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Archive for April, 2009

popolivelargeHow do you know when a guy really loves you? An old song asked that question and suggested that it was “in his kiss.” But these days, kisses are doled out so freely that they’ve depreciated, so what’s the answer to that age-old query now? Is it in the romantic gifts of flowers, candy, or jewellery traditionally given on special occasions like Valentine’s Day? Is it in the gestures of support we get on a regular basis – the sudden compliment, the chores done ungrudgingly around the house, the much-needed dinner out?

All of these matter, but I may have found the definitive answer to whether your partner really loves you. It’s the extent he/she is willing to go to protect you from harm.

Now, many people have told me how lucky I am to have a “superhero” for a husband. He is devoted and protective, a “Saint Bernard” of a man. Standing six-foot four and with hands the size of a catcher’s mitt, he moves through life like a force of nature. Few people would ever challenge him on a physical level, and being loved by him brings a sense of safety and security. But there is one aspect to his readiness to protect that can have a downside. Occasionally, his reactions can be considered a little extreme. I know, because several years ago, he tried to save my life.

It was late-May, unseasonably warm, and I was in the kitchen preparing supper when one of our sons burst into the house, his shirt blood-splattered and his knuckles skinned. It was obvious he’d been in a fight.

It wasn’t anything that I hadn’t seen before. Life near a large suburban community carried its share of danger, and he seemed to have inherited his father’s reactive adrenaline surges when he felt threatened.

Before I had a chance to speak, he started telling me what happened. “I just had a fight with Matt*,” he said, closing and locking the door.

The news wasn’t totally unexpected. I knew my son’s temper and I knew Matt*. Even as a youngster, he could be trouble. Now that he was older, with the rumour of a tough gang of friends to back him up, he seemed a legitimate threat.

Our young “caped crusader” supplied a few more details of the altercation then jumped into the shower. An hour later, he left for work, but not before telling us to keep our eyes open for a strange car in the driveway that night. “Play it safe and keep the doors locked,” he said, only half-jokingly.

Despite our paranoia, the evening passed uneventfully, and soon it was time to turn in. Our bedroom was warm (we had no air conditioning at the time), so we left the windows open and the blinds up to catch the breeze. A ceiling fan added to the comfort.

Miles from the city, it was dark except for moonlight. I squeezed earplugs in to drown the regular sounds of stray cats, crickets and my husband’s snoring, and snuggled down for the night. Despite a few pangs of worry about our son’s safety, I finally drifted off.

I was asleep less than an hour when I felt my husband’s big “paw” shaking my shoulder. I was startled, only half awake, and my earplugs muffled his words. Irritated, I asked him, “What is wrong with you?” My first thought was that he was having an unusually intense dream. He was agitated, almost panicked, and covered my mouth to stop my questions.

More than once, I tried to sit up, but he pushed me back down. He was frantically whispering something, but what? Finally, I managed to get an arm free to yank out an earplug. “It’s Matt and his friends. They’re shooting at us,” he hissed. “They’re in the backyard.”

A loud and rapid-fire, “Pop, pop, p-p-p-pop, p-p-pop” filled the air. Still, the meaning of his words didn’t register. Unlike my superhero, my adrenaline had flat-lined in my sleep. I looked towards the two large windows in our room, and realized screens would offer no protection from the volley of bullets outside. In the space of a few seconds, my lack of understanding turned to terror. I couldn’t move.

Suddenly, the shots seemed to grow closer and louder, and my husband went into rescue mode. He started to pull me onto his side of the bed. The problem was that in the confusion, he wasn’t explaining why he wanted me there, and I was too stunned to think it out myself. He also couldn’t see well enough to move me carefully. In one fell swoop, he threw his arm around my neck, grabbed me by my head, and yanked me backwards, off the bed and onto the floor on the other side.

Together we waited, our hearts pumping wildly, until silence came. I’m not sure how much time passed before we decided it was safe to move. We were still too frightened to stand, too sure they were lying in wait. Finally, my husband slithered across the floor and made his way to the windows. He reached up from the side and was able to pull down the blinds, hiding us from our attackers. Then, he crawled his way to the doorway and turned on the light.

The source of our terror was right before us!

Floating high above our bed was a partially-deflated helium balloon, a souvenir from my husband’s birthday the month earlier. It had come loose from its doorknob mooring and taken flight. 

How can a helium balloon mimic the sounds of gunshots, you ask? Just get it caught in the blades of a ceiling fan.

My neck was a little stiff and sore the next day, and my husband felt pretty foolish, but one undeniable truth came out of it all. My husband will always protect me, even if he kills me in the process.

I guess that means he loves me.

~~~~~~~~~~

*Note: “Matt” is a pseudonym.

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48149-main_fullI am exhausted. Not just sleepy, or tired to the bone, but exhausted on every level: physically, mentally and emotionally. Okay, that last part is an exaggeration. Emotionally I’m doing okay, though sometimes I wonder how that’s possible, considering everything’s that’s going on in my life lately.

It’s made me a little impatient on some levels and I find it’s erupting in unexpected ways. This week, when no one offered to help me in a home improvement store, turned away from me in fact, I got so angry that I found a cart, lifted a huge pail of tile paste (nearly 50 pounds though it felt like two hundred to me) from the floor into the cart myself, grew angrier when no one helped me get it into the car, and hurt my back stubbornly trying to do it all myself.

All week long I have been reminded of that decision every time I move or twist a certain way or try to lie down. It was foolish at my age and with my health issues, no matter how frustrated I was.

My irritability surfaced again when I became part of a discussion on infidelity. A writer friend made the point that monogamy wasn’t natural in the animal kingdom and that people needed to remember that humans are most closely related to chimps, therefore monogamy is also unnatural in humans.

The flat-out statement that we should accept infidelity is more natural than monogamy because of our connection to the animal kingdom bothers me. It provides a pat answer to a complex relationship that’s been around for thousands of years. Nothing is ever that simple – is it?

I wrote a response and realized I sounded judgmental and more than a little “pollyanna-ish.” Here, though, giving such a strong opinion seems more appropriate. After all, it is my blog, correct? lol

The original discussion began started with a reference to an online dating service for married people who were interested in casual relationships outside their marriage. We were asked for our opinions. This is my response:

Personally, I think for one person to be unfaithful behind their partner’s back is unconscionable. If it’s a joint decision, I wonder why they bother to be together at all, but at least they aren’t hurting each other. Society, possibly. Any children they may have, certainly, Their families, no doubt, but each other, probably not.

I could never go so far as to excuse infidelity on the basis of humans being mere animals, most closely related to the chimp. I do not see infidelity as a naturally occurring instinct, suggesting that there is no choice involved. It seems to give people permission to do what comes naturally, what they were always “meant to do.”

More likely, I think infidelity occurs as a result of people marrying for the wrong reasons: because the prospective spouse is attractive, or fun, or society tells them it’s time, or there’s a child on the way, or the person has a bright future professionally. We have these images of “Barbie and Ken” in our heads, with perfect kids who will never stray. We imagine our lives will be like the ideal ones we see on family-oriented shows, with money in the bank, a membership at the golf club, and problems no worse than those on Leave it to Beaver or Family Ties. All of those expectations set people up for a load of disappointments, and they sometimes realize that it was the promise of the future life they were in love with, not the person they married. It may only be one person who’s disillusioned, but that’s all it takes.

The bottom line is, I believe when two people are really right for each other (and it does take both of them) they find a way to grow together over time, not apart, and the urge to be unfaithful is practically non-existent for them.

Let’s face it. Getting married is much too easy for such a huge step. For many people, the only difficulties are around the ceremony and finding the right dress and venue. How much better it would be if getting married required the same kind of work and preparation as our careers. Maybe then they’d be better prepared to make and honour their commitments to be faithful.

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