What Quinoa Taught Me About Marriage

Quinoa

Sitting back in my chair after a pleasant dinner, I watched our friend’s 8-month old twins scarf down their dessert – delicious looking, homemade energy bites. After inquiring about the recipe, I was informed that the chocolatey, peanut buttery Pinterest find was partially healthy because quinoa was the main ingredient.

“Have you ever had quinoa?” she asked. No sooner had, “I haven’t, but I’ve always wanted to try it” came out of my mouth did Tim pipe up with an enthusiastic, “I have!”.

For a guy who doesn’t like mushrooms, I was rather shocked. I’m sure the surprise was written all over my expression. As a culinary enthusiast and avid eater, I consider my palette well informed, so I was surprised Tim had tried a food I hadn’t. The surprise didn’t stop there. When I wondered out loud what restaurant he had tried quinoa at, Tim informed our little gathering that he had made it at home once or twice. I was so impressed that, as a bachelor, my husband had cooked quinoa, a fairly obscure grain, for dinner more than once.

That casual conversation around the table led to a fun discovery and an important reminder: [pullquote position=”right”]getting to know your spouse isn’t a one-time accomplishment. Husbands and wives should be life-long learners[/pullquote] – about each other!

Once the basics are out of the way – family, hobbies, goals, personality type – it’s easy to let learning take a back seat. You know you love the person, so much so that you chose to spend the rest of your life with them, but in the long run, that love isn’t a substitute for intimate knowledge.

My dating relationship with Tim started with hours and hours of conversation. Now, more than 18 months into our marriage and endless conversations later, I’m still learning new things about him. Some are fun facts, like his cooking habits; others are serious, like fears and past pain. All are worthwhile new discoveries.

Sometimes I feel bad when I find out I didn’t know something about Tim, but I’m realizing there’s no reason to feel like a bad spouse when you discover new things about the person you married. People change and there will always be more to discover about your bride or groom. That’s part of what makes relationships exciting.

life-long learner

Life-long learning can be passive, a la my quinoa discovery, but the benefits will be richer and more meaningful if the pursuit of knowledge is purposeful. Build time into your schedule to ask questions, try new things, and dig deeper into the person you married. Actively listen and engage when they speak. Study. Notice. Don’t forget to share the fun things you discover. It’s affirming to know someone appreciates your nuances and is excited to learn these new factoids.

All the new things I learn about Tim (the good, the bad, and the ugly) make me love and admire the man I married even more. So, why would I not continue to actively pursue learning about one of my favorite topics?

Life-long learning requires communication and conversation. If, like myself, those things don’t always come easy to you, check out these resources for jumpstarting your path to new discoveries:

  • The Joy Project – A long list of good Conversation Kick Starters for Couples
  • (affiliate link) Table Topics – Makes get to know you questions seem more like a game than an interrogation. Great for families too. (My family has used them for new significant others and to stimulate good dinner conversation).

What are some fun things you’ve learned about your spouse lately? How are you a life-long learner in your marriage?

P.S. I finally made quinoa for the first time last week! (I used this recipe for Broccoli Quinoa Casserole and it was delicious.)

photo credit: Bioversity International via photopin cc

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A Couple Posts in a Couple Places

I’m (writing) in two places at once today!

You can find me over on Kayse Pratt‘s blog and at Embracing Marriage.

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My blogging buddy Kayse had her sweet baby boy a few days ago. She planned ahead and scheduled guest posts, with the theme of gratitude, for the month of November so she could fully recover and enjoy her little Nathan. I’ve collaborated with Kayse before (How To Maintain A High Maintenance Marriage) and am glad to be over in her neck of the interwebs again today.

His plansThis time around, I’m writing about motherhood, not marriage.

You can read my guest post about struggling to accept God’s pregnancy plans for our family here. I promise it does stick with the gratitude theme…

 

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Embracing MarriageI’m a newer contributor to Embracing Marriage, but I have enjoyed being part of the community developing on the Embracing sites.

My post today is all about being weird – embracing who God made you to be, especially in the context of a marriage relationship. You can read the post (and all about some of my quirks) here.

photo credit: pregnancy test via photopin

Sacred Homeownership: what if owning a home isn’t about living the American dream?

What if owning a home isn't about living the American dream?

Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. Any purchase you make supports Primitive Roads (with no extra cost to you!)

On November 15th, Tim and I will have owned our home for six months. To say that homeownership has been a process would be an understatement. We’ve repainted four rooms but still have unpacked boxes upstairs and random pieces of furniture jigsawed into our living room. We’ve been utterly mesmerized by the lifespan of our enormous grapevine and the abundance of stray cats who enjoy our backyard. We’ve been toilet papered, forked, and Saran wrapped all at one time but got cookies and a freshly mowed lawn out of the deal. Overall, I love having a house, but it’s certainly been an adventure.

First Time Homebuyers

If you hadn’t guessed by the post title, I recently (and by recently I mean this Spring. Parts of this post were drafted before my pregnancy blogging hiatus.) finished reading my first book by Gary Thomas – the author behind Sacred Marriage, Sacred Parenting, Sacred Pathways, and Simply Sacred among others. His books focus on the idea that God uses the ordinary to shape our souls. After about a week, I could attest that homeownership is one of those ordinary things that God uses to make us look more like Him.

I woke up multiple times during that first week wondering what the heck we had done. Paying for laundry, putting up with blasting techno music and our neighbors garish holiday decorations began to seem like a paltry trade-off for endless cleaning and unpacking. The first time we ran our washing machine, the bathtub filled up with chunky, gray water. After all the dollar signs involved with buying a house, that couple hundred we paid to have a plumber deal with the roots that were apparently choking our pipes almost put me over the edge.

Our first month of homeownership confirmed that a key to a new house doesn’t unlock the American dream. Homeownership has, however, been part of the refining process of our relationship and level of responsibility.

Sacred HomeownershipI wasn’t at my best during those first few weeks (and some subsequent weeks after) of homeownership. For this perfectionist, unpacking was almost worse than packing. I was stressed and tired and, come to find out, newly pregnant. All of which necessitated a huge extra helping of grace. I am still learning to humbly accept my energy limits and welcome Tim’s gentle reminders that resting is important.

Not only did the physical tasks of setting up our home stretch and strengthen our relationship, so also did talking through the philosophy behind owning our home. Our desire was to have an open-handed approach to homeownership, knowing full well that this house was God’s gift, not a right. In that, we needed to discuss where our priorities were: how we wanted to use the house and how simply we wanted to live. Communication is something I admittedly struggle with, so those conversations didn’t come naturally but continue to refine who we are as a couple and who we are as followers of Christ.

Our newest sacred-maker is more practical. We are in the process of redoing the flooring in our entire house. The emerald green carpet is being replaced with a nice neutral and the vinyl is being upgraded to a wood finish. But those aesthetic improvements come with a price tag. Money is often a source of contention for couples and though Tim and I see eye-to-eye on most financial matters, forking over large sums of money generally stresses me out. We had to revamp our existing budget (hooray for money dates!) and commit to a more reserved lifestyle to factor in this expense over the next six months.

More communication. More teamwork.

All this communication and teamwork has been beneficial – not easy, but beneficial. We’ve learned about stewardship and maintaining a healthy relationship under stress. I didn’t necessarily sign up for homeownership with those two things in mind, but God has a way of using the ordinary for His purposes.

More sacred.

What Dogs Taught Me About Love Languages

I learned many things house/dog sitting for my siblings-in-law last month. Among these epiphanies were:

I love Crispix.

I don’t do well with dog vomit. (PS – I have the BEST husband!)

Green carpet, small TV, and a lumpy bed, but there’s still nothing like my own house.

Dogs and I express affection in drastically different ways.

Hana and Maile

That last nugget of truth got me thinking about love languages. I’m sharing my conclusions about dogs and love languages over on Kindred Grace today!

You can read the post here.

Some other thoughts on love languages:

Photo Credit: Hepburn Creative (Hana and Maile, the sources of my epiphany)

Becoming An Expert On My Introvert

My husband is a trooper when it comes to writing guest posts for Primitive Roads. When I did a series on community, he ended up writing What Jane Austen Taught Me About Community. So awesome. This round, I asked him to write a post about being married to an introvert, and here’s what he has to say… (I promise I didn’t ask him to be so sweet!)

Becoming an expert on my introvertI’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test three times.  Twice for class, once for fun. You could say I like to learn about myself and how I think.  Each time I’ve taken the test, it usually says the same thing: I function as an introvert, but I have extroverted tendencies.

When it comes to social situations, I’d much rather stay home and watch a movie or spend time staring at my beautiful wife than be thrust into a situation in which I will have to chat-it-up with people I hardly know.  In fact, I try to avoid those situations if possible (which doesn’t quite work with my profession, a youth pastor).  However, when I can, I recharge alone or, preferably, with only my wife.  This works perfectly, because similarities attracted when my wife and I got together, as she is also an introvert.

You would think that two introverts being married is pure bliss, right?  Two people always ready to share alone space together, perfectly content with recharging in silence. However, Emily is not a borderline introvert like myself.  She is, as she has talked about on her blog before, a full-blown, internal processing, think-before-you-speak introvert.  And I love that about her. I love that she is intentional with her words. I love her processing face (yes, she has one). I love that she is happy simply sitting next to me for hours on end.  This definitely scratches my quality time itch.

But, because my introvertedness looks like extrovertedness compared to my wife, it occasionally produces situations in which my need for talkativeness and her need for silent processing clash.  I might be the first to desire a verbal “we’re ok” after an argument, and Emily might need to continue to think through her thoughts for the rest of the afternoon. Both are valid because both are in line with our personalities.

I have found that in order to communicate properly with my sweet introvert, I need to become an Emily expert.  I need to learn how she ticks, what she needs in order to process (time & space), and when to give her time to recharge.  The more time I spend with her, the more conversations we have regarding our temperaments, the more I get to know how she ticks and what she needs.  And yes, this goes both ways.  Each spouse should become an expert on the other person.

Being an expert on your spouse is very important.  For example:

  • I have learned that after a long day of meetings or other social interactions, I know that Emily needs time to sit in silence.  We’ll watch TV or read a book.  Usually her long days coincide with my long days, so we’ll both function as quality introverts.

  • Being an Emily expert, I know when she shouldn’t schedule meetings (after a long morning at church).  Being a Tim expert, Emily knows when I need to take a break from work.  We use our knowledge together to insure a more harmonized approach to life so we can both be healthy.

While Emily and I have personality differences (life would be boring without them), we work well together – which takes time, conversations, and a lot of grace.  I thank God that He gave me Emily.  She is a blessing to me everyday.  And I couldn’t imagine not being married to this amazing, introverted woman.

TimTim is living the newlywed life in Northern Idaho with his best friend, Emily (me!).  He’s a triathlete, coffee connoisseur, and trumpet/guitar/piano player. Seeing families connect with each other and with God is his passion.  He currently serves as the Youth Pastor at Coeur d’Alene Bible Church.

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