Marriage is Hard!

Be honest, did the title of this post just totally blow your mind? I mean based upon all the fairytales I’ve read marriage is about living happily ever after. And happily ever after shouldn’t be hard or difficult, it should be natural and easy, right!? Wrong!

 

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My husband and I just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. We received many congratulations and well wishes for the future which we both greatly appreciated but it was one statement, more like a label of us that really had me thinking. On more than one occasion we were referred to as the ‘perfect couple’ which I realized was merely a term of endearment but it did make me think, did we actually look like a perfect couple from the outside? Just the thought alone had me giggling. We are far from perfect, in fact we are the perfect example of trial and error. We are a work in progress. We have learned from our mistakes and past experiences and from other’s mistakes and experiences. We are also very blessed to have parents who have 70+ years of experience between the two marriages.

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Our parents support and advice have been invaluable. Now I realize everyone is not as fortunate and sometimes parents model a much more complicated path. This is when advice from other married couples, like us, can be very valuable. But I would warn that most advice should be taken with a grain of salt. If it sounds to good to be true than it probably is.  Thus, my first bit of advice is to be careful whose advice you take (anyone else see the irony in that? Ha-ha!).

It was 2005 and my husband and I were sitting in a preparing for baptism class for our future child. We were at a large table with 5 or 6 other expectant parents. The couple running the meeting, who had been married for 15 years started to discuss how much our lives and marriage would change after children. They addressed how we would need to be a team and lookout for each other. Then a couple attending the meeting asked about arguments and how to handle them in front of children. The response the couple running the meeting gave sent me into full on shock!! Eyes bulging, mouth wide open shock! The couple expressed to the group of expectant parents that they never argue or disagree, NEVER! Did I mention I was shocked by their response!? I so badly wanted to stand up, point my finger at them and scream LIAR, LIAR, pants on fire…but that wasn’t the way a mature expecting mother should act.  I did however find comfort in the fact that my husband’s expression mirrored my own. I have to say that was the WORST advice/support I have ever been given with regard to marriage. News flash, married couples argue and if you don’t then chances are someone is holding a LOT of stuff in, which is SO not good for your marriage. Learning how to disagree/argue is an important part of marriage because trust me, you will be arguing and disagree on things for the rest of your live….on things like chores, finances, what color car to purchase, where to send children to school, how to pack a car efficiently, how to load a dishwasher efficiently, etc.

The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.

-Joseph Joubert-

Learning how to argue? What? Like it is difficult? Well, actually it can be at times. It is in the heat of the moment, when we can’t see straight and are so pissed off that the WORST things leak out of our mouths. We attack; we want to hurt by any means possible, we want the other person to feel pain. But wait, didn’t you marry that person because you want the best for them, because you love them, and would never dream of hurting them? See what I mean? You need to learn how to argue as a couple. Discuss it and set boundaries when you are in a state of peace. Because trust me, whenever two people live together their will be disagreements and preparation is key to resolving the conflict and eliminating verbal wounds.

 

Simple rules I live by when it comes to disagreements:

  1. Attack the issue not the person….It can be tempting to address a character flaw when your husband hasn’t put the seat down for the umpteenth time but DON’T! Stay focused on the issue, the toilet seat. (Stick with the good old, “I feel_____ when you____”….I feel insignificant when you leave the seat up).
  2. Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes…perhaps he was rushing quickly to help one of the children and totally forgot about the seat. Haven’t you done something similar before? What about the keys you left in the door last week? And remember how understanding your spouse was?
  3. Find a resolution…perhaps it is time to get a seat that slowly closes on its own.
  4. Forgive. Holding a grudge only harms your health and your marriage. Remember we are all human, we are ALL flawed, and we all make mistakes. THIS IS THE HARDEST STEP, especially when we forget #1 and attack each other instead of the issue.

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The thing is chances are you will not resolve the issue the first or even second time you argue about it. But eventually with age, patience, and conviction the problem will become resolved, or something bigger will take its place. The important thing is that you balance the good with the bad. Make time to grow together, spend time together, and have date nights, weekend getaway…remember why you fell in love in the first place.

Love is by definition focused on its object. If I’m thinking about me, I am not focused on loving my man.

-Elspeth, Traditional Christianity, The Heart of the Five Love Languages-

It is 2014 and society tells us that our happiness is what matters; we should be self-serving at all times. But that isn’t authentic happiness. The truth is the moment you allow marriage to be all about you is the moment it begins to deteriorate. Marriage is all about putting someone else’s needs before your own. Hard, right!?  I know it can seem exhausting but when both spouses are giving selflessly to one another it is beautiful. But the things with marriage is that there are different seasons. There will be times when you and your spouse are so in sync and then the next month you aren’t. Like I said marriage is hard. Marriage is something that you need to tend to on a daily basis and there will be days when you just don’t feel like giving it your all. Days when you are just not feeling the love so-to-speak. It is on those days or those seasons in your marriage when commitment needs to be your focus. Not one couple is in love 24/7…and if anyone tells you that I would suggest you cross them off you list of great advisors.

 

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Ever hear someone say, “I have fallen out of love”, “I am no longer in love”?   Love is a two way street. How on Earth can someone be expected to give love day in and day out if they do not receive it? If only one spouse is constantly giving and the other just takes and takes and takes it will eventually drain the relationship. Love is a choice and it takes work.  Do your actions show love? To say “I love you” is endearing but empty if not followed up by action that expresses that love. Love is something that can be shown through our actions.

Show your love to your spouse:

Do something for your spouse every day that expresses that you choose love. Grab your spouse coffee, text a sweet note during the day, etc. Please feel free to comment with a few ideas or share small things you do for your spouse.

And last but certainly not least, thank GOD!

In conclusion, there is no perfect couple. No matter how perfect any couple looks it is important to remember that each has their own issues, struggles, and at times even heartache. I know my husband and I have had our fair share. But the real key to a lasting marriage is to keep a 3rd party present at ALL times, GOD. There are moments in marriage when both parties throw up their hands and God takes the wheel.

 

If you are going through a difficult season in your marriage or know of another couple who is here are some great resources:

The Selfish Spouse

Healing a Marriage When Trust is Broken

12 Ways to Fix Your Marriage

Healing the Emotionally Abusive Marriage

 

Please share your thoughts

The Happy’s (vlog)

What’s better than a house full of 9 children? A house with children and The Happy’s!! What are the Happy’s?

 

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Amazingly Adorable, remarkably real pets that really play with you!

They scamper, they pounce and they sit up and beg! The Happy’s are the only line of interactive puppy and kitty special feature plush pets that play, can be trained to perform tricks and make 25+ silly sounds.

The Happy’s love to play keep away or chase their ball in a puppy pile up!

Hold the Happy treat and they’ll come running to show off a trick!

The Happy’s will even dance to their favorite Samba tune, drive a car and ride a skateboard!

The Happy’s are a pet-palooza of pure magic! Source

 

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The children absolutely adored these cute cuddly little critters. Here the video that captures the fun had during our playdate, enjoy!

 

My children have had such a wonderful time getting to know the Happy’s they are saving up their money in order to collect the remaining 4. If you are looking for the perfect pet…that doesn’t require food, vet bills, training, etc. be sure to visit your local Toys-R-us, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, or Justice today and bring home a cut cuddly new family member, one of the Happy’s (or collect all 8!). In the meantime have the kiddos checkout The Happy’s website for fun online games and activities.

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“Disclosure: I received free products in order to host the Cepia, LLC sponsored MommyParty. The opinions expressed here are my own.”

Sugar Binge

Easter is by far my most favorite time of the year. However there is one pesky little thing I could do without, sugar! During Lent we hold off on the sweets. We manage to go without the candy, cupcakes, cookies, etc. for 40 days (with the exception of a b-day party or two), 40 DAYS! And then in a single day we more than make up for all 40 days’ worth of sugar. And then it hits the system, HARD!

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Mom down! Seriously, Easter morning my stomach was aching from the sweets I had consumed the evening before (We hosted Easter at our house on Saturday, loved it! Can’t wait till next year!). All I ate was two sugar cookies and I was a mess. And the worst part was since I had a taste of the sweet stuff after all these days I want more, I started craving sweets. That sweet goodness, why must it taste so good, WHY!? (As I stand here typing this I am literally nibbling on coffee cake, and no, not the cake part, the amazing clumps of sugar, butter, and cinnamon on top. I can’t get enough). It is seriously like an addiction. And like all addiction they hit people in different ways. I am obviously a “can’t hold her sugar” type of gal were our youngest daughter is quite the opposite.

 

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The more sugar she consumed the more rambunctious she became (pic above shows her on her 2nd Shirley Temple…it got to a point were I double-checked that it was indeed Shirley Temple) I was literally looking forward to the sugar crash but it NEVER happened! She just kept going like the energizer bunny. She is clearly more of the “party animal”. After 2 Shirley Temples, jelly beans, and chocolate she managed to get a fan stuck in her hair but yet had no time to get it untangled.

 

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Next year I don’t know if I should have them build up their tolerance or say no to candy all together. Adults are bad at not indulging on Easter why should we expect the children to be any better? And don’t get me started on the dyes they put in all that candy. They will be pooping the rainbow for the next 3 days!

So what kind of relationship do you have with sugar? How do you limit your family’s sugar intake? Do you make exception for holidays? Please share.

 

Resurrection Eggs

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After church on Sunday the children went on a Resurrection Egg hunt. For those not familiar, Resurrection eggs are a set of 12 plastic Easter Eggs each containing a specific object inside related to the true story of Easter (crown of thorns, dice, chalice, etc.). Each egg has a scripture reading, devotion, and short story that accompany the small item placed inside the egg.

 

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Since they had just listened to the Palm Sunday gospel reading of the Passion and the younger two discussed it more in-depth in Sunday school everything was fresh in their minds. So first I hid the eggs and they each went hunting for the eggs then we read the scripture reading and had the children guess what was inside each egg before they opened it. 

 

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It was priceless seeing their excitement before opening each egg. And I was pleasantly surprised how many they guessed correctly.

 

 

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We officially started a new family tradition, Palm Sunday Resurrection Eggs hunt and discussion to help prepare the children for Holy week. Our daughter even came up with the idea of placing them in our Easter basket to be blessed.

 

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If you are interested in making your own Resurrection Eggs the following sites offer free printables and instructions:

The Simple Home

Life Your Way

Play Eat Grow

Or purchase your own like I did by Family Life (from Hobby Lobby, 40% off, score!!) and the Family Life website has some great tips, idea, etc. for using the Resurrection eggs.

 

 

Kids, Pets, & Life Lessons

Say hello to the newest member of our family, Angel!

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Angel the Guinea pig has quickly found a soft spot in each of our hearts. In fact the first night in our home all 3 kiddos slept by the cage, it was precious.

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And for the first week our son slept next to the cage which resides in his room. He officially has a roommate! See, he has been begging for a roommate ever since we brought home our youngest daughter and the girls started sharing a room. He felt left out because mommy and daddy are roommates, the girls are roommates, but he was lacking a roommate. Finally, the problem has been solved. Lol!

But let’s be honest, that first week, or even month, with a new pet is amazing but then the novelty wears off a bit. And that is when the life lessons begin!

 

 

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Life Lessons Kids learn by having a pet…..

Responsibility:

Having a pet is fun and they are very cute and cuddly but they are also a lot of work. Having a pet teaches children that their needs will not always come first (what an invaluable life lesson!) they need to consider the needs of the pet. For example, the kids were blaring music upstairs and then they took into consideration the Guinea pig’s little ears and they moved the CD player to another room and turned it down. They are learning empathy and compassion. They are learning that their pets rely fully on them to provide for their every need. They are learning responsibility.

Commitment:

It is important for the children to learn that they have made a commitment to care for this pet for the rest of its life. There is no returning it to the store because they don’t like the noises it makes at night, or because they would rather go play with their friends instead of cleaning up after it, or because it is misbehaving, etc. Each of these reasons is an opportunity for the child to grow, to work on their problem-solving skills and to manage their time wisely (when to schedule time to clean/feed/play with pet). Bottom line, once a child makes a commitment they need to follow through with that commitment and this is a very valuable life lesson.

Consequences:

It is vital that children learn that their actions have consequences. If they do not feed the pets they will starve, if they leave chocolate out and the dog eats it he will become very ill, if the Guinea pig’s cage isn’t cleaned weekly then the room will smell, if the cage is left open the Guinea pig will escape, etc.

How to deal with Loss:

As a mom I want to do everything to protect my children from anything that may hurt them, even their own feelings, but that would be doing them a disservice as a mom. Which is why having a pet is the perfect way to address the fact that everything has a lifespan, there is a circle of life, and everything will die. Though the process can be a difficult one it is good to have the lines of communication open and discuss the good times had with the pet, and how much joy the pet brought into your lives.

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We recently lost our cat and our entire family found comfort in the happy memories we shared. And we all agreed that we would rather have had her in our lives for the limited time she was here then to have never had her in our lives at all. The pain of losing her, though intense, was worth it in order to have all the love and attention she brought into our lives during her time on this planet. And learning how to handle the strong emotions that come with loss is another invaluable life lesson!

Do your children have pets? What other life lessons would you add to the list?