FAML300

W08 FAML300 Beware of Pride

Beware of Pride… I don’t like the saying, but it is true.  I have never before thought of myself as being prideful.  I have (and still do) see myself as a wife that is proud of her husband and a mother who is very proud of her children.  But is that what it speaks of in the scriptures as being prideful?  The truth to the answer is no.

imagesAs I read this week, I learned.  I cried.  And I prayed.  In Drawing Heaven Into your Marriage by Dr. H. Wallace Goddard, he writes “In fact, any time we feel irritated with our spouses, that irritation is not an invitation to call our spouses to repentance but an invitation to call ourselves to repent.  We are irritated because of our own lack of faith and humility.”  This statement had profound effect on me.

I was sitting here, at my desk, reading the material to ponder over what to write for my blog this week when I read the above words.  The instant I read them, I remembered sitting on the couch yesterday afternoon irritated with my husband.  I was irritated that he wasn’t answering me.  I feel that he does this frequently, and that he does this knowing that it irritates me.  Clearly, it is me with the issue.  I am the one irritated by my husband’s natural tendencies.  Maybe he really does not answer me quickly because he wants to irritate me, but who am I to read his mind?

So how do I fix the problem?  As Alma fixed his, as the Publican did, as the people of Mosiah did.  I must repent and turn to Christ and ask for mercy and forgiveness.  I am but Children.1a human and I need Him, Jesus Christ to help me lose my pride.  Pride in thinking that I need an answer now.  Pride believing that I can make my husband answer me.  Perhaps my husband not answering me is my lesson from Heavenly Father in patience which I have yet to learn.  Perhaps this is my big picture lesson so that I can see that I am indeed prideful and I simply need to repent and get over myself.

So, instead of spending hours at the computer today, I intend to finish writing up this blog …get a couple more homework assignments off my plate and go lose myself in service.  I need it.  I need time to quietly reflect and to ask of God to teach me the ways of humility.

Have you had eye opening moments when Heavenly Father has taught you about your own pride?  What did you do to overcome these trials?  Let me know in a comment!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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FAML300, Winter 2017

W07 Staying Emotionally Connected

Dear Readers,

Let me first start out this post by saying how much I loved date night last week!  It was seriously a simple date.  We went to a restaurant that neither of us had been to before but had been wanting to go to and then followed it up by a little dessert at a favorite spot down the road from where we were.  We brought the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work with us on our date and we asked one another questions from in the book and it was FABULOUS!  According to Dr. Gottman, my husband and I are in pretty good shape, but when you read some of those questions, you are pretty much disappointed in yourself for not knowing the answer… for example: neither my husband or I could tell you what each other’s top 3 movies of all time are. How lame are we?  Well, not any more!  We asked and answered questions, we ate crab and clams and shrimp. It couldn’t have been more splendid.

Now, let’s talk a little about this week’s topic: Turning Towards Each Other.  What the heck does that mean anyway?   I like to sleep facing the opposite direction….

With all seriousness, Dr. Gottman explains that all of us have what are called bids for attention.  True story.  Here’s an example in our home (this one happens a lot):

me:” Does anyone else know how to do laundry around here?”

Crickets…. crickets

Apparently no one else in my home knows how to do laundry.  When I die, they will all be wearing dirty clothes or perhaps this is when they will hire that maid I’ve been asking for.

What was I really saying when I asked that snarky question?  I was really saying/asking “I’m overwhelmed with chores right now, can someone please help get the laundry finished?”

Now, that would probably make more sense, but we don’t work that way, do we?  How often do we sit down on the couch with a heavy sigh or just hint at what we need/want without really saying it.  These are the bids that Dr. Gottman is talking about.

He then teaches us that we need to turn toward one another, not the bed time snuggling, but the reality of answering those bids.  So when I make another comment “why is there dog hair all over the rug?”  My husband instead of ignoring me, would go grab the vacuum man-vacuumingand get it all cleaned up.  Doesn’t that sound just like heaven?

I tell you, it is a little slice of heaven.  When my husband and I are communicating well and really listening to one another and the bids that we put out, life is pretty darn good.

I’m sure that as the semester continues, I’ll have more to say about Dr. Gottman and the middle chapters of his book, but I’d like to skip to the end… not a spoiler though it is such an important aspect of loving one another.  When I read this next section, I was happy and this is what I really wanted to focus this post on, even though my words may not be lengthy, they are important!

Rituals… not the sacrificial kind, but the really good kind.  I know there are other families out there that share this ritual with me, but I want to focus on it.  Eating dinner.  Not just scarfing down food that you barely taste, but really eating a meal together.  It doesn’t happen every single night around here, and I am grateful for that, because if it’s not happening then there is something special going on.  However, six nights a week we have a meal plan at our home and six nights a week we sit around the table together.   We have no electronics at the dinner table, there is no television on and we enjoy the company of cartoon-family-dinnerour family.  We bless the food, we serve the food, we eat and converse.  Each night at the dinner table, each person at the dinner table (guests included) have to share a good deed that they did during the day.  This is the ritual that I am most proud of in our family. It makes my heart warm and it’s a moment in our day that we share a little bit of the light of Christ that fills our hearts and our home.

Many years ago, our pediatrician told us of a study that was published which stated some horrible facts about children.  It scared me and at the time I was a single mom with four children.  She taught me how important it was to have regular family meal times, and I immediately went into action.  She told me that having regular meal time with your children is the number one preventative measure that can be taken to keep your children from dabbling in drugs, having premarital sex, and delinquency in general.  I took a step forward that day and I haven’t looked back.  I now relish each night at the dinner table and hearing the good that my children do in the world, even if it’s just loaning someone a pencil.

I challenge each of you to make it a point to have meals as a family around the table with no TV and no electronics.  Talk to one another.  Learn about each other’s lives and build a ritual that can keep your children safe with so little effort.  I promise, the rewards you will reap are worth it.

Share with me what rituals that you have with your family that I need in my life!

With love,

Samantha

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FAML300

W06 Cherishing Your Spouse

Dear Readers,

My apologies that I am running a bit behind this week.  This past Saturday was my birthday and as a surprise for the big 4-0, my mother and my two sons flew in from out of state and were here for four days.  My birthday was wonderful and the excitement has dwindled down, but I am behind my usual point for school work, housework, and life in general.  I am working diligently to get to where I need to be, but feel like I’m barely treading water at the moment.  Hang on while I go switch a load of laundry and I’ll be right back to write some more.

Okay, where was I?  Anyway, chores are going and here I am writing about cherishing my spouse, which I really don’t feel like doing at the moment.  You see, he and I don’t always see eye to eye, but isn’t that they way with every marriage?  We had a little spat this morning and he left for work angry and I got left at the house to stew about his bad attitude.  That’s just how life goes every once in a while.  And that is okay.  We have since apologized to one another, because that is how it goes.

As I was reading the assigned text for this week’s work one chapter in Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage by Dr. H. Wallace Goddard and two chapters in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John M. Gottman I realized something… I realized how much I do cherish my husband.  He is my best friend and I would do anything for him – yep, anything. I take care of him when he has a migraine, I listen to him when he’s had a bad day at work, I listen to him when he had a good day at work, I kiss him good night, I hold his hand at the dinner table during prayer, I go to the store and get him everything he needs for working around our property, and I love him with all of my heart.  If Heavenly Father loves me half as much as I love my husband, I am a blessed girl.

Even though I love him, we have those spats every now and then.  My husband isn’t much of a talker and many times I am left guessing how he is feeling or what he is thinking when he isn’t very happy.  I promise you, Heavenly Father did not provide me with the crystal ball that I need, but we manage.  When things start to go sideways, I let him know that it’s time that he tells me what’s going on in that brain of his so that I’m not lost and confused – and most of the time he does.

In the reading material, there were lists upon lists with games to play and questions to ask your spouse.  As I read through the first several lists that essentially provided a score to let you know how you and your spouse are doing, I was pretty impressed that I “passed” the tests.  There were questions that saddened me too.  I read some of them, like “I can list my partner’s three favorite movies” and “I can tell you the most stressful thing that happened to my partner as a child,” these made tears well in my eyes.  I wish I knew the answers, but I simply don’t.  Some of you may wonder – how can you not know these things?  The answer is simple – I don’t watch many movies, so we haven’t talked about movies very much and my husband is pretty closed up about his childhood – every once in a while I get a glimpse into his youth.  I just discovered a couple of weeks ago that one of our daughter’s friends is the daughter of his high school girlfriend – the girl he went to prom with.  I didn’t even know that he went to his senior prom until then. The bright side to all of this though, is that starting this week, he and I will begin going on date night each week and I will bring my handy dandy books with me and I will get to open it up to all of those pages that I stuck colorful flags on and I can just ask him.

Today is going to be a rough day – it started out with a spat and as I sit here and write, I have tears running down my cheeks as I think of all the little intricacies about my husband that I don’t know, but that I am blessed to be able to ask him.  I want to know these things, tearsI want to continue to care for him when he has bad days or migraines, and I know that he prides himself in the work that he does to provide for our little (or not so little) family. He and I work well, we mesh, we just fit.  He and I love each other, and I know that for both of us our biggest fear is losing one another – having to go on in this life without our best friend to have each and every day.

If you are in a position that you don’t have these little spats now and then, a bad day which you can bounce back from – it’s time to rejuvinate, revitalize, and get excited about loving your spouse.  You married him/her for a reason, relight that candle and get moving.  A great place to start and for pretty cheap is to get yourself a copy of Dr. Gottman’s book.  IT IS WONDERFUL!  I dare you… do it!

With love,

Samantha

PS (this is dedicated to Maryann) How did it turn out?  Well …. I was home and he was at work.  Each day when he arrives at his job for the morning, he sends me three text messages that read: “I’m here.” “Yes,Ma’am.” “I love you today.”  And in reply, I send him three text messages back: “Safe and sound” “Good” “I love you today too.”  Before these messages ever took place yesterday (because he had such a long drive) I had typed out a lengthy text message explaining my frustration and apologizing for what was most likely construed as accusatory.  He then chose to take the high ground (one of his great qualities) and told me thank you for making his lunch and he then apologized for being cranky and rude.  We proceeded with our day and regular routine.  Last night was perhaps a little sweeter than usual snuggling at bed time.  We both realized that we were wrong and we both apologized to one another. . . being married to your best friend is practically perfect in every way.

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FAML300, Uncategorized

W05 Behaviors that Negatively Affect Marriage

Affect … effect … I will probably never ever learn how to tell these two words apart.  I have tried over and over again across my almost 40 years to learn the difference and it never makes sense to me.  So, if any of my readers out there have a good idea on how to actually help me learn this… please leave me a comment at the end of the blog!

So, what behaviors negatively affect marriage?  That’s what this week’s material is all about.  I have read five chapters in books, watched a clip from The Great Commandment given by Elder Wirthlin while he had a flare up of Parkinson’s disease, and watched several clips from the movie Fireproof staring Kirk Cameron (for those of you as old as me, that was a little treat) all of which made my allergies flare up.  Okay, really, my eyes were filled with tears at many of these intersections as I studied the material for this week.  Is it because it’s almost my birthday and I’m feeling sentimental?  Is it because yesterday was the Sabbath and I am feeling closer to the Spirit as I write on Monday instead of Tuesday or Wednesday?  Or is it because the lessons and messages that I read and viewed this week touched my heart and ring true on some level for me as an individual, a wife, a mother, and a disciple of Jesus Christ?

For those of you that know me, I’m a list maker.  I love to make lists.  There are eleven lists sitting in from of me as I type.  Each of them on a sticky note.  There are nine more as sticky notes on my desktop and at least three more in the planner that I use each day.  I love lists; so for the love of lists, here is my list for you on behaviors that negatively affect marriage:

  • Criticism
  • Contempt
  • Defensiveness
  • Stonewalling
  • Emotional flooding
  • Rejection
  • Bad memories put to current day events
  • Loneliness
  • Selfishness
  • Lack of charity, compassion, and empathy

While the list is short, relatively, it’s not like the grocery list… these are the particular items that were brought to my attention during my studies this week.  The list is made up from topics covered in Dr. John Gottman’s book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work and from Dr. H. Wallace Goddard’s book Drawing Heaven into your Marriage.  If you’re committed, who doesn’t want to make their marriage work?  If you’re committed, who doesn’t want a slice of heaven in their marriage?  I say, even if you’re not so sure that you want to make your marriage work, or maybe you don’t believe in heaven…. Well, I say you’re pretty silly; what have you got to lose, other than your eternal happiness? If you’re willing to bet the future of your eternity – throw in the towel, if not please keep reading:

Clearly, I am not an expert on marriage, I have been divorced for goodness sake.  I can only say that I want to be an expert on family and home.  I want to be an expert in my own marriage.  I want to be an expert wife and mom; so I study and I read and I let it all soak in.  Hopefully there is a morsel for you to relate to.

Criticism

This doesn’t mean “your hair is a bit frizzy today” or “I’m not sure that shirt looks good on you.”  This means “why don’t you ever brush your hair, you always go about looking like you just got out of bed” or “that shirt looks terrible on you, how did you make it 36 years in life and never learn how to dress yourself, you can’t go in public like that!”  Can you see the difference there?  The always and never statements, the harshness of the second two statements.  It is one thing to file a complaint, it is another to criticize your partner with harshness and certainly with always and never statements.  Yes, I do have frizzy hair – the humidity makes it even worse, but I do brush it every day and I don’t ALWAYS go about looking like I just got out of bed.  That shirt may not look great on my husband, but telling him it looks terrible just isn’t kind and in his 36 years, 30 before he ever even met me, he managed never to go out into public naked – he’s fared well enough.  Does this make sense?

While I don’t recommend filing complaints every day about every little thing, that can pile up and become overwhelming, but when you truly feel like you need to file a complaint with your spouse, do it with kindness.  Leave those always and never statements at the door, lock them outside – none of us ALWAYS or NEVER behave in a specific fashion.

Contempt

Eye rolling, scoffing, sarcasm, and skepticism are all contemptuous.  What this really boils down to is respect.  When one behaves in manners like this toward their loved ones, you are displaying disrespect for them.  If we aren’t kind and respectful of our spouses, what is it that our relationship is built out of?  Do we love them? Think on that…

Defensiveness

When he tells me about that frizzy hair, even if he does so kindly, do I grumble back at him and say “I can’t help my hair, why are you so mean?”  Does he shout back at me when I complain about his shirt “I’ve been able to dress myself for 36 years without you, I am not a complete idiot.”  These are examples of being defensive.  Think about the defensive line on a football team, their job is to shut the opposing team down, to not let them score. Are you on the same team as your spouse, or are you just trying to make sure they don’t score any points?

Stonewalling

This is pretty much shut-down from my perspective.  I’m talking to my husband about his shirt and he’s not making any eye contact or even giving any cues to me that he’s listening.  He has shut down and shut me out.  Do you ever just keep talking when your spouse is non-responsive?  Take a step back and see what he or she looks like, what is their body language telling you?  Have you over stepped your bounds?  Have you helped them to give up hope in communicating with you?  If you find this happening, you have got to get some help!  You need to take a step back, apologize to your spouse and find a way to open that line of communication again – this is an urgent need.

Emotional Flooding

Why did he shut down when I talked to him about his shirt? Because he is flooding emotionally.  I have criticized too much, he is so used to be run over by me, that in order to preserve his dignity and to not blow up at me, he simply shuts down to avoid the confrontation.  When he finally does start to talk to me about his shirt, I then talked over the top of him complaining more that he wasn’t talking to me when I was talking to him, he shuts down again.  Flooding… and too much of this circular pattern simply leads to divorce.  It has to stop.  The pattern must be broken.

Rejection

I’ve noticed that I have totally messed up here.  My husband does know how to dress himself!  I come to his side as he’s lying in bed reading a book.  I sit on the edge of the bed and lightly touch his arm.  He looks at me but says nothing.  I then say to him “I am so sorry that I was critical of your shirt and how you dress yourself, that wasn’t kind of me.  Will you forgive me?”  He looks up again and continues to read his book.  Rejection.  Don’t do this people!! When your spouse offers you a genuine, heartfelt apology, make the time to listen.  I’m not saying you have to forgive immediately, but listen and respond appropriately.  Put yourself in the being rejected shoes, no one likes being there, don’t put the one person that you should be able to count on every day for the rest of forever in those shoes intentionally.

Bad memories put to current day events

We have all had bad days, and most of us bad fights.  Those bad days and bad fights need to stay right where they were left.  Sure, there may be some unresolved issues from those days or those fights, but bring them to the table for resolution without the horrible day along with it.  I mean, it’s okay to talk about and discuss overspending on clothes for the month, but we don’t need to bring up “that one day when you spent $300 dollars at the mall and took no thought to the remainder of the budget and we stood in the kitchen yelling at each other.”  What good does this do?  Instead try “Is there a way that I can help you keep within the allotted budget for clothing?”  Leave those horrible fights where they were, there is no point digging up old fights and bad memories to serve the current moment and help cultivate a great relationship.

Loneliness

From all of those topics mentioned above, when these tactics are employed in a relationship, loneliness is the result.  Do you go to bed each night wondering who is that lying next to me? Do you wonder where that (wo)man you married is at, when they are sitting opposite you at the dinner table?  Being lonely within a marriage is a direct result from lack of good communication.  The spirit of any person gets to a breaking point when constantly barraged with overwhelming feelings of incompetence.  When I am told over and over again that I am a horrible housekeeper, I begin to really feel this way.  If my husband then begins to tell me that I am a deplorable cook (this might be true) I may begin to believe it.  When we are constantly under attack from our loved ones, how can we preserve ourselves, by being defensive, stonewalling, and shutting down.  Henceforth, we become lonely.  I certainly don’t want to be in bed each night lying next to my husband in a state such as this, do you?

Selfishness

I’m going to dig a little on this one and throw myself under the proverbial bus.  I am generous.  I give to my husband, I give to my children, I give to those that I visit teach, I give to those in our ward, I give to the community, I pay a full tithe, I sincerely put forth effort to give of myself to others.  So, I am not entirely selfish, but… I certainly have areas of my life where I am.  I am selfish with the budgeted money for clothing.  Do I really need to spend it all each month?  Certainly not, but I almost always do.  I believe that we can each improve in this area to focus on becoming more Christ like.  Never a moment in his mortal life did he take time to please himself before helping another or doing the Father’s will.  Jesus Christ should be our example, not only in being selfless, but in each and every aspect of our relationships that I have written about.  With words on the Savior, this leads me to the last point for this really long blog post:

Lack of charity, compassion, and empathy

“What lack I yet?”  Do you lack charity, compassion, or empathy for your spouse?  Do you think “well, that’s what you get!”?  When your spouse is in bed sick, do you make a tray of food and go sit by their side or do you ignore that they aren’t well?  Do you have a pang of sadness when you know your loved one is having a rough day at work, or do you brush their bad day off to deal with your own?

Charity is the pure love of Christ (you saw that coming, right?).  When we have charity for 3 Nephi 16others, compassion and empathy are right alongside.  Is this aspect of your life missing?  You have got to put up a lost and found poster immediately!  There is no time to waste, stop reading and go.

Just this morning, my husband was in bed with a migraine.  While this is frustrating because it’s going to be a missed day of work and no income, I went to my husband’s side and asked what kind of medication he needs?  I got the medication, I got a glass of water.  I made sure the kids were staying quiet, I got a cool rag for his forehead because I know he likes it when he has a migraine.  Charity, compassion, empathy.  Each of these is a must in every marriage across the planet.  If you are lacking in this department, I’d like for you to get some help.  I implore you to get help.  Your marriage is worth it, your spouse is worth it, and more importantly, you are worth it.  Each of us is a child of God, and He wants you to return to live with him.  He wants you to have these qualities in your life that you once had.  You deserve to have them, and if you have lost your way, you have lost these precious gems from your pocket, you have got to go and find them.  Open your scriptures, open your heart, repent, ask for forgiveness from those you have harmed and work to better yourself each day.  Charity is indeed the pure love of Christ, and without charity, we can in nowise inherit the kingdom which He has planned for us.

And while after writing this super long blog, I still don’t know the difference between effect and affect, I have a sense of peace that has washed over my being.  I feel those tears welling up in my eyes.  Tears of gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who sent His only Begotten Son to atone for my sins.  I am able to be forgiven for those snarky comments and overspending.  I am able to be loved by Him and am able to move forward trying each day to be better while I work on perfecting the love, charity, compassion, and empathy that I hold and distribute to those that are in need … my family.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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