A simple thing you can do to insure a healthy marriage…


Os Hillman

Check out this amazing statistic:
“While 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, and 78 percent of second marriages end in divorce, less than 1 percent of couples who pray together daily end their marriages.

My wife and I have been married 3 ½ years. I am thankful that my wife has a passion for God and has a powerful prayer life every day in her life. She starts her day at 5AM. We meet together at 7 to read a devotional book together and then Proverbs and a few other things I pick out. Then we pray together and we always pray the Jabez prayer and the Lord’s Prayer.

Taking that time together shuts out the devil from our relationship and allows us to focus on what is important.

The devotional book we read was written by my good friends, David and Teresa Ferguson. The book is called Never Alone: devotions for couples. It is one of the best books for couples I have ever read.

Each day they cover 52 topics to cover an entire year. Topics like acceptance, admonition, appreciation, sex, forgiveness, trust, faith, honor and so on. It’s amazing how often God speaks to us about issues we struggle with in our marriage. It seems that David and Teresa struggled with the same issues. I often hear that same comment about my TGIF devotional.

So, if you are married, I encourage you to get this book. When you order it, you will also get a free download of an interview I did with David and Teresa. Click here to learn more.

Becoming a Digital Grandparent


Paula Span

When it comes to warnings about limiting kids’ screen time, grandparents are, well, grandfathered in.

Emerging from a theater on a recent Sunday, I turned on my phone and found a flurry of texts from my daughter. My 2-year-old granddaughter had just smashed her thumb in a closing restaurant door.

Wincing, I read on:

They were headed for an urgent care clinic.

They were waiting for X-rays.

The thumb was broken and needed a splint.

My granddaughter, who lives in Brooklyn, FaceTimes with her other grandparents out West almost every Sunday, a way to help bridge the distance. I live only about an hour away and serve as her day care provider every Thursday, so I haven’t felt the same need to video chat.

But this was probably the most dramatic event of her young life. My daughter, filling me in by phone afterward, said that Bartola (a family nickname and a nod to the beloved former Mets pitcher Bartolo Colón) wanted to show me her splint. So: FaceTime.

She appeared on my phone, holding up her small hand with an enormous, bandaged thumb that resembled the Facebook “like” symbol.

Bartola: I broke my thumb!

Bubbe (it’s Yiddish for grandma): Ouch, ouch, ouch. That must have hurt.

Bartola: I cried, but then I calmed down.

Bubbe: You were very brave.

She explained that at the doctor’s office, she’d gotten not one but two lollipops. Did that help? Affirmative.

With that conversation, I joined the 38 percent of American grandparents, according to a new AARP survey, who sometimes or often use video chat to communicate with their grandkids. Many more told the researchers they like the idea, even if they haven’t adopted it yet. Forty-five percent of us sometimes or often stay in touch by text; a third use email and 27 percent use Facebook. We are becoming digital grandparents.

And we appear to love it. My own highly unscientific poll found enormous enthusiasm for staying in touch with far-flung grandchildren through digital platforms.

How can Vivian Carasso, who lives in Sarasota, Fla., see and hear her 11-year-old granddaughter in Portugal play the “Star Wars” theme on the piano, and applaud the performer in real time? She relies on FaceTime.

How can Nancy Masson, in upstate New York, virtually attend a heavy metal concert with her teenage grandson in Massachusetts? She follows his Instagram account. “I didn’t want to embarrass him or make him feel self-conscious,” she said, so she asked if he objected. Nope! “He said, ‘That’s fine; you keep right on doing it.’”

When Rosie Cantu travels from San Antonio to visit her 18-month-old granddaughter in Iowa, “the baby comes to me without any hesitation,” she said. “I believe it’s because of all the contact we have through FaceTime,” which allows them to coo at each other almost nightly.

Even non-distant families stay in closer contact with technology. Nancy Kolodny’s 10-year-old grandson lives near her in Norwalk, Conn., but he recently received a wearable device called a GizmoWatch as a birthday gift. Parents can program it to allow kids too young for cellphones to call or text a few preapproved contacts.

Now that he can reach her directly, without a parent as intermediary, “it opens up conversations that I’m not sure would happen otherwise,” Ms. Kolodny reported. “Last week, he texted me: ‘Can you come over? I miss seeing you.’”

I did hear from one naysayer, who thought her toddler granddaughter already spent too much time with electronic devices, thank you. This grandma lived nearby, so she could maintain a close relationship without them.

But despite the many warnings about the effects of “screen time” on young children, the experts I consulted turned out to be partisans of real-time digital communication for grandparents.

“I’m bullish on video chatting,” said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, who directs the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “It can enhance bonding and recognition.”

Dr. Christakis helped develop the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations that parents limit children’s exposure to screens, because of research associating TV-watching with later attention problemsand other health and behavioral issues.

But the academy guidelines, he noted, exempt video chat, which is inherently interactive and doesn’t involve the same sped-up pace, overstimulation or passivity as, say, watching cartoons. “I don’t think it should be considered screen time at all,” he said. “It’s something different.”

Though babies under a year old probably won’t engage much via Skype or FaceTime, Dr. Christakis said, he agreed that video chat had worked well for my conversation with Bartola. “It was enriched by her being able to see your facial expressions and your being able to see her splint,” he said. “Facial expressions are incredibly important” — it’s why we use emojis.

Even parents with strict no-screen policies make an exception for video chat, said the developmental psychologist Elisabeth McClure, who led one of the few studies to date, surveying 183 parents of infants and toddlers in the Washington, D.C., area. Eighty-five percent of participants used it, and more than a third used it weekly — primarily, they said, to stay connected to grandparents.

Dr. McClure is living in Denmark now and regularly uses FaceTime herself (starting in her hospital room after delivery) to keep her two young children in touch with family in the States. “It’s not for entertainment or education; it’s about building relationships,” she said.

No longer a special event requiring an appointment, video chat has become a way kids can share everyday events with faraway families. They may want to show grandpa a block tower or a drawing, a tooth that fell out or what the tooth fairy brought.

Dr. McClure and her research team have watched families find imaginative ways to use the technology, dancing and singing together, reciting the piggies rhyme while a parent squeezes the child’s toes, playing hide-and-seek while a parent follows the child around with the phone. “Families are figuring out how to act as the arms and legs of the grandparents,” Dr. McClure said. “It’s just magical.”

I wondered about privacy concerns as children grew older. Would they resist contact with grandparents, feeling spied on via Instagram or coerced into video chatting? But Dr. McClure felt those were the same boundary issues teenagers have always learned to negotiate. “It’s part of growing up,” she said.

And Dr. Christakis noted that children who have grown up with digital communications may have a very different take on privacy. “They don’t have the same expectations or place the same value on it,” he said. Besides, “it’s actually good advice: Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want Grandma to see.”

Of course, digital contact has its limits; some experiences lie beyond the reach of phones and tablets. Lucky Bubbe: I got to see Bartola’s splint in person. I smooch her bumps and bruises and catch her as she hurtles down the playground slide. We share French toast for lunch.

Ms. Carasso, who has grandchildren in Australia as well as Portugal, feels grateful for video chat. “It makes it bearable to be so far apart,” she said.

“But I can’t reach out and give a hug or kisses, and I miss that terribly.”

If Love Requires Effort, Was It Meant To Be?


Kyle Benson

Do you remember Cinderella?

That blond princess whose miserable life was instantly transformed by her gorgeous-smooth-move-well-dressed-billionaire prince charming.

Well, I never knew her. She sounds like an evil step-daughter.

But I do know Cindy.

Cindy’s friends were telling her about this guy she might like. His name was Ryan, and he looked like David Beckham.

The next night Cindy and her friends went to one of his professional games. Her friends introduced them afterwards..

He took her hand, kissed it, and looked into her eyes.

“Next time we meet, it will be just you and me,” he said.

That did it. She was swept off her feet.

As they got to know each other, the intensity grew. They seemed to deeply understand one another. They enjoyed the same things; food, working out, and exotic beach towns. They both thought, the slipper fits!

It was like a damn Disney movie.

After a few months, Ryan became moody. Actually, he had always been moody, but it didn’t show at first. This bothered Cindy. She wanted to talk about what was bothering him, but he got irritated when she tried.

“Just leave me alone.”

Cindy felt shut out.

Once in awhile they planned a romantic night on the town. Sometimes Ryan didn’t want to go. Other times, Cindy would endure his silence over the candlelit dinner. Anytime she would say something, he would show his disappointment by saying something like, “I thought you knew me.”

Their friends, knowing how much they cared about each other, urged them to work on this problem. But the couple felt sad and frustrated.

Why should we work on it? If we were right for each other, we would be able to understand each other’s needs. We wouldn’t have any problems.

The relationship ended.

One of the most destructive beliefs for any relationship is this thought process.

“If we need to work at it, there’s something seriously wrong with our relationship.” – Aaron Beck

In essence, choosing a romantic partner is choosing a set of problems. Believing that being compatible with your partner means everything should come naturally is a sure way to naturally end any relationship you will have.

“Every [relationship] demands an effort to keep it on the right track; there is constant tension…between forces that hold you together and those that tear you apart.” – John Gottman

The belief that relationship success should not need effort robs relationships of the fire they need to burn. So many relationships turn their hot and passionate fire of love into ashes, just because the couple believes that being in love means never having to do anything demanding.

This toxic belief shows up in two different ways:

Mind Reading

Love Requires Effort

Part of the no-effort relationship fairytale is the belief that couples can read each other’s minds.

My partner knows what I think, feel, and need, and I know the same for them.

The truth is, all couples are incapable of reading minds. Just the other day, my girlfriend said, “Kyle, I need more space.”

I’ve heard that before.

My heart dropped. I went into shock. Was our relationship doomed? I couldn’t believe it. I thought everything was going so well. We were laughing until our stomachs hurt, kissing all the time…. what did I do wrong?

Finally I summoned the courage to ask, “What do you mean?”

“Your fat ass is taking up too much of our chair,” she said as she kissed me.

Oh. I’m so glad I asked.

In Nicholas Epley’s book Mindwise, he asked couples to guess their partner’s self-worth, abilities, and preferences on house chores on a scale from 1-5. He found that couples were accurate 44% of the time, despite believing they were right 82% of the time.

Even more time together doesn’t help. Rather, longer term relationships “create an illusion of insight that far surpasses actual insight.”

The quality of your relationship depends on your ability to understand your partner, and vice versa. The secret to understanding each other better seems not to come from mind reading, but through the hard work of putting our partners in a position where they can tell us their minds openly and honestly.

It’s quite delusional to believe in mind reading. But it makes sense when many couples who believe this also believe that a couple should share 100% of each other’s view on everything.

We Agree on Everything

This belief ties well with reading minds. If you can read each other’s mind, then you don’t need communication; you can just assume your partner sees the world the way you do.

Even though you two speak the same language, you both grew up in a sea of different experiences. You were given separate dictionaries on life. This makes it impossible to share ALL of each other’s assumptions and expectations.

Take Leah and David, for instance. Leah and David had just finished undergrad and were planning on getting married. David, a minimalist, went and signed a lease for a small apartment outside of Portland. He thought she’d be delighted.

When he opened the door, she flipped.

Leah had been living in tiny-ass apartments her entire life. Married couples were supposed to live in nice houses with new cars in the garage.

She felt betrayed. He felt confused. The relationship didn’t last much longer.

A couple may agree on traditional roles or have similar views, but that’s very different from assuming it as an entitlement.

Love Requires Effort

A no-effort relationship is not a great relationship; it’s a doomed relationship. It takes effort to communicate and understand each other. Love takes work. It takes work to expose and resolve conflicting beliefs and expectations.

However, that doesn’t mean there is no “happily ever after.”

It’s more like, “they worked happily ever after.”

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