Marriage

Safe With Him: Five Minute Friday

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I was laying in bed last night when the full gravity of it hit me. 14 years this May. I’m so used to saying it, thinking it, that I don’t think I grasped how monumental that is. 14 years is a long time.

I was warned that it would be like this, that the further along in life you go time seems to speed up. In some ways I feel like I’m in the sweet spot for that. The days don’t drag by like they did when I was a kid. Things that are just a couple years away don’t feel like such a long time to wait. (Of course I’ve also learned how fast things can change in just a year).

It has been a rough few months (truthfully a rough last two years). A hard pregnancy and delivery, medication adjustments, work transition, major renovation followed by a full house move and becoming landlords. Little of it looks like I thought it would and yet there are bits of the impossible. It seemed like we would never have a bigger house and yet now we do. It seemed as though student loan debt would follow us forever, and while debt free living is still a few years away, it feels closer and more attainable than in the past.

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But in all the important happenings of these years, I don’t want to lose us. 14 years since I told this man “For better or for worse.” We’ve definitely had our fair share of both. Growing a small human four times over, and trying to find myself again afterwards each time. Dreaming, giving up on dreams, and yet still returning to them again. What I’ve always wanted most is to create a safe home, a space between us that keeps us connected. A force field of sorts that keeps both the bad, and sometimes even the good from separating us from each other.

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I want him to know that I hope in him, believe the best about him (sometimes despite evidence to the contrary) and can’t imagine the years ahead without him. This husband of mine celebrated a birthday this week, and while it wasn’t a major milestone number, the looming big digits ahead seems to bum him out. I think maybe he wonders if he’s doing all he wants to do and being who and what he imagined he wanted to be. But I can only see how far he’s come. 14 years may be a long time, but as I reminded him the other night, he promised me at least 50. So we still have a ways to go. I look forward to the journey.

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Categories: Five Minute Friday, Marriage | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Why Young Love Isn’t the Most Romantic

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Photo Credit: Annamagal via Compfight cc

When I was a teenager and had my first boyfriend I was convinced we were the cutest sight since puppies and kittens. There does seem to be a cultural bias regarding the cuteness factor of young infatuation. I hesitate to even call it young love, only because as I traverse my fourth decade of life I realize how shallow young love seems compared to its more mature adult counterpart. This is not to say that I don’t believe it’s real. It was very real to me at the time, but rather that it is merely a poor reflection of what the human heart is capable of as it ages. (If I’m being honest, all love on this earth, romantic or otherwise, is only a reflection of the heavenly source which cannot be fully understood nor experienced until eternity).

But why is it that we tend to idolize young love? Is it because of the apparent innocence? (Though culturally that is lacking in most cases at younger, and younger ages). Is it because of the future potential? Or is it just a reflection of our culture’s obsession with youth in general? While I know I thought that romance in my younger years (including my engagement and marriage to now husband of twelve years) was heady and inspiring, looking back my perspective differs. As I grow older, I see the benefit of commitment over time, overcoming difficulty and how love matures.  Because as we have matured, so has our love. It may not be the flowers and expensive surprises kind of romance, at least not all the time. But it is the dependable, always to be counted on, which if you haven’t experienced it yet, trust me is worth working toward.

Lisa Jo Baker once wrote a great post called “When You Think Your Love Story is Boring.” She talked about the many practical ways her husband has showed his love for her over the years, yet it was rarely like a movie. He’s never run through an airport for her. It was more real.

I find love later in life to be more admirable and romantic. (I remember Dr. Dobson once said that men know they’re getting older when at weddings they notice the mother of the bride more than the bride). Because love later in life, whether searched and longed for over time, or sustained and true since youth, is like comparing a mature garden with one just starting out. In the beginning, there are lots of annuals, and bright colors which look beautiful for a season. But overtime, those are replaced with rose bushes, bulbs and perennials which bloom in cycles and seasons, coming back faithfully each year, but also require extra effort and tending to create the most beautiful blooms. Both gardens are lovely, but there is an exquisite balance, and feeling of the passage of time combined with constant yet ever changing beauty in a well-established landscape.

At nearly twelve years of marriage, I’m beginning to see these blooms in my marriage and it gives me joy when I see other couples, further along the path in years than we because I see what I hope to have someday, if we stand faithful and steadfast. Cuteness and the outward trappings of romance matter less than they once did (though that doesn’t mean they don’t matter at all). I’ll choose the roses of commitment and constant devotion every time.

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He Says, She Says: He Needs An Attractive Spouse

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Photo Credit: .craig via Compfight cc

He Says

I think the title of this chapter was poorly-chosen, because “He needs an attractive wife” leaves too much room for misinterpretation. Does that mean he needs other people to find his wife attractive? Does that mean he needs his wife to look good at all times? Isn’t that shallow? Upon reading, you realize that none of that is the case. Still, to avoid the confusion, I would have named it, “He needs to be physically attracted to his wife.” There’s no mistaking what this means, and I think most people would agree with it.

Of course a man needs to be attracted to his wife. Attraction, on all levels, is what brought them together in the first place. What’s most important is that he finds her attractive and she finds him attractive; nothing and no one else matters. It’s a cliché, but “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” is really true. There are people getting married where you might think, “what does she see in him?” Well, to put it bluntly, who cares what you think? She’s attracted to him, end of story.

The suggestions he offers for “prettying oneself up” should have been more two-way, in my opinion. Seems like too much emphasis was placed on the woman. Glad he mentioned the smelly farmer story, but the other areas could have had man examples too – a lot of men need to lose weight as well.

After 11 years of marriage, I’m still surprised when Bethany has doubts about her physical attractiveness to me. She might not like the way she looks, there might be other people who don’t like the way she looks, but I LIKE THE WAY SHE LOOKS. Isn’t that enough? For me it is, but not always her. I get that. She has to be happy with how she looks. I just try to reaffirm that she is attractive to me.

I would say this need is not in my top five, but maybe that’s only because I really don’t think about it: Bethany meets it for me. She looks stunning when she dresses up for a nice occasion, she looks pretty most every day in “normal clothes,” she looks adorable bundled up on a cold winter day… I could go on. To sum up, I have no complaints.

She Says

I find this chapter interesting. I agree that this is a totally legitimate need, even though my first instinct upon reading it was that it felt shallow. But I guess to some men, when they fall in love with a beautiful woman they want her to stay beautiful. I appreciate that Harley notes that aging is a natural part of life and unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean the same thing as giving up any pride in your appearance. I have seen many gorgeous older women who I think “wow, I hope I’ll look that great when I’m that age.”

Yes, I’m sure there are men out there who use their wives natural changing of appearance as a result of age and bearing children as an excuse for why they stop loving them an ultimately cheat or leave them. That being said, these are not the men this chapter is addressing. This chapter is talking about men who adore their wives and fell in love with them because they found them physically attractive. But after marriage their wives became different people. They didn’t want the work and upkeep of looking nice so they let themselves go and now their husbands feel cheated.

Like many of the previous needs we’ve discussed here I think this really comes back to the importance of open communication and honestly about expectations. There was a time when I thought my husband would like me to dress more stylishly and wear more makeup. (Admittedly I was never much for this even when we were dating.) But it turns out, he really doesn’t care. He likes me to relaxed and happy. His only concern is that if I stay in my pajamas all day (as I sometimes did during the post partum days after our children were born) that it make me feel depressed. But it didn’t make me less attractive to him. Sure he likes when I dress up, but it’s not something he expects on a daily basis. But that’s also not a standard I set early on.

I also want to highlight another important distinction. There is a difference between the need for a spouse that is attractive to you and the need for a spouse that others find attractive. To me this is the difference between wanting a beautiful wife and a trophy wife. It is absolutely natural for a man to want to be attracted to his wife. However, in my opinion, it borders on inappropriate for a man to want his wife to be the envy of others.

Bottom line ladies, if you got all dolled up every time you went out the whole time you dating your hubby, he probably fell in love with you at least partly for your looks. This isn’t a bad or shallow thing. It’s just one of his needs. (There are men who are exceptions to this, though truthfully what defines attractive varies so much from person to person that I’m not even sure if we can properly judge). So if we love our husbands we need to be willing to make some kind effort. It may be something simple like wearing makeup or even just wearing attractive pajamas (not even necessarily lingerie but I’m sure it helps). Let him know that you recognize this need and want to fulfill it. Ask him what he would like. I think some women assume their husband’s ideas of attractive are so beyond their reach that they shouldn’t even bother. Maybe he doesn’t care if you wear makeup, but loves it when you wear your hair down. Perhaps he would like to see you in skirts or loves a particular blouse that you already have and would like to see you wear it more often. But remember, he did fall in love with YOU. So it’s YOU he wants. You have everything you need, it may just require some intentionality on your part.

 

He Says, She Says about His Needs, Her Needs

He Says, She Says: Why Your Love Bank Never Closes

He Says, She Says: She Needs Affection

He Says, She Says: He Needs Sexual Fulfillment

He Says, She Says: She Needs Conversation

He Says, She Says: He Needs A Recreational Companion

He Says, She Says: She Needs Openness and Honesty

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Just a quick note. We have in no way been paid for our opinions here. We just like this book and have a passion to see people stay happily married and continue to grow in their marriages. But this post does contain affiliate links which help me afford to keep blogging. Thank you for your support.

Categories: His Needs Her Needs, Marriage | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Closing the Space Between Us: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: jenny downing via Compfight cc

This week’s prompt is Close.

A rare date night of a movie and dinner. (The order is so very important). We sit in the restaurant booth and discuss the movie. We leisurely eat our bread and salad, glad for once that the entrees are taking their time. We talk about things that interest us and no one interrupts. We drink wine slowly and savor the closeness. The crowded and loud restaurant feels refreshingly peaceful, in this intimate space between us. I joke that sometimes it’s fun to pretend we don’t have kids. We love our little creatures but they are so loud, so boisterous and so needy. Rarely do we exchange more than a handful of words while they are still in the land of the wakeful and once the bedtime gauntlet is run, we’re too tired for long drawn out conversations. But nights like tonight are precious. When we remember how it used to be, and how lucky we didn’t know we were. The quiet we traded for chaos and the privacy we exchanged for family. But if we set aside the time, the money and the energy we can still find the closeness that brought us together and keeps us going.

Want to join us? Read more about Five Minute Friday here.

 

Categories: Five Minute Friday, Marriage, Writing | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

He Says, She Says: She Needs Openness and Honesty

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Photo Credit: Mara ~earth light~ via Compfight cc

He Says

I’ll be honest (see what I did there?), the need for honesty is just plainly logical to me that I can’t really consciously think of acting in a dishonest way. For one thing, a lie will almost always find you out, so there’s really no point in trying. It’ll be worse if you’re found out, so just fess up. That’s really for when you’ve done something stupid, though. The more important aspect about this topic is that I know I value being given honest (correct) information, so why wouldn’t my wife? Call it courtesy, fairness, whatever, it’s just the right thing to do.

Having said that, I know that I’ve been dishonest in my time here on earth, and I know the reasons why I do it – to protect myself or to protect someone else. I’ve never lied to deliberately hurt someone. (Does that make it better? Of course not.)  But this chapter has made me look at myself a little closer to see where I might be dishonest in the first place.

First of all, my dishonesty would probably fall under the umbrella of “failure to give all information.” Ask me, I’ll be honest; don’t ask me, you probably won’t get any information. Again, the reason would likely fall under protecting someone or myself. Here’s an example. In the early years of our marriage I would withhold details of the finances from Bethany so that she wouldn’t stress about it. I told myself that she would only worry, and why burden her with that? I learned later (and was reminded again in this chapter) that I was doing a disservice to her. If I told her we could afford one thing but not another, and left it at that, then I hadn’t given her all the information, so she was left confused and would misinterpret the meaning behind my comment. I was kind of treating her as someone beneath me when I did that, because I had already judged that she couldn’t handle it. That was not fair to her. The chapter was a good reminder to me to treat my wife as my equal and not to withhold info from her even if I think I’m protecting her. She needs all the info to make educated decisions (and because she’s smart, she often comes up with awesome ideas to solve problems).

I’ll close with something this chapter reminded me of. A friend once told me in a men’s group about the time a woman hit on him at work. Rather than “protect his wife from worrying,” he told his wife that day. Why? Because why keep it a secret and give the enemy a foothold? After telling her, he felt free from any bondage or ties. It was out in the open, and with his wife knowing all about it, he didn’t have to worry about heading down a wrong way of thinking. If a secret like that is out of the darkness and in the light, it’s far less likely to do long term damage.

 

She Says

My first reaction to this chapter was “Well, yeah.” I guess because honesty is so important to me, I’ve always thought of it as a given. I can’t imagine a relationship without telling each other the truth. There is a difference between openness and verbalizing every thought. Tact is still important. Sometimes we have thoughts that shouldn’t be verbalized. That doesn’t mean we are being less than honest with each other though. A filter is a good thing. Spend some time with someone who doesn’t have one and you’ll realize how unpleasant it is.

The chapter specifically addresses men who tend to lie or withhold truth from their wives because they believe their wives can’t handle it. This can go both ways in a relationship. I prefer to say most things out loud and keeping my feelings inside has always been difficult for me. I don’t like to end an argument or discussion until an issue is resolved, no matter how long it takes. However, there was a time in my marriage when it wasn’t always easy to be open and honest. During the year after our daughter was born my husband suffered through a serious period of depression. During that time I put a lot of pressure on myself to handle things on my own, because I didn’t want to burden him. I tried not to ask for his help or share my fears and worries. I thought I was protecting him. To a certain extent I was. He was struggling enough, he didn’t need to hear my daily gripes. But at the same time, I needed to continue to be honest with him. Make it clear that yes, I was managing but that I still very much needed him. At times I find it tempting to fall back into those patterns. When he’s had a hard week at work, I wonder if I should tell him about how hard my day was. If he seems like he’s under a lot of pressure I hesitate to bring up the fact that there is water in the basement or that the porch roof might be leaking. But that isn’t fair. He needs to know what’s going on, even if I know he doesn’t want to hear it.

Like anything else, it comes down to discernment. He knows that I need him to be open and honest. But he also knows to pick his timing. Telling me he’s considering a career change during the pre-dinner hour while I’m rushing around the kitchen and the children are underfoot is a recipe for a mommy meltdown. The same goes for me when I totally unload my emotional frustrations on him right before bed. He wants to know what I’m thinking and feeling, but not at 11 p.m.

As far as secrets go the best policy is a simple one. Don’t do anything that you’d be too ashamed to tell your spouse and then you won’t have to keep secrets. If something does happen, deal with it sooner rather than later. Even painful truth is easier to overcome when it is expressed in the present. If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it as soon as possible (while still employing that tact and timing that I mentioned earlier). Your spouse should feel like he or she can ask you anything and you should always be prepared to answer honestly.

 

He Says, She Says about His Needs, Her Needs

He Says, She Says: Why Your Love Bank Never Closes

He Says, She Says: She Needs Affection

He Says, She Says: He Needs Sexual Fulfillment

He Says, She Says: She Needs Conversation

He Says, She Says: He Needs A Recreational Companion

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Just a quick note. We have in no way been paid for our opinions here. We just like this book and have a passion to see people stay happily married and continue to grow in their marriages. But this post does contain affiliate links which help me afford to keep blogging. Thank you for your support.

Categories: His Needs Her Needs, Marriage | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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