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?

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

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!

and

My heart said what I wanted to say

The other day, Dave and I were going for a drive just to catch up and hang out. He has been so flat out starting a business that at times he must wonder if it’s really worth it? He has been putting in crazy hours, dealing with the highs and lows that each new day brings. He has taken care of 3 redwood trees worth of paperwork to get a US company set up and to be honest I watch him and I am in awe of the amazing job he is doing. It takes someone talented, dedicated and faithful to do what he is doing, and he seems to be doing it brilliantly.

As a wife of an entrepreneur, it’s sometimes hard when due to the business’ demands the relationship becomes a far away after thought that grasps tightly to the few moments you get to capture when the stars align, the winds blowing the right way, the moon is blue and you are there, just the two of you… alone. These moments can sometimes be daunting. Thoughts that run through my mind is how do I make the most of this rare moment?

As Dave and I were cruising down the 101 the other day, it dawned on me: This precious moment shouldn’t just be about the facts and events that have occurred since the last time we caught up. It’s about sharing my heart’s thoughts that sound weird coming out sometimes, but create a bond together in such a short amount of time. Here I was talking about my mundane things that had filled my week. How I had cleaned the house, unpacked some boxes from our move and completed my uni assignment. But then a heart thought interrupted my run sheet of facts. What my heart wanted to say was ‘Dave, I think you’re doing a really good job, and I am proud of you. I know this is a time where time is lacking, thoughts other than work are few, but thanks for being my Husband and making this time out of your mayhem so we can spend some time together.’

Too often in the past I held back from saying something like that because my first thought is ‘well he already knows that’ and secondly ‘it sounds kind of cheezy’ (yes I am not the best person when it comes to affection).

However, when those words from my heart came out of my mouth, not only did Dave’s face light up and chest went out, I felt that bond that was created, that although sometimes I feel as though I am an after thought, I really do love this man and it’s these precious moments together are worth it.

Do you have a spouse like this? Does it sometimes feel like your time together is as foreign as meeting a stranger? Although it can feel strange, make the most of your time together.

What does your heart want to say? When is a time in your relationship that you decided to let your heart do the talking? What did you find happened for you and your relationship?

Silly Passionate Lovers

Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly.
– Rose Franken 

You may have experienced love like this before. As you read this quote, you probably have a stupid grin on your face like I do, as you think about all the weird, quirky and silly things you share with your loved one.

Today I found myself in an amusing situation. A friend asked me “How did I come up with a ‘pet’ name for Dave?” There was an awkward silence as I thought…”How did I come up with that name?!”, and then all the memories came flooding back of the day that one word just ‘stuck’ and didn’t go away. We laughed about it, thought it was cute and wham! A ‘pet’ name was created.

Then there are other moments that you share when it’s just the two of you, things unfathomable to the outside observer. To most, we are probably ‘The Kuhns’ – Amber; a live wire who keeps things….fresh (as I like to call it. Others may call it interesting.) 🙂 Dave; a well-educated man who knows what he is talking about and balances the relationship. Then there are ‘The Kuhns’, when it’s just the two of us, which is probably closer to the truth. Dave; a well-educated man who knows what he is talking about, balances the relationship but also sumo wrestles me and gets great joy out of toilet humor. Then there’s me, Amber; a live wire that keeps things fresh and creates new animal characters who come to life at any given time, especially to win an argument… yep, definitely silly. However, when it’s the two of us, it makes sense (most of the time!) 🙂

It’s in these moments that we let go of our inhibitions and what’s the ‘sensible’ thing to do. Love was created for passion but also being able to be silly. It’s these things you share that bond you together.

What are the things that you and your loved one share? The things that bring a stupid grin on your face and thought in your head “I hope no-one is watching!” Hold onto these precious moments. Just like passion, it’s these silly moments that count!