|Aunt Mara with the Kiddos.|
I'm on vacation and met up with my beautiful sister-in-law, Mara, from A Blog About Love. She'd asked if I'd seen any new traffic lately and I said, well, I haven't really been blogging lately. She had sent some my way from her Babble column. So... welcome friends of Mara. Ya'all should be jealous (except that's contrary to what she's all about, really) because I'm here with her and she's just as amazing in person as she is in the blogger world.
Every now and then I start writing a post about how my husband's kid sister, who has been married a much shorter time than I, has improved my marriage by a lot. Seriously she has. Like many married folks who've been doing it for a long time, I had been letting resentments and petty issues bog me down enough to affect my daily interactions with my spouse. Then Mara started her blog - at first it seemed like this wide open stream of consciousness coming out of her. Amazing, I thought, but with a little reservation of cynicism. I've known this woman for about 15 years and I'd never seen her so open and honest with anyone, let alone the general public. Something really changed in her and she so graciously let it change the world - or the part of the world that reads her blog, at least.
Back to me... bogged down in negativity and resentments. That's not like me. In my early twenties I had learned a lot about living in the present and letting go of such bad feelings. If it was something I couldn't simply let go of, I knew I had work to do. Make amends. Seek forgiveness. Change. Much of this I learned in the damp, smoky church basements with a bunch of addicts and alcoholics (12 steps, anyone? I could have been playing Marla Singer in Fight Club). Those lessons learned I practiced them and lived them until my life wasn't in the vice that brought me crawling into those rooms. Something about getting better leads to complacency. Not that I've sunk into the despair of drugs and alcohol again, yet I continue to argue that my food addictions are just as serious to me today as those chemicals were to me years ago. Complacency leads to forgetfulness. Soon enough, I had stopped practicing all those good things that taught me to have strong, loving relationships.
There was many times throughout the last few years that I was despairing. My husband, knowing that I was in pain would ask how he could help. I'd just cave into myself. I don't know. I don't know what's wrong. I have no idea how to fix it. It wasn't all bad, and I'm guessing some of the despair is related to hormonal changes. So when I was feeling that way, every resentment that I'd ever held against my spouse would come up ten fold.
I started reading Mara's blog. So many of her thoughts resonate with me. They (her insights) reminded me a lot of what I had learned from the twelve steps. Then there was the other stuff - all her delightful marriage tips. At first I was so cynical, like, how could a women divorced and remarried for about a year offer tips on having a great marriage. Well, you all should read this. When I did, I went to bed that night and made passionate love to my husband. He was surprised. The next night, I did the same. He was really surprised and asked what's going on. "I've been reading your sister's blog." He was confused, but didn't ask anymore questions.
She writes, "Speak highly of your spouse. Don't speak negatively about your spouse to others." For the most part, this is so, so true. It's so easy to sit around with a group of women and kvetch about your husbands' shortcomings. And what does that accomplish? I've learned, there is no relief, no release in negativity by spouting off and spreading negativity. In fact, it makes it worse. Then I start to question him and our relationship. Crazy - all from a bitchy gossip session. I do think that if there is serious things going on like abuse, infidelity, excessive drinking, drugging or gambling, you need someone to confide in. Let that person be someone of high standards whom is trusted and won't hold it against you if you decide to stay with your spouse and try to work things out. After reading her words, I started catching myself when I was acting less than nobly. I realized this is very sage advice.
"Keep fit, exercise." Seriously. For some time I had held to the notion that we live in a world that expects us all to look like models and anything less is ugly. I felt militant that I am lovable no matter what my size is. Well, I am loveable regardless of size, but I may not be attractive. And I sure don't feel fantastic so why should I expect my spouse to feel great about my neglect in appearance as well? Diet and exercise became a priority for me. Not just from Mara's influence, but from the influence of many people at the time. Diet and exercise is typically the main focus of my blog these days, because it has become the main focus of my life. In spite of stumbling about quite a bit as I try to make life long changes, I have already reaped tremendous rewards. I've got a long ways to go to get back to the optimal health and weight that I desire, but already my husband can't keep his hands off me because the small changes are noticeable. I'm sure much of that is in my energy and attitude in addition to the slight change in my appearance.
The last time I saw Mara was in Utah over the holiday break. I had been making some changes already, but was really on the crest of doing some serious work. It was so great to meet up with her now as we are both trying to put out good words to the world. She with love and relationships. Me with nutrition and health. Her blog has been inspiring so many people and it's exciting to hear about all she's experienced with it. I am so grateful and proud to have her as my sister.