Thursday, April 30, 2009

Romance: Is It For Everyone?

ROMANCE: IS IT FOR EVERYONE?

Yesterday my husband and I went to the bank to deposit money for Georgia Romance Writers and then on to Wal-Mart to buy some food and some plants.

The teller at Bank of America noticed the name on the deposit slip and wondered if I was Georgia Romance Writers. After explaining about the organization and telling her that I was a romance author, she became excitedly interested. You see, she reads romance “all the time.” Then she went on to explain that her husband gives her a hard time about reading “that stuff” so she told him that she wouldn’t have to read about it if she got it at home. (ohmygosh!) I gave her my card and one for PetitFoursandHotTamales and she said she would check us out.

Then I went on to Wal-Mart where hubby pushed one cart (with the potted flowers we want to buy) and I pushed another cart with some grocery items. When we got to the counter, my husband came up to my cart to help me with the cases of Coke on the bottom carry rack of the cart.

“Here, let me help you,” he said. “Why, thank you, sir,” I responded. When he finished, he went back to his cart, but my quiet husband and I like to play games sometimes, so I turned to the cashier and said,

“Since he was so kind and helpful, just ring his things up on my tab and I’ll pay for them.” The young girl looked like she wasn’t sure what she should do.

“Well, okay, I guess…if you’re sure.”

Dick started laughing and told me that I had to tell her the truth. (Guess he cared more about the young girl’s concerns than he did about us getting a laugh out of our joke) So I laughingly told her that we have been married 4 decades. She laughed also and looked relieved.

Then came the questions. “You guys have been married twice as long as I’ve been alive. How do you make it work?”

She isn’t married, so I started out with what I hope was sage advice.

* Be picky. Don’t marry the first guy who comes along.
* Try to spend enough time with the person to be sure he won’t be emotionally, physically or verbally abusive.
* Try to be honest about whether you really want to look at this person for the next 40, 50, or more years.

Then I explained my faith in God and how faith and religion play a huge part in our distribution of responsibility in our marriage. I believe the man is the head of the family, so if we can’t agree or we can’t find a compromise, I bow to his leadership. (Unless, of course, he wanted me to be involved in something illegal, but I’m not worried there)

The conversation on that subject ended with my husband adding that if couples could stop and think for 5 seconds before speaking out in anger…taking the time to quickly determine if whatever the discussion is about will actually be important next year, that might curtail a lot of disagreements. “Prioritize before engaging in a fight,” he told her.

So, with the divorce rate in America today at over 50%, what’s your suggestions to long-term marital bliss? What do you think is needed to turn a good marriage into a GREAT marriage? What do you think are required traits in a mate? Does romance figure in your happily-ever-after?

23 comments:

Tammy Schubert said...

Sandy,

Your advice is right on. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to be picky.

I wasn't that particular the first time around. Being in the military, far away from home, it was easy to fall into what I thought was love. Needless to say, it ended in divorce. The man was very nice-a good guy. We just weren't compatible at all.

This time I am very happy that I took my time and went through a lot of frogs to find my prince.

I love the advice, "prioritize before engaging in a fight".

Thanks for the great post and sharing some wonderful pointers on marriage.

Christy LaShea said...

LOL about the trips to Walmart and Bank of America.

Great post and I totally agree with the advice you gave the cashier. You're sharing secrets of marriage to help everyone!

Sandy Elzie said...

Good morning Tammy,

My busband tells the story about the 10-cow wife. It goes that a man in an African village offered 10 cows for the hand of a woman who had been passed over numerious times. The normal bride price was one cow and since she was an old maid he could have gotten her for a couple goats.

Before long, though, the village noticed a 180 degree change in the woman's self confidence, self esteem and even her outward appearance.

His conclusion is that if you treat your spouce like the 10-cow wife that she CAN be...she will become that person since there is a 10-cow woman in all of us, but sometimes we're trampled on (or stomped on) and that person inside can't shine.

I think the same goes for our guys...there's a 10-cow guy inside...just hidden in some cases.

Thanks for the nice words.

Sandy

Debbie Kaufman said...

Romance is definitely a part of our HEA. We've been married 31 years and without romance....

We do a twice monthly date night where each one takes turns planning. Sometimes you need the "enforced" time together so life doesn't run the romance over.

Sandy Elzie said...

Debbie,

You are so right! Life will stomp on marriages if we allow it.

Since we're retired we no longer do "date nights" like we did when there were still kids at home...that we needed to get away from for a peiod of time to refuel...now our entire life seems like one long date. (g)

On our anniversary we trade off each year on who will be the one to plan the celebration. Sometime I should blog about the year I planned a trip to the Napa Valley Wine country (while we still lived in Calif) and arranged for us to have mineral mud baths. Too funny.

Christy:

Just like we offer helping hands to those who are just starting the writing journey, I think people who have succeeded in any endeavor should share some of their secrets, share some of what helped them get to the point they've achieved.

Thanks for dropping by and sharing with us today.

Sandy

Sally Kilpatrick said...

I've only got eleven years under my belt, but I think you're on the money. My husband likes to reference an episode of Mad about You where Paul comes to the conclusion that being in a relationship means you only have permission to be happy if your spouse is happy. Not entirely sure how I feel about that all time, but the underriding idea that your partners feelings and concerns should be your own holds true.

Also, I guess we "prioritize" before getting into a fight, too. We were discussing the other day all the little things that can irritate you, but if you put it in perspective it's not that big of a deal.

As for romance, it's tough right now with the 2 kids, but we try out best to have some "us" time at least once a month. I have been known to write him some truly awful poetry, and he's made some of the sweetest gestures you'll ever find (scavenger hunts, floral bouquets with flowers that represent each letter of my name) He's a keeper!

One of the sweetest things he's ever done though is to enroll me in grad school for Christmas. It came with a lovely letter that said that because I had supported the family and done my part to help him follow his dreams, he was sending me to grad school to follow my dream of becoming a writer.

If you're prone to cavities, I apologize. : )

Sally

Sandy Elzie said...

Yes, Sally, it sounds like you definitely have a "keeper".

In order for any marriage to have quality longevity versus just quanity longevity, there will definitely be times when you have to put the other person's feelings/wants/desires ahead of your own. You did that for your husband and he was loving, sweet, romantic enough to do the same for you.

Kudos!

Sandy

Tami Brothers said...

I love this story, Sandy. Too funny. AND too bad your hubby couldn’t keep the joke going. You two sound like me and my husband, but I’m the one who would be explaining to the cashier…

I LOVE that 10 cow story. I hadn’t heard that but it is so true. If you treat people the way you want to be treated, it usually comes back ten folds. Thanks for sharing this with us today.

Tami Brothers

Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Tami,

We've played similiar games, but usually with an older cashier and not where the person was concerned about getting in trouble with her job. Once I was writing a check (tells you how long ago it was) and my husband said in a loud whisper, "Do you think your husband will notice the extra money you've spent for just a weekend?" "No, he won't be home for over a week, but he never looks at the checkbook anyway. The woman kept looking up at us as she scanned the groceries...wine, cheese, crackers, etc, and looking, and looking. To this day she probably tells the story about the time she heard......

Sandy

Susan May said...

Nice post. I think John Wayne said it best in one of his movies. "After awhile you just get down to living." Andy and I have been married for 26 years. We have enough water under our bridge I wouldn't want to be with someone else. My husband still makes me laugh, sometimes even when I'm mad at him. Looks, money, child may come and go but liking, really liking who you are married to is important.

CiCi Barnes said...

Great story, Sandy. Hubby and I have also been married forty years. We started out as excited love and lust, but along the way we picked up a settled and relaxed caring to go with that love and lust. It's served us well through happy times and sad, good times and bad.

One time at a family gathering, I jumped up to get hubby something he asked for. My daughter-in-law wanted to know why I'd do such a thing. He was capable of getting it himself. I told her I did it because I loved him and that he's waited on me on many an occasion.
She also wanted to know why I didn't make him help me in the kitchen. I told her because he didn't make me help him cut the grass, wash the cars or take out the garbage.

We have a mutual respect for each other's likes and dislikes, we both give and take. Nobody wins when you keep score on who does what. Do things because you care.

As for romance? Don't put a one-word definition to it. It's not just sex. There are a million ways to define romance and you discover those as you move through life with your mate.

Thanks, Sandy, for giving us a reason to reflect on the loves of our life as we start this hectic day.

CiCi

Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Susan and CiCi,

Very insightful comments ladies.

Susan, you said your husband makes you laugh. That is soooo important. We watch movies all the time. We have a habit of quoting lines from movies that fit the situation going on at the moment. Some times he'll start laughing and we'll both quote the line together. You learn to know what the other is thinking.

CiCi,

I loved what you said "nobody wins when you keep score". That is so true! Be prepared to give 200% is that's what is needed for that day...and pray you can relax the next day and only have to kick in 50% (g).

Sandy

Marilyn Baron said...

I love your husbands' 5-second rule and his 10-cow woman story.

My husband and I are about to celebrate our 35th anniversary so we must be doing something right.

One thing he does that's nice is wash all the pots and pans in the house even if he doesn't use them. I will put dishes in the dishwasher but I always leave the pots and pans stacked up and he always washes them.

I really enjoyed your post.

Marilyn

Sandy Elzie said...

Marilyn,

That's sweet that your husband has found a way to help you in the house by doing something that you would rather not do yourself.

My husband told me a long time ago to always leave putting on sheets until time for bed and he'd help me just because it's so fast if two do it. Well....except that my cat, Jack, has discovered that if he can get on the bed...under the sheets when we're trying to make the bed that we'll play with him by attacking him. Actually, I think it takes twice as long now to make the bed, but it's a fun time instead of a chore.

Sandy

Nicki Salcedo said...

Sandy, this is your second post about marriages and I think you and your husband should write a she said/he said marriage advice book!

You are proof that people who think about making their marriage work do make it work. I don't think it matters how as long as both partners make it a priority to care for each other and the relationship.

Romance figures into it, but realistic expectations and common goals helps. I also think of three nice things about my husband every day. I like him. He is pretty okay! Thanks so much, Sandy!

Sandy Elzie said...

Now, Nicki, when you think of "three nice things" about your hubby each day, are you by chance referring to those three precious little ones he helped you make?
(g)

Thanks for the nice he-said/she-said comment, it's not the first time anyone has told us this. Our kids even think we should write a book.

You're right about realistic expectations. If a girl get's married with starlight in her eyes, thinking the guy's job is to keep her happily ever after, well, that lasts about a month.

In our house, it's kind of like the scene in the movie Hooper where Burt Reynolds is throwing the beer can toward the trash can and even though he misses, he get's it within ten feet...which is what Sally Field said was acceptable. If both of you are trying to hit the mark and each are willing to accept the other and love them even when they don't quite hit the goal, then the marriage can work.

Sandy

J Perry Stone said...

My husband and I like to talk about our relationship in terms of an "emotional back account."

Obviously, the best account to have is one where the other person constantly making a deposit. I do for him; he, in turn, does for me. It sets up a lovely dynamic where both make a constant effort.

However, when one person mistakenly makes a withdrawal from your account, hopefully there is still enough cushion that you don't bounce a check. I can forgive the infrequent withdrawals because of the constant deposits.

And I totally agree with your list, Sandy.

I very much enjoyed this post.

J Perry Stone said...

As for traits in my ideal mate:

-NOT insecure. Insecurity is the stuff of cruelty

-Lets me be myself

-Fair

-Listens

-Good work ethic

-Puts family first

-Likes garlic

And yes, romance ALWAYS figures. But asking me is like asking a race car driver if speed is important ;)

J Perry Stone said...

I just described my husband. Now I have to go show him this so he can see my deposit.

Sandy Elzie said...

J,

Great "deposit". I like the thought of all the little things we do as being deposits into an account...just as long as one or the other partner never hords. Love isn't the same if we hord it...it must be given away. Same with compliments, kind words, soft touches,smiles and, yes, romance. But then all the things I mentioned contribute to the romantic atmosphere in a relationship. It all counts, go continue to give it away...keep making those deposits and both of you will be happier for it.

Thanks for the comments.

Sandy

Linsey Lanier said...

Sandy,

Very clever post. Can I go shopping with you sometime?

I believe a marriage works when two people are looking out for each other's welfare and happiness. It's about being partners, companions who face both the joys and the trials of life together, giving each other the love and support that can come from no other source. Hard to do, hard to keep doing, but well worth the benefits.

Linsey

Maxine Davis said...

Sandy, such a good post! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think romance is a part of it but I've always lived with the rule: Just be nice to each other - as if it were a very good friend. That causes me to hold my tongue some time because I would not say such bad things to my friend. And you know what, it turns out, he is my best friend. We are in love and actually 'like' each other a lot too.

Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Linsey and Maxine,

Thanks for the nice words and glad you enjoyed the post.

My husband and I enjoy life and each other. He thinks nothing is too good for me...and I agree with him. (just kidding...sort of (g))

It comes back to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would want them to do to you. We treat each other like our best friend, like our special lover, like the way we want to be treated in return...although that's not why we are nice to each other.

You know, someone at church years ago was telling a friend a story about Dick & I and couldn't remember Dick's name, so she said..."You know, that couple who always hold hands." Amazingly, the woman knew immediately who she was talking about.

It's sad in a way that she didn't have to rattle off a whole list of names...people who held hands)

Have a great evening

Sandy