One of the things I was most fearful about during my pregnancy was how Chuck and my relationship would be affected by this new presence in our life. Would we still make time for each other? Would we be able to parent together? Would we lack in intimacy? Obviously, we've only been at this parenting gig for a month now, so that fear still remains, but I've found in seasons of doubt and anxiety, it's always helpful for me to take inventory of our marriage. You probably guessed that I'm a big believer in counting your blessings, and Chuck is and always will be my biggest. These are just a couple of reasons why I think our marriage works and will continue to for years to come...
My favorite piece of wedding advice we received was from my Grandma who passed away just a few months ago and was still wildly in love with her late husband. Her words to me were, "Find something every day to laugh about." I took her advice to heart and most days, this is one of the easiest pieces of advice to follow. Chuck and I never take things to seriously and are always finding ways to be goofy and make each other chuckle. However, on the days when laughter doesn't come as easy, I've found it's even more important to find something to smile about together. It's amazing how a good belly laugh can instantly thaw the chill of resentment or disappointment in our marriage.
There are times when I really, really don't want to let go something that Chuck has done that has hurt me. The thing is, there is never an occasion when harboring resentment has worked productively in our relationship. Do I want Chuck to learn from his mistakes and strive toward self-betterment? Hell yeah. Will I continue to hold his transgressions against him after he has delivered a heartfelt apology? No way, Jose. This is something that obviously does not come naturally, but I am constantly striving to be intentional about. (I should probably note that I am not the only one doing the forgiving in the relationship.)
Apparently, first-borns and last-borns make for a good pairing. As the oldest of two, I am definitely the control freak of the relationship. I care about making plans, sticking to commitments and effectively managing our time. As the youngest of five, Chuck is way more easygoing. He is all about living in the moment, putting family above all else and accommodating the wants and wishes of others. Does this sometimes lead to friction in our relationship? Just ask me that any time we try to leave the house and I am standing by the door impatiently waiting for my husband to do 1000 last-minute things. But it also creates balance. I think this will be especially important in the way we parent. I have no doubts that I will be more of the disciplinarian, where Chuck will be the "fun one." But it's important to have both- the person that will get the kids to school on-time and the parent who keeps things light-hearted and nourishes our kids' creativity and imagination.
Every night, I don my high school cheer uniform and...just kidding. One of the things I really try to be intentional about is never speaking ill of my husband in public. Do I vent with my sister-in-law occasionally about the ridiculous traits that our husbands share? I'll let you answer that. But I've always found it very telling how married folk talk about their spouses when they are not around. If you're not your significant other's biggest cheerleader, who will be? There is a fine line between seeking marital advice from friends and family and airing your relationship's dirty laundry.
All four of these reasons are things that Ashleigh Slater also describes in her book, Team Us: Marriage Together. In her book, Ashleigh talks about her decade-long marriage with her husband, Ted and the ways they've become "Team Us" since saying "I do." Ashleigh covers things like how to deal with conflict, making "communication sandwiches," and making it through those hellish years that all marriages inevitably face. Goodreads describes this book as,
"When a couple promises "I do," they agree to more than just a shared last name, a joint bank account, and no more dateless nights. This husband and wife duo forms a new team. "Life together" becomes their mantra. Nothing can come between them. At least, that's the plan.
But then real life sets in. With it come disappointments and frustrations. If the couple isn't intentional in their day-to-day interactions, that once enthusiastic "we" can slowly revert to "you" and "me." Before long, the couple's left wondering what happened to their team spirit.
Team Us: Marriage Together offers couples practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in their marriages. Author Ashleigh Slater shares from her own marriage as she presents couples with realistic ideas on how to foster cooperation, deepen commitment, and exercise grace on a daily basis."
Although, I could have done with a few less pop culture metaphors, I appreciated Ashleigh's openness about her marriage and the way in which she is able to make the reader feel like they are talking to an old friend about marriage advice. The respect that Ashleigh and Ted have for each other and their commitment to working through their marriage's little roadblocks is palpable and serves as an encouragement to those looking to strengthen their relationships.
Now only did I give this book 3 1/2 out of 5 stars, but today I'm giving away a copy to one lucky reader!
To grab a copy of Team Us: Marriage Together, just use the Rafflecopter widget below:
Winner will be announced Friday, February 6. Good luck!
Images courtesy of Byrd Photography and Goodreads.com