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Marriage Isn’t For You

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Kim and I

Kim and I

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. :) I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raisethem? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and aguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

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Marriage is about family.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

 

 

 

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The Last Time (grab a box of Kleenex)

 

 

by Devon Corneal

Tonight, Little Dude asked for a snuggle before bed. It was well past his bedtime and I was tired, cranky and had a stack of laundry to fold, a memo to write and a blog post to finish. I told him I’d snuggle for two minutes.

He crawled under his blanket, squirmed until he was comfortable and pushed me to the edge of the mattress. He offered me his favorite blankie to keep me warm. I put my arm around him and he was sound asleep before I had finished cataloguing the list of things I had to do before I could crawl into my own bed. I considered making a stealthy escape but stopped when he threw his arm around my neck while mumbling unintelligibly. A sleeping 4-year old’s arm has as much strength as a soggy piece of toast, but I didn’t move. Despite my earlier desire to leave, I stayed and pulled him toward me.

I had one of those rare blissful parenting moments when everything else fades away and you appreciate the simple physical presence of your child. I marveled at the amount of heat a small boy produces when he sleeps and the ease with which he leaves the world behind. I smelled his hair. The laundry could wait.

It hit me in the darkness of his cluttered room that these days are numbered. Some night in the future, Little Dude will ask me to snuggle with him before he falls asleep, and I will have no idea that it will be the last time. I won’t know to pay attention or to try to commit every minute to memory. Days or weeks or months later, I will try to recall when that last snuggle happened. I won’t be able to. I know I will ache to slide next to him on his narrow bed, listen to him breathe and wait for the moment when he surrenders to his dreams. All of the irritations, the inconveniences and the wishing for time alone will seem insignificant in comparison to the warmth and peace of his nighttime routine. I will regret the times I hurried through bedtime and left his room even though he asked me to stay “Just one more minute, Mommy.”

It will be too late.

I just now understand that in anticipating my son’s “firsts,” I’ve forgotten to appreciate what he’s left behind. The firsts are monumental, celebrated and captured on film. I reveled in Little Dude’s first steps, jotted down his first words and am prepared to save lost teeth. There isn’t a first I haven’t recorded in some way. I’ve paid less attention to his “lasts.” I’ve ignored the finality that comes with moving from one stage to another.

I don’t remember the last day that Little Dude’s eyes were blue before they turned green. I can’t recall the last time his hair was baby soft and curly, or the last time he crawled or took a real nap. I can’t pinpoint the last time we shared the peaceful quiet of a 3 a.m. feeding, or he squealed with joy to be riding his wooden rocking horse. There will be a hundred last times to come. And I won’t know they’ve passed until there is no hope of recapturing them. I know this because I don’t remember the last day he used a pacifier or waited for us to get him from his bed rather than clomping into our bedroom at some ungodly pre-dawn hour exuberant and ready to face the day as we struggle to open our eyes. I’ve forgotten when he stopped liking sweet potatoes or saying “Pick mine up!”

Not that there aren’t stages I’m happy are gone. I don’t miss teething, two-hour feedings, biting or needing to be carried everywhere. I’m neither Pollyanna nor a masochist. Babies are darling; I’m also glad I don’t have one anymore. Raising children isn’t all warm snuggles and charming memories. Parenting can be a long, hard slog.

But for today I’m focusing on the last times still to come, even though I won’t know that they’re the last chapters until long after they’ve gone. The last snuggle. The last time Little Dude asks me to bring him chocolate milk. The last time we play fire trucks. The last time he falls down and comes crying to me with his entire body shaking, tears streaming down his face, believing with childish certainty that a kiss from me will make his skinned knee better. The last time he asks to marry me. The last time he believes in my omniscience. The last time we color together at the kitchen table. I’m not naïve enough to believe that this moment of reflection will stop me from becoming irritated, impatient, frustrated, bored or upset tomorrow when my son whines, spills spaghetti sauce on the rug or throws a fit because I won’t let him stay up late. Maybe, though, I’ll temper my response if I can remember how fleeting this all is. That for every moment I’ve prayed would end, there is something I miss.

 

 

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Love is the Decision of an Adult

Love is the Decision of an Adult

I don’t remember where that quote came from, so I thought I’d look it up.  Can’t find it anywhere.  It feels good to know that there are some things that one cannot “Google.”  What does manifest itself is that after 6 brief years with my wife,  we love each other more every day.  Why?

An old and dear friend of mine, although she can be somewhat of a brat at times, taught me a cruel and beautiful lesson:  quit looking for the right person, and BE the right person. Love for another, although part of the general universe and the omnipresent Agape Love of The Creator, comes from within.  I am able to love another in direct proportion to my ability to love myself.

After being dismissed from by my ex-wife after 16 years of marriage because she didn’t “feel like” being married any more, I had the obligatory period of mourning.  Aside from the fact that I had been cast out of the house that I had inhabited for some 22 years, it was the loss of my family.  My girls were left in the care and nurturing of my ex’s new boyfriend, and the family holidays no longer required my presence.  It was a great time of self-pity and morbid reflection, followed by a resolve that it was indeed not all my fault, and that there was a self in there somewhere worth saving.

Figuring out that there was something to offer to the world was half the battle.  The next thing that came to mind was that it was imperative that this wonder be shared with a significant “other.”  What wiring the Universe, “God” if you will, put in us to make us feel that we need a mate is a great mystery, but for many it is irrefutable.  To me, life is at its fullest when being shared.  To this end began my summer of love via Match.com.  I was determined that my life was not going to be lived alone.  It never occurred to me that I was really never alone, and that God, the Universe, and soooooo many wonderful people were all around me, but off I went in search for the “right” person.

Over the course of the summer I met and “dated” probably thirty or forty different ladies.  A couple of times I felt the feelings of infatuation that manifest in the ways of youth:  dizzy dancing way I feel, weak in the knees, etc.  It was the second time that happened that the realization came to me that it was not about the women that I was with, because they were entirely different.  Upon reflection, the women that I have really loved and felt that way about throughout my life have had very few similarities.  That wonderful dizzy dancing way I feel is just that.  It is the dizzy dancing way I feel.

Love for another, although part of the general universe and the omnipresent Agape love of The Creator, comes from within.  I am able to love another in direct proportion to my ability to love myself.  The past couple of days have been very satisfying for me professionally:  I have a couple of clients that are really listening to my advice, and empowering me to be really creative and productive.  That is always a great feeling.  When my wife comes home at night there is no insecurity or self-pity to get in the way or our enjoyment of each other.

Giving of one’s self is the most satisfying aspect of a relationship.  Whether it is knowing your children will finally appreciate you when they “grow up” and not clinging to them when they do, or simply knowing when to say “that’s great dear, you go have fun” in general.   My wife is a senior executive in a global corporate travel management enterprise; therefore travel is a major factor in our relationship.  She also has many close friends and a huge family, all of which is very healthy and great.  I am envious, as both of my parents have long since passes, and my only siblings are half sisters that are a great deal older than I.  Mary is gone lots with her friends, and my life has evolved to be more introspective and solitary.  There are many great friends and activities in my life, just not as often as she is gone.  I still take great pride and joy in seeing her thrive and be able to take advantage of her many outside opportunities.  It is never healthy to have all of one’s eggs in one relational basket.  That is why it is so common to see one spouse pass away almost immediately after the other.

I have a deathly fear of heights.  I get dizzy at the top of a step-ladder.  It showed its head a few times in my youth, like at the top of the Eifel Tower, but really didn’t manifest itself totally until I suffered a severe concussion in a snowmobile accident (apparently they are not meant to jump 30 foot double motocross hills).  Mary, not keeping my phobia at the top of her mind at all times, got this wonderful opportunity to spend a couple of nights at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco.  Thinking that this would be a wonderful and romantic weekend for us in The City, she never thought to enquire as to the vertical parameters of the event.  Being aware of my own limitations, I made some queries, and found that the Hotel occupies floors 37 through 48 of a tower that looks down on the Transamerica Pyramid in downtown San Francisco.  Needless to say, I had to tell her to have a wonderful time in the five-star accommodations, while my own humble residence for the weekend will be a few blocks (and several hundred feet in elevation) down the street.

The examples could go on and on.  We’re going to visit her parents in Vancouver WA for Thanksgiving, and now were going back again at Christmas because all of her brothers and sisters will be there.  It happens to be a financial burden that was not expected at this time of year, but the joy in her face made it more than worth it.  The list is endless and it couldn’t be any sweeter.  I’m quite sure hers is twice as long with me.  She wakes up every morning before I do and puts a cloth over my eyes so that her reading lamp doesn’t disturb me.  The point is that we made a commitment to love and honor each other, and that is what has made it work.

The more each of us sacrifices and gives, the more we love ourselves.  It is a phenomenon that has existed in fable and fact for eons.  The more we love ourselves, the more we are able to love others, and I love her more every day.

 

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Five Situations That Require You to be Assertive

For all those demure, shy, intraverts out there, it’s time to take heart and learn to be assertive. There are some things in life that absolutely require that you take a stand. If you don’t, you will end up missing out on a lot of opportunities and getting trampled by other people. So here are some situations that will require you to get a backbone and stand up for yourself a bit!

Family. When it comes to family, you want all of your relationships to be balanced. If you have a sibling or a parent that doesn’t give you the same respect you give them, then that is obviously not a balanced relationship. The point of a family relationship is to support each other in whatever circumstances. So make sure you exert enough effort to make it a balance of give and take.

Dating. If you are a man, you need to pluck up that courage and make the move. There are plenty of girls out there who are perfectly capable of making the move for you, but she doesn’t want to date a man who is a limp noodle. You need to show some initiative to make her feel like you have the capacity to take care of her. And girls, don’t let a man push you around. Have an opinion and contradict him sometimes. You don’t have to fight with him, but express an opinion once in a while and make yourself more than just a plain Jane.

Health. We all know that doctors are busy people. Many of them have so much on their plate that they don’t have time to address all of your health issues unless you specifically ask them to. However, remember that you are paying them and have the freedom to go somewhere else if you don’t like the service you are receiving. Thus, if a doctor isn’t giving you the attention you deserve, then you must ask for it. If you pose your concerns with firm sincerity and a true plea for help, they are going to listen. In the end, you will be glad you flexed your assertiveness muscles in order to help you feel as healthy as possible. If you are needlessly suffering, you only have yourself to blame for not insisting on more help.

Home. When speaking of home, I mean not just the actual structure, but all of your personal items as well as what happens inside and out. Your home is exactly that, “yours.” If you are paying for it then you have the right to dictate what goes on inside and outside of it. That means laying down the law when your kids want to have a wild party. It’s also great to lend things out to neighbors or compromise on having that neighbor’s trees shedding leaves on your freshly cut grass. However, if someone takes advantage of the space that you have purchased for yourself and your family, then you are in your rights to take a stand. It’s ok to say no if someone wants to borrow your lawn mower, but you don’t feel comfortable lending it out to them.

Job. Face it, the people who are more assertive tend to get the jobs. Employers want someone who can express an opinion and show ingenuity. If you want to get the job of your dreams, or any good job for that matter, you need to learn to show assertiveness in the interview and the workplace. You don’t have to overwhelm others with it, but act confident and offer an opinion here and there. This is always hardest in an interview or your first few weeks on the job as you get a handle on things.

As you learn to become more assertive, you will find that a balanced life is very enjoyable. It takes practice to overcome the fear of sharing your opinions. So get started today and take a stand on something small, even if it’s just a restaurant giving you Root Beer instead of Coke!

About the Author

Tiffani Azani is a motivational writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers gets people to get off the couch, get back to school and get in the career of their dreams. The Colleges and Careers Web site provides a listing online schools are what they are looking for.

 

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Labor Day Gift for Parents: Since the Apple Won’t Fall Very Far From It, Plant Your Tree Accordingly

Oh Lord, what have I done?  You have turned me into my father, and my children into me.  It says in the “Good Book” that the sins of the fathers will be vest unto the 3rd and 4th generation.  Does this mean that they have to go through EVERYTHING I did “growing up?”

I have two wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, rebellious, independent daughters that I wouldn’t trade for the world.  It hasn’t always been that way.  Believe it or not Daddy was not a perfect saint (nor was his father) and there might have been the occasional indiscretion during their collective childhood that might not have seemed politically correct.

Having been a professional photographer since high school (thanks Cindy) and also possessing a rather unique sense of humor (thanks Frank Zappa) there have been instances where my more devilish side took precedence over what my mother (and current wife) would have thought acceptable.  If your child is already hysterical and throwing an incredible hissy fit for not getting her way (down to the swimming pool fast enough) what harm could evolve from taking advantage of their relative lack of mobility (being 18 lbs at the time) and hanging them on the hotel coat rack – just for a quick photo?  Child Protection Service does have a statute of limitations, don’t they?

There  also might have been the occasional excuse to throw a giant party in the back yard, invite the whole neighborhood and entire Christmas list, buy a couple of kegs and have my buddies bring over a band or two and play music ‘till the cops come.  Thankfully it was usually an excusable occasion, like St. Patrick’s day in June, and usually a reasonable hour when they finally broke us up because the neighbors across the canyon (a mile and a half away) began complaining around 1:00AM.  It is always nice to have a few friends on the police force.  There is nothing quite as heartwarming as finding your three year old toddling across the living room floor (as the adults all migrated outside) helping mommy and daddy by draining the last inch of beer, mai-tai’s, and margaritas’ out of all of the cups lining the tables.  The next morning was not usually a good one for any of us.  Thanks again for that CPS reprieve.

Having had the neighborhood built-in pool, the trampoline, the pool table in the basement, etc.  My babies were raised in, shall we say, a convivial environment.  Don’t get me wrong, we went to Church at least once a week, were involved in worship ministries, field trips, the wife taught Sunday school, etc.  Just a couple of times a year we let our hair down, so to speak.  Having myself grown up in a similar environment there was no sense of hypocrisy at all.  My parents’ best friends were good old German Missouri Synod Lutherans, and every Sunday after church we’d get together with a few dozen folks, including the Pastor, for cocktails and a bar-b-que.

My wife and I were good enough parents in most ways;  helped with homework, softball games and sodas with the other kids parents in the parks on Sunday afternoons, lots of sleep over’s, and plenty of hours on weekend mornings watching Barney and Sesame street.  There were piano lessons, they both got there kiddy Black Belts in Karate, and we put them into a Spanish immersion school.  Our two little perfect babies really never gave us any trouble at all for so long.  Then there was High School.

I’m not saying either turned bad, or got into a real huge amount of trouble, but the attitudes changed.  As is the custom in California my wife decided that not all marriages were made in heaven, and that the grass was indeed far greener on the far side of the hill and we divorced when the girls were just entering High School.  Now I’m certainly not saying that I was any saint, and that she didn’t have a reason or two to want a change of scenery, just that the “better or worse thing” was something I took seriously.  Anyhow, timing being what it was we still tried our damndest to provide a stable environment for the kids.  I moved, and so that the kids didn’t have to move during high school we split the assets in a way that allowed them to keep the house that they grew up in.

Partly, I’m sure, blaming me for that and a few other faults, and partly that they just reached the age that I remember so well as spreading wings and a total disdain for authority, Daddy became persona-non-grata for each of them for a time.  Thank God it seemed to alternate years, and one of them was always being at least cordial.  Remembering my own high school and early college years, I think most of the time I came home it was to visit a girlfriend.  We didn’t hang out a ton, but that was just the way my parents were treated by then too.  We still had the annual waters ski trips to our secret lake, but instead of cousins and their mom’s family (we stayed friends, but that just got a bit weird for a while) the girls started bringing their friends, and boyfriends, and coming up in their own cars.

The eldest graduated Valedictorian in her high school, and is the case with so many second children; the younger had no interest in competing for grades.  She is just as smart and will do just as well in life, but the 4.3 thing just wasn’t in the cards at the time.  They also both took turns being the “wild child.”

After both threatening to spread their wings and go to school back east, the younger one ended up attending my alma mater of UCSB, and the eldest ended up at USD.  I guess dad brought them up to be California kids after all.

What brought this up is that currently they are both calling me, unsolicited, just to talk.  This is MAJOR and recent.  My older one had some boyfriend problems and needed a few extra daddy sessions, and my baby had some issues with attendance, but that has been resolved and she actually is going to summer school this year and is actually graduating a year early.  I am taking the long weekend and driving down with my new wife (both kids went to dads wedding two years ago) to see my baby in SB.  We spent the first week of the summer with the eldest at my new wife’s family reunion in Utah.  Great people, but the heat made that a huge sacrifice.  They have both turned out with wonderful aspects of their mother, and of me.  They are independent, directed, hard working, stubborn, loving, kind, bossy, empathetic, and giving young ladies and I could not be more proud.

The point is this:  for those of you with young ones, be patient.  They will hurt and destroy you, disrespect and loath you, scare the bejesus out of you, piss you off, and generally take you to the poor house.   If you’ve done a reasonable job of loving them and nurturing them, with the grace of God (and a little luck) they will turn out just fine.

 

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A True American Family: A Place Where it’s NOT All About Me

I just returned from my wife’s family reunion in New Harmony Utah.  No I’m not kidding; it’s a real name, and a real feeling.

Having been an only child, and one with older parents at that, this is a serious change from my day to day life.  Being able to have an internet business, and being a writer, one is afforded a degree of personal freedom that is unequalled.  I get to go where I want, do what I want any time I want to, and have my friends over or visit them when I want, but it’s all on my terms.  My life is quite organized.  When it’s time to shop the stops are all planned sequentially and the timing is such that the stores are usually quite empty.  Shopping in the morning (right after the commute dies down)  allows me to skip the traffic jams, not have to wait in long check-out lines, and generally avoid people.

This “planning” and organization went out the door the second we got to the airport.  The only two airports that grant access to New Harmony are Salt Lake City, about 4 hours away, and Las Vegas, about 3 hours away.

We chose the latter.  Despite the hedonistic appeal of the city to foreigners to gamble, drink, and purchase sex, Las Vegas is to me a quintessential arm pit.  After the obligatory visit to the Bellagio fountains, the city seems to run out of charm quickly, and have that replaced with street barkers handing out whore trading cards amid the rubble of a shabby tinsel town drowning in its own excrement.  There are other places to “party” and certainly other attractions around the area, but the “strip” doesn’t hold up well if you stray off a block or two, or have to behold it in daylight.

In three hours we went from 2,001 feet to 5,800 and that was among the least of the changes.  The skank of the bowels of Vegas yielded to the amazing desert and Zion Park.  The painted rocks and canyons were an absolutely stunning contrast to the city behind, and we quickly lost the hurried frustrated feeling and began to succumb to “vacation mode.”

Upon arrival at our hotel, we were greeted by a few family members (only about 10) milling around the grassy area by the swimming pool, next to the lobby.  It was not clear at the time, but this was to become the family conference room for the next few days.  There were Pace’s flown in from Florida, Denver, Portland, and Chicago.  My wife came from a family of 5 kids, and the families descended on this tiny “Little House on the Prairie” community with the eagerness of a cloud of locusts on a ripe corn field.  After serious deliberation it was decided that the cloud would migrate towards a local Mexican cafeteria.  Every place we descend upon immediately becomes Pace Place.  The kids range from 2 years old to 21, the eldest being my daughter who actually gave up another huge family reunion with her mother’s (we divorced a few years ago) side of the family.  The entourage of the Robert Leslie Pace “posterity” numbered 21 folks for this event, so getting everybody to agree on anything is nothing short of a miracle, but it gets done.

We held golf tournaments, the great 5K “Pace Race” the morning of the reunion, had the reunion itself, visited local aunts, parents, grandparents, and cousins, had a family softball game, field trip to Kolob canyon with another fairly long jaunt, and visited the family ranch and graveyard, all with absolutely minimal planning and discussion.  There was barely any dissent, actually none among the family, and a minimal amount from the resident “only child.”  Things didn’t go according to plan, because there basically wasn’t one.  Dinner, save for the structured events, seemed to simply occur.  The plans for breakfast got botched the first day, but we all got fed.  Nobody seemed to keep track of which kids were riding with whom, to what destination, but in the end everybody arrived safe and happy.  The girls all got along great.  My 21 year old daughter became the “pied piper” of the younger cousins, a role identical to that she would assume when she returned home and drove up to Pine Mountain Lake to be with her Mom’s family of 20 or so.

The weekend ended with an impromptu Fourth of July parade, the time actually not set until the passing thunder storm could be assessed, and a carnival on the baseball field at the end of the street.  It wasn’t clear who paid for all the prizes for the kids, but it’s a pretty small community (population 190 as of 2000) and they take care of each other.

On the way back in the plane there was a young adult that thought it would be a great idea if he plopped his head in the window to watch the landing, and make sure that nobody else could.  It seemed odd to observe the “it’s all about me” attitude that can be the mantra of so many.  It is my sincere hope that the feeling of community and family love that has been my experience this weekend, can linger a bit in my day to day life and help me to live it a bit more skillfully.

Thank you Mary for sharing your beautiful family with me.

 

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