As Long as We’re Together

Many times we have said: It doesn’t matter where we are, as long as we’re together.  There is truth in that statement.  It is always better to be together than to be apart.  In the past few months we have been both together and apart.  In August I was getting ready to present a seminar in Haiti and very busy, so Rita went to Texas for a week to visit enjoy time with our grandchildren while Dan and Rhonda took some time away together. I missed her when she wasn’t here, just to chat and sometimes help me work out something for the seminar.  On the other hand, I was working toward a deadline and didn’t have to make excuses for putting in long days.

The last two weeks of August we spent in Haiti presenting the seminar.  Rita was with me and a great help assisting me with a variety of tasks, including leading some of the activities.  We have worked together in teaching and presenting retreats for many years and that is always a good time for us.  We each enjoy listening to the other and being able to jump in to support the other.  I like to watch and marvel at how well she works with people.  The down side of those two weeks was that living conditions weren’t great and I had to spend each evening preparing for the next day.  Her presence there made it easier for me, event though we didn’t have much time or place to just relax together.

In mid September we left the Chicago area on a 20-day, 5000 mile drive through the western U.S.  Those days we spent ALL of our time together.  In the first two days we were in the car together for 1100 mi.  We spent some time talking about many topics, from the scenery to praying together to talking about our lives and our future to comfortable periods of silence.  Some days we were in and out of the car as we shared views of magnificent scenery.  They were special days as we had little distraction from just being together and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation.

In early November we went back to Texas – together this time.  Next we will go to Connecticut for Thanksgiving with our daughter’s family and two of our sons will be there with their families.  Family times are always good.  We get along well and have a great time together.  At the same time there is some stress staying in someone else’s home.  The kids acknowledge this is true for them when they visit us.  One of the issues for us is that sometimes it takes effort to get a little time alone and connect with each other.

Sometimes it is good to be home – just the two of us – where there is a level of comfort and routine that, for us, is fairly relaxed most of the time. We can each do separate things in different parts of the house, but periodically wander where the other is and talk for a few minutes or pass by and connect with a silent touch – Rita likes to kiss me on the top of my head as she goes by. Home is an anchor, a place to always go back to.

So it is true that it is enough to be together, no matter where we are, but it is also true that we experience our relationship differently in different places and that is also very good for us.

We thank God this Thanksgiving for all the good things we have, for the opportunity to live for a time in different places, and especially for family, friends and all the good people who bless our lives.

We wish you a blessed and thankful holiday.

Please leave your comments below.
._________________________________________.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

On our calendar:  Great Expectations – at Queen of the Rosary Parish, Elk Grove Village, IL  February 14, 2015.  Married couples and engaged couples are invited.

Posted in Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Folding Fitted Sheets (Continued)

Last week we wrote about wasting time in our relationship.  It occurred to us this week that it might be good to think about what we do that could look like wasting time, but isn’t,  and directly addressing issues so that we don’t waste time.

Sometimes it might appear that we are wasting time in our relationship when we really aren’t.  We sometimes think that if we aren’t together 24/7 or joined at the hip we are wasting time.  We have found that that isn’t always the case.  We have found that having a discussion about what needs to be done for the day, week or in preparing for visitors allows us to divide tasks gives us time in the end to spend with each other.  I don’t need to go to the big box home repair store with Bob every time he goes.  Some times I do go, just to be with him, or if he wants my opinion on something.  Preparing for the holidays falls a lot on me.  We have discussions and Bob supports me in the shopping but it seems to go faster if I work on them.  He helps with the wrapping and the last couple of years he has helped me with a few baking projects.  Separating to work on things that need to be done doesn’t necessarily mean we are wasting time in our relationship.

At times we do car trips to Ohio to visit our extended family.  Our children used to refer to to Indiana as East Nowhere.  (we’re not disparaging Indiana, it just got in the way of getting to see their grandparents or aunts and uncles and cousins.)  We now make that trip alone but at times we find that we can use the East Nowhere time as time to do things that we enjoy.  We sing along to music, I have read to Bob and we’ve had some great discussions, we’ve worked on blogs etc.  We’ve also found that silence on those trips isn’t wasting time.  It gives us each time to think and then use time to talk about our relationship and where we want it to go.

Bob isn’t a big TV watcher.  He would rather read or surf the net than watch TV.  We do on occasion watch it together.  Bob has made more of an effort recently to watch even a program he isn’t interested in just to spend time with me.  Having the ability to record things we watch little live TV.  We can stop it if one of us has something to say speed through commercials so watching the program takes less time, or enjoy a program together as we’ve been doing recently with the PBS series on the Roosevelts.  Bob has laughed when this history major has discovered things I hadn’t studied or the scientist has been drawn into history in ways he never thought he would be.

Even though we are retired, many of our days are quite busy with projects we individually and together are working on.  We still think that maintaining physical contact is good.  Bob is very good at stopping to give me a hug or kiss when he is in the room with me, gets the mail or makes his lunch.  I often stop by his den or when he is outside to give him a pat on the shoulder or kiss the top of his head as he sits at the computer.  We still hold hands when we shop or in the car.  The physical contact is good for us and encourages us to not waste time.

One of the biggest ways couples waste time is the avoidance technique.  Something bothers one person but they go over and over in their minds what the other has done or failed to do, said or didn’t say.  We try to avoid this and just face what doesn’t seem to be right.  The same is true in a sexual relationship.  One can wait for a cue from the other that indicates that the time is right rather than making suggestions or taking actions.

Take a look this week at where you do good things in your marriage.  Life is indeed too short to waste time.  Knowing what you do to enjoy each other and then doing that more often is a great way to make good use of time.

Enjoy some “wasted” time together this week.

Leave your comments below.

._________________________________________.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Intimacy in Marriage, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help | Tagged , , ,

Folding Fitted Sheets

During the last week both of us have encountered a comment about folding fitted sheets.  I saw posts by several people on FaceBook about how to fold a fitted sheet.  Bob saw a book titled “Life is too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets.”  The method proposed is the one my mother taught me and I’ve used as long as we’ve been married.  I have never followed the thought of rolling up fitted sheets and shoving them in the closet.  It doesn’t fit with my need for organization.  I don’t spend a lot of time in the task.  The title of the book made me think about how many things in our life we actually waste time on.  Several years ago we first gave a presentation on Aging Joyfully Together.  One of the things we talked about is amount of time wasted with petty quarrels and not reconciling differences, not only in a marriage, but with all our relationships.

In a marriage it is of utmost importance.  Irreconciled differences is one of the major reasons couples divorce.  Even among couples who stay together but not really happy differences that are not reconciled are observable in the lack of physical contact, in words exchanged and snide comments made about the other when s/he is not present.  Too much time is wasted keeping score, holding the other accountable for petty actions, taken or not taken, that have little significance.   Focusing on pettiness instead of encouraging, supporting, or praising the other is a bigger waste of time than folding fitted sheets.  I often wonder how much time we have wasted not listening to each other, not being fully attentive to each other or holding on to words that the other said and we interpreted as unkind.  How much time have we wasted on the edges of our bed rather than cuddling together in the middle.  The list could go on, but we invite you to think about the time you have wasted in your relationship.

Beyond our relationship but affecting it are the times we waste not reconciling with others or holding on to petty disagreements.  We were at a family funeral recently and I was aware of the petty differences that some hold on to.  It is in all the comments that are made behind some one’s back or the avoidance of conversation.  It is not just in our family.  In some ways it is less in our family than in many I have seen.  I’ve seen it when parents and children no longer speak or see one another.  There is great heartache when persons speak of the fact that they have grandchildren they have never seen.  Brothers and sisters sometimes don’t speak or don’t come to family gatherings.  While not directly in a couple’s relationship even these things detract from the marriage relationship because hearts are affected.

As the holiday season once again approaches, family squabbles often rear their ugly heads in all relationships.  We encourage you to take some time to look at where you are wasting time in your marriage and all your relationships. You might be more thankful this holiday season and reconnect in ways you haven’t in a while.  You might even fold fitted sheets while you do it.

Please leave your comments below.

._________________________________________.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Aging Together, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , , ,

Is there anything new about marriage?

This morning Rita made the remark that we really know the basics of living together that produce good, happy long-term marriages.  The information is readily available.  Nevertheless, the news media constantly carry reports on new research about marriage and the supposedly important consequences of his behavior, her behavior, the benefits of marriage over being single and many other marriage-related topics.  This prompted me to do a Google search on “new research about marriage.” I have listed the first page of the search results below.

The National Marriage Project.org.  Research and Analysis on the Health of Marriage and Family in America .

Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/marriage-research/
As if the tax breaks and the cuddling weren’t enough, new research shows that married folks have yet another advantage over their divorced counterpart.

Marriage Study – Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/marriage-study/
They say a diamond is forever — but new research suggests the bigger the diamond engagement ring, the shorter the marriage might be. Economics pr.

A Wife’s Happiness Is More Crucial than Her Husband’s in …
news.rutgers.edu/research-news/…marriage…study…/2…
Rutgers University
Sep 12, 2014 - When it comes to a happy marriage, a new Rutgers study finds that the more content the wife is with the long-term union, the happier the …

Want a happy marriage? Have a big, cheap wedding
CNN‎ - 2 days ago
A new study found that couples who spend less on their wedding tend to have longer-lasting marriages…

Researchers name new snail species for same-sex marriage rights

What Makes a Successful Marriage
TheBlaze
Aug 20, 2014 - Unmarried individuals hoping to have a successful marriage can turn their attention to a new study that sheds some light on the potential steps …

In Brief | Knot Yet ReportKnot Yet Report
twentysomethingmarriage.org/in-brief/
The age at which men and women marry is now at historic heights—27 for …. Delaying Marriage Has Serious Consequences For Some, New Research Reveals

Ten Important Research Findings On Marriage. For Your…
Marrying as a teenager is the highest known risk factor for divorce. People  who marry in their teens are two to three times more likely to divorce than people who …

Happy wife, happy life? New study says ‘yes’ | Fox News
Sep 9, 2014 - For married couples, when the wife is happy with the marriage, the husband has higher life satisfaction, according to new research published in …

Without reading the associated articles, I can draw some conclusions about the effects of these studies and the way they are reported that indicate some of the silliness and misinformation they convey.  I find many of them silly and amusing but do have some concern that they seem to be offering simple, quick fixes to complicated relational behavior.

Some of the studies have information that is solid, but not new.  Example:  It has been known for many years that teen marriages are the riskiest. (To be fair, this one comes from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and is intended to provide important information to people who are considering marriage and people who work with married couples.)

Often headlines are sensationalized and the articles don’t report the real results of the study.  Examples:

Want a happy marriage? Have a big, cheap wedding.

new research suggests the bigger the diamond engagement ring,  the shorter           the marriage might be.

The problem is that this kind of reporting suggests cause and effect that does not exist.  We humans tend to associate causal relationships to things that coincide in our lives.  There may be some common personality characteristics that have a slight effect on marriages, but certainly the size of the diamond or the wedding reception themselves have no direct effect on the outcome of a marriage.  Letting such things significantly affect behavior borders on superstition.

Often a look at the details of the research reveal only that there aren’t any real differences, e.g. The differences in the happiness levels or number of divorces in a group with the studied difference in characteristics is very small and has meaning only as a reported statistic, but tells you nothing about an individual couple.  Other things are vastly more important.

Many of these are so silly that I wonder that anyone would even waste time on the research.

All that said, many of the reports can be fun to read and make jokes about, especially when you take them as the silly and meaningless research results that they report.

One final comment:  “Delaying Marriage Has Serious Consequences For Some.”  It would have for us – if we had waited four years, we would have lost 4 great years of living together.

What do you think?  Leave a message below.

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Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Newlyweds | Tagged , , , , ,

A Dreary Fall Day

It is a dreary fall day.  Not any different than if the sun were shining and yet it is different.  Sunshine somehow gives us energy whereas dreary days, at least for most of us, make us want to pull up the blankets or hit the snooze alarm one more time and sleep for a while longer.  Is that what marriage is also?  It is easy to be enthusiastic and want to do things to enliven and enrich our marriages when we perceive that we are in a sunshine time in our marriage.  When there are rainy dreary days most of us just like to coast along for a little while.  I think both have their place.  Seasons and rain and sunshine occur naturally.  The amount of time spent in each place changes depending on where we live.  Marriage can be the same way.  We know many couples who seem to have many rainy days, even when the sun is shining outside.  We also know couples who have sunshiny days when it is rainy outside.  We have to make accommodations for the weather and we must do the same in our marriage relationships or we will be hit with a deluge or extreme cold spell and not know who to handle it.

One just has to open a news website to find suggestions on marriage and relationships.  We’ve been looking at these for years and nothing new pops up any more.  They are the same topics we have written about here or in our book, Forever and a Day, or things we have spoken of at marriage enrichment programs.  However, I do think it is good from time to time to read these sites, read topics in our book or other books or attend a program that is designed to enrich the marriage you have.

There aren’t really new topics but perhaps a little different twist on how we might approach things.  In the seventies and eighties couples went away for a long weekend together to a marriage retreat.  Some of those couples lives were changed forever, some for a while and some went home the way they went to the experience.  As times change couples tended to just want to go away together to a getaway island or Vegas thinking they could work on their marriage together.  Perhaps they had nice dinner conversations or took time to make love more leisurely than at home and they came away renewed at least until they got out of the car at home. The experience might be better if an agenda was set up before to engage in a discussion of some of the things each promised they would talk about or get to, sometime.  Today, I’m not sure where or what couples do.  Some still go away to marriage retreats although the number is small.  Many still go away together, some are so absorbed with children that there is little room for couple time.

This week our suggestion is to think about what is it that is keeping you in the rainy days of relationship.  Where is there dull routine with little excitement for each other?  Most couples can readily identify where they need to work in their relationship.  If you don’t know what to do to bring the sunshine to your life perhaps consider going to one of the websites, read a book together or attend an enrichment program.  New seasons or weather changes just might occur.

We would enjoy hearing your thoughts about what you do with the seasons or weather days of your marriage.

._________________________________________.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help | Tagged , , , ,

We’re Home!

On September 16 we started driving west from Chicago with the intention of seeing some of the western part of the U.S. that we had never visited and to move toward our goal of visiting all 50 states.  We arrived home with two states left – Washington and Alaska.  They are on our list of places to visit in the future.  We saw some of the great natural wonders of the western part of the country – Pike’s Peak in CO, the Grand Canyon in AZ, Bryce Canyon in UT, Grand Teton and Yellowstone in WY.  We also visited some of the wonders built by humans – Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Salt Lake City and Mt. Rushmore, SD.  We were in constant awe of the mountain landscapes that kept changing as we moved from one place to another.  If you are interested, you can see some pictures here.

This has been a busy year for me – the seminar in Haiti held my focus from Feb through Aug – and there were times when Rita felt abandoned, even though she supported me through the process and was my assistant in Haiti.  We looked forward to this trip as a time to reestablish contact.  While there is more to do with the data we collected and that will probably go on for some time, I made a promise to put it all aside while we were traveling and to give her my full attention.  (He did other than when he was taking pictures. :))

On this vacation we drove 5000 mi in 20 days.  That means that we spent a lot of time together in the car and everywhere else.  We were together 24 hours a day.  We took turns driving and spent much of our time just “visiting”.  We talked about many topics as they came up. We commented on the sights we were seeing.  On some days that meant repeating the word “wow” over and over.  On long stretches of less inspiring landscapes (endless corn fields or pine trees) we sometimes listened to the radio and drew material from it or listened to music.  Since we had no fixed itinerary, we spent time in the car and in hotel rooms planning a couple of days ahead and finding accommodations.

And it was all great!  We were reminded that we still like each other a lot – necessary under the circumstances.  Looking back on the trip, I am reminded of our dating days when we could talk for hours on any subject and enjoy being together.  The Denver Museum of Art is a building with walls, ceilings and windows that meet in crazy angles.

It messes with your balance and we laughed as we held hands to steady each other and gripped the hand rails on the stairs to keep from falling. We held hands as we looked down from the top of Pikes Peak and other high places.  We enjoyed an organ recital at the Mormon Tabernacle.

It was also necessary to be flexible.  Something will always happen that will force a change in plans.  The day we drove from Colorado Springs into Utah, we stopped for dinner at a truck stop in Green River, UT with the intention of getting a hotel there. (It was the best restaurant available.  Not my usual fare.) The food wasn’t bad, but we didn’t know that they had a watermelon festival going on and all the hotels were full.  We had to get on the internet (thank heaven for smart phones) and find another stop.  There isn’t much along I70 in UT and we had to drive for another 3 hours.  The drive turned out to be interesting (especially for Rita, who was driving).  She was freaked out when she could look ahead and in the mirrors and to either side and see NO lights.  At first she thought something had happened to the mirror.  In the end, we survived it well and had a good place to sleep.  Sometimes the glitches lead to pleasant surprises.  As we were leaving Yellowstone the car indicated that it needed an oil change.  Since dealerships were few in the western states we decided to go to the one dealer which was not far away in Bozemen, MT.  It is a very nice town with interesting shops and stores.  We enjoyed walking around downtown and getting lunch at a nice restaurant.

I arrived home feeling relaxed and close to Rita. It was a great time to be together.  I am also determined not to let the other things I do get in the way of having time for us to spend together.  On the last leg of the drive home we talked about things we can do, like day trips to nearby places.

It’s time to start planning our next vacation…Europe?

Please leave your comments below.

._________________________________________.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

Posted in Aging Together, Dating, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Dreams IV

We have been on the road for two weeks and are looking forward to the week or so remaining until we are back home. It has been a great two weeks+a day.  When Rita wrote last week we were in Arizona and about to head to the Grand Canyon.  While we only visited the south rim of the canyon, that was enough to experience the grandeur of God’s creation.  We took a shuttle bus along the rim of the canyon, getting off at some stops.  Sometimes we got back on the bus to the next stop.  Other times we walked the trail along the rim to the next stop.  It was several hours of enjoying the beauty and thanking God over and over that we were allowed to experience it – especially to be there together.  Everything about the Grand Canyon is enormous and majestic.

From Arizona we drove to Bryce Canyon in Utah.  That trip was the first time I have ever been stopped for going less than 10 mph over the speed limit (74 in a 65 mph zone).  Fortunately, I got off with a warning.  We were relieved and it has kept me no more than 4-5 mph over the limit since.  Rita always drives a little slower than I do, so we don’t worry about her being stopped.

Bryce Canyon is much smaller than the Grand Canyon and we were there only for a couple of hours.  We saw it as just as magnificent as the Grand Canyon, but for a different reason – it contains an enormous array of unique sandstone formations like we have seen nowhere else.  Rita had a great time picking out formations that resemble something – the Parthenon, a cowboy hat, and in front of it Jesus with his arms outstretched, among others.  I was fascinated by the late afternoon sunlight as it lit up a group of rocks.  We have been amazed on this trip at the many different landscapes we have seen in mountains in different states and areas.  Bryce Canyon stands out as one of the finest.

On Friday we drove from Bryce Canyon to Salt Lake City.  We were stuck there at the airport for a few hours many years ago, but had never seen the city.  The downtown area, at least, is very clean and modern and is dominated by the headquarters of the Mormon Church.  We learned some facts about it and attended an organ recital on the magnificent organ used by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for its concerts. Saturday was rainy, so we decided to stay in our hotel and just take it easy.  We had been running pretty hard, so it was good to read and doze and not be driving or sight-seeing.  It helped that our hotel was the best on the trip.

Sunday we drove to Jackson Hole, WY.  It was also rainy there and we arrived late in the afternoon, so we found a good barbecue place to eat, then spent some time looking ahead for things to see in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

Monday morning was still rainy, so we went to Mass at the little Catholic church in Jackson in hopes that the weather would clear later in the day.  Unfortunately, it did not , and our experience of the Tetons is driving by mountains mostly lost in the clouds.  In spite of that we took some winding mountain roads and still found interesting streams and other sights.  One section of road was marked as unpaved on maps, but looked to us like it was just in great need of repair.  It reminded us of the roads in Haiti, but it wasn’t that bad.  We stopped for lunch and had some good soups to tide us over until dinner.  Our reservation for the night turned out to be a cabin in the woods, just south of the entrance to Yellowstone.  It was much like a basic hotel room, but no internet, TV or cell phone service and nothing to do nearby.  We stayed in our room for dinner and grazed on the food we brought with us in bags and a cooler.  We managed to come up with some pretty decent nachos.  Rita says that it was as close as she ever wants to get to camping. For years Rita has avoided playing Scrabble with me, saying that I always win.  Last night we finally played a game and she won.  Maybe she will be more willing to play in the future.  I have to say that she was very kind and didn’t gloat.

Today, Tuesday, we spent a lot of time in the car, driving from one feature to another in Yellowstone.  We very much enjoyed being together as we were in awe over the beauty of mountain rivers with rapids and water falls.  We crossed the Continental Divide and saw many of the volcanic features of the park – mud pots, fumeroles and geysers.  The crowning attraction was seeing the Old Faithful geyser erupt.  What a magnificent sight!  It was still raining off and on, but that didn’t dampen our spirits.  One of the best features of the day was seeing a herd of bison in fact one was directly in front of us on the road.  Rita got a great picture of him/her through the windshield.  They are magnificent beasts but we understand quite dangerous.

We have seen so much beauty in these two weeks that it is hard to grasp what we have seen and will continue to see.  It overwhelms the senses and the brain.

This trip has been very good for us.  We have had time to be together without the distractions of everyday life.  It is a great blessing to be able to experience these wonders of God’s creation and an even greater blessing to share the experience.

From here we will spend one more day exploring Yellowstone, then turn the car east and make our way home, stopping to see other sights along the way.

We hope that you are enjoying your lives together, wherever you are and what ever you are doing.

Enjoy

Posted in Aging Together, Couple Relationships, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , ,

Dreams III

We have driven 1500 + miles since we last posted our blog.  It has been a wonderful week with many great moments for us.  The words the Apostles spoke to Jesus on the Mount of the Transfiguration continue to run through my head, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”

We can’t begin to put everything into words.  So many times we just looked at each other and said, “Wow” as we viewed the scenery and the landscape.  As we drove from one state to another we realized once again that we leave behind the cars with that states license plates and suddenly we are traveling with those from a new state.  It reminded me that it is a lot like our life together.  We have people who are quite important to us for a while as we journey through our marriage and share a common interest, but our interests, activities and involvements change and so do the people.  It is not that we have forgotten them.  We have great memories of the things we did together but we continue to move on through life.

It has been great to once again be together just the two of us.  It has been some time since we traveled along without others we love or in a tour group.  We have had great conversation, funny inside jokes, made off-hand comments to each other, enjoyed great and simple meals together and had time to just hold hands and hold each other as we fell asleep or woke.

We are also amazed at how little things happen that provide us with special moments.  As we were getting into the car to drive to the top of Pikes Peak the music on our media card was “Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music and our prayer that morning included a petition to care for the environment and one for people who needed us to think of them and pray for them.  We have also worked together in driving and navigating.  We have only been tense a few times when, even with the car’s navigation system, we made a wrong turn or couldn’t find where we were going.  Mostly we could laugh at ourselves as it seemed every time I got behind the wheel we hit construction or letting the fuel get low because we couldn’t find a diesel station.  More often than not it has just been good to be together with no radio, no one else but us, and to marvel at the beauty of God’s creation.  One particular aspect of this trip that we hadn’t thought of when we began was that we could encounter the changing of the leaves.  As we drove across Colorado the Aspen trees had such an intense color of yellow that our sense of sight had difficulty sometimes taking it in.  It reminded us of times when things in our relationship were so intense that it was difficult to comprehend.

While we have seen pictures of Las Vegas, nothing prepared us for the immensity of the properties there, just as nothing prepared us for being married.  While most told us we wouldn’t like Vegas, we had a great time and in the busyness we found lots of intimate moments together.  We shared with each other our hurting feet as we walked for miles, finding our way when we didn’t know where we going, having wonderful meals together and reminiscing about our trips to Europe as we had crepes in a French Cafe in the Paris Resort, talked about our gondola ride on the canal in Venice while we were in the Venetian, having Paella and Sangria in a Spanish restaurant and remembering tossing coins into Trevi Fountain in Rome so that we would return.  We didn’t throw coins in the replica here, not because we didn’t want to return, but neither of us had any coins.  We laughed as we said we were doing Vegas our way which meant we didn’t gamble at all and drank very little.  We were reminded on more than one occasion that we are aging as we had less stamina to climb stairs and walk as far as we once would have.  But we were thought of Sr. Joan Chitister’s book titled “The Gift of Years”, in which she reminds her readers that with age, life changes, but it is not over and can often be the best part of our lives.  Our life together is still filled with more joy than we could have imagined years ago when we were married.

Tomorrow we will be at the Grand Canyon and I’m sure we will be filled with the wonder of our love as we view another aspect of God’s creation and be able to say, “it is good for us to be here.

Keep dreaming and sharing those dreams with each other.  None of us know where the journey will take us and what graces we will need but we all need to think of the past as we journey to the future and live in the present.

Rita has done a good job of highlighting our trip, so far, but I would like to add a couple of things that have been especially important to me.

Meals have been a special time on this whole trip.  While the individual meals varied widely, from moderately expensive meals in Las Vegas to less expensive dinners in Colorado springs to lunches of fruits, vegetables and chips from the cooler in the car while stopped at a rest area on an interstate, we have found eating to be a special part of this trip.  From fancy to simple, the food has all tasted great.  I suspect that it has to do with the company we are keeping.

This has also been a time to marvel together about God’s creation as we became aware of how different the mountain landscapes looked as we traveled across several states and different mountain ranges.  The rock formations with different shapes and colors. Different shapes, colors and sizes of the vegetation, reflecting differences in climate, altitude and temperature.  Quite varied, but each was magnificent and helped to make us aware of God’s great creation and reminded us that we should take care of it.  At Hoover Dam, we saw how the creations of humans can also use what God has made for good.  I am always awed by the ways that we use technology reflect the more hidden wonders of the universe. Rita reminded me of that once again when she asked how the machinery at the dam could make electricity.

Keep dreaming and enjoying each other.

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Dreams, Part 2

As we said last week, we are beginning another segment of dreams we have been creating for some time.  We had lunch or dinner the past week with many old friends.  Each of them in their own ways encouraged us to enjoy every aspect of this trip.  Some have traveled many of the places we have and shared their favorite memories.  Others said they wish they could go with us.  As we spoke with our wonderful neighbors who look after our house, all of whom are younger than we are, they told us we were their idols and hope that when they reach our age they will be able to travel and do service like we do.  The joy all of them spoke to us is tucked in our hearts as we travel.

We left home about eight this morning and are now more than half way across Nebraska.  As always when we drive we have good conversations, we sing, we pray, and have times of silence.  Today was no different.  We began the journey as we exited our neighborhood with a prayer.

As we were driving today and saw multiple towns of the same name in different states I ( Rita) was reminded of the thought that while we are unique, much of our lives as married couples is the same as others.  I’m sure the towns share those some qualities.  The towns have names in common but are different and yet there are likely some similarities.  We are always struck by this when we do marriage enrichment.  We tell our story and others find themselves in it.  While we are unique as a couple many of our life experiences with little nuances are the same as others.

As we drove across Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska we remembered other trips we had taken with our children and places we had stopped.  We even remembered finding Boekes in the parish bulletin in Grinnell, Iowa.  As we drove we remembered various people we had met during our years in Marriage Encounter.  We spoke of them and said a little prayer.  I also remembered many students who have graduated from various colleges and universities along the way.

Sometimes town names made us laugh such as What Cheer, Iowa and Beaver Crossing, Nebraska.  A chain of service stations had a name that would make teenagers roar with laughter because of its sexual connotation.  All made us laugh.  We listened to music and sang along to our favorite love songs and Peter, Paul and Mary.  (Yes we know we are telling our age.)  This morning, just before leaving,  I grabbed. a watch that is solar powered.  Since I haven’t worn it for a while it was not running.  After sitting on the dash for a while as I was driving, Bob put in on my wrist.  He was having difficulty doing the clasp.  When he finished I looked down to discover that he had put it on upside down.  (It was funny to us.)

Other towns and things along the way made us think of our children and grandchildren.  We found a town named Malcom and thought of Max. (His official name) Milford and thought of Leah and Nicole. (Their dance studio is there.)  BBQ places made us think of Elizabeth and in texting with her we decided that Jethro must be the uncle of Rudy (the place where she works.)

While the day was personal and many inside things for us we know that we aren’t unique.  We are sure that if you reflect back on things you have done together you too will find inside jokes, places will fill you with memories of others who have touched your lives.

Most of all we hope you will have a little fun dreaming together.

We will post more of our adventures next week.  We trust that you will have created memories of your own in that time.

(Bob) After a slow start, we reached the Interstate and from their the drive was mostly easy and relaxed.  We enjoyed salads (we brought the fixin’s) at a roadside rest area on I80. They tasted great, I think enhanced by being together, in no hurry, and sitting at a picnic table.

Since the traveling went so well, we are less than 300 mi from Denver and hope to do some sight-seeing and end up in Colorado Springs.  Then on to many other interesting places, before we decide to head back home.  Trips like this are always very special for us.  They allow us to enjoy being ourselves and being together.  As Rita said, more to come next week.

Enjoy.

Please leave your comments below.

 

Posted in Aging Together, Couple Prayer, Couple Relationships, Intimacy in Marriage, Love Stories, Marriage, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Help, Marriage in Retirement | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Dreams

I (Rita) did a quick internet search of songs with “dream” in the title and came up with more than I imagined.  Below are a few that jumped out at me.

All I Have To Do Is Dream (whenever I want you all I have to do is dream) – 1958 – Everly Brothers

Any Dream Will Do – 1968 from the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.

California Dreamin’ (all the leaves are brown and the sky is gray) – 1966 – The Mamas and the Papas

Dream A Little Dream Of Me – 1995 – Chicago

Keeping The Dream Alive – 1989 – Freiheit

“The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” from the 1965 Broadway musical Man of La Mancha.

Dreams are part of all our lives.  We speak of a dream job, dream house; we want to marry our dream person and dream of doing great things in our lives.  The idea was broadened by the 2007 movie, The Bucket List.  In addition there are numerous books about the places in the world one should see or visit in a lifetime.

We have had lots of dreams and speak of them in our book, Forever and A Day. We continue to try to make our dreams  a reality.  While we have never written a bucket list, we do have some things we’ve wanted to do.  One is to visit each state in the United States.  For years, as I anticipated retiring we talked about getting in the car and driving west, since that area has the few states we have not visited.  Four years have passed since I retired and  we have completed one thing on Bob’s dream or bucket list, to do work in an emerging nation, so we’ve decided that now is a good time to begin that journey.  We don’t have an itinerary, but we do have some places we’d like to go including Denver and the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, probably Death Valley and if we don’t get tired being out or run out of money we will go to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park and through South Dakota on our way home.  We will just see where the spirit leads us and make many stops along the way.

We like planning trips together and share the driving.  Bob has a new car that he is waiting to take on a long trip.  We are looking forward to time together and will likely meet new people along the way as well as renew some old friendships.

Dreaming is a way of life for us.  We had dreams that didn’t come true.  Bob didn’t finish his doctorate and we didn’t move to the southwest.  New dreams came into our life along the way.  We thought we might work with engaged couples but never dreamed of doing marriage enrichment the way we have.  Writing a book or blogging (it didn’t exist) wasn’t on our dream list when we were married but has become part of our lives.  We dreamed of living happily every after with the best marriage anyone could have and for us we think we have done that.  We dreamed of children, actually Bob wanted twelve like his parents, but after having one he decided that wasn’t a dream he wanted to pursue.  We have been gifted with four and four great spouses for them.  Today we also have seven wonderful grandchildren.

Where will dreaming take us?  Well for the next few weeks on the road.  Who knows where after that.  We have been so busy living our dream/s that we haven’t thought up new ones recently.  We are very blessed.

Think about your dreams, where they have taken you, what didn’t come to pass, what dreams came along that you didn’t imagine and where you expect them to take you in the future.

Please leave your comments below.

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Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

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