Tag Archives: Ramona Zabriskie

Successful Marriage is an Art, and a Talent Worth Pursuing

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For decades now, people have admired the rapport between my husband and I. Whether we’re presenting on stage together, or chatting with friends in our living room, the chemistry is obvious and apparently enviable. A curiosity. Where, I’ve been asked, does it come from?

If only I could take my inquirers to Paris. Because my answer is there, in the Louvre Art Museum, specifically in the “Salle des Etats”, where Mona Lisa sits composed in the midst of constant chaos: hundreds of photographers clamoring for their shot at any given moment. And why not? She is the most famous face in history. What most people don’t know about Mona Lisa though, is the fact that it took forty-plus years to create her––at least it took that long for Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci, to become expert enough, to craft his masterpiece.

And therein lies the answer to our question, “Where does a charmed marriage come from?” Continue reading

What’s a Body For Anyway? Four Ways To Love Your Body For The Love That It Gives

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As a repeat offender, my Weight Watcher “Lifetime” status has always felt more like a prison sentence than an achievement. Chained forever to this body of mine, staying in shape (or rather, keeping a shape) means constant awareness and self-discipline. For the first 20 years of of my marriage, days began blurry-eyed on the treadmill and ended blurry-eyed at the fridge. I’d stand there petulant, demanding to know (in that bottom-of-the-barrel-last-fraying-knot tone-of-thought): “Who cares what I eat right now or how far I ran today? Why am I killing myself like this? What’s a body for anyway?”

There is an answer, but I didn’t get it until my mother-in-law passed away.

She and I were alone that day. Minutes passed to the rhythm of the respirator. Scared and bewildered, I took her hand in mine and began analyzing it in a way that you would never do with a person were they aware. I memorized every wrinkle, every fingernail, and every blood vessel. I wondered about all the things those hands had held, all the people they had touched, all the work they had done. Most of all, I thought on how those fingers had caressed my husband, as an infant, as a little boy, as a man…and how they had been nearly the first to wrap around my babies the moment they entered this life.

Two days later, in preparation for her memorial service, my sisters-in-law and I volunteered to dress Mother’s body at the funeral home. Arranging her skirt and buttoning her blouse, we were filled with reverence. Tenderly, we painted her nails, styled her hair, and brushed pink on her still cheeks, remembering the way she rocked a baby, wiped a tear, stroked a forehead, tied a shoe, fed a family, kissed a cheek, supported an elbow, packed a bag, waved good-bye. Her loving spirit had cherished us, but it was her physical self that had actually carried out the desires of her heart.

Mother’s last lesson revolutionized me. It was clear now that I had been trying too hard to “master” my physical appearance. Better to focus on working in harmony with my body, I realized, if its real purpose is to love others. Mother, for instance–though pretty and well groomed–definitely showed wear-and-tear: but her stretch marks and dishpan hands were marks of love. In fact, they made her all the more beautiful to those who really cared and really counted.

Because of this singular experience, I began to see and treat my body very differently: the way I would treat a cashmere sweater verses a worn-out sweatshirt. I called my new perspective the “Cashmere Resolution” (because Mother preferred cashmere), but keeping that resolution through the years since has not been easy. Frequent reminders are a must. Here’s how I repeatedly convince myself that my body is—in and of itself, regardless of its present shape—luxuriously wonderful. Continue reading

Ready, Aim, Bullseye: Seven Sentences That Will Go Straight to Her Heart (and why they work)

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I know that when my husband married me, he took on hefty responsibilities—not just for himself anymore—but for me and our future children, including promises to…

  • Please (always),
  • Provide (as much as possible),
  • Protect (when necessary),
  • Problem solve (as called upon), and
  • Procreate (as agreed upon)

But it wasn’t enough.

Because my appetite for attention was insatiable and his execution was never up to feminine standards, my subtle calls for transformation (“hints”) began to sound more like commands. Of course, when that approach didn’t work either, I resorted to ultimatums. It nearly broke us. What I didn’t understand at the time of course was how insecurity—common feminine anxiety—was the actual saboteur. Misdirected and misunderstood, my fear-inspired attempts to connect with my husband actually threatened to disconnect us—permanently.

You’ve probably jousted like that with your own wife and know what it feels like to be knocked off your horse. Chances are her heart remains a moving target, and your efforts to play Cupid continually fall short. As frustrating and demoralizing as that may feel, I’m here to ask you not to give up on her, or yourself. There is a way to aim those well-intentioned arrows with pinpoint accuracy.

In this archery lesson, we’ll identify seven relational values women prize most (beyond the above five “P’s”). Honoring these seven feminine needs or desires, practically universal to women, will work wonders in allaying her fears; minimizing behaviors that hurt you both.

Note the first letter in each value: their alphabetical order will help summon up the right one at the right moment. Champion archers, in the heat of a tournament, have to know their stuff by heart. Continue reading

Dream Weaving: Three Ways To Prepare Your Marriage To Change the World

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I stare with awe at the Brooklyn Bridge every time I visit New York because I know that it wouldn’t be there if it Emily and Washington Roebling hadn’t faced down every conceivable challenge during its fourteen-year construction.

Whenever I visit Boston, I wonder at the life of John and Abigail Adams, who of necessity, lived apart more than together during the tumultuous birthing of America.

And when I enter the hospital room of a loved one, I thank God for Pierre and Marie Curie, who worked side by side nearly every waking minute of their entire marriage to produce the miracle of radium.

The fact is, if we dug into the back-story of most of the world’s grand accomplishments, we would undoubtedly be impressed with how many of those accomplishments are the product of grand marriages. Continue reading

Delighting Your Heart: How to Easily Take Responsibility for Your Own Happiness (and Six Reasons You Want to)

A photo by Aidan Meyer. unsplash.com/photos/MApzyeDS-gM

My need for external reassurance as a woman came home to me many birthdays ago. I decided to test everyone (especially Honey) by making no reference to my personal holiday during the entire month of January. The results were devastating. Not a single soul—parent, child, sister, friend, husband (gasp)—remembered. The red-letter day came and went without a whimper. Now, before you scream “Revolution!” (which I came close to doing at the time) let me add this: Honey was under huge pressure at work, serving tirelessly at church, and acutely worried over finances. He comforted, cuddled, and counseled with tenderness. It’s just that his calendar was off.

When I realized that accusation would never produce a bottle of perfume, the truth hit me like a whiff of cheap cologne: I had been thinking for too long that it was my guy’s primary job in life to make me feel good, to heal all my wounds, to spend every possible minute with me, to be emotionally available and responsive 24/7, to always want what I want. I had set myself up for disillusionment.

Thankfully, I wised up and made a course correction that stuck. My birthday is now advertised far and wide and way in advance. I am responsible to ask for and inspire special attention on January 27. Healthy, balanced doses of giving and receiving from family, friends, God, and myself, keeps my tank full. His three little words (“I love you”) then top me off and overflow into a puddle at our feet.

And that’s the secret. Fill your own tank by taking responsibility for your own happiness.

There is a simple way to get started, or continue, in the habit of filling your own tank so that you can give from abundance while receiving with confidence. I don’t mean to make it sound easy—we are talking about the greatest challenge of a woman’s life, the seesaw between nurturing herself and nurturing others—but I know you can do it.

Here’s how: Continue reading

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