It feels a bit odd at times when I am standing up in front of a classroom of kids or adults, introducing myself as someone who works for a crisis agency for victims of domestic violence. We have programs for people to raise awareness about the issues surrounding domestic violence and we have programs for all ages about healthy relationships, and I love to present programs and share ideas and have discussions.
However, what really makes my heart sing is the idea of domestic bliss. That is what I long to teach, and share, and model to others. Growing up in a home where I experienced both domestic bliss and domestic violence, I did not realize until mid-life that I could choose what kind of home that I had, what kind of relationships that I could have, that I could move more toward domestic bliss and away, completely from, domestic violence. It often strikes me, surely there is a way to talk to people more about domestic bliss than domestic violence! Surely there is a way to paint a picture of that heavenly feeling that strikes me each evening, sometimes as soon as I pull in the driveway and know that I am home.
So I started talking to people about it. I started asking kids in our program – “How many of you cannot wait to get home at the end of the day?” And the hands go up, most hands, at least. Then we discuss what it is about home that we are so eager to get there. Some say it is the food, the couch, the pillows, the bed, the television, computer, and games, but almost to a student, it is mom and/or dad, sometimes grandma or grandpa, some beloved adult who is waiting there with warmth and hugs and lit up eyes upon seeing them. We talk about that for some time because I want to establish that this is what we aim for – that wonderful feeling of being home.
And I talk about the feeling I get at the end of my work day – pulling in the driveway and seeing the chickens run up to the fence to greet me. And then my husband, who gives me a big hug and kiss and sometimes has a cup of coffee and a snack waiting for me or may have already warmed up the grill to make me a big cheeseburger. How I love to kick off my shoes and get into something comfortable to wear around the house and sink into my recliner and put my feet up. The feeling when the cat hops up into my lap and curls up and starts to purr – I share that. How wonderful it is to have someone there who really cares when I talk about my day – the ups and downs of office life, the funny things that the students may have said, the little dramas that are going on with my coworkers. How nice it is to have someone that you love to share good meals with and binge watch episode after episode of some Netflix show. And this is what I realized – we have to talk about these things to each other. We have to paint those pictures in one another’s minds if we want to establish domestic bliss. In this way we give each other something to move toward, even as we are giving them something to move away from.
So often we take that part of our life for granted and only give credence and attention to what hurts. The mean things that sometimes comes out of our mouths when we are tired, angry, or stressed, the times we lose our tempers and blame the other for things that we are really guilty of ourselves, the times when our homes enslave us with its constant demand for attention, repair, and maintenance.
My husband and I were not a young couple together – we met in midlife and so we didn’t face, together, the struggles that young couples go through learning to manage money, learning to prioritize, having small children, getting along with in-laws, maturing together emotionally, building friendships, and finding our place in the community. Both of us came from troubled backgrounds – there was domestic violence and traumatic events. For those of you who know what the ACE studies are, my score is a 6 and my husband’s score is a 7. Our relationships, before we met, could be characterized as train wrecks. We were both looking for love, not necessarily in the wrong places, but in the wrong way!
Thankfully by the time we met, we both realized that something was the matter – not with other people as much as with ourselves, and being with someone who wants to do the work to create not only a healthy relationship but domestic bliss with you is a wonderful thing. So I talk about that, too. The other day I read a little quote from a Forbes article, and the message struck me in a profound way: Tell your story or someone else will.
And so I begin to tell my story in hopes that I can find the words and the word images to convey the deep and profound ways in which establishing domestic bliss as a goal and developing the objectives that move us in that direction has restored our souls, enriched our lives, and given us a taste of paradise.