Too Young to be Married they Said

Too Young to b Married they said, But I have loved every bit of our life!

I was 23 when we got married, my husband was 22. Now at almost 25, still many of my friends are not married. Leading up to the wedding, I can’t count how many times I heard, “you are too young to be getting married.” Most were  just incredulous that I am now an adult. But, really did think we were too young to get married. “Why rush?” they would say?  I never thought I was in a rush. This was just how life was progressing for us. After all, my parents were my age when they got married. We had both graduated from college, I was finishing up graduate school, he was about to leave for Fort Benning. Although let’s be real, the military did not make it easy to slow down either. So what was I to do with all these well intended people that might as well been saying, you’re making a huge mistake. But here I am just after our first wedding anniversary and I can’t imagine this being a mistake.

I have always been told that I am one of those people that are easily swayed by what people say. I like for others to think well of me, I constantly worry about what people might or might not be saying about me. So I was a bit surprised at myself that I couldn’t find any anxiety in me when people would tell me I was too young. Maybe it’s because all the anxiety I could muster at the time was being thrown at my school work. Or maybe it’s because I finally realized that despite what people said about me and our relationship it wasn’t going to affect me. Why wait if I knew this was the person I wanted to spend my life with? What did it matter to Joe Schmoe when I got married? That’s right, it doesn’t.

So here is what I have learned about marrying young!

1.We can’t compare ourselves to the other people around you!

Just because we are doing something different doesn’t make me right and them wrong. When we compare ourselves to others we often find ourselves in discontent. Like the saying “You do You” We have to do what works for us. Most of my friends who are in relationships are content to wait for a while before getting married, due to being in the military, that wasn’t going to work for us or else I couldn’t move with him. But marriage works for us!

2.We get to experience so much together!

I have a friend who is almost 30 and celebrated her 1st wedding anniversary a few weeks before B and I did! When we talk she always wishes they had met earlier and were married younger so they could have had that time together. I will be 25 when we celebrate our 2nd anniversary! We have so much to do together!

3.Less comparison between partners!

While my marriage was not my first relationship it was really my first adult relationship. I don’t get caught in the trap of comparing B to past boyfriends or relationships. And neither does he! It makes our lives so much smoother!

4.Regardless of how old we are; we get to spend our lives together!

No matter how old or young you are when you get married, the best part is getting to spend all my life with B! We get to do all the parts of having a family, being a family, and building a family. We get to adventure and make new memories, we get to have all the experiences, we get the highs and lows of being together.

As I reflect on age and marriage, to me maturity is more important than age. Age is a number that might not reflect a lot! But having a mature spirit, forgiving and gracious and a loving heart is all that is needed to make the marriage work, a lifelong commitment to one another, I made that commitment at 23! And I couldn’t be more happy with how my life is!

Too young to be married they told me, but I have loved every minute and wouldn't change it!

My Review of Hot Holy & Humorous by J. Parker

My Review of Hot Holy & Humorous by J. Parker - Why I recommend it to all my clients struggling with intimacy in their marriage

(In case ya’ll didn’t know or haven’t explored my website fully, I have a Resource tab on my blog! Click here to check it out! On the resource page I have listed several areas of interest that I regularly address with on the blog: Marriage, parenting, military life, and mental health and wellness. Under each category I have several books that I have read and had great success sharing with my clients in those areas. (I would like to say that I was not compensated in anyway to promote any of these books. I paid for all of them with my own funds and have read each other them.) I decided that over the next few weeks I am going to do a Book Review of some of my favorites! And since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching I thought I would start with J. Parker’s book, Hot, Holy, & Humorous.

Our culture is full of opinions about sex, sexuality, and what healthy sexuality is or isn’t. But so often we turn to sources like Google, Cosmo, or any other number of sources on the internet, maybe even pornography (another topic for another day); and as would be expected none of these sources account for Godly sexuality. So where is a girl to turn when trying to better her marriage and her relationship with Christ if we can’t trust the world around us. I have read a couple of books written from a Christian perspective on healthy, Godly sexuality. The first is Sheet Music by Dr. Leman and the second is Hot, Holy, & Humorous by J. Parker. I wanted to touch on the subject of Sex because it is a necessary component to a great and satisfied marriage. Leading up to Valentine’s Day as we all prepare to celebrate our love relationships is the perfect time to think about such things too. J. Parker’s book because it is a quick, easy, funny, but extremely informative book that definitely made an impact on me and my marriage. So without Further ado…
Hot, Holy, & Humorous is a wonderful resource for all married, Christian women. Whether you are satisfied or unsatisfied with your sex life, J. Parker can help you feel more confident and knowledgeable in the bedroom. PLUS, no guy is going to be upset that you want to improve that area of your life! Hot, Holy, & Humorous is informative and insightful, while still maintaining integrity, which if you read Cosmo, is not always a given when discussing sexuality. The topics she covers are: preparing body and mind for sex, kissing, initiating sex, when sex hurts, oral sex, hand jobs, mismatched sex drives, and orgasms. So many areas in which women struggle or want improvement on. Parker makes seeking this help safe and free from judgment.
Parker not only provides practical advice, but gives a daily dose of humor as she does so. In graduate school I had to take a sexuality counseling class, while informative I rarely found resources through that class I thought would be helpful in the lives of my clients. The text book was full of sexual disorders, STIs, contraceptive methods, positions, and sexual orientation and gender expression. As this was the last class I had in my curriculum I knew I was heading to a military installation and that I was going to be working with Army couples mostly if I was to find a job (I am now a volunteer counseling intern with the Family Life Chaplain). Working through a Chaplain organization not all my clients are religious, but many are Christian and want resources that mirror that path. So very little I was learning in class was going to be helpful to my population of interest. So I was in desperate need of resources regarding sexuality for Christian married couples. I am so glad I found Hot. Holy, and Humorous. It’s a short and affordable resource that I feel confident referring to my clients for any variety of areas that they may want improvement on.
This book is written by a real woman, for real women who want help in any area of their sexual relationship with their husband. Its comical and informative. J. Parker also writes a blog by the same name, she answers questions about sexuality and other areas of intimacy. Before I found her book I was following her blog. You can check her blog out Here. Find her on Facebook and Twitter! So as I end I want to leave you with this quote from J. Parker: “If you want that deep connection with your husband, you have to open yourself up. You need to trust him with your heart and with your body.

How to Embrace Conflict in your Relationship and Come out Stronger

How to embrace conflict in your relationship and come out stronger

A week or so ago I wrote a post about why we need to stop husband bashing as a way of maintaining fondness and admiration for them. The is one of Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. When counseling couples, this is one of the main books and works that I draw on because his advice is well backed by science and research, and it works. I thought I would draw out one of his other principles for a successful marriage today: Solving solvable problems.

Many of the problems we face in our relationship are things we simply cannot change. We cannot change our personalities, they are pretty well set. Nor can we change extraneous circumstances, they are outside our control. We can’t change our extended family; we are pretty much just stuck with them. However, we can change how we relate to one another, and that can make all the difference when you and your spouse are trying to solve a problem. Remember, in a marriage you are a team, and you either win together or lose together; if one person ever walks away feeling like they lost, then both people lost. So practicing (and I choose this word specifically) practical conflict resolution skills can help you and your partner solve the solvable problems and overcome the non-solvable problems.

While Gottman’s unique approach to marriage counseling doesn’t focus solely on communication skills as more traditional models might. Rather he uses softening startups, making and receiving repair attempts, soothing yourself and your spouse, compromise, and tolerating each other’s faults. Now I am sure you are familiar with the last two or three components, but, the first two I think are the most important, so that is where I am going to focus.

Softening Startups

I am going to be the first to admit that I am not great at this; I tend to get very defensive, very quickly. However, I notice a radical difference in my husband’s response to me when I am soft and when I am defensive. Nothing can be resolved when one or both partners are in a defensive mode, this very quickly leads to arguments. We can’t avoid difficult conversations for fear of creating conflict either. Avoiding conflict will not bring us closer to our spouses, rather it will drive a wedge in between us making us feel ever more distant.

That is why we need to use soft startups when we know we are broaching a difficult subjects. Softening means no accusations. “Why didn’t you do…”; “How come you can never do….” Instead say, “I would really appreciate if you could help me do…”, “I really could use an extra set of hands on this project.” Often we feel underappreciated or a lack of help from our spouses simply because we haven’t asked for their help. They can’t read our minds, it is not a sign of disrespect, more of ignorance. When we use I-statements and avoid blaming our spouses we are more likely to get the response we desire, they come and help us. Be polite, this is important, as we are more likely to oblige someone who is polite, rather than demanding.

Making repair attempts

Gottman has said it is not the number of fights a couple has that impacts relationship satisfaction, rather it is how well a couple can reconnect after the argument. This is the idea behind making and receiving repair attempts. Couples have to practice both, it is not enough for one person to continually make repair attempts if the other partner makes not effort to receive and accept them.

A repair attempt can take many forms, but it is a way of turning toward your spouse (one of Gottman’s 7 Principles) after an argument. Repair attempts can be humorous jokes to break the tension after a fight, an apology, validating your partner’s emotions, and showing empathy. These can be done in the moment, during an argument. However, we are stubborn creatures, or at least I am! And often, we do not make repair attempts at the time because we feel justified in our position.

Repair attempts can also be made later: apologize, tell your spouse you love him, and make sincere efforts to let them know you are sorry. And well we’ve all heard that making up is the best part of fighting… if you know what I mean!
Not only do you need to make repair attempts, but you also need to be able to accept them when your spouse makes them! This requires being mature, and to stop dwelling on the argument and accept their apology. Give up your stubbornness, as hard as I know it is, believe me! If you want to know how well you are making and receiving repair attempts in your relationship, go to The Gottman Institute Blog and use the questionnaire and see how you rate.

How We Can Grow Closer

These tools can help make conflict within the marriage (which is inevitable, I don’t care how much you love each other, at some point there will be conflict). Remember, don’t avoid conflict in attempt to keep peace. It will only drive a wedge in between you and your spouse. If you soften your approach to complaints, it will lessen your partner’s defensiveness. Then you will be more likely to be able to solve your problems.

Remember, not all conflicts can be solved. There will always be gender differences, personality clashes, family members we don’t get along with. So try to come to compromises with those issues. Solve the ones you can so your relationship is not plagued with insolvable and solvable problems! I highly recommend reading Gottman’s Book. It is full of questionnaires and assessments that can be used to monitor how you are behaving in your relationship.

What are some of your conflict resolution strategies??

Conflict is a natural part of relationships! But it doesn't have break them! Here are some ways to embrace conflict in your relationship and come out stronger on the other side.

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5 Ways to Keep the Interest Alive In a Long Distance Relationship

Are you in a long distance relationship or spend a lot of time apart? Here is how you can keep the romantic spark alive even when you spend a lot of time apart!

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times with the same person”

Such a beautiful and wonderful quote; and something I think we all start out striving for. But lets me honest, it is a lot easier to fall in love with a person who is present, one that is there when you wake up and fall asleep, home for dinner, who is there to help put the kids to bed and someone who can help around the house. A partner because that is what a marriage is, a partnership. But enter military life, and suddenly that does not always happen. There are lots of separations in military life: i.e. deployments, trainings, TDYs, field time; and they are never there in the mornings because of PT. And suddenly, because of that we become incredible self-sufficient, which don’t get me wrong is not a bad thing. But when we become so self-sufficient, it can begin to interfere with the romance. Sure everyone thinks having a military relationship is so romantic with the grand homecomings after long absences. But what you don’t realize until you live it, is that it is never as romantic as it seems. It can be hard to keep the romance alive after that first initial homecoming.

So how do you keep the romance alive in your military (or long distance) marriage

1. Communicate Whenever You Can, However You Can

 Sometimes all we have are letters, sometimes we can Facetime, Skype, text, call each other. Regardless of what methods are available to you, utilize them. Don’t just send letters or emails, include pictures of you and what you are doing. This goes both ways. By sharing pictures, you can continue to feel connected to each other and what each other are doing. Whether you think it’s exciting or not, they will feel grateful that you thought of them and want to share what you are doing with them

2. Make Your Time Together Intentional

When you are together, make sure you are intentionally seeking to spend time with your spouse, don’t just spend your time haphazardly. Intentionally seeking your spouse means making a specific effort to work on your relationship at a certain time. All interactions should be intentional, but they rarely are, when time is limited this is even more crucial to keeping the relationship healthy and stoking the fires. When my husband was doing a lot of field training he was gone most days of the week for several months, and only home on weekends. I was intentional of not making plans with friends to be away while he was home. We spent that time together as a couple. Being intentional with the time we had together allowed us to keep romance alive during those months.

3. Be Creative Expressing Intimacy to your Spouse

When you are together all the time, there are easy, common ways to express intimacy towards your spouse. But keeping it alive is a bit more difficult. Now I am not suggesting you send racy photos to your spouse (especially if they are deployed as you never know who is monitoring packages or internet lines). If you want to send them that’s your choice, just be careful! However, there are other ways to creatively share. Tell your spouse what specifically you miss about him/her. “When I see you I want to ____.” This will help you feel connected to each other even if it’s just via letters. Send cards, not just letters. The sky is really the limit in how you are creative with each other.

4. Always Be Willing to Learn

Being apart means that there are going to be things ya’ll don’t know about each other. Even if you talk every day, the chances that you share everything, every day, are so slim. You are both going to have experiences the other won’t and it will change and affect you both differently. So when you are back together, be willing to continue learning about each other. As you learn more about each other, it will continue to build intimacy in your relationship.

​5. Surprise Each Other

Now, I know physically surprising each other in person is not always possible; especially if they are separated from you for military reasons. But send them something, maybe he really loves video games and a new one came out, beat him to the punch and send it to him. You are going to miss your anniversary together, send her flowers. It doesn’t have to be anything large or extravagant. Small surprises like a box of his favorite Christmas cookies if he is going to be deployed during the holidays, say a lot.
So whether you see each other once a week or are separated for months at a time you can use these 5 ideas to help you maintain the romantic spark in your relationship.
What are your creative ways to stay connected to your spouse across the distance?
 As Military Couples we find outselves separated a lot.  Here are my top 5 ways to keep the interest alive in a long distance relatioship

Husband Bashing

In order to keep our marriages healthy we need to grow in fondness, meaning we need to stop husband bashing!

Husband bashing: just google it. You will find tons of articles listing why you should not do it; funny jokes; and to beware of husband bashers. Yet, it is so easy to do. He makes us mad, forgets the one thing at the store we needed most, whatever. And we turn to our sisters, friends, or worse the internet. We are all guilty of this. But if we are being honest with ourselves, we do not feel any better for it. All we have done is tick off our husbands and turn our biggest supporters against him. So what can we do instead the next he forgets to pick up milk on his way home?

Well according to one of the most respected researchers in marital and relational therapy, Dr. John Gottman, suggests that one of the seven principles for making marriage work is to nurture fondness and admiration for each other. But how can we do that when we are constantly bashing our husbands for all their short comings? We can’t; we can’t both admire them and bash them at the same time. Every time we bash them publicly or even internally, we forfeit the opportunity to admire their positive qualities, what drew us to our spouses in the first place.

As humans we are naturally drawn to more immediately recognize negative situations, characteristics, events, individuals, and actions. This means we are more apt to notice our spouses’ short comings rather than their achievements and successes. As a result, we husband bash to vent our frustrations. Learning to train our minds to focus on the good, positive moments takes time and dedication. And slowly we won’t gravitate towards nitpicking the negatives. Allowing us to turn towards our spouse and remember to stay fond of each other, have happy memories together in the present, not just the past. When we are fond of our husbands and admire them for all their strengths, we won’t continue to bash our husbands. If we continue to husband bash, it becomes breeding ground for contempt in our relationship. Contempt is one of the number one enemies of a healthy, successful relationships. Fostering fondness is an antidote to the growing contempt, remembering why we love our spouse keeps the focus positives in our relationship.

​ We do this by consistently telling our spouses why we appreciate them, identifying positive qualities they admire about their partner and reminiscing about the past; what brought you together, what was the first thing that attracted you to your spouse, and shared memories of good times together. This will buffer the stresses that you encounter in your relationship by altering your view of your partner as fundamentally positive as opposed to negative. It will not eliminate any stresses in your relationship, but it will help you navigate the stresses you encounter together. So remember, next time he forgets to do wash the dishes, don’t bash your husband tell them what you appreciate them instead. Maybe he didn’t do the dishes because he was busy playing with the kids; you never know. The fonder of your husband you are, the happier your relationship will be.