2023 got off to a shaky start in some ways.
I caught a cold/sinus gunk shortly before Christmas and kept it all the way through. Not a fun way to celebrate the holidays. I finally started feeling better in time to start back to work. But I started back to work with two days of an online tax seminar. I went from getting up between 7:30 and 8 and lazing away at breakfast to having to be at the office by 7. Big difference.
By the end of those days, I was spent. Mentally and physically.
Imagine my joy when I walk into my house and find the ceiling fans dusted and dinner started.
For the last few years, I've started with the goal of one date per month.
Well, y'all, it just hasn't happened.
This year we started really strong. I think we succeeded in keeping that goal all the way through May. But then life happened. Sicknesses, busyness, or simply nowhere to go. And the dates trickled off to one about every three months for the last half of the year.
Some people might think it doesn't matter. After all, we're married. We live in the same house, see each other almost every day of our lives (not every day because sometimes I go on retreats ;) ). But it does.
Every couple brings his or her own history of holiday traditions with them when they come to the relationship. Sometimes that makes for a rocky first holiday. Can romance be found in tolerating each other at Christmas? Jenny McLeod Carlisle is guesting today and talking about just that. She's an author I count as a friend ... and I got to edit her soon-to-release book, which is really good so read all the way to the end!
Tolerance is my Christmas Love Language
After forty-six years of marriage, my husband has become very good at putting up with my foibles. I’m sure he could easily make you a list of quirks he elects to ignore. As the pages of the calendar diminish each year, my best friend’s tolerance is pushed to the limit.
James and I met in high school, just weeks after I moved from my birthplace in Kansas to Arkansas. We were seniors at the same, small high school. That first Christmas in my new home, I was very sad. Our family didn’t make the trip to my grandmother’s house and I discovered the depths of homesickness. The familiar gathering with my cousins and all of the traditions involved turned out to be what I missed more than anything else.
How do you do it all?
I get that question ALL THE TIME. A lot of times, I say something about "I just do it."
But then I think. No. It's not just me.
My husband helps A LOT. He makes sure I can carve out time for writing/editing/marketing. He nods and waves me on when I schedule a book signing or register for a conference to help me improve.
He takes on so much with the children, and always makes sure I get a shower by myself. Lovely!
He takes out the trash each week, including the dirty cat litter. And often ends up doing the Goodwill runs, too.
My husband and I are very different.
I don't think I realized that when we first married, but after living together for eighteen years, I can see it better.
Different isn't necessarily a bad thing, of course. Honestly, we're not opposites, either. So I can't even do the whole "opposites attract" spiel.
But there are enough differences in our preferences that I've had to change the way I think about things when it comes to celebrating, sometimes.
Lists can be great things, if they help keep a person on task or make sure they don't forget something. But a list of potential spouses? That might not be such a good thing. Read on to hear Sarah Anne Crouch's experience and see what you think.
Did you ever make a list of what you wanted in a future spouse? I remember making a list like that in middle school. It was short and simple: Christian, smart, tall, and funny. What I didn’t expect to find was someone who enjoyed making lists even more than I do.
My husband, Michael, and I first met in college at a Bible study. He was leading the study, wearing wire-rimmed glasses and a collared shirt, and had a receding hairline. So I assumed he was a professor. Imagine my surprise when I discovered he was only a sophomore.
Michael and I had several mutual friends and I even dated his roommate at one point, but we never really thought of each other romantically until the fall of 2008.
You see, the summer before, Michael decided it was time he got serious about finding a girlfriend. He made a list—a long list—of what he wanted in a future wife. Once back at school, he made another list: every unattached girl he knew, ranked by how much he’d like to date her.
I’ll never know for sure if I was first on the list, but he insists I was number one. Our first date was in September of 2008. We went to dinner and talked for three hours, then we visited the grocery store and a park and talked for another three hours.
By October of 2008, we’d decided to become exclusive and shared our first kiss under a tree that autumn.
People—women—I share our story with are often put off by Michael’s methods. I also thought his lists were less than romantic the first time I found out about them. But his careful thoughtfulness is also one of the things I love most about Michael.
One of our early dates was supposed to be to an apple orchard. We ended up going on a day when the orchard was closed, but when Michael shared all the different activities he’d planned for us, I was touched. I’d never dated someone who put so much thought into creating special outings different from the usual dinner and a movie. (And don’t worry, he more than made up for missing the apple orchard with a hike in the autumn woods, a spaghetti dinner, and a corn maze at a pumpkin patch.)
Turns out, lists actually worked well for both of us. I got everything on mine. And he’s never complained about marrying me, so I think he’s pretty happy with how his list turned out too.
My real-life romance with Michael inspires me to write about fictional romances. And if you’d like to read more about love in the fall, check out my story “A Sweet Dream Come True” as a part of the Love in Any Season collection.
To celebrate the launch of our book, Amy, Regina, Heather, and I are hosting a scavenger hunt and giveaway of a $60 Amazon gift card. The contest starts tomorrow and ends 11:59 CST on October 4th. (Open to US only). Come back tomorrow to find the first clue!
Sarah Anne Crouch lives in Arkansas with her husband, three children, and thousands of books. She always wanted to be an author, but spent some time as a teacher, earned a degree in library science, and makes feeble attempts to corral her small children as a stay-at-home mom. Sarah loves reading books, recipes, piano music, and emails from readers.
Social Media: @SarahAnneCrouch
A Sweet Dream Come True – by Sarah Anne Crouch
Part of the Love in Any Season collection
Isaac Campbell is living his dream of running an ice cream shop but fears he won’t last past the first difficult year. Mel Wilson is a busy single mother who longs to be a chocolatier but is too afraid to turn her dreams into reality.
When Mel and Isaac meet at Bestwood, Tennessee’s fall festival, it seems like divine providence. But once Mel agrees to help Isaac bring in customers by selling her chocolates at his shop, she realizes how challenging running a business can be.
Can Mel and Isaac trust in God’s provision and make a leap of faith? Will their partnership end in disaster, or will it be a sweet dream come true?
Did you have a good first impression when you met your forever person? Author Hope Toler Dougherty talks about how sometimes first impressions can be right ... and sometimes they can't. Keep reading to find out more. And check out her new book! It looks so good!
My future husband and I began dating in Charlotte, North Carolina, way back in the mid to late 80’s. We’d go out with friends and then during the evening, people would start to couple up. Relationships formed, and several grew into marriages.
The night we met, I was hanging out with my roommate at a nice restaurant bar with lots of wood and lush ferns. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. My husband likes to joke that we met at a bar.
When we started talking, I was immediately attracted to him, impressed with his career, how he carried himself, his plans, his humor. I thought, “This guy has his act together.” All the other guys I’d dated seemed like boys in comparison.
When he grabbed my fingers and noticed my college ring, he said, “1983. That’s when you graduated?” I said, “the first time.”
How do you know when you've found a nice guy? It might not be any big gestures. But there are ways to tell. Author Christina Sinisi tells the story of how she found her nice guy, and it might not be what you expected.
My parents’ marriage was anything but romantic, anything but a role model of what I wanted for myself, my future marriage. After watching their fights over the years, the harsh insults and gestures, I wanted myself a nice man.
He could have crystal blue eyes, biceps I couldn’t reach my hand around, but none of that would matter. He had to be nice.
But how does one know, really know, if someone is a good person?
One guy that didn’t make the cut got furious when I got us lost in the city near my house that I should have known like the back of my hand, but I didn’t. I grew up on a farm, not in the city. When my cheap car broke down on the Blue Ridge Parkway, my future husband stayed calm and made friends with the rednecks who stopped to give us a lift.
Our 18th anniversary was on June 11th. Know what we did to celebrate?
Want to know why?
My husband was in the middle of a ten-day quarantine due to having COVID.
That's right. He was sick and so we didn't even get close to each other that day. No hugs or kisses. Not even a little finger squeeze in passing.
And I never want to celebrate an anniversary that way again.
Can your spouse pull a surprise on you? How about after you've been married a while? Like 18 years? I've got to admit, I love this story fellow author Cindy Bonds tells of her husband a secret he was finally able to keep. Definitely romantic in my book. See if you agree.
First off, I love the idea of finding real life romance in the every day life of a married couple! It’s not always flowers, date nights and gazing into each other’s eyes. Love moves, ebbs and flows, emerging as romance in the most amazing places as a marriage grows.
My husband and I have been married for almost 18 years. A lot of houses, two kids, jobs galore, God’s guided us through all of it. Those little things that show up right when we need it are the threads that hold us together when everything else seems less than stationary.
In the past few years, I’ve hit a couple of milestones; first published book, hitting a milestone birthday, going back to a full time job, sending our first child into Jr. High …
To begin, my husband tends to have terrible timing and can’t keep a secret to save his life. I never get presents on my actual birthday or anniversary, he can’t hold on to it that long and has to give the gifts early!
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.