Towards a happy marriage

11 years of marriage. I cannot tell you that marriage is a perfect place. It is full of love, laughter, frustration, emotion, and so much more. I love almost every minute of it, because I am walking forward with Chris. More than being lovers and spouses we are best friends. A best friend that I can truly say anything to at any moment. He might not always like what comes out of my mouth, but at least it is the truth. Here are a few ideas of what I think are steps toward a happy marriage:

Go to bed together every night. If you cannot orchestrate that, then if one is going to bed before the other, come and tuck the other in. I know that might sound old school, or childish, but do it. It will make a difference. It is a way to connect at the end of a long day and allows your spouse to relax. Having said all that, Chris is the night owl and I rarely get to tuck him in. Better yet, what we often do is go to bed together, snuggle, and then the one that is not tired gets to read and/or catch up on episodes of their favorite TV show on the iPad. A win-win situation.

Tell each other what you think as much as possible.

Try not to snap or react. Sometimes we are grumpy, have a poopy day, and we snap. Okay to be fair, Chris is WAY more patient then I am, and I snap way more often than he does. Do not take it personally. You know when your pants feel too tight and you plop down on the floor of the closest ready to explode with tears? Be there for each other at those moments. I know, I know 99% of the time it is the woman sitting on the floor. So to all those husbands out there. Sit down next to your wife and listen to her emotions, her hormones. Just love her immensely on those days.

Eat together at your kitchen table. Do it without your iWHATEVER device, your DVR, or Netflix. Absorb those moments together. We do not do it often enough, but when we do if makes life feel so different. Sad, but true.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Just because you might have been with and lived with someone for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 years does not mean that you should ever stop communicating. I should have made this point first because to me it is by far one of the most important aspects of marriage. Talk it out. Share what is on your mind. Listen. Discuss and resolve.

A happy marriage. No prescription. Just start with respect, love, and a listening ear. It is all up to both of you.

My kind of challenge

While I was somewhat fascinated by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I was actually more curious about the viral nature of Facebook and how quickly it spread across the Internet, and then it faded away. There were definitely pros and cons to the entire initiative. It sparked interest, and knowledge around ALS, but it also prompted folks to not be happy about the use of water when the state of California is in the middle of a water shortage, and there are plenty of countries in the world that need water. Interesting? Yes. Responsible? Maybe not.

So when I recently was tagged to do the Gratitude Challenge, at first I was like, ‘Ugh. Seriously… another thing?’ (Sorry, Whit). Honestly, I did not have time to think about something like that. I had quite a few full days, was away for the weekend, and knew I had another full work week ahead of me. I sat on it and did nothing instead. Of course I was not agonizing over it, but in the back of my mind I thought this is actually a good thing. If social media encourages us to share what we are grateful for, then that is a good thing. How often do we reach out and tell someone who we care about how much they mean to us? How often do we stop, breathe, and think about all the good in our lives? The Gratitude Challenge on Facebook is to share 3 things you are grateful for 5 days.

I am not a Pollyanna, but I am definitely one to make lemonade out of lemons. I have had my fair share of shit happen in life and I think you have two choices: Whine, complain, and think poor me or find a way to deal, look on the bright side, and be grateful for what you have in life. Of course, I might initially whine and feel poopy about the hand I was dealt, but once I get the ranting out of my system, I move into solution mode. What we often forget is that we have WAY more than we can ever imagine in life.

Kudos to whoever started the trend and is sharing grateful ideas, thanks, and positive juju across Facebook. That is something I can support, and it reminds us of all the good in our lives.

Are you interesting or interested?

Are you the person in the room that is interesting or the person that is interested? I just finished a book called: “Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” by Mark Goulston. I encourage you to read the book, for a number of reasons. One: it will make you think differently about your employees, team, and co-workers. Two: it will make you think differently in your personal life. Three: it will remind you that we rarely listen. All three combined, if we only listened more our work and personal lives would be transformed.

I will give you an example that is shared in Goulston’s book. Do you know at Christmas time when you send out your Christmas cards? Are you the one that writes a long rant about all that you have done that year? All the promotions you received, possessions you gained, and trips you have gone on? Do you ask the recipient of the card how they are doing? Do you do anything to remind them how much you care about them, or want to connect with them, or is it all about you? Goulston talks about how much we are interested in ourselves, or how interesting we are, then in being interested in others. He writes:

“If you want to have an interesting dinner conversation, be interested. If you want to have interesting things to write, be interested. If you want to meet interesting people, be interested in the people you meet—their lives, their history, their story. Where are they from? How did they get here? What have they learned? By practicing the art of being interested, the majority of people can become fascinating teachers; nearly everyone has an interesting story to tell.” Page 56

I love, love, love this. If we all spent more time being inquisitive and interested, we all might also feel more listened to and heard. We all have our own story to tell, but so does everyone else. Like the vastness and uniqueness of a snowflake, so are each of our lives. What if we could be students to all the teachers in our lives? I know I have work to do. While I am an information nut, love learning new things, am constantly researching anything and everything, and love finding solutions — I could be more interested in others.

Could you?

Meaningful connections

We’ve lived in our house for almost two years and yet we didn’t really know some nearby neighbors that we had wanted to know for a while. We hadn’t really gone out of our way to get to know them better. However a few weekends ago, we had a “neighborhood crawl” where a few couples got together and had drinks and food and hopped from house to house. I got to know our neighbors better and now feel like I wasted two years of my life where it would have been fun to have known them.

How often in life do we go through our normal routine and not take the moments out of our days to reach out to others? Do we resist the urge because it might feel like more work? Do we resist because we think the effort or energy will not be reciprocated? None of these thoughts ever crossed my mind about our neighbors, life is sometimes just too full and crazy. Our life needs to change and we need to make more room for more neighbors, friends, and community.

This recent “Daily Om” titled: “Links that Last” discusses meaningful connections and it was a topic we discussed with my sister over this past weekend. The idea of community, friendship, and forging bonds that matter to us in our life. It is interesting to think about how your mind shifts from professional life, to family life, to community in differing ways depending on where you are at in life. We are at a place where we want to live a more balanced life, with children (or one child) plus neighborhood children running around. I remember the kids I played with when I was a kid and I also remember how much I craved living in a neighborhood with more children my age. We live in a great neighborhood for kids, and for neighborhood friendships.

Here is to future opportunities and meaningful connections.

Perfect world mentality

Over the weekend, my sister and I were discussing a blog post, called: “Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt” that we recently saw on Facebook. It was about a woman who posted pictures of her kitchen on Facebook and received comments about all the things she could do to upgrade her kitchen. Never expecting the comments and pondering them further, she realized how grateful she was and shared more about what she had then what she was lacking. It was an eye opener for me. Think about the endless possibilities of comments that others can share with one – to many on Facebook. It can mean an amazing outpouring of love and support, and it can also mean and outpour of critical comments that might not been so helpful to you.

Her blog post was a reminder that we all have way more than we can ever imagine. Take my sister for example. She has a beautiful, extremely happy, brilliant (no I am not biased) daughter. A family that is just what she wants. She lives in California, loves the sun, and is about to embark on a new adventure in the next few weeks. What is not to love about that life? Of course, as with any change in life, there are many unanswered questions, but that is part of life right? I feel amazingly blessed. I enjoy my job, love my home, have an amazing husband, and hope that one day we too will grow our family so that our niece Charlie will have a little cousin to boss around. What is not to love about my life? Sure I work hard, sometimes am stressed out, and often do not allow enough time for myself. If I were to say I lacked anything in life, it would be: time.

I am grateful.

Back to that kitchen and the comments on Facebook. Those comments are ones that come from this “perfect world” mentality that surrounds us. It is definitely a “first world” problem, and I do not know if it is an American issue, or one for many affluent countries. We strive so strongly (and I am just as much to blame) to have this perfect world. We want everything to be just so. The kitchen with the updated refrigerator, stove, updated cabinets. The list can go on and on. We do just the same for our body, clothes, furniture, and other worldly possessions.

Yet, if we just start with what we already have, I think we’ll realize that we have so so so much more than we can ever imagine.