Skip to main content

Can We Have Some Pickles with That Sandwich?


JULIE:  It is 7 a.m. and I'm awake before the alarm, mind racing as I go over the mental checklist of what  needs to be done today. John is out cold. He is exhausted from the physical and mental demands of the past week of caring for his parents while helping them sort through and pack up a lifetime’s worth of belongings.  Now it is moving day, the day they will start their final chapter together in assisted living.  The melancholy in the air is stifling.

JOHN:  Today is the last mile of the marathon begun two months ago when the decision to move was made.  Dad’s dementia had advanced until Mom was no longer able to care for him.   Since then, every weekend but one has been spent with my siblings preparing for this day.  At this moment, the last mile seems all uphill as the stress of the situation and the lack of sleep this past week has taken its toll.

JULIE:  We also have three young adult children who have been making some major life decisions and looking to us for guidance.  Our eldest, recovering from the dissolution of a long-term relationship, decided to go back to school after being unemployed for several weeks during the covid-19 lockdown.  Our middle child, who recently turned 26, needed help navigating the maze of insurance options.  Our youngest, a travel agent, is rethinking her career choice after her industry was brought to its knees with the coronavirus.  She is considering moving back home and going to grad school.  Even though they are adults, they still need and deserve our support, encouragement, and wisdom. 

JOHN:  So where does that leave US?  We have become a sandwich, squeezed on both ends as life takes a bite out of us.  We have discovered 4 pickles have helped make our sandwich more palatable.  There are times when we have succumbed to the pressure of the squeeze and been short with each other.  During these times, (1) we have been quick to apologize and ask for forgiveness so that we can move forward together.  There are other times when the squeeze has actually brought us closer as we held each other and talked about what was happening and how we were reacting to it.  (2) Open, honest, and frequent communication has been the key to keeping us tethered together at a time when we could have easily drifted apart.  (3) We doubled our efforts to lighten the burden when one of us could tell that the other had reached our limit.  (4) Lastly, we took time out of the craziness for US to recreate by NOT cancelling planned camping and kayaking trips.  This helped us to be able to let go and have fun together, creating some positive memories during a most difficult period in our lives.  Adding pickles to our sandwich allowed us to actually grow as a couple during this stressful season of life.


Other Popular Posts

3 Steps to End the Bickering

  Even the best marriages succumb to nit-picking over how to do the laundry or load the dishwasher.  We differ over asking or not asking for directions and bicker over who's to blame for being late or how we spend money.  While these quarrels may seem trivial, in reality, they matter and getting to a solution beats bickering any day.

April 19th

MICHELLE : For many people, distinct moments in their life stand out as frozen memories.  For example, my dad can remember the smells, the sounds and the clothes he was wearing on the day that John F. Kennedy was shot.  For me, that moment came on April 19, 1995.  I was a student teacher in Norman, Oklahoma.  As I used the restroom early that morning, I heard a loud boom and then tiles began coming loose one by one off the wall onto my lap.  Rushing out of the restroom and back to the classroom, my mentor teacher and I prepared for what we assumed was an earthquake. 

Ready for a Marriage Check-up?

If someone asks, “How’s your marriage?” how would you answer? It’s hard to give an objective answer. This week, we offer a short quiz you can take to evaluate how things are going in your marriage.   Before we can move toward the goal of a better marriage, we need to know where we are currently.  Doing this Marriage Check-up exercise helped us take stock of how we were doing. Here’s what we learned... 

KFC - It's What's for Mother's Day!

 JULIE: Dandelion bouquets.  Homemade breakfast in bed.  Handmade cards splashed with crayon hearts.  Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Wait, what? Let me explain…  Growing up, Mother’s Day was my mom’s annual day off, her well-deserved reward for all she did the other 364 days of the year.   It was also the one day of the year that she didn’t have to figure out what to cook for dinner for 7 hungry mouths. We always got a bucket of KFC, a rare and welcome treat.

5 Things Men Want

1. RESPECT: (KEN) : When a man is asked, 'Would you rather be respected or loved?' most would choose being respected.  In his book Love and Respect , Dr. E. Eggerichs explains this tendency.   (JANINE) : For years, I didn't appreciate how important it was to Ken that I treat him with respect.  I also didn't understand how hurtful it was when I dis respected him.  When I show Ken respect ( by affirming his decisions,  avoiding sarcasm or by not using a demeaning tone) it translates (for him) into feeling 'loved.'  Another way to say this is: when a man is dis respected, he receives the message he is NOT loved. 2.  SEX:  

7 Tips to Improve Your Sex Life

Is sex a priority in your marriage? Sexuality is an important ingredient for a healthy marriage. Here are 7 tips to help....

8 Misunderstandings That Are Hurting Your Sex Life

Why are we writing about sex again?  Sex in marriage is more important than most people think.  It's mysterious. There are a lot of "layers" and complexities to this whole topic.... read on... 

The 5 "P's" of Constructive Feedback

Photo Credit:  Ian Schneider (Reprise of post originally published on 09-16-2019) We once read an article on criticism in marriage.  The Author's bottom line was "don't do it."  Even asking: "Can I give you some feedback?" was cautioned against.  Sometimes suggestions given with the best intent with regard to work, chores, relationships with the kids can back fire.  Think back seat driving.  Experience has taught us 5 Key Points for when we just want to give each other a little suggestion.  These 5 simple points set the tone and enable us to let down our defenses and be supportive of each other when offering a little constructive feedback.   

What Can’t You Afford to Edit out of Your Story?

Michelle: When I was a teenager, I remember coming home after breaking up with a guy and my dad asking me how it went. I gave the inevitable teenage response, “I don’t want to talk about it.” My dad responded, “You don’t have to. But you do need to remember that there are some things in life that you can’t afford to edit out of your story. Is this one of them?”

10 Things Women Want

1)  Learn her “Love Language :"   And speak it often! (Learn more:  What Language Are You Speaking? ) Janine’s love language is “Acts of Service.” So, when I vacuum or do dishes or cook, it fills up her ‘love tank' - her mood brightens and there’s a whole different vibe between us.   I can tell I’ve found a direct path to her heart.