Complacency vs. Contentment: Thankfulness

We have now been living in Corning for a little over a year.  The newness of the Finger Lakes region has started to ware off and to some degree the same could be said about our marriage.  The longer you stay in one place, in one pattern, the easier it is to not see the little things. The route to work with all turns becomes a blur, as do the days. Same can be said about life together in a marriage. Over time it is easy to forget or not even notice the little things as they days start to blur together. When this happens it is easy to become complacent.

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Complacency is settling, possibly unhappily, with the way life is. When life begins to buzz by it’s easier to complain and become grumpy. But instead of doing anything about it, complacency leads us to feel comfortable with the unhappy grumpy us in our mundane routine because it can be controlled.

Contentment instead is a state of satisfaction even if life is not perfect. It focuses on what is going right or well with a sense of thankfulness in and/or during our regular routine. This helps us let go of the pieces we can make us grumpy or irritated but we have no control over and helps the days feel more important, significant, less “blurry”.

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I am learning what it looks like to be content instead of complacent in our routine and current place in marriage. But what does that look like?

Saying thank you, a lot. I don’t have to think or worry about the bills being paid on time, the trash being emptied, the car having gas, or there being money in the checking account so I can buy groceries. Luke just takes care of those things for us. But because I don’t have to worry or think about them means I can forget they are getting done. They can become part of the routined haze unless I saying thank you; a lot: in a text, email, sticky note in a lunch pail or out-loud. If I say thank you it helps change my focus onto what is working well, what is going right.

Once I began to think with a thankful perspective and communicate appreciation for the little things, I began to see Luke’s actions differently. I began to recognize the “why” behind what he did big or little. For instance, my husband’s willingness to go to the store at 12am in the morning to pick up nyquil. That action showed me that he cares about not only my well being but that I get decent rest. Although I already knew these things to be true,I need constant vocal or physical reminders because let’s face it life gets to us and we forget just how much our spouse or loved on really does care about us.

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It may sound strange to, say: thank my husband for going to work everyday. But I see the deeper value or purpose behind his behavior. By always going to work, dressed professionally, on time, I see he has a strong work ethic, sense of responsibility to his co-workers and patients, and he cares about our financial security.  So when I thank him for a small everyday action, what I am really saying is I see and appreciate who he is: the roles he has taken on, and his values and ethics.

It takes discipline to remember to communicate my gratitude but overtime it helps develop perspective. I am able to see more clearly the emotions and values behind what Luke is communicating to me. In turn I am more aware of how I communicate and thank him through my behaviors back. It makes the little things Luke does for me or I do for him seem not so little anymore. Because when I get a small text in the middle of my day that simply says: “hey love u babe” it makes a big impact in how I handle the rest of my daily routine leading me more towards contentment and away from complacency

How about you?

What little things do you take for granted?

What little things are you grateful for/impact you the most?

Sleep after marriage: isn’t always a dream come true

One thing I thought would be beyond easy after marriage was sleep.

Here is why: I have always slept better with someone else in the house or room with me; their presence is soothing and safe. Also, because Luke and I were super busy while dating I would often cuddle up to him on the couch to watch a movie or on his living room floor while he took a nap before working a night shift and quickly fall asleep.

What I am learning now is that nap time is not the same as sleeping through the night and sharing a bed.

So here’s another myth busted: Sleep after marriage: is not always a dream come true!

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Our bed: before I’m asked the the duvet cover is mine I bought it from World Market a few years ago

 Instead sleep patterns/habits much like personalities are unique to each person.

I grew up in a little twin bed. Usually I am a side sleeper and my feet and hands are always cold; if I am cold I can’t sleep.  I am a light sleeper too–any unusual sound, change in temperature, or odd dream can wake me up. To complicated this, it takes me a long time to fall asleep and sleeping soundly through the night is often a luxury. Because of this I need more hours of sleep; at least 8 if not 9.  When and if I fall asleep soundly I do not move all night.

Luke has at times chosen to sleep on hard floors over his own bed and has slept in beds of different sizes mostly double/queens all to himself (even at age 3!). He is usually a stomach or back sleeper. Luke alway runs warm so he often gets hot in the middle of the night and tries to take off the covers. He is also a very deep-sleeper, and falls asleep very quickly, usually only needing 6-7 hours. To add to this, Luke will move around in his sleep without realizing it.

Now you can imagine what we’ve been working through sleeping in the same queen size bed.

We finally came to realize we both have to adjust our sleeping habits and accept the other person’s habits if we want to share a bed or we will be constantly frustrated, grumpy, and sleep deprived.

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My mom made this red brass pinned retro-looking headboard for me during her upholstery class awhile back

It has taken us until 5 months into marriage talk about our sleep habits and decide what helps or hinders good sleep.  Even after talking it through there are still rough nights-this will take time.

A canvas print landscape picture from our wedding day hangs over the bed
A canvas print landscape picture from our wedding day hangs over the bed

If you are getting married soon and have never slept in the same room, same bed, or taken a nap together (or even if you have as I learned) I would suggest talking about your sleeping habits because you may not know what a “normal night” looks like.

Asking questions like: How did you sleep as a child? Do you like a lot of space/little space? Do you move around/stay in one place when your asleep? Do you like a lot of blankets/sleep with none? Do you love your PJs or prefer your birthday suit? might be helpful.

This could provide you with a head-start on developing a healthy sleeping relationships (and may help you determine what size bed you want).

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Our Queen size bed

Any married couples have advice to share? Have you had to make  similar adjustments?

Dispelling Marriage Myths

Although I like to think of myself as serious minded and realistic, I cannot ignore the fact that media affects me and what I believed about marriage. I know I definitely fit into the category of “newly wed” but there are some media-induced myths about being married that I’d like to dispel.

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1. You can still feel lonely

Although your spouse does “complete you” they are not your  “everything”. Luke is not my co-worker, student, girl-friend, parents, or God. As we are still adjusting to a new area most weeks he is the only person I have a conversation with that does not end in “thank you and have a nice day!” So yes, sometimes it can get lonely. Sometimes I wish our conversations would go deeper than talking about taxes or planning out our meals (and sometimes they do). But I would be abusing his role in my life to treat him like and expect him to be everyone and everything to me.

Can you imagine the pressure I would be putting him under to fulfill more roles than he was meant to? (I’m pretty sure he did not vow to that). He is my husband and that is very important to me, but opposite to what the media portrays, his role in life is not to succumb to my every whim. Although I am less lonely than I was before he was apart of my life, he is not “all I will ever need in the world”.

2. Your personal problems and insecurities don’t go away.

In fact they are highlighted by how you interact with and treat your spouse.  It amazes me that in the most unexpected moments the lies I believe about myself (you know the ones in your head “I am   . . . ” “I have too little/too much” . . . “I will never be” etc.) get in the way of clear communication. I can easily misinterpret an attempt at encouragement to be an expectation on how I need to live my life!  It is true, we make each other better people-but it is exactly that make, it doesn’t happen automatically or easily, it is what we choose to do.

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Because in reality your spouse is a mirror/window into your self. And Yes! sometimes that can be scary. Honestly: if you don’t like facing your problems and insecurities-don’t get married! The positive thing is that you have someone who thoroughly knows you and  has committed to love you who will help you work through those issues.

Well there is more I’m sure where this comes from.

But now it is your turn:

Those that are married-you find this to be true for yourself?

Any stories about relationships you are willing to share?

Any advice for the newly-wed on other myths that need to be busted?