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Showing posts from October, 2018

Money Matters

When we were newly married, Paul asked me if I would mind if he took care of paying all our bills. I literally said, “Oh thank God!” I felt relieved I wasn’t responsible for making sure our rent, utilities, and car payments were paid. I also felt secure knowing that part of our monthly income would be put aside as savings for retirement and buying a house.

It didn’t take long for us to realize our spending (and saving) habits were quite different. I grew more and more frustrated whenever Stephanie went “over budget” on groceries, gifts, and unexpected items like portraits of the children – which weren’t in the budget at all!
Over time I began to feel restricted when it came to spending money. I saw a budget as a set of guidelines that I “tried” to follow. For Paul, it was much more black and white. Our plan of managing money was causing friction between us. I felt more and more controlled and Paul became increasingly frustrated when we didn’t stick to our budget. Something had to chang…

We Come First

Marriage is hard, I don't care who you are. That's why we write this blog, and that's probably why you're reading it. The fail rate on marriages is way too high. How did things get so screwed up? How do we build a better "us", rather than letting our marriage take the slow slide into a hole we can't climb out of? We propose this: we have to put "us" (our marriage relationship) first.
   The biggest obstacle to keeping our marriage a priority was our wonderful kids. It wasn't their fault. Our obsession with them and every detail of their lives left little time for us. There were times during their middle and high school years when the calendar was so full that we didn't know if we were coming or going. On our WorldWide Marriage Encounter weekend, we heard the idea of "keeping our relationship a priority" by using the tool they called "Re-evaluation". (Click here to find some helpful info on how to Re-evaluate together …

Opposites Attract?

While out for dinner recently, we placed our order with the server and once again said, “Opposites attract!”  Mark enjoyed meat and potatoes with a glass of sweet white wine, and Mel had fish with a dry red wine.  We remarked on how opposite our orders were and reminisced about our differences and how they have impacted our marriage. Over the years, we’ve experienced various perspectives on being such opposites.  Early on in our marriage our differences were fun and exciting as we were discovering each other.  When we painted a room, we were playful as we laughed and joked about our differing attention to detail. Then came children and the busy-ness of life.  Usually overwhelmed, we were easily irritated by one another and our differences separated us.  Painting a room together then became a challenge; Mel is meticulous and wanted to take her time and get all the details done right, and Mark sees the big picture and just wanted to get the work done as quickly as possible.  Working to…

Holiday Traditions

With the arrival of fall our thoughts turn to spiced cider, hearty soups and gathering of family and friends.  As husband and wife we are often rooted in diverse family traditions.  Deciding how to celebrate the holidays can be a source of stress and conflict.


Several years after Mary Frances and I were married we moved to the city where I was raised and where most of my grown siblings lived.  On Christmas everyone would gather at my parent's home for a formal dinner -- turkey and all of the fixings, polished silver and sparkling crystal.  Getting dressed up for a formal dinner was not our kid's idea of fun, especially on Christmas day when they would rather be home with new toys.  We both had nightmares of rambunctious kids and shattered crystal.

One Christmas the kids were sick.  It was a blessing.  We did not join in the family dinner, in fact we did not even get out of our jammies.  We were blown away by how relaxed and carefree we felt -- even with sick kids.  Unlike Tom, i…
Leave & Cleave (adapted from “The Art of Marriage” video series) 

Most married couples have heard that we must “leave our fathers and mothers and cling to our spouse.” While it’s not easy, it is necessary. Psychologist Dan Allender says in the book, Intimate Allies, that “the failure to shift loyalty from parents to spouse is a central issue in almost all marital conflict.” Some of the ways we fail to leave our parents include: Relying on our parents for emotional support instead of turning to our spouseRemaining financially dependent upon our parentsSpeaking negatively about our spouse to our parentsTurning to a parent to resolve an argument between usFor us, personally, this was a real challenge, especially in the early years of our marriage. Leaving my parents wasn’t the problem, but clinging to Paul - making him and our relationship a priority was. My bond with my parents was loving and strong. We shared a condo with them at the coast for our “family” vacatio…