FAML300

L13: Transitions in Marriage: In-Law Relations

This is just a great topic, for me at least.  I imagine that there are those people out there that fit the stereo-typical role of in-laws, but the family I married in to (twice) and the family that I gave to my husband are pretty much wonderful.

I will state that we did have a bump in the road a few years ago, however.  My husband and I were married in Oregon and then we moved to his hometown in Texas a year and a half after we were married.  His dad flew to Oregon for our wedding, but his mom did not.  I had also met his dad prior to this when we had vacationed in Texas.  My husband’s parents are divorced and he does not have a great relationship with his mom.

When we had our little one (she is now 4 1/2), his mom started making contact with my husband and then with me.  On one occasion when we were in Texas, prior to us moving here, there was a fantastic gathering that was held in our honor when we were here to visit.  Friends and family gathered and the event was a great time.  During this, there was an alleged incident involving my mother-in-law’s husband and our 15 year-old niece.  He-said, she-said and it was left at that.  Fast forward to the time that we move to Texas.  We had three daughters and a son living with us.  My mother-in-law called up and volunteered to come and babysit our little one so that we could take the older kids to homecoming… and if you know anything about Texas, homecoming is a BIG deal.  We were excited and accepted her offer.  Two days before homecoming, she called to confirm that she was still coming and instead of saying for “me” to come babysit, she said “us” to come and babysit.  I was stopped in my tracks.  I then questioned her and asked if her husband was planning on accompanying her to our home.  She said that he was, and I then explained to her that we were more than happy to have her in our home to watch our little one and to spend time with her, but that we could only have her husband present with our daughters if one of us was there as well.  We just couldn’t risk it.  We don’t know this man, and given the previous event a year and a half earlier, it was not a risk that we could take.  From this moment to today (it’s been 3 1/2 years) she chooses not to talk to us.  For the safety of our children, that’s acceptable for us.  I know at times, my husband wishes that the relationship that he has with his mother were better.  But it’s been 25 years since it started going downhill and it’s a struggle for both of them.

Let’s talk about some happy stuff now.  I have the most awesome mother, ever!  You can’t even try to argue with me on this.  My mom has four sons-in-law and she reaches out to each of them and loves them as if they were her own sons.  She encourages them to reach their goals, to improve themselves, to lead their families, and to love as fiercely as they can.  My father-in-law is my next-door neighbor and he is in our home almost daily.  He is welcome any time day or night and we know that when he gets a bit older, that he will be ours to care for.  We love him, and he’s flexible, dependable, half-deaf, and tons of fun.

As you can read, incorporating families can be difficult.  I had a bit of a hard time when I first moved to Texas – especially around the holidays.  When I had lived in my hometown, the rules were well established and it was clear who would be where on what holiday and when.  Today, the rules are also well established, but it took us a little while to get there to where everyone was happy with the arrangements and how all would flow.  Communication of expectations and feelings are a must when incorporating new families together to make a bigger, happier family.

Families are for joy, they are for support, they are for love.  When you reach the point in your life of blending with in-laws, make sure that you – the newly married couple – talk about what you want for yourselves and your new family, and then explain to both sets of your parents where you stand and figure out what will work for all.

I pray that none of my readers go through what I have with my mother-in-law, because I’m certain she is a wonderful woman and one day, I hope to get to know her!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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FAML300

Week 12: Transitions in Marriage: Power Relations and Children

A blog post about power in marriage… let’s see how this goes.  I’ll start out, because now that I know my husband is reading (wink wink) that my husband and I go back and forth with power in our marriage.  Power in our home is topic dependent.  Children we pretty much do together, especially on anything major.  He earns the money, I spend the money – both in paying bills and shopping.  It doesn’t really matter what relationship you are in, there is power – it may be pretty close to being equally distributed, but there is power none-the-less.

Dr. Richard B. Miller, Director of the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University wrote “The issues of power, control, and hierarchy are important in families.  Issues regarding power are at the root of many family problems.”  I whole-heartedly agree with his statement.  Not does he hold a PhD, but it just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about sex for a minute.  From previous readings, and blog posts, we learned and read that many marriages end in divorce over a sexual issue.  There is power in sex – power of giving, power of withholding, power of sharing.

Let’s talk about money for a minute.  We also know from many studies done that divorces happen over financial matters.  There is power in money.  Power to earn, power to save, power to spend, power to agree with your spouse on how to do these three.

Let’s talk about raising children for a minute.  We know that having babies and raising a family is HARD work (if you don’t know this, you’re probably living in a cave).  We also know that husbands and wives do not see eye to eye about everything.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I have five children, and am married for the second (and last) time.  My husband, however, only has one child.  She is our youngest.  My husband and I do not always see eye to eye on how to raise her.  She’s my fifth child… eh, it’s okay if she climbs on the back of the couch.  She is his first and only child: she CANNOT climb on the back of the couch, she could fall and split open her head.  We see differently on all sorts of parenting issues.  So what do we do about it?  We mostly laugh at one another, or maybe I laugh as my husband stares at me with his mouth gaping open.  She is my fifth child.  Kids bounce, they stitch up easy enough, they smile, they laugh, they love, they get mad, they don’t eat their supper, and the list could go on.  But here’s the deal:  sometimes you just have to agree to disagree, and then other times, someone has to give.  Parents have got to work together as a team (there is no I in team) to raise healthy happy children that bounce, break, laugh, love, and smile.  I no longer let our daughter climb on the back of the couch, I still don’t care if she does (if she falls off, she’ll learn not to climb up there) but I have conceded to my husband’s view because it makes him nervous and her safety is imperative to him.  Where’s the power in this?  In this scenario it is with my husband.  His power to have his child safe wins out over my “eh” feeling about climbing monkeys.  We didn’t fight about any of this either.  We just realized that we parent differently and when my husband noticed that I didn’t care about climbing and I noticed that he did, we talked about it, came to an agreement and there it is.

She’s four years old now, and she isn’t really into climbing anymore, but she is into running in the yard.  Big deal, right?  Well, I thought so, I still kind of think so.  I am grateful that we have fenced in the front of the property with a power gate so no one can come in while she’s playing outside. My husband on the other hand, is worried about ant hills and snakes in the spring grass.  I wasn’t raised here, I didn’t grow up around these creepy crawly things that can hurt you so I don’t tend to think about them.  She always wears her shoes outside (she doesn’t want to get a time out).  So, where’s the power?  Husband wins again, safety first.  And besides, I don’t want to deal with a snake bite.  I can’t even tell the difference from one snake to the next.  So, I don’t normally let her frolic into the backside of the property without a big person to watch for such things.

And to be clear… when I say who wins?  It’s not a competition, it’s not a game.  There is no keeping score.  It is one of us conceding to the other’s point of view for the greater good.  While the examples I used in this little post show me conceding, I promise it’s not always that way.  It’s a volley, we go back and forth, and sometimes we even land together right at the net.  Meet in the middle… it’s sometimes the best way to go.

Parenting and marriage is hard work, but when one (hopefully both) party in a relationship masters the art of compromise, parenting and marriage are so much sweeter!

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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FAML300

W11: Transitions in Marriage: Fidelity and Physical Intimacy

Hi everyone!  I hope that each of you is faring daylight savings time better than I am.  A quick little update… I have been in bed since late Friday afternoon with a horrible cold which has been fed by all of the spring tree pollen.  I am drowning in mucus…. so there is my first TMI for you in this post.  And, as you might have guessed, due to the topic of this week’s post, there just might be another one.

I’m just going to jump right in to the topic this week and not pretend that it’s an elephant in the room.  No one wants to talk about these issues, but they are a must.  What I read this week for my class, I want to make sure that my children know.

The home that I grew up in was open.  My parents openly loved one another, we kids saw mom and dad hug, kiss, hold hands, and dance in the kitchen on a regular basis.  I grew up in 80’s not the 50’s and it was a wonderful example.  I want the same for my children, and today… my husband and I kiss, hug, hold hands, and dance in the kitchen in front of whomever might be in our house.  We simply don’t care about showing the love that we have for one another to the world.  We hold hands in public, we sit on the same side of a booth together when we go to dinner which makes the person seating us look at us sideways because they put the menus opposite one another.  We then bow our heads down to pray for our meal, holding hands at the table in the restaurant.  You may be asking yourself, what’s dinner prayer in public have to do with affection?  It’s not the fact that we pray wherever we may be for a meal, it’s the fact that we pray together – wherever we may be.  We are close.  We are commanded by the Lord for husband to leave his parents and to cleave unto his wife, and the wife is commanded to cleave unto her husband and they are told to become one.  That’s the goal.  When we are not intimate, when we allow a wedge to be driven between us, Satan does his little happy dance and hits the head of the wedge with a hammer to drive it in further.  Remember, I don’t have a perfect husband and I am not a perfect wife – we do not have the perfect marriage.  We both do things that drive one another crazy, but we do our best to tolerate our nuances and move forward.  Marriage isn’t about changing our spouses, it is about learning how to deal with the challenges put before us in the attributes that Heavenly Father gave our spouses.  Marriage is the ultimate challenge in this life – and I want to be successful.

Being successful means being honest with my husband.  When I mess up, I know that I can come to him and tell him what happened… even if I know he’s going to be upset about it.  It’s still safe.  Being successful means that both husband and wife are committed to one another in complete fidelity.  We have heard from our modern prophets that we are to love our spouses with all our hearts – and all of one’s heart leaves no room to allow anyone else in to share that intimate love.  Wives should not have male friends that they speak to on a regular basis outside of their marriage without their husbands, husbands should not have female friends that they hang out or have private conversations with either.   Having a quiet lunch with someone of the opposite sex for a married person is out of the question … this is how infidelity starts.  And I’ll just be blunt here:  any touching, holding hands, kissing, sexual intercourse or other sex acts with anyone other than one’s spouse is unacceptable in the eyes of the Lord.  For those of you that are not married – this goes for you too – these things are for married spouses only (well, except maybe holding hands and smooching).  And my last comment here about infidelity, pornography counts.  In my heart and mind, pornography is the worst kind of infidelity.  Pornography is addictive and more destructive to any marriage than anything else that exists in our world today.  Stay away from it 200%.  There are just no exceptions here.

How do we keep infidelity away and intimacy alive in our marriages? I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll tell you what we’re doing here in our house.  First off, we have a copy of Dr. John Gottman‘s book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  We read it together. … okay, I read it out loud to my husband, but he listens.   We do some of the exercises in this beloved book together.  We started dating one another again.  When we go on weekly dates together (sometimes it’s a pizza and a board game locked in our room), we make sure that before our date is over that we added to our love map.  Even if this means saying – hey wait!  did we learn something about one another on our date tonight?  We just do it.  We don’t care about being corny, we care about making our marriage work.  Learning about one another, understanding where one another is coming from and stands is important – it just can’t be forgotten.  When we love one another and we are adding to our love maps each week, and sometimes even each day – it makes our marriage work better.  When husbands are happy and wives are happy – intimacy happens by nature.

Sex is part of marriage, and it is an important part.  I promise.  There are couples out there that are unable to have intercourse, and that’s to be understood – but if they are to make their marriage happy and healthy they will find other ways to be intimate with one another to fulfill this need.  There are wives that withhold sex because their husband didn’t pick up their socks.  There are husbands out there that withhold sex because their wife was late getting supper on the table.  These scenarios are not okay.  Sex is not a tool – it is a gift given to married couples by God in order to both have offspring and to grow together as one.  We are commanded in marriage to be one.  There is no other way that I can think of that will allow a husband and wife to be one than to be together in a sexual relationship on a regular basis.  When husband and wife are in harmony in life, they are in harmony behind closed doors too.  Is every sexual encounter going to be over the moon wonderful?  Nope.  But when husband’s and wives are in harmony with one another about daily life – sexual encounters will be more fulfilling; if not physically, then spiritually.

Sisters love your husbands.  Brethren, love your wives.  Date, talk, pray, enjoy one another behind closed doors.  This is part of being a spouse – and part of having a spouse.  Love and care for. Be gentle.

In closing, I know that there are those out there that truly feel that they don’t fit into this category.  There are those that think that they are the exception.  For some of you, this may be true – and if it is you, then I can only imagine that your spouse 100% understands and holding your hand down a treacherous path of healing and recovery.  For those of you that think you are the exception – I would urge you to take stock of your feelings and how you treat your spouse.  Are you being selfish and withholding?  Think on it, pray on it – get an answer from God and then act on it.

I leave you my testimony that I know that having a sexually intimate relationship with our spouses is God given.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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FAML300

W10: Seeking to Understand

Ok y’all this week is the last of the reading from the two assigned text books for FAML300:Marriage.  I am really quite sad about it.  I have spent the last few weeks loving the quiet moments I have had reading books that aren’t written as text and that fill me spiritually and provide me with realistic objectives that I can apply in my life.

So, what did I walk away with this week?  What knowledge have I gained that I can share with you?  Other than you need to go to the closest bookstore (don’t speed) and buy both of these books Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work? I will say this: I have work to do, and so do you.

I’d like to write this entire post and just ask a zillion questions for you to really get thinking, but I have a prompting that I need to go in a different direction – I don’t want to, but I do try really hard to follow those little promptings.  Today, I got up out of a chair and the instant that I stood up, the raised seat fell completely off of the base of the chair onto the concrete.  I know for certain that this was a great blessing!  I was home alone and I’d probably have knocked my head against either the porch or the patio (both are cement) and bled out all over, missed picking the little one up from pre-school and laid there unconscious until Hubby came home from work hours later.  No one would have known, so today, as a HUGE thanks for blessings both big and small, I will follow the prompting that I have been given and open up a little bit more – even though it’s not what I really want to do.  Apparently, it’s something that I need to do.  Making me even more apprehensive – I’ve been writing this blog on and off for over 18 months now, and last week Hubby told me he’s been reading it.  What?  I thought he never read it.  Oh my word! So, I’ve been saying things here, in my blog that has recently about marriage that I am a little bit scared to say to my husband in quiet.  – Clearly an issue that I need to deal with.

Okay, back to the point at hand here.  This week I learned that I need to look at myself in order to gain understanding of my husband.  Does that make sense to you?  It didn’t to me at first, and then I kept reading.  I read about charity, I read about different meanings of the love of Christ, I read about forgiveness, I read about the Atonement, I read about the natural man and how Satan wheedles his way into our hearts and drives wedges the size of 100 year old oaks between man and wife.  And in all of that, I learned that I need to work more on turning toward God, turning toward my spouse, and fixing me.

I need to stop, and pray.  There is a prayer offered by the prophet Mormon in Moroni 7:47-48 that reads: “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”   Not only does Mormon instruct us here what charity is, but he tells us how to obtain this most precious gift.  We can obtain charity through sincere prayer.  Charity is the opposite of the natural man and by praying and asking for charity, we can not only become better individuals but we can become better spouses.

In the conclusion for both books, we are given information on how to fix our marriage that might be struggling.  Let’s face it, there is no perfect marriage.  I love my husband and I see him as my eternal companion (even though we’re not sealed in the temple), but I can admit freely that our marriage is no where near perfect.  I am actually pretty certain if someone asked me face-to-face how our marriage was good that I would laugh out loud.  I will say that we do not raise our voices at one another in anger or frustration.  There is no violence in our home – so we have those two things going for us.  This is my second marriage and his first – and both of our last. Our very first kiss was in an airport parking lot.  Our very last kiss was just a few moments ago, while I was sitting in this office typing up this blog while peeking at a Facebook page that I’m waiting to load.  We are both scared of growing old alone, we both worry about our financial future – but he more than me.  We both want our children to grow and be happy and healthy – and we both want a goat.  I like to talk (I’m pretty typical in this fashion) and he does not (I think he’s pretty typical too).  “Feelings? What are those?”  is one of the sayings that I can quote directly from his mouth, even though he’s normally smirking when he says it.  But we certainly have our differences.  I grew up in the suburbs, he grew up in a small town.  My sisters and my mom are my dearest friends and he’s not super close with his brothers.  I grew up in a very liberal part of the country, and he grew up in a very conservative part of the nation.  We are different.  We have different views on different topics and at times, we simply butt heads.  I know for a surety that in the last five years that I have learned lessons from him, and I am so grateful for each of them and I pray there will be many more to learn.

Here, I have gone on and on, gushing about my marriage and not a word on how to fix the problems… here’s how: get on your knees and pray.  Ask forgiveness from Heavenly Father for being selfish and ask for charity.  Ask for Heavenly Father to show you how to let it gohave charity so that you can serve your spouse.  As you lose yourself in service to your spouse, you will gain a lot.  Try just giving your spouse a compliment tomorrow.  Even if he/she laughs at you.  Do it again the next day, and the next.  While you’re giving sincere, from the heart, compliments, ignore the things that drive you nuts: dirty dishes, wet towels, toilet seats, dirty socks, stolen soda’s, whatever it is… just listen to Princess Elsa and let it go.  When we look for the good (the compliment giving) we start seeing less of the things that drive us crazy.

And it came to pass that you worked on serving your spouse and giving compliments to them as you do little things here and there to make them happy – this is selfless – giving sincerely out of want to give is charity.  And it came to pass that as you went about doing good in your home, your marriage thrived and those irritants became a stupor of thought for you… because they aren’t important.  Marriage on the earth is our test for the eternities.  Heavenly Father gives us spouses to teach us, so learn from your spouse – learn all the good things and forget all the bad.  You can do it, and so can I; we can do it with the Lord as our guide and He will be our support each day when we don’t think we can make it on our own.  He is always there, He will always be there, and He will take care.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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FAML300

W09: Managing Conflict; Consecrating Ourselves

Once again my heart is full as I sit to write this week.  I have had an overwhelming week, and most of it is my own fault – it is at least a blessing when one can recognize and own their errors and misdeeds.   I read a couple of chapters this week in Dr. Gottman’s the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, a chapter in Dr. Goddard’s book Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage, a talk given by Elder Lynn G. Robbins, and watched a video about forgiveness by Elder Faust.  I have learned a lot, more than I will be able to write in this short post, so I have chosen instead of focusing on managing conflict, which is uber important, to write about consecrating ourselves in our marriage.

So what does it mean to consecrate?  Merriam-Webster defines consecrate as “dedicated to a sacred purpose.”  How do I consecrate myself in my marriage? Am I consecrated to Christ?  Am I living the Law of Consecration?  Such big questions in a little paragraph.   I read this week, in one of the above writing, Goddard, I think, that if I am not following the basic commandments given by Heavenly Father than I am unable to live the Law of Consecration, and I fully believe that.  If I don’t pay my tithing, I am not giving and serving to my full potential.  There’s a crash course for those that needed it, myself included – I at least needed the reminder.

Let’s get back to the matter at hand, consecrating myself to my marriage.  Am I dedicated to my marriage as if it had sacred purpose?  My marriage does have sacred purpose, as do all marriages – yes, even yours.  Heavenly Father brought my husband and I together for a reason, some days that reason seems really far away, but others it’s just a whisper away.  Am I treating it as though it is sacred?  Do I respect and honor my spouse as I should, even through disagreements and conflict?  Does my husband know that I believe that our marriage is sacred?  I would have to answer this with a big loud no today.

How do I fix it?  How do I make sure my husband knows, without a doubt that I believe that our marriage is sacred?  I need to admit to myself and to him that some of my actions have been astray and that I am willing to change and correct my choices.  It’s much like the repentance process, really.  Change from within, with sincerity and humility.  As I go about consecrating myself to my marriage and working on making sure that my husband knows that I find our marriage to be sacred, our home our sacred grounds, and our oneness with God most precious above all, I wish to quote Dr. Goddard here and ask for each of you to accept this challenge that he issued… I’m starting now!  Catch me if you can:

“For 30 days are you willing to show nothing but kindness and appreciation to your partner  Are you willing to set aside complaints and disappointments and see the good intentions and best efforts in your parter?  Rather than count the cost, will you consider seeing the investment as Paul did?  He said, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose save I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” Are you willing to invest your whole soul in the hope that you will gain eternal joy?”  I will serve my husband for the next 30 days, and I will do everything I can to show nothing but kindness and appreciation.

With love, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Samantha

 

 

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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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