Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Communication

One thing Luke and I had to learn early on in our marriage was how to communicate - aka fight.

I am an avoider. I don't like confrontation.

Luke is a let's-face-it-head-on kind of person.

You can imagine the kind of fights we had when we first got married.

Luke: !@!@!@

Lacy: ::silence::

Luke: Didn't you hear me? I said !@!@!@

Lacy: ::crickets chirping::

Luke: Why aren't you talking to me?

Lacy: I don't like fighting!!

And then eventually (I remember it did take a long time), we'd get to the heart of the matter and discuss what we really needed to discuss.

We've gotten a lot better at communicating in the almost-seven-years that we've been married, but there are still times that things get blown up into a "fight".

One thing I've learned is that it is very important for Luke to know that I'm listening to him. So I try not to interrupt, and to use good eye contact (even when I feel like avoiding!).

My hot button is being talked down to/being patronized. Sometimes it is hard to realize you're doing this to someone, so Luke tries to be aware and not do this when we're communicating. At least most of the time.

We've learned these things about each other just through the experience of being together and going through our times of "communication". And we've learned how to use them to bring a positive spin on a situation, even when what we're talking about is hard.

Our best times at communicating usually also happen after the blow up. It is so hard to communicate effectively when you're in the midst of an angry, passionate moment. So I have a method of trying to diffuse the situation and then come back and talk about it when we can be more civil to each other.

What are things that you've found help the communication with your spouse?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Best Romantic . . .

Happy Monday, everyone.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and that today's post will get you thinking romantic-al thoughts throughout the week.

This is a list I borrowed from 1001 Ways to be Romantic, but I substituted the book answers with my own. I also went over the list with my hubby before writing this, and it got us in a warm, fuzzy mood together.

So here they are.

Best Romantic Gift: The gift of Understanding

Best Romantic Present: Sapphire Earrings

Best Romantic Car: 1965 Mustang Convertible (my dream car)

Most Romantic Comic Strip: For Better or For Worse

Best Romantic TV Show Ever: Eli Stone

Most Romantic City In the World: Barcelona, Spain (Disclaimer: I have only traveled outside the U.S. once, on a cruise, and none of our excursions were that romantic. This is the city I would most like to visit with my husband if we ever have the opportunity.)

Most Romantic City In the U.S.A.: New York

Best Romantic Color: Blue . . . my favorite color.

Most Romantic Broadway Musical: Phantom of the Opera (This was the same answer as in the book. I've never seen a Broadway musical live, only those made into movies, but this is definitely one of my favorites.)

Best Romantic Movie: Return to Me

Best Romantic Actress: Audrey Hepburn

Best Romantic Actor: Cary Grant

Best Romantic Hotel: Renaissance Dallas Hotel

Best Romantic Voice (Male): My Husband (When he first wakes up in the morning, and his voice is deep with sleep.)

Best Romantic Voice (Female): Kathleen Turner

Best Romantic Song: La Vie En Rose

Take a little time with your spouse this week to make a list of your favorite romantic things. Or just take some time and make out with your honey. Either way, you'll be glad you did, and it will definitely put a different kind of sizzle into an already scorching summer!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another Dude's Perspective on Romance

Today's post is a little different.
I have my brother, Clint Christensen, giving me an interview on how he romances his lovely wife, Misty.

When I first asked him to write a post for me his answer was "Not just no, but h-e-double-hockey-sticks NO!" (And I did edit that line. He has the vocabulary of your average prison inmate or sailor.)

So I went to the big sister stand-by. "If you don't do it, I'm telling Mom!"

Then we came up with a compromise. I'd do the writing if he would tell me the Top Five Romantic Tips he has to offer.

So here are his answers.

Number One: Make Her Dinner.

As a country boy (His full-time job is a firefighter, and his part-time job is running our mother's ranch), from a small town, nothing tells a wife you love her like cooking her favorite dinner . . . especially when you surprise her.

Number Two: Surprise Her with Flowers.

When I'm out on the farm or driving around, I use my cell phone and take a picture of a pretty flower. The wild blooms on a cactus or even a pretty rose in a garden, and send it to my wife with the text message: "I got you some flowers." She loves it. It's a good way to brighten her busy day.

(This was my favorite. I thought it was a great idea, and never would have thought my brother would do something so clever. Who knew?)

Number Three: Do Her Favorite Thing.

I like to stay home and she likes to go out, so once in a while surprise her by hopping in the truck and going where she wants to go. In Misty's case, that's usually the movies. She loves going to the movies, so I'll bite the bullet and take her, with popcorn and candy and the works.

Number Four: Help Her Family.

Once in a while I help her family without being asked to do it. I've mowed her Grandma's lawn and helped her Dad in his shed just as a nice gesture, and it always goes over very well with my wife. Family means a lot to her, and helping them without being prodded to do it always makes her happy.

(The emerging pattern I saw from our conversation was "Surprise Her." If you do something a little out of the ordinary, or just with a bit more thought for your spouse, it can have great results.)

Number Five: Going For A Drive.

I like to cruise through the country, checking out the land, seeing how crops are growing, and watching the wildlife. My wife likes to drive through town, looking at the houses and lawns, and making plans for the future. So we compromise and do both whenever we can. But just driving through town for her is one of the ways I try to please her.

Those are some of my brother's simple ways of showing love and affection for his wife. What are some simple ways you can show your spouse that you care?

Thank you, Clint, for sharing with us on RYS . . . and for not making me tell Mom on you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Big News!

Luke and I have an announcement to share... we're having a baby!

We'll welcome our little one into the world sometime around the middle of December. That's right, a Christmas baby.

So this means we'll be moving from the category of "married with no kids" to "married with an infant" on the Romancing Your Spouse scale.

I don't think it's really hit us yet how this is going to change our lives. I can imagine it will be hard to leave the little one in the beginning, even to create a little romance with hubby, even though we have plenty of baby-sitters available between our two families. Then there's the whole "we have a kid but no money now" issue to think about...

I'd welcome your thoughts/experiences on keeping the romance alive with a small baby. Hope you'll leave a comment!

P.S. We'll find out in July whether it is a boy or girl, so stay tuned for an update!

Monday, June 22, 2009

I liked what Myra said on Thursday about finding romance in the every day things.

This weekend my brother surprised me and Dear Hubby by picking up our twins and taking them home with him. In fact, I am supposed to pick them up sometime today.

We still had the baby girl with us, but suddenly the pressure of all three kids running wild in the house was relieved.

And we loved it!

We were able to speak in a normal tone. No screaming and yelling above the noise to be heard. We were able to do one of my favorite things; snuggling on the couch and watching movies . . . or in our case, getting caught up on a new TV show we both like, Royal Pains.

We cooked lunch together today and snacked on the leftovers into the evening. All in all, it was great to spend more time together without the stress of all three kids.

Now, that isn't to say everything all weekend long was just peachy-keen.

We got up way too early (in my opinion) to go and watch Hubby's little niece (although technically she's actually his first cousin, but it feels more like she's his niece . . . anyway) play in a softball tournament. VERY HOT and HUMID day.

But we loved doing it, and if we had the option of going back for a do-over, we'd still go out to watch the games. Love Hubby's family and loved being there for that sweet girl.

Our daughter was a handful to keep up with, but we managed.

Came home that evening and showered, then Hubby took me out to dinner when I got a rejection from an agent.

He was very sweet about it, and told me I could order anything I wanted. Which was great. I eat my way through most of my problems. But the darling daughter would NOT be quiet in the restaurant. She babbled and screamed and threw food everywhere. She managed to make up for her brothers' absence, and then some.

It may not have been 100% perfect in the true romance department, but like Myra said, sometimes you just have to take what you can get, and enjoy it while it lasts.

Hope you all find a little romance with your spouses this week.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Romance in the everyday

Truth be told, I’m not feeling especially romantic these days. Sometimes the tedium of day-to-day living just saps the romance right out of the air. There are so many things we have to take care of. Work. Kids. Laundry. Grocery shopping. Cooking. Yard work. Bills. By the time we get done with it all at the end of the day (and that’s assuming we do get done), romance is the last thing on our minds.

What’s so amazing is that even though most of us struggle to find the time and energy to keep the romantic spark alive in our marriages, we don’t have to look very far to see the importance the world places on romance. I just did a search on Amazon.com for books on romance. Even narrowing it down to books that fell under the “Christian living” category, I came up with 139 titles. Searching for Christian romance novels, I found nearly 500 books! Combine those numbers with the secular titles available, and the results are mind-boggling! Are we preoccupied or what???

I’ve read myriad romantic novels and books on romance, each time hoping to come across that one life-changing nugget that would magically (and permanently) revive the honeymoon spirit in my marriage. I have yet to find it. So that tells me maybe it doesn’t even exist. At least not in the form I’m looking for.

Maybe I need to face the fact that there is no “magic romance bullet.” No easy fix for the doldrums of midlife marriage or any of the phases we go through post-honeymoon. If we want romance in our marriages, we have to find it in the everyday stuff. A back rub at the end of a hard day. Holding hands while watching a favorite TV show. Praying with each other at bedtime. Running errands or doing yard work together. Taking long walks at sunset.

Everyday life is what we’re stuck with, and romance is what we make of it. Find the romance in one simple thing today and share it with your sweetie.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Being flexible

So my husband is the king of impromptu events. He is Mr. "Off the Cuff", improv, play-it-by-ear... well, you get the point.

I am not. I am a planner. A list-maker. I like to know a week ahead of time what the plan is.

Us being opposites in this way didn't bother me much when we first dated or were first married. "Oh, you want to go hiking (to the zoo, to a movie, etc. etc.)? Sure, let's go." And we'd leave behind the homework or housework or whatever we were supposed to be doing to go have fun.

I guess I am turning into an old fogey or something because now I am much more likely to say "no" unless my day is very clear.

For instance, the other night he says, "I want to ride my bike out to this restaurant (about 10 miles from our home). You can meet me there and we'll eat dinner." Well, I had already had an exhausting day at work and had other stuff to do, so I gently requested that we rain check and do it another time.

I know, I'm turning into a dud.

I've recently come to a realization that I need to be a little more flexible where romance is concerned. Some of our best dates have been those that weren't planned for. So that's what I'm working on right now.

Think Mr. Impromptu will take me out for dinner tonight???

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hello folks.

Reading my dear friend Janet's post last week got me to thinking along the lines of nostalgia.

I have been an avid romance reader since my early teens, and one of the things I noticed right away about those books was the "love at first sight" theme.

Man, I thought that was the way it was going to be for me. I would enter a room, see the man of my dreams, our eyes would lock, and in that heart-stopping moment, we would recognize each other as soul mates.

Well, I must say my first meeting with my future husband did not go exactly that way.

We were both in college, he had just transferred to my school, and I happened to know a few of his buddies from my previous year. A friend and I headed over to the buddy's house to watch movies, we entered a pitch black living room, except for the light from the TV screen, and I actually mistook him for another guy I knew who also wore glasses.

I remember feeling confused and foolish because I couldn't figure out how there could be two of the same person in the room. After a few seconds it dawned on me there were two different tall, skinny guys with glasses in the room.

We all hung out as a group for the rest of the night, and for many months after that.

He asked me out, and I turned him down. I liked being his friend, we had fun hanging out together and with our group, but I still hadn't had that eyes-locking-across-the-room moment. I thought that's what being in love was supposed to be. So enamored of another person that you simply had to meet them, they became enamored with you, and la-la-la . . . happily ever after.

So after a few months of being friends I thought I knew where we stood with one another. Then one night he didn't show up to play cards. I asked around. He was hanging out with another girl named Lisa.


MY Scott was hanging out with another girl?!!!!

NO WAY was I going to stand for that.

Asked him out the next night, and we've been together ever since.

So I discovered my real-life romance followed another of my favorite themes in a romance novel . . . a jealous rivalry. And believe me, in our case, it worked like a charm.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Dating Game

This post isn't about me and Dan. Or romancing a spouse. But it is about romance and dating before getting married--and how much it has changed over time. With this generational living we are part of, we have a lot of teens in and out of this house and we really do enjoy it.

But, as we watch them interact with each other, I get nostalgic for the days when a date was a date and going steady was seeing only one guy.

I remember being asked to go on a date to the movies, out to eat, to get a pizza, or just to go get a 'coke' (we called all soft drinks cokes) at someplace kind of like Sonic. Then, if you went on enough dates, it would be said that you were dating that person. I suppose you could have been dating several people at a time. But then, just as now, that didn't always go over well with everyone. So, most times, a couple ended up dating only each other for a while and that was called going steady--just a step away from engaged...or maybe several years away--but they dated only each other. I miss that phrase, going steady. One never had to wonder what it meant.

Now days teens mostly go out in groups (which is a good thing) but when the time comes to travel within that group as a couple it can get a little confusing. When teens say they are dating they might mean they are going steady. If a guy asks a girl to go with him, he doesn't necessarily mean on a "date". He might mean see only each other. It's kind of confusing sometimes. I think for them as well as for some of us older romantics.

I think everyone would be better off going back to dating, going steady, and maybe, just maybe, one day being engaged. I think it was more romantic when I was a teen. Or maybe my memory is just fading . . .

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Back from Vacation!

Is it just me, or does the first day back from vacation just all-around stink? There's piles of laundry to get done, suitcases to unpack, then you go back to work and there's piles of stuff to do, like answer the 200 emails that got sent to you while you were gone. Oh, and don't forget the frenzied dog greeting that lasted about a half hour when we first got home (okay, that is my favorite part about coming home - love those enthusiastic doggie kisses!).

But I digress.

Luke and I just spent 5 days in Florida, where it was, yes, sunny. It only rained one day and we spent that day just hanging out in our condo, until the afternoon when we made an ice cream run and saw a pretty double rainbow. It was really cool over the ocean.

I spent a lot of time reading contest entries for ACFW's Book of the Year contest. I think it is going to be a steep competition this year just based on the books I read. That made for some very fun days for me - reading on the beach and then taking breaks to go play in the water. Or reading in the condo and then napping. Yep, it was a good vacation.

After Florida, Luke and I headed to Branson, Missouri for three days to hang out with his family and celebrate his sister graduating high school. We spent two days traipsing around Silver Dollar City (an old-timey theme park that had my "historical writer" senses on overload) and trying to burn off all the calories of great food we were eating. Then I would collapse back into bed at night and try to recover for the next day. :)

We had our fill of roller-coasters and family game time (the girls lost at Cranium twice in a row!), and now we're back home in the daily grind.

And I am so glad to be here! I missed my bed and my shower and most of all the dogs. I always always always enjoy vacation, but I am always glad to come home, too.

Most romantic part of vacation: 1) walking down the beach at sunset holding hands; 2) Luke buying me a glider rocking chair and ottoman that I've wanted for forever from SDC.

I will be back on my regularly scheduled blog post days now!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fishing Romantic? Not Really.

Good morning, ladies (and a few gentlemen).

Sorry I'm late this morning. Hubby and our sons got back from a fishing trip yesterday, and I was so excited to see them, I forgot to write my blog post.

I don't know if I can really tie the weekend's events into romancing your spouse, since it sorta takes two to make the romance work.

But I'll try.

Hubby had been trying to plan this weekend with a friend for over a year, but conflicting schedules and unexpected delays kept getting in the way.

So he and the buddy finally got the date on both their calendars for the first weekend in June. Since hubby got his new job (and a dramatic pay cut) we've been looking at where to cut back in our budget.

We both had events planned for this month. I had a local conference at the end of June, and his fishing trip at the beginning. So we talked about it, and I decided that to save a little money and to give hubby a chance to have some fun, he should go fishing and I'd skip the conference.

But I don't know how "romantic" this "sacrifice" was because he also took the twins, which gave me almost three days of peace and quiet with our daughter.

So maybe this one was a romantic draw. We both got something we wanted, and we both missed each other, and we'll both be making renewed efforts to spend some alone time together.

Hope you all have a great week.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Things to do together

Being married means doing things together. That is good for a marriage and to deepen your relationship with your husband. Well, I now know one thing I won't be doing with my husband. I tried--really--but it isn't gonna work.

I know some of you out there are great at being a gardner. Well, I'm not for several reasons. I still remember having to help my mother in the garden as a child. Let's just say I didn't inherit her green thumb. She was great at growing things. I'm not. I didn't like gardening as a child, and I haven't changed my mind in all those years. And while we on the subject of the outdoors, I don't camp out either. My idea of roughing it is a two star hotel.

Well, anyway I decided to help my husband these past few weeks with our yard work and gardens since I'm retired now. In the two times I worked outside with him, we found two snakes and I think every mosquito in the neighborhood feasted on me. I'm now over the urge to help my husband with the garden. He's on his own.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beneath the Surface

Good morning, folks.

Hope your weekend was good and filled with chocolates, roses, moonlight, walks on the beach or cozy cabins in the mountains . . . okay, reality check.

Mine wasn't filled with any of those things either.

My weekend started Friday night with our kids running loose outside with the neighbors' kid until after the sun went down. And there was no romantic hand holding on the porch as the sun set, either.

It was chaos and mayhem until we tossed them in their rooms for the night.

Saturday dawned WAY too early, and the cycle of playing hard started all over again. The most romantic moments of that day occurred when my dear hubby rubbed my shoulders as the children bounced on the trampoline and sprayed each other with the water hose, and when my husband brought me a chicken sandwich while I was trying to meet my word count goal for the week (which I did not, unfortunately).

The rest of Saturday included a rushed trip to Wal-Mart for cookie dough and a swimsuit for the toddler, and we ended up with over a hundred dollars worth of stuff we "absolutely had to have".

Yeah, right.

Then it was on to a super hot and sweaty t-ball practice, followed by two hours of swimming in a friend's neighborhood pool.

The sun set on another day, and there was no hand holding and romantic reminiscing on the porch.

Sunday . . . you've probably picked up on the cycle by now. Lots going on with our kids, not a lot of time together for romance.

So last night before we went to bed, I asked hubby about this. "What do you think we should be doing in the romance department with the summer just getting stared, and it already feels crazy?"

After wiggling his eyebrows suggestively, and me smacking him on the arm and telling him to be serious, he surprised me with his real answer.

"I'm just looking forward to a day alone with you. We can have breakfast in bed. Then head over to the bookstore where you'll get hot chocolate, I'll get a cup of coffee, and we can hang out together and talk and look at books until the matinee movie starts. After the movie we'll stop at the grocery store and get all the ingredients we need to cook a fantastic meal together. Then we can finish the night with strawberries and chocolate in bed."

Well . . . didn't my pulse just kick into overdrive?!

Who knew between the mowing, cleaning, kid-wrangling, and running from one activity to the next, there was a romantic date my husband has been planning, if we could only find the time?

I was certainly pleased, and have something really wonderful to look forward to.

Maybe all you need to do is have a simple conversation with your significant other, and you'll find out there's a whole lot of romance brewing that you never suspected.

And if we ever get to go on that date, I'll be sure to tell you how it goes.