Marriage Enrichment

Living with PIE

Pie is wonderful! It tastes good, smells good while baking, and can bring back wonderful memories. That kind of pie is not what this post is about. This PIE is about personal responsibility, intentionality, and expectations.

Personal responsibility is important for each of us to accept if we want to reach our goals. In marriage it means taking personal responsibility for your actions, your words, your attitude, and everything else about you. Blaming your grumpiness on the boss at work as an excuse for saying mean things to your spouse does not cut it if you are taking personal responsibility. In this case taking personal responsibility means realizing you are grumpy and why, being nice to others because it is the right thing to do, explaining to your spouse what is going on and how he/she can help, and then taking care of yourself in appropriate ways to get over your grumpiness.

Intentionality is about living on purpose. When you are being intentional you have a purpose for what you are doing and you have made a conscious decision about that purpose and those actions. To use the above example being intentional is when you get home and get bombarded with questions you listen carefully because you have already decided that you are going to be nice to everyone at home even though you feel grumpy. Then, after listening, you appropriately explain how you are feeling and what would help you along with what you plan to do to deal with your grumpiness. When you live intentionally you live with plans. You have an overall plan and goals for your life and how you want to be and more detailed plans for the specifics. You can still be spontaneous as long as the spontaneous things you choose fit in your overall plan. Some people call this idea being proactive and it minimizes the times in your life when you are reactive (which often does not go well).

Expectations are the key to everything you do. When your expectations are met life is generally good and when they are not met then life is generally less than good. Make sure your expectations are realistic. If others need to know your expectations then be clear about your expectations and double check with those others to make sure they understand. Many of us who are parents have given very clear expectations to our children only to find out later that they truly did not understand the expectations. Those troubles are on us for not making things clear and checking to make sure they were clear. (See how personal responsibility and intentionality work into this example?) When in doubt, clarify your expectations, or what you believe the expectations of others are, before acting. It will save time in the long run.

Once you get in the habit of living with PIE, your life will get better and you will be well on your way to a REAL Marriage.

Marriage Through The Alphabet – E

Encouraging is our “E” word. That is no surprise since the “E” in REAL marriage stands for encouraging. This is a manner of speaking to one another. Here are some suggestions about what it means to be encouraging.

  • Use your manners: Please, thank you, excuse me, etc.
  • Speak kindly
  • Be helpful
  • Be truthful
  • Watch your tone, volume, and speaking speed
  • Restate content. “You mean….”
  • Reflect emotions. “You mean…and you feel….”
  • Clarify
  • Give grace or the benefit of the doubt
  • Be aware of context
  • Listen
  • Keep the relationship in mind
  • Speak to others in a way that you would like them to speak to you
  • Give sincere compliments

Most of us could use more encouragement. Sometimes this has to do with what we say to our spouse or another person. At other times it has to do with listening well and taking the time to fully hear our spouse or another person. Simply engaging your spouse in conversation can be encouraging as it provides contact and a sense of sharing in each other’s lives. So take the opportunity everyday to be encouraging to your spouse, it will help you maintain your REAL marriage.

Marriage Through The Alphabet – D

Determination is important in building and maintaining a REAL marriage. Determination gives you the motivation or energy to do what you need to do in your marriage even when you do not feel like it. Marriage is great overall and yet some days are difficult. Some days we do not want to be nice to our spouse, or kids, or co-workers, or anyone else. Determination can help you be nice anyway. Determination helps you get through tough days, weeks, months, or even years. Determination is not pretty at the moment but it leads to beauty through time.

Stay determined. It will help your marriage, encourage others, and leave a good legacy for your children, grandchildren, and friends.

Forgiveness and Life

“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” Norman Cousins

Forgiveness is important to your married life adventure. One of the things that will make this adventure more enjoyable for both of you is the ability to offer and receive forgiveness. For more on forgiveness read this blog post.

Forgive and enjoy the adventure of your REAL marriage.

Marriage Through The Alphabet – C

The “C” is Celebrate. Most of us like to celebrate when there is something to celebrate. If we look for a reason we can find one most days to celebrate something and make it part of our marriage or family. Celebrations are happy and become good memories. These good memories can sustain us when things are not so good. Celebrate as often as you can whether it is a small celebration or a great big celebration. Here is a quick list of ideas to get you started.

  • Your spouse’s (and other family members) birthdays – each month
  • Your anniversary each month
  • Holidays
  • Promotions
  • The weekend
  • A new week
  • New jobs
  • End/beginning of school
  • Accomplishments in extra curricular activities (bowling league, children’s activities, etc)
  • Reaching goals
  • Change of seasons

You get the idea. Celebrate often. If you follow this advice you will have at least one celebration each month. Start celebrating more and see what happens.

Marriage Through the Alphabet – B

The word for this entry is Blessing. This is meant to be a positive word so for all of you who have been “blessed out” I am talking about something different. In today’s entry the idea of blessing has to do with things we say and things we do.

Give a blessing to your spouse, loved ones, and even your friends. If you are really bold, give a blessing to the people you meet and do not know. To give a blessing is to wish the best for them. If you want to go all out on blessing someone I recommend you read the book, The Blessing, by Gary Smalley & John Trent. In this book the authors list five elements to a blessing:

  1. Meaningful touch
  2. Spoken words
  3. Expressing high value
  4. Picturing a special future
  5. An active commitment

To be a blessing takes number five from above – an active commitment. It is a commitment of support, loyalty, and love. To be a blessing takes action. Most people do such things once in a while as a normal part of life. Today make a decision to BE a blessing everyday as part of who you are and decide to give a blessing every time you have an opportunity. I can only imagine the difference in our lives, our country, and our world if we lived as a blessing and overcame the curses.

Marriage Through the Alphabet – A

This is the start of a series of marriage tips and information organized by the alphabet. Some of these ideas are easy and some take more work yet I believe they are possible for most people. Today is “A” and we will go through the alphabet. Feel free to send me your favorite (clean) marriage words and I may use it as one of the posts.

Adaptable. This is my first “A” word. All marriages and relationships work better when they are adaptable. Adaptable in this case is a way of working together. More gets done around the house when you split chores. One of my main jobs in our house is to be the taxi for the boys. However, when they have to be in different places at the same time I am not able to do this and my wife takes one boy to one event while I take the other. Typically, I am the one to mow the lawn and she handles flower beds. There are times though when she mows the lawn and times when I help out with flower beds (under careful instruction).

Sometimes our plans do not go the way we want them to and we have to adapt. We do this together so that we can work together for the benefit of our marriage and our family. We do not always get it right yet we keep working on it and overall we have a satisfying marriage and a healthy, mostly happy, family. You can do the same. Develop the mindset and habit of being adaptable and reap the benefits for your marriage, family, and relationships.

Celebrate Special Days

Everyone likes to celebrate and everyone likes to be remembered on special days. Make it a habit to celebrate special days often. The major holidays are a given. Birthdays and anniversaries are also a given. Here is the twist, celebrate your anniversary, your spouse’s birthday and your children’s birthdays every month on the appropriate day. A small celebration each month with a big celebration on the actual day keeps the love flowing year around.

Yes, I know that some have trouble remembering it once a year so how are they going to remember it every month. The good news is that you can put the date in your electronic calendar and have it repeat each month. You can even set it up to send you a reminder. I set mine up to give me an email reminder the day before. You have options.

Each time these days come up is also a good time to reflect or even write down what you appreciate about the person with whom you are celebrating. Once you have written such a list, hold on to it and add to it each month. You also get to review why you appreciate this person which helps keep the positive emotions going. Be sure to let your spouse or child know how much and why you appreciate them so you maintain a REAL relationship.

Start celebrating each month and see what happens. The more you invest in these relationships, the better they will get.

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 Amazon.com. 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.

Golden Rule Week

April 1-7 is Golden Rule week. The Golden Rule, do to others what you would have them do to you, is a basic biblical principal for having a REAL marriage and a great way to treat all people all the time. While this phrasing comes from the bible, Luke 6:31, it is widely recognized throughout society as (I have to do this) the gold standard for interacting with people.

The Golden Rule is a proactive principle. The idea is to figure out how the other person would like to be treated and then treat them that way – first. The Golden Rule teaches us to be initiators in doing good. Instead of random acts of kindness we are to do intentional proactive positive acts for others.

Many people think they live out the Golden Rule when actually they live the Silver Rule: I will not do to you what I do not want done to me. You do not say mean things to your spouse because you do not want your spouse to say mean things to you. The Silver Rule helps prevent bad actions yet it does not promote positve actions.

Others live the Bronze Rule: I do to you what you do to me. The classic example is the parent who is correcting a child for hitting a sibling and the child says, “He hit me first!” This also happens in marriages when one spouse says, “Treat me like that will you? Let’s see how you like it!” This does not end well.

Finally is the Iron Rule: I do to you before you get a chance to do to me. This is a negative rule. If you do this positively it is the Golden Rule. The Iron Rule is selfish and uncaring. The Iron Rule has no rightful place in a marriage or society.

Spend some time this week figuring out what your spouse would really like and then do it for him or her without being asked. Such behavior is the Loving part of a REAL marriage.

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