valentines day

February 14 – Growth and love

“A good marriage is on which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.” – Pearl Buck

I am not the same person I was back in April of 1983, and for that, just about everyone I know is thankful. That skinny kid from Cleveland was very immature. He had notions of the world that just didn’t stand up to the test of time. He was cocky at times (despite the best efforts of his mother). He was overly-idealistic. He was aggressive and passionate, but prone to angry outbursts. He was certain that in just a few years he would rule the world, or at least whatever fiefdom he found himself in presently. It’s not that he was a bad person, he was just, well, not very seasoned.

I am very blessed with a loving wife who accepts me as I am, and still challenges me to be better. Even when I have been at the depths of depression, or the heights of obesity, she has accepted and loved me just as I was, while still helping me to become better. It seems like that last sentence is oxymoronic, but it isn’t. I believe it is the key to success in any relationship – especially in marriage.

Some years ago I was pondering what made my marriage work so well. We had been married for a logn time, and had seen our share of ups and downs, as any couple will. At the time, my mom was still alive and living in the house where I’d grown up. Next door the immigrant family had long-since build a grape trellis over their driveway, and the husband was known for making his own wine. I was in my mother’s yard with my kids and looking at the grapes hanging from the trellis in my neighbor’s yard, and it came to me. A good marriage is like a grape vine.

As I looked at the grapevine I could see some places where two vines seemed indistinguishable from one another. It looked as though they were so twisted together as to be one. In other places those vines were more spaced and had grown apart some, then further along they came back together again. I am no expert on grape growing, and it is possible that my understanding of those vines was flawed, but in that moment I hit upon a metaphor for married life.

There are times in any marriage when people are so close together as to be almost indistinguishable from one another. Their interests and activities are so intertwined that they become interchangeable. They might like the exact same books, TV shows, hobbies, Saturday activities, and so on. My wife and I have had times like that to be sure. Other times they might be a little more separated. While one is off reading true crime books, and building things in the garage, the other might be off exploring painting, and reading magazines on how to hone cooking skills. I suppose that for some, when these times of growing apart go too far, the marriage can suffer. Those that find success, as we’ve been fortunate to do, always seem to eventually grow back to one another.

Pearl Buck’s quote reminds me today that, in many respects, I am not the person I was when I got married. The same is true for my wife. If the success of our marriage was based only on exactly who we were and how we acted on that rainy Saturday, then we would have been doomed. Instead, we have learned to grow – together and apart – into the people, and the couple we are today.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day… Happy Valentine’s day to one and all today! May the hope and spark of love, both old and new, warm your February heart.

Valentine’s day – Bobby-C style

valentines

My wife and I don’t go in for all the trappings of Valentine’s day. Recently I saw a headline that said the average person spends $142 on Valentine’s day. I am sure that includes chocolates, flowers, and dinner out. We tend to like to do things a bit more simply.

This year, I decided that my lovely wife deserved to have a fun, healthy dinner prepared for her by me. Here is what we had:

Salad – I prepared a salad of spinach and romaine for greens. I included carrots, onion, radishes, and mushrooms.

Long grain and wild rice

Chicken breast seasoned with lemon and rosemary. I seared it in a cast iron frying pan in a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Once it was seared, I added additional lemon juice and baked it in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes.

The asparagus was grilled on our stove top, cast iron grill, with just a bit of EVOO

My wife selected a white wine.

We didn’t have a formal dessert, but she did indulge in one of the Godiva truffles that accompanied her card.

I added in candles and new, red place mats, and the dinner was complete.

We had a fantastic time, we didn’t fight traffic, and we didn’t blow up our budget or our diets.

After dinner we played a game of Scrabble, then settled in to watch TV together.

I would have to say it was one of the best Valentine’s days I have ever spent!