Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Decade of Being Xan's Valentine

I came across a video of Elder and Sister Bednar giving relationship advice that really gave words to how I would describe my relationship with Xan.  The link to the article is here.

“People don’t fall in love,” said Sister Bednar. “You pick someone with whom you can create the love that you desire . . . . We’ve spent years being married and creating that love, and I can honestly say we’re more in love today than we were 40 years ago.”
Sister Bednar described their own courtship and marriage as a growth of mutual love and respect rather than a whirlwind romance. “We didn’t just fall in love at first sight,” she said. “And many people think that’s how it’s done—that you just look at someone and you know they’re the right one and that you’re going to fall in love and get married, but it took some time.”
She then proceeded to impart this advice: “I encourage youth not to just go on a date with one person one time and say, ‘oh, that person’s not for me.’”
Elder Bednar expounded, “The word ‘love’ is both a verb and a noun . . . . Sometimes, we think we have to have the feeling—the noun—before we start doing love—the verb.” He continued, “I don’t want this to sound unromantic, but the feeling follows the [action]. We find people all around the world who think [they] have to find the one . . . . More correctly, you have to become the one . . . through what you do.”

Xan and I first met in Fall 2004.  I was 19 and a year out in college.  He was 24 and finishing his final year of a BS in Physics. Xan's first impression of me was that I was really cute (I believe he used the word "Hot!") but I was extremely young, immature, directionless, and a bit too much into small chat (which I called flirting).  My impression of him was wow! This guy has traveled a lot!  I would love to marry him and travel the world!  But... he was extremely anti-social, a bit geeky, way too serious about life and homework, and did not flirt back with me.

In the next two years, there was some random contact and seeing each other on campus and through mutual friends.  At one point, I planned a gigantic games night with 40-50 people just so I could have an excuse to invite him.  LOL!  (My roommate can back me up on this one.)  I was such a social butterfly back then!  Over the summer of 2006, while he was abroad, we began writing back and forth. It started with an e-mail I received from him that went something like this, "Bybee, I heard you were engaged.  Xan."   My response, "Xan, I'm engaged???  Do you know with who?  This sounds awesome!  Bybee."  While Xan and I disagree on when our first date was, we can agree that we began dating in the Fall of 2006.  

Every couple is going to learn what is best for them.  I have found that Xan and I do not always follow the traditional "rules" and advice that I grew up hearing.  The following may or may not work for you.  But, these are the "rules" we have created for us.

Marriage is a legally binding contract and a covenant made to God.

Xan's and mine marriage is based upon social contracts we have made with each other and eternal covenants we made with God.  Marriage, for us, covers how we divide the housework, who does the shopping, how we file our taxes, how we budget our money, where we live, what car do we buy, who's career comes first, and all the other mundane and legally required practicalities of life.  Our marriage contract is forever.  It is ever changing and evolving.  It requires a lot of compromise, revisions, and forgiveness. That means that our marriage is not dependent upon how in love with each other we are in that moment.

The reality of life is that bills need to be paid.  We are equal partners in the relationship.  We both need to do as much as we are able to contribute to the family units well being.  It would not be fair for either one of us to put our own wants and desires above the other.  Marriage is about the well-being of the unit not the individual.  Marriage is always about compromise.

Our relationship is based upon friendship and mutual respect.  Love is the bi-product of the two.

I love the feeling of being in love!  I also recognize that it is a feeling that comes and goes in a relationship.  It is often hard to hold on to the fairy tale feeling that makes one feel giddy and full of butterflies.  Life happens.  Work gets busy.  Household responsibilities eat up time and energy.   But the way to the more mature love that continues through the distractions, disappointments, frustrations, and resentments is through the constant serving of the other.  Nothing else I have tried has helped me grow closer to Xan and forgive any perceived trespasses as actively putting his own needs before my own.

Love is a Choice 

Xan can never say anything so powerful to me as whenever he says, "I would still choose you."  Despite our infertility, despite my health, despite his struggle to secure an academic job, despite any other curve ball, we both CHOOSE to stay with the other and love the choice.  It is contracted in our marriage  It is a bi-product of the effort we put into our relationship.   

I am responsible for my own happiness. And He His.

It took me several years of relearning this lesson before it finally took root.  When Xan and I first got married, and I felt sad, angry, depressed, lonely, or whatever other feeling I didn't want to have, I expected Xan to fix it.  If I was sad, it was his job to cheer me up.  When I was lonely, it was his job to put me first and spend time with me.  When I was feeling angry at something he did or said, it was his job to apologize and cater to my every whim.  

When I expect Xan to make me happy, I am putting myself first.  I am competing with his happiness by saying mine is more important.  I have learned it works better when I take responsibility for my own emotions by having my own interests, as well as mutual interests with Xan, and seeking ways to make him happy since he is already doing his best to make me happy.

Do not Bring up Emotionally Charged Topics After 10pm
I realize that many couples thrive with the famous advice to "Never Go to Bed Angry; Stay Up and Fight."  Xan and I tried that a time or two during our first year of marriage and decided we would never follow it again!

Here's the thing.  I don't know what it is about 10pm but we both turn mean in different ways if we attempt to "work something out."  And magically, something called a good night's sleep seems to cure us.  *Also applies to anytime I am hungry and need to eat...

Things have been so much better after we mutually decided to try out this thing called, don't even bring it up and just go to bed if it is after 10pm.  95% of the time that I go to bed angry at him, I wake up and I have no idea what it was I wanted to talk to him about or can't figure out what the big deal was.  If either of us are still annoyed or upset, we are able to talk about it in a much more healthy way and our "fights" become more debates and discussions.

Life With Him is Just Better
In spite of his love to scare me half to death...

Xan throwing snaps at my feet when I wasn't looking...  (Thank you, Dad, for capturing this moment!)
Especially when his gifts are both practical and exactly what I wanted...

Valentine's Gift 2016: A smaller Cast Iron pan... I'm so excited!
But mostly because I still choose us...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Flower Soap And Shampoo Bars

TADA!  My soap is out of the molds. They now will sit and finish cure time for the next 4-6 weeks.  I should be able to use the first one by the middle of March.

I got impatient last Tuesday and checked on my soap by taking one out of the mold a little early... wasn't quite ready but it survived.  The rest were removed on Thursday and came out clean. Yay! 

Today, I made Shampoo bars.  The recipe had a lot more ingredients but the process was about the same.  I just needed to do more prep work to get the ingredients measured out at the right temperatures before mixing the oils with the lye solution.   

I read online that one woman used the Red Solo cups to mix the water and lye.  She said it was easier cause she could just throw it out when finished.  My "gold" cup held up with no leaks but here's a picture to show how caustic it is!  Gloves and goggles are important...

The scents used for the Shampoo Bars was Lemongrass and Bergamot.  I didn't have enough Bergamot so I supplemented with a bit of Lime and Lemon.

I tried out my other molds.  I filled 6 small squares and 5 bigger bars.

I'll be able to take these bars out Tuesday since it has less olive oil in it so it will harden up faster.  But, I'll have to let them cure for 6-8 weeks...

 Tomorrow, I hope to make lotion!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Xan's Beard Gone Rogue

***Intro from 2/2/2016: I just discovered this post in my drafts from almost a year ago!  I still LOVE and miss my husband's crazy beard. :) Someday... When he's not on the job market... I hope I can convince him to grow it out long enough to do a true Viking beard with braided accents!

The following was written Spring 2015:

A year ago, Xan finally trimmed his crazy hair and beard after taking a break when he tore his Achilles Tendon.
His hair shortly after he tore his achilles tendon July 2013
My husband grows an AWESOME beard!

Here are the final results of untrimmed hair from July 2013 to April 2014.

People didn't even recognize him at church and a couple people thought he was my brother.  LOL!