How I Won My Husband Back in The Darkest of Times
Do you ever get the feeling that your marriage is slipping away from you? Like all of the sudden, you realize your once dedicated and happy relationship somehow took a turn for the worse?
You're in a funk like you've never experienced before, and when you watched those latest episodes of Blackish, you can't help but cry your eyes out because what they go through in their marriage...that's you.
How did we get here? What am I doing wrong?
Now that you are here, what do you do before it's too late? Before one of you jumps off the edge that love cliff you've slowly been inching towards over the years.
These questions consume your mind like cancer, and while you see those sneaky little disrespectful and unloving gestures you have towards one another, you have somehow given up doing anything about it.
You used to think, 'I need to work on that.' Now, you don't even bother because getting through the day without an argument or a snarky remark is a thing of the past.
It's your new normal.
One day, you realize that you've let laziness get the better of your relationship, and you're both at a place where you're not sure where to go or what to do next.
I've been there. Worst of all, it lasted about two years.
Thankfully, my husband and I had one thing going for us. No matter what, we've got this crazy passion for one another that keeps us alive. We are so in love, but often times, we struggled to keep that passion under control when it got angry.
Why being in love isn't enough.
I am SO in love with my crazy, European, stubborn, hunk of a man. But boy can he drive me NUTS! I know I am just as stubborn. He would tell you I'm more stubborn, but I highly doubt an American can be more stubborn than a German - it's just science.
So yeah, we are both stubborn which makes for some pretty interesting "discussions," but we've got the love! Why wasn't that enough?
I'll tell you. It all started with the good old fashioned "bad circumstances."
In every relationship, you have your strengths and your weaknesses. For us, we had drive, commitment, passion, and love, but we lacked communication - which caused arguments frequently and persistently. Some of you have great communication, which benefits your understanding, mutual respect, and lack of arguments; yet you seem to be missing passion.
Those of you who have it all, just go away. No one wants you here.
Just kidding. But really. You're exhausting.
What I'm saying is we ALL have something to work on in our relationships, so don't be discouraged if this is you.
I was there once, fighting and wondering when the love was going to outweigh the desire to not want to be around my husband.
For us, we had a few hard things that happened in our life, and because of our lack of good communication, our marriage suffered. Believe you me, I'm super good at communicating now. I can tell you exactly what you SHOULDN'T say to your spouse. I even wrote an article about it!
In fact, I've learned SO MUCH those crazy awful two years of my marriage, that I wanted to pass along my infinite wisdom - because guess what...we came out of it! Praise God! And honestly, it was only because of God that we did. If you invite God into your relationship, I can tell you this much - you'll have much more of a fighting chance.
Now that I've gotten completely off topic, let's get back to why love isn't enough.
If love were enough, I believe there would be a lot of people still married that aren't today.
"All you need is love?" I'm sorry, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, I don't agree.
Why? Um, off the top of my head, I'm pretty sure that commitment is needed. What happens when $*** hits the fan? Or what about grace - when $*** hits the fan? I believe a little respect and understanding should be thrown in there as well, right?
What I'm saying is, you can love someone, but at the same time have an awful relationship. I did at one point. So yeah, sure, all you need is love, but it probably won't be the most fulfilling or happiest of relationships.
Let me get to the crux of the matter.
If we really loved one another the way these verses speak of love, then we would be all set. Love really would be all we needed. But what has love morphed into these days? A self-fulfilling cesspool of needs needing to be met, and if they're not...screw you! I'm leaving!
But, if we go back to what love really is? Maybe, just maybe we could get somewhere. In fact, that's what I did. I said enough is enough. I said, "God, please don't let me give up!" Then, I got down from my high horse and pulled myself up by my bootstraps. I was ready to take this thing head on because that crazy, stubborn hunk of a German is worth it to me.
Is it worth it?
That's what you have to ask yourself. If your marriage worth it? Do you really think you'll be better off without him? If you're like me, then you realize you can't live with him, and you can't live without him - so why not live with him, but also have it be wonderful?
Here's what I did...because, after everything, we did start to lose one another. Our circumstances and selfishness got the better of us. What we thought would never happen to us, did. But guess what? I am living proof that it's NEVER too late to turn things around.
5 Things I did to win my man back
1. I stopped trying to control him.
I have control issues. Here's a whole other article I wrote on the matter. It's hard work to not be controlling. But it isn't as hard as controlling! Once, I, like Pharaoh, finally let my person go, I never looked back.
It took me awhile to get there, so make sure you check out my "Don't Eff This One Up," ritual I perform before communicating something difficult. For me, trying to control everything, including how we communicate, never got me anywhere.
2. I grew personally and spiritually.
This looks different for everyone, but for me, it meant doubling down in humility, lifting up those nasty rugs to clean that dirt I've been shoving under there for years, and face my issues head-on.
It helped me so much, that I wrote an ebook about it! If discovering your self-esteem is something that might interest you then subscribe here to make sure you're in the loop on when that comes out. Plus you get a cool guide I wrote on how to strengthen your relationship along with it.
So yeah, that was my biggest hurdle to overcome..my self-worth, self-esteem, self-love, whatever they call it these days. But like I said, growing personally/spiritually looks different for everyone, so whatever you have to do to look inside, self-reflect, and make sure you're doing your part - do that!
Not only will this enable you to be mentally healthy for yourself, it will, in turn, benefit your relationship.
3. I started to really try and discover what makes him tick.
A man loves it when you can give him these things. Just two things. With a billion other sub-things. Sub categories or ideas of ways you can be the wife you want to be. Trust me...you will want to read that list. It basically sums up what a guy wants. It's not easy, but if you want to do your part, then it's best to start there.
How awesome would it be if your husband got some list that was full of all of the things you would love for him to do. Wouldn't you appreciate him taking the time and effort to want to fulfill those desires you have? It's important to be humble for this one. I had to let a lot of things go that I needed, in order to see clearly as to what he needed.
In return, he started meeting my needs as well. It's the ever so popular love and respect cycle that every couple will benefit from.
4. I realized that respecting him was more important than anything else.
Respect comes in many forms and every guy feels respected differently. Just like you want love, he wants respect. In my opinion, this doesn't mean what most people think it means - making him a scotch, giving him a foot massage, and letting him fall asleep to his favorite T.V. show on the couch. Although, that might be a nice gesture. No, I'm not talking about the Mad Men type of respect, but rather the "I admire and look up to who you are," type of respect.
Yes, it is a choice to respect your husband. Just like he has to choose to show you, love. LOVE IS A CHOICE AND SO IS RESPECT!
There, I said it.
5. Last but not least - I gave him grace.
Ugh. Grace. It's so so very hard to give someone grace, especially if they have broken your trust. I have realized that trying to be like Jesus doesn't come easily or naturally. Grace is possibly the hardest gift to give in a relationship.
Not only will portraying grace to your spouse show him your desire to work through ANYTHING in your relationship, it will give you an amazing freedom in your own personal life. It goes hand in hand with letting go of control - you might start discovering what peace and joy actually feel like.
When we give someone grace we basically give them the greatest form of love. It's saying, "yeah, what you did hurt me, but I love you anyway." Now that's love.
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3 communication tips when talking about something sensitive and heartfelt.
Once again, you settle on the couch after a long days work to watch your favorite Netflix show. Your spouse is next to you, and then BAM! It hits you. This is it. This is your life. Not only are your work days are on repeat, you come home and are reminded that your home life is also...on repeat. So, you wrestle with your thoughts for a minute and that still small voice that's been nagging you for the past few years is steadily getting louder. 'There has to be more to this relationship.' or 'Is watching TV with my spouse every single night normal or beneficial? Why can't we do something more with our evenings together, or our lives for that matter?' It's getting so loud that if you don't immediately transform those thoughts into words, you just might burst.
Yes, we have all been there. It's mostly women who grow steadily unfulfilled when they sense something becoming redundant. I couldn't quite put my finger on why that is until I realized something. Women love to be pursued. Not just in a "hey babe, wanna go on a date?" kind of pursuing, but an everyday, active curiosity of who we are pursuing. If you're a free-spirited, emotional, sensitive, and opinionated soul like I am, you know this need. And when it's not met...we get restless. Redundancy gets under our skin, and if we feel as though our spouse has become complacent, which brings about the dreaded boredom of life, we sometimes resort to unhealthy communication.
So, what should we do when these thoughts and feelings come up to the forefront of our needs? Well, I can tell you one thing; it's easy in these situations to commit communication sabotage and before you know it, you wished with all your heart you had kept your mouth shut. But before you push it down and let it simmer even more or say something in a way that will send your home accesories flying, ask yourself these helpful questions.
Is this a good time to talk about it?
I can't tell you how many times I've said something, and immediately after, knew it was the wrong time to say it. My best efforts at using my words carefully or not sounding critical are put to waist faster than I can say, "@#$%" because no matter how well I communicate, it won't matter. It just wasn't a good time.
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How do we know when there's a good time to talk about what's on our hearts as opposed to the wrong time? Here are few pointers.
Don't talk about a heart issue that has been simmering for quite awhile immedietely after it happens again.
There is a time and a place to address something right away, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about that issue that started as a tiny little seed which was planted awhile ago, that has taken root and grown into the biggest effing ugly pumpkin you've ever seen. It's a thought like, 'there has to be more to this relationship' that deserves a bit of analizing before you voice it.
- Don't talk about a heart issue when your spouse is in a bad mood.
If you're sensing a Mr. Hyde sitting next to you that night, it's probably best to wait to discuss heavy heart matters.
- Don't talk about a heart issue when your emotions are high on anger.
Some of the best advice I received from my mentor was this. Figure out something physical you can do to try and keep yourself from spewing out your emotions. For her, it's literally putting her hand over her mouth to keep herself from talking. For me, on the other hand, I don't do that because I'm pretty sure my husband would think I'm a whack job. No, I squeeze my hands together as hard as I can. It takes the energy from the monster trying to escape me, to my poor hands who aren't able to talk, thankfully. Anyway, whatever you have to do to keep yourself from talking about something when you OR your partner are not at a good place, do it. Nothing good will come out of a conversation veiled in anger.
Have I thought through how I am going to say what I need to say?
Remember in high-school, when you had to present a book report to the entire class, but you wrote it based on reading a few pages here and there throughout the book? Well, maybe you weren't as lazy as I was. High-school for me was a time to mess around with my best friend. We would often find ourselves doing voiceovers of our fellow classmates, given our classroom was arranged in a circle. We had the perfect view of everyone. I would do a voice for Jimmy, while she would do one for Mr. Holtcamp . It was hilarious, and now that I think of it, we were pretty much simulating a real life, "Bad Lip Reading Class of 2005."
Sometimes, relationships are like that book report you wrote based on a book you didn't read. We say shit that we haven't studied for and end up getting a really bad grade, except not from the teacher, but from our spouse.
It's very important to do your homework on what you are going to say if it's a hard topic to discuss. Now that I know I need to do this, I have an actual ritual I perform before discussing something sensitive. And yeah, I call it a ritual. I got the idea from a book I read and my shortened version of it goes like this. You can really do this exercise for anything difficult you're going through, as it's a great tool for really digging deep as to why you feel the way you feel.
My "Don't eff this one up" ritual
First, in my journal, I write down the topic of my issue - Discussing...with my husband.
Then, I thank God that he has given me a husband, or thank him for something having to do with the specific trial. Yeah, always gratitude first, even when angry.
Next comes telling God how pissed I am with my husband, and sometimes, how angry I am at Him as well. Basically, I believe that God doesn't want us to hold our feelings from Him. He can handle it. He wants us to be real with him!
Then, I confess and ask God to show me what it is I need to work on in the situation. Oftentimes, I find that most of my anger is coming from my suppression of feelings. After expressing them to God, I don't feel the need to discuss it with my husband anymore. But sometimes, a conversation is still needed, except the anger and garbage from my mind has been addressed and I can better process what it is I need to say to him.
Is this a preference or an actual issue?
There is a difference between an issue that is an actual issue and something that is a preference. By that I mean, ask yourself, "Is this something I am just preferring to be different, or is it causing real damage to our relationship?" If you find that your issue is something you preferred were different, you need to come at it differently than if it's a real damaging issue.
An example of preferring something to be different could be this issue of watching Netflix every night. Sure, it's maybe not an ideal way of spending time with one another, but you are still spending time with one another. Know what I mean? If the other person, when dealing with a particular issue, isn't emotionally or physically causing you harm, then it's quite possible you should let it go as it's a preference. Voicing that you want to do something else sometimes is how you would address it, and leave it at that. How they react is on them. There's nothing wrong with voicing your needs. Just make sure there isn't a deeper issue at hand. Are those thoughts about your relationships being meaningless because of doing the same thing every night really true, or would you just prefer your circumstance to be different?
Many times, what we thought was this huge deal, and our lives are meaningless are just a fleeting moment. Hormones running high, stress, or not sleeping well. Sometimes they are more than that. That's why it's very important to first analyze your side of things before you go stirring the pot.
You'll be grateful you did.
Looking for a meaningful children's gift?
Every year, when it comes to buying a birthday gift for my son, I usually know exactly what I need to get. From the moment his last birthday ended, he has a complete list of ideas ready for his next birthday, and I get to hear about it EVERY SINGLE DAY for an entire year. If he isn't asking for a pet dinosaur, it's usually something like an expensive lego set that will most likely end us sitting on a shelf collecting dust a week after its built. While I love to get him what he wants, and I know I'll be in the doghouse if I don't, I also want to give him something memorable and lasting. Also, I just can't pull a pet dinosaur out of my butt, so I have to be a little more creative to distract him from what he's not getting. I first heard about Put Me in the Story while looking for a gift for my son's friend. This company puts customized names into popular children's books! For example, while reading Curious George to your son, it will come even more alive if they hear that they are in the story as well. Brilliant, right?
I've tried my hand at storytelling, but have never really been good at it. Loving my son as much as I do, I would have to resort to just simply putting him in a popular fairytale, and making him the hero. Since he had never heard the real story of Charlie and the Chocolate factory, he was BLOWN AWAY at the fact that I could come up with a story about him in such detail and imagination where he finds a golden ticket and inherits his very own chocolate factory. Little did he know, all I did was swap him out for Charlie. Goes to say, I wish I would have thought of this idea back when I had to tell my version of Elliott and the Chocolate Factory for the hundredth time. Put Me in the Story is quite the fantastic idea that will excite any kids imagination. What child doesn't want to hear that they are a hero or a princess and see it for themselves on the written pages.
I'm showing a few options here, but check out the website for yourself and see what you can find. It makes the perfect gift that is something other than the plastic, loud gifts most moms hate.
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Books for Boys
Books for Girls
Draw Really Cool Stuff - Book for kids on learning how to draw the right way
My son is a creative soul. He loves to create draw, and build. This book from Amazon is an AMAZING way to get your child to learn how to draw. Ever since Elliott starting suing this book, his technique has skyrocketed. It shows you with simple steps, how you get from a shape, to an amazing drawing. Check out this shark he did!
Everyone is a control freak to some extent
I was talking with my mentor recently, which opened my eyes to the fact that what I want to control in my life is completely different from what someone else wants to control. She shared with me some struggles she has in letting certain things go, and I thought to myself, 'wow, I don't care about those things at all.' Goes to say, we are all affected by different things and sometimes we don't even realize that we are in fact being...controlling about it. It's important to identify what you're trying to control in your life and learn how to work through it; otherwise, those problems will begin to control you.
As a woman, I find that my need to control might perhaps be ingrained in my DNA. Women for some reason feel the need to control their spouses and everything around them. Men love nothing more than to do everything they can not be controlled, even if it means becoming controlling themselves. It's a tangled web we weave, and I have been caught in that freaking mess more times than I care to admit. In essence, I am living in fear and not faith. I am not only hindering my own potential, I am making myself more miserable the more I try and control. Thankfully, I have already completed the first step. Let me share with you some tips on actually changing your mindset on control and what it means to live in faith and not fear.
1. Acknowledge that you have a problem with trying to control. In other words, own up to it.
What is the first step in AA? Admitting and accepting that you're an alcoholic. Am I comparing control to alcoholism right now? Yep! First things first. As hard as it is, in order to change, we need to first admit we have a problem and accept that it needs to be dealt with. If you can do this, well, you're on a good path already and there is hope. Humility is a virtue that only comes when you are willing to change, so yes, it's going to take some willpower as well.
2. Recognizing who can give you the strength to change.
I know, again with the AA stuff. But seriously, we have to also admit we can't do it on our own! Control, in a way, is an addiction. What's the definition of addiction according to Dictionary.com? The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. ... A physical or psychological need for a habit-forming substance.
There you have it. Control, if not dealt with, can become an addiction. Like anything for that matter. If we place too much weight on anything, give it control over our lives in spite of the negative impact it's having, we have let that become an addiction.
Control is all about doing things on your own time and your own terms. In overcoming the need fro control, you should steer clear of the ideal that you can shake this on your own. If you have a faith, then you know that you don't have control over the things or people in your life any more than a monkey does. Certain things, like whether or not we are going to apply for a job is something we can control. Whether we get that job isn't up to us. That doesn't mean you can just sit back and let God do all the work. No, it takes a step of faith on your part in following through what he is leading you to do. He wants us to recognize that worrying about our future, or what others might or might not do, is not going to do diddly squat. It's the difference between living out of fear or faith.
3. Find accountability.
It's one thing to say you will change, it's another to show you have changed. If you have someone in your life that you trust, let them know what it is you're wanting to do about your need to control. That way, when it gets hard, because it will, you have someone who can remind you and walk through that journey with you.
4. Figure out the WHY. Write it down.
Husbands, kids, finances, etc. All of these things can come crashing down at a moments notice because you don't know your future. Set yourself free by making a list of all of the things you need to let go of. It's crazy how this has worked for me. I went specifically in depth into each and every category of the things I want to control, wrote how I felt about them, whether it made me angry, sad or frustrated, and by the end of it I figured out the why! Sometimes we don't know why we want to control until we admit what is frustrating us so much about how we can't control it.
5. Let it go.
Many times when I come to a conclusion on what my WHY is, I realize a lot of it has to do with unforgiveness and mistrust. (Learn how to start the path to forgiveness in my healing from your past article.) Sometimes I have no idea what it comes from, and that's okay! I just know that with a few faith steps and trusting that God will get me through it, I can change. My need for control has in many ways brought my marriage to some very difficult points. Because I don't have control over my husband's actions, I live in fear of getting hurt, or him dying, you name it. You need to change your mindset from "I'm afraid that..." to "even if it happened, I would be okay because of..." For me, it's because I know that whatever I will go through, I have a God who loves me and will walk with me every step of the way. This isn't an easy concept to grasp, and I believe I will continue to learn the ins and outs of it until the day I die. So what can you do right now? Take the steps necessary for change, and follow through. If you fail, don't give up. Tomorrow is another day you have been given to try again.
6. Start with the little things.
Think about the little things that you try and control throughout your day. Is it that your husband is always late coming home from work? Your child keeps lying to you? You can't seem to pay off that debt that's been haunting you for years? Whatever it is, write down how it frustrates you and why, and then write how you want to react instead of your past "Why are you always home late?" comments that get you nowhere except a big blown out fight. Remember, you can't change your husband or your kids, but you can change how you react to an unfortunate situation. That doesn't mean you shouldn't voice what it is that's bothering you, but by processing it first, it will come out with a communication that isn't going to send your spouse or kids immediately into defense mode. Once you start having success on the easier problems in your life that you want to control, you can begin to work on the bigger things. You will start feeling a sense of freedom from those need for control actions that have held you captive over the years. You'll start to accept the fact that your husband is home late sometimes and it's okay. When it becomes a problem, you will then know how to communicate better, so that your husband will hear you and not want out from under your reign of control. Do you see how that works together?
7. Practice makes perfect.
It wasn't until I really followed through on writing down my control issues and working through them that I began to succeed in accepting that I can't control certain things. Like anything in life, it takes time. First, you have to want to change. I know for me, I was so sick of being ruled by living in fear that I knew I had to do something about it or I would go crazy. It was keeping me from enjoying life and stealing my joy. I just wasn't having it anymore. I still try and control things. Ask my poor husband. I'm not perfect and neither will you be. We all have our quirks and struggles, but even taking a step as to say, "I need to change in this," is a huge accomplishment.
How To Better Communicate What We Want to Say To Our Spouse
Do you ever regret what you said, either because it came out ten times worse than what you thought it would, or it just wasn't thought through? Yeah, been there. I was thinking the other day of the things I say that cause me to get in an argument with my husband, and if there was a way to shut myself up from saying something I'll regret before I said it. So, I came up with a list of common things that are said in relationships that could be transformed into a useful tool of communication. You see, it's good to express how you feel and say what you need to say, but it's how we say it that often leaves us in the gutter. Communication, as you know, is key to having a thriving and well-balanced relationship.
It's quite possible that we use unhealthy tactics in order to try and convince the other person to see our point of view without even knowing it.
Here are some unhealthy tactics we use in everyday arguments
1. The Hopeless Tactic.
Don't say - "I don't believe you."
Trust is one of the most important things in a relationship, if not the most important. When the trust is broken, it can be quite the hurdle to overcome that will have to be taken on by both parties; the one who broke the trust and the one who got hurt. While it is important for the one who broke the trust to show transparency and prove that they are trustworthy, it is also important for the one who got hurt to communicate that it isn't always easy to trust again, while giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. If we use ultimatums that express hopelessness, it may prove difficult for the one who broke the trust to believe you will ever see them as trustworthy. Perhaps you can give them the benefit of the doubt, but when you can't, how should you express it in a way that is letting that person know you have hope to trust again but you're just struggling?
Say - "I really want to believe you, but I'm having a hard time."
If you're struggling to trust or forgive someone, read here for my article about healing from your past. There are some great steps to take in forgiveness. If you can't forgive, the trust will never begin to form. You will never forget when trust has been broken, but by forgiving you can finally put it behind you and begin to heal yourself and your relationship.
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2. Putting fuel on the fire tactic.
Don't Say - "You're overreacting" or "You're out of control."
In any relationship where two people care about one another, things are bound to get heated. It's normal, and some might say, it's a good thing. Arguing can be a healthy way to clear the air, but only if done appropriately. In the heat of the moment, this is unequivocally easier said than done, and before you both know it you're in a full-blown fight. One of the worst things to say is " you're out of control," or anything that hints that the other person is beginning to head in a heated direction. The last thing they need to be told is that what they are feeling and saying is invalid. It may be true that they are getting a little too fiery, but what should be said in order to bring things down, instead of fuel it up?
Say - "I understand you're upset, but it seems like you're getting frustrated. Should we take a break and revisit this after we've cooled down?"
Not only will this make them realize they need to cool it, it won't completely neglect what they are trying to communicate. Taking a break when things are getting out of control is possibly the best thing you can do. It may not be the easiest, but trust me, it helps.
3. The assuming tactic.
Don't say - "What's wrong?"
One of the most common things said in any relationship is "what's wrong?" I find myself saying it before I realize it. The motive behind it is not necessarily amiss, it's perhaps the fact that it is automatically making an assumption, and the receiving party will most likely begin to put up their defenses. So, what should we say instead that doesn't assume something is wrong, but rather shows our real intention behind the question, which is, "I care about you."
Say - "Is everything okay?"
Yep, that's it. You are basically asking the same exact thing, but something completely different. It's not assuming, it's assuring them that you are there, ready to hear what is on their heart.
4. The avoiding tactic.
Don't say - "Nothing." when asked if everything is okay.
I do this ALL the time and will admit if I don't want to talk about something, it's the first thing I say. Avoiding it altogether is sometimes easier than saying, "yeah somethings up, but I don't want to talk about it." It can send a red flag to the other person who is a bit too eager to find out what they did to upset you, but then in essence that becomes their problem if they can't accept that. So, yes, you need to say...
"Yes, something's bothering me, but I don't want to talk about it just yet. Can we talk about it later?"
They then have the responsibility to respect your decision not to talk about it quite yet. They need to, by you saying, "not just yet," be reassured that what is going on will be revisited and nor ignored or shoved under the rug. It's not healthy to display your frustration about something without expressing to your partner what's up. But needing time to process it and consider what needs to be said is probably the best option at the time. Most miscommunications and arguments come from talking about something that isn't near ready to be discussed.
5. The giving up tactic.
Don't say - "I'm done" or "it's over!"
Sure, we've all been there. At the end of our ropes, not really knowing what to do about the dire situation our relationship is in. When we feel fear of something happening we react one of two ways. Fight or flight. When our emotions are in full swing, flight is usually the one that seems ideal, so we go into "protection of our heart" mode and the only way out is...well, out. After things have cooled down and you have said some more things you shouldn't, you realize you don't actually want out, you want a resolution to a problem and your emotions got the better of you. What should we have said that we can take note on for next time that expresses how we feel, but doesn't hurt the other person?
Say - "I'm not feeling so great about how things are between us. I would like if we can figure out a way to work through this because I'm having a hard time."
Again, it's important to express how you feel. After all, there is something that has happened between the two of you that caused you to react that way, and ignoring it won't solve anything. Relationships are HARD and take a lot of work. It's no news to you. So, if your partner is not willing to work through the tough stuff, you at least can do that for yourself. Hopefully, they are willing to get counseling or do whatever it takes but don't let the deeper issues in your relationship or your heart fester.
6. The ALWAYS or NEVER Tactic
Don't say - "You're always or never..."
In the heat of it, you say it. I do it, we all do it. Again, our emotions take over and we resort to ultimatums that not only dismantle everything the other person has ever done that is good or right but also makes them feel hopeless. For myself, I know that if I have really tried to change in something, take steps to do so, fail once, then the other person plays the "you NEVER" card, it can feel detrimental and hopeless. Again, what we are trying to say isn't necessarily wrong, but it's all in how we say it.
Take for example, if a husband has the tendency to not think about taking his wife on regular dates, and the wife has to mostly pursue it, she may get frustrated. In response to this, she says, "You NEVER take me on dates or EVER care about what I need," She may feel that way and it's valid to her, but how she communicated it wasn't the best. The husband will most likely respond defensively and an argument will surface. So what should she have said?
Say - "I would love to start going on regular dates with you, but I feel like it's not something on your mind. Am I wrong?"
They will most likely respond with "Of course you're wrong! I would love to do that as well." So then you should say...
"Okay great! I would love it if you would start asking me sometimes. It makes me feel special."
Express what you need, but don't attack by going to ultimatums that will only cause strife.
7. The blame shifting tactic.
Don't say - "You do that too!" in response to someone addressing something you did that hurt them.
No one likes to be criticised or held accountable for something they did, but it takes good character and humility to own up to it, even if what they did wasn't intentional. You see, we can easily say that because we didn't "mean" to, we didn't. Unfortunately, the other person doesn't see it that way. You did something that hurt them, and they are expressing that to you. The worst thing you could say in response is, "You do that too!"
Sure, it may be true that they do unto you as you do unto them, but this is the wrong place and time to express that. So, what should we say?
Say - "I'm sorry I hurt you with what I did. What can I do differently next time?"
Blame shifting will never accomplish anything. You will then go back and forth, round and round, hurt one another, and get nowhere. Sometimes we just need to own up to something, and just because we didn't intend to hurt the other person, doesn't mean we didn't hurt them or do something wrong.
Relationships take time and effort from both parties. I hope that opening up your eyes to some dysfunctional tactics you might be using will help you express what you need without complications to follow.
I would love to hear if you have communication tips to share!
Ladies, read more about how to better relate to your spouse by gaining awareness of what he needs.
When I was young, my mother always made an effort for us to be sitting down around the table together by six o clock. Most memories I have from when I was a kid are that from the dinner table. We would share how our day went, talk about how life was going, and just unwind from a crazy day. Sure, it wasn't always perfect, but it was a common space, a neutral place for us all to gather and share about our lives. I am so grateful for this example my mom made happen in my younger years. It has taught me to also make an effort in my family to keep the tradition alive, even if it takes an extra effort on my part.
Why are family meals so important?
As humans we associate specific memories with taste, smell, touch and all of the five senses. Food is something that ignites those senses and makes a basis to which memories are centered around. When those memories are good ones, you can bet that when the smell or the name of a meal comes up from your past, you are immediately taken back to that memory, and caused to think about and reminisce on. So, how perfect is it to create an environment around food that is positive and encouraging for your family at a mealtime together that will stick with them for their entire lives? Unfortunately, this can go both ways. If those meal times are spent fighting, then it could possibly become a relation to negative memories. All the more reason to make the moments special and positive for everyone involved.
How to plan ahead and set yourself up for success
Life is busy, crazy and complicated. You know that. You experience it every day. So how is it you're supposed to make time to prepare a meal, set the table, and coerce everyone else into coming and sitting down at a specific time? My best advice is to make a plan. A meal plan in particular.
Make a meal plan for the whole week, and shop accordingly.
It will save you so much time and effort to prepare beforehand. It will also encourage you to not skip out on making a meal, knowing you will possibly be throwing food away what isn't utilized. Keep it simple and whole, as to not stress yourself out.
Make yummy food that everyone will want to eat
Be intentional about your questions at the dinner table
Don't ask rhetorical questions like "Did you have a good day?" but rather, "What happened today that was funny?" or interesting, or scary. How are they treating other kids? How are other kids treating them? Show genuine interest in their day's with asking questions that lead to more than a yes or no.
Make your kids help with setting the table, cooking, or cleaning up
My little guy loves to cook with me. It not only gives us something to experience together, but also helps him with his motor skills, learning how to cut veggies in a safe environment, and preparing him to take care of himself someday. Wouldn't it be great not to have to worry about your son eating nothing more than ramen every day in college?
Having your kids help with chores and cleaning up, will enable them to succeed in something while also learning that they aren't entitled. It will teach them discipline, responsibility and awareness that life isn't always easy. We live in a society that is continually moving towards self-gratification instantaneously. We are moving away from taking time to make healthy and whole meals, towards shortcuts which leads to processed foods, and unhealthy choices.
Don't expect perfection
I know it's hard when expectations aren't met, but it's important to have grace for yourself and your family in these moments as well. Life happens, and just because you don't get to sit down every single day to a meal together, doesn't mean you are a bad mom, or that your family is falling apart. Some days we are just so tired (usually Friday nights) that we end up baking a frozen pizza and watching a documentary together while eating off of our coffee table. These memories are some of the best ones I have! So cut yourself, and everyone else some slack if things don't go according to plan every single time. That's also a part of creating a good environment when it comes to family time. You don't want your kids to get the impression that they need to please mom, and that's the only point of family meals. You want it to be something they want as well.
What your husband wants you to know more than anything
Did you know that one of your spouses deepest desires is to be your hero?
Did you also know that most men, when they walk out the door to go to work, in their deepest of fears, hope that no one will ever find out what a failure they are?
Go ahead, ask your husband. What is their most significant desire, and what is their greatest fear? You will gain a lot of awareness with those two questions, even if it's not exactly that.
I have learned in my eight years of marriage, that I have a lot of influence on how my husband feels about himself.
I will admit, my lack of understanding about men and how they think has left me at a disadvantage in a lot of ways. The longer I'm married, discovering the mysteries of who my husband is and the more intel I draw from our experiences together, the more I realize just how little I know and how little I apply.
Applying is where it gets difficult. In all honesty, most of this guidance is unfortunately given on behalf of my failures. I hope you can learn from my mistakes.
It may prove to be difficult if in your marriage you have a hard time respecting your husband, or if you are feeling a lack of love from him. It's hard to push past those feelings of neglect and try to see your man as some kind of hero.
If you are having a difficult time in your marriage, but want it to get better, then try and put on a brave face. Put on those rose-colored glasses when you look at him and give it a whirl. Try these tips for a week, at least, and see if things don't start to take a turn for the better.
Whether you are struggling in your marriage, or it's as right as rain, I hope these guidances can beckon a new experience for you both.
This post contains affiliate links - By purchasing from one of my book recommendations, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I would never recommend something I don't stand behind and absolutely love. Thanks for your support in helping me do what I love!
These tips will not be helpful if you are going through any kind of emotional, physical or mental abuse. Please seek immediate help if that is the case.
1. Tell him you're proud of him.
Part of feeling like your hero is knowing he is caring and providing for you, not only financially but also emotionally. Provision is one of man's deepest desires in succeeding for his family and knowing he is not failing.
Even though he may never express this to you verbally, he is, by going to work every day, expressing it to you with his actions.
You see, men are not wired the same way we are if you haven't already noticed. They sometimes have a hard time separating the emotional from the physical.
In our minds, we are needing more than a paycheck every day. Sure it's great to have money coming in, but for most of us women, this isn't where true intimacy lies in our relationship. We are needing attention, understanding, to be told we are beautiful and enough. For most men, they don't see it that way; to be emotionally present is also to be financially stable.
So, what is our part in assuring him of his efforts, even though they don't meet the exact expectations we have?
As women, we have a tendency to let our spouses know when they are doing something wrong, but neglect to acknowledge when they do something right. If this is a habit of yours, over time they might just give up trying to please you, thinking that you can never be satisfied; in their minds, they have done everything possible.
It's important for you to examine your actions in this. I know for some of you, you can't think of a single thing your husband does right. If that's the case, the first thing you should do is dig deep and figure out if those unmet expectations are a result of you having too high of standards, or if it is in fact that they are really never succeeding.
Many times, we get so caught up in what isn't going right, instead of what IS going right. Not only will recognizing the good in your life cause your thoughts to become more positive and therefore bring joy to you personally, it will cause you to see our husband in a different light.
I know that a lot of people say that relationships should be about your happiness and expectations being met. But what if our expectations can never be met? What if we are causing our own unhappiness by the expectations and standards we set for others, and then when they aren't met we are devastated?
I believe that if we start acknowledging their efforts in the little things, like going to work, they will see that they are pleasing you in some way and in return want to meet more and more of your needs. By you meeting his needs of seeing him as your hero, he will in return meet yours. After all, its truly brings a man joy when he can be your hero, and even more when you show him that he is.
2. Don't expect the worst of him.
Along the lines of showing him you're proud of him, it is also on us to not always expect the worst from them. That means, expect the best, even if his previous actions have proven otherwise. For some of you, this is SO HARD if you've operated out of thinking the worst for a long period of time.
You see, whatever your specific struggle is in your marriage, (for everyone that's different) it is the hardest in those circumstances to be expecting the best. If you've been let down time and time again it's only human to keep expecting the worst. But there is hope. How?
First of all, thinking it doesn't mean it's true, and also doesn't mean we need to voice it. This is SO hard for me.
I tend to think that my husband needs to know exactly what it is I'm thinking so that he can better understand me. But the truth is, he won't always understand me and it will most likely cause an argument if I tell him one more time that I'm dissapointed that he didn't follow through.
Goes to say, if he screws up, don't let him know that you didn't believe he would succeed in the first place. Give him another chance.
Maybe, just maybe if you show him grace when he fails, then he would want all the more to repay that grace with following through the next time.
3. In the midst of an argument don't try and win the fight for once.
One of the hardest things to do in the middle of an argument is to pause, take a deep breath, possibly walk away to go pray or think, and give it up.
If you're anything like me, there is nothing I hate worse then not being heard or understood.
It frustrates me to no end, but over time I have learned that the more I fight back trying to get my point across the more he fights back. It goes nowhere, leads to a ruined day, possibly a resolve after we've completely damaged one another, and ends up doing more harm than good.
In essence, I can't change him and the more I try, the more I fail. Men HATE it when you try and change them. We also hate it when they try and change us!
In moments where you want to smack some sense into him, don't. Say something like, "I'm going to take a break and go think, so maybe we can work this out after we've taken a step back." Check out some of my tips on better communication here.
Your emotions and feelings in the midsts of an argument can very easily end up ruling your mind and actions if you don't give them time to settle down. And believe it or not, emotions and feelings are sometimes FALSE!
You will only realize this when you calm down and take a step back to access the situation. Believe me, I have been there and done that TOO MANY TIMES. As much as I hate to admit it, when I take steps to control my feelings, figure out the root cause of why I am feeling the way I am feeling, I can, in love and RESPECT, better express myself.
Sometimes, that means letting it go and apologizing for the percentage of the issue that I need to take responsibility for. In most cases, letting it go and apologizing makes him see my point of view. Funny how that works.
4. Show him respect.
This also goes hand in hand with telling and showing him you're proud of him. Every guy is different, so every guy feels respect in a different way. It could be helpful to ask how your spouse how he feels respected.
The modern-day woman doesn't really want to acknowledge respect, because in our minds it has taken on a bad light.
Unfortunately, some men have abused and misused that word to gain some sort of rule over women, but respect in and of itself isn't negative, it's honorable. It doesn't mean an unhealthy submission to do anything and everything he wants, but is rather figuring out how he likes to be loved. In fact, respect for a man translates to love.
Love & Respect is a great book, even if you aren't religious, and it points out in detail how in the same way you need love, he needs respect.
5. Tell him what a great father he is.
Sometimes we think they don't need to hear things like this, but again, our words can make or break a man. He needs to hear he is a good father just like you need reassurance you are a good mother.
This is an area in his life he might be a bit vulnerable, especially if his relationship with his father was difficult. Pay attention to where he is successful with fatherhood and make sure he knows it with a word of encouragement. I guarantee this will bring out the hero in your man.
6. Encourage an outlet or hobby.
I really struggled and still do with this one. My husband loves video games, I don't. You get the picture. But it's what he likes to do! It makes him happy and gives him an outlet to relieve stress while giving me time to be alone and unwind.
It's perfectly normal and healthy for couples to have alone time. If you're a stay at home mom, this may be hard to always accept. I know for me when I go through seasons where I am at a home all day dealing with kids or being alone, it's the highlight of my day to see my husband walk through the door. 'Finally, a person to talk to,' I think. Little did I know I was putting an immense amount of pressure on my husband to fill a void he wasn't always able to fill by expecting him to ALWAYS spend time with me.
It's important for you to find hobbies or things you enjoy by yourself and not wait for your spouse to meet every need of entertainment in your life. If your spouse has a high-stress job, or if he is constantly around people, he may be feeling the exact opposite as you are when he gets home from work or has time off.
He may need moments now and then to be alone and just do something for himself. But a forewarning - communication is absolutely key here.
Coming to an understanding about time/boundaries of when those moments are, or how often they occur is VERY important. What helped us was making a schedule for the nights we have together and the nights we are alone. Knowing ahead of time what to expect for how your evenings play out will avoid a lot of issues while making sure you each get time for yourself.
7. Tell him you're attracted to him.
My husband is so handsome that I don't think he needs to always hear it from me. Surely he knows full well he is attractive. Nope! He still needs to know his wife thinks he's a hunk! Men are way more insecure than they will ever let you know. Tell him he looks nice before he goes to work. Compliment specific features that you love about him.
8. Tell him you need him.
Men need to be needed!
I don't buy into the notion that men are simple. They might say they are uncomplicated, logical, sensible or unemotional, but deep down lies many needs and emotions that in my opinion, are sometimes explained in illogical ways.
The difference between them and us is that we tend to overemphasize our needs, while men don't open up much at all. That makes it hard for us to really know what it is they need. They tend to have this underlying code, and if we don't decipher what they are saying, best of luck.
Them thinking they are simple could be because they don't voice the deepest and most intimate details of their mind. We, on the other hand, make sure we don't miss any nook or cranny of our thoughts left unsaid.
So how do I know that men need to be needed? Sometimes I have caught myself in the middle of an argument overemphasizing all the things I need and get nowhere! Then I realized I just needed him, so I voiced that. I said, "I just need you." His persona turned from being on the defense to that of understanding. All blame was taken off him, so he was then able to understand what exactly it was I needed from him. Just him.
Being needed is never a negative thing in anyone's eyes. Remeber, one of mans sole purposes is to provide, and being needed just goes hand in hand with that. So don't let it go unsaid!
I think we as women have the tendency to think our spouses don't need things we need, like being told we are pretty, or loved, or needed. In my experience, it couldn't be more false. Thankfully my husband has opened up and let me in a little, without seeming "overly emotional," of course, so that I could get a glimpse of some things I can do to not only make him feel like my hero but feel like he is doing something right. Don't get me wrong, I fail almost every day in it, but having knowledge of it helps me to just keep working on my part in the relationship and stop thinking he is always the problem. It is NOT our responsibility to make one another happy. It is our responsibility to love, respect, and work on our own problems. Treat him as if he is your hero, and I see what happens. He might just become your hero.
How to make your kids feel more loved - 5 easy and amazing tips
Are you looking for ways to connect with your children? Read and discover how to meet your kids where they are.
I have always been so hard on myself as a mother. It's good in a way because I know that I won't ever let myself settle for what my child deserves. It's hard at times because I lay awake some nights, wishing I had reacted differently, and then obsess about how guilty I feel. Holding yourself accountable is good. Not forgiving yourself is bad. We all make mistakes, and the more we can admit to ourselves and our children that we are in fact not perfect, the better.
Modeling perfection is the worst thing we could do as parents.
I have said this many times, and I will keep on saying it. God doesn't hold you or I or anyone to a standard of perfection, so neither should you. If you start having this mindset, you will start having more grace from yourself, your children, your spouse, or that old neighbor lady who gives you just one look and causes you to start judging yourself. Remembering that others, as well as yourself, will make mistakes and we are all falling short of perfection.
Now I'll get to the tips on how being more human and imperfect can actually help your child feel more loved. These are my personal opinions on matters of childrearing, but it doesn't mean I'm always right! Figure out what is best for you and your children. These are just some ideas on what I have experienced as a mother, and ways I have seen my son change in behavior if I really figure out what is going on in his heart.
1. First things first, admit you were wrong or that you made a mistake and ask for forgiveness.
For some reason, this comes pretty easy to me when it comes to my child, but when admitting I'm wrong to my husband, however; No way. Back to that quote. How can I expect to show my child that God loves him in spite of his mistakes if I can't even admit that I make mistakes? It is so important that your child sees you aren't perfect. It will make them feel understood, loved, and want to model your example of admission of wrong and asking for forgiveness.
In my opinion, asking forgiveness is just as crucial as saying you're sorry. It guides them to take action on their part as well and forgive. If we don't teach them how to forgive, then we aren't doing our job in preparing them not to hold grudges, which in turn will hinder them in all kinds of ways. You want them to also admit their own wrongs in their life, not only to you but their friends, their teachers, and down the road their future spouses.
2. From the moment they are born, listen to their hearts.
What do I mean when I say listen to their hearts? I mean, do your absolute best to in making sure they know you are listening to them not only with your ears but with your responses. It's so easy to go off to Never Mommy Land and start drifting into your happy cloud (that glass of wine you get to have later while watching This is Us) as your child is telling you for the hundredth time that he knows what ten times ten is. Again, give yourself grace if you screw up, but if you have to, admit you were wrong and apologize.
My son knows when I'm not listening and his response is always, "Mommy, you don't care what I'm saying!" It breaks my heart, and I snap back into the reality that he just wants my love, attention, and for me to be proud of the fact that he does, in fact, know how to do the math. Here are few tips within my tips on how to understand their spongey little hearts.
- Acknowledge that they are talking by engaging in the conversation and not asking rhetorical questions.
- Even if their interests don't interest you, it doesn't mean you get a pass to disengage.
- Ask them how they feel, whether they are having a good day, or if they need anything from you. Just show that you care.
- If they don't feel like talking, don't force them, but bring it up again later, when they are up for sharing.
- Don't only engage with them on things you want to talk about, or with questions that you ask. Look for those precious moments when they start talking and sharing with you all on there own and treat it like it's the greatest treasure in the world.
- Pray for them and see if they want to pray as well. There is nothing more special than our prayer times before bed or before heading to school.
- Ask them what is going on in their hearts. Start referring to their feelings as their hearts. "What does your heart feel right now?" or "Is your heart having a hard time obeying?" When they associate their feelings with they're hearts, they can begin to understand to start protecting their heart's by not letting it become bitter or holding onto things that will ultimately scar them.
- Teach them to forgive, even if it isn't asked for. I will never forget the moment I picked my son up from school, and he told me what he had learned that day. He said, "I learned today that if someone hurts you, then it leaves a mark on your heart. If you don't get the mark off by forgiving even if they don't ask for it, it will just keep hurting you." My heart exploded. What a great thing to understand about forgiveness. It was a moment when I needed to apply that to my own life as well.
- Make sure they know just how much God loves them, by modeling His love for them. They are at an age where they don't quite understand the concept of love. They need you to guide them and show them what love is. Be so very careful with this privilege. It is so easy for your children to associate your love with God's love. So, if it's not good, then their relationship with God will be affected. All you have to do is love God yourself and make sure they know it while letting them come to you and open up to you about their relationship with God. Forcing them to talk about God will only push them away. Ultimately it has to be their decision to want to have a relationship with Him in the first place. If they don't, then that's their decision to make. But when they are little ones, you have the upper hand in showing them that a relationship with God isn't a burden, but a blessing. Don't make them feel like it's a chore or something they have to do.
3. Make being home for them feel safe, peaceful and fun.
This one is probably the hardest for me, and that's also very hard to admit. It's hard because life happens. I get busy, so I put off one on one play time. I get in arguments with my husband, and that most likely doesn't feel peaceful to them. I put cleaning the house before engaging with my son. That's definitely no fun for them. I go through seasons of depression which ultimately affects my son negatively. You name it. Life gets in the way of making him feel safe, peaceful, and cared for. Again, have grace for yourself and tomorrow is always another day to do better. I guess I should make this a tip in what not to do when it comes to my success rate on this one, but I'm learning. I now know that the more I work on a healthy relationship with my husband, and taking care of myself, the more I can be there for my son. So how does that work?
- Make it safe - Avoid arguments in front of your children. I know, that's hard to do, but do your best. My son has told me before that it makes him have a bad day if I have a bad day. You can't always avoid bad days, but also do your best to separate the two. If need be, have someone watch your kiddos that day and take time for yourself. Also, don't feel guilty if you have them watch movies during that time if there is no one to watch them.
- Make it peaceful - If you have an addiction, a depression problem, are abusive, or are in an abusive relationship, then get help! Your problems WILL become your kid's problems, and they will start thinking that they need to fix your problems. Don't be selfish. I had to learn this the hard way. I struggle with depression, and the moment I realized it was affecting my family in a very negative way, was the moment I got a counselor and the help I needed. I woke up to this when my son started consoling me as I was crying my eyes out. NOT the responsibility of a 5-year-old. I'm not talking about a bad day now and then, but if it becomes a way of life, then that's where something needs to change. Whatever you're going through, you aren't alone, and there is always someone willing to help. Feel free to contact me if you need to, and I can set you up with the right resources.
- Make it fun - I want to do my very best in making my son feel like he can have fun at home as well as out and about. Plan different activities for the week. Go to a movie, go to the park, or on a nature walk. Play dates are good. Build something together, like a fort. Make little movies on your phone. Have a movie and popcorn night. When it comes to running errands with your kids, be creative and let them pick out a treat at the grocery store, or have a reward waiting when they get home if they can be patient. Make them apart of your life in a good way. Just remember, part of life is learning to wait, which means your kids need to learn this as well. I've always found that if I spend quality time with my son before getting my stuff done, it shows him that I put him first.
4. Put God first, husband second, and kids third
There are so many people who put their kids first, but it all goes back to what I wrote in "Making it peaceful." Let's just admit it. If your relationships with God and your husband aren't at the right place, then your kids will suffer. You won't be able to concentrate on them because you will be more engaged with how mad you are in your husband. Believe me; I've been there. Ultimately they will feel more loved when they know that you and your spouse are okay, so putting this before your kids is better for them. Also, nurturing your relationship with God will ultimately help you, which will, in turn, help them.
5. Last but not least, discipline them.
Oh boy, I hate this one, but it is so necessary. I'm the softy in the family, so it's hard for me to see my son struggle. I want him just to be happy. But sometimes making them "happy" isn't always the best. Your kids have no idea what is right and wrong. They need direction. If you don't give them direction and run wild on choice, they will end up ruling the roost. If you give them no choice at all, they will grow up and possibly resent you. Let's have a balance, shall we? I have erred on the side of choice too often, and it has now has me in a difficult position. My son knows how to manipulate me, but when it comes to my husband, no way. It's frustrating because I've noticed that when my husband asks him to do something, he does it, most of the time. If I do, it's like asking a gorilla to attend my tea party. The surprising thing is, he adores my husband! What!? When you discipline your kids, it doesn't make they will hate you? No, it makes them respect and obey you, which will ultimately make life just better all around for everyone. What discipline looks like is up to you, as long as it's not abuse. Knowing your kid well will help you understand what method works best. For us, it's taking away privileges like video games, screen time, a special toy or CANDY!