Like most couples, when Harold and I started dating and moved into our engagement, we hung on each other’s words. We genuinely desired to hear what the other said and the thoughts of the one we were growing to love. Fast-forward a few years into our marriage and you will find the communication in marriage already breaking up.
As a Christian couple living this natural decline in communication in marriage, we decide to work together to reach the communication that reflects our love for each other, while attempting to demonstrate the Biblical descriptions of a marriage. To do so, as a couple, we decided to answer the following questions in our own words.
This is a great exercise to do for your own marriage, so you can stay connected and keep communication in marriage your focus and goal.
Communication in Marriage – The Key to Staying Connected
Why is communication important to you?
- Harold – “Without communication there is no way to know what is wrong, what needs to be fixed, and what it is that is working. It also allows a couple to know each other better, by understanding what makes them the person that they are, thus allowing the spouse to know how to best support or compliment him or her.”
- Dollie – “Communication is the foundation of a relationship, one on which true understanding and shared beliefs can grow. When communication is properly working, there is a natural connection that allows two people to feel exposed on one side and completely safe on the other.”
What makes you feel listened to?
- Harold – “When one listens to you, they do what it is that was said. (I’m still working on conquering this)”
- Dollie – “I feel listened to the most when there is eye contact and responding to the conversation with more than a ‘sound’ of acknowledgement.”
How can you do better in communicating with your spouse?
- Harold – “I need to sit down with my wife, undistracted by anything else around me with paper and pen in hand, to write down things that need to be addressed. Otherwise, I have a track record to forget most everything that was talked about.”
- Dollie – “I have a lot of things that I desire to discuss with my husband, as the head of our home. Our busy schedule and desire to keep our evenings about our family, as well as needing ‘down time’ from the stress of the day, has proved that long conversations need to happen on weekends or on dates. Journaling those things that aren’t time pressing, has helped keep the necessary communication opened.”
When is the best time to communicate?
- Harold – “It depends, but I find once I can step away from work for a half hour or so I can eliminate work from my mind and focus better on what is being said and thus communicate better.”
- Dollie – ”Being a woman, I can communicate most anytime of the day. Realizing this, I need to consider the optimal time for my husband to give me his full attention. Unless it is a pressing matter, I can wait until his attention is there.”
What changes are you willing to do to protect and grow the communication within your marriage?
- Harold – “Make sure, even if it is for a half hour, to set aside time each day, most likely early evening, to talk about our day, our future plans and goals.”
- Dollie – “Not giving my husband ‘information overload’ and prioritize the subjects that needs his timely input within the functions of our family and home. When we have time while driving or at the table, I can chose the items that are less pressing but good things for him to know about the daily parts of our lives.”
In the end, communication is crucial to a relationship and to start rebuilding what may have been lost or protecting what still works.
At one time, I had organized a local homeschool support group, and attended a different one as well. It was during this time that I realized that in many cases, starting to homeschool created issues within marriages and families. It surprised me because it was so different for our family. With as many years that I have been homeschooling, I have heard so many different stories about conflicts to homeschool between a husband and wife, and even extended family.
With so many years of homeschooling under my belt, and the different examples of the dynamics of families, I decided to share key things that are important for couples to talk about when trying to decide if homeschool or not to homeschool is right for their family.
To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool: 5 Things Couples Should Talk About
Regardless of the current thoughts of homeschooling from either spouse, I highly recommend making time to talk about the following 5 things that will help your decision to homeschool or not to homeschool so much easier.
Why would you want to homeschool?
If you are contemplating homeschooling, you may not understand a lot about it but you are drawn to it for a reason, and this reason is pivotal to your decision for your family.
In my own experience, identifying why I want to do something helps me understand my passion and be able to articulate it to others.
I would highly recommend creating a list of pros that homeschooling would provide, and discussing this list with each other, to be sure you both agree that each thing is a pro for your family.
What are your concerns about homeschooling?
With everything in life, I would consider writing down the things that concern you, and label them as cons.
Things like, one income for your family, having to solely responsible for the education of your children, and so on.
The same thing applies for cons. Identify what cons there are to homeschooling, and write a list that contains them all. I would caution you to not consider that the longest list wins, without discussing the next step first.
What obstacles would you need to overcome?
Often times, I look at cons as obstacles that need to be considered and then a plan of overcoming these obstacles need to be put into place.
For instance, if a one income situation is a concern for you, perhaps working on a budget together or identifying ways to cut your spending dramatically to make it work.
Perhaps it is a work schedule for your family. Many families still make this work for them, by homeschooling in the evening and on weekends.
What is important to realize is ‘Where there is a will, there is a way!”
Where are you qualified to teach?
Depending on your state’s requirements, this may not even be an issue to what a parent is qualified to teach. Starting there would be my recommendation.
To learn what your state’s homeschool guidelines are search your state’s name with homeschool laws and you should find a great resource to help you. Often times that comes through a state’s homeschool organization or even HSLDA website.
Some families divide the work load to allow the parent with the most strengths in a subject to teach those, and the other subjects are taught by the other parent.
What I love most about homeschooling is that there are so many curriculum choices that often times the teacher’s manual is enough to qualify a parent to effectively teach their children, and fill in any gaps they may have themselves along the way.
Where do you feel inadequate to teach?
Let’s face it, every person starting something new feels inadequate at first. Yes, even teachers of a brick and mortar school.
Feeling inadequate can be a plus, at least in my perspective. What I have found to be true is that when a personal feels inadequate, they seek options that will help solidify their ability.
This is a perfect place for a homeschooling family to be, because they look for creditable sources for their curriculum, which could include a tried and true method that feels natural and easy to implement, a full curriculum in a box, online courses, co-op settings, or personal tudors.
Those that seek solutions to their feels help their children far more than just putting in a class room that has only one or two options.
I hope that helps you decide if homeschooling is the right fit for your family, or not.
Parenting is a hard job. Parenting as a couple can be even harder. Most days may be easy, but we all know that from time to time, a couples has a hard time seeing eye to eye and struggle to parent together without conflict. I know we have had these times in our parenting of our children. It doesn't really have to be as difficult as we make it, but it does take a little work.
5 Tips to End Parenting Arguments
Creating a children together is a beautiful thing. Anticipating your child to become a part of your family is exciting, as you discuss names and colors for the babies room. You both joyfully gather around your baby for the first time with wonder, while love just flowing freely from your heart.
It doesn't take long after you bring your bundle of joy home to realize that you both have some different ideas about how this parenting thing should look like in your home. If you haven't put a lot of time into discussing what parenting would look like and how you both would work together as a couple to reach the goals you set for your parenting, you may struggle to remember the love that was the reason for your larger family.
There are 5 main areas that parents seem to have conflict when raising children, so I will highlight those and offer some suggestions of how to you can find a way to build communication and structure you both can do happily together.
It is really important to discuss your disagreements in private, to work through where you disagree and work to find common ground to build off from and more importantly to be united in front of your children.
- Discipline – I'm sure this has been something that each couple has had to face together. I know we have had to many times. I remember the first time, our daughter was about 6 months old and we were training her to sleep in her own bed, in our new apartment. We both had different ideas to do this successfully and that stress only added to the training of our daughter. Thankfully, that only lasted for a few nights. Once we took a parenting class together, discussed our desires on how we were going to discipline, and discipline our children, were we able to make any progress. As our children went into different stages, we had to revisit this and work through our disagreements and find a common ground to build from. The more we agreed on this subject and were consistent in front of our children, presenting ourselves as a strong unit, we made more and more progress. It was easier for us to do this when we decided on consequences for actions for our children. I would highly recommend that each couple have this on paper, to refer to when they need to be reminded what they agreed upon and work to enforce together.
- Diet – This is a hard one for a lot of couples. Many moms work hard to keep their children's diet healthy and dad's seem to be more relaxed. Of course, the opposite can be said in some families as well, but because mom's are the main caregiver in most families, this seems to be more of the case. What we have found to help us when we disagreed, was to have science back up our concerns and then find healthier alternatives that would make everyone happy.
- Routines – Thankfully, this hasn't been that hard of one for our parenting, but there was a time that bedtime became a conflict for my husband and I when my older children were young. I was so tired at night and my husband loved to fool around with them just as they were getting into bed. It was our daily routine for all of us to pray together when we were tucking our kids into bed, and in fact, we still do it today, twenty years later. However, for a season in our life, this caused major conflict for us because I no longer had any patience at that time of day and I just desired silence. However, my husband just wanted to play with our children and hear their laughter before they went to sleep. Neither of us were wrong with what we wanted, but one of us had to compromise or continue to have conflict every night. I had decided that I would sit out of this routine and give it completely to my husband to enjoy with our children. About 3 or 4 months later, I realized how much joy I was missing out of and started joining in on my family's special time again and it has never stopped. However, some nights, my husband knows mommy needs less of the silliness and will keep it minimum for my benefit as well. You may have other routines that are really important to you or your spouse, so be sure to discuss them all.
- Responsibility – I have been surprised by some of the conflict that I have heard in other families about having the children help around the house, but that is probably because this has never been an issue in our home, really. We both believe our children should be helping around the house and the older the get, the more they should be responsible for around the house. However, this isn't the case in many homes. I would recommend that as a couple, you discuss this early, before your children are old enough for responsibilities and decide what chores your children can and will do in your home. If you aren't sure what chores your children can do at what age, you may find this free printable useful when you are discussing this as a couple.
- Privileges – In our culture of electronics and children do more and more activities, couples find it harder to agree on what kind of privileges their children should have and when, especially when they have close relationships with others whose children have a lot when they don't have a lot of responsibilities. Having a reward system in place based on the children's responsibilities and attitude around the home. Taking time to discuss this together as a couple, knowing what you expect for your children and how this will look for their privileges, giving them things to work and strive to accomplish, while removing conflict from your marriage.
If you found this post helpful, you may also benefit from 6 Steps to Successfully Break the Pacifier Habit…
I cringe to think of the early years of our marriage and how I stood in the way of my husband being the head of our home. My strong personality, coupled with his easy-go personality, were the starting point of what our marriage had to endure from the beginning.
Although I grew up in the church, and attended a private school, the concept of the man being the head of the home wasn't anything that I really thought about, until I heard about it in a small group setting of women in a Bible study. I remember when I honestly asked myself, “Is your husband the head of your home?” I knew the answer was… ‘no‘. If you are like me, you may be looking for ways to learn how to empower your husband to be the head of your home.
How to Empower Your Husband to Be the Head of Your Home
Once I found out about the Biblical structure of the home, and how God appointed man to be the head of his home, I wanted it with all of my heart. I prayed for my husband to begin to walk in this position, and take over the leading of our family.
I put all the responsibility of this desire on my husband and expected him to change, step up and take control, even without him understanding the concept and what it may look like to him.
I have to admit that this revelation was so important to me that I overlooked how important my husband was to me and treated him so poorly anytime I didn't feel that he measured up to the picture of what it meant in my mind. I became a silly woman that was tearing down her own home!
Here is what I did when I realized what I was doing, and how I changed my attention to empower my husband to be the head of our home:
Ask his opinion before sharing mine – I find that when I have respected his opinion before mine that it is close to my own. When our opinions differ, which does happen from time to time, he is more willing to hear my suggestions because I respected his role as the head of our home, allowing him to respect my role as ‘his help meet'.
Listen longer and speak less – I can't believe how much I have dominated our discussions in the past. I found that once I let my husband speak more in our relationship, the more we grew as a couple and our desires became more of the same.
Allow him to make mistakes – I'm giving my husband the privilege of being human, which means knowing he is going to make a mistake, as I do, from time to time. I realized that it is through the mistakes that we both grow.
Love him when he makes mistakes – When he does makes mistakes, I need to love him through it, as he does with me in my errors. I'm not sure why people think that others are the only ones that make mistakes.
Allow him to speak for your family when in a couple setting – Years ago, I heard an older woman say ‘when she realized that her speaking for the family was going against her prayers for her husband to be the head of the home', I started using invisible duck tape when we were around couples that were asking us questions about our family. In holding my voice, my husband found his and that was a huge step in building his confidence as the head of our home. (This was truly one of the hardest things that I had to discipline myself to do)
If you found this post helpful, you may also like this post, How to Rebuild Trust Once It Is Broken…
Cell phones are becoming more and more visible in our society. Children are getting their own phones earlier and earlier, and with each one, the owner seems glue to their screens, regardless of where they are at and what they are doing. In this post, I would like to ask you how your cell phone habits can be harming your relationships, and offer some tips to help you take control of these habits and put your attention back on building your face to face relationships, not just your online ones.
How Your Cell Phone Habits Can Be Harming Your Relationships
Every person, regardless of their age, should have set boundaries of when and how to use their phone in different settings, and have an accountability in place to help them build the habits that will helping keep their relationships in person as their main focus, and not the distractions that I have been witnessing and participating in the past.
Capturing Memories Instead of Making Them
Having cameras built into our phones are such a blessing, especially for women who love to capture their memories with those that they hold dear. However, this tool has quickly become the focus of quality time spent together. Over the last several months, I have been included in these types of memories, and even part of the problem at times, of wanting to take a picture to include those that I'm with and next thing I know, the conversation that was happening right before that picture opportunity, turned into a time of social media sharing and the conversation died out.
The next thing that happens in this situation is the other people not posting that picture, feel awkward and they too, pick up their phone and scan their social media, waiting for the notification that they were tagged in the photo, so they can ‘like' it and comment on it, rather than continuing the conversation and building the relationship face to face.
The problem isn't taking the photos, we all want those memories to enjoy at other times.
Challenge to break this habit…
Take the photo, and put the phone down to continue where you were in the conversation and BE IN THE MOMENT. Get all you can out of the time you have with those in your life that are right in front of you. At a later time, when you are alone, when no one is talking for long periods of time, or when you climb into bed, POST those memories then, tagging those you included in your photos and use #sharingamemory or #latergram or none at all.
Be in the Moment When You Are in a Group of Two or More
I can't tell you the number of times that I sat in a room of others, some family, some friends, some acquaintance and some time with strangers and nearly everyone in these settings were 100% involved with their phones, and not with those that they took time to get together with.
BE IN THE MOMENT – For someone who doesn't have this addiction with their phone, it becomes very apparent just how out of control the cell phone habits have become and to see this happening with children, who should be loving life to the fullest, laughing at those they love, verses the hottest Youtube video, or a status of someone they follow. But of course, they are emulating those around them, because standards have been implemented to take them away from the moment they are in, and escaping to a place they would rather be or just losing them self with the actions of refreshing their Facebook wall, scanning through Instagram, following hashtags, or finding new friends, while losing touch with those they can literally reach out and touch.
Challenge to break this habit…
Keep your phone out of reach when you have people within your reach. If you are afraid that you may miss an important call from a family member that you aren't with, or a call from work or a client, learn how to customize ring tones to match up with these people, so no matter where your phone is, you can tell if an important call is coming through that you need to excuse yourself to take and make yourself available.
The majority of the distractions from our phones during this time are unimportant notifications, or things that can be picked up after you are done with spending quality time with those that you love and hold dear enough to get together with face to face.
Meal Times Are Moment Times
Gathering around the table has really changed in our society. Just visit a restaurant today, and you will see the major effects of the cell phone habits. You can have a family of 2 or 3, or as many as 10 or more, and the scene would still be the same… faces in their devices, and hardly any conversation happening.
When some conversations happen, a notification comes through and one person stops this quickly to engage with the person interrupting a meal with family or friends, and gives them their full attention.
As a mother who strongly believes that children need to learn the proper way to interrupt, and then having adults showing just the opposite of this, is more than frustrating to me and devastating to watch.
Challenge to break this habit…
This is a tip that I heard and loved it from that very moment. The tip is simple: use airplane mode during meal times. This setting is easy to put into place, and to remove. What it does is stops all notifications, including calls and texts, from coming through, but the functions of the phone are still available, like the camera.
Once the meal is over, just remove the airplane mode and catch up on anything you missed.
Family Time Is Now Screen Time
Family time is becoming distinct in our society, and being rapidly replaced with screen time. A perfect test for this in your own family is to look at your past photos of ‘family' gatherings, outings, games, etc, and see how many photos you see someone with a phone in their hands. Literally take a good look, and see if your family time has been changing right in front of you, and you didn't even notice it.
Our family time with our older two children often times is in front of the television in the later hours of the evening. It amazes me to see how much the phones come into play during this time. My phone quiets down early in the evening, because those who I connect with online knows that I don't work in the evening or on the weekend, which was a habit that I had to implement in February 2015, when I realized that I was out of balance and needed to put new habits in place of old habits that were going against my heart for my own family.
Challenge to break this habit…
Unplug during family times, and keep all phones away from you during set time for family time.
This is something that I feel is so important and where I hope to take our family. My husband is great at this but he isn't on social media, and his phone is connected to his livelihood, so if he isn't working, his phone isn't near him. He doesn't even take it on most of our vacations.
Game times and movie times is an easy time for our family to unplug. While we are out on the golf course, and at church. We still have places that we need to unplug, but thank goodness, I recognized this cell phone habit and how it was harming our relationships and took a personal look to make changes starting with me, and then helping my family build good habits.
Are you ready to take a challenge to break the cell phone habit? If so, tell me what you are doing to make face to face relationships your priority over your latest notification on your cell phone.
All marriage couples will tell you, if they are being honest, that there are times when marriage becomes difficult and requires more work than other times. Others would say that it becomes so difficult that it was easier to give up on the marriage and call it quits. I desire to share with you why I feel it is important to keep working through the challenges that your marriage has and find the solutions to making it work.
When Marriage Becomes Difficult
A disagreement here and there is normal in a relationship where two people live together and share space. However, I want to be real about what to do when you find your marriage becoming difficult and struggling with the thoughts of ‘Is it worth the work to stay together‘.
Absolutely, your marriage is worth the work to stay together!
My marriage has had a few times when it was a real struggle for us and finding a solution to fix the problems seemed impossible. That fact about why marriage is so difficult can easily be summed up with the sacredness of the vows that were exchanged with the man or woman of our dreams, to only find out that they have real flaws after you return from the honeymoon.
How dare the person you just vowed your life to, until death do you part, bring pet-peeves, habits and sin into your marriage?
The fairytale seems shattered when reality of who you just gave this ‘once in a life-time' position, as your spouse. Next thing that takes place is that the more you think about these flaws, the more you start doubting your choice and their love for you. The negative thoughts replace the once blissful thoughts that brought the two of you together.
Realizing that you married a ‘broken person‘, you set out on a mission to fix, change and better them.
Before long, your spouse will begin to wonder why you are finding so many things wrong, while overlooking the things that they clearly see in you that needs fixing and starts adding this to their agenda for the sole purpose of their defense.
A little spark of negativity begins to replace the sparks of love. Ammunition has been securely fastened to each spouse's mind and an invisible line have been drawn, with spouse facing off against spouse. Determined to be the last one standing, marriage vows are replaced with survival instincts fills both
soldiers, I mean lovers.
And thus is the start of when marriages become difficult!
It is time to learn how to fight for your marriage!
Marriages are not battle grounds. Spouses are not our enemies. No one is without pet-peeves, habits or sins.
Empower your marriage by changing the mindsets that cause the root issues in your marriage.
You BOTH are Fallible People
Identify the things you are finding faults with and then realize where your spouse could be finding fault with you.
I'm going to just come out and say this to women (myself included)…
“Do you really think you have it all together and your husband is the only one that needs to improve in your marriage?”
At one time in our marriage, I believed this whole-heartedly. I saw how hard I was working to make our house a home, have dinner on the table, keep a spotless house, be the only one to tend to the needs of our children, always be available when my husband needed me and so on.
I overlooked my tone in my voice, my rolling of my eyes, my temperament and even my words, because I justified them all by believing that ‘if he wasn't doing what he was doing, I wouldn't be doing what I was doing'.
This is the biggest lie that married couples believe, making their marriage difficult.
Stop Nagging and Get to the Root
For most of us women, it really isn't about the socks on the floor. It may be that your husband isn't respecting your work around the house. All along, you are arguing about the socks on the floor and he scratches his head trying to see how that is different than you leaving a cup in the car.
Men have no problem getting to the root of the problem.
Men tend to be straight shooters, so they will just come out and say what the problem is and often times, it comes off rough and hurtful. Considering how your spoken words can sound to a sensitive person can help to get your point across and eliminate the strain that speaking your mind can do.
Discuss the Sins, Work on the Habits and Overlook the Pet-peeves
Marriages have it all backwards when it comes to working on a marriage and often times it takes being married for years before you realize how backwards you look at your spouse.
Most marriages struggle with the pet-peeves of the other person, and then graduate to ripping apart their habits, while never really seeing the sin of the other in a marriage.
When a spouse feels like they are being attacked for the little things, like pet-peeves or how they have done things for the last 20+ years, it is easy for them to entertain sinful thoughts that lead to sinful behavior.
What we have found when our marriage is difficult is that one of us has a sin that needs to be confessed, discussed and eliminated. Overlooking the sins, when we feel like the Grand Canyon is separating us, can be the very thing that will end a marriage in turmoil.
Focusing on unhealthy habits together often times will be things to bring us together.
While the pet-peeves end up being the thing that brings laughter to our relationship, because they are the things that make us… US.
When we are feeling like we can't do anything more to fix our marriage, we couldn't be any more right. We can't. After all, we are the very reason our marriage was ending up in the difficult spot we found ourselves in.
This is when we lean on God, who we believe made us for each other and brought us together.
Praying together is one of the strongest things a marriage has to staying together, through the difficult times. Praying out loud, sharing your hurts through prayer, asking God to help, and heal will be one of the easiest ways to soften a heart, open a heart and fill a heart with love.