|My Parents all snuggled up to each other.|
(This is one of my longest posts.)
My parents have been married for almost 40 years, have seven children and three grand-babies (soon to be four!). They have seen it all: Good times and bad, sickness and health, richer and poorer. Recently, my Mother and Father decided to start dating each other again and have found themselves falling in love. My Mother recently said, “He’s like the man I knew when we were first married.”
It has come to my knowledge that I have more male readers than I expected. This inspired me to talk with my Father and get a male prospective on love and marriage. We recently made a motorcycle trip from Cape Cod to New Haven Connecticut. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to sit down and chat with him about love and what makes a marriage work.
Let me give you a little background on my parents and how they came to be, my parents. The way they met is one of my favorite love stories. Their colleges were playing each other in ice hockey and they were both attending the game. A puck flew up into the stands and my Mother caught it. Coming from a small island she wasn’t fully aware of the world outside your small background. Not knowing much about hockey she threw the puck back into the rink. My Father saw this, went over to her and said, “You know you’re not supposed to throw it back in. You’re supposed to keep the puck.” Moments later another puck flew up and my Mother caught it. Fate was working that day my friends. How often does a puck fly up? And how often does it fly up twice to the same spot? My Mother this time around kept the puck and she still has the puck on her bedside table.
My Father was able to talk my Mother into her giving him her number. She never handed out her number to anyone and was very cautious to say the least. Against her better judgment, she gave him her digits. A few weeks later...I know ladies, not good...he remembered to call my Mother and asked her out on a date. After, going through all the possible dating scenarios, my Mother agreed to go sledding with my Father, since she had never been sledding before. They sledded all night long! My Mother didn’t want to stop. Three weeks after this first date they decided they wanted to get married but had to wait a year per my Mother’s father.
They really have been through it all. Starting out with nothing, my Mother a teenager and my Father barely out of his teens, have grown up together. Supported each other through school. Supported each other when they went through the ordeal of loosing a child. My Brother was three days old when he died. After this trauma, my parents realized how important children were to them and continued to add four girls, to their two boys. Now, almost 40 years later they are falling in love with each other all over again. It’s the sweetest thing to witness.
Married Man: What little project is this for?
Lazy Girl: I have a lot more male readers than I thought, so I just wanted a male prospective on love, relationships and marriage. So...What were your first thoughts when meeting your wife?
Married Man: Um...almost totally immediately I thought, she’s a redhead which I never go for but she is very attractive...she was short...ugh short, I thought...and she was very bubbly...then the puck came flying over the edge. She threw it back...I thought oh my goodness! She stopped the play, everything came to a screeching halt. It was impressive!
Lazy Girl: I have heard the statement in regards to the person you will marry, “When you know you know.” Was there a moment when you just knew this was the woman you were going to marry?
Married Man: There is such a moment that occurred. It was scary! It was our second date and I went over to her house to pick her up. It was nighttime and a beam of light was coming down on her head and she glowed. Capital letters WOW! That was the moment! Don’t tell your mother, she’ll think she’s got me. (He laughs.)
Lazy Girl: What advice can you give to young couples before they are married. Such as, when they are just boyfriend and girlfriend?
Married Man: Well, we are talking about a couple that is living together. My advice don’t do something because it’s expected. When you live together, do not get married just because you have a baby. You will almost always think “I did it because...” Get married because you want to get married...Don’t be pressured to get married. If you do, there will come a day when you are angry and you don’t like each other. That’s when you may become resentful of that person.
Lazy Girl: What do you think is the secret to a happy marriage?
Married Man: The secret to marriage is to stay married. Don’t expect to be “in like” 100% of the time. That’s not realistic. Beyond that, I’m not sure. I think the fundamental key to a strong healthy marriage is not love. You have to appreciate the person, you have to respect them as an equal and of course you have to communicate. Not just talking “at” each other, but, taking “to” each other. Love grows over time. You work together. As Ma said (My Great-Grand Mother) “It’s takes two to make a marriage, it only takes one to “f$ck it up.” When it comes to cheating, I didn’t stray because it’s disrespectful to your own family. If I cheat, that sets an example to my daughters that they can expect their husband to cheat. And if I cheat it sets an example to my sons that it’s ok to cheat. You may not like your partner all the time, in fact I can tell you, you will not like them all the time. So, Like may not be there but Love will always stay there, you may not be aware of it. You go through ups and downs but if you stay with it and behave yourself (no cheating), you’ll come back to that love stronger than ever and really have roots. It’s not easy, it’s hard work. ...Family first.
Lazy Girl: What advice can you give to a husband? I heard you say to a male friend before they were married “There are two words you need to know...Yes Dear.”
Married Man: Haha, yes! The key to a happy marriage is a happy wife...actually the key to a happy life is a happy wife...if you don’t believe that try an unhappy wife. Actually, you don’t need to a have a happy wife to have a happy life, just don’t have a wife.
Lazy Girl: Am I aloud to put that in?
Married Man: Sure! (he laughs)
Lazy Girl: What advice can you give to a wife?
Married Man: Do whatever your husband wants you to do? Treat him well in all areas of the house, feed him well, don’t go on separate vacations. Make the man realize that it’s a partnership. All these things you have to learn. They just don’t happen to you. Such as maybe you’re hurt but you learn how to make it not hurt so much. I don’t know how to make someone realize what they need to do. I don’t have it figured out, I have some of it but not all of it.
I did read His Needs/Her Needs. Basically, it’s about appreciating your spouse. Think about what they want and caring for them. I read it 30 years ago, I don’t remember too much. I think I need to reread it. It was your mother who asked me to do a favor for her and read it. It opened up my eyes beyond my little world. I realized there was more, and she had needs. I suggest it for other folks.
Lazy Girl: What is your favorite thing about your wife?
Married Man: (Paused deep in thought) I don’t see this vas a favorite thing, but, she is a really, really, really good person and she’s my best friend. Even when I don’t like her she’s my best friend, even when she doesn’t like me she’s my best friend.
She’s a really good person, that’s not a strong enough way to say how good she is. And she’s smart...she has good thinks when it comes to raising her children. I’ve seen other women who are devoted to their children, but, they make bad decisions. You’re mother isn’t like that, she makes good decisions for her children.
Lazy Girl: What do you think is her favorite thing about you?
Married Man: (Long pause)...What do I think is her favorite thing about me? I think I’m a pretty moral guy and I think that’s one of the things she likes about me. I don’t mind having female friends but I would not step outside the marriage. I don’t know, I’ve never done it. But having a physical relationship outside the marriage would drive a wedge between your friends and your spouse. It’s disrespectful to your spouse and your family and its a serious betrayal by someone who trusted you.
Lazy Girl: I read some where, that married faithful men live longer healthier lives...the stress of cheating on your spouse takes years off your life.
Married man: I agree...you need to live with in the rule system. I could see how it could take years off of your life...happy years.
Lazy Girl: Your wife has said that there will be times in a marriage, maybe even years when you do not like the other person, but you love them. What are your thoughts on this statement?
Married Man: These times that you are on separate pages, the only way to make it work is because you decided to make it work. When you make a promise, marriage isn’t a regular promise. In marriage, the promise is an absolute. It’s your promise. It has nothing to do with what the other person says or does. You do what you said you are going to do. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Yeah sometimes there was a lack of communication. Maintaining that takes position is a big effort, it can be very, very hard. That’s why I say communication is big in a marriage.
Lazy Girl: Was there ever a moment in your marriage when you thought, “This is it. We’re getting a divorce.” If so, when did this happen and how did you get through it?
Married Man: Sure! Which week are we talking about?
Lazy Girl: how did you get through it?
Married Man: I didn’t get divorce...I would talk to a friend. Go to a councilor. And I would just wait it out. So, it’s a time between happy and sad. You’re like a pin ball bouncing back between happy and sad. Sometimes it’s intense and sometimes it’s fleeting. The fleeting moments are funny. Arguments are superficial stuff. You wake up in the morning, happy you didn’t act on a fleeting moment.
I like what you’re mother and I are doing now...we’re dating, giving each other a chance. We are trying to have some fun. It’s been fun!
Lazy Girl: What advice can you give a woman on how to choose a spouse?
Married Man: (His eyebrows raise) I’m not sure...can we go to the next question...What advice...Oh my goodness...
Lazy Girl: What sort of man would you want me to marry?
Married: I want a man that’s going to respect you, I want, that he looks at you and says you’re an awesome woman even with the wart on the end of your nose. Even when you’re a little witchy. I want a man that’s going to treat you as a partner, not a servant...an equal partner with a brain between your ears, with worth while thinks. He has to recognize that you’re worth it. Both of you need to thrive in the relationship and support each other.
Lazy Girl: Yeah, that sounds like a good guy to me! What advice can you give a man on how to choose a spouse?
I like innocence, virtue and a little bit of a naughty girl all into one.
Lazy Girl: How do you have that balance?
Married Man: Good question...You have to give yourself time to become friends ...Having sex too early within the first few dates ruins the relationship. You kill the friendship and ruin the relationship. You need to really get to know the person. When you first see someone, you don’t really see them. After awhile, you do get to know the person and if you still like the person, it grows to love. Our society puts so much pressure on having sex on the first date, second date, third date sort of thing. After a while of being married, it’s a lot more important to have a friend than a sex partner. I had a promiscuous male friend and then he fell in love with a girl. He said he wished he’d waited for her. He wished she was his first. It’s so much better being with someone that you love. Your Mother read somewhere long ago, that men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love. It’s very true.
Lazy Girl: Great! Thank you Dad, I think I have all that I need for now. I really think this is going to be good. I think people will like it. What do you think?
Married Man: Well I like to think that what I have to say is going to be very important to other people. (He laughs) I hope I didn’t leave anything important out.
Lazy Girl: Anything else you’d like to say?
Married Man: The less you say the better. I have said these things to you to help you in your love life and this is not the sort of conversation I would have with just anyone. I am extremely pleased with what you are doing. You’re an awesome lady.
Thank you to my Father, John Stover, for taking the time to speak with me and his candid answers that I am sure will help others. While not being a husband, father and grand-father, you can find him at Stover Engineering. While not spending time with his family or running his own engineering company, he can be found enjoying sunny days riding his motorcycle, being on the open water on his sail boat or shooting his guns at the firing range.
***Tomorrow I will post Interview with a Married Woman