When you can’t control ..

There are a lot of things *worth* making a big deal about in life.

I have an amazing friend that I don’t see often enough, especially anymore because of a move and his retirement, who I can’t believe what he has seen, done and had happen to him in his life .. the loss of two children, a third with severe disability, a major health diagnosis for his spouse, and that’s just to start .. situations that might bring any of the rest of us to our knees.  Yet he gets up everyday, volunteers, goes to work, has the brightest eyes and biggest smile on his face and he just gets at it everyday.

That’s a lot for anyone to deal with.  Those things change you.  They have to.  And they can change a person for better or for worse in an instant.

Most of the time though .. we have little things, issues or challenges, deadlines, tasks, whatever .. thrown at us constantly throughout the course of a day.  And usually, there is little the Universe can truly throw at us that can’t be taken in stride.  That we can’t entrust, if not to God, to someone else.  Or ourselves.

Unless .. we perhaps have some issues with needing control.

There was a time in my life when I used to wonder why life, (I was told), was so bad.  So hard.  I felt horrible because no matter how bad things have ever actually been, I’ve always tried to find the silver lining.  I try to always be open to the fact I can do things better and take ownership of issues that are mine .. deal with them or make peace with the fact they are just my issues and minimize the impact on others.  Like the fact I often try to get one more thing done before I have to be somewhere which often, not always, but often where I feel I might have some leeway, has me running behind.

I have also far too often over the years, tried to take on issues I am told were or are mine.  But they’re not.  It took me a very long time to recognize that.  I used to wonder what was wrong with me that I didn’t see things the way I was told they were.  That perhaps I just didn’t get it.

In some cases, things are a big deal.  And, I try to always give credit where credit is due.

It’s tough though when everyone comes at things from their own past experience, personality and perspective.  So how big a deal something might be to one versus another is all very relative.

But after you’ve been through some actual, real sh*t in life, your realize what’s worth making a huge fuss or demands or threats over and what’s not.

It’s taken me a long time to get to a place where I have learned to better recognize this and  compartmentalize when issues are my own that I need to own ..

And when they’re just someone else’s .. appreciate that fact, and let it go.

Still, no matter how far you may try to remove yourself, sometimes you just keep getting dragged into the drama others need to create.  (And let me just clarify, this fortunately has nothing to do with the Cowboy.  Other than at times we both get to share/swap stories and ponder solutions to the everyday chaos around us.)

…………………….

While I’ve paid good money over the years to understand this and get to this place where I am currently at .. there are some valuable lessons I think in sharing stories, situations or resources.

http://drphil.com/articles/article/320

http://www.compatamate.com/Relationships/control.html

Whether or not it’s from me, Dr. Phil .. or any of the thousands of resources/forums available on Google which I won’t bore you with here .. there are lessons here I’d love for my daughter to learn, especially as she ages.  I hope she more easily recognizes a person with control issues than I can or ever did.

It would help tremendously even in situations like the one she and her best friend found themselves in this past year ..

Where a third little girl who so desperately wanted to be both their friends, did what she could to create chaos between the two, in order to come in and be the one to save the day.  She wanted them both to need her and like her best.  Versus just being a good person to like and love, who looked at herself for the person she wanted to be and stood firm in that .. (not easy for any girl about to enter her teens)

And who they would have welcomed into their circle to begin with.

We had this very conversation just the other night in regard to something said to her by another friend completely outside the triangle mentioned above, her reaction to it and how she might best respond.

Friendships, families, workplaces and relationships shouldn’t be about winning, losing or needing control.  While structure is necessary in some form and if expectations are made clear .. they are best when they can just be because everyone is doing their own part.

If it doesn’t work for some reason, it’s my belief .. take it or leave it, .. that natural consequences are a good reminder perhaps we need to look within and work on what’s there .. first.

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The Best Advice You Were (Never) Given?

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

…………….

I have a colleague who’s last day at work was today ..

At least for now.

We will see him again soon, only with one change.  Well maybe more than that.  He could come back with a tattoo somewhere we’ll never see.  Or have suddenly decided to become a vegetarian.  But one change that we’ll at least know for sure.  He will return to work in about a week and a half with a shiny new ring on his left hand.

He’s a great guy and he’s marrying a wonderful young woman this weekend, the two have been together quite some time, they seem like a great couple and they are excited to be getting married.

I of course, truly and sincerely wish them every blessing a lifetime of love can bring and the best in their marriage.  So do many, many other family and friends of theirs .. and of course all of our colleagues ..

Yet I heard someone say to him today, jokingly .. ‘it’s not too late.’

I might have said that as well a year ago.  But I would have meant it.

Quite honestly, I’m not so sure the relative newlywed that did say it today didn’t mean it. Actually, I know she did because she followed it up by saying just above a whisper but I was close enough to hear, “I actually meant it.”  Which makes me sad.  It wasn’t long ago she was that person rushing off, so excited to get married.  The wear and tear I already hear in her voice is heartbreaking.  (Perhaps I should show her yesterday’s blog.)

Anyway, a year ago for me, I was done.  Done dating.  For a very long time anyway.  That was my plan.  I had NO intention of even thinking about trying to connect with another person in regard to dating again .. and marriage?  Marriage was simply never again going to be a discussion.  The destruction I was witnessing in so many directions around me regarding other couples was enough to make me swear any of it off, I was almost certain, forever.

After focusing on my health and fitness, staying close to girlfriends I knew had my back and me theirs, working with a life coach and being faithful to pray and go to church, I put it all in God’s hands.  I told myself a year ago, ‘Focus on your daughter and your career because it is clearly a much better use of time and energy.’

I had had it.

Then along comes this cowboy.

…………..

My faith has honestly and genuinely (I am somewhat sincerely shocked) been restored that good marriages/relationships, heck even incredible ones do still exist.  That it is possible to connect with someone on a level so deep, that it’s okay to trust in it.  That it is safe to again, give another person (besides your child) .. everything you’ve got.

But I also believed that, the first go round.

A dear old friend of mine, one whom I miss terribly and have always looked up to, who I had no idea ever ventured to read any of these posts, left a comment today on yesterday’s post .. and the challenge I had linked to about being conscious to say only uplifting, positive things to your spouse and about your spouse to others, for 30 days.

She wrote:”I believe in love, family, marriage. I believe it. I know so many people of divorce did too at one point. Including my own parents. But if you really were honest….would those people of divorce have noticed flaws early on, red flags, where perhaps they should not have gotten married? My own mother said just that…..she always had a bit of a red flag moment in her, that said perhaps they shouldn’t. But it was the 60s…she was 22…EVERYONE got married.I feel awful hearing of friends’ marriages in trouble. Makes me so sad, yet its inevitable. Statistically, its going to happen. I will work every day to make sure that it is not me.

We don’t always see red flags as red flags.  We see them as challenges perhaps we can work through.  Troubles for one person, not you both as a couple, that might heal/get fixed in time.  Or with counseling.  Or that some red flags are ‘just stress’.  Or what I feel my ex and I believed, which was – that it was so great we were complete opposites – because somehow then we complimented each other.

In hindsight .. my ex says his family told him we would never work.

Maybe they did.  But we thought we knew better.  And, we loved each other so we tried.

But in trying, failing and throughout the years since, I have learned quite a few lessons.  Lessons I hope guide me well (they better or I’m going to be really peeved .. ) into the future.

Back to my colleague.  Knowing he and his beautiful bride were heading off into the great known, or dare I say, the great unknown that is marriage … I was pondering today, what possible advice would or could I ever give a couple just starting out, to help them succeed in love .. and marriage.

Would they care what I have to say anyway.

Probably not.  Most often we learn best by falling and getting back up on our own.

But for my own daughter’s sake…

I wanted to jot down a few thoughts so that she may look at this, someday, when she is contemplating any relationship of her own.

Love each other.  Speak kindly to each other.  More kind than is necessary where you can.  Date.. always.  Establish a good cache of babysitters.  Surround yourself with good friends and lots of family.  Know that sometimes friends are family.  But also know when it’s time for it to be, just the two of you.  Communicate.  And if you don’t do it well, find someone who can help you figure it out because it is perhaps the most important thing you can work on – for each other.  Laugh, a lot.  Listen every now and then to the tone of your voice and make sure it sounds the way you are hoping to be heard.  Hold hands.  Take walks.  Remember, it’s not always 50/50.  Chances are any slacking in one area by your spouse is being more than made up for by your slacking in another area.  Pray, together.  Don’t put a TV in the bedroom.  Ask each other about your day and mean it.  Spend less time worrying who is right and more time worrying about what is right.  Have one standing meeting each week where you can bring your grievances/frustrations to the table, talk about it and work out a solution together when it’s not in the heat of the battle.  (My ex and I learned this through years of counseling and thousands of dollars billing.  Don’t spend the money to hear the same, just do it.  It was one of the best things we did.)  Continue those standing meetings even if everything is going well and use it instead to celebrate all that is right.  (My ex and I failed on this part here.  Which may be among the reasons we are no longer together.)  ‘Let your love be stronger than your hate or your anger.  Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.’  (- Jane Wills)  Remind yourself each morning of why the person next to you is a blessing in your life.  And perhaps do the same again each night, before you go to bed.

I’m sure I’m missing a few big ones here.  But those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head.  Thoughts that might someday be helpful to you, my beautiful daughter.  Who knows about anyone else.  Anyway, I never had a conversation like this with my own parents, in terms of what strengthens any relationship/marriage.  It’s one, in hindsight, I wish I had been able to have .. and still hope to with my dad, among others I know carry volumes of relationship wisdom from a life well lived.

Given I know a few people at least are reading this .. I am wondering, what advice would you give to newlyweds?  Or, to those even currently in a marriage but struggling.  What does it take to not only make a marriage work anymore, but work well, thrive and last?

You may now kiss the bride.  Or whoever has helped you learn those lessons.  🙂

Cheers.

Watering the lawn …

What are you doing to keep your own grass green?

(Not, lawn mowed.  Which would give this post an entirely different meaning.  Keep your minds above the waistline.)

Ok, so this is a follow up to yesterdays quote/post and initial thoughts on the fact that in the midst of a lovely weekend for the Cowboy and I, and one where it seems all we continue to do is build on what we have, we stopped to look at all of the relationship chaos around us (because it got to the point it was almost humorous if it weren’t so sad).  To ponder what it truly takes anymore to have a good marriage or lasting committed relationship.  And, who did we know we might look to, to serve as good examples or role models …

……………

I have a feeling today’s post won’t be very popular among some of my friends.  I have many, many strong women in my life and I know bazillions more out there who don’t read my blog necessarily but that would cringe at what I’m going to throw out there.

BUT I found it interesting .. and at the very least, food for thought.

One of the other blogs I follow is called Heavenly Ramblings .. and I haven’t checked it out in awhile. But for some reason I clicked on a post called, “Where Was God in That,” the other night.  http://heavenlyramblings.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/where-was-god-in-that/

This isn’t ultimately what I want to point out .. but why the title caught my eye:

I had just visited earlier that day, with a friend who had lost a child.

How many of us have looked at events in our lives .. Christ followers or not, and felt like were were terribly alone.  That God could not be present or this wouldn’t be happening. Or, there would at the very least, be some sort of a sign showing you the way past the pain and on through to better days.

We are so conditioned anymore to think pain doesn’t serve some valuable lessons, that our goal is to always just be happy.  And that if we’re not, to toss aside whatever it is and move onto whatever might be next.  There are actual wall hangings now for your home, magnets and cards everywhere promoting that belief.

We all know, life, death and the challenges we are presented with in-between, which include any and all relationships (spouse, being a parent, being a child of an aging parent, friendships, any of it) aren’t easy.

Where marriage is concerned, many unions are worth holding onto, fighting through the pain and frustration, watering the grass so to speak and bringing it back to life.  Others sometimes, as sad as it may be, we need to let go of, simply tear the whole thing up and try replanting.

I’m pretty sure at the lowest point in my own marriage and divorce, I was doing that.  Praying for signs that I wasn’t alone and on the right path.

Anyway .. I’m finally getting to the point here.  When I clicked on the blog post above, this happened to catch my eye in the margins of her webpage.  Especially because of the challenges many are facing around us .. and because the Cowboy and I and many others we know that have been through heartache or divorce wonder what we might do better in any current or future relationship.  Ring on the finger or not.

30 DAYS TO A BETTER MARRIAGE

http://seekinghiswill.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/30-days-of-encouragement-for-your-spouse/

……………

“Would you like to come to church with us,” we asked one of the couples we know that is struggling, via text Sunday morning.  We had been with this couple and a few other people Saturday night.  The evening ended with the party hosts/a married couple in a fight screaming ‘eff you’ endless to each other and the whole neighborhood to be quite honest, and one of them then kicking the whole group out in frustration we weren’t taking sides.

“We don’t do church.”  The text we received back.

I’m not trying to push religion on anyone here.  And I don’t know, that wherever you are at in a relationship, or life any of this will help.

What I do believe .. is that in an age where women especially are stronger, more outspoken, are told they shouldn’t bend, show weakness in the workplace or at home, are asked to take on more with family, community, at home and certainly not put up with less than 50/50 effort from a spouse or significant other, it can be tough to appreciate another person’s contributions to anything.  Because it may never seem enough.

In turn, how we speak to each other or about each other …. perhaps even we would cringe to hear at times.  (from the post.)  That’s all I’m saying perhaps we can give more thought to.   

All I know is 1.) I am always looking to do better, and this is probably an area where I could have done better in my own previous marriage.  I did the best I knew at the time, but I am always looking to better.

2.) Following the challenge mentioned in the post above – won’t make major marital problems disappear and it certainly won’t change some things.  This is just simply one area where it might be interesting to see if it helps your overall day to day.

3.) We also, all need some boundaries in terms of what is acceptable in terms of how we will be treated and communicate that to our families in an ongoing manner.  But how that is communicated ….

If you take away nothing else .. and I want this for my own daughter to think about years down the road when she may be in her own relationship as well as for myself because this can be applied forever across the board (job, parenting, friends, etc) .. but if anyone else might benefit from the thought here..

The challenge asks:  ”If all my family and friends knew about my husband/wife came from a filter of what I’ve said about him/her, what would they think?”  

Do you need to change the filter?  Do you talk positively about your husband/wife to others…or do you complain and criticize?  

Words should never “rejoice in iniquity.”  

Refrain (try it perhaps, for 30 days?) from listing your husband’s/wife’s faults to others.  Instead, present them before others today in a strong, positive manner.  Slip in a “good word” for your spouse.  Resist the urge to correct or belittle him/her in front of others.  Some of what you say may come back to them – May your speech always seasoned with grace.

A new text just came into my phone as I write this .. from one of the couples we know and hold dear that are struggling right now .. and that would be my wish for them.  That they find a way to better season, always, their words with grace.  In good times as well as when there is trouble.

It is also my wish and challenge for myself as a partner, as a mother, a daughter .. and a friend.

May we always find new and healthy ways to keep the grass green.