Jeff and I have this moment where everything changed. We hold it sacred.
It was not intentional at the time, but it has so profoundly shaped our marriage, it now is. It is a conversation that keeps going, keeps growing and keeps shaping our lives. I want to share it with you in hopes that you will have the same conversation and allow it to impact your whole life.
As engaged love birds Jeff and I dreamt of our future together and anticipated what the days that stretched before us would bring. We were just naive enough to believe that we could do family life better than our parents. We shared stories about the things we hated and the things we loved about our childhoods. It became clear that what we each viewed as ‘normal’ was very different, which lead to a list of things we wanted to be ‘normal’ in our house.
Here is our Pre-Martial Bliss List…
- Family dinners around the table every night
- A home that was welcoming to our children’s friends; a place they wanted to come
- To be a single income family when our children were young
- For Jeff to be an active participant in raising the children
- To encourage and foster close grandparent/children relationships
This list has become our “Measuring Stick”; that which we hold up decisions against to see if they measure up.
The Measuring Stick works because it gives you a clear idea about what you and your partner value in life together, when there is nothing at stake, when emotions are not high. In essence it helps you align your hearts with a purpose and vision. It becomes a touch stone for life’s simple decisions and the hard ones alike.
The day to day decisions…
When three kids come running up to me after school requesting a playdate, my yes is automatic. I packed up little children, threw off nap schedules, ventured out on the snowy roads to grandparents houses, every week during the children’s pre-school years. I have blessedly set more tables than I can count.
The tough ones too…
We contemplated moving our family for a job opportunity three hours away for Jeff, which came with a larger salary. It felt like everyone around us was living a better life; more holidays, cuter clothes, nicer homes, better behaved children, and on and on in their picture perfect lives. More money would fix the feelings of inadequacy that were plaguing us right?
I began dreaming of all the things the additional income would afford. I have a deep love for Louis Vuitton, Sephora and pedicures. A new job, a new house, and more stuff – sign me up!
Enter the Measuring Stick.
This job would mean more travel for Jeff, so nightly family dinners were in jeopardy. The travel would certainly impact the time he spent with our children. Fostering close relationships with the grandmas being three hours in the wrong direction was going to be more difficult. All of a sudden the answer was clear; even though it was not the answer we were hoping for.
The truth was, when we made our Measuring Stick none of our items had been about how many things we could purchase or places we could see. It could have been, but it wasn’t.
We mourned the excitement we felt, and moved on, this time with a clearer focus on what was foundational for us and what was not.
Years later I can tell you we have not regretted the decision to stay put and be more satisfied with the relationships that we have built instead.
We have seen Mickey Mouse less but we have seen our children’s friends more. There has been lots of grandparent time, nightly dinners are a main stay, and Jeff has poured endlessly into the lives of our children daily. The evidence speaks for itself, he has two sons and a daughter who adore him, trust him, and rely on him.
And it all began with a list. And the list began another pivotal conversation.
The Other Conversation That Changed Everything.