Culture of Divorce, Culture of Death by Anthony Esolen

21 05 2016

Divorce

It was a quiet room in a hospice, the only sounds the muffled pumping of oxygen, and the softer and slower breathing of my mother-in-law, Esther, as she lay a few hours before her death. Her husband, Herb, stood by the bedside, stroking the gray curls on her forehead, a slight gesture. It seemed to wave away 50 years of sorrow and disappointment and strife, leaving only the love he felt for her in the beginning, like a seedling under the ruins of a city.

 

He could have abandoned her years before — not for another woman, but for what the world calls peace. Dad is not a Catholic, so he had no Church precept to warn him against divorce. He didn’t need any. “You never know what you’ll get in life,” he put it to me once. “You have to do the right thing, because if you don’t, you’ll probably make things worse.” So he never left, and at the last moment of Esther’s life he was there, fulfilling a patient vigil, his eyes red with weariness and loss.

“Moses allowed our forefathers to present their wives with a bill of divorce,” said the Pharisees to Jesus. “For what cause do you think a man may put away his woman?”

 

Consider them the pundits of that time, eager to learn whether on this matter of public policy the preacher from Galilee would position himself on the left or the right. Would he agree that you could divorce your wife for burning the soup, or would he hold out for a far narrower range of grounds — adultery, for instance?

 

But Jesus rejected the terms of the question. “Moses permitted you to divorce,” he said, “because of the hardness of your hearts; but it was not so from the beginning. Therefore you have heard it said that a man should leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife, and they two shall become one flesh. So I say to you that any man who puts away his woman — I am not talking about fornication here — and marries another, commits adultery.” He concludes with a stern admonition: “What God has joined together, let no mere man put asunder.”

 

We may be too familiar with these words. They should strike us with the same shock that once silenced the Pharisees, or enraged them, when the Lord reached back behind all the history of the Israelites, behind the Temple and the kings and the judges and the tribes, behind even creation itself, as He said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Here alone, in this discussion of marriage, does Jesus answer a question about good and evil and human life by appealing to the time before the Fall. “It was not so,” he says, “from the beginning.” It was no part of God’s plan for innocent mankind. It can be no part of God’s plan for man regenerate in Christ.

 

Jesus has presented to us two potent truths, each unbearably alive and full of import for fallen man, yet leaving it to us to connect them. The first has been celebrated joyfully by Pope John Paul II: Man and woman are made for one another. Our bodies, our very souls are stamped with a nuptial meaning, and in the embrace of man and woman, an embrace that in God’s providence can bring into being a living soul, we recall our innocence in the Garden, and we share in and anticipate the wedding feast of the Lord. The second? We were not made for sin and death, for alienation from one another and from God, our life. That too was not so from the beginning.

 

Make the connection. Culture of divorce, culture of death.

If any man had cause for procuring a divorce, short of adultery and mayhem, my father-in-law had it. Esther was a difficult woman to live with. Over a trifle, as when we should leave for the diner, she could go into a towering rage, then storm off to her bedroom, her face set like flint, certain that she was right, that she was ill-used by everyone, and woe to my wife if she tried to reason with her. “Gram’s on the warpath,” she’d say. She could jest about it then, nervously, but when she was a girl she didn’t dare bring any of her friends to the house, for fear that her mother would cause a scene. Hers was a lonely childhood.

 

What caused this habitual anger, I can’t say. Perhaps a deep insecurity, a hunger to be loved; her own mother was by all accounts a tyrant in the household. When Esther returned home with Herb from their elopement, her father said to him, “If you can live with her, more power to you.” And she was her father’s favorite.

 

For a few years they lived together happily, in unlikely conditions: quarters for married midshipmen at a naval base in the Bahamas. They always spoke about that time with wistful humor. The poverty was something they shared and couldn’t help, so they took it in stride, and made jokes about how much they grew to hate bananas. Esther was also one of those women who genuinely enjoys the company of men, and whom men will treat with a big-brother jocularity and kindness. Those years were good for them.

 

Then they settled down in New Jersey, where they would live most of their lives. Dad is a sharp man and a hard worker, holding down two and three jobs all his life before he retired. But for a while money was tight, and though Esther grew up with eleven other children in a rented house with an earthen floor, or maybe because she grew up in such straits, she never learned any measure in her spending. She was one of the most generous people I’ve known, lavishing my children with Christmas presents, but she spent on herself, too. She wanted nice things they could not afford. So she upbraided her husband about his pay, and went to work herself.

 

My wife was born then, and maybe all would have been well had Esther been able to trust her husband’s industry and thrift, and had she not been afflicted by a painful condition that compelled her to have a hysterectomy. It was a severe loss. In her frustration she took a job at a monstrous candy mill, working at rotating shifts, two weeks in the day, two weeks in the evening, two weeks in the dead of night. The body never accustoms itself to that; it is always sleep-deprived. So she took to having a nightcap before bed. Then she fell in with some cynical companions at work who also liked to drink. Soon she was an alcoholic.

 

Many readers will be able to fill in the details. She was impossible to predict; sometimes ingratiating, sometimes as unappeasable as rock. She would throw cups and dishes about the kitchen. Her fists were not idle. She’d shut herself in her room for days of terrible silence. She insisted on separate bank accounts, throwing it in Dad’s teeth that it was her money, that she made more than he did (for a year or so this was true), and that she could spend it as she pleased. My wife cannot remember when they shared the same bed.

 

But to her credit, Esther recognized that Dad was a terrific father, and in her own way she was true to him. Nobody else dared criticize him — but she would humiliate him publicly. He didn’t care, or didn’t let on. They could unite only in their love for their daughter, whom they showered with gifts, partly to compensate for their inability to give her what she wanted more than anything, namely love for one another. Finally, when she was 15 and presumably capable of surviving the blow, her mother approached her with bad news.

 

“I can’t take it anymore! Your father and I are getting a divorce.”

 

But divorce was still rare in those days, and my wife hadn’t entertained the possibility. It was as if someone had told her that her little world, so fraught with suffering, so fragile, yet so beloved, would be smashed to bits. She broke down in bitter tears. Her mother backed away, and God would bless her for it. The word “divorce” was never uttered again.

Divorce destroys a world; it smothers an echo of Eden. What was the Fall, if not man’s first attempt to divorce? “Where are you, Adam?” calls God in the cool of the evening. “You haven’t come out to meet me as you used to do.” Adam is steeped in shame. He doesn’t want to be seen. Consider the unselfconsciousness of little children who parade naked in front of their parents, because they sense no separation; they feel themselves to be at one with mother and father. Only later, with a growing sense of separate identity, and a growing loneliness, does the child wish to hide. Adam is hiding not because he is naked, but because he is alienated from God, and it is that separation that causes him to look upon his nakedness, an emblem of his own being, with shame.

 

But the severance could not end there. When Adam and Eve admit their guilt — a graceless and skulking admission — they chisel the fissure more deeply, divorcing themselves from one another and from creation. “It was this woman you gave to be my help,” says Adam. “She gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Eve passes the blame in turn. “It was this serpent you created! He tricked me, and I ate the fruit.”

 

What can we expect should follow? The very earth shuns us. The ground shall bear thorns and thistles, and in the sweat of his brow must man eat his bread; the woman will bear children in pain, and will have to submit to the domination, not the loving headship, of her husband. Their children grow up in separate pursuits — Abel a shepherd, Cain a farmer — and in envy for a blessing he lacks and does not sincerely desire, Cain slays Abel, not in rage, but in cold malice. When God accosts him, as he once accosted Adam, we see in Cain’s reply that the fissure has widened into a chasm. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” he sneers.

 

There you have the motto for a culture of divorce. Cain’s words assume that the brother, the parent, the spouse, the neighbor is not worth keeping. What to do with one who obstructs my will, or casts a pall over my daydreams? If I can get away with it, and if I am angry enough, I put him away. No matter. Around any house or barn there’s plenty of noisome matter to be buried, shoveled over, cast into a pit, or burnt. We rid ourselves of the sights and smells.

 

Cain begins in Genesis a saga of family strife, occasioned by lust or greed or envy. Lamech is a multiple murderer, and proud of it. Men begin to take several wives. Lot listens to his grumbling men and separates from Abram, taking that fateful left turn toward Sodom. After Sarah finally conceives a child, she cannot bear the sight of the woman she had encouraged to become Abraham’s concubine, so she forces her husband to send Hagar and Ishmael away into the desert. Though God would bring forth good from her guile, Rebecca causes deadly enmity between her sons when she tricks Isaac into giving his blessing to Jacob and not Esau. Jacob’s uncle Laban tricks him into marrying Leah, whom he does not love, and then extorts seven additional years of work from him in exchange for Rachel, whom he does love. The intense rivalry between the two sister-wives causes a rift in the family between the sons of Leah and the sons of Rachel, whom old Jacob favors. One of those sons, Joseph, is hurled down a well by his brothers, then sold into slavery.

 

If heaven is filled with life and light, a wedding feast to celebrate the marriage of the Lamb to his bride the Church, then hell, as C. S. Lewis imagined it, may be the Great Divorce, a realm of alienation, whose “citizens” detest even the thought of a city, and who wish, in an endlessly fissiparous parody of the Heavenly Jerusalem, to move further and further away into the outskirts, to put as much distance between themselves and God (and their neighbors in damnation) as possible. Dante saw it too: One of the traitors in his Inferno, fixed in ice up to his head along with all the others of his ilk, defines his neighbor simply as that one “with his head in my way to block my sight” — a head that will annoy him for all eternity, and that he would gladly lop off if he could, with no more compunction than if he should swat a fly.

But Herb and Esther never departed for that gray city that promises much and delivers nothing. They stayed with one another; they endured. They kept their vows. “Son of Man,” said the Lord God to Ezekiel as he stood before a valley of dry bones bleaching in the desert sun, “tell these bones to rise.” And from those vast dead sands they did arise.

 

Not immediately. They sent their daughter to college, and after years of wandering in the academic wasteland, joining a tent revival, falling away, brought closer to the Lord by a rabbi, a musician or two out at heels, a good old girl from Tennessee, a motorcycling professor of Milton, and a lover of Crashaw, she ended up in North Carolina, where we met; and I had left my own footprints over many a desert mile. Each of us became the instrument by which the Lord brought the other one home. We fell in love; we worshiped together at Mass. At our wedding, our priest delivered a sermon on the Song of Songs, and on the righteous souls in Revelation, the communion of saints whose robes have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb.

 

I have a picture of Herb walking down the aisle with my wife. He looks embarrassed, as if he couldn’t tell how he had come to be there. He had been raised in an evangelical church. His father, a sternly righteous man, took the faith seriously, but imparted little of the joy of it to his children. Herb’s churchgoing did not survive the Navy. Esther, meanwhile, had been raised with hardly any religion at all. She may have attended a Dutch Reformed church for a few years as a child, but her parents paid so little attention to it that they failed to have her baptized. By the time we were married she had given up drink for good, and the AA meetings she attended may have turned her toward the Bible; or maybe she had turned on her own. In any case, though she was ashamed to be found in a church on Sunday, she read a little of the Bible every night, in secret.

 

I don’t know if, except for marriages and funerals and an occasional Easter long ago, Herb and Esther had ever been in a church together. I do know that our marriage, and our increasing steadfastness in the Faith, made them happy. They suddenly had something new to unite them. If they could not love one another, or at least not admit to it, they could together love my wife and me, and then the little girl and the little boy we brought them — the only grandchildren they would ever have. Esther was a hard woman, but she had also the corresponding virtue of loyalty. If you hurt someone she loved, she might never forgive you, but if you loved the one she loved, her heart would swell in gratitude. Now she and Herb had unexpected reasons to be grateful to one another. They could tattoo their house with pictures of the toddlers, who adored them in their turn, as was just.

“God is not the God of the dead,” said Jesus to the Sadducees, whose hearts were too cramped to believe in any resurrection, “but of the living.” To accept divorce as a way of death — no way of life — is to deny the very being of God as revealed by Jesus. It is to say that love can, or should sometimes be permitted to, die utterly. But had God so acted toward us, all this universe would have winked out of existence at the first sin of Adam. With every sin we commit, we pretend to sever ourselves from the fount of our being, as if we were lords of life and death; yet should God respond to us in kind, we would find the divorce complete, and would fall into the nothingness of everlasting loss. But He does not do so, and at the last moment, like the thief on the cross who joined the others in their jeering, but who then thought better of it — and maybe it took the torment of crucifixion to wake him — we may turn to Christ and hear him say, “This day you shall be with me in Paradise.” Christ did not put away that dying criminal. So much the better for us, who are all criminals, dying.

Esther too was dying, though nobody but my wife noticed it. “Something’s wrong with Gram. She remembers things that never happened.” Old age, I supposed. Esther did not look like she was about to depart. She still fought mercilessly with her husband. She still squandered her money, though it had been many years since illness had forced her to retire from the factory. She still raged against how badly everyone treated her. She still slammed the door to her room, to hide, to be miserable; and, at night, to open her Bible, though she never talked about it.

 

But she was suffering a series of small strokes, as we learned much later. These strokes compromised her memory and her ability to get things done around the house. Herb never complained. He’d always been handy, and now he began, unobtrusively, to take on chores she could no longer perform, sweeping and vacuuming, loading the washer, tending the garden, along with all his old chores and his hard work, post-retirement, at his auto junkyard. The strange thing was that as Esther’s memory faded, so did her rumination upon all the wrongs she thought people had done to her. Weakness wore away the edges of her anger.

 

All this took more than ten years. It was punctuated by times of madness, when she would storm out in the dead of night and pound on a neighbor’s door, because a “strange man” was in her house — her husband; or when on a snowy Christmas night she forgot that she was visiting us 250 miles away, and insisted that she was going to walk home. I had to sleep in front of the door to bar her way. But in general she was softening, mellowing. When, after his open-heart surgery, Herb could no longer take care of her and she had to move to the county home, she was pleasant to the nurses and the beauticians, and would brighten up whenever anybody came to see her. Herb visited her three or four times every week, which was as often as her condition could bear, wheeling her down to the solarium where they would talk with other patients and visitors for the whole afternoon.

 

Esther could be most kind when she wanted to be, and could accept kindness too, but for much of her married life she would not accept it from her husband. Now, as she grew more helpless, she was glad to accept it from him, and he gave it without stint. She called him, in a moment of tenderness and lucidity, her “savior.” She was not far wrong. His most important act of kindness he performed just before his operation and her entering the nursing home. He’d become friends with a local Presbyterian minister, a genuine believer in Christ. Now he knew that Esther was too ashamed to admit that she hadn’t been baptized. He also knew that if he were to suggest a baptism, she would reject it in anger and hurt, and that would be the end of that. So he told everything to Pastor Forbes, and invited him to visit now and then, so that Esther would get to know him. Then the subject might come up unbidden, or certain suggestions might be made. So he did; and, not long before the time would pass when she could reasonably make any decisions she would remember, without any prompting she asked to be baptized. A few days later, Pastor Forbes baptized my mother-in-law, a frail old woman but at last a daughter of God, in her own kitchen, christening her in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

We in a culture of death hunger after life, but on our own terms, and at the expense of others, even at the expense of their lives. But some of us will only begin really to live when we have lost all capacity to pretend that we are our own. That is one of the meanings of Jesus’ mysterious saying, that unless we become like little children, we shall not enter the kingdom of God. Esther now entered that childhood, and Herb was there, to feed her, to wheel her about when she could no longer walk, to talk to her even toward the end, when a massive stroke had left her still wishing to speak, but unable to form more than one or two intelligible words.

 

And he was beside her those last few days, making sure, if by some miracle she regained the ability to swallow, that the hospital staff would not abandon her to starvation. He would not allow them to hasten her death with morphine, prescribed less often to alleviate pain than to soothe the onlookers and free the doctors and nurses from the ennui of a natural death. We watched by turns at the bed of the dying woman, not because we believed there was something magical about squeezing out each breath from the clamp of death, but because it was the right thing to do. She was going to die, but we didn’t want her to die alone. The dying life was a mystery. It was not our place to abandon it, to cast it away as inconvenient, as trash, as we are urged to do to so much else in our barren lives.

 

How can we know what fleeting notes of grace came to her in those last hours? If God wills, who can obstruct Him? After nearly 53 years of struggle and disappointment, yet 53 years of faithfulness and duty, Herb stood by, never divorced. The Lord God, against whom she had sinned the more mightily, never turned from calling her back to Him, and as a child of over 70 years she finally answered that call.

 

What keeps people from believing that a good God loves them and desires never to be parted from them, unless they themselves should flee that love? Look in the mirror, and see the cause of despair in others. Do not repeat the words of the great divorcer at the bottom of hell, who says in his loneliness and misery, “I am my own, I am my own.” Say rather, “I am a wayward child, and the one I am called to stand beside is a wayward child.” Do not dare mull over your “quality of life” and your “fulfillment” — wrapped in a shroud of deadly self-regard, while the Lord of life, who dies to bring you to life, gasps for His last breath on the cross above. If anyone had grounds for divorce, He had; no one ever loved as deeply as He, and no one was ever betrayed as He. You, reader, have betrayed Him shamelessly, as have I. Yet He remains faithful, and waits for us, to bring us life:

 

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

 

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

 

And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.

 

Anthony Esolen is a professor of English at Providence College and a contributing editor for Touchstone magazine. He has translated and edited Dante’s Divine Comedy, in three volumes, for Modern Library (Random House). This article originally appeared on January 15, 2008.





How I Saved My Marriage By Laura A. Munson : Story Will Make You Cry

25 10 2015

How I saved my Marriage

LET’S say you have what you believe to be a healthy marriage. You’re still friends and lovers after spending more than half of your lives together. The dreams you set out to achieve in your 20s — gazing into each other’s eyes in candlelit city bistros when you were single and skinny — have for the most part come true.

Two decades later you have the 20 acres of land, the farmhouse, the children, the dogs and horses. You’re the parents you said you would be, full of love and guidance. You’ve done it all: Disneyland, camping, Hawaii, Mexico, city living, stargazing.

Sure, you have your marital issues, but on the whole you feel so self-satisfied about how things have worked out that you would never, in your wildest nightmares, think you would hear these words from your husband one fine summer day: “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. The kids will understand. They’ll want me to be happy.”

But wait. This isn’t the divorce story you think it is. Neither is it a begging-him-to-stay story. It’s a story about hearing your husband say “I don’t love you anymore” and deciding not to believe him. And what can happen as a result.
Here’s a visual: Child throws a temper tantrum. Tries to hit his mother. But the mother doesn’t hit back, lecture or punish. Instead, she ducks. Then she tries to go about her business as if the tantrum isn’t happening. She doesn’t “reward” the tantrum. She simply doesn’t take the tantrum personally because, after all, it’s not about her.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying my husband was throwing a child’s tantrum. No. He was in the grip of something else — a profound and far more troubling meltdown that comes not in childhood but in midlife, when we perceive that our personal trajectory is no longer arcing reliably upward as it once did. But I decided to respond the same way I’d responded to my children’s tantrums. And I kept responding to it that way. For four months.

“I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.”

His words came at me like a speeding fist, like a sucker punch, yet somehow in that moment I was able to duck. And once I recovered and composed myself, I managed to say, “I don’t buy it.” Because I didn’t.

Husband vs wife

He drew back in surprise. Apparently he’d expected me to burst into tears, to rage at him, to threaten him with a custody battle. Or beg him to change his mind.

So he turned mean. “I don’t like what you’ve become.”

Gut-wrenching pause. How could he say such a thing? That’s when I really wanted to fight. To rage. To cry. But I didn’t.

Instead, a shroud of calm enveloped me, and I repeated those words: “I don’t buy it.”

You see, I’d recently committed to a non-negotiable understanding with myself. I’d committed to “The End of Suffering.” I’d finally managed to exile the voices in my head that told me my personal happiness was only as good as my outward success, rooted in things that were often outside my control. I’d seen the insanity of that equation and decided to take responsibility for my own happiness. And I mean all of it.

My husband hadn’t yet come to this understanding with himself. He had enjoyed many years of hard work, and its rewards had supported our family of four all along. But his new endeavor hadn’t been going so well, and his ability to be the breadwinner was in rapid decline. He’d been miserable about this, felt useless, was losing himself emotionally and letting himself go physically. And now he wanted out of our marriage; to be done with our family.

But I wasn’t buying it.

I said: “It’s not age-appropriate to expect children to be concerned with their parents’ happiness. Not unless you want to create co-dependents who’ll spend their lives in bad relationships and therapy. There are times in every relationship when the parties involved need a break. What can we do to give you the distance you need, without hurting the family?”

“Huh?” he said.

“Go trekking in Nepal. Build a yurt in the back meadow. Turn the garage studio into a man-cave. Get that drum set you’ve always wanted. Anything but hurting the children and me with a reckless move like the one you’re talking about.”

Then I repeated my line, “What can we do to give you the distance you need, without hurting the family?”

“Huh?”

“How can we have a responsible distance?”

“I don’t want distance,” he said. “I want to move out.”

My mind raced. Was it another woman? Drugs? Unconscionable secrets? But I stopped myself. I would not suffer.

Instead, I went to my desk, Googled “responsible separation” and came up with a list. It included things like: Who’s allowed to use what credit cards? Who are the children allowed to see you with in town? Who’s allowed keys to what?

I looked through the list and passed it on to him.

His response: “Keys? We don’t even have keys to our house.”

I remained stoic. I could see pain in his eyes. Pain I recognized.

“Oh, I see what you’re doing,” he said. “You’re going to make me go into therapy. You’re not going to let me move out. You’re going to use the kids against me.”

“I never said that. I just asked: What can we do to give you the distance you need … ”

“Stop saying that!”

Well, he didn’t move out.

Instead, he spent the summer being unreliable. He stopped coming home at his usual six o’clock. He would stay out late and not call. He blew off our entire Fourth of July — the parade, the barbecue, the fireworks — to go to someone else’s party. When he was at home, he was distant. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. He didn’t even wish me “Happy Birthday.”

But I didn’t play into it. I walked my line. I told the kids: “Daddy’s having a hard time as adults often do. But we’re a family, no matter what.” I was not going to suffer. And neither were they.

MY trusted friends were irate on my behalf. “How can you just stand by and accept this behavior? Kick him out! Get a lawyer!”

I walked my line with them, too. This man was hurting, yet his problem wasn’t mine to solve. In fact, I needed to get out of his way so he could solve it.
I know what you’re thinking: I’m a pushover. I’m weak and scared and would put up with anything to keep the family together. I’m probably one of those women who would endure physical abuse. But I can assure you, I’m not. I load 1,500-pound horses into trailers and gallop through the high country of Montana all summer. I went through Pitocin-induced natural childbirth. And a Caesarean section without follow-up drugs. I am handy with a chain saw.
I simply had come to understand that I was not at the root of my husband’s problem. He was. If he could turn his problem into a marital fight, he could make it about us. I needed to get out of the way so that wouldn’t happen.

Privately, I decided to give him time. Six months.

I had good days, and I had bad days. On the good days, I took the high road. I ignored his lashing out, his merciless jabs. On bad days, I would fester in the August sun while the kids ran through sprinklers, raging at him in my mind. But I never wavered. Although it may sound ridiculous to say “Don’t take it personally” when your husband tells you he no longer loves you, sometimes that’s exactly what you have to do.

Instead of issuing ultimatums, yelling, crying or begging, I presented him with options. I created a summer of fun for our family and welcomed him to share in it, or not — it was up to him. If he chose not to come along, we would miss him, but we would be just fine, thank you very much. And we were.

And, yeah, you can bet I wanted to sit him down and persuade him to stay. To love me. To fight for what we’ve created. You can bet I wanted to.

But I didn’t.

I barbecued. Made lemonade. Set the table for four. Loved him from afar.

And one day, there he was, home from work early, mowing the lawn. A man doesn’t mow his lawn if he’s going to leave it. Not this man. Then he fixed a door that had been broken for eight years. He made a comment about our front porch needing paint. Our front porch. He mentioned needing wood for next winter. The future. Little by little, he started talking about the future.

It was Thanksgiving dinner that sealed it. My husband bowed his head humbly and said, “I’m thankful for my family.”

He was back.

And I saw what had been missing: pride. He’d lost pride in himself. Maybe that’s what happens when our egos take a hit in midlife and we realize we’re not as young and golden anymore.

When life’s knocked us around. And our childhood myths reveal themselves to be just that. The truth feels like the biggest sucker-punch of them all: it’s not a spouse or land or a job or money that brings us happiness. Those achievements, those relationships, can enhance our happiness, yes, but happiness has to start from within. Relying on any other equation can be lethal.

My husband had become lost in the myth. But he found his way out. We’ve since had the hard conversations. In fact, he encouraged me to write about our ordeal. To help other couples who arrive at this juncture in life. People who feel scared and stuck. Who believe their temporary feelings are permanent. Who see an easy out, and think they can escape.

My husband tried to strike a deal. Blame me for his pain. Unload his feelings of personal disgrace onto me.

But I ducked. And I waited. And it worked.

Laura A. Munson is a writer who lives in Whitefish, Mont.

First Published in The NewYork Times





The Husband’s Guide to a Happy Wife: Humour

26 08 2015

Husband guide to a happy wife2

Wives have a secret that they will never disclose to their husbands.  For thousands of years, men have tried to understand the rules when dealing with women.  This is the secret:  Mothers have a book they give to their daughters when they begin dating.

In 1983, suffering a moment of insanity, a female turncoat passed this merit/ demerit guide to a male friend, who immediately made it public, and now all men can understand why their wives treat them the way they do.

Remember, just one rule applies:  Make your wife happy.  If you do something she likes, you get points.  If you do something she dislikes, points are subtracted.  If your point total is positive, she will be happy.  If it is negative, she will be unhappy.  If she is unhappy, you will also be unhappy.  Remember this.  If your point total is zero, the expectant and very attentive gaze that so many men hate will dominate your life.

Oh, there is one more little thing:  You don’t get any points for doing something nice that she expects you to do.

Household Chores

  • You make the bed: +1
  • You make the bed, but forget to replace the decorative pillows: 0
  • You throw the bedspread over rumpled sheets: ‑1
  • You wash the sheets and pillowcases: +5
  • You sleep on the sheets until they are greasier than a slab of raw bacon: ‑10
  • You do all of the dishes: +10
  • You load up the dishwasher, but leave the greasy pots for her: ‑5
  • You load up the dishwasher, but let the dog have his licks first: ‑25
  • You leave the toilet seat up: ‑5
  • You replace the toilet paper roll when it is empty: +2
  • When the toilet paper roll is empty, you resort to Kleenex or paper towels: ‑10
  • When the Kleenex runs out you use the next bathroom: ‑20
  • You go out to buy her favorite ice cream in the middle of a snowstorm: +2
  • But return with beer: ‑5
  • And no ice cream: ‑25
  • You check out a suspicious noise at night: +2
  • You check out a suspicious noise and it is something: +5
  • You pummel it with a baseball bat: +10
  • It’s her cat: ‑40
  • It’s her mother: ‑150

Disgusting Jobs

  • You unclog a stopped‑up toilet: +6
  • You clean out the refrigerator: +10
  • You clean up cat, dog or human vomit or other bodily fluids: +7
  • You get rid of a dead rodent: +8
  • You visit her parents: +1
  • You visit her parents and actually make conversation: +3
  • You visit her parents and stare vacantly at the television: ‑3
  • And the television is off: ‑6
  • You take her mother to see “Cats”: +350

At a Party

  • You stay by her side the entire party: +10
  • You stay by her side for a while, then leave to chat with an old college drinking buddy: ‑2
  • Named Tiffany: ‑10
  • Who is an “exotic dancer:” ‑25
  • With implants: ‑75

Birthdays and Anniversaries

  • You remember her birthday or your anniversary: +3
  • You buy a card and flowers: +10
  • You give her a gift: 0 (remember, you’re expected to do this)
  • You give her a gift, and it’s small appliance: ‑10
  • You give her a gift, and it’s not a small appliance: +1
  • You give her a gift, and it’s not chocolate: +2
  • You give her a gift that you’ll be paying off for months: +30
  • You wait until the last minute and buy her a gift that day: ‑10
  • With her credit card: ‑30
  • At the nearest 7-11: -40
  • And whatever you bought is two sizes too big: ‑50
  • Two sizes too small: +200
  • You take her out to dinner: 0
  • You take her out to dinner and it’s not a sports bar: +10
  • Okay, it’s a sports bar named Bo’s Belly Barn: ‑10
  • And it’s all‑you‑can‑eat night: -15
  • It’s a sports bar named Bo’s Belly Barn, where you both eat at the all‑you‑can‑eat bar, and e place just coincidentally happens to be featuring a game involving your favorite team, d you paint your face the colors of this team, and you get stupid drunk: ‑50
  • You go to a nice, pricey restaurant and hire a guitar player: +10
  • You go to a nice, pricey restaurant, hire a guitar player and get up and sing: +15
  • And you stink: +12
  • And you are not half bad: +25

Thoughtfulness

  • You buy her flowers only when it’s expected: 0
  • You buy her flowers as a surprise, just for the heck of it: +5
  • You give her wildflowers you’ve actually picked yourself: +10
  • And she contracts Lyme disease: ‑25
  • You forget to pick her up at the bus station after she visits her mother: ‑15
  • The bus station is in Newark, New Jersey: ‑25
  • When it is pouring rain: -35
  • Which dissolves her leg cast: ‑50

A Night Out with the Boys

  • You go out with a pal: ‑2
  • The pal is happily married: +1
  • With kids: +1 per kid
  • The pal is single: ‑5
  • He drives a Ferrari: ‑10
  • With a personalized license plate that reads GR8NBED: ‑15
  • You have more than a few and perform the tango with a poodle while wearing a toilet seat around your neck: ‑20
  • You have lots of drinks and vaguely remember a ride in the back of an unfamiliar car with uniformed men, and being fingerprinted: ‑35
  • Is that a tattoo???: ‑200

A Night Out with Her

  • You take her to see a movie: +2
  • You take her to see a movie she likes: +4
  • You take her to see a movie you hate: +6
  • You take her to see a movie you like: ‑2
  • Which is called “Death Cop III: Bone Storm:”  ‑12
  • Which features cyborgs that eat people after horribly mangling them: ‑20
  • And you told her it was a foreign‑language film about war orphans and nuns: ‑50

Saturday Afternoon

  • You go to the mall together: +3
  • You go to the mall, drop her off at the entrance, then park the car: +4
  • You go to the mall, drop her at the entrance, then drive to a sports bar: ‑2
  • You spend the day shopping for furniture and pretend to like it: +3
  • You tackle a large household project, such as painting the den: +15
  • Or refinishing the floors: +20
  • Or rewiring the basement: +25
  • Or adding a second floor: +50
  • Or setting up a Nerf Ball hoop over the bathroom wastebasket: ‑6
  • And you are tickled pink about it: ‑15
  • You spend the afternoon watching college football in your underwear: ‑6
  • And you didn’t even go to college: ‑10

Grooming and Exercise

  • You trim your nails: +5
  • You trim your nails in the living room: ‑10
  • You trim your nails and flick them at the cat: ‑15
  • You trim your nails by biting them and then spitting them at the cat: -25
  • You shave on the weekends: +2
  • You don’t shave on the weekends: ‑4
  • You don’t bathe on the weekends: ‑8
  • But then, neither does she: +8
  • You develop a noticeable pot belly: ‑15
  • You develop a noticeable pot belly and diligently exercise to get rid of it: +20
  • You develop a noticeable pot belly and resort to loose jeans and baggy Hawaiian shirts to cover it up: ‑30
  • You point at her and say, “Hey, look! Twins!”  ‑800

The Baby

  • You offer to feed and change the baby, but immediately fall back asleep: ‑5
  • You actually feed and change the baby in the middle of the night: +5
  • You feed the baby and clean her up, but forget to put a new diaper on her: ‑10
  • You accidentally put beer in the baby’s bottle, thereby guaranteeing a good night’s sleep for the whole family: ‑0.1
  • You put the baby out and feed and change the cat: ‑50

The Car

  • You keep your car, minivan or pickup truck reasonably clean and gassed‑up, with the tires properly inflated and all necessary fluids at their proper levels: +5/week
  • Your car, minivan or pickup truck is so filthy that she can’t find the shift knob and can hardly see out of the windows, plus the carpet is so grungy you could cut it up and feed the dog with it: ‑10/week
  • You make sure there are barely enough fumes in the car to make it to the nearest gas station: -1
  • Your car conks out at the side of the road and you fix the problem immediately: +10
  • Your car conks out at the side of the road and you mess around under the hood without a clue as to what you are doing for two full hours, and finally use her cell phone to call a tow truck: ‑25
  • You have personally tuned and upgraded your car to the point where it can reach sixty miles per hour in five seconds flat, but you don’t know how to fix the dishwasher when it goes on the blink: ‑15
  • Your car’s transmission conks out, you pull it out and disassemble it, but leave the whole thing in the bathtub: ‑50
  • There are dead cars in your driveway or front yard: ‑5 per car per week
  • There is a dead school bus in your driveway or front yard: -50 per week
  • You lose the directions on a road trip: ‑4
  • You lose the directions and end up getting lost: ‑10
  • You end up getting lost in a really bad part of town: ‑15
  • And meet the locals up close and personal: ‑25
  • And she finds out you lied about having a black belt: ‑60

The Dreaded Question:  “Am I Gaining Weight?”

  • You answer “absolutely not, you are the same slim girl you were when we were dating:” ‑5, because she knows you are lying, but it is a nice lie
  • You hesitate before responding: ‑10
  • You ask “Where?:”  ‑35
  • Any other response: ‑20 (as you can see, this is a always a no‑win situation for the husband)

When She Wants to Talk About Her Feelings or a Problem

  • You listen, displaying a concerned expression: +2
  • You listen for over 30 minutes: +5
  • You relate to her problem and share a similar experience: +50
  • You give her suggestions on how to fix her problem by adjusting her personality: ‑50
  • Your mind wanders to sports and you suddenly hear her saying “Well, what do you think I should do?:” ‑10 to ‑20, depending on your answer
  • You have fallen asleep: ‑50

And Now, It’s the Men’s Turn …

We always hear about the rules from the female side.  Here are the rules from the men’s side.  If you heed these rules, your man will be happy, and so will you.

Please note:  These are all numbered “1” on purpose!

  • Men are NOT mind readers.
  • Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.  We need it up, you need it down.  You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
  • Sunday sports — It’s like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.
  • Crying is blackmail.
  • Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one:  Subtle hints do not work!  Strong hints do not work!  Obvious hints DO NOT WORK! Just SAY it!
  • Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
  • Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do.  Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
  • Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after seven days.
  • If you think you’re fat, you probably are. Don’t ask us.  IT’S A TRAP!!!
  • If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
  • You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done — not both! If you already know how to do it, just do it yourself.
  • Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
  • Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions — and neither do we.
  • ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color.  Pumpkin is also a fruit.  We have no idea what mauve or puce is.
  • If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
  • If we ask what is wrong and you say “nothing,” We will act like nothing’s wrong. We know you’re lying, but it is just not worth the hassle trying to figure out what the hell it is.
  • If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, expect an answer you don’t want to hear.
  • When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine … Really!
  • Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, football, cars or golf.
  • You have enough clothes.
  • You have too many shoes.
  • I am in shape. Pear IS a shape!
  • Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight — but did you know men really don’t mind that?  It’s like camping!




How to Win Back Your Emotionally Distant Husband by Richard P. Fitzgibbons

5 08 2015

Emotionally distant man

Helen came into treatment for depression, which she believed was the result of severe marital loneliness. Her husband, Mike, loved her but was not physically affectionate and rarely told her that he cared for her. Also, she grew up in a home in which she felt little affection from either parent. Her depression resulted in chronic fatigue and she began to neglect her children and home. In an attempt to escape from her loneliness, she met a man on the internet and considered having an affair with him. As a result, Helen felt very guilty and became even more motivated in her attempts to improve her marriage.

In the marital sessions, Mike stated that he had justifiable anger with his wife for acting in an irresponsible manner regarding the care of the home and children. Her behavior was interpreted, in part, as a manifestation of depression and of passive-aggressive anger toward him.

Initially Mike was quite resistant in examining his own weaknesses from his family of origin. He was loyal to his father, whom he viewed as an excellent role model in most ways and it took several months before he could admit that when he was young, he wished often that his father had been more affectionate and affirming. Slowly, he came to understand his wife’s needs and the fact that he had difficulty in being sensitive to her as a result of modeling after a father who was markedly limited in the communication of love. The uncovering of Mikes childhood and adolescent anger with his father was a lengthy process.

When he understood that his unconscious anger with his father was an important factor that interfered with his ability to love his wife, Mike tried forgiveness exercises in order to improve their marriage. He was given a written cognitive forgiveness exercise on which he was asked to picture himself as a child and as a teenager and think, “Dad I want to try to understand you and to forgive you for not giving more affection, praise and warmth to Mom and me.” Then he was asked to imagine communicating to his father, “I want to model after your good qualities, but not your weaknesses. I don’t want to be emotionally distant like you.” Mike came to realize that his fat her’ style of relating was the result of modeling after Mike’ grandfather and that he had not meant to hurt his family.

As Mike worked at forgiving his father and committing himself to act differently, he actually began to feel freer from the weakness which he had acquired from him. Slowly, he grew in his ability to communicate to Helen and during this process, he was able to apologize to her and express remorse for the ways in which he had hurt her by his aloofness.

Helen, at the same time, was struggling with her anger and tried daily to understand and to forgive him for being distant. She did not want to continue to vent anger at him in passive-aggressive ways. After forgiveness was explained as a method for letting go of her anger which would help in the healing of her marriage, she agreed to try it. Initially, she employed cognitive forgiveness exercises in which she did not truly feel like forgiving him. As her understanding of Mike’s family conflicts grew and as she saw him work to change his behavior, she felt much more compassion and was able to genuinely want to forgive.

Helen also came to recognize that she had been overreacting in anger at Mike as a result of her failure to resolve her childhood and adolescent anger with her emotionally distant father. Helen’s father had lost his own father when he was three years old and had grown up in foster homes. Helen was asked to try to understand and to forgive her father. In the process of using past forgiveness exercises she imagined herself as a child and teenager thinking, “Dad, I want to try to understand and to forgive you for being so emotionally distant.” The resolution of Helen’s anger with her father and with Mike for past hurts diminished her resentment and as her anger decreased, her husband then felt safer with her.

The resolution of the anger associated with the conflicts in Mike and Helen’s relationship took several years of treatment. The psychotherapeutic use of forgiveness was employed successfully with each partner and led to a marked improvement in their marital relationship.

In the deepening phase of the forgiveness process, each came to a greater understanding of their partner and their trust in each other grew. Each realized that their spouse did not deliberately want to inflict hurt, but had acted out of unresolved emotional conflicts from the family of origin. They also grew in a greater sensitivity to their own weaknesses which had created tensions earlier in their married life. They were more hopeful as a result of a greater confidence in their ability to resolve marital conflicts in a more peaceful and positive manner. Finally, forgiveness became an important tool in protecting their communication and their marital love.

The resistance in many men in facing their issues with their fathers can be formidable. Unlike Mike, a number of men steadfastly refuse to examine the influence of their own father’s relationship upon them and their marriages. Uncovering father anger in these men can be facilitated if the therapist shares how he or she worked to break through the denial in order to understand and forgive a parent or significant other.

The emotionally distant spouse can be a source of significant unhappiness, stress and conflict in marriages and families.  Most often, we hear wives make this complaint about their husbands’ behaviors.  The pain of loneliness, insecurity, mistrust and anger caused by the emotionally distant spouse can intensify over the years of marriage and can lead to a desire to separate or even divorce.  Unfortunately, in many marriages there is a failure to honestly discuss and address this weakness in self-giving.  The good news is that this serious marital conflict can be uncovering and resolved through the hard work of growing in virtues.  This healing process can lead to a strengthening of the romantic aspect of the marriage, marital friendship and betrothed love which in the writing of John Paul II includes sexual intimacy, but primarily is the challenging movement of the heart and mind from “me to we.”

The most common causes of emotionally distant marital behaviors in our experience are the result of men modeling after fathers who had this conflict and serious damage to the ability to trust caused by the trauma of their parent’s divorce or by a parent’s controlling or angry behaviors.  Although some spouses gave freely of themselves during the early years of their marriage, under the influence of numerous types of stress, the emotional wounds of mistrust from childhood and adolescence emerge.  These can lead them to pull away or criticize in an unconscious attempt to protect themselves from further betrayal. Other important factors which can lead a spouse to withdraw love and self-giving are various hurts over the years of the marriage, giving into the epidemic of selfishness in the culture and the use of oral contraceptives.

Case studies will be presented from the textbook, Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, R. En right & R. Fitzgibbons, American Psychological Association Books, 2000. These marital stories hopefully will help you come to a deeper understanding of the process of healing the pain in the emotionally distant spouse.  You will be asked to complete a checklist which evaluates marital self-giving in both your spouse and in yourself.  Then, specific virtues will be recommended which are helpful in the healing of this serious marital conflict that inflicts so much harm upon spouses and on children.

Marital Friendship Evaluation: Marital Self-Giving Checklist

The essence of a healthy marital friendship is the ability to give oneself to one’s spouse with deeds, emotions and thoughts.  The self-giving checklist below is a measure which evaluates a spouse’s ability to give himself/herself in a healthy manner to the marital friendship, romantic aspect of the marriage and to marital intimacy. Please evaluate your spouse and yourself by answering the following questions in regard to your marital friendship.

Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions

The process of change from being distant to being more emotionally giving and receiving takes a significant amount of time and effort. Since the most common cause of this conflict is the result of modeling after a distant parent, important initial progress occurs when the person thinks daily that he wants to repeat the good qualities of a distant parent, but not the parent’s weaknesses

Many spouses are helping by developing more  positive thinking patterns and specially bringing to mind that they spouse is trustworthy and needs warmth, affection and praise. Also, thinking that one’s spouse is one’s best friend, that one is safe in the relationship and committing oneself to daily strengthen the friendship are helpful. The distant spouse can work on trying to:

  • commit communicating in a positive, hopeful manner with one’s spouse for one half hour after dinner each night
  • receive the communication, warmth, advice, gifts and goodness of one’s spouse
  • identify areas of common interest
  • be cheerful and positive
  • work on the romantic aspect of the relationship
  • think that love is deeds
  • praise and compliment
  • void expressing anger by using immediate forgiveness exercises
  • ask for forgiveness for hurts
  • be physically close to spouse in the evening
  • relax with each other after dinner
  • go to bed at the same time
  • try to enjoy some exercise together such as walking
  • be patient and understanding
  • let go of an excessive sense of responsibility
  • avoid one word answers
  • avoid being negative/sarcastic
  • communicate all important issues in one’s life to spouse

The Role of Virtues in Strengthening Marital Friendship

Growth in virtues strengthens the character or personality and facilitates self-giving in the romantic, friendship and intimate aspects of marriage. Pope John Paul II wrote in his first encyclical, The Redeemer of Man, “To be sincere gift of themselves human persons must possess a full freedom which comes only from mastery of oneself.” The virtues enable us to gain greater mastery over ourselves.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1803, states, “A virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in a concrete way. The goal of the virtuous life is to become like God.”

Our clinical experience has been that a commitment to work on growth in the virtues of trust, forgiveness and faith are particularly effective for healing in the distant spouse.

The Role of Faith

The role of faith and prayers have been demonstrated to be beneficial in physical and in emotional healing. For example, Dr. Herbert Benson has demonstrated the beneficial effects of meditation on on e’s cardiovascular health and has written extensively on the role of faith in healing (see www.mbmi.org).

John Paul II’s description of marital self-giving to romantic love, friendship and betrothed love in marriage from his book, Love and Responsibility, can assist couples in understanding their most important calling in the sacrament of marriage to truly love and give to their spouses as Christ loved and gave himself to the Church. I recommend that you visit that chapter on our site.

Some of the following daily meditations are helpful for those who are emotionally distant –

–  Lord help me to trust you and trust and feel safe with my spouse.

–  Lord help me to give myself cheerfully to you and to my spouse and children.

–  Lord help me to receive the special goodness and gifts in my spouse.

–  Lord help me to appreciate more my special God-given gifts at every life stage and protect my confidence in these gifts.

–  Lord help me to forgive those who have damaged my confidence, trust and ability to give myself and to receive.

We have found for Catholics that prayers and sacraments can be highly effective in strengthening marital self-giving and in resolving conflicts which lead spouses to be emotionally distant. For those with childhood and teenage wounds of mistrust and fear meditating upon Mary as a protective other mother or St. Joseph as another protective father can very effective. Also, the sacrament of reconciliation can assist in resolving parental, peer or spousal anger, which can imprison one in mistrust. Some spouses report that receiving the Eucharist on a regular basis helps them feel safer, happier and more loving.

Couples also report that they are helped in their giving to each other and their children by saying a rosary together daily and by asking the Lord to free them from modeling after a distant parent.  Finally, spouses relate benefits from meditating upon asking the Holy Spirit to help them to become one with their spouses in every aspect of their marriage.

The Other Spouse and the Role of Faith

The person who struggles with an emotionally distant spouse regularly experiences a number of stressful emotions including loneliness and sadness, anger, anxiety, conflicts with confidence. An awareness that this difficulty can be healed can bring hope.

These spouses are helped by trying daily to understand the causes of this conflict in their spouse and to try to forgive him/her. Prayers for healing of the spouse’s weakness can bring hope, wisdom and courage. When the origin of this weakness becomes clear, it is advisable to discuss the reasons one believe he or she is emotionally distant. Many spouses fear being honest for numerous reasons. They may fear an angry response, may believe the marriage might end if this serious conflict is faced or lack the confidence to be honest. A major weakness here which blocks honesty about marital conflict is that of not trusting the Lord enough with the marriage.

When spouses are struggling to be honest I sometimes quote the writing of St. Josemaría Escrivá, “You never want to get to the heart of the matter. Sometimes, through politeness. Other times, most times, through fear of hurting yourself. Sometimes again, through fear of hurting others. And, always, through fear!” (The Way 33). If a spouse gives the marriage to the Lord many times daily, he or she will not be fearful, but rather have a sense of trust and protection which facilitate honesty.

Husbands and wives are asked to express their desire for a closer relationship and to ask the spouse to try to be more emotionally giving. If their spouse has a spiritual life, they may request that he/she ask the Lord to heal their conflicts and to help them to be more emotionally giving love. Also, one can ask if one can make any changes to improve closeness in the relationship. During this healing process the giving spouse can find comfort meditating on in the Lo rd’s steadfast love and in prayer for the healing of this weakness in their marriage.

Some spouses relate that they have found that their loneliness has diminished by asking their emotionally distant husbands or wives to spend one half hour after dinner reading together the gospel of the day and discussing how it applies to their lives.  This discussion is enriched by the use of a scripture commentary.

The person married to an emotionally distant spouse can suffer from what amounts to a type of post-traumatic stress disorder. They are troubled by recurrent memories of the past when their spouse hurt them deeply by insensitive and cold behaviors. These memories can lead to a significant fear of trying to work on the marriage and of being hurt again. A certain purification of the memory can occur through understanding and forgiving the distant spouse and through giving the painful memories of the past to the Lord. Many report that their fears of betrayal diminish by meditating many times daily, “Lord help me to feel safe and protected in my marital relationship.” Finally, growth in the virtues of faith, hope and love can strengthen this spouse to pursue Go d’s will for marital healing.

While the emotionally distant spouse and parent can cause great suffering in marriage and family life, the good news is that this emotional “wound” can be healed.  These individuals can grow to become loving and giving husbands, wives and parents, particularly if they are open to grow in virtue.

Dr. Richard P. Fitzgibbons





The Magic of Attractive and Beautiful Women by Janet Smith

7 06 2015

attractive black-couple51

There is some really good news for the ladies. One article reports:

They say female chemical messengers, known as pheromones, may help dupe men into thinking plain women are more attractive and beautiful women are less attractive than they actual are. Pheromones, the colorless, odorless chemical signals given off by the body, are thought to affect behavior in both animals and humans at a subconscious level.
This study involved showing men pictures of super models and having them rate the women for their attractiveness. Of course, they found them to be very attractive. Then they took something soaked in female fertile hormones and put that in the same room with the men. We exchange hormones through the sense of smell, although they have no discernable odor. Next the men viewed pictures of average women and under the influence of the fertile hormones, found the average women more attractive than the super models. Women don’t seem to realize that they are naturally attractive to males and that using contraception works against, not for, that attractiveness.
Let us recall that whereas contracepting couples divorce at the rate of about 50%, couples using natural family planning almost never divorce. It seems men living in households with women who are going through fertile cycles are less likely to stray. In fact, the men I know to be in marriages that use natural family planning are what I want to call very married. They do not look around. They are not interested in anyone else. They are very satisfied in their marriage.
After one of my talks a woman came up to me and she said that when she converted to Catholicism she stopped contracepting and started using Natural Family Planning ( NFP). She mentioned that many of her friends who were still contracepting complained that their husbands were having a problem with masturbation and pornography. She said none of her friends who use natural family planning complained of that problem. I think there is a reason. Again, I think the men living with women having fertile cycles are having satisfying natural sex. Men having sex with women who are contracepting seem to be turbulent and confused.





Take Care of the Person You Love: Marriage

1 02 2015

Take care of the person youAs the movie came to an end the room filled with chatter and laughter from family brought a contented smile to my face.  The minute Mom said, “Who wants…” the room emptied quicker than the stands at a losing football game.

My boyfriend Todd and I were the only ones left.  With a bewildered look on his face he asked me what just happened. Catching the laughter on my mom’s face, I said to Todd, “We are going to put gas in my mom’s car.” He quickly replied, “It’s freezing out there, and it’s almost 11:30 p.m.”

Smiling, I said, “Then you had better  put on your coat and gloves.” After hurriedly chipping the frost off the windshield, we bundled into the car.  On the way to the gas station, Todd asked me to explain why in the world we were going to get my mom gas so late at night.  Chuckling, I said, “When my siblings and I come home for the holidays, we help my dad get gas for my mom.

It has turned into a game with all of us.  We can tell when my mom is going to ask and the last one in the room has to go.”  “You have got to be kidding me!” Todd responded. “There is no getting out of it,” I said. While pumping the gas, we clapped our hands and jumped around to stay warm.  “I still don’t get it.  Why doesn’t your mom put the gas in the car herself?” Todd asked.

With mirth in my eyes, I said, “I know it sounds insane, but let me explain.  My mom has not pumped gas in over two decades.  My dad always pumps gas for her.”  With a confused look, Todd asked if my dad was ever annoyed with having to pump gas for his wife all the time.  Shaking my head, I simply said, “No, he has never complained.” “That’s crazy,” Todd quickly replied.

“No, not really,” I explained patiently.  “When I came home for the holidays my sophomore year of college, I thought I knew everything.  I was on this big female independence kick.  One evening, my mom and I were wrapping presents, and I told her that when I got married, my husband was going to help clean, do laundry, cook, the whole bit.  Then I asked her if she ever got tired of doing the laundry and dishes.  She calmly told me it did not bother her.  This was difficult for me to believe.  I began to give her a lecture about this being the ’90s, and equality between the sexes.

“Mom listened patiently.  Then after setting the ribbon aside, she looked me square in the eyes.  ‘Someday, dear, you will understand.’

“This only irritated me more.  I didn’t understand one bit. And so I demanded more of an explanation.  Mom smiled, and began to explain:  “‘In a marriage, there are some things you like to do and some things you don’t.  So, together, you figure out what little things you are willing to do for each other.  You share the responsibilities.  I really don’t mind doing the laundry.  Sure, it takes some time, but it is something I do for your dad.  On the other hand, I do not like to pump gas.  The smell of the fumes bothers me.  And I don’t like to stand out in the freezing cold.  So, your dad always puts gas in my car.  Your dad grocery shops and I cook.  You dad mows the grass and I clean.  I could go on and on.’

“‘You see,’ my mother continued, ‘in marriage, there is no scorecard.  You do little things for each other to make the other’s life easier.  If you think of it as helping the person you love, you don’t become annoyed with doing the laundry or cooking, or any task, because you’re doing it out of love.’ “Over the years, I have often reflected on what my mom said.  She has a great perspective on marriage.  I like how my mom and dad take care of each other.  And you know what?  One day, when I’m married, I don’t want to have a scorecard either.”

Todd was unusually quiet the rest of the way home.  After he shut off the engine, he turned to me and took my hands in his with a warm smile and a twinkle in his eye. “Anytime you want,” he said in a soft voice, “I’ll pump gas for you.”

 





Never Forget Your Spouse: The Story of Three Yellow Roses

10 02 2014

Never Forget Your Spouse: The Story of  Three Yellow Roses

I walked into the grocery store not particularly interested in buying groceries. I wasn’t hungry. The pain of losing my husband of 37 years was still too raw. And this grocery store held so many sweet memories Rudy often came with me and almost every time he’d pretend to go off and look for something special. I knew what he was up to. I’d always spot him walking down the aisle with the three yellow roses in his hands. Rudy knew I loved yellow roses. With a heart filled with grief, I only wanted to buy my few items and leave, but even grocery shopping was different since Rudy had passed on. Shopping for one took time, a little more thought than it had for two. Standing by the meat, I searched for the perfect small steak and remembered how Rudy had loved his steak. Suddenly a woman came beside me.
She was blond, slim and lovely in a soft green pantsuit. I watched as she picked up a large pack of T-bones, dropped them in her basket, hesitated, and then put them back. She turned to go and once again reached for the pack of steaks. She saw me watching her and she smiled. “My husband loves T-bones, but honestly, at these prices, I don’t know. I swallowed the emotion down my throat and met her pale blue eyes. “My husband passed away eight days ago,” I told her.
Glancing at the package in her hands, I fought to control the tremble in my voice. “Buy him the steaks. And cherish every moment you have together.” She shook her head and I saw the emotion in her eyes as she placed the package in her basket and wheeled away. I turned and pushed my cart across the length of the store to the dairy products. There I stood, trying to decide which size milk I should buy. A quart, I finally decided and moved on to the ice cream section near the front of the store. If nothing else, I could always fix myself an ice cream cone. I placed the ice cream in my cart and looked down the aisle toward the front. I saw first the green suit, then recognized the pretty lady coming towards me. In her arms she carried a package. On her face was the brightest smile I had ever seen. I would swear a soft halo encircled her blond hair as she kept walking toward me, her eyes holding mine. As she came closer, I saw what she held and tears began misting in my eyes. These are for you,” she said and placed three beautiful long stemmed yellow roses in my arms. “When you go through the line, they will know these are paid for.” She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on my cheek, then smiled again. I wanted to tell her what she’d done, what the roses meant, but still unable to speak, I watched as she walked away as tears clouded my vision. I looked down at the beautiful roses nestled in the green tissue wrapping and found it almost unreal. How did she know? Suddenly the answer seemed so clear. I wasn’t alone. “Oh, Rudy, you haven’t forgotten me, have you?” I whispered, with tears in my eyes. He was still with me, and she was his angel.








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