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My Blog

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Becoming the Marriage Magi

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (296)

   “I’ll give you all of me, and you give me all of you” John Legend promises his love in his latest wedding song. Although romantically poetic, those of us who have been married or in a long-term relationship for any length of time know that our best actions are not always reciprocated in the way that we feel they were given. Take for instance my most recent experience:          

   So there I sat at a busy intersection in the middle of rush hour with an overheated car, two crying babies, and an impatient five year old. Here I was trying my best to be the supportive spouse and everything had gone wrong. My day had gone pretty smoothly, before I found myself at the intersection. I had managed to clean the kitchen, bathrooms, do three loads of laundry, scrub floors, all in between nursing the twins. Then at 2:45 that afternoon, my phone rang. To my annoyance, my husband on the other end of the line, asked me to take a tuxedo back to the store from a wedding we had attended the previous weekend. To say that I was miffed is an understatement. Three hours and four jugs of water for a leaky radiator later, I finally made it back home. I had a very terse speech prepared for Mike the minute he walked through the door. However, when he walked in and laid his lunch box on the table, the words refused to come. His eyes were beyond weary and his arm was bandaged from cutting metal. “Babe, thanks for taking the tux back for me, you’re the best,” he said. My heart melted as I realized that he had had an equally challenging day, and if I could do something to lighten his burden, then I was okay with that.      

       “Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections” Legend continues. Sometimes, the imperfections that we thought were endearing as newlyweds can become downright aggravating as time goes on. But embracing these “flaws” and giving 100 percent of yourself to their needs is so rewarding, because there will be times when your spouse is the only one giving 100 percent of themselves to you. It has been said that people fall into three categories in every relationship: givers, matchers, and takers. Givers tend to care for the needs of others, matchers keep score and make sure that they always receive something in return, and takers contribute nothing to the relationship and their main focus is themselves. Obviously, the most successful relationship is that of the giver. Feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of can derail the energies of the giver. When this happens, talk to your spouse about it (read my post “Five Ways to Handle Conflict in Your Marriage”).

  No relationship can work without both parties making an effort to give emotionally and physically to the other spouse. Sometimes that means putting your phone or tablet down and just listening or recognizing when your spouse needs a hug. In short, be there. With the holidays, just days away and the New Year fast approaching, decide to make a conscious effort to give yourself completely to your relationship. Marriage is so much happier that way.

What are some ways that you give to your spouse, tell me in the comments below?

Five Ways to Handle Conflict in Your Marriage

Posted on October 15, 2013 at 1:03 PM Comments comments (250)

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” my mother used to admonish me. This is true in almost every other situation, but marriage. Sometimes, you have to “put it all out there” and say what’s on your mind. “Don’t go to bed angry,” I was advised at my bridal shower, but for years, I was master of the silent treatment.  If my husband said or did something that I didn’t agree with, I would go days without speaking or say the bare minimum, hoping that I could hold off long enough that he would beg me for forgiveness. In doing so, I often became blind to many of my own faults, in my quest to get him to admit his. In my stubbornness, I would often forget about why I was mad in the first place, or I would realize that the matter was not as big as I had made it out to be. Seven years later, I am revealing five things that Mike and I have put into place to ensure that the channels of communication remain open during a disagreement.

1.       Listen:This is often the last thing that I want to do, especially if I think that I’m right. But I have found, however, that if I listen (I mean really listen) to what my husband is saying, then I can see where he is coming from. In our case, we “give each other the floor” each person gets a chance to give the details from his or her perspective completely uninterrupted.  This brings me to my next point......................................

2.      No Dramatics This is important to me, because I tend to clam up and become defensive when someone is shouting or has raised their voice at me.  On the flip side, my husband has expressed his annoyance, when I begin to cry because from his perspective, the last thing he wants to do is to make me cry. So we have agreed to keep our emotions in check when telling our side of the story. This is not the time to blame the other party or point fingers, but to simply state the facts from your point of view.

3.      Three’s a Crowd One of the worst things to experience is to discover that your “business” is “out there".  I have found that Mike and I can handle anything together as a team, but when outside forces weigh in and give opinions, a situation can go from bad to worse in ten seconds flat! As a precautionary measure, we try to avoid arguing in public or within earshot of others. We also do not tell our individual friends or family about any disagreement that is ongoing. If counseling is needed, there should be an appropriate and qualified person to help mediate disputes.

4.       Transparency:  “Honesty is the best policy” and in no case is it more appropriate than in marriage. No matter how ugly the truth is, it is always best to go ahead and reveal it to your spouse than try to cover it up or to offer up excuses as to why you behaved a certain way. Not only does dishonesty belittle your spouse, but it also builds a level of mistrust in the marriage. When you are both vulnerable and everything has been laid on the table, then healing can begin and a remedy found.

5.      Kiss and Make UpProbably the most refreshing feelings, is to know that you can begin with a clean slate with your spouse.  I cannot stress how important forgiveness and letting go is in a marriage. In fact, there is no point in staying married, if you cannot learn to forgive and, yes, forget! Try to keep from replaying the same hurtful episode for your spouse to hear every time you argue. If the same offense is committed, then that is the time to try and figure out together how to keep it from happening again, and to put obstacles in place to avoid the same pitfalls the next time.*

Always a work in process, marriage is by no means easy; but by committing to follow these 5 steps in handling conflict, your marriage and home will become a place of harmony, as well as a peaceful haven for both of you.  




*Note: There is never any excuse for physical or psychological abuse, and is often necessary to remove yourself from this kind of situation, contact the appropriate authorities in these cases.