Saturday, June 29, 2013

Communication Fail

I think this might be our shortest blog post ever because well....there are just no words.

Yep, this about sums up the level of our marital communication today! (And it's staying this way because I refuse to go to adoption court with a bald husband. And no, it was not on purpose.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Friendship & Marriage

I used to expect way too much from my friendships, both as a single person and after I got married. There were some wounded places from my family history that I expected my friends to heal and fulfill. After I did some work with a counselor, my husband, and God, I realized something pretty important:

My friends need to be who they are and I need to be who I am.

This is especially true in friendships with other couples and in the transition some of us have begun to make into parenthood. Jake and I have been blessed with so many wonderful friends over the years and we realize that each and every couple (and individual within that couple) is different. They have different lifestyles, jobs, personalities, finances, living situations, ministry demands, childcare responsibilities, and spiritual lives. Just as Jake and I have have our own unique life together and way of living it.

A good deal of the idealistic views we had about friendship and community back when our marriage was new have honestly turned out to be total crap! We have learned a valuable lesson; to treasure each moment with our friends whether it be the ones we can call last minute to come over for dinner, the ones that we might see every month or two at most, or the ones we Skype with every so often because we live far apart.

Friendships should be mutually enriching, giving, understanding and pressure free. Yes, both parties need to make effort, but Jake and I have learned to understand that life is a constant state of flux and in order to simply enjoy our friends, we all need to relax and accept where we each are in life.

And sometimes we see our friends separately. I will Skype or get coffee with my girlfriends all alone (it's glorious!) and then Jake will go off with his guys to play Xbox or have a phone chat (although men don't chat I suppose...they would do something more manly like "discuss" or "check in man". Hey man, I'm just checkin' in on ya.)

We are so freaking grateful to have amazing friends. And we know how important it is to enjoy each and every one of them!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Three-Legged Race

A friend of mine this past week referred to marriage as a three-legged race and that image has really stuck with me. I'm sure this illustration has been used a million times but for whatever reason it hasn't crossed my mind before. It's so true! You have two people, trying to walk in step with one another and at times it is just down right difficult. Here are a couple thoughts running through my head about the three-legged race that is marriage:

1) Practice, practice, practice!

The winners at the annual three-legged race at family reunions every year are the ones who take the time to talk strategy before diving into the race. They make sure they are on the same page and know what leg to lead with. They also take time to walk around a bit before heading to the starting line. And isn't it also true that the ones who tend to win are the ones who are partners year after year?

If you are dating or engaged, take the time to really dig into conversations about what your marriage will be like. Read books, do pre-marital counseling, do pre-pre-marital counseling. Go on a retreat or take a class at your church together. The more you can do to get on the same page before hand, the better.

However, those of you who are married, know that no amount of preparation will completely eliminate any conflicts. Once you're married, you have to take the time to keep talking and evaluating where things are at. Be quick to see counselors or ask for help when you realize your moving at different tempos. Continue to read books, go to workshops and find ways to challenge your marriage.

2) The most telling thing is how you help each other up, not how fast you go.

I think it says more about a persons character when you observe how they handle failure and I believe the same is true for a marriage. Rather than working to hide all your struggles and failures be open and transparent about them instead. First off, be honest with yourselves as it's the moments where one of you is dragging the other along that actually teach us the most about ourselves and our spouse. But second, be honest with others because your failures will help others avoid your same mistakes.

3) Expect to fall out of step at some point.

It's a fantastic feeling when you and your spouse are in perfect lock and step and you've gone from a walk to a break out run together. Enjoy those seasons of your marriage but don't surprised when someone takes a misstep and you've got to slow down or stop all together to get on the same page before continuing forward.

First, don't take it out on your spouse if they are the ones to slow things down. I, like many men, hate it when Melissa wants to talk about our relationship. It annoys me because I typically feel like things are fine and I want to just keep running. However, it's so important to be loving in those moments and take the time for the conversation. I have learned that when I do that, we end up running even better or faster after the pause then if we had just kept going.

Second, understand that the consequence of not being willing to stop or slow down will be falling down instead of just a misstep and at times injuries. Don't ignore issues for the sake of appearances or comfort because it will only make things worse. We watched this happen in our first year of marriage. We ignored early signs and just tried to keep on pushing through them when we really needed to stop and ask for help. More and more hurtful things would be said during fights and eventually we got kicked out of our apartment because our fights were so loud. With both of us flat on our faces and fighting about how to get back up, we needed a counselor to work with us, slowly stand us back up and then help us talk through how to start moving forward together.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Have A Marriage Vs. Write About A Marriage

First, we'd like to announce something very special. Something that took six years of infertility, loads of prayer, being blessed with her big brother through foster care and now through adoption, and finally arrived as a total miracle after giving up on biological children...

Miss Nora Eve Kircher arrived June 5, 2013 at 1:35 in the afternoon and weighed 6lb 12oz. She is sleeping and eating like a champ and her big brother (who is now only weeks away from being legally ours!!) loves to give her kisses and hugs. Thanks for all your prayers and support through our less-than-normal family building process. God is good! He frustrates the living crap outta me with his timing, but he is good and in the end I usually agree that his plans were best...usually.

So now that there is a newborn in the house as well as an incredibly active sixteen-month-old, life is a wee bit insane! And on top of that Jake and I keep being offered great writing opportunities.

I'm not gonna lie, we usually fight about them. :) Jake would like to say yes to every single one, while I lean towards saying no to quite a few. I have a low craziness threshold and tend to shall we say "lose my shit" when things get too piled up. We had a minor tiff the other day regarding a writing gig and I had my own little epiphany.

I realized that it is totally impossible to write about marriage unless you take the time to have one.

You can be passionate about something, in our case letting other couples know that they're not alone in struggling through the ups and downs of marriage, but not make time for it. So, as Jake and I figure out what life looks like with two kids under 2, full-time ministry work, my fiction writing, our marriage blog, magazine writing, and other awesome opportunities...we will need to be extra careful to carve out time for ourselves. There's nothing to be gained by letting our relationship slide for the sake of busyness...not even for kiddos. Our marriage needs to come first! We're working on it...and will continue to let you know how it goes along the way!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What Makes a Great Marriage?

There are things that have been swirling in my head for quite some time now. Things that I have been too muddled about to share with anyone other than Jake and couple of trusted friends.

To say that the last couple years have been challenging is an understatement. They have been excruciating at times, full of wonder and joy in others, and a great spectrum of gray in between. The wonderful moments fit in with all our conventional ideas of a "great marriage."

But what about all of our excruciating moments? There have been so many days, weeks, and even months in our marriage over the last couple of years that simply do not fit into the traditional understanding of "great" or "good" or even "kinda ok."And as we've experienced difficult life circumstances such as the loss of a pregnancy, IVF, foster care, adoption, unexpected natural pregnancy, moving, job issues and so forth I have been wondering......

What really constitutes a good marriage?

I mean there are like a million books, blogs, and resources out there that tell me what a good marriage should look like. (Heck, including our own book and blog and articles.) And more often than not, my marriage does not meet those standards. And all around me I see marriages that are just like mine. Marriages that don't fit into the good category that has been created, but that are slogging through because we believe that loving one another, keeping a commitment, honoring God, and spending life together counts very much.  

If you notice, I have not written much on the blog in the past year. I've honestly been struggling with what to say. When you're constantly pondering, "I think we might all be getting this marriage thing wrong," but yet you don't have any answers to what will make it right, it's easier just to stay silent. Totally admit, my bad.

I believe in marriage. And I believe in order for it to stay healthy and strong in this day and age, it's time for things to change. For us to go about it in a new way and to understand relationships in a new way. But I don't know how. For example, I just read Tim Keller's book, The Meaning of Marriage. The whole thing was fantastic, spot on, so true. And yet...I wanted more. I wanted new ways to say the truths about marriage found in the Bible. I wanted to cut the Christan-ese. I wanted a different perspective on how to live out some of this stuff on a day-to-day basis. I wanted fresh insights into 21st century relationships.

Because sticking together is hard and it's not working for a lot of people and I don't have any tried and true answers for how to make staying easier. Jake and I will continue to share what we learn as we go along. But we're figuring out how to stick it out in our own unique marriage every day. 

So, deep breath, that is what I would like to say. I believe it's time for a massive cultural shift in the way that we think about, talk about, understand, and practice marriage. I have some inklings of what this might mean, but overall I'm as clueless as everyone else. I look forward to the future and hope that people start talking about marriage in new and groundbreaking ways. Because I'm eager to hear what we all have to discuss.

What do you think? Does marriage need an overhaul? If so, what do you think needs to be talked about in different ways?

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.