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12 Things I Really, Really Miss About Being Married

 

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Day 346.  We have almost moved fully around the sun. We have weathered fall and the holidays and a wedding and his birthday and The Master’s and Father’s Day.  All that’s left of the ‘firsts’ are the Fourth of July which is a big one for reasons I may or may  not explain down the road and The British Open, which formed the backdrop for Steve’s death and I will always, always think of it that way.

 

So, nearly one year in, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on what I’ve learned and how I’ve grieved and grown through all of it. Over the next few weeks, I hope to share more with you about what I’ve discovered because I think it might be helpful for those coming behind or alongside me in the adventure (?) that is widowhood.  It also might be useful for those of you hoping to encourage someone experiencing the grief journey that is losing a spouse.  My mind works better around lists, so I give you:  The Twelve Things I Really Miss About Being Married.  (And, duh, there are more than twelve – but also, there are some good things in my single-life season, which I will share in a future post.)

 

  1.  Let’s start with one that won’t seem important, but I promise you it is:  I hate fastening my own necklace.  Steve used to do that for me and it was sweet and intimate and romantic and made me feel really cared for and loved.  Again, I know it’s weird, but it’s exactly these sorts of things that create the rocky terrain of navigating loss. It’s not usually the birthdays and holidays, it’s that moment alone in my bedroom when I go to fasten my necklace that says “brave” on it and wonder: am I really? It’s been a tough one.
  2. I miss having someone to call on my way home from work.  Or after a tough meeting.  Or when I’m waiting in line at Starbucks and don’t want to wait alone.
  3. I miss having someone else drive.  On the rare occasions Josiah and I travel in the same car, he always drives and I really like that.  But it’s different and I think most widows would agree.
  4. I miss having someone tell me if this outfit makes me look fat.  Mostly, I miss Steve’s answer because it was so amazing that sometimes I asked him just so I could hear him say it.  (Yeah, I’m not going to tell you what it was.)
  5. Vacations. I know I can still take them and I can take people with me who love me.  But it’s not the same.  My husband made me feel comfortable and safe.  He made each place home just by being there.
  6. The very empty bed thing.  I actually sort of love having all the closet space, but I do not enjoy sleeping alone. Even though Steve was in a hospital bed during the last two years of his illness, he was still there with me and I didn’t feel as alone.
  7. Decisions.  I miss having someone to collaborate with on decisions, big and small.  What car to buy. What to give our kids for Christmas. Where to go for breakfast on our day off.  Should I say yes or no to a speaking gig that falls on one of the kid’s birthdays.  There’s not a single one of these decisions that I am incapable of making, but it was so lovely to have someone else weighing in and even carrying some of them entirely. I get tired of having to figure everything out on my own.
  8. Weddings.  Ugh.  Seriously. Weddings are a surprising tough spot for me. I’ve tried to think through all the reasons and some are obvious, but some are more subtle and sneaky.  I don’t really want to explain it all, except to say: I am an introvert (no, really) and while I actually do enjoy going to them, I do not enjoy going to them alone.   Also, it’s worth noting here, for the sake of those who want to say the right thing to widows:  resist the urge to offer easy answers.  Often, when I share a painful point like this – especially on Facebook where it’s easy to give fast input – people will respond with one-sentence solutions, like, “That’s why you have a son!  Make him go the wedding!”  Please understand two things:  1) While having Joe go with me to an event is a blessing, it is not the same.  2) Josiah is also navigating the waters of grief and fatherlessness.  There is a limit to how much of my load I want him to carry.  If I know he will also enjoy the event, I will ask him to go and he will say yes because he’s fantastic like that.  But if the event would not be fun for him, then I’m essentially asking him to pick up the weight of my loneliness and I’m not going to do that.  I determined early on that I would not place the “man of the house” title on the shoulders of a 16-year-old and I am sticking to that commitment even if it doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world.
  9. Kids.  I don’t miss my  kids -they’re right here – I just miss having someone who loves them in the same way I love them. I miss having someone who knows their history and their weaknesses and that one thing they did in fourth grade that made us laugh til we cried.  I miss having someone to tell me what to do when I don’t know what to do as a mom or would be willing to pray through the night until we found the answer. In fact, the thing I just said about Josiah and not wanting to accidentally make him the man of the house?  Sometimes the lines are unclear and I’m not sure how much is too much to expect of him and I go to ask Steve and he isn’t there and, yeah…this one is just really hard.
  10. Mayonnaise jars.  Though I’ve yet to run into one I couldn’t break into, sometimes it’s quite lovely to be able to feel like the weak, helpless female.  Sometimes I really miss being rescued, even though I know I can usually save myself.  I mean, apologies to feminists everywhere – but also:  it’s true. I think sometimes men want to be rescued, too, and that’s just fine.
  11. I miss the lovely language Steve and I shared. We understood facial expressions (especially in the last few years as his communication was forced to become increasingly non-verbal) and had developed a certain lexicon  over thirty years of life, love and battle together.  Maybe a better way to say this is: I miss feeling understood by a spouse, and so I gravitate toward friendships that offer easy understanding and acceptance and away from those that feel laborious.  Maybe someday I’ll be ready to invest in relationships where I have to do the work of explaining myself, my history and my idiosyncrasies, but right now I don’t have the energy.
  12. I miss being part of a team.  I really liked that and I think I was pretty good at it.  I also think I’m doing well at going solo, but sometimes I miss having someone who is always on my side, no matter what. And I miss him.

 

Those are my honest thoughts and I know they might not seem very encouraging, especially if you are also facing an uncertain future.  But I promise I’ll share the good stuff I’m learning, too (and there’s a lot of it!) – maybe even tomorrow!

 

 

With hope,

 

Bo

 

June 28, 2016 - 12:16 pm

Sharon Brorson - Bo, I read your blog today and am reminded by your honest words and open heart how much I am reminded to Praise God for my husband and my life right now.
I cry every time I read your blog but am so encouraged by your words you put on the page. The words are eloquent and honest and healing. If we were all “brave” like you we would open our personal journals to the world and share our hearts and hurts and life.
You are loved and appreciated and my husband said you are a very intelligent lady. We it love when you speak at church and I am proud of you for “putting one foot in front of the other” even though some days you might want to stay home and water your garden. God Bless you today and always. Thank you Bo!

June 28, 2016 - 1:09 pm

Linda M. - Once again, THANK YOU for so very eloquently voicing some of my own thoughts and feelings as I navigate a similar journey.
I especially love #12–my late husband Ed and I were a great team. I miss him and I miss our “team.”

June 28, 2016 - 1:23 pm

Jane Lellman - Perfectly said. Thank you Bo!

June 28, 2016 - 1:28 pm

Whitney - A tad bit unrelated, but I think you’ll appreciate it: how weird is it seeing “idiosyncrasies” spelled out?!

June 28, 2016 - 1:34 pm

Susan - Thanks Bo for putting into words just what a marriage should be and exactly what I would miss too (except the necklace thing….Jerry is all thumbs so not much help..Ha!) It’s the intimacy that comes with years of staying together and doing life. No one knows those parts of you like Steve did. I remember you telling me one time that a wife doesn’t realize the power she has to absolutely destroy or build up her husband with her words….because she knows the real ‘him’. No one knows those things like your spouse does…..and that’s missing now. I also remember hearing my daughter say when she was planning her wedding that she would start to get really nervous about living with someone and then she would remind herself “but it’s just Solo and that will be easy”! You are so good at understanding your thoughts and feelings and you make me really, really appreciate what I have in my marriage and what a great husband my brother was!

June 28, 2016 - 2:45 pm

Samantha H - This. This is is good, Bo.

“Weddings. Ugh. Seriously. Weddings are a surprising tough spot for me. I’ve tried to think through all the reasons and some are obvious, but some are more subtle and sneaky. I don’t really want to explain it all, except to say: I am an introvert (no, really) and while I actually do enjoy going to them, I do not enjoy going to them alone. Also, it’s worth noting here, for the sake of those who want to say the right thing to widows: resist the urge to offer easy answers. Often, when I share a painful point like this – especially on Facebook where it’s easy to give fast input – people will respond with one-sentence solutions, like, “That’s why you have a son! Make him go the wedding!” Please understand two things: 1) While having Joe go with me to an event is a blessing, it is not the same. 2) Josiah is also navigating the waters of grief and fatherlessness. There is a limit to how much of my load I want him to carry. If I know he will also enjoy the event, I will ask him to go and he will say yes because he’s fantastic like that. But if the event would not be fun for him, then I’m essentially asking him to pick up the weight of my loneliness and I’m not going to do that. I determined early on that I would not place the “man of the house” title on the shoulders of a 16-year-old and I am sticking to that commitment even if it doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world.”

June 28, 2016 - 3:05 pm

Holly - Wow! So hard and so honest. Thank you for sharing. There are parts of many of these that in my part time wife life I can say I feel and every 6 weeks I walk it again. Yet so very different because he comes home. Thank you for speaking truth. ❤️

June 28, 2016 - 3:39 pm

djcurry - Bo – I’ve been reading your posts for the past year and a half. I read them at work, which is usually a mistake because I end up with tears pouring down my face and then I have to try and explain to people walking by my office. Your words have helped me to be a better friend to those who are grieving – what to say and what not to say, when to be silent and just listen instead of offer platitudes lifted right off the pages of a Hallmark card. Your raw honesty is so refreshing. Thank you. You are an amazing woman.

June 28, 2016 - 5:06 pm

Hope - You hit a home run!!! My list would be a little different but the heart cry is the same. The holes left in the fabric of my life surprise me where they pop up so unexpectedly. I know I am loved, I know I am still vitally important to my family and my friends but I miss being THE person in someone’s life with all that came with it.
Hugs!

June 28, 2016 - 11:05 pm

Jewl - Dear Bo,
Wow. Almost a year. I know Steve would be so stinkin’ proud of you, saying he knew you could do it!! And, here you are: Still standing, with that necklace called BRAVE on and all!
You write in such a way that people “get” you. It’s ok during this time to save your energy for people that already know the ins and outs of your life and your people. There will be a time when you’ll choose to be more brave in building new friendships too, but it always takes more energy for an introvert.
I jumped onto your prayer team 2 years ago. I’ve never gotten an e-mail notice of a new post by you, but it’s uncanny how many times I “just know” when to check if you’ve written. Like tonight.
I affirm your desire to protect J from feeling like he needs to step into Steve’s shoes. I was just 15 when my mom died, leaving just my dad and myself in a big parsonage. I did do numerous chores because he couldn’t cook, and the house was too much for 1 person to clean, but I don’t think it damaged me any. In fact, I think it grew me. You and J get to lean on each other in ways that makes you both grow too. And he really is the only man in the house–I’m sure he’s doing a great job! (Tell him I only knew how to make 3 meals!) But I drew the line in going to what felt like a couples church event. That was too weird in an already strained situation. Good call, Bo!
I hate for you to constantly face the empty bed, … making decisions alone, … having to make a vacation place “home’ without him. I pray that you get to sense the husband care and love of God in new and sweet ways, even in the middle of loss.

June 29, 2016 - 1:38 pm

Corina Burgess - My oh my…. Perfectly said on every point….