Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Marriage Challenge Community

Life is better with people along for the ride. With The Marriage Challenge, you have tools to have conversations with your spouse, but that's just two people. It's good to work on your marriage together, but it's also helpful to go through the process with a group. When we first did the 2010 Marriage Challenge it was a group of us working through the process together. Every week we would get to have a conversation about our conversations (that's a lot of conversations!).

Now that the book is published, we can still have a community experience. You're not alone as you do this. That's a good thing since we all have different experiences we can all help each other to understand marriage and The Marriage Challenge better. Andrea and I aren't the experts on your marriage, you are. We're just giving you some tools to work on your marriage (and we're going to work on ours).

So starting on March 1st, we're going to start going through the conversations together on the Facebook Page (at facebook.com/MarriageChallenge). If you have any questions, post them. If you have comments, post them. If you have additional thoughts, post them. Let's help each other to have better marriages!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Proud of My Wife

My wife and I are both in a community choir (this one) and in a few days we're going to have some concerts based on Broadway musicals. When we sing the song "Whenever I'm Afraid" from "The King and I," my wife has the solo. Yup, my wife. I'm incredibly proud of her for challenging herself to do this and for being successful at it.

We are both proud of each other for different reasons, but I think that pride is an important thing to feel about our spouse. It gives you a reason to brag about them. It helps them to feel better about themselves. It's just nice.

Why are you proud of your spouse? What could you do to foster pride in your spouse (remember, it's not something they need to do, but something you can choose to do)?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The State of the Marriage Retreat

You might think it looks like this
This weekend Andrea and I are headed off on our annual State of the Marriage retreat. It got that name because the first time around we did it right after the president's State of the Union address. We head away for a night to talk through all the big conversations in our marriage.

You may notice conversations that build up over time. You know, those arguments, those criticism, those thoughts that just never seem to be resolved through day-to-day conversation. If you don't have a release for the pressure of all those unsaid words, it will explode at some point. Our retreat is a safety-valve that releases the pressure of those conversations in a controlled manner.

We collect all those things that need hashing out (budget, goals, big life decisions, sex life, arguments, etc.) and talk about them all over the course of a night away. We've been doing this for the last seven years and it's helped to make our marriage stronger and more stable.

Do you have any questions about the State of the Marriage retreat?

It really looks more like this
Have you ever done anything like this? How did it work for you?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope you have a great Valentine's day and it exceeds all your expectations.

But that's usually the problem with this day (and a lot of "romantic" holidays), they don't exceed our expectations and so they become a constant source of disappointment and fear. The person in the relationship with the high expectations is disappointed and the person who fails to meet those expectations becomes afraid. The cycle continues, year after year, holiday after holiday, until everyone just wants to give up.

There's another option though. You don't have to give up on romance or celebrating love on the fourteenth day of February. But instead of expecting others to live up to your expectations, you can choose to show them love. It's a powerful switch.

Instead of the cycle of disappointment and fear, you'll start to see a cycle of surprise and delight. The pleasant surprise of being loved will delight the person who has, up to this point, been afraid of romantic holidays. After time, that delight will be returned as surprise to the person who started it all. It may not happen the first time (or the second or the third, if you're several cycles into fear and disappointment), but eventually you'll turn things around and move toward surprise and delight.

How can you change your expectations for Valentine's Day?

Note: this post was inspired by Breanna Newbill of Dollar Store Mom and the book Love and Respect

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Laugh Together

Laughter is an amazing thing, it releases energy, improves your mood, relieves stress and helps to reset your body chemistry. Even pretending to laugh can show some of the positive effects of laughter, because the physical connection to our mental and emotional state is so strong. Shared laughter builds a shared emotional state (plus it's fun).

Fair warning, talking about humor automatically makes it less funny, sorry, that's just the way it is.

You will have differences in your humor, that's to be expected. One of you might love slapstick and clowns while the other loves the wordplay of Dennis Miller (while neither of those options sounds funny to me in the least). Enjoy your differences, experience them and appreciate them, but don't dwell on them when you're together. When you sit down together, find the things that make you both laugh.

It might be a rousing game of Pictionary that set you both to giggling like school-girls or you might be thrilled by Prairie Home Companion on NPR. Experiment to see what sets you both to laughing, be it episodes of Arrested Development or Fawlty Towers. Find time to laugh together and the rest of your relationship will feel better too.

What gets you to laughing? What about your spouse?