In every marriage, there are two dynamics at work: actions and behaviors that are Love Kindlers and make the passion between the spouses grow, and actions and behaviors that are Love Extinguishers and usually hurt your spouse. This End of the Year Fidelity Checkup Series examines the Love Extinguishers to be sure that you are not doing the things in your marriage that leave your spouse wide open to an affair. The first Love Extinguisher in the series was "Leaving & Cleaving." The second in the series was “Angry Explosions.” Yesterday's Love Extinguisher was “Disrespectful Judgments.” And today is the conclusion of our series and the end of the old year and the old decade! Before a spouse can start doing the things that kindle love, they need to stop doing the things that extinguish love, and one of the love extinguishers that can tear a marriage apart is not being Personally Transparent.
Lack of Personal Transparency could be called “Dishonesty” and most married people have some insight into what dishonesty is. The infamous “Do I look fat in these jeans?” is an honesty enigma that marriage experts have debated for decades. Another well-known honesty debate between marriage experts is whether to tell your spouse of a very brief infidelity at the beginning of the relationship. About half the experts advise if the hurt would be greater than the harm, keep it to yourself; the other half suggest telling every indiscretion because anything hidden can cause pain. But personal transparency transcends being honest and not lying. Personal Transparency is being open with a spouse and sharing with them your inner self—the thoughts and feelings that are normally hidden or at least edited. Personal Transparency is letting the true, inner You be visible to another human being. When parts of You are hidden, it is like dropping water on a fire that has died down and is starting to smolder. The part that is hidden strangles any possibility of a blazing flame of love developing. Furthermore, it shows tremendous disrespect and distrust because in effect the hiding spouse is saying they do not trust their spouse to know this hidden part and still love them. True Personal Transparency requires openness and sharing of thoughts, feelings, habits, likes, dislikes, personal history, daily activities and plans for the future. If a partner is not transparent in these areas, they leave their spouse in the position of loving an imagined person who doesn't really exist—the person they THINK their spouse is because their spouse has lead them to believe it. The marriage is left vulnerable to infidelity when the partner hides a “friendship” they are currently having with someone else, when the partner hides small feelings of resentment, when lies about past history are discovered, or when daily activities such as going to lunch with another person are covered up.
To see if you are leaving your marriage open to unfaithfulness due to lack of Personal Transparency, open your heart and ask yourself, do you find yourself:
Being hurt by your spouse's comments but not letting them know that it's not okay with you?
Enjoying another person's company and not telling your spouse there might be an issue?
Being resentful of the division of household chores but saying nothing about it...just fuming?
Upset with the way your spouse spends money but keeping it to yourself?
Feeling lonely, missing the time you used to spend together, but not saying anything to them about it?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, please consider speaking to a professional or contacting me directly at email@example.com or coming to my website at www.affaircare.com. Don't let your marriage be vulnerable to an affair. There is hope!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Posted by Cindy J. Taylor at 3:35 PM
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
In every marriage, there are two dynamics at work: actions and behaviors that are Love Kindlers and make the passion between the spouses grow, and actions and behaviors that are Love Extinguishers and usually hurt your spouse. This End of the Year Fidelity Checkup Series examines the Love Extinguishers to be sure that you are not doing the things in your marriage that leave your spouse wide open to an affair. The first Love Extinguisher in the series was "Leaving & Cleaving." The second in the series was “Angry Explosions.” Before a spouse can start doing the things that kindle love, they need to stop doing the things that extinguish love, and one of the love extinguishers that can be a bit insidious is Disrespectful Judgments.
What is a Disrespectful Judgment? Merriam-Webster says that disrespect is “lack of respect” (haha—thanks that's not helpful), but respect is defined as “an act of giving particular attention: consideration; high or special regard : esteem; the quality or state of being esteemed : expressions of deference.” So disrespect would then be not giving particular attention, not showing consideration, not showing high regard, not showing esteem, and not expressing deference. Judgment is a fun definition. According to Merriam-Webster, judgment is “a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion: an opinion so pronounced; the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing : an opinion or estimate so formed; a proposition stating something believed or asserted.” Thus we can conclude that by definition, disrespectful judgment is “uttering an authoritative opinion of something believed or assert, spoken with lack of consideration and showing a distinct lack of regard and esteem.” Caustic sarcasm, ridicule, judgmental statements, accusations, and put downs fit into this category.
If you're wondering if you engage in disrespectful judgments, listen to yourself speak to your spouse and ask these questions (and remember this is not about “Anger” but about your internal attitude toward your spouse):
Do I respectfully request that my spouse do something with perfect freedom to say no?
Do I demand that my spouse do something or do it my way?
Do I make condescending or caustically sarcastic comments to my spouse's honest statements?
Do I “poke fun” at my spouse's mispronunciations or correct his/her grammar in public?
Do I say something mean and cutting, then say it was “just a joke” and that they have no sense of humor? Or say they're making a mountain out of a molehill?
Do I ridicule his/her thoughts, preferences or decisions ?
Do I roll my eyes in response to honest thoughts from my spouse?
Do I judge how my spouse did something, how well they did it, or when they did it?
Do I blame my spouse for my own failings or for things that are clearly not their responsibility?
Do I accuse my spouse of things and then discover it was moved or right there all along?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you may be extinguishing the love in your marriage and making it vulnerable to an affair. Do not treat your spouse with disrespect and a judgmental attitude, and then, when he or she finds someone who treats them with respect and admiration, act as if you are the victim because they were unfaithful. You CAN change now and save your marriage! Please consider speaking to a professional or contacting me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or coming to my website at www.affaircare.com. Don't let your marriage be vulnerable to an affair. There is hope!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In every marriage, there are two dynamics at work: actions and behaviors that are Love Kindlers and make the passion between the spouses grow, and actions and behaviors that are Love Extinguishers and usually hurt your spouse. This End of the Year Fidelity Checkup Series examines the Love Extinguishers to be sure that you are not doing the things in your marriage that leave your spouse wide open to an affair. The first Love Extinguisher in the series was "Leaving & Cleaving." The second in the series is “Angry Explosions.” Before a spouse can start doing the things that kindle love, they need to stop doing the things that extinguish love, and one of the most common love extinguishers is not learning how to deal with anger appropriately and then speaking to your spouse in a harsh, enraged, offending, irritable way.
Married couples have an arsenal of weapons they can use against their spouse; after all they know each other deeply and have spent time together getting to know each other. Some weapons can be relatively harmless such as “joking” while saying what you really think, or “teasing” each other while slipping a in a barb or two. Other weapons can be devastating emotionally, mentally or physically, ranging from calling derogatory names, to making threats, to committing domestic violence. An excellent article entitled “What is domestic Violence?” on Examiner.com, shows what can happen when Angry Explosions get out of hand and go to the extreme.
But why would people who love each other treat the one they love like this? As with most Love Extinguishers it begins subtly enough. At first, the two are completely “in love” and they do all kinds of things naturally to kindle each others love. They marry and are think they'll live “happily ever after” like in the movies—only real life sets in. He works long hours and when he comes home he's tired and doesn't want to talk like they used to—and she doesn't admire him and see a knight in shining armor anymore. Kids come and bills. She wears sweats all day and doesn't look nice when he's around, and he loses his job and doesn't help with the kids. They get frustrated with each other and start to be a little snappy. This causes pain and extinguishes the fire of love. In return often the couple will want to either hurt their spouse back or prove their spouse wrong, so then THEY commit a Love Extinguishertm. From there it is a downward spiral into verbal abuse, possibly domestic violence, and leaving your marriage WIDE OPEN to infidelity.
To see if you are leaving your marriage open to unfaithfulness due to Angry Explosions, open your heart and ask yourself, do you find yourself:
Ignoring, ridiculing, and criticizing your spouse consistently?
Manipulating your spouse's words?
Purposely humiliating your spouse? Or calling him/her names?
Accusing or blaming your spouse so you are justified in screaming?
Making your spouse feel unwanted and unloved? Or saying right out “Who would want you?”
Threatening to leave the family destitute? Or making other threats to get what you want?
Speaking in a raised volume, forcefully, for a long time?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, please consider speaking to a professional or contacting me directly at email@example.com or coming to my website at www.affaircare.com. Don't let your marriage be vulnerable to an affair. There is hope!
Monday, December 28, 2009
(NOTE: This blog has a decidedly Christian message)
It's the end of the year and time for some introspection and analysis of the year gone by. On this blog we look specifically at marriage and at how to keep our marriages free from infidelity, so for part 1 of my series I'd like to begin at the beginning. Before a spouse can start doing the things that kindle love, they need to stop doing the things that extinguish love, and one of the most common love extinguishers is not leaving mom and dad and cleaving to your spouse.
The first time a husband is commanded to "leave and cleave" is Gen. 2:24 where the word in Hebrew for "leave" is ya·'a·zav- and the word we translate "cleave" is the Hebrew word ve·da·vak.
ya·'a·zav--this Hebrew word is a primitive root of the word that means "to loosen", and is translated abandon, deserted, failed, forsake, free, ignores, leave, leave behind, let it go, neglect, stopped, surely release, and withdrawn.
I think just from reading those definitions it fairly clear that we are commanded to actively loosen the ties with the family of origin. It is interesting to note that in Genesis, it's also a command that's aimed at husbands.
ve·da·vak--this Hebrew word is a primitive root of the word that means "to cling, cleave, keep close", and is translated cleaves, cling, closely pursued, clung, deeply attracted, fasten its grip, follow closely, held fast, hold, joined, joined together, overtake, pursued closely, remained steadfast, stay, stay close, stick, stick together.
Again just from these definitions I believe its fairly obvious that the idea is to be intimately close with your spouse and be of one mind and body.
I believe this commandment to "leave and cleave" is interesting for several reasons. It is aimed at the husbands, and I don't think that is meant to say wives are excluded from being joined with their husbands...just that the role of men and the role of women is different.
G*d grants authority, and with authority comes responsibility. He grants authority to a pastor to shepherd his congregation, and anyone who goes into that ministry bears the responsibility for those under his authority. He grants authority to a husband over his wife, and any husband bears the responsibility to lovingly nurture his wife. He father over his household and children, and any father bears the responsibility then his home and the provision of those in it. He has authority to "teach them up" and children are commanded to honor both of their parents.
If a young man marries, his wife is in a state of submission to him. Now, she may not know HOW to submit or want to, but this is her position--like a state of being. But how can a young man have authority over his wife and his own household if he is likewise under the authority of his father and mother? Would his wife then be in submission to his father? How about to his mother? Is she in submission to her father and mother still? No. G*d clears all this up for us. When a young man marries, he has instructions from G*d to perform an action and to indicate his status.
He is to put action into abandoning, forsaking, being free of, leaving behind, letting it go of, and releasing his father and his mother. A whole new authority is granted to him when he becomes a husband and a whole new family unit is started (with or without children). He is not supposed to sort of hope this happens one day...the word used is in a case that means he is to be active about this! At the same time, he is to understand that his RESPONSIBILITY is to closely pursue, deeply attract, hold fast to, be joined together with, remained steadfast to, and stay close with wife. This word is in a case like the wife's word for "submitting to her husband." It's not an action like a command to do something--it is a state of being. This verse says "Actively break the tie to your father and mother because you are in a state of being of close, intimate connection with your wife."
I believe this is aimed at men because they are the G*d-given authorities in their families. The husband is the one who sets the family. If he does not take actions to break the tie with his father and mother, if he keeps himself like a child under their authority or does not cut with them so he can join FULLY and DEEPLY with his own wife, then he sets his family for the harms that come with disobedience. I personally believe wives are not told this because we aren't the authority in our family. We can lovingly encourage our husbands to obey G*d in this but if he hardens his heart and will not, we are not the ones whom G*d will hold accountable. (Our job is to respect our husband, and for that we will be accountable.)
So at this End of the Year Fidelity Checkup, to the husbands I would ask if you are obeying G*d by actively loosening the ties to your father and mother and becoming of one mind and body with your bride? If you have not broken those ties yet, or worse if you are choosing your mom and dad over your wife, you are leaving your marriage WIDE OPEN to the temptations of infidelity. And wives, although this is a command to the husbands, that does not exclude you. You need to break the ties with mom and dad and steadfastly prefer your husband above all others. Start at the beginning and don't allow your families of origin to come between you and your spouse. This is a HUGE love extinguisher that leaves your spouse wide open to looking to someone else who will prefer them.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
In a recent interview with the German magazine Das Neue, Angelina Jolie shocked fans by saying “'I doubt that fidelity is absolutely essential for a relationship. It's worse to leave your partner and talk badly about him afterwards.” She also stated “Neither Brad nor I have ever claimed that living together means to be chained together. We make sure that we never restrict each other.” Blogs have speculated exactly what she means by these statements, but it brings up a good question. Is fidelity essential for a healthy marriage?
On the webpage for the U.S. Dept. of Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/healthymarriage/about/mission.html#background), it says that in 1996 Congress made the following findings: 1) Marriage is the foundation of a successful society; and 2) Marriage is an essential institution of a successful society which promotes the interests of children. Then they as a very interesting question. What is a “healthy marriage?” According to their definition:
* There are at least two characteristics that all healthy marriages have in common. First, they are mutually enriching, and second, both spouses have a deep respect for each other.
* It is a mutually satisfying relationship that is beneficial to the husband, wife and children (if present).
* It is a relationship that is committed to ongoing growth, the use of effective communication skills and the use of successful conflict management skills.
A government definition of a “healthy marriage” is not the most definitive, and most marriage experts would be even more precise, including such things as religious beliefs and societal mores. However, if we agree to even this broad-minded kind of definition, we can see that fidelity is essential to a marriage. Unfaithfulness does not benefit the loyal spouse, and study after study has indicated that the effect of a divorce on children being raised in a single-parent household is NOT beneficial--for example, see Wallerstein, Judith (1991). The Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children: A Review. The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Beyond this rather loose interpretation by the U.S. government, without getting into religious debate, marriage can also be considered as a legal contract. In a marriage, two people essentially reach an agreement together before witnesses and usually with a presiding official. The two people say their vows and make promises of certain things to each other. In western, Judeo-Christian civil vows, the couple often say things such as “I take you to be my wedded spouse. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, 'till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.” Taking out the emotion and passion of a fancy dress, a tuxedo and a big reception, essentially marriage contract states before witnesses that the couple will stay together through the itemized circumstances of life, will love each other until one dies, and will covenant their fidelity! Thus, fidelity is essential to the maintenance of the contract, and infidelity breaks, nullifies, and negates the marital contract.
What do you think? Is fidelity essential? If you have questions about affairs or have been affected by infidelity, come to my website at www.affaircare.com for answers and help!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Luke 2: 1-16
1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Are you on a very tight budget and still looking for that perfect gift for her--so that you'll have a reaction like the picture? Here are the things on her wish list that you can give her for FREE...and they will help kindle the love in your relationship.
1. Intimacy--And nope, I don't mean sex. I mean opening up and being best friends and being emotionally close. I mean opening up and including her in your thoughts and feelings.
I actually read the other blogs on my blogroll, and yesterday I was reading The Generous Husband's blog Relational intimacy vs sexual intimacy and he really hit the nail on the head. If you want to really strengthen your marriage and have a warm, loving, safe relationship with your bride, I would say give her the gift of intimacy. Share yourself, your life and your thoughts with her. Tell her how you feel. Be open to her and let her see the real you. One thing that extinguishes love quickly is being closed, not sharing your thoughts and feelings, and creating a life that excludes her. (And fellas, just so you know, when your gal is excluded she starts to feel less desired/desirable and sexual desire decreases). Sooo... #1 on her Christmas Wish List will definitely be: Give her YOU! She wants you.
2. Romance--UGH, I know the fellas hate to hear this, but one of the best free gifts you can give her is to romance her like when you were dating. Now, I do have pity on you guys--romance can be hard to do on a daily basis, but here's some practical assistance:
Loving You: Romance Calendar. This little calendar changes every month and has one daily suggestion for an idea for your sweetheart. So if you are NOT the creative, Don Juan type but you are in your heart, use that as an idea and even if the suggestion doesn't work for you, pick another day. It's even clickable so that you can can click on the words and get details on "how to." :P Yes, it takes a little effort every day. Yes, it's worth it.
3. Conversation--Okay this one is a little easier, in a way. When you two wake up in the morning, when you're back together after work, when you're eating dinner, when you lay down to go to bed at night...take some time and talk to her with the TV off, no newspaper, and your PC turned off. Give 100% attention and act like as if you are interested in her and her day. It feels crummy when you talk to someone and they are halfway watching a show or reading something and you know that they aren't really paying attention to you. Also, I'll be honest--eventually she'll feel like this: "Do I have to set myself on fire to get your attention?" Trust me--you don't want to go there. So take the time for her and her alone. The benefits are BIG!
4. Cheerlead--Hey! The GUYS are supposed to be cheerleaders? Yes! Cheer on your bride. People will tell her how great she is, how well she did or how proud they are, so you be the one with the loudest voice telling her first. And I'm not talking about false compliments here. I mean see her for the amazing person she is and really make sure that she knows you see it. Create that environment that when something great happens to her at work or at home, the very *first* person she thinks of telling is YOU. If she does something you like or you're proud of...tell her! If she really tries to make a hard new recipe and it turns out great...tell her! Be your wife's biggest fan.
5. Sex--Hmmm...sort of a touchy, personal subject here and I do realize that different women react differently, but fellas, women like sex too. There have been tons of books written about the differences between men and women but looking again at The Generous Husband one thing that guys often "don't get" is that we are hard-wired to want sex when we feel safe, loved, and close to a man...and if one of those three is lacking, what happens is that we might even TRY to respond but physically we can't get there. Hey the fact is, our brain is our largest sexual organ! On the other hand, when the lady in your life does feel safe, loved, and close to you, then WOW please feel free to be Mr. Sexy with her because it kindles that desire! Again, part of feeling desire is to feel that you are desired...so on the occasion go with the rose petals and candles and at other times, be aggressive, make your move and take her like you can't wait to get her clothes off!
6. Chores--This is another one that makes husbands roll their eyes but is actually a great gift! If your wife is a stay-at-home-mom, she likely is "on duty" 24hr./7 days a week for laundry, dishes, dinner, picking up the house, and actually cleaning (like with comet and mops). So while you may work 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday--she works midnight to 11:59pm Sunday to Saturday. If your wife is a career woman, then just like you, when she gets home from working all day, she has a list a mile long of chores she has to get done around the house just for cleaning and daily "wear and tear." My point is that no one can feel lovely and sexy when there's laundry to get done before tomorrow, the baby is crying and has a fever, and there's a sink full of dishes. If you were to both work on all three together though, she would feel grateful for the help and like someone was on her side helping...and that leads to feeling close which leads to feeling loved and sexy. So yep--man up and change that diaper or scrub that sink, and give her a hug while ya do it.
7. Play--again, this one can be fairly easy. Play together. Remember when you first met how you used to chase her around and try to tickle her? Remember how you used to tell jokes and laugh at each other? Remember how she would go to ballgames with you, and you'd go to ballet with her (even though neither one of you really were fans of it)? People have fun together and enjoy each others' company in a thousand ways, but this year for Christmas, give her that fun back. My dear hubby and I *LOVE* to play video games together, create RPG's together, go camping together, watch football together, and watch movies together. What do you just LIKE to do with your bride?
8. Family--Oy "family" is a tricky one. Give your wife the gift this Christmas of firmly and devotedly defending her and picking her above all others, whether that means against your family or her family. One thing that REALLY extinguishes love (and quickly!) is the feeling that given the chance to back her or someone else, you pick someone else...and that includes your mother or your daughter! When it comes to family, you have the chance to really be a "knight in shining armor" and jump to her aide and defend her, but that sometimes means you have to stand up to other people you love. Here's the thing. I think everyone would like to believe that our spouse would choose us over everyone else in the world. I know that women often fall in love with or feel love for someone who can periodically "rescue" them (and I don't mean in an unhealthy way). But imagine the two scenarios: your wife makes a "family faux pas" and forgets to buy a gift for Uncle Jim; your mother criticizes her in front of everyone in less that glowing terms. #1--You agree with mom and can't believe she forgot your relative. Your mom thinks you're a good son but your wife feels like she's fighting all alone and you have to go home with her. Where do you end up sleeping? #2--You stand up to your mom and say it could have happened to anyone or tell her to please speak to your wife more respectfully. Your mom is a little miffed that you called her on it but your wife thinks you jumped to her rescue and you have to go home with her. Where do you end up sleeping?
See what I mean?
9. Gussy up--Okay this one goes both ways a little. She used to look SO AMAZING in that sexy outfit with her hair done up...remember that? Well life may have intervened a little, children may have come, etc. and some of her physique may have changed a bit, but if she makes the effort to gussy up for you, look at her as if she was that beautiful bride that you could NOT take your eyes off of. Notice her hair cut, color, makeup and outfit every day. Say something about it. Did she offer to wear some lingerie for you? DROP EVERYTHING and act interested. And this goes for you too guys...you look like James Bond when you gussy up a little yourself. So take off the jeans and tee with the stain, and gussy up for your bride. Do your hair--add some cologne--wear a night shirt and pants that look GOOD on you.
10. Finances--When single men and women fight, they often go to this argument: (Woman) "All you want a woman for is a trophy wife!" (Man) "Yeah? Well all you want a man for is his wallet!" Fellas, this may seem like an odd gift to give your bride for Christmas, but again trust me, it's on her wish list somewhere. This day and age many women are perfectly capable of "providing for themselves" and yet part of being a wife and mother is safety, and as a wife and mother it is a horribly unstable feeling if you're worrying about becoming homeless or feeding your children. Now I do realize that not everyone can be in perfect financial condition, and that sometimes women can want a certain lifestyle that you just can't attain! But one gift you can give your bride is that firm, safe feeling of knowing that you will work WITH her on the finances so that things are taken care of. If you two are in financial straits now, give her the gift of making movement toward straightening up the finances! Just as it would be a huge burden for you to have to "provide for" the family alone, show her that she's safe and won't be left alone to take care of herself and the kids.
And there you have it! Ten gifts that are sure to be on her Christmas Wish List and that you can her for free.
Monday, December 14, 2009
When you've been married a year or two like I have you'll start to realize that one of the most important things about your spouse is not always the romance or the steamy lovemaking...but that your spouse is your best friend, who knows you more intimately than anyone else on the planet and oddly they still decide to stay with you!
At this time of year, when so many people are talking about giving this gift and that gift to your spouse for the holidays--everything from this possession to that sexual act :0 --may I suggest one gift that will last you a lifetime, lower your blood pressure and be better than any medicine over the long run? LAUGH! Laugh together; laugh with each other; laugh AT each other (in a lighthearted way); and be silly! Come on people, life just is not all that serious.
This morning my dear hubby was just waking up and came over by me to give me a good morning kiss. He tried to pick up his coffee cup, but being half asleep, it leapt from his hands and clattered all over my desk. After two seconds of "that horrified face" we realized it was empty and no harm was done... and we feel into each other and burst out laughing. That has lead to a whole day of joking, kidding around, and sneaking up on each other--not to mention unending comments about "dropsy"! :P
My point is that in life we are often faced with a moment that is a turning point. Maybe our spouse did something surprising, or made a mistake, or outright did something wrong--and we have the chance to choose to be a critic and make them feel worse -OR- to laugh, make life fun and easy, don't be so serious, have a sense of humor, and let them know that they're safe. Sometimes it's not a mistake at all...they meant to surprise us or they said something really funny. LAUGH!! Don't lightly giggle and blush--roll on the floor and double over, laughing until your sides hurt and your mouth aches.
Likewise, don't be a stick in the mud. Be funny. Play little practical jokes that might make your spouse laugh. Tease each other. Run around the house chasing each other and squeeling with laughter--and yes even if you're in your fifties RUN (in that slower William Shatner jog-run). Tickle each other or find a new ticklish spot...that's always a fun hunt! Tell jokes. Be light hearted
Especially at this time, when there seems to be so much pressure to get to the mall, get the perfect gift, get to all the school plays, get the presents in the mail, get the tree up, get the house decorated, get the menu planned, get the family invitations, get to the Nutcracker or Messiah, and all those other holiday stresses...stop. Laugh. Smear your lipstick? Laugh about it. Mess up your hair? Mess his or hers back! It is the best gift you can give yourself and your spouse--a fun marriage.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I've noticed a lot of blogs in the marriage-blogosphere right now along this line: "Christmas Gifts for Your Spouse", "Get a Gift for Your Marriage", "How to Strengthen Your Marriage During the Holidays", "How to Get More Holiday Spirit in Your Marriage" and many of the blogs are neat little romantic things you can do together as a couple--things to bring back the magic and joy of the season. But one MAJOR gift is always missing, and without this gift, the romantic gestures will not be accepted by your spouse and they will not rekindle the love in your marriage.
What is this MOST IMPORTANT gift?
You need to stop being the one who extinguishes love (brings pain to their life) before your spouse will be open to receiving your romantic gestures and loving gifts.
Let me explain a little further. Relationships are a little like a fire. You see each other or meet each other and something catches our interest--sometimes we'll even say that "sparks flew!" But the relationship is started with a spark. Then there are things done that kindle the fire: she dresses up, wears makeup and perfume, compliments him, and spends all kinds of time with him...and he buys her affectionate little things or flowers, tells her she's pretty, writes her poems, and spends hours talking with her and getting to know her. Those actions are Love Kindlers and they make the fire grow hotter and hotter. But as time goes by, bills pile up and kids arrive and they both stop doing the kindlers and starts doing things that hurt each other. He works more hours than he spends with her, and when he is home, he doesn't talk or act interested. If she tries to talk, he yells at her to be quiet. She nags him about the bills and money so he works longer--then she yells about never being home! He plays on the computer and watches football with his buddies, and since she's not into that, she hangs with her girlfriends and spends money. He tells her she "has to" be submissive and forces her to move and leave her family. She stops respecting him and withdraws, and when he wants sex, she thinks "Are you KIDDING?" Those behaviors are the Love Extinguishers. They are like dumping a bucket of water on the fire of love.
Too often we try to do Love Kindlers while we are still doing Love Extinguishers--and then we feel all justified and say to ourselves, "Well I tried and they just dismissed all my attempts!" But as Christians we are called to love our spouse as Christ loved the Church. We have made a covenant with our spouse to put them and their needs ahead of our own and in all things consider them. So we have a responsibility to look at ourselves and be honest: "What Love Extinguishers am I doing that dump cold water on the love in my marriage?" Until you stop the Love Extinguishers, trying to do Love Kindlers will be like putting water in a bucket with holes...they will just flow out and the bucket stays empty.
So if you really want to give your marriage a gift this Christmas, the little romantic things are nice and will bring back some of the fun and joy--but not if you are still the one causing your spouse pain. The MOST IMPORTANT gift you can give this season is to look at yourself or ask your spouse to tell you, take responsibility for those Love Extinguishers, and then stop them...and make a plan to change!
Monday, December 7, 2009
It's the Christmas season, and at this time of year it's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of events, parties, presents, cards, and family that sometimes we forget that December is a GREAT month to rekindle love with your spouse. When we're under stress it can be really a blessing to have a spouse that is like a safe haven, and nothing can make home seem warm and wonderful like slowing down and simplifying the holidays. So take the time this month do so some of these simple things with your spouse (just the two of you!) and rekindle the smoldering ember of love between you.
1) Put up Christmas lights together.
2) Drink some hot cocoa or eggnog together.
3) Watch silly Holiday movies together (like "The Santa Clause" or "Polar Express")--it will bring out the childhood wonder.
4) Read a Christmas book or story together--even "T'was the Night Before Christmas" or Luke 2 can be very special!
5) Start or keep a Christmas scrapbook with the things you do, photos, etc.
6) Bake some holiday treats together that you keep and eat! My dear hubby and I make pumpkin pie and eat it with plenty of whipped cream.
7) Make a modern version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" and give your spouse little gifts for 12 days.
8) Put together a Gingerbread House. You can buy a kit, use graham crackers, or go crazy and bake the gingerbread!
9) Pick one charitable thing and do it together: volunteer at the local nursing home or homeless shelter, buy an extra toy for a less fortunate child, or send cards to soldiers who are far from home. You'll feel GREAT!
10) Make one ornament...don't care how! :D
11) Remember strings of popcorn on the tree? Yeah, do that again..or construction paper chain. You'll feel young.
12) Have one night where you light up your whole bedroom with CANDLES! Those beautiful Christmas ones are the best!
13) Have a "bubble bath night"--each one of you prepare a bubble bath for the other!
14) Do something adventurous that you've never done (or haven't done for a long time) like sledding or ice skating.
15) Listen to some classic Christmas carols--sing along if you want!
16) Go hear Handel's Messiah or go to the Nutcracker.
17) Remember mistletoe? Use it.
18) Go for a drive and see the Christmas lights on the houses.
19) Plan a naughty holiday celebration. ;)
20) If your stuck for ideas go to Loving You at www.lovingyou.com because they have literally thousands of romantic ideas and suggestions. You can borrow liberally!
It only takes a little time every day that you give to your spouse during this Christmas season to rekindle the love.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Tiger Woods is all the gossip recently for admitting to "transgressions" while married, and he is hardly the first celebrity who seems to have it all and ends up having an affair. Before Tiger there was Charles and Camilla, Brad and Angelina...even the AMAZINGLY beautiful Halle Berry had infidelity in her marriage! To us it seems like these people had everything: Tiger is a world-class golfer and could marry anyone; Charles had Princess Diana for heaven's sake; Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were the golden couple; and if Halle Berry couldn't keep her husband it couldn't possibly be about looks or sex. So the nagging question has to be this: "Why do they do it?"
Affairs are very rarely about looks or sex. I mean, look at Camilla and Princess Di--Prince Charles SURELY is not "trading up" in the looks department there so it couldn't be about looks! Yet somehow Charles just could not give up Camilla. Why? In a nutshell, it's because the Other Person (I call them OP) does things that KINDLE love at the same time that the loyal spouse (LS) is doing things to EXTINGUISH love. And we're all human--we tend to all do that. We get used to each other, the kids come, then the bills... and pretty soon we forget to take the time to do the things we used to do when we were dating.
The first thing I would say about the whole Tiger Woods affair--John Q. Public should give Tiger a break. We are not there and we do not know the facts, so to keep it on the rumor mill like this shows our worst tendencies, not his. Second, it is between him and his wife and family and it's none of our business! Third, we aren't there and we don't know the facts, so let's not assume that Tiger's the bad guy and his wife is somehow the victim. In my years of experience in this field what I've discovered is that this can happen to anyone if they don't guard themselves and that usually there was some sort of major relationship breakdown before this that set things in motion to get to where they are today. I'd say we should look at it like Tiger's hurting, his spouse is hurting, probably the other involved party is hurting, and now they have to go through all that in public too. In order to save their marriage, both parties will need to look at themselves, admit what they did to contribute to this mess, and then do the work necessary to change than and become a better person. If they both stop the actions that extinguish love and start again to do the things that kindle love--well honestly they could have a whole new, more intimate, more wonderful marriage!!