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In light of Valentine’s Day today I wanted to get a little more personal about my marriage. Michael and I got married right outside of collage at the young age of 22. It was the best decision I have ever made. When I married Michael, all I could see was how perfect our marriage was going to be. We would make dinner together every night, wine and dine on the weekends, and he was going to send roses to me all the time at work…..yeah right. Any married person out there knows that all of the above are unrealistic expectations. Our first year of marriage was T.O.U.G.H., but praise God for getting us through it! Marriage is a learning experiences and each year we have gotten married, I can honestly say that it has gotten better each year. I am going to share you five things I would have told my newlywed self [almost] 6 years ago.
Leave the old, and cleave onto the new. I learned this mostly in our first year of marriage. I grew up with a close family. We did everything together. We ate dinners every night at the dinner table as a family, we went to church together as a family, and we even took family pictures together as a family. Michael and I made the decision to move to his hometown in Chicago during our first year of marriage.Even though I loved always finding something to do in the city, I missed the days that I could just pop by my parents on the fly. It was very challenging to put my comfort in Michael instead of my family. I remember my our first Christmas away from my family I tried to recreate our family breakfast and it was a disaster. I burnt the eggs, our Christmas tree was as big as our tiny apartment, and I spilled pancake batter everywhere…twice.
Long story short, my husband saw that I was not comforted by just him and that hurt him. Husbands love to feel that they are the source of comfort and security for their wives. It also is a sign of respect to them as well. Once I learned that, it changed our dynamic. We started to be each other’s “family” to each other. It is a bittersweet feeling to leave the family you grew up with and cleave to a new person, but it was worth it.
My husband has never been the big traveler. He loves to explorer, but he hates going to the same place and not actually doing something active. He also is hugely afraid of flying. I, on the other hand, could travel every other week and be completely ok with that. I am always counting down to my next trip. Whenever I am debating on spending money I always tell myself that I am using up plane ticket money. Haha.
We went on many trips with family our first two years of marriage. Probably about 3-4 times a year. Traveling with family is great, but it isn’t the same as spending one on one time together. You can get one on one time at home, but let’s be honest – that rarely happens. After two years of being married, we decided to take a week long trip to Florida, just the two of us. This was an amazing trip. We learned to travel together, to go out to eat together and not have to worry about being somewhere by a specific time. It was good for us. We found out what our interests were and how to carry on deeper conversations. When you travel alone together you see and learn of a different side about your spouse and what they like to do in their free time when there is no distractions. When you are on vacation you like to do what you love so I got to see more of what Michael likes to do for fun and his hobbies. Most of the time at home we don’t truly take the time to do our hobbies because life gets in the way. Vacation time is the best time to figure this out. Below are a couple of pictures from the Florida trip we took.
We now take multiple trips a year. I am not saying extravagant trips for a week. We have only taken one other trip since then that has been longer than a weekend this past June for our 5th anniversary. The trips we took were weekend trips where we stay in a $50 a night hotels, hiking in the woods, trying out fun cafes and restaurants, having meaningful conversations while we were on the road together, and simply doing life together. I encourage you before the end of the month to plan a trip with your spouse, even if it’s for a weekend.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a hobby that you BOTH can do together. If you know Michael and I, we are very similar, yet very opposite people. We both enjoy the outdoors, being active, pizza, and ice cream. However, I love blogging and he loves hunting and smoking meat (very manly haha).
While supporting each other’s hobbies and interests are VERY important in a marriage, it is not realistic to expect the other person to jump on board with you on your interest in hobby 24/7. We both take the time to support each other’s interests. However; it is okay to not like your spouse’s hobby. But it is very important to find something that you both can equally enjoy doing together. This can be cooking, going out to eat, movies, DIY project, etc.
It took us a while to find that hobby /interest. It wasn’t until a small trip to a state park changed that when we both fell in love with hiking. Since then, we know how to spend our weekends. We have driven to Tennessee many times to go hiking and we recently did a trip to Colorado/Utah where we visiting many national parks. Hiking is our space to reconnect, to talk with no distractions, and to glorify God’s wonderful creation. The best part is that it’s inexpensive and you get a good workout while doing it. What also comes from hiking is the stories and pictures that follow. We will sometimes spend evening looking at old videos from our hikes or planning our next dream trip! If you and your spouse are looking for a good hobby to do together, HIKE!
This directly goes against what I just said in my previous thought. Yes, Michael and I do prioritize spending time together doing something that we love, BUT it is very crucial to spend time with others outside of your relationship. (AKA girl time and bro time). Every couple falls into the trap of being consumed by each other as some point in their relationship (even if it’s for a day haha). When I first got married I felt so guilty to make plans without Michael. However, when it came to talking about the Bachelor or shopping – Michael didn’t exactly know what to say in those conversations. I also didn’t have much to attribute to hunting. We didn’t start actively spending time each week with other people until our 4th year of marriage! I can’t believe it took us that long. You will not always enjoy each other’s hobbies and that is ok. Some things were just meant to do with the same-sex. Spending time with our girlfriends or bros keeps us sane. I mean I love spending time with Michael, but we both can say at times we need our girl time and guy time.
It’s like the saying goes: “Couples that pray together, stay together”. This is something that Michael and I started doing recently. I cannot believe that we waited until almost 6 years of marriage to start praying together…and I am not talking about at the dinner table. The kind of prayer I am that I talking about it praying together when times are tough, when one person is upset, or for no particular reason at all. Praying for each other out loud tears down those walls and makes you both vulnerable. This is something that we are in the process of working on and have a long road to perfecting, but in the short time that we have started doing this I have already felt a closeness to Michael that I have never experienced. There is nothing more attractive than when your husband asks you “ How can I pray for you” and takes your hand and starts praying over you. It is very hard and awkward to do at first, but I promise it will get easier. It is also a great way to prevent fights (hehe). I mean, how can someone get angry and mad when you ask them to pray together?
I want to clarify that Michael and I have a long way to go and we are not perfect. We still fight like once a week and get annoyed with each other, but we have learned to apologize and “get over it” much faster than our first year of marriage. We are more than just a married couple. He is my best friend and knows every part of me. He knows my struggles, my weaknesses, my faults, my strengths, my faces and gestures, and sometimes my thoughts (which can be very creepy at times). I encourage anyone reading this to NOT set these five things I have talked about as expectations from your spouse. I challenge YOU to take ownership and try them out for yourself. Most of our fights stem from unmet expectations. Most likely when your husband sees you doing all of these, he will want to return the favor.
My hope is that these five tips encourage you instead if discourage you. You have to work for a good marriage and all of that hard work is worth it in the end. As much as I wish could tell my 22-year-old self all that I have learned, I wouldn’t have taken the mistakes, fights, hard situations back. I now know the importance of these five lessons I have learned in our marriage. I now value the importance of balance and the importance of making Christ the center because I know what a marriage is like without it.
Every fall my husband and I try to get away for a weekend trip to relax before the holiday season. This year we decided to visit Knoxville & Gatlinburg Tennessee. We wanted to catch all of the colorful trees and the beautiful hiking weather. A couple years ago we went to Gatlinburg in June and it was one of our favorite trips. The weather was not too hot or not too cold, the food was great, and our wallets were happy. There were so many different trails that we didn’t get the chance to hike them all, so we decided to go back this fall and finish the hikes we wanted to do. Here are a few of our favorite spots from our first trip to Gatlinburg:
There were so many different trails that we didn’t get the chance to hike them all, so we decided to go back this fall and finish the hikes we wanted to do. I loved visiting this time in the fall because the mountains were painted in fall colors and the air was crisp! We chose to stay in Knoxville and commute to Gatlinburg due to the restaurants and shopping selection in Knoxville. We didn’t want to feel like we were always in the middle of a major tourist even in Gatlinburg so we drove there for the hikes and drove back to Knoxville for our evening activities. I am going to give you the run down from our trip on where we stayed, where we hiked, and what we ate during our weekend getaway.
Our second trip to the Smokies we did things a little differently. We decided to stay in Knoxville and drive to Gatlinburg for the hiking. We chose to do this because we preferred Knoxville’s unique and local restaurants/shopping and we still could make a quick 45 minutes drive to hike the most beautiful trails in Gatlinburg during the day. It was nice because we would drive up to Gatlinburg early in the morning before the crowds came and we hiked. We would finished hiking around 2-3 PM each day and would drive back to Knoxville, shower, then go out for dinner and shopping. We never worried about huge crowds, traffic, parking fees, and lines. We stayed in a hotel right off of Market Square in Knoxville call The Four Points by Sheraton. It was right by the University of Tennessee’s football stadium. We were about a 10 minute walk to Market Square.
We like to look for two things when we hike: a trail with a water fall and a trail with a view. In our first trip to Gatlinburg a little over a year ago we hiked to the Ramsey Cascades (8 miles round trip) to see a waterfall and we climbed to the top of Chimney Tops (4 miles round trip) to see the view. This time around we chose to be a little more adventurous. We hiked to Rainbow Falls (5.5 mile round trip) and we summited Mt. Leconte (12 miles round trip).
Rainbow falls was absolutely gorgeous. The trailhead to this trail is about 10 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg. There is limited parking at the trailhead so I would recommend getting there before 8:00 AM if you plan to go. I would recommend bringing water and a snack. I would also recommend bringing a layering piece like a jacket or long sleeve shirt if you go. As you get to the waterfall it can be a little chillier. If you go early enough you don’t need to bring food for lunch. It is nice because we got back around 11:00, just in time for a stroll in downtown Gatlinburg and we grabbed lunch right after. The hike was a little more hard on your knees due to constant climbing up and down rocks towards. At the very end of 2.75 miles you will reach the falls. What I love about these falls is that you can walk behind them! Here are a few shots we got from this hike:
If there is ONE hike you need to do in the Smokies, THIS IS THE HIKE. I have never summited a mountain before so if you are going to do you first summit, this is probably the best hike to do to get you warmed up. I would recommend starting early – probably 8:00 again. We started at 9 and got back by 3:00. I would also bring a jacket, some layers, food for lunch, cash (I will explain in a minute) and plenty of water. The hike up to the top was definitely uphill the entire time. We had to stop a few times to catch our breath. Unlike Rainbow Falls trail, this trail was very smooth. The first mile or two is pretty flat and follows a beautiful river. When you hit the “cave” that is when the trail starts to go uphill. Here is what the “cave” looks like:
The next 3 miles is basically uphill. About half way to the summit you will reach the Alum Cave Bluffs. The bluffs were gorgeous! They had such a cool view!Most people stop at this point, but DO NOT STOP! The top is well worth the extra hike. Below is a picture of the Alum Cave Bluffs.
After you pass the bluffs you are about half way to the top. This is where the temperature starts to lower and you start to get to the pine trees. The views were BREATHTAKING! This was my favorite part of the hike (besides the top) because everything smelled like a pine candle (except it was real). I told my husband that it smelled like Christmas! When we got to the top there were multiple lookouts. Cliff tops and Myrtle Point were the two lookouts that we went too. Myrtle Point is probably the most popular lookout. We hiked on a cloudier day. We were lucky though because from time to time the clouds would clear and we could see the breathtaking views! Both are picture below:
LEFT: Cliff Tops RIGHT: Myrtle Point
It was about 40 degrees at the top. I was wearing shorts with a jacket and I felt good. The pines blocked most of the wind and kept us pretty warm. The entire time at the top I was telling my husband how good a hot chocolate sounded. I swear God was hearing me because as we came around the corner we passed this “cabin village” called the Leconte Lodge. We walked in and right in front of us they were selling bottomless mugs of hot chocolate for $4!! (Cue the hallelujah!) They also sold food and other drinks as well. There were also restrooms at the top too. The lodge was quaint and cozy and what you would expect for it to be with a lodge at the top of a mountain. The inside led to a back deck where we sat on rocking chairs and looked out to a view of the Smokies. It was probably one of the most relaxing places I have been. What I thought was also really cool is that llamas are the main source of transportation of food up to the top of the mountains. Below are some pictures of Mt. Leconte Lodge.
Overall this was our favorite hikes out of all the hikes we have done in the Smokies. Here are more photos of our hike to Mt. Leconte:
We ate the majority of our meals in Market Square in Knoxville. Market Square is a strip with tons of restaurants and boutiques. Every weekend night there is always something going on. Saturday night the University of Tennessee has a lot of football fans come into town and they had a concert series going on at the square.
2. Tupelo Honey ( Downtown Knoxville – Market Square – Southern Comfort Food) – Biscuits are UHHHmazing.
Stock and Barrel – Best Burgers!!
My husband and I are so very thankful for our trip to the Smokies. I would recommend to any couple to find a hobby that you BOTH enjoy and to take time once a month, once a season, or once a year to do that thing together. Four years ago we discovered that we both loved hiking. Since then, we have traveled to Colorado, Utah, and Tennessee to take on different hiking adventures. Knoxville and Gatlinburg definitely do not fall short on our list. We left filled with joy and hungry for more adventures in the future.
My husband and I had a relaxing trip to Nashville this past Labor Day weekend. One of my favorite things about Nashville is their taste in fashion and the millions of beautiful murals around the city. We went all over – 12 South, The Gulch, East Nash, Germantown, and Broadway. Each area had its own culture. I had a lot of people message/comment on the places on went while in Nash. I plan on doing an entire post of my favorite places / things to do in Nashville! Meanwhile, here are some of my looks from this past weekend. Below each picture you can shop my look by clicking on each picture. Continue reading “My Nashville Looks”
I feel like what makes traveling more exciting is when you have cute travel bags to bring with you. I mean sitting in the car or the airport are not the most desired things to do, but when you have a cute weekender bag or piece of luggage – that all seems to go away.
I am off to the music city of Nashville this weekend and I couldn’t leave without bringing this bag I recently received from Karlie Clothes. This online store and wholesaler has the cutest clothes, accessories, jewelry, and of course – bags. I love the history of this family-owned company and their foundation that they live on. I am ALL about the details of this Tuscan Weekender bag I am carrying. (Which is currently on sale!!) It is the perfect size because it is not too big or not too small. I finally have a bag for weekend trips that can fit my size 10 shoes in. They have plenty of other totes and weekender bag options too. Click HERE to see more of their bag options. Continue reading “Weekender Tote”