Saturday, December 15, 2018

Finding Our Own Rhythm with Family Holidays

When my husband and I first married, we about went crazy with trying to please our parents. And since my parents are divorced, we had to contend with trying to not offend either side of my family by inadvertently showing favoritism on holidays. It was difficult.
Creating healthy ties with in-laws requires good communication and patience. I've learned some important lessons over the years within these two ideas. In regards to good communication, it took me some time to develop the courage required to express my needs to my parents about my husband and I developing our own traditions with Christmas. Since everyone wanted us to spend Christmas Eve with them, we would run around all day and exhaust ourselves. My husband put his foot down and said we would need to tell all of our parents that we couldn't do it anymore. We decided to pray about how to go about telling everyone.
After praying, I felt a peace come over me. I had asked the Lord to tell me what to say as I approached each set of parents. I started with my mom. She surprised me by expressing her understanding and offered to join us on Christmas morning at our house for breakfast. I was more than relieved at this idea, and we still do Christmas breakfast with her. Next, I called my dad and asked him what was most important to him about Christmas and us spending time with him? He said he'd really like to have us come for Christmas Eve, but not to worry about Christmas Day or the extended family party. Again, I was so relieved and thankful. Last, I called my husband's mom and asked her how to do Christmas. She said it was really important to her to have the family together for Christmas Day dinner. I told her we could do that, but not the other two parties for extended family that her side of the family held. She agreed and surprised me with how understanding she was.
All of this occurred before children came along. Once we started having babies, we had to again revisit the plans on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Now, with teenagers, we've been able to establish the expectation that we are going to stay home for Christmas but grandparents are always welcome to stop and visit if they'd like. We've found that it is too difficult to run around and visit everyone on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Our family needs the holiday to be quiet and peaceful. We've found our groove and we're happy with how it has taken shape over the years. When we initially pulled out of the extended family dinners, there was some protest from my siblings, like we were betraying tradition. I held my ground with a gentle but firm standing and told my siblings that our family needed to establish our own traditions.
I don't want to put the pressure on my children that my parents put on us when they are first married. There is a fear as a mom that my children will never come home once they are married. But I have to trust that they will still want to see us and visit with us when they are adults. Holidays will be different, but it will be okay. I find myself cherishing these times I have with my children while they last. And I have a continual prayer in my heart that the Lord will comfort me when my husband and I are empty nesters. We need to trust our adult children. They will find their way back home in their own way. And it will be beautiful.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Balance of Power in Marriage

The readings this week caused me to really think back on my marriage and how my husband has been so good at balancing the power in our relationship. He is fair minded and trusting. I think these two qualities are essential for a marriage to thrive in the area of balancing the power dynamic in relationships.

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I enjoyed learning about President Hinckley’s and Sister Hinckley’s marriage in an interview from the Church magazines. When Sister Hinckley was asked what she meant by her husband giving her space to let her fly, she responded, “He never tells me what to do. He just lets me go. He has made me feel like a real person. He has encouraged me to do whatever makes me happy. He doesn’t try to rule or dominate me.”

Her answer shows how much her husband trusted her. He wasn’t afraid she’d let him down. Perhaps the power struggles that arise in relationships are the result of loving from a fear mindset versus a trusting mindset.

I see this all the time in the marriages I’ve watched over the years. I have always been a careful watcher of people, wanting to learn from those who seem to have happy marriages. I’ve noticed that happy couples aren’t afraid of letting their spouse express some healthy individuality. In contrast, I’ve seen couples who grasp and cling to each other and basically smother each other to the point to where they are always worried and fearful of whether or not their spouse will approve. I don’t know how these kinds of marriages survive without one or both spouses giving up a big portion of their happiness. I don’t think that is what the Lord meant when he said that husbands should cling to their wives and wives should cling to their husbands.

I’m so happy and relieved to see the shifts in church culture with treating women as equal partners in marriage. I love my role as wife and mother and have never viewed myself as anything less than equal to my husband. I think his respect and kindness have lifted me up over the years and allowed me to be better with him than I would be on my own. I think the Lord’s gospel and plan for families is perfect. It is us who can make it messy sometimes with our fear based approached to love and with our scarcity mentalities. But we can counter these things with faith and with insight from the Holy Ghost on those things we need to repent and change about ourselves. The work involved and the effort it takes to do these things is worth it.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Safeguarding Marriage from Infidelity

The readings this week were so good. I’ve often felt a little frustration at the lack of open-ness regarding sexual intimacy in LDS culture, wondering how to navigate this important topic with my spouse and my children without crossing inappropriate boundaries. So I found this week’s reading completely refreshing and insightful.

The two most important ideas that stuck out in my mind were:
-       The progression of unfaithfulness
-       How many prophets over the years have spoken about intimacy

The progression of unfaithfulness was interesting to me because of how innocent things can start out as. The guidelines that have been given by prophets and church leaders about proper relationships with the opposite sex serve as safeguards to keep us from falling victim to how easy it is to start down the path of infidelity.

I really like the idea of being emotionally and spiritually faithful to my spouse. I like the analogy Goddard used about watering the grass on the side of the fence that you are on, instead of looking for greener pastures. I couldn’t help but think of a good friend I have who consistently reads romance novels, the kind that make me uncomfortable. She would always insist on their innocence and kind of mock me for not wanting to read them. I would tell her that they were just fantasy and that they didn’t do anything to help me deal with reality. Why distort reality? Over the years my friend has struggled to find the right man and has been married three times. While I don’t think the romance novels are the root cause, I do think they don’t help her go into loving relationships with realistic expectations.

As a married person, safeguarding my marriage from infidelity has meant for me to break off innocent friendships and working relationships with band mates. As a musician, there is a fun bond that forms when making music. While I never crossed any lines with my band mates, I did find myself enjoying the time spent rehearsing and performing to the point to where I would look forward to it as more fun than being home with my children. It was exciting to be a musician and performer and feeling artistic and creative. But not at the expense of quality time with my kids.

The Lord was very clear with me when it was time to put music on the backburner and be more present as a mom and wife to my family. It wasn’t easy to put music aside. But at the same time, it was because I feel like the Lord helped me see how special and valuable the time with my family was, and how fast it goes by. I didn’t want to have any regrets with my family. Now, as I look back on the choices I made, I have no regrets.