Tag Archives: love stories

Marriage Madness: How to Not Fight

Just Married with heart umbrellaIn addition to finding out when I got married that I wouldn’t have to cook, I also quickly found out we didn’t fight. Ever.

We dated for two and a half years before we got married, and there were plenty of arguments during that time. Some passive aggressive ones, some noisy ones, most in the middle. So I expected that to continue, maybe even get a bit worse as we tried to figure out how to live with a roommate you loved and didn’t want to alienate.

But each day flowed nicely and easily into the next, seven days a week. Someone asked us a few months in how things were going. We laughed and said, “It’s been great! We never fight. Of course, we rarely see each other.”

Indeed, it was the perfect roommate situation – John’s hospitality job had hours almost exactly opposite those of my accounting job. I’d get up and go to work while John slept in, then he’d leave for work before I got home, returning after I’d gone to bed. Even his days off were the opposite of mine.

It was great for creating conditions for living together without conflict.

It was terrible for people who actually wanted to spend time with the person they loved.

We continued this pattern for about seven years before we finally found a way to spend more quality time together – change careers!

When we moved to Phoenix from Michigan – where all of our families were – we realized we had a wide-open opportunity to do anything we wanted. Our moms would never know what we didn’t tell them. Freedom!

Rainbows and MonstersSo John decided to follow his dream and go back to school and get an art degree, which eventually led to his animation certification. It was awesome! Even though he now worked crazy hours and went to school, too, we were so much happier. Then he graduated and got a job in graphic design. We worked the same days, same hours, and were home at the same time.

Then we had dozens of new things to argue about and the time to do it! After seven years, we had a real marriage! We were two cute little monsters in love.

 

Marriage Madness: The Beginning

j0309372Can you be truly happily married in the twenty-first century? I’m talking “till death do us part” long-term, forever happiness.

I decided to start a new column on Mondays – Marriage Madness – to explore the good, the bad, and the downright hysterical things that make up a good marriage. I write about Happily Ever Afters in my books, and I’ve been wanting to write about the real life Happily Ever After that I’ve been living. 🙂

In answer to my question, I say – Yes, you can be happily married! And I don’t say that lightly just because I’m a romance writer. I may write fantasy (the people I write about are imaginary, after all), but there is real Truth in my stories, too.

John and Kitty at HF2 wrap party

Me and John at the Happy Feet 2 wrap party in 2011

Yesterday, John and I celebrated our twenty-third wedding anniversary! We’ve been married longer than we were single! That’s incredible. I mean, when we met and I decided I was going to get this guy to fall in love with me and marry me, I thought that to be 45 was to be middle-aged. (At 19, 45 was over twice my age!) I figured people didn’t really have sex anymore at 45. I figured there would be no more date nights, no more surprises.

Surprise! I was so wrong! (Thank God!)

I believe that, like with so many things in life, being happily married is a choice. You have to choose every day that you’re happy with your decision to spend your life with this person. (Yes, sometimes it’s a difficult choice! For both of you! LOL!)

You also have to choose to nurture your romance like a plant. Remember that there is a certain amount of water and sunshine the plant needs – and not all plants need the same things. (Last week, when I got help repotting a tiny bamboo plant, I found out bamboo plants don’t need soil. Who knew?!)

For John and me, we need fun and laughter. We also need to be on the same path spiritually, both believing that God has an amazing plan for our lives and that we need to focus on that hope when times get tough. (Experience has proven us right on this point!)

I’m no marriage counselor, but I believe you can probably have a Happily Ever After marriage, too. 🙂

Our 20th anniversary party in Sydney, Australia, in 2010

Our 20th anniversary party in Sydney, Australia, in 2010

When was the last time you did something fun together? (John and I spent the whole weekend celebrating our anniversary – movies, ice cream, nice dinners, great wine, and that other thing I didn’t think “old” people did when I was 19!)

When was the last time you were honest with each other? (Um, try something positive first like, I love your gourmet hamburgers, they’re better than any restaurant. Let’s save the I-hate-that-you-leave-the-toilet-seat-up for another time. Positive first, then constructive suggestions later. 😉 )

If you want to catch up with my stories on marriage, I wrote a post a few weeks ago about How I Became a Romance Writer with pictures of my wedding dress. I also wrote a guest post at a friend’s blog called How Hotel Sex Turned Me Into a Romantic Comedy Writer. If you haven’t read that one, you’ll never believe the prank John pulled on our honeymoon!

What do you think? I heard a pastor say last month that marriage has moved into the top five things people are afraid of. Do you think that’s true? Do you think people can still have a Happily Ever After?

What Does Love Mean?

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I won’t be with my husband, I’ll be on a writing trip with friends. I’m not too worried about it though. I mostly think of Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday.

That being said, I don’t think you can say “I love you” too much. You never know when it will be the last time, but more than that, expressing to someone that you love them forms and shapes and repairs the foundation of your relationship.

But what does it mean?

This year, the day before Valentine’s Day is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Christian faith. Lent is a time of repentance, turning from the wrongs of the past, and pressing closer to God. It’s a reminder that God loves us so much that he’d be willing to take a bullet to keep us safe.

That’s the kind of love many romance writers weave into their stories every day. It’s most obvious in romantic suspense where one person can literally take a bullet for the other. But it’s in all the other stories where someone says, I’m sorry, I made a mistake, and the other person says, I forgive you because I love you. And then they grow closer than ever.

I love those stories!

Some people theorize that the reason people respond to stories of love and sacrifice and forgiveness and happily ever after is because we are wired that way. Our enjoyment of such stories opens our hearts to the possibility that those tales represent the Truth of why we are here. We are loved, we made mistakes, a sacrifice was made on our behalf so that we wouldn’t be lost forever, forgiveness was offered, and happily ever after is ours for eternity.

That’s a pretty amazing love story. Loved forever. I want that.

Much as I can’t wait for my writing trip, I’m going to miss my husband. I’ll miss waking up beside him every morning, trying to be the first one to say “I love you.” I’ll miss how much he makes me laugh. And as much as I’ll try to deny it, I’ll miss how much he teases me to the point of losing my mind.

Because somewhere in the layers of all of those things, I’ve found a taste of what love is all about – someone who sacrifices to make my life better, who always forgives me, who wants to be with me forever, no matter what.

Love is the answer to why I am here. It’s the answer to why I write about love.

My Silly Valentine

If we had kids, John would have a great story for an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” I’d bounced around from tiny country town to Ivy League university to the Marine Corps in less than two years. When we met in January 1988, I was marking time at the local community college, waiting desperately for the fall semester so I could return to my “real” school.

John was living off-campus with his twin brother, but he spent most of his time hanging out with his friends at West Hall. That just happened to be where I lived. When I asked him out on a date – I was a modern 80s woman – he grudgingly agreed. He was more interested in my bubbly roommate and Hot Rachel across the hall, but I was determined to gain his attention.

Our first date was a disaster. He was mad at me for something, then I got mad at him, and back and forth all night. By the time we ended up at his place where he introduced me to his pet rats, I decided the whole thing had been a terrible mistake. I wanted my kiss and then I’d leave.

See, when we were in college, it was sort of the “in” thing for girls to ask boys out if they really wanted to. Whoever did the asking paid for the date. And experience had taught us girls that boys assumed they should at least get a kiss after forking out the cash for a cheap dinner and a flick of their choice. So, having paid for those things that night, and having far less fun with Mr. Moody than I’d expected, I wanted the kiss I’d paid for and I’d be on my way. Goodbye and good luck.

The thing is, when I finally got that kiss – and it took a lot of work on my part to get him to give in – it was pretty darned good. Good enough to give the guy a second chance! 😉

A month later, smitten to the core by now, I waited to see what John would plan for Valentine’s Day. I was more than a little nervous because John’s twin brother had been telling him over and over, “Run far, and run fast!” We were 19 and 20, not old enough to buy a wine cooler, let alone a fancy bottle of wine. Neither of us had a car, there was no public transit in our town, and several feet of snow covered the ground. Where could we walk to besides the pizza place?

John invited me to have Valentine’s dinner with him at his place. He was in the hospitality program at school, so I figured I’d lucked out. I didn’t cook, so anything he made was bound to be delicious.

John was the perfect gentleman, taking my coat when I arrived and pushing me toward the heater to defrost. I’d only walked about a mile, but it was bitter cold out. When I thawed enough to glance at the table, I was speechless for a moment. Not a home-cooked dish in sight. But when I realized how John had prepared dinner, I began to smile. I don’t think a boy had ever gone to such trouble for me.

I think we had salisbury steak dinners and corn – courtesy of Swanson frozen dinners and the microwave. John took the food out of the cardboard containers and re-plated it on Corningware plates (the college student’s dinnerware of choice). He poured peach Faygo sodapop into glasses so it looked like champaign. Our paper napkins had fancy restaurant folds. Then he pulled out my chair.

I fell for him a little more.

We talked and ate and drank peach-flavored pop. For dessert, John went into the kitchen and made some noise. I heard the microwave ding and out he came with a steaming carton of microwaveable brownies. Yum! He cut the brownies and…the knife made a big globby mess. John muttered under his breath.

By then, I knew this guy was someone I wanted to make happy. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “Let’s just eat it with spoons.”

John got the spoons, but he was still grumpy that the brownies hadn’t turned out right. What he didn’t know is that I love brownie and cookie batter! Before long, we were laughing and feeding each other spoonfuls of sort-of microwaved brownies. More Faygo was opened and consumed. One of us joked that we didn’t need alcohol to have a good time.

By the end of the night, I was more than smitten. I was irrevocably in love. I never returned to my old Ivy League school. John gave me a promise ring that summer and we’ve been following each other around ever since. The only thing that’s changed since then is that we’ve learned you can actually become MORE in love every year. 🙂

That’s why I like to write funny, romantic stories! What about you? Do you have a silly Valentine’s Day story? Tell me! I love to hear stories about people in love. 🙂

 

Books I’m reading this week: Accused by Janice Cantore (it’s awesome!)

Movies I’ve seen in the last week or two: Red Tails, really liked it; Her Minor Thing, not funny enough for a rom-com; Chronicle, weird but cool.