Relationships

Twenty-Six Years of Married Bliss and Counting

We celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary on May 26th. Actually, we didn’t celebrate it, we were both too busy working to really acknowledge the actual day, but we did go out and eat at Outback Steakhouse the day after our anniversary.

(Side note: We took a  cruise around the Hawaiian Islands last year for our 25th wedding anniversary – no, I haven’t written about that time yet … stop nagging).

And we used half of the gift card that the doctor I work for gave me for Christmas two years ago. (I had actually forgotten I had it. We used half of it so it would give us an excuse to go back a second time – we smart!)

It was a great dinner. I had steak tips and Kevin had a Ribeye, I think. We talked about possibly going somewhere for vacation this year  but I think I have him convinced to just keep it low key this time, stay home, save some money, pay off our homequity loan. This is going to make me sound spoiled, and I guess, since we’re being honest here, I AM spoiled, but I’m burned out on cruises. We’ve taken a cruise for the past seven (?) years straight – I need a break. Let’s stay on land for a bit.

I’m not going to say our marriage is perfect, how nauseating would that be, but we have a pretty great relationship. He spoils me and in exchange, I pretty much let him do anything he wants. Now that he has Roy to hang out with and who never tells him no, (and who worships the ground he walks on), he has a buddy to go do things with – go to garage sales, fix things around the house, projects, go fishing … everything that I hate to do. lol

In return, I get to do what I want to do on the weekends – keep myself company, read, write, take naps, it’s a win-win situation, to be honest.

Our wedding was pretty low key. Since neither one of us belong to a church, I shopped around for churches until I found a really pretty one and we rented it. We paid for our own wedding and we kept it cheap. (Side note: my mom made my dress – isn’t it pretty!?) But we couldn’t justify spending thousands of dollars on something that would last two hours and be over with. We preferred to save our money and spend it on the honeymoon (Cozumel Mexico).

A friend of mine did my makeup and hair, we drank punch out of  fancy paper cups and I wore ballet slippers because I didn’t want to be taller than Kevin. Kevin forgot to wear black socks with his tux so the photographer, (who nearly had a heart attack), had to put my bouquet of flowers in front of him to disguise his white basketball socks when he sat on the pew steps for pictures – good times.

I knew he was the one as soon as I met him. I didn’t think about marriage when I met him, but I knew what I felt for him was different than what I felt for any other guy. He made me laugh, he made me want to be a better person. He was frugal (he was going to school to be an accountant – DREAM MAN), resourceful, smart and sweet.

Our marriage has not been perfect, we’ve had our shares of ups and downs (7-year itch – that was a really tough, unpleasant year and that’s all I’ll say about that), but we grew, we changed, we adapted. I can honestly say we’re not the same people we were when we got married, we’re better.

What’s the secret to our successful marriage? Patience. Respect. Communication. Carving out time for each other. Really, what I’m telling you is nothing new. All of the marriage advice sites you read tips on are right – it’s about listening and appreciating each other and not taking each other for granted though I confess, we do that sometimes.

I can’t imagine sharing my life with anyone else. I have a very difficult time allowing anyone close to my heart, but I can honestly say that Kevin is near and dear to me and that scares me a bit. I was reading back when he had his motorcycle accident in 2010 and I can’t begin to describe to you the debilitating fear I felt when went to the hospital for the first time and saw him lying there so helpless – he’s the least helpless person I’ve ever known in my life. I think that accident also brought us closer – how can you not be drawn closer to a person when he relies on you to help him poop?

I think people regard marriage as throwaway events nowadays. “Well, if this doesn’t work out, we’ll just get divorced.” I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people say that and it horrifies me. If you honestly think that, then do yourself, your partner, and any future children a favor, don’t get married. If you’re already looking for ways to get out of a serious commitment before it even begins, there’s your sign – don’t go down that road.

We made a pact, we would never mention the “D” word. And we haven’t, save for that patchy 7-year itch period of time. Any fights we had, we cooled down, we listened to each other, we owned up to our own shortcomings and assumptions and we compromised. You have to be willing to swallow a bitter humility pill once, twice, a hundred times, when you’re married for the long haul.

I found this interesting bit on how to have a successful relationship from Tech Insider. Watch, learn, absorb, practice.

 

Facebook Stories, Relationships

Commitment is Too Hard Nowadays

LOVE this article!! This was linked on Facebook and honestly, I don’t have much to add. It’s spot on. It perfectly describes the social media age.

And if you wonder why you can’t commit, or if someone you love can’t commit, consider this article. It might save your relationship and possibly teach you long-term happiness.

When we choose—if we commit—we are still one eye wandering at the options. We want the beautiful cut of filet mignon, but we’re too busy eyeing the mediocre buffet, because choice. Because choice. Our choices are killing us. We think choice means something. We think opportunity is good. We think the more chances we have, the better. But, it makes everything watered-down. Never mind actually feeling satisfied, we don’t even understand what satisfaction looks like, sounds like, feels like. We’re one foot out the door, because outside that door is more, more, more. We don’t see who’s right in front of our eyes asking to be loved, because no one is asking to be loved. We long for something that we still want to believe exists. Yet, we are looking for the next thrill, the next jolt of excitement, the next instant gratification.

We soothe ourselves and distract ourselves and, if we can’t even face the demons inside our own brain, how can we be expected to stick something out, to love someone even when it’s not easy to love them? We bail. We leave. We see a limitless world in a way that no generation before us has seen. We can open up a new tab, look at pictures of Portugal, pull out a Visa, and book a plane ticket. We don’t do this, but we can. The point is that we know we can, even if we don’t have the resources to do so. There are always other tantalizing options. Open up Instagram and see the lives of others, the life we could have. See the places we’re not traveling to. See the lives we’re not living. See the people we’re not dating. We bombard ourselves with stimuli, input, input, input, and we wonder why we’re miserable. We wonder why we’re dissatisfied. We wonder why nothing lasts and everything feels a little hopeless. Because, we have no idea how to see our lives for what they are, instead of what they aren’t.

Read more…

Relationships

I’m Too Busy to Pay Attention to You

I’m busy. Are you busy? It’s almost “cool” to admit we’re busy nowadays, don’t you think?

Case in point: Whenever I talk to my mother-in-law, her life is crazy busy. She never has time to read, or watch TV, or relax in any way. And okay, fine, maybe she doesn’t. But if she really wanted to do those things, then she would make the time. Something else would give in her life and she would make it happen.

Whenever I ask her if she’s read any good books, or has watched any movies lately, her response is always “I don’t have time for those things.” I get annoyed. Of course you have time for those things, she would just rather spend her time doing other things – she doesn’t WANT to do those things. I’m cool with that. It’s her time, she can do whatever she wants with that time. But be honest, why not just say, “I don’t really like to read or watch TV, I’d rather do X, Y, and Z.”

I’d have more respect for her answer if she were honest. Instead, it sounds cooler to simply say, “I don’t have time for that.”

And then, when I pin her down and make her break down her day to me, it astounds me how much time she actually wastes by mismanaging her day. For example: she wanted rocky road ice cream one day. Instead of going to the store and picking up a box of rocky road ice cream, she spent two hours driving around to different facilities looking for rocky road ice cream.

See what I mean?

Since my life is all about multi-tasking now, time is precious. I have learned to make the most of time and try very hard to make every second count. That’s why I’m utterly exhausted on the weekends – because I allow myself to relax and yet can’t, there are household chores that have to be tended to because there is no way in Hades they’re getting done during the week; I’m simply out of steam.

And then … there’s Kevin. He deserves attention. And I would rather give that time to him than to the house – the house can wait. This is not to say that we don’t ignore each other or we simply don’t have enough energy for each other, we don’t, but I think both of us are consciously aware that we don’t spend a lot of time with each other right now (Kevin is working seven days a week right now with this Intuit / Tax support gig. He doesn’t have to, but he chooses to and though I’m not thrilled that he’s working himself to death, it’s his choice), so we make the moments count.

And being intimate is a hard … chore (because let’s be real, sometimes it IS a chore) to fit in sometimes.

But it’s necessary. Not for me. I could care less (which is part of the problem, quite frankly), but I know HE cares and he’s SO MUCH MORE LIKABLE to be around whenever his physical needs have been met. So I meet them. I make an effort. I drink an extra cup of coffee, or down a Monster drink late in the day and I meet those needs for him. Not for me, because I’m good with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, but I know he’s not – so I consciously keep that need in mind and plan accordingly.

You have to. If you’re married, you have to do this. It’s just the way men and women are programmed. Men need the physical – there’s no way around that fact. And women need the emotional. The challenge is to meet those needs. THAT’S LOVE. That’s what makes marriage work; it’s being aware, and respecting, what your partner needs.

And then making every effort to meet those needs – whether WE feel like it or not.

We’ll have been married 23 years this upcoming May. Things are good. At least, I THINK they’re good. And even though I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time, I’m assuming I’m doing something right.

Meeting the physical (and emotional) needs of my partner is definitely a step in the right direction.

Relationships

Is Happiness a Moral Obligation?

“We are as happy as we decide to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

This quote implies that we are in control of our happiness. I believe that is true.

Moral obligation might be pushing it a bit, but I think we do owe our fellow human beings a pleasant demeanor and a happy face, even if, scratch that, ESPECIALLY WHEN we least feel like it.

Happiness is a state of mind. We can DECIDE to be happy or DECIDE to be unhappy. It’s all in how you view the world around you.

Bad things happen to everyone.

EVERYONE.

Regardless of race, sex, or bank balance. The key to life is how you handle the bad situation. And it’s not fair to take our bad mood, or crappy circumstances, out on the people around us. I preach that lesson to my boys all the time. It’s not MY fault that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed – get over it. And I don’t care how grumpy you feel, force yourself to smile at people. And you want to know the weird part? If you force yourself to be happy, guess what happens.

YOU FEEL HAPPIER.

Don’t believe me? Try it.

I dare you.

Happiness is not about ME, it’s about making OTHER people happy. It’s about what I can do for other people, not what can people do for me. (Sound familiar?)

Happiness is not about being selfish. Though it’s important to find things that make us happy, it’s equally, if not more so, as important to help other people feel happy, too.

Relationships

Is An Emotional Affair Cheating?

I’m not even sure calling it an “affair” is the correct term. Sure, it can turn into one, but I think the initial stage is more of a connection – an emotional connection with someone other than your spouse is a dangerous door to peek through.

This is my response to the following Momversation video, which, incidentally, you’ll have to click over to watch if you’re reading this via email or RSS feed. Sorry about that.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“I’m his wife, not his life.”

That line probably ranks as one of my favorite top-ten sayings. It packs such a punch, don’t you think? And I would have agree. Kevin and I are close, but I wouldn’t presume that his world revolves around mine, nor mine his. He is free to do things with his band buddies, and I’m free to pursue my own interests.

Within reason, of course.

I tell him everything, whether he wants to hear it or not. I know that a lot of what I tell him, my thoughts, feelings, hunches, and mundane details of everyday living goes in one ear and out the other. I can tell when he’s not really paying attention and only humoring me and I’m generally okay with his lack of interest – after all, it IS boring and a lot of times I’m spewing just to get it off my chest or I’m trying to work something out in my own head.

I tell him everything because he’s all I have. I don’t have a close girlfriend to confide in and sometimes I just need to clear my head or it will explode. And that’s NEVER a pretty sight, let me assure you.

I tell him everything because he’s my best friend. So I guess I have trouble understanding why a woman wouldn’t WANT to tell her husband everything because I have a hard time understanding why a woman would marry a man she didn’t at least consider a close friend.

And I’m talking emotionally, not physically.

Hey, I get it. Men are not emotional creatures. I don’t expect them to be, I wouldn’t WANT them to be. I like my men to be MEN, thank you very much. (Which loosely translates into a male who is confident with himself, with his opinions and beliefs and who isn’t wishy-washy or squeamish).

However, women are very much emotional creatures. Women connect first and foremost via emotions, so when a man attempts to connect with her on an emotional level, then that relationship is taken to a whole new level.

Whether you’re married or not.

I think we need to differentiate between what you would tell a friend and what you would tell a lover. I really like what Maggie said about there being a difference between “emotional sustenance” and “having an affair.” Women crave emotional sustenance. It’s how we’re programmed. The key to opening up any woman is to tap into her emotional needs. And by that I mean, listening to her, making her feel special, respecting her opinions, being playful with her (without being too sexual, at least initially, men have to build that bridge before crossing it), making her feel sexy and beautiful THEN, and only after THEN, can a woman fully respond to sexual advances.

Just like with orgasms, women take a while to reach that heightened pleasure because it’s not about physically teasing her, (though that certainly HELPS), but rather about emotionally teasing her first.

So when a woman feels like she can connect with a man on an emotional level, she’s instantly attracted to that man (and not necessarily physically, but on a deeper, more intimate level – remember, it’s about emotions for women, not physical), she has to be very careful how far she allows the attraction to advance. Especially if she’s committed to another person because it’s soooo easy to fall into an emotional trap – especially if the woman’s emotional needs aren’t being met at home.

(Which is a lesson for you men out there – fill your woman’s emotional cup up and you’re pretty much good to go on every other level).

When you have an emotional affair with someone, you’re allowing yourself to value that person’s feelings more than your spouse’s feelings. You begin to think about that person more than you think about your spouse. You begin to pay attention to your appearance because now that that emotional abyss has been crossed, the next step is a physical validation. You know that special someone is attracted to you emotionally, now let’s see if they’re physically attracted to you. You have reserved a spot in your heart for that special “friend” and before long, there is no longer any room in your heart for your spouse.

Here is a pretty good definition from About.com:

An emotional affair can lead to a physical affair
An emotional affair begins with the exchange of personal information. As the people involved get acquainted, the information becomes more personal. Some argue that an emotional affair is harmless because it is more of a casual relationship than traditional cheating; however, the intimate nature of the communication, plus the emotional investment made by the people involved, places an emotional affair on the same level or worse as traditional cheating.

It is much more dangerous for a marriage should your spouse connect with someone emotionally than physically. Anyone who finds himself or herself drawn to another person on an emotional level should consider the possible consequences of such an affair. Emotional affairs are just as likely to lead to divorce and physical affairs.

The danger of an emotional affair
While it is healthy and normal for people to have friendships outside the marriage with men and women, an emotional affair threatens the emotional bond between spouses. Friendships are based on attraction, in that we are drawn to various qualities of our friends. Healthy friendships and attractions don’t need to threaten a marriage at all, but add richness and enjoyment to life. When an attraction turns into an obsession or into an affair, it can become harmful to everyone involved and nothing is more harmful to a marriage than the breakdown of the emotional bond marital partners have for each other.

It really boils down to respect. I respect Kevin too much to put me, or him, in an emotionally charged situation. Hence the biggest reason I haven’t “friended” any old boyfriends on Facebook. That’s just not a door I’m not willing to, nor should, open. Ever. I expect the same from him. Once you’ve opened yourself up to another person, then it’s just too easy to go down that same road again.

It’s better just to block off that road altogether.

Keep friendships with the opposite sex platonic. If it feels like it’s crossing the platonic line, then cut it off, no matter how painful it might be. Your spouse deserves the chance to fill the same void that “friend” was filling. And that can only happen if you open the lines of communication. TALK to your spouse. Seek marriage counseling if the two of you can’t bridge the communication gap. All marriages deserve at least one fighting chance.

Think you might be heading toward an emotional affair? Here are some warning signs then build a relationship with a foundation of friendship and trust.

Here’s a comment from the momversation page that addresses Rebecca’s “I’m his wife, not his life,” comment.

The way I see it is if one shares feelings, secrets, and precious thoughts with someone else either than their spouse then the marriage is in trouble to begin with. I would be heart broken if I found out my husband did not think that we were at that intimate level and had to find someone else to share it with.

I completely agree.

We all crave a deep, emotional bond with other human beings – whether it’s a platonic connection (close friends) or a deep emotional connection (a serious relationship). I would propose that if one is not getting that deep, emotional connection with one’s spouse, then there might be some underlying problems that deserve further attention. I don’t think willingly having emotionally “satisfying” relationships outside of the marriage is exactly a wise decision.

Yet another argument to slow down and choose your life partner carefully. If there isn’t an emotional connection to begin with, then maybe that’s not the relationship for you.

Just food for thought.

Relationships

Spring Cleaning Your Marriage

Magic Kiss I routinely keep track of two relationship blogs (and if you know of any others that you like, please pass on the links!); Marriage Gems and Project Happily Ever After. And often times, I will read something and think, “OH! I should blog about my own experience with that,” or, “OH! If only more people knew about that little relationship trick.”

So here we are.

I read “Eight Ways to Spring Clean Your Life & Relationships” and thought I’d share my thoughts and experiences with you on the eight things suggested:

1. Clear the air – this was specially hard to do when we were both younger. He would (and still does, to some extent) keep things bottled up so long that they began to fester and grow until finally, he would blow up at me over the stupidest thing. I would be incredulous over what he was upset about and I would chime in and the fight was ON.

I’ve learned to look below the surface of his annoyance and pinpoint the problem. I’ve also worked on him TALKING to me at the time he’s upset so that we can work on whatever it is that is bugging him. It’s not always easy to face (because it’s inevitably something I did, or didn’t do), but it’s easier to deal with it at that moment in time than opposed to later.

Now me? I don’t have a problem telling him what I’m thinking, feeling or if he did something to bug me. NO communication problems on my end, I assure you. (*grin*)

2. Make room for new commitments – This one is a toughie because it’s so easy to get stuck in the same old routine day in and day out. However, he’s recently opened his own office and I’ve been looking for a job, so things are pretty shaken up in our work lives. We also try and take one fun family vacation a year because it’s important to me to make new family memories. We’re going to Disney World and cruising to the Bahamas this year. We definitely make room in our lives for new commitments.

3. If you’ve been building up resentment, it’s time to dust it off and unload past hurts – Our marriage has definitely not been a bed of roses all of these years. We’ve done a lot to hurt each other – some of these things are pretty heavy duty and not for public consumption, but suffice it to say, it took us a LONG time to forgive each other for some of the things we did in the past. You just have to learn from the experience, take responsiblity and be grown ups about what happened and what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.

4. Are there proverbial cobwebs around the marital bed? – This is probably his number one complaint about me. I’m not a very affectionate person. I’ve hurt him NUMEROUS times with my coldness. I know this. He accepts it. BUT I’ve been working on making that better. In other words, I’ve been working on ME. We compromise. And I just accept the fact that he’s a man and has certain needs. We’ve gone round and ROUND on this issue and though it still hasn’t been fully resolved, we’re better about this part of our relationship than we have been in the past.

5. Give thought to spiffing up your appearance – This one is so easy to lose track of. You get comfortable, you let yourself go … it adds up to low self-esteem and disinterest – in yourself and in your partner. I’m TOTALLY guilty of this one. I try to keep my weight under control (although I’m currently under a strict no chocolate/no pastry diet because I’ve gotten a little too carried away lately), but I’ll be the first to admit, I could do MUCH better on my wardrobe. I’ve been a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom for a number of years now and I pretty much LIVE in t-shirts and sweats.

Sexy, right?

Um, no.

When Kevin opened up his business office and asked me if I wanted to take over the other office to work on my websites, I think he did it primarily to get me out of sweats, because he was sick of seeing me in sweats all the time. Oh sure, I would dress up if we went out into public, but that wasn’t very often. He never said anything, but when I started dressing up to go into the office, he said, “It’s nice to see you out of sweats.”

So … yeah, it must have bothered him.

I’m working on this one. I’m working on trying to change my look a bit, and I’ve been buying slacks and have been looking for more dressy-type clothing. I just know how I would feel if Kevin walked around in sweats all day, every day and … yeah, it’s time to step up my hotness. *wink*

6. Clean and organize areas where you spend the most time – I sort of HAVE to work on this one because clutter makes Kevin one CRANKY man. In fact, that’s one of the things we’ve had to compromise on over the years. He comes from a family of neat freaks – and I mean that in the most loving way – and I don’t. My family is neat, don’t get me wrong, it’s just somewhere down the pipeline, I missed out on the neat gene.

I’m not neat, if I wasn’t clear on that.

That’s why Kevin is so good for me, and I him – we complement each other.

BUT, when we first got married, the man expected me to keep house like his mother did (does). Cleaning house is my mother-in-law’s hobby. Let me set the record straight – cleaning house is not something I look forward to OR enjoy. EVER. I do it because I don’t want to live in a pigsty. So when Kevin would come home from work and the house would be a mess and/or dinner wasn’t ready (because I had two small boys under my feet), he would get irritated, which would irritate me and a fight would be simmering just under the surface until one of us couldn’t take the tension anymore.

After one such blow out, we decided to compromise on the house cleaning thing – I asked him what absolutely drove him nuts and it was the kitchen. Now, I work to keep the kitchen clean (okay, livable) and he relaxes on the rest of the house.

Dude. You didn’t marry June Cleaver, stop trying to make me into June Cleaver. I will do my best but you have to adjust your expectations a bit. (Yes. I’ve actually said that to him before).

7. Check tarnished relationships – yes, yes and YES. Troublesome family members and/or old “friends” will drive a wedge between you if you allow them to. Sometimes it’s unintentional, but sometimes, it’s not. I’ve learned, from my own experiences, that some people just can’t stand it when others are happy. For whatever reasons, whether it’s their own unhappiness, or their own relationships that have gone sour, some people take great delight in trying to separate two good people.

That’s why Kevin and I have absolutely no desire to reconnect with old flames on Facebook. I’ve had an old boyfriend try to “friend” me several times on Facebook and each time, I just ignore him. It’s not that I’m not curious to hear how he’s doing, but I just don’t want to go down that road to find out. The road to old relationships is closed to me and to Kevin. It’s just not worth the potential problems it might cause.

We’ve been blessed with some pretty awesome families, so we haven’t had problems with family members trying to cause trouble, but I know there are a lot of people out there that DO have problems with family members, (and this includes children!!), and when it comes to your marriage, you just have to either work it out or snip it off. Harsh? Perhaps. But keeping a marriage strong requires commitment from both parties and that includes forming a strong alliance against potential trouble makers.

8. Keep it maintained – Marriage is a constant work in progress. You can’t work really hard on your marriage one day and then sit back and think, “I’m done! I have a good marriage!” It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. Things change, people change, emotions vary, every day is a unique challenge and some days are harder than others.

But let me give you a piece of advice, from a veteran wife – it all starts with YOU. Change your attitude and your expectations first, and then go from there. Trust me. 🙂

Click over to Marriage Gems for many valuable links to some pretty awesome (and helpful) marriage information sites and ebooks.

UPDATE: Just read an interesting, raw and honest post about marriage. I love it when people self-analyze and are honest with themselves.

Prompt Fiction, Relationships

Focusing on What Was Important

The assignment was: after you have died, your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see?

Choosing five minutes of my life to share with my boys was really hard. I’ve had so many wonderful moments in my life that settling on a mere five minutes seemed impossible at first. But I thought about it. I patiently inserted slides of my life into the projector and this was the slide that made me smile; this was the moment I knew my life had changed forever.

_______________________________________

“Grab your camera and let’s go.”

“Where are we going?” I asked while grabbing my camera. I didn’t hesitate. I was ready to follow him anywhere. I trusted him. I liked him. I looked forward to spending time with him. I might even have loved him.

“To the lake. Let’s take some pictures. I’ll teach you some techniques.”

So, we left. The day was chilly, but I was warm enough in my jean jacket. I worried that the wind would mess up my hair because I wanted to look good for him under all conditions. I wanted him to be proud of me; his opinion meant something to me.

Which was weird for me. I was confused, but it was a pleasant confusion. My entire body felt like it was standing at the edge of a cliff, my balance precarious, my arms outstretched and grappling for something to hang on to. But I wasn’t scared of falling into this relationship; it was more of an eager anticipation.

We explored the lake that day. We took a lot of pictures – most of them were mediocre, a few of them were even great. I learned a lot about photography, and about myself that day. I felt comfortable with him. I began to imagine my life with him.

We each brought different strengths to our relationship – he brought clarity, determination, motivation; I brought whimsy, nonchalance, and careful abandon. We both shared an intense imagination.

And we laughed a lot.

Though our relationship was still fairly new, it felt like we had known one another our entire lives. There was the initial awkwardness of getting to know one another, but it only lasted mere days instead of weeks and we soon fell into an easygoing, pleasant and fun relationship. We were honest with one another and after several weeks of being with him, I began entertaining the thought of maybe, just maybe, we could live a lifetime together.

They say you “know” when you have meant the right person and forgive me, but I have to agree. There simply wasn’t one thing about him that sealed the deal for me, it was so many little things and then nothing at all. He simply stepped into my world and staked a claim on the plat of land in my heart that was reserved for that special someone.

I hadn’t even known that piece of real estate existed until he came along.

This should have scared me – the thought of committing to one person had always scared me up until that point. But I think because he was able to step into my world so effortlessly, so quietly, with very little fanfare, that it caught me off guard and I let my defenses down, just for a moment, but long enough for the damage to be done.

I was in love.

I realized my feelings as we took turns posing for one another. I felt free to be myself and I enthusiastically alternated my poses: from goofy to sexy all in an attempt to make him laugh and look at me, to really see me as a person and a possible life partner.

Though my feelings had sort of taken off without my permission, I forced myself to think about the reality of our relationship. Was he someone I could respect? Was he responsible? Did he have goals? Could I live with his bad habits?

And most importantly – could he put up with me and all of my irrational moods and faulty personality?

I had high hopes.

Though we were together at the lake that day, we also took time to explore on our own. The fact that he felt comfortable enough to give me my space was really what clinched the deal.

He was secure enough in himself, and in me, to give me room to breathe.

I knew there would be times that I would crave isolation. I required his understanding.

I sensed his understanding.

We arrived at the lake mere boyfriend and girlfriend – we left the lake that day soul mates.

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Relationships

The “Business” Side of a Good Marriage

Let me let you in on a little secret – I dig relationships. Not just mine, but relationships in general. I’m fascinated with how people get along, what exactly makes one person attracted to another? What makes a marriage work and another one fail? Can you fall out of love? Or is that just an excuse to stop trying and/or adapting to relationship changes?

I’ve been married for 20 + years now. (My parents will have been married 46 years on Saturday!! Happy anniversary mom and dad!). Though I’m certainly not an expert, I think it’s safe to say, I have a little experience when it comes to this marriage gig.

I have strong opinions about marriage. In fact, I wrote a whole series of posts on relationships complete with tips on how to make your own relationship work as well as a pretty personal look at my own over the years. (You can always click on the “Love Dare” tab at the top of the page for these relationship posts).

Anyway, there are two relationship blogs that never fail to make me think: Project Happily Ever After and Marriage Gems.

There was an article on Marriage Gems that I found interesting: it’s called Manage Your Marriage Like a Business

Here’s a summary of the article’s points:

  • 1. Know your customer. Stay in tune with your spouse’s changing needs, hopes, and concerns. If you’re not sure what they are, ask.
  • 2. Earn their business every day. Just as you would impress clients with attention and treat them with respect, do the same for your partner.
  • 3. Don’t make excuses. Customers (and spouses) want solutions, not excuses. When you make a mistake, acknowledge your error, and then fix it.
  • 4. Work on a win-win strategy. Regularly ask your spouse, “What can I do to help you be successful?” Then follow through with what they need. Use your planning skills to balance the family’s needs, for example if one spouses is putting their career on hold to raise children.
  • 5. Mix business with pleasure. “We seldom give our spouses the rewarding experiences we give our best customers. Find ways to inject new life into your relationship via activities that have no purpose other than to say, ‘You matter.’”

Would you agree with this assessment? Overall, yes, I would.

I’ve often thought people treated their co-workers/constituents nicer than their spouses. I’ve seen, first hand, how my boss would be super nice to his clients and then just treat his wife like dirt. I’m sure he was tired and taking his frustrations out on her, but I’m also sure that was wrong of him to do.

I’ve also seen spouses treat each other like they were their employee instead of their partners.

We put a lot of energy and thought into our careers, it’s always puzzled me why people don’t put that much energy or thought into their relationships. Yes. It’s work. Yes, it’s HARD work. Yes, one must be willing to admit he/she is wrong and be willing to swallow a humility pill now and again, but the rewards are worth the effort.

To achieve measurable results, simply transfer to your home life the skills you’ve acquired to succeed in your career. You can build or rebuild a strong family dynamic the same way you built your company—with great customer service.

Relationships

Put Your Energies into People Who Deserve It

I really don’t care what people think about me.

Well, I care, but mostly I don’t.

Let me rephrase that: I care to a point.

After that? *shrug* Meh.

I mean, it bothers me when loved ones are upset with me, the closer to my heart they are, the more it tears me up. But I think we all have to reach a point where we say, “Enough.” A heart can only take so much.

I’ve had this conversation with both of my boys.

The “being TOO nice” conversation.

My boys are gentle creatures. I have no idea what I’ve done to turn them into such creatures but I thank God that whatever happened, happened. (Too bad I’m not smart enough to know what that was).

And they’re nice. They’re nice to everyone. They are loathe to hurt anyone’s feelings.

On the surface, this is a good thing. Truly. But there are times it’s not such a good thing.

Dude will agree to do something simply because he thinks disagreeing will hurt the person’s feelings. Or, Dude will search for the answer you want to hear because he doesn’t want to disappoint you.

Jazz will defend underdogs because he feels sorry for them. Even if defending the person puts him in the cross hairs, even if his stepping in means other kids will make fun of him, then so be it. I can’t tell you the number of times Jazz has come home to tell me about how some kid was being bullied and he swooped in to save the day. Or, the times he’s gotten upset because a “friend” suddenly began giving him the cold shoulder.

Life lessons are so hard to learn. And even harder to teach, I think.

In a nutshell, I’ve taught my boys that though it’s great to be nice, that you should always give nice a chance first, sometimes you have to stop being nice.

It’s human nature to take advantage of other people. I mean, if we’re constantly given something and then given the option of working for it, which option do you think the majority of people will choose?

If you’re continuously nice to people and expect very little, if anything in return, then most of the time, those same people will continue to take advantage of your good nature. They will suck you dry. And most won’t think twice about it.

There has to come a time when you have to put your foot down and say NO MORE.

You can do it nicely, you can do it tactfully, but ultimately, you have to do it. You only have so much to give before your reserves are tapped out and if your generosity, your willingness to understand and be patient is draining so much life out of you so that you don’t have the time, energy, or wherewithal to live your own life and take care of the people who depend on you, then it’s time to cut the dependency ties.

The challenge, of course, is knowing WHEN to do that.

And that’s what I’ve tried to teach the boys. Knowing when to stop being so nice (and by that, I don’t necessarily mean start being mean but to know when it’s time to move on) is hard. There is no cut and dried answer. It depends. It depends on the person, the situation, the circumstance. It depends on how much you’re emotionally invested in the person (though again, be careful, loved ones can sometimes be the worse when it comes to taking advantage of your good nature).

But I’ve seen too many people, I’ve heard too many sad stories from people I’ve worked with, about how they’re so tired of being taken advantage of and yet, they continue their behavior and continue to be taken advantage of. At some point, the cycle has to end, doesn’t it?

Most people are great and getting to know them can be a huge reward, but then there are some people who are poison to your mental health and to your quality of life in general.

The challenge is being honest enough with yourself to first SEE it, and then having the strength to do something about it.

Move on and concentrate your energies on the people in your life who love and respect you.

Not everyone will like you. And that’s okay.