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Facing Life and Death Moments in Marriage

couple on beach


This post is deeply personal. It’s somber and serious, joyful and hopeful, this is our story today.

Life is going to throw you hard stuff. I wish it wasn’t true but sometime in your marriage, probably without notice, you’ll face a crisis. Financial crisis. Medical crisis. Employment crisis. Parenting crisis. Emotional crisis. It feels like every day we learn about another couple facing desperate situations.

My mother-in-law passed away last week, September 1, 2016. She was an amazing lady who endured so much suffering in her life and still she remained full of faith and hope. The last eight months of her illness launched us out of our comfort zone and her passing leaves us extra emotional. We’re leaning heavily on God’s unfailing love as we fell the full impact of loss. 

When you find yourself facing life and death moments in your marriage:

Commit to what’s most important.

Crisis has a way of re-prioritizing life. Focus on relationships in the midst of crisis. Other goals and activities dim in importance when you are faced with a life or death situation. It’s not enough to identify your priorities, you must then commit to them.

Build a firm foundation.

No matter what season you’re in right now, invest in your marriage heavily. There’s no telling when you’ll face an impossible situation forcing you to rely on the foundation you’ve built. A feeble foundation won’t last when storms blow into your life. The foundation of trust and love Hollie and I have built over the years has provided us a solid marriage foundation from which we’ve launched into the scary unknown.

Communicate love.

Everyday, and especially when facing crisis, you must communicate love with your spouse. I believe every form of communication in marriage adds to or takes away from connection. Focus on providing affirming words to your spouse. The details about the dishwasher and the soccer schedule can wait. Use every opportunity when hearts are broken to pour love into your spouse.  

Allow for emotion.

Speaking of broken hearts and emotion, when you’re facing desperate times, expect a variety of emotions. Anger, sadness, joy, disgust, and fear are all invited to this party. Although it can feel like uncontrolled chaos it’s important to express your emotion. Properly expressed and validated emotion begins the process of regulating emotions.

Look for bright spots.

Crisis is certainly a stormy season but if you look closely you’ll find a silver lining or a ray of sunshine eventually. Hollie and I have enjoyed times of celebration when we’ve witnessed a medical miracle or remember the humor in her mom’s voice.

Let distance grow fondness.

You may have heard the saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” It’s been true for us while we’ve lived 500 miles apart. But distance only grows fondness if you commit to connecting and build anticipation for your return.  

Recognize exhaustion.

Exhaustion, especially emotional exhaustion, is a brutal bugger. It will drain you of your ability to think and respond rationally. That’s ok. You’re allowed exhaustion when facing difficult circumstances day after day. The important part is to recognize exhaustion as an understandable response rather than a personality flaw.

Appreciate facing big deeply profound moments together.

Hollie and I experience amazing times of connection simply by noticing how profound these moments are in our life. Facing life and death moments will either divide and destroy your marriage or strengthen your connection. Hold each other close and resolve to face the storms together. Reflecting on the enormity of the moments we’ve shared provides remarkable perspective on the privilege of being married to my best friend.

Rely on God.

Facing the scary unknown has drawn us closer to the one who holds the future and loves us more than we can grasp. We have found strength in weakness as we desperately ask God for continual direction and healing. The most intimate activity spouses can experience is praying together fully relying on God.  

What would you add to this list?

Share what helped you face life and death moments in your marriage.

Wild Style: Making Your Communication Match Your Desired Intimacy

Matching intimacy


Communication always happens within the context of relationship.

Communication needs relationships to exist and relationships need communication to survive.

Every relationship in your life is different. Each contains a different amount of shared history, vulnerability, mutual benefit, and intimacy, which all influence how and what you communicate.

The Mailman

The relationship I have with my mailman contains only of him driving to my house and putting mail in my mailbox. I respectfully keep the area in front of the mailbox clear to help make his job easier and if I happen to be outside and see him deliver the mail, I’ll give him a friendly nod or neighborly wave. The only communication we need to maintain our relationship is when I put the red flag up on the mailbox to alert him of the letter I placed there.

Communication Evangelist

Even advertising is communication in relationship. Hundreds of companies and brands communicate with me every day. We have a relationship. The best brands invest heavily into the relationship with customers by communicating the benefit of the relationship. Customers can become so loyal they view their relationship with the company as a part of their personal identity. For example, the most fanatic customers of Apple are known as Apple evangelists. Apple has built strong relationships with its customers through effective communication.

wild style


Wild Style

My son loves to talk to me about Legos. Our conversation is about the details of his “wild style motorcycle” and its multitude of guns, but we are mostly communicating about our relationship. The words are about Legos but more importantly the meaning contained in the words communicate my delight in him and his creativity, which builds our connection. I can talk about Legos with anyone. I’ve even had conversations on Twitter about Legos, but the relationship I have with people on Twitter is much different than the relationship I have with my son.

Marriage is a one of a kind relationship. Marriage contains exclusive benefits financially, sexually, and emotionally. Your communication must reflect the unique status of marriage.

  • Problems arise in marriage when communication doesn’t take into account the depth of the relationship. You cannot communicate with your spouse like they are the mailman. The lack depth will starve your connection.
  • You’re going to have problems if you treat your marriage like a business and your spouse like a commodity. Some people try to run their marriage like an exchange but often become control freaks and bankrupt the connection.
  • Parent child relationships are meaningful and precious but never treat your spouse like a child. Many marriages fall into that pattern of interaction which grossly distorts the relationship and often ends with much resentment.

Marriage is special and your marriage is unique. The level of intimacy in your relationship will reflect the level of intimacy in your communication. You must adjust the level of communication to match the level of intimacy you want in your relationship.


2 parts of communication coverI would like to share with you the story of Sue and Chuck and how their communication about flowers was much more than simply flowers.

Their communication, and yours, consists of 2 main parts. First, the actual words shared, what I call logistics, and second, the meaning of the words, or the emotion the words evoke.

To learn more about Sue and Chuck and The 2 Parts of Communication get this free resource to instantly improve your communication.

 

She Sheds and a 3-Step Recipe for a Happy Marriage

Recently I came across this short article from Today.com describing a new trend. She sheds.

How my ‘She Shed’ improved my marriage

She sheds are a place, like a shed, designed as a type of hideaway for women. The separate place is intended to serve as a retreat in which they can reduce distractions and relax. The unique private place allows space to feed her soul and help her recharge.

It’s somewhat of a play on the concept of a man cave, a space where a man can enjoy “manly things” typically a big TV with sports or adventure movies playing loudly on surround sound. A man cave provides space for him to retreat into his interests.

I love the idea of a she shed. When my wife gets tired and overwhelmed with the three boys in her life, I’ll just send her to the shed. Oh, that’s right, I don’t have a tool shed. We keep the tools in the garage. Perhaps she would like to spend some relaxing time in the she garage?

She sheds sound about as realistic as living on the moon. Where are the children of these women with she sheds? I’m sure every mother would like (needs) a she shed where she can get away temporarily but is that even possible? Mothers often can’t even use the toilet without young children interrupting. I’m sure no three year old is going to understand and respect the intended privacy of mom’s getaway sanctuary in the back yard.

Kidding aside, this she shed seems awesome. The owner of this she shed, Barbara Techel, is a blogger who uses her she shed to write her blog and her books. Now that is something I could use.

My favorite part of the short article is the quote by the author talking about how her she shed has benefited her marriage. Barbara says about her husband John:

He “gets it” and understands that by honoring and respecting my needs, in turn, it makes for a happy wife. Which in turn makes for a happy husband. And yes, a happy marriage.

Now that’s a great 3-step recipe for a wonderfully happy marriage.

  1. Understand your spouse’s needs.

    Understanding your spouse may feel like an impossible task. Start by asking them. Say “Hey babe, what are your needs.” Perhaps not every spouse will easily articulate their needs. Our deeper emotional needs often feel risky to share. Our wants are often much easier to identify because they don’t have the emotional consequences or the risk of rejection. Communicating your deeper emotional needs is a skill you must intentionally develop. Sharing with your spouse on an emotional level will dramatically improve your connection in marriage. When you ask your spouse what their needs are be prepared to implement the next ingredient in the happy marriage.

  2. Honor and respect their needs.

    It’s critical, once you have discovered and understand your spouse’s needs, to validate them as important. It’s not enough to simply understand, you must take action. For Barbara Techel’s husband, John, it meant building her a she shed to provide for her need to have her own space. You don’t have to convert your tool shed into a retreat center or turn your formal dining room into a sports center man cave. For you, respecting your spouse’s needs could look very different. It could be providing relaxation for your spouse by putting the kids to bed while she enjoys a bath or taking a family vacation to the ocean.

  3. Enjoy a happy spouse and a happy marriage.

    The only part left is to celebrate and enjoy a happy marriage. I’m not sure about Barbara and John but I have a feeling they don’t spend all of their time in their separate spaces. Happy couples know how to connect emotionally and provide appropriate space in their marriage. They are happy because relational needs are met and therefore both their time together and away from each other benefits their connection. Perhaps a she shed will meet your needs and improve your marriage. However you and your spouse are able to meet each others needs, a happy marriage ultimately comes from wonderful connection to each other.


View the original article by Barbara Techel on her blog, Joyful Paws

Watch Barbara Techel being interviewed on Weekend Sunrise, the Australian version of the Today Show.

View pictures of a variety she sheds


Go Deeper.

If you want to learn more about how to communicate for better connection in your marriage you are in luck. I’m putting the finishing touches on my new course

30 Days of Better Communication 

30 Days of Better Communication consists of 30 daily lessons to help you enjoy better connection in your marriage through better communication. Launch date is July 1. Make sure to join my email list to get all the details and be the first to receive it.

The Funny Thing About Humor in Marriage (And 6 principles for more fun in your marriage)

Laughing couple

Humor and fun are critical to a great marriage.

The more humor you have in your marriage the more fun your marriage will become. Having fun together is seriously one of the best things for strengthening your connection in marriage.

See what I did there? Fun is serious. So poetic.

I wish I could say life is always fun and only awesome things happen when you are married. Life has served my wife Hollie and I a dose of serious in the last few months. We’ve struggled at times to find humor in life in the midst of worry and uncertainty. In seasons of stress and chaos humor seems far away. It may take time to trudge through the desert but always be on the lookout for the oasis of humor in your marriage.

oasis

2 benefits of humor in your marriage.

  1. Laughing is healthy. I’m not a doctor but humor is good for your body. I came across a great article on the 7 Health Benefits of Laughter If you clicked on the link you will notice they suggested one of the benefits of laughing is an ab workout. That’s probably a bit of a stretch, I doubt anyone has ever developed a six pack simply from laughing. The other 6 seem legit and having fun is clearly good for your body.
  2. Having fun is well…fun. Having fun is a benefit enough. If you don’t have humor in your marriage you likely think marriage sucks. When you make your marriage fun you will like it more. You don’t have the wrong partner, your marriage is not a doomed, you simply have a fun deficit.

2 common ways couples fail at humor

Just like honesty, you can do humor wrong in marriage.

  1. Refrain from the humor blame game. Saying “It’s your fault we never have any fun” isn’t funny and it kills the mood. Blaming your spouse for the lack of fun in your marriage is damaging to your connection. If your marriage is dull, come together and think of a solution, not an excuse.
  2. Using your spouse as an object of critical humor is the worst. Many comedians specialize in putting people down as their brand of dark humor. This is a terrible idea for marriage. There is nothing worse than using humor to criticize. “I was just kidding” doesn’t even start to undo all the hurt from the cutting remarks you made to others at the expense of your spouse.

2 ways to regain humor in your marriage

  1. Remember the fun times you’ve had together. Recalling time in the past when you laughed is a good way to rekindle fun. Think of inside jokes and crazy stories you share. A while back I got locked in a bathroom at a funeral. The little bathroom was right next to the seating area of the funeral chapel. The door knob was old fashioned, the type that wobble too much. The door knob wouldn’t open the door. I panicked and shook the door knob as vigorously as possible to avoid disturbing the somber funeral gathering only feet away. I ended up knocking on the door while inside. Thankfully my wife rescued me by opening the door from the outside. We looked at each other wide-eyed and shared a silent-as-appropriate-for-a-funeral laugh.door knob
  2. Do something fun with your spouse today. Recently Hollie and I went to see comedian Ken Davis. It was a great way to relax and enjoy good humor together. It’s true, delaying pleasure to meet long term goals is a sign of self control and wisdom, but all work and no play makes a dull and boring marriage. There is deep wisdom in joy. Enjoying time with your spouse is one of the best investments you can make in life. You have permission to have fun with your spouse. Go get ‘em and have some fun. Today.

BONUS tip:

Have fun with other couples. A few years ago Hollie and I went to see the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in person. It was a blast seeing behind the scenes of the show and getting to shake his hand when he walked out on stage. The thing I remember most is how much the audience laughed. I enjoy a good Jay Leno joke but when I was in the audience live, I laughed at everything. Laughing with others is powerful and more fun.


If you are serious about having fun I have a recommendation: Listen to my friend’s podcast “Shop Talk with Ken

ShoptalkheaderMy friend Ken Moore is funny. His podcast “Shop Talk with Ken” is pure random fun. Listening to Ken’s podcast is almost as fun as hanging out with Ken. He’s a natural humorist, umm the word humorist sounds way too formal, simply said he’s a funny guy. I especially enjoy his podcast because it’s clean humor without all the crude of some comedy shows.

From time to time I write a funny blog post about marriage. For more fun check out these other funny posts from MakeSomeWonderful.com

The Miracle Technology Every Marriage Needs

6 Terrible Dating Techniques of Taco Bell Guy and What to Do Instead

A Hot Valentine’s Day

6 Terrible Dating Techniques of Taco Bell Guy and What To Do Instead

guy in white shirt

The other day our family went out to eat at Taco Bell.* We set up camp near a young couple who appeared to be on a date. (Setting up camp is what it’s like to take two young boys out to eat anywhere.) Between directing our kids to eat their food, getting more napkins, and re-explaining the various types of cheese, we casually observed the date at the next table.

We learned a lot from watching the young couple set sail upon the waters of relationship building. Married folk like us may think we are way more advanced in relationships than this young inexperienced couple, but the lessons are for us too.

  1. Be the star of the show. This guy in Taco Bell talked non stop. He didn’t even pause while chewing his food. If your date wanted a show, they would have simply gone to a movie. For a real relationship to grow you must interact. When you spend time with your spouse, let them talk. Shut up enough to have a real conversation. Show your interest in your date by really listening to what they have to say.
  2. Talking and eating go well together. Occasionally we have to remind our three year old to use his manners, your spouse shouldn’t have to remind you. Simple manners like eating with your mouth closed, are important for all relationships. Manners display a level of maturity and respect.
  3. As long as you are funny it’s fine to insult your date. The guy in Taco Bell was not complimentary of his friend. I don’t get that. She was spending her time eating with him, at least he could be nice, it’s not too much for her to expect. The same goes for your spouse, they agreed to marry you, at least use nice words, it’s a reasonable expectation. Humor is awesome but using humor to excuse criticism is a connection killer.
  4. Guard your stuff. The guy in Taco Bell was well past kindergarten; he should have known the concept of sharing. But when she reached for a nibble of his food he told her he was not sharing. Umm, it’s just one or two mexi-fries dude, you will survive without them. Married people can become overly possessive of their stuff too. If your spouse reaches for your phone or drives your car to work, don’t get upset. Healthy couples know how to share, willingly.
  5. Make your point clear by hitting. The guy at Taco Bell swatted her hand away when she jokingly reached for his food. This dating technique is a major problem. Never hit your date. Touching is an important way to communicate closeness, care, and connection in relationships. Hurtful touches, no matter the intention, damage relationship and destroy trust needed for building good relationships.
  6. Be stingy. From what I could tell, the guy in Taco Bell didn’t pay for her food. I know it may be old fashioned for the guy to always buy on a date, but it was Taco Bell, it wouldn’t have broke the bank. Married folk, avoid getting into a lifetime of deciding if it is his or her bill to pay. Combine your finances and live on a budget. Above all else, always be on the lookout for how you can be more generous toward your spouse.

What have you learned by observing other couples?

*This post was developed after observing real interactions while in a Taco Bell. In no way do I intend to disparage Taco Bell or anyone for eating at Taco Bell. Taco Bell is awesome. In this post I refer to the young man on his date as “Taco Bell Guy” because he was a guy in Taco Bell; he was not an employee of Taco Bell. While I observed individuals at Taco Bell I did not talk to them, I do not know them, what they were discussing, or the nature of their relationship. If you believe, through my descriptions of this couple, it was you, then I hope you learned something. You never know when you may be on a date next to a marriage counselor.

Photo credit:Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo