Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Conflict Resolution

Conflict is a natural part of life, therefore it is also a natural part of married life. It's not a pleasant part of life by any means but it is something you are going to have to deal with. You are two people with two ideas, two opinions, two backgrounds, two ways of doing things and so on. So when you come to a situation that you both want to handle differently it's very natural to have conflict over it.

It's important to remember that conflict is simply two opposing sides. That's all. You and your spouse have come to a situation and are both seeing it differently, or you both want to handle it differently. But so often conflict turns to fighting and that's where the problem is. Not every conflict has to turn into a fight.

Here are ten things to remember when you and your spouse are in the middle of a conflict.

1. Realize that every marriage has conflict.
You and your spouse are not abnormal and there's nothing wrong with your marriage simply because you are having conflict.

2. Understand that the goal in any conflict is resolution.
Compromise is such a huge part of marriage and something that can be very difficult to work on but it's so important. If you can come into every conflict with the goal of resolving it as quickly as possible, even if it means giving up something on your side of things, it will help you keep your conflicts from turning into fights.

3. Learn the difference between principle and preference.
There are some things that you will have conflicts over that are just silly. If you prefer the bathroom toilet paper faced up and your spouse prefers it faced down...that's not a conflict you should have. But if you believe in tithing and your spouse doesn't, that is a conflict worth having. Learn to tell when something is simply your preference, and when it is, work to just let some things go.

4. Take the time to consider your spouses perspective.
So often we would go a long way by simply putting ourselves in someone else's shoes, and that goes for your spouse. Consider how they feel about things and try to see where they're coming from. If it's something they feel very strongly about, see if it's an area you can give on.

5. Never allow yourself to speak with anger during a conflict.
The second you do that you have taken it from a conflict to a fight. Fights do nothing to help your marriage and you will both walk away hurt and with a much bigger problem.

6.Avoid past failures as ammunition for current conflict.
It's so easy to bring up the past in a marriage but it does nothing to help. If it is an issue that has already been dealt with, just leave it in the past. If it's an issue you have yet to deal with, find another time to talk about it. Bringing up more irrelevant issues do nothing to resolve conflicts.

7. If needed, seek Godly counsel.
My husband and I have gone to marriage counseling before and it is always a huge help. Sometimes there are big issues to resolve and you do need the help of an outside third party. There is nothing wrong or weak about that! But I will advise you to choose an unbiased person. Under no circumstances should you go to a close friend or family member to help resolve a conflict. Ever. There is absolutely no reason to involve either of your parents in a disagreement you are having, you need a person that can tell either of you when and what you may be doing wrong. Chances are your friends or family members are simply to biased to do that. Also, one of the worst things you can do in the middle of a conflict is go out and talk to everyone about it, simply find a good christian counselor if needed and keep everyone else out of the situation.

8. Your spouse doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Be sure to go out of your way to show your spouse you care about them, their feelings and their side of things. If you don't do this you will not get very far at all in resolving the issue.

9. If you think you are the perfect husband/wife you are unapproachable.
You need to understand that you may be in the wrong, you are human and therefore not above being wrong. If you come into the situation proud and sure that you are right you close the door to open communication and conflict resolution.

10. Understand that all marriage problems are of the flesh and the flesh hates God!
Everything in this world is against your marriage succeeding. Satan hates marriage because it is so close to God's heart and therefore does everything he can to destroy it. But sometimes I think we help him out a little too much by embracing all the conflicts, fights and drama that comes our way. Work hard to understand where conflict comes from and always look to the One that can help you solve it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Something A Little Different

Since it's Friday and the weekend is almost here I thought i'd do something a little different. I want to share some of the blogs I read and love with all of you!

First up is Old School Parenting From A New School Mama. This lady ROCKS!! I love absolutely every one of her posts and could just spend hours on there reading and taking it all in. She's real. That's the best thing about her!

Next is Living Free. I love the approach this woman takes on Christianity. She digs deep and questions things to find out for herself why she believes the way she does. For too long Christians have done things simply because they've always done them so I love the fresh approach she takes on subjects.

Next is Keeping It Real. My favorite thing about this blog? She's REAL! I've had enough with fake people so any chance I get to see or hear someone be real is like a breath of fresh air!

Then there is Don't Waste Your Homemaking. For any homemaker, this is a wonderful site! She has tips and tricks on there as well as recipes and just general homemaking posts that are great.

One of my all time favorites is The Pioneer Woman. I literally start drooling every time I visit this site! At least half of my favorite recipes come from this lady and I always spend way too much time just perusing through post after delicious looking post!

Then there is Women Living Well. This blog is full of all things wonderful! There's recipes, encouragement for women, home school posts...it's just all around good.

Next is Hot Holy and Humorous. I recently stumbled on this blog and am loving it! She talks openly and honestly about sex in marriage as well as all things intamate. Check it out, you won't be sorry.

And last but not least is Cake Wrecks. This site is just plain fun. She posts pictures of cakes that have been goofed up from all over. Spend a little time looking around there and I guarantee you will find at least one post that will bring tears to your eyes from laughing so hard!

So there you go, you now have something to fill your weekend with. Happy blogging!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Some changes

Towards the end of April this year I changed things up on this blog and started focusing on marriage. That has been one of the best things I could have done! I've seen my blog grow, as well as been able to reach out to people with great information that my husband and I have been blessed with and i'm so glad I made the change and started writing about this. However, I feel it's time for some more changes...

I do not want this blog to be a place where I just come and rattle off all my thoughts and ideas about something. I want this to be a place full of solid and valuable information on topics that really matter to people.

I am going to continue talking about marriage (I still have many more things to discuss on that front) but I want to broaden my topics a bit. This is where all my wonderful readers come in! If you wouldn't mind, take a few minuets and think about some of the things you would like to read about here and leave me a comment with whatever it may be. I'm not promising that i'll be able to eloquently discuss everything on every persons mind but, I will do the very best I can (and if I can't figure something out i'll ask my hubby, he's a genius!).

Beginning Friday, July 1st I am going to tackle readers thoughts and questions every Friday. This can be about any topic on anyone's mind. If this does not generate any interest after the first month I will reevaluate the situation and go from there, otherwise this will be an ongoing thing every Friday for as long as you all are interested and still sending it topics and questions.

Also a quick reminder, you can follow my blog or subscribe to it an have each post delivered directly to your email so you never miss one. You can also email me at joinmeforcoffeeblog(at)gmail.com. Thank you all so much and i'm looking forward to hearing from all of you!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Your Pretend Spouse

Tall dark and handsome. Full of mystery and charm. Never mean or hurtful. A perfect gentleman at all times. Never fails to complement me. Loves every tiny thing about me. Thinks I can do no wrong. Perfect father. Perfect husband. Perfect man.

Any of this sound like a real person? Not to me! However this was my idea of the perfect man as a young girl and he became my pretend husband. I just knew I would find this perfect man and would live in complete bliss for the rest of my life. Poor Colby, he never had a chance! I walked into our marriage expecting a life of ease, perfection and completion and instead got lots of work and hurt.

I walked into situations with him expecting him to react the way my pretend husband would, and he very rarely did. We had our first child and I expected him to be the kind of father that my pretend husband would be. He wasn’t. I expected him to be as romantic as my pretend husband would have been, and he wasn’t that either. So I punished him. I began to close myself off to him and shut him out. I had so envisioned this perfect man that I had no idea how to handle the imperfect man that I had married.

After making a lot of mistakes and almost losing my marriage I finally had a light bulb moment…I wasn’t married to my pretend husband! I had married a human man, not a prince from a Disney movie. This man made mistakes. This man had a lot to learn as a husband and father. But this man was willing to pour himself into becoming the best man he could be. This man loved me for me, mistakes and faults and all. This man was real, and this man chose me. Those were all things that my pretend husband had never done.

It took time and a lot of work but I finally stopped comparing him to my pretend husband. I stopped punishing him for not acting or reacting like my pretend husband would have. I backed off and stopped trying to shape him into my idea of my pretend husband and let him be him.

When I finally backed off and allowed Colby to be Colby and left changing him to God, he was transformed. He was never meant to be like my pretend husband, he was meant to be him. My pretend husband did nothing but hurt our marriage and we were not able to build our marriage until I kicked him out and put all of my attention and focus on my real husband.

If you struggle in this area at all I encourage you to do a couple of things.

1. Kick your pretend spouse to the curb!
It is wrong to make your spouse compete with anyone, much less a figment of your imagination! You do nothing but harm your self and your relationship with your spouse by allowing your pretend spouse a place in your marriage.

2. Accept your spouse for who they really are.
There is not a single person on this planet that is perfect, and that includes you! Yes your spouse has faults, some of them may even be pretty big faults, but until you can fully accept them for who they are your marriage will never go anywhere but down. I am in no way saying that you have to live with major character flaws, but stop jumping down his throat because he came home late or forgot to take out the trash. Accept the fact that they may be a very forgetful person and you may have to remind them of something more often than you’d like to. It’s ok, you will live through it. Promise!

3. Understand that you are at fault here too.
It is not your spouse’s fault that they are not measuring up to your pretend spouse. It is yours. Your spouse should never have been put in that position in the first place and they’ve done nothing wrong by not keeping up. When you expect perfection you will be disappointed. Never forget that you married a flawed human being. Allow them to make mistakes and move on. You know you aren’t perfect and never will be, so stop expecting perfection from them!

4. Talk to your spouse.
As hard as this may be, you need to confess your thoughts to your spouse. There is a very good chance that they had no idea they were in competition with a figment of your imagination all this time. You have been unfair to them by having them compete and you need to come clean with your spouse about your thoughts in this situation. This may also open up a huge opportunity for the two of you to grow closer to each other. He or she may have no idea some of the things you would like from them and by talking about all of this, you may actually gain some of the things you’ve been wanting all this time.

5. Pray.
Jesus knows every thought you have and every desire of your heart, both pure and impure. Never forget that! Anytime you struggle with comparing your real spouse with your pretend spouse stop, and give it to God. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Women Want

Now that we have talked a little about what it is that men want, let's talk about some of the things that women want.

1. A woman wants to be valued.
Guys, I cannot even begin to tell you how hard your wife's job is! The inner workings of your home fall on her shoulders. Her work never ends, it doesn't matter if she works outside of the home or she is a stay-at-home wife and mom. Either way, she works from the second her feet hit the floor until she collapses in bed each night. Plus she is on-call during the night for anything the kids may need or if someone wakes up sick. Letting her know how much you appreciate and value all that she does and everything she gives to your family can make such a huge difference in her life. Never underestimate the value of a heartfelt "thank you" (and a surprise gift or night off is always wonderful as well!).

2. A woman wants affection.
The word affection is defined as "fond attachment, devotion, or love". Guys, you have to understand that your wife needs to feel your love for her. She needs to be reminded of it regularly. The old joke about not telling her you love her anymore because you told her when you married her just doesn't cut it! You cause both you and your wife to miss out on so much when you are not regularly showing her affection.

3. A woman wants conversation.
I have talked a lot about communication and for guys, that can be a little frustrating. But men, you have to understand just how important talking is to a woman. There are so many different levels of conversation. There is the deep meaningful conversation that opens you up and draws you closer together, and then there is the basic everyday conversation that is just a part of sharing your life with someone. Us girls need them both. Guys, a great thing to remember is, just as much as you want and need sex, us girls want and need conversation. You just have to face the fact that you married a woman and us girls just need to talk to you and have you talk back to us!

4. A woman wants honesty and openness.
There have been times in our marriage that my husband has been closed off to me. Some of those time it was because we were going through a difficult time and we did not feel very close to one another. Then there were other times that he was just wrapped up in his work and struggles that he was going through personally. But either way, when my husband is closed off to me it can be frightening! It instantly causes me to shut myself off from him and being closed off from each other is never any good for your marriage. As for honesty, there is nothing worse than a liar! Even if the truth is very hard to deal with, it's always better than a lie. Work on living a life of openness and honesty with your wife and your marriage with blossom!

5. A woman wants financial security.
Guys I don't care if she has a better job than you, your wife still depends on your for her financial security. She still looks to you to be the rock that keeps it all together. You have to do everything possible to make sure she is financially secure. Now, I understand that times are very hard right now and some people simply can't find work. But guys, in that situation you need to be doing everything in your power to assure her that you're doing everything you can to provide for and take care of her and your family.

6. A woman wants commitment to the family.
My parents divorced when I was 15. I watched my dad walk away from our family and choose a new family. The scars from that go very, very deep. One of my biggest fears in life has been Colby leaving and my kids and I having to live through that. For our first few years I lived with that fear at the forefront of my mind constantly. I would push him and test him to see if he would leave. I did not believe that he would stay, no matter how much he told me he wasn't going anywhere I didn't believe him. Do you know what finally changed things for me? He never left. Sounds pretty simple huh? It didn't seem to matter how much he told me that he wasn't going anywhere, I had to see him live it out. I had to see his commitment to me and our kids grow deeper each day. He had to BE committed, not just SAY he was committed.

7. A woman wants safety and protection.
Guys, you have to do everything possible to go out of your way to make sure she knows you are keeping her safe! If there's a sounds in the house at night, get up and see what it is. While you may be able to ignore it, she can not. You may be sound asleep but your wife can lay there for quite some time with her imagination running wild! Take extra steps to show her that she is safe with you. But you need to take this one step further, you have to make sure she knows that she is safe from you. Guys, you are stronger than us. That's just a fact. During an argument it can be very easy to let yourself go and you have to protect your wife by controlling your aggression during a conflict. Don't ever let your wife feel unsafe by the very person that God sent to keep her safe!

What do you think girls? Is there anything not on this list that you want from your spouse? Are you getting it? Does your husband know that you want it?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Men Want

Have you ever wished you could get inside your spouses head and figure out exactly what it is they want from you? I have wished for that very thing many times. So for anyone else who may be wondering what your spouse may be wanting from you, I thought i'd share a list I got some time ago. Let's talk about what men want first. You ready girls?

1. A man wants to be respected.
Girls, we need to understand how important respect is to men! The definition of respect is "Esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability". There are many things about my husband that I respect and I let him know that regularly. I love telling him what a wonderful father he is, how great he is at taking care of me or how great of a photographer he is. Now one problem you may have is if your husband doesn't have much to respect. If that is the case, look for any little thing you can find to admire and respect. One of the best things i've ever heard is "Inside every man is a king and a fool. Which one are you talking to?" If you treat your husband like a fool, expect to see a fool when you look at him. If you treat your husband like a king, expect to see a king when you look at him. How you treat your husband is so important! Learn to talk to and treat your husband with respect. After all, if a man's wife won't respect him, who else will?

2. A man wants a cheerleader.
I am Colby's number one fan. Period. There's just no one in this world who thinks more of him than me. There's no one who supports him more than I do. I love to cheer him on and encourage him. There's times he's been down and discouraged and I can begin to encourage him and cheer him on, when I do that I can see him start to lift his head a little higher. It's like a boost of energy for your husband. Make a habit of cheering your husband on in everything he does.

3. A man wants the "big event".
Face it girls, men want sex. There is nothing wrong with that, it's how they were created. As much as you want and need conversation, your husband wants and needs sex. Sexual intimacy is a mans comfort food. As much as you crave chips or chocolate, your husband craves sex. And again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Please do not make your husband feel bad or wrong for wanting to be intimate with you! There is nothing perverted or gross about a man wanting to sleep with his wife. Girls, you can do so much damage to your relationship with your husband by rejecting him on a regular basis. Make sex a regular part of your marriage.

4. A man wants to hang out with the guys.
Sometimes your husband just needs to be able to go hang out with his friends without a guilt trip. I know it can be hard for us girls, especially if you stay home with kids all day, to not cling to your husband as soon as he walks in the door. Now i'm not talking about all the time, if he is wanting to be gone every night of the week, that's not ok. But if your hubby is just wanting a night out each week or every other week, do not make him feel bad for that. You know you'd jump at a night out the second it was offered to you!

5. A man wants you to fix up for him.
This can be a very hard one for us girls. We'll fix up to go to dinner, or to go to church, or to go visit with a friend. But at home? It's time for jammies and face masks! That's how it is most of the time isn't it? While I do believe it is completely ok to wear your jammies and that face mask, it's a great idea to not look like that every day when your husband walks in the door. I personally love pony-tails and sweatpants and thankfully, Colby doesn't expect for me to be fixed up every day when he gets home. But it is nice to have at least a little make-up on and something other than sweatpants when he comes home.

6. A man wants his home to be his castle.
It doesn't not matter how nice or how run down your home is, your husband takes pride in it. When Colby gets off work, he is so looking forward to coming home and relaxing. He loves to walk in the door and sit down with the kids and just take some time to unwind. However, when our home is a mess and there's stuff everywhere, when the kids are screaming and wild, when i'm snappy because i've had a hard day...it can be almost more stressful to come home than it was to be at work. That's pretty sad huh? Now things happen and it's not always possible to have things calm and orderly when your husband walks in the door, but work to make a calm environment the normal environment.

7. A man wants his wife to believe his dream.
My husband has a pretty big dream, it's one that will probably taken several years to fulfill. Over the last year or two that he's had this dream he has grown discouraged many times. There have been a few times he was wanted to give up and try something else. Every one of those times I reminded him of his dream and I reminded him how much I believed in his ability to fulfill his dream. You know what? He hasn't given up on it yet! It's hard, and it's discouraging for us both sometimes but it is his dream. That is something I will not give up on until it happens. Knowing that I believe in him and support him is one of the things that keeps him going, it's one of the things that keeps him from just giving up. Whatever your husbands dream is, make sure he knows you support him. Make sure he knows that you will do everything you can to help that dream come true. Understand that he's not just here to make your dreams come true, you are also here to help make his dreams come true. Never forget that!

Up next, what women want...

This post is linked up with Time Warp Wife and Women Living Well.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Men and Women

First of all, let me apologize for having been absent for so long! We had some internet problems a couple of weeks ago and then summer break started and I just got very busy with life. But I am back and ready to get back to talking about marriage. So lets jump right in!

If you have been married very long at all, you have noticed that you and your spouse are incredibly different, so different in fact that it can begin to cause huge problems for both of you. It's pretty obvious that men and women are different but don't check out on me just yet, it's never as easy as just saying "I know we're different". It's very important to look at these differences and see if we can understand them better. The simple fact that you and your spouse are so different can cause a lot of problems for your marriage, however, if you can learn to celebrate and embrace your differences it can be wonderful for your marriage. So let's look at some basic differences between men and women...

Men and women have different purposes.
A man's purpose is to work, to serve, to guard and to protect.
A woman's purpose is to to help.

Genesis 2:15 says "And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it."
And Genesis 2:18 says "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."

Don't you love it when God makes things clear like that? Right from the beginning He lays it all out, this way there is no confusion about what your roles are in the home. Now this is not a discussion about women working outside the home or not, I have already given my view on that HERE. I am simply pointing out that God's original design for men and women was clearly laid out when he created the. Sometimes it can be very difficult for men to ask for help but men, stop being stubborn! God gave you your wife as a helper. And girls, don't ever forget you are there to help. Now that doesn't mean you are there to take charge, helping is very different. When you help your husband you are a blessing to him. When you take charge you are taking his job away from him and that does nothing to bless him.

Men and women communicate differently.
Men use few words.
Women use many words.
Men are headliners.
Women are fine print.

I spent a lot of time talking about communication so i'm not going into detail about that again, but it's very important to understand that you and your spouse do communicate differently. Guys want the main points. Girls are all about the details. When my husband is telling me a story he knows I want every detail. I want to know who was there? What was said? Who said what? How they acted? And every other detail you can imagine. I love details! Details are what make a story. Colby on the other hand could care less about the details. That man can have a 3 hour conversation and tell me about it in less than 5 minuets! Talk about conflict! It used to drive me crazy how little he cared about the details in a conversation. And it used to drive him crazy how very into the details I was. But we have both learned to give in this area. He knows that I will want details so he makes an effort to remember as much as he can. I also know that he is just not going to remember every single detail, and to be thankful for the effort he puts into remembering as much as he can.

Men and women process differently.
Men process logically and internally.
Women process verbally and emotionally.

I have found this to be so true with my husband and I. When we go through something, or we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we both process it very differently. Colby gets quiet and has to figure things out in his head before he wants to talk about it. But I am the complete opposite, I want to talk it all out and deal with the emotions before I can fully figure it out. This can create a very frustrating situation for both of us, and it gets absolutely noting accomplished. If this has been a frustration in your marriage, try to find a time when you're in the middle of a difficult situation to discuss it. Figure out how you each like to handle a situation and try to come to a compromise. What we do now in our marriage is, we will very quickly discuss a situation and then take some time to not talk about it at all. This way we get a little of both in there, I get to talk about it just enough to not go crazy but Colby also gets the quiet he needs to deal with it. It's all about compromise!!

Those are just a few of the very basic differences between men and women. In my next post I will be talking about some of the things men and women want. It's gonna be good! :o)