Tag Archives: marriage

The Narrowest Strip of Land

I’d have worn a nicer baseball cap if I’d known we were going to be in someone’s engagement pictures. G played in the surf with the kids, right under the tower of pink and coral clouds that held the last light of sunset. Waves crashed all around us and the wind blew so high that puffs of froth flew off the tips of the waves and skittered down the beach.

Bunch of nuts.

Bunch of nuts.

I waved to G with my cup full of rum drink and pointed down the beach about thirty yards to a young couple locked in a tight hug. They were enclosed by a semicircle of beaming family. Every woman held a cell phone pointed straight at the happy couple…and us.

The young man must have planned it with all of their help. Each person wore beachy dress clothes, like they had just come from dinner and wanted to get some sunset photos on the sand. Only problem was…there wasn’t much sand. Certainly not enough for their family and our family and the magic moment that was supposed to happen in a picture perfect way. The sunset that the young groom-to-be had imagined coincided with a new moon high tide that thundered right up to the trash cans and the boardwalk steps. As we’ve all heard for a thousand years, “Time and tide wait for no man.”

So while their family tried to act casual, the young man led the young woman down onto the narrow strip of sand that hadn’t yet been eaten by the incoming waves. He handed her a letter and she stood there in the whipping wind trying to read it, keep her hair out of her mouth, and focus on this important moment…all with twelve people standing in a grinning circle and two strange children (mine, ahem) who decided to act out a scene from Paw Patrol nearby.

All was joy a few moments later, when she said yes and everyone jumped up and down and then they took photos in the last light of Their Engagement Day.

The narrowest strip of land

The happy couple, their happy family, some trash cans and my son.

I got engaged under a pink sky just like that one once upon a time. And the ground was being eaten beneath our feet on that day, too, but we pressed on towards what would be.

G clapped loudly for the young couple and gave them two thumbs up. He walked over to me and we held hands for a moment before he went back to herding the kids. I had to laugh, even though the sound of it disappeared into the wind and waves. Ten hours earlier, we had stood in the driveway and had a screaming match so loud that Carlos had walked out into the garage and said, “Enough with the arguing!”

For three days, I had been packing and prepping and then G had the gall that morning to roll his eyes and say, “Why are we taking all this shit?” Within 10 minutes, I was moving stuff from his car to my car and he had decided he wasn’t even GOING on vacation….yadda yadda yadda. We apologized to each other, explained to the kids that we were using our words to express our feelings, and that it’s totally normal to have disagreements. We all had a big group hug right there in the driveway then got back to the business of living as a family.

Who could resist that face?

Who could resist that face?

Watching that young couple starting out, with their fancy plans for how this Important Moment was supposed to go–sunset proposal on a pristine beach–I had to laugh at the reality of it. Sunset proposal next to the trash can at high tide with a wind so fierce she can barely hang on to the letter you wrote so carefully, the letter with all your hopes and dreams and love for each other.

What I would tell them is that they had all they needed, even if the details weren’t going as planned. Marriage is the narrowest strip of land. Just enough to stand beside each other while the vast ocean nips at your toes and the wind drowns out all that you would say to each other. Stay strong on the narrowest strip of land. The tide will turn. The moon with ease up. The sun will rise on another day.

Marriage Proposal, St Simon's Island

 

Married Bliss

mr-rightIt’s 12:28 a.m. and I may never sleep again.  The scene of depravity that I just stumbled on in the den has burned itself into my brain and it will fester there until my last moment on this earth.

I went to bed at eleven, and left G still on the couch watching TV.  After reading myself into a trance (Junot Diaz’ “This Is How You Lose Her”–ironic, given the way this story is going), I switched out the light and tried to fall asleep.  I almost had, then jerked awake because my nose was stuffy.  12:05 a.m….dangit.  I poked around in the medicine cabinet for one of those sexy nose strip things and couldn’t find any.

So I walked toward the den to grab my phone and type a note to get breathie strips tomorrow.  As I opened the door from the hallway, a guilty looking G whirled his head around from where he sat on the couch and I heard a strange clunking noise as he tried to hide an object on the lower shelf of the coffee table.  My eyes darted to the TV, expecting to see some horrifying adult pay-per-view. Nope, just a sci-fi movie (and not even a sexy one at that).  Then I looked closer at the object he had tried to hide.

What do you think it was?  Given the level of panic on his face, you might guess crack pipe.  Then he started to giggle and I saw that the secret object was my kitchen shears.  My fancy German steel kitchen shears.  The ones I protect from the children when they want to cut paper.  The ones I squawk over when he uses them to slice open a plastic bag.  My precious.

The father of my children was using my kitchen shears to cut his toenails.  He was staying up late, waiting for me to sleep, so that he could do perverse things with foreign objects.

As the truth of the moment revealed itself to me, I stood frozen in the doorway, one hand covering my gaping mouth.  Seconds ticked by as he waited for my outrage to pour forth.

“I would rather have found you in here with a woman.”

He cringed and laughed.  “The clippers just don’t do as good of a job.”

Like he’s done this BEFORE.

“I was going to put them in the dishwasher.”

We laughed so hard I bent over double.  When I finally got myself back together, I said, “You KNOW this is going in the blog.”

So that’s why I’m sitting here in bed typing at 12:40 a.m.  Some stories just beg to be told.

And damn if the fool didn’t just come in here and waggle his eyebrows at me in a suggestive, “Hey, the kids are asleep” fashion.  I met him with a steely glare.

“You have GOT to be kidding.”

He plopped down on the bed beside me and said, “Hey, at least I wouldn’t scratch you.”

I Should Have Slugged Him: My Husband Confesses to an Affair

woman slapping manThis story contains scenes that some readers may find disturbing.  It contains strong language, mild violence, and mockery of a Braves legend.  Baseball fans and cuckolds are strongly cautioned.  Intended for immature audiences only.

Here’s the story of the April night in the year 2000 when I found out why Fartbuster had moved out of our house.  We had been separated for three weeks.  I was parking my car in the middle of the garage and already cooking for one.  He and I talked every day and cried just about every day.  I just couldn’t get it through my head WHY he had moved in with his friend downtown when he was telling me every day how much he wanted to be back together.

So one night he came over for dinner and drama.  We were sitting on the couch with our dogs–pretty normal night.  He started crying first, which usually meant that I would end up crying most.

“I’m not good enough for you.  You deserve better.”  He sobbed.  I patted his knee and assured him that that was not the case.  He was a WONDERFUL person.  Ominously, he peeped at me out of the wet corner of his eye and said, “You don’t know everything.”  

I didn’t say a word.  My heart stopped then raced to catch itself.  “What don’t I know?”

“I had an affair.”

Well.  What’s a wife supposed to say to that?

This wife, being a bit of a codependent class clown typemade a joke.  A bad joke.  The dissolution of our marriage happened just a few months after the public meltdown of Chipper Jones’ first marriage–when he confessed to fathering a child with a Hooters waitress.  I don’t follow baseball, but Chipper had been married to a girl I knew from college.  I had felt so awful for her when he was busted–the situation was terrible enough, but imagine having the world discussing your cheating husband on drive time radio shows and Entertainment Tonight?  So to lighten the mood in our living room that night–oh, when will I ever learn???–I said:

“At least you didn’t get a Hooters waitress pregnant, right?”

He froze.

I froze.  

Holy shit.

I lifted my hand off his knee.  He hopped up off the couch and got a safe distance away before he turned to face me.  “Not exactly…but pretty close.”

Every sound in the world was replaced by the buzzing inside my head, a metallic hum that seemed to begin deep in my bones and rattle through my body.  “Ah,” I whispered.  “She doesn’t work at Hooters.”

“Yeah.”  He stared at me to make sure I had put two and two together.  Or one and one and gotten three.

He started babbling about how he had cheated but knew it was wrong and he had ended it but then she had turned up saying she was pregnant and that was why he had moved out–to clear things up with her.  He planned to come back to me as if nothing had ever happened.  As if.  His fancy German therapist had pointed out the problem with this logic and had suggested that Fartbuster come clean to me if he ever hoped to patch our marriage back together.  I had to know the truth.

And now I did.

Like you might expect, I stomped and screamed and shrieked while he stood there with a hangdog expression in the middle of the living room.  The dogs hightailed it for the bedroom.  I tore off my heavy gold wedding band and beaned at his head, but I telegraphed my pitch and he had time to dodge it.  He scooped the ring from the floor after it bounced off the fireplace and held it between his hands.  He was still crying.

I dropped into a chair as my fury dissolved into anguish.  It was my turn to cry.

He approached me hesitantly.  It’s hard to know if you can comfort someone when you’re the one who dealt the blow.

“Don’t you dare lay a finger on me,” I snarled.  Then I hung my head and sobbed.  He knelt on the floor before me, so still and just a foot away, my wedding ring still in his hand.

We sat frozen there for a long time, like some mockery of a marriage proposal–him on bended knee with a ring and me weeping.

He reached out slowly and touched my hair.  I let him.

I whimpered, “This hurts so bad. …. I want you to hurt like this.  ….I want to hit you.”

He stretched his arms open wide and smiled.  “Do it!  Hit me!  I’d feel better if you did.”

We both laughed as he continued to encourage me to punch him.  “C’mon…this is your chance…”

“No.  I’m not going to.”  Laughing with him like that, like old times, minutes after he confessed to pulling a Chipper?  My fury flamed back.  “I don’t want you to feel better.  I don’t want you to think that makes up for any of this.”  I snatched the ring out of his hand.  “And I’m keeping this.  I can always melt it down and make a pair of earrings.”

Well.  That was the beginning of a long journey–a year it took us to finally go our separate ways.  I think back sometimes to that moment, that choice I made to withhold my fist and not beat the shit out of him.  I didn’t want his atonement to be that easy.  A punch in the face was nothing compared to the punch in the gut that he had dealt me with his confession.  I took the high road that night, but there were many many times in that year when I wished I had walloped him.  Swung for the fence.  Smashed a tater.  Blasted a homer.  Belted him.  Slugged him.  Knocked a four-bagger.  Hammer time.

But if I had, I would have chipped away at the awful burden that he had to carry.  If I had hit him, he would have walked to first.

 

P.S.  – The ex-Mrs. Jones, Karin Luis, has flown far far above where she ever could have gotten with that turkey.  She’s a therapist, author, and speaker who focuses on women’s resiliency and spiritual development. She is co-auther of the book The Fatherless Daughter Project. Check her out on Facebook as “Dr. Karin” or on her website.

Wordless Wednesday–Wherever You Go, There You Are

No matter where you go or what you do in this life, there will always be one person that you keep running into:  yourself.   You’ll spend every second of your life with YOU, so why not invest all that energy and effort into getting to know yourself?  

Be Someone

Fartbuster and the Dustbuster Dustup

dustbuster

This sucks.

A few weeks before our wedding, Fartbuster and I met with the minister for some perfunctory premarital counseling.  In other words, we met her for dinner at Cracker Barrel so that she could put names with faces–it was not a highly formal religious service.  Over our chicken and dumplings and mason jars of tea, we swapped small talk.  Then I pulled out a copy of the ceremony that he and I had written so that we could run it by her.  

She held up an elegant hand and said, “Let’s do a little bit of talking about marriage before we talk about the wedding per se.”  OK.  She asked us about trust and partnership and fidelity and communication styles.  We had been together for five years at that point, and sharing an apartment for two, so this wasn’t new territory.  He and I were MATURE–26 and 27.  Well, at least we seemed to be in our own minds.  

The minister buttered her corn muffin delicately and asked, “Do you feel comfortable when you fight with each other?  Tell me about a time when you disagreed on something.”  

Fartbuster and I swiveled our heads around to look at one another face to face, and in unison said, “The DUSTBUSTER.”  

A few months earlier, Fartbuster had come home from the store with a Dustbuster.  I was delighted at his determination to wage war against the cat hair tumbleweeds in our apartment.  He unpacked the Dustbuster, showed me how it worked, and I rewarded him with a kiss for his efforts.  Then it came time to charge it up.  While I was putting the Dustbuster in the living room window sill, right next to an empty outlet, I heard him bumping around in the galley kitchen.  

I poked my head into the narrow kitchen (there wasn’t room for both of us) and asked, “What are you doing?”  He had a couple of screwdrivers and a mounting bracket laid out on the counter….right next to the stove top.  

“I’m putting up the thing so we can hang the Dustbuster in here.”  

“In the kitchen?  Right next to where we cook?  It will be dripping dust and cat hair all over the place!”

That’s when he presented his rationale:  “It’s a small appliance, and small appliances go in the kitchen.”

I spluttered, “It’s a vacuum cleaner and vacuum cleaners go in the laundry closet!  Or the pantry!  We can even leave it in the window behind the curtains.  But NOT next to the STOVE.”  

And that was the moment that things took a turn for the…mature.  He slammed the tools down on the counter and shouted, “IT ALWAYS HAS TO BE YOUR WAY!!!  WHY DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO DO IT YOUR WAY?  I’M HANGING THIS DUSTBUSTER RIGHT HERE.  PERIOD.”  

Oh.  Hell. Naw.  

“My way?” I screeched.  “I’ve given you three different options and you’ve given me ONE.  One that’s STUPID.  So who’s really insisting on having it their way?”  

argumentWe glared at each other like it was high noon in a spaghetti Western.  

That fight went on for DAYS.  Sniping, carping, bitching and moaning.  That was the way we did things.  After a while, we forgot to stay mad about it but the issue never got resolved.  The Dustbuster and its charger stayed right there in the window sill until we moved six months after the wedding.  

Now that I’m older and wiser, I know what I should have done.   When a man gets into that “You’re not the boss of me” zone, there’s not much way to argue him out of it.  Even with three well-reasoned alternatives, an installation diagram from the manufacturer, and a copy of Better Homes and Gardens “10 Clever Places to Hang a Dustbuster BESIDES the Kitchen!”  you’re not going to win.

I should have kept my mouth shut, let him hang the Dustbuster over the stove, then served him plate after plate of spaghetti and hairballs until it was HIS IDEA to move the damn Dustbuster.  

My wise friend, Susan, shared a great piece of advice about getting husbands to do stuff around the house:  “You can either tell the TO do it or HOW to do it, but you can’t tell them both.”  Of course this might be why there is a stack of lumber in her dining room.  

So…I’m dying to know.  Do any of you have a Dustbuster hanging over your stove?  

arguing

The Secret of the Five S’s

mr-rightHere’s a GREAT piece of advice my mom shared with me when I was divorced from Fartbuster and starting to date again.  It’s known as “The Five S’s.”   That is blatant misuse of an apostrophe to try to make a plural, so let’s spell out the name of the letter “Ess” then make it a plural…Esses.  But after that glass of wine (and the one before it) that comes out more like Essesssessess.

With the Five Essesses, it’s all or nothing.  Whether I was scouting around for a Friday night date or a life partner, I had to make sure he fit ALL FIVE of these criteria:

SINGLE:  Well, duh.  Though Fartbuster didn’t let marriage stop him from dating.  When we were separated, I got “approached” by a married man.  I said, “Good grief.  I’ve already got ONE cheating husband in my life–why would I want someone else’s too?”

STRAIGHT:  If you’re straight, that is.  If you’re gay, they should be gay, too.  I’ve spent some time dating members of The Other Team and it’s fun while it lasts–especially when there was dancing involved–but it’s not going to pan out over the long term.

SANE:  This one takes a little looking around under the hood.  Do they have long term friendships?  Can they be alone?  Can they be in company?  Is their past littered with broken relationships?  Is everyone “out to get them?”  Any arrest records…and why?  How do they treat things that are smaller and sweeter than themselves?

SOBER:  I don’t care if you’re a drinker, a tee-totaler, in recovery or allergic to gin–as long as you are in charge of it.

SOLVENT:  I’m not saying wealthy.  Just solvent.  Bills are paid.  Living within your means.  Not going to ruin my credit score by association.

It took me a while to find Richard (all 5, no question) and then another while to find G (all 5, plus the Secret S:  Sexy Accent).  Along the way I met some other Esses:  Skint, Stalker, Snoopy, Stressy, Skoal, Stupid, Stingy, Swagger, Slob.  

So in hindsight….Fartbuster?  Single.  Straight.  Sober.  A little weak on solvent and a lot weak on sane.  And there was the sixth S:  skank.