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  • 7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your In-Laws

    7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your In-Laws
    1. Realize You’re on the Same Team
      • What has brought you into one another’s lives is your love for their child. The child they changed a thousand diapers for. The child they made five thousand PB&J’s for. The child that has their eyes, their nose, their laugh, their walk and until you came around, their devotion. Respect what they have invested in their child and work with them, not against them. 
    2. Give the Benefit of the Doubt
      • Parents invest their entire lives into their children and the transition to let them establish their own family is often difficult for them.  Don't assume the worst about their intentions with every comment and action. Realize that there is often selfishness and manipulation at play but that isn’t always the case. 
    3. Choose to Not Be Offended
      • You will lead a considerably miserable life if you allow yourself to be offended by everything that could offend you. Don’t be offended by every family tradition and routine that is different than what you’re used to. Embrace one another’s traditions and personalities as the makeup of the family only gets more diverse and rich. 
    4. Write an Honest Handwritten Note
      • It doesn’t have to be handwritten, an honest heartfelt text message can go a long way too, but it is a lost art that certainly captures the attention of the receiver and the intentions of giver. Say the encouraging things you never seem to find the time to say but will matter a great deal to them.
    5. Find a Way to Create Some Alone Time with Them
      • I’m reminded of Ben Stiller’s character, Greg (or Gaylord), in Meet the Parents as he attempts to get some alone time with Pam’s dad, Robert DeNiro. Greg rides along with his intimidating father-in-law for a quick run to the store and of course, it’s disastrous. It makes for a great movie but these simple ride alongs are every day excellent opportunities for one on one time that can help build a foundation for a great relationship.  
    6. Include Them in your Life: text threads, pictures, planning, etc… 
      • There is a running joke between Taran and I when we do a group text to the grandparents with a picture of our kids, who will be the first to text back? And after that, who will have the most over-the-top response with the most emojis in tow? Be proactive in continuing to involve them in your life instead of constantly trying to shut them out. 
    7. Have Honest Conversations about Boundaries 
      • Establishing excellent relationships with your in-laws is a process but so are all your other relationships. Your marriage will have many challenging learning seasons and you can expect this in this relationship as well. Some parents, in-laws, adult children and spouses are more ready for this transition than others. One final key component to building a great in-law relationship is to have honest conversations about boundaries in the right time and tone. Both parties have to be prepared to live out points #1-3 for this to turn out in a positive manner. Otherwise, you can probably count on working through some conflict. The in-law relationship provides many complexities and challenges to it but is well worth the investment to build
  • 5 Keys to Fighting Fair in Your Marriage

    5 Keys to Fighting Fair in Your Marriage
    In marriage, like champion boxers, you have to approach the fight the right way. Here are some keys to a clean fight so that you both come out alive.
    • Listen Lovingly. Don't be so defensive about everything. When you listen lovingly you actually listen for what they are saying and how they are feeling and not just setting yourself up for the counter punch argument to why you are right and they are wrong. Getting to the root understanding of how your spouse is feeling is essential in fighting forward.
    • Timing and Tone are Vital: Sometimes as a spouse you feel like you have to bob and weave to say the right thing at the right time and in just the right way. It is easy for this marital duty to feel like a chore, the burden of a needy spouse, but it is important we see it differently. We must view this for what it is in the truest sense, not as we might in the moments of stress, exhaustion or anger. Our sensitivity to time and tone is another way we serve our spouse for who and where they are, not who and where we wish they were. 
    • Stay Focused: one of the most common reasons couples end up fighting about the same thing over and over again is a lack of focus in their arguments. The fight starts about the dishes, jumps to the laundry, hops over to money for a terrible turn, hobbles down the hall of the past and then both parties collapse on the living room floor, writhing in anger, pain and frustration for another fight that only set us further back. Fight with purpose. Fight forward. Argue to get somewhere and to learn something that you didn't know before. It's difficult in the heat of the moment but try to stay focused on one topic and work to come to a resolution on it. 
    • No Low Blows: No one can hurt us more than those that know us best. Make up your mind to never go there. Never take a shot in their place of vulnerability. The insecurity that has led them to depression and shame. The failures of their past that only you know about. Anger and pride will attempt to convince us to hit them in the area that we know will bring them to their knees. You will forget what you argued over but neither of you will forget the time you crossed the line. The closer we are to someone, the deeper the words cut. 
    • Fight in the same direction.  Couples that argue regularly forget that they are on the same team. The love of their life  turns into a bitter rival. When you fight in the same direction you both strive for peace. Blessed are the peacemakers. Celebrate their success and mourn in their pain with them. We win as a team. We lose as a team.