Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Guest Post from Nell at Whole Parenting Family

Nell and I met in Dallas last summer.  I've talked about her before.  You've seen Sophie and I wearing the leggings she makes in her fabulous Etsy shop.  And, I'm forever thankful we're "real life" friends.  She's an encourager.  Need a boost?  Text her.  Need advice?  She's there 24/7. She has three precious kids and lives in a multi-generational home - I'm going to get her to blog about that some day here, because I find it fascinating!  For now, she's so generously sharing a beautiful piece on growing even closer to the one we love.  Follow Nell, on every social media source you can - she just makes life better!

This post first appeared on Whole Parenting Family. whole parenting family I'm still a novice spouse myself, almost six years in. So don't take anything here as word from on high. In fact, take it with two fistfuls of salt because what you do with your spouse is probably totally different than what I do with mine with respect to this. But given that I have a blog and love to feel like an expert {NOT}, you get my take on this. For the first time in our marriage these past few months, I felt guilty like I was really neglecting my husband. I mean, I kept the kids alive and I talked to him. So that's good. Right? But him as a person and me as as person were not resonating on the same level. We were like two robotic puppets (now there's a weird image for you) going through the motions of gathering together our energies and household, but not actually connecting. That's in part why I wrote my last post about seeking common experiences outside of family life and work life, outside of talking over drinks or snuggling in the bedroom, or for the cosleepers among us, snuggling somewhere other than the bedroom. I thought about this idea of not connecting. Then I thought about vows. Then I thought about how SweetPea thinks vehemently believes one of Santa's reindeer is named Victim. Then I thought about Grace's last post about Bash's talking. Then I thought about how Bridget had her baby, Anders!!! Then I circled back to vows. And honoring. How am I not honoring my spouse? And how can I do it better?

1) Shut up and listen.

I talk a lot. You know how I sound when you're reading me? Yeah, I talk a lot like this in real life. Like a motor boat. And I interrupt. And I superimpose my thoughts//feelings//longings//foodcravings on other people in conversation. I've practiced this stealthfully lately. What is he saying about his day? How is he breathing? Long exhausted sighs when I pick him up from the bus stop or train station? Or are his eyes snapping open and closed as though that last pot of afternoon coffee at work made him jittery? What does he need? And what he needed was a weekend away from normal stressful everyday life. So we took an overnight to the Lodge. With only the baby. Heaven!!! whole parenting family

2) Don't override him and include him instead.

I make almost all the household decisions because I'm the one here for 12 hours a day without him. Where the furniture is moving, where the kids are sleeping//how they are sleeping, when snack time and rest time are, what's on our social calendar, what needs to be done around the house, etc. He's a laid back guy, and usually I think he's glad I'm running the household. It means he can come home, eat a warm meal, play with his kids, and crash after they do. Lately we've had lots more activity around the house than usual//visitors, events, parties, people over for dinner. I have to remember to clue him in, to go over what is coming up and make sure it's not an avalanche for him. Because I'm way more extroverted than he is. And I often spring on him oh, so and so is coming by for dinner//evening//staying!

3) Tending to our household.

The blog is fun! The sponsored giveaways for you are fun! The review products for us are fun! The etsy shoppe and all its glorious sewing & knitting is fun! But I'm staying home from lawyering for a reason so there is a fine line I tread between getting the feedback and enjoyment and affirmation I need from all of the aforementioned, and cleaning my damn toilets. And reading aloud to the kids. And folding the clean clothes. Because right now I don't know which are clean and which are dirty because they're all waded in a heap on the floor of the hallway between our room & the kids' room. It's a disaster. He helps out with cleaning, laundry, kiddos, teaching them great stuff (like SweetPea & her alphabet right now and SuperBoy and his addition). He is a very involved dad. BUT when I see him cleaning the bathrooms late Sunday night because I haven't in forever and a day, I know I can do that part. I mean, it's kinda like--just do it, Nell.

4) Letting him parent as himself.

whole parenting family How many of us moms jump in while the other parent is trying to parent? Oh, don't let him have that! She's got that scissors in her hand. He hasn't finished all his food and cannot be excused. I may have said all three of these things in one setting the other night. I had to refer to step 1 & shut up. He is in the room. He is watching the kids while I clear the table. He is a capable, competent adult who can handle their tantrums, choking hazards, and safety concerns. If I jump in all the time, they have no real relationship with him. Also, if something does happen, Lord, don't let it be with the scissors or the eating of the crayon peals, he can take care of them and it. I am not the Alpha & Omega. We're a team. I trust him and even if they are never fully dressed as warmly as I would like them to be on his watch, they thrive with their dada. Even if it looks like BabyLoves is about to put his hand in the fire here.

5) Praying for him.

whole parenting family If you're a praying type, try this with me. It was a really great exercise earlier this year: praying specifically for my spouse. I prayed for him a particular prayer for three months. And prayer isn't magic, obviously, insofar as it's not like oh I prayed so then it happened! It's more like a request line that you hope gets answered and are very grateful if and when it does. The exercise of specific prayer for a specific person helped me focus on him for that brief prayer each day and I felt more connected spiritually to him.

6) Making time for affection.

It's scientifically a fact that most women prefer talking to sex as it lights up their pleasure center in their brain, and men suffer//bask in the glow of? the opposite. And romance takes way more effort for us females to get in the mind space of. We have to stop thinking about our list, our emails, our friend's child's problems, our dirty kitchen, our hot cocoa mix beckoning. Now I really sound like an old married woman--but truly, just the facts! Making the time, not finding it because it's probably isn't there given how insanely busy life is, for intimacy is a great relationship win. Snuggling, spooning, or whatever happens next is really rewarding. To be able to give your physical and spiritual space to your spouse, as a gift, and have them receive and honor that gift? Priceless feeling.

whole parenting family //snuck one in of our Godson & BabyLoves. So presh together!!//

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