Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Marriage Survival Tips

Would it be weird to applaud Jake's blog? Because I didn't read it until he wrote it and frankly, it made me feel better! I keep reading in all these psychology books and magazines that say it's a sure sign of doom when a couple can't find anything to talk about. And it's kinda been freaking me out! I feel like it's actually really normal to find yourselves stumped for conversation and one of those things that naturally ebbs and flows with life. So kudos husband, your blog helped me :)

So it's the holiday season. A season that can bring us spouses together, but also find crafty little ways of driving us apart. There are a lot of emotions that go along with holidays, much more than many of us realize. We all have pasts, families, traditions, certain foods we're used to eating, certain times we're used to celebrating. It's not guaranteed that you and your spouse will want to do things the same way.
So how can you enjoy this time of celebration without killing each other? Here are couple survival tips that Jake and I have learned so far:

1. Be preemptive - Have conversations about where you want to spend the holidays, who you want to spend them with, how long you want to be there, what traditions you want to honor and so forth...BUT! Have them before you're actually in the middle of friends and family nudging each other under the table or having a fight on the car ride home.

2. Consider each other's feelings - Traditions mean something. Ask your spouse to explain what traditions they want to observe this coming year and why that tradition is important to them. It's important to understand each other's feelings because it helps both spouses work through compromises sensitively.

3. Compromise - I guarantee the way your family always did things growing up is not the way your spouses family did things growing up. Find ways that you can honor both families...and also remember you and your hubby are also a family. It'd be good to start some new traditions that are special to you both.

4. Be a team - Family is great. But they often have a way of pushing the exact button that really ticks us off. It's easy for feelings to get hurt during holiday gatherings and for families to possibly step over boundaries that you and your husband/wife had previously agreed upon. If that happens it's important to back one another up. (Unless one of you is being truly horrible..and even then wait until you're alone to deal with it). Your hubby needs to feel that you love them and they can trust you to support them if things gets tense. The marriage is more important than Aunt Frieda's twisted desire to call your wife "That girl Tommy married," or Uncle Bob's slobbery lip kisses (both fictional). Be a team, you won't regret it.

5. Rest - It can be exhausting to go to everyone's house and parties during the holidays. Make sure you and the hubs have some time together to relax to refresh. Easier said then done, when you're trying to please everyone's families. But who wants to go back to work exhausted? A wise woman once told me, "Sometimes you will have to say no to good things and good people." Exercise the power of saying "no" to a couple things and take a nap.

6. Budget - Nothing creates an argument faster than how to spend money! Jake and I have already had several this 2010 Christmas season. Even though it might seem easier and more peaceful to avoid, have a good talk about how much money you have to spend, how you want to spend it, and then compromise. This will also be one of those areas where it's almost guaranteed you and your spouse will have differing opinions. Try to think wisely about how you decide to spend and be flexible. It will go a long way towards not having the post-Christmas "oh my gosh HOW much did YOU spend?!!" credit card bill fight.

7. Eat cookies - There really isn't a lot of wisdom behind this. But cookies are fun and they make people happy. You can't end a holiday list without cookies :)


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverse First Date

Within any relationship, you have good times and you have  more difficult times. One thing that we struggle with often is talking...not stalking...but talking.

First off, we have both been pretty busy lately and when that happens we don't tend to have a very broad range of topics to discuss. We can talk about work/church related things pretty easily, but beyond that we struggle with other topics.

Second, diving into emotional topics has still been a little difficult (more so for me than Melissa) because of the miscarriage and fertility issues. Questions like, "How are you doing?" and "What are you thinking about?" almost feel like landmines. It's important to check in and care for one another but sometimes you just need to focus on other things in order to stay hopeful.

Third, after being together for 9 years, we know pretty much everything about one another. What's left for us to ask?

With all of these things going on right now, we went on a date last week to a really cool restaurant and could just sense that it felt like conversation was gunna be tough. Melissa threw out a question we've asked before: "What did we talk about when we would stay up all hours of the night talking when we started dating?"

I replied, "We got to know one another - family, growing up, favorite things etc. But we know everything about each other now."

So we got this idea to test how much we really knew about the other person and decided we would have a bit of a reverse first date that evening. In a sense, we would quiz each others knowledge about the other. I would ask Melissa, "What are my three biggest goals in life?" and she would have to come up with what she thought I would answer.  And vice versa.

A pretty simple idea, but it ended up providing a great night of conversation. Actually some of our best in a while. Not only did we find out that we in fact didn't know (or at least remember) everything, but we had some great spin off conversations based on the different questions.

So, if you ever have trouble talking with your spouse or even boyfriend/girlfriend and feel like you know each other too well, put it to the test. You might be surprised.

Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.