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Clear and Present Danger – 10 Gifts NOT to Give Your Spouse

Clear and Present Danger - 10 Gifts NOT to Give Your Spouse

Sure the thought counts, but the gift itself matters, too. Some gifts present a clear and present danger when bestowed upon a spouse and should be avoided at all costs. Here are 10 gifts that could be hazardous to your marriage:

  1. Appliances.  If it cooks or cleans, it is probably something that should not be wrapped up and put under the Christmas tree. Now I’m not talking about things like the fancy pasta-maker your cheffy spouse has been drooling over or anything your foodie mate has put on their Christmas list. I’m talking about the cookware, the vacuum cleaner, and other such productive items that there just isn’t enough wrapping paper or bows to turn them into appealing gifts!

2. Sexy underwear (or anything else you’re dying to see them in ). Nothing says “It’s all about me” more than gifting something that makes you happier than the recipient.

3. Exercise equipment. This category includes gym memberships and healthy-eating cookbooks. Unless you are providing something they specifically requested, your well-intentioned gift may not be well-received!

4. Home improvements. Even if one spouse has been wanting a bigger bathroom or modernized cabinets, making the project “a gift” sets up the recipient to be responsible for any mishaps or frustrations that might be part of the process. (Just because it doesn’t make a great gift, doesn’t mean you can’t still use the big home-improvement announcement to earn additional spousal-brownie-points!)

5. Gift card. Think about it – how different is that from just handing your spouse some cash and telling them to go buy their own gift? Well, there is one difference – you are now dictating exactly where they must buy their own gift from.

6. Anything on your own wish list. See #2, above.

7. Perfume or cologne they’ve never worn before. First of all, there may be a reason they’ve never worn it. Second, what it smells like on the paper tester isn’t necessarily what it’s going to smell like on someone’s body. Unless indicated otherwise, assume your spouse wants some say about how they smell.

8. That item you have both been planning and saving for. Do NOT “surprise” your spouse by making the final decision on the vacation you have been debating for the last few months or picking the recliner that will sit for years to come in the living room. And examine the reasons you would even want to – is it intended to delight, or put an end to a discussion you are tired of having? If you immediately responded: “to delight, of course,” you need to realize that might not be the same conclusion your spouse reaches.

9. Nothing. Even if that is what they ask for. Gift-giving is about putting yourself out there to do something kind for the one you love. “Nothing” does not serve that goal. Nor does it honor your mate. “Something” does not have to be expensive, extravagant, or even wrap-able. It just has to be a little more thoughtful than “nothing.”

10. Anything that comes with payments. Yes, this is worse than nothing. It is the exact opposite of “the gift that keeps on giving.” It is the gift that keeps depleting. No gift should come with a bill.

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21 Fun Fall Date-Your-Mate Ideas

21 Fun Fall Date-Your_Mate Ideas

It’s arrived! That wonderful crisp fall weather that makes you want to break out the cozy sweaters and head out with your mate to do something fun. There are some activities that are uniquely autumn entertainment and others that are enhanced when done in the fall. So grab your mate and celebrate the season with some of these great fall date ideas!

  1. Celebrate with Cider. Nothing says “you’re the apple of my eye” like a cider toast! Start off with a pick-your-own apples orchard experience and end up at the Cider Mill for well-earned refreshment. In addition to cider, mills often offer doughnuts, pastries, and other apple products that will allow you to extend the date to morning breakfast. If you don’t already have a favorite cider mill, check out this wonderful United States Cider Guide to find one near you!
  2. Get a-MAZED. Whether carved out of a cornfield or created with bales of hay, finding your way through a maze with the one you love can, indeed, be amazing! Check the entertainment section of your newspaper or call local nurseries for information about maze locations. For corn mazes, search this helpful Corn Mazes of America Guide.Fall Date Ideas
  3. Flea Market Finds. If you enjoy wandering around flea markets, there’s no better time to do so than fall. Many vendors are offering bargains on their bargains because they don’t want to have to store inventory over the cold months. It’s a great time to pick up those fixable chairs or paintable tins to work on together during the upcoming stay-indoors weather!
  4. Wine tasting. It’s not just a California activity! There are wineries in every state – over 8000 of them. This Wineries By State Guide will help you find those closest to you.
  5. Go Fly a Kite. Really! Nothing like a fall breeze to make your spirits – and your kites – soar! You can make your own or purchase an inexpensive kite kit at a big box store.
  6. Leaf jumping. Yes, some assembly required. You need a rake, a shedding tree, and a willingness to recreate a wonderful childhood memory. Instructions: rake leaves in pile, take a running jump together directly into the pile, laugh yourselves silly. Repeat.Fall Date Ideas
  7. Chili Cook-off. What goes perfect with chili? A little healthy competition. You and your mate each pick your favorite chili recipe (IF you use one!), shop for the ingredients together, then return home to craft your dish. Invite some honest friends to do the judging for you and the eating with you. Loser does the dishes!
  8. Pumpkin delight. Decorating pumpkins doesn’t have to be slimy – they can be painted, bedazzled, dipped, and decked out. Popsugar.com demonstrates 35 ways to decorate without carving.  For those of you who are traditionalists, jack-o-lantern ideas abound on the internet – google it or check out Pinterest.Fall Date Ideas
  9. Fall Foliage Tour. Whether it is an extended drive through a colorful neighborhood, or a daytrip to a scenic part of your state, pack a thermos of something warm and delicious, plug in your favorite music and enjoy the ride!
  10. Ziplining. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, skip the kite-flying and fly yourself! Sharing a zipline experience – soaring over the earth together and hearing the squeals that one makes during such an event – is a truly bonding event! Search online for locations.
  11. Fair fun. The fall is rich with state fairs, county fairs, and fall festivals. Wandering around a fair often feels like a visit back to simpler times with the latest fried food concoction thrown in (deep-fried Snickers anybody?) And there’s no better place for people-watching!
  12. Hayride. Chances are if you have located a maze in the vicinity, you’ll find a hayride opportunity close by! The moonlight rides offer wonderful opportunities to snuggle up close with your mate, a flannel throw and a steaming mug of cocoa for two!
  13. Oktoberfest. Enjoy the music, dancing, German fare and beer of a good old-fashioned Oktoberfest. If you don’t know where one is, call the closest German restaurant – they’ll know!
  14. Brewery tour – If you like the idea of Octoberfest, but without the music, dancing, and German fare, this might be for you. Wikepedia offers a list of breweries in each state.
  15. Drive-in Movie. Go retro! If you don’t have an old car without a console, maybe you can borrow a beater from a friend or relative – snuggling up in the privacy of your car with the cool autumn air blowing through is one of the perks!
  16. Miniature Golf. No expertise required! If you’re wondering if there are any miniature golf courses left, it’s been too long since you’ve taken a swing – I bet there is one closer than you think!Fall Date Ideas
  17. Outdoor combo. Pack up a picnic lunch (maybe some of the leftover chili from the cookoff?) and hike or bike your way over a scenic path – preferably a leaf-strewn path so you can hear seasonal crunch!
  18. Farmer’s Market. A great way to stretch your legs while checking out the freshest of the season’s veggies. The colorful bounty is sure to inspire dinner plans!
  19. Feed the Birds. Make some hanging suet bird feeders to decorate your yard and keep your feathered-friends well-nourished as their food sources decline. You’ll find many how-to instructions online – here’s one from Inhabitat.com.
  20. Stone rubbing. Where art and graveyards collide. There are some beautiful cemeteries out there – full of history and amazing artistry. Celebrate the season and get your shiver on by heading over to one with paper and pencils and make some art of your own. For an explanation of what it is and how it came about, click HERE. For a pretty comprehensive how-to, this illustrated WIKI article is helpful.Fall Date Ideas
  21. Celebrate World Kindness Day. The actual holiday falls on November 13, but feel free to beat the kindness rush by spending an afternoon enjoying some random acts together. Help someone else enjoy fall by leaving a potted mum plant on a porch, raking their leaves, making them a pine cone door wreath, or delivering a cup of steaming pumpkin spice latte.

You didn’t really think you were going to get all the way through  an article about fall without seeing the words “pumpkin spice” did you??

 

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The Ultimate Valentine for You and Your Spouse

The Ultimate Valentine for You and Your SpouseAre you looking for the perfect way to express your love to you favorite Valentine? Something that says I am SO grateful I have you in my life? Something that has more impact than chocolates and more staying power than flowers? Maybe the best gift you and your spouse can give each other is Project Valentine.

You and your mate know that you are loved – that each of you think the other is special. How about joining together to create that same wonderful feeling for someone else? There are so many people who don’t have a Valentine – and you both are in the perfect place to say: “Will you be mine?”

Use the funds you would have spent on each other for over-priced flowers (you know costs double for V-day, right?) and unnecessary chocolate (no excuses to sabotage those New Years Resolutions!) to buy Valentines or sweet treats for somebody who could use some love.

Here are some Project Valentine ideas:

  • Pass out valentines at a local nursing or retirement home. If you have a friendly dog and the staff okays it, bring the pet with you to give those residents some double lovin’!
  • Drop off a batch of heart-shaped cookies or Valentine cupcakes to your police or fire department with a note letting them know that you are delivering them with love and in appreciation for the (sometimes thankless) services they provide to the community. Employees at City Hall and your local post office will probably also appreciate (and feel appreciated by) such a shout-out!
  • Deliver a flowering windowsill plant to the widow/widower in your neighborhood or apartment building with a Valentine that tells them what a special neighbor/person they are.
  • Check the website for a local animal shelter or rescue for a “what we need” list. Bring over the supplies you want to donate along with some valentines and mini boxes of chocolates for the volunteers who staff it – showing them a little love in appreciation for the love they show their animals.

Project Valentine is the perfect gift for you and your spouse to give each other. What better way to express your love than by helping others feel it first hand?

[Note: Project Valentine could be one of those experiences that ends up being one of those “jar moments” referred to in the last post!]
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How to Give Your Spouse the BEST Gift Ever!

How to Give Your Spouse the BEST Gift EVER!Are you trying to come up with a gift idea for your husband or wife that is truly special? Something that says: you are so incredible that you deserve this one-of-a-kind gift, something that’s been created just for you! As a spouse, you are in the unique position of being the one who can take one of your spouse’s precious memories and make it come to life!

There are two major steps to accomplishing this feat. First, pick the memory. Second,  choose a creative way to package it so it can be displayed.

STEP 1 – Select a memory to present as a gift to your spouse

To generate some ideas about what memory may be gift-worthy, ask yourself these questions:

  • What crazy item does my spouse refuse to get rid of – no matter how vigorously I roll my eyes during explanations about the merits of keeping it?
  • What treasure does my spouse have stuffed in a drawer or packed in a forgotten attic box?
  • What childhood/high school/college/ event does my spouse speak about fondly?
  • What family member, friend, or pet does my spouse miss?
  • What place did my spouse enjoy going to?

If you’re memory-gift consists of a single precious item, you’re ready for Step 2. If, however, your memory is an event, place, or loved one, you have a little gathering to do. If your spouse has some mementos collected, you’re off and running. Let me give you an example. My husband had been on his high school’s President’s Physical Fitness Team and on their second trip to compete in the finals in Washington, D.C., they took first place in the nation. Having trained rigorously with his teammates for three years, he had formed some special friendships and memories – including a parade given in his hometown in honor of the team. A corresponding scrapbook had been stowed away with his medals for years. I mean, where do you put such things 20 years after the fact? Yet they were too special to just discard, and running across them every once in a while made him smile. Always up for finding ways to keep that smile going, I pilfered the scrapbook* for some of the yellowed newspaper articles, found some team photos, added the medals to the mix and arranged them all in a shadowbox I had purchased at a hobby store. It did, indeed, put a huge smile on his face when he opened his gift, and it looks quite nice hanging in his computer room. Not to mention the satisfaction I received from presenting him with something that he was finally unable to guess prior to opening!

Photos will work for all the categories that aren’t a particular item. You might want to check with your spouse’s friends or family members who might have pictures of the event that they can contribute or copy for your project. Memorabilia and souvenirs are great additions to recreate the memory of events and places. But don’t despair if such items were not thoughtfully retained by your spouse for your use here. There are many ways to put together a meaningful collection or supplement any existing picture and memorabilia. Here’s some suggestions:

For an event: Check out the internet for pictures of where it took place, quotes that can be printed out that compliment the experience (childhood, friendship, adventure, etc.), and pictures of tickets, programs, articles, or write-ups regarding the event. You might find trinkets that correlate at a craft or hobby store – things like a miniature representation of the school mascot or a miniature rocking chair. Most craft stores have a whole section dedicated to miniatures-almost-anything-you-can-think-of!

For a place: In addition to the event suggestions, look for things like postcards, travel brochures, maps, drink or food recipe cards, and pictures or small objects that represent the culture.

For a missed loved one: A picture of a meaningful place or shared interest, lyrics to a song, a poem or quote about the type of relationship, an object that belonged to the person or pet, a miniature object which represents an activity they did together (tennis rackets, movie popcorn container, playing cards, paintbrush) or an interest they shared (ballet shoes, gardening gloves, workshop tools, etc.).

Step 2 – Pick the packaging

You want to package your memory-gift in a way that it can be easily displayed on a wall, shelf, or furniture surface.

Framing works best for flat items such as:

  •  Pictures
  • Documents
  • T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other small/moderate-sized clothing items
  • Record albums (remember those?)
  • Magazine covers, newspaper articles, comic books, brochures

Shadowboxes work best for items that are small or combinations of flat and non-flat collections such as:

  • Travel memorabilia
  • Religious items (prayer books, rosaries, beads, medals, etc.)
  • Thicker clothing
  • Flags
  • Pet items
  • Souvenirs
  • Gifted objects
  • Miniature objects representing interests

Cubes, plastic boxes, glass or plastic display containers come in a variety of sizes and shapes and work for larger items such as:

  • Sports balls and memorabilia
  • Lucky shoes/Boots that will never be worn again
  • Dolls
  • Hats
  • Childhood toy

If you want to put things together yourself, you can find the memory-holders in hobby stores, big box stores, and sometimes furniture stores. There are also plenty of professionals at framing shops and the framing departments in hobby/craft stores that can help.

You are in the unique position of being the only one who has access to both your spouse’s memories AND the drawers and dusty basement boxes they keep the reminders in. The combination is a heady best-gift-ever-waiting-to-happen. And only YOU can be the one that makes sure it does! Giving your spouse the gift of a fond memory made tangible will have him or her smiling long after the holiday is over!

*Pilfering scrapbooks is NOT recommended if they were put together with loving care by your spouse!
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5 End-of-Summer Projects for Couples

5 End-of-Summer Projects for Couples

Did you and your mate have more good intentions to be productive this summer than summer days? There’s still enough summer left for the two of you to enjoy a joint project that is fun, fills that productivity quota you set for yourselves, and has benefits that will extend into the seasons ahead.  Here are 5 that can fill the bill!

1. Create a Little Lending Library. These mini treasures are popping up everywhere! The small structures are often found at the end of a driveway with a sign that says “Free Books: Take one now, leave one later!” Library kits can be purchased, or you can use what you have on hand to build your own. Or re-purpose cabinets and shelves. The designs can be as basic or complex as you like – the creative options are endless. Google “little lending library images” for oodles of inspiration. Creating a book exchanges is a fun way to promote literacy, share books you’ve read, find books to read, and get some conversations started!

5 End-of-Summer Projects for Couples2. Organize a Progressive Dinner.  Invite as many other couples/friends as you want dinner courses. Each takes one course and the invitees move from house to house enjoying a course at each. Appetizer, soup, salad, entree, cheese, desert, after dinner drink – add or subtract to fit your group. This is a fun way to have a get-together before everybody gets into their fall routines while sharing the workload. This works especially well in neighborhoods and apartment complexes where the group can just walk from one residence to the next. You can add a rebel twist – totally defying the old notion that there will be no dessert until you eat your dinner – by having a reverse progressive dinner. As in starting with dessert and working backward to the appetizer. Bon apetite!

3. Paint Chairs. Whether some tired kitchen chairs you already own, $5 garage sale finds, or folding chairs that could use some perking up, slapping a little paint around will leave you smiling. You can make your chairs match, contrast, or speak for themselves. Check out Pinterest or Google “painted chair patterns” to generate ideas and find “how-tos.” Then, let the creativity begin!

5 End-of-Summer Projects for Couples4. Get Your Garden On. Your spring garden, that is. Now’s the time to gather and plant the bulbs for flowers you want to enjoy in the spring. You can dot crocus throughout your yard for an early-in-the-year pop of color, fill a bed with vibrant tulips-to-be, or orchestrate weeks of color by planting bulbs that bloom at different times. Don’t have garden space? If you have room for a large planter, you can still get in on the fun now to enjoy the fragrance of spring later. For simple ideas and planning tips, check out this This Old House link.

5. Create a Classic Board Game. Jumbo-style. Here’s a version of Scrabble you may not have seen before! It makes a great project to work together on, and results in entertainment you can enjoy for many seasons to come! Click the picture for the how-tos.

5 End-of-Summer Projects for Couples Don’t let all those “Back to School” ads mess you up. Summer is not officially over until September 23! So grab your mate, pick a project, and go outside and play!

 

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7 Ways to Celebrate Your Anniversary When You Have More LOVE Than MONEY

7 Ways to Celebrate Your Anniversary When You Have More LOVE than MONEYAnniversary celebrations can be romantic, fun, meaningful – or all three – without your bank account taking a hit! Whether you are experiencing lean times, saving funds for a common goal, or just enjoy the challenge of finding frugal festivities, there are plenty of options for your celebration. So if you have more love than money to commemorate this year’s anniversary, here’s some ideas to help put the “Happy” in the “Happy Anniversary!”

1. Put together a time capsule. Spend some time getting creative about a collection of things that represent your years together. The silly knit cap you were gifted, a treasured pet toy, the Cracker Jack prize you’ve kept all this time, that concert T-shirt – nothing’s off limits! You can go traditional and bury your treasures in a waterproof container to be dug up in the agreed upon number of years. Or wrap up your package and add a gift tag designating when it’s to be opened – put it in the attic or other location where it won’t be underfoot, but it also won’t be forgotten. This could turn into an annual tradition – every year you could dig up/unwrap your capsule and add a new treasure or two to represent your ongoing marital journey. BONUS: You have already created a future low-cost anniversary celebration.

2. Have a celebratory breakfast. A Belgian Waffle splurge will still come in substantially under what a dinner out would cost. BONUS: It’s a great way to start out your special day!

3. Go retro. Activities from your youth such as bowling, indoor ice skating, roller skating, or visiting a video arcade are easy on the wallet and great for generating memories. BONUS: Any sore muscles developed as a result of your blast-from-the-past activity could lead to an anniversary-extending massage!

4. Try out that upscale restaurant. But skip the dinner! Get yourselves dressed up and enjoy a leisurely-paced appetizer or two followed up with a grand-finale dessert! BONUS: You get to test-drive the wares and make an informed decision as to whether or not you’d even want to invest in a main course for a future splurge.

5. Head to the zoo. Now when was the last time you did that? There’s probably new features and animals that you’ve never even heard of. BONUS: the goofy selfies with the giraffe towering behind or the expressive photo-bombing monkey included are great Facebook fodder as well as souvenirs.

6. Rent THAT movie. You know – the one you saw at the theater when you were dating? This time you’ll be able to hold hands without worrying about if your palms are getting sweaty! BONUS: If sparks start to fly, you don’t have to mess with that romance-delaying drive home!

7. Write a love letter to your spouse. Whether it is your gift to your mate, or you each write one to trade, writing a  a love letter to your spouse  is a true treasure. BONUS: It is a portable, irreplaceable gift that has the power to keep on giving!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

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Spousal Playdates

Spousal Playdates

Playdates aren’t just for toddlers and puppies! While “date night” is a good thing, what could be more fun than just grabbing your mate to go outside and play? Participating in organized sports and furthering fitness goals are worthy pursuits. But for the playdate? Let your inner child have free reign with some blast-from-the-childhood-past fun. Here’s 5 ideas to get you started!

1. Hula Hooping. Just try not to giggle while watching the other wiggle and squiggle to keep that hoop from hitting the ground! Don’t forget arm spins, leg spins, and neck spins for a little variety! Click How to Hula Hoop to get all the basics down, or tour some YouTube videos for a few moves to wow your mate with!

2. Backyard Games. While yesteryear games of tag, Statues, or Red Rover, Red Rover may be a little too youthful to revisit, a nostalgic game of croquet or badminton might fill the bill. Both are portable, easily found, and available in a broad range of prices. Nothing like whacking a birdie or cracking a croquet ball to release a little pent up energy! Or check out some newer games to get your challenge on HERE.

3. Laying in the grass. Start out on your stomachs with a roll-out mat of games to play. End up rolling onto your backs to enjoy evolving cloud-pictures floating overhead.

4. Picnic Play. Whether it’s fancy-shmancy fare tucked into a wicker basket or PBJ’s in a brown bag, take your food and a travel game or two to the park. Or the patio. You won’t have any problem finding most of your favorite board games in a compact, nicely contained travel version. Scrabble, Backgammon, Cribbage, Battleship – something for everyone!

5. Visit a playground. Sure, that’s taking the whole playdate thing a bit literally – but so what? Remember swinging on swings with your buddy for hours, sharing stories, confiding dreams? Then racing each other to the merry-go-round where you took turns spinning and hopping on while the other rode? The afternoon can be a step-back-in-time that will leave you both with a smile on your face. Assuming, of course, that you don’t do that teeter-totter thing where you jump off while the other is in the air!

NOW GO FORTH AND PLAY!

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10 Promises to Add to the Wedding Vows!

10 Promises to Add to the Wedding Vows

The traditional wedding vows are nice – to honor, love, and respect, ’til death do us part. But we could be just a little more specific about what it takes to get there. Here’s some suggestions: 10 promises we could add to the wedding vows – you know, just to make sure we’re on the same page!

1. I promise not to expect you to read my mind.

2. I promise not to complain about toilet seat status, which way the toilet paper rolls, or how you load the dishwasher – even if you’re doing it wrong.

3. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” even if I clearly did.

4. I promise not to jump in with the punchline on a joke or story you’re telling no matter how long it’s taking you to tell it.

5. I promise not to keep score on petty things like who is right or who does more housework – even if I’m winning.

6. I promise to give you at least 1/3 of the closet space even if I could use it more productively.

7. I promise I will never leave you just one square of toilet paper left on the roll, a mere sliver of soap left in the shower, or less than a gallon of gas left in the car.

8. I promise I will not call you your special nickname in public – at least not loud enough for others to hear.

9. I promise I will love you through weight changes, hair loss, non-head hair growth, and wrinkle development.

10. I promise I’ll review this list of promises every year on our anniversary and say a sincere “I’m sorry” if I’ve broken any of them.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER PROMISES IT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO ADD TO THE WEDDING VOWS?

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The Garden of Marriage

The Garden of Marriage

The seasons of marriage are like having a garden with someone you love. There are distinct stages to get to, get to do, get through, and enjoy, too. Each one serves a purpose and contributes to the strengthening, longevity, and hearty success of the end result. Here are the stages of The Garden of Marriage:

Excitement at the prospect

Planning what will go into it

Getting the seeds and the plants that we intend to nurture along

Side-by-side, doing the work of tilling the soil and planting the seeds to ensure a good foundation

Patiently waiting to see new growth

Reawakening of excitement as the shoots come up – we’re starting to glimpse the end result!

Realization of the need to water and fertilize frequently to keep things growing strong

Grudging acceptance of having to weed, hoe and put in some time so the good stuff doesn’t get choked out by the destructive weeds

Frustration in having to prune and cut off potential growth so that the energy of the main plant isn’t sapped by growth going in too many different directions

Glee as the produce ripens to the point that we have enough to add to our meals

Pure enjoyment as the harvest is plentiful enough to become the meal itself

Spontaneous sharing of the abundance with friends and family

Over-whelmed with excessive bounty that seems to keep coming

Dissatisfaction of having to do things when they need to be done to avoid wasting what we worked hard to produce

Effort expended together to can, freeze, preserve what we have obtained

Satisfaction of seeing the pantry and freezer stocked with the wealth of our labor

Enjoying the ability to supplement meals with what we have at the ready

Satisfying, fresh-tasting produce to get us through the cold seasons when the garden is barren

The ability to pluck right off the shelf to share with loved ones for their enjoyment or time of need

Appreciation for the wisdom, the unity, the bounty, and the love that result from combined efforts.

Ahhhh. It’s not always easy, but it’s all so worth it! Enjoy what you have produced!

7 Mistakes Young Newlyweds Make

7 Mistakes Newlyweds Make

As a young newlywed, you head into marriage full of passion, commitment and a rosy glow. As well you should! To keep the glow rosy, avoid these seven common mistakes that young newlywed couples often make!

1. Trying to have the standard of living you enjoyed at your parent’s. Many young couples forget to factor in the 20-30 years it took their parents to evolve into their current standard of living. You have to pay your dues – which sometimes means living lean until you can save up to afford the necessities, then the extras, that you want. Just because you qualify for a credit card, doesn’t mean you should use it. Financing electronics, furniture, and vacations is shortsighted. Sure, you enjoy them immediately, but the stress of mounting bills and paying for things that no longer exist can take a major toll on a marriage. You also rob yourselves of the memories that come with setting goals and working together to achieve them.

2. Running home to mama – or the equivalent. It’s like “mind your own business” in reverse. When you’re having a spat, it’s tempting to run to someone who will support your viewpoint. Which means painting the picture for them of how horrible and unfair your new spouse (the one who was wonderful yesterday) really is. They might even be offended on your behalf at how unreasonable your mate has been. And then you go home and make up and remember that your spouse is indeed the wonderful person you thought they were. But family member/friend still has the ugly picture of them in their head – the one you put there.

3. Assuming there is a “right way.” Which, of course, is synonymous with “my way.” What tier of the dishwasher should be loaded first, which direction the toilet paper unrolls, and what brand of tomato soup should be purchased are preferences. Bottom tier, over the top, and Campbell’s may be strong preferences, but it still doesn’t make them “right.” It’s amazing how such little differences can spark major spats. If you have told your mate 100 times to put the paper on the roll the “right” way – I wouldn’t bother with 101. They’ve already heard you. They don’t care. Move on. Or live in frustration and earn the label of “nag.”

4. Assuming you know your mate inside-out. You know nothing. At least that’s how it will feel when you look back from twenty years down the road. Keep learning about the other by asking their opinion on issues, trying new things together and checking out new places. Make getting to know each other a life-long lesson.

5. Investing too much time in the soulmate syndrome. While it is lovely to be kindred spirits, you both need to continue to grow and develop your individual interests. As you develop new skills and enjoy different experiences as an individual, it enriches you personally and allows you to bring something new to the marriage.

6. Not cultivating a basic interest in the other’s passion. Often, during the passion of courtship, individual passions get put on a back burner while the relationship hits front and center. The painter may have put up the easel for a while, the tennis player may have limited play dates to be more available for love dates. As the marriage settles in, the passions once again emerge as priorities. Don’t take it personally – you are not loved less because time is spent on interests that existed in your mate’s life before your romance. You don’t have to pretend you love it as much as your mate does, but educate yourself (or allow yourself to be educated) to the point where your mate can share highlights of progress made. And you can respond with sincere interest and encouragement.

7. Maintaining the single social scene. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining friendships with your single friends after marriage. You just have to do it from a married person’s perspective. If part of your social interaction was going to places with the intent to flirt, dance, and meet new members of the opposite sex, you have to forgo that part of the social activities. You know there’s not an “innocent” way to do any of those things, right? Cultivating couple friends for you and your spouse to socialize with is just as important as hanging out with your single friends in a way that honors your marriage.

Most of the mistakes can be avoided by simply putting yourself in your mate”s shoes before engaging in any of the behaviors discussed here.

  • Would it be OK with you if your spouse shared details of the spat you had with his/her family or friends?
  • Would it be OK with you if your spouse insisted you do something the way they wanted it done  – and wanted you to publicly acknowledge that is, indeed, the “right” way?
  • Do you believe there is nothing more your spouse could learn about you?
  • Would you think it reasonable if your spouse wanted to do all activities with you and for you to do only the activities you both shared an interest in?
  • How would you feel if you were trying to share your excitement with your mate about something special that happened  regarding that interest for which you are passionate, and their words or body language made it clear they had no clue what you were talking about?
  • Would you be comfortable with your spouse hanging out with single friends in an environment that would include flirting, dancing or meeting new members of the opposite gender just for the fun of it?

I bet you didn’t have trouble answering any of those questions. Sometimes avoiding mistakes really is that simple!

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