Saturday afternoon, he stood on the front of the boat, rod and reel in hand, muttering to himself about which bait might land the biggest fish. I sat comfortably on the back deck of his fishing boat in a beach chair that he'd lovingly rigged the evening before with a giant golf umbrella to shield my pale skin from the harsh stinging of the mid-day sun.
Perhaps I appeared to others in this tournament as his "princess". No matter to him. He suggested they all were more than likely jealous that they, too, didn't have a "beautiful and good woman" on the back of their boats.
"Baby, I need to know that you're OK back there," he said while casting a line into the brownish waters of this Louisiana river. "If you can take care of yourself, I can focus on what I need to do up here."
I smiled from my "throne" and reassured him that I was absolutely fine and perfectly happy.
As I watched him, focused and assured, from my happy place, I realized the perfection of this metaphor. This, after all, is all that he asks of me.
Take care of yourself so that I can focus on all that I need to do.
Sunday morning, I attended church with this man of mine.
It was a topic that was discussed a few weeks ago. He hasn't attended service in ages though his family is well known at this church. I don't recall exactly how we began talking about this. I do remember his hesitation, however.
"I've not asked you because... I didn't know if you'd be interested. You teach that Course in Miracles stuff and this is just regular church. Would you...? Do you think you'd mind joining me because I really want to share it with you? I really want to be there, with you by my side, holding my hand..."
A man who wants to share his love of God with me.
How could I resist?
That morning, I stood in my Sunday best, in between this man who called me his princess the day before, and his son who wrapped his arm in mine and laid his head on my shoulder.
I listened as the deep voice, a voice I had yet to hear, came loudly from my love. He sang hymns proudly and with conviction. He lowered his head to pray, eyes closed tightly as he squeezed my tiny hand in his. After the service, we walked around the congregation, through elderly couples who had known him since childhood and he confidently introduced me as the woman in his life.
What I'm learning in this relationship is simple, really.
I must take care of me. I must not depend on him to "make me happy"... a pattern I've noticed in past relationships and even relationships of others in my life. Interestingly, I've rarely heard a man demand that a woman "make him happy."
Men do what they can to make themselves happy. We call them selfish. But when a woman is happy, a man feels like he is doing something right.
A believe my man wants to feel respected and admired. I think we both want the attention that comes from that admiration, of course. As I watched my love on the deck of his boat and in the pew at church, I'm not sure I've seen a more contented man.
Perhaps that is all that a man needs - or at least MY man. A woman who is happy, respectful and loving. A woman who wants to share her happiness with him. An appreciative woman to pamper and adore. A woman with whom he can hold hands, sing loudly and love God. So that he can focus on what he needs to do... to feel like a man.
Ironically, what he ultimately wants to do is make his woman happy.
My heart swells with love for this man.
The over thinking and over complicating is something I do to myself. I hope, as time goes on, I learn to trust in the simplicity of our being together. It is such a beautiful thing.