Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Marriage Therapy: Lesson 4

I hope you have money problems.
That probably seems like an odd thing to say, but it's true. I hope the biggest problem in your marriage is money because it's one of the easiest to fix. Note, I didn't say you wouldn't have money problems, but it won't be a problem in your marriage if you learn to look at money differently.
So here's one question that may change your perspective. Is money more important than your spouse?
If your answer is yes, then zoom on back to the first marriage therapy lesson and do it so you can see how amazing your spouse is. Everyone has amazing, you just have to find it. If you're still struggling after that exercise, let me know and I'll write more on that subject.
If your answer is no, which I hope is most everyone's honest answer, then that's the best first step to eradicating money as a problem in your marriage. Money should never be more important than a human being. Duh, right? But when we fight about money, get upset about money, complain about money, then we are placing it as a higher value over the people in our lives. If you're feeling awful because you've done one of the things just listed, don't beat yourself up. We've all done it and now you have the proper perspective to change it.
Here's another thing to consider. No matter how much money couples have or don't have, they could fight over it. But you don't have to be that way. You can learn to look at money troubles as a challenge that you can conquer together. Here's some steps that help
1. Become informed. Track purchases from the last few months to see where your money is going.  Don't get frustrated by it. It's in the past. It's done. What matters is how you are going to change to make it better.  
2. Set a reasonable goal. Figure out a dollar amount with your spouse that you should save, or not spend, or put toward something else. Give your goal a time frame. You may not agree with your spouse's goal and he/she might not agree with yours. So each of you will have to budge and come up with a goal somewhere in the middle. It's hard, but once you can both agree on something together, you'll be able to work on it together.
. Look for ways that YOU can cut back, not your spouse. Don't put blame on them, even if they spend more than you do. Everyone has a different emotional attachment to money. Show them love and encouragement instead of criticism and you will be able to make progress. I repeat, criticism will NOT help you in your money issues. It won't help you in your marriage in any way either.  
. If your spouse doesn't volunteer to cut back, ask your spouse nicely if they could make some changes. If you yell at them, they won't make changes. 
5. Track your progress. Track receipts. There are some online services that can help you do this. I personally use a computer spreadsheet program. If you prefer oldschool, go the paper route.
As you work on money issues together in a blame free environment, you'll grow together. If you overspend, say you're sorry and try to do better. If your spouse overspends, forgive them with encouragement so they can improve.
If money is so tight that you're hungry, know that I get it. We've been there before. It's hard. But we worked through it. You can too. You'll need hope, optimism, and determination to work hard. Trust in each other that things will work out, even if they seem impossible. Experience and reading about the countless lives of others has taught me that things will work out for those who keep trying with hope and optimism. 

And just think, you have someone beside you to work through the difficulties of life. How lucky is that?


Saturday, September 23, 2017

New Watercolor Designs

The newest watercolors in my shop for your next project. All have very generous commercial use terms.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


I read a quote yesterday that really did something for me. I usually read a quote, think it's good, and then move on, but this one empowered me toward application.

"All Negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry -- all forms of fear --are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence. 
--Eckhart Tolle

I was in a good place when I heard this and feeling optimistic. A few minutes later, I was driving home, by myself. I had time to think without a two-year-old screaming, a five-year-old saying "Guess what?" or older kids mad at me for something I didn't get done. I had silence and time for just me.

It wasn't long before something from the past crept into my thoughts and I noticed immediately the change in my mood. It was such a contrast. I'd been hopeful and with one small thought, that hope was gone. 

Instead of lingering on those stupid, negative thoughts, I told them to go away. They were past. Done. Finished. And I no longer needed them. Those worries were over, needed to be over, didn't help me in any way.

As I finished my drive, I focused on my senses to center me in the present moment, where I once again regained hope. The inside of my car was quiet. Occasional quiet for me, a mom of four girls, is a good thing and I began enjoying where I was. I was able to drive without feeling pain in my body, something that isn't always the case--another good thing. The mountains around me are beautiful--another great thing. The smell of the perfume my husband bought me a few years back still lingered on my shirt, reminding me that I'm loved. And the gum in my mouth reminded me that through the help of friends, I learned that chewing gum helps me to not be carsick anymore. So in that moment, everything was fine. Everything was good. 

If I'd focused on that negative thought, my mood would have been so sour when I reached my destination. It was definitely an eye opening experience for me. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Marriage Therapy: Lesson 3

This week's post wasn't my idea. I asked my husband what he thought and here goes:

Let your spouse be right.

See that there wasn't lots of froofy talk before I got to the point? I figured that's how he'd put it.

But seriously, how often do you let your spouse be right (even if he/she isn't)? Sometimes we battle over opinions and when we do, we're pushing each other away. Maybe you're positive the freeway entrance in the blasted city you graced is to the right, but your spouse is sure it's to the left. Why don't you just go left? What does it hurt? Some time? Some pride? And if they're wrong, what happens if you rub it in? The better question is what happens if you don't?

I could tell you the science and cases behind this thought, but the best way for you to understand it is to try. The next time you're about to contradict your spouse, stop what you were going to say and change it to something like this: "You know what pumpkin, or sugar, or snickerdoodle, or computational device (hey, I don't know what's sweet to you!) -- you just might be right."

Go for it. And who knows, maybe you're both right. The truth is if you're fighting about it, you'll both be wrong. 

P.S. Don't choose a major decision for your first try. That could be bad, very bad. Do something simple. 

Spouse: "I think Mouse Trap's pizza sounds better than Meat Lover Supreme."
You: Swallow. "I think you may be right" (And I certainly won't rub it in your face if you're wrong) "Mouse Trap it is."

P.S. If you're wondering, I create all the graphics on the pictures...for better or worse. ;)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Marriage Therapy: Lesson 2

Are you excited for this week's post? I am! I've thought of this one for years.

This week's assignment requires you to use a little imagination and a trip back to the 70's (don't worry if you weren't alive then, I wasn't.)

You've heard of rose colored glasses right? They change how an image is displayed by altering the colors, making everything prettier. This week, I want you to put on a figurative pair of rose-colored glasses and we're going to only see the beauty around us. We're going to ignore dirty socks, comments and words that cut, cold shoulders--whatever it is you're dealing with.

We're going to notice if a meal was made, or hours worked, a hug or kiss, or a compliment. We're going to see the good around us in our spouse. It's there. Everyone has good. If you look for it, you'll find it.

Every time you see something that would normally bug you, put on those glasses. If you see that pair of socks lying there next to the hamper, put on those glasses and be grateful you've got someone to share this crazy life with. Even though some days it might not feel like it, it's better than being alone.

I hope this week you find more beauty. If you don't or things aren't improving as you try my excercises please start to consider professional counseling. Sometimes extra help is needed and it can take some time to warm up to the idea. Think about it and keep trying! Please, keep trying. Marriage is one of the most special, wonderful things on the earth and worth whatever the cost to fix. Marriages are fixable!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Marriage Therapy: Lesson 1

I’ve been lost for a while. Lost because I didn’t know what I was really doing to bless and benefit others. Yeah, yeah I’m a mom and I know that I can bless my kids lives every day, but there is something else that I need to give. That I want to give.

I’ve been working hard trying to develop any possible talent or interest that I have to see if one of those things is what I could give. But nothing has clicked. Nothing feels like it helps. Baking cookies and making meals doesn’t feel like it’s changing any worlds. So I’ve been down. For months. Maybe even years.

Tonight, something changed. I was doing some spiritual reading and something clicked, something was brought to my memory.

I used to give marriage tips and advice on my blog and I’ve had outpourings of people telling me that my words, my thoughts, helped to save their marriage. I wanted to write more, share more of the things I learned through my degree and my observations of others and practices in my own marriage. BUT, and here’s the big but...I let doubts creep in. I worried that no one would read my advice and I would waste time that could be better served making a casserole or something for someone else. (That thought was stupid seeing as I’d already had over a million page hits for my marriage article that went viral—obviously people are reading what I’m putting out).

So the doubts amplified in intensity to what stopped me from moving forward--what if I said something wrong and someone’s marriage fell apart because of one of my ideas. Ouch. That doubt has kept me from speaking out, it’s been holding me back. It’s made me bite my tongue more times than I want to admit.

But no more. I’m done. Yes, I’m not perfect. I may say something stupid or my advice might not work specifically for every single case. But I have something to give. I have ideas and thoughts that HAVE worked. That HAVE helped.

So, here’s to a fresh start. And here’s this weeks Marriage Therapy, Lesson 1:

This week’s assignment is to list 5 strengths and 5 talents of your spouse that you wouldn’t want to live without.



If you don’t think it’s easy, then you and I need to have a little talk.

I think I have a gift of seeing the good in others because after talking to someone—anyone—for about 20 minutes, I could probably list off 5 strengths and 5 talents. With that said, this next part I’m going to say is going to hurt if you can’t easily come up with this list in your spouse. Ready? It’s going to sting. I warned you...

You’re an idiot.

Sorry, I had to do it. If you can’t see 5 strengths and 5 talents in your spouse then you’ve kept your eyes shut tight. You’ve been allowing yourself to ignore the amazingness (yes, I made that up) in another human being that you’ve pledged to spend your life with. That sucks for you and I’m sorry. It sucks for your spouse too. Thankfully, life is forgiving (even though it often doesn’t feel that way). In this next week, you can open your eyes and figure out 5 strengths and 5 talents your spouse has that makes your world go round (and you’ll see how big of an idiot you’ve been for not noticing earlier—again, I’m sorry).

So, do your assignment and then check back in with me next week. If you want, tell me what this assignment has done to help you and your spouse and your marriage. If you have a negative experience, I’m truly sorry. But, I’m pretty confident that if you have a negative experience, you’re doing something wrong.

I’ll be back next week with another idea and I hope and pray (I can’t tell you how much I’ve prayed for other people’s marriages) that this will help.