Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Dangers Of "Toxic Parenting" To Your Marriage

I have three children and I am the first to acknowledge the joys…the blessings…and the sacrifices that a couple experiences when children come into their lives. I also understand the unique roles that both the mother and the father play in rearing children and just how important both are to a child’s development. Now that I have made my disclaimers, I want to address what I believe has become an epidemic in many marriages with children in the past 10-15 years, and it is what I refer to as “Toxic Parenting”.

I recently did a wedding for a couple that already had a 3-year-old child. I asked them if they were going on a honeymoon after the wedding and the bride responded that they were going to wait a couple of months. I asked if they had someone to watch their child when they go on their honeymoon and they said, “Yes, but we are going to bring our child with us. We think he might enjoy the ‘get away’, too!” I gently suggested to them that since they had someone to watch their child, it wouldn’t hurt to get away for a few days while they enjoyed some special “childless” time alone. At that suggestion, they both looked at me like two deer staring into the headlights of an oncoming car. “Well, we don’t want to deprive our child of a wonderful experience of being with his mother and father!”, they defensively retorted.

Unfortunately, this has become a very common attitude in our day and age among married couples that have become parents. Whether it is because of the pressure in our society to be “perfect parents”…or some false narrative deep within that has convinced us that our children can’t live a moment without us, many parents have allowed the child to take over the home and their relationship as husband and wife! When this happens, the couple’s parenting style has become toxic to the very foundation of the home…the marriage relationship!

It becomes toxic, because one or both of the parents makes the child more important than the marriage relationship. The parents schedule all their time around the child. The topics of conversation (when the couple does talk to each other) are centered on the child. There is no time for the couple because they are constantly bowing to the demands of the child. The child ends up robbing all the time and attention from the couple and in the end, there is nothing left for the couple to give to each other. Then when the child grows up and moves out of the house, the couple is left with just each other. The couple discovers that they are strangers living under the same roof, because they didn’t invest time into each other during the child rearing years…it was all put into the child!  That is why most divorces take place at the 20-year mark of a marriage when the children leave home.

While children are a tremendous blessing to a marriage, every couple needs to remember that they married each other “until death do them part”…not their children. Couples do not do their marriage or their children any favors by investing all their time into the children and neglect their time together as husband and wife.  It is very healthy for children to learn early that the most important person to Dad is Mom and to Mom is Dad.  As Mom and Dad demonstrate that by spending devoted and quality time with each other (without child interruption), the home actually becomes more loving and stable for everyone in the family!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Embracing Marital Difficulties

There are few natural wonders more startling in their beauty than Mount Everest, the highest spot on earth. Geologists believe that the Himalayas were created by the Indian continent crashing into Eurasia. If there were no collision between India and Eurasia, there would be no Himalayas. Without the wrenching force of continental shifting, the world would be a poorer place aesthetically.

In the same way, the “collisions” of marriage can create relationship of beauty. Beauty is often birthed in struggle. The points of impact may not be “fun” – in fact, they can make us feel like we’re bing ripped apart – but the process can make us stronger, build our character and deepen our faith.

Unfortunately, many people leave a marriage and break its sacred bonds because it simply gets too tough. Few people leave a marriage because it’s too easy! This tendency to avoid difficulty is a great failing that can and often does keep us in spiritual and relational infancy. The truth is, struggle in our marriages makes us grow stronger as individuals and as a couple…and in an interesting way, deepens our love for each other when we work out these difficulties together.

If your marriage is tough, understand that pain is involved in most transitions to something more beautiful…whether it is a caterpillar wrestling from it’s cocoon as a butterfly, a chick struggling to get out of its shell, two continents colliding to create a majestic mountain range, or a relationship enduring and working through difficulties only to love one another more on the other side of the struggle. Struggling successfully and profitably in your marriage brings a deeper love and joy than trouble-free living ever can.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Marriage Contracts vs. Marriage Covenants

Today many couples enter into a marriage relationship with the attitude, “If it doesn’t workout, we can always part our separate ways.” This is what I would call the “backdoor” or “escape hatch” to the covenant of marriage. Actually, any person or couple who enter into a marriage relationship with this mindset is not entering into a marriage covenant at all, but rather a “contractual business deal”. Let me see if I can explain the difference between a “covenant” and a “contract” and how each one plays out in a marriage relationship.

If you look up the word “contract” and “covenant” in today’s dictionary, you will be hard pressed to see much difference between the two definitions, but there is a stark difference and it lies within one’s attitude towards the other person.

A “contract” is an agreement between two parties who mutually agree to provide each other with certain benefits as long as the other party upholds their end of the agreement. That once one party of the contract ceases or fails to uphold their end of the contract, the other party is under no obligation to uphold their end of the deal. If that happens, the contracted relationship is then open for “renegotiation” or it is broken and each party goes their own way.

Therefore, a married couple that views their relationship as a contractual agreement is living with each other under a conditional basis. This attitude goes something like this: “As long as you do this for me, I will do that for you…once you stop doing that for me, I don’t have to do this for you.” Everything goes great as long as each person upholds his or her end of the bargain…but things begin to fall apart very quickly when one or both parties stop performing their “expected” duties.

A “covenant”, on the other hand, approaches each party with a completely different attitude. A covenant relationship is when two parties mutually agree to enter into a relationship and seeks out the other person’s best interest, regardless of the personal cost and/or sacrifice to self. This attitude looks like this: “I promise to do this for you and you have promised to do this for me. I will continue to do this for you regardless of your unwillingness or inability to hold up your promise to me.”

Our culture understands well the concept of “contracts”, but it has lost the true meaning of a “covenant”. Probably because we have fallen into such a self-centered, self-serving and selfish mindset of living our daily lives. No wonder we have such unhappy marriages and the divorce rate is so high. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but a “marriage covenant” will ALWAYS make for happier and longer lasting marriages than “marriage contracts” ever will!

Think about it, "...for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part." can only be truly fulfilled when you have the other person's best interest at heart, regardless of the cost to you...and not through the selfish and self-centered conditions of a contract!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Great Marriages Take Time!

It isn’t that our marriages are good or bad – they just are.  We grow numb toward each other by the monotonous drone of the routine in our relationship.

Kathleen and Thomas Hart put it this way: “Marriage is a long walk two people take together. Sometimes the terrain is very interesting, sometimes rather dull. At times the walk is arduous for both persons or for one. Sometimes the conversation is lively; at other times, there is not much to say. The travelers do not know exactly where they are going, nor when they will arrive.” Sometimes this numbing effect of “sameness” is due to the fact that this walk is longer for us than it was for our ancestors.

In past centuries, many marriages were cut short because women frequently died during childbirth. Men didn’t live as long as they do today, either. In 1870, a woman couldn’t count on her husband still being alive by the time their youngest child left home. In 1911, the average length of marriage was twenty-eight years; by 1967, it had risen to forty-two years. Today with medical advances and increasing life expectancy, more couples reaching their sixtieth or even seventieth wedding anniversary!

This relatively new phenomenon of being married for six or seven decades can pay rich dividends for our character development and spiritual lives. Marriage helps us to develop the character of God himself as we stick with our spouses through the good times and the bad. The spiritual meaning of marriage is found in persevering and maintaining that history together.

Generally speaking, it takes a decade for a couple to truly "create and form its being". When couples break up after just three or four years, they haven't even begun to experience what being married is really like. It's like climbing halfway up a mountain but never getting to the top to see the sights. You're in the middle of the quest, your consumed with the struggle, but it's much too soon to experience the full rewards. Assessing your marriage too soon is like expecting a baby to run a marathon. Becoming one with your spouse - in the deepest, most intimate sense - takes time. It's a journey through the good and the bad...and it never really ends. But if you will hang in there and persevere, the reward will be a deeper love for one another than you can ever possibly imagine!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Combating The Evils Of Wedding Planning Stress!

Being engaged and planning for that once in a life time wedding day is suppose to be a fun and romantic experience.  But most of the time all it does is put your relationship to the test. Because the planning process can be so stressful, couples often find themselves not enjoying the planning experience, or more importantly…each other!
Just to set the record straight, as the date of the wedding approaches, relational stress is normal. After all, you both are going through some rough transitional stages. Besides being frazzled from all the planning…you are probably getting anxious about the major life changes that lie ahead! Not to mention having to deal with annoying family members trying to get involved. Here are some suggestions that will go a long way in helping to ease the pain of your stress as you plan for your simple or fairytale wedding.

1. At least once a week, have a conversation or date that has nothing to do with the wedding. Don't even TALK about it! Go watch a movie, walk the beach, go bowling... anything that will distract you from the planning of your wedding. The first person who slips and mentions anything about the wedding has to pay for the date (or some other agreed upon consequence).

2. Take a day each week and have a "Wedding Conference Meeting" with each other. This is where you go over the budge, look at the "To Do List", talk about vendors, etc. Usually it will be the bride who takes the lead on this, but it will go a long way in keeping the lines of communication open and prevent any surprises and resentment from arising between the two of you.

3. If you find yourself becoming frustrated and irritated with one of his friends or family members, tell him how you feel, but let him deal with it. If he doesn't want to deal with it, don't get angry with his crazy aunt/mother/best friend, get angry with him for not dealing with the issue on your behalf. You need to remember that "blood is thicker than water" and you're not "blood", yet!  It isn't your place to confront these people, yet…and besides, they're more likely to listen to him than to you.

4. Always be honest with each other when you get angry or upset, but NEVER turn your anger into a war of "my family vs. your family". Stay focused on the problem at hand. For instance, if his mother is sending you over the "deep end" because of the way she keeps pushing for a specific reception location that you don't like or want, don't fight about how she has no respect for your desires, or that it is your wedding, not hers and that she has no right to tell you where to have the reception. Instead, leave your emotions at the door and discuss it for what it is - a need to control the size, cost, or location of the reception, etc.

5. When you start to notice that you are getting crankier and moodier, or you're having trouble sleeping at night, it's a sign you need to relax. Make an appointment to get pampered at a spa, get a massage...but do something that will relax you and refocus your thoughts on nothing for an hour or two.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Mirror, Mirror...On The Wall..."

What I have discovered after 30 years of marriage is that, unlike a single person, being married is like holding up a mirror to my imperfections. Being married has forced me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and stinky attitudes, while being challenged to grow and mature in my character and my love for my wife.

Kathleen and Thomas Hart wrote, “Sometimes what is hard to take in the first years of marriage is not what we find out about our partner, but what we find out about ourselves. As one young woman who had been married about a year said, ‘I always thought of myself as a patient and forgiving person. Then I began to wonder if that was just because I had never before gotten close to anyone. In marriage, when John and I began…dealing with differences, I saw how small and unforgiving I could be. I discovered a hardness in me I had never experienced before.’”

I have always thought of myself as reasonably patient and charitable – that is, until I got married and discovered how passionately annoyed I can become at pulling out empty ice cube trays. I grew up in a family that taught: If you take out an ice cube, you refill the tray before you put it back into the freezer. Now I’ll pull out a tray and find nothing more than half an ice cube – which I call an ice chip.

It was amazing how much such a small detail irritated me. I asked my wife, “How much do you love me?” “More than all the world,” she professed. “I don’t need you to love me that much,” I said. “I just want you to love me for seven seconds.” “What on earth are you talking about?” she asked. “Well, I timed how long it takes to fill an ice cube tray and discovered that it’s just seven seconds.”

It finally dawned on me that if it takes my wife just seven seconds to fill an ice cube tray, that’s all it takes me as well. Was I really so selfish that I was willing to let seven seconds’ worth of inconvenience become a serous issue in my marriage? Was my capacity to show charity towards my wife really that limited?

Indeed it was!

Being married is like constantly looking into a mirror and having revealed to you those flaws in your life that you never knew you had…but everyone else did!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wedding Day Emergencies!

During most the weddings that I have officiated, there has always been something that didn’t go quite according to plan.  Mostly they aren’t big things…just minor issues, but many of those minor issues could have been headed off with if a small “Wedding Emergency Kit” was packed.

Anyone can put this kit together, but with all the pressure that the bride is already going through in planning her special day, I would suggest it be someone else with a little more time on their hands.  This could be the responsibility of the of the Bride’s mother, one of the bride’s maids, little sister…anyone who can be trusted to get it all together.

Once the “Wedding Emergency Kit” is assembled, then make sure that whoever is responsible for the kit not only brings it to the ceremony, but also to the reception. It may be necessary for pictures after the ceremony and during the reception.

Here is a list of items you might want to consider putting into your “Wedding Emergency Kit”:
  1. Mini sewing kit
  2. Tooth Brush and toothpaste
  3. Aspirin (any other legally prescribed medication)
  4. Bottle of water (for washing down that aspirin)
  5. Straws (to hydrate without smudging lipstick)
  6. Band-Aids and/or Styptic Pencil (blood on a white wedding dress – not good)
  7. Tweezers
  8. Tissues (someone is going to start crying)
  9. Matching make-up (for touch ups)
  10. Spot Remover (“Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover” works GREAT!)
  11. Floss (don’t want to “Photoshop” the debris out from between your teeth!)
  12. Hair spray
  13. Clear nail polish (to keep stockings from running – hair spray works, too)
  14. Hairpins, elastic and safety pins
  15. Black book of phone numbers (to contact a supplier or an usher at the last moment.)
  16. Hem tape (in case no one knows how to sew)
  17. Breathe mints (“You may now kiss your smelly-breathed Bride!”)
  18. Superglue (for a quick fix! Note: WD-40, duct tape and bailing wire are optional)
  19. Food (keep your energy up!)
  20. Extra cash (you might want a burger or a Starbucks)
Of course, you can add or delete any of these suggested items, but I promise you, you won’t regret having this “Wedding Emergency Kit”. More than likely, you will need something in it!

Monday, February 13, 2012

"We Can Work Things Out On Our Own!"

Have you thought about pre-marriage counseling? The question may put you off, but before you move on to the next blog, why not take a moment and read what I am about to share with you and see if maybe you might not see the wisdom in considering such an idea. I do find it interesting that people will seek all kinds of advice and counseling when it comes to financial, career, and educational planning, but when it comes to receiving advice for relationship development, there seems to be so much resistance. 

So what keeps many couples from pursuing pre-marriage counseling?  Well, there are a couple of primary reasons, fears, excuses…or whatever you want to call them.

First, many couples believe that living with each other is enough to determine whether or not they are compatible enough to enter into the commitment of marriage. However, statistics show that divorces are actually higher among people who marry after having a de-facto relationship with each other. There is something about marriage that distinguishes from simply living together – which means that pre-marriage counseling is incredibly important to couples who have been cohabitating. Pre-marital counseling is a way of learning how to successfully make the transition from one kind of relationship to another.

Secondly, another big issue or fear is: “What if the issues brought up in counseling cause us to reconsider getting married?” You may get some surprises! It is possible that, even though you have lived together, some of your partner’s attitudes towards certain things that matter to the relationship (such as communication, gender roles, and children) have escaped your notice. Pre-marriage counseling will help you see differences that have an impact – not to discourage you from getting married, but to help you plan ways of overcoming or resolving them. Marriage is an art, and you will be honing your partner by developing relationship skills to increase the chances of a successful marriage.

Lastly, yes…there may be things that may come up that give reason for you or both of you to decide to postpone your wedding until they are resolved. Don’t be afraid to face these issues before you walk down the aisle. It is easier to work through some issues before the event, than when you are married and the stakes are far higher.

You must understand that your wedding is one day in your life, but your marriage is all the rest of the days that come after it. No other relationship comes close in terms of the challenges and triumphs of marriage. It is the most intimate relationship that you will ever choose to be a part of that is humanly possible.

If you are open to considering pre-marital counseling to help prepare you for marriage, then your chances for a great marriage increases. Being willing to look honestly and receive advice requires humility, and humility is one quality that creates success in life. Another name for humility is "teach-ability". If you and your partner are ready to learn new things about your relationship and how to make it the best it can be, then the world is your oyster.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Traditional Wedding Alternatives

While many people prefer to have a traditional wedding, you might want to do something particularly unusual…something, which you will find more memorable, and perhaps something that your guests will find particularly impressive as well. 

If you want to do something unique, there are plenty of options available to you and the only limit is really your imagination. You might even be interested in trying some extreme wedding scenarios, such as having your wedding performed underwater, in a hot air balloon, skydiving, roller coasters, etc.

There is nothing that says that you have to have your wedding ceremony performed in a church or chapel building. But even if you do desire a traditional wedding, you can still add your personal touches to your wedding ceremony and your wedding officiant should be willing to accommodate you.
You could also go for something with a more of a modern flavor to it, or something that emphasizes refinement and elegance. The ceremony itself can be a more involved with lots of music, special readings, unity ceremonies, blended family ceremonies, cultural traditions and more! Just a word of caution here…be sensitive to your guests, especially if they are sitting outside. You want them to enjoy your wedding…not endure it.
Finding the right setting for your wedding ceremony is important. You may want to consider wedding venues such as nice hotels, resorts, club houses, cruise ships, beaches, forests, parks, old missions, amusement parks…the locations are only limited by your imagination. 

Regardless of whether you want a traditional, unique or extreme wedding, the first rule is: Don't let anyone talk you into doing something you don't want to do! Follow your heart and the only person you need to make sure is comfortable with your ideas is your fiancé.
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Friday, February 10, 2012

“To Struggle, Or Not To Struggle…That Is The Question!”

One of the vows that a couple chose for their wedding ceremony included the lines: "I will laugh with you in the good times
 and struggle with you in the bad."

When it came time for the groom to repeat his vows, he successfully repeated the first half of the line correctly, "I will laugh with you in the good times…"

However, the nervous groom was not so exact in reciting the second half when he said, "…and struggle with you in the bed."

Completely unaware of what he just said, the groom innocently looked out at the wedding guest's who were laughing hysterically...which only made everybody laugh all the harder.

An instant officiant decision had to be made to either have the groom repeat the line or just let it go. By the time the laughter subsided; it was best to just let it go. Why embarrass him any further at suc a crucial point in the ceremony? Besides, a life-long promis to "struggle" with one's spouse in bed can indeed be a worthwhile vow!!  

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

“You Want How Much!?…For 20 Minutes!?”

Because of the expense and budget concerns in planning a wedding, I hear brides often lamenting over the cost of hiring a wedding officiant.  One bride even calculated that an officiant who charges $350.00 for 20 minutes of work makes $1,050.00 an hour!  Trust me…if that were true, I wouldn’t be here writing a blog! 

Unfortunately, inherent to the job of a wedding officiant is that people only see the end results (20-30 minutes worth) of his or her work on the day of the wedding.  On top of that, if your officiant is good, he/she can make what they do look very easy and effortless…making one wonder, “What was so hard about that that I had to pay $350.00?”

So allow me to pull up my iCal and let you take a peek at my typical schedule in preparing for one custom wedding ceremony…from booking the date to driving home after my duties are completed at the wedding ceremony.

        -  Initial inquiry and setting of an appointment to meet the couple: 15 min.
        -  Travel to meet with couple: Round trip – 30 min. to 1 hr.
        -  Initial Meeting time: 1 – 2 hours.
        -  Email and phone correspondence: 1 hour
        -  Writing of ceremony: 3 hours
        -  Ceremony revisions: 1 – 2 hours
        -  Travel to rehearsal: Round trip – 30 min. to 1 hr.
        -  Rehearsal: 1.5 hr.
        -  Travel on wedding day: Round trip 30 min. to 1 hr.
        -  WEDDING DAY: (early arrival, ceremony, photos, reception) 2 - 4 hours
        -  Travel home from reception: Round trip – 30 min. to 1 hr.

Now when you look at the 12 to 18 hours spent and divide that by the $350.00 fee, it actually works out to be $19.00 to $32.00 an hour.

In addition, when you hire a professional wedding officiant, you are hiring someone who will also be flexible enough to adjust, add or delete items from the ceremony as late as the rehearsal day.  Your professional wedding officiant will be handling the signing and mailing of your marriage license, dealing with surprises (both man-made and natural) during the ceremony, offering last minute vender referrals due to unexpected vendor cancellations or changes, and making those very uncomfortable “on the spot” announcements to the guests if the bride and/or groom decide not to go through with the marriage on the day of the wedding.

So, there you have it. Not bad for someone you absolutely need at your wedding in order to get married! How many other vendors at your wedding will you be paying less than $32.00 an hour, or less?

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Creatively Announce Your Engagement!

Would you like to announce your engagement in a way that is probably a lot more fun and interesting to your friends than announcing it on Facebook?  I found this on Huffington and thought it might offer a few creative ideas for those of you who aren’t into the “ordinary”.
1. The Funny Video

Who can resist opening up a video link from a friend with a description like "Penguins laughing!" or "Is this puppy drunk?" But when your pals click, they'll instead see a video of you simply saying, "He proposed." Video over. I know I'd crack up if a friend punked me like that. OK, if you want to extend the clip, you can tell the story of how the proposal happened and show off your new sparkler.
2. The Karaoke Song

This one takes some chutzpah (or a few drinks): Gather the girls and plan a karaoke night. Put in your song request, but don't share which tune you've chosen with your friends. Then, with your left hand in your pocket, take the stage to sing something wedding-themed, like "Going to the Chapel" or "White Wedding." For your big finish, take your hand out of your pocket so everyone can see your engagement ring.
3. The Pictogram

These are puzzles that use pictures to send a message. So instead of e-mailing "I'm Engaged," open up Microsoft Paint, slap on a picture of an eye + a picture of a man, + a picture of a car gas gauge (corny alert! Put the needle on full, since you'll be so full of love, aww...) + the letter D, and attach it to an e-mail to all your far-flung friends. Instruct them to sound out what they see--Eye Man Gauge D--and they'll eventually come to the right conclusion.
4. The Little Kid Who Can't Keep a Secret

Got a small child in your extended family? Of course you do. Whisper in her ear that you and your guy are getting married, and tell her it's a secret. Odds are, she won't be able to keep that info to herself and she'll start spreading the news in whispers. If she really is a good secret-keeper, try a different tactic: Tell her that it's her job to make sure everyone knows your good news by the end of the night. Don't be surprised if she spontaneously screams it out!
5. The Message T-Shirt

If you're changing your name, you can get a tank or T-shirt printed with "The Future Mrs. [your man's last name]." Show up to meet your friends wearing that but with a layer over it. At the right time, complain that you're warm and remove your outer layer. They'll figure it out fast.
6. The Facebook Photo Tease

Maybe you love the idea of posting a pic of your engagement ring on Facebook. Fine, fine. I aim to please, so here's a twist on that: Take a photo of your engagement ring, black out all but a tiny piece of it in Paint or Photoshop, and post that picture instead. Tag yourself. The next day, post the same pic of your ring with a different part of the ring visible and the rest of it obscured. Tag yourself again. Do this three more times, once a day. If no one else tags you in any photos during that period, those five pictures will show up in a row at the top of your profile. It'll be fun for your friends to literally put the pieces together.
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting Through that First Year of Marriage - Part 2

One issue that is so often misunderstood is the concept of loving your spouse unconditionally. Every couple enters into their marriage commitment wanting and willing to give 100% to their relationship.  With that commitment comes the desire to love each other unconditionally. But because many couples enters into “unconditional love” with one or two faulty views, loving unconditionally in their married relationship actually becomes destructive to their relationship. Those two faulty and unhealthy views are:

1.    Unconditionally love the your spouse by doing whatever you can to make your spouse happy and avoid anything that makes your spouse unhappy (even if it makes you unhappy).


2.    Unconditionally love for yourself by doing whatever you can to make yourself happy and avoid anything that makes yourself unhappy (even if it makes your spouse unhappy).

The first misconception is wrong because it does not take your own feelings into account, and the second misconception is wrong because it does not take your spouse's feelings into account.

The healthier approach to loving your spouse unconditionally is for both of you to take the feelings of each other into account simultaneously. The more productive approach in loving unconditionally within a married relationship would be to: Do whatever you can to make you and your spouse happy at the same time, and avoid anything that will make either you or your spouse unhappy.

This is a healthy compromise between the two unhealthier approaches because it recognizes that the feelings of both spouses are important and should be accommodated simultaneously in marriage.

Incidentally, the problem you may be having with scheduling time together for dates, as discussed in “Getting Through that First Year of Marriage – Part 1”, may be a reflection of the fact that you are not following the healthier understanding of loving unconditionally. Right now, as you are scheduling regular date time with each other, you may be discovering that when one of you wants to do something badly enough, the other simply allows it to happen without any objection.

If this continues on a regular basis, you will find out very quickly that this only leads to a slow and subtle drifting apart!  Eventually you both will wake up and discover that you are strangers living under the same roof, living separate lives and doing your own thing…and those scheduled dates have virtually stopped!

Don't let that happen!  Develop as a couple a healthy understanding of what it means to love your spouse unconditionally, and keep following it for the rest of your married lives.  If you do, you will be more in love with each other in your Golden Years than you are right now!
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Getting Through that First Year of Marriage - Part 1

The first year of marriage can be so painful that divorce seems like the only escape. That's why more people divorce in the first year of marriage than any other. But the first year can also be a couples' best year of marriage. From my perspective, this is also a tragedy because it means the remaining years are not as good.
One of the most important things that a couple must do from throughout their marriage is to continue to date each other!  Unless you take time to "date" after marriage, you will probably not be able to meet the needs that were met before your were married. If your emotional needs are affection, conversation, and recreational companionship, which were among those that you met for each other before marriage, those needs will stop being met if you don’t make dedicated time in your schedule to be with each other.
Many women consider affection and conversation as emotional foreplay for sexual fulfillment. If you do not spend much time talking to each other, and being affectionate, it is almost a guarantee you that your sexual relationship will suffer, too.
A date should be the time you set aside to meet each other's important emotional needs. Be enthusiastic about what you have planned to do together. If either of you think the time together is a waste of time, more than likely you are not meeting each other's needs.
When you dated before marriage, what you did on dates caused you to fall in love with each other. You need to continue to do the same thing now, or you will lose the feeling of love that contributes to you believing that your love is unconditional.
Your dates don't need to be exactly what you did before marriage. In fact, you may be able to meet each other's needs without actually "going out." But if you stay home, be careful that your time home together doesn’t turn into working on personal projects. Even if your children are married and out of the house, go out to give each other the attention you both need.
When you look at your schedules, you may find that there is no time for dates. Solution…put the dates in first, and then schedule everything else around them!  You will have solved your scheduling problem.
You may find that your dates don’t meet your needs the way it did before you were married. If you find yourself in this boat, then keep doing something different until your needs are met. You both are dynamic beings and you will constantly be changing.  What worked at one point in time may not always continue to work.
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to Prevent Hiring That "Nut-Job" Officiant!

Hiring an officiant can be a very frustrating process, especially if you are looking for one online!  We all pretty much offer the same thing and make similar claims on our websites.  The only thing that seems to really differ are the officiant fees.  So how do you go about choosing the right officiant for you? The following steps in picking an officiant will be much easier and less stressful if you don't wait until the last minute to choose your officiant! "Huffpost Weddings" suggests eight steps you should take in deciding on an officiant...and I agree!

1. Be sure they're legit. Find out what your local laws require for an officiant to legally perform weddings.  Given the growth of the 'online officiant license' industry, it's best to get 100 percent OK from the township in order to avoid finding out you're not really married because the township doesn't recognize their license.

2. Ask your wedding experts for suggestions. A wedding coordinator will certainly have a list of credited, legal officiants for you to consider, and you'd get the benefit of your planner's experiences with that officiant. You'll have it on good authority that a certain officiant is wonderful and great to work with, or that a certain one is 'quirky.'

3. Don't just book an officiant based on what you see and read on a website. Always schedule an in-person interview, so that you can shake hands, assess the vibe between you, and ask lots of questions. "We rejected a few officiants who gave us the 'this is how I do it' routine, and booked the one who asked us what we wanted," says one recent bride. "We knew we wanted to customize our ceremony, and this officiant was willing to listen to us."

4. Check out the scripts. Most wedding officiants will be able to show you sample scripts of wedding ceremonies they've conducted, as well as lists of suggested readings and songs you might use in your ceremony. These might be in printed book form or as PDFs. Reviewing these gives you an idea of the officiant's style and range of ceremony content. Again, if you get a single script and a scowl, with a 'this is how I do it,' this is likely not the officiant for you.

5. Ask the officiant to read out loud. If the officiant has passed the first few tests, ask him or her to read out loud a small portion of a ceremony script. Some officiants are better public speakers than others. You want to book the officiant who speaks well, not one who delivers in monotone or stumbling, bumbling delivery.

6. Ask what the officiant will wear. Bright purple robes might make you run for the door, but most legitimate officiants will be happy to say, 'a dark suit,' or 'white robes' or show you photos of the ceremonial robe and sash you could expect.

7. Ask if you can customize the ceremony. Some officiants are quite strict about what they will and won't allow -- and some houses of worship require you to choose from their approved song list. So it's not always the officiant's personal fault that a rigid list of what's allowed is in front of you. But still, you want to make sure you can co-create a ceremony you love.

8. Check your gut. Does this officiant make you smile? Do you feel comfortable with this person? Or does he remind you of a scary professor? When you find The One, you just know...