With Determination and a Good Plan You Can Reach Your Goals

With Determination and a Good Plan You Can Reach Your Goals

By
Eva Fleming

Leaving the future to chance is not a strategy. I have a relative who lives on the banks of the Jarabacoa River in the Dominican Republic and when his children want to go swimming in the river, he ties a rope around their waist. The river seems calm but it is very unpredictable. He has had to pull that rope on more than one occasion to bring his children back to safety. Life is like a river and our goals are that rope that keep us on the right path in the event of a disaster or when it is difficult for us to get through the waves. Crossing a river without the help of a lifesaver or a rope is not a good idea; nor is it a good idea to proceed without goals, as there is no guarantee that you will reach where you are going.

Imagine a staircase with ten steps. The first step is numbered zero and the highest, or last step, is numbered 10. The top of the stairs represents the best life one can have and the lowest step represents the worst.

This staircase is called the Cantril Ladder and has become a very useful instrument designed by a pioneering psychologist. Social scientists and pollsters have been using this instrument for the past 45 years to determine and measure a person’s expectations. Allow me to use it with you when I ask you to think about your goals.

On which step are you in terms of your educational goals? Are you at the beginning or on the first step, just starting, or are you already on the seventh step and pretty advanced? And your relational goals? If you were going to write out a list of your goals, could you put each one on a step?

Think about each area of ​​your life and determine where you are today and where you are going. In five years, on what step do you want to be on?

Take time to think seriously about your future since learning to establish goals is important. Goals help you to not only set sights on the future (on step # 10), but they also keep you walking forward, climbing up those stairs even if only little by little.

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

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!

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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!

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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.

Love Must Be Intentional

Love Must Be Intentional

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

By
Bill Ferrell

This was my best friend’s philosophy in college. He didn’t have many second dates.

Over the years I have talked with hundreds of couples. Some considering marriage, some newly married, some trying to save a marriage. I have heard many of them say the same thing:

“Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” Really? Why?

Would someone who wants to run a marathon say, “It shouldn’t be so hard to run 26 miles?” Or someone who wants to advance in their career say, “It should not require so much effort?” Or someone who wants to be an author say, “It shouldn’t be so hard to write a book.”

Now, you may think, hey – this isn’t about athletics or career or literature. This is different. This is about love. Love should come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul mates. Good point. It is different. It’s far more difficult.

WE ARE NOT COMPATIBLE

No two individuals are naturally compatible. That is not to say we don’t share anything in common with the ones we love. Of course not. We may have similar educational, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds. We may have similar values and goals and belief systems.

However, every individual is just that. An individual. And even though we share the planet with billions of other people – who we are is unique. Our family of origin, our life experiences, our world view is unique to each person. Which is amazing and very cool and one of the reasons people are so fantastic.

However, our individuality is also why it’s a challenge to “get along.”

We are all born self-centered. We all start with only one “point of reference” – ourselves. It’s the only place we can start. Initially, we can’t be faulted on that because there is no other way to begin life. We don’t know any different. But as we grow up, we learn that there are other people in the world. This understanding actually happens early in life.

As we mature, we realize that we are faced with choices. We can choose to consider only ourselves in the decisions we make and how we live our lives – or we can choose to consider others.

We usually choose self-centeredness. Not because we are bad people. But because that has been our life-orientation from the beginning. And so this has an impact on all our relationships – especially when it comes to marriage.

Author Denis de Rougemont has said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love?” That’s why a good marriage is more painfully difficult to achieve that athletic or career or artistic expertise.

WE DON’T KNOW JACK! OR JILL

Duke University ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has said that we never really know the person whom we marry.

Hauerwas goes on to say that we may think we fully know who we are marrying – but we really don’t. In time he or she will change. We are never the same person after entering marriage. As well, time and life experiences change us: having children, job changes, aging parents, acquiring more income or less income, unforeseen physical issues, and all that comes with growing older.

These – and more – are all in the future. And unless your crystal ball is better than mine – you don’t know what lies ahead. Or the kind of person you will become. Or the kind of person your spouse will become.

There are seeds planted within all of us during our “formative years” that help to shape us. But it will take time and life circumstances for the seeds to grow and blossom. So even if we marry with our eyes wide open, there is so much more to come. These life changes are challenging for all marriages. If you have experienced them – you are not alone. If you have not experienced them – just wait. They will come.

WE NEED TO BE INTENTIONAL

Analysis is good. In fact, it is crucial to solve any problem. But we can get trapped in what is called “paralysis of analysis.” Understanding the problem and even knowing what we must do means squat without ACTION.

To love someone else, to full and completely love them – we must be intentional.

That means that we need to think and plan and DO.

Think. Take time to consider the other person. What do they need? What are they feeling? How is their life experience? This means you need to work (that four-letter word) to understand their world. Don’t try to just read their minds – talk to them. Ask them. Care enough to be students of them.

Plan. Make a plan to love them. This requires you put it into your schedule. If you don’t plan your time – someone else will. That is a fact of life. Work. Friends. Obligations. All these have a plan for your life. You must be proactive to plan or someone else will.

Do it. Plans mean nothing without execution. Good intentions mean nothing without action. Good ideas are dead without execution. Resist being passive. Put your plans of love into action. That is intentionality!

LOVE DOES

Here is a list of some suggestions of what you can do to be intentional:

• Send a text telling them that you are thinking of them or that you love them.
• Call them up – just to talk and say you were thinking of them.
• Plan a date that does not include a movie – but mostly conversation.
• Read a book aloud together. This is engaging and creates more opportunities for conversation.
• Read a book on relationships or marriage.

• Go to a coffee shop and talk. This will get you away from the distractions of home.
• Buy them balloons – just for fun.
• Throw them a surprise party.
• Write them a letter about how much they mean to you.
• Write them a poem. You can always “borrow” from Shakespeare (he wrote a ton of love sonnets), or another poet, or better yet, you can learn how to write a poem here.
• Surprise them with a weekend getaway.
• Ask them questions. And then just listen. Seek to get to know them better:

What were some of your highlights from last year?
What were some of your lows from last year?
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
What are some of your goals?
What are you currently working on that you are excited about?
What are some of your dreams?
How can I help support you right now?
What says, “I love you” to you?

The more we are intentional to nurture love in our relationships – the more we will experience the abundant life-giving relationships that we were created for.

———-

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…

 

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