5 Ways to Stay Positive About Your Marriage

Have you ever found yourself in bitterness and resentment toward your spouse?

Maybe you see a friend post about how their husband surprised her by doing the dishes before she got home and you wish your husband would do that. Your co-worker gushes about the romantic evening her husband planned for her birthday and you remember how your husband forgot your birthday last year.

Maybe your wife doesn’t watch sports with you, and your co-worker took her husband to Wrigley Field this summer. You watch the way your friends flirt and hold hands during your double date, but you know your wife is uncomfortable with public displays of affection.

Do you find yourself comparing your marriage to the couples around you? or those on Instagram and Facebook?

Stay Positive

Let me remind you… No human is exactly the same, therefore no marriage is exactly the same. Not to mention, no person or marriage is perfect! 

What makes you just like all those couples you see, is that you all face hardships. You all have a level of brokenness, fault, & problems.

Comparing their instagram photos to your real-life-in-the-grind moments isn’t fair to anyone. Nor is it good for your soul.

So let’s turn this train around! How can we stop the negative feelings and start seeing that glass half full again? Here are 5 small tips:

1) Keep a Journal, but Burn the Pages

A Christian leader I respect and admire unwinds his mind and reflects on his day through a journal. Writing has always been a great way to process things, as well as reflect and reminisce through. However, he reflects back on the positive, but any page that is negative he rips out and burns. It is good to process your negative emotions, but it is never good to hold on to them. Take the time to do the hard work of processing, and the best work of letting go.

2) Keep a Record of Good

The Bible clearly states that Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). But I do encourage you to keep a record of good.

A friend of mine keeps a list of all the reasons she fell in love and married her husband. She tucks it into the pages of her Bible and reminds herself daily of his strengths after her time with God. Make a list of your own and keep it as a book mark or reference when the time’s get rough.

3) Call it When You See It

Don’t let a good moment pass without recognizing it. It’s easy to take all the little things for granted, but you can develop an eye for noticing the simplest of gestures. Just like we choose to see the annoyances rather than dismiss them, we can choose to see the good and dismiss the bad.

We used to keep a chalkboard in our kitchen. Whenever we noticed something we would write it down on the board. It was a shout-out that their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Sometimes we would get competitive and try to out do one another in love. What a great way to utilize that competitive nature!

4) Assume the Best

It’s easy to take offense quickly. We often react assuming our partner meant to hurt us with their words (aka He meant I was fat!). But it’s much more likely that they don’t mean to hurt us. They loved us enough to marry us afterall.

So take a deep breath, remind yourself they love you, and assume the best.

5) Pray Over the Rest

If we spent the same amount of time we do berating, arguing, complaining, nagging, resenting…. and instead praying for our spouse, the more effective our time would be spent. Prayer can do a funny thing though. Instead of fixing your spouse, it tends to fix you. Prayer can fix our heart by softening it towards our spouse, increasing our grace and our mercy towards each other.

 

What are your tips for turning away bitterness? Do you have a simple habit that helps you stay focused on the positive?

 

 

 

Summer Dates You Will Want to Repeat

Summer is my favorite season! With the warm weather life seems to open up again. The possibilities grow as we are able to get outside, move, and soak up the sun.

In this favorite season of mine, I’ve also noticed favorite dates play on repeat. Here are the Summer Dates we come back to time and time again.

RepeatDates

Ice Cream Dates

Ice cream is simply delicious and especially refreshing on a warm day. Repeated nearly weekly, Tappy and I will sit down and enjoy some icecream together.

This is Summer’s version of a “coffee date” for us. It gives us a treat while we unwind, share dreams, and update each other on our week. But there are some ways you can spice up your ice cream dates! Try to…

  • Make Homemade Ice Cream
  • Make Sundaes or Root Beer Floats at Home
  • Try a New Ice Cream Parlor
  • Order Something Different off the Menu

 

Sunset Walks

Unwind from work, eat supper, and then right before Dusk put on your walking shoes. The sunset not only offers a lovely backdrop for a romantic walk, but it also offers a break in the day’s heat.

Walks are great, because men enjoy side-by-side activities. As you move and the blood gets flowing, your brain starts moving too. Tappy can’t deny that he talks more on walks than sitting down at a table. There is just something about moving together! Plus it’s healthy!

  • Walk Your Favorite Neighborhood
  • Walk the Trails at your Local Park
  • Visit a Botanical Garden or Zoo

 

Outdoor Grilling

We love grilling so much, that we have done it in the rain and snow before… But let’s face it, it works much better in the summer! Our favorite thing to grill is Kabobs. Although, we won’t turn down a BBQ hamsteak, corn on the cob, burgers, or sausages either!

Keep your partner company while they make dinner, eat it outside on paper plates, and enjoy the relaxing nature of it all.

  • Try a new Grill Recipe (Kabobs, Grilled Pizza?)
  • Invite friends over for a cookout
  • Use this marinade recipe we love!
  • Make it a Picnic

 

Visit the Lake

Tappy and I love to take out the family boat. Being on the lake reminds me of God’s hand in all of creation. I admire His work, and think about the blessing He has given us to enjoy it in such neat ways. Who thought of being pulled by a rope attached to a speed boat just to skim the surface of the water on sticks?! I’m pretty sure God gave man that idea.

  • Swim in the Lake
  • Lay on the Beach
  • Go Boating, Tubing, Skiing
  • Kayak or Canoe

 

What Summer Date Ideas do you play on Repeat?

Give us some suggestions for our next date night!

Asking Someone Out on a Date

When I met Tappy a crush began. We would cross paths in the hallway in College as I left class, and he was going to his. As time went on you could sense that I was hanging around after class, and he was coming early just to up the odds of running into each other. After every 2 minute conversation I would say, “We should get together sometime.” HINT HINT, *nudge* *nudge*

But he never got the hint! He’d say, “Ya that’d be fun,” and then walk into class like I didn’t exist. After a couple weeks of this, I decided I would break the social norm and ask him out! I walked back up the stairs and into that classroom, seconds before the professor was going to start and I asked Tappy if he would like to “hang out” with me and to let me know when right there in front of everyone.

AskOut

I walked out of that classroom with hot rosy cheeks and so many embarrassing thoughts swimming in my head, but that night he sent me a message with the days and times he was available and said he would love to get together and do something.

Come to find out “Dates” are becoming rare, and asking someone out is even more unusual. This was already becoming the case 10 years ago, when Tap and I were in College. On our Christian campus the motto was “Ring By Spring.” Instead of traditional dates, individuals became couples and were talking marriage and commitment head first.

5 years ago, we were talking to a bundle of girls I enjoyed mentoring. The idea of having coffee with someone was “awkward” to them. They said “people don’t do that anymore.” “You are either friend-zoned or full out in a relationship.”  The commitment came before the date!

Then there’s now. Tappy and I recently watched a documentary called “The Dating Project,” which followed 5 single people at various ages (18-40’s) who live all across the US from New York to LA. They discuss the dating scene, their personal experiences, and their mindset for relationships. Over and Over the theme was of a “Hook Up” culture – Where individuals would find themselves wondering if they were “dating” someone or not, unclear of the other’s intentions, hooking up with strangers for status or some resemblance of love and attention.

Then, in the documentary, we meet a professor who sees this trend all over a university campus and decides to challenge it within her sociology class! She assigns her students to go on what she calls “Traditional Dates.” These Traditional Dates have some great rules that offer a guideline of where to get started when you are looking for a mate. Here are my favorite 4 Guidelines:

1. You Ask, You Pay & You Plan

Too often, students found themselves on an “accidate.” The fact that it was a date was never clear, or the intentions were different for each party. To date well, you need to do so with clear intentions. Make sure the person you ask knows that it’s a date.

This is where I failed. I didn’t clearly state that it was a date! So on our “date” we ran into my pastor who asked, OUT LOUD, if we were on a date! I was so nervous. I wanted it to be a date, but I hadn’t clearly stated that. I didn’t know if Tappy wanted it to be a date or not and here he is in ear shot! If I said yes, would he be freaked out, if I said no would he think I wasn’t interested?  Don’t make the same mistake.

Then if you ask, you should have a plan. Keep it simple and in an environment that allows conversation (unlike a movie). My personal favorite is an icecream date! Tap would probably choose coffee. Other ideas would be long-boarding, rollerblading, a game of PIG basketball, a walk around campus or at a park.

2. Keep it under 90 Minutes

For a first date keep it short, 45-90 minutes. You are just testing the waters. If it’s bad you have an out. If it’s good, you keep the interest alive and you don’t beat it dead with a stick. They said get out under 90 minutes especially if it’s good.

This is one I would not have thought of! If I’m having fun I can easily loose track of time, but I think we can all agree that less can be more. I don’t think anyone regrets a little bit of a chase or those early butterflies.

3. Prepare 3 Questions

As well as planning the activity, you need to come prepared with three questions. Any more than that it may feel like an interrogation. However, three questions helps keep the conversation going and shows genuine interest. These questions can always generate follow-up questions, and that’s good. Go where the conversation leads! You shouldn’t follow your questions like a check list, just have them as back-up.

4. No Touchy

The purpose of dating is to get to know someone well and to discover if they are a good match for you. These first few dates should be touch free as you engage your mind.  An “A-Frame” hug is allowed, but touching shouldn’t be introduced until you’ve gone on multiple dates and see a possibility of a future and lock-in a relationship status.

This here is super counter-cultural, when we live in a world of Friends with Benefits and Casual Hook-Ups this may not make sense. However, our bodies are literally scientifically wired to create emotional connections out of physical ones (It’s called Oxytocin). Then the more emotionally attached the more biased our opinions and the more our decisions are affected. #beenthere #donethat Tap and I have both stated that we stayed in bad relationships, because we were prematurely invested.  It can keep our decisions wiser to not engage prematurely in touch.

 

Tell me, what do you think of traditional dates? What are some of your favorite date ideas?

Singles: Go ask someone out! Use the guidelines, and tell us how it went!

Couples: Tell us your first date stories!

For more “First Level Date” guidelines check out the documentary “The Dating Project.

 

 

What was the last book you have read?

My friend Kelsey is a great wing-man. She made a pact with one of her friends that she would weed out any poor candidates who tried to hit on them while they were out on the town.

If a man ever came up to one of them, the other would ask this question: “What was the last book you’ve read?” In order for the single guy to get any further, he needed an impressive answer with an interesting book review to follow.

Would you be able to pass the test?

Luis Llerena at Stocksnap.io

This question won’t just come up after a pick-up line, you’ll come across this question in social circles as well as college and job interviews. In fact, I just saw it on Michael Hyatt’s blog post: “25 Questions to Ask in the First Interview.”

But why ask this question?

  1. It tells us if you read

People who read tend to be more intelligent, imaginative, intuitive, and prove to be self-improving. If you are not reading, you are not growing. Therefore, it is an attractive quality to read- not only in a mate, but in an employee.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

I can Read with My Eyes Shut! by Dr. Seuss

In a world of few readers, reading gives you a leg up on the competition.

2. It gives us a glimpse of you

What you read shines light on your interests, passions, and dreams.

The last three books I’ve read are: His Needs Her Needs (Harley), Savor (Niequist), and Justice Hall (King).

This can tell you that I am passionate about marriage: both improving mine and helping other’s. Through Savor, a daily devotional, I desire to stay close to the Lord. Then, in my spare time I enjoy an intellectual mystery. Adventures with Holmes and Mary Russell teach me new words, concepts, and observation techniques, as well as purely entertain me.

I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Books are able to transport us… We either slip into a character’s skin, meander in a new town, or take on others’ experiences and skills.  Books can shape our minds and lead us to greater things.

What books have you let shape you?

What was the last book you have read? What does it say about you?

“Love is Blind”

From Shakespeare to hit songs.  From movie quotes to the name of the restaurant down the street- “Love is Blind” has become a popular idiom used often to describe the sensation and results of true love.

However, I believe this little line can cause a lot of trouble.  Before blind love can ever flourish, blind lust has already been born.

Blind lust forms in the beginning stages of a relationship.  You may only know the surface qualities of your mate, and you believe them to be infallible. When they pick you up late for a date, you brush it off assuming they tried their best.  You get in a quarrel, and sooner than later you decide that you were the one and only culprit.  Before too long, your friends are telling you to dump them, but you insist that they don’t truly know him or her the way you do. You parents mutter under their breath that you simply cannot “see it” because you are “in it.”  However, your “in it” blindness further propels you to believe it MUST be love, because love is blind!  If any of these symptoms describe you, please look at these red flags and make a serious and prayerful reconsideration.  Being blind to one’s faults does not prepare you to be a good lover, nor a stable person when those curtains get drawn!

But now… Let’s talk about LOVE.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

Love is not BLIND to wrongdoings; Instead it is fully aware of them, but chooses to not keep a record of them.  Love is acknowledging that your spouse is imperfect, but loving him anyway.  Love is coming home to a dirty house when your husband said he’d clean it, but being patient and understanding.  Love is to be excited for your spouse to find the job of his dreams, not being jealous that you have yet to find yours.  Love is knowing about his past, but not resenting him for it.  Love is getting into a fight and admitting you are the one who is wrong! Love is saying “I am sorry.”  Love believes that marriage has NO OPTION of divorce.  Love endures a miscarriage. Love endures temptation and affairs.  LOVE endures ALL THINGS, because LOVE is the greatest of all these: Faith, hope, love.

True love is not blind, it sees.  In fact, Love sees past the problems and mistakes and the imperfections.  Love sees the big picture.  To be good lovers, we need to understand that we are not perfect ourselves.  We are so unworthy of the love God unconditionally and unlimited-ly gives us.  Likewise, I often feel I am unworthy of the love of my husband, but he continues to give it, because he gets it.  He sees past my mistakes, and in doing so, he reflects the great and unlimited love of our Father.  And if I’m not perfect, I cannot constantly expect my husband to be- and thus there is Love. True love, that keeps no records of wrong, but loves all the mistakes out.  Like Christ who loved all of our mistakes out.

Caramel Walks

Towards the end of the month we seem to run our dates envelope pretty thin, but have several nights left where we could really use some quality time out of the apartment routine.  And when you’re living on a budget, you learn to get creative!

That’s when we started having “Caramel Walks.”  There is a local coffee shop down the street from our house that has 45 cent caramels.  When we are out on a walk, we stop inside to warm up, or for a cheap treat.  We each get a caramel and turn back onto our journey.  We would treasure that small caramel our whole trek back.  I would stick it to the roof of my mouth, sliding my tongue over it’s candied sweetness.  It would take everything in me not to swallow it too soon!

This small simple treat reminded me of a story.  I can’t remember it, so if you can please help me out!  But there was a child who never got candy or butter for their bread.  It was such a lavish waste in that time period.  People did not have the money, nor the products to use on something so … simply unnecessary. Then at Christmas, the child was given a caramel.  One small caramel, and they treasured it and ate it so slowly as to not miss a single taste. One caramel was a treat!

So as I slowly turned mine in my mouth, I thought about how privileged we are.  God not only cares for our needs, but lavishes on us more than enough wants.  And although our budget can’t keep up with the Jones’, it is more than enough!  Our budget is stock full of blessings.

The Small Town Date

Tap and I have been living in Ohio for almost nine months now.  Our town is surrounded by several smaller towns, and has a few metropoli within two hours reach in all four directions.  We have yet to scrape the surface of each of these venues, so we decided to dive into a new one.

This last Saturday, my husband and I went to Tipp City.  They’ve been trying to birth newly paved streets and sidewalks since we moved in, and had finally delivered!  It was the first time we could really go without detours from the construction, and the first time we wanted to stay and mosey.  The strip was cute and quaint.  It was full of mom & pop shops, hole-in-the-walls, and vintage storefronts (like Sam & Ethel’s).

We spent a good amount of time in the toy store, Cairns. It is rare to find a quality toy store anymore, with the onslaught of the digital age, but Cairns stood out.  It was stuffed full of books, board games, several tables of playmobile, action figures, and more.  It was fun to see toys of our past, things we would have begged mom and dad for, and things we thought our nieces and nephews would enjoy.

Continuing on, we decided to stop in an off-the-strip coffee shop.  It was old, and nostalgic.  It felt like a place your grandparents would own, and the owner was the sweetest lady!  We sipped on a nutty-irish latte, discussing the last sermon we watched, while the “Norm”s of the town flowed in and out – some greeted with a hug!  It’s fun to observe small town life, in a small town that is not your own…

With coffee for him, there had to be a cupcake for me!  We found a tiny cupcake shop that had the most unusual assortment of cupcakes.  From Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcake to Very Cherry Cordial, Boston Cream to my choice- The Bella Nutella. It was very tasty, rich, but a good choice!  In case you want to snag one, the name was SWEET by Kristy.  Although I am biased for “my” bakery in Troy, I do want to go back to try the Cuckoo for Coconut!

Overall it was a fun, relaxing, play-it-by-ear kind of a date. Tap loves to get out, and it was a nice brisk day to walk around a downtown strip to keep us entertained!  There are always new sights to be seen, treasures to be found, and adventures to be discovered.  So if you’re looking for a new scene for a date, try the town next door!

The Closing of October

My husband loves EVERYTHING Fall!  He tells me that it is because Fall is laced with the exciting memories of us first dating, but I know that it’s more than that.  Tap has always loved fall : the smells, the weather, the layered clothing, the food, the costumes, the bonfires, the haunted houses, and the memories (of his childhood and our relationship).

His mom would always make him the best costumes.  I know, because I’ve heard each one described in detail – every year Halloween comes around! haha.  It was a time where he and his brothers would get together and do their boyish thing, it’s a memory he ties to family time and a lot of momma love!

For us, it was the defining moments of our relationship.  Our first date was making homemade apple cider on a farm!  Then we spent our nights running around in the dark through an old abandoned house, walking in the brisk night air, and watching the stars on clear nights.  We did haunted houses, and creative costumes, and sipped our coffee in our hipster flannel shirts.  This season set our relationship with high expectations of adventure and fun – Unlike our past relationships where the expectations were low, too low, and centered around hormones and being couch potatoes- We spent our dating time square dancing, pumpkin carving, and thrill seeking.

I am happy to have these fun and exciting memories!  Memories are the glue to all relationships, and it’s the nostalgia that blows back every year that whispers why we fell in love.  We have been so blessed to have gotten our relationship on the right foot.  Fall, I can say I love fall, for all it’s done for us and all the adventures it continues to offer!

 

Halloween20122013

So! Happy Halloween!

From Alice and the Mad Hatter!

Car Wash Date

When you’re young newly-weds… or when you’re old & married forever, there are times when you just have to live on love.  Life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.  When debt has you down, you count your pennies and make them count!

One thing we have not put our pennies toward was a carwash.  Tappy and I have not gone to a carwash for… hmm, we can’t remember the last time, so I’d say over a year!  When I lived in my hometown my mom would borrow my car.  Unbeknownst to me, she would borrow it with the sole purpose of taking it for a wash! I’m not sure if it was driving her crazy, or if it was her love language seeping out 🙂  But it was always greatly appreciated!  There were days she would even take it and fill it’s belly with gas; Now that was a well-spring of fortune to us!

In Ohio, we have not had this pleasure… and after a whole summer and a few trips back to Illinois, we decided it had collected enough bugs for a nine dollar premium wash. So, during my lunch break at work, we picked up some dessert and went through the local WishyWashy.  Tap’s new mandolin was in the back seat, so he started playing a tune as we ate our Brittney’s dessert and let the water, soap, and coating wash over our car.

 

carwashdateIt was so fun to spend this little piece of quiet time with the one I love.  The random, spur of the moment, splurge of the pennies and extra calories were just worth it.  I think it’s the small crazy simple things we do that just stick.

How We Met

Having run into each other at the University Chapel, Cafeteria, Walmart lines, and at Focus, an interest began to grow. During our 2010 Fall Semester we would see each other in passing as I left class and he came in. We would secretly wait in the lobby hoping to catch the other, while we talked to our mutual friend, Thor. After a few weeks of this, and many promises of hanging out beyond the Chapel lobby, I got tired of waiting. Wishing that I had clenched a date, I walked back up the stairs and into his classroom. As he was getting settled in his chair and ready for class, I threw my hands on the desk in front of him and said, “Tappy we should hang out sometime!” Agreeing, he messaged me on facebook that day to set up a time to meet. Our first outing was to the Lovett’s Farm to make homemade apple cider. It was fun to interact with him and my Church family, as well as have such a unique first date. We spent the following days together. I assisted Tappy in borrowing a sound system for an outdoor movie night. When we went to see “Flipped” in the theatre, we raced down the isle, and swing danced in front of the big screen. Tappy invited me to explore an old abandoned house, and we stargazed until the sun came back up. Rollerblading, dancing, and dreaming were all a part of the great chemistry that started our relationship. Each day was filled with anticipation for the next adventure and the next step…. and the adventure continues.