All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!


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First Comes Love

PAIL posted a news item today that has a lot of people talking.  I read it first thing this morning, and it struck a chord with what Dr. Dan told me at our last session.  The point of Giuliana Rancic’s comments to US Weekly* was the theme of what Dr. Dan stressed with me, and what I brought home to my husband later that afternoon.  Our relationship, B’s and mine, is #1.  For every decision we make, we must ask, “how does this affect our relationship?”  As I stated last week, if I had been following this sage advice for the last several years, many decisions would have been 10 times easier to make than they were, and most arguments would have been resolved much more quickly.

I’ve never been one to think that children should come first in a marriage.  I was raised by parents who were fiercely devoted to one another, even though they fought like cats and dogs.  I remember asking my dad one night before bed, “are you and Mommy going to get divorced?”  They had been in a really bad place of constant fighting, and my older sister and I were becoming very concerned.  I think I was 6 or 7 at the time.  My dad’s response is not what many parents would have responded with.  I remember it to this day, and it’s (usually) been central to my own relationship.  My dad did not say, “no, I love you kids too much.”  No no.  He said, “no, I love your mother too much.”

Have you any idea how that one little answer put our minds and hearts at ease?  I remember feeling the tension leave my body after he said that.  I believed him – I knew he was telling me the truth and not just saying something that he thought I wanted to hear.  I kissed him goodnight and fell asleep happy, and I remember NEVER worrying about them getting a divorce again.  My older sister remembers this all very clearly as well (we shared a room and she was in the twin bed next to me when I asked my dad this).

I try very hard to put our marriage first, but I fail miserably.  B and I just talked about this the other day.  He works his tail off for our family so that I can stay home with Matthew.  I work my tail off at home with Matthew from 7:00 AM until bedtime each night (8:15 PM) with the only break being nap time (1.5-2.5 hours) – and during that break I do laundry, or dishes, or pick up the house, etc. before I actually take a break.   By the time B comes home, he is spent, and I am spent.  I am so tired from being in “mom mode” for the past 13 hours that I just want to be left to myself.  B is so tired from being in “work mode” for the past 13 hours (he gets up super early to work before going to work, and then works into many of the evenings as well) that he just wants to sit in the quiet.  We usually plop down on the sofa and decompress – separately.

This is not good.

We’re working on this.  We’re talking about it.  We’re fixing it.  What we have been doing is putting our child first, ourselves next, and each other last.  This is absolutely not OK with either one of us, and I’m so glad we talk about it as often as we do.  We are not living the model of marriage that we want to be living, and we’re both to blame (but I do think that I am more to blame, because I can be too much like my mom at times and just totally withdraw).

Over the last several weeks, we have both been making an effort to put our marriage first.  We send nice texts back and forth throughout the day, and skype/chat online when there’s a chance.  B leaves notes for me on the counter if he heads out super early, telling me to have a great day and that he loves me.  B works from home more often than he used to in the mornings so that we can have breakfast as a family (this is AWESOME and I know that we are so very fortunate that this is possible!).  I ask B to meet us for lunch and he most certainly does if he can.  And the most important change is this – after Matthew is in bed, I come out of his room to find my husband sitting at the table waiting for me, often times with a dessert and/or tea, and we sit down and talk to one another.  We focus on one another.  We ask about each others’ days and challenges.

Every time I go to see Dr. Dan, he has some wonderful tool/tip to share with me that will make our relationship stronger.  He will grab his clip board and sharpie and I get excited – because I know that he is going to give me some wonderful little nugget of advice that is going to keep me on my toes once I get home to B.  Most of the tools that Dr. Dan shares with me are immediately brought home and shared with B – and this one that I’m going to share with you is one that B and I discussed at great length the day that I got it (at my very first session).

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This is the triangle of marriage/relationships.  Before Dr. Dan presented this to me, he asked me what my perception of marriage was and I said, “the 7 year itch.”  Surprisingly, he said, “that is true, and here’s why.”  He then drew and walked me through this triangle.

When you first meet one another, you start at the lower left point of the triangle and move upward, usually quickly, up the side of “feeling and passion.”  This is the phase of your early/new relationship where you can’t get enough of each other, you want to be together ALL.THE.TIME.  You then come down the “thoughts and intimacy” side of the triangle (intimacy being closeness, not sex) and this is where you really connect with one another and decide if being together is what you really, really want.  You then turn the corner into “behaviors and commitment,” and this side of the triangle is where you focus your time and energy on paying the bills, going to work, raising the kids, etc.  Getting around the triangle takes about…. 7 years.  This is why people refer to the “7 year itch” of marriage.

When you round the triangle clockwise in full (usually within 6-7 years of knowing your spouse), you are looking for passion and feeling again – but it’s not necessarily there because you’ve been spending several years just tending to your responsibilities.  This is why people cheat and have affairs – because they want the passion again but don’t know how to get it with their spouse.

What you need to do when you get back to the lower left point of the triangle is turn around, and go counter-clockwise backwards.  In other words, you need to focus on thoughts and intimacy to reconnect with one another.  Once you’ve done this (and this is VERY hard to do because you’ve heard each others’ stories, you’ve created stories together, etc.), then the “passion and feeling” will return and it will be wonderful and easy.  Working your way UP the thoughts/intimacy side of the triangle is truly an upward climb (hence the ladder in the photo) and takes a lot of work – it takes a LOT of reconnecting.

Reconnecting is what B and I are doing right now.  We are both committed to this.  We are both making GOOD efforts to reconnect with one another.  Reconnecting takes more than a weekly date night – it takes daily work.  Some days, we aren’t able to do it – we just aren’t.  Some days, there’s just no reconnecting.  But most days, there is.  Most days, we focus on our thoughts and intimacy and really build our team and make it stronger.

I don’t know how any couple can do this – can build and keep a strong connection – when putting their children first.  I just don’t.  Dr. Dan has stated this to me time and time again, and it makes me feel great that I’ve known this and believed it all along, and just needed reminding.  I’m so glad that my dad taught me this at the tender age of 6 or 7.  And I’m glad that B and I are teaching our children this right now.  Our children won’t have strong relationships themselves unless they have a strong relationship at home to look to.

Marriage first, children second.  Of course Matthew’s basic needs (food, water, shelter, cleanliness, health, etc.) always come first for both of us – ALWAYS.  But that’s not what Guiliana was talking about.  That’s not what my dad was talking about.  That’s not what Dr. Dan talks about.  The spousal relationship must always come first so that a strong, loving foundation is there for our children, and for us, to feel safe and secure within.

“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.”

Words to live by!

* I do not pay attention to US Weekly, or any other celebrity gossip column for that matter, so this “story” was not on my radar until PAIL put it there.  Yes, I live under a rock, but I prefer it that way  😉  Of course, I am not passing judgement on anyone who does enjoy celebrity gossip – I enjoy a nice long line at the checkout counter at the grocery store once in a while so I can catch up on it too!


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The Monday Snapshot – Laundry Day

One of my favorite things in the world is this:

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This is how we dry all of the jeans in our house – and seeing this once a week makes my heart happy.  I love nothing more than a cute little boy in a pair of jeans!  Matthew wears jeans every.single.day and I love it.  My friends tease me that he always looks like a snappy little man, ready to go out on some social event (which, he usually is – he is his father’s child after all!).  I don’t know what it is about jeans on this kid, but I look forward to picking out his clothes every day and seeing his cute little butt in whatever jeans I pick out!

I am excited that Wilson will get to wear all of these jeans too.  We both buy jeans for this boy, because we both love seeing him in them, so we have a lot for Wilson to get use out of.  As we’ve bought them over the last 20+ months, I’ve wondered if we’re wasting money, but apparently not.  Truth be told, I would put most of them on a girl too, but it’s fun knowing that another little boy’s cute butt is going to fill them out before I know it!

This is part of PAIL’s Monday Snapshot.  Head on over and check out the cute kids to brighten your Monday!


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20 Questions Answered

PAIL asked us to do this fun little game of 20 questions to help bring an interruption to the silence that seems to be lurking in the blogosphere.  Happy to do my part!

  • What was the last thing you threw in the garbage/recycling? – Yet another berry container.  This boy of ours goes through so many berries in a day, especially blueberries, that I’m recycling a container at least once a day.  Add my love of berries into the mix, and I bet we recycle 1.5 containers a day.
  • What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod? – No iPods in this house, thank you very much!  That would be like a sales guy for Coca Cola drinking a Pepsi.  Just plain WRONG!  I think the #1 song we listen to is “Mermaid” by Train which we play for Matthew on our Windows8 Phones almost constantly.
  • What is your favorite quote?“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato.  This is so important to remember on a moment-to-moment basis, but I’m not good at remembering it all the time.
  • What chore do you absolutely hate doing? – Cleaning.  This caused us a great deal of stress during our days of dating.  If I was in the mood to clean, B would not be – and vice versa.  For my wedding present (almost 6 years ago, B hired a cleaning service for one year.  I told him then that this was a lifetime commitment – and not a 1 year gift.  He agreed.  We’ve removed that stress from our relationship and marriage – and it is worth the cost every other week!
  • What is your favorite form of exercise? – Running and kickboxing are my favorites ways to get in shape.  I think they’re both important because they work different muscle groups and burn calories differently.  I met B through kickboxing, so that will always be my favorite!  Resistance training and weight lifting should be on my list, but I find them boring.
  • What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year? – My favorite day of the week is Wednesday, because Matthew has gymnastics which gets us up and moving early and out and about.  My favorite month of the year is June – not too hot yet, and nicely cool in the evenings for outside activities!  My favorite time of day is right after Matthew’s afternoon nap when he’s refreshed and super excited to play!
  • What is on your bedside table? – Laptop, remotes, baby monitor, lube, and my WindowsPhone.  No, I’m kidding about the lube.  Honestly (it’s in the bathroom)!
  • What is your favorite body part? – HA!  Umm… I think the most attractive thing to me in men are their shoulders and arms.  I love nicely shaped shoulders and arms.  On my own body, my favorite body part are my fingers – they’re long and I can wear wide rings because of them (but they were no help to me when learning how to play the piano!).
  • Would you use the power of invisibility for good or evil? Elaborate.  – “Evil,” I think.  I would use it to be a fly on the wall, so I guess that’s evil.  I wouldn’t reveal anything I heard while listening in (except to B, because you’ve got to tell someone!), but eavesdropping is evil, isn’t it?
  • If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?  – I would probably choose to stay 30 forever because that’s how old I was when I met B and we had the time of our lives that year!
  • What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery? – I would pay off our debts in full – house and cars.  I would then put heaps of money into education accounts for each of my own kids, and the kids of our siblings.  I think I would then save the rest after taking a very nice trip somewhere for a very long time!
  • What is your biggest pet peeve? – Dishonesty.  I am honest to a fault (I’ll tell you the truth even if you don’t want to hear it), so when others are blatantly dishonest, I can’t handle it.  I can’t get over it.  I also can’t stand bold arrogance.
  • If you could know the answer to any question, what would it be? – I would want to know if there’s anything after death.  Logic tells me no, but hope tells me yes.  I would like to know.
  • At what age did you become an adult? – 26 – without elaborating, this is the age when I really realized what it meant to take responsibility for my own actions.
  • Recommend a book, movie, or television show in three sentences or less. – This is probably going to sound redundant to others, but Downton Abbey.  I cannot get enough of it (but will be finishing it up tonight, sniff sniff), and you won’t either.  It is fabulous!
  • What did you do growing up that got you into trouble? – Fighting with my sisters got me into big trouble.  It got us all into trouble.  My mom just “couldn’t understand why (we) girls would fight.”  BECAUSE WE ARE SISTERS AND WE’RE YOUR DAUGHTERS!  Enough said!
  • What was the first album you bought with your own money? – I don’t know, but I bet it was Bon Jovi New Jersey, or something awesome like that!
  • If someone wrote a book about you, what would be the title?You Really do Mellow with Age
  • What story do you wish your family would stop telling about you? – Well, it’s not necessarily a story, but a skill?  I took French for 6 years and can’t speak a lick of it, but the one thing I did get out of the class was how to say animal sounds in French.  My parents would have me “do French animal sounds” at the table for dinner guests, family members, etc.  They still bring it up, and it’s not awful, but I’m so past it!  Clearly they’re not!
  • True or false: The unicorn is the greatest mythical creature. State your case.  Totally FALSE.  I do not like unicorns one bit, and never have.  I think they’re creepy and weird.  My favorite mythical creature is the leprechaun – being a St. Patrick’s Day baby and all!
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Seriously Creepy!