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Friday, June 29, 2012

Finances & Friction


Have you ever had a disagreement with your spouse about money?

Does it happen often? Is it causing a strain on your marriage? Do you find yourself being frustrated with your spouse because they spend frivolously or because they are too uptight about money? Does your wife make you do a “budget” every month? Does your husband constantly have a new idea for how to spend the money you don’t have?

These are common points of contention in marriage and I hear them regularly as I speak with people I know and meet. My wife and I had one friend several years ago that found a few extra dollars and on the way home to tell his wife the good news he spent the money. He was thrilled with his purchase and his wife was beside herself. She couldn’t understand how in the financial situation they were in her husband could find money (which would have helped quite a bit) and then spent it without at least consulting with her. His feeling was that since they didn’t expect the money to begin with it wouldn’t be a problem to spend it buying her a surprise. It was a sweet thought but didn’t go as he had expected.

What was the problem? Why does money cause such conflict in marriage? Well, simply put, because we are different. No matter how long two people are married they approach money and view money differently. My parents have been married for nearly thirty years and they still don’t see eye to eye on finances. In order to keep harmony each month my dad gives my mom a spending allowance and every month she exceeds it. And somehow they are still happy (her biggest complaint the last few years is that he won’t let her buy enough things for the grandchildren).

There are essentially two types of people in the world: those that are fun-loving and those that are planners (this is, of course, an oversimplification but it gets the point across). The fun-loving people do things on a whim, get frustrated if they spend too much time planning, and, as their name implies, really are just looking to have fun. Planners are the opposite. Fun is nice but only if it is planned beforehand. The two being forced to work together can cause friction but this can be overcome.

To be continued…

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Selflessness vs Selfishness

I was speaking with a friend recently about our “first loves” and during the conversation I shared how I knew that I was in love, both the first time and later when I met my wife.

After my wife and I had been dating for a while thoughts of the future and what could happen began to float around in my head. I wondered if I loved her and after pondering this for a time I came to realize that, yes, I did love her.

I knew that I was in love with her because of one thing: I cared more about her happiness than my own.

I was not only willing but wanted to spend my life pursuing her happiness. She was more important to me than I was to myself.

This willingness and desire to be selfless is a key ingredient in a successful and happy marriage and is necessary to developing and maintaining uplifting love.

Being selfless is much harder than being selfish, especially at first. Our human nature instinctually inclines us toward selfishness because often, hundreds or even thousands of years ago, being selfish could keep you alive.

You could say that we are wired to be selfish. However, today our survival does not depend on being selfish. In fact, marriage and our lasting happiness depend on NOT being selfish.

We will not go into examples of what being selfish is or is not because it varies too much from individual to individual and couple to couple. But, we do need to make a concerted effort to put our spouses before ourselves.

Selflessness is not as hard as it can seem. It does require effort but establishing two habits will help each of us go a long way to “putting off” selfishness.

The first is to pray for help. Pray for your spouse. Pray that their needs and wants will be met. Pray that they will be blessed and that they will receive the divine assistance that they need. Pray for them. Make a conscious effort to spend more time praying for them than for you.

Second, do one thing a day that your spouse would have had to do and would normally do like take out the trash, brush the children’s teeth, walk the dog, mow the lawn, etc. The list goes on and on. Just find one thing, big or small, each day and do it. It’s that simple.

Strive for selflessness. Put your spouse before yourself. Strive to care more about helping your spouse get what he/she wants than what you want.

Pretty quickly you will realize that your love and appreciation for your spouse has multiplied and theirs for you has increased as well. Developing uplifting love is a process and to succeed your spouse must be more important to you than you are.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cell Phones & Love

In the last twenty years HUGE advances have been made with technology. I remember as a child and even into my teens I was always sure to have a couple of quarters so that I could make a phone call from a payphone in an emergency.

Now you can’t find a payphone.

I don’t recall seeing a functional one in the last couple of years. This is because today everyone has a cell phone of their own and they don’t need a payphone.

Not only can today’s cell phones make telephone calls they can text message, send pictures and videos, email, surf the internet, act as personal digital assistants (PDAs), allow their owner to play video games and much more. As the saying goes “there’s an app for that.”

One of the overlooked uses of cell phones, or at least under emphasized uses, is to express our love for our spouse. 

When was the last time you texted your husband “i luv u” out of the blue?

Just the other day my wife texted me a picture of her blowing a kiss. That made me smile. What a wonderful text to receive in the middle of the afternoon. It made me that much more anxious for work to end so that I could go home to her.

I also love it when she updates her Facebook status to something like “I am so in love. I have the most handsome husband in the world.”

When I finished my master’s degree she did a tribute to me in a post on her blog. These things make me smile. Both of these things can be done with a cell phone.

Think of the things that you can do to remind your spouse that you love them. Then do them!! 

Once you have share with me what you did and what the reaction was. There’s a good chance I’ll publish it in one of my upcoming newsletters (if you haven’t already, subscribe to my  newsletter!).

Good luck and have fun!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Child's Happiness Linked to Talking to their Father

According to British researchers, individuals who regularly speak with their father lead significantly happier lives than those who do not (Speak to your father -- secret to happiness. (2010). Therapy Today, 21(6), 6.). Based on this research parents, especially fathers, should be striving to develop relationships with their children where their children not only feel comfortable speaking with them but are inclined to do so.How can we do this?Here are three ideas to accomplish this.

First, listen to your children.Begin listening right from the start. My 9 month old “talks” all the time. Of course I can’t really understand what he is trying to communicate but I listen intently anyway and respond as if what he is telling me is really interesting. Often he will get so excited that I am listening to him that he’ll fall over. My four year old accosts me when I come home from work and if I let him will talk to me for half an hour straight telling me all about his day. I try to listen intently so that they know that I love them and that what they say is important to me. I once heard someone say “if you listen to them when they’re young, they’ll listen to you when they are old.” I think this means that if you listen when your children are little then you can talk with them as they grow older.

Second, develop shared interests. I have a friend who manages resort hotels. Because of this he has access to golf courses for relatively little cost. When his oldest son was still very young they began golfing together. They still do nearly two decades later. Another friend of mine took his daughters to a father-daughter ball each year around Valentine’s Day put on by the local Parks and Recreation Department. His daughters, though now grown and married, still go with him when they can. My mother-in-law took karate with four of her children. It doesn’t really matter what it is, just find something that you can do with your children (the key, however, is to do something that they actually want to do).

Third, make time to spend with your children. The amount of time spent with children is directly proportionate to the number of opportunities to talk with them. My father always took me to do service for others. We would work together in the yard. I remember many times crawling under our house to install insulation or make repairs to electrical or plumbing work together. He would take me to our family’s cabin, a two hour drive, so that we would be “stuck” in the car together. He would use the time together to try to start conversations by asking me how I was doing and what was going on in my life. Sometimes I would talk to him. Sometimes I wouldn’t, but he never gave up and I always knew that he cared and would listen.

The best conversations we have with our children will occur when we least expect it. They cannot be forced. Our children will initiate the conversation and we need to be ready when they do. If we practice the ideas discussed here we will be ready and our children, not mention ourselves, will be happier.
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