Category Archives: Stages

Why Me?

Christmas time should be a time where we come together and are filled with joy.  However, there are those that regret this time of the year.  Some of the reasons why they regret this time of the year is they do not get along with family, the are financially deprived, and/or they hurt because of people they have lost.  Granted, this list is not all inclusive.

What do you do if you are one that struggles through this time of the year?  This first response we might find ourselves uttering is “Why me?”  This is not a negative response; rather, this actually is a great response.  What is the first thing an alcoholic must do in order to overcome their disease?  They have to admit they have a problem.  The same is true for those that find themselves struggling.  They must come to some conclusions on why they are feeling this way.

After coming to some conclusions, they must begin creating some solutions to these issues.  For instance, lets say you struggle with the way your family makes you feel.  One of the ways to fight against this is to find some items you can hold fast to in order bring clarity to your situation.  Eleanor Roosevelt said it best when she said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

When life is gloomy, we must remember that the battle is within.  Eleanor’s quote reminds of this as well.  We are in control of how others make us feel or how we let others define us.  I know this is easier said then done, but we cannot let others label us.  If you struggle with this, then learn to write out a list of your great qualities and keep them where you can see them.

The next thing we have to remember when it comes to the holidays is that we are in control.  There is nothing wrong with being honest with yourself.  The old saying is true that we cannot select our families.  This being said, if being around your family brings back to many bad memories, then do not be around them.

I know this is difficult because this is something I have to deal with as well.  My mother and I have some issues, but I will not bore you with the back story.  After several years of dealing with the negative way she was treating me, I had to stand up for family and myself.  As much as it hurts, I had to choose my family, and my sanity, over a relationship with my mother.

My hope is that one day I will be able to reestablish a relationship with my mother.  However, there are some things she needs to do before that will happen.  In finishing this post, I want to point out that no one can blame others for their life.  We are the makers of our lives, so if we don’t like the way it is turning out, then we must begin rewriting our future.

The Christmas Letdown

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.  This could be that my birthday is in December, but I believe it is more than just that.  I believe it is the way that people interact with others.  It is also a time where more people are willing to talk about their spiritual journey.

One of the aspects of Christmas is gifts.  We take all this time trying to find the best gifts for those that we love.  We try not to go over budget…well…preferably.  We look forward to the joy our loved ones share when they open their presents.

This brings us to an important question.  Have you ever found yourself letdown after opening a present from a loved one?  I am sure, if we were to ask our loved ones, we would find they were letdown by gifts they received from us as well.  What do you do in these moments?

When it comes to our spouse, there is nothing wrong with being honest.  However, this does not mean that we should be cruel or vindictive.  It is very important to remember that it is the thought that counts.  When we open a gift that we would never use or wear, then we need to be honest.  Let’s face it, if we keep the gift then they are going to expect us to wear or use it, so at one point they are going to know the truth.

Be open with why you do not like the particular gift.  People can connect with feelings, so share them   and you might be amazed.  People can argue against logic and/or reasoning; however, they cannot fight against how someone feels.

In the same fashion, when someone comes to us and lets us know they are not satisfied with a gift that we bought them, do not take it personally.  It is not about you – even as much as we want to make it about us.  We need to allow others the ability to return the gifts that we got them and not take it personally.  Again, in the end, what we want most is the other person to be happy and satisfied with what they receive.

The one thing I have noticed as my wife and I have been married for over 15 years is that our tastes have changed.  Early on in our relationship, I could buy her clothes without her even seeing them, and she would like 90% of what I bought her.  Now, I have her show me what she likes and I still will only get it right about 30% of the time.

In the end, Christmas is not about the gifts.  It is truly about the connections.  This Christmas, lets keep that as the focus.

What is a gift you have received that was a letdown at Christmas?  Do you still have that gift?

The Claws of Philosophy

If I were to ask you what your philosophy of life is, what would you say?  Now that you have answered this question (or at least have pondered it), have you pondered how this affects other parts of your life?  Take for instance your marriage…how has your philosophy affected your marriage?

This is something that I recently began to really ponder in my own life.  It is truly amazing how much our philosophies impact all areas of our lives.  This whole aspect of my philosophy of life came about last week when I was listening to someone share their life’s story.  I began to wonder what my philosophy was when it came to life.  One day, last week while at lunch, I decided to sit down and write out my philosophy.

After that hour, I began to really see why I am in the place I am at in life.  As I began to extrapolate this belief to other areas in my life, I also saw how it affects them as well.  This belief oozes its claws into all aspects of our lives – whether we see it or not.

It is important for you to take time to discover what your philosophy of life is as well.  If you have never done this exercise, I highly recommend taking the time.  If you have done this before, but it has been awhile.  I would encourage you to revisit your philosophy and see if it still fits your beliefs.

If you notice, like I did, that you have a negative aspect to life, then take some time to rewrite what you want it to be.  Since that day, I have been taking time each day to rewrite what I want my philosophy to say about life.  Please note: just because you write it out does not make it your philosophy.  I am learning that I need to recite my philosophy constantly in order to really change it and make it my mine.

It takes time to unpack what we believe and then repack what we want to believe.  During this time, we fall back and move forward.  I know it can be frustrating…trust me.  You might be wondering how much energy does it take to change.  I have found that it is easier than we think, but still it takes a lot of focused effort.  The effort to change is as simple as setting your alarm in the morning and getting up to it without pressing the snooze button.

To finish this post, I want to share what I am learning.  Everything with our philosophy comes down to what we believe about our potential.  To change our potential you have to believe you can do it.  When you believe you can, the energy you put forth towards your potential increases.  Your heightened action will give greater results, which then pushes your belief higher.  This keeps cycling in an upward progression.  However, the opposite is true as well.  If you give less energy, then your you will have less results, which will then lower your belief in yourself and your potential.

Overcoming the 3 “Evils” in Marriage

There are three items that are misconstrued in life and marriage.  These three things are, for some, thought to be the work of an evil being.  However, my goal through this post is to change how you see these three items.

These items were created by God and they all have a godly purpose.  Reality is in the eyes of the beholder, and through this post, its my goal to give you new eyes to see how these three items are God’s gift to us.

The first has to do with our humanity.  This fight goes back to 1 Corinthians 6 where Paul is explaining that what we do in the body does matter.  Back in Paul’s time there were those teaching that what we did in the body did not matter because God was spirit.  Since God was spirit, He was only concerned with what we did in our spirit.  Christians can look at our humanness and say it is bad.  Why?  Because it makes them do evil things, think evil thoughts, and stops them from focusing on doing Godly things.  Just because we are weak, we interpret that to mean God made a mistake in creation when he formed our humanness.  No!  Just the opposite, it is our humanness that makes us unique.  Think about it.  Angels look on us in wonder.  The Bible says they long to understand forgiveness – something they do not get the luxury of experiencing.  We have to remember that it is God who created us and gave us flesh – who made  us human.  We are the only thing, in all of our creation, that was made in his likeness.  In fact, when God  finished with the creation story the Bible says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31a).  We have to stop looking at our humanness as a weakness and begin seeing it is as what separates us from anything else in all creation.

The second misconstrued item in a marriage is  darkness.  From an early age, we look at darkness as some type of evil.  Darkness is something that we quickly learn to fear.  Why is this though?  It was not until recently that I began reviewing this whole aspect of darkness in a new light.  What I found in the creation story, in my story, and I am sure you will find in your story as well.  We are created in darkness.  Think about it…how long were you in your mother’s womb before seeing the light of day?  Our marriages go through darkness, but rather than seeing it as an evil – my aim in this post is for you to start seeing it as place to create the best possible future.  In order for a picture to be displayed to the public, it first must be developed in the dark.  The same goes for our marriages.  In order for the good to be seen in public, the bad must be dealt with in the darkness.

Finally, conflict is something seen as either dark, evil, or bad.  However, it is through conflict that we learn to grow deeper.  It is when conflict arises that our best work is done in our relationship.  We break out of the old skin, shed the old habits, and grow into our new relationship.  Conflict is what strengthens a marriage (or relationship), it should not weaken one.

Begin to see these three items in a new light in your relationship.  If you do, then you will begin to experience peace like never before.  Which of these three items do you need the most work at seeing in a different light?

Stuck in the Sticky

Stuck, have you ever felt like that in a relationship?  I believe we all have and if you are like me, mine came within the first six months of marriage.  Not sure what happened, but one morning I woke up and those things that used to attract me to my wife were the very things that were annoying me.

What was I to do?  I started to think that maybe I married the wrong person.  I started worrying about whether I would ever feel love for her again.  There I was stuck and in a sticky place.  How do you even approach this project with someone…let alone your spouse?

When I was going through these feelings, I started to go back to the three questions we talked about in the Forever?! Part 2.  I knew that I was certain (at least at one point) that I wanted to marry this person.  I also knew that at one point I could be completely honest with her.  Finally, I knew there was a portion that still wanted to pursue her – even though I was annoyed by her.

It was through this time that I realized how important pillars are in our lives.  Pillars are those moments in our lives that we build to remember when we need to call upon them.  For instance, our first date, our wedding day, our honeymoon, and the birth of our children.  These are all pillars in my life for one reason or another, but they all help me point back to true north when my thoughts and/or feelings begin to lead me astray.

What are pillars you have created in your life to help remember the good times when things seem to going in the wrong direction?

In my life, when this was going on, I had to get back to the realization that she was the one for me.  One of the pillars I had in my life was a list of the things I wanted in my life.  I had a list of 186 things I wanted in my wife.  Do you know how many of those things my wife had?  All 186 things!  This is no coincidence.

Its funny too because the things that were annoying me were the very things that used to spark my interest when we were dating.  Things like her vulnerability and compassion.  I used to like the fact that she was so compassionate and could cry easily.  However, when we were married and got into “discussions” (aka arguments) I was annoyed by how quickly she would begin to cry.

This brings us back to the Stage 4 Awareness in the Cycles of a Relationship.  I became aware that my issues were not really with my wife.  My issues were within me.  I didn’t like the fact that my wife cried when we were in an argument because it made me feel like the “bad guy.”

What is your experience with this thought?

References:

Forever?! Part 2 link: https://paredmarriages.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/forever-part-2/

The Stage of Awareness link:  https://paredmarriages.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/the-stage-of-awareness/

Forever?! Part 2

Forever…that is one big commitment.  When I was about to take on this commitment, there were many people I turned to gain understanding.  I would ask, “How did you know that your spouse was the one for you?”  Of course, if you have asked this question, I am sure you got the same answer as I did, “I just knew.”

UGH!  Really?!  I am about to commit my life to someone for the rest of my life and when I came to you for advice this is all you could give me?!  I was so frustrated by so many, but I couldn’t be to harsh with them because I knew a portion of that statement was true.

When I walked into the room where my wife was it only took one look and I knew she was going to be my wife.  Now, did my wife have the same instant feelings?  No!  However, it only took less than a month for her to come to the realization that I was going to be the one for her.

If you are about to be married and you are wondering if you are making the right decision, or if you are married and beginning to wonder if you choose the right one.  Let me give you a few items to help you gain some clarity in this matter.

1. At some point did you feel that this person was the one for you.  Now, by saying the one for you, I am not saying that there is only one person for you.  Rather, I am saying there is one type of person for you.  In the poem of Adam and Even that starts Genesis, there was a side of Adam that was taken.  In this same fashion, the type of person that is best suited for us fulfills that side we are missing.  This is why many say that opposites attract.  I would like to point out as well, when talking about “other half” this is not a “male” and “female” aspect.

There are characteristics that our society wants to label as “female” or “male” based upon roles or tendencies.  However, we need to be careful not to be so tight in our interpretations.  For instance, most people in our society would classify emotions as a female trait.  Yet, I am the more emotional one in the relationship.  This does not make me female.  All this means is that I found a wife that is more masculine in nature because she fulfills that side of me.

2. I am willing and able to be completely naked and unashamed.  Now this does not mean that I walk around the house buck naked.  What this means is that I am willing to be vulnerable with my wife.  She was the first girl who could ask me any personal question and I would answer without concern.  I could be completely open and honest with her.

3. I wanted to continue to pursue her.  I know this is not the norm in our society today…or even when I was growing up and looking for a wife.  However, I only dated one other person than my wife…and that was for about a month.  Once this girl and I started officially dating, I knew she wasn’t the “right” one for me and I wanted to end the relationship.  However, all my friends (even other friends that were girls) were telling me to stick it out and it was a normal feeling.  When my wife and I started dating – from that date until now – I still want to pursue her.

These are just three quick things to help you in the process, but this is not all of the items.  If you are married, or you are about to be married, what are somethings that helped you know he or she is the one?

Forever?! Part 1

All you have to do is look at the divorce rate and know why couples are deciding not to marry.  However, does this decision make a relationship any more or less difficult?  Does choosing not to marry mean that a couple’s love is stronger?  What is marriage anyway?

Marriage is the union of two lives into one. Psychology Today describes marriage as “the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent” (“Marriage”, 2014). This is the definition we will use for the remainder of this posting.  Taking a look at this, I would say this is the goal of all couples.  They want to have a long and lasting relationship.  We all want to be able to express our love publicly – some more so than others…for sure. When we think we have found the ONE, we want the relationship to last…so there is a sense of permanence. So, that leaves one word left…official. What is it about this word that stops couples dead in their tracks?

Could it be that they saw their own parents divorce and it left an incredible impression on them. Regarding this issue, many parents would jump to the conclusion that it is better for them to divorce then to constantly fight in front of their children. I could say that there are studies that prove this to be true (which I would be correct). However; there are studies that show the opposite is true as well. So, who is right?

Lets get personal…I have already warned you about his, so you should expect it by now…

If you were from a divorced family, which I am, would you prefer that your parents never divorced in the first place? Now, there will be some that find it hard to be selfish here and say things like, “I am glad that my parents are happy, even if that meant it wasn’t together.” Some can say that legitimately; however, there are some that find it hard to be possessive…even though they want to be. I am one that wished my parents had not divorced. I wish they were still together.

Here are some important facts to know.  The stigma about married couples is that most are not happy.  This is not the truth.  Studies show that about two-thirds of married couples are happy.  The one-third that aren’t, if they were to stay married and work on their relationship about two-thirds of them will become happy in about 5 years (Keller, 2011).

What does this mean for you?  How do you know that the one you married (or the one you are about to marry) is the one for your…forever?

References:

Keller, T. (2011). The meaning of marriage: Facing the complexities of commitment with the wisdom      of God. New York, NY: Dutton.

Marriage. (2014). Psychology Today. Retrieved from
http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/marriage