Nov 21

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.


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


Nov 19

Are You Dreaming with Your Spouse?

I had a conversation with one of my clients. He mentioned that he doesn’t have any New Year’s resolutions. I must say I completely agree with him. New Year ‘s resolutions are usually forgotten by February. You probably have witnessed the same trend years after years. The gym is packed and not one single treadmill is available in the first week of January. Come February, the same gym is empty. The same trend occur in many marriages – one spouse says we will spend more time with each other, the other mentions we will get our finances in order. What happen when February comes around? Neither the wife nor the husband can give a logical response for the failure of New Year’s resolutions. Both spouses had great intentions. Both spouses wanted a successful marriage.



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However, I have seen it years after years. No matter how great your intentions might be if your goals are not defined, your whys have not been  stated and listed clearly, no plan of actions have been detailed, the goals will disappear before February comes around. Many couples don’t even get to discuss their goals because they never dream together. The wife has her goals and the husband have his. “A team” working separately.


The #1 New Year’s resolution being made by Americans  is to lose weight. Can you imagine the power of a wife and husband working together to lose weight. Imagine if it is just the wife that wanted to lose weight and she talked to her husband about her nutrition  and exercise goals. What would happen if she describes to him the lifestyle she wants to have after she is fit to her desired health goals? What would happen if this couple make a meal plan that they will follow together? Can you imagine if the husband offered full support when his wife face obstacles in her exercise plan? 


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Married couples can experience success in their goals, but so many couples do not attain success because they have stopped dreaming together. In some cases, many married couples never started dreaming together. If two are better than one are put in practice, many couples would be invincible. Working together to address marriage and personal goals is one of the most unused benefits in marriage. It is never too late to start. Make  the rest of 2014, the year to dream with your spouse. Work together in 2015 to make these dreams come true. Don’t wait for January 1st to start dreaming and write your goals. Use the goals sheet  resource to start today.


Don’t be a statistic. Almost half of New Year’s resolutions are out of the door every year. To be exact 46% are forgotten by the month of June. Your marriage don’t have to suffer the same fate. Start dreaming with your spouse today. Work together to make these dreams come to reality.


Question: What are your 2015 goals for your marriage? Have you discussed these goals in full details with your spouse? 


Take Action: Make time this week to dream with your spouse about the way you want your marriage to look in 2015? Be clear.


Resource: Goals Sheet



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Nov 17

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 8 – Teamwork: Adopt a No-Losers Policy


The Winning Team

How damaging it is when two individuals who love each other spend endless time tearing each other down. Married couples tear each down daily each time they spend arguing instead of being on the same team. When couples are not on the same team there is a strong POWER STRUGGLE. Most power struggles are  rooted in fear. There is a hint of threat every time a wife or a husband refuses to be a team with each other.

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The best way to start being a team with your spouse is to have a no losers policy. For many spouses winning means that they don’t get their way. A no – losers policy allow both spouses to work together. Both spouses focus on winning for the marriage not for a selfish gain. Healthy marriages have both spouses winning not trying to sabotage each other and the marriage.

In order for  lack of unity to disappear in your marriage  and for teamwork to flourish, both spouses need to listen  to how each other feels. After you listen to your spouse, pray about it. Brainstorm and select win win solutions. Implement solutions that both  of you agreed on. Evaluate and redo the steps if necessary. Winning an argument is only temporary, but being a winning team is the core of your relationship.



Challenge of the Week – Tearing each other down to win arguments will only lead you to divorce or a frustrated marriage.

If you are busy fighting each other, put the gloves. Your spouse is not your enemy.

This week get on the same team with your spouse.


Thank you for reading

Nov 14

3 Reasons You Should Get Regular Maintenance in Your Marriage

I was talking to a close friend who leads a marriage group in her church. She was expressing some frustration due to lack of participation she is experienced from many married couples in her church. The sad part of this discussion many of these couples are on the verge of divorce, but they refused to get help when it is offered. Part  of the reluctance might be to feeling overwhelmed or feeling stuck in marital conflicts. One thing we agreed  about is that a marriage that lasts  have regular maintenance. So the question is when was the last time you got a maintenance for your marriage? 


Do not let your marriage hang on its last leg before you get help. Many individuals see marriage counseling as a last result, but why wait for things to get worse  before you take action to live a life of love with your spouse. You wouldn’t wait to have a serious illness before you see a doctor, that is why you would invest in yourself by eating healthy, and maintain an exercise regimen.



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Here are 3 Reasons You Should Have Regular Maintenance in Your Marriage


1.You learn to catch issues before they get big - I have talked to many couples who ignored issues and the more the issues were ignored the more the couples distanced from each other. Little by little you tackle the issues before they get unbearable.


2. You work together in communication skills – Communicating with each other is not only crucial in a marriage maintenance, it is the beginning of sharing empathy, sorrows, joy and so many other emotions that keep a marriage healthy. You will hit several bumps, but it is worth it.Whether you are getting with another couple for mentoring or a professional to rejuvenate your marriage, communication in marriage is a powerful key.


3. You build  connection by solving issues – There is nothing more beautiful and powerful when a couple see that they can  work as a team. I have witnessed couples who experienced great success in resolving financial issues, parenting issues and so much more because they resolve their issues.


Set your marriage for success. Get professional help if needed. See a  marriage counselor or a  marriage coach. Attend a marriage workshop. Do not neglect your marriage. Do your maintenance on a regular basis?



Question: How do you make regular maintenance in your marriage?



Thank you for reading

Nov 12

What Will Your Marriage Look Like in 2015

The holiday season is right around the corner. Before you know it, 2015 will be here. You can dream of an amazing marriage or you can set goals to create an amazing marriage.

Dreaming to increase your communication with your spouse or dreaming to have a great sexual intimacy will not happen unless you set specific goals.

Today is the Day

You do not have to settle for a bad or an average marriage in 2015 . If you want to have a successful marriage in 2015, set goals that is SMART.

S Specific

M Measurable

A Attainable/ Action-focused

R Result-Based/Realistic

T Time Specific/Tractable


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It is easy to say, “Honey, I want us to spend more time together next year.” However, when you tell your spouse, “Honey, I want us to go out on a date every 3rd Friday in 2015.” You are creating a goal which will yield results.

I want us to spend more time together next year just move from dream level to a SMART goal level. You create communication with your spouse. The dates have to be scheduled. If you have children as each date gets closer, you might have to plan for childcare. You can check at the end of the year if you and your spouse went on the dates.

Don’t wait for January to set your marriage goals. Talk to your spouse today and write down your marriage goals. You know you will be busy with Thanksgiving preparations and before you know it, you will be doing the Christmas shopping.

Set your goals today and you can take your marriage to the next level. If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time. However, if you set SMART goals for your marriage, I guarantee you; you will have a different marriage in 2015.

Questions: What goals do you have for your marriage in 2015?


Take Action: This weekend sit down and start discussing your goals  for 2015 with your spouse? Dream together, plan together and work together to make it happen.


Thank you for reading




Nov 10

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 7 – Emotional Communication: Listen With the Heart


Are You Listening With the Heart?

 It is hard to listen when emotions are running high. Most couples would realized that they love each other deeply if they would actually listen to each other.

When you listen to your spouse are you listening with the intent to reply or with the intent to pull the curtains? When you pull the curtains, you really listen to the heart. It is a skill set that take time to a lifetime to learn. Listen to the heart means that you listen to the words beyond the feelings, the words beneath the emotions. Many spouses made the mistake of trying to fix the issues instead if listening. Listening with the heart provide a chance to really understand the DNA of your relationships. 

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Here are 10 tips to listen with the heart

Focus on understanding your spouse

Provide empathy

Know that listening to your spouse’s heart is a discovery process

Don’t allow your thoughts to make judgments

Communicate understanding not fixing

Know that understanding is not agreement

Monitor your hot buttons

Establish safety

Commit to learn listening for a lifetime

Being right is not the ultimate goal 

You can have the worse argument with your spouse, but if you can communicate you understand their frustrations or concerns, you have listen with the heart. Listening with the heart is not just about hearing it is about connecting. The next time you speak with your spouse really ask yourself if you are listening with the heart.


Challenge of the Week – Are you listening with the heart.

If your spouse have to repeat the same thing over and over again, chances are you are not listening. Listening is a skill set that is needed in marriage.

This week take the listening test. Ask your spouse if you are a good listener and ask how can you grow in this area.

Thank you for reading

Nov 07

6 Tips That Will Help Strengthen Your Marriage During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is around the corner. It is an exciting and joyous time. However, for some couples the holiday season is nothing but stress. With traveling, visiting families, spending money, many married couples struggle instead of rejoicing. Delicious turkey and silver bells turn into arguments, pointing fingers and a Christmas bill that sneaks into the New Year.  


The best way to avoid the holiday craze is to be prepared. I am writing this blog post not as a holiday expert, but as a spouse who have experienced a stronger marriage due to holiday planning. In 2012, we took our son to Miami to see the family. Our little bundle of joy had just turn 3 months old. Our plan was to visit the family and let them enjoy our son. After traveling from house to house for a week, I can tell you – 1. We were tired. 2. Our son was overwhelmed 3. It was not a holiday vacation 4. We came back to Georgia in need of a vacation. After that experience, I learned my lessons. In 2013, I had a smooth and happy holiday vacation, and I’m looking forward to 2014 because I planned.


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Here are 6 tips that helped my marriage to thrive during the holiday season    


1. Make a plan – Sit down and make a plan with your spouse. Let the plan be a discussion on all the intimacy levels. How do you plan to spend money for Thanksgiving gathering and Christmas shopping? How will you and your spouse maintain emotional connection? How will you feed your spiritual tank? Do you plan to exercise or follow a nutritious meal plan? These questions might seem trivial or a bit too details for some couples, but because I did not have a well thought out plan in 2012 I scheduled to visit family all over Miami. We connected with family, but as a couple, we were tired. If you have family visiting, the same questions are applicable to you. Make a plan to set your marriage for a successful holiday.  

2. Know your limits – What I did not tell you in the beginning of this story was when we came back to GA, all of us were sick- husband, 3 months old baby and mommy. We stretched ourselves way too much. I’m not saying you should not deny yourself and spend time with family. However, if you don’t do self-care and marriage care, the holiday will stress you out. 


3. Set boundaries – It is okay to say no. Church festivities, the school recitals, the work parties, the book club gift exchange, Secret Santa, you see where I’m going with this. The list can go on and one and on. Sit down with your spouse and decide where you will go. You do not have to attend every holiday function you are invited to. You don’t have to succumb to family pressure. Many couples that are poor family boundaries let family of origin tear their marriage apart. Set boundaries with your family: 1. It is healthy for you, for your spouse and for your own family members.  


4. Be each other support system – This is a tip take to heart. The holiday season is a fun time for me, but knowing that I suffered a great lost this year and I know I will need to stay open with my husband. He will be a source of support for me. In many cases, there are spouses that dealing with grief, family conflicts, seasonal depression or just plan stress with holiday preparation, but they focus on just getting through the holidays. Just getting through the holidays is a sure plan to fall in marriage crisis.  


5. Set time apart – Sure it is a time for family members to visit, but make time for your marriage. Go on a coffee date. Go for a walk. The kids will be out of school and the house can be chaotic. You make time for the kids and family, but do you do make time for your spouse? You don’t have to participate in chaos and wonder why you and your spouse are not connecting.  

6. Rejoice – The holiday is a time to rejoice. Be thankful for each other. Don’t get caught up in the activities and ignore your marriage. I have counseled couples that paid so much attention to activities and yet neglected their spouse. When the parents are visiting or you are visiting the parents remember you have left the nest. Rejoice in each other and rejoice with each other. Make time for marriage self-care.   


I urge you plan for your holiday and you will spend a wonderful holiday with your spouse.




Question: How do you plan to nurture your marriage during the holiday season??


Take Action: This weekend sit down and make a holiday plan with your spouse..


Thank you for reading




Nov 05

5 Steps to Build Intentional Love in Your Marriage

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fifty percent of first marriages end in divorce. Couples are walking down the aisle, but they are missing the most important point – love that survives the trials of life need to be intentional. With long work hours, long commute and a saturated electronic world, couples who succeed in marriages are intentional. Marriage is a journey and in order to succeed in the journey couples can use these 5 practical steps to be intentional. 



1. Have weekly dates –  Couple usually work hard to court and impress each other during dating, but soon after the wedding, they stop. The cessation of dating sends a message of lack of appreciation. A flower without water will eventually die. The dates serve as reminders that you are in a journey. Dating your spouse, give you an opportunity to keep discovering the evolving charm that caught your attention in the first place. Your spouse will continue to grow, but if you stop dating your spouse you will lose out on knowing who he/she is becoming. When was the last time you went on a date? Talk to your spouse about a date and schedule the date.  


2. Have daily connection time –  In a world that is bombarded with constant contact and movement, couple needs to reconnect and affirm their commitment and love to each other. There are two types of connection. 


1. Connecting throughout the day. Give you spouse a call send an encouraging text. Find out how his/her day is going.  


2. Connecting without distraction. No distractions mean no television, no Iphone, no social media, no kids, you get the point. Connection means active listening. What can you do to have a deeper connection time with your spouse?  


3. Praise each other - A small word of appreciation can go a long way. Tell your spouse thank you for the small things he/she does. Sure, it might be his/her responsibilities to clean pick up the kids, etc, but if your spouse does not hear appreciation from you, he/she will not know how much you care. What can you do today to show appreciation to your spouse? 


4. Have strong accountability partner/s (i.e. couple. counselor, pastor, etc) in your life –  Marriage does not come with a handbook. Find a support system for your relationship. The accountability partner is there to support and encourage you when your marriage gets though. Proverbs 17:27 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Choose your accountability partner wisely. Who do you have in your life that is helping you with your marriage? Make time to find an accountability partner.



5. Honesty and Openness – When couples neglect to be honest and open in marriage, they allow pebbles to become boulders. Be open to your spouse about your worries, your struggles (past and present), your fears, your dreams, and visions for yourself and the relationship etc. Openness and honesty allow your spouse to be your number one fan. Honesty and openness create trust. Be open and honest with love, tact and respect. What areas in your life do you need to be open with your spouse?



Question: How do you show love intentionally in your marriage?


Take Action: Pick one of the above tips and use it today.


Thank you for reading




Nov 03

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 6 – Self-Care  Keep Your Battery Charged


Are You Running on Empty?

  Face it. Relationships require us to be at our best. When we do not make time to practice adequate self-care, out love ones are the first to be impacted. However, self-care is one of the most neglected parts of relationship. In marriages, couples will see a counselor in a heartbeat to address communication, infidelity, conflict resolution, but those are the same spouses that neglect self-care. Whether in marriage, friendship, parenting relationships, we cannot receive the full value and give out our best if we don’t work to be at our best.    

I have worked many spouses who do not eat well; they are emotional shout, spiritually starving and intellectually feeble, but then they wonder why the marriages are not working? In order for couples to really give 100% and beyond, self-care is essential.   ‘

Self-care at the spiritual and physical, emotional, and intellectual level is not selfishness it is selflessness. Here are some questions in the four areas of self-care that will help you start determining how to establish a good ground for self-care. 


Spiritual self-care – Are you satisfy or famish? Are you reading the Bible and /or spiritual book? Are you meditating to recharge yourself? Are you praying to connect with God? Are you spiritually connected with others?  

Physical self-care – Are you getting enough rest? Are you eating balance meals? Are you getting enough exercise? How are you managing stress?  

Intellectually self-care – Are you feeding your mind healthy food? Are you learning new things? Are you allowing your mind to explore new boundaries? Do you challenge your mind intellectually?  

Emotional self-care – When was the last time you really listen to your emotions? Do you know how to identify your emotions? How are you using the information provided by your emotions to attend to yourself? Do you know how to evaluate the truth of your emotions?  

When your self-care cup is filled you bless others because your cup overflows. Self-care does not only bless your marriage, it is also a blessing to God. God not only made you for relationships. He wants you to be your best. He wants to live as the valuable human being that He created for you to be. As His temple, you cannot neglect your self-care and be the best spouse you can be. 


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In order to do good self-care in the areas mentioned above, you must be willing to receive from others and God. There are many individuals who refuse to receive love compassion, empathy or any help from others. Receiving is part of self-care. When your cup is empty, you must get it filled so it can overflow. Another part of self-care is attending to your needs. Knowing when to say yes or no; to others, knowing when to get rest, etc. The last part of getting adequate self-care is giving. Giving is such a beautiful demonstration of self-care because it is when you put self-care in action in relationships. You give and you interact and you grow. Self-care cannot happen at the spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional level unless you receive, attend or give.  

Sure life can get overwhelming. Yes, others’ expectations and on our own expectations can get in the way of getting adequate self-care, but you and I were made for relationships. And, if we are going to be our best at relationships we will need to take our stress as lessons and opportunity to grow, put our stress aside and do the self-care to really get the relationship we want.



Challenge of the Week – Charge Yourself To Be The Best Spouse You Can Be

When was the last time you took care of your self emotionally, spiritually physically and intellectually.

Self-care  is usually not associated with marriage health. However, a great marriage and self-care go hand in hand.

This week, take action. Evaluate your self-care in the 4 areas mentioned above and choose to implement  receiving, attending or giving.

The more healthy you are the greater impact you will create in your marriage.


Thank you for reading

Oct 31

You Can’t Just Pray This Issue Away

Today is the last day of October. Many individuals are celebrating Halloween. It is also the last day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Last Friday, I attended a Domestic Violence Vigil at the YWCA of Northwest GA. The YWCA has a special place in my heart because it has helped so many women, men and children escape abuse. I held a white rose in my hand and I put it in the coffin as a remembrance of a woman who did not get a chance to live her life. This year domestic violence received a lot of coverage due to the high profile cases in the NFL. However, the same atrocity is taking place in many homes in America.   


Did you know that an estimated 1.3 million women experienced some type of physical abuse by an intimate partner each year? However, domestic violence does not only affect women. You have children living in violence and learning to be deceitful as a coping mechanism. You have men wasting their lives because they are not living and serving their families to their full potential. In some cases, both spouses are violent toward each other and in some cases the women are violent toward the men. You can look at it from all angles, it is wrong and disgusting.   



 Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy Imagery under Flickr Creative Commons

The breakdown that occurs in family due to domestic violence is huge. Yet, when I give talks to Christian married groups, domestic violence is sometime sweep under the carpet. You hear – I’m praying for him and I’m praying for her. Prayer is wonderful and great. It is always needed. However, domestic violence requires action and prayer. Not just prayer.  


Why she stays with him? Maybe spiritually, emotionally and financially she is paralyzed, and she believes that she has nowhere to go. Her self-esteem has been stripped from her soul. She fears leaving him more than getting help for herself.


Why he is putting up with the abuse when he is a man? Maybe he is ashamed. He has been emasculated emotionally. He was taught not to hit a woman. Domestic violence is like cancer to the victim and the perpetrator. Many individuals hide the domestic violence and its secrecy is one of the reasons it keeps going. Love, family, for the children, faith, fear of starting over, fear of the unknown, fear of loneliness, the dream, the promise of change, status, are some of the reasons that many spouses have told me they stayed.  


Can a marriage be restored after experiencing domestic violence? Yes. In working with men and women who have restored their marriages after domestic violence both parties took ownership to change their way of thinking about each other. When safety was an issue, they separated. They fought to learn to trust each other again. They did not just pray it away. They took action. And some couples are still fighting for their marriages. I applaud them for it. Some spouses had to face legal actions before they see the  magnitude of domestic violence. I applaud women and men who decided that they will no longer tolerate domestic violence.  


Domestic violence is not a celebrity or NFL issue. Yes, the recent NFL case shed more light on it, but it is happening in your backyard and in my backyard. The month of October is not and will not be the only time I address domestic violence. I urge you to do the same. So if you know a man or a woman who is experiencing domestic violence, please give them the hotline number listed below. Perhaps, they are not ready to make the change now, but you can plant that seed. You have taken action and you have done more than just pray.   


Take Action: I have worked with the men and women. I have seen individuals who had the chance to leave abusive relationships, but decided to go back. One thing I know for sure, an individual will leave a domestic violence relationship when he or she is ready to leave. You can help tremendously by not participating in the secret of death and by giving the resource below. Pass the resource today  to someone you know that need it.   

Question: Domestic violence is not taking place just in the NFL or in the life of celebrities. It is in your back yard.  In hat other ways you  can reach out to someone that have been affected by domestic violence?



Resource: National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233




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