Right Marriage For You

I believe in a lifelong marriage.  Let me be a little more specific of what I write about in this blog.  I do not want marriages that are just marriages for the sake of your kids, for looking good or for doing what others think is right.  I am sharing about being in a fulfilling marriage because two people are committed to a lifelong love.  A love affair in such away that you are doing what is right for you, not because it is right for someone else.

Marriage is difficult enough without having to try to make it happen for someone else.  Marriage has been put into question, challenged and taught that it is not necessary in relationship.  When trouble hits divorce is often a first choice verses a last resort.  Celebrities get married in a big fan fare and divorced with even more media.  Marriage for media attention not for love.  Publicity stunts verses commitment to a long term relationship.

I am an everyday normal wife and mother.  I do not have a manager, publicist or spin agent for the mistakes that I make.  I work hard at being a great wife to my husband and I expect for my husband to work equally as hard to be the best husband he can be for me.

Our kids have attempted to play us when they wanted something.  Asking me even after dad said no.  We had to come together as a couple to put a stop to that action with four children.  Children can try to work their way into a marriage and get in so deep that we forget that the marriage is in place for the children not because of the children.  Marriage helps to teach children about love, commitment, values and solutions for difficult challenges they face.

When we look deeper into marriage we can see that there are a lot of valuable lessons that can be learned by being committed to a fulfilling marriage.  To often we are asked to be divided instead of coming together.

Learning how to communicate with each other so that we each know what the other will tell our children.  Clear communication with your spouse will help set boundaries around your marriage.  It helps to keep others out of your marriage that are not meant to be there.

Learn what each of you stand for.  What are the values you have personally?  Does your spouse have the same values or can you both work with your differences?  If you can not work with the differences then you will have to agree to disagree and find ways to commit around your differences.  Teaching others how to do this is your mission in tolerance.

In order to have the right marriage for you, you must know what the right marriage looks like.

  • What do you want in your marriage?
  • How do you want your marriage to look to your family and to those outside of your family?
  • What are the values you want in your marriage?  If you do not have those yet, then how will you get them?
  • What are your moral and do you stand for them in your marriage?
  • What does your spouse want in your marriage?  How do you know?
  • How can you communicate better with your spouse?
  • What do you do when you both get into an argument that still honors the marriage?

Be the right person so you can have the right marriage for you!

Marriage Confidence

What is your confidence level in marriage?

I want to address an issue around being confident in marriage.  In order to be truly confident in your marriage you must be confident in who you are.  I know that when I  was younger in my 20’s and early 30’s I will admit my self esteem and confidence in who I was had some issues at times.  After being divorced once I know my marriage confidence level had taken a pretty severe beating.

I found out that the more confidence I had in myself and my abilities in my life the more confidence I had in my marriage.  Why is this important?  I believe that when you lack confidence in your marriage you do not deal with the hard issues until they become so bad that you have to.  Or how about those really intimate conversations you want to have with your spouse but never sure when the right time is?  When you have confidence in your marriage you are willing to take the time to ask those questions without fear of judgment or shame.  You also communicate clearly on the important issues instead of sweeping them under the rug.

I know throughout the years I have struggled with some issues around confidence in talking to my husband about some important issues.  Money, bills, kids, sex as well as dreams and desires.  Some of the time my lack of confidence in certain issues created arguments and mental shut down.

I will admit that none of my children were ever planned!  At least not by me! I say God decided more than I did.  My oldest son was conceived the first time I had sex.  My second son came after a contraceptive failed.  Third son, I don’t even know what happened there and my daughter was discovered after I was three months pregnant after injuring my foot!  My husband and I never spoke about having kids when.  The only thing that we ever talked about was, we can’t have more kids because we just can not afford them.  “I want to make more money and get the business going strong before we have any more” is what he would say.  And wouldn’t you know it we still did not have the business going where we wanted it to be yet and another one was on the way!  I was always afraid to tell him I was pregnant.  Never once in my life have I experienced the joy of discovering that I was pregnant.  The joys came later but my confidence in my marriage was not where it needed to be.

Having conversations about money has always been an issue for me.  Since I grew up with my parents telling me “money doesn’t grow on trees”, “no you can’t have that”, “we can’t afford that” for a long time I had some major scarcity issues around money.  Even to this day it takes some tender loving care from my husband to talk to me about money.  It is not so much a scarcity issue anymore, it is more about a belief that is deeply ingrained in me that I choose to work on all the time.

Asking my husband for what I need in the relationship used to sound a little like nagging or whining.  Now we can sit down and have some pretty fabulous conversations about what we both need and want in the relationship.

The more you and your spouse talk about what is important in your life together the more confidence you build with each other.  If there is a subject that you are scared to talk about, start challenging yourself to be open about that topic.  Let your spouse know that this topic is difficult or emotional for you.  This is not a male/female thing by the way.  Men have just as much difficulty talking about important issues as women.  It just shows up differently!

Practice what you want to say ahead of time.  I used to write my husband letters because I could keep my emotion out of it and explain my feelings without the emotions getting in the way.

If you are having self esteem issues then work to build yourself up.  Find mentors and friends who remind you of what you want to be like.  Keep reminding yourself that you deserve a wonderful and confident marriage.  It will be up to you to build this confidence and learn to have fun with your conversations with your spouse.

Is Love Enough

When talking about marriage and being in a relationship I used to think love was all we needed to stay married.  Boy was I wrong!  My limited experience with love when young had me believing that love was easy.

My experiences over the years with love and marriage have shown me that love is not enough to sustain a relationship.  I was completely in love at eighteen.  After dating for over a year my sweetheart had stolen my heart completely.  When we got married I didn’t think I could ever love anyone more than that moment in my life.  Somewhere over the next two years I was still in love but the illusion that love was easy was gone.  We fought a lot, disagreed on how to raise our infant son and seem to have lost intimacy.  He wanted no responsibility, wanted to buy a great stereo system and accessories for his Toyota 4×4.  We were dispensable!  Love was not enough to keep us together!

Even though I loved him with all my heart, it was not enough to keep him wanting to be married to naive me!

My limited exposure to love and marriage was my parents relationship.  They met and a week later they were married.  He was in the military and we traveled all over.  Every two years we moved and lost friends.  Always having to rebuild relationship.  My parents and sisters were my only constant in my life.  I don’t remember my parents fighting with each other a lot.  My dad was gone a lot and when he was home my mom seemed to wait on him hand and foot.  He almost always was in a bad mood when he was home when it came to me.  At twelve my parents informed us that they were getting a divorce.  I was surprised.  Turns out he had an affair and he now wanted to marry her.  Years later my mom told me that even though they we married for thirteen years they were probably only together about six years because of the time he spent away with the military.  My dad is currently on his fifth marriage and my mom has been married three times.  Her last husband passed away about eighteen years ago.  My mom also told me that while she was married to my dad she did what he wanted because she did not want to be a single mother of four daughters.  She compromised who she was for him to be happy and he cheated on her as her reward.

I wanted my marriage to be different that my parents.  When I got married at eighteen, I learned that people at my wedding were placing odds on how long we would stay married.  Why did I not see the signs?

How is it other people think they know what is best for your life even though they are not the ones living it?

Back to love and it being enough.  There is still a place in my heart for my ex-husband.  If I throw that away then I would look at my son everyday and be bitter.  My son is the spitting image of my ex.  I am not bitter with my ex.  He was never capable of loving me the way I was meant to be loved.  I was not capable of loving him the way he was meant to be loved either.  I did not know what love really was yet and my perception of love was skewed by movies, books and dreams.

Love is a choice everyday to stay together.  Love is about understanding yourself enough to be able to understand your partner.  When it comes to love you can never love your spouse or relationship more than you love yourself.  To think otherwise would be deceiving yourself.  In order to truly love you must surrender what you think love looks like and create your own kind of love with each other.  Every relationship is different!  If you find you keep getting in the same kind of relationship, I would challenge you to look at you!

Love is about nurturing a friendship.  Being willing to compromise only because you care about the relationship is such a way that the compromise enhances you both.  It is never about keeping points on who did what or who did more.  Love forgives because to not forgive destroys trust and compassion.  Choosing love everyday even when you do not feel like it in the moment, builds your confidence in marriage and keeps you standing tall when you might not feel very strong.  Love and commitment help to keep you grounded when you would otherwise want to run and give up.

Marriage is not for the weak at heart and yet I believe love is meant for everyone.  It just means to love you must build strength in love and commitment like building a muscle at the gym.  Working everyday to get stronger.  Ask what is working when it is going well so when you hit a tough spot you can work together to find the solutions.  Helping each other through the challenging times and not shutting down when it gets tough.  Build those love and commitment muscles so you are prepared when you are faced with adversity.  For many years, I continued to ask my husband of almost twenty years, “Why do you love me?”.  Most of the time he would just tell me “I don’t know, I just do”.  I was insecure and wanted him to in essence tell me what he liked so I did not have to do the work to discover him.  Now in our relationship he randomly tells me why he loves me and why he likes me too.  Not because I am asking but because he feels it in his heart to share.  A much more desirable outcome for me.

Love is not enough!  It is enough to get started but not enough to sustain you through the tough times.  Honor, respect, compassion, forgiveness, compromise and commitment are some of the many qualities needed in all relationships to sustain you through the tough spots.  Keeping your heart open and willing to learn more will be the tools you need to stay committed.  Allowing yourself to love and be loved is a great place to be.  And remember there is so much more to marriage and commitment.

Goals In Marriage – Why Bother

I am a goal master!  I set goals in all areas of my life.  I have all of my clients set goals when working with me.  This has become my way of life for many years.  It has gotten me from the welfare mom to the successful business owner that I am today.  With that being said, one area that is often forgotten when setting goals is in your marriage.  I believe it should be the first place to set the goals but I understand why it is not often put as a priority.  I mean come on, if the relationship is going well and all feels good then why would we need to set goals?  “Don’t fix what isn’t broken” kind of mindset with setting goals in marriage.

I don’t know about you but happily ever after has not shown up in this marriage.  I mean the challenges we have been through in our marriage have been so many that I sometimes think that there is no such thing as an easy marriage.  If there is, it didn’t find its way to my front porch!  With that being said I want to be clear that I am not complaining about my marriage.  I am just being honest about the fact that we have had a lot put onto our plates that we were not prepared for nor ever thought we needed to plan for.

I was a facilitator with a seminar company for many years. In that time, hundreds of people would set goals to have a better relationship with their spouse.  They would say “I want to have a number ten relationship with my spouse”.  What did that really mean?  When asked what that would look like for them, the attendees would often describe how they wanted the outcome to be at the end of a 10 week period of working on this goal.  Very rare if ever, did I hear anyone say they wanted to sit down and set goals with their spouse so they both could work on the goals together.  It was more about what I am going to do and hope she/he would see the difference.

What goals have you set with your spouse lately in regards to your relationship?

I want to be the first to tell you “Your marriage will be more successful if, you work with your spouse on the goals you both want to achieve.  Doing so will help you achieve the kind of marriage you want!”  I discovered a while back that when I am working secretly on a goal with my husband and he does not know anything about it, I do not have his support and chaos is sure to ensue.  There have been times when I thought I was on the right track but since he did not know what my plans were, he made other plans and my goal got interfered with!  Often causing resentment and in many cases, hurt feelings!  Unless you are planning a surprise party or like this is not the strategy to a successful marriage.

How can you set goals and have your and your spouse on the right track in marriage?

Here are a few questions you could be asking to get the ball rolling to a fulfilling marriage. 

Each of you sit down and ask yourself these questions then come together and share your thoughts with each other.

  • What do I want our relationship to look like in the future?
  • How will I know when we have succeeded?
  • What is something I have always wanted to do as a couple?
  • What do I miss as a couple from our dating years?
  • How I want you to respond to me when we do not agree?
  • What romance looks like to me? (her)  or What respect looks like to me? (him)
  • Specifically, what I would like to see us accomplish this year is…

After getting together and sharing these answers, sit down and set some goals for this year.

Goals do not have to be complicated!

Some examples of some marriage goals:

  • To say I love you and kiss you each morning and evening.
  • Send her flowers once a month for the year.
  • Leave a love note in his car each day before work.
  • Read together each night.
  • Never argue in front of the kids.
  • Every three months we get away for a night without kids.
  • Lunch date every week.
  • Each month we will go over finances and plan for the next month.
  • Hire a housekeeper to come in once a month to do deep cleaning.

What would be a goal that you might or have set with your spouse?  Share here.

Sometimes your spouse will make the bet accountability partner when setting goals.  Sometimes it is better to get someone else from the outside to help you keep your goals with your spouse.  You can include another couple and then the four of you could check in with each other once a month via pot luck or double date and support each other in having a strong and healthy marriage.

My husband and I go over calendars in the beginning of each year and plan our confirmed vacations and important dates.  This way when something comes up and you have been invited to do something you can look at see if your calendar already has a priority on it.  Your spouse and family is always your number one priority.  If something comes up that is a once in a life time opportunity then talk with your spouse and work it out!  Communication is always the key to being successful in marriage.  When you set goals, plan your calendar around those goals and keep open the lines of communication then you are on the right track to a successful marriage.

If you need some support in setting some marriage goals, reach out and ask me.  I am always supportive for a successful relationship!

Do You Keep Trying To Get Divorced

I will admit that I am not always sensible.  I married my husband after thinking hard about whether or not I wanted to go through another divorce.  It is really a challenge on the marriage to stay married when you keep trying to get divorced.

After my first marriage failed and I was hit by a two by four with “I am leaving and I want a divorce” while out to dinner on our second anniversary, I felt I had no control over that situation.  I felt lost and abandoned by my first husband.

Lucky for my next husband, I was going to be in control of this marriage!

After marrying my second husband I decided that he was going to leave me to only I would be in control of it this time.  Every time we got into an argument I would just tell him to go away and if he wanted to leave then just leave.  He usually went to a man cave and worked until we were both calmed down.

If he did not like something I was doing, I suggested he get over it or leave.  If he did not like how I was raising the kids, I was not willing to compromise so I told him to back off or leave.

Do you see a pattern that was developing?  I wanted to at least be in control if he left me.  Then I would not be hit with another two-by-four moment.  Since he was going to leave anyway it might as well be when I gave him permission to leave.  Anyone else out there like me?  Nothing like a little old fashioned self sabotage!

So how do you stay married, when you keep trying to get divorced?

Marry someone who is about as strong willed as you?  Or maybe, because God is stronger than me?  Those are great ones.  Here is what I have had to do over the years to break this pattern in my life.

I attended many marriage classes, personal development workshops and allowed myself to be honest with my husband.  It wasn’t until about six years into the marriage that my husband took me into his arms and told me that he was not leaving me so I might as well stop trying to get a divorce.  We have worked really hard to stay married.  We have had to compromise and discover each others strengths so when our weaknesses showed up we could remind each other of our strengths.

Do what ever it takes to keep falling in love with your spouse!  I always loved him deep in my heart even on the days that I did not like him.  No my husband is not a saint – but he does have some saintly qualities for sticking with me all these years.  It takes a strong man (like my Marine) to equally match wits with me.  I am hard headed, bossy and an action focused woman.  He is hard headed, strong willed, bossy and remembers to focus on us!  At the same time, when things get tough, we both have to bring out our compassionate side and love each other through the challenges.

Marriage can be one of the greatest rewards in life.  We celebrate anniversaries because when we both are alive and still together that is a great accomplishment!  Celebrate being married.

If you are anything like me, working hard to stay married while trying to be in control of divorce here is my advice.  Take all that divorce energy and put it towards staying married and you just might be amazed at what you create in your life.  We celebrate 2o years married this year!  A big celebration after working so hard the first ten years to get divorced on my terms.

Keep looking for marriage mentors, people who have been married longer than you and widow/widowers that can share insight too.  Ask others how they did what you want to do.  Keep reminding yourself that it can get better when you are better at it.

What Other Relationships Do You Bring Into Your Marriage

As I have started, I was previously married before finding my life long love.  This month is a reminder of my former relationship with my ex-husband.

We met in high school.  He was a year ahead of me.  We began dating when he was a senior and I was a junior.  We dated throughout my senior year and after graduations we both were attending junior college.  We had a good relationship.  He treated me nicely and protected me from a relative that wasn’t so pleasant.  We both were working and going to school.

We ended up getting married almost a year after graduation.  February 15th, 1996 the day after Valentine’s Day!  I wonderful day – pouring down rain and many challenges from that day.  We went to Reno for the weekend honeymoon and the flood set in!  Rough start to the marriage.

Two years later, we went out to dinner for our Valentine’s Day/ Anniversary, I gave my husband a gift and he he told me he was leaving me and wanted a divorce.  He kept the gift!

When I met my husband I will admit that I always had a hard time if he wanted to go out to dinner and talk!  That is a sign for me that creates my heart racing and my brain goes into flight/fight mode.

My husband has had to deal with many moments of responses from situations from previous relationships.  He hugs me a certain way and a memory from the past flashes in my brain.  I have had to remember who I am with in the moment.  Certain comments, memories, thoughts, feelings will suddenly flash into me and I am brought back to those moments.

I have had many people who have helped to shape and mold me throughout the years.  Some of those moldings have helped me be better than I was.  Others created challenges for me to grow from.  I do not regret any part of my life because I have learned so much about myself from each and every challenge I faced in life.

Here is the challenge for us all.  Who are the people you bring with you in your marriage?  The people who have mentored you?  The people who have treated you badly?  Because most of us has had people in our lives that have not treated us well, it is likely that we bring a piece of that person along with us.  Until we learn the lessons we were meant to learn about that relationship we may have a tendency to react negatively in situations that remind us of those moments.  Bringing those negative relationships to your marriage can cause challenges.  You must be aware of these possibilities and dig deep to learn the lessons so you can move on and not take those feelings into your marriage.

Use the healthy memories, lessons and mentors to keep you moving forward in your relationship as you work through the tough relationships you bring to your marriage.  Keep yourself around people that bring out your best.  Remember to remind yourself that your spouse is not your enemy.  Forgive those people from your past so you can be the spouse you are meant to be.

Me Time – When The Time Is Right

We were speaking with our oldest son last night and we were reminded about how life was many years ago.

When we first go married we were broke!  That’s right, pretty much no money.  We started our business more than six months before we walked down the isle.  When you start a business and are working it, it takes everything you have to get it going.  That is if you didn’t have a nice stash of money to start your business.

We lived in a house that was owned by my husband’s great uncle.  Very small three bedroom house with a leaky roof.  Our boys had one bedroom, we were in one room and the business was in the smallest.  We could not afford much.  We were barley making ends meet.

Gifts for our kids where pretty much what ever grandparents or aunts get for them.  Christmas and birthday’s were the basics and a couple small toys I could find on sale.  I took a job in retail to make ends meet.  As my husband said “we had nothing to lose”.  Life was stressful and felt hard.

My son who is learning about some hard choices in life right now.  He remembers how the last ten years have been and he wants to live that kind of life style.  He does not remember the hard times we went through in the earlier years of his life.  I do though.

Marriage and relationships are difficult.  There are hard times and times when everything seems to be on the right track.  When we get off track many times we just want to through in the towel or become more selfish.  Me time and what about me is usually what one person in the relationship is quoting.  Me time?  There is no “Me Time” when your relationship is at stake.  That is when you have to dig your heals in and remember this is about us!  Our life together, how we are going to solve this issue and what we need to do to make the relationship better!  “Me Time” comes when the relationship is stable. When the hard work is done.  Just like working in the world – most people do not go on vacation in the middle of a real important deal.

I am not talking about time to take care of yourself.  I am talking about the self destructing habit in relationships when you have to dig down and work hard to create the kind of relationship you deserve.  Many people will take the hard times and become selfish and the end result is divorce.  If you hear yourself talking about “me” during a tough time re-choose and start focusing on the we and us in relationship.  It is not easy to do.  I know you can do it.  Reach out to people who are doing well in their relationships and ask for support.  Ask how they have made it through the tough times.  Keep your marriage on track even when it is hard and the reward will pay off.


21 Inexpensive Dates With Your Spouse

Being in relationship with your spouse or significant other can get lost when so much focus is on success and work. Here are 21 inexpensive ways to connect, be together and keep your relationship as important as anything else in your life.
Over the years I have found that my husband is not looking for me to get him the most expensive gift to keep him in love with me. He wants to know that the relationship is important and I will be there for him when he needs me. Doing more little things with him throughout the year keeps us connected and supporting each other in our relationship.
It takes time to plan and put effort into your romantic life. You might want to dress yourself up a little, write a note, or just think about how you want your attitude to be while you’re together. If you want your spouse to enjoy being with you, make your attitude enjoyable.
Taking on one of these tips each month could create romance all year long. Enjoy these tips and feel free to share one of your own.
  1. Be a tourist and go around your town and rediscover your town and rediscover each other. Likes, dislikes, passions and so on.
  2. Visit a local museum or art gallery, look around, share with one another which items or pieces of art you like and don’t like.
  3. Go to a fancy restaurant after you’ve eaten dinner at home and just order dessert and coffee.
  4. Light candles in your bedroom, get a bottle of warm massage oil, and give each other massages.
  5. Hire your kids to make you breakfast in bed and serve you both.
  6. Go to a local coffee shop together and talk about all the ways in which each of you feel blessed these days, as well as your hopes and dreams for the future.
  7. Find a cookbook, pick out a delicious looking meal or dessert, then make it together.
  8. Play board games, cards or do a crossword puzzle together.
  9. Go to a community play, sporting event or a school concert.
  10. On a Saturday morning, make breakfast together, take it back to bed and eat and then snuggle together.
  11. If you have a wood burning fireplace, set out a blanket, play music, make a fire, and make popcorn or S’mores in the fireplace.
  12. Read a book out loud to one another.
  13. Take a blanket outside somewhere (or even on the roof) and stargaze with your sweetie.
  14. Make a date and both of you create a dream board for your relationship together.
  15. Put your favorite hot beverage into a ‘to-go’ cup, bundle up, and go on a walk together at a nearby park.
  16. Feed the kids early and rent a movie for them to watch. While they are watching movie have a candle lit dinner for two and then invite the kids back for dessert.
  17. Set up a tent in the back yard and camp out for the evening. Lay out and star gaze and enjoy each others company.
  18. Set a date in the middle of the day while the kids are at school or napping. Enjoy sandwiches and cuddling.
  19. Trade off with other couples for babysitting and date nights.
  20. Invite another couple to a pot luck and discover more about your friends in the process.
  21. Bring your minds together and discover an inexpensive date together.

What date looks inviting to you? What is an inexpensive date you would suggest that is not on the list?