Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How to Ruin Your Marriage in Five Easy Steps

I'm going to assume you clicked on this not because you want to find a way to ruin your marriage, but because you're wondering why anyone would write about how to ruin a marriage. First, let me just clarify that I do not endorse the destruction of matrimony. This is a post that is telling you how to ruin your marriage in order for you not to do so. It's satirical or something. I'm just trying to be a proper blogger and write my first "How To" post, okay? 

To preface, I have only been married for three and a half years (Blake and I have been together for five years). I wouldn't call myself a seasoned wife by any means; however, many people have come to me for relationship advice. Now, five years isn't very long, but going from dating to having a baby and raising teenagers is a lot of life to live in a short time. This is the only credibility I have to offer on this subject. 

So, here's our story, in super short:

When Blake and I started becoming close friends, it took me about zero seconds to determine that whoever married him was going to be the luckiest and smartest woman on the planet. I wouldn't say I had a crush on him right away; I just happened to have eyes and a fully functional brain. At this point in my life I had met only almost-men at best, but Blake was far ahead of the curve. After dramas and life challenges and all sorts of things God did to get my attention, by some miracle Blake realized he was impressed with me, too. When that happened, I was not about to ruin my chances, or anyone else's. I prayed that God wouldn't put us together unless I was the one Blake was supposed to marry. That was scary for me, because selfishly I hoped that I could just manipulate the situation so that I could make sure we ended up together; but I knew I was tired of being in relationships where God wasn't the one in charge. I thank God every day for answering that prayer, because I can't imagine even for a moment being married to anyone else. 

So, considering that God put the most awesome man on the planet in my path, it's not surprising that Blake and I were the friends among our friends who did most of the "firsts." First to get together, first to get engaged, first to get married, and first to have a baby. We also managed to do all four of these things before most of our friends did the first two. It wasn't a race or a contest, that's just how life happened for us. 

When Blake and I were engaged, we were still serving at Faith Baptist Church in Harrah, where Blake was the youth pastor. Along with our marriage counseling with Blake's dad, we were also being discipled by the pastor, Dan, and his wife, Gayle. During this time, Gayle and I would meet on Wednesdays before church and she would prepare me for the best and hardest job around: being a godly wife. Basically, any brilliant relationship advice I give originated from Gayle. I think there's a Rolodex in my brain filled with Gayle quotes that I can immediately reference when I am trying to make a wise decision. Anything not from this Rolodex was picked up from marriage counseling, or a lesson I lived through (or learned the hard way). In this post, I am trying to narrow it down to advice that works both ways. Maybe someday I will write a post just of quotes that help me choose to be a better wife on any given day, but for now, this is for husbands and wives.

So, that was the introduction. Without further ado, here is my post. 

How to Ruin Your Marriage
in Five Easy Steps

1. Keep a Detailed Mental Checklist of Your Spouse's Successes and Failures.
They finally did those dishes you begged them to do because after you cleaned a lot of the house you just wanted them to do that one thing: check. They finally did those dishes after you asked them sixteen times: check x 16. They changed two of the baby's diapers today: check x 2. You changed five diapers today: check x 5. They asked you to do the thing, and you did the thing, but they didn't say thank you: check. You told them (or at least implied it by the silent treatment you gave them later) if they mention this one thing that it really hurts your feelings and they mentioned it: check x another silent treatment. 

A checklist is the perfect way to ruin a marriage. If your spouse fails to make the numbers add up in their favor (spoiler alert: they will), you will both be so frustrated that your marriage will soon become a somewhat convenient living arrangement. 

2. Always Be Passive Aggressive
Communicating clearly with your spouse about how you are feeling will only bring you two to a better understanding of one another's feelings, and will no doubt result in a better marriage. No, if you want to watch your marriage slowly decay, never directly inform your spouse of what you are thinking or feeling. Communicate only through cold shoulders, eye rolling, sighing through your nose and shaking your head, and speak only these phrases, in whatever order you like: "it's nothing," "I'm fine," "it doesn't matter," or, to communicate all three with no words, simply shrug until your spouse walks away in frustration. If you do all of these things and your spouse still hasn't figured out what they have done wrong, then you have reached an expert level of passive aggressiveness, and you may move on to the next step:

3. Assume They Did It on Purpose
Clearly your spouse isn't so clueless that they truly have no idea how they upset you, so they must have done it on purpose. The fact that they are now completely uncomfortable around you probably doesn't mean that they now feel like they need to walk on eggshells around you; it's because they know they have upset you and now they are purposely upsetting you. I mean, it's highly unlikely that your spouse wants you to be happy. At this point, you may feel free to replace your passive aggressiveness with actual aggressiveness.  If you do finally share your feelings, however, make sure you communicate only in a way that will hurt them: shouting at them, blaming them, and reminding them how much they have victimized you. Whether you become aggressive or remain passive aggressive, you will then be able to proceed to the next step:

4. Use Sex as a Reward and Punishment System
They told you how wonderful they think you are and you went on a date together tonight, so they have earned some hanky panky after the kids go to bed. They haven't said they're sorry yet so they're not getting lucky tonight. Your husband came home from work and even though the kids were driving you nuts and you were trying to finish cooking dinner after you had a long day of your own he sat down in front of the TV, his computer screen, or his phone--or, better yet, decided that was the best time to use the bathroom. Obviously, just asking him to help you is out of the question, so instead you can revert back to step two, sit through a tense dinner, and say you're "not really in the mood tonight" when he tries spooning you in bed later. Your wife didn't put out when you came home from an awful day at work last week, so even though she clearly wants to make love tonight you're going to use the same lame excuse of having period cramps (or, a lame excuse that actually makes sense). Pretty soon you will both keep each other from intimacy for so long that there will be no more intimacy.

5. Ask Yourself Often, "What if I Had Married Someone Else?"
It doesn't really matter whether or not it was someone you actually dated or even knew. Sometimes a made up person that you may have ended up meeting in a coffee shop if you hadn't been married to your spouse is enough to get your imagination running freely. Who knows? Maybe someone else you might have married would have appreciated you more and always understood your feelings without you ever having to utter a word. Maybe someone else would have done everything you wanted or felt like you needed so you could be satisfied with your marriage. After all, your marriage is about you, right?

So there's my list, at least the top five ways I would pick. For more seasoned spouses, what are some things you would think of that would ruin a marriage?

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Sorry for that cliche title, but also not sorry because it is so true.

I hope all of you had a wonderful time with your families for Thanksgiving. Our three boys are fortunate enough that they all have a place to go home and spend the week off for Thanksgiving with their families, and they got back to the ranch on Sunday. They had a great time with their families, but they all seemed really excited to see each other.

The Saturday before the boys left, we had a Liddell family Thanksgiving together. This was particularly exciting for me, because I got to experience the joy of hosting a Thanksgiving dinner and making it really special for the guys. Blake took care of the turkey, I was cooking everything else from 8:30am to 2pm, and the boys got to have the kind of Thanksgiving that I remember so well from my childhood. We all sit down for dinner together every night, but the Thanksgiving meal definitely stood out. What a blessing it was to celebrate all that God has provided for us as a family. Boys that come to Willow Springs all have a story, often with a recurring theme of loss; however, it was so great to hear them talk about what they were thankful for this year. All three of our boys said they were extremely thankful for the food (I think every teenage boy spends at least 75% of their day thinking about food), and for their Willow Springs family. The Willow Springs family isn't just our boys, Blake, Adeline, and me, but all of us who invest day in and day out in the six boys who live here. I am so glad that the boys are thankful for Willow Springs, and I hope they realize more and more how thankful Willow Springs is for them.

As Thanksgiving festivities have wound down, we have begun all of the Christmas festivities at our house. I wanted to make Christmas at Willow Springs something that lasts longer than just one day together and is filled with nothing but stuff. I wanted to start new traditions as a family, something that the boys can look back on and specifically remember to inspire them to want to give to others and appreciate being together. It also had to be something that would involve our relief parents when we are on our days off in December. So, I figured the boys would enjoy an advent calendar. I am going to post what our advent countdown includes, on the condition that NO ONE TELLS THE BOYS ANYTHING ON THIS LIST! It's all a surprise :) Also, if it inspires you to make a list for your family, by all means, please copy me. It's going to be fun :)

Each day of the advent calendar will start with one of the boys reading a Bible excerpt that describes Christ's birth. At the end of every day, before bed, Blake and I will read Jotham's Journey to the boys.
Day 1: Stringing popcorn and cranberries and decorating the tree
Day 2: Taking a family picture by the tree (for the Christmas card)
Day 3: Making gifts for teachers at school
Day 4: Watch a Christmas movie together and make hot chocolate.
Day 5: Make a list of people (family and friends) that they want to buy or make presents for this year
Day 6: Our relief parents will take the boys to the City Rescue Mission in OKC to take donations to the homeless, such as socks, gloves, etc.
Day 7: Watch the Polar Express together and eat popcorn
Day 8: Make a bunch of homemade Christmas cards.
Day 9: Take the homemade Christmas cards to the Chandler nursing home
Day 10: Drink homemade apple cider
Day 11: Make paper snowflakes and decorate their doors with them.
Day 12: Wrapping presents for kids at a local homeless program in Shawnee, or helping with a refugee program in OKC (this is one we are still working out at the moment) 
Day 13: Take the boys Christmas shopping in Shawnee.
Day 14: Going to the Christmas musical at First Baptist Chandler
Day 15: Wrap Christmas presents, made or bought.
Day 16: Make and decorate Christmas cookies.
Day 17: Listen to Christmas music, play a game together, and eat popcorn.
Day 18: Make Christmas candy for the Christmas party for the ranch tonight.
Day 19: Drive around and see Christmas lights
Day 20: Our family Christmas and Christmas dinner! :)
Day 21: Our boys go home to spend Christmas with their families, but will take the remaining days of the advent calendar home with them. 
Day 22: Boys read a letter encouraging them to thank their family and say one kind thing to every single family member they are with for Christmas.
Day 23: Boys read another letter encouraging them to do one selfless thing for each of their family members or a family member they disagree with the most.
Day 24: Boys will open a present of Christmas pajamas.
Day 25: Boys will receive a Christmas ornament they can keep at home, so that whenever they leave WSBR some day, they will have the ornament as a keepsake. :)

I have had a few people ask me what they can give to the boys for Christmas. Any general donation for any amount you feel led to give during the Christmas season would be greatly appreciated. Other ideas could be Walmart gift cards to help pay for some of the extra grocery expenses that come around during Christmas, such as some of the things mentioned in our advent list above. Thank you in advance for whatever you and your family commit to give!

Thank you all for taking the time to read this blog, follow us on Facebook, text us, call us, and everything else you do to be a part of what God is doing at Willow Springs Boys Ranch. Your love, support, and prayers make a difference in our lives and in the lives of each boy that comes here. I truly believe that God is doing miraculous, redemptive works through the legacy of Willow Springs. What a blessing it is to be a part of this story, and what a blessing it is to have you be a part of it, too!

I leave you with pictures of the Christmas decorating that I am entirely too excited to have all over our home.

The outside view of our lights. :)


We don't have stockings for the boys yet :(