Overcommunication is exactly what your marriage could benefit from

That means we have to start getting real—with ourselves and our partners.

Overcommunication is exactly what your marriage could benefit from

You know what we do that doesn’t get us very far in our relationships?

We make covert agreements and have covert expectations of others. Pay attention here, it’s a good one.

So what are covert agreements and expectations?

They’re essentially the unspoken agreements and expectations we have of the relationship and our partners—they’re agreements we haven’t *actually* made, yet we expect them to be met. (You see how this is getting tricky already?!) Now, we can make covert agreements with just about anyone; it doesn’t just show up in our romantic relationships:

“If I work really hard and put in overtime, my boss will notice and I will get a bonus.”


“If I massage your feet and make you dinner, we will have sex later.”

“If I go on this date with you, you will pay for dinner.”

“It’s the weekend, you will let me sleep in.”

“If I stay up with the baby tonight, you’ll stay up with her next time.”

These are some classic examples of covert expectations and agreements we have, but what happens when they get a bit more in-depth? What happens when our agreements involve our love languages, triggers and unhealed wounds?

As you’ve probably experienced before, you get let down, disappointed and frustrated.

Sometimes you begin to question whether the other person even cares or loves you; maybe you wonder how they could POSSIBLY think that what they’re doing is “fair.”

When we make covert agreements we really set ourselves and our relationships up for major miscommunications and misunderstandings, which then, often lead us to feeling disconnected and like we’re failing in our relationships. It creates an opportunity for conflict which can often lead us further away from one another.

So where do we start and what can we do differently?

This really does take, what will first feel like, over communication. Part of shifting out of this space is shifting towards clear and concise agreements where both parties are essentially consenting.

We can only do this when we’re clear on what it is we need and expect and what the other person needs and expects, too.

That means we have to get real with ourselves. It means we have to be willing to address and label what it is we need in order to feel loved, respected, honored and supported. It means that we challenge ourselves away from the things that keep us internalizing things, staying quiet and silently hoping for different outcomes.

Too many people get caught in the space of hoping for different outcomes, hoping that their partner will be able to mind read and “just do it” (and...get it right).

Unfortunately, that’s just now how it works.

Take a few moments to think about where in your relationships you feel let down. Identify where you wish your partner (or any relationship) would do things differently.

What expectations do you have of your partner, friends, employer, employees, or family? Have you voiced those expectations or kept them silent?

  • Write out five expectations you generally have every week. Some may be fairly simple and straightforward and others may be far more complex.
  • Once you’ve done that you get to share those expectations and agreements with the other (fun, I know!)
  • Find a time to tell the other person what your covert agreements have been and that you’re working on being clear with expectations.
  • Ask them to do the same so that you both have a better shot at fulfilling on them.

Some expectations will be easy to meet, while others may not be something that you or they will agree to (that’s totally okay). It just creates a space to have a conversation around those agreements and shift the expectations.

Moving covert agreements out into the open isn’t just about getting all of our expectations met. We get checked sometimes, for sure. But it opens up space in order for us to have the conversations that create clarity and understanding. It’s such a great move in the right direction. Try it this week!

Originally posted on Mindful Marriage & Family Therapy.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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