Now is the Time to Communicate With Young Ones

NOW IS THE TIME TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUNG ONES

Jason Osmond

Young children don’t measure your love for them by how much money you put into their college funds, how clean the house is, or even the number of gifts you give them. As Dr. Anthony P. Witham once said, children have their own way of spelling “love”: T-I-M-E. Here are a few pieces of communication advice to make sure you are there for your children.

Take the time—trust me, you have it

Take some time every day and spend it with your kid. If you have more than one kid, make sure they each get some one-on-one time. Block time out in your busy schedule if you have to—just make sure you do it every day. Even if it’s only 15 minutes per day, it can make a huge difference in building good, quality communication habits with your kids and do wonders for your relationship.

Trust me: you can spare 15 minutes. You’re not that busy (even if you feel otherwise).

It’s vital that your attention is focused on your kids while spending time with them. Slow down and be present. That means putting your phone down, shutting your laptop, turning off that show, and devoting your undivided attention. You’ll be surprised how much of an impact it will make.

“When you’re overwhelmed with your responsibilities, it’s easy to toggle into automatic pilot with your kids,” says Dr. Harley A. Rotbart. “But if your mind is elsewhere during the precious moments you’ve worked hard to preserve, you have lost your kids’ childhood just as surely as if you hadn’t spent the time with them at all.”

Don’t just hear them out: listen

Your kids know when you’re really listening and when you’re just giving them the absent-minded nod followed by the “Uh huh, sure, honey,” run-around routine. When you take the time to be with your kids, make sure you’re listening. Open your ear holes and soak it up. It will not only help you build stronger bonds with your kids, but it will also make your children feel valued and loved.

Ask your kids about their feelings on things they care about. And you don’t know what your kids are into, now might be a good time to find out. Have fun with it. Laugh a little. Play and joke a bit.

But remember, you’re listening. This isn’t a time to lecture. This is a time to teach. You don’t have to do much at all besides pay attention and listen. And you don’t have to agree with everything your kids say to be a good listener, either. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about showing them that you love them. Make an effort to open up your ears and shut your mouth.


Do not tell your kids what you think they should feel, and don’t just assume you know what they’re feeling either. Let them express those feelings in their own way and in their own time.


Patience is a key element in showing that you care. And whatever you do, don’t minimize their feelings by saying things like “That’s dumb,” or “You’re silly, you shouldn’t feel like that,” or “Don’t worry. You’ll get it when you’re older.” Their feelings are real and should be considered and respected.

“When kids feel valued, loved, heard, and respected, they develop an identity based on these responses,” says Támara Hill, child/adolescent therapist. “Most children don’t demand much; they simply want to have a place in the world and in the lives of those they love.”

Don’t just be a role model: be a good one

When your children are grown, they’ll put you into one of two categories. Either you’ll fit into the “I want to be just like them,” category, or the “I don’t want to make the same mistakes,” category. These are also known as the “good role model” and “bad role model” categories.

Growing up, my dad’s most famous saying around the house was, “Do what I say, not what I do.” As teens, this was funny, especially when Dad got in trouble with Mom for saying it. When you’re dealing with little kids who can’t always communicate vocally, however, your example is paramount.

Use tones and words you want your children to mimic, because they will. If you’re yelling at your partner in front of your kids, don’t be surprised with the yelling starts between siblings. If you laugh when you say, “Stop, that’s not right,” you’re going to confuse your kids. Be clear and precise. Use words they will understand to describe what you are feeling. Doing that will help your kids to learn to get in touch with their own feelings and express them the same way.

Being a good parent is all about showing your children you love them. This comes with taking the time to be there, knowing how to listen, and being a good role model. If you can master those things, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding as a parent. Don’t miss out on their lives. They don’t stay kids for too long.

What to Expect After the Wedding

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER THE WEDDING

sheqoz

Love in the Air:

Love is beautiful and the best gift anyone can give and receive. When two people decide they are compatible enough to spend the rest of their lives together, they commit as husband and wife. They make wonderful future plans and begin their journey right after the wedding.

The beginning of a happy union

What to Expect:

In this journey, there are things to love and hate about each other, rules to be agreed upon, which will govern the new relationship. Although the good times will always outdo the grays, there will be moments of insecurity. Whereas most people might think infidelity is the only giant to be overcome, there are more frequent hurdles to overcome.

Committing to a marriage is more than just fidelity. It  involves standing together through thick and thin. Accepting each other’s weaknesses that were not noticeable before exchanging the vows, laughing and sometimes crying together.

Reality in Marriage:

Things really change after the honeymoon. In the awakening into reality, many give up thinking there’s someone better out there for them. The fact is, nothing in life grows overnight. Marriage isn’t an exception here. Every good thing under the sky takes time to build.

There will be days your husband/wife will want to be alone. That doesn’t mean she/he has stopped loving you. Everyone needs some alone time to quiet their mind. It is healthy and necessary for a happy relationship. The best you can do is allow them the space.

Simple decisions will become almost difficult. In marriage, they say two become one. Well, this is easier said than done. It is not easy to blend two completely different personalities – not with each partner expecting the other to become more of what they fantasized.

You don’t get to choose your living room color by yourself. If you had a certain pattern on your spending habits, you cannot continue the same. Everything must meet right in the middle of both your choices. You basically do away with the freedom to make major decisions.

Important Considerations:


It is normal to disagree in marriage

This is where balance is very important because if one feels over-powered, they are more than likely to seek other options. You’ve heard people having a big wedding only to divorce a few months or years later. That happens because of unrealistic expectations which couples have when they exchange their vows.

No matter how compatible you are with each other, there will definitely be days when you will experience conflicts. In such situations, you must learn how to maturely deal with disagreements before they get out of hand.

It is unrealistic to expect things to always flow smoothly. You will experience small and, sometimes, huge cracks along the pavement. If you are committed to making your marriage work, forgiveness, patience and apologies are very important.

Avoid Breaking Up:

I believe most divorces are due to arrogance of one or both partners. When nobody is willing to take responsibility for their mistake and work toward being a better person, a marriage union turns into a roller coaster of unsolved issues, leaving both partners wanting out.

To keep and grow a healthy relationship, discuss issues with your partner as they arise and watch very carefully the words coming out of your mouth. Careless use of words can break a relationship to a point of no repair. If you listen more and speak less everything will work out very well because it gives you time to think and choose what to say.

Things can get a little bit rocky during the first years of marriage. Learning to adjust into the commitment and giving away most of the freedom is the biggest culprit. With patience, however, everything starts settling down.

A Mother’s Letter to Her Daughter

A MOTHER’S LETTER TO HER DAUGHTER

sheqoz

Girl Child Unaware of Challenges Ahead:

Dear daughter, now that you’ve come into the world, beautiful and delicate, I must protect you and teach you the hash truth concerning the things which await you. You must keep your head up and put on your armour. You must stand and fight, little angel.

Women have fought for equal rights for generations. The battles have been hard-fought, but we still have a long way to go. Our victories are surrounded by uncertainty. Women from different calibers can tell of their challenges because it’s still just a dream. A dream which perhaps your generation will make real.

Because you are a girl and one day will become a woman, you have forces to fight. Pressure to overcome. Inequalities to push through. Stigma and abuse to endure throughout your life. You must gear up with confidence and strength and stay vigilant. Above all, focus on yourself first and seek guidance from Almighty God.

They have it all wrong:

Women are thought to be very strong but they are more fragile than a bird’s egg. They smile and hide their sorrows from their children and the world. They give hugs even with a hundred knives sticking from their back. They drown silently in their own tears. Only a woman can look at her child from her dying bed, wipe away the tears on the child’s face and tell them she’s okay.

Because they are the backbone holding a family together, they sacrifice everything to see others happy. Although their efforts often go unnoticed, they are like a nonstop clock, only better because they never run out of energy. “When the time comes, don’t forget to take care of yourself too, my little angel.”

Invest in Yourself First:

A trusting woman can spend the last penny from her retirement benefit to build the man in her life only to watch him walk out on her and the children in search of the woman of his dream. Left with little hope and strength, she looks at her children, smiles and assures them that it’s going to be alright.

She gathers herself together, gets down on her knees and talks to God. At dawn she rolls her sleeves up and starts all over – because she has the strength of a woman. “Never get into this trap my little angel; build yourself, you will never get disappointed. An independent woman is a powerful soul.”

Too Many Hats will Ruin your Hairstyle:

Too much work will wear your spirit out.

A woman wears many hats – a wife, a mother, a cook, a cleaner, a nurse, an organizer, a prayer worrior, a provider, among others. Some call her superwoman, others focus on what was left undone. She does all the feminized work done more often by women than by men.

She thinks, worries, pays attention and delegates but her efforts are largely invisible. She gets almost no recognition or pay. Everything overwhelms her, but she only cries when nobody is watching. She understands she’s the backbone holding her family together. “You cannot do it all, my little angel. Do what you can and never be afraid to ask for help.”

Believe in Yourself:

A woman supports and validates a man’s dreams but she has to fight for her own. Do not give away your power to someone else. You can do anything if you lead. You do not have to follow lest you end up falling off the cliff.

A woman loves without ceasing because she’s made of pure love. The heart has misled many; sadly some are not here to tell their story. Don’t close your eyes when you kiss a man. They shut your mind down if you do. Open them wide and see beyond the kiss. “If you ever fall in love, use your brain to love and not your heart, my little angel.”

Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut:

A woman is often mistreated, abused and stepped on. Sadly she forgives and hopes for a brighter day – because she understands that she’s the torch-bearer of peace and she cannot afford to drop it down lest it burns out. Never misuse your strength, my little angle. It is OK to walk out and close the door behind you. “I understand it might be scary but, remember, you are stronger than you think.”

Women are beautifully and wonderfully made. They are a masterpiece and not an object. You do not have to buy somebody’s love by offering your body. Once you give in, the desire goes with their promises. If anyone is worthy, they will wait and love you until you’re ready and of sound mind to know exactly what you want.

Take baby steps with life, little angel. Do not rush through. Don’t exhaust yourself. Live for the moment, put God first, do the things that make you happy and do not expect from anyone but your Creator. Climb to the top of the mountain first, then drop a rope to help others get there. It is not selfish, it is the way of life.

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” Maya Angelou. Remain under His wings, my little angel. You will be safe there now and after this life. I will not always be here with you; one day the winds will carry me into the unknown.
However, God will forever hold you in His arms. He is the one true God who is the beginning and the end. He is our Heavenly Father who controls the unseen winds. In Him we are safe in this walk of life and the unknown.

Keep this letter close to your heart and remember to share your wisdom with your friends. Tell them it is a letter from mothers to their daughters.

Look at Your Partner Through Rose-Colored Glasses (Seriously)

LOOK AT YOUR PARTNER THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES (SERIOUSLY)

Sanaa Hyder

When you started dating your partner, you probably had glowing things to say about them. You noticed every gesture (flowers for no reason!) and every sweet compliment. Fast forward a few years, you both may have collected hurtful emotional bumps and bruises along the way, making it hard to focus on the good things. It’s easy to fall into a rut and imagine that your partner doesn’t care, even if they still do. Does this negative perspective hurt a relationship? Let’s take a look at what the research says.

Dr. Gottman defines the negative perspective as an overriding sense of negative regard, where even neutral or positive actions from your partner are skewed in your mind to be perceived as negative. This often manifests itself in feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, and eventually one or both partners distancing themselves from each other. When your feelings are predominantly negative, every action, bid for attention, joke, or mistake can be interpreted through this new negative lense – whether or not it deserves to be seen that way.

If you find yourself constantly questioning your partner’s intentions, not giving them the benefit of the doubt, you may be experiencing the result of weeks or months of being in the negative perspective.

Dr. Gottman suggests that it’s never too late to reinvigorate your relationship with positive feelings for one another. This requires a deliberate effort to think about your partner in a more favorable light. Successful couples create a culture of goodwill in their relationship and purposefully strive to see each other through rose-colored glasses.

But what does positivity in a relationship actually look like? Here are some ideas for how to start thinking the best of your partner.

“I love it when…”
Try starting your sentences (even complaints) with “I love it when.” For instance, instead of “Why haven’t we gone on a date recently?” try this: “I love it when we go out together. Remember when we went to that restaurant that night? I had so much fun. Let’s do that again!”

Write down your appreciations
Try making a list of all the small things you notice your partner do or say. Dr. Gottman encourages couples to catch their partner doing something right. Start in the morning and continue through the evening as if you’re tracking their good habits. For instance: made coffee, poured my cereal, called me in the afternoon, paid the bill after I forgot.

An awareness of these small moments builds a habit of mind of seeing your partner in a positive way. When it is time to voice your appreciation, it will be easier to recall one moment out of many. Of course, they may also be negative moments, but try to actively engage your mind in remembering the good ones.

Build up your partner
Find moments to tell your partner about how amazing, brave, and sexy a certain behavior has been. Here are some examples.

Did they collect old clothing for donation? “Babe, you’re so thoughtful and giving  – not just to this family!” or, “Thanks for coming out shopping with me on Wednesday, even though it was boring for you, I’m glad you came.”

Your attitude is your responsibility. You have the opportunity to adjust the narrative you want to tell yourself about the relationship. This narrative is important because it affects the intensity of your arguments, and ultimately your long term-success as a couple.

Now, after doing these exercises, it becomes easier to state your complaint or positive need, because you have a perspective of your partner which may be more akin to the perspective they hold of themselves.

For instance, when you are in the positive perspective, you are more inclined to recall that you are asking someone for whom you’ve built up regard and love. Within the context of appreciating your partner’s efforts all day, it feels easier to to approach your best friend with your needs from a place of warmth and affection.

If you were not paying attention to your partner’s actions all day, your request might gloss over their good behavior. Your partner may think you haven’t noticed their efforts at being caring and attentive. Unknowingly, you create a culture of negativity. So, paying attention matters. Sound like a lot to keep in mind? Maybe at first, but remember that the Gottman motto is “small things often”  -  this includes noticing the small things and appreciating them.

To build a culture of good feelings in your home and in your relationship, you have to start taking responsibility for your mindset. Where the mind goes, words and actions will follow.

10 Reasons You & Your Spouse Need a Romantic Getaway

10 REASONS YOU & YOUR SPOUSE NEED A ROMANTIC GETAWAY

Nurturing Marriage

Just think of it, when was the last time you two got away, together? If it has been awhile, this list will motivate you to book your next trip today!

1. Getaways are romantic.

Just think of it, a chance to be alone with your spouse, without kids, work, household responsibilities and all the stress those things carry with them. No matter where you two go on your getaway, just being alone will bring back the aura and romance of your honeymoon. 

2. Getaways are like mega-dates. 

Seriously. On a getaway, even a short one, you can fit what would have been eight date nights into one weekend! You could take a pottery class, go hiking, eat out, see a play, shop for clothes, dance, hot tub, and more. However, it is important to note that big getaways without regular dates in between will not offer the nurturing that your marriage needs. You need both. Getaways don’t make up for a year of no dates. 

3. Getaways help you strengthen your friendship as husband and wife.

You can finally do fun things together. All day. Every day. You can laugh, play, joke, work-out, and experience new things – together. Just like the best friends that you are. 

4. Getaways give you time and space for romantic sex.

We don’t need to say much more, do we? 

5. Getaways offer you a chance to talk about more than day-to-day life. 

When you getaway, you are together 24/7 for a few days at a time. You can talk about goals, dreams, big plans, hard things, struggles, and more. You can flirt and ask each other questions like you did back when you were dating. You can talk about people you observe, the adventures you have, or where you want to eat. Getaways give you a great chance to talk about everything and anything under the sun. Oh, and they are a great place to try out the 36 Questions That Will Help You Fall in Love With Your Spouse Again. 

6. Getaways give you a break from the hum-drum of every day life.

You and your spouse need something to look forward to. Something that is just for the two of you. A time and place where you can do things you never get to do together. It’s so nice to relax in a bed that someone else makes and to eat food that you don’t have to prepare yourself. Which leads us to #7…

7. Getaways give you a chance to recharge. 

There is something renewing about getting away – stepping away from all the stress of everyday life. It’s important to try to unplug a bit too, so that you don’t waste your whole getaway on your phone or tablet. 

8. Getaways help you create happy memories. 

All marriages need huge positive deposits into their emotional bank accounts. Getaways will give you huge boosts to your marital self-esteem. Plus, you will create thousands of happy memories and inside jokes. Take lots of pictures, and look back on them from time to time, bringing a back a whole bunch of “remember when…” statements and laughs. 

9. Getaways give you a chance for adventure.

Plan your getaways together, as husband and wife. Take turns picking where you want to go and what you want to do. Having adventures together, which invites the novelty of trying new things, will bring back a host of happy, butterfly feelings for each other. Plus, everyone has a deep sense of adventure that needs to be unleashed from time to time, right? 

10. Getaways help you fall in love all over again. 

It’s true. Getaways are the perfect combination to help you and your spouse fall in love again. They take you out of your normal home, your normal stresses, and your normal marital conflicts and offer you a fresh chance, a new start. A chance to treat each other with respect and kindness, to show extra love and affection, and to really enjoy each other in intimate settings. 

Yes, a romantic getaway is just what you and your spouse need. 

The Power of Couple Resolutions

THE POWER OF COUPLE RESOLUTIONS

Nurturing Marriage

Happy New Year on Tuesday!

Can you believe it is 2019?  Seriously, where did the time go?

With the new year comes a fresh start, a clean slate, and new opportunities and adventures. We’ve all probably packed on a few extra pounds during the holidays and it’s time to get to work on those New Year’s resolutions!

What are your resolutions and goals for the year?
What do you want to accomplish?
Who do you want to become?

Have you shared those goals and resolutions with your spouse?  Have you set goals and resolutions together?

The Power of a Personal Cheerleader

Whatever your goals may be, sharing them with your spouse could very well be the key to seeing them successfully completed within the next twelve months. Studies have shown that making your goals known to a trusted friend dramatically increases your success rate. This is largely because when you make your goals known, you feel a sense of accountability. There’s a little extra drive and motivation to reach the finish line when you know someone’s there waiting for you. 

Who better to choose as your trusted friend than your spouse! He or she already know you inside and out and understand you better than anyone else. They know your strengths and weaknesses and are very much invested in you and your personal development.

You spouse can and should be your greatest cheerleader! They can pick you up when you’re down and remind you of the vision you have for your future self. They can provide much-needed motivation to keep you moving forward with your goals when things get hard. 

I once read the story of a couple I greatly admire. In an interview about their marriage, the wife commented that her husband always gave her “wings to fly.” What an awesome compliment! That is something my wife and I have been aiming for ever since. 

So here’s my first challenge to you – sit down with your spouse and let them know what your New Year’s resolutions are. Ask him or her for support and help so you can accomplish those resolutions. Ask them to help keep you on track when you’re slipping, and offer to do the same for them.

​By being each other’s cheerleaders, not only will you each find more success in reaching your individual goals, but you’ll grow closer together in the process. Then, definitely go out on a fancy date and celebrate your successes together!

​Happy New Year! Can you believe it is already 2016? With the new year comes a fresh start, a clean slate, and new opportunities and adventures. We've all probably packed on a few extra pounds during the holidays and it's time to get to work on those New Year's resolutions (btw, did you know that by far the most common resolution is to lose those extra pounds?). What are your resolutions and goals for the upcoming year? What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to become? Have you shared those goals and resolutions with your spouse? Have you set goals and resolutions together?

The Power of Couple Resolutions

Along with individual goals, there is great power in setting couple resolutions together. My wife and I have found that there are few things that drive unity more than working together towards a common goal. And there is incredible satisfaction and fulfillment found in achieving goals together as a team.

Your couple resolutions can be anything you can dream up! Here are a few ideas of couple-goals to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Go on at least one romantic getaway during the year (plan it well in advance so you can enjoy the anticipation and build up together!).
  • Save an extra $X dollars each month.
  • Run a marathon together (or maybe just a 5k…).
  • Get scuba certified together.
  • Intentionally make time to talk for fifteen minutes every day. 
  • Take a class or join a club together.
  • Hike a fourteener. 
  • Read 12 books together. Here is a shameless plug and a good place to start. 


Whatever your couple resolutions may be, just make sure you have some! Set resolutions that are meaningful for both of you. Create a vision of the kind of marriage and life you want to create together. Then, work each day to fulfill that vision. Sure, some days you’ll see more progress than others. In fact, some days it may feel like you have taken a step back. However, by the end of the year you’ll be able to look back and proudly admire how far you’ve come together. 

Couple resolutions are powerful because they build connection, create happy memories, and nurture friendship. You and your spouse will feel closer together as you work in unity to achieve common goals. Kind of magical. 

So just remember, by setting meaningful couple resolutions together, and diligently working towards them, not only will you be able to achieve great success as a team, but you’ll certainly nurture your marriage in the process!

The Art of Letting Go (to Heal a Broken Heart)

THE ART OF LETTING GO (TO HEAL A BROKEN HEART)

Angel Chernoff

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”
― Dorothy Allison

I loved him like a brother, and he treated me as such. He told me I was a genius and that the world needed to hear my music. He was a ball of passion, and when he spoke it always felt like a battle cry to fight for a better life. I was working as a teacher, spending my summers with struggling artists who gave me that energy and community I craved. When I met him in Toronto, I felt like I found new family in my own hometown.

His family wasn’t so abundant—his parents struggled with addiction and were trying to take the earnings he made producing music. It was killing his spirit, and I could sense it. So without consulting my parents, I invited him to live with me. He was the brother I never had.

We got matching tattoos and promised each other that there would always be two of everything. We hustled the music, threw shoes, networked, and talked about what we could do artistically and for the scene in the city. The summer had ended and now I was back to grinding the 8-5 shift. It was killing my soul to be working knowing there was so much to create. Then he came to me with an opportunity that changed my life forever.

It was a songwriting deal, worth $120,000, to write 10 songs for an unknown artist who apparently had major connections. We’d get paid to write the songs, and with that money we could be full-time artists. Without much thought, due diligence or reflection, I took a leave of absence from work, and we moved into a rental property that I purchased as a responsible adult. Then we got straight to creating.

They Never Did

He explained the money would come soon, but weeks went by with no word. Weeks turned to months, and with no income, I was quickly accumulating debt by swiping credit cards, and negotiating a bigger line of credit. I wasn’t worried, when the money came in, it would wipe the debt clean, and we’d have plenty to play with.

He told me about all the friends that owed him money, and how we could start collecting to cover the bills, but he wasn’t finding much luck. As the months went on, I began to ask him more questions, and he became more and more defensive. One day he went out of town to collect some money from a family member. A mutual friend disclosed to me that he had been asking people to lend him money, and that in fact, no one owed him anything. I called him to clarify this, and he immediately hung up, and I never heard from him again.

He literally left his belongings in the apartment and never came back for anything. Clothes, a computer, keepsakes, it was as if he fell off the face of the earth. I was confused, devastated, and heartbroken. I had never had my heart broken by a friend before; it was a foreign kind of betrayal I couldn’t wrap my head around. Beyond the betrayal was the slow sinking reality that I was in deep trouble with my finances. I had accumulated over $80,000 in debt and had no way to pay it off. It turns out the songwriting deal was never real—he had forged documents, changed names, and was planning on borrowing money from others to cover it. When that didn’t work, he ran out of options and ran away.

That was seven years ago. The years that  followed were the hardest years of my life. I fell into deep despair and turned to NyQuil and muscle relaxers to numb the pain. I blamed the world and everyone around me for not warning me of his sleazy ways. I stayed in bed for weeks, and ate very little, hoping the cavalry would come to save the day.

They never did.

A Challenging Time

During the worst moments, I thought the worst thoughts about him. How dare he do this to me, after I let him in my home, and allowed him to live with me for a year rent-free. I was nothing but amazing to him! I treated him like a brother! And this is what I got in return?

But I learned to let it go, gradually.

Of course, I didn’t let it go because I thought what he did was OK. I let it go because I could not afford to carry such a heavy burden of resentment and regret with me. If I was ever going to get myself out of the mess I was in, I needed less baggage…

I needed a different mindset.

He wasn’t evil, he was scared. He bit off more than he could chew, and instead of facing the consequences of his actions, he ran away. All of that was out of my control. And for me to maintain my sanity I had to focus on what was in my control.

What was always in my control was my thinking and expectations. I expected him to be honest with me, because I was honest with him. But that’s not how things work. As I write this story, I am at a friend’s house in Austin, TX. I can hear the neighbour’s dog barking really loud. If I went over and stuck my hand through the fence, that dog would probably bite me. I can’t assume or expect him not to, just because I don’t plan to bite him. Dogs do what dogs do. Scared people do what scared people do.

So I forgave him, little by little, and began taking more responsibility for what happened. It was hard work. But doing so helped me let go of the resentment and regrets that were holding me back

Truth be told, it’s easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves, and cast ourselves as the victims in life. And it’s not only easy, it’s quick and convenient too. It gives us an immediate opportunity to feel connected and significant. We connect with ourselves because we feel like no one else understands what we are going through (as if I was the first guy to ever be betrayed by a friend). It also gives us a subtle high of significance, because we start to convince ourselves that life is conspiring only against us, as we question what we did to deserve its wrath.

This quick fix doesn’t last though, and what accompanies it is a long and drawn out feeling of powerlessness. We have no power because we’ve blamed everyone and everything except ourselves. Thus, for me to find power in my situation, I had to take some of the responsibility, because only in those areas would I find the power to improve my circumstances.

Again, it took plenty of practice, but I gradually became more mindful of my expectations, and instead of kicking myself (with my 20/20 hindsight) for all the danger signs that were right in front of me, I decided to extract the wisdom from my past experience. I promised myself I would use that wisdom until I was glad I went through such a challenging time.

I Am Cavalry

Over time, my broken heart healed, I got stronger, I got back on my feet and spent the next four years getting myself out of the hole. Through selling my possessions, finding odd gigs here and there, touring, and writing my book Unlearn, I finally got to a $0 bank account—no debt.

And gradually, I began to feel sincere gratitude for the journey I was on, and what I went through to get to where I was.

Figuring out how to go from $80,000 in the hole to $0 also helped me grow from $0 to a bank account with decent savings. My struggling days taught me the value of minimalism. I became a dramatically better judge of character, and looking back I realized how resilient I really was.

I no longer hope for a cavalry, I am the cavalry. I am no longer afraid to lose because with loss comes learning. I don’t question whether I need to trust others, because I know I can trust myself. Challenges and resistance make us stronger, so either we make ourselves uncomfortable so we can grow, or life does it for us.

We Can Choose

Although I’ve now completely forgiven my old friend, and even thanked him for the lessons I’ve learned, it all happened internally. I never made any proclamation or tried to contact him. After the passing of a mutual friend, he tried to reach out, but I didn’t need that energy in my life. I had already let it go, and there was no need to re-introduce it back into my life.

We need to let things go and forgive others, not for their sake, but for ours. We need to rid ourselves of the weight we carry around holding grudges, regrets, and the other burdens that try to pile up. We also need to let go so we can create a space where self-love exists, because most likely we’ll need that space to forgive ourselves, too.

I have indeed forgiven. And I am truly grateful.

Had I not gone through such a heartbreaking experience, I would have never dug deep into myself to write Unlearn. I would have never crossed paths with the amazing Marc & Angel, or read their books. And, most importantly, I would not have grown into the person I am today.

We can’t see into the future, but we can choose how much of our past we deliberately carry with us into today.

We can choose to let go and move forward, one day at a time.

Now, it’s YOUR turn…

I would love to hear from YOU in the comments section.

What do you need to let go of (or forgive), to move forward with your life?

Anything else to share?

Please leave me a comment.

Pursue Your Partner at Every Stage of Marriage

PURSUE YOUR PARTNER AT EVERY STAGE OF MARRIAGE

Hannah Eaton

We met Marcy and Jack during our first group dance lesson. Unlike many of the dating or engaged couples we’d danced with, Marcy and Jack had been at this marriage thing for quite some time. Forty years to be exact. They first started dancing in preparation for their daughter’s wedding.

The wedding came and went, but Marcy and Jack kept returning for dance lessons week after week. With practice, they continued to hone and improve their dance skills as a couple.

And yet, they tapped into something far greater than dance. They began to experience and integrate an idea central to healthy relationships—continual, purposeful dating and practice is not only helpful, but is central to cultivating and maintaining meaningful attunement, connection, and intimacy in romantic relationships. 

While healthy marriages require us to put in this intentional effort, and to pursue one another on a continual basis, many dominant paradigms in our culture tell us otherwise.

Myth: Marriage is a destination

“And they lived happily ever after.” Disney’s multi-billion dollar industry thrives on this idea. The message is spoon fed to us as children, and reverberated throughout our culture. It’s confusing when our own romantic experiences fail to live up to this standard, which they almost always do. 

So we either destroy this idea, feeling disappointed that it’s not our story, or we hold onto it tightly with the hope and dream that we can harness it if we just find the right person. However, the reality is such that even if we find the “right person,” we soon realize that everything is not simply sunshine and roses. Marriage is not a destination. 

Marcy and Jack know this. They know that marriage, like dance, is a continually unfolding journey in which they are active participants, shaping and molding their shared reality. They know that if they take a few months off from dance, and neglect their practice, it will be apparent in the quality of their dance and interactions. 

Maintaining regular practice not only helps keep them connected and attuned as they dance, but it also allows them to reach new heights and depths with one another. Every time we see Jack and Marcy in our group lessons, we are continually impressed by their new moves, gracefulness, and attunement with one another. 

Whether you’re a newlywed, or have been married for forty years like Marcy and Jack, there is immense value in creating and continuing practices that support the ongoing health and connection of your relationship. As John and Julie Gottman explain in their book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, “Happily ever after is not by chance. It’s by choice.” It takes work.

Myth: Love should always feel organic in marriage

One of the most common narratives we see in Hollywood movies and TV shows is the journey of a couple meeting, with perhaps some turmoil or conflict early on, and then a quick resolution, finished off with a hopeful closure. 

Perhaps this is because the full picture of marriage is not depicted as being as sexy or exciting as the hot pursuit earlier on, or perhaps it’s assumed that the public doesn’t want to see the reality of married life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Either way, it’s doing our culture a disservice.

A second paradigm is ripping through our culture like wildfire—if you don’t feel the love anymore, then why stick around? As a therapist, I hear it all the time: “We just fell out of love.” While love (the noun) may initially bring two people together, it is love (the verb) that makes it last. 

Love is a choice that you make every morning when you wake up. It’s the decision to choose to cherish your partner, especially when you don’t feel like it. It’s in these times, in particular, that your partner likely needs your love the most. In truly healthy marriages, each partner wakes up in the morning, and makes the decision to purposefully practice and cultivate more love for their spouse. 

Marcy and Jack understand this principle. Forty years into their marriage, they are still intentionally “practicing” and choosing one another to keep that connection alive. Like all couples, there have been ample times when they may not have felt the connection or attunement, but nevertheless chose to be there for one another. 

They are proud of their growth and major improvements as a couple on and off the dance floor, and yet they realize that their “work” is never done. They have signed up for a lifetime commitment of pursuing and practicing the art of loving one another, and one way they do this is by their weekly dance lessons.

Myth: Courtship is only for the early years

A third faulty paradigm I see is the notion that courtship and dating is only for the early years. We date, we flirt, we woo, in effort to court one another. And then we’re all set. We know one another, we’ve tied the knot, and suddenly it’s no longer important to date one another as we did early on. 

It’s become so normal for couples to indicate they have grown apart and fallen out of love. Life got busy and suddenly they’re just living with a roommate. It’s understandable how this can easily happen, and yet, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Find ways to court and pursue your partner daily. We all want to feel loved and desired, regardless of what stage we are at in our relationship. Of course, the ways in which we like to be pursued may evolve over the years, which is why it’s all the more important to continue to update your Love Maps

Take time to remember how your partner likes to feel loved—surprise them with flowers, or bring them coffee in bed in the morning. Take time to experiment and explore new ways you can flirt with them. It’s in these small moments of connection that our relationships flourish.

At 62 and 65, Marcy and Jack are still intentional about planning and having regular date nights together. They’ve established a ritual of carving out sacred time for one another, and dance together on a weekly basis.

They recognize that dancing and date nights aren’t just for the youth—they’re for couples at all stages of their relationship. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been married. It always feels good to have your partner pursue you. 

In what ways can you pursue your partner on a daily basis? 

In what ways can you choose your partner every morning when you wake up?

In what ways can you date your partner so that, 40 years into marriage, you’re still dancing like Marcy and Jack?


This is part four of a four-part series on relationships and dance. Here are parts onetwo, and three.

20 Lifestyle Changes to Make in Your 20s for a Better Life

20 LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO MAKE IN YOUR 20S FOR A BETTER LIFE

Tiffany Grace Reyes

Your 20s: the perfect balance between being young and energetic, and being practical and worldly wise. It’s the perfect time to make a change!

Your 20s can make you or break you. It contains some of the most exciting years of your life. You are just starting out your career, and you’re either building debt or building an empire. And although this decade can feel like you’re independent and consequence-free, how you spend your life in your 20s will have a huge impact on your life. What you do in this decade matters and may just determine your best shot at success and happiness.

In your 20s, you can experiment with so many things, party all night, go out on dates, travel the globe, and basically be a free bird. And although it’s not bad to enjoy being at the prime of your youth or working for your retirement, there are actually many things that you can do to make the most of your 20s.

Smart lifestyle changes you should be making in your 20s

Below are 20 of the top smart moves you need to make in your 20s that will pay off for the rest of your life.

#1 Travel. Invest in memories and experiences. This is the ideal time because you are young, able, and you have no family obligations. Use your time to meet different people and immerse yourself in different cultures.

#2 Don’t obsess over money. It is understandable to want to live comfortably later on in life, but don’t make your 20s so much about money that the decade passes you by. If you want to take risks or go after things that you are passionate about, then this is the best time. Think of money as a result of your hard work and not as your goal, and you can breathe easy enough to go out there and live a little.

#3 Think of one golden rule: save. Although you should not let money be your sole motivator, this doesn’t mean you should throw financial sensibility out the window. You can party, travel, and shop if you want, but be sure to set aside some extra cash *at least 10% of your income* for your rainy day fund.

#4 Be active. Despite your busy lifestyle, it helps to be active because of two things: you have something else to do other than race after work deadlines, and you are preventing your body from developing heart problems, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. By squeezing some exercise into your schedule, you have a reason to wake up early and say “no” to that late night party invite every once in a while.

#5 Take care of your teeth. You may not notice it, but reality is, you’re stuck with the same teeth for the rest of your life. It’s not a house that you can skip maintenance on because you can move out anytime—your teeth are yours, and they’re not going anywhere. So even if it costs a lot of money and you think you don’t need it, take care of your teeth now while you can before repairing years of neglect becomes more expensive.

#6 Protect your skin. So your face is supple, you have no wrinkles, and you still have that healthy glow of youth. But you can’t seriously believe it will stay that way forever. Unless the fountain of youth has been discovered, you have to protect your skin. Don’t sleep with makeup on, and more importantly, wear sunscreen.

#7 Develop healthy eating habits. Make conscious beverage decisions that will lessen the negative effects alcoholic drinks bring to your body. Alcohol is, after all, a toxin. So drink wisely and in moderation, and always rehydrate to avoid a raging hangover. As for food, you know that junk food will only bring even more toxins into your body. Tone down your processed food intake, and try to include healthier, more natural food options into your diet.

#8 Lessen your tech ties. Twenty-somethings are known to be highly dependent on their gadgets. If you’re one of those people, learn to put your phone down and make real people-to-people connections.

#9 Set your standards. When you’re young, flirty, and carefree, it can be easy to fall victim to the charms of partners who end up doing nothing for you. Learn from the dating mistakes of your past, and never settle for partners who will only hold you back from living a full life.

#10 Forgive yourself and others. You will make mistakes, and you may learn this the hard way. Accept the fact that there are things you can’t control, such as rejection or heartbreak. Don’t let this embitter you, and instead, learn from this and grow.

#11 Don’t waste your time on drama. You’re all grown up, and you know what you want, so you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you think you deserve. Cut off people and situations that drain you of your energy. Your time and energy are better off spent on productivity and growth than drama and misery.

#12 Build courage and face your fears. You are young, and you are in the best shape that you can be. The world is your oyster. So if you are ever going to try something daring, now is the best time.

#13 Be less busy and more productive. In other words, learn to manage your time before you run around like a headless chicken. Don’t spread yourself too thin over things that are unnecessary, but instead, keep your laser focus on being effective and get more done in half the time.

#14 Set goals and learn to prioritize. You’re just starting out in your career, so you may think that your responsibilities are still ahead of you. Nope. You should set your goals as early as now, and from here on, take small steps in achieving them.

#15 Learn and learn and learn. Whether it’s baking classes or management lessons, take some time to learn new skills. Before you even think about starting a family and having your hands full, start a hobby or try something new.

#16 Invest in self-awareness and self-knowledge. This is the best time to find yourself and to know what you want and what makes you happy. Learn new things about yourself every day and seize every opportunity to grow.

#17 Stop comparing yourself to others. Who cares if your friend has bought a new house or your colleague already got a promotion? You can’t measure yourself against others, or else you’re never going to appreciate yourself and what you have. Be proud of who you are, and create your own story.

#18 Know what is right from wrong. You’re not a child anymore, so put away childish habits. While it’s okay to make mistakes, take responsibility for your actions. Learn to apologize for what you have done, and learn how you can make amends for actions that have caused others pain, and that includes the environment!

#19 Appreciate true friends. Through the course of your life, you will come across different kinds of people. Some will be genuine, while some will try to use you. Don’t waste time on people who will bring you down in the end. Appreciate the people who are there for you, and value their friendship.

#20 Slow down. You may be busy juggling your career, getting started living your independent life, sorting out your messy dating life, and simply enjoying being a twenty-something—but don’t forget to just stop, take a deep breath, and slow down. Success and happiness aren’t races to be won. You have to live your life at your own pace.

Your 20s can be the most exciting decade of your life. During this time, you’ll meet new people, learn new things about yourself, and really open your eyes to the wonders *and pitfalls* of the adult world. You only have 10 years to be a carefree, energetic twenty-something, so shouldn’t you make these 10 eye-opening years count?

While these lifestyle changes may be helpful and insightful, the best way to go through your 20s is to be kind to yourself and to others, make time for what you love, appreciate what you have, and be prepared for the future.

Don’t Let Bitterness Ruin your Marriage

DON’T LET BITTERNESS RUIN YOUR MARRIAGE

Sheqoz


Marriages break because of bitterness

Marriage is Work in Progress:

Marital problems are real and the bitterness usually justified. If you’ve been hurt by your partner,  it is advisable to confront the problem calmly. Do not harbor the pain inward or compare yourself with other married couples because each marriage is unique in its own way.

I once spoke to a lady who wished to be in her neighbor’s position because they seemed to be in a happy marriage. The fact is, people don’t announce their issues to the outside world. They keep their domestic problems behind closed doors. Smiles and public hands-holding can hide much.

No relationship is a complete smooth sail because nobody is perfect. Surprisingly the reason most marriages don’t heal is not only the problem at hand but also the prideful bitterness the wronged partner guards in their heart. Almost all breakups and divorces happen because of the hurting partner.

Bitterness Cuts the Host:

Bitterness is a blade meant to hurt someone else but it eventually cuts the hand that conceals it. When it finds a place in a relationship, it destroys the foundation one step at a time. It stores itself in the soul, slowly poisoning the one who carries it.

When you harbor resentment, love becomes numb and hardens the heart. Unfortunately, at this point most people walk out. I have learned from talking to married couples that it is common for a wife or husband to say or do something disapproved by the other.

These things are bound to happen. But in some cases, a spouse forms a repetitive pattern regardless of being confronted. To the wronged partner, each hurtful action takes residence in the heart. It reaches a point when there’s no more room left – the beginning of bitterness manifestation and damage beyond repair.

Communicate your Feelings:

If you are in such a position, the truth is, bitterness doesn’t give your spouse a chance to seek forgiveness or even change. As a matter of fact, they may not even know to what level they’ve offended you. Your bitterness comes from the hurts you suppressed without communicating.

Women are especially guilty here, I used to do it and know many women who still do. We tend to hold things inside expecting our husbands to read between the lines. Imagine taking a bottle and filling it up with pressure. It will eventually explode. Right?

In the same way, the outburst in your heart can result in a broken marriage. Your husband on the other hand may have no idea what’s going on. He may not even see it coming. I think women need to open up a little bit more. Communicate your feelings, don’t show them; your husband cannot read your mind.

We all know that men love to fix things. Your husband will do what’s necessary to make things work. I will write a different article about us women and how we push our husbands away.


Bitterness spreads like wild-fire

Bitterness Spreads Fast:

Perhaps your spouse is aware of your unhappiness but continues in the same patterns. It happens especially if he/she is trying to stir something up. The situation here is totally different and it calls for stronger measures like counseling. There are great online courses that you can use if you’re willing to save your marriage. You can sign up for one here

However, this does not negate your responsibility to remove bitterness from your heart. You still need to at least be kind enough to set yourself free from stress-related health issues. Bitterness will give your future health a bitter struggle. Nothing is worth your own health. Take care of yourself, things can get better if dealt with correctly.

I like to compare bitterness with wildfire. Deadly wildfires like the one we had ranging in California can begin with something as simple as a flat tire or tossed cigarette butt. That spark, combined with tinder-dry forests and howling winds, can be all that’s needed for a catastrophic wildfire to start.

Bitterness grows in the same way. One little bit of bitterness can spread throughout your heart and finally take over your whole body. It  starts to manifest itself in your attitude, demeanor, and finally your health.

In addition, the spread will affect your children and family. Your criticism will make everyone critical. When you reach this point, it is not possible for you to make any sound decisions. There are too many voices. The only way to start working towards reconciliation is to let go of all bitterness.

A Positive Attitude is Attractive:

Find some undistracted time to discuss the issue with your spouse. If you find it hard to talk to him/her alone, find a close friend mentor. We all have one. Remember to speak in love, rationally and gently. Talk about all your hurts without being critical.

Finally, when all is said and done, work on yourself, not your spouse. He/she is the only one who can change themselves. You do not have the power to do so. The only part you can play, if you want to see some permanent changes, is to pray. The greatest inspiration that can trigger change with your spouse is your attitude. You might end up in the best marriage ever.

I’ve seen damaged relationships fully restored and the couple’s live happily thereafter. Most problems occur due to lack of knowledge. It is okay to seek help especially if you are stuck in a hurtful cycle of marital problems.

Please take time and sign up for free relationship help here

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