Monday, May 30, 2011

PLAY DATES! (For Couples)

We see the need for our children to have "play dates" with other children. But, do we, as married couples, sometimes forget that spending time with our peers is beneficial to us, as well?

Gather your couples friends, pick a time/day,and mark your calendar.

Photo By Misty Lynn Walker
A special Thank You to Justin Kane for letting
me use the photo I took of him!

When our children are young, we make "play dates" so that they may spend time with other children and grow with them, interact with them, and learn from, and with, them.

For our children, we will often put our own needs aside so that they will have these opportunities to spend time with their peers, because we understand how important it is for them to have these interactions.

It's easy to forget that we, (adults who are married or are in committed relationships) also crave, require, and benefit from our own "play dates" with other "couples."

For young children, in addition to interaction with those of the same age and home-style situations as their own, it can also be beneficial for them to spend time with those who are older than them, younger than them, and in different home situations than they are. These interactions are also important for them to have and are great learning experiences for them, too.

When we are married couples, parents, or those in a committed relationship of the like, we will naturally tend to sometimes gravitate towards others who are in similar situations as we are, but will often have friends, or groups of friends, who's situations are unlike our own.

Spending time with both sides of these friend circles, both together as one large group, or separately in smaller groups, is good for us. But, let us not forget that it is completely acceptable, and okay, to sometimes plan a specific type of get-together that's just for "couples."

We have some friends who are single, and some friends who are couples. For this Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I, and two other couples, planned a "play date" with just three couples.

My work friends and I do "girl time" after work at least twice a month for a few hours. It is wonderful to have time with just the girls; discussing things, venting, and being silly with just us. These play dates include all of our girl friends; single, divorced, and married.

But, when you are a couple, it is also very important and very beneficial to spend time with other couples that are in a committed relationship. Though we didn't like not including our single friends in this specific event, we knew they would understand.

Because John and I married and had children very young (married at 18, first child at 20) it's often been very difficult to find other couples in our "exact" peer group. I don't think we have ever been friends with another couple who were both our age and had children the same age as ours. We've often been good friends with other couples who actually had children the same age as we were, or friends with couples who were much younger than us that had much younger children, or no children at all. But, it's still good to do things with other couples who are also in committed relationships, even if they aren't in the exact home situation as you are.

Between us and the other two couples on our Memorial weekend "couples play date," we were the only couple in our specific situation. John and I will have been married 20 years this October, and we have two teenage boys, 18 and 15. One of the other couples has been married not quite two years, and were in a committed relationship for three years before they married. The other couple is not married, but they have been in a committed relationship with each other for five years and they share a home together. Neither of the other couples have children and they were all a bit younger than John and I; I turned 38 in April, and John will turn 38 later this year.  The average age of the other couples is 30.

Though it is very nice to sometimes spend time with other couples who are your age, and also have children around the same age as your own, it is not required when planning a "Couples Play Date."  The base of the camaraderie is that you are all in a committed relationship. Even if you are all at different stages of your relationship, you can still learn from each other. Having couples play dates with couples who are in different home situations can actually often lead to being more of a learning experience and prove to be even more valuable than with other couples who are in the exact situation that you are.

It's the same as it being helpful to younger children having play dates that include children that are either older or younger than they are. They can all learn from each other, see different perceptions, perspectives, behaviors, etc., than their own.

Interacting with the other couples and observing their behaviors can actually help our own relationship. It can lead to our own realization of things we need to work on, ourselves. It may give us new and fresh perspectives on past things in our relationship that we are still working on, or just might give us new ideas or perspectives on what we would like to see in our relationship in the future. If you are all at different stages in your relationships, every couple can benefit from the "play date" in this way, in some form or fashion.

(Plus, it's just plain fun to just hang out with friends, too!)

Where did we go on our couples play date?

We did an over-night couples get-away for this specific play date. One of the couples' family members happened to have an empty rent house that they allowed us to utilize. It was a large home, and had a built in pool in the back. Because it was nearly an hour away from where John and I live, and there was plenty of room in the house, we all just stayed there over night. Each couple had their own room that they could retire to.

What did we do on our couples play date?

We all met up at the house around 6pm. Everyone brought food and drinks that we pretty much all shared. The host of the party also ordered pizzas that evening. The majority of what we did that evening was talk. We talked about a lot of stuff.  Random stuff, couples stuff, happenings of the world, our points of view about stuff, stuff about our past jobs, and even though the other couples don't have any, we still talked about children and points of view on the subject.  Lots and lots and lots of talking.  We also swam, ate, drank, and played some fun games.

One of the games we played was this really fun game called "The game of THINGS," which John and I brought.  You have to have at least four people to play, and we hadn't yet played it until now. It's a great game to play with couples. I highly recommend it!

The Game of Things: Humor in A Box

We also played corn hole...

(It's amazing how something so simple can be so fun with a group of people, isn't it?)

The next day, we grilled out, ate, drank, hung out, talked, and swam some more.

A couples play date really isn't about where you go or what you do... it's about interaction. And the only thing you "really" have to spend is... time

We were fortunate to have this empty house where we could all go and have a mini couples get-away. But, something like that is not required and it doesn't have to be an over-night couples play date. (Though, if you are able to do that sometimes, I highly recommend it and encourage you to!)



If you enjoyed that article, check out this one... "Trust, Honesty, and Silliness. - Maintain a Solid Marriage by Being Silly" By Misty Lynn Walker.  Published by Hitched Magazine - Entertains, Educates, and Inspires Marriages. Click below link to view the article.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Be Still...

This morning, I was given a very special gift.

A work friend of mine, who read my book over the weekend, quietly presented me with a beautiful card that included a lengthy note inside. Along with the card, I was given these three rocks.

When she laid the rocks on my desk, they were face down so they just looked like plain black rocks. After I finished reading the card, and wiped a tear or two from my eyes, I picked up one of them and saw that they said something. One by one, I slowly turned over each rock.

...Be Still

...And Listen God.

What makes these very simple rocks such a very special gift in my eyes is the fact that they were special to the person who gave them to me. She'd painted the words on them herself many years ago, and since then, they'd stayed in a prominent place on the night stand right next to her bed, where she could view them every day.

To me, giving another person something of your own that you yourself cherish holds such a great deal of meaning.

I am honored that she wanted me to have them.

Thank you, my friend.

And to my other friends, take a moment out of your day and...

Be still... And listen... To God.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A quarter and a smile

Photo by Misty Lynn Walker and Boys

John and I went grocery shopping earlier. We shop often at our local Aldi food market. For anyone not familiar with that chain, at Aldi you are responsible for bagging your own food i.e. you bring your own bags (or you can buy bags there; disposable or reusable.)

When you first arrive, you put a quarter in a slot on a cart, which releases it from the rest of the carts. When you are done shopping and have unloaded your cart, you take it back to the front and attach it to the rest of the carts, which pushes your quarter back out to you.

All items within the store are off-brands, so the cost of some items are generally going to be much less than if you purchased it at a higher end grocery chain.

With that, in combination with the shopper being responsible for their own bagging and return of their cart, it allows a much lower over head for the store as they do not require the staff to bag groceries or retrieve carts from the parking lot, which also helps with keeping the consumer's cost down.

To me, it's very green and "hippy-ish," and is one of the reasons that I like shopping there. I also enjoy coffee shops and small cafe's and co-op restaurants where you (gasp) yes, bus your own tables.

With all of that said, believe it or not I'm not trying to promote any place or anything. Well... Actually, I take that back. I am promoting something, but must explain further before you will understand what it is.

As we just finished loading the last of our groceries into our vehicle, a man with a young boy with him was walking by us on his way to the store entrance. He stopped and, with a friendly smile and demeanor, said "Can I save you a trip and trade you a quarter for your cart?"

Of course, we traded. He gave us a quarter, and I held the cart to keep it from rolling while he put his boy in.

Driving home John said, "It's amazing more people don't do that."

To do this, being nice and friendly to a stranger is required. And this is something that some people just don't even consider, think about, or take the time to do.

"A quarter and a smile" is worth a great deal more than just 25 cents.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Those three words

"It's a boy."

My oldest son, Jeff, turned 18 last week. On his birthday, while I was at work, I sporadically listed to my friends things my 'baby' could now do. This evening, he did one of the numerous things on my list - he bought some scratch off lottery tickets.

Over the course of the evening, I've reminisced particular things that have happened over the course of his life... And i realized just how many of these things Jeff has no recollection of because he was alive, yes, but was but a wee peanut still growing in my belly.

I've decided to share some things so he can get a peek inside and share a glimpse of how our lives evolved around him, before, during, and after his birth.

My husband, John, and I married at eighteen, just five months after we graduated high school. On our one-year wedding anniversary in October of 1992, I was two months pregnant.

John and I were still living with my "Mom," my grandmother who raised me.

John's half sister, Melissa, and her husband (also named John) had recently moved in right down the road from us, and we spent a lot of time with them before and during the pregnancy. Melissa was pregnant at the same time I was and we actually went and got tested at the same time to confirm.

(Though Melissa and John had moved away to a different state by the end of our pregnancies, we almost delivered at the same time- your cousin was born the day after you on May 4th.)

The day I'd went and got tested to confirm was also the day I told my Mom we were expecting. With the same breath, I also told her that, if it was a boy, he would be named... Jeffrey.

Even though John and I had  been married less than a year, and I was only 19, I'd already known for a long time that my first son would be named Jeff- after my father.

My father had been killed in an accident in 1976 when I was three. I never knew him, but I knew without a doubt that he was a kind and good man. And this was one way I knew his memory would live on, even past me.

If I have one regret, it is that I did not go further and give Jeffrey the middle name of "Wilhite," my maiden name and my father's last name. We picked the middle name of William simply because it fit nicely and seemed to work well.

(Though your Dad never really had a choice and never disagreed with naming you Jeffrey, he rebelliously called you "Junior" after you were born. But, that wore off after a couple weeks.)

I was working as a cashier at "The Eagles Nest" during my pregnancy. (The cafe at the University of Southern Indiana) The college students that came through my line every day watched as my belly grew bigger and bigger.

(And then one day, I wasn't there when they came thru the line. We were at the hospital instead- because it was the day you decided you were ready to see the world. Well, it was the day before, actually. You took your time.)

We were at the hospital around 1pm in the afternoon on May 2nd and just after 1am in the morning on May 3rd, we had a beautiful baby boy in our arms.

Over the course of the nine months, everyone had convinced us that we were having a girl. We'd picked the name Jessica Lynn, just in case.

I am thankful, and grateful, that our "Jeffrey" arrived as we'd originally and initially planned.

(I can't imagine our lives without YOU.)

Our little beautiful and perfect baby boy is now EIGHTEEN, and graduating high school in less than a month. Our first son has matured and grown to be such a wonderful, intelligent, funny, creative, and just awesome person all around.

It's simply mind boggling as it seems it was just yesterday that we heard those three words... "It's a boy."