6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Said, “I Do”

We celebrated our one year anniversary a couple of weeks ago and I’m still in awe that we’ve been married for an entire year. No one warned me that the time would go by so quickly! Now don’t get me wrong, I love my hubby, but we have definitely had our fair share of growing pains this year. Today, I’m sharing a few things that we learned and some that we are still learning.

Here are 6 things I wish I learned before I said, “I do.”

1) Sharing finances is HARD!

I knew this and heard it dozens upon dozens of times before we got married. But like so many other 20-something-year-olds, Alex and I brought student loan debt into our marriage and just different expectations on how we should manage our finances. What really helped us get on the same page was developing a monthly budget…and actually sticking to it.  A monthly budget allowed us to tell our money where to go, rather than it just slipping between the cracks of different transactions. If you’re engaged I encourage you to start discussing a budget you will have once you’re married. One of you may only have debt, both of you may, whatever the case, start having those hard conversations and set up a long term plan for how to become completely debt free. Also, be sure you both have good life and health insurance plans in case of emergencies. It’s a lot to talk and work through but trust me, having more financial peace is worth it!

2) Developing a great sex life takes time.

A lot of people put a huge emphasis on the wedding night, and the honeymoon, and have these “great sexpectations,” for newlyweds. But in all honesty, it takes time to learn your partner’s body, and it takes trial and error, to learn their likes and dislikes. For some couples it may only take a couple of months, for others it may take longer. But that’s the beauty of sex inside of marriage, you have a lifetime to grow, learn, and figure it out. Say (kindly) what feels good and what doesn’t. Be able to laugh if, and when something awkward happens. It’s not about performing, but two people genuinely seeking to please each other.

3) Sharing a comforter, let alone a roof, isn’t always easy.

Living together is a HUGE transition. I was used to my own space and doing things around the house a certain way and so was he. For example, I’m ok with using one sponge for the kitchen, whereas, he wants a separate one for the dishes and the counters. As trivial as that may seem, it’s those types of preferences you can find yourselves bumping heads over. It’s normal to clash over habits you both have spent decades developing. It just takes adjustment and compromise, especially if something is simply a preference and no one is in the wrong.

4) Comparison is your enemy.

Before our one year anniversary Alex and I attended 5 weddings, one in which I was a bridesmaid! It felt so good to celebrate with so many friends and family members throughout the year. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was tempted to compare our weddings, our current finances, and just the season we are in vs. where our friends are. But I’ve learned comparison doesn’t do anything but stir up discontentment. Each marriage is unique and the way you and your spouse do things, and where God has you, is something to be celebrated and not compared to others. We have to all “learn to be content whatever the circumstances…in every situation”

5) Your spouse cannot fulfill your every need.

As amazing as Alex is, I still need family, friends, and community in my life. I still need to get my weekly dose of corny jokes and laughter from my sister.  We both still need others to encourage, advise, challenge, and support us.  It is really important to continue to nourish your other relationships and continue to do hobbies and things you enjoyed before you got married. I’ve learned its not only important to seek God together as a couple, but also individually and separately as well.

6) Life is better together!

Although I listed different growing pains my hubby and I experienced and many couples have as well, at the end of the day I am deeply in love with my husband. Yes, there are challenges in marriage and it takes time, effort, and prayer to work them out. But my life is incredibly better with him and there’s no one else I’d want right by my side.

Ultimately, marriage is what you make it. Learn to compromise, be content in whatever season, love and laugh together!

What do you wish you would have learned before you got married? Share your newlywed advice and leave comments below!

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Celebrated our 1 yr anniversary in Galena, IL

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12 Date Nights that Don’t Break Yo’ Wallet!

The first year of marriage has been a lot of things: adventurous, challenging, hilarious, mundane, stressful, awkward, and lit! To sum up the last 8 months of marriage I would say it has been one steep learning curve. Right now we are both learning how to balance our very different work and graduate school schedules, and still spend quality time together. We’ve decided to set aside one night a week to be our “date night.” Having weekly date nights does not have to be expensive! You can definitely find fun and inexpensive things to do on a budget and even free dates that can be done at home. Here is a list of fun and creative date nights we have had.

At home dates

  • Get hot and steamy in the kitchen: Who says that you have to go out for a tasty dinner in order to go on a date? Find a recipe online, shop at the grocery store together, and cook a meal together. One of you can cook the main entree while the other cooks a side or dessert.
  • Duel each other in games: Bust out the board games and start a friendly competition. If you don’t have board games there are websites like Pogo where you can play classic games like Scrabble, Monopoly, Clue etc… You can also play the Newlywed game online and test how well you know each other. You can make it interesting by requiring the loser of each round to remove one article of clothing. No matter what, just make sure you don’t get angry if you lose in the games. We once had a date night go sour because I felt really salty after Alex crushed me in a game of chess.

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Jet Skiing in the Bahamas on our Honeymoon

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Making Peace with your Monster In-Laws

What should I call my in-laws? My family is in LA, his family is in NY, we live in Chicago, how in the world can we really get to know each other?! These are just a few of the awkward questions I’m still figuring out about our families, eight months into marriage.

Now that I’m married I can see how relationships with in-laws can be a source of conflict fa real! Right up there with money and sex. Alex and I are definitely still in the beginning stages of knowing each other’s families. Thankfully, we’re blessed to have both our parents be supportive of our marriage, and haven’t had any huge conflicts…yet.  However, I know for many couples, relationships with in-laws are STRESSFUL. In many cases it is even toxic! Our pastor’s wife, Tracy, openly shared with us how HORRIBLE her relationship was with her in-laws for the first 8 years of her marriage (Yikes!).  This post is the interview I had with Tracy sharing how she protected her marriage from her Monster In-laws. Oops! I mean her in-laws,  and how she eventually learned to love them.

What did the journey towards marriage look like for you?

It was short! We met in July 1998. I worked for an inner city ministry in Chicago. He worked as a youth pastor in North Carolina, and brought some high school students up for a week long mission trip. I was the liaison for the local ministry and when the trip was over he asked for my phone number. I gave him my email instead [lol]. We both had solid relationships with Christ, similar ministry goals, and loved spending time together. By December we were dating, In June 1999 we married. It was a complete whirlwind! 

What was it like to become a part of a new family? Did they embrace you?

It was scary! When I first met his family they were super sweet. But because our dating and engagement period was so short, I think they were afraid they were going to lose Jason.

Once we got married Jason put up boundaries as to where we would spend our time. They would ask him, “Would you like to come home?” He would respond by saying, “Let me ask Tracy.” I think they felt like I was taking over. I did not feel accepted at all for the first eight years of our marriage…But now I do.

What were some unexpected conflicts you had with your in laws? How were they resolved?

We had conflict very quickly after we were married. Jason’s parents wanted to sit down and make a budget for us! At the time, we were 23 and 24 years old, independent, and we did not have financial problems. This was not going to work.  Jason had to stand up to his parents and set boundaries.  That soon became the pattern.

How did conflict with your in-laws impact your marriage?

The first year was very tense!   It was really hard for Jason too. I think He felt very torn. Here’s his family that he loves and has known his whole life, and here is his new wife and a very turbulent relationship. I felt very insecure and didn’t know who he was going to choose. We had to learn how to become one unit instead of two different families.  So Jason met with his dad, man-to-man, and told him, ‘I am the head of my house.’ He set up boundaries and held on to them. It was so life giving for me!

How helpful was your husband in fostering a connection between you and your in-laws?

We prayed about it a lot. I was really angry, bitter, and hurt. No one in my entire life has hurt me more than my in-laws.  Three years into the marriage God convicted me of being bitter. I knew I had to forgive them. They may never apologize but I forgave them…It was not easy.

“No one in my entire life has hurt me more than my in-laws.”

For engaged and newlywed couples, what words of wisdom would you give them?

My advice would be, get to know the details of how the family works: holidays, how involved they are with each other, etc… Learn how you can be a part of it. Study the family and inner workings of the relationship. You can’t do everything, but figure out where you fit in.

Avoid complaining about your spouse in front of your parents. Instead, make it a priority to compliment your spouse and build them up in front of your families.

*End of Interview* (Names changed for privacy).

Tracy’s story and perseverance to make peace with her in-laws was very insightful  for me, (8 yrs of extreme conflict? My God!). I hope it encouraged you. She will be celebrating 18 yrs of marriage this summer 🙂

What has been your experience with your in-laws? What advice do you have? Share below in the comments section!

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Our Family

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Moving After Marriage

Our wedding day was a dream come true, but before I knew it, the DJ was playing our exit song for the reception. Our reception doubled as a celebration for our nuptials and also a good bye party to all my family, friends, and community. After the honeymoon we were immediately flying back to our new home in Chicago. As ‘Sugar,’ by Maroon 5 played in the background, I gave my family and friends one last final good bye. I tried to thug-it-out and fight back the tears but I couldn’t. I cried like a baby. Most people, don’t know this, but I actually continued to silently cry in the car as my husband and I drove to our hotel room for the night. Real romantic right? I was so incredibly happy to be closing the distance between us and starting a new life together, but at the same time I was sad about the life I was leaving behind in LA. Thankfully, after about 10 minutes the tears stopped and we were able to enjoy our first night as a married couple.

By God’s grace, I got married, moved across the country, and found a new job, in six and a half months. As if marriage wasn’t a big enough season of transition, moving to a new city added an extra layer of OMG-everything-is changing-in-my-life-right-now! Seven months later, I can honestly say that I’m still learning my way around the city, and even my neighborhood, but I feel settled in. Here are a few ways our big transition was made smoother.

Keeping in touch with old friends, while making new ones

In case no one has told you, making friends as an adult is hard! In college, it just seemed so incredibly easy and natural. There was always an event to go to or a friend to chill with in the dorms. Not anymore! Adulting and making new friends is not the easiest combo, but it is totally doable. I’ve introduced myself to our neighbors, hung out with co-workers outside of work, and gone on double dates with friends Alex already had before I moved here. Making new friends definitely takes effort. Ask a co-worker out for a cup of coffee after work, invite a neighbor over for breakfast. I did! It may feel awkward to do so, but there aren’t too many other ways to get to know someone better. Keeping in touch with old friends takes intentionality. I text, SnapChat, videochat etc…with my friends back at home. They’ve really encouraged me throughout this whole transition.

Making our apartment a sanctuary

After a long day of work Alex and I both come home to our apartment. I wanted to make sure it was a place we could both look forward to relaxing and retreating in. We pretty much started from scratch in terms of furniture and basic household necessities. Thankfully most of that was given to us as wedding gifts from our guest. Alex didn’t care too much about décor in the apt, but I didn’t want it to feel like we were living in a dorm. So I searched internet for some decorating ideas. Pinterest is my best friend! I love finding creative and budget friendly ways to decorate, organize, and arrange our furniture. A color scheme, a little creativity, and few trips to Target can take you a long way. We have pictures of our friends, family, and favorite memories, all around the house. We also recently added some life to our apartment by getting a low maintenance, green plant. Alex didn’t (and still doesn’t) understand the point of decorative pillows for a bed. But if you have a good mattress and cozy bedding, your sleep at night gets that much better. Feeling at peace in our personal space at home has made me feel more at peace living in a new city.

Getting  involved in our church

As much as I adore my husband, I know that I cannot expect him to fulfill my every need. I know that I can’t solely rely on him for friendship and community. We need accountability and encouragement from each other as well as, from others. Psalm 133 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Simply attending church probably won’t be enough to develop raw and authentic friendships with others. It also won’t present many opportunities to serve the community/city. It’s important to find something that interests you and to plug in, whether that be a church or local ministry. Alex is the worship leader at our church and I volunteer in the kitchen/lunch ministry to prepare a meal for the congregation after service. I’ve had some really funny and uplifting conversations over a hot stove, in a small kitchen, with friends from church. It has been life-giving.

keys

Exploring the community

So even though my apartment is oh-so-cozy, I still make sure to get out of it and actually explore the community. Instead of going to major chain restaurants and coffee shops available nationwide, I’ve checked out some local eateries and cafes. There are TONS of charming and delicious places all throughout Chicago. It’s any foodie’s dream come true. I’ve also joined the gym, jogged to local parks/gardens, and traveled around via subway instead of a car (a few times). I feel like I am becoming a part of the community instead of simply a resident.IMG_9351

But no matter how you flip it, spin it, and shake it, at the end of the day, moving to a
new city after marriage can be challenging. There are some days I stare and marvel at the snow, or the fact that seasons actually change. Other days I just want to be back where its 70 degrees and sunny all year round. But no matter what every day I get to continue this adventure with my best friend.

Before you go…

Feel free to comment and share about how you have adjusted (or not) after moving to a new city.

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apple picking

 

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Four Lessons I’ve learned as a Newlywed:

It’s officially been seven months since Alex and I, got married and moved across the country to Chicago. Whew! On July 23, 2016 as soon as we finished our vows and jumped over the broom, I knew there would be a lot to learn about each other.  We were going from a long distance relationship and seeing each other every day over FaceTime, to living under the same roof.

Marrying my best friend has been the greatest blessing of my life! For one, I now have a hot new roommate. But on a more serious note, it has also been one of the greatest learning curves. I’m no marital expert, just someone wanting to share and grow. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far in seven months of marriage:

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You get TONS of marital advice- sift through it.

If you are newlywed or engaged, you probably already know this. But everybody and they mama, wants to give you marital advice. And I mean everybody! Married couples that have been together for decades, newlyweds, single friends, your parents, co-workers, neighbors, FB friends, even your 3x divorced great uncle. But all advice is not good advice, and even if it is good it may not work well for you and your spouse. I’ve learned to listen and appreciate people’s experiences, but to also sift through it. I take out the golden nuggets, discuss it with my hubby, and we pray about it together. Ultimately, we try our best to listen and rely on God to lead us in our marriage.

More to marriage than happily ever after.

If you have ever seen a Disney movie, you know the story ends with the princess riding off with her Prince Charming, and then they live, ‘Happily Ever After.’ Even as a kid I didn’t fully buy into that and wondered what really went down after Prince Charming rescued his damsel in distress.

aladin-and-jasmine

Since we’ve gotten married, I’ve learned different things about my husband, (as expected). However, I had no idea that I was actually going to learn a lot more about myself. Marriage has been a back hand smack of self-reflection and humility. Living life side-by-side, day-by-day, so intimately and up close with each other, has dug up deeper character flaws, dreams, fears, and pain. Relationships with friends and other family members won’t necessarily bring out some of those deeper, concealed issues. I see how when I encourage and speak affirmation over my husband, it is like a breath of fresh air to him. I also see how when I’m slow to apologize it is hurtful and ultimately rooted in pride. But hey, I’m still a work in progress y’all!

I’ve learned that marriage is full of happiness, but it’s also full of a lot of other things. Full of learning each other’s odd quirks, bad habits, date nights, sexual desires, spending habits, budgeting, arguing, forgiving, serving. Full of the mundane things like replacing the toilet paper when you use the last of it, or laughing till it hurts over a new recipe you tried that totally failed. While happiness should not be the end all, be all goal for marriage, it is certainly a part of the equation for a healthy growing relationship.

Laundry Triples!

No joke and no lie! You would think going from single to married would just double the laundry that needs to be washed, dried, and folded. I don’t know how it happens mathematically, but since tying the knot, the amount laundry loads have now tripled, haha or at least it feels like it. Thank goodness we have a washer and dryer down the hall on the floor of our apartment, and that Alex helps with laundry. But the single days where I only had to do laundry every other week are officially over.

Talk, agree, and make a plan about money.

Before marriage I always heard that finances were a big part of it, now I see! I can’t stress enough how important it is to be up font and honest about how much debt each of you may have before you get married. You should also go over your credit scores, savings, health insurance, and income. We had some difficult, but necessary conversations about money while we were engaged. Like so many other 20 something-year olds, we both have student loan debt from undergrad. Deciding to take on each other’s debt and work together to knock it down was a not-so-fun, but super critical decision.

Within the first month of being married we took Dave Ramsey’s online course ‘Financial Peace University.’ It was life changing! So many questions and disputes that Alex and I were having ended.  We were able to get on the same page as far as, how to knock down our debt and make short term and long term financial goals.  ‘Financial Peace University’ also taught us how to create and manage a monthly budget, how to save and invest our money, and the ends and outs of home buying. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it to singles, married folk, every and anybody!

Every day I learn something new about myself, my hubby, and married life. These are only four of the countless  lessons I’ve learned within the last seven months. I hope they have encouraged you!

Before you go…

Feel free to comment and share a few you have learned in your relationship.

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XOXO,

Christina Michelle

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From LDR to LDE(ngaged!)

It’s official Alex and I are engaged! Even though he popped the big question over three months ago, I still feel like I’m floating on a cloud. In January, I went to go visit him in Chicago towards the end of my winter vacation. In many ways it was just like any other trip. We were eagerly awaiting my visit, after a couple months of not seeing each other. Like always, I over-packed, making sure I had twice as many warm, yet cute clothes to change into. Little did I know, this visit would change the rest of our lives!

It was Friday, January 8th, and I had already been in Chicago for four days. That night Alex asked me to wear a dress. Although most locals found the 40 degree weather comforting, I’m an LA girl at heart and was absolutely freezing! But I put on my big girl tights and coat, and managed to wear a dress.

He took me to an upscale French restaurant, “La Petite Folie,” on the South Side of Chicago. I ordered a rack of lamb with curried spices, and it was oh so delicious! While we were eating it seemed like something was on his mind, but I just dismissed it.  After dinner, he told me that we were going to his church for a ‘dessert night.’ As we pulled up to the church and entered into the main sanctuary all the lights were off, he smiled and said suspiciously, ‘I wonder what’s going on in here.’ We entered the main sanctuary and this is what I saw…thumb_DSC_0407_1024

My heart dropped. I couldn’t believe that this moment was actually happening. I knew that he was proposing to me. I looked around as he held my hand and walked me to a chair facing the stage. There were candles that lined the center aisle and a slideshow of pictures of us displaying behind the center stage. I recognized his friends on stage playing softly the guitar, drums, and violin. He joined them on stage and began to sing, ‘Thinking Out Loud’ by Ed Sheeran. I was grinning from ear-to-ear. This was the moment I had always dreamed about, in so many ways, since I was a little girl, except this moment was breathtakingly perfect. I was filled with so much joy I never wanted the moment to end.

Towards the end of the song, he got off the stage, came up to me, and we slowly started to dance.thumb_DSC_0436_1024 I could tell he was about to ask me to marry him, and my heart was racing as he got down on one knee.

All I could think and say was, ‘YES!!!!’

His friends cheered! Once the lights came on, I walked around the room, hugged, and thanked each of them for being a part of our special moment. As I reached to hug another person, my sister and best friend popped out and hugged me. I shrieked out of disbelief that they were actually there! They secretly flew in from Los Angeles just to witness the proposal and celebrate with us afterwards. What a SURPRISE! That was the cherry on top of everything.

I couldn’t have asked for a more romantic proposal.

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What’s next for Us?

We are getting married On July 23, 2016 in Corona, CA. And ain’t no way we doin’ long distance married! We will be closing the distance right after the wedding. I am moving to Chicago and am currently applying for teaching positions out there. So much transition, so much change, I can’t wait to start this journey together with the love of my life!

Feel free to share the future plans you and your boo have. If you’re engaged, please share tips on how to manage an LDE!

Follow me on Instagram to keep up with our story @ChristinamSpeaks

As always, thanks for reading!

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16 Truths No One Tells You About an LDR

It’s officially been two years and some change, since Alex and I first started dating long distance. There have been tears, laughter, and lots of plane tickets along the way. I’ve learned a few things  and thought it would be a good idea to start the 2016 year off sharing 16 (great and not-so-great), truths about long distance relationships.

1. You have a relationship with your phone.

phone

The only way to really spend time together is via phone and/or video chat. Hearing your phone ring or vibrate brings excitement because it may just be your boo calling.

2. Visiting can be complicated and costly.

banrupcy

Whether you commute via plane, train, bus, or car, the cost of visiting each other starts to add up. We buy our tickets ahead of time and use mileage points, but it still ain’t free!

3. It can be REALLY awkward when you visit each other the first few times

touch you

To be honest, as much you may connect over the phone and video chat, the first few times your in person it may feel kinda weird. The first time I visited Chicago was AWKWARD. I wasn’t used to having to interact with Alex in person, but after the first hour it felt natural and fun.

 

4. Sadness sucker punches you in the gut during Holidays and/or your Anniversary if you’re not together.

valentines day sad

Special days and Holidays are often the hardest times to spend apart! Gifts, phone calls, love letters etc.. are awesome, but nothing can truly replace the time spent in person.

5. Spend time together creatively…no matter how corny it feels.

time together

There’s so much you can do besides just talk on the phone. Don’t let the distance limit you. Play games online, cook a recipe together, watch Netflix, there are so many possibilities!

6. Eventually you get tired of trying to be on fleek every time you Skype

made up

 

In the beginning, I always had on nice outfits and makeup on when I Skyped. My boyfriend once got irritated because I  refused to FaceTime him while I was styling my hair. Eventually I got more comfortable. Some of my friends would say too comfortable. Some days I’m dressed up while video chatting, other days I’m deep conditioning my hair with a shower cap on my head 🙂

7. Sometimes you run out of things to say on the phone

on words on the phone

It’s totally normal to run out of things to say on the phone. There’s only so much that happened in your day. This is when playing a game or listening to a podcast together comes in handy.

8. Long distance doesn’t get easier…it gets harder

being apart

Contrary to popular belief you never truly get used to being apart form the person, you just learn to cope. The more you fall in love with the person the harder it is to live miles and miles apart. Which is why #9 is so important.

9. Setting short and long term goals is a Must!

relationship goals

Figure out early on what are your mutual hopes and desires for the relationship. How often do you want to visit each other? When do you hope to close the distance?

10. Seeing each other after weeks/months of not being together never loses its excitement.

exited

This is how you will feel on the inside and possibly the out…

11. The time difference can really kick your tuckus.

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Finding time to spend together is challenging but totally doable. You can even schedule time together and share a calendar via Google.

12. Arguing over the distance REALLY sucks.

fighting

When you’re in a close distance relationship you can argue like the picture above. However, long distance looks more like the one below….

arguing log distnace

13. You have no sympathy for close distance couples that randomly have to go a week or so without seeing their boo.

close distance

Need I say more? Your empathy for close distance couples temporarily separating is non-existent.

14. Even if you’ve been dating over a yr, some people will give you the side eye when you tell them you’re in an LDR.

fake relationship

Some people will just never understand and that’s OK. You know your relationship is great and that’s what matters most

15. A bad internet connection feels like the devil in disguise.

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It’s terribly frustrating when you haven’t gotten to talk all day and when you finally can the internet starts acting up!

When you really love someone it’s so worth it!

WORTH IT

When you really love someone and you both put in the effort to make it work, it’s worth all the bad internet connection, dropped calls, time apart, cost of travel, and lonely Valentines Day’s. Keep striving towards your goals and growing as a couple. The distance is only temporary…

Inspired by: Support
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4 Reasons Why No One Benefits from a Friendship with Benefits

Our hook-up culture today tells us that we have been sexually liberated. We are the offspring  to the sexual revolution generation. Hollywood shows us sexual freedom entails casual, non-committed, intimate encounters. This belief has created a popular trend of ‘Friends with benefits,’ (FWB). FWB is falsely sold to us as something simple and enjoyable, like chicken and waffles. But the damage to all parties involved is far reaching and too often swept under the rug.

Those inside and outside of the church can find themselves trapped, or perhaps even desiring to be in a friendship with benefits. Well before you do, you should consider the following:

1) You stay in the gray area you create

There is no black and white in friends with benefits, only a rabbit hole of gray.  Questioning the other person in an FWB is extremely limited. Generally, there is a don’t-ask-me-cuz-I’m-not-gone-tell-you rule. You cannot expect to know the other person’s motives, whereabouts, and thoughts about the future. This almost certainly builds a foundation of distrust.  If either person wants more out of the relationship, that person, guy or girl, is labeled ‘needy’ or ‘clingy.’ The relationship never reaches a point where it needs to be defined because it has no clear direction from the beginning. But for most,pretending to be nonchalant about someone you’re romantically investing in, gets old and exhausting real fast.

2) You make yourself and/or someone else, your convenience and not a priority

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One huge piece of the equation in friends with benefits is the lack of commitment. Physical intimacy + no commitment= Friends with Benefits.  Ironically, although it’s in the title, friendship is not even a necessary piece of the puzzle. The two people in the FWB have NO obligation of spending quality time together or dating one another exclusively. This no-strings-attached relationship ensures the other person never owes you an explanation for anything, including who else they may be dating, when they may see you next, etc… And because there’s no real commitment to the other person and no real expectations (other than to do the ‘horizontal cupid shuffle’), you inevitably become the other person’s convenience and not their priority; because in reality we often give higher priority to the things, people, and relationships we are committed to.  On the flip side of that, I know making a person a convenience and not a priority appeals to some people. I challenge that group to take a step back and examine themselves. Examine why they want to make a person simply a convenience. Why in essence, they want to selfishly use someone else for their own mere physical gratification and eventually move on.

3) We aren’t wired for it emotionally or spiritually

Our culture tells us that our sexual desires need to be immediately satiated just like our other bodily desires. If you’re hungry, then you eat. If you’re thirsty, then you drink. If you’re itchy, then you scratch. If you’re horny, then you have sex. As much as Hollywood may tell us that sex is just a physical act, deep down we know it’s much more than that. Whether we realize it or not, sex is conjoining: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s no wonder that after two people have sex their feelings and thoughts towards one another dramatically change. Scientific research supports this, in that our bodies release hormones during sex (Oxytocin), that strengthen the social and emotional bond. HOLLYWOOD IS LYING TO US.  And as unpopular as this stance may be, the truth is sex was never created to be experienced in multiple short term low-no commitment relationships; that in the end still do not meet our basic need to be loved. I think author Joshua Harris said it best, “Intimacy without commitment, like icing without cake, can be sweet, but it ends up making us sick.” I believe that sex is a beautiful gift, designed to be enjoyed between couples who have made a lifetime commitment to each other, i.e. marriage.

4) You cloud your ability to see your own worth

Whether you realize it or not, you deserve someone who is willing to commit to you, to be vulnerable with you, and to set expectations with you. You don’t have to be anyone’s one stop shop convenience store.

At the end of every friends with benefits relationship, someone will end up hurt… It may or may not be you, but it ALWAYS ends in disappointment.

I say these things confidently after having been in a FWB in my second year of college. I selfishly and naively believed I could somehow benefit from one. It ended with me being hurt and ruined any potential genuine friendship that could have developed. Now half a decade later, I’m currently in a committed relationship with both of us intentionally  pursuing marriage. I’ve learned authentic friendship is vulnerable, and the joys of a romantic relationship are rooted in love and commitment

 

thxgiving

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His House, or a Hotel?

Where to sleep over when visiting your Boo?

In a culture where living with your significant other before marriage is the norm, the question of where to sleep when you’re visiting can seem like a no brainer. Many people, would instinctively say, ‘His house, duh.’ Although answering this question may come with ease for some, it’s a question that my boyfriend and I wrestled with for months when we first began our long distance relationship (LDR).

The cost of an LDR can easily rack up and become a financial burden to a couple. Staying at each other’s houses may seem like an obvious and simple way to save money. However, as a Christian couple my boyfriend (Alex), and I, both believe that God created sex to be enjoyed solely in marriage. While scripture is explicit in stating that, it can seem a little less clear on boundaries we cross that lead up to sex. For example, is it wrong to sleep in the same house with each other? As I said before, Alex and I struggled to answer this question. And while God doesn’t explicitly command “Thou shall not sleep in the same house/bed,” He does require us to pursue purity. Unfortunately, many Christians simply view purity as a list of do’s and don’t’s, thou shall’s and thou shall not’s. But as I’ve learned purity is not simply a line you don’t cross, but a direction of the heart.  As we continued to pray, we realized a better question is, is sleeping in the same house wise? Will it encourage us to continue to be abstinent? Will it be a good example to our other single friends? The answer to all those questions were, No. So, I believe it is unhelpful and unwise for Christian couples to spend the night at each other’s place. Here are two reasons why:

  1. Lust is a fire. And it is much easier to control a small flame rather than a raging forest fire. If we are honest with ourselves we know that temptation is MAGNIFIED when we sleep over our significant others place. I know this from experience.

Most days, my BF, Alex and I are 2,015 miles apart, but every 2-3 months we visit each other. The first time I went to visit him in Chicago, I did not get a hotel and I stayed at his house. We figured it was ok because he lived in a house with other Christians, so we wouldn’t be alone, and I would have my own room. And even though that was the case, temptation was still heightened and made it that much harder not to cross more boundaries. Since then, we’ve realized that

True purity is not simply the absence of sex, but constant presence and invitation to allow God to lead you in the decisions and boundaries you set up.

2. Spending the night at your BF/GF house not only makes the struggle for you harder, but for other believers as well. If you have friends, roommates, or even neighbors who know you are Christian and see that you are spending the night with each other, they will most likely assume that you are having sex. This can diminish your ability to distinguish your relationship from non-Christian relationships. It may also encourage other Christians to spend the night with their significant other and increase their struggle to pursue purity.

At the same time, I know that it is financially impractical for most LDR couples to constantly stay in hotels. So what’s a girl to do?! 

His house, or a Hotel? I say NEITHER. There are other creative alternatives. Maybe you could stay at his house while he stays at a friends place. Or you could stay with a friend/relative of his. I’ve seen another couple have their significant other stay in a hostel because it was more affordable.

I don’t know if there is a universal answer to this question for every possible scenario. It is easy to want to add rules on top of rules and make that a way of following God. But that is not what he wants from us. He wants to actually have a relationship with us. He wants us to seek his wisdom and guidance. He wants us to invite Him in our lives and RELATIONSHIPS and transform our hearts and our desires. So before you ask Is it OK if we_______? Try asking yourself, do I truly understand what purity is and why does God wants me to pursue it? Pray and ask God, is what we want to do wise or foolish, helpful or unhelpful? Would it encourage others to do right or wrong? Would this honor and support each other, or potentially bring shame and regret? God will answer. We just need to Ask. Seek. And listen.

too cute

Post Inspired by: Visits

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Don’t Break Yo’ Wallet: Affording a Long Distance Relationship

It’s no secret that every relationship has its unique challenges. In long distance relationships (LDR), we often rave about the heartache, the tear filled good-byes, and how bad internet connections put a damper on communication. But one thing that’s not talked about as much is…the COST! Planes, trains, buses, boats, teleportation, however you travel to see your boo, it can all start to add up and cost a pretty penny. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 1 year and 8 months, and we have been long distant the whole time. With me working in LA, and him attending Seminary in Chicago, we’ve had to learn how to make our relationship exciting, passionate, and AFFORDABLE.

No matter where you live, every couple has to have “the talk;” that conversation, where you both lower your guards, openly discus your feelings, and attempt to define the relationship. As a long distance couple it’s very important that you are HONEST and transparent about your expectations, and what you can and can not afford. This does NOT mean you put all your business out there and just give away all your bank statements, credit card accounts, and social security number. However, it does mean that you are realistic about your finances and you both share and compromise as to what is feasible. When my boyfriend and I first had “the talk”, he said that we would see each other twice a year. In order for our relationship to work, I knew that I needed to see him more than that. We were able to agree on every three months. Fortunately for us, that goal was realistic and we’ve been able to keep it up.

DON’T BREAK YO’ WALLET!

wallet

Every relationship is different, and will have varying expectations and financial circumstances. Whatever the case, making your relationship affordable will require intentionality. Here are some simple ways to save in your LDR.

Structure and Plan Visits

No amount of time on the phone or video chatting, can beat that in-person, face-to-face time. It may be tempting to just play everything by ear and not really plan out your visits. But having some form of structure can actually save you money. Buy your transportation tickets ahead of time. Both of you should share the burden of visiting each other, (unless one of you works for an airline and can travel for free, I’ve seen that). If one person is solely investing all of the money and time to do all the traveling that may build resentment in your relationship. We don’t keep a tally chart, but we essentially take turns visiting each other.

Cost Effective Dates

My boyfriend and I LOVE Groupon. From sailboat rides, to eating in steak houses, he’s gotten us some really good deals and cool dates from utilizing it.Sailing Lake Michigan

If you’re feeling a little fancy, Giltcity is another great site that gives good deals on fine dining, nightlife, and more.

Also, go on FREE dates. Museums, the beach, state parks, etc… fun can be free!

Search for SALES

If you travel via plane make sure you sign up to get free mileage points with an airline. Traveling in less popular months like September, can be a big money saver too. Southwest is actually have a sale right now! My boyfriend bought a one-way ticket to LA for only 71$ If you want to see each other during the Holiday season, prices rise drastically, but airlines often try to fill those seats early and offer discounts in July to buy for those months.

Utilize Technology

During the times you can’t be with each other in-person use technology to keep your emotional connection thriving. Video chat as often as you can, watch Movies or TV together via Netflix, play games online, surprise each other with e-cards, mail a physical letter, download apps where you countdown the days until you see each other. Find ways to creatively express your love.

You count the cost in a long distance relationship. The biggest cost is being separated from the person you’re falling more and more in love with. But for me, after all the time apart and dollars spent, I smile because I know our relationship is so worth it 🙂

us

Inspired by LDR prompt: Visits
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