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.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “Oh, You’re So Sensitive”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Communication, companionship, Encouragement, Friendship, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Kindness, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Pleasure, Power of the Tongue, power of words, sensitive with tags , , , , , on July 13, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Woman whispering in man's ear
I cringe when I remember saying to my children: “Oh you’re so sensitive.”At that time I did not realize the negative impact it would have on their spirits. Even though we are all grown up now, we still have those tender…“sensitive” feelings that cause us to react defensively. Let me explain.

As we mature, we do not want to show our weaknesses. But each one of us has that tender spot in our spirit, or a red hot button, that when it is pushed or trammeled on, causes us to respond negatively. Most men have been taught to “suck it up… be a man… babies don’t cry…grow up”, and consequently have learned to build a wall around their weaknesses. But, those tender feelings are still deep inside their spirits and are easily evoked when the wrong thing is said. However, men… (and many women) have learned to hide weakness and respond defensively through anger, arrogance, and indifference or trying to be emotionally distant.

It can actually be quite irritating when we make a simple comment like: “Why are you wearing THAT shirt?” or when we compare or criticize their golfing skills, mechanical, “Mr. Fix It” skills or their computer expertise to someone else. If they react defensively, we know we’ve hit a “red hot button”. Of course we all need to learn to get over the small, seemingly insignificant issues in our life, but until that day comes, we have to realize we may have hurt someone with our flippant comment.

Here’s where it gets dangerous. If we don’t recognize our “too sensitive side”… we will learn to protect ourselves from hurtful barbs by building walls. One brick at a time. After a while we may realize it’s just too much work to edit all our conversations and we shut down and protect ourselves. Once this happens, the marriage loses its intimacy and joy. We become defensive instead of protective. We enter into power struggles instead of joyful companionship.

I know! I have spent my whole life learning not to be so sensitive and to take comments personally. It has helped tremendously to learn to sort through criticism and people’s opinions by being a speaking and author, a Controller of a large automobile dealership and being in a second marriage. Needless to say I have become “sensitive” to other people’s sensitivity and I realize how much some comments may hurt.

I want to ask you.
“Do you know your spouse’s sensitive areas?”
“How do YOU respond when your spouse gets defensive?”
“How do YOU respond when someone hits YOUR red hot sensitive button?”
“Do you use your spouse’s sensitive spots to deliberately hurt him at times?
“Do you know YOUR sensitive spots and how do you protect yourself?”

Our marriage should be places where we feel safe and protected. Learning each other’s sensitive areas by protecting them instead of using them as hurtful weapons, builds the kind of joy and intimacy we are looking for in our marriages.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE- “Loneliness”

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

j0440974
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.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-“A Home Called Harmony”

Posted in Balancing life, Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Expectations, Friendship, Good Marriage, Harmony, Intimacy, Kindness, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, Pleasure, power of words, Prayer, Respect, Uncategorized, Understanding each other, Valued with tags , , , , , , , on June 14, 2013 by hmclaughlin

100_2633Through 48 years consisting of 2 marriages, I have learned the significant parts that husbands have in alleviating family stress and tension and promoting peace and harmony.It simply requires that a man step up to be proactive, rather than withdrawing and isolating himself from what goes on in the home.
I experienced a very positive example of this several years when my wife Heidi and I were invited to spend a weekend with a couple and their three children. We looked forward to the visit with keen anticipation of skiing on one of our British Columbia, Canada’s most outstanding mountains.It is to be understood that preparation for a family ski trip can be fairly chaotic with the amount of equipment that walks away and the socks that are eaten by the clothes dryer. However, in this case, the preparation for the departure was a thing of beauty.
We woke up to the smell of coffee and quickly encountered a fresh and tantalizing breakfast set out on the kitchen table. We soon discovered that this did not happen by accident. It was the husband who had been up early and had already packed all the skies and poles for the entire family into a Van roof top container. Gloves, socks and goggles had been inserted into each person’s boots and all the boots and helmets were assembled and lined up in categories at the back door. All we had to do at this point was was pick up our belongings, our prepared bagged lunch and head out the back door.
I attribute our peaceful getaway to the willingness of the dad to anticipate and defuse the possibility of confusion and tension. I might add that the children are now grown up, and through their father’s example, are completely adept of taking care of their own gear.
Husbands can facilitate harmony in the home through their actions for which we use the term “Greasing the Skids”, which means: “wanting something to go smoothly”. The origin of the phrase comes from the practice of constructing ships on a set of rails, also known as skids. When the ship was ready to be launched, the skids were covered in grease to reduce the friction and the supporting blocks were knocked loose, so that the ship could slip easily, into the water and then to the sea.
With the many forms of pressure that families face inside and outside the home, I believe that there are many things that husbands can do to create a harmonious atmosphere and release each member of the family to achieve their God given potential:

1. I have found that it is helpful to anticipate times when there is potential for added family stress. Those would include such times as meals, trips, guest visits to say nothing of preparation for Sunday church. Working with your wife, assisting in anything from peeling potatoes or carrots to cleaning up after her as she prepares the meals, goes a long way to enhance team like harmony.
2. I have learned the importance of praying with my wife; particularly when she is faced with challenging situations.Those who are tech savvy may wish to text a prayer and declaration of love and support. This is also true of our sons and daughters. A verbal or written blessing is extremely important.
3. I have learned how to make sure that my wife is spiritually and intellectually fed, particularly during periods of her life when her primary responsibility is the home. Share with her interesting ideas and books that you are reading. Encourage her to pursue interests in learning new skills through offering to take care of the house and providing creative financial support. I might add that I have also learned that facilitating a wife’s shopping and spending time with her friends is also very important.
While I could offer scores of suggestions, I have learned that it all begins with my personal desire to do whatever is necessary to achieve “God given harmony” in my home.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE-My Husband Jack Speaks Out

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Commitment, Communication, Encouragement, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Making Wise Choices, Overcoming Struggles, Respect, Understanding each other with tags , , , , , , , on May 11, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Jack & Heid cropped
There are a few things sadder than watching a marriage disintegrate to the point where a conversation consists of “Pass the peas, please”. The relationship that has brought you together does not simply decay overnight. When couples allow themselves to lose interest in each other, dry rot sets in and eventually the structure disintegrates. From a male perspective, I believe that a man’s wife retains her husband’s interest as she observes some of the following:
1. Allowing for the changes that occur as we become older; dress and attend to yourself in a manner that attracted him to you in the first place. I am not talking about dressing like a “femme fatale” but rather paying attention to neatness for which a husband can be justifiably proud.
2. Retain your intellectual curiosity and ability to carry on meaningful conversations.Contrary to opinion, a husband appreciates a good conversation with an informed spouse.Thus it is essential to keep your spirit and mind fed. It is good to challenge one another in matters of proper eating habits, rest and exercise. A shared activity is often helpful in this regard whether it is walking, biking or use of the local gym.
3. Utilize your intuition and powers of reason to persuade rather than using your emotions to manipulate. While tears may indicate one’s true feelings, a husband begins to shut down when tears are being used as a tactic to simply get one’s own way. I believe that a husband retains high regard for his wife if she is able to discuss the pros and cons in making a decision that affects both of you.
4. A husband has a high need to be considered number one in your life after God. This is above parents, your children and friends. If a husband has any doubt about your loyalty to him, he will soon check out. We just can’t stand the thought of being number two in our wife’s life.
5. Choose friends that will positively enhance your life and challenge you to maintain your highest values. A husband is aware that his wife will empathetically take on the actions, opinions and attitudes common to her closest friends. This has important implications for husbands as they are often drawn into the net of negative male generalizations through friends of a spouse who has been hurt in male-female transactions.
6. With regards to friendships there is one thing that stands alone. Husbands feel very betrayed when intimate matters which, ought to stay between husband and wife, are relayed to friends as grist for speculation and gossip. You would be shocked if you knew how husbands felt about disclosure as it undermines the “respect” which he wants to retain in the community. When a matter is serious, it ought to be taken rather to a professional counselor where a couple’s privacy can be assured.
In conclusion, the retention of love and mutual regard is dependent upon both parties to avoid the pitfalls that draw them apart and press on to bless and build one another up into all that God has designed them to be.

UNLEASHING THE K.I.S.S. MARRIAGE – Secrets

Posted in Beauty from the Inside Out, Beauty through Boldness, Commitment, Communication, counsellor, Encouragement, Expectations, Forgiveness, Friendship, Good Marriage, Intimacy, Life of Jesus, Making Wise Choices, messes, Overcoming Struggles, Pain Pleasure, Power of the Tongue, sabotage, secrets with tags , , , , , on April 27, 2013 by hmclaughlin

Hidden Heart
CNN stated that Katherine Tsarnaeva (Russell), the wife of the deceased Boston Bomber, claims “she was completely in the dark about her husband’s alleged plan to bomb the Boston Marathon.” Katherine’s lawyer also stated: “Reports of involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all.” As you and I read these excerpts, we must wonder how it is possible to be married to someone who carries such dark and insidious secrets. Yet we must recognize that there is a dark side to all of us.

Secrets are destructive and toxic. They will not evaporate over time and free us from their claws, in fact; they will grow their sinister barnacles into the fabric of our soul. Anything that is kept in the dark holds power over us. Especially in our marriages.

This is a tough topic because no one wants to talk about their secrets. The reason I got brave enough to tackle this issue today is because I was engaged in yet another story of where a family secret set out to destroy all family relationships. Let’s not kid ourselves…secrets will come out and they will destroy. They will have a similar effect as the Boston bombs, shrapnel piercing the hearts with betray and rejection. Sometimes the destruction is final. Non-repairable. Destroyed. Finished.

To keep marriages healthy and intimate, a person cannot be living a double life or keeping secrets. It might work for a short while, but do not be deceived, the story will emerge at one point or another. The question on the table is: “Do you need to divulge everything that transpired in your life BEFORE your marriage?” I believe the answer is: “Only if it has a present power to sabotage your marriage from being healthy and loving.”
So what now?
1. Acknowledge secrets and that they have destructive powers.
2. Admit that they will one day be revealed. The bible says this about our secrets: “For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives: (1 Corinthians 4:5).
3. Secrets need to be brought out of their dark places and into the light of God’s healing power
4. BUT, use Godly wisdom to know if you need to discuss this with your spouse. Not all things need to be blurted out especially if you know it will destroy all aspects of your marriage. Sometimes there are things that need to be confessed to a very trusted friend, our counselor.
5. They need to be discussed so that your soul can be free from the hooks of the power of that secret.
6. Our God is a loving God and always ready to embrace us when we run to Him with our messes, mistakes and secrets. He is not waiting to punish us, but willing to forgive us and give us new freedom for living the abundant life.
7. Learn to live an authentic life that brings freedom into our marriages and all aspects of relationships.
When we are honest with each other, we don’t have to lie, make us stories, edit our conversations and be ready to dodge bullets. There is something incredibly beautiful about authentic, honest and trustworthy relationships. We may not be able to find it in the rest of the world, but we should be able to find it in our marriages. May yours be the one.