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.

WE ARE KIND; WHEN WE’RE NOT, WE SAY SORRY

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.

WE OVER COMMUNICATE

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.

WE PRAY TOGETHER

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.

WE GO ON DATES

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.

WE LAUGH AT OUR KIDS

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.

WE TAKE TIME APART

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.

WE TELL EACH OTHER OUR NEEDS

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.

WE ARE AWARE OF EACH OTHER’S LOVE LANGUAGE

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

 

 

 

 

 

All you need is Love and a JORD Wood Watch

img_1956Valentine’s Day has always seemed a little silly to me. I never understood why society needed a designated day to celebrate love. After all, Ryan and I celebrated each other all the time with dates, sweet notes, random flowers, and just laughing and enjoying life together.

It sounds like it was all sunshine and roses because for the most part, it was. We very rarely had any sort of an argument and we did everything together! We wrote love notes; he brought me random bouquets of flowers; we had date nights every single night, even if that just meant we were at home; we took trips together; we watched entire movies together; we went on runs together; we went wine tasting like every other weekend.

Then we had a kid.

Ok, I started to sort of get it. But still, Valentine’s Day seemed a bit blown up to me.

Then we had a second kid.

And now, I GET IT.

I finally understand that Valentine’s Day serves a purpose: It forces you to designate time to celebrate your special relationship, even while entrenched (maybe even drowning) in parenthood.

Honestly, Ryan and I can barely have a conversation when the kids are awake and by the time they’re in bed, we are pretty drained. Our feeling of togetherness is constantly interrupted by a chatty three year old, diapers, picking up toys, cleaning up messy floors 700 times a day, the never ending laundry, the time-outs, the crying, the kissing of the boo boos, the frantic “what’s in Preston’s mouth!” It’s no big shocker why marriages statistically suffer after having kids.

We’ve had countless discussions about how important it is that we make time for each other, but that’s easier said than done when you have young kids. Never before have I cherished moments alone with Ryan like I do now. With one kid, all we had to do was put Porter down for a nap and boom, alone time. But with two, there’s a good chance their naps won’t overlap, giving you zero breaks and it’s exhausting.

Romance has become less grandiose and more about the tiny moments that the kids can’t take away from us, like when Ryan comes up behind me while I’m cooking dinner to give me a kiss; or when we bring each other drinks; the rare occasion when we write each other a note by the coffee pot; the hug that lasts way longer than normal even though Preston is fussing and Porter is saying something completely ridiculous; the offering to take one or both kids to the store so the other parent can get a break; the sharing of tasks when it’s time to get the kids bathed and in bed; couch snuggles during that small window of time between the kids going to bed and us passing out – this is what parenthood romance looks like for us.

And while I’m so very grateful for these sweet moments, it’s not enough. I want more.

I want more of Ryan all to myself. I want more of what we used to have, without giving less to my sweet babies. I want it all.

How the heck do we do this? Literally asking the question because I have yet to find the perfect solution. If you’ve found it, please comment below and tell me what you do. If it involves hundreds of dollars in babysitting money, your advice won’t help me.

I think the answer could be something really simple though; carving out time. If we want more time together, we just have to reserve it. It sounds so simple, so why can’t we do it? Even if it’s just a quick trip out to lunch, a picnic to keep it simple, a movie, a hike, whatever. All we really need is some quality time together that doesn’t involve our little humans we made. I want to recommit to this on Valentine’s Day.

I decided to give Ryan a JORD Wood Watch for an early Valentine’s Day present because it perfectly commemorates how important quality time is for our marriage to stay strong. I want him to look at the watch everyday and remember how much I love spending quality time with him. I gave Ryan this one, but there are so many awesome designs to choose from. It’s a unique watch because it’s literally made out of wood – I love that it’s sleek but rustic at the same time and Ryan’s obsessed. You can click on the links below to see all the different cool watches. I’ve even been eying the women’s line and I like what I see!

JORD Wood Watch Links:

GIVEAWAY – win $25 towards a watch just for entering, could win up to $100!

Men’s Shop 

Women’s Shop

Luxury Wooden Watch
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This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own

A message for the non-moms

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As much as I hate admitting it, I’m often consumed with thoughts about how friggin’ hard motherhood is. If you accompany me on one of my rare kid free nights out, I’m likely telling you about how I haven’t felt rested in three years and how much I miss going out to dinner or leaving town with my husband at a moment’s notice and how I’m so sick of wiping asses and can we please have a sick free home for just one stinkin’ month? Or maybe if I could please just go to the bathroom without an audience…

The truth is, I’m in the thick of one of the most challenging stages of life and if I’m not careful, my sheer state of exhaustion will make it difficult for me to do anything other than mourn my life before kids when I’m out with you. But I want to tell you that I do actually have a lot of wonderful moments (like the one in the picture above) I just don’t share them with you as often as I share how much I need a bottle of wine to myself because my kids are turning me into a major cray cray. When I’m with you, I remember how it felt to be rested and free to do whatever I feel like doing (within reason).

When I’m talking to you about my life, I feel this weird sense of responsibility to share how insanely challenging it can be – like I don’t want you to feel duped once you pop a kid out and become entrenched in motherhood. I share how parenthood can push you to the brink of insanity, but what I neglect to share is that through all the insanity and frustration is the most perfect little face staring back at you. I grew these tiny humans in my body and they are the perfect blend of me and the love of my life. Does it get better than that? My heart is bursting with a sort of unconditional love you’ve never felt before. And to be clear, this love is there regardless of DNA; this crazy love comes with raising a child.

Every single time I look at my boys; whether it’s watching them laugh, cry, fall, accomplish something they’re proud of, learn something new, taste chocolate ice cream for the first time, throw up all over me or my car, have an assplosion diaper, tell me they love me, throw a massive tantrum, cry for seemingly no reason, give me hugs and kisses, fall blissfully asleep as soon as I take them in my arms (this list could go on forever, but you get the idea) – literally every single moment I have with these boys, whether beautiful or ugly, my heart is consumed with unconditional love and doting eyes and it feels amazing. There is just no other love in this world than the love parents have for their children. This love is like a drug and if it were taken away from me, I’d have serious withdrawals and a massive hole in my heart.

So, no matter how much I bitch about needing a break or how many times I tell you I’m jealous of your freedom, know that if I had the choice to go back and have my babies again, I’d do it over and over and over without hesitation. This crazy love I have for my babies has made me a better person; I’m wiser, more patient and have a bigger capacity to love. Yes, parenting little humans is really hard sometimes, but the rewards FAR outweigh the struggles.

Sincerely,

A mom of two boys under 3

The Valentine’s Day Spectrum

reception200Valentine’s Day is this coming Sunday and I’ve been thinking about how different this holiday is for so many couples. There’s definitely a spectrum when it comes to celebrating this “Hallmark Holiday.”

For some, this holiday means THE WORKS; a night out at a crowded restaurant with a fixed “Valentine’s Day” menu (which happens to be marked up three times what it normally would cost). Date goers are likely wearing some sort of red/pink ensemble. There’s probably some sort of jewelry gift and overpriced red roses (tragically combined with baby’s breath). There is no doubt a lot of social media sharing regarding how your guy “spoiled you” this Valentine’s Day. For me, this is just kind of ick/barf on a stick and if I’m being honest, I’m sort of judging (albeit unfairly) that you MUST have a shallow relationship. I also feel bad for the guy in this scenario because he usually gets the shaft.

Anti-Valentines-DayOn the opposite end of the spectrum are the Debbie Downer cynics who absolutely detest this holiday and refuse to acknowledge it. This seems a little depressing to me. Would it kill you to at least acknowledge your significant other on Valentine’s Day with a simple card/note or kind gesture? Come on now…

Ryan and I fall somewhere in the middle on the Valentine’s Day spectrum. We hate the hoopla of an overcrowded restaurant and I personally hate the combination of roses/baby’s breath; a bouquet of peonies or tulips from Trader Joes would make my day. We usually keep it simple with an extra special dinner/wine and a card, maybe I’ll wear some red lipstick.

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Now that we are parents, I admit that I understand the appeal of going to a restaurant probably more than I ever have. You might even find me with my foot in my mouth next year, as I’ll be a mother of two crazy boys. But this year, we still would rather just stay in because that’s how much we hate crowds and overpaying for mediocre food.

If you’re like us and would rather stay in and cook, you can’t go wrong with my filet mignon with red wine sauce recipe (this write-up is from a few years back). Another dinner idea that’s become somewhat of a V-Day tradition for us is king crab, steamed in beer, paired with these grilled artichokes and this garlic bread recipe. You can tell we’ve been together for a while because this dinner is messy and full of garlic ;).

However you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day, I hope you spend it with someone you love – even if that special someone happens to have four legs 🙂