A Friend’s Frightening Loss and Reflection

There’s something that’s really been messing with my head. I recently reconnected with Susan on Facebook; she was someone I grew up with but hadn’t seen since graduation. Back in those days we didn’t have cell phones or social media. Letters and expensive long-distance phone calls were it and it was easy to lose touch with people. But now, the 21st century…what a time to be alive!

Anyway, last week Susan posted some photos and a love letter mentioning how had it had be two months since her husband John — her soulmate and high school sweetheart — had passed away. Cancer. Seems that it’s always cancer, doesn’t it? Sigh.

John, Susan and I all graduated high school together; we’re the same age. Fifty. What’s given me pause is that I’ve reached the age where friends and spouses are going to start passing away, and that scares the bejesus out of me. Death is natural, and I know friends will die, but losing MY spouse is what scares me most. Losing MY soulmate. The thought alone is almost more than I can bear. The grief and loneliness would be excruciating. But also, half my memories would die.

Jack and I have more than 32 years under our belts at this point, and we  joke that he holds half the memories and I hold the other half. When we reminisce about life events, we each remember different parts thus bringing the recollection to a whole. We truly are one another’s “other half.” What if my other half was no longer with me? What would happen to half our experiences? Half my memories? Half my life? Losing Jack is one of the most frightening things that could happen.

It’s too much to consider.

So instead, I’ve decided I need to remind myself daily that it truly is important to live every moment to its fullest. We all say it. We all see the motivational memes. But it’s true. Life is precious. Eventually one spouse will outlive the other and when the time comes, there should be no regrets. I don’t want Jack or myself to think we should have loved harder, lived better or laughed more. If you’re still reading, I ask that you please do the same. Love your family like it’s your job and demand the same of those close to YOU. Because, you just never know…


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Monkeys Never Learn

Some time ago Jack and I watched a rerun of “Everybody Loves Raymond” on cable TV. I don’t have the slightest idea what that episode was about, but the punchline we took away was, “Monkeys never learn.” It involved a story about a monkey who kept doing…something or other…over and over, resulting in Ray’s declaration that “Monkeys never learn.”

I’ve seen plenty of animal behavior shows where monkeys are learning a whole lot, but the story and punchline were amusing and stuck with Jack and me. We use that line occasionally while noting that some people never learn or change their behavior in certain situations – yet they wonder why the outcome never changes. Maybe it’s a teenager who keeps disobeying the household rule and wonders why she is always in trouble. Or perhaps it’s an employee who isn’t following protocol and wonders why he doesn’t get that promotion. It might even be couples who feel their relationship is stagnant while not doing anything to spice it up. Or maybe there’s a continual argument among partners that never gets resolved because the same tactics are being used to battle it out.

Monkeys never learn.

I’m not saying this to be mean. I know full well that monkeys can learn. I’m saying this to point out the fact that the same-old-same-old doesn’t work. Whether it’s within the family dynamic, a job, or a marriage, take a different approach to the situation.

Let’s look at your marriage. Go ahead, we don’t judge. Do you keep fighting about chores? Money? Issues with the children? Sleeping patterns? Working too much? Someone is less than attentive? Whatever the case, try a different approach the next time the issue comes up. Are you a screamer? Think of calm way to sit down and talk. Are you too calm? Maybe it’s time to ruffle some feathers with a big demand. Are your thoughts scattered and you feel you can’t communicate your needs? Write ‘em down and makes notes about each. Do you just clam up and cry? Stop! You’ve got to let it out. Maybe writing it down will help you as well.

Whatever the case, take a look inside and figure out a different way. Be honest with yourself. How can you alter the way to argument goes? I like to think of this as fight strategizing. (Fightigizing?!) Plan how you want to have an argument or a discussion before it happens. Maybe while things are going well, talk about how you should disagree in the future. Come up with a safe word to stop the fight perhaps. Maybe you should take turns speaking your mind for 5 minutes each rather than shouting over one another. Figure out a way to put your partner in your shoes, and vice versa.

What do you think? What works for you? What have you learned, my little monkey? 😉 Drop us a line if you need some help:  thatbloggers@gmail.com

Check in again because Jack and I want to discuss that little thing I mentioned a few paragraphs back…spicing things up!


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Going Through the Bad Stuff to Get to the Good

We’ve been through a lot of stuff in our marriage. We don’t compare it to other peoples’ stuff because everyone’s stuff is hard for them, and generally unfair, and sometimes really, really shitty. What you take away from the bad stuff is how you keep the marriage together and improve upon it. Repairing the stuff or taking a different approach to the stuff can make or break a marriage.

We almost broke the marriage several times.

We’re not proud of it, and the near-breaks weren’t pretty. They were downright ugly. Ugly yelling, ugly crying, ugly screaming, ugly throwing. And not just for a few hours. Days, and days, and more days. Jack was at the point of apartment shopping and Jenny was calculating school zoning vs. housing options. We were ready to split money, furniture, kitchenware, cars, electronics, family, the works.

Something happened at the end of each of those near-breaks that stopped the full-on break. Or maybe we were just too damn exhausted to keep fighting. Whatever the case, we managed to find a calm spot and TALK. Not yelling or screaming, but TALK. We’d talk about the argument itself and what led up to it. We’d drag out all the issues we’d been storing away in our closet of marital stuff and examine them. Each time begging the other to understand, pleading with each other to put the shoe on the other foot. It was during these moments when we realized how important our marriage was (IS!!) to us.

And along with the talking came the listening, which developed into compromising and improving. {And eventually to some pretty awesome make-up sex!}

Are we living the perfect unicorn-n-rainbows marriage? Probably not, because, hey, nothing’s perfect. But, we’re learning. Jack works on his own personal stuff and Jenny works on her stuff. Once we were honest about our feelings during those times of exhausted near-breaking talks, we found we could understand one another and work on change. Change our selves and change the dynamics of the marriage.

Fighting sucks and it can be utterly devastating, there’s no doubt about it. For us, it’s probably the single most unpleasant aspect of marriage. But maybe for our type of marriage, we needed to trudge through the bad stuff and look at the possibility of life apart in order to come back to the good stuff. To find the sparkle. To remember the love. To get on with the joy.

Fixing our marriage and moving on is why we decided to start a blog. We’re fighters – literally and figuratively. We can go from zero to loathing in under a minute, but getting back to that calm zone takes work. Been there, done that! We want to show others that struggles don’t have to be the end. A marriage can’t function in a constant state of upheaval, we acknowledge that. But we want to share our experiences, ideas, work, advice, and…stuff.

Our free advice to you in your relationships = lay all your shit out on the table and start picking through it. Don’t hold in your feelings until you explode. Be fair and kind to each other. Remember why you fell in love. Work as hard as you can to get back to your happy place.

Thanks for reading! We hope you stick with us, ask questions, send emails. We’ll continue to share and we hope you do, too.

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