This blog is for Jim Marventano's family and friends to review his status and updates while he goes through treatment for Stage IV Colon Cancer. We can beat it together!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Okay, so it wasn't ALL daisies and butterflies

I went to my first support group on Thursday morning. I thought it was a pretty good meeting. I was nervous that it would be me and everyone in the tri-state area that was 80+ years old, but actually it was me, and an ages spanning from me to 80, so I wasn't too much of a sore thumb. Although at the end the chaplain that facilitated the meeting came over and asked me if I'd like to speak with someone my own age. I replied in the affirmative. She said that she'd had someone call that morning that was hesitant to attend the meeting because she feared that she wouldn't find anyone near her age. I know the feeling. So I gave the chaplain my name and number, and the blog address. We'll see if the other young widow calls me.

Any way, at the meeting we watched a video that confirmed that some of my feelings are normal. First of all, she said that it's perfectly normal not to be crying buckets. (Whew!) Although I have been crying, I'm still not the sobbing mess I thought I'd be. It still catches me at the strangest times. The woman on the video (who lost her husband at around 40 years old to a sudden heart attack - left her with 5 kids and no job!) said that she'd pace around the living room at night and angrily tell her husband "Well it's great that you're up there with your halo on, but hello! I'm down here with no job and five kids."

The woman in the video also said that we tend to make our spouse sound as though they were saint material. We play them up in our minds and in our heart as if they never did anything wrong. That our marriages were like gold. When she mentioned it in the video, I laughed out loud. I do that. I make Jim sound like he was a saint. I make it sound like we had 12 years of wedded bliss during which we never had a single fight. So here we go:

My number one advice to the under 25 set: don't get married until you're at least 25. And then when you get to 25, think about it for another couple of years. Jim and I got married when he was 25 and I was 22. We were babies! And getting married young makes it tough to figure yourself out. I had never lived with a man apart from my dad and brothers. Lemme tell you, it was the shock of my life. I moved from my home into my college dorm, into an apartment with roommates, back into my parents' home, and into Jim's home. This is the first time in my life I've ever lived alone. And if you think living with Rachel and Jake is living alone, you're nuts. Actually, if you think living in Kohler is living alone, you're nuts. But I digress.

The second year of marriage is the hardest. At least in my mind. The first year you're all in-love-and-setting-up-house-and-cutesy. The second year you're up to your elbows in laundry and cleaning the bathtub and you start to wonder if this is what you signed up for. I was so immature when we got married that I really, really, really made our second year difficult. And Jim was immature too. Before we got married, we had talks like "I definitely want kids." What the dialogue should have been was:
Me: I want kids.
Jim: Me too.

Me: How many do you want?
Jim: I don't know - two? How many do you want?
Me: I don't know. Two or three.

{Insert what we didn't talk about here:}
Him: When do you want to have kids?
Me: I don't know - a long time from now.
Him: Like, a year?
Me: No, like eight years.
Him: Eight years?! I was thinking of trying for kids in three months.
Me: {Squawk!} Three months? Are you nuts?

Perhaps these are things we should have talked about before we got married. But you know, at 22, you just you're on the same page. Foolish, I know.

One time during our second year of marriage we got in a colossal fight and I screamed at him to get out. He started to leave and I started screaming at him to stay. Another time we got into a fight, and I have no idea why, but we were yelling at each other in the bathroom as he was taking a shower. For whatever hair brained reason, I picked up his towel and threw it into the shower while he was in there. I don't know that I've ever seen Jim that mad. When I think about it now, I laugh. Why would I throw his towel into the shower?

Jim's feet were ridiculously ugly. He had Fred Flintstone feet. I used to call him Bilbo Baggins. Which he only sort of got because he hated Lord of the Rings - shame on him. He also hated Star Wars, much my brothers' intense chagrin. They sat Jim down to watch it one winter afternoon and he fell asleep. They were horrified.

Jim chewed his nails. He said he did it to keep them neat, but I thought it was a yucky habit.

I crack a lot of my bones in my neck and fingers. It made Jim want to climb the walls. He also got annoyed with my incessant worrying, moodiness, hashing over a single subject for hours on end, and the fact that I really care about what people think about me.

Jim would do anything to get something for free. One night he and his friend Keith must have drank around 5 pitchers of New Castle to get one of everything the visiting New Castle rep had at a bar we frequented in Atlanta. It was funny to a point. Sometimes it was just cheap. He loved junky little tchotchkes.

Jim thought I was a slob. I am a slob. I carefully drape things over chairs until I have a pile so high and everything in the pile is wrinkly. I've been doing that since - forever. Jim was neat. He would carefully hang his shirts and pants or put them in the laundry basket. Even with a laundry chute, I can still get pretty slobby.

I eventually gave up talking to Jim while he was on the Musky Marauder fishing trips. He was so rude on the phone - eating, talking to other people in the room, drinking - I finally gave in and gave up. I think he was delighted to have a week without me jabbering his ear off. It was probably the best week of his year.

Jim pretty much carried me and our marriage through the time that we lived in Charlotte. I was a mental wreckage zone. I just couldn't pull it together. If it weren't for Jim, I don't know that I could have survived it, and I'm absolutely certain that our marriage wouldn't have. Even over the last year, he would apologize for being sick or too weak to do something and I would just laugh and say "Honey, remember Charlotte? I owe you BIG. You can go through another 10 years of cancer and it won't make up for what you did for me in Charlotte." Even after Charlotte I imagine that once in a while he got sick of being the really responsible one. I always wondered why he didn't pick someone more like him. More responsible. I guess he had his reasons. After all, two really responsible people does not necessarily equal the best time.

Admittedly, we got over Charlotte and although we did have some spats, we really had a good time together. Once we moved to Atlanta it was the place, the time, the people, the marriage we were looking for. We'd both matured. We both had great jobs. We had two great houses, great friends, and we had a heck of a lot of fun together. We went on trips, we spent a lot of nights out, we spent good time with friends, and we spent a lot of time going on dates. And we brought that here to Wisconsin. And we had the kids at the right time for us. On our time schedule, (once Jim accepted that kids weren't going to happen in the first 6 months of marriage!) and they are great kids because we did it our way. They would be different kids and we would be different people if we'd had kids earlier.

Not every day was daisies and butterflies, but is it for anyone? Don't we all have annoying little habits? I know I do. I know Jim did. And Jim was perfect. So if he had a few little annoying things, imagine how annoying the rest of us are.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband & I were only 23 when we married - I would FREAK if my children wanted to marry at such a young age! 23 is way too young!

My husband recently was sooo offended when I compared our 17 year marriage and our GOOD LUCK to our friends that were divorcing. The guys were both the life of the party in college - so much fun to be around - and I made a comment that at the age of 23 you have no idea what kind of ADULT you're marrying. (The guy friend ended up in AA after many years of not admitting his problem while my husband cut his drinking to almost nothing after we graduated - you know, "normal" social drinking.)

Hubby was so offended & hurt that I would compare HIM to our friend and he swears that he knew exactly what he was marrying in me. How could he?! I still contend that we have been damn lucky.

Kate, you have touched so many people with your honesty & grace. I follow your blog on a regular basis and continue to pray for you & your family.

8:57 AM

Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

Oh I agree wholeheartedly about the second year of marriage and about marrying too young. I was 23, Husband was 25. And then we got pregnant so quickly. Oy.

The thing is, that at that age, you *think* you're a grown up, but you're really not. So when you marry that young, you not only have to finish growing up yourself, you have to do it while trying to get along with someone else.

We had our fights too. Boy...did we. But like you and Jim, Husband and I, when it really came right down to it, Husband and I really loved and more importantly *liked* each other.

9:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I am sending this to see if I can. Your mother-in-law is giving me a "comments to Kate" lesson. Love--Aunt Sue Mac

10:40 AM

Anonymous Janine said...

Dear Kate,

I hope that the other young widow decides to call you, because I know how important that connection would be for you. Six months after Paul died, I met another young widow who lost her husband to a transplant just like I did. It is an amazing coincidence the way in which we met and how similar our stories are... but long story short, she is now one of my best friends and even was in my wedding in March. Just knowing that there was someone else out there who had suffered the same loss as I had made me feel "better" know that I wasn't alone. She and I were able to talk about things that my other friends couldn't possibly understand. My friends all empathized, but they had no idea the pain I was in. Later on we were able to talk about all kinds of new dilemmas... even dating. Even if this gal doesn't contact you first, perhaps you could ask for permission to email her instead.

Reading your words about newlyweds actually helps me now... because even though I was with Paul for 13 years and should be "all grown up", it is easy to start fighting about things that are SO unimportant again! You have such an amazing way of putting your feelings/thoughts on "paper" and believe it or not, you are helping others to live a better life because of the path that God has chosen for you.

Enjoy the sunshine today.



11:33 AM

Blogger Judester said...

I enjoyed today's post. I'd heard most of the stories from either you or Jim at one point or another, although no one ever mentioned the towel incident!

Jim did have the ability to calm a crazy person down. On and off from the day Mark and I bought the house in Honeoye Falls, he's been talking me down from one rant or another about Mark or marriage in general. In fact, when Mark and I came to say goodbye, I asked Jim who was going to help save my marriage from me now? He smiled and said "You'll be just fine on your own." I turned to Mark and told him he was screwed.

I printed out the last email he sent me where he talked me out of my nut-so-ness and told me to go apologize to Mark and tell him I loved him. I can read it again if I need to. Maybe I'm not on my own...

Love - Jude

2:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I am reading your blog my husband is upstairs folding and ironing our laundry (sorry Tim) and I am down here playing on the computer. I was 30 he was 27 when we tied the knot 9 months after we met.He knew I was a little bit(!!!!) of a slob and worried about what people thought about me too but like Jim, they are our angels!!!They see in us what we never did. Yeah,we argue to the point that we're ready to burst,but for some reason they make things better...every time!!! I wonder daily why certain people end up together, but as life goes on one thing is for sure....the good things out weigh the bad and it's o.k to forget the hard times!!No one is perfect but I will tell you right now Your husband and mine are the closest to it I've ever seen!!!!!!! Love you, J.F

2:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read that the best marriages are those of opposites. We marry what we lack in ourselves. Reading your blog, Kate, made me think that Jim saw in you what he lacked in himself and vice versa. Neat Nics marry slobs. You were obviously perfect for him and he you!
What an amazing writer you are. I do think you should publish this blog. It would be a best seller.
God bless, Kate!

9:27 AM

Blogger Christine said...

You are so right about the "second year curse". I know many people who have also gone through it. You and Jim were so lucky to find each other. You completed each other. (Please excuse the Jerry McGuire reference)
Actually, I wanted to tell you a story. My boyfriend Jim (there really is something about a Jim) works for a kitchen and bath remodelling company. The day I read him your last blog, he said "I had no idea that is what he did!" That day, a customer had asked his opinion between a Kohler fixture and Moen. He told them to definitely choose the Kohler because they never come in broken. He was so excited, he promised to bring me home a box.
We also had a good laugh about the towel in the shower. Very funny. I hope you are doing well. Jim will always be with you.Whether it's in your kids smiles or the boxes your tomatoes came in. We will be thinking of you all and wishing you the best.

Christine (Burton)

10:17 AM


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