Sunday, July 23, 2017

Keep Building!

If you have followed the blog from the first post until this last post, you have placed a foundational block of communication down and built up from there!  Questions relating to love, emotions, faith, money and many other areas of relationship will continue to be important ( and fun!) to ask your partner as time goes on. The answers may stay the same or they may change. The way you are placing the blocks may be rearranged and distributed differently, but the goal is that you do this building TOGETHER!

Come back to this blog over and over to remind yourself of questions to get you talking and steps to take to help resolve conflict. Do what children do , as they build with blocks. Get down on the floor, so to speak, start with one block. Pick it up carefully. Handle it gently. Place it on a level , secure place. Then pick up another one. With concentration and determination ( maybe a little anxiety) precisely place one on top of the other and keep building! 

Sometimes the shape will change or need to be rearranged. If the blocks crash down and fall, see which ones are still in place and just build up from there again. Take turns, share the excitement and feeling of accomplishment as you see something arise and take shape.

What begins as one block, one question, one step toward loving , respectful relationship, can turn into a beautiful structure that can stand the tests of time.

Can't Agree?

               You walk past him, with your eyes down and say nothing. He rushes inside and says something under his breath that you don't understand and don't really care to pursue. There is a wall, a roadblock ( or two), and if not addressed, the efforts you have made to "build" the "blocks" of relationship can come crashing down quickly.

When this happens, one of you needs to take steps of Conflict Resolution. This sounds so technical. It seems that we are skilled at doing this in many areas of our lives, but when it comes to relationships we seem to avoid the steps necessary to come to agreement and resolution.

You notice the scale numbers rising. You feel lethargic and have no energy. You say to yourself one day , "I am gaining weight and don't feel as good as I used to . I need to do something."  You think about how you have ice cream every night while you sit and watch T.V. and you think about how you have tried to diet before but it hasn't worked. Instead you consider exercise. Maybe joining the YMCA or a gym. Maybe you can take a walk each night after dinner instead. Your friend has some exercise videos she could lend to you. You consider each option and choose to join the YMCA. After a month you realize this hasn't worked so well, although you lost a few pounds and feel a bit better,  so you call your friend to ask for the videos.

You have just successfully taken steps to personal conflict resolution. It truly is not as scary and intimidating , once you just start to do it. What makes it difficult is when you have conflict or decisions to make with another human being. Your differences and past unresolved issues come into discussion and keeping a level head is important.

SO, back to our initial scenario of a "wall" between you. Now is the time to start:
1. Initiate a time and place to talk and get out some paper and pencils.
2. Define the specific problem. List ways you contribute . Have your partner list the ways they contribute.
3. List past attempts to solve the problem that haven't worked. ( Just list them, don't discuss or say "That didn't work because you dropped the ball...."!! ) And now for the fun part :  BRAINSTORM 10 ( or maybe 5 if you can't do more) NEW IDEAS.  The ideas can be crazy, non-realistic, practical, or whatever. Don't judge the other person's ideas, just put them down on paper.
4. Now discuss and evaluate them all. Find the ones that are most useful and appropriate and really do-able.  Agree on one and try it!
5. Decide specifically what you will do , and have your spouse decide on specifically what they will do to help make this work.
6. Set up another meeting to talk about progress, or if you need to pick another option to try.

Sometimes , just the knowledge that you have been heard and that you both are trying to resolve the issues, goes a long way! Often a solution is eventually found that you both can truly make work.  Then you can walk past him with a smile and he can speak respectfully , and directly to you. The walls come down a bit and the relationship is restored and actually strengthened as you work on Conflict Resolution.

You can't avoid conflict or disagreement, but you can actively take steps to make it more productive and actually WORK for your partnership!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Money and Emotions

Emotions and Money go hand in hand.
Find your partners emotional money triggers and it will help you understand them better.

Ask questions about how they FEEL when there is extra money in savings. How they FEEL when an unexpected expense arises. How they FEEL when you are able to give to another needy person or cause.

Tap into the feelings and express your feelings on money issues, from your point of view.

Don't judge if the other person doesn't feel the same way. Just listen.
Next time they react to a purchase or a bill, you will have more insight into how you may be able to help the situation, instead of fueling a fire you may not be aware of.

Ask "How do you FEEL....." when it comes to money and you will be better equipped to help the emotions of money WORK for your marriage , instead of work against it!

The Long and Short of It

Sit down and write out what your personal Long-term money goals/ savings or spending goals are. This is usually a 3-5 year in the future goal.

Then take some time to write out out your personal Short-term money goals. Again it can be something you want to save for or something you want to spend money on in the short term. This is usually around 6 months to one year from now.

Then share your ideas with your spouse. And then listen while they share their ideas with you.

At this point it may be wise to say something like "Let's take a week to think about what the other person values here and meet again a week from now to talk about a short term goal and  "action" and a long-term goal and  "action" that we can agree upon.

Money differences can often bring up conflict, but see these conversations as stepping stones to helping make your life experience be more fulfilling for each of you over time.

Read books, talk to counselors, ask close friends and family how they manage their long and short term money goals. You will be glad that you did!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Where is your Treasure?

            I remember burying treasures in the backyard of a friend's home right here in my hometown that I have moved back to in my adult years. As children, we would spend hours finding little trinkets, special rocks or colored pieces of plastic that we thought looked like gems. We may write a little "message", and after we compiled it all, in a container, we would get to digging in her backyard. I have no idea where her parents were as we did this several times, but we left our treasure troves under the ground, in "safe" places, for keeping until we may want to uncover our precious items in the future.

Being a student of the Bible, I am always amazed that there are so many mentions by Jesus and the writers of other books, about the topic of money. I think it doesn't mean it is more important than the topics of salvation, forgiveness, or prayer, but it is a topic that resonates with each one of us, young or old, rich or poor, spiritual or not.

In Matthew 6 : 19 - 21 Jesus is recorded stating " Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.…"

Jesus always seemed to be concerned about the things we can't see. Our hearts, our motives, our passions. He often cuts to the truth about topics and here he quickly moves us from thinking about the things our money can buy ( which don't last), to the MEANING BEHIND what we spend that money on.

Consider and ask each other "Do you see money as a means to .....prestige, fun, comfort, giving, power.....or something else?"

Stop and then think.  Consider your daily spending habits,  are you "after" always having fun experiences?  Or do you like to "look good" in your appearance, home or vehicle?  Would you rather have a good meal and a warm bed to sleep in, and the security of money in the bank? Or do you love to buy gifts and give to things you believe in?

Most of us experience all of these means to some degree, ,but do you see a theme in your spending or saving?   Talk about this with your partner, especially if you share "treasure". Your heart's needs will often dictate the way you see the money you are bestowed.

As a young girl, I hid treasure, as a fun way to spend an afternoon with a friend, as we felt the excitement of gathering, hiding and keeping a secret.  As a grown woman I have to continually take a good look at my heart.  Jesus's words always challenge me, in areas of faith, relationship, and also money. Where am I putting my treasure? In things? In people? In comfort?

Start collecting insight into your ideas about money and dig deeper with your spouse. When you decide together where your treasure is, your hearts be more in alignment as well.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Million Dollar Question

  asked children what they would do with a million dollars! Here are some of their answers:

If I had a million dollars, I would save it until I got older and then I would move to California...

If I had a million dollars, I would spend a couple thousand on trivial things, like maybe a pool. Then I'd donate the rest to something. I don't know which charity, though. Something really worthwhile..

If I had a million dollars, I would first buy a laptop, then a really big house, then donate the rest to a Hospital or Homeless Shelter.

If I had a million dollars I would give it to charity, and buy clothes and toys for the homeless children.

Buy an IPod.

This might sound weird, but I would be scared to spend it!!!!

Ask your spouse and see what THEY say!!!  Then tell them what you would do !

The Trust Factor

          How Important is Trust to YOU?

I have never participated in the exercise where you let yourself fall back into the arms of friends or teammates, whom you trust to catch you. Frankly, I am trust-challenged at times and would WANT to rely on the strong arms and the minds of friends who were determined to catch me, but I would struggle with trust. 

Ask the question above and "let go" as you answer!

The answers to this question will reveal quite a bit about you and how you have experienced life and relationships in the past.  You may value being able to rely on your spouse's commitment to you and their honesty above feeling loved or being happy. Or you may have come to expect very little from people in your past and the need to know reliability and healthy dependence , may be lower on your list, than on your partner's.

We size up people every day, dozens of times, in the area of trust.
Can we believe the news? Will the car salesman give us a fair deal?  Will my boss follow through on what they said they will do? Will the information I just told my neighbor be kept in confidence?

Trust is only as good as the strength and dedication of the object/person you lean on.

Your expectations and value of trust will define your relationship and your expectations of it and they way you function within it. Take the plunge, let yourself fall back and let go . Find out what your loved one thinks about "trust".