Q&A With Danny + Mara

Dear friends (can we be friends?),

It feels as though we’ve gotten to know so many of you, and we just love that.
Today, there isn’t a post.  But I thought I’d just open the floor for you to ask us some questions.
Is there anything you’d love to know?  Ask us anything at all and we’ll do our best to answer in the comments section.
I thought it would be fun to have a two-way dialogue.  🙂
See you in the comments!
Mara & Danny

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  1. Kelly Whittle July 22, 2013 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Hey you two lovely people!

    I am an avid reader and have devoured most (ok, let's say all) of your archives since finding you online last year.

    I have recently started dating an amazing man who has been divorced since 2011. This is his first serious relationship since the big D, and my first experience with someone who is trying to heal from this.

    I read 'On Being the Second Spouse' but like you, I don't have an issue with being in the same house as the 'ex' had been.

    I would like your advice on how to try and help my man heal without trying to 'change' him as such. He is always apologising for things he thinks he's doing wrong, which breaks my heart to see. He is a strong and intelligent man who has had the guilt laden on him over the last few years for being a bad husband in nearly every way. I don't want to create an issue around it and I'm trying to focus on being loving and kind and in time I am hoping he learns that things are different in this partnership.

    It's also a fine balance between wanting to ask about what went wrong or what he has learnt, and being too nosey.

    If you have the time to address those parts of being the second spouse at any stage, I would love to hear from you xx

    • Jenny D. July 22, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Kelly, I just typed up a very long response to you because i can relate so well to your situation and wanted to share what worked for me/us, but then when i went to publish it it disappeared. Ugh. I will do my best to recreate it.

      Unlike your situation, I was the one healing from a divorce and my now husband had never been married. When we began our relationship he knew I still had quite a bit of healing to do and he was okay with that, he loved me for who I was right then and he loved the potential he saw in me (even if I couldn't see it). He never expected me to be in a certain place or be done healing by a certain time, I never felt pressure from him in that regard. He knew I was making efforts to heal so he let me progress at my own pace and in whatever way worked for me (he didn't try to tell me how or what to do in regards to my healing process). Logically I knew he was different than my ex, but it took awhile for my heart to be convinced. Even after we were married there were a few instances where something would happen and I would immediately start cowering inside because I expected my husband to react the same way my ex would…..but he didn't! I would let out a huge sigh of relief and tell me heart that it's safe. We have been married 5 years now and I'm in a place now that was beyond my wildest dreams after my divorce — not just happily married, but personally happy!

      My advice to you is to keep doing what you're doing. Knowing specifics about his ex, how she treated him or reacted in certain situations, won't help so much because you would consciously be trying to be different than her, but you are already different than her! You can show him that you're loyal by being loyal, by not running away when things get a little tough, but by working together with him. Like your man, I apologized a lot. You can show him through your example that you aren't perfect either, by showing him that you also have to apologize for things and that you are making efforts to overcome your weaknesses as well. We are too hard on ourselves and take ourselves far too seriously. It may sound silly but I had to learn to laugh at myself again! Once he sees that it's okay to essentially be human (because we all make mistakes), he will be making progress toward forgiving himself. Don't have any expectations in regards to his healing, feeling that pressure from you will only make things worse, especially if he is putting that pressure on himself already. Sometimes I felt like my healing was moving at a snails pace, or not moving at all, and I would feel frustrated. One of the sweetest gifts my husband ever gave me was a simple necklace with a flower charm, nothing fancy, but the note he wrote to go along with it expressed his love for me and acknowledged that the growth he had seen in me was inspiring him to be a better man himself (growth=flower, he made that connection in his note). He had no idea I was feeling stuck at the time, feeling like I wasn't making any progress, but by his simple acknowledgement of my growth encouraged me to just keep at it. You can tell him a million times that you love him and that you aren't going anywhere, but your daily actions, just being your loving, loyal, grateful, happy (etc.) self will make the biggest impact in showing his heart that it is safe.

      I felt like my first response was a worded better and I'm probably missing some of my earlier thoughts. Oh well. I wish you the very best!

    • danny July 23, 2013 at 4:10 am - Reply

      I really appreciate the comments above as I think they could be very relevant to your particular situation (thanks Jenny D for sharing).

      I think one thing that comes to mind is you need to realize from the very beginning of this, that although it is possible for you to make the healing that he needs to do easier or more difficult based on how you approach the situation, the actual work of healing can ONLY be done by HIM.

      No amount of perfect behavior on your part can replace the personal drive he's going to need to reach a healthy space in his life where he can truly open up to the idea of a healthy relationship.

      I'm not trying to dissuade you from dating this man. Only trying to make sure that you don't become the caretaker for his well-being. He needs to understand that his well being is in his hands, not yours. And you need to understand that too.

      If you do, then whatever else you are inspired to do in the spirit of the things Jenny D shared about will indeed be good and powerful things. If you don't, it is also possible to spend a lot of time trying to nurture someone who just plain isn't ready yet. That wouldn't make him a bad person in any way, shape or form. But he needs to be ready if you're going to have a healthy relationship.

      Mara and I had both done a lot of that hard work before we met each other. That was very important to the health of the relationship in the early stages, and it meant we didn't bond over shared pain…but instead over the miracle of healing and a full life.

      I wish you the best in figuring out the path that is best for you.

    • Jenny D. July 23, 2013 at 6:32 am - Reply

      Thanks for adding this Danny! I think I said something in my original post (that got erased) about how my healing and happiness wasn't dependent on him (I had to find it on my own) and likewise his happiness wasn't dependent on my healing. It was so hard to recapture everything I said after it disappeared! When we love someone sometimes our natural instinct is to want to fix things, but becoming responsible for their happiness certainly leads to problems (one of the many I experienced in my first marriage). I know you've posted about that topic at least once or twice — the post titled 'Aloha!' talks about attachment a bit (still looking forward to that class btw). 'Don't find a soulmate, become a soulmate' is also a really good one that puts the focus on you rather than the other person. Thanks again, I've really enjoyed reading through this Q&A today!

    • Kelly Whittle July 23, 2013 at 11:05 am - Reply

      Oh my goodness, Jenny and Danny, thank you for your thoughtful responses. I really appreciate hearing your story Jenny (and for writing it twice! You are fantastic!).

      I realise completely that he needs to go through this himself – he has already spent a lot of time and so much effort figuring out what went wrong and altering his approach to things. He has drive in spades Danny, it is great to see! I think that's what I can keep in my mind, as it could be so easy to drop into the caretaker role, as you put it.

      Thank you to both of you – I really appreciate your wisdom xx

    • Kaelyn August 23, 2013 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Kelly & Jenny – Not to snoop in on your conversation or anything, but I just started reading thru this blog and noticed your post and couldn't help but relate to both of your situations. Thanks for all the advice- it is sometimes just nice to know you are not the only one that has been thru it and there are others to talk to out there. 🙂 Did either one of you have kids involved in the process? Just curious because I have 3 girls (who were all very young) but I sometimes wonder how it will be for them as they get older and are still traveling between 2 houses, etc. Ok, I'll stop rambling. I know this post was from a while ago so you may not even see this comment and no problem!

  2. Michele July 22, 2013 at 11:12 am - Reply

    I have 2 questions!

    1)How do you add so much life into your life?
    2) Who are some of your personal heros? With a view on life like both of yours I would love to know who you looked up to.

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm - Reply

      Hi Michele-
      1 – Being a part of a faith community that encourages service has hands down been one of the most enriching/rewarding parts of our lives. I really think there's no better way to align your life than dedicating it to service. And it does really add so much life. (I didn't used to really feel that way or know that for about 30 years…so I have seen the difference in my own life if the last few years.) The Mormon community is very, very hands on. There is no paid clergy and so the church members volunteer and do everything. But it's full of wonderful experiences (i.e. just last night I took dinner to a woman who just had an ectopic pregnancy. Two days earlier we made dinner for another family who is sick and has a brand new baby. These are things we do together and it's so great for our marriage, too. Also, yesterday Danny spoke at a congregation (which he does once a month) and then afterwards always meets with people and ends up having the most amazing connections and conversations about important things. And this Saturday we'll go with hundreds over to Gerritsen Beach and dedicate the entire day to doing manual labor and helping to rebuild some of the homes there, due to Sandy. When you serve with people in this way, you develop REAL and lifelong friendships. We are always surrounded here in Brooklyn by people we just love. It's incredible.

      2. Personal Heros –
      *Clayton Christensen. He's a man who has dedicated his life to all of the above – and happens to be one of the world's greatest business consultants as well.
      *Lavern Wilkinson. She lived here in Brooklyn and raised a non verbal, severely autistic daughter in the projects for 15 years as a single mom. She recently passed away from lung cancer, but faced it with as much peace and love and charity as she could muster.
      *Angela Le. She's a spiritual healer in Manhattan – and I met her when I was at my lowest in life. She dedicated her life to helping people and did that for me. She had love for me and taught me as much as she could. I have been a different woman ever since.

    • danny July 23, 2013 at 4:26 am - Reply

      Michelle, I very much agree with what Mara wrote. I was totally going to say the same thing about service. Yesterday was a perfect example of that for me…though I spent nearly the entire day preparing to speak and then speaking and talking one on one with people for hours after, though I missed lunch and dinner, and then came home to Mara making dinner for someone else, though the entire day from morning til evening was spent doing something for others….it was one of the best days I've had in a while. Service is invigorating.

      As for personal heroes – I also agree with Mara. I would add that many of my heroes are people you've never heard of and most likely will never. They are not leaders, they are not well known, they live quiet lives, and yet they have overcome things I can't even imagine facing with unbelievable grace. Oftentimes my heroes are many of the readers who write in to tell us their story, to share how they have grown, to relate their own path toward healing and joy despite a mountain of obstacles. I even have a new hero from those I met yesterday after speaking. A fabulous woman doing amazing work and living a life of joy and hope and meaning despite some unfulfilled dreams. She radiates happiness…I can't help but look up to people like that.

  3. Anne July 22, 2013 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Hi Mara and Danny! Love the blog!

    This is a frivolous question, just to warn you. 😉 Mara, I have hair that is very similar to yours in texture, and I love seeing you wear it curly on the blog. So many women straighten their curls, so it's great seeing someone embrace their natural texture. I know that you wrote a post about how you do your hair a while back, but do you have any new products that you've tried that you would like to recommend? As a certified product junkie, I'm always looking for new things to try.

    Thanks so much!

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm - Reply

      YAY for all natural texture!! I'm all for it. I used to always straighten my hair in the nineties – but finally embraced my natural waves. I shudder at all the time I used to spend to straighten it.

      I'm actually still wanting to test out some more products. My absolute favorite one on earth is Aveda Be Curly curl creme and I've used that for over a decade. But it's not exactly chemical free and it also contains gluten, which I'm trying to avoid. Here's a few though that I'm using now, which are pretty good but offer less hold than the aveda (but I also have very thick hair): Beautiful Curls (all their wavy curl products), Original Sprout Curl products and shampoo/conditioner. I read that some are putting straight up aloe vera gel on their curls and have had great success. I'm curious and want to try it.

    • Carrie July 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm - Reply

      I know I'm late to this post, but I'd love it if you did a video tutorial showing us exactly how you do your hair. I'm not very adept in doing my wavy hair and have a lot of trouble getting creams to work well.

      Also, do you have any tips on teaching Young Women? I'm not a great teacher, but would love to try to incorporate your ideas in my lessons.


  4. Jill July 22, 2013 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Do you have any suggestions for favorite "clean"/green cleaning products? Also, any new book suggestions–I loved Man's Search for Meaning and some of the other spiritual books you have recommended in the past!

    Thanks! 🙂

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      1. Cleaning products -Yes! I want to do some posts about this. I'm LOVING using white vinegar to clean my entire kitchen and much of the bathroom (1/4 cup vinegar to 3-4 cups water). I'm also using it to spray down the shower curtain and shower to prevent mold during this humid summer. Instead of soft scrub, I'm using a homemade verson: 1 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup Dr. Bronner's castille liquid soap, 2 Tbl white vinegar. I love it. Also, I just started using these amazing cleaning towels that have silver woven into them and so they are antibacterial – they don't smell or harbor bacteria like most sponges. And I'm experimenting now with dishwasher soap, stain remover, and laundry detergent. But I'll report soon!

      2. Books – if you're looking for spiritual books – Danny LOVES The Fifth Way. I haven't read it yet (it's huge) but for anyone on a spiritual path, this would be high on the list. Also, maybe you already saw this one recommended, but read "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth" by Eckart Tolle. Danny will chime in with others.

    • danny July 22, 2013 at 11:40 pm - Reply

      I just realized "The Fifth Way" by David Brisbin is not currently in print…he's revising a few things to make it more digestable. If you are Christian, I highly recommend the book (he's non-denominational).

      Other than that, one book I recently read that knocked my socks off because I thought the story was so powerful and compelling was "And There Was Light" by Jacques Lusseryan. That think is solid gold and will be re read a few times. It immediately jumped to one of my top 5 books. His insights on a lived spirituality are simply remarkable.

      Also, at the request of a friend who's insights I deeply admire, I keep saying to myself I need to pick up some books from her favorite author on Buddhist practice: Thich Nhat Hanh. If you beat me to it, let me know what you think.

    • Delona M. July 23, 2013 at 12:16 am - Reply

      I second that! "And There Was Light" may now be my favorite book.

    • danny July 23, 2013 at 2:08 am - Reply

      Delona, I'm very curious how you came across the book…I've hardly even heard of another person that has read it. I only found it because it was quoted a few times in a book that is one of my other favorites.

  5. Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Mara, you've mentioned how great Danny's family is before but I feel like you talk very little about yours. Did your parents have a good marriage?

    Also…. Are you doing the coconut oil routine on your face or all the other natural products you recommended?

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      1. I have a wonderful family! 4 sisters and 1 brother, their spouses, 5 nephews and 5 nieces. My parents just celebrated their 45 year anniversary two days ago! They just sent us an email:

      "We celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary yesterday. We can't believe that much time has gone by. We want you to know that we are so happy to be together at this time and we love each other very much. We are so thankful to be married for eternity and that we will be together always.

      We still have the letters we wrote to one another when we first met and were married and while Dad went to Vietnam. We have been transcribing these letters into a volume and will give you a copy to read when they are finished. It has been very touching to us to re-read what our thoughts, ideas, testimonies and love was at that time in our lives. Back in the day we were both just young babes in the woods, but we have been highly blessed to have prevailed in terms of both maintaining the highest priorities and true love for each other. What is amazing is that we feel the same way today as we did then!"

      Isn't that so sweet? I was so happy to read this. They have been through a lot – mainly finances have been a strain most of their marriage. But they've carried forward and I think got to a better place with all that, even though the finances didn't change. Growing up, I always knew they loved each other very much. And I'm so happy that they still do.

      2. Yes, still doing the coconut oil as a wash every single morning and night. I never miss it – I just love it so much. I do rinse it with warm water so it's not so oily. After, I still do apple cider vinegar as toner, a serum (alternating btwn several good ones that I have tested like the one in the gift bag from Antho and Badger as well as some other favorites: Tata Harper, John Masters, May Lindstrom, Mychelle. I love all of those. Tata is out of this world but very expensive and I'll probably never enjoy another bottle. And I'm loving that Egyptian Magic Cream at night. By day the radical wrinkle complex by Acure or an intense cream by Mineral Fusion.

  6. Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Mara having a gluten and dairy intolerance how do you navigate eating out at other people's house? I always feel bad not eating food people has prepared that has gluten or dairy in it.

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      I've been wanting to write about this as others have asked. It's almost a sure thing that every dish would have some gluten or dairy in it. It's not like I could count on there being something there that I could eat as that almost always would not be the case. Luckily most of my friends and family know that I don't eat these things and they are so sweet to make sure there's something I can ea (meat, fish, salad, vegetables, mexican, quionoa/rice dishes, etc. are always great options)t. So I actually don't encounter this too often. But i.e. on Thanksgiving..at a potluck dinner with a few cooks…I just ask a few of them to hold out a little bowl of vegetables or potatoes or whatever while they're cooking before they add any dairy or gluten…so that i can have the food plain without the creamy sauces and butter and bread crumbs. If it was a dinner party and we were the only guests invited – I would mention my restrictions and say that I'd be happy to bring some potluck foods to share…(ones that I can eat) – this way they know the restrictions and can accommodate if they'd like. But if they had something else planned (which is totally fine), I still have something to eat. I also usually have in my bag some Steve's Paleo Packs (nuts, jerky, dried fruit packs) so that I have something handy if needed.

      I think in most cases, cooks would prefer to know any restrictions. Let's say Danny and I prepared a beautiful meal with filet mignon and really wanted it to be nice for our friend – and the friend came and said she was vegetarian. We would have felt so bad and would have wished we had known. Also, I think it's fun as a cook to have a reason to try something new. We love having our vegetarian friends over as it gives us a chance to try and wow them with some vegetable dishes.

  7. Amanda July 22, 2013 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    When are you going to get instagram? 🙂

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      haha! Oh man, my friends give me such a hard time about this. 🙂 The truth is, I'm naturally not drawn to social media. My main goal is to just share our message…and I guess I'm not so creative at doing that with photos. Maybe one day I will feel inspired to do it as photos can really share a lot. Also, this blog is such a huge time commitment for us…and I'm pretty tapped out. But I'll keep you posted. 🙂 I know it's probably a fun way to stay in touch with everyone.

  8. Sally July 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Wondering if you have any ideas on how to find a spiritual mentor?

    You seem to have such a great, supportive network of people around you. We are moving to a new city next month and I'm wondering if you have any advice on how to build friendships in a new place?

    • danny July 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      For us, having a faith community that we are a part of is very important. If Mara and I moved, we'd be going to the congregation in that area the very first Sunday we arrived. I've lived in quite a few places now, and every time I move the church community has been first to welcome me.

      As for finding spiritual mentors…sometimes I find those within my immediate church community, and sometimes I don't. Sometimes my mentor happens to be a leader in that community, and sometimes they are just a friend and neighbor, someone who has walked a path I know I want to learn from, and has a perspective I know I could benefit from adopting.

      To summarize – I most often find wonderful mentors within my faith community. They aren't always leaders, sometimes they are hidden little gems that can be a little quiet, but have great wisdom.

      Also – I love to read, and if I can't find mentors in my direct area, I'm always finding them indirectly by studying someone's words.

      Final suggestion, if you really want a mentor, start praying to find one, and to have open eyes to see them if they cross your path.

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      Sally – I love Danny's ideas. And here's another…seek out groups that are doing spiritual things. i.e. a yoga practice with spiritual oriented instructors or a meditation group. We went to yoga recently and it was really a beautiful/spiritual experience (our instructor was particularly insightful and open about teaching spiritual things to the class). We really want to go again. Also, Danny once went to a meditation group at a nearby church in the neighborhood. I'd love to do more of that kind of thing with the community. It could be a great way to connect with mentors or other people on a spiritual path.

  9. Sally July 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    One more…I totally trust your food recommendations- we are obsessed with Fonda since you mentioned it (our 1-year-old loves it too!)!

    We are going out on Friday night for our anniversary. Restaurant recommendation for a place either in Brooklyn or Manhattan that either takes reservations or doesn't usually have a long wait but is great?

    • danny July 22, 2013 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      When Mara and I want to celebrate and treat ourselves, we often love going to either Applewood or Rosewater. Both are in Brooklyn in the Park Slope area. I think both take reservations.

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Applewood is maybe a tad more of a favorite for me. Though Rosewater is SO lovely, too. Talde in Park Slope is also very, very good for Asian fusion.

  10. Heather July 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara,
    I love your blog, and think you guys are doing a great job! Perhaps this question is too personal, but I'm wondering if in your first marriage if YOU would have ever been the one to decide it wasn't right for you since it doesn't seem like it was very happy for you.

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      I actually didn't consider ending it – but I am sure that day would have come. During most of the difficult years, I had a lot of hope that things would improve. And they did, actually! The last year of our marriage was the best one ever. But there was a surprise relapse and it ended very soon after that. I did get to the point where I didn't want him to come back. I was stronger as a person then (and finally had some self worth)…and I was finally strong enough to say that some of that treatment/behavior was not ok with me anymore. But by then it didn't matter as he was already gone.

  11. Alison Rae July 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    I have a major guilt issue. I feel guilty about everything! I think this makes me feel poorly about myself and then I treat others poorly (by others I mean my husband)which leads me to feel even more guilty! A lot of things I do are because I know I will feel guilty if I don't do them. Mara, In reading the blog from the beginning, I feel like I am similar to how you were in your first marriage. I am always worried and fearful and feel guilty all the time! How can I break this vicious cycle? I know how to do this in theory but I haven't been able to do it in practice. Any advice?

    • danny July 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      Hi Alison!

      Well, you probably already know that you are not alone. This is a very common feeling, and addressing it is beyond a comment, and depending on how deep it goes, beyond what you can get through reading a blog. Unfortunately for many, blog reading contributes to guilt because it leads to more reasons to compare and set up expectations and behaviors that aren't yet ready to be met.

      If I were to offer any suggestions based on the limited amount that you've written, I'd focus on the following:
      – Start with awareness – It seems as though you've identified the kinds of thoughts that cause the problem, but you haven't yet learned to separate the thoughts you think from the person you are. Read that last sentence a few times. Mara and I try to spend a lot of time focusing on Identity….and what can be unfortunate for many is that they identify with thoughts that are largely unproductive, unconscious, and flat out lies. If you haven't read Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now", or "A New Earth", I'd suggest you do. It may help you to become more aware of where thoughts like that come from, and how to deal with them.
      – Start small. Sometimes we see a glaring problem in our life and we set out to conquer that one, when we may not have the strength or wisdom yet to do so. I silly but useful image would be like deciding the best way to combat our inactivity and weight problem is to compete in an iron man competition that takes place tomorrow. We need to build up small and basic skills, we need to build endurance, we need to develop discipline…and that can take time. But it always starts with small stuff. What can I work on and succeed at tomorrow? I may not be able to tackle the entire thing, but what small part do I want to tackle.
      – Related to the above, is try to view all things as practice. When you decide to try to tackle something tomorrow, it's still okay if you fail. Tomorrow is practice, not the final test. Trying to better ourselves doesn't need to be about creating and win/lose, succeed/fail paradigm. The next challenge that comes your way is about practicing being better…and if you failed in that one, there's always tomorrow (or 2 minutes from now) when another opportunity will present itself.

      I hope those things give you some basics on where and how to start.

      If it helps…know that we believe in you, and I really mean that.

    • Alison Rae July 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm - Reply

      Thank you SO much for your response Danny. This is very helpful. I have finally recognized that I have this issue which is a great first step. I love the analogy you used about the iron man. That is so true. Those books sound like great suggestions. I appreciate what you said about blog reading and guilt. I recognized this in myself a few years ago and significantly reduced my blog reading to only a select few that inspire me and make me want to be better (yours included). Thank you so much for your inspiring words and for your time answering my question. Thank you for all you are doing to help others!

  12. Katy @ All Sorts of Pretty July 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    This one might be controversial, but I so don't want it to be – I'm just genuinely curious! Have you or Danny ever spoken to your former spouses since you've remarried? Do they know about this blog and are they happy for you guys? I always wonder what happens when people get divorced, like, do you just disappear from each other's lives forever or can you get to a place where you have mutual respect and well wishes for one another? Just curious!


    • danny July 22, 2013 at 11:34 pm - Reply

      Since we don't have children with our former spouses, it's probably not unlike a lot of people when they break up. Once the relationship is over and you both begin to move on with your life…well, you move on.

      I'm guessing in the age of social media, it would be hard not to know about a blog written by your ex. We still share common friends.

      Do you disappear from each others lives? Largely yes, but that doesn't automatically include ill will or hard feelings. Pretty much every one I ever dated has disappeared from my life. Marriage is obviously not the same as dating, but it shouldn't be a surprise that when your life becomes paired with someone else through marriage, what your life was like before begins to feel distant and faded mainly because it's hard to see your life as anything but what it is now.

      That doesn't mean you harbor ill feelings towards anyone in your past. I do wish both of our exes well. In my case, I think my ex is a wonderful and kind human being, and I would be thrilled to know that she found someone she loves and is ready to spend the rest of her life with. I hope she feels the same about me.

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 11:37 pm - Reply

      The last time I spoke with my former spouse was right before my wedding with Danny (he had heard about my wedding). We hadn't spoken in a very, very long time, so it was really something to have a conversation. To me, it kinda felt like a conversation I would have with an old friend. The conversation went well and he was really happy for me. I wished him well, too, with his life at the time. We haven't spoken since. Though if I ran into him on the street all would be well.

      Also, I do think it's possible to have respect and well wishes for another after a divorce. I think this is key: it actually doesn't have to be contingent on approval of the other person's behavior or even reciprocated respect. This can be tricky. But getting there is also tremendously freeing and healing.

  13. hash July 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Hii Mara & Danny,

    I loveeeeeee your blog and its something i never miss every single day. A few of your articles are very true in my case of marriage. Its very hard to accept a few things in life and the trials almost make you question your self worth. I am trying very hard to align myself with god but i don't know how to keep it going. Sometimes i even question if this marriage is right for me. Could you guide me as to how to keep my self worth as i am in your shoes when nothing was going right.Thank you guys for keeping up the great blog! Please keep it going 🙂

    • danny July 23, 2013 at 12:08 am - Reply

      Oh man, so hard to write a comment and not a blog post. There is a lot that I could say, but I don't have time. If Identity/Self-Worth is what you are in need of, I can't imagine I'd be able to say now, any better than we've said before in other posts, what you need to hear.

      http://www.ablogaboutlove.com/search/label/Self-Worth – That's a link to posts about self-worth. Start with the earliest ones.

      Perhaps the most important thing I can say, that is not easy to apply, but must be remembered…is when it really gets down to it, your worth is not tied in what someone else thinks of you, nor how someone treats you. What they think and how they treat you can make it easy or difficult to find your self worth…but your worth can and should be separate from that.

      That is where the relationship with God comes in. If you can discover who you are in God's eyes, then your worth will be established on true and unchanging principles. It won't matter what job you have, how much money you make, whether you are young and beautiful or old and wrinkly, what someone thinks of you or does to you, how your children behave.

      When your identity becomes connected at its most basic and fundamental level with the divine, then that is like building upon a rock…and when rains descend and floods rise and winds beat upon you, you cannot fail because of the rock you are built upon. When you build your worth upon what others think of your, or on the circumstances of life…that's like building on sand. And when the rains come and the floods rise and the winds beat upon your house, great will be the fall because you were built on a foundation which had no strength to begin with.

      I wish I could give you a simple 1, 2, 3 step thing. But the spiritual path often must be discovered individually, prayerfully/meditatively, for each person. The results often appear the same, but the way people learned them are as varied as there are people.

      I could say much, much, much more. But it might not be relevant going on the little bit you shared. And much of what I would say is what we've already said someone on the blog. Again, go to the self-worth posts, and maybe look through the ones on trials and spiritual enlightenment.

      I hope this has helped, and I wish you well in your journey. Don't give up, don't lose faith, do your very best to understand what Love actually is, and then try to live it.

    • Alysa Stewart July 23, 2013 at 2:08 am - Reply

      Hi hash,
      Something you said was really interesting to me: "I am trying very hard to align myself with god but i don't know how to keep it going." I try to do the same and was just reading this great speech about this. You can find the text and video here. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/lord-i-believe?lang=eng good luck on your spiritual journey!

    • hash July 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Danny & Mara — Thank you soo much for your reply 🙂 I look forward to meeting you both one day and would love to have a small chat with you. @ Mara — i have taken your coconut ritual seriously and have been doing it for myself and my little daughter everyday 😀

      Alysa — Thank you for sharing this great Article.

  14. Ginna July 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara and Danny,

    Love the blog! My question is easy… will you post Danny's recipe for rice and beans? I am dying to try it! 🙂

    • danny July 22, 2013 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Hahaha…yes I'll post that recipe! But, you can also just buy the book we keep mentioning "Truly Mexican", and then you can get my recipe for rice, beans, a whole bunch of salsas, tacos, fish, etc.

      Seriously, that is my most used cookbook to date.

    • Ginna July 31, 2013 at 11:41 pm - Reply

      So I checked the book out from the library and tonight I made the easiest recipes for rice and beans – I think it was the fast black beans and the Mexican white rice. Topped it with a little lime juice and didn't expect much. BLEW ME AWAY! So so good, I couldn't believe it. I am pretty sure those will now be in regular rotation. Thank you for the recommendation!

  15. Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara & Danny!
    I love your blog so much. You two seem like such beautiful & amazing people. I wish you well in everything you do.
    I dated a guy 7 yrs ago that gave me an std. Since then I've had a problem trusting others. I never slept around and always used protection yet someone I trusted failed to tell me he had something. I've been afraid to date because I'm worried that someone will judge me based strictly on that and not anything else I've accomplished in life. I come from a great family and have a great job and last year I finally bought my own place. I can't help but feel angry that I may never meet someone because of this. I tell my friends that I'm not interested in dating when in fact I'm just plain scared of it. I feel guilty if a friend wants to set me up with someone. I can't help but wonder if they knew about that part of me, would they still want me to meet this other person. I want to find love so bad but I can't seem to shake the fear of getting to the point where I have to tell someone about that part of me. I have no idea when the right time would be to tell someone that. I feel sad knowing that I may end up alone & I'm the main cause of it. Any type of advice would be much appreciated.
    Much love,
    A loyal reader

    • Amanda July 22, 2013 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      I really identify with your statement"I want to find love so bad but I can't seem to shake the fear….-I feel sad knowing that I may end up alone & I'm the main cause of it."
      My circumstances are different than yours, but I think I must deal with the same fear and hesitation of being vulnerable again. I long for the ability to let go of that fear, to let others (especially men) in, and allow myself to be fully loved by a companion.

    • mara July 23, 2013 at 12:42 am - Reply

      Hello dear readers –
      My heart goes out. But know that every single person bears a potentially shameful mark of some kind from our experiences. One thing you can do is let these undesirable trials inspire you to become a better person. Let them be the catalyst for doing greater personal work. Let them be the reason you learn how to truly surrender to something that won't change (there is nothing more powerful than that!). Let more compassion for others dwell within you…because you know what it's like to face something difficult and can relate. Let these trials become something you can say you are grateful for…because of the positive changes that they brought in you…and because of the "teachers" that they were for you. In the end, these marks can be ones of accomplishment and greater character instead of shame.

    • Anonymous July 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      This blog is about a women with HIV who discusses dating with an STD. It might help to read about someone who is currently going through something similar 🙂

  16. Stacy K July 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    Okay, Mara, this one's for you: I love your purse and have looked all over the place for one like it. Can you tell me where you got it, please?
    I love your blog & was delighted that you liked one of your posts I pinned on Pinterest the other day!
    Stacy in Texas

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 11:51 pm - Reply

      My bag was a gift from my former boss. He and his wife gave it to me while we were all in St. Barths. It was purchased there at a small boutique. I've been carrying this bag for about 7 years! I had to get the stitching redone once as it wore thin and I may have to do that again soon. But the leather will last forever.

  17. Michelle July 22, 2013 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Mara, I love your organic beauty product suggestions. What do you do for hairspray? I feel like I breathe it in (since I'm spraying it in the air) and I'd love to find something better.

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 11:58 pm - Reply

      Intelligent Nutrients has a good hairspray. I guess the owner even drank it once for a TV thing as the ingredients are that pure. I have been using it and it's doing just fine. Though I haven't found one that exactly replaces my old favorite (bumble and bumble). I have found that part of going natural sometimes includes lowering expectations here and there…but that's ok with me. It's worth it.

  18. Clare July 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    Hello lovelies,
    I really enjoy this blogs style and encouraging sunny outlook! I also like that you incorporate your faith. In fact the posts covering joy and confidence really changed my attitude towards interacting with people, dramatically. I have more of a request actually for future posts. Would you both consider writing a little bit more on dating as a process. Tips, advice…how to's :]. I know you wrote a few posts on this already but your wisdom would be appreciated.
    Thanks so much!

    • danny July 23, 2013 at 12:10 am - Reply

      Sounds like something we can try to do…it gets harder and harder the further away we are from dating, so we better move on that quick 🙂

      Thanks so much for the suggestion!

    • Clare July 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      Thank you! I know that you both are in such different stages in your life right now…but I would love it if either of you might have a few more thoughts on the subject.

      Danny I would also really like to hear more about "language of love". How do you specifically put into words the good that you see in others. Does the language of love have any principles behind it? What helps you to refocus when you get of track. I want to know more! I try to always see the good in others but that next step of complementing and loving with verbal language is hard.

    • danny July 24, 2013 at 3:52 am - Reply

      You're right, that next step of actually complimenting can be hard…but that's the fun part! It is the process of being vulnerable and open, it takes courage and boldness, and it is a beautiful and wonderful thing to do.

      Did you take our classes? I don't think I've talked as much about Language of Love on the blog.

      As for how to I specifically put it into words, well I'm deliberately looking for the good in someone, and when I see it I say it. Often times it takes the form of "I noticed that you do such and such and I wanted you to know how much I appreciate that and admire you for it." Such and such could be they have great energy and radiate light and joy, it could be how they interact with their children or their spouse, it could be their attitude to trials and difficulty, it could be as simple as recognizing the desire they have to do and be better (even if they are struggling to actually do it).

      This week when I was speaking in church, I immediately went to seek out some people after the service was over. I sought out those who made consistent eye contact with me as I spoke, whose emotions I could almost feel, whose sincerity and love I felt, people with whom I seemed to experience some kind of extra connection. My guess is that is because the message I was sharing resonated specifically with them. So, when I found them, I grabbed their hand and thanked them sincerely…I let them know how much it means to me to have people to connect with as I'm speaking, how grateful I am for their willingness to extend themselves to me. I let them know how important that is, how I could feel their love, and I wanted them to know that love was returned right back to them.

      They became instant best friends 🙂

      It can be hard to learn how to put yourself out there like that, but it is oh so rewarding that pretty soon you won't see it as hard at all, but joyful.

    • Clare July 25, 2013 at 4:08 am - Reply

      I haven't taken a class yet! I would love too, once new classes are announced.
      A few posts written by Mara mentioned your "Language of Love" idea and it finally put a name on something that I have been trying to practice for a while. So I was curious. Thank you for the story and advice. I will definitely keep working on it!

      Thank you so very much for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully to me. It must take up so much of your time responding to us all, but know that I am so very grateful.


  19. Kim July 22, 2013 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    I just got married and am adjusting to living with someone. 🙂 It's happy and wonderful, but an adjustment nonetheless. Would you consider a post on "tips for newlyweds"? Thanks, Kim

    • mara July 22, 2013 at 11:52 pm - Reply

      yes! I love this idea! We'll work on it. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • SarahN @ livetolist July 23, 2013 at 2:11 am - Reply

      I'm not married but about to move in with my BF (which probably isn't totally in line with what you guys would prefer, but that's ok). So these tips would be helpful for me too!

  20. KMH July 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara!

    Just a quick question for you regarding your skin care regime. I think I read somewhere that you used apple cider vinegar, but what for? Since being really sick this winter, the skin on my face has been causing me SO MANY problems (sad!). I've decided to cut out dairy since it could be a sensitivity to that, and my naturopath has put me on a lot of supplements, vitamins, and herbs, but so far (two weeks in), I've yet to see results on my face.

    Would love to hear any other suggestions! I just purchased coconut oil as well (the naturopath told me to try it, too!), but I'm curious about apple cider vinegar, since I have some of that sitting in my cupboard at home.


    • mara July 23, 2013 at 12:20 am - Reply

      It took about 6 wks for me to start feeling the positive affects of being dairy free. I had also been eating a ton of dairy prior as my work stocked Ronny Brook drinkable yogurts and gourmet specialty cheeses – – so I maybe had a more drastic detox when I went off of it. I'm pretty sure my skin actually got worse during that detox time, as well. It actually motivated me to keep doing it as it seemed something was happening.

      Based on my research over the years, SUGAR is also directly related to acne (and hormones)…and I would add to that high carbs. I really, really think diet is so linked to acne. But sadly, I have yet to have a dermatologist mention a thing about it.

      As for ACV, I use it as a toner (50% vinegar, 50% water). Get the raw, organic kind with the "mother". I just put it in a little glass bottle for my bathroom and use my clean fingers to spread a little on my face. You could also use a cotton ball.

      It's supposed to:
      -balance the PH of your skin.
      -help blemishes to heal up faster.
      -it's also anti bacterial (and anti-fungal, so it can be used for other skin problems like athlete's feet, fungal rashes, etc.)

  21. sarahstaebler July 22, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    A random question, but here it is: do you and Danny have middle names? 🙂

    • danny July 22, 2013 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      We do…but I'll refrain from posting them since that stuff can be used in identity and finance stuff. 🙂

  22. Renee July 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    I am a huge fan of the blog. My sister recommended it to me, and I have been reading from the beginning! The message you are sharing is absolutely changing my life in the most wonderful ways. So here is my question, I am a part of starting a new class/ life group at my church for people 35 and under… and all the curriculum we are looking at seems lame and so negative in light of what I have been reading here! Do you have recommendations for materials that could be good for a group setting? (We go to a Methodist church, so I realize that you may know more in the LDS tradition!)

    • danny July 22, 2013 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      One of my favorite books I own is by a non-denominational pastor named David Brisbin, and the book is called "The Fifth Way".

      It looks like it is currently unavailable for sale…I know that the author is revising it in order to make it easier to use for groups and study, so keep an eye out for its re-release. Until then you can buy it used.

  23. ingrid July 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara, Hi Danny!
    Thanks for that walk around the park last year. Everything worked out better than expected–just like you said it would if I had faith and trusted a higher power. I keep you both in my thoughts and send you much love.

    I'd like to know how you manage to keep your blog fresh and interesting. Every day I sign in and get such wonderful information and insight. I am astonished at how you connect to people and how you've been able to turn this blog in to a must go to destination for so many. Do you have any tips for people who might want to blog or who are currently blogging? what keeps you motivated and since I think this blog is Mara's full time job, how do you make it profitable without having ads all over the page? Also, what do you see happening with your work/blog in the next few years? and one more thing—how are those plants you got at the beginning of the spring? I saw a post about some new plants which got me thinking about the old ones. Thanks.

    • danny July 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      First of all…it's great to hear from you again Ingrid! I think you were one of the first "Walk in the park" that we had, and we loved it. So glad that things continue to work out with you.

      I can answer some of your questions, maybe Mara will be able to chime in on a few others.

      How do we keep it profitable? We don't! 🙂 We honestly don't make much of anything at all. Though this is Mara's full-time job, it's done mostly because we're passionate about it, not because it represents income replacement. Got any ideas for making it more profitable 🙂 ???

      What do we see in the next few years? Well…we'd love to do this full time some day, both of us. We're looking into joining with others to create some retreats in various cities. Time and again our favorite moments are when we get to spend time with people, and if we could meet up with 30-50 people in a weekend, do some classes…well that would be awesome.

      Plants…Mara's addicted, the plants before are still going strong, though we still need to replace some of the spring plants that died off…but we use our herbs every single day. Those other ones made her so happy, she just keeps going for more 🙂

    • mara July 23, 2013 at 1:42 am - Reply

      Ingrid! SO, so lovely to hear from you. We think of you often and it's just wonderful to hear that you are doing well. It was just wonderful to meet you that day. We'll never forget it.

      So happy to hear you think the content is fresh and interesting. 🙂 I guess for me, I just speak from the heart. I kinda can't do it otherwise. I know some bloggers prefer to be really regimented with a schedule and columns that run on certain days. But I don't do it that way…I want it to feel really authentic instead of forced. The stuff I write about needs so much passion behind it that I have to be feeling it in order to write. I guess that leaves an element of surprise, as well, as even I don't know what topic I might be inspired to tackle next.

      Also, i get most of my inspiration from my own life. I figure if I once faced something (or do currently), that other people likely can relate to it as well. Sometimes I tackle something based on an email or comment from a reader.

      Regarding connecting with people, if anyone is connected to us here, I hope it is because they feel love from two strangers. We try to offer that…as we have an abundance to give. And we know from experience that feeling love is one of the most healing forces available. There are many that don't feel that strongly, so if we can offer that, we are happy to.

      As for blogging – I would recommend it! Especially if it's a blog based on something that does the world good in some way (some blogs are the opposite..and it's sad to think of the negative energy that it must create for the blogger and the readers.) Anyway, having this blog has been one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. Know that expectations may need to be adjusted depending on what you're able to do. I blog like it's my job. But I also don't have a traditional job. Nor do I have kids. So I'm able to dedicate a lot of time to this, which has reaped many great experiences in return. But I still think one could have great experiences at any level. I think the key to connecting with people is to be authentic. People say to "find your voice" but I say to USE your voice. Use the voice you have right now. Blog about what you already are most passionate about. Blog about what you would want to talk about even if you weren't getting paid. Having that level of passion will shine through in your posts. And it will keep you motivated day in and day out as you think of what to write and share.

      We have made some money from a few sponsored posts (this is much more profitable than ad space, which usually pays much less). Though right now we put more time into writing blog posts and interacting with our readers instead of connecting with sponsors (which is a huge, huge effort in itself). One thing that seems to work, though, is writing companies that you already love and proposing some ways you could work together (i.e. sponsored posts, events, giveaways, product reviews, banner ads.) It's great when you can be the creative behind the collaboration (and many companies prefer to have your ideas.) I also think it might help to connect with companies who already sponsor other blogs. They may be more familiar with the blogging industry and might be more interested in sponsoring another blog.

      And yes, totally addicted to plants. In fact, I just got some more. 🙂 🙂 I'll post some photos soon.

      All the best! xo

  24. Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Hi to you both! My question pertains to your religious faith, which clearly underpins so much of your message. I often wonder if there are elements of your religious community that you disagree with, and how you handle that. I don't know a great deal about Mormonism, but in many ways it does seem like a fairly conservative community – particularly with respect to feminism/gender roles and acceptance of LGBTQ persons. (This last issue has gotten quite a bit of media attention, particular with respect to Prop 8 in California – hence my curiosity.)

    P.S. I have tried to frame this question in an open-minded, non-judgmental way, so I hope you will read it that way. I definitely have these questions in my own life; I belong to a Conservative Jewish congregation, and I always feel a little dissonance when certain traditions or attitudes don't line up with my progressive/egalitarian values.

    • danny July 22, 2013 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Are there things we occasionally disagree with? Absolutely.

      What do we do about it? Well, I try to separate religious cultural norms from actual doctrine. I also try to remember that church isn't about what I receive from the community, but what I give to it. It doesn't need to be perfect for it to be a place where I willingly serve others and seek their well being and growth. My church activity has more to do with service to others than it does with something I expect to get from the community. And others don't need to share whatever personal views I have in order to merit my service.

      Finally, if something appears to create a conflict, I try to go back to basics…Love God and Love your neighbor. In fact, that is the main reason I devote myself…church is one of those areas where I get to practice and develop and carry out those two great commandments.

    • Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      I have the same question, and of course frame it in the same curious, open-hearted way! Thank you for your openness.

    • mara July 23, 2013 at 2:03 am - Reply

      I agree with Danny's comments. Also, I'd add that we don't put our religion or any religion on a pedestal. No religion should come between a person and their God. You see, religions are still led by humans just trying to do their best. And anytime you have a large institution of any kind, especially a world wide church, the institution is bound to be imperfect. That's just the nature of institutions. So we prefer to be aware of that and forgiving of that…it prevents us having a crisis of faith if something comes along that seems imperfect. Instead, we stay focused on the beauty of our religion and it's purest teachings. The principles are life changing. We have seen that in our own lives and in hundreds of lives around us. (We also appreciate the beauty found in other religions as well.)

  25. Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    My question essentially is, can deep, real and meaningful love be cultivated from somewhat stubborn soil, or does it best bloom organically?

    A bit of context: I dated my now husband for about a year before we married. I certainly knew him well and have not been unpleasantly surprised by anything about his behavior or personality – quite the opposite. He has exceptional positive qualities – very, very hard working, very intelligent, an excellent planner, very good with people, a great provider. And I could go on. And this is a good part of why I married him – I knew it would be difficult to find someone else with such great characteristics. All of these positive qualities are counter balanced by a sometimes quite difficult temper, maybe too much focus on making money, and inconsistent spirituality (I too am LDS and my commitment has always been extremely dear to me; he grew up in an inactive family but researched the church and became active again at 22, several years before we met. He has significant doctrinal knowledge and understanding, but the habits and consistency central to progressive conversion are still lagging a bit, and there's some apathy there). In ways we compliment each other very well, and we've both helped each other improve and grow significantly in our marriage. The majority of the time I feel happy and lucky. When we were dating, though, I sometimes felt that "off" feeling in my gut, like something was not quite right. I didn't feel a really strong, intimate connection; we see and respond to much of the world differently. And I've often felt he'd change me to comply with his tastes if he could, rather than love me for what I love and am. Dating, I loved him, but with a sort of apprehensive and labored love because I wanted to love him, and not necessarily the spontaneous and undeniable love I'd always imagined I'd feel. I received an undeniable confirmation of the rightness of the marriage a few weeks before the wedding, although that didn't rid the "off" feeling. And that off feeling has come and gone and come and gone in the few years we've been married. I suppose what still bothers me is I feel like it should feel more natural to love him, like the love should be deep and just THERE. And I suppose it confuses me that I could feel or be impressed that on the one hand it's right, and on the other still sometimes feel like something isn't quite right. But I can never fully define what isn't right. It seems that you and Mara, for example, have a very natural connection and love, as though your souls would love each other, no matter what. My marriage feels far more "practical", which satisfies my husband entirely but sometimes makes me feel I've missed out on something important.

    So my question, in addition to what I started out with, is can time and effort make this more practical less, romantic version of love bear the same fruit as a more natural love (for lack of a better phrase)? I know all love takes work, even if it looks effortless, and I'm willing to do the work. And I do love my husband, don't get me wrong. I suppose I mainly struggle with how I sometimes feel something is lacking or not quite right, and how it doesn't seem to come as deep as easily as I would like. I don't wake up every day feeling like I am forcing it, but I do feel it seems easier and more natural for many others. Is there hope for depth and consistent feelings of rightness? It's difficult to fairly and clearly explain this. But I would love any insights.

    • Anonymous July 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      It's still me – just one more thing. I sometimes worry I made the choice to marry him too much with the head instead of the heart. I always thought deciding who to marry would be a balance of head and heart, but I think my head was more invested than the heart. So, the deal now being done, can the heart catch up?

    • Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 10:52 pm - Reply

      You are not alone. I feel the same way with my husband and have wondered the same things. I would love some advice!

    • danny July 24, 2013 at 3:54 am - Reply

      Mara or I still need to get to this. We haven't forgotten, but we'll need a little more time.

    • Sage July 26, 2013 at 11:40 am - Reply

      I will make an attempt since I have been married for 22 years to someone I chose to marry despite misgivings similar to yours.

      First of all, YES, you can get to a point where your love is more natural and easy…but it will take time and effort to get there as you suspected.

      I just wanted to give you some hope before the Kofoeds answer. I used to worry about a scripture that said "love unfeigned". I felt like I was faking it because it took so much effort to love my husband (he on the other hand loved me steadily).

      I say practice what Mara and Danny teach about loving yourself and not expecting your happiness to come from outside yourself. Doing that simple change helped me significantly to find love for my husband that didn't need to be love at first sight or natural from the beginning. Now I feel like the most blessed woman in the world to have him beside me.

      Don't lose hope. And know that the road may require honest discussions with your spouse that may hurt, but positively framed to begin walking a path forward together. When I've been more vulnerable to him we have been able to grow closer. Of course I don't say it is hard for me to love you, but I find ways to understand and explain my needs without expecting him to fulfill them…ok. now we need Danny and Mara to chime in!

    • Cindy July 29, 2013 at 6:52 am - Reply

      I wanted to offer something as well while waiting for Danny & Mara. I took a class for several years, each year with different people. Over the years I became aware of an interesting thing–that some of the people in my classes had had clear and distinct inspiration from God that they were to marry their spouses. I was envious–as all I'd had was a warm and fuzzy feeling. I wanted to have had this direction from God too! But as the years went by and the number of people I knew who had had this particular type of experience increased, I started to see another correlation–most of these people had difficult marriages. They all, at some time or another (or all the time) needed to know that this was God's plan for their lives. I, with my comfortable marriage (and trials in another part of my life) didn't need that kind of reassurance. My friends have progressed throughout the years in their ability to love their (difficult/disappointing/whatever) spouses more and better as they have been prayerful about it and worked to become more emotionally healthy themselves. I think that we too often tend to assume that following the spirit means our choice will work out well and easily, when often following the spirit means we are embarking on a new learning experience. Good luck to you!

  26. Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 12:36 am - Reply

    Hi! this is so AWESOME btw!

    1. did you go to college? if so, what did you major in? i think it's fascinating you've done a bunch of different things and i'm sooo curious! also, how did you become someone's personal assistant?! fascinating to me as well…
    2. i love your hair. i too have curly hair. from your curly hair post it sounds like you use quite a bit of products! is your hair with white flakes when you don't wash it for a few days? i'm trying not to wash mine every day but then it's like christmas…not from dry scalp but from the product it seems like, kind of gross…

    1. some time ago you talked about forgiveness and reconciliation not being the same thing. would you mind elaborating on this? how do you reconcile with people who are not interested in fixing the problem at stake but you still have a relationship with? (siblings, parents, spouse)

    for either one:
    – what is the best thing to do when someone you love is going crazy with (again parents, siblings) and you don't want to continue an argument? Mara, what did you do when you knew your spouse was being unkind? you talked about stuffed animals, did you just go work on that and ignored him? i love that you made those!

    thank you again so so much for all you do for all of us! your gift is a blessing!

    • mara July 23, 2013 at 2:49 am - Reply

      1. I went to Randolph Macon Women's College in VA straight out of high school in Mesa, AZ. That was quite an experience, and a good one. I later transfered to Arizona State as I was paying for this whole gig myself and it got expensive to fly home and what not for the holidays. I also had a fully paid scholarship waiting for me at ASU – so transfering became a financial decision. I majored in Communication. Really, I wasn't sure yet what I wanted to do. But I knew I wanted to move to NYC. And at the time, a degree in Comm. was my fastest way out. I became an asst. because I was on my own here in NY and that kind of job paid way, way more than any other job out there. I think I was making more than my lawyer friends and banker friends at the time. The trick is working in FINANCE for a generous company with great benefits and bonuses and working for the CEO or another top exec. (and one that is a good person and treats his employees well). I got that dream job by working at a private equity firm for the CFO and making a good impression on the CEO who later promoted me to being his personal assistant. That job led to some of the most amazing experiences of my life. I think of it so fondly.

      2. The products in that post are not necessarily ones I would use all at once…the curl cream is always constant…and some hairspray…and the rest would get alternated here and there if I was putting in extra time on my hair (though that doesn't happen often as my curls can get me by with very little effort.) I haven't experienced the white flakes you mentioned. Also, I've been going all natural with my routine. So at the moment I'm using Intelligent Nutrients hairspray and either Beautiful Curls Curl Lotion or a curl product by Original Sprout. They aren't quite the Aveda curl cream which I love…so I'm still scouting out other products.

      3. To answer your question, I did get to the point (at times) when I stayed perfectly calm and went about some other business instead of engaging in an argument. I wasn't perfect at this, but I got the hang of it more and more. My mentor would say to BE STILL. Work on not reacting and staying true to the person you want to be. Even go for a walk and say you just don't want to argue and that you'll be back later (and yes, this is where the sock animals came in. I often took my sewing bundle to the park. Sometimes I made them in the car. Or just on my couch at home while my husband made plans to leave.) I think stepping away is ok to do if someone is just trying to go into a bad, toxic place over and over. Also, let me clarify that stepping away or ignoring is not recommended as a way to manipulate or intentionally create silence, distance or revenge. If done in anger, that energy will make things worse. It's more about letting your partner know that you are trying to maintain a calm feeling…and that arguing or responding to a toxic conversation is not the way you want to interact. It might be helpful to even let them know in advance that this is the way you hope to respond next time an argument arises. Perhaps this can help to break a damaging cycle of arguing.

    • danny July 23, 2013 at 3:31 am - Reply

      Perhaps the most concise way for me to describe my feelings would be to say that forgiveness is a state of being, and reconciliation is an action.

      Forgiveness can occur (and must occur) within an individual even if it is deemed best that reconciliation not occur.

      Forgiveness is about taking all of the pain, anger, grudge-holding, bitterness, etc., and letting go. Let go of those things which will only continue to poison your life and steal your joy and infect every other relationship you have. When you forgive, you are not at-one-ing with another person, but with God. You are aligning with a state of being that embraces love, patience, kindness, compassion, gratitude, faith, hope, mercy…and you can enjoy the freedom that comes from that at-one-ment.

      Forgiveness is not dependent on saying or hearing "I'm sorry". It is the state of being you choose to embody in your life whether or not those words ever come or whether or not they are deserved and sincere.

      Reconciliation does not need to happen for forgiveness to be alive and well in an individual. But oftentimes reconciliation can, should, and does occur…and two people once separated by offense become one again…whether as friends, family, lovers, or whatever.

      Reconciliation would be a restoration of the relationship of two people, whereas Forgiveness is a restoration between an individual and God.

      At least, that's how I see it. 🙂

    • MC July 24, 2013 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Do you ever get a chance to come back to Arizona? I live in Glendale now and I love it here!

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm - Reply

      I do get back! Usually about once a year. Though sometimes my family meets up in Oregon as I have two sisters there. But I do love visiting AZ. Glad to hear you like it there. My parents and one sister/bro.in law are in Mesa.

  27. Alysa Stewart July 23, 2013 at 12:39 am - Reply

    I'm just curious about how old you two are. I know it's a personal question, so I won't be too sad if you decide not to disclose. I just think of you two as being "just a little bit older than me" and wondered if I was actually right. haha 🙂

    Also I'd like to say that I love the blog! I find it fresh and inspirational and important even though I'm already in a great marriage. Lots of love to you both.

  28. Katie Fisher July 23, 2013 at 2:46 am - Reply

    How do you show love to your partner when you are at odds over very important issues? I love my husband dearly, but when it comes to parenting we do not see eye to eye on discipline…and we've been discussing it often seeing as we've got three kids five and under. When he is hard on the kids and frustrated with them, I then become frustrated with him, and it's a cycle I truly want to eliminate from our home and marriage.

  29. Anonymous July 23, 2013 at 3:34 am - Reply

    Hello there,
    You have such a great relationship.
    I was wondering if you both could talk about finances/money in a marriage/relationship.
    How does a couple get on the same page, about day to day spending, big purchases, having outstanding debt or not, long term financial goals, seperate or together accounts, etc…. What if one is a spender and one is a saver?
    Finances and money, sometimes can cause a strain to a relationship. What advice do you have to make finances in a relationship work?
    Best regards!

    • danny July 23, 2013 at 3:45 am - Reply

      Dang, good question.

      Mara and I figured out before we married that we had very similar views on spending, so we haven't really had to worry about it much. But it certainly can be difficult.

      I think that's something we'll try to tackle in a future post, I'm not sure I could do it in a comment. Who knows…we might even get a specialist to do a guest post 🙂

  30. Allison July 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    you guys are great! i think you've already done a post about how to help/talk to a friend dealing with infertility. i struggle with that, it's hard for me to talk to people who are going through that trial because i can't relate (who knows, maybe i will experience it down the road). i have one baby, so sometimes i feel like anytime i mention him, i am rubbing him in their faces (that's totally not my intention). i would love any insight you have about this!

    • MC July 24, 2013 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      I'm sure Mara & Danny will respond to this, but I wanted to add my 2 cents. My husband and I have struggled with infertility for 2+ years, and although it is painful for us to watch our friends have babies when we have none, it hurts even more when we are excluded. Many people think they are doing us a kindness by not mentioning it… but really it isolates us even more. Perhaps we are not the norm of infertile couples? But I think it's possible to be sad for yourself while still being 100% happy about someone else (and vice versa). Hope this makes sense.


    • Mara July 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm - Reply

      I would second MC! We struggled with infertility for over three years. It was so hurtful to be excluded! In the days of Facebook – we'd see our friends posting pictures of their kid's birthday parties that we were not invited to, etc. And that made us feel more alone!

      I think the best thing you can do is simply ask "How are you doing?" and let your friend just talk it out. There were so many days I just needed someone to talk to and get things off my chest, maybe cry. Don't hold back talking about your children – but do take the time to simply listen and offer encouragement (encouragemet in the form of "I'm so sorry" or "I'll pray for you and for strength") Please don't ever say "It will happen!" or "You just have to be patient!" or "You just need to relax/get drunk/go on vacation/stop worrying" etc. Those comments became like nails on a chalkboard to us. 🙂

      Just being a solid shoulder to lean on is the best advice I could give.

    • katie July 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm - Reply

      I couldn't agree more! For me, it was when I found out that a close friend had kept her pregnancy a secret from me. It felt so awful, and yes, even more isolating to feel deliberately excluded.

  31. Jaime A July 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara and Danny! Your blog is delightful. Truly a lovely space on the internet.

    I've much appreciated how open, honest and thoughtful you've been about your journey through infertility. So, I ask the following question with all possible respect. What is the view of the LDS faith about medical intervention as extreme as in vitro fertilization? I know that many conservative Christian theologists do not find the practice to respect God's design for children. How did you think through the procedure in light of your faith?

    • danny July 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      Good question. As far as official LDS policy is concerned, they pretty much leave it up to the couple and God. They don't really interject much into that, though they do caution against doing IVF using eggs or sperm from someone other than the husband or wife. But even then, they say couples should be left to do what they feel is correct.

      I actually had to look that up in order to give you an answer on official policy, I've never really heard it discussed though. IVF in our faith community is not frowned upon.

      One thing that I have heard friends discuss that have done IVF is the moral question of what to do with unused embryos. There is no official policy in the church, and again it seems couples are left to do what they think is best. If Mara and I still had embryos, we'd probably do another round.

      As for how our faith informed our decision…well it certainly was a decision we made prayerfully, but less so because we were struggling with the moral implications of IVF, and more because we were trying to understand what path would be best for us.

      As for the moral implications of it all, my thoughts are that there are probably many times that my sperm has fertilized Mara's eggs, only to have that new embryo not take. In none of those instances did we have disrespect for life. Doing IVF was only a way for us to isolate the process in stages and try to provide the most viable environment for success. Sperm was united with egg, some embryos survived that process and some didn't. Those two embryos that did survive the process and then were placed in Mara's body didn't take, probably like all the times before. No disrespect of life.

      Families are beautiful, children are wonderful, however it is they come to us. Natural birth, IVF, adoption, I think God can use any one of those to create a family.

    • Anonymous July 25, 2013 at 2:41 am - Reply

      Excellent response! Thank you!

    • mara July 30, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

      Jaime, in case you are subscribing to these comments, please contact us with your address. We have a thank you gift to send your way (see the post from July 26.)

  32. Andrea July 23, 2013 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara & Danny –

    I love, love your blog! 🙂

    First, thank you so much for all your information regarding skin care. My daughter is 13 and is experiencing bad breakouts – so much so that our pediatrician commented on it and prescribed some cream (super bad bedside manners for a pediatrician – my daughter was mortified and tearful when we left the office). The cream has done nothing really and we've tried various cleansing regimens to no avail.

    She does have a severe nut allergy and I've often thought maybe she's sensitive to dairy. I have brought up eliminating dairy to her – and she thought she could give it a try. We are going to do it together. Did you still have issues consuming sugar and it affecting your skin? Thank you so much for sharing your experiences – I'm hoping no dairy will be the ticket!

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      I definitely do think that sugar is related to acne. If you go to Dr. Frank Lipman's website (he's Gwyneth Paltrow's favorite Dr. in NY – and I know of him through my acupuncturist as they shared an office) – he has an article about sugar and dairy and how they are very much linked to acne. For me, I'm more sensitive to dairy. But I do notice that if I have sugar, my skin does look less healthy/glowy – and more bumpy and unhealthy looking.

  33. shugarlove.com July 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara & Danny!

    Thank you for opening your hearts to us. As a newly wed (almost two years so I hope this is still a newly wed), I would like to like to know your advice on keeping the marriage fresh while addressing those fights that tend to always come up. As a couple, you end up arguing about the same things after a while. This can put a damper on the romance. Can you share any tips on how to tackle the disagreements & nagging issues while still being close and developing our love.

    Thanks for all that you do! I am obsessed with your blog all about love!


  34. Marilyn July 24, 2013 at 12:35 am - Reply

    Aren't you glad you posted this? I have found the questions and answers in this post SOOOOO great!

  35. Danielle July 25, 2013 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    My Question: what is your next vacation venture? I love to see the pictures and hear about it!
    Also what are your callings in church? I assume that Danny is in the high council if he is speaking once a month, but of course I could be wrong.
    Just curious.
    Also you guys are minimalists which I admire, and I know it is sort of necessity in NY, but what are three things you could not live without?

    • mara July 25, 2013 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      haha. I'd love to go on a vacation soon. I've been talking to Danny about going someplace over Christmas. I need to start doing some research, but these are my destinations on the list: Africa, India, Thailand, Morrocco, Iceland, the Middle East (not sure where).

      Danny's in the high council and I'm the 1st counselor in the RS.

      3 things – in NY, LOOOOVE having a washer & a dryer, a dishwasher, and a car in that order. We are very spoiled. (next in line: elevator and garbage disposal.) Everything else I could live without. 🙂

    • Danielle August 1, 2013 at 12:49 am - Reply

      Very cool! I look forward to hearing about those adventures! What fun and testimony building callings. I always feel like a Relief Society calling would be hard. There is always someone or family in need, it's a calling that keeps you busy for sure! I am dishwasher free-well I am the dishwasher so I know that would be something very convenient. I dream of the day! Lol. Thanks for answering!!

  36. lexianne July 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Mara & Danny,
    I love seeing all the lovely photos of the two of you on your blog. Do you have any recommendations for NYC based photographers?

    • mara August 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm - Reply

      Sorry my reply is so very delayed on this… but Joshua Brown does some amazing photography and I know he's in NYC regularly. Other photographers I just LOVE and I know work in NYC regularly: Yan Photo, Rachel Thurston, Jonathan Canlas, Melanie Mauer, Justin Hackworth. Another I've seen on the blog 'NYC Taught Me' is Keith Pitts – – his work is so good – I really like how natural his photos are.

  37. ashley July 25, 2013 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    hello mara and danny,

    i have loved reading all of these questions and answers and all of the comments in between. i think it's a fun way to hear about a lot of different, random topics. would you consider doing this again sometime?

    as always, thanks for your inspiring words, helpful information, and fun comments!! i love this blog!

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