I was just reading a post* that triggered a thought that helped me understand something about paired couples.
My blogger friend is just working through her loss of her husband, her partner in life and friend. She states,
“This is where I am heading now. I’m kind of liking my own company. I’m kind of liking making my own decisions on what to do, where to go, whom to see. Not at first …. wow…. that was ROUGH. Coming to realize just how many decisions he made SIMPLY by being there, was amazing.”
What caught my attention was the last line. “Coming to realize just how many decisions he made SIMPLY by being there…”
To how many of us does that apply to? I see that every day of my life. I can see how many of my decisions hinge on my him being here with me.
My youngest daughter recently got a divorce because of that very thing. She tried to explain it to me because she knew how much I liked the guy. He had his faults, many to be sure, but I liked him. No, I loved him like a son. It’s hard for her right now because her husband made a very good living as a geologist, but his being there either to approve or disapprove, to cheer or not cheer her in her life’s goals was stifling her. Mostly, he disapproved and would unconsciously block her efforts. It can be so hard to fight that and when you have a dream you keep putting off, you do need someone in your court to achieve it.
I love my husband, but he pretty much does the same thing, but I plod on anyway. I’m seventy now and I’m pretty certain, he’s not going to bail on me now. Pretty certain.
We don’t always see eye to eye … he still says things like… do we really need that?… well, if you get that you got to get rid of something else. It used to work to get me to put down whatever it is he doesn’t want me to get. I just ignore him now. That’s just what he says.
But of the things he doesn’t say or no longer needs to involve little things. It’s always the little things. For example, I’d eat mostly vegetarian, but he doesn’t like squash… well, he likes potatoes, onion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and tolerates peas, carrots and celery. Eggplant, forget about it. He will try exotic veggies like celeriac at least once. So, I give him that. He doesn’t care for fruit unless it’s dried. I would like to eat more seafood but he doesn’t care for most of that. No shrimp, crab or lobster- too expensive. None of that. What can I say? He’s a meat and potato kind of guy. He also loves lots of starch, breads and pasta. Loves pasta, so that’s an easy fix.
Without him, I’d eat whenever I feel like it, nothing if I didn’t. Because he works all day, I feel obligated to have something ready for him when he gets home. I know what he likes. He loves Mexican, pizza, sushi and Chinese takeout. Things like that. I tolerate it. Well, I like homemade Mexican. Homemade is always better.
As my sister can attest to when I screamed out at her, “I HATE CHINESE!”. I cringe at Chinese.
I don’t really, but when we were living in Alabama and in a small town to boot, my father’s favorite places were Mexican food and Chinese buffet. There weren’t many interesting places to eat there, other than fried everything else. Buffets were popular there and we were so delighted when they opened up a Chili’s, a Red Lobster, and a couple of other chains. That was as exotic as they got. If we wanted something better, we’d have to drive an hour to the big city of Birmingham to get it. Which we often did.
Keep in mind, we grew up in California and as much as we both grew to love Alabama, it initially took some major psychological adjusting to get there. Food was one, not to mention, NO STARBUCKS!!!
On this one particular day, while working several days on the house we were prepping for mother to come live with us, I’d been stripping wall paper all day long. I worked a regular day job to boot, so this was my weekend. There were several rooms with this awful black with pink floral wall paper and it had to go. Needless to say, she’d gone shopping for supplies and either she had found or not found something we needed and perhaps asked what we were to eat. I don’t recall the details to be honest. From the top of the ladder, exasperated and exhausted I listed my frustrations, punctuated with an adamant scream of “and I hate Chinese!”
Her eyes went wide looking up at me.
“It’s true. All we eat is Chinese and I’m sick of it!! Mexican and Chinese! That’s all there is!” Instantly, we both erupted in laughter. I climbed down and we just laughed and laughed until our sides ached. Laughter is the best medicine.
There were times during this event of caring for mother that I thought how difficult it is to come to a town with none of the amenities we were both accustomed to and always considering another person. Sharing a house with a sister I’d not been with since we were teens was hard. We’d grown worlds apart. Sometimes we didn’t get along. Her making adjustments to me and my husband was tough as well. We were always having to be like the tides, ebbing and rising. Was it all bad? NO! I miss my sister terribly with her in Florida and me in California now and I know I’d miss my mister if he weren’t by my side.
Is it hard? YES! but on the flip side, what are they sacrificing for being with us? What is the sum total of the equation? Relationships are give and take. My sister has chosen to remain single. It is very hard for her but she has chosen. Like my daughter, they have chosen to not have anyone by their side to share the good, the bad and the ugly with. Sometimes we have to fight to find our place and keep our identity. Some of us don’t know how to fight so it’s better to do without. I think it frightens some people to blend into or with someone else. I know the biggest fear for me was not to lose self. I had in my previous marriages and feared that in this one. Granted, sometimes, part of self is needed losing. I remember the me that was loud and brash. That’s gone and it needed to be gone.
I always had a hard time speaking up. Given my past of “children should be seen and not heard”, I had difficulty standing up for myself. With my mister, our turning point was one day, many years ago. He did or said something and I turned away from him and uttered under my breath, “Idiot!”. He thought he heard but said, “What did you say?!” I looked up at him and said it again. Suddenly, instead of being mad, we both burst out laughing. Again, the laughter. I learned then and there that it’s not the end of the world to disagree with your partner. They aren’t going to stop loving you if you speak your mind. From then on, that’s how it was. Now if one of us does something stupid, we jokingly say “Idiot” followed by laughter.
Even so, there are always going to be things I don’t do because of him as I’m sure there are things he doesn’t do because of me. Would we be better without? No.
As my friend went on to say, “It (those decisions) wasn’t an issue because we were together…”
This post was inspired by the blog, “Where Do I Go From Here?”