what i've learned: bartering encourages teamwork

As our fourth wedding anniversary approaches (Hus and I have been dating since 2000, but only married since 2007), I've begun to reflect on the things I've learned about marriage. This reflection has inspired me to create a new series here on Jen's Love Lessons called what i've learned. To start things off, let's talk about bartering.

Barter: "to exchange goods or services for
other goods or services without using money."

Bartering may not be the first word you think of when you hear the word teamwork, but for me and Hus, bartering helps us maintain a certain level of efficiency and equality when it comes to dealing with household chores and caring for our twins.

The fact of the matter is that we have a ton of shit to do on a daily basis to maintain our lifestyle (which by no means is glamorous, organized, or even close to perfect). Hus and I both work full-time (Hus works about 50 hours a week and I work about 40), we have two kids (who go to school 4 days a week), we live a few hours away from all of our family and friends (which cuts out random calls to anyone for a break or free childcare), and we do not have a maid (which causes our house to only be cleaned about 2 or 3 times a month). Saying that, Hus and I have a good number of tasks that need to be divided up between us. We have a few jobs that are "always" mine and a few jobs that are "always" Hus', but as you know, there are several other little things that creep up everyday that need to be dealt with. And many times, bartering helps us figure these things out.

Just last night, I think Hus and I bartered 3 or 4 times.
  • "If you give them a bath, I'll clean up the kitchen."
  • "If I go get us iced coffees from 7-11 (YUM!), will you get the kids in their PJs?"
  • "I'll come home early from work on Friday so you can drive to Lynchburg for the afternoon if I can have 2 writing nights next week." 
Hus and I enjoy this kind of negotiation. It's better than one person asking (or telling!) the other person to do something without offering anything in return. We've learned that when we barter, we both are more likely to agree with the requests that are being made. It helps us feel like part of a team. And, we actually get shit done instead of arguing or complaining about each chore that's up for grabs.

I know that bartering is good for my marriage, but what about yours? How do you think bartering could help or hinder your relationship? If you're already a bartering couple, I'd love to know: what things do you and your spouse barter?

love issues: getting through tough times

According to Jennifer Baker, of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, 50% of first marriages in America end in divorce. There are many speculations about the various causes of these divorces, with communication, sexual, financial, and addiction problems being a few of the most widely named reasons among researchers. In addition, there are several events that could occur during marriage that are said to increase the likelihood of divorce.

A lot (but certainly not all) of the problems associated with divorce tend to stem from a lack of communication about the inner-workings of marriage before those papers are signed. Many people get into marriage thinking that their love for each other will fix any and all problems they may encounter in the future. Unfortunately, there are a few marital challenges that are extremely difficult for most couples to overcome. But somehow, many marriages are able to get through these tough situations.

What have you done in the past to get through difficult times with your spouse? Have you found that some strategies work better than others? 

make love, not scrapbooks

My first book is going to be
released in August! Until then,
check out my book's website
by clicking HERE.

**Book Blog Tour: I'm putting together a book blog tour for Make Love, Not Scrapbooks. If you'd like to be part of it, send me an email at jenslovelessons@gmail.com. 


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