23 September 2014

Blog#6 | Learning A Foreign Language

This blog was written using the prompt: "Give something to someone to meet his or her need (e.g., your time, your talent, money, et cetera...)." I chose this prompt because it just happened out of the blue; I wasn't even thinking of the blog posts. I chose a DROP-IN ESSAY format for this blog prompt, because so far, all my posts have been narrative in form; I'm trying something different. Since this is a Drop-In Essay, I don't share my revelation until the very end. The truth I learned is that showing love means going out of your way to give the things you need to the people you love without them asking for it.

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During our engagement, my wife Ashley and I learned all about the 5 Love Languages in premarital counseling. In a nutshell, every person on the planet feels he or she is actively being loved by receiving one or more of the following Love Languages: words of affirmation (compliments and praise); acts of service (doing things for your partner); receiving gifts (uh...you give the other person a gift...); quality time (simply being with and focused on your partner); physical touch (hugs, cuddles, and smooches).

As it just so happens, Ashley's  most fluent Love Language is acts of service.

Incidentally, this is not my native Love Language.

Ashley loves a clean house and an empty sink. I, on the other hand, feel there is more to life than clean dishes and vacuumed floors. I could have a mountain of pots and pans festering in the sink, dirty, smelly clothes wrinkling on the floor, small rodents zipping in and out of the mess, picking turf wars with cockroaches, and gaggles of traveling gypsies overflowing from our kitchen and the whole cacophonous mess wouldn't bother me one iota. I could carry on a conversation, watch a movie, host a party, and dance in the kitchen and not give it a second thought.
Photo Courtesy yepwecan.com
This is an exaggeration of the mess I can stand, but only a little one.
Boy, you are probably thinking, this sounds like a recipe for disaster! How often are you sleeping on the couch, Tobey?

As you can imagine, Ashley often asks me to help around the house. She's not shrewish or demanding; she's making reasonable, necessary requests. As you can also imagine, this is often the source of "discussions" when things come to a head. And, since I'm a complete tool, I often resent being asked to speak a Love Language that is completely foreign to me.

Just last weekend, our latest "discussion" finally yielded an answer: when Ashley has to ask me for an act of service, I'm not speaking her Love Language; I'm turing a conversation into a lecture, which neither party enjoys.

What a dolt am I.

I couldn't figure out why Ashley wasn't happy and overwhelmed with feelings of love after I did the dishes.

Granted, she had to ask me five times, I grumbled about it constantly, and did a pretty crappy job, but I did it, dadgummit!

Since then, I've been looking for opportunities to perform acts of services for Ashley. When I see dishes in the sink, I do them before she gets home from school. I vacuum the day before we have company, before she has a chance to ask me.

And I am here to tell you: she's noticed.

She is happy. She is overwhelmed with feelings of the love I have for her.

I am speaking her love language fluently for the first time.

The added bonus is that I now enjoy these tasks I once felt tedious and mundane. I'm not doing dishes because I want the sink empty; I'm doing them because I love my wife. I'm not vacuuming because I enjoy the vacuum patterns in the carpet; I do it because it makes Ashley happy. 

Noticing and speaking her Love Language improved our relationship and changed my attitude. I wasn't focused on me; I was focused on her.

Imagine what could happen if everyone made an effort to speak others' Love Languages? 
Photo Courtesy StuffPoint.com
Too "Miss America"?

10 September 2014

Blog #4 | 12 Hours of Murphey's Law

I never knew that Murphy guy that created the "If anything can go wrong, it will" law, but if I ever come across him, I'll have to punch him square in the nose.

It all started Tuesday night: The wife and I had a great dinner with our friends, the Gregorys; the boy was all snug in his footie pajamas, sprawled out in my arms, snoring that little congested snore he has as I watched T.V.; a major rainstorm was en route, and there's nothing I like better than falling asleep to the pitter-patter of rain drumming against the siding while thunder rumbles in the distance like a freight train.

The only thing left to do was let our beloved dog, Juniper, outside to do the doo one last time before bed.
Yes, we're those pet owners; we dress our dog in our clothes. | Photo Courtesy Ashley Tobey

However, there's a catch. June is terrified of storms. Even the sound of train cars ramming into each other sends her into a panic; her whole body convulses, she curls into the fetal position, and she knocks down baby gates and rips shower curtains off their rings to get to a bathtub.

Since I had a sleeping infant weighing me down, my beloved let June out.

Fast forward one hour

"Is June in the bathtub?" I called Ashley from the kitchen.

"She must be," Ashley replied from the basement. "It's pouring outside."

Just then, a huge crack of thunder and a brilliant flash of lightning ripped the sky apart.

"She's probably having fits. I better go check on her," Ashley said on her way to the bathroom.

I heard her walking through the upstairs, down to the basement. Doors are creaking open and slamming shut all throughout the house.

Suddenly, I hear feet scrambling up the stairs as Ashley cries out, "I can't find her!"

With a sickening revelation, she remembered: "I never let her back inside..."

Fast forward one hour

Somehow I've squeezed 30 miles worth of driving out of the tiny Waverly neighborhood we live in. I snaked and re-snaked up and down the water-logged roads as the rain came driving down in sheets.

It didn't take long to realize the search was pretty futile. With the fogged-over windshield, my rain-splattered glasses, and the fact I was looking for a jet-black dog in the dark of a stormy night, I was pretty much hosed.
Photo Courtesy Nick Gerber Tumblr

Fast forward two hours

The combination of a full bladder and worry about my fuzzy first-born child sprawled out in a muck-filled ditch, dead from a terror-induced heart attack, woke me from my troubled slumber. Using the dresser to steady myself, I grope my way through the darkness to check the garage to see if she found her way home and was waiting at the door.

Groggy steps lead me closer to the doorway I know is there. It's impossible to tell if my eyes are even open at this point.


A sudden bolt of lightning flashes as something flies out of the darkness and smacks me straight in the nose.

"What the...?! Holy heck!"

"What?! What's the matter?" Ashley replies, jolting from sleep.

"I hit the...OW!...I ran into the...DANG IT!...I walked into the DOOR!"

Fast forward to the morning

Several phone calls to the city offices later, I was on my way out the door to school with little to no hope of ever seeing my little schmoozy ever again.

As I put my bags in the passenger door, I hear a car pull into our drive directly behind me. I turn around in time to see the County Sheriff put his cruiser in park and roll down his window.

Oh my gosh, I thought to myself. Did I hold up Ollie's and totally forget?!

"You missing a black dog?" the sheriff asked from the driver's seat.

"Yeah, did you find her?" I asked, secretly finishing that sentence with, ...in a ditch somewhere?

"Yep, she's in the back."

Sure enough, there's June: sitting in the back seat, tail wagging, dry as a bone, looking very pleased with herself.

"I found her about six blocks from here, sitting on someone's front porch."

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I tell you: you love them; you feed them; you teach them right from wrong. But, once they become teenagers, they make their own decisions, and sometimes, they come home in the back of cop cars. The best we can do is hope eventually, they will make the right choices.