Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Love=Work. And yes. It's worth it!

This has been one heck of a year so far. It started with the slam by my step-niece about my weight. Yeah, sure. Her comments were valid...but so was my wish to not have my feelings hurt by a 60 lb. adolescent cheerleader! Then I came down with that rotten flu, followed by the mess with the VA. I endured mockery from a spike-haired, argyle wearing, big mouthed department store employee while almost simultaneously realizing that I was one seriously lonely individual. (The fact that I actually laughed with Mr. Fashion Critic instead of smacking him around was a testament of just how lonely I had become!) All of this in just the first month of the year. February brought even more turmoil for me. My father became ill and was hospitalized for a week. My own life was rife with discontent. Nothing, and I mean nothing, seemed to go right. The thing is, in the past, it really didn't matter what was going on in my life. As long as Randey and I were in sync and feeling "together" emotionally, I could handle just about anything. But that hasn't been the case lately. Randey and I have struggled mightily with the concept of "togetherness". There's been no ugliness, per se, and no outside influences, other than the norm, that have caused our problems. We've just had a really hard time getting ourselves together. He's had health issues, some of which have been exacerbated by the pressure and stress of the VA thing. Plus he's been traveling a lot for work. I've had my own issues (the biggest one being trying to ascertain the difference between menopause and depression!). I've had problems dealing with family members...my mother and I haven't spoken since December and I'm not really sure why that is, my daughter's life choices have left me reeling with fear and angst and the list goes on and on. I've been caught in a seemingly endless loop of analyzing my own life and problems. I've come to realize more and more that my children are all almost grown and don't need me as much as they used to and, in reality, don't want or need my help as much as I thought they would. And I've been thinking a lot about the fact that I've been a mother for 27 of my 44 years on this earth. Motherhood has been my defining role in life. And don't get me wrong. It's the role I love and I would choose it again and again and again if asked. But, having said that, I must also admit that it seems like I've been looking forward to the time when Randey and I could go off and do things alone together without having to worry about our kids ever since those kids were babies! (How’s that for a selfish attitude?) And then...just as they're about old enough for us to do that...I found that Randey and I were at odds with one another and I was left feeling kind of alone and more than a little bit lost. Not exactly how I had envisioned this stage of my life! It felt like I was becoming the invisible woman - the kids didn't need me, Randey didn't need me, my relatives didn't need me...so what's my worth in this world? I've always thought of myself as being fairly headstrong, determined, independent even. The past 6 months or so have truly given me reason to change that view of myself. I don't mean to say that I don't think I could survive if I wasn't married to Randey. I'm sure I could. My thing is, I don't want to. I want to be married to Randey, I want to spend the rest of my life with him and I want to wake up every morning in the certain knowledge that he and I belong together. I even know that he feels the same way. So what's with the struggle if both of us love one another and want to be together? I think over time we've allowed ourselves to have different priorities...some things that matter to me, don't matter to him anymore. And vice-versa. These differences between us have been growing for a long, long time. We've both just been so comfortable with each other that we didn't think we needed to insist on discussing those differences. I assumed he understood the seriousness of my issues whenever I'd bring them up. He didn't. He assumed I understood his reasons for doing certain things. I didn't. Where did that eventually leave us? With about a million metaphorical miles between us, that’s where. I've mentioned many times in this blog how Susan is my best friend. But Randey's my partner, my soul mate, my yin to his yang, my other half...you get the idea. Randey's always with me, even when his body is miles away. Floundering about without him being "with" me, has caused massive confusion and pain inside. I've been stumbling out of bed every morning and going thru the motions of living. After months of me trying to voice my feelings, but making little progress, Randey realized that the ostrich approach wasn't going to work anymore and we finally talked. Or rather, he finally talked. (What is it with men anyway? Why don't they just say what they feel? Oh the times Randey's said to me, "I'm not a mind reader". Well, duh! Neither am I, buddy! lol). Anyway...Randey finally spoke and we were able to begin a dialogue (instead of that fruitless monologue I feel like I've been spouting for a long, long time now). At long last...a beginning. The first steps on what will hopefully be a new, lifelong path for us together. So why am I spilling my guts to you guys and blabbing about personal business? Because I’m hoping that maybe I can help someone else to not go thru what I’ve been going thru. Pay attention to that little voice that tells you to deal with an issue, no matter how small or awkward or uncomfortable it may make you feel. Don't put it off until you find yourself in pain and isolated from the rest of the world. I’d all but stopped talking to people and I’d all but stopped blogging because I didn’t think anyone could identify with what I was going thru. It almost seemed like everyone that I knew who was married had a picture perfect relationship. And I honestly thought Randey and I did, too. That’s why it’s been so difficult to breathe lately…I’ve felt that the very foundation of my life has been rocked because I suddenly realized that my marriage was in trouble. How could that be? We love each other! We’d die for each other…how can we not be perfect together? Ironically enough, I think the depth of our feelings for each other was actually one of the reasons how Randey and I got to the point we were at. I mean I knew how much I loved him and he knew it, too. He knew how much he loved me and I knew that, too. We basically became comfortable in the belief that "love conquers all" and I don't think we thought we had to delve into problems that arose. We got into the habit of just reassuring each other of our love and glossing over the rest. Well, I'm here to tell you...that whole “love conquers all” stuff is a myth. "Love" doesn't conquer all. Love with communication, respect and hard work conquers all. You never, ever reach the point when you don't have to pay attention to your partner, when you can take them for granted, when it's okay to stop communicating honestly with each other. I love my husband deeply. I know he loves me just as deeply. Sometimes we don't understand each other, but I think that as long as we understand that we must work at our marriage and we must work at it every single day, we'll be all right. The message I want to get out to you, the friends I’ve made with this blog, is this: treasure those you love in this life. Treasure them and know that it will take constant effort on your part to keep your love alive and growing. Randey and I celebrated our 19th anniversary almost a week ago. I can't tell you how shocked I am to realize that once the arguments and stress over money and kids are done with, life isn't just smooth sailing. Yep. Shocked. I guess I thought once we got past those kinds of stresses, the joys of love and marriage would just come to us as if by magic. That's not the case, however. It's still work to keep the love going and growing. It's been a long, confusing, lonely and scary road to come to that knowledge. But now that I do know it, I'm good with it. Because I also know that this love is worth the work.


  1. That's one impressive post. I knew something was up when I saw the new header this morning! That's always a good sign.

    So is Randey a reader of your blog?
    Just wondering...

    As one who watched a marriage slip off the edge of the world just as I was also thinking that soon it would be just the two of us, I commend you for working on the entire communication and respect issue.

    Hugs to you. Thank you for your honesty...I do think it will help a lot of your readers.

    Maybe couples will sit down and perform a marriage check together.

  2. I commend you for your honesty. What you're going through is not that uncommon, but few people would put it down in writing for the world to read.

    Yes, marriage takes a lot of work. Sometimes your partner may not seem to be pulling his or her share, but you have to keep working, taking up the slack until things even themselves out again.

    But you need to be able to communicate and let the other one know what is bothering you. If you don't, or you just take the other for granted, you wind up feeling alone and depressed.

    Keep working at it Kari. And thanks for putting this out there for us to read and learn.

  3. That's a beautiful reminder. We get caught up thinking that relationships should be like what we see in movies. They involve a lot of hard work! One of Bob's favorite things to tell people is "We've been happily married for 16 years - and that ain't bad out of 19".

  4. great post! It is really hard work to stay so committed! I'm on 25 years and we've done our share of head in the sand.....but now we're at a place where we talk talk talk! Happy to hear your both putting forth the effort, and thank you for being so honest!

  5. Dear Kari
    As Vee...I watched a marriage slip off the edge and die. Communication or lack of, was a big reason for that. So as a result, after 20 years, I "started over" when I was in my late thirties...just when my older children were beginning to test their wings. I admire you and Randey for recognizing each others need to communicate. I know you both hold each other and your marriage dear.

    Once again your thoughts and feelings are written here, so eloquently. I wish you and Randey the very best!

  6. Hey Kari
    I really enjoyed your post. And I say kudos to you and Randey for finally attacking the monster, marriage!!!

    Once that major hurdle is jumped, it makes other hurdles actually seem attainable. And I bet you two can jump those hurdles holding hands!!

    You are soooo right---empty nest is scary, unfamiliar, and those feelings of unworthiness, and confusion are BIG. All of a sudden, you are two people, with such different views. Raising kids kept all eyes focused on a parallel goal. That being gone, we flounder with individual views.

    Ok, that was confusing in itself. I hope you know what I mean. And my fingers are crossed for you & Randey.

    And, thanks for thinking I had a perfect marriage. Oh, yeah, sure I do. And so does everyone else in blogland. You know, we're all perfect too, and our homes are always spotless, food is always on the table, our kids grew up to be perfect too. What in the heck were you thinking!!! ha ha ha

  7. ***It almost seemed like everyone that I knew who was married had a picture perfect relationship.***

    Sweetie...only in the movies does this picture perfect life seem to happen. I would dare to say...that if anyone out there reading your posts says they have a picture perfect marriage...then they haven't been married more than a week or so! Girl...I love how you keep things so REAL...it is the time in our lives where you would think as a long married couple we would be more in sync...but sadly, it is a time when a lot of us get out of sync, maybe we just become to complaisant or lazy...BIG mistake...but easy to do...we can only keep it going with hard work, determination and communication! If anyone tells you anything to the contrary...well, I just don't think they know how to keep it real...just sayin! I love my hubbin and I know he loves me...but don't think for a minute things are ALWAYS a bed of roses here...mostly they are...but sometimes...well...life is hard and relationships are a part of life... I knew getting into this whole marriage thing that it was going to be work...it's like a job sometimes...but one that I never want to retire from!!

    Thanks for keeping it real... sweetness...you are a jewel...tell Randey he's got a gem on his hands...keep working at it girl...you both deserve it!


  8. I have known for a while that something was not right for you, that you were lost and alone in the woods and my flashlight wouldn't reach where you were. And here I thought that you knew that marriage was a job...the most important job of your life, the one job you can't throw over on a a whim...seeing eye to eye isn't the important thing, it's that communication that you gave a perfectly brilliant post about. I'll bet you thought that Uncle Wallace and I live in this oh so perfect world, but baby girl, with a temper like mine and a laid back disposition like his...didn't you know there were fireworks? Haven't you ever heard me cuss like a sailor on french leave? I am so glad that you are working through this, but don't think it's over...the dialogue goes on even when the music stops. It's those first words that you are afraid to say that start the ball rolling, and with any luck there will be more hills than straight aways, so the rolling is easy. You just have to run faster on the straight aways, and never stop getting him to answer you. I can't tell you how much I love you and have grown to love you more as I learn who you really are in your blog. I know it seems like everything is happening at once, like someone said, smile things could be worse, and sure enough they got worse? But things do even out...you'll see. I love you, baby girl...
    Aunt Sandi

  9. Hmmmm. You make me think Kari. Hubby and I are not good at communicating. Maintaining peace in our home is REALLY important to both of us. He doesn't want to be told that he falls short in any way, and ditto that for me. When we try to communicate things, it turns into hurt feelings. Your post makes me a bit uncomfortable because the things that you point out I have thought of before. It is just hard to take some things out in the light and look at them up close.

    I think I will try harder. I tend to heed warnings pretty well. I trust you and what you say. I pray that your relationship, heals, grows, and evolves with your circumstances. Things just CANT stay the same. Change is inevitable. I hope the changes that y'all are experiencing turn out really good! Be blessed Kari, and hold on to Randey TIGHT!


  10. Kari~
    Your post is so beautiful in its truthfulness. Thank you for being s honest it will make a difference for others. You reminded me of a few things myself.

    Just remember don't judge your insides by other people's outsides...things are never as they seem.

    I just love your blog.

  11. After the beginning of your post, I was going to say this, but you said it about mid-post:
    I think "I will never be able to read your mind" should be in the wedding vows. Everyone will grow accustomed to hearing it before they're married. The marriage ceremony will remind you once again. And then, hopefully, the two will retain this knowledge for the rest of time.
    About twice a year (most recently at the beginning of this month), my wife and I have some big argument that stems from a lack of communication, that usually has me in hot water because [trumper fanfare] I can't read minds. I never have been able to. It wasn't a class offered in my high school or college. Yet, it always seems to be forgotten that I don't have this ability that I never had.
    We seem to go through this in cycles and return to every so often.
    However, like you said, the key to smoothing out the bumps is definitely communication and respect.

  12. Thanks for being for bare and honest in your post. This really is the brutal truth of any relationship.

  13. Oh Kari ...I so wish we could have talked. I know where you are coming from. I knew this had been a rough year for you so far and have been worried. You are such a totally honest treasure and I just felt that something was amiss. I have been where you were/are. I love Bill with every fiber of my being. I can not imagine life without him yet...oh yet...we are so different about our approach to life and many issues and that causes a strain. We have had out tough patches, especially when he was gone so often in the Navy. But things got awful for a time after his retirement. He felt lost I know and the job thing was not what either of us wanted. Then both of his parents died within 4 months of one another. He is not a great communicator anyway but he began to totally shut off. I would grow depressed and cry a lot and it had to be awful to be around either of us. Things are so much better now but it is still work...work for him to communicate more and for me not to slap him with a metal pot when he won't! *laugh* NO, me not to take it so personally when he does not.
    We are coming up on 30 years of marriage and I have no idea where they all went. I love him dearly and know he loves me. You are so right about it being work. Hard work but work we love and need.
    It is so worth it isn't it?
    I know that Randey knows what a jewel he has in you. You know what a treasure he is. It is getting back to that *friendship* thing, for us at least. He was always ny best friend but the buddy part had slipped away. After being back here where my old friends were, more time was spent with them antiquing, lunching and seeing movies than with him. Our we were together WITH our kids. When we went away for my birthday last October, all alone, it was a defining moment! I loved it but he had such a great time. Conversation came easily and we had such a sweet time.
    We just have to be more mindful of this. He will still drive me crazy and I him. We react so differently to things. But I need to respect HOW he does them and him me....more. We work on that daily.

    I send hugs to you and Randey and know will get past this hurdle easily and enter a new and wonderful phase of your life and marriage.

    You are a blessing Kari. I adore you.

    If you ever want to talk or email, I am here.


  14. Hi Kari,

    As always I love your honesty. You have a gift for cutting through all the junk and getting right to the heart. I think so many people would rather sweep something under the rug then deal with it. The problem with that is that it gets moldy and smelly under that rug. Yes, marriage is work, no doubt about that and living day in and out can be hard but you are so right it is worth the amount of work you put in it. Take care girlfriend and keep being your honest self.

  15. I'm thinking about you so much...started to call last night, just so you could yell at your Uncle Wallace...and may do that tonight...he just will not slow down. I want him to behave, cause I'm not done with him yet, you know? Though we did get a lot of planting done...hug Randey for me...and who has a girlfriend? Tell them they're not near old enough...
    love and hugs
    Aunt Sandi

  16. I'm new to your blog, so I just read about the 11 year old. Sorry I think she is old enough to know better. It sounded more like something a 4 year old would say.

  17. Oh Kari I wish I could give you a big hug right now! you sure have been through a lot lately, darn hormones LOL Seriously though, thank you for your honesty! I know it seems like others have a "picture perfect" marriage, but believe me, no one does. We all go through our ups and downs and trials etc...it's how we handle it as a couple that is a testament to the marriage and relationship. It sounds like you and Randey have a very strong marriage, even if you had become too comfortable and seemed to be going separate directions. I'm so glad he started the dialogue between you two and it opened up the conversation to what was going on. Praying things just get better from here on out!

    On another note - we got your surprise package in the mail the other day! Thank you so very much for your kindness! I love the saying on the onesie - actually saw it on someone's blog recently on their newborn and I wondered where I could get one - so how neat that is what you sent! Could you please send me your address? I had saved the package it came in, but Joe accidently threw it away!

  18. I so hear what you're saying. Matt and I had 6 months of married life before Crystal came along(yes do the math). Like you I've been a mom for 27 of my 50 years, little more than half my life. Feel my life is defined by being a wife and mother. Now the bird has flown the coup, actually did a few years ago but now that she's married its really official and what do we do now. Our lives as a couple have been defined by being parents and while we still are we have to find ourselves together. But thankfully it's a journey we do want to take. And watching my daughter and SIL get married has given me renewed hope in the power of love and togetherness.

  19. Kari, This is such a WONDERFUL post and I can TOTALLY relate to it.And I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that Gary and I have never had jealousy issues, we have always felt very confident in our love for each other, we just KNOW that we will always be together... but sometimes that contentment can lead to being too comfortable, which can lead to not doing enough proactively for your relationship. I think that "happy" couples actually have a lot more work than most people realize. So, THANKS for this post because it's nice to know that others have similar struggles. And, with us...three kids under 16 (one at 4!!) is a challenge. Having sex? Yeah...you gotta schedule that even!! lol

    I hope you continue to share your wonderful insights and posts.

    We all love you!!

  20. Hi Girlfriend

    Great post. I do love your honesty. I know it's been a tough year for you and I'm sorry. George and I have been in a very good phase of our marriage for some time now. Amazingly life is great. And I thank the good Lord for it daily. But, there have been times over the 30 years when it was hard, very hard. Hang in there. When you truly love each other, and I know you do, you'll work through it together. Communication is the key. Definitely. I'm here if you need a hug or a shoulder to lean on.

    Hugs sweet friend!

  21. Hi Kari, this is the first time I saw a living signature> I love the pink and red roses together.I love yoor blog. Elaine Cooke


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