Settle For The Best Part 2………….

In February I wrote about red flags to avoid in dating and relationships. Ever since then I wanted to share the other side, ie, what qualities to look for in a potential partner. This spring Chad and I celebrated 10 years together (since our first date) and I thought this would be the perfect time to give you a little insight into what my experience was and how I knew Chad was “the one.”

So Chad and I met online in 2008. You can read my list of safety tips for online dating here. On that list, I believe I wrote about how you need to choose to go out on dates with guys who respect your safety rules. Right off the bat, Chad impressed me because he was totally open to traveling to my city and arriving separately to each of our date locations (there were 2). When you have a person who is down with going out of their way to make you feel safe, you have a good one.

But what initially drew me in was after our first conversation over internet chat? He asked me if he could give me a hug.

I know it seems kinda cheesy and weird to ask for a hug online, which apparently you do like this ((persons name here)), but I was still flattered. Asking for permission before any intimate contact lets the person you are interested in know that they are valued in your eyes.

Then came our second date. We went to a Weird Al concert and then afterward I had a bladder accident. And Chad was completely chill. I cleaned up and we continued our date….and ended up in the ER because Chad came down with a bad migraine.

When we first arrived at the ER, Chad’s name was called to go back into the intake and Chad wanted me to come back with him, even though we had just started dating. During the intake, they asked for his social security number.

There was no way Chad could have lied about that piece of information. Of course, I had gained a bit of trust in him before this moment, but knowing that he trusted me to have this information was a big sign to me.

We celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary late last week. Earlier this summer I found this meme online and fell in love again:
Facebook Cover Photo Guac

And I wish that every kid in high school, college, and beyond would get a print out of this and put it on their bedroom wall as a reminder of how valuable they are. To not settle for free chips and salsa, but wait for the guacamole that they deserve.

It was because of this meme that I decided to totally lean into the avocado theme and rename my subscriber’s anxious avocados. Because I want to be a reminder to you that you deserve the best, no matter what that looks like.

Cheers!

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Blog-a-versary and Coping With Long Hours Part Duex

(7:12PM EST) Bloggers Note: Ok kids, I can already tell that this is not gonna go up before GMT kicks in so the date on today’s blog will be 2/12 even though it’s still 2/11. I keep trying to upload earlier, but my schedule right now won’t let me. Hopefully this will change soon…..

Hey guys, guess what?? Can you believe that today marks my one year anniversary for blogging? Or blog-a-versary if you will. When the Lord first laid this blog on my heart, I wanted to be obedient but I didn’t know how long this would last. It’s still amazing to me that I’ve had so many things to write about in the last year and that my posts have helped so many. I am currently in the process of finding a publisher for my book (I still can’t believe it’s actually coming together as quick as it has) and am looking forward to helping more people in the next year through my blog. Thank you for being a part of this journey.


So yesterday I laid out some ways to focus your thinking when you have a spouse that works long hours. Today I thought I’d make a list of things you can do to help encourage your spouse while they work long hours. This list is certainly not complete as I’m sure there are other things I’ve not thought of, but these are things I’ve found that have helped encourage Chad during this season: 

1. Love notes: My primary love language is words of encouragement, so I got this one on lock ;-). When your spouse is at work, write out little encouraging notes for them on post-it notes and stick them around the house for them to find. Alternatively if you’ve been together for a long time, write down a memory on each note from your life together. This will also help you remember why you are together, since the season of working long hours can be draining to your psyche.

2. Help them get ready for their shift. In our house this includes making sure his coffee container is full and, on the days he takes his lunch/dinner, making sure it is packed. Also making sure his uniform is freshly laundered is a helpful thing you can do. (Sidenote: While some may argue getting your husband’s clothes and food together to go to work is part of a subservient role, please realize that that attitude is pure horse-pucky! 😛 A successful marriage is two people who share the workload. You are partners. You both hustle!)

3. Pray with them. Prayer is one of the most supportive things you could do to encourage your spouse.

4. Try and follow their schedule. When they sleep, you sleep. I know this one is a bit out there, but if you don’t have a job outside your home or you work from home and you can have a flexible schedule, try to follow their schedule. In this way you can have time together. I would, however, recommend that you don’t follow their sleep schedule to a tee. Overlapping is the better approach. Go to bed a bit earlier than they do and get up before they do so you are able to get a load of laundry started or the dishes done.

Following these tips has helped us get through this season so far. We hope the same for you. Remember, you are NOT alone.

Cheers!

Tune that is appropriate for today appears courtesy of Youtube

To the Newlywed Whose Spouse Works Long Hours

There is snow on the ground, our oldest cat has been walking around sneezing and hissing at anything that moves and I just got bit. Yep, just another typical Wednesday! While she’s taking what I hope to be a LONG nap, let’s get into our topic of the day…..

Before I got married I had visions of making lavish dinners and having the house clean and dinner on the table when Chad came home from work. Oh, and I’d  be doing this while wearing a vintage dress and high heels circa 1950’s. Fast forward to now and reality is much different. I can’t wear high heels, I can count on one hand the number of dinners we’ve had sitting at the dinner table, and our idea of “lavish” is instant mashed potatoes jueged up with fresh garlic, basil and red pepper flakes. And now that I’ve accidentally given away the recipe for my famous mashed potatoes, I’ll have to add another ingredient to throw you off. 😛

More recently though, Chad and I have had dinners separately. Yes, we are still madly in love(and still dancing in the checkout aisle 😉 ). But life has come in and made our routine a bit, in the words of Phoebe from FRIENDS, floopy. We’ve become more nocturnal and are in a season where we can’t spend as much time together as we’d like.

As I’m sure there are other couples out there that are in the same boat, I thought today I’d make a list of things to encourage you if your spouse is in a season of working long hours.

1. Don’t let Satan steal your joy and fill you with the lie that your spouse doesn’t love you and that is why they are working long hours.

2. Focus on the big picture. In this season realize that because of the long hours, your bills are being paid and your savings (and emergency fund) are being built and strengthened. Trust the Lord. You can’t see what is down the road, but He can. Maybe there will be unexpected bills from car breakdowns or water pipe bursts. Or you may need to take the cat into the vet because she won’t stop sneezing. Working long hours will allow you to do this without going further into debt.

3. Lean on your support system. Ideally this would include at least one other person that also has a spouse working long hours. God has blessed me with the best sisters-in-law who are in the same boat as I am and they are an amazing resource on days when I need encouragement.

4. Pray for your spouse. I’ve said this before, but now more than ever does your spouse need spiritual encouragement for strength and stamina.

5. On those frustrating days when you miss your spouse and start filling with resentment, take a deep breath and repeat this mantra: “This is for the greater good and is just a temporary situation”

I know having your spouse work freakishly long hours is hard, especially if you’ve just said, “I do.” But I promise the list above can help take the edge off.

Remember you are not alone. 🙂

Cheers!

The Good Fight: A Primer For Newlyweds on How to Navigate Your First Fight

Ah, marriage. In the beginning everything is bliss. You’ve  even convinced yourself that your spouse’s poop smells of rainbows and glitter. (Ok, that may be a lie. To be honest I don’t even know if rainbows and glitter smell all that nice. I guess that’s just implied since they look so pretty, they’d have a pleasing aroma.)

So you are coasting along in martial bliss, smelling rainbow and glitter poop, when suddenly, without warning, it happens: your first fight. This can be a disorienting time for you and your spouse if you’ve gotten along well before this point. Today I wanted to offer some tips and words of wisdom to help you both navigate this time. 

1. Avoid putting your spouse on a pedestal.

Your spouse is your knight-in-shining-armor or your tiara-decked queen. Because of how highly you value them, you may be tempted to put them on a pedestal. Don’t. If you put them on a pedestal, it will crush you when the inevitable happens: They fall. They will fall every time because of their imperfect human-ness. You can avoid this disappointment by realizing that even on the best days, your spouse will make mistakes and is just as worthy of forgiveness as you are when you fail.

2. Put your pride aside and own your part of the fight.

I am a reformed yeller. Because I can sometimes start yelling during an argument, my spouse finally confided in me (after an occasion where yelling commenced) that my yelling made him uneasy. Knowing this broke my heart. Your spouse is supposed to be your confidant, your soft place to fall, and the last thing I wanted was for my husband to feel uneasy around me. So, I made a vow to work on my response to conflict. If an argument escalates, I take a step back, take a few deep breaths and calmly communicate my side.

3. If necessary, seek outside counsel.

I once believed that the best investment in our marriage we ever made was a memory foam mattress (one of us is a snorer and it helped eliminate this)  😉 , but having a few years of marriage under my belt, I can say the best investment we have ever made in our marriage is counseling.

Sometimes it’s worth it to hear from a neutral 3rd party on ways to improve your marriage and handle conflict.

4. Understand that after your first fight, your marriage will never be the same, but that’s OK.

It will be in a more mature, honest place. Over time your marriage will change, but that is how you grow: Together, till death do you part.

*Disclaimer: I realize that not all couples are necessarily skilled in conflict resolution, and sometimes situations may unfortunately escalate. Please understand that physical violence and emotional abuse are never justified. If you find yourself in those situations, please seek help. You can seek confidential help at www.thehotline.org.

A Quickie on Romance……

No, I’m not gonna talk about that part of romance, but at least I got your attention 😉 . Being married not even two years, many would say that maybe we aren’t qualified to offer romance tips to keep things lively, but I’m gonna do it anyway. Besides, we were together for years before we married. 

1. Be spontaneous: Romance doesn’t just happen when you take the time to light candles and have an awesome meal prepared. Romance can happen anywhere. So go ahead and dance with your spouse when you are in the check out lane at the grocery store (pro tip-if you plan to do ‘the dip’, make sure you are away from any candy or magazine racks that your spouse could bonk their head on)

2. Recite your favorite movie lines (bonus points if you can do it in the character’s voice): One of our favorite movies is The Princess Bride. A few nights ago, just for fun, I was able to recite most of Miracle Max’s lines during a pivotal scene. My husband and I both erupted in peals of laughter. Being able to laugh and be silly together is the mark of a strong bond. Strengthen this often.

3. Surprise them with their favorite meal: I admit it, I’m not much of a cook. But for some reason my husband LOVES my mashed potatoes. And he has a demanding job that leaves him pretty hungry when he comes home. Making his favorite mashed potatoes is just another way of saying, “I love you and appreciate what you do for our family.”

I think that about covers it folks. Movies, check-out lane dancing, and mashed potatoes are the hallmark of a successful marriage. Eh, at least it works for us. 😛

Cheers!

*cartoon depicting what not to do appears courtesy of: http://www.cartoonstock.com

For the Love of All That is Pure and Holy DON’T TOUCH THE HAIR!!

This weekend our church held their annual fundraiser for the youth. The fundraiser included a silent auction and dinner. The silent auction featured gifts donated by church members as well as things donated by the community at large. These prizes included a basket of movie goodies for a movie night, a spa basket with mani/pedi supplies as well as other hand-made fare. But the most creative silent auction item, besides dinner hosted and cooked by the church pastors? Someone had bravely donated their hair. Yes. They allowed the highest bidder a chance to give their beard the heave-ho. The beard was shaved to the tune of $100. Now the person that donated the money wasn’t the one to actually shave the beard as the man’s daughter was too excited to do it herself. But the shorn hair was put into a nice jar and given to the benefactor as a lovely addition to their mantle. Or something. Yeah, I can’t even believe I just wrote that, but I swear that’s how it went down.

Anyway, on our way home from watching the above described “Event Of the Year,” my husband and I began talking about hair. Specifically the possibility of donating my husband’s hair as an item in next years auction. Apparently we weren’t the only ones to talk about it, as I’ve since heard rumblings from people in our congregation wondering how much it could possibly go for.

See, my husbands hair is kinda spectacular. A self-proclaimed “Metal Head,” my husband’s music of choice is Christian Metal from the 80’s. He also has the perfect hair with which to engage in head banging activities when the mood strikes. Normally it’s around the house when he wants to antagonize our oldest cat. And yes, I am as surprised as you that he’s managed so far to avoid getting his head scratched to bits by angry claws of rage. Not only is it long, but it contains natural, beachy waves that would make any girl with stick straight hair jealous.

So back to the conversation in the car. This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed the length of my husband’s hair and how it’d look if it were significantly shorter. No, this conversation has been happening, off and on, since we’ve been together. Next month this conversation will be 7 years old. This time around I again reassured my husband that it could look very handsome even if it was much shorter than he’d seen it before. I then jokingly suggested he just shave the whole thing off. In jest, he suggested that if I did the same we’d have matching shunt scars (he also has a shunt…long story…). At that point negotiations abruptly shut down. We were at an impasse.

Having the same conversation for nearly 7 years has taught me one thing. As long as it’s not negatively affecting his health, why should I goad my husband into doing something I’m not willing to do myself. Since growing my hair out for the last year, I’ve come to understand why some women cry when getting their hair cut for the first time in years. Growing long hair takes time, patience and work. To cut it off after all that can be seen as a bit of a waste.

So, as all married couples have to do from time to time, we settled on a compromise. This week we will both go into the salon….for trims.

I hope this helps you if you are experiencing an impasse in your own marriage. Remember you are not alone. I’ll see you again tomorrow.

Cheers!

stryper-club-nokia

*Stryper appears courtesy of: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/stryper-club-nokia.jpg&imgrefurl=http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/2012/05/michael_sweet_of_stryper_we_ha.php?page%3Dall&h=219&w=230&tbnid=wIYJLPAQTUF1-M:&zoom=1&tbnh=186&tbnw=195&usg=__fG8W0Rkq9i8Z2J4f-YY9t2_R_uA=&docid=IbOLTl0KanyciM&itg=1&client=opera

“You May Now Kiss the Bride…And Pass the Antacids!”

Today I am in recovery mode from a wedding I attended on Saturday. No, not because of that, I only had a small glass of wine ;-). From what am I recovering? Simply put, I ate too much!

Weddings are fun. As a guest you get to go, eat your weight in amazing food and cake-or pie in this case, and then attempt to work it off by dancing. It’s really the perfect weight-loss scenario. Except when you overdo it. Today I stand before you as exhibit A. 😀

The wedding this weekend was beautiful. The primary colors were white and gold and large feathery pom balls were used to decorate the church in place of flowers. Some commented that it looked like something out of Dr. Seuss; a bit of whimsy. As I sat there during the ceremony, I couldn’t help thinking back to our wedding almost two years ago….

As a child, I had dreamed of my wedding many times. I always envisioned a large congregation at the church with a great feast at the reception. There would be speeches and dancing. Fun would be had by all. At one point in my childhood I even picked out bridesmaids dresses from the JCPenney catalogue. They were a hideous shade of rhubarb pink.

Years passed, and the dreams of my perfect wedding continued. There were still lots of people gathered and a delicious feast. Then I became engaged to the man of my dreams. Dreaming about your dream wedding and actually planning it, realizing it will actually happen, are two very different things. Purposefully planning your wedding involves making decisions about venue, guest list, food and how much each of these things are gonna cost. Physically planning your wedding likely will result in an event vastly different from your childhood dreams.

Our wedding had to take into account one more factor than money, venue and food. My anxiety-especially in regards to how many people would be in the congregation. I’m a person that loathes the idea that weddings are all about the bride. I wanted our day to be a reflection of us both. So the fact that my husband may have wanted more people than my anxiety could handle kinda sucked. Of course, being the amazing partner that he is, he tells me to this day that he wanted to do only what I could handle.

We ended up having immediate family only, with a few very very close friends in attendance. My sisters and my best friend stood up as my maid of honor and matrons of honor, and my husband’s brothers and my little brother stood up as best man and groomsmen. A few more family members took seats in the congregation. We didn’t have a rehearsal the night before, we kinda had a briefing a few minutes before we started. That was a benefit of having a tiny wedding, we didn’t have to practice a huge production.

Now I thought long and hard about our wedding and what we wanted because I wanted to avoid one element….regret. I didn’t want to look back on our wedding and say, “Oh, I wish we had done this, or this…” and I thought I had. But sitting at this beautiful wedding this weekend, I had snippets of regret. Regret that my mind is such that I couldn’t handle a typical wedding with lots of people. This regret vanished midway through the reception as I began to tire and realize how much more tired the bride and groom must feel after the months of planning and preparation.

If you live with anxiety, your wedding may not look like someone else’s. You may have to scale back the guest list, or you may need to elope. That is perfectly ok because at the end of the day the most important thing is that you are married! And your marriage should take priority over a large wedding anyway. So cast off your regret, kick up your heels and dance off those wedding day calories with joy! Or make sure to pack some extra antacids, just in case.

Remember you are not alone. I’ll see you tomorrow!

Cheers!

PS: Below are a couple glimpses of our wedding that I LOVED…Our shoes brought in an element of whimsy…..

wedding shoes

and #2: Our wedding song. This was played during the processional by my amazing cousin, Ted Yoder. Check him out in the video below and find more of his stuff at www.tedyoder.com