Making the Most of Marriage

Making the Most of Marriage

Marriage is hard work. Some people make it look easy.

I’ve been reading a few books lately about people with successful, happy marriages and their secrets.

I have also spent some time thinking about people in my life who have had long, successful marriages and what have made it so.

There are two things that are present in all these examples: Trust and Communication.

Sounds pretty easy and foundational right?

I was amazed when I asked a few friends what trust and communication looked like in a marriage to find how many struggled to come up with a definition or example.

Here are my thoughts. Trust in marriage is simple to define if you have it. It means that every aspect of your life is safe in the hands of the other person.

That means that each half of the couple looks out for the other physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

And here’s the best part of trust in successful marriages: this trust is given and received automatically by both parties without having to discuss it, measure it or ask for it.

It just is.

Communication, likewise, in loving and successful marriages is almost a natural extension of the marriage itself.

It means the couple is willing to communicate about anything and everything. It does not mean the couple has to agree.

But both are free to express themselves verbally or non verbally and know that the other will respect and accept their opinion.

It just is.

That is what makes it not hard to define, but hard to achieve. It takes time to develop and it takes practice and work to keep it consistent so that a marriage will stand the test of time, trials and testaments.

Making the most of your marriage is a worthwhile effort and looking back years from now to see the success and strength in your relationship is a blessing.

And it all begins and ends the same same way: with trust and communication.

The Good Neighbor Policy

The Good Neighbor Policy

Some would say our communities are becoming more dangerous and our safety less secure.  And that for the most part we are letting it happen.  Many people who find themselves thinking, feeling and believing this are reaping what they have sown.

More and more, I see people, in my neighborhood who do not even acknowledge the people living around them.  They ignore the person across the street, the kids playing in the yards or the lost dog.

The world is changing–people have forgotten or never learned the importance of community.  They don’t care about anything that doesn’t directly affect them–what they don’t realize is that their attitude towards their neighbors is hurting themselves.

How? They have stopped caring, stopped being involved in our communities, and have stopped thinking about the well being of themselves and those around them.  And then lamenting when something goes wrong.  We absolutely need to do something about it.

I am not talking about being the nosy neighbor that pulls out the by laws of the Home owner’s Association and berates their neighbors for not hiding their trash cans on the right side of their homes.

I am talking about being a good neighbor.

Now I have been very blessed in my life to always have good neighbors.  I hope in the bottom of my heart that my neighbors have thought of me as a good neighbor as well.

I don’t believe the complainers, the people who don’t care about others, the ones who scare others with talk of crime and mischief.

These are the traits of good neighbors:

Good neighbors watch out for each other–they know who lives in each house, the cars they drive and who their kids are.  Many good neighbors will know which dog or cat belongs to which human.

Good neighbors will pick up a newspaper, or trash if they see it in a neighbor’s yard and they know that person is out of town.

Good neighbors keep an eye out when there are strangers about.

Good neighbors are always willing to lend a hand mowing lawns, mending a fence, fixing a car or preparing for a hurricane and evacuation.

Good neighbors will give time, lend tools and provide advice especially from older neighbors to younger, less experienced homeowners.

Good neighbors are not afraid to call in the authorities when they see something that is not right, that is not normal for their community.

Good neighbors worry about others, not just themselves.

With the world changing all around us–be a good neighbor–the benefits of this are directly felt by yourself.

 

Countdown to Christmas

Countdown to Christmas

I know, I know…it is shameful to think of Christmas right after Halloween with still 2 1/2 weeks until Thanksgiving…but today markes 50 days to Christmas and I have still not gotten one Christmas gift!

Some of you may think that I am over-reacting but if you knew me you would know that usually I begin my Christmas shopping in July and by Halloween the only task I have left is the wrapping.

In years past starting early and having everything taken care of way before the blessed day has helped me reduce the holiday stress and spread out any expenses over several months–which of course further helps reduce the holiday stress.

I have always done very deliberate planning for the holidays so that I do not fall into the consumer trap of over buying or feeling obligated to gift people that are normally not on my list.

I also have made it a point, in the last 10 years now, to purchase a few toys and clothing items to donate for kids that have less than we do. It’s what I believe the season is for.

I don’t know how this year has gotten away with me…but it did.  I love Christmas, but I do not love the added rush around craziness that comes with it.  Here are a few tips to help you have a stress free Merry Christmas.

  1. Make a list of the people you would like to get gifts for–and check it twice.
  2. Understand what your budget is for the season and stay true to your limits.
  3. Think of unique ways to “gift” the people on the list.
  4. Shop as early in the day as you can when you go out to shop.
  5. Consider online shopping to avoid traffic, long lines, product shortages and frustrations.

Ultimately, Christmas should not be about the presents under the tree but the people around it.  Spending time with those you love–family and friends–is much more important than finding the perfect coffee maker, 45 tools in one, trendy toy of this year.

50 days to go folks!  Make them count and enjoy the season.

For the Love of Peace

For the Love of Peace

If I have learned anything in these first 50 years of my life is that you cannot have peace when you are at war–war with ourselves or war with others.

My dad’s favorite thing on his Christmas list each year when I was growing up–and well into my adulthood–was Peace.

We’d say: “What do you want for Christmas dad?”

And he would always say “Peace”.

It took me a long time to understand what he meant–but I did get it about 10 years ago. And from the moment I finally figured out what my dad meant, I wanted the same thing.

Our world today is filled with strife, anger and hatred.

There is no peace globally or politically or even among religious groups that you would think would be all about peace.

Yet there are people, families and community units that are peaceful. And peace is achievable.

Let me tell you how to achieve some peace in your life but first, let me define what I see as peace.

Peace means that you separate yourself (and your family) from negativity, chaos, worry, and deception.

That doesn’t mean these things are not all around us–but that you do not allow them to effect you.

Here’s how:

  1. Wake up each day and embrace the opportunities the day has for you. Be positive. If today is a difficult day, know that your contribution to the world is felt through the ripple effects you leave in your wake. Smile at someone today, thank someone today, go out of your way for someone else–it does have an impact.
    Remove toxic people from your life. I’ve written about this before because I believe it is so important. You do not have to associate with people who are toxic to you. Wish them well, block their phone number, remove them from your Social Media and stop, when possible, from spending unnecessary time with them.
  1. Mind your own business. Take care of yourself and those closest to you. Avoid getting involved in petty arguments or hard feelings with people that don’t matter in your life. Those people are “peace busters”. Don’t stir the pot, as my dad would say, it only brings the stink out of what is in the pot.
  1. Live with integrity and honesty. Do your job, pay your bills on time, be truthful and honest in your dealings with others, take care of your responsibilities. These things will keep a positive and protective aura around you.

Peace is achievable. Peace lets you sleep well at night, keeps you safe from harm in an uncertain world and can spread to those you love.

The choice is ours to make, peace is always there but each person must want it badly enough to turn away from the chaos.

For the love of peace–give yourself and those you love this gift. Thanks dad!