3 Ways to Overcome Emotional Distance in Your Marriage

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3 Ways to Overcome Emotional Distance in Your Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Lately, you feel like you just can’t connect with your spouse. Maybe he’s not listening to you, or maybe she’s lost interest in activities you used to enjoy together. You might fight a lot—or avoid communicating to minimize conflict. Perhaps you feel like the kids have monopolized your or your spouse’s time to the point that you aren’t getting quality time together anymore.

Whatever the case, lately, you’re feeling more and more disappointed in your relationship with your spouse. You’re lonely and discontent, and you’re wondering whether the two of you might be happier apart, rather than staying married and slogging through each day with things the way they are.

It’s upsetting and downright discouraging to go through seasons in your marriage where you and your spouse feel more like roommates than soulmates. The reality is that it’s totally normal to experience times in your life that feel this way, and there are a lot of possible reasons for it: a new baby, having small children at home, work-related stress, demanding or unusual schedules, health issues, caring for an aging parent, unresolved conflict, and more.

The good news is that you can absolutely overcome seasons of emotional disconnect in your marriage…and come out on the other side feeling closer than ever. The trick is getting over the hump, making it through the challenging days, and staying committed to each other. Today, we’ll show you three ways to overcome seasons of emotional distance in your marriage.

1. REALIZE EVERY MARRIAGE HAS PEAKS AND VALLEYS

Even though the feeling of distance you’re experiencing with your spouse is incredibly disconcerting, rest assured it’s very common for couples to go through times in their marriage when they just don’t feel close. While that doesn’t make the experience any easier, it gives you the perspective you need to weather the storm until it passes.

We often make the mistake of thinking that how our marriage feels today is how it’s always going to feel. The truth is, love is always evolving; even if you feel some distance today, the dynamic between you could change for the better very quickly. It’s worth it to hold on, stick to the commitment you’ve made to one another, and work on getting your relationship back on track.

2. TUNE IN TO HOW YOUR SPOUSE BEST CONNECTS

Sometimes when we’re feeling disconnected, it’s easy to get wrapped up in how we want our spouse to connect to us. What we tend to forget is that how we want to connect might not be something our spouse will respond to. You and your partner might simply speak different love languages, and it will be up to you to tune into their language and communicate in it in order to reignite that spark.

For example, women generally want to have deep, meaningful conversations in order to connect to their husbands. But in our experience, men tend to be less likely to respond well to their wives’ need for that conversation, especially during a season of disconnect. If you’re a wife who’s feeling lonely and wants to be closer to her husband, it may help for you to focus on joining your husband in shared activities. Men tend to respond well and feel more connected to their wives through shared activities, so go somewhere he enjoys going or participate in an activity that’s important to him, and you’ll be more likely to get connected with him again on a much deeper level.

Husbands, if you’re feeling disconnected from your wives, open yourselves up for genuine conversation. Your wife will be more receptive and responsive to you if you’re intentionally connecting with her in this way. Even if it’s way outside your comfort zone, offering this gift to your wife will go a long way toward restoring the intimacy you’ve been missing.

3. GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND TAKE ACTION

When we’re going through a “roommate season” where we feel disconnected from one another, we sometimes get lost in our own circular thought patterns about what we’re facing. But when we ruminate, we become immobilized. We get stuck in our own expectations of what we think closeness and emotional intimacy should look like, and that can blind us from what we really need to be doing in order to reconnect.

Take one step at a time, one day at a time. Even a small positive change in your marriage can make a tremendous difference in how you feel about your relationship. Hang on tight, keep meeting each other where you are, and you can come out on the other side of this as a stronger, happier couple.

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

7 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Next Anniversary

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7 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Next Anniversary

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Your wedding anniversary is a time of year for you and your spouse to deepen your connection and revive feelings that may have been overridden by jobs, everyday stress, and outside obligations. It’s the perfect time to renew your commitment to each other and reflect on your successes–and maybe even the inevitable failures and hard times you’ve overcome together.

When it comes to celebrating your anniversary, the sky’s the limit. There are countless ways to make your day special, but sometimes it can feel difficult to settle on an idea that does justice to your love and the life you’ve built together. Today, we’re sharing seven creative ideas to make your next anniversary especially memorable.

1. TURN YOUR VOWS INTO ART

Did you and your spouse write your own vows for your wedding? Etch them in your memory forever by turning them into a piece of art for your home. You can have your vows printed, painted, or engraved on a number of different surfaces like canvas, wood, and more (do it yourself if you’re creative!). Then, hang them in your home to remind yourselves of the carefully-crafted words you wrote and recited to promise your lives to each other.

2. RECREATE YOUR WEDDING CAKE (AND PUNCH, TOO!)

There’s never a bad time for cake–especially on your anniversary. You and your spouse can make your own cake in the flavors you chose for your wedding day (or have a friend help you if neither of you are especially skilled in the kitchen). If you have a recipe for your reception punch, you can mix that up, too–then enjoy it from your his and hers stem glasses (if you kept them!) while you savor the cake.

3. MAKE A MEMORY BOOK TOGETHER

Whether you break out the photo prints or prefer a digital album, making a memory book of any sort is a great way to recall happy memories together. Buy yourselves a new album and get to work rearranging your photos, or use an online printing service to make a photo book that showcases your favorite memories from engagement, your wedding day, and beyond.

4. REVISIT SPECIAL PLACES

Maybe you’ve been married for twenty years…maybe just for one. No matter how long you’ve been together, a great anniversary adventure for you might involve re-creating your first date or revisiting the place where your spouse proposed. Focus on places and experiences that have been significant to you in your relationship. If you no longer live near those places or can’t easily travel to them, start new traditions together in a special place where you are now.

5. RENEW YOUR VOWS

Renewing your vows on your anniversary can be a meaningful way to verbalize your lifelong commitment to each other. You can take the traditional route–or you could jump outside the box and write new vows to one another. Are there things you’d include today that you didn’t think of when you first wrote your vows? Now that you’ve shared a life together (for however many years), there are things you’ll love and appreciate about one another that you might not have been tuned into during the early years. Include those special things in your new vows that will carry you forward into the next phases of life together.

6. CELEBRATE WITH YOUR FRIENDS

All anniversaries are milestones, but depending on your own story, some anniversaries feel more significant than others. Have you just come through a really tough season together? Have you reached a goal you’ve been dreaming of and planning for, for years? Are you healing from marital issues or just simply celebrating the wonderful years you’ve had? Throw a mini reception and invite your friends. It doesn’t have to elaborate or expensive–but sharing a little cake and punch (or finger foods) with your closest friends and family to celebrate your years together could be a nice touch for your upcoming anniversary.

7. MAKE A SHADOWBOX OF YOUR WEDDING MEMORIES

Many of us have wedding trinkets tucked away in storage somewhere–programs, printed napkins, gloves, little sachets of bird seed, the bride’s garter, pieces of keepsake jewelry, dried flowers you’ve carefully stored over the years. Why not create a shadowbox together to put those mementos on display? Include one or two of your favorite wedding photographs and you’ll have something beautiful to enjoy together for years to come.

 

If you would like help with your relationship or help enhancing your relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.

3 Can’t Miss Financial Tips for Married Couples

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3 Can’t Miss Financial Tips for Married Couples

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Money is one of the toughest subjects to tackle in marriage. It’s one of the top reasons married couples fight, and it’s a source of constant stress and strain for many couples around the world. But the good news is, you and your spouse can create a healthy attitude around money in your marriage if you know where to start.

It’s important to establish healthy financial practices as early in marriage as possible. Today, we’re sharing three financial habits you can establish to start out on the right foot.

BE RESPECTFUL OF EACH OTHER’S MONEY STYLE

Are you a saver, while your spouse is more of a spender? Savers and spenders have the uncanny ability of finding each other and getting married; it’s rare for both spouses to have the same financial style. And when it comes to spending versus saving, it’s important to have empathy for one another.

First, acknowledge that each of you might be a little more extreme in your stance than you need to be. When you acknowledge your spouse’s voice, it helps to prevent them from becoming more extreme in their money behaviors to protect themselves and their preferences around spending and saving.

The most important thing here is to create a sense of balance and shared ownership in your finances so neither of you acts out the most extreme version of your money tendencies. If you both decide to split bill-paying duties, that will serve as its own form of accountability.

An effective way to generate empathy for one another’s money personality is to go shopping together and reverse roles. If you’re the saver, act like the spender and have your spouse urge you to save. This could completely transform the way you each approach money because it gives you a chance to understand what kind of anxiety you create for each other when you’re digging in your financial heels by either pushing hard to spend or save.

If you’re the spender, maybe you could take over financial responsibilities for a month to see the reality of your expenses. Money will become more tangible when you’re making bank deposits and withdrawals, paying bills, and monitoring the budget. It will also give you empathy for your saver-spouse’s stance.

START A BUDGET TOGETHER

Once you’ve become more familiar with each other’s money style, start a budget. Budgets don’t work unless they’re a shared dream, so carve out some time to put your heads together and create a great starting point for your monthly finances. You’re going to want to do this together; this isn’t a solo act where one person runs the numbers and lays down the law. Look at the numbers together, talk through each issue, and chart a budget you agree on using our handy budgeting sheet (you can download a copy here).

The most important thing to realize when you’re creating a budget is that this is a work in progress; it’s not something you have to set in stone from day one. It’s not finalized; rather, it gives you a healthy starting place to operate from when it comes to spending and saving money.

Once a month, quarterly, or bi-annually, sit down together to take a look at your spending and saving patterns against the budget you established. As you review the numbers, ask yourselves what life has demanded from you in comparison to the budget you created. Talk through what’s negotiable versus what’s not, then adjust your budget to something that’s more realistic for you as a couple. (You can find a deeper dive into getting on the same page financially in this post.)

AUTOMATE YOUR SAVINGS

One of the best ways to save money every month is to put a system in place that will save for you. Set up automatic withdrawals that funnel a certain amount of money into your savings account as soon as your paychecks hit the bank; this creates a disciplined savings routine so you don’t have the option of changing your mind.

The most important thing is to build savings systems that provide automatic discipline so the hard decisions are already done for you. It’s like anything that requires willpower or sacrifice; you have to remove the temptation to spend the money by moving the money out of reach.

If you have a hard time saving toward a specific goal, set goal markers for yourself and build in gratification along the way as you reach each milestone. Maybe you allow yourselves to purchase something you’d like, or maybe you take a nice vacation. Or perhaps you can plan for small, realistic daily rewards. But be realistic; you can’t deny yourselves everything.

YOU CAN DO THIS!

It can feel a little tricky to navigate financial issues together, but you can absolutely find common ground and a way to deal with money in your marriage that works for both of you. Stay patient, empathic, and kind as you create your unique financial style as a couple. The payoff will be worth the preparation!

 

If you would like help with your relationship or marriage, give CornerStone Family Services a call at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.

4 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Creativity

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4 Ways to Support Your Spouse’s Creativity

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Creative pursuits add an exciting dimension to our lives. Music, theatre, art, writing, dance–these are just a few of the creative outlets you or your spouse might enjoy. But if you’re not particularly creative, what are some ways to support your spouse’s passions?

1. SHOW INTEREST IN THEIR CREATIVE PURSUITS.

Your spouse’s passion for creativity adds meaning, joy, and purpose to their life–and it can do the same for you. Whether your spouse is painting, sculpting, dancing, writing, singing, playing music, or any number of other creative pursuits, it’s important to show interest in what they’re creating.

Is your spouse a painter, graphic designer, or illustrator? Ask to see pieces of their work. Does your spouse perform on stage? Go see a play or musical they’re in. Is your spouse a musician? Ask them to play for you or ask to hear their latest recording. Does your spouse write? Read something they’ve written.

When your spouse lets you into their creative world, it’s important not to offer unwanted critique of their work. Try to respond to their creations or performances in a positive and supportive way. Your spouse is being vulnerable by allowing you to be a part of their creativity, so treat it gently.

If you find yourself uninterested in your spouse’s passions, it’s important to remind yourself how much this means to him or her. Set a calendar reminder to periodically ask about what your spouse is up to lately, and whether you can see their latest work. Marriage is all about compromise and sacrifice, so give your spouse some much-needed attention in this area of your life that’s so important to them.

2. GIVE THEM THE TIME THEY NEED TO CREATE.

Creativity takes time, which is a commodity for most busy adults (especially for parents of young children). Give your spouse the gift of time by:

  • Volunteering to take care of certain weekly tasks so that he or she has a little extra time
  • Occupying the kids for a little while so he or she can paint, write, practice, etc.
  • Making sure not to interrupt them while they’re working
  • Supporting that designated space and time with thing that make them more comfortable (music, coffee, cozy socks, art supplies, etc.)

It has been said that we can’t help others if we don’t put on our oxygen masks first. For your spouse, that creative outlet is their oxygen mask. So extend the gift of creative time, and you’ll both reap the benefits.

3. UNDERSTAND THIS IS PART OF WHO THEY ARE.

Most likely, you realized your spouse had a creative streak when you were dating. Now that you’re married, it’s still the same. During the early years of marriage, it’s common for creative pursuits and outside activities to fall by the wayside while the two of you get to know each other and settle into your new life together (although that isn’t always the case). But at some point, if you spouse has set aside their creative passions for one reason or another, they’re going to want to pick them up again.

You might feel resistant to the idea, especially if it means giving up some of the time you want to spend with your spouse. But remember, this is a part of who they are. It’s not fair to your spouse for you to deny that part of them, any more than it is for them to deny or reject an important part of your own identity. Every day that you honor and love your spouse’s whole self, you’re giving them a tremendous gift.

4. FIND JOY IN THEIR HAPPINESS.

Joy is contagious. When your spouse is creating, they are full of joy–so allow that joy to make its way into your heart, too.

Do you have creative interests you’ve never pursued–or haven’t pursued in a long time? Let your spouse’s passion inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Then, the two of you can deepen your intimacy by sharing your creative pursuits and making time for one another’s passions.

If you would like more help in the area of your relationship with your spouse or potential spouse, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our counselors or coaches.

10 Romantic Fall Dates To Enjoy With Your Spouse

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10 Romantic Fall Dates To Enjoy With Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Fall is a beautiful and exciting time of year, with changing leaves, football season in full swing, and holidays right around the corner. Take advantage of the cooler weather and the wide variety of seasonal activities to go on some creative and romantic dates with your spouse.

There are plenty of ways to fully enjoy the autumn, so we’ve created a list of 10 ideas to get you started. Have fun!

1. GO ON A COFFEE DATE

There’s never a wrong time to get coffee, but there’s something about fall that makes a hot drink seem more appealing. Cooler temperatures are a great excuse to have a date at your favorite coffee shop—and fall is pumpkin spice season, which makes it extra special.

2. HAVE A BONFIRE AND MAKE S’MORES

There’s something romantic about snuggling in front of the bonfire in the chilly night air, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. If either of you (or both!) plays an instrument, like guitar, banjo, or mandolin, bring it to the fireside and liven things up with a little music.

3. GO TO A FOOTBALL GAME

High school and college football games are always a blast. You and your spouse could plan a trip to your respective alma maters’ homecoming festivities and share memories from your college days. Even better, relive your own memories together if you both attended the same school.

4. GO ON A HIKE

A hike is a great way to see the gorgeous fall foliage in all its glory. Choose your favorite scenic trail and spend the day talking, taking pictures, and enjoying each other’s company. Take a picnic with you and savor the day together…and the view.

5. CAMP OUT

Fall weather is perfect for camping, so pick a favorite campground or state park and pack up for the weekend. You can unplug and spend time together fishing, biking, hiking, and rejuvenating in nature. If you’d rather have a staycation, pitch a tent in your backyard and spend the night under the stars.

6. BAKE A PIE TOGETHER

Autumn is definitely pie season! Apple pies, pumpkin pies, and sweet potato pies are all seasonal favorites, so pick your favorite to bake together and make an afternoon of it. When it’s done, make some apple cider or hot chocolate to wash it down.

7. PLAY IN THE LEAVES

Not much connects you to your inner child during fall quite like raking up a huge pile of leaves, then diving into them. Make your autumn yard clean-up a little more interesting this year by playing together while you work.

8. GO TO THE PUMPKIN PATCH

Take a day trip to the pumpkin patch to pick out your pumpkins for this year’s porch decorations. While you’re at it, take a hayride and play with the baby animals on the farm.

9. GET COZY BY THE FIRE

Chilly nights are the perfect excuse to put on some fuzzy socks, grab a comfy blanket, and snuggle up together by a roaring fire. Put on some relaxing music or watch your favorite scary movie (or fun, if you don’t like scary!) with your sweetie, and enjoy a date night in.

10. ATTEND A CARNIVAL OR FALL FESTIVAL

Fall festivals are a ton of fun, and the perfect setting for a date night. Get in on the cake walk, grab a candy apple or some cotton candy, play horseshoes or ring toss, and ride the rides like you’re a couple of kids again.

 

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

Sexual Frequency in Marriage: 3 Common Questions

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Sexual Frequency in Marriage: 3 Common Questions

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

At some point in every couple’s marriage—often in the early years—the question of sexual frequency comes up. They might find themselves wondering how often they “should” be having sex, how to agree on frequency, or whether they’re normal.

Today, we’re tackling three common questions about sexual frequency, and what you and your spouse can do to ensure the highest level of satisfaction and fulfillment for your marriage.

MY SPOUSE AND I HAVE VERY DIFFERENT SEXUAL NEEDS. HOW DO WE GET ON THE SAME PAGE?

Finding a healthy compromise between two different sex drives is a delicate, difficult subject for many couples. How do both of you meet each other’s needs and still get your needs met when the two of you are on such different pages?

Getting on the same page about sex requires give and take, and a generous spirit from both of you. It’s easy to fall into a rut of thinking, “I guess this is just the way it is; there’s nothing we can do about it.” There is absolutely something you can do for a more fulfilling sex life: start an ongoing dialogue about what you need from each other.

Don’t just have one conversation about sex and abandon the subject. Keep talking about it as often as you need to in order to meet each other’s needs, and get your own met. Neglecting this critical conversation can lead to one or both of you developing unhealthy sexual behaviors and attitudes surrounding sex.

We know of at least one couple that has a weekly sex talk to check in on their love life. They ask each other questions like, “Where are you at this week? What can we do to make sure sex is the best it can be?”

When you set aside time to talk about this, remember you’re both doing your best. You both have needs that may or may not be getting met at any given time, but it’s important not to make one another feel guilty about how things are going in your love life. This topic is already loaded and heavy; be careful not to add any unnecessary heaviness to the conversation.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet or particular solution that settles this issue, but if you keep that open dialogue, you’re much more likely to find fulfillment together. Simply talking to each other about it and being honest about your needs—and being willing to meet needs in your spouse that you may not share—is the key to reaching a happy medium.

WE ONLY HAVE SEX A FEW TIMES A MONTH, BUT IT’S GREAT! ARE WE NORMAL?

We hear this question so often, especially from newlywed couples. No matter how often you have sex, what matters is whether you’re both satisfied and fulfilled. What’s “normal” isn’t the issue—it’s about what works for you!

Studies have shown that sexual frequency in married couples ranged from four times to 45 times per month after two years of marriage. That’s a wide range! And chances are, your frequency is impacted by the season of life you’re in. Do you have a baby or young kids at home? Does one of you work a shift that isn’t conducive to frequent lovemaking? Are you helping to care for elderly parents or in-laws?

One thing we’ve found with many of the couples we’ve worked with over the years is that often, life circumstances may lower the frequency of sex. BUT, even when quantity goes down, the quality goes up. These couples’ emotional intimacy and understanding of one another’s needs leads to a fulfilling sex life despite the lower frequency.

Every couple has their own individual set of intimacy needs. If you’re having sex a frequency that feels low to you, check in with each other. Are you both happy with your sex life? This is a great way to learn whether you’re in sync, and whether you need to work together to make adjustments.

The key is not to reach a certain level of “normalcy;” instead, the key is to be satisfied. That’s a much easier—and more enjoyable!—goal to work toward.

WE USED TO MAKE LOVE ALL THE TIME, BUT LATELY, MY SPOUSE ISN’T AS INTERESTED. WHAT CAN I DO?

It’s true that frequency of sex can be an indicator of how your relationship is doing, especially if your spouse has experienced a sudden drop in interest. And, it’s easy to feel rejected when they don’t show the same level of sexual desire as they did in the past. But desire depends on so many factors, and often, they have more to do with your spouse personally than they have to do with you as a couple.

Sleep deprivation, emotional distress, preoccupation, and underlying health problems are just a few of the issues that can impact your spouse’s desire. To get to the bottom of this, one of the most important things you can do is talk to your spouse. Find a time to talk when you can both feel emotionally safe. In other words, don’t bring up the issue during lovemaking—it’s much too vulnerable of a time to talk about the problems you’ve perceived in your sex life, and it won’t work.

Don’t accuse your spouse or make them feel bad; instead, communicate openly until you get to the bottom of what’s going on, and be honest about what you want—and what you miss in your relationship. Most of all, be patient and let your spouse know you love them and you’re there for them. Remember, like most seasons, this one will most likely run its course, and you’ll move into a healthier season of lovemaking soon.

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

Finances: How to Get on the Same Page With Your Spouse

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Finances: How to Get on the Same Page With Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

Money is a loaded issue in most marriages because it represents the ability to get the things we need and want. It tends to become an issue of power, dictating who makes the decisions and whose dreams get fulfilled. Needless to say, discussions about money, bills, and budgeting can generate some powerful emotions.

It’s not always easy to navigate money matters, especially in the early years of your marriage. In today’s post, we’re going to explore some ways you and your spouse can get on the same page about your finances–and stay there.

WHICH ONE OF US SHOULD HANDLE THE FINANCES?

When it comes to handling the finances, the best decision is what works best for you as a couple. This could look like one spouse primarily handling all the finances (which is often the case in many marriages) or you could split responsibilities according to what each of you is most comfortable with handling. The most important thing is to generate positive discussion around the subject and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on each other as you hash it all out.

If you’re going to be handling the finances together, make a checklist of all the financial details that you and your spouse need to manage every month, then decide who handles each item. Create calendar reminders to keep up with payment due dates and be diligent to check in with each other to make sure all the bases are covered.

If just one of you is going to take on the bulk of the money management in your household, make sure you both agree to this arrangement and feel comfortable with it. One spouse taking the reins doesn’t mean he or she is going to be controlling your finances. Rather, the person who handles the majority of the bill-paying should primarily be taking care of recurring monthly payments and keeping an eye on where you stand financially.

However you decide to handle money in your marriage, agree together on the parameters surrounding it. It’s important to set a budget that will give each of you freedom, but also accountability; for example, you might want to decide how much spending money you each get every month that doesn’t require you to report back to each other or share every single receipt.

HOW DO WE PREVENT THE MONTHLY FIGHTS OVER BILLS AND BUDGETS?

If your regular financial check-ins tend to dissolve into ugly fights, take a step back to see how you can work together to prevent those unnecessary conflicts. Do you have different spending or saving styles? Does one or both of you hate dealing with financial matters? Does budgeting stress you out?

One easy way to prevent the monthly money fight is to make decisions about how your money gets dispersed before you ever sit down with the books. Then, figure out the non-negotiables for each of you; what items do you need every month (or every two months), and what do they cost? As we mentioned above, you might want to agree on a finite amount of money that each of you gets every month to avoid excessive check-ins surrounding purchases.

Automating some of your monthly bills can reduce the amount of work you have to do when you sit down with the finances. If one of you hates handling finances and wants to be hands-off, delegate the remaining bill-paying tasks to the other.

We all have different styles when it comes to money, so it’s important to know where you both stand and what’s going on with your money so you can make the best choices possible going forward. Some people like to spend; some like to save. Others are skilled at handling administrative tasks, while others are money-avoiders. Wherever you stand, don’t run from the subject of finances. Both of you really need to know what’s going on, whether one or both of you is ultimately handling the bills.

WHAT IF MY SPOUSE GETS DEFENSIVE EVERY TIME I BRING UP MONEY?

What do you do when you can barely broach the subject of money with your spouse? Does he or she become defensive when you attempt to discuss enacting a budget or reevaluating your finances?

A lot of people equate how much they make with how valuable they are to their spouses and families. It’s an identifiable, results-oriented way of defining themselves. If your spouse is feeling insecure about the amount of money they make, it’s possible that they could be mistakenly reading messages of disapproval from you when you bring up the topic.

It’s important to communicate to your spouse that you’re not evaluating their value as a person or a provider when you bring up financial matters. Tell them you respect them, you love the work they do for your family, and you want to strategize together so that you can both steward your money well.

If your spouse responds in a reactive or defensive way when you talk to them about money, it’s important to work together to find out where it’s coming from. Explore these issues in a natural course of conversation. How did their parents approach finances and make decisions regarding money? What were some differences between their family and yours? Maybe there are some deeply embedded beliefs in their mind that get triggered when you bring up the topic, and talking these things through could help you unravel them.

No matter what, remember that finances are an emotional issue for most couples–but don’t run from the conversation. It’s important to get on the same page with one another to create a shared vision for your future together.

If you would like help communicating about finances with your loved one, please give CornerStone Family Services a call at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

 

Stuck in a Rut? 3 Ways to Revive the Excitement in Your Marriage

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Stuck in a Rut? 3 Ways to Revive the Excitement in Your Marriage

By Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott

From time to time, every married couple gets stuck in a rut. It can happen for many different reasons, but the results are similar: ruts leave us feeling like life has just become “blah.”

Fortunately, this is totally normal–and you two can work together to break out of your rut if you’re willing to put in the effort. Today, we’ve put together 3 ways to revive the excitement in your marriage.

It’s important that you and your spouse work together to shake things up. Even though you might feel like you’re in a rut, your spouse might not; the important thing here is that you don’t make this personal, because it happens to everyone.

This rut isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault; it’s about some routines in your life you’d like to liven up. It’s not necessarily about your spouse, about you, or about your children. Communication is key here, so treat one another with kindness, understanding, and love as you move forward.

1. TAKE STOCK OF YOUR CURRENT ROUTINE.

If you feel like your life is on autopilot, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time stewing over it already. So, hash things out with your spouse. Whether you need to make a list together or just talk it through, get clear on the areas of your life where you’d like to have more variety.

Here are some common areas that can fall into a slump:

  • Date nights
  • Meals
  • Shared activities
  • Outings with friends
  • Sex
  • Daily routines
  • Family time

If the two of you mutually agree that certain parts of your life feel like they’re in a rut, prioritize those areas first and start making changes at whatever pace works best for your family. If you can only take baby steps, that’s fine–but start taking them now.

If you disagree, see if you can find a happy medium that will work for both of you. Is there something you can both compromise on? For example, let’s say your spouse has a cooking routine that he or she follows for meal prep every week and you want to shake it up–but your spouse is resistant. Work together to land on a few meal ideas that could fit into the existing routine instead of changing it completely.

Breaking out of a rut takes work, but it’s well worth the effort. Ready to liven things up?

2. BREAK YOUR ROUTINE…ON PURPOSE.

Once you and your spouse have decided on what areas in your life need a little extra spark, it’s time for action. Here are a few ideas for the areas we listed above:

  • Date nights – Too comfortable going out to the same places over and over? For an entire month, commit to trying out new destinations for your romantic date nights.
  • Meals – Try at least one new meal at home every week. It’ll allow you to hold onto the stability of your existing routine, while throwing something and exciting into the mix.
  • Shared activities – Instead of going to the tennis court for your daily exercise, why not try biking together? Make a list of a few new activities you’d like to try, pick one, and go for it.
  • Outings with friends – If your outings with other married couples have fallen into too predictable of a routine, suggest something new. For example, if your weekly get-together has always involved playing cards, ask if your friends might be up for a different game instead.
  • Sex – It’s not uncommon to let outside responsibilities reduce our sex lives to a predictable pattern. Set aside some extra time alone together and break that routine!
  • Daily routines – If you feel like you’re just going through the motions everyday, find ways to make your routine more pleasant when you’re starting your day. Maybe you’ve got it down to a science, but it just feels boring; why not play some new, upbeat music to make it feel more exciting?
  • Family time – Not feeling very creative when it’s time to go out with the spouse and kids? Ask the kids for ideas!

Once you’ve begun changing your usual pattern around–even if it’s just in a small way–you’ll start to feel reinvigorated and more excited about life.

3. PLAN TO BE MORE SPONTANEOUS.

We know, we know–it sounds crazy. But if you and your spouse plan to be deliberately spontaneous more often, spontaneity will actually happen! (And, it won’t feel contrived.) Set yourself a reminder on your calendar every week to do something out-of-the-blue that will be fun, romantic, or exciting for you and your spouse.

Most of us crave some measure of spontaneity in our marriages, but when it’s not happening, we don’t know how to address it. Even though it can feel strange to set an intention or make plans to be more spontaneous, it’ll pay dividends–we promise!

Life is busy and things can get mundane; sometimes, the only way to combat that is to decide you’re not going to let it stay the same. Don’t wait for one another to liven things up; talk about it, and then take action.

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

How to Intentionally Pursue Joy With Your Spouse

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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.

7 Ways to Seek Peace First in Your Marriage

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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.