Why Should We Get Pre-Marital Counseling?

Why Should We Get Pre-Marital Counseling

This past Friday, I attended the wedding of two good friends.

These two friends had been dating for two years, were engaged after a year and a half of dating, and had originally planned for a long engagement while the bride finished her bachelor’s degree.

The couple had entered into their engagement with the intention of completing pre-marital counseling to ensure that their decision to marry was foolproof. They thought of the counseling as a “flu shot” and as being “preventative,” which is an excellent perspective on how beneficial pre-marital counseling can be.

Unfortunately, due to a change in their original perspective, they did not finish their pre-marital counseling and moved their wedding from three years in the future to this past Friday. They confessed that they moved up their wedding because there was a fear of marriage failure if they chose to wait any longer.

They did not realize that, by giving up on their counseling, they may be setting themselves up for the failure that they are most afraid of.

The benefits of pre-marital counseling has been defined in an article I’ve found while researching this topic:
1. There would be no secrets revealed after the “I Do’s” because they would have been revealed in counseling sessions.
2. You benefit from the objective perspectives on your relationship given by the counselor.
3. If done with a pastor, plans for worship and faith are clearly defined. Your pastor will also KNOW WHO YOU ARE before the ceremony.
4. It really is a good preventative method for divorce.

Melissa Butler

National Marriage Week: February 7th-14th!

nationalmarriageweekWelcome to National Marriage Week! The week of February 7th to 14th is the annual campaign to promote strengthening marriages. According to National Marriage Week USA’s website (http://www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org/), there are three goals in promoting stronger marriages:

  1. To elevate marriage as a national issue in the media and with policy leaders.
  2. To promote the benefits of marriage, that stronger marriages bring economic stability to individuals and to the nation, and provides the best environment for thriving children.
  3. To create a national calendar for existing, trusted marriage classes, conferences and events where people can find the help they need, or reach out to help others.

So, when was the last time you noticed our media promoting marriage? I hear more about divorces and extramarital affairs through the media outlet, than about long-lasting marriages. Let’s hear more about happy, ever-lasting love stories by writing or calling to our medias and policy leaders. Wouldn’t you rather wake up each morning to the love story of the day on the morning news? I know I would!

When spouses communicate and show affection towards each other, children benefit from the interaction. As all children do, they imitate what they are shown. If the parents are reciprocating love for one another, than our children will promote the continuation with their future spouse! As far as economic stability, it doesn’t cost much to marry. As a newlywed, I was shocked to find out we (my husband and I) only needed to pay $72 for our marriage license! That is just the beginning of all the tax breaks you receive for being married… there are advantages to being married to the one you love!

Yes, there will always be ups and downs in the marriage, and what is better than having a support system in place for those down moments? Let’s promote more support systems throughout this nation for marriage! As the old adage says about raising children: “It takes a village to raise a child”, the same goes for a marriage. The more the community promotes and advocates for marriage, the more we will see long-lasting marriages! Who can resist sharing that feel good Facebook clip of a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary? Let’s share more of those!

Tell me if there should be any other goals to promote marriages? What has helped you throughout your marriage that you can share with others that have just started their journey? What are your predictions for the future of this campaign? I’d like to hear from you!

Being Thankful During the Bad Times!!!

This past week Murphy’s Law has been in full effect for me and my family. It seemed as if,  before one calamity could end another started.  I started the week with a 102 degree fever and was diagnosed with bronchitis. Even with medication, healing was extremely slow go for me (Friday through Monday were bed days… my bed probably has dents.) Monday night my husband had not one but two flat tires. Both had nails, one could be patched the other could not. On Tuesday my daughter was hospitalized for three days. A friend who was aware of how my week was going visited me at the hospital and brought me a “good luck charm.”  I did accept the gift and at the time I was thinking to myself, “I can use all the luck I can get right about now!!!“  After a day or two at the hospital, I realized that there are individuals suffering far more than me and my family.   After reading the Bible and some quotes for Black History Month, I began to say not why me but why not me? We all go through our share of bad times and God says Praise Him regardless. I’m not saying we should be grateful for the bad times but we should be thankful during them. Today may have been lemons for you but tomorrow could bring the best lemonade you ever tasted!  1 Thessalonians 5:18  states, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I’m not glad that my daughter or myself were ill but I am absolutely glad for God’s Healing Hands and all the many things He has done for me and my family. For this I can be thankful during the bad times.  God is good all the time!!!
 If I were to say, “God, why me?” about the bad things,                                                                                                                                     then I should have said, “God, why me?” about the good things that happened in my life.                                                                  Arthur Ashe 

Taking Control of Anxiety Before It Takes Control of You

taking control of your anxiety before it takes control of you

Everyone experiences anxiety. It happens before job interviews, meeting the parents, public speaking, deadlines, all the time. Sometimes those anxieties can get out of hand; they prevent us from taking care of the things we need to get done. They overpower our thoughts by building on top of one another, weighing down on our subconscious. Despite our best efforts to organize our lives or to make time for everything, anxieties can take all control away from us in a matter of moments.

Here are a few ways to take control of your anxiety:

Breathe, it’s the most natural thing that we know how to do. Take a minute, count to four while you breath in, than count to four while you breath out. Keep counting and breathing. Your heart rate will slow and your body will biologically calm itself.

Write it out. Sit down for 15 minutes with a piece of paper and a pen. Write out every thought that comes to your mind during that time; don’t put the pen down. Seeing your thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper in front of you acts as an anchor. Once you read through what you’ve written, your anxieties become more tangible and easier to work with.

Exercise, exercise, exercise. The hormones released during exercise, such as serotonin and endorphins, act as antidepressants. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, just as long as your body is moving. Endorphins are “happy hormones” and will elevate your mood instantly.

Laugh. Laughter is the best medicine. Watch a funny movie, read some really bad jokes, or think of a funny memory. Laughing can relieve psychological pain almost instantly.

Eat some good mood food. Who doesn’t enjoy comfort food when they’re upset? While it may be tempting to reach for the cookies or the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream during a freak out session, it’s actually more beneficial to eat healthy food. Studies suggest that you try a few of these super foods: nuts, soy, milk and yogurt, dark green leafies, dark orange vegetables, broth soups, legumes, citrus, wheat germ, tart cherries, and berries.

Now you don’t have to try all of these things, but they’re all helpful tricks and all of them have one thing in common: It’s all good and it’s all ok, all you have to do is take your moment.

Melissa Butler

Don’t Forget About the Family!

Extended family sitting outdoors smiling

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the cares of the world that we forget about the things that really matter.  One main thing that we should always stay up on is “the family.” I am a firm believer in the institution of family.  Outside of our faith in God, family should be our number one priority.  Just as God instituted marriage, he also designed the institution of families.  Families should produce love and support for everyone that exists within.  However, in most families this is not the case.  Today we find many families in ruins due to many things such as: the lack or the abundance of money, drugs, infidelity in marriages, divorce, sexual abuse, incest, and the list goes on and on.  How do we maintain a healthy family while continuing to pursue and live our individual lives?  Here are a few ways:

  1. Spiritual foundation:   include God; (Joshua 24:15 says; as for me and my house we will serve the Lord).
  2. Communication: keep constant and open lines of communication
  3. Education: spiritual, social, political, and personal
  4. Social Events
  5. Family huddles: intimate times to share and address issues

These are just a few of the many things that we can do to help enhance and maintain our families. Be careful not to become self-absorbed and forget about the family chemistry.  Being mindful of your family and submitting to your family needs will lead to a long-lasting and healthy family.

Gottman’s Sound Relationship House Part 2

gottman 2This is the second part in a series on John Gottman’s famous Sound Relationship House. You can find the first installment Gottman’s Sound Relationship House Part 1.

The second level of the Sound Relationship House is called Share Fondness and Admiration. Gottman says it is the antidote to contempt, which is the most damaging emotion that can be shared in a relationship. Expressing fondness and admiration builds a foundation of caring and respect and puts “money in the love bank.”

Show fondness and admiration by:
*Saying I love you.
*Giving compliments.
*Bragging about your partner to others.
*Making him/her a priority in your life.
*Verbally expressing appreciation.

Read more in John Gottman’s books which can be found in our Pre-Marital/Marital Couples section here.