7 Ways to Correctly Apologize in Your Marriage

How to apologize correctlyMost of the apologies that come out of our mouth are bad ones. If you ever stop to listen, our go-to apologies sound something like this:

“I’m sorry, ok?” so get off my back.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were so sensitive” this is your issue.

“I’m sorry if you were offended” because I didn’t really do anything.

“I understand that mistakes were made” but they sure weren’t mine.

“I’m sorry but you…” my behavior is your fault. 

Guilty as charged. How about you? Making mistakes is just part of being human. But when you are confronted, what kind of message are you sending? Are you apologizing completely? Or is your sorry just a quick attempt to escape the conflict altogether?

A bad apology can create just as much conflict and hurt as the original offense. If you don’t do it effectively, your apology can lose its value over time. Don’t let your words become meaningless. Get good at the “I’m sorrys” and stay fit in your marriage! Continue reading

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Why Fessing Up is Good for Your Marriage

confess your mess and stay humble in marriageThe word confess sounds intimidating, but it’s really not. In fact, all my relationships – including my marriage – depend on it. And so do yours.

Too often the idea of sharing our dirty laundry with others makes us feel nervous, unsafe, and too vulnerable. So we put on a good face and keep the bad stuff hidden from sight. Continue reading

4 Successful Ways to Listen to Your Spouse

4 successful ways to listen to your spouseI thought I was a great listener. Then I got married.

Funny how marriage has a way of exposing your shortcomings and bad habits. What about you? Do you listen well?

Here are a few of the telltale signs you might be struggling:

  • You interrupt when your spouse is still speaking.
  • You finish your spouse’s sentences.
  • When confronted, you are quick to defend your position.
  • You explain yourself ad nauseam.
  • You give an answer before hearing the speaker out.
  • In a conflict, you focus more on how to fix your own hurt than that of your spouse.
  • You look for loopholes in your spouse’s argument so you can point out where he/she is wrong.
  • You get easily distracted by your own thoughts in a conversation.
  • You find yourself tuning out when the topic of conversation is boring.
  • You get “emotionally hooked” on certain words you find hurtful or offensive.

Truth be told, I do all of these. It’s embarrassing to admit but I commit at least one of these on a regular basis. Continue reading

How to Stay Fit in Your Marriage

how to stay fit in your marriage

If January was the health month, then February is the month of love. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and soon many of our thoughts will be consumed with showing love to our closest friends and family.

This year, I am focusing on getting healthy physically, spiritually, and relationally. I plan to devote a large portion of my blog posts to these particular topics! February is just another good reminder of the importance of relationships. The next few weeks you will see a multi-post series on 4 exercises that will help you stay fit in your marriage.

I am writing this series on marriage because I need it. And maybe you need it too. I’ll be honest; I learn best from my own shortcomings and failures. And just when I think I’ve got this thing figured out, I get another dose of reality that leaves me humbled. But the best part about community is that we can learn and grow together. So join me these next couples weeks as I share the vital lessons I am learning from my own marriage.

If you’re not married, check out my earlier post on Finding Mr. Right: 10 insights from those who are married.

Don’t Be Surprised

Being healthy takes work. And lots of it. Marriage is no different. A good marriage is not something you automatically start out with on your wedding day. It’s something that is carefully and intentionally crafted over time.

Marriage is hard. So don’t be surprised when you hit some bumps along the way. The race is long and the road can be rocky. You may not be able to avoid the tough times, but you can prepare for them. Continue reading

7 Tips for Understanding Your Strong-Willed Spouse

7 tips for understanding your strong-willed spouse

After reading the article, “Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child” circling social media, I couldn’t resist writing this post. Insightful and practical, I quietly snickered as I read through the characteristics of a “difficult” and willful child. As my parents can attest to, this article accurately described a picture of my childhood. My parents would joke that all they had to do was look at my sister when she was in trouble and she would cry. Me on the other hand? My parents would look at me and I would boldly stare right back at them.

As the article explains, strong-willed children are difficult to parent because they have their own ideas and ways of doing things and don’t like being told what to do. However, if parents can guide their strong spirit and “resist the impulse to ‘break their will’, strong-willed kids often become leaders.”

This was great advice for parents. But what happens when that strong-willed child grows up? Parenting is one thing. Being married to a strong-willed spouse is quite another. Continue reading

The Message in the Mess: what our busy lives are telling us

What our busy lives are telling us

When people ask us how we’re doing the words “busy” and “stressed” tend to surface. Come to think of it, those answers have been on repeat a lot lately. Lately. As in the past four years. As I find myself uttering the same response over and over I have started wondering, Do we really live this way? Has our life really boiled down to busyness, stress, to-do lists, and running from one event to the next? Another thought terrified me. If this is our life now, what will it be like when we have kids? I couldn’t even go there for fear panic would set in. Based on our current lifestyle, I couldn’t even imagine our lives picking up more speed!

But let’s be honest. “Busy and stressed” is just the polite, socially acceptable answer. In reality, what I really mean is “We’re absolutely exhausted running around like crazy people just trying to hold on to our sanity allthewhile wondering how we can get off this roller coaster!” At least, that’s how it feels. But that response might result in a few blank stares, awkward silences, and uncomfortable shuffling of feet.

I remember my parents recounting this exact feeling. Mom and Dad would crash into bed at the end of each day, utterly fatigued, asking each other, “how do we get off this roller coaster of life?” They felt whipped around at every turn and  like they were being dragged along at warp speed.

Though few may admit it, I suspect I am not alone. An article from ABC news stated that middle class Americans are overstressed and overworked, calling it the “sweat under the white collar”. Both men and women now share the roles of breadwinner and homemaker, while more and more children are placed in daycare. Long hours, hectic schedules, events, social outings, volunteering, to-do lists, dinner, laundry, yard work, baseball games, swim practice, and just keeping up with the kids’ schedules is enough to make you feel like you’re drowning. But we press on. We push through. For a while. Until sooner or later we find ourselves coming up for air, on the verge of burnout, wondering how things got so out of control.

The idea of “getting off the ride” may look a little different for each of us. For some this means finding a sense of peace and turning to yoga, quiet time, or time away. For others, it means gaining a sense of structure through lists, whiteboards, schedules, etc. Some believe that if they just create enough balance in their life, things will improve. Still others search for a way to unload their stress through physical activity, entertainment, counseling, or time with friends and family. All of these are great ways to reduce and manage stress in life.

Manage. That’s the key word here. While I am an avid supporter of finding ways to balance life, manage stress, and find some peace, I feel given enough time we will find ourselves back where we started. Like a bandaid over a seeping wound, sometimes these “fix-it” solutions just aren’t enough. Sometimes only major surgery will do.

Perhaps the answer we’re searching for isn’t in figuring out how to get off the ride, but understanding Continue reading

Little Moments of Marriage: 8 ways to stay connected to your spouse

marriage04

Our relationship has been pelted by many storms. Our vow to remain faithful “in sickness and in health” became a sobering reality when my health suddenly declined and I became all but crippled for a number of months. Many other physical and emotional issues have threatened our sense of stability and intimacy. These experiences forced us to find ways to stay strong and connected in our marriage. As the storms cleared, we saw how God uses the little moments to keep us anchored when we weather the hard times.

A good marriage is not something you automatically start out with on your wedding day. It is something that is carefully and intentionally crafted over time. Change how you handle the little moments each day and you can change your marriage! Your past doesn’t have to predict your future.

A great marriage is the result of a thousand great little moments. Here are a few little things we have found helpful in staying connected through the stormy seasons. Continue reading