Ginger’s Soapbox: Marriage

ringsKudos to the U.S. Supreme Court for getting it right:  people who love one another and want to enter into a marital commitment should be allowed to do so.  I’ve actually been surprised at some who have expressed dismay with this decision.  People who have often presented themselves as loving, tolerant and accepting have shown that they certainly are not.

The government got into the marriage business a long time ago.  I understand the argument that the government shouldn’t be involved.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be necessary if couples could end marriages without needing a judge to make decisions for them.

The opposition to same-sex marriage is generally attributed to religious views.  It’s important to remember that the court shouldn’t legislate religious views.  But those who are opposed to same sex marriage want the court to endorse their views.

Marriage is a civil arrangement.  It’s a legal contract.  For the more spiritual, it’s also a way of committing to their faith through a romantic and familial union.  That’s wonderful for those who make that choice.  I wouldn’t try to take that away from those couples.

It troubles me that the most religious are the most opposed to same sex unions.  One would think that those with great faith would be the most tolerant, loving and accepting of others.  Apparently that attitude applies only to those whose views and lifestyles are akin to theirs.

The majority decision said it best:  No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

There are lots of arguments against same-sex marriage.  None make much sense.  Some surround the issue of procreation. Those who think marriage is only about having children are shortchanging themselves.

Proponents of same-sex marriage cross religious, cultural and political boundaries.  I know a conservative Republican who wants his gay son to be able to marry to person he loves, a conservative Jewish man (also a Republican) who is married to a man, and a devout Pentecostal (a former Republican) who has been out of the closet more than decade.  I won’t even go into the Biblical references to same-sex couples.

The bottom line is this:  as someone who has been married twice and who is currently in a long-term relationship but chooses not to be married, I admire those who want to make the commitment to marriage so badly that they fought a decades-long court battle to win the right to marry the one they love.

Let’s be loving, accepting and tolerant of our friends, relatives and neighbors who want their commitment to be recognized as just as important as everyone else’s.

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Isn’t it ironic? Or is it?

©wine-searcher.com
©wine-searcher.com

The name of this blog is Killing Spiders because its original intent was to focus on content of interest to single women over 40.  Single women, I mused, have to kill spiders themselves because they don’t have a partner to do the deed.

Readers could construe this as sexist — why can’t a woman kill a spider?  Why is it the man’s job to kill spiders?  What about same-sex relationships, who is supposed to kill the spider?

Since starting this blog in 2013, I have become part of a couple.  Legally, I’m single, but I live with my significant other in a committed relationship.  One would think that I no longer have to kill my own spiders.  After all, I have this man who cleans my garage and fixes my plumbing.  Isn’t he doing pest control, too?

Think again.

I live with a guy who WON’T KILL SPIDERS!  Or snakes, either.  But we don’t have any of those crawling around the house (hopefully).

My Honey is an environmental conservationist.  He loves animals and respects the world’s ecosystem.  His undergraduate degree is in Biology.  He won’t kill a spider, or most any bug, except mosquitoes and cockroaches.

His creature-respecting side is one of the things I love about him.  My cat, Nala, likes him better than she likes me.  While I find it sweet and touching that he is angered and saddened when a careless motorist hits a fox on the highway, I’m a bit annoyed by the “no dead spiders” rule.  I have to surreptitiously squish the creepy arachnids when he’s not looking.  I’ve flushed a few when he isn’t home.  But the other day, when he carefully trapped a spider in a plastic cup and asked me to set it free in the back yard, I grudgingly did as he asked.  After all, he goes along with some of my whacky habits, too.

One could say the fact that I fell in love with a spider protector is ironic.  What do you think?

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The definition of irony.

 

Those of us of a certain age remember the Alanis Morisette song “Ironic,” which was in frequent rotation on radio stations in the mid-1990’s.  The ironic thing about the song is that none of the situations of which she croons are ironies.  The lyrics have been analyzed for appropriate use of the literary device, and guess what? No irony!

Most of you are probably thinking, ‘OK, no big deal.  This chick has to kill her own spiders.  So what?’ Or, ‘why the hell is she going on about irony?’  Well, I’m a writer and irony is one of my favorite devices.

Wait, there’s more!

A couple of weeks ago I woke up one morning with a large — and when I say large I mean GIANT — red, bruising mark on my calf just under the bend of my knee.  My thoughts immediately went to the worst possible cause of such a wound — blood clot.

My wound a week after it appeared.
My wound a week after it appeared.

After an Urgent Care visit, a trip to my primary care physician and a vascular imaging study, my family doctor’s initial diagnosis stands:  spider bite!  I’m still taking some high test antibiotics and the wound continues to be swollen and discolored.

I went home from my second doctor visit and told my Sweetie what the doc had said:  it’s probably a spider bite.  She told me three times to check the bed for spiders.  I thought this silly, as I had just changed the sheets.

“Oh, there was a spider on the bed a few days ago,” my spider lover said.

I squealed: “WHAAAAAAAT???? Where was I? Did you KILL it?!”

“You were asleep.  I flicked it off onto the floor,” was the answer I received.

EEEEEKKKKKKK!

So what do you think?  Is it ironic?

 

Does every woman want a Lloyd Dobler?

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Those of us – especially women – of a certain age remember Lloyd Dobler, John Cusack’s character in the 1980’s movie Say Anything.  A famous scene from the movie places Lloyd outside his romantic interest’s bedroom window, boom box held high above his head, blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”

The movie came to mind recently when my own boyfriend told me that a young male friend of his had called him because his longtime live-in girlfriend had left him.  For context, this young man is 30-ish, and he’s calling upon his older professional mentor for advice.

The young couple, both in the military, had been geographically separated for a couple of months because the woman was away for training.  After she had been gone a month or so, she asked her boyfriend to come visit her on a three-day weekend.  He told her he couldn’t come because he had invited friends over to celebrate the holiday – which happened to be Mardi Gras, and they live in New Orleans.  She is on the West Coast for her class.

My boyfriend, a seasoned and sexy 52-year-old man, did what any man would do in such a situation.  He turned to me, “What should I tell him?”

“Tell him to get on a damn plane, pronto,” was my answer.

We all know that Lloyd Dobler got on the plane.

What does the fact he didn’t get on the plane say to me?  That he’s not all that into her.  She did the right thing, as heartbreaking as it must have been.  Perhaps she even found someone else, someone who IS into her…someone who would get on the plane.

She had been gone a month, and there was a three-day weekend – which also included Valentine’s Day, along with President’s Day, followed by the famous Fat Tuesday.

It appears as if she suggested that he fly out to see her on short notice.  What I suspect is that she had been patiently waiting for him to suggest they get together on the three-day weekend that coincided with Valentine’s Day.  When he didn’t make the gesture, she invited him to visit her.  He took a pass.

His obligation to his friends was more important than seeing her, when she had been gone a month.  There is really no way to undo that.  A truckload of flowers, maybe.  I suggested that he get on the next plane and beg forgiveness.  My sweetie pointed out that this dude doesn’t have that kind of money – that buying a last-minute plane ticket to the West Coast would be pricey.

If she – and the relationship – were really that important to him, he would have told his friends that something suddenly came up; he would have dipped into savings or run up his credit card and hopped the next plane to the West Coast.  After all, he’s asked her to marry him.  She’s supposedly the love of his life.   Isn’t she worth it?

In love, actions speak louder than words.  A relationship counselor I know says you should pay attention to your partner’s actions rather than their words.  They may say they love you and you are a priority, but do they show it, every day, in their deeds?

Grand romantic gestures don’t have to be expensive, like buying a last-minute plane ticket to a far-away city.  I know a man who once had a cop buddy pull his girlfriend over on her way to work and deliver a bouquet of flowers.  I know another man who quit his job and moved hundreds of miles two weeks after meeting his wife, whom he married a few weeks later.  Another guy I know, a very frugal gentleman, spent $10,000 on his wife’s engagement ring.  Yes, he could afford it, but this is the same guy who never bought himself a new car.  The fact he spent big bucks on her that he wouldn’t spend on himself meant something.

I’ve made some grand gestures, myself.  I’ve driven hundreds of miles and rented a pricey hotel room to be near my boyfriend so that we could see one another while he was traveling for work.  I once flew to Newark, NJ on my lover’s birthday to have dinner and spend a (very short) night before getting back on a plane and flying home for a work meeting.  I’ve driven three hours in sleet and snow at night to spend time with the object of my affection, only to get up early the next day for a three-hour commute to my office – and then did it all again the next day.  I’ve surprised my man at the airport when he returned from a business trip, recruiting a friend to drive me an hour to the airport, so that we would have an extra hour in the car on the way home.

Over the years, I’ve also been the recipient of grand romantic gestures.  I have gotten off of planes to be greeted by flowers and large signs proclaiming love.  One guy I had gone out with once – and wasn’t interested in – got off a plane from a business trip (to the West Coast, no less) and drove straight to my office to see me.  Colleagues wondered why this didn’t win me over.

The answer is:  I wasn’t that into him.

The romantic gestures – big or small – are a reflection of one’s level of interest in their partner.  Making an effort, being thoughtful, demonstrating that they are worth it—those are the things that really matter.

I don’t know the young woman on the West Coast, but I definitely know how she feels.  She feels like her boyfriend thinks she’s not worth the effort.  What she did had to be painful, but it was courageous.  She got out before it was too late (in the interest of full disclosure, I’m told she had done a couple of things to indicate she wasn’t that into him, either – but who knows why?).

The bottom line: if he wouldn’t make the effort now, would he do it after they had been together a few years? After children came along?  I don’t think so.

Let’s not write this off as typical male thoughtlessness.  Men will go to a LOT of trouble for a woman they really want and love.  Sadly, she’s not it for him.  One day he will find a woman for whom he will get on the plane.  And this young woman will find a man who thinks she’s worth getting on the plane for.

We all know how Say Anything turned out.  Lloyd Dobler was the geeky weirdo who got the hot chick because he made her feel like the only woman in the world.   He put aside his pride, let his emotions rule, and stood outside that window with the boom box blasting a really stupid, sappy song.

Then he got on the plane.

Never say never again

never never landNever say never.

I used to hear that a lot from someone who used to be in my life. The line was used to dangle possibilities that would never become realities.

There are a lot of things I said I would never do, especially in the context of relationships.  Jaded, skeptical and wounded, I had a laundry list of things I said I wouldn’t do to accommodate potential love.

That was then and this is now.  I would say my dog ate the list, but I don’t have a dog.  I’m eating the words – and being reminded of advice I gave others – on a daily basis.  That’s OK—it’s good to remember what lack of hope feels like.

Some people say that you don’t know what you lost until it’s gone.  I’ve learned that I didn’t know what I was missing until I found it.

As a single, unattached female I had a good life.  Good job.  Nice home.  Fantastic friends who are my family.   I was enjoying life and not troubled by the fact that I wasn’t in a long-term relationship.  For me, relationships with men aren’t about finding someone who meets a list of criteria.  It’s about finding someone with whom I have that inexplicable feeling: part chemistry, part intuition, part emotional and intellectual attraction.  I simply call it “IT.”  Despite joining online dating where magical computers are supposed to crunch the data and churn out The One for me, I wasn’t finding “IT.”

I’ve always believed that your life can change in a single moment that otherwise would be unremarkable.  I’m not talking about those huge, tragic moments – like being struck by lightning or having a horrific accident.  I mean those ordinary moments where a seemingly insignificant decision changes your life.

For me, it was in a crowded room packed with hundreds of people.  I noticed an attractive man that I had never seen in this establishment before.  And I did something I said I would never do:  I sent him a drink.  Everyone who has read The Rules or He’s Just Not That Into You believes this is a bad idea. But my filters were clogged and I was being encouraged by a friend.  After what seems like hours and drinks were exchanged, I needed to head to the ladies’ room.  En route, he stopped me to talk.

In that instant, I knew.  This could be “IT.”

Fast forward a mere 107 days.  I wake up every morning feeling extremely lucky.  And very thankful I broke one of my rules.

Since then a lot of my “nevers” have gone out the window.  We spend every available moment together.  Social activities with friends and family, grocery shopping, bike riding, reading, watching TV…we do most things as a team.  We like it that way.  Early on we had the conversation about how much “alone time” we each need.  Ironically, both of us feel like we were alone for a long time and we like the companionship.

We’ve begun our relationship with the assumption that it will last indefinitely.  How can you begin a relationship thinking it won’t work?  We both know what we want in a relationship and we both want the same thing.  That’s key.  There isn’t that imbalance of one partner wanting more (or less).  We have a lot in common but also some stark differences. We balance one another and make one another better.

We know we are lucky.  Some people never find what we have.  We also are savoring the moments together, because we know we won’t always have them.  I met him during the period after he retired from a first career and before he embarks on his second.  He will soon begin a challenging job with a lot of travel and we won’t have this opportunity to spend so much time together.

It’s not been without some significant adjustments.  Bringing a partner into a close-knit group of friends who are like a family hasn’t been without struggle, and even a bit of unfortunate drama.  Personalities clash.  Cultures collide.  Feelings are hurt.  It’s a lot like stuffing four women who don’t know one another into a tiny cruise ship cabin for a weekend (I’ve done that, too).

People feel slighted, ignored.  Highly social, I was always available for everyone whenever they needed me – whether for partying or a shoulder to cry on, I was there.  I was the “wing woman” for other single female friends.  I was a drinking buddy for platonic male friends.

Now I’m joined at the hip with a virtual stranger.  The others aren’t getting their “Ginger time,” and it’s a challenge.  But they had me to themselves – and I had them – for a long time.  It’s his turn to have some of my undivided attention.  And my turn to finally be loved the way I need to be loved.   I’m incredibly happy and for the first time in many years I feel valued by someone who wants to share my life.

Those who genuinely care about me understand and tolerate this guy they aren’t so sure about.  They accept that I AM sure about him.  I know it’s not always so easy.  If I turn out to be wrong, I will be better for the experience.  It’s certainly been worth it so far.

In the end, we are all adults and we will adjust.  After my partner and I return from a month in Europe, he will go back to the workforce and reality will be injected into the fairytale.  I will have plenty of time on my hands to share with all of those people who are missing me.

Will we live happily ever after?  Stay tuned.

But I’ll never say never again.

A woman’s view of being single in 2013

A friend recently sent me a link to a wonderfully funny and insightful blog post titled Being Single in 2013. While I was entertained, the post also caused me to reflect on this whole business of being single.  This is my response to his witty post with a few of my own thoughts sprinkled in…although I’m not nearly as funny.

Calling vs. Texting

My mama beat the words “girls should never call boys” into my skull on a regular basis.  This caused me to spend at least two decades sitting by the phone.  I didn’t leave the house until cell phones were invented.  I respectfully disagree with Mr. McMurran’s statement that women love to text.

Sure, texting is convenient and doesn’t make much noise. It’s helpful while in meetings or if you need quick info that doesn’t require a phone call.  But if you want to get to know me and let me know you are truly interested, pick up the phone and dial!

I went out on a date with a man who doesn’t text.  At all.  Ever.  He’s very proud of it and a bit critical of those of us who are smart phone addicts.  I turned my iPhone on Do Not Disturb and put it in my purse for the duration of the date.  To my surprise, I didn’t suffer any ill-effects from technology withdrawal.

Did this man pick up the phone and call me to ask me out? No!  He sent me a message on Facebook.  So much for eschewing technology.  To his credit, he first mentioned it in person at a group gathering (I call that “testing the waters” or “sending out a trial balloon”).  And while he didn’t ask for my phone number at the time, it’s easily accessible since we belong to the same group.  He had no excuse for not dialing.

He did ask me for my number in that initial Facebook message. Has he called me? No.  But I got another Facebook message relatively promptly post-date. Maybe he was paying attention.

I recently received a phone call from a man I met nearly a year ago but hadn’t heard from in months.  What did he want? He wanted to know if he could call me sometime. That made me scratch my head and look quizzically at my phone.

Frequency of communication

The line between showing affection and stalking is a thin one.  Waking up to a good morning text makes me smile.  Seeing a goodnight text on my phone, or talking to a special someone before going to sleep, will give me very pleasant dreams.

A text every hour for no reason? Not so much.  Especially if he sends a text to follow-up on why I didn’t answer the last text.  Men also get mad if you don’t text back timely – so don’t say women are being sensitive.  Feeling rejected is an equal opportunity emotion.

I’m also confused about when or how often to text, so men aren’t alone in that department.  Bottom line:  if I’m dating someone regularly and exclusively, I expect to hear from them every day.  Why would I put all of my eggs in a basket that only calls me when it wants to play?

I have occasionally broken the “don’t call boys” rule.  But if he’s not calling me on a regular basis, I’m not calling him.  No chasing guys that don’t want to be caught — there are plenty who DO want to be caught.  They jump right out of the water without me having to bait a hook.

Social media

To friend or not to friend, that is the question.   As a public relations practitioner, I understand the metrics associated with social media.  Likes and shares are good things — they show that your audience is engaged (not in the romantic sense), fond of your brand and paying attention. Isn’t that what we want in a potential romantic partner?

If a guy is offended by posts or photos that indicate I’m out with someone else, he needs to remember he would be there (literally, or by asking for a commitment) if he really wanted to protect his territory.  If he doesn’t want me to date other people, he should just say so!

Social media and online dating have made it easier for shy people to date.  People will write an email when they don’t have the guts to call you up.  Recently, a really nice guy emailed me on Facebook to tell me how much he adored me but never had the guts to tell me..  I appreciated the gesture, even though I’m not interested in dating him.

Recognizing this effort took a lot of courage, I thanked him profusely and told him how much I appreciated it and was sincerely flattered.  Right before I told a fib and said I’m in a relationship*. He graciously accepted defeat — and didn’t unfriend me.  I’ve been unfriended by men because I rejected them.  Fine, who needs friends who can’t take no for an answer?

Relationship status

I have a relative who changes her relationship status on Facebook with some regularity.  On any given day she could be engaged, in a complicated relationship, in an open relationship or  married.    I know a guy who announced his divorce by changing his relationship status on Facebook from “Married” to “Separated.”   When I separated from my husband I hid my relationship status on my page.  I eventually changed it to “Single,” but I keep it hidden.  If people want to know, they can ask.*

If I were in a mutually exclusive relationship with someone and he asked me to change my relationship status* to “In a relationship” and make it public so that people would know I’m off-limits, of course I would.  If he wanted to link our pages so that it says, “in a relationship with….” I would do that, too.  But if he doesn’t want to do that, I wouldn’t cry and think he doesn’t love me.

It’s the real connection that counts.  Isn’t that what all this dating stuff is about?

*Since this blog post was written, I’ve entered an exclusive, committed relationship and changed my relationship status on Facebook at the request of my beloved.

Do I look like I need a handyman?

nutcrackers

Aside from killing spiders (or chasing snakes), I prefer to do my own home improvements and other chores.  Sure, it’s wonderful when people offer to help, and I sometimes will take you up on it.  Especially from tall friends who aren’t afraid of heights when I want to place Christmas decorations on that ledge in my living room that’s 20 feet off the floor.

 

Recently I assembled a kitchen island.  It took quite a while — three Cary Grant movies. When I was finished, I had one injury and a satisfied feeling of accomplishment.

kitchen island

I actually would have been finished sooner if it weren’t for the plentiful offers of assistance from male friends.  That’s what I get from posting on Facebook that I was assembling furniture.  It really wasn’t a cryptic call for help.  I know how to dial (or text).  I just thought it was more interesting than what I ate for breakfast.

While I appreciated the offers of assistance — at least one of those who offered is an engineer — I didn’t want that.  Also, in the interest of full disclosure, one was from my roommate.  The comments I’m about to make don’t apply to him.

Soon after becoming single again, I learned that a shy guy’s way of flirting is to offer to fix stuff.  When I was dating my ex-husband (before he was my husband), he showed up at my house with a tool box on a regular basis.  I’m not falling for that trick again!

I thanked everyone politely but said I could handle it myself.  What I really wanted to say is this:  “If you are trying to get into my pants, you’re going about it the wrong way.  I don’t need a guy to assemble a kitchen island for me.  I need a guy to take me to a movie.  Or dinner. Or for a drink.  Or a walk.”

But I didn’t say that.  For the record, at least one of them (the engineer, no less) has taken me to dinner and drinks.  He’s also offered walks, hikes, trips to tourist attractions and all manner of other date-ish activities. He also has offered to fix my toilet.

I’ve declined all offers of dates and home improvements because I’m not interested in dating him.  He knows this.  But he still texts me every couple of days to see how I’m doing.  I have determined he’s just a nice guy.  Or maybe he thinks he will catch me in a weak moment of gratitude after he’s installed 1,000 square feet of flooring.  Nope.  It’s not happening.  I’m not going to lead him on by letting him assemble my furniture.

Some women like it when men do things for them.  If a guy isn’t fixing something, cleaning something or cooking something, they aren’t quality prospects for them.  Not me.  I don’t want a guy wasting time by  fixing something or cleaning when he could be spending quality time with me.  Cooking is another story…unless he is doing it because he is cheap.

This doesn’t apply to my roommate or other men who are friends and not “romantic prospects.”  If you’re a guy friend, I might ask you to help me fix the toilet.  And even a potential romantic partner might get roped into killing a spider if he’s around when one emerges from the web.

After you reach “relationship” stage and are spending every waking minute together, it’s different.  Things need to be fixed, cleaned and cooked.  Errands need to be accomplished.  Bills paid.  Sure, it’s more fun to do that together sometimes.

But unless they’re sleeping in my bed at least four nights a week,* hands off the power tools!

*Since this post was written, I started sharing my home with my domestic partner who regularly fixes things.  Sometimes I even help.