All marriages go through challenges and tribulations, there is no way to avoid them. However, you have a choice on how you can respond to the conflict. When you look at how happy and successful marriages deal with conflict in their relationship, the key differentiator is in how they respond to the stimulus. To quote Victor E. Frankl “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom“. We have free will in how we choose to respond to the conflict, and how we respond will affect the outcome.
When it comes to applying effective conflict resolution skills in your marriage, there are 3 Key Tips you should keep in mind. The key tips are; Mindset, Humility, and Tone. All three will require that you pause and ask yourself what path will you choose to go on. You will need to be intentional about the chosen path.
Mindset – Choosing the right mindset when faced with a conflict can lead to a win-win outcome. When dealing with conflict in our marriage, we can either choose to enter the discussion with a Judgmental mindset or a Curious mindset. In most cases, we typically start off with a judgmental mindset since we allow the ego to get in the way and go into protective mode. The focus is on; I am right and you are wrong! The judgmental mindset is about blaming and looking for flaws in the other person’s point of view. When you show up with the judgmental mindset you begin to ask yourself; What is wrong with the other person? Why are they blind and don’t see it my way? The judgmental mindset will lead you on the path of disharmony which ultimately ends in frustration.
In contrast, the curious mindset shows up asking; What can I learn from this? How can I better understand the other person’s perspective and feelings? When you choose the curious mindset, you show up with a different attitude and start asking questions that are conducive to discovering possibilities and solutions that will benefit the relationship. Choosing the curious mindset will help you to differentiate between facts and assumptions, identify options, and seek mutual consensus. Next time you are confronted with conflict in your marital relationship, pause and remind yourself that you have a choice on how you can respond. Show up with a curious mindset and you will see the difference it makes in your relationship. Give it a try!
Humility – Pride is a relationship killer and it will create discord in your marriage. It’s amazing how a little “humility” in the midst of a conflict can turn the whole situation around. There is power in humility! If we look at what Holy Scripture says, you will find that God favors the humble. In James 4:6 it says “But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. We have to humble ourselves and acknowledge that we cannot solve our problems in our own strength, and as a sacramental marriage, we have access to supernatural grace to help us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1641 states: “By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God. This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they help one another to attain holiness in their married life…”.
If you want to find a better way to deal with conflict in your marriage that will lead to more peace and understanding, give humility a try. Regardless of how difficult it may be, choose to be the first to approach the situation with a humble heart and open mind. Don’t be so quick in trying to get the upper-hand to show you are right. Rather, listen to your spouse as if you are wrong, and authentically show that you are willing to humble yourself to better understand their perspective. If you do that, the emotions will de-escalate and your spouse will be less guarded and more open to listen to your point of view. Approaching the conflict with the virtue of humility will give your relationship the grace it needs to reach a mutual peaceful solution.
Tone – The third tip to keep in mind when dealing with conflict resolution in your marriage is tone of voice. Most people are not even aware or mindful of their tone when communicating. Do you have a harsh or gentle tone when speaking with your spouse? When discussing a problem do you come across as judgmental and critical? or kind and considerate? It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. The way you deliver the message will definitely have an impact on your relationship. Tone is a critical component of communication so it’s important that you watch your tone. If you want to have a positive impact on your marriage when discussing problems, start being mindful about your tone and take a gentle and empathetic approach, it will serve your relationship well.
Our ability to effectively deal with conflict in our marriage will affect the level of satisfaction we experience in our relationship. We must be willing to explore new ways of working through problems with an open heart and mind. Consider implementing the 3 Key Tips for Conflict Resolution; Mindset, Humility, and Tone to take your marriage to the next level!
There is no doubt in my mind that in today’s society there are many forces that are threatening one of the most important and critical institutions of society, the family. St. Pope John Paul II said that the family is the primary cell of society, it is indispensable, and the future of society as a whole depends on it. I believe that most of the issues we have today in society stem from a breakdown of the family. If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and fully transparent, we will find that at the root of the problems we face today, it points back to the family and a lack of leadership and love. This is not to pass judgment, but a reality of our human flaws and brokenness.
In this post I want to focus on the role of the Christian father and how men should be thinking about fatherhood. The Christian father plays an instrumental role in the family, he is the head of the family, as Christ is the head of the Church. As Christian men we should look to Christ for direction on how to lead and love. When I think about how Christ loved, one word comes to mind…Relentless! As I think of the word relentless, the song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury comes to mind. It reminds me of how, as a Christian father, I should strive to love my children. The words are inspiring and challenge me to give my all in pursuit of being the best father to my children.
Let’s not kid ourselves, being a great father is no easy task and it will require sacrifice and strong leadership to win. Being a strong leader encompasses courage, commitment, patience, perseverance, and hard work. At times fatherhood can seem like a daunting task, overbearing, and just exhausting to the point of just giving up and settling for mediocrity. So how do we as fathers find the wisdom, strength, and courage to lead and love for the sake of our family? We turn to Christ for the grace to lead and love as he did…to lay down our lives in service to others.
Be Bold and Courageous
Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s the presence of fear but having the willingness to face it! When a building is burning down, firefighters don’t run away from the fire…they face it and go into it! In their minds they turn their should into a must, they raise the level of necessity because the stakes are too high. The same is true for fathers, we can no longer be bystanders watching our homes burn down (metaphorically). We must raise our game and find the courage to act, to raise our standards and level of expectancy for ourselves and our children.
As a father, I have to stop fearing that if I raise my standards and level of expectancy for my children, they will not “like me”, not see me as “their buddy”, or that I will be different from the “norm”. The fear factor is getting in our way to lead with courage, to be a greater force for good, and to inspire our children to have higher expectations for themselves. The role of the Christian father is to train and prepare their children for the arena of life, to be in their corner and empower them with the right mindset to win in life.
As fathers, we cannot give what we don’t have, so if we are serious about taking action and being bold, we must look inward and begin with ourselves. Let’s aspire to be the best father we can be, to lead by example and inspire our children to do the same and make a positive impact in society.
Success Comes From Commitment
Success in any area of life doesn’t just happen by accident, it comes from a commitment to giving your very best and not quitting when it gets tough. Anything great requires sacrifice and commitment. A commitment to stay focused on the desired outcome. A commitment to push beyond our emotions, especially when we don’t “feel” like doing it. A commitment to being the best father we can be, regardless of the hard times, difficulties and disappointments. A commitment to win!
It is so critical that we make a commitment to pour our lives into our children and inspire them to believe in themselves and their God given abilities. Sadly in today’s world many young people don’t have a clear understanding of their self-identity and potential, and therefore live half committed lives and settle for average. Fathers must make the time to be there for their children to support and encourage them 100% as they navigate through the challenges of life. They should make it a priority to help them learn and understand who they are as children of God, that they are made in the image and likeness of God and have dignity.
As a Christian father it is my duty and obligation to train and prepare my children for life. Part of that training is to help shape how they think about themselves. Everything begins with the mind, we must teach them to master their mind first, to understand and believe that they came into this world with a God-given purpose, and that they have the skills and ability to achieve their purpose. Our children look to us as their father to lead, guide, and inspire them. Let us make a commitment to instill in them a desire to aspire for greatness in everything they do!
The Value of Patience
Let’s face it, no one likes to wait. We live in an instant gratification world, we want it here and now. We want to see results immediately, but the reality is that most good things in life with great value take time and patience. In fact, I would even say that we as humans appreciate and value things more when we have to wait and work hard for it, and I think it’s because it cost us something, it wasn’t just easily given to us. Raising children is no different. Our kids can sometimes drive us crazy, increase our level of stress and frustration, and at times disappointment us. So what are we to do as a father when we seem to have no more patience and energy? We DO NOT give up! We stay in the fight for our children’s sake.
As fathers, we are called to dig down deep into our souls and ask for the virtue of patience. With all of our flaws and brokenness, Christ did not give up on mankind, he was patient and embraced his cross to the very end so that we can receive the gift of salvation, therefore, we as Christian fathers must do the same for our children.
There is a deep sense of gratitude and fulfillment when you have poured your life into your children, giving them your time, energy, and relentless patience… instilling in them moral values…until one day they come around and finally get it! It’s an incredible awesome feeling when you as a father can sit back and witness all your hard work and patience paid off!
Persevere in the Midst of Challenges
When life gets tough and the challenges of fatherhood wear us down we tend to want to give up and quit. We tell ourselves this is just too hard and it requires too much work. When we are faced with these moments we must remind ourselves of our “Why”. Our “Why” must be bigger than ourselves. We need to take the focus off ourselves and redirect all of our energy and focus on why our children need us by their side.
My “Why” is because I believe that every child has a deep desire and need to be loved and accepted by their father in a unique way that only a father can fulfill. I also believe that the family is the primary cell of society and that the future of society as a whole depends on it. As a Christian father it is my duty and obligation to raise my children with good values, to teach them right from wrong so that they may grow up and do good in the world. Regardless of how hard it gets we must persevere for the sake of our children and society.
Hard Work Will Lead to Success!
Any successful outcome is preceded by hard work, there is no way around it. Whether it be in your education, business, career, health or sports, winning will require you to do the work and put in the time. Being a father and raising children is no different, if we are serious about leading and loving as a father, we must be willing to take action and work hard!
The world is broken and the stakes are very high…it is up to us as Christian fathers to decide, act, and commit. Let’s make that commitment and take full ownership and accountability to lead and love relentlessly!
We all want to have a vibrant marriage, no one goes into their marriage saying I hope my marriage is mediocre. When we made the choice to get married, we went into it with the expectation that we would have a happy and successful marriage filled with joy, peace, and hope.
So, what happens to a lot of couples after several years of being married? We start to get comfortable and begin to believe that we don’t have to pay attention to our wife and her needs anymore. We lose sight of “us” and start focusing on me, myself, and I. As men we start focusing on our career, aspirations, obtaining material things, and spending time on our hobbies. It’s not that these things are “bad”, but it’s a matter of getting off balance. Once we get off balance, we become distracted and start to lose clarity and focus. In very subtle ways our marriage begins to descend.
Thankfully as Christians we can turn to our faith for guidance and direction and we don’t have to lose hope. Throughout my 32 years of marriage, I’ve learned that Christian principles are filled with great wisdom that can provide the answers we need to not only achieve a highly successful marriage but to consistently sustain its vibrancy for the long run. But here is where most men fall short; we lack the discipline to practice the principles.
As Christians, we must never lose hope…hope is at the core of our faith. If you are searching for ways to become a better husband then keep on reading. I will explain 4 Key Rules that will help you in your quest for a great marriage. If you make a commitment to yourself and take massive action in practicing these 4 Key Rules, you will produce much fruit and build a vibrant marriage.
The 4 Key Rules to Becoming a Better Husband:
The environment and atmosphere we create for our marriage is so fundamental in determining its vibrancy. I will refer to Mark 4: 3-8 to illustrate my point. “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
Gain Understanding and Awareness
Problem: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up”.
Like anything in life, when we don’t have the correct understanding and awareness, we either fail to take the necessary steps that will enable us to get the outcomes we desire or we make decisions that lead to unintended consequences. It is the lack of understanding and awareness that blinds us and leads us to make choices that contribute to the descent of our marriage.
Solution: If we are really serious about becoming a better husband and growing in our marriage, we must acknowledge that it starts with our mind and how we are thinking about our relationship. The way we think about our marriage will influence our attitude and behavior. The good thing is that we have control of how much understanding and awareness we want to have, we simply have to make a choice to pursue it. Working with a marriage coach can help you gain the right mindset to take action and make the necessary changes to help transform your relationship.
Attention and Nourishment – Make it a Priority
Problem: “Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots”.
Sometimes it’s not a matter of not being aware or having the knowledge…it’s that we stop paying attention to our wife’s needs and fail to nourish our marriage on a consistent basis. We forget that our wife didn’t fall in love with us because of one thing that we did or say…it was an accumulation of consistent small acts of love, kindness, selflessness, compassion, patience, etc. that ultimately won her heart. When we fail to do this, we simply lack the substance to withstand the trials and tribulations.
Solution: If we want to win our wife’s heart, we must make it a priority to consistently work on making those authentic love deposits. It’s critical that we make our relationship a priority and that we give it the attention it deserves. As Christian husbands we are reminded through scripture that we are called to love our wife as our own body, to nourish and cherish. Like our body, if we stop paying attention to it, not providing food, water, and the proper nutrients, it will slowly decline in health and eventually die…the same is true when it comes to our marriage.
Be intentional about nourishing your relationship and look for creative ways and opportunities to demonstrate your love and appreciation for your wife. Schedule activities that she enjoys doing as a couple, help out with the children (this is a BIG one), help out with the chores, buy her a gift when she least expects it, go for a walk, spend TIME with her, buy tickets to an event, etc. Ask yourself…if tomorrow never comes, will she know how much I love her?
Get Clarity and Focus
Problem: “Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain”.
There is no doubt we all have busy lives these days, there is so much in the world that can distract us from the things that matter most. The noise of the world can cause us to lose clarity and focus. The “noise” can manifest itself in many forms such as our quest for advancing in our careers, comparing ourselves with others in terms of material things or lifestyle, spending excessive hours in front of a TV watching our favorite sports teams, living a “married-single” social lifestyle, etc. If we are not careful to maintain a “balanced” lifestyle we can become vulnerable and be easily lured to give too much time to the things that will not provide oxygen to our marriage.
Solution: When we get distracted and lose clarity of who we are as Christian husbands, we must hit the pause button and take time to contemplate and take inventory of our lives. Be honest with ourselves and identify areas that need “tweaking” or complete elimination to bring forth vibrancy into our marriage. Take time to think about; what would your best-version of your marriage look like and how you can grow into that. Ask yourself how do you want to show up in your relationship? How do you want to feel in your marriage? Envision your ideal future and then start actively taking the steps you need to take in order to achieve the state you are seeking. This practice will help you gain clarity, maintain focus, and generate enthusiasm!
Create a Prolific Environment
Solution: “And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
Creating the right environment is imperative to having a vibrant marriage. When you put all the pieces together…investing time in gaining a better understanding of what it means to be a Christian husband, making it a priority to being authentic and intentional about paying attention to your wife’s needs and nourishing your relationship, getting clear about what kind of marriage you want, and staying focused on taking action that will help you achieve the best-version of your marriage, you will be able to create a winning environment where your marriage will not just survive but thrive. You have complete control of creating a prolific environment…the question is, are you willing to put the time, work, and effort it requires. If you are, then remain confident that your marriage will produce fruit…thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold!!
The End Game – Set Higher Standards for Your Marriage
We set high standards for our career, education, sports, finances, etc. but when it comes to our marriage, we allow ourselves to get comfortable and settle for average. Let’s face it, there is nothing exciting and exhilarating about “average”, it doesn’t move the needle. Let’s not settle for mediocrity when it comes to our marriage, let’s get fully engaged, commit to practicing the 4 Key Rules of Becoming a Better Husband and set high standards of excellence!
Let’s face it, all marriages encounter problems and challenges. Problems are a part of life and they are not going away, therefore, we must shift our perspective on problems in order to sustain a successful relationship. We have a choice; we can look at a problem as perpetual or as an opportunity to learn and grow from it. Unfortunately, many married couples fall into the trap of believing that their problems are unsolvable and that it will stop them from having a happy and fulfilling marriage. Slowly over time this belief grows and eventually couples stop spending time together and give up on their relationship.
Three Cords is Stronger Than One!
When you perceive the problem to be bigger than your marriage it will divide you. A giant wall is created to the point that you don’t see your spouse anymore, all you see is the “problem” wall.
This “problem” wall blinds you from having any hope and it hardens your heart. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t empower the problem, empower yourself through God’s grace. As a Christian married couple, you don’t have to rely on your own strength, you have a special gift granted by Christ to have power over your problems. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1641 and 1642 says “By reason of their state in life and of their order, Christian spouses have their own special gifts…This grace …is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they help one another to attain holiness in their married life… Christ is the source of this grace…Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses…to rise again after they have fallen…to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love.” Have faith and remember that your love for each other is stronger than any problem you face. The strength of three cords (husband, wife, and God) is stronger than one and unbreakable!
Separate The Problem from The Person
When faced with problems in our marriage, it’s easy to criticize and condemn, but don’t give into that temptation. Choose humility over pride and admit when you are wrong by asking for forgiveness. Seek reconciliation and make peace a priority for the sake of your relationship. Turn to God and ask Him for his grace to help you heal the wounds of sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1608 says “To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them. Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them in the beginning.” Don’t lose sight of the mission, remember that God is on your side and wants to equip you to win in your marriage. Your marriage matters and it’s bigger than any problem.
Rather than pointing the finger at each other, try something different. Stand shoulder-to-shoulder and set the problem away from you. This way you are looking at the problem from a different perspective and can work together as partners to attack the problem. This approach aims to put the focus on the problem, not the couple. When sharing your negative emotions about the problem, don’t blame or attack your spouse, focus on your feeling and how the problem – not your spouse – is making you feel. This will allow your spouse to be more open to listening and making healing the goal. How you approach the problem makes all the difference. If you take a gentle and peaceful approach, it will go a long way. It’s important to make sure your partner feels respected and heard, and that you acknowledge their emotions about the problem before you offer solutions.
Love is a Decision
One of the most effective ways to crush the problem is to make a decision to love even though you don’t feel like it. Let’s say you are upset with your spouse about something but you want the relationship to heal and move toward reconciliation. A good way to start is by looking for opportunities to do something kind or considerate for your spouse when they least expect it. At times this can be extremely difficult because it requires dying to self and loving your spouse even though you don’t feel like it. This gesture will require all of your strength but the benefits and rewards are well worth it. It’s a powerful act of love that touches the heart.
When faced with a problem, turn to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as a reminder of how we as Christians should respond. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
Your Marriage is Bigger Than Your Problem!
No matter how big the problem or challenge, remain hopeful that you can overcome it with the help of God. No problem is bigger than God. Invite Christ into your marriage and ask him to help you become advocates, not adversaries. If you remain committed to your relationship, change your perspective on problems, and believe that your marriage is bigger than any problem you face, you will overcome the challenges and be victorious!
Did you know that “couple prayer” is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your marital union? Whether you are struggling in your relationship, or just want to find new ways to grow in your intimacy, couple prayer is something you should consider exploring with your spouse. Something very humble and holy happens when a married couple join hands and hearts, and bring their concerns and hopes to God. As Christians, when we gather in prayer, and in His name, Christ reminds us that he is with us. Mathew 18: 19-20 reads “Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Are you feeling overwhelmed with life today? Are you experiencing marital dissatisfaction? Are you worried about health issues, finances, and the wellbeing of your children? Are the demands of your job creating stress and anxiety? You’re not alone, today’s family is faced with many of these challenges. There is no doubt that we are living in times of high stress and anxiety and it’s taking a toll on marriages and families. Although things may seem to be spinning out of control, don’t lose hope, turn to our Lord in prayer. The weight of our problems and challenges is too heavy to carry on our own, but when we give it to God in prayer, the burden is light. Matthew 11: 28-30 says “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Have you ever considered bringing your burden to God together as a couple? When it comes to couple prayer, most people are a little hesitant, but when you try it, you are reminded that you were made to be one with your spouse. Initially, we were hesitant too, partly because we never prayed together as a couple, and we also believed that our prayer life was meant to be private. We believe that your prayer life should be both; private and shared with your spouse. There is power in couple prayer. We recommend that you start off with small steps like saying grace together before meals, saying a prayer of gratitude in the evening before going to bed, or praying the rosary. What’s key is that you get started, and eventually the more you practice, the more you will start to feel comfortable with it. There is something powerful and beautiful that happens when you hear your spouse lift their heart to God and pray for your concerns, hopes, and dreams.
Whatever is heavy on your heart today, invite your spouse to join you in prayer and bring your petitions together to God. If your heart yearns for a deeper, more meaningful marital relationship, pursue God in prayer and ask him to help you. Our Lord desires to connect with you through prayer, he awaits you and your spouse. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2560 says this about prayer; “If you knew the gift of God! The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.” Wow! God desires to connect with us through prayer!! Take that step together and connect with him! You will not regret it!
Over the many years of praying together as a couple, we’ve come to believe that God yearns to be in relationship with us, and when we invite him to participate in our lives, he will pour his grace and blessings into our marriage. We’ve also learned that there are 3 Ways that couple prayer strengthens the marital union.
Increases Peace and Hope –Who doesn’t desire more peace and hope in their marriage? This is a common denominator across the human race, we all want it. The question is how do we obtain it? Prayer! Prayer! Prayer! Don’t stop even though it may seem like God isn’t listening or doesn’t care. Sometimes God will allow us to go through the challenges of life to help us grow in our trust in him, but it doesn’t mean he has abandoned us. Most people quit when they don’t see the results they want, when they want it…but we say don’t give up! Be persistent in your prayer life and you will obtain the peace and hope you desire.
Agreeing with your spouse to have a prayer life together will change your relationship, it certainly did for us. When we joined hands and lifted our pain, concerns and hopes to our Lord, he as the loving Heavenly Father that he is, poured his grace and mercy into our relationship, and as a result we experienced more peace and hope beyond our imagination. Couple prayer has helped us turn our hearts toward each other, not away. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2559 says “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God”. If you are seeking more peace and hope, join hands and raise your minds and hearts to God!!
Discernment to Make Decisions – Life is about making decisions. If you just take a moment and pause to reflect on your life, you will realize that wherever you may be in life, it’s a result of decisions you’ve made. Being able to discern and make good decisions will serve you well. This is why it’s so critical to turn to God in prayer and ask him for his wisdom and plans for your marriage and family. For us, God is at the center of our lives and we’ve made it a habit to include him in all of our affairs, small and large. Prayer will help you and your spouse open your hearts and gain clarity of thought so that you can hear God’s voice. He will speak to your heart and guide you to make decisions that will best serve your relationship and strengthen your unity. If you are looking for direction, we encourage you to go deep and search your heart in prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2563 reminds us that God dwells in our hearts…” The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others”.
Humility and Harmony – When couples find themselves disagreeing and feeling stuck on an issue, many times the culprit is pride. Pride can and will destroy marriages, no doubt about it. This is why prayer can be a critical weapon to crush pride. The antidote for pride is humility, and humility is obtained through a repentant heart and prayer. The beauty of a humble heart is that it leads to compassion, understanding, forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation. When you are in the middle of a heated fight, the last thing you are thinking about is couple prayer, so we recommend that you pause and take a time out, let the high emotions diffuse. Then after some time has gone by, gather together and lift your prayers to God. Hearing your spouse praying to God and asking for mercy, healing, and reconciliation will move your heart and melt away the pride. God will be moved by your humility and willingness to seek his grace, and as a result, he will bless your marriage with the harmony you desire.
If you are seeking ways to strengthen your marital union, we highly recommend you consider couple prayer. Start off slow, take little steps, and be patient with it. It offers so many benefits and blessings that you will not regret trying it. Make that investment of time for the sake of your relationship, it will change your marriage!!
If you had a choice of being around rude or kind people, which one would you pick? I am willing to bet that you would opt to surround yourself with kind people. The fact is that kindness will always trump rudeness no matter what part of the world you live in. Kindness is attractive, and people desire to be around others that are kind. If that is true, why is it that when it comes to the marital relationship, spouses choose to be rude and harsh with one another.
Too many marriages today are experiencing a deficiency in kindness and it’s tearing couples and families apart. If you think back to when you first started dating your spouse, kindness was most likely one of the traits that you found attractive in your partner and it bonded your relationship. Is your marriage lacking kindness? What got in the way that caused kindness to slowly fade away in your relationship? Perhaps it’s an unforgiven hardened heart… taking each other for granted… the busyness of life, or just a bad habit that was developed over time. Whatever the reason, Holy Scripture reminds us to be kind with one another…Ephesians 4:32 says “And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”
When we are unsatisfied with a part of our lives, we can respond in one of two ways. We can continue focusing on what we are missing, telling ourselves that things are out of our control and that our circumstances will never change. This approach leads to frustration and hopelessness. The other option is to focus on where you want to go, to have a vision of your desired outcome, and to believe that you do have control. This is a position of hope that will help you to take action and move your life in the direction you want to go. Success in any area of life doesn’t just show up overnight…it’s the little daily decisions and behaviors that stack up over time that eventually produce the results. The same principle applies to your marriage.
If you want more kindness in your relationship, first start off by looking in the mirror and ask yourself if you have been sowing seeds of kindness into your marriage. The book of Galatians reminds us that we reap what we sow. Galatians 6: 7, 9-10 says “Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.”
Make a commitment to being intentional about practicing daily acts of kindness, it will change you and those closest to you. There is a correlation between the level of joy you experience in your marriage and the amount of kindness you give/receive. Even though you may not feel like being kind to your spouse given the state of your relationship, try your best to push beyond that lack of motivation, if you do, that is sacrificial love. When we choose to love through the struggles and difficulties, we are mirroring our Lord’s love for us, what a beautiful and honorable act.
If you want to shift the state of your relationship, we invite you to consider starting off with daily small acts of kindness, it will help fuel the trajectory of your marriage. There are many ways to invite kindness into your marriage, but here are 3 ways you can start practicing. The key is to start small, commit to consistency, and remain patient.
Don’t underestimate the power of small acts and the impact they can have in your marriage. Something as simple as kindness goes a long way and we all have the capacity to be kind to one another. If we all were a little kinder, starting in our homes, imagine the ripple effect it would have in the world. Increase the level of kindness in your marriage and you will reap the fruits of peace, joy, and hope!
Have you ever wondered what does it take to have a successful and fulfilling marriage? What have couples that have happy and fulfilling marriages figured out that struggling couples have not? They commit to making their marriage a priority! Let’s face it, whatever area of our lives (career, health, spirituality) that we focus on and give our full attention will be successful. Where we put our time, energy, and effort will grow and magnify, that is just the reality of it. Marriage is no different. If we want to have a successful and vibrant marriage then we MUST make a commitment to make our relationship a priority.
If your marriage matters and means something important to you then decide TODAY that you will fight for your marriage by making it a priority in your life. The meaning that we attach to our relationship (positive or negative) will determine how we feel about the relationship and we will act accordingly. If we are struggling in our marriage we begin to tell ourselves…we are falling out of love…my spouse doesn’t understand me….we are just different people now…things will never change….this marriage thing is just too hard. If we consistently tell ourselves this story over and over again we begin to believe that it’s true. We begin to see our marriage as a failure with no hope to save it. The minute we attach that meaning to our relationship, we quit fighting for our marriage.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1601 says this about marriage; “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”
CCC 1603 says “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws…God himself is the author of marriage…Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes…The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.”
When we look at marriage from the perspective of the Catholic Church it changes everything. Sadly, many Catholics are not aware of or lose sight of the significant meaning of sacramental marriage. When we view, understand, and believe that marriage is something holy, created by God, raised to the dignity of a sacrament, and ordered toward the good of the spouses and the well-being of society…we begin to live out our sacrament with a sense of purpose and mission.
The proper perspective will help us think about our marriage in a different way and it will lead us to treat our relationship with the highest dignity. This perspective will help us make decisions that put our marriage first, not last. Meaning, you say no to the attitudes and activities that don’t serve your marriage, and say yes to making your relationship a priority. When your marriage is in a good place, everyone wins…your marriage, your family, and society!
Are you ready to pivot and start making your relationship a priority? If you desire a deeper connection with your spouse, consider implementing the 3 Cs to Happiness that will help you create a fulfilling marriage. Make a commitment to practice the 3 Cs to Happiness consistently, be intentional about growing your relationship, and strive to transform and build the relationship you desire!
By practicing the 3 Cs to Happiness and focusing on making your marriage a priority you will reap the rewards of a happy and fulfilling marriage!
Unfortunately, we all know of at least one couple that has been through a divorce and experienced the pain of that outcome. Are you concerned about the state of your relationship? When faced with marital challenges we have to ask ourselves if we are contributing to the build-up or brokenness of our marriage. If your marriage feels broken don’t lose hope…consider praying and asking for the grace to exercise the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit to turn your relationship around and build a strong marriage. The 7 gifts are:
As Catholics, these 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit are granted to us and sealed in the Sacrament of Confirmation to help us live a virtuous life. Sadly, many Catholics forget that they have access to these gifts that can transform our lives and relationships when activated and put into practice. In fact, the Catechism of The Catholic Church (CCC, no. 1832) stipulates that there are 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit; charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. Wow! Who doesn’t desire these fruits? We all do!
When we take on a project to build something, one of the first questions we ask ourselves is, what are the tools I need? In order to build anything, we need the right tools for the job to be successful. Well, the same applies to our marital relationship. When we desire to build an amazing marriage we have to ask ourselves what are the tools and strategies I need to build the marriage I desire and deserve? Let’s take a closer look at how we can utilize the 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit to help us build and sustain a solid marriage filled with the fruits of the Holy Spirit!
If you want to bear the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit, take time to contemplate these gifts and make a commitment to exercise them for the sake of your relationship. You have 7 gifts, one for every day of the week! Pray that our Lord help you embrace them and start practicing. If you apply these gifts consistently you will begin to gain the momentum you need to build the marriage you deserve and bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit!
Have you been feeling discouraged and defeated in your relationship lately? Don’t lose hope, you are not alone. All marriages experience disillusionment in their relationship. The question is, how long are you willing to stay in disilusionment before you decide to take action to change things? If you are tired of feeling defeated in your marriage and desire true peace and prosperity in your marriage… keep reading.
If we are honest with ourselves, at the root of our disagreements and conflicts with our spouse, is the sin of pride. The ego always gets in the way and causes discord. If pride causes division in our marriage, we have to ask ourselves what is the antidote that will remove pride and produce peace and prosperity in my marriage? The answer is humility. The road of humility leads to the town of happiness! Yes, you have the ability to change course and get on the path that will lead you to your desired outcome.
There is power in humility…Christ is the ultimate model of that truth, and as Christians, we should aim to model that behavior. The virtue of humility is not easy, it requires grace and extraordinary strength to practice, but it’s not impossible. God knows that it will not be easy, so he reminds us in Holy Scripture that he will provide the humble with his favor and grace to accomplish it. James 4:6 “But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”.
Practicing humility in our marriage will lead to several benefits and blessings. First, you must make a decision that you will be intentional about growing in this virtue and make a commitment to yourself and your marriage that you will work on developing this virtuous habit. If we are serious about change in our lives…it must start with ourselves. The benefits of practicing humility in your marriage are:
Are you ready to get started in developing this virtuous habit? You can do this! To help you get started we invite you to try the 3 Ps to Prosperity.
Remember, you can do this! When we realize that we deserve more…we will do more! Take action to achieve the results your marriage deserves!!
Marriage and family have definitely been put to the test these past few months of quarantine. In my coaching business, I have noticed an increase in couples of all ages that are reevaluating their circumstances and considering major life changes. As a result, cooperation is needed now more than ever before. Many couples are rethinking their careers, considering moving to a new location, worried about what to do with childcare and even quarrelling about whether or not to retire. Disagreement is bound to happen, but when each spouse believes “my” way is the best way and neither is willing to budge it becomes about pride, ego getting your own way. As a result, not only is no resolution reached but fights erupt and walls of resentment and blame go up. Too much lack of compromise and distrust and disharmony build. The worst part of this is that the opportunity to grow the intimacy in your relationship is completely missed. This lack of intimacy seeps into your relationship and over time it becomes easy to believe that you were not made to be together or that you will never work things out. This is a marriage mindset that you are not in control of the direction of your relationship as if you have no choice and no say in the matter at all. For many, the message becomes “we just fell out of love” or “things just didn’t work out”. Are we to believe that the lifelong institution of marriage is dependent on the vulnerability and inconsistency of our feelings? If that were true, no marriage would last. How then could we change this mindset and see this from a different perspective?
Let’s look more closely at the definition of compromise which actually means an exchange. This means that husband and wife should both be happy with the outcome. Ideally, each is giving something up in exchange for something else. This may not take place in a single transaction (for lack of a better word). It may mean that you temporarily postpone your “win” for next time or maybe you even sacrifice your “gain” this time out of love. In this case, your “win” is in the investment you are making into your relationship. Dr. Gary Chapman calls this a deposit into your love tank in his book, The Five Love Languages. In other words, it is delayed gratification, as opposed to instant gratification, for the sake of your relationship. It was also said beautifully in the lyrics of the song, “All of Me” when John Legend sings the end of the verse, “Even when I lose, I’m winning”. Sometimes the “payoff” is making the other person happy for the sake of your relationship because if your spouse “wins”, you win too. Having this mindset is a game changer and transforms our relationship from selfishness to self-gift. That brings the kind of unity every marriage needs.
Now you might be thinking, I am the one who always compromises in my relationship. When I encounter this situation as a marriage coach, we look into the relationship dynamics of a couple to evaluate this imbalance through a Catholic Couple Checkup Assessment. Sometimes the circumstance calls for one of the spouses to learn to speak up and ask for what they want while the other learns how to practice active listening. Especially in relationships where one person almost always gets their way and the other becomes accustomed to never asking for what they want. In a healthy relationship, this exchange is somewhat equal, even if it means over the long term. Otherwise, one person becomes the taker and the other becomes the giver. That is not the right spirit to have in marriage. It should be two spouses giving 100% as often as they are able. This builds trust, intimacy and communication.
Another important change in mindset to consider is if you believe that disagreements or arguments in your marriage equal failure because they don’t. Spouses in healthy marriages argue and disagree regularly. The only failure is a failure to surrender to the good of the relationship by realizing that we all can be perfected by our spouse’s life experience. In other words, place value in your spouse’s opinion because they matter to you. When you discount them and do not affirm their opinion, you degrade their value and dignity as a person. Consider the wonderful differences that a male and female perspective brings to a sacramental marriage. This complementarity is part of the gift that comes from your union together. The old adage that says, “two heads are better than one” has merit. This concept of collaboration is one of the reasons our military is so strong. They actually consider individual differences to be the strength of the whole team, a kind of bigger brain. How cool is that!
Finally, from a faith perspective, when in doubt of what decision to make that is in the best interest of your family, turn to God for discernment. Reading scripture and praying together are the most effective ways to come to a peaceful solution. Even if you’re just deciding on what paint color to choose in your kitchen, when you are both in a good place spiritually, you will become more open, loving and generous in your decision making and in your disagreement. There is no relationship greater than in the sacrament of marriage, where God perfects and prunes us and our ability to love by laying down our lives daily and in so doing, prepares us for eternity with Him.
To sign up for our “Catholic Couple Checkup” coaching assessment and session click here https://createdformission.com/prepare-and-enrich-couple-assessment-catholic-couple-checkup/
Most of us think of Christian fidelity as the definition of faithfulness, not having wandering eyes or cheating, or maybe you are reminded of your wedding vow to be faithful in good times and in bad. Fidelity is indeed all of those things. Proverbs 3:3-4 reminds us of its significance to God, “Do not let love and fidelity forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then will you win favor and esteem before God and human beings”. Wow, the feeling of promise and permanence reverberate through that scripture! It makes perfect sense that a lifelong commitment would need the essential ingredient of fidelity as part of the foundation for trust in a marriage. After all, God dedicated an entire commandment to that!
But fidelity in its deepest sense is much broader than that. When we think of God’s fidelity towards His people, our hearts overflow with His infinite loyalty towards us. Or the faithfulness of Jesus going after every lost sheep, He lays it all on the line for us. He proves His support and commitment towards us, His beloved, and to His heavenly Father through His constancy, fidelity and gift of Himself. Like the beautiful scripture reading in John 2: 7-8 when Jesus works his very first miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee. If you recall, the challenge takes place when the wine runs short in the middle of a wedding feast and Mary is approached to help so she tells the waiters to follow Jesus’ instructions. As always, she points others to follow Him. Although reluctant to begin His ministry, Jesus obeys His mother faithfully and orders them to fill the jars with water. As a result, the water is transformed into new wine which overflows the jars. He is there, He shows up faithfully, He does whatever needs to be done at a given moment and leaves you overflowing with the confidence of His devotion to you. This is fidelity.
I cannot count the times in the past 30 years of my own marriage that my husband’s fidelity to me and to God have been life-giving. Whether it was years ago when he would say no to a night out with the guys because he knew it was not in our best interest, or when he endured 30 years of painfully long commutes for the good of our family, or when I’ve been sick and he has taken care of me, or the many times when I grow weary in my vocation as a mother and I am not being the best version of myself, and he steps in to cover for me. His faithfulness has meant never compromising my trust by doing anything behind my back. He has even had the courage to confront me knowing I would be deeply disappointed in him. I honor and respect him as a man because of this honesty, integrity and commitment to keeping his word. As I’m sure you know, this trust is very difficult to recover once it has been lost in a relationship, but notice, I never mentioned him being perfect or getting it all right. What I am referring to is, yes, his loyalty to me, but also his ongoing effort to serve and support me and the kids intentionally, no matter what it takes. That is fidelity.
If you find that you (or your spouse) need to grow in this virtue, remember Jesus and Mary have it in abundance to share with you. Ask for it in prayer, especially through the holy rosary. It so happens that fidelity is the very fruit of meditating on the second luminous mystery, the wedding at Cana. So, one way you can pray for this grace is through the intersession of our blessed mother because just as Mary pointed the waiters to Jesus, so it is with our petitions to her. She brings them to the foot of the cross on our behalf. As with the jars overflowing with wine, Christ’s response to our prayers is grace, mercy and generosity overflowing for us. So that we too can become gracious and merciful towards our spouse through our promise of fidelity.
Laying down your life for your spouse may not necessarily be literal, but this world needs more couples faithfully executing their sacramental mission to serve, commit, and be loyal to the end. It is what makes marriage image the love of the Holy Trinity and it cannot be taken lightly.
by Jeff Cortez
During these unprecedented times of “self-quarantine” are you feeling isolated? anxious? disconnected to your spouse? Well…you are not alone. With everyone home in “locked-down” mode many married couples are facing relationship challenges…feeling a little edgy and perhaps arguing a little more, being less patient with each other or just lacking intimacy…connection. If you can relate, then keep reading….there is hope.
When stress enters our lives we have two ways we can respond to the stimulus, we can either allow our minds to accelerate the problem and dwell on the worst case scenario or we can choose to shift our mindset and focus on what is good, positive, and praiseworthy. As a Christian, I like to turn to scripture for guidance on how best to deal with the challenges of life because I believe that the Holy Bible has all the answers to life. Take a look at Philippians 4:8, it reads “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
In this post I would like to share with you 4 ways to reconnect with your spouse and reignite your love. In many cases couples feel disconnected because there is simply a lack of emotional connection, but the good news is that we all have the ability to change that if we really want to. I encourage you to try these 4 ways of reconnecting and make a commitment for the sake of your relationship to embrace them as new habits.
1. Increase the Quantity and Quality of Communication
2. Do Activities Together As a Couple
3. Have a Vision for Your Marriage and Set Goals Together
4. Pray Together and For Each Other
A contributing factor that leads to married couples feeling disconnected is a lack of communication. I would be willing to bet that if you looked back at your relationship in the early stages (e.g. dating, engaged, just married) your level of communication (quantity and quality) was a 10 on a scale of 1-10. Do you remember the emotional state of your early relationship? Embrace that memory for a second and hold on to that feeling….do you want to feel that connection again? Of course, you do, we all desire that. Well… I am here to tell you that if you make a decision today that you will do everything you can to do your part, and strive to increase your level of communication to a 10, you will certainly reconnect and reignite your love for each other!!
Let me share with you a simple but powerful tool to help you reconnect on a deeper emotional level. My wife and I learned this effective communication tool on a Catholic marriage enrichment weekend – Worldwide Marriage Encounter (www.wwme.org). The tool is called “Dialogue”, it’s simple and anyone can do it. Here’s how it works:
1. One spouse proposes a topic they want to talk about (e.g. communication, finances, in-laws, kids, career, etc.).
2. One spouse (does not need to be the same person who proposed the topic) comes up with a “dialogue question” that both husband and wife agree to talk about (e.g. As a result of the recent pandemic, our son may not be able to have his high school graduation ceremony, how do I feel about that?)
3. The husband and wife will write a short letter to each other in response to the chosen dialogue question. The love letter is written for 10 minutes maximum with 20% of the letter focused on ideas/thoughts and 80% focused on the feeling the writer is experiencing relative to the question. Key point here to remember is to keep it to 10 minutes and to focus on the “feeling”.
4. After the letter is written, husband and wife will exchange their love letter and “dialogue” for a maximum of 10 minutes. The goal here is to focus on dialoging on the strongest feeling of the two – husband or wife (e.g. if the wife has the strongest feeling on a scale of 1-10, you dialogue on the wife’s feeling) with the aim to understand your spouse’s feelings. Key point to remember here is to keep it to 10 minutes maximum and no problem solving, judgment or downplaying of your spouse’s feelings. You want this to be a “No Judgment Zone” otherwise it will not be safe to share and be authentic.
My wife and I have been practicing this technique for many years ever since we learned about it and I can tell you that if done correctly and consistently, your relationship will bear much fruit. This simple tool and habit will take your marriage to the next level and increase your intimacy in a deep and profound way beyond your imagination!!
Another way to reconnect with your spouse is to be intentional about the way you spend time together. We all are given 24 hours a day and it’s up to us on how we use it…will we make the most of it? or let it go to waste? Time is a commodity, make the most of it while we have it and give time to your spouse as a gift!
Make time to identify activities that you like to do as a couple that helps you feel connected to your spouse, whether it be going for a walk, working on a home project, or engaging in outdoor activities like biking, create a list and commit to making it a priority in your life. It may seem trivial but often times it’s the small simple things in life that mean the most to us and pay long-term dividends. There is something special about looking forward to something that you both enjoy doing and then following through on it as a commitment to one another…it raises your hearts and connects you emotionally.
Whenever we embark on a journey with a goal to succeed, we must begin with a vision, because the vision points you to where you want to go and it will fuel the journey…marriage is no different. Habakkuk 2:2-3 says “Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision; Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.”
What an inspiring message of hope for married couples! No matter how challenging it gets…keep your vision before you and DO NOT give up! Keep at it…it will surely come! I firmly believe that married couples MUST come up with a vision together and remind each other of that vision. When couples have a common purpose or goal that is bigger than themselves and believe in their hearts that it’s possible for them…they will stop at nothing to make it a reality!! That sense of mission is exciting, it’s personal, it’s YOURS! If you create that vision for your marriage, set goals together and work towards achieving that desired state…it will cement your relationship!!
There is no doubt that marriage can be very challenging, psychologically and emotionally. Tragically about 50% of marriages in the United Sates end in divorce…..it doesn’t have to end that way. As Christians, we have to remind ourselves that we are people of faith and hope, we are not alone on this journey. The Catechism of The Catholic Church, paragraph 1641 and 1642, states that Christian married couples receive their own special gifts (grace) with the intention to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity, and that Christ is the source of that grace.
Christian married couples should tap into this special grace through prayer. Inviting Christ into your marriage through prayer will enable you to allow God’s special grace to work through you so that you may love your spouse with God’s supernatural love and transform your marriage!
The Sacrament of Marriage is a fire of love, if you wish to set it ablaze, then consider implementing the 4 ways to reconnect with your spouse. To recap; increase the quality of your communication, make it a priority to do activities together as a couple, create a vision for your marriage and work together towards it, and invite Christ into your marriage through prayer. If you put these practices in place you will reconnect and reignite your love!!
There is no doubt that being a parent is hard work! Many parents question and doubt their abilities in raising their children, and wonder if they are making the right decisions. The outcomes in life are a result of the decisions we make every day, and one of the most important decisions we can make as parents, is how we raise, train and prepare our children for life. As parents, we want to equip our children with the right mindset to make good choices in life so that they can live happy, healthy, vibrant and successful lives!
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it”. As Christian parents, it’s important that we heed these words in order to establish a solid foundation of principles and values that will help our children navigate through life. Without instruction, structure, and proper formation, our children will drift aimlessly, uncertain about who they are and how they should live their lives.
Being a Christian parent can at times seem like it’s all uphill, the pull and pressure of society can be very challenging and overwhelming, especially if you are a single parent. In my 26 years of parenting, I’ve learned that Christian parents need a road map to help them raise their children in accordance with God’s plan. In this post I will share 4 Christian parenting tips that will make a positive impact. A good training foundation that parents can start with includes the following;
As a parent I believe it’s important that we give our children a set of Christian principles to live by. Why? Because without them they will wander like lost sheep. Teaching our children Christian principles will help shape their identity and belief system. The reason why this is important is because everything they do will stem from their understanding of their identity and belief system. In raising our 4 children we make it a priority to teach and consistently remind the kids about the importance of learning and embracing different core principles that can help them make good decisions and successfully navigate through life.
One of the core principles we like to remind our children about is “You Reap What You Sow”. I like to refer to 2 Corinthians 9:6 that says “Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully”, and Galatians 6:7 that states “Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows”.
The power of this principle is that it applies to everyone, whether we believe it or not, we cannot evade it. This is a good principle to teach our kids because they learn that there are consequences in life, good and bad. It’s also very empowering because they can be in control of their outcomes based on the decisions they make. It’s an opportunity for them to take a step back and re-evaluate their outcomes and ask themselves, what types of seeds am I sowing? If they don’t like the results they are getting then maybe it’s time to re-prioritize and sow different seeds. If you want tomatoes …you need to sow tomato seeds. The law of the harvest!
I love this quote by Charles Swindoll “The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes”. Whenever our kids are faced with a challenge or problem, this is another good principle to remind them of. Let’s face it, no one likes to see their kids down and discouraged, it breaks our heart, but as parents, we must be there to support them to lift their spirits and give them hope for a brighter future.
The reality is that life can be difficult, people can be challenging, but how our children respond (their attitude) can make all the difference. Sometimes they cannot change their circumstances or the people they interact with, but they do have control of their attitude. It’s important that our kids realize that no one or anything can steal their joy and hope, unless they allow it.
A positive attitude is attractive and contagious, it’s uplifting and inspiring! Let’s inspire our kids to embrace a positive “I CAN” attitude in everything they do…school work, sports, relationships, and spiritual life. This principle will serve them well throughout their lives to confront the challenges of life and to achieve their aspirations!
I believe that a person’s actions are a representation of their thoughts and beliefs. As a Christian it can be very difficult at times not to conform to what everyone else is doing, especially for our children. There is the pressure of feeling like an outsider and not being accepted. I get it, no one likes to feel rejected, but as Christians parents, we must help our kids find the courage within themselves and “Dare to Be Different“, to be a light of inspiration to others regardless of how difficult it may be… we are called to do that as Christians.
Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect”. When our children renew their minds through Holy Scripture, Christian books and music, and proper parental guidance, they will be inspired and empowered to align their behavior with their Christian beliefs. As parents, we should be “Role Models” of good and honorable behavior, to live consistent with our Christian faith…our actions and faith should be congruent.
An invaluable principle we can teach our children is to become a person of character. A person of character is someone who is consistent and committed to living their lives in accordance with their values and principles. As Christian parents, we should set high ethical standards for our kids and encourage them not to compromise them for anyone. Our world so desperately needs to see more examples of integrity, let’s teach our children that their words and actions should be in alignment because their future will depend on it.
This is a great quote from Frank Outlaw to share with your kids, it reads:
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny”.
Parenting is about leadership, we have a duty and obligation to lead and equip our children to win in life. To lay a solid foundation of morals, values, and principles. We MUST make it a priority in our lives to invest time and energy in properly raising our kids by teaching them Christian principles and the A (attitude), B (behavior), C (character) of life!
Building may sound like an unusual word to use when referring to family, however, there is no way to overstate the fact that the family unit is the solid foundation on which an entire society is built and without it no civilization has ever survived! The family is where individuals learn the basic building blocks of how to love, trust and bond with others in order to become productive members of society. It is in the family that we are formed in the habits, behaviors, expectations, values, and choices that we carry with us into our adult relationships.
Therefore, it is essential to put in place STRUCTURES and framework that promote a sense of belonging, safety, hope, forgiveness and unity in the lifegiving BASECAMP of the Marriage and Family institution. As husbands and wives, this is our FIRST and most important ministry and priority above all others. In this busy world it is easy to lose that perspective. Especially in a culture that supports HYPER individualism and independence versus the value of healthy interdependent, complimentary relationships. However, it is in the core premise of the Christian faith that we were created for relationship, to love and be loved by God and one another. This is the meaning of life and the true source of joy. It turns out that many important studies, including a 75-year long Harvard study, have concluded that true happiness and health are dependent upon meaningful connections and relationships in our lives. Therefore, building a healthy, happy family MUST first begin by building a family culture of unconditional trust, love and dialogue between family members. This is the cement foundation of family.
Culture is the shared characteristics and practices shared by people in a place and time. Every institution, including government, corporate businesses, sports teams, the music, art and fashion industries all have a culture in and of themselves; an identity, if you will. For example, during a television interview this past Winter, snowboard Olympian Shaun White spoke about the “snowboard culture” being all about “what you wear” and “what music you listen to”. Similarly, in a family environment, there is food, faith, values, traditions and customs that are practiced which make up a part of their identity. Sharing RITUALS together as a family such as dinner time, watching certain shows or movies, attending mass or church services regularly, enjoying outdoor activities or anything that involves laughing, learning, playing, praying, serving or just being together are all lifegiving ways of belonging to and building family relationships. Finding common ground, especially at an early age, is an integral part of the formation that helps family members overcome fear, doubt, confusion and loneliness. This is where we find joy! How would you describe your family culture? Is it one seeping with toxic habits like sarcasm, cynicism, deceit, and criticism OR do you strive for a spirit of unity, kindness, forgiveness and relentlessly trying to love one another despite your imperfections? These are the bricks the build on top of the foundation.
Your family environment can either syphon the joy out of everyone or be a sanctuary of hope and support from the world we live in. This definitely does NOT mean being a perfect family, but rather building an atmosphere of real intimacy, moral values and security that begins with the parents and trickles down to the children. The family is the training ground for life and love. As parents we must never underestimate its’ value or whether the sacrifices are worth the effort. There will always be good days and bad days, as well as times for asking for forgiveness and healing but in the end every member must know they are loved and a valuable part of something much greater than themselves. These structures, to name a few, are what holds everything together when the storms come.
One of the most amazing lessons we learn as toddlers is the universal law of cause and effect. If you put your hand on the stove, you get burned and it hurts. In contrast, if you keep getting on your bike when you fall off, you eventually learn how to ride on your own and it feels great. Every child feels proud when they learn that their positive actions can create great outcomes. They cheer, “I did it!” They can also quickly feel the sting of a selfish decision and its’ effect on others. As we grow we learn that every action has a reaction, that decisions have consequences and that after we plant comes the harvest.
You would think by the time we are adults we would realize the power behind our intentions, the critical connection between our habits and behaviors, and the effects they cause in every aspect of our lives and relationships. I suppose it is easier to believe in chance, luck, or fate but living with intention means proactively taking responsibility for our choices and the results they produce. It means being strategic about what we choose to do, where we choose to go and whom we chose to go with because every choice matters! In fact, every choice we make (and have made) leads us closer, or further, to the love and life we long for. That means we have the ability to make new choices and get different results. Living intentionally means being able to figure out what stepping stones will get you closer to your goal and having the determination to take each step, avoiding distractions along the way! The gaps you experience from where you are in life to that future you desire are only a cause and effect away from happening. It is, and always has been, our decisions that drive our lives.
Loving intentionally is the same thing. It means YOU decide the type of relationship you want to have. Love is a choice, a choice to be fully committed or not. Change is a choice, a choice to go through the hard work and sacrifice that is necessary, or not. If we look back on our lives and create stepping stones from where we were before to where we are now, it would be pretty easy to figure out which choices we made that got us here. What is standing between you and your vision of a fulfilled life? Do you fear, doubt, regret or blame? You can choose not to anymore. What limitation, what obstacle, what excuse is keeping you from that yearning, aching, pressing nudge that tells you, you were meant for more? Your choices can set you free. Do you dream about your career being more fulfilling, your marriage being more joy filled, your health being stronger or your life or finances being more stable? What changes would you have to make, hurdles would you have to climb, faith would you have to muster up to fulfill those dreams that you value?
Make the decision today to lead yourself to a better place! You can do it, you were created to do it! Whether it is learning something new, changing a habit, finding a resource, or gaining a new perspective, it will be the choices you make that get you there or not, and you owe it to yourself to try!