We’ve been a couple since 1984, when we were each mid-life divorcees living single for many years. Fortunately, we had a mutual friend who thought we were perfect for each other, and she turned out to be right. Based on our previous experiences, our similar views and our early commitment to make this one work, the “happy-ever-after” fantasy seemed like a sure thing.
Much to our surprise, however, our incompatible and dysfunctional conflict styles led us to see a counselor together within our first year. Around the same time, our local public university started a graduate level program in conflict resolution. It became a valuable resource for our relationship growth – plus Bob received a masters degree and each of us received a Chancellor’s Certificate in Conflict Resolution.
Our path from our early joint counseling sessions to becoming co-presenters on Living Tenderly Together at national marriage enrichment conferences is described in these writings. It involved some unlearning and valuable new learnings, as you’ll see.
Another major resource for our relationship was Better Marriages (bettermarriages.org), formerly known as the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment. We completed the training to become a Certified Leader Couple in 1992, and over the years we have presented workshops for couples on a number of topics, including among them: “Beyond Anger: Embracing Conflict and Each Other;” “Tenderness, Fun and Romance;” “Tenderness and Desire;” and the topic that combined all the others, “Living Tenderly Together.”
Camping in state and national parks is one of our favorite ways to enjoy our love of nature – still mostly in a tent. Movies are another favorite recreation, and we love to attend film festivals.
We look for little ways to celebrate Us. A heart shape in nature gets us a kiss and has led to our heart rock collection. We watch the full moon rise whenever we can. We collect sweet and tender love songs for what we call our “daily dance,” which we do often but not every day.
Bob is a compulsive rhymer, and is reponsible for the unattributed poetry you will see in these pages — mostly inspired by Cheryl. In addition, Bob has created some whimsical rhymes for children that will hopefully some day make it into book form, dedicated to our awesome grandson, Quinn.
Cheryl is a retired hospice social worker and Bob is a retired family mediator.