Happy Wife, Happy Life is ruining marriage

All those “cute” sayings that insinuate women need to be the focus of a marriage (or men) are pretty harmful ideas about relationships so i’d like to share a few things that have actually helped in my own marriage.

I’m celebrating seven years of marriage today. I have a stinkin awesome husband but I think the reason our marriage works so well has little to do with either of us, in fact I think the reason our marriage works so well is neither of us think it’s about us!

Marriage isn’t about one or both of us being happy. Are we happy? Absolutely! Is that the purpose of our marriage though?

No.

We have recognized some truths that spare of us from so many of the relationship pitfalls many of our friends and loved ones face.

Disclaimer* We are not perfect or walking around on rainbows while music plays from the clouds and we are not happy every minute of everyday, I am in no way qualified to speak on marriage but in our 7 years we have gleaned countless wise pieces of advice from a number of sources so why not put them together for people with even less experience than me! (Or people with more who haven’t encountered this awesome advice.)

1. God must be the center. Everything in the world is temporary, save God, if you are both walking toward God then you will also always be drawing closer together. “Drifting apart” or feeling “disconnected” can’t happen.

2. Marriage is a tool to sanctify us, not make us deliriously happy all day long. I LOVE my house, I love being home but if someone told me I was going to Disney World and took me to my house I would be disappointed. Given the choice to live in my house or Disney though it’s hands down, I want to be home. Marriage is my home, I went into expecting the work and upkeep that comes with maintaining a home not the expectations of nonstop entertainment, catering and excitement that comes with Disney and because of it I get to thoroughly enjoy each day of it.

3. Failure is not an option, we took time before we got married (premarital counseling, I highly recommend it ya’ll) to make sure we were ready then we got married THEN we stayed married for a few years before we decided to have kids. Waiting gave us time to adjust to life as a unit, work out our communication, and get to do all the fun spontaneous things you can do before kids like spur of the moment travel ūüôā

4. Get up everyday and make the choice not just to love your spouse but to show it through actions. (And when you simply can’t at least apologize so they know you tried!) We are always trying to finish a project or chore for one another and it makes us both feel valued.

5. Don’t put so much emphasis in gifts and holidays. Women are really bad at this, they blow these things up in their minds then get let down/hurt/angry/etc. when the gifts/presentation/setting don’t meet their expectations. We like our holidays super low key, it takes the stress, pressure and expense out of celebrating! We like to get each other little just because surprises frequently instead (I might buy a favorite snack for his work bag or he might pick me up a sweet tea and bring it to home or work for me).

So many people have told/shown us so many wonderful things to do over the years but these are a few of my favorites I thought I’d share.

 

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Unfit Parent Award

My kid hasn’t bathed in a week [This is not hyperbole, we only bathe him about once a weekish in winter and every couple days in summer.]

This made me laugh because I saw the topic discussed by a blogger for a parenting magazine who only bathes his kids every couple days and it got some ridiculously over the top attackers in the comments section on facebook who did everything from call it disgusting to likening to child abuse.

So I am awarding myself an unfit parent award.

Why because my kid hasn’t bathed in like 4 or 5 days and I’m most likely not bathing him tonight, since I don’t plan to change this despite it being appalling to many american parents I figure i’ll just own it.

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While i’m at it here are a myriad of other parenting choices i’ve seen people spew hate about on social media that I personally have made:

He owns zero electronic devices (he is 3 so this should go without saying but it doesn’t anymore), moreover he has never touched a tablet and doesn’t play ¬†video or computer games.He nursed until just after 2 and coslept until 3. ¬†He memorizes Bible verses and prays. He is expected to apologize to me when he argues or talks back. ¬†He only gets one gift from us for Christmas and one for his birthday. He knows about Santa and the Easter bunny but he knows they are just for fun, not real. He still won’t get birthday parties for a few years and when he does they will be small.He eats hummus, pad thai, salad, and dried fruit but also loves a burger and fries or a cookie. Juice is a special treat and he has no idea soda exists.

I expect him to be kind and respectful even when he doesn’t “feel” like it, apologize until he’s sincere and generally just recognize his position in life right now means he is not in control but also know his parents adore him and will totally take watch his favorite documentary seven times and make a weekly visit to the zoo because he’s super interested in animals.

What choices have you been made to feel unamerican, unfit, or just uncomfortable for making?

 

The New Face of Sexy

There are women among us who get comfortable with the flaws and imperfections of their bodies, especially post baby bodies. Women like this¬†photographer who is willing to show her softer, fuller post baby body with pride (and no figure flattering clothes to forgive anything). But most women are walking around feeling too fat, too soft, too big, too pale, too whatever and it’s a FEMALE PROBLEM.

Yeah I said it. Men are not to blame.

I know there are exceptions (we like to call them jerks around here) who make women feel bad about their bodies. [so don’t feel like you need to comment with every specific instance a man made a woman feel bad, I know they exist.]

I’m not talking about the exception though, i’m talking about the rule.

The rule is that 9 times out of 10 when I feel insecure or inferior in my own skin it is because of another woman.

The rule is the reality that when I buy clothes or get dressed i’m thinking about what women will like.

The rule is that it’s other women who obsess, stress and force themselves to sacrifice for an image.

In my experience men love women’s bodies, it’s simply a fact of life, my husband finds me just as attractive curvy and soft as he did when I was toned and harder (in fact when I dropped 20 extra pounds on top of the baby weight thanks to nursing my first son he encouraged me not to lose anymore because I was getting “skinny” :). In my experience as a curvy lady I have had zero men ever express a disappointment in my body directly or indirectly.

But I am indirectly assaulted by women everyday. I am not giant but at 5’8 and change I am taller than plenty of the women I know, I am also a very full hourglass. This means that when my friend wearing size 6 jeans complains about how giant her thighs are, even though mine are easily 1.5 times the size, I suddenly have an urge to hide the lower half of my body.

When my lunch date complains about her stomach being flabby I look down at my own stretched and fattened stomach, staring at the area of post baby belly protruding from my hips and cringe, suddenly losing my appetite.

When women with glowy sun kissed skin talk about how wretched they look and how desperately they need a tanning salon I feel the pale, ever-sunscreened skin of my face blush red and hot.

Women size each other up in ways men would never bother with. I assure you that despite my stomach looking like a roadmap it is not men that prevent me from wearing a bikini, it is women.

Feminists love to blame men for so many things but ladies, we are doing this to ourselves.

You, mom that spends 7+ ¬†hours a week at the gym post baby while the rest of us enjoy our coos and cuddles, you don’t have to do it.

You, mom who perpetually skips dessert and always orders sensibly while the rest of us are indulging a bit, you don’t have to do it.

Having a beautiful body has nothing to do with what it looks like but instead what it can do. My body is strong enough to carry both of my kids, chase them all day, hike to the tops of hills and crawl around on the floor with them.

My doctor says I am fabulously healthy. My husband says i’m stunning. My son tells me I look like a princess. My Savior tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

These are truth. They are real. They are important.

You know what is most amazing about my body? I’m happy with it. Lately I have felt so much pressure to “bounce back” after baby because that’s what everyone seems to be worried about doing. This pressure made me forget that I love my body. I don’t care about my stretch marks. I don’t care that my arm jiggles a little. I don’t care that my stomach skin sags and droops. I am a strong and beautiful human being and so are you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. ¬†Magazines will push it, celebrities will show it, trainers will sell it, the world will yell it but it’s not true. This body is a temporary vessel and making it glossy and shiny at the expense of things like time with your kids or love with your husband or fun with your friends is a huge mistake.

I’m joining the new face of sexy, it’s called acceptance and it’s amazing.

 

 

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The Most Poorly Kept Secret In the History of the World.

I’m a teacher and I am about to reveal the most poorly guarded trade secret in the history of the world.

Teachers love summer. We need it. We countdown those last days just like the kids. (15 left ya’ll)

Despite this being the least secretive secret ever kids are often surprised by it, your boss wants you to hide it and parents think they are the only ones feeling like summer must come or the apocalypse will begin.

It’s May. I love my students. I love teaching. but I don’t love teaching them in May. Why? Because they checked out on spring break and never really checked back in and by now they are literally hanging by threads. Threads I can see my words cutting as I try to cram one more fact in their brains. Threads that begin to audibly strain as I pass out a new paper. Threads that simply can not survive much longer.

I have crafted, invented, taught, read, shown and made fun and interesting everything I know how, my brain is empty of creativity and drive.

If they haven’t learned it in the first 155 days of school it seems unlikely it will stick the last 15 but for some crazy reason I don’t think my boss will let me count “having fun and killing time” as a lesson plan so I will continue, however difficult, to plan activities and papers and projects and such.

Next week my replacement is coming to shadow me. A new student for next year is coming to shadow me. A fellow teacher is coming to shadow me. Why? Because the Lord knows that if they didn’t my nonexistent will to plan these last 15 days would die and I would let my kids have a water gun fight day¬†and play outside and eat cake and watch a movie and…is it summer yet?

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You’re Replaceable

This is easy to say but in reality it seems to be difficult to grasp.

You may be an amazing worker, doing your job with exceptional creativity, efficiency and talent but you are completely replaceable.

Sure, it make take them a while and they may say you are irreplaceable but come back in a year and you will find someone else in your chair, hanging out with your coworkers, rocking your job.

 

You may be a hilarious, thoughtful friend who offers the most sage of advice and is always ready to help but you are still replaceable.

It would be hard to lose you but give it time and your friend will move on, they will surely think of you fondly on occasion but they will make a new best friend and you will be a rare memory.

 

(If you are in one of today’s “modern” relationships even your husband may find it easy enough to replace you).

 

But your kids will never have another mother. You are not replaceable to them.

Even if you aren’t great this job you can not be fired, you can not be replaced and you never get to quit. Are we working as hard at mothering as we do at those other jobs?

 

Staying Home: The Struggle Begins

I will officially be a stay at home Mom June 7th. With one month remaining I am beginning to feel the weight of my decision.

Do I doubt I should be home? No. I am certain God has directed me here.

Do I wish I could keep working? No. See above.

Am I terrified on some level to stay home? Yes.

Why? I’m sure that’s what you are thinking.

  1. I grew up in an area where people just didn’t have stay at home moms (poor areas usually don’t). I didn’t know people with moms like that, I only saw them on tv. It makes it hard to wrap my head around me staying home as I associate them subconsciously with affluence.
  2. I have been gainfully employed outside of my home for over a decade, much of that time I was putting in 50 or more hours a week so it’s just a new way to work for me, setting my own schedule and priorities.
  3. I know that I am taking an already tight budget and turning it into a shoestring I must balance precariously on while fending off the likes of Sallie Mae. (If I stayed working I would have to find a new job though since I am only clearing just over $100 a month now that we have two kids in daycare)
  4. I am not naturally “domesticated”. I wasn’t taught how to cook or take care of a home growing up and although I have learned a lot since becoming an adult I am still more comfortable doing most other things than I am the activities associated with moms. ¬†My lackluster homemaking skills have been easy to excuse thus far (Sorry the place is a bit of a mess, i’ve been slammed all week) but it will now be harder to accept for me.
  5. I am used to being very confident and competent professionally, maybe there are moms who never doubt themselves but i’m not one of them. Being a mother makes me feel so vulnerable, exposing my flaws and weaknesses and flaunting them in the attitudes and behaviors of my children. It’s obviously the job I love most but it is also the most high stakes job i’ve ever had, I take my children’s happiness, faith and futures pretty seriously.

 

So while I am crazy excited and deliriously happy to be staying home with my kids I am also balancing the fears of failure, financial difficulty and my own shortcomings. ¬†I am more than ready to embark on this journey but I think it is helpful to be honest with myself (and others who may be feeling the same way) as I prepare. I logically know that none of the above are real issues (except maybe finances but the Lord will provide) but knowing and feeling are different things and I can not “know” my fears away so instead I face them.

Stop Lying to Your Kids

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This is Jidge’s latest masterpiece. ¬†For a 3 year old he does a good job since he successfully covers most of the item in paint before he gets bored. That’s a win. Thankfully glitter and shiny spray cover a multitude of sins and his art usually looks adorable to him and Mom when he is done. But i’m not going to be telling him he could grow up to be an artist anytime soon. Why? Because as of now (and he’s young¬†so this could change), but for now he shows little aptitude for art. He has an appreciation of art, he likes making art, but so far there is no special interest in or aptitude for art.

Why does aptitude or interest matter?

Because you can’t be anything you want.

You can’t. We lie to children when we tell them this. We set them up to have their hopes dashed.

If you suck at Math then accountant is pretty much out. Not many asthmatic 5’6 NBA players or dancers with no rhythm.

So until and unless my son begins to develop an interest ¬†or a natural talent (either of which we could help cultivate) in some area then I am not going to tell him he can become whatever he wants. I’m not telling him he isn’t good at art because he is in his own way but if he continues on this path and his parents abilities are any indicator he will probably stink at art. (Because this is totally me, see below.)

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Regardless, even if ¬†he began to show promise as an artist there would be some other job choices that would be ruled out. As he grows he will show strength in some areas…and weakness in others. I am not going to tell him he can be “Anything”. Someday when he wants to be a superhero at 5 I will chuckle to myself, not ready to dash his dreams but I will not indulge an “I can be anything” attitude. I see those kids, I know them. All that positive reinforcement through “little white lies” creates children who cry when they get beat in a race at school (my mom says i’m super fast, he must have cheated!), who thrust themselves into the limelight when someone praises a peer’s art (yeah but look at MINE, my mom says i’m an artist, you must not have seen mine) and worse it eventually breeds adults who truly believe they are gifted in all things.

I enjoy knowing the areas I struggle with, being aware of them and learning to cope and work around those weaknesses helps me to be a more useful person and keeps me humble. As a Christian it also offers me an promise because the Bible says that His strength is made perfect in my weakness, if I can’t admit I HAVE weaknesses it’s pretty hard for me to recognize Christ working in it.

So next time your child asks you if they can be “X” when they grow up, pause before you throw out an insincere, “Sure, you can be anything!”, and consider honesty instead. ¬†As a teacher the response I give is two part, “Maybe, if you have a talent in that area when you get older” and “Maybe if that’s what God calls you to do”. I have yet to see a kid bothered by this, but I have seen kids upset when they realize they NEVER had a shot at becoming something their parent promised them they could.