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Salamander Spa—Terrace Yoga at Innisbrook Golf Resort

You are invited to the Meant For More Weekend November 12th to the 14th at the deluxe Innisbrook Resort Golf & Spa Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida

You deserve to be a Guest of Honor. So invest in yourself and spend a couple of days luxuriating in a deluxe hotel with no partners, pets, children nor parents.

Enjoy making connections with our experts who share what they’ve learned and how they did it.  Engage in hands-on workshops and participate in intimate open and honest conversations about things we all have in common.  Acquire tools to make impactful changes and leave with a renewed sense of self.  Be inspired for what’s next.

For three days and two nights, focus on YOU!  Practice yoga.  Sit by the pool.  Put your feet up. Eat something you didn’t cook.  Learn new skills.  Make time to think about your life personally and professionally by stepping out to see where you are and what you need. Stop knowing and start doing,  November 12 to 14 in Palm Harbor Florida with the Meant for More weekend.

Meant For More is an inclusive community for women ready to build relationships and create opportunities that positively impact their personal and professional lives.

Kristen Coffield, The Culinary Cure/Holly Parker, Turn Your Pain into Petrol/ Julie Moran—You Can Have It All, Just Not at the Same Time.

Like a kaleidoscope, our roles are ever-evolving and have many facets – daughter, sibling, spouse, mother, friend, partner, professional – which are beautiful and complicated.

We peer into a kaleidoscope, and the facets form something exciting and unique. Shake the kaleidoscope, look again, and a completely new vision is created.

Meant for More embodies the kaleidoscopic nature of our lives. When we hold our lives to the light and look at the pieces, we see infinite possibilities and know we are Meant for More.

Tickets go on sale July 16th and will be limited to the first 150 guests. Click here to access all the information you need to join us!

https://fearlesslyfacingfifty.com/meantformore/

This is just a sampling of the women who will be speaking at the conference—

Lisa Speers of I Do Part Two and Jack Perez of Kuel Life
Angie Johnsey, How to Tidy Your Mind/Mary Poorman, Building Stronger Minds and Bodies/Dr. Joan Neehall, Activate Your Happiness Control Panel

As I get older, a clarity sets in.

My priorities come into sharper focus. My passions re-ignite.

I become more accepting and gracious. I am not interested in complaining.

I find peace in protecting my boundaries.

I love more freely. I forgive myself. I put down the masks.

I listen not just to people’s words but to their hearts.

I find more of myself the more I let go. I find more of myself when I don’t try so hard. I find more of myself when give myself permission to do the things that bring me joy.

These are the gifts that growing older have given me.

Lisa Reinhart-Speers at 50-something…

I am turning 50-something…

I am grateful.

I am energized.

And I am optimistic.

I’ve been slowly unraveling lately—letting go. 

Letting go of the illusion of perfection.

When did I adopt this mindset—this burden—and why have I been carrying it around for so long? I’m not sure, but it has become too heavy to lug around any longer.

I feel lighter now. 

I was always striving for what I can now see was an unattainable goal. For years, I’ve been waking up every morning thinking about all the things I didn’t check off my to-do list from the day before, or how I ate too many carbs and didn’t get in enough steps. I’ve allowed that pesky, small voice to whisper in a hundred different ways, “You are not enough.”

I am done. I’m letting go of all this negative self-talk. Finally realizing that I can do great things, just not all at the same time.

I’ll get done what I can today; the rest can wait till tomorrow. I am exercising for me—not to count steps and then feel crappy because I didn’t walk 10,000 steps. I’m flipping the switch. I want to walk those steps to stay healthy, feel better, and to keep up with my active family.

I’m grabbing hold of my life. 

I’m waking up grateful to be alive, healthy, and excited to be here—in the now.

Of course, I still need my caffeine-fix to get going, and some mornings my joints ache. I still have tough days that suck the life out of me, but I am also starting to listen to a kinder voice that has grown loud enough not to ignore. 

It’s gently urging me—You got this! While graciously reminding me that time is precious. Time has a beautiful way of showing us all what really matters. 

I have known this all along, we all know it, but it’s hard to wrap our minds around. We always feel we’ll have more time. Some of us will, but sadly, some of us will not.

So, I’m pursuing my passions and discovering new outlets for my creativity. I look forward to traveling and exploring places I’ve never been—I am excited for the world to open up again.

I am also grabbing hold of my 29-year marriage. I love my husband more passionately and with more depth than I ever thought possible. I didn’t know I could love him more today than twenty-plus years ago. 

We’re focusing on creating more intimacy in areas of our relationship that might have been a bit neglected while we were raising our kids. We are also more mindful of how we communicate our wants, needs, and desires with each other. 

We’re envisioning what the next phase of life might look like as our youngest heads off to college. We are asking ourselves, “how do we want to ‘fill our nest’? Especially since our nest might look slightly different as our oldest son, who has autism, will continue to live with us. We know that sometimes it may be just my husband and me, but there will be three of us more often than not.

We are also considering with whom we want to spend our precious time? This is an important question. Of course, we hope our two adult children will continue to come home to visit, and they are always welcome to stay awhile. We miss not always being together.

We enjoy spending time with family and friends who support one another and lift each other up. This is what makes life interesting—deep conversations around topics that really matter. We don’t always get to see our friends and family who are scattered across the country, but that only makes getting together so much sweeter.

Turning fifty-something has been surprisingly good to me. I’m enjoying this unraveling of sorts—this letting go—while still holding on tight to what’s really important to me.

Danielle and Adam—Podcast hosts, partners in marriage, and parents to three

I heard someone say that forgiveness is a journey, not a destination. This put so much in perspective for me. When people ask me if I forgive Adam for everything he has put us through, I feel like I should be able to say yes since I am still with him. But the truth is, there are moments when I look at him, and I don’t forgive him; it all comes spilling back and it’s so overwhelming that I almost can’t cope. But there are more moments when I know I’m right where I should be, and I know that we will be ok. 

Danielle and Adam together for over 20 years

We are working hard consistently to keep doing better and heading in the same direction, together. I truly think we are better as a team than apart. But I don’t think in order to be with one another there needs to be this ultimate release of everything that has happened in the past. It’s part of our story, just like the good times.

I need to stop thinking of forgiveness as a finish line that needs to be crossed. I don’t think in order to proceed ahead I need to completely put the past behind me.

It’s the hardships that we’ve been through that keep us both wanting to do better, and make us appreciate the present when it’s better than the past, and will make us hope for a future that looks different and fresh from where we’ve been. I think we’re constantly forgiving one another and ourselves over and over.

There will never, in my opinion, be ultimate forgiveness because we will be human until the day we are no longer here, and that means more mistakes and misturns.

Danielle and Adam

I’ve often felt this guilt for harboring some resentment. What’s the official time period for being allowed to hold on to something that’s happened to you? I know, we shouldn’t be constantly scolded for what we’ve done in the past, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be allowed to think about it, right? 

Sometimes I just want to feel whatever I want without there being a right way, a correct amount, and a psychological or spiritual system attached to it. So, I’m not putting a timer on forgiveness. I’ll keep traveling at my own pace for as long as I need. Along the way, I’ll have setbacks, all while working towards feeling more peace, acceptance and growth. 

*Danielle’s story is shared with permission. I Do Part Two encourages you to check out Danielle and Adam every week on their podcast, Marriage and Martinis.

Article By Ali Flynn/Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels

After many years of feeling drained as a partner and a mom, I decided to take my life back and stop going through the motions…

At some point, I lost a bit of myself along the way of raising my children.

I let go of my passions and only focused on what made my children happy.
And the funny thing is, I didn’t even know it.

Until years later, upon deep reflection, I realized the loss I was feeling.

I let go of me.

I stopped living for me and only woke up each day wondering how to make the lives of the people around me more fulfilled.

I let go of me.

I started to become a shell of a person simply going through the motions rather than living life each day. Even before the pandemic of Covid-19, I felt I was living day after day the same life over and over again.

I let go of me.

I didn’t wake up refreshed, ready to take on the day, rather I was tirelessly traipsing through the day with little to no emotion.

I let go of me.

I was trapped inside my own shell, knowing the walls to escape could be broken down but no one could reach in and help me.

I let go of me.

I had to emerge on my own…

And that, my friends, is exactly what I did.

I reached deep into my soul and pulled out the old wounds and dealt with them face to face.

I slowly started to find me.

I gently traveled to the parts that I had been missing, brushed myself off while being wrapped in a warm embrace and invited myself back in again.

I slowly started to find me again.


I essentially stopped living life going through the motions.

I slowly started to find me again.

I started living and I let go of the guilt.

I let go of the looming thoughts that burdened me.
I stopped feeling selfish the times I was making myself happy.

I started living for my family as a whole.

Not just living for my husband.
Not just going about my day for my children.
But for me also.
For the first time, I was living for all of us collectively.

I slowly started to find me again.

Life has not changed drastically.
But how I look at my life has been altered.

Each day I am presented with decisions to make and I am living within the decisions, feeling each and every part of the day.

I am not going through the motions filling a void in the hollow of the shell that once existed

And oh, what a blessing it has been.

I found me! 

 

If in the dark we lose sight of love, hold my hand, and have no fear cause I will be here.”-Steven Curtis Chapman

When we stood at the altar over 27 years ago and my friend Marcy sang those haunting words, I had no idea in my 25-year-old head how true they would ring this many years later.  I didn’t know we were embarking on a journey of Three Marriages (and that’s so far…who knows how many more we have in us).Read more of Esther’s story that inspired our interview: The Tale of Our Three Marriages

All About Esther—

Esther is a wife to one and a mom to four grown children (ages 20-28).  She was born a missionary kid in war-torn Ethiopia, but has become a potato chip-eating, football-loving American, Christian wife and mom who has a fierce passion for marriage and family. She’s a little snarky, a little sappy, a little strong and hopefully more than a little Spirit-led.  She’s been driven to her knees in prayer and to raise her hands in praise.  She’s speaks words of hope and wisdom where the heart meets the home and faith touches the family. You can read more of Esther’s beautiful writings at the following: The Dolly Mama Blog, Instagram: Moms of Bigs, Instagram: The Dolly Mama, Facebook: Moms of Bigs, Facebook: The Dolly Mama

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Photo credit Anna Shvets via Pexels

𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘂𝘀 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗮𝘀𝗸𝘀 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗯𝗲𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗺𝗶𝗰? The ‘Perfect Mom’ mask, the ‘Successful Business Person’ mask, or the ‘I Got It All Together’ masks…Almost everyone wears some sort of mask.

One woman shares her story

It’s Time To Take Off The Mask by Faith in the Mess – Melissa Neeb, Writer

I wear a cloth mask everywhere now. It doesn’t really bother me.

What did bother me was the metaphorical one I wore for years. I wore a smile but it was a lie.

No one knew the pain I was in. It was difficult to even admit it to myself. I stuffed it down. Locked it up tight in my heart.

It was my box of darkness. Only mine.

So in the world, I pretended. I faked it. I told everyone I was fine. I was ok. I was good.

Those masks, layers of them, kept my secrets and tears hidden.  I hated who I had become but I didn’t know who to be anymore.

I came to the end of myself, the edge of the proverbial cliff. Dangling. Desperate. Alone.

Then I walked into a room and sat down with a bunch of strangers who could see the face behind the mask because they recognized the pain. They had worn it themselves. They had put it down and left it behind.

So slowly, my masks came off. One by one. Ever so carefully.

I didn’t have to be afraid of my reflection anymore. I could change. Grow. Transform into something I never imagined.

I could learn to love myself again.

And so, my smile turned real.

I was accepted. I was welcome here.

And so my masks stayed off.

And I never want to wear them again.

By Jenni Brennan of Changing Perspectives

Remember the early days of your relationship with your spouse?

  • Butterflies
  • Romantic dates
  • Flirty messages
  • Anticipation around next steps
  • Long conversations as you got to know each other
  • Excitement over your potential future

Today, if you are like me, you and your partner are mere versions of your younger selves, focused now on things like:

  • Raising your children
  • Meeting financial goals
  • Addressing health needs
  • Tackling career aspirations
  • Cultivating friendships
  • Taking care of household tasks like laundry, cooking, and cleaning
  • Trying to complete those never ending “to do” lists

The reason so many couples find themselves feeling distanced from each other at this stage of life is simple—We all have a tendency to put our romantic relationship on the back burner after marriage because we think all of the other needs and responsibilities are more pressing. 

The kids need you. Work needs you. Your aging parents need you. The youth sports teams need you. Your friends need you. Your house needs you.

After all, this is the person you are spending the rest of your life with, so they will always be there beside you. It’s okay to put your relationship on the back burner right now. How exciting will it be to spend your golden years of retirement with them?

What if you never get to enjoy those years? What if you make it to retirement but after spending decades focusing on others, you realize that you no longer know your partner. Worse yet, what if you realize that you no longer like each other? What if something terrible happens and you don’t get to make it to retirement age?


Sure, putting things on the proverbial back burner can work for a little bit. But, what happens if you leave something on the actual back burner? Eventually it dries out, maybe burns, and becomes a failure.

Marriages are the same.

It’s time to take your relationship off the back burner and start nurturing it now, before it’s too late.

Here are 9 ways to reconnect with your spouse and put the focus back on your relationship without compromising your other responsibilities:

1. Date your partner
I cannot stress enough the value of dating your partner. While you may not be able to afford to hire a babysitter for at least one night each month, you can certainly find a way to creatively date your partner.

Maybe it means taking a day off from work during the day while kids are at school or at grandmas house so you can be alone. Maybe it means working out together at the gym while the kids are in the child care room. Maybe it means simply shutting off the tv, ignoring the dishes, and having a date at home after the kids go to bed. Maybe it means using your money to pay for a sitter and then having an inexpensive date while you walk around Target together.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, romantic, or cost money. You just need to make time for the two of you.

2. Hold staff meetings
You and your partner are essentially running a business. You’re managing a household and that inevitably means there are things like bills, repairs, and maintenance that need to be addressed. If you have children and/or pets, then you also have medical appointments and logistical considerations for others. Let’s not forget about things like laundry, meal prep, shopping, and cleaning.

Would you ever expect a company to run effectively without having some type of formal and consistent check in? 

Marriages are the same. Schedule 30-minutes each week to check in with each other on the business aspects of your relationship. This can be a great time to compare calendars, identify breakdowns in communication, plan for next steps, and highlight accomplishments and sources of pride. You can also combine this with a date night — just make sure it’s only a portion of the date!

3. Don’t expect mind reading
So often we fall into the trap of expecting our partner to know us so well that they know what we are thinking and what we need. That’s not fair to your partner or to you.

Communicate your needs with your partner. If you come home expecting your partner to have started dinner but you never asked for that to happen, it’s not fair to then be angry or hurt that it didn’t happen.

Don’t let missed opportunities for communicating your needs lead to built up resentment.

4. Learn your love language
So often members of a couple feel as though their partner is not showing them love. In reality, though, they aren’t speaking their partner’s love language.

My partner may bring me flowers and little gifts, thinking that I know it means he loves me. But, we have learned that Gift Giving is not one of my love languages. Instead, Acts of Service (things like unloading the dishwasher or making a doctor’s appointment for the kids or taking out the trash) make me feel loved.

Get on the same page with each other by reading Dr. Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts so you not only know how to recognize your partner’s expression of love for you but so that you can also more effectively show love to your partner.

5. Take a couple’s vacations
Once you’ve been able to make date nights or date days a priority, the next step is to find a way to take vacations together. This could be a big vacation like a few nights in the Caribbean or traveling through Europe or it could mean you rent an AirBnb or cheap hotel room the next town over for one night.

The location doesn’t matter; what matters is that you have the opportunity to step out of your everyday life just the two of you and reconnect away from the normal routines.

6. Try new things together
Remember what it was like going through all the firsts in your relationship? There is something exciting about experiencing something new with your partner and we lose that spark the longer we’ve been together.

Consider taking up new hobbies or trying new things together. The options are limitless- golfing, dance lessons, hiking, reading a new book together, trying a new restaurant together.

The actual thing you do doesn’t matter. The key is for it to be something new for both of you.

7. Do things that your partner enjoys
It’s very rare that two members of a partnership enjoy all of the same things. Is there something that your partner enjoys that you find extremely boring? Find a way to try to do some of those things with your partner.

Learn that video game they love to play. Go to the concert of the band they really like. Go to that Indian restaurant even though you don’t like that type of cuisine.

Make them feel valued by showing an interest in the things that make them happy.

8. Physical connections
Don’t wait for there to be a natural physical spark between the two of you. With kids and work and responsibilities and pressures and competing schedules, it’s very likely that by the time the two of you reach your bed at the end of the day, the last thing you have the energy for is sex. Those are exactly the times when you need to make a priority though.

What would happen if the next time you found yourself with a fleeting thought of physical connection, you actually pursued it and put sleep or that pile of laundry off for a little bit longer? 

What kind of impact would it have on your relationship if your put physical connection a bit higher up on your list of priorities?

9. Lean into each other, not away
When things get hard many couples lean away from each other. They complain and vent to their friends when their partner does something hurtful or irritating. They ignore opportunities to communicate directly with each other about concerns, instead leaving their relationship open to built up feelings of resentment and anger.

Lean into each other during those difficult times. Have those challenging and uncomfortable conversations with each other.

It’s what we do in almost all other aspects of our life, right? We have difficult conversations with our children, our friends, our coworkers, other parents on the sidelines at our kids games, and even strangers on social media. So, why won’t we do it with our partners? Is it maybe because we are leaving our relationship on the back burner, assuming we’ll have time to address it in the future?

The time to strengthen your marriage is now and you can find ways to reconnect meaningfully with your partner without taking your attention away from the other important relationships in your life.

Wouldn’t those younger versions of yourselves want you to make your marriage a priority now? 

Photo by Julia Volk from Pexels

The in-between is where I reside these days. This strange place, not yet an empty-nester and not a young-mom anymore, either. Just here. 

Sometimes it seems like I’m just floating in ‘the in-between.’ Un-noticed. Fading into the background.

This wasn’t how I imagined this season of my life…

Don’t misunderstand…my husband and I have people in our lives, dinners out, events to attend, and parents we enjoy on the sidelines of our kid’s sporting events. Still, it doesn’t feel quite right. It’s like we’re just here, as spectators to all of it. Most of the time, I feel lonely— even in a gathering of friends.

We’ve talked about it, my husband feels it too. There used to be couples we’d get together with, at a moments notice, for game nights or spontaneous barbecues in our backyard. But as babies were born and our kids grew up, our social life began to revolve around their activities.

Slowly, without even realizing it, our couple friendships began to fade—maybe even taken for granted.  

You see, twenty-three years of marriage will do that sometimes. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, driving the kids around to all their activities, while my husband has been working long hours at the office. He’s been focused on our family-owned business, and I on our kids, and the business of everything running smoothly at home. 

In some ways, this may sound a little circa 1950, but that’s just how it worked out for us, in terms of sharing the workload. I feel our marriage is solid. We’ve enjoyed a date night almost every week for twenty-one years, and we have fun together. But still, we’re both finding ourselves in ‘the in-between.’ Is it a mid-life crisis? Perhaps. But neither of us is vying to buy a little red convertible any time soon—this feels different somehow.

We have one who just headed off to college and one who is currently managing his days wading through the muddy waters of middle school. So, empty-nesting may be a little further off for us than many of the people we know who have kids heading off to college. 

Our kids and their activities have filled up our lives in so many ways and yet, I am not sure where I fit in anymore. 

I feel like I’m floating between two different friendship groups—the parents of college-age kids and the middle school parents. It is a strange place to find one’s self. Not knowing where I’ll land.

At 48 years young, I consider myself the pretty typical age for a parent of a college freshman. Yet, I didn’t make many deep connections with the moms in that group while my daughter was in high school. Many of them are empty-nesters now, and we never found enough in common to move our friendship forward—I never felt like they got me. 

No matter how many walks, coffee dates, or days I spent volunteering at school events, I never really felt a deeper connection with any of them.

I also have insecurities about feeling like the “old mom” in my middle-schooler’s class. For many of these parents, their middle-schooler is their oldest child, and most have more littles at home. And it certainly doesn’t make me feel any younger to have to pull my readers out in front of them, every time I want to look at my phone or read something.

While they are discussing American Girl dolls, Magic Tree House, and the intricacies of making slime, I am thinking about my daughter off in her dorm room. I’m hopeful she’s headed to her classes and college parties are not her main focus. So, college is not on many of the middle school mom’s radar yet; I wouldn’t expect it to be.

Whenever I talk to the moms in each of the groups, I don’t feel like I fit into either one. Don’t get me wrong—everyone is friendly, everyone is nice.

The ‘middle school and younger moms’ are in the thick of busy, driving every which way with car snacks and activity-filled days. The ‘college-age moms’ are mostly empty-nesters, focused on how well their college students will fair away from home. And a few seem concerned about how they’re going to reconnect with their partner after so many years of focusing on their kids.

I’m finding the rush of activities for my middle-schooler is humming along at a pretty relaxed pace for us right now. It’s low stress since he’s the only one in sports and after school activities. We drive around, talk easily, and have great conversations. I enjoy all of it. The craziness seems to have calmed.

But here is the real deal; my days are full spending time with family. I am content, yet still, I have a sense of loneliness—a sense of not belonging. My deep-rooted insecurity of wondering if anyone really “gets me” still nags at me from time to time.

I turn will be turning 50 in what feels like a minute, and my husband and I are still looking for “our people.” People to connect with on a deeper level, fewer surface friendships, and more real connections. We would like to develop friendships with couples that have found themselves in this same place. 

We can’t be the only people feeling this way, can we? We feel like we missed the window when we were supposed to make these deeper friendships. What do we do now?

Are there any other couples out there, caught in ‘the in-between’ like us? How do we go about finding those people? Is there an app for that?

We told our college freshman to “put yourself out there, meet new people, join clubs, and get involved! That is how you will make new friends.” She has taken our advice and is thriving. We are working on taking our own advice. 

Being a “joiner” is hard after so many years of not working at it.

Maybe you are out there too, feeling the same way? I hope we meet you soon. I believe we can all benefit from deeper connections and more intimate friendships. So, we aren’t giving up on finding our people just yet.

Maybe in a few years, there will be an app for that, but in the meantime, we’re trying to take our own advice…

My husband and I have been making time for more outdoor adventures, and we’re trying to play at the local golf course more often. We’ve made it a priority to attend sporting events and concerts at local venues—where our kids are not the main attraction. 

Now we attend, hoping to meet people like us who are still floating…hoping to meet people like you. 

Boating in Hawaii

3 Minute Read

So many of you have asked, why did I name this blog—I Do Part Two? 

Why, Part Two? 

Because ‘Part Two’ means something different to each of us, it’s as varied as all of our marriage experiences. I wanted ‘I Do Part Two’ to be a space where readers could relate to different couple’s stories and know they’re not alone.

Plus, don’t we all have those moments we wish someone would’ve stepped in and yelled, “CUT…Take-two!”

Wouldn’t that have been great? Instead of, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that…” We keep getting chances to say what we intended to in the first place. No harm, no foul. 

Unfortunately, that’s only in the movies.

Some of you also mentioned, ‘Part Two’ is about getting it right this time, and feeling confident enough to share the best version of yourself with your partner. And for others, ‘Part Two’ means finding love again after a heart-wrenching loss. 

For us, ‘Part Two’ is all about discovering what it’s like to be “almost empty-nesters” as our kids leave for college and beyond. Last time we were alone in the house, everything was new, and it was all so exciting—but we had no clue what we were doing.

Honeymoon 1992

How can we keep that excitement flourishing with more experience, wisdom and a deeper affection for each other than we ever thought possible? Personally, I don’t have the answer to that—I wish I did. But, I do believe we each have something to contribute to this conversation.

Like you, our marriage has it’s own story. I certainly have moments in the last twenty-five-plus years I would love to do over again, but I wouldn’t want a complete do-over.

A do-over might erase some of the best moments of my 27-year marriage to my husband. So, even if it were possible to start over, I wouldn’t want to. We’ve worked too hard to get to this place in our relationship.

Of course, there will always be those moments I wish we’d done it differently…

I would’ve loved it if, in our early years, I hadn’t always been the avoider and my husband the fixer

I wish I’d been naturally gifted with empathy, genuinely able to see through his eyes. Unfortunately, empathy wasn’t a skill I was even aware I was missing—let alone one I desperately needed—until a few years into our marriage.

I also regret not asking my husband for help more often, when the demands of motherhood, laundry, figuring out what to make for dinner every night, and running the kids to all their activities began to overwhelm me.

I wanted my husband to read my mind. I thought he should just know how to help me, but how could he—when I rarely asked. 

So for me, and most definitely for us, ‘Part Two’ is a process of learning from the past, forgiving, and moving forward… 

Instead of fixing and avoiding, we’re really listening to what the other has to say. And more importantly, we’re more aware of how the other is feeling. Even so, we still don’t always get it right. 

Sometimes feelings get hurt… but we’re quicker to mend and more vigilant to repair what we’ve mucked up.

I remember the first marriage counselor (yes, there’s been at least five, but that’s another story…) that introduced the idea of responding to my husband with empathy versus the silent treatment.

Our counselor literally had to role-play how I was supposed to be empathic. I didn’t get it, and it frustrated the hell out of my husband. How could she not get this? Apparently, empathy is learned and I must’ve skipped class that day. 

Our marriage will always be a work-in-process. So when we start to get off track, we have a little phrase we use.  Actually, calling it ‘little’ doesn’t give it the credit it deserves. Many, many times, it’s been our saving grace. It’s only five simple words, but it’s protected us from misunderstandings more times than I can count.  

“May I make a suggestion?” 

It presses the pause button. It asks permission to give advice—you may not like what I’m going to say, but trust me, you need to hear this—it will help us both move forward.

We’ve learned to trust each other, as it’s only spoken with the best intentions.

This season of our lives is also about unwinding old patterns, finding our voices, having fun together, being more intentional, and continuing to learn how to be more empathetic with each other.

We are embracing ‘Part Two.’ I don’t ever recall a time we’ve been more intentional with how we’re showing up for each other and anticipating the other’s needs. We’re excited about the future, and we‘re looking forward to planning more adventures—together.

What will Part Two mean for you? 

*Many thanks to Amy Leimbach, my friend for over 30 years, who thought up the name— I Do Part Two. We’d brainstormed countless duds, epic fails, and domain names that had already been taken. Then, I woke to a text from her in the middle of the night—isn’t that when most women come up with their best ideas? Amy, thank you for your support and creative genius!

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