Relationship Blessings

As I was thinking about relationships this week, I was reminded that we have a responsibility to love or change our relationships, which got me thinking about how we interact with the people we see (usually) most often, and at our best and worst: our families.  At the end of the day how do you return home from wherever you are?  Do you return home to relax, to eat, to sleep, and/or to bless your family?

I was reading recently about a leader who had just completed a great task, and the chapter ended by saying that he went home to bless his family.  I was taken a bit off guard by that statement.  After all, we all give all day long at our jobs or in our businesses, so having the attitude of continuing to give once we’re home may surprise some of you as well.  Before I go any further let me tell you the number one reason you should consider blessing those in your home: because a large percentage of people go home to an unhappy, at odds, tired, unpleasant home situation.  If you’re the least bit interested in looking forward to going home and being with your family, I encourage you to keep reading.

What does it mean to be a blessing anyway? shares that being a blessing means to bestow good of any kind upon someone.  There are tons of ways you can bless someone!  A few are:

Come home a little early or on time instead of being late.

Bring dessert home.

Help your kids with their homework so your partner doesn’t have to.

Read an extra book with your kids before they go to bed.

Help make dinner or set the table.

Clean up around the house without being asked.

Instead of coming in and complaining or asking questions, greet your partner with a hug and a kiss.

Listen to what your partner is saying instead of ignoring them.

Spend some time doing something different like giving your partner a massage or letting them have the TV remote.

Play with your pet (they need love too).

This week I encourage you to find ways you can be a blessing at home, and see if it doesn’t transform your life at work and at home!

Pandemic Relationship Reflections

You get into a relationship and expect that you’ll have some challenges, but then none of us anticipated this virus and being stuck at home with our significant others for an extended time. For some of us it’s been a very challenging time, we’ve learned that either we’re better off with lots of space and distance between us, or we really shouldn’t be together and in a relationship. Personally, I don’t know why you’re in a relationship with someone if that’s the case, but some would rather have something (or someone) than nothing, and some of us don’t realize that there are people out there who are perfect for us, even if we haven’t met them yet. Maybe this time together will be the motivation people need to choose the best for themselves, even if it means more change in this time of change.

For some of us it’s been an awesome time, with a gift of uninterrupted time together. My partner had surgery at the end of January so he had been spending time at home with me already and then the stay home order happened right before he was heading back to work, so we’ve gotten another month plus added onto our extra together time. For us, in many ways it’s been a positive couple of months first because the surgery went better than the last and he was recovering well, but also because our schedules don’t always line up and this time has been lots of great time to be together.

One of the biggest challenges has been his return to (modified) work this past week. We didn’t spend every waking moment together over the past few months, but it was enough that the change in him going back to work is hard and we’re at a bit of a loss when the other isn’t a few steps, rooms or minutes away. The months together reinforced the bond that we have and made it and us stronger. While I never wanted him to go through the surgeries or for any of us to experience this virus, for many of us it has been a blessing (along with a whole lot of challenge). I think it will encourage many of us to more consistently take time off and consider how we’re spending our time in the future, to really think through our relationship choices, and have new appreciation for the blessings both big and small in our lives.

Community Awareness

This week we’ve had the opportunity to look at Earth Day on Wednesday, it’s an opportunity both to celebrate the planet that we share as well as raise awareness for the damage we’re doing to the planet and ways that we can do better for our planet. Additionally, yesterday was Arbor Day, a day dedicated to the trees, encouraging people to care for and plant them. Tuesday on this blog I talked a bit about mental health, and Wednesday on the Life and Spirituality blog I shared about the idea of progress vs. perfection.

It’s important for us to have discussions about all these topics, and many others that are difficult to talk about, because I do believe we should be working to improve both our lives and our world. I don’t think that we should constantly struggle in a negative way throughout our lives. It’s good to be challenged regularly so that we grow, but challenge to the point of struggle shouldn’t be our default or daily reality. We need to have honest discussions about different aspects of our lives, from our relationships, to our work, to mental health, to physical health, to developmental disabilities, to the environment, to politics. We talk about them not because we want to blame or shame, but to raise awareness, get help and support, and at the very least improve things for those who come after us.

This virus has brought a lot of attention on our world’s health system. While in recent years we’ve done better as a world to care for those who are ill, it’s very clear that we’re not equipped to handle this level of devastation. Of course this isn’t something we deal with often so there’s a level of understanding regarding the struggle to be prepared, but the struggle has shown that we don’t really even have a tentative plan in place for something like this (which is bad). It’s an area that we’ll very obviously be working on in the future.

This virus has also put a spotlight on our family relationships. Being essentially trapped at home with the people you live with has given some of us an abundance of time with our significant others (and any other family members we live with), and is a huge blessing. For those of us that work different times or shifts and wish we could see each other more often, we’ve been handed that opportunity. Sure, there are some challenges that we may be struggling with like finances or teaching our kids or accommodating everyone that’s trying to get work done, but they’re hopefully relatively small bumps and a small price to pay to be with each other during these challenging times.

Unfortunately, the virus has also made very clear that some couples are better off not spending all/any time together, and people in domestic violence situations are struggling greatly to get out of those abusive relationships. The UK has been one of the more outspoken nations about raising awareness for and supporting those in abusive relationships during this time as best they can, unfortunately it’s not something that will go away or just came into existence because of the virus.

I do believe that many couples can work out their differences, whether just between themselves or by working with a pastor or coach or therapist. But some people are just not good and aren’t really capable of loving some people specifically or any person in general, and some relationships just don’t work out. So while I always encourage a couple to consider how they can work things out, the fact is some couples should not be together anymore and it’s healthier for them to go their separate ways as quick as possible.

So this week while you’ve probably still got some extra time on your hands, I encourage you to support or raise awareness for some of the causes and organizations that you care about and make sure that the life you head into as we get back to our lives is one that truly supports you and will help you thrive in the future.

Any Excuse for Love

Valentine’s Day is finally here! It’s the day the US has declared is the day of love. Some might say that Christmas or Easter is the day of love, but that’s a different topic for another day, and today I’m excited to be here with you thinking about love and how we can experience more of it in our lives. This month a couple of times on the blog and in my newsletters I’ve mentioned that we only have one day really dedicated to love. Who can survive on one day a year of love alone and why would you want to? Of course, if that’s the only option, that’s better than not having any love ever, but who really wants to only have love in their life one day of the year?

This year already we’ve lost some well-known people, and you may have been among those that like myself have lost someone you’ve loved or known. Death is never an easy experience to navigate for either the person dying or those who love them, but it’s the moments of love and life experiences that they share that help make the process a little easier.  You can never get that person back, so maybe it’s time that we stop thinking we have forever with someone and start living like we have the limited time with them that we have?

So today I encourage you to not let Valentine’s Day be the only day you celebrate or participate in love. Work harder on incorporating love into your everyday life. Make it something you do because it’s special to you and a privilege to have in your life, rather than something that the greeting card and candy companies say you have to do. Let the little moments turn into treasures rather than letting them pass you by. This Valentine’s Day, for the next 365 days I encourage you to accept and look for any and every excuse to love.

Facts Vs. Feelings

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day here in the US. Valentine’s Day is a date on the calendar that causes stress for many people because they don’t have a date, their relationship is struggling, or they don’t have the funds to put towards what society tells us should be done on Valentine’s Day. Yes, it is based in and started because of commercialism, getting couples to spend money, try to remember how many years they’ve been together, and try to remember what they did last year so they don’t repeat it (unless it was really good). But Valentine’s Day is way more than a commercial holiday, it’s an opportunity to think about the things we feel for the people in our lives, specifically the love we have for our significant other.

Thinking about Valentine’s Day and the two sides of it, fact and feeling, reminded me of a TV show I was watching the other day and in it the character was speaking with a therapist and the therapist asked the person to describe something. The person started talking about the things they did and how the dream played out, and the therapist stopped them, and asked them to share instead about how they feel.

The facts are important, having a plan is important, committing time and effort to things and people, and having details worked out is important, but life is so much more than just information, facts, figures and dates. We wouldn’t work as hard as we do if we truly didn’t believe in what we did or believed in supporting our families and had some dreams for our lives.

As we finish out this week, whether you have Valentine plans or not, I encourage you to make time for both fact and feeling. Don’t hide from either of them, or pick one or the other, our lives, victories and relationships are stronger, healthier and more sustainable when we allow both fact and feeling play the role that they’re supposed to play.

Doing Valentine’s Day Right?

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away, do you have plans with your significant other and/or a gift for them? The other day I was listening to the radio and they were talking about the iconic red heart box with chocolates in it that appears each Valentine’s Day and so may people gift along with flowers and jewelry. I find it a bit funny that Valentine’s Day has a traditional gift but no other holidays do (unless you’re giving coal at Christmas). But humor and specific gifts aside, it is healthy and important to celebrate your relationship with your significant other, so today I thought we’d talk a bit about that celebration.

The iconic red heart box got me thinking about what we do with Valentine’s Days. Do we stick with the traditional expensive restaurant and heart box/flowers/tie gifts because we love them and find it special or it brings up a treasured memory for us, or maybe it’s time to be honest about how different each of us are and how we throw out most of the heart box chocolates because we only like some, or hate spending so much on a restaurant, or hate being obligated to only have that specific day to celebrate our relationships.

So what if this year you did something different? Maybe for you that is going to the fancy restaurant and doing the heart-box chocolates. Or maybe you would add more to your relationship if you went back to a place you went on one of your early dates. Or maybe you would find more value in finally tackling a home project together. Or maybe visiting a therapist would be more honoring to your relationship. Or maybe you try a new restaurant and/or activity each year to honor how your relationship has changed and developed over time.

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the relationship that we’re in, but it’s also an opportunity to honor love and the role it has in our lives. No two relationships look the same, so why should we all celebrate in the exact same way?  Do what is right for your relationship at the stage of the journey that you are at.  How will you honor your relationship with your significant other?

Knowing You’re Loved

My partner is home recovering from what I hope to be his final knee surgery, so as I was in the kitchen cutting up strawberries I thought about the fact that I didn’t really know how he ate strawberries. Obviously, it’s not a big deal and so I just cut them as I thought he might like them, but it got me thinking about February and Valentine’s Day and the topic of love, and how we know if we’re loved.

Even back when we were kids we would pass notes around that said things like ‘do you like me circle one: yes/no.’ As simple as they are and as silly as they were, those notes were a great declaration of love or interest when the person replied in the affirmative, and great examples and opportunities of communication. This month you will hopefully hear and read some really great love stories, from those in articles and on news stories to books and even billboards. Every love story is different, and not all of them have a happy ending, but we can learn something important from each of them, just like we learn from these simple notes as a kid how important it is to communicate our love to each other.

Most of us aren’t professional writers, we don’t write romance books for a living, and every relationship has ups and downs (hopefully more ups than downs, of course). But do the people you love know that you love them? Yes, you can show them that you love them through a thousand different actions, but the words are so important as well. Beyond ‘I love you,’ it’s important to say things like ‘you matter to me,’ ‘I thought about you today,’ ‘I appreciate you,’ and ‘I’m glad you’re here.’

Do the people in your life like your significant other and your kids/family, know that you love them? Do you tell them and show them from the big gestures and words to small ways and simple moments? Make it your goal this month to let the people in your life know that you love them.

Relationships to Believe In

The other day I was reminded of the importance of supporting your partner. I know that sounds really simple, and in some ways it is that simple, but there’s also more to it. A relationship is filled with opportunities for personal growth and learning, both who you are as a person and how you work with others. Relationships also come with challenges to face and they can go through very rocky patches. Even with the best matches, there will still be things that you have to work through, that will frustrate you about the other person and you’ll have to learn compromise. The most successful relationships are with people who learn how to give and take, support each other, communicate, and work together.

But beyond that what I was thinking about this week was about believing in your partner. To believe means to “to have confidence in the truth, or the reliability of something or someone,” “to have confidence in the assertions of (a person),” “to have a conviction that (a person or thing) is, has been, or will be engaged in a given action or involved in a given situation.” Believing in your partner and them in you and both of you in your relationship is a level deeper and beyond just supporting each other, it’s a level of commitment, confidence and conviction that doesn’t exist in all relationships.

What do you believe? Do you believe in your relationship? Do you really believe in your partner? Do you believe in what they bring to your relationship? Do you believe in and support their dreams? Do they believe in you and the relationship as you do? If you believe but are feeling a little tired or frustrated, that’s one thing. It’s another thing if you’re just counting time and sticking it out and you don’t believe in them and the relationship or they in you and the relationship. If that’s the case and you want the relationship to be one you believe in, then it’s time to have a serious conversation about where the relationship is going with your partner. If you aren’t at the place that you need a relationship and partner you believe in, then just enjoy what you’ve got until it’s time to move on. Are you in a relationship you believe in?

Relationship Challenges and Choices

I’ve talked with a few people last week whose partners are either ignorant, selfish, not considerate or completely overwhelmed. Of course this means that the people I’ve spoken with are overwhelmed and very frustrated in their respective situations.

Is it a communication issue? Is it a personal issue? Is it a lack of commitment to the relationship issue? All of these are possible, and all of these could be partially involved in the issues that have come up. Another part could be that they’re just not meant to be together. Sometimes you have to know when to pack it in. The resentment can just continue to build if both partners aren’t equally willing to put the time, effort and communication into having a healthy and satisfying relationship.

With this new year it’s a great time to evaluate your relationship.  If you’re struggling with your partner and you haven’t had a conversation about it in the past, the first thing to do is let them know and sit down and have a serious conversation about it. If they don’t respond after you’ve tried to clearly, completely and calmly tell them several times that you’re struggling to pull weight for both of you in the relationship, bring in professional help like a coach or pastor you trust. If they won’t go with you or without you to see that professional, you have to decide if you want to go by yourself, want to stay with the relationship and you’ve just got some unrealistic expectations and desires, or if it’s time to do a trial or permanent separation.

Relationships are some of the best and most challenging aspects of our lives, so it’s important to stand for what you need and be the supportive person your partner needs.  What steps do you need to take in your relationship this year?

Relationship Pride

This week I had an interesting conversation with my significant other which got me thinking about how we see our significant others and how they see us, and raised a question of pride. We often talk about pride with regard to what our children and grandchildren do or who they are, or sexual orientation or even pets, and sometimes it comes up with regards to how successful or helpful our company or organization is. But I don’t really think about pride in terms of myself or my partner and our relationship. I think about being thankful or happy or feeling accomplished or loved/loving or teamwork, and you probably do too. So ask yourself what I asked myself this week, are you proud of your partner and your relationship?

There’s really two questions there, the first with regards to being proud of your partner. Having someone be proud of you is empowering, it helps boost your confidence and makes you feel good about yourself. When someone else knows you’re proud of them, it gives them that power, and in some ways it’s more powerful when someone is proud of you than just when you’re proud about yourself because you know that someone else believes in you and celebrates you too.

The other question is with regards to being proud of your relationship. This might be one of the missing keys that helps keep relationships healthy, alive and thriving. When you have a sense of pride about something you care for it a little better, give it priority attention and invest in it. If you’re proud of your relationship you also want to show it off and be with your partner in private and public, developing bonds and spending time with other couples and families and generally doing things together.

If you’re in a healthy relationship, one that you really do value and want to stay in, even if lately it may have been going through a rough patch, you should find several things in and about your relationship and your partner that you can be proud of. What are you celebrating today?