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Archive for the ‘Marriage.’ Category

Communicating with Your Spouse through Tough Times.

Wendy van Eyck

The morning my husband woke up with a mysterious head-to-toe rash our heads were filled with the ideas, dreams and hopes of newlyweds. A week later, we sat before a surgeon as he explained that my husband had cancer.

There is so much that needs to discussed in a situation like that but so few words to describe how one feels. We were unsure how to communicate this news to others, and even more so how to speak about it with each other. Was it okay to speak our biggest fears aloud? Just a week before our thoughts had been on the future, now we spoke about the worry, heartbreak and disappointment we felt.

It’s been just over two years since we first heard Xylon has cancer. We’ve “celebrated” both our anniversaries in hospital. My husband has had 18 chemo treatments, radiation and a stem cell transplant. We’ve celebrated being cancer free and twice we have heard the crushing words, “There are still active cancer spots.” The reality is that we live from test-to-test grateful for even a few weeks of treatment free time together.

Through all of this we have had to learn how to keep communicating with each other. We often fail. There have been many times when I have snapped at him out of tiredness or kept quiet when speaking up would have been better. Sometimes I don’t want to talk about the realities our future might hold but I’ve learnt that when either of us stays silent about our thoughts and feelings it actually adds stress to our relationship.

Here are few things we’ve tried that have made communicating in tough times easier.

Make Space

Engage all five senses when you communicate. I often find that my mind wanders when Xylon speaks, or that I continue watching TV with one ear. I’ve been consciously choosing to tune out of everything else (switch it off, put it down, close it) and look at him and listen to what he has to say. If bringing up the topic of putting down electronics might be a touchy subject create opportunities to talk when this isn’t an issue. Some of our best conversations happen in the car when we are free of all distractions.

Find Time

Before bringing up a difficult topic ask yourself, “Is this the best time to discuss this?” Often there will never be a perfect time but there are usually times that are better than others. I needed to learn that talking about the broken washing machine when my husband was still tired from chemo was more likely to lead to an argument, than if I had waited a day or two. Be sensitive to the struggles your partner is going through and choose a time when you can both engage with situation.

Be Open about Fears

One lunch time we sat down and asked each other two questions. First, “What is your greatest fear?” Once we had both answered we asked, “What is your greatest opportunity?” I have found this exercise helpful for us a number of times because often I discover that the thing I fear the most is also where our greatest opportunity for the future lies. It is also a simple way to start conversations where you can both be vulnerable about future worries.

Seek God Together

We have been making a lot of decisions over the last few months. We have prayed together about the future. Not long drawn out prayer sessions just short prayers before we fall asleep. Often after a difficult conversation we’ll pray or sentence or two asking God to help us through the situation. Just being able to pray about a situation can often lead to clearer communication.

Talk about the Future

It is easy to get bogged down in the present problems. I find when that happens that refocusing on the future can help move communication on. Shifting focus from what is wrong right now to how we want the future to look can mean we find an unlikely solution. It’s amazing how often when you’re doing life with someone day-to-day you can forget to dream with them. Talking about individual dreams, and finding common dreams, can help get past momentary problems that don’t hinder the future you dream of together.

Speak to Others

Realise that the two of you don’t always have all the answers. My husband and I have both seen psychologists at different times over the past two years to deal with his diagnosis. We have also spoken openly with friends about what we are going through and accepted help when it is offered. Often an outside point of view can change how we see a situation or help us talk about an issue we’re struggling with from a new perspective.

Having hard conversations isn’t easy and it’s not something that anyone wants to do but I’ve found that by speaking tough words it brings my husband and I closer when circumstances could push us apart. Tough times don’t last forever and neither do hard conversations. Speak through the awkward stuff and then go do something fun.

If you’ve had to learn to communicate through tough times I’d love you to share some of things that have worked for you in the comments.

Wendy van Eyck is married to Xylon, who talks non-stop about cycling, and makes her laugh. She writes for anyone who has ever held a loved one’s hand through illness, ever believed in God despite hard circumstances or ever left on a spontaneous 2-week holiday through a foreign land with just a backpack. You can follow Wendy’s story and subscribe to receive her free ebook, “Life, life and more life” at She would also love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.


How to Enjoy a Happily Ever After Marriage.

Whitney Hopler

Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Les and Leslie Parrott’s new book Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage (Worthy Publishing, 2014).

Everyone who gets married wants to enjoy a happy marriage. But too often, people wait in vain for happiness to come to them, hoping that the right spouse or the right circumstances in their marriage will somehow make them happy. The truth is that marriage can’t make anyone happy, but happy people can make their marriages happy.

Enjoying a happy marriage is possible – no matter who you’ve married, or what circumstances you all are dealing with in your lives together – if you rely on God to help you build a happy marriage according to his design. Here’s how:

Understand that your choices significantly affect how happy you become. While your circumstances and genetics do affect the level of happiness that you experience, a significant portion of your happiness is well within your control – it comes down to the choices that you make. So decide throughout each day to pursue happiness through intentional activities. The more you practice behaviors designed to increase your happiness, the more you’ll inspire your spouse to join in, and your marriage will become happier in the process.

Pursue meaning that transcends pleasure. Realize that pursuing pleasure isn’t enough in itself to make you happy; you also need to pursue meaning in order to achieve real happiness. That’s because God has designed holiness (devoting yourself to God by living the way he intends) to lead to happiness. When you move beyond the self-absorbed pursuit of pleasure for its own sake to making meaningful choices that will help you love God and others more, you naturally invite happiness into your life.

Count your blessings. Gratitude for the many gifts that God brings into the life that you and your spouse share will strengthen your relationship with each other. The more you give thanks to God for your blessings, the more blessings you will notice and appreciate, which will cause you to enjoy your lives more and inspire more love between you.  Make a conscious effort to count your blessings regularly, in ways such as: cutting down on complaining, keeping a written record of your blessings in a gratitude journal, going with your spouse to visit someone who has helped either one of you in the past to thank him or her, and savoring the good moments you and your spouse experience together.

Try new things. Moving out of your comfort zones to experience new adventures together keeps your relationships fresh and leads to deeper happiness in your marriage. Some of the ways you can try new things together include: sharing a passion for an activity that both of you can enjoy doing together for fun, spicing up your sex life with new sexual positions and lovemaking locations, making new friends together, and spending your money on experiences together (like vacations and restaurant dinners) rather than material items.

Dream together. Following your dreams together will make your marriage happier by stirring optimism and empowering action in your lives. Plus, when you support each other in the process of pursuing dreams, you can accomplish more together than you could alone. You can dream together in ways such as: envisioning what you each hope your future will be like and discussing details of it together, overcoming your fear of failure by taking steps of faith toward making your dreams come true, building a “bucket list” of experiences you hope to have together during your lifetimes, identifying dreams that are most meaningful to each of you, keeping hope alive by discussing your dreams together often, and setting goals (that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time sensitive) to help you achieve your dreams.

Celebrate each other. When you make a habit of celebrating the positive moments that you and your spouse share, you avoid falling into the unhappy trap of taking each other for granted and instead fuel mutual admiration and honor that will contribute to happiness in your marriage. Celebrating each other inspires and motivates each other to be your best selves as you relate to each other. Ways you can celebrate each other include: complimenting each other for positive words and actions you notice every day, responding to each other’s good news with excitement, incorporating fun and loving sex into your lives on a regular basis, enjoying listening to music together often, expressing affection freely (such as through hugs, kisses, and backrubs), and serving each other regularly through acts of kindness (such as preparing special meals or taking on chores and errands for your spouse when he or she is especially busy).

Attune your spirits. Pursuing spiritual intimacy with each other will make your marriage happier by drawing you both closer to the ultimate source of joy: God. You can do so in ways that include: incorporating spiritual disciplines (such as praying, reading the Bible, and participating in church) into your lives together, openly and honestly discussing details of how God is working in both of your lives, and responding gracefully to each other’s faults as God does.

Add value to others. When you work together to assist or cheer up people whom God leads you to help or encourage, you double your impact for good and make your marriage happier as you make others happier. Keep in mind that, as Christian spouses, God has ordained you to serve others as a team. Some of the ways you can add value others include: making a list of kind acts you can do together (of different varieties, including some that you all can do anonymously), reviewing your experiences together afterward, mentoring other spouses to help them have better marriages, and sponsoring an impoverished child together.

Overcome the biggest hurdles to happiness as a couple. Those hurdles include: depending on money to make you happy, comparing yourselves to others, holding on to pride, obsessing over the past pain and regrets, fixating on the future rather than living fully in the present, and focusing what you don’t have rather than what you do have. When you overcome those hurdles, you can enjoy a happy marriage that endures through life’s uncertainties with the certainty of God-given joy.

Adapted from Making Happy: The Art and Science of a Happy Marriage, copyright 2014 by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. Published by Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., Brentwood, Tn.,

Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are #1 New York Times best-selling authors and founders of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University. Their work has been featured in the New York Times and USA Today, and they have appeared on CNNFox News, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and Oprah. Visit

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood’s golden age. Visit her website at:

Publication date: February 19, 2014

7 More Ways Husbands and Wives Injure Each Other Without Even Knowing It.

What other ways can you think of that you might injure your spouse unintentionally?
What other ways can you think of that you might injure your spouse unintentionally? (Stock Free Images)

I recently wrote two blog posts, “7 Ways a Wife Injures a Husband Without Even Knowing It” and “7 Ways a Husband Injures a Wife Without Even Knowing It.” These two posts have quickly become the most-read blog posts in my blogging career.

I received lots of feedback. Numerous sites reposted them. I made a new friend whenStronger Marriages shared them. I can seeDave Willis and I becoming friends and working together in the future.

Charisma suggested I add more ways husbands and wives injure each other, based on the two post’s feedback.

So, here are seven more ways husbands and wives injure each other:

1. Sarcasm. In my original post, I wrote it with some sarcasm, explaining it was easier that way to address a more difficult subject. I still think it was easier, but it wasn’t received well by everyone. A few very vocal people were offended, so I edited that version. It reminded me, though, why I wrote the post. We sometimes unknowingly hurt one another in the way we approach an issue. That certainly was not my intent. Attempting humor isn’t funny if it’s only funny to you but actually hurts another. (And I also learned that some people need to learn how to better offer constructive criticism.)

2. Comparison. I learned that some were offended that they were grouped into a general post, rather than making one post for husbands and wives combined. I get that. We do generalizations all the time, though. Conservatives, liberals and moderates. Introverts and extroverts. At the same time, I understand that no one is just like someone else. We are all unique—but equally true, in many ways we are also alike. We all have similar needs and desires. Still, it did remind me of a way we injure our spouse and so the point is well taken. We should be careful not to compare our spouse to others—especially in a negative way. They are unique individuals.

3. Ignoring. Some commented they feel ignored in the marriage. It could be the response to an argument or the boredom in a relationship or simply refusing to actively listen. But when a spouse pretends the other spouse isn’t even in the room—or makes the other spouse feel as if that’s the case—it hurts.

4. Devaluing the relationship. Some spouses feel they are more serious about making the marriage work than their spouse. Not taking the relationship seriously allows holes to develop and injures the other spouse. And a spouse knows when we aren’t placing a high enough value on the marriage.

5. Lack of contentment. Numerous people indicated they were tired of their spouse never being satisfied in the marriage. It feels to them like the discontentment is directed toward them. In the relationship—in life, with social status, with finances—when one spouse is never satisfied, even when the dissatisfied spouse doesn’t intentionally or knowingly blame the other, it injures. Deeply.

6. Putting others first. Some spouses feel forgotten or neglected. When everyone else gets the best of a spouse’s time and the family gets the leftovers, it injures the relationship and the heart of the neglected ones.

7. Ignoring a spouse’s needs. Several spouses noted they were hurt most when their spouse didn’t realize how something was so important to them. It could be as simple as closing the cabinet doors, which may seem like a frivolous request to one spouse but to another, it drives them crazy. When we act like it doesn’t matter or isn’t “that big of a deal,” we injure the one to whom it is a big deal. (Now, granted, everything can’t be a big deal, or nothing really is a big deal, but we should value the other person enough to care about the things they care about, and when it’s easy enough to do, why not comply?)

By the way, the last example is one from my own marriage. It doesn’t matter to me that a cabinet door is slightly ajar. It bothers my wife greatly. I can clearly see that cabinet doors were designed to close. So, knowing it matters to her—I close them. Easy enough.

For more complicated issues, it requires better communication, mutual understanding and a willingness to humble ourselves in the relationship. When two spouses are doing this—and yes, it takes two—I am convinced that any marriage can be a great marriage.

Sadly, in my experience, many people think they are doing that, but they are really only expecting one spouse to do all the humbling of themselves. If the other spouse would only see and do things their way, they think, things would be good in the marriage. That doesn’t work, however. It takes two people, both willing to collaborate and compromise toward a greater reality of the two unique individuals becoming one.

Let me close by sharing a couple of general thoughts. First, I’m trying to help marriages. I realize all of these—maybe none of these—apply to your marriage. Some marriages are in serious trouble, and these posts can’t help at the stage where you are at right now. You may need professional counseling, and I strongly encourage you to get help if needed.

Some have dismissed these as too elementary. I understand that too. Although, I must say, some of the replies were extremely harsh and unkind in the way they expressed themselves. I seriously couldn’t help but wonder if that type response is occurring in the marriage if there is a wounded spouse and the spouse doing the injuring is totally unaware of the hurt they are causing. (Which is why I wrote the posts.)

No post can be an answer for everyone. I’m grateful, forever, for the numbers who have been positively impacted by them. I’m overwhelmed by your responses. Thank you.

Now help other marriages (and be kind in your reply). What are other ways husbands and wives injure each other without even knowing it?

Ron Edmondson is a church planter and pastor with a heart for strategy, leadership and marketing, especially geared toward developing churches and growing and improving the kingdom of God.

For the original article, visit

Federal Judge Strikes Down Virginia’s Ban on Gay Marriage.

A federal judge struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional late on Thursday, saying it denied gay couples a fundamental freedom to marry.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Norfolk, Virginia, added momentum to growing acceptance of gay marriage in the United States.

Allen said Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violated the right to due process and equal protection of the law under the U.S. Constitution. However, she stayed execution of her order striking down the ban pending an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The Court is compelled to conclude that Virginia’s Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,” Allen, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, wrote in her 41-page opinion.

She ordered submission of a proposed final order by March 14.

The decision in Bostic v. Rainey, in which two gay couples sought to strike down the Virginia ban, follows two high-profile rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

The high court paved the way for gay marriage to resume in California. It also struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Federal judges have cited the DOMA ruling in finding gay marriage bans unconstitutional in Utah and Oklahoma.


Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage, including eight states where it became legal in 2013.

Thirty-three ban same-sex couples from marrying by constitutional amendment, statute, or both. In Indiana, a vote by state residents on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was delayed by at least two years on Thursday.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the Virginia case, said Allen’s ruling upheld core U.S. principles of equality.

“Laws excluding gay men and lesbians from marriage violate personal freedom, are an unnecessary government intrusion, and cause serious harm. That type of law cannot stand,” lead co-counsel Theodore Olson said in a statement.

Olson was part of the legal team that argued before the U.S. high court for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.

Also applauding the ruling, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement that it “is the latest step in a journey towards equality for all Virginians, no matter who they are or whom they love.”

Herring, a Democrat, said last month he would not defend the state’s ban on gay marriage in court.

In 2006, 57 percent of Virginians voted for the constitutional amendment imposing the ban. But a poll released in October by Virginia’s Christopher Newport University showed that 56 percent of likely voters opposed the ban, while 36 percent favored it – reflecting the reversal in public opinion.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States’ Rights on Marriage.

Image: Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States' Rights on MarriageUni

By Greg Richter

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee introduced a bill Wednesday to keep states from being forced to recognize marriages and spouses from same-sex unions in other states.

“Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to redefine marriage, and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens,” The Hill reported Cruz as saying on Thursday. “The Obama administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states.”

The bill comes after Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday ordered the Justice Department to treat all same-sex marriages the same – even if the couple involved does not currently live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Holder’s rule would apply to same-sex couples that deal with the federal government, but would not apply to state laws that deal with such issues as spousal benefits.

The bill by Cruz, of Texas, and Lee, of Utah, appears to be an attempt to head off any future move to also apply those rules to state governments.

Thirty-three states currently define marriage between one man and one woman, while 17 allow people of the same gender to wed.

When the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, it ruled that it was illegal for the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages that have been made legal in those states. Cruz said his bill seeks the same protection for states where gay marriage is illegal.

“Redefining marriage will entail high social costs,” writes Ryan T. Anderson at in response to the bill. “Thus all Americans should insist our laws embody the truth about marriage. And the federal government should respect it when state laws do so.”

Related Stories:

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Tens of Thousands in Paris March Against Gay Marriage.

Image: Tens of Thousands in Paris March Against Gay MarriageSupporters of the “La Manif Pour Tous” (Protest for Everyone) movement demonstrate to defend their vision of the traditional family on Feb. 2 in Paris.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Paris and Lyon on Sunday against new laws easing abortion restrictions and legalizing gay marriage, accusing French President Francois Hollande’s government of “family phobia”.

Marching in the French capital, Philippe Blin, a pastor from nearby Sevres, said he felt a “relentlessness against the family” in France.

Police said 80,000 people took to the streets in Paris, far lower than the organizers’ own turnout figure of half a million.

At least 20,000 rallied in south-central Lyon, many of them ferried in aboard around 60 buses, waving placards reading “Mom and Dad, There’s Nothing Better for a Child” and “Two Fathers, Two Mothers, Children With No Bearings” — a slogan that rhymes in French.

The president of the lead organizing movement LMPT (Protest for Everyone), Ludovine de la Rochere, said she was thrilled with the turnout and appealed to the government to respond to the marchers’ concerns.

The mass protest comes a week after several thousand people marched through Paris in a “Day of Anger” against Hollande’s Socialist government, with the demonstration ending in clashes between police and protesters.

Those demonstrators railed against a slew of policies under Hollande — the most unpopular French president of modern times — including last year’s law allowing gay marriage.

Other targets of LMPT’s protests include medically assisted procreation (MAP) techniques for lesbian couples and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

They are also demanding the scrapping of an experimental school program aimed at combating gender stereotypes.

On Sunday, a few counter-demonstrators waved signs behind De la Rochere as she gave a stand-up television interview, one reading: “Protect Our Children from the Witches”.

© AFP 2014


5 Ways to Turn Up the Heat in Your Marriage.


Marriage heats up
Could your marriage use a little (or big) spark? (Stock Free Images)

It is bad enough that the temperatures are below freezing outside, but when your marriage is cold, you have a much bigger problem. Don’t let your marriage grow cold; turn up the heat and bring back the romance.

Below are five ways to make your marriage hot:

1. Check the thermostat. Recognize the temperature of your marriage, but don’t focus only on the bad parts. Think about the good things in your marriage, and make that your focus.

2. Slow down. During the cold seasons, things seem to slow down. Do the same thing with your marriage. Slow down and look for ways to spend more time together.

3. Light a fire. There is nothing that changes the dynamic of your relationship like prayer. When prayer is absent, you don’t love as well. When prayer is present, you love one another well. Light a fire with the power of prayer in your marriage. If you don’t know what to pray, here are “10 Things to Pray for Your Marriage.”

4. Speak your wife’s (love) language. Communication is important in your marriage. But sometimes you are communicating in different languages. Find out what your wife’s love language is, and speak it regularly.

5. Cozy up with one another. Once you start speaking love to her in the form of her love language, it is time to heat it up. Get as close to one another as you possibly can. Spend quiet and intimate time together, without the kids.

For the original article, visit

4 Signs That Your Marriage is in Trouble.


angry woman with clock

A man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Mich., at 7:50 a.m., flashed a gun and demanded cash. The clerk said he couldn’t open the cash register without a food order. When the wannabe robber ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren’t available for breakfast. The frustrated man stormed out of the restaurant.

In Tennessee, a burglar realized he’d left his Nikes at the home he’d just robbed. So he returned and asked the lady of the house if she’d seen his shoes. She called the cops, and the guy was arrested.

The mistakes criminals make could fill a book. In fact, they have. Leland Gregory’s The Stupid Crook Bookreveals dozens of real-life stories about captured criminals who are so dumb you almost feel sorry for them.

But we want to show you how to catch the most common time bandits of your day. Beware. These crooks are far smarter than the inept criminals you just read about. You may not even be aware of how much time they are stealing from your marriage.

Of course, there are literally dozens of time bandits walking off with time you could have spent on each other, but the following four are the most common and the sneakiest.

Unfinished Business
One of the greatest time bandits prowling around your relationship is the past. When you are weighed down by regret, pain or guilt over things that happened two decades ago or two hours ago, you will no longer be able to live fully in the present.

Unfinished business consumes your time like few competitors. Why? Because the brain remembers incomplete tasks or failure longer than any success or completed activity.

Once a project is complete, the brain no longer gives it priority or active working status. But regrets have no closure. The brain continues trying to come up with ways to fix the mess and move it to inactive status. But it can’t—not until you work to close it.

If you need to gain closure on anything from your past, the first place to begin is where it hurts. Healing your hurts is essential to feeding your time-starved marriage, not to mention your own emotional health. Why? Because healing the pain from your past protects you from repeating the pain in your present marriage.

This may sound strange, but if we never come to terms with our past pain, we use our marriage as a means to make it right. The trouble is, marriage was never designed to do that. You’ll just continue to repeat relationship problems and replay your pain again and again.

Once you identify the loose ends of pain from your past, you’ll need to work on resolving them. You may need to apologize to someone you’ve hurt or forgive someone who’s hurt you.

You may need to return something that’s not yours or regain something that rightfully belongs to you.

The goal is to deal with the unfinished business from your past. You’ll be amazed by how much time you’ll reclaim for your marriage by doing so.

Some guys are car freaks. Some are sports nuts. Me? I’m a gadget guy. I love the latest and greatest technology.

When I first heard of something called Wi-Fi, I was giddy. A wireless network in my own home! Now Leslie and I could work, pay bills or check our e-mail from any corner of the house: the kitchen, living room and patio, even the bedroom.

The wireless network was just what I needed to carve out more quality time for Leslie and me and our family. Or so I thought.

On the first day of my new wireless life, I checked the headlines of a half-dozen newspapers while sitting at the breakfast table. I scanned the television listings for my evening’s viewing. And I checked the course enrollments for my upcoming college class; I was hooked.

That night, after tucking our boys in, we were in bed—just me, Leslie and my Sony laptop. I needed one more look at my e-mail. Leslie, on the other hand, needed to talk.

“When you’re done with that, I want to tell you about my day tomorrow,” she said.

“OK, go ahead,” I said as I clicked away on my keyboard.

“Can we talk without that thing in our bed?” she said, pointing at my computer.

Uh-oh. This isn’t good, I thought. Thankfully, I screened out my first impulsive response: Why don’t you instant message me?.

“Of course,” I said out loud as I quickly powered down.

It soon became painfully obvious: The wireless network that was making it so much easier for me to be online was also making it harder for me to pay attention to Leslie.

Who’d have thought that with all the technology designed to give us more time, we’d be cramming all those extra moments we’d saved with even more time-consuming technological wizardry? With all the gadgets, we feel more harried than ever before.

We still have Wi-Fi, but I now control it more than it controls me—and it never enters the bedroom. If we aren’t careful, technology can delude us into thinking we’re saving time for our marriages when just the opposite is happening.

Most of us want what we want now. We can’t wait. So we overextend our budgets, our credit and our calendars.

This same impatience infects our relationships, especially our marriages. We expect our spouses to do what we want when we want.

We grow weary of waiting, even for a moment, if he or she is a bit late. Impatience steals intimacy from our relationship by infusing it with intolerance, irritation and annoyance.

“Serenity now!” If you were a fan of the 1990s television phenomenon called Seinfeld, you immediately recognize that phrase.

The episode featured a subplot about Frank, the father of main character George. Whenever Frank feels tense, he is to lower his blood pressure by calmly saying, “Serenity now.” Frank, unfortunately, doesn’t get the idea that this phrase is to be said slowly with a deep breath for a soothing effect.

Instead, whenever he is frustrated, he shouts out the phrase in anger. Like a lot of us, he’s demanding to have “serenity now!” No time to cultivate it. No time to wait.

Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the same trap. Impatience corrodes your time like few other poisons, eating away at what could otherwise be a pleasant moment.

It’s tempting to justify impatience by telling ourselves: “This is just how I act when I’m in a hurry. The real me, though, is more loving, and my spouse knows that.” Are you sure?

Take a good look at this “temporary” trait and be sure it isn’t becoming a permanent resident. Giving impatience the boot may be one of the most important things you can do to reclaim the time you’ve been missing from your marriage.

The Clock
We have nothing against clocks. In fact, we have a huge clock in our home that nearly every guest comments on.

We’re not fanatical here. We only want to tell you a story. It’s an old tale of a village that bought a fancy clock tower. Sometime after it was installed, a visitor to the town discovered that all the people were sleeping during the day and working at night.

When he questioned them about this, they answered: “We have the most unique town in America. After we got our new clock, we began to notice that the sun kept rising earlier and earlier every morning. Finally the daytime hours were dark and the night hours were light. We are petitioning the president for special recognition as the only town in America with such a situation.”

As it turned out, the new clock had been running slower and slower because sparrows were roosting inside it. The point? The people of the village were so enamored by their clock that they allowed it to control them instead of the other way around.

And that’s the potential problem with clocks. If we aren’t careful, they can make us their slaves. We can’t extinguish our reliance on timepieces. We’d have chaos. But if we surrender completely to the clock, it spins our relationships out of control as well.

Don’t always give in to the tyranny of the clock. Linger over a latte together every once in a while. If you have a deadline to meet, don’t be irresponsible, but don’t be a time tyrant either. It’s a fine line to walk. It requires balance—something those driven solely by the clock seldom have.

6 Ways Your Marriage Can Thrive in a Busy Season.

Man and wife
Does busyness pull you and your spouse apart or make you closer?

I’ve come to the conclusion that more often than not, we find ourselves in a busy season of life. There is always a new assignment at work, another child’s dance recital to attend, another book to read, a new trip to take, another practice to drive the kids to, another meal to cook, another day of yard work, and now Christmas. The list goes on and on.

So how can our marriages not only survive but thrive in these seasons? Here are six ways your marriage can thrive even through the busiest times of life:

1. Set aside a little time throughout the day. Our days often have a couple minute-long breaks here and there. So instead of checking your Twitter feed, posting on Facebook or staring off into space, make those moments count. Send a quick email or text, or make a phone call to your spouse just to let them know you are thinking about them. It’s a simple way to interact frequently and consistently without taking too much time out of your schedule.

2. Be busy together. If you find that your wife has committed to serving at school next week, serve with her. If your husband is coaching your daughter’s soccer team, volunteer to help coach with him. You may not be able to get rid of the obligations in your life, but you can certainly thrive in the busyness if you go through it together. This may even turn out to be a sweet opportunity for you to grow as a couple as you learn to interact in a new way and in a new place.

3. Leave notes around the house. You may not have hours to spend with your spouse each day, but you can take a few minutes in the morning or at night to jot down a quick love note and stick it somewhere you know your spouse will see it—on the bathroom mirror, on the kitchen counter or even on the steering wheel in the car. This will be a creative reminder of your love in the midst of the craziness of life.

4. Plan dates in advance. Planning ahead will always help you spend time wisely in your marriage. If you know you have a date set for next Saturday, you each will work to get things done for that special night. So sit down with your spouse in advance and pick a night you know will work for both of you. Then calendar it as a very important appointment.

5. Say “no” more. It’s sometimes easier to say yes when someone asks you to do something with or for them than it is to say no. It’s OK to say no more often, even to good things, so that you can focus your energy and attention on your spouse.

6. Leave more margin on your calendar. If you don’t block out time on your calendar each day where you don’t schedule anything, it will fill up by default. Leave room for the unexpected—the child who needs to be picked up, the call to get the A/C repaired, the friend who needs help—so that your focus can be fully on your spouse when you’re together.

What are some ways in which you and your spouse have worked to keep your marriage thriving in the busy seasons of life? I’d love to hear your suggestions in a comment below.



Mark Merrill is the president of Family FirstFor the original article, visit

Federal Court: No Halt to Gay Marriages in Utah.

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that gay marriages can continue in Utah, denying a request from the state to halt same-sex weddings until the appellate process plays out.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the state’s request for an emergency stay of a federal judge’s ruling that found Utah’s same-sex-marriage ban violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights.

The judge who made that ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Shelby, refused the state’s first request to put a halt to the marriages Monday.

Utah’s last chance to temporarily stop the marriages would be the U.S. Supreme Court.

The appellate ruling means county clerks can continue to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians. Nearly 700 gay couples have obtained marriage licenses since Friday, with most coming in the state’s most populous county.

Utah is the 18th state where gay couples can wed, and the sight of same-sex marriages occurring just a few miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church has provoked anger among the state’s top leaders.

“Until the final word has been spoken by this Court or the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Utah’s marriage laws, Utah should not be required to enforce Judge Shelby’s view of a new and fundamentally different definition of marriage,” the state wrote in a motion to the appeals court.

Shelby’s decision to strike down a law passed by voters in 2004 drew attention, given Utah’s long-standing opposition to gay marriage and its position as headquarters for the Mormon church.

It’s estimated that nearly two-thirds of Utah’s 2.8 million residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon church’s official name, and Mormons dominate the state’s legal and political circles.

The Mormon church was one of the leading forces behind California’s short-lived ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, which voters approved in 2008.

The church said Friday it stands by its support for “traditional marriage” and hopes a higher court validates its belief that marriage is only between a man and woman.

In court Monday, Utah attorney Philip Lott repeated the words “chaotic situation” to describe what has happened in Utah since clerks started allowing gay weddings. He urged the judge to “take a more orderly approach than the current frenzy.”

“Utah should be allowed to follow its democratically chosen definition of marriage,” he said of the 2004 gay marriage ban.

That confusion stretched to county clerks in Utah, some of whom were refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples even though they could face legal consequences for not doing so.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office warned counties they could be held in contempt of federal court if they refuse to issue the licenses.

A spokesman for the office, Ryan Bruckman, said it was not giving legal guidance to clerks’ offices.

In the meantime, state agencies have begun trying to sort out how gay marriages may affect state services.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s office sent a letter to state agencies Tuesday advising them to comply with the judge’s ruling or consult the Utah Attorney General’s Office if the ruling conflicts with other laws or rules.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services, which administers programs such as food stamps and welfare, is recognizing the marriages of gay couples when they apply for benefits, spokesman Nic Dunn told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

It’s unclear whether Utah will allow married same-sex couples to jointly file their state income tax returns next year, as they will be able to do for federal returns.

Charlie Roberts, a spokesman for the Utah State Tax Commission, said the agency still needs to consult the Utah Attorney General’s Office about the issue.

In October, the commission stipulated that because Utah did not recognize same-sex marriages, same-sex couples who had married out of state could not file jointly in Utah.

The state income tax forms do not currently require filers to specify gender, so it’s possible same-sex couples could have already filed jointly in previous years, but Roberts said the commission had never been aware of such a case.

The legal wrangling over the topic will likely continue for months. The 10th Circuit likely will hear the full appeal of the case several months from now.

Even if the 10th Circuit grants a stay or overturns the ruling, legal analyst say the marriage licenses that already have been issued probably will remain valid.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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