A Fateful Date Night

I don’t usually love going to Barnes & Noble with my husband. It’s probably mostly because he loves to stay about half an hour longer than I would generally like, even when he tries to be mindful of it. Yet last night, as we were trying to salvage what we had left of date night, I actually found myself enjoying a few shelves of books close to the entrance. Maybe it was because, after a series of unfortunate events, we found our date night consisting of cold lasagna, tears, and stomach aches. It wasn’t anyones fault- Kyle had everything planned out, but we got to the restaurant only to discover that it, along with all of its local friends, was closed on Monday nights. I won’t go into detail, but by 10:00pm, the aisles of books and any chance for mental stimulation were looking pretty good.

Here are some I added to my list last night (along with one whose title I can’t remember about overdiagnosis of ADHD in children)- What are you reading?

The Perils of Communication

Last week we had friends coming in from Oklahoma to see us for a few days. I think both of us were looking forward to showing them around Dallas and catching up on life over dinners and double dates.

They were coming in on Tuesday afternoon and I had kind of been coordinating the activities for the week back and forth with them. On Monday, over lunch, I casually mentioned to Jen that I’d told this couple they could have a key to our apartment and come and go as they please. Here’s how that conversation went:

Me: “yeah, I’m just going to leave them a key when we see them tomorrow.”
Jen: “why?”
Me: “uh, so they don’t have to be locked out of our apartment all day.”
Jen: “why will they be at our apartment?”
Me: “because they’re staying with us?”
Jen: “$%@* what?!?!”
Me: “ruh roh”

Clearly I’d forgotten to slide the small tidbit that they would indeed be sleeping in our apartment into our conversation in the last week we’d talked about it. How? I have no idea. I only knew that I had a maniacal wife on my hands who suddenly had less than 24 hours to get our apartment ready for the guests, make sure the air mattress was ready, and buy food and wine for dinners.

I have to admit, it was a fairly humorous situation, given the levity involved. What’s not going to be so funny is one day when we get home from Target and one of us says, “did you get [young child to be named at a later date]?” and the other says, “what?! I thought you got [him or her]!!” and we’re driving 85 MPH in a residential area to correct our communication mistake.

So on this Friday, to you my wife I promise to be more assertive with my words and punctual with my thoughts. And here’s to [boy or girl to be named] never wailing away on a Target aisle while we stare at each other in fear by ourselves in our home.

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On Walks

Jon Acuff once wrote that the most important marriage advice he ever received was “buy two deck chairs and sit outside under the stars every night talking to your wife.”

We don’t have any deck chairs (or a deck for that matter) but we’ve been heeding his advice as of late and spending more time under the sky than under our roof.

Jen and I tend to look at taking walks from two vastly different perspectives. Because I love playing sports like basketball and tennis I see them as a mundane form of exercise, not unlike a chef would sneer at a mere peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Because the extent of Jen’s sporting experience includes “that one time she threw an intramural touchdown pass” she tends to look at mile-long walks as an activity of strenuous proportions.

No matter, I think we’ve found some middle ground. No pun intended. The last few weeks have been fraught with lengthy strolls in woodsy areas. Along golf courses, through neighborhoods lined with opulent homes, and just-around-the-block-and-back.

We’ve been talking more and sitting less and I have to tell you, it’s been really good for our marriage. We talk about where we want to live and what we want to do and how many kiddos we want to bring forth (that’s usually a quick convo).

Walks are great for emptying the emotional tank (mostly because there are no doors to slam or pots to sling) and catching up on where we are in marriage and where we are in our metaphorical walks with the Lord.

So to all of you who are dating or married let me suggest that you take at least one walk this week. It matters not where you go or how you get there, only that you’re together and talking and working out the sanctification of your marriage.

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The Other Side of Gift Giving

I know Jen has talked a lot on here about what a poor gift giver she is and how much she struggles with it but I’d like to talk a little bit about being on the other side of it.

At the beginning of our relationship I think I viewed this as an inadequacy. Why doesn’t she get me good gifts after I send her on week-long scavenger hunts? I looked at it as a manifestation of where her love for me was coming up short instead of realizing it just wasn’t part of her make-up.

Jen is, and you have to understand this completely to understand where I’m coming from, the most abstractly creative person I know. That is, she can create and draw ideas and concepts in her head and then build those ideas into real-life material objects. I would say for every craft or project she makes she probably has twenty others that never make it out of her head. It’s just how she’s wired. I could barely think this sentence out in my head before typing it and she’s drawing 3D objects.

So for her to show me love is for her to say, “hey, I had this idea for our apartment” or “why don’t you do this with your blog” or “let’s handle our family in this way” because I know she’s thinking upon such things. The problem with deadline gifts is that the ideas have to come to her. She can’t force them. They just…happen. Trust me, I don’t understand it any more than you do.

So to you my wife, thank you for helping me learn that you don’t giftFAIL because you don’t love me, but rather because the ideas didn’t come at the appropriate time. And thank you for showing me that the older we get, the less it matters, and the more we must focus on the Lord rather than each other.

The Gift of Giving

It’s not abnormal when I’m at work to see women come in, look around for an hour or so, and prepare their array of goodies. Fabric does crazy things to you, and even if you have zero ideas for a project, the right fabric can entice you to buy yards upon yards of it. There have been times, however, when women will get ready to buy, hear the total, and then pause. You can, after a little practice, hear exactly the thoughts that are running through their heads before they say, “Can I pay $50 in cash and put the rest on the card?” Just to be clear, I don’t condone the hiding of funds from said husbands, but I do admire the ingenuity of these women to pursue their passions without ruffling the feathers of their husbands. I mean let’s be honest- there are just some things guys will never understand.

This week I have found myself wishing I had a secret stash of money with which to purchase Kyle’s birthday gifts. Sneaking around is no fun, especially when your husband does the budget and knows that you don’t normally make any sort of purchase at Dick’s Sporting Goods on a regular basis. I’m not usually the best gifter. I know- I don’t understand it either. I have all these creative juices flowing incessantly, but when it comes to giving gifts to loved ones, my juices turn to icicles. The handheld head scratcher I got my mom for her birthday one year? It’s made for a great family joke. The reusable lunch bag I made Kyle for Christmas this year? Already retired because his coworkers told him it looked like a purse.

It’s true- I’m not the best person to be married to if you want really awesome gifts. But this year I’ve really tried. All the odds are stacked against me, all the retail chains in America are enticing me with crap he’ll never use, but I press on.

Good luck this year, my darling. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the year to get me on track for great gift giving. But if all else fails, please remember this: There’s always next year.

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Things I’m Learning

1. My ability to be a good wife stems from what I’ve learned about how to be a good friend, a good sister, and a good stranger.

Some roles come easier than others depending on the day, but I’m finding that most things that apply to one apply to all the others. This theory gives credence to the fact that I feel sorry for only children who find themselves in the midst of marriage. They’ve had much less practice than the rest of us.

2. When we go to sleep at the same time, our marriage feels a lot more successful.

I write this after having fallen asleep at 8:30 last night while Kyle didn’t come to bed until the wee hours of the morning. It’s difficult to do most days (especially when running two blogs and requiring different amounts of sleep) but there’s nothing that compares with the half hour before sleep. We get to break down the day together, laugh about weird things that happened, talk about the future. And those times are our favorite part of any day.

3. When painting a piece of furniture, use a matte finish.

After spending countless hours painting a computer armoire that isn’t quite finished yet, we’re finding that all my work is useless when things stick to its semi-gloss finish and peel the paint off. I really think this can be helped with a matte finish, though I really wish I would have read more about it before I started. Chalk this one up to my stubborn self thinking I can conquer anything with a gallon of paint.

4. Keeping a house clean requires your constant attention.

I know my mom is laughing at this one because I’m finally getting to practice what she’s known for years, but if I want to have a clean house, I really can’t stop cleaning. Dishes are continually needing done. Things are always being left in the living room, laundry never stops piling up, and how does the bathroom sink look that dirty so quickly? Then there’s sweeping, mail, bed making, shoe pick ups, and the endless string of craft supplies throughout the house. And there are only two of us. Hug a mom today. They deserve it.

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Game Night

We’ve discussed it before I believe but our game nights used to go something like this:

Jen: “yeah, I got Lady for ‘famous females’”
Me: “who?
Jen: “you know, ‘Lady’ from ‘Lady and the Tramp’”
Kyle: “okay, first of all, she’s not famous. Second, she’s not real. And third, she’s not even human.”
Jen: “whatever, I’m counting it.”
Kyle: “[usually shouting by now] Okay well then I’m done playing if you’re going to blatantly alter the rules of the game to your advantage!”

{cut scene}

Next day…
Kyle: “yo”
Jen: “she’s real to me!”

We’ve come a long way since those days and still have a long way to go. I guess the point of this post was to ask you guys what your favorite games are and I started Jesus Juking all over the place.

So here’s a Cliffs notes version of our favorites:

1. Scattergories – even though Jen never wins…
2. Bananagrams – (see above, replace ‘never’ with ‘rarely’)
3. Catch Phrase

We’ve been looking to mix it up a little bit though so tell us what yours are in the comments section…

The Fighter

I know this isn’t exactly groundbreaking but sometimes I think the best thing you can do as a couple is endure a fight.

We went through a doozy this weekend. I’m not sure what the catalyst was either. Maybe it was the fact that I was on the computer for five straight hours on Saturday afternoon. Or maybe it was that I thought Jen was purposely throwing pots and pans around the kitchen to distract me. Or maybe it was that we just hadn’t had a good fight in a while.

Whatever the case, I found myself at Barnes & Noble for much of Saturday night before retreating back to base camp to see if either of us was ready to wave the white flag.

As it turns out we both were. We both knew each other had been irked by so many different things and we simply embraced in a spirit of restitution and repentance. It was both good and bad, but mostly good.

So don’t be afraid to lower yourselves into the ring every once in a while but don’t forget how to get out or that you’re going against the most important person in your life.

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The Mystery of Marriage

Ah, the days of falling in love. Sometimes it does me good to simply sit and remember what it was like to be curious about my not yet husband. To remember our long talks about life and the Lord, to remember when we had hours to simply stare at one another and wonder if this was love.

And so it turned out to be. During the time we started dating more seriously, we were both reading a book- not together, but not separately- called The Mystery of Marriage. Reading through that book now makes me remember those times and my heart’s anticipation of all I wanted love to be. Here’s an excerpt for your Friday: for those not yet in love and for those who are immersed in it. Don’t ever forget who gave us the capacity to love.

“Think what it is like to be alone with one’s beloved, to be silent and still and enthralled, with no other purpose than that of being together, being alone with love. It is, oddly enough, an experience of being neither alone nor not-alone, but rather about midway between the two, and somehow involving the very best of both experiences. It means that one can totally relax, but with a relaxation that nevertheless has an edge to it, for there is always the awareness that one is being watched. And yet, being watched by one who loves is not like being watched by anyone else on earth! No, to be loved as one is being watched is like one thing only: It is like the watchfulness of the Lord God himself, the sense that the believer has of living out his life in the invisible presence of the living God, and of being so loved that it is if an aura or halo had already been conferred upon him, a spiritual electricity that surrounds and fills all of his words and actions, for suddenly all that he is and does is not only accepted and respected, but marveled at. More than just being appreciated, he is treated as being awesome, beautiful. He is cherished.”

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