How to Intentionally Pursue Joy With Your Spouse

Share Button

How to Intentionally Pursue Joy With Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Keeping your marriage infused with joy is one of the greatest challenges–but can also be one of the biggest adventures–in your life as a couple. After the honeymoon, life can get bogged down by day-to-day drudgery and less-than-ideal circumstances that are beyond your control. And while it’s a little too easy to let these things drown your happiness, it’s important for the two of you to stay focused on finding the joy that keeps you moving forward, no matter what.

Today, we’re sharing some tips on how to intentionally pursue joy together, so that when the going gets tough, the hard times won’t destroy your happiness.

1. GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER AGAIN.

In the early part of your relationship, you two seemed to know everything about each other, right? You knew your spouse’s favorite movies, foods, songs, colors, and bands. You knew what made him or her tick, and you knew the perfect ways to make one another happy.

But how long have you been married? Even if you’ve only been married for a few years, some of those details may have changed. The longer we’re together, the more changes we’ll experience over time. So if it’s been awhile since you asked, it might be time to get to know your husband or wife all over again.

What matters most to your spouse? Are their favorite things still their favorites now, or have they moved on to new and different interests? If you haven’t been paying attention, now’s the perfect time to get caught up. Share your new favorites with your spouse, too.

Another great way to reconnect is to tell each other stories about your childhood that you might not know about each other. This will deepen your sense of connection and give one another insight into parts of your lives that you may not have shared before.

When you get back in touch with the core of who your spouse is, not only will you feel closer to one another–you’ll feel more joyful and more in love than ever.

2. STAY POSITIVE.

The world is full of enough bad news as it is, right? On top of that, most couples are dealing with near-constant crises of one kind of another. It’s just part of life. But if you want to pursue joy in your marriage, it’s critical to minimize the voices of negativity in your life and keep things as positive as you can.

We can’t avoid talking about and dealing with heavy topics; it’s totally fine, normal, and healthy to address the issues in your life. But don’t dwell on the negative all the time. If you’re going through a hard time in your life (or someone close to you is), it won’t be easy to shift your communication into positive messages, but making the effort to do so will pay dividends for your marriage.

When you come together after a long work day or finally go out on that date night you’ve been looking forward to, tell each other about the good things that have been going on at work, at home, or in your activities. Tell your spouse something good that happened to you that day. On the flipside, ask your spouse what the best part of his or her day was.

It’s also inspiring and effective to keep a journal of the things you’re thankful for and the things you love about each other. When you’re having a “down” day, just add to or refer to your existing list and the gratitude will help lift your spirits.

If you’ve allowed negativity to rule your life, it might take some time to shift the polarity. But stick with it, because it can be done–and you’ll thank yourselves when you realize how much more joy you have in your life as a result.

3. MAKE ‘EM LAUGH!

For an instant shot of joy, find a way to make your spouse laugh. Better yet, look for little ways every day to bring a smile to your spouse’s face.

You know your spouse better than anyone else, so you most likely “get” their sense of humor and know what’s going to make them laugh. Actively seek out ways to tickle their funny bone, because laughter is medicine.

Here are a few quick ways to get a chuckle out of your husband or wife:

  • Utilize social media to find memes or videos that they’ll appreciate
  • Throw out a silly quote or two from a funny movie or show they like
  • Look up jokes in their particular “flavor” of humor to share
  • Impersonate a character or celebrity for them
  • Settle down for a date night in with a funny movie, show, or stand-up comedy routine
  • Go see a new funny movie or attend an event that you know will make your spouse laugh

You’re creative and you know what your spouse likes, so use our handy list or an idea of your own, and get to laughing!

If you would like help pursuing joy with your spouse, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

How Controlling People Use Guilt and How to Set a Boundary Against it

Share Button

How Controlling People Use Guilt and How to Set a Boundary Against it

By Dr. Henry Cloud

No weapon in the arsenal of the controlling person is as strong as the guilt message. It’s likely you even heard one or two before in your life.

Do any of these sound familiar?

“How could you do this to me after all I’ve done for you?”

“It seems like you would care enough about the family to do this one thing for us…”

“You know that if I had it, I would give it to you.”

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. People who say these things are trying to make you feel guilty about your choices. They are trying to make you feel bad about deciding how you will spend your own time and/or resources and about having a life separate from theirs.

Probably everyone is able to some degree to recognize guilt messages when they hear them, but not everyone is strong enough to not succumb to them. Here are a few tips to keep in your back pocket for when these situations arise.

1. Recognize they are guilt messages and are given in an attempt to manipulate and control.

2. Know that guilt messages are really just anger in disguise. The guilt sender is failing to openly admit their anger at you for what you are doing.

3. Guilt messages hide sadness and hurt instead of expressing and owning their true feelings.

4. If guilt works on you, recognize that this is your problem and not theirs. If you continue to blame other people for “making” you feel guilty, they still have power over you.

5. Do not explain or justify. Only guilty children do that. We do not owe guilt senders an explanation for our actions.

6. Be assertive and interpret their message as being about their feelings. For example, “It sounds like you are angry that I chose to …”

The main principle is this: Empathize with what distressed people are feeling, but make it clear that it is their distress. Remember, love and limits are the only clear boundaries. If you react, you have lost ownership of your boundaries.

If you would like help with setting up a healthy boundary, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Help! My Spouse Wants Me to Make More Money!

Share Button

Help! My Spouse Wants Me to Make More Money!

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

You’ve weighed your career decisions, filtered your values and what’s most important to you, and decided on a job that will help you not only bring in a good income, but also balance those values and pursuits in the best possible way for your family–or so you thought. Suddenly, you’re getting outside pressure from your spouse to up your game…and you’re not sure where it’s coming from.

Money is a hot-button issue in most marriages, but the it tends to really hit a nerve where individual income is concerned. Whether one or both spouses is working, it’s not uncommon for at least one person in a marriage to feel like the other should be bringing in more money. If your spouse wants you to earn a better salary, there are probably multiple reasons for this–and you might need to dig deep to pinpoint some of them.

Today, we’ll explore some of the motivations for one spouse pressuring the other to raise their income, and a few ways you can approach the issue together. Chances are, you and your spouse share more common ground than you realize when it comes to your dreams for the future and your desires for your family’s security.

WHAT’S YOUR ANGLE?

It’s painful to realize that your and your spouse’s life dreams are out of sync. A great place to start exploring your differing viewpoints is to try to understand where your spouse is coming from. Did your spouse come from a family of origin that placed a high value on material possessions, job security, or a certain income level? Does he or she want a higher level of income for more freedom, more opportunities, or the chance to travel and have experiences that require extra money? Is he or she hoping to spend more time at home with the children? Or does your spouse want to pursue a degree that requires him or her to work fewer hours in the meantime?

Understanding your spouse’s motivations will give you empathy as you attempt to approach the situation in a constructive way. Most likely, your spouse isn’t trying to be destructive by asking for more money, but their emotions around the subject might prevent them from seeing your side of the coin. Now that you know where his or her mind is, you can make your case more effectively.

Does your spouse realize what you’d be saying “no” to if you said “yes” to a more demanding job? Maybe you work a job that affords you plenty of time with your spouse or your children, and you don’t want to give that up in favor of overtime or a more demanding position. Or you might have chosen your current job because it’s a means to an end that allows you to pursue your true passion on the side–a job that, if you gave it up, would prevent you from pursuing your dream.

Explain to your spouse what he or she (or your family) stands to lose if you take a higher-paying job. Maybe you currently provide them with quality time you’d be giving up, or you might have responsibilities at home you’ll no longer be able to maintain.

WEIGHING THE PROS AND CONS

Work together to identify and weigh the pros and cons of you bringing in a larger income. You can get everything in front of you by dividing a piece of paper into “Pro” and “Con” columns, then making notes on each of your stances. Remember to value your relationships with one another and your children over financial resources, and check in with yourselves to make sure your priorities are in order.

More importantly, don’t assume your spouse has his or her priorities mixed up; he or she might want more money for the family to take adventure trips or have special experiences together that you currently can’t afford. It’s important to remember you might just have different ideas of what you can accomplish together, based on your income.

As you make your list of pros and cons, you’ll probably find that you have many more dreams and desires in common than you realized before, even though this issue feels highly polarized. And your spouse may bring motivations to light that he or she didn’t know how to put into words before. If you can both get to the crux of why raising your income is so important, you’ll stand a better chance of pursuing a constructive solution.

FINDING A MUTUALLY-BENEFICIAL SOLUTION

Once the two of you have hashed out your motivations and dreams for your family’s finances, you can land on a solution that works for you both.

If your spouse is craving a sense of financial security–perhaps because of fears stemming from a financially insecure childhood–work together to create a plan that provides more emotional safety. This might involve finding a way to get extra money into savings, or having a solid fallback plan if your current career is uncertain. Your spouse also needs to be willing to become a part of meeting those security needs in a way that works for your family so all the burden isn’t resting on your shoulders. Taking ownership of that fear of financial crisis will, ultimately, make your spouse feel more confident and peaceful about the family’s finances.

If your spouse’s motivations tend to be more material in nature, consider whether your values line up enough to pursue a higher-paying job–but don’t get into the frenzy of trying to achieve a lifestyle that doesn’t fit what you deeply value. If the idea of a weightier job doesn’t work for you, the two of you might agree instead on a contained amount of overtime that will help you achieve specific financial goals, like taking that vacation you’ve been talking about. And if your spouse simply can’t let go of that higher-income dream, you can offer to commit more time to responsibilities at home to allow him or her to take on earning that extra money.

You both have good reasons for choosing the stances you’ve taken regarding earnings and career pursuits. And it’s always possible that your spouse is making a legitimate case for you to pursue a higher income. As the two of you explore your individual situation, we encourage you to each take an honest, objective evaluation of yourself, your career, and your family’s income and material needs to determine your next steps.

If you would like help with your marriage, relationship, or to have premarital counseling, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or life-coach.

Praise You In This Storm

Share Button

Praise You In This Storm (by Casting Crowns)

I was sure by now, God you would have reached down
And wiped our tears away,
Stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
That it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear your whisper through the rain
I’m with you
And as your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
The God who gives and takes away

And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone how can I carry on
If I can’t find you
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear you whisper through the rain
I’m with you
And as your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
The God who gives and takes away

And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of heaven and earth

And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm

And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm

7 Ways to Seek Peace First in Your Marriage

Share Button

7 Ways to Seek Peace First in Your Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18 (NIV)

Being a peacemaker isn’t easy. It’s not the passive existence of “keeping the peace,” or keeping your mouth shut to avoid confrontation. Instead, it’s an intentional, active state of existence that requires you to make careful–and sometimes difficult–decisions regarding the state of your relationship. Seeking and creating peace requires courage and fortitude.

Resolving conflict is marriage is difficult; because it can be so tricky to navigate, many couples find that unresolved issues and hurts begin to accumulate over time. In many cases, this leads to resentment and more frequent conflict. One way to combat this issue is to intentionally work to create peace in your marriage by uncovering and facing your issues head-on.

Today, we’re sharing 7 things you and your spouse can to do “seek peace and pursue it” in your marriage.

1. BE THE FIRST TO APOLOGIZE.

Whether or not your spouse is in the wrong alongside you doesn’t matter–what matters is whether you’re willing to step up and say you’re sorry first. Don’t wait around for your spouse to come to you; if you have something you need to apologize for, go ahead and do it. This will open the door for your spouse to respond in kind if he or she has been holding out. (Just be sure to only apologize if you actually have something to apologize for!)

2. OWN YOUR MISTAKES.

Avoiding responsibility for bad decisions you make or hurtful things you say to your spouse will only make wounds fester and grow worse over time. Even though you might not want to admit to any wrongdoing, it’s best to bite the bullet and admit you made a mistake. Your spouse will be more likely to extend forgiveness sooner if you’re willing to own your part when you apologize.

3. DON’T SWEEP THINGS UNDER THE RUG.

If you’ve got unresolved conflict under the surface of your marriage, sooner or later, it’s going to get bigger and bigger until you can’t handle it anymore. Don’t sweep issues under the rug, hide from them, or send them down the road; face them head-on, and acknowledge their presence so they’ll be less likely to keep growing.

4. ENCOURAGE YOUR SPOUSE TO FACE ISSUES TOGETHER.

You and your spouse can create peace together by facing down your conflicts, challenges, and issues as a team. The two of you are stronger together than you are apart, and if only one of you is fighting your battles, that could lead to resentment and conflict between the two of you. Put your heads together to create solutions and ideas that will lead you away from strife and toward a happy, peaceful existence together.

5. SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE.

Sometimes, you have to say things your spouse doesn’t want to hear. And you know it’s going to hurt you, too, when your spouse responds in pain or anger. Approach him or her in a loving way and lay all your cards on the table; if he or she has an issue that is hurting your marriage or family–or is even just harmful to them in some way–you have to put it out there. It could be addiction, hurtful behavior, or any number of things. Your spouse’s well being may depend on you speaking up. And if he or she goes down a destructive path, your marriage goes down, too.

6. BITE YOUR TONGUE.

On the flipside, sometimes you have to check yourself to keep the peace. Do you tend to speak before you think, saying hurtful things in the process? Is it sometimes hard to rein in your temper when the going gets rough? If you want to seek peace first, it will pay dividends to learn when to hold your tongue and think about what you’re about to say before it comes out of your mouth.

7. ASK FOR HELP.

If your marriage is in trouble and you can’t seem to achieve peace on your own, it’s healthy and wise to ask for help. A trusted friend, pastor, mentor, or counselor can help you determine your next steps toward establishing peace in your marriage. Do your best to get your spouse on board, and work together with that trusted person in order to get on solid ground.

If you would like help with your marriage or relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.