My husband’s mistress has duck feet and no, I am not sarcastically critiquing the anatomy of another woman. I literally mean duck feet. As in quack, quack! The kind that fly overhead, sometimes land on water and during hunting season can make an otherwise sane man turn into a strangely crazed creature. It’s a phenomenon I had not experienced until we moved to Arkansas where duck hunting can become more than just a sport; it can become an obsession.
Officially, hunting season kicks off in October with deer (which involves specific dates for bow hunting, muzzle-load and modern gun) and then the frenzy kicks up a notch around mid November when hunters begin to pray for skies that rain waterfowl. For “ hunting widows” like me the four months from October till February can mean that one third of the year consists of interrupted schedules, disturbed sleep, weekends alone, a tired and sometimes irritable husband and a seemingly constant pile of dirty camo gear in the laundry room. Sounds fun, huh? Yeah. . . not so much.
In fact the other day our son, Jordan, said to me, “Mom, I know if you and Dad ever divorce it will be during hunting season!” We shared a good laugh together but my family and friends all know that my husband’s passion for hunting is not my favorite thing. By the time February rolls around I usually feel like I’m hanging on by my fingernails to what I had thought was a solid marriage. Just being honest here.
If you’ve been married any length of time no doubt you’ve either struggled in the past or are currently dealing with a situation that challenges or even threatens your relationship.
In fact, I would bet all the shotgun ammo in our garage that almost every married person reading this has something in their marriage that grates on them, disappoints them or gets on his or her very last nerve! I’m a huge reader and one of the things that annoys my husband is when I become so engrossed in a book I’m reading that I almost tune him out. Guilty as charged. And he doesn’t like it when I turn the bedroom light on if he has gone to bed before me. So to avoid running into our four poster bed or tripping over something in the dark I’ve learned to use my phone as a light. Issue solved. The reading might still be a problem.
It may be as small as a daily annoying habit or as big as a dangerous addiction but if you’ve been married any length of time no doubt you’ve either struggled in the past or are currently dealing with a situation that challenges or even threatens your relationship. You are not alone.
The goal, of course, is to emphasize the things which bring us joy in our marriages and minimize those which bring us disappointment as best we can. I like what Robert Anderson has to say on the subject, “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, the grounds for marriage.”
Most couples have to work at finding that common ground. I have gone on an African safari with my husband and he has climbed the Great Wall Of China and toured Europe with me, in an attempt to accommodate each other’s passions. I have fished the waters of Alaska and Canada, and once almost went overboard with a large tarpon on my line off the coast of Florida. I am not opposed to adventure. I just fail to see the allure of getting up in the dark in the dead of winter, sitting in a cold, possibly wet duck blind, in hopes of killing the multiple ducks it would take to actually constitute a meal.
Marriage is not always easy. It takes a lot of strength, courage, stamina and integrity to maintain this intimate and unique bond.
For my husband, however, it is the ultimate pleasure. During duck season if he is not actually hunting ducks, he is usually thinking about hunting ducks, talking with his hunting buddies about ducks, preparing the duck blinds, cleaning his gear or sleeping off the exhaustion of pre-dawn rising for the ducks. At some point it truly does feel like this particular sport has become his mistress.
So last year I decided to become proactive. Rather than sitting home alone becoming resentful during hunting season, I suggested to David that we invest in a mobile home to have on our farm so that I could come out and spend time with him. It turned out to be an amazing idea! We have had fun being in the country together, spending evenings by the fire and last week watching the trumpeter swans that landed on the lake outside our bedroom window. I refer to our mobile home as the “ Save The Marriage Trailer” because with it we are able to blend our separate interests. I read and write while he hunts in the mornings and late afternoons and we still can share enough of the weekend to feel like we have connected.
Thomas Edison, who is said to have constructed 3,000 different theories in connection with the electric light, finally got it right. He said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” And sometimes it is the same with marriage. At least it is certainly worth trying one more time, one more thing, one more idea before giving in to the death of a relationship. Who knows? It may be that one more effort that rewards you with your light bulb moment.
It’s also the union of two good fighters – people who are willing to fight for the love they want to live and the legacy they want to leave.
Marriage is not always easy. It takes a lot of strength, courage, stamina and integrity to maintain this intimate and unique bond. Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, made this comment: “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” I believe it’s also the union of two good fighters – people who are willing to fight for the love they want to live and the legacy they want to leave. I hope you are fighting hard to protect and promote your marriage.
Diane Sollee made one of the greatest analogies I’ve ever heard when she wrote, “To get divorced because love has died, is like selling your car because it’s run out of gas.” We’ve probably all felt like our love tanks were empty at one time or another. For me, it’s been when I’ve felt ignored, unappreciated or unloved. But I’m glad I didn’t abandon the car when its tank was empty. In fact, I plan to be rolling on down the road with my man long after the ducks have flown south!
For all my married friends out there, I leave you with the words of Paul, the apostle who struggled with his own unidentified “thorn in the flesh”. Galatians 6:9 “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
I send you my blessings. Now send me your duck recipes.