Posted in marriage

Advice I would give myself as a Young Bride (10 years later)

Our 10 year wedding anniversary is May 26th. 2006-2016. Wow. I can’t believe it has been 10 years…

…and then I look at  our four (!) children and think, “yeah, I can believe it.”

When I think back to my days as a 22 year old bride, I want to pat myself on the back, laugh, and tell myself, “Girl, you just need to chill out.”

I wanted to be a good wife–the perfect wife! But I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

Here are 5 pieces of advice I would give to Young Bride Brittany…after 10 years of marriage:

1. Don’t throw away his stuff

My husband had this red baseball cap…well, it used to be red. It was faded to pink in some spots and was smudged with dirty brown in others. The brim was curled and the fabric was unraveling.

It smelled terrible.

So, one day, when I was cleaning up, I threw it away.

I thought he wouldn’t notice (I did not know the man I married–at all).

I will let you imagine our conversation:
My husband was aghast (“That was my favorite hat! It took me years to get it that way!”).
I was self-righteous (“I was cleaning! It was gross!”).

Here is the advice I would give myself: Don’t ever, ever throw away your husband’s stuff without asking. You will never hear the end of it

My 10 year takeaway: What’s important to him may not always make sense to you. Try to be accepting of what he loves, even if it drives you crazy.
100_1916.JPG2. It takes time to grow a family

I thought getting married would be like, BOOM! Instant family, with all the comforts and traditions that I was used to.

We lived very far from both of our families and we both found ourselves missing the familiar rhythms of family life. Everything seemed new and awkward. I was lonely and confused. Is this marriage?

Slowly though, we discovered OUR dinner rituals, OUR holiday traditions, OUR inside jokes and the awkward loneliness disappeared.

Getting married is like planting a seed. It takes time and patience to grow a family that you feel comfortable in.

My 10 year takeaway: Be patient, girl. Try new things at Christmas. Laugh. Store away those jokes and whip them out when you both need to laugh. Give it time. Your new family is young, but it’s growing.
100_2192.JPG3. The tough conversation doesn’t always need to happen right now

As a young wife, if I was upset about something, I needed to talk about it RIGHT NOW. It didn’t matter if we were in the middle of church, if my husband had just walked in the door from work, or if it was 3am.

My timing was usually terrible, and choosing the wrong time to talk often made me even more frustrated.

After 10 years of marriage, I’ve discovered that there are better and worse times to have tough conversations, and I’ve gotten a lot better about choosing the right time to say “Can we talk?”

Instead of hashing it all out in a 30 minute lunch break, I’ve learned to put a bookmark in my racing thoughts and say to my husband, “I want to talk about ‘x’ but we can wait until we have more time.”

As a young wife, I would have been terrified of waiting to talk–This issue is important and this conversation has to happen NOW!

But 10 years of marriage has shown me that you forget about the little stuff (or you can laugh about it in 3 hours) but you won’t forget about the big stuff. That tough conversation WILL happen.

My 10 year takeaway: Choose your timing wisely. Eliminate distractions. Make your talking time productive. And don’t hold an emotional grudge until the conversation can happen. Just pause, breathe, and plan the right time to have that tough conversation.
100_48674. Always take your husband’s hand when he offers

My husband doesn’t really like to hold hands. It just isn’t his style. Our pattern is usually a quick squeeze across the car console, and then we let go.

I do like to hold hands so I am usually the one reaching for him. He knows this, so when it really counts, he reaches for my hand.

The thing is, those “really counts” moments are when we’ve had a spat and my feathers are all ruffled up. I do not want to be smoothed, thank-you-very-much!

But deep down, I know he is offering me more than just his hand for me to hold. He’s offering his love, his forgiveness, his apology,  his “I (still) Do.”

Sometimes, I want to look at his hand, turn up my nose, and cross my arms. Nope! I’m too mad. No hand holding for you!

But deep down, what I really want–more than being right, more than feeling justified in my position–is connection.

So I take his hand.

It’s always the right choice.

My 10 year takeaway: A pity party feels good but it gets lonely. If he’s trying to fix what’s broken between the two of you, always, always, take his hand.
IMG_53645. Read your man, not the marriage books.

I wanted to be a great wife so I bought a bunch of marriage books and poured over them as a new bride.

Out of all those books, I read one that had one piece of advice that I still use today (Thank your husband for being a hard worker).

All the rest were just confusing (My husband’s love language changed daily) or laughable (one book said that separate bathrooms was a must for any marriage so that the husband wouldn’t intrude on the “magic” of his wife’s beauty routine, therefore preserving the “spark” in the marriage. For real, folks).

Marriage books can be great but they are general (and sometimes weird).  In our 10 year marriage, I’ve learned that the best thing I could do was to “read” my husband, like discovering what he needs from me in stressful situations,  figuring out our communication style, learning how to encourage him, and talking about what we like and don’t like,  anything from food to affection.

I wanted a book to tell me how to have the perfect marriage. The truth is, books can give us some great principles but only we can discover what works in our marriage and what doesn’t.

My 10 year takeaway:  Read your man. There is only ONE man you are married to and that man is a unique person–your marriage will look like YOUR marriage, not any one else’s.

Our marriage has not been easy. I almost wrote “has not always been easy” but that’s not true. Even after 10 years, it still isn’t “easy.”

But it is good.
We have formed a family. We have built a firm foundation of love, trust, communication, forgiveness, laughter, and tenderness.

I’m so proud of our 10 years. And I can’t wait for 50 more with my wonderful man!

Did you ever throw away your husband’s stuff?
What advice would you give to yourself as a young bride?
Share your story below!

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in marriage, Own your Story

The #1 thing we fight about in our marriage

They say that the number one thing couples fight about is money. In our almost-ten year marriage, I think I can count our “Money-Fights” on one hand.

No, for us, the number one thing we fight about is this: Who is more tired.

Do you have this fight? It’s subtly nasty at our house. It usually looks a little like this:

Husband: (yawn) Wow! I’m tired.
Me: Oh yeah? Me too. How did you sleep last night?
Husband: Oh I slept pretty well. Alarm just came too early.
Me: Huh. Well, at least you didn’t have to get up with the baby three times last night!
Husband: Yeah? Well, I didn’t see you rolling out of bed at 5 to go to work with me!

Me in exhausted newborn twin mode (2007)


And so it goes. We slap down our “I’m more tired!” card like some vicious game of Slap Jack until someone eventually gives up with rolled eyes and the winner feels smug in his her her debilitating fatigue.

Of course, this fight leads to all the other fights, like the dreaded “Division of Labor” fight.

Me: (slamming dishes) Why do you never help clear the table after dinner? Don’t you know I’m tired?
Husband: I worked all day! I want a moment to sit down!

For me, the weekends are even worse when I see my husband fall swiftly into NapTime Land on the couch.

I often feel like smothering him with a pillow because, even if I have the same opportunity to rest, because I can’t fall asleep easily.

Sleep Jealousy: It’s real, folks.

Somewhere, though, in the middle of the years of baby induced sleep-deprived-jealous-fighting, we finally waved the white flag and realized something important:

We are both tired.

Fighting about who is more tired was just making us both miserable, as if we could keep tally on something so abstractly personal.

Because it is personal. My husband’s exhaustion is HIS exhaustion. He is such a hard worker and he works 50-60 hours a week to provide for our family. He is tired.

My exhaustion is my exhaustion. Night time parenting is hard. Nursing a baby takes a ton of energy. Taking care of four kids and a house is tiring, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

We have different kinds of tired but one doesn’t trump the other.

So we stopped our stupid “who’s more tired” pissing contest and these days we try to acknowledge the other person’s feelings as real, even if my husband’s version looks different than mine.

It’s stretching, this type of acknowledgement. I’ve had to realize some important truths about myself.

Like, it isn’t my husband fault if I can’t fall asleep during an afternoon nap. His ability to fall asleep quickly isn’t a reason for acute rage (sleep jealousy, people). Napping is really, really good for him.

And, when my husband and I accept each other’s feelings as real, without feeling threatened, or devalued, it helps us to love each other more fully.

Author Iris Murdoch said, “Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.”

These days, when I say “I’m tired” my husband is more likely to say, “I’m sorry. Let’s get dinner out” or he encourages me to slow down and rest, something I usually resist.

When he vents about a long, exhausting day at work, instead of trying to one-up him, I try to listen and affirm with a whole-hearted, “Wow, that’s exhausting. I really appreciate how hard you work for our family.”

My tired isn’t the only reality, and my husband’s exhaustion doesn’t mean that my hard day doesn’t matter.RealLove
Our tired is real. Our feelings are real.

And by acknowledging that, we’re working on the Love.

Do you fight about who is more tired in your marriage?
How do you support and love your spouse during exhausting days or seasons?
Share your story below!

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in life, marriage, Mom Confessions, Uncategorized

5 Lessons I learned about Marriage from sleeping apart for 3 years

My husband and I slept in separate beds for over 3 years. #trueconfessions

Don’t feel bad for us though (or for him! Our couch is amazing!). Our arrangement was completely mutual. Every night we said goodnight with a kiss and “sweet dreams,” then I went to sleep in the queen sized bed and he slept on the couch.

Over those three years, separate beds helped give us sleep we needed during a unique season in our marriage, while still keeping the spark alive (wink wink!).

Sleeping apart also gave me a unique perspective on our marriage and taught me a few valuable lessons as well.

MarriageBed1. Clarify your needs

When I was around 20 weeks pregnant with Silas (now 3), I could not get comfortable in our shared queen bed. My back and hips ached and I was constantly tossing and turning. One night, I had enough and I went to sleep in our spare room. The mattress on our spare bed is about 20 years old and deliciously saggy and soft–just what my achy body needed.

I also had the “space” that my growing body craved, and I could sleep with as many pillows as I wanted without crowding my husband out of the bed.

Eventually, we moved the guest bed into our bedroom so we could still share a room.

I’m not gonna lie: I loved this arrangement. I’ve always been picky about sleeping with other people (I can’t fall asleep with anyone touching me, even my babies) and I loved the freedom of the separate beds.

2. Ditch “normal” if it doesn’t work for your marriage

After Silas was born, Aaron moved onto the couch in the living room because newborn life and his 5:30 alarm did not mix.

Through Silas’ whole babyhood, he was a touchy sleeper. Aaron didn’t want to wake Silas (or me) up when he went to work early and we were waiting until Silas slept through the night to move him to his own room.

Well, that child didn’t sleep through the night until he was one and half (God love him!). By that time, I was pregnant with Eli (see? separate beds didn’t hurt us at all! wink wink!) and was starting to pile pillows into the bed again.

As the months of sleeping apart marched on, I kept thinking, “Are we normal?”

But “Getting all the sleep” was pretty much #1 on our priority list during those years so the separate sleeping arrangements stayed. Normal or not, it’s what worked for us.

3. Check in

I found myself googling “Couples that sleep apart” because I just couldn’t shake the feeling that our marriage was slipping into “weird” or even “unhealthy.”

I found all sorts of scary articles about how couples who sleep in separate beds have, at best, have fallen into the “Roommates Zone,” or, at worst, have one foot in divorce court.

“Are we ok?” I asked my husband. “Are we still ok with this sleeping separately thing?”
“Do you want me to come back and sleep in the room?”
“Uh, not really.” After all, we had a newborn again. “Do you?”
“Well, honestly, I don’t want to wake up every time Eli cries. And I don’t want to wake either of you up when my alarm goes off. So, no.”

We checked in. We talked about it and decided, “Yeah, we’re good.”
We still snuggled on the couch every night.
We still  had long conversations about our goals and dreams, our kids, and our issues.
We were NOT in the roommate zone (wink, wink)
We weren’t sleeping in the same bed but we were fine…more than fine.
We were strong.
Online articles be damned.

4. No season lasts forever (if you let it)

We kept talking and realized how much we missed the pillow talk, the comfort of sleeping near the one you love, and the normalcy of sharing a bed when you’re married.

So right after Eli’s first birthday we moved him to his own room.

I had shared a room with two other “men” for the last 3 years. Aaron and I were both ready to kick the couch to the curb (metaphorically! It’s a great couch!) and be reunited for good!

5. Getting to the place you want requires sacrifice

We were both used to having our own space by this time so we decided to upgrade to a king sized bed. Ahh! True bliss–especially for me!

The new mattress, bed frame, and sheets cost us nearly $1000 but it was a financial sacrifice that we were more that willing to make.

So we were excited  when our “separation” came to a conclusion at the end of January when we “moved in” again with each other.

Sleeping apart, as strange as it sounds, made our marriage stronger because we kept checking in with each other about what we both wanted and needed. During those months and years of pregnancy and babyhood, what we needed most was space and sleep.

Was sleeping apart “normal”? Eh…probably not. But I’ve learned that “normal” doesn’t really matter.

As long as we are honoring our marriage vows,  constantly communicating, and being willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make our marriage work, “normal” is whatever we need it to be.

What does “normal” look like in your marriage?
What do you do to keep your marriage strong in your unique situation or season of life?



Posted in kids, marriage, Motherhood, My Motherhood

I’m 100% Mom and 100% Wife–And it has to be that way

This past week, the internet exploded with two more articles in the “Mommy Wars,” this time targeting women’s roles in the modern American family.

This was the first article: “I’m 99% Mother and 1% Wife–And it has to be that way” in which the author, a tired mother, states why she will always put her kids above her husband (to the detriment of her marriage).

This response hit the web a few days later: “I’m 49% Mother and 51% Wife–And it has to be that way.” This article was from a Christian woman who argued that in order for a family to be happy and healthy, a wife must make her husband a priority over her children, if only by 2%.

Here’s my two cents:

If we are going to pursue happy, healthy, and godly relationships in our families, we need to be 100% mom and 100% wife.

Because…they are two different roles.

Being a good wife doesn’t mean that I ignore my children for the sake of my husband.

Nor does being a good mom mean that I forget that I am married to a man I respect and love.

Photo by S. Carter Studios

They are two different roles, each requiring different time commitments and energy focuses.

Aaron and I talked about this issue in the car yesterday as we drove for 2.5 blissful hours–blissful because all 4 boys were strapped in their car seats and no one was crying or screaming for food (thank you, DVD player).

My husband is a math guy (it’s true: he as two math degrees) and he “did the math” on the  mother/wife debate.

Aaron: Let’s say you get 8 hours of sleep at night–
Me: bahahahahaha!
Aaron: I was being hypothetical. But let’s just say…Then you have about 10 hours of “mothering” before I get home from work at 5. We have about 2-3 hours of co-parenting before the kids go to bed and maybe 2 hours before we both conk out for the night. 

Yeah…you’re pretty much 100% mom. 

Me: Do you feel neglected as a husband? 
Aaron: Not at all. 

Of course, adding up the numbers to determine value and worth of my family roles is pretty silly.  Plus, by that criteria, the kids win and I am a sucky wife. But just because I spend more time and energy with the kids doesn’t mean I don’t “put my husband first.”

Photo by S. Carter Studios

My relationship with Aaron is a huge priority to me, which is how I am interpreting “putting my husband first” (Otherwise, I really don’t know what this phase means).

The 99/1 and the 51/49 relationship arguments pit motherhood and wifehood against each other, as if being a “good mother” means I can only toss 1% to my husband, or being a “good wife” means that I must  somehow carve out 51% of….something to my husband.

I believe this creates needless anxiety for many women: Oh I prioritizing the kids before my husband? Am I more “mom” than “wife”?

It doesn’t have to be either/or, 99/1, or even 49/51.

The roles of “wife” and “mother” don’t need to be at war with each other.
We can be 100% mothers and 100% wives.  

Or maybe, instead of focusing on percentages and numbers, we should just focus on being the best moms and wives we can possibly be in our unique family situations.

 A few more thoughts:
~Other than the false 51/49 bifurcation, I agree with pretty much everything Ashleigh said in her article. Cultivating a strong marriage relationship is foundational for a strong family.

~I think the 99/1 mentality often results from a woman feeling like her husband is an overgrown “child” who is a burden to take care of. A healthy marriage is a partnership of equals, with mutual respect between spouses.

~Consider how silly this discussion sounds when the gender roles are reversed:
I’m 99% father and 1% husband–And it has to be that way (???)
I’m 51% husband and 49% father–And it has to be that way (???)

100% dad and 100% husband–And it has to be that way
Posted in Baby, Christianity, Christmas, marriage, miscarriage, My Motherhood

Symbols of Hope: Remembering Loved Ones at Christmas time

“Here, I made you something,” my husband handed me an object one night before dinner.

It was a few weeks after my miscarriage.

“Do you know what it is?” He asked eagerly.

I smiled, confused but pleased by his gift. My husband is not typically crafty person. Nor a gift-giving person.

“Uh…key chain?”

“Well, yes.” He rolled his eyes. “But look at this pattern. Do you recognize it?”
I shook my head.

I watched, bemused, as my husband dashed through the house and found a plastic pirate doll.

“Look!” he pointed. “It’s Izzy! See the pattern on her bandana?”


 And then I did see and…Oh. 

 I made the connection and my eyes filled with tears.

You see, our 7 year old son named the baby we lost, Izzy, after the pirate from one of his favorite Disney shows. Before the miscarriage, I rolled my eyes at the name, chuckling and shaking my head, thinking, “I would never name my baby Izzy.”

But that was the only name the baby got.

I clutched the keychain in one hand and gripped my husband’s hands with the other…callused hand with strong, square fingers, hands that held me when I wept for the loss of our child, hands that wove a pink and white key chain.

“I made this for you so that you can always have Izzy with you.”

My husband, like many men, didn’t have many words when we went through this time of grief. He felt and grieved in his own way, a way that was different from my way.

But he made a key chain for me, in memory of our child.

It was a symbol of loss, of acknowledgment, of remembering.

Christmas is usually a time of hope and happiness for most families. But it can also be a time of grief as we remember loved ones who are no longer with us.

We bought an ornament for our tree this year–a plastic pirate doll: Izzy.

I was hesitant at first.

“It’s really expensive.” I told my husband as my mouse hovered over the BUY icon.

“It’s doesn’t matter.” He told me. “Get it.”

So I did. And Izzy came in the mail in a little white box and we hung her on our tree.

It’s been almost a year since I found out I was pregnant: it was December 14. And instead of cradling a 4 month old baby (boy? girl?), I am hanging an ornament on our tree.

It is sobering….but, by the grace of God, not sad.

And I do not use that phrase lightly. His grace has carried me, buffered me, pushed me, grown me…in agonizing ways in the past year. 

This has been one of the hardest years of my life, but it has been one of soul-wrenching growth as well, growth that has been fostered by faith and has led to hope.

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our heart” (Romans 5:3-5).

I’ve carried my key chain this year, just as I’ve carried Izzy in my heart.
We put an ornament on our tree, not as a symbol of loss, but as a symbol of Hope.

Because His hope has not disappointed us.  His love will continue to carry us through every season.

How do you remember your departed loved ones at Christmas?
How do you seek hope, even in time of intense grief?

You can read more about our miscarriage journey here: 
Posted in marriage

Bacon, Pumpkins and three loud boys: Our Romanic Evening

When I was a teenager and even a young married wife, I craved romance. I wanted spontaneous flowers, surprise dates to romantic locations, diamond rings and necklaces (all thoughtfully picked out to suit my taste and style), and grand gestures of devotion.

 I was constantly disappointed, mostly because the rosy image of romance in my head didn’t match with the every day-ness of my life as a wife and mother of three.
I gradually loosened my clenched fingers from my “romantic ideal,” and not just because my husband thinks, “Flowers are stupid. They just die. Why would I spend money on something that is going to die?!”
My romantic ideal was simply not reality. I finally learned to accept it.
And then slowly, quietly, the reality of my everyday life became romantic. Not every day, not even every week (we don’t have a “date night”), but when I began to redefine romance as intentional thoughtfulness that tells the beloved, “I’m thinking of you.” 
Our Tuesday evening was going to be special because Aaron was going to carve Halloween pumpkins with our twins. They were ecstatic!
As they gathered knives, bowls, and super-cool Angry Bird templates from the printer, I decided to start  dinner, a thrown together “breakfast for dinner” concoction.
 Aaron tuned in to his current favorite Pandora station on his laptop.
Bacon sizzled and popped in the skillet.
My older boys “Ewww’ed!” and “Nasty’ed!” as they pulled out the pumpkin guts.
My baby babbled and banged a tube of lotion on his high chair tray.
 And then my husband said, “Hey, I want you to listen to this song.”
It was difficult. The microwave was whirring and dinging. The “GROSS!” enthusiasm was getting more enthusiastic. But I listened as I flipped the bacon, wiping popped grease from the back of my hands.
In the middle of all that distraction, I managed to catch the last verse of this Lee Brice song:

She knows what a mess I’d be if I didn’t have her here
But to be sure, I whispered in her ear
“You know I get sick deep-sea fishin’
And you make the best fried chicken
I got a hopeless golf game
I love the sound of your name
I might miss that old green ‘Nova
But I love watchin’ you do yoga
I’d take a gold band on my hand
Over being a single man
Cause honestly I don’t know what I’d do
If I’d never met a woman like you.”

Full Song Lyrics

I caught my husband’s eye as the song played and he smiled at me, a sharpie in his hand as he drew faces on our children’s pumpkins.
I stared at this man, the father of my children, my partner and friend, while the aroma of bacon joined the earthy pumpkin smell filling our small kitchen.
Tears pricked my eyes.
Pulp and seed were all over my floor. My baby was calling, “Ma-ma-ma-ma!” and wanting to be held. My twins started to fuss about “being done with picking out the seeds.”

But I wanted to capture this moment, take a mental snapshot and store it in my memory under the caption, “Perfect Evening.”
Because it was. It was perfect, spontaneous, thoughtful.
It was pure romance.
Posted in life, marriage

My husband hates Valentine’s Day

Since we got married almost 6 years ago, my husband has not been shy in the fact that he thinks Valentine’s Day is stupid. His argument? “I show you I love you everyday, dear, so why do I need to buy you some flowers (which will die) or other meaningless junk to tell you that I love you?” In his mind, the case is closed. Valentine’s Day = overrated, stupid, meaningless.

And he has a point. He DOES show me he loves me every day. He kisses me goodbye every day even though I am usually still asleep; he calls or texts every morning just to see how my day is going; he is very affectionate and he tells me “I love you” 50 times a day.

Heck, he watches Project Runway with me without complaining. Now that’s love.

So I get his point about Valentine’s Day being overrated. After all, who really wants a pink plush Teddy bear  holding a sign that says “I (heart) you!” Gag. And flowers do die, I sadly must admit.

But I don’t think Valentine’s Day is should be ignored, even for people who do show each other authentic love every day.

Because the fact is, we get busy. Life happens. Kids “happen.” We don’t take the time to write romantic love notes or go on dates (I realized that Aaron and I only went out on a “date” THREE times last year…yes, year. Now that’s sad).

As I perused my facebook newsfeed this morning, I saw grand gestures of romance in action: breakfast in bed, a favorite book or DVD given to one’s beloved, and of course, scores of pictures of red roses.

Even for couples who are deeply in love and don’t “need” Valentine’s Day to “prove” their love for each other, a cultural day devoted to grand romantic gestures can be a nice reminder that “oh! We’ve lovers! Not just co-parents, or people-who-live-in-the-same-house-and-wish-we-had-more-time-to-spend-together.”

Maybe we need Valentine’s day to help us stop and do something special for our loved one.

So even though my husband hates Valentine’s Day, he knows that I, well, like Valentine’s Day. That’s why I found this when I opened my laptop this morning.

I expected nothing and hoped for everything–and a $50 Amazon card? That’s everything because even though he thinks Valentine’s Day is stupid, he loves me and acknowledges and even celebrates the things I think are important. And isn’t that what true love is all about?

So, go ahead. Celebrate your Love. It is Valentine’s Day, after all.

P.S. Since my husband hates V-day, I have to be sneaky about doing anything for him, lest I get the eye roll that says, “Really? Really.” So, I had it all planned out: I was going to stop by Kroger before I took him lunch and pick up some Krispy Kremes, a treat he LOVES. There would be NO eye rolling when he laid eyes on those doughnuts. BUT, he went to the store last night and bought himself Krispy Kremes! GRRR! Really? Really. Thwarted again in my Valentine’s scheming!