The Art of Apology {in marriage}

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The Art of Apology
Conflict at some point in marriage is inevitable. There are bound to be some disagreements, mounting stress, and escalated arguments. So the question isn’t “if” problems will arise. Rather, how will we (as the wife) handle the conflict when it does arise.

Before I get into some of the ways to ease a conflict, let’s evaluate briefly how marriage should be ranked and valued. Most of us know these already but could use a quick reminder.

  • Our relationships with our husband should be first priority under our relationship with God. We should put high value on it, thus making intentional effort to keep it healthy and thriving.
  • As help meets, we should aim to serve and help our husbands in ways they need us the most. Is your husband struggling to get his lunch made for work? This is where we can (and should) step in and help him get it made (preaching to myself here, right, Dear”). ;) Is he in need of support for a project or ambition? A job or career change? Your support is most important over anyone else’s. Sometimes you may not agree, but you can still be supportive and trust his decision.
  • Unity in marriage is so important. Though it’s not always possible, we should attempt [with prayer and His strength] to remain in unity with our husbands. Being in unity doesn’t mean we’re always required to agree with one another. But we can disagree in a peaceful and mature manner.

I wrote a post about giving up your “right” to be right. When we enter into disagreements with our husband, we can often feel we are right and they are in the wrong — for whatever reason. I realize this isn’t a popular method for handling conflict and it may not work for all couples pending personalities. It is a method that does require some discernment and wisdom when put into use.

But he’s the one who’s wrong! Why should I apologize?!

I can speak for myself and say that even if I was factually accurate, my attitude could have been poor or accusatory, and that puts me in the wrong, too.

Offering an apology when you feel you were “right” doesn’t necessarily mean you were completely wrong in the entirety of the problem. But I’m willing to bet there was something in the dispute you could have handled better. Your tone of voice. The words you spoke. Or even just giving the silent treatment.

The point is, the issue isn’t a matter of right or wrong sometimes. It’s a matter of restoring the relationship when it’s been pricked. The more a relationship is pricked without the opportunity to heal, the more damaged it will become. And it could take years, but damage does happen.

There is an art in your apology; a beauty if you will. When we apologize, it helps diffuse the heat. It allows for the conflict to be addressed, if necessary, without either party being hot-headed or defensive.

Jesus Died to Restore Our Relationship with the Father

Think of our relationship with Jesus — He didn’t do a thing wrong, yet He still took on the blame for our sin. Why? Because He wanted the relationship to be restored. (Galatians 4:4-5)

Our marriage is a reflection, in many ways, of our relationship with God. An apology doesn’t necessarily mean you are taking blame (what a radical idea, huh?), but it does mean you recognize you made some mistakes, too.

What if you didn’t make any mistakes and your husband is completely in the wrong? Maybe there is an issue of sin, rather than a dispute? I wouldn’t go so far as to say this doesn’t apply at all, but it definitely would require a more detailed look.

For now, use the art of an apology when you give up your right to be right during issues of minor disputes (that could get ugly).

Have you been in a dispute with your husband when you believed you were in the right, but valued unity over being “right”?

Giving Up Your Rights to be Right {in marriage}

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Giving Up Your Right to be Right

{Modified from original post Jan. 2011}

My husband and I are in our 15th year of marriage. We have certainly had our shares of ups and downs as well as a couple of serious issues we had to work through. We have both grown over the years on how we handle conflict in our marriage and I can honestly tell you, that our marriage, though not perfect, is blissful.

Almost Never Easy

I realize not everyone has a blissful marriage and sometimes what works for one couple just does not work for another. Given that we each have unique situations and are unique individuals, some things just may not work in everyone’s marriage.  On the flip side, there are some radical ideas out there that can seriously save a marriage when someone has the courage to try them. I don’t mean that in a degrading way. The fact of the matter is, it takes courage to do things that go against what we’re used to or what we know based on others teachings.

I want to share with you one concept I have learned to embrace over the years. I will warn you: it is not easy. It is not popular. It is not comfortable. It requires complete and utter self-denial. It could help save your marriage. Not just from divorce, but from emptiness and building up walls.

Give Up Your Right to be Right

That concept is learning to give up your “right” to be right.

When we are right about something, we believe it is our duty to make sure our husband knows it. Somehow we’ve bought into the idea that when we are right it must be known.

Most of the time, our disputes are based on someone being right and someone being wrong. They can involve issues of sin, a simple misunderstanding, or forgetfulness.  Obviously someone is [usually] right and someone [usually] wrong. Those are the conflicts we’re going to focus on.

Right now, think about how much you value your husband. Think back to when you got married and why. Think about how wonderful it is when you two are in unity and all is happy in your marriage. It’s a great place to be! What price have you paid to keep that unity? What have you sacrificed? What have you implemented to help your marriage get to where it is now? {Assuming, of course, your marriage is doing alright}. Was it worth it?  Do you value your marriage enough to do whatever it takes to keep it healthy and thriving? To remain in unity?  The reason I’m asking all these questions is because if you answer “no”, this idea is going to be pretty useless.

Try It. Practice It.

The next time you have a disagreement with your husband, try giving up your right to be right. Give up being known as the one who has the right answer, the right response, the right attitude. Even if you know beyond the shadow of a doubt you are right. Yes, I am serious.

Very often, when I am in a dispute with my husband, I find that being in unity with him is way more important to me than being right about the argument. I’m talking matters of misunderstandings in this case, not so much sin.  Honestly step back and evaluate: what is more important? Is being right that important? Does it really matter who accidentally left the milk on the counter all night? Or if it’s his fault he doesn’t have clean socks because he didn’t throw them down the chute [or put them with the dirty laundry to be washer]. Think about what you most value. Sometimes we just need to be the one who backs down and let’s something go.

Let go of your “right” to be the one who is right. Choose unity over pride. You don’t necessarily need to say “You were right and I was wrong”. Just let it go and move on.

Apologize.

Apologize?! For what? I didn’t do anything wrong! Aha! We’ll talk about apologizing in another post.

*Disclaimer:

What I am NOT saying:

I am not saying to ignore large issues that need addressing. This is simply talking about the smaller “tiffs” in marriage that could blow up into a whole big mess for nothing.

I am not saying you have to be a door mat. This is a personal decision based upon your particular circumstances. I have found this to work wonders in my marriage, even though it is not easy. My husband does not take advantage of my “backing off” by making it worse. Use discretion. Be sure this type of thing would work in your marriage and not make things worse.

Is There a Secret to a Happy Marriage?

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

This post contains affiliate links.

Writing on marriage has not been a focus here on Joyful Mothering. Oh, there have been times when I have felt the nudge to write something. But, I struggle with trying to put my marriage into words or into a formula. It seems it’s the one thing in my life that even I cannot fully understand.

You see, I’m one of those happy wives. I truly couldn’t be happier and often wonder how I even got to this place. The road hasn’t been perfect, by any means, which is all the more reason to scratch my head. My husband and I were married at a young age {right out of high school} and I can honestly say our love has grown deeper and mature together. 

I love my husband in new ways constantly. I believe that much of our growth together as a couple is an outpouring of our growth in our relationship with Christ. As we pursue Him, He changes us and that spills over into our marriage.

I can’t tell you, in steps and formulas, how we got from there to here. I can tell you stories and offer scenarios of our marriage. But I cannot give any definitive “instruction”. I can offer encouragement and challenge you, but what makes a marriage last and thrive is really up to the couple and how much they, as individuals, are willing to grow.

However, I do know there is a war on marriage in our generation and if there is one word I would use to describe what makes a marriage stand strong, it’s commitment. We become accustomed to listening to those with bad marriages convince us there is something (or someone) better, that we shouldn’t be looking out for the needs of our spouse if they aren’t looking out for ours. We take in the lies and as they erode our mind, they destroy our marriage.

My dear friend Fawn, from Happy Wives Club, has just released her book, sharing her worldwide search for the secrets of a great marriage.

  Happy Wives Club Book

Fawn doesn’t just offer the secrets of happy couples, she takes you on a journey. A journey through cultures and beauty and food. But also through the personal stories of couples who have weathered many storms in their marriage. This is not a how to book.

It’s informative, yes. But it’s an expedition, a quest to find those couples who’ve been married 25+ years, and tap into their lifelong marriage secrets.

With her detailed conversations and descriptive sights, you will feel like Fawn has packed you into her suitcase with her! Her tone is casual and truly fits her real-life personality, who I had the privilege of meeting at Allume back in October.

If you’re wanting to keep (or find) that spark in your marriage, let Fawn inspire you through her book, Happy Wives Club.

So, is there really a secret to a happy marriage? Yes, I believe so. But I also believe they are different for different couples and they may not be what you expect. Throw away what everyone says about how “bad” marriage is and discover it’s greatness for yourself. There is no other {earthly} relationship that can compare to that between a husband and a wife. And the secrets are worth seeking out.

Grab Happy Wives Club today.

Bringing Baggage to Your Marriage

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Do you ever say things in the heat of the moment you wish you could take back? Words that you wonder where in the world they come from at that moment?

red heart, broken with threaded stitches

I have. And the effects can be devastating. At the very least they can cut deeply. But sometimes they can do irreparable damage to a marriage.

I think sometimes these words can stem from our own deep rooted fears. The fear is subconscience or perhaps never verbalized. Until one day it comes to a head out of nowhere.

It is so important we take every thought captive so we are not allowing fear to drive us.

I have watched many marriages crumble around me and this has caused fear in me for our own marriage. But I’ve also brought a little baggage into my marriage. The baggage of rejection. Because I was a teen who dated, I had dealt with my fair share of rejections from boys who told me they cared, and then left.

I need to recognize my husband is his own person. He is not anyone else from my past and we’ve been married almost 13 years! I know his love for me has only deepened with the years. He tells me so. He shows it. Yet I still struggle sometimes to believe what I see right in front of me.

In fact, he has been the one constant in my life who has shown me more of Jesus then anyone else. I know he would deny this (which only proves my point!). But his love for me is more unconditional then I’ve ever experienced and sometimes I feel like it’s too good to be true. 

This shows me more and more how God uses marriage to demonstrate His relationship with us. My husband and I are joined together, for better or worse. We couldn’t survive the bumps of marriage without being in constant prayer through the good and the bad times. Everything we do is linked to Him. Decisions. Struggles. Bad moods. We take it all to Him. I can’t see any other reason our marriage has survived other then Him.

He grows our love for each other as we remain obedient to Him and do the hard things; like forgive. And repent when we’ve wronged each other. God has taught me so much about how to reign in my emotions and keep them in check (and I’m still learning!). Allowing emotions to rule a marriage can certainly be devastating. They are too flimsy to be wholly trusted.

The issue of the tongue is deeper then what’s on the surface.

Do you have baggage that needs to be unloaded at the Lord’s feet? Unforgiveness? Unrepentance? These two alone can unload a lot of problems! It frees us to love in a deeper way.
Happy Wives Club

My Story of An Emotional Affair

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When a Wife Has an Emotional Affair

I find it pertinent, in light of many events in front of my own face, to talk more about marriage here in this space. Marriage is a layer of foundation for motherhood. Marriage is a sacred union that should not be taken lightly. But before I begin to write on ways to keep your marriage strong and ways to avoid falling into traps that can literally ruin your marriage, I want to share my story.

I don’t want anyone to think I am sharing information without experience of some of the hard things in marriage, that I believe more couples experience then not.

My husband and I had been married for about 2 years, I had given birth to our first child who was at that point, 3 months old. We didn’t have a bad marriage, by any means. But I was struggling to settle myself into marriage and motherhood. I was 19 when I married and at that point in our marriage, I was 21.

I was talking to an ex-boyfriend through Yahoo chat and by telephone. My husband knew we kept in touch, but I convinced myself it was innocent. This ex was a guy I had dated before meeting Jonathan, my husband. This ex had broken up with me and I was devastated by the break up. It was then I vowed not to date again until God brought me my future husband. Lo and behold, I later met Jonathan.

So, there’s a tiny bit of history.

This ex and I talked on the phone and through chat about “what could’ve been” and I struggled with whether I’d married the wrong person–not because Jonathan was doing anything wrong. Because he wasn’t. He was (and still is) an excellent husband. But because my feelings were so strong for this ex, still, I wondered if I had married the wrong person.

This ex lived about an hour from me, but once a week, he was in my area going to school. So, one Friday he said he was going to stop by in the afternoon–you know, while my husband was at work. I said, “Sure.”

So he came over and we watched a movie together. Before he left, he kissed me. And I let him. Like, a serious kind of kiss, not just a peck. The whole time I was thinking to myself, “What am I doing?!”

I was shaking by the time he walked out the door. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but what just happened was instant regret.

What happened was a result of having an emotional affair. Talking and sharing parts of myself with this guy lead to something even worse. Emotional affairs are not innocent. They are destructive.

Now, maybe you thinking kissing isn’t as bad as sleeping with someone. I guess it depends on your point of view. Granted, yea, I think had I given that part of myself to someone else, my husband would have been quite devastated and quite possibly made our marriage restoration more difficult, if at all.

However, I firmly believe that type of behavior should be just as heavily avoided as se*ual intimacy with someone else. In addition, there’s an emotional involvement with other men that women think is innocent because it’s not s*x and it is a HUGE mistake to think that way. Women are having emotional affairs with different men all the time—in the work place, on the Internet, through smartphones, etc.

Unfortunately, technology has made it super easy to have emotional affairs (or otherwise). When a wife invests herself emotionally into another man, she begins to withdraw from her husband. She is giving to someone else what only her husband should have.

Ask me how I know.

I was even saved during this time…living for Jesus, but badly misguided by my own feelings. I ignored the pricks of my conscience. There are a dozen excuses I could give for my behavior, but the fact of the matter is, I should have never been in contact with an ex-boyfriend. Under any circumstances.

It doesn’t matter how “strong” you think you are. Temptation is a very real predator and sometimes it comes when we least expect it. I falsely believed that as long as I wasn’t physical with this guy, it was no big deal. It is imperative we set up boundaries to protect ourselves and our marriages.

We can’t make the mistake of believing it won’t happen to us. Because it did to me, even though I had that same way of thinking.

I know the road a wife goes down that leads to destruction. And this is only my story. This doesn’t make up other struggles we’ve had in our marriage in the past.

But sitting back and watching marriages struggle and become destroyed because of false doctrine and no support kills me.

Wives, I want to encourage you, support you, challenge your thinking to biblical living, pray for you, and walk with you through this journey of marriage. Marriage is NOT SUPPOSED to be easy. So if you’re struggling, know that is a very normal part of marriage and there is a way to get through it.

 

Gearing Up for Valentine’s Day

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It’s coming — a day in the year when you can super bless your husband, and maybe even a few close friends who are extra special to you.

I know some do not celebrate Valentine’s Day because they don’t wait for the one day in the year to love on their man. I’m the same way. But this year, I want to use this day to give a bit extra then what I normally would. I want to use it as an opportunity. An opportunity to express my love and appreciation in a unique way–something I wouldn’t do in the everyday.

There are some wonderful ideas out there floating around on ways you can make this happen. There is definitely no lack of options.

Courtney, from Women Living Well, is doing a “Be My Valentine” challenge that just started this week.

DaySpring is having some lovely sales to bless your man and sweet friends.

They have a new line out for our daughters called “Hot Chocolate with God”.

This is the kit and it comes with:

  • a journal
  •  32 “You Rock” encouraging note cards
  • 32 “Girlfriend to Girlfriend” note cards
  • 12 “Encouragement” cards

This is an excellent opportunity to teach our daughters how to pass on encouragement to their friends and teach them about journaling.

My 10 year old is an avid writer and loves to write cards for people. She is still learning the discipline of journaling, but it will be such a wonderful asset for her as she grows older.

I think at times we can underestimate the impact an encouraging note to someone can make; including our husbands.

Let’s take the opportunity, starting this Valentine’s Day, to be more intentional about showing our husbands and our children appreciation and encouragement. The Bible says we should encourage one another, as long as it’s called “today.” (Hebrews 3:13)

I look forward to sharing more about marriage in the coming days because without a solid marriage, our children suffer. My hope is to encourage and challenge you in your marriage. Some of the most impactful things in a marriage can also be some of the most uncomfortable. Oh but it’s worth it.

Use code: 20offGIFTS for 20% off all gift purchases!

Don’t forget, this is the last week for Padfolios at the $9.99 sale. I love mine!!

What do you have planned for your husband and/or children this Valentine’s Day? Your ideas may help someone else!

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

The Husband Project {Wrap Up}

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As we wrap up The Husband Project here on the blog, don’t let that stop you from continuing your projects as you are able. The Husband Project is a tool to get you started–it doesn’t need to be followed perfectly. It is meant to give you a jump start to refreshing your marriage and lighting that spark back up.

 The holiday weekend even threw me for a loop and I’ve had to let a couple days go and pick them up again. No big deal!

Remember the point of the project. It’s not a race. It’s a reboot for your marriage. Even if you only do one project per week, it still counts.

Want to share how a particular project went? Click here and find the Day, click on it and leave a comment! :) Or, you can share in the comments below. :)

Have you noticed a difference since beginning The Husband Project?

Winners of last week’s giveaway:

#31 – Tracie B. ~ The Marriage Project

#45 – JessW. ~ The Get Yourself Organized Project

#57 – Tabitha ~ The What’s for Dinner Solution

#18 – Stephanie ~ Praying God’s Word for Your Husband

A Word from Kathi Lipp~Author of The Husband Project

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Kathi Lipp, the author of The Husband Project, heard through the blogging grapevine that we were doing The Husband Project here in community and she wanted to offer you girls some encouragement {and a giveaway}!

Kathi is also the author of several other books I can’t wait to get my hands on– including the soon to be released “21 Ways to Connect With Your Kids“. What mother couldn’t use direction in this area!?

So, without further adieu, here’s the wonderful Kathi Lipp, with a word especially for you!

……..

From Kathi:

You have many reasons to give up on The Husband Project right now. Here, let me list some of them for you:

1.       “I missed a day (or five).”

2.       “My husband hasn’t been nice back to me, so why bother.”

3.       “It’s the beginning of school. Are you crazy – this is just one more thing!”

4.       “I didn’t start on Day 1. I’ll wait until I can start at the beginning.”

I get it. This loving your husband stuff in an intentional way can be really tough on top of everything else you have going on. But let me encourage you: do it imperfectly, but just do it.

I get reports from women who see results after two days. I get reports from women who felt like it really didn’t do anything while they were in the midst of the project, but saw results weeks – or even months later. But the only thing these women had in common was not how perfectly they did the projects, but that they did them.

Know that I’m praying for you. Know that as you love your husband, intentionally, God will bless your efforts. Your husband’s worth it, your worth it, and your marriage is worth it.

Ladies, keep pressing on! You are doing a great job!! If you are just coming in, it is not too late start. In fact, I agree with Kathi that you don’t have to start at the beginning. Begin on the day we are on (which today is Project 13) and come back around to Project 1.

There is no perfect way to do this–you just need to do it!

……………….

Giveaway {Closed}

I’m giving away one copy each of:

The Marriage Project

The Get Yourself Organized Project

The What’s for Dinner Solution

Praying God’s Word for your Husband

There will be four winners (each one will receive one title)

All you need to do is leave a comment telling me how the Husband Project is going for you, or if you haven’t started it, what you hope it will accomplish.

U.S. residents only.

Winners will be announced next Wednesday!

Contracts and Covenants: Changing Our Thinking

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Today’s post is by Mary Beth of New Life Steward.

rings

I will tell you all day long that I believe in Covenant Marriage. I believe that love is a choice. I believe that I have committed to choose to love my husband despite what he does or does not do. I believe this is the Biblical way of marriage.
But honestly, sometimes, I find myself keeping score.
I just changed a poopy diaper. Now it’s his turn.
I sorted, washed, dried, and folded the laundry. He can hang up what’s left.
I’ve been at home alone with Thomas all day. He’s in charge of bath and bed time tonight.
I cooked dinner. He has to clean up.
On and on it goes. Tit for tat. Mentally, I aim to keep the “score” even. Then I get irritable when I feel like things are out of balance–when I feel like I’m doing my fair share and some of his too. Suddenly thoughts explode into: “well if he’s not going to do anything, neither am I. We will see how long he lasts then! That will teach him!
And the truth comes out.
My actions tell another story. My actions and thoughts show a contract marriage: as long as you do your part, I’ll do mine. My desire is to live Biblically with my words, my thoughts, and my actions. So what does that mean for my marriage? I need to change my thinking to align with my beliefs–then my actions will follow.

The Common Way: Thinking in a Contract Marriage

For the majority of my life, I–along with most people in Western culture–viewed marriage as a contract. If you find yourself having these thoughts, you may be viewing your marriage more like a contract:

  • He did work all day so I guess I have to cook dinner.
  • I did the laundry last week, so now it’s his turn.
  • He hasn’t done anything all day long. Tomorrow it’s my turn.
  • I swear, if I have to pick up his dirty boxers off the floor one more time!
Basically if you find yourself feeling obligated to do something because of what your spouse has done or you find yourself excusing your own poor behavior because of your spouse’s actions, you are thinking contractually. The contract view of marriage makes the focus of marriage on self. This only promotes selfish attitudes and thinking.
The problem with this sort of thinking is that we can always find something our spouse isn’t doing right. As my professor in seminary so aptly put it, the problem with a contract view of marriage, is that it places the security of a marriage in the ability of sinners not to sin.
There is a better way. We just have to change our thinking.

The Biblical Way: A Covenant View of Marriage

How can we change our thoughts to align with a covenant view?

  • We remind ourselves that by serving our spouse we are serving the Lord (Eph. 6:7).
  • When our spouses frustrate us, we remind ourselves that we are sinners, too (Rom. 3:23).
  • We think about ways to love and honor them.
  • We remind ourselves of how Christ continues in His love for us even when we continue in our sin (Rom. 5:8).
When we begin to think biblically, our heart and actions will soon follow. We must first make the choice to take captive our thoughts and submit them to the Lord (2 Cor. 10:5). When we love and serve our spouse despite their sin, our marriage becomes a truer picture of Christ and the church. We point others to Him, and our marriage becomes about God rather than ourselves.

A Word of Caution: Please do not read between the lines and hear me say that if you are in an abusive relationship of any kind-verbal, emotional, spiritual, physical, or sexual-that you should physically stay there to honor your covenant vows. Absolutely you need to leave and seek safety for yourself and any children in the situation. However, I do believe that we are called to remain married and pray diligently for God to change our spouses. That is a hard truth, but He alone is able.

My first love is Jesus Christ followed quickly by my husband and my son. I am now a stay at home mom, writer, and blogger at New Life Steward. My career was first in teaching and then in Marriage and Family Counseling. Living in a small, Southern town in Mississippi, we enjoy SEC football, walking around barefoot, and playing outside. A day to myself would be spent napping, blogging, and reading with a bit of reality TV mixed in! Please come chat with me on Twitter!

Photo Source: Geoffrey Fairchild

Making Progress and More Projects {Husband Project}

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What a week!!!

Now, I have to admit, with all the buzz surrounding this series, I am surprised to see such scarce comments on Facebook about how the projects are going.

Everyday on Facebook, I post a photo inviting you to share how your project went the day before.

You can click the photos below to take you to each post and share with us how it went. If you don’t have a Facebook, no problem!! Share in the comments.

Here is how some of your projects went last week:

” I let him opt-out of a birthday party we were going to. I made sure the kids and I were out of the house before he got home from work, and I made sure the house was nice and clean so he had a stress-free place to come home to. I think he spent most of the evening working on projects, but at least he could do them without two little boys slowing him down, and he commented on how nice the house looked when I got home :)” -Lauren

“When he walked in the house, I was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. He had checked the mail (I put a card for him in the mailbox.) He swept me in his arms and gave me a passionate kiss without stopping to pet the dog who was going crazy at his feet. Usually the dog gets the first hello from everyone in the family because she’s the most excited :) This morning as I was driving to work, we were talking on the phone, and he asked me if I had any idea how good I make his life. It’s nice to hear confirmation like that from your husband!” -Hope
“My husband and the boys go once a month to a wrestling match that is put on. It is good clean family fun. I have never attend! Last my daughter and I gave up a quiet night at home to go with the guys. Everyone had a great time. And it was an excellent way for me to get out of my box!” -Crystal
“I handed my husband a bag of his favorite candy that morning, and made sure the children saw me do it, and I explained clearly to everyone that Daddy did not have to share it with anyone. (He did, of course.) :)” -Sheryl
Here’s a screen shot of how my husband and I converse through texting on a daily basis:
Oh yes, we got this down. Aren’t we pathetic? Ha ha, I love it!
If you feel like you are behind, you’re not. Just jump in and share with where ever you are. These posts aren’t going to go away. I get every single comment in my inbox, so I will not miss your comments.
Tell me what you’re looking forward to most with the upcoming projects.

 

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