By Sandra Dee Owens
What is your birth language?
I asked my husband if he wanted to get divorced and return to being boyfriend and girlfriend like we were 40 years ago. My words sent him scrambling outside to the timber frame he was cutting for our new garage.
I have to admit I took a bit of delight in freaking him out.
I had been thinking about us. About all the challenges, and hard work involved in a marriage. And I thought about how hard it was to get along, every day, for a lifetime.
I remembered ‘us’ before we got married, and how it was nothing but fun.
Bibbidi bobbidi boo
So I asked him if he would like to get a divorce and become boyfriend and girlfriend again.
But he had other things on his mind, like building a garage, to go with the timber frame house we had been DIY building (with no prior experience, tools, or knowledge) for 36 years.
My question was so outside his thought wheelhouse, that it caused him distress. So, after an evil snicker, I decided to leave him alone.
And instead, with an invisible magic wand, went bibbidi bobbidi boo, and turned him into my boyfriend-husband—in my own mind. “What did you say?”
Noticing as we were aging, our hearing, reaction time, and other day-to-day getting along-ness was straining our patience with each other—okay, mine. I, “Me-I-Me,” was feeling less patient with my mid-60-something husband.
There. I said it out loud to myself and everyone else.
Minding my own business
I had told my husband that I wished our marriage was more harmonious, more peaceful.
Frustration and impatience are like static electricity, wasting our precious time and energy. Energy we needed for all the good things we wanted to do.
While participating in our scrappiness, by nature, my husband is a manatee, to my squirrel. He does not go looking for trouble. I do.
Recognizing my natural tendency as a scrapper (quick, sharp, aggressive), I began to see that patience and its connection to a more harmonious marriage, especially in our older years—needed to begin with me.
Shifting my focus off him, I asked myself, what part of the static electricity was being generated by me?
The word ‘patience’ emerged from the shadows of my mind.
Patience…hadn’t I been uber-patient with my methodical, focused, intelligent, linear, unfast husband?
Not really. I had been resentfully long-suffering.
They are not the same.
I decided it was time for me to mind my own business.
While that pinchy statement, “mind your own business” is typically used when someone is pissed off, causing humiliation and embarrassment to the receiver, I had something entirely different in mind.
I sensed that there was a highly beneficial way to view it, for me and everyone connected to me. A perspective I had never considered before.
Minding my own business did not mean I would become self-absorbed and care less for others. In fact, it meant just the opposite. I was going to get into my own teacup.
By taking my focus and attention off what my husband (and everyone else) was doing, (read: micro managing, controlling, judging), I instead got busy figuring out exactly what it was I was supposed to and wanted to be doing.
If I could do it, it would be a gift of freedom to everyone—including myself.
So much better when minding my own business is explained in this way!! Totally get it now!
First, I set about identifying physical things I could work on independently — a bunch of them; multiple summer landscape projects, winter sports I enjoy, and work that I love. This gave me my own agendas to tend to.
Then, to help me grasp the realities of how intense marriage and family can be for a couple, I considered what was on my husband’s mind before we got married—when we were still dating?
Keeping his motorcycle (a diehard, Moto Guzzi guy) on the road, so he could travel and play with his adventure-loving, cute girlfriend.
What was on my mind back then?
Adventure riding with my quiet, reserved, cute, motorcycle boyfriend.
Both our minds were blissfully free of adultness.
But there is much to think about when starting a family, building a home, and starting a business, and our minds are quickly filled with new and serious things.
At some point, it struck me that the spoken word is not my husband’s birth language.
It is mine.
I had spent a lifetime expecting him to love words, too, so that he could speak my language.
I thought this had to happen in order for us to communicate better. But every time I practice the art of minding my own business, I let go of that and other expectations. Expectation is a gremlin that serves no one! I am careful to not lay the burden of expectation on myself that I will become an expert at this mind-set. I just know from experience, that you get good at what you practice. So I view it as a lifelong journey, not a destination.
And the more I practice, the better I get at it.
So, whenever I feel impatient, I remind myself to breathe slowly, relax my jaw, shoulders and brain—and allow. Allow everyone to be exactly who they are—and are not.
Then I climb on the back of my boyfriend-husband’s motorcycle and without saying a word, we share the same language.
To learn more about Sandra Dee Owens visit: sandradeeowens.com.