I Discovered That A
Gift Of Healing Was Wrapped In Your
Loving Acceptance Of Me.
Be sure to make
regular deposits into your ERA account
(Eternal Retirement Account)
of Love = Romance
To reveal myself openly
and honestly takes the rawest kind of courage.
We don’t know what the future holds . . . but we know who holds the future.
“Everything in life is most fundamentally a gift. And you receive it best and you live it best by holding it
with very open hands.”
Love Comforts Like Sunshine After Heavy Rain
When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements which seemed insoluble become soluble when someone listens.
Subjects for Understanding
Hi, come on into the Library and have a seat. In the last presentation we learned from Chris and Lori that Symptoms of Spiritual Divorce are caused by misunderstandings in basic areas of married life. We can overcome spiritual divorce by our willingness to reach out to each other on those topics we need to discuss.
Here in the Library, you will have the opportunity to examine many subjects on which you need to give and receive understanding, such as Health, Time, Money, Intimacy, etc.
We’ve asked several couples to be here with the presentations they have prepared. Each couple will share with you on a subject they wanted to grow in understanding, how it affected their lives and what they found out about each other during their couple dialogue. We’ll leave you now with your Guide Couple, Denny and Julie.
On our Marriage Encounter, a subject we chose to grow in understanding was relatives. We both marked this subject and we both knew the real problem -- Julie's poor relationship with my mother. We were given the perfect opportunity to discuss this topic, but we had built up so much fear that we chose to skirt the issue.
Instead we dialogued on our attitudes about getting together with relatives, and the importance of our children getting to know their grandparents better.
We hope you won't do what we did. Resolve now to discuss those hard topics.
My relationship with Denny's mother had been strained since we were engaged and she wanted to wear a dress to our wedding that had been stored in the attic for 15 years. Not only was it old, it was black, and one never wore a black dress to a wedding then, it was saved for a funeral.
I felt hurt and humiliated but Denny didn't seem bothered. New problems kept arising but every time Denny and I tried to discuss them, our misunderstandings grew.
When I was alone with his mother she would make very unkind remarks about me as a wife and mother. I felt put-down when she said I was wasteful because I didn't wash and reuse dirty plastic bags. I felt degraded when she said our baby, whom I was nursing, wanted it’s "cow". She said his father never accepted me (when I thought his father really liked me).
I was deeply hurt and very distressed over these comments, but when I told Denny what she said his answer was: "Oh, Julie, you must have heard wrong", or "She was just kidding", or "I know my mom; she wouldn't say a thing like that."
It hurt me very deeply that the two women I loved most couldn't get along. At times I even felt somewhat angry. Mom and I had always been very close. She was always so nice to me; I couldn't imagine her being unkind to Julie.
I was frustrated because the whole thing didn't make sense to me.
Instead of really trying to understand each other, we tried to solve the problem. One solution was -- I would avoid being alone with his mother. That didn't work as there was always a time when we were in the kitchen alone.
Another solution was to just suppress my feelings; act as if nothing happened. Denny said, "Don't let it bother you. Forget it." That didn't work either; feelings just build up inside me and I didn't know who to turn to.
Tension between Denny and I grew so intense over this topic, I sometimes wondered if our otherwise good marriage could be destroyed by his mother.
Several months after our Marriage Encounter, Julie and I agreed to dialogue on this subject. We weren't concerned with solving the problem. We would share our feelings and try to understand each other. I particularly vowed to listen to Julie, with no judgments, no criticisms. I acknowledged that Julie couldn't help how she felt. In the past, I had rejected her feelings. Now I would try to accept and hopefully to understand.
It was very hard for me to be open and share my feelings with Denny. I had been very hurt over this topic and didn't want to be hurt again. The first thing I realized was that, although I had been very hurt by his mother’s comments, I think I had been more deeply hurt by Denny. I felt rejected by him, accused of something I had never done. I felt wounded and alone, with no one to turn to and I felt terribly misunderstood.
I took the courage to tell Denny about things his mother said that I had never told him, things that made me feel like a poor mother. We had a 3 year old foster child living with us at the time. Denny's mother told me that it takes a really big heart to take care of someone else's child. "Wow!" I thought, "This sounds too good to be true." "Unfortunately", she continued, "you don't have that kind of heart." I paused and looked at Denny. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he felt my hurt.
Once I knew that Denny cared and was listening and wanted to understand, I was able to move beyond what his mother did or said, and look more deeply at my feelings. I could examine why the things she said hurt so much, and what other feelings were beneath my hurts. I already had doubts about my ability to care for this foster child. He had emotional problems, and I thought we both felt inadequate in meeting his needs.
Denny listened attentively, and gently asked questions. This helped me to relax and think more deeply, like wondered why I had never told his mother to stop talking to me like this. I guess I had such a poor self-image that it was natural for me to take it all in. Denny said he was so sorry that he hadn't been more understanding. He hugged me, and my hurts began to fade away.
Then an amazing thing happened. In the past this had been a battle to be won. I'd convince Denny of how mean his mother had been and he would put her in her place and set things straight in a very firm way. Suddenly I knew -- I didn't want Denny to talk to his mother. I didn't want him to do anything to her. All I wanted was the freedom to tell him and for him to understand.
Once I stopped jumping to defend my Mom and my feelings I was able to listen. If only I had listened from the beginning. At this point, I still couldn't understand the why of it but I could understand Julie and how hurt she had been.
I shared with her my feelings of disbelief, of confusion, and frustration. I kept wondering "why, why, why?" I realized that in my rejection I was trying to wish the whole thing away.
We thank God that we finally came to a point where we could understand each other. It was no longer an area which pulled us apart and built a wall between us.
Your next Guide Couple is Maria and Luis. They have several subjects on which to share with you.
Glad you could join us. We actually have several subjects on which we wanted to grow in understanding. Maria was in a terrible automobile accident, and it brought about many changes in our lives. We found that we both had several areas of our relationship that we wanted to bring up and dialogue about.
So, what we'd like to do is share with you on the subjects that we have been working on while I’m still in rehabilitation. In 11 days, God willing, I'll be going home, so our motivation has been accelerated, and we want to continue to grow in understanding on many topics.
Because Luis and I have owned our own companies for several years, Work is a subject near and dear to our hearts. We are both total Workaholics. If our businesses demanded 18 hour days, we gave it our all. My commercial real estate business required a great deal of traveling (during which I had the accident) and phone calls at all hours of the day and night.
Luis's business is the servicing of appliances. Consequently he might have to go on calls late in the evening. I've known my husband to save more than a few dinner parties by repairing the range or refrigerator.
Some nights we were so tired, we'd fall asleep in the middle of a conversation, or on the couch watching television. Other times when we should have been concentrating on each other, we each thought about matters related to our work. Luis began using work as an escape and I began to use it as my escape from being neglected. I'm not certain we could have been unfaithful to each other because we never really had time.
The problem is that we lost sight of each other. We forgot what was truly important. The commitments we had made to each other so long ago turned into commitments to our work.
I honestly think we began a downhill spiral toward extinction as a couple when we opened our businesses.
When we moved east from Oregon, I worked for a couple of different companies, but the kind of money I was bringing home didn't satisfy Maria; She thought I was worth more. So I opened my own business part-time. My services were in high demand and soon I was working full-time. Forty hours a week turned to 18 hours a day, six (sometimes seven) days a week.
Being in an appliance servicing business is similar to being a "doctor on call". It robbed us of our time together. The money was great, but because we both became so successful and realized so much income so quickly, we got greedy. I honestly think the more we made the more we wanted. It's like we got addicted to having money.
We were spending a great deal of time apart, but we "just knew" the other would be there waiting. We found out that taking each other for granted was slowly eating away at our relationship.
Since my accident, I’ve had time to think about our lives and realize that our work, while necessary for survival, should not be all consuming. It wasn’t wise for me to open my own business when Luis already needed my help in his growing business (which I had encouraged).
I have very nearly cost us our relationship by being too concerned with becoming a successful female entrepreneur. My priority should have been, and now is, to be a team with Luis, helping him expand his business and to share as much time together as possible. I can't let personal pride stand in my way. The pride I feel inside is for my successful husband. We need to be the couple we originally started out to be, and it's going to take both of us working toward that goal.
As horrible as Maria's accident was, we feel that God is making good come out of it by making us slow down and appreciate the gift of time. We finally have time to think and pray. We’re making time for each other. And we’re trying not to let our lives be ruled by greed.
We feel that our relationship has been strengthened by this ordeal, giving us the opportunity to renew our commitment to each other and God. Marriage Encounter brought out our desire to correct our mistakes, and showed us ways to do it.
Another subject that Luis and I chose to grow in understanding is the topic of intimacy. We've talked about it, and feel we want to discuss the romantic aspect of intimacy.
Following my accident, I needed many months of rehabilitation. Therefore, I’ve been staying at a Rehabilitation Center which is part of a convalescent home. As a result of this separation, intimacy is an especially difficult and sensitive subject for us to dialogue on.
One thing we have continually talked about during this separation is how much we really miss and need each other. Yet there in front of us is a fact we can't dismiss; during the last two years or so before Maria's accident we had grown apart. We spent so much time on our businesses that we forgot about ourselves, as a couple.
Quite honestly, we had reduced our needs to only when we absolutely couldn't stand it any longer. I became totally engrossed in my business and tended to forget this very sensitive female who shares my life, and needs me, or so she says.
I wrote love notes, yelled, cajoled, and almost begged for his affection. However, he was so tired from the long hours on service calls, and the moving of appliances. But that didn’t keep me from longing for some intimacy. I knew I had gained some weight since our marriage, so I wondered if perhaps he no longer wanted or desired me. I knew how he was raised to believe in the sanctity and fidelity of marriage, so there wasn’t the fear of infidelity. I became frustrated, and spent more time in my business. I fell away from Luis.
Again, Maria’s long recovery from the accident brought our mutual needs, desires, and objectives into crystal clarity. I have vowed to Maria to make things better and to give her the love, both emotional and physical, that she desires from me, and to be more sensitive to her overall needs.
I have vowed to give Luis the appreciation he deserves, and to be more loving in my actions, to return to being the woman he wanted and fell in love with.
I have fallen in love all over again, and he has assured me that he really does want me in his life. I can’t believe how happy I am. I'm very blessed to have Luis by my side and I won't forget who's important in my life again.
The next topic covered here in the Library is the topic of Death by Mike and Linda.
Thanks, Luis and Maria. Probably the most difficult subject for us to deal with is death. In my career I have sold life insurance to many people and explained why they needed it and I have taken care of my own needs. Maybe approaching death from a business standpoint makes me less vulnerable to my deepest feelings and fear of death. The facts are that Linda and I have very deep and real feelings in this area but have struggled sharing them with each other.
Preparing this talk has helped us reach out to each other and release some fears and frustrations.
About ten years ago I lost my Dad to the terrible disease of cancer. He was only 49 years old and I just didn't expect this young, healthy man to die. When my Mom called and told me he had cancer, I thought that his surgery would make him as good as new.
Our 2 year old son and I arrived in Atlanta 3 days later, about 12 hours after his surgery. Mom hugged me and cried harder then I've ever heard her cry and said, "The cancer is terminal; it’s spread to the liver. The doctors say there is nothing they can do". I felt so hopeless. All I could do was cry with her.
Then to see my Dad -- the fear and lonely look in his eyes remains with me today. We didn't talk about his death then or in the next six months before he died.
I called Mike that first night to report the sad news. Mike responded first in shock, followed by "don't worry, Honey, everything will be okay." But it wasn't okay -- my Dad was dying and I was hurting inside. I look back now and I think it would have helped all of us if we could have verbalized our thoughts and feelings.
Over the next few months, our son and I flew to Atlanta 3 times. We all prayed for a miracle. None of us ever discussed the possibility of his dying. The trips to Atlanta really put a strain on our budget and our relationship. When I was home with Mike, I felt guilty about not spending more time with my Dad. I felt guilty when Mike and I had fun together. I didn't talk about the guilt or much else that I was feeling. I resented Mike for not asking how I felt. I guess he thought if we didn't talk about it, it would all go away. But it didn't go away, instead it just grew and grew.
Talking about the death of one's parents is hard enough, but being able to communicate about losing your spouse is another. Not long ago Mike and I went to dinner with our friends. Mike said he wasn't feeling too good, he felt dizzy and was going to the car to lie down. Our friend helped him out while his wife and I paid the bill. When I went outside, there Mike was slumped over the arm of our friend who was barely able to hold him up. I ran inside for help. There was a paramedic in the restaurant who administered first aid and then the ambulance came. I was so frightened and worried about the possibility of a heart attack.
So many thoughts raced through my mind, I felt so lonely and afraid, cut off from Mike as he lay there. The fear was mine alone, he was unconscious and couldn't share this feeling with me. When he came to, he just chuckled and said "I'll be alright. We have to write a talk on death for Marriage Encounter and I thought it would give us some material to write on.” I didn't think that was funny. I sometimes resented his indifferent attitude but at other times just decided that he handles this area of death better than me.
My first experience with death was when my grandparents died. They were both very old and their death seemed to give everyone peace.
The next death I remember was my cousin. Paul was always full of life and adventure. When he was killed in an auto accident I experienced my first real sting of death. Paul was the same age as me and his death was sudden. That's when I felt a real fear of death. Because of this fear, I have blocked out many fond memories of good times that Paul and I shared. It was much easier to just admit that Paul was dead. I buried my hurt inside and refused to deal with it. Looking back I wish I could have released those feelings.
The greatest impact that a death has had in my life was when Linda's Dad died. He was a man whom I admired and loved from the first time we met. His gentleness and love for his family made me proud to call him “Dad”.
It's been many years that I have held guilt feelings inside because of his death. When we first learned that Dad had cancer, my faith told me that he could beat it. As he grew steadily worse I still wouldn't think about death as an end. At the end of 6 months Dad was near death and only weighed 98 pounds. I stayed away because I didn’t want to witness his suffering and agony. Because of this locked up fear of death, I still wouldn't admit that it was so close. Instead I became jealous and felt sorry for myself for not having my family with me and was angry because of the financial burden that Linda's trips created for us.
Dad died and I flew to Atlanta for the funeral. Seeing him lying there in the chapel made me realize how selfish I was. I was very angry at God for allowing this to happen. Instead of telling Dad how much I loved him and thanking him for raising the girl that was the influence of my entire life, I had become bitter.
I played the part of Mr. Cool and assured everyone that everything would be alright. Wearing this Mr. Cool-mask enabled me to make it through this difficult situation. I was able to bury my feelings even deeper than before.
We would like to share some actual letters that we have recently written to each other on the subject of death.
My Dearest Mike:
The subject of death has always been very hard for us to share on. When I think of my death, I reflect back to the time I was in the hospital after surgery. I remember all the people working on me. I was feeling so hopeless and sad that we wouldn't grow old together. I recall wondering how you would manage to raise our little 4 year old son and our baby girl. Sadness was my biggest feeling. Sad that being a family would end and that I would no longer be a part of yours and the children's lives, of missing birthdays, anniversaries, and family outings.
When I think of your death, I feel a tremendous lump in my throat and an ache in my heart. The void I feel is almost overwhelming. I feel so alone and fearful, like walking down a dark alley in a strange part of town late at night. How could I manage without you? We're always a team in everything we do, from doing the dinner dishes, to being a Marriage Encounter team couple. I feel resentful and angry.
But on the positive side, I'm reminded that each day is a new gift of life to us. It makes me want to grasp your life to me more strongly each day. To treasure more your arms of comfort, to memorize your tender glances and smiles and become more aware of just how precious you are to me.
I love you and need you so much and want to share all my life with you.
My letter to Linda was my first step to exposing my buried feelings. It reads as follows:
Thinking about death is a real struggle for me because it is easier to block it out of my mind. Death is so final. Sorrow and pain always accompany death. I've often thought about my death and how it might affect you and the kids. From the financial sense I'm confident my life insurance will take care of you, but I'm not sure how you would be affected psychologically. I know you would be lonely and sad but you would still have the kids to fill the void.
The reality of my death was close to me recently when I passed out on a public sidewalk. I can't ever remember losing consciousness before and it happened so suddenly. When I left the hospital that night and I knew that physically I would be alright, the fear I experienced impressed on my mind the fact that something could happen so quickly. Every day is now important and my priorities for my life are changing.
Thinking back I can remember the time that I thought you were going to die. As I stood in that hospital corridor and watched everyone frantically working to save you, I felt extremely frightened and lonely. The reality of not talking to you, sleeping with you, or just holding your hand was right before me. I felt helpless and frustrated that I couldn't protect you. The logical side of me thought about how I could ever raise the kids alone and fill your void but the emotional side recalled all the happy and joyous times and how much I loved you and didn't want you to leave me. What a battle that day was. I thank God that we’re here writing about it.
You know I always say that I can't relate to death but writing this letter to you makes me realize that death is inevitable and we can't predict when it might occur. Digging into my deepest feelings concerning death has helped me to see how selfish I've become in life. I appreciate each day and realize how much I need to share that fact.
I love you with everything that is within me and I will until death separates us.
When I read Mike's letter, I really understood those feelings that he expressed. It was like a dam broke and, though our dialogue was full of tears, we felt closer to one another than we had ever felt. We would like to point out that we don't have to dwell on death but, in order to grow as a couple, we need to grow in understanding on any subject where we may have difficulty sharing feelings. It may be scary at first, but remembering that we love each other and remembering that our feelings are not right or wrong, will definitely help.
Mike is my greatest love, my very best friend. Opening up to each other has made me feel a much deeper love and trust, and it’s enriched our relationship.
Now, June and Bill are going to give a presentation on "Holidays". They first gave this talk just before Thanksgiving. Growing in understanding has been a real challenge for them because June is in the military.
Yes, this is a subject that brings a lot of mixed feelings to me as we approach Thanksgiving and again face separation during our favorite season because of June’s deployment.
I relive the Christmases when we would get together with June's sister and her husband along with all the kids. Life in retrospect seemed so perfect. The house was full of love and joy and the sounds of playing children.
I think of the times June and I stayed up most of the night putting together our daughter's toys. I can see her expression as she toddled into the living room and saw all of the toys that, if by magic, were put there by Santa Claus.
One of my favorite Christmas memories is our first Christmas with our daughter. We spent so much time selecting her presents even though she was only eight months old. It was so exciting playing Santa Claus after all the years of being on the other side. Oh, how we laughed when she had nothing to do with her presents, but delighted in the wrapping paper and bows.
Now when holidays or birthdays come around, I feel that I'm violating June in some way if I enjoy the day. It's a feeling I cannot put into words easily. We have already been apart one Thanksgiving, Christmas and our daughter's 4th birthday. I thought this season would be easier; I'm very wrong.
I always have a hard time with the loneliness, especially around birthdays or the holiday season. I try to deal with it by totally immersing myself in our daughter during this time of year. I try to make things as perfect and as normal as possible for her. It feels like walking a tight rope. On one side I want June to be a big part of everything. On the other side I do not want to emphasize to our daughter the fact that Mommy is not here to share this with us.
It's hard to make the holidays full for the ones I love when I feel so empty inside. I still do not cope with this very well.
I used to take so much for granted but I have learned differently since my deployment. Joy fills my heart with the anticipation of the holidays. A new sense of hope and compassion flows down and reminds me of priorities and goals I am striving for to make me a better person. I am so thankful for my loving family, friends that are always there, good health, and the strength and understanding to make it through each day. Christmas is much more than presents and family get-togethers. It is a time to celebrate Christ.
I never really understood how important Christ's birthday is to me until last Christmas. It was my first Christmas away from my family. I thought I would never get through it. I even quit watching television because I couldn't stand seeing all the commercials.
After days of feeling sorry for myself, it finally hit me: Christ is the reason for Christmas. It's His birthday, not mine. Christ was with me and we could celebrate together. I had a reason to be happy and thankful. I believe Christ will always be first in my thoughts at Christmas, because I will never forget the Christmas He got me through and all the other days after.
When I get feeling sorry for myself, the Lord really starts to deal with me. Many things pop into my mind that I have to be thankful for. For starters, I have a beautiful and lovely wife whom I praise God for every day. We have a beautiful daughter whom we love and will continue to nurture. I look at the good that this deployment has produced. We don’t take each other for granted. We actually have a better marriage and a deeper and stronger love for each other. It puts everything in perspective.
The next Guide Couple will talk to you about Alcoholism. There are a lot of books on Alcoholism here in the Library, but Jeff and Monica will share with you from their life experience and how they were able to grow in understanding.
Jeff has the disease of alcoholism. I didn't know this when we first met. I didn't even know what alcoholism was. All Jeff drank was beer and I thought that was nice. I was glad he didn't drink hard liquor. I didn't even think anyone could get addicted to beer. However, Jeff's intake of beer grew rapidly to almost a case of beer a day. The beer can was the last thing he set down at night and the first thing he picked up in the morning. I knew we had a problem but I just didn't know what it was or what to do about it.
A dear friend of mine suggested I go with her to an Al Anon meeting. I started going to meetings two or three times a week and there I learned what alcoholism was. Alcoholism is a cruel disease that robbed Jeff and me of the greatest gift a married couple can have—being able to communicate openly and honestly with one another. As Jeff's disease progressed I watched him turn into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality. More and more he became someone I felt I hardly knew. When it came to the point that I actually feared him, I had to ask him to leave.
He left in a fury and went on a two-week drinking binge. One morning he called and asked me to please come and help him. He said he was very sick and in terrible pain. At first I thought it was just an excuse to get me over there, but he sounded so awful, I had to go and see. I thank God I did. He looked positively yellow. I called the doctor who happened to be a friend of ours. When I described Jeff's symptoms, he told me to bring Jeff to the emergency room right away and he would meet us there.
After an examination he told me Jeff was having an attack of pancreatis which is a disease of the pancreas caused by too much alcohol. He said if I had not brought Jeff in within three days he would have been dead. I was devastated at the thought of almost losing Jeff and I wanted so much to do something to help him. I had learned through Al Anon that only the alcoholic could help himself, first by admitting that he was an alcoholic, and then by asking for help. No one could do it for him.
The only way I could help was by being strong enough not to try to help, but instead to just "let go and let God" take over. It's called the "Tough Love" concept. It's so hard to be tough when you love someone so much and he is hurting, but I knew what I had learned was right.
So I saw to it that Jeff was safely in his hospital room. Then I left.
When Monica left the hospital that day, along with being very sick, I had feelings of being abandoned and lonely. I felt very hurt and I asked myself: "How could she just walk away like that if she truly loves me? She must not care anymore." This was a very bad time for me. Our friend the doctor had a talk with me and said that I might die this time. (There had been many other episodes of pancreatis, each one worse than the previous bout.)
When I left that day, the doctor told me they were going to have to use a stomach pump to get the poison out of Jeff's system. Jeff had been through this once before and I knew he was scared to death they were going to do that. I wanted so much to stay with him and hold him and help him through it, but I knew what I had to do.
When they came in with the stomach pump, I told Jeff I was leaving and I walked out. I could hear him calling me as I walked down the hall. He was yelling "Monica, don't leave me!", but I just kept walking -- even faster so I wouldn't turn around. I remember it so vividly because it hurt so much to hear him calling for me and to know I could not go to him.
I immediately called the psychologist Jeff and I had been seeing. She told me to come right over so I did, to prevent myself from going back up to Jeff.
I called the next day to see how he was doing and he asked me to bring him some reading material. I brought him one book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
I had asked Monica for reading material and she brought me the Big Book of A.A. I was not amused at all. In fact I felt insulted. Me a drunk? I felt terrible. A few days later the doctor asked me if I thought I had a drinking problem. My answer was, "Now how can I have a drinking problem when I drink with you?" The fact was that I might meet him for dinner, say at 8 o'clock, and have a few drinks, have dinner and he would go home. I would continue to drink and drink.
When I brought Jeff the book, the stomach pump was still in him and stayed there for five days. I visited each day but only for a short time, always having an excuse that I was on my way to some place and could only stay a little while. I never stayed longer than a half hour.
One time was on St. Patrick's Day. I came very dressed up and told him I was on my way to the city to meet some girl friends to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. He was furious. He had expected me to be sitting by his bedside every day and night which is just what I would have been doing if it were not for the Al Anon training.
I explained to him that my position had not changed, that unless he quit drinking our relationship was over. I reminded him to read the AA book I had brought him and perhaps call them if he really wanted our relationship to be restored. He accused me of being heartless for treating him that way and said that he didn't believe I really cared about him. I said, "I know you don't understand now, but someday, if you'll call AA and get well, you'll realize then that I am the best friend you have ever had because I am being hard now." I left and, praise God, three days later Jeff called AA and asked for help.
I did call AA and was asked if I would like to have someone stop by and visit me. I said “yes”. I had finally admitted that my drinking was out of control. I began attending AA meetings, many of them with Monica, and we began together to understand this problem I have, alcoholism.
As soon as Jeff was out of the hospital he began attending meetings regularly with his sponsor and quite often I would go along. When he had been sober three months I became pregnant. We had been trying for a baby for three years, but I never got pregnant. The doctor believed it was because of all the alcohol constantly in Jeff's system that I didn't get pregnant before. I believe that was just God's perfect timing.
Jeff now does believe that I was and still am his best friend and he understands now that I had to be tough then and do what seemed to be so heartless at the time.
With me sober, Monica and I can know ourselves as we really are. We are able to communicate -- something we couldn't do before. With the help of Marriage Encounter, I value our ability to communicate and vow not to let anything interfere with that ability. I know that by being open and honest we can work out whatever problems may come, and grow tremendously together.
There is one last topic that will be covered here in the Library by one of our Guide Couples. Then you will be given a full list of subjects to check over, and start your PR. The subject of Relocating will now be shared by Ronald and Shelly.
Recently we dialogued about the possibility of relocating from New Jersey to Jamaica. Ronald's parents are well advanced in age and need someone to be with them. Although there are other siblings in the family, I thought we were best suited for taking care of them. We have no children and no compelling reason to stay in New Jersey, whereas the other brothers and sisters have jobs and families in NJ.
Besides, I grew up in a warm climate and began to think how great it would be to live in Jamaica where the weather is everything I want. I’m tired of our cold winters, and dream of walking on the beach. So I began to formulate some plans and Ronald listened.
I know she loves the sunshine and salt water, and so do I. And I wanted her to be happy. The climate would be great at first, but eventually even that would grow old.
The problem of relocating has long been an issue for me and Shelly. It had been possible for us to move to Jamaica and live comfortably before our business failure. However, since then we have been left penniless and without resources. For us to move now would only be possible by living with and caring for my parents.
I was proud of Shelly that she was willing to help my parents. She has a big heart, and I know she would love my parents as much as I do. However, deep inside I ached at the idea of having her do this. I was afraid Shelly was minimizing the adjustment she would have to make, especially with the language barrier.
I listened to Ronald and I knew he was thinking of me, but deep down, I really wanted to go to Jamaica. I was embarrassed over losing our business, and had feelings that we were looked down upon in our community. I wanted to relocate where we didn’t know so many people. I prayed to God to help us make the right decision. I was sure it would be the right thing to do. I wanted to help Ronald’s parents and be loved as their daughter.
I don’t mind caring for two older people, but I don’t speak their language, and his parents do live far from the city, so I couldn't get a job as a dental assistant. I couldn't even watch TV. The more I compared Jamaica to New Jersey, the less points I was making for the move.
Should we relocate to Jamaica I will have to find employment and that will keep me away from Shelly most of the day. She would virtually be stuck at my parent’s home. This is a great responsibility for any person. Add to that the language barrier, no means of commuting or communicating and, in my opinion, I felt I'd only be imprisoning her.
So we considered all the possibilities, which meant placing my parent’s necessities in one basket and placing Shelly's happiness and needs in another, along with my obligations and responsibilities as a husband. We concluded that the wisest thing to do was to go to Jamaica for a visit, and examine all the obstacles which may confront us and then discuss the alternatives. This way all the ghosts which may haunt us in the future will be laid to rest.
It seemed that even after understanding each other, it was hard to make a decision. I think that because we did reach out to understand each other, we were able to find a new way to resolve our differences. With the trip to Jamaica we will gather the information we need to make the right decision. With God’s help we will do the right thing.
We all have certain topics in our relationship that we avoid discussing, or we haven’t had the time or atmosphere to talk it through. Now is that opportunity. Please take it seriously.
Make two copies of the handout, “Subjects for Understanding” so you each have one. Each of you check those topics on which you think your feelings are least understood by your spouse. Also check topics you think your spouse would like to discuss.
Look over those you’ve checked and rank them according to urgency. Write your PR love letter on the topics you’ve checked, starting with the ones you ranked most important.
When you come together for CD, first read your spouse’s entire love letter for understanding. Then read topics you have both written on, one at a time, and do your CD before going onto the others.
You can allow 30 minutes for PR, 35-45 minutes for CD
Go in peace and write with love!
Subjects for Understanding Handout and Questions
When you’re finished with your PR and CD, why not take a little break, maybe get a refreshing drink. The weather’s nice, so we’re going to take you out to the Rose Garden where Bob and Pat will share with you on the Parable of the Sower.
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