Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dating Other Couples (AKA: Becoming Friends)

Good question from a reader. How do you go about "dating" other couples?

(This post is a follow-up from my last post found here).

It's not easy to meet others when you are married and move to a new city. Moving to a new city can cause lots of challenges within the marriage and that may take time away from making new friends. Once you are settled into your new home and can find your way to work, it may be time to think about how to make new couple-friends.

One of my suggestions from the last post is to join a club/organization/sport's rec team, etc. Once you have done this, it helps to get to know who the married folks are in the group. For us that was easy since we joined a "young, married couples" group at church.

At this point we were stuck, what comes next? In a normal dating relationship you would see each other by chance or scheming and then get to know each other at events. Well, we tried that. Week after week we went to this group hoping to talk and develop relationships. It didn't happen like I planned. Week after week we didn't grow closer to others at the same pace I did with girlfriends in college.

One likely reason for this is that now there are two of you. Where one set of wives may enjoy each others company, the husbands may not get along that well or vice verse. Generally though I found that once the 4 of us got to know each other, if one sex got along, so did the other.

Another reason is that some part of relationships might be a little forced. Remember those awkward conversations on your first few dates? That is something that our brains were wired to "handle" in the name of finding a mate. We were driven to get through those awkward (I don't know what to ask next) conversations so we could feel that high of romantic love. I think the drive to get through the first few rough "dates" may not be as strong when we are courting friends:)

One way to avoid or lessen those awkward times is by inviting more than one couple over. In my group someone had the brilliant idea to get together in groups of six (three couples). This allows different people to come up with conversation. It gave me time to think about what we could say next. It really took a lot of pressure and awkwardness away.

How do you manage to "date" other couples?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How does your geographic location influence your marriage?

I'm 27. As I look around most of my friends are getting set in some sort of career. That means they are moving to new locations for those new jobs, getting new places, and getting set in a routine.

I did the same thing. My husband and I moved for his new job, and then I found a new job. We didn't start with a lot of friends where we live. This was a huge change from college.

Making new friends was a lot harder than I thought it would be. We were so well connected by the time we left college that moving to a new city was a shock. I assumed that since we had dozens of friends in college that we would easily and quickly find new friends in our new city. Wrong. It took us a few years and several months of depression for me to figure it out.

How did we make friends? We wound up finding an organization (a big church) with lots of young people. Even though we joined a class for young, married couples...we still didn't immediately have a circle of friends. The new friends came one at a time. Those first conversations were very awkward and difficult. The first year of hanging out with new people was more of a "get to know you" year. I was so disheartened because friends weren't coming quickly/easily. But, as time moved on, we became very close with some of the couples. So close that I would feel comfortable calling one of my new girlfriends crying:)

I've noticed that many of my other college friends are having the same struggles. I think one big way to seek out those new friendships is through organizations such as recreational sports teams, church, work friends, clubs, etc. It's hard because I don't think my generation is one to quickly join an organization. In fact, I heard that my generation tends to only join one or two organizations that they deeply believe in. That means it may take a while before you find what you're looking for (if you're my age).

It's not easy but if we don't learn to "date" new couples or make new friends, how will we feel fulfilled or connected? Friendship is important for humans. Even if it's uncomfortable I urge you to look around and consider joining something.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Best Predictor of Divorce

Here John Gottman talks about the "Best Predictor of Divorce." I appreciate his world famous research on relationships. His work has helped mold thousands of marriages.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

For the Ladies: How to Motivate Your Husbands

I don't have all the answers, but there is one thing I think can help change the course of a failing marriage.

I make mistakes a lot. One major mistake I made at the beginning of our marriage was that I didn't understand that my husband is motivated by respect. I thought his felt need for love was the same as mine. I didn't know or think that he thought and saw things differently than I did. I didn't realize that what sounded to me like a casual comment, was actually something that made him feel like I  took an axe to his heart. Boy, was I wrong. When I started to get it right, we very quickly got on a path that helped our marriage to grow.

What does disrespect look like? A while ago we were having an argument about the budget. My friend called during our discussion. I thought we could take a break and continue the conversation later. My husband felt it was really disrespectful that I picked up the phone. He felt that our conversation deserved priority over the friend conversation. My answering the phone made our conversation worse and definitely did NOT motivate him to have a better discussion with me.

Today, one thing I do well (most of the time) is that I respect my husband, in public and in private (I can see the younger me scoffing at that sentence). That doesn't mean I bow down to him or pretend that I agree with everything he says. On the contrary, we have some pretty disagreeable conversations. What it does mean is that I am capable of motivating him in our marriage. The thing that makes it work often is that I NOW know what I'm aiming at... it's respect.

In our culture today we hear time and again that LOVE is everything in a marriage. But, we rarely hear about respect, and men often don't think of using that word when they are trying to describe what they need more of in a relationship.

Interestingly, Aretha Franklin's hit song (RESPECT) was written by a man.

What is respect? Here are some definitions I found, "esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person," "a feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard," and "willingness to show consideration or appreciation."

Think back to how you felt about your husband when you first met or when you first started dating. I bet these descriptions were something you could have agreed with. I bet this is how you could have described your feelings about him. But, it's easy to forget how we felt when we were dating.

What does it mean to show him respect? It means building him up in public and in private. One of the more respectful actions you can take is to say positive things about him in front of friends/family. If you disagree with him (and you're not making a big decision on the spot like buying a car) you should generally talk about it in private. Here I talk about an argument we had with our friends in the car (aka: not in private). The argument would have gone much more smoothly if we had waited until we were home.

Have you ever talked positively about your husband in public? If not, you should try it the next chance you get. When he hears you praising something he's done in front of others he will likely feel energized and joyful. You'll likely be able to see the reaction on his face right away. He will likely feel more motivated to be loving towards you.

Another action you can take that shows respect is by considering him when making choices about your life. Talk with him about decisions you are about to make regarding your job, kids, finances, house plans, chores, etc. This is how you can "show consideration" for him and what he has to say.

I believe if this "tactic" is taken seriously and used daily it can help a severely damaged marriage get back on the right track.

Ladies, if you wonder how much your words mean to your husbands, read this post!

If you're the I write about how men can motivate their wives with love.

PS. The idea for this post came directly from Dr. Eggerichs. Check him out if you have time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Are You on the Rich List?

According to the Global Rich List, if you make 25,000$ a year or more you are in the top ten percent of the world's richest people.

That is a powerful statement. It's easy to forget the difference between a need and a want in a nation where you can seemingly have anything. Did you ever say, "Mom, I NEED new clothes for school?"

It's easy to forget that you are rich when you compare yourself to celebrities in this country. TV allows us to see inside the most luxurious homes in the world.

It's easy to overlook the fact that (many of) our "poor" in America have shelter, clothing, food, hot showers, television, phones, transportation, toilet paper, access to medicine, education, internet access, etc. Some of our so-called poor are not in the same state of poverty as others are in this world.

Some days it's easy for me to have a bad attitude because of all the things I don't have. That's when I need some perspective.

The rich list helps me remember how much I really have in this life. It helps me to realize that I am rich and that I should have a grateful attitude instead of a sour one.

When I traveled to Nicaragua for a medical mission trip I gained perspective on how much I have. People walked miles and waited in the heat all day just to see a doctor. These same people walked in the dirt without shoes, didn't get to take many showers (let alone hot ones), and had to work very hard to feed their families. Many of them had grateful attitudes that their child was getting to see a doctor for the first time ever. They were grateful to have something treated that took only 5 minutes (and cheap pills) to fix, but would have taken the life of their child if gone untreated.

They also showed me it's possible to be joyful in a situation where you don't have all your NEEDS met.

On this Gratituesday I realize that I'm rich, and my attitude and actions (giving to others) should reflect that. Are you rich?

Please join my other friends for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T and Love

Men, this one's for you.

What is it you crave most from your wife? I bet what most motivates you is RESPECT. Do you feel respected when she is intimate with you? Do you feel disrespected when she talks over you? Do you feel respected when she comments on how you show her love? Do you feel disrespected when she comments on a chore you didn't complete? I'm willing to bet your biggest marital motivator could be defined under the heading of respect. The idea that men are motivated by respect while women are motivated by love offers a nice perspective on how to treat your spouse. The explanation (and book) comes from Dr. Eggerichs.

This post however, is not about your needs. It's about her needs.

Where you need respect, she needs LOVE. She needs to feel loved, in many of the areas you need to feel respected.

It's easy to forget about her need to feel loved, when you feel disrespected. During conflict, it's especially easy to forget that love motivates her. Sure, you both need love and respect, but the felt need for each is different.

If your wife is showing you contempt or disrespect, it's possibly because she is feeling unloved.

What have you done in the past that has made her feel loved? When did she last light up with a smile over something you did or said? Assure your wife of your love for her. She needs reassurance of your love through your actions. Hold her hand. Ask her how she feels. Let her know when she did something you enjoyed and how it made you feel.Put your cell phone down when she is in the room (or before you come home). Do a chore from her list. Initiate conversation. When she asks about your day, give her details. Brag about her in front of others.These are just a few ways to start showing her love.

Ladies, if you're interested in what to say to your man, I have a post for you too. The words you use are very important.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


When you look back on an argument or a series of arguments, do you find joy in what your marriage has been through? Or, do you think about the negatives associated with tough times?

When I think about our first year of marriage, it was a wild ride. We planned a wedding (in 3 months for family health reasons), moved, got laid off, moved again to a different state, got new jobs, bought a house (includes moving again), and had a flooded basement. We had plenty of trials in our first year as a married couple.

But when I reflect on those times I am happy that we made it through. I am also happy because I feel like we can make it through whatever comes our way in the future.

One of the keys to getting through the tough times is knowing how to fight well. 

Another key to making it through difficult times is to use humor. As a former crisis counselor, I know that humor is under-utilized during heated moments. In some of the most difficult crises I used humor to mellow the situation. And what's interesting is everyone in the room laughed. You need something like humor to help bring the tension down a few notches. This isn't a free card to never have a serious conversation, it's just the ability to poke a little fun at a trying situation.

Being able to look back at a difficult few months in a marriage and see something (anything) positive is healthy.  I encourage you to examine your perspective on difficult moments in marriage.

I'm thankful on this Gratituesday that I can see the bigger picture of how our first year of marriage prepared us for life together.
Check out other Gratituesday posts at Heavenly Homemakers!