Dec 19

The # 1 Thing That Every Successful Couple Do

An argument occurred; she shut down. There is no talking. She felt unheard. He felt disrespected. He initiated reconciliation by trying to be close physically. She pulled away; he felt punished. She felt that he was insensitive. Perhaps, this wife is not saying overtly that she is punishing her husband, but he felt he was being punished.

They were talking he started raising his voice. He questioned her. She felt she was treated like a child. She initiated a conversation to resolve the issue. He wanted to drop the subject and said, “I don’t want to deal with this again.” The same fights again, but yet he refuses to talk. Perhaps, this husband did not try to hurt his wife’s feelings purposely, but she felt hurt.

Many couples play this cycle over and over again. The difference between couples who get out of the cycle of argument and couples who are successful is one thing – Extending grace.

ID-100246883Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles under

Extending grace seems so simple, but it can be so complicated. Grace giving is not ignoring your marriage problems. It is not sweeping them under the carpet and having them resurfaced during another argument. Extending grace is recognizing that your spouse is not perfect. Yes, she might have disrespected you; ignoring the issue and displaying anger will not solve it. Extending grace is blocking the white noises (anger, criticism, shut down, punishment, belittling, etc) and addressing the real issue. Extending grace is a perpetual practice of successful couples.

Learn to extend grace so you can move forward. Trust me, you will move forward. Shutting down, withholding sex, controlling through anger, all these will be destructive behaviors of the past. Today, start by extending grace to your spouse. Put the weapons down, your spouse is not the enemy. Successful couples do not hold their spouse hostage. They release them to address the real issue and build a successful marriage.

Question: How do you think extending grace to your spouse would affect your marriage?

Thank you for reading

Dec 17

Is Your Focus Creating a Barrier to Intimacy?

What if I tell you there is one idea that can drastically change your marriage. It is not a gimmick. In fact, I have seen it work with over 20 couples just this year. And, it has worked for many couples over the years. It is not a new idea and I didn’t invent it. I can attest to the benefits that it has brought to my own marriage. By the time you finish reading this blog post, and if you take action, you might have just saved yourself $15,000.


Photo Courtesy of Ambro under

5 Things You Must Know Before You Proceed

You must act with all your heart

You must be sincere

You must act without complaining

You must take action immediately

Decide to commit at least a week when implementing this idea (You don’t have to stop after a week)

Now, if you have made it this point, you are all in.

I want to remind you no marriage that ends in divorce was a surprise, but many couples end up in a lawyer’s office without knowing what exactly happened. Here is the game changer in all healthy marriages – A focus on spousal greatness. Both healthy and unhealthy marriages have problems. In fact, in all my years in counseling, I have never met a couple who did not have any conflict. But the difference between couples who have successful marriage and couples who don’t is the spouses choose to focus more on each others’ greatness rather than faults. This is not to say they avoid facing issues. In fact, couples who focus on spousal greatness address and solve marriage problems quicker with honesty and with love.

As you can see, this focus on spousal greatness is very beneficial. Why more couples are not using this? I don’t know. One thing I do know – You cannot become one when you are too busy tearing each other down. There is a natural tendency to focus on the negatives. The everyday tasks become expected and sometime with a sense of entitlement. The never ending song that your spouse hear doesn’t have to be “You need to do this better, you need to improve this, when will you start doing this or that.” That is not motivating. That is discouraging.

Change your focus and you will change your marriage. What are the things that your spouse is doing well in the marriage? The first month I started asking clients to practice this in their marriages, a client pointed out that he noticed that he focused only on the negatives with his wife and even with his children. Another client reported that her focus have been so much on the negatives that she took for granted that her husband work so she could be at home with the children. The above are just examples of couples who were able to change their marriages because they change their focus. The cooking, cleaning, fixing around the house were all areas of a spouse’s greatness that were no longer ignored. As a result, these couples became more grateful; they encouraged their spouses and their children. They change their focus.

Will you change your focus?


So, here it is. It is your turn to change your marriage. For one week, point out your spouse greatness. Write it on a note. Send it a text. Hold their hands and say it face to face. And, if you are facing a hard time in your marriage, it will be hard, but this might be your marriage game changer. Make a point to focus only on your spouse’s greatness. Don’t focus on the negatives. I promise you from grade school report cards to the workplace reviews, an individual has probably filled that role.

Act today. Start focusing on your spouse’s greatness.

Question: What do you love most about your spouse?

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Dec 15

3 Ingredients of A Gratitude Filled Marriage

Life has a funny way of teaching us lessons that it is crucial for our existence. For the past months, I have been working with many clients to look for the positives. Some people would call ” focus on the positive” psychobabble, self-help gimmick, but I have seen the power of reflecting on the good instead of wallowing on the bad. Focus on the positives is not a Pollyanna state of mind. Knowing all that, yet, I found myself fallen in a deep sea of negative thinking. I was stuck in traffic with my son. Instead of using the time to bond with my son or to do some self-reflection. I founds myself complaining of the bad traffic. Then it was the drivers and you know it spilled over  to the road workers. You know what happened I brought the stinking negative attitude at home. I walked in the door and noticed a “disorganized kitchen.” I greeted my husband and pretty much started complaining. Bad move and this is not the way to greet your spouse.You have been there too. I know just like me you don’t like those moments.


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Just like me, many spouses fall in the trap of bringing complaints home like the home  is a hotel for all the complaints. In reality, if we treat our homes as a haven our marriage will flourish. If we harvest complaints, we create an environment of discouragements. Consequently, we end up with a disengaging spouse or worse no spouse at all. Yes, we should be able to be open with our spouse. Yes, we should be able to share our dislikes. However, a stinky attitude that tears our spouse is not healthy for marriage.


Being grateful in marriage requires 3 things. 1. Intentionality. 2. Holding the Complaints. 3. Find the Moments to Share Gratitude. All three ingredients are needed for a healthy marriage. All three ingredients are needed for a gratitude filled marriage.

Intentionality – Be alert and protect your mind. I knew that I was stuck in a bad Atlanta saturday traffic. There are several things I can do to protect my marriage if a similar situation takes place. Listen to some great podcast. Entertain myself or even pause and regroup before I enter my residence. Protecting our thoughts and hearts can really help save us from senseless arguments.

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Holding the Complaints – Some things are not worth sharing. No, I am not talking about being dishonest with your spouse. I am talking about having a filter. There are some conversations that are useless and has no purpose in a healthy marriage. One question I have used in the past that have been so helpful is  – How will this statement help my marriage? You will be surprised how this question have helped me to change my tone and attitude. It is a self-reflection question that can change the course of the conversation.


Find the Moments to Share Gratitude – It is easy to take our spouse for granted. I have been there and you have been there too. If he takes the trash out, we see it as his duties. So we stay quiet. She cleans the  bedroom; she gets no thank you. It is her duties. Imagine if your spouse where no longer there, how many duties, chores, small and big tasks that would go uncompleted. I thought of that scenario and it sends a chill down my spine. Look for the moments to be thankful. Gratitude is not limited to Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. It is a way of life in healthy and gratitude filled marriage. 

You and I can have a complaining party, but what would that do to our attitude toward our spouse, our children, our friends,  and our co-workers. Make the decision to fill your marriage with gratitude on a daily basis.  I learned my lesson about gratitude. I got back on track and I hope you will join me in making your marriage a gratitude filled marriage.



Question: How do you fill your marriage with an attitude of gratitude?


Take Action –  Today make it a day of no complaining.


Thank you for reading

Dec 12

Is Your Marriage A Place of Growth?

A former client reconnected with me and informed me that she is separated from her husband. She mentioned that she feels happy and more connected to her husband than she has ever felt before. Separation is one of the options we had discussed during marital counseling, but at that time, she was not ready to take that step. A year later, this client realized that she was not allowing her husband to grow. Now, this is a wife who really loves her husband. However, her definition of love was twisted in many ways. In the name of love, like many spouses she accepted abuse, she made excuses and covered up for the abuse and addiction. Many marriage counselors would condemn my choice to discuss separation as one of the options that allow couples to grow. However, in some cases separation is necessary. Granted is not the first option that is discussed in marriage counseling. But it has its place and purpose. 


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I hope your marriage would never experience a separation. However, in order for your marriage to be a place of growth, 3 things must happen consistently.  


Allow your spouse to reap the natural consequences of his or her actions – In marriage finding who is responsible for what can be murky. After all, an unhealthy environment can lead one spouse to believe that cleaning up after financial mess, irresponsibility at work and with personal engagements is the right role of a loving spouse. You are responsible for your actions and your spouse is responsible for his or her actions. Allowing your spouse to take responsibility for his actions is an act of love. You can still provide your full support but giving full support and love does not mean you should take your spouse’s consequences away. Don’t let manipulation, self-guilt lead you to take on something that is not yours.  


Know that pain is part of healing – One of the main reasons many spouses choose to become PR agents instead of a wife or a husband is the fear of pain. As the PR agent, a wife will call her husband’s work and report that her husband is sick. When in reality her husband is suffering from his choices to abuse alcohol. However, this wife is afraid of her husband losing her job. Perhaps she wonders, can she really take care of the household bills. Facing his anger, her own guilt, her fear of not having an income is all real and valid, but losing the job can be the last straw that leads the husband to enter rehab. The job lost can help the wife to move from PR agent, enabler, caretaker, to helper, supporter, and lover. No one likes pain; but pain is part of the process of every healthy marriage. The way a couple address pains can make or break the marriage. 


Photo Courtesy of Graur Codrin under

Obstacles are challenges that make marriages stronger – Many couples face obstacles and they react by either running away from each other or one spouse takes the whole load. Imagine what can happen to your marriage if you allow your challenges to be catalysts. I am so proud of my client. This is a woman who decided to stop running and accept her challenges. Yes, she suffered many trials. Now, she is reaping the fruits.   


How my client’s separation is helping her husband to grow? After many financial mess and many excuses, this amazing and strong woman said no more. Her stance to stop carrying her husband’s loads allows her husband to face his own demons. This is a man who is taking responsibility for his actions. His wife and his children are no longer walking on eggshells. His apologies and actions have helped his children and his wife to see the loving father and husband that he can be. I can tell you I see many happy beginnings on the horizon. It won’t be easy, but she is determined to rebuild a marriage that is a place of growth. I am honored to walk in this journey. Like she said, she loves the new woman that is in the mirror. And you can do the same. 


Question: What  action you can take to stimulate growth in one area of your marriage? Area: (i.e. finances, intimacy, communication) Actions: (i.e. extend support, setting boundaries, creating a plan of action together, setting an accountability system, get professional help) 


Resources: “Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
― Charles Dickens

Addiction is one of the worst kind of suffering an individual can face. This blog post is about marital growth, but I know  no one can be in a better shape while in addiction. Use these links to bent to a new you. Al -Anon and AA  



Thank you for reading









Dec 10

In What Season is Your Marriage?

Do you enjoy the warm summer sun or the roasted sun leaves of the fall. Perhaps, you look forward to the beautiful songs of the birds announcing the arrival of spring or you look forward to the fresh crisp winter winds. No matter what season comes or goes your marriage will travel through all the seasons at one point in time. The best way to reap the benefits of all the seasons is to know how to apply them to your marriage.  


In my counseling practice, most couples complain about the frigid winter arguments and the neglect of emotional intimacy of fall. In reality, all the seasons can bring fruits in a marriage. Seasons of marriage can only be negative if a couple chooses to view the marriage in a negative way.   



 Photo Courtesy of Evgeni Dinev under


Let’s start with spring. Spring season in many marriages usually occurs at the beginning stage. This is the first season that every newlywed anticipates for. It is a time to build life together. A time where each spouse is learning each other, a time to become one. However, in many young marriages, spring is interrupted by broken expectations, unwillingness to have win -win solutions and failure to leave and cleave. Instead of working together to become one many newlyweds tear each other down because they fight too hard against becoming one. The best way a couple can maintain a budding spring season is keeping the door of communication wide open. Continue to talk about your hopes and dreams. Never cease to work together.    


In the summer heat, a couple can really have fun if they did not let weeds grow during the spring season. Yes, while spring is full of hope and dreams, full harvest only come when you nurture your marriage. Unresolved arguments, bitterness, and anger that were not resolve during the early years of marriage usually bring many couples to divorce. Instead of bearing fruits, many couples end their marriages.  


Fall can really be an exciting time. However, many couples let their marriage go dormant. In many marriages, fall is the season that the couples know that something is not right. However, they take no action at all. The busyness of life gets in the way. Little by little bit, the marriage tree is left empty. Consequently, the best way to avoid the fallen leaves of fall is get back to each other. At first communication might be hard since avoidance is one of the main reasons for marriages that ended in fall. Push yourself to take the necessary action to make your marriage work.   


 Photo Courtesy of Evgeni Dinev under


The frigid feel of winter can lead many couples to really end up at a lawyer’s office and signing divorce papers. It seems quite understandable in many spouses’ eyes to see a point of no return. After all, couples that are in the negative side of winter usually experience despair, lost of hope, discouragement, frustrations and disappointments. The best way to get out of winter fast is knowing your why. Why do you want this marriage to work? Throughout the seasons you can find yourself blaming your spouse, but when winter comes it is crucial to really look at yourself and see why you want to save your marriage. Instead of allowing yourself to lose hope, learn patience, learn to stand the test of time and affirm trust. Set boundaries and tackle the real issues. The beauty of winter is after every winter there is a spring.    


Whether your marriage is in fall or you are looking at a stormy winter, don’t give up. Every marriage will face all the seasons. The seasons in themselves are not bad, it is the way you approach your marriage that will determine if you stand the test of time. I urge you to stay committed, intentional and purposeful in nurturing your marriage throughout the seasons. 



Question: In what season is your marriage?  


 Take Action: Discuss  with your spouse how you two can maximize this current season to benefit your marriage



Thank you for reading





Dec 08

3 Tips to Resolve Money Issues in Your Relationship

In my work with couples I see that most spouses want to have a great marriage. The issue is they don’t know how to create the great marriage that they desperately desire. One of the main reasons couples are having a hard time in their marriages is due to dancing a dance of fear. Love is not the problem. Most couples love each other deeply, but when they face their core fear,

Money is a very sensitive subject for many couples.  In many failed marriages, both spouses usually report that financial difference as one of the contributors for arguments. Many couples walk down the aisle in love, but they have not discussed and formulated a financial plan for the marriage. Consequently, in many households you see husbands and wives with different beliefs about money, and they spend money differently. Different views about money can only strengthen a marriage when both parties are aware of these views and have one plan. When couples have different beliefs and different plan, the following issues arise:


Trust issues related to money

Boundary issues related to money

Secrets related to money

Lack of budgeting

Lack of saving

Lack of investing



Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles under

The above are just a few issues. Money can ruin a marriage. For couples to have financial unity, the following steps must be implemented

Discuss finances openly – This is extremely beneficial for couples because an open and honest conversation can prevent money disaster down the line. Discuss all debts, family history and beliefs about money. This is a sure way to prevent money secrets and financial infidelity. Are you a saver or a spender? How will you work together in your finances to benefit the marriage? Are money differences a relationship problem or  a money problem? Maybe, you were raised in a family that allowed you to spend money without limit and now you are married to a tightwad. If your spouse does not know your financial history and you have not agree on a financial plan, you will surely have marriage problems.

Create a financial plan together – Create a budget that both of you agree with. Consider the following questions:  Do you know how much money is coming in and how much you are spending? Does every dollar have a name? If you have debt, how much money will be dedicated to debt repayment? Do you have an emergency fund? How much money do you want to put away for retirement? Are you saving for big purchase?

Implement and review financial plan regularly – A financial plan without action is useless. Consequently, implement your budget. Review the budget on a regular basis to ensure that debts are being repaid.  For many marriages, agreement on the budget leads to better communication because the couple is working toward a common goal. The first budget might be frustrating, but if you keep working together, you will create a better financial future for your family.

Don’t let money ruin your marriage.  Not all money issues in marriage lead to divorce, but a sure way to prevent money issues is to be on the same page with your spouse. A tightwad and a spendthrift can have marital harmony only when they are working together on their finances.


Question: What is one thing you can do today to increase financial intimacy in your marriage?


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Dec 05

Are You Dancing the Fear Dance? Read How You Can Stop Today

In my work with couples I see that most spouses want to have a great marriage. The issue is they don’t know how to create the great marriage that they desperately desire. One of the main reasons couples are having a hard time in their marriages is due to dancing a dance of fear. Love is not the problem. Most couples love each other deeply, but when they face their core fear, 1. They make assumptions 2. They put up walls and the fear dance continues.  

Face fear

Before you can really stop dancing the fear dance with your spouse, you have to understand and accept that you have fears and that when you are hurt, you react and It is a vicious cycle that is part of every relational crisis.

  1. I hurt

  2. I want

  3. I fear

  4. I react

  5. You hurt

  6. You want

  7. You fear

  8. You react 

And the whole cycle repeat will be repeated again unless a spouse take a stand to address their core fear and not allow themselves to fall prey to the cycle.  

All of us have some deep core fears, but there are many individuals who live trapped by their fears but have no idea how to explore it and address in the context of marriage or any relationship. 


Photo Courtesy of Celstine Chua under Flickr Creative Commons

To start removing fear in your marriage you have to really know what is you core fear – Is it fear of disconnection? Fear of failure? Fear of being controlled or fear of being taken advantage of? If you know your core fear, instead of reacting you can start discussing your want with your spouse.  

It is so powerful for a wife to communicate that she wants companionship instead of reacting to the fear of loneliness. However, if she does not know what is her fear is and learn to communicate that she wants companionship she will always react when she feels hurt by any actions that she might interpret as abandonment or lack of companionship. Consequently, the cycle will continue since her husband will see reactions as attack instead of a wife seeking a deep intimate relationship. 

In many cases, the fear dance continue causing lasting damages because spouses react by using withdrawal, escalation, temper tantrums, sarcasm and much more. For some couples dancing the dance of fear is a way of life. They want to communicate that they want attention, support, safety, trust, etc. because they are needs. Instead of asking they make demands and the fear button is push again. 

The best way to stop the fear dance is get to know your fear and learn how to communicate with your spouse instead of reacting.



Question:  How have you reacted to your core fear buttons being trigger by your spouse


Take Action – Answer the above question and make time to discuss your response with your spouse.




Thank you for reading

Dec 03

How to Build Emotional Intimacy When it Does Not Come Naturally

Couples after I hear the same complaints  -  “I want us to have more emotional intimacy.” We are not connected.” “I want us to be closer.”

Emotional intimacy does not happened by chance in any marriage. If a couple desires a marriage that has strong emotional intimacy, the spouses will need to work at it. Emotional intimacy can be delivered by using 3 key ingredients:  Showering your spouse with deep love, Show ultimate respect, Give genuine appreciation. It is easier said than done; however, it is not impossible.


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Here are a list of 15 ways to build emotional intimacy that contain all 3 key ingredients

Unconditional Love, Ultimate Respect and Genuine Appreciation.

Note: In order for emotional intimacy to stay vital, it must be consistent. Consequently, read this list and start taking action today and make it a point to use it often.



  1.       Show appreciation by thanking your spouse for something he or she did today.
  2.        Show love by giving your spouse a small gift
  3.      Schedule a time to make love
  4.      Show love by doing a task that your spouse usually do
  5.      Show respect by listening attentively to your spouse although you might disagree with your spouse
  6.       Compliment your spouse on their personality
  7.       Share your goals
  8.       Spend 30 minutes with your spouse talking
  9.       Hold hands while walking
  10.      Share a thought or feeling that have been on your mind lately
  11.          Let the morning kiss be longer than 2 seconds
  12.       The next time you are having a disagreement thank your spouse for sharing a point of view you did not see
  13.      Initiate love making
  14.     Give words of encouragement for specific abilities that your spouse can perform. (i.e. great cook, handy, computer say, etc)
  15.      Pray together  


Although this is a very practical list, I know in some marriages hurt feelings and resentment run so deep that building emotional intimacy might seem impossible. But if you are reading this post, this is exactly what you need in your marriage. Be patient with yourself and be patient with your spouse.  Years of hurt feelings will take time to heal. Emotional intimacy only occur with intentional practice; consequently, make it your goal to build intimacy in your marriage. You can wait and wonder if your spouse will initiate intimacy. However, if you are reading this blog post, it is your turn to take action.  I applaud you for taking the responsibility to build intimacy in your marriage. Get the  support you need and start today.


Question:  How will you initiate emotional intimacy today?


Take Action – Pick one of the activity and put it in action today




Thank you for reading




Dec 01

Lessons from The DNA of Relationships


Read to Feed Your Marriage allows you to read a great marriage book by a world renowned marriage expert and you get a licensed counselor to give you weekly tips and challenges to transform your marriage from average to amazing. Join us from September 29th to December 1st as we read the DNA of Relationships by Dr. Gary Smalley



Chapter 10  – You Can Make a Difference


What Will Your Eulogy Say About Your Relationships?

Reading the DNA of Relationships has been a convicting experience for me.  I have gone through hard times in my marriages and I have witnessed many close ones  suffered failed marriages and relationships. One key ingredient that helped me and so many other couples I see succeed in their relationships is resiliency. The DNA of Relationships did not focus on a magic pill. Dr. Smalley made a plea to every reader to fight for healthy relationship. Knowing  to fight together instead of against each other. The one question that keep popping in my mind after I read the book is – What will my eulogy say about my relationships?

I call on you  to answer the same question. What will your eulogy say about your relationships? Did you get the easy way out by getting a divorce or by staying in an unhealthy marriage? Did you stay paralyzed in a failed marriage? Staying in a failed marriage  and choosing not to act for a healthy self and a healthy relationship is as detrimental as a divorce.


Photo Courtesy of Scottchan under

One sad statistic in the Christian community is that Christian couples have  the same rate of divorce as non believers. I don’t believe Christians couples cease to love their spouse after one argument. I do believe many Christian couples are willing to throw in the towel when times get tough. One of the most profound lessons I got from  this book is I can make a difference in my marriage even if my spouse is not on board to have an excellent marriage. I can set boundaries. I can choose  not to react to my buttons. I can choose to not participate in dysfunction. I can choose to decline an invitation to argument.


Photo Courtesy of Laserguided under Flickr Creative Commons

Take action. At the end of the hour, on our death beds, we don’t focus on money, fame, etc. We ask one question – Did we really live out the life we were placed on earth to live? At this moment, is your marriage reflecting the life you were placed on earth to live? Are you staying silent watching your marriage or your friends’ marriages deteriorate? Marriage  is in a crisis and you can make a difference by taking a stand. Take a stand in your marriage and encourage and support your friends to do the same in their relationships.

There is no perfect marriages. Even as a marriage counselor, I face hard times in my marriage. However, I can  wake up each day and focus on having an excellent marriage. The definition of excellence is keep aiming to do my best and that is not perfection. Arguments will occur. It is your choice and my choice to turn those arguments into building intimacy moments rather than the beginning of the end. I am working daily for my eulogy to reflect a happy, healthy and fulfilling relationship. Sometime, I fail, nut I get back up. I hope you will do the same.


Challenge of the Week – You Can Make A Difference.

If your marriage is hurting, you are in the right place. If your marriage just faced a bump, you are in the right place. If you have been through a failed marriage or failed marriages, you are in the right place.

This week make a commitment to make a difference in your relationships. Get the FREE resource  (DNA of Relationships study guide) and dig deeper into knowing your core fear, communicate clearly and make time for self-care to be your best in your relationships.


Thank you for reading

Nov 27

Happy Thanksgiving Day 2014


Make today a day to celebrate with your love ones. Tell them you love them. Show them you love. Make a point to say thank you. A little gratitude goes a long way.


Photo Courtesy of Lamnee under

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson


Questions: At times, our hectic schedules can make us take love ones for granted. Who are you grateful for? What are you grateful for?  How do you plan to share your gratitude today?

Thank you for reading

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