Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

My parents have been married fifty-two years today. I always remember their anniversary years because they were married one year when I was born. That may not sound like much…but as I grow older, that’s pretty important to me!

M&M anniversary

What makes a couple commit to fifty-two years of marriage? Let’s set aside the number of years and make it seventy-five, thirty or maybe five. Usually by the time you’ve been married even five years, you know that person fairly well. As the years add up, that knowledge grows…and you still make a commitment to share your life with that person.

This is NOT a post to judge others that don’t make it to many, many years of marriage. Each person has to evaluate their own life and decide what roads they need to take. This post is more about thoughts on why couples DO stay married. And it is different for every marriage.

My book, To Thee I’m Wed, (available on Amazon for $9.99, :)) deals with this topic. Many couples would have decided to go their separate ways under the circumstances that Jason and Kathy Miller faced. But they remained in their marriage. It doesn’t make them better people, just the decision they made.

If you’ve been married more than one year, you know marriage is NOT a ‘bed of roses’, a ‘walk in the park’, or ‘easy peasey’ as we used to say as children. You have days and months that go well and you really love that person you made a commitment to…that may go on for even a year or so. Then…you have hours, days, months and hopefully not too many years when you really don’t feel much love and sometimes don’t even like that person. But you stay committed.

In this day and age, when you don’t want to stay with a phone plan for more than a few months before a better offer comes along, marriage has taken a hit. Years ago, you were married young and you stuck it out. That was your spouse until one of you left this earth. Not so much anymore.

That’s what sparked my interest even more on why a couple decide to stay together in this era when there is always a better phone plan. Because let’s face it, that other person has their less-than-perfect attributes. Sometimes the ‘lovey-dovey’ feelings don’t look past the mud on the floor or the bucket-load of dirty laundry. Think about what makes you stay committed. Are you in it for the ‘long-haul’ or is Verizon calling?

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary, to my dear husband! Yes, it’s been 31 years today.October 20, 1984; George & Deborah Dykeman with Grandma McMillen & Auntie This picture shows my new husband and me after the wedding with my maternal grandmother and her sister, my great-aunt. Both have gone on to be with the Lord now. My grandmother was not able to make it to the wedding because of health issues, so we went upstairs to her room and had this picture taken. Both of these dear women are greatly missed in my life.

October 20, 1984 dawned bright and beautiful in upstate New York. The leaves were  hanging in there and some color was still visible. That day reached a high of 80 degrees, which is rather unusual for that area in the Catskill mountains. I had wanted a candlelight ceremony which was gorgeous and very special, but it also meant I had to wait the ENTIRE day to see my soon-to-be husband. I cautioned my three daughters on that very thing when they were planning their weddings. (Must have been the reason we had two early morning weddings!)

I remember I didn’t sleep much the night before and stayed up late washing my clothes to take with me and ironing them. The next day I couldn’t eat much and spent my time doing my nails, putting Nair on my face for that pesky, peach fuzz. That resulted in big, red splotches of color between my brows and on my upper lip. So of course I cautioned my daughters to not do that as well! It’s amazing what foundation can do! I had a flawless complexion by 5:30, the time of the ceremony. But…

My grandmother was staying with us, my mother caring for her in our home at the time. In the process of helping her in the bathroom, the toilet tank was broken. My grandmother’s room was above the living room. The reception was to be at the house. My mother had placed dishes of mints artistically around the room. You guessed it, the water, several gallons of it leaked through the ceiling and into the living room. Those mints were really pretty floating in their little dishes. So, my father, father of the bride, made a trip to town to purchase a toilet tank and spent the afternoon repairing the damage done.

Yes, we made it to the wedding on time, rinsed mints and all. (Yes, my father actually suggested this to my mother. But they were thrown out.) The sun was starting its descent, the last rays glowing brilliantly when the two doors were opened and my father and I walked into that little, white church in that New England town. There stood my future husband, tall and handsome at the front of the church. Thus began our years together.

I know celebrating 31 years is about ALL the years you have shared as a couple. I do remember and rejoice in those years as well. But my mind always goes back to that day in October, how young we were, how thin we were, how full of expectation and happiness for our future together. And that’s the way it should be. I love to think back on that day, all those emotions and relive them again. I pray I am able to do that until I am gone from this world. I keep our wedding pictures placed around our house…to remember where we started. To share that day with our children and now grandchildren…those people that God knew would share our lives someday but we were unaware of at the time.

Happy Anniversary, dear husband. Thank you for sharing the past 31 years with me, not always by my side, but in my soul and part of me. I look forward to many more. And you know what? It really does just keep getting better and better!

edited for facebook

The wife I want to be when I grow up…

CinderellaIt may start out with Cinderella. A little girl wants to wear the frilly, flowing gown and the sparkly, glass slippers. And, “Oh yeah, I need a Prince to go with that pretty dress!” The husband of her dreams is actually an accessory.

Summer SceneI moved on to the cottage perched daintily in a grassy meadow, pink flowers sprinkled here and there, a rose covered white picket fence guarding the little house. I would have lots and lots of children skipping through the meadow, laughing and playing together in utter enjoyment of one another’s company. I don’t know where they all slept in that tiny house, but dreams don’t make sense a lot of the time. A husband and father…he was around…somewhere.

As I grew older, I thought more about the kind of husband I actually wanted to be married to. Of course he would have to be handsome and love me immensely. Yes, I would love him and I still wanted the little cottage and a couple of children. They would still frolic in the meadow, loving one another and never arguing. I don’t know why I thought this, I grew up the oldest of four. But again, dreams seldom make sense.

Thankfully, by the time I was old enough to marry I was thinking more about the attributes of a husband. I wanted him to be patient and kind, hard-working and willing to support a family. (Remember, I was down to two children by this time, not a tough job.) I wanted him to love the Lord as I did and live his life for Him. Of course I still hoped he would be handsome and funny and love me forever. I still wanted the rose covered picket fence and adorable house.

And what kind of wife was I going to be? I knew I could cook and clean and again, I was the oldest of four and had babysat…A LOT before I married. I could do all the everyday tasks of general survival and I was and am still pretty good at them. But what kind of wife am I?

Do I lift my husband up in prayer each day? Do I support him in his endeavors as he always has mine? Do I give him a smile even when I don’t wish to, a stroke of his back when I know he’s down? Do I prepare a special meal for him just because he means so much to me and I want to show him I care…even when my day has been lousy? Do I love him and stick with him even when there are times when I want to run from all the responsibilities of being a wife and mother?

Honestly…I can answer ‘no’ to each question above.

The wife I want to be when I grow up…is no longer a dream. I can make it my reality, my life. Not through my own strength, but God is there, showing me the way. The wife I want to be is loving and kind. Giving that pat and smile even when I don’t ‘feel’ like it. Being by my husband’s side even when I want to run. There is no honor or beauty in ‘having our own way’ or expressing our ‘rights’.

I am fortunate and blessed. My husband shows me daily how to be loving and kind. He always has been there for me, even when I haven’t deserved it or earned it. No, it’s not a special day for us…not an anniversary of any kind. But it is another day we have to be together and share our lives. God has blessed us abundantly over the past 30 years. And He is still working on me to become the wife I want to be when I grow up.

I pray the same for you.

Just Because…

I don’t think many men would relate to this or understand. I know my husband definitely doesn’t. And that’s okay. God made him different than me and I am so very thankful for that! Being married for 30+ years has had its ups and downs, but I can say with assurance that it has been a learning experience. That’s a good thing. If you’ve been around for any length of time…you should have learned something along the way. If nothing else…don’t repeat that again!

Back to what I started to write. I think women just have the need to COMMUNICATE. It doesn’t have to be important. If it’s not important they can make it so. Women in general, in my opinion need to have that verbal interplay. My husband doesn’t really have that need. He will talk when asked a question, he will have a conversation. But he is probably just as content to not have it. I have conversations…Just Because!

Because the sun is shining and I want to rejoice in that, the clouds are growing dreary and heavy and I want to commiserate. My child has done something I’m pleased with or frustrated about. The washing machine marched across the room again with a full load of jeans and by the way, “Did I tell you? Oh… I did.” My children probably want that one engraved on my headstone! I’m sorry, with five children I tend to forget which one I told what story to. Just Because…

This isn’t a new idea. Women have been getting together for centuries. Quilting, births, meals for various activities like weddings and funerals were always a time for women to get together and share their life. Talking to other women, sharing child care, observing older women in their lives as wives and mothers was a way to be encouraged and instructed. We have lost much of that in our modern times. Everyone is in such a rush that it’s hard to find the time to talk…Just Because.

A Wedding…Buttercream or Fondant?

IMG_2475 IMG_0722I’ve decorated a few cakes in my day. I took the Wilton cake decorating course when I was 18. Believe me, when the course was over I don’t think my family or prayer meeting group wanted to see another cake from me again! We even left half a cake along side a road in Arizona. (And no, we just left the cake, no box or cardboard to litter.) I had made it for my grandparent’s anniversary. After the celebration, the rest of the cake was with us. All those buttercream red roses took on a smell all their own and none of us could stand it anymore. So, we set it beside the road. I hope no unsuspecting desert animal became sick from that one!

So, I made cakes. Birthday cakes usually, a few anniversaries here and there, one wedding cake…which I don’t want to do again! I even entered one in our local fair. But that’s another story. I made cakes when I didn’t even know fondant was a food product, (although I’m still not sure it is!)

Back to the wedding cakes. The trendy, popular covering on your cake of today is the fondant. It is beautiful in it’s clean lines, simplicity and elegance. You can make items out of that you would never dream of. But think back to the buttercream days.The talent of the crumb layer and then the smooth top coat. I’ve  seen some truly beautiful cakes from this as well.

But this post is more than just the ‘topping on the cake’. Remember, this is just my opinion and thoughts on this matter. I would truly love to hear yours as well. For me, the fondant symbolizes what weddings have become. Everything perfect and just right, not a rose petal out of place or a wrinkle in sight. Huge celebrations and expense to go with it, meals for 300 and attendants lining the sides of the church. The Bride and Groom are center stage, but I think get lost in the shuffle. Certainly exhausted after planning the celebration of the century. The ‘Buttercream Days’ for me, symbolize a more relaxed time. The wedding cake was still beautiful, but maybe not perfect. Weddings were about the couple, their family and close friends. It was their time to rejoice and celebrate the union of the two people and their families. You usually didn’t try to ‘wine and dine’ several hundred people. You didn’t go into debt to pay for a few hours of partying. What has our focus become? Is it about the couple and their vows, or how fantastic the wedding is?

There’s a trend toward tiny houses now. Maybe we can relax on the expectations and ‘clean lines’ of our lives. Maybe we can again enjoy the buttercream frosting and focus on what really matters. I know it would certainly take the pressure off me! We have four daughters, two more to get married. You know why I want the buttercream! (It DOES just really taste better!)