Category Archives: relationship

Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage – Book Review

Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your RelationshipTen Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America’s Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship by John Gottman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first looked at the chapter titles, I was turned off.  With chapters like “We don’t feel close anymore,” “You never talk to me” and “You don’t care about my dreams,” I was skeptical – we have a happy and loving relationship, and those problems just don’t apply to us. I had heard so much hype about the book, though, that I gave it a chance anyway – and I am so glad I did. It’s easily the best marriage book I’ve read since Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. The chapters are pertinent to many situations, not just the title problems. My favorite part? The activities to do (alone or with your spouse) that get at the heart of couple issues. One of the main threads I saw in the book was that couples should try to discuss feelings underlying problems as opposed to simply finding an immediate solution, and the activities seemed to facilitate that.

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Happy Anniversary, Babycakes!

Dear Paul,

One year ago today – the 365th happiest day of my life.  Thanks for making each day better than the one that came before.

Love, Your Wife of One Year,


The Wooden Spoon

Introducing a new, non-cliche, non-boring (I hope) name for the blog!  I’d like you to meet…

The Wooden Spoon

It’ll be the exact same blog with an altered title.  While I really feel like I am “living the dream,” it just sounds a little cheesy, obviously overdone, and possibly a bit snobby.  The Wooden Spoon just says “home” to me.

My husband was actually the brains behind this operation.  I wanted a new title and he suggested one after another.  I toyed with several of them.  Here were the finalists:

War on Peas (my personal favorite, but not exactly a description of this blog…)
Great Expectations
Honeymoons and Hairballs
The Chocolate Chip Cook-y
The Life of Pie
Batter Up
Daylight Savings: Making the Most of My Time
**The Wooden Spoon**

I am so, so, so lucky to have a husband who supports and encourages me.  I am typically embarrassed of what I write, so it’s difficult for me to show him my blog in the first place.  Luckily, he makes it easy.  Now I just have to keep encouraging him to start a blog of his own.  He’s a creative writer, so he’d never have a lack of writing material!

Goal Update

It’s about time … *shudder* … to check in on my goals.  All of my goals.  Which I have been “working towards.”  In theory.

It’s not so bad, really.  I think I’ll find that I’m not doing quite as well as I thought, though, which is the reason for the shudder.  Here goes nothing…

1)  Make delicious, home-made dinners a non-event

OK, this is the goal that I’m probably doing the best on (so I’m really glad it’s first!).  I’ve gone from burnt grilled cheese sandwiches and soggy PastaRoni to oven fried tilapia and martini mac and cheese.  My current goal is to find some lighter recipes to try.  Grade: A

2)  Buy and make quality pieces for our home

I’ve given more thought to the amount of time any given item will last, and if it’s worth putting in a few extra dollars for a better product.  Sometimes it’s not – a book at Half Price Books will be the same as a book at Barnes and Noble – but if it’s something that will be an obvious quality difference (for example, the watch H wears daily), I’d rather buy one that will last.  I try not to balk at spending more on an item I know we can get for less, and instead focus on the quality.  We haven’t had any major purchases in the past few months, though, so I’ve only put this into action on a small scale.  Grade: B

3)  Continuously improve our marriage

I read The Five Love Languages (and I’d highly recommend it to any person, married or not), and I’ve put a good dent in my second reading of Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus.  In a stroke of what can only be called brilliance, I put that book on the shelf behind the toilet.  Best marriage move  yet.  That may be an exaggeration, but it really has been a success – I could never convince H to read a marriage book so frequently otherwise.  Grade: A

4)  Be confident in my appearance

On the positive side, I’ve started wearing makeup on a regular basis, and I’ve started styling my hair once in a while instead of pulling it back every single day.  I haven’t been able to lose the weight that I wanted, though, so I’m disappointed most of the time  I look in the mirror.  Grade: D

5)  Be proficient on the sewing machine

I haven’t spent much time on this goal, so there’s not much to report.  I’ve only done one sewing project in 2010 (an apron), and it turned out well.  It’s nothing that I couldn’t have done in high school, however, so I’m going to have to give myself poor marks for this goal!  Grade: F

6)  Keep an organized, clean home

I’d say the house is organized.  We have a place for everything, anyway.  Everything in it’s place?  Not so much.  H is organized.  His jacket is never on the floor, his books are never left lying about, and his keys are always on the key hook.  I am a little more scatterbrained.  If I can see my desktop, it’s a good day.  I am working on it, though.  Whenever I get a spare moment, I play a game where I put away five things in every room.  (We only have six rooms, so it doesn’t take long.)  It’s made a difference.  Cleaning doesn’t happen quite as frequently as it should, but it could be worse.  Grade: B

7)  Act instead of plan

I used to waste a lot of time blog surfing.  I truly mean waste, too – I was subscribing to every semi-interesting blog that I came across, which quickly snowballed into over 250 subscriptions.  I’d fill up to 1000+ items in three days if I didn’t keep on top of it .  I’d spend hours just hitting next, next, next, next, on Google Reader.  I am very proud to say that I’ve kicked the habit!  I do still love reading posts, but I found a way to dramatically reduce wasting time on blogs that I wasn’t getting anything out of.  This left me with quite a bit more time to live in the real world, and I am getting only quality, interesting information daily.  Grade: A

8)  Keep a healthy household

After hundreds of dollars in dental and eyecare bills, I’d give myself an A just to make myself feel better about spending so much.  And that’s AFTER insurance.  We also joined the YMCA and have been regularly attending.  My $1 per half hour plan has been largely successful.  I’m still using and loving it, and H has made such a good habit of working out that he doesn’t even need to use the program anymore.  We’ve cut out chocolate and chips for Lent.  Next up: portion control and cutting the calories!  Grade: A

9)  Be confident in our finances

I use to track all expenses, and I know where nearly every dollar goes.  That’s not to say that I rigidly follow our budget, however.  Something always seems to come up that we weren’t expecting, or that I thought would cost less.  I also would like to have a better “big picture” idea of finances.  H typically handles all larger transactions (stocks, mutual funds, etc.), and I do day to day items.  It would be better if we had a little more overlap… or at least if I had a better idea of our finances on a whole.  Grade: C

10)  Be a friend

After a long hiatus, I’ve made friends with Facebook once again.  As much as I dislike it in theory (more on that later), it does have quite a few redeeming values, and at this point I’ll use it for the purpose of being a better friend.  Also, another good mark: by the end of this weekend, I’ll have spent time with three different groups of friends – a really good weekend for me.  I’m still not making the grade, though.  One of my best high school friends moved into a duplex about a mile down the road two months ago, and I’ve seen him ONCE in all of that time.  Grade: B

11)  Give back to the community

Big fat failure.  Nothing else to say about this one.  Grade: F

That wasn’t so bad!  I think I need to check in on my goals every month – it has been eye opening, and it’s motivated me to get up off of this couch and get going!

On the Bookshelf, Relationship Edition

Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage by Dr. John Gottman

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray, Ph.D.

The Nest Newlywed Handbook by Carley Roney

The Seven Levels of Intimacy by Matthew Kelley

Mars and Venus Together Forever by John Gray, Ph.D.

Our Love Languages

Five Love Languages was a quick read!  It was a very interesting book, and reading it shed much more light than taking the small quiz.  My husband read one chapter at my request, which I truly appreciate.  Here are our “revised” love languages, based on the additional information we now know.


Primary love language – Receiving gifts

Secondary love languages – Touch, Words of affirmation


Primary love language – Quality time

Secondary love languages – Receiving gifts, Acts of service

Love Languages

I’ve just started reading the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

The Five Languages

I’m only a very short way into it, but I’m loving it so far!  It’s based on the fact that everyone speaks a love language – “a primary way of expressing and interpreting love.”  The book’s website describes the languages as follows:

  • Words of Affirmation

    Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

  • Quality Time

    In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

  • Receiving Gifts

    Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

  • Acts of Service

    Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

  • Physical Touch

    This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Last week, the husband and I took a test to see what language we speak.  Here are the results!


  • Words of Affirmation – 8
  • Acts of Service – 8
  • Receiving Gifts – 7
  • Physical Touch – 6
  • Quality Time – 1


  • Quality Time – 11
  • Words of Affirmation – 8
  • Acts of Service – 4
  • Physical Touch – 4
  • Receiving Gifts – 3

I can certainly see it in our everyday life, but I don’t think I ever thought much about it until this quiz.  It will be interesting to read more and see how to use this information.