How Hot is Your Marriage?

Everybody thinks they desire a “hot” relationship. Steamy, passionate, physical… These aren’t bad things, but are they sustainable? In this episode, learn how to create a bed of coals in your marriage that will keep your fire burning even amidst storms or seasons of neglect.

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2020 Vision for Your Marriage

It’s a new year and a new decade. Time to create a vision for your marriage and focus on continuous improvement in your relationship. We’re planning a conference to help you do that.

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Happy Valentine's Day

Mehh…

Valentine’s Day is a funny day for me. Lot’s of people come up to me or to Tara and want to know what we did to celebrate. After all – we are the quintessential, happily married couple, right?

It’s funny, most years we don’t do anything to recognize this particular “holiday”. Okay, yesterday I was at Costco and saw lots of guys carrying out flowers, so I felt a little guilty – I bought Tara a dozen roses. I gave them to her when I got home – she looked a little surprised, but was appreciative.

My act initiated an interesting conversation between the two of us. It’s almost as if this “Hallmark created holiday” is used to guilt people into showing love for their spouse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge believer in buying flowers for Tara or showing her my love in a variety of other ways. But somehow buying (over priced) flowers on this day seems to almost diminish that.

As I think about all of those guys buying flowers at Costco yesterday, I wonder – how many of them are in good marriages? How many of them think they would be in trouble with their wives if they didn’t buy them flowers? I personally know of several dysfunctional couples (e.g. the classic living as roommates) that still exchange gifts on this day. Today they’re all lovey-dovey, but tomorrow they will slip back into their routine of taking each other for granted.

Eons ago when I was dating Tara, Valentine’s Day was a big deal to me. I was in the selling mode. I wanted to win her over by wooing her every opportunity that I had. Fast forward nearly forty years… I still try to woo her, but I have learned from experience that an unexpected bouquet on a random Tuesday evening makes a much larger impression on her than the obligatory flowers in mid-February. Showing her that I love her by speaking her love language on an ongoing basis has a much bigger (and more lasting) effect than fighting the crowds on this day to a restaurant.

Please don’t misinterpret me. I am still a hopeless romantic, but I want Tara to know that the love I express to her comes from my heart, and not just from the calendar. The key is to meet your spouse’s needs where they are. If they would be hurt if you didn’t recognize Valentine’s Day, then by all means celebrate it! But don’t limit yourself on expressing your love. Keep the fires burning year round by being spontaneous and unexpected.

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2020 Vision for Your Marriage

It’s a new year and a new decade. Time to create a vision for your marriage and focus on continuous improvement in your relationship. We’re planning a conference to help you do that.

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Fall in Love Every Day

In this busy holiday season, it is important to keep your marriage as a top priority. Hear how one couple intentionally falls in love everyday and makes the choice to keep their marriage strong. That’s one habit that leads to a shocking marriage

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Prioritizing Marriage

Your spouse should be the most important person in your life. So why is it that so many put them on the back burner of life when it comes to prioritizing time and money? In this episode, hear the dangers of taking your spouse for granted and the joys of putting them first.

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Looking Forward

Marriages that are in distress spend all of their time looking backward, assigning blame and keeping score. Healthy marriages look forward with an ongoing effort to get to a better place. Hear how to accomplish that in your marriage in this episode.

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Don’t Live Life in Your Rear View Mirror

Photo by Shukhrat Umarov on Pexels.com

I have traveled to India several times. One thing that always amazes me is the traffic and the way people drive there. A given four-lane road may contain seven actual lanes, consisting of cars, trucks, scooters, pedestrians and cows. Despite the seeming chaos, it seems to work for the locals. In one car I was riding in I noticed there was no rear view mirror. I asked the driver about that and will never forget his response. “I don’t care about what is behind me, only what lies ahead”. In his mind if all the drivers behind him had the same attitude he would be perfectly safe.

One thing that I have come to notice in working with couples in marital distress – they are all focused on the past. They are quick to point out the flaws and the misdeeds of their spouse. Give them sufficient time and they will provide a list of infractions going back for years. I call this “Living in the Rear View Mirror”. Couples in this state have a hard time seeing where they are at the moment; they certainly aren’t able to look ahead. When you encourage a couple like this to consider what could lie ahead of them, they are often unable to do so without looking to the past. For them, the road ahead looks exactly like the road behind them, but in their minds it will only be worse.

Couples in healthy (dare I say, Shocking) marriages remember the past, but they don’t live there. They have an understanding that while they may have been through some rough patches in their relationship, that is strictly behind them. While they make an effort to learn from such seasons, they don’t assume that they are doomed to live in them forever. They have a strong sense of moving forward. Their destination is up to them and they work diligently to make sure they continue to head in the direction they’ve chosen.

Couples focused on the rear view mirror are score keepers. Individuals in these relationships will typically tell you (sometimes in agonizing detail) how they are behind in the sick game they are playing. Their spouses have treated them far worse than what they have done in return. So consciously or not, they feel the need to even the score by lashing out with demeaning words or unkind actions. The self-implied rules they live by prevent them from moving forward in any meaningful way.

The reality is, you can’t change the past, you can only learn from it. Regardless of who did what to who and how many times, it’s time to stop the game without declaring a winner. It’s time to throw that game in the garbage, so that it can never be picked up and played again. It’s time to declare a new, intentional future. Draw a line in the sand distinguishing your old way of living from your new. Create a few positive, proactive rules to keep you on track. Jointly decide where it is you want to go and begin planning your route to get there.

For those of you that prefer literal directions over analogies – ask yourselves, “Where do we want to be (relationally) in the future?” Pick a time period, one month, six months or one year. Define what you want to look and act like at that time. Then determine the steps you need to make in the near term in order to achieve that goal.

If you are in a marriage that is living in your rear view mirror, I would encourage you to do like that Indian driver and tear it out. Focus on the road ahead and work to get to a better place.

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Effective Communication Part 2

We continue the topic of effective communication this week, focusing on more subtle aspects such as non-verbal and tone. So many couples struggle with this but it doesn’t have to be so hard. Become a student of your spouse and be intentional. This episode will provide you with specific tips on how to do just that.

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Effective Communication

Communication seems to be a huge issue in most marriages. Both spouses complain that their partner is not listening. It really boils down to a few key issues. Focus on these, and you can reduce your frustration dramatically!

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