Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Peanut Butter

Living in close quarters with another person brings to light many of our hilarious and annoying little quirks.  When you live with a roommate there is always the possibility of escape. If things get too bad, you can always move out. Not so with a spouse! You're stuck with each other and that means learning how to decide what can be lived with, what has to change, and what can be compromised on.

Each couple has unique ways to work through quirks and annoyances. Our greatest succes in this area is called, "Peanut Butter."

Peanut Butter's inception was in sophomore year of college. It began because my husband thought flirting consisted of tickling my neck and/or picking me up and spinning me around. Two things which happen to be actions that make my body completely lose control. I'm not kidding you. If someone tickles my neck they are in for fighting, kicking, swearing, drooling...you name it. I can't take it. The same goes for spinning, my brain just does not like that motion. One time Jake tried spinning me around and when I tried to get away, I accidentally put two vertical scratches on each of his eyelids. When he closed his eyes the man looked like Voldemort. (You know with the red, slit-like snake eyes?)

The problem was that I would be pleading with him to stop these things, but I was laughing all the while. I needed a way to tell him, "I am serious, you really need to stop what you're doing." And thus was birthed, "Peanut Butter."  Whenever I would say those two words it would communicate to Jake that I was dead serious and he needed to cease what he was doing immediately.

Over the years Peanut Butter has been handy in other ways. We've used it in fights as a way of grabbing the other person's attention. Sometimes when you're stuck arguing and both people can only focus on their own emotions...having a phrase like Peanut Butter can be a great way to say, "Hey look I really need you to pay attention to what I am saying right now, it's really important."

We also still use it when joking around. Jake and I are very sarcastic with each other and most of the time it's all in good fun. But once in a while someone says something that crosses the line and is hurtful. Saying "Peanut Butter" when this happens lets either Jake or I know that we need to apologize and stop the joking.

I'm sure there are so many little ways that spouses find to make living together bearable and enjoyable. We'd love to hear about them!

-Melissa

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Joy in Uncertainty

I have to be honest, the New Year was kind-of a downer for me. It reminded me that we still don't have a baby and we're still just kinda stuck in a problem without an immediate solution, stuck dealing with emotions we'd rather not have to deal with and stuck trying to find good things each day (and there are a lot of good things to find, really).

Everywhere I look there are blogs, articles, and TV shows all about how to make 2011 amazing. But really, 2011 is going to be like all the years before it and all the years after it....it's going to contain some joyful moments and some challenging ones. I think many of us, myself included, don't really like to look reality in the face and see that life is mostly uncertain. None of us knows if today is going to be a bad day or a good day. None of us knows what amazing things will happen in our lives and what sorrows we will face.

It's silly that we all act so in control of our lives...when we have so little actual control. This lack of control over life's circumstances and the uncertainty of what will happen affects marriage in a major way.  Even though we should, we don't expect things to go wrong when we get married. We don't expect the sickness of a spouse, loss of a job, difficult families, children that deal with disabilities or illness, fertility problems, debt, hidden addictions, etc. We expect life and our marriages to go according to plan. Sometimes they do and man that's just great. It's so wonderful to experience together a goal accomplished or a blessing hoped for. Isn't is easy to feel like your marriage is strong during those times?

It's the times where the uncertainty of life hits a marriage when the strength of it is tested. Jake and I have commented to each other a couple of times that now we understand how something like infertility can cause divorce. When something unexpected hits, it can bring a marriage closer together....it can just as easily push it apart. I think our culture doesn't help us learn that we're supposed to weather the storms together. What we see all around us is the idea that life should be good, feel good, and go according to plan...when it doesn't, it's time to call it quits on the marriage.

And people are missing out. It's great to be married when things go well. What I'm finding is that it's even more great to be married when the uncertainty of life hits and will hit again all throughout the marriage. Yes, these times are hard. But being there for each other, praying for one another, learning how to support and encourage, and finding love and acceptance in the midst of failure and heartache...I am learning how much these things are blessings from God.

What I hope for 2011 is that married couples can acknowledge life will throw at them an equal number of sorrows and joys. God designed marriage as a place for love, fun, and fulfillment, but also as a great place of redemption. A marriage that stays together, learns together, and weathers the storms together takes the bad and turns it into a great joy and place of strength and security. I hope that more couples choose to stick together this year when it's often easier said than done, it will be worth it in the long run.
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.