Whether you’re looking for reasons to date your spouse, dealing with deployment issues, needing to apologize, wondering about the benefits of “the letter,” or just wanting a good laugh, there’s something here for you! Today’s Friday Five is a compilation of articles I love because they offer great advice, made me chuckle or (bonus!) both.
1. Are you dealing with deployment or long separations from your spouse? 51 Tips for Deployment, Homecoming nd Everything in Between is an article that can be found on Jo, My Gosh blog. In addition to the send-off and the return, it offers suggestions for dealing with the absence of a spouse and for care packages. The site is loaded with other helpful information for military spouses and offers a free copy of The Ultimate Care Package Guide.
2. Never underestimate the power of a letter. Letters That Changed Our World, an article in Parade Magazine written by Liz Welch, gives heartfelt examples of how letters made a difference. It’s easy to overlook that there is a second page (hit “Next” at the bottom of the post), but that’s where you will find additional reasons to write letters as well as a link that gives a brief “how-to” with letter-writing tips. You might also find a previous post, How to Write a Love Letter to Your Spouse – And Why You Should helpful.
3. Stop using the kids as a reason you can’t make date night with your spouse happen. 5 Reasons Your Kids Should See You Date Your Spouse, guest-written by Steve Pare on True Agape blog, sets forth some compelling reasons why when you have kids it’s even more important to prioritize dating your spouse. The result in doing so? You benefit, your spouse benefits and the kids benefit – the ultimate win-win-win!
4. When delivering an apology, keep it real. How do you do that? Gina Barreca, columnist for the Hartford Courant and one of my favorite humorists, spells it out in her article To Apologize, What Makes it Real? The article is also helpful if you have already offered a needed apology, but it wasn’t well-received – it’s possible your delivery could use some improvement.
5. Maybe the changes in your marriage are a good thing. Funny guy Aaron Traister is at it again in his Redbook article 8 Signs Your Marriage Has Changed. You may recognize you and your spouse in a couple of his examples and decide, hmmmm, maybe these changes aren’t so bad after all! If you can ignore the rude, unrelated “reading recommendation” plopped into the post, this article will leave you chuckling!
Most of us would not want to be referred to as “A Gossip” – or get caught gossiping. So is gossip always a bad thing? I decided to check out a dictionary to see if there is any positive definition for ‘gossip.’ As it turns out, after checking several sources, I was indeed able to find a more benign definition of “gossip” than the rumor-riddled association it usually has. Vocabulary.com offers this definition: Gossip is conversation that’s light, informal, and usually about other people’s business.
My husband and I begin most weekdays by watching the early news. I have to admit, we sometimes watch with a critical eye. In between news stories we do a bit of the scuttlebutt kind of gossiping with regard to newscasters and the actors (I’m using the term loosely) on those early morning screaming car commercials. For instance, noticing a bad hair day, wondering (out loud) when earrings the size of Montana became professional wear, and questioning this ongoing trend of wearing sleeveless dresses no matter how much snow is on the ground. The chatter often ends with one or both of us shaking our head and saying: “They should have asked us!” We actually learn bits about the other and their preferences in these little exchanges, as well as make each other laugh. A bonding moment. Throw in a cup of coffee, and it’s a pretty nice start to the day!
Have you got your own spousal gossip going on? Do you ever find yourselves talking about the relationships of friends? In a recent Redbook article, Robb Willer, Ph.D, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, says such chat could be helpful to your own marriage. Analyzing behaviors is not the same as passing judgment. Discussing negative behaviors observed – spouses treated disrespectfully or inappropriate public displays – presents opportunities for spouses to discuss what each thinks is right or wrong, how they might have handled the situation, as well as to hash out their different points of view. Willer states that people who share the same values have stronger relationships.
As long as you’re not turning such discussions into comparisons to minimize your own marital issues or comparing your own relationship negatively to the point of creating unhealthy envy, such conversations can be quite productive. This kind of chitchat isn’t gossip – it’s couple’s therapy!
What makes people smile more than a bobblehead? Known also as “wobblers” or “nodders,” these dolls often have oversized heads connected to the body by a spring or hook in such a way that the head bounces with a light tap or breeze.
You may have seen sports figures bobbilized (a new word I’m creating for the occasion!) or cute animals with bobbing heads on people’s dashboards. These smile-makers have been around for decades – my earliest memory of them was the Beatle dolls we received in . . . a previous year.
But you don’t have to be famous to be bobbilized! There are several companies that make custom bobbleheads from pictures – complete with specified outfits. They are a bit of a splurge, starting around $100 for a single figure. But, because the businesses are competitive, there’s a good chance that you can catch a promotional deal or a groupon for an order. And, for a special occasion, it may be the perfect gift for your spouse – or for you and your spouse to give. Here are 5 suggestions for creative bobblehead-gifting:
1. Surprise your spouse on a birthday or other special occasion with a bobblehead duo of them and their best friend. For double the fun (and a super-splurge), get two sets so they can give one to their friend!
2. Memorialize you and your spouse – bobblehead style – and present to your spouse on your anniversary. This will generate some serious brownie points in addition to the smiles!
3. Bobbing makes the heart grow fonder – pack a bobblehead of you in your spouse’s luggage when they are headed out of town, or send in a care package to that deployed spouse, so they can end their nights with your head-bobbing proclamation of love even though you’re miles – or countries – away.
4. From the two of you – to a child memorializing their sport, graduation, a special accomplishment, to friends for their anniversary (of them, of course!), to that special engaged couple who would get a kick out of wedding-cake topper that could keep on bobbing long after the cake was eaten.
5. Lead the way with a gifted bobblehead chosen just for the recipient – a favored pet, celebrity, family member – perched in front of them as they drive no matter where they go. I mean, what says “hood ornament” better than a bobblehead??
When friends and family want to chip in to get memorable gift for a special someone, bobbleheads can add just the right touch of humor to that special event. The only thing better than having a reason to say “bobblehead” ten times is to actually have or give one. Bobbleheads – the gift that keeps on bobbing!*
*NO batteries or assembly required!
Note: This was not a sponsored post. Although I wish I’d thought of that – it might have solved the what-to-get-for-the-anniversary-gift-dilemma!
In my Family Law practice, I see the results of extramarital affairs on a regular basis. A wife stunned that her husband and best friend had been meeting behind her back. A husband sent reeling when his wife leaves him for his brother. A spouse having midnight chats with an ex-flame on Facebook. Suspicions confirmed when a spouse who regularly “works late” is caught sexting a co-worker. Do any of these betrayals shock me? No. Sadden me, yes. Shock me, no.
If a spouse is determined to have an affair, for whatever reason, and they seek it out, it will happen. One can’t protect themself from such a deliberate act. But the I-didn’t-plan-it,-it-just-happened kind of affair is a different story.
First, the social media lie a spouse tells themself. It goes something like this: I just want to see what (fill in the name of the ex-boyfriend/girlfriend) is up to. I won’t even let them know I found them. I’ll just check their Facebook page. Look! There they are! I’ll just say a quick hello and let them know how cute their kids are.
All completely innocent, right? Well the test is, if your spouse was standing next to you, would you be taking that action? Or try this test: you walk into the room and your spouse is sitting in front of the computer reading stats about someone they had a romantic history with – just to see what they’re up to. Are you OK with that?
It seems so harmless. Just satisfying curiosity. But what is the real point? Why does it matter? Why do you, Married Person, want information about somebody who is no longer in your life? You will not be able to name a single good reason. If you choose to go ahead and look that person up (bad decision number one) it will lead to more decisions that have to be made.
Skip down the road a couple of bad decisions later to the point where you have had a few “just-catching-up exchanges.” It can be very flattering to be remembered fondly and spoken to admiringly by someone from your past. There can be some lovely sparks. The old high school stomach-flutter that you haven’t experienced with your spouse for years. (It’s so easy to forget how temporary that stage was before it deepened into something more substantial, isn’t it?) So the “harmless” written conversations expand to the point of deciding to meet to just have a quick coffee. Oh, by the way, is this wonderful person being deceptive to their spouse, too? This isn’t going to end well.
AFFAIR-PROOF STRATEGY #1: DON’T ENGAGE WITH EXES ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR IN ANY OTHER MANNER IF YOUR SPOUSE IS NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE INTERACTION.
Second, let’s talk about why I don’t find it shocking that spouses run off with the other spouse’s best friend or sibling. Or that they develop a romantic relationship with a neighbor or somebody they work with. What’s the common denominator? FAMILIARITY. Which leads us to our second preventative strategy.
AFFAIR-PROOF STRATEGY #2: DON’T BE ALONE WITH A NON-FAMILY MEMBER OF THE OPPOSITE SEX.
And by “family” I mean direct family members such as parents, grandparents and siblings – in-laws and relatives that you weren’t raised with as siblings do not qualify for the exemption.
Work situations can be more difficult to control than family environments. Employees often have to work with opposite-gender co-workers one-on-one. Or in high-stress situations where they have to depend on each other for support, cooperation, or safety. It is imperative to plan ahead – before inappropriate feelings develop for another – how you will handle such situations. Have to have a working lunch? Invite others if that’s an option. Have a reason to drive separately and meet at the restaurant. Excuse yourself to check in with your spouse if things run long.
One friend, an emergency professional who is in a vehicle during his workday, shared his strategy when assigned female partners. He invites the new partner to his house for dinner to meet his wife and children so she sees what his family life looks like and his wife has an opportunity to get to know his partner. This, of course, is not foolproof – but it is behavior that makes it easier for both individuals to resist temptations that might otherwise be acted upon. It’s about being intentional about prevention. And intentional about protecting your marriage.
I’m not suggesting you take things to the extreme here – as in you can’t walk into the kitchen if only a sibling-in-law is there – and chat. Or you should refuse to go into your boss’s office when summoned to deal with business related matters. Obviously there are times when such interactions may be necessary or reasonable. But it’s about being vigilant. Recognize that just because you don’t feel that way about them, does NOT mean they don’t feel that way about you – or have the potential to.
So two simple things you can do to affair-proof your marriage: don’t engage with exes in a way you wouldn’t want your spouse to know about AND don’t be alone with non-family members of the opposite sex. Because affairs “don’t just happen.” Extramarital affairs evolve one step (and one bad decision) at a time. Don’t take that first step.
EVERY SPOUSE NEEDS A FRIEND. Who better to fill that role than the one who loves them most? Whether you consider your spouse to be your absolute best friend, or you think the term “friend” isn’t significant enough to describe your relationship, we can all do a better job in being a friend to our spouses.
You know that special buddy of yours that you only get to see once in a blue moon? The one you pick up the phone and call when you see something that reminds you of your shared history? Analyze how you treat them, how they treat you and why the friendship is special. What’s the expression on your faces when you see each other? How do you catch up on what has happened in each other’s lives since you last connected?
1. Let your face light up when you see them. What do I mean? Go stand in front of a mirror. Think about a visit from that favored friend that you haven’t see in ages – and how great it’s going to be to see them. See what happens to your face? Is your spouse getting greeted with that same smile and sparkle?
2. Show interest in what’s happened in their life since you last saw them. OK – maybe we should replace ‘life’ with ‘day’ – but it’s the same principle. Ask about it. And then really listen. Just like we wouldn’t presume to know everything about what’s happened with that dear friend since we last saw them, chances are there is much our spouse could chat about their own day to an interested listener.
3. Send a text, email, or – better yet – a letter, just to let them know you are thinking of them. Sure, they may see you before they actually receive the written confirmation that you thought of them in the midst of your day – but it will still make them feel special and result in a smile when they see it!
4. Set a specific time to meet. I’m not talking about the oft-referred to “date night” – although that is a very good thing. I’m just talking about a connection that might not otherwise happen. You wouldn’t suggest to that special friend that you get together on Tuesday and leave it at that – you make a specific plan. Every once in a while it’s nice to set a specific time to hang out for a quick “catch up” time – getting up 15 minutes earlier to linger over a morning coffee, a 7:45 p.m ice cream connection before viewing the planned evening program. An it’s-all-about-us moment.
5. Tell them something you’ve always admired about them. We generally don’t hesitate to tell friends what we think is special about them – after all, it’s an unknown when the next visit will be and we don’t want to miss such an opportunity. In spite of the fact that (we think) we know when we’ll next see our spouse, we need to be intentional about creating such opportunities to lift them up. After all, our dearest friend deserves no less!
Like a marriage, The Wizard of Oz is full of history, special moments, reasons to celebrate and meaningful lessons learned. Both have noted milestone anniversaries. The Wizard of Oz recently celebrated its 75th year – now that’s longevity! If we want our marriage to have that kind of staying power, we can take a lesson or two from this classic tale.
For some interesting trivia about the movie, check out 75 Weird Wonderful Facts About the Wizard of Oz by clicking (three times will not be necessary) the picture below!
As a young girl, you would not allow me to allow myself to be disrespected. There wasn’t enough eye-rolling in my head to lessen the requirement about a visiting guy coming up to the door. No horn honking, running out to his car when he pulled up, waiting outside for him. I was worth his time to come up to the door to get me. I was worth his time to walk me back to the door and make sure I got in the house safely. When as an insecure teenager I was willing to settle for someone – anyone – who liked me, you were not willing to let me settle for someone who did not hold me in high esteem. You caused me to have certain expectations about how one should be treated in a relationship. It took me years to realize you were not just being controlling, judgmental, and generally uncool.
These are just a few of the lessons I learned about marriage from you. I know as soon as my letter is sent, I’ll think of one I forgot to write down. An important one. And they’ll keep coming to me as long as I’m married. Know that I am grateful for those, also.
With an abundance of love and admiration, Daughter #2
P.S. If I’d known in my early years what I know now, I would have spoken much kinder about you both in my diary. I’ll forgive you for reading it, if you’ll forgive me for the words you read!
Is there anyone YOU can honor with a love letter?
Remember those Magic Eye books and pictures that were everywhere in the early 1990s? Like the picture above, they were chaotic blurs of colors, shapes and seemingly abstract patterns. The promise was that if we looked at the two-dimensional picture in the right way, we would see a three-dimensional image emerge before our very eyes!
So we would squint, move the picture around, stare into the colors – and still it looked the same. But when we were persistent, we could make it happen. If you held the picture close to your face – nose almost touching – and backed it away slowly while staring at it unblinkingly, the picture in front of you morphed magically into a beautiful, interesting, or complex design. Even though you were looking for that transformation, you were still taken by surprise when it appeared because it was right there – and had been right there the whole time. You just weren’t looking at it with the right focus. And remember how once you finally saw it, you could move the picture around and still see the inner picture – often even more clearly when you moved it farther away? That’s because your focus at that point was on the depth of of the picture instead of the chaotic facade.
And so it is with marriage. We let the surface appearance of chaos and disconnectedness in our busy lives turn into our reality – the 2D version of us. The beautiful, the interesting, the foundation of what we started with is in the midst of that. It’s available for us to return to and hold on to when our big picture blurs into something we don’t recognize. It’s worth the effort to squint and shift our view and persist in our efforts until we see clearly what our main focus is – the 3D version of us. Once you know where it is, it’s what you keep seeing.
Exercising with your spouse is usually a good thing. Not only are you spending time with each other, you are both working together toward a common goal – an activity that reaps benefits in other areas of your marriage. But not all activity is created equal. There are some forms of exercise that, when done with your spouse, could actually harm your marriage. Here are five exercises you should skip when you’re married.
1. Jumping to conclusions. You know what they say about the person who assumes, right? Don’t give yourself an opportunity to prove the old saying correct – ask a few questions (without the accusatory tone) before making an informed conclusion about any given situation.
2. Stretching the truth. Referred to in some circles as “lying.” Not OK. Unless, of course, you are planning a fabulous surprise for your mate or hiding their gift!
3. Side-stepping the issue. The serious stuff doesn’t go away by ignoring it. Find a stress-free time to talk over those tough topics before they elevate to crisis-mode.
4. Running out of steam. Take care of yourself so you can better take care of and be there for your spouse. There’s a reason flight attendants tell passengers to put their own oxygen mask on before attempting to assist others: doing so makes the person more effective when assisting.
5. Pulling up past grievances. Take a tip from Elsa and let it go, let it go, let it go if you want to have a happy ending!
The beginning of a new year is often a time for evaluation, assessing, and planning for the upcoming twelve months. We analyze things like our health, our spiritual direction, our priorities, our careers and set goals regarding what we would like to do different, better, or not at all. Let’s not forget our marriage in this annual assessment!
The beginning of the year is a great time to review the past year of marriage to assess what we did right, what is not working, what we can do better, what changes we can make to improve our marriage, and what goals we can work together to accomplish over the next year. Here are 11 questions to get you started.
To Answer as a couple:
Is there anybody in your life that is not supportive of your marriage or tries to undermine your relationship that you should consider limiting contact with this year?
Do you need to cultivate some couple friends this year who have positive attitudes about marriage to interact with?
What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve your marriage this year?
What’s the most important decision you need to make together this year?
What is the biggest obligation you feel needs to be met this year?
What area of your lives most need simplifying and what is one thing you could do to accomplish that?
If one or both of you need to get healthier, what is one change you could both support making to move toward that goal?
What is your biggest financial goal and what is one thing you could do this year to move closer to that goal?
For each spouse to answer individually:
If there is a time-waster activity that gets in the way of spending time with your spouse, what can you do about it this year?
What can you do to encourage/uplift your spouse on a regular basis this year?
What one change can you make that would help you be a better husband or wife this year?
Whether we are already amazing or working toward getting there, it’s easy to get caught up in the New Year changes we want to make to be better individuals. Make sure you spend at least, if not more, energy and effort with your spouse to determine what you can do to enhance your already-amazing (or on-its-way-to-amazing) marriage in the upcoming year!