love and relationships


I am not a poetry fan. Of all the visually digestible words there are, poetry ranks least in my favor and so, it is the rare poem that moves me from cool glance to lukewarm* interest. But this poem is an exception to my disinterest:

And okay, I will admit that a man with an accent from just about anywhere in the UK has me at “hello” in terms of my attention at any rate, but this poem speaks to my young self. The girl who whiled away whole weekends with her nose in a book. Any book. Who made projects out of hunting down everything written on every person, time period or historical event that caught her fancy and held it for more than the time required to breathe in and out.

And it speaks to the “girl” I am now, who can still be swept away by a fictional vista that only the author really can see for sure.

It’s not often that a work of fiction moves me to invest anymore. I am over reading the classics for literature’s sake. Literary narrative reminds me too much of university and I refuse to bow down to the notion that Jonathan Franzen isn’t long-winded, rather pretentious and not particularly original.

I like print wherever it’s printed. I’ll take my words carved neat with sharp points or wildly pontificating or with heart dotted i’s and j’s. As long as they sing arias that intrigue, inspire or infuriate me to thoughts I wouldn’t have otherwise had – I am good.

Women in my youth, but today as well, are not loved for our words – the ones we read or the ones we write. Still it’s mostly about our shapes. The size. The firmness. And the age. So a man who comes to appreciate the package because of what’s inside and not the other way around is a rare find, worthy of note and further study.

To all you girls who read then, take heart. There are indeed those who find the trait attractive, and rightly so.

*I prefer my world lukewarm for the most part to perhaps a shade about room temperature. Even tea is better “just right” unless I am nursing an asthma ravaged set of lungs or a sore throat, but even that has temperature limits.


A yoga class.

Image via Wikipedia

I teach yoga two evenings a week at the local community center. Class size varies from one session to the next but there is a small core who sign up every time. One of them is an older lady who lives down the street and for 76, having never done any yoga prior to starting classes with me a year ago, she is incredible spry and limber. It’s amazing to see her progress and to know how much she enjoys and values the instruction. Introducing people to yoga and watching them find themselves in the practice is even more joyful than teaching grammar was back in my public school teacher days of yore.

During the winter months, Rob usually walks me over to the hall where classes are held. It’s not even a two-minute jaunt. Just out the back door, down the drive, up the alley and across the street. But it’s dark, icy and made more precarious by the bags I schlep with me. He carries my equipment and I point the flashlight, and the process repeats in reverse an hour later when class in complete.

Last night, Rob ran into our sweet elderly neighbor as he was hustling up the alley to walk me home from class. Greetings were exchanged, but Rob stopped to chat because she had halted in her tracks and he had a feeling she wanted to tell him something.

“Your wife is so lucky,” she said.

He didn’t reply and she continued,

“You carry her things and walk her to class and then come back to help her get home. That’s just so nice.”

“Just doing my part,” he replied.

He told me the story later and I concurred,

“I am lucky and I know it,” I said. “I read so much about men who have no idea that it’s the little things day in and out that matter the most, and here I have you. I never have to ask you to pay attention, help out, or for much of anything really. You just do.”

Kind of reminds me of the lyrics to a song I shared not long ago,

There’s no way to describe what you do to me
You just do to me, what you do

Except it’s more than what’s done to me but what is done for me.

He would argue, correctly, that this is a mutual thing, which is as it should be.

But, I am very lucky. I don’t take that lightly or for granted.


A local radio station has a Facebook page where they post a daily topic and invite listeners to post their two cents. Today’s topic was a tired old retreading of the false divorce stats that conservatives and ultra religious types love to trot out to support their somewhat punitive ideas about relationships and marriage.

The gist of their query was soliciting relationship advice from the listeners.

What Do You Do To Keep Your Marriage From Ending Up a Divorce Statistic?

From the predictable to the not funny came the replies, but the red herring stats fired me up enough to go and google up something resembling actual numbers and here is what I found:

  • The percentage of marriages in a given year that will end in divorce before their 30th wedding anniversary has increased slightly from 36.1 per cent in 1998 to 37.9 per cent in 2004. [3]

 

  • In 2003, the risk of divorce decreased slowly the longer a couple stayed married beyond three years. [4]

 

  • The divorce rate for first marriages is likely lower; “first marriages have a 67% chance of lasting a lifetime.” [5]

 

So while Canadians marry at fairly low rates per capita (with Alberta’s number being the highest, which is a reflection of the economy here more than anything), getting hitched is not a death knell for a relationship. In fact, statistically, you have a greater chance of splitting up if you just live together than you do if you marry the object of your affection.

Rob and I have been discussing the “living together” versus “marriage” thing recently. Apparently one of his sisters-in-law suggested to him – a month before we married – that he and I simply try living together first to “make sure it will work out”.

The worst advice you can offer a young couple is “live together for a while” because “trial marriages” actually have the worst statistical survival rates. The only non-legal arrangements that fare worse are those of couples who move in together to “save money” on rent or other bills. The only really good reason to live with someone before marrying them is love. Going into a co-habitation without love, and a commitment to a future together, is just asking for the privilege to someday argue furiously over who gets the cat or the flat screen tv.

But marriage advice. I don’t know that I’ve spent enough of my adult life married to qualify as an expert but here goes:

Shower together.

Yes, that’s it. Shower. Together. Every night if at all possible.

Okay, sure, open communication. Putting the other’s needs at the top of your to do list daily. Common interests, value systems and goals. And being able to have discussions on a wider range than simply the grocery list and the children. All important. As is, according to new studies, just being consistently kind to each other.

Showering together? Key.

Why?

Good question because I certainly didn’t shower with the late husband. But with Rob, we discovered very early that the most surefire way to touch base, in a manner of speaking, every day without fail was to take our nightly shower together. You can’t avoid conversation, eye contact and a certainly amount of physicality in a shower – just ask anyone in prison, if you don’t believe me.

With a small child, the shower became the logical “get away” when we were on holiday and cramped together in a single hotel room, and it has always been a good way to reconnect at the end of long days when other contact was limited.

I’d like to add that it’s a good way to conserve water and soap, but that just hasn’t been a side benefit.