The Bitter and Sweet of 16 Years Together #Sweet16

Sweet 16 anniversary cake

Sometimes happiness is best celebrated with a shared cupcake, glass of rose, next to a coffee table of laptops and summer board games. ( Not pictured a.m. mimosas, dinner at III Forks, a gifted emerald necklace and a flower filled tub by candlelight.)

June 21st Randall and I celebrated sixteen years together. SIXTEEN, Sixteen seemed monumental for some reason. I mean,while that length of time is certainly a great track record it wasn’t a golden or silver anniversary. More like a coming of age, I suppose, and well let’s just say I’ve had feelings about it for months. I’ve shared those feelings with a few friends and my husband obviously. BLESS. HIS. HEART. He has endured all the feelings about it. Since I’ve made a commitment to always be transparent with all of you, not just sharing the idyllic picture perfect parts, this felt like one of those real stories to be documented here too.

sweet 16 anniversary

We are happy.

Now before you get worried things are in some sort of downward spiral and the entire internet is a lie, WE ARE FINE. More than fine honestly, we are happy. Like really happy and somehow THAT is the thing that got me worried.

Huh? Being happy is what made you worried something was wrong??

I know, I know. Just follow me on this one. Back in March, a friend and I were reflecting on the past few years and we asked each other if we were happy. We talked about where we were in our careers, our family, and our lives. It was an honest conversation, with no expectation attached. No one’s life is perfect and there is always room for growth but I could honestly say without any hesitation I was very happy with my life and my relationship.

In the weeks that followed, I began to think more about that conversation. I have been known to over analyze – shocker, I know- this trait is both blessing and a burden. I thought about all the couples we’d known, parents, friends, people who got married around the same time we had, people who had gotten married since. How many of them were still married? How many had divorced? How many are living complacent and co-existing? It was exhausting and there were very few relationships that had a lifespan equal to or longer than ours. There were even fewer that I would consider emulating.

Behind the Scenes: Real Relationship Talk

This is where I began to panic. And because panic loves to party, I shared my concerns with Randall immediately. It sounded something like this :

Me: “Heyyyyy, so, we’re happy, right? Like REALLLLy happy? ” 

Him: “Yeah. I’m happy. Are you happy?”

Me: “Definitely. I was just checking because I was thinking that I don’t know if I know anyone as happy as we are and what if everything is suddenly about to fall apart and we aren’t prepared……”

Him: ( insert head tilt, adorable gaze, and light chuckle) “Why do you do this to yourself?” 

*Note: by this time in our relationship he is used to me running worst-case-scenarios full speed ahead. It’s who I am. He is the hype man and I am logistics. Logistics people run these things through. Logistics people have your back. The Hype Men assure you everything is good and you are going to have the time of your life. Sometimes we switch positions. Both are vital. We make a really good team.

At least I’m not alone.

So things are good but I’m still not entirely convinced. By April, I am still sorting this through. I confide in another friend. “Here I am living this dream, with this human who I entirely believe is the best relationship partner on the face of the planet. ( FTR: Randall Chase is truly the best human I know and better than I deserve. Although, he tells me the same and I’m pretty sure I’m amazing also so let’s just say we both lucked out and call it even) So, because I don’t know anyone that has really made love last longer, why should we be the lucky ones? Is the proverbial other shoe about to drop at any moment? And am I going to be the one to screw it all up?  Because I believe he is so perfect, I’m clearly the obvious choice to do so. But howwwww?”

My friend responds : “You are speaking my worst nightmares and fears, but go on.” 

At least I know I am not alone.

Life goes on

A few more weeks go by and my panic begins to subside. Life goes on as normal. We parented together. I won an award and he was my biggest cheerleader. He was finishing his graduate program, things were busy at work and I took on more. Our autonomy is one of my favorite parts of our relationship. We had kitchen dance parties listening to Snoop Dogg, Beyonce, and some version of yacht rock that I can’t recall. We laughed, cried, loved, won and fussed in those weeks. It was the life we loved living. I decided it was okay to be happy.

Moral of the story

Just last week, I was recounting this relationship journey to yet another friend as we walked along. It seemed silly as I was telling it but it was honest. She reassured me that there really is no normal just let it be honest. Your love/relationship doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty. You don’t even have to be happy all the time. It was a good reminder that comparison is a terrible tool for relationships. Self reflection is totally different.

Moral of the story: Love still exists in many forms. It’s probably going to look a lot different each year it grows. Don’t panic. Sixteen years really is pretty sweet. If you haven’t gotten there yet, there is a lot to look forward to but enjoy the moment you are in because each of those can be pretty sweet too.

Oh, and keep good circle of trusted friends. I’ve got some of the very best.

Autonomy Makes Our Marriage Work

Chases in the Snow #SorentoFamily

One of my goals this year was to become a better writer. This summer I decided I would be writing something every day. Every.Day.  With kids out of school, moving to new places, traveling for summer vacations, it’s harder than it sounds. I suppose most things worth committing yourself to are. I haven’t necessarily published every day but I have been writing every day. I’ve also been reading more too. It helps to see what others are writing. The practice is good, the introspection better. So far I’ve learned a lot about myself and I feel I’ve been able to contribute more value to conversations with others as well. One recent conversation with my husband turned into a conversation discussing how keeping a certain amount of autonomy in our marriage has been part of the success.

We just celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary June 21st (the first official day of Summer and International Gnome Day, for those of you who keep track of things like that). I had just read an article shared by several respected friends who have all been married long over a decade or more. The article focused on the element of happiness in marriage and evaluating what marriage will cost you beyond the wedding day itself. It’s claims of sacrifice talked about much more than giving up half the closet space or letting someone else decide what would be on the dinner menu that night. I think we could all agree that marriage, along with most relationships, is full of compromise, but I completely disconnected when the author said “it will cost you yourself.”

I disconnected immediately but that statement still bothered me for days. I couldn’t reconcile why this piece resonated for so many others and felt so abrasive to me. I spent more time than I should have thinking about it and finally it occurred to me.

After fifteen years, the thing that has kept us together is allowing each other to be different. Autonomy makes our marriage work.

One of the things I have appreciated every day of our marriage relationship is the element of autonomy for both of us. Uniting in marriage has never required that either of us give up who we are as individuals. As we’ve gotten older and more mature we’ve changed certainly but not given up our individuality.

au·ton·o·my
noun: autonomy
  • the right or condition of self-government, especially in a particular sphere.
  • freedom from external control or influence; independence.
    synonyms: self-governmentself-rulehome ruleself-determinationindependencesovereigntyfreedom

     

Autonomy doesn’t mean that we are in an open relationship or that either of us have an “I do what I want” attitude with the other ( although I am known to jokingly reply with that on occasion.) We don’t typically ask the other to refrain from saying or doing something because we are adults capable of self-regulating and making their own choices. That’s how adulting works.

Autonomy Means We Won’t Always Agree

What autonomy in marriage does mean is that we have a mutual respect to allow one another to hold a difference of opinion on religion, politics, parental topics, who makes the best tacos, favorite IPAs and career choices. We don’t always agree. In truth, it’s our different perspectives that have made our relationship so intriguing and appealing from the beginning.

We don’t always agree but we ALWAYS communicate intelligently and respectfully. We allow one another to hold different opinions and can entertain discussions with each other without trying to convert the other. We communicate to understand and not change. Perhaps through various dialogue one of us will deliver a statement that opens up a point of view the other had not considered. Maybe not. Either way, allowing each other independence in opinion and thought continues the balance of equality that drew us to want to spend so much time together in the very beginning. This translates in how we choose to work together and make decisions in our life.

The article I was so bothered by positioned the “sacrifices” you must make in a marriage. I call those just being a decent human. If a person isn’t exemplifying that type of behavior from the very beginning I don’t want to commit to coffee with them much less a lifetime. Maybe that’s just me but I’m glad to be in a relationship with someone who lets me be me. We appreciate each other and don’t ever ask one another to play small or give up any part of ourselves. It works for us and I’m betting that we’ll be good at this gig for at least another 15 years.

Becoming The Weekend Wife

The weekend wife

To avoid any rumors or misunderstandings, things at home are just fine. Today’s post title references a tongue in cheek moniker I bestowed upon myself one Sunday evening, admittedly to get a slow eye roll response from Randall as he packed his suitcase for the following week. This is part of our new normal now and how we cope with the temporary weekday separation. Leaving your family each week, microwaving dinner for one, and waking up alone is quite a beige life (*see below) and beige just isn’t in our color palette. My contribution is to balance the beige with well-intentioned sarcasm, jokes and creative hashtags along the way as I continue to chronicle this segment of our story.

Anything can be sustained temporarily. That’s what we tell ourselves. It’s how we cope.

I’d like to briefly pause offering a bit more context and a congratulatory moment of accolades to Randall on his new job. Earlier this year he accepted a position reentering the chamber world as Executive Director of the Cedar Hill Chamber of Commerce.  It is a wonderful career opportunity in a field where he greatly excels and will allow our entire family to be embedded in community.  We’ve already found a new home and have been interviewing at schools in the area for next fall. Knowing that moving in the middle of a school year is never easy and that Sebastian would be making a transition to middle school this fall anyway, we decided things would be easiest if we waited and moved the children at the end of the school year. Thus, I became the Weekend Wife.

“Ya know, Marriage is the best sleepover of your entire life.”

As expected with our new lifestyle, we’ve both been fielding lots of inquiries and quizzical glances as we explain our chosen weekday separation. Maybe that’s why we haven’t made it super public as we figure out our new routines. We are given lots of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” winks, unsolicited advice, and a few quips about being grateful for alone time. I don’t think either of us is fond of the alone time. It feels more like everyone has just been picked up from the sleepover you hosted.

When we were newlyweds people would ask us “So what’s it like now? Being married and all?” I thought carefully about my response, how I felt each day as I woke up and replied “Ya know, Marriage is the best sleepover of your entire life!” I still believe that to be truest description of a good marriage. You only invite your best friends over to spend the night, to do your favorite things until the stars come out and you are fully aware that the later it gets the mischievousness and disagreements will come. Still, whatever happened the night before is forgotten as you wake up in a pile of blankets, sunshine on your face to someone making breakfast in the kitchen. See what I mean? A good marriage is the best sleepover you’ll ever have.

The house seems quieter and the bed seems bigger. Sometimes I sleep on his side instead.

The transition isn’t easy to navigate. My weekday hours have remained relatively the same. Weeknights are a heavier workload as I am solo project manager for homework, dinner, laundry, errand running, double checking teeth brushing, and lunch packing supervisor. This is the “ordinary” part of the day when we miss each other most. The time of day when brushing by each other in the kitchen holds the potential to transform into a smile and few minutes of  slow dancing or watching a documentary on Netflix leads to a in-depth commentary on the state of society at large. The house seems quieter and the bed seems bigger. Those nights, when I miss him the most, I sleep on his side instead. 

It’s not all bad I tell myself. The house is marginally more tidy. The entire stock of protein bars are mine for the choosing. There will be four entire days in which I won’t have to rush to get in the shower first or worry about drying off with a damp towel. We’re making the most of technology to stay connected. We find hidden moments in the day to send silly texts as if we were passing notes in class the way school children do.

He drives home every Friday evening battling rush hour and commuter traffic through two of Texas’s largest cities to see us for a little more than 48 hours. We cram as much into those hours as possible pretending everything is the same but an invisible hourglass consistently reminds us time is shorter than we like.

Sunday nights are the worst. That’s when the small suitcase is pulled out of the closet to be repacked with the freshly done laundry again. We tell the children goodnight and I watch him kiss each one on the forehead and tell them goodbye because he’ll be gone by the time they wake up for school. After that, we crawl into bed and hold each other tightly. In a few hours he will quietly silence the alarm doing his best not to wake me. He’ll dim the bathroom light and crack the door getting dressed in the shadows. Quietly he walks to my side of the bed, leans over to kiss my cheek and wakes me just enough to make sure I heard him whisper goodbye.

Anything can be sustained temporarily. That’s what we tell ourselves. It’s how we cope.

 

(a”beige life” is like a biscuit without jelly. Colorless and really, what’s the point??)

 

 

Team Us: Marriage Together – Book Review & Giveaway!!

Product disclosure
“If I get married, I want to be very married” – Audrey Hepburn

teamusprintable1

12+ years ago I married my best friend. I can honestly say almost every day of those 12 years has all been wedded bliss. Do we have it all figured out? Umm, no. We have just always decided that we are on the same team. Even when we disagree, our goal is to do life together. It’s not you or me, we are fighting for “us” and we make decisions based on what is best for us together.

Another key to all of this is investing our time into our marriage. Just like a car or home, a marriage requires upkeep and maintenance. It would be silly for someone to purchase a car and never check the oil, purchase new tires, or take time for a tune up. The same is true for keeping your marriage in good working order, especially if you want it to last ( hopefully longer than your car!). Taking time to read the manual can help you know what to do when a warning light comes on.

Recently, I was sent a copy of Team Us: Marriage Together. I find that we study the things that are most important to us. My marriage is the most valuable thing in my life and I want to take care of it that way- I certainly want it to last longer than my car! lol.  This book offers couples practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in their marriages. The author, Ashleigh Slater, shares from her own marriage as she presents couples with realistic ideas on how to foster cooperation, deepen commitment, and exercise grace on a daily basis.

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If you are looking for a book to strengthen your marriage, I highly recommend checking this one out with your husband or wife. Maybe try one of you reading a chapter and handing it off for the other. It’s not terribly long (176 pages) but will give you both an opportunity to focus in together. At the end of each chapter are questions that spouses can use for talking points and “us time”.  It got me to thinking…as moms we talk a lot about not getting enough “me time” but are we making “us time” a priority?

Giveaway Time!!! Team Us: Marriage Together Book Giveaway

I’m giving away a copy to one lucky reader! Just Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the book trailer HERE & hear from Ashleigh Slater HERE.
 
Check out Ashleigh’s blog HERE
 
Check out the official website HERE (you can read an excerpt here to see if you’d like it!)
Many Thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing the prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners are 100% my own and not influenced by monetary compensation. Samples were provided for the purposes of this review. 

Spark Something New – Our Date Nite at P.F. Chang’s

P.F. Chang's collageWith all that we’ve had going on over the last few weeks (not to mention the hyper-speed move coming up), a little time alone for Mom and Dad was in order. Sometimes that means Monday night is the best time for a date night. Thanks so much to P. F. Chang’s for sponsoring this discussion and our date night!

P.F. Changs small platesRandy and I each have our favorite go-to menu items at P.F. Chang’s but tonight we were ready to order something that made us feel like legit foodies. We had heard about the new sushi and small plates menu available and were excited to share a few of them.  I am so glad we did because I think I have several new favorites now!

PF Changs small Plate CollageEDAMAME HUMMUS – This is a twist on hummus is a signature blend of fresh edamame, sesame seeds, ginger, and a hint of chili. Served with house-made crisp plantains
DYNAMITE SCALLOP ROLL – P.F. Chang’s signature California Roll topped with seared scallops, finished with a creamy sriracha sauce
ASIAN CARNITAS BAO – Carnitas with an Asian twist. Seared chili marinated pork stuffed in soft steamed pillow bao buns, served with a fresh pineapple salsa

These are just a few of the items on P.F Chang’s new menu, go here to check out the full selection!

We love visiting P.F. Chang’s for date night or get together with friends because the taste combinations are awesome and always priced well! Their extended happy hour is easy to remember and easy on the budget too with everything on the P.F. Chang’s happy hour menu priced at just $3-7 from 3- 7 pm.  Don’t fret if you arrive early or are running late though,  these tasty selections can be ordered from the regular menu any time of day.

Starting July 23rd, all P.F. Chang’s in the Dallas area will feature “Sushi, Small Bites & Wine Flights Wednesdays,” a selection of wines expertly paired with the newest menu offerings at  one great price.

Of course, we couldn’t head home without requesting one of the new lattes to go. It was ready in a flash and we enjoyed our coffee as we chatted more on the way home.  Date nights should always include great food and great conversation! Remember to visit P.F. Chang’s on your next night out with friends or special someone.

 

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