Keep Your Dirty Laundry at Home

Constant shaming and complaining about significant others across social media is irritating.

Each relationship offers challenges and disputes. But that’s what live conversations with your REAL friends and family are for.

Vent with them over a glass of wine (or two) in person and keep your Jerry Springer/Maury Povich accusations and drama offline.

Sorry, NOt Sorry

I sound old fashioned and I don’t care. Changes in relationship dynamics are causing many of us to look like talk show trash.

We’ve all watched daytime or late-night TV shows featuring outraged couples yelling accusations over each other and bringing up personal encounters or paternity tests in front of a captive audience.

We’ve stared wide-eyed at the episodes where people literally tore each other down as the audience egged them on. Now we see it run across our social media feeds daily.

Thankfully, these public bashing posts aren’t from my close family and friends, but I see it more often than care to.

Watching those trashy shows used to make me feel better about myself and my life. I was grateful no one I knew would ever bring me on a TV show to humiliate me.

But now, they don’t have to! It’s easy to get a target placed on you, with friends and acquaintances booing and sneering, without even knowing it.

Venting, Bashing & Teasing

Relationships aren’t perfect. We need to vent sometimes about our significant others, parents, siblings, friends and heaven knows even our kids. Talking through our frustrations help us move forward, clear our heads and gain perspective.

Many of us stopped seeking guidance and support from those who directly know us and truly care for us and replaced it with publicly airing dirty laundry, just like those old talk shows.

Posts done in jest are an exception. Those posts that highlight a spouse’s inability to navigate a grocery store, videos of boyfriends and girlfriends pranking each other or a teenager asking for blinker fluid are intended to be amusing and relatable. And most of the time, the posts are shared with consent.

Sharing funny relationship squabbles online can be entertaining for everyone. There is a difference between teasing a loved one and public humiliation.

Nobody’s perfect – even you

It’s easy to jump into conversations where we hear one side of the story. Tempting to jump on the bandwagon and bash someone we may not even know.

Fanning those flames in comments is effortless. Our screens and keyboards keep us distanced from the impact of these public forums.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times we could all rightfully complain about something our significant other has (or maybe hasn’t) done.

Here’s the thing – they could just as easily do the same thing about you!

There’s a difference between open communication within a relationship and opening your relationship to social media with your 546 friends.

My husband and I rarely say anything about one another that we couldn’t say to the other’s face. We openly joke about each other’s shortcomings, but we never cross the line to shame or embarrass each other.

It’s not to say we don’t disagree and get annoyed with each other. After a decade of marriage, we totally do! It means we keep our intimate discussions between us, maybe with a select group of family or friends, but never on public social media pages.

Teaching Disrespect

We strive to be good examples of a positive and loving relationship for our daughters. Kids look to all adults to show them how to treat others live and online.

When we look at some of the ways adults behave on social media, it’s no wonder our kids find it difficult to be kind or understand healthy relationships.

Relationships require effort and mutual respect. Adults must teach by example how to be open and honest without being mean or trying to embarrass another.

Whether you’re justified in your feelings or not, bashing your ex online or in person affects your kids.

We’ve all been told not to act on emotional responses and to take the time to think before we say something. Words, and posts, can’t be taken back and the impact of what we do and say matters in our relationships.

If we expect our kids to engage in healthy friendships and romantic relationships we better give them a better role model than talk show antics. We need to be better online and in person.

So if any of my family and friends find themselves on an emotional rollercoaster – call, email, text or message me directly before you publicly say something you can’t take back. I promise to listen to you vent and will even supply the wine!

3 Life Lessons from TV Christmas Movies

My name is Melissa and I love Hallmark Christmas movies.

With more than 85 million people planning to tune in this season, I’m not alone.

I still love my Discovery ID, Dateline and 20/20 shows. But every once in a while, I need a break from these gruesome stories of what damage people do to each other.

Sometimes, I need a character named Holly to ditch her CEO fiancé for a guy in a flannel that sells Christmas trees in a small town.

Sometimes I need a movie that highlights love, compassion and a little faith.

Yes, they are predictable and have similar plot lines. But each also offers some life lessons that can benefit us all.

Slow  Down

We’re all busy. We maintain schedules and appointments with a little time for spontaneity. Even when we get the change for free time, we’re online or taking pictures of the moment rather than being fully present in it.

The holiday season is meant to be spent with those you care about. Virtually every Hallmark Christmas movie includes at least one character attached to their phone and shouting orders to those around them.

That same character inevitably stops by, or gets stranded in, a small town with people who hug more than they Tweet. A place where townsfolk sit around a coffee shop and talk to each other rather than type a status update.

By the end of the 120 minutes, the wound-up city slicker learns to ditch the attachment to technology, fall in love with a local, slowdown and connect with those around them.

Yeah, it’s a movie. But it does remind us to not let life’s distractions come between us and those we love. It doesn’t hurt to be in idyllic surroundings with townspeople singing carols.

Be True to Yourself

We’re spread thin. Self-care is something many talk about, but few actually do.

Some of us stay in jobs or continue relationships when we know they are not benefiting us or bringing us joy. We plug along these paths because it’s easier than shaking things up by going for what we want.

In these beloved movies, at least one character hesitates to jump into what will bring them personal joy. A new job, romance or conversation that could change the course of their life – there is always that back and forth internal monologue that holds the character back.

Fear not! About halfway through the movie, the character wakes up and realizes they cannot hold back anymore and they take the plunge. Often, with great success. Sometimes even on Christmas Eve when the snow begins to fall.

Being everything to everyone is exhausting. Be sure you are doing at least one thing you love every day – like watching hokey movies. Life’s too short to not be yourself.

Believe in Miracles

Christmas celebrates the ultimate miracle.

During our busy lives we often fail to see the little miracles that appear before us. We miss the opportunity to play a part in being someone’s miracle.

So many of these holiday movies showcase the greater good within each of us. They also give hints to the good that surrounds us, in ways we don’t always see or expect.

Whether a holiday movie is a blockbuster on the big screen or a romantic television production, there is a moment when good intervenes and story’s outcome fills viewers with the sense that miracles can happen.

You’re right, these movies don’t imitate real life. They are overly optimistic and a little cheesy. They are hopeful and heartwarming. They make us believe there is good in everyone.

Wouldn’t it be a miracle if we could live like that everyday?

 

Share your favorite holiday movie! Here’s the full list of new Hallmark Christmas Movies.

 

Worth the Wait

At the end of the month, we celebrate a milestone – our 10th wedding anniversary.

Even more of an accomplishment is that we still like each other. You read that correctly. I LIKE my husband.

Don’t get me wrong, we do love each other. Love evolves and changes with each new experience and adventure life throws your way. Sharing a life together is much easier, and more fun, when you marry one of your best friends.

I’m not a Relationship expert, I just play one on TV

Based on my romantic track record prior to Matt, I wouldn’t consider myself worthy of offering any type of romantic advice. I kissed quite a few frogs and I am pretty sure there were times I was the frog.

In my 20s I was convinced relationships were supposed to be fiery and full of passion, not quiet and easy. That could be why previous romances crashed and burned and left me swearing off dramatic relationships forever.

Those previous experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – helped guide me in maintaining a successful marriage with my soul mate who had been right in front of me for years.

Friend Zone

Ours was not love at first sight.

Matt will be the first to say he didn’t want anything to do with me when we met on the bus at age 11. He claims my sister and I were both loud and mean, but what girl in junior high isn’t? Over the next few years we both got over my adolescent moodiness and became friends.

We went on a single date in high school because I preferred not to ruin our friendship by actually dating. He did ask me to prom our junior year of high school, as friends, and we remained so for nearly 15 years.

We needed those years to grow up and gain experiences. No matter where I moved in the States or he overseas, we always remained in contact and tried to see each other when we could.

During a visit for his brother’s wedding, Matt looked me straight in the eye and said he was tired of me dating people who treated me poorly. He boldly stated we should risk our friendship and finally date. Talk about fiery exit from the friend zone.

We’ve got issues

When couples first get together, they put out the best versions of themselves. Most of us like to wait a few months before we reveal our inner crazy or quirks.

Because of our years as friends, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We didn’t hide our crazy quirks, we gave them a high five.

All those previous relationship mistakes proved to be good for our marriage. We had talked about them as they happened and knew the effects they had on us personally. They serve as lessons learned so we don’t make those errors again.

We still have flaws, but we don’t use them against each other or point them out. We help each other do better and be better.

Dynamic Duo

Marriage takes mutual effort, but it shouldn’t be hard work. The other half of your dynamic duo should never bring intentional tears, cause self-doubt or insults. Your partner should soothe your worries and not add to them.

Finding the right life partner comes with time and experience. Since we didn’t get married until we were age 30, we had a chance to really develop a sense of self and selflessness that has proved essential in marriage.

Two weeks after we married, we moved to the East Coast. Matt then traveled more than half of that first year. He deployed when our oldest was six months and traveled consistently when both girls were toddlers.

None of us were excited about that schedule, however, we worked together to keep our relationship and our kids at the top of our priority list.

About a year ago, we started talking about relocating again due to Matt’s job. While we didn’t have a choice about our move to Maryland, we had numerous conversations about what kind of move would be best for our family this time.

While we’re here in Germany, he will be traveling less and we can enjoy our time here together. In addition, he’s supporting my efforts to be more entrepreneurial and work from home as a freelance writer.

No matter where we go or the type of work either of us do, I know he’s always in my corner and I’m in his.

Humor Me

Matt has always been funny. His humor is a bit of slapstick and a whole lot of sarcastic. He was the same when we were kids, just shorter with longer hair.

He can pull out movie quotes or song lyrics at just the right time when I am about to lose my cool so that I end up laughing instead of a foul-mouthed tirade.

Adding kids to a marriage pretty much forces a sense of humor. The crazy antics of our mini-me’s keep us on our toes and smiling. Sharing this parenthood journey with Matt is one of my favorites parts in our story. Chaos, toys, dog hair and laughter fills our house.

I’m in awe how our girls take on so much of our personalities yet remain unique. Watching Matt play, teach and encourage the girls has me fall in love with him each day all over again.

Keeping it alive

We don’t look like we did when we first met or even when we got married.

We don’t go bar hopping, belt out karaoke or attend late-night concerts anymore.

Date nights aren’t what they used to be, but we make an effort to spend time alone together. It’s often with beers and Netflix after kids are asleep, or walking the track while kids are playing soccer.

While it’s not glamorous or wild, these are opportunities for quality time to talk to each other about things other than work or parenting. That time to be ourselves and connect as a couple is so important.

However, when he playfully winks at me over the dinner table or tells me I look good (even if I’m in my pj’s) I am taken back to when he first said he loved me and it’s as if no time has passed.

Everyone knew but me

Apparently, I was the only one surprised at Matt’s dating declaration all those years ago.

Friends and family came out of the woodwork with comments like, ‘finally’ and ‘I knew it’. Even my dad said, “Well, it’s about time” when Matt asked for my hand in marriage.

I was pretty clueless there were any romantic feelings harbored over the years. During all our conversations, Matt never offered any clues that he thought of me as anything more than a friend.  He’s joked that he knew his patience would prove successful in the long run.

As we moved into our house in Maryland, I found a letter Matt had written to me when I was in college and he was active duty, stationed in Georgia. It was a casual letter just catching up and talking about making time to meet for a drink next time we were both in our hometown.

I don’t know why I had kept that letter all these years, but it made me think that there was a larger plan long before I was remotely aware of it.

I’m glad we didn’t date in high school. It wouldn’t be the same. This marriage, the life we built together, was worth the wait.