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I’m literally on my third round of antibiotics this month trying to kick strep throat. In fact, everyone in our family is on antibiotics.  And when you have strep – you need to buy new toothbrushes so you don’t reinfect yourself all over again.

So I asked my husband Rick to pick up new toothbrushes for the girls.

He came back from the store with adult toothbrushes. He swore they were in the kids’ section.

I sent him to the store again. He came back with toothbrushes for age 0 – 2. My daughters, Dylan and Summer, are 6 and 4. He said he couldn’t find an age on the brushes.

My husband is skilled in many areas… news casting, dancing, remembering song lyrics and baseball stats, chicken eating…. but apparently toothbrush buying is not an area where he excels.

We can’t all be good at everything.

But I didn’t get irritated with him. I didn’t huff and puff. I didn’t say, “HOW HARD IS IT TO BUY TWO KID TOOTHBRUSHES?” I mean, I was wondering but I didn’t say it.

For one thing, Rick might ask me, “HOW HARD IS IT TO TURN OFF THE TOASTER OVEN?” Which if you lived with me, you’d find out that it’s very very difficult for me to turn off the toaster oven. I don’t know why. I take out the hot food and this would seem like the optimum time to shut it off but apparently I don’t want to rush it. So I leave it on for another 15 or 20 minutes or perhaps until Rick notices and decides to keep the house from burning to the ground.

And I also didn’t lose my patience with Rick’s toothbrush debacle because I am tired of us always talking in capital letters. We’re both tired of it. This past year has brought us the greatest blessing of our lives (Yes, Gwynth Paltrow’s singing career, but also our twins).  It has also been a grueling amount of stress and fatigue.

We have been so drained by the demanding needs of our four young children that there have been mornings we don’t even kiss goodbye. Or speak nicely. Or say I love you nearly enough.

So we decided to change it.

And this amazing thing happens when you start being kinder to someone. The edginess starts to disappear. They return the kindness. You stop resenting the person for finishing the last cup of coffee or leaving the dishes because he or she was too tired. You cut each other more slack. You laugh more. You’re more compassionate. You’re quicker to say I’m sorry. You run back into the house, even if it means the kids will be a few minutes late for school, to give that kiss goodbye.

My husband is one of my most favorite people on the planet. He’s smart. He’s funny. He’s got great hair. He doesn’t force me to watch his favorite shows, like “American Idol” or depressing movies. He respects my work. He appreciates what I do all day. He appreciated it even more after I went to New Orleans for three days.

He understands I can’t be happy if my highlights suck or my toenail polish is chipped.  He knows I need alone time, even if he doesn’t. He cares about people. He doesn’t notice my wrinkles or at least he says he doesn’t. At the end of the day, he’s the person I want to be with the most.

And he remembers to turn off the toaster oven when I don’t.

Wisely, I decided to relieve Rick of his toothbrush duty.

Dylan, Summer and I picked out some cool toothbrushes at the store.  They came with stickers for decorating which the girls thought was incredibly awesome. They spelled out their names in stickers so there would be no confusion. We are desperately trying to keep everything separate in an effort to kill this strep craziness.

Dylan spelled out E-M-M-A. And Summer spelled out Z-O-E.

Perfect girls. No confusion there.

61 Responses to the kinder, gentler marriage

  • tullymama says:

    Kelcey – what timing for a perfect post. I’m pretty sure Princess Kate (sorry Queen Mother, “Katherine”) will refer back to this one. Reminding us to be kind in our marriage. Then again, it’s not everyday you get to tell a Prince to sod off.

  • Marinka says:

    You are so right. There are some things so not worth arguing about. And I want one of those sticker toothbrushes. Please ask Rick to get me one.

  • Becky says:

    A fitting reminder for me, as my husband and I are figuring out our own new world order. I’m in a unexpected job hunt, and this just reminded me to take a deep breath and smile. Thanks Kelcey.

  • Kdwbellea says:

    Ah, as my 2 girls use everything of mine I am going to take your toothbrush idea and label all my possesions. Like my toothbrush, chocolate, bra’s with the added warning NOT to streched out and worn as a hat, brand new unopened makeup… you get the idea.

    • Kelcey says:

      One of the most important things you can NOT share is hair brushes. Take it from this mom who used to share brushes and ended up with lice when my girls got it at camp. Ewww….

  • Julie says:

    What a great reminder- it’s definitely easy to take your partner for granted sometimes. Thanks for this post, and I hope you guys all feel better soon 🙂

  • Danielle (That_Danielle) says:

    Anya has that sticker toothbrush.

    My husband is good at shopping for toothbrushes because he knows our daughter will throw a hissy fit if he gets the wrong princess one but there are things he just cannot do that drive me crazy such as do anything else while talking on the phone. I just have to remember to speak to him in lower case letters and ellipses.

  • Beth says:

    That’s funny…my husband could never buy the right size/sex of pull-ups. Always a size too big and boy pull-ups with blue monster trucks on them. Really? Had he never met our picky little girl who would only wear pink princess pull-ups? I cut him slack the first time, but the second time it happened, it was clear he didn’t hear a word I’d said about why the monster trucks wouldn’t work out! Grrrr…

    Also, funny you mention making an effort to be nicer to each other and giving each other some slack (soooo true, by the way!). My hubby & I just had this conversation a couple of weeks ago. Worked great for a week…until sick kids threw us for a sleepless delirious loop. Hoping that is over soon so we can get back to the “playing nice” thing cause I kinda enjoyed it! 😉

    Now, I’ve gotta go throw out some toothbrushes and buy some of those fancy sticker ones for my littles…

  • Alex says:

    Wait…you don’t like American Idol?!?!? Forget about the toaster oven. This is definitely a problem.

    It’s so true that when you dial down the ‘tude, good things happen. I’ve learned to keep myself in check and only let it fly when I truly can’t stand it. And, it does yield positive results. So happy for you guys! Keep it going. xo A

  • MN Mama says:

    This is a wonderful post…. kindness goes a long way. You may want to find a kind and very skilled ENT! We did and are so grateful that Isabelle is so healthy without those nasty tonsils. It has been life changing for her (and our entire family)!

    • I second that! Infection after infection that stopped when the tonsils came out. Sooooo if you are on different antibiotics and still have recurrent infections request an ENT consult. Is your hubby on antibiotics, too? Someone may be asymptomatic…..just sayin’.

  • Ann's Rants says:

    I love this post.

    And even when you lapse, it is easier to remember compassion once you’ve made that conscious decision, isn’t it?

    Thanks for the link.


  • notme says:

    Kelcey, I’ve heard pets can carry the strep bug and reinfect people. Maybe you’re getting from the newest pet that resides under your daughter’s bed!

  • notme says:

    That is, maybe you’re getting it from the newest pet that resides under your daughter’s bed. Sorry I didn’t proof my reply.

  • Kerri says:

    What a wonderful post Kelcey! I am sooo sorry your family is dealing with strep. We have had issues in the past with it too. Luckily not for quite a while now. Turned out my husband was an asymptomatic carrier! I made him get swabbed after I got it again for the 3rd time & the kids kept getting it too (despite properly taking meds, new toothbrushes, etc.) We kept getting it from him! So even though he had no symptoms, he took the anti-biotics and the rest of us stopped getting it!

    I mark tons of stuff with the kids initials mine all have different first letters for their names &/or I used a “I” symbol for the first child “II” for the second, etc. Only that doesn’t work so well after you get to five.

  • Lovely post. Why is it so hard to remember to be kind (particularly b/c every other word out of my mouth to my sons is: BE NICER TO YOUR BROTHER). Hmm. Gonna have to think about that. But it’s true–you get what you give, and so forth, right? Plus great hair goes a long way (especially when you see other men getting… um…skimpy on top) and my husband has that going for him too. Plus if I ever left him, or he me, I’d have to figure out all my internet/tv/ipod/iphone connection stuff on my own, which would effectively kill my interactions with social media. Not to mention back episodes of “The Good Wife.”
    Lice are worse than strep, too, I think. Strep doesn’t make you itch or be non grata in public places.

  • shafeena says:

    Aww!! that is super sweet ! we women almost always complain about us not being appreciated , that sometimes we start to take our men for granted !! 🙂 cheers to all of em

  • Roberta N says:

    Could not agree with you more! Lovely post. My husband and I adopted our little girl (15 months old next week) this past December. She is an absolute joy however our world has certainly been turned upside down too. I know this does not come close to comparing to 4 … let alone twins however I do empathisize with this situation. Thank you and love your blog.

  • Maggie says:

    Oh this pricked tears. I am the mom of four, my youngest being 5 months, and my husband and I have the best marriage of anyone I know- and we have been through hell and back- and the reason is just because of these small kindness, compassions, tongue bitings. It’s so worth it, isn’t it? I love your writing and your heart. I’m here from Anymommy 🙂

  • Bitsy says:

    Kelcey, you have just described how to stay married. My husband and I have been married 19 years and I’m sure you can read all the books about communication and love languages and all the rest, but it just boils down to being nice. Treat your spouse in the same manner in which you want to be treated. Sometimes it isn’t easy, but it’s always simple. Thanks for writing it up!

  • Jill says:

    The fact that your husband actually WENT to the store, proves he’s a keeper to me! That’s one thing that actually brings my husband to virtual tears. Apparently my FIL used to take his kids grocery shopping all the time … and felt the fruit one time too many. Husb is scarred for life.

  • Carla says:

    Hi Kelcy – long time reader, first time poster. I love reading your blog. This was a very fitting post as it was my husband and my wedding anniversary on the 29th – I will be emailing it to him for a read. Anyway, we bought our almost 2 year old son a new ELMO toothbrush and he wanted to sleep with it last night! Maybe we should have just went with a sticker toothbrush.

  • You practically need a PhD to pick out the right toothbrush these days. Kudos to Rick for even trying.

    And you’re right – cutting each other some slack is really the secret to a marriage that lasts.

  • Tonya says:

    I asked my spouse to pick up wipes for our son, he brought up wipes that say “Keep out of reach of children” Ummmm…..It’s my fault for asking him to get them.
    I’m so amazed that you manage to write beautiful, funny posts while in the midst of some strep throat plague and having to find a new sitter!!! You are my hero!

  • Renee says:

    I sent the link to this post to my husband, who is generally allergic to reading blogs of any kind. We’ve been suffering from some of the same capital letter talking for too long. This is what he wrote back to me: “Thanks.  I really enjoyed that post, it made me think of us too, and I love you lots.”

    See – you’re changing lives!

  • Working Mom says:

    Handsome Hubby & I have been together for 10 years (about a week apart in all that time) and married for 6 of those. I grew up being well aware that if a person yells they are clearly speaking to someone behind you because you’re right in front of them, so when that happens I switch off. He’s adopted the same approach.
    Additionally we ALWAYS kiss bye-bye and hello and constantly tell each other “I love you”.
    I wasn’t very touchy-feely when we met (victorian crap) and struggled horribly for the first 6 months because he’s very affectionate, but when I worked out that he needs affection, and he worked out that I need words, and we started to give each other what we need, life has been awesome. I’m more in love with my husband now, than I was when we got married.

  • Babymama says:

    I found you on Mon Cheri’s blog…glad I did.

    I have spent far too much time reading your blog today. I am done stalking for now.


  • vodkamom says:

    what is this toothbrush thing you speak of? Is it the thing that I have to buy a BAZILLION of each trip because the kids LEAVE THEM EVERYWHERE THEY GO??

    Jesus. I shoulda bought stock in Crest. and Tampax. and Absolute.

  • Alexandra says:

    Beautiful post, one that the world needs to read.

    Because let’s be kinder/gentler to everyone.

    I’m talking to you, nasty ladies across the street, alright?

  • KK says:

    I’m just find your post now and totally agree. I work at home with my husband and so we spend a lot time together. And it is always easier if we are kind to each other. Thanks for your story.

  • purrfectlee says:

    “He understands I can’t be happy if my highlights suck or my toenail polish is chipped.”
    This is my favorite line of the whole post. Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing is beautiful but THIS, this is what makes for a good marriage. LOL

  • so good and so true. always true. we (not the royal we, but literally, my husband and I) often put everything else ahead of our relationship because everything else feels so pressing–kids, work, deadlines, bills, parents, etc.
    There are infinite rewards for just a little bit of kindness and compassion in an marriage. thanks for the post!

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kelcey kintner