Piecing the Promise

Piecing the Promise (A Form Poem)

American Marriage
Piecing life, Piecing memories
Colorful, creative, meaningful, honest Commitment
Stitched, patterned, diverse, thematic, traditional Quilt
Thoughtfully Covenant
Sacramentally Couple
Each piece within the Quilt leads to the quality of the bound whole 
American Quilt
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This was the form poem that I wrote before writing the editorial piece below. It was based on thoughts I had, back 25 years ago, after watching the movie ‘How to Make an American Quilt’. I had many conflicting feelings at the time after having been abandoned with dependent children and having to re-build my life around the after-shocks of that event. I was looking for honesty, similar to what the main character, Finn, was looking for. I was looking for a pathway back to trust and a belief in Love and Commitment in Marriage. The movie can still be found on AmazonPrime for a small rental fee of $3.99: I watched it again, after 25 years, and still find it to be an honest portrayal of conflicts surrounding the decision to marry. I believe in the lifetime commitment of marriage and I also believe it’s an aspiration that many might strive toward yet not be able to achieve. Most of all I believe in Love. Marriage isn’t necessary in achieving this commitment of wanting the ultimate good for a loved one. I’ve had relationships with a man since my 20 year marriage and those relationships helped me to learn about life and myself. Serial marriages aren’t necessary to achieve this higher good for yourself and others. (Let me know if you have any thoughts you’d like to add to this reflection.)

How to Make an American Quilt

“But how do you merge into this thing called COUPLE, and still keep a little room for yourself?
And how do we even know if we’re only supposed to be with one person for the rest of our lives?”

In recent years, there has been renewed interest in seeking the answer to these questions asked by Finn, Winona Ryder’s character in the movie, How to Make an American Quilt. The past two decades have seen many different interpretations of what marriage can mean; leaving a cynicism about the value of lifelong commitment. Lifetime commitment seems next to impossible, and ‘serial monogamy’ is a common thread running through today’s society. A young woman seeks honesty and openness about this institution which forms society’s tradition for male and female relationship; for she has come to fear that the individual cost to herself within the institution might be too high.

Piecing together the promises made in a marriage resembles piecing together the squares in a quilt. They can be joined together without thought, without intimacy and continuity, or they can be joined together in a way that becomes sacrament, a living covenant of people sharing in the process of creating the memories and life stories found within its border. What is the future of lifelong marriage? Is it an impossible dream? Or can we, both women and men, come to value its meaning in a new way – carefully selecting the quality pieces of tradition while interweaving the basic human right to be ourselves, without apology or guilt, and to be treated as equals.

How to Make an American Quilt invites the honesty and openness of all those involved in the couple’s life. Each patch within the quilt represents the story of the older women in the group-their joys and sorrows, their failures to stand up for themselves when exploited and, most important of all, their ability to forgive and move forward in their lives. The experienced quilter, Anna, reminds the group that this is a Love Quilt, a Story Quilt of the Life Before, and none of the squares can detract from the others. ‘We will follow the rules of design!’, she cautions. The young novice quilter, her daughter, poses the paradox of marriage, ‘Sometimes you have to break the rules to keep the work alive.’ For some the commitment ends because one partner removes themselves from the pattern of the quilt; and for some the stitches remain connected, and a new life stage begins to unfold. Emma, who has lived in a marriage of broken rules for thirty years, is ready to leave yet finds a way to forgive and move forward with her life.

“Young lovers seek perfection –

Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together and seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches.”

Image from Pixabay

The art of sewing shreds together needs the guidance of those who say they value marriage and families. Too often those who struggle with piecing together the promises made in marriage feel alone in their journey. There is a silence within our religions where we are taught that marriage is a living sacrament – a sign of God’s presence in the world.

In the past, marriage and family have been seen as a ‘woman’s thing’. It should be the woman who ‘keeps the nest, while the man fluffs his feathers’. Today’s woman seeks a mutual freedom within a marriage which doesn’t disregard the other, and she hopes that the man in her lift will be a co-creator in this new perspective of marriage. The ‘American Quilt’ can only be strengthened when both of the stitchers are equal participants in all that brings new creativity, color and design to the finished piece.

Finn asks the question, and from the open and honest responses of those around her, she is given strength to follow her own good insights and to follow her heart.

‘I know our marriage has as good a chance of being wonderful as it does of missing the mark. However, I’m banking on our love for each other to weigh a bit heavier on the wonderful side. As Anna says about making quilts, ‘You have to choose your combination carefully. The right choices will enhance your quilt. The wrong choices will dull its colors and hide their original beauty.’

Love is not affectionate feelings, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.

C. S. Lewis

Image from Pixabay ~ wedding ring pattern.

Me in the Middle Introducing Guest Blogger ~ Leanne

the story of how I lost my happiness and how I found it again

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~ MY LEMONY SNICKET MOMENT ~ 

Around the time I turned 50 a Series of Unfortunate Events (to quote Lemony Snicket) took place in my life and the consequence was that my happiness seemed to gradually drain away until it was almost non-existent. I never expected life to be perfect and I wouldn’t say it had ever been calm seas and smooth sailing for any length of time, but those couple of years around my 50th birthday seemed to be intent on sucking the joy right out of me.

 ~ FAMILY DRAMA ~ 

I think it started when my husband was made redundant from his job. Quite confronting at the best of times, but then he decided it was the opportunity he’d been waiting for to become a full-time student – studying externally from home. Not my idea of the bread winning 1950’s husband who was going to support me while I kicked back and finally quit the job I disliked intensely. No, he was immersed in the world of unpaid academia while I went out to earn a crust for us.

This was followed by both our children getting married and settling in the city, two hours from our country home. It was a joy for them and for us – wonderful partners, great jobs, mortgages and all the paraphernalia that goes with “children” in their 20’s……..but also the final severing of the last frayed remains of the apron strings tying us together. As a mother I was pretty much redundant – job finished, boxes ticked, but now what? Any hope of the “Brady Bunch family” was completely blown away.

 ~ WORK DRAMA ~ 

On top of all this, my job was becoming more and more soul sucking – I worked with a couple of narcissists who bounced their drama off each other all day long and there wasn’t an end in sight because I was the sole breadwinner for my ‘student’ husband and myself. So, I was trudging along to work every day (praying to be kind and pleasant) and coming home again, only to turn around and do it all over again day after day after day. On top of that, my boss lost the plot and had a meltdown at my expense one day that completely knocked the stuffing out of me.

 ~ MARRIAGE DRAMA ~ 

The Unfortunate Events crescendo-ed when my husband told me (completely out of the blue, and just after the Big Boss Meltdown episode) that he didn’t think we had anything in common and he didn’t want to be married any more. WHAT?! What do you do with that and where do you go to try and move forward? He thought it might be best if I moved out because I had an income and could afford to rent. WHAT?!! Needless to say, that didn’t happen and after a lot of soul searching, and talking, and crying (by me) we worked our way through and came out the other end and survived.

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All of these events and life situations created a perfect storm in my life and basically my wheels fell off. I was working in a job I hated, supporting a husband who wasn’t sure if he wanted to be married to me, tucked away in the back corner by my kids, hitting middle age with a vengeance and spiraling down faster than I gave it all credit for.

 ~ LIGHT BULB MOMENT ~ 

In the end I took myself off to the doctor because I thought it must be menopause (blame it on the hormones and it can all be fixed). Unfortunately (or fortunately as the case may be) he told me I wasn’t menopausal and asked if there was anything happening in my life to make me weepy and flat? Light bulb moment and a real wake up call as to where to go from there – HRT certainly wasn’t going to fix the situation – so it was up to me!

Suffice it to say, I did a lot of serious thinking and made some major (and minor) changes in my life that turned it around from a happiness score of about “3” I’d graded myself with to a score of around “9” now days. It wasn’t an overnight cure, it wasn’t just one change, it wasn’t me slapping myself over the back of the head and telling myself to pull up my socks. No, it was a Series of Fortunate Events – where I started to figure out who I was without all the old “tags” (mother, wife, faithful friend, work drudge etc), and I started liking the person who was emerging. I’m a work in progress, but I’m thriving now rather than wilting and weeping – what more can you ask for?

Over the next few weeks I’m going to cover some of those changes I’ve made, some of the discoveries I’ve made along the way, and how they turned me around and brought back my Mojo, my happiness, and my self-worth. I hope you’ll stop by and read them and share your thoughts because the journey is only just beginning – there’s so much more ahead!

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This post is a part of the series Me in the Middle Invites Guest Bloggers.  It’s an honor to feature Leanne’s writing.  I encourage you to visit her Blog at Cresting the Hill. (Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the month of July there will be a post in her series ~ 12 Steps to Happiness.)

Hi I’m Leanne, Welcome to my midlife blog ~ Cresting The Hill ~ this is where I share the discoveries I’m making about how great this stage of life is. It’s about building people up, investing in relationships, and trying new things. Lets live with gusto, embrace life, laugh every day, and appreciate the blessings that come our way. I’d love you to read, leave a comment and lets get to know each other – friendship is what it’s all about!

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~ For guidelines on submitting your inspiring story please go Here ~

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Me In The Middle Of Thinking Out Loud

(c) Mary Lou Q

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The other day I received an email about a new book~ Turn Your Mate into Your Soulmateavailable on 12/29/15.  In the video the author says  50% of first marriages end in divorce, 67% of second marriages and 74% of third marriages end in divorce!   It takes an eternal optomist to keep working on enhancing marriage and remarriage with those statistics!

I was reminded of my last post “What Makes a Marriage Successful (And why Divorce Does Not Mean Failure”.  (If you haven’t seen it, check it out! https://meinthemiddlewrites.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/what-makes-a-marriage-successful-and-why-divorce-does-not-mean-failure/)

While I think it’s important to learn what makes a successful marriage and believe in the value of marriage in our society, such as marrying before you have kids and sticking around to parent the kids you conceive,  I also think a major shift needs to take place where married, divorced or single are all highly valued lifestyles.  I know we say that this is already so, but culturally we still idealize marriage as the ultimate ideal goal in relationship commitment even though there are clear signs of trouble.  There are many who are single and divorced who are living life in the fullest while recognizing and learning about themselves and others in different levels of committed relationships.  Isn’t it much better to support and build up all relationships regardless of whether married, divorced or single?  Besides, it’s fun ‘turning your partner into a soulmate’ no matter where the relationship lies.  It’s  much better than having a ‘cellmate’ in a marriage commitment. Continue reading

What Makes a Marriage Successful? (And Why Divorce Does Not Mean Failure)

Kindness #9

(c) Mary Lou Q

Having gone through a divorce myself, I’ve often wondered why we look on staying married or getting a divorce as a defining success or failure in life.
As I’ve learned more about the person I was married to, it became clear that divorce was a blessing for me.


Some marriages that remain in tact can be abusive and the people inside them become “cell mates” instead of “soul mates”.
Another blogger opened up this discussion with a great post and I’m sharing it with you. ~ Mary Lou ~

(Be sure to click on “Original Post” to read full post!  Thanks!)

Lessons From the End of a Marriage

I’ve always found it funny/sad how we classify marital success purely by its duration. I mean, imagine if we applied this same metric to other areas of our lives –

She was a really great student – she was in school for fifty years!

He was an amazing dog, but he was a failure as a pet because he died before he turned ten.

It was a wonderful dinner. The service was so slow that the meal lasted for hours!

I’m afraid I have to give the book only one star because it ended.

Pretty crazy, huh?

So why do we then so easily apply this faulty logic to marriages? Classifying them as failures if they end and successes if they persist?

I think we all have seen (either from within or from the outside looking in), marriages that go the duration yet are filled with contempt, isolation and misery.

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