Money Talks and So Should You

It’s often said that money is the number one  cause of stress in a marriage. It is not true. Money, in and of itself, does not cause any stress. Whether you have a little or  abundance, stress is caused by what you do with the money you have.

Many people think if they had more money they’d have less stress. More money can get you more things, but also more stress. Lack of money may tempt some to go into debt to get more stuff because of a false belief that more things will make them happier. And everyone knows that  too much debt is super stressful.

Dealing with all the issues revolving around money will never go away, whether you are young and newly married or older and ready to retire. How you deal with money in your relationship is extremely important. Failing to navigate this area in your daily lives means your relationship will be plagued by tension and strife. Better to deal with it sooner rather than later.

So what’s true about your relationship?

– Do you find yourselves fighting about money issues on a regular basis?
Are you worried about bills and debt?
Are you worried about providing for your children?
– Are your worried about your future and retirement?
– On some money issues are you in a cold war with your spouse?
– Are you diametrically opposed on some spending decisions?
– Is one spouse feeling angry or betrayed because the other won?
– Do you feel that money is a wedge between you and your spouse?

If you answered yes to some or all of the questions above, the issues around money are clearly causing stress in your marriage. And unlike the common cold, it will never get better over time if just left alone. You need to have a game plan for success, a strategy, so the money issues no longer plague you.

Similar to an overweight person, ignoring their condition will change nothing. It takes a conscious effort to adopt a healthy lifestyle of good eating and exercise. He must face the challenge of personal growth and practice the necessary changes. To complete the analogy, those of us who have accumulated excess debt and can’t pay our bills are financially obese!

It is time to decide we must exercise our will and limit our spending.

Personal growth is painful and by definition requires change but the rewards far outweigh the cost. Envision your relationship virtually free from the stresses and worries about money and you’ll feel like a miracle happened.

If you and your spouse have stress in this area, I hope you stay tuned for future blogs, when I will go over some basic principles about money and spending.

Maybe there will be a miracle in your future!

More on Daily Doses of Selfless Serving

Everyone wants to have a great marriage. When dating, couples will often think “How can our relationship be anything but perfect? We are so in love and we have no problems.” So what happens? Why is the illusion of uninterrupted bliss destroyed?

There is a component in most dating relationships that is unique. While dating, we tend to be other centered. We are generally more thoughtful, kind, and considerate. We go out of our way to do special things for each other. We are less inclined to make a big problem and have a long discussion over minor disagreements. We tend to see the best in each other. We are more forgiving and less apt to hold a grudge. There is a high degree of serving and loving each other selflessly.

What happens to relationships over time? Why does the euphoria of dating disappear to be replaced by the doldrums of daily life? Quite simply, for many couples, making their spouse a priority is replaced with other priorities.

Here’s how to keep the love alive and growing. Get in the habit; yes make it a habit, of doing kind selfless acts of service for your spouse. This can be accomplished in word and deed.

Praise and compliments should be the ordinary.

“Thank you, honey. That was a wonderful dinner. You’re such a good cook.”   or…

“Thanks so much for fixing that. It really helps me.”

The daily things we do for each other are often taken for granted. Verbalize your appreciation. Express your thankfulness with a hug and a kiss. Look for opportunities to verbalize your awareness that your spouse has done something for which you are thankful.

Selfless acts of service can take many forms. Never underestimate the power of a neck or foot rub. After a long day at work, if your spouse has to bring home some of that day’s work and is hunched over the computer long after dinner, sneak up behind him/her and begin a five or ten minute neck and shoulder message. Whisper something endearing about how his/her efforts every day are really appreciated.

And since I am a firm believer in reciprocity, the thoughtful selfless spouse can offer a relaxing foot massage to the wife who has been on her feet all day at work or taking care of the kids and shopping and cleaning. These simple deeds profoundly nourish the relationship. They offer daily doses of love.

You need to be the expert on your spouse. What acts of service or words of affirmation are most meaningful to them? ASK them and make a habit of making these a priority in your day.  Each day, find ways to serve your spouse. Nurture your love daily and before long it will seem like your still dating.

A Time For Everything

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYou will find quite a list concerning time in Ecclesiastes 3. Take a few minutes to read it.

Consider these:

A time to Heal
A time to Build up
A time to Laugh
A time to Dance
A time to Plant
A time to Embrace
A time to Keep
A time to Mend
A time to be Silent
A time to Speak
A time to Love

 

How have you been using your time in relationship to your marriage? For many of us our relationship with our spouse gets the left overs.

We get it that we have to go to work and pay the bills and do the laundry and take care of the kids and fix the broken things around the house and mow the lawn and… and… and… The list has no end. There is always another item to add to the over-filled list.

Somehow, we accomplish so much but we are exhausted. Our spouse is exhausted. And when we find a few minutes here and there to give, we are emotionally empty and have little left for the most important person in our life. Leftovers!

How does this happen?

In Ephesians 3:15-16 we are admonished to

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.

Sometimes we let others set our priorities for how we spend our time. Begin to make the most of your time by setting your own priorities and limits. If you are pulled in many directions by your boss, or friends, ex, children, and extended family, then take time to consider your priorities and honestly assess how much quality time you are spending together with your spouse. Maybe you could set some limits so that your spouse gets more than just the leftovers. Be intentional with your use of time.

So, what about it? Want a better relationship? Look at the next three or four weeks and plan what days and times you will set aside for each other. Then, and this can be a little tough, especially for the hyper busy among us, set aside a weekend away together. No kids, no phones, no laptops, no leftovers. A full meal deal, so to speak!

Yes, a real getaway!  And here’s your   To Do List:

♥  a time to laugh

Photo by John Nyberg♥  a time to build up

♥  a time to dance

♥  a time to embrace

♥  a time to love

That Really Bugs Me!

Do some of the things your spouse does really bug you?  You know those little habits that are so annoying.  For the most part, you have probably developed a coping mechanism that keeps things on an even keel.  Well, most of the time things stay on an even keel.  But in reality, you are just coping.  You are burying it.  You keep yourself from saying anything because you just don’t want to have another argument over a simple little thing.  Why bring it up again and make a mess out of things.  It’s easier to ignore it and forget it.

It certainly can be handled by using the “ignore it” method.  Is that really the best way to deal with it though?  Remember, when you “bury” things, even little things, it creates an unspoken barrier between you and your spouse.  It may even be a little barrier, but nevertheless a barrier.  These small unspoken issues can dampen the spark in your relationship.  You need to be on guard and not allow the little things to grow into big things.

Let’s look at an example like the classic clothes on the floor.  To be sure, he’s gotten better over the years but for some reason he still can’t seem to remember where the clothes hamper is.  Home from work, he goes in to change and sure enough, he leaves his clothes strewn on the floor again.  So, what do you do?  If you pick them up  —  again  —  and say nothing, what will change?  If you bring it up, you feel like you’re just nagging, again.

How about a new strategy?  Remember, many of life’s issues need to be lovingly negotiated.  You need to collaborate together to come to a positive resolution.  Try to be optimistic without being overly expectant.  In other words, be hopeful that things can change, but be realistic.  Some habits take years to change.  Be willing to work together without a harsh or negative attitude.  Try opening a discussion with “Can we talk about something later when you have a little time?”  Set aside uninterrupted time to have a talk together.  Bring the subject up with a spirit of wanting to work things out so that you can enjoy a closer relationship. The goal should be that you are closer and have a better relationship, not just that he remembers to pick up his clothes.

When you have time, try to work out some possible solutions to the issue.  Let him know how you feel and why it is important to you.  Be willing to work toward a solution over time.  Usually there is no need for an immediate fix.  Things truly can get better over time.

Also, always apply the rule of loving each other, even when daily annoyances bug you.  Work at resolving your issues, but work more at committing to love and forgive one another.

Personal Growth

Here’s a fun date night suggestion –

Go to your local book store and go to the self-help section or the relationship section.  What a selection you’ll find there.  Here a sample of what may be available:

 

And the following obviously missed the memo about sticking to the number seven if you want to have a successful relationship book:

Then there’s the overachiever who went way beyond:

I really like the books that tell me right up front that something’s a secret.  Going to have to read that one for sure.  Or the one about Ten Stupid Things Couples Do  —  Only ten?  I think us guys can get a lot of benefit out of 1001 ways to be Romantic, mainly because we can usually only come up with three, and the third one is just a slight variation on number two!

For your date night, you and your spouse can browse the various titles.  Read the back cover or the inside flap of the books, which usually gives a quick overview of the book.  Find three that appeal to you and have your spouse find three. Swap your selections and narrow them down to the top two for each.  Then, put all four on the table and together pick the one you feel would benefit you both the most.

Next:  Over the next few weeks go through the book together.  You can read several chapters by yourselves and take notes and then discuss what you have read, or you can read it together and discuss it as you go.  I have found that most books have several real gems, real key ideas that particularly apply to you individually or to you as a couple.  Make it your objective to find something that is spot on, something that really resonates with you, that makes you say, “There’s some real truth there.  I need to work on that”, or “We need to work on that”.

The objective should be to uncover things that would help you grow as a person or help you grow closer together. Focus on being positive and avoid the “I told you so” trap.  We all need to grow and we can grow best when we are supported by a loving spouse.

Cleaning up the Mess

Last time we talked about your relationship being like a shop. Over time it gets cluttered with boxes of “stuff.” Hurt feelings and unmet needs hinder a relationship from being close. Some of us begin our marriage with baggage that we carry from when we grew up. We seldom begin with a “clean shop” so to speak. Before we come back from the honeymoon our shop is already piled with clutter.

So how do we apply common sense to clean up the clutter in our relationship?

First, honestly assess the quality of your relationship. Both spouses should independently score themselves from 1 to 10 on the following:

  • overall quality of our relationship
  • time together
  • communication
  • finances
  • physical health
  • free time
  • relatives
  • kids
  • romance
  • sex life
  • mutual trust
  • household chores
  • handling problems and decisions
  • spiritual life
  • church involvement
  • goals
  • dreams
  • desires

Add additional items if you feel they are needed.

Now, each should list about 10 items that you really appreciate about your spouse and any items that are a struggle. Honesty is important. Hiding issues lets “boxes of stuff” remain covered.

Now list four things that you feel would help your relationship grow closer.

And finally, list anything that has really hurt you. This can be difficult. It requires that you dig deep. Often when we have been hurt, we bury our feelings because they are too hurtful to talk about. But these particular “clutter boxes” can be the very issues that keep us from being truly close. We can easily overlook socks left on the floor, but deeply felt wounds are like invisible forces that keep us from being close. (More on Hurt and Forgiveness in a future blog.)

Completing the assessment above is merely a first step to let you know if you have clutter in your relationship. The list and your answers will help you to begin a discussion on how to take a particular area and begin the process of making it a 9 or a 10.

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. The shop is “our shop.” It isn’t “your box of junk.” Both must realize that in order to have a close relationship you both need to be responsible to work on getting it healthy. Look at an area of concern in this light: What can “we” do together to work at making this issue less of a hindrance to us having a close relationship.
  2. Patience should guide your actions. It took us a week to clean up our messy shop. Relationships are much more complex and patience is needed to allow time to resolve issues. We bring issues into our relationships that have been issues since we were young children. They take time to work through. Don’t try to resolve them all at once. Take a few steps and be thankful for your progress. Be patient and gracious with each other.
  3. Communicate with each other in a kind, loving, and non-demanding manner. Remember that you are working at cleaning issues up so you can enjoy the richness of a soul mate relationship.