Ok, so my husband, Chris, has officially been on his One Year Mini-Retirement since July first. And as of September second, he started working here on Keep Thrifty full time. We are still early in this whole mini-retirement thing, but it feels so much longer. Every week brings a new challenge in our marriage. It’s exciting and exhausting. There are tears and laughter. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions. Here’s how it’s been going.
Chris and I have been through amazing joys and even been broken to the point of feeling no hope in our future. But through it all, we still wanted to be together, to grow together, to live this crazy life together. We leaned into our faith and started supporting each other’s passions. It was an amazing turn of events. It’s part of what lead us here - to the Mini-Retirement.
I supported Chris’s dream to work on Keep Thrifty full time. We dreamed of walking our girls to school together every day. We talked of the extra time we would have together. Selling our home, moving into an apartment, and having Chris around full time has been a dream come true.
We started this Mini-Retirement with some ideas, but really, it looked like a big question mark, We were walking into the unknown.
An Unexpected Purchase
Shortly after moving into our apartment, land in our town went up for sale. It was a unique piece of property that almost perfectly fit our wish list. We wrestled with what to do.
When we sold our house, we had limitless possibilities. We talked about maybe traveling to New Zealand for a year (or at least a few months) at the end of our lease. So when this land came up for sale, we were excited and torn. We talked it out and decided we wanted to make an offer.
After we made our initial offer, our realtor updated us on new information. The village would be making a one time decision at their next board meeting. This meant no counters, no second chances if they didn’t like our offer (and we had made a low offer). We needed to decide if we would make a new offer, a better offer, a more expensive offer.
I was now fully committed to this new dream, but when I shared the news with Chris he started to backpedal. He was afraid of sinking too much money into the land. He started questioning everything. Was the land the right option for us? Was there another option out there better for us? He was spinning in circles and making me dizzy.
While he was questioning our future, I had already envisioned it. I had pictured the house we would build and our kids playing in the backyard. There was no other option to me and I was mad that he was doing this, of possibly backing out.
We talked, or at least tried talking several times. Usually I would walk away in frustration or Chris would get mad at me for pushing him to do something he was uncomfortable with. But then I settled down and was able to share my vision with Chris - the house, the happiness, the fireplace burning while we are cuddled on the couch during Friday movie nights, enjoying the screened in deck with a glass of wine while we watch the sunset and the girls chasing fireflies in the backyard, planting a garden and apple trees, and hopping on the bike path with our girls right outside our home.
When I was able to bring my vision to life, Chris could see it and support it. He stopped backpedaling and we were able to move forward together!
Then the girls started school full time and Chris dove into Keep Thrifty full time. I was excited for him. I had been wanting this for my husband, to be able to focus on what he was passionate about.
As Chris got focused, I became invisible. Literally! His eyes were on his computer from the moment we dropped the girls off until the moment we picked them up.
I was crushed. I mean, part of this mini-retirement was so we could focus on each other more too. But as far as I could tell, he didn’t even notice me sitting across the table from him.
It was hard to work through, but eventually we were able to talk it out.
We talked about the pressure Chris was feeling to make Keep Thrifty successful. We talked about my invisibility. We talked about each of our needs and how the other could be supportive.
It turned into Chris walking me to the gym in the morning. He also surprised me by waiting outside our building on my way home.
Let me say that again - he was waiting for me!!!
I’ve been waiting 12 years for this man to do that! That was amazing!
And even more so, he keeps doing it. I can’t wipe the damn smile off my face every time I see him leaning against the building when I turn the corner.
Getting an Unexpected Partner
During our walks to the gym, we talked about Keep Thrifty - what he was working on and thoughts about what to do next. I found myself excited about what he was doing and started sharing my own thoughts.
Before we knew it, we had so many ideas. There was no way Chris could do it all.
I found myself offering to dive in, to become a part of Keep Thrifty. I was a little nervous - this was Chris’s baby and I didn’t want to step on his toes. But I was so freakin’ excited. I saw so much potential.
I noticed a little hesitation when I mentioned my involvement, but he said yes. I’d work on creating Pinterest Images, editing Our Thrifty Life videos, and even write a post once a month!
This was going to be awesome!
And at first, it was. Chris was excited about what I was doing and I was having a lot of fun using my creative energy.
Eventually, my creativity grew into other ideas that hadn’t been on our to do list. I found myself unintentionally stepping on his toes. And toe stepping never turns out well.
Soon, our conversations were full of frustration. We were butting heads, not communicating well, nor being supportive the way we had been. Toes were getting bruised
What started as Chris’s project, slowly turned into a partnership, an unexpected partnership.
Losing Our Intention
Becoming a partner with Chris on Keep Thrifty has been awesome, but we’ve become workaholics. We spend our days at the kitchen table (or in bed when I was injured) furiously typing away. And while we are excited about what we are working on, we’ve stopped focusing on each other.
We find ourselves pulling out our laptops when our girls are home from school and in the evening when we should be getting a good night’s sleep. We keep talking about taking a day date next week. Next week comes and we have an excuse for postponing our date.
When we entered this mini-retirement we had the world open to us. So many possibilities. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming of what we would do, but then we got settled in and stopped being intentional with our time.
Dreaming With Intention
Dreaming together and supporting each other in our dreams is what led us here. It’s what saved our marriage years ago when we thought we were going to end up separated. It’s what drives us forward, bonds us, and builds us up.
We are five months into our mini-retirement and I’ve noticed that we aren’t dreaming together. We are stressing and working, and putting off dates. That’s not what we wanted when we started this journey. We wanted this mini-retirement to be a building block for our dreams.
So Chris and I are talking again. Talking about our dreams and how we can support each other. Chris wants to make Keep Thrifty a place that helps others accomplish their dreams and to financially support our family. I want to travel. I’ve got extreme wanderlust right now and I’m ready to hop on a plane asap so I can enjoy watching the sunrise over the ocean from a balcony!
We are talking and supporting. Talking about the vision for Keep Thrifty as we move into 2018. We are talking about traveling - maybe not New Zealand yet, but an island would be amazing! We are planning our first day date.
We are becoming intentional with making our dreams a reality.
Marriage is hard and I notice that it’s more difficult when we let ourselves get distracted from what’s important. When we start going through the motions of our days, stop looking up from our computers, and stop making plans for the future, we lose each other a little. We end up disconnected.
But when we pause and talk about our dreams a light goes on. We start talking about why we have that dream, what we want out of it and start understanding each other on a deeper level. And when we support each other in accomplishing those dreams, we work together, we create together, we succeed together.
This bonds us and builds up our marriage. I’ve learned this in the past, but it’s easy to forget, to let it get lost in the craziness of everyday life. But this mini-retirement has reminded me that even if you are in the middle of living a dream, never stop dreaming together. Never stop supporting one another.
When you do this, you heal your marriage, strengthen your marriage, and grow deeper in love with each other.
Do you and your spouse/partner dream together? What have you accomplished when you started supporting each other?