Posts in the 'relationships' Category

On Marriage: I’m Not Waiting Until Marriage

This article popped up on The Huffington Post, and as I tend to do with all things wedding- or marriage-related on a site I frequent, I opened it and read it. And my heart fluttered a bit. There does often seem to be this abounding sense of pessimism surrounding weddings and marriages, especially in this era of the divorce rate setting up camp at around 50%. So sometimes, it’s really, really nice to read a piece about someone who is truly happy and truly wants to be married for the sake of love and partnership. Neal Samudre explains his stance on why he didn’t wait:

BALANCING ACTVia Kyle Steed Design on Flickr

I’m getting ready to marry my best friend, and because I love her, I must say: I didn’t wait for marriage. And hopefully, she’ll be happy I didn’t.

Let me tell you the story of why I bring this up now, just a couple months before my wedding:

I proposed to my fiancé in December, when I didn’t have a job, didn’t have money, and didn’t have anything to my name but nickels and dimes. Some said it was romantic, but most people said it was foolish.

When the reality of marriage started sinking in, I wrote an article describing my sentiments on why I chose to get engaged at an early age. I honestly said that I got engaged at a young age because I was in love, and love for me is greater than timing, how much money I have, and other jaded opinions on marriage in our culture.

What I didn’t expect, however, were the millions of people who would tune into this belief. The article went viral in a short time, with millions of views around the globe and thousands of shares.

Hundreds of people were reaching out to me and blessing my marriage. But also, on the other side of that, people were condemning it.

People said I wasn’t ready.

They said I was too young.

They said I was idiotic for getting engaged without a job, and that I should start preparing for a divorce soon.

One person even found pictures of me, scribbled racist jargon all over it, and emailed it to me saying that I should go kill myself because I’m a minority with dumb thoughts on love.

This disturbed me of course, but one response bothered me even more. Multiple people said this when they commented on my future:

Just wait until marriage.

They said this as if I’m going to cross the line into marriage and instantly be dissatisfied.

Why is our culture so cynical on love these days?

People willingly choose to believe increasing divorce rates as a fact for their own lives. They let negative comments and views on love seep into their opinions on marriage, ultimately leading towards cynicism.

Marriage is a contract, they say. Marriage is the end to fun times. Marriage is not all it’s cracked up to be.

People listen to that and carry it with them to the altar.

It’s no wonder more and more marriages are failing today. People are oddly choosing to believe a pessimistic view on marriage.

Some have even told me that love has nothing to do with marriage.

To read more on why Samudre couldn’t hold off any longer, why he wouldn’t wait, head on over to HuffPo.

On Marriage: 30 Years of Marriage, 30 Gifts of Imperfection

This article on BlogHer by TheFlyCoach shines the light on the imperfections of marriage … because it isn’t always Champagne and cupcakes. Sometimes it’s work — hard work — and you have to put up a fight. And then, one day, you may wake up and realize decades have passed and ask yourself “Now what?”

couple

Via

I feel like I fell asleep for 30 years and just woke up. How did 30 years go by so quickly? We sat and talked about options for celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. I asked him randomly, “Now what?” He looked puzzled at my question. I said it again, “Now what?” It is a simple question, right?

We raised two daughters, purchased homes, built careers, parented numerous pets and now the house is empty as we embark upon one of the biggest milestones of our life. I wish we were one of those couples that says, “It has been heavenly bliss.” I very lovingly and non-judgmentally ask, “Who are these people? What planet did they come from?” I love my husband and I know he loves me and would gladly take the ride again. However, it has been nothing close to “heavenly bliss”. We are the couple that loves deeply, but have not been completely satisfied in our marriage? Oddly enough we have always celebrated as if we were.

I often wonder why we didn’t throw in the towel. We struggled to adjust to our newly-merged life. We married young and were just beginning to know ourselves as individuals. We were first time homeowners and parents within three years of marriage. We are total opposites of each other. Our communication is a C- at best. He watches sports. I like the OWN Network. He likes liver smothered in gravy with onions. I can’t stand the sight of it. He loves golf. I love riding in the golf cart with snacks and a glass of wine. He has the patience of Job. I am inpatient and short tempered. He’s in government and I am a corporate girl. He’s an extrovert. I am an introvert. He loves to be surrounded by people and I enjoy being alone. How in God’s name did we make it this far?

I don’t know – actually I take that back. It was all God. We have been blessed beyond measure. God undoubtedly ordained this marriage. We are grateful! With each anniversary we thought it would be the last and here’s why:

  • We focused on negative aspects of our marriage. Nothing seemed to work. We chose to focus on everything except that which was good and perfect.
  • We didn’t make our marriage a priority. I chose to place the kids front and center and he chose career. We neglected our marriage – with justifiable reasons.
  • We refused to take accountability for our dysfunction. We finger pointed. It was easier.
  • We surrendered to silence instead of voicing our values, opinions and expectations.

Nevertheless, we made it. But, what was the destination? We are older, wiser, more mature and yet still dysfunctional. Despite it all, we love each other and are committed to each other for life. There has always been something within that has held us together like glue. Is that a characteristic of soul mates? No matter how hard we tried to fight it, we are meant to be together.

To see how the author turns the page to the next chapter in her marriage, head on over to Blogher.

On Marriage: 11 Ways to Make Your Long-Term Marriage Happier, Starting Today

I think we’re all well-aware that marriage can be tough for a multitude of reasons. And, well, sometimes we don’t know how to get back to that good place, the place of mutual happiness and enjoyment. Sometimes we get so stuck in the motions and the regularity that we forget how to be nice to each other and for each other, which has a way of diminishing the good stuff. So when when this popped up on Huffington Post, I found it to be a great reminder that marriage is supposed to be for the long term, and that it does take work, but that work? Well, it can be completely worth it.

so happy togethervia

The honeymoon period in most marriages has a shelf life. But does that mean you can’t bring back those fluttery butterfly feelings of excitement and anticipation everyone experiences at the beginning of a relationship? Absolutely not. All marriages maneuver through rough patches. Some don’t survive long enough to come out the other side unscathed. But many do. Here are 11 ways to keep your marriage fresh.

1. Remind your partner (and yourself) that you appreciate them.

After you’ve been married for many, many years, that passionate kiss when your partner walks in the door can easily morph into a peck on the check that can then morph into an inability even to look up from your computer. Over the course of my 23-year marriage, there are times when I’ve felt my own husband and I were starting to become so familiar with each other that we were settling into a stultifying — albeit comfortable — routine. But there’s a real danger in that. Studies show that nearly half of men who have cheated say it was because of emotional dissatisfaction — and not sex. When men don’t feel connected or appreciated by their wives, they are vulnerable to the advances of any attractive woman who casts a lustful glance their way. And fellows, it works the other way as well.

In his film “Annie Hall,” Woody Allen charged that “a relationship is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.” I believe he was right.

2. Say thank you for the little things.

I’ve been guilty of keeping score, constantly calculating who had done what. “I cleaned out the kids’ closets, so you have to clean the basement.” “I moved for your job when we first got married, so now you need to move for mine.” “I initiated sex last time, so now it’s your turn.” But playing tit for tat is childish and will do nothing but chip away at the trust and connection you’ve built with your spouse. If you are so inclined, keep score of all the positive things your partner does in a day — and then thank them. Hopefully they’ll get the hint and do the same for you.

3. Practice honesty, even when you’re ashamed.

If you have maxed out a credit card or two and find yourself hiding the bills each month, you can bet it’s going to come back to bite you. Eventually, whether you’re applying for a home loan or simply talking about the costs of summer vacation, these kinds of money issues will either be brought to light by a credit report or by the simple fact you can’t afford a trip away. Although infidelity usually happens in bed, it also can happen with money. And it will be a tough road gaining back your spouse’s trust if you’ve lied about overspending.

Along that same vein, if you feel you aren’t connecting with your partner the way you used to, you need to say something — now. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. I once let communication issues fester for months on end, failing to verbalize my displeasure, and my husband and I wound up in marriage counseling for nearly a year. It took a third party — and a real investment on our part — to get us back on track. If I had not kept telling myself that things would get better on their own, we might not have reached what I call the danger zone.

4. Take care of your appearance.

With many years and a few kids under your belt, it’s easy to let your appearance slide. Think about when you first met your partner. Would you have walked around in stained sweatpants and without brushing your teeth? My guess is no. I’m not saying you have to look like Julianne Moore every time you settle in for a night of TV. But I’ve seen too many couples transform from Cliff and Clair Huxtable into Dan and Roseanne Connor — with disastrous repercussions.

Sometimes my husband will say “wow, you look nice” as I’m walking out the door for a girls’ night out. At least pay your spouse the same courtesy you do your friends by fixing yourself up for him or her every once in awhile.

5. Foster relationships outside your marriage.

I’ve been going on girls’ trips for as long as I’ve been married. Yes, I love traipsing off with my spouse and three kids. But these weekends away with friends are also important. Swapping stories with others and enjoying new experiences make me — I hope — a more interesting person for my spouse to be around. When Katie Couric asked Barbra Streisand the secret to her happy 14-year marriage to James Brolin, she replied “time apart.” “It gets romantic because even the conversations on the phone get more romantic. You need some distance,” Streisand said.

Your marriage should be your primary relationship — but it needn’t be the only one.

Be kind to yourself and each other, and check out the other 6 rules on Huffington Post.

 

{Ask Liz} Wedding Resetting and THOSE Guests

It’s his wedding, too. Let him know EXACTLY what that means.

Dear Liz,

My fiance and I have been engaged for about four months. We set a small budget right away and agreed that this is the most important criteria. But we’ve changed our idea for the “big day” too many times already, and now he wants to change it again.

The first wedding idea we had was twenty people at our favorite restaurant having good food and wine and laughs and hugs with our families. $2500 could buy one heck of a good time for our loved ones. Well, NO ONE liked that idea, especially his mother. She and I don’t have the best relationship, and so in an effort to gain her approval, we agreed that a bigger-small wedding would be best – 100 people.

So we booked a park lodge and decided on a date. My mom is making the cake, one aunt is making the dress, another is our photographer, items are purchased, deposits are paid.  Last weekend my groom-to-be announced (in a temper tantrum) that he doesn’t want to do the big wedding anymore, and that we should go back to the restaurant idea. I don’t want his mom to be angry, and I don’t want to throw out the planning that’s already been done, but I don’t feel THAT committed to either idea – one is a lot of money, the other is a lot of work. But both weddings would be fun and nice in their own way. I don’t want to be a bridezilla about it, but I feel a little like a doormat in the whole thing. One idea is his mom’s and one idea is his. And either way I am the one who has to execute the “perfect” day. How can I make myself feel better about this happy but not-so-dreamy situation?

Signed,

Switched and Screwed

Dear Switched,

Yup, you are in a tough spot, and there is obviously a lot more emotion than there is logic in your fiance’s new (old?) stance. So, throw in some logic. Figure out exactly what it would take and exactly how much you would lose, money-wise, if you went back to the restaurant idea. The deposit, which someone had to pay for, would be gone. Find out if the restaurant is even available on that day too. Have Save the Dates gone out to the 100 people on the guest list? That means that you’ve got to let some of them know that they’re not coming. Are any of the items you’ve purchased location specific? Get all this information and present it to him. Tell him if he wants to switch, then you’re behind him, but this is what it’s going to entail. And then be quiet and see what he says.

The thing of it is, he’s your husband, and this is going to be his wedding, too. If he’s truly not comfortable with it, for whatever reason, and you don’t care either way, then there’s your answer. People ask you why, you say that this is what he wants, and you’re okay with it.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about your relationship with your FMIL right now. You’re supporting your husband, who is her son. That’s your bottom line. Oh, and once the final decision is made, don’t be afraid to ask him to help you execute it.

Dear Liz,

I work in a small private medical office of about 25 young-middle aged women. Because of the nature of our work, we aren’t in separate cubes working alone, we are all constantly working together and chit-chatting all day long. There are about five women I feel I absolutely want at my wedding, but because of our work environment, it’s more of an “invite none-or all” situation. The wedding is three hours away from work/home so most people will likely decline, and even if they didn’t, I would be happy if more people could make it. The problem is two young women I used to be extremely close to, who I’ve had a falling out with. They are constantly planning and scheming against me and being sneaky. I know for sure, if I invited them out of courtesy to include the whole office, they absolutely would show up. I do not want to spend my day with such negative, mean people. However, I still can’t lower myself to their level and leave them out and invite everyone else. How do I enjoy my day with those that are important to me, without letting Dumb and Dumber ruin the fun, AND avoid stepping on toes?!

They’re back there somewhere. Keep your focus elsewhere. (Photo by Sara Kate)

I’m stumped!

Signed,

Ticked at Office Politics

 

Dear Ticked,

My first instinct is to not invite them, but I understand that since you’re going to be working there before and after your wedding, then that’s probably not plausible, unless you’re willing to take the heat. Odds are, everyone in your office knows the situation, including those two, so no one should be surprised.

However, if you’re not willing to take whatever gets dished out, then you need to continue being the better person. Invite them, accept their RSVPs, and be gracious to them at your wedding. The key to enjoying your wedding while the two of them are present is to focus on everything else at your wedding that rocks. There are people you love that are going be there. There is the food you picked, the fun you want to have, the music you want played, and you’re going to wearing a beautiful dress and married to the love of your life. They are only two people who you don’t have to hang out with, who you can interact with as briefly as you want, and you’ve got the rest of the day to enjoy. Go for it.

So, have you had to switch your wedding plans? How did you pull it off? Is office politics gumming up your guest list? Commiserate in the comments below!

See you at the end of the aisle,

{Guest Post} A Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Editor’s note: You might remember Tom from his last guest post, “Building Lasting Relationships: Nine Ideas For Success” – which you guys loved, btw. Today, he’s here to remind you to remember to continue to love your partner and those around you, even in the desperate throes of wedding planning.  

via Jones Design Company

Love is a fascinating subject – a word that’s applied to a myriad of situations, sometimes without thought, other times shaped by a lifetime of experiences.

But what the heck is love? It’s certainly a tough word to pin down. Maybe we can just surround it for a while, in our discussion today.

Love can be compelling or aggravating– beautiful or exasperating. Love can be a life force that entwines itself with our souls, while the absence of love can feel like a plague placed upon our wretched existence. Love can be passionately physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Love is has no universal definition, and yet, is universally accepted as something we all strive to do.

For most love is an uplifting feeling –  a binding hope for sustained care, ongoing companionship, and a meaningful and valued relationship with another. That feeling of connection with others, and with the universe. Wholeness.

Others describe love like this:

The Bible says, “Love is patient and kind.”

Shakespeare wrote, “Love is begun by time, and time qualifies the spark and fire of it.”

Pat Benatar sang, “Love is a battlefield.”

Mother Teresa said, “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world, than there is for bread.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “To laugh often and love much… to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give one’s self . . . this is to have succeeded.”

The movie “Love Story” imposed, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Disraeli said, “We are all born for love . . . it is the principle existence and its only end.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.”

Sophocles said, “One word frees us from all the weight and pain in life. That word is love.”

And one more, the focus of this dialogue today, from Mother Teresa again, “I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time.”

These are such powerful words. Love requires intentional personal commitment. It’s an intangible, remarkable, indefinable, and irrational force— and yet, focused, it can change everything. Taking in the moment—loving someone—and then, repeating the process is the process of love. In each day, there are opportunities to give something or gain something from each interaction we have with someone else. Interestingly enough, my life experiences have taught me that when we give everything we can of ourselves, and take on the additional risks in opening ourselves up one person at a time, we inevitably receive more in return that ever seems possible. The more you give from within, the more blessings you may experience. It seems to be a consistent truth for me. I did interject the word “risks” here, because by taking risks, you can have your heart made to hurt. It happens. And in those moments, you have to get back up, and try to love again.

A teammate of mine in banking a number of years ago called me into her office, and said, “Hey, I’d like for you to see something.” She went on to say, “Six years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer—you sent me a small, handwritten note telling me that I was your hero for hanging in there tough, and that I should continue to stay focused upon life, and love, and God— and that everything will work out. And that you were praying for me to be healed.” She pulled open her top desk drawer, and there, yellowed a little by time, laid the note I had penned to her. It was taped to the drawer, so that when she opened it—it was clearly visible. She looked at me, and said, “I open this drawer, and read this note every morning. It means the world to me, and sustains me when I’m feeling down.” To which I said, “Wow.” There was nothing to say that would be a worthy response, and I was literally blown away. I think that’s kind of what love is all about. That “wow” thing. I had focused my efforts her direction for a few moments, six years prior—focusing my love on her. Demonstrating my love to her with a simple act of kindness and outreach. And there it was—still lingering, still speaking, and still providing hope.

Being a person of intentional kindness and love means that you will approach the day— looking for opportunities to create positive, initiated efforts— to love those around you. While I attempt to do that daily, I don’t always connect. But it’s always worth the effort. Like the very best baseball player at the plate—you’d be a legend if you only connect forty percent of the time. So I keep on swinging.

I’ve written about this many times before, but being a loving person is about “being in positive expectation of the moment.” By opening yourself up to those risky possibilities, love prevails.

And as Mother Teresa said, it’s a lot about establishing love— one person at a time. In every new endeavor I undertake, I try to put my arms around someone, and then just keep making the circle bigger. Eventually, those in my circle know I care about them. And by remaining connected in any way we can—we seek to provoke love into such a way that it claws its way to the top of our psyche. We choose to make love a priority in our lives, instead of allowing for other things to clutter its path in much the same way as you and I have connected here—by design, and with intention, purpose, and hope for the future. We can do this.

If you are about to be married – stay the course – with love as the central theme for your life. Defend it vigorously. Be irrationally hopeless in its possibilities for us all. I’m approaching 40 years together on a crazy love journey with my wife. Some of the moments we’ve shared have been incredibly difficult challenges. Other moments— our greatest joys. But we’ve experienced life’s highs and lows together, and so far, love has prevailed. Love means, “I even slept on the couch every once in a while.” But we sorted it out.

In our vows, we promised to love each other “in prosperity, and in adversity”—and through that commitment, God has blessed us. It’s worked out pretty well. Challenges and disappointments sometimes attack without warning, but together, you can battle them, and eventually prevail.

Tom Wilbur is President/CEO of BANK VI, Salina, Kansas— a bank he helped found. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas, and has authored many pieces on family, faith, community, business and leadership, and is a regular public speaker. He values nothing more in life, than a hug from his daughter, his son, or his wife. You can reach him at rockchalktw@hotmail.com

 

Nice Boys Finish Last

I was inspired by Guilty, who was inspired by RedFrame, to get deep today about my past relationships.

In my ‘past life’, I used to be the type of girl who loved the “bad boys”. I loved me a brooding, miserable male with a boatload of luggage which I could spend months-to-years trying to help him unload. Even if he didn’t want to. And they never do. Trust me. From addicts to assholes – their M.O. was always the same. And I, a glutton for punishment, patiently loved them through it, or so I thought.

I spent roughly 10 years of my life confused. Why was love so miserable? Why didn’t I feel that soaring, glowing happiness that was equated with love in all public forums? When was it going to be my turn to be taken care of? Why was this all so exhausting?

Then I met Hunter. And I was converted. (Cue soaring love music)

I realize now that I never truly experienced romantic love before.

But, it took some time to forgive myself for being a doormat, a mother, a therapist and everything but a healthy girlfriend. It took even more time to forgive those boyfriends for…. oh you know, being terrible boyfriends. But in the end, I was responsible for allowing it to go on – so ultimately I have to own up to myself in this case.

But seriously girls, don’t date the bad boy. He WANTS to be miserable. Moreover, he wants YOU to be miserable because he is. And if you let him, he will do anything to make sure that you are. Its never too late to do better.

And when you find the good guy – don’t let go. And seriously, DON’T get annoyed with him for being too nice. That’s just silly.