Friday, January 29, 2016

5 Things I learned about Marriage from My Grandmother

Last week my grandmother died. I was very close to her, so this is a bittersweet blog dedicated to her. It's bitter because, of course, I miss her terribly. But it's sweet, because I feel blessed to have spent so much time with her growing up. My grandmother taught me a great deal in life. She was married for over 50 years and in that time, I learned a lot about what it takes to have a great marriage, like they did. Whether you're planning your wedding, a newlywed, or already married for some time, here are some great tips for a long and happy marriage: 
1) Humor- More important than anything else, my grandmother always stressed how important it is to laugh in marriage. It helps when you have a partner who makes you laugh, but laughter itself can help lighten the mood in a household when things get tough. I know they had challenges and difficult moments throughout their lives, but somehow they were able to find something humorous about a situation or at least make each other smile. And the smiles and laughter definitely kept their relationship going.
2) Let Little Things Slide- My grandparents worked very hard. They owned a small store, where the two of them worked tirelessly and came home to more work. In all of those years, I never heard my grandmother get upset at my grandfather for doing or not doing something. If he left his coffee cup out, she would wash it and put it away. She never let little things or his quirky habits bother her. It was part of the marriage package and not worth getting upset over in the long run.  
3) Faith- My grandmother had lots of faith. She prayed every day for her family and those around her who needed prayers. She took things she couldn't control, like finances, and sent those worries up to Heaven. She would always say, "you just have to believe, have faith." She felt strongly that G-d would take care of the things she couldn't. That belief kept her worrying to a minimum, which in turn strengthened her marriage.  
4) Compliment- My grandmother knew how important it was to show her love and affection to my grandfather. She would compliment him when she had the chance, even if it was something little. "I like that sweater on you" or "the chicken you cooked is delicious," she would say. And he would reciprocate too. Pointing out those little details in marriage is important for both sides to know they are loved and appreciated.  
5) Space- Both of my grandparents had their roles at home and even so, my grandmother would give my grandfather his space to do things he enjoyed, like gardening, reading, and listening to his music. She allowed him time and space without pressure to get stuff done at home. Each of them having the space to do the things they enjoyed helped them come together to get things done in the end. My grandfather would clean the house weekly, while my grandmother cooked and baked. He would took care of the garbage, she did the laundry. He did the business bills, she payed the household ones. Their work was very equal, as was their down time. I never heard them talk about it, but somehow there was this magic about their partnership. They lived and worked happily side by side each and every day. 
If you're not doing so already and want to better your relationship, try implementing one of these things. If you want to dramatically improve your marriage, try doing all of them. It's hard and we all forget to at times, but I feel like they are little magical relationship tools. Try whipping one of these things out before a disagreement is about to start. Offer a compliment instead or tell your partner to take some time to do XYZ that he enjoys. See what happens and let me know! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Powerball & Your Relationship: How They're Connected

Tonight the Powerball drawing is a record $1.5 billion. I don't usually play the lottery and I know the odds are less then favorable, but I bought a ticket anyway. I bought the ticket because, like most of us, I like to dream. What would I do if I won a ton of money?
I started telling my husband my lottery winning ideas: the house upgrades I'd like to make, that Honeymoon we never took, a dog for our daughter. He told me we didn't need so much money and that he'd give most of it away. Certainly I understand giving a bunch away, but couldn't we fantasize about the fun things we could do with it first? That's when he said some magic words: "We haven't even won the lottery and it's tearing us apart already."
Now, he said that in a funny, humorous way. We were joking about it all and it wasn't really tearing us apart, but it got me to thinking. Big decisions, like what to do with a billion dollars, need to be approached as a couple. It's a great way to check in with each other and make sure you're on the same page. It's true that neither I nor anyone reading this will probably win the lottery, but dreaming about it together can be a relationship builder.
After our initial conversation about our winnings, my husband and I sat down and had a more serious look at what we would do if we didn't have to worry about money. The first thing we both agreed on was to set aside a huge portion for charitable purposes. There are plenty of worthy organizations out there and it forced us to talk about causes important to each of us. We also think it would be fun to play "angel donors" and go to crowdfunding sources and anonymously help the many individuals and families in need.
The next thing we want to do is use it as a teachable moment for our children. Granted they are quite young, but they understand that it costs money to buy things and they can't get everything they want. That said, we know animals are very important to our 4 year old daughter, who very badly wants to adopt a doggie. We don't have the funds for a pet at the moment, but if we did we could show her how donating money can help nurture and save the lives of many animals. Of course, we'd get her a dog or two as well.
Then we talked about work and what we'd really like to do if money wasn't an issue. My husband would pursue his passion for music and further his music non profit and I would focus on my writing, publish, maybe launch a new magazine or website. It made us fully aware that these are goals we can aspire to with or without a billion dollars. 
Talking about winning the lottery helped us learn more about ourselves, our relationship, and what's most important to us. If you haven't done so yet, I encourage you and your partner to sit down and discuss what you would seriously do if you won the lottery. You can even relate it to your wedding planning. If money wasn't an issue, how would your wedding look? What would you do differently? Are you both on the same page? Continue the conversation from there. What did you learn? I'd love to know. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year, New You: Create a Resolution You're Passionate About

Now that 2016 has arrived, I'm sure you already have or are planning on setting up some New Year resolutions. And there are plenty articles out there about creating resolutions and  how to keep them. I've even blogged about it before. But in this post, I want to focus on something else: Passion.
That's right. Instead of thinking about common goals, like losing weight or getting organized, ask yourself what you are passionate about in life. Take a few minutes to reflect on what's most important to you, what you love to do or what you've always wanted to do. Is family your #1 priority, but it's been a little neglected while planning your wedding? Are you passionate about painting? Have you always wanted to learn to dance, but never seemed to find the time? Discover what drives you and make that your resolution for the New Year. It's a great way to kick off the year because if you want something badly enough, you'll be more inclined to go out and get it.
Don't let excuses get in the way either. Sure, you're busy, money is tight, or you might get to it later, but think of how much better you'll feel once you start doing what you love to do. It will make you feel good, which will make you happier and more satisfied in other areas of your life. Plus, you don't have to fulfill these dreams all at once. If you love your family, but lack time to spend with them, pick an hour each week to go out with a different family member. Think of how important they'll feel with the 1:1 time and how good you'll feel keeping the connection going. If you want to paint or dance, but can't afford lessons, watch a video and learn on your own. Grab your partner and learn together or just paint or dance for the fun of it. Make it a habit and have a little fun every night, even if it's for 5 minutes. 
The point is: our New Year's resolutions are often boring, rote,  and typical. Half the time, that's why we never accomplish them. Change the way you live, by changing those resolutions to something that is truly important to you. So, what are you passionate about? I'd love to hear how 2016 will be your best year yet!