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10

Friday Five – Marriage MishMash

Friday Five - Marriage MishMashWhether 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 Marriage MishMashnd 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.

 

Marriage MishMash3. 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 Marriage MishMashone 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.

 

Marriage MishMash5. 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!

 

13

Spousal Gossip – Yea or Nay?

Spousal Gossip: Yea or Nay?

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.

So, for our purposes, we’re not talking mean-girl stuff here. More like, chitchat, tittle-tattle, scuttlebutt stuff.

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!

Related:

7 Common Mistakes Married Couples Make

7 Common Mistakes Married Couples Make

Introverted But Not Shy - Does Your Mate Need Space?

Introverted But Not Shy – Does Your Mate Need Space?

3 Reasons to Go to Bed Angry With Your Spouse

3 Reasons to Go to Bed Angry With Your Spouse

17

Married With Bobbleheads

Married With BobbleheadsWhat 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!*

Image courtesy of groupon.com

Image courtesy of groupon.com

*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!

30

How to AFFAIR-PROOF Your Marriage

How to AFFAIR-PROOF Your MarriageIn 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.

Obviously, nothing “just happens.” An affair is generally the result of a series of decisions. Bad decisions. Couples can protect their marriage from the two most common sequences that lead to the “unintentional” affair.

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.

Does this sound ridiculously old-fashioned to you? It is, indeed, a basic concept as old as the institution of marriage, itself. But think about it. Why do we hear about the double-betrayal of a best friend/spouse or sibling/spouse affairs? Because everybody got so comfortable with each other that no one thought anything of the non-married couple spending time alone together. Increasing time alone-together furthers familiarity. Which leads to exchanging confidences. Sharing together what may not be shared with others. Growing intimacy. Opportunities to act on those growing feelings. Such a sequence of events cannot happen if there is a general policy not to be alone with a member of the opposite sex.

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.

Related:

Marriage and Social Media - Good, Bad and Ugly

Marriage and Social Media – Good, Bad and Ugly

Marriage - the Simple Things That Matter

Marriage – the Simple Things That Matter

What Married Couples Can Learn from The Wizard of Oz

What Married Couples Can Learn from The Wizard of Oz

 

 

 

 

21

How to Be a Better Friend to Your Spouse

How to Be a Better Friend to Your Spouse

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?

Do you treat interactions with your spouse with the same enthusiasm, the same special touch? Here are 5 simple acts that translate well from such friendships to the most valuable friendship in our lives – the one we share with our spouse.

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!

Related:

101 Things to Say to Make Your Mate Feel Great

101 Things to Say to Make Your Mate Feel Great

5 Fun Ways to Surprise Your Spouse

5 Fun Ways to Surprise Your Spouse

5 Unique Ways to Compliment Your Spouse

5 Unique Ways to Compliment Your Spouse

 

24

What Married Couples Can Learn From The Wizard of Oz

What Married Coules Can Learn From The Wizard of OzLike 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.

  •  Everyday is not in technicolor. There will be times that seem dull – plain old black and white. But we need those quieter times to truly appreciate the beauty of full-blown color.
  •  Dropping a house on someone causes a lot of trouble. That, of course, is the marital equivalent of putting the other in their place when you can show them just how right you are on a disputed topic. Sure there’sWhat Married Couples Can Learn From the Wizard of OZ a moment of satisfaction. And the legs look funny sprawled out under it. But after that high-fiving moment, there’s a whole lot of drama which doesn’t always end happily-ever-after. It’s not good for the dropper, it’s not good for the dropee, it’s not good for the house.
  •  Just because the road is shiny, doesn’t mean it goes to a good place. This is right up there with the old cliche “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” When the fact of the matter is, the grass is greener where it gets watered more. We need to spend our time watering our own lawns – appreciating our spouses and what we have – and not get distracted by the beauty of a yellow-brick-road that leads us astray.
  • A loud voice can come from a small person. The boom of the Wizard’s voice made him seem important, wise, worthy of awe even while he was being disrespectful. But behind the curtain was a little man – an insecure man. His behavior almost cost him the respect and friendship of those who sought him out – the very people he What Married Couples Can Learn From the Wizard of Ozwas trying to impress. Being domineering, puffing up, speaking in a belittling way have no place in a marriage.
  •  Things aren’t always what they seem to be. Most of us think of Glenda the Good Witch as young and beautiful and The Wicked Witch as old and ugly. In real life, “Glenda” was 54 and “Wicked” was 36. How the package is wrapped isn’t always an indicator of what’s inside. Keep it real with each other. If you have an issue that needs to be addressed, covering it with sparkles and bubbles may look pretty and impress the other, but it doesn’t get the problem solved. Remember: sparkles get messy and bubbles burst.
  •  We’re less than we can be without love. It’s what we started with. We need to kindle and nurture that love – offering it to our spouse generously, receiving it from our spouse graciously with joy. It’s not to be taken for granted – not everybody has it.
  •  The brain is as important as the heart. If we expect our marriage to last until-death-we-do-part, there are going to be some moments where we’re not feeling very loving toward the other. That’s where the ol’ brain has to kick in. We continue to honor the commitment with our ability to think rationally about the big-picture – and theWhat Married Couples Can Learn From the Wizard of Oz consequences of acting in a way that’s inconsistent with that commitment.
  • Courage takes you through the hard times. And if you think because of your love for each other things will never be “hard,” you must be living over the rainbow where the bluebirds are flying. There will be tough times. Whether emotionally, physically, spiritually, or some combination, there will be challenges.  And they might be scary to the point where you truly wonder if you can push through. Courage happens when you’re afraid and you do it anyway. On the other side of those challenges is often a deeper marital bond, a marriage with strength and character.
  • Lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) are no match for a united team. On their own, a girl, a scarecrow, a tin man and a cowardly lion may have gotten eaten alive by the perils of their journey – but together they made quite a team! When a husband and wife stand united in their purpose of prioritizing their marriage, even evil flying monkeys can’t drive a wedge between them!
  • There’s no place like home – and it’s always been there.

What Married Couples Can Learn From the Wizard of Oz

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!

What Married Couples Can Learn From the Wizard of Oz

26

In Appreciation for My Marriage: A Love Letter to My Parents

In Appareciation for My Marriage: a Love Letter to My ParentsDear Mom and Dad,

You know I love, respect, and am blessed to have in my life the man I’m married to, right? Have I ever told either of you how much you have to do with that?

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.

How you treated each other has had a major impact on my marriage. I’m not glamorizing your relationship – I know you had more than your share of tough times, losses, marital discord, and strife. I also know that there is probably plenty that I don’t know about your relationship. But here are lessons that I learned about marriage just from watching you – when I didn’t even know I was watching:

  • You start out with just the two of you, and end up with just the two of you, so that relationship has to be prioritized to be sustained throughout what comes in between.
  • The only thing better than receiving a surprise from your spouse is giving one to them and the happy anticipation of their reaction.
  • Surprises don’t have to be parties where people are waiting to jump out – they are things like the funny note on the mirror, shrimp cocktail in the work lunch, bringing juice to the other in bed.
  • Having pet names for each other keeps things tender.
  • Making each other laugh is a worthy goal.
  • Having a secret code (also known as French) allows you to connect know matter how many are present.
  • Presenting a unified front to others, no matter what you are going through behind the scenes, can lead to unification.
  • Having each other’s back is a priority.
  • Household chores don’t have a gender classification – they just need to be done.
  • Cooking isn’t tied to gender, either.
  • Trying new things together keeps it fun.
  • Socializing with other couples widens your horizons and deliberately brings into your world different points of view.
  • Refusing to join in when others are complaining about their spouses and staying positive about your own can totally change the conversation.
  • No matter how hot the argument gets, name-calling has no place in it.
  • If the day is so difficult you can’t make the other laugh, make the other smile.
  • Embrace the adventure of the unknown. Or be static.
  • Keep learning. Watching the news, reading, asking questions. You stop learning, you stop growing – which would be boring.
  • Mutual respect can overcome some major differences of opinion.
  • Laughing at each other’s jokes – no matter how many times you’ve heard them – is its own gift.
  • There’s a lot of ways to publicly declare your love without anyone ever hearing you utter the words “I love you” to each other. And actually, it’s less your declaration than an outsider’s observation based on the evident mutual respect and enjoyment of each other.
  • Supporting each other doesn’t always mean being physically there for them – sometimes it means letting them go take care of their business and supporting their decision to do so.
  • And sometimes supporting each other means being physically there for them – even when there’s nothing you can do.
  • When you each prioritize putting the other first, you are both content.

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.

When I do something kind for my husband, or make him laugh, and he says to me: “I sure see your parents in you,” I know I have received the ultimate compliment. Because you gave to me the ultimate gift: a real life demonstration of living out the wedding vows of sticking it out and being there for the other “in good times and in bad times.” You have blessed me with this legacy.

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!

Yvette and Tony Abreu - living well and laughing often

Yvette and Tony Abreu – living well and laughing often

Yvette, 88 and Tony, 90 - heading toward their 67th year of marriage

Yvette, 88 and Tony, 90 – heading toward their 67th year of marriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                       Is there anyone YOU can honor with a love letter?

 

Related:

How to Write a Love Letter to Your Spouse (and Why You Should)

How to Get Couple Friends (and Why You Should)

Friday Five Valentine Edition

20

The Magic Eye of Marriage

The Magic Eye of MarriageRemember 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.

For more information about how Magic Eye works or fun Magic Eye products, click on the picture.

For more information about how Magic Eye works or fun Magic Eye products, click on the picture.

 

Related:

Marriage: Troubled Waters or Sea Glass?

Married With Gratitude – a 30 Day Challenge

The Annual Marriage Assessment – 11 Questions to Get You Started

3 Reasons to Go to Bed Angry

 

12

5 Exercises to Skip When You’re Married

5 Exercises to Skip When You're MarriedExercising 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!

IN SUMMARY:

Marriage exercises to skip

Related:

Introverted But Not Shy? Does Your Mate Need Space?

7 Common Mistakes Married Couples Make

10 Car Habits That Make Your Spouse a Defensive Driver

14

The Annual Marriage Assessment – 11 Questions to Get You Started

The Annual Marriage Assessment - 11 Questions to Get You Started!

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!

Related:

10 New Years Resolutions for Couples

101 Things to Say to Make Your Mate Feel Great

Calling all Spouses: The 30-Day Gratitude Challenge