Sep 17

Are You Treating Your Spouse Like a Child?

There is nothing more destructive to a marriage than a spouse trying to be a parent in a marriage. I have seen married couples play the parental cards on each other too many times. In my work with couples, I strongly encouraged couples who fall in this destructive pattern to set healthy boundaries that foster spousal relationship instead of authoritarian parental relationship.

In marriage where a spouse is a parent you hear the following statements

“I had to cancel her debit and credit cards because she spent all the money.”

“You cannot do this”

“I keep telling him I am not his mother he should clean after himself.”

“Don’t wear this outfit.”

“I tell him he needs to stop hanging with his buddies all the time.”

“I have to ask him permission before I go out.”

“Pick up your clothes off the floor.”

In all the above examples, you find spouses who have decided to be a parent instead of a wife or a husband. When we reflect in our childhood we can find one or two instances where we do not want to emulate our parents. Why then, two adults would agree to live in a parental relationship? The answer lies in the core of the marriage. It can be immaturity, loss of hope in having a healthy marriage, loss of respect for the spouse, loss of respect for the marriage, and an abusive marriage.


For two adults to have a healthy marriage, both adults need to function as adult. Stop being a parent to your spouse. Parenting your spouse will lead to frustration and resentment. It is time for you to take responsibility for yourself and let your spouse take responsibility for his or her behaviors. You are responsible to your spouse not for your spouse.

I have heard countless arguments – “If I don’t pick up his clothes off the floor and wash them, he won’t have clothes for work.” Perhaps, this is time to let your spouse be the adult and feel the consequences of his or her actions. Whether you have been married for 10 months or 10 years, the only way to get rid of spousal-parental relationship is setting healthy boundaries.

Setting boundaries take time. Keep in mind you will need to verbalize your boundaries clearly. Secondly, you will need to take actions that are aligned with your boundaries. Lastly, get lots and lots of support. Although boundaries are a great tool to repair and enrich your marriage, your spouse might resist at first. Don’t give up. Fight for a healthy marriage and be a spouse.

Question: How have setting boundaries helped your marriage?

Thank you for reading


The Simple Scoop on Boundaries

Sep 15

Do You Want To Avoid the Assumption Trap in Your Marriage? Try These 4 Tips

Have you ever expected your spouse to complete a task and it wasn’t completed. Well, that happened to me this week. I realized my mistake was making assumptions without discussing any expectations with my husband. This is a common mistake in marriage. Assumptions left unchecked lead to barriers in communication and eventually a deterioration in the marriage. I was able to catch myself before I communicated my assumptions with my husband. However, for many couples this is not the case; false assumptions about motives, house chores, finances, roles eventually lead to resentment.


Over the years, I have trained myself to really catch my false assumptions. Sometime I do succeed and sometime I just have to ask for forgiveness and keep working to have a great marriage. Here are 4 tips that have helped me in catching myself making those unhealthy assumptions:

Discussing expectations – Your spouse cannot read your mind. Having a conversation about an issue can really save you from having unnecessary conflicts. Discussing expectations allows you and your spouse to come up with a workable plan. Whether it is budgeting, completing house chores, knowing your expected role in the marriage, addressing emotions, discussing expectations will lead to marriage success. Discussing my expectations with my spouse helped to clarify plans and have even helped us established routines that have simplified our lives.

Joelle Inge-Messerschmidt - FlickrPhoto Courtesy of Joelle Inge-Messerschmidt under Flickr Creative Commons

Are your assumptions realistic and true? The false assumption road is really one road I advise every couple I counsel to avoid. Making false assumptions about your spouse is creating a recipe for failure. It has a snowball effect. If not careful, a couple can really get in a vicious conflict cycle. You make a false and unrealistic assumption, your spouse gets upset, and communication gets blocked. You see where this going. Before you even address your spouse, ask yourself if your assumptions are true and realistic. Each time I question myself about the validity of my assumption, it leads me to create a conversation that was much needed.

Don’t assume – Usually when I assume, I am judging my spouse. Your spouse is not on trial. Take the gavel away from your mind. Assumptions you make in your head are just as detrimental as the false assumptions you communicate to your spouse. Unspoken assumptions lead to anger. Eventually you are sitting and boiling and one little disagreement could lead to a big blow out. The best way to prevent those big blowouts is to stop entertaining those false assumptions that are brewing in your head.

If you must assume, assume and expect the best – The vicious conflict cycle that can from making assumptions can really lead to an unhealthy image of your spouse. If you are thinking the worse of your spouse, you really have stopped being one with your spouse. You will be on the defensive and eventually will retaliate out of anger or by shutting down. Start expecting the best. If you must assume, assume your spouse had the best in mind.

Questions: What are your expectations for your spouse? Do you expect the best?

Thank you for reading.

Sep 12

Who Will Make The First Move?

A few years back, I was working with a couple that faced a crossroad in their marriage. Both wife and husband saw a need for change, but both spouses made conditional requests before they were willing to give the marriage a chance. Trust in a marriage grows with action and time. Love and respect on the other hand require immediate delivery.

Is it fair for your spouse to ask you to earn love or respect?

Why then are your actions saying to your spouse

Earn my Love?

Earn my Respect?

When a husband asks his wife to earn his love instead of just give love, he thwarts any chance of breaking the crazy cycle. Think about it. A wife who is trying to earn her husband love is on a slippery slope. If she succeeds, she feels that she has to be on her tipsy toe not to rock the boat. At any chance, she might lose his love.

When a wife asks her husband to earn his love instead of just giving it freely, she destroys any chance of building her man. This husband will always wonder – “Am I doing enough for me to be worthy in her eyes? No matter what he does, there will be a speck of doubt lurking in his mind, if I slip up will I lose her respect?

4522083_207cad278f_oPhoto Courtesy of Richie Graham under Flickr Creative Commons

Both of the above scenarios take place daily in marriages. Spouses waiting on the side line and asking - Who Will Make the Fist Move? If you are reading this post, it is your turn to make the move. Don’t require your wife to earn your love. Don’t require your husband to earn your respect. A wife’s desire to be love and cherished come with the role. You give her  love because she is your wife. A husband’s desire to be respected comes with the role. You give respect because he is your husband.

Learning to stop the crazy cycle requires giving love and respect to your spouse because he or she is your spouse.

Demanding your spouse to earn your love or your respect, only lead to resentment, a broken spirit and eventually a failed marriage, this week ask yourself

Question:  How do you deliver unconditional love or respect to your spouse?

Take Action : List 3 things you can do that will lead you to give unconditional love or unconditional respect to your spouse.

Thank you for reading

Sep 10

Are You Letting The Power of Forgiveness to Heal Your Marriage?

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. 


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 form 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


Sep 08

Lessons from Love & Respect


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 June 2nd to September 8th as we read Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.


Chapter 24 – The Truth Can Make You Free, Indeed

What Is Your Ultimate Goal?

Marriage requires a sacrifice that is deeper than any other relationships. Children are blessings that come and overflow our lives with joy, but they are destined to leave the nest. The marital relationship challenges us to live like Christ. Love unconditionally. Lay down our lives. Marriage can be a joyful relationship, but it really requires for spouses to look beyond hurts feelings.It requires endurance.


Are you really keeping your eyes on the ultimate goal? Fighting to give your wife love when you don’t feel like it. Saying no to the countless invitation  to get on the crazy cycle with your husband. Giving love and respect unconditionally goes beyond your spouse – it is a command to obey, honor and please God. A client once told me that he knew that he was not loving his wife unconditionally because he wanted his wife to reciprocate his actions before he gave himself fully. I validated his feelings, but at the end of the day his decision to love his wife is his responsibility. I challenged him to take responsibility for his own actions toward his wife. The fact that he chose to not love his wife unconditionally he was not at all in. Your choice to love or to respect your spouse unconditionally is  your responsibility. It is a hard concept to swallow but it is true. You can choose to retaliate by not giving love or respect. You can choose to focus on your spouse’s role and play the blame game. Those games only lead you to act as a victim or a child. In fact when you play those destructive games, your actions are saying to your spouse, I will be a wife or a husband if you choose to be a wife or a husband to me. When you depend on your spouse’s actions to love the way you are called to love or respect by Christ, you become a victim hopeless and helpless. However, if you choose to love and respect unconditionally, you are free. You are not move up and down like a yo-yo, Your actions are yours and only yours.


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How do you give unconditional love and respect when you are not receiving it? You endure through prayers. You get marital  professional help if needed. You don’t allow your spouse to drag you in the crazy cycle. You  don’t take the blame or accept the rage that he tries to put on you. You focus your eyes on the ultimate goal. You are called to love and respect unconditionally, make that your focus. Your only goal. Consequently, the time when you feel that your spouse is being so unloving toward you and you want to scream. You will have to make the decision to walk away and pray. You don’t have to stay in a room and be berated by an unloving husband and then respond disrespectfully. You can choose to leave and speak only when you can respond with respect. Leave the room to guard freedom. Don’t get on the crazy cycle. You are free to love and respect. You are free to not be moved like a yo-yo. You were called to love and respect not for your spouse’s sake, but for your own salvation.

What is your ultimate goal?

What do you intend to do about it?


Challenge of the WeekBuild a marriage that lasts. You have been doing the love or respect stuff, but you are not seeing any progress. Part of you just want to give up.

I want you to know I am fighting for for you too. You are in my prayers. Don’t give up. What is your ultimate goal. No one said this unconditional love or respect thing was going to be easy. If you want a marriage that pleases the Lord and that bring you joy, it is your time to fight for it.

Last week you dream big for your marriage, this week I invite you to look at your thoughts and your actions to see if you are fighting for the ultimate goal. Deep down in your core, are you fighting for your marriage?

Thank you for reading

Sep 05

Do You Understand Your Spouse’s Definition of Intimacy?

I participated at a great marriage workshop this past Tuesday. The hot topic of the day was intimacy. Intimacy has been associated and sometime defined as sex. However, sex is not intimacy. I sat in the third row taking notes and listening to many spouses that were just completely on different planets when it came to intimacy in their marriage. Frustration and deeply hurt feelings were shared due to different views on intimacy. Listening to vulnerable hearts that were opened by wives and husbands, I felt immensely hopeful for many couples.


At the end of the workshop, I got a chance to talk one on one with many wives and husbands. I could clearly see that both spouses really want to have deep level of intimacy. In one of the conversation, the husband stated, “I don’t just want sex; I want connection.” I felt so proud of his honesty and vulnerability. That moment of gut level honesty open new doors in his marriage and gave his wife so much insight. Although this couple will need to have several conversation about intimacy, they started to grasp each other’s definition of intimacy. In that simple conversation, intimacy was move from just sex to connection in her eyes. Years of hurt feelings started healing. This success can happen in your marriage too.

So if you are planning to start an intimacy discussion with your spouse consider the following:

Mark Falardeau FlickrPhoto Courtesy of Mark Falardeau under Flickr Creative Commons

Intimacy does not start after work

Intimacy takes time and it is ongoing

Intimacy is connection according to both spouses

Both spouses need to understand their own definition of intimacy

Both spouses need to communicate their own definition of intimacy clearly to each other

Intimacy requires action at all six levels with different dosage according to both spouses – Recreational, Financial, Spiritual, Emotional, Sexual and Intellectual

Intimacy does not happen by chance

Intimacy requires constant communication 

Your definition of intimacy might be different from your spouse’s. However, if your communication of intimacy is on the same page, you are on your way to marriage success. Just like the couples at the workshop, it might be hard to even start the intimacy conversation. Don’t let that deter you from taking action. Start the discussion.


Questions: What does the word intimacy means to you? What does intimacy means to your spouse?


Thank you for reading


Sep 03

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.


Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici under

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


Sep 01

Lessons from Love & Respect


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 June 2nd to September 8th as we read Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.


Chapter 23 – The Real Reason to Love & Respect


Why Should You Give Love& Respect to Your Spouse?

It is comprehensible that love and respect can be hard to express when couples are facing hard time. These hard times can range from lack of trust, fear of the unknown, fear of being taking advantage by their spouse, past childhood trauma to severe emotional and physical abuse. 

With so many issues that can threaten your marriage why should you seek to really increase love and respect in your marriage? It is simple the benefits outweigh the costs. Now, I want to be extremely clear; I am not making light of trauma and abuse. I truly believe those spouses that are facing abuse should seek protection and stability before working on the marriage. If you are afraid for your life, you cannot really be present in the marriage. Get help. Don’t allow abuse to take your marriage hostage.


Photo Courtesy of Photostock under

The benefits of giving unconditional love and respect in your marriage can be endless once you move past the marriage issues. Just to list some:

Getting out of the crazy cycle with your spouse

Being present in your marriage instead of just existing

Your marriage manifest a Godly purpose

Let your marriage be a mission to other couples

Let your marriage be a legacy to your children

Having peace in your marriage instead of bumping head with your spouse.

Moving from marriage issues to giving full love and respect to your spouse require you to keep your marriage health at the forefront of your mind. Most couples pledged for better and for worse, but do not work to prevent the worse from happening. Take the small victories and keep focusing on the positive feedback you receive from your spouse. Keep in mind that it took awhile for conflicts to grow in your marriage, be patient and allow your spouse a chance to increase love and respect.


Challenge of the WeekIf you can dream it, it can happen. It is time to move from constant  marriage issues to a marriage health full of love and respect.  See the benefits you can reach in your marriage.

This week dream big for your marriage. List the benefits you will get if you give unconditional love and respect in your marriage

Thank you for reading

Aug 29

5 Reasons You Should Lean Into Your Marriage Conflicts

For many couple facing marriage conflicts is like walking on egg shells. Deep down inside, there is a desire to have a healthy marriage. However, most couples look the other way instead of getting acquainted with their marriage problems. Consequently, you see two individuals dancing a game of marriage doom.

On one of my recent talks about marriage, I addressed the benefits of leaning into marriage conflicts. I was surprised that many spouses saw leaning into marriage conflicts as just getting to a solution. Leaning into marriage conflict is more than just facing the hard issues. Leaning into your marriage conflicts is not accepting the conflict as a final solution; it is not immersing or participating in the conflict. Most importantly leaning in your marriage conflicts is not tolerating the conflicts. Leaning into your marriage conflict is about taking actions to move your marriage from struggling to healthy. Leaning into your marriage conflicts is about taking your marriage from average to awesome. So, here are 5 Benefits of leaning in your marriage conflicts.

David Dominici Castello - FDPPhoto Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici under

You learn how to move from avoidance to resolution – Many spouses who are facing marriage issues are usually guilty of a major marriage killer – AVOIDANCE. Avoidance leads more couple to divorce than any other marriage killers. By avoiding issues in your marriage, you allow them to grow. When you are trying to face them, they look like giants. That avoidance leads to anxiety. Consequently, you feel paralyze. Avoidance left unconquered leads to inaction. By leaning into your marriage conflicts, you chip away at your anxiety, you are facing yourself, you see your reality and you’re facing your marriage and your spouse. Don’t run away. Lean in and lean in with support from others if needed.

You learn how you are contributing to the conflict/s – I have counseled many spouse who really thought they were completely innocent of the conflicts that are in their marriage. However, once they looked closer, they could see how they have participated in self sabotage, dysfunctional and vicious patterns, escalated the conflicts, gave into false resolution and much more. This is such a powerful benefit for you and your spouse because it brings awareness. You get to know yourself at a deep core level. You can only control the person in the mirror when you are willing to accept how you are contributing to the conflicts and how you are going to change that. Lean into your marriage conflicts to learn how to stop contributing to the madness. 

You learn how you can support and help your spouse – Notice I say support and help – not change your spouse. When you are leaning into marriage conflicts, your mission is not to change your spouse. If you are facing a conflict and you are attempting to change your spouse, you are likely putting more gasoline on fire. I guarantee you, your spouse will feel judge and invalidated. Supporting and helping your spouse is about managing your emotions to not pour more fuel in a heated conflict. Leaning into your marriage troubles is about trying to understand where your spouse is coming from. Leaning into your marriage conflicts is about really validating your spouse’s emotions of fear, anger, disappointment, etc. Leaning into your marriage conflicts is about giving encouragement, offering empathy, offering welcome and solicited insights/recommendations and having a willingness to forgive. 

ID-100156155Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici under

You learn to take 100% responsibility for your marriage – I know that there are two individuals involve in a marriage. However, I have found that couples that have the faulty belief that the husband is responsible for 50% of the marriage and the wife for the other 50% get trapped in the blame game. The 50-50 % mindset does not work in marriage because it leads to spouses pointing the finger. What type of husband or wife do you want to be? The type of spouse that point the finger or the spouse that fights to resolve the issue by having the 100% ownership mindset. When I speak to married groups, I usually ask husbands and wives to focus on their roles. If you make a point to focus on your role in a healthy manner 100%, you are more than halfway into marriage success. I can truly attest that most couples that grow and succeed in resolving marriage issues had taken personal responsibility for the marriage.  

You reach win-win solution – Arriving at win-win solutions is one of the most powerful experiences a couple can share in marriage. Each win-win solution allows you to grow in intimacy, conflict resolution and togetherness. Each conflict that is resolved goes on your love bank shelf as marriage success. When a new challenge is faced, you know you and your spouse did not run away from your conflicts, you can flex your muscles together to win again and again and again. 

Leaning into your marriage troubles might sound counterproductive, but in reality this is one of the best ways you can build a strong marriage. Rome was not built in one day, so it will take time and commitment to build your marriage to a healthy state. Take action and start leaning into your marriage conflicts. 


Questions: What would it take for you to lean into your marriage troubles?


Thank you for reading


Aug 27

Are You Going to Stay There?


The first time I came across this quote I decided to use it as a personal motivation quote. The more and more I read and used it, it became the perfect quote for my marriage. When we had issues that were difficult to discuss, this was the quote that reminded I need to take action. When I know I needed to make my words match my actions in my marriage, this was one of the quotes that I used.

Married couples around the world do not stay in conflictive marriages because they like it. At times, we do not take the first step because we have not made the decision to leave where we are. It can be fearful for you to decide that you are no longer going to stay in the muck. As hard and painful the emotions of dealing with a hurting marriage might be, it is more painful to sit and watch your marriage deteriorate.

So, this quote has been in my arsenal for awhile. Today, I offer it to you to motivate you to take actions that will help you to create heartfelt emotions in your marriage. My hope is for you to move forward to a healthy and happy marriage.

Probably one quote will not change your marriage in one day. However, if you are tired of t having the same fights and you are ready to build intimacy and rebuild trust this is the perfect quote to motivate you. Don’t leave your marriage in that phase. Act today.

Question: What have you used as motivation to move your marriage to a better place?

Thank you for reading


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