Tuesday, January 31, 2012

God, Thank You

We don't pray before every meal, but we do pray before dinner.  I go down the line, to each child, asking what they would each like to pray for - the boys generally include the cows and bulls sometimes throwing in the grandparents or tractors, and the little lady always starts with herself and then moves to her siblings and Bray and me.  Then, after assembling the requests, we say a prayer and eat dinner.  The prayer starts with "Dear God or Dear Jesus", and then we thank God for the day and the food, and then move into the individual requests and conclude with an "Amen."  Just last week, my dear nanny texted me after she was moved to tears when the baby told her at lunch, "pray Mari, pray," and proceeded to say, "God, safe cow, safe drive tractor daddy, safe mommy work, thank you."  Putting God first, making his requests in earnest, and then offering thanks.  Well no wonder it moved her to tears, it did me too. 

Watching your kids grow up enough to offer thanks to God makes you feel pretty grateful in your own right.  I felt similarly overwhelmed with gratitude over this past weekend with my family and friends.  It wasn't anything most folks would think about.  But it was the kind of a weekend that I dreamed about families having after my parents had split up and I'd see parents running around the city with their kids.  Friday night I spent with some of my sweetest friends at KSBJ's Girls' Night Out and sharing a glass of wine afterwards.  Saturday was all family all day - we started the morning at the zoo where we zipped through all the animals and took the kids on their first carousel AND first train ride.  I wish I could have captured the little lady's face as she rode on that zoo carousel and her animal went up and down and round and round.  It was this combined look of joy and nervousness and pride at what a big girl she was.  It was a glimpse into her face 10 years from now as she proudly enjoys new achievements.  We split in the afternoon so Bray could take her to the Tractor Supply Store, and I could take the boys for haircuts and shoes.  Then after the kids bedtime, Bray and I got to have dinner at the home of a new couple friend of ours.  Sunday was similarly perfect with only a minor snafu.  Sunday morning church was slightly sidetracked because we couldn't leave the kids in Sunday School due to overcrowding, so needless to say we didn't get much church in with three two year olds.  But from there we went to feed the ducks, an ingenious idea of Bray's, we all took Sunday afternoon naps, and we had a late afternoon fish fry with family friends at the house. 

Doesn't it sound simple?  But I have to tell you, it was perfect.  It was crazy because it was a family of five with young kids, but it was still perfect.  And I'm learning so much from my kiddos.  I went to bed incredibly grateful.  I didn't have a lot of requests in between, but I know that at night's end I started with "God" and ended with "Thank You!"

Daddy with the boys on their first carousel ride

Mommy with her proud little bit on the carousel

Our first zoo train ride!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Song for Today

My church praise team sings this song some Sunday mornings, and every time I hear the words it recenters me and reminds me of what, and who, I should be focused on - I share it as my post for the day:

If You say go, we will go
If You say wait, we will wait
If You say step out on the water
And they say it can't be done
We'll fix our eyes on You and we will come

Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid
Are good and true
If You call us to the fire
You will not withdraw Your hand
We'll gaze into the flames and look for You

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Who Is He To You?

I had the great joy of being at a Beth Moore bible study this week.  It was her kick off lesson and the study is based in Deuteronomy.  This did not remotely appeal to me, but I've been flailing lately in my walk with God and I always hear something I need to at her studies. 

Before she even spoke though they had a time of worship.  Music, as you well know from my many posts, ministers to my spirit and soul in a way that absolutely nothing else does.  After the worship leader sang a song about Jesus, she asked us to speak the name of Jesus with whatever words or description we could use to reflect what He was to us that week.  I have to tell you, I am not a public crier, but as I began to speak the words that He had been to me this week I lost it - Provider, Father, Security, Rest, Faithful, Forgiveness.....

So it made me want to ask, Who has He been to you this week?  Take a moment to speak aloud the things He has been to you and done for you in this month, this week, this day, this hour.  He wants to hear.

Emmanuel - God With Us
Yahweh - I Am That I Am
Jehovah Jireh - The Lord Who Provides
Jehovah Rapha - The Lord Who Heals
Jehovah Nissi - The Lord Our Banner
Jehovah Chatsahi - The Lord My Strength
Jehovah Machsi - The Lord Our Refuge
El Shaddai - God Almighty

Messiah, Almighty, Comforter, Teacher, Cornerstone,
Beginning and the End, Father, Shepherd, Healer,
Prince of Peace, Redeemer, Rock, Hiding Place,
Faithful and True, Mediator, Hope, Savior

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Second Half of Jonah.......

Anyone who grew up in or near a church knows the first half of Jonah's story.  God says to go to Nineveh, Jonah says no thanks and hops on a ship, the ship hits a storm and Jonah gets swallowed by a whale where, after three days of prayer, he gets spit up on shore and says, well I guess I'll go to Nineveh now.  I'm not making light of the story.  There's a lot of value in the story.  Lessons about obeying God, forgiveness, and second chances.  But the second half of the story is pretty stunning and it's often forgotten.  It was that half that hit me upside the head yesterday morning.

So the Cliff's Notes version is, after traveling to Nineveh, Jonah told the Ninevites (?) that their city and all in it were about to be destroyed because they'd invoked the wrath of God and, it turns out, the folks responded.  Everyone felt terrible and immediately repented, including the king, and they begged for forgiveness and compassion from the Lord.  At the end of Chapter 3 we see that, "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened."  Wouldn't you think that immediately Jonah would do a happy dance?  I mean he'd saved an entire city and brought them back to the Lord. 

You would be wrong.  Instead, Jonah 4 tells us that, "to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”"

Jonah gives God a LECTURE!  Is your mouth gaping open?  Mine was when I reread this.  Jonah basically tells God I Told You So!  He's saying, um God, seeeee, this is why I ran.  I KNEW you'd be merciful and you'd save these terrible sinners, so just strike me down now because I DO NOT want to be a part of all this

Have you ever done either one of those things?  One, get mad at God because you were the good girl and here He goes showing mercy to someone who so clearly doesn't deserve His goodness like, say, you.  Or two, and even worse, lecturing God.  God, this is what I was TRYING to explain to you.  But you kept at it.  You kept pushing.  So I did it.  And now exactly what I thought might happen happened and you should have just listened to me all along. 

I know it sounds very shocking, and almost sacrilegious, when I translate so sarcastically, but that is exactly what we're doing.  Or at least it's what I've done.  I have failed to show mercy.  I have failed to appreciate the showing of mercy.  Even though I'm one of the world's biggest beneficiaries of God's abundant mercy, I have found myself feeling a little stingy about it when He doles it out to some.  More than even that though I have found myself thinking, "See God."  "See.  This is what I was SAYING to you when you weren't listening!" 

He knows what He is doing.  He knows what is best.  And when we start lecturing the God of the Universe on our perspective on things, well, we shouldn't head out in a lightening storm.  Know that He always hears us.  But He's doing what He's doing because He's in the business of saving people.  He'd like you to help Him.  He'd like you to allow Him to use you as a vessel for His grace and love and compassion.  He doesn't NEED you.  But He'll use you if you'll allow Him. 

So the next time we find ourselves feeling stingy about the bountiful granting of mercy, shouldn't we remember where we would be without that same mercy blessing on our lives?  And the next time we find ourselves lecturing God, trying to be a know it all (or worse yet being ridiculously melodramatic - did you catch that here?  I mean he'd rather die -c'mon!), let's just stop.  Stop dead cold in our tracks and remember that He is who He says He is.  The way, the truth, and the life.  The beginning and the end. 
(Oh, and make sure you go read all of Chapter 4 - God gives Jonah a pretty priceless life lesson at the end in response to his indignation.....)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Evil Sixth Sense and Other Sleep Deprived Ramblings

Kids have an evil sixth sense.  This is not promoted on parental literature because, let's face it, it's not the selling point.  The selling point is the cute mini-you running around all dressed up and laughing and smiling and blowing you kisses.  Saying "wuv you."  Running at you repeating, "big hug" and then throwing their arms around you. 

Those are all fabulous.  But I'm not a fan of the evil sixth sense.  They KNOW the ONE morning you need, and have planned for, extra rest and they blow it for you!  Let's take this morning for example.  I had boot camp and 4:30 am wake up calls Monday through Thursday.  My very kind husband volunteered to take this morning til the nanny arrived so I could sleep in a bit.  HOWEVER, the baby sensed this (one of them is bound to when you have triplets).  He awoke at 4:50 a.m. wailing for mommy.  Yet Bray did not let this deter him from helping me get sleep.  So he went and LAID on the nursery room floor by the baby's crib to console him so I could sleep.  A half hour later, still inconsolable, I went in to the nursery and said, let's just bring him in our room to sleep.  Because no way is he going to stay up, he'll never make it, he'll be exhausted.  But stay up he did.  And talk about ducks and cows and daddy and hugs, all very fun and sweet, IF IT WERE LIGHT OUTSIDE!  So Bray got up, showered and got ready, at 6 a.m., and took the little man (soon followed by his siblings, unbelievable) out to play and eat breakfast while allowing me to get an extra hour of sleep until 7:15.  What goodness.  But we're both still pretty pooped. 

In other, non-sleep deprived, news, here's the week's 27 month old recap:  little lady took off her p.j.s and then her diaper in her crib and fell asleep buck naked in her bed until we discovered her in such condition an hour later; the eldest, after pulling the little lady's hair, said "time out" and took my hand and helped me walk him into time-out, additionally he can now climb out of the crib even with the mattress on the floor and while wearing socks (ugh!); the baby has picked up new dance moves and he and his sister love showing them off to their favorite songs (the eldest isn't so much a dancer); they all want to dump their little potties into the "bigh" potty once finished, completely solo, which as you might imagine can lead to any number of harrowing near misses with potty-fallout.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bye Bye Binky

Okay, so we don't actually call them binkies, we call them pacies, but I had to use that title since the song we've been using to give them up has Elmo singing, "bye, bye binky, binky bye bye" (if you're a parent, you know that song and now have it stuck in your head like I do).  Nevertheless, they are gone.  We tried valiantly in November, but a couple of days after the taking the kids got sick and I was solo and I caved and allowed the pacies to return.  However, after the kids first visit to the dentist at the end of December (I don't know that I wrote about it but here's a picture, this pediatric dentist is SO awesome, as is her waiting room, but good Lord it's expensive - and we're not even TO actual dental work):
(picking up from that last sentence) we realized that it was time to give up the beloved pacies.  They don't use them during the day, only at night, and only in their crib, and that's been the rule since they turned one.  That transition was fairly smooth, but this has been trickier.  I think it's been hard because not only do they want their pacies at bedtime, they also want to get out of bed at night using manipulation of false potty alerts since we've been potty training.  So we have a combo crying of "paci, paci" and "poopie, poopie" which is loads of fun (the latter is totally bogus unless it's from the baby). 

We started Sunday night.  We've been telling them that pacies are for babies, and they are big kids now that they can go potty and go to school.  And whenever asked what Elmo says about pacies, they say, "no, no, no, no."  Sometimes even with finger wagering for emphasis.  So on Sunday night, we watched our little Elmo video on You Tube about giving up the binky, sang the song about being a big boy or girl and saying goodbye, and watching about the emotions we might feel after saying goodbye.  Then we took a break to get a pretty gift bag for a baby and went around the nursery gathering pacies and putting them in the bag to give away (I said we were giving the pacies to the next door neighbor's baby, which clearly I didn't do because who wants a bunch of really used pacies, so I'm hoping in the parental allowance guide this is a permissible white lie).  Then we took our bag to show Elmo on the computer, and he did a little "I'm proud of you" party for giving up our pacies.  That whole process was seamless.  The rest has been a little sadder. 

They ask for them every night.  Last night they were hysterical because I would not rock them any longer (I'd already rocked them all), and I wouldn't let them out of bed for a THIRD time to go potty because there couldn't possibly be anything left.  Inconsolable.  I was tempted to pull out the pacies because I knew it would calm them down.  BUT.........I resisted because (a) that would blow my story about giving them to the baby and they'd never believe me, and (b) they're really starting to mess up Lillie's teeth and the dentist said they should go back to whatever they should be when we stop using them.  So keep your fingers crossed that they start self-soothing this weekend because after a week of 4:30 am wake up calls for boot camp and late night potty runs, I'm shot.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting Back On Track

I didn't make New Year's resolutions this year.  There were some things I needed to do physically, spiritually, professionally, etc., but they were things that needed to be done and I didn't want to stigmatize them with the "resolution" label because those inevitably get broken early on (at least by me). 

One of the top three items was working out again.  If you've followed my fitness journey, then you know it's had it's ups and downs.  First, I truly hate working out.  Second, I truly hate mornings but know it's the only possible time I can make a work out fit.  For nearly a year I did a CrossFit boot camp that really challenged me.  I would go two to three times a week, mere moments from my house, and I got in great shape and weighed a pound less than I did on my wedding day last May for my fifth wedding anniversary (and nearly 20 lbs lighter than I was when I got pregnant). 

Well, I took the fall off.  And when I say off, I mean OFF.  I literally did not work out one single solitary day except for chasing toddlers (which is the only reason I don't weigh 200 lbs right now).  To really hit the ball out of the park, I also ate whatever I wanted to - I mean, heck, I WAS chasing toddlers.  And I proceeded to gain 20 pounds in five months.  A record for me.  A shameful record I might add.  All of that hard work out the window, and for what.  Some pizza and queso?  A few extra winks of sleep?

I admit this not because I want to, but because this my accountability tool.  Why do I have to fall so far off the bandwagon after making so much progress?  What's so hard about maintenance? 

The reality is bad actions have consequences.  Not only is the consequence my health, we all know fluctuating that wildly with your weight is unacceptable, but it's what it takes to work my way back.  This week I started a new boot camp (as my last one was cancelled, hence my calling it quits for a while).  This torturous boot camp is not only kicking my butt across Westheimer, but it also is FOUR mornings a week.  Monday through Thursday.  I can barely walk today.  And I can't say I'm salivating over my spinach salad with grilled chicken for lunch.  HOWEVER, the alternative is not working my way back.  Being out of shape for myself, my kids and my husband.  Not respecting the temple that God gave me that I fully know can be fit and slim if I work at it.  It's not easy, but it's not supposed to be.  If it was easy, then I wouldn't appreciate all it took to get me here.  I wouldn't learn discipline and self-control.  I wouldn't need daily reminders that I have to lean on God to give me the strength to wake up at 4:30 a.m. regardless of how I feel. 

This is my accountability.  This is my reminder.  It's time to get back on track.

You are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.  Christopher Robin to Pooh

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Revisiting Broken

Shortly before I got married, a song called Broken Road came out.  I immediately fell in love with it.  If you're not familiar with the song by Rascal Flatts, it says:

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like
Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I remember how true that rang the day I married Bray.  I knew abandonment, betrayal, and brokenness along the way, but had I not had those encounters, those relationships, those losses, I don't know that I would have found Bray.  God used the heartache to show me what was important in a relationship - what was true and worthwhile. 

I wrote recently that December was a tough month for us.  Well, it must have been a tough month for a number of folks because I've started receiving news about separations and divorces.  Some were pretty surprising.  You wouldn't have known it was coming by looking.  And some splits occurred because the spouse leaving the marriage was revisiting the broken road.  Imagining something from the past was better than it ever was. 

Marriage is hard, and the world around us encourages us to revisit broken.  It's easy to forget how broken the road was that led you to your husband or wife.  You start losing sight in your rear view mirror of the broken heart left in the wake of former relationships.  I've seen how those past relationships get retold in people's memories.  They get all dolled up with the nasty stuff taken out.  They become misty water colored memories of the way we were.   

If you're revisiting broken today, stop.  It's broken.  That's why it ended.  And God healed you from that brokenness to bring you to your spouse (or if He hasn't, He can if you'll let Him).  It's so easy to glamorize days gone by.  But they have gone by.  Too many long lingering looks back will destroy your future.  It's never too late to face forward, put the broken road behind you, and recommit yourself to the road ahead with the one you vowed to journey through life with - for better or worse.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Papa Rick and Other Such Nonsense

The past two weekends have been a laugh riot.  New Year's Eve weekend we spent with Bray's family at the farm in Louisiana popping fireworks, sitting by a bonfire, and eating a lot of black-eyed peas.  This weekend, my father and his wife and my brother came in to visit us from Oklahoma City.  We see them about three or four times a year, so the kids change a ton at this age in the months that separate our visits.  That made this weekend with the family, as well as New Year's weekend, by turns funny, enlightening, and bizarre. 

I think one of my favorite things about my undivided time with the kids on the weekend is observing the nutty stuff they come up.  The funniest example from the weekend is the term the eldest came up with for my dad.  I called my father's parents Papa and Gaby, so that's what the kids call my dad and stepmom.  They're just now starting to learn that we all have names besides mommy, daddy, etc. because my nanny has been telling them everyone's real names.  Well, they heard my stepmom saying "Richard," several times when talking to my dad.  My dad has never gone by anything other than Richard - no shortening, no pet names, just Richard.  So I have no idea where my funny kiddo came up with, "PapaRick!"  I wish I had video footage to show you.  He says it very loudly and all together, as if one word, and it elicits, as I'm sure you can imagine, hysterical laughter.  Which perpetuates my dad's new nickname and everywhere we go it's, "PapaRick!"  He's now added, "Homa" when he talks about Papa Rick because my dad and his wife offered to take him back to Oklahoma with them and he was READY to go.  Just this morning, getting ready for school, I hear "PapaRick!  Homa!"  Funny.

They really struggle with my brother's name though - Caleb.  We've tried everything but could only get one to come out with anything that resembled Caleb.  He shortened to to "Pub" and they were able to grab that in an instant - it was also mildly amusing because my brother has been known to enjoy a beer or two. 

Bray was the one to notice that last thing at night or first thing in the morning the kids have taken to practicing the new words they've acquired.  As I've written about recently, the baby is currently obsessed with "apple pie," and says it all the time, particularly when cooking in their new play kitchen.  While at the farm last weekend, and with my dad this weekend, you could hear them all (through the walls or through the monitor), working on their linguistics.  Most notably, the baby is keen on these recitations, and you'll hear, "apple pie, five, gaby-papa, apple pie, coffee, gamma-ganpa, apple pie...."  (If you didn't figure it out, Bray's parents, called Grandma and Grandpa by the other kids, are currently Gamma-Ganpa to my kids - one never without the other.) 

I love watching these new found verbal abilities displayed, but the most surprising thing is how silent (relatively) the little lady is.  It's my boys that have mastered their tongue, despite what common lore would have you believe, which might just mean we have a pastor/lawyer/politician in the making (I can feel Bray shudder).   Here's a few of the highlights from our weekend:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Not a Stitch

I've been talking about marriage a lot lately.  The last few posts have been pretty serious.  All about issues that plague a marriage and ways we might improve.  But this post is a lot lighter and simultaneously more taboo.  I think a lot of marriages would improve if the two parties involved more frequently had not one stitch on.  Married people should be naked around each other more. 

Lest you think I popped one too many Zyrtec this morning, I am not alone in this theory of marital improvement.  God personally endorsed it.  Genesis 2 says, " Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."  God didn't knit them together a wardrobe.  He made them and left them there in the buff, quite happily I might add. 

The thing is, stuff happened, and that condition became less than ideal.  It's the same in a marriage.  Heck, at the beginning, all anyone is interested in is being naked.  But life happens.  Work, finances, kids, etc., and exhaustion sets in.  As do very unappealing pajamas.  As do body changes.  And suddenly, folks aren't that interested in getting, or staying, naked. 

I have to say, I'm really fortunate.  I still think my husband is HOT.  I still think he's the best kisser on the planet, and I am often super excited to curl up next to him at night.  But life happened to us too.  My body is not the pre-kid 32 year old one it was on our honeymoon.  We have conflict.  We are exhausted.  But a dear friend gave me some sage advice recently.  In the midst of struggle in our marriage, my friend said, "Attack him!  Go to bed, do it now, and connect.  You need to connect!" 

Getting naked won't save your marriage.  It takes a lot of work to do that.  But sometimes getting naked, and whatever else ensues, will HELP your marriage.  It does diffuse a tense situation, it does take your mind of a dispute, it does help you to reconnect, and it even helps you be less exhausted and sleep better (medically proven!).  So when in doubt, take your clothes off (just make sure there's no one else around!).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Potty Training Times 3!

Oh lord.  I need some nerves of steel.  There are three two year olds in big boy/big girl underwear in our house this week.  That's about all they're in so as to accomplish quick access to the potties stationed about our house (and reading material located adjacent to said potties). 

It's going fairly well.  We didn't start cold turkey.  They'd had access to potties for months and had been using them frequently over the past few weeks (especially the baby boy despite lore suggesting the eldest or female would be more prone to potties).  But upon return from the farm, Tuesday morning we launched into full blown underwear wearing.  I really have NO room to complain.  Our amazing nanny is doing the Herculean effort here.  However, during the time I'm home, we are ALWAYS on the potties, and the eldest takes forever because he genuinely adores potty time.  He sings, he reads, he chats with us.  Last night, at 2:30 a.m., when I heard him crying out from the crib, "mommy, poopy," he came and sat and went to the bathroom and instructed me, "mommy, sit."  We were supposed to have a chat in the middle of the night in his mind.  I told him I was going to lie back down until he was done, but two minutes into my return to bed I had visions of him escaping out the back and my half naked child wandering the streets, so back I went to the laundry room (main potty station) and curled up into the fetal position until I could convince him he was done, about 3 a.m. 

They pretty much aren't having accidents with Maria, but as soon as I get home somehow they end up with wet underwear.  Despite my incessant asking: "Potty? Potty?"  We're still in diapers at night, so arguably they don't have to get up to go in the middle of the night, but as you can see, they're still getting up.  They all three got up at 9 pm last night to go potty simultaneously. 

Here's the two areas where I'm desperately seeking advice, so please feel free to weigh in:  1) How do we expedite the eldest's process?  He's not going to have an hour to go potty when he returns to school Monday morning.  2) How do we manage nights?  I'm assuming we convert their cribs to toddler beds, but then do I leave a potty in the room with a gate shut or give them access to the house?  Both options equally lead me to shudder. 

I'll post an amusing update, if I survive, along with the best advice I get as to how to manage this mayhem!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Attraction versus Reality

I realize I probably should have posted about New Year's - resolutions or some such thing.  But I don't really have anything out of the ordinary to share.  I mentioned I was going to write a handful of posts about marriage.  Things I've been pondering as of late.  So I just decided to keep going with that, particularly after I received an email this morning from a woman in my bible study with young children who is separating from her husband.  One of the things that struck me, though I feel confident a zillion books have been written about it, is the stark difference between the characteristics that attracted you to a person and the characteristics after the honeymoon period wears off.   How that one winning wooing trait becomes an albatross if you start focusing on the downside rather than the upside. 

Often interviewers will ask applicants in an interview, what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?  In my personal opinion that is a terrible interview question, but I would always respond by saying that my strength is also my weakness.  If you focus on the big picture and achieving the ultimate result, then you may let details slip.  If you're a person that's a great team player, then you may not be able to fire someone on that same team if they don't work out.  The infamous double-edged sword. 

Well that's never truer than in marriage.  Here's a list of how the upside of traits become the downside of traits after years of marriage (these are just the ones I could think of in five minutes) - these have been winning spouses and losing spouses the world over for centuries:
1. Outgoing and social becomes flirtatious or absent.
2.  Quiet and mysterious becomes detached and unfriendly. 
3.  Doting and attentive becomes suffocating or possessive.
4.  Honest and straightforward becomes unkind and unable to compliment.
5.  A generous giver turns into an unwise spender. 
6.  A frugal saver becomes a miser lacking in generosity.
7.  Planning and organizing becomes stressed out and not spontaneous. 
8.  Spontaneous and fun becomes tardy and irresponsible. 
9.  Committed to beliefs and decisive becomes opinionated and lacking open mindedness.
10.  Open minded and willing to be flexible turns into indecisive and weak. 
11.  Dedicated to a job and ambitious turns into an absent workaholic.
12.  Willingness to place family or social circumstances above work turns into a lack of drive or ambition.

Nothing changed.  Yet good becomes bad.  Love turns into disdain.  What is it about the longevity of relationships that makes your Utopian rose-colored view of the object-of-your-affection turn critical?  There's no good reason except that no one is perfect, evidenced even more the longer you are with someone, and that people always seem more perfect from a distance.  That working wife relieves some of the financial stressors on a household, yet that stay-at-home wife next door always has dinner on the table.  The plan of the savvy husband set the family on the right track, but the spontaneous husband across the street just surprised the family with New Year's in Paris. 

Can't you see how each one of those things on the outside can look so wonderful, but on the inside it could wreak havoc if the spouses aren't on the same page?  What do you really both want out of life?  Spontaneity or surety?  Organization or carefree-ness?  Kindness or honesty?  Presence or commitment?  NONE of these are mutually exclusive, but one often takes precedence because of the life goals a family has set for itself.  If the family decides the most important thing is to fully pay for kids' college tuition and retire at 55, then the stay-at-home-mom or trip to Paris may be a serious roadblock.  But no one is talking.  No one remembered to check in a few times a year, or at the beginning of every new year, to make sure that their goals were set as a couple, as a family, rather than as an individual.  No one remembered to say, hey, just so you know, I feel most cared for when you notice something nice I did, or said, I'm so glad we're married, but I just wanted you to know I've felt alone lately and I'd love a little more time together.  Instead, everyone is super-busy.  Busy with work, busy with family, busy with the house, busy with friends, but too busy to check in. 

So if you find yourself with those glass-is-half-empty perspectives on the person you vowed to love for better or worse, do two things this week.  One, remember the flip side of the trait that's driving you nuts.  Remember what's so great about it.  Remember that if he or she was doing the opposite, there would be a downside to that trait too.  Two, sit down and talk.  I know I mentioned this "true up" process in the last post, but this is different.  This is to check in to make sure that your future plans and visions are aligned (and if they're not, to realign them), and to ensure that you realize what the other person needs from you in order to feel loved.  I once heard someone say, what the other person is saying when they are fighting about a small issue is that they don't feel loved - if you can fix that the person feels loved, the petty fights get better too.  

I know a lot of marriages are pretty far down the rocky path.  And it's going to take a lot of work to get back.  And some marriages have just hit a little bump.  But regardless of where you are in your martial journey, refresh your perspective of your spouse at the beginning of this year and remember the unique benefits you have because you are married to a very special person.