Category: Marriage

I Do… Or Do I?

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What do cold feet, long engagements, and runaway brides have in common? They all stem from the myth and the fear that marriage changes everything.

I’ve seen it countless times in real life, on TV, and in movies. A couple gets engaged, but starts to waver when it comes to actually making it to that alter. Or, in a similar situation, a couple stays together for years and years, supposedly committed to getting married one day, but postpones engagement for all of those years, or even goes through breakup scares or “on again, off again” cycles. It always makes me wonder, why do people make marriage so intimidating and complicated? Or more accurately, why do people have such trouble with commitment?

The way I see it, marriage is simple. It is a commitment to be with another person for the rest of your lives, to love and care for each other, and to be partners in life. To agree to such a commitment would be a scary thing if you weren’t sure about yourself, or the person you were committing to. But what does it really take to be sure?

I’ve heard many answers to this question. Some seem to think you need to know everything about your significant other to be ready for marriage. Some believe you need to resolve all of your issues as a couple first. Others think that a certain age, or educational, financial or career goal must be reached before marriage. My own marriage counselors seemed to believe that in order to be ready for marriage, a certain level of spiritual maturity, assessed by them using some arbitrary process I wasn’t aware of at the time, was necessary. But all of these answers are really just excuses.

I’ve been married for five years now, and I still don’t know everything about my spouse, nor does he know everything about me. We still have issues we need to work through, and we find new ones sometimes too. We were married young, before finishing college, and without having established careers or even the financial strength to support ourselves; yet none of those factors had a negative effect on our marriage. We have enjoyed these last five years growing together spiritually and in maturity, and building our lives together, despite the fact that many people said we “weren’t ready.” We were sure, and we were 100% committed to our marriage, and we had Jesus at the center. That was all that mattered.

So, I ask again, how can one be sure? I think the truth is, it’s simpler than it seems. As cliche as it sounds, when you know, you know. But also, it takes time to build a relationship to that level (but not that much time). What I mean is that it’s a process–you meet, you date, you get to know each other, you fall in love, you create memories together, you experience conflicts and struggles and learn to resolve them, you test your compatibility, you choose to love each other… and somewhere along the way, you discover that you know. Even when the newness and excitement wears off, and you start doing real-life together, you still feel that knowing. You find that you are not afraid of committing to this person. You find that you are already there.

When somebody is ready, engagement is a promise to demonstrate your commitment, and marriage is the final seal to that promise. Engagement and marriage are the proof that you are committed, but they aren’t the commitment itself–that comes before. In other words, the commitment should already be solidly and firmly in place when you decide to take those vows. It’s not a decision you can make on the spot after you’ve already walked down the aisle! It’s not even a decision you can make on the spot when your significant other is down on one knee. It’s something that you already know in those moments, because it has grown naturally and is ready to blossom confidently into marriage.

Marriage doesn’t change everything. It just declares what is already there. A wedding isn’t the beginning of a life together, it’s just one of the many steps along the way. A wedding won’t solidify a commitment that’s weak to begin with, but it can very easily expose that weakness. On the other hand, when it’s right, weddings can be a beautiful way to celebrate your love and commitment as a couple. But it has to be right, first. (And, sidenote, a marriage can start before a wedding happens, if financing the wedding is the hurdle holding a couple back. Personally, if I could go back in time, I would have gone and gotten married at the courthouse a year before I had my wedding, because we were ready then!)

So if you’re in line to get engaged or married, ask yourself: is it there, or is it not? Are you compatible, or are you not? Are you sure, or are you not? If the answer is “not,” then maybe the knot is not something you should tie. If you’ve been together for many years and you’re not sure (or they’re not sure), it’s likely you never will be. The truth is, marriage doesn’t make a relationship easier or harder. Time is the only thing that changes things, and those changes are out of our control. We can only control ourselves, and decide in our hearts and minds that we will stay the course. Are you ready to do that, or are you not? The answer should be simple.

How to Love Your Significant Other Every Day

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Sometimes, we all need a reminder to actively love the one we’ve chosen to commit ourselves to. After all, love is a verb. Here are five things we can all do each day to love our significant other!

  1. Speak Kindly

I often need to step back and check myself on this one. Sometimes my words and my tone towards my husband are less than loving. The way we speak to those we love matters. Use words that are encouraging, kind, and considerate, and speak in a way that demonstrates how much you care. Control yourself when you feel like snapping at them, and choose to speak gently. And of course, don’t forget to tell them that you love them!

  1. Connect Physically

Little things like holding hands, hugging, kissing, or snuggling on the couch can have a big impact. It can be easy to neglect physical affection after years of being with a person, but it is still important! In a marriage, a healthy sex life is also vital. Physical touch has power to connect and strengthen relationships. Find a way to show your affection every day.

  1. Be Supportive

In a marriage or any committed relationship, there are bound to be times when you must choose between serving yourself or serving your significant other. Take care of yourself, but remember to support your spouse, too. Support means being a teammate, managing your lives and home and family together, and working as a team to balance it all. Support means encouraging the dreams of your significant other, and doing what you can to help them achieve those dreams. Support also means being open and accepting of emotions—both yours and your spouse’s.

  1. Use Their Love Language

Not everyone gives or receives love in the same way. If you don’t know your love language and that of your spouse, find out what it is! Then, learn to speak in it. I know that my husband feels most loved through physical touch, so I need to make this a priority. He knows that I also need quality time and words of affirmation to feel loved, so he tries to show his love in those ways. You can take a love language quiz here, and purchase the incredibly helpful Love Languages book on Amazon here.

  1. Pray for Them

One of the most important things you can do for your significant other is to pray for them. Pray for their safety, their health, their career success, their happiness, their spiritual growth, their relationships, their dreams… and anything else you can think of! Praying for somebody you love not only invites God to work in their lives, but it changes your heart to be more humble and loving towards that person.

Happy loving today, my friends!

 

The Fifth Year

Yesterday, Cory and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Woo!

It’s strange to think that we’ve been married only five years, yet we’ve had Cody for almost two of those years. It feels like we’ve been married for a really long time but Cody still feels somewhat “new,” if that makes sense. It’s must be true that kids make time go faster!

This year of our marriage started out with celebrating Cory turning 24 in August—which of course, means he’ll be turning 25 this month. But at least for the months of July and August, we get to enjoy being the same age, 24. 🙂

In August of last year, I also started my final college course which I needed to complete my Associate’s degree. (The class ended in December and I passed.)

In September, we went to Knott’s for the first time with Cody to celebrate Cory’s birthday, and it was really fun! He had a great time walking around and exploring the park with his grandparents, while Cory and I were able to enjoy the rides with our friends. That month was also the month I met Noelle, one of my closest mom friends these days, and of course Cody met her son who is a couple of months older and now one of his closest friends (as close as toddlers can really be, anyway). September was also the month I started seeing a therapist to try to address the post-partum/lifelong depression I had been dealing with. For the record, I didn’t find that it helped me, and I stopped after about two months. Also for the record, I have been doing better slowly but surely over the past year!

In October, we celebrated Cody’s first birthday with a small family party, which was really special to me. That month we also enjoyed some fall festivities such as visiting the pumpkin patch and dressing up for Halloween. We dressed up as a food chain! Cory was a coyote, I was a rabbit, and Cody was a carrot. =J Hehehe.

In November and December, we enjoyed celebrating the holidays with our families. This year, Cody was a little more cooperative and interactive than last year, which was nice. He’s never been the easiest traveler or the most outgoing child, but he’s becoming a little bit more pleasant to take places as he gets older. I also started a new job in November working in the childcare for my church’s women’s ministry, once a week, which has been a nice way to make a little bit of extra money and spend my time in a positive way. Plus, Cody comes with me and it’s fun for him to play with the other kids and be socialized. November was also when we went on the annual retreat to Las Vegas with Cory’s company, which was pretty fun even though I’m not the biggest fan of Vegas. We were able to see a Cirque Du Solei show and enjoy an amazing company dinner, which was awesome!

In January, we celebrated the New Year with our one year old by going to bed well before midnight. It’s a wild life for parents with toddlers! 😉 That month we went on a trip to Big Bear with my brother Jeremiah and his girlfriend Haley, which was Cody’s first encounter with snow and was a lot of fun.

In February, Cory and I celebrated our dating anniversary, of eight years as a couple! We didn’t do anything big, just enjoyed a special meal together, which is typically how we celebrate things like that. That month, we also bought our guinea pigs, Penelope and Charlotte, which was followed by several expensive vet bills as a result of the improper care they had been receiving at Petco. For anybody interested in getting a pet, please consider adopting instead of shopping. We learned the hard way that pet stores really don’t treat animals the way they should, and by shopping for pets, we supported that practice. Fortunately, our piggies are doing well now and are happy, healthy, and lots of fun.

In March we celebrated my older brother’s birthday with a family day including a trip to the beach. That was also one of Cody’s first times playing at the beach.

In April we welcomed two foster puppies into our home as volunteers for a local dog rescue. They were both adopted within a month and a half, and we decided to get a puppy of our own. We adopted Lila from the shelter as a tiny 3 pound, 10 week-old puppy. She’s now somewhere around 10 pounds, and almost her adult size at 6 ½ months old. She’s a Jack Russel Terrier and Chihuahua mix, and because she’s a small dog breed she will likely be fully grown by 9 months old. We were looking for a small dog to complete our pack, and Lila does that perfectly with her big personality in a tiny body. =)

In May, we decided to pursue a dream we had of buying a trailer for traveling, and we started by buying a truck with a good towing capacity. We sold our beloved Yaris, and Cory has been enjoying driving his big manly truck ever since—she’s a diesel, and her name is Wanda, by the way.

In June, we bought our trailer and we’ve already used it for a few trips to Orange County in the past few months. It’s been awesome! We love being able to have a small home away from home wherever we go. Also that month, I was finally awarded my Associate Degree in Arts for General Studies, focusing in Fine Arts and Humanities. Woot! Now I feel good about shelving my college studies until I’m ready to possibly pursue a teaching career, way down the road after I’m done having babies. 😉

In July, we celebrated my birthday by going to Knott’s once again (we’re big fans of Knott’s Berry Farm). We also sent our puppy Lila to training camp, because she was proving to be difficult to train. Lastly, I applied, interviewed, and was accepted into the Hypnobabies Instructor Training program for the 2017 training! That’s very exciting for me, because it means I will be able to become a certified Hypnobabies instructor. In less than a year I will see my dream of being a birth educator come true! I can’t wait! On top of that, I decided to try to go back to complete my Christian Life Coach training while I’m at it, and I was welcomed back to the program graciously. That class will start in January and run through May, at which point I can graduate and become certified as a life coach.

Which brings us back around to August. Earlier this month we celebrated my dad’s 50th birthday with a big surprise party. That was a lot of fun, and a special time for my family to show my dad how much he means to us. Then last week we were reunited with Lila as she graduated and came home a much better behaved dog. It’s nice to have our pack together again!

It’s been a great year, filled with many small but exciting changes in our lives. I am looking forward to the year ahead for starting my businesses as both a birth educator and a life coach. Cory and I are also planning to add to our family, God-willing, by welcoming our second baby to the world sometime in 2017. Let the baby fever begin!

I love the life that Cory and I have built together. God has done so much for us, and it’s seriously amazing to look around at the blessings he’s poured out on our lives. I’m thrilled about what the future holds for us. God is so good!

To my incredible husband, I love you so much and I am the luckiest woman in the world to have a husband like you. You’re the best partner in life I could have imagined. Happy Anniversary, my love! <3

The Keys to Marriage

This month, Cory and I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. In honor of that, I wanted to write about some of what I have learned about marriage over the years.

Today, Cory and I are just as committed to staying married forever as we were when we said our vows. We have had struggles to face as a couple, and we have certainly had our share of fights and disagreements, and times when we haven’t been very connected as a couple. Yet despite these things, we are still in love and determined to keep our marriage strong. Reflecting lately about why that is, I formed a theory about the keys to marriage—four ingredients which are needed for success. Obviously, this is all my opinion and based on my own experience and observations, so you can take it or leave it. But I believe that the four keys to marriage are compatibility, commitment, communication, and Christ.

For many years, I believed that it was mainly about commitment. You just decide to stay married forever, and you do. And I still do believe that is part of it, but I also know that commitment means more than just deciding—it takes a lot of energy to turn that decision into reality. Aside from that, commitment isn’t the only thing that makes marriage work. I realized this through a conversation with my mother-in-law, who shared her thoughts that compatibility may be the most important factor in determining whether or not a marriage lasts. It made me realize how much I took for granted the compatibility that Cory and I share, and the importance of these other factors.

In my theory, these four keys to a successful marriage can work in different ways. All relationships have varying levels of compatibility, commitment, communication, and Christ, whether those aspects are completely absent or fully present. A great marriage can happen even when one of these areas is weak, usually because another area is strong enough to compensate. The best part is that even if all of the other areas are weak, a marriage can still succeed if Christ is strongly present—which happens when he’s invited in and given control.

So what do I mean by each of these words? They’re not just catchy words that start with the letter C. They each have a very important role to play in a marriage.

Compatibility means agreeing on fundamental beliefs, especially faith. It is Biblically supported to say that Christians should marry other Christians, and for good reason. Two people who hold conflicting beliefs about important matters such as God, the purpose of life, and eternity will always have a rift between them that can’t be crossed. It limits not only the level of intimacy that a marriage can achieve, but the strength of the team that the marriage represents. It causes great pressure for either individual to change their beliefs, potentially for the wrong reasons, or to lose one’s faith altogether. Compatibility on a faith level is vital for a strong marriage. While no two people are at the exact same place in their spiritual walks, I feel it’s wise to at least be in the same time zone, spiritually speaking.

Compatibility is also about sharing other similar beliefs and interests. It isn’t important to agree on everything or be exactly alike—differences make life interesting and help us grow. I do feel that it’s important to agree on any topics which are extremely important to either person, or at least agree to respect the other person’s views as valid and be willing to moderate your own views, and vice versa. It’s also important to share a handful of meaningful interests, if only because spending time together and doing what you enjoy should be, well, enjoyable! Similar beliefs and interests bond and unite, and that’s important for a strong relationship. Yet another important aspect of compatibility is simply getting along. Every couple fights, and that’s okay—what matters is that fighting isn’t the main activity. Even more important is a couple’s ability to resolve conflicts in a healthy way, which is both an aspect of compatibility and communication. This is a skill that can be learned and developed over time, if it’s not something that comes naturally.

Lastly, a compatible couple is one that can work well together. One of the things that I think makes Cory and I a strong couple is that we are an excellent team. We work well together in life, and because of that we are able to support each other and navigate through difficult seasons without falling apart.

Part of working well together is communication, which is my second key to marriage. Communication means being able to broach difficult topics with your significant other, clearly explain how you feel, listen carefully to what they have to say, and generally be on the same page. It means expressing feelings instead of holding them in. It means sharing the details of your life with your spouse. It means caring about what your spouse has to say and listening attentively. I will freely admit that communication is one of the biggest struggles as a couple for me and Cory, and it’s something that we’re working on very often.

Conflict resolution is a form of communication that is extremely important in a marriage. Conflict is bound to happen, and being able to resolve it in a way that is respectful to both people is invaluable. Sweeping conflicts under the rug, having explosive arguments, or insisting on always being right are all unhealthy for a marriage. Conflict resolution is the antidote. Since conflict resolution skills don’t come naturally for most people, this is something that needs to be intentionally learned and applied. Do Cory and I always resolve our conflicts in a mature and healthy way? No, I can’t say that we do. This is another area in which we are working to improve.

Commitment is my third key to marriage, and it’s the one that I have always felt most strongly about. I think this may be because I have seen many marriages fail because of a lack of commitment, and it frustrates me. Yet commitment is not an easy thing to truly have. It means hard work instead of complacency, choosing to love somebody even when you don’t feel like it, and consciously rejecting thoughts about what shade of green the grass might be on the other side. Commitment in marriage means that you both agree that marriage is permanent, that you accept that it won’t always be easy, and that you are willing to put in effort to make the relationship work. Above all, commitment means that you choose to love your spouse, even when your relationship isn’t as thrilling or new as it once was. A marriage can and should have passion and a deep, growing love—frequently, these are things that must be chosen and pursued as well.

My fourth and most important key to marriage is Christ. I say this because I truly believe that even if you don’t have the best compatibility, or communication skills, or a strong mutual commitment, Jesus can be the ingredient who makes it work anyway. Having Jesus in a marriage means following his example by putting each other first and giving grace to each other and yourself. Selflessness and grace can overcome a lot of problems within a marriage. Having Christ in your marriage also, and most importantly, means that you rely on God’s strength to do what you could not do in your own power. If I relied on my own power and just tried really hard, it still would not be enough because deep down I’m a selfish human. Yet as a new creation in Christ, I know that God sees me as so much more. He sees me as perfect, and he gives me power to pursue holiness in every area of my life, including my marriage. Will I mess up sometimes? Yes. Will my marriage stay strong anyway? Yes. This boat won’t sink because Jesus is in it with us.

Over the years, I haven’t given God as much credit as he deserves—and he deserves all of it—so I’ll just say this now. Jesus is the most important ingredient in our marriage. He is the reason we are together, and the reason that we always will be.

These keys to marriage are areas in which every couple has room to grow. And when Christ is in a marriage, he provides the tools, motivation, and strength to do just that. I started this blog as a place to write about marriage, and I hope that this post helps somebody somewhere to grow stronger in their own marriage. Because marriage matters to me, and more importantly, it matters to God.

The Fourth Year

On August 21st, Cory and I celebrated our four year wedding anniversary. This year has been one of the best so far, and also one of the hardest as we’ve been adjusting to caring for a high need baby.

We started off our fourth year last August with Cory turning 23.

In September, we were in the homestretch of our pregnancy with Cody, and we commemorated the experience with a beautiful maternity photo shoot.

In October, we made our final preparations and finally welcomed Cody on the 16th after a long, challenging, and wonderful birth experience.

In November through January, we enjoyed our first holiday season with Cody, which included visits to extended family, time spent with loved ones, and lots of delicious food. At Thanksgiving, I met my older brother’s new (at the time) girlfriend, Haley, who we now all hope and believe will be Cody’s first aunt—he only has uncles so far. She’s a sweet young woman and we’re all very happy to have her in our family!

In December, we had a family photo shoot with 7-week-old Cody to document our newly expanded family of three. Cody’s first trip to Disneyland happened in December as well, to celebrate my stepmom’s birthday.

In January, I finally met some other moms at church and started making friends. I’ve struggled a lot with making friends, especially after high school and college, and although I still feel a need for stronger friendships with other women, it’s nice to finally have some girlfriends again.

In February, Cory and I celebrated our seven year dating anniversary—that’s a long time together as a couple! We always like seeing the number grow every year, adding to our sense of accomplishment. We also started considering buying a house in February, but ended up deciding to wait until we’re ready to move to Tennessee, which is our end goal, and keep on renting until then.

In March, we moved into a new house closer to Cory’s work, which we really like.

In April, we celebrated Easter with a visit to my mom’s extended family out of town. Cody turned 6 months that month, and by that time had turned into a very active, demanding baby. He was and still is lots of fun, but boy, our baby can be draining!

In May through August, we enjoyed our first summer with Cody including fun times at the pool, hanging out with family, and watching as he became fully mobile with crawling and walking by 10 months old.

In July, I turned 23 years old, and Cory and I enjoyed our almost-two-months of the year of being the same age.

And that brings us full circle to our anniversary! It’s been a fun year, our first as parents, and we’ve enjoyed it for all it’s worth.

Soon, we’ll be celebrating Cody’s first birthday. Then, in the next year to come, we are hoping to become pregnant with our second baby, hopefully sometime around Cody’s 18 month birthday. That will mean we can welcome little Abigail or Daniel into the world when Cody’s between 2 and 2 ½ years old, which is our new optimal age gap. Other than that, we’re just focusing on living life, being the best parents we can be, and doing it all for God’s glory. He’s been so good to us, and we are in a great place in life because of him.

 

Happy Anniversary Bun! I love you, and I always will. Thanks for being an amazing husband and a fantastic father. I can’t wait to watch our family grow and grow! <3<3<3

Heather Cory Westropp Maternity Session Baby Cody TMinspired Photography Orange County Photographer-65 copy 20141016-IMG_4405 IMG_20150116_171406 IMG_20150416_171643 IMG_20150716_170842 IMG_20150828_154709

The Third Year

Today, Cory and I celebrate our third wedding anniversary. Since we’ve been together for six and a half years, it often feels strange to realize that we’ve only been married for three of those! At the same time, each year we are excited to mark another milestone in our marriage, and remember the ups and downs of the past year together. Most of all, we enjoy looking to the years ahead and dreaming of what great things God has in store for us.

This past year has been a year of excitement, as we prepare to welcome our son Cody into the world. When the year began, though, we were still recovering from the loss of our first baby, Sam. Moving into our third year, we had a lot of big questions for God, and our faith was being tested. He stayed by our side during that tough time, and we came through with stronger faith than before. Even after our hearts were healed, though, we still had a lot of waiting to do.

Our time of waiting between losing Sam and becoming pregnant with Cody was when God was doing a lot of work on us. There were a few big struggles that we were dealing with at that time, which we realized one by one that we needed to give to God. One of the areas of struggle may seem silly, but it truly has been a huge weight on our shoulders—our dogs’ separation anxiety. Our older dog, Marley, has always had issues with anxiety, but in the past couple of years he’s gotten worse. It came to the point where we were unable to leave him alone at home for even the shortest of errands, because he would panic and try to chew his way out of the house to get to us. We tried everything we could think of, from extra training to tranquilizers, and many things in between. One idea we had was to adopt another dog, in the hope that Marley would feel more secure with another member of his “pack” at home with him. We’d been thinking of getting another dog anyway, and then we saw Sky’s picture online and the rest is history! We adopted her and our family grew.

Unfortunately, Sky had a lot of behavioral issues of her own, including separation anxiety (though much, much milder than Marley’s). We already knew that Marley would never be able to be confined to a crate, because of his anxiety and capacity to chew his way out even to the point of injuring himself. But we were disappointed to discover that Sky also was not crate-able, because her anxiety resulted in a very messy “code brown” situation each and every time we tried it. We had to accept the fact that when we left the house, the dogs would be loose—we only hoped that they wouldn’t make too big of a mess in terms of destruction and accidents.

After continued frustration and various attempts to eliminate the separation anxiety issues, we finally came to the end of our rope. There was nothing left for us to do but give it to God—it was simply beyond our ability to fix it. And so, we wrote up a short confession to read to the dogs when we left the house. It goes like this: “Marley/Sky, God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I command any fear or anxiety to leave Marley’s/Sky’s mind at once and to stay away in Jesus’ name. Jesus is the ruler of this house, and he’s the prince of peace, which means that you have peace.” We say this to them, first to Sky then to Marley, each time before we leave the house. And it really works! I’ve watched in amazement as Marley’s shaking and panting stopped immediately the moment I said Jesus’ name. Since we started to use this confession, our dogs have been calm and relaxed every time we leave the house.

After all of the things we tried to solve this problem on our own, we had to laugh at the fact that God just wanted to take care of it all along. He used this one area of struggle to teach us the same lesson in other areas too. One of those areas was my continual battle with allergies. At that time, I was taking allergy medicine every day and using a humidifier every night in an effort to keep my severe hay fever at bay. Even with those habits in place, I still suffered bouts of allergies that would leave me feeling like I had a bad cold for days or weeks. I was aware that there were risks to taking allergy medicine while pregnant, so I kept hoping and praying that my allergies would go away before we became pregnant again. Eventually, I decided to simply take a leap of faith and stop taking my medicine. Our success with the dogs had given me confidence in God’s ability and willingness to take care of me. And of course, when I chose to trust God and hand my allergies over to him, he took them. I haven’t taken an allergy pill or suffered from hay fever since.

Our biggest struggle of all in the first half of this past year, though, involved concerns about my fertility. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had irregularities in my cycles, but I never thought it was a serious issue until we miscarried our first pregnancy. After that, I started to wonder if I had some kind of hormonal imbalance that was causing my irregularity, and perhaps had even resulted in my miscarriage. I decided that before we tried to have a baby again, I needed to figure out what was wrong in my body. I tried going to doctors for help, but I couldn’t find anybody who understood the problem or knew the right tests to run to help me. I tried making dietary changes, and I looked into natural remedies for hormonal imbalances, but nothing seemed to be the right solution. Eventually, Cory and I decided to just wait for things to work themselves out, and continue to pray about it. But we did not want to try to conceive again until we knew that my body was doing what it needed to do.

After we saw God’s miracles in other areas of our lives, though, I began to realize that in the area of trying to have a baby, I was making choices out of fear. I was trying to prevent another tragedy by relying on my own limited human ability to control our next pregnancy. Yet nothing was changing, and all I was really doing was refusing to trust God. When this realization hit me, I talked to Cory about it and together we decided that we would try again to get pregnant, despite the fact that my cycles were still very irregular. It was a choice to trust God to take care of us. And as it turns out, that was all it took because found out that we were pregnant two weeks later!

By the time our pregnancy with Cody began, our faith was stronger than it had ever been. God used the long months of waiting to develop our trust in him, and that was exactly what we needed for the months ahead. Despite what happened with Sam, Cory and I have never been in fear during this pregnancy. It amazes me to think about it now, really, because I would have thought that experiencing pregnancy loss once would taint all of my future pregnancies. Yet God truly did heal me of that, and my confidence in this baby’s protection hasn’t wavered. I’ve chosen (and I continue to choose) to trust God with this pregnancy, and he has not failed me.

The second half of our third year of marriage has been 7 (going on 8) long months of pregnancy. I know that for some people, pregnancy seems to go by very fast. For me, though, it’s been crawling by. The first trimester was a hard time because of the nausea and fatigue that I experienced. We got through it, though, and then we were surprised to learn that we’re having a boy! We’ve had our baby names picked out for years, so we knew right away that our son would be named Cody Roger.

In our second trimester, we were blessed to be able to go on a cruise for our babymoon. It was a wonderful, relaxing vacation for us and we treasure those memories. During that trip was also the first time we felt Cody kick from the outside! He hasn’t stopped moving much since. Late in our second trimester, we started our childbirth education with Hypnobabies and learned valuable tools for having a calm, comfortable birthing time. We also had to change midwives and that led us to decide to have a home birth, which we are now very much looking forward to.

Our third trimester so far has been mostly comfortable, though I’m starting to feel a bit of discomfort because of my ever-expanding baby belly. Cody still moves a lot and often his movements are quite forceful and/or directed at areas that don’t feel good being kicked. He’s also running out of space while still trying to grow, which I can feel very obviously in my ribs (is he trying to tunnel underneath them?). Basically, I’m getting to the stage where it feels as if he’s going to explode right out of my belly at any moment, because there’s just no other way for him to expand further. The t-shirts that used to stretch over my belly are now officially too small to contain me, and my wardrobe is becoming more and more limited by the day. These next 4-9 weeks are definitely going to be interesting!

Pregnancy truly is an incredible feat of the human body. What an amazing design that God has created! I admit that it’s not always the most comfortable or enjoyable process—though I still believe that it can be, and my goal is to one day have enough faith to experience a completely comfortable pregnancy. But at the same time, even with all of the discomfort, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. It really is a miracle and a blessing from God to be able to bring life into the world.

Looking back over the past three years of marriage, I am amazed at where we are now. We had no idea that we’d be able to achieve our dream of starting a family so soon, and now here we are, less than two months away from holding our baby. Our lives have been so blessed, and it amazes me to see what God has done. He is so good!

As we look to the year ahead, I know that it’s going to be a big one. When I write about our fourth year of marriage, I’ll be writing as a seasoned mother with so many wonderful new experiences to share. I’ll be writing about our lives not just as a married couple, but as a family of three. Yet perhaps for the first time in my life, I want this next year to go by as slowly as possible. I want to enjoy every moment of this journey. Year three has been a wonderful season, and we have so much to be thankful for in it. But looking to what’s coming next, I know that our best years really are ahead. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do.

 

Happy Anniversary, my love! We’ve grown up so much since we met as silly teenagers, but even then we knew that we would always be together, and that hasn’t changed. I would choose you again today, and every day. Thank you for being an amazing husband. I love you beyond words! <3

The Second Year

On August 21st of this year, Cory and I celebrated our second anniversary as a married couple. Even though this post is late, I wanted to continue with the tradition I started last year of writing an anniversary post to reflect on the past year in our lives. It’s been a crazy one, so please forgive the length! Without further ado, here is what happened in our second year of marriage.

We started off the year having just moved into an apartment in a new city, about an hour and a half away from our hometown where we both grew up, met, and got married. Leaving our family and friends behind to live in an unfamiliar place was a bittersweet change. We were excited to see what God has in mind for us, since we felt fairly certain he was pulling us towards this new place, but we were also sad to be farther away from our loved ones.

Since our move, we have come to love this city. Most exciting of all, we’ve seen at least a few of God’s reasons for moving us here, and they are definitely for our benefit. This town is much more affordable for us than our hometown in Orange County, yet it still has the safety and beauty of a Southern California suburban city. It’s the place where Cory has found his dream job and where we have found an amazing church. There is no doubt about it; this is the place where we are now happy to call home, and where we hope to raise our family.

When we began our second year of marriage, we were living on the generosity of Cory’s parents, who were supporting us while we went to school. Our plans were to earn our bachelor’s degrees, land jobs as a programmer and an elementary school teacher, buy a house, and then after a few years, have our first child. We were trying to be patient with that timeline, even though waiting 5-6 years to have a baby was a disappointing thought to both of us. Since then, things have changed so much that it truly is nothing short of a miracle from God. By the time our second anniversary rolled around, we were settled in a beautiful house, fully supporting ourselves on Cory’s fantastic job, and in the process of trying to conceive a baby. We didn’t get there overnight, though. Our journey this past year has been an exciting ride!

We’ve had a lot of things to celebrate this past year. Both Cory and I had our 21st birthdays, and although neither of us really care for alcohol, the excitement of reaching the legal age for buying it was still there. Turning 21 is one step further into adulthood and autonomy, after all, and we were both happy to reach that milestone. This year we also celebrated our first Christmas living on our own. We bought a tiny three foot tall Christmas tree and decorated our apartment with the few decorations that we had. Although we went to visit family for the actual holiday, I will always have fond memories of our first Christmas in our own place. Yet another exciting milestone this year was our five year anniversary as a couple, in February. It’s hard to believe how much we’ve changed since we first met at 15 and 16 years old!

This year also brought some big, and unfortunately sad changes in my family. My mom’s marriage ended abruptly, leaving her and my little brother Justin (and their dog, Indie) stuck in Missouri with no place to go. Cory and I offered to let them stay with us, so they drove back to California and moved in that month. Because of the ugly way everything went down, I lost relationships my step dad and two younger step sisters. My heart was also broken for my mom and Justin, whose family was torn apart. It took my mom a little while to get back on her feet, and it was quite an interesting arrangement, having a young married couple, a single mom, a pre-teen boy, two large dogs, a cat, and one noisy cockatiel all in one apartment. We made it work as best as we could, but we were relieved when they moved out in February, and I was glad to see them putting their lives back together. This year was a sad time for Cory’s family, too, as they had to say goodbye to Cory’s grandmother, Katherine, when she passed away at 90 years old. Although the end of life is always sad, the family was able to find peace knowing that she’d lived a long and full life.

Finding a church in our new city was a surprisingly challenging task. It took us until January to find the church we now call home, and that was after many weeks of searching. But we did eventually find Passion Life Church, the week after its very first service. Being a “baby” church, it’s still new and small, but we have high hopes for it to grow into something amazing. We’ve already learned and grown so much from the people who we’ve met there. The most important lesson we’ve learned is that faith is powerful, and that God wants to give us an abundant, full life. Our faith and love for God has certainly grown since we became a part of this family.

Things have also changed a lot in our own little family. We started the year off with a household consisting of us, our dog Marley, our cat Booda, and our cockatiel Rocky. In April, we decided to bring another bird into our family and adopted a baby cockatiel, who we named Samson. It was a lot of fun to see him and Rocky getting to know each other, but unfortunately, we soon became aware of a big problem. We had hoped that Rocky, who had developed a highly unpleasant screaming habit, would improve if he had somebody to keep him company. To our great dismay, Samson did not help Rocky’s screaming, and instead only added another voice to the ear-splitting cacophony. Still, we tried to grin and bear it because we cared deeply for our little feather-babies. After a few months however, we realized that the noise was making us miserable and keeping us from really enjoying our pets. We decided to find a new home for them that was more accepting of cockatiels’ natural noisiness. It didn’t take us long to find a cockatiel-loving lady who was looking for some new friends to add to her home. Although we were sad to see them go, Rocky (who we’ve been informed is actually a female, and is now named Roxy) and Samson are clearly happier in their new home, and we could not have found a more devoted owner.

And so, we were back to being a one-dog-one-cat family. It didn’t take long for us to feel that there was a space to fill, though. One day in June we decided to “just look” at some of the dogs available for adoption in our area. The next day, we had a new fur-baby. We adopted a small, fluffy, white dog who we named Sky, and unlike with Samson, there was no looking back. Sky is an incredibly affectionate, sweet, and adorable addition to our family, and even though Marley politely ignores her in a typical grumpy-old-dog fashion, we know he secretly likes having her around.

As our second year of marriage went by, Cory and I began to realize that we wanted a baby sooner than our earlier plans had entailed. And so, back in December, we came up with a plan to hopefully speed things along. Although we were both still taking college classes full-time, and Cory was also running his small business on the side, he took on yet another challenge and began teaching himself computer programming. Our hope was that he could find a job to support us and a baby, so that we wouldn’t have to wait five or more years after all. We didn’t know if it would work, but we hoped and waited.

At the end of May, our hopes were met and exceeded as we began one of the most exciting and turbulent times in our lives so far. Within a two week period, Cory applied to, interviewed for, and was offered a job as a programmer. It was, and still is, his dream job and we are continually amazed at how blessed we’ve been. God is awesome! He didn’t stop there, though. Cory’s job put us into the perfect position, financially, to have a baby. And since our apartment lease was ending soon, we decided to start looking at houses for rent. We felt it would be better for us to rent for the time being, rather than buy, and we figured that a house would provide a better place to have a baby than an apartment. We looked at only a few houses before we found one we loved—with a price we loved—and we eagerly applied. Within 24 hours, we got the news that we’d been approved! Even though our apartment lease wasn’t quite up yet, we worked it out so we could move that week. To top it all off, a few days before we moved, I discovered that I was pregnant. Talk about a crazy month!

After all of those events, we were overwhelmed with joy and excitement. We could see God’s hand so clearly working in our lives. Everything was falling into place, and we were on the precipice of having the lives we’d been dreaming of. Perhaps it was because we took our eyes off God and started to focus too much on our circumstances, or perhaps it was simply because we have an enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy our lives and our faith, but for whatever reason, that was when things took a turn for the worse. In August, after about 7 weeks of pregnancy, I had a miscarriage and we lost our baby, who we named Sam. That was a very hard time for both of us.

Fortunately, our second year of marriage didn’t end there. God brought us out of that sad place and into a place of increased faith and hope. Through the loving support of our friends and family, and the incredible guidance of our church family and pastor, we were able to heal and grow from this tragedy. Although we will always miss Sam, we will see her someday, and we know that she is not the only baby we’ll ever conceive. We have hope that we will become pregnant again soon, and that I will have a healthy full-term pregnancy.

As we look to the future, we are excited and eager to see what God has in store. I feel confident that this year will bring the biggest change yet, a baby who we can care for and love with all of the passion and commitment that we’ve been blessed to share so far in our marriage. As for the other areas of our lives, I think things will be much more stable this year than they have been so far. We love where we are in life; the only thing missing now is a baby, and we are so ready for this next chapter in our lives. That in itself is a miracle, considering where we were at the beginning of the year, and all of the glory for that goes to God. He is so good.

 

Cory,

Thank you for the last two years, my love. I can’t wait for what’s ahead. <3

I love you forever and ever.

What the Fruit? The Fruits of the Spirit – Part 2

What a lovely thing love is. As a blogger who started off mainly writing about marriage, I obviously have written a lot about it in the past. I have shared my beliefs that love is not just a noun, but a verb, and that love is a choice. I have shared my beliefs about God’s love for each of us, and tried to reflect my love for Him. I have attempted to convey the depth of my love for my husband, although the truth is I don’t think I could ever put that into words. Now, I want to share my thoughts on love as a Fruit of the Spirit.

What is a Fruit of the Spirit, you might ask? I wrote about this in greater detail in my last post, but basically it sums up to this; when we accept Jesus as our savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us, and as we continue to walk with God the Spirit produces a lot of awesome things in us and in our lives. Some of the best of these things are listed in Galatians 5:22-23, and they are appropriately named the Fruits of the Spirit. God uses his Holy Spirit to fill our lives with fruitfulness and abundance. The closer we walk with him, the more fruitful we become.

 

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

 

As you can see, the first thing in this list is love. I think that is significant. Love is the reason for everything, if you think about it. God created us and the entire world so we could love him. When we failed to do that, he sent his son, Jesus, to sacrifice himself so that we could be reconnected with God and all of his perfection. Since the beginning of time, God has desperately loved us and wanted to be loved back by us.

In Matthew 22:37-40, we are told that love is our greatest calling. “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.’” (NLT). Love is the most important thing that we are supposed to do. Every good thing comes from love, because every good thing comes from God, and God is love.

In 1 Corinthians 13:13, it says “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (NLT). So love is the beginning and the end of everything. Our greatest gift in life is God’s love, and our greatest joy is in loving him back. But love wasn’t just made to be between God and people. As the second greatest commandment makes clear, love is supposed to be between us humans as well. When we have love in our lives, it is a reflection of God. He wants our lives to be full of him, and that means full of love.

There are so many forms that love can take, and they are all part of God’s will for us. He wants us to have amazing friends whom we love and who love us. He wants us to have strong, loving relationships with our family members. He wants us to show love to strangers and neighbors. And of course, he wants us to know his love for us and love him back with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. For many of us, he also wants us to know the romantic, passionate, and unconditional love between a husband and a wife. Not everybody has a desire to be married one day, but for those who do, this is something that God also desires and has planned for them.

You see, the Fruit of the Spirit is not only produced in us, giving us the ability to love others more like him, but it is produced in our lives. The Spirit brings goodness to our lives. He wants to bring each of us who desires it into a strong, happy, healthy marriage that is full of love. It is in this kind of relationship that we can begin to understand even better how much he loves us. When I look at my husband, I know that the love I feel is just a fraction of the love that God feels for him, and for me. And that is really saying a lot, because I have never loved anybody so much!

For those of you out there who are single or in a relationship but not yet married, I pray that this post gives you hope for your future. If you want to be married, and you are walking with God, then you will be. His timing is always perfect. You will never look back and think “You know, this is great but I wish you would have made it happen sooner, God.” I fully believe that if you do have to wait longer than you wish, then when it does finally happen for you, you will look back and say “Wow, I see what you were doing, God. Thank you for being wiser than I.” It doesn’t always make sense to us at the time, but God really does know what he’s doing. And his plans are always for the good.

One last thing; knowing who God is, I can confidently say that although he may allow suffering in your life at times to use it for the good (remember, he never causes it), he does not want the majority of your life to be suffering. If you are in pain because of love right now, particularly romantic love, then please remember that God loves you so, so, so very much. He does not want to see you in pain, emotional, physical, or otherwise. He wants to fill your life with the Fruit of the Spirit, including love. If you walk close to him, then I promise you he will.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Forever and Ever

Yesterday, my hubby and I were discussing our concerns about the way that most people seem to view marriage. For many people, it seems that relationships in general are considered to be mysterious and unpredictable. In this view, whether or not a marriage will work depends on luck and statistics more than anything else. After all, you can’t control how you feel and you never know if one day you might just fall out of love! And if that happens, then divorce is the best solution, because you deserve to be happy, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong! I mean, yes, everybody has the right to strive for happiness, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But when it comes to love, there is more to it than this. Love doesn’t just exist to make us happy, and it is not something that we should only look for from other people. Love can bring us great happiness, but it can also test us and bring us sorrow. And in any case, the greater gift is not receiving love, but giving it to others.

When it comes to relationships and marriage in particular, love is first and foremost a choice. It is a verb, not a noun. Your relationship doesn’t depend on whether or not you manage to capture and hold on to love— it depends on your ability to give and receive it no matter what else happens in your life. I know that I will never get divorced or separated from my husband, because I choose to love him no matter what. Fortunately, he also promises to do the same. Because of that, I know that not only will we always be together, but we will always be happy together. That is what we choose.

I find it tragic that so many other people settle for less. They chase after romance and the rush of falling in love, and ditch out at the first sign of boredom or commitment. People leave their husbands, wives, or significant others with the excuses of “I just don’t love him/her anymore,” or “we’ve drifted apart,” or “I’m too young/old/rich/poor/ugly/pretty/mature/immature/various-other-excuses to be happy with this commitment.” Relationships are valued for what they can give you, instead of what you can give to them. Possibly even more tragic than the breakups and divorces, though, are the cases in which people stubbornly stay in miserable relationships. They refuse to leave, which can be a good thing, but they also refuse to do something about the situation. The point of a relationship isn’t to make you happy every minute of every day, but neither is it to turn you into a hardened, miserable, joyless person. The point of a relationship is love, to give and to receive, and staying in a relationship that doesn’t involve love is not any better than leaving one. The third, and in my opinion the only suitable option, is to make a change. Unfortunately, that often seems to be the last thought for many people.

I understand it to some degree. I know that change can be hard. In fact, sometimes even wanting to change can be hard. The problem is that people, by themselves, often lack the right attitude and willpower to desire and then follow through with necessary changes. And because of that, things never get better. Eventually, they are bound to fall apart.

While we were talking yesterday, Cory jokingly said that there should be some kind of law to ban divorce except under extenuating circumstances. Then, after thinking about it, he revised his idea to just making it harder to get married. But even this, we realized, would not fix the situation. There is no good way to legally prevent people from getting married or divorced. The problem isn’t with the system, it’s with the people. Thinking about this led me to a conclusion that I find myself coming to quite often, with a plethora of different problems. As usual, the answer is God.

You see, our world has a major problem. The problem is us. I mean, it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we’ve made a nasty mess out of things on this planet. Trying to think of ways to solve all of our world’s problems usually makes me feel depressed, because I quickly realize that we can’t solve much of anything. We can alleviate, sometimes, but rarely if ever can we actually solve the issues in our world. It’s just the sad truth, the reality of who we are as humans. There will always be evil, greedy, corrupt, violent, apathetic, and heartless people in our world. To be honest, there will always be evil, greedy, corrupt, violent, apathetic, and heartless moments in each of us. For as long as we are human, we will make human errors. There is nothing we can do to change that, and so our problems will never be solved by us.

But God is not us. He is not human. (Despite the fact that Jesus was human, he was also simultaneously God, and honestly this is a topic for a whole separate post so I’m not going to get into it now.) Because God is, well, God, he can solve any and all problems. And one day, He will! Until then, though, we at least have something that can change the whole equation of our human + relationship = fail situation. You see, God provides help for us.

God can change attitudes, provide strength, offer encouragement, and bring hope. He can heal broken relationships, strengthen mediocre ones, and give endurance to great ones. He will do these things for the people who seek his help. God is the secret ingredient that can protect and preserve a marriage forever, if you let him.

When it comes to relationships, I understand and realize that not every one of them is meant to last. Before the commitment to marriage is made, it is fair and understandable to leave a relationship, even a long-term one, for the right reasons. But the key words here are for the right reasons. In my opinion, a relationship should never be entered if you don’t believe that this person could be someone you would one day choose to marry. Dating just for fun may sound good, but there is a difference between dating and being in a relationship. As soon as you give a piece of your heart to someone, and take a piece of theirs, you are in a relationship. That may mean different things for different people, but I don’t believe that it should ever be taken lightly. Love is capable of causing great ecstasy, but it is also capable of causing great wounds. In any romantic relationship, even if you have not made any commitments or promises to each other, you have the power to deeply wound the other person. With that power, comes great responsibility.

The first relationship a person has is usually not going to be their last, and that may be unavoidable. Still, a great deal of pain could be avoided if we took love more seriously and gave as much concern to the other person as we give to ourselves.

Love isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be a game of chance. It can be chosen, and with God’s help, it can last forever. I’m in the process of proving it right now.

 

 

On February 24, Cory and I commemorated our five year anniversary as a couple. I didn’t write a post about it because it wasn’t our wedding anniversary, but I wanted to at least say something. Five years deserves some bragging rights, doesn’t it? 😉

Happy belated five year dating anniversary honey! I love you forever and ever! <3

 

 

What’s it Like Being Married to Me?

For the past two weeks, my husband and I have been going to a weekly event at our new church called “Couples Connection.” It’s a four week Bible study/class for married couples, aimed at strengthening and/or improving marriages. While Cory and I have been doing really well, we are always open to opportunities to make our marriage even better. This class has been really great so far, and I wanted to share some of the things that we’ve learned.

The theme of the class is “What’s it like being married to me?” In other words, we are each looking at our own behavior and attitudes towards our spouse to figure out what we can improve or continue doing, so that our marriage can grow stronger.

The first week, the session was framed around the question was “Am I his/her biggest fan?” We focused on thinking about how the things we do either build our husband/wife up or tear him/her down. For example, when we have conflict, as all healthy marriages do, we can either make it destructive or constructive. Destructive conflict involves attacking the person, whereas constructive conflict involves attacking the problem. When we work through conflict together as husband and wife, we need to focus on finding a solution to the problem, not attacking the other person.

The words we say also have a lot of power in a marriage. Our words and our hearts should be truthful and loving. Vowing to tell the truth consistently, completely, and kindly is extremely important for establishing and maintaining a deeply trusting relationship. It is also very important to use words of affirmation to let our husband/wife know that we love, appreciate, and admire them. As a wife, I need to remind my husband that I believe in his ability to lead our family. As my husband, Cory needs to remind me that he cannot do it without me. We are in this life together, no matter what, and it is our job to remind each other that we’ve got each other’s backs. My husband and I have been working on using our words to build each other up, and reminding each other that we are, in fact, the other’s biggest fan.

Last week, the question was “Am I keeping the flame alive?” We learned about four ways to either tend or neglect our romantic relationship. We need to give each other attention, affirmation, affection, and adventure if we want to keep the fire burning. On the other hand, we neglect our spouse when routine leads us to pass each other by, when we stop putting in effort, when sex becomes a task, and when boredom and complacency are the norm.

My husband and I made a vow before we got married that we would not only never get divorced, but that we would have a happy and healthy marriage. To us, it is not enough just to tough it out and stubbornly refuse to get divorced no matter what; we want to make sure that we never get divorced because we would never, ever, ever, ever, ever want to. In order to make sure that we stay happy and healthy, Cory and I know that we can never stop working on our marriage. Otherwise, we could end up in the dreaded roommate-style marriage, where we act more like coexisting roommates than a married couple.

The things that we learned last week are so important to keeping our romance alive. We have to make sure that no matter how busy or stressed out we may be, we make time to notice and connect with each other every day. Right now, Cory and I are together all day every day, so it’s really not a problem. But someday, when we have kids and jobs outside the home and all sorts of crazy things on our schedules, we will need to remember this. The pastor teaching this class said something last week that I think every family should think about; he said that what kids need most are happily married parents. While I know that this isn’t technically true, from a child-development standpoint, I think the idea is valuable. Kids don’t need a mile-long list of extracurricular activities to be successful and happy when they grow up, but having a family that is harmonious and happy is extremely important. Making your marriage a priority is not only good for you, it’s good for your kids. Part of that means taking the time to connect meaningfully with your spouse every day.

Another important thing that we have to do is to give each other affirmation. As I already said, reminding each other that we believe in the other can go a long way. Affection and intimacy are also, obviously, a huge part of keeping the flame alive. Sex should never become a task , chore, or obligation; if it does, then something must be done to change that. To experience the true intention for marital intimacy that God planned is one of the greatest gifts in life. Sex can be an act of worship when it’s enjoyed within a marriage, and it reaffirms the connection between a husband and wife.

Affection in other forms is also extremely valuable. A simple hug, kiss, or caress is an easy way to remind your honey that you love him/her. Saying “I love you,” having conversations, or even just keeping each other company are all ways to show affection. Whether you’ve been married for one week or 50 years, these things should never become obsolete.

The last way to tend a relationship that we learned about last week is to give your partner some adventure. Boredom is an enemy to romance! Although planning outings together takes time, effort, and money, it is a vital ingredient to a lasting marriage. Doing fun things together doesn’t have to be a huge affair— it can be as simple as making a special dinner, lighting some candles, and giving each other massages. That being said, it is important to try to do new things, too, to keep things interesting. Planning a surprise activity every now and then can be a great way to add some spice to a marriage.

Cory and I have already started to use many of the things that we’ve learned in this class so far, and we’re excited to learn more ways to make our marriage the best that it can be. I’m loving being married to him more and more every day (which says a lot, since I already loved being married to him so much!) and my goal is for that to never change.