"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, October 20, 2017

Togetherness {day 20}

One of my favorite books about marriage (that I didn’t read until last year) is A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. I don’t want to ruin my favorite part for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but there was another part that has stuck with me. (If you do read it, be warned that it starts off slow. But power through and it’ll be worth it!)

Sheldon and his wife talked about what they thought was the problem of failed love. They thought the answer was “creeping separateness” - doing things on your own, having your own interests. Instead of doing everything together, you gradually end up doing more things on your own. While adultery or boredom or something else might happen, Sheldon and his wife came to the conclusion that it was first caused by “the creeping separateness: the failure behind the failure” (page 37).

Gosh, I can totally see that. It's so easy to get caught up in our own hobbies, where one spouse is reading a book and and the other is watching random videos, or one spouse is exercising while the other is crafting it up. All of that is fine, as long as you’re doing things together too. But I know how easy it is to let a day or two go by and realize we haven't done much with our spouse. Complicated work schedules and needy children can make couple time seem nearly impossible sometimes.

When Logan and I were dating early on in our relationship, I thought it was so strange how much he liked watching NASCAR races. I mean, all they do is drive around in circles. What’s the fun in that? I would watch the races with him (out of a sense of obligation) but not really enjoy it.

But that was several years ago. Although he doesn’t watch every single race anymore, there was a time where I actually liked watching NASCAR with him. Turns out it’s a lot more than guys just driving around. Logan had his favorite driver, and I picked a favorite too, so it was fun having “my driver” beat his. (I liked Carl Edwards and Logan has always been a big fan of Dale Earnhardt, Jr….in case you were curious.)

My sport growing up was soccer. Logan actually played for a couple years in elementary school, but other than, he didn’t really care about soccer - until we started dating. I played for our high school, and I still remember Logan coming to the games, sometimes with a big sign cheering me on. He also has grown to love watching professional soccer games on television, and even surprised me with tickets to see the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team when they played in New Orleans a couple years ago.

So yes, we very much still have our own hobbies - I love to read and write and he definitely does not, and he lifts weights and works out while I definitely do not. After the kids are in bed, I’m perfectly content staying inside reading a book while he works out. And he’s perfectly content watching TV while I blog.

But we both love watching football together every week (and playing Fantasy Football, holler!), and we both like to run. Because we like hanging out together, we’ve also grown to love each other’s hobbies too.

It does take some awareness to notice that “creeping separateness,” but perhaps that’s the perfect time to take more interest in one of your spouse’s hobbies or to even start a new one together.
We ran a couple of 5Ks together earlier this year! Logan is great at cheering me on when I want to stop. 😊

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The best surprise ever {day 19}

While our initial adjustment from two to three kids wasn’t too bad, I struggled once our third baby, Aaron, was three months old. He stopped sleeping well, our other boys kind of went crazy, I couldn’t keep up with housework despite taking a break from the Internet, and I just didn’t know what God was trying to teach me throughout it all.

One weekend when Aaron was five months old, I had pretty much the hardest weekend with the kids since becoming a family of five. Logan was at work all weekend, of course, and when he got home, he could tell I needed a break.

Thankfully, we just so happened to be taking care of my cousin’s dog at the time while they were out of town. Normally, Logan would drive to their house (10-15 minutes away) to feed the dog and let her back inside for the night. But this particular night, he told me to go so I could get out of the house for a bit.

It was much needed. When I returned, our two older boys were in bed, and Logan told me to take off my pullover (it was actually cold for once in Louisiana). So I did. Then he told me to take off my shirt. I rolled my eyes but Logan insisted, “Just trust me!” So I took off my shirt. He continued to ask me to take off another article of clothing, and then another, and I really had no clue what he was getting at - especially because he was holding our wide-awake baby and I knew it wasn’t like we were about to get it on or anything. Yet he kept insisting that I trust him. Normally I would totally resist Logan’s weird shenanigans like that but I think I was too tired to care at that point. It had been a really rough weekend. Heck, it had been a rough couple of months.

Once I was completely naked in our living room (why yes, he continued to ask me to take off one article of clothing after another until none were left), Logan led me to the guest bathroom, opened the door, and said, “Go have a moment to yourself.” I looked inside and saw the bath tub full of piping hot water, surrounded by lit candles, and there was a glass of wine propped up on the side.

It was a little piece of Heaven, I tell you. Logan has certainly done his fair share of awesome surprises, but this one ranks up at the top because it was exactly what I needed at that time. I think a lot of time he feels almost at a loss for what to do when he sees me struggling, but this time he totally nailed it - even though I’m not a big fan of baths. Once I made myself comfortable in the hot water, took a sip of wine, and opened my Kindle Paperwhite, I thought, Why have I never done this before?

Unfortunately, the blissful bath didn’t even last ten minutes because our baby wouldn’t stop screaming for me. Hashtag real life. Logan even tried to walk outside with him so I wouldn’t hear, but a momma can hear her baby’s cries anywhere. So after I realized my baby was not calming down at all, I reluctantly got out to go rescue Logan. He was upset, naturally, since he wanted me to be able to enjoy the bath. But like I told him, it really was the effort that counted. In my mind, he earned a million brownie points - which is exactly why I let him take advantage of the still-hot water while I nursed our baby to sleep.

Somehow Logan manages to surprise me with exactly what I need, and sometimes it’s something I didn’t even realize I needed! I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a bath in my adult life, and most of those were when I was pregnant and on bedrest. But thanks to his awesome surprise, I now know that a hot bath and silence is exactly what I need sometimes. The candles and wine are just a bonus.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The sneaky one {day 18}

There are several things that have surprised me about marriage, but one of the biggest is how much the devil wants to ruin everything. Sometimes it’s easy to notice when he’s attacking our marriage, but more often than not, he’s so, so sneaky about it.

The first time I was bombarded by evil thoughts was on our honeymoon, which I already shared about earlier this month. A couple years ago, though, I experienced for the first time an intense battle in my head between good and evil. Logan and I had been doing well, and we were enjoying our boys - Landon was 2.5 years old and Chase was 9 months old.

I had just had an extremely frustrating night, though (while Logan had a fun night with friends), and we were trying to talk things out. Even though I really wanted to just go to bed and forget about it, I was going out of town the next morning with the boys and wouldn’t see Logan for a few days. So, we needed to make things right.

As Logan and I talked, I knew the devil was trying to get me to hold onto my anger towards Logan and blame him for my terrible night. It was ridiculous, really.

And then there was God, prompting me to let go of my pride and talk to Logan honesty - and fairly. There was nothing wrong with me being frustrated but Logan definitely did not deserve to be the bad guy.

Thankfully, God sent me some extra graces, and I admitted to Logan how I shouldn’t blame him and that my anger overwhelms me sometimes. The Holy Spirit took over just then, as Logan brought to light the fact that the devil was trying to ruin the good life we had going. He was right.

I knew we defeated evil in that moment, because it felt like it left the room as soon as we made things right. It sounds crazy, but I definitely felt the triumph of good over evil that night.

Sometimes life isn’t like that though. Since I’m sure the devil hates the fact that I’m blogging about marriage all month, plus the fact that we’re doing well right now, Logan and I have felt under attack more than usual these past few weeks. Last week, I was having the most frustrating day in awhile - I had to cancel my prayer group for the second week in a row, my oven wasn’t working, our entire house smelled like gas so I thought the oven had a leak (it didn’t, thankfully, just a broken part), our baby was especially fussy because of a yucky cough, the dog barked and woke up fussy baby after a much-too-short nap, and well, you get the idea.

Even though all of those things weren’t anything major, there was one moment where I felt utterly despondent and it took a lot to not just burst into tears. A few minutes later, Logan texted me from work, where apparently he was having a frustrating day also and said he was feeling depressed.

Warning bells went off in my head. Logan and I were both feeling hopeless, for completely different reasons. I knew the devil was working overtime.

I texted Logan back saying I thought we should go to confession, which thankfully was being offered at our church later that day. We were able to both receive the Sacrament, and I honestly thought all would be well after that.

Not so. Logan and I were both struggling with things for the rest of the evening, our kids were being crazy, and it almost felt like we hadn’t even gone to confession. While it was tempting to fall back into despair again (darn you, melancholic temperament!), I knew it was exactly what the devil wanted us to do.

So we powered through the night and had a fresh perspective on life when we woke up the next morning.

It’s not always easy to know when your marriage is being attacked, but it’s important that we’re aware of the fact that the devil wants to tear marriages apart. Sometimes he does it when we we’re at our weakest, but other times he does it when we’re at our strongest - when we think that there’s no possible way he could hurt us.

The devil is a sneaky one. He wants us to let down our guard. He wants us to let him sow seeds of bitterness, resentment, and despair into our hearts and into our marriage - without us even realizing.

That’s why it’s important to stay united to God through prayer and the sacraments, so you can stay united to your spouse when you’re under attack.

St. Michael, defend us in battle!
I got this at Edel from Santa Clara Design Print Shop. It seemed appropriate. 😉

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Come at me, life {day 17}

Sometimes life makes it nearly impossible to focus on your marriage. Jobs, children, other responsibilities - there are a million and one reasons I can think of that prevent me from making my husband a priority.

But I also know that when I do make the extra effort to keep Logan a top priority, those are the times that I feel like I could conquer anything. Everything in our house could be breaking, our children could be losing their ever-loving minds, and our checking account could be, well, pitiful. If Logan and I are thriving as a married couple though? All of that other stuff feels so trivial.

When Logan and I are struggling, though, life feels so differently. We could actually be doing well financially, our kids are being cooperative, and in general, life is just pretty good. But I have a hard time noticing all of those good things when my marriage is in a rut.

Can you relate? I hope so.

One of my good friends seems to be one of those people that when it rains, it pours. If something crazy is going to happen, it’s going to happen to her. But she always seems to handle it so well, and I think a big part of that is because her marriage is solid. It’s inspiring, really.

I have to admit, Logan and I are in a sweet spot right now (which is probably a big reason why I have the guts - and have been given the grace - to write about marriage this month). We’ve been working together really well lately and are really enjoying each other’s company. It’s definitely not always the case, but I can appreciate these good times that much more because we’ve totally had our share of disillusionment in marriage.

I also know that we’re in a good groove right now because we’re both putting forth more effort into our relationship than usual - despite life trying to get us to do otherwise. Life is certainly not perfect, by any means. So that means it has taken some creativity to keep our marriage a priority, especially with Logan’s unusual work schedule, our baby who doesn’t like to sleep, our limited budget, and my ridiculous Creighton chart (keeping it real, you guys). But like I keep saying - it’s totally worth the effort.

Lately, when Logan is not at work in the evening and as soon as our family finishes up dinner (and its subsequent dance party in the kitchen, holler), one of us tackles the dishes and kitchen clean-up while the other helps the kids bathe and/or get ready for bed. Usually Logan handles the kids while I do the dishes, but sometimes he prefers the dishes so we switch up. Whatever we need to do to make it happen!

By the time we both finish our respective duties, we have a couple hours to hang out, just the two of us. Of course, sometimes (okay, a lot of times lately), a certain one-year old is still awake, but even then we’re still able to have quality adult conversation.

It’s hard to figure out how exactly to work together in any given situation (and decide who prefers which responsibilities), but once we do, it proves that working together in all aspects of life is the best thing for both our marriage and our family.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Embrace the weirdness {day 16}

One day - in the not so distant past - I walked into our kitchen to Logan dressed in all white, dancing with a broom. He was imitating Mr. Clean.

I’ve lost count of how many times Logan - when we’re out in public - gets down on one knee and acts like he’s about to propose. Again. Just to embarrass me.

Nothing shocks me anymore, I tell you. That’s life with Logan. There are many adjectives I could use to describe him, but maybe I should just go with “unique”. Sometimes it’s a little annoying that he sometimes acts, um, childish, but a lot of times it’s hilarious. I’ve learned to embrace the weirdness.

I’ve blogged about how he (very willingly) picked out my clothes for a week and found a cute dress on our Goodwill date. He probably cares more about my wardrobe than I do, but I suppose that’s a good thing, because I certainly need help in the fashion department.

More recently, Logan became determined to learn how to braid. I’m not sure why really, as our kids are all boys, and I hadn’t worn my hair in a braid since I was a kid. And Logan wasn’t even satisfied with learning how to do a simple braid - he wanted to learn how to French braid. Go big or go home, I guess.

It took him a few days of practicing, but I’m proud to report that Logan has mastered the French braid. I have no idea how to do it, and I don’t really care to learn. We don’t have any girls yet, but we do have two nieces, which turns out to be one of the reasons Logan wanted to learn. And if we ever did have any girls, Logan would most definitely be in charge of fixing their hair.

I just need to point out that as I was sitting at the table writing this section, Logan started braiding my hair (and he had no idea what I was writing about).

Since a lot of times we’re unaware of what other people find weird about us, I asked Logan what he thought my quirks were. Most of them I already knew he found annoying - flossing my teeth, using cruise control while driving all of the time, following the rules. (Apparently, he has a problem with me doing things THE RIGHT WAY. Whatevs. I still love him.) But one I really didn’t even realize I was doing half of the time - sniffing my hair. Yes, that sounds weird, and yes, Logan could have probably been a little nicer when he pointed it out to me, but now I realize every time I do it and inwardly groan because man, Logan was right.

Everyone has their quirks, though. It’s easy to let those quirks become annoyances which become major roadblocks in a relationship. I know it’s our job to get each other to Heaven, and it’s certainly our obligation to gently point out certain behaviors that might be sinful.

But a lot of things are pretty insignificant in the big picture. So pick your battles and embrace the weirdness.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Being vulnerable {day 15}

I can’t help but think how the times Logan and I feel closest are the times we’re really open with each other - about our struggles, our sins, or whatever is on our hearts.

It’s hard to talk about what’s going on inside you, especially depending on your temperament, because sometimes you can’t even explain your crazy thoughts. It’s even harder not knowing how the other person will react. And it’s even harder when you know that whatever is on your heart might hurt or upset your spouse.

But I think it’s harder keeping all of that to yourself. It’s hard to live with someone and not share everything with them. It’s hard to grow closer to someone when you’re keeping things to yourself.

Being vulnerable with your spouse is how you grow closer to each other.

Maybe you’re married to someone who has gotten some major walls built up, and you’ve tried everything to break down those walls. Maybe you’re desperate to know how your spouse is really feeling or what’s going on in his mind, but he just can’t bring himself to open up to you. Or maybe your spouse is an open book and I’m actually describing you.

Well, I’m definitely not a psychologist and I’m certainly not an expert, but either way, I think that sometimes you have to put yourself out there if you want someone to do the same. One spouse has to share first, and the hope is that the other one will reciprocate. But it has to start somewhere.

Perhaps you also just need to let your beloved know that you’re there for them, no matter what, and that whenever they’re ready to share his/her heart, you’re ready to listen.

I know some people automatically try to offer a solution to someone’s problem. You know what I mean…they feel an overwhelming sense to fix everything. I suppose we’re all guilty of that at some point. But sometimes - I daresay a lot of times - people don’t necessarily want a solution. They just want someone to listen. To know they have your support.

To love them unfailingly and unreservedly, no matter what.

Whenever Logan shares a struggle with me, sometimes my first instinct is to freak out a little inside, because how the heck did I not know he was feeling that way? Why did he not tell me this before? How long has he been struggling with this and why have I never asked??

But I have to stop myself and remember to not make it about me. Logan is sharing his heart, which is not something that comes easily to everyone (especially men), and I need to make sure Logan knows how appreciative I am of that and that I’m not going to judge him or criticize him.

I just want him to know I love him.

There have been times where I debated about whether or not I should talk to Logan about a particular issue I was struggling with, and sometimes I ended up just praying about it. God would do one of two things: 1) give me the grace to finally talk to Logan, or 2) place the same particular issue on Logan’s heart, who then brought it up with me. (I told you prayer is powerful in a marriage!)

But one thing is always the same - I need to be vulnerable with Logan, and he needs to be vulnerable right back. He can’t read my mind (although sometimes that’s debatable!), so he doesn’t always know what I’m thinking unless I tell him. We’ve had dozens of difficult conversations over the years, but it’s always been a necessary step in understanding each other and getting on the same page. And as time goes on, being vulnerable with each other becomes less awkward and actually is one of my favorite parts of our relationship. I know I can tell him anything, and vice versa. There’s not too much that can shake a relationship where both parties are completely honest and open with each other, in every aspect of life.
On our "Goodwill date" where we each picked an outfit for each other and wore it to dinner afterwards. I was feeling pretty vulnerable 😂

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Just take out the garbage please {day 14}

Even though Logan is great at surprises, he is not good at taking out the garbage. He will have spurts where he kind of stays on top of it, but for the most part, he forgets and/or procrastinates on both emptying the trash cans in the house and bringing the outside trash can to the curb. Plus, he has this pet peeve about putting bigger items (think cereal boxes, empty cartons, etc.) in the garbage can, so he leaves those bigger items on our counter until he empties the garbage can in the kitchen.

Because he tends to procrastinate, what usually ends up happening is our kitchen trash can is overflowing and our counters are covered with bigger trash items - and Logan still waits to take out the garbage. I don’t understand it at all. It is not that hard to empty the trash can or walk a couple items to the outside garbage can. But for some reason, Logan just cannot handle it….which of course I find extremely frustrating.

After years of being resentful about how terrible Logan is at taking out the garbage, though, and learning that nagging him does not help whatsoever, I just take out the garbage myself if I need to.

Some might think that’s enabling Logan’s ridiculousness, and you would be right if I still continued to nag him about it. But instead, I just take out the garbage without telling Logan anything. I consider it more of a sacrifice that I’m doing because I love him. I don’t want to nag him or grow resentful, so I (try to) do it out love. He obviously hates taking out the garbage, and I don’t think it’s a big deal, so just doing it myself is better for both of us.

Let me be clear - I do not always succeed at taking out the garbage out of love for Logan. Sometimes I have to really stifle those resentful thoughts. I have proof in my journals about every year or so that I’ve had to recommit to just taking the garbage out myself instead of nagging Logan about it (and yes, I realize how silly that sounds). But as the years go by, I’m realizing that the more I do small things that I consider a sacrifice, the easier they become.

What’s even better is that Logan tends to notice when I do chores around the house that usually I expect him to do. So when he sees me taking out the garbage, or giving the kids a bath, he turns around and starts washing dishes in appreciation. It’s a win-win.

Logan and I have also realized just how much smoother things go if we work together and part of that is learning which chores one of us prefers over the other.

Since I already explained how Logan isn’t good at taking out the garbage, I should admit that I’m pretty terrible at meal planning. Just like Logan and the garbage, I’ll have spurts where I’m on top of meals and cooking and all is well. And there are other times where I’m just so overwhelmed and realizing at 5pm that I hadn’t even thought about what we will eat for dinner.

So Logan helps me out a lot. He’s usually really good at thinking about something new to eat or something we haven’t had in awhile, or a way to use leftovers. And during the phases of life where it’s really hard for me to spend an hour in the kitchen cooking - I’m looking at you, pregnancy, or whenever I have a ridiculously fussy baby at my feet - having Logan team up with me is a huge help. We often plan our meals for the week together, and usually half of them are meals that Logan is able to start or do completely on his own if needed. It’s actually worked out really well lately, because I’ll be helping Landon with his homework (while holding a fussy baby, ugh) while Logan can start fixing dinner if I haven’t already.

I know some people think that certain responsibilities should be gender-specific - like men should take out the garbage and women should cook - but I think it’s more important to work together that benefits your specific family the best. Obviously, this will look differently for everybody.

Many of my friends' husbands handle their family’s finances. While I would love for Logan to have that responsibility too, it makes the most sense for me to do it because I tend to do better with numbers. Logan said from the beginning, way back when we were engaged, that he really wanted me to handle our finances, and while I used to be really annoyed with that - because gosh, budgeting can be so stressful - now I know that everybody has things they are good at. Those husbands that handle the finances might never ever vacuum or mop floors. Logan, on the other hand, is very good at cleaning our floors and does it when I’m having a hard time making it a priority. (Like, um, when I decide to blog every day for a month.)

The point is, figure out how best you and your spouse work together, and of course involve your kids if they’re old enough. Each marriage and family looks different than the next, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The important thing is to work together and maximize your abilities!

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