Tag Archives: family life

The Marriage Crucible: How I Know My Husband Loves Me

Here's Mick in his "other-centered" mode, helping me clean out my summer garden.

The scene: Our little home on Harding Place, eleven years ago.  My muscles were so sore from moving scenery for our Spring musical dress rehearsal I could hardly get out of the car.  I had just pulled into the driveway, bringing the girls home from school.  So intense were my body aches that I asked the girls to manage dinner.  They were 8 and 12 years old; this was an unprecedented request of them and they looked at me like I had suddenly turned into an alien being.

“Uh, okay…” Rachel said, and she turned to Rylee.  “Let’s have macaroni and cheese!”

“I love macaroni and cheese!” Rylee responded.  And they headed toward the kitchen while I walked into my bedroom.  I sighed, took off my shoes, laid down on the bed and waited for Mick to get home.  I had tunnel vision from exhaustion and was concentrating very hard on our bedroom window.  “Get home.  Please…hurry and get here.”  I needed an intense rub-down with Icy Hot, some ibuprofen and a nap.  I looked at my watch while I listened to the girls in the kitchen.  I prayed that there wouldn’t be some sort of accident with the boiling water, and closed my eyes.

A few minutes later I heard the truck pull into our driveway.  I was completely immersed in self-centered thought as I counted the seconds until he opened the front door.  I heard him come in, say something to the girls and hear their report of, “Mom needs to talk to you.”  I saw Mick’s shadow on the wall as he walked into the bedroom, but I didn’t turn around to face him.  Instead I said, “Can you please go get the Icy Hot and work on my back and shoulders?  They’re killing me; I need some help.”

When he returned to begin his task I closed my eyes and winced.  It takes a while until muscles are worked enough to where they can relax and respond to the treatment.  Somewhere in-between “excruciating” and “sore,” I noticed Mick’s hands and arms were shaking.  Surprised, I asked him about it.  He said, “Well, we had to move three aisles of inventory in the warehouse today, all by hand.  I worked almost three hours overtime in order to finish the job, and I’m really tired.”

I began to cry.  I asked him to stop, and to lay down beside me.  I said, “Let’s rest a while together.  By the time we’ve got a little energy back, the girls will have dinner ready.”  I had been so focused on my own needs I hadn’t even assessed where my husband was.  Our universes had intersected with mutually difficult and physically taxing days that had put both of us over our ability-to-manage threshold.  Yet he was willing to help ease my pain without even disclosing what he had just experienced.

A few years later I was reading a book called, “Constructing the Sexual Crucible: An Integration of Sexual and Marital Therapy,” by David M. Schnarch. As I turned through the pages, I thought back to that time when Mick’s arms were shaking from fatigue. Although written about providing therapy for clients with sexual problems, the premise of the book was that a couple is initially immature and “unspiritual” in their relationship, but at some point grows mature and “spiritual;” they pass into a vulnerable and ‘other centered’ relationship that becomes so deep a mystery is revealed –  the mystery of what it means to be intimate with one another, cognitively, emotionally and spiritually.

He quotes Sebastian Moore (1985) frequently when talking about this shift into a deeper intimacy.  I love the passage so much that I’m going to end this post with Moore’s words.  All the best to you as you find those moments of self-exposure, interdependence, hope and spirituality with those you love…~ Red Dirt Kelly


…Desire reveals its true nature when it comes into the moment of decision, either for the new initiate of self-exposure that makes possible interdependence, or for the cowardice that overshadows our society.  Love is ‘desire, decided for.’ (emphasis added)

…Desire is most nearly itself when, asserting my own goodness which is its source, I pass from dependence to interdependence whose soul is hope.  Then is desire most itself, so then am I most drawn – no longer by the obvious charm of another, but by the mystery that brings us together enlarging  that desire into hope. (Moore, 1985, p. 30)

Moore, S. (1985). Let this mind be in you: The quest for identity through Oedipus to Christ. New York: Harper & Row.

The Love Languages of our Elders

Old farmer. Freddy from Utah - click photo to visit photographer's Flickr site.

It’s about doing something that feels dead to you because it makes the other person feel more alive than anything else.  It’s about considering the “other” around you and relegating the “self” of you.  It’s about reaching outside of yourself and touching a dimension of those around you in a way that is personal, intentional and gives them an electric current through their soul.

These thoughts and more comprise the thesis of Gary Smalley’s “Five Love Languages” book, now assimilated into many cultures and families across the U.S.  If you haven’t read the book, you might consider doing it soon.  The read is quick, the outline is clear, and there may be those around you that would begin benefiting immediately from your greater understanding of who they are – and how they operate.

To review briefly for those who are not familiar with the work, “Love Languages” are ways to understand the process of yourself and others, and why communications or interactions are (or are not) meaningful.  These processes were identified by Smalley as: acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, physical touch, and words of affirmation.  They must ring true for a great percentage of the population because his “Love Languages” workshops are still filling up across the country.  In fact, I ran into people who were familiar with his book while in the UK this past summer.

So, why cover a topic when it’s so familiar?

The other day I was walking across the parking lot of a supermarket.  I noticed an older woman being steered into the store by a caregiver.  The caregiver could have been a family member, but I’m not sure.  It seemed that every interaction between these two people was one of discomfort, misunderstanding, and ended up an impasse.  At one point, the older woman said, “Why isn’t it okay that I don’t want a pumpkin?  I would just like to enjoy a year where I don’t have to throw away something that just sat there.”  The caregiver said, “You’ve always had pumpkins – every year.  Let’s just get one, okay?”

Resigned, the older woman put it in her basket, looked around the room helplessly, found my eyes watching the scene, and looked away.

As I pushed my cart down the aisle, picking up groceries here and there, I began to think about my older family members.  I wondered how their styles of communication or their needs were being met (or not) by our younger family members.  Later that night, I was transcribing some of my grandmother’s memoirs and came across a letter from her father she had copied verbatim.  I recalled that my grandmother was also a “writing” person, that she touched many lives by her loyal letter writing over the years.

Then my brain hopped a train down the “Love Languages” track.  I began to think about each one of my older family members and wondered if I could identify their “language.”  Hmm.

My mother – My parents aren’t really “old,” but they are elders in our family.  Mom always brings sacks with things in it, every time she sees us.  Perhaps she’s a “receiving gifts” person and gives them because she likes to get them?

My father – He seems to be a “quality time” person.  I know he takes friends to lunch, he meets with people for regular breakfasts or get together times to discuss books and politics – that’s how he conveys that he cares.

My Grandma Yates – I think she was a “physical touch” person.  She used to always grab grandchildren, pull them toward her, kiss them with a loud smack and give another hug just for good measure.

My Grandpa Yates – I think he was an “acts of service” person.  He measured people by what they did, not what they said.  And he appreciated what they did.  I don’t know if I have enough memories to really identify his love language, but my best guess is service-oriented.

My Grandpa Frank – I wonder if he was a “words of affirmation” person.  He used to show us things, then look at us expectantly, waiting for our response.  Our job was to say, “Wow – that’s really neat.”  Or, “That was a good find, Grandpa.”  I think he liked to hear encouragement.

My Grandmother Emma Lee – I wonder if hers is quality time?  I know she appreciates it when we come to see her.  But I also know she writes many letters.  Perhaps the letter writing is a way of giving time, of connecting.

I think I’ve covered enough of my family members to make a point.  One of the points I just made with myself is that I don’t know for sure my own family’s love languages; especially the elders in my family who I may just not have considered before.

Do you?  My encouragement for you this week is to observe carefully.  However it is that the elders in your life engage you may very well be how you could best meet their needs.  I can tell right now that I’m going to have to do a bit more investigation.  But at least now I am thinking about it.

If you know the love languages of your elders, write a comment and let us know.  I’m interested in what you’ve observed of the elders in your life.

Forest, Trees. Clouds, Crystals. A Micro-Macro Meditation.

Monday afternoon I was sitting in the window seat of a plane flying toward Minneapolis.  During take off preparations, some of the shiny chrome trim on the tarmac equipment caught a reflective beam of sunlight and sent it directly into my eye; so, I had shut the window cover.   But now I was curious.  I wanted to see the view, to look around and say hello to the sky.


Ice crystals. Some of them looked like tiny caterpillars or stands of mitochondria.


When I lifted the plastic shade I was met with a view of tiny ice crystals that had been forming on the outside of my window.  I examined them and looked for purpose or replication in their pattern.  I thought about Minnesota and wondered if the quilted jacket I had with me was enough to keep the cold air at bay.  My thoughts turned toward the conference.  It had been a long day, so I reached up to once again close the shade and try to nap.  I had been up since 4 a.m. and had a long night of preparations still in front of me.

Just as my arm started the downward motion to close the shade, something caught my eye.  I stopped and took in the “skyscape” moment,  visually tracking the long blanket of cloud cover beneath the plane all the way to the horizon.  I’ve seen the clouds before, but I almost missed them this time.


Oh, HEY clouds. Good to see you!

I had allowed what was right in front of my eyes to be all that I considered.  I then wondered, who had I done that same thing to today? Yesterday? This week?  So my hope for you today is:


Remember to also step back, take in the whole person, and enjoy or consider their sum.  After all, their whole being is always so much more than the sum of their individual parts.

Happy skyscaping,

Red Dirt Kelly