Tag Archives: relationship

Help Your Spouse Achieve Lifelong Dreams

I have a few close friends and family members who are all about their “bucket lists,” the lists of things they want to experience or accomplish during their lives. For instance, my brother’s list inspired him to climb Mount Rainier and to go deep-sea diving in remote locations.  This week, I was reading the uplifting blog The Generous Wife. She suggested as couples we talk regularly about our bucket lists and look for ways to help our spouses achieve their wishes. It’s a fantastic suggestion.

I like this idea for multiple reasons. First, discussing your dreams with your spouse increases intimacy and keeps you focused on positive aspects of your life. Second, participating in activities outside of your norm builds excitement and passion for yourself and for your marriage. And third, helping your spouse achieve his or her dreams often causes your spouse to have increased gratitude toward you. And gratitude has been shown to increase connection and bonds.

I must admit I’m not much of a true adventurer. I’d much rather sit on a beach than climb a treacherous mountain. However, I have spectacular memories of traveling to Hawaii, Bermuda, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Monaco, Mexico—and yes, even a memorable trip to Canada during one of their worst snowstorms—with my husband. All that travel came to a screeching halt when our two children were welcomed into our lives. I have more destinations in mind when our kids are a bit older. But travel isn’t required; many adventures can be found without leaving your hometown.

I have a great friend who encouraged her husband to fulfill his dream of running a hot-air balloon business, while maintaining his full-time job as a pilot. I’ve never heard her complain of the time it takes away from their large family. I have other friends who have supported their spouse’s dreams to become an entrepreneur or a full-time parent. Two married friends have decided to visit every national park in the country. Perhaps you have always wanted to take music or dance lessons, fly an airplane, learn a new language or write a book. Share your goals with your spouse, and discuss how your dreams could become a reality.

Believing in one another and in a positive vision for your union is part of the magic of marriage. How many divorces could be prevented if spouses felt their partner cared as much about their dreams and goals as they do?

What fun things are on your bucket list? What obstacles stand in your way—time, money, self-doubt, an aging body? Do you know what’s on your partner’s list?

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Don’t Take Your Spouse for Granted

“Hug your child every day,” is the often-repeated command of heartbroken parents who have lost a child—wishing they could have just one more opportunity to share their affection. My heart goes out to them when I see them on TV after their tragic loss. It’s a painful reminder that we should not take for granted each day with our loved ones.

Those who have lost something valuable often have important, yet simple, wisdom to share. A widowed neighbor of mine says she advised all her friends after her husband died, “to be sure to tell your spouse every day that you love them.”

Yes, tell them. Then, show them with your attitude, kindness and support. Don’t take them for granted. Don’t argue about petty, unimportant stuff that won’t matter in a week. If you want to go further in demonstrating your love, check out these ideas to show your love.

What would your life be like without your partner? Tell him or her what you appreciate and love about being married to them.

Loving a Woman’s Body

It’s springtime in America. I, like millions of other women, am trying to get my body back in shape for the dreaded bathing suit season. More cardio. More situps. More squats. Don’t you hate squats?

What if we loved our bodies like our husbands do? What if we looked at ourselves with higher esteem, adoring our firm parts and our soft parts?

I’m pretty sure men are just happy the flannel PJs are moving into storage for a few months, rather than analyzing how good your legs look in shorts. Heck, they’re just glad they get to see your legs a little more often.

I know it’s not an easy prospect to view your body more positively, as a great many of us suffer from chronically low body images. But confidence is attractive, and whining is not. A woman who is uncomfortable with her body will project that in the bedroom. So, sure, do your cardio, but try not to obsess about your supposed bodily faults. Avoid comparing your body to someone else’s. I’m never going to look like a magazine model, and you probably won’t either. (Just remember there was a lot of air brushing involved.)

If you want your husband to only have eyes for you, realize that viewing your body is an important part of his sexual enjoyment. Try to look at your body more like he does—with appreciation not disdain.

Guys, you might make an effort to compliment your wife’s body—especially the parts she may be insecure about. And ladies, your man doesn’t mind a little praise either. 

It may sound cliche, but focus your attention on your inner beauty and your outward behaviors, not on what you think the world thinks is important.

Women: Do you find it hard to measure up to our culture’s ideal body, or are you confident in your skin?

Men: Are you surprised women don’t understand their beauty? Are you in awe of the female form? Do you have a hard time convincing your wife how much you appreciate her body? Do you think it’s cultural that women have a perfectionistic view of their bodies?

Lifetime Marriage: A Reasonable Expectation or Crazy Talk?

1-1203879082HMCpAmong never-marrieds aged 20 to 30 who were surveyed recently, 87% said “I want a marriage that will last a lifetime.” Many in Gen Y have seen their parents divorce and hope to avoid that path. Unfortunately a desire to have a lasting marriage doesn’t mean they have the skills to achieve it, especially as conflict and adversity enter their lives.

A 1995 Monitoring the Future survey of teens found most planned to get married and felt marriage was important, but they were pessimistic about their ability to maintain a lifelong marriage and saw few positive examples of marriage.

This brings us back to the subject of agape or unconditional love  (discussed in a previous post). Many people of faith refer to this type of marriage as a “covenant marriage” and view marriage as a sacred vow rather than a hopeful agreement based on positive life occurrences. Is a lifetime marriage a crazy ideal that few people can hope for, or is it reasonable that two normal, committed people can achieve?

Advocates for a permanent marriage say it is based on commitment, forgiveness, sacrifice, and putting the other person’s needs above their own. This may seem like a way to set yourself up to be taken advantage of. After all, if you could get your way, wouldn’t you do less work and make special requests all day long? (Perhaps there are some spouses who would, but that rolls into the topic of setting expectations and knowing your partner well before marriage. Yes, many people need a better screening process for potential mates.)

For the happily married couples I have interviewed, the opposite tends to occur. Many of them have learned a secret, what I call the “paradox of giving.” The more one person chooses to give, the more the other person desires to please his or her spouse, creating a cycle of giving. Instead of keeping track and waiting to get something back every time they give, they just do their best at being giving, loving people, and their spouse does the same. They’re not perfect, but they make a daily effort.

Everyone has heard the phrase “it is in giving that we receive,” but few live it out.  The immature couple focused on their individual needs and wants never experiences this paradox and never finds anyone who can meet every desire and expectation they have. The mature couple at least has a willingness to try to please one other. The result, at least for many I have met, is that they both end up feeling very satisfied and happy in their relationship.

Lonely or sad people are often told to reach out to help someone else in need as a way to boost their spirits. Most of us feel good when we help someone else, especially as a secret or a surprise. Apply a little of this feel-good medicine to your marriage. Do something nice without the other person even knowing. If you can’t think of something nice to do, ask, “How can I help you today?” Start the giving cycle. Don’t wait for the good to be returned.

So what do you think–is a lifetime married to the same person reasonable or does it sound like crazy talk?

Is Your Marriage in a Rut?

Many people are concerned about avoiding the biggest causes of divorce. They understand the major risks of affairs, addictive drugs, or keeping financial secrets from their spouse. Have you ever wondered how many marriages were doomed by boredom? It’s a sneaky marriage killer.

The weariness of the world creeps slowly but surely into our relationships. Remember your newlywed days, when the stress of the world would melt away when you arrived home and entered your mate’s embrace? As long as you were with him or her, ennui didn’t exist. You wanted to know what was on her mind, or what trip he wanted to take next year.

But jobs, children, cooking dinner, mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, shoveling the snow and checking your email somehow took over your life. I know they often do mine.

To help you “Get Your Marriage Out of a Rut,” are some great tips from Sheri & Bob Stritof on About.com. They compare marriage to driving on the freeway; it’s easy to get bogged down in the traffic and rush of everyday living. At some point, you’re so bogged down, you consider whether another relationship will give you the spark you need. (You’ll just end up in the same place.) Instead, realize that you are responsible for allowing your relationship to be in a rut, and you can change it.

Their seven tips for reconnecting:

  1. A weekend away with no kids, TV, Internet, chores or work. What would you do, you ask? “Talk about good memories, of future dreams, of current concerns and fears.”
  2. A weekly date. I agree this can be difficult for those of us with small children, but can you take a walk around the yard or have a cup of coffee on the porch together while the kids play or after they are in bed? You need this time.
  3. Find a peaceful room, uncluttered and inviting, where you can relax together. The Stritoffs suggest you work on one together if you don’t have one now. I like this suggestion; I love hanging out with my husband in our uncluttered sunroom, which has no electricity (thus no TV, radio, or computer).
  4. Write a letter when you need to discuss sensitive issues. Consider reading it in a day or two before giving it to your spouse. I’ve definitely used this one, but I’m a writer. It works to keep tempers down and get your points across clearly.
  5. Make plans for your future. Set some goals.
  6. Spend a positive ten minutes together daily—walking, watching the sunset, reminiscing, hugging, etc.
  7. Do something new each day, even eating a new food. Then you’ll have something new to share with your spouse.

What ideas do you have for staying out of that rut? Read more details in “Get Your  Marriage Out of a Rut.”