He’s my Jerk!

Husband Embarrasses WifeSomething is going on around me. I can sense it, I can feel it, but I can’t put my finger on it! I just know it…

Having moved several times, I believe it takes a year for people to settle into their new environment. The first year is spent unpacking, finding new doctors, friends, stores and feathering the nest. Jo and I moved to Arizona in early 2015 and we are starting to relax.

I’m noticing things

Jo won a $25 gift certificate to a local coffee shop at a charity auction. We had never been there. She ordered a tuna sandwich and I ordered a wrap. As she munched her tuna, she commented that it was really good. I took a hefty bite of my wrap, and looked quizzically down at it, something wasn’t right. Jo picked up on my look and offered to trade me the other half of her tuna sandwich for half my wrap.

I paused and asked, “Why would you do that, you love the tuna?” She explained it was a beautiful day; we had ventured out to a new place and were enjoying lunch together. She was more than willing to give me her tasty food so I could enjoy it as much as she was. She displayed her girlish giggle when I explained I loved my wrap; I just took too big a bite. The paper I munched on with it was not so tasty! Kind gesture so noted….

We were at a car show. Many of the cars, like their owners, were old enough to collect social security. The picnic area was a multi-generational montage. The young children were running around, hopping up and down to the music. Parents and grandparents were sitting in the shade enjoying their burgers right off the grill. The PA system was blaring hits from the 50’s. I commented to our friends just how much I loved the old songs; we not only know the words, but also who sang them.

Just then, Fats Domino began singing, “I found my Thrill On Blueberry Hill“. It was released in 1958 and has beautiful lyrics. A grey-haired couple at the next table was mouthing the lyrics. Their eyes locked, and I would swear she winked as they broke into huge grins and she gently kicked him under the table. Playfulness so noted….

I commented that were it not for being overweight, arthritis, blood pressure pills, and probably some knee and hip-replacements, there are a lot of people sitting around who could dazzle these young people – showing them what jitterbugging was really all about. We all agreed, grinned and nodded.

It’s not just car shows. We’ve joined several dining groups, meeting lots of new friends. We squirmed when a husband unwittingly said something about his wife that embarrassed her. We’ve all experienced uncomfortable moments when someone finally helps out by changing the subject.

When hubby left to go to the men’s room, his wife piped up and said, “We are soon to be married 60 years, and there are times he can be a real jerk – but he’s my jerk!” She followed that by extolling his virtues – the good overwhelmingly outdistanced the bad. Everyone nodded – kind of a “been there, done that” acknowledgement. When they left the restaurant and walked to the car, they were holding hands and he held the door open for her as she got in. Intimacy so noted….

Bingo!

Ironically, the next morning Jo sent me an article titled “8 Ways Old Souls Love Differently – And Deeper Than Most Of Us”. The author, Randall Neely appears to be an attractive young woman, not an old soul.

The article hits on 8 excellent points with lessons for us all – regardless of our age. I want to elaborate and add some ideas of my own.

They get selflessly attached. The author states, “The older you get, the more you want to serve the one you love.”

When our parents died, and last child married, Jo and I concluded that, “Baby it’s you and me against the world”. As you age, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” really hits home.

Selfless is the simple things. I was sitting in my pajamas totally engrossed in writing this column and Jo walked in, interrupting my train of thought. Damn! I turned and she was smiling, with a sandwich in her hand saying, “You missed breakfast, it’s lunch time, and you need to eat.” Yeah, it was tuna fish!

She does not understand why I am always up off the couch helping her unload the car when she comes home from the grocery. It’s the little, caring things that let the other know how much you appreciate all they do. You no longer keep score.

They seek freedom. Retirement brings about a renegotiation of most everything in the marriage. When I was working, I spent 40+ weeks on the road. We cherished our time together on the weekends. We toured the country in our motor home, living in less than 400 square feet for over a year. It was wonderful.

As your free time increases you realize it is much healthier (and easier) if both partners have outside friends to do things they enjoy. I love it when she has lunch with the girls and they go shopping. I’m sure Jo is happy when I go off to my ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) breakfasts.

They don’t have pride. The author says, “…. old souls don’t try to win arguments… they try to make sure their relationship wins.”

Many years ago I read a book (can’t remember the name) about true coupling. The author contended a marriage is like a diamond. Newlyweds start out very close to each other in the romantic phase. Soon that develops into a manipulation phase. Partners try to manipulate the other’s behavior into being the person they want them to be. After going through several phases (over a few decades), the diamond comes back together in the phase called, “giving up!”. You give up trying to change the other person and accept them for what they are.

You may divorce; or you are where the author concluded true coupling actually begins – transitioning to the type of relationship Ms. Neely discusses.

You can sense the changes

Recently Jo and I had a disagreement and we both stated our case. We both felt we were right and the other person was wrong. We repeated the process more emphatically, knowing we were right and the other person is just being stubborn. No luck, we each stuck to our guns.

Almost on cue, we changed the subject realizing the issue was trivial in the big scheme of things. It’s OK to agree to disagree.

When you get to the point in life where you can buy more hormones in a small bottle than your body can produce in a year; somehow being right isn’t so important anymore. I believe a good friend is someone you know, warts and all, and you love them in spite of it. It’s wonderful to know you are married to your best friend.

Adding my $.02

I may say something bad about my spouse, but don’t you ever do it. When I was a young man learning to be a public speaker, a caring mentor told me one way to get in real trouble with an audience is to listen to them make fun of one of their members, and then chime in. They will turn on you in a second.

When someone complains, they really don’t want you joining in telling them they are married to the biggest jerk in the entire galaxy.

Don’t bitch to me about your spouse; particularly in a public format. On the flip side of the discussion, when someone chooses to air their dirty linen, most people are uncomfortable and don’t know how to respond.

Years ago, I would try to help and offer suggestions. Today we have friends that are bitching about the same things they did decades ago. OK, he or she is “your jerk” but the good far outweighs the bad; you have been together for decades.

Today Jo and I will probably listen, say something positive and change the subject. No one wants to hear it, that type of conversation is just a downer. Focus on the good and positive in your relationship.

So what was my great discovery?

The idea that old souls love differently and more deeply has been going on since the beginning of time. Why did it take 76 years to arrive in my conscious mind? How many opportunities to be proactive have I missed along the way?

I enjoy writing about the financial side of things and “enjoying your golden years”. Having no money worries is wonderful, however it pales in comparison to the real issue.

Enjoy your golden years; cherish the time with your spouse cultivating that very special deeper commitment. We understand the emotional pain connected with the natural order of things each time we lose a friend, or read the obituary of a hero of our youth. No one needs to remind us our biological clock is ticking.

Unlike money, we all run out of time. Live, laugh, love and enjoy the ride for as long as you can. There are no do-overs….

On the Lighter Side

In a couple weeks Jo and I head back to the Midwest. It will be a special summer, with Jo headed to her 50th high school class reunion. I graduated in 1958, and our class decided to celebrate the 58th reunion for the class of 58.

For a few moments we will step back in time and remember the fun and good things of our youth. I sent the following link to our reunion committee. What a beautiful group getting together for their 70th reunion. I hope we can do as well.

Even in their 90’s they say it seems like yesterday. Wow!

Good friend, Stan the Annuity Man, has a great website, Annuities.direct. It’s pretty cool! It allows you to price various annuity options, without being hassled. We did a fun interview “How Annuities Can Work For Today’s Retiree”. Check it out!

And finally

In keeping with this week’s theme I wanted to include a link to one of my favorite songs. Priceless!

Jo sent me a couple cute lines:

  • “Where do you think you will be in four years?” he asked. She said, “I don’t know, I don’t have 2020 vision!”
  • “Children are so often spoiled because no one will spank grandma!”

Until next time…

One comment

  • Jeff White

    Wonderful insights into relationship management! Thank heaven I married a trophy 51 years ago who had the patience to put up with my evolution from self-centered young stud to appreciative mate who now appreciates the meaning a real love. (And I am glad I accommodated her maturation as well!)