Tag Archives: relationships

Twenty Years of Greatness

No, I haven’t been writing for twenty years.

I’ve been married to the same wonderful man for 7,305 days. We’ve had our ups and downs (obviously), but the truth: I’ve never been happier than I am right now. Despite my flaws and his flaws and my strengths and his, we have vowed to make this thing called marriage work. And work it does.

Cat’s Guide to a Happy Marriage

  • Never, ever go into it with an out. In other words, ditch the idea that “if it doesn’t work, we can always get divorced.” This thought process dooms you from the start. Marriage isn’t to be taken lightly. It isn’t a passing fancy. It’s a commitment. So either commit or stay friends.
  • Never, ever go to bed angry. And no, I’m not talking fight so you can have make-up sex. That’s twisted and wrong. Instead, discuss your feelings openly and honestly. What is working and what isn’t? How can you fix what’s broken? How can you make what’s amazing even better? It might be hard at first, but the more you talk, the better you’ll get at it.
  • Never, ever hold a grudge. If you truly go to bed each night without anger, this should never be a problem. If it is, you’re in for a poisonous relationship. Grudges don’t help. They strangle any and all things good. Translating this further, when you do fight, leave all the old crap behind. Don’t bring up “that one time when we were dating and you said….” Deal with it. Get over it. Move on.
  • Always respect your significant other. Always. It doesn’t mean you have to agree all the time. It simply means that you are two individuals with two distinct personalities and each of you deserve to be handled with care. Marriage is not the place to ignore each other, throw temper tantrums, manipulate or abuse. It’s a partnership.
  • Which brings me to this: always remember that marriage is a partnership. It’s not a tit for tat. It’s not you against him. It’s not a tally sheet or a check book. It is, however, a relationship of give and take. You give because you want to. He will do the same. Trust me on this, nothing is more satisfying than your partner’s happiness and when he’s happy, he’ll do everything in his power to make you happy.
  • Always keep in mind your goals. Raise kids. Buy a house. Own a dog. Vacation twice a year. Financial freedom. Career growth. When you know what you want, it’s easier to achieve it. If you have no goals, you might find yourself mired down in the quicksand of “then what’s the point?”
  • Never, ever forget that anything worth having in life takes hard work and dedication. Seriously. Marriage is hard. It’s not all butterflies and rainbows (or bloody Mary’s and martinis). Sometimes it’s more like pole skunks and port-a-potties.  But, going through the bad makes you appreciate the good. And even if your neighbor makes marriage look like a constant beach party, I guarantee you even they have moments where Hell would be a preferable vacation spot.
  • Always keep your distance. (Say what?) Marriage brings two amazing spirits together in one union. Without the spunk and individuality of the two, your marriage is doomed. Give him his time to hang with the boys. Let her savor quiet moments of uninterrupted time to read a book without guilt. Keep your distance or your personalities will merge into one gloppy, boring mess.
  • And for the love of all things dear, do not act like a parent. I am not my husband’s mother. I have no right to tell him what he can or cannot do. I have no right to micromanage his life. Conversely, he’s not my father. I don’t have to ask permission and I don’t deserve guilt trips for making “wrong choices.” Why on God’s green earth would anyone marry his parent? Repeat after me: marriage is a partnership. Equality reigns supreme. We ask each other’s opinions and we never act without the consent of the other–not because we have to, but because we respect each other.
  • Always have fun together. When the kids are gone, the house is paid for, promotions are received and you hit that existential time in your life to reflect back on what it all means, you don’t want to roll over and wonder who the heck is sharing your bed. The opposite of keeping your distance is to get to know your partner, be with your partner and share your life stories with her. Don’t lose yourself, but also, don’t lose each other.

I love my husband. I respect him and care deeply for him. I truly look forward to the next twenty forty years.

Happy anniversary to anyone in a committed, loving relationship. You rock my socks off!

Please share your tips and trick to making your partnership work.

Impressed Much? What our words really say.

An early morning phone call and an unexpected death have me pondering those trace impressions we leave behind each and every day.

Eldest headed out of town today with friends for a much-anticipated concert.  My Dear Hubby headed out of state shortly after I dropped my youngest three off at school.  My big sister lives 21 hours away, as does my little brother.  My baby sister is the closest sibling at nearly three hours away.  I have extended family spread out across the continent and very close cyber friends who live very far away.

During the course of any given day, I interact with a handful of different people–sometimes well into the hundreds depending on what I’m doing.  In other words, my meager presence in this world still impacts thousands of lives all over the globe.  I bet yours does, too.

You know what really scares me about this thought?  I’m terrified that my last impression will be one of anger, disappointment, frustration or indifference.  Secondly, I’m terrified of the lasting impression others will make on me–because I acted out of anger, disappointment, frustration or indifference.

  1. Should I die/discontinue a relationship after walking out the door (or commenting on a blog post, or hanging up the phone) with a final unkind remark, I will leave behind the legacy of anger, crabbiness and frustration.  This is not how I see myself (most of the time), nor is it how I want to be seen.  I don’t want to negatively affect others’ lives for all eternity.  And I certainly don’t want anyone to carry the bonds of my disappointment based on the words I’ve said.
  2. Should someone else die/discontinue a relationship after I walked out the door (or commented on a blog post, or hung up the phone) with a final unkind remark, I will leave behind the legacy of anger, crabbiness and frustration.   As well as guilt.  You see, if my negativity preceded another’s last moments, I would be crushed by guilt.  Guilt that the last thing someone felt in connection to me was the sting of my disappointment.  Guilt at knowing I could have, should have and would have changed the words I used if I only knew.

But since I don’t know, I have one job in life–to carefully consider every moment as a last moment.  I want those around me to feel loved, appreciated and cared for.  This falls on my shoulders alone, as only I can change the way I deal with the people in my life.  Only I can choose my reactions to a given situation.

I, alone, am responsible for the impression I will leave behind.  On others as well as on myself.

My husband greatly respected Doug.  His loss is deeply felt this morning, and my heart goes out to everyone who was touched by this kind and gentle man.

I wonder if his greatness was inherent or if it was carefully considered.  I wonder, does it really matter?

Parents, spouses and friends, how did you take leave of your loved ones this morning?  Is it how you wish to be remembered?  Writers, critiquers and co-workers, how did you last interact with your peers?  Will your behavior foster a stronger working environment or will your words cause unnecessary strife?   Teachers, principals and students, did you start your day with respect toward one another, or did your attitude sour the atmosphere for those around you? 

We alone control the power of last impressions.  What do yours say about you?

(Un)Healthy Writing 3: Codependency

Co-dependent relationships aid and abet bad habits.  For the third installment of this series, please hop on over to From the Write Angle to determine if your writing relationships are healthy…or not.

For something a little lighter, whip up a simple, yet delicious, dessert for dinner tonight.

INGREDIENTS

  • Cool whip
  • Yogurt–flavored to match type of fruit
  • Fresh Fruit such as peaches, strawberries, mandarin oranges, raspberries, blue berries or blackberries
  • Mini Pie Crusts (optional)
  • Whipped Cream (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • Slice or dice fresh fruit as needed.
  •  Fold together fruit and equal quantities of yogurt and cool whip.
  • Chill for 1-4 hours…if you can wait.  If not, feel free to eat it now.
  • Before serving, spoon filling into pie crusts (or bowls or one large crust or scoop it out of the tub with your fingers).
  • Top with whipped cream and a berry or two for garnish.

This is Middle’s favorite dessert.  He makes it for all of our large family gatherings and special dinners.  It is so refreshing, your significant other won’t even notice that you forgot to take the load out of the washer and your clothes now smell like Aunt Edna’s attic.

Enjoy~

Where Art Thou, Humor?

My Dear Hubby texted me: Going to Dick’s Sports, was there anything to get yet?

My response after trying on a dress this past weekend: a new a$$ for me.

Him: I’ll check in the rear of the store.

I love that man!

 

Chemically Balanced: building even characters

We have a pool.  It’s refreshing on hot days, fun when the kids want to hang and a great way to get exercise.  It’s also work.  We have to clean it (amazing how much dirt and leaves get in the water even with a cover) and maintain the chemical levels.

Chlorine is the biggy.  If this level is off, it doesn’t even pay to try to balance the ph.  Often, successfully perfecting the chlorine to water ratio is enough to pull the other levels into balance.  Yet Chlorine can’t keep the pool clean solo. 

Sounds a bit like our MCs, doesn’t it?

As writers, we must balance the development of our characters.  If the super fabulous MC ends up with a wimpy best friend or love interest, readers will mutiny.  As a whole, characters must be a good fit, but not necessarily in obvious ways.

They must complete each other like puzzle pieces. 

MC has an Achilles heel.  Counterpart must somehow make up for that.

Sounds easy, right?  Logically, yes.  Execution-wise?  Not so much.  Balancing our characters is a nuanced process.  Readers are tired of the cheerleader falling in love with the science geek because he treats her better than the quarterback.  That kind of nerd-gets-awesome mentality is so 80’s.

Get creative with your chemistry.

I recently beta read an amazing novel about two science geeks.  The MCs were balanced, yet complementary.  The power inequality wasn’t there, as is so often the case in work by aspiring writers.

In my opinion–whatever that’s worth–here’s a few common traps to avoid.

  • Poor meets rich and all is well.
  • Social geek woos social goddess.
  • Big and buff protects fragile flower.

I understand that readers need to root for their MCs, but I’m inclined to enjoy a more balanced union between characters that doesn’t feel so against-all-odds-underdog-comes-out-on-top just because it makes for good conflict. 

In real life, we don’t buy into these relationships.  Those that form because it’s cool and exciting usually fade to nothingness in a short time.  Unless, of course, there is something more.  Relationships must be realistic, even in fiction.  Each partner must give and take.  Each counterpart must fulfil a need for the other half.  And each need must be something more than having the rich dude, the super goddess or the quarterback.

Having a super strong MC who outshines all supporting characters is a bit like dumping a gallon of bleach into a pool when the ph level is off.  It is not refreshing, fun or helpful in any way.  It simply throws the balance so far out of whack, as to make the pool–our stories–unusable.

Readers, are you tired of one-sided relationships that feel more fantastical than a sci-fi novel?  What kinds of relationships do you like to read about?

Writers, how do you balance your characters to keep the end relationships realistic and satisfying?

Meet and Greet Your Characters

Our high school senior class graduated on Sunday.  Eldest Son’s Girl Friend was among the cap and gown wearers.  After the ceremony, we attended her graduation party.

It was the first time I truly felt old.  As in meet-the-significant-other’s-parents old.  As in, this meeting could potentially impact Eldest and Girl Friend’s lives if they stayed together.  If we made a bad impression on Sunday (we might have) and these two walk the aisle in the future…well, we’ve all heard horror stories on what that looks like.

But the point isn’t whether they will tie the knot (good Lord, Eldest is only 16) or break up tomorrow.  The point is that meeting people can change the course of lives.

Yep, meeting people can change the course of lives.

As in, who your MC meets during the course of a  novel should impact your MC’s journey and the outcome of the story.  If it doesn’t, those characters have no business populating the pages.

Harsh, I know, but true.  There just isn’t enough time on paper to have superfluous meet and greets. 

How do your close encounters layer your stories?  Do the relationships your MC’s have change and grow–for better or worse–as the novel progresses?  Are you using them to your full advantage?

Curious minds want to know.

Trash and Marriage

When I think of love, I think of my garbage can and my dish drainer.  Seriously.  Eighteen years ago this summer, DH and I married in a beautiful garden ceremony. 

Immediately afterward, we set up house and put our gifts to good use.  Over the years, we’ve had to replace rugs as fashions changed, toasters as they wore out and furniture to accomodate our growning family.

Yet two things (besides our seven crystal bowls) remain the same.  Our blue garbage can and our blue dish drainer.  DH claims that when these things need replaced it will be the end of our marriage.

I hope he’s wrong, but there’s a small part of me that believes in some way, these two items are the cement that holds our family together.

Consider this.  Crystal bowls are nice for…okay, when you know, let me know.  I’ve resorted to filling them with potato chips at birthday parties.  But my point is, they are not used often, nor are they necessary.  Any old bowl can hold a bag of Doritos.

But a garbage can?  Now that gets a workout every day.  We sweep the debris from our tables, our floors and our lives and cram it into the garbage can.  It’s a place to dump everything we don’t want.  It’s the perfect metaphor for getting rid of the baggage so we have room to hold onto the things we care about.

Then there’s the dish drainer.  Ugly and blue, yet utilitarian.  It, too, gets a daily workout.  Every day, we eat.  And every day, there are dishes to wash.  It’s a reminder of our family meals and the value of sharing our days’ experiences with the ones we love.

You can take my fickle rugs and tired toasters.  I’ll even lend you my crystal bowls.  But never will I part with my garbage can or my dish drainer.  They are far more than they seem and the two most important things in my life.

Without them, my marriage would be nothing but show–fancied up side dishes in a pretty bowl.  With them, I can withstand the hard work and the frustration that go along with sharing my life with another.  I can see past the difficulties and appreciate the nourishment at the end of each day.

Do you have similar items in your life that symbolize the commitments you’ve made?  If so, we’d love to hear about them.  Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the highest value is often placed on the least expected.