The Little Things We Do For Our Love

Do you remember when you and your spouse were dating and getting serious? Perhaps you felt comfortable enough to lay some ground rules about the association. Early in my marriage, my husband was my bike trainer. He was getting me ready to compete in the Hawaii Ironman, which included a 112-mile bike ride, sandwiched in between a 2.4-mile ocean swim and a 26.2-mile marathon. I vividly remember him telling me that no matter how much he loved me, he was not going to work on my bicycle. I had better be comfortable doing my own basic repairs. That was the rule. He had his own several racing bikes to maintain.

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A few years into our marriage, I had become quite adept at changing flat tires, and only the very basic adjustments to the machine. I was riding many miles each week and there were times where as soon as I clipped into the racing pedals, I became one with the machine. On one particular ride, I felt like the bike was simply faster, The chain felt like it was brand new and I seemed to be gliding, almost flying. Upon returning home, I bragged about how effortless the ride was and that something just felt different. Well, the love of my life, who warned me he would never work on my bikes said that he saw my worn chain and had replaced it. Oh, that sweetheart!

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I make good coffee. My husband makes great coffee. Our coffee maker sits on the counter of our kitchen where we both have equal access to it. I am a grown woman. I know how to use this simple machine, however, because I like my husband’s special flair for the right amount of coffee to water ratio I always ask if he will make me coffee. He does. He always makes me feel appreciated by doing this when I am standing just as close to that coffee maker as he is.

So what little things do you do for your partner that you either do not enjoy doing or feel you shouldn’t have to do? Here are a few of the things that I do, just because I like to show I care.

  • Take the recycle stuff to the recycle station before the can in the garage starts to overflow.
  • Keep him company when he has mundane errands to run.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Clean the cat litter box.

Do you know what he does for me on a consistent basis? He cleans the bathrooms! Yes, I have married an angel from clean bathroom heaven.

When he does jobs that I usually do and I do jobs that he usually does, we feel loved. Now, here is the caveat. If you are doing these things to score brownie points or show how sacrificial you are, you will get no reward. These acts of kindness will not always be noticed by your spouse. You should be doing them because you want to. If you have an ulterior motive, you will be disappointed.

I would love to hear your story about the things you do just because you want to lighten the load of the love of your life.

Fitting In

There were times when I was a young girl and all the way through my teenage years where I often wondered where I fit in. I was what they called in the 70’s a “tom-boy” while my brother was what horrible people called a “fairy”. We used to joke around a bit that God got our sexes mixed up. I should have been a boy, and he a girl.

Thankfully I had my awesome, brilliant, amazing, loving father step in and tell us that God does not make junk. If we are made in His image than we had better understand that He has a plan for all of us. Psalms 100:3 “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

My brother was born with a physical disability that required surgery on his legs to correct. it was years before he was able to learn things like riding a bike and forget about learning how to ski or ice-skate. More ankle surgeries were just not worth the risk. My brother busied himself with art in all forms. He gravitated toward writing, painting, sculpting, sewing, drawing, baking, and so on.

Thankfully I was born in an era where Doctors were slow to address ADD or ADHD. They just told my parents that I was hyperactive and that I would outgrow it. I say “thankfully” because I have a sneaking suspicion that if born today, I would be on medication for life. Having an ADD/ADHD personality has served me well as a “tom-boy”. I loved competing in everything from bike races, to figure skating competitions, in-line races, triathlons, open water swims, fitness transformation contests, marathons, cross-country running and even a kayak race.

I guess God really did have a plan. We all fit in somewhere in this world of tom-boys, fairies, geeks, musicians, athletes, artists, nerds, geniuses and idiots.

Let this one sink in a bit: Romans 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So go out an find a purpose or a plan and don’t worry if it fits in with the stereotypical roles you feel you must pursue. Enjoy your talents and abilities.

It’s Been A While

We all go through ebbs and flows of motivation, don’t we? There are times when we can keep several plates spinning and thrive on the busyness of life, and there are other times when we need to be laser focused.

I just went through a time where laser focus was needed to finish writing my second book. This one is near and dear to my heart, as I wanted to honor the passing of six special people in my life. Yet, I had no idea how therapeutic this writing would be, and I was shocked that after all of these years I could still have such fresh grief.

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The writing and research I did for the book really put into perspective that grief is an ongoing event. It is not something we do and check it off of our “to-do” list. Grief can come and go or can be a haunting, lingering affair. It can take place in the form of a moist eye when you look at an old photograph or convulsive spasms of crying at the slightest recollection.

It has been forty-three years since the passing of my Grandfather, yet I bawl every time our church service chooses the How Great Thou Art hymn to close with. It has been fifteen years since the passing of my Father, and you can guarantee that I will have to excuse myself at the Christmas Eve Service if they dare sing Lo’How a Rose E’er Blooming. Keeping these special memories of their favorite hymns alive is a way I honor them.

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I would love to hear your ways of dealing with grief. Is it to journal? Perhaps you spend time at the graveyard or look through old photo albums.  Maybe you wear the jewelry of the person you miss. These are all common. The point I hope to make is that we should never let our grief consume us, but never let those precious memories fade either.

Your feelings are just as valid when they are fresh as when they are dulled by the passing of time. Understanding that death is a part of life has helped me heal in ways that I hope to share in Letters to  the Dead Men – Unexpected Revelations

 

#LettersToTheDeadMen

 

 

New Book Coming!

FullSizeR (2)Great news! 1/3rd of the way to my goal of funds needed for publishing my new book “Letters to the Dead Men – Unexpected Revelations”. Only 11 days to go on my Kickstarter Campaign! Please consider backing this new grief-themed project and share this request with others. https://t.co/U29v4utwFQ #LetterstotheDeadMen #Grief   When you back and follow, make sure to see the updates on my Youtube channel under Author Stacey Greene. Thanks.

Folded Shirts and the Garden Hoe – Letting small things go

You’ve been married for a while. Me too! You think you know that person so well. Same here. Well, even though you have tried for years to “fix” her or show him how to do it the “right” way. we as couples still have our differences. It’s frustrating to see that I still want things dome my way and Jimmy still wants things done his way.

These differences in how the yard work gets done, how the bills are paid and how the laundry gets folded can really grate on one’s nerves. Have you tried delegating the jobs so that you are in charge of what you enjoy doing the most? I know, I know, no one enjoys housework. Or do they? I will admit that there are a few things I actually enjoy doing. I love to mow the lawn. It is a wonderful opportunity for me to sit on the tractor and get some sun. I was a figure skater as a child and also like pretending that I am driving the Zamboni for the Olympic rink. I truly love folding the laundry too. There is a fresh smell to it and it makes me feel a sense of serenity knowing I have these wonderful, clean clothes to wear.

Jimmy seems to like to organize the garage, for he does it several times a year. He also cleans the bathrooms. I gladly let him “enjoy” those activities and love the fact that when I am about to garden, I know my tools are all in a row in the gardening section of the clean garage.

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There have been times where I have had to clean a bathroom or straighten up the garage. I know I will have to hear about how I neglected to scrape the mud off of the shovel and hoe or how I did not get the area around the back of the toilet clean. Let it go. Say a simple “OK, next time.” and move on. There are times when Jimmy sees the laundry and folds it himself. He folds shirts in a way that leaves a crease down the center of the shirt. Having worked retail for years, I like the fold where the sleeves are tucked underneath and the entire front of the shirt is exposed, sans creases. Do I take a grown ass man and teach him how to fold? Let it go. Hang the darned shirt on a hanger for a day and the crease will dissipate. Be thankful he is such a help around the house.

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The differences in the small things are so trivial, and when we pick on our mates for these things, it can be a real buzz kill. It can even lead to insecurity in other areas like the bedroom, and that is one area where I personally want to feel confident, loved and appreciated.

Let the small things go so that the big things will matter most.

How Much Autonomy Should There Be In Your Marriage?

Autonomy. Independence. Self-reliance. All good stuff, right? So many couples I have spoken with and interviewed seem to be living separate lives under the same roof. Having a few friends your mate does not care for is fine, and so is the occasional night out with your buddies, but once a couple becomes more like roommates with benefits, the marriage may be heading down a slippery slope or is already in trouble.

In our early marriage, I thought that we were so evolved because we could be these super independent people. We had a lot in common and spent time together but we also had our own lives. I was a new Christian and had not fully understood what Mark meant in Mark 10:7-8 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one.”

My husband had his work friends while I had a slew of mommy friends whose children were in the same gymnastics, skating and ballet classes as our children. My husband and I were both still working out to stay in shape, but even the athletic events we attended, were different. He would go off to a road bike race and I would compete in a running race.

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In hindsight, I wonder if all of this autonomy had created an environment more tempting for my husband to cheat on me. As I thought it through, a couple of things made sense. I was there for him physically as we made love often, but I was working several part-time jobs and was not there for him emotionally. I was all about doing my thing without regard to what hours I needed to work. I will never get that time I spent away from him back, and I will live with the scar that he did, in fact, stray for a time when he felt that we were together, yet lonely.

Before I discovered his indiscretion, I never questioned the time he spent with his guy friends from work. I can’t believe at that time that I did not even really miss him. Perhaps I was too tired from the grind of balancing home, work and child-rearing.

This is why I write this warning to all of you out there that are allowing your relationship as a couple to turn into more of a couple of ships that occasionally bump in the night.

Go and enjoy lunch with the girlfriends. Don’t stress when your husband wants to hang with the guys one night. But, make sure you are also both putting forth the effort to find mutual friends and being reciprocal in the way that your relationship is treated and treasured. God loves a happy marriage and I know you do too!

Proverbs 5:18-19 “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer, may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.”

Habits I Needed to Break

Do you remember when your man looked at you like David looked at Bathsheba when he saw her bathing? (2 Samuel Chapter 11) I remember. I keep my favorite picture of my husband and me on my bulletin board. We were in our twenties, and honestly, I don’t even remember who took the photo. The point is, he looked at me with those dreamy eyes of a man smitten.

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Somewhere in the marriage things became too familiar, and he no longer looked at me that way. It took a brave and smart thirteen-year-old to tell me. Yes, when my daughter was a teen she brought to my attention that she no longer wanted to see me come home from work and don the grubby sweatpants and crocs. What if one of her friends came over and saw me like that! I laughed it off thinking that all moms are entitled to look frumpy when raising multiple children. I wanted to be comfortable while cooking and cleaning. I was all ready to quote 1 Peter to her (3:3-4) “Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” But, instead of quoting scripture, I realized how much it bothers me when my son would go out in public with his hair looking like he just woke up. I was always reminding him of what a comb looked like and what it was used for. Could it be that my husband would like to see me with my hair down once in a while? Would he give me that delicious kiss coming through the door if I looked like a woman worthy of kissing? Hmmmmm.

It made me think of what other things might irritate him or what other things have gotten too familiar. I always assumed that once we were married we could share everything, even the bathroom. Was it a big deal if I passed gas or burped in the comfort of my own home? Yes. If I was mortified about those things when we dated, I should be more discreet once married.

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I am not suggesting turning the clock back to 1958 and stepping into an episode of the Donna Reed Show, but keeping myself looking my best goes a long way in keeping the romance alive and well. In like manner, my husband refrains from annoying habits that kill intimacy.

Solution? Keep private things private. That lock on the bathroom door is there for a reason. When done working out, shower and put some cute but comfortable clothes back on. Have you ever heard the saying that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have? Well, it works for marriage too.

There are plenty of times to lounge around in the sweats and let that hair go another day without washing it, but for the most part, I want to attract and not repel my husband. A little effort goes a long way.

The “D” Word

My husband had been married for a very brief time as a very young man. As short as the marriage was, it still hurt him that it ended in divorce. When he and I fell in love and married, we had an agreement never to use the “D” word. He knew he did not want a repeat of divorce and I could not imagine, as a 22-year-old girl that I would ever be mad enough at Jimmy to threaten him with such a terrifying word. So we agreed.

Kylie-2.jpgWell, real life throws some real crap at your fan and there have been many times where one of us wanted to use it. In the 30 plus years we have been together, we broke our pledge and have used the word twice, always with that sick feeling in our gut that it was not what we truly wanted.

I enjoy a good Google search. So, I peeked at the statistics wondering why divorce used to be so rare and is now so commonplace.  Prior to the 1930’s, less than 7% divorced. Part of that may have been that the laws of divorce were very strict. It was often hard to prove abuse, adultery or abandonment, which were the only reasons a divorce would be granted. But, in 1967 the laws changed to include “no-fault” divorces. By the 1970’s the divorce rate jumped up to 33% and culminated with 53% by 1980. Currently, it has gone down slightly and leveled off at about 50%.

Think about the phrase “no-fault”. Really roll it around in your head for a few moments. Are you really ready to say there is no fault in your unhappiness? Why do we feel that things are different (more difficult) today than they were in the past? Did people 100 years ago have money problems? Did they argue? Did they have poor communication skills? Did they cheat on each other? Did they grow tired of one another? You and I both know that indeed they did. So why have we become a society where we just throw away a marriage like last years cell phone, and then take no responsibility or “fault”?

I challenge you today to look at any unhappiness you feel towards your mate and realize that they are not responsible for keeping you happy. You are in charge of how you feel, think and act. Take authority for how you are feeling and do not project it on your partner. Work on yourself first and then work toward a better alliance

If you are a law of attraction follower, don’t forget that what you think about you bring about. If you are a Christian, you can remember that Malachi, Proverbs, Matthew and 1st Corinthians all talk about protecting marriage and hating divorce. If you are unsure where you fall in your spiritual journey, find a way or a place where you can recollect the joy you found in your original attachment to your spouse.  It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it to co-create a loving bond where you can continue to grow and evolve together and not apart.

Busted!

Look at the base of these two trees. Very different trees interlocked at the base. It always reminds me of a married couple, different, yet growing together somehow.

Were you caught having an affair? Busted! Having been on the other side of that table I know how I reacted when it happened to me, but how the cheater reacts is what many people never delve into. Do they have feelings of remorse? Don’t those of us who have been cheated on want to understand why?

If you have wronged your partner, fess up! Be honest and tell no more lies. Determine if your real relationship is more important than the affair and get busy making things right. Put your big girl panties on or big boy pants on and get to work.

The most important decision you will both make is whether to work it out or go your separate ways. Both partners must have some desire to want to work towards a stronger marriage or else one of you is just kicking a dead horse.

The cheater must understand why he or she crossed the line. Did you two think of setting boundaries at the start of the marriage? You see, some partners have the opinion that “I don’t care where you get your appetite, as long as you eat at home” so flirting, porn, internet contact etc… may be acceptable. In other marriages just looking at the opposite sex feels like cheating. In the Bible, the book of Matthew 5:28 talks about lusting for another is considered cheating.  So for some, having coffee or lunch alone with a co-worker of the opposite sex may feel inappropriate. It is all about boundaries you two should have set in the beginning. If you did not, now is as good of a time as any.

Now, look at how tall and lovely those two trees can grow. Together, side by side!

 If you want true transparency, integrity, and honesty with your spouse, begin today to break off the affair and show your newfound transparency and integrity. Start with a sincere apology. Begin to rebuild trust, even if that means sharing passwords on all of your social media sites.  I know of couples that share the same Facebook page and have nothing to hide from each other.

Remember that cheating not only ruins marriages but also sends a message to the future generations that cheating is ok or even expected. Many millennials are not even bothering to get married because they assume it may end in divorce anyway. Some see marriage as a contract and not a covenant. Big difference.

All couples should ask what kind of legacy they want to leave on this earth before satisfying a feeling, a connection or an urge with someone outside of the relationship.

Dare to be different. Boldly step into making things right and loving and honoring the commitment you made at the altar, or the courthouse. In an affair, feelings were hurt. Trust was broken. It won’t be easy, but where there is an ounce of love left, you can make it worth it.