We still got the fire goin’ on! This is my January romance story.
This Sunday the 26th, Jesse and I will celebrate 29 years together. We met at a Super Bowl party in 1986. It was at a family style Fish and Chips place upstairs at what is probably the nation’s smallest country “mall.” I’d been living on my own with my two kids for a while. Then I rented a house in town which I shared with a roommate, Daisy* her young daughter, and my two children. We helped each other with our children and supported each other emotionally. Daisy was into football and I wasn’t. She didn’t want to go to the big screen TV showing by herself so she convinced me, after much urging, cajoling and bribing (she’d buy the meal), to go with her. I went along and the rest is a long love story. Jesse was sitting by himself near the front intently watching the game. He didn’t look around much or seem interested in making small talk except during breaks. He had on his red and blue flannel shirt and his trademark leather cap, now long retired. You know… men and their favorite hats…
So that is where we met. He owned a gift shop on the first floor of the 10 shop mall. I worked in a produce market. I had seen Jesse around town once or twice. He always looked very focused and somewhat serious. He had a slow and steady air about him. That part of his personality has never wavered. I needed security and he provided that for me.
Let’s back track a little.
As a teen, I never dreamed about Prince Charming, nor did I fantasize about long wedding dresses and being walked down the aisle. That was never in my vocabulary. I missed out on that one for some reason. Sure I was curious about that fancy kiss, and passion, but was more interested in the horse than the knight who rode in on the horse. I wanted an art studio. I wanted the writers’ shack.
In my twenties I spent a lot of time roaming around in the woods looking at plants, bugs and birds. I read and drew a lot. I loved music. I did two years of college before moving out west. My goal was to be an elementary school teacher for my bread and butter, and I was going to buy a bit of land, build myself a cabin and be the next Thoreau. As an independent woman, I had to find my way in the world in a way that made sense to me. Never, ever did I feel that it was a man who was going to give me what I wanted or needed in life. I had a strong need for self – reliance and a pioneering, free spirit attitude, probably to my parents dismay. Perhaps my resistance to frilly weddings was more about trusting people, or choosing men who were unwilling to make that commitment. As my story unfolds, the success of a long term relationship has worked as we celebrate nearing the three decades marker. I hope and pray this story continues. A man’s companionship meant everything to me; but I did not want to be traditional, however, I did end up being in a supportive, relatively happy and stable relationship. No long white dress. Not my style. Maybe in some other lifetime.
I am so happy to be with my best friend and partner. Admittedly, I had to come back and re-write this and leave out some things! Dorky, I know, but hey. We made it this far.
Adding back a list I post here and then deleted. Here are my do’s and don’ts:
- Compliment the other person. Show your love with hugging and kissing often. Nobody likes to be constantly criticized.
- Don’t expect the other person to fulfill every one of your needs. They are not super-human. Nobody can fulfill ALL your wants and wishes!
- Don’t go to bed mad at each other.
- In an argument, use the old adage “count to ten” before speaking.
- When you need alone time, schedule an hour or two, or a weekend getaway for yourself.
- When you need romance time, you have to tell your partner what you want. They can’t read your mind. Take a special weekend for yourselves. Get a babysitter, then go out, or schedule a room in a nice hotel, even if it’s just for one night.
- Little things like the dishes or coffee cups being returned to the sink are not paramount.
- Men use different communication styles. They like to fix things and do things for you. That is the way they show love, and the show love by making love. Sometimes you have to tell them what you need and want.
- Usually men don’t like to talk about feelings. Consulting any relationship books such as Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus can be helpful.
- Avoid narcissists at all costs. If your partner (or you) is never willing to say “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong”, and blames everyone else but him/herself, run the other way. Concession is absolutely necessary in a happy relationship. If you find that he (or you) is a “right fighter,” IE someone who has to win everything, or is a know it all, you might want to consider getting therapy, or might have to re-consider your partnership. One-upping is not love.
- Be willing to admit your shortcomings. Don’t go on and on about old boyfriends or male friends. Your husband/wife wants to be exclusively the only one.
- Anything other than honest and faithful relationships to each other does not work. This is only my experience.
Journal prompt: write about your relationships. Have you ever been married? What are your views on couples? What do you feel keeps a committed relationship joyful and sacred?
* not her real name
Copyright © 2014 text and art by Susan E. Rowland