Relationships

How to Have a Happy Marriage

May was our anniversary month.

Kevin and I have been married for 20 years now.

Twenty. Years.

But we didn’t get to do anything exciting for our anniversary for a number of reasons:

1. He was involved in motor cycle accident and he was physically unable to leave the house.

2. We redid our kitchen in March, which we agreed would be part of our gift to each other.

3. We planned a family vacation (which we’ll be taking in a few weeks) back in January and again, agreed that it would be part of our gift to each other.

Anyway …

I saw this video on Dr. Laura’s YouTube channel and thought it would be a fun, and cute, segway to a recap post for the 10-day Love Dare “workshop” I hosted last year in May. (What can I say – May equals LOVE for me).


(By the way, NEVER stop flirting. Seriously. It’s fun and puts a creative and exciting spark in your marriage).

In case you’re just tuning in, the 10-day Love Dare challenge was all about DARING YOU to make your marriage stronger. I personally believe that too many people (mainly women) have been brainwashed into believing that marriage is all about THEM and about what THEY want and need from a relationship when in fact, it’s not.

At all.

It’s about co-existing with another human being and learning to adapt and change to various circumstances over the years. It’s about training yourself to LIVE love, not just FEEL love.

Can you honestly say you’re the same person you were when you got married? Can you honestly say your spouse is?

I’m betting – no.

Anyway, if you’re interested in reading more about the challenge, and my experiences with the challenge, you can click on the links below.

Beginning
Love is patient: Day One
Love is kind: Day Two
Love is not selfish: Day Three
Love is thoughtful: Day Four
Love is not rude: Day Five
Love believes the best: Day Six
Love is not jealous: Day Seven
Love fights fair: Day Eight
Love takes delight: Day Nine
Love vs. lust: Day Ten

It was a lot of work writing all of that, and it’s even more work LIVING it. Having a perfect marriage is not realistic, but a happy marriage is certainly possible – and it all starts with YOU.

I would like to continue this “series” by offering up advice and stories from my own marriage. Though our marriage is FAR FROM PERFECT, we’re happy, because we both made a conscious effort to work at it. Being happily married is simply not handed to you, it’s a lot of work, from BOTH sides and it’s a two-way street – there are no one-way streets in a HAPPY marriage.

Anyway, I thought this might be a good place to start this whole relationship series of posts and I hope that by reading about my experiences or listening to my own personal advice, it inspires you to keep working toward improving your own marriage.

Good luck and thanks for reading.

Relationships

Anger is My Shield

Anger is my primary emotion.

I use it when I’m sad.

I use it when I’m nervous.

I use it when I feel guilty, hurt or scared.

I pretty much tap my anger well all the time – unfortunately, I appear to have an endless supply of it.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not an angry person, I just use anger as my shield to other, less happy emotions.

I honestly don’t know why I’m like this. Even though I’ve had YEARS to self-analyze myself, I still do not have a concrete answer as to why my initial reaction to anything (even when I’ve been surprised, in a GOOD way) is anger. All I know is that is how I react.

It’s like my buffer zone to deeper issues and feelings. Once I get past the anger, only THEN do I really feel ready to face whatever it is I need to face.

Take this morning for instance.

Kevin had a gig last night. He didn’t get home until 2:00 in the morning.

Dude is taking his ACT test today. (Actually, he’s at the test center now).

I was sitting at my computer, catching up on some blogs, waiting to wake Dude up so he could start getting ready for his test when Kevin walked in.

The man got home at 2:00 this morning. When he walked in, it wasn’t quite 6:00 a.m.

My first reaction? Anger.

“What are you doing up?”

“Do you want me to take Dude to his test?”

What are you doing up? You need to go back to sleep. There is no way you got enough sleep.”

This, of course, doesn’t adequately relay the sarcasm that dripped with each syllable.

Kevin was hurt. I could see it in his eyes. He turned around and went back to bed.

And as soon as he disappeared, the GUILT and REMORSE set in.

*SIGH* Why do I react like that? WHY??

After sitting here and breaking down exactly why I reacted that way, here is what I’ve come up with:

I’m nervous for Dude. I want him to do well. I’m hoping that by being nervous FOR him, he won’t be as nervous.

I know. That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

I’m worried. Kevin doesn’t sleep very well under ideal conditions let alone when something is going on. I worry that he’s not getting enough sleep, that he’s not taking care of himself. My life would crumble, evaporate, if anything were to happen to him.

And no, I’m not saying that to be all flowery and romantic, I honest to God mean that. I’ve allowed myself to REALLY love him – he is so much a part of me now that I can not imagine my life without him. I’m pretty sure I would end up being one of those widows who died of a broken heart if anything were to happen to him. The man’s not getting any younger. He needs to take care of himself.

I’m tired. I only got six hours of sleep (totally my fault – I didn’t have to stay up until midnight and watch Hannity) so my patience is thin to begin with. No excuse, but a reason.

I’m also tired of having to push-push-push Dude into doing anything. Once, just once, I wish the boy would act excited about SOMETHING other than video/computer games. This is his future, for crying out loud. I realize he’s only 17. He’s still only a kid. And I treat him like a kid so it’s partly my fault. But I wish he would surprise me. I wish he would take the initiative for once and wake ME up once in a while because he’s ready to do … whatever. I want him to be a grown up – yet I don’t.

Let’s add confused to my mix of emotions this morning.

I went in and apologized to Kevin. I gave him a kiss and softly told him to go back to sleep, that I had everything under control. I honestly want him to rest – the man doesn’t get enough rest because 1. he’s been programmed from an early age that sleeping in, resting, relaxing is a no-no, one must be productive at all times and 2. he doesn’t sleep well – ever. So he’s exhausted before he even starts his day. He can’t possibly maintain that pace forever.

It just occurred to me that maybe that’s why I’m so controlling. Because if I control my external world, that that helps me control my internal world. My emotions are in check because I have the control.

This control thing really is an issue.

I realize now, after taking a moment to step back and think about it, that Kevin got up and offered to take Dude not because he expected me to suddenly sag and say, “Okay. That would be great,” (as if), but because that was his way of trying to get involved with what was going on with Dude. He was trying to be a part of what was happening.

We have had a pretty traditional family setting all these years. I’ve taken complete control over caring for the boys and being an integral part of their lives. My life has pretty much been centered on me and the boys thereby giving Kevin time to focus all of his energies and thoughts on his work. He’s never had to worry about the boys, he’s never had to go get them in the middle of the day, he’s never had to directly deal with any problems that have come up with them over the years.

And that has worked for us. Given my personality there was honestly no other way. I had to be involved with the boys at every level because 1. I wanted to. I love them and can’t imagine NOT caring for them and 2. I simply couldn’t relinquish the control necessary for someone else to do the job.

This is no way means that Kevin has ignored the boys over the years – quite the opposite. He’s been (and is) a phenomenal dad. Hands on, always there if they need him. He tells them he loves them every night and he teaches them … man things – things that I am not equipped, nor capable of, teaching them myself.

It’s just that I’ve always been the one to make sure they get to school every day and on time. That any extra curricular stuff is taken care of – like this ACT test today. I helped him prepare last night. I made sure he had everything he needed this morning. I made sure he was up and had breakfast before I dropped him off. (He could have drove, but he didn’t want to. I think he wanted the moral support).

So I “get” why Kevin rolled out of bed after only five hours to ask me if I wanted him to take him to his test today – he wanted to feel like he was part of Dude’s life.

I get that NOW. Unfortunately, my anger shield shot up before I could stop it and I handled the situation badly.

Again.

Anger is my go-to emotion, I guess. It’s always the first thing I feel and react to under any given situation. I wish I wasn’t like this. I wish I was more loving and patient. But I’m not. I’m working on it, but it’s not who I am, but what I want to be.

The only time anger is beneficial for me, I think, is when there is an emergency: I’m great in emergency situations. That anger helps me stay focused on what needs to be done and done quickly. I can react to what happened later.

But on the whole, I wish anger wasn’t my initial reaction to things. More often than not, it makes the situation worse and then I feel worse after the anger wears off.

I should just have “I’m Sorry” tattooed to my forehead – it would make life a whole lot easier.

Relationships

Supporting My Husband’s Habit

I’d like to think I’m a good wife. I mean, I cook, I clean, I laugh, I joke, I … erhm, do other stuff.

And I support my husband.

Even when he goes and does something crazy like buy a set of big-honkin’ lights like these puppies:

Stage Lights

I can’t tell you how many times Kevin has apologized for buying these lights.

And I wish he wouldn’t.

Yes. They were expensive. Yes. He sold his dirt bike in order to pay for them. Yes. Our bills are caught up. Yes. We have food to eat.

We’re okay.

Besides, it was his money, his bike and this kind of thing? Makes him happy.

And if he’s happy, believe me, I’m happy.

I know what you’re thinking.

“But Karen. You’re a team. You’re partners. It’s not really his money, it’s your money, together.”

And yes, you would be correct. And Kevin certainly ran this purchase by me before he actually went ahead and went through with it. (Not like the time I came home from work only to find a HUGE canoe hanging from the garage ceiling. Oh yes, yes he did. I’ll never let you live THAT one down, honey. In fact …

Canoe

Oh look! We still have it).

But here’s the thing. Kevin works really, really hard for his money. And he takes excellent care of us. He always puts our needs first, period. So when the man really wants something, and we can afford it, I’m not going to stand in his way.

He deserves to pamper himself.

At times. Let’s not get carried away here. 😀

But seriously. He never says a word when I get a package from Amazon and add yet more books to my 300 plus pile (which are now for sale in my Amazon book store, by the way).

He never says a word whenever I go out and spend $70 bucks to get my hair colored and cut. (Yes. Seventy. And that’s cheap! At least, according to some of you!)

He never says a word whenever I buy … well, come to think of it, I don’t buy a whole lot, actually. But you get my drift.

These lights? Make him happy. And he’s excited to use them the next time he plays with his band – Midnite Thunder. Music makes him happy. It relaxes him. It energizes him. It charges up his batteries because let’s face it, accounting is BORING. (Well, I’m assuming. It sounds boring. It looks boring. Actually, it looks like a foreign language to me, but we all know I’m an idiot so …)

I have supported him through numerous guitars. And various guitar accessories. I have physically supported him by being there when he plays and by being one of his groupies.

(Did I tell you guys about the time I coaxed him out on the dance floor with me, while he was playing?? His guitar was hooked up wirelessly and I couldn’t believe he actually got out on the dance floor and boogied down with me while playing. That was so fun).

I have even supported him through this crazy, expensive light fetish thing that he has going on right now. (Seriously. Did you COUNT how many lights there were? Eight. And they’re huge. As in blinding huge. And this is in addition to the two sets of lights he recently bought.

Fancy Stage Lights

The man clearly has a fetish).

All this to say, I honestly don’t mind and though I love to tease him, the man deserves to buy his lights if he wants to.

Of course now, he owes me, but I won’t bring that up now. *grin*

Hi.

My name is Karen.

And I’m married to a musician.

Who likes lights.

And I’m okay with that.

Because I love him.

And I support him.

(As long as it doesn’t get too crazy. Like wanting a Corvette or … wait. What? You want a Corvette when you get another job?

Welllllll, I suppose that’s better than wanting trade me in for a younger woman. Don’t say it. Don’t even say it).

Life, Relationships

I Don’t Do Family Drama

And that title suggests so much more than I can allow myself to write about. *sigh* I wish I had the freedom to simply dump what I’m feeling on this blog, but alas, it all boils back down to that stupid self-censor thing so I’ll see if I can’t write what’s going on with me without revealing too many details.

How good are you at reading between the lines?

I’m very blessed to have two great families – my own and my by-marriage families. They are all truly amazing and loving people and we generally don’t have any big blow outs or major Jerry Springer-ish type of issues crop up.

But we’re not perfect. We have moments. And it’s in those moments that I’m allowed to step back and take a good, hard look at myself, as well as my family members.

And the conclusion I usually walk away with? I’m sort of a b*tch. And my family no doubt thinks I’m sort of a b*tch.

I know. Big shocker to most of you, I’m sure.

But guess what. I’m okay with that because in the end, I’m honest. And there should be no doubt as to where I stand on certain issues so even though someone may not agree with me, or gets upset with me and gives me the silent treatment, fine, at least we all know where we stand.

Look. I don’t agree with some of the decisions my family makes, or how they run their lives, but you know what? Big deal. They have the right to live their lives however they choose to and it’s none of my business. And just because I don’t agree with what they’re doing doesn’t give me the right to voice my opinion about it. I don’t have to like their decisions, I don’t even have to like them — but we’re family. It is what it is.

So, I deal. And I keep my big mouth shut, for the most part. But there are moments when I’m inevitably sucked in and I resent the hell out of it. It wasn’t my situation to begin with. I didn’t want anything to do with it and now look at me, I’m knee deep in someone else’s junk and I’ve made the situation worse because I can’t keep my big mouth shut.

Swell. Just peachy.

I’m a fair person, but when it comes to family drama — I’m out. And if I have the misfortune of being sucked into something, I will only tiptoe around the real issue, the issue that no one else will talk about, for so long before I’ve had it.

The kid gloves come off and I will say my piece. Take it or leave it. And the sad part? (Because it’s certainly not the funny part, especially in this case), is that I get to the point where I just don’t care.

I don’t. I honestly, do, not, care.

Be angry with me. Don’t talk to me. Avoid me. Hate my guts. It doesn’t matter. I’ve had it. I’m tired of thinking about it. I’m tired of analyzing every little component of the situation. I’m tired of analyzing every single thing I said, or should have said. I’m tired of walking on eggshells. And I’m unwilling to play nicety-nice and let’s get along at all costs because if someone can’t take the truth, then bite me.

It’s time to face reality.

What can I say. I’m hard nosed and I’m hard hearted. That can make some people sad, that can make some people angry, but you know what? Tough. I can try and sugar coat those aspects of myself but since I’m being honest (in a vague sort of way) I’ll just come right out and say, I am who I am. Take it or leave it.

I don’t DO family drama. I. Just. Don’t.

I don’t want it. I will not participate in it.

I try very hard not to take my anger out against something or someone on the Internet. I try to keep my cool and IF I write anything about the issue, I try to remain impartial and fair. And that’s a BIG challenge for me because I’m opinionated and arrogant. These are not traits I’m exactly proud of, but again, it is what it is.

But I’m human. And I slip up. And I write stupid tweets that I shouldn’t and then I totally regret opening my big mouth later. Because I wrote it in the heat of the moment. I was upset. I was aggravated. I was annoyed as hell. So, I wrote it. And I left it on there until a family member pointed out to me that that wasn’t exactly the nicest thing to do and after thinking about it, agreed. So, I removed them.

But they were out there. And if that someone happened to read those tweets (you know who you are), please accept my apologizes. I wrote them in the heat of the moment. It was stupid and immature and I deeply regret my stupidity.

I regret making something so private so public.

And I’m renewing my pact on not getting involved in family drama. Ya’ll know my opinions. There’s really nothing else to say.

I’m sorry this is so vague. I’m sorry if this seems confusing. But I needed to get this off my chest. I can apologize for my rash actions but I can not apologize for who I am.

More from Write From Karen

Life-condensed, Relationships

No Problem

annoyed I have a problem.

I guess you could call it a pet peeve, really. And from the little research I’ve done on this subject (because yes, I AM that anal), it’s apparently more of a generational “thing” than anything else.

Personally, I think it’s just another attempt to justify the fact that no one bothers, or even gives a rip, about manners anymore.

It’s the whole saying “no problem” instead of the traditional “you’re welcome” thing.

Let me give you a fictional scenario:

Lori walked into the store and headed straight for the toilet paper section. She didn’t really want to just buy toilet paper, but she was in a hurry. Her son was actually IN the bathroom at home, on the toilet, waiting for toilet paper.

This was no time to get all self-conscious. In fact, some would say this was a downright emergency.

She quickly walked to the aisle and scanned the available products. So many to choose from! She lightly tapped her finger against her lips as she searched for her favorite brand.

Success! She found it. Only, it was on the top shelf and there was no way she her 5’2 frame would be tall enough to reach it.

She could buy another brand, but the last time she did that, she had had to endure cranky children and a complaining husband because the only brand that doesn’t scratch her delicate family was the brand now located on the top shelf and out of reach.

She flagged an associate down.

“Excuse me,” she began but abruptly paused as the sales associate stopped what he was doing to heave a heavy, and very put out sigh.

“I was wondering if you could get my favorite brand of toilet paper from the top shelf?” Her mouth curved into what she hoped was a beguiling smile but given her naked face and disheveled attire (she left the house in quite a hurry when she discovered her son had gone number two and there wasn’t a square to spare in the house), she hoped her charming personality would win her the favor.

The boy sucked the blade of his exact-o knife back into the casing and turned to face her. “Which one did you want?”

She blinked at the hostility in his eyes. Normally, his grumpy demeanor would be enough to scare her off her objective but she had a little boy stuck on the pot at home and she went into mom drive. Her lower lip began to quiver at his rudeness though, but she was determined not to leave the store without the brand of toilet paper she needed; he would just have to be irritated with her.

This was an emergency, after all.

The boy mumbled under his breath while he grabbed a nearby step ladder.

(If she had been thinking clearly, she would have simply used the ladder herself and to hell with the boy).

He stepped up onto the ladder and reaching up, he easily extracted the package of toilet paper. He didn’t exactly throw it at her, but it did slip out of his hands and plop rather heavily into her arms.

“Oh, thank you. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your help. Thanks again.”

The boy gave her a bored look and with a simple shrug, muttered, “no problem.”

See?? Rude.

Now granted, this scenario is exaggerated (but only just), and there are a lot of people who SAY “no problem” and don’t mean it in a rude way, but to me, it doesn’t matter how it’s said, or what sort of expression accompanies it — it’s rude.

Whatever happened to “you’re welcome?”

Or, “My Pleasure?”

Or, “You bet!”

Or, “Anytime!”

Or even, “Glad to help!”

Whenever someone responds to a heartfelt “thank you” with a “no problem” I can feel the fine hairs on my upper lip the back of my neck stand on end.

To me, when someone says “no problem,” what they’re really saying is, “hey, I didn’t really have a choice, I HAD to help you. I’m not doing it out of the kindness of my heart but because I value my job and I don’t want to get fired.”

It’s a dismissal. It’s a write-off. It’s just one word shy of “moron.”

“No problem, moron. Now get lost.”

Because that’s what it sounds like to me.

Now, when someone says, “you’re welcome,” to me, this says, “I’m glad to help! It’s been my pleasure to make your life a little easier! I take great pride in helping people in need. I have absolutely no problem in putting my life on hold to help a fellow being out.”

It’s an embrace. A deep-seated sincerity.

IT’S POLITE.

I know. POLITE is a word that is rarely discussed anymore. In fact, I heard a rumor that the Merriam Webster Dictionary folks were thinking about striking the word from the dictionary because no one even knows what it means anymore.

Yes of course I’m making a big deal out of this. And no, of course it doesn’t REALLY bother me that much, but I suppose I’m trying to make a point here — slang or no, I think “no problem” sends the wrong message to our young people. I think we need to consciously make an effort to stay away from these apathetic expressions and concentrate on exercising good old-fashioned manners.

Not only in our language, but in dealing with each other, too.

AudioPlay, Relationships

Hosanna

This past week has been … difficult. For those that don’t know, Kevin’s grandma (affectionately known as Nanny to the family) passed away.

We were braced for it, she was, after all, 87 years old and her health had been failing for a number of years, but it was still a shock when it happened.

Especially since we were out of the country at the time. We missed her funeral and we’ve been spending the past week … digesting a myriad of emotions because of this.

We’ve been over to her house several times. Kevin’s mother has been insanely busy wrapping up her affairs and going through her belongings – Nanny had rented a duplex and everything needs to be sorted by the end of July. Kevin’s mother even asked me if I wanted any of her jewelry, which I thought was really sweet of her to ask. (I didn’t end up taking anything – her bible and other precious items were given to Kevin to remember her and I just … didn’t feel right accepting anything).

Since we missed the funeral, Kevin’s mother gave him the memorial slideshow that the funeral home prepared for her. (I’d link to it, he posted it to YouTube for extended family, but somehow, I don’t feel like it’s my place to do that).

I burst into tears when Kevin started it — I simply couldn’t watch it. However, I did listen to the soundtrack that went with it and both Kevin and I loved the soft, gospel songs enough to ask who sang them.

jil-singing Imagine our complete and utter surprise to learn they were sung by none other than our niece — Jil Powers.

I’m publishing her full name because her and her husband (Brannon Powers. He has a YouTube video of them both playing together on his web page. They are such a cute couple!) recently moved to Nashville to try and make a go of their musical careers and I would like to help get their names out there in any small way that I can. I wish them both much love and luck — they are both such talented people.

And, unbeknownst to us, Jil was part of a band (The Forum) and they cut their very own CD: five songs of sweet, soul-moving songs.

I’d like to share one of the songs from her CD (I plan on sharing the rest with you in upcoming weeks – they are simply too good NOT to share).

This song was on Nanny’s memorial slideshow; it’s called Hosanna.

Do you know what hosanna means?

From Merriam Webster:
Etymology:
Middle English osanna, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Greek hōsanna, from Hebrew hōshīʽāh-nnā pray, save (us)!
Date:
before 12th century
—used as a cry of acclamation and adoration

I had to look it up because I didn’t know, either. 🙂

I can’t think of a more appropriate song to play for such a lovely lady.

Here is that song. Enjoy, and God bless.

Click the arrow to listen.

Friday Fun, Relationships

Having Dad Around Just Adds Up

Not just DADS, but MEN, too!
Not just good DADS, but good MEN, too!
What exactly is Dad Blogs?

Dad Blogs is a site based on the vision of two dads with one goal in mind — to make the internet a better place for Dad Bloggers. Dad Blogs was born out of necessity. Both of the creators of DB were tired of browsing through parenting blogs and being assaulted with page after page of feminine ad campaigns and badges for mom blogging networks without ever seeing a male alternative.

Actually, I had assumed (because I just now read the about page – I’m a dweeb like that) that the Dad Blogs’ community was all about edifying dads in general.

But building a community of Dad bloggers is good, too. 🙂

So, now I’m confused. Is it okay to brag about the dads in my life? I hope so, because that’s what I’m going to do.

(I’m a bit of a rebel like that. *smile*)


I think men get a bad rap. And I think dads get an even worse rap.

And by bad rap, I mean this whole crazy notion that it’s not necessary to have a man in one’s life in order to have children.

Perhaps it’s not necessary in the mother’s life, but it sure as hell is necessary in the child’s life.

Once again, it’s all about what is good for the SELF and not what’s good for OTHERS.

I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of this attitude, people.

Now I’m talking about normal situations – where the woman has chosen to have the baby without involving the father. Or has chosen to exclude the father in someway, whether that’s a physical exclusion or an emotional exclusion. I’m not talking about situations where the father is abusive or detrimental to the overall family unit. Or where the father has decided to reject the mother/child. (His loss)

That’s an entirely different ballgame.

No, I’m talking about the general assumption that fathers are somehow an afterthought — that they don’t really matter in the overall scheme of things. As long as the WOMAN is fulfilled and satisfied, then screw the dads. And the kids? Will be fiiiine. Don’t worry about them.

That ideology makes me grind my teeth in irritation.

Fathers are important to children. They bring insight, balance and a unique perspective that is necessary for children to absorb. It’s taken me years of reconditioning my way of thinking to believe that, but after 19 years of marriage and two boys later, I’m convinced my life, and my boys’ lives, would not be what they are today if Kevin hadn’t been in the picture.

And he nearly wasn’t. But that’s a story that must never be told.

There I go, off on a tangent again. Can you tell the topics I’m passionate about? I apologize if this seems all “in your face”, but there are just some things that I think need to be said.

Let me give you an example of how important Kevin is to my boys and how NOT having him around would have changed their lives – and not for the better.

Grade cards came in the mail yesterday.

Kevin had come home for lunch (he’s so good about eating leftovers for lunch everyday – me? Not so much. But then again, I rarely eat that much for lunch anyway) when he handed me two envelopes addressed to the boys.

(I have no idea why he does this – I guess because anything to do with the kids is somehow my responsibility. Wait, that bit of sarcasm was unfair. If he had kept, and opened, the envelopes without telling me first, I probably would have gotten annoyed with him. The man can’t win. See how difficult we are to get along with sometimes, ladies?)

I held my breath and opened them.

I don’t know why I always get so nervous whenever I take a peek at the boys’ grades. The school district has this nifty (and totally cool, I might add!) online database where I can access my sons’ grades and assignments at any time so there is rarely an unpleasant surprise when it comes to grades anymore. But still … I’ve lived through too many last-minute disasters to completely relax, I suppose.

No surprises. Well, there were a few classes that I wasn’t sure how they did on their finals, but the overall results? Not bad. They could have done better, but what kind of mom would I be if I didn’t feel the urge to push them juuuuust a bit more?

But considering they handled their classes, on their own and with virtually no help from us, is saying quite a bit.

They are so much smarter than I give them credit for.

There is one exception to this subject praise, though; Math.

The boys have had to have help with Math since 1st grade – when they were first introduced to Calculus.

I kid. But not by much.

And that’s always been Kevin’s department because when God handed out the ability to analyze equations and solve for X – I was too busy curling my hair to have received it.

In short – I. Am. TERRIBLE. At. Math.

Go ahead, tease me. My guys do. And they are fully justified.

I can honestly say, and with absolute certainty, that if Kevin hadn’t been around to help these boys with their math over the years, my children would have ended up on the IEP program.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I know, in my heart, I would have helped put them in that situation simply because I lack the intelligence to help them in this one area.

But being thankful that Kevin was around to help with math goes WAY beyond actually working the problems — I’m grateful that he taught them patience, perseverance and the importance of applying certain applications to real-life scenarios.

So those decent grades in math? The ones they earned all by their lonesome with only minimal help from dad this year? Is largely due to the lessons that Kevin taught them.

It all goes back to the different perspective thing I wrote about earlier.

Kevin is such a great father, in so many ways – both large and small – that I simply can not imagine, I cannot fathom, what sort of life the boys would have had without him in their lives.

Children miss SO MUCH when dad’s not around.

(word count: 1075)

karen1

Relationships

How to Have a Happy Marriage

I saw this video on Dr. Laura’s YouTube channel and thought it would be a fun, and cute, segway to a recap post for the 10-day Love Dare “workshop” I hosted this past week.


(By the way, NEVER stop flirting. Seriously. It’s fun and puts a creative and exciting spark in your marriage).

In case you’re just tuning in, the 10-day Love Dare challenge was all about DARING YOU to make your marriage stronger. I personally believe that too many people (mainly women) have been brainwashed into believing that marriage is all about THEM and about what THEY want and need from a relationship when in fact, it’s not.

At all.

It’s about co-existing with another human being and learning to adapt and change to various circumstances over the years. It’s about training yourself to LIVE love, not just FEEL love.

Can you honestly say you’re the same person you were when you got married? Can you honestly say your spouse is?

I’m betting – no.

Anyway, if you’re interested in reading more about the challenge, and my experiences with the challenge, you can click on the links below.

Beginning
Love is patient: Day One
Love is kind: Day Two
Love is not selfish: Day Three
Love is thoughtful: Day Four
Love is not rude: Day Five
Love believes the best: Day Six
Love is not jealous: Day Seven
Love fights fair: Day Eight
Love takes delight: Day Nine
Love vs. lust: Day Ten

It was a lot of work writing all of that, and it’s even more work LIVING it. Having a perfect marriage is not realistic, but a happy marriage is certainly possible – and it all starts with YOU.

Good luck and thanks for reading.

Relationships

Nineteen Years Ago Today …

… I married the love of my life.

Wedding Rings

Kevin and I got married in a small, pretty church in Nixa, Missouri. Even though we were not members of the church, we picked the church because a coworker of mine suggested it; I found it attractive, easily accessible and fell in love with the lovely stained-glass windows behind the pulpit.

Our wedding day arrived and though we were nervous, we weren’t OVERLY nervous. We had lived together for two years prior to our wedding so we were comfortable enough with each other that it really never occurred to us to BE that nervous.

We were more concerned with getting the ceremony over with and traveling to Cozumel, Mexico for our honeymoon. 🙂

After the Wedding Ceremony
(Hence the hurry-up-and-take-the-picture smiles on our faces).

Our wedding was small – there were only about 75 people there – and it certainly wasn’t fancy; we used my student loan money to pay for it. We cut a lot of corners – my mom made my wedding dress (thank you mom!) and we toasted each other with peach paper cups, but we didn’t care. We had agreed that it was more important to us to use what money we had to pay for our honeymoon and even though our wedding was important to us, it was really only a formality at that point – we had already made a commitment to each other long before THE day.

Wedding Cake

We did splurge on the cake though. I went to a cake lady a friend recommended and I had so much fun talking to her about what I wanted. My colors were peach and white, which is really odd considering I had never liked peach up until that point and in fact, have not really liked peach from that point on, but everything was peach for my wedding.

I used to be REALLY big into Precious Moments figurines so it seemed natural to have the wedding figurine for my cake topper.

Cutting the Wedding Cake

The entire reception is still only a blur to me. I remember the ceremony quite clearly (probably because Kevin and I made funny faces at each other the entire ceremony and silently wondered if the music we had selected would EVER end so we could continue the ceremony), but the reception, not so much.

I do remember being extremely nervous though. There was my family, his family and some of our co-workers so I felt like I had to be three different people all at the same time.

Feeding Wedding Cake to Husband

And I wasp pretty nervous when it came time to cut the cake and toast each other. I had given Kevin specific instructions NOT to smash cake into my face and of course, I resisted the urge to smash cake into his face.

But only just barely. 😀

In fact, now that I think about it, the bite that Kevin fed me is the ONLY piece of my wedding cake that I ate that day. (I was too nervous to eat).

We did end up saving the top layer of our cake to eat on our first anniversary. We have a video of us trying it and then promptly gagging and laughing our heads off because it was so dry it was like eating sawdust.

This is one of my favorite pictures from that day:

Wedding Conversation

This picture was not posed, the photographer just had the presence of mind to capture it. This is my oldest niece (she’s married now). I was very nervous about trying to fit in with my new family and I just adored this little girl so much that I had to tease her and make her smile.

It’s been a long, bumpy 19 years … but it’s also been the best 19 years of my life.

Thank you for being so patient with me, Kevin. Thank you for being stubborn and not giving up, even when I was ready to. Thank you for being my husband. Thank you for being in my life.

I love you.

Relationships

The Love Dare – Day Ten – My Experience

This post is about my personal experience with The Love Dare. If you would like to learn more about The Love Dare, go here. If you would like to win a copy of The Love Dare book, or the “Fireproof” DVD, go here.

Love Dare at writefromkaren.com
(click on the badge for details).


Day Ten: Love vs. Lust. End it now. Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it. Single out every lie you’ve swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it. Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom. It must be killed and destroyed — today — and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with his perfect love. What did you identify as an area of lust? What has this pursuit cost you over time? How has it led you away from the person you want to be? Write about your new commitment to seek Him — and to seek your spouse — rather than seeking after foolish desires.

From The Love Dare book:

¤¤¤ Adam and Eve were supplied with everything they needed in the garden of Eden. They had fellowship with God and intimacy with one another. But after Eve was deceived by the serpent, she saw the forbidden fruit and set her heart on it. Before long, Adam joined in her wishes, and against God’s command both of them ate.

That’s the progression. From eyes to heart to action. And then follows shame and regret.

We, too, have been supplied with everything we need for a full, productive, enriching life. ‘We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Timothy 6:7).

God’s blessings, however, go so far beyond these fundamental needs, we could rightly say that we want for nothing. Yet like Adam and Eve, we still want more. So we set our eyes and hearts on seeking worldly pleasure. We try to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. For many it’s seeking sexual fulfillment in another person or in pornographic images designed to feel like a real person. We look ,stare, and fantasize. We try to be discreet but barely turn our eyes away. And once our eyes are captured by curiosity, our hearts become entangled. Then we act on our lust.

We can also lust after possessions or power or prideful ambition. We see what others have and we want it. Our hearts are deceived into saying, “I could be happy if I only had this.” then we make the decision to go after it.

Lust is in opposition to love. It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden. And for a believer, it’s the first step out of fellowship with the Lord and with others. That’s because every object of your lust — whether it’s a young coworker or a film actress, or coveting after a half-million dollar house or a sports car — represents the beginnings of a lie. This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings.

Lust always breeds more lust. Lust will make you dissatisfied with your husband or wife. It breeds anger, numbs hearts, and destroys marriages. Rather than fullness, it leads to emptiness.

It’s time to expose lust for what it really is — a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill. Lust is like a warning light on the dashboard of your heart, alerting you to the fact that you are not allowing God’s love to fill you. When your eyes and heart are on Him, your actions will lead you to lasting joy, not to endless cycles of regret and condemnation.

Are you tired of being lied to by lust? Are you fed up with believing that forbidden pleasures are able to keep you happy and content? Then begin setting your eyes on the Word of God. Let His promises of peace and freedom work their way into your heart. Daily receive the unconditional love He has already proven to you through the cross. Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment.

You’ll find yourself so full on what He provides, you won’t be hungry anymore for the junk food of lust.

And while you’re at it, set your eyes and heart on your spouse again. ¤¤¤

***My Experience***

There are still so many lessons that I could have shared with you from The Love Dare book. And I would have loved to continue sharing those lessons with you, but I don’t think the authors would have appreciated me virtually presenting their entire book to you, free of charge. So honestly, I urge you to go out and buy this book so you can practice the rest of the dares and read so much more on what I’ve written here.

(And for the record, I was not asked to promote this book. I did not accept any sort of monetary or materialistic incentive to talk about The Love Dare. I did all of this, I bared my soul to the Internet, I shared my marital life with you, in the hopes that through my experiences and the excerpts I’ve shared from The Love Dare book, it would touch and bless your life.)

But out of all of the remaining lessons in this book (forgiveness, intimacy, the importance of prayer, faithfulness, accountability, unity, etc), I chose to share the love vs. lust lesson with you because to me, it’s one of the single most important contributors to a failing marriage.

I should know – it nearly ruined my marriage.

When you hear the word lust, you automatically think of sex. And yes, of course, lusting after another man or woman is wrong and the fuse that could ultimately destroy your life (if lit), but I opted to talk about the lust part of this dare to also point out to you that it doesn’t always mean the sexual kind of lust —

It can also apply to anything that takes your focus, dedication and desire away from your marriage.

And in a lot of ways, I think it’s more dangerous because it’s subtle, it disguises itself in good intentions, it’s manageable, and it’s everywhere.

It’s incredibly easy to lose sight of what’s important. Temptations are everywhere and they are attractive, fun, dangerous, delicious and decadent – hence the reason they are temptations. If they weren’t all these things, people wouldn’t be tempted to go down that road to begin with.

Here are some examples of things that can cause friction in the marriage if you’re not careful and if you don’t maintain self-control:

Friends
Online activities
Work
Children
Hobbies / Entertainment
Commitments

And the list goes on and on – it can be anything, really, if you stop to think about it. If something is taking your focus, your attention, your time away from your marriage and you’re allowing it to poison your thinking about your marriage and/or your spouse, then it can technically be called lust.

Let me explain:

Friends – Having friends is great. It can also ruin your marriage if you’re not careful. Let’s say your girlfriend is having trouble in her own marriage. And she spends most of her time bitching about her husband, or about men in general, and how she would love to just get out and start over. Even though you’re being a good friend by offering her your attention and your advice, be careful. That discontent has a way of penetrating your own life and if left unchecked, can start coloring your own opinions about your life and spouse. Before long, you’re also spending most of your time bitching about the little things and convincing yourself that your own marriage is less than perfect (which it will be – no marriage is perfect) and without even realizing it, you’re treating your spouse differently and making mountains out of molehills.

I should know, I’ve been there. I worked with a group of women who did exactly that and it started affecting me. I started acting differently. I was dissatisfied. I lost focus on what was important and when I realized what was happening, I quit the job. I walked away from the poison and I immediately felt better. It was like stepping out of a smoke-filled room and breathing fresh air for the first time in seven years.

Online Activities – This. Is. A. Biggie. We all spend so much time online that it’s so easy, so very, very easy, to step into an online persona, to BE a different person online.

It starts with the IMs. Then graduates into chat rooms. And before long, you start behaving like a different person because it’s all just harmless fun, right? What’s a little flirtatious activity? You’re not hurting anyone. You’ll never meet that person in real life.

But being that other person becomes more fun than being your real-life person. Stepping into that fantasy world starts becoming more fun than living reality and before long, you’re spending more and more time online and BEING that person so that you start doing uncharacteristic things like staying online later and later, or sneaking a chat when your spouse is not around.

You start becoming close to another online “person” and before long, you’re making tentative plans to meet, in real life.

*raises hand* Yep. Happened to me. And again, I had the strength to step back, take a good, hard look at myself in the mirror and ask myself, “What the hell am I doing?!”

I cut out all the chatting. I put a stop to the temptation and re-focused my energies on my marriage.

I honestly don’t know how Kevin has put up with me all these years. I like to pride myself on being this strong person, but honestly folks, I’m not. I’ve dipped a toe in nearly every temptation that is out there.

This also applies to online games. And that’s THE biggest reason I never allowed myself to join the online Sims game. Because I KNOW me. I KNOW I would get sucked into the game and though I would have loads of fun, it’s not worth neglecting, or hurting, my family in the process.

It also applies to naughty websites or websites that “encourage” you to have an affair because you “deserve” it. *snort* You DESERVE heartache and unhappiness? Because that’s exactly what will happen if you succumb to their empty promises. Stay strong and simply don’t click.

There has to be (or there will be) a time you HAVE to just shut it down and walk away.

Work – being too focused on getting that promotion so that you’re opting to spend more and more late nights at the office instead of making it home. (And then there’s the whole office romance thing. Another biggie).

Children – Yes, children are important. Yes, they need looking after. No, they shouldn’t be allowed to take your focus away from your mate. Children are smart buggers. And if they see they can take advantage of you, they will – every time. Children need to be taught that mom and dad need some alone time. They need date nights. And even though it SEEMS selfish to put your marital needs ahead of your children, it’s not. Children need to see the unity and the commitment. They feel more secure when their parents are happy and in order for the parents to be happy, they need to spend time with one another.

Children are tougher than we think they are. They’ll survive without mommy or daddy for a few hours or even for a night. They’ll be fine if you don’t spend every waking moment, or every last ounce of your energy on them.

Hobbies / Entertainment – same concept as the online activities. Just watch your time and devotion and make sure it’s not becoming a substitute for what’s real.

Commitments – Taking care of people is admirable. Volunteering your time is wonderful. But don’t allow your commitments to encroach on your time with your spouse. Cut back on your responsibilities outside the home. You can’t do it all. Manage your time wisely. Don’t make commitments to other people more important than your marriage. And even though you may not see it that way, I’m betting the neglected spouse does.

Again, I’m telling you all this because I’ve lived it. I KNOW how easy it is to be too tired, to be stretched thin, to be distracted or wooed from what’s important to me and my family as a unit.

And I’m STILL working on controlling this whole online/computer thing.

And I’m done.

Thank you for reading these past ten days. It’s been a long, mentally exhausting journey for me and though I’m tired, I’m glad I wrote all of this out. It feels good to purge and hopefully by reading about my experiences, it might help you with yours.

Hang in there. Marriage is a lot of work, but in the end, it truly is worth it. Hopefully, you can convince your spouse to make that journey with you.

Good luck and God Bless.