Why We Work

why we work a beautiful little adventure

whywework

 

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Bonnie, from The Life of Bon, and Taylor, from The Daily Tay, ganged up for a love themed link up – encouraging others to write about why they and their partner “work”.

After deciding to participate I just kept muttering to myself “Why do Ryan and I work as a married couple?” over, and over, and over. I kept trying to recall that one magic moment when everything clicked and fireworks went off and I know we were just perfect for each other. Sorry to break it to you, but I don’t believe moments like that exist. No one is perfect for each other.

why we work katie and ryan abla

While I repeatedly asked myself the question, “Why do we work?” I couldn’t help but envision a well oiled factory machine with many complex parts all working together perfectly to create a flawless and productive product. This analogy may work for some couples (or maybe just in fairy tales?) but my marriage to Ryan is nothing like that.

We are two separate machines and unlike a well-engineered piece of factory equipment, our parts don’t always line up perfectly or complete each other. We don’t work because there is some magic chemistry between the two of us or because it was our destiny to end up together. We work because we work at being together. And it is hard work.

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Not only are we two separate machines, but Ryan and I are often working in two separate factories miles and miles apart. Yet, with communication our two independent factories work together attempting to create a product that will please the other and create a joint profit. Somedays I will create a product with just the hopes of making Ryan’s day, while others I hope that the product I’m creating will work well with the one that he is simultaneously creating for me.

There are days when all lines of communication are down and our attempts are complete failures. We’ll end up creating two useless items. I’ll create a TV remote and he’ll create a picture frame. They are both fine and dandy, but what is a remote with out a TV and a frame with out a picture? These two items are useless alone and they will never be productive together. Failure day at the factories.

Those days are the worst, like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and they are often filled with tears, resentment, and mean words. But no matter what, you are never going to get that TV remote and that picture frame to work together. It’s best to just say goodnight and go to bed. (yes, going to bed angry “works” for us) That TV remote and picture frame will usually be gone by morning and we can get back to work at making something else.

Other days we surprise ourselves and create two separate products that are essential to one another, like a lightbulb and a lamp. You can’t have one with out the other can you? These days far outweigh the bad ones. They, like the lightbulb, ignite our love and give us hope which we use to light the way through those darker failure days. But these days take hard work.

why we work katie and ryan a beautiful little adventure

It’s hard work fitting two different people doing two different jobs together for life. There are days when we both want to quit, that we both want to push the reset button and go back to our factory settings of default. When our machines are in default mode we always come first, we don’t have to think about another person’s needs or ideas. Ryan and I work because we don’t believe in hitting the “reset to default” button. Instead, of the “default button” we select the buttons labeled with words like respect, sympathy, kindness, and patience.

It takes work to be patient when Ryan is dead tired and as grumpy as a toddler. It takes work for Ryan to not jump to conclusions as to why I’m being quiet or distant when I just need some space. It takes work to be understanding when Ryan forgets an important date because he has 5 billion things going on inside his head. It takes work for Ryan to be kind when I forget to rinse out my dirty dishes before putting them in our inadequate dishwasher (once again). It’s the constant little acts of kindness that makes us work.

why we work a beautiful little adventure

We work because at the end of the day our two separate machines have churned out a plentiful array of products. Yes, some are disasters, but others are productive and beautiful. Together the good and the bad create a beautiful work of art. To others it may look like an abstract mess, but to us it is a masterpiece. It depicts our love, our life’s work and tells our story. As with any piece of art, Ryan and I will always view it with a different perception and take away a different meaning. But by choosing to simultaneously admire and to put value in the same piece of work day in and day out; that is what makes us work.

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Love Lessons

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Last Saturday morning Ryan and I were in the car, out for the morning running typical errands. We were in a rush to get a few boring but necessary tasks done before driving down to visit his family later that afternoon. We were sitting in silence listening to music.

As I looked over at Ryan I happily smiled to myself and thought how happy it made me to have him to share in the daily mundane, how even just a typical trip to the grocery store was now fun because we were doing it together. As my smile slowly turned into a little laugh.

Ryan turned over and asked, “What I was thinking about?”

What was my response? “Oh, just thinking about everything we have to do today.” I then critiqued the route he chose to take.

What?!

Why did I lie? Why did I hide what I was really thinking? Me, the girl who loves to talk about feelings, didn’t want to express her own? Looking back, I was being so cold.

I don’t understand why I didn’t express my love and gratitude to Ryan in the car that day. Or why on other nights when I miss him terribly I don’t express it to him. Is it because I just didn’t feel like it? That I didn’t want the back and forth banter of “oh I love you SO much” that can sometimes feel overused and artificial? Because I was lazy? Because I wanted him to say something like that to me first?

I know that every single one of those reasons is totally immature and selfish. I’m not perfect.

If there is one universal truth about marriage it is this: Marriage takes a lot of hard work.

In the busyness of everyday it is sometimes hard to remember that such little expressions of love can go a long way. Sometimes it’s just hard to take that extra step. In hindsight it seems unnaturally cold to not do so. Why would I not want to lift my husband up higher, to make him happier?

I’ve never been so sure of anything as I am for my love for Ryan. Yes, we are very different and have different needs. Hearing me vocally express my gratitude and love for him sporadically like that in the car make him smile his big charming smile and make his day. But in my head, I didn’t express it because I think, “oh he knows I love him, he doesn’t need to hear it AGAIN”. But no, he does need to hear it.

Thinking this over made me think of the 5 Languages of Love book by Garry Chapman. It outlines five ways to express and experience love  called “love languages”: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts ofservice, and physical touch. Understanding yours and your partners can help your relationships communication and growth. You can take a 3 minutes test to find out you language. 

Unlike Ryan, I don’t thrive off of hearing the words, “I love you” over and over. Of course I love him and of course I like affirming words of love at times. But, I don’t need to hear it daily. Instead, I thrive off of little acts of service. For instance, my heart melted on Sunday night. I was upstairs working away in the office all afternoon. Around 7 p.m. Ryan came upstairs and surprised me with a cosmo in my favorite martini glass. He took me downstairs and said “why don’t you pick out one of your favorite romantic movies for us to watch together, it’s time for you to relax.” I fell in love a little bit more with my husband at that moment.

I love when he notices that I need a little help around the house, or when I come home and the kitchen is spotless, or he realizes we are out of paper towels and picked some up on the way home. It makes me feel loved because it makes me feel noticed and appreciated. It makes me feel like he is present. I need to tell him that.

Life gets busy. Ryan and I both do things that irritates the other. We both can be highly critical and end up wanting to pull our hair out. But wouldn’t those moments be easier to extinguish with a simple act of love? Wouldn’t they have less chance of turning into a fight or a grudge? Communication isn’t hard, just take the time to do it. Wouldn’t we both be happier?  Why not choose that?

I need to remember to vocalize those happy little inner thoughts that I’m having about Ryan. I need to show my gratitude vocally when he does little acts of kindness from me. I need to give him the love he knows how to best receive. How else can we expect our marriage and our love to grow?

We all need love. There is no doubt that it is complex. Everyone will have a different definition of what love is to them. So, my thoughts, even if I think they are little, or not that important, or silly, may make Ryan feels full of love.

Open up and share, love is all around, you just have to learn to give and receive it in the best way – a lifetime learning process.

If you haven’t already – go take the test and find out your love language!

xoxo Katie

 

 

 

 

 

Date Nights are Important

Life is all about learning as you go.  Want to know the biggest lesson I’ve learned since getting married almost four months ago?

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I never really considered “dating” my husband. I mean, we live together and do most things together on the weekend. Isn’t that dating? No, eating stir fry on the couch while binge watching your favorite TV show together does not qualify as a date. I know, that’s basically our favorite thing to do at home.  And why not? It’s relaxing, easy, cheap, and we’re together. But over the summer I learned that defaulting to this every 8 p.m. on a Friday night may be setting us up for disaster.

Why disaster? I have three reasons for you:

1. Stress Dumping

A side effect of Ryan and I not seeing each other all week is that we don’t have the option to gradually catch up or vent about our days.  Most couples can unload about work stress or any other anxiety to each other over a casual dinner every night. They can also casually fit in the occasional nag, like “honey, I really wish you wouldn’t leave your breakfast dishes out”. But, Ryan and I don’t have that luxury. All our stress from the week gets piled up. Additionally, I know I  have resentment about this stress getting piled up. It all comes to a head on Friday evening at some point. Instead of simply being happy about being together, we’re dumping all of this negativity on one another. We’re discussing bills, work, family issues, groceries. How boring!

2. Pressure

Since we don’t see each other during the week, we put a lot of pressure on the weekends. We want to make sure that our time together is the best damn quality time we can have. When I feel pressured or over excited I tend to have minor breakdowns. Think of a four-year old at their birthday party.

3. Routine

We got stuck in the routine of eating at home in front of the TV. The drill was: 7:30: go for a walk and talk about our week. 8:00: have dinner and watch TV and have a drink until bed time. 12: crash. It was comfy and relaxing.  As we were trying to save me, we were so happy over how much mula we were putting into savings each week. Over a few months I gained about 6 pounds. The black lacy nightgown I wore around the house all summer turned from “kinda sexy” into “oh god this is the only thing that fits right now let me be!” We weren’t developing our relationship, we were, simply put, being slobs.

Why are date nights so vital to the success of a marriage? I give you 3 reasons :

1. Putting value on communication

On a date, you have the opportunity to really communicate with one another. You’re not simply re hashing your day and complaining about your boss. This is your time to continue to develop a deeper understanding of one another – to continue to be one another’s best friend. This is important, because you are both bound to change through the years. I know that I want to grow side by side with Ryan – sharing my thoughts and perceptions rather than grow apart.

2.  Allowing  time for romance

This is a new trick that works for me; whenever I feel like I’m being a little moody, selfish, mean during quality time with Ryan, I pause and think to myself “Would I act this way on a first or second date?” It sounds so simple – but be overly kind, try harder, and take the evening to the next level. Whether this simply means choosing real pants over yoga pants or surprising your spouse with their favorite meal or reservations. Impress one another!

3. Strengthen your commitment as a couple

By setting specific romantic time for you and your spouse you a cultivating a strong sense of togetherness and commitment. You are making a point to put one another first. It has been proven that spouses that spend a lot of couple time together enjoy a higher quality relationship, lower stress, and are markedly less likely to divorce.

When you look back, it all makes perfect sense. However, life does tend to get in the way. Since August, Ryan and I have made an effort to schedule special date nights at least twice a month. As we discuss having a baby in the somewhat near future we put together a “before baby bucket list” and we’re having fun setting aside couple time.

What are ways that you have found to make sure you keep the romance alive and schedule couple time in your busy schedule?