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Reality Check

Yesterday was National Couples Day. It’s a day for all couples to celebrate their love and commitment to each other. Frankly, I had never heard of this holiday, much less celebrated it. I figure it’s a free “get out of the doghouse” pass for the poor souls who forget their anniversary.

Nowadays, being in a healthy “couple” relationship is not easy, especially for seniors. If you are a retired person, like me, who lives with a spouse or partner, and is around that person day in and day out, you know how daunting it can be. Heck, even for “unretired” couples, quarantining during the pandemic with a “significant other” was challenging. Undeniably, it takes a lot more than just love. Of course, you love that person, but geez, their quirks and habits that may have seemed cute before the pandemic, now drive you up the wall. And vis versa. Like fingernails on a chalkboard. You grok me?

So, it got me to thinking about what it takes to be successful at couplehood, and how lucky I am to have my partner, Capt’n Clean. Believe me we had many quarantine quarrels, and still have issues with each other, but one “biggie” thing that helps us get through yet another day is his ability to supports my passions, the things I love to do that don’t include him. Now, I’m not saying he gushes with excitement about each one, but he doesn’t tell me NOT to or make me feel dumb for doing them. He shows his support in many amazing ways. Here are a few of, what I consider, Capt’n Clean’s SUPER POWERS.

Super Power #1: Bridge Building

On the days that I play bridge with the boys (yes, I’m currently the only female in my bridge group), he cleans the house of the dirt  that I don’t see and fends for himself for dinner. What a guy!

Super Power #2: Sweat Equity

When I go to the gym or for a walk/run, he encourages me. Since I go early in the morning, sometimes I think he wants me to go so he can have the whole bed to himself, but in my heart, I know he wants me to be healthy and feel good, and, for me, exercising is what it takes. He doesn’t hit the gym until later in the day, so I guess we both share this passion…just not at the same time. You might say we appreciate each other’s sweat.

Super Power #3: Book Binding 

The good Capt’n gives me a lot of space when I’m listening to a great book. When he walks into a room and sees me blubbering like a sappy fool because I’m listening to the greatest book ever, he checks that I’m not bleeding, and then says, “Your earphones are in, right?” After I nod, he goes into another room and works on his stuff. He understands that what I think is the best book ever will probably never find it’s way to his Kindle list, ever. But he cares enough to let me enjoy the magic of books my own way.

Super Power #4: Easy Listening

Along the same lines, whenever I have written a story or blog, it always helps me to read it out loud to see if it makes any sense. Because I lean toward the theatrical (I know this shocks you) I do best when I have an audience, and Capt’n Clean is the only one around who speaks English. I know sometimes he’s playing a game on his phone or tablet during my dramatic recitations, but he never leaves the room. He knows that it is important to me, so he listens.

Super Power #5: Gustatory Discrimination

I pretty much suck at cooking, except for pies and cakes. Since we are constantly watching our sugar and gluten intake, I pretty much suck at cooking anything that we eat. But when I do have a Julia Child moment and actually make a whole dinner, he acts like it’s a gourmet meal from a fancy French restaurant. Sometimes it’s actually good too, but more often than not, cooking is just not my thing. Thank goodness Capt’n Clean is a grill master. We don’t starve.

Super Power #6: Deciphering Discretion

Every morning we do a New York Times crossword puzzle. Because we live in Mexico, we can’t get the New York Times delivered to our doorstep each day, so we buy puzzle books from Amazon. We do them in black ink. Capt’n Clean is very methodical and reads through all the clues before he fills in any letters. I’m more impulsive, and when I know an answer for sure or I’m at least 50-70% sure, I write it down. We both strive to have no mistakes or “looks” at answers at the back of the book. Inevitably when I’m the scribe, there are mistakes. Sometimes, because I’m not paying attention, I put the answer in the wrong place. But whether there are 2 or 10 mistakes, when the puzzle is completed, he always exclaims, “Not bad.”

Super Power #7: Lightning Fast Quiz Reflexes

I am a Jeopardy addict. I love the show and have since I was in 6th grade. In case you are wondering how many years that I’ve been watching, Art Fleming was the host back then. Around 4 pm every day we watch Wheel of Fortune first, just to warm up our brains, and then Jeopardy. We have to watch on YouTube because, since we live in Mexico, we don’t have US television stations. We talk, stir around, fix drinks, food, etc. while we watch Wheel, but Capt’n Clean goes mute (unless he knows an answer) during Jeopardy so that I can wallow in trivia and enjoy the show.

My partner is one incredible dude.

Again, Couples Day is a time to celebrate and appreciate your partner. So, here’s to you Capt’n Clean. Thank you for your patience, loyalty and affection. Just like Bogie and Bacall, we’ve got it all. If I had it to do all over, I’d still say “I do” today.

So Wimpy Girl, today, and every day, make an effort to show appreciation for the things your partner does for you, because the reality is that they could choose to do nothing at all. 

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This work by Anel “Pookie” Ryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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