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Category: Until Death Do Us Part (and to the Death it will be)

Marital bliss and blues, all wrapped into one relationship.

Like Mr. Rogers Into Comfy Clothes

Like Mr. Rogers Into Comfy Clothes

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Lately I’ve been paying attention to my eye contact and the way I touch people I love. It’s loosely part of my attempt to Love Extravagantly this year, in that I’ve noticed how different my kids act when I show affection more and irritation less.

Yes, I realize this wins the Oscar for Best Duh Moment of the year, but my irritation with everyone everywhere all the time is one of the main and consistent issues Bryan lovingly brings to my attention, so it’s kind of a big deal when I show signs of getting it.

So the other night after a long day, we slipped into our bedroom to Mr. Rogers our way into more comfortable clothes. There was much to catch up on, and as Bryan shared a story, I realized I was picking at a hang nail on my thumb and cleaning under my fingernails while I listened.

I’m a fan of multitasking like anybody else. It comes in handy for things like walking and chewing gum, cooking while yelling at the kids, and peeing while eating a bowl of cereal.

(That last example is hypothetical).

But relationships should be exempt from multitasking. Maybe not all the time; parenting is a marathon of multitasking. But in that stolen moment in the middle of our eleventh year married, I reached for his hand and met his eyes while he talked.

I also took a picture, but it totally didn’t kill the mood.

in hot pursuit

in hot pursuit

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 ESV)

Today I worked straight through lunch, and when I finally unplugged my headphones at 1:30 to see what Bryan was up to, he asked if I was ready to eat.

I was surprised to hear that he’d also skipped lunch because he was waiting to spend time with me.

At first I was irritated because I hadn’t planned on taking a break at all. The Task Master in me had things to get done and no time for fraternizing!

Then as I stood there at my kitchen island slicing an apple and considering my inconvenient situation, I saw a mental picture of myself running away from the people I love the most – my kids, Bryan, and even Jesus. My heart doesn’t pursue them with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love, but retreats into selfishness and bitterness.

But just like my diligent and loving husband pursues me over and over, Jesus continues to pursue my heart.

So I repented today.

I repented for always running away and making myself the most important person in the room. I expressed my gratitude for a husband’s love that clearly images the unconditional love of Jesus. And I said, “Help me! Help me! Help me!” because I have no idea how to live differently, but I know enough to trust that Jesus will change my heart.

INFP acronym: I Never Fucking Prepare for anything.

INFP acronym: I Never Fucking Prepare for anything.

sunny day

I’m an INFP on the Meyers-Briggs type indicator, and there’s only 1% of us in the universe with that personality type.

(I just heard all the ISTJ’s of the world breathe a collective sigh of relief at the low probability of running into one of us).

I’m not really sure how we INFP’s get along in the world, what with our inability to stay on task and all. Bryan calls it my LOOK! A SHINY BALL! syndrome because I get so easily distracted. I think he’s spent the better part of our marriage with his head in his hands, or perhaps pulling his hair out or sticking a fork in his eye – he just doesn’t get me.

But I mean that in a good way.

jen

We are pretty much opposites of each other, which as we all know is what we found attractive about each other. He loved my passion and flare for drama, I loved that he had a plan and knew where he was going. But as a wise married sage once told me, that thing you love most about your spouse will be the thing to drive you crazy in the long run.

Boy howdy, was she right.

But I mean that in a good way.

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Bryan and I somehow make it work. Somehow we still Get Things Done together despite our…how shall I say?… drastically different approaches to Getting Things Done. Awhile back did some research on INFP’s, and I have to say we are quite entertaining on paper:

Exhibit A:

INFPs are quite disorganized. But when tasks at hand are important and best done in an organized way, INFPs strive to do so. Practicality is not a driving force for INFPs. Things that traditionally belong together may not be placed together because the INFP does not see it as necessary. They have trouble finishing what they start…. When they do finish a project, they may not consider it done ‘for good.’ …. Because they are able to visualize the finished product long before it is done, the actual completion is of less importance.
(INFP – The Dreamer)

This might explain why I still haven’t finished painting our bedroom. It might explain all the really cool (unfinished) craft projects on the shelf in our basement. It might explain the piles of important paperwork I leave lying around in random places in the house.

headshot

Exhibit B:

For example the “Perceivers” of the world are habitually late, have a strong tendency to “procrastinate”, and will be less attracted to the tried and true time management techniques recommended by the experts for all of us to use. Consequently if a “Perceiver” is working for a organization or a boss who values promptness, neatness, timely and structured decision making, more traditional methods of time management let us say, the “Perceiver” will have to work a bit harder.
(Personality Power for Everyday Living)

I particularly love the phrase, tried and true time management techniques recommended by the experts. It should be noted this couples well with the phrase from the previous paragraph, practicality is not a driving force for INFP’s.

OKAY, I GET IT. It’s true, I’m irrational and dramatic. I get there when I get there. I wake up at 3am in a panic, wondering if I paid That Bill. I make my husband, who “values promptness, neatness, and structured decision making,” just a teeny weeny bit crazy.

So yeah, I have to work a bit harder.

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Exhibit C:

When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet…. (or the tiny pieces of streamer paper still stuck to the wall in the corners of their dining room).

INFPs do not like to deal with hard facts and logic. Their focus on their feelings and the Human Condition makes it difficult for them to deal with impersonal judgment. They don’t understand or believe in the validity of impersonal judgment, which makes them naturally rather ineffective at using it. Most INFPs will avoid impersonal analysis, although some have developed this ability and are able to be quite logical. Under stress, it’s not uncommon for INFPs to mis-use hard logic in the heat of anger, throwing out fact after (often inaccurate) fact in an emotional outburst.
INFP – The Idealist

I spewed my coffee all over myself when I read this one:When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. This explains my sporadic tooth brushing habits. And my inability to rely on a daily pill to keep me from getting pregnant.

I also love the line, INFP’s do not like to deal with hard facts and logic. I mean, it’s true, I don’t. But SAYING it like that makes me seem like such an AIR HEAD.

Seriously, though, it’s not like I’ll be on my death bed wishing I’d been more logical during my life, right?

bed head

All joking aside, I think a lot about these personality traits. What are my strengths? What is my Achilles heel?

I am the way God made me, and while I recognize the way I am is wrought with faults and weaknesses (as everyone is), I still have God’s fingerprint on me.

Psalm 139:13-15 (New International Version)

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

God was intentional in his creation of me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Knit together with precision. Intricately woven.

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While I know I can be frustrating in my aversion to finish what I’ve started, in my tendency toward the dramatic, in my easy distractability, I am also all of these things (taken from the already mentioned links):

INFPs, more than other iNtuitive Feeling types, are focused on making the world a better place for people.

INFPs are highly intuitive about people. The goal at the end of the path is always the same – the INFP is driven to help people and make the world a better place.

INFPs are good listeners and put people at ease. Although they may be reserved in expressing emotion, they have a very deep well of caring and are genuinely interested in understanding people…making the INFP a valued friend and confidante.

The INFP tends to want others to feel as if they belong and that everyone is pulling together.

For the INFP, love is a very deep commitment.

The INFP is deeply committed to their beliefs and values and to the circle of those around them—family, organizations, and those they feel need them, particularly those who cannot stand up for themselves.

INFPs are deeply loyal friends, spouses, parents, and life partners. [They] have an inner sense of joy and contentment that is infectious to those around them.

I originally wrote this post over a year ago after a fight with Bryan. That draft took on a different tone because I was mostly interested in justifying my disorganization and proving what a slave driver my jerk husband was. I literally spent hours researching my personality type, and as I collected each quote I was all, “SEE?? THIS IS JUST HOW I AM! SCREW YOU!”

Quite wisely, I didn’t publish that first draft. As a rule, I don’t publish anything to my blog out of anger or spite.

When I started writing this a year ago, I worshipped my personality type. Being an INFP was more important to me than loving my husband, and I was willing to crucify him with my words.

Today I don’t even remember what the fight was about, specifically, but this latest version makes me laugh out loud. Between my dementia and my disorganization, we laugh at a lot of things around here, mostly related to my shortcomings.

And that’s way more fun than arguing.

Date Night on a Budget

Date Night on a Budget

Date night

We’re pinching our pennies for date night these days, so I was excited to remember I’d bought movie passes on Groupon months ago.

A free movie + conversation over steak tacos = a win for budget date night!

Which gave me a great idea! Because our entrepreneurial income tends to fluctuate throughout the year, I think I’ll buy myself a movie gift card and refillable cash card when times are aplenty, and save them for when times are lean.

BOOM!

I’m full of great ideas.

Date Night

Date Night

Date Night at the BerlinerDate Night at The Berliner Pub

It’s been a slow year for movies, so we’ve been spending a lot of dates actually talking to each other. A new place just opened up near our house that serves German beer and a sausage sampler plate, which is both filling and cheap.

The place has tons of big tables for large groups or community seating, so we camped at the end of a table one evening and played Settlers of Catan.

I beat Bryan on this particular night, hence the hand on furrowed brow look in the photo. It was a full-on ass whoopin’ of Biblical proportions, and there was much rejoicing (by me).

Date Night

Date Night

Catan at Calamity Jane'sDate Night at Calamity Jane’s in Georgetown.

I really like this guy. And I really like that he still takes me out on dates after ten years of marriage.

Even during seasons when we didn’t like each other much, we still went out on dates. They were awkward and we definitely were just going through the motions, but I think it kept us from allowing a great chasm of silence to develop between us.

Because there we were every other Saturday night, staring at each other across the table, sizing up where we were at.

Our dates are much more fun now that we’re madly in love again.

Here I am waiting for Bryan to make his move at Settlers of Catan. He loves to crush me, and spares no mercy for even me, his wife.

Which makes it even more rewarding when I take him down.

This just in…

This just in…

Awww… I was disappointed that Bryan didn’t ride home with me today – on our anniversary. But it turns out he needed me out of the studio so he could record this video!

Whew. I’m so glad I didn’t bitch at him about that.

Anyhoo…

In the video Bryan tells the story of our engagement and reads the poem he wrote me to propose.

I KNOW!

*wipes tear*

I love you, babe. It’s been an awesome ten years.

Thanks to Adam for his part in these shenanigans.

Also: we’re playing around with the backdrop in the studio. You like? I think the pink needs a little tone-down.

I Got Married In a Prom Dress.

I Got Married In a Prom Dress.

whimsical jen

True story.

I didn’t plan to get married in a prom dress, but I think it’s rather brilliant that I did.

It solved the problem of me…

  1. not wanting to spend a fortune on a dress I’d only wear once
  2. hating bridal shops where I’d have to act like a princess
  3. wearing white, which looks horribly unflattering on me

(Do you understand, now, why Liz Lemon and I are BFF’s?)

My mom was in town for the weekend, and she was determined to buy me a dress. I am a pear shaped tomboy who hates trying on clothes. Can you picture how much fun we had?

I remember hitting my limit, the end of my patience, the stick-a-fork-in-me-I’m-done moment. We were in the middle of Downtown Seattle’s shopping district and I blurted out, “WHY DO I HAVE TO WEAR A FREAKIN’ **WEDDING** DRESS TO THIS GODFORSAKEN WEDDING?”

And that was my lightbulb moment: on the corner, somewhere near City Center mall, pitching a bridal fit.

From there my mom and I marched into Cache where I elbowed past a gaggle of teenage girls, tried on this fabulous sage green dress, and paid only $200 for it.

And it looked FABULOUS on me!

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Ten years ago today I got married in that dress.

I love this picture of us in those blissful moments right after the ceremony, because I still feel the way I look in this photo. I still adore being married to him.

Well, maybe still isn’t the right word, since I’ve thrown many objects and harsh words at him since that day…

No, still still applies. There are no mountains without the valleys, as they say.

Parsons GardensParsons Garden, where we got married.

Bootstrapper Family

Bootstrapper Family

“Gotta go sew a Tyvek tent. I blame YouTube and marrying crazy.”

My friend posted this to her facebook page the other day. I have no idea what a Tyvek tent is, but I know the sort of person her husband is and that these things usually start with a wild-eyed idea, followed by a wife who rolls her eyes but secretly enjoys the adventure of it all.

I, too, married crazy. Only I’m not sewing outdoor gear to survive the inevitable collapse of the American economy and life as we know it, I’m buying a domain for every Big Idea, starting a new adventure every six months, and green-lighting gear purchases that spark a little twinkle in my husband’s eye.

In my wedding vows I said I would follow Bryan through seasons of hot dogs and caviar, through dry and plenty. This is because he warned me what life with him would be like. He warned me that I wasn’t signing on for a suit and tie, nine to five, salaried existence, but that our life would be filled with curves and cliff hangers, surprises and disappointments.

In retrospect, I’m so thankful he prepared me for this. His ideas are adventurous, sometimes costly, and usually risky, but the man is an entrepreneur at heart and I knew what I was getting into. Occasionally I forget who really rows our Strange Boat and panic, but for the most part I chuckle, roll my eyes, and go with it.

We always end up having fun, and are happiest when adventuring together.

To that end, I introduce Bootstrapper Studios, our multi-camera HD broadcast video studio, located in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. I’ve been spearheading much of the admin and set design for the studio, and can’t wait to show off photos when it’s complete, so stay tuned.

Getting out of Dodge.

Getting out of Dodge.

Sun.

We went camping with friends this weekend, which was the perfect way to wrap up an incredibly busy and stressful June.

Sunrise game of CatanSunrise Game of Catan / Photo by Bryan Zug.

I love the way Bryan loves me, the way he continues to woo me in marriage. He invites me to himself – to follow, to engage.

I’m not a morning person. I love to sleep, and waking up early makes me grouchy. But when the sun is rising over a misty, tree-lined lake and your husband invites you to play Settlers of Catan while everyone else is still sleeping…you’re suddenly very awake and happy.

Sign of a full day.

Of course the kids fell asleep on the way home. Why wouldn’t they? Caked in dirt, cheese puff dust, and slightly dehydrated, they earned a nap.

Will the real curmudgeon please stand up?

Will the real curmudgeon please stand up?

There’s a running joke in the ZugHaus about spontaneity – I claim to have some when we all know I don’t.

For the longest time I pegged Bryan as a curmudgeonly old man with no flexibility or zest for the spontaneous. I just wanted to run! Be free! See what the day held!

But no, there had to be a plan.

Boo! Down with plans!

As the years went by, however, it became increasingly apparent that I was not as much spontaneous as I was a control freak. My desire wasn’t so much to be free to do what the day held, but free to do what I felt like doing right in that moment.

So if you were not me, and you had an idea, you were sooooo inflexible.

HAHAHAHA!

I now admit that the opposite is actually true. Bryan comes up with great adventures for weekend fun, while I scowl and sigh and whine about how all this fun is really gonna put me out because I HAD AN AGENDA!

Thankfully, though, I’m slowly getting over myself and Bryan is (usually) safe to tease me when I start to tick off all the Eeyore reasons why we can’t do whatever fun thing he’s planning.

Anyway, life is more fun when I let go of my agenda and follow Bryan into his great adventures – like this hike we went on a few weeks ago.

Nine Years

Nine Years

Star Wars Dad

I’ve been married to this guy nine years as of last week, and I’m pretty excited about that. He’s a great dad and pastor of our home, and the hardest worker I know.

I think this year has been the best year we’ve ever had, despite job loss, start-up life, and stressful money situations, and I know it’s only going to get better.

One night a couple years ago over drinks a girlfriend asked me how a woman like me could go to Mars Hill. There was a lot of sub-context exchanged in the asking, and it wasn’t necessary for her to elaborate on the question. I knew exactly why she asked it.

She’d read in Seattle’s alternative papers about Mars Hill and its hatred of women and its bigoted misogynist pastor, and based on what she knew of me and my relationship with Bryan she couldn’t fathom how I could subject myself to such teaching.

You see, there’s a verse in the Christian Bible that always riles up the ladies, whether they are part of the church or looking in from the outside. The verse is:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).

We don’t like that ugly word, submit. It evokes anger and outrage in us because it sounds like we are not equals. The truth is we are equals. Undeniably. But different in ways that go beyond basic anatomy.

What often gets overlooked is the second half of this passage, the one that refers to husbands:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25).

In case you don’t know The Story, Christ gave himself up for the church by dying.

So Jesus doesn’t call his ladies to submit to dicks who think they’re God – or jackasses who treat women like shit – or lazy assholes who beat off to porn all day. He calls us to submit to a man who sacrifices himself to lead, teach, and provide for his family.

Benevolently.

I am married to such a man. And so, yes, I submit to him. That doesn’t mean I’m a weak, marginalized woman. It means I’m smart, because I picked a guy worth following.

Thanks for the great ride, baby.

I Choose Pigtails

I Choose Pigtails

Pigtails

Bryan likes it when I wear two pigtails in my hair – he says it makes me look spunky. After nine years of marriage he still gets a come-hither twinkle in his eye when I wear them, so pigtails is how I wear my hair whenever he takes me out.

Everything’s Amazing & Nobody’s Happy

Everything’s Amazing & Nobody’s Happy

Bryan played this video for me the other day and prefaced it with, “You’re going to be mad at me for about 5 seconds, but then you’re going to think it’s really funny.”

I’ll admit I wanted to be mad, but I know myself too well – I embrace my inner Eeyore and live it proudly. I complain loudly. I whine dramatically.

I know I’m the one who takes for granted all the blessings in my life – my house, my job, my kids, my gadgets, my amazing husband who beats me over the head with his optimism and grouch-crushing humor.

For instance, I complain DAILY about the shoddy wifi connection in my bed. IN MY BED. Oh poor me. I can’t access the internet on my iPhone in my bed for TWO WHOLE MINUTES. What a terrible tragedy of epic proportions. I remember when I had to plug my giant computer into the wall where I worked to get an internet connection – I didn’t even have the internet at home.

I’ve actually heard this rant a thousand times from Bryan’s own lips. In a glass-half-empty/glass-half-full kinda world, he’s more likely to say, “Isn’t it AMAZING that we have this AWESOME GLASS???”

And that’s what I get, now, whenever I Eeyore about something that isn’t going my way. I get Bryan all up in my face with his big grin and wild eyes yelling, “BUT ISN’T OUR LIFE AMAZING???”

I love that guy.