Are Different Definitions Messing with your Marriage?

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a few days back, my husband and i were getting ready for bed (which now occurs at 8:30pm because we have a baby). since i can remember, we do this thing where whoever gets to the bathroom first to brush their teeth will put toothpaste on the other person’s toothbrush.

i noticed that my husband had already brushed his teeth but my little toothbrush remained bone dry and without anti-cavity gel on its bristles. i jokingly said to him, “well…i guess our honeymoon phase is officially over,” as i squeezed toothpaste on to my own toothbrush.

he immediately sat up in bed and wondered why on earth i would ever say such a terrible thing! i laughed but he was super serious.

this lead into a discussion of whether or not we are still in the “honeymoon phase” of our marriage. we have been together for almost 10 years and married since september 2010. according to google, a typical ‘honeymoon phase’ lasts a few months to maybe a year or two after getting married.

he was arguing that we are absolutely still in the honeymoon phase and i was saying that now that we are parents – i feel like it officially passed. he was getting upset and almost offended that i didn’t think we were still in this phase of our relationship and i couldn’t believe that he actually thought we still were. this carried on for a while until i took a step back and asked him an important question:

“how do you define the honeymoon phase?”

game changer question here people.

to him, the honeymoon phase is all about feeling excitement and adventure with your spouse.

to me, the honeymoon phase is a time when you discover more about each other. you are in the exciting time of exploring each other physically, emotionally and mentally. there is still a mystery to it all.

i wasn’t in agreement with him because to me, we are on such a deeper level in our relationship now, that according to my definition we couldn’t still be in that phase. i mean, once your spouse literally pulls your child from your loins – most stones have been unturned.

however to him, our marriage is still full of excitement and adventure so he was hurt that he didn’t think i felt that too.

i share this with you not to get into a debate of what the true definition of the honeymoon phase is but rather to call out the fact that we may be defining things differently than our partner.

next time you are in a disagreement with your spouse – think about whether there could be a misunderstanding when it comes to defining certain words or phrases. this could be when one of you says, “i need you to spend more time with me” –  ‘more time’ is subjective. or maybe “i want to feel more intimate with you” – what does intimacy look like for each of you? or heck, it could even be “leave me some damn girl scout cookies!” well, how many cookies??? 1, 3 or 7?

take the time to pause and further expand on what you are needing or wanting so that different definitions don’t mess with your marriage!

i would like the record to state that yes, according to my husband’s definition, we are certainly still in the honeymoon phase! plus, taking a honeymoon every year helps the case too!

how to take good couples pictures ryan and chelsea avery


  1. Elyse @ JustMurrayed

    February 22, 2017 at 9:05 am

    I think you’ve found your creative voice again, Chelsea! Loved this post, it’s something to think about too! I think that my husband and I are still in the honeymoon phase even after 15 years but maybe that’s because we haven’t had the most typical of relationships.

    I’m definitely going to be asking my husband this to see what his answer is. I’m sure we’ll have an awesome discussion.

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      i do feel like it’s coming back, slowly but surely. thank you for noticing elyse and for sticking around 🙂 i love to hear that you and your husband are still in the honeymoon phase after 15 years! it all comes down to how you define it 🙂

      • Elyse @ Just Murrayed

        February 26, 2017 at 8:43 pm

        Asked my husband on Friday if we were still in the honeymoon phase, and he looked at my like I had 3 heads and said, “Of course! Why wouldn’t we be?”
        Elyse @ Just Murrayed recently posted…Our Past, Present And Future

  2. Audrey

    February 22, 2017 at 9:13 am

    I know we’ve definitely had misunderstandings when using the same term or phrase. Or me expecting him to do something, but he took it as a totally different request (or suggestion). Haha.
    I’m glad you guys cleared the honeymoon thing up 😉
    Audrey recently posted…Fly Me to the Moon (or don’t… please, don’t)

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      ah yes, another good point of expecting something to be done a certain way and they take it as something else! glad we cleared up the honeymoon thing too because wooweee was mr. WS getting maaaaad

  3. Penny

    February 22, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Chelsea you are soooooo smart. what a great topic. actually besides the “honeymoon phase” this topic could apply to anyone and any relationship whether marriage, friendship, co-workers etc. we all have words we use and we all have an understanding of those words that might be totally different from the person that we are speaking with and what we or they hear. i hear one thing, you hear something else all in the same conversation or topic. thank you so much for writing this. i am going to try to be more aware of this especially with my roommate because we often times get into arguments because we are not on the same page of a conversation because we have a different understanding of what is said and what we hear and understand. i hope what i am writing makes sense??? anyway thank you chelsea. have a good day. great topic!!!

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      thank you penny and you are so right! this can apply to any and ALL relationships! love that you are going to be more aware of this with your roommate – that is great. it makes total sense. hope you are having a great day too penny 🙂
      chelsea recently posted…Are Different Definitions Messing with your Marriage?

  4. Claire

    February 22, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Ditto to what Penny said! This post is great for all sorts of relationships.

    Note to self: clarify terms/sentences/meanings once you start to feel confusion as to why the other person is responding x way.

    Happy ‘Honeymooning’ 🙂

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      indeed it is, claire! i suppose really any time we use words with another human – it can work 🙂

      hope you are well!
      chelsea recently posted…Are Different Definitions Messing with your Marriage?

      • Claire

        February 27, 2017 at 11:11 am

        Thank you! All good over here 🙂 Same to you.

  5. Sara

    February 22, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I think that a lot of arguments boil down to some kind of communication problem. Asking questions and digging deeper is such a great way to clear up confusion and make sure you understand what the other is thinking and feeling.
    Sara recently posted…Date Night Bucket List

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:43 pm

      you are spot on sara – SO much comes down to communication problems. asking questions (without the accusatorial tone) is essential.

  6. chelsea jacobs

    February 22, 2017 at 11:23 am

    THIS IS SO BIG. I can’t think of a specific example at the moment, but I know Chris and I have gotten into arguments and gotten upset over things simply because we were both talking about two separate things in our mind.
    chelsea jacobs recently posted…I Always Want to Remember 2017: Part Two.

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      it’s crazy, isn’t it?! i was honestly like – “ravery! you are being insane to think we are still here” and he was like “YOU are insane and it makes me sad you think we aren’t!” hello miscommunication

    • Marilyn Jess

      February 27, 2017 at 5:19 am

      You’re just seeing things from different vantage points. It took me a long time to recognize that all points are valid.

      • chelsea

        March 16, 2017 at 9:03 am

        great point, marilyn! all points are indeed valuable 🙂

  7. Sheila

    February 23, 2017 at 11:17 am

    I LOVE that Mrs New Wifestyle and her hubby are still in the Honeymoon Phase — even if its only by his definition! This post sets such a great example for other couples to check in with each other to keep up positive communication. Thank you for sharing.
    Sheila recently posted…Truth or Do I Dare Fiction?

    • chelsea

      March 16, 2017 at 9:00 am

      thank you sheila for your comment! it does help to check in with our partners to make sure we are positively communicating!

  8. Vivien

    February 23, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    I really admire the fact you had the wherewithal to step back and ask for the definitions! I think a lot of us don’t and end up having an argument based around two different definitions without realizing both parties may have different definitions!

    Eye opener indeed! Thank you for sharing and teaching us!
    Vivien recently posted…Almost a Champ Again

    • chelsea

      March 16, 2017 at 9:01 am

      i too was very glad it popped into my mind to ask “wait. what do you think the honeymoon phase is??” way to go brain 🙂 ha! happy it was also an eye-opener for you too vivien, i will definitely be considering it more and more!

  9. Jennifer Haston

    February 23, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    ooh excellent post!!! I love that you posted this! The words we use matter so much! Just had a very spirited discussion with my husband about definitions and “asking for what you want”.. It wasn’t a fight, it was a calibration conversation. I have to say that I like both of your takes on this! I personally feel the “honeymoon phase” means that you would marry them all over again and be happy to have a “second honeymoon”. (Thanks for that, I had never really thought about what it meant to me!)

    • chelsea

      March 16, 2017 at 9:02 am

      love your definition of your honeymoon phase, jennifer! i like the idea of marrying them over and over again!

  10. Amberly

    February 24, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    I think the idea of definitions goes right along with the idea of expectations in marriage! You have to communicate about them in order to be on the same page.
    Amberly recently posted…Stuck on You Date Night from Crated with Love

    • chelsea

      March 16, 2017 at 9:03 am

      right you are, amberly! and admittedly, it can be hard to refocus that communication when emotions come into play!

  11. Marilyn Jess

    February 27, 2017 at 5:17 am

    How beautiful of Ryan to believe you two are still in your honeymoon phase. It’s made me think about how marriage is like a diamond, which you see from different angles as you move through the years. Many facets are revealed during marriage. After more than 40 years, in our case, I Still have a halo around Jim–I don’t see the physical changes so much. Instead, the love grows as we age. I wish the same for you two.

    • chelsea

      March 16, 2017 at 9:05 am

      really beautiful metaphor with the diamond and marriage, marilyn! so true that many facets have already been revealed to us now and they will keep shinning new light in new areas as we grow. so happy to hear your love grows with jim, marilyn. that makes my heart smile!

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  13. Christina @ Hugs and Lattes

    March 13, 2017 at 6:57 am

    I love love love this! I am fo’sho still in the honeymoon phase and I’m going to embrace that 100%! I love how you take a different approach to your discussion, htough, by changing the perspective on the definition. I love that Ryan still sees your marriage as a honeymoon phase – and I like his definition too! I think marriage should grow deeper roots the longer you are together, but that it’s important to work at keeping the adventure and spontaneity alive.
    Christina @ Hugs and Lattes recently posted…Publishing for Yourself

    • chelsea

      March 16, 2017 at 9:07 am

      oh you are foooor suuuure still in ALL definitions of the honeymoon phase, christina! yay! totally agree with what you said in terms of our roots growing deeper the longer we are together but still keeping the adventure alive! wonderfully said

  14. Larysa Happiness Archaeologist

    March 15, 2017 at 2:21 am

    Hi, Sooooo I came here originally because I was again searching the very FEW women who have won Toastmasters competitions and FINALLY found someone else talking about it!

    I’m not exceedingly expert at the blog world- but I couldn’t find a place to reply on the others so figured I had to find a more recent one- and this seems to leave the space and I LOVE it! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to define things with people. There are some words I find this recurs for. “Passion” is one so many people use very differently. In one of my grad school classes way before it was being talked about as much as these days- people kept throwing the word “racist” around- and I finally said “ok what do YOU MEAN when you say that word” so everyone went around the room giving their definition. It was massively interesting…. so I think there is room for this all around!

    Annnd back to my thesis- hope it’s ok to talk about it here.
    So my first thought reading your original post about TM and lack of women- and how much you coached your husband- I first thought- maybe less women win because their husbands aren’t behind them the way you were. I am picturing a husband on the couch watching “the game” asking for dinner while his wife is trying to work on “her white board wall” and asking his opinion while he just mumbles “mmhmm.” Thankfully the biggest group of awesome husbands I have seen is through my church and I bet they would totally support our wives. It also makes me think about the culture of women being “the support” and the men often being “the show.” I’ve also often thought of how many people think women should be the cook in their family and yet often men are the celebrity chefs…what’s the deal….

    I also like to look at what women could improve on…have you seen the deodorant commercial with the girl in the bathroom mirror practicing what she’s going to say to get a raise? I’ve often wondered if part of the issue is that women notoriously have a hard time asking for what they want. In many areas of life. There’s that meme even about the boyfriend asking the girlfriend where she wants to eat and I think it’s the little video from the Notebook where she’s like “I don’t know” and he’s like “WHAT do you WANT?!” I think we could get better at setting and enforcing boundaries, learning negotiation skills, and being more assertive. Not expecting things to just be given to us because we are nice and maybe even deserve them. Even our waiters aren’t telepathic and we have to PLACE our order….

    I was also thinking about how guys are into power, fierceness, strength, where many women ….ok I even think of Instagram- the biggest thing I see for guys is building muscle at the gym (I do see some girls too but not as many) and what seem to be “dream boards” where they have expensive everything (like that matters in life) but either way they’d have to earn the money to get it…. then girls- the biggest thing I see— makeup. While I do LOVE makeup…. what do I notice from that- girls= looking good/being sexy. I gave a workshop where the semi-joking title was “Jesus never said thou shalt be sexy.” For guys it seems more about getting better/more/ climbing to the next level in achievement.

    I remember some video I think on Amazon Prime- a documentary about female comedians I believe called “Girls aren’t funny.” I think about how few female FUNNY comedians who also have any resemblance to the typical aesthetic…. usually the funniest females also have a funny “look.” And even in movies, often the “most beautiful” tend to be the least funny. Goofy for most seems antithetical to sexy… and I’d like to know who decided sexy had more value- because in my world laughs are MUCH better for your health than your ability to be featured on a poster.

    I hope i am not cut off by character limit lol

    In other news- I am planning on competing at my club’s international competition tonight as long as the roads are drivable after our giant storm.

    I also have thoughts on “potholes” in the road to female speaking- When I think of vocal anomalies- I mostly think of female varieties. The type of speech often cited to relate to Paris Hilton… which also seems an effort to again be sexy. Same “voice” that comedians use when taking on the character of a porn star or such. The speaking as if everything is a question? Valley girl speech, sounding “ditzy” etc. Even the equivalent male might be …. a commonly used word I don’t care to say here….even if he’s considered not a nice guy- the way he utilizes his voice is still considered more confident and grounded than the female flighty equivalent….

    So in my world- while I acknowledge there is a discrepancy and it may not be fair- I like to think of- ok what can be done to build strength where we are lacking to put ourselves on the same playing field? It surprises me that for America’s next warrior ninja or whatever that show is called with the very difficult obstacle course….that it’s the same for men and women when women’s bodies are quite different and almost always smaller… yet they do it- and it must be much harder for them especially when height helps and upper body strength which men have more of naturally.

    Just like in Rich Dad Poor Dad where Poor Dad says “we can’t afford it” and Rich Dad says “HOW can I afford it” I think… ok- there are hardly and women- HOW can we get in?
    Larysa Happiness Archaeologist recently posted…Corned Beef, Cabbage, Cooking Up A Storm

    • chelsea

      March 16, 2017 at 9:18 am

      hi larysa! thanks so much for your comment (i close the comments on posts older than 90 days because that’s where the spammers like to attack on my site 🙂 )

      hope you made it to your competition – woohoo! it is a really interesting thing about the lack of women winning the toastmasters competition. that’s one of the main reasons olivia schofield (who was the sole female finalist in 2011) started to create a community of women supporting each other while upping our speaking game!

      you bring up interesting points about man vs woman (especially the male celebrity chefs – i had never thought of that!) for me, when it came to ryan wanting to compete and me supporting him, i had zero interest in toastmasters, or making it to the world stage so instead i went ‘all in’ with him and helped him achieve that. he does the same for me but in less public ways (like moving to portland, oregon so i could get my master’s degree or spending countless hours helping me develop my website and content here). he has a stronger desire for the public sphere than i do (though i’m getting there).

      we talked a lot about this in vocal women webinars but it does come down to women entering the competition in the first place. then it comes into getting the support they need to invest the time necessary to go all in for the WCPS (this means more help with housework, child-rearing, errand running, etc – which i firmly believe should be happening anyway).

      we also noticed that women don’t ask to be coached as often as men do for the WCPS.

      regardless of gender, if the person is going after the WCPS solely for the trophy, that is the wrong reason and they won’t win!

      thanks for your comment and hope to see you up on the big stage!