My Last First Date…

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Seven years ago today I went on my last first date. Around that time, I had been going on a good amount of first dates. I had been in a series of serious relationships prior to and fed up with they way they dragged on for years only to end in heart break. I really just wanted to find the person I was to spend the rest of my life with and decided if the first date wasn’t a hit, I wasn’t going to try and make something happen.

My now husband and I spoke on the phone for a few weeks before our first date (which I fearfully canceled a few times). The conversations were so great I worried it would end up like all my other recent first dates….in disappointment. However, I had a small amount of hope that maybe this time would be different. I was caught in the middle of hopeless romantic and negative Nancy. After my second cancelation I’ll never forget him saying over the phone, ‘Renee, we are going on this date.’ We rescheduled for the final time and I went on my last first date.

It still feels like yesterday. I remember impatiently waiting for him. He hit traffic and texted me he was running a little late. I was nervous, excited, scared and filled with so many emotions and then he walked in. We were already Facebook friends so I knew what he looked like. He smiled and walked towards me and I melted. I knew this was it. I’m marrying this man. Sounds silly, cheesy and totally cliche but it’s true. He smiled and I fell in love.

We didn’t even order dinner yet and he was already asking to see me the next day. We spent the next two weeks together and by my birthday (August 20th) he told me he was falling in love with me. He was it. He was the one. He’s still the one.

Now, we are married (celebrating five years at the end of the month) with a toddler and a little baby boy (!) on the way. Our journey isn’t always a fairytale and we definitely have our moments but oh do I love this man. Even when he drives me crazy I still just love him so much. I love him not only because I chose him but HE CHOSE ME. He didn’t have to marry me. He could have married anyone, but he picked me. He fell in love with me. I am far from perfect but he never tells me that. He only builds me up. He reminds me what a great job I’m doing and how proud he is of me. He tells me he loves me and he shows me. He makes me better.

Isn’t that the hopes for one another as spouses? To make each other better? To want to be better? To give the love we want to receive. To do things because we care without the expectation of something in return? Marriage isn’t easy…then throw kids in the mix….WHOA….marriage just became a whole new ball game…but sometimes it’s nice to go back and remember the reasons you fell in love. Remember why you both say YES!

I would never want to experience this life with anyone other than him. The good times, the bad times and everything in between…he is ALWAYS there for me. Seven years ago today he stole my heart, and I’m so lucky he’s never let it go. I love you MPD. Here’s to us….

It’s Just Not the Same…

cartoon-wedding-couple-doodle-card_23-2147493884I vividly remember the day I got married. I can close my eyes and relive all the moments that I cherished from that incredible day. I see myself walking towards my husband-to-be with tears in his eyes, jumping up and down in church when I reached him because I was so excited, being introduced into our reception as we danced to Coldplay and all the little intimate moments that we shared which makes it STILL the best day in my life (followed closely by the birth of our daughter and the day he proposed).

Now…it’s just not the same. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just different. Our marriage, our lives…everything. I’ll be honest in saying I have moments of sadness. I don’t feel like we still look at each other the way we once did. The love isn’t gone, but maybe some of the passion is. We’re busy, we’re older, we’re tired, we’re stressed and we have a baby that consumes every ounce of us!

We lost the right to be selfish because we decided to have a family and maybe we lost a little bit of ourselves. We disagree at times about our daughter, not the way we want to raise her but how each of us does it. We shouldn’t, but we do. I’m quite controlling and particular so I know that isn’t easy for him. However, he’s more laid back and that isn’t always easy for me. We’ve adjusted to being a family, but I think sometimes we forget how to be a ‘couple’.

I wouldn’t say we’ve changed because we haven’t. Things just aren’t the same and there isn’t any other way I can put it. The other night as we went up to bed we kissed goodnight then turned to opposing sides and both went to our phones. And it’s not that we don’t communicate anymore, it just made me sad to think about it. And there’s nothing wrong with what we were doing, it’s just that some days we’re so busy we don’t always take time for ‘us’. Technology has changed our world and a lot of times I don’t think for the better. Sure, we have our nights of cuddling on the couch and watching our shows or a movie but it’s not with the ease and energy we once had.

It’s not the same for a lot of reasons and selfishly, sometimes I want it to be. Sometimes I want to have it all. I want the way we were and I want Emma but I realize that’s not possible…it’s just not. For so long I wanted to get married, I wanted to find that perfect person for me. It was in God’s hands to meet my husband when I did and I couldn’t be happier, I really couldn’t. I knew I wanted a family but I was okay on waiting for that. I wanted time with my husband. I wanted to be selfish because I knew once that baby was there, it would no longer ever be about me. But there is a part of me, a small part, that will yearn for the days when it was easier. And I’m not trying to say that life before Emma was easy and now it’s not. There are always challenges and struggles when it comes to marriage, but choosing to start a family is a true commitment and adjustment to everything you do. Your life will never be the same and for so many reasons that’s a good thing. However, there are those moments back in the beginning when we first started our relationship that I miss…

I read something great the other day that I want to share here: “The easiest part of marriage is falling in love and walking down the aisle. The most difficult part of marriage is 10 years later when the problems have ensued and issues have come about and you still find love. Marriage is not about the beginning, marriage is about the process and still being able to love through all things.”

So while it’s just not the same, I don’t think it was ever meant to be. We will love and grow old and do our best to keep at this thing called marriage. Our lives will only continue to become more busy and our ability to keep up might be overwhelming at times (that’s pretty much how I feel daily!), but at the end of the day, it’s us. It’s him and me. We haven’t changed. And while we may have taken each other for granted, frustrated one another and argued until we were blue in the face, we still have love. We have our love…and that’s the one thing that will always stay the same :).

Ben Affleck and the Experts ARE Right, Marriage IS Work!

I am normally not one to comment on articles unless I am really passionate about the topic, like this article I read here entitled: ‘Ben Affleck and the Experts are Wrong: ‘Marriage is not Hard Work‘. My two passions here are Ben Affleck and marriage, in that order, kidding! Maybe

As we’ve all heard/read, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced after 10 years of marriage that they will be getting a divorce. As a wife and mother myself, this saddens me (despite the huge crush I’ve had on him for the past fifteen years). While we do not know the private details of this situation, the media will speculate and tabloids will continue to exploit these stars (because remember, they’re not people) during this very public split. When I first saw this article, I was quite bothered. The title alone put my head in a tizzy. Marriage is not hard work? What? I mean seriously…WHAT?

The author states she has been married for 31 years. As someone who has only been married almost four, I believe that marriage is hard work. While I realize I don’t have the miles that she does, I agree with Ben Affleck and the experts. Let’s break down this article piece by piece, shall we?

“You are only as happy as your most unhappy child. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Deciding whom you’ll marry is the most important decision you’ll ever make. Marriage is a lot of hard work.”

She seems to be setting up this first paragraph to be all things that people say/believe but aren’t necessarily true. The first sentence for me is one of those puns I don’t like so I’ll skip it. As for ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’, DUH! There have been studies proving this to be true (a study from Harvard Medical School found that people who ate breakfasts of whole-grain cereals had lower rates of diabetes and heart disease compared to skippers). Some may argue with me saying that there are also studies showing breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day and that is true. I, however, don’t think they are as supported. Next, ‘deciding who you’ll marry is the most decision you’ll ever make’. Hmm, what to eat for lunch today or whom to marry? Yeah, I’d count that as pretty weighty. You actually repeat the vows ‘until death parts us’ so unless you’re planning to ‘Dateline’ your spouse, it’s kind of a forever thing and in my eyes, I think spending my life with someone is the most important decision….after what to eat for lunch, that is. And she nailed it with the last statement…’marriage is a lot of hard work!’ She could have stopped there, but she didn’t, so I shall continue.

She links Ben Affleck’s Best Director Argo Oscar speech (highly recommend the movie to anyone who hasn’t seen it), where he mentions that his marriage is work. Well, you know what, it is! And I don’t think he was insulting his wife either, I think he was speaking honestly. You are entering into a binding (and legally, I might add) partnership when you get married. You are fully committing yourself to another. You are saying you will love, support and honor that person until death do you part. You speak the words, ‘in sickness and in health’. Have you ever cared for a sick person? It’s work. The author continues stating that she asked her husband and he agreed their marriage isn’t work. Well of course he agreed with you and for two obvious reasons:
1. She was holding a knife (that part of the article made me chuckle)
2. If he disagreed with her then there would have been a long discussion as to why (and we all know men hate long discussions!)

The article continues about how the author and her husband have asked each other this question over the years and her most recent reply was this: “Not at all. It’s never been work for me. Not even for a day in 30 years.” I told him.

I know I have not been married that long, but my follow-up question to this statement would be ‘do you have kids?’ Because if she does, then I would say that answer above is bullshit. If not, I still call bullshit (and I call it Kate Hudson style…if you haven’t seen ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’ this won’t make sense to you).

My parents will have been married for 35 years this August. I, too, asked them both this question. And guess what? They both agreed that it is! My mom did say that some people would agree with this author, but believes the majority would not. So why is it hard work? Because it’s a relationship that requires effort. It requires being present. It requires making time for one another. All of these things take work. Maybe this author feels complacent in her marriage and for some people, that is okay. They get along and go about their lives. But for me, I just don’t see it.

The author winds down the article with the following: “I am not saying that everything is always perfect, that Mike doesn’t sometimes disappoint me, that I don’t get angry at him. I am not saying that there are not hard times, hard issues, hard problems. But I must say that he overwhelmingly makes it easier to handle these things. So maybe if marriage seems like really hard work, there is something that needs a little fixing.

Mike and I spend hours cuddled up on our couch. He scratches my head if it hurts. He hugs me when I am sad. But he doesn’t consider that work either, because when I am happy, he is happy. And I know the reverse is certainly true, so I do what I can to make him happy too. Did I mention that I sail overnight on the boat every summer taking a three-hour shift on my own in the middle of the night? So is our marriage work? It can’t be. Because I never feel like I need a vacation. Does anyone else have a marriage that isn’t hard work?”

I agree with some of what she’s said above, but her overall message, I do not. My husband and I irritate each other. We disappoint each other too. We fight, we forgive and we continue to love. That’s just simply part of marriage. We also have work stress, personal stress and overall life stress that sometimes spills into our marriage. We have a child that requires our constant attention. We can take each other and our relationship for granted. We can fall or drift apart from one another. And then we reconnect. We work at it. We work at it because marriages just don’t magically stay together. They require two people committing to that relationship. No, it’s not a 9-5 job, it’s actually a 24/7 job that when you don’t put your time into, can really affect its productivity.

This doesn’t mean our relationship needs fixing. That means our relationship is real. We have a love that while it is full of joys, affection and appreciate is also full of sacrifices, compromises and hard work (some of these the author mentions). And by the way, when you are sacrificing and compromising you are working…you are working to satisfy your partner, to keep them happy. That takes work, whether you want to admit it or not. So maybe you believe that your marriage is not hard work, good for you (and I say that in the most sincere way). As for me, I will continue to work at mine each and every day because my goal at the end of it all is to bring out the best in my husband and in me…and how can I ever do that without working on it?

Why I Needed to be Cheated On…

As my husband and I are about to celebrate six years of being together and four years of marriage in August, it got me to thinking about how we became this twosome. His persistence and my resistance;)…and that one dinner which forever changed me…but before our love story, there was my own heart break and why I needed to be cheated on…

First, let me start out by saying cheating is the worst…THE ABSOLUTE WORST. To me, it is the ultimate betrayal. It’s not only a betrayal of your monogamous relationship, but also of your trust. It’s a train wreck to your heart and the reason you wonder if you can ever be so vulnerable with someone again. Cheating can make any person come undone. It’s utterly damaging to every part of you…

After the initial shock (because let’s be honest, even if you slightly suspect it, you never hope it to be true), the questions start rolling in your mind. Why did this happen? Doesn’t he/she love me? And the end-all-be-all…What’s wrong with me? The last question is the saddest because if you’ve been there you’ve asked yourself this. What’s wrong with me that this happened? You start to doubt yourself. You begin to pick apart all the flaws you see and tell yourself those are the reasons. You feel alone, unworthy and unloved. You feel betrayed, deceived and insanely angry. You feel like someone stabbed you and knocked the wind out of you at the same time. You feel lost…

I was cheated on in a past relationship. It sucked. It was one of the worst times in my life. I was beyond devastated. I thought I would never recover let alone find someone I could love and trust again. I was in a bad place for a long time. We were together for three years and I thought he was the one. “Thought.”

But just like the saying, time heals all wounds, time really did. What I thought was love really wasn’t. We were completely wrong for each other. We didn’t have a single thing in common besides a mutual physical attraction towards one another. We were both in completely different places in our lives…professionally, financially and emotionally. We clearly wanted different things but I was too blinded by love to see that. That’s probably the hardest part about really loving someone…you don’t see things the way they really are but how you think they are or how you think you can change them to be. There’s a lot of denial when it comes to love. So…he broke my heart and we broke up. And looking back now, if that never happened I would have stayed in that relationship. I would waited for things to change…for him to change. I look back to the beginning and realize he never really wanted to be with me in the first place! All the games, the waiting, are we or aren’t we…I was so stupid!!!!

But you know? I learned a lot from that relationship. I learned a lot about myself. I learned what I really wanted in a partner and when the time was right, I found him. I was more confident and emotionally stronger than I had ever been. Don’t get me wrong, it took over a year to get myself to that point, but I got there.

In my failed relationship, I found my true self. I found the woman I wanted to be and the man I needed by my side. I didn’t settle. I looked beyond physical appearances to what ultimately matters. Can I spend the rest of my life with this person? When all is said and done, the looks have faded and years have gone by, can we do this? Can we make it? Yes, I’m incredibly attracted to my husband but it’s not the basis of our relationship. Marriage is more than physical, it’s a foundation of friendship. My husband became my best friend and he still is. I finally found someone I could be completely me around. Someone who loved me flaws and all. Someone who wasn’t afraid to show me how much he loved me. I found him. I found the one (some people don’t believe in “the one” but I wholeheartedly do!).

Anyone who has experienced being cheated on knows there is so much more than the act of cheating. And it happens on all levels…dating, engaged, married. It can get nasty and messy and when kids are involved it breaks my heart because sometimes they are thrown in the very middle of it (keep the bad mouthing and arguing to each other or friends if you need to vent, don’t bring your children into it!).

I honestly think cheating is the worst. But you know what? I needed to be cheated on. I needed to get out of a relationship I wouldn’t have left. I needed to be so hurt that I could hate him, move on and then forgive him. I forgave him so I could be free…and happy! He wasn’t going to ever apologize. I forgave him in my heart for me, not for him. I needed it. I needed to let go. And you know what? The minute I did it and truly meant it…I’m talking honestly wishing him well in life, I felt so much peace. I wasn’t bitter anymore. I could see him places and be happy for his new life and my own. I wasn’t secretly wishing he was miserable. And to this day, I still honestly wish him the best.

God had a plan for me and I just needed to trust Him. He blessed me with the most amazing man and I couldn’t be happier. Marriage isn’t easy but I’m with my one my soul loves and that to me was worth it. I would go through all the pain again if it meant I got to be with my husband in the end. So maybe you’re stuck in your relationship or you have been cheated on and can’t let go of the pain or maybe you’ve been the cheater….here is my advice to you…

Don’t settle…he/she is out there. Have faith and patience. Let go of the past and the pain, all it’s doing is causing you harm in the end and finally forgive and ask for forgiveness. Even if you don’t get the apology you want, forgive in your heart and mean it. And if you hurt someone, if you cheated, say you’re sorry. Own up to your mistake. Life is too short. Make your peace. And never stop believing in true love!

I love you MPD. Forever and always.

The Overuse of ‘I Love You’

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It’s wonderful to hear the phrase ‘I love you’. Whether it’s from your child/children, your spouse, a family member or friend. It’s almost magical the way it makes you feel. You are special, you are appreciated…you are loved. It’s even more special when you hear it for the first time from someone you also love. It’s a wonderful feeling to give and receive.

I feel like there comes a point in your relationship, whether it be dating or marriage, where overuse of the phrase ‘I love you’ starts to happen. It becomes as casual as ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’. We say it every time we see the person and on every phone call. We say it so often that it becomes habitual. We say it quick and even mumbled, we use it as an apology, we say it when we’re angry, we say it when we’re needy or need something, we say it because it was said to us first and sometimes we say it when we don’t feel it. The importance of the phrase becomes diminished, less important and all too common. It loses its magic, its importance and its meaning.

Yesterday my husband and I got into an argument. We both went up to bed together but didn’t talk. I said goodnight to which he followed with ‘goodnight, I love you.’ I waited to say it back. I was angry. We didn’t resolve the conflict and I felt like he said it just to say it. I felt like he didn’t mean it. I know he did and he does, but in the moment, it felt fake. I mumbled it back in my unhappy voice and went to bed.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to use this phrase. It’s important to tell those that we love how we feel because you never know what could happen to you or them. The feelings of unconditional love that you share with your family are foundational. They are the pillars which you build your lives upon and around. They are the words that give you hope, strength and the ability to fight through difficult times. But there are also words that when said, do the complete opposite. The phrase is used as a weapon. We use to get what we want. We use it to make our partner feel bad. We say it just because. We say it just to hear it back. We spit it out like word vomit and we selfishly take it in without gratitude.

I’m grateful my husband says I love you, even when I feel he’s saying it just to say. He never fails me there. I remember the first time he said it to me standing in our old kitchen hugging. I couldn’t stop smiling. I still get butterflies when I think about it.

Love is a beautiful thing. If you love someone, tell them…tell them often and always, just mean it. Really, truly mean it. Don’t say it to get out of an argument or to get something that you want. Don’t use it as a test or a punishment. Life is short, love the ones you’re with. One of my favorite sayings is a Swedish proverb, “Love me when I least deserve it, for that is when I really need it.” I’m lucky I have a husband who does this and through it all, I know we will always love one another.