Do you feel stressed by our American way of life? Always some new gadget to have, TV show to watch, latest “fad” to follow? This stress was almost the undoing of one family until they took drastic measures and a year apart.Â Take a break from your stress and unwind with this charming true story told by Susan Pohlman.
From the back cover: As soon as Susan and Tim Pohlman wrap up their business trip to Italy, they plan to start divorce proceedings.Â They have just one day to spend together with no agenda before they go home to California and get on with their separate lives.
During that one day, however, Susan feels a nudge to give the marriage another try.Â She tries to resist it, but Tim feels the same push.Â Everything falls into place, and they agree to give their marriage and their family one more chance.Â Maybe a year in Italy can heal their wounds.
Together with their fourteen-year-old daughter Katie and their eleven-year-old son Matt, they trade in a luxury car for waiting fort the bus, giant supermarkets for small crowded shops, and their breakneck Los Angeles pace for a relaxed, slower life.
Susan and Tim spend days – not just minutes in the morning and at night – shopping, cooking, playing and riding Vespas!Â As they assume new roles, there is plenty of friction and fun in learning to live together again.
Here is a book to be savored as you dream of unplugging the telephone, television and computer, and actually spending time with your family.Â Here is a story to be emulated and simply enjoyed.
This is a book you can read a little at a time.Â The “chapters” don’t tell a linear story although it does seem to be mostly chronological.Â Each is a story unto itself.Â I’m not sure I would want to sit down and read it in a day.Â It was definitely a story worth savoring.
To be perfectly honest, I really loved this book, but it was almost convicting. Here are some of my favorite quotes and you’ll see why…
“Did you ever think that maybe, the life we built together, the American Dream so to speak, is the reason why we’re so miserable? You just kind of get lost in the repetition of it all. But you don’t really know you’re lost until you’re so lonely that you can’t take it anymore. The layers of your life slowly suffocate you. And then it all falls apart. The marriage, the family, the house…”
“Maybe we were drowning in the very life we had built for ourselves. Something had to give. Either our lifestyle or our family. Our marriage, all of those years, might be worth at least this… giving it all up for each other to see if our life was in the way of our love.” (p. 7-8)
Speaking of her children, “I could see, with sudden clarity, the downfalls of all of the “stuff” we had surrounded our children with at home. Matt couldn’t hide in his PlayStation. Katie couldn’t insulate herself in a world of instant messages. I was not driving one to this sport and Tim driving the other to that sport. We did not have the resources or wherewithal here to make decisions about each child’s “uniqueness”. I hadn’t realized that this was a privileged way of life.” (p. 89)
At a gathering with a group of strangers, “Suddenly I could see us from all angles and I realized our new way of living the “unexpected” was like finding the fountain of youth for my parched and tired soul. Like drops of water on a dried-out sponge, I could feel myself slowly coming back to life. IT was what I had been seeking for a long time, without knowing it. The enchantment, the mystery, the happenstance, the pure exhilaration of meeting people from the other side of the world who just wanted to share an evening, a glass of wine and a few songs. I realized at that moment that I had been blaming Tim for this lost part of my soul. Thinking that it was his fault that I didn’t feel a sense of delight about life anymore. It wasn’t his fault at all. It was mine for not choosing to include adventure on my To Do list.” (p. 151)
“Being relaxed and totally, emotionally present was a gift.Â In our harried world, it was rare.Â Time and I were now acutely aware of the power of this experience.Â It was something that we were learning to cherish together.Â Married life was rarely about being totally present with each other.Â In fact, I now suspected that it was a gift reserved for lovers.Â Once we took our vows, that intimacy had somehow slipped away in wisps so tiny that I couldn’t put my finger on why our relationship didn’t feel the same anymore.” (p. 213)
“My grandmother must have been the reason why I felt compelled to see the poppies.Â I think she had waited a long time to come and remind me of the power of simple deeds when done for each other with great love.Â Or maybe she had stood waving frantically in front of my eyes a thousand times over the years, and I was just too busy to notice.” (p. 229)
Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home
By Susan Pohlman
Trade paperback 5 Â½ x 8 Â¼, 288 pages
ISBN: Â 978-0-8249-4828-3
Category: Inspirational Memoir
New Release Date: September 1, 2010
This post was written for Guideposts who provided the complimentary book in exchange for my honest review.
Krista writes about her family and life adventures at Welcome to Married Life. Most days you can find stories of her daily life and funny things her sons have done. She also reviews books and posts loads of photos since she is an aspiring photographer.