Thursday, July 23, 2015

Individuality in Marriage - Our Story

Last evening, while I was out at a Broadway play with a dear friend, my impish husband seized the day and hacked my Facebook account.  He proceeded to write the following status....

"I am so thankful for my husband, I am out partying, and he is so supportive of everything that I do. So much of my life wouldn't be nearly as wonderful as it is without him.  If you get a chance, go and tell him what a great guy he is. He deserves it."

In no way did it bother me that he did this. The fact is, it is true.  And that road of space and support goes both ways.  We have always believed in each other as individuals

During a college chapel service one of our Residence Hall Directors was giving a talk on marriage.  It certainly didn't seem to apply to me at the time because I was not engaged nor was I seeing anyone.  But, one point she made really stuck with me.  The importance of maintaining your identity within the marriage.  It is from within your individuality that you create a stronger marriage.  When one looses ones self that individual no longer has anything to contribute to the marriage.

Fast forward to the Winter of 1994 when Ike an I began "courting,"  I had just moved to NYC and he was wrapping up his last semester at Columbia.  We loved talking with each other.  In fact many nights I would fall asleep while still on the phone.  In our talks we found out that we had such opposite opinions on so many things both social and political.  But, we never argued about them.  We loved playing devils advocate with each others point of view. He respected my line of thinking despite his lack of agreement.  Our relationship took the normal course (sort of - material for another blog) and we married several years later.

As a disclaimer I have to admit that our marriage has not been perfect. We argue about the same things other couples do.  We don't always argue fair.  You try arguing with a guy who has ADHD and you are about as long winded as a Southern Baptist minister on a roll.  We have had bumpy roads and potholes and a few moments that felt as if we were hanging off a cliff.  But one of our prevailing strengths has been our commitment to each others personhood.  In other words we each have a life.

You will never see us have a joint Facebook account (how confusing is it when the birthday reminder comes up and you don't know whose birthday it really is).  There is a high likelihood that if one of us is at an event, the other is not.  (This has become more of a reality since having children... most especially on school nights)  For example, I love Broadway - Ike loves the Yankees. (I like the Yankees too, but he has a need to consumer much more of it than I do.)  I get calls at the house for political fundraising for the Republican party.  They assume that since my husband is a Republican, they can hit me up in his absence. I so love the stunned silence when they hear that I'm a Democrat.  It's like they just saw a Unicorn.

We also don't feel the need to accompany each other on some of the more pedestrian errands we run.  For example, it is highly unlikely that you will find Ike in a grocery store with me.  It is a time saver as he would be breaking down the savings of one product over another to such a granular level that anything cold in my wagon would have warmed by the time we eventually got to check out.  You won't find me sitting by his side at Jiffy Lube when he gets the oil changed.  We just don't  need to be in others company all the time.  Sitting at Jiffy Lube is a waste of my time.  And when I return from the store he is quick to help sort out the bags and help get things put away.  Lastly, we run a bit counter to the the social norm. We will never finish each others sentences and neither of us is offended if we utter opposing opinions in public.  In maintaining our individuality we are able to enhance each others life by bringing in new opportunities and new ideas.  It makes the relationship more dynamic.

Every couple has their own rhythm and this ours.  It is a rather syncopated rhythm.  But, it makes our relationship kind of groovy.  We still don't and probably never will see eye to eye on various issues.  But, on one issue we can agree.  We agree that we love each other.  Remembering that each is "
used to refer to every one of two or more people or things, regarded and identified separately."

Saturday, July 4, 2015

My America the Beautiful

As we move through this shift in our history, how we define America has received quite a bit of debate.  What are our values?  How we do we recognize our past, while moving into our future?  Who is an American? Who has a right to become an American citizen?  The questions are endless and rich in controversy.  As we approach this holiday commemorating the ideals we all agree on  - Liberty, Independence, and Freedom - let's take a break from the noise and look at the beautiful America that surrounds you.  Here is a snapshot of my beautiful America.

There is nothing more wonderful than hearing English spoken with an accent from the another part of the world.  Even the mix called Spanglish - spoken by the mother that is struggling to learn and the patience of her daughter explaining a proper morning greeting.  There is beauty in the group of 15 or so Russian immigrant women meeting after hours in a local hair salon to learn English.  And as a child of the 80's it made me laugh (in joy) to hear my daughters Head Coach talk about the importance of Independence Day in his very distinct Eastern European accent.

My beautiful America can be heard in the mournful yet hopeful tones of the shofar.  It sparkles through holiday lights displayed in the early autumn as my neighbors celebrate Diwali.  Then there are the red envelopes that my children bring home in mid-winter as gifts from their Chinese-American classmates as they celebrate the Lunar New Year.  There is the beauty of the women in their Sunday best, which always includes a lovely hat, as we share the elevator on Sunday mornings as we head off to our services.

My beautiful America is seen in the hands that serve.  Those who prepare meals for the hungry at the Bowery Mission.  Those who rescue leftover food from local stores and restaurants, ensuring they get to people in need.  It is in food delivery services such as Gods Love We Deliver that gets the sick a nourishing meal. There is beauty in the way the nurses care for the cancer stricken.  And there is a sacrificial beauty in the hands of those men from the Gay Mens Health Crisis in the early 80's that risked their lives to ensure that the sick and dying were fed and kept clean when no one else would.

My beautiful America is in the smiling faces of friends who having endured years of struggle finally get their green card.  And even better, when they finally receive full citizenship.  My beautiful America is in the face of my children - their father is a 1st generation American, their great-grandfather on my side was an immigrant to America, and yet throughout the tangled limbs and roots of their ancestry they carry decades of family making their way to the shores of America.  

We all experience different facets of American life.  It seems lately, there has been much focus on what divides us.  As we celebrate this holiday, may we appreciate the beauty around us.  May we all live understanding that each of us carry within in us the hope of past generations. This is my beautful America.