Husband and Wife Fighting All the Time: Marriage Fighting All the Time

Lani had always been known as "the fun one". She found or made the fun wherever she was. Her sister told the story of the family vacation that came to be known as "The Vacation of Mud". The family had arrived at the lakeside vacation cottage to find that the lake had overflowed itself and surrounded the little cottage in a sea of mud. While the rest of the family stood in shock, Lani instead declared it a "mud beach" and waded in, sat down, and started to create "mud castles". Not only did this break the initial tension and dismay, but it led to the Mud Pie "bake-off" and the Mud Ball soccer tournament.

When Josh met Lani it was in line to get city-provided chilled water bottles during a record-setting heat wave. Lani was easy to spot - she was wearing a grass skirt and lei and was trying to get everyone around her to learn to hula. Josh was immediately captivated. As their relationship evolved, Josh was repeatedly swept into Lani's wonderful world of making lemonade out of lemons. During a power outage she turned their little apartment into a twinkling wonderland of candles. When he had the flu she came up with a candy striper's uniform and attended to him with limitless perkiness, even when he was irritable.

Josh on the other hand came from a family that had endured many struggles. Their philosophy, and, later, his, was to be vigilant for bad news and hunker down to protect yourself. He found Lani's attitude odd but delightful. Mostly.

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His company announced that he was being transferred to an office in another state. He immediately focused on the urgent need to sell their house in a bad housing market, the burdens of finding all new doctors and dentists, the painful task of informing his family that he'd be moving far away, the loss of good friends, and so on.

Lani heard the news and sat quietly while she digested all the various implications of such a relocation. When Josh found her an hour later she was researching the new location online and had already made a list of things to do and places to go in their new state. For dinner that night she prepared a meal that was a classic dish in their new part of the country. She was telling him over dinner about the wonderful tourist opportunities that they'd be able to share when their friends and family visited their new home.

Josh wasn't in the mood, at least yet, for such an upbeat attitude.

"Lani, don't you get it?! This relocation is a bad thing. We are going to lose so much."

Lani frowned back at him. "Josh, don't you see? This move opens up so many new things for us. We've never lived in that part of the country. There's so much to experience there."

"Lani, don't you understand how bad this is? What if we can't sell this house? What if we just hate that part of the country?"

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Lani was about to debate the whole thing with Josh when she paused. She wasn't immune to the feelings of loss; she just automatically refocused her attention on the positive. She felt compelled to get Josh to do the same thing. But then she noticed the pain and fear on his face. She felt a rush of sympathy for this man she loved, even if he didn't seem to know how to face challenge the "right" way. Maybe he needed to process the losses and the fears first, before he could find his way to the positives. After all, she wasn't willing to change HER way of dealing with these situations. She absolutely refused to allow the negatives to dominate her thinking.

She realized that Josh needed to process this whole thing HIS way, not her way. She fought down the compulsion to change his thinking and chose instead to sympathize with it. She wouldn't and couldn't think his way; but she could give him the acceptance not to insist that he do it her way.

While she listened to his worries and fears she forced herself not to meet each one with a positive. To her surprise, once he felt that she was accepting his thoughts and feelings he seemed to be more open to entertaining her more positive thoughts. By the end of dinner he was complimenting the new cuisine. When they sat down together after dinner he was asking to see her lists of things worth doing and seeing in their new location. It was a start.

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An inability to resolve conflict is an underlying issue in many relationships. Couples seem to have difficulty thinking in terms of how can we both be OK. I refer to this behavior as continuing to act solely as singles and not relationally when it concerned both of them. One woman recently in an advice column expressed her frustration with her live in fiance's nasty and irritable behavior in the morning because he had not yet had his cup of coffee. You would think that he would make sure to have that cup of coffee right away. Instead he insisted on stopping for coffee on his way to work a good 45 minutes later.

What stuck me so about this couple was that she presented her unhappiness with his behavior like she had no right to expect him to make changes. His explanation for his morning unpleasantness was that this is just how he was in the mornings. He acted like he had no control over himself. There seemed to be no understanding from him as to how unpleasant it was for her to have him act like that day after day. I was also stuck by the fact that she felt guilty about wanting him to make changes.

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I see many couples struggling with working out conflict. What they have trouble putting into practice is that a healthy relationship means learning to think in terms of WE - how can we both be OK? What this man did not take into consideration was how unpleasant it was for her to be around him in the mornings.

When conflictual situations arise the question to ask is: what do we need to do so that both of us can be OK. It is learning to think relationally. One solution for this couple would be to have a coffee pot on an automatic timer set for when he awakened. The fact that he needed the coffee was not the problem. The problem was their inability to come up with a solution that both could support. Being able to take responsibility to think in terms of how can we both be OK is the key to coming up with solutions when conflicts arise.

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Marriage goals are vital to healthy relationships. But, most couples don't even realize they need them. I want to share with you some examples of great goals to have, why you should even bother, and how goals can improve your relationship.

When most people think about the word "Goals" they generally see it as an individual, personal, or business concept. However, writing goals for your marriage can be a great tool in your relationship by helping you remain focused on what is important to you both. Let's face it, marriage can be a lot of drudgery and we need to be proactive to keep the life and spark in our relationship. Goals can help you improve your relationship, dream together, and have a little fun in the process.

Here are a few guideline and ideas to help you better understand what a marriage goal looks like and tips to make them do-able in your relationship.

Be Specific. Don't make goals that are generic because they will lead to guilt and failure, make your goals specific. For example generic goals would be "We want to spend more time together," or, "We want to travel." Specific goal would be: "We want to have date night 3 nights a month "or, "We want to see Scotland on our 25th wedding anniversary."

Do it alone. Sometimes it is easier to write down your goals alone and then come together to share. My husband and I did this and it was fun to see how many of our goals were similar when we had never talked about them before. It's a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Some of the goals we shared were:

o Building our own home in the next 2 years (did it!),
o Seeing our children happily married, wildly success, and enjoying their life (have to wait a few years on this one - but we are proactively setting them up for success now)
o Renewing our vows on our 10th anniversary (date is set in November and we are having a blast making plans!)
o And, traveling a few times a year while the kids are young (weekend visits to places we can drive to for example-the highlight for them is the hotel, pool, and room service anyway!)

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Keep it Short! If the thought of coming up goals seems overwhelming start with 10. Ten specific, realistic, big, and shared goals will have a much greater impact than 50 goals you don't really care about but were just trying to fill up your quota. This is supposed to be fun-no pressure allowed!

Be Realistic. Don't just put down big dreams for the future. Make sure you have goals that are relevant to who you are today and your current season of life. Include what you want to accomplish in your relationship this month, in the next 6 months, or in the next year. When you have 3 children at home under the age of 6 a two week vacation to Europe in the next year is probably not realistic right now, but a weekend away twice a year is.

Don't forget to Dream! While you need to have realistic goals that you can accomplish sooner rather than later, don't forget to dream big when you are thinking about your goals. Let yourself think a few years into the future (or maybe many years into the future) and dream about where you want to be then. Put down that two week trip to Europe, or paying off all of your debt, or finally opening up your own business together. When you put them down on paper, and start baby stepping your way towards them, even big dreams can become realities!

Make them Visible! Once you have finished brainstorming, discussing, tweaking, and praying make a finalized list of your goals to display in your home. Put them on your fridge, in a frame on your bedside table, as a bookmark in your Bible, or even on your phone. The point is to have them visible. Don't put them in a drawer to be forgotten. When you see them often you will be reminded of their importance and you will start living your life to accomplish those goals.

Marriage goals are fantastic! They can help you have a clear vision for your future, improve your relationship now, and help you stay focused on what's really important when life gets tough. I hope you take my advice and start working on your own marriage goals today!

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Some parents put extreme pressure on their children by wanting them to do certain things with their lives or be something they may not want to do or cannot do. One parent I know told his son's soon-to-be father-in-law that his new addition to the family was going to get a job as a custodian in a school district. The problem was, the son had other plans for after he had married the daughter, and was not equipped skill-wise to do that sort of job. You can imagine what happened when the son found out about this secret deal his father had made.

Many parents want their children to go to a certain school or train for a career that perhaps matches what their family has always done or been, let's say a lawyer. But when the time comes for that child to actually go to that school or take up that trade, he may flunk out or if he does go through with it, be unhappy in his profession for many years to come.

Grandchildren are another item of stress for children from their parents. This one puts a lot of stress on the parent-child relationship, and on the spouse to spouse relationship.

Maybe they don't feel ready yet to have children? Perhaps one or both are not mature enough to take on this added responsibility? There are many reasons they could have for not having children right away, but if you are always asking or hinting about having grandchildren, it is going to put extra pressure and stress on them. What do you want more, a good relationship with your children or grandchildren?

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The better way to approach expectations you may have for them, is to watch their development as they grow up, and look for clues as to what they really like to do. Expose them to science, mathematics, and all kinds of different experiences, then see what comes from it. If you really love your children you will wait for something to show itself, instead of trying to make something grow that is not there.

Perhaps, in today's job market and economy, it would be better to get a job they like, then train further afterward. In this case, the company may help with the money needed to do this. Another alternative may be a trade school of some sort. Get some job counseling if needed for the interests of your children. Also encourage them to have more than one interest, if you can. A mentor in that line of work could also be an avenue for them, if they want it.

Think about the consequences of being too pushy with your children regarding these and other subjects. Rather than controlling and stressing your children, encourage and nurture them. Let God give you the wisdom you need as you raise your children so you don't destroy the relationships with them. He is always willing to give you what you need, and is available 24/7 to answer your call. He loves you so very much.

So, have you been putting stress on your children or other people's children to have kids? This kind of pressure doesn't just come from parents from other you may know that your children are exposed to. Sometimes people ask me about my own daughter, whether she has children yet. So think about consequences before you speak and listen and observe what you children truly like to do, then nurture that in that direction.

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