Monday, August 29, 2011

Guest post on marriage!

today's guest post is from an insightful source! jeff and jill williams are the founders of grace and truth relationship education. they have written many articles along with coaching and counseling married couples around the world. besides all of that, i consider them friends and have supported me with wisdom and guidance at the hardest points of my marriage. you can read more of their reflections at their blog. i'm excited to share this with you today. any time i open up a post for questions, i inevitably get the most about marriage. i try to share what ever bits of wisdom i've picked up along the way but i'm honored to be able to offer some expert advice :)

Loving Listening: The #1 Way to Avoid (or heal) Pain in Marriage

Jeffrey J. and Jill A. Williams

Listening from a heart of love accomplishes more than any other single coaching skill to convey care, build trust and soothe ruffled feathers. It is how Jill and I strengthen the bond of our marriage, and sometimes it is sufficient to repair it. I can’t count the times that we have effectively managed an emotional and potentially damaging conversation by slowing down to simply listen to each other in love. Loving listening is also the first skill check for with couple we coach to help them effectively manage the content of their challenges.

Consider one of our recent conversations as an illustration.

“I hear you saying that you are disappointed by how things went between us last night after supper?” Jill asked as a reflection on my frustration that our shared plan for a quiet conversation under the stars didn’t happen. Because she reflected my message in her own words with a sincere tone I was willing to share more. “Yes. I’d been looking forward to some relaxed time alone with you after our full day of activities. So when you started doing yet one more task I interpreted that you didn’t care about us having some time alone.” Jill reflected this and I continued to share because I felt like she cared and wanted to understand my perspective. After a few exchanges we shifted positions. Jill shared and I listened. Eventually we hugged and prayed. Prolonged painful conflict had been avoided by respectful listening to each other’s hearts from our hearts.

Consider how many wrong turns we could have made if one of us didn’t take the initiative to listen.

  • If she shared her feelings before hearing mine. “You were frustrated! I was frustrated!
  • If she would have minimized my feelings, “Oh come on. We’ve had lots of time together alone recently. Is it really that big of a deal?”
  • If she would have focused on a part of my message or changed the focus from my feelings to hers. “You knew I had to get that task done before I could relax. By the way, did I tell you…”

The skill of listening is easy to teach and fairly easy to do (reflect what you heard the speaker say in your own words). But it is the heart of listening that poses a challenge because it is not something that any of us can create or sustain in ourselves. The heart behind every Christian Coaching skill is the heart of Jesus, whose heart is love.

Consider the definition of love in action from I Corinthians 13 (The Message):

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,

Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Let’s use this passage as a measuring stick for what loving listeners do:

  • They patiently persevere in trying to understand their spouse’s thoughts, feelings and desires.
  • They care more about what their spouse is saying than their own thoughts and feelings.
  • They keep the focus on what their partner is saying rather than interjecting their own thoughts and feelings.
  • They trust God to work through their listening.

Loving Listening is an essential skill for every marriage. Therefore, it is important that Marriage Coaching couples have it in their toolbox and that they are able to model it authentically with information from their own life. Such modeling demonstrates the effectiveness of this simple skill in a way that couples can relate to.

Loving Listening Assessment

  1. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate yourself as a loving listener?
  2. How would your spouse rate you? Would you be willing to ask her/him?
    1. If the answer is less than 10, but greater than zero then something good is present in your listening AND it can get better.
  3. Which is stronger for you, the skill or the heart of listening?
  4. What do you think you can start or stop doing, or do more/less to convey your loving heart through your listening?
  5. What do you hope for as results of improvement as a loving listener?

As a way to seal what you have learned or decided from reading reflect on the following:

  • What do you anticipate in your _____________ (marriage, family, friendships, ministry, Church, business) as you become a more loving listener?

Jeff and Jill Williams write and speak about Marriage Coaching. Together they privately coach couples and train groups of couples that want to coach marriages through a series of tele-classes that are accessible for any couple (globally) with a phone and internet connection. They have trained couples in seven countries and 22 states. Write to, or call 937-717-5591.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


i'm a little disgruntled tonight. brace yourselves. it's 9:30 and my whole household is asleep. i'm wandering around blogs, both those i read and new ones. i've seen everything from breastfeeding 6 year olds to talking to your elementary aged son about shaving your lady business to pictures of dead babies. for real. what are people thinking?? this is the internet. not a private chat with your best friend. come to think of it, even my best friend would be appalled if i told her i'd just discussed female hygiene with my five year old son. hopefully she would set me straight! do you think the kids of these bloggers will some day look their mothers in the eye and say "why did you tell the world that?!" as a mom of an almost teenager i'm more and more cautious about what i tell on my blog. while i love to have a chance to journal our day to day experiences, i don't want my kids to look back and resent the intrusion. i don't want them to feel their privacy was invaded. there are moments that should remain personal.
i understand the desire to take photos of your deceased baby. i don't understand putting them on the web for all to see.
i understand believing in being open with your children. i don't understand talking to a young (male) child about feminine hygiene. (then blogging about it!)
i understand the need to vent if your husband had an affair. i do not understand the need to hash every private detail to your readership of thousands. details that your (teenage) children never needed to know about their father.

boundaries, people. let's work on some boundaries!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ask theMrs: keeping the spark and holding it all together!

it's time for another edition of ask theMrs! let's jump right in!

our first question comes from facebook:

This Wednesday marks my 13 year anniversary with my employer. I'm currently working towards my degree and I need words of encouragement! Since I have started I have managed to get straight A's all while working full time, a full time relationship, managing our household,experiencing my own motherhood with the little one, etc..... I am finally in my HR Mgt class and I feel that I have put way too much pressure on myself to maintain an A in this class. Why? Well because I've been working in HR for 13 years!! I'm doing great on all my assignments, but struggling with my open book tests. Yes, I said open book. I have never been a good test taker and I think I am putting way too much pressure on myself. Please offer me any words of encouragement.

well first off all, let me say Bravo! to be juggling all of that, well, is quite an accomplishment! i had a baby and full time job when i was getting through college also and i still look back and have no idea how i did it! it sounds like you are managing your time well and handling things great! i struggle with the perfectionist side too. here's the deal though: in the real world, nobody will ever know what your grades were! they won't even care about your GPA. all they see is that you have that degree. so making yourself crazy over one class is just not worth it. you know that you earned that degree and you will have the piece of paper to prove it. that's all that matters! so take a deep breath, do the best you can and don't sweat the rest. it'll all be over soon! and when you graduate? buy yourself a really sexy pair of shoes as your reward ;)

this question came in via email:

My husband and I have been married for 16 years and we have a 2 year old. We're currently in a lull in our relationship and just can't find the time for us. He's teaching so he has no choice but to bring his work home with him and by the end of the day I'm exhausted. How do you find time alone with your husband with 5 kids?

this is a really good question. it's one we're constantly evolving and working on! no matter how many kids you have, they are time suckers! add to it careers and outside obligations and it's easy for marriage to take a backseat. the only way to avoid this is to consistently put your marriage first. even before your children. here's what that looks like: schedule time for each other. just like you would an appointment. we do a weekly date night. we have to work hard to have the money and time for it but it's totally worth it. another thing is a good bedtime routine for our kids (and early bedtimes!) so we have time together at night! that means NO kids coming downstairs, no distractions. now this doesn't mean we're sitting having deep talks every night. some nights i'm reading while he watches a movie. but we try to be in the same room, on the couch or whatnot, at least cuddling. even for you two to sit together on the couch while he works will help bring closeness. he also has to be willing to set boundaries for how/when he works. even for you both to decide that after your toddlers bedtime there is no more working. that time is reserved for you. we try to at least have a 20 minute conversation at that time about our days and anything else before the tv or computer come on. just to connect. it's hard to do that deeply in the day to day, which is why we instituted weekly date night. lastly, another important component to keeping the intimacy while raising young kids is to have sex often. i know that seems funny to say but the more often you have sex, the closer you will feel. now don't get me wrong, i understand the tiredness that comes with young children. and how hard it is to feel sexy at the end of a long day cleaning up bodily fluids and wiping bottoms. but if you want to still like your husband when all the kids are gone, this is important. so take a hot, relaxing bath, put on something cute and not flannel and throw yourself into it. the interesting thing about sex is the more you have it (even if you really weren't in the mood) the more you'll want it. i would even challenge you to have sex every day for the next month and see how you feel. it just might surprise you ;) one great resource off the top of my head i can suggest is checking out the website raw reflections from the journey. this couple specializes in marriage enrichment and give some awesome advice. they also have a book coming out that i think will be great called "coaching your own marriage". i hope i answered your question!

if you have a question you'd just love answered, email me at!

Friday, August 19, 2011

where's Al Gore when i need him?

sometimes my ideas for this blog just come to me in the midst of my daily activities. call it divine inspiration. sometimes i simply have a question i'm asked to i answer. other times, all i have to do is read the news. where i'm enlightened by an article titled "aliens may destroy humanity to preserve civilizations". i'm not joking. i could not make this up people. this is what they said:

" reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim. Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth's atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain."

wow. all this time i've been worrying about rising fuel costs and the debt ceiling and whether hormones in meat are causing my kids to mature too early. i hadn't even thought about global warming making us a target for alien life! geez! it's like i'm living in my own alter reality. thinking i'm safe from alien invasion even though i don't own a prius. well i've learned the error of my ways. i'll never again be so blinded by ignorance. i've learned several important lessons from this article!

1. it's a slow news day when alien invasion is a real concern.

2. if aliens do invade, i'm picturing theMr in a sexy air force uniform kissing me goodbye before saving the earth...

3. the government has too much money on their hands if this is the kind of research they're funding. how about we throw some of that money towards the debt, huh?

4. on a conspiracy note: was this research funded by prius????

in all seriousness, this is what our government is spending our tax dollars on? while millions are jobless and without medical care and losing their homes? they actually formulated a plan depending on what kind of aliens invade. how about a plan for the unemployment rate? how about a plan to help regular people keep their homes? how about a way to keep our excellent health care without going bankrupt? as opposed to making a plan of attack for something we don't even know exists, let's work on the plan for all of the catastrophes that already are. better yet, take all the money spent on such research and donate it to one of the many groups seeking to aid those starving in East Africa right now. instead of worrying about aliens, let's worry about the thousands of children who will die of starvation today. and politicians wonder why we're no longer listening.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

10 things i miss from my prebaby days...

i hear people reminisce about the things they miss from their pre-parenting days. things like going out and partying (not nearly as fun as your memory is telling you it was!) or sleeping in (that is all it's cracked up to be!). i love being a parent and wouldn't trade it for the world, but i will admit there are a few things i do miss from the good ole days! just to name a few...

10. matching socks. why did my socks match then? i had no preteen or husband stealing them because they couldn't find their own.

9. not having enough random food in my car to feed all of ethiopia. seriously. as in "are you hungry? may i offer you half a nutrigrain bar, a partially sucked on sucker and 24 french fries?"

8. not having quiet sex.

7. uninterrupted phone conversations. i'm pretty sure the customer service people at my mortgage company think i either have 13 kids or i'm running a primary school over here. that would account for the noise level every time i have to call them.

6. never watching playhouse disney. ever.

5. opening the fridge to find the foods i purchased still there. that one would actually require me to go all the way back to pre-husband times. is it too much to ask to not have an entire box of drumsticks gone in 24 hrs?

4. only being responsible for washing my own clothes, which would account for approximately two loads of laundry a week. as opposed to the two a day i have to do now.

3. never having to share a bath towel.

2. my old body. sigh... my old body... i barely even remember it.

1. simply being able to do things when i want to without tons of planning and coordinating first!

even after all of these things, my life now is so much better now. while my memories may be romanticized, i was lonely. i was lost, trying to find my way and where i belong. i've found it.
i belong right here :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ask theMrs!

it's time for our first ever edition of Ask theMrs! i have lots of interesting questions coming in... you guys are gonna keep me on my toes! so let's just jump right in!

From Facebook:

what is the single most difficult thing you've had to deal with as a parent? I'm pretty much asking: what's the worst thing one of your kids has done and did the punishment fit the crime?

i didn't have to think too hard on this one! without sharing things that will make my kids hate me when they grow up, i'll try to explain. one of my children learned to walk really early. like as in at 7 months. this same child could climb out of their crib and unlock doors by a year old. not a good time! so i spent the first several years trying to simply contain him in the house. we tried every kind of lock you can imagine and nothing worked. i lived in a constant state of fear over this, going so far as to not let others babysit out of fear that they wouldn't supervise well enough. all of this came to a head when, at 2 years old, he managed to get out of three locked doors and sneak out of the house while we were sleeping. resulting in me calling the police, them finding him and me nearly having a nervous breakdown! to answer your question: the punishment was a bedroom door that locked from the outside. so i'd say YES! it fit the crime.

What I want to know do you get so many people to fall head over heels in love with you?!?! lol Seriously, you seem to have so many people who love you and so many close relationships and somehow you make them all feel that they are your best friend. What is your secret? It seemed I only had time for one relationship like that and she moved to FL. And because I am at home with the kids it isn't like I have time to meet very many people. Seriously I need like a step by step guide on how to make new friends and not just acquaintance friends but friends who can see you without your "mask" and love you anyway.

i'm going to try to do this justice because it is a really good question. i feel like i should say thank you? yet that seems odd? i don't know so i'm just gonna move on and answer. i think being a stay at home mom of young kids is probably the hardest season to make friends. it's not like we have tons of time to reach out to people and have deep conversations! that being said, it's totally possible with some work. one of the things that hindered me in this area in the past was being too closed off with myself. i'd been hurt too many times, especially by female friends, so i never really put myself out there. i came to a point where i realized i have to let people in. even knowing that inevitably i will sometimes get hurt. i guess the way i try to have good friends is to be a good friend. here's what i mean: at the end of the day, what most of us need most is love. and most people are not getting it nearly as much as they need it. my heart is to encourage people and simply love them, whether they reciprocate or not. so if i see a post on facebook and think "i love her!" i will tell her, right away! or if i'm in a store and i see a cute keychain that i just know someone would love, i get it and mail it to them with a little card. i try to find ways to show the people in my life that i love and appreciate them. because really that's what people need the most. some people return it tenfold. others don't. but that's ok too. some people just don't have it to give, but they still really need to receive it. now on the flipside, i'm not the easiest friend always either! i'm feisty and moody and opinionated and very difficult to deal with at times. my friends have to put up with a lot. thankfully they see through those things and love me anyway :)

as for finding friends, you have to get out there, as hard as that is. whether you join a mom's group or women's ministry at your church or a zumba class or whatever. and when you do that, be yourself, 100%. those that love you will love the real you. those that that don't? you don't need anyway!! good luck :)

and our last question for the day, from a dear friend on facebook:

how do you deal with babysitting two boys who are so much smarter and better looking than your own childrens? how do you explain to your kids that you love them but they will always be inferior to the specimens of perfection they see every day?

i've never dealt with this, so i don't have a good answer. but i suppose if i was in your position, i'd just ask theMrs' kids to go home so your kids don't feel so bad!

thanks for all of your submissions! if i didn't answer your question, i will next time!

please keep sending in your questions!