Tag Archives: marriage

31 Years Ago Today I Met My Hero

Image of the word LIKEHe thinks it’s so silly that I count the years since the day we met, but I like to think that deep inside he thinks it’s cute. πŸ˜€Β  Haha! I like to say my excuse is that I was in accounting and finance for over fifteen years so that’s why I can’t help but count things.

In any case, today is the 31st anniversary of the day I met John! πŸ˜€

It was before social media existed in it’s current form – mostly only blogs and websites back then – so I think it’s safe to say that John is my first “like” – haha!!

Marriage Madness: 3 Ways to Celebrate

j0227558My friend Kathleen told me recently that she likes the way I like to celebrate everything. This past month has put that aspect of my personality front and center as I worked to get my second book published.

When I finally finished editing Unexpected Superhero, I threw my hands in the air and high-fived God! πŸ˜‰ Then I made something delicious for dinner, opened a bottle of wine, and squealed when John came home.

Then I worked another couple of days to get the Kindle version of the book ready and for sale on Amazon. More good food – chocolate was involved this time – more squealing and celebrating.

First cover for the novel Unexpected SuperheroIt took me another week to get the print version out. (It just came out on Saturday! Woo-hooo!) Margaritas, baby! More celebrating.

I’ve been working full-time-plus on this book since March, plus many, many many months of work before that. If I had waited until Saturday to finally begin celebrating, I don’t know that I would’ve had the strength and energy to keep up so many long days in a row.

And that’s just a book! It takes a lot more energy to live with and love another person every single day for 40 or 50 or 70 years! So here’s my recipe for adding some positive energy to your marriage.

1. Celebrate Small Victories and Accomplishments
l those steps above, and many smaller ones, got some kind of recognition and celebration from me. And my wonderful husband usually joined in, if only with a “Good job, baby, I’m proud of you!” It gave me energy to keep going. Marriage needs that, too.Β 

Maybe it’s making the final payment on a credit card and making a ceremony out of cutting up the card and promising each other never to use it again. Maybe it’s unpacking that last box, or finishing the unfinished basement together. There is so much never-ending work in life, we need to add in some fun.

Do you need to spend all weekend doing lawn work and spring cleaning? When you’re done, make s’mores in the fire pit, or put up your beach umbrella in the back yard and listen to the radio and dance together.

Getting ready for a garage sale? Decide to take $40 of the proceeds and go out alone together doing something you both like to do – a favorite restaurant, a musical event, even if the $40 only covers the babysitter, you can go for a hike or a bike ride or something else that you like to do together.

2. Celebrate Big Victories and Accomplishments
is one might seem obvious, but when you’re going 100 miles an hour, you often feel you only have time for gassing up in the pit stop, and new tires will have to wait. I don’t watch NASCAR, but I’ve seen segments where a car’s tire blows and the driver knows he’s lost his edge. You can minimize this in your marriage, just like a great NASCAR team can minimize this in a race.

51aTy5leOkL._SY300_My friend Kathleen brought up my tendency to celebrate often when I asked how she was celebrating her third book coming out, and what is she going to do to celebrate finishing her contract on time, even though the fourth book wouldn’t be out for a few months yet. (No Ordinary Owl, book 4 of The S.A.V.E. Squad series, by Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Wright, comes out September 1. You can buy the whole set for your pre-teen in time for Christmas!) Lauraine and Kathleen and I went out to lunch together and make a big deal of it. I think it gave Kathleen a boost of energy to work on her next book.

These examples are to remind you of what you can be celebrating right now in your marriage. Anyone get promoted? Miss the lay-off? That’s a good reason to celebrate! Another month or another year of being cancer-free? Celebrate! The anniversary of the day you decided not to get divorced and work this thing out? Celebrate that day as well as your wedding anniversary.

3. Celebrate each other (and other people)
Some days I just feel like making John feel like the most special man in the world. No particular reason why. I want to eat whatever he wants, do whatever he wants, spoil him in whatever way I can. (Foot massages are often called for here.) Sometimes he looks at me suspiciously and asks me why. No, I’m not buttering him up to ask for something. πŸ˜› I just want him to know that I’m very grateful he’s a part of my life.

John and I also try to make a point as often as we can (and I too often feel I don’t do this enough with enough people) to celebrate our friends’ victories. Our friend Doug just bought a new house – yay! Our friend David just got promoted to detective – yay! Our friends Sean and Catherine are starting a new adventure in Virginia soon – yay! And those are just the things we celebrated this weekend!

Life is hard. We need injections of positive energy and gratitude to keep us going. Keep your eyes open and you’ll find all kinds of things to celebrate about each other and with each other. Without trying to dissect the biological and spiritual reasons why, the fact is that gratitude makes life better, easier, and more fun.

So find a reason to celebrate – and do it together!

Marriage Madness: 5 Ways to Have an Enjoyable Evening

I told John I needed to come up with an interesting blog post, and he suggested I write “5 Ways to Have an Enjoyable Evening.”

Sounded like a good idea.Β “Sure,” I said. “What do you think the top five ways are?” I grabbed a pen.

MV5BMTMzMzY0MTQ3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODU4OTAzMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR10,0,214,317_John tapped his first finger. “Good food.”

I agreed. We’d just had the best re-warmed leftovers – skirt steak, sweet potato, barbecued chicken breast, and some brown rice and lentils. I wrote down “Food.”

He tapped his second finger. “Good TV shows.”

We were watching “The West Wing” on Netflix at the time. Not what I expected him to say, but then, this is what we do most nights. Apparently, we do think good TV shows are part of what make an enjoyable evening.

“Okay, what’s next?” I asked, pen poised.

“Alcohol,” he said.

I laughed. “I can’t write ‘Drink alcohol’ on my blog. What if a recovering alcoholic or a teenager is reading it?”

“But we just had margaritas,” he argued, “and we love our wine club wines and-”

“I can’t say that alcohol is one of the top five ways to have a good evening!”

“Okay, chocolate,” he said.

“Done!” I wrote it down. We’d just finished our very first chocolate chip topped strawberry shortcake. Delicious! A margarita-inspired brainstorm, but I said I wouldn’t suggest that alcohol is necessary for a fun night.

“What else?”Β I waited.

John stared at me. His mouth moved a few times, but nothing came out. “Um…dessert?”

“We already-”

“Wrote down chocolate, I know.” He paused again. “Um…” He stared at the ceiling. “Oh! Wine!”

“John,” I chuckled some more, “I just said-”

“Oh yeah, I forgot.”

“You forgot because we’re drinking and eating too much and can’t think of what we did last night when we weren’t drinking!” I giggled.

John laughed with me. “Well, what else do we do?”

There was a very long pause.

“Stimulating conversation?” he asked in a I-can’t-believe-I’m-suggesting-this kind of voice.

I just looked at him. John loses interest after three sentences from me if it isn’t a topic he wants to talk about. I’ve learned not to be angry. Apparently, this is a guy thing. Or at least a husband thing. I’ve got that from very reliable sources. Including the secretaries on “The West Wing.”

“You would like to have stimulating conversation with me?” I asked dubiously.

He tried to look serious as he started to say “yes,” but as I raised my eyebrows he chuckled and turned it into a “no, not really.”

I shook my head at him and tried to hide my grin. “That’s what I thought.” I looked at my list. “That’s three. What are the other two things that make up an enjoyable evening?”

“Dessert,” he said.

“We already have chocolate.”

“Sex?” he asked with a smile.

“John! My blog is kind of PG-13. I don’t know that I should be talking about sex or alcohol.” It occurred to me that I should try to find out if any of my readers would even care if I talked about sex or alcohol.

(In fact, does the very fact that I typed that word three times in two paragraphs mean this post will be banned by some search engines? I really need to learn more about SEO and other blogosphere-type issues. But not on Saturday night.)

We looked at each other. We looked at the list. We looked at each other again and laughed.

“So I should change the title to ‘3 Ways to Have an Enjoyable Evening After 40’?”

“Nah,” he waved his hand, “leave off the ‘after 40’ part. Do we have any more chocolate?”

Marriage Madness: Working Together

j0316965When I started my self-publishing adventure, I had three choices – use up valuable writing time learning how to create books and covers in desktop publishing software, hire someone else to do it for me, or ask John.

John’s a great guy. He does all kinds of things for me and for us. (Not the least of which – can I say it again? – is to cook for us almost every day!) He used to be a professional graphic designer, and he created some really great graphics for me for prior businesses I’ve had. So I knew he could do it, and he’d be good at it. But would he want to?

I’ve always been especially wary of anything that remotely hinted at a joint business venture between us. Both of us can be quite opinionated and equally passive-aggressive, usually when we’re trying to “be nice.” πŸ˜‰

Would John say yes because I asked, but then later regret it? Would he be able to explain to me what I needed to decide in order for him to produce the kinds of graphics I would like? Would I understand what he needed without having to ask hundreds of questions and make him want to pound his head bloody against a wall?

Little Miss Lovesick 150x240He’s been wonderful, and he’s produced some fabulous book covers and other graphics for me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate his time and effort, especially since he has a full-time job that often requires him to work overtime. That means he’s making book covers for me during an even smaller period of free time.

That being said, I did overhear him saying to someone recently that it’s hard to have me hanging over his shoulder while he’s working. I had an image of a boa constrictor wrapped around his neck – and I wouldn’t be surprised if I was reading his mind!

On the other hand, we’ve gotten better at working at home together, separately. I go to my space and he goes to his. Sometimes we call out to each other from the other room, or kiss each other on the way to the kitchen or the bathroom.

We’ve finally gotten grown-up enough to leave the TV off for more than a minute and work when we need to instead of always running off to play. (We used to never be able to spend time together working. If we were together, we were playing. Like a couple of ten-year-olds!)

First cover for the novel Unexpected SuperheroSometimes we kick around story ideas that we say we might write together. Maybe we will. And maybe all the blood and gore will stay on the page and not come out in real life. But we have such a great relationship that I hate for anything to ruin it, or even just mess it up for awhile.

That uncomfortable feeling is what has led to many a conversation about whether I should find another graphic designer. But the book covers he’s done for Little Miss Lovesick and Unexpected Superhero are so good that I’m guessing I’ll have to pay a pretty penny to hire someone I like as well or better.

On the other hand, I can guarantee that I won’t find another husband I like as well or better! πŸ˜‰

Will we continue to work together? Only for as long as we can both be mostly happy with it. It’s worth the money to pay someone else to do what would lead to arguments at home.

Come to think of it, what an excellent excuse to hire a housekeeping service…

Focus on Your Strengths

IMG_0542“All right, you,” I said to John. “I need help thinking of a topic for my Marriage Madness blog this week.”

“You can always write about sex,” he said with a grin.

I tilted my head at him in the way that married women the world over have learned to do. “I don’t know that I can talk about sex on a PG-13 blog. More than that, I don’t think anyone reading my blog wants to read about sex. At least, not the way you’re thinking!”

He looked over at the kitchen that he had just cleaned, and that he was about to dirty again. “You could talk about how I do all the work around here.” At my look, he amended, “I mean, that we both do the work. Tit for tat.”

I grinned. “I said I wasn’t going to talk about sex. No tits.”

He reached for me. “I could make you change your mind.”

I giggled and pulled away.

“I meant,” he said, “you could talk about compromise, how I do all the cooking and you do all the bill-paying.”

“That’s because if we switched, neither of us would like the results.” I laughed.

“Well, that’s true,” he agreed. He waggled his eyebrows and gave me that we’d-be-poisoned-if-you-cooked-and-we-both-know-it look that he’s perfected over the last twenty years.

j0315542“Ha, ha, very funny. I was looking for something funny to write about.”

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought John had a point in there somewhere. Somewhere along the line – and I still say marriage is easier when you get married so young that you don’t know anything else – you learn what you’re good at, where to split up the household duties, and which duties to share.

After a while, we both learned how to do laundry without ruining anything. We both figured out how to scrub dishes well enough to not leave leftover broccoli on the side. (Though I would submit that I do it much less often.)

But John is an excellent cook, always has been. I’ve been a numbers girl from time immemorial. When it comes right down to it, we’re both happier doing what we are good at and avoiding what we suck at. It’s one of the ways we’ve found to make a pretty happy marriage.


Marriage Madness: Save Me a Seat?

Interior of a Movie TheaterOkay, so we go to the movies and there aren’t tons of people. We take the seats we want, others file in and choose seats they want, and no one is sitting next to a stranger.

Then there are the opening weekends. Lines. People waiting. Everyone is trying to get the best seat they can. And those who come in late, well…they take what they can get.

Unless Kitty is there.

See, Kitty can’t stand to think that the empty seat on either side of us would make good seats for some couple who comes in late. Especially if all we have to do is scootch over a spot.

John’s happy to move for a stranger to sit down. Assuming they ask first. If they don’t ask, they obviously don’t want to sit there.

And so begins the twenty-plus-year-old “argument” in the Bucholtz household.

Kitty is always reaching for her bag to pull it out of the seat next to her if anyone so much as looks her way. Last week, she went so far as trying to catch the attention of two couples looking for seats in the last minutes before the movie started. John did a bit of eye-rolling, but he knows her. She just can’t seem to help herself.

So which side of this ridiculousness do you usually end up on? Is this never an issue in your house? Or are you like us and it’s been an ongoing “battle” your whole life together?

Honestly, if this is amongst the worst of a couple’s arguments, I guess it can’t be all bad! πŸ˜€

Marriage Madness: How to Not Fight

Just Married with heart umbrellaIn addition to finding out when I got married thatΒ 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 rarelyΒ 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: 65 Days Without Cooking

When John and I were dating and then engaged, I was in an accounting/business program in college, and John was in the hospitality/food management program. He had a job in the industry at a local resort, plus he had various internships through school. At one point, he was an apprentice cook for a 4-star restaurant.

Oh happy day! πŸ˜€

potatoes-dauphinoiseI don’t like to cook. I love to bake when there’s time, but cooking means cleaning up means work, and it’s not work I enjoy. I’ll take the peanut butter and jam sandwich, thank you very much.

During John’s apprenticeship, I’m pretty sure we were newly married because I can see the kitchen of our first college apartment in my mind. He would come home from school or work with a recipe and keep making it until he got it right.

My favorite multi-try recipe was for Dauphinoise Potatoes. (Very similar to this recipe, only John used grated Swiss cheese instead of Gruyere.) John was unhappy with the way the first batch turned out, so he muttered under his breath and started again.

But all I could smell was cheese and potatoes. I’m a McIntire by birth, and few things make me happier than any kind of potato. Add some cheese (to anything!) and I’m your girl. So I asked John if I could eat some of the first batch.

“Go ahead,” he muttered, waving his hand as if at an annoying fly, “it’s ruined.”

So I got out a spoon. And the sounds I made probably sounded far to much like bedroom sounds because John stopped and stared at me.

“Oh. My. Gosh!” I took another big spoonful. “What is in this?”

I was a broke college student with a simple background. I don’t think I’d ever eaten anything with real butter and cream in it. (And I didn’t know that I had just started my journey to gain 40 pounds over the next eight years! John was a very good cook!)

One day I was in the kitchen – I think with my friend Rachel, who was engaged but not yet married if I’ve got the timing right – and we were talking about marriage.

“It’s wonderful!” I told her. “We’ve been married 65 days and I haven’t cooked a single meal!”

Apparently, me plus excitement does not equal true whispering. Because behind me I heard, “What?”Β in a deep, suspicious voice.

I turned around to find my new husband staring at me. “Um, I said, we’ve been married for 65 days.”


“And…you’re a great cook.” I smiled and raised my eyebrows in my best innocent look.

“You’re cooking tonight,” he said, and he turned and left the kitchen.

“Oh no,” Rachel moaned. “You had it and you lost it!”

“Crap. I don’t know how to make anything. What am I going to do?”

“What’d you eat in the dorms?”

I grinned. “Macaroni and cheese and hot dogs. John doesn’t like mac and cheese or ramen noodles anymore.”

Rachel started laughing. “Do it! You’ll be back on Easy Street by next week.”

She was right. John and I have been married 23 years now, and I can count on one hand the number of dishes I know how to make that I’m good at. On the other hand, I haven’t lost those 40 pounds yet.

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰ )

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 WriterΒ 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?

21 Years and Counting!

Today is my 21st wedding anniversary! Yay!

{{balloons}} ::confetti:: <<applause>>

The picture above is of us on the ferry to Manly last month when our friends were visiting us in Sydney. Aren’t I lucky?!

As you can imagine, I’m not getting much done in the homework or writing areas today. John told me he wants to buy me a cool leather briefcase now that I’m about to graduate with my Master of Arts in Creative Writing, and I’ve spent the last couple hours surfing the Net and YouTube looking at all the choices. Fun way to spend a morning!Β  πŸ™‚

But better than any present is the joy I feel that John and I have been together so long and still would rather be with each other than anyone else. I am immensely grateful to God for giving me such a wonderful gift!Β  πŸ™‚