Mud or Stars

>> Saturday, December 19, 2009

I am a person who keeps important paper for as long as I can. You never know when you will need the information. It is the writer in me. I can't help it. Anyway, the other day I was going through some old cards, yes I save those too. I am sentimental. I found a white index card with an encouraging message that a friend gave me during my early days of marriage. I started remembering the feelings that came back when she gave the card to me. I was having a hard time in my marriage and she said I hope this encourages you. She is a single professional who was reading a book, she never told me the title of the book, that simply put, encouraged her. She said, "I hope it will encourage you also". It was only two lines that read like this:

Two women looked through prison bars,
one saw mud the other stars.

From that time on I realized your outlook on your situation is important and up to you, not the other person. Everyone's relationship and life has problems. It's how you choose to handle them. The mental state you decide to be in makes a world of a difference. So I now pass the index card to you. "I hope it will encourage you also."


Naughty Or Nice

>> Saturday, December 12, 2009

Well, I do not know if you have ever heard of a Naughty or Nice Party but it is a must go for any married woman. A friend of mine (MM) hosts this event during the Christmas Holidays to inspire intimacy and closeness in marriages. This is my second of three. Usually there is a guest speaker but this time everyone put their questions in a bag and when drawn, anyone can answer or give input. It was very real as well as sobering to hear what is going on in other people's marriages. It sets a mark for normalcy as sometimes you can think you're on the verge of divorce, when you're not or just think you must be flat out going crazy.

Everyone learned something. One question was about uncomfortability in hearing her husbands struggles or lets say temptations. Such great advice was given which would be opposite of what you would think the average person would say. "You should be glad he comes to you to talk about it. When he doesn't communicate then you should worry." Also, "Do not take it personally, many men are visual, as well as can't help to look at what other women are wearing now a days, especially in the summer!" We learned that we can protect our husbands by offensive strategies, being intimate often, wearing our Secret Santa Presents from the party, lol, listing in a letter all the ways that he is wonderful, placing post its for him around your house (on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, on the remote and tv, on the door to leave, in his car, etc.) The oldest married (CH) received a bonus gift and one of the highlights of the evening were three books. Book of Solomon's "Song of Songs", "The Five Love Languages" and a new book "The Love Dare". All were said to be absolutely amazing, a must read! I have the other two, which are amazing but will be purchasing the newest one today. I was convinced after two pages were read, that I NEED this book.


Updating Status

>> Sunday, December 06, 2009

A coworker showed this to me. How cool. We have come a long way in technologically, as it is hard to believe, at one time we used Horns and Trumpets for making announcements :)

I had to take off the You Tube Video of a couple at the alter, updating their marriage status on Facebook. The copy write of the video now belongs to the bride so I had to delete the video. It was funny.


Destiny or Choice

>> Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I was just thinking, the person who you married was it destiny that brought you and your spouse together or did you have the freedom to choose your spouse? If it was destiny then no matter who you dated, liked, was head over heals for, hurt you, made you laugh, strongly suggested by parents, had a crush on, etc. These were just learning experiences because everything aligned to that path for when you met your significant other. Or is it the universal law, which says everyone has a choice. Love's best expression is not through force or control but by your freedom to choose. Even if you were destined to marry the person you are with now, at any moment you could have said no. Thereby, saying yes to them could have been a good choice among many choices or options.

The idea of Destiny can seem so romantic but so can choice, which would say, "out of all these people I have chosen you". What are your thoughts as this can go both ways.


People Make Mistakes

>> Friday, November 27, 2009

Mistakes and Forgiveness are the opposite of each other. With mistakes come the extension of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a measure and everyone's measuring tape is of a different size. When measuring, one must use critical thinking. One must sum up the size of the mistake to their forgiveness measure. Aiming for accuracy and great patience. Love is the accelerator to forgiveness, causing this process to be automatic. Graciousness is the Pixie Dust of forgiveness.

Humanistically, the measure you use on yourself you use as a standard toward everyone else. Ex. If you are hard on yourself when it comes to making mistakes you will be hard on others and not gracious in extending forgiveness. Also visa versa. If your lacks on yourself then forgiveness comes easy to extend to others. Either way can be harmful. The secret is to take ourselves out of the analysis.We should always lean towards caution or graciousness. There is also the measure you use on yourself which should not be extreme one way or the other. Self analysis is always the most difficult and help "outside of your head" is usually necessary, otherwise you will always be right :) Here too, graciousness should be sprinkled.

Lastly, if you are being taken advantaged of this is where you should be hard on yourself and that other person. Dr. Phil says, "We teach people how to treat us". I believe this to be true. In the mist of extending forgiveness, mistakes can become deliberate acts whether conscious or unconscious and should be handled urgently.



>> Saturday, November 21, 2009

My husband and I are always amazed and kept laughing by our two kids. Sometimes I'm left hysterically laughing while crying and sometimes I have no words. I can only shake my head. My little one has developed this new ability to put odd words together like when something doesn't smell good he says, "eeew, it smells like dirty carrots!" My most memorable conversation was a serious one at the age of three. It went like this, "Mama? There is this black thing that follows me wherever I go. He won't leave me alone and he only comes when in the sun. Me-"That's your shadow honey. Everyone has one. He will not harm you". Youngest-"Sha-dow?" I thought it was sheer brilliance that he was able to put together the fact that the sun revealed his shadow, but amazed through seeing new thing through his eyes.

My oldest son is a force to be reckoned with. He is the more serious one. My most memorable moment with him was last year at a show. We sat in the middle row. As I was speaking to someone on my left, he calls me, as he is sitting next to me on my right. When I turned to look at him I realized he had been digging in my bag. His right hand pops straight up in the air with a tampon. "What's this mommy?" I couldn't get his hands down fast enough as he says it again. "It's mommy's." Then the third question, "What do you need it for?" "I'll tell you later." "Tell me now"... (This was the shake your head moment).

But tonight we all saw Astro Boy. I have learned to love children's movies as most have a good moral and I am a sucker for a good moral at the end of a story. Without telling too much, it is a father and son movie. As I was putting my oldest son to bed tonight I whispered, "Did you like the movie?" He said sleepily, "Yes". I though he would fall asleep with that said, but instead whispered back, "Yeah, People Makes Mistakes". I was floored by his comment at 6 years old and will be using his words on my next post. Until then, (yawn) good night.



>> Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"...utilizing the untapped strengths and resources of those relationships."

Part II

Sometimes when we are in the mist of a problem, we cannot see a way out. We do not even realize we have a wealth of resources and strengths that go untapped. They exist all around us and even in the most darkest hour we blindly make our way through life without wanting to ask for help. Even the most sensible of us, the most intelligent and the most experienced loose our way. We can help other but our second quadrant for Johari's Window is evident.

The word "Help" is a taboo. All wise decisions come from the willingness to see the word "Help" as your best friend. For many of us we have not been married before. This is your first time. Why not get help in your marriage. Those who have been married more than once should be the most eager to get help as they would not want to make the same mistakes they have been making. It takes strength to ask for help and with that these are a few helpful tips for strengthening your marriage.

1. Meet with other couples. You can gauge how well you are doing. Couples tend to serve as mirrors, reflecting the positives and negatives in your relationship.
2. Depending on your need, go to couples therapy. You'll get valuable insights and skills that help to strengthen your marriage.
3. If finances allow, go on a spontaneous trip. In my city you can take a weekend trip on a cruise. The tickets are cheap because you don't know where the cruise is going until you get there. Usually it is somewhere warm.
4. Make coupons. Your partner can redeem them as they like. One free back rub. One breakfast in bed. One late sleep in. One free chore, ex dishes.
5. Drawing on each others strength. Actually take the advice your spouse gives you when it comes to something that is your weakness and their strength. It will express to them that their opinion is important and that you respect them.

*Each suggestion should be applied based on the needs in the marriage. Please fell free to add some other strengthening tips that have not been mentioned.



>> Friday, November 13, 2009

"The problems of individuals and families are influenced by, and influence, their contexts. Problems are resolved by altering the relationships surrounding and involved with them, often by utilizing the untapped strengths and resources of those relationships."-Adapted from Fraenkel, P. (1997). Systems approaches to couple therapy. In K. Halford and H. Markman (Eds.), Clinical handbook of marriage and couple interventions (pp. 379-413). Chicester, England: John Wiley & Sons.

In a marriage you often hear "my spouse has changed or this is not the person I married". This is a profound idea for me, that crystallized during lecture, as I sat in Dr. Fraenkel's course on Family and Couple's counseling. In some cases, after marriage, people do "let their hair down" so that the other spouse can see the real them. This is more of a complement that they feel they are comfortable enough for their spouse to see the real them. But after that threshold, people grow.

With each problem, tension is created, decisions are prompted, solutions are made and the relationship is altered. "This is not the person I married" usually comes about a couple of years after being married. That's because they are not the same person. They have changed and what's more you have changed also. Marriage really is a cycle. Not only is the marriage continually being renewed. You are both developmentally changing as well. You really do become one and there is always the struggle, which involves a striving to be harmonious. The beauty is that your different, adding to the quality of marriage; different ways to attack a situation, another take on how to handle a issue, input from your partner to help you make the best decisions. This takes great strength to consider your partners advice. You do not have to implement it but there's growth in the ability to absorb information from those close to you.

"My spouse has changed is a good thing." It throws us off, and that can be very frustrating to us. The first 5 to 7 years can be difficult but if you can get past the markers it gets much better. You'll have practice at working together as partners. You both grow wiser as well. I'll continue with the second parts on strengths in my next entry. Comments? Questions?


Just say sorry.

>> Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I don't know what happened. Things were going so well today and then we got into a blame shifting argument. I remember a friend told me, "Sometimes all you have to say is sorry. Then leave it. This way is so much more sincere than, I'm sorry...(and then reasoning for why you did what you did, or what they did that caused you to...). It's so much more powerful to hear, "I'm sorry" (silence). It is also an argument defuser. But it is hard to do. That's probably why they say it takes a strong or bigger person to say I'm sorry. It's even harder to say it first.


The Test

>> Monday, November 09, 2009

Well, I was locked out of my house yesterday. I went to take out the garbage and my younger son wanted to escort me, then before you know it, my eldest came in the hall and SLAM! The slam lock is on and I have on shorts and bare feet. My children have on pajamas on a Sunday afternoon. My husband was not home and he has the other keys. We have the best neighbors so I rang all three door bells and no one was home. Then out of the doorway comes Karen, our neighbor who lives adjacent to us. She takes us into her beautiful home and is the best host to my children. She allowed me to use her telephone to call my husband.

After twenty minutes I called him again. Then Karen, the well known writer that she is, asked surprisingly, in the mist of our many topical conversations, "I find interaction between couples very interesting". She noticed that I did not call my husband more than twice in twenty minutes, when I was locked out with two children. She proceeded to ask questions about our communication. You know that sudden awareness of openness that you get when your taken aback by a thought provoking question. You do what you do by routine and don't stop to analyze your actions. In the past suspicion of my husband would have flooded over me. In the mist of her thought provoking question I realized that I have grown. The most jealous woman in the world felt so calm and no longer defensive. "He will call me back and I will reach him. He does not know this number that I am calling from and he has probably been calling me to say he is on his way home, but my cell phone is at home".

On the third call he picked up and heard my voice saying, "where are you I have been trying to call you?" He was very happy to hear we were fine and that it was Karen who took care of us. This was also part of my lack of serious reaction due to the fact that I knew we were in good hands. The three of us were glad to see my husband as he was parking the car when we spoke to him on the phone. Karen suggested that I enter this in my blog as it is an event worth blogging but for me it was a small test in my relationship. Sometimes when your in an unexpected situation, your character will be tested and revealed.


Financial Advice

>> Saturday, November 07, 2009

A co-worker at a former job once asked me if I thought her and her fiance should share a bank account when they get married. It was only about my second year of marriage and I said of course you should have a joint account. She didn't seem happy about that but kept her stance that she will always have a separate account. Many years later and after spending time with numerous couples I have realized that my advice was not the best one.

During three years of marriage, my husband and I bounced checks because we did not communicate, and what we bought was belittled, as though "your wasting our money", and that was on both of our parts. We tried being discipline but we would never be disciplined at the same time. To our shame, once the lights were turned off because there was not designated person to pay the bills. So when I came home candles were on and I thought I walked into a romantic scene in a novel, until his voice was slow deep and steady. "Did you remember to pay the light bill?" I felt a rock drop in my stomach. You mean the candles were on because we had no electricity? I blurted, "I thought you were paying the electricity bill after last weeks conversation". That was a bad and silent night for us and I wish I could say we changed right away but it went on for some time.

Today, we have a system that works for us. That should have been the answer to my co-worker. What system works for the both of you? There are couples who do great with joint accounts. For me and my husband, we have separate savings accounts and a lead person who pays the bills. Both partners should take on this role for a stated period of time. The couple can also just have one person take care of the finances but this takes great humility and patience on the part of the other spouse without criticism; suggestions are always great, then leave it at that. As usual communication on both parts is important. Whether on a spreadsheet or by summary of a few numbers, whatever works for keeping the lights on. Lastly, I have learned from other couples to put the bulk of your pay in the joint account to pay the bills. Put a little to the side in your own savings or other account to build up to buying "what you want".


What did you say?

>> Thursday, November 05, 2009

I had been talking for quit some time pouring out my day as he fiddled around the bedroom. He eventually picked up his laptop, turned and said my most hated words: What did you say? After all that. Why did you not stop me? How could you not know I was talking to you, for so long. I hear similar scenarios, quite a few times from couples. There's always one spouse that is more verbal. Even when they are both introverts, one is always more verbal and it doesn't have to be the woman. I once met a couple where the wife had no complaints of her husband except that he drove her crazy. Believe it or not he wanted to resolve and work out problems, had input on every aspect of how the children should be cared for, and spontaneously spoke about his gigs, friendships, goals (the list continued to increase); until she would make faces and turn a deaf ear. Sometimes the eyes even rolled. She made many attempts to be conscious during the one way conversation yet after some time had no more room in her cup.

All the time I was thinking my husband was inconsiderate and that he was the problem until I met my match with the extrovert husband. Watching that couple helped me to get a grip and a balance. As odd and hilarious as it was to watch the tables be turned in someone else's marriage, helped me to ask my husband if he is busy before I go ahead ranting and raving. What did you say has now become my measure.


Live Ever After

>> Wednesday, October 28, 2009

As married couples we can live together and miss the mark for"happy ever after". This forum welcomes married couples who are in need of encouragement, support, and advice.