Reflections on a royal wedding and the power in love

Royal wedding
My tiara has nothing on Meghan’s.

“There’s power in love.” The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry

Getting up to watch the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan was easy, as I am an early riser. Plus, being an anglophile, I just had to watch. Of course, I totally forgive them both, as my invitation must have been lost in the mail. They know I am toasting them from this side of the Atlantic.

All week long, watching the news was horrific. Another school shooting, a tragic accident with students on a field trip, a volcanic eruption and on and on and on. And, of course, the continued nasty comments that follow any story posted online – whether it is good news or bad.

It was so refreshing to turn on the telly and watch the beautiful bride walk into the cathedral on a sunny day in England. Here on my side of the pond, it was chilly and rainy – about what one would expect for their side. But I was happy to take another day of rain so that Harry and Meghan’s wedding day and parade through Windsor was perfect. Even if people claim rain on your wedding day is “luck,” it still makes for a mess and a bad hair day.

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Shear terror – true confessions of an Army wife

 

Shear terror
Shear terror – I only use safety trimmers these days.

Shear terror – an ironic play on words. I submitted this piece to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop pre-conference writing contest. Alas, it was not, a-hem, cut out to be a winner. I did however, want to share it, as many other contestants have shared their “losing” submissions. Sure, I was a little disappointed to have been trimmed. Maybe I missed winning by a hair! Who knows? But, after last week’s very somber post, I thought I’d lighten the mood and post one of the funniest stories I have about being a military wife. 

ZZZvumm. The sound still haunts me.

I was a young, newly-wed Army wife. We had just recently moved to our new duty assignment. Money was tight, and we looked for ways to save our pennies.

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Love is a battlefield – midlife style

I have the power…

Love is a battlefield…

So, I am standing in line at Trader Joe’s. As usual, my quick trip yielded a cart and a half of food, water and wine. I think maybe their carts are too small.

Anyways, I am making small talk with one cashier, when another one walks up and starts chatting and bagging my groceries.

The piped-in store music had Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield playing, and of course, a few hours later, it is still on loop in my head.

“I always loved her voice,” said one of the cashiers. “And she’s right – love is a battlefield!”

Me, laughing, responded by saying, “In my world, it’s only a battlefield when it comes to TV remotes and thermostats.”

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Marriage, like travel, is a journey

Marriage is a journey
Marriage is a journey

Marriage, like travel, is a journey. Charting your destination, off you go.

“In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.” –  Charles Schulz

On this day, almost three and half decades ago, the two of us became one. Not long after our vows were said, we loaded up my little four-cylinder Mustang and headed west to Arizona, our first move for the Army.

I had zero experience with the military, and that road trip would be the first of many. Leaving on a beautiful fall day, we said our tearful goodbyes to our parents and siblings, and we were on our way.

Our journey had begun.

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Steps, stones and serenity in Positano

Positano
Sunrise in Positano.

“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” – John Steinbeck, 1953

If you have ever had the opportunity to visit Positano, the words of John Steinbeck ring true. In 1953, Steinbeck wrote an article for Harper’s Bazaar, after he and his wife visited this enchanted, panoramic town. My husband and I spent four days pinching ourselves to see if we were dreaming, or if we truly were in Positano, a town built into the cliffs along Italy’s famously beautiful Amalfi Coast.

Positano
Late afternoon view of Positano.

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From This Day Forward – A Book Review

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“As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two.”

 Thomas Adams

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book to review by Family Christian.  All opinions are my own.

About a month ago, a newly-engaged young lady asked my husband and me, “What is the secret to your marriage?”

I was a little taken aback, as we have never been directly asked that before. We’ll celebrate our 32nd anniversary this August, so I guess we may look like “experts in the field.” Continue reading “From This Day Forward – A Book Review”

Keeping the Fire Burning – Against All Odds

anniverary post

“Keep the fire lit in your marriage and your life will be filled with warmth.”-Fawn Weaver

This past August, my husband and I celebrated a milestone in our lives – our 30-year wedding anniversary. Three decades! Over 10,000 days being married. I’d calculate the hours and days, but that may overwork my calculator!

Of course, our anniversary was an exciting observation for my spouse, myself, our children and our parents. I wish my dad had been here to celebrate, but I know he was smiling from heaven. I remember when I was a little girl, he stated that he would choose my husband. And when I shared with Dad that I was engaged, he was ecstatic. At the time, my soon-to-be-husband was stationed in Alaska. He proposed to me over the phone, and I received my engagement ring via UPS. I had to pry the package out of Dad’s hands, reminding him that it was addressed to me.

My husband and I met on a blind date, arranged by friends of ours, who had just met in college. Home for the Christmas break, my friend and her boyfriend described three of their friends they wanted me to meet. I chose the soldier, who was home on leave, and who was stationed 14 hours away via plane. Why? Well, should the date be a disaster, the possibility of ever running into each other again was incredibly slim.

Of course, we hit it off famously, and our story began.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Separated for nine months, we planned a wedding from afar and learned a lot about each other through letters and very expensive phone calls from the mainland to Alaska. After we were married, we lived a fairly routine military life: many moves, two children born in different states, then out of the Army and back home. Two more children entered our world, then the 9-11 terrorist attacks changed our family’s world – and back to Army life, this time as a Reserve family.

Our life together has been dotted with challenges: job losses, financial pain, military deployments, burying loved ones, disappointments.

Our life together has been amazingly blessed: Four children, the addition of our oldest children’s spouses, granddaughters, laughter – lots of laughter – strong faith, survival of the tough times, weddings, birthdays, graduations, confirmations, baptisms, seeing our children’s talents, watching them grow into amazing adults. Hands-down, we would say, “I do,” all over again.

As we got closer to our anniversary, I started reading blogs and comments about other long marriages. I wondered if there was any “secret” and if so, how did my husband and I rate among these folks. Honestly, I became depressed. The more I read, the more I witnessed pain and despair from people in long marriages, ending their lives together. Twenty, thirty, even forty years. I kept reading, trying to see why those couples fell apart, and panicked: could that happen to us?

Straight up answer – yes, it could.

Realistically, it could happen to anyone. And with the stress of a military marriage, just like the stress in any other high-adrenalin occupation – police, firefighters, etc. – a couple’s odds of marital failure are increased. Families of first responders and families of the military deal with fear of injury and death – for the most part on a daily basis. There is physical separation, missed holidays, lonely anniversaries, solo-parenting at special events – the list is endless. Additionally, these families deal with injuries, PTSD, loss of colleagues and other job-related issues.

So, my quest continued. Is there a magic formula for keeping it together? How do some marriages last, and others unravel? At some point in any relationship, there are bound to be arguments, hurt feelings, betrayal of trust, financial distress, illness and disease, and a host of other problems. So, I kept reading articles, blogs and commentaries. Some stories were so profoundly sad, and others – less in numbers – were inspiring. It seemed that there was so much negativity toward marriage, I wondered why anyone even bothered.

Recently, though, I have started to see some encouraging blog posts. One was from a man who was divorced, and he laid out a plan for other men to follow. It went viral, as he described how he hurt his spouse, and what he’d do differently. Another recent post was a young man whose father gave him advice – basically, that by treating your spouse well, your spouse will reciprocate. In a nutshell, treat others as to how you want to be treated – age-old advice that is true in any circumstance.

Out of all my research and reading, I did not find any one particular piece of advice for sustaining  a long-term marriage. From what I gathered, mutual respect, trust, love and forgiveness were some of the key components. Noteworthy were the articles and books about how men and women think and view the world in different ways, and many times not understanding our differences makes for difficult times. I think that respecting each other and our differences goes a long way in better communication – another key ingredient to strengthening our vows. And from a few folks in the medical community, the need to understand, acknowledge and support the physical and emotional changes men and women go through during their lives, especially mid-life, is another critical area of focus. And, of course, supporting each other’s dreams, careers and ambitions help bolster the couple.

As a military spouse, our families are subject to frequent separations due to training, temporary duty assignments and deployments. In fact, in the past eight years, my husband and I have spent four wedding anniversaries apart. Service members leave home, and the spouses are left behind to keep the home fires burning. Whenever I hear this phrase, I picture a pioneer woman, literally keeping the fire burning – handling her role as well as her spouse’s. It brought to mind a metaphor, and I believe, it sparked an a-ha moment – a frequent occurrence lately for this mid-life writer…

Marriage is like a fire. It starts out as a spark, and as the flame grows, it becomes hot and, sometimes, unpredictable. Once it settles down a bit, it becomes “perfect.” The heat begins to level off, and the fire is soothingly warm and comfortable – somewhat predictable. However, it still needs to be tended. Add a log or two, and it will keep burning. By becoming complacent, and carelessly letting it burn down too far, there is danger of the fire going out. However, even if there is just a little heat, the embers, which are cooling down, can be regenerated. It isn’t too late to save. Stoke it, add a little oxygen, then add another log, and the fire will return. It may need some prodding, but with patience and time, the flames will grow. Is it easy? Not at all. One can easily forget to toss a log on the fire when busy and away from the fireplace. It can become a hassle to keep the fire burning, but if it isn’t attended, the fire, at some point, will die out.

It isn’t easy to be the tender of the fire. It takes time, and sometimes there is only one person to keep it going. But, when it is well-tended, the rewards are amazing. There is warmth, comfort and light. There is satisfaction of keeping it going, even through the difficulties and the moments that it seemed impossible.

And, ultimately, there is joy in sharing something so very precious, so very life-sustaining, so very comforting.

Do you have any thoughts on how to keep a marriage strong? Any favorite metaphors? Feel free to leave a comment.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

 

 

 

Love Will Keep Us Together???

anniverary post

“Love will keep us together.” – hit song by The Captain and Tennille

Thirty-nine years. And it is over.

My heart is breaking for Captain and Tennille, (Daryl  Dragon and Toni Tennille) who are divorcing after nearly four decades of marriage.

Anytime I hear of a divorce, my heart breaks a little, whether I know the couple or not. And the longer the marriage, the more my heart aches.

Maybe because this couple was iconic in my youthful years. Maybe because they stayed out of the limelight, not airing their dirty laundry for all to see.

Maybe it is because in just eight-and-a-half years, my husband and I will be married for 39 years.

I usually don’t care why a couple breaks up, because, quite frankly, it is none of my business. But this time, I want to know. And I am not being nosy, because I am not seeking answers so I can scrutinize, demoralize or judge this couple.

I want answers, because what ever happened to end their marriage of almost 40 years, I don’t want it happening in mine.

Oh, that sounds really selfish, doesn’t it?

Certainly, I don’t intend for that to be selfish. I am truly curious. After conquering all of life’s ups and downs for so many years, what was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back at this stage of the game? And if either of them had any advice to share, I’d be happy to listen.

Truly, I feel a profound sense of loss for them. It can’t be easy to try to move on without the other.

Ironically, my spouse and I were discussing marriage just before I heard about Dragon’s and Tennille’s impending divorce. As I was doing some research online, I ran across numerous blogs about marriages ending after decades. Sharing the heartbreaking results with my husband, I asked him, “What about us? How can we prevent this?”

We have a long history, which includes a lot of love, a great friendship, some difficult times and a wonderful family. Maybe the separation due to military exercises, deployments and temporary duty gives us an appreciation of what life apart from each other is like. We learned not to take each other for granted, because we never know what curve ball life will throw our way. One set of orders can mean a year or more of separation.

We want to be a good example for our two children who are already married, and for the younger two who are still at home. We choose to tackle everything together as a team – good or bad.

Maybe there is good in knowing that if we don’t embrace each other, we could lose each other – kind of like, “live like you know you are dying.”

I am not sure what the answer is. All I know is that I hurt for this couple. I hope that they find the comfort and support they will need to get through this difficult time.

For me, I am a hopeless romantic.  I will continue to pray for my husband, our marriage and our family. I will pray that the Lord continues to bless us with many more years together. My husband is my best friend, and I can’t imagine life without him. 

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

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