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Posts Tagged ‘first year’

 
I’m learning when not to talk to my husband.
He’s learning when not to talk to me.

As I look back on this (almost) first year of marriage, that is one of the lessons I’ve learned.  Truth be told, it’s something I’m still learning.  There are good times to talk to my husband and then there are not-so-good times. 

Early into our marriage, I’d be making dinner and Jeff would ask me questions.  For him, this was a good time to talk.  I’m a captive audience, right?  He can just sit at the table and talk and I can listen.  For me?  Not so much.  It throws me off.  It gets me flustered.  I feel frantic.  I feel anxious.  I don’t prepare dinner well.  I don’t converse well.  I’m not rude or anything; I’m just not paying attention really well.  Maybe I’ve not yet mastered the art of cooking and talking at the same time.  I feel like I’m failing at both cooking and being a wife.  I don’t like that feeling.

So, we’ve learned: If you see me stirring something or putting dishes on the table, that’s not a cue to ask my opinion on our 401(k) investment options.  Much better to wait the 10 minutes til we’re actually seated at dinner.  Then I’m totally ready to listen, think and respond.  I can tell Jeff’s learned this because now he’ll either stay away or he’ll ask “this isn’t a good time, right?”.  Right. 

So…If you really want me to focus on the conversation or be responsive, don’t initiate the conversation when I’m making dinner.  Now, I can talk while washing dishes, but not when trying out a new recipe.

Times not to talk to Jeff:

  • When he’s on the computer
  • Right before bed (if it’s something serious or a decision needs to be made)
  • When we’re driving to Columbus in that first 1/2 hour when traffic is thick
  • When he’s just mentioned how full his schedule is
  • When I’m upset or tired!

Times to talk to Jeff:

  • At dinner
  • When we’re driving to Columbus after the first 1/2 hour.
  • When we’re pulling weeds in the flower beds
  • Any time not listed above

A “trick” that I’ve learned is to let him know that I do have something to talk about, it isn’t major and to ask when he’d like to talk about it.  Usually he wants to know the topic, but then we just schedule it for later when we can both give it the attention it deserves.  I discovered that one while dating him and it’s become even more important.  The “whole pick your time” wasn’t as much of an issue when we were just dating.  When we were just dating, you’re usually focused on each other.  You’re intentionally out of your day-to-day hassles in order to get to know this person.  Sure, there are exceptions to that rule, but it generally held true (for us anyway).

There are good times and bad less-than-good times.  If you’re going to have the conversation, you should pick the right time!

 

Jeff dancing with his (former) roommate Mike at Mike's wedding. Jeff let Mike lead.

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When my kitchen is clean, I’m a better wife.  Same with my bathroom, bedroom and living room.  Ain’t nothing unique about the kitchen.  I don’t mean that’s true in a “you can’t possibly be a good wife if you have a messy home” kind of way.  I mean it in a “Jayme feels much calmer and in control and content when her kitchen is clean” kind of way.  I mean it in a “Jayme feels more successful when she’s seen to her duties.”

I’m not here to tell you that a clean kitchen is the definition of godliness.
I’m not here to tell you that a husband can’t ever clean a kitchen.
I’m not here to tell you that it’s a sin when kitchens are messier than you’d like.

I’m just saying that I’ve learned that MY kitchen is a reflection of how rested I am.  MY kitchen is a reflection of how well I’m meeting MY goals for ME as a wife.  I do believe that it’s my role to be the keeper of my home.  And a clean kitchen is part of that for me.  (Do I love it when Jeff offers to do dinner dishes?  Yes!  Do I let Jeff do the dinner dishes when he offers?  Yes!  But 90% of the time, it’s me.  We’ve set it up that way.)

When I feel that I’m meeting my responsibilities, I feel like I’m being a better wife.  And for me, meeting my responsibilities includes cleaning the kitchen.  This doesn’t mean I take it to an extreme where messy kitchen = bad wife.  Or that I say “Sorry honey, I just gotta ignore you all weekend so that I can clean the bathroom” either.  There is an ebb and flow to life.  I know that.  But I just recognize that I feel better when my oikos is picked up and presentable.  Mom taught me growing up that I don’t get to “play” until my “homework” is done.  Same thing happens as an adult.  I can “play” when my “work” is done.  Part of my work is kitchen work.

So, it’s not that I’m a better wife because my kitchen is clean.  It’s that when I am being a better wife that my kitchen is clean. Feeling like I’m a better wife just gives me more confidence.  So, clean kitchen = better wife = confident wife!

At Harry Potter #7, part 1. At midnight. With the other 12 year olds!

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First year #3: Quick closeness

I’m amazed to find, in this first year of marriage, how comfortable you get with the other person.  I was also amazed to find out how quickly that happens.

Before marriage, you know that this person will be closer to you than anyone.  By the time you say “I Will (marry you!)”, this person has probably become really close to you. 

By the time you say “I Do”, they’re probably your best friend (or is pretty darn close to it!).  They certainly aren’t a stranger to you or a mere acquaintance. 

But there are still things you don’t know about him.  And there are still things you can’t quite imagine talking about.  Things you can only picture telling a MD and only if you’re in an Emergency Room.  Things you only tell God in your most desperate moment.  You know you’ll get there in your relationship someday.  You know you’ll eventually talk about those things, but you also know you aren’t there yet.

It’s amazing how quickly that comfortability happens.  It’s not instantaneous, but close to it.  I can’t tell you why it happens so quickly.  I have some theories that it isn’t any ONE thing, but several things:

A forever mindset.  Once you know that this is F-O-R-E-V-E-R, there’s a huge comfort in this.  A huge security that enables you to get comfortable quickly.  (I wrote about this yesterday.)

Pre-marriage counseling (at least ours) helps you get used to talking about things that are more serious and more personal.

Sharing money.  Even if you have enough, talking about money, sharing money, and executing one budget helps you talk about personal stuff. It also helps you identify your fears and talk about them.  Example: The “I’m afraid that we’re not saving enough” statement leads to a conversation about fears or about goals for the future.

Living together.  Living together exposes you to more of a person.  Little daily details.

Good listening and good talking.  If your partner is a good listener, you’re a long way towards becoming one quickly.  How likely would you be to share with your partner if you shared something really personal with him and he made fun of you?  I’ve been blessed with a great listener for a husband!

Sex.  (Sorry if that’s too much information, but there is something about the physical intimacy in a relationship that helps enable emotional intimacy as well.  And that’s all I got to say about that.)

Marriage was meant to be a oneness relationship, but you don’t get there overnight.  And you’re not supposed to get there before you’re married.  But I’m amazed at how quickly the process starts.  And I’ve only been married a year! 

Jeff making pancakes on a Saturday morning....a tradition of sorts for us

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Someone sent me an email a while back and said “Jayme…I have a friend who is considering moving in with her boyfriend, how would you advise her?” So I sent her my thoughts. 3 pages worth. 1,600 words worth. I had lots of thoughts!

I won’t print them here — sounds like a good post for No Regrets Singles! But the question make me think and it made realize how much security marriage gives me. Not in a “now I’m going to heaven when I die” kind of security. But the security of permanency. Marriage gives you security that doesn’t come from just living together.

I know you’ll hear people say “marriage doesn’t mean anything – it’s just a piece of paper”. My position: they’re lying to themselves. They’re trying to justify what they know deep down and that is: marriage does mean something. Do we have lots of couples (Christian and not) that don’t believe that? Yes. Do we have lots of couples (Christian and not) that don’t live like it means something? Yes. But that doesn’t mean marriage doesn’t mean something. I have 2 examples of this that quickly come to mind:

1) Divorce

We see divorce for the tragedy that it is because marriage means what it does. If marriage wasn’t important, divorce would be no big deal.

2) Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been saying for years that they won’t marry until all couples (same-sex) have rights to marry. BUT…lately their children have been asking them to get married. Now, why would kids whose parents have said “marriage is no big deal” want their parents to be married? Because it provides them (the kids) security! That’s really what the kids are asking for: “Mom and Dad…please tell me that you’ll both be here and be together.” Marriage means something.

A wedding ring says:“I am here through thick or thin. I’m here when we can’t figure out who showers first in the morning. I’m here when our sex life isn’t that great. I’m here when you get laid off and we can’t pay all the bills. I’m here when the doctor thinks it might be cancer. I’m here if the pregnancy test shows positive. I’m here if your mom gets ill and we have to care for her. I’m here. Always and forever.” Jeff and I have a saying: “We will be married for 62 years. It’s up to us to decide if it is happily married or unhappily married.” When that’s your attitude, you make sure that it’s happily! If your attitude is “I can leave when I get unhappy enough”, it’s over before it began.

Marriage brings a huge amount of security for that reason. I know that something could happen to Jeff. He could die. My mom was widowed at 28 – I know what that can happen. But I trust God to provide and I take the security of an earthly husband as part of that provision. I have no qualms about being brutally, painfully honest with Jeff because he will be here. I don’t have to hide part of who I am for fear he’ll see my sin and leave. I can talk about anything and feel comfortable because this is the person I will be with when I am 82. He is my husband. That’s as permanent as you can get on this earth!

Hot air balloon ride on our honeymoon

 

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Jeff is a flower-giver. I haven’t kept track, but I’ve gotten lots of flowers quite often since we’ve been together.  Usually for no reason (because we don’t really celebrate anniversaries or Valentine’s Day traditionally).

But getting flowers seems to be less common since we’ve gotten married.  Now I know you’re thinking: “Duh, Jayme….he already won you; he doesn’t have to keep chasing you.  And flowers are for chasing, not keeping.”  And there is some truth to that.  But there are also (at least) 3 other truths related to this.

1) Money becomes scarcer

Couple of things here:

a) Your money can become less.

b) Your expenses can go up.

Explanation: When you get married, his money and her money usually become our money.  And if she stops working, then our (which used to be just his) money covers more expenses than it used to.  (This isn’t a slam on that AT ALL – just stating what’s happening.  It’s a great way for a family to operate.) 

And your expenses might go up when you get married.  If you go from living at home with your parents to buying a house, that’s likely to be more expensive.  This isn’t the case for everyone, of course.  For the average couple, they’ll buy a house, need to put furniture in that house and some trees in the yard, replace cars, go on vacations, fund retirements, pay for kids and kids’ college.  These are all choices, mind you, not requirements.  But they’re pretty typical choices people make.

2) It could just seem like its less often

Think about it: When you’re dating, you might see each other every day, but probably not.  Especially in the beginning of a relationship, you just see each other a few times a week.  But when you’re married, you see each other daily.  Which means that if he brings you flowers once a month when you’re dating, it’d be like 1 out of the 10-15 times he sees you.  To keep up that rate in marriage, he’d have to bring you flowers about every 2 weeks!

3) Going home isn’t an “event” like going on a date is

A lot of the times that I got flowers from Jeff while dating was because he was physically getting into his car to come pick me up at my home.  Which means, it was easy for him to leave his house, stop by the flower shop and pick up a bouquet.  Now he still could today as he leaves work, but coming home isn’t quite the “event” that leaving your home to go pick up your date at her home. It just feels different.

So while it doesn’t have to be that you get flowers less once being married and it might not even be true, but it could seem that way.  It’s not bad.  It just is.  It’s just one thing that I’ve come to realize in this first year.  As great as they are, flowers and warm fuzzy feelings aren’t what marriage is based on.  I still like flowers and warm fuzzy feelings; it just doesn’t make or break my marriage!

Kansas City Chiefs game

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I posted yesterday about how marriage is an adjustment.  I didn’t lie.

But it’s also not the world’s biggest change ever.  It’s not a complete 180 degree difference from your single days.  Yes, things change.  Someone is sharing your bed.  You’re now washing someone else’s underwear.  You pay a larger cell phone bill instead of 2 separate cell phone bills.

But…guess what?  You’re still you.  He’s still him.  You might have gone from “Single woman” to “Wife” in a matter of minutes, but you didn’t morph into someone different.  Just because you became a wife, you didn’t automatically get great organization skills, the knowledge of a professional chef, or become an expert home decorator.  Those skills have to be learned – before or after marriage.

And it’s more than just skills that you didn’t automatically get.  You don’t automatically become a different person.  You don’t automatically become kinder, gentler, sweeter, more loving or more patient than you were the day before.  You might have more incentive to be those things.  You might have more opportunities to practice being those characteristics, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

But you also didn’t lose who you were.  You don’t lose the skills you have.  You didn’t get a personality change.  The smiling, bubbly person you were before marriage didn’t disappear.  The desire to teach in youth ministry didn’t go away.  There was no magic wand that makes you a new person – for better or worse!  You didn’t transform into Holly Homemaker.  You also didn’t transform into a Wretched Wendy.

Marriage is an adjustment, but it’s not the end of who you were!

Omaha Royals' game!

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Maybe for some people marriage isn’t an adjustment at all.  I suspect that’s true if you were already living together.  But for those of us that don’t live together before marriage, marriage IS an adjustment.

  • Even if you lived with roommates before. 
  • Even if you’re already used to doing grown up things like paying your own bills like rent and utilities. 
  • Even if you do hours upon hours of pre-marriage counseling.
  • Even if you’ve dated for 25 years.

When I look back on our early days of marriage, we had adjustments to make.  I even wrote about it after 3 months and after 5 months of marriage.

It’s an adjustment to:

  • Have someone else in your bed.  Covers?  No covers?  Light covers?  Fan? No Fan?  Left side of the bed?  Right side of the bed?  Touching while we sleep?  No touching?  At the beginning, I can remember waking up every time Jeff so much as breathed funny.  Now I think I sleep through him getting out of bed and going to the bathroom.  But it took time for me to register that as a “normal” sound.
  • Coordinate getting ready schedules.  If you both gotta be out the door at 7:15, you got to figure out who gets the bathroom first.
  • Cook meals often when you’ve been eating out or eating alone for so long.
  • Share bank accounts.

Biggest adjustment

Someone asked me what the most surprising thing about marriage was.  I couldn’t think of an answer.  But I could easily name the “hardest” thing about marriage for me.  For me, the biggest adjustment was us both being at home, but not interacting.  When you’re dating and if you’re both in the same place, you’re doing something together.  But when you’re married, you’re both at home, but you might not be doing something together. He’s on the computer and I’m reading.  He’s watching TV and I’m cooking dinner.  At first I felt like I was ignoring him.  Or that he was ignoring me.  It just felt odd!  Eventually, I identified why I was feeling “off” and we talked about it.  Now we can be home, each doing our own thing and it’s okay.  Now, that doesn’t happen every night all night.  We have time together, but the times at home apart no longer freaks me out!

But that was just us.  For another married couple that I talked to, they’ve been married for a year and still can’t figure out how to share a bed.  They were single a lot longer than Jeff and I were, but a year later, they still aren’t getting good sleep.  They’ve had a different adjustment to make than we did.

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Have you ever had a relationship that accidentally got better?

  • Maybe a co-worker that you didn’t quite get along with?
  • Maybe been in an argument with your mother?
  • Maybe a neighbor that you can’t agree where his land ends and yours begins?
  • Ever accidentally spent a lot of time getting to know someone?

Ever wake up one day to find that the relationship was just great?  You didn’t do anything.  They didn’t do anything.  But it was just magically better?  Yeah, me neither.  Hasn’t happened to me yet.

Ever totally unexpectedly find yourself eating dinner with someone night after night, asking them questions about themselves?  You’re not sure how you got there, but boom! there you are. Night after night.  No?  Me neither.  That hasn’t happened to me either.

Things don’t just magically get better. You don’t accidentally get to know someone better.  You don’t just wake up with all kinds of knowledge about someone who you didn’t have the day before. 

Same is true in marriage, but even more so because there are more opportunities that can bring disharmony to your marriage than can bring harmony to your marriage.

There are lots of little things that if you ignore and don’t address, they’ll irritate you.
There are always things that are taking you away from each other – physically, emotionally or spiritually.

In one of the marriage books I read before marriage, they really stressed this.  All kinds of things will take you in different directions as a couple.  Work, hobbies, families, church experiences, all kinds of things.  And these things aren’t bad. Working is good.  Families are good.  Church is good.  But these things have the potential to take you away from each other instead of bringing you together.

So, in our marriage, I’ve had to be intentional.  I have to intentionally decide to:

  • Talk about our work days.  Both listening.  Both talking.
  • Talk about what impacted us in the sermon or our Bible reading.
  • Get input about our schedules.
  • Pray together.  Prayer doesn’t just accidentally happen.
  • Plan meals.  Groceries don’t randomly appear in my refrigerator and then spontaneously put themselves together and on a plate.
  • Ask how I can help Jeff.
  • Take time for us to be together, undistracted.
  • Join in him some of his hobbies.
  • Spend time with our extended families.

Because his life and her life don’t become our life without work.

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There will be times in your marriage that you just won’t be able to accommodate each other the way you want to.  The biggest area I see this in our marriage is based upon our schedules. For my husband, he feels busy with less things on his weekly schedule than I do.  (And even more so when things are up in the air at his work.)  He just prefers being home (although he loves going out to eat!).  That’s where he wants to be.  For me, it takes more events for me to feel busy.  I don’t want 100 events in a given week, but 3 doesn’t necessarily make me feel busy (depending on what they are, of course).

 

Why we didn’t see this while dating

We talked about this before marriage, but it didn’t sink into my head that we are different in this area until I started to live the difference.  We didn’t really see this particular issue in dating for 3 reasons:

1) When you’re dating, you’re just naturally out more

I didn’t think anything of being at church, playing games with friends and then at a Prayer meeting on Sundays, Bible Study on Mondays, Awana on Wednesday, board games again on Thursdays and hanging out with him & friends on Friday or Saturday.  He didn’t necessarily like being that scheduled, but he didn’t feel that busy because a lot of that is just stuff you do when you’re dating.  Plus some of those items were done at his house, so he felt like he was at home because he was.

2) Our schedules were seperate

I taught Awana on Wednesdays and would do a women’s book club on Saturday mornings. He knew that’s where I was, but he didn’t feel our separation because he didn’t know any different. We weren’t living together or anything close to that.  We weren’t trying to spend as much time as humanly possible together either. So, if we were apart, what I was doing didn’t factor into his “busyness” gauge.  Now time apart feels like busyness because it’s a difference in our normal routine.

3) My schedule was different

This first year of marriage, I intentionally took a year off formal ministry, so I’ve been home a lot more than I ever have.  It’s great at times.  It drives me nuts at times.

So what do you do about it?

There isn’t a better or worse here.  It’s not like 2 events/week is good and 5 events/week is better and 10 events/week is bad.  It’s all just personal preference.  I’m not wrong.  Jeff isn’t wrong.  We just want different things out of our schedules.  This isn’t a sign that we weren’t “meant to be”.  This is just a difference.  And we can work around it.

I can’t force Jeff to think that 5 events/week isn’t “busy”.  And I feel bored-out-of-my-mind at only 2 events/week.  So, our solution is:
1. Do things together.
Do the things together that we like doing together and don’t make both of us feel busy. 

2. Do things separately.
I do things without him that I want to do.  This means I’ll go to open houses, weddings, or birthday parties without him.  I’ll see an occasional movie without him.  I’ll have people over during the times when he’s already going to be gone.

But here’s the catch: I have to make sure it doesn’t interfere with our relationship.  For a relationship to be healthy, you have to spend time together. You want to spend time together.  I need to balance my desire to be around people and be active with my desire to be with my husband. I can’t make me over-the-moon happy while I make him totally miserable.  What kind of marriage would I be left with then?  I have to remember that while we’re not trying to build the same life, we are build a life together.

Bottom line: He’s always free to join me in activities; he’s just not obligated to do so.  If there’s an event that I really want him to attend with me, I’ll tell him so.  And he honors that!  Why?  Because not every thing I do is something he must join me in.  So when I ask him to, I really mean it.  And vice versa.  He has to trust that I’m honest when I say “this is something I can do by myself” and he can only do that when I am honest.

An activity I did by myself this year -- I "egged" the neighbor gals' house!

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First year #10: I married a man

I married a man.

I know, you could tell that from the wedding pictures.  Jayme = girl.  Jeff = boy.  When I say I married a man, I don’t mean that in the ‘he burps and grunts and snores’ kind of way.  I mean that in my husband is a man and I can’t expect him to be a woman.

Call me sexist or whatever, but men are men and women are women.  And generally, they communicate differently.  They think about different things.  They notice different things.  They worry about different things.  They approach decisions differently.  They have different priorities.

When something goes wrong, he is the first person that I want to talk to.  But he doesn’t react the same way that a girlfriend would.  He’ll ask me how I felt, what I’m worried about, but that’s about it.  He doesn’t draw me out like another woman would.  Why doesn’t he?  Is it because he’s clueless?  Hardly!

It’s because his thought process isn’t the same as another woman’s.  While he tries to put himself in my shoes, he just can’t quite get there all the time.  His frame of reference is just different from mine.  Not better.  Not worse.  Different.

And different is good!  Different means:

  • We invest in different funds than I would have.
  • Buying the car that we did.
  • Looking for different things in an apartment.
  • Diverse hobbies.

All of our differences aren’t due to gender.  He’s from a different hometown than I am.  He’s 3 years older.  He’s had a different career field.  He’s had different life experiences than I have.  But a lot of differences are because of gender.  And that’s great!

Jeff is still my first phone call or first conversation.  But when I want someone to think through a situation like a woman would, I call my mom or my sister!

Related post:  He must draw me out!

Playing board games. Brad and Jeff were upset that I won.

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