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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

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Sometimes I find myself studying couples and wondering what on earth brought the two of them together. I’m talking about those couples who outwardly appear so completely mismatched you wonder how they ever found a common path. We’ve all seen such unlikely pairs. He may be very tall with lanky dimensions, slightly balding, with a quiet, almost shy demeanor. She, a diminutive woman of generous proportions with masses of wild ginger hair and vibrantly colored lips which never stop moving. Yet, somehow like the smooth ocean waves caressing the rough edges off coarse grains of sand they pair together in a perfect dance.

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The mating dance in some form or another occurs in all creatures on earth except those who produce asexually such as starfish and sea anemones. Thankfully, with humans, it takes two to tango. And, whether we tango or foxtrot, in nearly every species it is the male tasked with making the first move. For some creatures, such as the male black widow spider, this privilege may come with questionable rewards. Once the deal is consummated, the object of his affection then kills and eats him. To my mind not much incentive to be in a hurry to fill a spot on Saturday night.

For me, one of the more magical of these mating displays are fireflies. I saw my first firefly in the backyard of my home in St. Albans, West Virginia in 1991. Spring had merged into summer in the Mountain State. Humid in that part of the country, the new season brought with it hot sultry days followed by restless sweat filled nights. The ceiling fan pushed the hot air around in the kitchen while I finished cleaning up after dinner. Thankfully there was a window over the sink allowing a breeze to sift in through the screen. The kitchen was situated towards the rear of the building facing the back yard. Beyond the house the lawn faded into an alleyway where a line of scruffy shrubs separated the alley from the railroad tracks. Fascinated I watched as a sea of  twinkling lights began to flicker above the shrubbery like a thousand Tinkerbells signalling for Peter Pan.  I called my husband. Growing up in Texas he was somewhat amused at my reaction because because fireflies were a familiar sight for him. This lovely display, he explained, was the male insects signalling they had their tap shoes on and were ready to dance should a so inclined female be in the area. Absolutely one of the most enchanting natural phenomena I have witnessed. Never, in the three years I lived there did I tire of seeing these tiny beacons as the sun settled down for the evening.

As I said in the first paragraph, the interesting part for me is not that we pick partners. We are, after all, programmed to procreate. Rather I am fascinated by the partners we pick. Sometimes in the logical scheme of things on the surface our partnering seems to make perfect sense. Beautiful runway model marries equally beautiful football quarterback, or a doctor elopes with his nurse. You’d think when like meets like, it should create a perfect pairing. However, look how many of these perfect pairings end up seated next to their high priced lawyers arguing over who is going to get the Lamborghini in their property settlement? Perhaps our need to mate coupled with our inability to delineate the right person from the wrong one has to do with the high divorce rate in this country? Most of us spend more time researching the best vehicle for our needs before driving it off the lot then we do choosing people we are planning to commit a lifetime to. Certainly I am guilty of this. You don’t get married four times if you’ve chosen well the first time.

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My last relationship, undeniably my best and longest, was with a man I had little in common with. Rick and I met on Matchmaker.com. My profile was number 227 on his list of compatible ladies. After attempting several meetings with the more probable candidates that lit no fires for the parties concerned, he told me he kept returning to look at my profile again.  After our first date which was a hockey game and video arcade we were rarely apart. During our twenty years together we looked forward to seeing each other every day, enjoyed lively conversations about everything, laughed often, and rarely shared a harsh word.

Conversely, sometimes a pairing that outwardly seems not to be working, might actually be moving along swimmingly for those involved. Take the couple married forty years who haven’t agreed on anything since they said “I do”. Some people communicate best when bickering with one another. For me, I enjoy a little spirited debate though constant arguing would have me running for the door. “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”.

Rick and I were as unalike as Kim Kardashian and Mother Teresa. He was born in Cairo, Egypt, while I was raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Rick’s palate leaned toward heady exotic foreign flavors whereas I was weaned on orange marmalade, New England style boiled dinners, and poached salmon. Over the years each of us bent toward the other, learning to embrace what each brought to the table. One night a month we celebrated “eeewwee night”, a night where each of us cooked our own meals featuring something the other didn’t enjoy eating. For Rick it was usually organ meat such as liver or kidneys which I prefer to pass on. For me scallops or a fat juicy hamburger which weren’t on his list of favorites.

Food issues can easily be compromised. However, there are some key areas that absolutely need to be discussed before prior to booking a venue for the nuptials. Areas like children, yes or no?  If one player wants a big family where the other prefers living life footloose and fancy free this can create huge roadblocks down the road. Making a decision on whether or not to have offspring is not like saying one prefers abstract paintings in the living room while the other is partial to country chic. Deciding whether or not to have children affects your life now and in the years to come. For the partner who wants children but denies themselves the opportunity, this could build resentment, as it may as well for the partner who has children without having the desire to do so.

Religious preferences could possibly also be a touchy area, as well as political differences. Politics can be difficult if you sit on opposite sides of the fence because it often reflects an ideology that is totally different from the other person. I have even heard of couples breaking up over which football team they supported.

It always makes my heart sad to see couples probably together for many years, seated across from one another in a restaurant not exchanging a single word. Being a communicator myself, this lack of sharing would drive me over the edge of boredom and far far away. I often wonder if they simply have run out of things to say to one another, though God knows the world offers up a vast array of things to discover together, or if at some point they simply stopped caring enough to try. At that point I believe I would either do something proactive to change the dynamics, or throw in the towel and go down to the local shelter and adopt a kitten. I would most certainly prefer my own company and an occasional lonely moment. Nothing more miserable than being lonely together.

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So I continue to explore the coupling experience. At this stage of my life I find I am very clear on what I want and what I do not. Rick, who passed away last September, will always be in heart and memories and for now that is enough. Each person who touches your life leaves a bit of their story with you and you with them. Should someone come along as I continue along my way then we shall see then how my story ends.

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Watching Good Morning America over the brim of my coffee cup yesterday, I listened while Joe Manganiello discussed the history of his romance with then-girlfriend now-wife Sofia Vergara. Sofia, for those of you who have lived on a desert island with no media access since 2009, portrays the curvaceous hot younger wife of Ed O’Neill on Modern Family on prime time ABC.

Manganiello was asked if there was any truth to the rumor he’d written a forty page book dedicated to his lovely lady. He acknowledged in fact he had created such a book to mark the occasion of the anniversary of their first date. Really? No, I mean it, really? First, amazingly he knew what date they first met, and secondly he’d conceived such a personal and lovely way to show his love for her. Insert awwwww right here ladies. Go ahead, I’m right behind you. During that first year he created a photo journal documenting their travels, where they ate, evenings they shared, events they attended and included all these moments in her gift. Wow. I’m seeing a gold star in his future and much, much more.

Women, at least those who populate my life, love a little romance. A continual diet would be delightful but historically, at least in my world, a whiff here and there can get one by. I have found quite often the overtly romantic overtures get tossed out with the wilted flowers following the exchange of wedding vows or linger on in a paler shade until the first diaper is purchased at Walmart. After that day-to-day life tends to insinuate itself and romance often takes a back seat to bills, work, school, rearing children, taking the dog to the vet and generally everything else that fills the average person’s day.

Romance does not have to come with a high price. Surely in the tax bracket Joe Manganiello’s income falls under the man could afford to give his bride an extravagant vehicle or an obscenely large diamond. Instead, he chose to present her with a gift that took time, thought, and creativity. To me, this is a far richer gift to receive. However, if you’ve put a down payment on my metallic silver Porsche I’ll still accept delivery. Who am I to hurt anyone’s feelings.

I consider myself a low maintenance girl. Rick might tell a different tale, but I don’t think so. Many times while writing this blog I’ve talked about missing the princess line when coming into this world. Some women get handed a tiara before heading down the chute. In my case it was a Hoover and a can of furniture spray. Once after I had surgery I took a picture of my ex-husband vacuuming. When on my feet again I had the picture blown up and framed thinking this to be the only way I was ever going to see him doing it again. Turns out my intuition I was spot on.

There are many ways to show your love not involving a trip to the mall or a shopping spree on-line. A happily married neighbor recently commented on weekends her husband brings her coffee and her paper and on Sunday serves her brunch. Small concessions perhaps, but speaking of them made her smile.

After you’ve cohabited for a while the rules of the game tend to loosen a bit. Once you’re not working anymore these rules become downright loosey goosey. When we first met Rick would show up at my door in a crisply pressed shirt and pants for a night out. In turn, I would open the door wearing perhaps a dress and heels or an outfit appropriate for the occasion and off we would go. Living together day in and day out makes continuing this “dressing up” unless you are going to work every day a bit impractical. No way am I whisking eggs in a silk blouse nor am I chasing dust bunnies from behind the toilet in heels and hose. Not going to happen today, and tomorrow isn’t looking good either.

Don’t misunderstand me I don’t show up at the breakfast table looking as if I have recently been dragged behind a speeding vehicle either. Each morning, unless I’m ill, I put on makeup, do my hair, take a shower, and pull on a clean pair of jeans or shorts and a nice top. Every several weeks we also make a point to go out together and do something fun away from the persistently ringing phone and the household day-to-day. Always when we come home I feel refreshed and our relationship feels refreshed as well.

It’s easy to sink into a rut. Takes some work to keep the bloom on the rose and time to keep a relationship thriving and happy.

When you think about it stopping to pick up on a card when it isn’t a holiday (even better making one yourself), throwing together an unexpected brunch on a weekend, or simply acknowledging how much your appreciate your partner really isn’t asking much.

This fish is moist and delicious.

Baked Tilapia with Cherry Tomatoes

4 Tilapia filets
1/2-1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. butter cut into 12 squares
1 container of heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced thick or in half
2 zucchini cut lengthwise in thin spears
1 lemon sliced thin
2 tsp. chives
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lay out four squares of tin foil large enough to make a taco shaped pocket. Pat filets dry with paper towel. Generously season on both sides with Cajun seasoning (more or less depending on preference), pepper, and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Place one filet in center of each foil square. Place 3 butter squares on top of each filet. Top this with one-quarter of the tomatoes and the zucchini. Place a slice or two of lemon on each pile and sprinkle each with 1/2 tsp. of chopped chives. Drizzle a little olive oil on top of each.

Seal the foil bringing up the edges like a taco making sure to seal edges firmly. Bake in oven for 20 mins. Open carefully and plate.

Serves 4

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The royal wedding looming on the horizon, has brought my mind to weddings in general. I was just a few months short of nineteen when I first took the plunge.  My fiance proposed eleven days after we met.  As I was my mother’s “only chick” she was duly traumatized, and, probably if I hadn’t been of age, would have handed me over to the nuns at a local convent. However, my mind was set so we began to plan a wedding. 

I often think of those times.  It seemed all my friends were getting engaged (we got married younger back in the day) and I found myself either hosting a shower for one of them or going to one hosted for me.  A good deal of my free time was spent making wedding dresses out of toilet paper and ladling punch into a cup. Being incredibly young and idealistic, I don’t think I allowed a thought to enter my head about whether or not I was making a wise decision.  For the brides-to-be in my little group it was all about finding the perfect dress, chosing the flowers, selecting the attendants, wedding invitations, guest lists, and, oh yes, the grooms, in that order.  Smile.  Poor guys, you had to feel bad for them, basically they were there to create balance at the altar and provide a dance partner to their new wives at the reception. In their defense, I would hazard a guess that the majority of men could care less whether a dinner plate has fleur-de-lis or caterpillars doing the two-step on the edge as long as dinner was to be found somewhere in the middle of it. Most men I’ve associated would indeed prefer paper plates because that eliminates the additional “washing step”.

There’s a difference, I believe, in getting married at a tender age and moving directly from your parent’s home to one of your own as opposed to getting married later down the road when you’ve already tasted some independence.  Perhaps the latter of the two groups might find themselves more prepared  for what married life brings to the table after the “I do’s” have been exchanged and the rice has been swept up.  I don’t know.  What I do know, is that I had no idea.

Up until the time I got married, and only a year prior, my mother ironed my gym clothes and made all my meals, the meals which continued until the night of the rehearsal dinner.  Nowhere in the program did I factor in laundry, dishes, cooking, or paying bills.  Sometimes I wonder if this has changed much over the years.  Young couples with more hormones in play that the crew of a submarine, and blinded by love’s glow, sometimes forget to ask pertinent questions, like if your partner to be in life wants children, likes animals, prefers pineapple and ham on their pizza to the meatlovers special, or what their dreams and goals are.  The important things.  I had a job, which paid a whopping $300.00 a month, and a small checking account, really, really, small.  Living at home my bills consisted mainly of gas, lunches, clothes, and nylons. I had never paid rent, or made a car payment.  My car was an embarrassing white 1961 Plymouth Valiant that my parents had purchased for $100.00 when I graduated.  When something broke down on it, which was often daily, my step-father fixed it.  Whoa.  Was I prepared or what?  My money’s on the what.

If asked at the time what I’d accomplished in my eighteen years on the earth I would have said, “made the tennis team, went to most of the dances during my four years in school, and managed to graduate with a good enough GPA as to not totally humiliate my parents”. Not exactly a flushed out resume.  I was like a partially completed portrait of a person with only the cheeks and the forehead painted in.  The rest of me was still be determined as strokes were added along the way.

Following the ceremony we celebrated at the reception, then spent seven days of glorious freedom in Carmel, California, where we sealed the deal.  All good.  On our return home we continued the honeymoon to the point that three months later I discovered we were to add a new member to our little family.  Whoops.  This was definitely not in our five-year program which included work and finishing school, and most certainly not in our budget which had about as much wiggle room as a girdle on a well padded behind.

Now, if I had no idea about what married life was to be like, I had, if possible, even less information on what being a parent might entail.  Exit, stage right.  Jeez.  During those months, between trying to come to grips with what being an adult meant, working a full-time job, being a newlywed, and anticipating the birth of my first child all simultaneously was a challenge. In retrospect, I spent most of my time sitting at the drive-thru window at In ‘n Out, placing an order.  A woman has her cravings.

It’s funny how being thrown in the deep end of the pool when you can’t swim, instinctively makes your arms and legs move.  I survived.  I found that having a small baby in my care was far more challenging than caring for the man who helped to place her there.  I learned to cook, not without a series of burnt offerings and what appeared to be experimental lab projects gone horribly wrong, but I managed to keep my head above the water line.  Still, I learn every day, and continue to make mistakes in the kitchen and elsewhere in my life, it’s just that I have a little more meat in my resume these days.

I think with all the mess going on in the world we should be thankful to have food in the cupboard and a pot to cook it in. Life is a dance, sometimes we’re in step, and other times we just listen to the music.

Spicy Crockpot Short Ribs

4 lbs. beef short ribs
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 Tbsp, red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. light-brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
Egg noodles

In large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Brown short ribs on both sides. Place in bottom of 6 quart crockpot.

In bowl combine onion, green pepper, garlic, cinnamon, tomato sauce, tomatoes, 1 Tbsp. of brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. vinegar, and salt and pepper. Pour over short ribs. Cover and cook on low heat for 9 hours.

Transfer ribs to serving plate. Skim fat from sauce. Stir in remaining vinegar and brown sugar. Pour sauce over meat.

Good served over cooked egg noodles or white rice.

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