Chocolate Muscles and Frozen Peas: Love is Complicated

13 Jan

Thirty-two years ago, on a Friday the 13th, something wonderful happened when I agreed to drive over to the Justice of the Peace in South Kingstown, RI, with Jerry Fitzsimmons. How could I resist, considering his oh-so-captivating suggestion:

“Do you wanna?”

Why, yes, I did.

Not that it was a rash decision. We’d been engaged for a couple of years, but our plans for a traditional wedding had been repeatedly thwarted by military orders and a life-altering car accident. I wonder sometimes if we’d have gone through with the ceremony if someone had told us the date. That I wore black, the only dress I’d packed for our trip to my parents’ home, only added to the surreal situation, as did the attire of our witnesses, who stood at the opposite ends of decorum’s spectrum – one of my brothers looking spiffy in his Marine Corps dress blues, and the other, a carpenter just off a roofing job, slumped over the justice’s podium wearing dirty, ripped jeans and smelling as if he took his manual labor seriously.

Nevertheless, we took the plunge together and headed off into the world of…well, something a lot less romantic than the phrase “wedded bliss” should be allowed to connote.

In fact, our first years were more like weeded bliss. We each had to compromise more than we might have wanted to, and our compromises were usually less a result of gallantry than argument-induced concessions. He’s a practical, hard-working, methodical, technically proficient detail man and I’m a somewhat flighty, spontaneous, irresponsible, artistic dreamer.

Somehow we survived. We made it through the adjustment years, the parenting young children years, the “what if I missed something better out there” years, the “our children are screwed up and it’s all your fault” years, and even the (still ongoing, but let’s call it a phase) years of, “if she rips open one more bag of frozen peas like that I’m going to give her a frozen peas experience she’s not likely to forget.”

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I had no idea what love is when we married. In fact, if we had relied on love as we defined it in our early years to get us through, we’d never have made it. I formed my idea of love by reading silly romance novels in my 20s, and I think he formed his by watching shoot-‘em-up action movies. Love is not summed up that easily. Were it so, I could have stopped looking when I read, “Her heartbeat quickened and her pulse raced until she felt the crimson heat flush clear up to her cheek bones.” And he would be striving to become the hero in the final scene of a battle saga: “He hoisted the BGM-71 TOW missile launcher effortlessly onto his shoulder, grunting in her direction, ‘C’mere,’ and she followed dutifully, staring wide-eyed at his bulging muscles as if they were made of priceless chocolate.”

Nowadays, our action scene is a little less breath-taking, as in, “He’d just settled down with a nice cold beer in front of the TV to watch ‘Braveheart’ yet again, and she, in those dratted flannel pajamas, had just pulled out the nighttime sleep-aid-enhanced pain medicine and was heading upstairs to find her book, when they turned to each other and said in unison… ‘I thought YOU were picking Charles up from youth group!”

It’s the scene afterward that speaks volumes about love.

We finally got our church wedding on our 25th anniversary, and it was a special moment that solidified, but didn’t change what we have. Our relationship still isn’t perfect. Most likely, I will always tear little gnaw-holes in the frozen peas bag, holes just big enough for eight or nine peas to escape at a time, and he will always tease the cat just as it curls up to snooze on my lap, forcing me to give him that look. I will always cry when I’m tired, and he will spend the rest of his life trying to figure out whether to try to hold me or let me cry it out. (What? Help him figure it out? Are you nuts? Where’s the fun in that?)


A glimpse of the younger, bolder, tougher, but not-so-wise years.

You see, what makes our relationship work is that we’ve become as close as two friends can be without some strange and awkward surgical procedure, and we’ve learned so much about each other that we can’t imagine being with anyone else. We see each other as a gift from God and value that gift as more precious than gold. Who else but he would know I’d get more joy out of the pair of purple “porcupine” socks I found in my stocking this Christmas than any amount of sparkling jewelry? And my joy comes from knowing that, not only does he “get” me, but if I said, even once, that I wanted the sparkling jewelry, he would have moved heaven and earth to get me some.

Because love is not about things, or feelings, or what sort of wedding ceremony binds a couple, or about always being right, or ever being right, for that matter. After 32 years I’m beginning to understand, love is about striving for second place. If I put him first, and he puts me first, well now, we just might make it another 32 years.

Besides, I’ve improved our chances by replacing his copy of “Braveheart” with “Pride and Prejudice.” Next time I cry, he can use that to figure me out…

I love you Jerry. You will always be my hero.


“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”  – 1 John 4:12

28 Responses to “Chocolate Muscles and Frozen Peas: Love is Complicated”

  1. Kae Bellamy January 13, 2016 at 6:10 pm #

    Love it! Laughed out loud! ( I don’t “text!”)

    • pjoy93 January 13, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

      Happy to make you giggle, Kae. 🙂

  2. Doug January 13, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

    Happy Anniversary to you both. We love you and miss you out here on the coast.

    • pjoy93 January 13, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

      Miss you back, and thank you Doug.

  3. Elaine Beachy January 13, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this article!

    • pjoy93 January 13, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

      Thank you Elaine, looking forward to being inspired at Monday’s talk. 🙂

  4. kimberleycooperblog January 14, 2016 at 2:28 am #

    Great post, so realistic. Congratulations.

    • pjoy93 January 14, 2016 at 7:51 am #

      Thank you, Kimberly. After all these years, real is all I have left. 🙂

  5. Mary Scro January 14, 2016 at 6:17 am #

    Inspiring post, thabk you for sharing your story! happy anniversary!

    • pjoy93 January 14, 2016 at 7:51 am #

      Thanks Mary, it was sweet.

  6. Chris Brown January 14, 2016 at 9:33 am #

    Reading this, I can picture you both in your anecdotes and I love them! Many blessings on the next 32 yrs of this adventure called marriage! Love you both!

    • pjoy93 January 14, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

      Yes, it’s quite an adventure. How long do I have to wait to blog about how much I want to strangle him today? 🙂

  7. Jack Paxton January 14, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

    Very nice, Rosemarie…

    • pjoy93 January 14, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

      Thank you Jack.

  8. Kathleen Grunden January 14, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

    Oh, my gosh–what a blessing! Happy anniversary!

  9. Jill Ann January 15, 2016 at 10:22 am #

    Nailed it, Rosemarie. Thanks for sharing and expressing what others (me) have a hard time communicating. ❤ Jill Ann

    • pjoy93 January 15, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

      Thank you Jill Ann, and thanks for sharing!

  10. Allyn Bamberger January 15, 2016 at 11:32 am #

    Rose, Hilarious and Oh, so true. Thanks for that inspiring story and Happy 32nd Anniversary!

  11. Linda January 15, 2016 at 7:20 pm #

    Enjoyed the story; I can relate, having been married 54 years. My signed, personalized copy of “Caged Sparrow” is fascinating! Thank you, and Martha, for such a wonderful book.

    • pjoy93 January 16, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

      Thank you Linda, I’m glad you’re enjoying the book.

  12. D. Wallace Peach January 18, 2016 at 10:20 am #

    Beautiful post. Mature love is so different from the starry-eyed love of youth, isn’t it? So complex and deep and magical in its acceptance and compassion. Glad you found your way there. ❤

    • pjoy93 January 18, 2016 at 10:49 am #

      Indeed, and thank you very much. Love your blog, by the way.

  13. Candy Ferris January 18, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    I always look forward to your post thank you have a beautiful week

    • pjoy93 January 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

      Aw, that’s so nice. You do the same. 🙂

    • pjoy93 January 19, 2016 at 10:31 am #

      Thank you Candy. I’m really glad you like it.

  14. Sandra Gardner Clark January 19, 2016 at 10:13 am #

    Sweet, sweet story of how love really is. Thank you for sharing and Happy Anniversary a few days late.

    • pjoy93 January 19, 2016 at 10:30 am #

      Thank you Sandi. Most days he’s worth the trouble. 🙂

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