The marriage cycle

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

One of my most read post is Divorce, cancer, heart attacks and suicide. This post talks about the changes that are occurring among my peer group which I define as those of us fifty plus years old.

Cancer, heart attacks and suicide are tough topics to discuss let alone write about. Over the last few years each one has touched my life. I lost a fraternity brother just last week to cancer. But I have been thinking a lot about divorce primarily because a good friend and his wife have just separated.

I look at marriage like a pie cut into four slices. Each slice has some commonality but each also has many new experiences. What each has in common is the need to adapt, learn, grow and share.

The first slice is the new, the honeymoon phase. It is a time we are finding our place in the world with a partner, someone we are accountable to and for. Attraction and lust will only take us so far in this phase. Eventually all of those annoying habits that make us “us” will bubble to the surface and we will discover we have no place to hide. For most marriages this is the shortest phase and it is also the easiest to call it quits. A lot of couples do rather than doing the hard work of staying married.

The second slice is the responsibility phase. Mortgages, kids, happen here. The focus moves from the individual to the greater good of the group. Responsibilities become defined, identities become lost and sex and romance become an afterthought. This is a hard phase if both couples haven’t bought in. I have seen men and women decide at this point that life is simply too short to spend the next twenty years being something or someone they don’t see in the mirror.

Kids become the center of the universe. Your friendships with other adults are centered on kids. Typically someone’s career is sidetracked or put on hold during this phase because of children. It is a phase that starts out hard but mellows over time through routine and then ……the kids are gone.

The third slice is the empty nest phase, where my wife and I have been for the last few years. Our youngest left the house six years ago. During the first four, because she was a collegiate athlete, we had events to attend and new relationships to form. But that time is over. Since our world no longer orbits around swim meets, basketball games, or lacrosse my wife and I had to find activities we could share and enjoyed doing together. The common denominator of many of our friendships were children and some were not strong enough to continue without that bond.

This is the phase my friend and his wife find themselves in. They woke-up one morning, realized they had spent the last twenty years focused on taking care and raising three children and wondered “now what”. I know of at least five couples that have separated or divorced in the last year who were in this phase of their marriage and honestly all five were a surprise.

The last slice is the winding down phase. A time for grandchildren, activities, reflection, and health. This is where my parents are. Two people devoted to each other, two people who have survived everything that has been thrown at them, together. It is a bond that only death will interrupt. They take care of each other now but at some point one will probably have to take care of the other.

Marriage is a cycle and like any cycle there are smooth roads and bumps along the way. It requires both partners to continuously adapt, learn, grow and share together. Marriage can be both hard and comfortable at the same time. Can you think of anything else in your life that would fit that description?

“Marriage is a wonderful institution… but who wants to live in an institution?” – Groucho Marx

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A big freaking surprise: “I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year”

“I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!” – Donald J. Trump Tweet 2-25-17

Honestly, who is surprised by this revelation? Raise your hand, anyone? Our orange thin-skinned President couldn’t take it. Being in a room full of “fake news” journalist telling one “lie” after the other. There isn’t a teleprompter or joke writer in the world that could keep our President from looking like a blubbering idiot at this event. And unless Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty is hosting I can Guaran-damn-tee you his baskets of deplorables won’t be watching. Hell, they have never heard of the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Now if they were to rename it the Cracker Barrel Correspondents’ Association Dinner and it aired after Swamp People the deplorable ratings would be through the roof.

Yes this is a smart, though a very cowardly move for our President. But remember, he is a “winner” and he doesn’t have the brain cells to win a battle of wits or words with these folks practically without Steve Bannon’s help and Kellyanne Conway running interference.

So yes Mr. President, this is a brilliant move. There certainly is no reason for you to look anymore idiotic than you already do. The vast majority of us won’t think any less of you, if that is at all possible and we certainly won’t miss listening to you or watching you gesture with those little hands of yours.

You can send us big boy tweets to read later while you are sitting around in your Trump Collection silk jammies like; “Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!” or “The race for DNC Chairman was, of course, totally “rigged.” Bernie’s guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!” or my latest favorite “Maybe the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN should have their own rally. It would be the biggest of them all!”  

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Trump’s pit bull on a short leash

kellyanne-conway

“Kelleyanne can’t figure out how to fill her time. W/o anything to do she turns into the toddler who wants to “help” you cook dinner.” –

What’s the difference between the Counselor to the President and a pit bull? Lip gloss.

In a piece of satire written by Andy Borowitz for The New Yorker; AMERICANS OVERWHELMINGLY SAY LIVES HAVE IMPROVED SINCE KELLYANNE CONWAY WENT AWAY, Borowitz states that “An overwhelming majority of Americans say that their lives have improved since Kellyanne Conway went away, a new poll finds. According to the poll, Americans have been sleeping more, eating better, and enjoying a markedly greater sense of well-being following Conway’s sudden departure.”

“Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.” – Joseph Goebbels

I got to be honest, I am happy Kellyanne “Goebbels” Conway has disappeared from my news feeds. I had grown exceedingly tired of her smug answers, and her eat-shit I am smarter than you grin. She didn’t provide us with information, simply disinformation to keep us confused and off-balance.

“It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.” – Joseph Goebbels

So what happened to Trump’s pit bull? Other than putting her own “alternative facts” spin on National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation and then “pimping” Ivanka Trump’s clothing line on Fox News, I guess the Fake News folks finally got wise to her. I just wonder why it took them so long.

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” – Joseph Goebbels

MSNBC decided to no longer invite Ms. Conway onto its popular news show Morning Joe. Co-host, Mika Brzezinski stated that Ms. Conway is “not credible anymore”. She continued, “Every time I’ve ever seen her on television something is askew, off or incorrect.” All this after CNN made the decision not to book her on their State of the Union program citing “serious questions about her credibility.”

“We shall go down in history as the greatest statesmen of all time, or as the greatest criminals” – Joseph Goebbels

Have we seen the last of Kellyanne Conway? Something tells me no. I am sure Fox and Friends will continue to keep her on the payroll, and our President needs to hear that snake charmer’s voice whispering in his ear telling him how smart and great he is, and who’s momma’s big boy while she waits on her book deal.

“Do not seek Adolf Hitler with your mind. You will find him through the strength of your hearts.” – Joseph Goebbels

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Never mind Fake News how about Fake Burgers

wendys-burger

I occasionally like to eat a Wendy’s double cheeseburger. No, it is not on my diet. Hell no, I don’t tell my wife that’s what I had for lunch. Yes, a greasy cheeseburger every once in a while might kill ya, but hey everybody’s gotta die from something. And to balance out all the calories, fat, carbs, beef oh and a large order of fries I do get a Diet Coke. Hey I’m not a caveman.

Here is the deal, if President Trump really wants to Make America Great Again he would sign one of his ego driven, photo-op choreographed Executive Order’s making it mandatory that Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King sale us a burger that looks like the pictures they advertise. I have never, ever unwrapped my Wendy’s double cheeseburger and had a masterpiece like what is pictured above in front of me. I mean look at that image, it is a sculptured masterpiece of juicy goodness. Honestly, it should be a federal crime using false advertising, the old bait and switch, to lure us in with all that fresh deliciousness pictured on the menu boards above our heads. It is a promise that Wendy’s isn’t delivering and I am mad as hell about it.

trump-golf

And this tubby man with the little hands, a “bigly”, “big-time” and “yuge” fan of Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken could, at least by appearances, be the right man for the job. Granted the vast majority of us would view a Big Mac as fast food, but his Basket of Deplorables would rank Wendy’s and Burger King in the category of “casual dining” and a night out at The Cracker Barrel as a “fine dining” experience. Maybe this wasn’t a campaign promise but I guarantee this is one Executive Order that would stand-up in the lower courts.

Think about it, if The Donald fixed “Fake Burgers” the Obama Healthcare plan would take care of itself. 43% of us (Trump’s approval rating) would be dead from coronary disease in a matter of twelve months and the rest of us, the healthy ones, could afford damn near any kind of health care plan the politicians threw at us.

So Mr. President pull out your smart phone, do some thump stretches, and get busy tweeting. You can win this war, you can put an end to this travesty. “Fake Burgers” are destroying the fabric of our communities, and the fabric in the seat of our bulging stretchy sweatpants.

 

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What can you control?

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

I am no different from anyone else, I would rather be in control than be controlled. In my mind the arithmetic is easy, me plus control equals happiness. The reality is the only control I have is my reaction too my lack of control.

I don’t consider myself to be a control freak, yes I do get wound up about things from time to time, thank you Donald J. Trump, but for the most part I am a pretty laid back, go with the flow kind of a guy. I am not big on making a list or having an agenda. If someone has a better idea or plan I am typically flexible enough to change mine. My one real quirk is that I hate to be late, particularly when someone is expecting me. I think I have mellowed somewhat on this little idiosyncrasy but you couldn’t convince my wife and kids of that.

So anyway, what can we control? The simple answer is not much if anything other than our attitude. The hard truth is we are all expendable. The world will rock on without us, it won’t even skip a beat. Sure there are people who will be sad we are no longer here. But except for those we are most close to the memory of our existence will simply fade away. We can’t control that either.

I have a number of external “things” that control my actions. I have a mortgage on my house which means I need to work. I have people who I need to please at work so I can pay my mortgage. I have a world that I need to function in, and laws to obey. These are all “things” that control me, control how I act, control what I can say or not say, control how I look, and dress. Expectations are control, my children expect their Dad to act a certain way, so does my wife. Sure they may give me a little latitude here or there, like wearing cuff and pleated pants, apparently a fashion faux pas, but at the end of the day I got married, had children, and that was my choice and that choice, that decision controls me hopefully until the day I die.

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” – Buddha

I have four years to figure out how to co-exist in this world with our President. I am sure he is going to do a lot of things to piss me off between now and then. I am equally sure that I will use this forum to vent about it. But at the end of the day the only way anyone can take me down is if I allow them too. My mind and my heart are mine to give, and mine to control. I promise to give both freely to those I love and the things I care about in this world. Our President may not be on that list but in truth he is. He is part of the same world that I belong too, and care for. A world I can’t control but one that I am happy to exist in for however long I can hold on.

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.” – Epictetus

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Rare views

pileated_woodpecker_600

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” –  John Muir

We spent the weekend in a cabin up in woods outside of the DuPont State Forest. There was nothing fancy about the accommodations, a soft bed, a hot shower and a porch with two rocking chairs. Simply perfect.

We had to be out by noon on Sunday but we had planned a hike with a friend at 10 am. I woke up at seven, fixed some eggs and bacon, packed my bag, loaded the car and I was ready to roll. My wife takes a little longer to “roll” than I do but that’s why I love her.

I settled in on one of the rocking chairs and watched the day begin. The cabin was set in a thick grove of leafless oaks and hickory trees. Squirrels and chipmunks were busy rustling through the leaves looking for nuts. Crows called out from distant horizons, relaying messages only crows could interpret. Canadian geese flew in a tight V honking signals to each other as the surveyed the landscape below. These were the sounds of solitude, the sounds of nature, the sounds of a community beginning a new day.

Around 8:30 my wife had finished her coffee and began to stir. I contemplated asking if there was anything I needed to help her with to get her out the door when I heard a familiar hammering sound. There was a woodpecker somewhere searching for breakfast amongst this strand of trees and I was determined to find it.

The sound of a woodpecker is very distinctive but given the vastness of my surroundings it could have been anywhere. I focused on the rhythm, tried to zero in on an area and discovered the sound was right in front me. I followed the line of each tree from the ground up and then I caught a glimpse of red against the gray sky. As the bird worked its way around the trunk I discovered what has become a very rare sight, a Pileated woodpecker.

The previous evening I had heard what I thought was the call of this magnificent bird, a call my grandfather taught me to listen for. It is almost a tropical sound, one that seems out-of-place among the common notes we are used to from crows, jays, and wrens.

I thought about sharing the moment with my wife. I learned later she had never seen one. But there was no guarantee the bird would stay put and it was so close any movement may have spooked it. So I watched, as it methodically worked its way around the trunk of this old oak, hammering bits of bark that scattered on the ground below. And then this massive bird gracefully pushed itself off the tree, spread its wings and flew away.

In fifty-six years this is only my third encounter with this species of woodpecker and I thought at that moment it could possibly be my last. Maybe now that I have more time to wander in the woods as I did with my grandfather when I was a kid I will hear and see another one, maybe.

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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Left, right, left, right

I recently responded to a comment from a Trump supporter or at least he smelled like a Trump supporter.

Here are some of his “interesting” observations about Trump and why he won;

  1. “If you were honest in attempting to understand the reason Trump’s base supports him, you would look at what he did, not what he said or how he sounded.”
  2.  “You would see that he talks like your after dad, unscripted, full of exaggeration, but passionate, unrehearsed, real.”
  3.  “You’d see that he took on the media (which the public trusts less than the government, according to a new poll) and owned them in ways the average man doesn’t get to in real life.”
  4. “You’d see that the era of the heralded intellectual president has passed, that people care more about results than rhetoric.”

But at the end of the day it always comes down to the pièce de résistance;

“It’s the Left’s fault. And it’s why the Left is not gaining traction with the constant blind criticism.”

I really am sick and tired of the left, right, liberal, and conservative thing. You want to know the reason why nothing ever seems to get done in Washington? There is no middle ground. Donald Trump ran on the campaign promise that he was going to “Drain the swamp”. For those of you uninitiated, Washington, D.C. was built on a piece of swamp land. To date the only thing Donald Trump has done is made the left and the right dig their heels deeper in the muck. All sides have squared off and Trump seems to be simply reveling in the chaos because honestly he has no other course of action.

The real truth for all you red hat wearing basket of deplorables is this, he doesn’t have a freaking clue what he is doing with the exception of one thing, he is the President and that, ladies and gentleman, is as far as he has gotten and may be as far as he gets.

The one thing the Trump brain trust neglected to think through is this, once they pay back all of their well-heeled supporters with appointments who can they hire to actually do the work of running this country? The number of positions the Trump administration needs to fill is staggering. No other sitting President is as far behind in filling those key positions as this administration is. And although Trump is quick to blame the Democrats and Fake News for this trouble his ugly tweets, rambling press conferences and rally speeches are simply a smoke screen for his much larger problem, no one, the people behind the scenes, the people who actually do the heavy lifting of running this country don’t want to work with him or for him.

Despite what he says, despite what he leads everyone to believe, I am convinced there was nobody more surprised that he won than The Donald himself. I am not sure we have ever had an administration more ill prepared for the job at hand than this one.

But all that aside, Trump could have been the guy to find that middle path. He fancies himself a deal maker but rather than pulling up his big boy pants, accepting the arrows and paper cuts as part of the job and trying to get both sides to the table he has spent all of his energy lashing out at anyone and anything that hurts his feelings.

I don’t want this guy to fail, I don’t need this guy to fail but I wish this 70-year-old man would act like a 70 year old man who has been around the block a time or two. This isn’t what I want to hear from my President; “Don’t believe the main stream (fake news) media. The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.”    

As my grandmother would say “the proof is in the pudding”. I don’t need words, or tweets or as the Trump supporter pointed out in #4 more “rhetoric” at a campaign rally, the campaign is over, you got the title your ego coveted, you are now the closest thing to a King we have. When you are lounging around in your bathrobe four years from now by the pool at Mar a Lago everyone will have to address you as Mr. President. But until then it is time to get serious Mr. President, time to quit campaigning, time to thicken your skin and get to work, in Washington, in the swamp. Time to get your hands dirty. You can’t talk your way through this job, you can’t edit the tape or have a retake. The director can’t fix this in post-production, this is reality one that includes my well-being and my families future.

“I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” – Donald J. Trump campaign promise after criticizing President Barack Obama’s golf habit. He has certainly broken that promise in five short weeks.  

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