Boy, am I sure glad Jim and I went through marriage counseling BEFORE we were stuck living together 24 hours a day! We’ve definitely put it to good use these few weeks!
I’ve always thought that marriages–just by their nature–have highs and lows. Rocky times and smooth times. For a long time, we’ve enjoyed the smooth. Things seemed to be going pretty ok. I wasn’t foolish enough to think that it would always stay that way, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.
Christmas Eve we had quite a LONG discussion/fight. I asked if he thought we should do marriage counseling. He said maybe. Fast forward a month and man, I KNOW we NEED to do it. He may have said his piece, but having thought and prayed a LOT over the past weeks, there seems to be a lot going on in my brain and heart that I would like to not only share with him, but share in front of an educated ear who can hear and help heal. And I’m coming up against some resistance to counseling, which is confusing to me.
We’ve been married 23 years. There’s been some very tough ones in that number–we’ve been to marriage counseling a few times–and some very sweet ones as well.
If you are a praying sort, please pray that we would make our way to a good marriage counselor (our old one is long retired).
A respected blogger in the field of female porn addiction, Beggar’s Daughter, had an interesting thing to say today:
“…It has opened up healing conversation after healing conversation. After the most recent, I realized that the fear I had of what the future might look like is a fear any female struggler is going to share. It’s not unique to me simply because I’m an author and speaker; it’s shared by all of us.
No one has been there. The leading female voices on female porn addiction are all still single. There aren’t resources for marriages where the wife is the addict/former addict. There aren’t counselors trained to handle this specific scenario.”
Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m not a “leading voice”, but I sure am an authority on it, being that I live it day in and day out.
A little background: Jim and I were friends for years before we dated. All that time the addiction was either brewing or being active. I hid it really, really well. When we dated, it certainly affected my life and our dating relationship, but I was utterly clueless about it. It wasn’t until after we broke our engagement that I figured things out and got counseling. Jim and I stayed broken up for a good 9 months and I was free to concentrate on my recovery unhindered. HUGELY important.
When the conversations about getting back together started happening, I was so scared. I had been so messed up. Although he had absolutely played a part in our breakup, I feel like a lot of it was my fault. I had given my counselor (which happened to also be his counselor) permission to talk to him about my addiction. That might have been a little unorthodox, but I had no clue where to start. After that, one day I gave him my recovery journal, where I had been utterly honest with myself. It was brutal, but I wanted him to see the journey I had gone through. I wanted him to know that the sobriety that I had fought so hard for was something I valued and didn’t intend to turn my back on.
Fast forwarding 22 years (actually almost 23 from when we started all this!), obviously from this blog I still struggle. Whether that will always be the case I don’t know. I hope not. Sometimes I struggle with being honest with my husband in it–or even after it. He is not my accountability partner. I DO have a woman accountability partner and she gets emails about my internet usage. Jim gets them as well. He also gets what I think are instant alerts (not a weekly digest) where if something looks really fishy they let him know immediately. It’s not foolproof. I think it looks for keywords, and that alerts him when I’m reading an article on a Christian lesbian talking about choosing celibacy. We roll our eyes and move on. I do think I will always have that level of “big brother”, that much I can say.
I obviously can’t speak for how he feels about it. He’s seen me at my worst and he’s seen me when I’m not struggling at all. I think part of the wonder of marriage is he’s seen both, loves me as I am, and will be with me ” ’til death do us part.”
One of the blogs I read talked about kissing one’s spouse for 15 seconds each day instead of a peck. I don’t know when it happened, but we’ve settled into a peck marriage. Oh, not always, obviously, but one day I tried to do the 15 second thing. It completely changed the kiss, and my feelings in the process. I told my husband about it and agreed it was a nice idea.
The sad thing is, you guys, that we haven’t done it since. 15 seconds of kissing is just too long, apparently. I blame us both. We’ve gotten so stuck into pecks that being intentional about it is what it’s going to take, and we aren’t doing it.
So I’m challenging you AND myself–try it! Be intentional! Kiss your spouse!
In the United States, currently the divorce rate is about 40%. (I don’t care that everyone uses 50%–it just isn’t true. If you look at the most recent census figures, they do not add up to 50%.)
For parents of multiples the rate is higher.
For parents of a child that has died it is much higher.
For parents of special needs kids–especially those with a child with autism–the rate JUMPS.
So as a family living in the US, with triplets who used to be quadruplets, with a child who is blind AND has ASD, I’d like to talk a moment about my marriage. When Jim and I stood up before our friends and family before God and promised “for better or worse” we had NO clue what that actually meant. We had no idea just how hard it was going to be.
We’ve done the marriage counseling thing several times. It was needed and extremely helpful. And we have, thankfully, a strong marriage. We’re going through one of those smooth times right now–the kind you remember and that keep you going when the road is much rockier. I love my husband deeply–I can’t imagine walking this road of life with anyone else. And I want to go on record as saying I’m glad we’re not just one of the statistics.
I have lived nearly 45 years within easy driving distance of the Philadelphia historical section and have never seen it. That was my driving force in planning my 18th anniversary weekend this year. I had it all planned out–seeing Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Seeing the Liberty Bell. Visiting all sorts of historical sights and learning more about them.
Perhaps you’ve heard, though, of our government shutting down, including the national parks, of which many of the historic sites in Philadelphia are a part? Yes, I thought you had.
My plans were in place until early this past week and then BOING! I turned away from them and made new ones. Friday night we drove to South Street. We stayed at the corner of 4th and South, which I would never, EVER do again. IT WAS SO LOUD!!! We’re from the suburbs where there are noise ordinances and if someone breaks it we get to call the cops. And sleep. Philly? Notsomuch.
Saturday morning, after a late rising, we had breakfast at Milk and Honey . YUMMY! We walked up to the historical section of Philadelphia and walked past many things that were closed and some that were open. We chatted with a security guard who told us about the slave quarters that were outlined because he worked where he worked and overheard the speech so often he knew it to share. We spoke with a hammered dulcimer musician, in colonial costume, who was handing out maps with places that were still open circled. Jim bought one of his Christmas CD’s. We went to The Constitutional Center. Learned a lot and had a great time in the air conditioning. For it being early October, Philadelphia was actually quite hot.
We walked to Elfreth’s Alley, which is the oldest continuously-lived-in neighborhood in our country. And this is where it gets cool. There was a truck in the middle of the alley and a carpenter was coming out of #116. He left the door open and I peeked in. I motioned for Jim to peek too. He did. The carpenter saw us and asked “would you want to come inside and see?” HECK YEAH!! So he showed us around. #116 is actually two houses, back to back, that were built by two brothers. The current owner has had it gutted and completely joined together. The interior wall between the houses is gone and there is now only a fireplace in the middle facing each side to show where the wall was. We saw where the slaves would have lived. We saw the upstairs–going both up and down spiral staircases. Swoon!
After our impromptu tour, we did the official tour a few doors down. Nice, but not nearly as neat.
The Franklin Institute was next and, in my humble opinion, WAYYYY overpriced. We wanted to see the Spy Exhibit, so paid an extra fee. The exhibit was interesting and informative, but not worth the amount we paid. The institute itself was a lot more for kids than I remembered. We grabbed a pretzel to tie us until dinner, having skipped lunch.
Our dinner was at the Marrakesh Restaurant. Oh Em Gee. The food was AMAZING. 7 course dinner. Great atmosphere. Pretty decent service. Fun interaction with other people eating there. I could devote a whole post to the food. Suffice it to say, if you ever get a chance to eat there, DO IT. But don’t eat lunch. And wear stretchy pants. And pace yourself, because whoa, when Jim and I left we felt sincerely overstufffed and in some discomfort. And we brought our fruit and pastries (courses 6 and 7) home!
I just want to throw out a hello (and a punch) to the guy next door who decided that he had to follow his drumming muse at 10:30 and 11:30 PM.
Today we just had breakfast out at Sam’s Morning Glory Diner. The biscuits were MAMMOTH and I again brought food home (Bacon!) instead of feeling uncomfortable. We left the city a little after noon.
All in all, one of our best anniversaries. We spent some serious time just being a couple, instead of Mom and Dad. We got to do a little part of Philly, eat some amazing food and experience some new things (parking his truck in a tiny parking garage was sure interesting!) together. And it never, not for one moment, felt like we were “settling”. We’ll just go visit the historical sites another time.
1. You know how you know something is coming up and you know you need to plan it and at some point you’ll get around to it and then life happens and you keep putting it off until it’s only a week away and then you freak out and do massive research on the internet and email your husband a bunch of ideas all at once (which of course he can’t look at because he’s at work) and then you freak out some more because you used to be such a great planner and life is just changing around you and you can’t plan anymore and …
Yes. This was me yesterday about our anniversary getaway next week.
2. I happily stumbled onto this website about tours and relaxed. They do guided ones (for a pretty decent fee), self-guided free ones and then ones where you download an audio guide onto your iPod and use it to walk around. Door #3 sounds like a winner to me! The audio guide is something like $15 (much cheaper than the guided tour) and will let you go at your own pace (and sneak in a side trip to Elfreth’s Alley which is right near Betsy Ross’s house). For those of you who have never heard of Elfreth’s Alley, It is the oldest residential street in America. Dating back to 1702, it has been continuously lived in for more than 300 years now.
3. Finishing up our 4th week of cyber school and fine arts school. Monday morning the gal that I share carpooling with (she does mornings and I do afternoons) called and said that just as she got to the parking lot of the fine arts school Laura threw up. She took her in and cleaned her up as best as she could and then brought her back home (L threw up 3 more times on the way home). 1) Thank goodness she had leather seats! 2) What a nice woman! Having your own kid throw up and dealing with it is just not pleasant. With someone else’s kid (and I’ve dealt with that personally!) is just grosser. Laura’s fine and we’re left wondering what in the world THAT was?
4. Are your kids into Minecraft? Holy cow, do Bennett and Laura love it! We got it for their birthday and they have spent any and every allowable moment on their computers playing it. I love hearing their conversations–they regularly use the word “smelt” in conversation, and I heard obsidian the other day. If nothing else, it’s teaching some excellent vocabulary! 🙂
5. I’m halfway through the Great Wardrobe Changeover. Except for winter boots, Laura and Catie have all the clothes they will need for the winter, and they are all put away in their drawers. Today I’m hoping to finish the boys’ clothes. Ethan still doesn’t care what he wears as long as it fits comfortably, but the other three have all developed tastes in clothing. Laura, especially, has changed dramatically in the last 6-8 months. Her taste…grew up, for lack of a better phrase. I bought several shirts for her that she pooh-poohed and when we went to Goodwill (because, COME ON, they have all the popular teen clothes there and for $3!) she picked several that I would never have guessed she would have liked. So no more shopping for Laura–she has to come with me.
6. I was reading another blogger talk about her “new normal”. I think we’re at that place as well. Huh. When they were really young, I often used that term with regards to medical issues. (e.g.: Ethan has a g-tube. Dealing with that was our new normal). Nowadays we are in a much better place, albeit busy. Last September I would have stumbled out of bed at 5:30 to get Bennett and Laura up, followed by Ethan at 6:15, followed by Catie at 7. All would be gone by 8:35, and start coming home at 2:35. Finances didn’t allow for extra-curricular stuff, except for band and chorus which were provided through the school. So my driving was mostly pleasure-oriented, with the occasional band practice or concert.
This year, wow. Our “New Normal”:
Monday: Me up at 6, Wake Laura as soon as I can. Ethan’s bus comes at 7:30 on Mondays (team mtg at school), so he gets up at 6:45. Wake Catie and Bennett at 7 after Laura leaves. Ethan leaves at 7:30 and Catie out the door at 8:35. Bennett starts schoolwork whenever he wants as long as it’s before 8. Make him have breakfast around 9-9:30. Leave the house at 2 to pick up Laura at school. Something really easy for dinner because Catie has horseback riding lessons and we leave at 6:15.
Tuesday: Ethan up at 6:15, everyone else at 7. Nice, easy day. At night , make sure Laura has clothes picked out and lunch made for next day.
Wednesday: Ethan and Laura both up by 6:15 to both be out the door at 7. Catie and Bennett up. Catie drum lessons at school so I will need to both drive her and pick her up, which will be challenging. Leave at 2 to get Laura. Drop carpool gal off at home. Drop Laura off if i have time, otherwise drive to Catie’s school and pick her up.
Thursday: Repeat Tuesday morning. I have bible study that night, so easy dinner that Jim can make or I can make really quickly and Jim can grab if he’s getting home late. 1x/month Laura has PT during the day.
Friday: Repeat Tuesday morning getting ready. 2x/month Laura has Orientation and Mobility lessons mid-morning. 1pm every week Bennett has guitar lessons.
Friday night: THANK YOU, GOD! We made it through another week!
I do want to say that I’m not complaining. I know we have it easy compared to you sporty parents. We are not a sporty family (for which I’m somewhat grateful!), so the whole lifestyle of living in your car and spending all Saturday at endless soccer tournaments or swim meets is completely foreign to me. All I’m saying is, this sure is different than the past few years!
7. I have had the blessing of eating lunch with my three closest girlfriends all within the past month. And this after seeing none of them all summer. Catching up, eating yummy food, just talking and sharing and laughing and crying has been WONDERFUL. (Even if I did forget Laura’s orthodontist appointment during one of them! Oops!)
Happy Fall Y’all!
1. It’s FALL! Well, ok, IF YOU WANT TO BE TECHNICAL, it will be fall on Sunday. But here in Southeastern PA, IT’S FALL! I sleep with my windows open and the quilt on. I sometimes need a jacket if I’m going out. The sky is starting to show that amazing BLUE that only happens in the fall and winter, jeans are making an appearance. It’s WONDERFUL.
2. Except for The Great Wardrobe Changeover. That’s the one thing I dread over and over and over as the years go by. Trying on clothes, buying clothes, getting rid of clothes, putting summer clothes into bins and fall/winter clothes into drawers times four kids and two parents.
3. We are finishing up our 3rd week of cyber school and it’s still relatively easy. I keep waiting for the 6-8 hours at the computer that they warned us about this summer at orientation. So far it hasn’t happened. The kids are learning. They have projects, tests, regular lessons etc. But it’s all accomplished in WAY less time than 1) I’d been warned and 2) public school. Makes me wonder what happens all those hours that the kids are stuck in school!
4. Jim and are starting to plan our 18th anniversary weekend away. For the first time we’ll be going to historic Philadelphia. I’ve lived near it for nigh on 45 years and have NEVER EVER done the sights. How ridiculous is that? I’m looking forward to seeing the Liberty Bell and where our Constitution was signed and where Ben Franklin lived etc. And, of course, eating some amazing food. Because one of the positives of cities are their amazing plethora of food choices. Which here in the boonies we don’t get. Our here only one place delivers pizza!
5. I had my semi-annual bloodwork and appointment with my endocrinologist. She, in a nice, gentle way, yelled at me. I have high cholesterol and high triglycerides (which are going to put a little bit of a crimp in the above-mentioned eating!) and desperately need to lose some weight. Oh, yay! Because that’s SO EASY with PCOS! i’m starting two new medications (one is a fancy fish oil and the other is a weight-loss thingy). One of which my insurance point-blank refuses to cover. Because they’d rather I be overweight and out of shape?
6. I went to Bible Study last night! It’s on Brave: Honest Questions Women Ask. I’m much more used to ‘book studies” where you take a book of the bible and work your way through it. But since I haven’t been part of a bible study for several years and I really want to find a place in our new church (which we haven’t visited ALL SUMMER!), I figured I’d start here. Just meeting with other Christian gals was nice. And being reminded of Jeremiah 6:16 helped as well:
This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
7. Have you ever done that? Been so touched by a verse and then completely forgotten about it for years and then have it hit you anew? That was me last night and this morning. Being intentional in my choices. Thinking through my actions before doing them. Counting the cost and then obeying. And finding rest for my soul, because honestly–obedience just feels GOOD!
Blessings on you today.
So two blogs I read on a regular basis have recently gone through a crisis in their marriage. Dooce and her husband have opted for divorce after 10 years of marriage and two girls. Can I admit that I’m really kind of disappointed they gave up? Not that I have ever met this woman or her family. Not that I have any personal stake in this. But any time a marriage breaks up–even for “good” reasons, it’s still saddens me. Because it started out with hope and love.
Most marriages start out with the idea that this is going to be forever. Until Death Parts Us. And having seen two marriages recently end that way, both leaving women behind as widows, gives me new understanding of that.
On the other end of the spectrum, Momastery and her husband have opted to work on it. They have three young children. She has chosen to talk a little bit about their struggles–although leaving the private things private–which I think is wonderful. For every seemingly perfect marriage is another one faltering and in need of propping up. Being open and honest about struggles is great, especially if you can encourage someone walking a similar road.
We had counseling BEFORE we got married to work on some areas (including my addiction) so we could start marriage well. After the children were born things went downhill. Once they were out of danger (maybe about 2 years old) we went back to work on things. Both of us had forgotten how to be kind–we had just gotten to the point where we barked orders and didn’t treat each other well. It was BAD. But counseling, as well as our own dogged determination that we were going to be “til death do us part” helped us get back to that good marriage we wanted.
I mourn for Dooce and her marriage, and I hope and pray for Momastery and hers.
So I’m up at the Hershey Feeding Clinic this week with Ethan. I leave the house at 7:10 in the morning and come home somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 depending on the status of accidents and traffic lights. Oh, and how fast I speed on Rte 283. Shhhh!
In between arriving and leaving my day is made up of 15 minute sessions with Ethan’s feeding therapist and then 30 minute breaks. Except for lunch, which is a longer break. I talk to the other mom and her son, I help Ethan put in videotapes, I get out and put away toys, I read a book and I read magazines.
Lots of magazines.
My mom dropped off 6? 7? magazines last month. Normally I flip through and then throw out pretty quickly. Instead those puppies sat on a speaker for weeks, just waiting for Hershey. Ladies Home Journal, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping…all women’s magazines chock full of recipes, quick tips on cleaning, fashion ideas and, oh, ways to improve yourself, your life, your home, your amount of clutter and your marriage.
Some of them have actually resonated with me. I look at the desk I’m sitting at, which once again just mocks me with the piles and papers and who-knows-what-in-the-world-is-actually-under-there?, and feel the urge to tackle it once again.
I hear my husband hint that maybe marriage counseling might not be a bad idea and wonder which of the wise suggestions about improving my marital relationship I should listen to. And put into practice.
The one thing I’ve noticed, though, is that I get all this inspiration 50 miles and over an hour from home. Once home, it’s very easy to slide back into the old routine. Which obviously, isn’t working so well. Maybe instead of just reading, I should take some notes. And talk it over with my husband.