What Maple Syrup Taught Me About Motherhood

What Maple Syrup Taught Me About Motherhood

By Marilette Sanchez

As an adult, I’ve balanced being a full-time college student, a volunteer for a high school ministry, and a retail employee for 30+ hours. I’ve held two internships and two part-time jobs simultaneously. Yet, never have I felt more overwhelmed and powerless than at my most current career choice. My current job? Being a mommy of two.

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Millenials and Marriage: Why We Can’t Get What We Want

By Amber Lapp

This is a guest post from Amber, my dear friend from college. She and her husband David are Research Fellows at the Institute for Family Studies, Affiliate Scholars at the Institute for American Values, and co-investigators of the Love and Marriage in Middle America Project, a qualitative research inquiry into how working-class young adults form relationships and families. Amber’s work has appeared in media outlets such as The Atlantic Online, First Things, and The Huffington Post. She is mommy to sweet toddler Daniel and newborn Peter. You can read her blog or follow her on Twitter.

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My husband David and I have spent the past three and a half years interviewing and writing about Millenials (18-33 year olds) and their experiences forming relationships and families. What we’ve heard has convinced us that while young adults are delaying marriage, they still value marriage. Despite spouting off excuses (fear of divorce and few positive marriage models; little trust in the opposite sex; job instability and lack of financial peace; changing norms when it comes to sex, cohabitation, and childbearing; an over-idealized notion of romantic love; and more), Millenials still have a deep desire for marriage.

A recent article at National Review Online tells us that Millenials are “connected to friends, family, and colleagues on the ‘new platforms of the digital era,’” yet are disconnected from “the core human institutions that have sustained the American experiment— work, marriage, and civil society.” Only about 44 percent of young adults aged 18 to 29 are employed full-time. Only 26 percent are married, and almost half of children born to Millenials are born to unmarried women. Only 19 percent of Millenials say that “most people can be trusted.”

As a Millenial myself, these stats strike me as true, but tragic, something David and I wrote about at First Things last month. The good news, though, is that this is not the way Millenials want things to be. When it comes to marriage, young adults are not giving up. 80 percent of us still say that marriage is an “important” part of our life plan, according to the Knot Yet Report.

In one breath they might say, “Marriage is just a piece of paper.” But in the next, they say that it’s a piece of paper they want and that is important. David and I have made sense of this seeming contradiction by noting that it has a lot to do with the discrepancy between what young adults see as the ideal and what they see as reality. Ideally, they’d like to get married and create a stable family for their kids. But they feel that in reality this is hard to do, fewer and fewer people are doing it, and they are not sure how to do it themselves.

“Everybody wants that—it’s their dream,” 20-year-old Julie said of marriage when we interviewed her. Her friend Kelly agreed, tossing her blonde hair before wrinkling her pixie nose and asking, “But is it reality these days?”

Most of us struggle with the disconnect between what we want and what is realistic for us to attain. But with young adults and marriage, the gap seems glaringly impossible to bridge.

That’s why I’m so encouraged by initiatives like I Believe in Love (iBil), an online community of young adults dedicated to helping each other “write a different story about lasting love in America.”  Their “About Us” page explains that the site is “written by real people telling real stories about real love” who are seeking “to understand how to get to love, marriage and family life, and how it to keep it.”

We Millenials must resist the temptation to allow life’s experiences to make us jaded by love. Take Mary, an iBil contributor, as an example. Six days before her freshman year of college, her parents separated. By choosing to surrounding herself with “couples who are in it for the long run,” she was able to move past her skeptical feelings toward marriage, and beyond her thoughts that marriage was nothing but “a hopeless cause.”

Most Millenials may be disconnected from marriage, work, and civil society—but it’s also something that we, like Mary, must take ownership of through creative measures of our own.

QUESTION: Why is there such a big gap between the ideal and reality when it comes to young people and marriage? Let me know in the comments below.

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The Myth of "The One"

By Marilette Sanchez

I don’t know about you, but ever since I was a little girl, singing Disney princesses, romantic comedies, and pop love songs have all told me that I should never settle for anything less than “the one.” He would be my soulmate, my “other half.” He would read my mind and satisfy all my needs. Once he and I met, we would know right away that we were the only ones meant for each other. I would never be lonely again. It was a marvelous concept. But is it true?

The fact is 2 out of 3 second marriages and 3 out of 4 third marriages end in divorce (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006).

That’s a lot of people with wrong feelings. What seems like everlasting love is usually short-lived infatuation and lust.

In He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), Anna [Scarlett Johanson] is a single woman who is considering pursuing a married man [Bradley Cooper] after a “magical” encounter outside a grocery store. Anna seeks advice from her friend Mary [Drew Barrymore].

“What if you meet the love or your life, but you already married someone else?” Mary asks. “Are you supposed to let them pass you by?“  

We’re told to follow our feelings and we’re left with more divorce papers.

In the book, Sacred Marriage, Christian author Gary Thomas notes: "We have to rid ourselves of the notion that the difficulties of marriage can be overcome if we simply pray harder or learn a few simple principles. …What if God didn’t design marriage to be "easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?“

Valentine’s day weekend last year, The Vow was released. It was a romantic drama starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams that was inspired by the true story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, a newlywed couple who experienced a devastating car crash a mere 10 weeks after their wedding. Krickitt suffered a debilitating head injury in which her entire memory of her husband Kim was erased. Krickitt never recovered her memory of her courtship, engagement and wedding with Kim, but they remarried and eventually had two children. They recounted their love story in the book with the same name.

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I’m a huge fan of the movie, but as with any book-to-movie endeavor, plenty was lost in translation. The movie did not come close to portray the scope of Krickitt’s developmental loss. Weeks following the crash, Krickitt was like a tantrum-filled preschooler whom Kim had to coach back to physical and emotional health. Several months after the accident, Kim had been on leave from his college coaching job, medical bills were piling up, and Krickitt’s recovery seemed at a standstill, What’s worse, Krickitt began to resent Kim for his tough love as a coach. A sobering reality finally hit Kim.

“Very possibly, the woman I married no longer existed.” Kim had to make the conscious decision to uphold his commitment to Krickitt, even if she never remembered him.

When Krickitt lost her memory, she lost her feelings for Kim. She had to completely rediscover what it was about Kim that she had fallen in love with the first time.

“My love has grown in a different way–not that ‘fluffy romantic love,’ but more of a conscious choice. The fact was, I was married to this man. The feelings came later, and by God’s grace, I’ve grown to love him again,” Krickitt said.

The producers of the movie also exercised their creative license when they removed the couple’s devotion to God and their Christian faith. Unlike their movie counterparts, divorce was never an option for Kim and Krickitt.

Some well-meaning friends told him, “At some point you might just have to let this go.” Others pointed out that divorce would be the easiest way to release Kim from Krickitt’s mountain of medical bills. A social worker told him that when a married person has a debilitating head injury, the odds of divorce are around 80 to 90 percent.

“I had a simple answer for anyone who suggested divorce,” Kim said. “'No, it will never happen.’…I couldn’t see myself going through life without the woman I loved–the woman I had vowed to protect through times of challenge and need…I’m stuck with [her] for life. We will make it work. There is no other option.“

It’s a sobering moment when we realize that difficulties are not just the exception, but the norm in marriage. Kim and Krickitt are living testaments that it is possible to have a thriving marriage in the most crushing circumstances. Krickitt admitted that at her second wedding she experienced a deeper love than most wives experience in a lifetime. We need to stop viewing trials in our relationships as an unnecessary burden, or even a necessary evil, but as a stepping stone to a deeper love.

"Our unique experiences, as awful as they were at the time, have given us a stronger bond than we would have had without them.” Kim said. “We’re closer now; we’ve got a different bond, a more meaningful connection than before.”

Resources:

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter

Do you know someone who could benefit from this article? Be sure to pass it along.

Marriage and the 50/50 Myth

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American Sprinter Manteo Mitchell heard a pop. “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half,” he said. It was the 2012 Olympics, and he had 200 meters to go in the first round of the 4 x 400-meter relay preliminaries. He limped the rest of the way, and the U.S. team qualified for the finals. The cause of the pop? A broken femur. [Huffington]

It is easy to praise Mitchell for his perseverance in his sport. But when it comes to marriage, why is it so easy to quit? At the first sign of difficulty, quitting is the preferred, even the glorified answer. It’s because so many of us adopt the 50/50, “meet-me-halfway” myth into our relationships. Author Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife, a non-profit offering resources to build strong marriages and families, gives some insight. In his book, Starting Your Marriage Right, Rainey suggests four reasons why the 50/50 plan is destined to fail.

1. “Acceptance is based on performance.” Without realizing it, many individuals put stipulations and prerequisites on their “love” of their spouse. In this video by FamilyLife, we realize that most of us are drawn to marriage not to love, honor, and cherish. Instead, we get married so we can finally have someone to love, honor and cherish us.

2. “Giving is based on merit.” With the 50/50 mindset, a husband would only lavish his wife with affection when he felt she had deserved it. In turn, a wife would praise her husband only when she felt he had deserved it.

3. “Motivation for action is based on how each partner feels.” It’s easy to sacrifice for someone to whom you feel romantically attached. But what happens when feelings fade (as they are bound to)? The 50/50 myth tells us “you owe it to yourself” to end the marriage, and find someone who will give you those romantic feelings once again.

4. “Rejection is based on focusing on weaknesses.” The “meet-me-halfway” approach to relationships leaves too much room to focus on how the other person is neglecting their “half.” Both spouses are always falling behind because each spouse defines the midpoint differently. “A person who says, ‘I’ll meet you halfway’ is a poor judge of distance,” says Dr. Michael Easley, Pastor of Fellowship Nashville Church.

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In the recently released movie, Love, Wedding, Marriage, Ava (Mandy Moore) is a marriage counselor who is devastated when her parents decide to get a divorce, caused by an affair. Ava immerses herself in reconciling her parents, as her own marriage with newlywed husband Charlie (Kellan Lutz) enters its own downward spiral. When Ava loses hope in her marriage, her father offers her a tidbit that he once learned from Charlie, a devoted vineyard-keeper.

“[Charlie] told me once that when the grapes are grown, the winemakers purposely stress them out by depriving them of water and giving them an overabundance of sunshine. This weeds out the weak ones and only the strongest and best survive. And those are the grapes that make the finest wine. Now, the greatest love survives the harshest conditions. And surviving that turmoil is what makes a marriage strong.”

Resources:Starting Your Marriage Right, Dennis & Barbara Rainey

Do you know someone who could benefit from this article? Be sure to pass it along.

Taking on the career of being a mother and wife is a fabulously rare lifework in the 20th century, and a very challenging job. A wasted effort? A thankless job? An undignified slave? No, a most exciting possibility of turning the tide, of saving the species, of affecting history, of doing something that will be felt and heard in ever-widening circles.
— “What is a Family” by Edith Schaeffer

It’s so good to see something actually help returning veterans. Watching “The Hurt Locker” was the first time it really clicked how troubling the transition back into civilian life can be for those in the military. Proud to be a part of the Keep It Real Movement =).

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“Keep It Real” board game eases U.S. Veteran’s transition back into family life.