Pre-Marital Counseling: Why?

Happy Thursday you guys! Today's blog post is A LOT different than usual.  But, I find that when I write personal blog posts--like the one about my Dad (read that post here), how Tim & I met (read that post here), and other personal ones I get a significant amount of more interaction from you guys. Which I love!  So, I'm listening to analytics and trying to do a lot more lifestyle posts around here. Based off the title of this blog post, I'm sure you can figure I'm talking about pre-marital counseling and our experience. When I knew Tim was the one (which I knew very early on), I knew there were necessary steps that I wanted to take to prepare us for that next stage in life. Even though we both knew from the beginning, we didn't start taking these steps until we knew an engagement was coming up. In this post, I'm going to go over some things that Tim and I have done to prepare for this exciting stage in our lives and also tips for those of you who are about to go through this! Let's jump in. 

Pre-Marital Counseling

Tim & I started this before we got engaged. You’re probably wondering, but I’ll explain that in a little. This was a 100% MUST for me. I’ve attended therapy a few times in my life, and find it to be unbelievably helpful. It has helped me overcome so many obstacles, helped me work out the hard stuff, and just given me a space to think and be heard. With that being said, I knew couples therapy or pre-marital counseling was something that I wanted to do with Tim.  In our generation therapy is looked at as such a negative process. People who go to therapy are looked at like they’re crazy. That is NOT how it should be looked at- at all. Don’t get me wrong, there are people with serious mental health issues that attend therapy and so on, which I’m fully aware of. But at the end of the day, it’s something that’s so healthy and should be looked at as a positive. Because even though we’re not married, hard times are going to arise during marriage. During my marriage, and during yours. For Tim and I, I wanted it to be something that was looked at as helping us prepare for a successful and healthy marriage. And when the dark times come for us, having “therapy” be something that we have done before and something that we were both comfortable with.  

Now that I’ve told you the “why” in pre-marital counseling for us, let me explain the concept. During our sessions, we followed a course that had us answer questions. MAJOR life questions. Money, kids, communication, sex, religion, politics, etc. Every topic that you and your future spouse should discuss before marrying each other and definitely before getting engaged. It was so refreshing to have a new perspective sit in with us, and to express our thought process about everything out loud. We were given new methods on how to communicate, and I just feel like it brought us so much closer together.  This is something that I think every couple should do to help prepare for marriage because in case there’s something you haven’t talked about, you can discuss it with a third party and talk about major life things with someone else and be that much MORE ready for a life long commitment. 

Every couple has there issues, including us. We were well aware of a majority of them prior to attending any sort of counseling. However, even though we discussed them together, neither of us are professionals. To go into a little more detail on the help of having a third party there: it changes perspectives. Our therapist (obviously) has no background of either of us. And by that I mean how we were raised, what type of people we are, did we have any trauma growing up, stuff that will affect the people we are today. During this time of counseling is helping us come to resolutions and also guiding us through. We have this person there who is a blank slate— knows nothing. I’m able to express my side of things, for example how I think a household should be run. Tim is also able to express his feelings, and then we are able to talk, hear each other out, get an opinion and also reiterate and dig deeper in a safe space. Where as discussing these things in real life on our own are usually done in the car, driving somewhere, we’re distracted by our phones, or we’re multitasking and nothing is getting solved or ACTUALLY discussed. This time frame of one hour has seriously been magical in the sense of having an uninterrupted time where we discuss feelings and hard topics, in a judgement free zone.

The course that we followed was Two Becoming One. Since we are religious, we decided to follow this program since it covered the religion aspect of things as well. With this though came homework. A good chunk of it! Since we were meeting once a week, both of us had to sit down separately and set aside a half hour I’d say. The entire week leading up to our appointment I was SO anxious because we weren't allowed to do the homework together or share our answers with each other. So during the first few weeks, I was like a giddy second grader sharing secrets with her best friend! The best part was feeling completely refreshed when our answers to questions were exactly the same. It really made us (both) feel like we were a team and on the same page!

At the moment, we are taking a break from our counseling since we haven’t had a moment to just breathe. Since I have a charger personality (keep on reading to see what that means!) I’m constantly planning and I always need to be busy. Tim is easy-going, so he just follows my lead. Like I said in the beginning, we started going before our engagement so since then- we haven’t just been able to enjoy! Talking about our feelings multiple times a week has been happening so we’re taking a slight pause before we finish the rest of our course. And I’m soaking up all the time because its nice to have one night a week back that we can put towards quality time.

Marriage Class

Not only did we do counseling one on one with a therapist, but we also did one through my church. For those of you that are in Orange County, I attend Rock Harbor Costa Mesa and have for the past 3 years. It’s the place I consider home and really feel connected spiritually there. They offer a course called Seriously Dating or Engaged and I highly highly highly HIGHLY recommend it. If you do anything or can only financially afford one, do this one. It was a 4 week course that was 4 hours every Saturday. I know what you are thinking- ew. That is not what I want to do on a Saturday. It was really hard for us too and it was a struggle for those weeks since it took half of our day and also forced us to not be able to sleep in. Now that we’re on the other side of it though, we can confidently say that it was worth our time and worth our effort, and in the long run, will benefit us trimendously.

Compared to pre-marital counseling with a therapist or couples counseling, this was WAY different. We were basically in a classroom, and that’s why I called this essentially a marriage class. We had about over 100 people in this class with us, so we weren’t the only ones wanting to learn! The class was called Seriously Dating or Engaged, so not EVERYONE was engaged. There were people in the class that had only been dating for 4 months, and then the couple who had been together the longest was 7 years. We had a wide variety of people with us and that included second time marriages, boyfriend and girlfriends, and also people with children. It was set up as a “workshop” in the sense that it was 4 hours, we got one break half way between and were able to get a snack, and grab a refreshment. The class was led by the main teacher, and then he had 4 couples who had been through the same course that had all been married for different periods of time. It ranged from 30 years to 2 years between the 4 couples. A lot of experience was brought to the table with these relationships!

This marriage class also followed a particular course, and this one is private based so that is why I highly recommend attending this class on your own so you can experience it and all it has to offer. Anyways, every week for 4 hours we would work our way through this course which in this case was a book. It went over main topics (like our pre-marital counseling did) like religion, finances, sex, communication, and a lot more. Since I’m sure to you this sounds very similar to our actually therapy, let me clarify that it was different. Though the book we did with our therapist is for the most part religion based, since this course was through a church, it was even more so.

Over the course of 4 weeks, I’d say the biggest thing we took from this course was how to communicate effectively, and how to conflict resolution. You see, I’m a big “in the moment” kind of person. If something feels good, then I do it- whatever it may be. Being this way has its positives, but it also has its negatives. This includes when Tim and I fight (gasp). I say things I don’t mean, and sometimes react in the wrong way that both I regret later. These methods of communications that were taught in this course have changed the way we argue, for the better. We now have a safe word for when one of us needs a break, we (try to) do the 5 A’s daily, and have a prompt that keeps our arguments (sometimes lol) calm. Like I said, marriage is for forever and we are going to have a ton of obstacles to overcome throughout our life together! To some it may sound like we can’t solve problems on our own, or that we need help. Let me tell you my thoughts on that… 1. We can solve problems on our own, but why not better ourselves and our communication? Doing both of those doesn’t hurt anything, it just makes us stronger. 2. EVERYONE can use help. If you think you’re too good for it, and that your relationship doesn’t need it, you’re just wrong. Sorry, not sorry.

I am in no way, shape or form saying that pre-marital counseling saves all marriages and is the resolution to everything. I know couples who did no form of pre-marital counseling and have been happily married for 50+ years. I also know couples who did pre-marital counseling and are divorced today. For me, I just knew it was a must. To know that I prepared as best as I could, educated myself, and got ready for marriage. Every individual is different, and each relationship is unique. Though the divorce rates are dropping, the number is still tremendously high. So to me… take the marriage course. Go meet with a therapist, even if you’re doing just fine. Do those cheesy relationship exercises. Read tips on how to keep things spicy in the bedroom. Practice communicating. Hint: none of these will hurt your relationship, it will only better it. For some couples, it’s not worth the money & I get it. The past couple months for us has been EXPENSIVE to say the least. Mostly going to a therapist, as our marriage class was a one time fee. But still… money is money!

I wish I could say Tim and I are officially pros on marriage, but we still have a lot to learn! Tim’s Best Man’s father is marrying us, so we still actually have one more course to do. It’s been a lot, but it feels good when it’s over. It’s a lot of talking about your feelings, and talking about just everything marriage has to do with. It can be exhausting at times and we’ve definitely both reached the point where we’re tired of it all. Even though we’ve done all this prepping, there’s a lot you can’t learn until you are actually married. So now, we count down the days until the wedding!

Random Tip

Grab a book! This one was SO fun for us! We got this book as a gift from my God Parents and loved it. It has 135 questions to ask your spouse and we finished it probably in the span of 3 to 4 months. Some of the questions were random and we were like, why would we need to know this? Ha! For example your favorite movie and why- simple silly questions. Then there were conversational ones like “Will you be sharing bank accounts and social media accounts after marriage?” “What would you do if your spouse voted for the opposite presidential candidate as you?” The more serious questions. I recommend getting a book like the one we got because 1. It’s fun 2. They’re conversations you need to have and 3. It makes for great conversation and quality time. I linked a few more that look interesting if you want to try!

I hope you guys enjoyed today’s post, but most of all I hope you understand it. Why I think working on your relationship is important and also why I strongly recommend pre-marital counseling. What I don’t want you to think is that people who don’t do it are failing themselves or their relationships. Not at all! To each their own. I have some friends who skipped it because 1. financial reasons 2. They didn’t think of it 3. They preferred to do research on their own and read books. So with that being said… did you skip it? Did you do it? Do you still use tools you learned? Let me know!

XO,

Danielle Alana

 

The Engagement Gift Guide

This unfortunately doesn’t make up for any of the gift guides I missed during the holiday season, but this one is probably my favorite I’ve done so far! Whether your best friend is engaged, your sister, or your work friend, this is a guide for the perfect engagement gift for that newly engaged bride-to-be. Now that we’ve been engaged for some time, I thought it was appropriate to throw this together since engagement season is around the corner. Not only that, but I got some pretty great gifts at our engagement party that I love. Most couples do not have a wedding registry by the time they’re engaged, so this is a great excuse to grab an adorable gift before having to buy must-have registry items. Our engagement party was on the day we got engaged, so we definitely didn’t have one! Here is some inspiration and cute ideas for the bride-to-be and her groom. Of course it is classic to bring a bottle of champagne, but these are more fun!

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 2.42.10 PM.png


1. Bling Brush

I love all of these things but I especially love this! This Bling Brush is basically an on-the-go ring cleaner. The champagne bottle is the perfect engagement gift because it is SO cute, and then inside is that brush that every bride will want to use! When we were first engaged I can’t tell you how many times I was asked for people to see my ring. I still get asked for people to see my ring! She can stick it in her purse and have it handy for those moments when it needs a quick cleaning. I’m sharing an up close of how I use this on my Instagram stories today and saving it to my wedding highlight because I know this product will get a ton of love.

2. & 3. Ring Dish and Ring Tray

Number 2 is exactly what I got as an engagement gift from my sister! She has it and uses it every night so she thought I could use one too. I rub my eyes a ton, so for the most part I take my ring off before I go to sleep. Other times I don’t remember because I’m just too tired, ha! The ring tray is also perfect and can be used by both the bride and groom. Keep it by the bathroom sink and slip it off before hopping in the shower. Everyone is really different when it comes to rings— some people never take it off and others take it off at least once a day. I sometimes take mine off when I sleep if I remember, and I will take it off when I have a lot of dishes too and sometimes showers. It’s helpful to have these around the house so you have a designated place to put them since you do not want to lose your bling!

4. Milestone Drinks

This is also a gift that I got and love! I was gifted four bottles of wine by one of my nanny families, and each has a celebratory label on it. We have a bottle of wine to open on our first wedding anniversary, our first baby, our first big purchase and also our first Christmas (I think). This is perfect if you wanted to gift a bottle of alcohol, it adds a little something to it and makes it more fun. They have a variety of labels so depending on the couple you can mix and match different milestones and get however many you want!

5. Girlfriend to Fiance

I got a few shirts as gifts as well that all said Fiance or fun sayings on them. Since a ring isn’t enough (haha!) this shirt was fun to wear the first week after getting engaged places and can also be used later on during wedding planning! Bachelorette party shirt, and a keepsake for when you get upgraded again to wife. I’m definitely keeping all of mine as pajama shirts and its fun to look back on after planning is over!

XO,

Danielle Alana

Why i want to start being healthy

IMG_0674.JPG

Happy Friday friends! It’s the first Friday of the year and it feels GOOD. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m still on the new year binge and loving seeing everyone’s goals and what everyone’s up to. Some people get annoyed with it fast, but it’s one of my favorite times of the year because I’m so inspired, especially now. SO many wonderful things are happening with Danielle Alana this year and I can’t wait to show you all. In my first blog post of the year for 2019, which if you missed you can read here, I talked about being more healthy. So in today’s post I am going to go into the “why” part of it and get really personal!

While we’re on the topic of being healthy, I wanted to show you guys this water bottle I found before the New Year started and talk about it a little bit. I drink out of water bottles all the time, and I know plenty of other people do too. The fridge at my house has a water filter so mine is pretty much ready to go. But if you ask Tim, I literally hate drinking tap water. There’s nothing worse! He doesn’t have a fridge with a water filter, so I ALWAYS make him grab my water from the one he keeps in the fridge that’s filtered. When out and about, I cringe even more re-filling mine up! I think mostly what makes me so scared is because of the research behind tap water and what not. This Astrea Water Bottle helps me to get my water from anywhere without question. It’s the first one to be lead reducing AND it gives me great tasting water. You may be seeing me carry this around more often, so I wanted to give you a little back story and why I’m using this bottle in particular.

1. For My Future Babies

Being a nanny, you have to know I love kids by now! I’ve wanted to be a mom so bad my entire life, and now the idea of this is becoming more of a reality. Your decisions and life choices, including your health choices, effect your children big time. Before we start trying for babies, its really important that both Tim and I get into healthier habits. Healthier eating, and making fitness apart of our lives. I touched on this in my 2018 recap blog post, which you can read here. I know a lot of stuff goes out the window after having children, so I really want to make those things stick.

2. For US.

For Tim and I. For each other. Nowadays, I feel like it is so easy to let yourself go down a rabbit hole of bad choices. In marriages too, when life gets too busy, you forget to take care of yourself let alone take care of your partner. When talking about our future together, our relationship is a number one priority and for that to take place, we need to be in tip top shape as well. Being/getting healthy is a priority for also the sake of ourselves! It’s our job to take of our bodies and be responsible when it comes to this duty.

3. For Me

You probably saw this one coming! But in all seriousness, I owe it to myself to take care of me— mentally and physically. I don’t want to be the one who has a hard time recovering from something because I wasn’t physically in shape. Or have to go on a crazy diet because I let myself go too far. Not only that, but my body is eventually going to be a future home for our future children for 9 months. The LEAST I could do is properly treat and take care of my body.

Like I said in my post earlier this week, this has been a goal every year and has never quite really been accomplished. But there’s no more time for excuses. I’ve put this off long enough, and now I’m really excited about it! I know I won’t ever be perfect at it, and that I have a long journey ahead of me, but hey… this is a start, right? Cheers loves!

XO,

Danielle Alana

Wedding Diary #2 | Halfway There

Wedding Diary #2 coming in hot! When I wrote my first wedding diary pretty much immediately after getting engaged, I was SO ahead of the game. I felt confident, ready, and super prepared for pretty much everything. Well, that was 3-4 months ago at this point and I can tell you right now I am feeling the COMPLETE opposite. I feel really stressed, behind, and worried. Here is an updated checklist and a side by side comparison to Wedding Diary #1 update.

Wedding Diary #1 Checklist, September 2018

Wedding Diary #1 Checklist, September 2018

Wedding Diary #2 Checklist, January 2019

Wedding Diary #2 Checklist, January 2019

to purchase this spreadsheet, click here.

Ok, not side by side photos. You’d think if I have a blog that I’d be pretty tech savvy but it’s actually the complete opposite! Anyways, the first checklist is what I had crossed off this list back in September, literally 19 days after being engaged. You can read my first Wedding Diary here. The second one is my most recent checklist as of now, January 2019. It’s probably just me (since I’m such a huge planner) but I feel like I’ve BARELY got anything done since the last time I updated you guys! Hence why I feel really stressed out and also worried. Here’s the thing: holidays are great and all but not when you’re in the midst of wedding planning! All the festivities completely through me off my wedding planning train and now I’m just trying to get back up to speed. But for a type A personality girl, it feels like the end of the world!

Ok, ok. I can’t be that hard on myself, I know! Everyone deserves to celebrate the holidays and relax no matter what is going on. With that being said, I will give you updates on what has been crossed off the list since we chatted last about all things wedding.

Save the Dates

IMG_8637.JPG

Our Save the Dates are out! In case you missed it, I shared our cards in this blog post here, explaining the company we went with, and of course what they look like! Minus a few hiccups with getting those out, aka sending some to the wrong addresses, I was relieved to get those sent to all our family and friends. Which brings me to my next thing we crossed off which was…

Engagement Photos

402A9924.jpeg

I was SO excited to finally get these crossed off, mostly because I just wanted to see what they looked like and show them off! Our wedding photographer, Dakai Reyes, BLEW us away with how incredible these photos turned out. It made me even more excited about the wedding since (to me) the photos are the biggest deal! Aside from of course getting married to Tim ;) Also side note: Dakai and I are NOT related, we just happen to have the same last name! I will be sharing a majority of our engagement photos on my upcoming blog post about Pre-Marital counseling, so stay tuned for that— but until then, here is a little peak!

Wedding Invitations

Along with Save the Dates and engagement photos comes wedding invites! I got a little ahead of myself, invites have not been sent out yet. BUT, the order is placed and I’m waiting patiently with our customized stamps ready to go and get them out. You’ll notice on the checklist that it says 2 months before, but we are sending out invites (hopefully, depending on when they get here) the first week of February so it’ll be 4 months ahead. With our venue, we need final numbers almost a month before the wedding, and you know there are always people who send the RSVPS in late so we need plenty of time to do all the logistics.

Hair & Makeup

Besides dress shopping, the engagement party, and basically everything else this has been probably my favorite part so far! My Makeup Artist is booked for the big day and after 2 trials we got the perfect look down. I shared it on my Instagram stories back in November I believe and I got SO MANY compliments. I was overwhelmed with how many replies I was getting to my stories, which just reassured me even more that the look was perfect for the wedding. As far as hair goes, my girls are booked! In two weeks Tim and I are taking a road trip to Arizona for my hair trial! If you’re on Instagram as much as me, you’ve probably seen a ton of this salon. Two lovely ladies from Habit Salon will be flying down for the wedding and I’m so stoked! I booked them before getting a trial because let’s be real… the work is amazing, I don’t need proof! But I’ll be doing a trial just to play around and finalize the style I want.

The Wedding Dress

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail because I’ve talked a lot about this already! I got my wedding dress and it should be here in less than a month. February we will start alterations and I get to try it on again which makes me smile from ear to ear! I’ve never felt more special in this dress you guys, you have no idea. I’ve been tempted more then a few times to post a picture of it but I know that is so bad. Instead I stare at it every night and just get excited! If you want to see and get an idea though, head over to this blog post to see what I look like in a wedding dress! Also, all of my bridesmaids officially have there dresses after going and trying them on so that is one more thing crossed off the list!

Rehearsal Dinner

It’s going to be a big one! As most of you know, our bridal party including flower girls and ring bears is quite large. We’re at over 30 people which means more at the rehearsal dinner! We got this set and booked at our venue the night before and invitations for this have also been ordered. I’ll be sending these out in April/May and they are literally just waiting in a box to be delivered, ha! Mexican food is my comfort food and also my favorite, so we’ll be having a fiesta the night before to get ready for the big day.

I definitely didn’t touch on everything that has happened since my last diary, but I wanted to make sure I touched on the important stuff that has since been planned. The point of these diaries was to keep you all updated on the wedding process, how things have been going so far, and also as something to look back on for me that will forever be here on my blog. Since our engagement is a total of 9 months, I’m rounding up 4 posts and it is hard to believe that this is my second one. In other words, this means I’m halfway done! Which also means, we’re halfway to the wedding. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again- I’ve been dreaming of this day for a long time. Now it’s here and happening. No more wondering on who I’m going to marry— it’s Tim! And wedding details, no more wondering and worrying because it’s being planned and it’s also happening! In the midst of being stressed and worried throughout all of this, I try to remember these little details and how I really am going to miss this so much. So if you’re engaged or about to be married, my tip for you is soak it in- the good and the bad! It’ll be over before you know it. So cliche, but after hearing it a million times I finally understand it.

Another wedding diary will be coming around March or April, so stay tuned! Until then you can follow me on Instagram here and be on the lookout for updates.

XO,

Danielle Alana

New Year, New You! Let's Get Organized

IMG_0584.JPG

Anyone struggle here with being organized? If so, I’m (sorta) with you. You’re probably wondering why I’m doing this blog post since ALL I talk about is how organized I am. I share my planner with you guys, how I decorate it, how much is planned and the whole thing. Well… I’m going to let you in on a little secret! 1. I don’t have it all together 2. I’m organized, but only when it comes to certain things. 3. I’m still learning how to be organized all the time, not just sometimes.

It physically pains me to write this as funny as that sounds, but it does! I TOTALLY get on my high horse sometimes when everything is planned… for the week. Then Saturday comes and I’m frantic thinking about the next week and what needs to get done. Not only that, but recently I’ve been forgetting important things. Twice in the past two months have I had work on a night and the family texts me to reconfirm the sit and I’m like… I’m working tomorrow night? Since when? This isn’t in my planner? Both times were 100% my fault. I agreed to work and then NEVER wrote them down! Lucky for me, both nights I had no plans so I was able to play it off and show up to work just fine. But that just isn’t like me at all! Getting into a daily and weekly routine is something I want to get better at, because I already have one it just really needs improvement.

Normally I would give tips and help YOU guys get organized, but we’re in this together this time. I have a few that I’m interested in trying/have been practicing that I’m going to share, but I want to hear what YOU guys do to keep it together and what you’re practicing, especially since the new year just hit and we are all in the mode to do so!

Plan Plan Plan

My Erin Condren Planner is my holy grail, and the one time I lost it I actually felt lost in life, lol! This has everything in it— my appointments, my work schedule, our plans, important dates, numbers, you name it it is in inside. Until I become an actual mother, this is my baby! I always try to make things fun so adding decorations like stickers and fun colors are what gets me excited about this.

Wake Up & Go

Every. Morning. You will hear my alarm clock go off and then hear me get out of bed about 30 minutes later. I purposely set my alarm for earlier since I know myself and I need that time to just lay in bed and be awake. I will admit though, it is a terrible habit. Like I said, writing this out and admitting this is painful ha! Getting out of the habit of laying in bed has been really hard, especially since we are in winter and my bed is just the coziest thing ever in the early hours of the day. I’m old school and I use an actual alarm clock— yes, you read correctly. I use a clock that isn’t my phone for an alarm. Crazy right? I’ve been thinking about switching to my phone lately and instead of having it next to my bed, putting it on the opposite side of the room so I’m forced to get up. Having an actual alarm clock has made it easy to just press a button and roll back over, so in this case I would be having to physically move. Ugh.

What Phone?

Another terrible habit! I grab my phone as I’m ready to wakeup, and then fast forward 30 minutes and I’m rushing to get ready and out the door. I could easily waste all day being on my phone and starting my mornings off with it has made mornings more bumpy then they need to be. Deleting my phone time and having self control- meaning no Instagram and other social media apps are gone in my mornings! This has helped my mornings be more calm and also not as rushed. This may be just me, but I also feel more motivated and refreshed not looking at it. Sometimes it can be a comparison game and I get caught up in the morning and then I’m instantly unmotivated for the day. Looking at all of this later has been helpful for getting up and starting my day.

I’m all ears! I want to hear about what you are doing to get organized in the New Year’s and hear your resolutions. I talked about mine here and here so now it’s your turn! Leave me a comment or shoot me a DM over on Instagram and let’s chat- goals, resolutions, or we can just complain to each other about how hard adulting is—let’s be real!

XO,

Danielle Alana