365 days. 110 articles.

24 Feb

Marriage has, is and always will be such an interesting topic. It’s an institution; a lesson; an ideal; a pursuit; a promise.  It can be exciting, fresh and unpredictable yet still naïve in its youth, boring on occasion, and at times completely chaotic.

While matrimony can be paradise for some or prison for others, the only way to understand is to open its doors, enter it’s new and challenging world, and then survive on its founding oaths; both curse and blessing to those brave enough to domesticate it; marriage is truly NOT for the faint of heart.

In as few as five years, we have fallen together and stood back up. We have utterly failed one another and forgiven. We have found beauty in our sacrifices and rebuilt success with broken dreams. We have spoken our vows and depended on them when in need…

So why do we choose such a daunting lifetime commitment when the odds of surviving what we call marriage are against us?

When it all comes down to it – I think life, though sometimes difficult and unrewarding, is simply better when shared… And to be told its impossible or even naïve hope to believe in marriages that last a lifetime – well… to some of us – that is a challenge we are willing to accept.

This past year has been quite the curve for me, in both my marriage and my writing. In fact, they are both turning a corner once again. It’s kind of funny when you’re writing finally catches up with its original intent. Change is good…

In review and after a year of writing, it’s time to start anew and refocus. So THANK YOU for reading my thoughts and sharing yours with mine. MAO has been a blast.

To the next chapter in all of our lives… And may your marriages be blessed with each day shared!

Cheers with wine!

the Mrs.

P.S. I’m going to leave these posts up for a bit… I’ll procrastinate the cleaning for a little while.

A glance back before turning ahead

25 Jan

As we all look forward to another year of opportunities, it’s important to remember to look back and check out our progress from last year’s goals. It’s easy to start fresh on new ground but if last year’s plans were forgotten will new ones share the same fate?

The Mr. and I married on New Year’s Eve five years ago… And as we’ve learned over the years, it wasn’t a coincidence that we chose this holiday either. Since we met, our lives began to merge with one shared dream or goal after another. We were excited – for everything. Every New Year we made small and big plans – both together and apart…

In our first year, we bought a condo and renovated it; hosted a belated celebration of our marriage with friends and family; and finally, rewarded ourselves with a honeymoon on our first anniversary.

Our second year, I finally graduated from college; we then decided to move across the country for new careers in a thriving economy. We shook off our comfort zones for the glow of opportunity and haven’t looked back since…

The last three years we’ve focused on traveling, debt reduction and our writing. In as little as 3 years we’ve hit multiple new destinations, became debt free in 2010, the Mr. wrote his second book and I started this blog.

There have also been goals that we didn’t reach. Looking back we realized that sometimes we just aimed too high – or even had too many to fulfill within the timeline we gave ourselves. I tend to be the one who focuses on what we failed to finish but the Mr. does a great job at highlighting our successes and thankfully reminding me to give myself a pat on the back for even the smaller accomplishments…

Even though our daily grind was sometimes overwhelming, in the end we were always happy knowing that we used our careers, time and mindsets to support and reflect our shared purpose in marriage.

So while keeping on the lookout for new and exciting adventures, take the time to look back and consider where you have come from. Have your decisions reflected who you are as both individuals and as a married couple? Would you have done anything differently? Are you living your lives to the fullest, and if not, then why?

These answers have a very big impact on your future goals! How could anyone look forward with confidence and excitement if past dreams were forgotten or no longer reflect your current lifestyles? This is where an honest review, although sometimes humbling, can refocus your priorities to reflect your current big picture.

Avoid an unexpected wake-up call by checking on your progress more often than not… And when better than around New Year’s? Be open to new ideas or even complete revisions – goals should be tailored to fit your lifestyle which is apt to change on a regular basis. Once you get the hang of checking in regularly, the fun really begins… With two of you, you have an advantage against most by doubling your efforts to save time and money – who’d have thought that!?

Just start small and keep your expectations realistic – each goal met boosts your confidence and sharpens your focus in both life and marriage. Soon you’ll begin to set your sights higher and nothing will ever seem impossible!

With looking back at what we have accomplished in the past five years, the Mr. and I are more than excited to aim further. We plan to travel the world, build our own house, write books together, and so much more…! Time really flies whether you live day-to-day or plan each one to its fullest – so don’t wait to start on those dreams!

Out of ideas? Here’s a quick list of possibilities… What do you have on your list?

Eliminate/reduce bad-debt
Plan a trip for your anniversary this year (don’t wait for the milestones to celebrate big!)
Increase your charitable donations by % either monetarily or by volunteering your time
Set aside a date night every other week for a whole year
Write your wills together and purchase life insurance
Save up for a house deposit or start researching places you would only dream to live!
Get a financial advisor that can help map your goals financially
Plan and spend more time with friends together
Purchase gym memberships for one another (we all need gym buddies!)
Take a class together – cooking, dancing, art, whatever!
Design your dream house together
Save up and replace that old (insert junk name here)
Research and tackle your dream job (it’s never too late!)
Make room in your house for a new angel or pet

Click here for a more focused goal setting approach within your marriage

Click here for different types of relationship goals to get you started

Cheers with Wine!

the Mrs.

A New Year of continued procrastination…

13 Jan

There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house.
Joe Ryan

I never got around to writing a post for Christmas I’m already giggling.

For some reason I love to procrastinate. Sometimes there’s a good reason to delay…

It’s the extra 15 minutes of the best sleep ever. It’s staying up late to drink wine with a girlfriend. It’s skipping writing to play Lego Batman with the Mr.

So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – belated.

As for this year’s goals, I’ll write them so I have to follow through:

Rename blog – yup.

Write consistently.

Do everything else less.

Life is easier with a shorter list.

Cheers with wine.

the Mrs.

In 5 Words – A History of Marriage

7 Jan

A History of Marriage by Elizabeth Abbott

In 5 Words…

Revolutionized my opinions on marriage.

How times have changed from the old days that we too often cloak in the golden glow of nostalgia! The very nature of marriage is changing…
Elizabeth Abbott

This book was my first non-fiction completely oriented to the topic of marriage. In fact – the Mr. brought it home for me without asking… And I am so glad that I took my time to read this! Bear with me as most of my highlights focus on the issue of divorce, but really it all goes hand in hand with marriage of course :) …

The Mr. was actually the one who picked this up on the new books rack at the library – just published in 2010, Elizabeth does a great job at pulling in relevant topics that enter the typical conversation over coffee. She touches on Lady Gaga, the rising father’s movement, Ellen Degeneres, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie and more…

Elizabeth chronologically analyzes marriage and it’s evolution from the 19th century up to today… I was truly amazed at how many popular notions and beliefs were explored and sometimes even abolished!

With that being said.. and myself being quite the strongly opinionated person, I am humbled to say that I have been wrong in many of them… I will admit that I was the person who believed divorce “equals failure rather than solution, that divorce laws encourage if not actually cause divorce and go hand in hand with the secularization of marriage…”

So… this book really helped to soothe my anger and disappointment towards the rising trend of divorce and separation only to give me understanding and compassion towards those whom divorce offers resolution or even salvation.

The institution of marriage in it’s beginning was purposed as something completely different than today. Marriage represented a contract, for the purpose of furthering a family’s estate, and influence when needed. It wasn’t until the early 1900′s that “Love, erotic as well as romantic, had become so integral to marriage that marriage was sinking under it’s weight.”

But despite this shift, one of the major driving forces behind the practice of divorce started within the women’s rights movement. Not studying much of the topic I never knew what few rights women had in marriage in the late 1800′s and how hard we worked to achieve these basic rights such as child custody and the right to have our own property, wages, or even our own bodies.

The law denied her existence because of couverture, the legal notion that a wife’s being was merged with her husband’s. Without her own identity, a woman had no right to her own property, wages, or body, and the notion of marital rape was inconceivable. Divorce did more than terminate failed marriages or free spouses to remarry. It freed wives from couverture.
Matrimonial Causes Act 1857
Caroline Norton

Thus when divorce first entered the scene of marriage, it “promoted interdependency, with equal right to property, earnings, and child custody and guardianship… The idea was that they would consult with and listen to each other, and neither would force his or her will on the other”

Divorce offered salvation to “the battered wife or abandoned husband, for the wife whose children starved because her “breadwinner” husband owed his wages to the tavern keeper or the card shark, and for the husband whose wife flaunted lovers and neglected the children.”

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Outside these topics… Elizabeth covered much more such as marriage in the past, present, and future; love and sex in marriage; children at the heart of marriage; parenting in modern marriages; gay marriage; money and marriage; weddings and so much more…

This book also does a great job exploring issues at the heart of marriage that many are facing today…

When and why did weddings become so crazy producing bridezillas rather than domestic goddesses?

Could marriage ever be a perfect modernized fantasy like the Cleaver’s or the Anderson’s?

How much impact does a father really have in the upbringing of children and the stability of a home in general?

How has gender equality affected the structure and nature of marriage?

Can wives really be “Molly Maids in the house, Marilyn Monroes in the bedroom and Martha Stewarts in the kitchen” while balancing a career and personal life?

__________________________________________________________

And in the end how did the author feel about all of this?

I believe that children’s welfare is paramount. I believe that marriage with children has a different dimension from childless marriage. I believe that individual women must not be expected to surrender the gains collectively won as a condition of staying married. I believe that gays and lesbians who wish to marry should be able to do so with the same rights and responsibilities as other consenting adults. I believe there is a fundamental causal link between satisfying marriages and men and women’s education and economic statuses. I believe that many public policies – including maternity, paternity, and parental leave; child care; tax laws; judicial, prison, and immigration policies; divorce laws; and egalitarian public standards – profoundly affect marriage. I believe that outstanding events shape the nature and development of individual marriages; wars and recessions; the collaps of North America’s manufacturing base and its associated living wages, benefits, and security; homophobia and racism; popular culture; and human longevity. I believe that marriages in mansions and marriages in shacks feel quite different.

How can we improve the state of marriage today? Recognize that divorce will not fall into disuse but that, if better support and coping mechanisms are provided, spouses will resort to it less.

___________________________________________________________

Honestly, this book is not your typical history saga, but has the most interesting ideas and theories that push your natural inclinations, expanding your comfort zone past both societal and religious preconceptions.

Without much ado, it now sits on my select shelf ready to be borrowed to anyone even remotely interested… I promise you won’t be able to put it down once you pick it up!

Cheers with wine!

the Mrs.

Related Articles

Whom you love you serve…

20 Dec

My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, both are infinite.
William Shakespeare

An often under-rated shared activity that most couples can find both strengthening and fulfilling is the very act of giving.

Teaming up and picking a few ways that you and your beau can give back to your local community or even support a not-for-profit organization can be contagiously fun and rewarding. Keeping in mind your personal values, strengths and resources, the number of combinations are truly endless…

If you have much, give of your wealth; If you have little, give of your heart.
Arab Proverb

So you love personal interaction, happen to be great with kids and have an extra hour every week to kill – consider being a Big Brother or Sister! You will never know the incredible positive impact you have on a younger person when you give them your undivided attention…

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.
Mother Theresa

Or you’ve been blessed with financial security, have an awesome job and while you don’t extra time, you do have the resources to support from a distance – consider sponsoring a child in a third world country! Their are so many programs out there that offer monthly, weekly or daily contributions that even your morning coffee could supplement…

If you are young and healthy, and don’t have the spare funds take a visit to your nearest blood donation clinic. After thirty minutes, a couple cookies and juice, your small donation of vital body fluids can save lives.

Looking for a change up for date-night? Check out Habitat for Humanity and build a home togetherliterally. Rolling up your sleeves together for community service can be quite the unique experience, plus you can bring your friends!

Most communities also boast various charities – try donating forgotten pantry items to your local food banks, tithing regularly to your local church or offering up clothing and personal items that you no longer use to shelters where your junk is someone else’s treasure!

Together you and your spouse can reinvest your shared happiness, blessings and gifts by offering your time, money or skills to those in need.

These are really only a few reasons that came to mind when asked if we support any charities and why. In reality, the benefits always outweigh the effort. And who knows? Not only will your involvement likely seed a major impact, the shared activity will grow your marriage closer and stronger.

Serving friends, family and even those without a face will show love and kindness in untold magnitudes. The gift of giving is the ability to do so in the first place – so give while you have the chance.

How do you give back together and why?

~ Cheers with Wine! ~

The Mrs.

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