Saturday, October 19, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

I love being in Women's Chorus. It brings so much joy to my life. I love the power of music to be a force for good in the world when there can be so much negativity and hardship. Life is not easy. It's not meant to be. But it is meant to be enjoyed! Don't worry, no matter how difficult your situation is, the Lord loves you, he is there for you, and there is sunshine just ahead! Just keep holding on! I promise that you can get through it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How to Have an Absolutely Fantabulous Marriage in 10 Easy Steps--Continuing Courtship

My dear husband Cameron asked if he could write the post on courtship, so here it is! I love that we can do this little project together :)

Dating, courtship, and engagement were amazing periods of time for Dana and myself. We loved it. We were together everyday doing something. One day we were dancing in front of the castle at Disneyland, other days it was making Macaroni and Cheese on a cold wintery day. Whatever we did, we loved being together. 

Courting one another is an essential part of the pre-marriage and post-wedding stage. I have found that as I try to do things for and with my wife that our marriage blossoms exponentially. 

Elder Christiansen said once: “Keep your courtship alive. Make time to do things together—just the two of you. As important as it is to be with the children as a family, you need regular weekly time alone together. Scheduling it will let your children know that you feel that your marriage is so important that you need to nurture it. That takes commitment, planning, and scheduling” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 86; or Ensign, May 1995, 65).

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in school, work, extracurricular activities that we lose sight of those who are closest to us. My grandfather, Grandpa Blake, always tells Dana to call him if I don't treat her right… luckily she hasn't had to call him! I am grateful for that. I think that we have been able to grow in our love since our marriage is because we have taken to time to court one another. We go out of our way to do things for one another. Sometimes things are spontaneous and other times we plan well in advance to spend special time together. 

These are three things that Dana and I do to continue courting one another: 

1. Go on dates! This is a biggie! Every week, take the time to just be alone together. Whether that is at home watching a movie, taking a walk, shooting guns (we don't do this one much but we have friends and family that do), whatever, take the time to be together. Turn off your cell phone, or just be disciplined and don't look at it. This is YOUR time together that makes a marriage grow. 

2. Be spontaneous! Guys, if a crazy awesome idea enters your mind and you have a second to decide, do it with her! One day we were walking on BYU campus heading south. As you walk from north to south there is a 9 story building called the Spencer W Kimball Building, or SWKT (swi-ket). We saw one of our friends who happens to be a security guard walking in front of us. We went spy-style, followed him for a minute, and then caught up with him. He told us he was going to the top of the SWKT to check things out and invited us along! We said YES! The top is locked at all times, so this was a real treat! He let us stay up there for as long as we wanted and we had a blast, and a great view of Provo. None of that would have happened had we not been spontaneous. 
3. Have fun! Dating and beginning to court is awesome and so much fun! Be respectful and do appropriate activities. Courtship in marriage is also a blast! You are married (or will be married) to your best friend. Treat your spouse as the queen or king that they are. When life gives you lemons, just laugh and move forward!! Enjoy your time together. Loving, laughing, and courting are activities that make your marriage strong. 

Allow me to reiterate something: you are married to your BEST FRIEND. Cherish every moment you have and court each other every moment of every day, and you will be happy. 

What are ways that you court one another? We'd like to know. 

How to Have an Absolutely Fantabulous Marriage in 10 Easy Steps--Set Goals Together

Setting goals, individually and as a couple, is really important in marriage. It forces you to think of where you want to go and who you want to become, and gives you direction in your life and in your relationship. As you discuss your needs and those of your partner, your dreams and aspirations, and how you want to get there (see Communication,) you will be able to become one in purpose and have the same vision for where you want to go. This will make the journey much easier and more enjoyable, since you will be working with instead of against each other. The end result will also be more fulfilling if you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you and your spouse are happy and fulfilled and that you accomplished something together.

Goals can be for the long or short term (I want to finish this project within the next two hours, or I want to get a doctorate degree.) I usually set shorter term goals, but I find that they have the most purpose and help me get somewhere worthwhile when I think about where I want to be in the long term. Basically,  *What is the reality I want to create? I think 1, 5, 10 years down the road, maybe more, and decide what my spiritual, educational, physical, financial, marital, familial (etc, etc,) situation will be. In ten years, I'll be 31. Do I want to have completed my undergrad? Do I want to have credit card debt? Do I want to have children and still be married to Cameron? What do I want my relationship with them to be like? What do I want my reality to be? This is the first step. 

(If you haven't worked through this part with your spouse, make sure that you do! You want the same vision for your family so that you can work together towards your goals. Its definitely ok to try and come up with a vision before you talk about it, but make sure that you do discuss it together. If you have personal goals, such as for your health, sharing these with your spouse as well as goals and visions that pertain to them, can be a great motivator. If you have someone who can ask you how your goals are going, it can be easier to remember to do them, because you want to be able to answer well.)

The second step is to then figure out how to get there. Say you want to be free of credit card debt in 10 years (putting house and car payments aside, maybe.) The best way to get there is to not fall into debt in the first place. How do you do that? Spend less than you make every month, and make payments on time. How do you know how much you can spend? And so on. Keep asking how and why like a three-year-old until you're able to break your task down into specific, measurable, and doable goals. These three things are important because if a goal is too ambiguous, you have no way to measure how well you're doing at it, or if it's just not possible, then it won't get done and you won't get anywhere.

Next, set timelines for yourself. Sometimes it's good to work backwards. Start with the long term and work your way down to the short term, to make sure that you have time to do everything. Say I have a paper due for school in three weeks. I need to come up with a topic, do research, write one or two preliminary drafts, check those, and print my essay. Starting with printing and going backwards, when do I want to get each of those items done? Take into account how long each of these steps will take to do well. 

Four: Write Down Your Goals! Then put them in a place where you can see them often and think about how well you've done. I've never been particularly good at this part, but it is so important, because it helps you to remember your goals and keep track of them. Keeping track of your progress is important, too. It can be rewarding if you're doing well, or motivation to do better. Do what's best for you. If you need to have someone to be accountable to, ask your spouse to check with you every so often on how you're coming along. 

Remember, marriage is about becoming one as a couple. If you're working in different directions, it's probably not going to happen. Marriage is work, but it can be remarkable fun and rewarding as long as we're willing to work together and give our hearts wholly to each other and to our Father in Heaven.

*I heard this phrase from Bob Quinn, who I think was quoting it from a book titled The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pregnancy Update: One Week From Today

I am super excited! One week from today we get to find out the gender of our little baby! Are you as excited as I am? Probably not, because I am bouncing-off-the-walls, smiling-even-though-I-don't-feel-well, dancing-around-the-kitchen-while-doing-dishes excited!

I'll do a real blog post soon. I think hubby has finished the "continuing courtship" post for our fantabulous marriage series, so we'll be posting that pronto! We've just been soooo busy with school and work. *Sigh* I was not emotionally prepared for this semester. Summer went WAY too fast!