Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas and Hopefully A Happy New Year

A lot has happened over the past few years, and my wife and I have grown distant from each other. We have continued to kiss each other every day, when I give her a peck when I come home from work. Many married couples understand when talking about losing the excitement and romance since the newlywed years. It probably has something to do with having kids, but this is different. We have been struggling with being connected to each other, which has nothing to do with excitement or romance but everything to do with having a healthy marriage.

It all happened very gradually. When it was just the two of us, Jen and I had lots of time to devote to each other as well as to ourselves. When Nolan came along, we had less time for each other, but it was still okay because if one of us was holding him then the other got a break. Since Delaney was born a year ago, our marriage has been tested like no other. If both kids were crying, then both of our hands were full and nobody got a break.

It was worse when I came home late from an exhausting day at work, fell asleep on the couch, and expected my wife to be in love with me. My view of things was very skewed and I didn't realize it. I felt like I was working extremely hard as the provider, while Jen felt like a single mom.

We never gave up on each other, but it was beginning to feel like a hopeless, lifeless, bitter marriage.

I have been trying hard to figure out how to be a better man for my wife. Since we have been feeling disconnected, I attempted to change a little of this and a little of that, hoping that she would fall in love with me again. Nothing seemed to work, I couldn't figure out why, and I often became frustrated with her because I felt like I was always the one working at our marriage.

My eyes were finally opened several days ago. God used this Christmas break to show me how blind I was. I finally decided to put together a little chart to show her everything I was doing and everything she wasn't doing. I ended up realizing that she felt like a single mom because she really was doing the majority of the work once I got home. I expected her to think I was the best husband in the world because I would surprise her by changing a diaper or doing the dishes without her even asking me to! However, looking at this chart I made, it made sense for us to split the duties 50/50 once I got home. So, all these times I thought I was loving her extra, she felt like I was finally starting to pull my weight a little... and that wasn't even nearly enough.

Now, we split the chores 50/50 when I am at home, she feels more supported, I already feel like she admires me more, and we both feel more connected. I think it's going to be a good year.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's Been A While...

A whole lot has happened since our last post here on Riedlblog. We struggled through a miscarriage, left a horrible teaching job in Ontario, joyously discovered we were pregnant again, moved back to Portland, lived with the 'rents for the 2012 summer, settled into a new SW PDX apartment, started a new teaching position, celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary, welcomed Delaney into the world, partied in San Diego at Jen's brother's wedding, successfully finished a full year of teaching fifth grade, received a wonderful gift (a Zoo membership) from friends, spent this summer learning about animals and swimming at Grandma and Grandpa Riedl's, and are now, for the first time, on the brink of beginning a second year teaching at the same school. Many ups and downs were woven into the past 1.5 years.

Unfortunately, we have mostly bad memories from the time we spent in Ontario. We certainly don't regret going, however, because we know that God led us there in order to strengthen our trust in Him, humble us, and mature us. That was evident in the fact that the only aspect of living in Ontario that we found peace was in the church community that we were involved with there. God clearly worked through our great friends at Origins in order to help us through my painful job, our miscarriage, and being away from our friends and family in the Portland area. We look back on that time of pruning as a blessing from God.

Moving back to Portland without a job, I was thankfully offered one after my first interview at West Hills Christian School. We moved two blocks away from the school, so my commute is a 6-minute walk every day. Teaching 5th grade was a blast...much more fun than 8th grade. This fall, I will be back at the same school in the same position for the first time in my teaching career. Our entire family is looking forward to me not having to change schools and start all over again like the last few years. My hope is that I will finally be able to settle into my position and be able to hone my teaching skills into the future.

As for the family, God entrusted us with a super cute little baby girl named Delaney. Seven months ago, our lives changed drastically with the addition of family member #4. It has definitely required teamwork between the both of us in order to take care of a toddler and a newborn. I tip my hat to single parents...I don't know how they do it. It's amazing how less often Jen and I get a break from the kids. Our marriage has been tested now more than ever before. And now, as Nolan is learning to be intentionally defiant, we are learning how to be on the same page with parenting. It was easy when it was simply "Your turn to change his diaper." But now, we need to be consistent as we are feeling the weight of responsibility in how much influence we have on his future.

God is still pruning us. We are glad too, since life without struggle would be boring. The past has taught us many things (here and here). As we look to the future, and as we want our family to grow larger (even though we have no money for a bigger home or a larger car), we trust that God will be our immovable foundation. He is the centerpiece that our lives revolve around. This is His story, not ours. When we focus all of our energy on what is most important in life (loving God and loving others), then we can be at peace knowing that our Father is pleased.