I heard an interesting news flash this past week. As you all know, the virus has been taking quite a toll on the world. The stress of not knowing if your best buddy or nearest neighbor is harboring the virus is getting hard on relationships.
But one of the greatest pitfalls of this whole Coronavirus outbreak is the strain on less-than-perfect marriages. It seems that, according to a news story I heard, divorce lawyers are finding their business is swelling by 50%. All that togetherness has brought out some hidden dissatisfaction for some couples.
Apparently, some marriages are “for better, for worse” but not for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And all the hours in between.
I saw a couple of nearby-but-different-street neighbors on a walk this afternoon. They were sitting on their porch, as far apart as they could get. They were silent and only moved enough to scowl at each other and greet me when I said “hello.” I wondered how long they had been married and if they would be one of the couples that would be needing my website soon.
The U.S. Census Bureau statistics that I regularly cite say that 1.6 million people are projected to lose their spouse to death or divorce this year, but that was before the virus showed up. I wonder just how far those statistics will soar but the time everything is said and done. Let’s do some figuring here. Of the 1.6 million people factored in here, 813,000 will get divorced. If the lawyers are saying their numbers are up by 50%, then that is roughly 400,000 more people. Wow, that’s 1.2 million people who will be spouse-less by New Year’s Eve.
If you know anyone in this sad state, encourage them to get counselling. That’s a lot of happy divorce attorneys but a huge hunk of people saying “I Don’t.” And that would be a sad refrain to an even sadder illness.
My great aunt was my maiden great aunt, meaning that she never married. At some point in her later years, she realized the importance of having friends who knew she was sill among the living, on a daily basis.
So she started a twice-daily phone chain where she and her single, widowed, and divorced friends would call each other the first thing in the morning and again at night. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Or as neurotic.
A good friend of mine had a single gal who she had known for many years. One day, some mutual friends realized that they hadn’t heard from the single woman for several days. They went over to her house, where they found her car in the driveway, the newspapers piling up, and no answer when they knocked on the door.
The police responded to their call and they found their friend lying on the floor of the shower. She had fallen several days before and couldn’t get up (this was before the days of those chains older folks wear around their necks). The lady was dehydrated and not in her right mind.
They transported her to the hospital, where they were able to restore her health but she was never quite the same again.
Instead of taking a chance that this might happen to you, it’s important that you establish a regular group of contacts you make. Have an arrangement where you call at about the same time every day. Make sure that a couple of trusted friends have a key to your house, with permission to come in and check on you if they don’t hear from you.
What stories can you share about folks who live alone? It’s better to have a plan in place than to end up ….badly off, if you get my drift.
You may know the Helpful Harry type- with apologies to everyone named Harry. He tries to do a good deed but it misfires and you end up with the problem. Let me tell you a story.
I recently bought a lovely home. I went through the pre-inspection one hour before settlement and discovered something shocking: The previous owner, in some sort of misguided attempt to be helpful, had covered every nail hole on every wall in the new house with spackling compound.
Now this might have been deemed “helpful,” except that every wall in the house was painted brown. (Imagine here for a moment that you are living inside a wet cardboard box. That’s the color he had painted all of the walls during his pre-spackling extravaganza.)
Now, I knew I would need to repaint, not being fond of wet-cardboard-box brown, but I didn’t realize that it would need to be done immediately (the man apparently had a bunch of pictures that had previously graced his walls, so there were huge patches of spackle on every single wall. Some walls had as many as six or seven splotches!) “Heavens to Betsy,” as my mother would say. Shoot, this was even worth her “goodness, gracious, mercy Maude” and my father’s beloved expression, “Gosh!”
While I was busy “Betsying,” “Mauding,” and “goshing” my way through the house, I also realized that, because the walls were textured and because he had sanded them, I now had white smooth sections of brown, textured walls.
The end of the story, however, is really quite wonderful. A very dear and new friend and her family came over to my house and painted my entire house. The horrid brown with white spackle has now been replaced with gorgeous light blue, light mint green, and pink (not in the same room or even on the same floor). It looks great, not thanks to Helpful Harry.
I have a two-month old washer that has been incredibly persnickety. Sometimes it will spin the clothes and sometimes it simply rinses them five or six times and then declares itself finished. (It has also claimed to be spinning when I can clearly hear it filling and refilling with water.)
It seems there is a computer in the workings of the machine (computers are everywhere these days…I remember my grandmother’s old washer that required you to put clothing literally through the wringer….but I digress). Said computer has many likes and dislikes and apparently one of those peculiarities is that it is not overly fond of a hose that is too long.
You know that hose that goes from your washer to the drain line in your wall? Well, apparently, the washer doesn’t like a six foot hose; it prefers a six-inch one. When my washer was originally delivered, it came with a three-inch hose that you couldn’t do anything with, especially not drain any pressurized water, without risking the possibility that your laundry room would soon be swathed in dirty rinse water.
So, on the advice of the washer deliverers, I made a trek to my local Home Depot and bought a longer one. A much longer one. Six feet longer, to be more precise. Nobody told me that it would need to be trimmed and my friend who kindly installed the new, longer hose didn’t know to trim it, either.
So, the technician met me at my house today, and it took him all of ten minutes to realize the challenge that was confronting my washer. You see, when the hose is too long, it is longer than the washer, the water backs up as it is draining, and the computer inside the machine says there isn’t any water in the washer and it keeps refilling the machine. Hence, the five or six rinse cycles, sans the spin cycle.
So, before you get ready to deep six your washer or hang around the house waiting for the washer technician, take a look at that hose. The length might be the problem. Make sure you keep enough length so that it doesn’t come out of the wall when it’s under pressure (which would lead to an impromptu bubble bath or a spur of the moment baptismal service) but not so long that it doesn’t confuse your washer. Where’s a wringer washer when you need it?
When going over some statistics on mortality lately, I learned that women living in the United States who are over 65 years of age have an excellent chance of finishing life’s journey alone. The numbers stated that she has a 40% chance she will be a widow, a 40% chance that she will be divorced, and only a 20% chance that she will be married.
To those of you who are over 65 and still living in marital bliss, I congratulate you. So far, you have beaten the odds. However, unless you and your husband, God forbid, are in a car accident that kills you both, the chances are excellent that you will spend at least part of your life as a single. You will be a single in a couples’ world.
Here are some more statistics, since we are on a roll here. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 800,000 people will lose their spouse this year to death. Another 813,000 will lose their spouse to divorce. This means that some 1.6 million folks in the USA who were living with their spouse on January 1, 2020, will be living without that person by New Year’s Eve.
The good news is that you can be better prepared for the inevitable. Read some of the 320+ blog postings I have here; they explain the next steps to take. If there is a topic that I haven’t covered, pick a topic and comment on it, asking the question that you have in mind. I will do research on it, and will use that information for a future blog posting.
The saga of new home ownership continues. Okay, so I bought two new metal bookcases, to put inside my office closet. They weren’t the plastic ones that used to be available at my new home-away-from-home, The Home Depot (now I understand why folks go there….it’s entertaining and fun! But perhaps I have become more easily amused these days….But I digress….).
Back to the story at hand. Okay, so these metal thingamabobs looked pretty easy to put together. I looked at the instructions for two days before attempting this feat of construction. (Have I mentioned that they aren’t the plastic snap-together ones I had before at the old house and really, really liked, but gave away when I moved?)
Three shelves couldn’t be that hard to figure out, right? Be still my soul. First, you screw the bottom metal rod into the top metal rod and repeat three more times for the other legs of the shelves. Easy peazy, Roger that. We are launched. Oops, I’m single now. I am launched.
Now you put the black plastic things around the rods, marking where you want the bottom shelf to be. (They neglected to include the fact that, if you put them too low on the rods, they pop back off and then you are on a fruitless search for the blasted popped off black thingy which, by the way, seems to be without a logical name. This must happen a lot because they included two extra black thingies in the package. Either that or my construction of these shelves is in serious trouble.)
Place the bottom shelf on the rods and …oh no! A sledgehammer is needed? Where did that come from? I don’t have a sledgehammer and the nearest Home Depot is 20 minutes away….And I might not be able to lift a sledgehammer anyway and….and… and. Perhaps brute force, albeit a feminine version of said brute force, will work. Okay, so that wasn’t ideal but I digress.
Repeat with the next shelf and the top shelf. Well, the shelving unit looks okay. I mean, it’s slightly askew but aren’t we all? Maybe if I jam it in the back of the closet and lean it against two walls…. There. I only planned on putting office supplies on it anyway. How much could pens and file folders and copy machine paper and stuff like that weigh, anyway?
Hurry up and put the second one together while I have this shelf construction memorized. The instructions can take a hike. The second one was much easier, now that I know how…wait a minute- what are these little black round things? Where are those blasted directions? Nope, they are nameless just like their predecessors and these treasures aren’t even pictured. Where in the world do they belong???? Oh, the trash, of course. Circular file…..
Oh, my. What was that noise? It seems to be coming from my closet. Nope false alarm. I shut the closet doors quickly and headed downstairs. Any reconstruction will simply have to wait for another day. Or never, which ever one comes first.
Dr. Sheri, Handywoman Extraordinaire
Welcome to your new life. Whether you are divorced or widowed, you have a new “normal” and a new life. It’s up to you to embrace it and literally “find out what you want to be when you grow up.”
Perhaps you chose this new beginning or maybe it was forced on you through the death of someone you loved very much. Perchance your spouse told you verbally that he or she did not want to be married to you anymore or perhaps it was much more subtle. Here’s the news: You can make it. You can survive and even thrive in this new season of life.
As you visit my website, take a look at a few of the topics I cover, everything from whether or not to move, how to pack, and how to select your new location to (if you are male) how to put together a new wardrobe (assuming that your mother dressed you and then your wife took over the role when you married).
You might be one of my readers whose wife always took care of maintaining the household or you might be a gal whose hubby always handled the bill paying. There’s help for you both here, as well.
If you would like me to address a specific topic, just comment on any of my blog postings and I would be happy to oblige. If I don’t know the answer, I will go to an expert and get back to you.
The bottom line here is: You can make it. You can get through these difficulties, and who knows what the future will bring? I’ve known people who were “alone” for years who found love in their mid-70s. I’ve also known people who were widowed in their 40s and still have a very good life without a spouse. Hang in there, friends.
So, I hurt my ankle almost three weeks ago and I’m not exactly jumping all around yet.
In the meantime, some lights blew out at my house and I need to change the light bulbs. The thing is, the recalcitrant bulbs, AKA the light bulbs in question, are ensconced firmly on a very high light fixture that is directly above my dining room table.
Getting to these charming bulbs will require a step ladder and hanging perilously over my quite-wide dining room table. My ankle, at the very thought of this maneuver, is screaming “don’t do it!”
So, to remedy the dilemma, I went to two different hardware stores, thinking that they would know someone who does handyman work (or handyperson work, if you prefer).
No such luck. Although the workers at both stores were very sympathetic, all of the folks they knew who might do that type of work don’t do it anymore. Apparently, they are either retired or the cost of insurance has driven them from the field. What a pity.
So what is a person who is currently injured to do? Sit at home in the dark? Straddle the dining room table in the hopes that the lights will be changed before things come crashing down or the ankle gives way?
Humm……I wonder if there are any handypeople at church? Food for thought. I’ll check into it tomorrow and let you know. Stay posted.
When I talk to divorcees and widows, one of the first things we talk about is finding out what we all want to be when we grow up. That would be, by the way, a very good thing to do right now.
Your life has changed. No matter how you wish you could hit the “rewind button” (remember the days of video tapes and Blockbuster Video stores?), it’snot going to happen. Maybe you are glad that there isn’t a rewind button on life. Sometimes, things can get so hectic you might think you are stuck on fast-forward. Okay, I’m dating myself here, to admit I remember these two speeds but they did occur on cassette tapes and VHS tapes. Blockbuster used to have big signs that they were going to charge you through the nose if you didn’t rewind before you returned one of their products. But I digress.
So, where are you now? I was just thinking about that today. Where we are now can be really, really exciting. I hope you see things that way. It’s rather like finding the glass is half full, not half empty.
Think about where you live now. It’s not the place you used to be, but I was reminded of the Code of Ethics I used to recite for many years as a Home Interiors and Gifts displayer. It said, in part, the following:
We believe the home should be a haven, a place of peace, a place of harmony, and a place of beauty.
What a lovely thought! No matter where you are in life, don’t you want your home to be a reflection of those very things: a haven, peaceful, harmonious, and beautiful. It can be. Just look and see who’s there. You. God. It doesn’t get better than that, for now.
I was just thinking this morning about a love story. I hope my friends don’t mind my sharing theirs, though I will stick to first names only.
George and Ellen were friends in college. They knew each other for some time but didn’t date, which was fine with her. One day, George decided it would be fun to take Ellen on a bike ride; it was to be their first date. What the heck? She decided to go.
Ellen had prayed from the time that she was in middle school that the Lord would show her the man she was supposed to marry by having him suggest a Bible study on their first date. When they had been riding for some time, George suggested that they take a little break. As they pulled their bikes over, he pulled out a Bible and suggested they have a Bible study.
Ellen told me that she looked heavenward and asked, “Really, God? Him????” They dated for a while when she realized that, yes, she was to marry George, and so she did.
Four children and thirteen grandchildren added to their love story. Every picture I have seen of them together shows them beaming at one another. Forty-seven years of marriage brightened their smile and deepened their love. The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother, and their children had that gift, full and overflowing.
One night after Christmas, when the kids and grands had headed home after a week of activities, Ellen admitted that she was very tired. She lay down on the couch and then realized she couldn’t breath. George called 911. Tests at the hospital revealed stage four ovarian cancer.
Although Ellen fought a very hard fight, the cancer took her life six months later. It seemed like George’s love story was at an end, but it wasn’t. Ellen had encouraged him to remarry.
A few months later, he reconnected with his college sweetheart over Facebook. Based on the look on his face over the next few months, it was love at first re-sight. Fifty-four years and marriages for both of them (they were both widowed now) had divided George and Margie, but they were finally back together.
It was hard, at first, for their family and friends to accept this new woman in George’s life, especially because Ellen was so universally loved. But then I, like others perhaps, came to realize that Ellen’s love was continued through Margie and that Ellen’s legacy was continued by George’s desire for remarriage. What a tribute it was to Ellen that George would want to remarry so quickly. What a tribute to Margie that she was able to love and accept his family and friends, taking them to her heart as her own.
Perhaps remarriage is in your future. Or not. In either case, I hope you will embrace where you are in life right now. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Live it.