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Are You Majoring in the Minors?

 

It's 4am and I am up in the quiet of the morning. I love the early morning and how peaceful and still it is. I have always been an early morning person and have never been able to understand people who don't like this time of day. I listen to people say that their day shouldn't start until 10am and I can't relate. However, I also can't relate to staying up until 2am and then going to bed. It's not that I go to bed super early but I would rather greet the day in the quiet of the early morning than stay up and watch one day end while another begins.

As you can imagine, I am married to a man who is not an early morning riser, although he does get up earlier than he did in the beginning of our marriage. He is the one to stay up reading after I am sound asleep and he is the one to sleep in on Saturday mornings. It used to be a problem in our marriage because our internal clocks worked so differently but now we accept that we just march to the beat of a different drummer in that area.

Thinking about this leads me to wonder how many couples focus on issues that only drain their energy and create conflict. How much does it matter that I am a morning person and my husband is a night owl? How much does it matter that I squeeze the toothpaste in the middle and he pushes it up from the bottom? How much does it matter that I don't care which way the toilet paper goes on the roll and he likes it to dispense rolling forward? How much does it matter that he likes to eat beets and I think beets were meant to stay in the ground?

Now, believe me when I say that Michael and I lived for many years in our marriage focusing on all the differences that bothered us. We poured great amounts of energy into arguments over little things that were never going to change. One day we realized that we were missing the value of who we were as individuals and not allowing each other's strengths and weaknesses to grow our relationship. You see, if we major in the minors then we will never grow as a couple. Focusing on all the little things that bug us means that every time we turn around, there is something to be upset about. Let's face it, if you want to be happy as a couple, then you have to learn to flow together in what you love about each other and what is difficult about each other. You have to keep in mind that the very things that drew you together and attracted you to your partner should not become the things that repel you from each other.

I encourage you to think about your relationships today. What are you focused on and is it possible that you are missing the greater things because you are caught in the minors? Is it possible that you are creating disconnection and distance because of your differences. What can you do today to focus on what's right and express that to those you love. I know for me, when Michael gets up at 6:30 am I will be there to greet him with a cup of coffee!!

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Saying Goodbye

It’s been a while since I have blogged – 11 months to be exact. I’m not fully sure why I stopped blogging except that I know I let life get in the way as is so easy to do. Sometimes it takes a big life moment for us to get back to doing something we haven’t paid attention to….I can’t say I will be blogging daily or even weekly but I do hope it will be more of a priority for me than it has been.

This blog was prompted by a recent life event that created great emotional pain for me. On Sunday, I had to say goodbye to my cat, TJ….now, if you aren’t a cat or animal lover, don’t judge me (as the scene from “Nacho Libre” runs through my mind). We rescued our cat a little over a year ago from a neighborhood fence. He was 8 weeks old and very timid and scared. I was sitting in the living room and heard him crying outside. Michael went and rescued him and brought him into our home. The minute he set foot in our house, it was like he belonged there. He started purring and snuggled up under my chin and that was it….he was ours. It has been an amazing year of watching him grow and seeing his personality develop. He truly was my cat and would wait by the door for me to come home if I had left the house. His warm greetings and deep purring warmed my heart. He just fit in and felt like one of us.

For several reasons that I won’t go into, Michael and I made the decision recently to find a good home for him. When Michael first brought it up, I was horrified!! NO WAY was TJ going to live somewhere else! He belonged with us and that was that. Michael was gentle about it and didn’t push the issue but as time went on, I knew it was best to listen with my head and not my heart. Last week was the moment of realization that it was time for TJ to live somewhere else and God was so gracious in finding the perfect home for him. We have an open adoption where we get pictures and texts on a daily basis and can visit him any time we want. He is adjusting quite well and appears to truly love his new adoptive parents. Although this feels good, it also feels sad….I would like to think he can only be happy with us 

I say all of that to make this point….letting go of him was like losing a part of myself. I must have cried for 4 hours straight and am even crying as I write this blog. When we love someone, we give away a part of ourselves to that person. We don’t even realize how much or how deeply we love until we face the threat of losing that person. The emotional pain involved in saying goodbye is excruciating. At times, it feels like we will physically fall apart as we grieve the loss.  

Yesterday as I was missing TJ and wondering how he was doing and I had a deep thought – I get those once in a while! What would it be like if I had to say goodbye to my husband? What if he died and I didn’t have him in my life anymore. Let me tell you, having thoughts like that really brings home how much people mean to you. Every day we can get caught in the small petty things that create conflict in our relationships but when we think about that person not being in our life anymore, it brings things into perspective. We need to value and cherish the “gifts” people are in our lives because one day they will not be there and we will have to grieve the loss of them.

What can you do today to show those in your life that you love and cherish them? What can you do to stop looking at all that is wrong and rejoice in what is right? Take some time today to thank those people for their contribution to your world. They matter. Don’t wait until they are gone to wish you had done something different. Today is the day to change that! I love you, TJ…..

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Celebrate!

Today is my birthday and for one of the first times in a long time, I feel excited to celebrate. Even if I don’t receive one gift or one “happy birthday,” I have come to the conclusion that I am worth celebrating just because I value myself. 

Over the years, I have struggled with my birthday not because I am getting older (well, maybe that plays a small part) but because I don’t want to be disappointed and let down.  When I think back over the years, I remember being younger and being so excited about my birthday. I remember anticipating the celebration and wondering what might happen. Sometimes my expectations were met and sometimes I was deeply disappointed.  Over time, I became complacent and tried not to put much effort into wondering what might happen because I didn’t want to feel disappointed.  It seemed easier to expect nothing great would happen on my birthday than to expect something wonderful would take place.

I think all of us are like that if we are honest with ourselves. We want to be celebrated….we want others to show us they care…..we want to be valued and appreciated even if it is only for one day yet we don’t want to feel disappointment and so we let go of our expectations and try to fool ourselves into expecting nothing.  Birthdays become just another day instead of a celebration of the beginning of our life.      

The same thing can happen in marriage. You begin your marriage with high expectations and hope that every day you will wake up and feel appreciated and valued.  Over time, you experience disappointment and your expectations aren’t met. You begin to feel discouraged and wonder if marriage will ever be what you imagined it to be.  You begin to let go of wanting something great to happen and each day becomes just another day to live through or endure. You stop looking for the little things that make you smile and you begin to focus on what isn’t there. Before you know it, you can’t find anything worth celebrating in your marriage. It becomes easier to expect nothing than to expect something wonderful to happen.

Just like celebrating our birthdays, celebrating marriage is about seeing the value in our relationships. It’s about looking for what is right and not focusing on what is wrong. It’s about finding the value in our covenant together and rejoicing even if we can’t see what to rejoice about with our natural eye.  It’s about taking a moment to say, “I will celebrate my marriage even if there are things I want to be different. I will take a moment today to be thankful. I will do my best today to expect great things to happen in my relationship!”    

You see, it doesn’t matter if your partner “gives you a gift” or says “our marriage is worth fighting for”……. what matters is that YOU make a choice to change the way you have been thinking and learn to celebrate your marriage. Oh, and we can’t just celebrate marriage for one day like a birthday….we have to celebrate our marriages every day.  If we are deliberate in doing that….we will see amazing things happen!!

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The "Marriage Bully"

Were you ever bullied when you were growing up? You know what I’m talking about. Was there ever a kid or group of kids in your school that made fun of you or belittled you and made you feel inadequate?  I remember a particular girl in my junior high school who was labeled the “popular kid.” She never had a good thing to say when she saw me.  I was born and raised for the first 12 years of my life on a farm and she was a city girl. She thought very little of country girls so she made fun of me whenever she could.  It was a horrible feeling to know she was going to say hurtful things and that no one in my class was going to challenge her. They knew if they did that she would start to do the same thing to them and they didn’t want that experience.  It didn’t matter how nice I was to her, she seemed to find some sort of pleasure in hurting me.

As I look back on that experience, I realize that this girl was very unhappy and it was easier for her to hurt me than to deal with her own issues. Hurting me distracted her from her own pain. In fact, if we were to look at the background of most bullies we would find they had traumatic and dysfunctional experiences. Joyce Meyer says it well when she says, “Hurting people hurt people.”     

As I thought about that experience and how painful it was for me, I realized that there is such a thing as a “marriage bully.” A marriage bully is someone who constantly picks on his/her spouse.  Frequently, the picking is due to his/her own issues and due to the fact that he/she hasn’t dealt with those issues. I am sad to admit that I was a marriage bully for many years.  There we so many things I didn’t like about myself and rather than deal with those things and change, it was just easier to harp at my husband to change.  It wasn’t until our marriage was headed for divorce that I realized I needed to look at myself and deal with my issues in order to see real change in our relationship.

I am grateful that God gave us another chance and that I seriously allowed God to help me work on my “stuff.”  You see, you will never have the marriage you want if your life is full of junk. You need to allow God to fix you first rather than beg Him to fix your partner. I love the way the Bible says it in The Message version, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults, unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

So, examine yourself today……are you a marriage bully? Do you pick at your spouse and harp about the things you want him/her to change or do you spend time looking at your own issues and working on changing those?  Maybe today is a good day to stop the bullying, pick up a washcloth and start scrubbing the dirt on your own face!

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The Joy of the Gift

I was watching Good Morning America on Thanksgiving morning eagerly awaiting my first glimpse of the Macy's Day Parade. I admit I have the heart of a 5 year-old waiting on Snoopy to grace the chilly New York City sky. During the course of my impatient waiting, the popular news show began their typical analysis of the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday; two words that either drive a person into fits of excitement at leaping over grannies and running off Thanksgiving calories in order to get the next best deal or rushing into hiding and praying that Monday would arrive sending the crazy people back to work. Among all the deals and reporting, one thing stood out to me. Dedicated people were camping out for days in front of certain stores. After I got over my initial shock and concern (oh my gosh, how do they charge up their cell phones from a tent?), I began to feel sad at how much effort some people are willing to put into getting a good deal. Now, don't start throwing bricks at me just yet. I'm all for a great deal especially when it comes to gas prices, coffee or dog costumes. There's nothing wrong with saving a little money but let me shake up your eggnog a little bit.

The elections just ended and during the campaigns, I heard a lot about the economy and how many people are out of work. There are more homeless people than ever before. Children are facing the loss of Christmas morning because mom and dad can't afford gifts this year. Many of us have recently lost family members and are facing our first Christmas without them. I started thinking about those people camped outside stores waiting to buy the next big screen television. I wondered how we could redirect that kind of commitment to getting the kind of joy not found in box. The joy I’m talking about comes from God and celebrating the birth of Jesus. The gift I’m talking about comes from giving from our hearts and not from our Visa cards. 

How do we do that? Amazing that you would ask right at this moment! We love people the way we want to be loved. It's easy (ask Hallmark they've made movies for years on this stuff).  Still need some ideas? Read on…..

Donate and Shop for Charity! The Family Lifeline has joined in partnership with 2500 businesses to give and counsel hurting families and make Christmas special for children. The best part of this is you can get involved and still go shopping without ever leaving your home! No tents, no long lines and the added bonus of helping people who wouldn't have had a reason to smile without you! All you need to do is visit www.Goodshop.com or www.Goodsearch.com with your shopping list and designate Family Lifeline as the charity. You get the discounts, they get the 20% to carry on the work behind the joy and you become an angel to a family in need. That's a game winner!

Share your Time! Volunteer to give a senior citizen a wonderful Christmas by spending time with someone elderly who would otherwise be alone. 

Volunteer to Serve! Local shelters are always in need of people to serve meals. Check out community centers, homeless shelters and church outreach programs for events. 

Get In and Drive! Start a clothing or a toy drive at your church, school, or business. Many people are willing to donate to make room for new stuff. This is a good one for kids because they will learn how to share at a young age. 

Be a friend! Find a family that is struggling with the loss of a loved one or job and bring them dinner or invite them out. Arrange a game night and watch the laughter pour out. 

The options are endless and your heart and wallet will be more fulfilled then you ever dreamed! 

So how did my Thanksgiving end? The parade was a hit, the turkey was sleep-inducing and “Black Friday” meant I slept in. I'm shopping online in my pajamas, coffee in hand, and can't wait until my dogs get a look at those reindeer costumes I found them online! Merry Christmas and Happy Giving! And don't forget to visit www.goodsearch.com and www.goodshop.com and designate The Family Lifeline, Inc. as the charity you want to give to so they can help families!

(A special thank you to our guest blogger today, Onyx Conklin, for this amazing insight to the joy of giving!)

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Are You a Mind Reader?

How many of you watched “America’s Got Talent” this summer? Did you happen to see “Diddleman” do his mind reading acts? He was really quite amazing in the way he could figure out what the judges would be thinking when they did the tasks he asked them to complete.  Each time he did an act, I thought to myself, there is no way he will be able to predict this one. But to my surprise, each time he accurately read the minds of the judges and astonished us all. 

I remember thinking to myself how helpful it would be if we actually could read people’s minds. Wouldn’t it make life easier if we knew what people were thinking? Wouldn’t we eliminate miscommunication in relationships if we could see into each other’s minds? Wouldn’t we be able to really understand each other instead of guess at some of what is said or done?

It didn’t take me long to realize that this wouldn’t be such a great thing at all. Many times I am thinking about things that I need to deal with before any of them come out of my mouth. If my husband could read my mind then it wouldn’t give me a chance to edit my thoughts and deal with my issues before engaging in conversation. This could be disastrous to my relationships.   

Keeping this in mind, how many couples try to read each other’s minds? Many couples have such automatic responses to each other that they think they know what the other is thinking or feeling before each of them says a word.  Sometimes they get it right and this reinforces their thinking that they can actually read each other’s minds.  However, many times they get it wrong and this ends up creating arguments.  It also eliminates the chance of making changes in a relationship. When we are working with couples who are trying to do something new in their relationships, mind reading is a HUGE issue in moving forward.  We actually keep each other stuck in the past when we think we know what our partner is thinking or feeling.  Mind reading doesn’t give us a chance to change the way we would automatically respond to each other.  In addition, mind reading doesn’t allow us to really hear each other and hearing each other is the key to healthy communication. 

So, let’s leave the mind reading to “Diddleman” and stick to really listening to each other and hearing what we are saying. This is much more productive for those of us who really don’t have the ability to read minds.  Take a minute today and think about how you interact with your spouse. Do you “practice” mind reading or do you really pay attention to the words that come out of your spouse’s mouth. Today’s a good day to resign from mind reading and really listen to your partner.

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Til Debt Do Us Part

If you’re having money issues, you’re having relationship issues! Financial stress is the top cause of relationship failure. The chorus line of a song I listened to when I was a teenager sums it up: “Love Won’t Pay the Rent…” Couples who responded to a recent USA TODAY poll said that spending too much and saving too little were the leading causes of relationship friction. Fifty-seven percent of divorced couples in the United States cited financial problems as the primary reason for the demise of their marriages, according to a survey conducted by Citibank. 

Money issues were one of the major stressors in my marriage. For twenty years Michael and I disagreed and fought over everything from the smallest purchase to the amount of debt we were struggling to manage. My way of handling money issues was to control all the finances; Michael’s way was to avoid any financial problem. It wasn’t until we agreed to go to a money management class (Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey) that we realized what we were doing to our relationship. I’m happy to say that after working on this and becoming a team, we rarely disagree anymore in the financial area. 

As unromantic as it may sound, it is absolutely crucial that couples learn to communicate effectively and honestly about finances (and of course other issues too!).  It is never too late to start this process, whether you are preparing for a wedding or have already said “I Do!” The following tips can keep your relationship from becoming another statistic in the “till debt do us part” dynamic:

  • Communicate about your current situation. Tell your partner about any financial problems that you have. While this may be a hard thing to do, being honest now may prevent problems in your relationship down the road.
  • Discuss financial priorities. Discuss how you would like to spend your money in the future. Talk about the large and necessary costs as well as the recurrent leisure activities such as weekend entertainment and hobbies. After you prioritize your finances, create a budget around these costs that you both can agree to.
  • Discuss financial goals. Write out your individual short-term and long-term financial goals. Then, share the goals with your partner and discuss the similarities and differences. Remember, if you and your partner are headed in different directions, neither one of you will achieve your goals. Agreeing on your goals is agreeing on your values.
  • Plan to share financial responsibility. Both partners in a relationship must be aware of the overall financial situation. Plan monthly budget meetings to discuss your finances and keep files regarding accounts organized and accessible. Make all significant financial decisions together to help avoid unnecessary disagreements, disputes and communication problems.

    When you and your partner spend less time talking about bills and financial woes, you will have more time you can spend dreaming, laughing, enjoying each other's company and getting a good night's sleep.

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    He's Sexy and I Know It!

    I don't know about you, but I get really tired of so many sexually suggestive commercials and programs on TV.  In fact, some of the material is not even suggestive it's downright raunchy and in your face. We are constantly hammered with what Hollywood thinks is a sexy man or sexy woman. It seems like less clothing and big body parts are what they believe is sexy. I wonder if they even know what sexy means or if they truly understand the definition. One thing is for sure, Hollywood and the media believe that sexy is only about sex.

    When you think of sexy, what comes to mind? Do you think of certain physical characteristics? Do you think of certain clothing? Do you think of certain people; for example certain celebrities? What does it mean for something to be sexy? Webster's dictionary defines sexy as "generally attractive or interesting." If you continue reading you will find “sexually suggestive” is a part of the meaning of sexy but it isn't the major part. "Generally attractive or interesting" is the foundation of the definition for sexy.   

    My definition of sexy does not include physical characteristics or clothing or anything like that. Let me tell you what sexy is to me. Sexy is a man who loves God and serves God with all his heart.  Sexy is a man who lets God use him to help others heal from their pain. Sexy is a man who drops everything to pray for me because I am feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about a situation. Sexy is a man who reads his Bible and applies what he reads and takes the time to share what he is learning. Sexy is a man who takes the time to sit with me and hear my wishes and my dreams. Sexy is a man who rescues me when I'm feeling afraid. Sexy is a man who reminds me every day how much he loves me and how much I mean to him. Sexy is a man who honors and respects me. Sexy is a man who I can trust to lead me. And yes, sexy is a man who can be intimate and show me his heart.    

    These things are "attractive and interesting" to me and even though they are not related to physical characteristics, the more my husband does these things, the sexier he gets. There isn't a star in Hollywood that can hold a candle to my husband. "He's sexy and I know it!"

    How are you doing when it comes to being "sexy?" Are you only thinking of the physical characteristics of yourself or your spouse? What qualities does your spouse have that makes him/her sexy? Do you show your spouse qualities that make you "attractive and interesting?” Today is a good day to show your spouse what "sexy" means to you. 

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    Balloon Fiesta and Marriage

    Michael and I moved to New Mexico twenty-two years ago.  It was August when we arrived here from North Dakota.  As September arrived, we kept hearing all the excitement build regarding the balloon fiesta.  We decided to set aside the time to go to the opening day of the fiesta events. Since we were living in Los Alamos at the time, we knew that we had a bit of a commute to get to the fiesta the morning of the first mass ascension.  The night before the event, we prepared ourselves by packing extra clothes for our two children, bagging up some snacks and drinks, gathering some folding chairs and getting everyone to bed early so we could get up at 4:00 am to head to Albuquerque.  None of us got much sleep that night because we were all so excited. 

    When morning arrived, no one complained about getting up early because we had all anticipated and prepared ourselves for this.  When we arrived at Balloon Fiesta Park, the traffic, parking, people, cool weather, and walking were a bit cumbersome, but no one complained because we knew we were so close to seeing this amazing event.  The mass ascension was incredible.  Walking out on the field with all of the balloons, watching them fill with hot air, take off and soar was beyond what words could describe.  We were in awe of what we were feeling as we watched each balloon take off.  Seeing the sky filled with wonderful colors was incredible and the special shapes brought excitement to our children.

    Somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 am that morning, we all began to crash.  First, the sun became very hot and we had to shed our second and third layers of clothing.  Next, our feet began to hurt from all the walking and our arms were tired from carrying all our “stuff.”  We became irritable as we dealt with all the people around us.  Tiredness kicked in and grumpiness took over from lack of sleep and we began to snap at each other.  The smells from all the food vendors enticed our hunger and the kids began to whine and nag for hot food.  Spending a fortune on breakfast burritos and cinnamon rolls didn’t help our attitudes that morning.  By 10:30 am, we were done with the festivities and ready to head for home.  We became more focused on the inconveniences of the morning rather than the joy of the event.  Needless to say, we found ourselves arguing in the car on the way home.   

    Marriage is a lot like our experience at the Balloon Fiesta.  We get excited about marriage prior to the wedding.  We prepare and plan and talk nonstop about how wonderful it will be.  When the day to say “I do” arrives, we are thrilled and excited and ready to handle just about anything.  The wedding is (in most cases) an incredible day to remember.  However, somewhere between day one of being married and day 1,894, we lose sight of the marriage and begin to focus on the negative aspects of the relationship: she complains too much; he doesn’t pick up his clothes; she tries to control me; he never listens.  Like the balloon fiesta experience, we lose sight of all the wonderful details of the event and we begin to turn an amazing covenant into nothing more than a mediocre event. 

    One thing I forgot to mention about our balloon fiesta experience was what happened as we drove away from Balloon Fiesta field.  In the midst of our arguing, we looked up at the sky and saw all the colors from the balloons and stepped right back into awe concerning the whole event.  Within minutes, we had turned to each other and smiled.  We suddenly remembered what the day was about. 

    Maybe you and your spouse have lost sight of what your marriage is all about – maybe you have gotten so caught up in the negative that you cannot see the reasons you fell in love in the first place.  Maybe you aren’t looking up at the “sky” but you are focused on the “hot sun” or “your tired feet.”  It only takes a minute to change your focus and to look for the good in your relationship.  It’s there – it has been all along – it’s just a matter of where you are looking and what you are choosing to remember.

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    Complaining or Complimenting?

    Have you ever found yourself in a pattern of complaining or even thinking about complaints? Complaining is something that grows as we continue to do it. The more we complain the more we want to complain and the more we focus on the negative. 

    We recently began working with a couple who complain constantly about each other. I’m sure there was a time in their marriage when they looked for the good in each other and enjoyed being together. However, somewhere along the way, they began to complain and the complaining grew until now, their marriage is just one big complaint and they both want out.

    To listen to this couple is like listening to someone who wants to return a defective product to a store. The person is angry that what they bought didn’t meet their expectations and they want to detail all the reasons why the product isn’t meeting their needs or the reasons why it doesn’t work the way they want it to. If you have ever worked in customer service, you know what it is like when a dissatisfied customer brings an item back. They go on and on and on about the defective product but they also talk about the inconvenience of having to bring it back. Once returned, I’ve seen people begin the process of telling everyone they know that the product was junk. Something they once were so excited about buying now is something they are adamantly against.

    This scenario is true for marriages too. People become angry that their marriage isn’t meeting their expectations so they begin to complain. The more they complain, the more the issues become paramount and they begin to detail the reasons why their marriage isn’t meeting their needs or the reasons why it isn’t working the way they want it to. In time, they cannot see the good and disconnect from each other. They become so focused on the negative that the very thing that they were once so excited about has become a “piece of junk” to them. If they don’t recognize this and do something about it, they will throw it away because that’s what you do with junk. 

    The only way that you can turn this situation around is by purposefully looking for the good and complimenting your spouse. You have to force yourself to stop complaining. You see, in the same way that complaining grows and ruins a relationship, complimenting your spouse nourishes the relationship. Think back to when you first met, you consistently complimented and praised each other but somewhere along the way that stopped and complaining began. To turn things around, you have to focus on what is right not on what is wrong.  

    How are you doing in this area? Do you spend more time complaining about your relationship or complimenting and praising your partner? If you aren’t careful, you will be looking for the “customer service counter” to complain about the junk you purchased.  Turn things around today by complimenting instead of complaining.

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    Oops, I Did it Again...

    I must admit that I had a rough weekend….I’m not proud to say that I behaved in a terrible way on Friday night. I reverted back to some of my old behaviors and as a result, I really hurt my husband. I can honestly say that I saw myself doing what I didn’t want to do but I did it anyway. I knew the outcome was going to be hurtful and that we would need to recover from it but I chose to behave poorly anyway. As a result, it took a little time for us to recover and I spent my Saturday feeling sad that I had not made a better choice. I found it really hard to forgive myself even after Michael had forgiven me. That’s the hardest part for me; forgiving myself. You would think that I would be better at forgiving myself since I’m a counselor and work with others to learn the art of forgiveness. Nope…..not an easy thing for me to do because I have a personality that doesn’t want to make mistakes in the first place so when I do, it’s easy to beat myself up and not want to forgive my mistakes.

    Have you ever done that?  Have you ever behaved in a way that you didn’t want to and knew you needed to change what you were doing but you did the wrong thing anyway? Do you find it hard to forgive yourself even after your partner has forgiven you?

    I think we all find ourselves doing that in relationships. We start with the right intentions in mind but old habits die hard and we find ourselves doing something we know won’t help the relationship. After we have hurt the other person, we allow guilt and shame to keep us from forgiving ourselves and this makes the recovery from the situation more difficult. 

    I find that the recovery from making the wrong choice can be tough. It puts a “scrape” in our relationship and it takes time to heal the wound. The good news is that relationships are resilient and though at first, it may seem as if the brokenness can never be repaired, people have a marvelous ability to forgive. The tough part is holding on through the rebuilding phase while consistency replaces doubt, time reduces discomfort and forgiveness replaces hurt.   

    Where is your relationship today? Do you need to ask your spouse for forgiveness? Do you need to forgive yourself for something you have done? Today is a good day to start the “rebuilding” phase in your relationship. Today is a day to start fresh and try again.

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    Men and Women Are Different

    Michael and I went for a walk in the Bosque on Friday and it was wonderful. The weather was perfect…..no wind, the temperature was cool and the sun was shining brightly. The trees were changing colors and everything was so beautiful. It was a great time. 

    During our walk, two older men on bicycles passed us. I overheard their conversation as they were approaching us and as they went past. It was a very deep conversation about their lives and dealing with the disappointment of things that had happened.  I remember saying to myself, “Wow, they are really being very open and honest with each other; something you don’t always see men do.” Then I realized as I saw them disappear ahead of us that they were side by side in their conversation. I looked at Michael and said, “That’s really interesting.” He said, “What?”
     I said, “That those two men would have such a transparent conversation while on a bike ride. You don’t always see men doing that. I wonder why they don’t go get some coffee and sit down and talk for a while about their lives.” Michael said, “That’s not what men do; that’s what women do. If you want to get a man to talk, the best way to do it is by getting him involved in an activity where he is side by side not face to face.”

    That’s when I realized that he was absolutely right. I started to think about all the times when he and I would be in the car (side by side with him driving) and he would share all kinds of things with me; deep, intimate things. If we go out for dinner, he likes to sit beside me instead of across from me. This makes perfect sense now.

    You see, when women want to talk, we go out for coffee and sit, face to face, and stare at each other and tell each other all of our secrets. This is comfortable for us. We like seeing the emotion in the other person and connecting with that. Men don’t feel comfortable seeing emotion in another person. Because emotion is an electrochemical reaction to a stimuli and surges through our muscle mass, men feel it in their body more intensely than women because they have a larger muscle mass. Doing an activity of some kind helps to dissipate the emotion so it doesn’t feel as intense. This allows them to become more focused on solving the problem instead of just talking about it.  That was evident in the two men who were on their bike ride.    

    If you want to see the men in your life talk more intimately, try the side by side method while you are involving them in doing something. You might be surprised by what happens in your conversation. Men and women are different and that’s a good thing…..

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