Ladies’ Home Journal Magazine was onto something when they touted the importance of “The Little Meaningful Things Happily Married Couples Do.” Admittedly, as soon as I got the magazine I raced past what other couples were doing and checked to see if Steve and I were in the mix. But after I happily scoped out our 2″x3″ patch of magazine real estate and realized the focus was on the very simple things that couples did for each other, I read the whole article to see what other happy spouses were up to.
Here are 5 gems from some of the long-marrieds of the group who shared the simple acts that contributed to keeping their marriage strong:
“Whenever I need to run into town to get something, Julie grabs her shoes and comes with me. Just the fact that she’s always up for keeping me company is great.” John Skirvin, Cedar City, UT, 24 years.
From her: “My favorite meal is salmon, mashed garlic potatoes and a salad with blue-chees dressing. Every year he cooks and serves it to me while I watch the Academy Awards.” And from him: “She buys me snacks for the Super Bowl and makes sure no one interrupts me while I watch it.” Nancy and Thomas Clift, Napa, CA, 57 years.
WHAT LITTLE THINGS DO YOU OR YOUR SPOUSE DO FOR THE OTHER THAT MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE STRONGER?
Well, more from Cutie Cooper dishing up marriage talk in today’s Friday Five.* Tell us what you really think, Cutie!
On opinions: The time for having singularly strong opinions is when you are a single person. Once you choose to be one-half of a pair, you must compromise, so that no one person gets what he or she wants at the expense of the other. It may take some getting used to, but reaching decisions that you both can live with can be quite romantic since each one is a symbol of your connection.
On spending:Splurge on the things that bring real pleasure to the people you love: good food, unique experiences, a comfortable space to gather in. You’ll be far richer than if you rack up bills for material possessions that can’t be freely shared.
On guests: If good people feel happy in your home, your marriage makes the world a better place.
On tough times: If you should have a choice of whether to laugh or to cry, laugh. Laughing makes you stronger, and it does not diminish the seriousness of a situation. I think instead of turning an already bad situation into a tragedy, make it into a comic strip.
Bonus pearl – a parting shot: One thing Harry and I always held on to was our senses of humor, and a sense of humor is something I recommend you develop if you’re not fortunate enough to have one already.
Wouldn’t you love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her?
* All quotes are from Cutie’s book Fall in Love for Life – Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage.
It’s pretty common to keep a log during divorce proceedings. Jotting down notes about what’s going on with the children, visitation, the spouse’s behavior, etc.While that might help your attorney and your case, it’s probably not doing a whole lot for you emotionally during a challenging time. This is where journaling comes in. Even if you’re not much of a writer, keeping a journal – writing on a regular basis how you feel about what is going on and other related topics – can be very beneficial. This journal is FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. And here’s five reasons to give it a try:
1. It’s a place to vent. During divorce proceedings, especially when custody is involved, everybody is living under a microscope. The wrong word, a misconstrued gesture, being late for an appointment, all become fodder for leverage to be used against you. Your journal is the place you can go to just let loose – a place where nobody is judging you.
2. It helps you process the events. Some days it may feel like your head is spinning with all the information, change, and emotions that you are dealing with. Writing it down helps you sort out some of the issues and may allow you to see things more clearly.
3. It’s something you can do when there’s nothing you can do. There are so many things outside of your control during this time – court dates, who is talking to your children, the loss of property that has to be divided, and so much more. Journaling is one aspect of your life that is all yours – a go-to place that is waiting for you at your convenience.
4. It allows you to see your own evolution. At any given time, you may think you’re an absolute mess, and there’s no way it’s ever going to get better. Your own writing will show you that things do get better. Often very slowly, but it does get better. You get stronger. You evolve in how you react and handle situations. You will see that you are progressing. And the progress you see will be motivating.
5. It preserves your journey. Right now, you think you’ll never forget a moment of the pain, the conflict, the fear. But memories fade and we remember moments or overall impressions. You might be thinking: I don’t want to remember any of this. But there may very well be a time in your future when you will – it might be to help someone else going through the same struggle, to review your progress, to write your memoir – who knows what the future holds?
It may give you comfort to write in a leather bound journal that is soft to the touch. You might choose a blank book that has something uplifting on the cover. Or a printed divorce journal, like Discover Your Voice After Divorce, that has helpful thought-provoking questions that you might not think to ask yourself. Or a plain old sprial-bound notebook. Pick whatever works for you and get writing. Leaving some of your angst on paper may make your load a little lighter.
Between Mother’s Day, graduations, and weddings, your gift funds may be running a little low. And Father’s Day is right around the corner! You can still honor that special father in your life with a gift that will put a smile on his face – without having to scrounge under sofa cushions for additional funds. Here are five that range from $12.99 to $39.99. Just click on the pictures for more info about the products.
1. BBQ Grill Light. I happened to like the name of this one (Man Law BBQ Grill Light – they had me at “Law”) pictured here, but shop around – not only are there plenty to choose from, I saw $20 differences in price on the same models. (Best price I found on this one was $29.95)
2. Shower squids. I bet he doesn’t have one of these! It holds his shower items without the muck that accumulates when they’re sitting on a shelf. There is a short YouTube video that demonstrates how to extend the arms and ‘tentacles.’ (On the site there is a small picture with an arrow on it under the big picture) ($36.00)
3. Dad Caddy. Is he always looking for his keys or his wallet? Is he the keeper of the TV remote? Here’s a way to coral all the stuff he might be looking for in one place! ($39.99)
4. Shoe socks. With these shoes he can actually put his feet up on the coffee table without getting any grief! Note they come in loafers and casual tennies! ($18.00)
5. A fun read. Father and son. Bill and Willie Giest (news correspondent and Today Show host, respectively) teamed up to author Good Talk, Dad – the Birds and the Bees . . . and Other Conversations We Forgot to Have. Here’s how Amazon has summarized the book: “Told in a unique back-and-forth banter style, the hilarious father-son team will laugh together at the shared journey of their relationship. They’ll riff on fatherhood, religion, music, sports, summer camp disasters, driving lessons gone horribly wrong, being on TV, and their wonderfully odd family life. Think Big Russ and Me meets S*** My Dad Says, with humorous observations about professional wrestling as a worldview, raising a kid with television cameras in the kitchen, and anything and everything else that comes to their witty minds.” ($12.99-$25.00)
After my recent post calling for brides-and-grooms-to-be to evaluate whether or not they should get married, I wanted to make it clear that I think marriage is a wonderful thing. For the right people! If you’re stumped for a stand-out gift to present to the special couple in your life that will soon be heading down the aisle, here are 5 clever ideas!
1. Practical can be sexy. It’s all in the presentation! A fire extinguisher – especially for the couple moving into a new place – is one of those practical items that we all need but don’t buy for ourselves. Click on the picture to check out this idea from Sunburst Gifts with the gift card that turns the ordinary into a perfect gift!
2. Make it personal. With this self-inking stamp the happy couple announce over and over again their new status.
3. A fun way to say hello to their new life. This custom doorknocker notes the year of ‘establishment’ while it welcomes friends!
4. A gift with room to grow. This Puzzle of Life can be bought a piece at a time or a in a themed ‘starter set’ with 3-4 pieces.
5. For the gift that keeps on giving. Whether the newlyweds are peanut butter and jelly fans, coffee lovers or avid golfers, there’s a “Month Club” to fit the bill! Most plans have options for 3, 6, 9 or 12 month gift options.
Earlier this month, when deciding what May celebration to talk about, I went with May is “Date Your Mate” month. But several other May celebrations that I wasn’t familiar with caught my eye. Here are 5 more that we still have time to celebrate.
1. Lucky Penny Day. (May 23) A day to celebrate and reinforce the belief that a lucky penny will bring good luck to the person who owns it. While I found numerous articles touting it, there was a general acknowledgement that the origin was unknown. To celebrate, get some friends to go on a penny hunt to see who can find the most in a given time. Winner takes all!
2. Tap Dance Day. (May 25) According to Wikipedia, this National holiday was signed into law November 8, 1989. The purpose of the holiday is to celebrate the American art from. The date was chosen because it is the birthday of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson – a significant contributor to tap dance history. Check with dance studios in your area to learn how it’s being celebrated locally.
3. Memorial Day. (May 26) This one is probably already on everyone’s radar. Getting a 3-day weekend is a great way to highlight this time of remembrance for those we have lost and celebrating with loved ones still with us. This brief article 10 No-Cal and Lo-Cal Memorial Day Ideas includes fun ideas that are quick to pull together – including a great game option for your holiday get-together.
4. Learn About Composting Day. (May 29) This 3-year old holiday creates an opportunity to ‘go green.’ Composting is a chemical-free way to fertilize plants and gardens using food scraps and household items that would otherwise be wasted. To celebrate the day, check out articles that explain why and how to make and use compost. Start with this one from the Tonegreen Blog.
5. National Macaroon Day. (May 31) In case you’re not familiar with this sweet, they’re small unleavened cakes with a moist chewy center and a crispy outer layer. They are generally cookie-size but not considered cookies because they don’t contain flour. It’s thought macaroons originated in Italy centuries ago. The most popular varieties are coconut, almond, and chocolate. I couldn’t find the origin of the holiday, but every article I read agreed that the way to celebrate it is to make a batch or buy some from your local bakery – then eat them. Pretty doable!
ENJOY YOUR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!
If someone asks for your advice when they are contemplating divorce, respond if you like. Or if someone you are very close to is heading down a catastrophic path and you and other loved ones are trying to help, it’s your call whether or not to say something.
But if a casual friend, acquaintance, co-worker, gym pal, or book-club buddy tells you they’re getting a divorce, they are probably not seeking your input. In such cases, here are 5 Things NOT to ask:
1. Have you considered the effects on your children? It’s hard to think of a more insulting question. Such a question presumes that you are being more considerate of their children than they are. You, who has no clue whatsoever about what goes on behind closed doors at their house.
2. Have you prayed about it? Very judgmental. Now is not the time to foist one’s own morals upon them, or to assume they don’t have any of their own. And frankly, no answer to that question will satisfy the one asking. If the answer is ‘no,’ more intrusive, intentionally guilt-inducing ‘advice’ will follow. If the answer is: “Yes, and God told me I should” is the one asking likely to believe them?
3. Were your parents divorced? Because we all know divorce is genetic, right? The question implies that, if the answer is yes, they were doomed from the start. And if the answer is ‘no,’ there must be something very wrong with them to not be able to stick it out, too. Again, take a step back and remember that you have no idea about the circumstances that led up to their decision. If it was, indeed, even their decision as opposed to one that was thrust upon them.
4. Was your spouse having an affair? Whether the question is a result of sympathy, empathy, or curiosity, this is sooooooooo none of your business. In any world, at any time, on any level.
5. Is there anything I can do? What are they suppose to say to that? This is right up there with “Call me if you need anything.” The speaker feels they have put out something compassionate, but it’s an empty offer. If you really want to help and there is something you think you can do, be specific. Such as “I know you’re scheduled to host book club next month, I’d be happy to cover that for you if your plate’s full right now.” If there’s not something specific to offer, simply tell them you’re sorry they have to deal with that and/or you’ll keep them and their family in your prayers – whatever response is sincere for you.
Bonus admonition: This is not the time to tell them your divorce-from-hell story. They probably have enough on their plate without the added baggage.
Have you had someone respond inappropriately to you when you said you were getting divorced? Is there something a casual acquaintance could have or did say to you that was helpful? If so, please share so we can all get better at navigating this difficult situation.
If time got away from you and you’re wondering what you can give the special mom in your life that won’t have that clearly grabbed-at-the-last-minute-out-of-desparateness look to it, here’s an idea for you. Find a fun frame – if you don’t have one on hand, craft stores and discount stores generally have great options – and put a saying in it that you have printed off the computer. You can put a heartfelt sentiment in original words, or find an existing quote that sums up your feelings toward this special lady. Here are some examples that I put together for today’s Friday Five.
Listening to children about how they feel as their parents go through divorce – and afterward – is very important. We need to hear them. Not only their words, but read their demeanor. And we have to remember how well they can hear us. How they can read between the lines to what’s really being said. And we need to be aware of how hurtful it can be.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a parent say something like “they’re entitled to the truth” when confronted about talking to the child unnecessarily about the divorce process or speaking negatively about the other parent. First question: Whose truth? Second question: Aren’t they even more entitled to just be a child than they are to either parent’s version of what the truth is?
Here are 5 things a divorced/separated parent should never say to their child:
1. “Don’t tell your mom/dad . . . ” Unfair, people! Do not put the child in a position of having to keep a secret from the other parent. It’s incredibly stressful. Whether the parent doesn’t want the other parent to know what’s going on at his/her house or whether they’re just trying to be the cool parent by allowing something the other parent wouldn’t, requiring the child keep mum or lie about things creates a tense situation for your child that will eventually take its toll.
2. “Ask your mom/dad when they’re going to pay . . . ” Fill in the blank with all those things parents want paid for: child support, medical expenses, child care, extracurricular activities, etc. You think it’s unpleasant for you to ask your ex such a question? You don’t want to deal with an angered response to such a question? Why on earth would you put your precious child, who doesn’t have near the emotional strength you have, to be in that position?
3. ” I can’t afford it because your mom/dad won’t pay their child support.” And of course there is the flip side taboo: “I can’t afford it because I have to pay your mom/dad child support.” There’s nothing wrong with explaining to a child that some things are not affordable – it’s the laying a guilt trip on them because they need to be supported that’s objectionable.
4. “You’re just like your mother/father . . . ” said right before saying a very negative thing about the other parent. Who is really being criticized? Won’t it leave them wondering: “If I’m so much like him/her, maybe I should be over there more often”?
5. “Ask your mom/dad if you can come here (date during the other’s custodial period) so we can do (something incredibly fun).” A nasty strategy used in the hopes that the other parent won’t be willing to disappoint the child by saying ‘no’ to whatever adventure conniving parent has teased the child with. It’s win-win for conniving parent – either they get part of the other’s custodial period or they have shown what a bad guy the other is. It’s lose-lose for the child whose relationship with non-asking party may be undermined whatever the result.
Hopefully The Power of a Compliment was a helpful reminder to celebrate your spouse with words of praise. Telling them directly is one great way to do it. But it’s not the only way. Want something a little more creative? Try one (or more!) of the five options below!
1. Answer the question. When Facebook asks you “What’s on your mind?” today, go ahead and tell it all about the compliment you would like to pay your spouse. You might want to include a selfie of you with a big smile. Then hit “post”!
2. Buy something for you. Like a t-shirt, sweatshirt or hat that celebrates your mate. Remember these?
3. Put it in the note. The flowers are nice, but they’re not the compliment – that you’ll find in the note!
4. Let the art do the talking. Whether store bought or printed at home and framed, sign it with love and hang it in a space where your spouse will see it often.
5. Award them a trophy. Trophies are available in as many sizes, shapes, and price ranges as you can imagine. And they’re all out there waiting for you to personalize one just for your spouse. “World’s Best Knitter” or “First Place for Lighting up the Room with your Awesome Smile!” or “You win the gold for making me laugh!” I bet you can come up with something even better than that! If you can’t find a trophy shop locally, you’ll find plenty of reputable companies online. Here are a few selections from mightypromos.com.
HAVE A COMPLIMENTARY WEEKEND!