Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul

Last time, I finished reading Chicken Soup for the Couple's Soul and shared my favorite story in my post. Last night, I just finished reading Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul. I have to say I liked the one for the couple's soul better. There were a lot of situations that were not applicable in setting and culture that I have compared to the ones that were used as an example in the bride's soul edition. Although, I can empathize with the situations that were presented in the book, majority of it just doesn't fit the bill. The part that I liked most in the book is the one towards the end already. It's called "Timeless Wisdom". This section are advise and lessons learned from people who has experienced and is experiencing married life. There were two entries that I really liked which I will share with you here. I normally choose just one but it's a tie so I decided to share both.

To the owner and authors of Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul, please know that I have no intent to breach your copyright. I just want to share the two stories that made an impact to me when I read your book.

First story is called "Advice from the Groom's Dad".

Try praising your wife, even if it does frighten her at first. - Billy Sunday

I have the most useless job in the world: father of the groom.

Our Stephen is getting married this weekend and, as father of the groom, I'm expected to do absolutely nothing. 

Okay, I have to show up. But that's all. I have no duties. I don't have to hire a string quartet, arrange for flowers, select a modest but saucy little wine, walk down any aisle. I could nod off and no one would care. Or notice.

Well, not for me the role of nonparticipant, I want to get in my two cent's worth.

So, as my contribution to the wedding, I offer Stephen and his bride, Rhea, this advice on marriage:

Always eat a good breakfast. A good marriage requires lots of energy and you shouldn't start your day on an empty stomach.

Always put the other person first. 

Never leave home without a kiss. It's nice. If you can work in a little pat, I'm all for that, too.

Have fun. If you don't make each other laugh, there is something wrong.

Accept early in the marriage that there are some things you'll never agree on - the proper room temperature, station wagons, Capri pants, the Three Stooges. Don't panic. This is normal.

Don't try to win every argument. Compromise with dignity. And no gloating.

Live within your means. Money management is a lot more important than you may think in marital bliss. Don't be afraid to do without. Things won't keep you together. When you look back, it isn't things you remember.

Surprises. You need lots of them. Just the other morning, I found a poem left by my place at the table. That's why I think I have the finest partner in the galaxy. 

Don't sulk, whine or leave things in your pockets on washday.

Don't save your best smiles for strangers, people at the office, clients. Get your priorities straight. 

Talk to each other. I'm a big believer in this.

Have a nice, big, cozy bed where you can start and end each day with a cuddle. If you're too busy to cuddle, you are probably suffering from a bad case of self-importance - fatal in a marriage.

Don't take each other for granted even if you're celebrating your golden anniversary. 

Be faithful.

Don't figure romance is over once you're married. It's just started, if you play it right.

Have dinners at night with everyone around the table discussing the day's events. Don't have the TV on. Don't read the newspaper. Don't complain. It's time to lighten up and relax.

Serve whipped cream every now and then. Whipped cream puts everybody in a good mood.

A little lace never hurt a marriage.

Have children. And when you have them, take care of them. Love them, enjoy them, spend time with them, say "no" to them, play with them, hug them. Children are probably the most important contribution you'll make to the world, so don't treat them like a hobby or leave them to strangers to raise.

Have a porch as soon as you can. And a couple of nice chairs. Sit out on summer evenings and watch sunsets. You don't always have to be on the go. 

Be around when things go right, but also when they go wrong.

Listen, listen, listen. You'll be surprised what you learn. 

No double standards.

Early in the morning, when you're still half-awake, reach over and touch your partner to reassure yourself that he or she is there, and that things are all right. Tenderness is legal.

Gary Lautens
Reprinted from The Best of Gary Lautens

These may seem like small things but most of the time these small things are taken for granted. But it is in the small, everyday things that we will see and truly feel the love our partner has for us and not in the grandest of gestures.

The other story that I loved is called "Love Everlasting".

Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle. - Amy Bloom

I have a friend who is falling in love.

She claims the sky is bluer, she's lost fifteen pounds and she looks like a cover girl. "I am young again!" she shouts exuberantly. 

As my friend raves on about her new love, I take a good look at my old one. My husband of almost twenty years, Scott, has gained fifteen pounds. His hairline is receding and his body shows the signs of working long hours and eating too many candy bars. Yet he can still give me a certain look across a restaurant table that makes me want to ask for the check and hurry home.

And then my friend asks, "What will make our love last?"

I run through all the obvious reasons: commitment, shared interests, unselfishness, physical attraction and communication. Yet there's more.

There is spontaneity. After slipping the rubber band off the rolled newspaper, Scott shot it playfully at me and started an all-out war. At the grocery store, we split the list and raced to see who could make it to the checkout first.

There are surprises. I came home to find a note on the front door -  leading me to another note, then another, until I reached the walk-in closet where I found Scott holding a "pot of gold" (my cooking kettle) filled with the "treasure" of a gift package. In return, I've left notes on the mirror and presents under his pillow. 

There is understanding. I understand why he must play basketball with the guys. He understands why, once a year, I must get away from the house, the kids - even him - to "play" with my sisters.

There is sharing. Household worries, parental burdens, even ideas - we share them all. Scott came home from a convention and presented me with a thick historical novel. Although he prefers thrillers and sci-fi, he read it on the plane because he wanted to be able to exchange ideas after I've read it.

There is forgiveness. When I'm embarrassingly loud and crazy at parties, Scott forgives me. When he confesses losing some of our savings in the stock market, I give him a hug and say' "It's okay. It's only money."

There is sensitivity. Scott walked through the door with an it's-been-a-tough-day look. He wept as he described a stroke victim and her husband caressing her hand. How was he going to tell this man his wife would probably not recover? I shed a few tears myself... because my husband is still moved after years of hospital rooms and dying patients.

There is faith. One week I listened to the heartache of friend coping with cancer, divorce, aging parents and death. But I also noticed boisterous blossoms of gladioli outside my window, the laughter of my son and the cheerful sight of a wedding party emerging from a neighbor's house. I described it all; Scott listened. And we helped each other acknowledge the cycles of life and joys that counter the sorrows. It was enough to keep us going. 

Finally, there is knowing. I know Scott will throw his laundry just shy of the hamper every night, he'll be late to most appointments and he'll eat the last chocolate in the box. Scott knows I sleep with a pillow over my head, I'll lock us out of the house regularly and I'll eat the last chocolate if I find it first. I guess our love endures because it is comfortable. 

So, no, my friend. With a lasting love, the sky is not bluer: It's just a familiar hue. And the two of us don't feel particularly young: We've experienced too much that has contributed to our growth and wisdom. It's taken a toll on our bodies, yet created our memories. 

But, to my way of thinking, that's what makes love last.

Annette Paxman Bowen

What the author described here is what I envision for me and the H2B in the coming years. I have a habit of sharing with him what I read. But take note that he does not like reading, ok. I just read it out to him and we share our thoughts. Ours is a love that has battled more than a century of being apart and then finding each other again and loving each other even more than we did way back then. And yes we are comfortable. So I sincerely believe we can also live this tale written by Annette.

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