Tuesday, February 17, 2015

10 Lessons in 10 Years (we're talking love and marriage)

But before I get to the part about the horse and carriage...

I have some housekeeping items and a few quick reminders about See Me Homeschool:

1. Today's photo posts are brought to you by Mary at Better Than Eden and Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.   Check out what homeschooling looks like with Mary and Kelly and be sure to check out the complete schedule here so you don't miss any of the upcoming excitement.  

2. Do you homeschool, blog, and have a camera?  Join in by linking up your own post

3. Don't have a blog?  No problem!  #seemehomeschool is an up and running hashtag, so you can give us a peek into your day via Instagram and Facebook!   

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Whew!  So many things happening here!  Today I'm linking up with the very same Mary at Better Than Eden to celebrate Valentine's Day, albeit a little bit late, with Learning Love - a Lesson a Year in Marriage.  (Russ and I will celebrate 10 years in two months, so I'm calling it 10 because 10 is such a nice lovely number.  While nine is certainly interesting and quirky, it can also be troublesome...)  

When I'm under pressure, it's harder to come up with this kind of stuff.  Do you agree?  I  tried my best, but I'm sure there are a few other really important things that I've learned that I'm forgetting to include here. 

Oh - here's one thing - we're one of those annoying couples to which Valentine's Day is meaningless, aside from being a day to read to our kids about a moderately interesting 5th (?) century saint.  For Russ and I, all the hooplah surrounding February 14th is a very convenient way to remember that February is half over.  

So, we're not big Valentine's people, but we do like cookies...

10 Lessons in 10 Years of Marriage

(1) Love changes - and thank goodness it does!  The way we love each other today looks so different from what it did when we were first married, and I imagine it will look differently another ten years from now.  Perhaps it's best illustrated by this - when we were first married, I felt giddy with love when Russ would walk in the door after the work day.  Now when he comes home at the end of the day, I feel more grounded in love, more deeply satisfied, and complete.  Loving Russ after ten years feels less fanciful and more deeply rooted and organic.  

(2) Children are a fruit of our love but they are not what our love is all about.  Honestly, this is a lesson I know in my head, but it often gets forgotten in the day - to - day busyness caring for young ones.  Our marriage doesn't revolved around the children, but it does support and strengthen them, so it needs to be nurtured as the most important relationship in the household.  More and more I appreciate the time that Russ and I spend together without the kids - in-home date nights and evenings out give us opportunities to converse and laugh and plan and dream and gaze at each other (!) as husband and wife - a healthy and beloved break from the conversing and juggling and problem-solving and laughing we do as the dad and mom.  

(3) Differences are tricky - especially as regards parenting.  Differences are good - especially as regards parenting.  And we don't have to hide our differences from our kids.  Before we got married, we chatted about parenting and so I thought it was settled.  We'd parent the same way.  My way.  It turns out we're very, very different kinds of parents and that really rattled me when it started coming to light.  I think some of our parenting conflicts have been some of the trickiest things we've had to navigate in our marriage.  Our differences will always be with us, I think, but I've come to appreciate some of them very much and am so grateful that my children have a parent like me and a parent like Russ.  They certainly benefit from the variety and the unique gifts that we each have to offer, things that may be lost if we parented similarly.  We acknowledge to our kids that we see differently on things, and in general, we're respectful of those differences... especially when the kids are around :)

(4) I still feel loved in the little things.  Don't take the little things for granted.  Say thank you for the little things.  Even when we were dating, I'd feel the most loved in the little things.  I'd get all doe-eyed and light-headed when Russ would bring me a surprise cup of coffee or carry my backpack on a hike for me.  Today, I still appreciate the "little things" and feel more loved through them than bigger, grander gestures.  I "see" and "feel" how much Russ loves me when he does the grocery shopping for me because it's below zero out, puts up a fresh shower curtain because he knows I hate standing on the tub ledge, and buys me a $6 bunch of tulips because I love them more than pricey roses.  I try to be mindful of these little things and try to always show my appreciation and gratitude.  He doesn't have to be attentive to the little things.. but he is!  Love!

(5) Don't look for trouble where there is none.   Sometimes listening to talks on marriage, reading books on relationships, or chatting with friends and acquaintances might leave one with the impression that all marriages are fraught with conflict or are lacking in some significant regard.  We've learned from experience not to blindly take the word of a marriage "specialist" from a book... you may end up looking for gaps and weaknesses in your marriage where there are none and end up creating conflict for the searching.  

(6) Look to couples you admire for encouragement and guidance.  However...  don't think your relationship has to look like any other... even the good bits.    

(7) For us, marriage isn't hard.  I checked with Russ on this and  he agreed.  I asked him, without prompting, "what are some of the things you've learned about marriage in the last ten years?"  He immediately said, "that's it's easier than everyone said it would be."  I smiled... I had been thinking the same thing.  We chatted about it for a bit and agreed that while it certainly is a lot of work, especially if we want to see our relationship thrive instead of stagnate, but that we've never felt that marriage was a burden, a weight, or a struggle.  It takes effort, but it's not a trial.

(8) Your new family trumps your old family.  This took a little while for me to grasp since I am so close with my parents and siblings.  The choices you make should take your couplehood and your new family into account, and should not be made "because that's the way my family did it growing up."  When possible (or necessary) strengthen this concept by sticking up for each other and praising each other (honestly, of course!) for your parents and in-laws to hear :)  

(9) Give him space to talk through his zany ideas, because he'll usually talk himself down without you pouncing on his ideas with negativity right from the start.  Like if he thinks it might be a good idea to take a job in Nicaragua.  Don't freak out.  Just wait, and let him think it through and talk it out, and you'll probably end up moving to the other side of town.  Not Nicaragua.  
(10) Let him build the fire.  Every time.  Even if you were a Girl Scout for more years than you've been a wife.  Even if you have all the badges in fire-building and open-fire cooking and wilderness survival skills.  Even if Jack London is your uncle.*  Let him build the fire.  Say nothing about his progress, unless it is praise.  If he asks you to help, decline and assure him that he will do a fabulous job :)  Fire is a man's purview, and to remember this is to ensure long life for your marriage.  

* not really my uncle ;)

April 1, 2005 


  1. How have I missed the "Jack London is your uncle" fact???? Wow!!!
    I love this post and may do something similar on my anniversary in April. This is great for newlyweds as well as those of us who are over 20. I love your wedding photo!

    1. Just clarified that - while all the girl scouting facts are true, J.L. is not really my uncle! I got carried away :) Sorry for the confusion!

  2. All great. Your dress is so pretty. And yes, parenting, and the differences is challenging.

  3. Love the fire one! That is so so true! You guys truly are blessed to have had such a wonderful Married life! Thank you so much for linking up!

  4. How sweet! And yes, let him build the fire! :)

  5. I always thought that marriage wasn't hard either. I attribute much of it to both of us being the oldest of divorced parents and we started dating at the age of 16. We matured real quick and learned lots of hard lessons before we even married.

    Thankfully, my husband is an Eagle Scout, so we never had to worry about fire building at our house. :)

  6. Beautiful, absolutely nodding away, agreeing. Would have written all these myself.
    Can see you and Russ have that giddy love along with the solid:):) {{}}

  7. Such insight...You are AHHH-mazing!!!

  8. So many good things! And #10 is definitely true. I can't build a fire, but the joy my husband gets from successfully building beautiful fires is much more than I could ever feel.


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