December 21, 2014

Last-Minute Gifts

Of course, we are generous and helpful all year long. Even so, the routines and demands of daily life tend to take up too much of our time and thoughts, so that we may be inclined to forget just how kind and giving we really are. The holidays bring the joys of generosity to the forefront of our consciousness.

After expressing our love and appreciation with gifts for the people we know, we have the opportunity to express ourselves at an even higher level, by sharing a little of what we have with those we may never know.

    Give to Children and Families

  • Save the Children brings education, medical care, food, and emergency assistance to children in over 120 countries, including the United States.
  • One Laptop Per Child aims to empower poor children through education and technology.
  • Heifer International provides education and livestock to families and communities, allowing people to make long-term life changes that raise them out of hunger and poverty.
  • Meals on Wheels provides vital nutrition and safety checks to millions of seniors throughout the U.S.

  • Give to Animals and Nature

  • The Elephant Sanctuary rescues abused, sick and elderly elephants, providing them with appropriate care in a safe, natural habitat.
  • The North Shore Animal League is the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption agency
  • The World Wildlife Fund works to protect vulnerable places, species and communities worldwide, for the sake of human beings and all living things.
  • The Nature Conservancy pursues pragmatic, market-based solutions to conservation challenges.

Bonus: In the U.S., your charitable donation made before the end of the year also gives a little bit back to you in the form of a tax deduction!

 

November 20, 2014

Would You Do It Again?

Whether it has been ten years, twenty-five, or fifty, the happiest couples in the world are those whose would gladly marry each other all over again. After all the challenges they have faced together, through loss, triumph, disappointment, surprise, sorrow, and joy, their love has endured and grown even stronger with time.

If you and your sweetheart feel this way, this beautiful song is for you to share.





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October 21, 2014

How Can We Ever Agree on Anything?

One way for me, another way for you
When Hubby and I were dating, we had so many habits and preferences that were completely different that we used to joke that we had nothing in common.

For example:
  • One of us likes pizza with thin, crispy crust; the other prefers the deep-dish variety.
  • One of us enjoys country music; the other would rather listen to blues and jazz.
  • We do not fold towels the same way.
  • One person wants to turn the temperature up; the other wants to turn it down.
  • Someone recorded all the episodes of a certain TV show; the other is not going to watch them.
  • We don't have the same way of washing dishes, or loading a dishwasher.
  • One of us would like to take a cruise; the other gets seasick.
  • Someone in this house does not like pumpkin pie; someone else loves it. Ditto guacamole.
  • We don't always agree on what is or isn't recylcable.
  • Sometimes the toilet paper is hung in the wrong position.
  • And so on.

Knowing all this, many people might expect us to argue a lot. Don't all these differences lead to resentment, bickering, and attempts to cajole or manipulate each other into compliance?

Not really.

I just can't imagine fighting with my husband over whether socks should be tucked into each other or folded. Neither of us has ever tried to force the other to get a different haircut, nor have we debated how to organize the refrigerator, the best way to tie shoes, or which way to squeeze toothpaste.

I'm not going to claim that, in 29 years of marriage, we've never had a spirited disagreement. But these have been rare, and never about anything on that list, or anything like it.

When friends and acquaintances are surprised by how well we get along, I have always explained it simply:

"We agree about the big things, the small things aren't worth fighting over, and everything in between can be negotiated."

It really is that simple.

Simple, but not easy.

First, you have to identify the big issues, talk about them, and come to a series of agreements. This process should begin before you get married, and it will continue throughout the first two or three years (sometimes longer). The big issues generally include matters such as money management, everything having to do with children, relationships with in-laws, outside friendships, religion, career choices, where to live, how the housekeeping will get done, and major lifestyle choices.

You can't simply assume that your partner shares all your values or has the same expectations that you do. You will need to reveal and examine your most basic assumptions. You may need to talk about things that make you uncomfortable. Now and then some change in circumstances will bring up a new issue or require the re-evaluation of an old one.

Second, you need to let go of any attachment you have to trivialities. You need to give up the desire to control all the details. Recognize that it truly does not matter how the towels are folded. The location of the drinking glasses in the cupboard will not ruin your life. Your partner's choice of parking spots is not a reflection on anyone's character. Whether you vacuum first and dust later or dust first and vacuum later is not a moral issue. Let it go.

When the big issues are taken care of, you will experience the confidence that comes from having a stable foundation for your relationship and knowing that your basic values are not being violated.

When the little things have been dismissed, your relationship will not be weakened by ongoing irritation and its eventual result, contempt. In a secure, trusting, and peaceful relationship, the partners are much more likely to find mutually satisfactory ways to solve problems. They experience themselves as a team, working together, rather than as opponents.

With the big things and the little things out of the way, whatever is left becomes much more manageable. When we aren't on guard against betrayal, and we aren't exhausted and annoyed from constantly debating petty details, we can approach decision making calmly.

Even if we start with different ideas, some of those decisions are actually fun. Where to go on vacation? Which car to buy? Even when the issues are more serious, such as handling a financial problem or caring for an aging parent, we know we can choose a course of action together. Instead of taking a "my way or the highway" attitude, we talk about the options, weigh the pros and cons, and discuss possible outcomes. With this approach, we nearly always come to an agreement.



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October 17, 2014

Tweeting

From time to time, I like to look at the statistics for my Twitter account to find out which posts resonate the most with my friends and subscribers.


I tried a service called Favstar, which uses a combination of retweets and favorites to measure which tweets are "best". This analysis lists these as the top ten during the past four months.

  • Responding to spouse's unkindness with your own unkindness instantly doubles the mean quotient. Is that what you want?
  • Be slow to blame and quick to apologize.
  • Don't expect your spouse to be a mind reader. Say what you feel, what you want, what you think.
  • Date night doesn't have to be a night. It can also be date afternoon, date morning, date lunch, etc.
  • When you cheat on your spouse you are cheating your children, too.
  • "Letting go of grievances is what you do when you want to stay together." Mira Kirshenbaum
  • Remember, anger originates in pain. Instead of reacting to your spouse's anger, find a way to ease the pain.
  • You won't get everything you want. But you will get things that are worth appreciating.
  • No matter what the subject, use your tone of voice to convey love and respect.
  • Don't horribilize the future with "what if" thoughts. Assume the best.

I tried another service, called My Top Tweet. This one ranks tweets based solely on the number of retweets. Using that criteria, I got a top ten list for the year to date that included four of the tweets chosen by Favstar, plus these:

  • Instead of deleting texts you want to hide from your spouse, delete the contact who tempts you to send them.
  • Never criticize your spouse in front of others. If you have a legitimate complaint, discuss it in private.
  • A small amount of effort can have a big payoff. Do the little things that make your spouse feel loved.
  • Date Night doesn't have to be expensive, it's about focusing on fun with each other.
  • Guys, want more affection? Treat your wife like you did when she was your girlfriend.
  • No "friendship" is worth damaging your marriage.
For measuring a tweet's popularity, I like using retweets a bit more than favorites. Some people use favoriting on Twitter as the equivalent of a "like", while others just use it as a way of bookmarking things. There are others who favorite tweets just to get your attention, hoping you will follow them. When someone retweets your tweet, they like it enough to be willing to identify themselves with it to their own followers.
 

October 15, 2014

Things My Husband Said

Things My Husband Said
This morning I spent a little time remembering some of the things Hubby has said to me, things that brightened my day and made me smile, and a few that just cracked me up. Here are a few examples.

This one is always good: "I saved the last piece for you."

One morning I asked him if I had been snoring. He said, "A little. But it was very soft, like a little bear. It was cute."

At the airport: "I miss you already."

I'm an articulate person with a lot on my mind, and I rarely run out of things to say, especially when the topic is Linguistics, my area of expertise. I told Hubby I was worried about dominating the conversation too much. He said, "Don't worry, I can talk whenever I want. But I enjoy listening to you, even when you're droning on and on about Linguistics."

On more than one occasion, he has remarked that "The thirty-five dollars for the marriage license was the best entertainment deal I ever got."

There is no way to argue with that.