Monthly Archives: December 2011

Our year in review (questions you can ask your spouse)

It’s that time of year when bloggers are doing their “Year in Review” blogs…. yet to add a twist to this concept of reviewing the year gone by as we prepare for the New Year, I want to encourage you and your spouse to set aside some time, when you will not be disturbed, and look at your year in review.

When couples live together for a while, they can sometimes begin to think that they “know” their spouse, and they “know” what he/she thinks and feels. Even if this year you two have faced infidelity, or are facing unfaithfulness right now, please do two things: 1) set aside time to ask your spouse these question, and then 2) really LISTEN to your spouse’s response. It is natural that in order to justify their affair, your spouse will magnify everything that’s wrong with you and the marriage (how could they possibly cheat if things were good?). But it’s also true that assuming you “know” what they think and feel will lead to disaster! Even if it is with a grain of salt, LISTEN as your spouse explains to you what life is like–in their world…in their thoughts…in their feelings–because there are TWO of you in this marriage (not just you and what you expect).

So first, read over the questions and organize your own answers honestly and thoroughly. Be transparent so that your spouse sees the True You…but also please don’t forget to be kind. Second, one of you answer all of the questions, one-at-a-time, out loud. While one of you is answering, the other should only listen or ask clarifying questions. Then switch roles and the second spouse answers all of the questions, one-at-a-time, out loud…and while he/she is answering, the other should only listen or ask clarifying questions

Here are the questions (from “Getting to Know Your Spouse Better” by Brent A. Barlow on the Family Dynamics Institute website) :

  • In our marriage, I feel loved when you …
  • In our marriage, I feel appreciated when you …
  • In our marriage, I am happiest when …
  • In our marriage, I am saddest when …
  • In our marriage, I am angriest when …
  • In our marriage, I would like more …
  • In our marriage, I would like less …
  • In our marriage, I feel awkward when …
  • In our marriage, I feel uneasy when …
  • In our marriage, I feel excited when …
  • In our marriage, I feel close to you when …
  • In our marriage, I feel distant from you when …
  • In our marriage, I feel most afraid when …
  • My greatest concern/fear about our marriage is …
  • What I like most about myself is …
  • What I dislike most about myself is …
  • The feelings that I have the most difficulty sharing with you are …
  • The feelings that I can share most easily with you are …
  • Our marriage could be greatly improved with just a little effort if we …
  • The one thing in our marriage that needs the most immediate attention is …
  • The best thing about our marriage is …

 

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Luke 2 – The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Ten things you DON’T have to do during “The Holidays”

Here it is–“The Holidays”–and as if the stress of all those parties, decorating, presents, relatives, and the expectation to make the Holidays “perfect” were not enough, your spouse is having an affair and everything has turned upside down!  When your spouse has turned into their Evil Twin, and they are trying to say the kids are okay sharing the holidays with the Other Person, and you feel everything you believed in has been shaken and crumbled…HOW are you supposed to get through The Holidays?  I’ve noticed lately that when I write an article, I tend to write almost a whole book, so in an effort to make it easier and a little shorter, here are ten things you just DO NOT have to do this year during The Holidays, while your spouse is having an affair:

1.  Pretend like “everything is okay.”  It is okay to tell some people–like a supportive sister, a pro-marriage friend, or someone you trust–that things just are NOT okay.  It’s also okay to let your kids know that this Christmas you feel sad and so it may not quite be exactly like some of the other years.

2.  Compete with your spouse (or soon-to-be-ex) over the kids.  They are just as much a parent in your kids’ lives as you are, and yet it’s not a competition to see who can spend more to buy their love.  The kids know which parent puts them to bed at night, helps them with homework, makes dinner, and takes time to actually be with them…and no amount of presents can buy that.  So if your unfaithful spouse buys your kids a bunch of stuff…let your kids enjoy the stuff they’ve been blessed with.  It’s not a competition and their love can’t be bought.

3.  Buy a gift for every branch of your family tree, all your co-workers, and everyone you’ve ever known.  Some gifts can be hand made.  Some gifts can be baked.  And the financial fact is that this year you may just have to trim that list back with a hedge-clipper. Well, so be it!  Christmas is about helping folks less fortune and celebrating the birth of the Savior–not “bigger, better, more expensive” presents.

4.  Put on the “perfect Christmas feast for 20″ all by yourself.  This year let someone else host the feast…or if it has to be at your house, ask for some help or hold it pot luck!  One year I told all my friends they could come and share food and caroling but in order to come in the door they had to bring something to share for six others.  Use paper plates….no one will care!

5.  Go into debt to buy presents.  So your spouse and the other woman are buying your kids a trip to Disneyland, huh?  Or a new touchscreen cellphone with unlimited minutes?  Don’t try to outdo them or go into debt to keep pace.  Give what YOU can afford to give and give it with love.  Take them ice skating and to hot chocolate afterward…for free!  Go tobogganing and let them laugh over mom/dad going over a bump!

6.  Go to every single holiday event to which you are invited.  Just learn to say no.  There is only so much that you can do, and it’s hard enough to sleep anyway!  Pick certain events that have a deep meaning to you (like your kids’ performances and that one church service) and to all the rest say “Thanks for thinking of me, but this year I’m afraid I need to say no.”  It’s okay.

7.  Make 12 dozen cookies for “Bobby’s class” when 3 dozen will do.  Actually I don’t need to explain this one, do I?  We all do this and demand so much more of ourselves than necessary.  Just look at the things you DO choose to do, and ask, “Am I going overboard here?  Am I holding myself to unrealistic expectations?”  If so, then get back to reality!

8.  Keep up with the Jones’ and light up your house like the Griswold’s.  Okay the lights on the house, and the perfect tree, and the garland, and the cards, and the candles, and the pine cones…OY!  It can be exhausting.  Pick the top three that are “must do” for you,  and do those three.  Then one by one add the next decorations if you have the energy–and if not, then don’t stress.  Maybe this year rather than sleighing to the forest to hand chop the perfect tree, allow yourself to go to the little tree place in town and pick a pre-cut one for $20.  Hey why not?

9.  Be perfect, look perfect, or “be happy all the time.”  Here’s the truth: your spouse is having an affair and is with another person and no part of you feels “perfect.”  So don’t try to make yourself be or look “happy”!  If you feel sad, on the occasion feel sad.  If you don’t feel like wearing red and green and being jolly, then be who you are and feel how you feel and let some people know.  Okay comb your hair and brush your teeth, yes.  Put on new, clean clothes every day, yes.  Be happy because it’s “The Holiday“?  NO!  Do the best you can, and maybe this is the perfect year to start a new tradition of NOT doing something just because you don’t feel like it this year.

10.   Eat only cookies, chocolate, and eggnog while staying up all night trying to get everything done.  This time of year is notorious for bad eating and sleeping habits.  Yes it’s easy to grab, but don’t grab just those two cookies for breakfast…or only coffee with eggnog creamer either!  If you want to have any energy at all it is important to remember that you need to eat nutritiously and get rest.  So, eat your fruits and vegetables and go to bed at 9pm if you feel tired.  It’s okay.