Traditions Of Love

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Valentine’s Day elicits strong feelings in people – positive and negative.  There’s the V-Day haters (who’ve had bad relationships or feel pressure because they aren’t currently in a relationship), and the V-Day lovers, (who go about annoying all the haters by declaring how wonderful love is).

I confess, I’m in the lover group, and I live with a romantic man (Mr. Romantic), so there’s no ignoring V-Day even if I wanted to.  Which I don’t.  So sue me.  I believe in love.

Nevertheless, I haven’t always been happy in love, nor have all my relationships been good.  Some have been pretty darn awful, and I’ve put in my time feeling irritated with the whole February 14th “rubbing my nose in it” day!

Plus, as I’ve said before, I think our modern Valentine’s Day is harder than ever on couples (see Love Is Harder Online).

But all that aside…  does anyone even know how this red-filled, expensive card, long-stemmed roses, dinner out, pressure to express our love event even started?

According to the “experts” (whatever that means), apparently not!

Ask most people and they’ll tell you it’s because of Saint Valentine.  But did you know there was more than one Saint Valentine?  I sure didn’t.  Until I looked it up.  No one seems 100% certain which saint it was.  Not to mention that the stories of how it all started are just that… legends… about priests performing forbidden weddings, doing miraculous healings, and spreading the gospel of Christ.

Then there’s the folk traditions and various customs that link Saint Valentine’s with the advent of spring.  One earth-type version has Saint Valentine doing something mystical with the roots of plants, and causing the season’s new growth.

They weren’t all priests either… there’s a ‘Jack’ Valentine that left sweet treats for children at their back doors.  Not sure why he did this, but apparently the kids were scared of him.

My favorite story is that Valentine’s day is when the birds sing songs of love to each other, pick their forever mates and get married.  S-tweet!

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in lots of countries around the world, by lots of different names with lots of different legends and stories.

It’s not all just about romantic love either.

In fact, romance didn’t seem to be the main focus in most of the origins surrounding the celebrations.  Even now, not every country relates the day with romance.

Some interesting facts, according to Wikipedia:

Estonia and Finland translate Valentine’s Day into “Friends Day”.  It’s about showing your friends how much you appreciate them.  In Iran, it’s a festival that combines a celebration of the earth with love towards mothers and wives.

Valentine’s Day is illegal in Saudi Arabia, because it’s seen as a distinctly Christian holiday, not sanctioned by Islam.  The ban has created a black market there for V-Day shop items, like roses.

The countries that spend the most on Valentine’s Day are China, South Korea, and Singapore.

Sadly, much of the local customs and origins of V-Day are being lost around the world, as the westernized, commercialized version of Valentine’s Day spreads and trumps a lot of the original celebrations.  Still, it’s clear that Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love.

It’s about LOVE, period.  Religious love.  Love of nature.  Love of family and friends.

Just LOVE.

I definitely think that’s something to celebrate!


Mr. Romantic

marcussen family wedding photo

Hubby and I just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary together.  We celebrated by painting the kitchen window and front door (one of those shades of white).

As of this post, it’s already been two days since our anniversary, which means I can no longer remember whether we even went out to dinner or anything.  We may have had Taco Bell.

Friends and family wished us a happy anniversary on FB, and we were tagged in one of our wedding photos which showed up online.  (That’s me in my Kelly green wedding dress.)

All in all, it was more fanfare than I usually think to give to our anniversary.

It’s not that I’m not happy with Hubby.  I am.  Very.  I think we have true love.

People tell me I’m lucky to have a husband like him and I think they’re right.  He is, after all:  handsome, friendly, kind, forgiving, and lenient.  That may seem like a strange list of attributes for the perfect husband, but personally I think that’s the right kind of man to have.  (If you had to live with me you’d probably tack on a few more of those “lenient”.)

And then there are those poppy-blue colored eyes….. sigh.  But when it comes to romance, we are complete opposites.

I can only take so much of all that mush.  Hubby, on the other hand, is over the top.

I’m glad I have a husband who remembers every anniversary, birthday, first date, etc.  I’ve heard plenty of stories from women who would give anything to have a man who brings them flowers regularly, wants to hold their hand wherever they go, tells them they’re beautiful when they’re wearing paint splattered clothes or haven’t brushed their teeth yet.  (Hubby does all of those things.)  But a little goes a long way for me.

I try to think more romantically for him.  It ain’t easy.

Like, once, we were in the bookstore and I saw him reading a book about putting more romance in your life (as if!).  A few days later I was drinking an iced tea when something caught in my throat.  I started choking, and up came a little piece of paper.

“What the hell is this?”  I said.

“Read it,” he replied.

So I did.  I don’t remember what it said, but the gist was that Hubby had frozen little love notes in the ice cube tray.  Something he’d read in that fool book.  He had that tender look of love in his eyes and expectant smile on his lips.  I think I was supposed to tell him how romantic that was.  Instead I belted out – “You could’ve killed me!” – then spent the next half hour apologizing and trying to sooth his hurt feelings.

There was the Easter season that Hubby hid a dozen long-stemmed carnations for me to find.  Instead of an Easter egg hunt, it was a flower hunt.  (Okay.  I have to confess.  I kind of liked that one.)  Still, I would’ve been just as happy with one green egg.

Luckily, I have to say, that after 22 years he’s gotten used to me.  So on our anniversary I was getting the supplies together for us to paint.  I was annoyed because he was procrastinating, wanting to spend a few minutes time going down memory lane and talking about our wedding.

“You know,” he said.  “I’m so glad we got married.  I’m totally happy with you.”

“Well, whoop-de-do,” I replied.  “Let’s get this window done.”

He laughed and we got down to work.  Later, when we were sitting at the table surveying our handiwork, my earlier response seemed funny to me too and I thought about writing this post.

I knew Hubby never signed on to our computer.  I don’t think he knows how.  He doesn’t read my blog.  He doesn’t have a FB account.  He doesn’t text.  Computers aren’t really a big part of his life.  As far as his days are concerned, what happens online isn’t part of the real world.

Still, our family and friends ARE online.  They can see what I write about him.  I wondered if I was being fair to him, or doing something he’d rather I didn’t do.  If that was the case, I’d respect his wishes.  So I asked him.

“Now that I write that blog I find I put a lot of our conversations into my posts,” I said.  “You’ve become one of my favorite subject matters.”

“Uh-huh.”  He stood to go into the other room.

“How do you feel about that?” I asked.

“Whoop-de-do,” he answered, as he disappeared from view.

Ah… true love.


The Light Of My Light

Aside from God, Hubby is the light of my life.  He’s entertaining, lovable, kind, and intelligent.  I think he’s just about perfect for me.  But he’s also plain weird!

Are all guys like him?  Or is it just mine?  Since I grew up in a household of all women (Dad excluded… but he’s Dad, he doesn’t count, does he?), I really can’t say with any certainty that Hubby is the typical example of manhood.  If he is, then we women must all be having a great laugh in the locker room, exchanging the funny antics that our devoted others have done.

Here’s some facts to back up my opinion:

We both made “bucket lists” one day.  I sweated over mine.  I listed things like – financial gains, see Switzerland, write another book, organize my whole house, learn another language, travel west with my sisters and see the redwood trees, and take another cruise.

Hubby sat and thought for quite a while before finally completing his very short bucket list:

1)  Wash and wax car and take pictures of her.

2)  Eat more tapioca pudding.

 

Then there were his 2013 Resolutions (which I recently found while cleaning files):

1) Cut down my lying to my wife by 33.333%, and

2) Spend my loose change (coins).

 

Now, it was my suggestion that he try to stop lying to me by at least a third, but he didn’t stop there…. at thebottom of his list he put an asterisk!  It said, “Note:  Resolutions are subject to change without notice.”

Another story… One night, Hubby and I were playing cards with the neighbor lady from next door.  It was just the three of us and we were playing Rummy 500.  If you’ve ever played Rummy 500, you know the object of the game is to keep playing hands until someone reaches the winning score, which is 500.

This particular night we started the game late, so Hubby, neighbor and I decided that we would each keep our own scores, but quit when someone reached 300.  We each had a little piece of paper that we used and – verbally – compared our totals after each hand.  The game ended when Hubby announced that he had won.  It was a fun game and we all had a good time, so there were no hard feelings or anything, but when I collected the pieces of paper from everyone I couldn’t believe what his score card looked like.  The neighbors score card and mine looked much the same.  Here is my score card:

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Here is Hubby’s:

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Now I ask you, how does he even know he won?  It was hilarious, and we all got a good laugh out of it.

I have a friend who once told me this story about her husband, which would kind of bear out my theory about the locker room antic exchange:

Her husband went up on the roof to clean something off.  Once he was done, he didn’t have the nerve to come back down the ladder, so he sat down on the edge of the roof and called for her.  She came out, appraised the situation and asked what she could do to help.

“Get me a beer,” he said.

So my friend went and fetched him a beer.  She went far enough up the ladder to hand it to him, then came back down and watched him drink it.

He said, “I think I need another one.”

So my friend fetched him a second beer and watched him drink that.  Then her husband sat there for a bit, and finally said, “I think I can do it now.”  And down the ladder he came.

This was the same husband that accidentally nailed himself shut in the attic one day, and then yelled for her to hurry and get the neighbor to help him get out, because he had to go to the bathroom.  (Just for the record… this friend is okay with the sharing of this story).

Hubby is such an entertaining part of my life that I felt he deserved an award of some kind.  So for Valentine’s Day this year, I agreed to let him post the picture of his first girlfriend on our fridge.  Her name was Sabrina.  Here is her picture:

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What about all of you?  Are there any women out there anxious to share some funny antics that their husbands have done?

Oh yeah, and about that 33.333%.  I am happy to report that Hubby has kept that resolution.  Sort of.  He now lies to me, gets a funny look on his face (because he knows I know he’s lying), and then changes his story to the truth.

Men.  Gotta love ’em.


Love Is Harder Online

valentine from chris

Valentine’s Day has been getting a lot of blog interest this week, much of it sweet and sentimental, but not all of it is happy.  Lot’s of V-Day haters out there, lots of disillusioned couples.  V-Day can be stressful for many, it seems.

One of the blogs I follow is written by a young woman who re-posted some previous V-Day articles she’s written.  The raw emotion of it lead me to read some of her previous posts and, to summarize, her husband had (in not-too-previous times) sent a love note of sorts to his ex-girlfriend through Facebook.  Apparently, no other contact (meaning physical) has come of it and the ex-girlfriend has made it clear she’s no longer interested.  But he got caught (the idiot), by forgetting to sign off his account before leaving his computer.

Well, the good news is, they’ve gotten through the worst of it.  The bad news is, the pain he’s caused his wife is all online, for anyone to read.  Anyone, meaning me, of course.

Reading the bleeding pain of this young woman, and probably being a bit sympathetic to the young man as well (his distressed emotions were also apparent), brought home to me the reality of what it’s like to be married in this day and age of love online.

Kids (please forgive me for sounding old here, by referring to anyone younger than 40 as “kids”), but kids today live in a world that my generation never had to.  They live public.  Their world is broadcast “live”.

Those black words printed on screen or comments on Facebook aren’t necessarily “real” to us oldsters, we don’t automatically think of them as real life.  We know better.  Or, at least, we think we do.  But to the kids, that IS real life, and rightly so that they should feel that way.  Just as we were raised to see things Pre-Facebook, they were raised with their lives public from the very beginning.  Or at least, in this young woman’s case, early enough in their brief time here to have encrusted a solid weight of importance on their shoulders.

What a horrible burden to bear.  For not only are romances begun online, but the whole of their relationship as well.  How many couples meet online?  How many videos are posted of extravagant, or funny weddings?  Morning sickness is tweeted, and marital infidelity is shared among all the victims friends, relatives, and perfect strangers.  Like me.  I’m a perfect stranger.  (Well, not so perfect).

The thing is, it’s not just marriage that is online in this crazed, electronic madness we call social media…. the whole messy divorce happens online as well.

As anyone who’s been married longer than 10 years can tell you,  the reason very old, married couples frequently look like life-long soul mates, isn’t because they’ve had 60 years of wedded bliss.  It’s because they’ve had 60 years!  Those first years of marriage are a bitch for a lot of couples.  The husband (or wife) still having issues with ex’s isn’t something new, and infidelity didn’t originate on Facebook.  Hanky-panky has been around before God wiped out most of mankind with the great flood.  Pretty much no-sooner than there were more than two people on this earth, someone’s eyes started to wander, and gossip became the mainstay of people’s entertainment from the moment it began.  Albeit, the world was a smaller place then (John Henry messing around with the mayor’s daughter had a smaller audience), but the problems existed even then.

Choosing to live with one man/woman for the rest of your life is a hard thing to do!  That’s why doing it (over and over for 60 years) is how you get better at it.  You get to a point where you learn to adjust to each other, ride the bumps, and hold on for dear life through the darkness.  Depend on each other.  Developing trust.

Practice really does help.

Some people call this “settling”.  They are wrong.  There is no deeper love than the one that develops though tolerance, and need, and forgiveness.  Through life.

In the case of my young couple, as I write this, the wife has developed some health issues (also online) which seems to have drawn her and her husband closer.  They have been married for only a few years.  They have many, many hills and valley’s ahead of them, but I have hope.  From what I’ve read so far, they’re committed to making it work.  They’ve put their commitment to each other ahead of their wounds, wondering if the band aid of dedication will be able to heal their pierced bond.

I think they can do it.  Certainly it seems that I’ll be able to find out, simply by signing in to my computer.  I thank God that my marriage began in a smaller world.

To this couple I say:  Hang in there.  Keep fighting for love.  And when those dark, scary nights envelop you, and the fear of not making it looms in your mind, remember that old cliché about how it’s always darkest before the dawn?  That’s not just a cliché.  That’s a promise from God.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.  (Psalm 5:3)