Happily Ever After Is Possible, but It Requires an Epic Journey

It’s happened again. Another couple we’ve known and loved announced the big D-Word: Divorce.

As a child raised in a nuclear family around other nuclear families, divorce was a word we heard on TV. It was almost akin to the cuss words my parents muted whilst watching films like “Hook.” Sure, I knew a few kids at school whose parents had split, but that wasn’t close. That wasn’t real.

As an adult, however, my perspective is quite different. Why? Well, frankly, because that ol’ D-Word has come up in conversation with my own spouse. As in, applied to us. As in, “What; do you want a divorce?”

Mature, I know.

Now, divorce is not always a villain. It is often a very good idea. I have a close friend for whom The Split was necessary for the welfare of herself and her children, and that was mostly from an emotionally abusive aspect.

In other cases, however, I can see it for what it is: giving up early.

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My husband and I know this because we chose to fix our relationship. We chose counseling, to try and follow the counseling, and to try to work on us every day. And believe me, it’s not like the movies. If we don’t do our ‘homework,’ the counselor’s advice does not work.

Countless hours and advice and helpful correction has helped enlighten me. I’ve realized that love goes through stages. From my own perspective, they are:

  1. The Honeymoon Stage. When you’re dating, flirting, or first married you don’t have to really try to love. I thought the husband and I didn’t have this going into marriage because we dated a while and knew each other pretty well. Believe me; we still did.
  2. I’m making these up, but I’d call this The First Itch. The wife sees an old friend or a new boss. Husband sees a hot young thing at the office. You’ve still got your good looks and vitality and someone else seems interested. You still love your spouse but the attention is sure flattering. And tempting.
  3. Mid-marriage slump. Remember when I said I didn’t think we had that first stage? I know we did, because we’ve entered this third period with definite feelings of dislike at times. The love that came naturally, the one that simmered in the background all the time -even while we had newlywed fights- is absent. Why? Because we are not trying to feel it.
  4. I’d guess that one or two other stages come next, like Midlife Crisis and Reconnection. I’m not positive since we’re not there yet.
  5. Acceptance and Mature Perspective. I think this is the age we all hope to get to, the one older couples are at. They’ve seen all the warts, moved past all the warts, and decided the warts are not what matters after all. They’re mature and their love is mature.

As the number of divorces climbs to a point of shrugged acceptance, I see patterns of behaviors in those who choose it. Most often the pattern is that one or both parties wants the constant feeling of Stage 1. When love isn’t exciting or doesn’t just happen any more, surely that means they are “out of love.” Surely that means “we just drifted apart” or “we realized we didn’t have much in common after all.”

I know an older couple who raised seven children together and went through a #2 Stage after #3. What happened? She forgave him. He repented, reformed, and is a much different husband to her now. They literally have little in common regarding shared interests but they sit by each other holding hands, each with his own set of headphones, each watching his own show on his own television.

Now that there is love.

C’mon, people. Try harder. Stop looking at Happily Ever After stories as fantasy. They’re not. You just may need to slay a few dragons or journey to find the lost stone before you’ll (again) win that princess.

It’s not easy. It’s not. You both have to work. You both have to know what’s most important. You both have to think a little bit about the future. I mean, do you really want to end up with only a trail of broken relationships to look back on; or do you want to share retirement (and possibly grandchildren) with a sweet, old person who understands you?

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Here’s what I wrote this past week:

Sunday, May 19: My procrastinating son inspired me to write “Special Projects Take a Lot of Time and Mess.”

Monday, May 20: Wrote “A Poem, I Think.

Tuesday, May 21: Shared a quote by James Baldwin.

Wednesday, May 22: Suggested fancifying your food for littles.

Thursday, May 23: “Don’t Forget Your…,” a snippet about my forgetful boys.

Friday, May 24: “Mom, What Can I Do?,” a post about taking a quick hour for your kids.

Saturday, May 25: Shared TwinzerDad‘s tweet about being an example, technically on Sunday.

Sunday, May 26: That’s today!

 

Photo Credits:
Henry Hustava
Hannah Busing
Marisa Howenstine

 

© 2019 Chelsea Owens

Special Projects Take a Lot of Time and Mess

“Mom?”

“Mmmm?”

“They’re voting for student officers at school and I want to run. I can spend $40 in materials and can give out gum and mints and need to make some posters.”

I eyed my oldest from my peripheral vision, so as to not crash into anything whilst driving. Trying not to panic him nor myself, I thought before phrasing a question. “Okay. And …when do you need to have them done?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe Friday.”

It was Wednesday. Given his usual record, that was a pretty long time to prepare.

“Okay. Well, I can’t buy you supplies right now. We need to get home and clean for your brother’s baptism this weekend.”

“That’s okay. I’ll have time.”

I wasn’t sure. He had a history of not only springing things on me the half hour before they were due, but also of completely breaking down over the inevitable failure from not being prepared. Fortunately for me (and him), whoever was in charge of the campaigning sent all parents of interested students an informative e-mail.

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Did I say “fortunately?” More like “indispensably.” For one thing, she said the materials were due Monday instead of Friday. For another, there were size requirements on posters and ….a campaign video.

Which is what he we have been working on since church this morning.

After a meltdown yesterday in which he yelled about not needing us to suggest campaign ideas but that he really just needed us to suggest campaign ideas, he came up with a Minecraft theme. Actually all on his own; he crafted a zombie, squid, villager, and slime poster with pun-laced slogans like, “Don’t be a Zombie, Vote For Me.”

He took my suggestion to use some of our thousands of Lego Minecraft sets to do a stop-motion video. His father is helping making the whole thing on the computer.

I am very proud of my son, but try to avoid special projects like this. When he (or his brothers) get the look and start discussing supplies and cost and what I need to do; I foresee the stress, yelling, meltdown, extra store trips, last-minute failures, and special project hangover when it’s all over.

I am frequently left -not only holding the bag; but buying the bag, filling it with expensive things we can’t reuse when most don’t get used, driving the bag to school when they accidentally leave it at home, and then cleaning up all the bag scraps left over the next day.

Yet… this is childhood. This is learning. This is trying and mistakes and all that important stuff I want my kids to learn.

Not that remembering those things makes the mess and the stress go away. What really makes it worth it is the other look: pride. It’s that look that lights up my kid’s face, even subtly, when he surveys what he has done. It’s when he smiles with a sense of accomplishment.

Having him clean up afterwards is a nice perk, too. We’ll do that as well. Probably Tuesday.

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Sunday, May 12: Shared a previously-written bit on Mother’s Day: “Happy Mother’s Day?

Monday, May 13: Trotted out a short poem titled, “Just a Little Housework.”

Tuesday, May 14: Shared a quote I found online.

Wednesday, May 15: A toast! -to toast with “Breakfast Tip 3.

Thursday, May 16: “Time Out!,” a snippet setting the ‘punishment’ record straight.

Friday, May 17: Reminisced on Pregnant Times and how we ought to lay off ourselves in “Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself.

Saturday, May 18: Shared WTFDAD‘s tweet about scary(?) stories.

Sunday, May 19: That’s today!

Photo Credits:
Annie Spratt
Samuel Zeller

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens