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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.

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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How to travel together and not lose your minds…

11 Nov

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” — Miriam Beard

This past month has brought the Mr. and I through a new experience. Travel on short notice. Not an emergency but pressing. And I’m almost thankful I didn’t have the time to stop and think because I’m a routine girl – and spontaneity can definitely throw me right off.

Living across the country from family and friends has opened our world of travel – both domestically and internationally.  And now, after years of traveling, we’ve finally developed a system that works for us.

For some, traveling can actually be a stressful experience. Especially, if both have different ideas of what a vacation really is. But as we’ve learned, travel even under tough circumstance and short notice, can still be fun, relaxing and memorable.

Compatibility between travelers is pretty essential to a stress-free experience; whether you are taking a road trip, luxury cruise, international resort, flying domestically, camping, or even backpacking.  While everyone fits a different travel personality, and matching personalities are ideal, opposites can actually bring even more to each trip.

So which travel type are you? Romantic, luxury, budget or adventurous? Each type brings a different dynamic to travel so balancing your strengths can actually extend your trip past your comfort zone and into new worlds.

If you don’t know which type you fall into, here’s a quick and easy quiz that will point you in the right direction. Those who are seasoned in travel will actually find Dr. Stanley C. Plog’s Travel Personality Quiz surprisingly accurate. Plog further breaks travelers into six categories and goes as far as listing the Top 30 Travel Destinations based on what you would love.

At the planning stage it’s equally important to take your time, share your ideas, and know your boundaries. Everyone has a comfort zone that shapes each experience so take the time to identify what you think would make your trip easier and more relaxing.

The hubs and I have a divide and conquer theory. Where one of us has a weakness, the other has a strength. He’s great with directions so he gets to be the navigator, and quickly takes the lead when something goes wrong in this area. Whereas, I am great at handling planning, so I gladly book the hotels, flights, car rentals and such.  And as I have a bad short-term memory, the Mr. always keeps the most important documents on himself. That way I don’t have to worry about forgetting shampoo or minor items that we can pick up almost anywhere we go.

If you are pressed for time consider using a travel agent. They are very knowledgeable and fees are normally quite reasonable. We have one that we bounce all of our trip ideas off of, even though not all come into being. We have used her for so many trips now that she has our preferred airport and hotels on speed dial if we make that call.

We also try to give ourselves a lot of buffer time for both unexpected delays and time apart. It’s easy to overcrowd one another so make time to be flexible and stretch out your own wings. Try sometime different and share your stories afterward – it’s amazing what you’ll find and who you’ll meet when given space to do your own thing.

Find your balance as over time traveling together gets easier and you can actually develop a nice routine. Just remember to take baby steps and have a broad sense of humour. Travel brings unexpected plans like camping brings bad weather. Be prepared to be challenged, and remember that some of the biggest mistakes make the best stories.

When outlining your trip’s budget, don’t forget to consider one another’s spending styles. Many of us enjoy bringing home momentos, gifts, and shopping while on vacation. Hubs loves eating at restaurants, so I let him splurge and plan our dinner dates while traveling. I’m always given a budget for updating our travel gear, sending out postcards every trip, and supporting the local artisans.

As travel reduces a lot of personal space, you will sometimes have to disagree in public. Being able to read each others body language simplifies decision-making in the company of friends or even when in danger. Sometimes, trouble finds you, so have a good back-up plan and solid trust in one another. In the worst of scenarios if you are somehow left with no resources, remember that together you have more chance of surviving than alone.

On most trips, you won’t have much more to worry about than flight times and accommodations. So to make these trips even easier, make use of early check-ins, and chat up your lodging’s concierge (they are always full of great local knowledge and tips). Invest in durable luggage, eat proper meals, and get plenty of sleep. These make a world of difference and start each day properly.

With practice, we have found that we bring less stuff and rather rely on one another’s skills to provide our needs. Becoming increasingly mobile, allows us more flexibility and eases our travel efforts.

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” — John Steinbeck

Remember that your partner is really the best candidate for an amazing trip. So make it easy on each other and communicate, communicate, communicate. Submit to one another when it benefits both of you – and each trip will be better than the last! All in all, have fun! We wish you the best travels with much laughter and memories for a lifetime.

Think I missed something that you couldn’t travel together without? Drop me some of your tips and tricks!

Cheers with Wine!

the Mrs.

What NOT to bring to a funeral…

6 Nov

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
From a headstone in Ireland

So our dearly beloved Auntie passed away this October and off we flew to be with family in under 48 hours notice.

Auntie was on the Mr.’s side – and very close to his heart and family. Our parents had thankfully kept us in the loop while her health was failing so we were fortunate enough to pass the shell-shock of losing a loved one without any forewarning.

As soon as the story unfolded the hubs called me to book flights home and start packing. Good fortune and a great boss was on my side allowing me vacation time despite any notice. This was entirely my man’s decision – his family – his call.

Normally, I would have hummed and hawed over ticket prices, timing, work, and such… but my gut just told me to do as I was told and make everything easier on my man who’s heart was just broken.

48 hours later we were on the other side of the country accepting condolences from family and friends at her visitation. The whole trip there I was wide awake mulling over what I was going to say to not only my husband but to his immediate family whom we haven’t seen in years…

Outside of the travel part, I was intrigued that we had never really discussed how we would handle death in our shared families. Until now, it wasn’t a reality, not even a passing thought… So I’ve done a little bit of research to understand and share some advice for couples through the loss of a loved one.

To start, I think the most important aspect to remember when dealing with the death of a close family member is that we ALL grieve differently. This is not just because as men and women we deal with issues in our own ways, but  our fundamental beliefs (what happens after death?), our ending relationship to the deceased and lastly our current daily struggles have quite an impact on how we chose to absorb and digest the event as a whole.

Generally speaking, the closer the family member the bigger the impact. This was our Auntie, not a parent/sibling or even a child – which I’m sure would have a much more profound impact on our marriage. So for now, I am going to try to just focus on the death of a loved one within your marriage’s now-shared family…

Honestly, I had no idea where to start with my man… I knew Auntie but not like he did. She was a second mother to him so all I DID know was to be careful and listen if he wanted to share his feelings with me. Each of his family members were absorbing her death in different ways too. I quietly just kept close and tried NOT to give any false support.

Interestingly enough, although many people shut down and keep it all inside, his family chose to celebrate the time they did have with her by sharing stories, reconnecting with distant family (aka us) and breaking bread together. They talked about the good times, her funny quirks and how we will never forget her.

Although we left in renewed spirits, I still keep a close eye on hubby – just in case. The process of grieving has no time limits, and there are many varying stages to boot such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

Looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, probably the WORST thing you could do is diminish or even ignore the significance of it’s impact on your partner. So make a point to recognize the loss as REAL by sharing your thoughts with one another. Take the time to reinvest in your surrounding family – grief begets isolation, so show your support and re-sync your lives to accommodate the loss as easily as possible.

I’ve mostly learned to help the Mr. cope with his loss by sharing his sorrow and being patient. There are very few times when he leans on me – so I’ll pick up my post gratefully and support his needs – whatever they may be.

Have you shared a loss together with your spouse? What worked/didn’t for you?

Here’s some great related articles I found quite useful:

How to Support a Grieving Spouse

How do you  help your spouse through the grieving process?

Supporting Your Spouse While They Are Grieving

Words to Comfort Someone Grieving

Why Some People Don’t Grieve

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