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Making Time for Romance

Connecting with your partner emotionally and physically is a soothing balm for our frazzled lives. A foot massage and a sympathetic ear give us the chance to recharge our selves and our love lives. But after a long day of putting out fires at work,handling numerous phone calls, writing up that report, shuttling the kids back and forth, cooking, doing laundry, walking the dog, etc., etc.- the last thing on your mind is romance. With so much competing for our attention it is easy to focus on everything but each other. So, how do you find the time to connect with your sweetie? Make intimacy a habit just like your morning coffee and bagel by adding it into your daily routine.

1. Compliment each other on the things you like and appreciate about each other every day. Let your partner know that he/she is in your thoughts and in your heart.

2. Create your own simple rituals that show that you care about each other. Find a way to connect during the day with a note, a phone call, or an email.

3. Listen without giving advice, taking responsibility, or trying to “fix” things. Let your mate enjoy the luxury of knowing that you are really listening. Only give feedback if your mate asks for it.

4. Talk to each other about what’s going on in your lives besides the day-to-day running of the household or office talk. Share what you are feeling.

5. Hold each other. A simple hug can do wonders.

6. Instead of the standard, “How was your day?” exchange, pick at least one good thing about your day and share it with each other.

7. Give each other a kiss when coming and going.

8. Laugh together – often.

9. Plan a regular “date” night once a week.

10. Say the words “I love you.”

You may be thinking that your relationship is the one thing in your hectic life that is stress-free, so why change things? While there is a certain level of comfort and predictability in a long-term relationship, the danger is that you may stop listening and may stop “being there” for your relationship. Knowing your mate inside and out can also give both of you the illusion that you can read each other’s minds. And this can lead to misunderstandings which, when piled on top of each other, can lead to relationship disasters. Talk to each other. Listen. Ask questions. Don’t assume. As you continue to grow and change as an individual, so will your relationship. Keep the lines of communication open by not tuning each other out. This doesn’t just apply to verbal communication either. If your mate feels more like a roommate than a lover, perhaps you should incorporate more “togetherness” into your daily routines. Love is in the little things, in the day-to-day details of our lives.

 

Edel Jarboe is the founder and of Simpler Living (http://www.simplerliving.com), an online magazine helping you balance work, family, and life. She also publishes a free weekly newsletter, which features personal happiness tips, time management tips, and advice on goal setting, stress management, coping with difficult people, and overcoming obstacles. Past Issues: http://www.simplerliving.com/sln.htm Subscribe: mailto:subscribe@simplerliving.com?subject=Subscribe

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Conceiving Family

I had the great pleasure of watching a new documentary today called “Conceiving Family“. The film chronicled four couples through their journey to build their family. All four couples spoke of their desire to be parents and the love they want to share with a child. They spoke of the options they considered — including surrogacy and donor insemination — and how they came to their decisions to adopt — domestic, overseas, special needs, private and public. They share their anxiety, frustrations, challenges and finally their joy of realizing they would be parents.

Did I mention these four couples are gay? Oh yeah, the couples in the film are all same sex couples. How does that make you feel?

There are thousands of children, from newborns to teens, in need of a permanent family. However, there are still a lot of barriers to gays and lesbians adopting a child. Interestingly, the number of gay and lesbian households that are choosing to have a family is rising exponentially. In the USA, the Child Welfare Information Gateway says there are between 8 and 10 million children are being raised by gay parents — An estimated two million Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual people are interested in adopting.

I went looking on the internet for some information and statistics to write this article. Aside from objective information, facts, and figures, I found a lot more.

One website says: “The implications are severe. With the acceptance of two homosexuals as joint parents, the family is torn from its traditional and God-inspired balance of a mother and a father both giving of their commitment, love and essence to the children.”

Wow. I didn’t realize that just being a heterosexual couple automatically makes you a great parent! Phew, that’s a relief. No need to worry about those parents — we need to focus on the torn families that will surely result from same sex parents.

This was just the tip of the iceburg, and frankly, although I knew there was a lot of opposition to same sex couples having children, I guess I didn’t think it would be so hateful.

Interestingly, one of the couples encountered simular beliefs. The Christian Fundamentalist foster parents who had cared for the children that one couple hoped to adopt expressed fear that the children would, “grow up to be gay” with parents who are “going to hell for their sins.” I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who may wish to watch the film, so you will have to see for yourself how this turns out.

There is a lot of prejudice out there regarding same sex couples and whether they should be allowed to adopt a child at all. There are others who say that sexual orientation doesn’t matter, as long as the child will be in a happy home filled with love. There are also people who find themselves somewhere in the middle.

The film is enlightening, entertaining, humorous, and also pulls at your heartstrings. Some will rejoice in the message; others will be uncomfortable. I recommend the documentary no matter what your beliefs.

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Teaching Your Children – Honesty

Have you ever caught your children in a lie? Have you ever told a lie?

If you answered no, well, I think you are lying!

I am sure we have all told some little white lies in our time to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. We may have even found ourselves in a situation when a lie seemed like a good idea at the time and told a doozy that we regretted later (or not!).

And you can bet that at some point when you were growing up, you lied to your parents to do something you were not supposed to do or to not get into trouble for something you did. Why would you think your kids would be any different?
Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny

I’m not talking about the “lies” about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy either. Although, some people do classify these as harmful lies we should never tell our children; I don’t believe that.

Compulsive Lying

What I want to talk about is the compulsive liar; the ones who lie about the important things, the ones that lie so much they no longer seem to be able to tell the truth or keep their lies straight or the ones who lie to cover up their other lies. This happens with both children and adults. I think we have a responsibility to our children to be honest with them and teach them the importance of honesty.

Encouraging Your Children to Lie?

I know a parent who had her child lie for her to her husband (also the child’s father) about where they were and who they were with.  If you want to lie, well then as an adult I guess that is your prerogative. But having your child lie to their other parent for you? What is this teaching the child? How must this make the child feel? I think it teaches two things. First, that it is ok to do things you are not supposed to do, and second, that it’s ok to lie about it.

When Would the Lies Stop?

Many say that one of the most important things in our love relationships is honesty. When our kids grow up and are in relationships of their own, how will they know what this looks like if they did not experience it growing up? If we do not teach our kids honesty, are we setting them up for failure in their future relationships?

Teaching About Honesty

I think the best way to teach honesty to our children is by example. If they see us being truthful, that is what they learn; if they see us being deceitful, that is what they learn.

If we are truthful with our children, they will learn to be truthful with us and with others.

Sometimes this is not easy! Kids ask tough questions and sometimes the truth may not be pleasant. Also, sometimes the truth will not shed the best light on us! If we mess up, we should admit it, not lie try to cover it up. I think aside from teaching honesty, seeing that their parents are not perfect and are willing to own up to their shortcomings teaches them a lot too.

Besides, telling the truth makes life much easier. As Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” How do some people keep all the lies straight? Maybe they have told them so often that they actually believe them to be true. I don’t know.

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Breaking up with a Friend

Ending a Friendship

I am fortunate to have many great friends in my life. I know that they will be there for me, and that I will be there for them through good times and not so good times. We can laugh and cry together. These are people I enjoy spending time with, and enjoy spending time with me. Sadly, I have also had friendships that were not so great. I’m sure this is true for most of us.

Sometimes we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships – and often we are not sure how we got there or when it happened. Sometimes friendships start out great and then over time things change. Other times, we just don’t see the dysfunction for a long time. Many times we keep up with these friendships because we have invested a lot of ourselves into the relationship. How do you know when to just walk away?

First thing, it’s ok to end a friendship. Just like it is ok to get out of a romantic relationship if things are not working for you, it is ok to end a friendship too. It hurts (a lot!), it doesn’t feel good (that’s an understatement!), but in the end you will be better for it.

Break the Habit

Sometimes we remain friends with someone because we have been friends for so long. Long time friendships can be wonderful and very rewarding. It is natural for any long term relationship to go through ups and downs and periods of closeness and distance. We may have friends that we don’t see often, but when we do see them, it is like no time has passed. There is a closeness and connection!

However, there may be times when you just don’t have any connection to the person anymore and you just see each other out of habit. It’s ok to break the habit if you don’t feel you want to spend time with that person anymore. It’s doesn’t need to be drastic, sometimes these relationships can just gradually fade away.

Feeling Unvalued

Have you ever found yourself remaining friends with someone even though you no longer feel good about spending time in their company or feel that you are not valued? You are not alone by any means. It can be heartbreaking! When you realise this, it’s ok to distance yourself from that person or end the friendship all together.

One sided friendships

Have you ever been in a friendship where you feel as though you are the only one really making an effort to maintain the friendship? Are you the one initiating contact most of the time? Does being this persons friend make you sad, wondering why they don’t make an effort? If so, it’s ok to stop making contact. You may not even need to ‘break up” as often the friendship will just fade away without you making all the effort.

Negativity Bringing You Down

If you find that you are brought down by being with someone because of a negative attitude, or are brought down by listening to them talk negatively about others, it is time to look for more positive people to spend your time with.

Feeling Judged

It’s ok for people to have different viewpoints, beliefs, and values. It is not ok is when someone is judging you for being different from them. You don’t need this person in your life.

How to End it?

Sometimes you can just let a friendship fade away. Other times, you may have to just be blunt and let the person know you do not wish to spend time with them. Be honest with yourself and with them, and try not to blame. Try to not let your emotions run wild; if you can be matter-of-fact and not get into an emotional roller coaster ride with your friend, you will feel better for it in the long run.

Enjoy the Good Friendships

When you stop being friends with people who are not good for you, you will have more time to enjoy the healthy relationships in your life!

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Pregnancy and Infant Loss

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. For some, the joy of pregnancy or parenthood turns into a time of great loss and unbearable grief.

Sadly, many people are afraid to talk about this, leaving those who have experienced infant loss feeling very alone. Silent, unprocessed grief from previous pregnancy loss can have a huge impact on their lives going forward.

For friends and family, it is so hard to know what to say or do. It is important to remember that for many who have experienced loss, they want to recognize the birth of their baby, not just their baby’s death. They need love and support.

Family and friends should acknowledge the loss of a baby like any other member of the family. Never dismiss it with comments like ‘you can try again’ or ‘don’t worry, it happens all the time’.

It’s ok to express that you don’t know what to say. Just being lovingly present is often the best thing you can do.

Keep in contact, even though you don’t know what to say, or how to offer support. Here are some suggestions of ways to start the conversation:

“I am so sorry for your loss of your baby. I just don’t know what to say or do but know that I care about you and am thinking of you”
“I am so sorry for the loss of ……..…. Is it a good time to call?”
“It just breaks my heart to hear you lost your baby. How can I help you through this?”
“How are you really feeling today?”
“When you are ready, I would like to hear more about your baby”

You also may want to do more practical things to offer your support. Instead of asking if they want help, which is often met with a response of “No, it’s ok”, suggest ways that you can help. For example:

“I’ll come over later and do your laundry for you”
“Can I pick something up for you from the store?”
“I’ll cook dinner for you tonight”

Don’t forget the father. Often the focus is on the mother, but we need to remember the father is grieving too, even though they may be trying to be strong and support their partner.

How to Have a Happy Marriage When You’re Busy Being Parents

Is your marriage everything you ever hoped it could be? Or has it been pushed down your list of priorities since having children? Let’s face it, parenthood is a full-time job, and it dramatically changes your marriage relationship. But marriage is the foundation upon which your entire family is structured. If your marriage is strong, your whole family will be strong; your life will be more peaceful, you’ll be a better parent, and you’ll, quite simply, have more fun in your life.

Make a commitment
To create or maintain a strong marriage you will have to take the first critical step: You must be willing to put time, effort and thought into nurturing your marriage. The ideas that follow will help you follow through on this commitment and will put new life and meaning into your marriage. A wonderful thing may happen. You may fall in love with your spouse all over again. In addition, your children will greatly benefit from your stronger relationship. Children feel secure when they know that Mom and Dad love each other-particularly in today’s world, where 50 percent of marriages end in divorce; half of your children’s friends have gone, or are going through a divorce; or maybe it’s your kids who have survived a divorce and are now living in a new family arrangement. Your children need daily proof that their family life is stable and predictable. When you make a commitment to your marriage, your children will feel the difference. No, they won’t suffer from neglect! They’ll blossom when your marriage-and their homelife-is thriving.

The surprising secret is that this doesn’t have to take any extra time in your already busy schedule. Just a change in attitude plus a committed focus can yield a stronger, happier marriage.

So here’s my challenge to you. Read the following suggestions and apply them in your marriage for the next 30 days. Then evaluate your marriage. I guarantee you’ll both be happier.

Look for the good, overlook the bad
You married this person for many good reasons. Your partner has many wonderful qualities. Your first step in adding sizzle to your marriage is to look for the good and overlook the bad.

Make it a habit to ignore the little annoying things – dirty socks on the floor, a day-old coffee cup on the counter, worn out flannel pajamas, an inelegant burp at the dinner table – and choose instead to search for those things that make you smile: the way he rolls on the floor with the baby; the fact that she made your favorite cookies, the peace in knowing someone so well that you can wear your worn out flannels or burp at the table.

Give two compliments every day
Now that you’ve committed to seeing the good in your partner, it’s time to say it! This is a golden key to your mate’s heart. Our world is so full of negative input, and we so rarely get compliments from other people. When we do get a compliment, it not only makes us feel great about ourselves, it actually makes us feel great about the person giving the compliment! Think about it! When your honey says, “You’re the best. I’m so glad I married you.” It not only makes you feel loved, it makes you feel more loving.

Compliments are easy to give, take such a little bit of time, and they’re free. Compliments are powerful; you just have to make the effort to say them. Anything works: “Dinner was great, you make my favorite sauce.” “Thanks for picking up the cleaning. It was very thoughtful, you saved me a trip.” “That sweater looks great on you.”

Play nice
That may sound funny to you, but think about it. How many times do you see — or experience — partners treating each other in impolite, harsh ways that they’d never even treat a friend? Sometimes we take our partners for granted and unintentionally display rudeness. As the saying goes, if you have a choice between being right and being nice, just choose to be nice. Or to put this in the wise words of Bambi’s friend Thumper, the bunny rabbit – “If you can’t say somethin’ nice don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Pick your battles
How often have you heard this advice about parenting? This is great advice for child-rearing-and it’s great advice to follow in your marriage as well. In any human relationship there will be disagreement and conflict. The key here is to decide which issues are worth pursuing and which are better off ignored. By doing this, you’ll find much less negative energy between you.

From now on, anytime you feel annoyed, take a minute to examine the issue at hand, and ask yourself a few questions. “How important is this?” “Is this worth picking a fight over?” “What would be the benefit of choosing this battle versus letting it go?”

The 60 second cuddle
You can often identify a newly married couple just by how much they touch each other – holding hands, sitting close, touching arms, kissing – just as you can spot an “oldly-married” couple by how little they touch. Mothers, in particular, often have less need for physical contact with their partners because their babies and young children provide so much opportunity for touch and cuddling that day’s end finds them “touched fulfilled”. So here’s a simple reminder: make the effort to touch your spouse more often. A pat, a hug, a kiss, a shoulder massage – the good feeling it produces for both of you far outweighs the effort.

Here’s the deal: Whenever you’ve been apart make it a rule that you will take just 60 seconds to cuddle, touch and connect. This can be addictive! If you follow this advice soon you’ll find yourselves touching each other more often, and increasing the romantic aspect of your relationship.

Spend more time talking to and listening to your partner
I don’t mean, “Remember to pick up Jimmy’s soccer uniform.” Or “I have a PTA meeting tonight.” Rather, get into the habit of sharing your thoughts about what you read in the paper, what you watch on TV, your hopes, your dreams, your concerns. Take a special interest in those things that your spouse is interested in and ask questions. And then listen to the answers.

Spend time with your spouse
It can be very difficult for your marriage to thrive if you spend all your time being “Mommy” and “Daddy”. You need to spend regular time as “Husband” and “Wife”. This doesn’t mean you have to take a two-week vacation in Hawaii. (Although that might be nice, too!) Just take small daily snippets of time when you can enjoy uninterrupted conversation, or even just quiet companionship, without a baby on your hip, a child tugging your shirtsleeve or a teenager begging for the car keys. A daily morning walk around the block or a shared cup of tea after all the children are in bed might work wonders to re-connect you to each other. And yes, it’s quite fine to talk about your children when you’re spending your time together, because, after all, your children are one of the most important connections you have in your relationship.

When you and your spouse regularly connect in a way that nurtures your relationship, you may find a renewed love between you, as well as a refreshed vigor that will allow you to be a better, more loving parent. You owe it to yourself – and to your kids – to nurture your relationship.

So take my challenge and use these ideas for the next 30 days. And watch your marriage take on a whole new glow.

Parts of this article are excerpted with permission from books by Elizabeth Pantley:Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate and Hidden Messages: What Our Words and Actions are Really Telling Our Children http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. and by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary