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May 15, 2013
Have you ever thought, “We must be speaking different languages?” Maybe you are right! In the book, The 5 Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman suggests there are different languages or ways we give and receive love. Use the wrong language and the other person does not get the message!
What language do you speak? What language does your spouse use?
Words of Affirmation: The gift of unsolicited compliments, the reasons behind love.
Quality Time: The gift of full, undivided attention.
Receiving Gifts: The gift selected with thoughtfulness and effort show that you know, care for and value the person.
Acts of Service: The gift of doing anything to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on your spouse.
Physical Touch: The gift of thoughtful touch like hugs, pats on the back, caresses on the arm or face or holding hands.
Personal Example: My wife feels love when I give her quality time but I like to express love through acts of service. I paint the kitchen to say I love you. While she does appreciate my painting the kitchen, she thinks, “If he loved me we would spend more quality time talking and doing things together.”
Question: What love language do you speak? In what way do you like to receive love? In what way do you like to express love? What adjustments need to be made in order to express love effectively to your spouse?
Suggested Resource: The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
It never fails. In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, I am at a complete loss over which card to buy for my mom. The jokey ones seem way too casual. The sentimental ones are too mushy and feel a little, well, dishonest. There aren’t many cards that capture the complicated, up-and-down relationship my mom and I experience.
How would you describe your relationship with your mom? Some of us have an easy, light-hearted friendship with our mothers. Others feel only pain when we think of our moms – maybe we grew up without a mother, or the mother we had couldn’t care for us properly. For most it’s somewhere in the middle: there’s good and bad, tension and fun, irritation and affection.
God cares about your relationship with your mom. When the legal experts asked Jesus for the most important commandments, one of them was “Love your neighbour as yourself” – and that includes your mother. Sometimes it’s easier to love the family across the street. This is why Paul’s prayer for the Philippians is so bang-on: “This is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well.” (Phillipians 1:9, The Message)
It can be a challenge to figure out the best ways to love the people in our lives. The Holy Spirit is more than willing to help us grow in how we love the people closest to us. Last week, I asked God to help me take a positive step with my own mom.
My mom had said something very hurtful to me. My initial reaction was to get mad and think, “Well, if she’s going to keep saying stuff like that, I just won’t call her anymore.” After praying, I knew I needed a different approach. The next time my mom phoned, I gently shared how hurt I’d been by her comment. This was a first for me! I explained that those kinds of comments – part of a long pattern in our relationship – affect our closeness. It was scary to be that up-front, but it led to a time of apology, forgiveness, understanding, and healing. I didn’t just love my Mom that day; with God’s guidance, I loved her well.
How can you love your mom well this Mother’s Day? To complete this challenge, do these two steps:
1) Process your relationship with your mom. Pray and think through how your relationship with your mom is doing. Is it warm and close? Distant? Tense? Volatile? Supportive?
2) Take one positive step in your relationship with your mom. If your relationship is already great, choose a simple way to honour her. If it’s a little on the rocky side, do something with the potential for growth or healing.
There is always something to appreciate about our moms, here is a good reminder
May 8, 2013
Richard Swenson, in his book Margin defines margin as “the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating.”
Swenson explains, “If we are overloaded we have no margin. Threshold points are not easily measurable and are also different for different people in different circumstances. Options are as attractive as they are numerous, and we overbook. If we were equipped with a flashing light to indicate “100 percent full,” we could better gauge our capacities. Many people commit to a 120 percent life and wonder why the burden feels so heavy.”
A spouse can be an “indicator light” in a relationship. Margin needs are different for each person. Marriage is the dance of creating an “Us Margin” not just a “Me Margin”. Not an easy dance. Margin is the space that allows for relationship time, energy and growth.
My identity is wrapped up in what I accomplish. I tend to slice the margin a bit thinner than my wife. She then gets either worn out or just lets me do “my thing” without her involvement. Neither result is helpful. I am learning to listen when she expresses concern about over-commitment. A consistently over-committed schedule leads to physical, emotional and relational burnout!
Action: Discuss the amount of margin in your life/schedule. Where do you fall in the spectrum between rest and exhaustion? Does your schedule allow for balance and growth physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally? What one or two steps can be taken to create margin in your life and relationship?
Suggested Resource: Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson
May 1, 2013
When my son was about 6 years old, we were visiting friends who had just newly landscaped their yard. As we were taking a tour of their handiwork, my son suddenly grabbed a nearby shrub and pulled it out by the roots. As you can imagine, I was shocked! I soon discovered he had found an earthworm that he was convinced needed a home and to his way of thinking, a good place would be right where that shrub was. Though he was just a little guy, he was easily able to pull out the shrub because it had just been planted. Its root system had not had time to anchor it securely.
Relationships are like that shrub. The roots grow strong through shared experience, communication and even difficulties. That may be why a significant percentage of marriages fail within the first five years. They are easily uprooted. While popular media often communicates a “happy ever after” perspective on relationships, it can foster the sense that building deep roots in marriage is an easy process. So when the first waves of discord come, they are often unexpected and overwhelming.
Growing deep roots also requires relational fertilizer. That includes regularly nurturing your relationship with communication, team work, companionship and shared experiences. And don’t forget: developing deep roots also takes time.
Action: Ask in what way are you intentionally adding fertilizer to your relational soil? Go for walks together. Read an article or book together. Consider a weekend getaway or a conference that will strengthen your relationship.
April 24, 2013
How do you put passion back into your relationship? What do you do to fan the flames? Jim Burns in his book, Creating an Intimate Marriage, suggests developing a plan to re-ignite those sparks. His suggestions:
15 seconds Passionate kiss every day.
15 minutes Connect 5 times a week to talk.
1.5 hours Date once a week.
1.5 hours Sexual intimacy blocked in the schedule.
Sound simple? Overwhelming? It could be fun. The key is to start where you
are in your relationship and build from there. A passionate 15 second kiss that doesn’t demand immediate gratification can rekindle some of those “wow” feelings. A big step might be carving out 15 minutes of connection time to talk about your life and reconnect emotionally.
The date can be a simple muffin and coffee in a restaurant or if your budget requires creativity, a candlelight dinner at home. For a period of our lives, breakfast at McDonald’s was a date we had each Saturday while our kids were in swimming lessons.
Scheduled sexual intimacy? I schedule many less important activities. I’ve realized that in the craziness of life this can allow for emotional preparation and keeps sex as a priority in our relationship. Remember this is not a quickie but a slow, pleasure-filled 90 minutes!
Action: Talk about the passion level in your relationship. Evaluate separately…on a scale of 0-10, how passionate is your relationship? Share your conclusions and come up with a plan to fan the flame.
Suggested Resource: Creating an Intimate Marriage by Jim Burns
April 17, 2013
When are the best times to talk? Not during the football game or when there are lots of distractions or when you are in a hurry. Generally when a person is hungry, under pressure and/or tired they are not their best for deep, constructive conversation. Timing is especially important when you are dealing with sensitive issues. At night just before bed may not be good but right after dinner might be a better time for significant conversations. Each couple needs to find the “sweet spot” for productive dialogue. My wife has reminded me several times she is not a night person so late at night is not a good time for her to respond to complex issues. Our best time is right after dinner.
Consider timing…! It is okay to say, “This is an important topic. We do need to talk about this but I cannot give it my best now. Can we do it tomorrow after dinner?” Location is important also. If you are concerned about emotions getting the best of the conversation going to a coffee shop might help keep the lid on things. Turn off technology to reduce distractions.
Experiment: If you are having difficulty getting good one on one talk time, maybe agree on 15 minute windows that fits 2 or 3 times into the weekly schedule as a starting point. See which work the best.
Wisdom from Solomon:
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
- Proverbs 15:1 niv
April 10, 2013
Every year Time magazine selects an influential person as their Person of the Year,” the person who…for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year” (wikipedia). What would you need to do to win this award for your family this year?
Here are ten things you could say/do that might give you a chance at the “Woman of the Year” award. No guarantees on actually winning the “Woman of the Year”, but I do guarantee the emotional warmth will go way up in your relationship!
Things to say and or do…
1. Welcome him home with a kiss. If he is home before you, make it the first thing you do after coming though the door.
2. Give him a “Night Out” coupon for him to do whatever he wants to do.
3. Have “take out” ordered to his office. Arrange to have a big note attached for all to see that says, “This is because you are an amazing man!”
4. Go shopping and buy something just for him. Maybe a jersey from his favorite sports team or maybe something a little more personal… Pick up a sexy pair of underwear. Or… Pick up an upgrade for one of his favorite tools or Tech gadgets.
5. Look at him and say, “Thank you!” Wait till he says, “For what.” Then say, “Thank you for being committed to me through challenges and the good times. It is so amazing to know you love me with all my flaws and weaknesses, thank you.”
6. Ask him his opinion on issues in your life, ”What do you think…?” (Shows you value his opinion and want to involve him in your life.)
7. Make a top ten list of the things you value/appreciate about him and your relationship. Post them on the bathroom mirror.
Better Yet: Tell him in front of others. (kids, family members, your parents)
8. Mail him a card and sign it “from a Secret Admirer.” Write the things you admire, some things that only you know about him. Make sure you’re there when he opens it. Watch his face as he reads it.
9. Think back to something you did when you were dating that you know he really enjoyed and do it.
10. Send a note to work with him. In it tell him dessert will be served up in private tonight. (I’m fairly sure people at work will be asking him why he is smiling so much the rest of the day.)
Action: Pick two or three of these and do them in the next two weeks. Have fun!!
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