Today I was reminded of something I heard on the radio a few years ago. An organized group of aged women, calling themselves the Golden Apples, gather to support and encourage young women who are still in the throes of motherhood. What a concept!
Raising children is not easy. The idea is that many of us who have “been there and done that” can provide suggestions, and through our example, give good advice.
Marriages go through dry spells and mine in no different. I was blessed to have a mother who was full of practical ideas. Early on she suggested that we find inexpensive things to do that would help us to connect. So we did. We always found a walk by the beach, an ice cream through the McDonald’s drive through, a snuggle on the back porch, taking a ride to look at the lights, or picking wild flowers brought us back together.
It is easy to feel neglected, so sometimes I would write him letters telling him all the things I loved about him. Men need to feel needed and respected. Women need to feel emotionally connected. Mom always talked about making sure that I told him how he makes me feel protected and thank him for taking care of us financially. It really helped. As a result, he gave me what I needed emotionally, because he was so pleased with my words.
I remember going through a particular time when I was sad. I was just bummed. I was tired of wiping noses, watching Barney, cleaning the house, and I needed adult conversation really bad. He wasn’t getting it. He was so tired when he returned home that he didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I was in the dumps and would cry after he went to sleep at night. I felt used and like all I did was take care of other people’s needs, but nobody took care of me. I wanted to be pampered. So, I prayed for him. I mean I actively prayed for him. What I found was that MY attitude changed and because MY attitude changed, so did HIS. The next thing I knew was that he perked up, suggested date nights, and we came to look forward to our one night out a week. We hired a babysitter for 3 hours, which gave us just enough time to grocery shop and go through the drive through at McDonald’s. We made a pact to not discuss the children for the whole time, which we often failed at, but we returned rejuvenated and ready to tackle another week. Later, when the children were teens, we would make “therapeutic ice cream runs” to town and back. It was amazing what an hour would do!
Another suggestion from Mom was to write my husband letters. Sometimes when I was the angriest, he had no clue. I would send him long love letters that described all the things I loved about him. In them I would sneak in the things that were bothering me and he never knew it. For example, if I really needed him to help me with the housework, I would say, “I love it when you help me with the laundry. You fold towels better than anyone I know.” Sometimes I would sneak notes in his truck and his lunchbox. I learned to say more than “I love you”, but to be specific. “I love it when you shave your whiskers and wear that cologne. It reminds me of our first date. Empty compliments are better than no compliment, but a specific ones mean it was meant for you.
My husband has never been a big gift giver and he rarely gives me a card. Mostly, because we are usually broke. However, I can tell you my favorite gifts of all time.
- My diamonds, because I waited for those until LONG after our marriage and he saved his coffee money for years to get them for me.
- Flowers, because he loves them so much and every time I see them I think of him.
- A soda and candy bar when he knows I have had a terrible day.
- Random acts of home improvement
Intimacy starts before the bedroom. When my husband goes out of his way to help me in the house, to act engaged in how my day went, and surprises me with random home improvements, he melts my heart. Recently, he took apart a section of the basement to made me shoe storage. He knows that I just love shoes. They make me happy. He made me the most wonderful rack, and did the same in our old house. He made me closets with shelves to store the things that make me happy. This scored his some serious points.
Women are called to be role models and with that comes a huge responsibility. I hope that through my mother’s example and suggestions, I can be just that to my children. Life hasn’t always been easy. In fact, there have been times in my marriage that I had every right to walk away and no one would have blamed me, but I hope that if I haven’t done anything else for my children, it is that I have been a faithful example to stay with your spouse no matter what. I have prayed for him, encouraged him, and stayed faithful to him for nearly 28 years of marriage and I don’t regret one single day. A promise is a promise.
When we feel like we are stuck in a rut, it is the responsibility of BOTH of us to pull out of it. Our key words are: “We are living like roommates again.” This means that we need to step it up, reevaluate, and reconnect. Sometimes it can’t be helped, but often it can. Marriage takes work and I won’t give up! I am determined to make this thing work.
So for all you young mothers out there, don’t give up. It will be all right. Write your husband letters, tell him that you respect him and that you are thankful that he takes such good care of you and the kids. Pray for him every day, and mean it. Not only will it help him, but it will help you as well. Take time for your marriage, even if it is only 3 hours a week. It is that important especially since your children are watching. Every day I choose to keep my vows and I choose to love him no matter what.
So the challenge of the day: Am I being a Golden Apple to the young women that I come in contact with? I hope so. Maybe that is part of the reason why I have been tossed around so much. Perhaps as a result of my challenges, I can support others. I hope so.
Thanks Mom for being my Golden Apple.