Relationships are work (in a good way)

Marriage, a journey in progress

Whoever said marriage is easy has not been married. It’s hard work. Just like you work to excel in your career, parenting, sport, or other pursuit. Marriages are not Netflix Originals where someone realizes the error of their ways, and decides to whisk you away in romcom fashion for a happily ever after.

It’s also not a dating app scenario where you get to swipe right if something doesn’t work in your favor. Don’t like the way he picks food from his teeth. Too bad. You’re committed. Unfortunately, we live in a challenging time in which a “disposable” mindset is so pervasive. Fragmented families, experience with unhealthy family and romantic relationships, and an instant gratification culture where you’re just an app, tap, and swipe away — can make commitment that much harder. Everyone comes from a different place, and everyone comes with their unique set of baggage.

So, let’s talk sustainability.

Great relationships take work because it’s worth the investment.

We are products of our childhood, upbringing, and cultural norms. Statistically speaking, children of divorced parents are more likely to jump ship. And, if your parents married others after divorcing, you’re 91% more likely to get divorced. (Source: Nicholas Wolfinger, Cambridge University Press 2005). 

But statistics are just numbers at the end of the day. Like Ben Stiller’s risk manager character in Along Came Polly, it’s best to throw the risk assessment out the window and commit to doing the work. And be your own best judge.

After reading key publications and articles on the subject (the work required is consistent), I’ve distilled the summary down to five points.

1) Be a good listener and ask questions

As a busy mom I am engrossed in work, caring for the kids, running errands, and juggling multiple projects. Being a good listener is one of the most important aspects of being a great partner. You can visibly see your partner’s reactions and emotions. We each have our own idiosyncrasies, and it’s important to be present for those we love.

2) Have high standards for each other

Having high standards for each other is crucial. There was a reason you got together in the first place and exchanged ‘I do’s.’ If something bothers you, address it immediately. Don’t tolerate negative or hurtful behavior on either side. Talk it out, and work on nipping the problem in the bud.

3) Learn to argue constructively

Sometimes you agree to disagree. It’s inevitable. I can have strong opinions as does the hubs. Arguing constructively means respecting the others’ opinion and exiting the argument gracefully. That may involve humor, a time-out from conversation, and sometimes just an acknowledgement that both views hold merit. Agree to disagree.

4) Show you care

I grew up in a household where “acts” (i.e. making a favorite meal, planning a special trip) spoke volumes when it came to love and commitment. For others, those acts aren’t enough. Some require more tactile or verbal demonstrations of care and love. Talk about and understand what your partner needs from you (and vice versa).

5) Plan regular date nights

Life gets in the way, and you find yourself frequently exhausted and drained. Having kids are an absolute delight, but it’s hard to schedule regular date nights. This is an area that can provide a great opportunity to re-connect, and just have fun.

Enjoy the journey (there will be bumps)

For my part, I am a work-in-progress and on this journey with my partner.

Yes, marriage is a lot of work. It has its ups and downs, and that’s par for the course. The down times can be incredibly tough, but it’s an opportunity for an honest relationship assessment, and a time to reboot with kindness and forgiveness.  I read a refreshing post (encourage you to read) by Winifred Reilly, a Marriage and Family Therapist, which gave her perspective on 36 years of marriage.

My parents have an amazing relationship and 40+ year marriage, which came from a shared journey with shared goals, and a belief in a happily ever after.


5 Time-Saving Habits for Busy Moms

This Week’s Fiver:
Live Smarter, Not Harder

While motherhood is a blessing and full of interesting life plot twists and turns, the every day can be maddening. It’s important to live smarter, not harder. The quality of your life, your relationships, and what you build for yourself should take center stage.

Social media feeds (aka Instagram) give the illusion of care-free luminous moms with perfect nails and complexions, accompanied by equally beautiful (well-behaved) children in matching outfits. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes.

Here’s this week’s Top 5 list dedicated to badass moms everywhere.

1) Get moving in comfortable shoes

While chunky heels and stilettos look fantastic on date night, start a healthy habit and keep your feet happy.  Whether you work at the office or are a busy SAHM with a million errands, invest in a good pair of sneaks or loafers.

Allbirds have become the darling in NorCal, and for good reason. For in/out of the gym, you can traverse around in Allbirds wool runners or their new tree runners. And for everyday footwear, the wool loungers are equally comfortable. Marketed as the “world’s most comfortable shoes,” they may not be far off from the truth.

If you’re looking for a bit of panache and want something unique, then check out Sevilla Smith for some earthy sounding “handlasted shoes.” These handcrafted beauties come in care worn colors and can give you some street style cred.


2) Invest in a backpack

That’s right. You can relive your youthful days carrying a brightly colored Jansport backpack. Backpacks provide a lot more room and pockets for ease and accesibility. For moms with babies and toddlers, I highly recommend the black quilted Skiphop forma backpack. It comes with a diaper changing pad (also doubles as a laptop compartment), pockets for bottles, bottle brushes, wipes, and even your S’well water bottle for the gym.

If you want something a bit more utilitarian with color options, then Herschel backpacks are a great alternative. You can go basic black with the classic backpack, or explore the different laptop friendly styles, designs and colors.

If you’re loving the backpack but want something smaller and splurge-worthy with long slouchy handles, there’s the Rag & Bone Pilot backpack. This basic black looker projects elegance and quality. But, it can set you back $650.

Either way, don’t overload your backpack. Be mindful of your back and posture.

3) Make a 5-minute breakfast

I can’t start my day without breakfast, and I like to find healthy-ish options for my family.  A quick, satisfying breakfast is none other than a breakfast bagel. As my partner in crime has gluten sensitivities, I’m always on the lookout for delicious, gluten free options. I recommend Brattleboro, Vermont-based Against the Grain bread products. You can find Against the Grain bagels in the freezer section of Whole Foods and many health food stores. Quickly defrost the bagel in the microwave, slice it in half, and pop into the toaster at a low setting.

Make it fun for the kids by dressing up the bagels

  • Avocado toasted bagel. Slice (or smear) half an avocado onto toasted bagel slices, sprinkle some TJ Seasoning Salt and fresh cracked pepper. Drizzle one tsp of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Strawberry preserves & Daiya cream cheese bagel. Spread Daiya (vegan) cream cheese onto toasted bagel slices. Then spoon out some strawberry preserves. I’ve been loving locally produced Strawberry-Rhubarb preserves.
  • Banana and crunchy almond butter bagel. Spread crunchy (unsalted) Almond butter onto toasted bagel slices. Then lay out generously cut banana slices over the top.

4) Stick with a regular routine

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re all over the map. Choose a regular routine and stick with it. You can have a weekday and a weekend routine. That way, you can focus on balancing the best bits of yourself on your loved ones, and feel like you’re living each day productively and with purpose.

Take time throughout the day to take intermittent mental and physical breaks. Successful, productive people benefit from focused work interspersed with solid breaks. There’s plenty of literature and studies that highlight the importance of work-life balance to avoid burnout.

In a bestselling book High Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success co-authored by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, they provide insights into the habits of successful people (including world-class athletes). Stulberg and Magness extol the benefits of designing your day around optimal routines, living with purpose, and steps to avoid burnout. The simple winning formula put forth is that of stress + rest = growth.

5) Audiobooks for self-growth

When your plate is full chasing after kids and working throughout the day, you resign yourself to the fact that your time is no longer your own. Reading is on the back burner and your Kindle seems permanently powered down. It’s time to enliven your morning drives. Or while at home or at the gym, listen to a couple chapters of an audiobook.

As someone who used to read for hours with a flashlight under her blanket at night, I no longer have the waking hours and attention to read through large bodies of work.

New Audible (US) subscribers can get 2 free books  (hit trial link below)

A great hack is to subscribe to Audible, so you can enjoy the latest bestsellers and go on a journey of self-discovery and improvement. My audiobook wish list is full of self-help literature, fiction and history books. If you’ve never tried Audible, you can check out a free trial to give it a go.

Whatever you do for reading material, keep your mental game sharp and motivate yourself through the power of positive thinking.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s fiver.