Tag Archives: marriage and family

Avoid these 5 regrets by living and loving to the fullest

As you set plans and goals for this year, perhaps you seek inspiration about the kind of life you hope to live—one filled with passion and purpose. Let’s hope that life includes a life with awesome relationships to boot.

A palliative care nurse named Bronnie Ware recently wrote about the top five regrets people make on their deathbeds. (See her post here.) They are keen reminders of what’s important, and they have great applications to marriage.

  1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected.” Bronnie says this was the most common regret. Have you been honest with yourself about the life you want to lead and the dreams you want to pursue? Talk to your spouse about these dreams, including your dreams for your marriage and family life. Live out your personal values, not those of the culture around you. For example, if travel is important to you, figure out how to scale back your lifestyle to provide more funds and time for adventures, or look for a job abroad so you can travel while getting paid. Follow your dreams while you are still healthy enough to do so.
  2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” Bronnie says all the older men spoke of missing their children’s youth, and men and women also talked of missing their partner’s companionship due to work. We often fall into the trap that work is what we have to do, and family life gets squeezed into the space that is left. But Bronnie suggests, “By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do…you become happier and more open to new opportunities.

 I would add that in addition to simplifying, learning to say no to some things (or even most things) opens doors for the important things. I watched a short interview today by John Acuff (while I was “wasting time” on Facebook) in which he explains why it’s important to let some people down in order to not let down the important ones in our lives. If you don’t have time to pursue all the great things you want to in live, I strongly encourage you to watch it on ABC News.

  1. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” The way to have true and meaningful relationships is to be ourselves.
  2. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.” Married and single people can benefit greatly by keeping strong friendships. Research says social interactions increase our happiness and longevity. Caroline says many of the dying didn’t realize the value in their friendships until their dying weeks when the friendships were lost. What friendships are important for you to cultivate? How do you invest your time and energy into these relationships?  All that remains in the final weeks is love and relationships, says Caroline.
  3. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” While she explains many people on their deathbeds realized too late that happiness was a choice, I think that is equally true for marriage. We can focus on our partner’s great qualities or the things that annoy us. We can think about unmet needs or express gratitude for what we receive in love. We can choose to be happy together, or we can focus on the imperfections that are always a part of human life and love.

What are the choices you are making with your time and your attitude this year? I’ve always thought regrets are the worst possible emotion. What do you hope to feel as you look back on your life, and what are the regrets you hope to avoid?

If you enjoyed this post, sign up for free updates at MarriageGems.com. For information about Lori’s book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage, visit Amazon.com or LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Ambro courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Are You Hunting for Perfection in Your Spouse?

The following is based on the introduction to my upcoming book, FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage.

Wading waist-deep down Missouri’s Fox River on a hot summer day, I learned to hunt for geodes. These semi-round sedimentary rocks, said to be 350 million years old, contain hidden crystals. The casual hiker sees rocks, but geode hunters notice their cauliflower-shaped exterior and envision gem-like interiors.

At the sweet, shallow spot of “The Fox,” abundant geodes range in size from a newborn’s fist to more than 100 pounds, discovered under the water and lying nearby in the grass, as if tossed there during an Easter egg hunt for us to find. We also found them lodged in the riverbanks with ten feet of earth pressing down on them—half circles poking out of the earthen wall, waiting for erosion to release them into the river.

Geodes’ sparkling interiors are generally white or clear, but some are colored, depending on mineral content. The product of a combination of water, natural chemicals, pressure, and heat, each porous geode is unique. There is no way to tell which will open to reveal a crystal treasure and which will reveal a solid mass or a greasy ball of sediment.

We’re a lot like geodes, and so are our marriages. Without exception, we feel pressure from all sides, which can at times feel like the weight of the world. There is no shortage of muck dredged up in our society and no way to prevent seepage of this sediment into our lives. Some people, like geodes, use stressful situations to help shape, improve, and crystallize themselves. Others crumble under the pressure, store the muck for someone else to discover, or become hardened masses—of no real value to others.

For my upcoming book, FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration For Your Marriage, I interviewed happily married couples across the country, some who have faced intense adversity—the kind that would pummel most marriages—yet became closer as a result. I tried to discover what made some marriages succeed despite hardship, while others wash away with the first storm. Successful couples don’t just “overcome” adversity; instead, they become changed by it and incorporate what they have learned into a more perfect union.

We’re all hunting for perfection—in ourselves, in others, and in our relationships. We won’t find it by looking at the outer shell. Just as there isn’t just one path for creating an ideal geode (volcanic geodes differ greatly in composition and form from Mexican “coconut” geodes, for example), there certainly isn’t one recipe for an extraordinary marriage, although there are some common ingredients. Since we have different needs and personalities, no magic technique will work for all marriages. Still, despite our range of challenges, we humans share similar fears, desires, and longings. So when some couples uncover what makes a marriage—even one fraught with major obstacles—work well, we want to hear their story, to draw our own conclusions and to add them to our own life experiences. Success stories are all around us if we listen.

At some point, all marriages will face intense pressure. Will the pressure change you? Undoubtedly. Will it break you apart? Maybe. It may also create something entirely new and better than expected, like the twin-chambered geode, a merger of two hollow geodes. Learning how others have handled crises can help you prepare for your own.

Lest we think true love is a one-in-a-million find, consider that each spring, countless geodes are released from the earth, a seemingly impossible product of millions of years of time and energy. Be open to the possibility that your hunt for perfection is over, that your marriage is perfect but unfinished, being honed by outside forces, in the same way that a child is a perfect but incomplete person—no less perfect because of he or she is in the early stages in life.

The couples profiled in this book are from different generations and walks of life, but they all became united in their difficulties. Those who faced multiple tests found their marriage became stronger with each one. Each couple found joy together, even amidst chaotic lives. These are not couples who merely “stuck it out”; theirs are great love stories whose commitment is not dependent on their circumstances. I hope they contribute to your own love story.

First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage will be available December 8th on Amazon.com. To learn more, go to www.LoriDLowe.com.  The book’s Facebook page is www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss.

Photo by Lori Lowe

At What Age Does the Romance Peter Out in a Marriage?

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

For all the talk about menopause and the fear many men and women have that it will impede their sex lives, it’s the husband who usually determines how long a couple’s sex life lasts. I wanted to share an excerpt from Joe Beam’s Blog on sex in later life because this fact was a surprise to me, and it might be for you as well. (Joe is a national best-selling author who has been interviewed on many TV news programs.

“My friend Dr. Barry McCarthy is not only a brilliant expert in matters of sexuality, he also is really nice guy… Barry first opened my eyes to the fact that men are as complicated as women when it comes to sex. Early in my sexual studies I was this naive, “Well, guys are guys. We don’t have to worry about them, so let’s focus on helping the women with their sexuality.” Barry gently corrected my thinking on that.

Then he told me that for most couples it is the husband who determines when their active sex life ends. He says that 1/3 of men quit having sex at age 65. Another 1/3 at 75. He didn’t talk about that last 1/3 but I imagine we can just call them “men who die happy.”

Experience with couples affirms Barry’s knowledge. (Of course, Barry’s knowledge is based on scientific research and long experience, so they didn’t really need affirming.) By far, no matter what the age, I am asked by more women than men about how to get their spouses to be sexual again. These are women in their 20s through their 80s. (One 80-year-old caller to my radio program told me that she had outlived five husbands and the guy she is dating now is in his 50s. When she asked if I’d like to see her picture, I replied that I DEFINITELY would.

So, guys and gals, at what age in life should we cease being sexually active?

Death.

Before that, no matter what the age, it contributes to the health of husband and wife, to their bonding, to their fulfillment, and to their relationship. Thinking that stopping sex is the thing to do because you are now XX years old is wrong. You can have sex into your hundreds.

Just be careful that you don’t break a hip.”

So whether you’re in your 20s or your 80s, Joe’s admonition gives us motivation to keep the romance blooming throughout our life-long relationship. Does it surprise you that men seem to determine how long their sex lives lasts in most marriages?

Related Link:

This article by the Daily Mail in the U.K. discusses how several couples maintained passion-filled lives after 60, and why they and several experts believe that is the glue that keeps a marriage together. “The Kinsey Sex Institute states that the average 18 to 29-year-old has sex 142 times a year; 30 to 39-year-olds 86 times a year; 40 to 49-year-olds 69 times a year; and the over-50s have sex 52 times a year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Growing older in a committed relationship doesn’t have to mean a slow slide into celibacy and slippers.

Photo courtesy of Stockvault by Christian Steiniger

Plan a Get-Away with Your Spouse

Central Park, NYC

I just returned from a long weekend to NYC with my hubby. We had a great trip and perfect weather, but it wasn’t without difficulty that we managed to take a short trip together.

For us, getting away is rather complicated without grandparents living nearby. It meant we had to ask for help from friends and relatives and carefully coordinate care for our children for four days, being handed off to different people, driven to school and soccer games and more. I spent days packing everything needed for them and for us. All went smoothly, and the kids were well cared for.

Then there was the trip planning that my husband completed–purchasing airline tickets, reserving hotel rooms, planning train tickets, researching and buying show tickets in the city, etc.  Finally, there is also the expense of taking a trip.

But it’s worth all the hassle, time and expense. Consider it an important investment in your marriage.

I confess we don’t get away nearly as often as we should because of the complications. As our children get older, however, it’s less difficult. They’re more excited to spend time with friends or cousins and less anxious about being away from parents–and I’m less anxious about leaving them. Couples who wait for their kids to grow up have missed key opportunities to add to their memories and experiences and to strengthen their relationship.

So, even if it seems difficult, brainstorm with your spouse this week about how you can get a weekend or a week away without kids or other responsibilities. We find it’s a great opportunity to see each other as spouses and partners, not just as “mom” or “dad”. We also were fortunate to meet and spend time with great people, which added to our enjoyment away.

Before our kids came along, we jetted off to Barcelona or Paris or Hawaii and were co-adventurers in life. We welcomed parenthood, and with it our change in priorities. But sometimes it’s fun to be co-adventurers again, not just negotiators of how to get through the daily obligations and errands.

To keep a marriage thriving, we have to spend time together and have fun together. What do you have planned in the near future?