Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What it Really Takes to Stay Married

I just read this today and wanted to share this article and my thoughts on it as well.

1. Know That Happily-Ever-After Is A Myth:

Lower your expectations; it's dangerous fantasy to think marriage really means you get to be happy forever. Expecting perfection in a marriage or a mate is a fast ticket to divorce. Listen to the longtime wives on this point: The happiest women have a clear sense of purpose and passion outside of their relationships. We realize that a marriage that runs on multiple tracks makes for a more satisfied spouse who gets to have it both ways -- a committed marriage and personal adventures in uncharted territory. Marital bliss is possible if each partner is blissful without the other.

From a very young age, most girls are spoon fed the "prince charming" fantasy and so there is this unrealistic expectation of what marriage will really mean. Isn't it interesting that all the Fairy Tales end with the kiss or the wedding and everyone lives "happily ever after ..." Yet, we are never privy to exactly how their "happily ever after" unfolds. Instead of raising our girls to find men, we should be raising our girls to find themselves.
A strong confident woman who knows who she is and knows what she wants for her life, is far more likely to find a healthy partner with whom to create a lasting relationship; a relationship that will include mutual respect and an equal partnership. Let's also teach our children that love is not based on emotion; love is a commitment to give of yourself to someone even when times are tough and you're just not feeling it!

2. Don't compare your marriage to anyone else's:
It's your relationship, not your sister's, not your mother's, and there is no gold standard marriage. Everyone has issues, problems, and most importantly, their own secrets. Your girlfriend who is always calling her husband "sweetie" and sits with her legs twined with his may be flinging dishes at him when no one is around. So don't worry that your marriage isn't measuring up. Because no one knows what's really going on in a marriage except the two people in it. That gives each of us the freedom to write our own rules.

I love that! "Write your own rules." Its the same advice I was given and still  give to new parents, "Do what works for you!" This is your life, your marriage, your family - remember when you were little and you couldn't wait to grow up so you could do things the way you wanted to? Well, here you are, grown up, time to do it the way you've always wanted to. Talk to each other about what's working and whats not, be willing to make changes, and stop listening to what everyone else is saying, especially family. 

3. Hang out with outrageous girlfriends and boyfriends -- with boundaries:
The wives with the highest marital satisfaction have a tight circle of wild women friends with whom to drink, travel and vent. Close friendships provide the escape hatch from the inevitable storms that come with living with somebody year-to-year in the grind of ordinary life. Women who love the company of men shouldn't have to eliminate men friends from their lives. These extra-marital males who always think we're beautiful and smart (because they don't live with us :)) definitely make for a perkier wife. So marry someone who is confident and flexible, a man who knows that the more people, male and female, who bolster your self-esteem means there's less work for him!

Jeremy and I have always been open to the other having friendship with same and opposite sex friends. We both have them and we're both okay with that because we TRUST each other. We openly joke about our "list," you know the infamous list from "Friends?" I know he loves Natalie Portman and he knows I was totally in love with Keith Urban for a while but lately I am more into Bradley Cooper ... :) We also chat about the real day to day people we find attractive as well. Be Real! Just because you're married doesn't mean you will never be attracted to someone else, but be open and honest about it. On another note we each need time apart with friends, to be ourselves not Mr. & Mrs.,  not Mom & Dad, just Leah & Jeremy.

4. Take Separate Vacations:
You like to camp and your husband likes to golf? Spend a month of the summer in the Adirondacks while he goes with his buddies to Scottsdale or better yet, Scotland. Obviously this works better once empty nest hits. After some weeks apart from each other, removed from clashing over bills and in-laws, marriage seems way hotter than the tepid state in which you left each other. Make sure you have the fundamental quality of trust going into a marriage. Trust allows couples to liberate each other to explore their own passions independently. And partners who keep growing as individuals during each phase of a marriage are the ones with the best chance of growing together and staying together.

We're not quite here yet, but it sounds wonderful! We are still trying to find the time for a night away together or the funds for a family vacation ... although I have been away on a girls weekend and hope to again soon. Guess I owe him one ... :)

5. Remember to talk to each other, and to have sex:
In between wifely gallivants and self-exploration, remember to love the guy you're with -- kiss him hello and goodbye, and make time for conversation, no matter how crammed your two-career schedules are. Don't forget to have sex -- sex is really relaxing and fun and can make all your woes go away, at least for eleven minutes or so! Express gratitude to this guy who is giving you something huge: This is the person who can help you build a safe harbor in a world of chaos and uncertainly. He can give you children. After years of having to Spanx every body part in order to impress your dates, your husband is the prince who gave you the freedom to soften at the belly, and to finally relax. The biggest surprise secret I found is how many wives are still enjoying sex after 75 with their mates of 50-plus years!

This seemed SO easy before we had a baby and then our carefree world was wonderfully, crazily, tipped upside down by our beautiful, lovebug. Now we have to actually plan time for ourselves and to be completely honest, we had a very deep, heart to heart about this recently - I won't speak for Jeremy, but I will say that I realized that I was making time for everything else in my life but for him. I had put him on the bottom of my list of priorities. I think in some way, I felt safe to do this because I like to think he'd never actually leave and somehow I felt justified as well, because I needed time for myself especially now that I am a mom. True as that may be, why did I decide I couldn't make time for love? I mean isn't that why I got married in the first place, isn't that why I decided I wanted to have a baby? Because of love?  I want my family to thrive, but it can only thrive on love, and that has to start from the top and work its way down. No he's not always perfect, but neither am I and so enough excuses! Our relationship is a priority.

6. Don't try to win every fight:
Surrender once in a while instead of always having to be right. Couples who stomp off with unresolved conflicts end up holding onto vintage rage, and antique blame that forms toxic wedges over time. Even if you can't forgive and forget, at least let go and move on when snarly brawls and/or plate-throwing erupts behind your own closed doors. Say "I'm sorry", even if you're not sorry one bit. Showing compassion definitely makes spouses behave better. And the ability to bounce back from strife is the real secret that makes marriages last forever.

My mom always told me I didn't know when to shut my mouth and boy was she right! When we were first married, oh my, we fought and fought and fought. Then one day it dawned on me, why did I always have to add fuel to the fire? Why did I have to turn a small argument into a raging fight? Some things don't need to be said, EVER, even when you really want to! Other things need to be said, but maybe not right away. Now I can't say I have perfected this or that I am always quick to watch what I say, I mean especially after a baby and dealing with sleep deprivation, but I have determined to be more mindful of what I say. My newest goal for myself has been to cut down on the negativity and begin to speak more positively into my surroundings, into my family, into my friends, and into anyone I come in contact with. I want peace in all aspects of my life and that includes my marriage. Being right isn't always worth it.

These points are inspired by a book entitled, "The Secret Lives Wives:Women Share What it Really Takes to Stay Married " and were taken from an article entitled "6 Secrets to Staying Married Forever," both of which were written by Iris Krasnow, an assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University

Friday, October 14, 2011

You Are the 99%

So I am still  a little unclear as to the exact goal of the Occupiers, but one thing is for sure, at least they are making themselves heard!! I am really tired of people scoffing at them while they sit and do nothing. Whether you agree with them or not, you have to agree that CHANGE IS NEEDED! It's so easy to judge when you are on the outside looking in, but honestly how many of you can say you are not one of the 99%? I know I can't.

I am going to get really personal here, almost a year ago, a month after we closed on our home, my husband was laid off from his job. Our daughter was 8 mos. old at the time and I had just started a very part time job. The day he was laid off set off a series of events that have changed my outlook on life in general and have given me a compassion and a passion for the 99%. All of a sudden our income was cut in half, we had no health insurance, we didn't have enough money to pay our bills, frankly, we were screwed.

My husband has worked since he was fourteen, losing his job while trying to care for his family, was extremely demoralizing and depressing for him. He searched and searched for jobs, he applied to any position he felt that he would qualify for, nothing happened for almost a year. He just started a new job last month, he does not make as much as he did before, we are extremely behind on pretty much all of our bills. We are still in our house thanks to the loving support of our families. All of a sudden we needed Government Assistance and qualified for it as well, something we NEVER expected to take or need.

We have always worked hard, my husband and I are both still paying for our college educations, we have a mortgage, a car payment, utility bills, gas bills, grocery bills, doctor's bills ... All we want is a chance to live the "American Dream." But how are we suppose to do that when we can't live on my husbands income or afford for me to work because child care is too expensive and honestly I'd really like to be the one who raises my daughter!!

So whether you like it or not, the Occupiers have a point and unlike most of us they have a voice. So instead of scoffing at them, why not join them and make your voice heard? Our government is suppose to work for us, but instead they're living cushy lives, paid for by us, while we are getting calls from our creditors. Is that not a problem to you?

This Movement ...
"It is real. Yes, it’s youth-driven, broad-based, determinedly democratic and deeply grounded in the most basic of American values of economic fairness, social justice and equal opportunity for all. It’s not about left-right ideologies, but top-down realities. It’s focused directly on the narcissistic greed of today’s financial and corporate elites and on their gross corruption of our political system by a flood of money from corporations that now masquerade as persons.

Is the movement exactly there? No, not by a long shot; but it has a shot. The spunk, motivation, idealism, creativity and passion of these young people are genuine, not the product of partisan consultants, think tanks, rich funders or large organizations. So the movement’s direct street action is turning out to be the spark that millions of disgusted grassroots people have needed to stop moaning and start acting, which is why Occupy Madison, Occupy Chicago, and hundreds of other Occupies have sprung up spontaneously across the country within three weeks of the Wall Street initiative. These people are on target and on the move." *

So yes, they may be too radical for you. Yes, they lack maturity. Yes, they need to solidify their goals and agenda. But they are going to make changes and if you care to make changes that matter to you then you might want to take them a little more seriously and make you're voice heard as well.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
Committed people can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

*Jim Hightower http://www.isthmus.com/daily/article.php?article=34951

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trying to figure out what you REALLY believe

Taken, with permission of course :), from my friends Facebook page. I thought it was very well said and worth reading ...

"Trying to figure out what you REALLY believe about the world, people, church, and family, is a long process--It means looking at all sides of every argument of each topic you are thinking about--Even the sides that we think are ridiculous, not just the sides of the argument that are in favor of what you originally thought, or what you were raised to think.

To my fellow Christians--As Christians, ...taking all of these points of view, (conservative, liberal, independent, on all issues fiscal, social, relational), and bringing them to the foundation of scripture, and doing our best to have an unbiased approach while doing so, is the only way to ensure that we are not just believing and living out things that are only based on what other people (even intelligent, Godly people) have told us before. It's a lifelong, annoying, grueling process that many of us (including myself) have in the past, seen as being unnecessary, because many of us believe (and were raised to believe) that we already have it figured out. This is our biggest problem.

If we are only discussing these major life topics with people that agree with us, then we are not actually doing any truth seeking, but are only reinforcing our own opinions about the world. This will not help anyone, and when we are suddenly in conversations with people who challenge our beliefs and opinions, we will appear shy, sheepish, biased and uninformed. In such crazy times, we cannot afford to be this way."
by Madolyn Zani.
I have had the privelage of knowing Maddy since we were very young ladies. She is a music extraordinaire, she sings, writes music, plays violin, guitar, and piano. She is beautiful inside and out, and I am really proud of the woman she has become. I only wish we could go back to the less hectic days so that we could actually see eachother once and a while. :)

I can see You everywhere ...

This year or maybe I should say these past two years have been difficult, heart breaking, overwhelming, etc. Yet, when I look back I see so much beauty, so many things to be thankful for in the midst of all the chaos. Its difficult to be thankful all the time, its hard to smile everyday, especially when it seems like we can never catch a break, but I have to hold on to hope ...

In my most difficult moments it seems that God always finds a way to let me know that its going to be ok, somehow, someway, it will all be ok. This time my encouragement and inspiration has come through a book, a book I picked up by "chance" at the library because it looked interesting ... it was not in the inspirational/spiritual section. In fact, its listed as a novel and in the fiction section. Someone obviously knew I needed to read this and so because I have been inspired, I decided to share this inspiration with you ...

"Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful!"

"How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we."

"One thing that has helped me personally in the past was to stop interfering with the people around me and getting frusturated when I couldn't change them. Instead of intrusion or passivity, may I suggest submission? Some people make the mistake of confusing "submission" with "weakness," whereas it is anything but. Submission is a form of peaceful acceptance of the terms of the universe, including the things we are currently unable to change or comprehend."

"Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of the process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the cresecnt moon to become full."

I leave you with this for now as I could go on and on, but I hope you will be inspired today to believe that it is always darkest before the dawn and that lifes greatest beauty comes through hardship and pain.

"I can see You everywhere, all around me, in the air,You surround my heart with songs of rare belief ..." Rita Springer

*All quotes are from the book, "The Forty Rules of Love," by Elif Shafak

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And So the Story Begins ...

Today is the day that our application is being sent to the MA Department of Children and Families in hopes of finding the newest member of our family. This is an exciting day, as we are eagerly anticipating adding to our family. Today is also a nerve wracking day, and we have many such days ahead, as we wait, as we wonder, as we fill out paperwork, attend a class, complete a home study, and in between it all we wait some more. Becoming a parent is always about waiting and anticipation no matter how you choose to begin and add to your family. Whether its simply the long 9+ months you wait for a baby to arrive, or the many months/years of trying to conceive, or the numerous fertility treatments, or the journey we are about to embark on, the many months of waiting for our little one to join the family through adoption. Whatever your story is on becoming a parent, the joy that awaits on the other side is like no other and the love that fills your heart is almost overwhelming. Life is such a beautiful, wonderful gift.

Some of you might wonder why we've chosen to adopt when we obviously are able to have biological children and I guess this would be our answer, because that is what our hearts are telling us to do, its what my heart has been telling me to do for as long as I can remember, and so we are following our hearts lead. I feel very privelaged to have a husband who believes in the beauty of adoption just as much as I do, I know this is something to be grateful for, and is not always the case. I have had many people tell me that they couldn't do it or that they could but their spouse would never go for it. I think that love is a lot deeper than most people realize, love only has limits if you choose to give it limitations. At the very core of every succesful family is LOVE and so we are just opening our hearts a little wider to make room for more joy, more cuddles, more chubs, and more fun! Of course we realize that this also comes with more challeges, but what child doesn't? As one of my favorite songs says, "Love's the only House big enough for all of the pain in the world," so we are opening our door ...