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!

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?

3 Ways We Make a Little Extra Income

With a wedding behind us, student loan payments now, and a family in the future, the husband and I are looking for ways to save money, make money, and spend less. This post is part four of a four-part series on living frugally. See the previous posts in this series here: 6 Things We Just Don’t Buy, 4 Things We DO Buy, and 4 Things I’d Like to Stop Buying.

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{This post may contain affiliate and referral links. I only recommend products I use and love. Please see my policies page for more information.}

The number one way to save money is to buy less, with the exception of buying items in bulk. However, what really helps is making a little more money here and there. Here are our favorite ways to do just that.

A Second Job

As teachers who don’t yet have kids of our own, we work over 40 hours during the week, but we are off on weekends, school breaks, and summertime. In order to make a little extra spending money, we take jobs during those times. My husband has refereed soccer games since he was in high school, and he can make over $100 in one weekend. Since he chooses the games he wants to work, he still has time with me and time to go to church. In addition, we are both planning to get part-time jobs this upcoming summer.

The trick is matching your skills with what people need: Do you have experience with children? Do you have medical experience? Could you get lifeguard certification? Have you ever worked in an office? Are you good with numbers? Can you write, proofread, design, or draw? One of the reasons we have experience in various fields is that we often volunteered in those fields first, and then we have experience to list on a job application. What extra time do you have? Could you work another job during that time?

Reverse Couponing

I love clipping coupons as much as the next frugal gal, but apps that work with a click are are a ton easier than stacking and cutting over and over again. Also, if I’m going to buy it anyway, I might as well get cash back for it, right?

I love Ibotta and highly recommend it. Click here to use my Ibotta referral link on your smartphone or computer and you’ll get $10 when you redeem your first rebate. I have earned $146 in the last two years and it comes straight to my checking account via apps like Dwolla and Venmo. You could earn more money much faster if you have a larger family for which to shop.

Other apps I have used and recommend include Checkout 51 and Receipt Hog. Receipt Hog is great because, by scanning your receipts, you can earn enough “coins” to redeem for an Amazon giftcard. It costs you absolutely nothing beside the items you were already going to purchase.

Sell the Things You Make

Everyone has heard of the highly popular Etsy, where you can sell anything from vintage finds to handmade decor to ebooks. I like to think I am crafty, but I know I’m not ready to sell anything on Etsy.

I do, however, sell teaching materials. I have made over $100 selling materials that I have written and used as a teacher. It is so nice to use what I have already made for a second purpose, and it feels great helping fellow teachers. Do you have any experience with teacher materials, kid-friendly graphic design, computer programs like Photoshop, or homeschool curriculum? Sign up here with my referral link to open your own store. Teachers Pay Teachers has two options: one where you pay nothing upfront (but a portion of your sales goes back to them) and a second option where you pay a fee upfront and then a much smaller percentage (if any, depending on the situation) is taken out of your sales.

Bonus: Blogging!

As I am relatively new to the blogging world and extremely new to efforts to monetize my blog, I have not yet made any actual income from my blog. It is my hope to be able to afford to buy a few years of self-hosting in advance, and that is the goal I am working towards. So many resources have been helpful to me on this quest, but one that truly stands out is the newly updated Building a Framework ebook, videos, and workbook from Just a Girl and Her Blog. I absolutely love the ideas, suggestions, and resources, and I appreciate everything I have learned. As I develop as a blogger, I hope to share more and more about the money I have made from this venture.

How do YOU make a little extra income?

{This post was last updated on 3/13/2017}

4 Things We DO Buy

With a wedding behind us, student loan payments now, and a family in the future, the husband and I are looking for ways to save money, make money, and spend less. This post is part two of a four part series on living frugally. See part one (6 Things We Just Don’t Buy) here.

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{This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products I use and love.}

The number one way to save money is to buy less, with the exception of buying items in bulk or buying things that will last. Here are some of my favorite things that we do buy, even though they might seem more expensive, because it pays off in the long run.

Multi-Use Food Items

I spend money on quality ingredients that can be used for a variety of recipes. Food items such as breads are only as good as in the ingredients in them. When I’m buying a premade ingredient, however, especially one that will only be used for one purpose, I usually buy a lesser or least expensive option. For example, I generally only use pasta sauce for pasta, so I buy a cheap pasta sauce and then doctor it up with canned or fresh tomatoes, which are usually a higher quality because I can use canned tomatoes in a variety of different ways.

Larger Sizes or Bulk-Packaged Foods

I always check the price per ounce or per item on foods that are nonperishable or easily frozen. Often, it is ridiculously cheaper to buy the larger size, since the items cost less when packaged together.

Higher Quality Household Items

We saved up some money to buy higher quality items for our first home. We also put some of these on our wedding registry. Many well-made products last a lot longer than those that are cheaper, meaning you have to buy a replacement rarely or never. For example, I got tired of buying new muffin/cupcake pans every time a tin pan rusted or get scraped. Instead, I bought Wilton silicone muffin pans, and they are absolutely wonderful. They have lasted me a lot longer than tin or aluminum pans and they are easy to use, clean, and store.

Another high quality product that we love is our glass Pyrex food storage containers. This is a twenty piece glass storage set with plastic lids that we have and highly recommend. When we used plastic storage containers for our leftovers, I would have to throw one away weekly due to staining or warping. Glass containers do not have that problem.

Frozen Fruit and Vegetables

We love frozen food items that contain just the fruit or veggie, not a sauce or rice combination. I use frozen blueberries in smoothies, infused water, or homemade muffins, and I use frozen green beans in casseroles or side dishes. The best part is that they don’t go bad! In addition, most of the time, frozen fruits and veggies are picked and flash-frozen at a perfect ripeness, so you can have good produce even in its off-season.

Stay tuned next week for part three of the series! Missed part one? Check it out here

What do you buy in order to save money?