Hello again!

So…after a long hiatus, I decided to start blogging again. It’s been forever. Not because my life has gotten any more or less crazy, because it’s still a s**t storm of day to day craziness, but honestly, it was because I wasn’t getting the response I was hoping for.

No, I did not expect to be an overnight celebrity. No, I didn’t expect to break the internet like a Kardashian’s booty. What I was hoping for, however, was more than five people reading it. Considering they are family members, they’re obligated.

I’ve finally realized though, it’s ok. I’m doing this more for myself than anything. These are memories I can look back on and my kids can look back on. Even if I’m the only person who reads them, it’s still something.

So-I’m going to start doing a weekly blog again about the shenanigans of the Gillum family once more. It’s not like there’s a lack in material or anything.

Stay tuned next Monday when I release my post. Feel free to check out old posts as well to get caught up and what you’re in store for!

Love always…


Not today; it’s stressed out…

First off…I know; it’s been F.O.R.E.V.E.R.

Sports, kids, work, and just life in general has been so crazy busy that there’s rarely a night that I don’t pass out on the couch before 8 p.m. I swear I run through life stressed out more than the average person. It’s crazy ridiculous.

Today however, I decided to make time to write. I felt that this story needed to be told. For one- it’s absolutely mortifying, two- it’s hilarious, and three- if there’s another woman who has been suffering the same pain that I have endured for twelve years, this might help them get out there and fight for her health as well.

So a little backstory might help here:

For twelve years I have been dealing with chronic pelvic pain. There’s never a moment in the day that I don’t hurt. It’s so unbearable some days that I can hardly walk. My quality of life isn’t the best. Being in constant pain makes you exhausted (all the time!) and keeps you from doing the things you love for fear of suffering the painful consequences afterwards. I have been to just about every doctor in every different specialty you could think of to try and find out what the cause of this pain was. No one knew what was causing it, how it started, or even how to diagnose it. Do you know what it’s like to feel like a medical mystery? It sucks! Most of the time, I got told that I was either a junkie looking for pain pills (which I never did) or it was all in my head and I needed to see a psychiatrist. So, thinking the doctors might be right (about the crazy part), I did. There was nothing wrong with me other than an anxiety disorder (G.A.D) and a touch of O.C.D.  All these years, all this pain. All I wanted was a diagnosis. Just knowing what it was, even if there was no cure for it, was better than being in the dark. Finally, after battling with doctors, I took it upon myself to seek out someone who could help. I spent months looking for someone who focuses on this sort of thing. Finally, I came across a doctor at Loyola University who specializes in pelvic pain and went through the proper HMO channels to get to her. Here is where the story starts.

It was an hour long appointment where I went through my medical history, family history, the different doctors I had seen, and my life in general. Then comes the internal  pelvic exam. These are always fun for me…not. The doctor then proceeds to push on different parts of my vaginal canal and pelvic region reminding me to tell her when it hurts. When she pushed on one part in particular, I damn near shot off of the table and couldn’t help but start crying. OUCH! She took her gloves off with a huge smile on her face, staring at me the entire time…just grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

**Smiling? You just made me feel like I was going to die and you’re smiling?!?! All I could think was, what kind of sadistic situation had I put myself in? Oh God, I’ve handed my health care over to Dr. Kavorkian’s niece. This is how it ends.**

“Chronic pelvic myofascial pain.” was all she said.

I just glared at her. **still a little pist about her smirk** “What?” I asked her.

“Chronic pelvic myofascial pain. It’s what this condition is called.” she replied.

Dumbfounded. Flabbergasted. There were no words to describe what I was feeling. For so many years, I had heard doctors promise that they would have answers, promise to help. When they couldn’t help, I was let down every time and sent to someone else who let me down as well. I went into this appointment with the same expectation- to be let down. And here it was, what I had been searching for, begging for, for twelve long years. She proceeded to explain to me that my vaginal and pelvic muscles were in a constant state of contraction. With the muscles never being able to relax and constantly under an unimaginable amount of stress, it was like they were working out 24/7 365. That explained why I was constantly in pain and felt exhausted all the time.

**Now, mind you, I had just sat there for an hour trying to explain to this doctor that I wasn’t crazy; so my actions afterwards probably contradicted everything I had been trying to convey.**

I started crying…then I stopped and started laughing hysterically. She looked at me like I had lost my ever-loving mind and asked if I was okay.

“Yes, I’m fine. You don’t understand though; for twelve years I have fought with doctors about this. I have been told I was crazy and it was all in my head, that I was nothing but a junkie looking for pain pills. I’d had surgery after surgery, procedure after procedure, promise after promise and no one believed me. So to finally get even a diagnosis is huge to me. It validates everything I’ve been trying to tell people for years. But to find out that that diagnosis is basically, when you break it down and take away the medical jargon, a stressed out vagina… it’s…absurd! It’s crazy! Like, how do I even explain this to people?!? How do I look the people that know about this and are worried about me in the eye and explain this? Stressed. Out. Vagina…are you serious?!? Like, is this seriously something that exists or are you bullshitting me…?!?”

Turns out, there’s a way to fix it! I can actually go through life without pain. It would take some time, but there was a way to get my energy back and finally feel normal again; if I could even remember what normal felt like. I didn’t care what the fix was, I was going to do it. Well, that’s what I was prepared to say. When I found out what the treatments consisted of, I was seriously contemplating whether or not the pain was really that bad. How important was quality of life anyway? I mean…I made it this far for this long already, right? I left the doctors office a tad bit befuddled. On one hand, I was elated; I finally had answers. On the other hand, it was the tip of the iceberg. I was gearing myself up mentally for a series of mortifying events to come.

First treatment? Suppository vaginal Valium. Yep; that’s a thing, people. I shit you not. And I have it. My crotch is so friggin stressed out that it needs its own form of Valium. When I heard that, all I could think of was someone so doped up on Valium they were in a catatonic state…drooling. Then, juvenile as it may be, I pictured my poor vagina walking around in a drug induced stupor too and got a little nervous. 

I always get my prescriptions filled at Walgreens. Always have, always will. I’m actually on a first name basis with the staff; that’s how long I’ve been going there. But for this prescription…nope. Not doing it. So I went to a pharmacy all the way across town where no one knew my face or name…or so I thought. I walked in and sulked all the way to the drop off counter only to be greeted by a mother of one of the boys in my daughter’s martial arts class. FML. She wasn’t the pharmacist, but worked there next to the pharmacy. Instantly, I tried to look as hurried and busy as I could so that she wouldn’t feel the need to come over and say hi. I made it to the counter with nothing more than a smile from her; phew! Turning my head and placing my hand over my face, I discreetly slipped the prescription across the counter to the pharmacy tech. I never looked up to see if she received it or not. I just assumed that if she had any questions, she’d get my attention. “Um…what?” she says with a puzzled tone. Here we go. I looked up at her. You could tell she was trying to be professional, but was finding this piece of paper to be a source of confusion. She had her hand over her mouth trying to hold back a smirk.

“So…yeah. I’ve never seen an order for this before. I um… I don’t even think we have this…um…specific thing here. We’ll have to send it to our other pharmacy in another town. Let me call and see if they can fill it.” 

Grrreat. Even more people have to know about this. Good thing I never go to that town. Sensing a lull in conversation, martial arts mom comes to talk to me. I’m trying to keep it casual and distract her from the conversation the pharmacy tech behind me is having…to no avail. She must have gotten uncomfortable listening to it-since there were long pauses in our conversation (hearing words like vaganal, and suppository can be off putting, I’m sure) and excused herself. I started laughing and said…”life…huh?” I was at a loss for words. WTF else could I say? She probably thought I had some nasty new form of STD’s and was trying like hell not to catch them. Finally the tech comes back and informs me that they can fill it in the other town, takes my information and says I’m sorry as well as wish me good luck on the way out. I’m sorry? Good luck? Why would she say those things? What does she think I need this prescription for? Is she feeling empathy for my traumatized vagina? That could explain the “sorry”, but the “good luck”? Whatever. I just wanted to get out of there. 

Flash forward two days. I get a call that my recently embarrassing drop off is ready to be picked up. Unenthusiasticly, I go to retrieve it. As I walk in, I search for martial arts mom…not there. SCORE!  I head to the pick up counter only to be greeted by another familiar face. It’s one of the old pharmacy technicians from Walgreens whom I hadn’t seen for a while. UGH, I can’t catch a break. Of course with my luck, she remembers me and my name. We catch up a little and she goes to get my prescription. She can’t find it. She’s asking everyone if they’ve seen a prescription for (insert my name here). It’s finally found in the fridge. Fridge? She brings it to the counter and laughs. “Well! This is…new. Any questions about how to use it?” she laughs. “Nope.” I say. Even if the directions were in Chinese, I sure in the hell wasn’t going to ask questions. I put an IKEA desk together without instructions by myself and I could figure this one out on my own too. 

I get home and look at the package. MUST BE REFRIGERATED. F**k. Now, not only do I have this effed up prescription, but I have to keep it in my refrigerator. The same refrigerator that our company gets its drinks from. The very same refrigerator that said company rummages around in for snacks and food (our company is very comfortable in our home). How in the hell am I going to hide this? Now, I’m desperately trying to come up with reasons to give my husband as to why we need a $160 mini fridge in our room…because I don’t think hiding a suppository vagina Valium will be sufficient enough. In the end I decided…f**k it. It is what it is and threw it in the fridge for the world to see. My kids saw it, but that story is for another day.

Second form of treatment? Pelvic floor physical therapy. Sounds harmless, right? Wrong. I think this is the worst part of all. Since my muscles don’t know how to relax, they need to be taught how to. How do you teach muscles to relax, you might wonder? You stroke them. Not as sexy as it sounds given the setting and situation. I have to go into an office and let some chick put her fingers inside me and rub my muscles, for at least twelve visits, until they learn to relax on their own. My first question for the doctor when I heard this? “Um…can’t I just have my husband do that?!?” No. The answer is no, I cannot. So, what this boils down to is: I have to pay $30 every visit to get finger-banged by some stranger and call it therapy. Not to sound judgmental or anything, but it almost has a prostitutional feel to it. I have those appointments scheduled, but have yet to endure that mortifying task as off yet. 

My husband’s reaction to all of this:

“So…you basically have a prescription to cheat on me? Do I get one?”

“If the doctor is hot, can you take a picture so I have something for later?”






It’s a Good Thing You’re Pretty…

Well, I have been AWOL for quite some time now; I apologize. Things have been well…normal around here. Normal in the sense that home life is crazy, busy, and doesn’t allow for very much sleep. So-let’s catch up and reminisce. IMG_2325

My daughter the genius:

I often tell my daughter that it’s a good thing she’s pretty. She used to just smile and run off to do whatever she was doing. Now, she knows what it means and gets offended and runs off to cry. Pssshhhttt; once again, I’m the mean mom. I say this because it’s true. She’s beautiful beyond compare but damn, sometimes I wonder how she remembers to breathe in and out without being constantly reminded. For instance:

  • One day, while driving home, my daughter asked me why “math nerds” put math equations on their cars. Then she kept going on about how they were nerds and she would never put multiplication problems on her car. Confused, I asked her what she was talking about. Her response…”you know, those math nerds who put 4×4 on the side of their trucks; that’s so stupid!” All I could think was…dear Lord child, it’s a good thing you’re pretty.
  • Then, there’s the time she kept talking about dinosaurs, dinosaurs eating people, and drams. This was all going on at “Drastic Park”. Confused (which seems to be my normal mental state when I am around her), I asked her if she meant Jurassic Park, since we just watched it a couple days ago. Her response…”yeah, that’s what I said-Drastic Park!” ***I left it at that considering that everything with her seems to be “drastic”, so naming a park after her drama filled little life wasn’t all that surprising.***
  • She doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of what would be considered “proper” behavior, more specifically, proper behavior between species. One evening, after my son came home from a friends house, our dog peed on him. Our daughter asked us why the dog did that so we explained to her that dogs pee on things to mark their territory and our dog smelled another dog on him and was not happy. The next morning, I hear the kids in the back arguing. I go to the back to see what was going on and this is the scenario that I walk into: my daughter was trying to convince my son that she should be able to pee on him. Why? Because she wanted to let other girls know that he was her brother and they better stay away from him. YEP, MY DAUGHTER TRIED TO PISS ON MY SON TO MARK HER TERRITORY! ***Never in my life did I ever think I would have to tell any of my children that they could piss on the other one. Welcome to my life.***
  • She wouldn’t be able to save a life: I start coughing a lot and my daughter gets concerned…

Daughter: Do you need C3PO?

Me: He’s probably out with R2D2, but, thanks.

Daughter: Huh?

***It’s a good thing she’s pretty.***

I love her, with all my heart. There are times where she can blow you away with the maturity of her conversations, thought processes, and actions. Then there’s times where she says or does something that make you look at her and just think…how did you even get dressed this morning?! She makes our lives a lot more interesting (not to mention comical) and full. She was definitely the piece that made this chaotic family whole.

Dear future teenagers of mine…

I know that one day soon, sooner than I want, I will no longer be your “mommy”. When this dreaded day comes, I will at that point simply be known as the female parental unit you must reside with until you’re eighteen. You will think that your father and I are nothing more than stifling oppressors. We’ll be the ones who don’t remember or know what it’s like to be a teenager. When that day comes, you will possess all the knowledge the world has to offer and I will be so ignorant, you’ll wonder how I manage to not drown in my cereal every morning.

So, I decided that before this day comes and I lose all functionality to be able to parent you correctly without trying to ruin your life, I should write you this little helpful guide of what to expect, you know…to make your lives easier when that day comes. If you value your social lives, electronics, sports, or whatever you may be into when this time comes, you will take heed to what I have to say. If you don’t, you will lose everything you hold dear until the day comes when you finally grow up and realize that you knew nothing and everything I did, I did out of love.

Dear future teenagers of mine…

  • Been there, done that: I was an awful teenager. Your father was an awful teenager. Between the two of us, there’s nothing that we haven’t done. We’ve pulled every trick in the book on our parents and said whatever we needed to say to get what we wanted. We did every bad thing we were told not to. If for one second you think that we are going to believe every word that comes out of your mouth, you’re wrong. We are going to assume you are lying and hope that we are wrong. I hope that we are raising you to be better than we were at that horrendous stage, but because of our pasts, we’re not naïve; we know kids will be kids and you guys are going to make mistakes. Which brings me to my next point.
  • If you make a mistake, own it: DO NOT LIE. There is not one thing on this earth that you could do that would make us love you any less. NOTHING. We may be pissed, we may be disappointed, you may be grounded for the rest of your life, but at least you were honest. At least you have your integrity. Trust me, whatever punishment we dole out, it’s not gonna be half as bad as what you will get if we find out you lied to us. Once trust goes in a relationship, the whole thing falls apart. I don’t want to have to look through your drawers, read your diaries, or snoop through your computers and phones because I’ve caught you lying to me. **And don’t think I won’t do that. I will be like James Bond, Inspector Gadget, every C.S.I detective you’ve ever watched, and a bloodhound if I feel like you’re lying to me or hiding something from me. I will find out too!!!** That being said–
  • Privacy is earned, not a requirement: Simple as that. We will give you your space to do your own thing, to make your own decisions and your own mistakes. We won’t smother you and bombard you with a magnitude of rules that you can’t keep up with. We will trust you and give you your privacy and personal space. Don’t give me a reason to violate that space and I won’t. Lie to me or let me find out you’re doing things behind my back and everything you own will become plastic and see through…everything. I say that I most likely won’t believe what you say anyway, but the truth is, I probably will. I will more than likely believe what you have to say because I would hope that you would have more respect for me and my intelligence than to offer me anything else. I will probably believe you…until you give me a reason not to. Once that occurs, you may want to burn anything you don’t want me to find, because I will find it otherwise. I will even go so far as to take the door to your bedroom if you’re trying to hide something. **Yeah, you parents can say I’m crazy all you want; I don’t care. They’re not your kids. Feel sorry for them and move on if you’re that disturbed by it.**
  • I am your mother before I am your friend: Don’t get me wrong, I want you to be able to talk to me and tell me your secrets. I want you to feel comfortable enough with me to share anything and always be yourself. I want to have a friendship with you. But, my duty as your mother will always come first. I’m not going to buy you and your underage friends booze so you will like me or think I’m cool. I’m not going to condone you doing drugs—especially under my roof just so your friends think I’m cool and to make you like me. Your safety, wellbeing, happiness, and health are my number one priority. You’re not always going to like me, and that’s okay. If you hate me from time to time, that means I’m doing my job. Just know that even when you feel like you couldn’t hate me any more than you do, I still love you more than you will ever know.
  • You will never stay at a friend’s house unless I know their parents well enough to call them for bail money and I talk to them face to face and am assured that they will indeed be home the entire time: Like I said before—I played every trick in the book to do what I wanted and get away with crap. If you want to be able to stay with friends and get away from the house from time to time, you either accept this rule or get used to only having friends stay at our house.
  • I don’t give a s**t what so and so’s parents are letting them do—you’re not doing it: We are your parents. You are our children. You will realize one day that every parent has a different way to raise their children. Not all are going to meet eye to eye. We are raising you how we think is best. You may not agree with it, and it’s okay if you don’t. You can raise your kids different if you want. But, just know that essentially what you are doing is comparing us to your friend’s parents…and we don’t like that. If you want to do something that your friends are doing, ask. Make a convincing case as to why we should let you and we may just consider it. Don’t ever throw a fit about not being able to do something everyone else is doing though—because that sure as hell isn’t going to get you what you want.
  • You will know the value of a dollar and work for/earn what you want: We are not your ATM. We are not your sugar momma and daddy. You will know what it means to and know what it feels like to earn whatever it is you want. As long as you are putting forth the honest effort, we will help; but don’t think for one second that you are going to something for nothing. Your father and I want you guys to be appreciative young adults who don’t take things, especially money, for granted.

Your teenage years are going to be hard, confusing, fun, and will fly by quicker than you know. I know it will seem like the years will drag on, but trust me, you’ll blink and one day you will be writing to your children. I love you guys with all my heart and no matter how difficult your teenage years get, I will never stop loving you.

I hope that you were able to take something from this article; it could make it easier for all parties involved.

Save me…

As you all know by now, my children are nuts. I thought for this post, I would put together some of the headshaking moments that I have had to deal with. Are you ready? Good, because I’m not ready to relive most of these. Sometimes I wonder if anyone will come and save me from this asylum and these children. Their actions and some of the things that come out of their mouths are…ugh, where do I even begin? Here goes nothing…


I am probably the only mother in the world that has had to hide a jockstrap from her 8 year old son because he tried to wear it around like a pair of a**less chaps. Do you know how disturbing it is to tell your son to try on his cup for football to make sure it fits, and he comes out into the living room singing “I’m Sexy and I Know It” all the while dancing, gyrating, and twirling around in the jockstrap…without the cup…just jockstrap?! It’s really disturbing just in case you were wondering. But, it’s not the only time he did it, no. About every other day he would come out of his room and out of the blue, his a** was hanging out of the damn thing and he would jiggle when he walked just to add emphasis to the fact that he had his butt hanging out of this thing. It didn’t matter how much we threatened, and followed through with, grounding, he would constantly put that effing thing on and prance around. Hence, why it finally had to be hid from him. No one wants to see an 8 year old’s naked bottom twerking. Just. No. One. Who does that?!


Then, there’s my daughter. I’m pretty sure she’s going to grow up to be a serial killer. She’s just creepy! Listen to the song she made up and was singing. Actually, it was her Barbie singing it at its make-believe concert, but none the less, my daughter made up the lyrics. I was a little terrified that she may be genuinely disturbed in the head, and wondered what she honestly thought her father was capable of. I stood in the doorway, listening and contemplating whether or not I should call the cops and have them keep an eye on her in the future…just in case. Here’s the song:

If you break my heart, my dad’s gonna tear your legs apart

If you break my heart, my dad will shoot you in yours

If you break my heart, they’ll never find you ‘cause my dad’s an officer

If I don’t like you anymore, I’ll tell my dad you broke my heart

**Anyone else as worried as I am?! Mind you, she was five when she made this song up. Yeah…**


As I’ve said before, my son sleep walks. In turn, I don’t get very much sleep because I have to constantly chase after him in the middle of the night. It’s exhausting. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bags under my eyes flew to Paris without me. I’m a very light sleeper (thankfully, because my husband has found a way to practically die when he sleeps—no waking him up) so my son’s homebound excursions aren’t usually a big deal…until they are.

He is a wrestler, and a very good one at that. A few months ago, he was invited to be on an elite team that would represent Illinois in a nationwide children’s wrestling competition. It was down to the final day (Sunday) and his team was in line to win first place. The team to beat was Pennsylvania and the kids from there are tough. For starters, we didn’t get back to the hotel until 10 pm Saturday evening; that in itself sucked, because I’m usually knocked out by 9. After we got in, we went through the whole “wash you’re a***s, brush your teeth, then get in bed” thing. Then, after wrestling for two days, his compression shorts and singlet needed to be washed before the funk from the two knocked his poor opponents out before the whistle even blew. Washing that crap (along with some other dirty clothes) took forever and cost about the same as our mortgage…stupid hotel drying units. Finally the laundry was done and I could start laying out everyone’s clothes for the next morning and packing everything up. After all was said and done, I laid down and looked at the clock; it was almost 3 am when I finally fell asleep.

I heard shuffling at the end of my bed. There were a thousand things running through my head…”Were there critters in the room? Did I forget to close the door all the way and someone broke in? Is our friggin room haunted?!” I looked over at the clock…4 am. WTFudge?!? I have to get up in two hours! I peek over the blankets to see my son jumping up and down, going through his usual warm up routine before he hits the mat, and pacing at the end of my bed. **Seriously?! The kid hadn’t sleepwalked in a couple months and he’s going to pick tonight (or in this case, the a** crack of dawn) to start?! FML.**

Me: What in the hell are you doing?

Son: I’m getting ready for my Pennsylvania match. He’s gonna be tough to beat. I haven’t lost a match yet and I want All American. I just gotta beat him.

Now, I know it can be detrimental and dangerous to wake someone up during one of these episodes. That’s why whenever he has one, I play along with whatever fantasy is going through his head and say what I need to say to get him back in bed. But this, right now, eff that.

Me: If you don’t get your a** back in bed right now, the Pennsylvania kid is going to be the least of your worries. I. Will. Kill. You.

Son: But I…


**Side note: His team went on to win the entire competition and my son went undefeated, only giving up one point the entire weekend He was worried about nothing.**


The innocence of children and the cold hard fact that this world is messed up, never cease to amaze me. While I was folding laundry, I heard the kids were in the living room reading a Ripley’s Believe It or Not book. In that book was a blurb about a man who could squirt milk from his eye for so many feet. The kids start arguing as to whether or not this feat was actually possible, and after about five minutes of arguing, it got quiet. I figured the argument was over. Right about that time, I finished folding and went to put the clothes away. I walked past my son’s room and saw him and my daughter on his computer Googling something.

Me: What are you two doing?

Bradley: I’m looking up “squirting” so Lexi can see that it is possible to squirt milk from your eye.

In the search box: squirting…then he pressed enter. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! I ran to the computer and shut it off. I had never been so thankful that we had sucky internet than I was in that moment. My son stares up at me, dumbfounded.

Me: From now on, you don’t Google anything without asking me if it’s alright first. And, yes, it is possible to squirt milk from your eye, I will look up a video for it on my phone for you guys. You guys just don’t google anything!


As I sit here reminiscing, I worry that I’m not going to survive many more years of dealing with crap like this. I wonder if there is someone out there who will come save me from this mess and give me a break. I suppose it is after all, my burden to bear. Like they say…what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

The marriage manual…

 I feel very fortunate and blessed with the life I live. I have wonderful (although sometimes obnoxious) children, I’m perusing a higher education to better not only myself, but my family as well. I have a roof over my head and food on my table, and I’m married to the most wonderful man, who is also my best friend. Many people often times go through a divorce (or two…or three…), before they realize what went wrong and vow to fix it next time. Thankfully, I am not one of those people. After ten years now, I finally feel like I know what I’m talking about when it comes to marriage. Lover and I have been, happily, working on ours every day.

I hate when people say “when you’re with the right person, marriage is easy and shouldn’t be a lot of work.” or “when you’re with the right person, you don’t fight because you’re on the same page.” BULLS**T! If you don’t have the occasional spat, lull, or disagreement then there’s something else going on there; maybe you’re not having to work at your marriage because you’re with the wrong person. When you’re with the right person, you’re going to feel challenged at times, not complacent all the time. Those challenges will help you grow together as a couple. If you are in a state of bliss all the time, then one of you is lying, either to the other person or to yourself. If there’s nothing to challenge your relationship, you’re not growing and becoming stronger. Any time you have two individuals, especially of the opposite sex, there’s going to be issues. You’re not failing at your marriage if you fight, you’re strengthening it by overcoming those fights.

My grandparents were together for forty-five years before God decided to take my grandmother home. I had never seen two people more in love than they were. After all that time, they still shamelessly flirted with each other and exuded love in everything they did. And every day, they had to make a conscientious effort to make things work. When I was getting married, I asked my grandmother what it took to have what her and my grandfather had; I will never forget her words (not a direct quote, but more or less the gist of what she said):

First, you have to be willing to love the other person more than you love yourself. Marriage is a union of two people, not one, and is no place for selfishness. If you both do this, then both of your needs are met. If one of you are selfish and the other is not, then only one of your needs are being met, and that’s not fair. If both of you are selfish, then you shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place.

Second, you take that person for who they are; you don’t ever try to change them. Obviously, you fell in love with that person for a reason; don’t try and change it, because you might not like who they become. Accept them for who they are, flaws and all, and love every one of them. Now, you don’t have to like it; frankly there’s a lot of stuff grandpa does that pisses me off to no end, but I still love them. They are what make him, him.

And lastly, a man wants a wife in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom. Learn how to cook like a gourmet chef, be the best mother you can be to his children, and don’t ever say no when he’s feeling frisky. He’ll realize he’s got it good right where he’s at and never leave.”

I took it all to heart and have been happily married ever since.

Here is a list of some of the things I have learned throughout my marriage, and building upon the teachings of my Gandhi-ish grandmother, that have helped both of us grow and become better people together, rather than apart (after a divorce). I’m no expert and you can scoff at my list. You can choose to not heed my advice, and you can also choose to make your own manual, but this is what I have found to be true for me. I write this as a guideline, not a rule, to help others overcome the feeling that they’ve made a huge mistake in marrying his/her partner. I write this so those people who are desperately trying to salvage a marriage have something else, another perspective and tool, to try and fix things, so they can say they tried everything.  **no particular order**

  1. Parental philosophies: Before you have children, not while the wife is pregnant, not after the baby comes, but before all that, you need to discuss your parenting philosophies. I would even dare say during the engagement period would be an opportune time. Not everyone will agree on how to raise children. It’s better to know if your opposing viewpoints will rip your marriage apart or if they are something that is agreed upon (for the most part) and can be worked through. While that may seem like a bold and far-fetched statement…”how can parental differences destroy a marriage?”…they can. One parent could always feel like the bad guy and constantly be the “authoritarian”. One parent can constantly feel undermined in the decisions he/she makes with the children. If you put your children before your spouse, that spouse may feel less important and loved; he/she may even get a little jealous if they don’t do the same thing (put kids first). All of these things can cause rifts and animosity between spouses; that is why you need to establish clear lines on the upbringing of future children. Try to figure it out before it’s too late.
  2. Get rid of expectations: The only person who can let you down, is yourself. If you have high expectations for someone, and that person doesn’t meet those expectations, then you feel like you’ve been let down. Instead—have no expectations of how things or a person should be. This way, you’re never let down. If things turn out great, then awesome; it was a pleasant surprise. If things go horribly wrong, you can chalk it up to experience, move on, and use it as a learning tool; no harm no foul.–For example, say you’re taking a class and you expect to get an A in it. Then, you realize the class is extremely difficult and you barely make the cut for a B; you’re disappointed. You know that you worked your butt off and did your best, but you’re still upset that you didn’t get that A you expected; you feel like you’re not good enough and start questioning your own intelligence. Instead, go into the class telling yourself: I’m going to do the best I can, and whatever grade I get, I will know I earned it based on my hard work and dedication to learning the material. After that difficult class, you see you received a B and think, wow, that’s pretty good all things considered; that class was tough! Now, you feel good about your grade and yourself; you didn’t have any expectations that would set you up for feeling like a failure or letting yourself down.–There’s no disappointments in going with the flow. There’s no let downs if you don’t put expectations on things. Let your spouse be his/herself. Don’t expect your spouse to be something he/she is not, or something you think he/she ought to be. Just let them be; you may realize is that they are wonderful just the way they are.
  3. Make time for each other: There’s going to be times where life is going to get in the way of intimacy; it’s natural. Children, careers, extracurricular    commitments, and obligations are just a part of life that we all have to deal with. Yes, it makes for exhausting days at times. Yes, it makes it difficult to dedicate time to one another. But, there are things you can do to help. Force yourself to stay up a little later at night to talk and be intimate, or sit next to each other if you’re both watching television and be sure to touch in some way. Don’t confuse the quantity of time you spend with your spouse with the quality of time you spend with them. Just because you are in the same room, watching the same show, doesn’t mean you’re spending quality time together. It’s just time, time that could be spent talking and communicating, time that you could be using to show your spouse that they’re still important to you and that you still can’t wait to be next to them. I would take ten minutes of quality time, time where my husband and I hold hands or talk, over an hour of time we just spend in the same room staring mindlessly at the TV or a video game. We make time for all of the things we think we have to do, but don’t really have to do. Instead of doing the dishes, reading a book, or playing a video game, use that time to be with the one you chose to spend the rest of your life with. God could call your husband/wife away in the blink of an eye, and trust me, you don’t want to look back and think that you could have done things differently and spent more time with him/her…because you will never get the chance to relive those regrets.
  4. Leave problems between you two: We all need to vent, and it’s understandable, but leave other people out of it. If you and your spouse are having an issue, it needs to be taken up with your spouse. Don’t run and tell your best friend, they may not look at your spouse the same way and can even act differently around them. Don’t tell your parents; all they’re going to do is take your side, even if you’re wrong. You’re their baby and they will always have your back. And just like when you tell your friends about your problems, your parents may not look at your spouse the same either. Don’t tell your spouse’s parents your problems. That’s their baby, and just like your parents, they will always have his/her back. There’s nothing you could possibly say to them that would change the way they feel about their child. Also, they raised your spouse and you’re not telling them about flaws they aren’t already aware of. It can only cause rifts in the relationship you have with your in-laws. If you have to vent but feel like you can’t with your spouse at that moment, write in a diary or talk to a therapist. Just make sure that you take your issues to your spouse and sort them out. Don’t put people in the middle of your arguments, whether it’s meant to or not, those people are going to have to choose a side…you may not like the side they settle on. And, if you do happen to work things out after you’ve ran your mouth about your spouse, you look like an idiot and people are just going to take bets on when the next time you guys blow up will be.
  5. Make sure they’re being heard: You listened to what they said, but did you really hear what they said? We all fall victim to this issue, especially if you’re really upset about something. Whenever you’re in an argument with someone (and don’t lie), nine times out of ten, you’ve already got your rebuttal in your head about what you want to say; sometimes, you may not even let your spouse finish his/her sentence before you’re getting your argument out. **I’m dead right, ain’t I?**   I know, because I used to do it. You can’t truly hear what someone is saying when you’re focused on what you want to say. You miss out on the feelings your spouse is trying to convey because you’re too selfish to put aside your own thoughts for one minute to hear them out, not listen to them, but hear them. Listening only means that you heard words, but you either didn’t care to process their meaning or you don’t want to process them. Hearing means that you cleared your mind, listened to what your spouse had to say, processed his/her words, waited fifteen seconds to make sure that they are finished with their statement, then reacted to their statement…not the statement you wanted to make. Hear your partner out before you start an argument where there may not need to be one.
  6. Communicate: I think this one is pretty much a duh rule. Communication is the key to a successful marriage. If you can’t talk to your spouse, then why even be with them. While it’s understandable that some people may have a hard time dictating their feelings (I’m one of them), it doesn’t mean that you don’t or shouldn’t have to…because you do have to. If you have an issue with your spouse, how are they supposed to know if you don’t tell him/her? Your spouse wants to hear about the things you are excited about; tell them! Talk to them about the things that worry you or scare you, they may even be able to help ease those worries and calm those fears. Talking gives the sense of a deeper connection, an emotionally fulfilling connection. You should be able to communicate openly with your spouse without fear of rejection, ridicule, or judgement. If at any time you don’t feel you can do that, then you need to reevaluate your relationship and fix the issue. Your spouse should be like your best friend (not necessarily your best friend, but like your best friend). You should be able to tell him/her anything. It doesn’t even have to be orally. Lover and I used to have a notebook that we would write to each other in, especially when we worked different shifts and weren’t able to spend much time together; it was still communicating and connecting.
  7. Have fun: Don’t always be so serious. There’s a time and place when things need to be taken seriously, but why not have fun during the other times. Laughter is the quickest way to boost your mood.    Have fun with your spouse, tell jokes…no matter how awful, dance like no one is watching while you’re in the car, jam out to some corny song, just have fun. Being serious all the time causes a great deal of stress, not only on yourself, but for your partner as well. No one likes to walk on egg shells. Stressful situations in life are a given; it’s how you handle them that’s going to matter. If there’s nothing you can change about the situation, just laugh, make it feel insignificant, talk to your spouse about it, and try not to let it get you down. Maybe they can even help you find the silver lining in the situation. It’s not about how you handle the good times; anyone can hang in there when the good times roll through. It’s how you deal with the bad times that are going to make or break you; not everyone can stay put and not run away when times get hard.
  8. Innocent until proven guilty: Learn to trust what they say unless you find out otherwise. Snooping causes problems. Once trust is lost, it’s incredibly difficult to get back. If you can’t trust your spouse and take his/her word as the truth, so you go out and become an amateur sleuth, are you really sure you want to be married to that person? Unless you have a legitimate reason, reasons like you found panties or underwear in their car, or you just caught them red handed, there’s no reason for it. Accuse someone of something long enough, and eventually they will do it. Tell your spouse your concerns, maybe there’s a reason they have been acting differently. Maybe the strange number on his phone was a wrong number and you’re ready to chop his head off because a woman answered the phone. And after you’ve been with someone for a while, you can always tell when they’re lying, so talking face to face and expressing your concerns are the best way to handle the situation. Don’t let the accusations fly, however!! Just state that you are a little concerned with the way things appear and would like an explanation to put your mind at ease. Why stay with someone you don’t trust and have to spy on? It seems like a waste of energy…energy that could be put into trusting the right person.
  9. Be honest, even in the most meaningless situations: Little lies can add up. They can cause your spouse to question everything else you say. If you’re capable of lying to your spouse about even the smallest of things (like–you say you paid whatever for something and your spouse finds out it was more, or you say you didn’t go on a certain website and you really did), then they will feel as though you are capable of lying about something much larger. No one wants to feel like the idiot who is constantly lied to, but stays anyway…hoping that one day their spouse will be honest. It goes back to the “innocent until proven guilty point”, why stay with someone who you don’t trust is being honest with you? Why stay with someone who lies to you all the time?
  10. Affection goes a long way: Sadly, there will come a time when we get stuck in a rut, a lull, a routine. It will go from being hot and heavy, to–“when was the last time we even kissed…last month?”   We all get busy and forget to pay attention to our spouses from time to time. But, you need to make a conscience effort to show affection, even the smallest of gestures can go a long way. Kiss his/her neck while they’re cooking, hold their hand when you’re in the car, brush up against him/her when you’re passing in the hallway, or simply take them and plant a big kiss right on the lips, curling their toes. When the lack of intimacy starts, that’s when the problems start. You start to feel unloved, not wanted, or second best. These are also some of the feelings that lead people to cheat, both emotionally and physically. You don’t have to bend over the counter and take it right there for all the world to see, I’m not saying that; I’m just saying to show a little affection from time to time—every day if possible. It will let your partner know that you still want them and find them attractive.
  11. Respect his/her decisions: No one says you have to love, or even like, the choices your spouse makes; you do have to respect them though. This is a lot easier if you talk to your spouse first and let them know your reasoning behind a decision. I don’t mean little things, like why you cut your hair short or decided to grow a beard, I’m talking about bigger things. Things such as a career change or wanting to join the Reserves. Knowing why someone is doing something is a lot easier to handle and accept then a big decision coming from out of the blue and knocking you on your a**.
  12. It’s real life…not a fairy tale: Don’t expect your spouse to constantly be a Prince Charming or Snow White—it’s not going to happen. And, just to point out, they never go into detail about what happens after “happily ever after”, you know why? Because no one wants to read about fights, and Cinderella peeing with the door open, or Prince Charming gagging his beautiful bride in the car with his gas.    Remember that suggestion of letting go of the expectations, it applies to this advice as well. Don’t expect everything to be peachy keen all day every day. Real love isn’t like that. Real life isn’t like that. There’s no such thing as storybook fairy tales. There’s only real life fairy tales. Real life fairy tales are the stories where you find your Prince Charming, the guy who isn’t perfect, but is perfect for you. You two stay happy and in love…most days. You understand that everything isn’t always going to be easy and wonderful, but you’re willing to stick through those times to savor the good ones. You have your own happy ending. And it’s not the ending where you run off into the sunset on a white horse and have birds and rats cleaning your kitchen, it’s the one where you wake up to each other each and every day and think that, right where you are, is perfect and where you were meant to be. That’s the real life fairy tale.
  13. Include him/her in all activities and decisions: Before you make plans, before you buy something frivolous, before you change plans, talk to your spouse. Most times, either you’re going to do what you want to anyway or your spouse isn’t going to care; just give them the respect to at least make them feel like they are a part of your decision. That’s all they really want. Let him/her know that you care about their feelings enough to include them in your life. Money will definitely be an issue in this area. Money is a big cause of divorce. Make sure you are on the same page with each other when it comes to finances or it could be the downfall of your marriage. That doesn’t mean one person is a spender the other is a saver, or that one person controls and handles the checkbook. It should be a joint effort, this way each person knows and is aware of the budget and knows what they can afford, or not afford.
  14. Compromise!!!: Marriage has no room for selfishness. There are two of you now and two different views on situations. You’re not always going to get your way. Learning to compromise with one another is going to be the most challenging part of your marrage. Find a happy medium with the issues you’re dealing with. If you can’t find a meeting point at that moment, then shelve the issue and come back to it at a later date. This way you avoid arguments about it and you don’t end up saying something you can’t take back.

Marriage isn’t easy; it’s a lot of work. Just like anything that’s worth having and keeping, your spouse is going to need T.L.C.. Talk to each other, make time for each other, hear each other out, and be mindful and respectful of each other’s thoughts, decisions, feelings, and opinions. It’s okay to fight from time to time. It’s okay to feel like you don’t have all the answers. It’s okay that your life didn’t turn out like those stupid fairy tale books; it doesn’t need to be. Your life and your marriage is what you make of it. It’s just like a flower, if you tend to that flower, it’s going to grow and keeping coming back—getting bigger and bigger, every year. If you neglect that flower, it’s going to shrivel up and die, there’ll be no hope of salvaging that flower once the core is gone. Tend you your marriage, tend to your spouse, and be willing to put in the work it’s going to take to have your own real life fairy tale.

**Yes, I realize pronouns don’t match in this article quite often, but there were too many he/she areas and it started getting a little ridiculous. You know what I’m saying and what I mean. No need to criticize my grammar; especially when I know it’s wrong. It’s not like this article is being sent to some prestigious magazine and has to be perfect.**

Thankful day 19…

Today I am thankful for 6:00 a.m. 

I’m thankful for the hour and fifteen minutes I get every morning to myself. No husband. No kids. Just me. Rarely is there a moments peace in this house. Because of this, I wake up early to get my “mommy” time. I sit in the rocker, drink my coffee, and reflect on things. There’s no one to bother me. 

Between 6 a.m. and 7:15 a.m., is glorious.

Thankful day 18…

Today, I am thankful that I’m finally able to let my walls down and allow people in. 

I have always been a very guarded person. I’m not one to open up and talk about my feelings. I’m not one to shed a tear at sappy movies, or ever, for that matter. I had a great fear of commitment. I earned the nickname “run away bride” due to this. There was no one on this earth that would ever tame me or make me change my stoic facade. No one, until there was someone.

Because of him, I’m a better person. Because of him, I’m no longer a hollowed out shell of a human being. Because of him, I let people in. 

While it’s still a scary feeling, the feeling I get from connecting to others is much greater and satisfying than being cut off from them.

Thankful day 17…

Today, I am thankful for clothes.

Without clothes, I would scare the bajesus out of everyone. 

**sigh…I’m getting a little desperate here; reaching for s**t to be thankful for. Clothes? Really?! Come on, Lora! Pull your head out of your a** and come up with something better!! Pssshhhttt…clothes. WTFudge?**

I promise I will think of something worth reading for tomorrow’s post.