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If you read my last entry, you know that I spent some time in Florida with my husband, Jim, last week. We are re-entering society as a couple again, instead of two parents with a passel of kids in tow. We’ve actually been working towards this for a couple of years now, getting acclimated to each other in a one-on-one setting so we wouldn’t be culture shocked once the kids left. We’re doing pretty well at it, except for a couple of things that occurred during the last few days.
The time spent in Florida together was enjoyable, the weather agreeable, and the days passed quickly. On Wednesday Jim, the ever over-achieving punctual person, announced that we would need to leave for the airport by 6:00 AM the next morning. Now I am used to having to get to the airport with him wayyyyy before time to board. I’m talking check the luggage, eat a leisurely breakfast, check into the travel club, watch a little tv, take a nap, eat some nabs, and use the bathroom 4 times all before board call. It’s like we’re having a whole separate date at the airport.
We had just purchased a new alarm clock for Jim. He set the alarm for 5:00 AM, the agreed upon hour for us to rise with plenty of time to get ready, even though I absolutely LOATHE rising early.
4:00 AM. Jim starts the wake up process. I know it because I live with him. There’s a very loud, long, whispered yawn, followed by a stretch and then a lot of flopping around. It’s almost impossible to sleep through, and I didn’t. “Why is he waking up so early?!?” I start to get a little aggravated. Next thing I know, he gets up and FLIPS THE LIGHT ON. Now I’m a lot aggravated. He visits the restroom and returns. The next thing I know, I hear him fooling with his clock and punching buttons. The light goes off, and he hops back in bed. Of course by now we’re both fully awake, but I lie there pretending to be asleep so he won’t talk and wake me up for good, and he lays there trying to go back to sleep. It was a lost cause, and by 4:50 we gave up and got up.
Of course, he knew he was in trouble. He explained that when he set his clock the night before, he accidentally must have set the clock forward an hour. I just glared at him and fixed my hair. There was a near altercation when he dared to inquire about something he thought I was forgetting before we left for the airport. I don’t talk in the mornings. Especially not at ungodly hours.
We checked the luggage, a security guard made me enter a different line than Jim for check-in, another security guard yelled at me for not putting my tote on the moving band instead of just behind it, and I forgot to take my phone out of my pocket and therefore set off the beeper when I passed through the metal detector. Had to go back and take care of that and then finally meet Jim on the other side. This did not make my morning better.
“Do you want breakfast, or just coffee?” He asked. I couldn’t make a decision, it was too early. We got coffee. The longer I sat there, the more aggravated I got with: the lady across from me for her blinding silver sequined jacket, the guy with her who obviously hadn’t showered (hair sticking up everywhere), the man behind us who was hacking up a lung, the security guard waiting awkwardly for his friend just across from us, the kid chattering beside us, and that’s just a few examples.
“Maybe we should eat.” I said. Without a word, Jim left for muffins. We ate in silence and then moved to our gate to wait. The coffee and muffin finally kicked in and I started coming around. Jim asked if he was allowed to speak yet, and I consented. “Before I checked my clock at 4:00 AM, I reached across the bed and was just getting ready to shake you, wondering why you weren’t up yet – and then I saw the time on your clock and realized I’d messed up big time.” “Yeah, you did.” Was my gracious response. We chuckled, but the rest of the day I never let him forget it. We were home by 1:30 and besides the fact that flying makes me tired, bed time seemed an interminably long way away. It gave me a few more chances to mention the fact that someone woke us up an hour early.
Jim likes to always have about 20 irons in the fire, so right now we’ve got a contractor finishing our basement. We got to leave that noise for a few days, but upon our return it was still there in full force. If it were up to me, nothing like this would ever happen, because I don’t dream big and I think everything is too hard. Not him. 2 weeks ago, we moved every single piece of furniture and a whole lot of junk from our basement into the garage, and let me tell you, after using a basement as a holding tank for 16 years, that was a huge undertaking. But we did it. I’ve learned down through the years to just roll with these projects, and truth be told, we are usually better off going with Jim’s ideas (did I just really say that?!).
I guess one other thing is that I’ve disagreed with him a lot more lately, without realizing it. You know, as the wife, a lot of times I think it is my duty to set him straight. Today my daughter asked if we had waxed paper stored somewhere else and Jim said we did, to which my immediate response was, “No we do not have any more wax paper.” Jim turned around, shook his head, slumped, and gave me that disgusted look that says, “Woman, you are on my last nerve.” and then he said, “If I said, ‘yellow’, you’d say, ‘NO!!!'”
That made me belly laugh. My daughter too. We’ve been married for 27 years and I still need to learn a thing or two. I need to work on being thankful, complimentary, gracious. Poor Jim. He didn’t have to take me to Florida with him, but he wanted to because he loves me. I guess I wouldn’t blame him if he left me home next time – but I know he won’t.
He sure has put up with a lot from me down through the years. And he’s been a very good sport about it, forgiving me time and again, always loving me unconditionally. Ok, he’ll be the first to tell you that he’s not perfect either. But he is a good man, a faithful, loving, compassionate man. He works hard, and he laughs harder. His quick wit is incomparable – he is the funniest man on the planet. He loves God, loves his kids and always tells them so, and not only tells me daily that he loves me, but he makes sure the kids know that too, by word and deed.
Maybe you’ve only been married a couple of years or less. You may still be enthralled with your new life, or it could be starting to set in that this is work. Determine to enjoy your mate, make a list of the things you love about him or her, and focus on that. Learn to be gracious, all those little things that are starting to irk you may need to be discussed a little at a time (putting much thought into how important they really are), or you may need to learn to accept some of them. Everything is not going to change, but that’s ok. Because people are imperfect humans. Time often helps with these things.
Married 5-15 years? You’ve been through a lot already. Some days you don’t know if this is really worth it or not, and by now you’ve found out that children add to the stress (although they also bring loads of joy). You may be struggling to make ends meet (we certainly were during that time period) , and there have probably been several job changes, and possible moves. Again, stop and think about your mate, what originally drew you to him/her, and make that list of thankful-things. Grass is not greener on the other side, nothing is ever solved or better by leaving. (I’m not talking about abusive relationships or substance abuse, this is not the blog for that.) God wants to bless your marriage, and He wants you to depend on Him and let Him work through you for that.
16-25 years: Wow, you have a lot of history together now. Time spent rearing kids, seeing them off to college or the work place, building careers or homeschooling or running to ballgames or co-ops or caring for aging parents. You’ve experienced loss of family members together, heartaches, possibly some real traumatic events. You deserve a medal for all that you’ve endured together. Stop and think – with all that history, who would want to start over now? That would be a lot of work…How about we stay and enjoy the next phase of life together?
How about we grow old together? Ever look at those elderly couples holding hands after 55 years and wonder what that feels like? I do. And I want to know someday.
This is not by any means a comprehensive list of things that can or do happen during these years of marriage, and the years listed are not a magical combination, but mere reflections of things we’ve either experienced or observed in other couples. There is no magic formula for marriage, but I do know the One Who makes all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and makes all things work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Cling to the Lord, come to Him daily, rest in His love, worship Him, worship with other believers, seek sound advice from others older and wiser, and seek to do good for your mate. I’m still working on all of this. I think I’ll be working for a long time, and yet, I am content, I am happy, I’m growing, and I know God is able.
And who knows, maybe the next time Jim says, “Yellow”, I’ll say, “Ok…FLAXEN”!!!