Dear divorce

Dear divorce,

Thanks to you, I learned nothing on earth lasts as long as it should.

Dear divorce,

You spread the heinous lie that ‘happiness’ is on the other side of leaving, that it’s the only answer

You convinced them that ‘children are resilient;’ after all, we ‘want you to be happy.’

Dear divorce,

You taught me to trust no one, not even those who say ‘I love you’, not even myself.

Dear divorce,

You showed me how my world can come crashing down on me at any moment – so don’t get too comfortable.

Dear divorce,

You made nights slow torture as I tried to manage the pain in the darkness alone.

Stop crying

Stop crying

Stop crying.

Dear divorce,

You taught me to isolate myself, to keep my distance, to remain unattached, to fear instead of love.

Dear divorce,

You made me desperate for attention but wary of affection.

You convinced me to cling instead of trust, because they will leave.

They will.

Dear divorce,

You caused guilt to follow me every day of my life. Guilt that envelops me, though it wasn’t my fault.

It wasn’t my fault

It wasn’t my fault

It wasn’t my fault.

Dear divorce,

You made closeness feel impossible, love seem unattainable.

Dear divorce,

You made me feel unlovable – that I am not worthy and never good enough.

You told me that something is wrong with me – it must be.

Dear divorce,

You filled me with rage but gave me no way to express it. You told me to shove it down, deep deep deep.

I’m angry

I’m angry

I’m angry.

Dear divorce,

You left me with the heart of a broken child, a heart too weak to love, too hurt to be held.

It hurts.

Dear divorce,

You stole my haven, my comfort, my security. You just took it.

You bastard.

Dear divorce,

You’ll never know what it’s like to make a vow to someone and keep it until you die.

You’ll never grow old with the person you promised “till death do us part.”

You’ll never experience the unconditional love from one person all of your days.

You’ll never know what it’s like to come home to the same people, the same person, year after year.

Dear divorce,

You’ll never know what they mean: the words ‘love’ and ‘family’ and ‘stay’.

Dear divorce,

You will miss out on countless moments: Hugs and kisses, tears and breakthroughs, fights and grief, forgiveness and reconciliations, firsts and lasts. You lost them and you will never get them back.

The ghosts of memories will haunt you until your lonely death.

What could have been.

You’ll never know what could have been, what was on the other side of staying – the forgiveness, the grace, the love.

I pity you.

Dear divorce,

You thought you had me. You believed I would buy into the treacherous lies, but I won’t.

You have led many others astray, lured them with your siren’s call, but not me.

I will never be yours – I have seen too much.

The charm of ‘freedom’ is only loneliness. The happiness you promise is empty – a black hole of egotistical wishes.

I know the suffering, I know the fallout, I know the pain. I know.

I will never choose you – not as long as I live.

You are dark, sad and alone.

I pity you.

Dear divorce,

Thanks to you, I know that I will never be yours.

I’m not ready for marriage, but I’m doing it anyway – a man’s perspective.

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Last week I proposed to my girlfriend and, amazingly enough, she said yes. If you knew me, you would know that is nothing short of a miracle.

As I began to share the news with family and friends, a trend developed among my male cohorts. Their response took some form or another of the sentence, “Wow, dude, that’s a huge step, I didn’t know you were ready for that.”

My response was: “Well, I’m not ready, but that’s not really the point.”

They weren’t expecting that answer.

My friends were expecting something like what we hear in movies or from guys who are unwilling to be vulnerable with one another: “Yeah man, trust me, when you meet the one, then you’ll just know!” As if you know your love is real when you experience this magic voodoo feeling of clarity that will just overwhelm you when you meet the right person.

But if I were to say something like that, I’d be lying. And I usually try not to lie.

This outlook which is expected from us is in fact the soul crushing myth perpetuated by those who claim that love is nothing more than a feeling.

So why do my fellow men ask that question? Why have I asked that question of others in the past? Because for most guys, this phantom thing we call being “ready” is our bulletproof excuse to delay doing the best thing in exchange for the easy thing.

Just look at the three hallmarks of how the current culture does romantic relationships and it’s easy to see how good men have gotten at delaying commitment.

  1. Safe Sex: The reasoning goes something like this, “Well, we need to know if we are sexually compatible right? It’s a huge part of a relationship! But we aren’t ready for kids. Instead, we use contraception which allows us to have safe sex and know if we are compatible. Win win!
  2. Live together before marriage: “How else are we supposed to know that our relationship can work before making a lifelong commitment? We have to be sure, and living together is practical. It makes sense. It’s safe.”
  3. We should get a dog before we get a kid: “We don’t know if we want to have kids yet. We want to travel and just do us for a while. We’ll just get a dog and see how that goes. After all, with divorce rates being so high, we should practice being parents together before bringing kids into the world. It’s the safe thing to do.”

All of this is nonsense. Safe sex is a myth. People who live together before getting married actually have higher rates of divorce than those who don’t. And having a pet is NOTHING like having a child of your own.

If the wise people in my life, the ones who have been married for 25+ years, have taught me anything, it’s that you can never be ready for something as big and beautiful and incredible as a lifelong commitment to another person. Being ready isn’t the point. Freely and willingly choosing to give your significant other everything you’ve got, for as long as you’ve got it, is.

The real tragedy is that when men delay doing the best thing in exchange for the safe thing, we deny ourselves the ability to thrive. When a man defends, protects, uplifts, glorifies, loves, and serves a woman, yes he gives up his independence, but in return his life is elevated to an entirely new level. He goes from coasting to thriving. From passive to passionate. From selfish to courageous. From a good man to the man of your dreams. And that’s not by some uncontrollable fairy magic, that’s the power of love as choice.

Unfortunately, what women have failed to realize is that they are complicit in this. Women set the standard for the relationship. Not men. And most women let men off the hook. Ladies, if you really loved him you would challenge him to be more than a safe bet. You would challenge him to reclaim the power of choice. And you would challenge him to love you the way Jesus loved the world in his time on earth.

In the hours before he was arrested, Jesus said something to his disciples that really knocks me out. He asks God, if possible, to spare him of the immense impending suffering. He essentially says, “I don’t want to do this. It would be much easier for me to open the gates of heaven without having to suffer so please don’t make me do it.”

Now, I am no scripture scholar. Nothing even close. But, what I read here is that Jesus identifies the complex surge of emotion humanity experiences when we are faced with the hard choices. It’s this feeling that, we know we are meant for something and we know we desire it deeply, but we don’t want to do it because our fears are yelling things at us like, “what if it’s really hard?” or “what if I fail?” or “what if I am not good enough?” or “what if it doesn’t work out!”

Jesus knew his mission in life was to destroy the power of death and save the world. And he had a truly deep desire to do it. But he also had a moment of gut wrenching hesitation before doing what was required to accomplish his mission. However, contrary to what our culture might say, the solution wasn’t for Jesus to feel better or find some safe way out. The solution for Jesus was to stare directly into the eye of his fears and choose the better path anyway.

The same goes for all of us. Especially men in relationships.

The honest truth is, I am not ready for marriage. Marriage scares the crap out of me!  

I’m afraid of committing my entire life to one person. Terrified of accepting this incredible person’s love knowing that there is a really good chance that I will do something massively stupid that will hurt her. And, of course, scared of exchanging my independence for a life devoted to someone other than myself.

That kind of fear doesn’t get vanquished by some magic clarity that comes with “the one”. It’s still there and it will remain there even after I say “I do.” But that’s ok. It’s natural.

I didn’t propose because I was ready. I proposed because deep down in my soul I know God created me for marriage. I proposed because my future wife is an incredible woman and the life partner I don’t deserve but got anyway. I proposed because I love her more than I love myself. I proposed because she challenges me every day to become the man God created me to be. And I proposed because I want nothing more in life than her eternal happiness.

And that, my friends, is the point.

By Jack Beers

Marriage is an adventure – like going to war.
GK Chesterton

Love is/Love does

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“If my inward coldness has burned you some way, please know, please know I’m sorry.”

Alanna Boudreau


Love is difficult
Love is beautiful
Love is sacrificial
Love is tender
Love is heroic
Love is forgiving
Love is painful
Love is miraculous
Love is sweet

Love is thoughtful
Love is vulnerable
Love is delightful
Love is meek
Love is intentional
Love is steadfast
Love is humble
Love is strong
Love is attentive
Love is grateful
Love is fruitful
Love is powerful
Love is obedient
Love is merciful
Love is receptive
Love is mysterious
Love is docile
Love is fierce
Love is gentle
Love is courageous
Love is free
Love is a choice.

Love commits
Love heals
Love gives
Love grows
Loves cherishes

Love submits
Love perseveres
Love protects
Love reveals
Love admires
Love accepts
Love dotes
Love affirms
Love corrects
Love assures
Love endures

Love consoles
Love laughs
Love moves
Love fights
Love trusts
Love resists
Love mourns
Love misses
Love understands
Love respects

Love disciplines
Love listens
Love stays
Love unites
Love transforms
Love prevails
Love never gives up.


As someone who tries to love and fails quite often and in the most clumsy of ways, sometimes it helps me to think about what love really means.

This list isn’t comprehensive, I’m sure you can think of more items to add (help a sister out and share a few!). But it’s a start. The important thing is to never, ever, ever give up. If we keep trying, we will eventually, haphazardly, brokenly achieve something that looks like that ⇑.

Just don’t try to do it alone, that was my mistake. Rely on Grace, it’s the only way…I promise.

Who’s the greatest Lover? You said You are I Am.

Alanna Boudreau

#alltheAlannaquotes #fangirl

Most importantly, please, please remember that you were made to love and be loved.

xo

Miranda

Phil Dunphy & what we actually want from men

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If you’ve ever seen Modern Family you probably know and love Phil Dunphy.

He is the sweet, hilarious, goofy, loving father and husband in the Dunphy family with some pretty amusing lines. As an example, here are a few of his ‘Phil-osopohies’

And:

Or my favorite favorite:

Phil is so endearing, one of the qualities that makes him so is his…cluelessness. He can be a little naive sometimes and Claire (his Type A and at sometimes scary wife) often has to step in and well, take control.

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While I laugh a lot at Phil’s antics and think he’s the sweetest dad/husband, I struggle a little bit with the dynamic between him and Claire.

I think today the media often portrays fathers/husbands as these clueless, goofy and kinda dumb caricatures that are entertaining but not really functional as head of a family.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love goofy guys. Love them. Like, they’re my favorite. But, I think what women need (and want) even more is men who step up (note: these aren’t mutually exclusive, keep reading).

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Now, you may be thinking, ‘why does the head of the family need to be Phil? Claire is a strong, intelligent, competent woman, why can’t she have that role?’

Good question.

I think an even better question could be, ‘what does Claire (or any woman) really want?’

Do we want to constantly have to take the lead? Do we want to call all the shots? Do we want to have to be the ones who initiate always? Because in taking away man’s ability to lead, that is what we are communicating.

I think women sometimes allow our desire for control get a little out of hand. To the point where our husbands/boyfriends are little more than accessories or people to pose with for Instagram pics. We’re only happy with them when they do exactly what we want them toWe often take decisions out of their hands and eagerly initiate interactions or make judgements for them.

We text them first, we plan all the dates, we plan everything for that matter, we take charge, we lead.

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This isn’t always healthy, because where does the need for control really come from?

The answer is fear.

We ‘need’ to control because the man can’t handle it/won’t do it/will fall short. So, instead of facing rejection/a poor result, we take matters out of their hands.

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Unfortunately, what happens when we perpetually take over is that we deny men the opportunity to be decisive, to take action, to pursue us, to show us they care.

As a result, we eventually start to feel frustrated and resentful that these men we love aren’t showing their love, aren’t doing their part. Doubts and insecurities start to creep in, do they really love us? Are we wanted? Do they appreciate and value us?

What we really need from men is for them to step up, to take action, to be men.

I don’t want to spend my life chasing after a guy. I don’t want to have to make big decisions by myself. I don’t want to feel resentful or unappreciated.

I want to trust him, to rely on his judgment and to know that my family and my heart are in good hands.

I love Phil, I love goofy guys. I also am type A, like Claire.

I think we can have both and. It doesn’t have to be either he’s goofy or he’s a leader. Either I’m laid back (ain’t happening) or I let him lead.

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I think that as women we can help this dynamic out by letting go of the reigns a little and relinquishing some of our control.

Just see what happens over time if you don’t make plans, if you don’t reach out first, if you let him decide where to go/what to do.

The reason we should do this is to allow room for a give and take in the relationship. By that I mean allow us as women the opportunity to be receptive. Receptivity can be very feminine (as reflected in our bodies). However I think a lot of times we override our natural inclination toward receptivity because it requires us to trust and just be. ‘Doing’ feels so much better because we think we’re in control, we know what the outcome will be; there is no room for ‘what ifs’ or disappointment. But if we never give ourselves the chance to be receptive to our man’s love, how will we know it’s really there?

Trust is a requisite of loving relationships, and trust necessitates uncertainty. Otherwise it wouldn’t be trust, it would just be knowing.

This doesn’t mean we can’t ask for what we want, share how we feel or that we somehow have to become something we’re not (for example trying to be ‘chill’ when we’re just not). It really only means that we can relax.

He’s got this, it will be okay. 

Maybe you will be let down at times – a normal part of life and relationships-, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your man steps up to the plate.

Isn’t that what we really want anyway?

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Dear Fathers: What I wish my dad had known before he left

Until recently I used to always roll my eyes when I heard the term ‘daddy issues.’

To me it was just an excuse girls used to wear dresses that are too short and sleep with men they knew didn’t care about them. After all, my dad moved out after my parents got divorced and I didn’t go around in skimpy dresses hooking up with guys I barely knew.

I was convinced that I had been unaffected; that ‘daddy issues’ was just a made up term by Hollywood or a misguided psychologist.

In fact, it wasn’t until over ten years afterward that I started to suspect that maybe, possibly I was wrong (there’s a first time for everything!).

I had always been anxious around men and very distrustful of them, something I never questioned. To me that was normal. Why would you think a guy was good? They might be cute, or funny, or charming, or talented…but not trustworthy. And I was more than okay with that. To me thinking any differently was just being naive.

I watched as my friends got hurt over the years while patting myself on the back for not making their same mistakes. I knew better than to try ‘putting myself out there.’ ‘Miss Independent’ was my theme song and I was proud of it (Kelly Clarkson’s version, not Ne-Yo’s).

Of course I did get hurt – heartbroken- in fact. I liked guys and was disappointed by them; but I mostly kept this to myself. It never got far enough that many others knew or that I was particularly invested. When it finally did go wrong, I felt oddly satisfied that I had been right about them all along. Guys couldn’t be trusted, not even the ‘good’ ones. Not even the ones that said ‘I love you.’

That is what I believed. Until I actually met and really liked a good guy, and then I was in trouble.

Big time.

The problem wasn’t him. The problem was that I treated him like every other guy I had known (or thought I had known). Suspicious, questioning, doubting, accusing, undeserving of my trust or the benefit of the doubt…not at first, obviously; but the more I got to known him the more I felt comfortable expressing anger toward him, even when he most definitely did not deserve it.

I became more and more frustrated with myself as I tried to trust and failed repeatedly. Why couldn’t I just have a little faith? Why was I sabotaging this relationship that was so precious to me? Why was I hurting the man I loved so much?

The answer that kept coming up and that I persistently dismissed was this: maybe it was because dad left.

Fathers teach their daughters how to be loved. They are meant to cherish and dote on us. They tell us we’re beautiful and smart and set the standard of how we are meant to be treated by men. They are our rock, a figure of strength and stability amidst the chaos that is growing up in today’s world.

But that’s not what I learned.

What I learned was that men leave, and that it might be my fault. Something about me could be innately unlovable. Because if I was lovable, he would have loved me; and if he loved me, he would have stayed.

Cognitively, at the age of 23 I understand that his leaving had little to nothing to do with me. I also understand that my dad had his own demons that were instrumental in his decision to leave, and that he did not mean to hurt me. But the damage was done. To undo 10 years of deep hurt that was pushed down and strong defenses that were built up is a monumental task. I had to become something unnatural to survive, tough and angry, something not compatible with my naturally sensitive demeanor.

Experience is the most powerful teacher and my parents’ divorce and my father moving back overseas afterward is probably the most defining moment of my life so far. As much as we try to tell ourselves it’s not, divorce is traumatizing and destroys families and the individuals within them.

I’m lucky enough that my dad calls me almost every day. He cares about me, certainly. But unfortunately, phone calls will never replace the presence of a strong, loving father, day in and day out.

‘Daddy issues’ are real (even though I still hate that term). I say all this, not to evoke sympathy, but as a plea to any men out there. If you are married, or thinking about marriage – especially if you are a father – understand that your role is irreplaceable and that you are needed more than you will ever truly know. Your marriage is not just about you, if you have children, regardless of whether or not they are aware of it, they want to be loved by you; and your leaving will affect them for the rest of their lives.

I suffered a lot at the age of 12 when my parents separated. 10 years later it continues to haunt me as I attempt to navigate my way back to trust with someone who actually deserves it. It has been immensely difficult for both of us and not something I would wish on my worst enemy. No one should have to deal with this, but I know many do. Two Christmases, Thanksgivings, weekends shuffling back and forth between houses, step-parents…it’s not normal. As a culture we’ve convinced ourselves that it is, and twelve-year-old girls everywhere are being completely heartbroken by the one man that is supposed to love them the most, by the one man that was supposed to know better.

I wish dad had known that before he left.

‘Promises’: Demi Lovato & what I wish I had known about my parents’ divorce

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For at least a month (up until last week) I was driving around with no radio. I know…the horror. My car radio (intelligently) locked me out after I had the battery replaced and even though I looked and looked, could not find the code for it. I finally called Honda a few weeks ago and they attempted to help but after a little bit on the phone were also unsuccessful.

Resigned to the worst, I was preparing myself to visit the Honda dealership in person when Nicholas rode with me one day and – as I was telling him the radio malfunction saga – he pressed a button that miraculously turned on the radio for the first time in weeks.

I wish I could say that I was surprised, but things like that happen to him all the time…and I’m not bitter about it at all.

Having had a fair break from the current radio stations, I was eager to catch up on the latest releases. One that stuck out to me was by Demi Lovato called ‘Promises.’ The gist of the song is that love is difficult and so even though I care about you, ‘promise me no promises.’

I was a little disappointed at this message, especially because it’s not the first or second or tenth time that I’ve heard it spoken to me from various sources recently. I think my generation has become very guarded and as I’ve gotten older I’m starting to understand why.

From 1960 to 1980, after the no-fault divorce bill was passed (saying that you could get a divorce without proving spousal wrongdoing), the divorce rate more than doubled.

A lot of us millennials and some from those in the previous generation (gen x) were born to those parents.

Ex: my mother and myself. We were both born into families whose parents went on to get divorced.

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What has occurred as a result of this breakdown in the family, is that we are terrified of making a promise that could later on be broken. What we have learned is that a vow doesn’t mean anything, it is unsafe. I can say ‘I love you’ and still walk away. Marriage, therefore, has lost it’s place in society as an outdated and ineffective tradition.

We treat relationships lightly and avoid getting attached at all costs.

The problem with this, is that family is the foundation of society. We learn to love in the home. The best example we’ll ever have of love is that which our parents show us through their love for each other. That is why we are falling short today, we don’t know how to love.  It is something we have to learn, we are not born on an island; our ability to love, our identity and sense of self are all things we develop in relation to others.

I wish I had known all of this earlier; my dating relationships have been made dramatically more difficult because of my own experience of what happens when we fail to keep our marital vows. We make a vow for a reason, it is not meant to be broken. Not merely because of the heartbreak that happens to the individuals who were married, but because of the damage it does to the children affected and society at large. The children of divorce live with that for the rest of their lives.

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Distrust, skepticism, and overwhelming fear often get the best of me, leading to strife between myself and the person I love. These thoughts and feelings aren’t things that come from nowhere, they are leftover from the reality that I’ve seen what happens when our love falls short and the pain that it causes. It honestly has gotten between us over and over again. I am constantly battling the voices in my head telling me to run…I am wary of being hurt and willing to do just about anything to avoid it. At times it is excruciating, exhausting and entirely discouraging for both me and my s/o. Experience and the fear it causes are powerful forces, more than I’d like to admit, however it is evident in myself and the culture around us.

This secondhand effect of divorce is rampant in people my age who refuse to ‘settle down’ and avoid family life altogether. We have, instead, become concerned with career achievement and having a good time. While these are good things, they are not the best things. The most convincing lie out there today is that you can’t have a good job, have fun and be married with children. It is either one or the other. If that were true, then I wouldn’t blame anyone for not ever wanting to get married, that sounds awful!

The reality, however, is that family life doesn’t steal our joy, it increases it. The studies concerning singles vs. married couples shows us that married couples tend to be happier.

This makes sense, because we are made to be in relation to others. We are born into families for a reason. Our deepest joy doesn’t come from getting drinks with friends (again, not a bad thing), it comes from loving and being loved deeply.

I know how discouraging it can be when people left and right are leaving their marriages. I know what it’s like to grow up convinced that family life is for the sitcoms and love doesn’t work. I know how hard it is to love when all you know is what happens when we don’t love.

However, Nicholas reminded me in a moment of frustration that hope is a virtue because it only makes sense in the context of hopelessness. If things are just fine, we have no need for hope. We need it when we are most tempted to despair.

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As millennials get older, I hope we realize the absolute necessity for family life. I hope we’re brave enough to give it our all, even if we’ve seen others who haven’t. I hope we learn to prioritize what is truly important and to overcome the fear that tells us to run the other way…because if we don’t, I guess I’m not sure who will.

It’s up to us to undo the cycle of broken promises and give the generations after us the opportunity to be learn what it means to love and to love others themselves.

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If I could write a love song: My response to Maren Morris

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When I was seven or eight, I had an altercation with my BFF (shout out to Maria in NYC!) and decided to write a song to her explaining how I felt.

It didn’t end well. Unlike Mozart or Lil Romeo I was not a young musical genius and so my music writing efforts didn’t result in much.

However, I’ve always enjoyed music and loved expressing myself that way. I played violin through college and have always loved listening to music too. Early on Taylor Swift was my girl (she sings about boys, what else do you care about in middle or high school?). Even now I love coming across a song with lyrics I relate to and a sweet tune.

Recently, country singer Maren Morris’ song ‘I could use a love song’ has been stuck in my head. I think she really hits the nail on the head as to how a lot of us feel today in regard to relationships. Despite overwhelming cynicism in our generation, a part of us longs for romance and the kind of love that lasts a lifetime. As much as we fill our lives with work and friends and hobbies and a date or two, part of us is longing for more.

Having been in a committed relationship for the past few months, I’ve learned a LITTLE bit (just a tiny bit) about what it really means to love someone…and unfortunately it’s not in any of T-sizzle’s catchy tunes. If I could write a love song, Maren Morris, I would. But I can’t because it would be terrible. But if I could, here are some things I would want to say:

Love doesn’t feel good.

Okay, sometimes it does. Sometimes you’re smiling and laughing and feeling warm and fuzzy. But a lot of times it’s a lot less like the Notebook and a lot more like a documentary that’s a little too real or even slightly boring. Loving someone isn’t just a feeling, it’s choice that you make over and over…even when it’s hard. There are times when you’re both really tired and just sitting there next to each other has to be enough. There are times where you go out with their work friends and feel a little awkward and left out. There are times where you disagree on sensitive topics or even really little things like whether gages are cute or not (they’re not…just so we’re clear). There are times where the person will disappoint you; whether it’s something they did now or yesterday or when they were in college…none of those times feel good. But the good news is that love isn’t a feeling. That is good because when these discomforts arise – which they will because we’re HUMAN and not a Hollywood film – we can still choose the other person.

Love takes work.

Somehow movies tend to end when the couple gets together…we never see what happens after the ‘happily ever after.’ Falling in love is just the beginning. A lot of divorces happen because people stop ‘feeling it.’ They slowly move farther and farther apart as they get caught up in other priorities (work, children etc) and neglect their relationship. Regular date nights, reconnecting daily, playing together, sharing in each other’s interests…these are all necessary to maintain a healthy and loving relationship with your significant other. Also things like keeping a lark journal or photo album are helpful. I think it’s easy to get comfortable with the ones we love and then complain when the ‘spark’ is gone. Fortunately the ‘spark’ is something we can work on. It just takes…work. Love needs to be nurtured and protected, not taken for granted.

Love is healing.

We all have wounds from loved ones. Whether it’s our imperfect parents, previous romantic relationships or some traumatic event, we have hurt that stays with us. Love is healing. In healthy and loving relationships we re-learn (or un-learn falsehoods) about what it means to love and be loved. Today a big movement out there is telling us to be independent; as counter cultural as it may seem, I’m saying you’re not and never have been. We’re born reliant on others and though we may learn to provide for ourselves, love is something we can only learn in relation to others. That doesn’t mean it has to be a romantic relationship; we can learn this from family or friends as well, but it does mean we need others. To trust and be trusted, to give and receive, to be vulnerable, to be intimate…these are only things we can learn outside ourselves, regardless of your ability to feed yourself.

Love demands sacrifice.

It just does. Loving someone requires time and energy and effort. You can’t continue to live your life exactly how you want. You begin to take the other person into consideration and think about how your decisions affect them. You think about what makes them happy instead of only what pleases you. You eventually begin to put the other person before you…that is what love does, it makes you selfless. We’re born inherently selfish, (did you as an infant ever think about whether it was convenient for your mom to feed you or not?) out of necessity. Our goal as we grow up is to unlearn that. Loving another person is a wonderful wake up call that can sometimes feel like a slap in the face. We’re no longer just looking out for ourselves and it’s painful. Every instinct tells us to focus on self-preservation, meanwhile we know that we don’t have room for selfishness in relationships. Love is ultimately gift of self, a sacrifice.

Maren Morris could use a love song and I think a lot of us are in that boat. Maybe they aren’t being written as much because we’ve lost sight of what love really looks like. How can we write (or sing) about something we’re not familiar with? Love is hard, and we don’t want that. We’re looking for the easy way out and coming up empty; empty hearts and empty playlists. But we’re missing out, because love is wonderful and absolutely worth fighting for…maybe if someone would come out with a song we would realize that.

xo

Miranda

 

Monday 5: Togetherness & other things I’m excited about this week

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Baby breath flowers

I bought these for the first time yesterday and was blown away at how much I loved how they looked. They remind me of flowers you would pick on a field and add such a simple elegance to any room. Fresh flowers are one of those simple pleasures that can make a big difference and make me smile every time I look at them. Baby breath reminds us that you don’t have to be fancy to be beautiful.

This Hawaiian Chicken and Pineapple skewers recipe

I tried this recipe over the weekend and definitely plan on doing a repeat. It’s a relatively simple process and they were still good even without cooking them on the grill. I like that it includes protein and vegetables and fruit in one yummy dish. It’s also easy enough to double and make for several people; good for hosting or bringing to an event!

Sailing

This weekend we were able to go sailing around the Charleston harbor with the other first year pediatric residents (rough life, right?). It had been quite a while since I had been out on the water and it felt incredible. There’s something so simple and mindful about sailing; there aren’t really a lot of things to distract you from the beauty of the ocean and the people you’re with. It’s not something I get to do very often but I hope to do a little more in the years to come here in Charleston; it seems like such a good way to take advantage of the surrounding water.

Togetherness

Being in the same place as Nicholas has been such a treat for the past few weeks. While long distance was fruitful in it’s own way, being together has helped us grow more and face various challenges head on that were easier to avoid when we were apart. It’s tempting to get caught in the trap of thinking that relationships should be easy – and if they aren’t it’s wrong. But good things require effort; that’s what makes them good…and not just easy. One thing that has been great is being able to do so much more together than we could before. Things like going swimming or running, getting drinks with friends, having people over, cooking, going to Mass, praying, salsa dancing [or attempting to], even just working…it has been truly wonderful. Chores like grocery shopping are a lot more fun when you’re with people you love. Today we place a lot of emphasis on the individual and our independence; but I think there’s a lot of beauty on sharing your life with someone and working toward something together (even if it’s a little more inconvenient sometimes).

This quote

Love between two people is unthinkable without some common good to bind them together. – Saint John Paul the Great

I listened to a good podcast this weekend about love and how it’s more than just ‘I like you, you like me.’ While that is certainly an important part of it, we have to remember that there’s something bigger taking place. The speaker on the podcast gave the example of a professional sports team: they are a group of men or women working toward something great. That is what separates them from just a group of men or women kicking a ball around. They aren’t just there for their personal enjoyment; they’re working toward a higher good – winning. The same applies for couples. It’s not just about the pleasure or even joy that we get out of it (and that will come and go anyway); it’s more importantly about growing together and serving each other and your friends and family. In other words, it’s about being fruitful. We want to be better people and help others; those are the goals we strive for and that is what keeps us together when being alone seems more appealing.

Hope your Monday is enjoyable and fruitful (even if you’re like me and feeling a little sleepy).

xo

Miranda

 

Why ‘I do’ is bigger than you

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Did you ever wonder what happened to Cinderella’s stepsisters after she married the prince and left to live happily ever after in the castle?

Yeah me either.

Love stories tend to focus only on the people inside them. Which makes sense…it’s a love story, not the Proud Family.

However, to say that relationships don’t affect people outside of them is just not true. This is especially important when it comes to marriage. The idea that marriage is supposed to last forever isn’t a silly fairy tale or a random rule an uptight monk decided would be a good idea; it’s the foundation for family life.

Love is meant to be eternal…not just to last as long as it feels good. The family unit depends on this. The security that comes from a couple that stays together provides their children with the opportunity to learn what it means to love and be loved. Love entails permanency; anything less is insufficient and breaks the most essential player in loving relationships: trust.

This isn’t just my opinion: we know that parental divorce leads to lower trust in future relationships of the children.

In other words, something that is already difficult (entrusting yourself completely to someone else) is made exponentially more challenging.

Trust is everything. Self-gift necessitates a surrender of control that can’t happen without faith in the other person.

When trust is broken in a vital relationship – the one that sets the example for all the relationships to come – we are left impaired for life. This may seem like an exaggeration, I thought so too until I experienced the ramifications in my own relationship.

Facing my trust issues has been one of the biggest hurdles I’ve faced thus far and not one I would wish on my worst enemy. The pain, confusion and helplessness that arises when you feel you can’t trust someone you care deeply about is overwhelming and has often threatened what I know to be a really good thing. When there is betrayal in a formative relationship (as what happens in divorce), our outlook on intimacy and relationships becomes skewed…unnatural.

Despite the normalcy of divorce, I know I’m not the only person suffering it’s severe consequences. The marriage rate in the U.S. is at an all time low. An important reason given for this is the fact  that millennials’ ‘don’t think it’s likely to last.’ (Deseret News, 2015). We are also getting married a lot later in life (at the age of 27 for women and 29 for men compared to the ages of 20 and 23 in 1960, according to Bentley.edu). We are experiencing a ‘cultural retreat’ from marriage…and it is no bueno.

What we’ve resorted to is cohabiting – or living together outside of marriage. We think that this kind of relationship is preferable to making a vow and then breaking it later. While understandable, this idea couldn’t be further from the truth. This type of relationship is dramatically less stable and has a much lower rate of success than those of married couples (Deseret News, 2015). But, we think we’re smart so…here we are.

We also take part in what’s being called ‘serial dating’; where we go on multiple dates with multiple different people over a short span of time. Apps like Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Happn and others are all out there to help us find dates quickly. The convenience of it makes us more detached from the outcome: ‘hey if it doesn’t work out with this person, there are 1,569 other matches I can reach out to.’

There’s nothing wrong with meeting someone over the internet; the problem arises when we treat dating like we’re flipping through TV channels as opposed to what it should be: a genuine effort to discover another person and find out if you can see yourself marrying them.

Marriage and family have been pushed aside in the name of practicality and as a result we’re becoming even more self-centered. The thing is, it’s not just about us. Love is necessarily other focused: the person we marry and the children we have have everything to gain from our unconditional love. We can’t afford to just look out for ourselves; there’s too much at stake.

It’s not glamorous or exciting to think about Cinderella and prince Charming’s children or how their relationship affected their community, but that’s really everything. After all, we can tell a tree by it’s fruit!

What we do in life matters, but nothing matters more than the close relationships we have with the people we love. Love (like trust) is learned and it can’t be learned if we’re focused on just our own needs and desires…it’s bigger than that.

We may say ‘I do’ at the altar, but really it is so much more than just about us; if we take this seriously we can love others fully and allow them to then do the same…and isn’t that quite the privilege?

 

 

 

Monday 5: Teamwork & other things to be excited about this week

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This weekend was a blast. Crazy, poop-filled, lots of screaming…and really fun. Friday evening Nicholas and I biked through old Mount Pleasant (one of my favorite areas of Charleston) and then walked the Ravenel Bridge. I had never been there at night and it was cool to see the water and the city all lit up after dark.

Saturday was the long-awaited wedding of our friends Anthony and Kaitlyn. Nicholas and I were charged with the care of six-month-old baby James for the day. I was there in the morning watching the brides and bridesmaids get ready which was really fun; I had never been on that side of the preparations before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were a few hair and make-up artists present, Chic-fil-a and champagne…what else do you need?

We had James during the ceremony (which we left after twenty minutes when James decided he no longer could stand it), as well as during the reception afterward. We got to eat good food, dance a little and take a walk around downtown with James when he became frustrated…not a bad gig.

Sunday was more relaxed, Nicholas headed back to Ohio for the final stretch before his move here and I got to catch up on some housework and (much needed) nail painting.

I hope you had a fun weekend, this one was definitely one for the books! And after that suuuper long intro, here is this week’s Monday 5.

Biking

Friday afternoon we biked from Mike’s Bikes in Mount Pleasant over to Sullivan’s Island and then to Isle of Palms. It was truly a gorgeous ride and it made me remember the joy of leisurely biking (no hardcore cycling for me, thank you very much). Even though it was really warm, the breeze made the heat bearable. I love how mindful biking is, you get to enjoy the views without checking your phone or worrying about traffic (although you should be careful with cars). It’s such a simple pleasure, plus you get some exercise. It’s something you can enjoy alone or with someone else, and in a place like Charleston there really is no shortage of beautiful rides to enjoy. I don’t own a bike, but this weekend made me seriously consider investing in one.

Printing photos

Over the past few months, the alert that I am short on storage has showed up about once a day on my phone. As much as I try to keep photo storage to the minimum, delete texts and unnecessary apps, somehow it still adds up. I’ve considered upgrading to a newer phone with more storage, I know I may need to eventually but I am very reluctant to do so while this phone still works perfectly. I decided a good solution (at least for now) is to print more of my pictures and actually put them in photo albums as opposed to keeping them stored in my phone or computer. Pictures can seem overrated with how many we take today, but they really are important. There are so many fun, sweet moments that we experience and pictures are a great way of reminding us of the good times we’ve had and the people we spend them with. That’s why I printed a bunch through Shutterfly (you only have to pay for shipping if you print 4X6) and am looking for the best way to store them this week. I’m excited to have more concrete mementos and to find a cute way of displaying them (ideas welcome!).

Farmer’s Markets

Tuesday evening we made dinner together for my family and we stopped by the Mount Pleasant Farmer’s Market to buy some of the ingredients. It was fun to look around, be outside and enjoy the laid back environment. It’s such a different feel from the sterile grocery store and it gave me an appreciation for local farmers. We got coffee and a few vegetables for our dish; I think our chicken tostadas turned out a lot more fresh-tasting then they would otherwise (PS the avocado sauce is amazing). The Farmer’s Market is a really fun way to spend a little bit of time outside and support our community while getting some delicious goodies.

Wedding celebrations

I can be a little skeptical of the wedding industry as it seems to have become so over the top and almost too elaborate. I definitely feel that it’s about the marriage…not the wedding. However, celebrating with Kaitlyn and Anthony this weekend, I understand a little more now how attention to detail and effort can make for a beautiful celebration of a really important day. Even though it isn’t just about the dress, or the cake, or the flowers, it really is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate something really wonderful (two lives becoming one) with people who love you and led you to where you are today. We had so much fun at the Ragghianti-Elliot wedding and I know it wasn’t without much time, effort, and money that it was able to happen. We loved celebrating the union of these two people and now I understand more why the Big Day is big (although I’m still an advocate of being financially savvy when possible).

Teamwork

This weekend Nicholas and I really had to make a joint effort. While I probably could have made it through the day without him, having him there made a huge difference and made something that could have been really stressful actually enjoyable. I love kids, but taking care of someone else’s child on a really important day that involves a lot of transportation and moving parts isn’t a small matter. At one point James was screaming while I was trying to change him in the back of my car, the heat was making both of us sweat bullets and Nicholas was on the phone trying to figure out where we needed to go for the pictures. While not highly pleasant, both of us were laughing because of how ridiculous it all seemed and knowing it was going to work out. It’s one thing to deal with a situation like that on your own, it’s quite another to have someone there offering help and supporting you. It’s good to remember that we don’t have to do it all alone; and asking for help and approaching things as a unit if often a lot more fruitful.