Crossing the Finish Line

Crossing the Finish Line

by
Omaira Gonzalez

My husband and I joined a 5K walk/run. We were pretty excited that we were going to do this together and also that it was for a good cause. However, that day when we woke up the sky was gray, it was cold and raining. Neither of us had much motivation to go out there and run, but we decided to get bundled up and got ready to participate anyway. We headed out there and joined the rest of the many people who, like us, decided not to let the Chicago weather stop them.

This 5K made me reflect on how my husband and I first came together and decided, “Hey let’s get married.” Since then, we joined a marathon called marriage. When we first started this race, it was so exciting! We dreamed of a lifetime of happiness, sunshine and rainbows. We geared up for our race, put on our best running shoes, and made sure we each had our water bottles to keep hydrated from time to time when things felt dry in our relationship. Get ready, get set, go! We were ready! Until the day a gray cloud in the sky called “differences” appeared. I mean, we knew we were different. He is guy and I am girl; we liked different stuff. But I am talking about the kind of “differences” that get under your skin. Funny thing is that they are usually the subtle stuff that always gets to you. For example, you are neat, he is messy; he wants to watch sports all day long, and you, well, not so much; one procrastinates, the other wants it done now; one is a spender and the other wants to save it all; one wants to talk about their feelings and the other one doesn’t listen. While these scenarios may seem silly or perhaps not so silly, it builds up in your relationship, and your race together feels like you are running under gray skies, light showers and sometimes a thunderstorm. You see less of the sun because the cloud of differences is now over your race. This can be very frustrating and discouraging, and you get fatigued in the middle of your race when faced with challenges. You start off very excited and with a goal in mind to cross the finish line. But how do you continue a race when you are not as motivated as you were when you first started?

As my husband and I were entering into our last mile, we became tired and fatigued. The cold weather and rain did not help us at all, and we started to get discouraged. I felt like this last mile was weighing me down, when my husband looked at me and said, “We are almost there, we got this. Let’s cross this finish line together,” and then offered me his arm. I grabbed his arm and found the support I needed to finish our last mile. At that moment it didn’t matter how I was feeling or what kind of weather we were facing. I was just happy that I had him by my side to finish this race as a couple, just like when we first started.

In marriage you will have your differences and your own experience weathering difficulties and unexpected challenges. Yet, in all of my 30 years of marriage, what I have discovered most about staying in this marathon called marriage is that it’s not so much about how to weather the storm, but it’s about how to motivate each other to stay in the race and cross the finish line.

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges


Omaira Gonzalez is the COO for Family Bridges. Omaira and her husband of 30+ years love adventure, long walks and Broadway shows. With their kids, granddaughter and granddogs, they enjoy great meals and playing board games. But look out–losing is not an option!

Improve the “Me” to Impact the “We”

Improve the “Me” to Impact the “We”

How do we invest in ourselves to produce stronger, healthier relationships, particularly in our marriages?

By
Eduardo Morales

Science and research speak to the tremendous benefits of personal growth. Whether it is adding to your skill-set to become more marketable in the industry, toning up that physique for a healthier lifestyle, or even expanding your knowledge by reading a book a week. These are all great things to pursue, but what about in the area of relationships? How do we invest in ourselves to produce stronger, healthier relationships, particularly in our marriages?

What I have found is that what happens to ‘me’ impacts the ‘we.’ In other words, our personal growth has a splash effect on all our other relationships. However, if you want to keep the spark alive in your marriage, here are a few ways we can improve the ‘me’ to impact the ‘we.’

Understand the Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship

Marriage is the most intimate relationship we will ever experience on earth. This type of relationship is focused around the greatest level of intimacy. At this level, nothing is hidden. A mutual acceptance takes place considering all the flaws, quirks, and uniqueness of who that person is, yet, completely loving them without condition. Marriage is a real-life work of art, as it brings together two different people, from different backgrounds, walks of life, families of origin, and crashes all their ideas together to paint a beautiful picture of love. However, to get to this level and maintain consistency, there needs to be a healthy balance of communication, conflict resolution, and connection. Grasping a deeper understanding of these ingredients and identifying ways you can improve in these areas will put you in a great position to have a happier, healthier marriage.

Go Back to School

Wait a second…No, I don’t mean literally going back to school, but more so, becoming a student again. First, take some time to evaluate yourself. Look at your communication styles, take a personality test or an Emotional Intelligence assessment. How are you doing with your self-management? Can you handle your emotions well? Be honest. Remember, the better you can learn about the ‘me’ effects your ability to better understand the ‘we.’ Then become a student of your spouse. Encourage them to take similar assessments so you can learn more about their responses. Or just watch and listen and take notes. I’ve found that all these assessments can give you a good idea who your partner is, but it takes intentional work to make sure you’re relating to them in their ways. Obtaining more information about your partner allows for improved communication. Have check-ins. There’s no better learning opportunity than simply talking with one another.

Learn to say “I’m sorry, will you forgive me…”

We know conflict is inevitable. And it’s not that happy couples don’t argue or experience less conflict, it is more about their perspective to approaching conflict. Healthy relationships strive for resolution, whereas unhealthy relationships pursue victory. One of the key elements of Emotional Intelligence is Social Awareness. Considering how our actions and words impact others. Importantly, recognizing when we’re wrong and being able to take ownership of our actions. So, learn how to say “I’m sorry” when we’re wrong. Take the approach of finding resolution instead of just trying to be right. This is key to keeping the spark alive because nothing douses the romantic flames more than conflict.

Create Space for Connection

I know, I know, not another test, but have you taken the 5 Love Languages test? Simply put, it’s a way to understand how you and your partner feel most loved and connected. Take some time to learn this. Try implementing things that will make your spouse feel the most loved. Maybe it’s sending a short “I’m thinking of you (heart emoji)” text or greeting your partner with a long hug as they come home, or just offering to hear about their day and taking time to listen. Individuals can receive intimacy in many forms. Also, create space to keep that spark alive. How does a deep connection usually happen? Over time, through much talking, while being together. Make date nights a habit. Protect time in your calendar for that space for you and your spouse to connect. You don’t need an agenda of activities, just be present.

At the end of the day, be encouraged. No one has this all figured out. She needs work, he needs work, I need work, we all need work. Self-improvement and relational-improvement is a process. To have a healthy relationship and marriage, it will take intentional investments. So look at one thing you can start doing that would have a positive impact on your marriage today. Write it down. Tell it to your spouse or someone close to you to keep you accountable. Then put it in to practice. Shoot for once a week, then increase from there. While it may not be the easiest area to develop, growing yourself for the betterment of your relationships is one of the best personal investments you can make.

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Eddie had been speaking on and writing about healthy relationships for several years now. His passion is to see young adults thrive, marriages flourish, and families become change agents in their community. Follow him on LinkedIn.

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

Keeping the Spark Alive: Going Back to Basics

Keeping the Spark Alive: Going Back to Basics

As a couple, you will benefit from remembering today the things that made you fall in love back then.

By
Dr. Charles & Elizabeth Woehr

Have you noticed that wonderful things happen when you least expect them? They suddenly appear, suddenly happen, take your breath away, and your world is infused with wonder and gratitude. As a couple, we are perfectly agreed on this one thing: we love nice surprises! And we have learned a fundamental truth about great surprises: you can help make them happen to you, if you are willing to do the hard work needed to set them up. Let us explain how this works.

Several years ago, the two of us, along with our teenage daughter, decided to go camping for the weekend. We chose a nearby location that we knew little about. We didn’t know if it would be ordinary or extraordinary. We took a chance. We pitched our tent in a narrow valley alongside a river. By the second day we were getting a bit restless, with limited options for entertainment. We decided to climb up the mountainside as a way of getting some fresh air and exercise, and to see what one could see from higher up. The climb was tiresome, we had to wait for each other, and at one point it seemed we would not get high enough to see very far. One of us was eager to climb ahead, another was thinking of climbing back down. We decided to keep together, helping those who were tiring, and encouraging one another along in the steeper parts of the climb. This decision strengthened our emotional connection, which in turn kept us moving forward. We were so concentrated on the climbing that reaching the top came as a surprise. But even more surprising was the view: we could look off across mountain tops into the farther reaches of the valley. It was a wonderful gift, after a hard climb.

That experience was more than just a climb and a view. It was a life lesson about how surprises can be set up to happen. The key is what happens between the joyful start of the climb and the surprising view at the end: hard but necessary work! Marriage is like going on many climbs together. If you want to share “surprising views” on a regular basis, you will have to stay together in the tough times, speak encouragement to one another, and be willing to slow down when one of you is struggling. If you do this for one another, step by step you will advance until you reach the top. The view will confirm that the effort was worth it.

Something that will give you, as a couple, a renewed commitment for staying together and keeping the spark alive, is the answer to the question: What made you fall in love with each other? It might be tempting to brush that aside as something that was only good for getting things started between you, but the truth is: those reasons should stay with you and continue to motivate you, especially when staying together and keeping the spark alive seems very difficult to do. The middle of the climb, so to speak. The only way you will be able to achieve the big surprise is by staying together, encouraging one another, and helping each other along the way. The motivation comes from remembering what made you fall in love; the emotional connection you established. Was it her sense of humor? Be a great companion so that the sense of humor will stay alive. Was it his zest for life? Be aware of ways you can share in his burdens and keep the joy alive. Was it her kindness? Be one who deserves kindness so that kindness can continue to be there. The person you married is still there, beside you. He or she, too, wants to hold on to the things that made you love them in the first place. The secret to keeping the surprises coming will be the hard work of keeping each other in love, by still sharing the things that made each of you special at the beginning, when you first fell in love. You can get things started by looking into each other’s eyes and taking turns finishing this sentence: “when we first met, what I loved about you was ________ .” Do it back and forth several times, so that you can make a whole list of those special things that eventually convinced you to choose to do life together.

So, are you ready for a surprise-filled marriage? Get to work. Bring out, in you, the dashing, fun young man she fell in love with. Bring out, in you, the witty, daring young lady he fell in love with. Together, hand in hand, walk into your next adventure ready to work at it… and prepare yourselves for some “unexpected” surprises!

—–

Dr. Charlie Woehr is a full-time Spanish Editor at Tyndale House Publishers. He is also Assistant District Superintendent in the Spanish Central District of his church denomination. Elizabeth is the Family Coordinator at Family Bridges. Charlie and Elizabeth served as missionaries to Chile for 22 years, working on pastoral teams and teaching in Alliance Seminaries. They have a heart for teaching and encouraging couples of all ages. They are the happy parents of three grown children, and have two grandchildren.

Contact info:

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges

Speaking the Language of Love

Speaking the Language of Love

Love and relationships should come naturally. They should not be so much work.

By
Bill Ferrell

“I believed I had found the secret to my wife’s heart.”

For many years on every birthday, every anniversary, every Valentine’s day – I would buy my wife three cards. Sometimes they were cute. Sometimes they were romantic. Sometimes they were funny. But always they communicated, “I love you.”

I would painstakingly take time choosing the right cards. Then I would pour over them, choosing just the right words. This process sometimes took hours. The amount of time didn’t matter to me. I wanted to make sure that I communicated how much I loved her.

Once completed on the night before the particular celebration, I would place them on the kitchen counter so she would see them first thing in the morning. I then imagined the next morning:

She would walk down stairs and, upon entering the kitchen, be surprised to see – not one, not two – but three cards. All addressed to her. A smile would spread across her face. “What has that crazy husband of mine done?” she would muse to herself. She would then carefully open each card, slowly savoring the words I had taken care to write. Suddenly her bottom lip would quiver and a single tear would stream down her cheek. She would then come bounding up the stairs to find me. Choking back tears of unspeakable joy, she would declare her undying love for me. Then pulling me close while gazing into my eyes, her lips would gently touch mine – expressing the passion that was welling up in her heart.

Yeah – In my dreams!

In reality – she would simply smile, say, “thank you,” and go on with her morning.

I did this for years. Bought the cards. Wrote the notes. Placed them on the counter. Imagined the scenario above. And her response was always the same. A smile. Thank you. On with her day.

I was puzzled. No – actually frustrated. Her response was so…so…so…blah. I had just expressed passionate heartfelt undying love and her response was the same as when I take the garbage out.

And so, I decided to do something truly “crazy.” I decided to talk to her about it. I asked her why her response to my expression of love was not met with the same level of passion in which I had given?

What I learned blew me away!

Speaking a Different Language

She told me that the cards did NOT say “I love you” to her. She admitted that yes – the cards were filled with words of love and desire for her. And that meant something to her. To be fair to her, she did express appreciation. She just wasn’t as thrilled to receive as I was to give. What I learned was that they did not mean the same thing to her as they did to me. Words are what say “I love you” to me – not to her.

I learned that I had been projecting my love language on her. I had been assuming that what said “I love you” to me would naturally say “I love you” to her. That makes sense – right?!

She went on to say that she felt most loved by me when I did acts of service for her.

  • When I took care of the car (making sure that she was safe)
  • When I bought her a Diet Coke (I was thinking of her)
  • When I cut the grass and shoveled snow (keeping the house looking nice)
  • When I went shopping with her (submitting to torture)

I realized that I had been speaking to her in my love language. In the way that says “I love you” to me. I might as well have been speaking a foreign language. In fact – I was.

Learn to Speak Their Love Language

Gary Chapman, in his best-selling book, The Five Love Languages, explains that the secret to expressing love to others is to understand their “love language.” Here they are, along with a brief description:

  1. Words of Affirmation – Using words to build up the other person. “Thank you for the cards. That really meant a lot to me.”
  2. Gifts – A gift says, “He was thinking of me, and look what he got me.”
  3. Acts of Service – Doing something that you know they would like. Washing the dishes, making a meal, vacuuming the floors, changing the oil in the car – are all acts of service.
  4. Quality Time – When you give them your undivided attention. Taking a walk together or sitting on the couch with the TV off and no cell phones. Talking and listening.
  5. Physical touch – Holding hands, hugging, kissing, sexual intercourse are all expressions of love.

Chapman goes on to explain that every person has a primary love language which speaks more deeply to them than all the others. Discovering each other’s love language and speaking it on a regular basis is the best way to keep love alive in a relationship.

The Secret to A Most Excellent Way

If you want to be excellent at expressing love to others – learn their love language. Oftentimes you can figure this out by observing how they express love to you or what seems to evoke a strong response from them.

However, the secret to discovering the most excellent way of showing your love to them is…are you ready for this…ask them.

Yes – sit down with them and ask directly what says “I love you” to them. Use the list of the Five Love Languages above as a guide. Ask for examples. Get specific. Be a student of them. Make no assumptions. And then whatever they say – believe them.

I say to believe them because our natural tendency is always our own point of reference. We must resist the temptation to project our own preferences on to others – even when they have told us otherwise. So, believe them and then act accordingly.

Speaking their love language is a critical step in keeping your love alive!

———-

Bill Ferrell has been married for 35 years, has 2 adult children, and 4 precious granddaughters. He teaches individuals and couples how to experience loving and fulfilling relationships. He is also the Community Relations Director for GRIP Outreach for Youth. When he is not helping Chicago urban youth to experience a better life, or inviting others to join him – he is spending time with his family, running, swimming, biking, or reading a book. Or playing practical jokes on his kids.

Follow him on…
Facebook
Twitter: @billferrelljr
Instagram: @popferrell57

For more resources on marriage and relationship building, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Marriage Makeover: How to Have Meaningful Conversations 

Marriage Makeover: How to Have Meaningful Conversations 

By
Dr. Nadia Persun

Would you be interested to hear what happened today on my way to work?” she asked excitedly, walking into the house. “I’d rather skip to the part where I hear what we are having for dinner. We can talk about the rest later,” he replied passing by, barely looking at her. Conversations missed, moments of connection are rushed. Marriage becomes crushed by the weight of daily responsibility, emotional dullness, and perpetual fatigue. Relationships continue to exist out of habit, as a routine. Work, parenting, helping others — sure. What is left for your spouse is a flat-lined level of energy sprinkled with crumbs of good intentions?

Meaningful dialogues? Forget it. What we have left for each at the end of the day are “useful conversations.” They are made of half-constructed thoughts, lazy listening, and functional orders focused on the execution of responsibility and errands. Sexy lingerie and candlelit dinners are replaced by other secret desires: clean kitchen, a cooked meal, laundry done, kids early to bed, and some TV as a survival reward. Marriage is on a perpetual diet.

What can we do to have a happy, healthy relationship? Easy: just finish reading this blog to learn quick, easy, proven solutions! Just kidding! However, the good news is that there are no secrets. You already know most of the things that you need to do. Just like with exercise and diet: some push-ups and an apple a day. However, skipping push-ups and eating a Hershey bar is easier. People’s nature is to pick the path of least resistance and minimal effort. We are also falsely hopeful, thinking that at some magical “later” time we will be stronger, more motivated, in the mood to do the “right” thing. What happens, in reality, is perpetual hoping and postponing, leaving us stuck in a rut.

How do we tackle this complex issue without feeling like busting through stones? Be proactive and start with small consistent steps. We are wrong thinking that small kind steps are seldom appreciated. How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time. Can’t solve the whole problem, then focus on solving part of the problem.

The next part is actually doing something. Even the best information will not help if you don’t put it into use. You know what they say, “the road to failure is paved with good intentions.” A better life will not come from wishing and hoping. We want to ice the cake without having to make the cake. We need a new positive action. Only actions can bring specific results.Here are examples of the simple proactive steps that can help to improve communication, and heal and restore connection.

  1. Make eye contact, look and act friendly and approachable.You have to become adept at daily communication and staying connected. Put your phone down. Turn off the TV. Just be in the same space, open and present to talk and connect with each other. Come out to greet your family when they arrive home. Stay in the same room together, not looking busy with other things. Make eye contact. Say “Hi. Please. Thank you. This is lovely. How are you doing today?” and so on. Little moments, kind words, fostered as a daily habit. Small talk is not idle chat.
  2. Don’t wait for someone to read your mind, speak up openly.It is quite simple: what you don’t ask for, you won’t get. Be clear on what you want, what you are willing to give, then ask for it. “Could you please sit with me for 10 minutes and hear about my idea for our next vacation?”; “Could you please come out and greet me by the door any time you hear that I return from work?”; “Can we do something fun together this weekend, just us, no kids?”
  3. Pay attention to get attention. Drop the tyranny of expectations, in which your spouse must do something first, so only then you are to respond with a nicety. Who cares who “started it” and “whose turn it is?” You are in the same boat, and it is leaky. Decide to be first to start fixing it. Be curious about your spouse. Ask questions and listen. Give them the spotlight. Do something nice, unexpected, no strings attached. Good energy will be returned to you in abundance.
  4. Respect the rules of good behavior. We all know that it is not good to scream, call names, throw objects, and slam doors. There are rules related to respect and self-control. We tend to forget them when stressed out and when we feel that the other person is not treating us nicely. So, it is fair game to be bad in return! Even when your spouse is seemingly “underserving”, decide to stay kind, polite, and play by the rules.
  5. Seek common ground and build on areas of agreement.You may disagree on types of movies, style of music, what to eat, sleep schedules, and how much and how often to wash and clean. But you are likely in agreement that your children need love and care, that both of you can benefit from having more fun and less stress, that being friendly and polite is better than hostility. Bring up more subjects that you know both of you share and support. Discussing such topics will foster the bond and improve communication skills, gradually allowing you to tackle things that are more sensitive and require negotiation.
  6. Seek help and support, if needed. No man is an island. We are more alike than different. But we also can be very stubborn. If you feel that your marriage resembles a truck with its wheels stuck in thick mud, and no maneuvers or acceleration result in any positive movement, don’t wait long to seek counseling.

To conclude, marital success and personal happiness don’t make cameo appearances in your life. You have to become aware, intentional, and disciplined to implement positive changes, making small but consistent steps. You also need to decide to be a grown up in your relationship, taking ownership of positive intentions, making it unconditional regardless what others do or don’t do. Take care of your partner, and your spouse will take care of you.

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Dr. Nadia Persun is a Clinical Psychologist working in Wheaton and Naperville, IL, treating anxiety, depression, weight problems. She also focuses on therapy with adolescents and couples in distress, aimed on conflict reduction and divorce prevention. Dr. Persun is a Medical Directory of “GreenPath Clinic”, which offers services for mental health problems, chiropractic, naturopathy, physical therapy, and nutrition. On her spare time, Dr. Nadia is a gardener, blogger, reader, chef-dilettante, and avid traveler-explorer together with her family.

Read more about her on http://GreenPathClinic.com,

https://facebook.com/greenpathclinic  

 

For more resources on marriage and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

5 Steps to Write a Poem

5 Steps to Write a Poem

By
Sarah Pichardo

Valentine’s Day is coming up. You made yourself a vow to really outdo yourself this year by being thoughtful, romantic and, dare I say, extra? And what better way to melt the heart of your Romeo or Juliet than by writing a poem from your heart?

The only problem is, you don’t know the first thing about writing poetry. Fear not. That’s where this handy dandy tutorial comes in. First of all, it’s super sweet that you’re even considering doing this. Give yourself a pat on the back and reward yourself with a treat just for even thinking about it. Now, let’s get to it. Here are some tried and proven steps to help you deliver the best message of all time.

Step 1. Get a piece of paper
Step 2. Get a pen
Step 3. Starting writing…a note letting everyone know you’re heading out
Step 4. Get your car keys
Step 5. Drive to your nearest Hallmark store

Just kidding? Also that’s 5 steps. But I’m a writer not a mathematician.

Seriously. People at Hallmark get paid good money to be sentimental, romantic, funny and to come up with messages for EVERYTHING and for EVERYONE. No one’s going to be mad you bought a card. BUT if you really do insist on doing it yourself, here are the real steps to writing an amazing poem that will win you all the awards.

Step 1. Know your subject.

I mean, this goes without saying but for you slow people out there, think about the person you’re writing this for. What do you love the most about ‘em? The way they smile? The way they smell? The way their eyes glisten when you bring them food?

Step 2. Use imagery.

No, I don’t mean put pictures of stuff in your poem. Though maybe drawing a picture will get you extra points. I mean, paint a picture with your words.

Step 3. Make it rhyme
Lastly, but also most importantly, I don’t care what anybody says, if it doesn’t rhyme, it’s not a poem.

There you go. It’s beautiful. You’re amazing. Give yourself another treat.

Also, here’s an example of a real poem….

Te quiero
Te adoro
Te pongo en el inodoro
Le doy a la palanquita
Y adiós corazón de oro

No translation. Sorry. Pretend it says…

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I’m no poet
I just want to kiss you

If you actually went through the trouble of writing a poem, even if you didn’t follow my amazing tips, I really want to see it. Please send it to me so I can read it. Please. Cause I want to know what love is.

P.S. If you want a little more info on being extra in your relationship, check out this blog. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll figure out the recipe to being the happiest couple on the block.

—–

Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or overdoing it with the Christmas decorations.
Follow her on…

Twitter: @sarahp726
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726/

For more resources on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Having Resolve

Having Resolve

By
Eva Fleming

My father suffered a massive stroke shortly after his 55th birthday. As a result, the right side of his body was completely paralyzed. After weeks in the hospital, followed by months of intense physical therapy and with the spiritual support of many colleagues around the world, he began to gain function of his body. In the beginning, he made a herculean effort to get out of bed alone, but gradually with the help of a cane and holding on to the walls for support he started ever so slowly to get from one place to the other.

His determination was so intent that in less than a year he was tending to his garden, pruning his fruit trees, teaching and even driving.

The success my father had relearning every mundane task starting from zero, shows what scientists have known all along – that the brain is more malleable than previously thought and is capable of rebuilding itself even after having been damaged or after having lived through trauma.

Determination and resolve coupled with the ability of the brain, due to its plasticity, to change and adapt, is what we need to keep on keeping on, never giving up!

Modern studies have revealed how the brain continues to create new neuron pathways and altering the already existing ones to adapt to new experiences, learn new information and create new memories even in the face of insurmountable obstacles. This means that the person who refuses to give up can be successful even amid the challenges he or she is facing.

When you want to conquer an obstacle, follow through on a resolution, or overcome a weakness, you can be certain that you are literally made out of a gray matter that is always renewing itself. This ability the brain has to renew itself, conquer obstacles, learn new routines and even develop noble character is the understated miracle of humanity. This should bring not only pleasure to our lives but also prompt us to be immensely grateful.

Even though we are saying it is a “miracle,” that doesn’t minimize the process of growth one has to go through and the stress that change inevitably brings: Everything that’s worth having is worth fighting for.

Here are some steps we recommend you follow when facing new challenges:

  • Accept your situation and embrace your challenge
  • Commit to getting the most out of the challenge and the process, learning the    lessons it provides along the way
  • Consider your personal growth as a gift to humanity
  • Remind yourself that the initial frustration of learning something new is normal and it can be overcome
  • Surround yourself with people that can give you positive support
  • Don’t lose faith

My father was resolute in his pledge to get better after his stroke and I know that your challenge, even though it is probably different, is just as significant. Don’t get discouraged, find your compass, and get up every day with a renewed commitment until you accomplish what you have set out to do. The ability of the brain to perform great feats is tucked deep within you and tenacity is all you need to activate it.

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Is it Worth It? (Spender vs Saver)

Is it Worth It? (Spender vs Saver)

By
Eva Fleming

Everyday people from many different cultural and social backgrounds and with different personalities come together to form one family. And it’s a beautiful thing. But, what happens when there’s a clash in values, particularly in the way you value money? Let’s talk about it.

A value is a force within you that will influence your life. Your attitudes about money will affect how you relate to it, to yourself and to others. Not all of us have strong financial values. And not all of us have the grace needed to deal with the partner in a relationship who has weak ones. Most commonly in a relationship, there is a spender and a saver. Each one pulling the financial rope in opposite directions. The spender wants to enjoy a high quality of life with all the comforts of the here and now, while the saver wants to feel financially secure, sacrificing comfort for financial security.
This dance can quickly turn into a tug of war because their different views of money can cause hostility between them.

Some couples quickly realize that if they want their homes to be peaceful, they must learn how to compromise, learn and make it work. Understanding all the while that it’s never easy, but with work and cooperation, they can pull through. Other couples never catch on to the pitfalls of financial disagreements and allow these arguments over money to become frequent and endless because, in the end, it’s not about the expense itself but about what money means to each of them.

These fights instead of solving the problem, merely widen the distance between the couple. They continue to argue incessantly, and the more a couple bickers about money, especially if more than once a week, the higher the possibility that they will end up divorced. Not even diverging political views can cause havoc in a relationship the way different views of money can.

There comes a critical moment in which couples that disagree with how to handle their finances must decide if they are going to continue fighting or if they are going to establish parameters in these areas of their lives and be amicable as they work through their differences.

What can you do when you become stuck in the vortex of financial disagreements?

When an argument about money arises, don’t allow your disagreements to turn into a deadly battle, where one loses and the other wins. On the contrary, acknowledge that the argument the other person is making has as much validity as yours does. Give their case the same consideration and respect that you give your own.

Establish firm boundaries with the help of a third person, if necessary, and commit to trying to understand what that need to spend or save means for the person you love.

If you are the spender, grow your character by learning to delay instant gratification. If you are the saver, be more flexible in the things you are willing to spend money on for the sake of the relationship. Can’t come to an agreement? Here are some tips on how to tell if something’s worth buying.

In the end, your relationship is worth more than gold and no disagreement is worth the emotional toll that all the fighting brings. Learn to value each other above all.

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

The Cycle of Debt

The Cycle of Debt

By
Eva Fleming

Did you know that the national household debt in the U.S. is a whopping 13 trillion dollars? To help you put that in perspective, keep in mind that a trillion has twelve zeroes in it! In the words of Dave Ramsey, “debt is as American as apple pie, but certainly not as sweet.” Even though most of us have it, none of us really want it. I had a debt from a hospital stay that took me two years to pay off. And this is after decent medical coverage!

Some of our debt is the result of unexpected expenses that end up on our credit cards because we didn’t plan for them in our emergency fund. But other debt is the result of our wants and desires and things we just had to have, but never actually made provisions for in our budget.

If we want to break free from debt, we must learn to make the distinction between those two types of unbudgeted expenses and learn to plan for them seriously. One requires that we put effort into beefing up our emergency fund and the other one requires that we become more disciplined with our budget.

Emergencies are part of life. If you think your life will be smooth sailing without any setbacks, e.g., leaking roof or car repairs, then you are living in a fantasy world.

I live in Florida, where hurricane season starts in June and doesn’t end until November 30th. To survive those months, residents must have a contingency plan that answers questions like: What are we going to do in the event of a hurricane? Where are we going to evacuate if the storm is expected to be a category 5? What do I need to have in hand if I decide to stay home (water bottles, water for flushing the toilet, generators, candles, medicine, batteries, can foods, etc.), When are we going to install the shutters? What will I do with my pet? It’s important to plan every minor detail to keep the family safe and minimize any harm to the house or personal possessions, etc.

There are no always hurricanes in Florida, but one must always be prepared just in case. Readiness will help you sleep in peace with the least amount of anxiety possible. This is the kind of mentality we must have to succeed financially. The more prepared you are for what’s most likely coming, the fewer chances you’ll use your credit cards to get you out of trouble when those things do happen.

We must also keep in mind that the human spirit with all its wants and desires is nearly impossible to satisfy. In the mall I frequent, there are big signs everywhere that read: “Desire It,” “Deserve it,” “Acquire it.” All these signs invite you to satiate your desires even if it is beyond your means to do so because after all, you “deserve it.” In a world like that, without a budget and the willingness to stick to it, you are not going to be very successful staying out of debt. Here’s a budget sheet that can help you get started.

If you are amid crushing debt, seek help from the experts like Dave Ramsey among others, and follow their recommendations to pay off your current debts. Beyond that, try to develop the discipline needed to improve your emergency fund and make a firm commitment to stick to your budget and you will see how little by little, debt will no longer be an issue for you.

For our children’s sake and the future of our children’s children, let’s break the chains of debt. Let’s no longer allow our circumstances and desires to keep us slaves to debt. This new year commit to do your part to shrink those 12 zeroes from the trillion dollars that are currently strangling our economy. Let’s end our addiction to debt once and for all. Here’s a helpful resource that can help you cut expenses and avoid getting into more debt.

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

The Only 2 Budgeting Tips You’ll Ever Need!

The Only 2 Budgeting Tips You’ll Ever Need!

By
Sarah Pichardo

Adulting sucks. You wake up, go to work, go home, sleep, eat and repeat. And then that glorious day comes where you get paid and you’re all like, “hallelujah, I’m about to make it rain.” Only to have the rug pulled from under you by those things called bills. And do you know why? Because 5-10-15-20 years ago you were sitting in your parent’s house thinking, one day I’m going to be my own boss, make my own rules and do whatever I want. Yeah. Congratulations. You got what you wished for. You’re an adult and there’s no turning back no matter how hard you try.

But it’s ok. Cause you’re a pretty fantastic adult. You go to work and maybe even have a family that you love and are nice to. You do a good deed every now and again, you give some money to charity and you call your mom once a week (BTW – did you call your mom this week? Get on it. She’s probably worried sick about you; it doesn’t matter that you’re 30 or 50 for that matter. Remember, family first.) Where was I? Oh yeah – you’re pretty good at this adulting thing.

And now, you’re thinking to yourself, It’s New Years. It’s that time of year where I’m going to make changes. Good changes. Changes that will make me a better person. And you wrote those down. You made some amazing resolutions. Didn’t you? Resolutions that you’re going to stick to…for real this time. And of course on top of that list is…(drum roll please)… making a budget and sticking to it. Because on top of being an amazing adult, you’re also a responsible adult. Bam! Plus, like your abuelita always said “a pobre viene, quien gasta más de lo que tiene.” (You’ll end up poor if you spend more than you have. Except it rhymes in Spanish and sounds way wiser and abuelita-like.)

media-AbuelitaQuote-tips-for-sticking-to-budget

Anyway, enough about your grandma. So, what are those two budgeting tips? Brace yourselves; they’re life-changing…

media-Steps-tips-for-sticking-to-budget

Step 1: Make a Budget

Step 2: Stick to It!

Tada. So easy. We’re done here.

Seriously. Why do we need to make adulting so hard on ourselves? Life is hard enough. But fine. If you want more on how to make a budget, or on how to save money, check out this blog and use this budget sheet. Otherwise just follow the budgeting tips I so generously gave you. They totally work.

Like I said, easy peasy. Tell your abuelita I said hi and “bendición”.

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Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or overdoing it with the Christmas decorations.

Follow her on…

Twitter: @sarahp726

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726/

 

For more resources on budgeting and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.