We’re all breaking our children a little bit.

 

So, we’re all breaking our children a little bit. It’s unavoidable in the human plight. But that doesn’t mean we don’t constantly strive to breed goodness into them, as well.

 

I’m over at The MOB Society today talking about how to fight the breaking process a bit. I’m not trying to guilt trip you, I promise. The last thing we need in the world is more mommy guilt. But I hope that it inspires you to work towards a wholer future. Click the link below to check it out.

 

One Way To Stop Breaking Your Children.

 

I’ve made many mistakes and have many regrets, especially from those beginning years. I share lessons that I learned in parenting toddlers, preschoolers, and children in my book Parenting Wild Things.

 

It contains the things I wish I had known before I started unintentionally breaking my children.

-Jessica

How Much Should Your Spouse’s Opinion of Your Appearance Matter?

When you marry you inherit a second set of opinions into your life, into your decisions. You’re no longer free to make decisions without input – even decisions about yourself.

 

My question is, how much of this is healthy? Where is the line between molding yourself to fit the other person and not giving a flip what they think? I don’t think either extreme equals a happy or healthy partnership. How much do you tailor your appearance for your spouse’s preferences?

 

 

Several months back I quit wearing makeup. I did this of my own accord, without a real soapbox or principle. My husband has always sworn that he thinks women are prettier without makeup and I’m sure that factored into my decision somewhere though it wasn’t the catalyst.

 

Well, recently I decided the no makeup phase was over and lobbed on a bit of mascara. It made me feel pretty and so I told the husband that I was going to start wearing it again. He seemed kind of disappointed, reminding me that he likes me without it makeup. His disappointment disappointed me. And around we go. Lol.

 

This isn’t the first time I’ve considered this opinion about these things. From nose piercings, to tattoos, to bangs. I know what he likes and what he doesn’t like and I can’t help but care about that.

 

At the end of the day, I just don’t want to change my appearance in a way that makes me less attractive to my husband. And I always reverse the scenario in my head. What if he wanted to grow a mullet or something (a hairstyle I think is hideous). I would beg him not to. Beg. And insist. And in his reality he truly thinks that, oh say, heavy bangs are basically a girl  mullet.

 

So, what do you think? Where’s the healthy line? Should I run out and pierce my nose, tattoo my wrist, and get a bangin’ new hairstyle? Or should I respect my husband’s wishes and opinions?

 

There’s no simple answer to these questions, of course. There has to be balance in any relationship. It’s all apart of that crazy, complicated balance we strike of love and respect in marriage. There’s a popular book that I think does a good job of presenting that yin and yang aspect of relationships. It’s called Love and Respect and is a great place to start if you’re feeling desperate and unloved in your marriage.

 

How has this played out in your relationship?

 

-Jessica

Being Married to God

 

I’ve been reminded a lot lately (by God, in my mind, FYI) that God and I are in a relationship together (Um, der—I know—but sometimes I need reminders).

 

I like to think of it as a marriage.  I like to think of it as marriage because that’s how it’s often described in the collection of writings from other people who also had a relationship with God, that we call a “Bible”.

 

So now, for your viewing pleasure, I’d like to state some more really obvious things that we all know, but need to be reminded of:

 

Marriage is intimate. 

 

Very intimate.  Hopefully, more intimate than any other relationship you have with any other human on this earth.  You know every knowable detail about that person.  Some stuff you don’t even want to know, but you do.

 

THAT, by the way, is why adultery is a sin. 1)  You made a promise.  2)  It is the closest earthly symbol we have of our relationship with God.

 

Marriage is based on trust. 

 

If you’re in a healthy marriage, you don’t have to constantly ask your spouse to do mundane things, because it’s part of your relationship/agreement that they’ll do them.  Like take out the trash, or the dishes, or pay bills, or lock doors at night.  Or that they’ll promise to remind you to do those things—there’s no wrong answer, as long as both people agree on it.  You trust each other to do the things that you’ve agreed you’ll do.  Without trust, you don’t have much of anything to base a relationship on.

 

Marriage changes.

 

It grows.  It has seasons.  Hopefully, it doesn’t shrink, but usually it does—hopefully it grows again after that.

 

Sometimes I don’t talk to my wife much.  I don’t feel like I need to.  It’s not because I hate her, it’s just that nothing new is really happening, and the honeymoon is over.  Honestly, she was 17 when I married her, so we’ve pretty much covered all the “tell me about yourself” details about 12 years ago.

 

And I hate talking about work—usually I’m working somewhere I don’t even want to be, so why would I talk about it when I’m not there? (I know, I need a new job, I’m working on it right now!)

 

So, I figure it’s ok that God and I don’t talk all the time.  I don’t sit for hours and spill elegant prayers.  I trust God.  That’s called faith.  I don’t know God fully, but he does know me.  I can’t know God fully, I can’t know my spouse fully, but I can try.  And I don’t do that by running a monologue every time we have a “conversation”.

 

When bad stuff happens, I know God well enough to know that he’s already more aware of the situation than I am—so I don’t have to tell him.  AND that he already knows what’s in my heart before I ask him—so I don’t actually have to ask (because my heart already did).  AND that he’s acting completely selflessly at all times.  That’s the best marriage ever.

 

-Jeremy

*photo by Andrei Mihalcea

My Husband is Awesome Day – {With Link Up}

focus on the good in your husband

 

My husband is awesome.  Really.  There are a sexy bucketful of reasons that make me lucky to have him.

 

But (you saw the but coming, right?) generally I don’t pay attention to them. Nope.  My tendency is to focus on the things I don’t like about him.  Because of how I’m human and stuff.  It’s so easy to focus on the negative in life. Someone can be perfectly cordial to you 50 times and then be a crap-head once and then we’re forever like, “Oh that guy? He’s a crap-head”.

 

Well my guy?  He’s not a crap-head. I mean, he has crappy moments. Because of how he’s human, too. But life gets crappy when you focus on the crappy and then, ya know – it stinks.  So, like I mentioned in my recent newsletter (wait, you don’t get the new Bohemian Bowman newsletter? Do it!) – in an effort to make life less stinky, I hereby declare today MY HUSBAND IS AWESOME day. Not “my husband is perfect day”, mind you. Just awesome. Because we all have crappy in us, but we’re also brimming with awesome. And which would you rather your glass be half full of?

 

So, without further talk of feces, I give you:

 

Ways My Husband Is Awesome

 

1. He Provides

Simple, but true.  We’ve been married for more than 12 years and he’s never had an easy job, never earned money in a way that gave him any sort of personal fulfillment.  Oh, and he’s been to war a couple of times.  And yet we’ve always been taken care of. That’s a big deal.  If the roles were reversed I’d probably be – um, grumpy?  Bitter? Perhaps I should be more empathetic when I perceive him to be being crappy for “no apparent reason”. There are always reasons.  Somewhere there’s a root to every problem. Reacting to the symptoms isn’t a cure.

 

2. He’s a Good Father

Sometimes I flat out disagree with my husband’s parenting decisions and, you guessed it, sometimes I focus on those negatives too much. I mean, heck – sometimes I disagree with my own parenting decisions. But that doesn’t make me a bad mother – just imperfect.  And I’d be devastated to think that he was judging me only on my bad moments.

My husband has a relationship with our 11 year old daughter that allows for very open dialogue.  I love that. I would never have talked to my dad (or mom) about the stuff that she feels free to say. That’s pretty special.

He also does chronological bible storying with The Wild Things every. single. night before bed. Literally.  They start at the beginning and he uses his big theologian brain to put it on their level. They ask questions, they discuss – they learn so much.  It’s one of the few constants, the few traditions that this unconventional, nomadic family has. How awesome is that?

 

3. He Cleans Up Toys

At the end of every day, he walks through the house and cleans up toys.  Depending on where we’re living it might be the kids’ room or it might be a play room, but he rarely fails in this.  It’s not something that I’ve ever asked him to do, he does it mostly for his own peace of mind, I think.  It’s a nice yin to my yang because y’all – I don’t pick up toys. It might be wrong, but I draw the line at toys.  I clean the dishes, the laundry, and the floor so there’s just something stubborn in me that says “I didn’t make this mess and I’m not going to clean it!”

Once again, I tend to forget that he does this. It’s been happening for so long that I think I attribute the phenomenon to toy cleaning gnomes or something. And, you guessed it, I tend to focus on what he doesn’t help with (you know, those dishes and floors and such).  But take that man out of town for a few days and I’m all “Where the crap did all these toys come from and why are they all over my floor?!”

 

There you have it, three things that are awesome about my husband.  Now it’s your turn.  Grab the image from the top of this post, write your own post about your awesome (but imperfect) husband, and come link up. Come on, give him an “atta husband”. It can’t hurt.



-Jessica

Together.

Together.

 

2 teenagers.

plus

 

4 babies.

plus

 

1 war.

plus

 

2 tours.

plus

 

2 countries.

plus

 

4 states.

plus

 

12 years.

equals

 

Love.

 

We’ve defied every statistic.  We’ve struggled more than I’ll ever let on here.  We’ve walked through untold fires.

 

But we’re still together. 

 

Happy Anniversary to my sexy, frustrating, funny, infuriating, brilliant husband.

 

Here’s to a dozen more.  With less fires.

 

—————————————————————————-

I’m participating in The Gypsy Mama’s  Five Minute Friday today.  Go check out the other entries.

 

-Jessica

Sleeping With the Enemy. {A Story of PTSD}

It’s late and I’m angry.  We’ve argued and it’s stupid and he’s been unfair and I’ve cried and I’m sure he’s wrong.  I roll away, face the wall, unwilling to acknowledge there’s a body on the other side of the bed; determine to spend the whole night without touching him.

I covet the touch of his skin. 

But I box that away.  Because I’m too mad and too frustrated and touch would insinuate reconciliation and I have no intentions of that until morning.  I will ignore him until I’ve slept off my indignation.

I lay there, steaming, stubborn when the jerking begins, small and rhythmic.  I wait, listen.  Maybe it will pass quickly, on its on.  It doesn’t.  The tiny seizings continue like little haunted hiccups, and it’s so much easier to have compassion on him now, now that he’s not fighting me, but an enemy far in the past, thousands of miles away.

I reach back with one arm, still unwilling to commit to intimacy but equally unwilling to leave him in his unconscious war.  Gently, I stroke his spine, oh so carefully, until I feel the small start, hear the faint intake of air that means he’s aware again, that’s he’s free from the demons of his past.

And then I face the wall again, still just hurt enough to resist embracing him, still just sure enough I was right.

But mere seconds pass before he’s there again, in the war.  And I don’t know what tortures him tonight, if it’s the bullet whizzing past his ear or cleaning the remains of the children off of vehicles, but he is there and he’s stuck and my heart aches for him.

So I roll over.  Even though he won’t remember this tomorrow.  Even though he’s still wrong.  Even though I’m still hurt.  And I start the oh-too-familiar ritual of timidly rubbing the nightmare out of his back.  I’m slow, calculated, careful not to wake him too suddenly.

I rub long past the gasp that means he’s escaped again.  I rub until I’m sure he’s found peace.  That he’s well past the edge of unconsciousness that haunts him, into a cycle that will afford him some rest.

Because mercy is easier when the enemy is wounded.  And not all wounds are visible in the light of day.

And because the books are right, love is not always a feeling.  Love is an action.

So I commit to it.  And settle in next to him.

-Jessica

image by pelt69

Top Five Ways to Show Your Husband You Love Him.

marriage advice

Your husband needs to know that you love him.  You need to show your husband that you love him.

 

Sounds easy, right?  But anyone who’s been married long knows that it’s harder than it sounds.  Apparently, love shown isn’t cookie cutter.  Now they say people even have different “love languages”.  What seems loving to me doesn’t translate as loving for him. Thanks, Adam and Eve, for a harder-than-it-should-be relationship heritage.  Sigh.  That being said, I’m going to share the top five ways to show your husband you love him, no matter what language his love speaks.

 

 

1. Take out the trash.

And no, I don’t mean metaphorically.  Actually, physically take out the trash.  Actions speak louder than words, and no one likes taking out the trash.  If your house is like mine, trash-taking-out is a task most often given to the men of the house, whether it be husbands or older sons.  Not to read too much into it, but have you ever thought about how that must come across?  “Oh good, you’re here – take out my stinking mess please.” I’ve even been known to already be working in the kitchen and still calling my husband in to ask him to take out the garbage.  Or spending all day with a too-full can, waiting on him to come home and take it out.  If the roles were reversed, that would definitely hurt my feelings.  So ladies, take out the trash once in awhile.  It won’t kill you.

 

2. Do the things he asks. 

In a timely manner.  You know that form he asked you to mail, or those stamps he asked you to pick up, or that library book he asked you to return that you just. keep. forgetting about?  Well, do it.  Habitual forgetfulness (or just plain procrastination) isn’t a sign of love or that you care about the person who is most affected by your forgetfulness.  Psychologically speaking, it’s a sign of selfishness, even if only on a subconscious level.  So, be mindful of other people’s requests.   It’s terribly rude and frustrating to have an unreliable partner.

 

3. Don’t interrupt.

If you’re like me you don’t necessarily do it on purpose, but cutting him off, either out of malice or air-headedness, can become a regular thing. It’s disrespectful.  And while we’re at it, speak to him respectfully in general.  Don’t be all sighs-and-flared-nostrils all the time.  Drop the condescension and exasperatedness.  They don’t affect change in anyone anyway.  Pull up your big-girl panties and try grace on for size.

 

 

4. It.

Do more of it.  And yes, I do mean “it“.  Men need sex in a different way than women.  It’s been said that women typically need to feel loved to “make love”.  But for men, “making love” makes them feel loved.  Yes, statistically, your husband is always gonna want to walk down that lovin’ road more than you do.  But don’t make a habit of denying him the walk.  Find a balance.  The boy needs it.

 

 

5. Give him what he needs, socially.

Is your husband introverted?  Then leave him alone sometimes.  Is your husband super verbal?  Make time to listen to him. Everyone has specific social needs and if they’re not met to some degree, a happy boy your husband will not make.  He might need to be alone for 30 minutes when he first comes home, or he might need to immediately tell you about his day before he does anything else.  Learn who he is and what he needs.  And then make an effort to help him satisfy those needs.

 

That’s it!  Not too terribly complicated, right?

 
Really, marriage is hard. So so so so so so hard. With about a dozen more “so’s”. The first book that I ever read that gave me a real light bulb moment was Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs.

 

Check it out if you’re stuck in the crazy cycle and can’t find a way off.

 

Oh, and one more thing.  Before all the angry feminists show up to burn me at the stake, let me be clear – at the heart of all of these points, is the golden rule; the second greatest commandment.  Treat other people the want you want to be treated.  Do you want your husband to not satisfy your needs, socially or sexually?  Do you want him to always put off the stuff you ask him to do?  Do you want him to interrupt you and treat you disrespectfully?

 

No?  Oh, well then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask the same of you, gals. ;)

 

 

Jessica

P.S. I have failed at all of the above, many times over in the past dozen years.

—————————

Picture by Luba V Nel via dreasmtime

Sometimes it’s okay to text flirt.

 

Y’all, I’ve been married for nearly a dozen years.  Remember when having been married for 5 years seemed like a really long time?  Well, try doubling that. And adding two.

 

(Everyone who’s been married much longer, take a moment right here to tell me what a baby I am.)

 

My point is, even though we’ve had broken seasons, like everyone else, and there have been times when we weren’t sure if we were going to make it, like everyone else – I’m still doggone infatuated with that man.  And darn it if he doesn’t make me laugh.

 

And even though we’re old people now ( …… ), we still flirt.  On a regular basis.  And that includes text flirting.  Flirxting?  It’s not quite as intense as what those teenagers do, but it gets the job done.  After all, tickling the funny bone is a major step in foreplay, right?

 

I said.

 

 

He said.

 

And, yes, my husband really is listed as “True Love” in my phone.  Because our relationship has taught me that true love is hard work, grace, perseverance.  And flirxting.

 

What funny thing has your significantly funny other texted you lately?

 

-Jessica

 

A Decade

 

Two souls made of skin

Lie in the moonlight.

Ring-fingered lovers,

Redeemed by their Creator.

Learning how to be servants.

Learning lessons through pain.

Learning the meaning of holy.

Learning how little they know.

They put this day behind them,

Lay it in a grave with 10 years worth of others.

A grave full of mostly mistakes

But sprinkled with laughter.

Bound by equally stubborn hearts,

They yearn for the servant they desire in the other

To be found in themselves.

And the Creator numbers the hairs on their heads.

And continues to make two become one.

 

 

Young Ladies, Respect your Boyfriends.

respect your husband

Dear Young Ladies, I have a piece of advice for you.  It’s the most important relationship advice you will ever get.  I swear.  It’s that important.  Are you ready?

 

Stop disrespecting your man.

 

I mean it.  I don’t care if he’s a d*****-bag or an ***-hole, or any of the other things you want to be sure I understand about him.  Either leave the dude, or respect him.  Period.

 

You can’t bully your man into treating you better.  <<Click to tweet

 

It’s a cycle.  You disrespect him, he cares about you less.  He cares about you less, you disrespect him more.  The only hope you have is to be the bigger person (Ahem. Not via the above picture) and stop the cycle.

 

Stop it, I tell you!

 

Because here’s what it boils down to: If you’re nice (read: respectful) to someone, particularly when they don’t “deserve” it, they find themselves increasingly unable to be hateful towards you.  It’s love, yo.  The one thing in life that can’t be fought against.

 

There’s no reasonable counter for unabashed love and respect.

 

And I gotta tell you, ladies: you’re grieving me.  I see the way you talk to your boyfriends in the lines at the store and in the mall.  It’s downright disrespectful.  Somewhere along the line in our society you whippersnappers have decided it’s plain cute to pick on your boyfriends and push them around.  Well, guess what?  It’s not.  They may laugh.  For now.  But 3 years down the road when your marriage is falling apart?  Yeah.  Not so funny then.

So respect your boyfriends.  Or leave.

 

P.S. There’s a book about this.  It’s called Love and Respect.  Imagine that.

Do it.  DO it.

 

-Jessica