When flowers are just the icing on the cake

Today is my wedding anniversary and last night my husband and I were looking at each other and asking , “What should we do to celebrate?” Neither of us had any great ideas other than our usual… cook a nice meal together, enjoy a good bottle of wine, and maybe break out the massage table.
A heaviness started to come over me. I was fighting to hold back tears as we lay on the couch together, chit-chatting about all that’s going on in our life.
I knew I was feeling. I just didn’t know what I was feeling.
I realized I was feeling something about the fact that next week he was planning to take a day off to go fishing and asked me to cover for the fish farm, and that the following weekend he’s away for the whole weekend for his cousin’s stag-do and I’d be on fish duty again.
I could identify a Sadness, but I didn’t know why. And I was judging my own sadness. “You should be grateful Kendra for what you have.” “Stop letting your hormones dictate your happiness.”
My judgemental inner critic carried on… “Stop being so controlling! He never gets a break from the fish, let him have a couple of days off without spoiling it for him!”
I noticed the expectation… “Tonight and tomorrow should be filled with romance and intimate connection. That’s what’s supposed to happen to have a healthy marriage.”
And I noticed some fear creeping in… “If you say the wrong thing you’re going to totally blow it and ruin the night and your anniversary.”
Thankfully I knew enough to collect myself before speaking, otherwise it would be a jumbled gush of emotion that would only cause more pain and disconnection. I gave myself some space to just be and let the tears brim until I could find some loving words to express how I was feeling.
After a good 5 minutes of giving myself the time to sit and just be held in his arms, I realized that the inner conflict I felt all linked back to the core feelings that Liberty taught us about on the True You Italia retreat. I was super grateful I finally had a name for them.
After another 5 minutes of just breathing and allowing the feelings to just be, I was able to use the new words I learned and express myself in a way that could be heard.
I was able to tell him, ‘I am Glad for you that next week you have some time off. I’m feeling Guilty that I’ve had more time away than you have had over the past couple of years. I am Sad that we don’t get to have full days off together to go experience the world like we used to.’
And I started to express a desire of mine. ‘I feel like something is missing. I want more adventure, fun, a break from the norm with you. Yes, we get to spend time together, and don’t get me wrong, having 2 meals a day together is something special that I cherish. But I need more.’
Of course, I couldn’t quite place my finger on what that ‘more’ was right then and there, leaving him in a state of confusion. (Those damn women! 🙂 )
He left for his final fish feeding round of the day, and as I was in the shower it dawned on me (ever notice moments of brilliance always happen in the shower?)…
I want to be surprised!!!!
So I texted him to let him know.
This in and of itself was monumental. A change in pattern for me.
Instead of downplaying and hiding my true desire, telling myself that I am silly, or undeserving, or wrong somehow for having a need, I shared it with him in the moment.
It also dawned on me that I have a part to play in the element of surprise in our relationship. So I got a bit silly.
And pulled out on 8 year old fancy dress costume that he had bought me for my birthday when we first met… “Maybe I’ll try it on and see if it still fits.”, I thought.
It did more than fit. As I pulled on my yellow and black stripey leg warmers, and threw on my pair of bee wings, I felt like a kid again! The same childlike innocence that was a cornerstone of our initial romance.
And I realized what I was missing in addition to Surprise.
Play-time!!
We have been so busy ‘working’ at getting our businesses to a point of stability that we’ve forgotten how to play.
Last night gave me a much needed reminder that I need to play more, work less.
So as I was buzzing around the kitchen, preparing dinner as usual, I got to do it with a smile on my face, and more importantly, on my heart. Not only was I having fun dressing up for no reason at all on a random Tuesday night other than because I felt like it, I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he came home.
The story could’ve stopped there, but it got even better.
He came home from a planned stop at the shop, and behind his back pulled out a brightly coloured bouquet of flowers.
This from a man who 8 years ago kindly forewarned me… “Just for the record, I don’t do flowers. They’re just going to die.” (Ever the practical one.)
“I only just got your text.”, he said. “I was planning to surprise you anyway.”
The smile on my heart grew. And not just because of his surprise of the flowers, but because I had given myself a gift first.
I gave myself the space to feel, express myself without judgement, wake up to my own desires, and fulfill them for myself (that bee outfit won’t be packed away at the back of closet after this).
It was from a place of already being filled up, that I was able to receive his gift.
It was the icing on the cake.
All I can say is, give yourself the space to do the same. Feel, express, name your own desires, and start to meet them for yourself. Basically, give yourself the love you’re probably looking for.
Go play, be silly, have an adventure, surprise yourself and the ones you love.
You won’t be disappointed, promise.

Blow-ups & Peace-talks

This week in our house, we had our regularly scheduled blow-up about the origins of mankind. These discussions happen on a semi-regular basis but it seems that every 3 months or so the conversation really heats up.

Questions like: Is there is a God? What about the dinosaurs? Is our spirit really a spirit or just our subconscious mind? Or is that the same thing?

My husband and I come at these questions from polar opposite points of view. I was raised in a culture steeped in conservative Evangelical values, where anything but Christian was the devil. He was raised in an environment where values didn’t stem from religious beliefs and there was no expectation of what faith you affiliated with. If anything there was an assumption there would be no affiliation.

Some pointed differences:

My upbringing told me that I had to marry a Christian. His upbringing could care less what I did on Sunday morning.

My upbringing was laden with fear… of breaking the rules and punishment if you did. In his upbringing, fear was not something that was there to control you.

This week as we hashed out our differences… in upbringings, worldview, trigger points, and communication styles (oh my!)…

I realized that my travels through Thailand were not for naught; ‘Same, Same, but Different’ rings true again.

Yes we are different, but we want the same thing.

Our differences lie in a combination of things.

For starters, the basic mathematical principle of the Mode: We are both the average of the people we spent the most amount of time around growing up.

Then there’s our innate personality type: He is a J on the Myers-Briggs scale; where if it’s not black, white, or a neat row of logical zeroes and ones, his head hurts. Me? I live in a world where fifty shades of grey makes perfect sense to me.

And don’t discount the fact that when he finds out our sun is spinning in spirals around some other planet/object/universe, his calls me in from whatever I’m doing with the excitement of a kid at Christmas in his voice. And I’m left standing there trying to find a way for ‘frankly my dear, I could give a damn.’ to sound like I really care.  And when I can’t stop talking about how life changing the idea that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have!, he nods his head and smiles and then goes back to watching David Attenborough.

Yet we are both asking for the truth. For the capital-T Truth; the indisputable laws of life including physical laws of gravity and e=mc2, and the spiritual laws such as life follows death (hello butterfly).

And being on the journey for capital-T Truth, we have to respect what is true for ourselves and each other in the moment… that where each of us is on our journey is real and true for us, and not something the other person can dispute or take away.

For me, if you are asking for the Truth, you’re good to go. You may not have found it yet, but it will find you. And I’m convinced that it knows enough to find you in the way that works for you. Why would it show up in Greek when you only speak Russian?

And so why would I only be able to find truth in nature shows when I’d rather be reading Brene Brown?

So here’s my encouragement to you today:

It’s likely that somewhere in your life you feel a disconnection, and the blatant differences between you and a loved one are staring you in the face. It might keep you up in the middle of night, make you want to punch a wall, or it’s why you cry yourself to sleep.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that the disconnection is just a figment of your imagination, or that all you have to do is change your thoughts. No, the disconnection and the differences are real. You are two different people.

BUT

The disconnection doesn’t have to stay there forever.

A different lens helps to see where the similarities are. Even if it’s a tiny speck, it is the place to plant a seed.

This is what helped me/us this week and maybe it can help you too. It boils down to two things.

1. Owning your story

2. Finding the common goal

Owning your story:

  • Understand where the differences come from. Eg I am personality type A vs I am personality type B
  • Understand how you think and communicate differently. Eg I need to connect dots and see patterns vs I need the final answer shot straight between the eyes
  • Understand your triggers. Eg I shut down to closed-ended questions vs I blow up when I don’t get a straight answer
  • Remember where you came from. Eg I came from a heavily religious background vs I went to Sunday School because that’s just what you did.
  • Check in with where you are now in your story. What Chapter are you living? Eg I am at a place where I’m unraveling and dissecting everything from my past and deciding what I want to keep and what I want to throw away vs I am building off of a clean slate.

Finding the common goal:

  • Where do we both want to end up? Eg Truth, Peace, Love, etc
  • What do we want for each other? Eg space to grow, curiosity, encouragement

Once you’ve given this some thought (and fyi some of those answers may not show up right away), chances are you can find a way TOGETHER, to fill in the gap from A (where you each are at in your own story) to B (your common goal).

And then maybe your quarterly blow-ups can look more like quarterly peace-talks. Except that, that whole death brings life and fire burns off the old thing still stands true; so maybe the blow-up is just inevitably necessary 🙂