Love Everlasting Part 2!!!

Last week I discussed how to make a marriage/relationship long lasting. For me and my spouse it is having a solid foundation with God and unconditional love for one another. Plus not worrying about what someone thinks we may be missing out on….. the whole grass is greener scenario. I listed the first three keys to a long-term relationship based on an article written by Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. published in Psychology Today: titled 7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success. 4-7 are as follows: 4-7 Keys for a successful long-term relationship are as follows:

4. Does Your Partner’s Communication Lift You Up or Bring You Down?

Dr. John Gottman of the University of Washington, a foremost expert on couple studies, concluded after over twenty years of research that the single, best predictor of divorce is when one or both partners show contempt in the relationship.

Contempt, the opposite of respect, is often expressed via negative judgment, criticism, or sarcasm regarding the worth of an individual. In communication studies, this is known as being “tough on the person, soft on the issue.” An effective communicator knows how to separate the person from the issue (or behavior), and be soft on the person and firm on the issue. An ineffective communicator will do the opposite – he or she will literally “get personal” by attacking the person, while minimizing or ignoring the issue.

For example:

Ineffective communication: “You are so stupid!”
Effective communication: “You’re a smart person, and what you did this morning was not very smart.”

Ineffective communication: “You never do any chores. You’re useless!”
Effective communication: “I noticed that you didn’t do the chores this week.”

Ineffective communication: “You’re always forgetting about me – do you even have a clue?”
Effective communication: “I know you have a lot on your mind lately, and I think it would be good for us to have a date night to reconnect.”

Contemptuous communication works like poison – it destroys the health and well-being of a romantic relationship.

Consider the following questions:

  • Does your partner’s communication lift you up, or bring you down?
  • Is your partner’s communication with you “soft on the person, firm on the issue,” or the other way around?
  • What about your communication with your partner?

If your relationship suffers from ineffective communication, the good newsis that as long as you and your partner are willing, improvements can be learned quickly and put to use immediately. For more resources on this topic, click on titles & download free excerpts of my publications: “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People,” “How to Successfully Handle Passive-Aggressive People,” and “Communication Success with Four Personality Types.”

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”   Brian Tracy

5. How do You and Your Partner Deal with Conflict in the Relationship?

It’s normal for a couple to quarrel from time to time – just part of what it means to be together. Conflicts and arguments won’t necessarily jeopardize a relationship. In fact, there are times when disagreements can actually bring a couple closer together. The key is in how you and your partner decide to handle the conflict.

Couples with poor conflict resolution skills typically engage in Fight, Flight, or Freeze behaviors. They fight and stay mad, sometimes holding grudges for years. They flight and avoid important issues by sweeping them under the rug. Or, after endless arguments with no resolution in sight, they freeze emotionally and shut down. Someone who freezes in a relationship typically goes through the motions on the outside, but has stopped caring on the inside.

Successful couples have the ability to solve problems and let it go. They focus on taking care of the issue rather than attacking the person. Even when angry, they find ways to be upset and stay close at the same time. Once the matter is resolved, they forgive and forget. Most importantly, successful couples have the ability to learn and grow through their interpersonal difficulties. Like fine wine, their relationship improves with age and gets better over time.

I was sitting at a coffee shop once when I witnessed a brilliant example of an elderly couple’s conflict resolution. They were sitting next to me when the husband accidently knocked a cup of water over the table and onto his wife. As he got up to get some napkins, his wife announced to everyone: “He’s been doing this to me for twenty-three years!” And as the husband gently cleaned off the spill on his wife, he turned to us and said: “She deserves it!” His wife laughed. He laughed. We all laughed.

“The group with whom I’ve always been most fascinated is the one I call ‘marital masters’ – folks who are so good at handling conflict that they make marital squabbles look like fun. It’s not that these couples don’t get mad and disagree. It’s that when they disagree, they’re able to stay connected and engaged with each other. Rather than becoming defensive and hurtful, they pepper their disputes with flashes of affection, intense interest, and mutual respect.” – John Gottman

“Let the little things go. People who struggle often fight over little things. We obsess over things that don’t really matter. We create resistance instead of letting things glide off us. Let the little things go, breathe, and move on to the important things.” – Leo Baubauta

“…and at the end, so much of it turns out not to matter.” – from “Evening”

6. How do You and Your Partner Handle External Adversity and Crisis Together?

Several years ago, my elderly mother sustained a major injury and became incapacitated. My wife, the amazing woman that she is, helped me care for my mom. When I told my wife how grateful I was for all that she’d done, she simply smiled and said: “No problem, she’s MY mom too!” The flip side of this example is once when my wife felt extremely stressed studying for a professional exam, I poured over a three hundred page study guide and outlined it for her. I simply wanted to help make her task a little easier.

Like all couples, my wife and I are a journey in progress. One of the traits I’ve noticed about highly successful and enduring relationships is the partners’ ability to stand together in the face of external challenges. A true test of a relationship is whether two people have each others’ back when times are tough.

Consider these questions:

  • Do external adversity and crisis bring you and your partner closer together, or pull you farther apart?
  • In difficult life circumstances, do you and your partner act like adults or children?
  • Can you and your partner share the bad times, or only enjoy the good times?

“Companions who have endured physical challenges together… form a bond that can last a lifetime.”

– Ronald Adler and Russell Proctor II

For more on how to stay strong in the face of life’s challenges, click on title & download free excerpts of my publication: “The 7 Keys to Life Success.”

7. Do You Have Compatible Financial Values?

Numerous studies have identified disagreements over finances as one of the top reasons couples seek marital counseling, as well as one of the top reasons for divorce. While a variety of financial factors can affect nuptial happiness, such as the level of one’s consumer debt and spending habits, one of the most striking statistics is the correlation between frequency of financial disagreements and divorce. According to Jeffrey Dew of the National Marriage Project, “Couples who reported disagreeing about finances once a week were over 30 percent more likely to divorce over time than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times per month.”

Differences in financial values often appear early in a relationship. For example, who pays for the first date? What about the second date? And the third? Is your partner happy when you give a thoughtful but non-monetary birthday gift, or will he or she feel disappointed because you didn’t purchase something? Additional questions to consider:

  • Do you and your partner argue over finances regularly?
  • Do you often cringe when you see your partner buy items you believe are a waste of money, or vise-versa?
  • Is your partner generally happy with what he or she owns, or is there a constant, insatiable desire to always acquire more? What about you?
  • Are you and your partner able to solve financial difficulties and differences as a team?

Formulating with your partner a viable financial plan, paying attention to patterns of financial discontent, initiating conversations early to resolve differences, and seeking financial or couples counseling when needed are some of the keys to maintaining financial peace.

“Married couples don’t have to be facing poverty or a job loss for financial issues to impact their marriage. Rather, decisions like whether to make a major purchase using consumer credit or how much of a paycheck to put into savings can have substantial consequences for the short-term and long-term health of a marriage. In particular, couples who are wise enough to steer clear of materialism and consumer debt are much more likely to enjoy connubial bliss.” – Jeffrey Dew

In closing, whether you’re single, dating, or in a committed relationship, these seven keys to long-term relationship success may serve as a “check-up” of your relational health and well-being. With self-honesty, openness, and a desire to grow, you can significantly increase the possibility of not only having a wonderful partner in life, but making the love last. To grow old with your life mate, knowing that in each other’s warm embrace you have found Home.

 

Love Everlasting Part 1!!!

 

This month my husband and I are celebrating 18 years of marriage. Being married for almost two decades several friends have asked, how you make marriage work for so long? And “do you ever think about the grass being greener on the other side?” My answer, first having a God fearing spouse and having a deep loving relationship with God is key. Secondly, I never wonder about the grass on the other side because I get all that I need on my side. The following is an article titled 7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success written by Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. published in Psychology Today: The first three Keys for a successful long-term relationship are as follows:

 

7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success

Most of us want to meet and settle down with the “right” person, and most of us want such a relationship to last. Have you ever seen an elderly couple holding hands, taking a romantic walk on the beach or in a park? You may think to yourself: “That’s how I want to be when I grow old.”

It’s a wonderful notion: having someone as your mate in a happy and lasting relationship. At the same time, over fifty percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Between what we want, and the reality of our society, there’s a deep chasm of false hopes and unfulfilled promises.  What are some of the most important ideas when it comes to making your love last? Below are seven keys to long-term relationship success.

1. Do You Trust Your Partner?

Trust is the first and perhaps most important predictor of long-term relational success. Without trust, none of the other six predictors that follow will have much meaning. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • In general, is your partner reliable and dependable?
  • Does he or she keep important promises and agreements?
  • Can you count on your partner as the “rock” in your life?
  • What about you for your partner?

For some of us, trust is a complicated matter. Some people trust blindly. They are with someone who has shown time and again to be untrustworthy, yet they continue to give that person underserved chances. As the saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” To allow a chronically untrustworthy individual to be one’s significant other is to create an inherently insecure relationship, which may ultimately lead to disillusionment. Evaluate your partner’s trustworthiness based not upon unproven promises or wishful thinking, but on a strong overall record of dependability.

While some people trust blindly, others have trust issues. Often due to negative experiences from the past, there are those who can’t trust a committed relationship, or the opposite sex, or people in general, or even themselves. In romantic relationships, they struggle to trust their mate, no matter how dependable their partner is. Here, of course, the trust issue is likely within oneself. Ask honestly whether the lack of trust is based on solid evidence or unjustified fears. If the answer is the latter, it may be beneficial to seek counseling and support, to allow oneself to trust appropriately again. Don’t allow fear push away a good man or woman in your life.

“For it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together. Our friends seldom profit us but they make us feel safe. Marriage is a scheme to accomplish exactly that same end.”  – H. L. Mencken

2. Are You and Your Partner Compatible in the Dimensions of Intimacy?

Authors Ronald Adler and Russell Proctor II identified four ways with which we can feel closely connected with our significant other. The four dimensions of intimacy are:

Physical – Hugging, kissing, caressing, cuddling, holding, and other forms of physical affection. Physical intimacy certainly includes sexual intercourse, but doesn’t have to. As long as other aspects of the relationship remain sound, physical intimacy between partners can often last a lifetime, even if sexual potency diminishes due to factors such as health, age, and stress.

“Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of all eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you.”  – Jacques Prévert

Emotional – The ability to effectively express and validate tender, loving emotions, in a manner that’s nourishing and constructive, and being able to respond affirmatively when the other person does the same. For example: “How are you doing?” “How are you feeling?” “I love you,” “I appreciate you,” “I like it when we talk like this,” “I’m glad we’re spending this time together,” “you’re very important in my life,” “I’m sorry.”

A person’s “heart withers if it does not answer another heart.”  – P. Buck

Intellectual – Can brains be attractive and sexy? Absolutely! Especially for those who feel a sense of kinship when they engage in discussions or endeavors with a partner whom they feel is an intellectual equal.

“The marriage was a meeting of hearts and minds both. Madame Lavoisier had an incisive intellect and soon was working productively alongside her husband (chemist Antoine Lavoisier)…they managed to put in five hours of science on most days – two in the early morning and three in the evening – as well as the whole of Sunday, which they call their day of happiness.”  – Bill Bryson

Shared Activates – Interactions that build a positive memory bank of shared experiences. Examples include playing, cooking, dancing, exercising, art-making, traveling, worshipping, and problem-solving together. In this dimension, it’s not just the activity that matters, but whether two people are able to bond while interacting with one another.

“When partners spend time together, they can develop unique ways of relating that transform the relationship from an impersonal one to an interpersonal one.”  – Ronald Adler and Russell Proctor II

For more on love and intimacy, see “Irresistible and Funny Quotes About Love to Brighten Your Day.”

Here’s a quick exercise to check you and your partner’s compatibility in intimacy. List the four dimensions as follows:

_______________________________________________________

Partner A                                     Partner B

Physical

Emotional

Intellectual

Shared Activities

_______________________________________________________

Next to each dimension, rank whether this is a “Must” have, “Should” have, or “Could” have for you in your romantic relationship. “Must” means this dimension is crucial for you, without which you would feel the relationship amiss. “Should” means this dimension is good to have, but you don’t necessarily have to experience it every day. “Could” means this dimension is relatively unimportant – you can take it or leave it.

After answering for yourself, next ask your partner to rank, or on your own put down how you think your partner would prioritize. Below is one example of some possible combinations:

_______________________________________________________

                                               Partner A               Partner B       

Physical Intimacy                   Must            Must      (Excellent Comp.)

Emotional Intimacy              Must           Should   (Good Compatibility)

Intellectual Intimacy           Should        Should   (Good Compatibility)

Shared Activities                   Could          Must       (Poor Compatibility)

_______________________________________________________

The more “must-must” and “must-should” combinations between you and your partner, the greater the possibility of an intimate relationship.

If there are one or more “must-could” combinations, dialogue with your significant other to see if the “Could” can be transitioned to a “Should.” For example, a partner who’s not very physically affectionate can learn to give a hug a day, or a spouse who’s emotionally reserved can learn to share important feelings when necessary. While some expressions of intimacy may come to us more naturally than others, we’re all capable of learning and growing in new directions.

When left unreconciled. The “must-could” combination, even if manageable in the short-term(perhaps due to the intensity of sexual attraction and/or relative newness of the relationship), may in the long run become problematic. Few experiences in a romantic relationship feel more lonesome than an unmet “Must” need for intimacy.

Since relationships are not static, a couple may evolve in the dimensions of intimacy. Even similar intimacy preferences need flexibility to mesh and jell. Understanding one another’s priorities, and connecting in ways that are important to both partners help ensure long-term relational success.

“Complex, fulfilling relationships don’t appear in our lives fully formed. Rather, they develop one encounter at a time.”

“The key to a happy marriage isn’t having a “normal” personality but finding someone with whom you mesh.”  – John Gottman

3. What Type of Person Shows Up Within You in this Relationship?

Consider the friends in your life. Do different friends bring out different sides of you? Maybe you’re more reserved with one and more rambunctious with another. Perhaps you’re patient with some and quarrel with others. A friend may trigger your higher or lower tendencies.

Just as a friend can elicit a particular side of you, so does your partner. Consider the following questions:

  • Does my better self show up when I’m with my partner?
  • Does my worse self show up when I’m with my partner?
  • Perhaps it’s a combination of both? If so, what situations tend to bring out a particular side of me?
  • Fundamentally, do I like myself in this relationship?

Your honest answers to these questions offer important clues to the long-term health and happiness of your relationship.

“Around people who are positive…I’m happier and able to be who I am.” – from the Internet

 

 

 

 

I Double Dare You!!!

During a conversation I had this week with one of my sisters, we began to discuss a conversation my husband and I had a day or so before. The topic of conversation me and my list of Things Not to Do!!! Of course, she took my husband’s stance on this matter and basically called me a chicken… A CHICKEN…wt??? I do not think my list not to do’s is extremely unreasonable. Some chose danger, I chose life. I do not have to desire to take unnecessary risk with my life. Nevertheless, I listened to both of them basically say that I was afraid to live and not scared of dying. Wow, this got me thinking…so I told them to come up with a list of things they know I would absolutely never ever do in a billion years and I would complete some of the task given before the end of the year. My one stipulation, in any form or fashion could snakes be involved!!! That being said they both gave me their To Do List for me…yikes!!! My goal is to complete at least one task a month rotating lists. Some things on my lists are: Snorkeling, Helicopter Ride, Hang Gliding, Zip Lining, Pole Dancing, Salsa Dancing, Parasailing, Mountain Climbing, Horseback Riding, Obstacle Course and River Rafting are a few. Yes, I am accepting the challenge and stepping out of my comfort zone just a wee bit. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!!!

How fitting…..While surfing the web I came across this article written by Yasha Wallin:

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” The idea being the more we take ourselves out of our comfort zones—our little bubbles—the more we will experience life, community, the unexpected. Confront your fears: speak up, talk to a stranger, take a dance class, ask for someone’s phone number, climb a mountain, learn to surf, begin writing that novel, go to a party alone, tell someone you love them. Let’s all take the challenge!!!

Who’s with me?

Should We Share Bank Accounts?

money couple

Over the years I have counseled numerous couples.  One of the most interesting but not shocking things that I have learned is the lack of trust in each other when it comes to money.  Many of these couples claim to have an undying love for each other.  I don’t doubt it, for the most part, they do.  These are the couples who quote things like; I would give my life for my wife, there’s nothing I would not do for my husband, my wife can have my first and my last dime.  Really???  Then why is it that most of these same couples refuse to share bank accounts?  Not to say that you have to, but I wonder why?  Is it the accountability, control, greed, selfishness, or is it out right deceit?  Come on; let’s be honest.  Why would you not want your spouse to know how much money you make, how much money you have, and also to know when and where you are spending it?  After all, isn’t marriage a partnership?  For the most part, there are some who believe that their money is their business and their business only.  Wow!  Must I remind you that these are predominately Christian couples too.  The bible says in Amos 3:3, can two walk together, except they be agreed?  In order for things to run well in your marriage, the husband and the wife must walk in agreement with one another.  It is called partnership!  Does this means that you have to share bank accounts?  Of course not. But if your spouse ask you to share accounts; why would you have a problem with it?  If you love, trust and are committed and devoted to your marriage; surely there would be no problem sharing the money accounts right? 

Take a moment to reflect on your marriage.  How do you feel about this subject?  Would you share bank accounts with your spouse???

Dealing with Difficult People

difficult people

No matter what we do in life, there will always be one thing that we will have to deal with.  We will have to always deal with “people.”  I am not referring to ordinary, pleasant, inviting people.  I am referring to “difficult people.”  Some people are just so difficult!  It seems like no matter how hard you try, you can never satisfy them or their needs.  So what do we do when we are confronted with these type people? Psychology Today list several ways to deal with these individuals.  You may want to take note of these tips.  Who knows when you will run across a “difficult” person.  Then again, you may be living with one…

Tips

1.  Keep your cool

Benefits: Maintain self control. Avoid escalation of problem.

2.  “Fly like an Eagle”

Benefits: More peace of mind. Reduce risk of friction

3. Shift from Being Reactive to Proactive

Benefits: Minimize misinterpretation & misunderstanding. Concentrate energy on problem-solving.

4. Pick Your Battles

Benefits: Save time, energy and grief. Avoid unnecessary problems and complications.

5. Separate the Person from the Issue

Benefits: Establish yourself as a strong problem solver with excellent people skills. Win more rapport, cooperation and respect.

6.  Put the Spotlight on Them

Benefits: Proactive. Equalize power in communication. Apply appropriate pressure to reduce difficult behavior.

7.  Use Appropriate Humor

Benefits: Disarm unreasonable and difficult behavior when correctly used. Show your detachment. Avoid being reactive. Problem rolls off your back.

8.  Change from Following to Leading

Benefit: Leverage direction and flow of communication.

9.  Safely, Confront Bullies

Benefits: Reduce or eliminate harmful behavior. Increase confidence and peace of mind.

10.  Set Consequence

Benefits: Proactive not reactive. Shift balance of power. Win respect and cooperation when appropriately applied.

 

 

 

 

 

Raising a Financially Responsible Teen Part II!!!

 

Last week I discussed finding a happy median regarding spending and saving for teens. I believe our son is on the right track for becoming financially responsible. Although, I have noticed he is a lot freer with spending my money than his own…go figure!!! While surfing the web I came across this article written by Crystal Paine published in Mom Advice Insight to Empower that details steps for raising a financially responsible teen. It is as follows:

Raising Financially Responsible Teens

In today’s money-driven society, teens are constantly bombarded by magazines, television ads, and peer pressure which make them feel less than ideal if they do not wear the latest clothing style and drive a “cool” car. Briefly visit your local mall and you will observe multitudes of young people who shop as if credit cards have no maximum spending limit. With all this push for extravagance, is it even possible to raise your teens with money sense and save them from making serious financial mistakes?

Although I have yet to have teenagers of my own, I was blessed to be raised by parents who taught me from a young age to be a wise steward of money. Let me share some things my parents did to instill in me that money is a limited resource and must be spent with care.

1. Start Early

Just because your child is too young to have a real job, does not mean it is too early to start teaching basic financial principles. From the time we were little, we always received an “allowance” from our parents. We only received this money if we had done all of our daily/weekly chores. This taught us that money is not free; it is earned.

2. Set An Example

You cannot expect your teens to wisely spend money if you do not set a good example for them. Do your children see you buying things on credit because you want them now and do not have the patience to wait until you are able to save up enough money? My dad was an excellent example in this area. Before making any large purchase (such as a car), he first decided what he could afford. Then, he began shopping around. Sometimes it would take him close to a year to find what he was looking for, for the price he wanted to pay. His patience always paid off and it left an indelible impression upon me.

3. Don’t Buy Everything For Them

It is easy for many parents to want to “help teens out” by buying most everything for them. But, is this truly “helping”? When your teenager enters the real world on their own, they are going to have some hard lessons to learn if you always bought everything they needed and wanted for them. As soon as we were able to begin earning money, my dad had us start paying for some of our own things such as clothes, gifts for other people, things we wanted, and so on. Because my parents did not buy everything for us, it taught me the value of hard work, to think before I spend, and to look for the best buy.

4. Teach Your Teens the Value of Hard Work

In a day when laziness is rampant, teach your teens instead the importance of being a hard worker. What you work for, you usually appreciate more. If your teenager has worked hard to buy themselves a car, it can be almost guaranteed that they will appreciate it more and take better care of it.

5. Train Your Teens to Think Before They Spend

This might seem like a no-brainer, but learning to think before I spend has literally saved me hundreds of dollars over the years. Teach your teens to ask themselves at least three questions before making any purchase:

•  Do I have the money on hand to pay for this?

•  Do I need this?

•  Can I buy this somewhere else for less?

Oftentimes, in asking these questions, I will talk myself out of making the purchase! I will realize I don’t really have the money to pay for it or I don’t need the item. Other times, I will think of a way I can purchase this item for less.

6. Encourage Your Teens to Get the Best Buy

In addition to asking these questions, also train your teens to look for the best deal. It is amazing what variation in prices you will find out there. For instance, the water pump burst on one of our vehicles recently. When we took it into auto shop for repair, they said that we would have to take it to a more specialized shop, since the engine would need to be taken out in order to replace the water pump. The first price we were quoted was $775. Knowing that was out of our current budget, my husband began calling around to different body shops. One place quoted him around $500 another quoted him a little over $300. By calling around to find the best deal, we are going to be saving hundreds of dollars on this repair job.
Read more at http://www.momadvice.com/Parenting/financially_responsible_teens#CDrKwXASTvHqo4O8.99
So what do you think?