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Posted: January 6, 2012

This message is not for the faint of heart. But if you are on a quest to radically enrich your marriage and family relationships; proceed with caution and equip yourself with a willing and eager attitude. I am not an advocate of New Year’s resolutions; but I am a big believer in the fact that our life’s journey is enriched when we are willing to embrace that we need to constantly “learn and unlearn”. Here is one guaranteed way to achieve this.

Every News Years Day my husband and I go for a long “New Years Walk”. On this sojourn we talk about the previous year; the blessings, joys, celebrations and what worked and what did not work. Then we move on to our hopes, dreams, desires for the coming year. We also discuss practical items; that we need a new dishwasher and we will probably have to replace the roof in the next couple of years.  Now comes the hard stuff.  We give each other permission to express our thoughts and feelings about what we want the other person to STOP and to START.

This is where the “proceed with caution” warning comes in. We have to realize we are all sensitive human beings; especially when we start to examine our characters, habits, idiosyncrasies and faults. But in order to grow as human beings, and learn to enrich our marriage relationship, we have to tackle those dark, “do not touch” topics. It is crucially important that we approach this conversation with an open heart and understanding; and that we must take care not to get defensive, or feel rejection and blame.  On the other hand; we have to be bold to express our concerns; but they must be lathered in love and with the intent to UNLEARN bad or hurtful behavior and LEARN to grow in compassion, understanding and forgiveness.

It might go something like this:

1.         “Honey, you know how upset I get when we start talking about money. Can we please START a new rule to NOT talk about money after 10:00 P.M.? Let’s pick a time when we are not tired; but open minded and fresh enough to discuss money rationally.”  

2.         “The toughest part of the day for me is between 5:00 and 7:00 when supper needs to get on the table; and the children need baths and bedtime stories. While the children are young, could I ask you to please START to come home from work a little earlier to give me more support during this crucial time. I need more help from you and here’s some ways you can make this time easier for all of us.” (Then list some specific, practical ways they can help.)

3.         “Sometimes I feel like your computer, i-pad and phone are more important than the people in the room. It really hurts me to think that those items take precedence over the people you love.While we are together as a family, could I please ask you to STOP spending so much time on your computer gadgets?”

 4.        “I know that you want to take care of your family and provide well for us. I must confess that the hours you spend at the office, golfing and at the gym are making me feel those things are more important than your family.  I miss you and we need to figure out how we can spend more time together talking, laughing and enjoying each other. What can you do to STOP being away from the house so much?”

These are some examples of tough conversations that need to take place if you want your marriage and family life to flourish.  The bible says, “My dear children, let’s not talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves” (1 John 3:18-20 MSG),

One of the key words in these verses is the word PRACTICE. This is accomplished through LEARNING and UNLEARNING.  Why not get serious this year and help your marriage to flourish through having your first STOP-START New Year’s Walk. It will be tough…but worth it. I guarantee it.

Posted in: Balancing life, Beauty through Boldness, Communication, Control, Encouragement, Expectations, Fear, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Freedom, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Kindness, Making Wise Choices, Patience, Resentment, Respect, Tension, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued

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