Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Perfect Dead Husband



 
Judy from the Onward and Upward blog wrote about going to 60th wedding anniversary party and she wondered how anyone could live with the same person for so long without getting bored. Then she wrote: “I guess you just start out, go through all the fights and problems and then, finally settle down and you get to be like brother and sister, or something--friends?  I don't really know what makes a long term marriage. Is it just habit? Neither one wants to rock the boat so...you just settle? Better to be together, even though you can hardly stand each other, than to be all alone?”

I left a comment about how I can understand what it takes to be together 40, 50, 60 years. “What we see on the surface,” I wrote, “isn't always a true reflection of what is going on underneath the take-each-other-for-granted layer. People might get annoyed with the little, day-to-day stuff like not picking up your dirty socks but still be loving and loyal on the bigger more important issues that keeps a couple together---common values, shared life lessons and experiences, and dedication to one another through the good times as well as the bad.” I found myself wanting to go back again and again to Judy’s blog and write more. But comment sections don’t have an edit feature---which I rely on heavily---so instead I'm expanding my thoughts here.

Don wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect, but like the loyal widow that I am who knows that Don and I were true soul mates he gets more perfect as time passes and I get more imperfect. How could I, for example, yell at him for this or that grain of sand out of place on our beach when, now, I’d give anything to have him back with me to play with pails and shovels building castles with moats and turrets? But get bored? Maybe some (okay, maybe even a lot of) marriages and long-term relationships get boring but that is one word I could not and never did apply to what Don and I had. We were constantly laughing, supporting each other's half-baked ideas, and growing new interests in life to bring back to share in our relationship. We weren’t unique. Most of us do it but we don’t all recognize how important and enriching it is to share the daily details of our lives with another person. As loving widows, we do recognize it because it's the daily sharing that we miss the most.

Probably my the best example of the kind of daily sharing that kept Don and I from getting bored with one another can be found in something that happened while we were on vacation out west. Don liked to talk and I liked to read and one day he went into a gas station but he didn’t come back out for four hours. After the first hour I checked on him and he was sitting in a circle with local people around a pot belly stove topped with a coffee pot and they were all swapping guy stories. I could have told Don it was time to get back on the road and he would have complied, but instead I went out to the motor home and finished a book I’d been reading. Once we were on our way again Don had a great time retelling the stories he’d just heard and I had a great time giving him a book report, flushing out the characters and plot in great detail. It was the adult version of what happened when I got home from school each day and my mom would ask, “What did you learn today?” We might not have done big, bold things in life, but Don and I could always count on getting an A+ in sharing.

People do get stagnant in life, they quit trying to learn or experience new things. They quit communicating with the person they fell in love with and I can see how that wears on a marriage. To the outside world they might even looked mismatched. And don't we all look at other couples and think we can figure out what they do right or wrong? Maybe it’s because widows get more sensitive to the way other women treat their husbands but when I hear the way some women talk to their mates at the grocery store it really bothers me. Sometimes I’d like to blow a referee’s whistle and tell them both to knock off the petty bickering. “Does it really matter if he likes Colgate toothpaste and you like Crest? Buy a tube of both, for crying out loud!"

Why is it so hard for some people to find the compromises in marriage and maybe those couples who can't are the ones Judy was writing about when she said they just settle because neither wants to rock the boat to get out. If they can’t have their own way 100% of the time they pout and grow bitter with the years. But being "right" about every toothpaste-brand like issue amounts to winning a battle while losing the war. People need to have their opinions validated from time to time---especially spouses. Maybe I should get some business cards that read: Let go of the bickering or your spouse, compromise or move on! and sprinkle them around like I’m a Highlands fairy on a mission to save all the bickering couples from themselves. Or maybe I should just mind my own business. All I know for sure is that my dead husband---like many others in the graveyard---gets more perfect as time fades out the imperfections and leaves behind a misty watercolor painting in my mind’s eye of romance, laughter, love, fun, deep devotion through the tough time and unwavering respect that transcends time and death. And somewhere in this last paragraph is a cautionary tale for all people who are still reading this and who still have a spouses. ©

14 comments:

  1. jean :

    you were both so lucky to have each other for so long. I have been married for more than 20 years & I still get bothered by some of things he does or won't do, but it took me adversity in my life in form of stroke to realize in big scheme of things this are all petty things & he is great where it matters the most.

    Asha

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    1. I know I was, Asha. Most of the time I believe in the soul mate thing but once in awhile I think it was just a roll of the dice that we found each other and that good luck had a lot to do with it.

      Some people go through their whole lives without realizing and acknowledging what your stroke taught you about your marriage. The best is yet to come for you two. I always loved the wise things you used to share that your husband would say and I knew he was a keeper....even though he doesn't/didn't have a romantic bone in his body, as I recall. LOL

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  2. A+ in sharing! A very important aspect in any relationship, in my mind.

    Wow are you right about being a sensitive widow as I watch bitchy exchanges at the grocery store. Pick your battles people ... Ms. Misadventures is right! Get two tubes of toothpaste!!

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    1. I've heard/read other widows say the bitchy exchanges bother them, too, so I do think it's a widow thing that we notice them more than we used to. In my first year of widowhood I saw a nasty exchange over buy baby carrots or a bunch of carrots and the man was being treated in such a degrading way for wanting baby carrots that I felt like pressing money in his hand and telling him to get what he wanted. Geez, lady, it's not like carrots will go bad in two days if you don't eat them up!

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  3. Another great post, sounds like you and Don were great together. You don't see that level of understanding and patience in a lot of marriages nowadays. You were blessed to have found each other.

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    1. Thanks! I know what you mean about patience and understanding missing in a lot of relationships these days.I see it too. You gotta have both to have staying power.

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  4. I do still have my man, and am grateful every single day. Our 42nd anniversary is coming up. In that many years (and the 4 dating years preceding our marriage) we often joke we've lived several "lifetimes" together -- through the ages and stages of personal growth and development, coupledom/family life changes, and geographic moves. Not every minute has been bliss and some moments have been hellish. But way more have been pretty great. Deep, deep respect, love, and contentment are ours now. We love being together talking, puttering, planning... Maybe that doesn't sound very exciting and passionate (oh, there's that!), but it works for me. I am indeed blessed. Thanks for your post, Jean. Inspiring to others and a beautiful testament to your marriage with Don. I love the story of him sitting 'round the potbellied stove and then you both sharing your day with each other through conversation in the motor home. :)

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    1. Donna, it sounds like you and your man have found the secret to a long relationship, too. And I will vote for a drama free relationship over exciting and glamorous any day. The latter doesn't breed the deep respect, love and contentment that you talked about quite as easily.

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  5. We've talked about this, about how there's so much shared history in a long marriage, and all of that "sticking together through thick and thin" that happens over all those years. I know that we're in the home stretch and I'm grateful that I'm still with the guy who brung me to the dance. It sounds like you and Don were very compatible. I do wonder if I chose well or if it was just dumb luck (I met him on a blind date). I know one thing for sure. You are so very right about the everyday sharing being the thing I would miss most.

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    1. Even though you don't write a lot about H, I can tell by your blog that you two are completely compatible and supportive of one another. I don't know how much choosing well or dumb luck plays into it, but I think it's more about the character of each person involved and how well they each are able to let go of the little things that happen along in a marriage. You see so many people bring up things from 10-20 years ago and rehash/re-fight the same things every time that get mad over whatever new comes along. Nothing is ever in the past and that doesn't lead to a happy marriage in my opinion.

      You've go the formula, Bella. Enjoy it.

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    2. Missing something here at home and know why: when our oldest granddaughter was interviewing my beloved for some project and asked about regrets, he said he wished he had been a better YOUNG husband. Me, too. That is where you lay the groundwork for the marriage you build. He was, I think, raised to think that being devoted to the job was pre-eminent. He kept telling me that, because of his health, I would be a rich young widow! He's a strapping 70 year old (well, "strapping" may be an exaggeration) who calls me his "bus heater". That's old guyese for "hot chick"? This is Sue Y, calling myself anonymous

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    3. Welcome to my blog, Sue! I hope you are inspired to start one of your own. They really are a lot of fun, especially for someone who loves to write as much as you do.

      You had me laughing at the 'bus heater.' My old guyese translator would not have gotten that one on the first try.

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  6. Sue is right--it starts when the marriage is young.I know 6 married couples who have been married for 57 years or longer. Not a one of those couples act like they even like their spouse, let alone still love them. The women constantly complain about their husband's controlling ways and the husband's complain about their wives bossiness. I, am alone, but the remembrances I have about my life with Fred, was like a great marriage and one that would have lasted forever. I guess it did--his forever anyway. I especially miss the day-to-day things we shared--most of all our conversations and...yes...hugs. I do so miss those hugs. I can honestly say that I am more grateful for the few years we had than if I were still married to Mr. High School Sweetheart--it would have been 57 years this June. We would be just like the couples I know--nothing much there except sharing a residence.

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    1. Have you ever wondered it you and Fred has meant when you were younger would you have had the same great relationship you had? Sometimes I think people have to go through some bad relationships to appreciate a good one when you find it. I don't think longevity in a marriage is necessarily the best judge of a successful marriage which is what your original post on this topic was hedging around. I'm so glad you had Fred!

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