Archive for the Expectations Category


Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, loneliness, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, power of words, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , on June 28, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Nature abhors a vacuum. An emotional or spiritual vacuum is “destruction just waiting to happen.”In a marriage relationship, a vacuum is an alarming red flag. It defines a gnawing loneliness of the worst kind. Being attached to someone through the process of vows and signatures on paper, and then feeling emotionally alone and vacant, is worse than having been alone on the first place. It says in the first book of the bible in Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for man to be alone.” You and I were created for intimate relationship and when we feel disconnected we have a vacuum inside of us bigger than the Grand Canyon.

Here is why it is so dangerous to walk around with a vacuum in our souls. When there is a vacuum in nature, it will do whatever it can to fill it immediately. In a flood, the water will directly fall into those empty places and fill them. In a fire, when the flames find a vacuum they will explode with a vengeance. When you and I are hungry, we need food. In a marriage, a vacuum will fill itself with an affair, drinking excessively, over-eating, and drugs, shopping sprees, gambling or anything else that will bring pleasure in the moment to dull the pain. Even the strongest personality can cave into the most unusual temptations when loneliness creeps in. That empty space must be filled.

In this crazy, busy world that we live in today with all its demands and distractions we must be aware of the toxic enemy of loneliness. Just because we are running 18 hours a day and sitting together in one room with our i-pads and other technology doesn’t mean our souls are being fulfilled. Check the pulse of our marriage today. Ask your spouse, “Honey, am I being the companion you need?”
Men can function in an isolated stage much better than women. Women need relationship. Period! If a woman feels alone in a marriage, she is ripe for danger.

You and I were not meant to function in isolation and sometimes there are deliberate steps we need to take to re-connect with our spouse.
1. Ask yourself, are you spending enough time together?
2. Even in that time spent together, is it engaging and fulfilling…or are you just present without giving anything of yourself?
3. Is it time to cut out some outside activities so that your inside (house, marriage, children) activities have more value and intimacy?
4. Do you need to change jobs so that you can spend more time at home?
5. Don’t ignore the loneliness symptoms; they are a sign of danger.

Loneliness is a silent and subtle enemy that will creep into your marriage and you probably won’t know its existence until it is too late. Do whatever it takes to fill those empty places. If you don’t do this for each other…something or someone else will.



Posted in Balancing life, Beauty Unleashed, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, Offenses, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Pleasure, Power of the Tongue, Resentment, Respect, Tension, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued on October 1, 2012 by hmclaughlin

Past hurts make us say crazy things. Hurtful words can be like an ugly misguided scud missile that has the power to rip apart our tender and easily wounded hearts. I have been the receiver and giver of those “miss”-guided words.

Our wounds MAY cause us to misinterpret the intent of someone’s words to us. This is so true in a marriage where we carry on conversations every day of the year. Imagine the “miscommunications” that can occur on a daily basis.


I am very familiar with the story of a wife who wanted new blinds for the bedroom. She asked if it would be OK if we spent XX dollars on new blinds. The husband immediately responded No.


Wife:  She is a home-maker who loves to create a beautiful home. The sun shines into the bedroom at uncomfortable hours of the day.  She wanted to solve the problem.

Husband: He works hard to earn a good income for the family so that the wife does not have to work. He has given in to similar requests in the past and it seems quite frivolous, and a waste of money. Things are tight at work, he is working hard to make a good living for the family but right now the budget cannot afford something as unnecessary as blinds.

Wife: Receives the NO as a hurtful response. Something in her past triggers a wound of not having her needs met and her father sharply saying NO for no reason.

Husband: Feels he works hard and no one seems to notice that he gets no respect or gratefulness for all his hard work. He feels the NO is perfectly justified.

So we are dumbfounded when another missile hits our hearts. We feel unheard, angry, overlooked, rejected and unloved. What actually happened is that there has been another “MISGUIDED  REPRESENTATION” of what was really happening. The wife’s heart becomes more wounded, and the husband feels even more attacked and less respected.  The misguided missiles have hit a vulnerable target and it is another step to a full out war.

Our words have the power to bring hope, healing, understanding and LOVE. But…they also have the power to destroy, crush, wound and…DEATH to our soul.  We need to be aware of the past hurts in our life that cause us to perceive and formulate our own perceptions of the words that we hear.  We are all guilty of that.  It is especially true in our marriages where we have opened up our hearts and made ourselves vulnerable to unguided missiles.

 I have to remember that we live in a sinful and harsh world. All of us have past hurts, and wounded people wound other people.  Now I know there is only one antidote for all our wounds. That is the healing power of grace. Grace in the human form of Jesus Christ who went to the cross to die for all our ugliness and to shed the blood of forgiveness over all our sin and wounds.  The bible puts it this way: “Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13 NLT).

When I stop and remember Jesus’ grace to me in the form of forgiveness, a gift I do not deserve,I have to take inventory of my wounded soul. I need to ask myself: “Heidi, how many times did you send a misguided missile into someone else’s heart? How many times have you hurt your husband, mother and children with harsh words that left them feeling condemned instead of loved? What emptiness and unresolved pain in your soul leaves room for feeling “mis”-understood and “mis”-taken?  And now…how will you exercise grace?”Then I have no other option but to fall on my knees and ask for God to help me understand the real intent of the words that were spoken. Then I need to offer forgiveness for any misguided missiles that I have allowed lodging in my heart and infusing anger and resentment. I must do go through these heart checks and make a deliberate choice to forgive, because if these missiles are not detonated with the power of grace, they will eventually explode with resentment and destroy my soul.

Let’s be on a soul mission to apply grace and forgiveness in every area of our lives, especially where there is “miss”-understanding or when we “miss”-treat our husbands and children.  I know that I want God’s grace to permeate every area of my soul…but especially my mouth. I don’t want any of my crazy words to “miss”-fire and accidently cause misery to my husband’s soul. Once words are spoken they cannot be taken back.



Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty through Boldness, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Kindness, Making Wise Choices, messes, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Respect, SEX, Uncategorized, Understanding each other on May 19, 2012 by hmclaughlin

I rarely bring up the topic of sex, because I don’t want “sex lurkers” hitting my blog and web site. But I do need to address this topic because it sensuously invades almost every aspect of our lives. It is the glaring lure or innuendo behind many billboards, sitcoms, TV commercials, romance novels and movies.  It seems as though sex is the driving force that titillates us to catch our attention.  Yes, sex is a very important part of a healthy, beautiful marriage relationship, but we need to understand how it truly fulfills us. God said that “it is not good for man to be alone”; and He created us to enjoy the beauty and fulfillment of that intimate union. But we have to understand that it is the culmination of love, not the initiation to a healthy, long lasting relationship.

 For Women:

We are the emotional creatures and for most women “sex starts in the brain.” I actually say that “sex starts in the kitchen.” If we feel that our husbands meet our physical needs when we need help, feel overwhelmed or listen to us, our brain responds with gratitude and love. When we feel emotionally loved, we can respond physically. But when women are constantly fatigued with the demands of raising children, careers or constant stress and do not get the affirmation and attention and help from their husbands, it is hard for women to respond sexually.

Note to the men that subscribe to this blog: “Fill your wife’s emotional needs and she will respond physically.”

 For Men:

Some of the best understanding on this topic is in the book written by Shauntie Feldhahn, called For Women Only[1]. In chapter 5 of this book she describes in great detail the sexual needs for men.  In a nut shell: “For men sex fills a powerful emotional need.” So you see, this is completely opposite to a woman’s perspective on sex. Sex gives man confidence and assurance that his wife loves him. One man said it this way, “I feel like I go out into the ring every day and fight the fight. It’s very lonely. That’s why, when the bell rings, I want my wife to be there for me. Making love is the salve for that loneliness.”

Note to women: “Fill your husband’s sexual needs and he will respond emotionally.”

All of us are crying out for love in different ways. Especially in our marriages we have to understand each other’s needs so that they can be fulfilled. But the foundation for sex has to be LOVE-otherwise it is just another physical act that will get familiar, boring and loose its pleasure.  God gave us this most beautiful, intimate act to create fulfilling, lasting and pleasurable relationships.  Understanding our feeling is the beginning of healing. I hope this blog helps.

[1] Shaunti Feldhahn, For Women Only, (Atlanta, Georgia: Multnomah publishers 2004), 91-108.


Posted in Anticipation, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Expectations, Finding Truth, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Patience, Pleasure, Power of the Tongue, Respect, Tension, Understanding each other, Valued on April 19, 2012 by hmclaughlin

I am going out on a limb and making a radical declaration: “You can enrich your marriage in 5 minute increments.” You are probably thinking, “This is too good to be true!” No, this actually works because I stumbled across this miraculous piece of puzzle in my first marriage. It worked so well that over the years I have incorporated into my present marriage, and other relationships.

One of the biggest, hurtful, destructive obstacles in marriages is that people simply don’t listen to each other. Let’s face it; we hear what we want to hear. We sift out the stuff that hurts too much, the words that we think don’t apply to us or seem irrelevant to the situation.  Women have to say everything with too many words, tears, drama and emotions. Men sometimes don’t say anything at all. Over time, we learn to edit our conversations, stuff away hurt feelings, pull away or become resentful.  This is one of the most tragic components in a marriage.  The number one need in intimate relationships is “that we need someone to listen to us.” We need someone to listen without trying to fix us, judge us or dismiss us or belittle us. We need our spouses to listen with our ears, eyes and hearts so that we feel validated and accepted.

Here is how it works.

 When there is an issue that needs discussion and resolve, you need to set aside uninterrupted time, that is suitable for both of you. This needs to be a place of quiet, where you can hear each other without distractions and loud noises.  Each time there will be one speaker, and one listener.


a.         The wife gets to talk for 5 minutes, without interruptions, without responses from the husband; without objections, interjections or accusations. The listener just listens and does not say a word.

The person speaking has to make it clear that these are her feelings. They may not be right or wrong, but that is what they are. They are not to be judged, or defended but to be listened to.

These are the hurts, the feelings of being devalued, overlooked, hurt…or whatever the issue is. It is what it is and the listener has to accept that.

 The speaker also does not accuse, or condemn, but explains more about how she feels: “when you do this, this is how I feel”. This not about accusing; but about resolving a problem.

b.         When the speaker is done, now is time for the listener to respond.  


a.         The listener has to be absolutely quiet for those entire 5 minutes, but actively let the speaker know that they are fully engaged in the listening. They need to make good eye contact and perhaps nod now and then. When the speaker is done, it is now time for the listener to respond and tell “his side of the story”. The listener now has 5 minutes to tell you where he thinks you are completely wrong, where he might agree or disagree and then also pours out his heart and explains things from his perspective.

b.         Again, this is not about who is right or wrong, who did what, dragging up old garbage, accusing, name calling, swearing or belittling. This exchange is mean to resolve an issue so that both parties hear each other’s hearts.

 So to sum it up, one person speaks, the other listens, and then the other person speaks, and the other person listens.

 When we really listen to each other’s words; the kind that come from the deepest parts of our soul, we feel validated as human beings. It restores our self-worth and gives us the courage to move forward with love and determination. It helps to see that we are not alone in our struggles, but that there is another person willing to listen to our deepest struggles, pain and confusion. Who better do help you with that than our spouses?

These 5 minute encounters in my first marriage restored our love, helped each other to understand each other in a way I could never have imagined. There were many times where I felt I was so right in the way I perceived something; but after I heard my husband’s side of the story, I was often shocked how wrong I had been.

Miracles happen in these 5 minute exchanges.  I know; they happened to me and my marriage.



Posted in Anticipation, Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty Unleashed, Control, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Making Wise Choices, Pleasure, Understanding each other, Valued on March 9, 2012 by hmclaughlin

There is no greater, delicious, exciting emotion than anticipating some future pleasure. I love to go out to a favorite restaurant with a group of friends and scour the menu with the anticipation of a tantalizing, scrumptious meal. Often times the anticipation is better than the actual result, but that is the crux of sweet anticipation.

For the past six months Jack and I have been anticipating our “spring get-away”. Remembering the enjoyment of our past experiences gets us geared up to book flights, buy new golfing clothes, look for books to read as we lay by the pool, and check out new and fun activities. The six months of preparation is the actual daily sweet anticipation of something so delightful. 

We all need to anticipate something enjoyable. Without the hope of something pleasurable in the future, we get tired, grumpy, irritated and we lose the zest for everyday life.  This is especially true in our marriages.  Sometimes the simple “dailyness” of life can cause couples to get bored with each other and turn to something else that will bring them pleasure. This is difficult at any stage in your marriages, but especially for young couples during the years of raising little children.  The dailyness of diapers, suffering from lack of sleep and juggling more bills than money in the bank can at times feel like you have stopped loving each other. This is also true of retired couples who feel they have talked about everything, done everything and there is nothing left to discover in each other. Then there are the “in between couples” buried in their careers, raising teenagers and moving so fast in their daily activities that they no longer eat together or enjoy the simple pleasures of talking and laughing about silly and pleasurable activities.

The anticipation does not have to be an expensive cruise or vacation to a tropical island that will bury you in more stressful money management.  It can, and should be, something that can be added into your daily life. For example:

1.         I know one young mom with three little children who anticipates spending one-half hour by herself after supper and browsing on Pinterest, while her husband takes over the responsibility of the children.

2.         It is absolutely crucial that young couples plan and anticipate a date night when they can talk about something other than children’s schedules and unpaid bills.

3.         Sometimes knowing my husband will give me a foot rub at the end of the day, helps the day to go faster and easier.

4.         Do you have a good book waiting for you to curl up on the couch and continue the saga?

5.         Do you have a favorite sitcom or portion of CNN that you and your husband enjoy?

6.         Do you have a project such as scrapbooking, sewing, painting, writing, jewelry making that begs to be finished and your anticipation to work on it is absolutely delicious?

7.         Anticipate a movie and coffee night with your husband.

9.         Anticipate re-painting a room or refurbishing an old piece of furniture.

10        If you are a golfer, like my husband and I are, this is a good time to look around for special golf prices and anticipate playing those amazing courses together.

11.       Plan and anticipate sharing an evening in your home with friends, a great meal and playing a board game.

12.       Anticipate buying a new pair of shoes.

13.       Now is a good time for you and your husband to visualize something new for your garden or deck.  Plan and anticipate what that will look like.

14.       Plan and anticipate to do something “greater than yourself.”  That means, doing something for your neighbor, your church, your community or someone else that is struggling.  Doing something for someone other than you can bring new energy, purpose and it kills the doldrums of daily life.

Without the anticipation of something greater than our daily struggles, we become despondent and it can cause our souls and marriages to perish. It is absolutely crucial to plan some sweet anticipation. The operative word here is plan. Do it.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- Football and Tim Tebow OR: Say “YES” to the Dress

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty Unleashed, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Respect, Tension, Understanding each other on January 20, 2012 by hmclaughlin

There must be a bit of Cinderella syndrome in us. I confess that every once in a while I love to curl up with my duvet and watch several episodes of Say “yes” to the Dress. I know it’s corny; but there is something magical about watching a woman emerge from a dressing room in a vision of sequence, pearls, silk and layers of beading and stitched elegance. It’s what we envisioned, talked about, practiced from the time we were little girls. Even though we may have already experienced our own enchanted, glorious wedding day, we can still live vicariously through a T.V. show.

Unfortunately getting our husbands to watch a show with endless wedding dresses was not part of his wedding vows when we exchanged promises to honor, cherish and obey. Neither did we agree to sign up for watching football three days a week. Don’t get me wrong; I really do love football, but I must confess that after about 3 hours I am not that interested in how many yards Tim Tebow rushed and the interpretation of each penalty. I want to ask, “So is it true that so and so bought his wife a 2 million dollar diamond ring?” I know that men just don’t get that. There really should be other covenants in the marriage vows for our husbands to sign off on. Such as:

1.         That you will go Christmas shopping with me.

2.         That you will listen to me blabber endlessly about my job when I get home at night.

3.         That you know how to pitch socks into a clothes hamper at 15 feet.

4.         That you know how to change a light bulb in a clothes dryer.

5.         That you will know when I am tired and need help around the house.

6.         That you can interpret my “no’s when I mean “yes.”

There are some things worth fighting for, and some we need to let go. By now we realize we are different people, and God has put us together in a marriage to learn from each other, to grow stronger, and to sandpaper each other so that we can become better people.  

There are some things that give women pleasure that men simply won’t understand. That’s OK, because for those things we have our girlfriends. Nobody understands us better than girlfriends. We just have to talk, and nobody can laugh or cry over nothing like girlfriends. If we spent 4 hours with a girlfriend watching a football game, we would probably re-design their uniforms, try to imagine what their wives and lives are like, and laugh about…well anything. Our husbands will probably never understand how we can talk for hours and not come up with any solutions or fix anything. We are women; we need to talk and watch sitcoms with lots of wedding dresses.  Men don’t need to talk, they want to watch football and fix things.

I am so grateful that my husband will sit with me through at least one episode of “Say YES to the Dress”, but soon he slips away and next I know he’s watching football. That’s OK-we let each other have freedom to enjoy those things our brains are wired for. 

But the wedding vows did say to “cherish”; and that’s what we should do. The Greek word for cheris is “Thalpo”… to soften by heat, as of birds covering their young with their feathers. To foster tender care as of Christ and the Church.”  It is the “heat” in our marriage that has the potential help us understand soften our thoughts and actions toward our husbands. It is to cherish all the wonderful things they do in our marriage-and there are so many. When we take the time to write down all the things we are grateful for in our marriage, we will realize we really do have wonderful husbands. For those things they don’t enjoy doing with us; well thank goodness for our girlfriends.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“Broken or Blended – Part 2”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty through Boldness, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Patience, Resentment, Tension, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued on October 2, 2011 by hmclaughlin

Strangely enough whether a second marriage is the product of divorce or death, they are indeed different but both are painful. When a spouse has died the marriage is still painful but somewhatl easier because everyone involved does not have to deal with rejection. Blended families that emerge out of divorce, have to deal with anger, rejection, disappointment, regrets, resentment…only to mention a few. In both cases, the blending of families in a second or third marriage is hard, because change is hard.

One of the greatest gifts you can give you new blended family is:

 1. Make sure you have dealt with your own painful issues so that you are not dragging a lot of baggage into this new relationship.

 2. Acknowledge that other people involved may still be suffering with any of the emotions I listed above.

 3. Be aware and willing to help the members of the family to find whatever healing they need to feel loved, accepted and valued as a member of these new dynamics.

 4. Realize that each person will have verbalized, or non-verbalized expectations. How often do we hear?

 • “I thought she would have… ”

• “I can’t believe they didn’t… ”

 •Can you believe they never… ”

• “I wish they would stop… ”

 • “I hope they will start… ”.

 In spite of all your obstacles there are simple, everyday values you can integrate into your new family. It is never too late to start making your home a tangible expression of your desire to blend your families. There are small, yet significant everyday things we can all do to make our homes a haven of love and joy, instead of conflict.

 a. Laughter is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. Laughter covers wounds and causes us to forget trivial offenses. Choose to find ways to make your family laugh.

b. Family meal times are a magical, powerful way to bring families closer together. When we take the time to slow down, connect with each other and actually talk to each other, it will build bridges instead of making children feeling unloved or abandoned. A great way to start a conversation around the table is to ask: “What was the best part of your day?”

c. Get into that family closet and bring out the board games or puzzles. At first you might hear some groans, but games have the potential to bring more healing than weeks of counseling.

d. Everyone can take the time to stop at an ice cream shop, take a walk and talk about the difficulties of the day. The important aspect is to spend time onne-on-one.

e. Turn off that TV and get everyone away from their computers or technical devices—at least for a short period of time. There is no other way to blend relationships than to spend valuable time together.

f. Walk the dog—together.

g. Take the children on overnight excursions on an individual basis. Get to really know them, their hurts and desires. When we know someone is really listening to us, we will feel valued.

h. Show up when someone is hurting and needs to talk. Just be there!

It may not always be easy, but it can be wonderful. You, the grown-ups; parents, need to take responsibility for modeling family values of loving and accepting each other in the same way that Jesus Christ has accepted you and me with all my sins and baggage. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Rom. 15:7, NIV). Maybe not the Brady Bunch, but perhaps you can create your own unique, beautiful blended family.5 Ways the Brady Bunch Could Have Used Twitter” & URL (

For more detailed information, please refer to my book SAND TO PEARLS: Making BOLD Choices to Enrich Your life, Chapter 5.