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Articles from December 2009

December 28, 2009

Marriage Week Plans?

The week leading up to Valentine's Day (Sunday, February 14, 2010) is Marriage Week. Does your community group, mosque, church, temple, or synagogue have something planned? It might make the difference between a couple giving up on each other and a family staying together, growing strong.

The Smart Marriages website lists lots of Marriage Week ideas. How about sponsoring a college basketball game and celebrating married couples on the Jumbotron? How about a showing of the movie Fireproof? Or perhaps just publish a list of those couples in your group celebrating their 10th, 25th, 35th, or 50th anniversaries this year?

None of these is a huge amount of work, but any one of them could be enough to help several couples over a rough spot in their marriage. When their sisters, brothers, or friends get stuck in a marital problem years later, your efforts will make a difference again. When the children of these couples begin dating, what happened when they were kids will affect their choices. When they marry, it may mean their kids get to be inspired by attending their grandparents' fiftieth anniversary celebration.

Let me know with a comment what you have planned this February.

December 21, 2009

If I'm Not the One Thing You Can't Stand to Lose...

Reba McEntire's hit song Consider Me Gone expresses a feeling many of us have experienced in our relationships. "If I'm not the one thing you can't stand to lose...consider me gone." Feeling unimportant to someone we love and want in our life is intolerable. Our natural first impulse is to run.

Yet, when I listen to this song, I don't hear a woman who has fallen in love first and realizes she's hoping for more than she's likely to get, someone who might do well to run. I hear a woman who has made a commitment to a life partner or created a lifelong bond by giving birth to a child together, a woman in intense pain who wants most to hold onto a loving bond.

"Consider me gone" may be intended to get a declaration of love from someone who doesn't want her to go, but it's more likely to set off the same horrible fear that her partner is not the one thing she can't stand to lose.

To her, I want to yell, "Assume love! Before you let fear take over your senses, try out the idea that what's got you worried is not lost love at all, but fearful love or even full-out, committed love being expressed in a way you're not familiar with."

An example: when I am very busy, away from home a lot, working when I'm there, my husband figures the best way to show his love is to keep himself busy and out of the way. I come dashing into the house thinking, "Oh, finally, a chance to spend some time with him," and he's so deeply involved in something that I cannot get his attention. And I never fail to feel rejected, unimportant to him — until I Assume Love and try looking at his actions as an act of love.

Then I smile, instead of running off to another room and pouting while I busy myself with something I don't really want to be doing. Maybe he doesn't care that I'm available, but maybe — more likely — he's being helpful, because my entrance wasn't any different from the last few, when I had 40 minutes to get something important done and run out again.

Gently, by joining in whatever he's doing or by quietly kissing the top of his head while he works, I make it clear this entrance of mine is different. My fear drains away. He smiles as he catches on, and he lets me know how soon he'll be done, or he welcomes me into whatever he's doing. Neither of us worries the other is going or good as gone. Life is very, very sweet. I like being married, and I love the calm that assuming love brings us.

December 19, 2009

How to Feel Close Again - Quickly

Thanks to the always informative Smart Marriages newsletter, I have a great link to share with you today, a downloadable version of the cover story in January's Scientific American Mind.

Research shows some simple exercises can make you feel closer to just about anyone. I recommend you stick to trying them with your spouse.

December 15, 2009

Why Be Married? To Celebrate a 25th Anniversary

Wishing David and Elaine a very, very happy 25th anniversary and the start of the next 25 great years together. Well done, guys! Still have your wedding photo just a few feet from my computer. Can't imagine a better gift to your kids than your love for each other.

December 4, 2009

Why Be Married? For the Tacos

Yesterday afternoon, all I could think of was tacos. Nothing fancy, like our favorite Mexican restaurant serves, nor really spicy, like the wonderful new restaurant we found last month. Just simple, ground-beef tacos in pre-made taco shells, overflowing with shredded lettuce and salsa. But after I bought the ingredients, I had no energy to make them. So I asked my husband, and he said yes, and they were really, really yummy. And one more time I thought how very lucky I am to be married.

December 3, 2009

7 Ways to Get the Sort of Gifts You Love

For those who don't get excited about receiving gifts, giving them can be a chore. Worse yet, gift-giving can become a no-win trap, one in which they are certain to disappoint someone who matters a lot to them.

Here are seven ways to have more fun this month if you love giving and receiving gifts but your spouse doesn't:

  1. Create a wish list and make it easy for your mate to find.

  2. Find a designated shopper your spouse can turn to.

  3. Invite your spouse to gift wrap an invitation to something he or she would like to do with you.

  4. Cultivate friends who share your love of gifts and find a different tradition to share with your partner.

  5. Wrap up a few things you would love and let your spouse choose which to give you when.

  6. Pick something you always love that your husband or wife can give you ever year, like Godiva chocolates or your favorite fragrance.

  7. Encourage your beloved to create coupons you can exchange for help with your computer, car, housework, or errands.

What's the most unusual gift you've ever received from your mate?

December 2, 2009

Loving and Compassionate? Not Right Now!

Steven Stosny gets it. His take on resolving marriage battles changes everything, whether your marriage is abusive or just stressed out.

In Dr. Stosny's November 30th blog post, he looked at our two options for dealing with this pair of competing thoughts (cognitive dissonance), so common for us married folks:

"I am a loving and compassionate person.
Yet I am not loving and compassionate to you at this moment."

Option 1 (likely to lead to an authentic sense of self and a better relationship):

"Therefore, I must try harder to understand your perspective and sympathize with any discomfort or pain that underlies it."

Option 2 (likely to lead to self-righteousness or a victim identity and failure at any attempts at an intimate relationship):

"Therefore, there must be something wrong with you - you are selfish, irrational, ignorant, unworthy, crazy, personality-disordered, abusive, damaged by childhood, etc."

How do you understand your mate's perspective? Assume Love. It's a powerful tool.

December 1, 2009

The Problem with Expectations in Marriage

One of my favorite sayings (I think it comes from Alcoholics Anonymous) is this: "An expectation is a premeditated resentment." December is a big month for mistaken expectations, especially for a new couple or for one whose circumstances have changed this year.

Do you want to spend this month angry about the help you expected, the gifts you expected, the attendance at family or social gatherings you expected, or the religious observances you expected? Or would you rather spend it enjoying the delights of a husband or wife you chose for the qualities he or she adds to your life?

The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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