Archive for the Listening Category

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.

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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-My Daughter Speaks Candidly about Communication

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Control, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Listening, Overcoming Struggles, Patience, power of words, Resentment, Respect, Tension, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2013 by hmclaughlin

photo
A few weeks ago while visiting with my parents in Kelowna, British Columbia, my mom and I started talking about marriage. She looked me straight in the eyes and asked: “Sweetie, what do you think is one of the most important ingredients in a marriage to make it successful?” My instant and candid response was, “Communication”. My husband Tim and I have been married for over twenty years and, and in my experience, the happiest times in our marriage are the times when we are communicating well with each other.
This is not something that happens overnight. When Tim and I started dating, we would sit side by side on a bench in the park for long periods of time and not say anything to each other. I remember thinking; “Is this really the right person for me? We hardly know what to say to each other?” Over the years we’ve learned how to open up to each other. But we have worked through a lot of these struggles and continue the complicated and ongoing process of learning how to communicate. However, here are some of the things I’ve learned so far:
1. Don’t be vague with your feelings. Men don’t like to play the guessing game. If you’re angry, don’t slam the cupboards and drawers in an attempt to have him ask you what is wrong. The longer it takes him to ask you if you’re mad, the madder you will get. Does it sound like I’m talking from experience? Believe me, I’ve tried this, and it doesn’t work. Tell your husband you’re upset and why. Try not to say, “you always” or “you never”, because this will make him feel defensive. Use phrases like, “I feel upset because I asked you 3 times to take out the garbage, and you didn’t do it”. This leads up to the next point.
2. Don’t let your feelings build up to the point of exploding.
This is something I struggle with a lot. I want to be the nice one, and not dump my feelings all over people. What we often don’t realize is that negative feelings do not go away. Instead, they continue to build up inside of us. One day you can’t even look at your spouse and you feel incredibly angry and you don’t even know why. It’s difficult to get back to a good relationship when you’ve let your anger and resentment build up.
3. When feelings are overwhelming, try to take some time to cool off. It sounds like the opposite of what I just said. But what I’m talking about is to take an hour or two, or maybe a day to try to figure out why you’re upset. Then you need to stop and pray about it. Sometimes we need a new perspective on our situation. I find that when I pray about a very emotional situation the Holy Spirit will open my eyes to see situations in a new light, or through the eyes of another person. Talking things out is important, but when we’re extremely emotional we spurt things we don’t mean and that can severely damage our relationships.
4. Communication is verbal and non-verbal.
Am I scowling when my husband comes home from work or do I greet him with a smile? What we don’t say can be just as powerful as what we do. Touch is a huge form of communication and a hug and a kiss either given or rejected can speak volumes.
These days, it can be difficult to find that time that you need to really communicate, the distractions are overwhelming. Take some time to turn off the TV, ignore the phones, put down the IPad and really talk to your spouse. When we don’t take the time to communicate we won’t feel close to our spouse and that can become very lonely. Taking the time to communicate with our spouse is a very important investment that we can make in our marriage; it creates a connection that will build the foundation for a strong and lasting relationship.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – 8 THINGS WOMEN DISLIKE WHAT MEN DO.

Posted in Beauty through Boldness, Communication, Control, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Power of the Tongue, Tension, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , , on February 16, 2013 by hmclaughlin

???????????
No wonder there is conflict in marriages. After conducting these surveys I am convinced that men and women come from two different planets. But we are all magnificently and wonderfully made and it is up to us to unleash the mystery of our polarities. I believe with all my heart that God puts two people together to “sandpaper them into the glorious creations He designed them to become.” Let’s not sabotage that process due to our ignorance. OK men, are you ready to hear what women dislike what you do or don’t do?
PLEASE READ TO THE END OF THE BLOG FOR A POWERFUL AND PRACTICAL CHALLENGE.
1. Clam-up Charlie-This one spoke so loud I almost had to cover my ears. Women dislike it that men dismiss the value of honest and forthright communication.
• When they clam up and not say anything because they feel that what they say “won’t matter anyway.”
• When they want you to dismiss the details and get to the bottom line summary.
• When they keep things to themselves and then blow up when it gets to be too much.
• When they hear only what they want to hear.
• Lack of admission when something is bothering them.
2. Eddie the Egomaniac-Many women understand that men find fulfillment in their occupations and providing for their families. But women dislike it when men make their occupation their identity; always talking about how important they are in their line of work. We dislike it when men draw attention to themselves by loudly proving their bravado through exaggerated stories of their conquests.
3. Put-Down Paul-It is extremely hurtful and disrespectful when men put down their spouses in the presence of other people. When men are sarcastic, or make a joke about something their spouses did, it is embarrassing for everyone.
4. Sexist Sam-We dislike the feeling that we have to earn credibility to speak intelligently with men. Sexist and disrespectful comments are not acceptable anymore. We no longer want you to behave superior toward us. We no longer want to feel as though are you are saying: “Oh brother, what could she have to say that could possibly be worthwhile.”
5. Crude Dude Dan-Women do not appreciate men with poor hygiene, who swear, use foul language, make dirty jokes, and display poor manners publicly and privately. Women don’t like it when men “ogle” other women and make suggestive sexist comments.
6. Big Boy Bobbie-This is a man all grown up and still living in a little boy body. He is the one who does not help out in the kitchen but is first in line when the food shows up. He assumes his wife will treat him like his mother did, and allow him to continue to play with big boy toys and focus his leisure time toward fulfilling his own selfish desires.
7. Lack Luster Larry-Lack of initiating romance. His idea of romance is to take his wife to Tool Time Depot and then stop off for a beer on the way home. That romance is all for him, and does not even come close to meeting the needs of a woman.
8. Insecure Ivan-Women know when men are insecure-they can’t hide it behind their bravado. Confidence is one of the most attractive traits in men and women have. Women love a confident man who will treat her as an equal and show her the respect she deserves. Don’t assume women need money or wealth to satisfy them, women need a confident man to make a woman feel loved, safe and cared for.
Other comments:
• Dressed to “kill” and then become sloppy once they “have their girl.”
• Not finishing projects around the house. (Guys this was a huge pet peeve for many women).
• Answering the phone in the middle of a conversation.
• Leaving “stuff” laying around all over the house and not picking up after yourself.
• Generalizing. “You women always….”
• Leaving dirty dishes BESIDE the dishwasher.
• Not changing the toilet paper roll.
• Leaving cupboard doors open.
We’ve gleaned some valuable information over the last few weeks. Let’s use these comments to strengthen our understanding. What became glaringly obvious is that we need to learn to communicate better. To strengthen our communication, I invite you to enter into a powerful challenge with your husband or significant other. This will sum up all that we’ve learned and will revolutionize your relationship. Ask each other this question and then act on it.
“What are your top 3 needs?” Once you take the time to unleash this question, you will arrive at your greatest understanding of each other. Once we all make that this focal point of our relationships, we will all be amazed at what God can do to make our marriages “very good.”
Then act on this verse: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
May God enrich your marriages beyond what you can comprehend.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – 8 MORE THINGS MEN DISLIKE WHAT WOMEN DO. (Part 2)

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Power of the Tongue, power of words, Respect, SEX, Tension, Understanding each other with tags , , , , on February 7, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Woman-lightbulk
I have had some very interesting conversations with men in the last couple of weeks. My dear reader, if we truly pursue to understand what is going on in a man’s mind, we can build bridges to greater understanding and in turn we will receive the love we so desperately need. I believe most women are eager to please our husbands, children, family, boss and friends. If we have a clearer picture of what is expected of us, and in turn make the men in our lives aware of our needs, this knowledge builds a great foundation for loving and joyful relationships. So let’s take another glimpse into the mystery of a man’s mind. Today these points are in not in any order of priority.
9. The Beauty Queen-These women think their looks will get them whatever they want. They can’t walk in front of a mirror without constantly primping. Unfortunately this behavior is due to their insecurities and they often have no personality of depth of character due to their superficial nature. (Their exact words).
10. Sanctimonious Susie-She proudly wears her purity like a coat and looks down her nose at anyone who is not as righteous or proper as she is.
11. Come Lately-Women who are constantly late. It’s aggravating. Period.
12. The Bulldozer-Women who have mistaken aggressiveness for assertiveness. They run over others rarely recognizing they are also bullies…in their own way. Some women feel, that to be accepted into a man’s world, they need to act tough and loud.
13. Selfish Sally-When a woman won’t support her spouse during a rough financial period. She insists on maintaining a certain level of lifestyle even when it becomes a hardship on the whole family.
14. Martha the Martyr-This woman takes on all sorts of duties, responsibilities and chores beyond her normal load. This satisfies her need for attention and accolades but neglects to make her husband and her family the No. 1 priority in her life. It makes the spouse feel that he is playing “second fiddle”.
15. Disrespectful Dorothy-There is probably nothing more damaging and hurtful than when a spouse does not show her husband respect. Each woman needs to know that her spouse needs respect more than anything in his life.
16. The Guild Monger-This woman knows how to ask a question or make a statement so that it evokes guilt. She uses this deadly tool to motivate her husband to do something she needs or wants.
17. Lazy Lottie-When a wife’s main stimulus is TV, romance novels, gossip and social media. And the next words are directly from a man’s mouth….”When they let themselves go to pieces after the wedding.”

My dear friends, if any of these words “fit” I think we need to own them. Even though this is my second marriage, and I have been married for many, many years, I continue to be amazed at how much I can learn about the mysterious opposite sex.

There is truly nothing more fulfilling and joyful than when we are in a harmonious relationship with our spouses and families. We can all have this! When you and I said “I do” on our wedding day, we dreamed of having a blissful life. Yes, life throws us curve balls and our days are full of surprises, but with some hard work, we can have the kind of marriage that God intended when He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”

Let’s allow the rough spots in our marriages to “sandpaper” us into the beautiful people God designed us to be.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – 8 THINGS MEN DISLIKE WHAT WOMEN DO. (Part 1)

Posted in Anticipation, Communication, Control, Encouragement, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Friendship, Hope, Intimacy, Listening, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Power of the Tongue, Resentment, Respect, SEX, Tension, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Man woman discussing.1
To unravel the mystery of a man’s mind, we women need practical and useful information. That’s what I set out to discover. I conducted a survey amongst some of my favorite men, and asked them to provide me with a list of things they “dislike what women do.” Here are their top responses.
I give credit to my friend Darrell who provided some names for women’s actions:
1. Diva-This was by far the strongest “dislike” amongst the men. This is when women use drama to get their way. This drama can include guilt, exaggeration, tears and acting cute and coy. Women we have to remember that we like to use our emotions; but men are fixers. When we use this drama to get our way, it will either push men away because they don’t know how to handle our emotions, OR they will try to “fix us” as quickly as possible.
2. The Zealot-This woman is a “keeper of the list and rules”, she knows every policy, procedure, collective agreement and statue by heart. She will use her lists and rules to throw the book at you if you have not done your job or broken a rule.
3. Grenade Thrower-This lady will collect the details of all her unmet expectations, each time you looked at her the wrong way or gave a wrong answer, and store them in a box. This box is called “The Resentment Box”. One day you may ask as simple question like: “Honey did you take your car into the dealership for that oil change?” She did not like the question so she opened her box, took out the grenade and watched the shrapnel destroy your manhood.
4. Jail Keeper-Using sex to hold men hostage. You know what I’m talking about.
5. Gossiping Gertie-Sharing private marriage matters with girlfriends. Difficulties in a marriage relationship should be dealt within the context of the marriage, with counselors or mutual close and trusted friends. Men feel disrespected when private matters are hung out like dirty laundry.
6. Assuming Angie-No, men cannot read the assumptions in your head, nor do they understand your facial expressions or body language. If you want a man to do something, ASK HIM…use your words succinctly and kindly.
7. Late Night Fixer-Wanting to “talk about the relationship” at 11:00 p.m. Women we have to find the right time and place to discuss things that will have emotional implications. It’s hard enough for men to deal with emotional, relational issues…let alone when they are being ambushed late at night.
8. 50/50-These ladies expect their spouses (or significant others) to shoulder half of the household chores, child rearing despite having a cleaning lady. However, they do not help with any of the chores around the outside of house. Most husbands to not have a gardener, pool company, handyman or mechanic on site.

Other little pet peeves included:
a. Being asked to pick up their socks.
b. Starting to talk the minute the door is opened at home. Give your husband a few minutes to get settled and anchored.
c. Women who lounge in front of the T.V. in Lulu lemon pants.
d. Comparing your husband to your father.

I am personally grateful for this valuable information because I am on a constant learning curve to have a great marriage. When God designed marriage, He said “marriage was planned for us and that it was meant to be VERY GOOD!” We can all have that great marriage if we take the time to communicate our differences and seek to understand each other. Love is not just a nice fuzzy feeling. It is about learning to accept each other’s quirks and differences. Once we grasp that concept, we can use our differences to make us stronger and better.

Next week I will uncover 8 more great concepts for you to chew on.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“What My 2 Husbands Taught Me” (Part 2)

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, Expectations, Finding Truth, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friendship, Good Marriage, Hope, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Listening, Making Wise Choices, messes, Overcoming Struggles, Power of the Tongue, Resentment, Respect, SEX, Tension, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2012 by hmclaughlin

 We don’t “fall in and out of love.”  Love is not just a feeling, because our feelings are very fickle and play tricks on our minds. We have a tendency to think that when we lose that glow of pleasure and excitement in our marriage, that we have “fallen out of love.” Not so. We may, temporarily, have fallen out of “like” for each other, but the love is still there. God places that love within us and it needs to nurtured. In the same way that we fertilize our flowers, water them and prune them, in the same way we need to nurture the love in our marriage relationship.

When we fight FOR the values, intimacy and love in our marriages, and do no fight WITH each other, we will begin to experience a deeper level of that strange word called “love”.

Here are 6 more things that my two husbands have taught me about nurturing a deeper love in my marriages.

1.         RESPECT: Our husbands need our respect, respect, respect. They need this more than sex, words or gifts. The biggest issue here is that many women feel their husbands don’t deserve their respect. Obviously it must have been there when you met and dated, or you might not have gotten married. Go back to that original place in your relationship where you had that respect and deliberately find ways to nurture it. This may mean some gut level honesty with your spouse about why you have lost respect for them and something needs to change. For further information about respect, please read my other blogs in the archives, one of them being: UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“Cutting down the Male Species”

2.         ASK… for help. Most men cannot read our expressions, body language or minds. Perhaps we assume that “if they really loved us they would know when we feel overwhelmed, tired or unhappy”. But most men don’t have that gut level, inner intuition that you and I have. We need to clearly identify our needs and desires with words that they can grasp.

3.         KINDNESS…is the greatest gift we can give each other. Small acts of kindness cover a multitude of mistakes and oversights. I have learned that “stopping and showing kindness” literally changes the course of conversations, obstacles…life.

4.         LAUGH.  Laughter is like medicine that can cover awkwardness, mistakes and even mends a broken heart. Seek out opportunities to stop and laugh. Sometimes that means going to a funny movie or talking about a hilarious situation that happened in the past. Just last night I sent my husband a funny U-tube and we watched it together and laughed hilariously.

5.         EAT MY WORDS. That means, to chew on my thoughts, play them backwards and forward then eat the bad ones before they escape my mouth.

6.         FORGIVE. Forgive very quickly. Building up resentment not only poisons my soul, but builds barriers. The number one reason for marriage break-ups is “resentment.” Forgiveness is never a last resort, but must always be a first response. We must remember that forgiveness is very hard because it is not a natural transaction. Forgiveness is a supernatural transaction between you, your spouse and God’s Holy Spirit.

The bible tells us very clearly that when we obey His commands, “our joy may be complete” (John 15:11 NIV). In order to have a thriving, intimate loving marriage relationship we must obey God’s command. The bible puts it this way: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13, 14 NIV).

I know from personal experience that if we are willing, with God’s help, to “fight for our marriage”, beyond our present struggles we will experience our greatest power, freedom and joy. What is one area you will work on today?