May 22

The Simplest Way to Encourage Your Spouse Today

Monday Marriage Motivation

The simplest way to encourage your spouse is saying I love you. However, it is so simple that most couple really forget to use it daily. Life is stressful by itself. Marriage can be quite challenging. These three simple words: I LOVE YOU can really be a lifeline that keep your marriage alive.

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Photo Courtesy of Koko Tewan under freedigitalphotos.net

 

So, really think about it. How would you feel hearing your spouse saying he loves you daily? How those three simple words would impact your marriage?Can I love you really change the way your husband feels about his self-esteem? Can you really build him up when he feels that he is a failure? Do not underestimate the power of I love you. Most married couples would agreed that during  the dating period I love you was a daily saying. However, once they are together, the romance stops.Your marriage will not survive on occasional I love you. Saying I l love you is simple, but these three words really encourage, and boost your spouse morale.

Make today the day you start feeling your spouse a strong healthy diet of I love you. Say it holding his hands. Send him a I love you text. Hold her hands and look into her eyes and say I love you. I love you is the simplest way to encourage your spouse, but it is  one of the most powerful acts of love you can practice dally.

 

 

Take Action 

Marriage Tip – Tell your spouse you love him or her in a creative way.

Today’s Marriage Resource 

Questions –  How have you creatively say I love you to your spouse? How do you you plan to say I love you today?

 

Thank you for reading

May 17

How can I help my spouse understand our baby needs me?

Ask Marie?

We just had our first baby 6 months ago. My husband doesn’t want the baby to sleep in our bed. How can I help my spouse understand our baby needs me? 

 

Congratulations on your baby. The first baby brings so much joy, and at the same time it is a learning experience. Having giving birth to two children, I understand the initial fear of leaving them alone in a room by themselves. Let us not mention if they are colicky. A new baby is  beautiful and yet so fragile, I know there were times I felt afraid something would go wrong. There were times I woke up and check just to make sure my son was breathing. With hormones raging and being new at motherhood, it is understandable to have fear about leaving your child alone. And sometimes, mommy guilt is usual around the comer to even add an extra dose of confusion to the recipe. Mamma’s instincts is to protect but in your quest for  protection do not alienate your spouse.

 

The first thing that is to have awareness of your actions. Be aware that motherhood will bring challenges that will impact your marriage. Knowing that when you are afraid, new to motherhood, sleep deprived and hormonally charged, you need to communicate with your spouse, not push your spouse away.

 

Secondly, create a plan with your spouse that will create a win – win situation for both of you. For example, have the baby sleep in the room but in a bassinet. Or have the baby sleep in a nursery, with mom and dad taking shift.

 

The next thing to remember is you and your spouse created this beautiful baby, If you are fully consumed with your baby, your marriage will suffer. You need rest. You and your spouse will need to work on a date to move the baby out of the marital room.

 

Other factors to consider is when your baby in in your bed, you are not sleeping fully, which mean you are not getting the rest you need to be the mom you really want to be. Allow your spouse to be a daddy and have daddy duties and daddy bonding time. Also consider, SIDS. 

 

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Photo Courtesy of Kdshutterman under Freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

Talk to your spouse about your concern. Create a plan together that will benefit both of you individually and as a couple.

 

Your children are a gift from God. They are precious and priceless.  However, one day, your children will leave the nest to make their own path. You don’t want to be a lonely married empty nester because your spouse have become your roommate. You and your spouse are parents, but you were a unit first. Don’t use parenting to sacrifice your marriage. You can be a great couple and great parent. Besides, your children will thank you for a marriage they can emulate. Remember, love your spouse and lobe your children.

 

 

Take Action

 

Marriage Tip – The bedroom is your marriage sanctuary. Remove one item or eliminate a behavior that is affecting your bedroom negatively. Bring one item or start a new behavior that will impact your bedroom positively.

 

 

Today’s Marriage Resource 

 

 

Question: What are some parenting challenges that you are facing right now? How can you and your spouse create a parenting plan to address these challenges?

 

Thank you for reading

May 15

3 Reasons Your Marriage Needs the “Boundary Talk”

Monday Marriage Motivation

The word boundary is really not a curse word. In fact, it is a very freeing word. It allows each spouse to know how to freely love each other. It defines what is and what is not permissible in a marriage. You would think that every couple in America would have the boundary talk before they walk down the aisle. In fact, the opposite is happening. Couples are staying away from discussing boundary for their union. And, THAT IS A BIG MISTAKE.

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Photo Courtesy of Phanlop88 under freedigitalphotos.net

Love is powerful. Each spouse has every good intentions to have a great marriage until he is face with temptations. Or a wife found herself talking longer day after day with a friendly co-worker.  Boundary is not use to control your spouse, but it governs how two people set a successful marriage before it starts.

Here are 3 Reasons  Your Marriage Needs “The Boundary Talk”

It creates an environment of honesty and openness – For instance if you have talk to your spouse  about how going to strip club as a boundary issues. Your spouse know what you are thinking. Your views on strip club is known fact. You are not controlling your spouse, but he knows that a visit to the strip club would put his marriage in hot water.When he is faced with a decision like this, he knows what is permissible and what is not permissible in the marriage. A simple conversation about respecting the marriage would avoid comment like ” I didn’t sleep with her, I was just with the guys at the strip club.

It creates intimacy – There is nothing more vulnerable and growth directed  for a marriage then letting your spouse know your thoughts. Many couples avoid discussing boundaries because there is an assumptions that once you are married, you are supposed to be faithful. However, boundaries open the door to communicate about issues beyond fidelity scope. Couples that really dig deep to talk about boundary have clear understanding about  texting, flirting, hanging out, talking, etc with the opposites sex.

It fosters communication in other areas – Finances, parenting, child rearing  in-laws are areas that can create chaos when two individuals are not on the same page. You thinking that he should pay his debts and he is thinking that we are one my money is your money. You against spanking and he was raised with the motto- do not spare the rod. You are thinking your in laws should call before visiting,  she is thinking mom should move in when we have kids. The above cases might seem too far fetch to be real, but these are the kind of issues that lack of boundary bring out of a marriage with no boundary.

So, before you walk down the aisle, take the guesswork out of your marriage. Have boundary conversations about finances, fidelity, in-laws, spirituality, etc. You cannot  expect, hope and  wish that your spouse will just know what you are thinking. You might have expectations and he might just have a whole different set of expectations. You can be holding hands,  but have no clue what is going on in your spouse’s head. Since marriage vows do not activate automatic ESP, have the boundary talk and set your marriage for success.

 

 

Take Action 

Marriage Tip – Discuss an area in your relationship that need clearer boundary.

Today’s Marriage Resource 

Questions –  What is one boundary issue you have delayed addressing with your spouse? How would your relationship with your significant other improve by having clear boundary in that area?

 

Thank you for reading

May 10

Should married couples have joint or separate accounts?

Ask Marie?

Should married couples have joint or separate accounts?  

 

With money fights and money problems being one of the main causes of divorce, I advocate for couples to have joint accounts 99.9% of the time. There is a saying if you follow the money, you will find the trail. Money can break a relationship if spouses are hiding money from each other. Consequently, all accounts should be acknowledged. Only on rare and isolated cases should there be separate accounts. If you are hiding money from your spouse, there is a deeper issue. When there is one bed and one bank account, there is a push to work together on finances. A husband who is communicating with his wife on finances would have to intentionally hide spending money on porn addiction. A husband with a separate account on the other hand  can just keep the lie going without having the accountability of his spouse. Having two extra pair of eyes on the finances can help couple: plan for the future, budget effectively, set a success financial legacy for their children, and  set financial dreams together.

 

 

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Photo Courtesy of Suphakit73 under Freedigitalphotos.net

 

Separate account with a spouse knowledge is acceptable if there are legal issues from blended family situation or a previous marriage, addiction with a spouse in recovery. There is only a rare occasion when a hidden account is appropriate. It is only when a spouse is facing domestic violence. In the case of domestic violence, an abusive partner can use money to keep the victim isolated so hidden account can facilitate the victim to leave and set a life for freedom.

 

Don’t allow secrets about finances to destroy your marriage. 

 

Take Action

 

Marriage Tip – Ask your spouse about one financial dreams he or she would like to accomplish? Share a financial dreams with your spouse.

 

Today’s Marriage Resource 

 

Question: How do you work together with your spouse to have financial unity?

 

Thank you for reading

May 08

What Kind of Marriage Do You Want?

Monday Marriage Motivation

The question might  have got you off your current thought pattern. That is okay. Don’t ignore the question. Answer it. Don’t keep reading until you can actually picture the marriage you want. Do you wish you could connect  at a deeper level with your spouse? Or, has the word marriage has been a source of  emotional gut wrenching pain for you lately? You see many individual dream about a happy marriage and some spouse wish it together on the wedding day. BUT Wishing, dreaming is not enough.

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What kind of marriage do you want? is the first question that can lead you and your spouse to start dreaming and creating a haven of peace. A marriage that really speak joy and peace to both of you as individual. It is a question that lead you to inspire each other to be your best self for each other. However, after you dream you must take action, So, this is where the real work begin.

There is only one way to create the marriage that you want: Marriage Intentionality

You might wonder if the above term is some psychobabble or some over promise and under deliver self-help term. Don’t let the simplicity of the term fool you. This is the only term that differentiate between your friend frustrated failed marriage  and the elderly couple that actually enjoy each other company after 50 years of marriage. Marriage intentionality is what separate the couple that have become just roommate between the couple that yearn to be with each after a day of work.

Marriage intentionality requires you not only to ask What kind of marriage do you want but you must also ask of your self and of your spouse What will you do to create the kind of marriage you want? Don’t Answer this question in broad term. Be specific. I will show more love to my spouse is broad. Instead really list exactly what you will to create the marriage that you want. Don’t overthink it. Make it simple.

List 3 Things you will do this week to create the kind of marriage you want.

Happy marriages are not fairy tales. As a couple counselor, I don’t get a free pass from marriage intentionality. I have to work on my marriage too . I walk side by side with couples so they can see that marriage intentionality is really needed. After counseling, marriage intentionality continues. Counseling alone will not fix your marriage.

The media does not portray successful marriages. Don’t you dare look at Hollywood for your example of successful marriage. Hollywood and the media promoted the divorce of Brad and Angelina until they couldn’t milk the sad ending anymore. Happy marriages do exist. They do not happen overnight. Happy marriages  are the result of marriage intetionality. Your parents might have fought daily, but your marriage can be different. You  cant start the legacy of the successful marriage in your family. Start today by answering of the most important questions to create the marriage that you want.

 

 

Take Action 

Marriage Tip – Thank your spouse for a specific action that he or she did for you this week.

Today’s Marriage Resource 

Questions –  What are you doing this week to start creating the marriage you want? List one thing that you will do today for your spouse to start creating the marriage that you want.

 

Thank you for reading

Dec 25

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Have A Wonderful

Christmas

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Photo Courtesy of Ian Liao Under Flickr Creatives Commons

Mar 18

Will you let your children take you to court too?

Raising children is one of the most rewarding experiences a couple can share.  Two individuals coming together to love, train, discipline, educate, encourage and inspire a baby to mature into a functional and responsible adult. That is not an easy job and it can create a strain in marriage. Last week, I came across a story of a New Jersey teenager who is suing her parents requesting for financial support after she decided to leave her residence. I know you might think this is crazy. However, this is not the first time those parents have been to court. This is the first time they have come to a legal court, but this teenager has been taking her parents to court over the years -entitlement court, disrespectful court, no boundaries court guilty trip court, I  can go and on. This is a sad and tragic story. A lot of fingers are pointing are the teenager and her parents.  The media are asking; what happened? The first court date took place way before this teenage was 18. What can couples do be great parents and avoid going through a lifetime of legal battles in their own home?

Parent as a team. Is it possible?

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Here are 7 tips that will help you to parent as a team and build a strong marriage.

Put the marriage first – You cannot be a great parent if your marriage is suffering. Poor marriage health leads to poor parenting.  Making the children the center of life is a bad trend.  I see who couples overbook their children’s schedule and they don’t have time for each other.  Take care of yourself and take care of your marriage and you will help your children.

Be on the same parenting page – Know how  you will address each of your children. Different situations do require different parenting tactics.  For example, you might have two children, but your approach to correcting them is different. Communication about parenting style is a must if you want to be on the same page. If you are not on the same page, your children will be the puppeteers. You probably know who will be the puppets. Be on the same page about family rules, expectations, etc. When you are on the same parenting page, you don’t tear each other down. You don’t undermine your spouse’s parenting because you are trying to accomplish the same goal.

Establish clear boundaries – Children will follow boundaries that are clear, consistent and come from a place of love. As a child, there are family rules I knew that I was not willing to pay the consequences by breaking. Those were the rules that were clear and I know the consequences would be implemented. I did not like many of those rules. To be honest, some of those rules might have been a bit strict.  However, I am grateful for the values those rules brought out of my character.

Know that you are raising a child to be a functional adult – I think as parent sometime it is easy to fall in the trap of protecting our children. In order for a child to become a responsible adult, he will have to experience growth. Growth takes place in teachable moments. Which means, at times, your children will fail and you have to let them face the consequences? The more you keep your children in a bubble, the more they are exposed to danger. It is in the teachable moments you can extend mercy and grace and train them to be better prepared. They will take a successful flight if you give them the chance to get trained by life.

Get educated – Read books that support your beliefs and values on parenting. Discuss them with your spouse. Devise a plan to implement what you are reading. You can create your own library of parenting books. Go to parenting conferences and seminars. Study the character of God toward Jesus. If you are going to win at parenting, you need to be equipped.

Get Support – Ultimately you and your spouse are responsible for parenting your children. However, you can get support from other couples and parents you admire. I have receive priceless and countless advice from couples who are doing a stellar job in parenting. You can invest in a parenting coach or a therapist. However, you can easily get parenting help over a cup of coffee or lunch from great parents that is your circle of influence.

Pray and pray – There is no perfect spouse and no perfect parent. You will make mistake. The best thing to do is apologize to your spouse. Apologize to your child. Pray for your children. Pray for your spouse. Pray for your own sanity. Your parenting will test your marriage, but parenting doesn’t have to take your marriage out.

The New Jersey teenager has returned home. However, this is a family that will need a lot of healing. The home life has been broken emotionally for a long time. Just going back home will not fix it. I will keep them in my prayers and hopefully they will get help to rebuild the family unit. You have a choice. You do not have to experience the pain of going to court with your children.  The best gift you can give your children is being an excellent spouse and work together to raise them to be responsible adult.

 

Questions: What other tips can you share that have helped you to parent with your spouse?

 

Thank you for reading

Mar 16

Mine, Yours and Ours, 3 Tips for Financial Unity in Marriage

You know when you walked down the aisle marriage meant forever. However, many couples do not reconcile their checkbooks. Money issues  and problems are the # 1 cause for marital discord. Financial issues in marriage go beyond the checkbook. Couples have separate  and secrets accounts. There are spouses who spend money out of boredom, out of respect and some due to immaturity and addiction.

Here are 3 Tips to Build Financial Unity :

Honesty   – Be honest about your financial situations. If you know you have outstanding debts, let your spouse know the truth. Sharing your financial weakness will only help you to be closer. Let honesty be a door to mutual accountability.

Being on the Same Page – Being honest is one step, but working together to head in the same financial direction is the only true way to have financial sucess in your marriage.

Budgeting – A budget is you and your spouse telling your money what to do. Without a budget, your money has no sense of direction. Saying that you are on the same page is only real if you created your budget together.

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Photo Courtesy of Tax Credits under Flickr Creative Common

Money issues do not have to lead you to the court house.

Questions: What financial tips have helped you and your spouse to build financial unity?

Thank you for reading

Feb 25

4 Ways to Say I Love You by Giving Affection

Touch is universal. Touch is powerful. No dictionary is needed to define a loving touch. No translator is needed to translate the love that is communicated with a single touch.

Yet many married couples are not using physical touch as a tool to express love in their marriages. In time of crisis, we hold hands; we hug, and hold each other.

If touch is able to take our sorrows, and give us comfort in time of crisis, how much more potent touch can be during our daily routines?

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It can be hard to express love through physical touch if you don’t know how. Sometime couples confuse physical touch with sex. However, if you are willing to express love to your spouse by physical touch, here are 4 tips you can use.

1. Hold hands – This is one of the most powerful tools a couple has. Holding hand is so reassuring and it also strengthens a couple’s oneness.

2. Hug each other – Sometime a hug communicate support, and availability.

3. Give a back massage – This gesture not only nurture the relationship, but it also help couple to release tension.

4. Kiss – A kiss can lead to sexual intimacy, but it does not have to be a sexual act. A kiss can tell your spouse, “I am attracted to you.’

Make affection a daily practice in your marriage. 

Questions: How important is affection to your spouse?

Thank you for reading

Feb 23

What Are the Old Patterns Doing to Your Marriage?

You were born  in a functional family or perhaps you had a difficult upbringing. Whether you would admitted openly or you choose to ignore it. All of us have some baggage from our family origin. Ignoring the baggage only hurt our marriage. Some couples are afraid to address family origin issues because they want to move on from the past. Issues like abuse, history of mental illness, divorce, unhealthy habits, etc. They cannot be ignored. Pushing past hurts under the rug only lead to a pile of dust.

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Phoro Courtesy of Kumar’s Edit under Flickr Creative Commons

Family issues will replicate in your union if you do not take measures to correct them.There have been times a couple will face a hardship, over and over again – only to realize they are playing the same roles they observed as children. Lack of communication, addiction, avoiding conflict, the rescuers and the chaser syndrome are just some of the roles spouses find themselves playing automatically in the marriage.

Whether you have walked down the aisle only one time or several times, your past do not have to dictate your marriage. However, look into your past and learn from your patterns.

Questions: How about you? What impact  your old patterns have played on your marriage?

Thank you for reading

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