How I Pray for My Son’s Future Marriage

I know many parents that pray regularly for their children’s future spouses. There was even a viral post recently (that I can’t find a link to so if you know what I’m talking about help a sister out) where a mom talks about praying for her kid’s future spouse’s mom. We spend a lot of time praying for our kids’ future marriages because we know it’s such a huge part of happiness in adulthood. You can be broke and in a dead-end job, but if your marriage is solid that stuff doesn’t matter as much. The minute we meet our kids we want them to find true love.

Confession: I haven’t prayed much for Otis’s future wife. I hope she is lovely and that we get along, but I’m not really worried about her. I’m not worried about her right now because, as far as  I know, I have absolutely no influence in her life.

But I do have influence in my son’s life. This means that my prayers for his future as a husband aren’t just words. I hate prayers that are just words. My prayers for my son’s future marriage should be seen in my marriage. Whatever I am asking God to bless Otis with in the marriage department I should be actively cultivating in my own marriage, so…

When I pray my son’s marriage is a place where the fruits of the Spirit grow…
Then my marriage should be filled with love letters, joyful hugs, peaceful conversations, patient disagreements, kindness instead of harshness, goodness instead of evil, faith in each other and in Him, gentle rebukes, and self-control in the face of temptation.

When I pray my son’s marriage is focused on God…
Then he needs to see Mark and I praising God in good times and bad. He needs to see us praying instead of fighting. He needs to hear us making decisions based on what we are reading in the Bible and hearing from the Holy Spirit.

When I pray my son’s marriage is based on sacrificial love…
Then my marriage needs to be a place where two very broken and sinful people humble themselves regularly via prayers, apologies, and acts of service. He needs to see us sacrifice being ‘right’ for being loving. He needs to see us sacrifice our comfort and pride and ego.

When I pray my son’s marriage is intimate…
Then he needs to see us prioritize each other. He needs to see affection and adoration. He needs to catch us making out every once in a while.

When I pray my son’s marriage is filled with forgiveness…
Then he needs to see Mark and I forgive each other. He needs to know that relationships are messy and people screw up. We follow a God that chose to forgive us, so that’s what we do for each other.

Once my son becomes a husband my influence in his life will rightfully decrease, but until then I will be praying hard with my words AND my marriage.

And we ask all these things in Jesus’s name. Amen.

What are you praying for when it comes to your kids’ marriages?

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Webinar: Is everyone doing their fair share?

The most common argument for new parents is the question, Is everyone doing their fair share?

Ok, that’s a lie. The most common argument for new parents is, “You are a lazy bum, and I’d be better off doing this alone.” Or “Wow, you’re hormonal. What? No, I didn’t say anything.”

On Wednesday, October 15th at 12pm (Central) I will be dissecting this common argument and look at:

  • the ingredients that make this a common fight
  • the rules to follow so it doesn’t become an EPIC fight
  • and how to create a plan so that your fight ends with solutions and a change of behavior.

For the webinar we’ll be looking at Ashley and Zack, the mom and dad of a 9-month old little girl. Ashley is a SAHM and Zack works a lot of hours to make that happen. Ashley is feeling like Zack isn’t very active in their life anymore, and Zack is wondering how he could possibly do more for his family.

We will use the fictional couple so that y’all can clearly see and learn some practical tips for walking through arguments that FEEL like they can’t be resolved.

How do I get access to the webinar?
Sign up below for the Expectations Guide and you’ll get a link to the webinar and a PDF outline so that you can easily follow along (ah, my Southern Baptist is totally showing).

I hope to see you tomorrow afternoon at 12pm (Central)!

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How Attachment Parenting Saved My Marriage

how-attachment-parenting-saved-my-marriage

 

When Mayim Bialik (remember Blossom?) got divorced everyone blamed it on her Attachment Parenting philosophy saying that her extreme focus on the children meant that she had (obviously) let her marriage fall to the wayside.

I would like to say, “Bull crap.”

True Story: Our decision to Attachment Parent is what has saved my marriage time and time again. Let me explain how.

Attachment Parenting
First, let’s define Attachment Parenting. It is not breastfeeding or babywearing or co-sleeping. Attachment Parenting is  responding to your child’s needs in a way that communicates that you are their safe place in this crazy world. Attachment Parenting is consistently letting your baby know that you hear their needs, you respect their needs, and you want to meet their needs.

Second, let’s be realistic about Attachment Parenting. It is parenting that is focused on the child. It’s intense, and it can be very stressful and very exhausting at times. You want to respond to your child’s need to eat or be held, but you also want 7 minutes of alone time. Attachment Parenting can feel like you are “on” all day, every day which would be fine if you were a robot.

So far it does sound like Attachment Parenting has all the perfect ingredients for destroying a marriage. Complete focus on the baby and making sure she feels loved and cared for every single minute of her life. This level of devotion leaves little room for taking care of a spouse.

But what would happen if we applied our Attachment Parenting ideas to our marriage? What if we recognized that our spouses have needs and that we are responsible for getting those needs met?

Trust vs. Mistrust and Intimacy vs. Isolation
A big reason that APers respond to a baby’s needs is because they want them to build a healthy sense of trust in the world. We want to teach our babies that they are safe with us and can depend on us. A child that feels safe and taken care of will be more confident about exploring the world.

At the same time, parents are in their own development stage (spoiler alert: just because you are an adult does not mean you are done growing). Young adults are in the middle of figuring out their own ability to love and share intimacy with others. Coincidentally, it’s very similar to what newborns are attempting to figure out. In Intimacy vs. Isolation we share our true selves with another (read: your spouse) and hope that we can be seen and loved wholly. If we achieve intimacy we find that we can make sacrifices for someone we care about and that we are worthy of sacrifices as well. If we don’t achieve intimacy we end up isolated, depressed, and insecure.

The Attachment Marriage
In the same way that our newborn has developmental needs (to learn to trust), us adults have developmental needs as well (to have true intimacy with another person). It is unhealthy for the entire family for anyone’s needs to be ignored and disregarded. I feel like I need to say that again:

It is unhealthy for any family member’s needs to be ignored. That includes the adults.

I had to honestly ask myself if our marriage was a place that Mark felt safe. Could he tell me that he was missing me and trust that I would respond with compassion and warmth? Could he tell me his introverted brain needed some alone time without me losing my cool?

More importantly, did I feel safe and seen in our marriage? Could I tell Mark that I felt so ugly and uncomfortable in my body that the thought of sex made me want to hide? Could I let him know that I felt like the worst mom ever when I got up for a middle of the night feeding feeling annoyed and a tiny bit resentful that I had the boobs instead of him?

Just like in Attachment Parenting, an Attachment Marriage is consistently letting your spouse know that you hear their needs, respect their needs, and want to meet their needs.

Our family’s success depends just as much on our ability to respond to our spouse’s needs as it does on our ability to respond to our baby’s needs.

Attachment Marriage Reality
New babies tax all of the resources, especially the emotional ones. Helping your newborn learn to trust the world AND building healthy intimacy with your partner at the same time is almost impossible. It’s too much for any relationship’s plate. But you can start laying the foundation for healthy and intimate marriage before the baby gets here (ahem, all of that Babyproofed Marriage stuff I’ve been talking about).

  • You can learn how to really hear each other.
  • You can accept and understand who your spouse really is (not just who you wished they were).
  • You can learn to express your own feelings in a way that helps your spouse feel closer to you, instead of isolated and attacked.
  • You can ask for what you need so that you can actually reach solutions instead of having the same fights on different days.

Attachment Parenting saved my marriage because it trained me to be very aware of the bond between me and Mark. It trained me to make room for his needs even if I’d rather be sleeping. It trained me to use words (not tears and tantrums) to ask for what I needed, and to trust that he would care. Being an Attachment Parent showed me that ALL of the relationships in our family matter and deserved attention.

We will be doing a free webinar on Wednesday, October 15th at noon where we are going to breakdown a common argument that all new parents have: Is everyone doing their fair share? We’ll look at all of the ingredients in this common fight, discuss the rules for the fight, and create a plan for an actual, real-life solution! To get a link to the webinar make sure you enter your email address below!

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10 Ways to Become the Happiest Couple on the Block

When we become new parents we immediately focus on making the world perfect for our new baby. There is nothing more that a parent wants than a happy, healthy baby (affiliate link because mortgage).

And there are times when we might put having the happiest baby on the block over having the happiest marriage on the block. Heck, some of us don’t even care about having a decent relationship if it gets in the way of the little one’s happiness.

Want the honest truth? I’m guilty of baby worshipping. Especially newborn baby worship. And I think it makes sense: My son was a baby. I’m his mom. My entire world depends on him living to see another day. My husband? He’s a grown man that can fend for himself this year. Am I right, or amirite?

But I don’t think that my new mom obsession meant that I was released from all of my marital duties. My marriage is something I promised to take care of and I really do think that can happen if we do these 10 things:

1. Make Time
Make time for each other. It does not have to be a date night, but there has to be a moment of time that exists for the Us. This is a huge sacrifice because time is like pumped breastmilk when you’re a parent (read: muy valuable), but it’s a must. He might not say it, but your husband misses you and having your attention. It can be as simple as making your coffee together, but every Happy Couple makes time in the day for each other.

2. Look Each Other in the Eyes
When you’re exhausted, frumpy, hungry (breastfeeding appetites are no joke), touched out, and unshowered it is easy to feel more wild animal than human. Even worse is that we start to treat our spouses more like wild animals, too. All that animalness leads to lots of Fight vs. Flight, and not as much Love and Understanding. Happy Couples choose to (literally) see each other. When you’re taking time for each other during the day (see #1) grab your hubby’s face, look deep into his eyes, and tell him that you love him/see him/are thankful for him/apologize to him. No matter what you say make sure he feels seen in the middle of the parenting chaos. And, obviously, I think he should be cupping your face as well (bonus points for forehead kisses!)

3. Take Care of the Love Tank
Know how your spouse understands ‘I love you,’ and speak his language every single day, even if it’s in small ways (The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, affiliate link because college for Otis). Remember, babies are draining everything from you. The Happy Couple knows this is not the time to be extravagant with showing each other love, but it is a time to be consistent and mindful. If your man likes words of affirmation get out your post-it notes and tell him he’s awesome all over the bathroom mirror. If you are a physical touch person then make sure you’re hugging while your coffee is brewing. This is called Love Efficiency, People.

4. Give High Fives
No one is handing out gold stars for your amazing parenting skills mostly because no one else sees your amazing parenting skills. No one except your spouse. You are each other’s audience and your daughter probably isn’t going to thank you for making her that Pinterest toddler meal from scratch, and your son isn’t going to thank you for going to work so that the electricity that powers his iPad stays on. Happy Couples celebrate each other as much as possible.

5. Talk About Expectations
I can’t stress this enough. Assumptions are from the devil. You are two different people with two different ideas about what life, marriage, and parenthood will look like. We set ourselves up for disappointment and frustration when we ASSUME that our idea of parenthood looks exactly the same as our spouse’s. Happy Couples talk about their expectations because it’s the best way to kill the assumptions. (Here’s a free guide to do just that!)

6. Make Room for Each Other
It is so easy for a woman to believe that, as the mom she, is the final say on all parenting decisions. And, trust that I’ve been that mom at times. But the reality is that making room for both opinions, ideas, and desires is the only way that we get the involved dad that we say we want. And a Happy Couple requires a happy mom AND a happy dad. Is it a harder and bumpier road trying to find solutions that make both of you happy? YES! But is it worth it in the end? Double YES!

7. Set Boundaries Together
Boundaries are necessary for sanity, especially for new parents. The Happy Couple takes time to create and communicate boundaries with friends and family. This simple act takes a huge chunk of stress off their plate early in the game. When you’re relieved from the potential angst about how long Aunt Berta is going to visit you get to use that energy elsewhere. And these boundaries are beautiful in lots of areas: Finances (make a budget!), Eating (meal plans #ftw!) and Schedules (It’s your turn to get up, buddy! #nighttimefeedings). As long as you’re able to be flexible (because babies don’t listen to boundaries), boundaries can be a great way to use your precious time and energy well.

8. Don’t Take it Personally
You’re both tired. You’re both emotionally drained. You’re both scared. These are all ingredients that make up some of a couple’s most legendary arguments. The stupidest and most unimportant things will send you into a rage. It’s not ok. You both should know better. You don’t want that to happen… BUT. If (ahem, when) that epic argument does happen try your very best not to take it too personally. The Happy Couple realizes that this is a season, not forever, and they value the power of forgiveness.

9. Listen to Each Other
This is probably new territory for both of you. You are going to have a billion different feelings swirling around in your brain. Happy Couples listen to each other. They don’t build their case while the other one talks. They don’t rush to fix everything. They don’t try to prove how they have it worse. They listen and seek to understand.

10. Share the Load
Before parenthood you had plenty of time and energy. That luxury is gone, Friends. Marriage during the parenthood stage is (mostly) about survival, and a Happy Couple knows that sharing is caring. This is two-sided: Women have to communicate where they need help and Men have to be committed to looking around for where they can serve. Happy Couples make sure that no man (or mama!) is left behind.

How do you maintain your Happiest Couple on the Block status?

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Why Date Nights Won’t Save Your Marriage

Babyproof - Date Night

Can I tell you about our first date after we became parents?

First of all, I don’t know why we even decided to go on a date. Honestly? We are not really date night people, even before we had a baby. We love getting takeout, watching movies, and chilling from the comfort of our own home. But it felt like something we were supposed to do if we wanted to be responsibly married with child. So we dropped our 4-week old baby off with my in-laws and headed to dinner.

I scarfed down my meal as fast as possible, and anxiously waited for Mark to finish his food. Thirty minutes into date night I begged him to just let us go home. I missed my baby. What if he missed me? I don’t want him to be in distress! And what if he won’t use the bottle we left? What if he is hungry? OUR CHILD IS DYING OF STARVATION, MAN! TAKE ME HOME!

Mark kept trying to engage me in conversation and get my mind off of the baby, but it just wasn’t happening. I am ashamed to admit that I was obsessed. I also knew I’d be going back to work in a few weeks so our date night simply felt like precious time I wasn’t spending with my little guy that would be in kindergarten before I knew it. #hormones #newmomdrama

Needless to say, it didn’t take long before we headed back to the in-laws to pick up our bundle of joy. We didn’t feel closer, rejuvenated, or more in love. Instead, we just felt full, a little poorer, and disappointed that date night didn’t make us feel like our ‘old selves.’

When you have a new baby the only advice you’ll get about your marriage is to make time for date nights. And you will follow the advice because you like doing what you’re ‘supposed’ to do. You’ll take a shower, make reservations at the newest local hot spot, and drop the baby off with a loved one, but then what? How do you make sure that you don’t let your date night go to waste like we did?

Know WHY you’re going on a date night in the first place
I am a firm believer that we should understand why we do what we do, and on our first night away from the baby I had no clue why we left him in the first place (other than it was what we ‘should’ do).

We didn’t sit down and talk about the purpose of the date night. If we had talked about it, I might have heard my husband say, “I miss you. I miss having your attention. I miss ignoring you while you talk about the Kardashians. I miss arguing about politics with you. I really miss you and I need this date night so that my love tank can get refilled.” And when I really understood that date night was about his need to be connected to me it would have been a LOT easier to switch my focus from being a mom to being a wife.

Question to ask yourself: Why do we need this time away from the baby? Your reasons will probably be completely different from ours, but you will get so much more from your time when you know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Respect your feelings
When we went on our date I was going back to work in a couple of weeks. I was anxious about going back to work. Deciding to go on a date while my mind was buzzing with questions about how I would do being away from my little guy was not our best move.

Did Mark and I need to reconnect? Yes. Did our date night have to look like a traditional date night with dinner reservations and babysitting? Not necessarily. We could have had the best of both worlds by being intentional about how we spent Otis’s next 2-hour nap. We could have decided to spend that time together over a simple cup of coffee, instead of zoning out in our own worlds or taking naps like we normally did. The point is that I wasn’t in a mental space to leave my baby that night, and we would have been better off getting creative about how to get both of our needs met.

Question to ask yourself: How are we both feeling about date night? What considerations need to be made so that we’re both able to bring as much of our A-game as possible?

Focus less on time away, and more on refueling the love tanks
I think when people say “Go on a date night!” they really mean “Refuel each other’s love tanks!” Because here’s a quick lesson on how love tanks work (before I start, you have read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, right? Good):

Love tanks are filled up when someone speaks our love language to us (speak words of affirmation, perform acts of service, spend quality time, show affection, give a meaningful gift). Love fuel is used when we are stressed or arguing. The kicker is that while it’s usually our spouse’s job to fill the love tank up ANYONE can drain the tank. The traffic on the way home from work drains the tank, the Twitter fight about the last episode of Scandal drains the tank, THE BABY THAT NEVER SLEEPS DRAINS THE TANK.

The idea is that a date night will refuel everyone’s love tank, but it doesn’t. If you need words of affirmation to feel close to your partner you might simply need a pep talk from your significant other letting you know how you’re kicking Parenthood’s butt. If you’re a gifts person then a bouquet of your favorite flowers may be just what you need to feel loved and taken care of. The point is that your love tanks are usually sitting on empty when you first become parents and it’s a good idea to focus more on refueling each other’s tanks and less on just finding a new restaurant to try.

Question to ask yourself: What do I actually need from my spouse right now?

Date nights alone aren’t going to protect your marriage, but being intentional with your time and knowing what you each actually need from your marriage will!

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Marriage Links #009

Marriage Links are things me, Becca, or you have found around the Internet that made you think differently about marriage. If you have written something you’d like featured here, please send it to marie.mckinney@gmail.com. I’d love to include you!

“We raise our children as best we can, and we know that we have succeeded if they leave us, going out into the world to find partners and have children of their own. Once our gods have left us, we try to pick up the pieces of our long neglected marriages and find new purpose. Is it surprising that divorce rates are rising fastest for new empty nesters?”
How American Parenting is Killing the American Marriage via Quartz

“I’m praying that your love for and commitment to your spouse will swell with each year you’re together, that you will grow to love the legacy you are creating just as much as you adore the person you’re creating it with.”
If My Child Marries Yours via Teach Me to Braid

“Our fights can feel incredibly unproductive, almost one-sided. We get angrier and angier – him shutting down and me pushing the issue until neither of us have a clue what we’re fighting about or how we’ll know when it’s over. In the ugliest moments, we sling the “d-word” at one another like a hand grenade with an intact pin.”
Love via Teach Me to Braid

(My favorite new blogger is the Duck Dynasty son.)
“Resilience is to come out stronger then you went in. Hope for how things should be and you will get there eventually.”
We are in Los Angeles, California via Young and Beardless

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5 Books That Will Change Your Marriage

5 books to read

I don’t think there’s such a thing as being too knowledgable about a subject, especially if that subject is properly taking care of your marriage and spouse. There are tons of books on the subject of marriage and relationships, and it’s so easy to feel like you’re drowning. Here are 5 books that can give you a great idea of how we approach coaching and can change your marriage in big ways.

The 5 Sex Needs of Men & Women by Gary & Barbara Rosberg
It’s so easy to think that we do things for the same reason, especially in the bedroom. While physical intimacy meets a husband and wife’s needs, they aren’t always the same needs. This book does a great job of letting you know what you are both looking for in the bedroom and actually getting it. #bowchickawowow

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson
I love Sue Johnson and this book. This is an extremely practical book that is a great place for couples to start understanding and correcting their negative interaction cycles. PLEASE BUY THIS BOOK.

The Power of Two: Secrets of a Strong and Loving Marriage by Susan Heitler
I saw Dr. Heitler speak once and fell in love. She does a great job of breaking down the actual communication hiccups that keep couples going round and round. Almost everything we teach started with her.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
At the end of the day our goal is to help couples become more vulnerable with one another. A lot of our fighting is rooted in defensiveness and fear of being criticized. We believe that marriages are meant to be a safe place and that safe place is born when we are brave enough to be let our own guard down.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
This is not a marriage book, but it’s been huge in helping me see where my anxiety is in life and dealing with it head on. So much of marriage is about being in the right headspace, and I don’t know a better book for getting you mentally strong.

This Bleep is Hard by me
This is just me doing what I’m supposed to do to feed my baby. Get a copy and read about how marriage is hard for the ‘experts,’ too!

What book would you add to this list? Also, yes, those are all affiliate links because mortgage.

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