How to Survive Your First Big Trip with Your Spouse

Most married couples take their first big trip together on their honeymoon. With all of the happy feelings from the recent wedding, however, couples are more likely to compromise and even acquiesce during the honeymoon. Of course, the bigger the trip, the more opportunities for disagreements. Whether honeymoon or not, this post is for your first big trip with your spouse.

My husband (of three-quarters of a year) and I drove a few hours to the beach for our honeymoon, so I don’t consider it a really big trip. On the other hand, we just recently returned from a long weekend getaway trip to California, though, and it was amazing. Flying over four hours definitely makes that a big trip… One of the biggest you could have without leaving the continental USA.

Here are a few things I learned…

Express Expectations

When I say “vacation,” what comes to mind? Lounging by the beach? Hiking through mountain ranges? Sightseeing and shopping in a busy city? Skiing over snow slopes? Now, what comes to your spouse’s mind?

One of the very things I learned about marriage is that each spouse brings his/her own expectations to the relationship. Without acknowledging those, someone’s feelings are going to be hurt. Your spouse might feel unacknowledged, unheard, or even ignored. A big trip together is no exception.

Ask your spouse some questions, preferably before the airplane tickets have been purchased. Answer these yourself, too! Some to consider might be:

  • What is the one thing you have to do/see while we’re in _____? 
  • What would your ideal day look like once we arrive? Busy? Calm?
  • What is the ideal amount of money you’d like to spend on entertainment/shopping?
  • How important is taking photos to you? Do you want both of us, one of us, or just places/things in the photos? Are we going to be making a scrapbook?
  • How important are souvenirs to you? Who would you like to purchase for?
  • Would you prefer to eat every meal out? Or can we take advantage of complimentary breakfast, an in-room kitchen, or packed meals?

Don’t Assume… Ask!

This is my biggest weakness. Too often, we assume when we should instead ask. I assume that my husband will remember where we parked the car. He assumes that I know what time the reservations are. I assume that he brought his hotel room key. He assumes that I brought my rain jacket. It is truly a never-ending cycle. Instead, ask! I always ask my husband a series of quick questions as we’re leaving our house in the morning, and I did the same over our trip. My usual question is: “Do you have your keys, wallet, cellphone, and wedding ring?” I do this not to be annoying, but for us both to remember the things we need every day.

Similarly, on your first big trip with your spouse, it is important to ask. As I was ordering tickets for a tour this past weekend, I made sure to run the cost and the length of the tour past my husband, instead of assuming that he would want to purchase the tickets as well. Together, we found a couple different tours that we both liked and that fit into our budget well. Without asking each other, we would have missed out on the opportunity to make the decision to take more than one tour.

Have Patience When You’re Irritated

Yes, you will be irritated after five and a half hours couped up in the middle seat of row 34. Imagine how your spouse feels, and let that encourage you to develop patience. When I forget that my sweet husband is tired, too, I end up expecting more and more from him. The truth is that we are both exhausted. We must each do and give and serve, even when we do not want to.

Finally, we finally made it back to our car at the parking garage after our long weekend away. We realized (too late) that we had to pay for the ticket before we could exit the parking garage, instead of paying as we exited. My husband backed up the car and pulled around towards the elevators. “Here,” he said, “You go pay for the ticket while I stay up here with the car.” Now to me, that sounded like a terrible idea. I did not want to get out of the safety and warmth of our car to trek downstairs again and pay for the parking ticket. In that moment, though, I could have served my husband by taking the ticket. (He could have served me by asking more nicely, but that’s another post!) Having patience in moments like these enables your vacation to go much more smoothly and peacefully. You might even want to take another trip very soon!

How to Survive Your First Big Trip with Your Spouse: the latest post from Grace Upon Grace Today about enjoying a big trip with your new husband or wife. graceupongracetoday.com

What enables you and your spouse to travel together peacefully? Share below!

5 Practical Ways to Love People Around You

I wish I knew what to do… Let me know if you need anything… I’ll be praying for you…

Have you ever said those words? You know the person before you is hurting or has gone through some major life transition. You know they need to be shown love, to be encouraged, to be uplifted. But you have no idea how.

Me too.

Recently, there were four deaths of loved ones among my colleagues. A friend is adopting two special needs daughters from overseas. One of my sisters-in-law had an emergency hospital visit.

What can I do? I’m just a new wife, working more than 40 hours a week, and as busy as ever. I want to help; I want to show them the love that Christ has shown me. But how?

I asked a few friends about what would show them love and encouragement during a stressful or hurtful time, and I wanted to share these five practical ways to love people with you.

Write a Card

Hannah of The Young Wives Club shared with me that, in the midst of her miscarriage, the most helpful thing she received was handwritten cards. She treasured the encouraging words from people who loved her and from women who had been there. I like making my own cards, but you do not even have to be creative to send a thoughtful card. It just takes a moment to write a word of how much you care. Your words and even your written prayers could mean so much.

Bring a Meal {or more}

I’m from the south, where potlucks and casseroles are a way of life. I usually think of bringing someone a meal first. However, I did not realize how impactful it could be. My husband’s family suffered the loss of my sister-in-law before I knew them. My mother-in-law says she wishes she would have allowed people to keep bringing them meals. A couple weeks is not long enough for a mother to be willing and able to cook for her family again. In fact, bringing a meal or two a couple months later is such a blessing. You can even pick up simple things like toilet paper at the grocery store at the same time! My friend Leah of Shelemah wrote a post featuring my mother-in-law’s 15 Ways to Help a Family Grieving the Loss of a Child. I encourage you to read it if you are looking for more practical and thoughtful ways to minister.

Use Your Talents

Serving others is not just for good cooks! Naomi, the adoptive mom and blogger at 127 Living, challenged me when I read her post about supporting foster and adoptive families “for the long haul,” as she puts it. God has given you unique talents that you can use for a variety of purposes – why not use a few of them to minister to others? Can you babysit? Teach or coach? Help around the house? Mow the lawn? How has God gifted you and how could this gifting be used to help others?

Be Careful with Your Words

I love Abbey’s advice in her post on loving women who have dealt with infertility and loss. She challenges her readers to be careful not to speak incessantly about babies and pregnancies, as this easily alienates women who are suffering with infertility. I find this to be so true: Women are more than mothers. Motherhood is a wonderful, amazing thing, but a woman is no less complete without children than with them. Abbey also relates how important it is to be there for your friends who are struggling, but to allow them to determine what they need. Allow them to set the tone for your help, and don’t request that they talk about it before they are ready.

“Put Yourself in Their Shoes”

…says Heather Hart in this post on three ways to practically love others. Consider what they might be feeling or how they might be affected. If this happened to me, what would I need? This enables you to show love, grace, and empathy to those around you who may be hurting, stressed, or going through significant changes. It is important to keep in mind, though, that you probably do not know exactly what this person is going through. Avoid saying things like: “I know exactly how you feel!” Instead, humbly come into the situation willing to learn how God would like to use you. Prayer is a mighty tool for sensing how best to respond in any situation.

I found that these bloggers and friends ended up encouraging me to continue loving people as they struggle with whatever they may be facing. I hope they did the same for you. As we are the hands and feet of Jesus, we are called to practically love and serve. Perhaps you have gleaned some ideas, like I did, for some great ways to do just that.

What are the best ways people have served you in your times of heartache or transition?

Five Practical Ways to Love People Around You courtesy of Grace Upon Grace Today www.graceupongracetoday.com

How to Divide Household Chores {Plus Freebie!}

Of all the aspects of married life, one of the most difficult parts of our first few months of marriage was the division of household chores. We got married in June and, as teachers, went back to work at the beginning of August. Suddenly, we both went from working 0 hours per week to working over 40. We had to reevaluate how to divide chores, household maintenance, and cleaning tasks.

I would like to say that I instantly knew how to solve the problems of what I perceived as an unequal division of labor. Unfortunately, that’s not true. I ended up complaining and arguing with my husband about who had to do what. What I should have done was begin a conversation. When we finally sat down and talked about it, I realized that I had no reason to be upset. We were able to solve our problems so easily just by being honest with each other!

Here are my steps to fairly dividing household chores.

How to Divide Household Chores | Grace Upon Grace Today | how to divide chores, how to share household responsibilities in a marriage

Make a List

The first step in your conversation is to make a list of everything that needs to happen on a daily, weekly, twice-weekly, monthly, twice-monthly, and yearly basis. The good news is that I have already done for you in my beautiful chore chart. It is three pages of a variety of tasks. Subscribe to receive it free!

Once we created that list, we were able to see exactly how much had to be done around the house. It was a lot! I felt that my husband and I understood each other’s concerns better when we had a written list. This alleviated the “Why do you never put away the laundry?” complaints.

Assign Tasks and Frequencies

Someone once said that if your spouse hates vacuuming, but can tolerate washing dishes, you should take on the task of vacuuming. It’s just polite and thoughtful. It shows love and consideration towards your spouse, and helps you work together as a team. My husband and I followed this after we had written our list. I do not like washing the hand-wash only dishes, but I do not really mind any of the other chores. My husband signed up for dishes first.

It is also important to consider the frequency of tasks.  How often do you want to change the sheets on the beds? Or take out the trash? Or check the smoke detector? How often should you? Thankfully, I have already done this for you on the chore chart!

Fair is not Always Equal

In an imaginary world, husbands and wives have exactly the same number of household duties that perfectly match their desired jobs. (Or they have a maid!) However, this does not always work out in real life. For example, a stay-at-home spouse should have different duties than a spouse who works full time. If both spouses work equal hours, one should not have more duties than the other. A spouse who has physical limitations should not be assigned the outdoor lawn-care tasks.

Some of this is common sense, but it is important to note that neither the husband nor the wife gets a free pass when it comes to chores. As a team, each must contribute to the cleanliness and safety of the home. Since my husband and I had both lived on our own before we got married, we both felt confident doing our own dishes, laundry, and yard care. I’m so thankful for that opportunity.

Set a Routine

The best way to alleviate arguments over who does what at home is to make the household chores run efficiently. It’s almost like a machine. If I always empty the wastebaskets on Monday nights and my husband always rolls the trash can out to the road on Tuesday mornings, there’s no fuss each week. The key is establishing those routines and sticking to them early in your marriage, and then reevaluating every so often. For example, if my husband studies for a Master’s degree or if I stay home with children, those pre-determined chore assignments might change. In addition, a family with older children might assign certain jobs to their children.

Write it Down

I’m a visual person. It helped me tremendously to write each chore and mark when it had been completed. That’s the beauty of my chore chart: I have already labeled the weeks and months. Just place a checkmark in each box as you complete it. I keep my chart on the refrigerator, but it would also be perfect in your homemaking binder. We’ve been using our copy of the chore chart for over four months, and the fights about chores and duties have all but disappeared.

How does your family avoid arguments about household duties?