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Archive for the ‘About CoupleThings’ Category

Sometimes we don’t realize it, but what drives the success of a happily dating couple is the tension between who they are as individuals and what they share of themselves. Their lives are characterized by the movement from what’s unknown about each other to what’s becoming known, from what has been discovered to what’s about to be.

When a relationship is new, there is much more focus on learning more about the other person. However as it matures, focus is also required on the development of who you are becoming as an individual.

A common mistake is to stop focusing on the discovery of yourself and your spouse over time. You’ve seen those couples that seem so disinterested in each other – he certainly isn’t getting any admiration from her, and his affections aren’t towards her either. It’s sad and so opposite from how they likely began: in love with the discovery of each other. At some point they stopped discovering each other, or stopped developing who they were becoming as individuals. Sometimes both.

We’re sure you’ve seen couples that have been married for quite a while and yet are still madly in love too. You’ve seen the evident love and zeal they have for each other and you’ve wondered what they did to make love last.

Under the surface of such a love you will find that they allow each other space for and celebrate self-discovery, and they continue to learn more and more of who it is that they’re with – in every season of life, and in the light of the challenges and opportunities they face together.

Both man and woman, if they want their love to last, must take responsibility for and intentionally focus on this discovery. If they do, the same emotion and adventure that drives a new relationship will characterize theirs as well – only with the added treasure of the trust and safety of a more mature relationship.

How could you show more interest in your mate? Do you need to develop yourself more or allow room in life for them to “become” more of who they are? How is this tension is playing out in your relationship? We invite your comments below.

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We had an interest in writing about marriage, so we decided to start. Now we’ve been writing posts for “creating and keeping the best love, romance and marriage” for a whole year! Thanks for reading and for your queries, and for your comments of support. It’s been a wonderful journey, and so we thought we’d share with you some of the things we’ve learned along the way.

1. THE greatest thing we’ve ever done for our marriage is give away what marriage wisdom we have. We find this to be true whenever we do pre-marriage coaching for a couple, and perhaps even more so as we put our heads together for the creation of this blog. In fact, it can be a great marriage boost for you too. We’ve blogged about you getting out there and doing this in our post, Spreading the Jam.

2. There is an INCREDIBLE community online that informs, encourages and stands in support of marriages and what they’re meant to be. We had no idea of the degree that this was available until we began to introduce our blog. Perhaps you don’t either, but there are compassionate, motivated people who will support you in your quest for a great(er) marriage with their content and interaction. You’re not alone. For starters, check out this year’s 10 Top Marriage Blogs by Stu Gray.

3. SEX is a powerful word online. We have a post titled, Sex it Up to Live it Up, which is our most read article by a long shot. We hope that those searching online for something about sex find wholesome material and advice, and we want to be a part of that resource. An online friend who has done this as an almost exclusive focus provides leadership for the site The Marriage Bed. SEX, by the way, is also a powerful driver of success in a relationship, which is what our article above is all about.

4. It’s easier to read and retweet about marriage than it is to ACT. Knowing what to do is not the problem people face. However, applying what you know to your situation and doing it is. We Dare You to Move. Another thing: people who need help in their relationships comment with criticism on the very posts that hold the truth that would help them! It sounds strange, but we know this dynamic can be very hard to see in the mirror.

These are four things that we now know. They call out loud and clear to us from our first year of blogging. More than anything we want to thank you again for reading our blog. It’s been your interest that has kept us writing.

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In our CoupleThings coaching we say that it just takes two things done consistently over time to make a love relationship keep getting better. The first of these commitments is the promise and practice of honouring your spouse. We wrote about this commitment last week here, and here. And for those wondering if their spouse isn’t worthy of honour, here.

The second commitment that makes up the “couple things” that make marriage great is a commitment to “increase.” By that we mean to become better at being who you are. It’s the promise and continual practice of becoming the best version of yourself possible.

When a man makes this commitment to personal development and follows though, it brings tremendous security to his bride. No woman expects to have a perfect man, but happy is the woman who doesn’t feel she is responsible to make him closer to it! Isn’t she worthy to have her very identity rest in a man who is all about becoming the best version of himself? That is meaningful security to her.

When a woman makes this commitment to personal development and follows through, it brings a sense of accomplishment and pride to her husband. A man’s identity also becomes wrapped up in who he is with, and to have someone who makes him look great and feel great adds powerfully to his own sense of competence. That’s meaningful success to him.

More posts on the effects of this commitment on a marriage will come later this week, but know this: if you and I will be vocal and accountable to the promise and practice of becoming the best versions of ourselves it relieves our spouses from all kinds of fear and stress. And the need to manipulate. Or nag. Not to mention the tendency to try to find security or success in some other place.

Become the best version of yourself for their sake… and yours.

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CoupleThingsBlog is all about the “couple things” that make a marriage great. The first of those things is a commitment to honour each other. It sounds simplistic but honour is the one characteristic that defines the start of a love relationship, and it’s the one characteristic of those with vibrant, happy marriages years later.

To honour is to put your spouse in first place. It’s to put their deal ahead of yours time and time again and in a myriad of ways. It’s doing this in a way that they notice and continue to notice, which means it’s a continual development of how you treat them. To honour each other in marriage is the adventure of seeking out fresh and powerful ways to serve your spouse’s interests over your own.

Honour existed in abundance at the beginning of your relationship as you placed each other first in your thoughts, actions, the way you presented yourself, and the treatment you gave them in private as well as public. In marriages that continue to get greater over the years, you can see honour still characterizing each other’s behaviours: the vehicle door he opened even though it’s raining and the smile she flashes in him in return, the standing up for him when he’s posed an uncomfortable question at a party, the making of his favourite meal with love and care, or the vocal appreciation of her beauty and abilities.

Think of honour as preferential treatment. You decide to do it, warranted or not, and in that choosing is untold nurturing power for your love together.

How do you do it? Think, how would I treat a celebrity, or politician, or inventor, or someone who is worthy of great respect in my home? Ask yourself, isn’t this person I married, the one who gave me their heart, worthy of the same? How have you taken him/her for granted? Start there.

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Your marriage is going somewhere to happen! Question is, where is that?

[Aside: At CoupleThings we operate from the basis of 4 core beliefs. These belief-statements are a nutshell version of what we believe about love and marriage. (Find them here.) In an earlier post we dealt with our 1st of those beliefs (See post here: Better Forever) and now, here are some thoughts on the second, which is:

“To do things right in a relationship the first time is the best time. It’s far greater than damage control, and playing catch up later. Make your early years together a great foundation.”]

We’ve found that a relationship has much to do with momentum. It’s always moving, developing, “going somewhere to happen,” and it’s doing so in a certain direction. Even when your relationship feels like a cycle, it’s really a spiral – going up or down towards somewhere. This direction of our relationship is a function of our choices and actions.

Don’t confuse this with your hopes of where you would like your relationship to be, or your dreams of marriage bliss, or even your intentions to get somewhere good in your love-life. Rather, know this: momentum and where that takes you is determined solely by choices and actions.

It amazes me that we have more instructions given to us when we buy a new toaster than we do when we buy a marriage license! The overriding assumption seems to be that love and marriage are natural states that should evolve and be perfect. And if they’re not, “I guess we weren’t meant to be…”

But a relationship is far more like building a house in that you need a solid foundation, or like learning a sport where you need coaching to be really great, or like growing a garden where a few insights from the experts go a long way. To build a foundation well the first time, to learn the right technique in a sport, and to treat a delicate plant correctly THE FIRST TIME is clearly the best time. So too, in a relationship – to handle it right, from the start, is the best way to go.

I knew a woman in her seventies, who, looking back on a long life that had included a divorce, said to me, “If we had known how to communicate, and build a relationship, or what to do when things weren’t going well, we would have made it. The problem is we never knew.”

Today the problem in our relationships is not lack or availability of information and know-how, but rather the follow-through to apply it. The issue then is only one of desire, for the information, the to-do’s of successful relationships is readily available.

We can do things correctly early on in our relationship. We can put actions and choices behind our desire for a successful marriage. Let’s not wait until we need help because we are on the brink of crisis, but rather get input, ideas, and wisdom now.

Make your relationship go somewhere great by steering it towards there starting now.

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You’re strolling through the park pushing your crying baby along, attempting to settle him down. You’re tired and hungry.  You bet his diaper needs changing.  Your man is at home, watching the game and snacking – he said he was too tired for the walk, and hungry. You wondered if you should offer to change his diaper too.
 
It’s then that you see them sitting off to the side of the path staring deeply into each other’s eyes, about to enjoy sweet kisses.  His hand cups her face and you can tell she’s completely enraptured in the moment, believing, feeling, knowing that THIS is true love and it will last forever.
 
You restrain yourself, but you want to walk up to them and say what has been said about young love from time immemorial: “Just you wait, this won’t last. Fast forward five years and reality will hit you like a truck and you’ll…”  
…they will what?  What is the belief here? “…find out love doesn’t last?” “…end up like us?”
 
On our FB Page and under the “About Us” tab on our blog, we make 4 statements that hightlight the basis of what we believe about love and relationships.  Number One is this: “Love relationships are designed to improve continually in every area. Therefore, you can make yours better and better, …for as long as you both shall live”. 
 
This conviction comes from our belief that God invented love to grow and last a lifetime. Or maybe we just wanted to disprove the people who talked about us saying, “Oh, just wait, give them a few years, they’ll settle down.” So we refused to give place to the notion that love-relationships are doomed to move from hot to cold, from exciting to boring, and from an all-encompassing to a problematic part of your life.
 
We believe, and it’s been our story now since 1994, that a relationship doesn’t have to plateau, or dwindle into a tolerated part of your life. Rather, we believe that within a commited relationship are all the necessary ingredients for a life-time of increasing intimacy and excitement for each other. 
Within such a commitment is the capability to break through barriers that seem to indicate a dead end in the journey of love. Therefore, every plateau turns into a runway, every STOP sign becomes a pause to consider how to proceed (not turn around), and every challenge faced becomes an opportunity for greater understanding and closeness.
 
It can work for more people than just us. We have discovered this journey of what we call “continual improvement” begins with a change of belief. Changing your mind from settling for less to expecting more. If you felt love and excitement once, then all the ingredients are still there, and you can make it happen again, increasingly so, forever. 
 
Consider this: You committed “for better or for worse.”  The “better” part isn’t meant to be the first few honeymoon years, and then you settle down for the “worse.”  No the “better” is the long-term, continually deepening intimacy. The increasing. 
 
Believing that your “better” is still down the road is the first step to a marriage that’s a much better walk in the park.   

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