Uncategorized

Fair is Fair

Being a Libra, I am nothing if not fair. I like my scales balanced.

ScalesOfJusticeI recently had some blogging fun at Doug’s expense by writing about a few things he says that I don’t like.

I’m keenly aware that there are things I say (and do) that Doug doesn’t like.

Here are a few:

I talk during TV shows, and I’ve been know to ask a question or two in a movie.

I know, I know.

It’s annoying.

Doug is completely silent during TV shows and movies.

I, embarrassingly, am kind of an emoter.

(And, yes, spell check. That is a word. It means to portray emotion in a theatrical manner. And, sometimes I do that.)

You know, the one that gasps when something shocking or surprising happens.

I say things like, “Oh no! What is going to happen now? Why did they do that?”

“I don’t know,” Doug says, slowly, with forced patience. “How am I supposed to know? I haven’t seen it before either.”

I don’t expect him to answer, but the urgency in my voice makes it sound like I expect a reply.

Sometimes when he watches television, I walk in during the middle of a program and say, “What’s this about? Who is that? What’s going on? Why did he do that?”

He takes deep breaths and tries to calmly answer or just stares at me to give the message: “You’re doing it again…”

It’s rude of me. I know that. But, for some reason, I keep doing it.

And, it gets worse.

Sometimes, after he answers all my questions, I get up and leave the room, leaving him wondering why I needed to ask all those questions in the first place if I didn’t plan to watch the show.

Then, I come back into the room, and say, “What did I miss?”

I wish I could say I’m going to stop doing this but I just don’t know if I can.

Maybe I’m trying to gauge whether what he’s watching is worth my time and interest. Maybe I think someday it might be.

I mean, maybe one of those hoarder episodes will be different from all the other hoarder episodes.

My challenge in writing this post is narrowing down the things I say that annoy him because blog posts aren’t supposed to be very long.

So, let me share with you what might be one of our typical Saturday morning conversations. It illustrates a few of my annoying habits:

D: I’m going to the barber to get my hair cut.

L: Why? Let me do it. How hard can it be?

D: I’m going to ignore that you said that.

L: Seriously, how hard can it be?

D: I’ll stick with a professional, thanks. Why do you always say ‘how hard can it be?’

L: Because it can’t be that hard. We could watch a youtube video and learn how to do it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkV824rMdXw

D: Aaa, no thanks. That doesn’t really engender a lot of confidence in me when you say things like that. What if I said that when you were going to get your hair cut?

L: Well, that’s different…

L: Fine. Go to the barber to get your hair cut, but on your way, can you take this trash out?

D: You are such an add-on-task queen. You don’t believe in me ever just doing one thing at a time, do you?

L: Well, you’re going out. You might as well take the trash out while you’re going,

D: What else are you going to add-on to this errand? I know there’s something else you’re going to want me to do while I’m out.

L: Well, since you asked, want to stop at the grocery store? And, who is the movie villain voiced by Douglas Rain?

D: What do you need at the store? And, how am I supposed to know about that villain thing? I hate it when you ask me random crossword puzzle questions.

L: Whatever. You don’t hate it. He’s that Canadian actor that was the voice of that computer. Oh, you know, what’s it called?

D: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

L: It’s a three-letter word from that old space movie. Come on, you know!

D: No. I don’t know. And, I’m leaving to get my hair cut. And, don’t say, “How hard can it be!”

L: Don’t forget to take the trash!

So, in addition to talking and asking unanswerable questions during television programs; I also add-on tasks, say “how hard can it be?” every time he goes to get his hair cut; and I pressure him to help me solve obscure crossword puzzle clues.

I’d like to say I will try to improve in these areas, and that I am not going to ask him anymore questions during TV shows, but that would take the fun out of TV for me. I can’t just sit quietly and not react.

But, I’ve found a solution. Now, I text people and hope it’s less annoying.

My conversation with Annie about Prison Break
My conversation with Annie about Prison Break

And, at least I will promise never to try to cut Doug’s hair with the help of a youtube video even though I enjoy telling him that. I mean, seriously, how hard can it be?

 

Family, Relationships

Love Illuminated

Daniel Jones, the editor of the New York Times’ Modern Love column has read about 50,000 essays on love, and written a book  called Love Illuminated — Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject about what he’s learned.

love illuminated

When Jones talked to Katie Couric about the book, she said she thinks if you want to find someone, you need to put out an APB to everyone you know.

The hazard in doing that, according to Jones, is that you have to know what you want before you send out that APB or it won’t make a difference — and, most people don’t know what they want.

They think they do, but they really don’t.

I believe there’s some truth in that.

Before I married Doug, I thought I knew, but looking back, I didn’t have a clue.

Does anyone, really?

We might be able to list certain characteristics and values, but is it possible or even practical to suppose that we can really know who we will love (or who we can love) by just analyzing ourselves, our needs, and wants?

How do we know who or even what type of person we can build a life with before we actually meet and get to know that person?

I’ve always envied people who found love quickly and easily without ever having to even wonder about things like this.

One of life’s most mystifying subjects to me is why some people find love easily and early in life; some find it much later; some never find it at all; and some find it; and then, heartbreakingly, lose it.

Daniel Jones told Katie three things he’s learned about love:

  1. You can’t hurry up fate. You can’t find someone fast AND have it be destiny. The two are incompatible.
  2. You can’t get married and stay single. You  have to give something up for marriage to succeed.
  3. You can’t have love without the possibility of loss. You have to love fully, knowing it will end.

These are interesting conclusions.

 

On the first point, I agree that you can’t hurry fate. Sometimes two parallel universes need to be aligned and sometimes, that takes time, a lot of time.

But is love always the result of fate? Can love be a choice?

Not to take all the fun and romance out of it, but what if love could also be an investment, like a savings account you decide to open and build with regular, constant deposits to make it grow and thrive?

At first, I dismissed the second point because it seems so obvious — you can’t get married and stay single. But, one thing Doug and I have learned as “empty nesters,” (I hate that term…) is that without our kids to bring us together for games, concerts or family meals, we can easily go to our separate corners of the house, pursuing our own “single” activities, and quickly lose our points of connection.

He travels frequently and when he’s home, I might have evening meetings, dinners with friends, or be involved in projects of my own. We watch different television programs; read different books; and prefer different bedtimes. If we let that go on for very long, we start to feel more like roommates than husband and wife.

We’re consciously making more efforts to connect– like me joining him on an occasional business trip or me watching his mind-numbing TV shows.  (In fairness, he says the same thing about mine. Take last night, for example, I wanted to watch Parenthood. He hates Parenthood because he thinks the characters always talk over each other. He wanted to watch endless CNN political talk shows, where they never talk over each other…)

But, back to writing about love…

In love, like most important things in life, there is no neutral. You are either moving forward or drifting backward.

Without effort, all relationships go adrift, and become purposeless. Unanchored, unmoored relationships cannot last; or at least, can’t be very fulfilling or satisfying. You need a destination, and you need to paddle.

To the third point, this one makes me sad, and would deter me from ever loving.

Except for two things:

1) You have to believe the relationship will be worth it. I remember when my dad died and the grieving was brutal. My mom said my grief was a testament to my love for him. “Would you have loved him less if you knew it would hurt this much to lose him?” Of course not. The love, the relationship was worth it.

2) Not all relationships have to end. 

Some will end because one person may care more than another, or for a million other reasons, but I think we have to look for, invest in, and believe in lasting love.

Life ends, but relationships don’t.

Yes, there will be separations. One person will most likely die before another.

“I am satisfied that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. Any man who will make his wife’s comfort his first concern will stay in love with her throughout their lives and through the eternity yet to come”
“I am satisfied that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. Any man who will make his wife’s comfort his first concern will stay in love with her throughout their lives and through the eternity yet to come” Gordon B. Hinckley

But, one of my core beliefs is that relationships don’t end when life ends.

Clearly, some relationships have to end for the well-being of one or both partners, but going into a marriage with the idea that it is temporary, automatically limits its success, depth, and potential for happiness.

Turns out I have a lot of thoughts on this topic and will likely follow up with my own ideas about love.

But, I’d like your ideas too.

Do you agree with Jones’ findings?

Are you paddling or drifting in your relationships?

Please share with me and help me illuminate this subject even more.

Family, Relationships

How Do I Love Thee?

Cover of "Valentine"

Let me start by confessing that I am not the most romantic woman in the world.

When Sara was a little girl, she called me “pathetic” because I couldn’t think of anything romantic to give Doug for Valentines.

I guess she thought my red toolbox didn’t cut it.

Tool Box
(Photo credit: pferriola)

I am a practical gift giver.

I try to be a frivolous giver but it’s just not in my personality.

Sometimes I say, “Let’s not give each other Valentines this year. We know we love each other.”

I say that to save me the trouble of trying to think of a romantic gift.

Even when he agrees to the no-gift idea, he still sends me gorgeous, generous bouquets of flowers.

IMG_0956

He can’t help himself.

He is a romantic.

In Myers Briggs language, he is a strong “feeler.”

I am a strong “thinker.”

The way you know which one you are is by considering what is most important to you when you make a decision. If you prefer to make decisions based on objective principles like what makes sense or is logical, you are probably a thinker.

If you put more weight on personal concerns like what is best for the people involved, and what will make them happy, you are probably a feeler.

Thinkers like to analyze pros and cons. Feelers like to create harmony and are motivated by what seems most caring and warm.

This is why I give Doug gifts like red toolboxes and why he gives me luxurious flowers and other impractical, but loving gifts.

I’ve mentioned before that Doug and I took the Myers Briggs test before we got married, and it was very educational. It helped us understand each other better.

When we went house hunting for our first home, we walked into the top-of-the-line builder’s model, called the “Laurel,” a large townhouse with a sweeping spiral staircase in the entry way. The salesman told us it was the most popular model because it also had a garage. (Actually he said it had a “Gar-Arge,” which we forever after enjoyed mimicking.)

Doug immediately said, “This is it! This is the one. We don’t need to look at the other models.”

I immediately said, “We don’t need that staircase and we can’t afford a Gar-Arge.”

“But it’s so pretty,” the feeler husband said.

“And so impractical,” the thinker wife replied.

These types of thinker-feeler discussions are integral to our marriage.

When we stopped at the outlets on the way home from the beach one summer, the girls wanted to buy school clothes.

We went into the Ralph Lauren store and they grabbed arm-loads of clothing to try on.

girls

All of them looked adorable.

“Which one should I choose?” they asked.

“Which one will you wear the most?” I asked.

“Why are you even trying to choose?” Doug questioned. “Why not get them all if you like them?”

The thinker in me could not be silent. “Doug, they do not need all those clothes.”

The feeler in him said, “But they like them!”

The negotiations went on, and since he had the money, he won.

(Obviously, our kids have always loved shopping with Doug. We are just lucky he doesn’t go very often because it’s about his least favorite thing to do.)

So, as Valentines Day approaches, I’m back at wanting to say, “Doug, my darling stud muffin of a Valentine, how about if we forget gifts this year?”

He might say yes to please me because, of course, he is a major feeler, and he wants me to be happy, and for our marriage to be harmonious.

But, I know he will never forget Valentines Day.

Never.

He will do something lovely, thoughtful, and sweet, and all I can think of is to give him a new Nats baseball hat and some game tickets because, of course, they are practical…and red. (And he already knows I bought them.)

Last year, I outdid myself.

love

I wrote love notes on red hearts and taped them all over the inside of his car after he went to bed so that he would be surprised by my tenderness on Valentines Day.

I don’t know how to top that.

He already has a red toolbox and a red tool cabinet.

I am desperate for romantic ideas.

Please send them my way… but only if they make sense and seem practical. At times like this, it’s so much better to be a feeler.

Family, Relationships

Judger vs. Perceiver

Myers-Briggs Frequency visualization
Myers-Briggs Frequency visualization (Photo credit: Peter Forret)

When Doug and I were dating he was doing a lot of professional work involving the Myers Briggs personality type test — a test that determines your personality preferences.

Family

Rock Star Wife

Last week Doug came home from work and rushed outside to mow the lawn, hoping he’d have time to finish it before our dinner guests arrived.

However, halfway through the mowing, our guests arrived, and Doug turned off the mower to greet them and come in for dinner.

He planned to finish it the next day but ran out of time.

This happened for a few days in a row.

I thought about helping him out but, honestly, I didn’t want to mow the lawn.

Here comes the whining…

I don’t like lawn mowing.

It stirs up my grass allergies.

And, I hate gnats swarming around my face.

I also didn’t want to deprive Doug of his lawn mowing pleasure.

Seriously, he takes pride in his lawn mowing skills.

Like my mother, when Doug finishes mowing, he likes to admire the yard – the perfect edges, even strips, and alternating patterns.

I’ve never been like that, probably because I’ve been spoiled with a yard mowing mother and husband.

The few times I’ve mowed, I’ve felt the pressure of pleasing two perfectionists who like their lawns mowed in certain ways – horizontal one week, diagonal the next or around the parameter first and who knows what.

Spirals, rows, contrasting stripe effects, light reflections – wonderful if you’re into that level of detail about grass.

I’m not.

My get-the-job-done approach doesn’t measure up to their standards.

So while I didn’t want to mow the lawn, every time I walked outside or drove up the driveway and saw the half-mowed lawn I thought,

“A nice wife would finish cutting that grass.”

I finally decided to be that wife.

As I carefully mowed, trying to follow Doug’s established east-west pattern, I realized I’d have to re-mow the part he’d already mowed because if I didn’t the grass would be different heights.

He would never be satisfied with that look.

So I mowed the entire front yard again.

As I swatted gnats and greened up my shoes, I felt proud of myself.

I knew the lawn lacked Doug’s expertly mowed appearance.

My stripes weren’t even and the grass didn’t all bend the same way, but hey, it was done, and he didn’t have to worry about doing it.

Besides, I don’t know how to make the grass bend toward or away from the light anyway.

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as “grass bend” until I looked up why people mow grass in alternating patterns in the first place.

For a moment, I gloated and thought, “Doug is so lucky I’m a nice wife.”

Oh, what a little good deed can do for a girl…

It went straight to my head, making me feel like wife of the year or something.

And the best part was when Doug got home, the first thing he said to me was, “Hey, lawn mower!”

I know, romantic, huh?

I felt a little swagger in my stroll as I walked toward him.

“Yeah, I’m feeling like a Rock Star Wife today,” I said.

“A Rock Star Wife huh? You’re always a Rock Star Wife!”

So maybe I didn’t have to mow the lawn to earn a few good wife points, but I’m glad I did because it’s good to keep investing in my marriage like that.

See, it’s not really about the lawn mowing.

In fact, he probably secretly wished I’d left it alone.

But, it’s about the marriage, the partnership and teamwork.

It’s about the “us.”

And that’s worth swatting a swarm of gnats any day.