Categories
Love Marriage

Tough love: Marriage is not for the faint-hearted.

First of all, If you’re married or about to be a newlywed, congrats to you both on taking such a huge step together! If you haven’t already been bombarded by “advice” on how to plan your big day, faced unwarranted opinions about how many kids you should have/what religion to follow/whether to wait until the big night to do the horizontal tango/etc… you will soon enough. Oh, and future newlyweds? You’d better be on good enough terms with your future in-laws, because you’re gonna be marrying them as well, by the way. Really. I’m serious.

Anyway, it’s perfectly normal to be nervous or feel challenged. This is pretty much a legally binding contract, that you two will have to uphold everyday, every hour, every minute of the rest of your lives. No sweat, right? And don’t let my snarky introduction to this entry make you get cold feet or have second thoughts – chances are if you’ve gotten this far together, there’s not much left in this world that could cause your bond to break. That being said, marriage and love is definitely not as easy as those fairytale Disney princesses make it look. Even before the decision was made to tie the knot, there was investment of time and energy into the relationship that made a commitment like this possible in the first place, amiright?

I wanted to share my short experience as a somewhat-newlywed person to help anyone after me get through the rough patches. And yes, those will happen. How you both choose to handle things and support each other will make all the difference in the world, and prevent you from becoming the 40-50% of married couples that divorce (in the US).

Sound good? Great! Then let’s begin…

1. You must choose to love your spouse, even when things get hard.

Remember what I just said about investing time and energy into this marriage thing? Marriage is work. But the rewards of such labors of love are so worth it. I have my husband to help me through this crazy journey of life, and he has me to help him through it as well when things get rough.

Also, it’s not always likely that both him and I will be in a fantastic place in life at the same time – it’s usually more of a see-saw type of thing. I’m the strong one when he gets down, even when it hurts me. Then he will lift me up to the best of his ability when it’s my turn to get the crap hand in life. We tag team problems and issues we face and don’t let those things try to wedge us apart.

2. Marriage is teamwork, not a competition.

Newsflash: you’re both human. Neither one of you are perfect, so don’t expect perfection out of your partner, either. Don’t set up high expectations of how you want the other to be, or you will end up utterly disappointed and resentful. Both of those things can be catalysts for divorce proceedings to take place.

When Dan and I first started dating, we would play Army of Two on the Xbox 360 at his place together. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a third person shooter game that is totally dependant on your ability to work together in a cooperative enough way to destroy all of the enemies in your path. You literally cannot beat the game unless you find a way to work together. Like the game, life has these pesky obstacles to throw at you – working together to overcome these things is not only crucial to marriage, it is also oh-so satisfying when you prevail.

3. Make date nights a priority, and continue learning about each other.

Guys, expecting each other to stay exactly the way y’all were when you met is seriously unrealistic. Get that through your head. There will be seasons of life that will challenge you, test those around you, and things in your environment will inevitably change, which can affect you and your significant other. Whether that change is a job, a newfound taste in music or food, or a sudden urge to be social or become a hermit, embrace that change with them. I’ve learned to fall in love with my husband so many times, over and over again.

Dan’s changed a lot since I’ve met him – from an amazing and supportive boyfriend who would bend over backwards to see me smile, to an exceptional father and role-model for our daughter. I am truly blessed and privileged to be able to experience every version of this man for the rest of my life. He definitely keeps me on my toes, in a good way.

4. Find a way to connect every day, even if it’s just a few minutes.

The hectic and demanding work schedules we both have can make it easy for us to just become two ships passing each other in the night. And there are some nights where we are both just so exhausted that it does happen; I’ll end up passing out at 9 pm and he won’t come home until after 11 pm, which means he’s not going to bed until 2 am. We know that this too is temporary, and the season will slow down and allow us to breathe soon. In the moment though, it can be stressful and lonely for both of us to experience.

A good thing that comes out of this though is that it makes us miss each other, and we do get to catch up with each other over a cup of coffee in the morning, or over a glass of wine at night, depending on how the day went. Whether it’s for 30 minutes or 5 minutes, I always look forward to reconnecting with him and spending that time together. It’s the little things that really matter. Really.

5. When the grass seems greener on the other side, water your own damn grass.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Especially when you’re scrolling though Facebook or Instagram and get bombarded with “perfect” relationship pictures and sappy messages of love and commitment. Guess what? These people have problems, too. You just may be too busy focusing on the flaws in your own relationship to see the challenges others may face.

Every relationship is wonderfully different for a reason. Practice gratitude daily and embrace the good things you both bring to the table.

6. Marriage is 100/100.

Divorce is 50/50. In marriage, you give the best of you that you can to each other, and you never give up on each other. Forgive each other and lend your ear as frequently as you can to your spouse. (Sometimes people just need to vent to someone!) At the same time, own your own mistakes and treat your other half with the same respect that you would like.

I’m definitely not a perfect wife. I’m not the best mother, either.

But I am enough for my husband and my daughter. And that’s what really matters at the end of the day – that we have each other, always.

Categories
Issues Love Marriage Parenting

How to love your political opposite.

Guys, I’ve been wanting to post something like this for a long time now, but I am so nervous showing you what you’re about to read – go easy on me!


I remember waking up in the middle of the night after voting earlier that Tuesday morning. Not on purpose, just to see where the heck my husband was when it was so late. It was about 2 am. I dragged myself out of bed to see if he had fallen asleep on the couch again while playing Xbox.

When I entered the living room, I found he was on his computer, happily clicking away at another video game. I looked up at the TV. The news was streaming live. I was amazed that the whole thing was still going on so late. As I watched the results come through the screen, I suddenly felt nauseous.

I grabbed Dan’s attention to the screen, and we caught the final moments of the 2016 presidential election together. We even held hands. It was going to be a defining moment in history, regardless of who won. We could feel the tension seeping through the TV screen.

And then about a half hour later, it was final. News networks started frantically reporting that Clinton had called Trump to concede defeat. The election was over. Trump had won.

I stared blankly at the screen, completely devastated. It felt like I had just witnessed something apocalyptic happen to the entire country, like a nuclear bomb or something. Everyone I saw reporting was shellshocked. Early polls had predicted Hillary as the winner of the election. The news of her defeat came as a complete surprise. Even if it was a very close call.

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The uncertainty that followed the election results caused stocks to plummet that night.

“Are you okay?”

Dan must have noticed how horrified I was. I couldn’t even answer him. My eyes just kind of teared up and I had slumped over in a depressed heap.

“Do you want to get Taco Bell?”

See, this is why I married my husband. He knows the way to my heart.

As we made our way to Taco Bell at 3 in the morning, we finally revealed to each other who we had voted for – I had voted for Hillary, and he had voted for Trump. It was funny how our own household had become a decent representation of the country that night, almost evenly divided.

(Let me enter here that I did not like either candidate. I just didn’t like Trump more.)

And now just over one year later, we’re still here. Not divorced, not hating each other. Happily ever after. The end. Right? If anything, our marriage has become even stronger and more open than ever before!

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gesture during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

See, I knew from the start that Dan and I had some pretty stark differences in politics due to our own experiences and beliefs we held. We don’t disagree on every issue, and we are not one side or the other. We’re kind of in the middle of the whole political spectrum, with opposing viewpoints on topics like immigration, healthcare, etc. We choose to love each other anyway, unconditionally.

I’m actually kind of nervous putting this kind of dysfunction of ours out here for people to read, considering how polarized things have become lately. But I feel it is necessary to discuss since it seems like people just cannot seem to get along these days. I cringe every time I scroll through social media, watching debates devolve into name-calling, nasty fights that compel mutual friends and their friends to unfollow and block each other.

You may have noticed that I have been MIA for a bit here. (Sorry guys!) That’s because my evenings for the last week have been spent with my husband discussing the recent developments of the Florida school shooting that took place recently. This was something that would impact us and many other families. Do we send PJ to public school with this kind of threat present? Should we try homeschooling to keep her safe? Not to mention all of the political debates we engaged in, but I decided to take a break on the blog to discuss this with Dan. This issue was important to both of us.

(We also had a huge number of jobs come in, and I’m not about to pass on some earning opportunities!)

I don’t need to say who said what here, but we disagreed on how to handle it, discussions got emotionally and politically charged, and a few small fights ensued. (Don’t worry, we’ve kissed and made up since!) We will both always choose love for each other over silly things like politics. When stuff like this happens regularly, it’s no wonder that more than 1 in 5 American millennials reported knowing couples whose marriages and relationships have been negatively impacted since the 2016 election. More than 1 in 10 of all Americans have even ended a relationship due to political differences. 

Still, I wanted to share my experience in hopes of helping anyone else out there in a similar predicament. Heck, if this can help anyone else out there get along with someone who may be having trouble getting along with someone else about touchy things like politics, then this post will not be shot down with fiery arrows from possible trolls/haters in vain.

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1. You don’t have to AGREE, just UNDERSTAND.

There are just some things that my husband and I will never ever ever EVER agree on. And this is okay! As long as we can understand why and where each of us is coming from, it can make it easier to forgive, accept, and move on to something else if the argument gets too heated. Simply agreeing to disagree helps bring some closure to the discussion.

For example, Dan likes to eat instant ramen straight out of the package. To me, this is gross and barbaric, even with my college survival stories. I still love him, though.

People have experiences in their own lives that cause them to have some strong emotional reactions, and these can shape our beliefs over time. It’s important to understand while it is okay to accept one’s experience and acknowledge that it is valid, it is NOT okay to use said experiences to cancel out or invalidate the another person’s experience that could have been different from our own. Don’t try to disprove the other points made or *important* change the other’s beliefs! If changing people’s minds was that easy, we wouldn’t have this kind of political divide here in the first place.

Remember, listen to understand here, not just listen to respond.

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2. Remember that you’re still talking to a human being.

Sometimes, my feelings will get in the way and I will end up collapsing in a balled-up, angry-crying heap. There are issues out there that I feel affect me more than others, and are more important and relevant in my life. When my views towards those issues get challenged, it can feel like an attack against me and/or my own experiences that back up those views, like they weren’t real or believable. I also have to remember that Dan has his own views and biases too, and I should treat him with respect during one of those kinds of conversations. If either one of us starts to get heated over the topic, we take a break to collect ourselves and try again later.

Sticking to facts (not ones found on a meme) can help keep the strong emotions out of the debate, and help both of us approach the topics with a cooler head, and help keep a logical mindset. If we end up losing our cool with each other, we forgive and move on.

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On a coffee break in Tiffin, OH at Sabaidee Coffee House.

3. Return to common ground (or find a common enemy).

OK, things got a little heated after a politically charged argument, and now things are awkward.

How’s about a beer and some pizza? Or maybe some Taco Bell? On the night of the election, we decided to come together with some Quesaritos and face the bathroom woes down the road together.

Again, it’s okay to not agree with every single thing in the world. I will acknowledge here that it is easier to hate than to forgive sometimes. But instead of stewing over your loved one’s flawed statements, find something else to hate together! For example, Dan and I hate most country music songs. That is something we can agree on. Better yet, our mutual love for all things pizza can move mountains.

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Straightforward. I like it.

4. Keep sacred things… well, sacred.

In other words, there are times where you should just not even bring up any prior discussions on gun control. Like at a funeral. That one should be obvious.

Other times, it’s not so clear. Perhaps designate dinner time to be politics-free. Don’t try to talk to them through the bathroom door, either.

Or recognize that maybe your spouse doesn’t want to talk about the Women’s March while trying to binge their favorite Netflix show before they have to go to work.

Just pick your battles, people.

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We both agree that our daughter should be able to think critically and be able to talk openly about her own views in the future.

5. Keep in mind what matters most and stay curious.

If anything, I’ve learned to keep an open mind and question my own biases from time to time. Putting myself in someone else’s shoes (quite literally!) can help me understand why they feel the way they do and can be a great learning opportunity. Dan’s parents own a business and have faced their own challenges that come along with that. After putting myself on a job site with them and experiencing those challenges with them, I can better understand the possible perspectives that a business owner could have.

I also like to think that being able to amicably disagree with my own husband also sets a good example for our daughter. She will be influenced by how we react to each other with tough questions and situations, but we do our best to not impose any of our own views on her. We want her to challenge herself and think critically on her own as she gets older.

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6. Take care of yourself.

Politics are only one thing in life that can be unpleasant to deal with. If it gets to be too much, I strongly recommend turning off the computer or putting down the phone and then go do something fun for a while. Being around so much negative and depressing news 24/7 tends to suck the life right out of us.

Dan and I have both agreed that we’ve had a bit too much to handle lately, and to fix that, we’re planning a mini-vacation in the near future where we can go camping and not have to interact with people for a few days. There’s absolutely no shame in retreating away from everything once in a while to recharge your own batteries.

We know we won’t be around forever, anyway. We’ve got to enjoy life as much as we can before we can’t anymore!

Categories
Holidays Love

I’m married and I still think Valentine’s day is dumb.

Something must be wrong with me.

I mean, I have the perfect excuse to celebrate, right? I have a husband. He is pretty awesome. We have an amazing life together. So why do I still loathe the mushy, lovey-dovey holiday?

Blame it on any of my past relationships going sour. Or unrealistic expectations. Whatever the cause, my feelings for Valentine’s Day are anything but warm.

I honestly think it has something to do with the unwarranted pressure to drop a bunch of money on something completely useless, just for the sole purpose of proving our love for each other to those around us.

Hold on… Wasn’t marriage supposed to be the ultimate proof of that? Especially the whole legally binding bit, where we share the house, bank accounts, debt, the baby, basically everything? But I digress…

I definitely don’t mind an excuse to be extra affectionate towards my other half. Isn’t that something that I should be striving to do every day, though?

Sure, there are days where I feel less than loving towards Dan. Sometimes, he’s a jerk. Sometimes, I’m a jerk. Surprise – we’re both human and we’re both not perfect. So why is it that expectations for those in relationships (and those who aren’t) all of a sudden get so ridiculous around this time? It’s easy money.

(I’m looking at you, Fifty Shades Freed.)

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Confession: I’ve never read the books or watched any of the movies. I’m just a hater.

We’re also learned recently that spontaneous romance (and other related things…) can become increasingly difficult to pull off after having a kid. The logistics of planning regular date nights out can feel forced and mechanical like we’re just going through the motions. My heart used to race with excitement and anticipation for a night out. Now it’s pounding from the anxiety of trying to figure out a sitter for PJ and seeing if we could drop the money/time on an outing when we could be using those resources for something more productive. (The coffee could also contribute to those jitters, but I embrace the nervous energy.)

Here’s the thing – Dan and I are comfortable, and that can make us both lazy. Most of the time, we seem to like it that way. Heck, that was one of the things we actually bonded over early on in our relationship. We spent our nights playing Xbox together while gorging ourselves with pizza. We still do that sometimes today for date nights. And I love it. It’s like our little ritual.

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You had me at extra-large pepperoni.

Once in a while, I will long for the early days where we were still trying to look our best for each other every single day while going out to restaurants, parties, camping, traveling… all that magical, exciting, fun stuff. Valentine’s Day makes me feel like I’m not doing enough fun stuff in my life anymore and that I should drop an excessive amount of money just to feel like that again for just one day. It’s ridiculous, but sometimes I fall for that emotional marketing tactic. And I hate it.

But we don’t need a holiday like this to have a healthy relationship with each other. That’s the most important thing to take away from all of this, of course. We’ve been through hell and back together and faced times that definitely tested our bond together.

You don’t need a holiday to practice self-love, either! (I mean, it’s another good excuse to treat yo’ self.) Finding happiness within yourself first is key. It’s the most important. Making someone else solely responsible for your happiness is not healthy. Taking care of yourself first sets the foundation for the ability to share some of that love with someone else.

There is one good thing about Valentine’s Day, in my humble opinion: It helps me remember to take care of what I’ve got and to appreciate the good and the bad in my life. There are different kinds of love to recognize, too! I love my daughter. I love my friends. I love my family. I love PIZZA. The list of things that I’m grateful for can go on…

One of those things on my list? I love the end of Valentine’s Day.

Why?

Because I can get all of the chocolate in the stores for 70% off. That to me is something to truly celebrate.