Book Recommendation – ‘Eight Dates’ by John Gottman

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today I’d like to share a book with you that my husband and I finished reading through together a few weeks ago – Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John and Julie Gottman.

I would HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone married or in a serious relationship – it doesn’t matter if you are newlyweds or have been married for a long time, you should check out this book! My husband and I have been married 11 years, and we found the book to be a great way to foster meaningful and intentional conversations about our relationship.

The book is organized into eight sections. The idea is that for each section you’ll read the chapter and answer some reflection questions on your own, then later go out on a date with your significant other to discuss your answers together. Your goal for the conversation is to listen to your partner, validate what they say, and ultimately “build respect, empathy, and a profound understanding of each other” (p. 5).

Ironically, since we read through this book in the middle of the pandemic, we did not “go out” for any of our dates. We had all of ours at home after we put our 4-year-old to bed. Even if you’re stuck at home, you can find ways to make the dates fun (cook a special meal or dessert, dress up in fancy clothes, sit outside in the backyard… be creative!)

The topics addressed in the eight sections include:

  • trust and commitment
  • conflict
  • sex
  • money
  • family
  • fun and adventure
  • spirituality
  • goals and dreams

There were so many things I loved about this book:

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Rude or Kind, Words Matter

Earlier today I had a person speak very rudely to me at work – it was much more jarring than I expected it to be – by that I mean I was surprised by how much their words alone could hurt me. I walked away from that interaction extremely angry, wanting justice for the wrongs that I felt had been done to me.

I’m not the type of person who is particularly graceful at handling moments like these. I wish I could think faster on my feet and come up with the perfect response. But no, I’m that person who replays the event over and over in their head, crafting what would have been an ideal response in varying scenarios. I wish I didn’t get so flustered by my emotions. I tend to feel emotions hard and fast, and all I could think to say at the moment it was happening were things that I knew I shouldn’t. So instead, I didn’t say a lot, I just fumed inside.

As I reflected on the event, I remembered that Jesus went through countless encounters of people being rude to him, hating him, and obviously going so far as to eventually crucify him. How many times did Jesus desire “justice” for himself? How many times did emotions like anger overwhelm him? How many times could he have said, “Do you know who you’re talking to? God in the flesh!” Jesus could have used his power and status to put others in their place if he wanted to.

But he didn’t. He made himself lower. He prayed for his enemies. He forgave. He loved.

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Embrace Your Friend’s Stupid Mug Collection

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten a lot more interested in anime. It all started back in 2018 with Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, my gateway drug to all things anime so to speak, and then my interest hit its peak when I started watching My Hero Academia.

I fell way down the rabbit hole with My Hero Academia (MHA) – I have drunk the Kool-Aid and licked the cup clean. I love all the music in the show and listen to at least one MHA-related song almost daily. I have bought all the manga books available (in English) and am reading through them as they come out. I started collecting items like MHA T-shirts and socks, and Funko pop Izuku Midorias… I went to my first My Hero Academia convention this year and dressed up with my husband. And of course, to top it all off… I got my first tattoo earlier this year, which was My Hero Academia-related: Plus Ultra!

It is not an overstatement to stay that I am a bit obsessed. Otaku much?

I know that I’m pretty extra about My Hero, but I don’t care. I love it. I love how it inspires me, and who it makes me want to be each day. I love being true to myself.

One thing I love even more has been others’ willingness to accept me despite my obsession. It’s one thing to secretly love something that others might think is lame. It’s another thing for people to know you are crazy about something, and embrace it with you.

I will admit, I have some great friends. I have been gifted many My Hero memorabilia items from people simply because they know how much I love the show. I’ve received a Deku pez dispenser, a MHA tote bag, a “That’s not very plus ultra of you” patch, MHA Monopoly, and more. My friends know it’s my thing, and that it’s a part of me – and they accept it. They accept me.

I recently began watching a different anime: Sword Art Online. Wow – I had no idea so many people would have so many feelings about this show. I told a few other anime fans I was watching this show, and they were like, “it’s garbage.” I had just started the show, so I kept waiting for it to get lame. I kept waiting for the point to where I would go, “oh, okay, yeah this is dumb.” But it never came.

Granted, there were some weird things in the show (for example, someone having a crush on their first cousin) but nothing that I found to be a dealbreaker for me. And I’m sure that critically there are some aspects of the show that were not as well done as they could have been. But you know what? I still like the show. I’m currently on season 3. I was told that season 2 was where it would get “weird.” Season 2 was actually one of my favorite story arcs.

So, what does this mean? I initially had some guilt about enjoying Sword Art Online. Literally a guilty pleasure, I suppose. I finally had to get over it and embrace it – which was actually more about embracing myself. Why was I so ashamed to like something others thought was stupid?

Better question: why are we so antagonistic to people who like different things than us?

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