Affirmation: The best is yet to come.
My husband, Sandy and I have been married for almost 43 years. I teasingly tell people I was a child bride, maybe 15. But, while we were young, right out of college, we were a “reasonable” age. Looking back, I don’t think I had a clue what I was committing to. I’d like to think the young people marrying today have more knowledge about relationships and what saying “I do” represents than I did. I think they might have an advantage over me because of all the information available in the media. I know all of it isn’t good, but at least they are exposed to a great deal of different situations.
I came from a very small family and unless I learned from their example, there wasn’t much more information available. I was lucky because both my husband and I came from stable, loving families. I’m sure that’s one of the reason two naïve kids like us have made it this far.
We went to dinner with a newlywed couple one evening. They were young but they already had a lot of schooling under their belts and were looking at additional degrees. They were considerate of each other and had a maturity about them that belied their years. It was a pleasure to be with them. I found myself offering my perspective on marriage. I find myself sharing this information more and more often. It’s usually because I am so surprised at where I’m at in my relationship with my husband and that no one ever told me about this stage of marriage. In fact, even with today’s information overload, I haven’t seen this anywhere and it’s really important for couples to know this, especially young couples.
After 43 years, we still love one another. We have raised three children, moved seven times, and been through illness and deaths. We have struggled financially and psychologically. We have played together and we have shared the most intimate of experiences. One, for example, is when Sandy shaved my head before my hair fell out from chemo. There are almost no words to say what that was like. It’s been good and it’s been tough. It’s been life and I’m so very grateful I’ve gotten to share it all with him.
And, what is it I want couples to know? I want them to know that marriage is difficult but if there are no irreconcilable differences, no overwhelming obstacles to staying together, marriage gets better and better. It can become one of the richest experiences of your life if you have the fortitude to hang in there so you can share your later years with that person with whom you became of age. For us, this is the best our marriage has ever been and it’s a great joy. Would you agree that’s what can happen? Many many years ago I had an “older” woman tell me her time as an empty nester was the sexiest time of her marriage. It’s true. It’s worth it. Don’t give up.
Affirmation: I value my accomplishments and my disappointments.
On June 19th, 2011 Rory McIlroy won the US Open in golf. I play golf although I do not consider myself a golfer. I am married to a golfer and recently my adult son, Joey, has given up sky diving and taken up golf. (Thank You, Lord.) Considering we have been married for almost 43 years, I have learned a lot about the sport. I must admit there have been many times in our marriage when I was deeply resentful of the time and energy my husband put into his passion. When the children were little and he worked 100 hours a week and still played golf on the weekends, I thought I’d go crazy. He did stop playing when our youngest child, Ellen, was born. He needed a break and I needed a break too.
Many years ago I read James Dobson’s, Final Rounds. It completely changed the way I saw the sport. It truly was a life changing read. It helped too that my children were older and I had a little more free time. But, when I read the memories that he and his dad had collected together, I better understood the appeal of the game. Golf wasn’t just “a good walk spoiled” as Mark Twain; it was about so much more. It was about relationships and adventures and shared experiences. I took it to heart and started focusing on those aspects and not how many times I was hitting (or swinging) at that little ball. Yes, something changed. I started having more fun and truly valuing the time I spent with Sandy and now with my son. Sometimes my daughter-in-law, Belen, joins us on the course as Joey’s chauffeur. It can be a delightful day and I really have learned to value being out on the course.
Part of our shared interest lies in occasionally watching the major tournaments with my family. The US Open is one of them. And, this year’s was very exciting. This young man, Rory McIlroy (22 years) won. He’s from Northern Island. Not only did he win but he broke all sorts of records. He shot 65-66-68-68. He was as much as 17 under par at one point. He went into the tournament winning by 8 strokes. These are unheard of accomplishments.
That’s all wonderful and exciting but for me, it was the story behind his win that touched my heart. His father was there; it was his Father’s Day present. The story that emerged was of a family of very hard working people. His dad had worked as a janitor and when his son showed an interest in golf, he became the bar tender at the golf club so that they could afford his lessons. When he accepted his award, he didn’t’ leave out his “mum” either. He said it was because of their hard work and sacrifice that he was there today.
The media spent a great deal of time talking about this young man’s loss at the Masters in Augusta. They kept talking about how he was winning by 4 strokes when the final round began, and then “fell apart.” Everyone was amazed that he had pulled himself together so quickly and was doing so well. Some thought he might never recover from such a devastating loss. It was one of the questions presented to him several minutes after accepting the US Open trophy. The announcer asked him to speak about losing the Masters and what that had been like. Ready? “The Masters was a very valuable experience for me. I learned a few things about myself and my game.”
This champion is much wiser than his 22 years. It takes some of us a lifetime to discover that every life experience leads to wisdom and knowledge. It’s all up to us how we perceive it and whether or not we value every single one of them, both the accomplishments and the disappointments. Like Rory, it can lead us to championship skills, the skills of leading a rewarding, fulfilling life.
Oprah Winfrey ended her 25 year show this June. I think I missed a lot because I am not an avid television watcher. I rarely have the TV on during the day and now, with DVRs I rarely watch more than an hour of TV in the evening. I once had a very good friend suggest I Tivo the Oprah show and watch what was of interest to me. I also had another friend tell me if I watched more Oprah I would probably take fewer classes, since she teaches about almost everything in which I am interested. I think they were both right and I didn’t take their advice to heart or I just couldn’t seem to find the time to watch her daily show. But, I did DVR her very last show. I have now watched it twice and I will very likely watch it again. Her theme was what she had learned from her viewers over the years. I actually went back and took notes.
“There is a common thread that runs though all of our pain and all of our suffering, unworthiness, not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for. We often block our inherent blessings because we don’t think we’re good enough, smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough.” She went on to say, “You’re worthy because you have been born. Your being here, your being alive makes worthiness your birth right. You alone are enough.”
Do you believe that? It’s the same theme over and over. We are so much more than we seem. We are spirit, we are eternal, and we are children of God. We were created to bring light and love into this world. We don’t need to do anything else in order to do that. But, should we choose to go out into the world and bring our love and our energy, we need to do it with a sense of power and compassion. We were created to shine. Let your light shine. Do not act small, do not shy away from life, it doesn’t help anyone. By believing in your worthiness by acting as if, you give permission to all those lives you touch, to be and to feel the same way.
Open your heart, do not be afraid. In yoga we practice “Open Heart” asanas. Take a deep breath, pull your shoulders back, open your arms, and smile. Inhale and breathe into your heart, as you exhale, see the love and energy shinning out, as you inhale, feel the love and positive energy filling you up. Believe it. You are loved; you are worthy.