I hope you all have a happy and healthy New Year!! Stay tuned throughout January for ways you can have a happy and healty 2017! I am excied to take this journey with yall!
As I started planning out my blogs for January I began noticing an unintentional theme as I prepare to kick off the New Year! So I have decided to make January the month of wellness as we prepare our relationships, mind and body for the next year and all the adventures that lay ahead! So join me on a wellness Challenge this month! I promise, you won't regret it!!
So Next Tuesday the blog will feature the first wellness goals! What could be more important than our marriages ladies! So that is where I am going to start! I am excited to take this journey to wellness with you and I hope you join me in the challenge! See you next Tuesday!
Merry Christmas Everybody! I am hoping that yall are having a wonderful, love filled Christmas weekend whereever you are!
SO Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Where are you spending Christmas?
A week or so ago I wrote a post about why we need to stop husband bashing as a way of maintaining fondness and admiration for them. The is one of Gottman’s s Seven Principles for a Successful Marriage. When counseling couples, this is one of the main books and works that I draw on because his advice is well backed by science and research, and it works. I thought I would draw out one of his other principles for a successful marriage today: Solving solvable problems. Many of the problems we face in our relationship are things we simply cannot change. We cannot change our personalities, they are pretty well set; we can’t change extraneous circumstances, they are outside our control. We can’t change our extended family; we are pretty much just stuck with them. However, we can change how we relate to one another, and that can make all the difference when you and your spouse are trying to solve a problem. Remember, in a marriage you are a team, and you either win together or lose together; if one person ever walks away feeling like they lost, then both people lost. So practicing (and I choose this word specifically) practical conflict resolution skills can help you and your partner solve the solvable problems and overcome the non-solvable problems.
While Gottman’s unique approach to marriage counseling doesn’t focus solely on communication skills as more traditional models might. Rather he uses softening startups, making and receiving repair attempts, soothing yourself and your spouse, compromise, and tolerating each other’s faults. Now I am sure you are familiar with the last two or three components, but, the first two I think are the most important, so that is where I am going to focus.
I am going to be the first to admit that I am not great at this; I tend to get very defensive, very quickly. However, I notice a radical difference in my husband’s response to me when I am soft and when I am defensive. Nothing can be resolved when one or both partners are in a defensive mode, this very quickly leads to arguments. We can’t avoid difficult conversations for fear of creating conflict either. Avoiding conflict will not bring us closer to our spouses, rather it will drive a wedge in between us making us feel ever more distant. That is why we need to use soft startups when we know we are broaching a difficult subject with our spouses. Softening means no accusations, “why didn’t you do…” “How come you can never do….” Instead say, “I would really appreciate if you could help me do… I really could use an extra set of hands on this project.” Often we feel underappreciated or a lack of help from our spouses simply because we haven’t asked for their help, and they can’t read our minds, it is not a sign of disrespect, more of ignorance. When we use I-statements and avoid blaming our spouses we are more likely to get the response we desire, they come and help us. Be polite, this is important, as we are more likely to oblige someone who is polite, rather than demanding.
Making repair attempts
Gottman has said it is not the number of fights a couple has that impacts relationship satisfaction, rather it is how well a couple can reconnect after the argument. This is the idea behind making and receiving repair attempts. Couples have to practice both, it is not enough for one person to continually make repair attempts if the other partner makes not effort to receive and accept them. A repair attempt can take many forms, but it is a way of turning toward your spouse (one of Gottman’s 7 Principles) after an argument. Repair attempts can be humorous jokes to break the tension after a fight, an apology, validating your partner’s emotions, and showing empathy. These can be done in the moment, during an argument. However, we are stubborn creatures, or at least I am! And often, we do not make repair attempts at the time because we feel justified in our position. Repair attempts can also be made later: apologize, tell your spouse you love him, and make sincere efforts to let them know you are sorry. And well we’ve all heard that making up is the best part of fighting… if you know what I mean!
Not only do you need to make repair attempts, but you also need to be able to accept them when your spouse makes them! This requires being mature, and to stop dwelling on the argument and accept their apology. Give up your stubbornness, as hard as I know it is, believe me! If you want to know how well you are making and receiving repair attempts in your relationship, follow this link to The Gottman Institute Blog to go through the questionnaire and see how you rate.
These tools can help make conflict within the marriage (which is inevitable, I don’t care how much you love each other, at some point there will be conflict). Remember, don’t avoid conflict in attempt to keep peace, unless you are looking to drive a wedge in between you and your spouse. If you soften your approach to complaints, it will lessen your partner’s defensiveness and you will be more likely to be able to solve your problems. Remember, not all conflicts can be solved, there will always be gender differences, personality clashes, family members that might not get along with our spouses that we can’t avoid. So try to come to compromises with those issues, and solve the ones you can so your relationship is not plagued with insolvable and solvable problems! I highly recommend reading Gottman’s Book, The 7 Principles to a Successful Marriage. It is full of questionnaires and assessments that can be used to monitor how you are behaving in your relationship.
Hey Everyone!! I am so excited to announce I will be writing a piece for the Army Wife Network Experience Blog each month! My first post will be released December 19! For those of you who know me this will be an introduction to how I got to where I am! Foor those who don't know me hopefully it will help us get to know each other!
I am so excited about this new endeavour! I have some great ideas planned for my posts for the coming year both for my own blog here and over at the Army Wife Network!
I hope yall check it out when it comes out!! Thanks for all your support!
Anything yall want me to write about let me know below in the comment!
Anxiety runs rampant across the holiday season! And chasing right behind it is its close friend, Depression. But wait, isn’t Christmas supposed to be one of the most joyous and happiest times of the year? Then why do so many people find themselves weighed down, lethargic, and lacking the motivation to make it through the last stretch of the year? My theory, is that this is supposed to be a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, time with family and friends who enrich and fill our lives, and it turns into an anxious and exhausting time for some!
There is conflict over who we are supposed to go visit this year and who we visited last year; busted budgets; for some the stress of entertaining and making the house look spotless; making incredibly delicious and beautiful food; trying to guess what everyone wants for Christmas this year. You name it, someone out there is stressing out about it! And suddenly we are in a state of dread, panic and Anxiety moves in, and then we are so anxious we can’t imagine doing anything, we have no motivation. That is when Depression catches up to join us and Anxiety for this not so fun unwelcomed Christmas party we find ourselves in. Like two miserable unwanted house guests, we just can’t seem to get them to leave!
As a counselor I am of the school of thought that thoughts are what drives everything in our emotional and behavioral repertoire. Thoughts give way to feelings which motivate certain behaviors. If we can find a way to change our thoughts about the upcoming hustle and bustle of the holiday and Christmas season we can change our feelings and the consequently our actions.
We start by identifying the negative thoughts that are driving the anxious and depressed feelings. When we recognize the thought, we are one step closer to being able to change them. One way I suggest to do this is to create a thought log like this one. This can help you become aware of your negative thoughts, and what events trigger them. For example, maybe your negative thought is, “I can’t enjoy the season because I just can’t do something for one more event.” This thought might come right after your fourth child comes home with a note in her backpack asking parents for donation for the classroom Christmas party. Now that you know the thought and recognize it as it comes across your mind, when baby number five needs something you can prepare yourself and instead of let the thought consume you and bring you down you can come up with a simple solution that does not stress you out.
Using simple solutions can eliminate unnecessary stresses we are placing on ourselves. There may be some basic requirements during the holiday season that extend us a bit further than the rest of the year, but most of it is unnecessarily placed on us, by our own selves! If we go back to the earlier example, the teacher ask you contribute to the class party, but she never asked for a gourmet dessert, store bought cookies or a box of candy canes will suffice just the same!
So now we are aware of the thoughts because we wrote them down, we recognize them when they come back, and are prepared for them because we know the situations which are most likely to provoke those thoughts! And we ask who is imposing the expectation on us, the outside world, or ourselves. If it is a self-imposed expectation, examine it and ask your-self the following questions:
Will you lose something crucial if you don’t complete the task? For example, in decorating, we might need to decorate the house a bit, put up the tree, hang stockings, set up the nativity. But we don’t need elaborate tablescapes, or our houses to look like the designer pictures on Pinterest! Nobody’s house really looks like that all the time
Don’t try to compare yourself to anyone else, no one else is in your same situation so you don’t have to compete with them. Nobody has it all put together, even if it looks like they do, they are probably hiding all the other stuff; everyone wants to feel put together. So like I said temper your own expectations of what you are able to achieve; especially during the holidays where we are spread so thin between shopping for everyone, making dishes for all sorts of parties, traveling, dealing with family, and hosting. Set reasonable expectations and remember when you begin to feel overwhelmed, slow down, breath, and ask yourself those questions above. If you need to scale back, do so, no one will judge you for bringing a store bought cheese platter rather than slicing it all yourself if you just don’t have the time!
Remember this is supposed time of celebration, so if you are approaching it more with dread than joy then perhaps you need to find ways to manage your own expectations of yourself, and find ways to scale back instead of over stretching yourself to the point of exhaustion. If you can find ways to do this, then you will reduce the anxiety and depression that might plague you during the holiday season! And then just maybe your unwanted house guests, Anxiety and Depression, will move out before Christmas Day!
So last night I threw my first, of what I can only assume will be many, farewell parties for a friend! I don’t like goodbyes, to quote Rory Gilmore, “It is a poorly named ritual.” But alas they are a part of life, and especially of military life. This is not the first one of my Army wife friends to move away, but it is the first one we’ve known about in time to plan a time to get together and send each other off into the next phase of our lives! As much as a regularity saying goodbye is in the military life, I don’t think that means it will ever get easier. And that is probably a good thing, means we are humans with a heart, and It means we didn’t become a recluse. Friendships are important, and deserve to be celebrated! Hoping that the military community really is as small as everyone seems to says, and we run into each other again! More about military friendships.
While I don’t like good byes, I love to host! And I especially love to host around the holidays! So when my friend and I decided that a farewell party was in order, I eagerly volunteered to host! I think one of my favorite things about hosting is all the delicious food I can make (that my husband won’t eat, so I never make), and an excuse to use all my pretty serving ware that we were given at the wedding, and that I purchased as a result of my obsession with T.J. MAXX! I also love ornaments and so my favorite holiday party idea is an ornament exchange! Here is the ornament I bought, and the one I got!
No party is complete without a wonderful cheese dish and dessert! So I am going to give you my recipe for salted caramel apple pie & peach, bacon, and basil baked brie! You can never go wrong with either dish, no matter the occasion! So without further ado follow the links above to find the recipe for each!
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times with the same person
Such a beautiful and wonderful quote; and something I think we all start out striving for. But lets me honest, it is a lot easier to fall in love with a person who is present, one that is there when you wake up and fall asleep, home for dinner, who is there to help put the kids to bed and someone who can help around the house. A partner because that is what a marriage is, a partnership. But enter military life, and suddenly that does not always happen. There are lots of separations in military life: i.e. deployments, trainings, TDYs, field time; and they are never there in the mornings because of PT. And suddenly, because of that we become incredible self-sufficient, which don’t get me wrong is not a bad thing. But when we become so self-sufficient, it can begin to interfere with the romance. Sure everyone thinks having a military relationship is so romantic with the grand homecomings after long absences. But what you don’t realize until you live it, is that it is never as romantic as it seems. It can be hard to keep the romance alive after that first initial homecoming.
So how do you keep the romance alive in your military marriage
1. Communicate Whenever You Can, However You Can: Sometimes all we have are letters, sometimes we can Facetime, Skype, text, call each other. Regardless of what methods are available to you, utilize them. Don’t just send letters or emails, include pictures of you and what you are doing. This goes both ways. By sharing pictures, you can continue to feel connected to each other and what each other are doing. Whether you think it’s exciting or not, they will feel grateful that you thought of them and want to share what you are doing with them
2. Make Your Time Together Intentional When you are together, make sure you are intentionally seeking to spend time with your spouse, don’t just spend your time haphazardly. Intentionally seeking your spouse means making a specific effort to work on your relationship at a certain time. All interactions should be intentional, but they rarely are, when time is limited this is even more crucial to keeping the relationship healthy and stoking the fires. When my husband was doing a lot of field training he was gone most days of the week for several months, and only home on weekends. I was intentional of not making plans with friends to be away while he was home. We spent that time together as a couple. Being intentional with the time we had together allowed us to keep romance alive during those months.
3. Be Creative Expressing Intimacy to your Spouse When you are together all the time, there are easy, common ways to express intimacy towards your spouse. But keeping it alive is a bit more difficult. Now I am not suggesting you send racy photos to your spouse (especially if they are deployed as you never know who is monitoring packages or internet lines). If you want to send them that’s your choice, just be careful! However, there are other ways to creatively share. Tell your spouse what specifically you miss about him/her. “When I see you I want to ____.” This will help you feel connected to each other even if it’s just via letters. Send cards, not just letters. The sky is really the limit in how you are creative with each other.
4. Always Be Willing to Learn Being apart means that there are going to be things ya’ll don’t know about each other. Even if you talk every day, the chances that you share everything, every day, are so slim. You are both going to have experiences the other won’t and it will change and affect you both differently. So when you are back together, be willing to continue learning about each other. As you learn more about each other, it will continue to build intimacy in your relationship.
5. Surprise Each Other Now, I know physically surprising each other in person is not always possible; especially if they are separated from you for military reasons. But send them something, maybe he really loves video games and a new one came out, beat him to the punch and send it to him. You are going to miss your anniversary together, send her flowers. It doesn’t have to be anything large or extravagant. Small surprises like a box of his favorite Christmas cookies if he is going to be deployed during the holidays, say a lot.
So whether you see each other once a week or are separated for months at a time you can use these 5 ideas to help you maintain the romantic spark in your relationship. What are your creative ways to stay connected to your spouse across the distance?
So you just got married, or you have been married for years and you still struggle around the holiday season about whose traditions to continue. Well I know the holiday season is rough when it’s no longer just your traditions in play. So what better way to help ease the transition than starting some traditions with your spouse this year! Here are some traditions to start this holiday season!
4. Participate in Operation Christmas Child (via the Samaritan’s Purse) and fill a box together.
5. Give each other or buy together one ornament that represents a specific highlight from your year together.
6. Volunteer your time together somewhere in the community, whether it be a soup kitchen, children’s home, hospital. Bring the holiday spirit to those in need.
7. Start an Advent devotional, bringing yourselves closer to God and each other.
8. Host a Christmas party for all your friends.
9. Make Christmas cookies together, frosting and decorating them like you did as a kid!
10. Find the local holiday light displays and take a drive with your hubby! Don’t forget to snap a few pictures of this magical time of year!
So here are my ideas! Comment below and tell me some of your favorite holiday traditions from your family!