#145 Hide a Love Note

I’ll describe a number of the variations for this suggestion as well because it isn’t as black and white as it may seem.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#145

Hide a Love Note

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about surprising someone you love. While finding a love note you’ve tucked away may be a surprise to the person who finds it, I thought it detailed enough to be its own tip to promote your (and another’s) happiness.

This suggestion is almost always found in lists of ‘things to do’ in order to perk up your relationship or build trust and intimacy between you and a partner. It’s another one of those things we are apt to do in the early stages of romance before our attention and energy get pulled into the day-to-day distractions of real life. Yet, it’s another – rather easy – free effort that reaps big payoffs in the long run.

Variations

I’ll describe a number of the variations for this suggestion as well because it isn’t as black and white as it may seem.

  • Love note: This can be a one liner; a lengthy tribute; or anything in between. It is specifically directed to someone you love and the note points to those emotions; includes any ‘loving’ relationship.
  • Thinking of you note: Generally a one liner but may include a romantic suggestion or a good will wish.
  • Appreciation note: A note specifically pointing out the attributes of the individual that you especially appreciate; more meaningful if you speak to ‘who’ the person is versus ‘what’ the person does.

The Medium

The notes can be from a sticky pad, beautiful stationery, printer paper, or the back of an old envelope. It doesn’t matter what the note is written on – what matters is the time and sentiment that it takes to write and then ‘hide’ the message. Likewise, your penmanship, spelling, ‘writing ability’, and writing instrument makes no difference. The sentence: “I luv u with my hole hart” scribbled in crayon is just as sentimental as one that is typed on parchment paper and spelled correctly.

Hiding Spot

Hiding them is perhaps, the trickiest part. It’s nice when they aren’t blatantly obvious although if your only option is to lay it on the kitchen table before you leave for work – it’s better than not doing it. However, the little surprises of finding a note hidden in a towel as you grab your shower, or inside a shoe you only wear on weekends, or at the bottom of a cereal box… those are the moments when you least expect to be presented with something significant or sweet. The goal here is for the note to be discovered in the most least expected way.

Think about the person you are writing to… where would they least expect to find a note of love, appreciation, or a kind thought? Grab something quick, while you’re thinking about it, jot something down and then…

Hide a love note.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#146 Plan a Surprise for Someone You Love

We love the dopamine rush when we pull off a surprise and many of us enjoy the experience of receiving these kinds of gestures.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#146

Plan a Surprise for Someone You Love

This suggestions will elevate happiness for both you and someone special in your life. Surprising someone is always fun but planning a little (or big) surprise for someone you love is the best! For this particular post, the intent is to up your game romantically.

Dopamine Rush

A lot of us made this part of our early romantic life. We commonly offer the unexpected as a way of initiating romance. We love the dopamine rush when we pull off a surprise and many of us enjoy the experience of receiving these kinds of gestures. Coming home to an impromptu candlelight dinner… a hot drawn bubble bath with spa music… being whisked away for a steamy night in a local hotel room… These kinds of surprises turn up the ‘you’re special to me’ meter in any relationship and they are generally low cost; low effort.

Awareness

Keeping this type of energy alive in a relationship demands awareness and intent. An awareness of time and activity with the intent to keep our romantic partners needs and interest in the forefront of our mind regardless of the years that have passed.

Appreciation

Perhaps the surprise is being picked up from work and escorted to a coveted sporting event or a favorite restaurant. Perhaps it’s bringing in a cleaning team or scheduling a babysitter for a couple’s night out. It could be as simple as declaring it “Jane/John Appreciation Day” – and treating that person as if you would on a birthday or Mother’s/Father’s day – but for no special reason other than they are ‘appreciated’. Everyone receives an endorphin rush by being appreciated.

Keep Them in Mind

It’s important to specifically consider the individual you are wanting to surprise. The surprise needs to be something THEY would enjoy. Some people don’t like ‘surprises’ so the gesture needs to be softer and maybe less spontaneous. It may be important to have a random and casual conversation with your romantic partner to find out what kind of surprises they would enjoy and then write them down or commit them to memory.

Spice up your life, invest in your relationship, and elevate your mood by…

Planning a surprise for someone you love

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

Body Language

…something in my body shivered as if a universal vibration had just split or severed or breached.

“Emotion always has its roots in the unconscious and manifests itself in the body.” – Irene Claremont de Castillejo

Continued from Brewing Storm

I learned how to distance myself from the marital discord in my life. I disconnected from its negative energy and allowed it to flow past me without acknowledging its presence. The seasons moved through the calendar without my awareness yet I remained active in the outside world. I ‘felt’ the changes. I noticed it but discarded the information as if it had no meaning. Once in a while, an incident would slip into my consciousness and I would say something to Hubby – “what’s going on?” I would ask. “What do you mean?” he would reply. I tried to explain the ‘off’ feeling that was so strong – something was tugging at my heart silently.

There was a growing battle inside of my heart. I knew something had changed and yet every time I asked a question, I hit a blank wall. “Nothing has changed.”, “What are you talking about?”, “Stop trying to stir something up.”, “Get out of your head.”… It didn’t really matter what the question was, the answer was the same. I felt lost and numb most of the time. I wasn’t living authentically and my body knew it.

One evening I was working late on the computer in our home office and I thought I saw something in the window to my left. It was dark and only light from my computer screen lit the room. I turned my head quickly to look through the window and a wave of nausea hit me like a baseball to the stomach. I bent over in my chair and caught my breath while I tried to keep the bile from projecting across my desk. As long as I held still, the nausea was at bay but each time I moved my head, the room swam and disappeared from focus. I got scared. I could feel my heart beating in my chest and I knew that I didn’t want to be alone. I made it upstairs to wake Hubby but only after stumbling through the hall like a pinball across plastic bumpers. I wasn’t hurting myself but I couldn’t walk a straight line. I sat on the edge of the bed after waking him trying to describe the sensation I had of being suspended in a vat of thick oil. I knew I needed to be upright but I couldn’t seem to keep my orientation there. We opted on the side of caution after thirty or so minutes and went to the emergency room.

We had to wake our neighbor so that someone would be in the house with the kids and she, being the best’est kind of friend – was there right away. By sometime in the middle of the night, I was diagnosed with Labyrinthitis – a virus or bacterial infection that affects the vestibular nerve in the inner ear. I was told not to drive for up to three weeks. Wait, What? Does this man know my life? Is he kidding? Ha!…  He didn’t know that my right hand was away at college and my other right hand had to work all day – especially if I couldn’t! The vertigo didn’t go away. Any time I moved my head, actually – my eyes – my whole body would sway in a direction that my head didn’t want to go. It was often as if one part of me was pulling the other part of me around in circles. Just being in the passenger seat was difficult if I tried to look ahead on the road or out of the windshield at all. I mostly kept my eyes locked on the dashboard and concentrated on the dust there.

Twin two – Emma and her two darling little ones came to my rescue as they had when I had my hysterectomy and stayed with me for a week so that I had help with driving. Not only couldn’t I get to work and back but the girls were incredibly active in scouts, swim team, and friendships that kept me on the road as much as a traditional ‘soccer mom’. There was always someone who needed to be there by 6 while another one had to be picked up here at 5:45 and their locations were ten miles apart… or something like that. It was manageable IF one could just get in a car and travel the roads for an hour and a half a day. It was one of the many reasons that I was trying to get away from the office more – It seemed the older the girls got, the more they needed me at home. With another sister in town, it was that much more fun, at least for us girls. Hubby was way outnumbered. One of the events that I had to miss was a concert that Hubby and I had tickets for. He was a huge fan of one of the old Rock bands that were making their rounds in smaller local venues so he was unwilling to miss it when they came to town. In fact, it wasn’t unusual for him to buy tickets for each of the events if they were within a drivable distance. This night, mom stayed with me so that Emma and Abee could go too.

The twins arrived dressed in jeans and button down shirts, humming Rock & Roll favorites they had been listening to all afternoon. I will never forget the images as Hubby entered the room to greet them and he was also wearing jeans and a tucked in black button down shirt that appeared to match Abee’s black shirt perfectly. It was surreal and awkward and weird and I had a feeling it wasn’t a mistake or a coincidence. As I recall, there wasn’t time for conversation and truly, I was at a loss for words. The three of them left the house chatting excitedly and as I watched them climb into Hubby’s truck, something in my body shivered as if a universal vibration had just split or severed or breached.

Although my dizziness got better, my body was still experiencing indications that something was wrong. My heart would race uncontrollably for no apparent reason. I would frequently find it difficult to take a deep breath. I would get light-headed and feel the need to sit down. After all of the medical issues that mom and SD Frank had over the years, I basically hated going to doctors. It seemed as if there was always bad news and I didn’t realize it then, but I had become an ‘avoider’. My life was busy and I had no time for bad news or a slew of tests. I toughed it out each time that I would experience these body functions that I didn’t understand and dismissed them like most of the other things that I simply didn’t want to think about.

The holidays were approaching and I had things to do.

Looking at Layers

I took my responsibility for change seriously. I knew that I had to learn how to give in ways that I hadn’t before.

“I’m like an onion. You can peel away my layers, but the further you go, the more it’ll make you cry.”  ― Laura Carstairs-Waters

I really connected to this therapist and it turns out that a ‘connection’ with your counselor is vital to your healing. I tell my own clients this all the time; if there is no rapport, find a new one! Of course, one of the first things she wanted to know about is how my child hood was. I recounted the many moves, my parents’ divorce, my sibling connections, how I was a primary caregiver, etc., and praised the job my mom and dad did overall. I talked about how great it was to grow up in a small town and to see my parents happier with the partners they chose the second time around. I talked for almost the whole hour and her eyes got bigger and bigger as the clock ticked. I really do laugh about this today but then – I was dead serious. I thought I had a great childhood!! I was completely oblivious as to how my childhood shaped my thoughts, feelings, or perspective about the world. I just hadn’t ever given it a second thought. I was who I was and I had an image of who I needed to be. I strived to be that person regardless of the obstacles of distorted cognition’s that developed in childhood.  [We therapists are not looking back to BLAME anyone but to understand who the person on the couch really is – so many clues!] Nonetheless, she was wide eyed and I was smug. When I said, “it was great”, she said “well, OK then.” Little did I realize she was probably thinking about how much work there was to do!

I began to learn about myself bit by bit as she ‘peeled back’ the proverbial onion. I realized that I was a caregiver. Something that was blatantly obvious to many others was just being awakened in my consciousness. I knew that I always jumped in and took care of people but I never thought about why. I also learned that I took care of these people without regard to what I needed. In fact, I wasn’t aware of how to discern what my needs looked like and really wouldn’t for several more years. I realized that I did very little for myself and resentment of it lived in my subconscious, leaking out in the form of passive aggressive behavior more often that I would have liked to admit. I learned that I thought people would not like me if I said “no” to them. I had lots of thoughts really that were fairly misconstrued, some of which were based on ideas in my mind that were just plain false and others that I had due to some assumption that I had made over time. More on the specifics of these – later.

Most importantly, I learned how many of these things impacted my ability to be a good partner to my husband. I love to argue a point. I cherished my time on the debate team in school and probably should have become an attorney. I enjoy defending a position, especially if I feel like I am educated on the topic. In fact, my father and brothers are very much like me in that regard and I grew up in an environment where debating was the way that we communicated with one another on various levels. Well, Hubby did not. In actuality, Hubby felt like each time I entered into debate mode I was simply trying to be right, to run him down, to be better than or ‘one up’ him. That’s not what was happening in my mind – ever – but with counseling, I was able to see how my ‘debating’ behavior could have been interrupted in that manner. I never really cared to be right – only engage in the argument. Although, I will admit that I rarely entered into a full on debate unless I was certain of the information and the odds that I was ‘wrong’ were quite low.

I learned that having children was all consuming for me. I loved those kids to the moon and back – more really. They started my day with love and even though I was usually really ready for them to go to bed by eight, I tucked them each in with hugs and kisses, full of gratitude for their sweetness and genuine naiveté. Francis was growing into such a great young man, so self-sufficient and helpful. I was incredibly protective of him, often to the demise of Hubby’s discipline because I thought there was too much responsibility placed on him. Hubby was tough. He never had time to ‘grow into’ fatherhood – it just happened with my six-year-old. I believe that his interest was in developing character and integrity but our values on how to foster those qualities varied significantly and I often disagreed with his approach. As such, I became a defender and interfered perhaps too much (although I may do it again under the same conditions). The dedication with which I embarked on mothering used the majority of my ‘giving’ energy and generally left little for Hubby. On many occasions I recall asking him to be ‘an adult’ about this – that the children were only young for a while. In retrospect, I needed to assimilate ‘balance’ into this area of my life as well so that Hubby time was also a part of my day.

I learned also that I am a fast processor. I am quick on my feet to render information, decipher it, and respond on point. This, generally was in contrast to Hubby who had to think and consider what he heard before he could constitute a response that felt appropriate to him. Essentially, this made me ‘hot headed’ even though I didn’t have a temper per se, I sought a response quickly and would ‘chase’ down an answer. There was more than one occasion where I literally followed behind him demanding resolution with tone and frustration. It also was not perceived in the way that I intended but I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I took my responsibility for change seriously. I knew that I had to learn how to give in ways that I hadn’t before. I was all geared up to be better, to be the wife that would be hard to walk away from, to be ‘all in’. It was possible that I had been ‘holding back’, unwilling to be completely and totally vulnerable in case something happened. I needed to be more open and emotionally available. I know I didn’t ’cause’ him to behavior poorly or cause him to be disrespectful but I was one half of this partnership and I wanted to own my part.

We learned about ourselves and about one another in so much as we were open to hearing. One can only absorb so much at a time. We both knew that we had to individually change some behaviors if our relationship was going to progress. I saw what I needed to do and I clearly communicated what elements I needed from him; fidelity, honesty, and respect. I think he tried, but it wasn’t meant to be.

 

 

The Next Move

We talk about reconciliation and how things would need to be different. I realize that my children are worth fighting for.

“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us – and those around us – more effectively.” — Louisa May Alcott

Hubby was full of remorse, truly exhibiting heartbroken behavior as well. He was so sad and shamed that I began to worry about him. I asked his mom to come and get all of the guns and ammo that was in our house as I was scared that he would hurt himself. He also, was overcome with pain. I found myself caring, wanting to protect him – to reach out. It’s a surreal experience to extend yourself toward the fire, daring to be burned again.

He spent quality time with our children and appeared even more sad afterwards. He knew he had jeopardized our family, our lifestyle. The fear of not being with the children full time emitted from him with palpable energy. I felt kind of sorry for him and yet it was from a distant place, another ‘me’, one who was not hurting. He said all of the right things but I was yet unwilling to move from my “Go to Hell” stance and so he left. I had no idea where he went.

Tom called me. He had a few choice words for my husband, naturally I agreed with most of them. He wanted to know if I was alright – how does one answer that inquiry? What is the definition of OK after discovering the person you love was cheating? Tom was also filled with doubts and more questions. He was hurting too. So much pain – so many people afflicted with anguish because of… what – sex? Loneliness? An Impulse? We had questions but there were no quick answers. He told me they would be moving, he was choosing to stay with her but he was taking her away, closer to where he worked. I was happy to know they were gone but in some crevice of my mind I knew I would miss my friend.

One day the doorbell rang and it was Pastor R from church. He looked at me with a sad smile and asked me how I was doing. It seemed that Hubby had gone to him for counsel and support, R wanted to check on me. He listened to my perspective of the situation and then – as any good pastor would do – he counseled me on forgiveness. I’ve always remembered he quoted Luke, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him and if he repents, forgive him”. As a Christian, I was called to forgive this man who lied, cheated, and stole moments and memories from me. As a wife, I was reminded that it was “God who will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous”. That I, as a wife, should know to honor my promise – the one I made in my vows; “in good times, and in bad times”.  I was starting to resent religion but listened politely and knew that he was doing his job. He started the mental ball rolling for me though – was I really ready to throw in the towel? Did I want to quit right now?

My mother was really helpful walking me through all these questions as they ran the gamut through my mind. What would I do? I didn’t have a degree and our profession was predominately a commission only field – could I support us? We were heavily leveraged after starting a new business, how would that affect Hubby’s ability to support two households? Did I really want to have to work full time? How would I afford day care? Baby Em was barely a month old at this point… what were my options really? Mom was being really pragmatic and never asked about love or desire… she was mostly interested in the rudimentary aspects of survival. That was her gig. She was of the generation of women who didn’t ‘ask questions’, they persevered and plowed through marital discourse in the interest of the family at large. I was more ethereal, I loved this man. What about my dream? The children need a father. What if he is really sorry? What if this was just a mistake? What if God really expects me to forgive him? So many questions still. Mom asks “What are you going to do?” I felt lost.

A few more days go by and Mom has to leave. I knew I would miss her company and support. I wasn’t ready to be alone but I understood that she had dedicated a lot of time to my needs and I was only one of the people who still depended on her. I talk with Michele every day and she takes over for mom as a voice of reason when I am too full of rage or when I can’t find the strength to get out of my jammies. Other than our mothers and Michele, no one really knows what has happened in our lives. I am ashamed of us. I am shamed – period. While rationale and reasoning would say that I was a victim here, I believed that if I had been a better wife, a better mother, a better support person, less fat, less bitchy, less controlling, etc… he wouldn’t have cheated. I was taking on a LOT of the emotional responsibility for the absence of happiness that Hubby is now claiming to have felt.

Just two or three weeks’ post discovery, Hubby and I are talking more. He continues to express remorse and regret for the indiscretion every time we talk. He wants to come home, to work things out. He loves me, he says. He found a place to ‘live’ – sleep really – in an old farm house with a few dudes … he has a room. I go there. We talk about reconciliation and how things would need to be different. He mentions that there is a counselor in the building where his office is located and asks me to consider going. I say that I will think about it.

I stand at the island in my kitchen watching my children at the dinner table.  Baby Emily is gently swaying in her swing sucking away on a pacifier, being lulled to sleep. The girls are kneeling in their chairs to reach their dinner plate and Francis is quietly eating. It is another memory burned into my mind because it is in that moment I realize I have to fight for this marriage. I realize that my children are worth fighting for. Our lives will be so very difficult if I don’t make an effort to reconcile with their father. Raising four children is a challenge with two adults in the house, and would be crazy difficult if I were to attempt to do it by myself. I wasn’t sure I had it in me. But more than that – wasn’t I responsible for teaching them forgiveness and fortitude? As their mother and role model, wasn’t it my job to set an example of courage and resilience? If I ended this now, would they see me as a quitter? I knew that I needed to try and create a marriage that was a model for determination and resolve; of love and respect. In that moment, I knew I would agree to counseling and keep trying to be Hubby’s wife.

*some names have been changed in the interest of privacy

Photo credit: alsis35 (now at ipernity) via Foter.com / CC BY-NC