What You Actually "Do" When You Say, "I Do"


From the moment I said “I do” on August 3, 2006, I really had no idea what I was going to have to actually “do” over the next eight years of my life. Yes, I chose him in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor, for better or worse (mostly “better” because as a newlywed, you don’t really anticipate just how bad things can be nor how “worse” they can become). What was somehow left out in my vows was, “Do you choose and commit to him through years of sexual challenge? Do you choose and commit to him while you both struggle in the uncharted territory of parenting? Do you choose and commit to him when you feel emotionally and spiritually a thousand miles apart?”

My story of gratitude begins on the best and the hardest day of my life -- the day I made it metaphorically to the base of Mount Everest. I abruptly realized that I don’t just get to set-up camp there and reconnoiter for a few months before making the climb. No, with the words “I do” my ascent began, ready or not (mostly not). Staring up at the daunting mountain, I reminded myself that I willingly choose to climb it with no training or experience; but ,thankfully, not without a guide or guides.

Gratitude and willingness have been my guides.

Like most people, I did not come from a childhood free from dysfunction. However, I also didn’t come from a childhood devoid of love. Thanks to the combination of both, I sought out therapy early in my life. I saw it as a positive for me and a way to learn and grow. I was going through therapy while dating different guys, always hoping to find my “one.” I had a general list of traits and qualities that I was looking for, but always wanted something deeper than “someone who can wakeboard” (one of my life’s passions.) I always knew that one day that wakeboarding champion could get injured, get old, or grow out of being a wakeboarder like other surface traits.

Through the gift of therapy, I learned that everyone has his or her crap. Everyone. This helped me conclude that I needed to find some “one” who would be willing to do “the work,” some “one” who wanted to climb Everest with me and recognized that we would need to confront challenges, dysfunctions, trials and growth edges.

Through many heartbreaks for which I am thankful, I met guys who wanted the great relationship without the work -- or expected that if it were really true love it would just work. Somehow, I knew that naïve approach simply wasn’t going to work. Call me a romantic pessimist, but when choosing to meld my life with someone else’s, I erred on the side of realism rather than romantic ideals. I finally found my “one” – a handsome, intelligent, fun, romantic guy (yes, he was a good wakeboarder, too) who was more than willing to do “the work.”

We are now eight years into our climb. When I look back I realize we have had a lot of moments where we were eye-balls’ deep in snow that could have sucked the life out of our relationship. However, we’ve also had moments where the sun has broken through, giving us the gift of warmth and the opportunity to sit, rest and just enjoy each other’s company. We have been in one of the hardest years of our climb – with the stresses of having two kids, with another on the way, but it’s also been the most transformative and beautiful. I find myself continually grateful that I have a partner who has never looked at me and said, “I’m done climbing, it’s not what I thought it would be” or “You climb and carry me; it’s your fault that our relationship is so hard.”

I treasure the moments where he has looked at me with watery eyes and a softened heart and thanked me for choosing him. It gives me the fuel I need to climb another day, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. When he expresses his gratitude and genuinely sees me for who I am and the strengths I bring to the table, it brings me a bit closer to him. It causes me to soften my sharp edges toward him and gives me the perspective to see him as we all are ... just trying to do the best we can with where we have come from and wanting to go to places in our relationship we have never known. I’m grateful that he sees me with gratitude as well.

I have a partner who has willingly engaged in “the work” or the metaphorical climb from day one. It’s not always fun but he he keeps climbing with me. Our mutual supportiveness and gratitude have carried us through storms that neither of us could have predicted when we said “I do.” As I see relationships around me crumble and fall, my gratitude for all we have only grows. No, our relationship isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t choose any other partner to ascend the mountain. I have my daily moments where I write down what I am grateful for with my partner, and it guides me to the peak of Everest. The moment I said “I do” was the moment I said “I do commit” to keep doing the work, to keep climbing with my partner, with gratitude and willingness as my guides.

[jbox title="About the author:" border="5" radius="15"]

Kristin Hodson is a Sex and Intimacy Therapist and Founder of The Healing Group: Where Women Go For Hope, Growth and Healing. She has the mantra of work hard, play hard, love hard and lives life passionately outloud. She is an adjunct Professor at The University of Utah in the Social Work department, is co-author of the book, "Real Intimacy: A Couples' Guide to Healthy, Genuine Sexuality" and is currently co-authoring her second book, "Yes, You Can Talk To Your Kids About Sex." . She feels the greatest and most fulfilling pursuit in her life is having the privilege to mother her two spirited children and always being refined into a better person because of her husband.

This post is part of a 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. If you want to start from day 1, click here.

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Episode #43 - Amazing Life Together with Liz and Ryan


Amazing Life Together

On a scale from 1-10, how is your love life?

Many people, maybe even most people will answer between a 6 and 8. I'd say a solid 7 would be considered acceptable, livable, and even relatively enjoyable for most people.

Liz and Ryan are my kind of people. They decided that there is no place in their life for a mere 7/10.

And so, they started their project, Amazing Life Together. Together they are talking to experts, interviewing real couples, and opening up the kimono to share their own story on their journey to a 10/10 relationship.

Here's their recent feature on my favorite YouTube channel, SoulPancake:

Grateful for Cancer

Here's a great example of the stories they're telling. Is it possible to be grateful for something like cancer? Can you be better off because of your trials, and the obstacles you face together? This couple thinks so:

For more amazing stories, documentaries, and blog posts, check out Amazing Life Together. And don't forget to listen to Liz and Ryan's amazing episode (embedded at the top of this post). Support their mission to fill the world with amazing marriages.

Follow Amazing Life Together on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram.

Click here to join the Amazing Life Together 30 Day Challenge!

Also, don't forget to download last week's full-length episode with Seth and Kim for $1. All proceeds go to support the Anasazi Foundation, and to help keep Loveumentary's doors open!

Which Do You Value More, Promises or Excuses?


Love and Trust

Most marriages (and most relationships) are built on a promise. Sometimes the promise is spoken, like in wedding vows. Other times it's unspoken, like when you just know your best friend has your back.

Keeping promises is how you gain trust, and trust is the soul of a lasting relationship.

The way you gain or lose trust is by keeping promises, or breaking them.

When you know someone loves you, it can be easy to justify breaking a promise or commitment. After all, they love you... they'll understand and forgive you. Especially when they hear your incredibly compelling and valid excuses and justifications.

To justify means "to prove to be right or reasonable." Unfortunately, those who are constantly making reasonable excuses never get to experience an unreasonable love.

How often do you show up with integrity vs. showing up with an excuse for yourself and others?

Keep you promises. Start by keeping them today. Keep them with yourself. Keep them with those you love. Then start again with tomorrow. The roots of trust grow slowly, but when they sink deep, the fruits of love that come as a result will change your life.

Episode #40 - Say Yes To Adventure with Josh and Jenny Solar



The Power Of Integrity

It's inherently easy to love people when we know we can trust them. The best friend who would be there without question in a moment of need. The parental figure who would cross the globe on the next available flight if they were worried about you. The significant other that shows up every day without question, and chooses you.

As humans, we crave connection... and let's face it, the only people we truly let into our hearts are those we really trust.

So, how do we gain trust? Well, the most basic element of trust is integrity.

Integrity, put simply, is doing what you say you will do.

I've recently become fascinated with the topic of integrity. In the last few months I've had my life turned upside down. All of that chaos has provided me with a long, hard look at my life from a brand new perspective. One thing has become very apparent: the majority of the pain I've caused myself and caused others in life can be traced back to a lack of integrity on my part.

There have been moments where I've avoided being honest to preserve my pristine reputation. There have been times I've indulged in selfish behaviors despite knowing my actions were inconsistent with my values. I've said mean things in an attempt to be funny, and hurt people I cared about. I've buried the flaws I don't want others to see in order to avoid looking broken and human.

When I do these things, I feel a pang in my gut. It's a feeling that washes over me screaming, "You're not being authentic! That's not who you are!" I'm flooded with guilt and shame. I sacrifice my integrity to avoid looking stupid, and although it might fool people in to liking me more in the moment, with time they always figure out the truth, and I'm left feeling like a fraudulent human being.

Living with integrity, though not always easy, is the key to renewed self-esteem, healthy relationships, and quiet confidence.

Talk is Cheap Because We Make It Cheap

The thing I love most about Josh and Jenny is that they have mastered the art of integrity. One of their family mottos is "We don't talk about doing cool stuff. We DO cool stuff."

They don't just talk about creating memories together. They wake up on Saturday mornings and celebrate the weekend with special pancake breakfasts and smoothies! They slow dance in the kitchen with each other. They pull over their car in the middle of a road trip to make out in the rain.

They don't just talk about putting their kids first, they completely reinvent their careers to make sure they get to spend as much meaningful time together as a family as possible.

They don't just talk about going to Europe one day. They check their kids out of school, buy plane tickets, and find a place to stay for 4 months.

There is something to be said about knowing the person next to you is going to do exactly what they say they will do. Ever. Single. Day. It creates space for a special kind of love that few people get to share... the love that comes with perfect trust, confidence, and commitment.

It's this kind of integrity that allows the Solars to say "yes" to adventure. They can literally see something that excites them, make a decision to pursue it, and trust with complete confidence that it will happen... because when they say something, they do it.

Integrity gives you power in love and in life. Integrity is the essence of creation. And integrity is such an incredibly simple principle to put into practice. It starts with yourself.

Where do you lack integrity in your life? Is it your health? Is it being reliable and on time? Is it putting in an honest day's work? Is it being honest in your relationships? Start improving your integrity today. Make a commitment to have perfect integrity in one area of your life, and then do it. Adventure, opportunity, and connection are sure to follow.

[jbox title="Show Notes:" border="5" radius="15"] Check out the Solar's amazing website, The Happy Family Movement. It will inspire you.

Want more awesomeness? Check out their new product dedicated to helping people be more present and engaged with those they love... Phone Monster!



Episode #37 - Forgiveness and Sex with Ty and Terri


To enter a relationship is to court pain.
-Leo Buscaglia

If we truly desire to experience deep, soul-shaking, life-changing love, we have to drop our shields, tear down our walls, and let people into our hearts. To love is to constantly run the risk of being hurt. Loving is staring potential pain in the face without flinching.

Sadly, people who live this way - and love this way - sometimes get hurt. The hurts of the heart are often the most painful. That pain can be dangerous if you don't have the right knowledge and tools to help you recover from these hurts. Many people have opened their hearts to love freely and passionately only to be hurt, and react by building new walls twice as thick as before.

There is a secret tool available to us that will help keep us out of our Fortress of Solitude. That tool is Forgiveness.

Too many people withhold forgiveness because the person who wronged them hasn't suffered enough, or even acknowledged that they've done something wrong. They hold on to the emotionally-cancerous grudge as it slowly eats away at their happiness and consumes their lives. They don't understand the true purpose of forgiveness.

Forgiveness does far more for the forgiver than the forgivee.

Forgiveness is allowing yourself to move on. Forgiveness is letting go of the burden of a grudge. Forgiveness is not allowing someone else's choices to ruin your life. Forgiveness is acknowledging the imperfectness in us all, and chalking up mistake after mistake to being human. Forgiveness is a fresh start. Forgiveness is a clean slate. Forgiveness is a newly opened heart... a heart receptive to love and resilient to the inevitable pain that life unexpectedly hit us with.

Forgiveness is not fair, which is what makes it so beautiful.

Forgiveness is mercy winning over justice. It's love conquering hate. It's new life rising victorious over death.

Forgiveness, like love, is often irrational and counter-intuitive. It works when put into practice by the shamelessly optimistic. Forgiveness is often mistaken for a feeling, when in fact, it's a choice.

Those who never learn forgive will never have hearts open enough truly love... because, one forgives to the degree that one loves.

Who do you need to forgive? How can you forgive more freely? Can you forgive somebody even if the emotions of pain are still present? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments!

Here are some of the books referenced in the podcast:

Faith vs. Fear - Which Will You Choose?


I talk to people about relationships and love every single day. Recently, I noticed a theme emerging from these conversations over and over again. This theme is at the very heart of what prevents most people (including myself) from allowing ourselves to truly, deeply love and be loved. The issue faith... or rather the absence of faith.

The faith I'm referring to doesn't necessarily need to be rooted in religion. Rather, I'm referring to a more broad, yet deeply profound confidence, belief, and trust in someone or something that is completely uncertain.

Our fear-mongering society has beaten faith out of us.

The hope in humanity that this nation was built on has been chased out of us. We're scared of terrorists, tyrannical government, and trans-fats. We're scared of the hyper-religious, and atheists. We're scared of kidnappers, cancer, and pit bulls. We're scared of global warming, Hollywood, rapists, child molesters, and we're scared of love.

We're terrified that love won't last. We doubt whether we can remain faithful for a lifetime. We fear that our loving relationships will slowly turn into a passive aggressive grudge match, and arguments over taking out the trash, leaving dishes in the sink, and toenail clippings. We fear that things will change... and not for the best.

Every day someone asks me the question, "Is it worth the risk to give someone your whole heart? What if they leave/change/become abusive/take advantage of me/hurt me/cheat on me?

"Isn't it easier to play it safe? I mean, you don't have risk getting burned if you stay single. You can't be emotionally destroyed if you hold back just a enough, and don't fully open your heart.

"The person with the most power in a relationship is always the person who cares the least, right? I'd rather have control, safety, and certainty than be the one who gets burned."

It's conversations like this that make me realize how faithless our society has become. We have been trained not to have faith in each other. We know how easy it is for us to change our mind, and knowing that the love of your life can change their mind makes it easy to doubt love.

The interesting thing about faith is that it cannot exist without doubt (faith without doubt is certainty), but if we allow that doubt to get a hold of our hearts, it can twist our uncertain reality into something it's not. It will mutate into fear. Then we are faced with a choice, do we allow fear to take over and our faith to go right out the window? Or do we dispel the fear with a heavy dose of love and faith in others and in the world?

Fear and faith cannot coexist. One will always dispel the other.

You must choose between certainty and love, emotional safety and deep connection, complete control and vulnerability.

You must have the courage to make the more difficult choice to experience the greater reward. Faith in the face of uncertainty is at the very core of love.

What do you think? Has fear eradicated faith? Do you need faith to have a healthy relationship? What are ways you can cultivate more trust in others? Let me know in the comments section!

And don't forget to share this post if you liked it!