Creating the Forever Mindset

Following on from my last post I thought I’d share some practical tips on creating the FOREVER mindset:

1. Have a marriage health check

No, I’m not talking about going to the doctors for that continual itch in your jocks (though you probably should have that seen to)! I’m talking about having an honest look at where your marriage is at. Are there walls that have been built up because you think something is missing from your marriage? For example; do you have a sense of entitlement about things? Are you withholding love or conversation? Perhaps not serving your spouse because you think you’re owed something? Are you spending enough time getting to know each other? Learning about this person who has ever changing goals, fears and passions. The person you married way back when may be a very different person today. Re-acquaint yourself with that person.

2. Create an environment of intimacy

Remember those days when you were dating, and the phone calls lasted for hours the dates were non-stop full of chatter, laughter, conversation and thought provoking discussion? In a marriage, intimacy isn’t just about the sexual union, but rather intimacy is about sharing your thoughts, emotions, weaknesses and passions, as well as your body. As many have said before, there’s a reason it’s pronounced; into-me-see. Learn to be vulnerable with the things that you are holding too close to your chest. Most importantly make time to share these with each other. Turning the TV off, taking the phones/laptops out of the room and going for walks really helps us. Going for walks in particular seems to work really well. We’ve actually found that we share more in a 30 minute walk than in an hour or two of sitting around the house. Try it!

3. Creating the FOREVER mindset

For Dave and I there have been times when throwing in the towel seemed like the easy option. However early in our marriage we decided to accept the ‘forever mindset’. This means that you acknowledge that as ugly or as hard as things may look, somehow you’re both are going to make this work. Although it may sometimes feel you’re married to a complete stranger, somehow you will find a way to fall in love all over again. That no matter what happens, through thick and thin, you’re in this together. When you create that mindset, you’re left with only two other options: 1) be happy or 2) be unhappy. When you both choose happiness you’ll make the tough calls and push through the tough times and rediscover a place of genuine love for each other.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

There are many reasons why couples don’t seek advice; some think their problems are irreparable and can’t see the point, others think getting help means they’ve failed or their marriage is in serious trouble. Neither are correct though. If we’re honest, none of us have all the answers. There’s some truth in the saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”. That’s why I’d encourage anyone who feels like their marriage could be better to seek advice from professionals and mentors. Best of all they’ll be able to give you personalized advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, often all we need is a guide to help us navigate our way through it.

These are just some of the things that have helped Dave and I get through the first five years. While it definitely hasn’t been without its share of struggles we’re stoked that forever is yet to come! I hope they help and encourage you in your own marriage journey.
What things are you doing to create the FOREVER mindset in your marriage?
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Five years of Forever

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”

– Mignon McLaughlin

Dave and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary the other week. Like any moment worth celebrating, it’s a great opportunity to stop and reflect on the time we have spent together. Reflecting on what we did right, what we did wrong and where we are going.  Above all, one thing really stood out to Dave and I: WE MADE IT!

As anyone whose been married that long will tell you, it’s no small feat.

Looking at those who have been married for sixty plus years, I wonder what they went through to get there. My parents, who have been married for thirty-two years, have endured many tough times and despite it all are still together. Not just the “grit your teeth and bear it” together but “we could do that thirty-two years all over again and hope for thirty-two more” together. It’s inspiring, and importantly: THEY MADE IT!

It’s sad to say but amongst our friends there’s been a huge increase in the number of our friends who are divorced or in the process of getting a divorce. All were married for less than five years, some less than three. I’m not just talking one or two couples, but rather twelve couples. That’s right, twelve. Most under thirty years of age. It’s upsetting that it has come to that point for so many people and my heart feels desperately sad for them. Some of the separations were through mutual agreements and for others, one party has decided that they can’t go on. Either way, I know how deeply it has affected everyone involved myself included.

Looking at society in general; celebrities, people of influence, friends, family and even the church, it’s easy to see divorce as normal. Almost all who get divorced appear to have a ‘valid’ reason for the separation. If I’m honest there have been times in our marriage where I have thought that I have a valid reason for leaving. I would rationalize: “It’s definitely not me, it’s Dave. He doesn’t talk to me the way he used to. We have just grown apart. He has pursued the business thing and he doesn’t have that much time for a marriage as well. I don’t think I’m attracted to him like I used to be.” For me these thoughts and mindsets that crept in came down to one thing.

Selfishness.

Plain and simple. Now that may be a bitter pill to swallow for some, but it’s the truth. For me, I didn’t view my marriage as Dave and I united. Nor was I thinking; how can I put Dave first? Rather, it was “what is in this for me?”, and “Im not getting it, so I won’t give it”. If you ask Dave he’d tell you he was thinking similar things. The point is we were both hurting and both of us felt like we were owed something.

When I realized this, I was then able to take this to God and Dave and ask for forgiveness. When both parties are hurt one of you needs to step up and break the stalemate. Each day I need to lay my relationship with Dave at God’s feet. It’s when I start to think that I can do this “married thing” in my own strength that I become selfish and unstuck.

So what is it that gets a couple to five, ten, twenty or sixty years happily married? Is it simply being unselfish? Well that’s definitely part of it, though you’ll always catch yourself being selfish at times. As Dave and I were talking about all this, we pin pointed one thing: Our mindset of marriage is FOREVER. Not until it doesn’t suit us any more, or while ever the other person is meeting my needs, or until it gets too hard. Rather through the good times and bad, through sickness and in health, ’til death do us part. Remember those words on your wedding day? Yep, we swore an oath to do that.

Now I don’t say that to condemn those that have chosen separation. My point is that for those who are married or considering marriage; you need to approach every conflict, argument or disagreement with the FOREVER MINDSET. This mindset requires that no matter what, divorce isn’t an option for resolving your conflict. Of course I’m aware that things like abuse and infidelity can make resolution difficult, if not impossible, but most couples don’t start there. When you think in terms of forever you’re forced to get creative and break out of your comfort zone. After all, who wants to live unhappily ever after?

Do you have the forever mindset in your marriage?

In a subsequent post I’ll share with you some practical ways you can create it in your marriage.

What to expect when you’re NOT expecting… anymore. (part 2)

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Click here for Part 1

Before we move on to part two, I want to say thank you to those of you who have shared your story with me. The response to my first post has been overwhelming. I feel so grateful that this is an opportunity for people to open up and receive healing in their worlds. Even if it’s just because they got to talk to someone about it. Please know, you are not alone in this. Many woman have had much harder journeys then I have and by hearing your journey it’s shown me the strength of a woman’s heart to keep trying. To me, I have realized the miracle of life.

It’s a weird thing trying to convince your other half that you’re pregnant. It’s an even weirder thing trying to reassure them you’re ok when you are no longer pregnant.

For a month I went through the giddy (by giddy, I mean nauseous) highs of thinking that Dave and I were about to start a family, down to the strong pain I felt when that wasn’t going to be the case. In saying all that, I am so very grateful for what I went through.

A lot of people (myself included) have said that they would love to get pregnant just to know what it feels like. Well I was “lucky” enough to experience those feelings with only a small insight into what it may look and feel (oh, and smell) like. Let me just say, how your friends describe it… yep, that’s what it feels like. Exciting? Yes! Worth waiting for until you’re 100% certain that it’s not just the feeling you’re after, but you are wanting to have a family no matter what the feeling or experince may look like? Definitely!!

I have been given the opportunity to address my “woulda, coulda, shoulda” thoughts and turn them into actionable items that I know I really want to accomplish before starting a family. Some of those things are quite trivial; like going to the dentist for a full clean and check up (call me strange, but I LOVE that dentist clean feeling and will go through the trauma of all instruments, drills and feelings to get it). Some are more important than that; like making good on a commitment of starting a 12 month internship at my local Church (which by the way involved an awkward conversation with my new boss: ‘Thanks for the offer, I am looking forward to starting next week, oh by the way… I might be pregnant.’—eek!). All in all this event really got me thinking about such things. I am profoundly grateful that now I can get these things under my belt before my belt buckle starts to expand.

Although I thought I knew what my journey would look like—you know, conceiving first go, text book pregnancy and labor, happy child that grows up strong and healthy—the fact of the matter is that I have no idea. Especially now that Plan A didn’t go according to plan. Truth is, it’s not a problem: my strength comes from God. When I found out I wasn’t going to be carrying another little being for the next 9 months, all I heard in my spirit was God saying “Trust Me”.

For me, trusting God means that if the next time Dave and I try to concieve and it happens right away, then that is God’s perfect timing. Trusting God also means that if the process takes a lot longer, with many more challenges and nothing like what I expected, then that is still His perfect plan and timing.

For any woman or couple, this can be a very emotional time. Whether planned or unplanned, easy conceptions to alternate options like IVF or years of trying. Whatever your journey, remember that God wants to say to you “Trust Me.” It’s His plan and His timing. Are you willing to Trust Him?

What to expect when you’re NOT expecting… anymore. (part 1)

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What would you do if you found out that your life was about to change–drastically? Would you want to go back in time and re-live some missed opportunities, or would you face this change head on and embrace it for all it’s worth?

For Dave and I, it looked as though things were about to change. We’ve had many discussions about wanting to start a family, we just didn’t know how soon it was all about to start.

I have walked the pregnancy road with enough friends now to know that each woman’s journey is very different. Some friends, it seemed as though their husbands/partners only had to look in their general direction and they were pregnant. Once, twice… three times. For others, it’s been an emotional, burdensome, faith journey where after years and years of trying and IVF treatments they have finally welcomed the blessing of a child into their lives. Others still have had absolutely no success and instead opted to adopt.

Last month was a crazy time for me. Emotionally. Physically. Mentally. I had every sign and symptom that I was pregnant. That feeling of exhaustion that doesn’t even make sense to describe because it feels unwarranted. I mean, how can producing a few extra cells and blood really make you that tired!? Physical discomfort as parts swelled, bloated, ached and hurt. That sweeping sense of nausea that can make a walk around the neighborhood feel like a lap around a sewerage treatment plant situated inside the city dump and your gag reflex is working overtime. Yup, you name it, I felt it.

It’s actually quite amazing how long a month can feel when you are waiting desperately for that first moment possible when you can take a pregnancy test and confirm your suspicions. Who knew peeing on a stick could be such a highly anticipated event!

During this time however, I was listening to my inner thoughts and what they were saying. On the one hand I was thinking how amazing and great it will be to have a baby, and how amazingly quickly its come about–lucky me! (To be honest, I was thinking that God knows me too well and He would be willing to bless me with a baby first time ‘trying’ because as if I could wait more than one month! I am not that patient!) While on the other hand, I had many regret filled “woulda, coulda, shoulda” thoughts of all the things I wanted to do before getting pregnant.

For those of you with kids, I’m sure many of you would’ve had these exact same thoughts when you found out you were expecting (planned or unplanned). Yet, nine months later you had a baby in your arms. You might have never imagined it possible nine months prior, but now you wouldn’t change it for the world!

However, my story ends differently to that. This may also be the story that you share as well. Unfortunately my pregnancy didn’t get past one month. In fact it could hardly be called a pregnancy, really. But through this it has been an amazing soul-searching adventure that I would love to share with you.

What would you do if you knew your life was about to change? Would you keep living life as you are doing now? Day in, day out? Or is there something that you keep putting off thinking “I’ll do it one day”? What if you don’t get that “one day”?

As I share my story, I hope it encourages you to make the most of each new day.

Continue to Part 2

What makes your heart happy?

What makes your heart happy? When you are low and need a pick me up, what do you do? When you have a moment to yourself, what do you do to give yourself a bit of pampering?

This week there has been a big shift in my household. Dave squared (my Husband and his business partner) have been working out of home for the past 4 months. It’s been so great having them here doing their work but just knowing they are around. This week however, they are now working out of an office 40 minutes away. This was our life back in Australia so it shouldn’t come as such a shock, right? Wrong! After 4 months of having them here, it did! All of a sudden the days feel very long, our house feels very big and very quiet.

Do you ever have those days where you feel as though you will just bear it, count down the hours and the day will be over? Maybe because you’re working in a busy or boring job, or looking after some screaming toddlers, or maybe nothing is really happening so you’re boredom dictates your mood and outlook.

Today, being my day off after a long and busy week, I have decided that instead of bearing the day, I would surround myself with the things that make my heart happy. Here is my list for today….

Waking up to a beautiful Indian summer’s morning, blue skies and the heat on my skin energizes my soul20111014-100905.jpg

Spent time with God to feel refreshed and know that He is with me20111014-100921.jpg

While cleaning the kitchen, I was listening to Hamish and Andy for some laugh out loud humor

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I love pretty scents. Be it perfume, candles or fragrances. Today I was burning a Creamy Caramel Pumpkin candle, which made the house smell as though I had been cooking for hours, but all I had to do was light 1 match.

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Baking and eating mum’s famous carrot cake recipe, which not only made me feel closer to home, it made me pretty happy knowing that I can replicate mum’s cooking!20111014-100947.jpg

While hitting the books, I loved learning how to relate to people better and get people to see their full potential through the world of life coaching. 20111014-100931.jpg

Also while studying, I snacked on yummy Jelly Bellys, which I now regret because I have the sorest tummy. But how can you resist eating each one and identifying them on the back of the packet, then working out all the different combinations?20111014-101022.jpg

Oh, and I bought a few cute things for the home. Just some little things that when I look at them just give me a little smile. Like these super cute serviette rings…. CUTE! 20111014-100957.jpg

All in all today could have been somewhat boring or mundane. Instead I feel refreshed, which allows me to give to others. If your heart is happy, then out of that will flow how you respond and relate to others.

Take some time this weekend, maybe 10 minutes if that’s all the time you can spare, maybe a few hours or a day where you allow yourself some time to do the things that make you happy! Trust me, it’s worth it!

Focus: What happened to my attenti…oh look a bird!

I’m not sure if it’s because I am a Gen-Yer or I just have a severe case of ADHD, but I have come to realize that I have an attention span of less than 2 minutes. If I was asked to really focus on something, how would I go?

Production companies and TV networks used to hold people’s attention for twelve and a half minutes and then they would throw in a commercial break. They strategically worked out this is the optimal amount of time people could focus and take in information. These twelve and a half minute attention spans were then reflected in people’s day to day life. In their work, school, social and everyday life people were willing to give twelve and a half minutes of time and attention to any one subject matter because sub-consciously their brains have been programmed to function this way thanks to the amount of television watched.

Today however, are you like me? Not only are you watching TV for that twelve and a half minutes, you also have your laptop on your lap checking Facebook, and at every commercial break, if not punctuation mark in the show you’re watching, you are text messaging or playing a game on your iPhone because it seemed like you were getting bored with what is already going on in front of you?

I caught myself doing this a few nights ago. Although engrossed in the show I was watching (This Emotional Life doco on PBS), I was refreshing my Facebook page which to my shock and horror only told me that 3 people had changed their profile picture in the last 1 minute and 39 seconds since I last checked. I was also playing Angry birds on my phone where although I had completed the level, I wanted three stars, not your measly one star!!

I have noticed that because of this bad habit I have formed, not only is it doing damage to my attention span, it’s also not allowing my brain to absorb any of the information it’s trying to take in. The amount of information (which is usually not of consequence, like who updated their profile picture) that is actually running through my brain is like a torrent of words, videos, images and sounds that is flushing out the already stored information.

My challenge this week is to get rid of some of this noise. If I am watching TV, I will just watch TV. If I am reading, I will only read and not check my phone at the end of each page ‘just in case I missed something that my phone didn’t tell me about’. Also, now this may come as a novel thought, but what about silence? Turning off the TV, closing the laptop, and putting away the phone so that it’s not an attachment to my body that needs to be surgically removed. Allowing myself to digest the information I have already processed. Mull over the important things in life. Meditate.

In today’s world we can be so bombarded with new information and ‘noise’. Do you need to turn down the volume and listen to the still small voice again?

I would love to hear how you manage to increase your focus and take a moment to be still.

Happy Father’s day Dad!

It’s Father’s day in Australia, so I thought I would dedicate this blog post to my amazing dad! For some, Father’s day brings about warm feelings of their dad who was there to love and nurture them. For others, this day can be a day of grief or loss. For me, this is a day where I want to honor a special man who I get to call my dad.

Growing up I was daddy’s little girl, but then my adolescent years hit… hard. For some reason I wanted to push away a man who had raised me and always did what was best for our family, even if it came at a great sacrifice. It wasn’t until I reached adulthood and realized that my dad was more than just a dad. He became a friend, a coach and mentor.

Dad and I would go on Daddy Daughter dates, where he would show me what it was like for a man to treat a lady… I was watching.

Dad would help me in my career, by showing me how to relate to others and present myself professionally. What he had learnt and overcame in his career… I was watching.

Dad would encourage me in my walk with God, bringing out the best in me and helping me in my relationship with my heavenly Dad. He would pray with me and talk until the late hours of the night. He modelled a man of faith in the good times, integrity in the tough times… and I was watching.

What is your relationship with your dad like? What are some of the life lessons he has taught you?

If your relationship with your dad isn’t at a place of comfort or peace, remember there is a Dad in heaven who loves you and knows your inner most thoughts. Who formed you and created you… and He is watching.

Thanks dad for the man that you are.

For some of my favorite dad moments, here are 2 videos to enjoy! Happy Father’s Day!

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