Hi friends! Happy Thursday.
Marriage while raising very little people can be HARD. Lack of sleep, lack of time for each other, lack of patience…can all add up. SO often I think to myself: I do not want to come out of this busy season with distance between Drew and I. I want to be the parents that have the embarrasses your kids type of love.
I read the book Love Unending: Rediscovering Your Marriage in the Midst of Motherhood. It is a 21 Day Challenge that helps you to reflect and focus in on where you can improve in your marriage. I’m happy to report that even with the flu and sick babies during my 21 days, I finished and gleaned SO much from it. As with most of the books I read these days, I read it via Audible. This meant that the author read it aloud to me. I have zero doubt this helped me stay consistent because I could read it while walking on the treadmill or cleaning the kitchen. You can use this link to Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks and I explained more about Audible in this post.
While reading Love Undending, I focused on how I could improve in our relationship. I knew that if I lead by example, it would pay off. I didn’t focus on telling Drew where he could improve or giving him the book to read. Reading this DID pay off. It gave me knew mindsets and reminders. I relisten to parts as I need to (hello Speaking Kindly chapter).
In my Facebook group, I posted a reflection everyday of the challenge. I was able to read along with a bunch of women who did the same and it was an incredible support and uplift.
I would encourage anyone wanting to improve their relationship to read it. While it does focus on marriage during parenting, I wish I would’ve read it before Max in preparation.
I put this blog post together in case you wanted to have someone to virtually read it with. I knew that it could also just serve as incredible reminders for myself and others as they read the reflections and examples that I provided.
Drew and I are not perfect as you’ll read. But we are deeply in love and willing to work at it to stay happy.
Day 1, Greet Lovingly.
Y’all, this chapter speaks straight to my heart. After a busy and challenging day with the babies, it is easy to start thinking of my husband as “relief” and “help”. Instead of the man that I promised to love so deeply. Because our firstborn Maxwell was a pretty fussy baby, I wanted to hand him off to Drew as soon as he walked in the door and leave for the gym. I truly felt like Drew was getting a “break” by going to work.
This time around, I’ve learned to think of Drew’s work as work. It is demanding and challenging in a different way than our children are demanding and challenging, and certainly not a break. This helps our relationship SO much. Now, I give him time to settle in BEFORE thrusting a child at him. He has been a lot better at greeting all of us lovingly instead of doing tasks right away (I requested this change a while ago!). We’re a work in progress and I’m excited that this chapter reminded me to stop what I’m doing and show him that I’m excited that he is home!
I tried the challenge and Drew thought I was trying to knock him over. HAHAHA. I guess I’ll tone down the hug a little bit.
Day 2, Speak Kindly.
“I think sometimes we speak to our husbands in a way we wouldn’t dare speak to another living soul.”
Another game changing thought. It is much easier to be kind to strangers or coworkers, but how are we doing with the people inside our own house? With the man that means the most to us?
Drew and I often talk about how important TONE is and this chapter is the perfect reminder. Why would our significant others want to help us or be loving towards us if we are snapping at them or criticizing how they are doing something?
Does anyone else think these first two chapters are the PERFECT reminder for them?!
I often think about the example we want to set for our children (Max is already SO preceptive and repeating most things). I think the way we talk to each other is SUCH a huge part of this.
I’m kind of the queen of passive aggressive statements (I do think they are pretty witty though…haha). This is a challenge that is going to be hard. Maybe not on day 1 of it, but when the going gets tough and the stress mounts…my plan is to take a deep breath and speak kindly.
Day 3, Touch Him Purposefully.
Drew LOVES touch. I tell him he reminds me of a puppy when I stratch his head in the car or rub his neck. He just starts to go limp and lean it. I cannot even tell you how much we cuddled in the beginning of the relationship. One of the first times we were on the couch together Drew told me I was a really good cuddler. We both love it.
After our two babies it really is about finding the time. Last Sunday when both our little guys were particularly needy we started talking about how nice it would be to just cuddle on the couch together. Although we might have less time, I KNOW we could take advantage of the time we do have better. In bed, we need to put our phones down and use that time.
Although we haven’t had sex yet post baby #2, I know that after Maxwell what worked really good was nap time sex. Something about that daytime energy that upped the passion, in fact we both know exactly when we conceived Trey because it was 🔥🔥 🔥 . I wanted to add that because I know that kiddos can be exhausting, but I do believe that sexual health is a part of a healthy relationship.
Day 4, Listen Intently.
When I’m at my worst is when I’m on my phone.
I’m guessing this chapter might not make us feel as bad as giving our spouse a crappy greeting or speaking meanly, but I’m challenging myself (and you) to realize this one is also a big deal.
Drew is much more important than anything I’m doing on my phone and he definitely deserves my attention. I know how I feel when someone listens to me poorly and I don’t want to do that to my sweet husband.
Day 5, Thank Him Frequently.
I just want to be really honest here: I’m the one in our marriage that gets nagged. And Drew is sitting right beside me as I write this. We have a complete role reversal and Drew is much more of a typical “housewife”. He cooks more often and does a lot of the housework.
Here is what I can tell you from the perspective of the one that gets nagged: 1) The author is completely right, it does NOT make us want to be helpful. 2) PICK YOUR BATTLES. I told Drew that when he points out everything under the sun it makes me not want to do anything/ it makes me feel extremely annoyed. ESPECIALLY if the things are really small and he could just simply close the cabinet door in the same amount of time it would take him to nag me about it. 3) We really aren’t trying to be unhelpful/annoy you, but we may have picked up some habits that are hard to break. Be patient and do extend thanks when you see us putting forth effort!
On the positive: I make SURE I send Drew one text message a week that says something like, “Thank you SO much for working so hard for our little family! I thoroughly appreciate ALL that you do for us.” I just want him to know that I understand his role is very important for our family and is very much appreciated.
Cannot wait to hear your thoughts on the chapter! Include what challenge you find the HARDEST to improve on. Mine is definitely speaking kindly. I definitely have a little sass in me!
Day 6, Pray Continually.
Drew and I pray together every night at dinner. Especially after having Trey, many of our prayers sound similar. We often pray for patience, we pray for guidance, we pray that we work together during times of trial, we pray to raise our babies in His light.
Drew was praying the first night we were all home together after having Trey. He said, “God thank you so much for these babies, we feel immensely grateful.” As he finished, Maxwell said his very first “Amen.” 😭💕
I can certainly do a better job of speaking to the Lord and praying intentionally about my husband. Hope the chapter found all of you well!
Day 7, Forgive Immediately.
Y’all this is something that Drew and I have actually *IMPROVED* in overtime. Fighting fair was a big part of our pre-marital counseling (a place where we learned a heck of a lot about each other and what marriage would look like).
I used to always build a case when arguing. I needed SO much to be right. I wanted him to pay for anything wrong he had done and brought it up repeatedly. We were much more volatile than we are currently.
Now, Drew and I are quick to apologize. We are also quick to take the apology. We’ve learned to fight fair and NOT pile up arguments.
One of my dear friends Lisa from In Wild Hearts recently gave me the best advice. I had been getting frustrated with Drew a lot when it came to our routine for leaving the house. I would expect that he KNEW to help and was being selfish for not. She said, “Amy, what really works well for me is to give Mark specific tasks. Like, you are in charge of getting both the girls dressed.” This was game changing in our parenting. I learned to clearly communicate exactly what I needed Drew to help with and not just assume he knew how to help. It doesn’t matter if he does it my way or at my pace, it just matters that he is helping us.
Hope the chapter found y’all well and I cannot wait to read all of your reflections. I truly look forward to this each day! Xo. Ames
Day 8, Expect Gratefully.
Y’all THIS chapter. SUCH a good lesson as we navigate marriage and parenthood. I’ve said it before, but one of the KEY pieces of advice that I received early on in parenting Maxwell was “Just because your husband is doing something differently than you would do it, doesn’t mean he is wrong. It just means it’s different.”
It is easy to want to jump in, but I’ve really learned to let Drew parent Maxwell and Trey his own way. Now Drew and Max have the sweetest relationship a mama could ever hope for.
Of COURSE, I can do better and this chapter spoke to my heart.
Day 9, Serve Joyfully.
Acts of service is Drew’s main love language. This chapter served as an incredible reminder for me. I know when I recently surprised my husband with lasagna and a just because card…the look on his face was priceless. He truly feels loved and I want to do these things more often.
I loved the part about not making it a scorecard. I did ____, so you should do _____. Instead, serving joyfully as I used to do better before this busy season.
As a sidenote, does anyone else really want to have a cup of coffee with the author’s dad? He sounds like such a wise and amazing man.
Day 10, Reach Out Intentionally.
YES! Drew and I LOVE showing our love this way. We are very much a lovey texting duo.
We love coming to our phone and seeing sweet sentiments. Without ever talking about it, we still send each other a lot of texts that have nothing to do with the kiddos. Just that we miss the other person, we’re thinking of them, we’re thankful for them and we love them.
Of course there is the occasional, “Max is being SO insane today.”
Although we might be rocking this, lately our struggle has been Drew transitioning from his demanding work day to his demanding home life. I really want to support/help him through this and truly understand that he doesn’t really get a break. And heck, the babies and sick household has been a challenging combo! For me, this book has taught me it isn’t about saying “HEY! I’ve been taking care of these babies ALL day and I’m the one with the flu!” But rather since I’ve been feeling really positive, trying to help him get there too. I think in marriage and parenting we’re going to have times when we’re the strong and resilient one and we’re going to have times when we need the pick me up. Right now, I want to help pick him up. If anyone has been through this and has wise words, lay them on me!
Hope the chapter found you well my friends AND I hope that y’all keep plugging away at this book! I’ve found it to be SO good for me. Xo. Ames
Day 11, Fight Fairly.
YES! Y’all THIS! Marriage doesn’t come without disagreements, that is for sure. Add kiddos and you are upping the stress and lack of sleep.
One huge thing for Drew and I is we learned to avoid using sweeping generalizations like “ALWAYS” or “NEVER” and that has really helped. We also stopped leaving the room during an argument. Now that I’m typing this I’m remembering how fiery young Amy and Drew were! EEK!
Let me know if you’ve found a fighting hack that has helped you and your spouse fight more fairly.
Hope y’all have a great weekend and cuddle those babies and husband. Xo.
Day 12, Prepare Expectantly.
On New Years Eve, we headed over to Drew’s cousin’s house. I knew it was a low key night and our boys would just play. Still, I wanted to curl my hair and take a little extra time with my makeup.
The next morning, Drew rolled over in bed and said: “I just wanted to let you know how beautiful you looked last night Amy.”
It was incredibly sweet to hear and although he didn’t say it right away…the timing was perfect. It was another long night with our newborn and he said it so sweetly.
I belive in taking care of myself and I believe in some hair curls and slower makeup application sometimes. I know my husband loves me just as I am, but there are times when it is SO nice for ME to remember what it is like to get ready. Heck, even make it out of yoga pants.
Day 13, Honor Consistently.
LOVED this chapter. I think it is SUCH an important reminder to talk highly of your partner to others. Drew and I definitely practice this. That being said, I personally find it really helpful to have a friend (oh hey Lisa) that I can vent to, “Drew is driving me nuts right now.” I know she knows how much I love my husband. I know she knows he is a good man. I know she understands that parenting littles with your husband can be hard.
How did this chapter find you?! Xo. Ames
Day 14, Correct Sparingly.
THIS! I feel like we’ve all commented on this chapter before it even happened. Understanding that your husband will have a different way and PACE ( ) of doing everything is SO important to staying happy. It doesn’t mean that he is wrong (unless he is and it is dangerous to your children, and then correct him nicely). If it doesn’t NEED to be corrected or said, I do my very best to keep it to myself.
Excited to hear your thoughts. Xo.
Day 16, Connect Intimately
God’s timing with this chapter? Is perfect. Earlier this week, I shared a blog about postpartum sex. The feedback I got was “Amy, thank you for that post. BUT, sex drive is my problem!” I honestly hadn’t even thought of that because for me it isn’t an issue. I say that with the softest heart y’all, just being honest as so many women were honest back to me. Here is the post if you were interested: Let’s Talk About Sex (After) Baby.
And then POOF! This chapter about that. My reaction? I wanted to write the author a letter (and I’m going to because as a blogger I know how much those personal emails mean). I wanted to say THANK YOU!!!!!! Because you helping me improve my marriage for two weeks undoubtedly played a part in me wanting to be intimate with Drew. I’ve learned SO much from this book and continue to take it to heart and remind myself of the lessons learned.
I’m poised to do a follow up blog post because I know it would serve so many women well. As the author spoke about postpartum bodies getting in the way and lack of confidence…my heart pulled. I knew I could help women with this. Of course for some it is more complicated than that, but THOSE issues are something I know and can help with.
How did the chapter find you?
Day 17, Join in Willingly.
High school football and basketball knowledge and games anyone? Drew and I both love sports, but I tend to keep it to the collegiate and professional levels. Drew has adopted our new hometown team. He wants to tell me all about the player’s stats, who is recruiting them, etc. etc.
My coworkers could not believe I was going to bundle my big pregnant booty up and go to a HS football playoff game with my husband. BUT, I’ve always believed this is one of the keys to relationships. Showing interest in their interests. And when I’m there I have a hot chocolate and ask questions that I know my husband is excited to answer.
Of course sometimes my eyes glaze over, but I try really hard to be interested because I know how excited he is about it.
What does your husband love?! Are you able to show interest?!
Day 18: I couldn’t find this one, so I’ll have to add it in soon!
Day 19, Discover Daily.
SUCH a good chapter.
The other week I was asking Drew what his biggest fear was. His answer completely surprised me. It was about financial ruin and helped me to understand why he is very conservative with money. A little squirrel storing his nuts.
This past week I asked him where he wanted his career to be over the next 5 years and what his next promotion goal was.
Although I can think of examples, I also KNOW I can do a better job of discovering my husband daily. I KNOW that we are completely different people (in some ways) than we were when we fell in love. I’ve changed careers, started a blog, started a business and become a mommy.
Let me know how this chapter found you. Xo.
We’re almost there y’all! Rocking this and changing our marriages!
Day 20, Love Unexpectedly.
LOVE this chapter! Such a perfect reminder for me. Drew’s main love language is acts of service. In this very busy season of life, he easily notices if I go out of my way or do something to make his life just a little bit easier.
I’m excited to figure out something I can do for him today that will make him smile after his busy day of work.
Let me know how this chapter finds you and what you are planning to do for your husband!
ps. We’re almost there!!!!! I have no doubt that I will be re-listening to some of these chapters as reminders!
Day 21, Interact Patiently.
Don’t tell me this is over!
Y’all THIS chapter is written straight to me. In my role as a mama and as nurse, I always can and want to exude patience.
Sometimes I think all of it runs out by the time I see my husband again after our days. When I was talking to my own daddy yesterday about love, marriage and parenting …I was telling him about this challenge. I was telling him that I wanted to give Drew my best self, not my worst. Who wants to be rude, impatient or constantly upset with their person?! Certainly not me and I wouldn’t want Drew to give his worst to me. I’m so glad this book is helping to change my mindsets and my heart. I will continue to listen to it, especially chapters like THIS as a reminder.
Drew is the slowest snail in all the land and for the record, I never thought it was cute. I know that is him to his bones and that I need to learn strategies to not let it bother me. It has been amplified as an issue with our kiddos, because time is a very valuable resource. I need to constantly pep talk myself into not letting it irk me though. Pray for me and give me your tips
Did this blog post help you to reflect? Does it make you want to read the book?!