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A few years ago, I wrote the following on Facebook (don’t worry, you won’t be horrified or feel the need to have a bath after

Howard Rittenhouse

Padre (Maj) Howard Rittenhouse

reading it).  My wife was at an annual conference, and a tradition had developed when she was attending them that I write something every night on Facebook to entertain her and her friends (and give others pause to reflect on my sanity).  So here it is:  

Once again, Dana [that’s my wife] has chosen to abandon her family (minus Noah who fled to Ontario knowing what was coming) [Ed. note: my middle son, Noah, has flown the nest.  I was an emotional wreck, but that’s another story – a sad, pathetic story.  But I digress] for the annual retreat. And though she is only up the road in St Albert, we are desolate, lost, bereft, inconsolable … and some other words. But mostly, we are hungry. So hungry. There are boxes and cans in the house, but what do they contain? They are as the tomb of Tutankhamun before Carter – hidden, mysterious, enigmatic. She’s only away for a couple of days, so starvation is only a moderate fear. But the drums of starvation beat. Drums, drums in the deep. We cannot get out. A Shadow moves in the dark. We cannot get out.  It comes…..

Generally, these posts (and there more – so many more, so pathetic) revolved around my utter incapacity as a cook or keeper of my sons.  It gave her a great deal of pleasure to feel that I am a wreck without her, a bit of flotsam blown about on the waves of life without her anchoring presence, a mere bug on the windscreen of the universe.  

Actually, she doesn’t think I’m incapable at all (at least I think she doesn’t think that), but I have never been nor claimed to be a particularly able chef (I don’t even come up to the level of inept pot scrubber in a greasy spoon).  However, I can make rice; I can throw a frozen pizza in the oven; I can even boil potatoes!  (Wait – no I can’t.  I burned the last pot I tried)  But it made her feel needed and missed when I wrote these posts.

And she was.  Poke me with a stick and call me overdone, was she ever!

I know – because she told me – that she missed me almost (let’s be realistic) as much when I was deployed to Afghanistan.  She doesn’t miss me very much when I used to deploy on exercises or when I’ve been on TD.  In fact, she keenly anticipates my departures.  And yes, it’s a little demoralizing to hear your wife say, “Are you going away again soon?” with the eagerness of a kid waiting for Christmas.  But I know she misses me.  (I think)

However, when I’m away, I have no concerns about the house, the kids, the mortgage, the finances, the cats, or the cars.  I have entire confidence in her abilities to cope.  And believe me, having heard the opposite from troops about their significant others, I know what a blessing having that is.

But getting to the place where both spouses are confident in and trusting of the other takes time, effort, and tenacity.  Marriage – any committed relationship – isn’t easy (ask my wife).  But it’s the most important relationship any of us will ever have.  And it’s worth putting in the work to ensure that it does not simply exist like a pot of plastic flowers but flourishes like a garden.

I’ve been married over 30 years (no jokes about my age, please), and if I can be part of something so stunningly successful (even if I do say so myself), anyone can!    

But it’s mostly down to my wife.

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