Thursday, December 31, 2009

What Will You Do Differently This Year?

That was the question posed in one of my (it's Carol writing here) favorite little magazines this month (Real Simple. You know, the one with the alluring subtitle: Life Made Easier) Who doesn't desire a little life made easier? I've been a subscriber since its inception and seem to learn something simple or profound (or both) in each issue. About life. About relationships. About how to organize my wrapping paper or streamline the mitten basket.

This time (January 2010), it was the reader who responded to the query "What will you do differently this year" with a very Happy Couplesque statement: "I'm going to put my husband first."

She explains: "We each work two jobs and have a family, volunteer and social commitments, so we're exhausted at the end of the day. He deserves the best of me - not what's left over after I'm done with everything else."

Our spouses DO deserve the best of us. The first of us. The most of us. She's so smart, isn't she?!

I'm going to follow her lead and try to put my hubby first. It wont' be easy and I'm not one to make New Year resolutions (more inclined toward moment to moment resolutions since those give me greater odds at succeeding!) But today ... and the next 364 days ... I'm going to resolve to put my spouse of 18 years (and 18 days, to be exact) before everything else.

Wish me luck.

How about you? Want to try too?

Happy(Couple) New Year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fun Mail Rule

Last night, I (Anna) came home to three unopened envelopes on the counter. Did Brent get home, retrieve the mail, and then not open any of it? Nope, that was not the case. Those three unopened envelopes were intentionally left for me. He was simply following our fun mail rule we've developed over time. And this rule is particularly important during the holiday season, when we receive an abundance of "fun mail" in the form of holiday cards. Allow me to explain.

Fun mail consists of letters, invitations, thank you notes, and packages. I guess you could think of it as all the mail that doesn't require us to write a check after opening. Who doesn't love opening fun mail? It's usually attractive. Colorful. Hand-addressed, even? All of these traits make fun mail pretty much irresistibly inviting. Which was why it became a point of contention in our house earlier in our marriage. Since Brent usually gets the mail from the mailbox, he used to open all of it, including the fun mail (sometimes addressed only to ME!). It didn't take him long to learn that I like opening my own fun mail. But the problem still existed because he would open all the fun mail addressed to both of us. Eventually, we arrived at this conclusion: Whoever has known the sender of the fun mail best (or sometimes longest) is the designated opener. For example, today we received one card from my friend from graduate school and two others from my college roommates. So, Brent knew to leave them on the counter where I would see them and open them with excitement! Sometimes, though, he still "sneaks" opening one of mine ("you get way more than I do!").

Rules. They get such a bad rap, don't they? We tend to think of them as restrictive. But really, I think they're quite freeing! Mutually developed rules are, in my opinion, one of the keys to relational satisfaction.

P.S. Send me fun mail!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Anniversary! (But do I have to watch?)

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary! (Carol and Brian, married December 13th, 1991)

Yes, we are a happy couple because - no question - we keep working on it every day. We also don't let the 13th of December pass by without our loving little ritual: A review of our very poor quality but highly valuable (to just us) wedding video. We are, as I type, sitting on the sofa together, devouring a bowl of popcorn and recalling the evening with great fondness. Our kids joined us for about 20 minutes total of tonight's viewing until my son declared "Okay, I've seen enough" and our daughter kindly and sweetly uttered "Do I have to watch this anymore?" Secretly, I know they enjoy the warmth and security of seeing their parents still in love after 18 years even though they don't equally enjoy the blurry and quite raw footage of their wedding mass and reception. To us, the video is rather perfect: a documenting of the day we donned our best attire, danced the night away, and decided that we'd forever work - moment by moment - to appreciate the little and precious moments together. Are we always successful at doing so? Heck no. But we keep trying. And tonight - hurray for marriage and popcorn - is one of those moments we sure are enjoying.

Kids, time for bed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009