General Information

Intentional Purposefulness

Welcome to 2013! Yes, the title is redundant. I wrote it intentionally or on purpose to highlight the importance of being intentional in what we do. Among the many monthly observances going on in January I want to call your attention to Financial Wellness Month, Get Organized Month, and National Be On-Purpose Month. I believe there is a good connection between these three.

January is typically a time when people take a look at their finances. It is often this month when people receive their W-2 forms indicating how much money they made in the past year. The dread of doing taxes begins and January is often when the bills start arriving for the money spent on Christmas and the other holidays in December. Many make a New Years resolution to become financially well. Two of the things I believe are necessary for becoming financially well are to get organized and be on purpose or be intentional.

To get our finances well we need to be organized about what we are doing and then do it on purpose. Simple to understand though harder to implement and true for most things. I recommend Dave Ramsey’s material to help people with financial issues. I also recommend the book, The Richest Man in Babylon. To get your finances well this year start by going to the library and checking out some of Ramsey’s books or The Richest Man in Babylon. Then read them and begin applying the principles. Take it one step at a time.

All of this takes some discipline. I read a definition of discipline today that basically says discipline is doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. We can always choose to do what is right. So choose to do what is right and now is a right time to begin. Do this for your finances or any other area you need to be well.

REAL action leads to REAL change.

Love Note Ideas

Love notes are always in style. Men, women, children, everyone likes getting love notes. From the “do you love me? check the yes or no box,” notes of grade school to the poetic masterpieces and everything in between, love notes are appreciated. Most people keep them for years and years.

Do you need some love note ideas? This blog has a section dedicated to REAL Love Note Tips. Are you needing a little more help? You can buy my book, Make a Note to Love Your Spouse at It is a step by step guide to making, writing, and delivering REAL Love Notes.

Anyone can write a REAL love note. I suggest at least one per week as part of your marriage or relationship maintenance plan. REAL love notes are deposits in the love bank.

Make a Difference

Strong marriages make strong families and strong families make a strong society. A quick look at research regarding marriages and families indicates a number of positive effects of strong marriages. Some of these include better physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, greater life satisfaction, more income at work, fewer missed work days, greater school achievement by children, less juvenile crime, reduced teen pregnancy and drug use, and mnay more. Strong marriages leave a positive legacy for generations in the future.

So, as we hear more from politicians explaining how they will make things better and how they want your vote I encourage YOU to make a difference. Do everything you can to make your marriage strong. By doing so you will better education, reduce crime, and stabilize the economy. You can always be proud of that vote.

REAL marriages make a real difference.

Out of Wedlock Births Cost Everyone

I have mentioned the cost of out of wedlock births before and it is an issue that has not gone away. Besides the monetary cost there are untold emotional, physical, and spiritual costs to out of wedlock childbirth. Click here to read an NPR story about out of wedlock births. This is an issue that we can address. Each of us can spread the information and we can all send people for education about the advantages of marriage. You can also give premarital education as a marriage (instead of wedding) gift.

Four Types of Help for Your Marriage

Just like your car, your marriage needs maintenance. Just like your car there are some things you can do yourself, some your friends can help with, some you can take care of with a class, and sometimes you may need to call in a professional.

The first type of help is self-help. This is where you get a book, read some reputable articles, or watch some DVDs of good marriage material. This is the type of help that I recommend to all couples to keep things running smooth. The analogy is checking the oil in your car and keeping it filled to the appropriate level.

The second type of help is what I call group education. This may be a class at your church or local mental health center. Seminars also fall into this category as do marriage retreats and workshops. The emphasis here is on education with some skill building. This level helps keep things running smooth and also helps when a minor adjustment is needed.

The third type of help is peer assistance. Mentoring programs, coaching programs, and support groups fall are examples. With these programs there is an emphasis on learning and using marriage skills proven to work with other couples.

The fourth type of help, and the one many people avoid, is professional counseling. While we might be able to change our own spark plugs or oil, putting in a new transmission usually requires a trained mechanic. When the previous types of help do not produce the desired results it is time to see the trained professional.

Keep up the regular maintenance and you may never need that trained professional. It does take work and time and it is worth it. Just like that car that you maintain for all of those years becomes a “classic” your marriage will be a “classic” when you keep it maintained. Then it will be your marriage getting the envious looks that “classics” always get. Maintain that marriage and become a “classic.”

Acceptable Lies?

There is a relationship site that I receive information from that recently posted an article about “white lies” it is okay to tell on a first date. Let’s be clear (and REAL), it is not okay to tell lies, even “white” ones. Do you really want to start a relationship with deception? That is not Romantic or Encouraging. You might think it is Adaptable yet my definition of adaptable is a way of working together and lying is really only about helping you. Lying is certainly not Loving.

Honesty is important in any relationship. Speak the truth, in love, and build your REAL marriage or relationship.

Apology Tips

Most of us do something at sometime in our lives for which we need to apologize. Here is a brief way to remember how to apologize. I use the word, ACTS, as a memory device.

The “A” is for acknowledging the pain the other person is experiencing. The “C” reminds you to confess your part in causing the pain. Be concrete and complete. The “T” means to tell what you are going to do differently. The “S” is for you to start new behaviors or do what you said you would do differently.

When you mess up you need to fess up and “ACTS” will help you do it effectively. Aplogizing when you are wrong or have hurt someone is an important part of your REAL marriage.

Divorce Does Irreversible Damage

Research has shown for some time now that marriage has benefits. Research is now showing that divorce is linked to irreversible health damage. See the article here.

Other research has shown the damage to children and many divorced people can share with you the ongoing stress of dealing with former spouses regarding children. Divorce is painful.

The good news is that marriage has benefits and we know what makes for a good marriage. Everyone can learn the skills to have a good marriage. I sum these up with the acronymn REAL. Romance does not have to die in your marriage, it is a state of mind you bring to everything you do with your spouse. Encouragement is a manner of speaking and covers the communication areas of marriage. Adaptability is a way of working together that keeps a “we” mindset focused on success together. Being loving is a habit of doing for each other. Work on these areas and you can have a good or even great marriage. A REAL marriage can keep you healthy.

Cooridnate your Calendars

Most of us have multiple things going on each week, especially once children are added to the family. You have work, children’s sports, school, and other activities, fraternal and service organizations, and for many, church/temple/mosque activities. It is easy to double book or to be so booked that you do not spend time together. Each person has a calendar and it gets fuller all of the time. For this reason it is important to coordinate your calendars.

Each week, get together as a couple (or even as a family), pull out the calendars and coordinate with one another. Each person needs to have only one calendar for keeping track of appointments, obligations, and other information. If you have a separate calendar for work, home, and birthdays then it will be hard to keep track of all of the calendars. Find a system that will accommodate your needs be it paper or electronic. The beauty of electronic calendars is they usually allow you to print so you can have it with you and yet it is controlled and stored in one spot.

When you have a weekly meeting like this you can make sure that everyone gets where they need to go and home again. It also allows you to purposefully schedule dates with your spouse, family time, recharge time or whatever you need. It also cuts down on missed events or asking your spouse to lunch on a day when an office lunch is already planned.

Coordinating your calendars will help you be intentional about your REAL marriage.

Virginity Pledges DO Make a Difference

Virginity pledges do make a difference. The Wall Street Journal today had an article describing the flaw in recent reporting about the lack of effectiveness of virginity pledges. It turns out that those who make those pledges come from more conservative home and churches and have far less risky sex and delay first sexual experiences by four years. Also, one out of four of those who make the pledges to remain virgins until marriage. Good for them.

Read the article and pass it along. Those who wait until marriage to have sex have a headstart on building their lifelong REAL marriage.

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