Tag Archives: marriage

Marriage: Why It’s No Good to Keep Score

This piece originally appeared on The Grit and Grace Project.

My husband has one big rule for our marriage. Babe, if you’re reading this, I know you’d say it’s not a rule – perhaps more of a guideline. But for me, it’s a rule. If I don’t follow it, I go down an extremely unhealthy path, and I know it. So here’s the best “rule” or “guideline” I’ve ever heard for a husband-wife relationship: Don’t keep score.

You might begin explaining this by saying that any healthy relationship can’t be seen as a game. The only reason you’d keep score is if it’s a game of some sort, and if you’re serious about it, you’d better not call it a game. Right? You might follow up with the fact that keeping a record of rights or wrongs is just not a good idea. Let’s ask a few questions about this concept… because I think it’s important.

If you happen to “win”, what are you actually winning? The game of who does more laundry? Or who gives more meaningful compliments? Is that a worthwhile competition? Why or why not? (I’m guessing it’s why not.)

What’s your “winner’s” criteria? Who was the last one to load the dishwasher? Maybe he had a lot on his mind from a tough day at work, or he gets tired of you re-loading it when he’s done. Or is the criteria which one of you usually texts the other one first? All that leads to is fear of not being loved enough, or inaccurately thinking that you love the other person more, just because you send more messages.

What’s the prize? Getting to taunt your other half about how you changed more diapers this week? Or likely being shunned because you’re on your high horse about how you always clean the toilets? That’s not a very good prize.

What if we shifted our thinking to loving our spouses as well as we can, as often as we can? Instead of waiting around to receive love in the way that we’re expecting, maybe we should consider showing them love in the best way we know how, whatever that is. It’s always a good idea to know how your spouse best receives love from you, and how you best receive love from them. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages is a great place to start if you don’t know each other’s “love languages”. Taking the initiative to show love first, no matter the circumstances, can’t end poorly. Being the first to say, “I love you!” when communication is hard, or the first to forgive after an argument might feel like a submission, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Usually, it shows that you’re willing to work and sacrifice to strive for health in the relationship. That’s what marriage is: work and sacrifice. Love comes first, and is quickly followed by commitment – often a “head” matter rather than a “heart” one. You keep choosing love over fear or anger or hurt feelings every single day.

There are always possible scenarios where we need to have a sit-down about issues that don’t seem to be resolving themselves. There are always times that bringing our feelings calmly to the table is the only way to move on from a hard season. But if we stop keeping score, stop trying to play a game of little chores completed and well-meaning jabs delivered, those bigger issues might just stay away longer. Being the first one to show love, forgive and forget might make your spouse feel more comfortable doing the same.

Married with Kids – It’s OK Not to Like Your Spouse Sometimes.

This piece originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

This is what being married with kids looks like – sometimes you don’t like each other and that’s okay.

Sometimes, I think back to the first couple of years after my husband and I got married. It was so… easy. We didn’t fight like many newlyweds might, over who should take care of dinner or why there were clothes left on the floor next to the hamper. However, when we started having kids, we realized the times of things being quite that simple were over.

For starters, we were exhausted. Correction: we are exhausted. There hasn’t been a day (that wasn’t some sort of child-free vacation) that has gone by since 2012 that both of us have felt “well-rested”. Either one of us gets the rest, or neither of us do. Which, as you can imagine, leads to some stress in our household, and our relationship.

But what we’ve figured out (and learned from wise friends) is this: even though some days you don’t like each other, it’s important to still love each other, and furthermore, to show it.

You have to prioritize your marriage, even though in a lot (let’s be honest, most) situations, you’ve got to put your kid – or all your kids – first. Their needs seem more pressing (butt-wiping, feeding them, keeping them from falling off ledges, you know the drill) and so you neglect the other relationship in the household while you’re meeting the more immediate needs – or simply, the ones that are shouting at you more loudly.

You see, there are more than a few reasons to take care of your marriage, even when it means putting aside the other stuff for a little while at a time.

One of the most, if not THE MOST  important reason to show the love, spread the love, and take care of your marriage even after you have kids is because those kids are always watching.

You’re setting the number one example of a marriage in their eyes, and you want it to be a positive and healthy one, right? Set an example for them of the importance of marriage, the teamwork it requires, and the love that it stems from. Show them a healthy relationship so they know what it looks like. Even have healthy disagreements in front of them sometimes; they need to know about that, too. They don’t need to see only the “good stuff” or they’ll have unrealistic expectations. Healthy dialogue, PDA (yes, affection is important to show!) and the importance of spending time alone together are important things for your kids to know about!

Among the myriad of other reasons to nourish your relationship with your spouse, I think the next biggest reason is this: one day, your kids will be grown and live in their own homes, and it’ll be just you and your spouse. Again. Alone.

Don’t wait until then to try to fall deeper in love with your spouse.

Don’t wait until there’s not the glue of parenting young children binding you.

Don’t wait until your lives have been growing apart for years to really cherish your relationship with your spouse.

I won’t say that won’t work – but I will say I bet that it’s harder that way. Communicate with your spouse, about big stuff and small stuff. Practice honesty – even when it hurts.

Say “I’m sorry.” and “I forgive you.” Do the easier things too, like dating your spouse! Have date nights or early breakfast together. Chat on the phone when you’re in the car. Send sweet text message to each other during the day.

Take a weekend away somewhere from time to time if it’s possible for you. Those things aren’t reserved for “dating” relationships unless you let that happen. “Dating” your spouse is a way to rekindle, reconnect, and intertwine your lives again when you feel like you haven’t been so “together” recently.

Make time in your schedule and room in your heart for your spouse. Even when you’re exhausted, feeling frumpy, and thinking it’s the last thing you want to do. Chances are, you’ll be so glad you did. Make sure to kiss, to chat, to hold hands, and to have sex! Those things are important… Don’t let them wait until the kids are gone.

The Boy I Loved. 

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!  
Not that long ago, I was a silly, young girl, head over heels for a boy I had just met. Not long ago, that boy was a breath of fresh air to a girl who’d sworn off dating for a while. Not long after that, the boy and girl decided they’d get married. And buy a house. And have kids. And never sleep again. 

Really, 8 1/2 years -since we met- isn’t long in the grand scheme of things. But it feels like an eternity sometimes, when I think of what’s happened since then. When I think of places we’ve traveled, jobs we’ve had, people we’ve grown closer to or drifted apart from, it feels like a lifetime already lived. There’s so much water under that bridge we’ll have to raise it if anything else happens. 

But every now and then, there are glimpses of the silly, young girl and the boy who was a breath of fresh air. For instance, last week, Hubby and I had a lovely date night planned, going to a nice restaurant in the neighboring city where Hubby attended college before seeing a concert. Long (frustrating) story short, dinner at the nice restaurant didn’t work out, and we were a little too pressed for time to try making new plans. We ended up at a pizza and beer joint where we ordered dinner by the slice at a counter, and ate in a dirty booth. Not that I had anything against pizza and beer (I love it! Promise!), it just wasn’t what we’d had in mind. We were dressed up and ready for a fancy meal. But you know what? We had a great time. We’d gone to that pizza joint a hundred times while we were dating, with and without friends, and it was a fun little throwback to our younger, freer selves.

You know what else? After a couple of hours of music and dancing, before we headed back home to responsibilities and a babysitter to pay, we went to the location of our first “hang out.” (I’m hesitant to even call it a date.) We ended up right there in another dirty booth, eating gargantuans at the Jimmy John’s on the edge of his college campus. We giggled and flirted and touched our feet under the table with butterflies in our tummies, remembering who we had been 8 1/2 years ago. We reminisced about those old times, and talked about how we love where we are right now, even when it’s hard. 

I looked right across the table and into the eyes of the boy I loved. And I was thrilled to see that my husband looked just like him. 

Hubby Is 30!

In honor of my amazing, talented, hilarious, handsome, wonderful, giving, loving Hubby’s dirty thirtieth birthday, I’d like to show this little collection of photos…

Before this happened…


There were these two kids, on the night they met, at a Halloween party (right after the church service they played together)…

You know, just trying to make scary faces with the cute guy you just met.

They were together a lot after that…

This is our “college formal” face.

And I mean a lot…

Our “middle school dance” date. He put a lot of work into that one!

Until one day, he proposed for real…

This remains the only picture of us from that night. And we’re still making that stupid “college formal” face.

Practiced getting married…

Post rehearsal dinner shenanigans.

And really did it…

This is totally characteristic of our relationship.
This is totally characteristic of our relationship.

Then we bought a house…

We bought our house on the way to the airport to go to Italy. Obviously.

Shaved his head for children’s cancer…

He’s done it several times, but this was the year he also raised $200 for his trashy mustache.

Went to this bar, our favorite bar, for 90 days in a row… three times…

Finnigan’s Wake will always be home base for us.

And then we got pregnant and had this sweet gal…

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All of a sudden… parents!

I watched him become the most amazing dad…

They’re still besties.

And then we did that a time or two more…

I’m a little bit pregnant with J in this one…
And I’m a LOT pregnant with him here.
And here I’m a couple weeks away from having D!

With a few breaks for being awesome in between…

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Singing in his wedding band was still one of the most fun nights of my life!
Just a little family partying.
Just a little family partying.

All in all, I wouldn’t do life any differently or with anyone else. Hubby’s my rock. He’s my personal chef, my confidant, my treasured friend, my only lover, my companion, my “I need to tag out!” or “I can’t do this alone!” rescuer. He is my everything, and I can’t wait to spend the next thirty years with him. 30 looks good on you, babe. Happy birthday.

Happy to Say “I Do”

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

When Hubby and I got engaged, we both, separately and together, got bits of advice from tons of people, such as “When you’re married, spontaneity stops.” or “Your life is over.” or “You don’t have as much fun.” For us, that simply wasn’t true. We didn’t stop hanging out with our single friends, we didn’t stop going out and partying, and we didn’t feel like our lives were over. Quite the opposite, actually.

There’s been a little meme floating around that I’ve seen floating around the Internet recently:


It’s a bit cheesy, but I love it! I think it’s very true for me… I would’ve loved to not date the guys who didn’t treat me well or weren’t matched well with me. I would’ve loved to not have to wait as a single gal while my friends started finding their forevers. I would’ve loved to know Hubby was right there, beside me, long before he was there in reality.

But when we got married, life started. I was thrilled to come home to him each day, knowing that he loved me well and we would do something fun together that evening – because anything I did with him was fun. We got to know each other better and better, and loved each other more and more. We traveled, worked and played. We talked of buying a home and starting a family, and then we did those things! All the while he has prayed for me and loved me well, even in the moments that I don’t do the same for him.

Do we have the perfect marriage? No, I’m sure we don’t. There are always things to work on, and our lives are constantly changing. But a marriage is made of choices. I can choose to be frustrated first, or be understanding first. I can choose to say unkind words, or kind ones. I can choose to believe the best in my husband. I can choose to raise the bar and know he will reach it, because he’s awesome and as his wife, I can encourage and support him.

I know that with six years under our belts, we aren’t veterans at marriage, or qualified to give advice. But I can give encouragement: marriage is a gift, and love is a choice. If you treat them as such, you’ll probably find that they’re easier and more fun than you expected. Even with your third kid on the way, drowning in laundry, doing your best to keep up with just the basics of life, you can be ridiculously happy in your marriage, and genuinely look forward to the rest of your lives together.

Currently – Ella Kate’s Birthday!

Okay, so this edition of Currently didn’t quite go up on time, but I’ve been so busy celebrating my wonderful, smart, gorgeous THREE-year-old that I’ve barely had time for anything else!

We spent all of last week getting the basement at least partially ready for guests (I mean, not all the way, but there were places to sleep!) and getting ready for EK’s party on Saturday. As (I think) I mentioned before, her requested theme was “princesses, pizza, and painting” and I’ll say – we sure accomplished all three! Here are some highlights before I start my regular “currently”.

Sweet college friends who made my weekend!
Amazing tie-dye princess cupcakes made by my sweet friend, Lauren! (If you’re local, she’s for hire!)
EK was really impressed with the cupcakes.
Just a few of EK’s sweet cousins and friends who came to celebrate! I got everyone looking but her, ha!
Yesterday’s outfit. Underneath the hoodie, the dress says “Birthday Girl”.


Kiddos enjoying one of the presents… it’s a pretty cool little castle!


Now for my semi-normal currently – linking up as usual with Becky at Choose Happy and the other fabulous bloggers from all over! Join us!

currently button

Thankful for || an amazing weekend (and day today!) of celebrating my incredible daughter, who I CANNOT BELIEVE is 3! It seems like just yesterday that she was a teeny little squish, and now she’s talking 90 miles a minute, running, dancing, playing and showing me she’s an incredible person, inside and out. It totally rocks me if I sit and think about it. Okay – I’m gonna cry. Moving on…

I’m thankful for several more things, so I’m going to lay them all down, list-style: my mom, who spent the entire week helping us clean, entertaining the kids while Hubby and I organized and rearranged the basement, and letting us go on TWO dates while she was here! Total win, Mom. Thanks!. Also, thankful for a mother-in-law who helps move furniture, hang pictures, work in the yard, and spoil children. She’s a great lady, as well! Thankful for sweet college girlfriends who slumber party with my in my partially-furnished basement, spoil my daughter, and make me feel like I’m ten years younger again. Thanks, gals. I love you. Lastly, thankful for an incredible husband, who puts up with my hormonal mood swings and my never-ending honey-do list, loves our children in a way so mind-blowing that I can’t describe its awesomeness, and still manages to have time to do wonderful things for me and make me feel special, even when I feel like a crazy, sobbing, way-too-pregnant cow. Yep. I went there. Love ya, babe.

Eating || my mom’s homemade spaghetti recipe, with a little change. It’s canned tomatoes and sauce, basil, oregano, garlic, onion, and ground beef. Last night, I used fresh tomatoes, fresh oregano (from our garden, that had somehow survived (and flourished after!) winter – not so for the basil), and added some grated carrots and some frozen spinach. Surprisingly, the kiddos couldn’t tell about the veggies, and the oregano made the whole thing pop! Yum.

Dreaming of || my facial on Friday, and the fact that I might ALSO get my nails done. Y’all, I need a couple of hours of pampering after a busy and stressful few weeks, and I’m MORE THAN EXCITED about it on Friday. Can I get an amen?!

Planning || big blog things for the next few weeks and months. I’m going to start asking for opinions, stories, and requests for what you’d like to hear about. In fact, go ahead and leave those in the comments! I’ll start collecting today!

Thanks for joining me on my birthday edition of Currently! What have you been up to?

Wifely Bragging Rights

A friend of mine posted in a Facebook group recently that she had heard too much recently about wives/moms/girlfriends doing some man-bashing. She suggested that women collectively take a few minutes to brag on their fellas. Naturally, being married to the best fella in the world, I figured I’d jump on in there!

This one is from the St. Patrick's party last weekend!
This one is from the St. Patrick’s party last weekend!

Y’all, my Hubby is a rockstar. I mean that literally and figuratively. He literally is the front man (a sexy one) in a band that plays and writes awesome music all the time. That makes him a rockstar. He’s also the most loving, patient, and hilarious husband and father I could ask to have a family with. He’s encouraging, challenging (in a good way), exciting, caring, and a hundred other things I would never have time to list, much less explain. In short, love of my life. Big time.

Photo Cred. to my incredible wedding photographer, Eleise Theuer. She is the bomb, y'all.
Photo Cred. to my incredible wedding photographer, Eleise Theuer. She is the bomb, y’all.

One of my favorite things about him is that he is fun. He can take a boring situation and make it awesome. He can cheer up a hormonal pregnant woman, a tired toddler, or a cranky baby. He can make you laugh while you’re crying. He can make you forget all your troubles, at least for a minute. He’s the best.

Hubby's brother snapped this one when we were in the reception band at his cousin's wedding last summer!
Hubby’s brother snapped this one when we were in the reception band at his cousin’s wedding last summer!

I often find myself watching something (like the Bachelor) or talking to a single girlfriend about a terrible date, and thinking “I’m so glad I’m married.” I mean that on the surface level, in an I-will-never-have-to-go-on-a-first-date way, and also a deeper way – I know I’m married to the best man in the world, and I’d never choose another path. I keep hearing Taylor Swift’s lyrics in Blank Space, “Boys only want love if its torture…” and thinking of all the women I know that have found that to be true. Then I think about how I will never again experience torture, or even unhappiness in my love life.

Also, he is the most incredible, totally competent, loving, nurturing dad I’ve ever seen. He kept EK and then J as well for two years while I taught full time. I never worried for one minute that they’d be anything but perfectly cared for. He is an amazing cook, and is always able to please the picky eaters – and his wife! He is an awesome photographer, and getting better every day. Here’s a sample of his magic:

EK in my mother-in-law's magical backyard.
EK in my mother-in-law’s magical backyard.

I’d never be able to say everything I want to and could possibly brag on him about, so I suppose I’ll spare you a full-on rant. But he truly is the most wonderful Hubby ever. I love him from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. I love him on his good days and his bad (though there aren’t many of those). I’m the most blessed woman on the planet. Really. I love you, babe.

What I Know Now

When Hubby and I got engaged, all our married friends were telling us to go out, party, and hang out with our single friends while we still could. Because, of course, we could never go out without our spouse. They told us to get ready to stay in every night and never see other people and be boring and lame. At least that’s what it sounded like to me.

While I was pregnant with EK, I heard all those cautionary tales from friends and family about “Get sleep before the baby comes!” and “Enjoy your pedicures and massages before the baby comes!” and “Have lots of date nights with your husband before the baby comes!” Well, it sure sounded like my life would be over after I had that silly baby.

Then when I got pregnant with my second, there was a lot of “Enjoy the time with just one!” and “Spend lots of one on one time with your daughter before your son arrives!” as if somehow I wouldn’t see my daughter again, and my son would totally take me over and I wouldn’t want my daughter.

Well folks, let me debunk those lies. Your life isn’t over when you get married, or start having kids. It is only beginning. I have more love in my heart than I ever thought possible. Hubby and I party, and hang out with friends, and go out. I still *gasp!* get pedicures and massages. It may take a little more planning, and I don’t necessarily go on a whim, but I still do it. I still have date nights with Hubby – and he is more attractive and lovable to me than ever. Seeing him as a father, first to our daughter and now to our son, has filled me with such love and pride and happiness that I could never fully describe to you. It amazes me how much I can love him loving our kids.

To the naysayers who believe (or who are just telling themselves) that the only way to truly live is to be single and mingle, well, you don’t know anything about it. I’m not saying that if you’re single, or if you don’t have kids, that your life can’t be fulfilling. It can! Marriage isn’t for everyone, and neither are kids. But just because marriage and kids are for me, do not tell me that my life will be over. Don’t tell me that I should enjoy my free time while I have it. I would never change my life for a minute. My husband is my rock, my best friend, and the person I choose to spend time with every time. My kids are my little loves, my proteges (haha, right?), and my most fun and hilarious, if unpredictable, companions. Yes, Hubby and I bicker and get on each others’ nerves. Yes, my kids have rough days and I get frustrated with them. Yes, sometimes I need a girls night (or weekend, let me be honest) to rest, recoup and regenerate. But does that mean I regret any of the decisions I’ve made, or wish that I wasn’t in the position I’m in? Absolutely not. My family is my everything, on good days and bad, on days when they make a fabulous dinner, use the potty, and don’t have teething issues, and on days when we go through diapers like they’re grains of sand and the blueberries from breakfast are still smashed into the floor at dinner, which is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

This is totally characteristic of our relationship.
This is totally characteristic of our relationship.

I don’t want you to think my life is perfect. If you know me, or read this blog, then you know that. But seriously… my family is the best. They are my everything. And I wouldn’t trade them. It’s my 2015 motto (in lieu of a resolution, remember?): Embrace it. Embrace this life. Embrace these people. Embrace all of the things.

My crazy family that I love.
My crazy family that I love.

Reconnecting With Your Spouse

Photo Cred. our amazing wedding photographer Eleise Theuer (http://www.eleisetheuerphotography.com)
Photo Cred. our amazing wedding photographer Eleise Theuer (http://www.eleisetheuerphotography.com)

How is it that Hubby and I can live in the same house, have mostly the same friends, work often from home, raise the same kids, and feel like we haven’t had a real conversation recently?! It seems silly that we could spend a lot of time together, and not feel like it’s quality time. I’ve actually heard, in the past two days, two other couples say that same thing: we haven’t gotten to really talk recently. For Hubby and me, it goes like this: sometimes, by the time we are alone together, it’s 8:30pm, there are dishes to be done, laundry to be folded, and we are bone tired. Other times, it seems that we have so much to talk about that we can’t stay on one thing for very long. We’re trying to talk about life and feelings and opinions, but we end up talking about grocery lists and “don’t forget EK has preschool tomorrow.”

As a wife who needs some connection and conversation from her Hubby (who also craves that connection), I’ve thought of a few things I’d like to try.

First of all, Hubby’s going to be out of town this weekend. That means that the only way to connect is to talk. We can’t snuggle, we can’t do things for each other, we can’t share a meal together. But we can ask some of those questions, or share those feelings over the phone. It’s definitely a different beast to talk on the phone rather than in person (can’t see the body language or facial expressions, can’t get hugs or see smiles – aka the worst) but it’s a start. Sometimes, conversations can be started on the phone and finished later.

Secondly, I’m going to try to keep the “housekeeping” items concise and necessary only. I have realized that I can use up all of Hubby’s energy and patience on what needs to be cleaned, where the kids’ this-and-thats are, and what we are doing for dinner tonight. I can clean it, I can find it, I can make a plan, and require much less of him in that department. I’m not saying he won’t have input about dinner and that he won’t have to clean anything. But I’m saying I’m going to nag less and communicate more intentionally.

Thirdly, I need an attitude adjustment. Sometimes my role as nag (see #2) can drown my role as wife. I neeeeever want that to be the case, but my OCD and planner’s brain take hold of me, and all I can see are to-do lists and calendars. It’s a vice, for sure, to always think this way, especially because I really do love spur-of-the-moment activities. I love when my sisters-in-law call me and invite us to dinner or to a play date on the spot, and I love when Hubby wants to go out for drinks or to hear music in two hours, leaving me scrambling for a last minute babysitter. I am okay with it! But sometimes doing that too often creeps into the “I never know what’s going to happen” realm, and I freak out.

Last one… speaking of going out for drinks or to hear live music, Hubby and I often go on dates with friends or to places where we know we will run into people we know. We have wonderful friends that we love, and we really like going out on dates to places we can’t take our kids. But it has dawned on me that we need a few dates soon that are just the two of us. Luckily, we aren’t one of those couples that those words (just-the-two-of-us) scare us. We love time with just us, we have great conversation, and (at least) I always feel fuller and more complete when we’ve had time to connect and talk by ourselves. So that’s on my radar for the next week or two, also. At least one date. Hubby and me, out together, alone. That’s it.

How do you reconnect with your spouse during a busy season? If you’re a parent of small kids, how do you find time for adult conversation, past grocery lists and holiday plans?