marriage secret #2: putting things into practice

Hello friends! Today's post is a bit long, but I promise promise it's worth it!

Things are "trucking right along" in these parts. Birthday week was fun, for the most part, and now I just see a huge load of summer work on the horizon. Oh days of carefree summer vacation - you are so dearly missed.

Annnyyways, I have an awesome relationship resource to share today. A very kind Starbucks customer -- who is also a pastor -- gave Strider and I some books a while back as a newlywed gift. (Have I mentioned that I sometimes really love my job?) You may remember that we worked through Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts well, before it started, and it was great - we highly recommend it. However, I can't not share these as well (so much so that I'm willing to violate my never-under-any-circumstances-use-double-negatives rule).

If you're dating, engaged, or married at any stage, I'd highly encourage you to check out For Men Only and For Women Only. Written by a married couple, these companion books are pretty unique in their approach to understanding and relating to the opposite sex. Strider was a little unsure, and frankly, I think a bit tired of me bringing home personal-development-type books. But after a week of gathering dust, I came home and he had almost finished reading it...in one sitting. The books are based off extensive research and present data and relationship points from an analytical, almost clinical, approach. They aren't text-booky but they certainly aren't your typical inspirational marriage books either. The surveys and poll statistics really helped Strider engage as he is one of the most logical, non-emotional thinkers I know.

We decided to read the opposite books from our gender first and mark what our answers would have been to the surveys as well as underline any points which we particularly identified with. I felt pretty on-board with most of what they found and strongly agreed with something in almost every section. Once we swapped, it was like lightbulbs galore. And by reading For Women Only with Strider's notes, it felt like I was able to understand some key reasoning and practices that he may never have been able to communicate otherwise - he says he felt the same way. We both were completely dumbstruck by some of the ideas presented while the other was like, "Well...yeah...obviously that's how I see it." Totally game-changing material.

But frankly, reading marriage or personal help/development materials, even if you connect with them, means squat if you don't put anything new into practice. Based on what we read and discussed, I realized that it would be beneficial for me to find new ways to affirm Strider as a great husband. I also knew (and discovered reasons why in the book) that Strider, like most men, really hates to be pestered about being asked to do something. As such, we came up with a way for me to acknowledge his awesome-husband-ness more visually and also to ask for help without nagging.

Made out of an extra 5x7 frame and some scrap scrapbooking paper, this hangs in our kitchen right next to the front door. I change it every few days and just use a dry-erase marker straight on the frame glass. He says he likes it because he can always see something I appreciate or love about him and since he usually wipes it clean once the "help" item is completed, I can chill knowing that it's there to remind him and will get done...without me bringing it up a million times. For us, it has been such a simple and effective way to show love and support to each other in praise and helping. And all from a few statistics presented in For Men Only and For Women Only. This might not be a great tool for everyone, but it's this kind of putting-into-practice-ness that makes me feel like we really are committed to our covenant to each other. So yeah...check out the books for sure!

On a sidenote, check out this gorgeous tea tray I snagged while birthday antiquing. Not everyone's favorite celebratory activity, I'll grant you that, but I had fun. And this sweet $8 find will be much loved and used (after a gentle clean up and some polyurethane, that is).
Last, last sidenote, I used my brand new, fanzy schmantzy smartphone and Starbucks app to pay for my bagel this morning. I used a phone...to pay...for food. First thought:

Hope you have a great week!

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