sometimes maybe you should go to bed mad

I love this guy with all my heart, and sometimes we go to bed mad.

I don’t give a lot of marriage advice. I mean, every couple is different, and you have to find your own groove. The most I’ll usually say is “Marry someone you truly enjoy spending time with” and “Be most excellent to each other, and party on dudes.” But, I’ve been married going on 11 years now, and there’s one piece of ubiquitous advice that has always rubbed me the wrong way: “Never go to bed mad.”

This is really dumb advice.

We tell people all the time to “sleep on it” when they’re facing a big decision, and it’s because we know that sometimes you just need to let your brain work on something while you stop thinking about it, and maybe things will seem clearer in the morning. We know that big decisions take time and marination. But we tell people in a relationship that they have to solve all their differences and arguments before the sun sets on them?

Sometimes the thing you’re fighting about is just stupid, and you’re so far in that you forgot that fact, but you’ll realize it when you wake up in the morning and it no longer seems to matter as much.

Sometimes, particularly if you have small children, you’re not really so much in a fight as you are sleep-deprived and irrational, and after some sleep you’ll realize that the whole thing wasn’t even a disagreement.

Sometimes one of you is a hot-head and needs some cooling off time.

Sometimes one of you is an internal processor, and you’ll be able to work stuff out and communicate your side more clearly after you’ve had some time to work it out in your own head for a while.

Sometimes everyone will be able to be calmer and more receptive if you continue the discussion over a cup of coffee the next day.

Sometimes, going to bed mad may even mean one of you storms off to bed and the other conks out watching TV on the couch, and you both wake up missing each other and in a more loving frame of mind the next day.

Sometimes, without the pressure of WE HAVE TO SOLVE THIS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE CAN’T GO TO BED BEFORE WE RESOLVE IT, you can actually have the space to come up with a better, more amicable resolution.

Sometimes you really should just go to bed mad. Because in the morning, you’ll find you just aren’t mad anymore.

So, there’s my new piece of relationship advice. Screw “never go to bed mad.” Sometimes you should just sleep on it.

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my valentine tradition

let's get it onValentine’s Day is coming up, and I wanted to share what has become one of my favorite traditions. In need of both art for my bedroom wall and occasional cards for my husband, a few years ago, I started buying him fun handmade cards that, after exchanged and read, can be framed and hung up on our wall. Sometimes I make the cards/art myself, other times I buy from Etsy, but over time, many of these cards have become part of a gallery wall in our bedroom. One in particular that says “Let’s Get it On (I’ll just brush my teeth)” (by Linocut Boy, no longer available) hangs in our bathroom– I thought it was a funny joke on long-married romance. I like that these little pieces of our love story get to hang around and add beauty and sweetness to our days long after the holiday that necessitated their purchase.

In case you, too, are interested in frame-worthy Valentines, I decided to round up a few here. If you click each image, you will be taken to the card’s listing on Etsy, and each shop name is also a handy link to the shop itself.

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happy father’s day

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Sitting at the dinner table, the three of us hear a familiar clink in the driveway, and I can see smiles creep across the girls’ faces, sparkles arriving in their eyes, and then we see him, the hero and his trusty steed, or rather, my husband, wheeling his bike into the shed. They begin a chant, squealing and giggling, “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!” You’d think the star player were entering the stadium. And to us: he is. Some days he rides in like the cavalry, saving me from a day gone horribly wrong and saving my children from a mama at her wits end. But even on a day gone right, things are still just infinitely better when he’s home.  Continue reading

I didn’t have kids to make me “happy” (Thank God!)

A fun little piece of obvious news crossed my radar today: couples without kids report that they’re happier with their relationships than couples with kids! 

To that I say:

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OF COURSE THEY ARE. You know who’s happy? People who get a full night’s sleep most nights. People who can eat a meal without getting up approximately 9 times to fetch things for people who fling food at them, spit out mouthfuls of fully chewed food for no reason, smear food in their hair, and inexplicably like/hate pineapple from one day to the next. People who can just go out of town for a weekend trip. People who regularly get to go to the movies. People who don’t have to schedule sexy times. People who don’t have to wipe any butts but their own. Let’s be real.

The good news is: the ultimate goal of my life isn’t “be happy.” And my ultimate hopes for my kids aren’t “as long as they’re happy.” Happy is fleeting, and happy is an illusion, and happy just isn’t a realistic goal for much of anything. 

Here’s what I want: I want to be satisfied. I want to be challenged. I want to be grateful. I want to be loved. I want to love. I want relationships. I want to have a legacy. I want to make an impact.

All of those things are much more realistic goals for a life, a marriage, parenthood. 

Thank God I didn’t/don’t expect my kids to make me happy. That’s far too much of a burden to place on another person. I do think they’ve already made me a better person, though, and I’ll take that.

i have a seven year itch

Last week, my husband Jon and I celebrated 7 years of marriage, and in June, we marked 10 years of togetherness.

Everyone jokes about the 7 Year Itch. But I have it, y’all.

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Except…it’s on my finger.

First photo with my ring after we got engaged in 2006.

First photo with my ring after we got engaged in 2006.

You see, somewhere in the last year, I developed an allergy* to my white gold wedding rings. Sure, some skeevy dudes may say they’re “allergic” to their rings, when really they’re not wearing them so they can mac on chicks, but this is no lie. Wearing my rings has started to cause my finger to immediately break out into a red, bumpy, itchy rash. I figured out it was the gold because my silver stacking rings, a Valentine’s gift that I wear on my right hand, don’t cause the same problem.

“I’m allergic to my wedding rings,” I announced to my doctor hubby one day, showing him the rash. He asked if I meant symbolically or literally, but thank goodness, the only itch I’ve got is the one on my finger. I’m not itching to get out of our relationship or marriage at all.

And my best friend and hubby was handy in diagnosing my problem too. It turns out it’s fairly common for people to develop allergies to the nickel used as an alloy with the gold to make it strong enough to stand up to the wear and tear it gets as jewelry. But he’s seen enough nickel allergies to know I don’t have it, since nickel is also commonly used in the hardware on things like jeans, and I don’t develop a similar rash to the rivet on the waistband of my blue jeans. Also, the gold posts on my pearl earrings have started irritating my ears, too. So, I am forced to conclude, I’m having an issue with gold, not nickel.

I’ve taken to wearing one of my silver stacking bands on my left hand as a placeholder, but I’d really like to get back to wearing my rings again. I hear a temporary solution is to coat the ring in clear nail polish, and a permanent one is to get it plated with rhodium.

As for seven years, I’m happy to celebrate how far we’ve come. Becoming parents has truly been the hardest thing our partnership has endured, far more stressful than moving cross country, grief, and trauma. Still, there’s no one else I’d rather be raising my family and living alongside.

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We celebrated lucky number seven with a little road trip to Texas, spending a night in a bed and breakfast in Dallas, checking out the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the Dallas Museum of Art, and then continuing to Austin for LOTS of tacos, a visit to the LBJ library (thankfully for me, my husband indulges my political geekery), visiting with friends, seeing the bats, and eating some BBQ. It was a lovely getaway, and we’re super thankful that family took care of our kids and pets so we could get that time together.

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We stayed at the lovely Corinthian Bed and Breakfast in Dallas.

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Beautiful glass work by Dale Chihuly at the DMA.

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Visiting the LBJ library on the UT campus. He passed such an amazing amount of progressive policy!

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Pretty sure Jon wanted to keep the Jeep we rented for the trip.

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Stopped by Wendy Davis’ office, and even though she wasn’t in, some of her staff let me take a picture in her office. Big fan!

*Allergies can develop at any time, even after years of exposure without event to the allergen. This is why when people tell me they “aren’t allergic” to something like poison ivy, I always tell them, just wait! With enough exposures, you’ll eventually trigger a reaction!

real beauty is a revolution, not an ad, man

Last night I posted this to Facebook:

Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 7.26.47 AMIt was in response to the latest Dove video, which you can see here:

And look, here I am writing about it anyway! (Just as I have before about earlier Dove ads.)

As far as the video goes, I absolutely agree with the seeming diagnosis that many women have a kind of body dysmorphia. They focus on the qualities they hate rather than the qualities they like, and this causes them to perceive themselves as vastly less attractive than they are perceived by others. However, I think this video suggests the wrong treatment for their diagnosis. They suggest that beauty, physical beauty, “couldn’t be more critical to happiness.” And they suggest focusing on the things you do like about yourself, and, presumably, buying Dove products to help you mitigate and feel better about the stuff you don’t like, like your armpits, for example.

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I literally can’t get my mind around “beautiful underarms” as a concept. Underarms are just underarms. If someone is scrutinizing yours, the problem is THEM.

Like I said, I absolutely agree that there is an epidemic of low self esteem in our culture. I would say, however, that the underlying cause is not that we don’t value our physical beauty enough, but that we put too much stock in it altogether– that we make it “absolutely critical” to our happiness.

If the strangers in that video thought the women they met were more beautiful than the women saw themselves, how much more beautiful are those women to the people who know and love them? Think about the people whom you love most in the world. They’re gorgeous to you, right? There are moments with them that simply take your breath away. And it’s because the truest beauty we see and love in others, the kind we need to see in ourselves, comes from love. When you look at people through the eyes of love, they become beautiful to you, a beauty that is pervasive and total and has nothing to do with the shape of their jaw and everything to do with the shape of their heart.

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I just loved this vow from mooshinindy, seen on Instagram. It’s part of what kicked off my thinking about seeing my babies and myself through the eyes of love.

One of the most mind-exploding aspects of becoming a mother has been the way it has utterly changed how I feel about beauty. Into my life have come these two absolutely gorgeous, utterly and totally beloved little creatures. They take my breath away. Daily, their beauty brings tears to my eyes and a pang to my chest. There is not a bit of them, not even their underarms, that needs to be made more beautiful.

And here’s the truly mind-bending part: I came into this world the same way. I took my parents’ breath away. To them, I am heart-stoppingly beautiful. And I am that way to others who love me as well. And even crazier, bigger, more mind bending? I am beginning to see that I am that beautiful to the One who created me as well. And if that isn’t enough to revolutionize our thinking, what is?

The Beatles say, “You’re talkin bout a revolution, well, you know, you oughta free your mind instead.” The Bible says, “Do not be conformed to the ways of this world, but be transformed, by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Freeing and renewing our minds can’t be done when we accept consumerist culture’s premise that beauty is external. It can’t be accomplished by cheerleading brands for ever-so-slightly widening the cultural beauty standard. It can only be done by trying to get our heads around just how deeply we are loved, and seeing ourselves and others through the eyes of Love.

Now, I know this is a much more difficult premise than simply obsessing over parts of ourselves that we like, or buying a cream. Learning to love yourself is tough stuff. But it doesn’t happen if we’re simply focusing on another aspect of our physical appearance. It can only come from the amazing, crazy, transformative power of an encounter with Love. For me, that’s the Love of God. For you, it may be simply meditating on the way you deeply love someone in your life, and trying to see yourself through those same eyes. But this is the revolution folks. You gotta free your mind.

now we’re 5

Because we were in Costa Rica for our anniversary, I didn’t get to do a post like I usually do on July 29th commemorating 5 years of marriage to Jon. But, we got to be in Costa Rica for our anniversary, so that’s pretty awesome. We constantly talk about the kind of life we want together “someday” when he’s finally done with medical training and I’m finally done with school, and in looking at the kind of goals we set for ourselves: simple living, being generous with others, living in a way that is good to the environment, we’ve realized that the people we were 5 years ago wouldn’t be having these sorts of dreams for the future. We’ve changed a lot in our time together, which I guess is to be expected when I met my true love at the age of 18 and got married at the ripe old age of 21 (Jon’s 5 years older). I think we’ve both changed each other for the better, and I’m sure there’s lots of change still ahead of us. I’m sure glad we can keep growing together, forever. I know I can face anything as long as I’ve got my best friend by my side.

On a bench in a park in downtown San Jose. Everywhere we looked, couples were making out in public. That's not quite our style, so this was our contribution.

 

Ignoring the cheesy images, here’s a song to dedicate to the one I love, “Loving a Person” by Sara Groves, a favorite of mine: