When I tell you that I love you. A love letter to my husband on our anniversary.

When I tell you that I love you I mean I love you for you, that funny,irrepressible you that hides sometimes behind layers of flippancy or Dad jokes.

I don’t just love you for the way you look, although of course that’s always been a part of it, that cute smile that drew you to my gaze.

I don’t just love you for what you can do for me although you do countless things for me every day and every week, month in and month out. Some things I take notice of and some I regret to say I probably take for granted.

I love you because you’re kind, to me and to other people. I love the way you go out of your way to help others sometimes. I love the way you father our children, the way you make them laugh or teach them to swim or read them Lord of the Rings endlessly.

You are a good man. You have been a good husband and I am proud to be your wife.

When we first began, even when we first married I was full of fear because I knew from childhood experience that love is not always enough to keep people together.

I came from a broken home. You did not. At times I worried for us. Who would teach us to navigate the difficult areas of life?

When we would first argue I would fall back on old habits and tell you to go. You would clear your head but resolutely stick by me.

We have weathered our storms. No more and no less than others perhaps but the things that might have broken us have not.

We have 5 wonderful children. It’s just that one lives in Heaven for now. And I want to tell you honestly despite our hard times I have always been glad you are mine.

I am so proud of you and the man you are, have been and are becoming.

I pray that God will continue to knit our married lives together because I have to say you are still my favourite person to be with and spend time with.

I love you honeybun.

Suzi xoxo

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No longer Young.

No longer Young

Though we are no longer young
and each day new wrinkles and grey hairs invade
still we choose to love.

For hidden in the shadows of an ever changing face are
the laughter lines of a million memories
and countless nights that rode on a new morning’s dawn
as hearts were laid open and examined and understood.

Those precious nights when the only solace we found was talking on long journeys as the children slept or a myriad of alphabet games that made us giggle when life got too serious.

We have spent almost half our lives together but it would be remiss of me not to tell you how much you still mean to me. Each day I am grateful for your complete acceptance of me even the difficult bits that make you grind your teeth. And each day I am reminded in countless ways of all the good in you, your sense of humour that many never get past and mistake for flippancy, the way you father our children, wholeheartedly and with a sense of fun. The very many cups of tea and coffee you make me without being asked, more coffee lately.

The desire to better yourself. The way you suffer my tv programmes without complaining. Just for being you. Though we are no longer young.

And they are no longer young. Hands that once sought mine in solace and comfort have found their own feet and personalities, and dummies have been replaced with independence.

And however hard it is, those times there is very little in the bank to tide us over and another bill arrives or that important date that gets delayed again and again, I would still choose you and all our history together. Because corny as it is, I love you Jamie.

Memory on the Menu – I’ll have a starter and a pudding too!

Many years ago, when my hair was still its natural colour and mobile phones hadn’t been invented, I experienced one of those moments we girls dream of and plan.
My boyfriend, who I’d known for longer but only dated 6 weeks at that time, asked me to marry him. It wasn’t the most romantic of settings. We were parked outside my house under the light of a streetlamp and he was uncharacteristically quiet. When I asked him that age old question “What are you thinking?” he replied “I’m wondering if it’s the right time to ask you to marry me?”.
My precise response to his unexpected question was “Ask me again in a minute!”.  You can guess the rest seeing as we’ve been married 18 years and have 4 children.

Obviously this was a momentous time in my life. It was a sweet memory then and has only become sweeter with time. I made him propose again though, in a more romantic setting, on the snow topped mountains glistening in the sun.
Like most married couples there have been a lot of memories we have made and hold dear. Our actual wedding day, the births of our children, our first home together.

Although these memories are covered by the haze of time they are equally as precious as memories made last week. We don’t always realise when we are just spending time with our spouses and kids that we are making memories but we are, whether consciously or not. I often find that it’s the unexpected serendipitous days and events that become treasured family memories.
Things like building a family den in the living room and sleeping in it overnight or going for a twilight beach walk where you end up inheriting someone else’s beach fire.

Sometimes I find I need to adjust my thinking and my point of view. That’s when every day life becomes something to be grateful for and remembered.

This post was written in response to the daily prompt Memory on the Menu.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/memory-menu/

The resulting Fallout.

I’m feeling particularly sad at the moment watching a good friend going through a divorce.
I was 5 when my parents parted. It would be true to say I remember very little of their time together. It has coloured every area of my life though. I find it difficult to trust male figures in my life. My head knows that’s not rational but my heart is slower to catch on. I am fortunate though that I don’t recall the fall out, the accusations of adultery, the recriminations, the custody hearings. They have all passed into the ether like so many of our childhood experiences.

For me my Father simply wasn’t. A non thing pretty much. A non person.  Absent. A fact of life I accepted and didn’t question as a child. It was how it was.

It has coloured my vision of marriage. Christian marriages are meant to be forever but my view of that is “forever got shorter all of a sudden” and don’t take things for granted. I’m just not convinced some couples are meant to be together.
Yes my Mother struggled financially. Yes she was grieved and heartbroken for a while but she was free. Free to be her own person, unlike when she was married to my Dad. Having said all that I do believe that God can heal broken marriages so well that there is no sign of the cracks in the first place but that is dependent on both parties being desirous of that result.

So. Back to my friend. I feel for her. Even though there has been no love in that marriage for many years it must still be a big adjustment suddenly being a single parent. Her children are much older than I was and sadly aware of everything that is going on between their parents. They are party to and witnesses of every cross word, every unkind solicitors letter, every hurt and recrimination.
It is heartbreaking.

I don’t have a perfect marriage. I get things wrong often, say wrong things, do mean things, put myself first instead of others. All of marriage is an adjustment and goes through different seasons. There are times when the love that brought you together may seem to be deeply hidden or no longer there.

I wish I could say I had the answers. I don’t. What I would say is divorce is not only between parents. Children suffer the fallout, the perhaps forgotten birthdays, the lack of contact, the feelings of blame, the if onlys.

How much could be saved if we took a step back, took a deep breath and started over?

I’m not talking about unwise marriages or forced or violent marriages. They are governed by different laws.

Maybe it’s not a bad thing to recall what brought you together with someone in the first place. It’s easy to give up. You just stop talking and do nothing. You convince yourselves the kids will be ok, that it’s better for them to be with happy as opposed to rowing parents but you cannot turn the clock back and once you go down that route you can’t undo it.

It IS possible to rear happy children after the trauma of divorce and I applaud my friends who have done so but in my opinion only when God and forgiveness are included in that equation.

Please remember this is my blog and my views. I am not meaning to cause any offence and I am not an authority on the subject although I was once a child in such a situation.

You must judge for yourself any truth herein.

A different kind of goodbye.

It was the day of my wedding. We’d had the ceremony and reception and photos and I was getting dressed in my going away outfit.
As it came time to say our goodbyes I was filled with mixed emotions. I was ecstatically happy and yet instead of being desperate to get away to the honeymoon suite part of me wanted to stay and continue mingling with the guests and my family.

I was torn. I knew it was right and indeed I wanted to go and be with my husband but it was a bittersweet parting from my mum. For years we had only had each other. She was thrust into being a single parent when I was very young. I felt guilty knowing she would go home and be alone, guilty that I had put what I wanted first even though she never did anything but encourage my marriage. I was sad also because I knew the next time I saw her our relationship would be different. I would be a married woman.

All of this happened almost 20 years ago but if I look back and reflect on that day despite the happy memories there is a residual tinge of sadness at our parting and the close of that era. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/daily-prompt-if-you-leave/

Is sorry really the hardest word?

16 plus years ago, when my husband and I were first dating, we agreed on everything. We had the same shared interests, the same opinions on things, the same likes and dislikes. But did we really? Anyone with common sense knows when you start a relationship you are on your best behavior. As we prefer to show one side of our profile in photographs so we show a one-dimensional image to our partners in the beginning, our best side. We are on alert for anything that would show us in our true light and try to curb those quirky little habits that we secretly hope are endearing, but know he may find annoying.

So in a way, we lie. We might like to tell ourselves it doesn’t count, it’s only a white lie, but the truth is, it does count. What happens when you cannot maintain the pretence any more and your true self rears its ugly face? Well if you’re lucky, by that time they’re so besotted with you that they are willing to take the good with the bad, and if not, then, when all is said and done, we’ve had a lucky escape.

It has been said that if 2 people agree on everything then one of them is unnecessary. Could there be any truth in that statement? In my opinion, yes. Healthy conflict and an airing of issues can be good for a relationship. Whilst the first flush of romance is wonderful, a heady fall into love and moonlight, something wonderful can be said for a romance that has stood the test of time. You may no longer agree with your partner on everything but I would assert that’s a good thing. Relationships where people and opinions differ can be wonderful too as long as you still have that shared love in common.

It may not be the butterflies in the stomach, or the heart skipping a beat every time they walk into sight, but it is a longer lasting safe and secure love that is just as valid, based on the shared experiences of life, such as first homes, and children and shared bad times too.

Before my husband and I were married I worked part-time in a Christian book shop to supplement my college fees, this gave me ample opportunity to read up on some Christian marriage books. Well, you wouldn’t go into an exam unprepared would you? Some of these books were very helpful in listing some of the issues we might face as newly married. As a smitten newlywed I was pretty much sure our love could surmount anything.

I soon had the blinkers taken off my eyes. Not only didn’t we have shared interests but I wasn’t even sure I liked him sometimes! One of the issues the marriage books dealt with was unexploded bombs. Not in the literal sense of course although you could have been forgiven for thinking our first home looked like it. It meant emotional unexploded bombs, those issues that every married couple face but are too thorny to solve so they are left buried beneath the surface ready to pop to the surface at inappropriate times.

Or they become history, ie they literally get dragged up every time an argument ensues whether it has something to do with it or not. You might be rowing about whose turn it is to put the rubbish out( it’s always the mans in case you’re wondering) and all of a sudden a little extra ingredient gets thrown into the mix such as “You’ve always been lazy, I remember the time viewers were coming to the house and I had to clean the whole house from top to bottom in half an hour”(if only). See? The row began about the bins and has now escalated to something else because that something else was never dealt with. It’s an unexploded bomb just waiting to be rediscovered.

It’s a lot easier saying all this 16 years down the line than it would have been at the beginning. Every marriage, however good it is, has these hidden resentments that need to be aired and resolved. But learning how to resolve conflict comes with time and experience. I have now been married longer than my own parents were. I come from a  background where divorce was very prevalent and my husband comes from the opposite background. This has made for some what are now amusing times but they weren’t always like that.

I don’t need to go into the different ways men and women are wired but we really are polar opposites. When we were first married, my husband would not row with me. This was due to his own upbringing. But I found it infuriating to the degree our rows would escalate as I tried to provoke him into a slanging match. After about a year of this I got my wish but boy did I regret it. All of a sudden my mild-mannered husband got cross and fired back. We had some fine upstanding rows which all ended  with him slamming the door and driving off for a few hours to calm down. Well, as I don’t drive this would mind me up more because he could escape from the situation and the children and I could not. So I would yell (poor neighbours and poor kids) “Don’t bother coming home then” and I meant it.

For about half an hour I desperately meant it. I felt numb and convinced we were better off apart. But slowly and surely when I would allow God to soften my heart I would be remorseful and wishing him home. I do recall one funny time when he was so cross he decided he would camp out in the woods one night and try to shoot a pigeon for his supper, Bear Grylls style!

As we have been married longer and endured some tough times and learnt the way each other ticks, our arguing and conflict has taken on a different hue. The Elton John song alluded to in my blog title says “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” but in reality when you love someone and want the best for them it isn’t.

The biggest difference in our marriage is I have learned to say sorry (fine thing for a Christian I know). Sometimes It has been said through gritted teeth. The reason sorry is hard to say is because of our pride. We have been hurt and we want to parade it over our partners and make them pay but it only hurts ourselves more.

THe bible speaks about not letting the sun go down on your anger, in other words don’t go to bed angry. This is a good recommendation from the heart of a loving Father who knows that if we go to bed angry and savour our resentments then the next time it will be easier to repeat the process. Before you know it a marriage that was mostly fine will become a chasm that is too difficult to cross. And with hearts that are  hardened we wont be convinced we want to anyway.

Please do yourself a favour, where possible as the bible says “try to live at peace with everyone”. Now God  isn’t stupid , he knew some people would know just how to press our buttons. The benefit of saying sorry is for us because it frees up our spirit and emotions. And it’s probably best to limit the time you spend with these people if you can. If it is your partner try and remember the things that brought you together in the first place, don’t let the flame go out.

I’ll let you into a secret. sometimes I have apologised for things I didn’t really think were my fault but because I was willing to humble myself it cleared the air with my husband anyway. Be willing to take the blame even if you don’t feel you were. Marriage is not about scoring points. My husband is my best friend because we take the time to communicate. This did not happen overnight. And I’ll let you into another secret, sometimes he says sorry too when he is in the right.

Till next time.