Category:

Marriage and Relationships

The Key to a Successful Marriage is to Grow Together

My parents just celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary. They are coming up on 50 years soon. The Big Guy’s parents will be celebrating 47 years of marriage this September too. The Big Guy and I come from a long line of lifers. I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing, a religious thing, a cultural thing or if they just love each other a lot. I’m hoping it’s the latter.

That is not to say that their relationships were always easy. Far from it. I don’t know about my husband’s parents’ relationship but I know my parents had their ups and downs. I also know that it wasn’t always the easiest relationship. There are lots of moments looking from the outside in, during my childhood, where I would have walked away if I were in the relationship. Yet, they pushed through. Even when they didn’t like each other very much, they loved each other. You could see it in the way they touched and spoke and the way it spilled out onto us children when it wasn’t toxic.

I wanted what they had but I wanted marriage 2.0 minus the chauvinism with a healthy dose of friendship and respect. My parents weren’t friends. They were passionate lovers who got married and built a family. The Big Guy and I were passionate lovers but he’s also been my best friend since college and over time, we’ve fallen deeper in love with one another. Wow, that sounded cheesy and did anyone else notice that the word “passionate” is almost as cringey as “moist”?

Today, we celebrate 20 years of marriage. We’ve been together for almost half of our lives. That’s a long time. It doesn’t feel that long. Some days it feels brand new and others, it feels like forever. We’ve grown up together. We’ve traveled the world, lived and worked in several cities, owned homes and cars, had babies, lost a baby, gotten pets and lost pets. We’ve gone from college co-eds to middle-aged parents of teens. We’ve laughed and cried, fought and made up, more times than we can remember.

20 years is a long time to be committed to anything, especially in a world of instant gratification and swiping for sex and relationships. It’s so easy to move on to the next person but when you find someone who you still like when you hate the entire world, someone who understands you without words and loves you unconditionally without question that still makes your heart beat faster when they walk into the room, that is the dream. To love and be loved in return so completely

Maybe we’re not the two cool kids with the banging bodies that we used to be. Maybe marriage and kids have made us a bit thick in the middle and dull around the edges, from a lack of sleep for the past 14 years. Perhaps, we are not as exciting as we once were. Maybe I’m not the girl who’s the life of the party these days and he’s not the guy with the cool car, but we’re happy. We’ve evolved past superficial things and we’re stronger than we used to be.

We got engaged a few months before we graduated and from there we forged our lives together. We’re like two tree roots growing in the same direction and intertwining together for the past 2 decades. At this point, I’m not sure where my roots begin and his end. They are simply ours. I don’t feel lost. I feel deeply rooted in exactly where I belong, beside him.

At the end of every day, I am grateful that this man came into my life at a time when I was probably at my most unlovable and yet, he loved me anyway. I am thankful that I went against all common sense and logic and said yes when this tall, beautiful man asked me to marry him in the middle of the dance floor after only 4 months of dating.

This year we’re only low key celebrating because life is crazier than usual this year. But, we’ve got something huge planned to celebrate later this fall a trip to Disney World. My first trip to the happiest place on earth was on our honeymoon and ever since Disney has held a very special place in our hearts. I can’t think of a better place to celebrate such a momentous occasion.

Big Guy,

This journey so far has been absolutely crazy and I wouldn’t want to be doing it with anyone else but you. 20 years of marriage is a lifetime but a lifetime isn’t long enough.

Love you to infinity and beyond and back again.

XOXO

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Valentine's Day, Bae, bae meaning, what does bae mean, how to make a relationship last

Before Anyone Else. This is who he has become. My Bae. Not out of expectation or obligation but out of pure, unadulterated and unconditional love. The Big Guy is my one and only Bae. I’ve been calling him bae for as long as I can remember, simply because it was my shortened nickname for “babe.” Ever wonder what does bae mean? The bae meaning is not one I would have thought I’d subscribe to. But maybe the kids are on to something because, in my heart, he truly is before anyone else.

Bae is beyond a regular relationship. Bae is deeper, more meaningful, next level…babies, mortgages and life together. It’s saying let’s do this every day for the rest of our lives. It’s I don’t just love you. I like you, even when I hate the rest of the world. Bae is intended for forever.

Remember when you were in your teens? Everyone you ever dated was your “BAE” but that was before the word had any real meaning. When we are at that tender age, the beginning, it’s easy to get BAE status. We don’t fully understand the depth or the meaning those three letters can have. It’s mostly superficial and surface because, at that age, everyone is beautiful and how much baggage can they really have?

READ ASO: How to Save your Marriage by Having the Hard Conversations

I remember thinking my world rose and set around boys I dated. My teen heart hadn’t yet experienced real love so every twinge, I thought “this must be it.” I was ready and open to it. I was so naïve. But I think we have to grow through these relationships to be ready for real love; the kind that knocks you over the head and off your feet because it’s so different from what you expected. Real love is not hard. It’s easy like a warm surf washing over you. It happens without you even noticing.

All relationships take work, commitment and respect. But it shouldn’t feel like you are forcing anything. Sometimes things run their course and some relationships are training wheels for the real thing. The beast of it all is that we don’t know until we’re in it or it’s over. But when you’ve had it, nothing else will do. The real thing, that love that fills your soul up, the one where you can be 100% yourself and they still get you and love you, it is freedom.

READ ASO: Wedding Ring Tattoos as the Ultimate Sign of Devotion

The Big Guy is everything I never knew I always wanted. Before him, I had no clue what I really wanted. I thought it was a checklist of superficial things. Cute. Check. Strong. Check. Well-educated. Check. Kind. Check. Intelligent. Check. But a relationship isn’t just a series of ticked boxes. It’s so much more and he is so much more than I ever knew was even possible.

Valentine's Day, Bae, bae meaning, what does bae mean, how to make a relationship last

He came into my world when I least expected him and he took my life that was like a hurricane and brought a calmness and sureness that I’d never known. He’s given me peace in a life of chaos. He’s been upfront about his feelings for me since the day we met and I’ve always felt seen. There were never games. It was refreshing. Before him, that wasn’t always the case. People tended to see what they wanted to see.

READ ASO: Love in a Marriage isn’t Always What You Expect

He’s never treated me like a damsel in distress that needed rescuing, yet when I have, he’s been there to quietly put his hand out to help me up. He doesn’t shy away from my strong opinions and beliefs even when we don’t agree. We’ve been able to talk to one another like adults for the past 22 years and I think that might be because we grew together in love and respect. We were like two young plants, planted in the same pot. Our roots intertwined and we grew stronger together over the years.

There has never been a power struggle. He’s not the macho type. There’s never been a time where I remember one of us feeling usurped into the “we.” Even though we are a couple, we are individuals with our own passions and beliefs. We have our own strengths and weaknesses. We know this and this may be our greatest strength as a couple, we complement one another rather than compete with one another. No one needs to be the leader in our marriage because we ebb and flow into one another where we need to.

He is my bae and will always be.

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couples tattoos, wedding ring tattoos, Valentine's Day

I never expected it. In fact, I was dead set against it. In theory. For other people. It’s not really couple tattoos or wedding ring tattoos specifically but the whole putting someone’s name on your body. It seems so permanent in a world where almost nothing is guaranteed. I remember the day I saw my sister-in-law’s name tattooed on my brother’s arm and I thought to myself, “Well, that wasn’t smart.” I guess in the end I’m a cynic.

Two of my brothers are tattoo artists. They warn against putting significant other names on your body. Hey, it hurts to have wedding ring tattoos removed. I’ve joked a lot how the only names I would ever put on my body are my children’s. I’m not good with permanency. I’m really not good with hanging my happiness on others and I might have some trust issues if we’re being honest. Not that the Big Guy has ever done anything to warrant losing my trust. I was just raised waiting for the other foot to drop.

This morning, the Big Guy said he was going to swing by “the shop” (my brothers’ tattoo shop) and discuss the final details of a new tattoo, A Call of Duty Juggernaut. I don’t quite get it but if it has meaning to him, it’s his body. Before I left, I jokingly said, “Make sure you have my brother sneak in my name. It can be like a hidden Mickey. You don’t even have to use my first name. It’ll be our little secret.” He left. I continued Marie Kondo-ing my house that’s looked like a hurricane hit since I started organizing way back in January 2019. Yep, that year-long month.

READ ALSO: When a Tattoo Heals Your Heart

An hour or so later he returned. I asked if my brother had stenciled his calf and if I could see this “juggernaut.” Sure, he bellowed. He’s a big guy, he sometimes bellows. He bounds up the stairs and I’m waiting for him to show me his calf.  But he’s just standing there and I was so confused.

“Let me see it.” I was anxious to see what they had come up with and if he had, in fact, had my middle name hidden in the stencil. But he just smiled with an outstretched left hand and there it was, “Deborah” “5/15/99” and “Always” on his ring finger, where his wedding ring sits. I was speechless. I’m never speechless. If you know me, you know that I am a talker and never without words. Yet, there I was with no words.

couples tattoos, wedding ring tattoos, Valentine's Day

As Bella says, I.Was. Shook! But I shouldn’t have been. This is just who he is. He jumps all in with his whole heart where I’ve always been cautiously optimistic. There was a time when I would have jumped blindly into matters of the heart. I loved love but then I got burned a couple times, more like set on fire by the frogs I kissed. By the time I met the Big Guy in college, I just expected things to be hard.

I was never one of those girls who felt like I needed to get married and have kids. I wanted all of that, eventually and I knew it would happen but it wasn’t anything I was losing sleep over. I had dated a few guys, been naively all in, written all the sappy letters and did all the silly things people do when they are teenagers/the early twenties and I was left with a lot of relationship “buyers remorse.”

READ ALSO: How Scrambled Eggs Made my Marriage Sexy

Then I met the Big Guy, 4 days after a break up with a guy I’d been dating for some time. We broke up for the last time on my birthday because he forgot my birthday… after almost 3 years of dating. Let’s be brutally honest, he didn’t forget so much as chose not to acknowledge it. Lucky me.

The really honest truth is that the Big Guy and I never should have met, logically speaking. I wasn’t supposed to be there.  I was supposed to be in Boston. I was supposed to have already graduated. And on the night we met, I was supposed to have a boyfriend and I was supposed to be home studying for an astronomy exam.

couples tattoos, wedding ring tattoos, Valentine's Day

But fate intervened or maybe destiny was in control the entire time because, under normal circumstances, he and I should have never met. Yet, here we are 22 Valentine’s Days later about to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this spring. And they thought we wouldn’t make it?

I met this guy, who ended up being everything I never knew, I always wanted. This giant, loud, humble, sweet, smart, cute man who knew from about week 4 that he loved me. The same guy who told me that very thing. He wasn’t a game player. The certainty with which he loved me scared me a little bit because I’d never had s relationship like that before. The man who after meeting me that September, told my mom and sisters at Thanksgiving he was going to ask me to marry him on Valentine’s Day. (No one told me.)

READ ALSO: The Proposal Do-Over

The gentle giant who jumped the gun from nerves and asked me to marry him in the middle of the dance floor at our favorite college bar with no ring and no speech. He caught me off guard and still takes my breath away on the regular. I guess it’s kind of his thing. He re-proposed to me on our 11th anniversary, on bended knee.

I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked when he showed up this past Saturday morning with my name tattooed on his finger. Nothing should ever surprise me about this incredible, generous and loving man. He can do anything. He’s more romantic today than he was on the day we got married. He lives through actions and not just words.

When he proposed he told me that I was his “soul mate.” I’m not even sure that I believed in the concept before him. He makes me want to be a better human being. His love changed me for the better. When you have someone as kind and thoughtful as the Big Guy loving you, you feel like you can do almost anything.

READ ALSO: I Love You Man

It’s not about what you have or don’t have. It’s about who you have. We fell in love through conversations under the stars. We fell in love in a bar on campus. We fell in love watching a Salma Hayek Rom Com. We fell in love sitting on the roof of his college house drinking beer and looking up at the moon. We fell in love staring into one another’s souls over the head of our newborn baby. We fell in love in the rain in New Orleans. We fell in love watching our oldest meet her sister for the first time. We even fell in love when we lost our third. We fell in love living in separate states. We fell in love poor. We fell in love rich. We’ve fallen in love a million times over the past 22 years and I fell in love all over again Saturday morning when I saw that tattoo.

I’m going to go and get one of my own because I realized that he’s already tattooed on my heart and he always will be. The imprint is already there. It probably has been since we met that night in 1997. I’m the only one who didn’t see it because I was afraid to let myself believe that I deserved to be loved like that. I’ve felt it every day since we met.

Have you ever considered getting wedding ring tattoos? If you were going to get couple tattoos what would you get?

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sneezing, stress incontinence, birth, gratitude

Today was the anniversary of the day I fell and dislocated my elbow last year. I know that because my amazon photos wanted to taunt me today.  It also happens to be the 21st anniversary of the night the Big Guy asked me to marry him. Weird, right?

All day today I was dreading going outside for fear that I might slip on the ice  (because the kids had no school today because of icy roads). I stayed inside with the kids most of the day, just waiting for the clock to run out on this day. Then, I went outside because I had to run an errand and ironically enough, not only was there ice everywhere but there I was wearing UGGS again. UGGS the exact kind of shoe I was wearing when I bit it in the wet yard last year. God, I can actually feel the crunch of my elbow dislocating if I close my eyes. But I’m fine. No slips and falls today.

ALSO READ: Beware the Slick Spots

Tonight we were planning our Disney vacation for this fall because we are those people who like to return to the scene of the crime. Since our first trip to WDW was on our honeymoon, we have to go back this year. Right in the midst of the joy of surviving the day and celebrating our engagement anniversary, I sneezed and peed my pants. My kids, keeping me humble since 2005.

This day just reminded me that life can be simultaneously amazing and shitty in the same 24 hours. It’s all in our perspective, although, I’m pretty sure falling and dislocating your elbow constitutes a bad day any way you slice it. However, I’m just thankful that my elbow kept me from hitting my head on the cement. And who cares if I pee my pants when I sneeze sometimes, that’s what panty liners are for. Also, would I ever trade my kids with their big heads for a non– stress incontinent existence? NO, I wouldn’t.

ALSO READ: Everything New at Walt Disney World

I guess all this to say, I’m going to Disney World! But mostly to say, we don’t always know what life is going to throw at us, or on top of us or beneath us but we know that even if it hits us square in the face sometimes, we’re going to be fine. It’s going to hurt for a while and maybe there will be permanent damage but we will figure it out.

That’s what I’m doing, I’m figuring it out; motherhood, being a wife, being a good friend, living on my own terms, surviving the shittiest of days and embracing the little profound moments of complete bliss. I have no clue how I’m going to make it all work. I never have but I do it. I do it because that’s life. Failure really isn’t an option.

So the next time you’re laughing and you start to pee a little, look around, is there any place else that you’d rather be? Probably not. Not really. Not when it’s all said and done and the kids are asleep and your husband is beside you watching your favorite show. Laugh on, laugh hard, laugh loud and then change those panties and live to laugh another day.

 

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how to save your marriage, marriage, communicating in marriage, marriage counseling

Marriage is not always easy. Most of the time it’s hard. But where there is true and deep love, I think it’s worth fighting for with everything you’ve got. This is how to save your marriage by having the hard conversations, the uncomfortable ones that might leave you yelling, in tears or second-guessing your entire relationship but its better than the cold silence of not caring at all.

There is no guidebook that they hand out as a wedding gift called How to save your marriage. That would be a little dismal to say the least. But maybe there should be. Maybe they should just change the title and give that book to every single person even considering getting married.

What do you do when you’re in love with your spouse and they are crazy about you but you disagree on one thing? Sounds simple, right? You get over it or you compromise. You work through it. But sometimes the “thing” is so huge that getting over it is impossible. Parenthood is that topic.

READ ALSO: How Scrambled Eggs Made my Marriage Sexy

Full disclosure, I had been ready to get pregnant since our first wedding anniversary but the Big Guy was really enjoying our time as a married couple. I come from a big family so wanting to be a mom was a given for me. He comes from a small family and, to tell the truth, I think he was lukewarm to the idea of little people. By about year three, I could feel my biological clock ticking. My brother had kids and I wanted babies too. Still, the Big Guy was slightly above lukewarm.

I was starting to panic. Not about having babies at that moment but whether or not he wanted to have them ever. That was a real problem for me because some hard decisions were going to have to be made. I knew I wanted children. Full stop. I also knew that if he didn’t, that’s not something that you can force someone into. What if I couldn’t live without being a mother and he couldn’t live with being a father? Was I going to have to divorce the man I was completely in love with and who loved me more than anyone else ever had? I was hiding from my own reality because I didn’t want to face it.

One day during year four, I just broke down and had the hard discussion, laid it all out on the table. Never have I been so afraid to tell anyone anything in my entire life because it really was a life-changing conversation. I didn’t make any threats. It wasn’t an ultimatum. But we had to face the obvious and have the conversation, I wanted to be the mother of his children. That wasn’t negotiable and I wasn’t going to change my mind. I knew I would feel like something was missing if I just gave up on that dream. I also told him that there was no way that I would ever ask him to be a father if he didn’t want it 100% because then he’d be miserable and we’d all suffer.

My brain knew that the only option if we couldn’t come to an agreement that we were both comfortable with, was divorce. Divorcing someone who you love and loves you back in a world where it is so hard to find that sounds ridiculous, I know, but what are your options when you can’t agree on something so huge? We had the talk and got it all out in the open. We both cried because it was hard and afterward, we laid in each other’s arms emotionally exhausted 20 somethings wishing it would all just not be an issue. But we both knew the problem wasn’t going anywhere.

READ ALSO: How to Train a Husband

It wasn’t that he adamantly didn’t want children. It was that he had never had an opinion one way or the other and his partner in the previous long-term relationship prior to me was adamant that she did not want children…ever. So he had reconciled himself to the fact that he would never be a father. Then he fell in love and married a Catholic, Mexican from a family of 8.

After a couple weeks, we don’t take the heavy questions lightly, he told me that after thinking about it for a while, he was prepared to plan to plan to have a baby. He wasn’t ready right that moment at 27 to become a father but babies were definitely on the table. We were both relieved and finally, on the same page. Then, a New Orleans long weekend away to celebrate our anniversary changed everything.

I won’t lie, I still wasn’t sure that he was 100% onboard but I could see him warming up to the idea. He started spending more time with our nieces and nephews and I could see a shift from holding a baby like it was a tiny bomb to cuddling the baby and smiling, feeling the joy that all newborns in your arm bring. We had time. But it had to be discussed.

So if you want to know how to save your marriage, this is my advice.

My point is that hard discussions have to be had for there to be honesty and trust in a marriage. You can’t avoid the hard things. They have to be faced head-on, together. These are the moments that make or break a marriage.

You’re probably wondering, why didn’t these 2 discuss their position on babies before getting married? Fair question. The only answer I have for you; we were in college when we got engaged after 4 months of dating. Our heads were not in charge of the situation. It was all heart. We were young and very much in love. I think we were both just taking it for granted that the other person wanted what we wanted. We hadn’t known each other long enough to know how different our experiences growing up were.

I’ve learned from my mistakes though. I’ll make sure that my girls have these conversations before they are married to their best friend and 4 years deep into building a life together. We were lucky it worked out. More than lucky, we are blessed that we were willing to face it together and talk it out and figure out together what we wanted out of our marriage.

What’s the biggest marriage challenge that you’ve faced as a couple?

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love is, Difference between Love, like and Infatuation

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to explain sex to my girls but what about how to know the difference between love, like and infatuation? It’s actually a very important discussion to have with your kids but how many parents actually have it? I’ve decided that honesty is the best thing to do. I want open dialogues with them about everything.

How many times have you been in love? Like really in love. I thought I was “in love” about 3 times before I actually was. You see, the problem was that I didn’t know what real love was so I kept thinking I was in love but really it was a crush, infatuation, and love but not true, unconditional, forever love. But each time it felt like “love” until I pulled my head out of the love fog and could see it for what it really was.

There was lots of casual dating but each “love” was necessary for the learning curve. If I hadn’t experienced each time I thought I was “in love” I wouldn’t have had any barometer by which to measure when the real thing happened.

Don’t get me wrong, they all had their purpose and I wouldn’t trade any of the experience. Our experiences make us into who we are and if it weren’t for all of those false love alarms, I never would have known when I stumbled backwards into a really good guy and a healthy relationship.

What is the Difference between Love, Like and Infatuation?

Remember when you were in high school, maybe even college, and you fell in love and it was all consuming and insatiable? It was all you could think about and all you cared about. Anytime day or night, all you wanted was to be with that other person. You would have crawled inside of that person and lived if it were possible. Making love was truly an other worldly experience. You could not satisfy your craving for that person.

Remember those days when you were so in love that it hurt your stomach? When seeing that person was the most important part of your day? Remember thinking to yourself, or maybe even saying it out loud, I would die for you? And you meant it. If someone walked into the room and it came down to you and him, you would surely jump in front of that bullet because you loved him so hard that if he died life wouldn’t be worth living any ways, so why not sacrifice your life for his?

Were we stupid? Or was our baby brains just too consumed and overwhelmed by feeling love for someone other than our parents and complicated by all of those hormones that we just couldn’t process it? We knew our parents loved us and they would take a bullet for us so isn’t it logical that we take a bullet for the person who we love beyond all reason and comprehension? I used to think so.

I was one of “those” girls. I loved being in love. I loved loving someone and I loved the thought of someone loving me. Someone wanting me. Wanting to possess me. Someone not being able to live without me. It thrilled me. I believed that was the measure of true love. Someone willing to die for me. Anything less was bullshit. But as most teenagers, I was delusional. I saw undying devotion in the simplest of tasks. He pulled the chair out for me and cupped my face when he kissed me. He must love me. He surprised me with a single rose and my favorite candy at the drive-in, this must be “IT”. Wow, it’s easy to believe bullshit when you’ve never had the real thing, isn’t it?

Anyways, that passion was electric. It was the kind of “love” that had you feeling manic all the time. Coming from an actual person diagnosed with bipolar, that is saying something. I lived in that high to the exclusion of all else. Nothing else mattered and that was the measure of “real love” to me, for a very long time. I thought if it wasn’t all consuming and in crisis and threatened, it couldn’t be the real thing because the real thing was messy and it f*cked you both up beyond all recognition because that passion fire burns hot and high and hard, all.the.time. What I didn’t realize it that it burns out and leaves you both in a pile of ashes. If it was really  intense, it could almost kill you both. But, adult me realizes that is crazy. I don’t want love that kills me. That’s poison.

I learned to live on that high. I craved it as much as I craved love. Then I fell in real love and I realized what I was doing up until then, was accepting what I had been taught to believe was love from the dysfunctional example of my parents and from movies. I believed that for it to be “love” it had to be “go hard or go home” at all times because love is work and if you love someone, you have to be willing to love them so hard that it might kill them and you have to be willing to die for them. I was a child and when you are a child, the world works in absolutes but as I grew up, I realized that real love doesn’t live in absolutes. It thrives in the grey area.

How important is it to distinguish the difference between love, like and infatuation?

For me, it wasn’t about dying for someone or killing for them. It was about being willing to live for them. Not in the “everything I do is for you” way like in all of those sappy love songs that we swoon over when we are kids. I mean in the “I love you so much that I want as many days on this earth as I can get with you” way.

In the way that makes the stupid shit you’re doing fall away and life get clear. When I met my husband, I was a hot mess, in every sense of the word. I wasn’t even living my own life. I was living other people’s expectations and I was basing my happiness on someone else. Then I met the Big Guy. He put me first (maybe for the first time I had ever been first in my life) and my thinking shifted. I no longer had to be on the defensive. I didn’t have to be the aggressor. I just had to be me.

Suddenly, I didn’t want to throw up every morsel of food that went into my mouth. I wanted to live and my 10-year slow suicide by anorexia plan wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to live and I didn’t want him to know just how dysfunctional I really was. So, I started working towards getting better. I got help.

He saw the messed up ugly side of me almost immediately. I was an undiagnosed manic bipolar, anorexic with body dysmorphia and a self-medicating drinking problem. I was fun, then I was raging, mean and completely irrational. It was pretty hard to hide from anyone who was paying attention.

I had developed a bad habit of pushing anyone who wanted to get close to me away. I had long passed the wanting to crawl inside of someone phase. I was selfish and borderline and convinced that I was unlovable because up to that point, I had done everything right and none of it ever worked. I never passed quality control. I gave up and resigned myself to being detached. I basked in the position of being wanted, even if it was all surface.

Then the Big Guy came along and while his initial intention was to purely to hook up. We ended up talking all night after a couple ghosting friends left me stranded at a party at his house. Somewhere between our first disinterested meeting and that next morning, we connected on a cellular level without even trying. In that moment, we became each other’s person.

It wasn’t love at first sight. I don’t even think we were each other’s types. We would have never even have met one another other than a new friend I had met in my LSAT class who happened to grow up with this tall, gangly alt guy with black fingernails and a heart only rivaled by the size of his smile. It took a couple more weeks before we worked out the kinks. Falling head over heels doesn’t feel like what you expect it to. It sort of sneaks up on you and you suddenly realize that this person gives you hope and loves you unconditionally, through the ugly and the hard and the messy and the complicated and they never think of leaving because it’s not an option that even enters their mind or yours. You realize that you can’t imagine a life that doesn’t include seeing this person’s face every morning. , kissing them before bed each night, seeing them in the faces of your children. That is love. It’s a light that never goes out because you don’t let it. You both work at it. You keep it alive, even when it’s sick and sad. You love it back to life.

You realize that you can’t imagine a life that doesn’t include seeing this person’s face every morning, kissing them before bed each night, seeing them in the faces of your children. That is love. It’s a light that never goes out because you don’t let it. You both work at it. You keep it alive, even when it’s sick and sad. You love it back to life.

Maybe real true love isn’t what they write about in the story books or songs. Maybe it is sometimes. I want my girls to know that love can look like a million different things. What’s important is how it makes you feel when you’re with that person. It isn’t big and bold, though sometimes it is, it’s also quiet and steady and safe. It’s feeling happy just being still and not needing an escape plan or contingency plan. It’s not about being willing to die for someone, it’s being willing to work your ass off to live as long as humanly possible to share every day with your best friend.

The person you love as much as you love yourself. The person who gave you the children who you would take the bullet for because it’s the legacy of your love; the thing the 2 of you created. Real love is the kind that makes you want to risk everything to make the world better than you left it because it’s what he deserves. That’s love.

The real difference between love, like and infatuation is that when you find real love…that person can satisfy all of those things; love, like and lust.

How will you teach your kids to know the difference between love, like and infatuation?

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how to explain where babies come from, where babies come from, having the talk with children, explaining sex, how to feel sexy after having a baby, new mom, marriage, pregnancy. feeling sexy after baby, vaginal dryness

Have you had “the talk” with your children yet? At what age did you decide it was time to have that conversation? It’s a big milestone in motherhood and childhood. Admittedly, it’s awkward and weird explaining to your baby where babies come from but if you don’t do it, someone else will or they’ll figure it out as it’s happening, probably too soon with someone who just wants to have sex.

I consider myself a little bit crunchy. I always have. I’ve always been a free thinker; open-minded, the spread love and equality sort. I love the earth and I think at the root, most people are good. I wear patchouli so that’s confirmation, right?

But the other day when I told the Big Guy that I thought we’re pretty hippie in our parenting ideology, he gave me the blank stare. I get it, I’ve been known to hover. But then it hit me, yes, hell yes… I have problems physically letting go of my children but I’m getting better but it’s not about me, it’s about them, this parenting thing.

I’ve always encouraged my girls to be free-range thinkers. I talk to them like people and we have open dialogues about anything they want to talk about from sex to politics and even such controversial topics as which is better…unicorns or mermaids. The point is everything we say and don’t say to our children counts.

I’m sure some people think I’m too free with my girls but I want to raise educated women who can think for themselves, no approval needed, from anyone. Radical concept, right?

My daughters are no longer toddlers. My oldest just turned 12-years-old and my youngest daughter just turned 10-years-old. Things are changing at a furiously fast pace, as they do during childhood. The tween and teen years are a whole different set of firsts.

I’ve been trying to do my due diligence as a tween mom, though. We’ve been discussing birth control and healthy/unhealthy relationships for a while now. Puberty and where babies come from became topics of discussion during preschool and I’ve just been elaborating and filling in the gaps ever since. The older you get, the more you know.

I’ve always told my children the facts as they’ve asked and let one moment lead to the next teachable moment. In fact, once the puberty conversation was done and elaborated upon and extrapolated into infinity, then we moved on to sex (for the 12-year-old). Though it was just the basics about sex, the mechanics of basic insert, ejaculate and consummate sex, she knows how babies happen.

Explaining where babies come from to your child but not birth control is not enough.

We need to explain everything. Turning children loose into the world with just that tiny amount of information is like giving a kid a loaded gun, teaching them how to shoot but not explaining that they could kill someone.

That’s why I’ve also touched on the healthy/unhealthy relationship conversation. I’ve explained that sex between two people who love each other and are mature enough to handle all of the possible outcomes is a beautiful thing. But, I’ve also explained the hard fact that just because you have sex with someone, that doesn’t always mean they love you. It could just mean that they like having sex with you and that’s okay if that’s all you both want.

I don’t want my girls to expect love in exchange for sex because that is not how it works. I think they should be prepared for that. I want them to decide when, where, why and how sex happens for them. I don’t want it to be something they do under pressure or out of some sort of expectation or obligation. You can’t put a timeline on when you are ready. You know because you know yourself better than anyone else.

My girls know where babies come from, how they get there, how they are born and (in theory) what a big responsibility babies are once they are born. Of course, I don’t think anyone fully understands that last one until the baby is in your arms.

My girls are young but they know what birth control is and that it is a woman’s right to choose; who she loves, who/when/if she has sex with and if/when she will become a mother because we are the masters of our own bodies but they also know that we must respect ourselves and our bodies.

We’ve been having the conversations about their bodies since they were toddlers. I’ve taught them that their bodies are beautiful and wonderful. I’m teaching them that sex is not shameful or bad. It’s beautiful and wonderful and babies are miracles. But I want them to know that the sex doesn’t have to mean a baby and babies shouldn’t happen until you are mature enough and ready to start a family.

Becoming pregnant shouldn’t feel like a punishment for doing something that is so natural. A baby should be something you want and try for. A baby should come from love and intention, not on accident. The only way any of this happens is if we have those awkward, uncomfortable conversations with our kids so that they can become free-range thinkers and decide for themselves.

I love the videos by Amaze.org because they are made for 10 to 14-year-olds. It’s not pornographic or above their head. AMAZE  is a collaboration between 3 expert organizations in the field of sex education: Advocates for Youth, Answer, and Youth Tech Health. They produce engaging sex education videos that cover the “mechanics” (e.g., puberty) and also more complex topics (relationships, gender identity, consent, etc.). AMAZE wants to help empower parents to be the primary sexuality educators of their kids – the goal of the videos is to inform and spark a conversation. I’m using the videos as a tool to add visual explanation and levity to an otherwise serious conversation.

If you’d like access to these tools to help you explain puberty, sex, where babies come from, contraception and much more like the @AMAZEparents Facebook page (which includes video shares as well as fantastic curated content related to sex ed, health, etc.) because the more information we have the less weird these very important conversations have to be.

How did you or do you plan to explain where babies come from to your child?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with Amaze.org but all opinions about how to explain where babies come from are my own.

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Netflix, cheater, cheating, binge-worthy shows

Are you a cheater? Have you ever told the person that you love the most a lie to satisfy your own id? I think most of us have, right? At first you think, who’s it going to hurt. Don’t ask; don’t tell. More like take the junk to the grave. If you’re going to cheat, the least you can do is keep it to yourself. Telling your partner that you’ve cheated is not going to help them at all. You did the crime, now do the time. Live with your guilt.

You see, this is why the Big Guy and I can’t ever do the Netflix and chill thing. He is all about the chill part but not about the Netflix binge part. I’m a closer. I like to pick my show and then binge it to the end. I am nothing if not committed to finishing my shows. So sometimes, I have to cheat.

He knows I do it. We don’t discuss it. It’s not a big deal. We are open about it. I am just not built to be a once-in-awhile show watcher. We’ve actually just given up trying because it’s just too frustrating and someone always gets hurt so we’ve decided it’s just easier if he does him and I do me.

Netflix, cheater, cheating, binge-worthy shows

For example, we started watching One Day at a Time Together but he likes to savor the moments and draw out the season. I am more of a wham! Bam! Thank you ma’am! Kind of a gal so he falls asleep and I watch until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Needless to say, I finished the series in a weekend and he still hasn’t caught up. It really was THAT good.

Then there was A Series of Unfortunate Events that we just couldn’t agree on a time to watch it so I watched it with the girls and he watched it while we were at ballet. We all agreed that the show was definitely cheat worthy because we all loved it.

Netflix, cheater, cheating, binge-worthy shows

But then there are shows like the Santa Clarita Diet that we all must watch together. It’s the kind of show that brings us back together and reminds us of why we fell in love in the first place, because we just get each other completely.

I’d definitely hide a body for him and I’m pretty sure he’d do just about anything in his power to keep me from turning into a zombie. I mean, I’m pretty difficult just when I’m hangry. I’d never cheat on him by watching the Santa Clarita Diet alone.

Netflix, cheater, cheating, binge-worthy shows

 

But then again, I won’t lie, when House of Cards returns this May, I won’t even pretend that I’m not doing it. The simple fact is that I will be cheating my way through it within a weekend. But don’t feel too bad for the Big Guy, I’ll be doing the Netflixing but we’ll be doing the chillin’ together. He’s the only one I ever want to Netflix and Chill with. I mean come on, I’m a show cheater not a real one.

What Netflix show can you not help but cheating and watching ahead on? Come on you can tell me, I won’t tell anyone.

Disclosure: This post was not compensated though I am a member of the Stream Team. All opinions and binge watching habits are my own.

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love in marriage, Love, marriage, Valentine's Day, Big Guy

Do you think love in a marriage can be as passionate as love before marriage? Like head over heels, “I would live forever just to be by you” love? “I love you so damn much that I want to be ghosts with you” love? The kind of love in a marriage that you never want to let go of?

The kind of love in a marriage that makes you brave.

I’m not usually a sappy person here, well, not too often anyway, but this Valentine’s Day something happened. I’ve been changing a lot of things in my life lately but one thing hasn’t changed. The Big Guy has always been my rock; my constant.

The Big Guy is what I affectionately call my husband here on this blog. If you’ve been a long-time reader, you know it’s because he is 6’5” not because I think he’s God, though many of you have asked me that before. He really is a big guy and we have big kids but with him, its not just his stature. He laughs big, he smiles big, he loves big, he’s just a big personality and anyone who has met him can attest to that.

Even living with all this bigness all the time, it truly is the little things that count with us and he gets that. He’s always gotten that and that’s one of the reasons I adore him so completely.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I know many of you think it’s just a Hallmark holiday and in many ways, it is. I was never big on the holiday because, in previous relationships, it just felt like an inevitable trap to be let down. I’d get my hopes up and things would never measure up. Then I met my husband and ever since that first Valentine’s Day, he’s always made it more than special.

The kind of love in a marriage that makes you forget reason.

You see, we got engaged on January 23, 1998. Random weird time to get engaged right? Especially since we had only been dating for 4 months at the time. I was completely speechless when he asked me in the middle of a club. There was no ring, there was no drop to your knee It was him screaming over the music and me shocked. It felt impetuous. I wasn’t so sure if it was him or all the alcohol he had been drinking that was asking me to spend the rest of my life with him so it took me a couple weeks to give him an answer. Sounds terrible, right? Wrong.

When I called my sister to tell her what this crazy guy at university has just done, she said, “Oh yeah. Weird, I thought he was waiting until Valentine’s day. He told us at Thanksgiving that he was going to ask.” Wait! What? November????

Apparently, the proposal was not impetuous, only the delivery. He had been planning for months, though he still didn’t have a ring. He told them he knew from the moment we met that I was his soulmate. To be honest, after being burned by the previous few guys I had dated, I was kind of jaded on the whole “soulmate” thing. Not, him. Not my Big Guy.

Apparently, he was a little nervous and it just popped out of his mouth on the dance floor, a couple weeks early. That’s why there was no ring.  Maybe I was accidentally doing some sort of fertility/marry me dance that I didn’t even realize I was doing and my female wiles overtook him. All I know is the sweetest man I had ever met (and barely knew) asked me to marry him. My answer? I love you and then I casually walked away as if he’s just asked me if I wanted a beer.

We both pretended it didn’t happen. Then a week or so later while sitting across the computer lab he emailed me a note that read, “so are you ever going to answer me?”

Yikes, he hadn’t been that drunk. I told him I didn’t think he was serious and I needed to think about it because it was a serious question. It wasn’t like, do you want fries with your burger. It was the biggest question of my life.

Do you love me enough to spend the rest of your life with me?

Finally, I answered. It was really simple, I asked myself, can you live the rest of your life without this man in it? My answer was quick and all consuming, no. After knowing him, I couldn’t see my life playing out with anyone else. It depressed me to think of not seeing him every day or hearing that big crazy laugh or seeing that big beautiful smile so I said, “Hell, yes!”

I got an engagement ring for Valentine’s Day that year. That’s why Valentine’s Day is special to me. Not because of the holiday per se but because it was supposed to be the day the Big Guy asked me to be his wife but he was just so damn eager that he couldn’t wait. Awwww, right?

He’s always done Valentine’s Day big. He pulls out all the stops. But this year I didn’t want a big elaborate gift. I wanted something more personal. I wanted him. I wanted his love in a tangible form. Sometimes love in a marriage becomes quieter and more of a hum than a roar. I wanted a roar.

I wanted a playlist (modern day mixtape), a hand-written note from him (which ended up being the sweetest Facebook status ever) and I didn’t want to cook dinner. Other than that, I just wanted to be together. That’s exactly what I got.

love in a marriage, Love, relationships, marriage, Valentine's Day, Big Guy

Needless to say, I spent most of yesterday crying happy tears because he kept sucker punching me with all the feels. It was glorious. Proof that love in a marriage can sweep you off your feet just as much as any new, shiny relationship.

The kind of love in a marriage that makes you want to have babies just so there are more people like him in the world.

Every word was like salve to my soul. He is not a big talker. He’s more of a do-er. He shows me he loves me in his actions every single day. He’s the kind of guy who makes the scrambled eggs on school mornings so you can have a break. He’s the kind of guy who gives you the last bite of his sandwich because you’re still hungry, even if so is he. But I’m a writer and sometimes I want words and wow, his words were everything.

The playlist spoke to me in another way. It spoke to my heart with every lyric. Each song was more perfect than the last. It said everything I needed to hear.

You know how when you are young and dating you’re always wondering, just a little bit, where you stand in the relationship? How he really feels? Well, the Big Guy laid it all on the table and damn.

Love, relationships, marriage, Valentine's Day, Big Guy

The kind of love that leaves you speechless.

I don’t know how you spent Valentine’s Day but I hope it was amazing. I don’t mean fireworks, symphonies and diamonds (those things are nice) but amazing in that at the end of the day, you knew you were loved by someone for just being you. Unconditional, all-accepting love is something I never knew in my life until the Big Guy and nothing compares. No gift can compare 100% reciprocated, unconditional and equal love.

I don’t know if there are any words that can convey to him how much his words meant to me but I hope he knows that I couldn’t imagine spending my life loving anyone else. I was scared when he asked me to marry him because it was so soon in our relationship but every day, I thank God the universe that he chose me.

What is the one thing your partner did to show you that love in marriage could be just as passionate as when you were single?

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marriage sexy, marriage, married sex, relationships, parenting

Or as I like to say, the truest marriage story ever told.

Marriage is different for every single couple. We all have these preconceived notions of what a marriage should look like based on what we experienced within in our own family.

For me, my parents’ marriage looked like two people who loved each other, except for when they didn’t. There was a lot of physical attraction and affection but there were definite gender roles. There was no shortage of PDA in our house but they were not equals.

My dad was in charge and my mom was slightly above the children in her social standing within the family. He took care of her and she liked that but the price of being taken care of was being treated like a dependent instead of a partner. I knew then that was not what I wanted out of a marriage. I wanted a strong man who could handle a strong woman. I wanted us to be in life together.

My dad took care of the outside things like going to a job and providing for us, barbecuing, taking care of the cars and the lawn. My mom took care of everything inside the house, including the six children and all the household chores, grocery shopping, kissing booboos and cooking. Never did the two roles meet. That’s not how my marriage is.at.all.

My marriage is sexy.

Our marriage is one of partners. I know everybody says it, but my husband really has been my best friend since college. We do what we are good at. Sometimes we do fall into those traditional roles. My dad taught me how to change the oil and my tires but I haven’t since I met my husband. I used to mow the lawn but my husband does to so mostly, I let him do it. Of course, I don’t see anyone fist fighting the cleaning fairy to do the dishes up in this mother but if I ask, the Big Guy always jumps in and loads the dishwasher. And the man is a clothes washing beast on the weekends. Folding? No, that’s another story.

But overall we both do whatever needs to be done. But I do work from home so it’s always just been assumed, by both of us, that I will do the drop offs, pick-ups and volunteering. I pack the lunches and make most of the meals. Though he is always willing to make dinner on the weekends and any night the girls and I are stuck late at ballet. To be honest, he is a much better cook than me.

My husband is pretty freaking awesome. I mean he’s married to me and he’s never asked me to be anything less than who I am and believe me, I am a handful. He’s my biggest cheerleader and my partner in this crime we call parenting. But he did something the other morning that took him to a next level.  Yes, the man just leveled up on his husband game. I didn’t even think it was possible. I mean, if you ever talk to my mom she will tell you, he is a damn good man.

In one small chore for husbands, one giant leap for husband-kind he became the sexiest man alive over breakfast on Tuesday. He did something so small but so huge that I can’t believe every husband hasn’t offered to do it. If they only knew the benefits they would reap, there would be an epidemic of feminist men.

Firstly, let me preface this by saying that last week, out of the blue for the first time in 7 years of having children in school, he offered to start dropping the girls at school on the regular. He does it when I need him to but he offered to do it daily. For no reason.

This instantly made marriage sexy beyond belief.

First, I was shocked. Then I assumed that he must be having an affair and then I was so giddy to know that he was going to get them to school that I convinced myself I could forgive the affair. ( Babe, if you are reading this….I’m just kidding, you know the rules.) That means I no longer have to argue with them about being late (they don’t pull that shit with him), I don’t stress out for the first hour of my day AND I gained an extra hour to my day. It’s brilliant and I’m not going to lie, he got my juices flowing with this out of the blue act of kindness.

I mean, he’s thoughtful and sweet and caring and all those other things but he’s human. Both of us always consider the other one but no one is going out of their way to eliminate the normal day-to-day minutia.

marriage sexy, marriage, married sex, relationships, parentingThen, on Tuesday, he blew my mind. He got up, already going to give them a ride to school, and he made them breakfast. BOOM! What? I almost fell over dead because I didn’t even ask him to do it. There he was, like a freaking sexy angel, making the girls scrambled eggs. That eliminated the, “What do you want for breakfast” headache, leaving me with only the, “What do you want for lunch,” struggle. I didn’t think it was possible to fall deeper in love with this man but I did. Not going to lie, it took everything in my body, not to throw him on the counter and take him right there. Anyways, apparently, scrambling eggs for kids gets my motor running these days. Remember when it was a nice ass and abs?

Anyways, that ignited something in me and my husband has gone from regular, old “I love you” sexy to hottest mother effer on the planet. I’ve spent all day the last two days trying to figure out how to kick things up to carnival ride status in the bedroom because him making scrambled eggs, more importantly alleviating the need for me to do so, has just made me want to rock his world.

Now, if I could just get the girls to stay out of our bed maybe I could thank him properly for those scrambled eggs.

That’s how scrambled eggs made my marriage sexy, what little thing does your partner do that makes them the sexiest partner alive?

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