This weekend, Andy and I got away. We left the kids with my brother and parents and ran off on a little weekend just for us. Now, I had some aspirations of putting on a couples weekend myself through the church but frankly, these people at Family Life have been doing it for a really long time and they are just good at it. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Several couples from the church went.
I’m not very big on these conferences. After all, Andy and I have been married 10 years. What more could we need to learn about being married? We’ve already made it!
I know. It’s a little arrogant and naive.
I got there expecting to use the experience as time for Andy and I and basically ignore the speakers and play on my phone and just enjoy being away from my needy kids for a while.
It was so much more than that. When you have 3 kids you slowly lose touch with your spouse and it is so subtle. You are parenting, working, living… only sometimes sleeping. So if there is a conversation that needs to happen, often it gets pushed off because there is no conversation that is going to happen that takes longer than 30 seconds. And Family Life knows how to ask the questions that make those conversations happen.
All I’m saying is, there is alot I have to learn about Andy. There is alot he has to learn about me and although we are happy, we need weekends like this to remind us of that.
If you get a chance to do one, take it. It’s worth it.
Soooo… This article is not about vaccination. It is not about whether there are toxins or not or schedules or celebrity opinions.
What has come to be a debate in my own mind is public safety. I have heard people (in the wake of this measles outbreak) stating that vaccinations should be mandatory.
Are we really going to hold someone down and shoot something (remember, we aren’t taking about whether this thing is good or bad for you) into their body against their will or their consenting guardians will? Is the issue of public safety more important than the publics freedom to choose?
Truth: I don’t know. If you believe in herd immunity, vaccination is a big deal because the more we do it the safer we are. This would speak to the issue of forcing vaccinations as protecting those to young or immunocompromised to get vaccinated. However, is that removing a fundamental human right? The right to parent how we choose, the right to our own body being molested?
If you read my articles, you know that there are many (most) times when I make grammatical errors and/or spelling mistakes so you may not believe I have much to say about how to use the English language. I hope you will indulge me and read my little observation about phrasing and how it has changed my life.
I recall a time not so long ago when I was talking to another mother (I was barely beginning my foray into motherhood), and the sentence went something like this, “Well, I’m sure she is a great mother but…” And that ellipsis was a slew of uncomplimentary comments that ground the ladies parenting down to nothing. Had she heard me, she would have thought I wanted to send her and her “great parenting” off to social services!
So… I was told many many times that phrasing is important and although I am not perfect at this yet, I find that the simple turn of phrase is a great way to change your way of speaking about things and therefore looking at things. For example, “She makes mistakes like we all do but she does this amazing thing…” And THAT ellipsis builds up. THAT ellipsis includes. What comes after that ellipsis tends to take her to new heights and give hope.
If you expect that when you get married and have a baby, that baby will be first in both your lives…. get over it now. Babies and kids take up alot of time because they can’t feed themselves and they need to be changed and then they have to be dressed and even when they are partially self sufficient, we can’t boot them out the door at 6 and expect them to be successful. They have to be supported and taught.
However, this should not take priority over your husband/wife. This has been discussed over and over at length, even by me. I’m not divorced and I don’t have other children that are not Andy’s and he has no other’s that are not mine. It’s hard for me to comment on a situation with which I have no experience but I would venture to say that even when you’re children are not mutual, they should not take priority over your marriage.
One way you can show this to your spouse is by getting some childcare every now and then (weekly is ideal but not always practical), so you can both do something together without the kids. Another way is to not allow the kids to interrupt a conversation between mommy and daddy. Another good way to to set a very strict bedtime (in your room) time for the kids allowing mommy and daddy to have a few minutes alone at the end of everyday to communicate without being asked for snacks, water, help with this project, a story, and/or any other plethora of things they want from you.
What are your ideas? How do you make time for your spouse in a parenting world that makes the kids kings?
So, we are all grown ups, presumably, when we get married and yet there are many times when I see a relationship circling the toilet bowl because one or the other or both are being treated like children.
Ladies – Men are grown ups. How many times have I heard, “He couldn’t survive if I was gone for a few days.” I beg to differ. He might be eating out of a can for a while but he will survive. He might not put the kid in anything but jammies for 3 days but they will both survive. Men can handle life and parenting and all of that without us. It doesn’t mean they want to. I just means they can. They can learn to cook. They are capable of cleaning the house. They can get a job on their own and they will figure out how to schedule their own dental appointments. They can handle it. And sometimes we REALLY need to let them… WITHOUT CRITICIZING! It’s important for us to let them do the dishes and then not fix it if it wasn’t done our way. It’s important for us to let them make a meal and then eat it and not say anything about how it could have been better.
Men – Women are grown ups. They can put together a dresser, change a tire and drive just as good if not better than you. Women are completely capable of holding down a job, mowing the lawn and taking out the trash. Ladies can do anything you can do… and it’s important for you to let us sometimes. This isn’t the death of chivalry. But just as you don’t like being criticized, neither do we. It’s not fun being a superwoman. It’s not fun doing it all. But it’s possible.
Once you realize that you are not needed like a parent is needed by a baby but wanted, your relationship will change for the better. I promise.
It’s important to communicate with your partner. Not only is it nice to speak kindly but it’s important to let them in on your life. You cannot be secretive or keep things to yourself or even just forget to check in. You MUST communicate smoothly with your partner. They need to know.
Andy and I text throughout the day. I tell him where I’m going and he tells me the same. I let him know if I’m leaving the house, where I’m headed and if I have an ETA. He lets me know if he’s going to get something to eat or if I need to leave the meal out that I made for the kids so he can have some later. He texts me if he finds that he is not needing to work on a night when I expect him to be working and he lets me know when he’s on his way home just in case I need him to stop at the store for something.
Little things need to be communicated, regardless of whether you think that’s important or not. It is courtesy. It is communication. REMEMBER! Speak. Tell. Don’t make your partner pull things out of you. Offer the information. Be aware of them and their needs.
Ok, so I happened to be privy to one side of a conversation between a husband and wife (wife side), when the phone rang, the wife, having been awoken from a sound sleep by the call, didn’t even listen to one thing the husband said before she berated him for calling when he knew she was sleeping. At that moment, I changed my mind about how I was going to talk to my husband.
My cousin Jay told me that men just want to be treated nice. This is also true of women. I believe that familiarity breads contempt, But we did WANT to live together, after all. Can’t we just talk nice? I’m amazed at how mean I hear people talk to each other. BOTH SIDES!!!
I’ve heard husbands treat their wives like dirt and women parent their husbands. Come on, people! Expectations that your mate will be a certain way or conform to a set of behaviors will inevitably bring out the “teacher” in everyone. Watch your tone of voice and realize that when someone tells you that you are making them feel a certain way, you need to take note and think about how you are treating them.
Remember you are not your mates teacher. You ‘are their helpmate, their partner, their buddy!
How many of us are selfish and want our own way? (Yes, you better be raising your hand because we all are.)
Truth: When two people hop into a relationship, they are saying, “Hey, let’s do (at least some) stuff together.” They aren’t always going to agree and they aren’t always going to want to give in. Couples don’t have to do everything together. But if you never agree and never compromise then you aren’t in a relationship. You are roommates… maybe.
You cannot expect your partner to change or do things. We cannot change other’s – only ourselves. This means that you, yes you, must be the one to compromise. DON’T GIVE YOUR PARTNER A LOOK RIGHT NOW!
You have to be the one to change your mind.
When Andy and I first got married, I had a very definite way I wanted the house kept. When he didn’t meet that expectation, I had three options: divorce him, keep up the house myself with no expection for him to help, change my mind about how the house should be kept. Option 2 and option 3 are equally acceptable in this situation. Do not expect you partner to do anything. Either do it yourself or give up the expectation that it should be done.
There are a few things that one should expect in a relationship – mutual respect for one. A person should be able to be in a relationship and expect not to be cheated on. They should also feel free from abuse – verbal, mental, and physical.
One thing that puts relationships on the rocks from the get go is when one person is “saving” the other. There is no thought for compatibility. You must realize from the beginning that if you are either being saved or saving, this relationship is doomed. You cannot save someone (with a romantic relationship OR a friendship or any type of relationship) from poverty, depression, mental illness, or addiction. A person who is saved by another is automatically obligated to that person, no matter how much that savior insists they are not. A person who saves someone automatically has the expectation that the saved person will not fall back into the pit they were pulled out of and there is to much hurt when they do to not create relationship killing tension.
Real compatibility must be free of expectation. This means that there are common interests but no expectation for someone who is not a camper to become one once the relationship has been going for a while. There may be inside jokes between a couple but there can be no expectation for a partner to make your day better by being funny.
Do not expect someone to convert to your religion or keep your customs. Do not expect a partner to want to honor every family tradition you are used to. Do not expect an understanding of a culture someone did not grow up in.
I’m not saying that people who do not share a common religion, race and/or culture should not be together but if you find a special someone and expect them to move to another country, join a new church or learn to cook a new cuisine just to satisfy you, you are kidding yourself.
What do you think? Am I totally off base? Should we expect someone to change themselves for us? Are my rules unreasonable?
For some reason, Hollywood loves to present romance and love and all things relationship with the “all you need is love” mentality. Why do they do that to us? Love ain’t enough.
First of all, the older we get, the more our bodies change. We won’t be that wonderful combination of super model and girl next door forever. You can’t expect that a woman will pop out three kids and look like a Hollywood starlet. You can’t expect that a man will work like a dog to provide you with what you need and still have abs like he did when his life centered around working out and playing video games.
Snuggling: well, we all know that peoples limbs fall asleep and a chest isn’t as comfortable as a pillow. Sex is messy and life is hard and we all need a sleep number bed and maybe a CPAP someday so…. There’s that.
Love is not grand romantic gestures and kissing in the rain. Do that sometimes if you can but remember that the best relationships are the ones that have a husband who makes coffee for his wife every morning and a wife that jumps up and kisses him as soon as he walks through the door every day. They are the ones who make each other a priority all the time and who just plain treat each other nice.
What has your experience been? Have you been as frustrated with Hollywood’s portrayal of love as I have?