Monday, December 15, 2014

HOPE for Your Marriage

Statistics show that half of all marriages will end in divorce, but you and I are more than a number.  These figures do not predict the length or satisfaction of your marriage in any way.  I think it’s important to remember this when it comes to viewing our marriage.  Better yet, ignore the statistics if they are negatively affecting your marriage.  I suppose a little worrying about not becoming one of the couples who divorce can be healthy, but we should not allow this disappointing statistic to shadow our own marriage.
I respect marriage and regard it highly.  I do not take my marriage lightly, nor do I view divorce lightly.  I chose my husband based on our shared values and this reassured me of our lifelong commitment to one another through the ups and downs.  I’m aware of the fact that marriage is hard work and I fully intend on giving my marriage my all; it is my priority above all else.  I also don’t accept divorce as a solution for my marital challenges; I believe that divorce should be avoided, if at all possible. 
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that divorce serves a purpose.  I believe that divorce should be available to individuals in dangerous and toxic marriages.  Staying in an unhealthy marriage for the sake of the kids is never the right reason, but this doesn’t mean that couples in unhealthy marriages can’t work out their issues.  There are married couples who bail on their marriage too soon and it’s difficult to believe that the majority of divorces are justified.  Especially since our government has made it so easy for couples to divorce.  I feel divorce has become all too common in our society.  It’s becoming increasingly popular for couples to call it quits and broken homes are becoming the norm for many families.  What’s even more saddening is that many divorces are later regretted by individuals and that these dissolved unions might have been restored.  Dr. William H. Doherty found,“… that a significant number of divorced individuals—maybe about half—report to researchers that they wished they or their ex-spouse had tried harder to work through their differences.”  This supports the idea that HOPE applied to marriage can keep it alive and strengthen it over time.
Unhappy married individuals don’t have to settle for an unhappy marriage, nor do they need to resort to divorce.  There is HOPE for these struggling married couples!
If you’re feeling like you’re headed for the door, then seek help.  Help is out there and readily available.  Don’t wait until you feel ready, instead act now.  You may never feel ready, especially if you’ve got a negative attitude or are waiting on your spouse.  Take the initiative and start today! 
If you’ve fallen out of love:
Falling out of love doesn’t happen over night; it’s something that happens over time, so don’t wait until problems show up and work on your marriage daily.  Take some time to remember what made you fall for your spouse in the beginning and do the things that might recreate the attraction.  Go out on a date weekly to reconnect with your spouse.  Laugh together, smile at one another, hold hands, and kiss to get back to that loving feeling.  The lack of desire to do these things is not an excuse to avoid trying these repair attempts, so act now and think later.
If you’ve lost hope:
Believing your marriage is a lost cause is never helpful.  Remember that marriage unites two imperfect individuals, who invite the “bad” into the marriage. Marriage is about accepting the “good” with this perceived “bad”.  It is a commitment for life.  If you’re still living, then begin recommitting yourself to your spouse. 
Might I remind you that you once promised to stick it out, “… for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.”  When you’re feeling like right now is your future marriage is the time to rethink this low point in your marriage as temporary.  This will help you realize that your marriage is not lost! 
One of my favorite songs is called Restore.  It is a song about restoring struggling marriages and I believe it is the perfect message for couples everywhere, even though it targets Christian couples.  I think we all could use a little divine intervention in our lives.  This is especially true when it comes to our marriage.  Do not forget the power of prayer when it comes to softening your spouse’s heart or gaining strength.  Pray for your spouse as well as your marriage. 
Marriage is meant to last and though you may be experiencing the “bad” at the moment, remember that the “good” is still ahead.  When it gets bad enough that divorce seems like the only option, have a little HOPE.  Have HOPE that you and your spouse will get through the “bad” together and continue fighting for your marriage. 
You can have a better marriage, but it will take change on your part as well your spouse’s.  It will require a lot of teamwork and sacrifice, but the payoff will positively affect your marriage.  Have HOPE that things will get better!

*Please watch the following video clip and then complete the activity below with your spouse.
Fireproof clip (the back story is their marriage is on the rocks; the husband shows his wife there is HOPE)
1. Write down how you can recommit yourself to your spouse and your marriage.  Share this with your spouse.

2. Write about a time when things were “bad” in your marriage that turned “good”.  What was the process? (timeline the events leading up to the “bad” and “good”)
By Tawnya

It’s a Date!

Dating shouldn’t stop once we’re married.  We’ve all heard this before I’m sure.  That is why I encourage you to make a goal to go out on weekly dates; its good advice after all.  I’ve been trying to keep date night a priority in my own marriage and can definitely see its positive effects in my own marriage.  My husband and I just recently found out that we’re pregnant and so we definitely are attempting to take advantage of the free time we have as a couple right now.  Once children are in the picture date night can become more important, but also more difficult to pull off.  Though, I will leave that topic for a future blog devoted to married couples with children.

Let’s first define what will pass as a date.

A date in this case refers to a meeting time for married couples to have time away from others.  Time away from others can mean that you are staying in or going out.  If the kids are in bed and it’s just you and your spouse watching a movie downstairs I’d say that counts.  Other exceptions might include double or group dates, of course with equal partners present.  The main focus should remain your spouse and relationship during these dates.

Here are a few things  to keep in mind when planning a date:

Novel date activities and dinners are important.  According to an online book called The Date night Opportunity, “… research suggests that couples who engage in novel activities that are fun, active, or otherwise arousing—from hiking to dancing to travel to card games—enjoy higher levels of relationship quality” (Dew & Wilcox 2012).  When couples enter a routine life together a spontaneous date and new or innovative date activity can chuck the predictability of their relationships out of the window.  It can be easy to just go out to dinner and a movie every Friday night with the spouse.  This doesn’t necessarily cut it for many couples, who might find this usual and repeated date itinerary to be boring.  The best cure for this boring date night set up is to deviate from the normal or usual.  Instead go do sometime more active or interactive together, such as going on a hike, volunteering at a local shelter, seeing a comedy show or concert.

Over time the butterfly feelings we get when we see or are with our spouse may decline, but you can put the spark back in your marriage as you try new things and create new experiences with your spouse.  If you’re feeling like the passion and romance is gone, then rekindle the romance in your marriage this week with a fun and exciting date you both can agree on.

Also remember to take turns and choose activities or restaurants that each you and your spouse would like to try and do.  Maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to try; why not cross it off your list and share that experience with your spouse on a date.

Remember date night doesn’t have to break the bank and there are plenty of ideas out there for those on a budget.  If you’re in need of some ideas that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, try searching cheap date ideas online or on Pinterest.   With this being said, a lack of money is no excuse to avoid being creative when it comes to weekly date night.  Of course dates don’t necessarily need to be at night each week and in fact going out for breakfast or an early hike can be novel enough for couples.  If going out for lunch and an afternoon walk is out of norm for you and your spouse, then try it out for yourselves.

The consequence of not prioritizing weekly dates is that your marriage will feel the effects and your spouse will sense your lack of commitment.  This is why it is so important to make an effort to keep weekly dates happening each week.  Life is full of so many distractions and you can get busy very easily if you are not making time for quality time with your spouse.  Don’t let the busyness of life stop you from keeping date night alive after your married!

If you’re looking for an even bigger challenge, then I suggest taking quarterly getaways with your spouse.

For more information about The Date night Opportunity check out: 

*Please watch the following clip and then complete the activity below with your spouse:


1. List the best date you’ve ever been on.  (Try and keep it to the dates you’ve been on with your spouse)

2. List a dream date you would like to go on with your spouse.  (Please list and activity or a restaurant you’d like to try)

3. Plan a date for later this week to go on with your spouse.  Write it down on a piece of paper and then put it in a hat or bowl, along with your spouses.  Decide who will pull from the hat and then pull one of the pieces of paper out and make it happen by the end of the week.

By Tawnya

Friday, December 12, 2014

Married Life: Dating with Children

Life is busy enough without throwing dependent children into the mix.  Weekly date night can be difficult for married couples in general, but the task can prove even more difficult when you have children.  Though, it should be one of your highest priorities to spend some alone time with your spouse.  Now date night doesn’t have to be something extravagant every week, but it also shouldn’t remain a last minute thing where you end up doing dinner and a movie week after week.
Remember that weekly date night is encouraged, though don’t punish yourselves if you miss a week every once and a while.  It’s also okay to spend a night in every once in a while; maybe the babysitter canceled and so once the kids are in bed you have a movie night date with your spouse.  Date night doesn’t necessarily mean that dates need to occur at night, because you control when they happen.  If you choose to go on a morning hike and go out for breakfast with your spouse, then that counts as your weekly date.

The main goal is to spend time away from the kids and quality time together, as husband and wife.  The second goal is to do novel things with one another.  This means don’t do the same thing each week, because that can get boring; you should deviate from the normal or usual often.  So go out and do sometime more active or interactive together, such as hiking, volunteering at a local shelter, seeing a comedy show, or attending a concert. 
Novel date activities and dinners are important.  According to an online book called The Date night Opportunity, “… research suggests that couples who engage in novel activities that are fun, active, or otherwise arousing—from hiking to dancing to travel to card games—enjoy higher levels of relationship quality” (Dew & Wilcox 2012).  When couples enter a routine life together a spontaneous date and new or innovative date activity can chuck the predictability of their relationships out of the window.  Seeing your spouse have fun, smile, and laugh may just be what it takes to bring that spark back to your marriage. 

Take turns eating and doing what your spouse wants.  Dates shouldn’t be his or her sole responsibility, but should become both your responsibility.  Going out on a date every week is a lot of responsibility, especially for one person.  It can be overwhelming to feel the pressure of making sure that your spouse is having fun, because you’re the only one in charge of planning.  Share the responsibility of planning a weekly date with your spouse.  After all you should both have a say in what you do and experience what your spouse enjoys.
Are you still not convinced about the importance of continuing to date your spouse after marriage?  Then listen up!
The Date night Opportunity has provided the answer as to why, “… the experience of becoming a parent can undercut or diminish the quality of married life”.  Though, it is normal for couples to spend less time together after having children, what if these additional demands of your time as a parent didn’t have to affect your marital satisfaction?  The Date night Opportunity has found, “… that new parents who did not reduce their couple time together after the arrival of a baby were markedly less likely to experience a decline in marital quality”.  This is also why it is so important for married couples, especially those with children, to make weekly date night a priority.  Avoiding doing so will likely slowly over time harm your marriage.  Don’t allow couple time or dating after marriage and children to become a thing of the past.
Remember that the time you spend with your spouse will spill into your relationships with your children.  Your children will be blessed as you make and take the time to go on weekly dates.  Too many parents believe that the more time they spend on their children the better off they will be.  This isn’t so, if parents are not making their marriage a priority.  Weekly dates with your spouse is one of the best ways to make your marriage a priority, so an even better incentive to continue to date your spouse.
Parenthood isn’t easy and neither is marriage, but both are manageable if couples continually bring the focus back to their relationship.  Life may be full of distractions, but it’s up to you to prioritize your spouse.  Don’t let the busyness of parenthood stop you from keeping date night alive in your marriage!

*For more information about The Date night Opportunity check out:
Please watch the following video clip and then complete the activity below with your spouse:


1. List your current priorities in life in order of importance to least importance.  Go over your list with your spouse.  Then discuss and make any changes, if needed.

2. Write down your dream date with your spouse, and then share what you wrote with your spouse.

3. Together plan your next date for this week.  If you need help then try cheap date ideas.

By Tawnya

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Team: Husband & Wife

We’ve all been on a team at one point in our life or another.  Remember back to that time.  What made your team effective or ineffective?  These same principles apply to healthy and effective marriages.

Each marriage team equates to one husband and one wife.  Marriage after all is about the two of us, three if you included God.  I highly recommend that you include God in your marriage.  Developing and maintaining a relationship with God will help you treat your spouse the way you promised to treat them on your wedding day.  If you keep communication open with God, then he will bless you with comfort and strength; both are needed if you want to have a lasting marriage.

Aside from our relationship with God we as married women and men have our relationship with our spouse to develop and maintain.  This requires that we, as husband and wife, make our decisions as a team, working together rather than against one another.  If the decision affects more than just you, then ask yourself what will help ‘our’ marriage, not me individually. 

You’re a team, right?  You both have to make individual contributions in order for the team to win.  You have to split your shared responsibilities equally for that winning marriage you’ve always dreamed of.  The division of relationship needs, household chores, childcare, and workplace responsibilities need to be satisfactory to both husband and wife.

Your marriage goals should also be satisfactory to the team and be defined together, so that you both are reaching for the same thing.  There are often times that I feel like I’m giving my all to my marriage, but don’t feel like my efforts are being reciprocated.  I’m so wrapped up in what I think our marriage needs that I don’t even consider involving my husband in what I’m doing.  This one sided thought process hasn’t ever done me any good.  It only reminds me that I need to ask my husband what he needs from me, so that I can feel like I’m making a difference.

You make a difference the most when you support your spouse during their time of need.  Your spousal support can make the biggest impact when your spouse feels like you’ve got their back when they’re feeling like it’s them against the world.  It is your responsibility as their spouse to believe in them and help them fulfill their good desires and dreams. 

You also make a difference just being you, since you as husband and wife complement one another.  Your individual and gender differences bless your marriage. Like with any team, its teammates are unique and have different strengths and fulfill different responsibilities.  For example, my husband is calmer than me and he is highly educated.  His strengths allow him to comfort me and calm my nerves when I’m stressing out and be the breadwinner for our future family.  I, on the other hand, am financially savvy and naturally good with little children.  This makes it easy to stick to our budget and hopefully be a good fit as a stay at home mother someday.

Team up with your spouse the next time you’re tempted to go at it alone.  Remember that you’re in this thing together and that your level of commitment can either strengthen or damage your marriage.  Choose your team over your selfish desires each and every time.  If you include teamwork in your marriage, then you can overcome life’s challenges together.

*Please watch the following short-video clip and then complete the activity below with your spouse:


1. How do you and your spouse work as a team in resolving conflicts?
2. What sports team would you say describes your marriage? And why?

By Tawnya

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Our Love Languages

Do you ever feel like the love you show your spouse goes unnoticed?  Have you ever wondered why your spouse didn’t make such a BIG deal about what you did for them?  I have experienced this feeling of confusion and frustration a time or two.

Why might I or YOU feel this way after our attempts to shower our spouses with love fail us?  I believe it’s due to speaking one’s own love language and not the spouses love language.  If you’ve ever read Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages, then you know what I’m talking about.

For those of you, who may not understand, let me explain what love languages are.  The five love languages consist of physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation.  We all feel loved when our spouse speaks our primary love language from the above list.  Though, we naturally speak our primary love language and may assume that our love language will be well received in the same way by our spouse.  This isn’t always the case and more times than not our spouse has a different primary love language.  These differences in primary love languages can cause feelings of rejection and frustration if not brought to both spouses awareness.  This is why it is so important to figure out your spouse’s and your primary love language and to communicate it to your spouse.  Simply doing these two things will help us avoid feeling like we can’t do anything right by our spouse and feeling loved ourselves. 

I remember taking the quiz at the end of The 5 Love Languages and finding out that I my primary love language was quality time.  It made sense, since I felt closer to my friends when we hung out often and felt distant from them when we didn’t hangout often.  I felt loved by friends and family, who I spent the most time with.  After finishing the book I tried guessing others primary love language(s).  I guessed that my boyfriend’s, now husband, was physical touch because he was super affectionate and always finding ways to touch me.  Though, he claimed that his primary love language is quality time as well.  I’m still not fully convinced and think that he is tied between quality time and physical touch.  I feel pretty blessed though, because we do share the same primary love language.

The fact that we share the same primary love language is pretty great.  After all we naturally speak our primary love language to others we love.  It’s been pretty easy for the most part to make one another feel loved, because we both want to spend time with one another and be together. 

Other married couples may experience problems here, assuming they speak different primary love languages.  If they are unfamiliar with speaking their spouses primary love language, then they may run into some conflict.  They may be speaking their love language to their spouse and feeling like it’s enough.  When in reality it isn’t and they need to meet their spouses primary love language before their language will ever be well received.  Don’t give up if you are not accustomed to their language and instead be willing to learn.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m fairly sure his claimed primary love language, quality time, is tied with physical touch.  He seriously will come hug me while I’m doing dishes or brushing my teeth and often asks me if I want a hug, so I know he’s a hugger.  I wouldn’t call myself an affectionate person and so I have had stretch myself a little to meet his need for touch.  In the beginning of our relationship I had to constantly remind myself to initiate hand holding, kisses, hugs, and back scratches while we were together.  Now that we’ve been married almost a year it’s become more natural for me to do these things and they are slowly becoming like second nature to me.  This is why it is so important to remember that we can learn love languages that are not our primary love language.

All it takes to figure out your or your spouse’s primary love language is taking the quiz at the end of The 5 Love Languages, observing how you show love toward your spouse, and paying attention to what you request from your spouse or complain to your spouse about.  If you enjoy doing things for your spouse and asking your spouse for a little help around the house or even complaining about them not helping out enough, then maybe your love language is Acts of service.
What makes us feel loved by others?

Physical touch
Are you a hugger?  Do you enjoy holding hands, kissing, hugging, or cuddling with your spouse?  Do you like giving and getting back rubs or like getting your back scratched?  Maybe you like giving your favorite nephew nugies or high fiving all your colleagues

Quality time
Do you have fun spending time with your spouse?  Are you someone who enjoys wholesome recreational activities with the spouse?  Do you like having romantic or quiet dinners you’re your spouse?  Or do you make the time for loved ones?

Receiving gifts
Can you hardly wait for your birthday to come?  Is it because of the presents?  Do you love receiving roses or chocolates on date night?  Are you excited by small or thoughtful gifts from family and friends?  Do you enjoy showering others with gifts?

Acts of service
Do you tend to do your spouse’s regular chores to show your appreciation?  Do you believe that people should show loved one’s they love them rather than just tell them?  Are you someone who appreciates your spouse taking on your usual tasks or errands?

Words of affirmation
Are you a firm believer that people should go beyond actions and say, “I love you” to those they love?  Do you enjoy hearing or even giving compliments?  Do you love receiving ‘love notes’ from your spouse?

Your answers to these questions reveal a lot about you and may just help you uncovered what your primary love language is.  Once you find out which one it is make sure to pass this information on to your spouse.  With communication it is always better to hear requests rather than complaints, so make your primary love language known to your spouse.

If your spouse isn’t a big reader or willing to take the love languages quiz, then observe and listen to them so that you can use the process of elimination to figure them out.  Once you figure out their primary love language, let them know what it is.  They may agree or they may disagree and of course reveal what they feel it really is.

Remember that your marriage is worth the effort of discovering your spouses and your primary love language.  When you speak your spouse’s primary love language or love languages you are making them feel loved.  Feeling loved increases an individual’s marital happiness, with furthers their ability to spread the love.  If you keep your spouse’s needs above your own, then you likely have your own needs met by their increased ability to give back.

*For more information check out

Please watch the video below and then do the activity below, with your spouse:

  • The 5 Love Languages in Action

1st: Guess your spouse’s primary love language.  Write down your guess.
2nd: Identify your own primary love language and then tell your spouse what it is.
3rd: Share with your spouse what you guessed was their primary love language.

By Tawnya

Friday, November 14, 2014

Do It to Please Not to Avoid Conflict

The number one rule is: Always do something to please your spouse; never do something to avoid your spouse’s wrath.  There’s a reason behind everything that we do.  There’s a thought to every behavior or action.  We should make sure that our priority remains trying to please our spouse and not because we want to avoid upsetting our spouse.

Some might say that it doesn’t matter why you do something; it matters more that you did it.  I disagree and I will tell you why. 

Growing up did you ever get into fights with your siblings or friends?  Suppose that you got in a fight with your with a kid from the neighborhood.  Your mom catches you and stops the fight.  She then tells you both that you need to apologize to one another.  You are sorry for hitting him, so you force out the words, “I’m sorry.”  The other kid on the other hand isn’t sorry for starting the fight and quickly says, “I’m sorry”, so he can go home.  Do you feel like he’s sorry?

I don’t feel like this kid is sorry and so to me his insincere ‘sorry’ is useless and void; he might as well just said the truth, “I’m not sorry.”  The reason I have such an issue with this is because the kid didn’t say it for the right reasons.

This is similar to the situation of a husband taking out the trash because he doesn’t want to hear his wife complain about how lazy he is; he took out the trash to avoid his wife’s criticism.  Why is this an issue?  He did a good thing, right?

Yes, taking out the trash is a good thing, but the reason behind his action is where the problem lies.  Resentments can build up if we do ‘good things’ to avoid negative consequences.  This is destructive to marriages and therefore should be avoided.

How can this husband change?  The husband in the future should change his thinking and intentions.  He should think, “Hey, my wife likes it when I take out the trash.  I think I will take out the trash to make her happy.”  This way his thought is to please and not to avoid a negative situation.  You will be building up your marriage as you continue to keep this positive attitude regarding what you do for your spouse.

Now ask yourself, “Do I want to build up my marriage or tear it down?”  Your answer will influence the way you handle your future thoughts regarding your future actions.

Watch the video below and then do the activity after:

(Pay attention to his actions and words; the ending isn’t necessarily important)

(Vince Vaughn’s character demonstrates what NOT to do)


Reflect on why you do things for your spouse?  Do you do them to ‘please’ or to ‘avoid’?

By Tawnya

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Our Money

One of the largest and most common arguments in marriage is about money.  The biggest of these money disagreements among married couples is the spending of the money.  Money has even been labeled as one of the top causes for divorce among couples.  This is why it is important for couples to have serious discussions about their finances prior to marriage and especially at the beginning of their marriage.  These discussions should place importance on preparing for, preventing, and managing the money conflicts that the couple can expect to arise.

Please keep in mind that it’s normal for married individuals to want to use their money for different things than their spouse.  After all a marriage consists of two separate individuals, with different views of money, which can cause conflict.  Maybe one spouse is a BIG spender and the other is a saver.  These conflicting spending styles can cause issues in the couple’s marriage, if they do not compromise and make necessary changes to their spending habits.

Remember that the ideal for couples is to protect their marriage from divorce by coming to an agreement on who will pay the bills, be the main bread winner, and how much they will send & save.  Though the reality for many couples is often the opposite where these individuals downplay their differences when it comes to money or don’t talk about their combined finances at all.  This can prove to be unwise for couples once they marry and are forced to manage their money, together.

Don’t let this conflict interfere with your marriage!  Protect yourselves and your marriage by doing the following:

Do it together.  Both spouses should be aware of where the money is going.  They should come to an agreement on how much they will spend and on what they will spend their money on.  Married couples should also agree on how much they will save and how to save their money.  It is okay to designate one spouse as the payer of the bills, but both spouses should be in agreement on who this is.  Finances should be an open discussion among married couples.  There should never exist any secret accounts or expenses; this can only lead to hurt and anger. 

Budget together.  Both husband and wife should sit down together and list all their expenses, so that each knows where the money is going.  Both should agree on the amount they are spending on each expense.  They should agree on the amount for each expense and which expenses remain in the budget.  Add a column for savings as well to your budget.

Together spend less than you make.  Regardless of who is the main bread winner or if both spouses work, they should not spend more than they make combined.  So many people today live off of credit cards, but this is foolish.  Married couples should avoid spending more than they have, no matter what.  Of course this doesn’t include a house and maybe even a vehicle, but these should still be modest purchases.  Most people take the max loan they can get approved for and buy their dream house with it.  These people also buy their dream car with all the bells and whistles using a high interest loan.  Neither an expensive home or vehicle is necessary; couples are better off learning from others examples.  An expensive home or vehicle doesn’t mean much if the couple is still paying it off past a reasonable amount of time.

Save together.  If married couples put away a little money each month, then they are headed in the right direction.  Saving for a rainy day is one of the smartest things couples can do.  No one can predict the future, so it’s always a good idea to prepare for the unknown. 

Money doesn't have to be an issue in marriages, but it is how married couples handle their money together that will determine whether or not money becomes an issue.

Please watch the videos below and complete the activity below, with your spouse:

·         Oprah sad story
(I think this is something we all need to hear.  It’s important to remain honest with our spouse about our purchases and avoid purchases that we cannot afford)

·         The newlyweds money advice
(I didn’t mention joint accounts or the trust that develops as we are able to view each other’s spending, but I feel both are important)


1. If you do not already have a budget, then please take this time to create one.  For budgeting help, just CLICK here.

2. Discuss with your spouse how you, as a couple, can protect your marriage from the potential damage of money conflicts.

By Tawnya

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Married Couples List: Ways to Reduce Stress

 We experience stress daily.  Stress may result from school, work, relationships, or children, but there are ways to deal with stress as it enters our daily lives.  Managing stress doesn’t have to be an individual thing and would be easier done with some support. 

Marriage is about supporting one another, right?  What better support than that of a spouse.  If you notice you or your spouse is stressing then try some of the activities below.  Remember you want to do these things together.

Exercise.  The endorphin release after a workout is the perfect solution for your problematic stress load.

Go on a walk.  Getting outside and taking in some fresh air can have a calming effect.  This light form of exercise will help you both escape from your minds momentarily as you begin to notice nature.

Take the dog on a walk or to the dog park.  Dogs are always so glad to see you, no matter how long you’ve been away.  Can you even think of a time when your dog didn’t put a smile on your face?

Do some light yoga.  Try out the eagle pose, which is known to help relieve tension in the body.

Take deep breaths.  Close your eyes and count to three as you inhale and exhale three times each.

Try aromatherapy.  Bring out the essential oils, put a little in a carrier oil, and apply the mixed oils on each other.  Remember to use caution when applying these oils responsibly, due to their effects.

Watch a comedy.  Turn on the TV to watch one of your favorite sitcoms or movies and enjoy a laugh … or two.

Watch a funny video that’s gone viral. When you don’t have time to watch a movie or a TV show you can improvise by watching a short video clip on YouTube.

Give each other a neck or foot rub.  Slowing down to give and receive massage can be great way to relieve stress in the body.

Give each other a bear hug.  Hugs from loved ones have the effect of making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside; who doesn’t like this feeling?  A hug may even decrease stress levels and blood pressure.

Write about it.  Just getting it out there and off your chest can do wonders for someone under a lot of stress.  In some ways it can be therapeutic to write down what is bothering you and allows you to reflect on the stressful situation.  Share with you spouse what you wrote about.

Read your scriptures.  Whatever you faith, pick up your holy book and take turns reading aloud to one another.

Have a make out session.  Kissing releases chemicals that fight stress hormones in both men and women, though effects are higher in men.  Kissing is also a way for husbands to transfer testosterone in their saliva to their wives, which could lead to the next activity.

Have sex.  If one spouse is in the mood and the other is feeling up to it, then why not allow the endorphin release after sex help you feel less stressed.

Have a chewing gum war.  Chewing gum helps reduce cortisol levels, which are the result of stress and can cause weight gain.  Who knew you could prevent weight gain and stress with a piece of gum?

Try mindful eating.  This might be a different experience for many of you, but it will definitely pull you out of your head long enough to really enjoy what you are eating.  Notice the details about your food before you take your first bite, including: color, texture, smell.  Next take your first bite and notice how it feels in your mouth, then start chewing.  Chew slowly as you take into account its flavor and aroma and lastly swallow.  Continue slowly eating your food and together discuss what you’ve notice.

Buy a house plant.  Being around plants may cause a relaxation response in individuals.  Maybe it’s because plants remind us of nature and being out in nature tends to be relaxing for many individuals. 

Take a nap.  Sleep allows your body to combat cortisol, the stress hormone.  When you feel like you’re tired during the middle of the day cuddle up to your spouse and get some zzzz’s in.

            Maybe, you haven’t done some of the above activities yet or at least not with your spouse.  Doing novel things with your spouse may increase your love and marital satisfaction.  That is reason enough to try doing these activities together in my book.

-Couples Activity:

1. Choose one of the activities from the above list and complete this activity with your spouse.

2. Tell each other about the effects or changes you noticed after completing this activity.

By Tawnya

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Infertility: Dealing with the Loss of a Pregnancy

Children are blessings.  We hear this saying all the time, so what does infertility, a miscarriage or the loss of a child mean?  Are these curses?  No, of course not!  Miscarriages are not meant to be punishments.  I don’t believe infertile individuals and couples are cursed; they are definitely not cursed because they have miscarried.  Today, we now know that miscarriages occur due to biological reasons.

            Though, I can understand how feelings of helplessness and hopelessness could lead someone to believe they are cursed because they can’t carry a pregnancy to term.  I can also understand why people are changed by a miscarriage, especially those dealing with infertility.

            Miscarrying after experiencing the illusion of becoming parents is extremely difficult for infertile couples.  When fertility treatments do their job it can seem unfair to end up losing the baby in the end.  Experiencing a miscarriage or miscarriages can cause grief and pain, along with feelings of bitterness and anger.

Couples, who miscarry, often experience the five stages of grief, which include: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  It is typical for one spouse to experience these stages at higher levels than the other.  Typically this is the wife, but not always.  It is important that couples support one another as they journey through their shared grief.  If you are the stronger spouse during this time, then prepare yourself to catch your spouse when they fall.  You are stronger collectively than individually, so grieve together, not alone.

Watch for marital conflict or emotional withdrawal.  A miscarriage is an experience that changes individuals and couples.  Be aware of any changes in yourself and your spouse that might create conflict or distance you from one another.  Miscarriage often times can lead individuals to pull away from their spouse.  Don’t allow this to happen to you and if it does take the necessary steps to stop it from affecting your marriage.  To avoid feeling more distant from one another try grieving together or supporting your spouse, who may be experiencing these feelings to a greater degree than you?  Engage in mutual sharing of feelings to help create intimacy and help reduce intensity and reverse the negative effects of these feelings.

Allow your body to rest for a while after a miscarriage.  Your body needs time to heal from such an event.  It’s okay to wait a while, at least until your period returns, to start fertility treatments or decide what your next step will be.  Husbands can be supportive by thinking of relaxing and restful activities to do with their wives as they heal.  Together, you could give and receive neck or foot rubs, do light yoga, go on a walk, or even take a nap.

Eat a healthy diet, especially after a miscarriage.  Miscarriage places many demands on the body that require the right nutrition.  Consult your physician as needed concerning your diet, risk of infection, and supporting your uterus and liver.  Husbands can also be supportive of their wives healthy lifestyle choice by eating healthier with their wives.

            Seek assistance from your fertility clinic.  Husbands can be supportive by accompany their wives to the doctor’s appointment when finding out the reason behind the miscarriage and to receive immediate testing.  If you’re worried about your miscarriage affecting your chances of conceiving, then get a professional opinion on the matter.  Your doctor can be a great support, who can inform and educate you on your health concerns.  Remember your fertility doctor is there to help prepare you for your next step, whatever it may be.

Tap into faith.  Pray when you feel weak, because there is strength in God.  Together, pray for peace and to be strengthened as a couple to handle what you are experiencing.  Practice faith in His healing power, so that you may move forward.  Move forward with your life knowing that God created you with the ability to cope, because he knew what you would face in your lifetime.  YOU possess the ability to get through this painful experience; that is proof of His love.  He equipped you before your miscarriage to cope with the pain and stress it would cause, knowing that coping through this crisis would make you stronger. 

Life after a miscarriage will likely never be the same for couples, especially those already experiencing infertility issues.  This difference in life can be a positive one, if these couples take conscious steps to help this tragedy create intimacy rather than conflict in their marriage.  Remember that you are not cursed and that hope exists.

-Please watch the following videos and answer the questions below with your spouse:

What to expect when you’re expecting: Rosie’s miscarriage

Beyonces miscarriage story

1. Write about your experience with a miscarriage. Be sure to include how you’ve adapted and adjusted so far.  

2. Now write about what you learned from this experience. (This may not come to mind immediately; ponder what you gained from your crisis)

By Tawnya

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Challenges Couples Face When Dealing with Infertility

Infertility, just like any other challenge, has the ability to pull couples apart.  It also has the ability to draw couples together and strengthen marriages.  The decision to lean toward independence or dependence is up to the individuals involved.  There are common challenges among couples dealing with infertility, but there are ways to overcome them.

1. Having to listen to insensitive comments or unsolicited advice

Individuals and couples dealing with infertility are sometimes asked to personal of questions by family, friends, or even strangers.  For example, someone might ask you if you or your spouse is the one who is infertile.  They might assume you don’t know what you’re doing or that you’re doing something wrong.  You may be told to just relax and not think about it or reassured that it will happen when it’s meant to happen. 

To draw closer to one another: Realize that most people are well meaning in their advice or comments.  Meaning is always in the person and not the word, right?  We all take things differently and it’s important to let these things go.  Though, there words might not bring comfort to you try and remember that they most likely said it because they care and want to support you.  When you need to or feel like it open up to your spouse and listen to them.  Don’t allow yourself or your spouse to believe any insensitive comments or advice concerning your fertility.

2. Finances involved with infertility

Treating infertility isn’t cheap.  In fact for many couples it is the difference between saving for the future and spending their money for a chance to become parents.  Some insurance plan cover infertility treatment, but this coverage varies among policies and is often not enough to cover all expenses or treatments.  The out of pocket expenses or not covered treatments can lead to fights or resentments if spouses disagree on cost effectiveness or either is pressured to go through with costly treatments.

To draw closer to one another: Talk about what your individual goals are for “your” money.  Don’t assume that your spouse wants the same things you do and discuss these differences.  Come to an agreement on what you both are willing to spend in order to become mother and father, along with what treatments or procedures you are willing to endure.

3. The possibility of fertility treatments failing or the possibility of never having children

Infertility can be treated and many times fertility treatments are successful.  Couples get pregnant with the help of fertility treatments all the time, but these successful cases don’t necessarily mean that you will have the same results with treatments.  Nor do unsuccessful cases affect your chances of getting pregnant.  Infertility is different for each couple and it may even take several treatments or cycles for a couple to conceive.  In other cases couples may go through several treatments or cycles without success or stop treatments due to the physical and psychological toll.  This can lead to feelings of hopelessness or helplessness and may even cause issues in the bedroom.

To draw closer to one another: Decide together when to end treatment or express when you need to take a break to your spouse.  If you feel like you have reached your limit regarding treatments, then decide with your spouse how you will move forward.  Specifically, determine whether you will pursue adoption or accept that you will be childless.  Also, don’t allow infertility to create intimacy issues.  Share your true feelings with your spouse.  View sex beyond procreation and understand that its purpose goes beyond this single goal; it bonds couples and strengthens marriages, so don’t let fertility issues stop you from expressing your love to your spouse.  Seek counseling when you feel like you need professional help dealing with these issues.

4. Feeling left out or lonely because your friends and family already have children

            You might feel isolated as you compare yourself to all of your family and friends who are parents.  It’s a lonely feeling not having someone in your daily life that can relate to what you’re going through.  Reproductive issues are not commonly brought up or put out in the open for everyone to see.  It is a personal matter and in many cases it may stay private due to an individual or couple feeling ashamed and embarrassed or fearing of judgment. 

            Though I think it’s safe advice, at least here in the U.S., to get rid of any fear of being judged by others and to avoid feeling ashamed about an issue that is not your fault.  I hope you feel safe enough to share your struggle(s) with those closest to you and even in situations you feel comfortable telling others.  They may not always know exactly what you’re going through, but at least they will understand why you might skip a family function every now and then.  You may find that joining an online support group removes this isolation, so go try it out if you’ve thought about it.

To draw closer to one another: Tell your spouse when you experience feelings of loneliness or shame.  Comfort and listen to your spouse when they confide in you.  Avoid comparing yourself to others and instead focus on the future.  Live your life!  If you don’t feel up to attending a family gathering or your friend’s baby shower, because it’s too much that day, then don’t.  Explain to family and friends, if needed, your reason behind skipping out occasionally.

5. The side effects of fertility treatment drugs, hormones, and injectables. 

Fertility medications have been known to cause irritability, mood swings, sleeping interruptions, depression, mania, thinking problems, and anxiety.  Though, it is sometimes difficult to identify the true cause of these psychological reactions when dealing with infertility and fertility treatments. 

To draw closer to one another: Practice forgiveness in your marriage, especially during treatments.  Be understanding and considerate when you notice that your spouse might be on edge or getting upset.  Communicate when you’re feeling like you’re no longer in control or grumpy for no reason.  This sometimes helps the forgiveness process, as well as dealing with the side effects.  Breathe deeply and practice other relaxing techniques to help conquer these unwelcomed emotions. 

6. The emotional cost to individuals and couples. 

Infertility often is an individual diagnosis, but it affects the entire couple.  One spouse may be affected by the fertility problem more than the other, but together they bear this burden.  The hardship of not being able to bear children or not being able to carry a baby to full term takes a toll on its survivors.  The roller coaster of emotions comes with episodes of depression and anxiety. 

To draw closer to one another: If you’re experiencing these trying emotions, then lean on your supportive spouse, who can acts as the temporary strength through these trying times.  Get comfortable feeling vulnerable with your spouse.  They are not there to judge you; they are there to help you through life’s challenges.

            It can be challenging to desire parenthood, but be unable to have children naturally.  Remember that there is help out there and the options go beyond what you realize.  It may take time to overcome the challenges that come with infertility, but together you and your spouse can draw closer together.

By Tawnya

Monday, October 20, 2014

For Couples Dealing with Fertility Treatment Stress

Dealing with infertility is stressful enough, but adding fertility treatments to the situation only increases a couple’s amount of stress.  This is why it is so important for couples to be aware of what to expect as a result of receiving fertility treatments.

Fertility treatments may require that women or men take hormones to treat hormonal infertility.  Examples of hormonal imbalances that might lead to infertility problems include hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), luteal phase defect (low progesterone levels), and hyperprolactinemia (high male hormone levels).  Some of the injectable hormones used to treat infertility include Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), and Human Menopausal Gonadotropin (hMG).  Fertility treatments like these change hormone levels to help improve the odds of couples getting pregnant.

While hormone treatments may improve a couples chances of getting pregnant they also make the receiving individuals feel crazy at times and drive the spouse crazy other times.  So it is always a good idea to open up about the challenges you face while receiving fertility treatments.

Let your spouse know how you are feeling, maybe even others that are close to you, to create an understanding of why you might be snapping at them.  It’s always easier to forgive someone if you know that they are not necessarily in total control over their body and mind at the time.

Ask your doctor about what your chosen fertility treatment means for you.  Find out what you will likely experience during treatment.  Knowing what treatment cycles are typically like will prepare you for the road ahead of you.  You will no longer have to wonder why you agitated one moment, happy the next, and then feeling anxious a couple minutes later.  Maybe you’ve heard it before but having knowledge truly is power and helps for peace of mind, especially when your hormones are influencing your emotions.

Avoid putting yourself in situations that might already push you to your limits.  For example, don’t volunteer to have Thanksgiving dinner at your house during treatment, if you know it stressed you out last year when you weren’t receiving treatment.  Concerning stressful meetings just ask to postpone and reschedule them at a time when you are between or after treatment cycles.  This isn’t always possible, so when you are unable to deal with these situations later remember to keep breathing deeply to combat the stress.

Don’t dwell on the negative thoughts and instead seek out support during these times.  You may feel happy one moment and sad the next while receiving fertility treatments.  This is normal and to be expected.  What you’re dealing with is never your only option, so keep in mind that there are always other options out there for you.  You might not be aware of them yet, but if this route fails remember that there is another waiting for you.

Take care.  The stress levels will fluctuate during treatment cycles.  On the days that stress levels are highest schedule some YOU time.  Maybe go grab some frozen yogurt at your favorite place or make an appointment for a relaxing massage after a procedure.  Try to manage your stress with little breaks away from your “to do list” for the day.  Take care of your emotional health during treatments and give yourself the time you need to escape from your worries or enjoy something you like.

Seek out ways to lower your anxiety and stress levels with a little help from friends, your faith, counseling, online support groups, or your spouse.  Lowering your stress levels will keep you healthier and happier during this already stressful time in your life.

Don’t allow your fertility problems as a couple stop you from date night.  You will be main supports to one another during this difficult process, so don’t forget your relationship.  Do something fun together each week to strengthen your bond and draw closer to one another.  Life isn't meant to be all stress; it is meant to be lived.  Live a little and recharge your batteries with a dose of miniature golf and dinner or whatever you both enjoy.  After all you want to have a child with your spouse and not on your own.  Remember to avoid neglecting your relationship; instead continue to pay attention to your marriage as you experience this path to parenthood together.

            It may become difficult to function at times during treatments, but you decide how you will manage under all the stress.

- Watch the video below and then answer the questions below with your spouse:

A story with a happy ending

Are you as focused on your marriage as you are on getting pregnant?  If not, what is one thing you could do differently or start doing to help strengthen your marriage as you try to get pregnant?

By Tawnya

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Coping with Infertility

People often get married so that they can start having children.  It sounds like the perfect plan.  Providing a stable relationship for a future child helps provides a safe and healthy environment every child deserves.  Though, things don’t always go according to plan.  Sometimes we can want something, but not get it or at least not get it how or when we expected it.  Infertility often falls under this common reality for couples who want children, but cannot conceive. 

            Infertility is becoming increasingly more common among married couples.  Especially, since more and more people are putting off marriage and delaying having children.  How do couples cope with an emotional roller coaster ride like infertility?

            It can be difficult to deal with the uncertainty of getting pregnant.  It is important to be realistic in your expectations.  If you expect things to work out the first time or even the first months of trying, then you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.  At the same time if you don’t remain hopeful then you may stop trying or even allow it to weaken your marriage.  Yet couples continually endure this trial without letting it destroy their life or their marriage.  So what are these couples doing right?

Most importantly don’t blame yourself or your spouse for the fertility problem.  Avoid thinking negatively of your spouse and yourself.  Accept that it isn't yours or their fault and focus on ways to improve your chances of conceiving.

Seek support.  I consider having a support system a necessity for life in general.  You never know what life has in store for you.  With life come trials, in all shapes and sizes, and all too often we find out that we are never prepared enough for them.  These are times when family and friends come in handy to help us get through them.  You could also seek out online communities, which offer infertility support groups.  And most importantly rely on your spouse and seek their comfort as needed.  Don’t let this personal struggle push you further from the one person you are meant to cling to.

Share your burden with your spouse and maybe even someone else you can talk to.  It may feel like it’s your burden to bear alone, but this feeling would be a lie.   Avoiding telling others, especially your spouse, about what you are experiencing is a recipe for disaster.  Rather than turn you toward one another, keeping your real feelings and thoughts hidden from your spouse will slowly push you further apart.  So don’t hide your struggles.  I’m not saying to go tell the whole world, but you shouldn’t feel that it needs to be kept a secret.  You should feel free to talk about the issue with family and friends who you are comfortable discussing this issue with.  It isn’t until you open up to others that you discover they’ve had similar experiences.  With infertility issue becoming more common you may find out that your friend had complications conceiving their little one too.

Determine how much you are willing to spend trying to conceive or if you are willing to adopt.  Also, agree on what you are willing to go through in order to get pregnant.  Setting limits can prevent you from regretting the cost or suffering you endured from fertility treatments.

Get rid of frustrations.  Infertility comes with many disappointments and may even make some individuals and couples angry at times.  Don’t let these feelings discourage you from moving forward in life or thinking of alternatives options for your particular situation.   You can combat these reoccurring or constant frustrations with massage, exercise, yoga, or a hobby.  Managing frustrations will prevent them from turning into stress, which is the last thing you need.  Stress will only work against you when it comes to fertility, so start a habit of relieving stress.  Ultimately, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Educate yourself on the issue.  The more you know about infertility and the options for those who suffer from infertility issues the better off you’ll be.  There is hope out there, as well as help.  Seek out this information, so that you can take advantage of the current and most up to date options that exist. 

Involve God in your struggle.  It is faith in God that enables individuals and couples to face adversity with a willingness to learn from the experience.  Faith can be a powerful thing when you’re struggling.  It can take us from a place of weakness to a place of strength.  It may be difficult to continue hoping and praying for a miracle, but it is important to remember God’s timing.  We need to trust in His timing and ask for the strength to endure the trial when we feel abandoned.  Remember that you are never alone.

By Tawnya

Handling Conflict Effectively in Your Marriage

With marriage comes conflict.  No two persons are alike and this is a good thing.  You might otherwise find your marriage rather boring than the growing experience it is meant to be.  If you think of conflict as an opportunity, then you will more easily enjoy its benefits.

First, define what you want from conflict that will arise, along with what you don’t want.  For me, I do not want conflict to slowly destroy my marriage; I want conflict to help us become aware of any problems, change our bad habits, understand one another, clarify our goals, and ultimately grow together, as well as individually.  Keeping your goals in mind during conflicts will allow you to see more clearly and act intentionally, instead of just reacting.  I have noticed in my own marriage that as I remember my main goal, “to strengthen my marriage”, that I am calmer during our disagreements.

            Conflict management also requires that the appropriate communication style be identified for the situation.  This could include: avoiding, obliging, compromising, or collaborating.  You will only want to avoid a conflict if you don’t care about the issue.  You oblige when it is more important to give up what you want for what your spouse wants or again you don’t care about the decision.  You compromise when you cannot come to an agreement, but instead give a little to get a little.  My favorite is to collaborate because it is win-win, but it definitely requires some creativity to come up with a solution that you and your spouse agree on.

            Stop doing the following: start a discussion with a harsh criticism, criticize their character, deceive, compete, get defensive, “stonewall”, display contempt, be passive aggressive, be rigid or inflexible, allow negativity to escalate, become dramatic, and especially complain to others about the problem instead of your spouse.

            Start doing the following: care about your spouse and you, actively listen, empathize, validate feelings (not behavior), admit responsibility, apologize, make “repair” attempt, express anger in moderation, forgive past wrongs, and most importantly express positive things much more than negative things.

            I cannot say that I have ever enjoyed conflict, but I can admit that I have enjoyed some of the benefits as I manage the conflicts.  Though, one thing I still catch myself using is “you” statements when I know I should be using “I” statements.  I have messed up repeatedly, but I still want to improve and so I continue to work on replacing my tendencies with healthy habits.  When I realize I have started a conversation harshly I use a “repair attempt”, which is to apologize and then rephrase the problem more sensitively.  For example, instead of, or even after, saying, “You never turn off the lights when you leave the room!” you might say, “I’m sorry I shouldn't have said that.  Do over! I really just wanted you to turn off the light.”

Managing conflict is a skill that we must learn; it is certainly not in our genetic makeup.  The promise like with anything else is that with effort and practice it will get easier. 

Like me, you will most likely mess up and that is okay because the real goal is persistence.  Persistence is what will improve your marriage and bring the individual growth you desire.  So I challenge you to manage your next conflict more effectively.

-Watch the short video clips below and then do the activity below with your spouse.

I statements                

Repair Attempts


1. Identify at least one of the items from the Stop list above (paragraph 4) that you have a tendency of doing. Next identify at least one of the healthy habits from the Start list above (paragraph 5) that you would like to replace this bad habit with.
2. Practice rephrasing “you” statements with “I” statements with each other. 
Ex. “You always leave your wrappers everywhere!” = “I would really appreciate it if you would make sure that your wrappers end up in the trash once you leave an area.” 
3. Practice “repair attempts” and “requests” with one another.

Ex. “You never do anything around the house.” = “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to say that.  May I start over?  I would appreciate some help around the house every once and a while.” Or “Will you do the dishes tonight?”

By Tawnya