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…

I 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 :).

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.

But Do They Really Get It?

Sometimes I sit and wonder if my husband really gets what I do, whether it be home with our daughter all day or just the generalized wifely duties. I try my best to do everything and maybe that’s the problem, but sometimes I just feel like he doesn’t get or appreciate it. Sometimes I feel like we’re arguing over the fact that I left some lights on which needed to be shut off instead of appreciating that I was able to pick up around the house and make dinner.

It’s frustrating. It really, really is. On the flip side, I get what he does, maybe not completely but for the most part. I get that he’s the major source of our income and works hard each and every day to provide for our family. I get that he has stresses about his job, its security, our family and being able to support us. I can’t imagine the stress of that financial responsibility. And maybe I also don’t always show or tell him how much I appreciate what he does…and maybe that’s the problem.

When we both stop appreciating one another, we start resenting. Resentment is the worst. It causes a build up of anger, disappointment, sometimes jealousy and overall frustration. It makes us snap over little things. It causes us to dislike something or someone little by little. And in marriages, it takes away some of the compassion, love and support we should always have for one another. It takes away our ability to understand, to have empathy for, to reason with and to find patience. Resentment is an evil feeling that if continued too long, can really wreck havoc on ourselves and our relationships.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not perfect. At times, I can be impulsive, say things without thinking and can go from zero to sixty in an instance. I am not proud of these things, but again, I am not perfect and all I can do is try to improve these behaviors. But when I feel unloved, unappreciated and misunderstood, I have a hard time being anything but resentful.

This is when a new pattern of thinking needs to happen. This is when I need to express what I’m feeling and hope my husband would do the same. Instead of harboring anger, I need to channel my frustration into love. I need to remember that we are a team, we are in this together and the way I say things to him can determine how a conversation will go.

But the question still becomes, does he really get it? I think so, or at least, I hope. Because I am trying my hardest to be the best mom, wife and employee that I can be. I am trying to balance it all without losing myself in the process. And maybe I don’t always appreciate him the way he doesn’t always appreciate me, but at the end of the day, I hope we can take the time to find the appreciation in one another. And when all else fails, there is always hope. Hope for a change, hope for tomorrow and hope for the chance to make a difference. I will always have hope for us and our relationship.

On some level, we all can be unappreciative of our blessings. The important thing to remember is we can always find our way back. Appreciate what you have, for at any moment, it can be taken away from you.

Keeping Your Marriage Alive

Having kids changes things. It changes everything. But the one aspect of your life it changes the most is your marriage. The minute you bring that little bundle of joy home it’s longer the two of you, but the three (and maybe even eventually four or five or six!). It’s no longer reckless responsibilities, sleeping in, hangovers that leave you useless on couch all day, leaving the house on a whim and overall your sense of freedom.

You are now attached to another human being for the rest of your life. You are responsible for their well-being, their upbringing and their overall morals and values and their overall safety and security. You are their provider, their protector, their teacher, their guide and their unconditional love. You are their parent and no one can ever take that away from you.

The beginning months of parenting take a took a toll on my marriage quicker than I would have ever expected. We fought about the unknown, the fears, the insecurities, what we each felt was right or wrong and all of the changes we didn’t fully know how to handle. We were sleep deprived, scared, stressed out, frustrated, exhausted and overwhelmed. But we were also incredibly blessed, crazy in love, excited, grateful and overjoyed.

The good definitely outweighed the bad but it didn’t take away from what the bad did to us. We neglected our marriage and each other. We put our relationship on hold. We lost some of the love. We knew we needed to get out, it was just a matter of when. As much as it made us nervous (and me, super anxious!) to leave our little angel, we knew it was time. We ended up having a night out for our anniversary in August. Emma was a little over three months old. It was then we reconnected. We talked, we laughed and we even got ga-ga over pictures of our peanut. But most importantly, we found our love again, our spark. We found the reason we fell in love because it seemed to have gotten a little lost as we transitioned into parents.

I recommend that every couple who are parents go on a date night. And no, not a night to celebrate a friend’s birthday or a work event, but an actual date just the two of you. This is time to get away from the kids, the technology, the laundry, the dishes and everything that keeps you from noticing and spending time with one another. A night to celebrate just the two of you and really express how much you appreciate one another.

My husband and I recently had an overdue date night. With a few other big changes happening in our lives, we needed to get out. We needed to reconnect. And we did. It was amazing! I felt like it was one of our first dates all over again as we held hands and kissed in public.

The strength of your family lies in the foundation of your marriage. The love you have for one another will pour into the way your children view relationships. Life is short. You never know when it one of you will no longer be here. Cherish your love and one another. Never stop trying and never give up. Remember the day you two said “I do” and remember to take the time for just the two of you.