connecting Four steps to a closer relationship – how do we talk when we feel like we’re growing apart? Remember that you’re not alone. Many couples experience loneliness even though they’re together. My marriage of 32 years has gone through these phases. I know national speakers on marriage enrichment who have shared the same experiences. Here are some ways to help: 1 Tell your spouse you need to talk, and plan an hour together where you can be uninterrupted. 2 Be honest and tell your spouse how you feel about your marriage. 3 Agree to refrain from judging each other. Paraphrase what your spouse is saying so you know you have heard correctly. 4 You’re going to uncover things that irritate you, but you’re also going to uncover feelings of hurt or anger. Own up to your failings and ask for forgiveness. 5 Come up with two concrete things to help you grow closer again. Repeat these steps for four weeks in a row. Be responsible to your marriage and be patient with your spouse. Remember, winter precedes spring – but springtime will come. If you’re spinning your wheels and not making progress, don’t give up. Go see a marriage counselor. Marriage counseling can give you a fresh perspective. I know from experience!
money How to protect your credit score Everyone has a credit report – a documented history of your borrowing, available credit, and how you handle every monthly payment. Your credit score is the most vital statistic lenders use to determine whether you’ll get that loan for your home, car, or other purpose. Protect your credit score! It’s the key – not only to your borrowing ability – but also to the rate of interest at which you borrow. Remember interest, the eighth wonder of the world? Virtually everyone can get a loan, but risk means rates to a lender. Everyone does not get the lowest rate advertised. On a short-term loan, it may not mean much. But on a mortgage, it can mean affordability. The monthly payment on a 30-year, $150,000 mortgage for someone with good credit is $899 per month at 6% interest. For someone with poor credit, at 9.5% interest, the payment jumps to $1,261. Ouch! Pay your bills on time, don’t borrow too much, and don’t max out credit cards. Protect your family’s ability to borrow by watching your credit score.
romance Romancing the years – love can be lovelier the second time around Second marriage couples bring a lot of history to the marriage relationship. Sometimes a second marriage was occasioned by the death of a previous spouse, sometimes by a divorce and annulment. These couples may find themselves revisiting any of the other four stages, and often more than one at a time. They may also be thrown into any one stage for the very first time. Some may have never had a truly romantic partner before, or they must face becoming an instant stepparent. Unlike newlyweds in first marriages, second marriage couples may have very little time alone together, since they often have blended families. They need to receive a lot of encouragement and family support. They use what they’ve learned in the past, but avoid living in the past. They learn to adjust on many different levels. Finally, they get excited and express gratitude about being given a second chance to explore intimacy with someone special. Now that we’ve explored the various romantic stages of marriage, consider these questions for discussion: How successful are we at adapting romantically to different stages of marriage? What can I do to bring more romance and intimacy into our marriage today?
time Make time to listen – your spouse will thank you Ask first – speak second. When arriving home or coming together after work, don’t begin with a litany of daily woes from your workplace. Instead, ask your spouse about his or her day, and be truly and genuinely interested in how the day went. If your spouse’s day was upsetting, honoring her by allowing her to talk first will deepen your marriage relationship. When your spouse is allowed to talk first, and you learn what happened in his day, you may find that your own problems pale in comparison. Asking first and speaking second will garner you a more attentive audience. Time Tip: To keep from derailing your concentration, and free up more time to spend with your family, read and respond to e-mail only at specific times. If you don’t have the willpower to ignore the “new mail” signal, then turn off the sound or leave your e-mail program closed.
prayer Blended Family’s Prayer She: God of all people, we find ourselves together as a family. You chose each of us to live and move and have our being in you. He: You foreknew that we would be living together, a blended family. As this family, make of us something new that has not been before. She: When we are tempted to take sides, smooth rough edges and ruffled feathers; Bring your peace and love. Help us grow in love of one another, as you love us. He: Just as a tapestry is woven of many threads into beauteous whole, We ask you to weave us together that our family may be whole and beautiful. We know we are all your children in your Son, Jesus Christ, and, as such, owe you our loyalty and respect. She: May we show each family member the same loyalty and respect. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.