Sunday, May 23, 2010

Echo and Charge to Men

After reading the blog Melissa posted this past week I wanted to take a moment and first, just echo the importance of what she had to say and second, talk specifically to the guys out there about this.

Yesterday, Melis and I, along with Melissa's Dad, were out for dinner at this great burger place near our house called Burger Bar. (If you are ever near Norwalk...go check it out. The best burgers you will ever eat. Seriously!) About midway through our meal a family came in and sat down next to us - a dad with his three kids, and to be honest it was really sad to watch.

As they came through the door all but the youngest girl (maybe 7 or 8) were on their cell phones texting or looking online at something. Unfortunately, this wasn't just the way they entered the restaurant but they proceeded to to be on their phones texting, playing games and checking sports scores and e-mails the entire meal.

I kept wanting to grab all their phones and turn them off.

I wanted to ask them when the last time they enjoyed time as a family was. Just them...no one else constantly interrupting their relationship time.

What I find so ironic about all of the ways we have to communicate via technology today and the excuse, especially from kids, that we need them to be able to connect with other people is how all the technology is actually creating less and less connection time with actual people. Sure, we have 100's of Facebook friends, we get tons of e-mails and text messages and Tweets but all these things seem to do is take away from time with people face-to-face.

This face-to-face time is so important to human growth and we have to learn to stop depending on technology and learn to talk to the people in front of us. This will not only help our marriages as we actually connect with our spouses, but it will also help as we connect with other people and learn wisdom, experiences and simply share life together.

As I said above, I think guys need the extra push in this issue. Women tend to just more naturally be drawn to relationships with other women. They tend to more easily open up about their feelings and share concerns.

Guys, on the other hand, tend to put on the macho act and tell the world everything is great. We tend to over look our emotions and just think logically. We tend to live on pride as we refuse to ask for help and insist we can do everything on our own.

I have news for you guys: WE CAN'T!

When Adam was alone in the Garden of Eden, God came to him and said, "It is not good for man to be alone." Did you hear that? Not good!

We are created to be relational, to share life together, to strengthen, encourage and love one another. (Take some time to look up the phrase "one another" in the New Testament at www.biblegateway.com...you will find a lot!)

Guys, it might feel good to try and do everything on your own but I can tell you from my own experience, every time I have tried in my life, I usually fall flat on my face. I get overwhelmed, stressed out and broken. It would have been SOO much easier if I had just asked for help to begin with.

Here are a couple of suggestions for you to opening up:

1) Actually talk to your best friend. This might sound weird for some but I think others need to hear this. Most guys have that best friend out there but what I have seen is that some guys won't go there with certain issues. Be brave, cross that line and find that confidant to help you out.

2) Find a group of guys to meet with and talk regularly about life, marriage and your walk with Christ. (aka an accountability group) Doing this has been some of the best times I've had in my life with a group of guys.

3) Find a mentor. This can be scary for some but it is well worth it. I have found it invaluable to me in my life. Jim, Steve, Paul, and Mark have helped me through some of the toughest parts of my life and have all been such blessings to me.

4) Start a small group in your church for couples your age. Doing this can sometimes to easier since you and your wife can do it together as a team. It also can lead towards an accountability group or a best friend.

5) Talk to your wife. Again, as I mentioned above about the best friend, this can seem obvious but I know sometimes it can be hard. Sometimes I put on this act and think I need to be all strong and positive for my wife's sake so I put my feelings on the back burner. This tends to back fire. Melissa really appreciates it when I can share what's going on with me especially when she is feeling the same thing. It makes her feel like we are a team and that she isn't "crazy" because she's upset about something and I'm not.

We all need relationships and face-to-face time to really succeed in life. Just like marriage, they can be hard and messy at times but that can't be an excuse to do without them.

Jake

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Let Other People Get to Know You

So I've been thinking. I was talking to a wonderful woman the other day who was telling me how much this blog has meant to her. She actually started crying and told me that if someone had talked to her about marriage like the way our blog does, maybe her marriage would have survived.

Then Jake and I noticed that we got a ton of readers from Google when we title blogs with generic relationship issues like "Tips for Understanding Men." Which means that many people out there are google-ing for help with their relationships.

I also had a rough weekend with the husband. It was just one of those (thankfully rare) weekends where the whole 2 days was a fight. It's always emotionally draining to have those and by the end of it I admit I was thinking, "I just don't feel like doing this anymore. I just don't see how we can work this issue out." There were lots of things I could have done to reach out and get help with our issue. I could have read a blog, a book, a magazine, gone on the internet and googled it, or posted a status on Facebook and hoped people would write back nice things to make me feel better.

But that's not what I did. I called two close friends who knew Jake and I really well. These were friends I could trust to listen, sympathize, and give me good advice. It really helped and made me feel much better and like things could work out just fine.

It's easy with all the technology we have today and how busy and demanding our lives are to forget how important it is to foster intimate relationships. Close friendships are one of the best and "feel goodest" places where we can turn to for help when we need it.

When you can talk face to face with people, it helps you to not feel so alone. And to help each other.

It takes courage to open up to someone in real life about your struggles. Really opening up about anything personal is hard. It's much easier to get e-feedback via Facebook, Twitter, texts, blogs, and so-forth because there is very little room for rejection. The e-world doesn't hurt your feelings so much. But risking someone hurting your feelings or not understanding you is far better in the long run than never having someone understand you. It's really worth it to have a friend to talk to when you feel hopeless, or hurt, or you just need love, or a swift kick in the pants.

I hope that our blog is a spring board for helping people actually go and talk to their spouses about marriage. And I hope it helps you feel like it's ok to begin to open up to other people and let them in. Try being really honest this week with someone, and see what happens. Talk to someone new. Chances are, they are dying to talk to you as well and might have just the right thing to say. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Take Out the Trash, Do the Dishes and Have Sex

Sex isn't a very normal thing you would expect to see in a list of chores to do around the house but, to be honest, it has been difficult not feeling like it is a chore as we have been trying to get pregnant.

When we were engaged, we had this expectation about sex that many young couples have. That sex was going to be this awesome thing, that happened all the time and you would never say no to. As we found out quickly on our honeymoon, that is not the case at all. Even though anyone's sex life has it's up and down's, I'd say that this phase has been the most difficult for me.

We have had a couple of occasions over the last month where one of us has simply remarked to the other, "We should probably have sex...you know, trying to get pregnant and all." This has the left the other feeling a little used.

Both of us have responded with the question, "Do you really want to or are you just saying it because you want to have a baby." We don't even have a kid yet and they are already messing up our sex life!

So, how do we not allow sex to become a chore?

How do we do the right thing as far as trying to get pregnant but yet keep the romance alive?

How do we keep the focus on us as a couple first and foremost?

I think part of the answer is to some how separate the two in your mind. It's almost like having two different sex lives. The first is trying to get pregnant and with that comes a certain sense of wisdom to having a schedule and a goal to increase the chances of getting pregnant. With this, I think it's ok if it seems like a chore from time to time, but I think I, we, need to learn not to take those times personally.

Beyond that, I think that as a couple we need to still treat sex as something that is ours, for us to enjoy and that we are not going to let our "kids" come in between that. We will have to learn this when we have actual kids so why not learn to do it now? We need to not be ruled by a schedule and know that we still need to make the effort to initiate when we actually want sex or desire our spouse...AND we need to over communicate that desire so help ensure the other they aren't just a means to a baby.

I know we're not the only ones struggling with this and we'd love to hear any thoughts that you have to offer. Whether you have wrestled with the same thing or you are just wiser than us, what do you think?

Jake

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flaws And All

inadequacy: defecit, shortage, shortfall - the property of being an amount by which something is less than expected or required;

In life we all fall short of expectations. There is no getting around it. What life expects from us, what our job expects from us, what our spouses expect of us, no matter who we are, we all fall short.

In my own life, I often fall short of even my own expectations. I expect myself to be an equal earner in my marriage...but the reality is; my job pays far less right now than my husband's job. I don't meet my own and also society's expectations of success. I don't meet my expectations of a wife. My idea of a good wife was one that would have children and produce a family. Right now, as we struggle with infertility, I fall short of the ideal. I also feel that I don't meet the expectations of what people call beautiful. I struggle with a condition that means my body and nerves are constantly on a "flight or fight" response to my surroundings. It means that I can't wear the clothes I want, or expect to be able to handle temperature changes, or do many things that most take for granted. This leaves me feeling like a failure as a wife, as a woman, and as a person.

One of the amazing things that God has created in marriage is a redemption of all our human shortcomings. Yes, marriage is a place where we see our faults more clearly and are challenged to change for the better. But marriage is also a place where we also find the love, acceptance, and affirmation that we all need so much. I am constantly amazed at the fact that Jake loves me, despite how I think that I fail to measure up to all the women that he could have chosen. It's amazing that God created this holy place called marriage, where we can all be affirmed as unique and wonderful creations of God no matter our faults. Truly, marriage is a reflection of God's love for us. I cannot imagine the awe and joy I will feel when I meet God in heaven and He shows me, even more than Jake can show me, how much I am loved, even though I am not perfect, even though I will never measure up.

How much God must love us all, to give us an institution like marriage (as hard as it is sometimes!) to illustrate how love should be. How we all should treat each other; how we should accept each other, flaws and all....as lovely, wonderful, unique, special creations of God.

Thank you Jake for loving me....flaws and all.
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.