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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.

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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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

Our Shared World of Marriage

27 Aug

Our Shared World of Marriage

25 Aug

Probably one of the weirdest moments I’ve experienced since moving to Alberta would include my first visit to our new family doctor.

Ready to give a full health background and discuss my physical well-being, I was quite shocked to be asked a very personal question. After the quick introduction and family talk, the first thing my new doctor asked me was – “Between 1 to 10, how would you rate your marriage today?”

My first response (with a little skepticism) was – “Um… What’s it matter to you?” But – according to the new Doc, our marriage has A LOT to do with my health. Interesting…  Normally, I would have told anyone to mind their own business, but as Doc explained his reasoning, I was intrigued that he was even remotely interested in outside influences, ie. marriage, that could have any impact, good or bad, on my overall health. 

Now that I think of it, having a Doc who isn’t interested in my emotional, physical AND mental health is kind of like having a financial planner who isn’t interested in my bad debt, personal values, AND goals in life…

So now it goes to say with every visit, instead of the usual “How are you feeling today?”, I’m faced with rating my marriage before a health professional. Although the answer sometimes can be quite revealing on an intimate level, it’s blatancy forces me to account for a lot in one single digit number…

Thankfully, my reluctant answer rocked Doc off his feet when I gave him a curt “8/9 out of 10”. He was actually surprised that I gave anything over 5! Now it was MY turn to be shocked – how could most of his married patients report a mere 5 out of 10?? The answer to that question is apparently “classified”, but it surprised me to hear that they were merely existing in their marriages.

I must admit that although I’m not at the doctor’s to discuss my marital relationship, it has forced me to reflect on the impact my marriage could be having on my health. Marriage isn’t just the wedding or the anniversary – it’s the everyday. And to that effect I’m sure that my rating has changed quite variably between my quarterly visits with Doc.

This simple rating of course doesn’t place my marriage at the root of my health problems – but now I am the more wise to recognize any pattern between marital discord and surfacing health issues.

I’m interested to know where you would rate your marriage TODAY… I understand this is a personal question and albeit a tough one to quantify – but just think of it as a little poll. Feel free to come back tomorrow and change your mind – after all, marriage isn’t a joy-ride everyday. I’m just hoping that over time, I can gauge the feelings of other married couples and the states of their marriage.

How many of us are living blissful marriages? How many of us are in a marriage prison? And do you notice/feel it’s impact on your current physical/mental/emotional health?

I’ll be honest and say that we’ve hit every number from 1 to 10 over our five years of marriage. And I would also say that those numbers would fairly accurately correspond with my well-being over the course of events and milestones that we’ve shared. 

So give it a chance and be honest How happy are you in your marriage today?

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