Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 6: Cherishing Your Spouse

I didn’t realize what a selfish person I was until I got married. Even after that, I couldn’t really understand the depth of my need for ‘me time’ until I had children. As the only child of parents who were in and out of the picture, I never really had to worry about anyone but myself. I didn’t have to battle anyone for the last brownie or compete for my mother’s attention. But it was extremely lonely, and I often found myself wishing I had a long-long twin somewhere!

About ten years into my marriage, I remember a certain conflict my husband and I had that taught me the principle of sacrifice. We had three kids ages two to eight. I stayed home with our kids while my husband worked and attended school, both full-time. It was an exhausting time for all of us, and yet now I find myself looking back on that time with longing. My children were all still babies, really—small and squishy and in constant need of something. Attending to their needs was physically draining, and I found that I couldn’t wait for them to become just a little more self-sufficient. Escape was my method of coping at that time: girls’ night out, book clubs, Relief Society activities, writing group, even drink-runs with friends. Anything to get me out of the house. What I couldn’t see was that my escape was leaving the one person who should have been top priority out in the cold.

My husband and I were in the car when I mentioned that I had just joined a new book club that would be meeting that week. He didn’t react well to this additional time out of the house, and I immediately became upset. My verbal defense was something along the lines of, “I need to get out of the house! What do you want me to do, never experience anything but you and the kids? I need more than that!” He then calmly brought to my attention the fact that I would be gone every night that week with all of my activities, and he wondered where he fit into things. While it took me a while to simmer down from this confrontation, I soon saw that I hadn’t been making our relationship a priority. So, I decided not to join that book club, which I resented at first. Once I did readjust my focus to my husband, I saw how very much I had neglected him. It is a lesson I will never forget.

It’s tough, putting your partner first—particularly when you have a small army of little people whose needs are so immediate. But, feedings and changings aside, no earthly thing should come before your marriage. Nothing. If any other relationship does so, then there is a problem. This is a lesson I’ve had several times, and I don’t expect it’s over just yet, either. Something I’ve come to see over the years (some of which I’ve prayed to know why life has to be tipped quite so far on the opposition side of the scale) is that marriage and parenthood (family life) is Celestial boot camp. In this stew, all the imperfect ingredients are boiled together, simmering until our reduction is the consistency God wants it to be.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Week 5: Behaviors that Negatively Affect Marriage

Myth Busted: Falling Out of Love 

I believe that ‘falling out of love’ is a myth. When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember learning a profound truth. My husband and I had been married about a year and a half, and the rose colored glasses were getting a bit thin. One day while riding to work, the Spirit taught me something profound: true love isn’t about butterflies or the attraction that brought you and your spouse together. True love is staying with that person when you aren’t feeling those things. True love is made up of sacrifice and compromise and hard work. I used to look at Hollywood couples and marvel at their short shelf life. In the past, I found myself thinking, if a couple who looks like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston can ‘fall out of love’, then what hope do the rest of us ordinary folk have? But herein lies the key. Obviously these beautiful celebrities lose their rosy goggles just like the rest of us. Attraction may be the magnet that draws us together, but it certainly isn’t the glue that holds us together. So if these perfect tens can lose ‘that loving feeling’ as easily as the rest of us, then clearly the secret to a successful marriage has nothing to do with looks or twitterpation. Sorry, Bambi. 

I believe there are several factors to a maintaining a successful and fulfilling marriage. Like so many things in life, it is the Sunday school answers, the little things that we have to constantly work at, that make or break this union that is ordained of God.

First, marriage is not just a promise between two people; it is a covenant each partner makes with God. It is a commitment that we need to follow through on, not an optional situation that we can brush aside as soon as the irreconcilable differences rear their ugly heads.

Second, the way to your sweetheart’s heart is his or her love language: touch, quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, or acts of service. Learn which it is, and become fluent in it. My husband used to bring me flowers for every birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, mother’s day, etc., like clockwork. While the roses were beautiful, the gift became a bit predictable, and I also found myself fussing over the cost each time. My husband has learned that the way to my heart is much simpler and cost effective: peanut butter Snickers, Kit-Kat, and Crispy M&Ms to name a few. I still love flowers when they are unexpected or when I am feeling down about something. And I have learned that reaching out to hold his hand while we are grocery shopping, or simply scooting closer to him on the couch make him feel loved.

Third, make time for each other. Go on dates, even if it is a date to the grocery store or a trip to Lowe’s to get something for his latest project. Remember that you came together in the temple, and make the temple a regular part of your dating regimen.

Fourth, always, always put each other first. No other person (friends, siblings, parents, even your own kids) should be above your spouse in priority. Obviously when we are in the child-bearing years, the physical demands of our children tend to take up that first slot and putting each other first is more difficult, but this too shall pass! I have found that my kids love seeing their parents put each other first. After the kids go to bed on Friday nights we usually watch a movie. My middle child will often ask, ‘What are you and dad watching for movie night?’ If we say we’re not watching a movie she gets a little scowl and argues, ‘But it’s Friday, and Friday is movie night!”

Fifth, take care of each other. A few months ago I had a procedure that left me tired, weak, and stressed. At the end of the day I just broke down crying, and my sweet husband held me while I cried. That is the face of true love, in my opinion, the color of what marriage is all about. Not to mention, it brought us closer together and I felt so loved that I could have drowned in it. So, when I hear couples say ‘we just fell out of love’, what I am hearing each time is, ‘we stopped working on our relationship; we stopped communicating; we stopped putting each other first and making time for each other’.

Like our testimonies, our relationships are not self-sustaining. Remember that we aren’t in the Garden of Eden, where lush greenery and perfumed blossoms are growing wild all around us. We are in the lone and dreary world, where thistles, thorns, briars, and noxious weeds are allowed to afflict and torment us. We have to earn our bread, or in this case, our happy marriages, by the sweat of our brows.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 4: Doctrine of Eternal Marriage

As a child, I was terrified of wolves. I used to dream that they were chasing me, biting me, or chowing down on my loved ones. I'm not sure where this fear came from, but seeing as I repeatedly watched The Never Ending Story, I have my suspicions about Gmork - the fearsome creature that dwelt in a darkened cave. This foundationless fear stayed with me, even as an adult, until some combination of Twilight and Shiver cured me of my aversion to wolves. But still, I find that one wolf continues to torment me. Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy described this wolf as "excessive individualism that has spawned today’s contractual attitudes." Until I got married and had children, I had no idea what a truly self-absorbed person I was. Having been raised as an only child (though 'raised' is perhaps a strong word for parents who were in and out of the picture), there was nothing for me to be but selfish. I didn't have to share my toys or make sure I got first dibs on dinner. Whatever parental attention my parents did bestow was given exclusively to me. Sibling rivalry was a completely alien concept to me until my second child was born. Suddenly, "me time" was one of the most precious things I had. With this background, family life has been extremely difficult for me. You might have guessed that I'm an introvert, which makes my flight instinct that much stronger in noisy, chaotic, or overcrowded situations. It doesn't help that the world tells me I should 'look out for number one', 'make sure to get yours', and 'put yourself first'. There is some basis for these theories; after all, if I'm not whole myself how can I take care of my family? It's the airplane scenario of first-attach-your-own-mask-and-then-help-others. But the world takes this so much further. As Elder Hafen says, "The adversary has long cultivated this overemphasis on personal autonomy, and now he feverishly exploits it . . . He exaggerates the need for having space, getting out, and being left alone." This is a struggle I deal with almost daily. But it helps to know that Satan is exploiting my personality and history, and that I can defeat him in the end. Once again, I am grateful for the pure doctrine we are taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World: "The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave . . . Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Week 3 - Threats to Marriage

I am not a person who generally follows politics, or even watches the news for that matter. If something big happens in the world, I am likely to know about it only if someone posts about it on Facebook, if it comes up on the Yahoo home page, or if my husband comes home and says "Well, there's been another terrorist attack." I know my lack of attention to world events is pathetic, but I only have so much room in my head. So, when I read the assignment for this week (all 98 pages of it) I was baffled. I had no idea that four of the nine members of the Supreme Court dissented from the majority ruling to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. I couldn't help hearing lines from the Book of Mormon in my head, about wicked versus righteous judges: "And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges" (Alma 10:27). On a lighter note, I kept thinking about Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith as well, when Palpatine takes emergency powers to start his war, effectively tramping out any vestiges of democracy. However, I was thrilled with the four judges who dissented, who had the courage to raise their voices in favor of democracy, traditional marriage, and religious liberty. My favorite quote was from Chief Justice Roberts: "Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty . . . Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples . . . Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today." (Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. (2015). Supreme Court of the United States) What the Supreme Court's majority ruling did for this country was not granting liberty to a minority. It was taking liberties from the rest of us. Bakeries who refuse to make wedding cakes for a same-sex weddings are fined. Therapists are now, by law, unable to give counseling to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction. Think about what that means for a second! The government is telling individuals that they are not allowed to address something they see as an issue. One could say that they are not only encouraging but forcing people to be gay. One school district in Washington introduces same-sex lifestyles to their Kindergarten students as part of the curriculum. And that same school district, in fourth grade, has students "choose" which sexual orientation they are. Fourth grade - long before any child has any sort of sexual tendency unless it has been introduced to them. If I opt my children out of their family life unit because same-sex lifestyles are being taught as normal and completely acceptable, then I am a religious fanatic, or worse, a "bigot". There is no question in my mind that religious liberty will continue to be restricted by our government. A line is being drawn, and we must decide which side of the question we are on. How grateful I am to have The Family Proclamation! How blessed we are as a church to have a quorum of prophets, seers, and revelators up in the tower, watching the horizon for danger.

Monday, September 26, 2016


For one of my classes we had to create a marriage blog. Since I already have a family blog, which I haven't posted to in over five years, I decided to just use it. The topic we are blogging about this week is divorce. I found this week's reading about divorce, and the effects it has on children and society as a whole, very interesting. While all the statistics rang true for me, I couldn't help thinking about how different those stats look from the inside. My parents married young when they found out they were pregnant with me. The marriage didn't last long, being something right out of 'The Dysfunctional Home Show' (any In Living Color fans out there??). After the divorce, my mother remarried an alcoholic abuser. They were married for nine years, and as such, Mom's second husband raised me from age 3-12. He was the only father I really knew, having had virtually no contact with my biological father until the courts forced me to. My stepfather, who I called 'Dad', drank and smoked. Pornography was more like bathroom reading in my house - Friday night movie rentals were the ones you had to ask the counter attendant for. Drunken rages often ended in physical abuse and calls to the police. Obviously, my home life was anything but healthy or stable. And still, when my mom and dad sat me down to inform me of their divorce, it felt as though the trailer we lived in had been nudged off its foundation. My entire world shifted. If I had to compare this sensation to anything, I would say it resembles thinking you are on an island. When the island suddenly begins to pitch to and fro, take on water, and eventually sink, you realize you have been on a boat all along. It is beyond terrifying, and causes you to question everything you thought you knew. And yet, there is no contesting the fact that some marriage relationships, with their contagious, toxic environments, are far more damaging to children than divorce. Reading all of these statistics makes me think that marriage prep classes should be required for a marriage license - just like blood tests. Think of the classes, practice hours, and certification test that are required for a driver's license. People going into marriage should be told before hand that it's not always a picnic. That loving a person doesn't mean you will always like them. That the commitment they are making needs to be valued above physical attraction, fun, or any other reason they are so crazy about each other. They need to know that there will be hard times, that everyone has them, and that successful marriage are not 50/50; they are 100/100.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Prodigal Blogger

I realize I haven't posted in, like, a year. But now that I'm not working and I'm over the Facebook addiction of old. The kids are back to school on Monday (can I get a hurrah!?) I figure I might have a little more time. Plus reading old posts really makes me want to start posting again. If for no other reason than I love getting the blog made into a book and looking back on the chaos of life. So, we'll just pretend the last year of blogging draught never happened, and start fresh.

I should mention that I have no intention of keeping up with any of YOUR blogs, so if you expect me to read yours because you're reading mine, well......I still love you as a person.

We just got back home from Lake Powell. I must say, it is much more enjoyable when your oldest is almost 10 and your youngest is 4 1/2. Almost RELAXING, even.

Daddy and Spencer driving the boat:

Me and the boy. No tubby tummy jokes, please.

Kenna lost one of her top front teeth biting into an ice cream sandwhich when we first got to the lake. We all spent the rest of the trip teasing her that we were going to make her eat another one so her other loose tooth would come out!

Spencer had a freak-out every time the boat hit waves from other boats.

Emma and Grandpa:

Kenna and Grandma:

Kissin' Cousins (well, if Emma had her way, they would be). It was interesting to see them flirt with each other all during the trip, and then get embarassed when they realized we were all watching.

Emma wake surfing with Uncle Matt:

Nine happy meals complete with different smurf figurines and one really crappy experience at Denny's later, and we're happy to be home!

Funny Things My Kids Said in 2007-2008

Rather than have this as a sidebar, I'm just going to post it.

Kenna as I was putting Spencer's nighttime diaper on: "He needs Cruisers - they're comfort flex."
Spencer when I tried to put some slightly soiled underwear back on him: "No, mom......dere skiddies in dem!"
4/28 (Kenna after preschool): "Mom.....I had a hard day today, because we had to draw our Z's."
Spencer every day "I wanna watch PU-PU PANDA."
Spencer every time I touch him: " hut me. I need band-aid."
The other day when I was heating up some bacon (Kenna): "Mom, I smell something....hamish."
1/30 (Kenna): Emma, I love your pretty's strawberry flavored."
1/26 (Emma when we found her white baptism dress at Costco): "Mom,.....I am SO excited to get bath-tized."
(Emma to Kenna the other day when she said 'poop' during dinner): "Kenna, that's UNAPROPRIATE."
1/17 (Emma when I drank out of her cup): "Hey, that's my cup.....well, it's okay - it's Saturday."
1/13 Emma on the way home from school ): "I'm tired of this busy day."
1/13 (Kenna on the stairs): "Mom, me and Emma are going to clean our room ABOUT being AKSED."
1/13 (Spencer about baby Kallen): "I wanna hode it!"
12/14 (Spencer in Sacrament Meeting): "I'ont wanu lissen!"
12/13 (Spencer in the car): "I'anu pay ina snow."
11/24 (Kenna after Spencer spit his food onto her plate): "That is DEFINITELY GROSS."
11/22 (Kenna): "Mom, I feel like I don't belong here.....I feel like I belong in California......"
11/13 (Kenna while I was watching the CMA's): "Is this COWBOY music, or what?......I don't like cowboy music."
11/7 (Emma while eating the blueberry crumb muffins I made this morning): "Mom, you make the bestest muffins in the land."
10/27 (Kenna): "Mom, can I have some gum?" (Spencer): "I'ant gum!"
10/29 (Kenna when daddy wouldn't take her into the store with him): "That just breaks my heart."
10/11 (Kenna at IHOP with Sarah & Emma on her birthday): "This ice cream is just scrumdelicious".
10/11 (Emma on her birthday with Sarah in the bookstore): But it's my birthday, I don't have to be good."
10/8 (After Kenna selflessly gave her stuffed Elmo to Spencer): "He can slobber all over it - it's his now."
9/29 (Emma arguing about taking a nap): "Mom, we'll just go downstairs and play to give you a piece of quiet."
(The other day after school) Emma: "Mom, I miss being in the family."
9/3 (Kenna while stamping her foot & refusing to go with me) "I like daddy BETTER!"
8/27 (Spencer out the window as Emma is leaving for school): "Emma.....I-uh-you!"
8/26 (Kenna to Spencer): "Don't slober on my pony!!"