8 Relationship Tactics that Keep us Strong

photogfavs065.jpgAfter being married for 5 ½ years (together for 8 ½) I wanted to offer up a few tips for keeping the relationship strong. We’re no experts in the world of marriage and by no means are we perfect, but I feel like we’ve found a groove to where I can honestly say we are happily married and I could actually give some marriage advice. Relationships aren’t a one size fits all thing; we are all unique, but I still think some of these could be transferred into any relationship.


So this one is really tested when you become a parent. Sleep deprivation combined with the frustration of toddler meltdowns, crying babies and constant messes will turn kindness flat on its face. But what saves us is that we recognize when we snap at one another and apologize almost immediately. The second a bratty remark leaves my lips, I do my best to always apologize and admit that I’m just frustrated with the situation, not him. He does the same. It’s so very important not to be stubborn – be quick to offer up an apology when you’re being an a-hole.


When we had pre-marital meetings with our Pastor before we got married, he talked to us about the number one cause of divorce according to his many years of marriage counseling, which is poor communication. Whether it’s poor communication about money, the kids, needs, whatever. To combat this, the most impactful thing we’ve done is had little relationship check-ins. We try to do them every week (that often doesn’t happen) but we do them often enough and just sort of ask each other how we’re doing: “Is there anything that’s been bugging you? Is there anything you’ve been meaning to discuss with me but haven’t had the chance?” This is when you MUST be honest because bottling up stuff is damaging in the long run.


Obviously this doesn’t apply to all relationships, but for us this is a big thing. Going to church and worshiping together, praying together and for each other brings a level of intimacy that nothing else can. It deepens the level of trust and love that we already have.


This is the no brainer one that everyone knows, but it can be super challenging after you have kids. It is so very important to take time alone together.


Kids can be super annoying and sometimes all we can do is laugh at how insane our baby is acting, or how silly our toddler’s tantrum is. Making fun of our kids brings us closer together and pulls our heads out of the frustration of parenthood. To be clear, we don’t do it in front of them; trying not to damage their self esteem haha.


Scheduling time with friends is super important in keeping our relationship strong. Time away with just the girls can be so rejuvenating and I’m sure guys feel the same way.


Your needs can be absolutely anything; whether you or your partner need more physical intimacy, more verbal intimacy or something simple like needing occasional flowers, a chore done, help with the kids, encouraging words, more hugs, time away from the kids – whatever it is. In my less mature years, I used to think “he should know I need this” or “I wish I didn’t have to tell him to do xyz.” Through experience, I’ve learned that is a stupid way to think, so now I just tell Ryan when I feel like I have a need that isn’t being met. Your needs matter and it’s your spouse’s job to meet them as much as possible; but it’s your job to meet his/hers to the best of your ability also.


Take this quiz and find out, share the results with your spouse, show your love accordingly.






getting raw this father’s day

I haven’t been the greatest blogger lately, I know. I have topics I want to write about, but I just haven’t felt inspired to start typing away at anything – except for today. I got really inspired to write about what Father’s Day means to me.

Father’s day has always been a bit of a Debbie Downer day for me. My father was always inconsistent in whether he felt like being a father to me or not – and it was on Father’s Day 2009 that my father avoided my phone calls and avoided me entirely so that he could celebrate Father’s Day with his “real family” (my step-mom and half brother) – this resulted in me cutting off that relationship. I could only handle so much emotional abuse before it started to consume and destroy my soul. It was a heart wrenching decision to make, but I did it to protect myself from a lifetime of hurt.

I’ve since forgiven him for all the many years of being treated like a second rate child who he was embarrassed to admit he had because it reminded him of his failed marriage to my mother and that his life was not the perfect picture he wanted people to see. I now view him just like any other man; flawed. We are all flawed in all different ways – but his poor choices and unwillingness to admit his wrongs have resulted in missing out on not only my life and my brother’s life, but some pretty beautiful grandchildren. I hope one day we can reconcile and have some kind of relationship, although I will never be able to let my guard down the way I used to – that’s for sure.

Moving forward into positive land, I thankfully have the most spectacular step-dad any girl could ever ask for. He managed to find that perfect balance of never overstepping and trying to “replace” my dad, while always being there for me; father-daughter dance, graduations, going away to college, supporting my travel desires, sorority banquets, prom pictures, cheerleading, walking me down the isle – the list goes on and on. He is the kindest, most patient man – and today, I’m celebrating him. I definitely have “daddy-issues” as people rudely refer to people like me (100 percent certain that term was coined by someone who had a great dad growing up), but thanks to my step-dad, my “daddy-issues” have been gravely reduced. So thanks Dan VanHamersveld for always being there. I am very thankful to have you.


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Now for the obvious rant that you knew was coming – I want to talk about how great it is to watch Ryan be a Dad to Porter. The most fulfilling thing I’ve done in my life is provide my child with such a wonderfully loving, playful and dedicated Father. These two love each other so much – it’s obvious in how Porter lights up when Ryan walks through the door every evening. I feel so blessed that I had a baby with such a wonderful man. Ryan, I am so proud of the Father that you’ve become. We love you so very much.

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Happy Father’s Day to all the great Dads out there!