Jan 28

How is Your Forgiveness Meter?

Seating here writing this blog post, I can almost go back to the session. I was sitting with a couple struggling to trust each other again. In my eyes, it was not about who is right and who is wrong. However, the hurt feelings had run so deep that the husband could not bear to hear himself say “I’m sorry, please forgive me”. The wife was not ready to really trust him again. My goal as a marriage counselor at that moment was not to force the husband to apologize nor to force the wife to say I forgive you.

Irina Patrascu -FlickrPhoto Courtesy of Irina Patrascu under Flickr Creative Commons

At that moment, the focus was on healing the marriage and both spouses. Healing for both spouses and the marriage only came when they allowed forgiveness to serve its purpose.

Are you letting the power of forgiveness to heal your marriage? Really, let this question sink in your heart. You can hold to bitterness and resentment to protect your heart or you can hold to your pride by not asking for forgiveness. You can’t move forward without being vulnerable.

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Forgiveness requires vulnerability from both spouses. It requires for the spouse who is seeking forgiveness to really open and see how his or her actions has affected the marriage. The spouse who is accepting the forgiveness has to let down their guard and trust again. When these two actions do not take place, you are really sabotaging your marriage.

Don’t sacrifice your marriage at the cost of your pride or your resentment. Refusing to admit you are wrong will keep you enslaved because in the back of your mind you might fear that your apology will not be accepted and your attempt to reconcile with your spouse will fall flat. Holding a grudge will keep you enslaved because you are carrying a load that keeps your marriage from growing. Perhaps, you are facing both sides of forgiveness. Let it go. Allow the power of forgiveness to heal your marriage.

Questions: Do you find it difficult to say “I’m sorry, will you please forgive me”? Do you find it difficult to accept your spouse’s apology? How would forgiveness transform your marriage?

 

Thank you for reading

 

Jan 26

Do You Have the Faith Your Marriage Need?

I believe that any struggling marriage can be healed if both parties willing to really put their faith and work in saving the marriage. Many couples face the situation of having one spouse willing to work on the marriage and the other spouse ready to move forward with the divorce. Is faith enough to start the recovery process in a failing marriage? I came across this quote and without  faith that your marriage can be better or get better the work is in vain. Do you have the faith your marriage needs to thrive?

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Photo Courtesy of BK under Flickr Creative Commons

Questions: How hove your faith transform your marriage?

Thank you for reading

Jan 19

5 Ways Couples Can Establish Intimacy in a Second Marriage

In a  second marriage, there are several dynamics in place at once. In a first marriage, a couple might struggle to make a decision about their summer vacation on the beach or in the mountain. However, in second marriages,  the biological parents have a strong ties to their children. Although they are madly in love with their spouse, they are placed in the middle. The big struggle is do I honor my spouse or do I tend to my children.

Here are 5 ways a new couple can establish intimacy in a second marriage.

1. Build new rituals – In first marriage, a couple is building a new relationship from the ground and the spouses will establish the foundation. In a second marriage, a spouse or both spouses will bring preconceived notion. It is very crucial for couple in second marriage with or without children to build new rituals as a family. Instead of  being afraid to initiate new rituals. Sit together as a family not just as a couple and plan activities. Yes, as a couple need to establish intimacy. However,without a strong family structure, the marriage will fail.

2. Nurture the old wounds - It is extremely for the spouses to acknowledge that the lost of the old family structure. In second marriage, children struggle with the loss of stability of the first family and balancing the acceptance of new family. To ignore the elephant in the room is to intentionally plan for failure. Explore the old wounds and nurture them. Let the marriage be a place healing and rebuilding of love and trust.

3. Establish new rules - When a second marriage occurs most likely the non-biological parent will be involved in some parental roles. It is crucial that both spouses let the children knows that  the non-biological parent will be respected. The children are not expected to call the wife mother or the husband father, but respect  for the other spouse must be expected and implemented.

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Photo Courtesy of BK under Flickr Creative Commons

4.Respect the other household - It can be very tempting to bad mouth the  former spouse. However, this is one of the most destructive moves a spouse can make. It hurts the children. It hurts your own relationship because you are stuck in the past. If you cannot say anything encouraging, it is better to remain silent. Respect the other household and set appropriate and healthy boundaries. You will have being played by the children and that is no matter what ages they are.

5. Speak with love – Address issues with love and respect. If your spouse or the children mention something that hurt your feelings, bring it to their attention. Stuffing issues in any stage of your marriage will build resentment. Accusing  or attacking your spouse or the children will cause scars. The best way to address any issues is to speak openly but with love.

 

A second marriage can succeed. A second marriage has the potential to be a healthy foundation for a small civilization, but it requires work. Don’t let your marriage be exposed to the myth that love is enough. Use the five tips above to establish intimacy.

 

Questions: How do you establish healthy rituals in your marriage?

Thank you for reading

Jan 14

How is Your Patience Meter?

There  is a sure way to test your patience meter – by assessing your interactions with your spouse and your child. I have had the chance to look at my patience meter and the look was not pretty. I know that being patience with my husband is one of the best thing that I can do  for our marriage. Just like many spouses, there are times that I mess up. This is one of those times where you know what you suppose to do and yet you had to learn or re-learn the l lesson by doing the wrong thing.

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Photo Courtesy of Thrifty Look under Flickr Creative Commons

I felt that I was being patient, but my tone and my facial expressions were definitely not communicating patience. The key issue was in my attitude. My thoughts were not focused on making a request. Looking back, I was already upset. Instead of making a respectable request, I started the conversation with a complaint. All of us have been there at one time or another. We complain because we want a new behavior or we want something change. What end up happening is the complaint is received as a loud obnoxious noise. As a result, we don’t even get what we wanted in the first place.

 

I learned from my patience meter I really was not exhibiting patience when I made a request of my husband. Let me save from having a couple of senseless arguments. Check your patience meter when you are addressing your spouse with these 3 tips:

Pay attention to your thoughts – Are you making a request or are you complaining or attacking your spouse?

Watch your nonverbal body language – Your tone, facial expressions and your overall body movements. Are they communication disapproval, discontentment or the request.

Wait  patiently – Give your spouse a chance to address the request. Another bad habit of many spouses is to bring the same request without letting a chance for the request to be fulfilled. Waiting patiently means waiting without complaining, and grumbling. Grumbling might get your request fulfilled temporarily, but it leaves an  invisible scar. Besides, you want your spouse to hear your request and address from a loving  heart not from manipulation or fear.

Patience is a real virtue. It is not only a sign of love and respect for your spouse, but it is one area that build character. When you find yourself complaining or getting mad, check your patience meter. After all, you might make an attitude adjustment that will prevent an argument.

 

Question: How do you check your patience meter during heated situations?

 

Thank you for reading

Jan 12

Not Your Brady Bunch Myth

If you grew up watching the Brady Bunch, you thought that every blended family just merge into a happy family without facing any difficult issues. After all, Carol was a great mother and she even mentioned to Mike that she has no stepchildren just children. Unlike the Brady Bunch, many blended families suffer to create a family identity. How can you be a family when there is grief, parenting issues, boundary with ex-spouses, balancing a new marriage etc.

Many couples head down the aisle a second time clueless of the complexity of a second or even a third marriage. Yes, these spouses love each other deeply. However, after the honeymoon is over many hidden obstacles will surface if they  were not address openly.

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Photo Courtesy of Cliff under Flickr Creative Commons

For instance, parenting a child as a couple in a first marriage is hard work. It requires unity and being consistent. How would a stepmother parents her stepson if parenting has never been discussed? How will step mom parenting affects the stepson’s sense of loyalty to his own mother. Do both households enforce the same rules?

This is just a peak into the complex world of second marriages and blended families. Finances, education, health care choices and decisions, values,  past routines, new routines and beliefs are some of the subjects that can tear or connect a second marriages.

Yes, the Brady Bunch did a wonderful job in showing America that blended families are growing. However, in order to have true unity, spouses in second marriages have to dig deeper. They have to let go of old assumptions of family structure. They must focus on planning, designing and building a family structure that meet their particular needs. Losses and transitions must be discussed. The new couple and the children must learn how to address issues using effective interpersonal skills.

The only way a second marriage can really establish oneness and a strong family unit is to let go of the Brady Bunch Myth. One of the best way to do is by reading and applying the concept from Remarriage Blueprint. Listed below is the reading schedule for the series.This is not your Brady Bunch myth. This is your chance to plan, design and create your family unit.

Reading Schedule for Remarriage Blueprint

January 12 – Prologue

January 19 – Chapter 1

February 2 –  Chapter 2

February 9 – Chapter 3

February  16 – Chapter 4

February  23 – Chapter 5

March 2 – Chapter 6

March 9 – Chapter 7

 March 16 –  Chapter 8  

March 23 –  Chapter 9

March 30 – Resources from Second Marriages Success

Questions: How do you promote unity in your marriage when there is different sets of values and beliefs?

Thank you for reading

Jan 07

3 Ways Knowing Yourself Can Help Your Marriage

Can we really be the best spouse we can be if we don’t know ourselves? I truly believe that any man or woman who wants to get married or is married must dedicate continual time to really have some self-examination. I am not talking about spending years on a psychoanalyst couch. I am talking about a continual growth in finding who you really are. One of the best ways I have learned to grow as a wife is looking at myself. Many of my clients have made the same observation in their own relationships. Looking in the mirror might seem intimidating especially if we have past hurts, and fears we are trying to avoid. Well, to let fears or past wounds control our lives and our relationships is waiting for our ship to sink by an iceberg.

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So, Here are 3 Ways Knowing Yourself Can Help Your Marriage

Knowing your past -Two individual walking down the aisle and they promised to love each other. However, both individuals have had different upbringing, and had different experiences. In order to really become one, both spouses have to acknowledge their past and learn to move forward. Perhaps, your parents divorced, but your past do not have to control your present and scar your marriage for life. There is hope and victory  in making peace with our past so they do not hold our future hostage. Take time to evaluate how you past have affected your current relationship.

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Photo Courtesy of Jimileek under Flickr Creative Commons

Knowing your wants and needs - I have work with many couples that stopped having trivial arguments due to simply knowing how to make requests of each other. The beauty in making request is that you have to know what you want and need and knowing what you want and need involve communicating the wants and the needs effectively. How can you expect your spouse to meet your needs if you don’t even know what you want? Write down your needs and wants. How can you communicate them effectively to your spouse?

Knowing your fears  – We all have some core fears. However, by knowing them and learning to look at them we can address our fears. There is nothing more detrimental to a relationship when you react to your spouse out of your fears. The defensiveness, the anger, the sarcasm are some tactics that can come out because your fears are control you. You cannot address your fears if you don’t know what they are. You cannot communicate your core fears to your spouse if you don’t know what they are. Your fears will not be scary if they are confronted. The only way you are going to confront your fears is to face them

You can point the finger all you want at your spouse, but you cannot neglect that getting to know yourself and taking an intentional role in applying what you have learned about yourself is the only way you can have a healthy marriage.  The above ways are just scratching the surface. There is a whole iceberg that lies beneath. Your goals, your dreams, what make you sad, what make you feel alive, etc. I encourage you take a look at yourself. Get to know God’s amazing creation in the mirror.

Questions: How do you plan to get to know yourself in 2015?

Take action – Start journaling, read books on knowing yourself,  and meditate.

Thank you for reading

Jan 05

Winning in Your Marriage After a Divorce

I cannot even begin to imagine the pain a divorce  can bring. Whether the marriage was painful  and the divorce was the last resort, the loss of dreams, the heartache of starting over, picking up fallen pieces, there is no painless way to end a marriage. So, I truly admire couples who  work to heal themselves and try to give marriage a second chance. However, many of remarried couples find themselves in the same predicament. The statistics for second marriage can be so scary. That is of the reasons some divorcees don’t even bother to get remarried. For the brave ones that decide to walk down the aisle a second time, a new plan of action need to be implemented in order to avoid divorce.

 

How do couples win at love when they are bringing baggage from failed marriages to a new union? They need a plan. A plan that addresses  past issues  like letting go of resentment, feeling of guilt, trust issues and much more. A plan that focus on building a new union with solid foundation A plan that addresses managing step family issues. With 39% of remarriages end in divorce within 10 years, couples need to be intentional to create a second marriage that is healthy.

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 Photo Courtesy of Surachai under freedigital[photos.net


I sit with couples that are on the brink of divorce a second time. The way I help them to restore their marriages is to really work hard  at the marriage and themselves individually. I searched for along time to find a tool that would help me to teach couples that if they really work on themselves and work on the marriage they would win. And this time around they would not have to face a divorce and bear the shame attributed with a second divorce. My secret weapon has been the Remarriage Blueprint.

The Remarriage Blueprint is really a great tool for couples to ascertain they are winning in their marriage a second time around. For this reason, I invite you to join me from January 12- March 23 as I unpack the principles of healthy marriages. Whether this is your first marriage, or  you are in the midst of second marriage, The Remarriage Blueprint can help you win in love and set a foundation for a healthy and happy marriage.

 

Question: What do you think help married couples to succeed at a second marriage?

 

Thank you for reading

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 31

5 Baggage I Decide to Leave in 2014 to Have a Great 2015

Today is the last day of 2014. This year went by flying. I’m excited to start 2015. Many individuals have the sentiment. Starting a new year is like starting a new chapter. Fresh start, new goals, great visions and the whole nine yards. But, don’t make the same BIG mistakes I made years after years. You probably asking what is it. Well, I would write my goals down. I would be all pumped up ready to implement my plan of action. Then, I would notice by March I’m behind in my goals or I have not really have hit strong start at all. The BIG mistake I was making – self-sabotaging my success by taking some old  and destructive habits to the new year.

Taking old habits to the new year can seem like a small wall, but in reality it is extremely detrimental. For me, it took several years of being stuck to finally see I was hitting a wall. Now  I look at each year to eliminate unnecessary baggage. This practice has been beneficial in helping me  to cut several behaviors each year.

Goals are great, especially if you set SMART goals. However if you have walls that are blocking your goals, you will spend the whole year feeling frustrated. This year I wrote my goals down,I reviewed them, but I also look at the baggage that stopped me  from reaching some of  my goals in 2014. I discovered 5 baggage that were not  only affected my goals, but they affected all areas of my life. 

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Photo Courtesy of Ping Phuket under freedigitalphotos.net

So, Here are 5 Baggage I Decide to Leave in 2014 to Have a Great 2015.

Saying  Yes Too Many Time – 2014 was a great year,  several wonderful projects landed on my lap However, I experienced many lifestyle changes and challenges. Consequently, I realize I took on too many projects. You can guess it. Many project did not reach fruition because I had too many on my plate. I am saying yes to things that will not lead to self sabotage.

Not Getting Enough Rest – Being a wife,  a mother  and marriage counselor, I can look like a professional juggler. In reality, I cannot excel at my roles in  the above areas without getting the appropriate rest. Honestly, I am not looking for perfection because perfection doesn’t exist. But, I truly believe I can be excellent in my role as a wife, mother and counselor when I have enough rest. I am leaving my so not restful days in 2014.

Not Prioritizing the Day in Advance – This is a baggage I am decided to part ways complete in 2014. It kept  coming back many years. I must admit I have gotten better over the years, but I am tired of it creeping back. I owe my success in cutting the major bulk of this baggage Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (This is a book I plan to re read in 2015). I plan my day, but I usual fall back in my destructive habit of  making to do list.To do list can be  so daunting. If you have a long to do list, it can scream intimidation.  I will work to address what is significant instead of making to do list.

Pushing Ahead When I Should Take a Break – I am guilty of being the individual who will try to stay up until wee hours of the morning to accomplish one more task. The problem with this baggage, two hours later I am still awake. Guess what I am tired and dragging the next day. Yes, I will keep my bedtime.

Not Taking My Me Day – I used to think this was selfish, but 2012 was the first time I initiated the “Me Day” It is one of the best decisions I made.  A “Me Day” is a day where I take a few hours to reflect on the week and relax. I usually journal, or read something positive. This practice has been such a battery recharge for me. The only issue is I need to keep it on the calendar. I have discover from time to time I slip up and not use it the way I need to. My Me Days are on the calendar for 2015 and I have a visual reminders this year.

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Photo Courtesy of Khunaspix under freedigitalphotos.net

Whether you are aware of it or not. There are certain things in life that should be terminated. It is hard, because it can be so familiar. After all, some of those baggage become our normal routine.  By giving them a departure ticket, we are opening the doors to so many wonderful possibilities.And just like me, you might have to keep looking at each year before you see what you need to leave behind.

Don’t make the same mistake I made for years. It is easy to take old habits for the ride, but it doesn’t take us far. In fact, our old habits impede us to reach our greatest potential. If you are going to have a great 2015, there are some baggage you will need to leave in 2014.  I already see success in my goals and in all areas of my life  due to leaving the above baggage in 2014.  I will be able to spend more energetic time with my family – this is just one major benefit. Imagine the great things that you can accomplish by leaving your baggage. There is no sense in working on new goals and doing the same destructive behaviors; it is counterproductive.Take action today and  leave the baggage that are wearing you and your  marriage down. Have a Wonderful 2015.  Happy New Year.

 

Questions: What are some behaviors or  baggage that you will leave in 2014 to have a great 2015?

Take Action – Write  your baggage somewhere visible as reminder. Get a trusted accountability partner to keep you accountable.

 

Thank you for reading

Dec 29

What is The Best Gift You Gained This Year?

Christmas 2014 came and now it is gone. Did you receive the gifts you wanted? Today, I was asked a great question. It’s not even the wording of the question that really touched me, but it is how the question touched my heart for my marriage and many areas of my life that really got to me. I was asked what is the best gift I gained this year? I have been blessed with generous friends and family members. However, as I answered this question, none of the material things even crossed my mind.There are so many things that I took for granted and actually I did not even consider them as gifts. I just assumed they were part of the marriage package. And, because of my assumptions I did not thank my husband enough for these gifts.

For starter, I am blessed to be married to a man who is committed to Christ and to our marriage. As a marriage counselor, I sit with many couples who have given up on marriage, but the gift of commitment is so rare these days and I am so thankful I have it in my marriage. Many couples give up so easily on each other and they don’t even consider Christ as the center for their marriage. That is a gift I really cannot take for granted.

The gift of grace have been so refreshing this year. When I have messed up(I did  a lot), yes I knew my husband would be upset, but part of me know that I would be forgiven and that I would not have to be in the doghouse forever. This gift has helped me to deliver my best. I don’t want to abuse his grace.

The gift of support really touched me deeply this year. I lost my sister and grieving is still hard. However, I had and still have my husband full support emotionally, financially and spiritually. When I needed to take a break and recharge I could. So, I am extremely grateful for his support. 

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Photo Courtesy of Jennifer C. under Flickr Creative Commons

The gift of love might seem cliche, but when I really think about it my husband really pour his love out to me. I can be moody, and withdrawn at time but I never doubted that I am love. Through his actions and really with his words, I have been reminded times after times of his love for me. I can truly say that I really don’t need any reminder, but it is nice to have that option.

The gift of growth. I must admit I  am not usually cheerful to receive this gift. However, today I was overwhelmed with gratitude when I went down memory lane. The gift of growth have come mostly from disagreements, but all of those disagreements have ended on  positive note. Learning to reconcile, problem solving, conflict resolution, perseverance, forgiveness, teamwork are just some of the growth we experienced this year. I have learned to take a closer look at my character. I can tell you looking in the mirror can be painful, and it has at times but it is so amazing. Would I have raised my hands and said bring the arguments. NO. But, I am beyond grateful that they occurred. I am a better wife  and a better individual because of those arguments. 

I was asked the question and I was not looking to be emotional, but it moved me to the core. The above are just a few gifts from countless of gifts I received from my husband. I have not tell you about his dedication as father, his sense of humor as a friend and his romantic ways as a lover, but I will make sure to thank him for his gifts. At the end of each year, I usually spend time doing a lot of reflection. Right now, my reflections are really helping me to see how I am blessed with a great marriage. Perhaps, you have had a hard year in 2014, I urge you to really try to focus on the gifts. This is not a call to ignore the hard times and the areas you need to address in your marriage. This is a call to give gratitude and in turn be aware of the gifts you have in your spouse and in your marriage. And go extend these gifts to your spouse. I know I will be striving to give these gifts to my spouse throughout the year 2015.

 

Questions: What is the best gift you gained this year?

Take Action – Go thank the person who gave you that gift.

 

Thank you for reading

Dec 26

4 Things You Should Consider Before You Pick the Next Marriage Book

Marriage will always remain an uncharted territory. It is truly a lifetime journey not a destination. The best way a couple can even get close to comprehend the bond of marriage is by dedicating intentional time to make it grow. However, many couples just take a back seat and allow their marriage to just happen.

You can propel your marriage to grow by going to marriage enrichment seminars, getting on a regular basis with a mature couple or even getting with a therapist. However, the quickest and the most economical way to push your marriage toward growth is by reading. I remember I challenge a struggling couple to read a marriage book and both spouses mentioned they did not have time.

With the current technology, reading is one of the easiest ways to really invest in your marriage. If you are pondering, where you should start, don’t worry. Local libraries, blogs, experts’ manual, you really have an endless buffet list for your marriage. The only thing you need to do, is get started. Reading for your marriage will take you and your spouse to another level of intimacy.

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Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici under freedigitalphotos.net

Here are 4 things you should consider before you pick the next marriage book.

Don’t make it complicated – I encourage you to focus on one area of your marriage you want to grow in and jump in. If it is communication, sexual intimacy, emotional intimacy, trust, etc. Pick an area and commit to read daily. You might say you don’t have time. The children keep you busy. However, technology has made books so readily available. You cannot use time as an excuse. It can be an audio book for a long commute. Or a physical book or a book on an electronic device. Reading daily is not just to check your marriage reading off a list, but it is about you deciding to change your mind set about your marriage. By choosing a topic, you also are not wandering aimlessly.

Take notes – I cannot stressed enough how reading and taking notes on marriage books have helped shape my marriage from average to awesome. I have been able to be challenged and be encouraged. Encouraging sentences have jumped from the pages of the marriage books straight to my journal and to my heart. When you write down how you could change your communication with your husband, you are more likely to implement those tips. The note taking is not just for the moment, it is a record you can keep to challenge yourself and measure your progress.

 

Look to the experts and fellow married couples – I use to read books written by marriage experts. I started reading marriage books from struggling couples that had battled for their marriages and won. Those stories spoke volume to me. While the experts gave me techniques I could implement, married couples all over the world gave me hope, faith and push me to really stay on my marriage journey with a smile and gratitude. If you don’t know where to start, start by typing marriage blogs on Google. You will be amazed at the wealth of marriage treasures that are out there. Pick one you feel that speak to you and your marriage and start.

Read to feed your role and your marriage – One of my female clients asked me if I could recommend a book to help her husband. I truly empathize with her frustration. However, I had to be gut honest with her. My client discovered for herself that she cannot force her husband to read nor read to shame her husband into changing. Consequently, if you are planning to read to change your spouse, your are missing the whole point of marriage growth. Approach each book with the mindset that you are reading to make your marriage better. After all, you can only change one person and that is you. You will get too frustrated if you are reading marriage books to condemn your spouse. Yes, the ideal situation would be to have you and your spouse reading and a discussing the last marriage you read. However, if your marriage journey has not reached that point yet, don’t get discouraged. You make it your mission to be the best wife or husband you can be by reading materials that will feed your marriage.

Before you pick your next marriage book, really dream how you will transform your marriage after you have completed that book. Don’t put ity off for next week. Next week will turn to next month then next year. Pick a marriage book and start today. Reading can really change your marriage journey from boredom to excited and from average to awesome. Start today.

 

Questions: What is your favorite marriage book of all times? What did you learns from that book?

 

Thank you for reading

 

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