5 Reasons Why Alaska Is Bigger And Better Than Texas

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5 Reasons Why Alaska Is Bigger And Better Than Texas - Sled Dog Slow

For the next few weeks I’m visiting family in Texas! While I’m sure Texas is a fine state full of fine people, I hadn’t even been here an hour when I decided I was going to write this post. Of course I had to start my visit off with a bang 😉 So why exactly is Alaska bigger and better than Texas?

Number 1 – Alaska is actually bigger!

You could actually fit the entirety of Texas into Alaska twice. It is bigger than Texas, Montana and California combined! Alaska is so big the International Date Line had to be bent around it to keep the entire state in the same day. It has 1/5 of the US’s entire land mass. So yeah, Alaska is pretty darn big!

Number 2 – Reindeer sausage y’all

Meat is a staple of life in both Alaska and Texas, but you’d be hard pressed to find reindeer sausage anywhere in Texas. In Alaska it’s on the menu at every restaurant and you can pick it up at the grocery store. Yum!

Number 3 – Alaskans are friendlier

This is actually the point that started this list. My moms car broke down on the way from the airport. We made it off to the side of the road fine, and my mom called AAA. In the meantime, we all got out of the car and stood in the lit driveway of the car dealership we’d pulled into. So we’re four ladies and two babies standing next to a car with the hood up and flashers on. We had about 20-30 cars pass us before AAA got there, without anyone stopping to see if we needed help. Including a police officer who stopped to ask if we’d heard gun shots a half hour before then took off without so much as asking if we were alright.

In Alaska, most of those cars would have stopped, even if one person had stopped already! How do I know? Because I’ve been helped and stopped to help any time I could. I may be a transplant, but Alaskan manners were quick to rub off on me!

Number 4 – Coffee Stands

Okay, hear me out with this one. Did y’all know that Anchorage actually outdoes Seattle for coffee shops? With 2.8 shops per 10,000 people, it beats Seattle’s 2.5. Alaska actually has more espresso shops per capita than anywhere in America!

So why am I comparing Alaska’s plethora of coffee stands to Texas specifically? As it turns out, Texas doesn’t really have drive through coffee stands. There is the occasional sit down coffee shop, but even those are few and far between. Where is a girl supposed to get her caffeine fix around here?!

Number 5 – In Alaska, the things that want to kill you are big enough to see coming

Yeah, we might have ornery moose and huge bears, but you’ll see those suckers coming at you. Same with anything else out here that might want to eat you, or thinks you are in it’s territory. On the other hand, Texas has poisonous snakes, spiders and scorpions. I am not enjoying shaking out my shoes before I slip them on, even though its winter. There is stuff in Texas that might kill you just because you didn’t see it!

So Texas. I’m still here for another 3 weeks, show me why you are awesome!

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50+ Ways To Use Wood Ash

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Burning wood for heat means we end up with quite a bit of wood ash. I have a few go-to’s for using it around the homestead but I recently decided to research what else I could use it for. Turns out wood ash is amazingly useful! So, weather it comes from a bonfire or a wood stove, save that ash and put it to use!

But first… a talk about Safety!

Many fires are caused each year by wood ash being improperly collected and stored. Wood ash should always be collected into an empty metal container, after being allowed to cool fully. Only use ash from fires burned from wood without chemicals (like many pallets). Also, don’t use black walnut ash as it will kill plants it is spread over. Gloves should always be worn when making or using lye water, and goggles should also be worn for making lye.

Lye and Lye water are NOT the same product. Never use lye in place of lye water as you could endanger your health.

Now that we’ve had the safety talk, some of the uses I’ve discovered or used wood ash for include:

1. Outhouse Deodorizer

We don’t have indoor plumbing, so I’m well acquainted with this use for wood ash. Just scoop your ash into a metal can and stash it in the outhouse. As for when to use, I find that one scoop per poop works well to limit smells 😉

2. Chicken Dust Bath

Add wood ash to sand for super cleaning power in chicken dust baths. Wood ash acts as a desiccant on lice and mites, killing them and keeping your chickens healthy and happy.

3. Enrich Compost

Wood ash is high in calcium, and contains phosphorous, potassium, and boron. This makes it a great addition to any compost pile. Just be sure not to use too much as wood ash contains salt. A sprinkle now and again will keep the compost from becoming to alkaline.

4. Deter Garden Pests

Sprinkle wood ash around the edges of garden beds with young plants. Slugs and snails dislike the salt in wood ash and will be deterred from snacking on newly planted beds. Angi at Schneider Peeps has more information on using wood ash in the garden here.

5. Melt Ice And Snow

Because of the salt in wood ash it makes a great ice and snow melt. It won’t stain concrete or asphalt like some commercial snow melts do.

6. Shine Silver (And Other Metals)

A paste of ash and water makes a wonderful silver cleaner. It can also be used on gold and other metals. Be sure to test this on an inconspicuous area as wood ash may scratch some surfaces.

7. Amend Acidic Soil

Add ash to amend acidic soil. Ash will change soil PH quickly so be sure to do regular soil tests.

8. Perk Up Plants

Calcium loving plants like tomatoes will perk right up if wood ash is sprinkled directly in the hole while transplanting.

9. Clean Fireplace Glass

Dip a damp sponge in ash and use it to scrub fireplace glace. Alternatively, you can use charcoal for this as well (read how here).

10. Use As Lawn Fertilizer

Sprinkle over browned lawns to turn them green quickly!

11. Use It To Kill Moss

Sprinkle around areas with unsightly moss. This can be used on lawns, or pavement as it will not stain.

12. Use As A Dehumidifier

Place ash in an open meal container and leave in rooms that are too humid.

13. Use As A Fire Extinguisher

While it won’t replace a store bought fire extinguisher, wood ash can be used in a pinch. Keep a bucket near the wood stove, compost pile, or in the barn to stomp out small fires quickly.

14. Control Pond Algae

Use 1 tablespoon wood ash per 1000 gallons of pond water will help keep algae under control. It’s also safe for use in aquaponics systems.

15. Homemade Tooth Powder

Wood ash is an abrasive material, as such it can be used to clean and whiten teeth. Only ash from soft woods should be used. Tooth powder made from ash should not be used every day, as it could damage tooth enamel.

16. Ash Tea For The Garden

For this you need 1 lb of ash and 10 gallons of water. The ash should be placed in a pillow case or similar and steeped for several days. The resulting tea can be poured around plants for a nutrient boost.

17. Deodorize Pet Bedding

Wood ash makes a great deodorizer. Sprinkle it on dog blankets and beds to cut down on their natural smell.

18. Create Lye Water For Cleaning

Lye water is great for cleaning glass, silver, certain dishes and removing rust. It can be made by boiling 3 tablespoons of ash per 1 cup of water. Always use gloves when working with lye water!

19. Use In Natural First Aid

Wood ash has been used for centuries to kill bacteria and cleanse wounds. Mix equal parts lye water and soap to clean the wound.

20. Use As A Pest Deterrent

Place ash in an open container and stash in moist or dark areas of basements and cellars. It will help deter mice, rats and cockroaches.

21. Use As A Livestock Pest Remover

Rub a paste of vinegar and ash into the fur of pets or livestock to get rid of lice, mites and fleas. This will be messy but it works!

22. Remove Ant Colonies

Pour fine ash around ant colonies and watch them pack up and leave!

23. Clothing Stain Remover

Create a past with ash and water, rub on stained clothes and let sit for 5 minutes. Clean off with a damp rag then wash the clothes.

24. Seed Preservation

Pioneers used to store seeds in wood ash to prevent mold from damaging the seeds. More proof of its great moisture absorbing qualities!

25. Fruit And Vegetable Storage

Pioneers also used wood ash to store fruits and vegetables in. After digging a hole in the ground the walls and bottom were coated in ash. Food products would be layered with ash coating each items so they did not touch each other. Food could be preserved for several months this way.

26. Hair Treatment

Use lye water to wash hair, then follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse. This is especially useful for oily hair.

27. Ice Preventative

Sprinkle wood as on walkways, windshields and satellite dishes to prevent ice build up.

28. Prevent Frost Damage To Plants

If there is an unexpected early or late frost cover plants with a healthy spread of wood ash. This will help prevent damage to the plants.

29. Use In Clothes Storage

I don’t know about you, but I really dislike the smell of moth balls. Instead, sprinkle ash on and between clothes to be stored for long periods of time.

30. Additive To Kitty Litter

Add wood ash to kitty litter, or other animal waste bedding to help prevent smells.

31. Preserve Eggs

In many middle eastern countries eggs are preserved without refrigeration with ash. Wood ash is mixed with clay, salt, lime and rice. Eggs are rolled in the mixture for storage.

32. Fridge Deodorizer

Use wood ash placed in an open container to deodorize a refrigeration.

33. Compost Citrus

I’ve always been told that things like citrus should not be composted for various reasons. Adding wood ash to the compost will help break down citrus peels.

34. De-Skunk Pets

If you’ve ever had a dog sprayed by a skunk you know how long the smell takes to fade. Using wood ash rubbed through the fur will make the smell fade faster.

35. Clean White Boards

Ash and water can be used to create a paste for cleaning white board. This will even remove permanent marker that has accidentally been used!

36. Make A Survival Water Filter

There will probably be chunks of charcoal hanging out in the ash you’ve collected. Use the charcoal and ash to create a small water filter in emergencies.

37. Use In Place Of Lime For Gardening

Ash has smaller particles than lime and is more water soluble. This means a little goes a long way, so don’t over do it.

38. Clean The Bathroom

Due to it’s abrasiveness, ash is great for cleaning the tub. Just sprinkle like Comet and scrub with a damp sponge.

39. Use To Lighten Clothes

Use 1 part ash to 4 parts heated soft (rain) water. Stir together, then let settle. Use the clear water on top as a bleach replacer in laundry. Roughly 1 cup per load.

40. Make Homemade Corn Nuts

Simply add ash to water and soak dried corn kernels in it. Once they’ve re-hydrated, pat dry, add spices and fry them up!

41. Clean Oil Stains From The Garage

Much like cat litter, ashes can be spread on freshly spilled oil to clean it up. Let the ash soak up the oil, then sweep it up and dispose of it.

42. Create Natural Pottery Glaze

Mix wood ash with a clay slurry, then dip or paint pottery. Because ash contains high amounts of calcium carbonate it creates a glaze over pottery when fired at the right temperature. Glaze coloring will depend on what is mixed with the ash and the type of wood burned, as well as the elements in the soil where the tree grew

43. Clean Furniture Stains

Create a paste of ash and water and spread over the stained area. Allow it to set for roughly 5 minutes, then wipe off with a damp sponge. In case this method damages the furniture, it should be tried in a hidden area first .

44. Add To Chicken Feed

Wood ash makes a great addition to chicken feed as a calcium supplement. Chickens with supplemented feed have been shown to have improved laying rates. Also, it helps make chicken manure less odorous, which is a huge plus.

45. Remove Hair From Hides

Mix ash and hot (soft) water to soak hides in. Afterward the hair should be softer so less scraping is needed. Here is a step by step guide for using ashes to tan hides from Live The Old Way.

46. Use As A Hardwood Tree Fertilizer

Apple trees especially love wood ash. It helps the roots by adding calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous and manganese to the soil. Also, these nutrients make for some delicious fruit too! Just be careful not to over do it!

47. Create A Wood Insect Repellent

Mix ash and water in a jar and let it set for a week. Use the mixture to paint raw wood as an insect repellent.

48. Clear Clogged Drains

Pour 1 cup of dry powdery ash into a clogged or slowed drain. Follow this with 1 cup of heated soft (rain) water. Flush the drain with fresh water after allowing it to set for several hours. After this treatment the drain will work much better.

49. Clean Paint Drips

Rub wood ash onto wet paint drips on pavement or concrete, then sweep up. This will also help conceal any tint the paint would have left behind as well.

50. Use As A Traction Agent

Keep a small bag of wood ash in vehicles for when the roads or icy or snowy. Spread it behind tires when you need a little extra traction.

51. Make Traditional German Pretzels

Ever wonder where pretzels get their amazing crusts from? Turns out the answer is lye, and lye comes from wood ash! This is a great explanation of using lye to make pretzels, along with a recipe.

52. Clean Cast Iron

A piece of cast iron cook ware can be soaked in a solution of soft water and ash for a day or two. This will clean the pan as well as remove the rust. Then the skillet can then be washed with vinegar and water to remove the lye. Afterwords the cast iron can be reseasoned and is ready for use.

53. Make Lye Water For Use In Recipes

Certain Chinese dishes call for the use of lye water, such as mooncakes. Likewise, it is traditionally used in ramen noodles and is what gives them their springy texture and yellow coloring. Because lye water can cause mouth, esophageal and stomach burns if used incorrectly caution should be used. Always follow the recipe instructions exactly!

54. Use To Improve Pasture

Wood ash provides substantial amounts of potassium and calcium, and lower amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and manganese. In addition, it also has trace amounts of boron and copper. All of these make it a great pasture fertilizer, as animals will ingest these through plants eaten.

55. Use Ashes To Make Lye

Lye can be used for soap making or stripping animal hides. Here is a great write up by Live The Old Way on how to properly make lye, and a homemade soap guide from Kathryn at Farming My Backyard. Warning: Lye can be dangerous and precautions should be taken when making it.

Now I will say I haven’t tried all of these, or even most of them! But I have used wood ash often enough to believe it is this versatile. I plan on testing these out as the homestead grows, so keep an eye out for updates!

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Signs Of Labor In Dogs

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Sled Dog Slow - Signs Of Labor In Dogs

We had 8 beautiful, healthy husky puppies born here last week! I love having puppies around, but this will be our last litter for a while. Puppies take up a lot of space inside a tiny home. Luckily, some of them even have homes waiting for them already!

I’ve helped with whelping with quite a few dogs, so it was easy for me to figure out when Laska was in labor. While every dog is different, they will follow the same general signs while in labor. The average time for a dogs pregnancy is 63 days, though they can be as short as 58 days or as long as 69. If a dog has been pregnant for longer than 69 days veterinary intervention should be sought.

Don’t worry too much though! Nearly 98% of dog births go off without a hitch! However, brachycephalic breeds – dogs with broad skulls and flat faces like pugs or bull dogs, have a higher chance of problems delivering. In fact, breeders often schedule these types of dogs for c-sections rather than have them attempt labor. If you have a brachycephalic breed make sure to closely monitor her pregnancy and make a birth plan with your veterinarian.

Labor In Dogs

Often the first sign of labor in dogs will be a drop in temperature below 99° F (37° Celsius). A dogs normal temperature should be 101 to 102.5° F (38.3 to 39.2° C). This drop will generally happen within 24 hours of giving birth. A dams temperature should be taken with a rectal thermometer beginning 14 days before pups are expected. Although not all dogs will have this sign of labor its still a good idea to monitor the mothers temperature. Another sign that not all dogs will have is the filling of their mammary glands. Some dogs will produce milk before labor, in others the labor hormones are what start the milk production. I’ve had it go both ways with the same dog for different litters. Just goes to show that every labor is different!

Stage One

This is the beginning of obvious physical signs of labor. This stage may last as long as 24 hours before the first pup is produced. The dam may pace restlessly and sleep little as she can not get comfortable. Dogs in this stage will often have no appetite, and may even vomit. She may moan and pant as uterine contractions begin. Dams will have some vaginal discharge while in this stage from the softening of the cervix, and will be licking at their vulva.

Many dogs begin nesting at this stage as well by fluffing blankets in the whelping box, or they might want to be close to their person. With Laska, she wants to be as close to me as possible. For both litters she has tried to sit on my lap for the first few pups before moving to the whelping area to continue her labor. Having their person nearby may be calming for nervous dogs, so try to be available if possible.

Stage Two

The second stage of labor in dogs will show with stronger contractions. At this point, dogs may squat or lie down while pushing. This will usually last about half an hour between pups, though gaps as long as three hours have been noted. If a dam is having forceful contractions and pushing longer than 30 minutes without a pup arriving, contact a veterinarian for guidance, as they will most likely suggest bringing the dog in immediately. Be prepared to bring any pups that have already been born with you!

During this stage there may be a straw colored liquid produce directly before a puppy is born. This is fluid from the amniotic sac, as it usually ruptures during birth. Once the pup has arrived the mother will lick it to clean birthing fluids, and stimulate breathing and blood flow. The dam will chew off the umbilical cord during this time as well. It may look like she is being too rough, but puppies are very resilient. If however, she hasn’t started this process within a minute of the pup being born, you may need to step in and rub the pup with a dry towel. Make sure to clear fluid from the pups mouth and nose if you step in, and place the dry puppy against the mothers stomach.

Stage Three

This stage happens during labor in dogs, between pups, as well as at the end. It is the contractions that expel placenta, blood and other fluids from the mothers uterus. The mother will generally lick up and eat any remnants of the birth. It may look gross, but they will provide her with nutrients, and in the wild this would help keep predators from sniffing out the den. There is no reason to keep the dam from eating the after birth.

At this point the dog may want some water or food, or to go out for a bathroom break. She should be kept on a leash when going outside to prevent any pups being born outside accidentally. Sometimes it will seem that a dog has finished giving birth when they are only taking a break! With Laska’s litter, I thought she was done at six pups, but woke to find two more in the morning! This happens rather often when dogs (and other animals that have litters) take a lengthy break between births.

When it seems that things have settled and no more pups need to be born, make sure that all the puppies have a chance to nurse. The first milk produced by the dam is colostrum. This milk contains antibodies and nutrients to help the puppies immune systems.

What is normal after labor in dogs?

Labor will affect dogs in various ways. The dam may be moody or eat less for a few days. Refusing food for up to 24 hours is common. She may also have a normal vaginal discharge that will happen after the birth for roughly 4-8 weeks and should be a dark red or brownish green. Mild diarrhea and panting are both considered normal in dogs after giving birth.

Things To Watch For

In the following days and weeks there are several things to keep an eye out for, both in dam and puppies. A dog with any of these problems should promptly see a veterinarian for care.

Hours

An important thing to watch for in the hours after labor is a vaginal discharge that looks like pus and has a strong odor. This can be a sign of infection or retained placentas. If the discharge is bright red, that is another sign there may be an issue and the dam needs veterinary care. Or if she continues straining after all the expected puppies have arrived. If the mother is restless, nervous, stiff, shaking or has seizures she may be suffering from milk fever, or calcium deficiency. Pups should be removed from the mother and fed a milk replacer until a vet okays them nursing from the mother again.

Days

If the vaginal discharge changes color to bright red, or looks like pus or has a strong odor the mother will need to be seen by a vet quickly. She will also need to be seen if her teats are red, black, seem painful or are leaking brown or bloody discharge. These can all be signs of an infection of the milk glands. Disinterest in the pups, depression or weight loss mean the dam should be checked out as well. Extreme cases of diarrhea could be indicative of infection that requires treatment.

Weeks

While it is not uncommon to loose a puppy out of a litter, more than one in the weeks following birth is cause for concern. So to are puppies appearing distressed, reluctant to nurse, or not gaining weight. Check the dams teats for signs of infection if she is uninterested in feeding the pups, or seems to be in pain.

Is A Vet Visit Required After Whelping?

It’s entirely up to you if you take your dog to a vet after whelping. However, a wellness check for dam and pups can help determine that everyone is healthy, or if there are concerns that need addressed. The vet will check for things like retained placentas, unborn pups and unusually large amounts of blood or fluid. A shot of oxytocin may be recommended for the mother. This will cause uterine contractions to help expel any material left inside the dam. It will also help with milk production. The puppies will be sexed at this appointment, and information about care will be given. Also given will be a suggested de-wormer and vaccination schedule.

And just because everybody loves puppies:

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. This information is an amalgamation of personal experience and veterinarian advice given to me. If you have any concerns about the behavior of your dog or her pups, please seek professional care for them!

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Reevaluating Homestead Wants And Needs

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Sled Dog Slow Reevaluating Homestead Wants And Needs

Sometimes in order to be happy we need to take a step back and look at the big picture. Sometimes that leads us to reevaluating. For anyone who read our goals for 2018, its obvious we did that! Our process was a little jumbled due to our busy lives. But I just want to point out that just because we need to postpone things does not mean we are failing at homesteading, even if it feels that way!

We’ve decided to cut back on many of the things that most homesteads have.

We jumped in to some things waaaay too fast. Like animals. We’ve had chickens, goats and pigs out here. We ended up free ranging all of our animals because we didn’t have fencing, and with no neighbors there was no one to bother. Turns out without fences they could bother us! The pigs liked to dig holes, and chickens and goats always managed to break into the garden.

So. No animals until we have fenced pasture ready!

A homestead without animals? That’s our plan, for now anyway. Not having animals for meat, milk and eggs feels like we aren’t really homesteading any more. Especially with all the problems I’ve had gardening here. But in reevaluating our wants vs our needs, we realized there were other things we should concentrate on more. We want to have a perfect little homestead filled with cute fuzzy, useful critters. But what we need is fenced pasture to graze our animals on. Not to mention we need better shelters for the animals. What we’ve done for shelters has worked so far, but we could do better with some planning.

What else did we realize we needed rather than wanted?

The biggest thing was a larger living space! While most of our coming summer will be occupied with fishing, we realized we’ve lived long enough in our tiny cabin. With our growing toddler we just need more room to spread out. We’ll be milling lumber for the cabin, and clearing land to build on. We have some ideas on how to build that should speed our building process along a little. But spending so much time building means putting off some other homestead wants.

I want to have the biggest, best garden ever.

I dislike relying so much on grocery shopping in town. But we’ve managed this far and we can continue for another year. I’ll just plant the staples like potatoes for now, even though we’ll be clearing a big space. It makes sense to clear the land at least since we’ll have equipment out for it anyway. Plus if this coming summer is anything like last summer my garden would be a bust anyway. I’m still not used to planning a cold weather garden.

I want to have a fully functioning homestead today.

But part of having a great homestead tomorrow is planning today. Scaling back from a huge garden and animals gives us time to think before we leap. And I’ll admit that we haven’t done enough of that on our adventure out here thus far. Taking a look at what we need and what we want has shown that we need to scale back in a big way. It does feel like we are failing at being homesteaders right now, but we just have to remember that this is a temporary step back. Once we get a bigger cabin built and some fencing up we can leap back into our bigger homestead goals!

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How To Have A Great Marriage Living In A Tiny Home

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How To Have A Great Marriage Living In A Tiny Home

I think my husband and I have a pretty great marriage. Sure, we disagree at times, like everyone does. But we never spend days angry at each other. A lot of this is applicable to any relationship, no matter where you live. But living in a tiny home will put an extra strain on any one living there. We have two adults and a toddler living in 250 sq ft, so trust me, I know!

I have yet to see the way space constraints can affect a marriage talked about. So I thought I’d put this out there for anyone who wants to take up this kind of life. Living in a tiny home can be hard on you and your partner, and it takes some getting used too! Luckily I’ve done 2 solid years of research on this living out here with my husband, and I’m happy to share what I know 🙂

So what tips can I share for having a great marriage in a tiny home?

Say you love each other.

Mean it and say it. Often. Kyle and I probably say “I love you” a dozen times a day, at least. Both to each other and our daughter. It should be just as easy to express love as it is to vent frustrations, so affirming our love every day helps keep our relationship strong.

Touching is important.

Not much for cuddling at night? That’s okay! Hold hands while you watch TV, sit next to each other while playing video games, or snuggle up and read together. It should be easy to find ways to touch living in a tiny home. Heck, sometimes I can’t walk through the house without bumping into Kyle! Even if you just stop for a hug now and again, physical affirmation of your feelings is important!

Do chores together.

This is probably where Kyle and I struggle the most. He has handled so much of the hard physical labor out here thus far, while I handled our newborn daughter. Now she is old enough to get geared up and explore outside while we work. It helps that we both kind of gravitate to doing chores if the other has started something. So I’ll cook and he’ll wash dishes, or he’ll start picking up the floor and I’ll sweep.  Doing chores together, even if we aren’t working on the same thing, helps it to feel like things are being done fairly.

Don’t keep score.

Not of chores, or fights or anything. Being married means you’re a team, you share the same score!

Allow yourself, and your partner, to be mad sometimes.

I know everyone’s advice to newlyweds is to never go to bed mad, but I think people need to on occasion. Not every issue needs to be solved right now. Sometimes I just want to say that I’m mad, and then be left alone for a bit. Kyle is definitely a talk it out right now person, whereas I need some time and space to put my thoughts together. Now I’m not saying go to bed mad every night! Just that people are complicated and sometimes we piss off our partners. It’s okay not to rush into fix it mode immediately. A little space to figure out why you/they are upset can be a good thing.

Communicate.

What ever you are feeling, let your partner know. If you’re mad the dishes didn’t get done, say something. (Trust me, this is a huge deal when dishes from one meal clog up the entire counter!) Frustrated because your partner has hogged the remote all day? Tell ’em! Going stir crazy because you need more space to spread out? Talk about it! Seriously! Communication is a big deal in relationships. Just because you’re married doesn’t make you mind readers. Talk about everything.

Don’t use the words always or never.

These words are most likely to come up in an argument. They will almost always be an exaggeration. If you’d like your partner to do something more, don’t say “you never do this!” The only thing a statement like that does is make people defensive. It’s much easier to hear “I’d appreciate it if you’d do this more.” Always and never will only get hackles up and create a worse argument.

Once you’re done with an argument, be done with it.

I know it’s tempting to bring up the past in a fight, but once you’ve settled something let it go. That’s not to say the subject is suddenly forbidden, just make a point not to rehash things over again unnecessarily.

Have sex.

Yup! I said it. More physical affirmation of your love for each other. Regular sex is important in most relationships. There is science behind skin to skin contact and your brain releasing happy love hormones. Plus, feeling good together just makes for a happier couple. And having good sex makes you want to have more sex. Its a vicious cycle of looooove. So wait for the baby to nap, or send the kid(s) outside for a bit. Make time to make love!

People are complicated, therefore our marriages are too.

Really, not doing one of these won’t break your marriage, just like doing one won’t make it. And maybe some of these tips aren’t for you and your marriage at all. I do think they are a good place to start for having a great marriage though, in any sized home!

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