Making Your Marriage Your Priority

 

You hear it all the time “Take care of your marriage. Make time for your spouse. Your kids will grow up, they will move away and it will just be you and your spouse again”. I think it is probably the most common piece of advice expecting parents get. And in a way it is completely true. I mean, your kids will grow up and they will find their own lives. You will still be important to them, but as they grow they become more independent.

That’s important, but, also important to note, is that what your children see in your relationship with your spouse, their parent, is what they will view for themselves when that time comes. The interaction between you and your spouse is the first model to them of what a marriage or partnership looks like. And so, for both those reasons, it is important to focus on your relationship with your spouse.

But how do you do that? How do you make time for your spouse when it feels like your children have sucked time out of you (that sounds a lot worse than it really is, I promise)? Whether you work out of the house or are a Stay at Home Parent it is tough. Regardless of what you do, you are trying to meet the never ending needs of your children, being both the constant entertainer, teacher, mediator (if you have multiple children), protector, and guide. Your days are long (although the years are short) and when the day is over it can be so hard to want to stay up a little bit later and be present for someone else.

Taking time for your spouse is just as important as taking time for yourself. They say that you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself. Well you and your spouse can’t effectively parent and be married if you are not taking care of each other.

It doesn’t take long, a simple 5-10 minutes to just see how they are doing. To check in with them on how their day was. To remind them that they are doing a good job. To tell them that you are proud of them. To give them a little peck, or shoulder rub. These little gestures, little moments of contact goes so far into “keeping the spark alive”.

Don’t wait till your one night (keep reading for that), do it now. You don’t need grand gestures, flowers or chocolates. Most of the time you just need a moment. A moment of just you and your spouse where you only focus on each other. A moment can be all it takes from going to bed feeling like a disaster on all fronts to going to bed feeling on the same page as someone else.

Take a night, once a week. Stay up later, cuddle on the couch, make it a point on that night to put away all the distractions and just focus solely on each other. It doesn’t have to be a go out to dinner and a movie date night, it doesn’t have to even be a get a sitter night (keep reading though for that…), it just needs to be a night where you can be with each other. *You can read about our take on this HERE.

Take a night out, wherever fits into your own budget, get a sitter and go do something outside the house with your spouse. Whether that’s dinner, a concert, a hike, whatever, get out into the world. Remember what it was like to go on a date with your spouse. Take a couple of hours and remember what life was like before you had babies crying at your feet, or a toddler needing help going to the bathroom. Hold hands while you are walking, sit across from each other and have discussions without having to reprimand your children halfway through a sentence. I gauruntee you and your spouse come back to the house 100% refreshed and ready to tackle those moments. We are homebodies so we don’t always do date nights like this, but we are getting better about it.

Finally, look back through your photo albums. Walk down memory lane. Remember that first date? Remember your wedding day? Look back through the photos, you’ll be surprised how many little memories pop through your mind and remind you what that moment was like.

How do you and your spouse place your marriage first?

On Our Anniversary

October 18. 4 years.Mia-349

Every year I’ve had the words to say on this day planned out weeks in advance. What words, which throwback picture, and I look forward to this day with baited excitement for those few weeks. A day for just us. A day to celebrate our union, the day we said I do, the day we pledged our lives together. A day to celebrate the enormous love we have for each other.

This year is really not very different. I’ve had the words planned in my head for a couple weeks. The image picked out, everything sort of set in place in my mind. But on reflection, this past year has taught me a lesson. One that my husband has been saying every year, but I just love celebrating this day so much so we celebrate it anyway.

Celebrating anniversaries are important. It is important to acknowledge the milestones in life, to take a moment to reflect on what happened. It’s why we celebrate the birthdays of children, and our own up to a point. It’s why we have memorial days and personal dates that are important to us. We acknowledge these days every year, reflect on whatever made that day special, and then move on with our lives. We may take it a step further and throw a party, go on a extra special date night, light a candle in remembrance (or on national/federal holidays throw a parade). Ultimately though, the day passes and we trudge on with life.

Here is the lesson I’ve paid more attention to and learned over this past year of marriage: We don’t just celebrate and show our love on this one day every year. We celebrate it every day. In the kiss my husband gives me early in the morning as he heads off to work. In the “Goodnights and I love you’s” of every evening. In the small acts of help, kindness, and love that are peppered throughout our days/weeks/years over the span of our lifetime. When we bump into each other in the kitchen, or slip a smart ass comment to each other on a slow Sunday morning. In the quiet moments of an evening, snuggled up on the couch, grateful for each other and for the quiet moment together. We constantly celebrate and show our love.

It’s not a one day event.

So, while I want to celebrate our anniversary and enjoy today, it’s not just today. I love this man with all my soul. I loved him 7 years ago when I met him. I loved him 4 years ago when we said I do. I loved him 2.75 years ago when we welcomed our first child. I loved him 16 (ish) months ago when we welcomed our second child. I love him more today than I ever could have imagined. And finally, I’ll love him more tomorrow (and the next day, and the day after that and the day after that) than I thought was possible today.

Life is not easy, we have our ups and downs, we go through trials and roadblocks, and massive, incredible, sometimes insane adventures. But through everything one thing has remained constant. Our love.

So, this year, on our Anniversary, just know we celebrate our love. Our union. The passing of time together. And after today has ended, we will still celebrate our love.

Cheers to 4 years. I love you.

 

A Lesson Well Learned…A Little Recap

I feel like I’ve had those back to back weeks where you just don’t catch a break. The first week was just a rough week. Everything that could go wrong went wrong and we all just tried to hold on to the ride. This past week, I felt like I was a hamster on a wheel; never stopping and never getting anywhere. I had SO MUCH that I was trying to accomplish. So many thoughts and ideas constantly going through my head, that it felt like if I didn’t get them out right then and there, they would disappear into the great unknown of my brain.

Basically, rough week followed by insane week. I’ll let you be the judge as to which type of week is worse.

It was around Wednesday or so that I realized I didn’t even know how I was spending my time. I was so far on the wheel, that I couldn’t truly account for where my time I had gone. Sure, I know what hours and work I had accomplished for my part time work, but beyond that- no idea. I was head deep in everything else that I needed to do, needed to get done, and needed to get out of my head that I hadn’t even taken two seconds to look outside. IMG_0491

It was a beautiful day on Wednesday. A perfect day some would say (seeing how the weather turned bad quickly, others may say it was a “calm before the storm”). The sun was bright, not many clouds in sight and whats more, it was the perfect temperature. I sat at our dining room table just stunned for a moment as the realization of what was going on hit me.

I needed to get off that wheel and get off it fast. I decided that lunchtime on that beautiful day would be spent outside, getting some rays (and Vitamin D!) and just overall reveling in what was a perfect little break. Not only did I come back in feeling much more refreshed and ready to get back into the thick of things, but I got some much needed free time with my children. Such freedom is found when you can just galavant across the backyard.

To top off my insane week even further, at some point in the past week my youngest started developing more of that “big boy” look to him. He is still young and is still a baby, but he just started looking and doing things that just made my mommy heart cry out- my little baby is starting to grow up. I didn’t even know when that had started, just a week ago he was still wanting to snuggle and sleep on my chest (ok, ok, he still does some of that) and now here he is, standing against furniture, babbling, scooting all over the place, and just overall acting and starting to look like a little boy rather than a baby.

It took these two “shocks” to my system to remind myself of a couple things.

One, I am never going to get these times back. My children are not always going to want to just run around with mommy in the backyard. They aren’t always going to find that little joy in the birds flying overhead or the trees swaying in an absolutely ridiculous windstorm.

Two, anything that falls with number one goes ahead of ANYTHING else. My little family is above anything else. It is so easy to get caught up in everything else that is going on and trying to get things done and it can be so hard to see that you are losing sight of what is truly important until you have a moment like I did on Wednesday.

We’ve had a relatively easy weekend, getting back from the insanity of the week and re grounding ourselves into our little family and just focusing on each other.

What Motivates Me

*Please note- I don’t “do it all”. Most days I do what I can and simply let the rest go. Some days I don’t even end up getting that far. I’ve been on both sides and while I don’t have all of my $h** together, I try to at least do what I can do. This post is talking about what motivates me to do what I CAN do rather than how I “do it all”. *

A lot of times I get asked- “How do I do it?”. Balancing life, work, children, a home, etc is a lot. How do you manage? To start with, I don’t always, BUT if we want to go down that road…

While that is an excellent question and a good topic to talk on in the future; the more important question that should be asked is WHY do I do it? Why get up so early? Why keep everything tidy? Why get yourself ready every morning, even if you are not leaving the house? WHY????

To answer this question, you must look at one thing:

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? What drives YOU to do what you do? EVERYONE has a lot going on in their lives and a balancing act is essential to anyone’s life. What is different for each person is not how that person does it, but why. Pinpointing this fact will help keep everything in perspective when you are trying to balance things (it may even end up helping you cut down some things that you do that aren’t “necessary” to your own balancing act).

For me,

  • I do it for my kids who deserve a mother who is at her best both mentally and physically.
  • I do it for my husband who works so hard, with long hours everyday, and doesn’t need to come home to a dirty home and whole bunch of other tasks. * Not to say that he doesn’t do anything at home- he helps out A LOT, but if I can take some of that strain off of him, I will.
  • Most importantly, I do it for myself. In order for me to be at my best and to take care of everyone I need to take care of myself. There are things that I like to do and get done throughout the day to keep both myself and my family running smoothly.

When you think about what motivates you, the why you do it suddenly becomes clear.

Why, you may still ask? I do what I do because I want to be at my personal best to be the best for myself and my family (and by extension my friends, my work, my business).

Being able to see my husband able to come home and simply relax after a long day, or my children having free reign of a clean house, or for me being able to sink into my chair with a book and a cup of tea- everything else becomes totally worth it.

It also helps me keep things into perspective with my own balancing act and really helps on those days when I feel like I don’t have anything “together”.

So, before you ask Why, think What Motivates You?

Real Talk: Long Term Love

I know, I know…talking about love on Valentines Day- cheesy. Bare with me for a minute though 🙂 Love is a perfect real talk topic and when better to talk about it than the most highly “publicized” day devoted to love. *I will clarify that we do not actually do anything for Valentines Day in our relationship for various reasons*

Speier Family in Alexandria, VA

Maybe you picture love as it is portrayed in most movies- all sorts of beautiful romantic grand gestures; always being completely and utterly smitten. Maybe you picture moments of intense passion – an intense disagreement ending in a passionate “embrace”. In both scenarios ultimately everything is absolutely and completely perfect, with love being completely romantic and…well…love.

While both of those visions may occur during your relationship, there will also be times of normal. Where you and your spouse are just doing life together. Riding the ups and downs together, weathering a storm or basking in a sunny glow. While you may not feel that all encompassing smitten feeling go away, there will be a point where it does subside a bit and life takes over. When that moment comes it, I’ve learned that two things are essential to keep that feeling fresh in your mind and heart:

  1. Don’t compare your partner to anyone else. COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF HAPPINESS. You did not marry that perfect man in the movies (or TV shows) and there is a reason for that. As we all know, what we see in the movies and on TV is NOT always real and not the way life always unfolds. The individual that you have chosen to spend your life with has their own qualities and perfectness to them. There is a reason that you are with them. It’s true when they say, you don’t find the perfect person, but the person who is perfect for you. I will be the first to say that my husband IS super romantic, although not in ways that people (or I) expect or realize. I love him exactly as he is (and has been) and he is perfect for me in every way. I would not want a man that “seems” perfect, because to me that is not realistic.
  2. Take care of your relationship. It has been said time and again, relationships are like gardens. They need to be watered and taken care of in order to truly blossom and flourish. Sure, you may be working around conflicting crazy schedules and children and many other factors, but you’ve GOT TO take care of your relationship. There is always more that you can do to help, more that you can do to take care of your relationship. Find your “thing”, to keep coming back and connecting to your spouse. In our home, we do one night on the weekend where there are no phones, no books, no distractions. It is just us (and the kids- for at least a bit of the night). Starting off before the kids go to bed, we have an easy to make (or take out/order in) dinner, and some sort of movie (or tv show catch up) afterwards. At some point in all of this the kids go to bed and we curl up on our big couch to just take a bit of time for each other. This allows us to reconnect and take a little time for each other. We do also take a proper date night out every so often when it works out between kids and schedules as well as just getting in little snippets of time of just the two of us throughout the month. We tend to be more of the homebody couple and love to just have a relaxed evening in rather than going out. This is what works for us in our current season of life and you will need to find what will work for you and your spouse. It may also change throughout the phases of life.

When you stick to both of those things, your relationship will not only thrive, but you will have that same completely and utterly smitten feeling that you see portrayed on your screen. Not only will this feeling stay, but you and your spouse will thrive through all of the phases of life, good and bad.