Never Be Ready

When I think about the fact that my husband is getting closer and closer to being ready to find a job as a programmer, I feel both excited and nervous. Within the next three to four months he is probably going to start his programming career, and as long as his first job pays enough to support our needs, we will be able to try to conceive shortly afterwards. That means that I could potentially be pregnant in as little as six months from now. By April 2014, we could have a baby.

That thought is incredibly surreal, thrilling, and nerve-wracking at the same time. Obviously, it is completely up to us whether or not we want to start our family so soon. We have plenty of time to put it off if we decide that we’re not ready yet. The truth is, though, that we both feel very ready. I am eager to start this incredible journey into parenthood, and Cory is equally excited to become a father. At the same time, I can’t help but worry that we don’t quite know what we are planning on getting ourselves into.

Maybe it’s just the result of what other people have said or what I’m sure they will say to us when we decide to become parents so young. “You can’t understand how hard it is until you’re doing it,” some people say of parenting. In particular, people seem to have some pretty firm and negative opinions on young people becoming parents.

A lot of people believe that young parents do not have enough life experience to be wise or give good advice, that they are not mature or responsible enough to raise children, and that they will regret having children so early because it kept them from enjoying their youth. In reality, these are just stereotypes. For many young people in their late teens and early twenties, these things may be true. But it doesn’t apply to all of us! I may only have 20 years of life experience, but God has given me wisdom beyond my years. I matured earlier in life than many people typically do, and I have always been responsible. I have also never felt the need to go through a “wild” stage, and I do not feel that I have missed out on anything because of that.

This is the personality that God gave me. And while I understand that many young people are certainly not ready for parenthood, I also believe that I am not like many young people. And there are others like me out there who are ready to be parents at this age or even younger! In my case, I was eager to take on the commitment of marriage before I even graduated high school. We waited to get married for over a year after becoming engaged because it was what our parents wanted, so by the time our wedding day arrived we were more than ready. Now, I feel the same way about parenthood. I’ve been seriously wishing to have a baby for almost a year now, and at this point it’s really just a matter of waiting for the pieces to fall into place. By the time our little bundle finally arrives, I feel pretty confident that we will be more than ready.

Still, the naysayers out there are doing a good job of keeping that edge of uncertainty alive. Fortunately, there is also the other side of the coin. I know many people who do believe that parenting is manageable and who would support us in our decision. These are the people who realize that while being a parent may be one of the hardest jobs in life, it can be done and it is worth the risk that you take when you decide to do it. As one of my favorite Mat Kearney songs goes, “You’ll never be ready if you keep waiting for the perfect time to come.” I try to keep this in mind when I feel worried about the fast approaching possibility of becoming a parent. I can never be completely ready and there will never be a perfect time, but I certainly can prepare myself as much as possible and make sure that the timing is reasonably appropriate.

Over the past few months, I have been learning as much as I can about child development, parenting, and providing the best possible care for children. I’ve been pushing myself to grow as an individual in many areas, and Cory and I have been continuing to work at making our marriage even stronger. While we both still have many goals for ourselves and for our relationship (and we most certainly always will), I feel that we are doing a good job of preparing for parenthood.

Last week, my classes started up again and I am once again back to a busy work schedule. Having things to do is helpful because it helps the time pass faster and makes life feel purposeful during this time of waiting. As always, I am trying hard to appreciate each day that I am given and not let it go to waste. I’m sure that before I know it, the next big change will come and we will be ready to start our family. Until then, I will be diligently preparing and enjoying the time I have to do the things I love, be with my husband, and take it easy (without a screaming baby in the background).

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.

Slow and Steady

Life is going slow and steady for me right now. Nothing particularly eventful is happening, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does make me feel like I’m waiting. I feel like I’m waiting for this small section of my life to go by so that I can get to the next exciting thing. You may be able to guess what that might be… starting a family, of course.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep busy. I know that I have to live in the present, because if you only live for the future then you miss out on life. So I’m trying to be purposeful while I’m waiting. I’m still focusing on school, with my goal to become a teacher someday, most likely a little bit later when my children are old enough to start school. My first two classes for the spring semester start in just over a week, and then my second two start three weeks later. I’ll be busy with that until May. Luckily, I was able to plan my classes so that the load is slightly lighter this semester (at least I hope). I should have enough time to continue writing, which I’ve been doing a lot of this past week. I also hope to spend more time painting.

There are other things that I hope to fill my life with, too. Cory and I finally found a church out here that, so far, we think fits us really well. We’re going to make it a priority to start going to church every weekend again, and hopefully join a small group too. Once we feel settled in, we hope to join ministries and start giving back with our time and effort. I’m thinking about working in the nursery with the babies or possibly working in children’s ministry again, and I know that my husband wants to try out jr. high ministry. I’m excited to get back on track with church involvement! It has been tough to get connected here with our families and friends still back in Orange County and us driving out so often to visit. Our goal is to find a way to still stay connected to our loved ones out there without missing out on opportunities here.

Lastly, I am trying to take care of my health by eating healthier (which so far, has been pretty successful), and starting to exercise. I’m trying to get my sleep habits under control, too, because right now I find it very difficult to get to bed at a reasonable hour and even more difficult to get out of bed in the morning. I would like to be able to keep a more normal sleep cycle, and I think that getting exercise will help with that.

Having goals like this is helpful to me. It keeps me focused on what’s in front of me, right now, instead of just sitting around and waiting for the future. At the same time, making and reaching these goals feels good because I know that it brings me one step closer to being the person that I want to be when I have children. I want to be as strong as I can be, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, when the time comes. I know that having a baby will not fix any problems; instead, it will bring me new challenges with higher stakes. That’s why I want to make sure that I am as rock solid as possible, both as a person and in my marriage.

Marriage is still treating me well, on that note. Cory and I are constantly taking steps to become more and more healthy in our communication, our connectedness, and our spiritual growth together. Things are going well, and I thank God for giving me such a wonderful husband every day.

Well, that’s all I have for you today. Thank you so much for reading and have a wonderful week!