Whether it's a high school romance or simply an excuse to get away from the kids, dating is one of the most important things you can do to nurture a relationship. Dating ultimately lays the foundation for a long, healthy, and compassion-filled marriage. How? By compelling you to set aside time for your significant other, listen to what it is they have to say, communicate about everything going on in your lives, and best of all: do something fun together.
Unfortunately, dating is low on the priority list for many couples. It’s hard enough to find an extra hour or two you can spend with your significant other. When you’re raising children, saving up for a house, or paying off student loans (or all of the above), you might even wonder if dating is worth it at all. But dating doesn’t have to be rocket science. It also doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a few proactive measures and ideas, you’ll find yourself rekindling that passion that first incited your relationship.
Make Date Night a Priority
This might not apply to a couple who met only recently, but for the married folk out there, try to make date night a regular part of your schedule. This might mean different things for different couples, as everyone’s schedule is unique. For some, this might mean a formal outing once a month. For others, this might mean spending some quality time alone together a few times a week. Either way, your significant other will be flattered you’re taking time out of your day to do something fun together and show them they matter.
Perhaps you and your significant other have become big-time foodies, movie junkies, or local bowling champions. Whatever the case, try to come up with a plan of what is you’ll be doing on date night, and how frequently you’ll be doing it. By factoring date night into your budget ahead of time, you’ll always be prepared financially. One great way to come up with money for date night is automating your savings. Mobile banking apps like Chime can save a portion of your paycheck without you ever needing to transfer money around. Once you’ve accounted for your finances, you can consider what date ideas best suit your budget.
Try Some Cheap Date Ideas
The Top 7 Truths You Need to Know About Marriage
Tomorrow, my husband and I will celebrate seven years of marriage.
In many ways, I know it is quite a feat because let's face it: Those people who say that marriage is hard, well, they're right. It is hard. So damn hard.
Don't get me wrong. It's also beautiful. Having a best friend, a partner, a cheerleader to walk through life with is a magical thing. I'm truly thankful that I got to marry the man I did and that he is the best partner I could ask for.
Still, marriage isn't always a dance down the aisle or a romantic stroll on a perfect-temperature day. It's exhausting. It's boring sometimes. It's aggravating. And the struggles go well beyond dirty socks on the floor or who is taking out the trash. Life is hard. Love is hard. Staying committed is hard sometimes.
Over the years, we've learned a lot about life as we've grown up together. We've learned about mortgage rates and taxes. We've learned about taking care of furnaces and that water heaters are freaking expensive.
And most of all, we've learned that marriage isn't always what it seems like in the movies.
Here are seven things we've learned in the past seven years of marriage.
1. Chores can ruin a relationship.
When we first got married, we thought money would be the external force to come between us. So many women's magazines, experts, and married couple warn about how money fights can get fierce.
For us, though, we learned very quickly that there was another danger lurking: chores. With us both working full-time jobs, dividing and conquering the mundane drudgery of adult life threatened to overpower our connection so many times. We argued, fought, cried, and swore over what we both deemed an unfair splitting of the household duties. We were in uncharted territory, having both lived at home before moving in together. We didn't have a system or a plan.
It took a few years for us to come up with a system we were both happy with. I think for couples getting ready to move in together or get married, my best advice is: Talk now about how you will divide regular chores. Don't assume you will both merrily do your part without having to discuss it because this can lead to resentment and really wicked fights.
2. Celebrate the small gestures.
Movies, books, and even social media can make us feel like romance is about the big gestures. Diamonds, roses, romantic getaways--these things are all wonderful.
But they also cost a lot of money and especially early on in our marriage, that just wasn't a luxury we could afford.
I've learned in seven years of marriage, though, that romance isn't always about Instagram-worthy gestures. Sometimes it's about the really small gestures. My husband stopping to get me some Starbucks after work as a surprise, and remembering exactly how I like my iced coffee. A simple dinner in the air fryer and some time across from each other at our dinner table after a long, hard week. A random kiss in the middle of a cut scene in his video game, or pausing my Netflix show just to tell him I love him. These are the real romantic moments of married life. And these are the moments that are free but also mean so much.
3. Everyone is annoying to live with if you give them long enough.
I don't care who you are--you have annoying habits. And so does your spouse.
Chad and I are super close, and we knew each other for a long time before we got married. Still, living with someone, you really to get to know each other, good and bad.
I think all married couples go through stages of annoyance. There are things I wish I could change about my husband, and vice versa. Not big things, just little annoying habits. But I've come to learn that marriage isn't about loving the other person for the good things. It's about loving them for the bad things, too. It's about accepting each other for who you are and realizing that neither of you are perfect.
4. It can't always be 50/50.
Chad and I try to run our marriage on the 50/50 principle. However, we've come to realize that the 50/50 model doesn't always work because life isn't always fair. There are times when he's struggling, and I need to give more. There are times when I'm struggling, and he needs to give more.
Marriage is sometimes about picking up the slack for your partner so the team can keep moving forward. It's about doing dishes for him when he's working a ton of overtime, and it's about helping with the laundry for me when I'm having a stressful week.
5. You have to find the energy to spend time to together.
One of the biggest struggles of married life (and adult life) is being tired. Truly.
Working, taking care of a household, and managing our various roles is tiring. It's easy to slack on spending time with each other, on putting in effort to make sure our connection stays strong.
We've learned over the years, though, that you have to push through. When he was working an odd shift last year, that meant getting less sleep so we could see each other. It means that when we come home and are so tired, we just want to go our separate ways and rest, we put in the effort to find energy to hang out.
Marriage is work. Building a connection is work. You have to be able to put in the time.
6. Support each others' hobbies.
Maintaining separate identities is important in a marriage. Chad and I don't share any mutual hobbies, but we've learned that's okay. Having time to work on our own hobbies is healthy and has helped us stay happy together. Most of all, we've learned that supporting each other in our separate endeavors has helped us appreciate who we are together.
Married life doesn't have to be about doing everything together. We've found happiness as a couple by appreciating our differences and supporting each other's interests.
7. Laughter really does improve a relationship.
I've written this in so many articles because it's the biggest truth I've come to learn. The key to a happy, successful marriage, in my opinion, is being able to laugh together. It's about not taking marriage too seriously or taking each other too seriously. It's about being able to joke, to laugh, to play, to be goofy together. It's about cracking a smile when life starts to get hard. It's about making each other truly laugh when life makes you want to cry.
Having someone beside you who can make you smile through even the hardest times is when connections are strengthened.
I want to know what you've learned from marriage. Tell me in the comments below!
Every Love Story Is Spotlight-Worthy
Over the past three and a half years of my writing journey, I've been fortunate to meet so many people in person and online. I've had so many wonderful women join me in celebrating real, genuine love stories. Along the way, I've come to realize that so many of us don't realize one thing: Every single one of our love stories is magical and novel-worthy.
That's not to say our relationships are perfect. Far from it. If you know my husband and me, you know we fight a lot. We are often caught in the grocery store in a heated battle about snacks or ribs or something equally as ridiculous. We struggle with adulting, and we sometimes have different visions for our lives.
Our life is also far from glamorous. Most weeks, we spend our evenings watching Netflix, playing video games, and eating the simplest foods we can microwave because we're just too lazy to cook anything. Date nights usually involve staying in or hanging with our mastiff, Henry. Candles, rose petals, and fancy getaways just aren't in the cards for us right now.
When I started writing love stories, I knew I wanted to see my own love story in the pages of books. I wanted to read about realistic couples who went on simple dates, who dealt with budget issues, and who didn't always have glamorous lifestyles. Sure, it's fun to read about the alphas who can whisk away their women to one-of-a-kind adventures. But for some of us, that's just not reality. I wanted to write love stories that showcase reality... and prove that love of all kinds can be beautiful.
Along the way, so many of you have joined in my vision and shared stories of your own journey to love. The thing I've come to learn is this: So many of us have similar love stories, similar experiences with married life, and similar struggles.
So while it can be easy to discount your own love story and fret about how it pales in comparison to the sexy heroines and heros of romance novels, I think the message is that you have to celebrate your own reality. You have to embrace the journey you are on when it comes to love, no matter what stage you are at.
Whether you're still searching for "the one" or you've found him or her, I think we all need to realize that every single love story is beautiful. It's worth celebrating. It isn't about the size of the ring, the glamour of the dates, or the perfect moments you collect. Sometimes what makes a love story magical are the struggles, the trials, and the fact that even when things are falling apart around you, one look from your person makes you feel like it's all going to be okay. It's about how you love each other even when you're both sweaty and your makeups melting from a broken air conditioner and 100 degree weather. The beauty of love happens in all of the little moments that don't make it onto the big screen in Hollywood--the simple dinners, the memories, the inside jokes, the play.
I am so glad you are all here to share in your journeys to love, no matter what that looks like. I'm so glad we have a place we can be candid about what love and marriage look like.
Most of all, I'm so thankful that I'm not alone in believing that all love stories are beautiful, noteworthy, and magical in their own way.
I hope this week you can think about the magic of your own journey to love, no matter what that looks like. I'd love to hear about your own love, too, so feel free to hit comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.
Here's How to Spark the Romance on a Budget
When you're young, you picture married life or dating life as an adult to be this magical whirlwind of an experience. There will be nightly surprises, red roses, enough candles to start a forest fire if you're not careful, and frequent trips to private islands.
And then you grow up and realize: So much of that just doesn't happen.
Adult life is hard and exhausting. Love as an adult isn't the thing the movies make it out to be. It's a daily struggle to battle the drudgery of adult life, beat exhaustion, and find enough energy to spend time together. And those private islands? Well, for most of our budgets, those are few and far between.
So how do you keep the spark alive when you can barely keep yourself alive some days? How do you keep the romance, the unexpected in your relationship when you're living a paycheck to paycheck kind of existence?
After being with my husband for 18 years and being married for a total of 7 of those years, I've discovered that it can be done. It just takes some effort, some creativity, and some willpower. Here are our 4 tips for keeping the spark alive in a relationship, even if you're on a budget.
1. Groupon has affordable date options
Recently, I realized Chad and I hadn't done anything new or special in a long time. Still, we were trying to save money, so a random weekend getaway wasn't really in the cards.
Enter Groupon. Especially when they have a sale, they have such great deals on local or semi-local adventures. I was able to get us a brewery tour for $26 total for the two of us. The brewery was a 2-hour drive, so close enough to not be too expensive or taxing but far enough away to be something new. We spent the day wandering around the quaint and adorable vineyard, Chad drank a lot of beer, and we just had a good time focusing on each other.
Groupon is a great place to find brand-new adventures that you've never done. It isn't always about what you're doing, either--sometimes it's just the fact that it's a new experience that can bring back the spark and the memories.
2. Think Local For New Adventures
You don't have to venture far to find new things to try. Is there a new restaurant in town you've been wanting to try? Or are there menu items that usually scare your predictable tastes at your local haunts? How about a new ice cream stand or a park nearby you've never been to?
If you look, there are probably places you've overlooked in your own hometown. Scope out newspapers for upcoming events that you can explore together, or venture into a new business.
One of our favorite dates was on a winter day when the whole town was shut down. We walked up to our favorite Chinese restaurant and saw a consignment shop we'd never been in. We've walked past it hundreds of times, but never took the time to stop by. We spent an hour browsing relics from the past and laughing about what we could buy. That will always be one of my favorite days because it was simple, spontaneous, and just about us being together.
Don't be afraid to search your own hometown for new experiences.
3. Stay Home for True Date Savings
You don't even have to leave the house to reignite the spark...and no, I'm not saying you have to whip out the lingerie for this one. Sometimes it's just about breaking the routine. Try a new recipe together from a different country. Do the shopping for the ingredients together, the meal prep, and of course, the eating, together.
Stay up later than normal and go stargazing on your back porch. A cheap bottle of wine, some stars, and some good conversation might just be the reconnect you need.
Do a no-tech night where you put away all technology and spend time together. Pull out an old school board game and start your own competition.
4. Remember What It's Really About
I'm a firm believer that extravagance does not equal love. Sometimes the best kind of dates, the ones that can re-spark our connections, are the simplest. Sure, it would be nice to be surprised with a trip to a private island. But when that's not possible, know that you can find ways to reignite the spark without spending a ton of cash.
You just have to remember what romance is really about... it's about having someone beside you in this crazy thing called life who makes you smile, who makes everything a little bit more fun, and who grounds you in the beauty of your reality.
It doesn't take loads of cash, candles, or roses to remind you of that. It just takes some creativity, some dedication, and most of all, time.
Do you have any great date ideas on a budget? How do you keep the spark alive? Post in the comments below. I would love to hear your ideas!
When An Introvert and an Extrovert Fall in Love
From the moment we met, it hasn't been a secret: You're the extrovert, and I'm the introvert.
You're the outgoing guy with the gift of gab who tells stories that are way too long.... but make everyone laugh.
I'm the girl who would rather just listen, observe, and take it all in.
You're not afraid of new social situations, new people, and new adventures.
I'm the one who holds back, who is afraid to go out on a limb, who likes her small, core group of people. I'm the one who frets about social situations while you just go with the flow.
You're the loud to my quiet, the fun-loving to my rational. You're the party to my nerd, the funny to my serious. We are opposites in so many ways.
Yet, I'm so thankful that the introverted, shy girl at the art table found the courage to talk to the rebellious, chatty blond boy across from her. I'm so glad that we didn't let our differences get in the way because looking back, you changed me. You helped me. You made me better.
I know that love is a two-way street. We've both helped each other overcome our shortcomings and grow. We've both contributed to this life we've built together. But today is about how you made me who I am, how you helped me chase my dreams, and how your extroverted nature brought out the best in my introverted self.
You challenge me every single day to laugh a little more and worry a little less. I'm always in my head about what others think or if I'm making a good impression, but you remind me of what matters most. You show me that it's good to be true to yourself and to not be afraid to own that truth. You show me that life is about connections and learning about others and that you don't have to be afraid to do that.
You've pushed me outside of my comfort zone. When I was once a super shy girl afraid of really any interaction with others, you taught me to be confident and to find my outgoing side. It is because of your encouragement that I found enough courage to chase my true dreams of teaching and of being an author. Thanks to you, I've been able to embrace my introverted strengths and share them with others. I've found enough of a voice to project my ideas, my values, and my passions for others to hear.
It is with you by my side that I'm able to talk about my books and to even do a weekly podcast about our lives together. Your gift of gab helps make up for my shortcomings. You bail me out in situations you know I'm not comfortable. You push me to be outgoing when I need to be and you don't let me shy away from situations just because they scare me. You teach me to be brave, to be adventurous, and most of all, to have fun on this crazy journey called life.
In the past few years, I've come out of my shell and found a power in connecting with others. I've realized that it's okay to be extroverted sometimes, even as an introvert. You've helped me find balance.
Above all, you've helped me embrace my quirks and my fears. Your love for me shows me that I am not damaged or broken or less. Even though we're opposites in so many ways, we're the same in the important ways--in our love for each other that has carried us through so much, in our admiration for each other, and in our sense of fun we find together.
So to my extroverted husband, thank you. Thank you for pushing me to be a better version of myself. Thank you for helping me embrace who I am while challenging myself to grow, to change, and to morph into the person I've become. Thank you for being my voice when I can't, and thank you for helping me be my own voice when I can.
Marriage is about sacrifice and it's about learning. I am so glad I get to walk this journey with you, my opposite in so many ways but my soulmate all the same.
I love you.
In the transition from living on your own to living with others, there will be changes that occur as you adjust to sharing a space with someone else. When it comes to sharing a space with your partner, you want to make this next chapter in your relationship one that is smooth and painless. Taking big steps in any relationship come with its own set of challenges, but every milestone is meant to signify the growing strength of your bond and love for eachother. The process of moving in with your partner should be exciting, and there is so much to look forward to. Before you take your first steps, you’ll want to do your research though, and have a few conversations with your new roommate.
The 50/50 Split
In most roommate situations, there is an agreement to split rent, utilities and finances down the middle. When you move in with your partner, you’ll have to decide how you’ll evenly split your bills, rent, and utilities like water, electric, and cable. If you agree to split finances equally with your partner, you want to make sure to pick an apartment or home that you are both comfortable affording as well. Keep this in mind when house hunting, and if you enlist a realtor for help, be sure to be honest about your price range. That way you stay within budget and avoid overspending, and the financial anxiety that comes with it. Also, don’t be afraid to talk openly with your partner about your annual income, any looming debts, and your spending habits, to help determine better delegate how much each of you will contribute to bills and other living expenses. Splitting the bills is a great way to start out, before taking more serious steps in your relationship, and living on a shared income.
Be Open About Expectations
When you are making decisions about moving in, you’ll want to be have honest discussions with your partner about your expectations in your new home. Discuss cleaning habits and preferences to set yourselves up for success. Adjusting to another person’s lifestyle may be one of the biggest challenges you face, and confronting them about issues that are bothering you will be even harder. The key is to approach confrontation with your partner without hostility, and addressing the direct issue that is upsetting you. For example, you might want your partner to wash the dishes more often, but maybe they need a little hint or push to do it. Don’t assume your partners a mind reader, and be patient and respectful during this learning experience for both of you.. You’ll also want to be clear about your preferences surrounding guests and pets. All types of pets can make great companions, but they are also a huge responsibility. When you are sharing a space with your partner, you’ll want to make sure your partner is on board with that level of responsibility before you decide to bring home a furry friend.
The Stuff: Yours, Mine and Ours
With the merging of lifestyles, also comes the merging of your “stuff,” which can be a challenge if you don’t stay organized. Prior to moving in, you’ll want to create a detailed list of belongings that you both have in order to avoid any duplicate furniture and appliances. This will also help you pinpoint what items you could sell to make a little extra money to spend on your new home. Now that you are living together, you’ll also have to discuss what colors and themes you’ll want to introduce into your new home. Take some time to look through catalogues or home decor blogs like this one to give you some ideas and tips on how to style your space to reflect both of your interior tastes. As you slowly bring your home together over a period of time, you might want to invest in a few key pieces like a living room furniture set or a kitchen table that you love, and center the rest of the decor around these pieces. If you don’t want to buy new right away, check out apps like craigslist and community Facebook pages where members sell quality used furnishings at affordable prices.
Prince Charming Doesn't Exist...but That's Okay
From the time you’re a little girl, the image of a fairy-tale marriage clings to your heart, paving the way for absurd expectations later in life. You read stories that talk of happily ever after and grand gestures, and suddenly, it seems like love must meet this standard.
Throughout your teen years, your college years, and beyond, there’s this magical vision of marriage. There’s this sense marriage is about princes and flowers, grand balls and candlelight promises.
Real love, the kind marriages are founded on, require glamorous people and smooth moves. Marriage requires perfect compromise and moments of romance. It’s a life of wedded bliss that begins with the first “I do,” the first bite of wedding cake, the first morning you wake up in each other’s arms. Having high expectations for marriage isn’t a bad thing.
Marriage should make you happy, should fulfill you, should help you achieve your life goals. There’s nothing wrong with holding out for your own version of a fairy-tale marriage. The problem comes, I think, when we let society dictate what a perfect marriage must be.
So many times, I hear women who are upset because their husbands don’t act like the men in the movies or in romance novels. There are no passionate kisses at 6 a.m. or bouquets of roses on a random Tuesday. There are no jets to Aruba on a whim or couture gowns to wear to a fancy club. There are no carriage rides or silver platters. Thus, we feel like our marriage is flawed. It doesn’t meet the standards we’re taught from a young age.
Marriage without this dazzling sense of romance is clearly a failure, right? The problem with the fairy-tale marriage is it lessens our appreciation for what we have. This impossible, unreasonable standard we hold our marriages to can prevent us from seeing the happiness we actually have right within our grasp.
Again, this is not to say marriage should be something you settle for. I believe every woman has the right to pursue her version of the fairy-tale marriage if she chooses. If caviar and romantic trips to Aruba and couture ballgowns make you happy, then find a marriage where this will work.
However, if you don’t necessarily want these elements in your perfect vision of marriage, then don’t feel pressured into wanting them.
At the end of the day, no marriage is flawless. The perfect marriages of television and romance novels are just images and snapshots. They do not capture the true, day-to-day living of a genuine love. Real marriages are forced to weather unromantic storms, tedious routines, and the exhaustion of adult life. Thus, sometimes a trip to a private island isn’t practical. Sometimes lighting a single candle in the bedroom is risky because of a pesky cat and the risk of a fire hazard. Sometimes a gourmet dinner on a silver platter turns into a fast food bag because there are just too many appointments and meetings this week. I
In the past six years of marriage, I’ve learned one thing for certain: There is no plot diagram, no equation, to the perfect marriage. There are so many versions of marriage, of happiness, of romance.
The key is to figure out what works for you, what fulfills you. If sweatpants and takeout bags fit into your fairy tale, own it. As I’ve said before, Prince Charming doesn’t really exist in real life…but neither does Snow White. No love is perfect because no two individuals are perfect. Each relationship will have its ups and downs, and the wedding cake never truly tastes as good a year later. The bliss from the wedding day will wear off and, when you’re left with “real” life, the kind involving bills and work and household chores, romance may change its appearance.
This does not mean the fairy tale has turned into a Brother’s Grimm sort of tale, however. It simply means your version of the fairy tale has morphed into something more appropriate for the real world.
It might be impossible to achieve the ultimate fairy tale-like marriage, at least in society’s eyes—but I think that’s okay. At the end of the day, you can still find happiness in an imperfect marriage.
You don’t have to have a knight in shining armor, a prince riding in on a white horse, or any similar image to make your marriage successful. Real marriage takes work. There is no fairy godmother to make all your wishes come true, and your prince charming may turn into a toad occasionally.
Happiness, though, is a choice in marriage.
It is a choice to say the man you married is worth your time, your effort, and your devotion.
It’s a choice to say the reality of your love together is worth more than some fantasy love society tells you to chase.
The fairy-tale marriage might not really exist—then again, it is possible to achieve a magical level of happiness in marriage if you’re willing to be imaginative and realize all is not what it seems.
Time is the Most Important Thing in Your Relationship
I almost said “no.”
The laundry was piling up and dishes were stacked like a Jenga tower in the sink. The vacuum needed run, and we had a ton of errands we should’ve accomplished to get through the week without drowning in adult responsibility. Bills to pay, groceries to buy and organize, nooks and crannies to dust, closets to organize—we had so many things we could’ve been accomplishing on that Sunday. There were so many thing that seemed vitally important.
Because of those mountains of responsibilities, I almost said “no.” But looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t let the rational me take over. I’m so glad I said “yes” when my husband decided on a whim to use a vacation day, stay home from work, and take me to see The Greatest Showman. He convinced me to put down the chore lists, to put aside all of the tasks that seemed so important in the moment, and to just spend time with him.
The typical me would’ve argued about saving vacation days, about getting things done, and about not having the time to waste at a movie.
But for 2018, I’ve vowed to myself to spend less time worrying and to spend more time appreciating those around me. I’ve vowed to reorganize my priorities and to take some moments for myself.
So I said “yes,” shoving aside the unfolded basket of laundry and moving the area rug over the dirt on the living room floor. I cleared everything off my to-do list, unaccomplished, and spent the day with my husband.
It was a simple day, really. We lounged on the couch before going to see the movie—which is absolutely stunning, by the way. We laughed and talked, really talked. We put aside technology for a while and just spent time with each other, hand in hand.
He didn’t whisk me away to some exotic locale. We didn’t have a flashy, overtly romantic day. To an outsider, the day probably seems like a waste of a vacation day.
At the end of it, though, it was my favorite day, a day I know we’ll remember for years to come because we took time out of this insanely hectic race called adult life to do what was most important—spend time together. And, to me at least, that isn’t a waste of a day at all.
Time is Finite, So Spend it Wisely
How do we quantify the value of a relationship?
Money? Sex? Loyalty? The number of “I love yous?”
In the past few months, I’ve learned that those things are important, certainly, but that there’s something else even more important: Time together.
My husband’s schedule changed a few months ago, which has limited our time. Work schedules, responsibilities, and daily living has pulled us apart against our choosing. It’s sucked in a lot of ways, but it’s also taught me an important lesson: It’s time that really defines a relationship.
Not just the amount of time spent together but the quality... and how much you want to spend time together.
In the past few months, we’ve learned that time spent together is what matters most. At the end of the day, folded laundry and neatly organized pantries don’t make a relationship great. Grand, expensive gestures and overtly romantic gestures don’t solidify the foundation of a marriage.
It’s time spent together, no matter what you’re doing. We’ve come to realize all those days of sitting on the sofa together watching Netflix or eating grilled cheese sandwiches or just being together are the moments that really matter. They’re the moments that have solidified who we are together and made us strong. And, with our time together cut down, we’ve come to realize how much joy being together brings us... and how much we miss it.
No matter what our situation, we are all working under a finite amount of time. Schedule changes, growing families, changing family dynamics, tragedies—all of these things can change the amount of time we have in the blink of an eye.
Thus, no matter who we are or what our relationship situation is, we must learn to make the most of our moments together and do what we have to do to find the time to spend together.
We must value our time with our loved one and make it a priority so we can solidify our relationship and find true joy.
I’ve thankful that for us, the schedule change will hopefully be temporary. I’m thankful our time hasn’t been cut short from a bigger, more harrowing circumstance. Still, it’s taught me to never take time with my husband for granted and to appreciate every minute, every hour, every day. It’s taught me to prioritize the time we have together because it’s what truly matters.
So today, put down the laundry if you have to. Cross of a few less-important things from your to-do list. Let your spouse take that vacation day, or cancel that appointment that doesn’t really matter. Find a few minutes, a few hours, a few days to spend together doing what matters most—appreciating each other, loving each other, and finding joy in the simple moments.
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing. To learn more about her novels that celebrate sweet, genuine love stories, join her VIP Fan Club above.
How was your day?
It's such a basic question, one so many of us toss around countless times a day. We ask our mailman, the barista at the coffee shop, or the random person we pass at work. It's a question that seems to carry so little weight.
However, these days, that question carries a lot of weight in my relationship because, in many ways, it's been a chance for my husband and me to stay connected.
For the past few months, we've endured vastly differing work schedules that only afford us a limited amount of time together a week. I won't lie--it's been crazy hard.
I know there are so many other couples out there dealing with worse schedules: traveling jobs, military positions, and other circumstances probably keep other couples apart more than we are. Still, he's my absolute best friend, and the plain truth is: I miss all of our time together.
I miss our random, Monday trips to Target. I miss our hour rants about our days right when I would get home. I miss our dinners together and our Lunchables on nights we didn't feel like cooking. I miss the constant companionship, the simple moments, the shared laughs.
I miss him.
Over the past few months, though, we've learned that to make love work, you have to choose to invest in it.
Even though we don't have a lot of time together, the simple fact is we make time. He gets up at the crack of dawn with me to see me off to work, and I stay up super late to talk to him when he gets home. We both are running on "E" in many ways, our sleep schedules totally dysfunctional and lacking. But we do it, not because we're okay without our eight hours (we both are super grouchy without sleep), but because our time together is more important than a few extra hours.
Sacrifice. It's something we've learned over the past few months.
And we also stay in touch through texting. We make a point to send each other messages, to chat when we get a free moment.
And, every single day, I get this text: How are you?
It's a simple phrase, just a few words, but it's really become symbolic of who we are.
He's not around for my day now. He's not here for me to vent or to share in the joys with. Still, even when he's not here, he still wants to know how my day was.
He still takes the time to check in, to find out what's going on in my life, even if it has to be reduced to the words on a phone screen.
These past few months have sucked in a lot of ways, but they've also reinforced the fact that keeping love alive is a choice--and it's not always about grand gestures. Keeping love alive is about simple moments, small gestures of sacrifice that go a long way.
It's about choosing to find any and every way possible to stay connected. It's about showing care for the other person even when you can't physically be there.
Most of all, it's about truly wanting to know how the other person is and caring enough to ask.
How do you keep love alive throughout the drudgery of the work week? Have you ever dealt with different schedules? How did you keep the connection going?
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Getting a divorce is a painful experience but one you can use to your advantage if you approach it with a positive attitude and an open heart. Check out this guest post by Caleb Anderson
Chances are, you’ll be ready for a change of scenery once the divorce is final. If you have kids, you may want to postpone moving for a while to allow for time to adjust to a new family dynamic. However, when the time is right, a relocation may be just what the doctor ordered to get yourself back on track.
When you move, think about how you want to be different than before. For instance, if you need to replace the bad habit of not exercising, look for a home with access to recreational facilities, greenways, and outdoor activities. If saving money is a goal, consider temporarily living with friends or relatives, which will serve a dual purpose of giving you someone to talk to when you feel down.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t rush. Closetbox, an on-demand storage company, actually offers quite a bit of good advice for men and women in the midst of a divorce: "Plan ahead as much as possible, accept help from loved ones, support your children, and most of all, show yourself some compassion and flexibility as you embrace your next chapter."
A New Beginning
While your divorce is the end of one chapter, it offers you the opportunity to turn the page to pen for yourself a new narrative. Barry Gold, founder of DivorcedOver50.com, explains that getting a divorce provides hope. Eventually, you will learn to look at your previous life not as a story in itself but part of the background leading up to better things. Divorce opens up a number of opportunities to teach your children about healthy and unhealthy relationships and clears the path for you to explore new connections.
When your relationship dies, it can feel as though it’s taking part of you with. But it’s not so much a death as it is a chance for rebirth.
Separating from a spouse inevitably means additional responsibilities. Where you once shared household chores, carting children back and forth to events and activities, and handling emergencies, you are now on your own to do these things. As overwhelming as it is, this is a perfect opportunity to evaluate what you prioritize in life. You may wish to drop your expensive cable subscription in favor of saving $100 a month to put toward travel. These are decisions that you are now free to make on your own.
Happy Parents, Happy Kids
There has been much debate over the issue of divorce versus making an unhappy marriage work as it relates to children’s overall well-being. Most experts agree, however, parental happiness is directly related to children’s happiness. Parents who choose stay together but exist in a world full of tension and turmoil may actually be causing more damage to their children than if they were to divorce, according to licensed therapist Susan Pease Gadoua. What we’re saying here is that sometimes kids benefit just as much as the parents after a divorce. And happy, well-rounded children should be every parent’s ultimate goal.
Whether you are a man or woman, young or old, or have been married for a year or a decade, getting a divorce hurts. But, there is something very liberating about letting go. A divorce may be an opportunity for you to rediscover long-lost passions, reclaim old friendships, and live an overall happier life. By focusing on the positive, you provide for yourself the chance to rewrite your own story and put yourself in the lead.
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