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Pressed:  A Love Letter to My Husband by Shelley Robinson

28 Feb

 

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I write this love letter to you, my new husband of one year, to remind you of our age (50 something), and as a result, our collective wisdom (over a hundred years together).  Yes, we still have lot…

Source: A Love Letter to My Husband by Shelley Robinson

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Pressed:  Eighteen Hours by Chris Crawford

23 May

Source: Eighteen Hours by Chris Crawford

A lot of things can change in eighteen hours. I discovered this recently. It started by boarding a Boeing Dreamliner. Shelley, myself and about three hundred other people, partook in a flight from Vancouver, Canada to Inchon, Korea.

The flight was great and the food amazing.  We flew along the Pacific Rim of Fire heading north along the Alaskan Pan Handle. After an eleven hour flight of volcanoes, and an open ocean, we were greeted by Mount Fuji on the other side of the Pacific.

Upon arriving in Korea, we disembarked the plane and I stepped onto terra firma  for the first time in eleven hours. It dawned on me that I was now standing in the Far East. On first inspection, every thing seemed the same as Vancouver; however, I seemed to be one of the taller people in the crowd, but otherwise, there was no real difference. After a two hour layover, it was back on an air plane again and heading for Hanoi, Vietnam.

Once on the plane, things were noticeably different. Korean Airlines is the way to fly in Asia. Before the usual  safety announcements, all of the attendants who were dressed impeccably, lined up in front of three hundred passengers and bowed in a show of respect. Five hours later, we landed in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi.

The airport is the showcase of Vietnam. Everyone working at the airport was sharply dressed. All customs people were members of The Peoples Republic of Vietnam and were in military uniform. We had just arrived into a communist country. Shelley, having travelled to so many countries and having a passport with stamps all over it, always gets the second look. After a stern look from the person at the counter, the visa was stamped with a loud thump and we were free to explore Vietnam.

Once we made it through the customs, we were met by the hotel driver and walked out to the car. We were transported to the Old Quarter in Hanoi and the driver held up the traffic so we could make it across the road without being run over. This was our first taste of south-east Asian traffic. Even though it was eleven pm, the hotel manager Max and his assistant greeted us at the door with a large smile and a hot cup of ginger tea.

Eighteen hours of travel had taken us around the world.  It had landed us into an ancient culture and a city of 7.7 million people to explore. It would prove to be a trip of a lifetime. In two weeks, we saw people like us with all the same dreams and realities living day to day and working hard to provide for their families. We enjoyed seeing people sitting on little benches on the street sharing a meal or drink with friends talking on the street corner and sharing a laugh.

The continent, culture, language, religions, and customs were all different, but everywhere I have travelled the people are the same. The more that I travel, the more that I am starting to think on a global scale.  We are all on this planet and we are all the same.  If some being stumbled upon our planet and took a look at us on a global scale, they wouldn’t notice any of the differences that cause conflict amongst the different groups of people. To them we would just be of one origin. It’s a place called Earth.

Pressed:  One Week to the Wedding by Shelley Robinson

23 May

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Final Thoughts as a Single Person:  It is interesting how as I get closer to my wedding on December 19, 2015, how important the whole thing has become to both of us.  What started out as a simple “yes” to a romantic proposal has now required me to really take stock of what I value in a commitment of this nature, especially when it is not my first time around.  This time, I am heading into this marriage odyssey with my eyes wide open, and that makes it all the more interesting.

Some describe these last few days as wedding jitters and succumb to cold feet.  Others talk about it as this euphoric time of heady excitement and overlook the reality of what they are undertaking as a couple.  Interestingly, despite Chris and I having lived together before hand and having some life experience under our belts, I have been feeling a whole array of emotions from nervousness to joy.  Where before we both felt that getting married to each other was just a nice romantic gesture to “seal the deal”, we now see some larger value for each of us.  Perhaps we too have been indoctrinated, domesticated, and enculturated into a society that promotes this type of thing.  It has become evident to us that despite our initial non-challance about going through these traditional formalities, we do value the institution of marriage.

It has been interesting to watch ourselves evolve as we meet with the minister, go through the exercise of gathering our families in a small affair, and to decide how we want to commit to each other in a special sort of way.

Family Ties:   At first we were more interested in eloping.  The wedding seemed to be all about us this time.  However, when it came right down to it, we realized that where our families are all far apart, and disconnected from each other, this small affair might be the only time where they actually travel distances to meet.  Although this was not our sole purpose for marrying with friends and family, it became an important consideration.  Our children are adults, and our parents are getting older.  We grew up in different provinces, and our families have very little reason to know each other.  Therefore, we felt this a valuable opportunity to introduce them.  As well, we wanted to share this special event with our children, in particular, to model the value of this relationship experience.  We are learning that it is more than just an official photo opportunity.  It is a meaningful event that has forced us to really discuss our future in great detail and to ask our families to once again believe and support us as we make another commitment to someone new.

The Questions:    We decided to have a minister marry us.  We felt that there was a spiritual purpose in our marriage, and that a minister would be more apt to capture this essence of our union than a justice of the peace.  With this being said, we were careful about how that looked in a religious context for each of us based on our faith and beliefs.  The minister asked us some probing questions.  As well, we chose to do our own marriage preparation through some readings and questions, and the work proved to be both valuable, and challenging.  Again, this time around we recognized that part of marriage is romantic, but another part of getting married is very practical.  We were entering into a marriage of business, and at this age, impending caregiving of one or the other.  We have a window of a couple of decades before the “end is near”.  We both know that we need to use our time together wisely, and so our life priorities have been a focus of many discussions.  The link we found most valuable was the following put out by Nathan Cobb, PhD at http://www.nathancobb.com/support-files/marriagequiz.pdf.

Questions emerged over our past two months, and the really important ones in the last couple of weeks:

  • Love:  How do we meet each other’s love needs?  We talked quite a bit about hitting our love targets, and explored the idea of love languages:  http://www.5lovelanguages.com
  • Experience:  What do we want to do with our next ten years in the window of opportunity of our best health years together?
  • Time:  How do we want to prioritize our time?
  • Money:  How will we finance our lives together through sickness and in health?
  • Relationship:  How will we “do what it takes” to sustain a strong connection as friends and lovers?
  • Communication:  What works and does not work to help us align our thoughts and feelings together?
  • Self Help:  What work do we need to do to be our best selves so that we can be the best for this relationship?
  • Conflict:  How must we best address problems together so we are honest and respectful of each other?
  • Intimacy:  How should we live to insure that we cherish our intimacy together?
  • Employment:  How do we want to spend our final years before retirement?
  • Retirement:  What will we do when we retire, and how will we support our retirement years?
  • Prenuptial Agreement:  What happens should the unthinkable happen?
  • Celebration:  How do we celebrate and find joy in our wedding and honeymoon, and beyond?

What I have Learned:   It is really simple.  Marriage is a lot of work.  It requires telling someone that I will do what it takes to keep us loving, healthy, relationally functional, and financially viable for the rest of our lives together.  It is a big step for Chris coming our of a more than 25-year marriage; and a big one for me having only been married for a few years of my life, and a single mother for most of it.

Our first kick at the can involved a lot of hope, naivete, and steep learning curves.  Now, we have another chance to say “I do”.  This time, we have to develop the necessary marriage skills to be ourselves in the larger context of being a couple.  Both of us must unlearn, re-learn, and learn all of the things we will need to best be together as man and wife.  These are big steps for both of us, and as we get in the final stretch of the wedding, we see the enormity of the commitment.  It is best to admit that this is a scary proposition, but a valuable one.  I can never learn about relationships if I do not take on living one to the best of my abilities.  I am excited, happy, scared, and oddly calm, all at the same time.  How lucky am I to have this special opportunity to marry a wonderful man.

Source: One Week to the Wedding by Shelley Robinson

Pressed:  Second Time Around by Chris Crawford

23 May

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Life has a way of surprising me. I never thought that almost ten months ago that I would be living the life that I am now.  In one week, I will be marrying the grandest love of my life.  Some good questions that have come to mind for me are: How did I find her? Do I deserve this?

We saw each other’s profile on a popular dating site and liked what we read and saw. The challenge for me at first was to write a no nonsense profile and find just the right profile picture. This online dating site stuff was all new to me, but I thought it was a great opportunity at the same time. This time around I decided to really think about the relationship criteria that I was really looking for in a partner. She had to love the ocean, mountains and be happy to trek into the wilderness with everything she needed in a backpack. I wanted her to be smart and successful; and to top it off, she had to be kind of earthy and spiritual. I had a nephew tell me what I was describing didn’t exist, and I kind of believed him. I was resolved to live a life by myself if I couldn’t find this dream. The picture that I used for the website was from a viewpoint on a mountain on one of the gulf Islands.  I was standing in front of a vista with a smile on my face.

I set up the profile and started looking.  There were lots of people looking for love. None were meeting the criteria that I had set up as a shield against “crazy”.  It had been a few weeks and it was becoming disheartening.  One last look, I thought, as I looked through the profile pictures. I saw a smiling woman standing in the exact spot I had stood for my profile picture.  Reading the profile, I realized that she was very educated and loved all the things that I was looking for in my profile. She lived a half hour from where I lived. The pictures had been taken three hours away from where we both lived. One quick message that was answered with a call from me asking if she would like to go for coffee and a walk. Ladies and Gentlemen, here I am getting married ten months later to the love of my life—my soulmate.

Since meeting her, so many things have come to light. Her grandfather and mine are both from a small county in Northern Ireland. The county is so small that our families would have known each other. I like to think if things were different and we had both been born in Ireland, we would have found each other there too. That is how I think fate works. It just took me forty-nine years and a world to find her.

Do I deserve her?  We all have had a life and learned along the way. The lessons that I have learned in my journey have made me the person that I am today and the person that she loves. We all deserve to be happy and loved, so the answer is, “Yes!  I do deserve her and all the happiness and everything in between”.

This Saturday, Dec 19, 2015 , I will marry Shelley in front of our family and friends. It is the start of a new journey together. We are committing to each other.  We will grow old together; become grandparents, and be there for each other. To have a second chance, leaves me speechless. Actually, I have one word only to describe –Blessed.

Source: Second Time Around by Chris Crawford