Archive for the Good Marriage Category

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – “It all Goes Back in the Box”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, fUN, God' Love, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Laughter, love, Making Wise Choices, pornography, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Board games“Beyond our greatest fear and struggles lies our greatest power.” That is a Heidi-ism I have expounded on in my presentation to audiences for many years. Through each of my struggles God has unleashed greater power in me to help me embrace more freedom and greater clarity to focus on what is good and has meaningful value. Hence the reason for my blog being silent for several weeks. Two weeks ago I buried my sweet mother who loved God with all her heart soul and mind. During the time of your final days on earth I gave myself permission to withdraw from all social media and focus on that which I believed to be the most important event in my life; being at the beside of my mother.

During her final days on earth as I sat and held my mother’s hand, I experienced many long silent hours that gave me time to reflect all that is good and important in my life. Also during her last 6 weeks in Hospice House, our family had to box up all her belongings and empty her beautiful living accommodations because she would never return to all that was familiar and meaningful to her. Why am I telling you all this on a marriage blog? “We have to realize that all our material wealth, accomplishments, successes and stuff all end up in a box. In our families and marriages, we must have discernment as to what is really important in our lives.”

With Christmas just around the corner we are consumed with trying to find the right present so that we can see the expressions of joy and exultation on our loved ones faces. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. God created us for pleasure and the bible tells us that God wants us to enjoy the abundant life. But not when it costs us our soul and our marriages.
• Not when we work too many hours and are away from our families so that we can afford those things that are beyond our income and budget.
• In Canada the average person has expenses that exceed 64% of their income.
• Not when the credit cards are all maxed out and we lay awake at night wondering how we will make the next payment.
• Not when we impose expectations on our spouses to provide us with those expensive things that we think will bring us happiness.
• Not when we buy stuff because of a sense of entitlement or simply that we think we want it.
• Not when we demand things that we cannot afford and we end up in ugly arguments that leave us feeling diminished and angry.
• Not when it causes power struggles and destroys the harmony in our marriages.
The fact remains that one day everything we have will go back into a box.

When my children were growing up we loved to play the board game of LIFE. It was fun to throw the dice and eventually buy a house, car and fill it all up with a wife, children and lots of great stuff. Of course there is always a winner, but whether you won or lost, the game was folded up and it all went back into the box. That’s the reality of LIFE.

We boxed up all of my mother’s precious well cared for clothes, furniture and some simple jewelry. Today they are sitting in boxes in my basement. But what really mattered in my mother’s life was not the stuff left in the boxes; it was the time and experiences we enjoyed as a family, the laughter, the stories, meals and wisdom and love shared graciously and abundantly.

This Christmas season, and throughout the year, what will it take for you to be able to find your greatest power to help you embrace freedom and joy in the events and experiences that will have lasting value? My husband Jack and I do not give each other Christmas presents. Instead we focus on providing experiences throughout the year that will give us lasting memories that will give us joy and continue to reside in our hearts. Let’s help each other to be diligent and intentionally focus on those things in our marriages and families that will bring us joy beyond the Christmas season and not end up in a meaningless box.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- A Simple but Radical Prayer

Posted in Acceptance, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, companionship, Conflict, Encouragement, Faith, God' Love, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Listening, Ocean of Love, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Prayer, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2013 by hmclaughlin

heart in hand
Gary Chapman’s book on the 5 Love Languages hit the bull’s eye, but I think we need to go deeper. I specifically remember the time and place when I discovered how we truly learn to love each other.

After being married about 15 years to my first husband, I hit the brick wall thinking that nothing was ever going to change. My husband was never going to love me the way I needed to be loved. I needed the kind of “action love” where I knew my words were being heard and that I was accepted for who I was; junk and all. I wondered if there would ever be a life beyond Monday night football and the next basketball event. I thought: If he would just do all those things that I need, then I would be happy and our marriage would be perfect.

It was 1982 when God nudged me in my spirit and these words came to me: In order for you to feel loved, why not find out how Dick needs to be loved.

I remember that moment in time because that is when I started praying this prayer, “Lord, show me how Dick needs to be loved, and show me how to love him.” I thought it was kind of a strange prayer and I wondered what would happen. For the next 12 years I prayed this prayer faithfully. Over time, albeit slowly, this is what transpired:

1. The most important thing this prayer taught me was to STOP trying to change my husband so that he would meet all MY needs.
2. I started observing what my husband needed. For instance, he needed to watch football and play basketball. Those were things he loved and I finally relented and stopped nagging him.
3. Miraculous things began to happen. Over time as I stopped trying to “get him to do things” he took more notice of my needs.
4. I re-learned how to love him in a deeper level…not for what he could bring into our relationship but to ACCEPT him for who God made him to be.

When my husband died 12 years later, I can tell you from the depth of my heart that this simple but radical prayer taught me how to love in a way I never thought was possible.

I have discovered that loving people is not easy. I need God’s love to fill me and cover me so that I feel like I am in the middle of an ocean of God’s love. Over time the people around me will feel the splash of this love on them and they won’t be able to help themselves but love us back. Over time that is what this radical prayer will do. The bible puts it this way: “The fervent prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (James 5:16).

If you want to put joy, vibrancy and intimacy back into your marriage, I dare you to start praying this radical prayer. Persist, don’t give up. Wait for the results. They will come.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – Breaking Bad

Posted in Communication, companionship, Conflict, counsellor, God' Love, Good Marriage, love, Making Wise Choices, messes, Pain Pleasure, Pleasure, pornography, Prayer, secrets, SEX, technology, Valued with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Hidden HeartWe all have a dark side. Sexual scandals are rampant. Anthony Weiner, a former U.S representative and candidate for the mayoral race in New York is now called a “Sexter”. This was the second time he was caught in a sex scandal and it has probably ruined his reputation and career. Bob Filner, the 35th mayor of San Diego just stepped down, in disgrace, from his office after eleven women came forward and alleged he was a “serial sexual harasser.” Jerry Sandusky, the retired football coach who was an idol to thousands of young boys and men, is now in jail for being a “convicted serial child molester”. What a tragedy. Lives ruined forever.

These men were exposed for their dark side. Many people are still seeped in their secret, destructive, addictive lives. If this is part of your story in your marriage…run for help.

None of us can be self-righteous and judge. Every one of us is probably just a movement, sentence or step away from something that could potentially destroy any one of our lives. We need to have the eyes and heart of compassion of Jesus to help each other, especially the spouses, who are caught in the chains of their own prison.

The world and social media makes it to easy and accessible to receive free drugs. The next pleasure is just a click away. Violent games and gambling are at everyone’s fingertips. Any addiction is destructive but there is help and new hope for everyone. Every one of us is God’s creation and He will help us if only we turn to Him.

My heart aches for husbands and wives who are living the secret lives of a spouse who is battling a secret addiction…whatever it is. Please don’t despair. But you can’t do it on your own.

The bible tells us over and over again that we are to “help each other.” The first thing you need to do is break the darkness of the secret and seek help.

1. Tell someone. There is no shame in this, we are all broken people.
2. Get help. I read just recently that there is now a Rehab home for people with computer game addictions. There are programs, counselors and people who are willing to help.
3. Pray and ask God to direct you to someone who will help you, walk with you and cover your back.
4. Something happened in your past that triggered this addictive need inside of you. Find out what this is and ask God to heal you.
5. God is in the “heart transformation business.” You cannot change yourself. Only God can heal your broken heart and restore your health.
6. Don’t condemn our spouse. Help him/her. But also don’t enable them in their addictive patterns.
7. This will take time…don’t despair.

Yes, there are horrific stories of addictive behavior that has destroyed lives. But there are also stories of victories, of families restored and lives healed. I pray that you will have a story of new hope and victory.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – When your husband is stimulated by CHAOS and you thrive on PEACE

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Boring marriage, chaos, Commitment, companionship, Conflict, Differences, Encouragement, Expectations, Faith, Friendship, fUN, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Peace, Respect, Uncategorized, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Family Lying on Grass

Books can’t prepare you for this. Life is just not perfect.
Real marriage starts when you wake up with someone day after day, through the laughter and the stomach flu; that you really find out who this” other person” is. While we are in the dating and “chemical stage” (pleasure chemicals flowing through our bodies) we don’t really let people know the authentic, and even darker sides of our personality.

I had the great pleasure of observing a 21 year marriage recently, where the husband and wife have learned to cohabitate in chaos and in peace. The husband is stimulated by chaos. What I mean by that is that his office looks like the aftermath of a hurricane, yet he knows where everything is and everything gets all his work done successfully. While is he on his phone he is also able to fix machinery, empty a dishwasher, check invoices and break up children’s squabbles. He is always good natured, kind, generous, very energetic and one of the nicest people I know. Yes he flourishes in chaos.

The wife thrives on peace. She loves everything clean, quiet, planned and organized. Her “space” is a beautiful corner in their home with a comfortable chair, footstool, soft accessories and it exudes…Peace. She is tender, very generous, takes time to create loving and intimate friendships and exemplifies the fruit of a beautiful inner spirit.

How has this couple learned to thrive in this marriage?
1. They have learned, (sometimes painfully) how to live out: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7).
2. They realize this is who they are. They don’t try to change each other but RESPECT each other’s differences.
3. They support each other through their differences. She allows him to have his messy office and he graciously and lovingly built her a corner “She Space.”
4. They have learned to compliment and help each other. What that means is this: Sometimes those of us who are too laid back and quiet need a nudge of adventure and chaos to get up out of our comfort zones. Yet sometimes those of us who are too chaotic need someone to slow us down and let us find the joy and contentment in being quiet and still.
5. They have asked God for wisdom to know when it is time to step in and push the boundaries when things are too chaotic or too quiet.
6. They have learned that the most important aspect of their marriage is “not to fight with each other, but to fight FOR the good values in their marriage”.
7. I have observed that both of these personalities add good value into their children’s lives. Their children are learning about different ways of handling “life” and how to function in these different elements. They are also learning how to resolve conflict.
8. There is no plan “B”. When this couple said their vows to love each other until “death parted them” they made a covenant with God to honor those vows. When we know there is no back door where we can escape when life gets hard, we struggle through the tough stuff and reap the fruit of fulfillment and success.

A marriage would be very comfortable (and boring) if we all had the same personalities. But I know that God has placed a husband and wife in a marriage so that each person can grow to be the very best that God created them to be. If we realized this simple yet hard concept, I believe our divorce rate would plummet drastically. It’s hard work…but very worth it.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known”

Posted in 5 things, Assumptions, Commitment, Communication, companionship, Conflict, Expectations, God' Love, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Kindness, Listening, love, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Patience, power of words, Understanding each other, wedding day, weddings with tags , , , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by hmclaughlin

man and woman
This summer I took the time to watch some reality T.V. about lavish weddings and wedding dresses. I saw snippets of Say YES to the Dress, Four Weddings, and Bridezillas. Some comments that made my jaw drop were:
“Ever since I was a little girls I dreamed about having this….You can’t deprive me of this.”
“It’s my day and you WILL wear this bridesmaid dress.”
“I had to fire my first wedding planner because she wasn’t getting daddy to approve all my wishes.”
“Daddy you’re breaking my heart because you know how much I want this. This is supposed to be MY perfect day.”

To me it all sounded like these brides were preparing for the biggest, most fun and extravagant event of their lives. How many of us took the time to play the movie forward as to what this marriage would look like in the next 10-15 years.

After my first wedding was over, the dress put away in a plastic bag, the confetti swept away and the wedding album put into a drawer; I wish I would have known:
1. That after the wedding day comes the marriage. It follows with a vow to love and cherish until death parts us. It doesn’t mean a life time of getting up in the morning and feeling warm, fuzzy and completely fulfilled and loved.
2. That all my wounds came with me into my marriage. Saying “I do” do not erase my insecurity and fears. It was not my husband’s job to heal me.
3. That each of us has different strengths and weaknesses. We had to learn to work them out so that they benefited our marriage. For example: If one person is terrible at handling the finances, then get the other one to do it. If neither of you are good at fixing things around the house; don’t point fingers and blame, call a handi-man.
4. That my husband could not fulfill all my expectations. This was the hardest one for me to learn. Because after all if someone really loves you shouldn’t they fulfill all our needs? I ASSUMED my husband would be able to fix everything around the house, listen to my endless stories, be empathetic with my tears and go Christmas shopping with me. What a shock that this did not happen.
5 That the butterflies and fuzzy feelings we felt during our dating period and first months into our marriage was not love. It was a pleasurable chemical release in our brains that occurred when we found out that we liked each other. I did not know that loving each other takes hard work! I found out the hard way that only God’s love has enough power to sustain us through the times when we actually don’t even like each other, when we have been hurt and when all of our expectations fall down the drain.

Looking back it seems strange to me that I knew so little about the struggles that we will encounter in our marriages. One day we wake up and look at each other and wonder what we were thinking when we married this particular person. Our world is filled with marriage books, manuals and online information, but none of this written material will fully prepare us for the day to day process of learning to live with another imperfect human being. But years later, and after 2 marriages, I realize with all my heart that God puts us together, with all our junk and differences, to sandpaper us into the most beautiful creations on planet earth. My friends don’t lose heart, ask God to help you “love the other person the way they need to be loved.” You’ll be surprised what God will reveal to you.

I love beautiful wedding dresses and over-the-top weddings. What girl doesn’t? But we need to know that….then comes the marriage.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “Put Fun Back In your Marriage”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Boring marriage, Communication, companionship, Conflict, dopamine, Encouragement, Expectations, Freedom from Busyness, Friendship, fUN, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Laughter, Norepinephrine, Pleasure, Uncategorized, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Is your marriage fun
Laughter cuts tension and breaks down barriers. I observed this concept in my own children when they were little. I watched them play, and then fight, and then laugh hilariously about something silly. In the aftermath of that refreshing laughter, they completely forgot they were mad at each other. This concept still applies to us grown-ups. Life can get very serious these days and we desperately need to learn to laugh again. Yes, the butterflies of early romance quickly flutter away, but they can be replaced by something more substantive.

In a New York Times article i. entitled Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples, the writer concludes that “Simply spending quality time together is probably not enough to prevent a relationship from getting stale.” We’ve all heard the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt’ and I also believe that none of us want to become that “old boring couple”. I am passionate about the fact that we must intentionally put fun and laughter back into our marriages. We need to do this so that we can remember we really do still LIKE each other.

My husband and I have a lot of serious stuff going on in our lives. He is a pastor and I am an author, speaker and controller of a large car dealership; plus we have a large family. I also have an aging mother and we are that point in our lives where grandchildren are leaving home and travelling all over the world. But we both know that in order to keep our marriage fresh, vibrant and healthy, we must intentionally make time to have fun and laugh.

Our brains are created and wired for pleasure. The New York Times further states: “New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love, a time of exhilaration and obsessive thoughts about a new partner.” Frankly, if spouses don’t find the fun in their marriages, they will pursue it somewhere else.

Here are some tips to re-kindle the spark and re-activate the brain:
1. Be INTENTIONAL about creating some fun. My husband and I love to golf at different golf courses and we make intentional plans to attend football games in other cities. I hear of other couples taking dance lessons, hiking trips or something as simple as a different restaurant or a funny movie.
2. Be CREATIVE. Doing the same thing and re-visiting the same familiar haunts takes you down the same boring path. Try something new and tailor your date nights or activities with some novelty and fun.
3. BRAINSTORM together. The simple process of brainstorming together can be part of the fun factor. Be open to each other’s ideas and don’t dismiss each other’s different perspectives.
4. Protect your fun times from CONFLICT. If the activity is not working out the way you anticipated, protect is from conflict and agree to discuss the issue the next day. Take this opportunity to go out and just enjoy each other’s company.
5. Share FUNNY STORIES. My husband and I love to share funny incidents that occurred during the day. Look for the simple, funny things all around us and take the time to laugh about them.
6. Do the BIG SWITCH. Decide to have a happy marriage. Decide that you will not become that old boring couple that sits across from each other in the restaurant without saying one word to each other.

Marriage was created to be the most enjoyable and intimate relationship we will have in this life. This does not happen organically or automatically. It takes some work and I know you can do it.

i. http://www.reuniting.info/science/reinventing_date_night_for_long_married_couples

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – The Digital Invasion

Posted in Balancing life, Communication, companionship, Control, digital obsessions, Expectations, Friendship, Good Marriage, i-phone, Intimacy, intimacy destroyer, Making Wise Choices, pornography, technology, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , on July 19, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Digital Invasion cover

Dr  Sylvia Hart Frejd 1 pic
My friend, Dr. Sylvia Frejd has written a book that hits the heartbeat of everyone that carries around a smart phone, i-phone, i-pad or is involved in any digital technology. I consider this well researched book a “must read” for every family because it shows us how our digital obsessions are affecting our relationships. Here is what Sylvia has to say about how our digital world can affect our marriages.

1. How can technology drive a wedge in a marriage?
Our digital technology is a barrier and an intimacy destroyer. It connects us with those far away but disconnects us with those sitting in the same room. We are having a lot of connections but not conversations. To have true intimacy in our marriage we need to have face-to-face, heart conversations. The best advice I can give to a couple is to leave their technology out of the bedroom.

2. What can a wife do when she discovers her husband is addicted to pornography?
When a woman discovers that her husband is addicted to pornography she may feel shock, denial, anger, rage, depression, self-loathing, and isolation.
Here are 3 steps a wife can take if she discovers her husband is addicted to pornography.
1.) Listen objectively to your husband before reacting out of anger or disappointment. Is his story consistent with what you know?
2.) Is your husband’s heart attitude towards his sin one of repentance or excuses and justification? If not pray that he will come to a place of true Godly sorrow.
3.) Discuss installing Covenant Eyes with your husband and having him enlist an accountability partner. Encourage him to seek counseling for his pornography addiction.

3. What are some tell tale signs that reveal when we are headed to digital addiction?
Today in our digital age it’s not a matter of “if” you are addicted but how bad do you have it. Some signs you may be headed toward a digital addiction are:
– Staying online longer than intended.
– Lying about your digital use.
– Anxious when you can’t be online.
– More time spent in your virtual life than your real life.

4. What is the best way to battle a digital addiction?
Ask your spouse what they think of your digital use. They know your digital habits probably better then anyone else. I encourage you to take a digital fast together once a week or once a month. Fasting will reveal what you are most addicted to. Start praying today together as a couple about becoming better stewards of your digital technology. Don’t waste your real life on a virtual life.