Christianity, Communication, Emotional Health, Faith, Family, Marriage, Prayer, Recovery, Relationships, Trust, Uncategorized

A Few Ground Rules…

A line of thunderstorms came through last night while we were sleeping. Our Catahoula, Jameson, assumed his “thunder” position in the corner. Jameson is one of our rescues (although we’re not sure who rescued who) and spent his first nineteen months in the shelter. I’m so happy that the Humane Society of North Texas is a “no-kill” shelter. I’m sure they kept him all those months because he was waiting for him to come home to us. Still, I can only imagine what it must’ve been like for him when thunderstorms came through: the cacophony of barking and howling reverberating off the concrete floors and walls. I’d probably be a little nervous, too.

The rain is absolutely, positively wonderful. I don’t care if I’ll spend the rest of the day mopping up dirty paw prints. We haven’t had a good rain in a while now. Not only did my garden need it, our A/C did as well. It’s had a well-deserved break this morning. I’m not looking forward to our electric bill this month.

So, the heat relief came and I was quite comfortable as I sat on the porch this morning. I enjoyed the day more than I have in the last few weeks. I spent time with my lovely wife, followed by a long phone call with my sister in Georgia. Life doesn’t get much better than that…

Sometimes my time on the porch is nothing more than a time to reconnect with the people in life. It’s also a chance to think about absolutely nothing. The days when nothing’s happening are some of the most treasured days I can have. My wife and I will often sit in silence together, each lost in our own little world, but somehow together. One of the greatest pleasures in our life is being able to enjoy each other’s company without having to fill it with meaningless conversation and noise. I’ve always been envious of couples that were able to speak volumes without saying a word.

I know it was soon after Margaret and I had been dating when I felt a need to lay down some communication ground rules for our relationship. I told her that there were a couple of things she needed to know about me to avoid any hurt feelings or seeming disinterest through any miscommunication. First, if she asked me what I was thinking, and I replied nothing, then I was actually thinking, “nothing”. I really mean it! Science may argue that it’s impossible for anyone not to be thinking something, but believe me – it is absolutely, positively possible for me not to be thinking about anything at all. So, ladies trust me on this, men can be completely mentally blank at times. It’s nothing personal. It just is what it is…

Secondly, I told Margaret that if I were to ask her how it’s going, and she replied, “okay”, then I’m going assume she’s telling me the truth and everything is okay. Since I’m not a mind reader I’m going to take her at her word. I trust her. If there’s something going on and she’s not ready to talk about it all she has to do is say so. I can be patient and go about life until she’s had time to process whatever is going on. I won’t lie and tell you this is easy. There are times when this is difficult: I am, by nature, a “fixer”. I think most men are. It’s hard to watch someone we love deal with something and we can’t do anything about it right now. I made the commitment to her that I would allow her the space and time she needs for herself because I trust her implicitly.

Margaret and I have been married for five and a half years and those two ground rules work well for us. We’re not perfect by any means, but we just don’t have very many spats (even little ones) because both of us practice these simple rules as best as we can. Maybe we can practice them because we were both in our fifties and had been single for so long before we started dating. It’s hard to play the dating games as you get older. You get more direct and to the point, especially when you don’t “need” anyone to make you feel like a whole human being. I have a friend that says, “One times one equals one, but fractions just don’t add up the same”. I know what he means. Believe me…

We have a good marriage. Notice I said “good”, not perfect. Then again, that’s what the Creator said when he looked down at the Earth and all of creation, “It is good”, not perfect. That tells me we’re on the right track. There’s still times when I wish it didn’t take Margaret so long to process her thoughts and feelings about something. Patience isn’t always my strong point. If I’m honest with myself, it’s still easy for me to become self-centered and think her feelings are all about me when they may be about something going on with one of the kids or with a friend. There are times when I want her, as with many issues in my life, to just “get it over with” because I need to find resolution. I still want to know outcomes long before I need to know them. I’m still able to drive myself crazy with all the unlikely scenarios running through my head. I just want to “know” what’s going on. As my friend Edgar always likes to remind me, “What do you know when you know?” Fortunately, we share the core value of faith in a loving God and it doesn’t take near as long to get out of self-centeredness and back to letting God run the show. That seems to work better for all involved. Go figure…

I know the rules sound silly, but they work for us. We’ve have learned to keep it simple and that may not work for everyone else. The rules work so well because we trust one another. We trust each other because we learned to trust ourselves. We learned to trust ourselves by learning to trust the loving God to whom we surrendered to. If he has our back it’s become pretty, darn easy to look out for, and love one another, the way he loves us.

I know it’s only been five-and-a-half years, but I’m beginning to realize that we share the same thing as all those old couples I used to be so envious of. The irony is that I always thought I had to work so hard for happiness, but the reality is that when I quit working for it, I received it in abundance. Now I get to share it with the love of my life and sometimes I don’t even have to say anything at all…

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