Posts Tagged ‘focus’

For the “solution driven” individual it can be frustrating to face something you can’t change.

In a long-term relationship, focusing on such areas develops points of contention or disappointment rather quickly. However, that same focus put in the right place can be a vital key to breakthrough and change. The choice, really, is between contention and disappointment or real and significant change. You just have to know where to focus. As it is commonly said, it’s better to go through life with a key than a crowbar.

To get you thinking, here’s a mini-list of things you can’t fix, complete with better targets for your focus:

You can’t fix what’s already happened but you can nurture something beautiful from what you have. Find the good in your spouse in every situation, and find ways to affirm it with your words and acceptance.

You can’t fix a person’s past but you can help them “become” the best version of themselves. You are your spouse’s greatest fan or critic! Encouraging them will inspire much more change than condemnation.

You can’t fix a another’s opinion but you can study your own perspective in the light of their ideas. Be willing to take correction from your spouse, just like you wish they would from you. They understand you better than anyone, so their perspective is valuable to you.

You can’t fix anger in someone else but you can see past it to their wounds. Understand “hurt people hurt people.” In such times look for their hurt instead of reacting to their anger, and you’ll find you can respond to their need instead of distancing yourself with defensiveness.

You can’t fix a spouse’s weakness, but you can lead in improving yourself. It’s your responsibility to love your spouse, and improve yourself, and not the other way around!

You can’t fix what a person gives you, but you can serve them more generously still. You’ll find whatever you give your spouse (eg. encouragement, criticism, time, acts of service, affirmation, silence) your spouse will naturally be inclined to reciprocate. It’s almost guaranteed!

Lovers would do well to put their focus on what they can fix: themselves.


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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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Your life together is a lot like a “team” sports game – as in soccer, football or hockey. In your marriage, don’t think your significant other is on the opposite team as you – you’re on the same side! As a team, it’s up to the both of you to figure out how to move the ball down the field together.

This analogy begs a few questions:

What is the “ball?” We think that the ball is the quality of life you live together. It’s the sum total of your finances, home-life, satisfaction with careers, the way you raise your children, and the way you spend your free time. It’s what you work on together. You can’t talk about it in isolation from each other in the same way you can’t walk away from the ball in a sport and still be meaningfully involved on the field. For, what is the quality of life if one person doesn’t show up, or worse, gives up?

What is your “end goal?” For both of you, what is the one thing, after the careers have been lived and the kids are parenting their own kids, you to want to have accomplished? If you’re in the market for a great, ongoing discussion, this is the basis of one indeed! Start with a list of what that one thing could be, and discuss it from there. Re-word it, narrow the focus, work on a whiteboard together, dream and talk until a single theme or agenda emerges. This is your target.

What’s your “game plan?” It’s up to the two of you to navigate how to win the game. To pass the responsibility of input and activities from one to the other as you move towards the mark. It’s up to the two of you to strategize ways around what holds you back and around that which would, if unchallenged, take the ball in the other direction. Not only that, what are the ways to use the structures and people in your life who want to help you get to your end goal?

Yes, your marriage is like a sports game; it’s up to you to determine the target and play your part. Pursue it together.

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I’ve developed a hobby over the last two winters. Since it is cold most of the winter months here, I’ve caved to my love of running and purchased a gym membership. Although surrounded by a wide variety of interesting machines, over ninety percent of my time at the gym I spend not going anywhere, yet getting completely exhausted. Yes, the dreaded treadmill.

Outside running has the advantages of a changing landscape, non-programmed hills, and the anticipation of arriving at a destination (not to mention the air smells way better, too). Inside running gets you nowhere. Outside, there’s much to enjoy on the journey and the free flow of thought inspired by your surroundings and progress is rewarding in itself. Inside, running seems repetitive and exhausting.

As I was nearing the end of my treadmill run the other day, it dawned on me that the ONLY reason one would run on a treadmill is if they were aware of the unseen benefits: the increased circulation, the increasing fitness of heart and body, and the many and varied benefits of physical exercise. And I can’t forget to mention the increased stamina and enthusiasm you develop for running again outside when the seasons shift. (I can’t wait!)

Treadmill running is exactly like enduring the difficult days, months or seasons in a marriage. Doing the right things, choosing the right attitudes, forgiving repeat offenses – these are the steps and strides of life where there’s no immediate sense of accomplishment or joy in the journey, where the benefits are internal and won’t be realized until the season changes. If you’re in tricky times in your relationship, this is happening NOW.

Interestingly, perhaps unlike other avid outdoor runners, I’ve started to love running on a treadmill. Instead of the landscape, I have numbers to help me see my growth: miles run, calories burned, inclines conquered. These readings reveal what’s going on in the unseen, and my choice to keep going and embrace the workout spurs the numbers higher. Winning the unseen is indeed an invigorating challenge and a joy. What’s more, spring time is coming, and I’ll be ready to pick up where I left off at the end of last fall.

In your marriage, embrace the opportunities to build character in every season. And when it’s a “winter” season for you, keep on “running.” You can even start to enjoy winning the unseen, for you will guarantee a shift in your seasons to something better.

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You might have read our last two posts on Vacation Sex (Making Love Happen and Your Turn) and found yourself wishing things were better between the two of you. Perhaps you’d like to employ the ideas of making specific time for your sexuality together, and taking turns focusing your sexual attention on each other, but things aren’t good and you don’t know how to “get there.”

Please remember this: while the quality of your sex-life is an indicator of the quality of your relationship, it can also be a driving force. That is, your sex-life can help LEAD and CHANGE the quality of your relationship, not just follow along helplessly. (For more on this here check out our post: Sex it Up to Live it Up).

This means, then, that you have more control than you think you do. It means that good things can happen when you reach past the resistance to prioritizing sex and do it anyway.

The best thing for a hurting or fighting family to do is to reach past all the angst and go on holidays anyway, purposing to leave the frustrations aside to reconnect around some fun and closeness. The best for a strained friendship is for the friends to go accomplish something together, face a challenge, go have some fun. They must reach past the struggle in the relationship to find the fuel and impetus to resolve the conflict.

It’s the nature of all relationships that what you focus on gets magnified. Most often, to focus on the fun, or camaraderie, or opportunity, is to magnify the connection to the point that the contention is seen for what it really is.

So reach past the angst. The unforgiveness. The issues. And determine to connect sexually with your spouse regardless of what he or she could’ve or should’ve done or even needs to do.

Purpose to put your frustrations aside for a time. Reach past the struggles in your relationship to find the fuel and impetus to help you resolve your issues. Make some agreed upon rules for your time together: no fighting, no bringing up x-y-z issue, no manipulation – just two lovers enjoying each other in order to bring perspective to everything else they face out there.

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The basis of great sex is the understanding that it is meant to be mutually enjoyed. So in a typical lovemaking evening, with the give and take of the marriage bed, both husband and wife are generously served by their partner and experience climax and a deep connection as a result of sharing this most intimate part of themselves. It’s incredible, isn’t it?

In the natural give and take of a sexual relationship, sometimes the “mutual enjoyment” aspect is more one-sided. He’s been working hard, and she wants to express her appreciation sexually, or she’s really tired and he decides to sexually pamper her. The “mutual” part of things evens out over time.

But in vacation sex mode (click here to see our last post), you can take advantage of one-sided lovemaking. Take turns focusing primarily or exclusively on one spouse.

When was the last time you actually spent time thinking about what would bring the most sexual pleasure to each other?! Planning your sexual times will build anticipation for both of you. When you plan for your spouse’s “turn,” the focus and preparation required by trying something other than the usual will set off a whole stream of ideas and possibilities. Not only that, imagining and anticipating what your turn will be like will build excitement all by itself.

So if you’ve got the date and place already set up for your vacation sex, take the time between now and then to study your mate sexually. How could you make this the most incredible event possible for each other? Do you know what actions, sequences, nuances, atmospheres, etc. work best for your partner? Remember to ask them about it to make sure you’re on the right track.

[One word of caution: Beware of making any plans too elaborate. Chances are, if your plans include anything experimental, the response from your mate may not be what you expect. Remember that the focus of a vacation sex getaway is to serve your mate sexually. If that means what you originally planned isn’t working as well as you thought it would, be willing to change in the moment without worrying about your “plans.”]

Take some time this fall for vacation sex; sex that makes you look forward to your turn.

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It’s the middle of a busy fall season. Are you finding the pace of your schedule interfering with your love life?

Your sexuality may need you to take some time away, just like your family does, your work and hobbies might, and your friends probably do. Taking time away means away from one thing and dedicated to another. A family holiday is based on taking time away from work, and spending it on family. A weekend trip with a friend is time taken away from daily routines, dedicated to the enjoyment of friendship. Likewise, a staff retreat is time taken away from the mundane to-do lists to see the bigger picture afresh.

Vacation sex is time taken away from all the other distractions to rediscover the thrill of the gift of intimacy. It’s setting time aside to make love happen.

Sexuality thrives on time and attention. So often it makes do with our left-over time and energy. It’s the after-thought after all the other thoughts! But just a little focused energy and attention can go a looooooong way with sexuality.

Imagine the heights of closeness and pleasure you could accomplish with some concerted energy and dedicated time. Just as other roles in your life (kids, spirituality, hobbies) can bring great joy and satisfaction when given the attention and focus they deserve, so it is with sex.

So here’s the challenge: Take a day, a weekend, a 2-hour spot, whatever you can arrange, in order to get away from everything else that clamours for your attention to dedicate to sexual enjoyment with the person you pledged the rest of your life to bring pleasure to.

Make a sex vacation a reality this fall, or maybe a special Christmas present for the holiday season. When’s the last time you made love like this happen? We’re almost sure you’ll want this to develop into a yearly tradition!

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