I’m a fan of fireworks. When I was little girl my dad made a huge deal out of them and put on a 30 minute show for our entire family. We would arrange our lawn chairs on the backyard patio and he would light an assortment, saving the best for last. And for him, the best was always the pinwheel. And also unfortunately for him, it was almost always a dud. There was such excitement both in the showman and from the audience. Cheers and chants would build until just before the pinwheel was lit and we would then all start singing” The National Anthem”, or “Oh Beautiful”. We sang despite the poor thing fizzling. As the years went by we wondered if this would be the year it would all go off without a hitch. But invariably it would sputter, do a few turns and then get stuck until it burned out. He tried everything from risking life and limb by giving it a spin just as it was lit to spraying the nail with WD40 to decrease the resistance, but no matter how hard he tried, it just never seemed to work.
People always want their love life to last like fireworks forever too. And men in particular get disenchanted with their spouses who after a number of years seem to fizzle. It happens for a lot of reasons. It happened to me. There was a point in my marriage where I was as disinterested in antics in the bedroom as I was going to the dentist. My reasons were complicated. Mostly, I let myself get caught up in the day-to-day stresses of life; raising small children and holding down a full-time job. It was not a priority. There was a season when I did not want to be held from behind while I did the dishes, I just wanted to get the dishes done. But I was also dissatisfied with my husband’s romantic advances. He didn’t even try to woo me anymore. He just wanted me to be ready when he was and took offense if I wasn’t immediately interested. So after a period of time, he just stopped even trying.
They say kids can kill a couple’s sex life and I believe that is when it happened to us. At first having babies is so tough and tiring. On second thought so are toddlers and school age kids. Everything was about them, all day long, everyday. We didn’t do a good enough job at getting away for date nights and short trips. We got caught up in our jobs and our ambitions, our hobbies and our family. Everything seemed more important.
But there was a time period around February of 2007 or 2006…I can’t remember now exactly. But my husband went to his dad’s in Oklahoma to bury his grandmother. While he was away I read “The Wedding” which is the follow-up to the “The Notebook,” which happens to be one of my all time favorite movies. But after reading the book, I felt strongly that I had neglected my husband physically and under appreciated him. I made a promise to myself to show him how much I loved him.
When he got home I practically attacked him with kisses thinking that he would be pleasantly surprised and I was shocked when he held my wrists, pushed me away and said, “What are you doing?” Not in a wow that is nice sort of way, but in a get off of me sort of way. I was heart broken. Truly. It was a defining moment. From that time on my antenna was up. And from that moment on I began trying much harder to show him how much I loved him.
I went to Victoria Secret and bought some lingerie, I planned romantic evenings out to dinner, romantic evenings in. Sometimes he went along with it but most of the time it was as if he was somewhere else wishing he was doing something else. I began to panic. I began to feel ugly, undesirable, and old. Where had the fireworks gone?
The last year fireworks were allowed in our community because of a law making them illegal, my dad was more determined than ever to make the show end on a high note. He was going to make the pinwheel work come hell or high water. He had a trick up his sleeve hidden away from his eager but skeptical audience. When it came time for the grand finale, he unveiled his wooden ladder with a modified electric fan mounted on the side, which had the pinwheel mounted to the spinning mechanism of the fan. Reckless? Yes! But he was desperate. He lit the pinwheel, turned on the fan, and away it went. Without a care to the possibility of electrocution and burning the house down, we were on our feet hollering, whistling, and cheering his ingenuity, tenacity and spirit.
I had that same tenacity with my marriage. I was determined come hell or high water to make it work. I would have done anything. But for all the effort; nothing. Just a fizzle, a sputter and some smoke. No fire. No works. But I didn’t give up. My dad taught me not to. And I don’t think when two people are really trying that it is possible for it to fizzle. I think it takes someone giving up; giving up on the possibility of success. Giving up instead of trying even when trying means doing something absurd like nailing an explosive to an electric fan! I would have done anything.
This may seem like a shocking statement, but to me the grand finale, pinwheel of life is not amazing, unbridled passion (although I am a fan and would not complain). It’s what happens when I look across a room and I know deep down that the eyes looking back at me have made a commitment and decision to love me for who I am. That they respect me and cherish me in their life. It is knowing that after being apart, I would be welcomed to attack him with kisses and hugs and climb into his eager and loving arms for the longest and strongest hug. It is being wanted at all. Wanted for company, wanted for conversation, companionship and intimately loved with genuine affection.
That is my dream. And next time…when life gets in the way and a relationship is challenged by the cares of the world creeping in to take center stage, I’m not going to give up. Because that is who I am.