Love Story -- I Do Declare

Enjoy a Love Story by Patra of I Do Declare:

Writing' My Own Love Story
Many women, myself once-included, who are truly ready to meet a man they hope to marry resist mingling in the world of online dating. Safety matters and other dated prejudices aside (I heard they met {gasp!} on the Internet!), some true romantics simply don't believe it is possible to have a love before first sight story that will stand up to the Disney-infused tales of finding Prince Charming. Lucky for me, old fashion love letters and a family history of courtship through correspondence delivered me my happily ever after.

Love Letters
My grandmother made the first move on my grandfather...if writing to a sailor, per her mother's instruction, can be considered a move.

My great-grandmother, Mary, handed my grandmother, Frances, the address of a serviceman named Bill. While Bill was deployed with the Navy, Frances began writing him letters. They wrote for weeks and weeks, until finally meeting just days after Bill returned from his deployment. My grandparents met on a Tuesday; by Saturday, my grandfather had proposed.
I remember their marriage as a flirtatious one with frequent kisses, playful touching and barefoot dancing on the living room floor. In their many decades of marriage, my grandmother never removed her wedding band.

I know Grandma still has all those letters, and I suspect they are pretty juicy; these storied loved notes have long since been hidden from her curious children and grandchildren.

I Got Male
In 2007, I lived in Washington, DC, where online dating was quickly becoming as common as the inter-office love affair. Despite a string of lackluster, if not terrible, experiences dating in the real world, I initially resisted the wide webbed one as a means for meeting someone. What would my mother think?? Would the people in my East Tennessee hometown think I was desperate? After all, I was nearing 30 and had never been married...a very normal place to be in big cities, but in the small town South where people are often married with children before they are old enough to rent a car, I was surely considered an old maid (at best) or (at worst) just downright unworthy of wife-ing. Would a romance from the interwebs only add to the questions about why I could not find a good man? For a while, I thought yes...

Because the Match.com commercials convinced me it was "okay to look" I began trolling dating websites, seeing faces (some even familiar) that looked normal - most even handsome - and profiles that read as good, if not better, than all the business cards I had pocketed in six years of happy hours. Eventually, more and more couples that I knew began revealing that the "mutual friend" who had introduced them was, in fact, eHarmony or Match.com.
When the curiosity - and enough dateless weekends - had the best of me, I created a Match profile of my own where I shared with the world that I had a type, and he was tall, dark and balding.

The Write One
Writing has always been the way I express myself best, so as opposed to feeling totally insecure making eye contact across a crowded room, I felt very in my element turning a phrase as a way to catch someone's attention. I was good at e-flirting.
That is why when I stumbled upon a striking (and yes, balding...) man whose profile revealed he and I shared the same passport stamps and tastes in music, like my grandmother, I made the first move. My first email led to many amusing exchanges, and soon our witty banter about Caribbean beach bars and college football turned into a date. That date led to a traditional courtship that brought me all the moments I had ever wanted in a romance: horseback rides in the spring, concerts in the summer, hayrides in the fall, and by winter, a down-on-one-knee proposal by the Christmas tree we'd cut together in the snow.

When I first ventured into online dating I was honestly worried I would meet someone; I did not want my love story to be forced. It was not until I was writing the story of how my husband and I met for our wedding website that I realized, give or take the monthly enrollment fee and the U.S. Postal Service, our story mirrors as the modern day version of one my most favorite romances - my grandparents'.

I now wear the same wedding band that my grandfather slipped on my grandmother’s finger in 1946. It is the same slim and simple gold ring that her grandmother wore before her, and the same ring she left on her hand even years after my grandfather had died. They were married for nearly 49 years.
If my husband and I have children, I suspect that by the time their children are old enough to appreciate how their grandparents met, our story of meeting online will not be unique. Following our lead, several friends of my husbands and mine have dared to date online. All have had colorful experiences, even relationships. One is now married, with a baby on the way.
I believe fate comes in all forms, and that love stories can begin anywhere. I am happy mine dates back to a great-grandmother who believed in the art - and romance - of writing.

Wasn't that a beautiful story!? Do you have a Love Story worthy of a feature? Send it my way, gwenisinlove {at} gmail {dot} com


Behold the Power of Baby Wipes

Sex is messy business. Clean it up with baby wipes! Quick, easy, disposable, and fresh. Keep a box in your bathroom to freshen up after the deed is done.


How do you freshen up after loving encounters?


Birth Control?

Dear Gwen,

I'm a huge fan of your blog and I just wanted to write and say that I'm so glad there is a voice like yours for women everywhere. I've been dating my boyfriend for over 6 years and we are still waiting! I never thought I'd find a guy who would agree to wait, but he has been a trooper. I mean, seriously. He must be in for the long haul, right? haha.

...I may have missed this in a previous post, but what are your thoughts on birth control? I know it is against the beliefs of many Christians, but since I haven't had any need for it anyway, it's never been an issue for me. Just curious as to your take since I put stock in your opinion!

A Reader
Thank you so much for your kind comments and question. I do not speak for any church or organization but am happy to offer my opinion and insight. Some religions, including the Catholic Church, teach against the use of birth control. From what I have learned (1, 2, 3), it appears that religions who advise or command against birth control are encouraging similar principals and working for a similar result: the creation of loving families. I believe that this is one of the most noble accomplishments.

Ultimately, however, I believe it's a personal decision that needs to be made between husband and wife. In determining whether to use birth control in your marriage, here are some factors to consider:
  1. A Unified and Bonded Marriage: How would the use of birth control alter your ability to connect with your spouse? Do the hormones in the pill have negative sexual or emotional side effects? Do you have a more difficult time climaxing with the use of a condom or other form birth control? On the other hand, maybe you feel more confident in connecting with your spouse without worry of conception? Birth control has enabled couples to bond sexually much more frequently where before they would have refrained to prevent pregnancy.
  2. Mental, Emotional, and Physical Well-Being: It is also important to consider the mother (and father's) emotional and physical ability to care for a child. Children last for about 78 years, so this is no light commitment. Health factors may make pregnancy very dangerous for the mother. Also, consider Postpartum Depression or other mental health concerns and your ability to cope with these issues and this point in your life. The answer, however, shouldn't be, "This is going to be hard, I'll pass." But, "This is going to be hard, how much can I take on? I'm ready at this point in time to stretch myself by constantly loving and serving another human being."
  3. Economic Ability: Are you sufficiently self reliant to financially care for a child at this time without excessively burdening your family or society? Not only is the pregnancy and actual delivery of the child expensive, but raising a child is expensive too. Birth control can help in the planning, preparing, and saving up for child rearing. But you also don't have to wait until you have the "house on the hill" and perfect finances before having children.
  4. Successful Procreation: Procreation is truly a gift. To carry a child inside you is a life-changing experience. Children bring joy, happiness and companionship. They push us to learn, grow, and become less selfish. In deciding against procreation you may be denying yourself these opportunities. Additionally, delaying procreation may bring difficulties in conceiving or carrying a child.
"From a strictly biologic point of view, it makes sense to have a baby in your 20s if you are healthy. Your fertility is at its peak, the chances for miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities are low and you are as fit as you’ll ever be for carrying a child. As we age, our fertility lessens and our chances for miscarriage and chromosomal accidents increase. It may be more difficult to conceive a healthy a baby in your 40s. Once your ovaries stop producing healthy eggs there are no medical techniques to reverse this. I have had the heartbreaking job of telling a number of women in their 40s that they are too old to conceive naturally. So I generally remind childless women in their 30s about their “biologic clock.”"

-Dr. Laura Stachel, Obstetrics & Gynecology
These are just a few factors to consider. Don't look at birth control as something that is either good or bad. Look at it as one of many tools for building a family and a stronger relationship with your spouse. How, or if, you use it should be completely up to each individual couple.

This is a very personal and important choice that should be approached with much thought, research, and discussion. As always, your constructive insight is welcome.


Love Story -- Untenured Teacher

Enjoy an out of the ordinary Love Story by Sarah of Untenured Teacher :)

I met my husband, Max, for the first time during freshman orientation in college.

We were going around in a circle, introducing ourselves and saying where we were from. This was a tricky question for me since my family started out in California, but moved to France when I was seven. And then, to make things even more complicated, I attended a boarding school in Germany for high school.

So when it came around to my turn, I said, "California, France, and Germany," and that's how I made the nerdiest first impression with my future husband.

I didn't see much of him after that, even though we lived in the same dorm. We started hanging out rather randomly in April of that year. I sat next to him at a dorm picnic and asked him, by way of an ice breaker, if he was Canadian. He wasn't.

Our relationship really kicked off on my birthday, when we got into an impromptu cake fight, chasing each other, laughing, and getting frosting everywhere.

Shortly after that, our first year of college had ended, and I flew back to Germany to spend the summer with my family. Max and I emailed each other back and forth during that time, and checking my inbox was the absolute highlight of my day.

I half-jokingly invited him to come over and visit with me and my family. You know, because it's not like Michigan and Germany share a border or anything. To my utter surprise, he did! One day during his two week trip, we toured the World War 1 trenches, and it was there that we "officially" started dating. August 10th, 2001.

We held hands. We cuddled. We hugged. But we didn't kiss.

I had told him right off the bat that I wasn't ready to kiss him yet. (Truthfully I had never kissed anyone before, and the idea was terrifying!) He was a trooper about it!

As the months progressed, we knew we were meant for each other, and we knew we wanted to get married soon. We decided to save our first kiss for the altar.

We were married on August 10th, 2002, precisely one year after we started dating. (I like to tell people it's because we're organized, but actually it was just a coincidence!) By this time, I was more than ready to kiss him :).

So there we were, standing at the altar: his dad and my dad (both pastors) up at the front, conducting the ceremony. It occurred to me right before dad said: "You may kiss the bride" that I was going to have my very first kiss ever right in front of all of these people!

I leaned in for the kiss. I thought it was going to be a huge, romantic moment in my life. And it was! But at the time I can only remember thinking: "Gee, this is wet!" He likes to say that I wouldn't let go of him when he tried to pull away... but that's his side of the story!

I'm glad we saved our first kiss (I can hold this over my daughter's head someday...). I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, though. We were lucky in that we had a short engagement. But it definitely made our story special, and I believe that it deepened our relationship. We've had eight years and counting to make up for all of those kisses!

Do you have a Love Story you think is worthy of a feature? Send submissions to gwenisinlove {at} gmail dot com


All is Love Stop Motion Video

Enjoy a little slice of happiness on this lovely Wednesday. Made for you by me :)

All is Love from Gwen In Love on Vimeo.


How to Choose a Spouse (and How to be a Good One)

Most of you, dear readers, have already chosen a man that you want to keep forever and ever. But for those of you still looking, I’ve put together a little guide. If you are already married, this could be a great conversation starter. Are you being the kind of spouse you would want to be married to?


Gwen’s Guide to Choosing a Spouse:

1. Choose someone who is selfless

To me, this is the most important quality to look for in a spouse. It is also the most important quality you should cultivate in yourself. Of course unselfishness should not be confused for a push over. You don’t want to marry a “yes man.” But if both partners are consistently worried about the other’s wants, needs, and feelings there will be no need to doubt their intentions.

Selflessness is superior to other sought after traits because from it most good qualities flow. You serve, provide for your family, and are conscious of your words and actions because you are selfless.

2. Choose someone who is reputable and honest

How do you know you’ve found an honest man? His actions and reputation speak volumes. Does he have enemies? Does he sleep around? Do the people who love you most approve? Can he hold a job? Is he in excessive or unreasonable debt? Has he hidden anything from you?

If you are married now, are you honest? Do you hide things from your spouse? If you do, stop. Didn’t Abe teach you to be honest?

3. Choose someone who is hard working

Hard work can be manifested in many ways. But is he working towards something? A productive life is a happy life.

4. Choose someone who is on the same page

Of course it’s good to have your own interests but do your core values match? Is he a hunter and you a member of PETA? If you want to be a stay-at-home-mom will he do everything he can to make it happen? If you are not the same religion, how will you raise your children or handle holidays? Have you discussed it? Studies show that shared religious beliefs increase marital satisfaction. Consider differences in age, culture, and intelligence.

If you’re already married, are you flexible and willing to change?

5. Choose someone who is confident

Someone who is confident will be more capable of loving you. Your relationship will be less consumed by their insecurities. You are choosing a partner not a project. In marriage, it should not be your responsibility to fix someone.

But beware; arrogance is not synonymous with confidence. Confidence and humility go hand in hand.

No one possesses all of these traits to perfection. If you are lacking in one of these traits, change it and improve. If your spouse is, show him increased love and accentuate his positive traits. This will be much more effective than nagging.

What traits do/did you value in finding a spouse?


Be a Dating Diva

Remember when you met and fell in love with your honey? All of the nervous excitement — the DATING? It can take effort and focus to keep that fire roaring. Twelve of the cutest little wives have come together to support and encourage each other to become the most darling Dating Divas. They have put their heads together to come up with some fabulously creative and inexpensive date nights that are all about having fun and courting your man.

The invitation is for every wife to be a Dating Diva! It’s a movement, ladies, and you’re lucky to be a part of it! I feel so proud to support such worthy women as the Dating Divas and am pleased as punch to take the title upon myself.


While we all know a daily romp in the hay keeps the divorce attorneys away, these Divas offer some fab ideas for nourishing your marriage the other 18 hours that you’ll have left in your day.Like dedicating a Saturday to doing all of His Favorite Things. No malls, no theaters, no Italian.Make the day all about him and Best Buy and steak houses.

You will laugh yourself silly by creating your Choose Your Own Adventure Date. Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books?!? So classic. Between the Star Trek door noises, Rock Band and MC Hammer mentions you will have yourself a FUN night to remember.The girls have even included a downloadable printout for this one.

The girls also know how to get the bed posts a rockin’. I think my guy will love coming home from work to find a trail of flower petals from the garage door all the way to his awaiting girl. Then I will be sure to let him know that I am Wild About Him.

My favorite Diva idea is to Recreate Your First Date! How romantic is that?! Making out on the front porch after the date is suddenly so hot again.

To become a Dating Diva, check out their blog here. Be sure to become a follower, Facebook fan, and add the Divas to your reader!

Here are a few other favorite posts:
  1. Let's Grow Old Together...
  2. "The Bookstore" Date
  3. "Couples Minute To Win It" Date

What are your favorite dates? Are you a dinner and movie kind of couple? Or do you prefer a more unique date night?

If you're not regularly dating your husband, why not? Money? Kids?


Love Story -- JT and Britt

Brittnie has the best. story. ever. You'll love it. Go.

When me and my husband were dating we were completely inseparable. So in love and would spend every possible minute we could with each other. I lived at home with my parents while we were dating and he would come over every night after he got off work and school.

We loved to watch movies and sometimes maybe even 2 or 3 just to spend more time with each other (no worries, we were completely rated PG mormons) Sometimes we would both fall asleep and he would wake up and leave and sometimes in the early, early morning, oops!

Well, for the past week he kept seeing a truck slowly pull up in my parents driveway then hurry and take off. I had a crazy ex bf before him and he thought that it was him. At first he let it slide but after seeing this truck a few nights in a row he got concerned and decided to follow it. I had no idea he was doing this, he hadn't told me about the truck at all.

He was pretty heated one night while following the truck, pulled up right behind it and started honking the horn. The driver of the truck pulled over and stopped and jumped out. My husband jumped out as well ready to give this man a whoopin! The man started yelling at my husband asking why he is following him. My husband told him he kept seeing him come to his girlfriends house and speed off. The man went back to his truck, pulled out some papers and handed it to my husband. It wasn't just and kind of paper, it was a roll of newspaper.

Yes, he was indeed the newspaper deliverer. I guess JT didn't notice the paper flying out the window every time he stopped at my parents. He really was my knight in shining armor and still is to this day :)

Brittnie's Slice of Advice: I remembered some advice my mom gave me right before I got married. She told me that if I become a stay at home mom, it doesn't mean I shouldn't still dress up and put on lipstick. She taught me the importance of always looking your best, especially for your husband when he gets home from work because he deserves it. I totally agree with her too, I never want to turn into a frumpy housewife. Even if I only have time to change clothes and put on lipgloss, it's better than nothing!

Funny, huh? I told you it was good :) Do you have a Love Story worthy of a feature? Send it my way, gwenisinlove {at} gmail {dot} com


Love Story -- Kari On

Enjoy a picture perfect proposal by Kari of Kari On.

He had always been a man of few words. But when you can draw like he does, who needs to say anything? Besides, I talked enough for the both of us.

He and his art caught my eye from the beginning. A couple of starving art students, we sat in the back of Art History 210 whispering and falling in love winter semester of our sophomore year of college. We had talked about getting married, but before we had gotten serious I had committed to a summer job in a resort town and I still wanted to go. I knew he didn’t want me to, though of course, he would never say it. But I was young and independent and wanted some time to myself before I settled down.

The day after finals and the day before I was supposed to leave I was performing with the university choir in a graduation concert. Afterward we were going to go celebrate the end of school and spend our last night together before I left. While driving me back to my apartment to change clothes he was unusually quiet, even for him. I figured it was just the looming good-bye.

We got to my apartment and I quickly headed down the steps to my basement dwelling. For some reason he was lagging behind. “Are you coming? I called back.” He looked sheepish, “I forgot something in the car. I’ll be right back.” I thought little of it and worked on unlocking my door. I could see from a window a bright light shining, which was very noticeable in the depths of a basement apartment. I opened the door to find the darkness of my living room split by a spotlight on the floor shining up on a framed drawing hanging on the wall. It was a proposal worth a thousand words : a charcoal drawing of a vase of flowers sitting next to an open ring box and a note that said, “Kari, Will you marry me ? Love, Jason.” A slit had been cut inside the ring box to showcase a beautiful engagement ring.

This time I was the one who was speechless. With a look on his face that said as much as the drawing, he came through the door. Overwhelmed by his love and courage to ask me to stay in the only way he could say it, I grabbed him and said, “Yes!” I ditched my summer job and we got married seven weeks later. We have now been married 18 years and have three children. He is now a professional artist and his paintings sell for thousands of dollars. But my “picture perfect proposal” which hangs in our bedroom is worth more than gold, diamonds and dollars to me.

Do you have a Love Story worthy of a feature? Send it it gwenisinlove {at} gmail {dot} com


Back To School Shopping

Whether you are going back to school this September or not, this is a fabulous excuse to spruce up your wardrobe and give a fresh new look to your love life. But instead of (or maybe in addition to) new boots and that rockin' pair of skinny jeans you've been eyeing, head for the uniform. Neck ties and plaid.

"How could Gwen possibly think I would feel sexy strutting around the office/mall/movie theater in a drab and plaid school girls uniform?"

Umm, hello?! You won't be wearing your new back to school uniform to the park/restaurant/school. This is bedroom attire, girls. Have you not seen this Britney Spears video?!

Boys go crazy for this stuff. Seduce his pants off sister. Do you remember our talk about Victoria's Secret? Well, this is one of those items that Victoria may not have lying around for you. I've found the most affordable and most adorable sexy school girl outfits here. But whether you create your ensemble out of his old work shirt and tie or you buy a sassy little thing, try creating a back to school experience for your husband that he'll never forget. And it's ok if you feel a little bit silly. It'll be fun to have a good laugh together. Step outside the box, girls, and learn something new this school year :)


If I remember right, school is a fabulous place for flirting...


Love Story -- Whooo Oughta Know

I love Kari, author of Whooo Oughta Know. She is my bff and she doesn't even know it. We became friends when I read her perfect letter to The Economy. She has a fabulous all-American Love Story and I hope you love it :)

Seven years ago, I was sixteen years old.

Nathan and I fell in love very quickly. It all happened within a matter of months. Each day built upon the previous: flirting --> dating --> kissing. We spent a lot of time together and grew closer and closer each day.
One springtime day after school on May 12th, 2003, we decided to take my little sister (who was 4 at the time!) for a walk. We all held hands with Andrea in the middle, and we walked down the street to Triangle Park. The sun warmed our skin in that subtle spring sort of way, and we kicked pebbles as we walked. It wasn't just spring that made us all twitter-pated, but that season sure does have a way of setting the mood. After a while at the park, we headed back to my house. We sat underneath my loft-bed, talking and laughing. We were quoting movies when one of us said, "FOR-EV-ER!"

"What movie is that from?" we asked each other.

Neither of us could remember. We sat there, our minds racing, trying to remember where that quote came from. Of course, we had to make it a competition. Whoever could remember the movie first would be the winner.

"The Sandlot!" I finally shouted.
"Ohhhh, yeah! That's what it is!"
"So, what do I win?"
"Well, what do you want?"
"I think you know what I want."
"A new bicycle?"
"A pony?"
{these silly questions continued for quite some time UNTIL...}
"Do you want to be my girlfriend?"

And then he kissed me for the first time--well, it was our first real kiss to be more exact. It was official. We were boyfriend and girlfriend. I felt so giddy and excited, but mostly, I felt in love. I knew I had said "yes" to something special. I knew that day--that May 12th 7 years ago--wasn't just any ordinary day. I could just feel it.

Our relationship started with "FOR-EV-ER," and it will continue with FOREVER.

Ahhh! Isn't it so cute?! This is why you are married girls. Do you have a Love Story of your own that you think may be a worthy feature? Send it my way. gwenisinlove {at} gmail {dot} com


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