Play Your Part

Mark and I recently decided to change churches. This was a hard decision because the church we left has been amazing in a million different ways ESPECIALLY with our children. Oh my goodness did those people love our babies. But we needed to trust God,  make some changes, walk in faith, etc.

So we start going to this new church, and since it was Mark that felt led to go to this new church I was under the impression he would be responsible for gathering the troops on Sunday morning. Well, the first Sunday we decide to go to church he says never mind. We’ll just stay home and watch it on tv.

I wasn’t particularly disappointed with this decision (mama loves any reason to not get kids dressed before 9 A.M.), but I was a little annoyed. We had a Sunday morning routine that included church and enough ‘off days’ and we’d be back where we started with the tantrums and resistance.

So here we were. Mark had made a decision about where we were going on Sundays and seemed to be backing out. I was annoyed that we might fall out of a routine we’d worked really hard to build. During our back and forth Mark commented that I wasn’t helping him with this change.

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Um. You said we weren’t going today. I was all ready to go, but if you leader of the free world our home weren’t going I was certainly wasn’t going to exert the energy required to wrangle these hellions.

We argued for a minute about whose fault it was that we weren’t in church when all of a sudden something clicked for me. Mark wasn’t saying missing church was my fault, he was saying he needed me to be the cheerleader during this transition to a new church.

I am naturally optimistic. I can’t even help it. And we were doing something different, strange, and new that even though Mark initiated this change didn’t mean he wasn’t scared or hesitant. And he needed me to bring my Care Bear power to the table. I had to bring my special skills out to play. He needed me.

Much like I need him when my kid acts crazy. I’m the nice mom that says yes 99% of the time because I know that I can call on Mark to bring the law. He is amazing at bringing order to our home. I depend on him for that. And right now, during this season of building a new Sunday morning routine, he needs to depend on me to bring a smile and some encouragement that his family is walking with him. I’m excited to play that role.

How To Build A Stronger Bond With Your Spouse

Awhile ago we made a podcast about hobbies our husbands had (because Marie and I discovered we had absolutely no hobbies.) But in that podcast, I shared stories about me trying to get in on all the fun Shawn was having without me when he was mountain biking. This resulted in lots of wrecking and a few bruises, but I had fun.

So this past weekend, I decided to try my hand at woodworking. Now, we aren’t doing anything major (and I highly doubt you can even call this woodworking) but he cut pieces of wood so we could create some home decor. And I didn’t just sit inside and wait for him to get done! I watched, I sanded the edges, and I helped him paint and stain it all. It really was a feat for me because I usually hate being a bystander in activities or having to do “piddly” jobs.

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But doing this project with Shawn really did mean a lot to me. Since he has been traveling most weeks, we usually don’t have much time to do little projects like this for his limited time home. We talk about them all the time– we should make a bed frame! Or let’s go thrifting or antiquing. But most of those ideas fall dead soon after we make them because we literally don’t have time to do them when Shawn is only home for 48 hours (give or take).

But this past week, he was able to stay home! He didn’t have to leave at 5am on Monday, I got to wake up to my mans for an entire week straight. I was excited. And I was even more excited when he decided that we’d start on one of <s>our</s> my fun DIY project ideas that I found on Etsy.

So we did it. And I had so much fun.

Like I said, I didn’t do much– I mostly watched him and asked for minor changes so my wallart-of-my-dreams could become reality, but that’s not the point. We were doing a little activity that made us slow down, take time to be with one another, and work as a team.

Shawn was able to be in his “element” and I was able to help. It might sound cheesy, but I really felt like I bonded with him. Even little goals and projects like this make me remember that we’re on the same team. They remind me that everything in our lives, everything we want to accomplish or create will always be better as a team effort.

We compliment one another, we bring different strengths to each project. And whether we’re working on the real estate business or putting together an Ikea chair, we’re always better doing it together.

I definitely think it strengthens our marriage to work on little projects like these together. We’re actively setting goals as a couple, and making sure that we’re communicating what the final project looks like to us– because you have to make sure all parties are on board when doing anything as a team.

So we definitely encourage couples to take the time to come up with little feats you’d like to accomplish together. Sometimes it’s as simple as doing laundry together or as scary as learning a new skill or hobby that neither of you have any experience with. Either way, it solidifies that bond between the two of you and can teach you trust, communication, and how to have fun again!

 

A Long Distance Marriage

When Shawn was interviewing for the job he has currently, they told him that it would include traveling. As an (almost) newlywed, he made it known that he didn’t want to constantly be on the road going from installation from installation at the drop of a hat. They agreed that he shouldn’t, and wouldn’t go through that– especially since he had a really awesome wife he didn’t want to be away from he was going to be newly married and in a new state.

They said they understood that marriage is important, especially in the beginning years. They’re formative and can really set the tone of the marriage. And our tone wasn’t going to be Lonely Melissa, that was for sure.

So they agreed to 20-30% travel out of a year and both sides were happy.

In the few short months Shawn has already been at this company, he saw a very regular trend among the other men in his department doing installs like him. Almost everyone was single.

And not just single, but divorced.

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He quickly learned that this wasn’t some weird coincidence among the project engineer group– the traveling had taken a toll on their marriages. It became easier to ignore their problems. Wives looked for love and affection elsewhere because their jet-lagged husbands felt like they  had none to give. Husbands let themselves go– becoming consumed with work. Communication was hard, phone calls were short, and everyone felt like they were getting the short end of the stick.

Shawn saw it deteriorate marriages and he was even more adamant that we wouldn’t go through that. He didn’t agree to it and he would make sure our connection and intimacy wasn’t put on the back burner for some job.

“Nothing is more important to me than this marriage.”

So every time traveling was brought up, he was the first one to remind his managers that he was hired for 20-30% travel. His direct boss even made a point to have a meeting with Shawn to calm his nerves, if you will. He made Shawn felt heard and respected; even reassured him that the 20-30% travel was still the deal.

He came home from work that day happy and reassured– and honestly, so was I. I was calmer and felt safe. I wasn’t going to have my husband stripped away for months at a time, we weren’t going to end up like the other couples. We were different!

My husband wasn’t going to be out on the road 80% of the year like the rest of them. Maybe it was because his great uncle owned the place or maybe it was really because they respected our newlywed-ness, who knows. Either way, though, I was happy because my only friend in the entire state wasn’t going to be leaving for weeks at a time.

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But within days he saw his projected traveling schedule for the rest of 2018, and I honestly thought there had to have  been a typo. They must have confused him with another Shawn because there’s no way they could promise to keep their promise of 20-30% travel with this schedule.

Starting March 26th, he was going to be gone for two months in New Hampshire.

Then, after about a month break, he’d head to China for another two months. And after another break, Japan for a few months. Then back to China. And I think a few weeks in New York were sprinkled in, too.

“I’m sorry, but for a bunch of engineers, they sure are sh*tty at math.” 

Now, when he travels domestic, he’s able to come home on the weekends. His traveling schedule looks like:

Leave Monday @ 5am and come back Friday at either 10am or 12pm. It’s not that bad when he’s still in the States. But international travel? Yeah, there aren’t any weekend privileges or “marital” visits, if you catch my drift.

(Disclaimer: And before anyone says it, we know we don’t have it that bad. We know that military families have it much worse– you have no idea if your spouse is alive sometimes. That’s hard and you’re stronger than I’ll ever be, but please do not diminish someone else’s pain because someone is going through something worse. Now that that’s done with.)

Doing long distance isn’t fun, and it’s especially not fun when you’re in a new city without friends. It”s especially not fun when you’re living in a hotel room, away from your family. It’s definitely not fun when you were promised something different.

And it’s really not fun to watch your husband break down, look at you with tears in his eyes, and admit that he’s scared that we’ll end up like everyone else. Scared that we’ll fall out of love, we’ll lose our connection, or everything will just fall to pieces. But I keep telling him we won’t, that we’re better than that.

I remind him, and myself, that we know what we have to do to make it work.

And now that we’re two weeks into our first two-month-install, I’ve noticed that that wasn’t far from the truth– we really are different. And maybe it’s because we are newlyweds, or we’re young, or we’re just unnaturally needy. Either way, we noticed that the other men, married or not, would pick on Shawn for calling me as soon as he could after a day installing. He’d FaceTime me before dinner if he had a chance, we’d FaceTime in the morning before breakfast if I woke up early enough. Throughout the day, we were always texting, calling on lunch if possible.

Even if we knew the call would only last for a few minutes, we still hopped on just to say hi. Just to hear him laugh, say I love you, and know he’s okay.

The other guys, though, teased him about it, and to my luck, Shawn was unphased.

“You’re making fun of me because I miss my wife? I think the joke’s on you, bud.” 

It didn’t stop him from calling and texting, and I honestly never felt more loved. He made sure time was still made for me, even when he had every excuse in the book to ignore my call.

And now, when I see him on the weekends, he is even more intentional about making sure we have quality time. He’s sure to fill my love plant, watering it with all the morning cuddles, random Hobby Lobby dates, and lunch with just the two of us.

And I make sure to scatter love notes throughout his luggage and backpack so he can find them throughout the week while he’s away.

We’re better now, more than ever, at making sure these love plants are fed because we understand that those marriages didn’t end because of travel, busy jobs, or demanding lifestyles. They ended because they made excuses for themselves– they let someone else take care of their spouse’s love plant.

And I’m not letting that happen to us and I know Shawn is with me on that.

This whole thing has me truly living for Fridays now. 

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Stay-At-Home-Spouse

When I was little, my mom and dad were always working. My grandma basically took care of me all-day, everyday, and that was my normal. Growing up, I always believed that both parents needed to be working. I mean, that’s just what they did. Moms didn’t stay at home anymore– they were out there working! I understood that in most families, they couldn’t get by on just one income. Everyone had to pull their weight, so getting a job was how you did that. And people that were able to be stay-at-home-moms were lucky. They could afford for her to be at home, taking care of the kids and the household. That was some 1%-er sh*t if I had ever seen it. It was also something that I’d never be able to be because, well, I’m always going to be middle class (that mindset has changed drastically since getting married to Shawn and getting on the same page).

Anyway. So once I got into college, I pretty much always had a job. I was paying my own bills and rent for the most part. There’s only so much you can afford with a part-time retail job, sadly. But, in my own head, I was pretty self-sufficient! I juggled school, work, and sorority life; I was an Adult™. Hell, one year I actually owed money on my taxes instead of getting money back! (I’m still not convinced that was bad accounting on my dad’s part, but that’s neither here nor there.)

And things didn’t change much once Shawn and I got engaged and were living in Michigan. I was in law school, so the amount of hours I could really work was cut in half– but I still had a job! All my money made from that paid for my gas to get to-and-from school, parking (when I was too tired to walk), and random lunches with friends. I wasn’t totally dependent on Shawn for money, and that’s what mattered! I still had “my purpose,” aka school. I wasn’t a bum, even though he was paying our mortgage, bills, and groceries. I was in school. Law school! Honestly, what more could he want from me?

But then we moved to Georgia and my spot in this dynamic has shifted. And I didn’t like it.

When we moved, it was in an awkward time, so I couldn’t get into a law school here. When we moved, we decided that we were going to take our real estate business seriously.
When we moved, I didn’t have a plan for myself.
When we moved… I was scared.
I didn’t feel like I had a purpose.
I didn’t feel like I brought anything to the proverbial table.

So what did I do? I tried to get a job! And oh, did I try. I spent days looking for any job on Indeed, Craigslist, and LinkedIn. I applied at Home Depot, Kroger, WalMart, and at every restaurant within a 5 mile radius. No job was too “lowly” for me.  But I was greeted with silence or disinterest. I’m not sure that there’s a word that can describe my mix of shock and devastation, but if there is please let me know. But yeah, that’s what I felt. I was confused– I mean, I had a great resume! I’m a team-player, personable, and motivated… and also desperate for any minimum-wage job in order to bide my time until law school kicks back up again. I needed a job or a school schedule or anything to feel like I was contributing to my team. It felt like I was sitting on the sidelines while Shawn did all the work, and he even pointed it out a few times (ouch– what a douche.)

But we both quickly realized that with my newfound time on my hands, I was able to channel a full-time work-week into wholesaling (and The Sister Wives Podcast… but mostly wholesaling), and things started to look up for me. And us.

But, that still isn’t the point I’m trying to make. Regardless of having wholesaling or a blog/podcast with my awesome big sister, my self-worth didn’t rely on those things. It also doesn’t rely on having a job that brings in peanuts, textbooks that could break my back, or a small business we’re getting off the ground. My worth (and yours) doesn’t come at a per-hour value. We all bring something to the table. We all have something to offer, even if it brings in income or not.

Without me staying at home, Shawn and I wouldn’t have nearly enough time to cook lunch and dinner every day. We wouldn’t be able to see one another as much as we do. We wouldn’t have clean and folded clothes in a timely manner. Our apartment wouldn’t be half as clean. Tater wouldn’t get loved on and exercised every single day. Our vehicles would go months overdue for oil changes without someone being on-top of it and available to make the appointments. Unnoticed things that help your household run like a well-oiled machine are probably chugging along because of you: a stay-at-home-spouse/wife/dad/person.

So if you don’t hear it enough– thank you. Your value to your team is immeasurable.   

 

Suwanee, GA SculpTour and Sip and Swine

Today Shawn and I went to check-out the #sculptour in Suwanee Town Center Park. Luckily, it was one of the first weekends in awhile that A) we have both been in town B) it hasn’t been raining or C) we weren’t already busy running errands and playing catch-up with work. So we spent the entire day spending time together, making videos for the wholesaling business, and for this website!

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So the SculpTour was definitely my jam. I love art, no matter the medium, and I was really excited to see that my community was supporting local artists and letting them put their pieces on display. It seems like art is always getting taken out of schools or losing funding as some sort of secondary, unimportant class. I hate that that’s the mindset that many people have adopted, but I have hope that communities like Suwanee will keep it alive and well. We saw tons of beautiful, creative, and touching pieces. And we also got to experience them with tons of other families!

There were so many people out and about, snapping pictures, and playing soccer in the park today. This isn’t the kind of stuff that you see as often anymore, and I’m pumped that families are pouring back into a community that wants to help them grow and give them a safe place.

And after we had our fill of art, we headed over to the Sip and Swine BBQ Festival. We didn’t get there in time to actually purchase the Taster Kit, which let you taste test the BBQ from 10 of the competing booths, but we did get a change to walk around, watch people line-dance, and pet LOTS of cute doggos and puppers. That was probably the highlight of my day, to be honest.

The smells were mouthwatering enough, you literally couldn’t get away from them. And everywhere you looked, there was another tent offering BBQ, something that was deep-fried, or some home-brewed beer. It was heaven. Or gluttony. Whatever. We didn’t get a chance to take pictures because our hands were too full with goodies and puppies, so you can just imagine the perfection for yourself. Or check-out their websites, they had pictures (for all of those people who can’t imagine things in your mind’s-eye.)

Anyway! Today was SUPER fun. And I’m so glad that Shawn and I had a chance to experience our community even more. There’s nothing better than taking the opportunity to explore what your own neighborhood has to offer, especially when it’s 70 degrees and sunny!

Marriage Boredom

Today is January 29th, 2018, and today is my husband’s birthday today. Shawn and I have been married for a little over 3 months now, so I can safely say that I’m still in the rose-colored glasses phases. Like, even when he’s pooping with the door open I still think he’s the cat’s meow. I love him. I still gush about him to my mom and I follow him around everywhere. He’s my favorite person in the entire world. Seriously.

But, last night, something happened that made me realize that this really fun and loving feeling doesn’t last forever. Not naturally.

We went out to eat for Shawn’s birthday with his family living in Alpharetta, GA last night. It was a really fancy steak-house in the middle of Avalon, the high-end shopping center. Oaks Steakhouse was magical. It has a beautiful interior, with a very woodsman-feeling to it. It just smelled expensive in there, and I hadn’t even looked at the menu yet.

Once we were all seated, I saw that each steak was around (or above) $60. This was literally the fanciest place I had ever been in my entire life, I didn’t know what we had done to deserve this. But I was excited and seriously so grateful that Uncle John was footing the bill.

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Everything about Oaks Steakhouse was perfect. The servers were really kind, the beer was delicious, and the food… There aren’t enough words to describe how great the food was. Once I started to eat, I was just obsessed. I didn’t pay attention to the conversation around me. I mean, I barely even said two words to Shawn at that point. I was enthralled. It was legitimately the best food I had ever tasted in my entire life. I really think that I’ll talk about this restaurant to everyone I meet if they ever ask me for a recommendation for a special event. On the way home, Shawn and I left G+ reviews. I mean it when I say we are obsessed.

However, while I’m sitting there having my mind blown by the perfect of their brussle sprouts, another family comes in and sits close to us. It’s a mom, dad, daughter, and son. Nothing terribly special. The son, however, is wearing a hoodie and blue jeans. Shawn and I aren’t ones to usually dress up for things. If he could, he would’ve worn gym-shorts and Chacos to this restaurant if he could. But he didn’t, and I thank him for that.

But, back to this kid. He’s wearing a hoodie and jeans and has headphones in pretty much the entire time. He barely interacts with his family and he only takes one headphone out to order his food and then immediately goes back to whatever it was he was doing. And when he finally got his food out, it didn’t seem like he was having the same magical moment that I was having just minutes ago. He ate it like it was a normal meal. I didn’t see him mouth “wow” once. Not. Even. Once. I was astonished.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an attack on Millenials and their use + abuse of technology. I’m not ragging on this kid because he obviously has no people-skills. Literally, I don’t care about any of that (that was all of us when we were 15– attitude + sas.) The reason that I bring this kid up is because it made me have this weird revelation.

Our experiences at this same restaurant with (almost) the same meal were drastically different. And, somehow, this made me think of marriage.

When you first become married or first start to date, we all know what happens– you get swept up in the honeymoon-phase. It’s fun, loving, and new. It’s always rainbows and butterflies; it seems like you’re just floating through life as a princess (or prince). We all know that feeling. It’s a lot like my experience with Oaks Steakhouse.

I was love-struck. I would swear up and down that there is not a better restaurant in the entire city state. And I mean it. I couldn’t focus on anything else but that food. The rest of the world melted away and I focused, almost entirely, on the feeling this food gave me. I was obsessed.

And this kid, a table away, was eating it like he was at O’Charley’s and it wasn’t even free-pie-Wednesday. He was kinda like the post-honeymoon phase. When you get into the rhythm of life and you’re not as impressed with them as you once were. It’s not longer charming that “your bond is so strong” that he will poop in the same bathroom that you’re showering in. His hot-headed nature won’t be seen as passion anymore. The onion is peeled back, layer by layer and you see it all. And now Oaks Steakhouse isn’t this magical experience anymore. You’re not salivating at the thought of it and you’re really not that impressed with their broccoli. It was kinda salty. Honestly, you’re bored.

What I’m trying to say is that sometimes your marriage isn’t this boring, run-of-the-mill relationship that you’re portraying in your mind. Maybe you’ve just become used to the 5-star restaurant and you’re finding yourself unimpressed because you’ve noticed what goes on behind the scenes. You’ve been there so many times that you know that the third booth along the wall has a small rip in it and they still haven’t replaced it. You noticed the mismatched silverware (gasp!) and today there was a chip on your waiter’s shoulder.

Being in any long-term relationship is bound to bring this out in us. We’re no longer searching for the best in our marriages. We aren’t obsessed with one another. We think that this spark is gone and fail to realize that the only thing that has changed is the way you’re looking at the relationship.

So I really do encourage everyone to take a step back and look at your spouse as if it were the first time. Put more enthusiasm into your relationship and slow down and enjoy the moment you’re in and who you’re with. Like many (smarter + more experienced) people before me have said: love is a choice.

I’m Fine

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That’s one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves and our spouses. And a lie is a lie, no matter how small.

And big lies, like cheating or hiding debt, aren’t the only way to destroy trust in a relationship. A ‘little’ lie about being fine when you aren’t may take longer, but it is just as devastating to a relationship over time.

I took time to think about why I said I was fine when I wasn’t. I lied because it felt safer. I lied because I didn’t always believe Mark would care that I was hurting or mad.

I don’t tell Mark I’m fine when I’m not anymore. I tell him I’m frustrated or annoyed or disappointed or really sad. He doesn’t always like to hear those things, but he appreciates being told the truth upfront instead of getting hit with it out of nowhere a couple of hours later.

Figure out why you hide behind ‘fine’ and then commit to being honest and taking care of the trust that glues you together.