Wednesday, April 24, 2013

On Marriage

I've been wanting to write about marriage for a long time now.
I've been praying about it.
I feel as if I won't be able to do it justice, 
it's such an important subject.
I also am humbling myself by writing about it,
as so many people will see the imperfect,
the private,
 but maybe they will also 
see themselves.

Which is why I post this.

We've had a very hard year and a half.
Now with Simeon's last surgery (for a while) completed,
we are playing "catch-up" on every aspect of our lives.

Let's look back on our year to two years:
High risk pregnancy
(6th C-section, over 40, type one diabetic)
up to 5 doctor appointments per week during the pregnancy
Special needs baby born
Special feeding
4 surgeries plus an extra hospital stay
Pumping breastmilk (big timesucker)
6 Kids and all that goes with that!
One child diagnosed with ADD and ODD and Anxiety issues
Counseling and numerous issues
 that go along with that diagnosis
Homeschooling with a special needs baby and a toddler
Tom suffers from depression, 
and this winter has been his worst year yet.
Tom has a really bad back, with constant pain,
preventing him from doing exercises
Tom has a bad knee, causing constant pain
He also has a really painful jaw thing--his jaw is out of joint
(seeking help for all of these--with little/no relief)
(Gosh I love my husband, he never complains)

I'm sure I've missed a few things

To say the least, we are happy to have this past year behind us!

This past year has, though, 
caused some stresses in our marriage.
It has also helped us to realize there were 
stresses already there, and ignored.
for a long time.
We're talking years.

All these stresses have, believe it or not, 
made our marriage stronger than ever.

My husband and I have been going to Christian marriage counseling
since January.
As I explain it, we need to learn how to communicate better.
Up to that point, I'd say looking back, 
I didn't really think anything was wrong.
My husband, on the other hand, was ready for the big D

I see now, how wrong I was.
How much better life is now.

We were co-existing.
Taking care of a family with 6 kids and all that goes with that.
We were not taking care of eachother, not our relationship.  
Our love, our friendship.  
He is my best friend, yet I was not acting like he was.
He is the love of my life.
I don't want to wake one day
when all the kids are grown and gone
and not be in love or feel love any more
for this man, the man I promised to
love and cherish.

I believe that our priorities should be in this order:
  1. God
  2. Marriage/husband
  3.  Children
I had the kids and Tom mixed up.
I had a very hard time changing that, 
learning to put Tom before the kids.
It's still a constant struggle.
They are needy and demanding.
We need to pray and beg God for those Graces
 from our Sacrament of Marriage.
Oh, the blessings and Graces from this.  
They are immediate when asked for.
We are so blessed to have a Sacramental marriage.
To be able to see that Love in action.

We were lonely.
Isn't that something?
8 people living in this house and we, 
the grown ups, 
were lonely.

There's a difference in asking
"How was your day?"
or asking,
"How are  you doing today?" 
(and looking him in the eye,
 touching his back and waiting for an answer)

 We have learned some things these past few months.
We try to meet every day for at least a half hour, alone, 
with no kids, to just talk and kiss and touch, and just be together.

(now this doesn't happen every day, but we try, 
and when it doesn't happen, we can tell, we need it,
we miss it)

I have to say this is KEY.
I wish someone would have told us before we were married,
that if at all possible, to take a half hour each day, 
even when you start having kids and it seems impossible,
(they sleep sometime)
to take that time, to TALK.
My husband comes up with questions like
"What 3 places would you pick to go for vacation, one with the kids and 2 without?"
"What is heaviest on  your mind right now?"
"What is the one thing you'd like to do this week?"

We have never run out of things to talk about.
One rule:  We can't talk only about the kids.

He's teaching me how to play Cribbage.  

We used to watch movies or a show after the kids went to bed,
but that's not the same thing as actually talking.

We've changed some things, 
He's staying a little later in the morning, 
so I can go to daily Mass 
(when there are no sick kids or icy roads)
so I can have some "me" time.  (Jesus and me time)
I am making lunch on Saturdays, 
I'm talking a real cooked meal, 
not a kid meal of corn dogs or chicken nuggets.
I'm making Brunch every Sunday 
after Mass
He's helping me write out the menus,
every 2 weeks, we look on the computer and pin away!

Love in action

( And food is the key to a man's heart sometimes)

We are trying, now that the kids are older,
to run errands together whenever we can
to touch each other more.
to go on a "date" outside the home
every other week.
(it's not much, about an hour and a half)
Every little bit helps.
Trying to spend as much time together as possible.
And I mean together, not just by each other.

It's a constant work in progress, 
but it's so worth it.
My husband is my best friend
I love him and can't wait til he's home every day.

And I tell him that.
My best advice?
Spend time together
Pray together
Every day.


  1. Jamie Jo - thank you so much for this hearfelt post and some reminders that I know I need. My husband is gone a lot and that has had an impact on our marriage but he is changing that this summer, so maybe we won't have quite as much money to sock away, but we will have each other and time together that we haven't had for the past two years. You have some great ideas. I hope this gives all of your readers some inspiration and encouragement and God bless you and your family!

    1. Oh, Debbie, I bet Summer can't come fast enough!! Yes, time is more important than extra money. God bless you and your husband--I'll be praying for you both!

  2. Wow! I so love your honesty! I never would have guessed this, shows how we never know what's going on behind the scenes.

    Thank God I grew up in a home where my dad would always tell us that he loved our mom first. It used to hurt my feelings a bit, but then I realized that he was right, and (though I don't tell my kids) Phil and I have been lucky enough to treat each other the same. We love our alone time, our dates, and find ourselves constantly pausing TV to tell each other something. I think I need to work on touching him more each day. It's either all or nothing usually depending on if we can finish what we started ;-)

    As a mom of many too, I can really see how the kids can easily take up your day and you're exhausted for your spouse. It's a great reminder for all of us to make an effort for the person we promised to love forever.

    Love you J!

    1. Colleen--that all or nothing thing, that's me totally!! I don't like starting something I can't finish, so I end up waiting for him to start. Dumb. Touch is not always about that. (but it does almost always lead to that)

      NO, it's the touch in the little things, sitting by him during family prayer time, or movies, because the kids always jump in there, I say, "Mommy gets to sit by daddy" I can tell they like it.

      Love you too C!

  3. I can't tell you how much I needed to read this today, right now, this very minute! Thank you for sharing something so close to your heart.

    1. Oh, good. If it helps one's worth it!

  4. That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing such intimate details of your life with everyone because it makes us stop and think how we can improve on our own marriages. God bless you both.

  5. Simply beautiful, Jamie, and I applaud you for your transparency and honesty. With all that you've had on your plate, it's easy to push marriage to the back burner. You're doing great things to build that up again. Touch is such a wonderful, healing, restorative thing, and I love how you've emphasized it. Bravo, girl!

    1. Oh, thanks Shelly. It's sad how that's the first thing that gets pushed to the back burner, but you are right, it does. And touch, is so very healing and made to help us feel loved.

  6. Truly beautiful and an inspiration to so many! Sharing with us the ways you and your husband try to emotionally and lovingly provide for one another gives the rest of us folks out here some great ideas. God bless you both!

    1. Thanks Patty, God bless you both too!

  7. Jamie Jo, I am glad counseling is helping. All your ideas are good ones and are both simple enough and doable for any of us. I need to talk more with my husband. We're best friends after all! Really, just making myself available to him throughout Lent was an eye opener (and hard!).

    Why is it so hard to keep that order straight? God, husband, children. Crazy.

    I hope the spring helps Tom. The winter has been difficult and combined with family stress and the rough last year, it is no wonder the depression has hit harder than ever. Have I asked before, can he do any kind of water exercise? And I know it seems kind of girly but is a straight up easy walk doable (even just 10 minutes) along with some light stretching feasible? I know I feel better when I get outsidse, move (exercise) and just be present in the moment. Many times it's too easy to say the words but when I do get motivated, my own fogginess lifts a bit.

    God bless. Thanks again!

    1. Nicole--I've tried to get him to join the YMCA for swimming, but it's so dang expensive...there are a couple health clubs with pools, but they are not really near his work or our home. (not convenient) I think water exercise would be great for him. Walking hurts his knee really bad. He's really tall--6ft6, so knee probs were inevitable. He is going to Physical therapy for his knees. He was doing chirpractic care for his back, for months and months, but gave up on it, because it really only helped that day (he went 2xweek)and $25 each time and the time it took to go, it's just so hard.

      I'm hoping spring helps too...

  8. Jamie Jo, thank you for opening up and sharing your heart. You really have had so much on your plate. As if 6 kids wasn't keeping you busy enough, there is so much more going on. I'm glad you have a good handle on what to do and how to make it all work. Truly inspirational. One thing I will take away from this is asking "how are you doing today?" instead of "how was your day?" The eye contact thing is huge too. I need to work on those two things.

    I will pray that things get easier on the two of you. Because you are both so willing and coming from the same, Godly place, I'm sure brighter and lighter days are ahead.

    Catch a hug!

    1. Caught the hug Kathleen!! Thank you. I'm glad you liked that way to greet our husbands...makes a difference for Tom, I hope you see a difference too.

      God bless you both, prayers for you too!

  9. Ah, it's nice to get the practical tips at the end. I hear so often, marriage must be the priority before children, but practically speaking, what does that even mean? I appreciate you giving a glimpse of how that plays out at your home!

    1. Thanks Monica--I always want a plan! We need to fix what needs fixin'!

  10. I am so glad for you, Jamie, that you realized you needed to take action. Marriage often gets too far into trouble before the damage is noticed. But, you have the desire to make your marriage work, something a lot of others don't have. They make up their minds that it's over and there is no going back. You never went there in your mind because you value marriage. You have so much on your plate right now. You are so strong (and strong-willed!). No doubt you'll make it work!

    1. Thank you Barbara. I agree, it seems people give up before they've even started. Things worth fighting for, take work.

      God bless you!

  11. Jamie, I admire your openness and honesty. My hubby and I have always tried to free up time for each other each day. We tell the kids that our family is only as strong as mommy and daddy's marriage. It is so important that the kids see that a marriage is not all easy or all hard. It is important for them to see you and your husband fight for your marriage as well as see that you cherish each other. Good for you both. I know that you are so busy and I am so happy that you share your reality. I have learned so much from you. Keep strong and may God richly bless your marriage and beautiful family.

    1. I know others have these real life things too, and it's easy to only show the good on our blogs, but behind the scenes, we are all human and we all have hard things in life.

      So happy you and your husband have always put your time together first, it's so important. I admire you for that. For knowing that and doing something about it. For me, it's like when that new baby comes, it's bye bye Tom, I have a baby to take care of!!

      Thank you so much, God bless you too!

  12. Hugs to you and Tom. I am curious if any of the readers here are from a divorced home?? Nobody has mentioned it?

    I am.

    It is a nightmare. My parents divorce has caused so much heartache in my life. I hate it. They have been divorced for over 25yrs and I still hate it. Some say...time to heal and move on. Every birthday..or celebration there is that reminder.

    oh gosh..enough about me. I am sorry.

    You and Tom have a lot on your plate. I never knew it was so bad that Tom thought about the D. hugs to you.

    I guess all I can add is that I agree with what you said. God..then marriage. Kids have to come third.
    and lots of sex!

    1. Oh, Christine, (((((hugs))))I can feel the pain in your words and I know you, I know this is a constant inner struggle for you.

      If you have the talk, and touch, that last part comes a lot easier, that's for sure!

      (kids read my blog, I'm not going there)

    2. That is interesting that kids read blogs. My kids have no interest what-so-ever in reading blogs...especially mine! I might show them an interesting picture but they never read blogs. I think kids read your blog because they love to see Sims and pray for him. other then that...wonder why they are reading??????

    3. LMBO!!!!!!! I don't let my kids read my blog.

    4. What the heck does LMBO mean?

    5. I believe it means, "laughing my butt off". Politer term than the other one :)

    6. Thanks Noreen! I would never have guessed that one....I only know and remember LOL. I'd rather say hahah!

  13. May God bless you and Tom for recognizing the need to work on your marriage and for making the time despite the many distractions. At times, I find myself biting my tongue when my hubby asks if I'd like to accompany him to Home Depot or other such errands. My initial response is "I have other things I need to do. We can get more done if we do our own errands." I know he is wanting my company. He doesn't need me to go with but it's a time he wants to share and talk about. If we become too busy doing things without the other, he will say to me "I feel like I'm just a paycheck." Ouch. That's not my intention and its my cue to spend more time with him.

    One other thing I've learned and have done over the years is to make sure I compliment him to others in front of him. Not be insincere but to state it out loud. Something like "Don is working so hard for us." Or "Don is really good at encouraging our son." He feels appreciated and respected and happy that I notice what he does for us.

    Staying married is an act of the will. A daily decision of committing to your spouse in honor of God. God wants holy marriages and holy families! He will bless us if we ask him for it and do our part.

    Thank you for sharing your story Jamie!

    1. Thanks so much Noreen. I plan on posting a book called "Love and Respect". In it, there's 2 parts, one for the woman and one for the man, man needing the respect, and women needing the love...endless cycle, without one, the other doesn't work, etc....anyway, they talk about how men love to be told they "have big muscles"!! I love that and think it's so true. You story made mt think of this, how he loves you coming with him, and how you compliment's funny, as a woman, I don't need to be told I'm doing a great job with dishes or laundry, but men really do appreciate being appreciated for the little things, and the big things like providing for us.

      I believe we are blessed by God by working on things, and of course praying, but I also believe that the devil attacks holy marriages. We need to armour ourselves constantly.

  14. This is a wonderful, "real" post Jamie! I admire you for being honest and sharing with us the ups and downs in your marriage. Sean and I have been married for 12 years and we too have had our ups and downs. He too considered the "D" word at one time, but that was my fault. I lost my way in our relationship and it nearly cost us everything.

    Once you have kids, its hard to make time for each other. We always put God, kids and then us first. That's just the way its always been. For the most part, it works for us. We put the kids to bed and then cuddle up on the couch with an episode of Walking Dead, Mad Men or Game of Thrones. (I know, we're horrible) We even find a little time for "extra cuddling" (working on #8).

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It gives us something to think about and ways we can strengthen our marriage as well. God Bless you both!

    1. Thanks Arley--can't wait to hear the news of #8!! :)

      So glad you and Sean worked things out and are still together.

      It is hard when the kids are little, and especially before having older kids to watch the littles....for that we are blessed at this time in our life.

  15. This was a beautiful, heartfelt post! This winter has been extraordinarily looong for us as well, and there have been many times when I've had to employ the old "fake it til you make it" attitude. I sincerely wanted to grab a coat and get in the car and drive away. You are so right to take the time with your hubby and make sure that the two of you are together, on the same page, in sync. All of your tips are spot on and perfect reminders of what we should be doing as spouses. Now, excuse me while I go give Rob a kiss. :)

    1. Awwww, Aimee, hope he got a few kisses! Thanks so much. It has been a long winter. Makes spring all the better!

  16. Your honesty about this is inspiring and very sobering for the rest of us. It is easy to get caught up in everything else and forget that marriage is a daily commitment. My husband is a lot better at that than I am too. I think it is wonderful you went to Christian marriage counseling. It sounds like you are doing really well now! May God continue to strengthen your marriage!

    1. Thank you Sarah. I think, at least for us anyway, having kids, although a blessing, change a lot of things and we ended up taking care of the kids only and not ourselves. We are doing great now. Thank you so much.

  17. Just reading this sorry things have been so hard. Dennis and I also were considering marriage counseling not too long ago. The big "D" was never mentioned, but we were both considering it. Lots of stress lately.

    We started praying the rosary lately. We started with just the two of us, primarily for our marriage. After a while, my son asked if he could join us. I told him no (that is crazy, now that I think of it!) because I wanted it to be just me and Dennis with no distractions from the kids. However, the next day my son asked again and then again. Dennis kept saying yes, and finally I said yes too. Now we say it together as a family, and the rosary is healing us.

    It's definitely not a perfect life, we still have our problems, Dennis and I still get in our tiffs, but I think the rosary is giving us the graces of perseverance to keep going and keep working on it.

    I am so glad you posted this--it's a hard thing to talk about but as you can see from the comments, so many of us have gone through the same struggles.

    1. OH, Becky, I"m so happy you are praying the rosary as a family, what a blessing. We have been doing either novenas, a rosary, family prayers or a litany for families in the evenings...I love that time. I wish it were a rosary every night, but Tom likes the variety.

      I'm glad you are working on things, I'll pray for you two. God bless.

  18. We went through something similar when I was pregnant with our now-7yo. Retrouvaille saved us, just in time for an emergency c-section at 26 weeks. We would never have made it through that and the 90 days in the NICU otherwise. Our marriage is so much stronger now, though. It takes lots of work, and prayer, and a weekly date night, but it's so worth it. We'll keep you both in our prayers. :o)

    1. I know, those hard things really strengthen marriages, if we just let God pour those graces!

  19. I've wanted to let you know I appreciate this app won't let me post and comuter time is so it is many days later. Good though, because I could re-read. Anyway, thanks. Baby crying, so gotta go.

  20. Jaime, I'm so glad you wrote about this! Every marriage has its struggles and its being able to work through it that makes it "meant to be" Though our stressers were different, I felt all your feelings. Our therapist too clearly outlined priorities: God, husband, children, and the importance of Adoration and mom's night out time for me. And I know exactly what you mean about really, really talking and praying together. The stressers now are more bearable knowing my best friend is on my side forever.

    1. Oh, that's beautiful what you wrote Annabelle...

  21. Wow. this is amazing. And important. And helpful to me. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Oh, Mary, I"m glad it was helpful. That is the reason I posted this. God bless you and your marriage.


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