great grandson into the family.

Dick's granddaughter

Dick’s granddaughter

Yesterday I walked back and forth with the mother-to-be and her mother hoping to shake this stubborn little fruit from the tree. Overripe and bulging, Katie hoped that the bouncing and jostling in the crowd would encourage her son’s birth. And she was right. At 2:30 a.m. that morning, the contractions began. But the long labor and final delivery went on for another 24 hours.

This ordeal brings back many memories, not only of my first daughter’s birth after 24 hours of hard labor, but of five more who came into the world on their own terms. Their personalities were imprinted on their souls from the beginning. We saw glimmers of their uniqueness even before they were born and forever after. No two babies are ever the same. Each is a priceless jewel that opens like a bud in witness to a miracle.

Characters from "Call the Midwife"

Characters from “Call the Midwife”

“The PBS Show “Call the Midwife” will begin its Fifth Season next March through May 2016. Based on the best-selling memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth, “Call the Midwife” tells colorful stories of midwifery and families in London’s East End. Inspired by the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife follows the nurses, midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House, who visit the expectant mothers of Poplar, providing the poorest women with the best possible care.”

The show’s timeline is sometime after the Blitz in London and moves into the 1950s. Midwife is tender, revealing, and oftentimes traumatic as seemingly live births occur in the seamiest side of London’s East End. The characters warm your heart as you watch their personal struggles. The Midwives become the only strength and power many of these women and their families will ever know.

Nurses

Nurses

Wondering how my husband felt about watching this show, I turned to him and saw tears glistening in his eyes. “Isn’t that a beautiful sight?” I commented. New life really is beautiful and most parents will cherish the birthing moment forever even as the pain and anxiety fade.

We are heading out to Seattle, Washington, to see my oldest daughter and her children, and grandchildren. I haven’t been out there in a long time, and our reunion is past due. I’ll keep you posted with photos of the new baby and stories of our trip.

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Tina Turner Sang: “What’s Love Got to Do, Got to do with It?” Well, I’ll Tell You!

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“The Dance” 11×14 pastel, matted and ready to frame.

Some people are so thick skinned; you have to pound them over the head before they get the point. Others shrivel or weep at the drop of a hat. The saying “Their bark is worse than their bite” describes those who protect themselves with bravado because within they are a “soft touch.”

Tender hearted people often build barriers to protect their vulnerability. Over time, they may alienate the very people they love out of fear of being hurt. If they let others in, their real personality; their faults and failings may be exposed? They could be taken advantage of or manipulated into doing something they may not want to do? So the walls go up and intimacy along with its attendant joy is denied.

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“Broken Hearted” 11×14 pastel on Bristol; matted and ready for framing.

After experiencing the highs and lows of “love and romance,” I told one prospective mate that I didn’t play games and I disliked those who do. “If you don’t like something – just say so. What you see is what you get,” I said. “I pretty much tell it like it is.”

Of course, that works fine when both are in agreement. But if one person lays himself bare, and the other holds back then the rules of the game are broken. You end up in a relationship where you think you know the other person, but you don’t. Full disclosure is not only fair, it should be mandatory.

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“Americana” 16xz20 acrylic on canvas (ON SALE)

When you buy a home, full disclosure is the letter of the law. You want to know there are no major problems in the structure of the house or if the plumbing or roof leaks. When you agree to marry a spouse, you want to know if he or she has the ability to cope in a pinch or are they going to blow up every time the tension rises. Are they built to weather a crisis or are they going to leak and run whenever the going gets tough.

Too often important character traits are missed while the “games are played” or flaws are blown off in the heat of romance. It is difficult to find someone who is not only unselfish, but honest and straightforward. This applies to friends, too. Genuine friends are never jealous of another’s achievements. They can share in the limelight and enjoy the other’s success. They’re not afraid to stand beside you when the curtain falls or when triumphs turn into failure. They’ve got your back!

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A beautiful bride filled with hope and promise.

“To love and to cherish ‘til death do you part” is not just idle chatter. It is a commitment, a trust, a promise to be open and honest with each other. Love is action. It is in the “doing” or lack thereof that many relationships thrive or fail. Emotions are fickle. When they are lacking, act as if they are still there and the feelings will return.  Friendship can supply the foundation that holds lasting love together.

Spouses and lovers should be best friends. Love and passion can waiver through the years, but likability stands the test of time. A friend is someone you can count on always. They never let you down. They are not fickle in love or loyalty. If you want to have lasting love for a lifetime, be sure that the one you idolize and cherish is also a friend you’d be willing to go to bat for; better yet, someone you’d be willing to give your life for if that were required.

A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel on Bristol; matted and ready to frame.

“The Road Less Traveled” is Sometimes the only Way

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"Looking Outward" 3-D painting in an actual window frame

“Looking Outward” 3-D painting in an actual window frame

My life has taken such twists and turns, I scarcely recognize it. Events and circumstances have turned out differently than I expected. I made choices that changed the direction I was going, the people I interacted with, and caused a complete 1-80 transition from my familial and spiritual beginnings.

I once had visions of me herding a bunch of “grands” and living near my own children so that I could enjoy the fruits of motherhood. As it is, my six children and their children are scattered to the far winds. They rarely if never take vacations where I live. I manage a few trips, but because of their numbers it’s usually only once every three years or more that I see any one of them.

"Day Dreams" 11 x 14 oil on canvas

“Day Dreams” 11 x 14 oil on canvas

They inherited my aversion to telephones, so we don’t talk as often as we should. But thank goodness for Facebook and email or I’d never learn a thing about who they are and what they do.

One of my children hasn’t spoken to me since he left to live with his father at age 15. I expected that he’d get over it in time, but he hasn’t. He now has two children (one I only heard about from his sister). I saw the first one when she was only one years of age, and then again at three. Now she’s somewhere between eight and ten years of age, and she doesn’t even know me.

I’ve traveled long and far. My journey has been difficult and painful. The peace I’ve found along the way has been hard-won. The missing pieces in my life leave a large hole that only my children can fill.

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“Through her Eyes” sketch of live sitter

When I titled my blog “Artwork and Musings from my Dancing Heart,” I truly meant that because down deep inside, I’m an optimist. But in the normal course of living, for all of us, there is a wearing down, day after day, and it’s bound to have an effect.

In my first marriage, whenever I was “up” my husband was “down” looking sad and morose. When he could ignore me or bully me into a corner that’s when he’d feel the control he needed to breakout into a smile and dance around with pleasure. For some strange reason, my playfulness and laughter was his nemesis.

If I was happy that meant I had something over on him. Perhaps I’d spent too much money. Maybe I wasn’t burdened down with the cooking and the cleaning for our large family. If it was too easy for me, then I probably wasn’t doing my job. For whatever reason, we were never on the same plane of joy or the same wave length.

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“Moody Blues” mixed media on canvas

Today our pathways seldom cross. When they do it’s usually for a wedding or special occasion. Then he’s on his best behavior. He smiles and interacts with the children in a demonstrative way I never saw when we were together. His current wife and he seem to have “the perfect” relationship.

But when the festivities are over his facade dissolves into the sad and empty expression that I remember. It doesn’t reveal itself too often. The smiley face is the mask he wears to deal with the world. I hurt for him. I would love to see peace and contentment spread over his face as a permanent fixture not just when other people are present.

"Namesake" acrylic on canvas

“Namesake” acrylic on canvas

We all wear masks at times to hide the humanity we’re ashamed to show to those we don’t know. It’s important to have a close confidante you feel comfortable with so you can vent some of that anger and resentment. My release came from an art teacher and her weekly class. When I was involved completely in painting, I was in another sphere; free, alive and soaring. I forgot about my problems. My deep sadness slunk into the shadows, and the weight lifted from my shoulders.

Today I don’t regret that twisted rocky path I traveled on to get from there to here. Sure the sadness lingers, memory doesn’t wipe the slate clean. My journey has brought me to a place of confidence and well-being that was not possible in my former life. I took the path “less traveled, and that has made all the difference.”

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20

By Robert Frost

End the Power Struggle — Save your Fragile Marriage by Partnering

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Bride and Groom

Bride and Groom

I heard someone say on the news yesterday regarding the chaos in the Middle East: “It’s a constant battle – an unwinnable war.”

I chuckled to myself; that sounds like “the battle of the sexes.” Most of us go into marriage having only a vague notion of what our partner is really like or any idea about marriage. How do you live day in and day out with one person for the rest of your life? Of course, that’s the ideal. In the real world there are disputes, separations, divorces, and sometimes reconciliations.

Many marriages fail because of the constant struggle for control. Businesses fail for the same reasons. People forget that a business or marriage is a partnership between two people who should have the same goals and the same values. Many people jump in with both feet knowing none of these things about the other.

Exhausted after the bit day!

Exhausted after the big day!

Biblically speaking, Eve was created as a “help meet” for Adam to stand beside him and to help him weather the storms of life. Today we call it teamwork. Their relationship was not meant to be dictatorial or competitive. They were to be “as one,” sharing the same dreams and working together to make them come true.

Too often in marriage there is a tug-o-war. One partner sees the other as adversarial; on someone else’s team, their own team because of stubbornness, or anything but on their side. The divide widens with constant bickering and fighting as each tries to get their way. Instead of partners working on the success of their marriage or family, they become competitors in a war of wills.

"The family that plays together (and prays) stays together.

“The family that plays together (and prays) stays together.

In a power struggle for dominance, the stronger person may use strength, anger, withholding of money, love or moral support while the weaker more congenial partner tries to keep the peace. The silent one acquiesces rather than voicing an opinion. They remain quiet until there is a “last straw moment” when long held passion is released in a fury.

In a marriage, emotion clouds dialogue and decision making. In business we strive for objectivity. If marriage were viewed more as a business partnership, cooler heads would prevail. When we invest our love, our emotions into the partnership we may get hurt. If we give too much, we may lose control. Fear, fear, fear mixed with doubts, insecurities and what ifs?

Lack of maturity hurts many marriages. One person may grow and let go of childish behavior while the other may continue in a juvenile stage for many years to come. One partner may squirrel away money for a rainy day and the other may spend as soon as the dough comes in the door.

Setting up Housekeeping

Setting up Housekeeping

If it’s not too late for you and your partner, discuss what a partnership should be and what you would like from it. Measure your current relationship against that model. What can you both give and take to make that a reality.

It is through giving that we learn how to love. Competition over “who’s the boss” only drives two people further apart. Make a commitment to partner with each other. Raise the bar. Instead of “a constant battle, an unwinnable war,” make your marriage an ongoing struggle an attainable goal.

The nest is ready; waiting for the stork.

The nest is ready; waiting for the stork.