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  • Sarah Reijonen

On love & respect


Above: Look at those crazy kids! Our first official date 17 years ago.


This year Spank and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, and while that is still four months away, I thought I’d write a little love blog for Valentine’s Day (it will be our 16th Valentine’s Day together!)


Of course, I’m not writing this blog to say Spank and I always have it together, but hey, we’ve lasted this long (and not just lasted, but we genuinely love one another and enjoy each other’s company) so I figured I’d talk about what has worked for us and kept us together for this long.


1. Sing his/her praises

First of all, your spouse should know you love him or her (from here on out, I’m going to use “him,” because my husband is a definite “him”). You should tell your significant other daily. Again, this is not something I always succeed in, but as I’ve upped my gratitude game, I’ve noticed so much of my gratitude is geared toward my husband. Still, I shouldn’t just share that with my journal—I should share it with him. In addition, I should share it with my friends, and not in a braggy way, but in a way that encourages them to be thankful for their spouses, as well. I like to picture Will Ferrell in “Elf” shouting, “I love you, I love you, I love you!”


2. Talk about everything

Nothing is off the conversation table in our relationship. We talk about everything. With that said, I know that men are not always talkers. I give Spank space and silence when I can tell that’s what he needs, while other times I ask him to go for a walk; this usually gets the wheels turning and the conversation flowing. Then there are those times when the conversation (and wine) is flowing. Those times can produce some of the most fruitful conversations (get it, fruit…) but they can also loosen us up and get us into some raw areas. Of course, too much liquid courage can lead to liquid crazy so tread lightly with that one.


3. Re-focus often

Once we’ve talked about everything, we take those conversations filled with our hopes and fears and dreams and we re-focus. We are constantly re-focusing our health habits and goals (i.e. drink less wine, eat more greens and exercise more often). Together, we continue to set the bar higher and aim for success as one, cohesive unit. Of course, travel is a central theme in our marriage so we are always planning new trips, but we are re-focusing here, as well. Travel is important, but relationships are paramount so Spank and I are always re-prioritizing to make sure we are spending time with friends and family instead of just indulging in our own wanderlust. Re-focusing helps keep us on the same page, because as we all know, people change over time—it’s important that we change and grow together.


4. Time > Money

I just listened to this Ed Sheeran song the other day called “I Don’t Want Your Money.” The next line is this: “I just want your time.” True that, right? I mean, let’s be real—we would all like more money and we need money to get by in this life, BUT it shouldn’t be the ultimate. While society wants you to work the extra hours, push for overtime or take your work home with you, I say stop! Or at the very least, think of how it’s affecting your marriage.


I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind the women out there that if you want more time from your man, you have to demand less stuff. You can’t have both. You may be SAYING you want more time with him, but at the same time you are saying you want a bigger house or a new car or a $300 purse. Men are naturally programmed to provide, so if you say you have a physical need he can provide, he’s going to push for that and let time fall by the wayside. Is that really all his fault?


5. Protect your marriage

God is the ultimate protector of our marriage (this should probably be bullet point No. 1, but I decided to save the best for last, instead). That’s right, we have the ultimate security system for our marriage, and while we don’t always go to church and often go overboard on indulgences (ahem: wine, travel), Spank and I have decided together to make God our foundation and we agree that every good thing we do comes from Him.


God has got our backs, but he also gives us a responsibility to protect our own relationship. Spanky and I do this by following the “Billy Graham Rule,” which says we shouldn’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex other than our spouse. Of course, we’re still not always perfect at this, but we both try to follow it to the best of our abilities and situational circumstances. The whole point here is to respect your spouse and not to be put into a situation where you’re tempted to be unfaithful to him or even incite suspicion. Like I said though, ultimately, it’s about respect—mutual respect. Isn’t that what this is all about? Oh, and LOVE!


I hope you all have a special Valentine’s Day with the one you love, and remember to tell him or her how thankful you are for their presence in your life! And for heaven's sake, don't buy her red roses!!

Above: This month's RV trailer door decor: Artwork from one of those ridiculous Sip 'n Paint classes.

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