How to keep a Marriage Hot

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Many of you may have seen my plea to vote for us on Facebook for the B-Metro/Levy’s Fine Jewelry Valentine’s Day giveaway.  We were selected to be one of 35 couples in the running for an amazing romantic date night package.

I saw the call for entries a couple of weeks ago and applied on a whim.  I didn’t think too hard or long about what to say, nor did I necessarily pay attention to grammar, so I apologize in advance for the snippet you read as part of our entry!!  In the application, I were asked to describe how we met.  I go describe the following:

My hubby and I happened to be a the same Mexican restaurant in DC the night we met.  It was Cinco de Mayo.  He was at a table with at least 6 other women, making them laugh by sucking helium out of a ballon and then talking in a high pitched voice.  Novel, I know. Somehow, it was working and he had them all laughing their tails off.  I kept looking over because their table was SO loud.  We were maybe 10 feet away from each other.  I am certain that my now-hubby thought I kept looking over at HIM, haha, because not long after, he asked the waiter to offer me a drink on his behalf.  At the time, an acquaintance (female, so don’t get it twisted, lol) and I were having dinner.  It was Cinco de Mayo and neither one of us had plans that night, so we decided to go out for an uneventful dinner.

So, the waiter comes to the table with the drink.  I wasn’t accustomed to strangers sending drinks to my table, so I rejected the drink and sent it back!  Haha.  Hubby said he thought to himself, “Who does this chick think she is?!” LOL! His group did look like it was having a great time, so I said to my friend, “Let’s join their party!”.  She agreed and I went over to inquire whether, instead of accepting a drink, he would accept our company instead.  He did and we had a good time with the group.  Turns out they were all co workers and out for the same reason we were:  To have a low-key night out on Cinco De Mayo.

Cut to the end of the night.  My now-hubby asks me to go out to his car with him.  Of course, I’m thinking, ‘oh no, here comes the part of the night where he reveals his serial killer tendencies’!  Of course, he insisted, so I convince my friend to come out with me.   Two of us have a better shot at surviving than one of us alone! He opens his car and reaches into the back.  Here we go, the axe or gun are about to come out!!  But no, instead, he pulls out a Big Bertha golf bag!!  Sigh of relief.  And comic relief at that, for, what are the odds that anyone would have a Big Bertha bag in their car and their name is BERTHA!? Well, and so it was.  So, yes, I gave him my number, haha. My real number too!  We went out on a date about a week later and voila, 15 years later, still going strong.

How to keep yourSO, where’s the part about keeping your marriage ‘chic’ and ‘hot’ you ask??  Gosh, well, I honestly don’t know exactly what advice to give here to be honest.  All of the articles I read talk about ways to keep it ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’ and usually they are suggestions that seem rather lame or that don’t apply to our family dynamic.  For many years, going away for the weekend, for example, was not an option.  We don’t have any immediate family around and I’m one of those people that has a really hard time asking for help from others, so I hate to inconvenience friends with keeping our two crazies overnight.  Side note:  Although our 6 and 2 year olds drive us crazy, we love them unabashedly!

But, I realize now that when kids are in the picture, one has to make marriage a priority, even if only sporadically – because often that is all that kids will allow.  SO, an overnight date night is often the way to do that!  I therefore applied to put our name in the hat for this giveaway and part of the giveaway involves an overnight at a local, hip hotel!  Score! At this point, we don’t seem to be in the running (and likely will not win), but it was the thought that counts, right??  Anyhow, it was my attempt to make our marriage a priority. I am often consumed with life as an academic, as a mother, and as a multi-hyphenate woman aiming to find ‘me-time’ to keep her sanity.  As my husband often reminds me, that usually means that our marriage – and he – come last.  Not on purpose, obviously, but last nonetheless.  He once said to me, “I’m last on your totem pole.”  To which I retorted, “…but at least you’re ON the totem pole!”  Right???  Haha, all goofiness aside, this giveaway entry was my attempt to bring our marriage to the forefront and make it a priority.

I will say, the one thing that has kept our marriage sane, if nothing short of alive, is communication.  Good, bag, ugly: communication – in my opinion – has been the number one reason we continue to chug along to this day.  We both express grievances to each other on a very frequent basis.  Early on, he encouraged me to share what I was feeling, rather than bottling it up and letting it all spill out in the form of a breakdown.  You see, we spent the first four years of our marriage in a long distance relationship.  Shortly after we married, he was deployed to Iraq.  He spent 18 months there and then was deployed to the southeast, while I remained on the west coast trying to finish up my degree.  We had no choice but to talk things out because communication was all we had to keep our marriage alive.

So we talk about things, rather regularly.  Mind you, some of our communication happens over text.  You got that right!  Likely as a consequence of our long-distance relationship status for so many years.  That said, I think it’s somewhat neutral territory if you ask me. There’s no shouting involved (unless you use all caps, in which case, it’s game on, lol!), and both parties get a chance to fully express themselves without having the other interrupt.  I find that settling the hardest parts over text has worked well for us…for years!  As I mentioned in the giveaway entry, we are going on 12 years of marriage this May.  This may not be a good solution for all, but definitely a tactic that has worked well for us.

We are trailing behind at least three other couples (equally if not more deserving than us), but if you want to help our cause and keep us in the running for the overnight date, please vote for us here: on.fb.me/1QRx2fA.

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Until next time! Stay ‘Chic’!

Me, who?

Once upon a time, I would make plans for the weekend.  Outings on Friday nights, sleep in Saturday morning (until noon sometimes!!), perhaps a second outing Saturday night, and a day of doing absolutely nothing on Sunday.  I would return to school/work re-energized and ready to tackle the week ahead of me.

Cut to, now.  My weekends consist of catching up on laundry, cleaning, kid birthday parties, sports practices and games, grocery shopping, catching up on leftover work from the week…the list is endless.  A postpartum woman also often takes on an additional load of responsibilities.  Nursing day and night, pumping at work, bottles to wash, hormones running amok, hairloss (yes, that’s right, hairloss!!), a body that stubbornly refuses to return to normal, and an endless sense of guilt and imperfection.  Am I feeding the right foods?  Am I raising my kid(s) properly?  Am I doing what’s best for my kid(s)??  Am I a good mom??

Amidst the chaos that is motherhood, very rarely does a mother stop to wonder, what about me?  But when she does – at least when I did – be prepared to open the flood gates; the overwhelming emotion that comes with reminiscing about times now past, years now lost, and a youth and beauty now aged, is reason enough for even the sanest of women to lose it a little.

Today, I wondered, what about me?  My body is slowly becoming increasingly foreign.  Pregnancy and birth change a woman’s body in ways she never imagined.  The time to workout is becoming less and less, so one’s body becomes more and more…soft??  Sigh.  I look at pictures now and wonder, will it ever be the same again?  Um, with surgery maybe??  Sigh, again.

My husband says, ‘you need to make time for yourself’.  Are we – mothers – then too giving of ourselves and time?  Do we, mothers, consciously make ourselves out to be the victims?  Who knows.  As far as I can tell, the to-do list in my life is endless.  But my husband is right (wait, did I just say that??).  Perhaps there are things that can go by the wayside sometimes, right?  My kid(s) can go a night without a bath.  The dishes can be left overnight without washing.  Pick the toys up off the floor and makes the beds?  What?  Why?  The toys will be played with again tomorrow, and the bed slept in again the next night, right?

Worry not, this is by no means a pity-party post.  More so, it is a reminder that although life has changed, and time is less abundant, that sometimes…you just need to stop.  Take the time to rediscover the new you and make amends with this version of yourself.  Embrace this new phase of life and make the time to take care of, well, you.

So, I herein declare this day the start of the me-time phase of my life.  To help me become a better mother, a better wife, and a better version of me.  Anyone want to join me?  Me-time can get a little lonely; I’ll need some girlfriends to join me during my me-time from time to time.

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When two become one…

Hi, Friends!

I took a little bit of a blogging-hiatus this past week.  I have a good excuse though!  My little family and I took a *much* needed vacay! Also, remember that countdown on my blog??  Well, the day finally arrived and my little sister got married!!  Amazing how quickly time goes by…

On the day of her wedding, I was asked to give a speech.  True to my procrastinating nature, I waited until the very last minute to put a speech together.  It didn’t really matter though, since script or no script, I have no doubt that the tears that were shed during my time on the mic would have interrupted even the best of speeches!

So, I take to this very public forum to share some of the things that I wish I would have said:

-Marriage is an amazing adventure.  There is no truer test of patience, character, understanding, sharing…the list is endless.  Know that no two people are perfect with regard to any of these virtues.  You won’t always be the perfect partner, but what will matter is that you try; that for the rest of your life, you make an effort to be the best version of you.  Be happy with who you are, who you are with your partner, and the rest will fall into place.

-Don’t let others influence how you see or feel about your partner.  You chose your partner with your heart and mind, possibly entirely with your heart, and not at all with your mind. 🙂  Regardless, YOU chose that person.  YOU had your reasons.  Remember them every time anyone makes you doubt your choice.

-Never stop dating.  This I tell you from experience.  My hubby and I got busy with work, kids, life, etc. over the years.  This past week, we took our first solo vacation (kids stayed with my parents) in nearly 10 years!!  I cannot express how nice it was to spend time alone, away from home, and reconnect.  We realized we had stopped dating.  We had started to think of each other merely as partners, mother and father, roommates, even.  Not thinking of each other as man and woman…two individuals who could still lust after each other; who could still date; who at one point in time, could think of nothing else but each other.  Take the time to go back to the ‘butterfly’s in the stomach’ phase of your relationship…it will make all the difference.

-Yes, you are married.  Yes, you will initially want to spend every waking moment with your new partner in life.  But, also, yes…you do still have friends.  Don’t forget about them. Much like experts recommend that one put their spouse before children, as one day, the kids will leave the nest, and you will be left with each other…hopefully not as strangers, but still in love and very much friends, I recommend that you don’t forget about your friends.  I am guilty of this…  That said, continue to call/text/FB/etc your friends with the same frequency (or as close to it) as you did before your marriage.  One day, you won’t want to spend every waking moment with your partner (Trust me, it will happen…even if you can’t fathom the thought…it will happen!), and you will want/need friends to be there for you.  You need to nurture those friendships and not let them fall to the way-side.

-Don’t lose sight of who you are.  I am still working on this one.  I used to ballroom dance…still, it has been a year or two since I took my last lesson.  Kids and work have made it hard to maintain this hobby.  My hubby knows how much I enjoy it though, so he’s supportive of my activity; despite the fact that he doesn’t ballroom dance himself.  So, whether you dance, run, hang out with friends…whatever your hobby may be or whatever it is that you feel defines you, stay true to it and fight to maintain it moving forward in your marriage.

-Leave jealousy out of your marriage.  Ugh, I wasted so much of my younger years as an insecure, jealous girlfriend/fiancée/wife.  It is not worth it.  I don’t know what happened when I had my first child, but all the jealousy went out the window.  I don’t think I have ever enjoyed my relationship more!  Trust, be confident, and leave the jealousy out of it.

-Don’t make comparisons.  Every marriage is different.  Every husband and wife is different from other husbands and wives.  What works in one marriage may not necessarily work in another.  Do what makes the two of you better, and remember that the goal is to be happy.  The goal is not to be better than the Joneses.

-Be your partner’s biggest supporter.  At the end of the day, you want each other to succeed.  Each one of you will have bad days.  Be there for the lows.  Yes, sometimes your partner’s lows may be infuriating, frustrating, possibly even disappointing.  Be there.  As humans, we are flawed, and we all make mistakes.  Try to be understanding, try to keep perspective.  Often, you will find that the lows are what lead to the highs.  I often think that my support during the bad times, during the ‘lows’, is what has led my hubby to his best ‘highs’…to his greatest successes.  Just, be there.

Above all else, do you.  Be confident that the choices you make are what is best for you and your new partnership.  I am no expert, nor is this list comprehensive of all that you should consider when entering a new partnership…a marriage.  They are kernels of wisdom from one who has nearly 10 years of marriage under her belt.  Take what works for you, and leave the rest for others to consider.  Remember always, “The value of free advice is often what you pay for it.”

Congratulations baby sister…may life bring your marriage much happiness, love, and success!

susie bride