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Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category

How I know he loves me

Being Valentine’s Day and all (Happy Valentine’s Day by the way!), I thought I’d document how I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my husband, Jeff, loves me.

  • It isn’t the fact that he proposed.
  • It isn’t that he said “I Do” 6 1/2 years ago.
  • It isn’t that he gave me 4 sons.  (4!  All boys!  Inconceivable!)
  • It isn’t that he’s supportive of me staying at home instead of working.

I know he loves me because of the house we live in.  

I’ve written before about the house we’re in. My husband and I were not looking to move.  We had been married almost 5 years and had already moved 3 times, thinking we were in the house we’d live in until our kids were grown and gone.  I had a 2 month old.  And a 1 1/2 year old.  And a 3 year old.

And the fort that’s in our backyard.

See, all last summer – for SEVERAL weekends, he built me a fort.  A gigantic one.  The platform is 7 feet in the air.  The roof is 7 feet above that, so that a grown man can stand up in it with no problem.  The platform is “L” shaped – the longest side is 12 feet long and the shortest side is 6 feet.  It’s LONG and TALL.

We have plans to add onto it in the future – a bucket and pulley system.  A climbing rock wall maybe.  But the bulk of it is done.

This isn’t the case where my husband is a builder by day and thus, had to build on the weekends too.  Oh no. He’s an Electrical Engineer by training (now in management).  This was not in his wheel house.  This is not something he would’ve chosen to do.  He enlisted help from his father, but he easily spent 100+ hours building this thing.  And way more money than we thought!

And it’s because he loves me that he did this.  If it was just love for his kids, he would’ve just bought a swingset (and saved lots of time and money!).  But because he loves me, Jayme, he built this.  The custom fort that I wanted.  The fort that I hope our children love for years.  The fort that they’ve already eaten lunch in many, many days last summer and fall. The fort that they can play board games on when they’re in Elementary school.  The fort that I hope they have sleepovers on when they’re in Jr. High. It’s just awesome and I love it.  And I love him!

finished_fort

 

 

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I’m reconfirming my choice to stay at home.  Here’s how it all went down:

Mid-December, I got an email from a company:

“Dear Jayme…in looking at your profile on LinkedIn, you seem really cool with mad skillz that we’d like to have at our company.  Do we have what it takes to make you look at us?”

My reply:

“Dear company…you seem cool.  I’ve heard good things about you.  And you’re right – I am awesomeness.  The total package.  But I love my life and would only want to work part-time.  Thanks for thinking of me.”

Their reply:

“Hey, part-time could work.  We’d do whatever it takes to make you love us.  Come on in.”

So I did.  Did an interview.  They loved me.  A couple of weeks later, they asked for another interview, with the owners of the company (it’s a small company).  So I went. It went down like this:

Them: “Hey Jayme…you ARE awesome.  We could totally make part-time work.  But I don’t think you’d accept the position that we had posted, amiright?”

 Me: “Yeah, you’re right. You’re a great company.  It’s a good position.  It’s just not where I want to go.”

Them: “We have many needs. Would you rather do position A?  Or position B?  Or position C?  How about we set you up with an interview of some others that work here so you can see how cool we really are?”

Me: “Okay, those jobs sound cool.”

Them: “By the way, how much are you looking to make?”

Me: [tells them what I used to make, clarifying that I had been full-time]

Them: “Great.  Well, expect an email from us!”

The next day I thought more about it.  It IS a great company.  The potential positions seemed good.  The timing for my family was just horrible.  I just wasn’t excited. Don’t get me wrong: I was excited about being wanted.  About being told that I got skillz.  That’s really nice.  But, I decided that, if offered, the soonest I’d start would be June.  I wasn’t out looking.  I don’t need to work.  I had been hoping that I wouldn’t really like the position or the pay (so that it’d be an easy decision).  Jeff was supportive of it, but wasn’t excited about it.  The timing was horrible.

But instead of the email for another interview, I got a “Thanks, but no thanks” email.  It flabbergasted me.  I imagine it was about money since things were good until then.  But who knows?  Maybe I’m bad at reading people.

Either way, it was a RELIEF.  I was relieved that I didn’t have to make a Yes/No decision.  I don’t know that I’ll be a Stay At Home Mom forever, but, at least for now, it’s what I want.

Lesson learned.  Decision reconfirmed.

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One of my facebook friends recently posted this:

“I love my kids but anyone that says they don’t like the “empty nest” didn’t marry their best friend.”

Her youngest child just went off to school for a year and her oldest three are married (and thus out of the home). I don’t know exactly how long they’ve been married, but I’m guessing it’s at least 25+ years.  It’s just always fun to see people happy about great marriages – especially when they’ve been married for more than 2.6 seconds.

I read her status and wondered “How do I get that!?” Not how do I get a great marriage? Not how do I marry my best friend? My question is mostly: “What can I do so that in 25 years from now, when my kid(s) are grown and gone, I’ll still feel like I’ve married my best friend?

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. I was reading a book by John Rosemond (called New Parent Power!) that spoke to this briefly:

In the years since World World II, we have become increasingly and neurotically obsessed with the raising of children. Something that used to be a fairly commonsense responsibility has taken on the trappings of science. … Within the child-centered family, the implicit understanding is that the children are its most important members and the parent-child relationship is the most important relationship. …

Well, if you want raising children to be difficult, you need only to put them first. By putting your children first in your family, you guarantee they will become manipulative, demanding, and unappreciative of anything and everything you do for them. …

Again, its a question of priorities. In a two-parent family, the marriage must come first. After all, the marriage created the family, and the marriage sustains it. The marriage preceded the children and is meant to succeed them. If you don’t put your marriage first and keep it there, it’s likely to become a mirage instead.

It’s a concept that’s foundational to most of his advice: the marriage must come first and children should not be the center of the family. It’s what makes parents happier and it’s what makes children happier.

I want that! I want 25+ years to go by and for Jeff & I to send our last one off to college . When we do, I want to say “Love ya kids, but get out! Daddy and I gotta cuddle!”. I don’t want it to be “No kids!  Come back!  Don’t leave me alone with this stranger called Hubby!”

I’m beginning to realize how hard it is to keep your marriage front and center while raising children. Children will take all the attention that you are willing to give them. They don’t start out independent in any way, shape or form. And it is easy to want to give them all your time and energy.  They’re fun – the questions they ask, the smiles that they give, the new milestones that they reach. They’re unique – each child doesn’t something a little bit different and has their own personality. Eventually, their needs can dominate the family schedule with school, church, sports and other events.

Kids are cute, fun, unique and needy. Particularly, the first several months of your first kid’s life are i-n-t-e-n-s-e. At least, for me, it was. You’re learning so many new things. You’re making decisions you’ve never made before. It can take alot of focus. In fact, it can take ALL of your focus if you let it.

How you prevent a kid-center marriage probably doesn’t have a magic formula. There’s no “do these 5 things together and you’ll be fine”. I’d guess there are some generalities though: keep talking, keep having fun, spend time together. How and when you talk is up to you. How and when you have fun is up to you. How and when you spend time together is up to you.

Kids will take all the energy and focus that you let them. Seems to me it is important to give them lots of energy and focus, but not ALL of your energy and focus.  Now that I’m staying at home, I am hopeful that I have more time to focus on my marriage.  That doesn’t mean giving the boys sticks and knives to play with and to ignore them, but to make sure I have time for Jeff too.  Our marriage will sustain our family!

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I’ve come across so many articles lately about “How to Live on 1 Income!” or even “Why doesn’t America have mandatory maternity leave like other countries do?”.  I get it — it’s even something that I blogged about before — years ago.  But since then, I’ve kind of realized some things.  Such that now whenever I hear the question “How Can We Live On One Income?”, I mentally reply “As long as your income is Bill Gates’, then you’re fine.”  For a while, I thought of it as an income problem.  Or I mentally think “Just have the expenses of Mother Teresa, then you’re fine.”  I would think of it as an expense problem.

Okay, not really.  It doesn’t take Bill Gates income to support a family.  And you don’t have to have expenses of a single nun.  And while, at the end of the day, it does come down to expenses and income, I’m guessing (just guessing) that in my circle of friends, there are 1-income homes making $40K/year and they make it work. And there are probably also couples making $150K/year who struggle to pay all their bills.  So, it isn’t the amount that’s critical — it’s the decisions made that make all the difference.

But even that statement is kind of misleading.  Because, I’ve realized that:

  • It’s the decisions your parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions your spouse’s parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions that you made after high school that affect you today. (Student loans, rents, mortgages, car loans, etc)
  • It’s the decisions that your spouse made after high school that affect you today.
  • It’s the professions that you’re in that affect you today. (Income potential as well as other expectations like dress code, cars, houses)
  • It’s the professions that your spouse is in that affect you today.
  • It’s the part of the country that you live in that affect you today. (Particularly housing has a huge effect on cost of living)

It’s all kinds of things.  I’ve just come to realize that being/having a stay-at-home spouse is a complex issue.  It’s not SOLELY a function of the decisions that you make today, but it’s influenced by decisions made for the last couple of decades and decisions not even made by you.

Over the years, my mind has gone from “You just have to make a budget that only spends what you make.” to “You just have to have 1 income that makes enough money to support your needs.” to “I think people need to really be wise about their decisions and the decisions that they lead their children too because financial decisions can have a really long-term effect.”  Aka: It’s complicated. 

 

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Last thoughts on marriage from someone who has been married for a whopping 4 years…

Thought #7: People should glorify God

In summary:

You can read a list like this and think “No way!  No way do I want to be married if it’s going to be like that.”  To that I say: if you can stay single and honor God, go for it!  If staying single makes you content and you don’t really long for a life-long partner or children, then awesome for you!

To the rest of you (us), just know that this isn’t the majority of marriage.  At least not for us.  We aren’t always selfish, have different value, make bad assumptions or are radically different from when we got married. It just happens some times.  Occasionally.  Same as with any other relationship — it’s just that the stakes are higher because we’re married.

There isn’t a “Get out of jail free” card to be played.  And that’s awesome!  That’s one of the things – maybe the greatest thing – about marriage that I like.  It’s until ‘death do us part’.  On Earth, it’s the closest thing we can get to a forever relationship with another mortal.

And it’s even good that it has conflict at times.  Iron sharpens iron, you know.  God knew that there would be conflict in any human relationship – amplified even more so in marriage.  And yet, our marriages should honor God.  Glorify Him.

People should be able to look at a typical day in a Christian household and think: “Wow, they really love each other.  What helps them to do that?”  Not that we love each other in a hokey way or superficially.  But that we really love one another.  Just like God loves us.

That we really are dedicated to each other.  Just like God is dedicated to us.

Marriage should glorify God because the people in the marriage should glorify God.

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More thoughts on marriage from someone who has been married for a whopping 4 years…

Thought #6: People can be selfish

If I’m frustrated with Jeff, it’s most likely because I feel that he’s being selfish. But really, it isn’t that his selfishness that bothers me.  I can handle that.  What really bothers me is when his selfishness sometimes prevents me from being able to be selfish. (Note that he might not really be selfish, but in my mind, I assume that he is.)

An example: Our kids are early risers. Apparently, we subscribe to the “Early to Bed, Early to Rise” mentally around these parts. This serves us very well during the week and on Sundays, but they haven’t exactly recognized the concept of sleeping in on Saturdays. (I know, I know, wait til they’re teenagers…) And up until a couple of years ago, Jeff & I both got to sleep late(r) on Saturdays.

We try to let one of us sleep in and the other gets up with whomever wakes up first (usually Finn). We don’t usually decide who will get up on a Friday night; it’s usually a spur-of-the-moment decision on Saturday morning.  A few factors go into deciding who gets up.  Does one of us wake up and doesn’t feel tired?  Has one of us had a particularly rough week, sleep wise and could really use the extra hour or so?  But sometimes, we’re both really tired. And both really want to sleep in. But one of us has to get up.  Sometimes I get frustrated with him if he wants to sleep in.  But only because it means that I can’t.

Other times, it appears in our finances. He wants to put more money in a Roth IRA and I want to spend more money on updating the house.  I (wrongly) interpret his desire as selfish because it’s what he wants and not what I wants. He’s making a smart decision, one that’s wise and certainly not selfish. But his desire is at odds with mine.  So I label it as selfish.

Summary:

  • People can be selfish.
  • Even when people aren’t being selfish, sometimes we think they are.

I try to remember that Jeff might not be selfish and to remember that marriage isn’t 50/50. And that I rarely regret being generous (with time or money)!

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More thoughts on marriage from someone who has been married for a whopping 4 years

Thought #5: People make assumptions

I make assumptions all the time.  You do too.  I assume that my car will start in the morning. I assume that when I set the alarm, it will go off.  I assume that restaurants serve properly cooked food that won’t make me sick.  Most of the time, these assumptions serve me well and aren’t any big deal.

But sometimes, I make bad assumptions.  Sometimes, I assume that when Jeff cleans up the toy room, he’s making a silent commentary on my housekeeping skills.  Or that when he doesn’t want to make changes to our life insurance that he doesn’t really care what happens if he were to pass away.  Sometimes, he assumes that when I use sarcasm and say something that hurts his feelings, that I’m intentionally being mean.  (I’m violating the “We only edify” rule!)

In reality, he just wants to help me out.  In reality, he is still thinking about the insurance policy changes.  In reality, I just wasn’t being careful with my words and thought I was being funny.

I try to assume good things.  And to ask questions about what he really meant.

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