Woman@Heart

Musings on Life, Love and Lefovers

Archive for the tag “marriage”

Maybe This Time

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The Jameson sisters are back. This time with a story of how youngest sister, Kate, met Eric. The novella will be available mid-May on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. More details to come, but until then, here’s a sneak peek.

 

 Architect Kate Jameson has sworn off men. That is until she meets Eric, the handsome son of her current client. Fresh out of a messy relationship with a coworker, Kate’s not ready to trust her judgement where men are concerned. She dodges Eric…’s advances, but can’t deny the attraction growing between them. Everything–especially his soul-searing brown eyes–makes her want to throw caution to the wind and try again. At her sister’s prodding, Kate finally agrees to date Eric, surprised at the joy he brings into her life. But when their budding romance is threatened, Kate is forced to make hard decisions and fight for her true happiness.

Undercover CIA agent Eric Wiley has survived enough loss in his life to ever want to risk being hurt again. He has long since given up on true love. Still, he’s drawn to Kate in a way he can’t rationalize. Avoiding her isn’t working and for the first time in a relationship, he wants to be truthful about his past and his career. Before their romance can bloom, however, Kate goes missing. Recognizing the danger, Eric stops at nothing to rescue the woman who has captured his heart.

It’s A Guy Thing

My husband, Nick and I have lots in common. We share the same religion. We’re voting for the same candidate for president. Jeopardy and Blue Bloods are must-see TV. We parent three adult sons and spoil a beautiful granddaughter together.  For sure, he’s the man I want bringing me a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates on February 14.

But over the years, I’ve noticed that our personalities collide, a lot. Nick likes westerns. I prefer comedies. I’m a diehard Steelers’ fan. He’s Bolts all the way. My car radio is set to R&B, his to classic rock. I like cake. He’ll take pie.

Nick was born in Newark and I’m from a little town near Pittsburgh. I used to wonder if that was the root of our differences. Then I thought, maybe it’s because I’m the youngest of four and Nick is the seventh of nine. Or perhaps it’s because I have brown eyes and his are blue. But the realization of a simpler answer trumped my earlier theories — men and women are different. When I was playing with Barbies, Nick was setting up his Hot Wheels track. When he was being introduced to Barbasol, I was learning about mascara.

shutterstock_97121432About three weeks ago, our contrasting preferences became even more apparent when I invited him to go shopping at the mall. I figured that our trip would take up most of Saturday afternoon and part of the evening. Nick was planning on a 30-minute outing (travel time included).

Not only do Pinks and Blues clash when it comes to how long a shopping trip takes, we’re oceans apart about what we want to shop for. Ogling the latest in barbecue accessories or scoping out bug spray in Home Depot is Nick’s idea of the ultimate buying expedition.

For me the mark a successful mall visit is finding the perfect pair of shoes – no matter how long it takes. Before I became a wife I thought that everyone loved shoe shopping. Nick has since taught me that if you circle Male instead of Female on credit applications, you probably don’t consider footwear as a personal fashion statement.

About an hour later, from across the winter boots display, my husband sent a pained look my way. I was veering into the purse department. Of course there was a basketball (football, baseball, soccer, golf, hockey, curling, bowling) game waiting for him on TV at home  and I suspected that he’d rather be watching a 6-foot-6 dude take 3-point-shots instead of discussing the merits of pebbled leather. Or giving his opinion about which looks better, the hobo bag or the tote? What he really wanted to say is: “Don’t you have a dozen purses in the closet already? Pick one of these and let’s get home before the third quarter ends.”

Men and women are on shaky ground when it comes to problem solving too. Women understand that sometimes all you need is a listener who nods supportively and mutters “Hmmmm” at suitable intervals. Just because we pose the question, doesn’t mean we’re looking for the answer. Men, on the other hand, are programmed to fix things — here’s the problem, here’s the solution, end of story.

This is where my husband shows his royal blue streak. His problem-solution skills are right up there with some of the greatest minds of his gender — Einstein, FDR, Knute Rockne. But after this short discussion outside the dressing room, Nick won’t be so quick with the answers anymore:

“Boy, I don’t like the way these pants look,” I said modeling them for him.

“They are a little tight,” Nick observed. “How’s your diet going?”

“Slowly. Why are you asking?”

“Because you said you didn’t like the way your pants fit.  You could always do what your friend did and try liposuction.”

“I didn’t say they didn’t fit. I said I didn’t like how they looked. I don’t like this khaki color.”

“Ohhhhh, ” he sheepishly replied.

I’ll leave you to imagine the rest of conversation, but you can be sure that Nick will never again suggest liposuction to his bride. In his spare time, he’s now practicing variations of: “Claire, you look fabulous in whatever you wear.”

It’s true that I might be from Venus and sometimes Nick wishes he was on Mars, but after many years of marriage, we’re proof that opposites attract. It may be a girl thing and it might be a guy thing. But one thing’s for sure – thanks to an odd-colored pair of Capri pants, come next Valentine’s Day I’ll be getting a larger bouquet of roses. And that box of chocolates I told you about earlier, it’s certain to be a three-pounder.

Make Mine Diamonds

We were out to dinner with friends the other night when the topic of wedding anniversaries came up. Actually, in between appetizers and the main course, I brought the subject up. I knew Jim and Becky’s* 40th was next month and wondered how these two would mark their milestone occasion. They traded knowing glances. “We haven’t decided yet,” Jim volunteered.

 Always the helpful soul, I piped up with my trademark suggestion: “You know that’s a diamond anniversary!” My husband Nick rolled his eyes, frowned and then added: “She says that about every anniversary.”shutterstock_336087602.jpg

I smiled at my groom. He’d know. I’ve chanted this rallying cry pretty much since the day we joined hands to cut our wedding cake.

Whether it’s the first or the 51st, I believe every wedding anniversary should be celebrated, acclaimed and lauded. And — for my money — nothing says celebration like diamonds, whether they’re in earrings, a necklace or a ring. Successfully navigating the ups and downs of 40 years of wedded bliss is certainly worth a diamond or two, so I put in a plug. 

Becky took a sip of her drink and smiled at me. The guys swigged their beers and went back to dissecting last night’s baseball game.

The next day I went online seeking advice from anniversary experts and stumbled upon Anniversary Gifts By The Year. I’m in favor of taking the guesswork out of shopping, but these guidelines (divided into traditional and modern suggestions) postpone the good stuff until many decades of being Mr. & Mrs. have passed. This sequence seems backward to me. Is this what the American National Retail Jewelers Association had mind in 1937 when they first devised the list?

If Jim conformed to tradition, he would give Becky rubies — not diamonds – to commemorate their two scores of marriage. Rubies are nice, but why the 40-year delay? And if Jim follows those same traditional gift-giving gurus, Becky would spend the next 20 years anticipating diamonds.

It makes sense for young couples to exchange practical gifts when they’re just starting out. I guess that’s why suggestions like clocks, linens and pottery show up for anniversaries 1 to 10. Some argue that working toward silver and gold, rubies and diamonds are a great incentive to stay married. I say phooey. Give your wife diamonds early and often. The monthly payments alone will keep you together for the next 30, 40 or 50 years.

Guys, listen up. A wedding anniversary is the perfect time to go off script – or in this case – off list. My husband has done this a time or two. For our second anniversary, instead of the recommended cotton, he opted for boogie boards. For our 11th, he bypassed steel and got me an Espresso machine. Not exactly a sparkling tennis bracelet, but it’s a start. In return, he received a gas barbecue grill.

For our 29th anniversary the “list” didn’t offer any traditional gift recommendations. The modern suggestion touted furniture. Just what every girl wishes for — a new chiffarobe. Nick wasn’t thrilled either. He was hoping for golf clubs. True to form, I proposed diamonds. Nick responded with granite (countertops). I’m not complaining. Granite is a sturdy substance, not as strong and shimmery diamonds, though. Still, much better than a coffee table.

Six years ago, Nick and I marked what’s traditionally known as the Pearl Jubilee. And believe it or not, the modern gift idea is diamonds. After all these years, I could legitimately finagle some ice out of my groom. But Nick had a better idea — a voyage to the land of his heritage, Ireland. It didn’t take me long to swap the promise of diamonds for emeralds of another sort.

And since a trip to the Emerald Isle was way better than a single piece of jewelry, I put my Every Anniversary is a Diamond Anniversary crusade on hold. Until now.

Next Tuesday Nick and I will celebrate a marriage that has endured enough years to be eligible to become president, plus one. And even though the list-makers recommend bone china as the appropriate gift for 36 years of sharing the same remote, I see things a bit differently.

For the past week, Nick has noticed a few hints gently seeded around the house making the case for adding a fifth C to the 4Cs  used to determine a diamond’s quality (color, clarity, cut, caret … and Claire).

Of course, I could be easily talked out of an ice-crusted bauble in exchange for a champagne toast, a foot massage and a warm, tender kiss from the same man who, year after year, continues to say “I do.”

 

*names have been changed to preserve their marriage.

 

 

 

The Lingo of Love

“What do you want for Valentine’s Day?” my husband Nick asked a couple of days ago.

To the untrained ear, that might sound like a simple plea for guidance. An innocent bystander would probably say Nick was just asking how I wanted to celebrate this year’s February 14.

But husbands talk in a dialect all their own, and wives spend years translating that jargon. As an expert in Nickspeak, I knew this husband of mine was really asking: “Do you actually want me to pay $100 for roses that will die in a week? And you don’t want to go out to dinner and fight the restaurant crowds, do you?”

Somewhere hidden in between the vows — For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health — is an unspoken agreement implying that to stay on the good side of marital bliss a bride must learn to listen like a wife. In the early years of my marriage, I was a quick study. Like most resilient women I discovered that I was equal to the challenge. Mastery of the lingo didn’t come overnight, but after a bit of practice, I became an expert in this offshoot of the English language I lovingly call husbandspeak. Now my practiced ear picks up the nuances necessary to translate the words Nick says into the words Nick really means.

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The latest test of my translating talents was last Thursday morning. Nick, and his recently acquired an iPhone, were at the kitchen table, enjoying a cup of coffee together. Meanwhile, I was in our bedroom, getting ready for the day. Off in the distance I heard a familiar voice call out: “My cell phone is on Casablanca time.”

At first I couldn’t tell if he was bragging or complaining. Then my mind switched from what-should-I-wear-today mode into wife-figuring-out-husbandspeak mode. I realize that this innocent-sounding statement was a thinly disguised call for my help. Nick was really saying: “Help me fix this. Can you change my phone back to Pacific Standard Time?”

He was seeking assistance from me. Me, the woman who had a digital camera for a year before she opened the box. (I didn’t trust my photos to a camera that didn’t have a place to put a roll of 35mm film.) I no more know how to change a cell phone setting from Casablanca time to California time than I know how to write a symphony or set up a GoFundMe account. For a moment I thought that he confused me with our son, Seth. But, alas no. He was enlisting me, his life partner, to come to his aid. After a half-hour of banter that included — “push the thingamajig,” “scroll down to settings,” and “how do I scroll down to settings?” — this technologically impaired couple achieved victory.

It’s not so bad becoming a linguist when you love your husband. In fact, if you keep a positive attitude, you can make a game out of translating. It’s a chance to solve a mystery. The way I see it, if I was an expert at pig Latin in fifth grade I must have enough brain cells to understand my guy most of the time.

Cracking the code is key to keeping the lines of marital communication working smoothly. I think most women would agree. I know my friends do. And with all that we’ve learned about this special language over the years, we could probably teach a course for Berlitz.

Here’s my contribution to that collective brain trust, a few common phrases to jot down in your own Husbandspeak 101 primer.

Question: “Honey, what did we get Paul for his birthday?”
Translation: “I hope you remembered that it’s my brother’s birthday tomorrow and that you bought a gift and a card and it’s all wrapped up and ready to go.”

Question:  “Claire, have you seen the remote?
Meaning: “Why are we watching the Hallmark Channel when there’s a playoff game on ESPN?

Comment: “I have to take the car into the mechanic.”
Request: “Can you follow me down to the repair shop, so I don’t have to wait around for them to drive me home?”

Question: Did you buy any jalepeno-stuffed olives?
Plea: I can’t find the jalepeno-stuffed olives.

Question: “What’s for dinner?
Translation: “What’s for dinner? (Occasionally husbands do say what they mean.)

Since I have a lot of in-the-marriage training, I was very careful how I answered Nick’s Valentine’s Day question. My reply was honest and direct: “Honey, you don’t have to buy me anything. I know that you love me,” I saidcheerfully, kissing his cheek. “Don’t go to any trouble.”

I’m hoping he translated my words into: “You better not come home without flowers, chocolates and a card. And if you think I’m cooking dinner, you must be out of your mind.”

Lucky for me Nick is fluent in Clairespeak.

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