Get her involved in your pastime.

In my mind, when we marry someone, it means we join together and walk the path of life as one. Doing so gives the marriage a good chance to work. If you both go your own way you will find that you have less and less in common. I can relate only to the life Irma and I have led during our 50 years. Irma stayed at home and raised our four daughters while I headed off to try to make a living for us all. Even when our children were small we tried to do everything together. Camping in the summer was a terrific way to go. We would swim with the little ones, play with a Frisbee, take them on walks in the woods and out on a little boat we had. In winter we would skate together on the local ponds and the lake in front of our home. I quit smoking and my best therapy was to take long walks. Our youngsters would come with us.

As life goes, our girls had to leave for greener pastures once educated. Irma and I continued our long walks and replaced it with cross-country skiing in winter. We also did a little alpine skiing as well. We lived on Cape Breton Island on the northern end of Nova Scotia. It was a tough place to make a living.

After moving to the west coast of Canada, we took up hiking and back-
packed into the mountains almost every weekend. We found employment as apartment building superintendents and worked together as a team. Irma knew I liked to play golf. I avoided playing because she didn’t play. She was nearly 60 when she agreed to try lessons one winter at an indoor range. In a short period of time she was scoring as well as the rest of us. We played often and played together.

We bought a small boat and then a kayak and had a ball in and around the small lakes and rivers. We eventually bought a travel trailer and lived in it in Arizona for a winter after retiring. We took long desert walks every day, spending time with friends as we toured old mine sites and looked for fancy rocks while rock-hounding.  We spent a summer traveling through-
out British Columbia and Alberta. Wherever we went we made sure we had our good walks each day.

Hiking and backpacking is wonderful. What a fantastic method to keep your marriage in balance. I don’t believe anything was better for us than the many hikes we took in the mountains of British Columbia.

Irma was the perfect hiking companion. She carried her backpack without a whimper. She was game for any adventure. No hike was too long for her.

Once we backpacked to a campsite about three miles along the trail to Elfin Lakes west of Squeamish in British Columbia. We had decided to stay there overnight and hike to the lakes the next day, pick up our backpacks on the way back and leave for home, a hike of ten miles. Irma mentioned to me the next morning that she had a little pain at her waist but didn’t make a big deal of it, so we set out and did the hike.

The next morning after we arrived home she saw her doctor and discovered she now had the shingles. That is how tough she was.  

There is not a doubt in my mind our marriage was held together by all of these activities we did together.

Getting involved in her pastime.

Now the shoe is on the other foot isn’t it? Certainly there are a great many activities you both like to do together as I stated above. But have you ever tried to get involved or shared in her particular pastime?

Irma likes to play the slots at the casino. She is a very timid gambler and may spend her two-hour visit while spending $20 or $30. She just loves to flit from one machine to another.

I, on the other hand, do not care to gamble. I have always been afraid I would become addicted as my trait of character could be called “compulsive” and that is the last thing I would want to do.

Having said this, I will take Irma to the casino whenever she wants. I stay with her a few minutes and then wander off to watch all of the others playing the slots or blackjack or any of the games. I get my kicks watching the different ways people play and react to wins or losses. I make it a habit to get back to Irma every 15 minutes or so to let her know I am nearby and either console or congratulate her, whatever the case may call for. Truthfully I really like to be near her as she is having fun.

In Sickness and in Health.

It is so easy to live together while in good health. A healthy mind and body gives us the strength to cope with the everyday stresses and strains of living.

But are you prepared to take on the challenge of caring for your wife if she is sick? I don’t mean if she has the flu or some simple sickness. I’m talking serious health problems here.

I had occasion to meet a gentleman in the small town of Bedeck, Nova Scotia. You may have heard of it. It is a beautiful town located on a picturesque bay on the shores of the Bras Door Lakes on Cape Breton Island. It derives its fame as the place where Alexander Graham Bell had a huge estate. He was the driving force behind the building of the Silver Dart, the aircraft his little group built. They flew it off the ice of Bedeck Bay and it was the first powered flight in the British Empire.

The gentleman I met was a very nice person who loved to tell stories, especially happy ones. He would tell a joke and laugh to beat the band. It was a pleasure to spend time with him. I was in the business of repairing clocks at the time and this is what brought me to him. I visited him on four different occasions and loved his positive and caring attitude.

Shortly after my last visit I heard that he had been caring for his wife who had Alzheimer’s disease for ten years. He refused to institutionalize her. For ten years he bathed her, sometimes four times a day.  He fed her, clothed her and did everything a person could possibly do for a fellow human being, all the while in a cheerful and caring manner. He truly loved her. We sometimes take for granted all of the little things in life that others, who are not so lucky, must do without.

Irma has had a hearing problem for more than 40 years. Her ability to hear has waned over those years to the point she is now profoundly deaf. She has a tiny bit of hearing in her right ear using the latest hearing aid but nothing in her left ear.

There are so many things we miss when we can’t hear.

Irma was in line for a cochlear implant. In case you have never heard of it, the specialist will open the side of your head and attach a small electrical instrument to the tiny nerves leading from your ear to your brain. Once healed another part similar to a hearing aid is attached by you daily to the side of your head by way of a magnet to the part now inside your head. The two parts work together. Sound is picked up and transmitted through the implant. It is a digital sound that at first does not sound like a sound as we know it. After some time the brain begins to understand the different tones and to change them into words you will understand. This is the simple explanation for it.

She didn’t have the operation. The specialist suggested he could drill a small hole into a bone called the stapes in her ear. He then inserts a plastic tube with a tiny platinum wire inside it and this will give her some hearing in her other ear that has been deaf for 40 years. Eureka, it worked! She now has a tiny amount of hearing in both ears but with hearing aids in both, she now hears in stereo. Without the aids she hears twice as much volume now. She heard the water while showering the other morning for the first time in many years. We were walking through a mall and she could not get over the high volume of noise she could hear. All of the sounds you and I take for granted.