Yea, I’m a dork. But I was her dork.
Not everyone has a great marriage. Some of the folks I have has the immense honor to speak with have had issues that are heartbreaking. Tales of substance abuse and other forms of abuse break my heart, and I wish I could do more than use my writing and humor to help these poor folks heal. I wouldn’t presume to talk about things I haven’t experienced and pass it off like I have a fucking clue. But I wanted to show love for those who have to deal with so much more than the loss of their partner.
By contrast, Me and Felecci had a pretty good marriage. Sure, we had our ups and downs. I was an only child and pretty much figured out how to entertain myself for years at a time. Felecci was the eldest and was used to much more interaction in the house. I had my hobbies which I had to curb as I matured and got older, but by and large we worked through any issues and always loved each other.
One thing that was always rock solid was our support for one another. Felecci was sensitive. If she felt you wronged her in any way she had this remarkable ability to shut you out completely. I used to call her a turtle because when she was mad she would go into her shell.
Over the years I learned how to coax her out of this shell. This required the utmost care. Too forceful and you had 4 days of silent treatment to look forward to. But if you didn’t show enough concern she was going to pack a bag and drive to her mother’s. Let’s just say I got good at reading her mind and I give great foot rubs. She could be mad and not talk to me all she wanted, but if I rubbed her feet she was going to let me stay in the room. And it is hard to be mad at someone who is making you feel good. Take notes fellas.
When I was mad, I didn’t get the same treatment. She had a knack for either making me feel guilty or somehow turning it around to make it my fault. Pretty sure woman gather into meetings to work out the most effective strategies to beat us in this arena. But she always cared, even when she was pretending not to. She was my best friend, and she always wanted what was best for me, even if I wouldn’t stop “being stubborn” and just do what she wanted me to do.
See, there are a few keys to a lifetime marriage that I learned from my grandparents:
You have to learn to laugh with one another. If you take yourself so damn seriously all the time that you can never look at how stupid you both are acting, then you will eventually get a divorce. You won’t enjoy life because you are spending all your time complaining about it instead of laughing together when things go wrong.
You have to have patience with one another. If you can’t learn to be less you, not so much her, but more together in the middle you will fight. I used to tell her all the time that the hardest thing in the world is for two people to live together, except for probably two people plus kids.
- Love them more than they love you.
If you are always concerned about yourself and you never think of your partner, then you will always have neglect. You need to love them more than you love yourself, and they in turn need to love you more than they love themselves. You help each other, and that is how you build a bond. This also leads back to compromise and creating middle ground.
No matter how great the sex is, how hot they are, or how much money they make; you need to like spending time together or else what the fuck are you two doing? This person is going to see you at your worst, you can’t have secrets from them and you need to enjoy their company. It just doesn’t work otherwise. This is why Tinder in general is a fucking dumpster fire of an idea for a dating process.
My wife and I had no problems with intimacy till that was slowly taken from us by Cancer over the years. Our marriage lasted because we still loved each other and we still were best of friends. There was nothing I needed from this woman besides her love, and I would have sacrified anything for her. I greatly missed the way we were, and show did she. But our diminished intimacy was not of our choosing, and because we understood one another this was not a conflict in our marriage.
Don’t get me wrong, intimacy between a couple is important, but it is not what keeps the marriage alive. She was my best friend, my lover, and my partner. In that order. And I am not sure which one I miss more, but I think it is the best friend. That is kind of what it feels like to lose a spouse. You don’t just lose one person, you lose THE person.
To be a widow/er is to lose the one person in the world you could count on to understand you. They are you support system. Without them, most of us are lost to figure out how to cope. Friends and family try to help, but sometimes they cause more harm than good with their words.
If you are a widow/er and you are lost, seek help. You always can pick and choose what you are and are not willing to accept. It can be therapy, or it can be a support group, or both! But if something isn’t working you need to keep trying. Do not allow grief to consume you; it is your most dangerous enemy if you do not face it and acknowledge it.
I miss my best friend just as much as I miss my wife. She would help temper my bouts of self-doubt. She would listen to my complaints, not judge or tell me what to do – just listen. She would remind me that she still wanted me even though she wasn’t healthy enough to take me. And I did the same for her.
Lacking her love to help guide my decisions, I try to keep her and what she would do in my place in my heart. In many ways, I feel a responsibility to succeed at my second chapter (stolen support buzzword alert) because she wanted me to. If you find yourself unwilling to get help for yourself, remember that your loved one would want you to. You have a life left to live, and someone who loved you greatly wants you to go live it.