Curing 30 Years One Month At A Time

March 1, 2009

How Do You Know He Loves You? Not Just A Song From Enchanted But The Question All Women Want Answered

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 10:32 pm

 

Eight Years Ago I Put My Hand In Yours...

Eight Years Ago I Put My Hand In Yours...

 

The following reflection is from my beautiful wife Jenn on the past month’s focus: 30 Days To Falling In Love With My Wife All Over Again. 

Well, here I am.  It’s my turn tonight.   The roles are reversed.  T is snuggled up on the couch and I sit here with ‘The Harlot”.  My job: to reflect back on the past month, 30 Days to Falling In Love With My Wife Again.  I hesitated to contribute.  I am not Tony… how do I know whether he accomplished falling in love with me again.  I’d like to assume that he never fell out of love with me, but rather after almost 8 years of marriage there were some things that we may have forgotten about, let slide, or just never gave much thought to.  Yes, this is what I am going to assume. 

I can however make some observations about Tony this past month.  Wait; let me clear up one thing… Tony isn’t a completely unloving dirt bag who had to devote an entire month to showing me how much he loves me.  I know he loves me.  He is a sweet, loving, kind man who sometimes forgets the basics and maybe loses sight of what is right in front of him.  He is not alone.  I’m right there with him. 

A few observations: 

The fact that he is willing to devote an entire month to our marriage shows me he loves me…enough said.   For the past few weeks he has thought about our marriage daily.  I know, that sounds odd.  I mean, shouldn’t we all spend a little time daily thinking about our marriages?  Maybe not so intentionally that we could write about it for a whole month but I don’t’ think it’s a stretch to say that for most of us we don’t spend much time daily, if any, thinking about our marriage and our spouse.  Is what I am doing or how I am treating my spouse today reflective of how much I really love him?  Did my words leave him wondering what I really meant by what I said?  Do my actions convey what my heart feels?  How is our communications? 

It’s a blanket statement so don’t get mad, but this is probably not the reality for most married couples.  It’s understandable.  Life gets in the way and marriage begins to feel like an arrangement, a contract or another commitment and not the covenant that we entered into bound by love.  Do I think that T will continue to think about our marriage every day for the rest of our lives, maybe not?  But I do think that after concentrating on something for an entire month it is near to impossible to let it fall to the wayside and go back to the way things were.   

Tony loves his sleep, but he loves me more.  I know this because there were many days that he let me sleep in a few extra minutes while he wrangled the girls at 6am.  This may seem trivial to some but sleep is a coveted commodity in our home.  We have been playing “who can lay still longer and fake sleeping so they won’t have to get up with the ‘little lovey’” for 4 ½ years.  Most of the time I’ve lost, but this month I didn’t have to play the game.  He forfeited and I’m so thankful!

He drinks lattes, eats muffins, and plays Scrabble with me…even though he was once a little embarrassed to order the coffee, knows that I’ll eat the top off the muffin and I’ll indulge myself in a little lighthearted gloating when I beat him at Scrabble.  Love, love, love!  Oh and that he will use his iTunes gift card to download a song that I like but he would probably not put on his own iPod.  All sounds so silly but its sweet and tender and he is not afraid to be that for me.

Ok… here it is.  I’m just going to say it. I am constantly torn with feeling disappointed that he is not meeting my needs and taking care of me and being thankful that he goes to work every day, and works at home most nights, so that he can take care of the needs of our family and allow me to stay home to raise our little girls.  This is something that we believe strongly about and I know that it is not without great sacrifice on Tony’s part to make this belief become a reality.  The little things that I get irritated with cast shadows on the fact that he is taking care of one of my greatest needs and loving me in a way that is beyond what I could have imagined.  What a gift!   

He doesn’t need to take a quiz, devote 30 days to it, or blog about it.  He loves me daily and I know that.  Oh and Tony, when you tell me that you love me and I respond with at ‘Thank You’ its not because I’m afraid to tell you ‘I love you’ back… its because from the deepest portion of my heart I am so incredibly thankful… for you, for our marriage and for the family that you have given me… thank you!

February 27, 2009

B-4 I Sink Your Battleship, I Better Learn The Rules Of Engagement

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:30 pm

 

At Least With Battleship I Have The Possibility Of Winning Due To Dumb Luck

At Least With Battleship I Have The Possibility Of Winning Due To Dumb Luck

As much as I rail against the predictability that is my life, I am starting to believe there is something to be said for routine. In a weird way, it provides a sense of comfort knowing you can focus on the things that really matter. Spending quality time with Jenn, minus the girls, does not happen as often as either of us would like. Most of our days involve a constant hum of ‘mommy I want’ and ‘daddy can I.’ Just being able to eat a meal with both hands rather than having one arm clinging to Paige as she attempts to climb out her highchair is a novel concept. So, when we get an hour or two alone, what we do is of little concern.

The typical date night normally involves dinner, a movie and finds us winding down the evening at a local java shop. One reason I love this is because it means I get to sip a girly coffee drink without anyone catching on, including the barista. The tip is ordering the Fru-Fru drink first and then the manly drink second. It goes something like this: “She wants (point to the wife) a tall decaf skim sugar free Vanilla Latte no foam and (lower your voice for emphasis) a Grande STRONG black coffee for me!”

As I settle down with my Vanilla Latte into a booth, Jenn chooses a board game for us to play. Choose is probably not the right word considering we both know she is going to bring Scrabble back to the table smirking all the way there. The grin comes from the fact that she knows she is going to own me yet again and it gives her the opportunity to do her happy dance. It’s a cross between the Icky Shuffle and Dirty Bird mixed with a little bit of the Macarena and Running Man. Yet, somehow I am the competitive one in the relationship.

In the twelve years we have known each other, I have never come out the victor in a Scrabble game with Jenn. This makes me feel D-U-M-B (9 points). Jenn would disagree and say that she is just more S-T-R-A-T-E-G-I-C  (12 points X triple word score = 36 points) with her letters. After a few rounds that end in my miserable defeat, I ask if we can Q-U-I-T. 

Jenn obliges, but says the only other option that has all its pieces still intact is Battleship. After having her hit me with triple word score after triple word score, a classic naval war game seems fitting. It appears payback will happen on the open seas. Thinking my beautiful wife will aim for the center I place my fleet around the edge of the grid.  Pretty soon we both are aiming at targets.

Back and forth we go attempting to knock out patrol boats, submarines and destroyers. Tonight I am the Admiral of the Navy having decimated almost all of Jenn’s ships. Feeling a little snarky, I begin to deal with my embarrassment over the Scrabble debacle by gloating:

 

Me:  B-4 I take out your last ship I am willing to sign the documents for your surrender

Jenn: Hit! Easy fella. If you don’t watch it, I’ll C-2 it you are sleeping on the couch tonight.

Me: Miss. Sorry, for my poor A-2’tude. But, can’t you handle a little losing?

Jenn: Hit!  E-8 it! You sunk my battleship. Are you happy now venti boy? Why don’t you order another Latte while you do your victory lap!

Me: To honor this glorious occasion, I think I will….I think I will.

 

My victory was the product of pure dumb luck. I landed a few targets earlier strictly by chance. Even though this evening it was done all in good fun, those gloating missiles on the other hand were launched strategically. After a few years in any relationship, one begins to learn the other’s “board strategy and tendencies.” Having insight into their vulnerabilities, weakness and insecurities, you know precisely where to aim your verbal artillery in any argument. If you are not careful, disagreements can spiral out of control and closely resemble the game Battleship where you are on separate sides of the board lobbing missiles at one another. Your living room morphs into a scene out of Pearl Harbor.

Yet, why do we resort to this tactic? Do we do it out of frustration? Maybe we approach arguments like debates where there has to be a definite winner and loser. Is it a trick we use so the other person will see how serious we are in defending our perspective? Or does the Battleship technique come out strictly because we are mean spirited and cruel? As wrong as I know it is, when I get wounded, I want others to feel my pain.

The thing is when Jenn’s words seem extra sharp it normally has nothing to do with her tone. Her intent behind speaking up is never malicious. I know how deeply she cares about our marriage and also my character. The words sting due to the sobering truth they contain. The accuracy of her words being right on point is extremely freakish.

This is one of the major reasons I love Jenn. She will not allow me to remain the same and pushes me to be a better man.  Somehow Jenn sees things I tend to lend a blind eye towards or bad habits in my life I do not want to admit are there. Unfortunately, rather than confronting my own inadequacies, I have the tendency to try and lob a missile in her direction in hopes of calling a truce so we can go about our business with little to no change. If the Navy gets wind of how oblivious I am to the rules of engagement, they might demote from Admiral to deck hand. I better shape up or ship out. 

February 13, 2009

What Happens When A 500 Pound Gorilla, An Elephant, Blind Man And An Emperor In New Clothes Interrupt Me Watching The Office

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 12:31 am

 

How Did I Not Notice After All This Time?

How Did I Not Notice After All This Time?

As much as I love being able to grow facial hair and how my new work attire involves flip-flops, I would go back to cubicle world in a second if it meant I was selling paper products at Dunder Mifflin. Unfortunately, Jenn is more of a McDreamy girl then crazy for Dwight Schrute. She apparently thinks PowerPoint is awesome and hates beets.   On Thursday nights, this puts us in quite a predicament as the power of the remote hangs in the balance. The way we work this out is through a thumb-wrestling match where the loser gets relegated to the bedroom while the other relaxes in the living room to watch their show on the big screen.

Tonight I won the battle so I begin to settle in to enjoy a new episode of The Office. While trying to come up with a catchy Facebook status, I get this strange feeling that I am not alone anymore. I can hear the gentle chainsaw snoring of Maddie and the rustling of Paige in her bed so I know it is not the girls. The likelihood of Jenn being awake is slim, but even if she is, Grey’s is a 2 Hour Event Spectacular so she isn’t budging. This exhausts all my options so I begin to freak out a bit.

My Macbook almost gets chucked in self defense when I realize not one, but four individuals are in the living room: a 500 pound gorilla, an elephant, blind man and an Emperor in his new clothes. Judging by their disapproving gaze, they do not appear to be a happy bunch. All at once they begin to lay in on me. It must have been 4 ½ years of pent up frustration because each one informs me this is how long they’ve been hanging out waiting for me to acknowledge their presence.

The 500-pound gorilla starts swinging his arms and blurts out, “Call me curious, but how did you not notice us after all of this time? Do you want to know what drives me absolutely bananas? After a long day where you barely saw each other, Jenn and you are glued to the television screen in different rooms.”

The Elephant in the room raises his trunk and says, “Listen Dumbo! When was the last time you two spent a night just talking about something other than the girls? Your lack of conversation is just plain nuts!”

The blind man shakes his cane in my direction and shouts, “If I can see you’ve put the kids above your relationship with Jenn, you know you are trouble. It’s crystal clear to me that you have some work to do.”

The Emperor in his new clothes says, “Let’s strip away the façade and be transparent. You miss Jenn.”

Knowing what they are saying is true I get defensive and blurt out, “First off Emperor if anyone is not in touch with reality it is you. You do realize you do not have any clothes on, right? And for goodness sake put a towel down or something if you are going to sit on my couch.”

After showing them the door, I sit back down to deal with what they just said. I miss more than Jenn. I miss us. While we were dating we could spend hours upon hours talking. This continued through our engagement and first few years of marriage.  However, something changed when we added mommy and daddy to our titles of husband and wife.

Now, from the moment the kids coming running into our room at the crack of dawn until the time they try to squeeze one more bedtime story out of us, the kids are our main focus. If we are fortunate enough to find a few fleeting seconds of our own, it is spent cleaning the mass chaos Maddie and Paige created. There always seems to be laundry, diapers, spills and dirty dishes demanding our attention.

The girls normally wave the white flag in surrender around 8pm, which means we only have an hour or two until Jenn is out for good. If we are not doing chores, we can be found in a zombie like trance in front of the television or trying to get to .500 on Facebook Wrestler (okay, this is more my problem then Jenn’s). There are other times when complete exhaustion wins out and we head straight to bed. Regardless, neither of these options lends themselves too much conversation.

On the random occurrences when we take out a loan to go out on a date, our conversation normally centers on potty training, discipline issues or temper tantrums either from the girls or something work related. The times we actually “talk” are few and far between. Our older friends try to provide comfort by reassuring us that this is only a phase. In their own way, they are saying this to shall past. I know most married couples in our stage of life are dealing with the same issues of communication and intimacy.

Jenn and I are in it for the long haul and love each other a great deal. We know neither one of us is going anywhere. Yet, this line of thinking is dangerous because you can easily get lazy. Other issues, some positive like raising children, gain priority while the marriage relationship gets largely ignored. You justify it by saying she’ll always be around and after all, there is always tomorrow. But, tomorrow comes and you find yourself running from a dance recital to a work meeting and finish it off with a 4 year old’s birthday party.

Part of me is terrified that once the kids get up and running on their own, I won’t know the person sitting next to me on the couch. The US somehow getting lost when we focused on the THEM. So, tonight I bid you farewell. I am going to go reconnect with my best friend. We are going to talk about nothing, but each other. Right after I toss the couch cushion the Emperor was sitting on in the wash.

February 7, 2009

My Attempt To Read Between The ‘Female Line’ Left Me With No Decoder Ring, But Plenty Of Temporary Tattoos

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:44 pm

 

No Decoder Ring, But Plenty Of Temporary Tattoos

No Decoder Ring, But Plenty Of Temporary Tattoos

 

 

Miscommunication issues in one’s relationship drive some to the bar to drink their sorrow away. Others drive around the block to calm down and clear their head. I, on the other hand, go a different route. It is one that usually finds me clearing out the candy aisle in the local grocery store. Over the past few days I have been eating Cracker Jacks like a fiend hoping at the bottom of the box will be a special prize. In order to enhance my chances, I have placed my milk issues on hold and wash out those caramel kernels stuck in my teeth with huge quantities of Ovaltine. Heck, I have been playing the Christmas Story on a loop just in case Ralphie’s presence will provide me extra luck.

Maybe we have been placing the wrong object around our fingers when we stand at the altar and pledge our love to one another. Platinum, titanium and white gold rings are nice, but can be a bit pricy. They also do not help one understand their significant other any better. Why waste thousands of dollars when a quarter can enable a husband to break through the “secret” language of his wife? Alas, decoder rings seem to be a thing of the past.

If I had a secret decoder ring in my possession, maybe I might actually comprehend the words coming out of Jenn’s mouth. It would help me read between the ‘female lines’ so to speak. Sometimes it is like she is speaking a completely different language, which makes sense due to her being an alien hailing from the planet Venus. I might be way off base, but I am starting to believe what Jenn says is not what she really means. No wonder I cannot understand her.

In order to help other married men avoid the “dog house,” I have begun to break the secret code. Here is what I have learned so far:

 

I’m Not Upset = You’re a big jerk. I cannot believe that you do not know the exact reason why I am fuming inside.

How Much Do You Love Me? = I want something that is going to break the bank or I did something that is going to completely set you off.

I’ll Be Ready In A Minute = I’ve still got to do my hair, put on my makeup and change my outfit at least 5 more times. I’ll be another 40 minutes at the earliest.

What Was That? Was It One Of The Girls? = Get your butt out of bed. I’m wrapped up in my cocoon of blankets all warm and snuggly.

I Wish We Had New Couches = I hate that our Wal-Mart budget does not match up with my Pottery Barn taste.

The Clothes Won’t Fold Themselves = How is it possible that you can sit next to a huge pile of laundry and not budge?

Maybe If You Play Your Cards Right I’ll Think About It = Your fate has already been decided. It is a no.

Do You Think _____________ (insert pop culture icon) Is Attractive? = I’m feeling extremely chubby today.

Are You Wearing That? = Do you get dressed in the dark? There is no way I am going to be seen with you in public wearing that outfit. 

Are You Listening To Me? = It doesn’t matter what she really means because you have earned yourself a one-way ticket to the couch for the night. 

January 31, 2009

All My Shyness Got Me Was A Pink Belly

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 3:55 pm

 

Belly Flops Lead To Pink Belly

Belly Flops Lead To Pink Belly

 

Even though I find myself in the dead of winter, for some reason all I can think about is pink belly. For the past week, every night before going to bed a reoccurring memory funnels through my brain: summers spent at the city pool. This was the place to see and be seen as a middle schooler. Too young to get a part time job, our days were consumed with playing Sharks & Minnows and Marco Polo while filling our stomachs with Sunkist Soda and Twizzlers from the Snack Bar.

But, nothing topped the diving board in terms of popularity. When someone made their way to dive, they knew all eyes were on them. Pull off a cannonball, screwdriver or back flip and the audience was left utterly impressed. I hate to admit it, but I was always a bit reluctant to go on the board. While waiting in line, I would always marvel at how my friends would run to the end of the board then twist and contort their bodies with no fear on their face. Even though they didn’t often enter the water perfectly, they made their actions appear almost effortless and from the looks on their faces there was no doubting how much fun they were having.

As I climbed the ladder, my nerves seemed to get the better of me. Face to face with the board, my feet felt like quick sand and I froze. With friends egging me on to do something, I knew that retreating back down the stairs would be an action I’d never live down. It was now or never to perform my first front flip. I feel my feet moving…they bounce off the end of the board…I’m airborne… but I tense up because the freedom is terrifying. SMACK! I crash awkwardly into the water belly first. The sting on my belly is nothing compared to the sting I felt from the embarrassment of failing. My problem was I never committed fully to the tuck. My intentions were good, but my commitment just wasn’t there.

Pink Belly: this is what seemed to define my experience in social settings and relationships up this point in my life. I had the best intentions of being myself, but failed to fully commit to being transparent. I think this past month working on my socially stunted issues has helped me clarify where this hesitancy originated. Plain and simple, it stems from the fear of rejection. Being open in relationships leaves one vulnerable. Things could go well and you are accepted with open arms, but what if that isn’t the case? What if I let them in to who I am and they don’t like what they see?

It is impossible to be 100% certain, but I think it is a safe assumption there are plenty of people in my shoes who feel a bit socially stunted.  Granted, I’m not an expert on the subject (obviously because I wouldn’t find myself in my current state if I was), but we all worry about how we will be received by others. We deal with this fear different ways. Some might decide to sit on the sidelines while they watch everyone else have fun. Others may choose to be a chameleon and change their colors so they can fit in with friends. There will be those that grab the spotlight and have to be the center of attention just so they can feel valued and dictate who is in control of the situation.

Rejection, even if it was just the possibility of it, fueled my shyness and awkwardness in relationships. I reason it was better to feel alone then get the big veto. Yes, this reasoning meant I was safe from experiencing pink belly because I never considered even get close to the stairs. But, it also meant I would never know what the feeling of a big cannonball of freedom in my relationships would feel like. Looking back at these past thirty days, I am learning my life depends on being found. One cannot by fully loved until they are fully known.  

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