Saturday, November 19, 2016

Family Work

Eew, that's almost a dirty phrase isn't it? It's so much easier to just wash and fold the laundry yourself. And Heaven forbid you let the little guys put away their own laundry! They get them in the wrong drawers, they unfold them, half of the clothes end up back in the laundry a few hours later!!!

Sometimes even shopping can be a chore!

Did you know that housework is also a major source of contention between the sexes? One study found that six months into marriage house hold chores and the disagreement over who should do them was the top source of conflict between husband and wife... and it remained that way even after five years!!!

So why? WHY should we teach our kids to work. Isn't it better to throw on Paw Patrol for the tiny's while you scrub the floor and the dishes? Heck, it's even easier to hire a babysitter or EVEN BETTER hire someone to do the work for you. Ya, I like that idea.

And yet, I still give my kids chores. I still teach them to sweep, mop, scrub toilets, make their own beds, change diapers, do dishes, help with dinner, babysit, and tidy. Why am I torturing myself like this?

Here's why. In today's society we believe that an ideal life is work free. This idea conflicts with what we learn in the scriptures.The Lord cursed the ground in Adam and Eve's day so that they would have to fight thorns and thistles which would cause the new couple to labor "for [their own] sake." He wanted them to have to work, to til the land, to find and provide food.



Family work also provides endless opportunities for us to find and fill our other family members needs!

SERVICE = LOVE

It's also true that when we work together as a family we build stronger bonds. Scrubbing pots with your sister while chatting about your days can bring you closer together (unless one of them hides in the bathroom until the scrubbing is done). My kids may not admit this to you, but when I ask them what their favorite part of the day is, their answers are often "Scrubbing the floor with the family", "making dinner with Mommy", "Helping Daddy move boxes", "Helping Daddy at the dump", etc.




Here are pictures of Liam and Ezra washing, peeling, and cooking the potatoes for our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. What's really cool about these potatoes is that Ezra grew them himself, with love, from our backyard to our kitchen table. I love it.

Even the babies love to help... especially when we're baking and they get to lick the cake batter of the beaters!

Now, family work isn't all roses, as I mentioned before. W have a complainer or two in our home and while that whining is super annoying in the short term, that child is growing character and building relationships. Family work allows us to rely on divine attributes that we are trying to develop such as love, mercy, patience, submissiveness, and a willingness to sacrifice for others.

President Thomas S. Monson said, "Mothers, share household duties. It is often easier to do everything yourself than to persuade your children to help, but it is so essential for them to learn the importance of ding their share".

Small tasks allow small kids to help as well. Hand a child a duster, teach them to fold wash cloths, scrub walls, put the silverware away, etc. There are so many little things that need to get done, there should be something fitting for each child. Insisting that children help when they would rather no is a way of telling them that they are needed, and essential in making the family function.

So, that's why our family works together. If you walk by on the right day you might even see my boys beating bathroom mats with a broom to get the dust out, or pulling weeds. And of course you may even see a couple cuties in princess aprons!


Saturday, November 12, 2016

When to stick it out...

Divorce is happening all around us, it's even happening in my little LDS town. In fact, one estimate is that 25-30% of LDS couples who regularly attend church experience a divorce.

President James E. Faust spoke of divorce and said that he believed that there are definitely cases that a divorce or separation should occur.

He says, "In my opinion, "just cause" should be nothing less serious than a prolonged and apparently irredeemable relationship with is destructive of a person's dignity as a human being.

At the same time, I have strong feelings about what is not provocation for breaking the sacred covenants of marriage. Surely it is not simply "mental distress" nor "personality differences," nor "having grown apart," nor "having fallen out of love." This is especially so where there are children."

There are three major things that President Faust mentioned that are good reason for divorce:
Prolonged Problems - meaning that the couple has had these problems for quite a long time. It is not a hasty decision that has been made.
Irredeemable relationship - which means that they have tried and failed to reconcile differences. This may even mean separating for a time, while one spouse works through the problems on their own, and
Destruction of Human Dignity - if your spouse continues to cheat on you, apologize, cheat, apologize, and cheat again that is wearing. If a spouse is abusive you begin to believe that you are less than you really are. These are good reasons to look at getting out.

Marriage professionals believe that the decision to divorce should not be a quick decision. They encourage couples contemplating divorce to do everything in their power to correct the problems, including dumping the computer in the garbage if internet pornography is a problem, seeking marital counseling, or even moving if needed.

Marriage is hard, separation is hard, divorce is hard. While many children who experience a divorce are resilient they are still at about twice the risk for various social and emotional problems than kids who don't experience a divorce.

It has been said that for a young child, psychologically, "divorce is the equivalent of lifting a hundred-pound weight over the head." There is so much to process, so much change. However, when a child is witness to ongoing, high levels of marital conflict it can be even more damaging and in those cases it may be better off for the child if the parents do divorce. If a divorce really is the best thing it is highly recommended that the parents try to change as little as possible, meaning don't move the kids away from their homes or schools, try to keep as much as possible the same. Especially important is that both parents continue strong relationships with the children.

Prayer in Marriage

"When people perceive something as sacred, it changes the way they treat it."

Wow. So now, if I apply this to my marriage and believe that my marriage is sacred, then I should, in principle, treat it as such.

A wedding ring in the secular world shows commitment, whereas a sanctified view of the wedding ring could symbolize an eternal union between man and wife.

So, how do we get on board with sanctifying our marriages? I mentioned once before Elder Bednar's talk on our marriages being a triangle between man, woman, and God.
It's that simple, a major key to viewing your marriage as sacred is to include God as a member of the relationship. How can we do that? Prayer. President Thomas S. Monson's temple sealer told him, "I can assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray. You simply can't pray together and retain any but the best of feeling toward one another."

Now, unfortunately there are ways that you shouldn't pray together too. For example, Hubby shouldn't offer a couple prayer (together) that says, "Please bless Dear Wifey to get her head out of her butt and see things my way," and Wifey shouldn't offer a prayer that says, "Please God, let Hubby stop being such a ding bat and do his own laundry once in a while.

An awesome approach would be to do the opposite and instead Hubby says, "I am so grateful for Dear Wifey and appreciate that she spent the time making my lunch. I really notice and love those special touches," and Wifey could say, "I'm so grateful that Hubby is such a good provider and protector. I'm thankful that you gave me someone who loves to serve his family."

Another approach would be for Wifey to pray that God will help her understand Hubby's feelings, and even that she might be able to see him as God does, and vice versa. 

Another good time to pray is in the middle or at the beginning of a fight. Again, don't use words that would be offensive to your spouse, but pray for understanding and peace. Studies find that prayer helps couples to keep their anger in check during conflict and that it alleviates tension and helps facilitate open communication. 

God views our marriages as sacred, and we really should too. He has given us an open line of communication and He wants our marriages to succeed. Happy praying.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Parenting with the Gospel

The proclamation gives a fantastic and substantial list of principles and way parents should seek to establish a happy and successful family. It suggests that significant teaching is necessary to bring about the positive outcomes that each parent desires for their children. The gospel helps us to find the behaviors we want to teach and shares how to teach them.



While kids can be very influenced by their peers, they can been even more influenced by their parents. An example of this is that when parents teach their kids to avoid drugs they are less likely to use drugs, even when their best friends abuse drugs! My textbook teaches that better parenting by mothers alone leads to a reduction in deviant behavior in their sons. This boost actually leads to better relationships between mom and son.

This is recommended reading for parents who want a to have a better relationship with their kids than their children's peers have with them.


As parents we should heed Brigham Young's counsel to "study our children's dispositions and temperament, and deal with them accordingly." We have the opportunity to help our kids develop the positive traits we desire for them and to help them overcome undesirable tendencies.

When we are close to each of our children the Lord will bless us with "a spiritual early warning system" which helps us as parents sense problems that may be emerging. When this happens we need to prayerfully ask for help and use deliberate intervention methods.

Latter Day prophets have counseled against the use of physical punishment with children. It is suggested that "infrequent, non abusive spanking, in the context of an otherwise warm and responsive relationship, may not cause lasting harm, but it is not likely to be a teaching moment." I have spanked my children in the past and have found this to be true. It really doesn't seem to be effective in anything except straining the relationship of myself and my child. I went to a class on parenting boys that advised that they need to be spanked to learn. The teacher suggested that girls learn differently and don't need spankings, but boys need that pain to remember lessons. Well, they remember that mom spanked them, but the bad behavior seems to be repeated. With my boys I find that explaining why it's not an appropriate behavior and coming up with different ways to deal with it are better at deterring the bad behavior in the future.

Now, what if you are not a "bubbly" or lovely mother? Are you doomed? Nope, my favorite part of Chapter 11 says, "Parents need not despair if they do not feel that they are the perfect balance of being both responsive and demanding in their parenting approach. A parent who is not "bubbly" in his or her expression of warmth, yet is appropriately demanding, can do well in child rearing, so long as that parent provides sufficient amounts of warmth so that eh child feels adequately accepted and not rejected."

To teach our kids it is suggested that we have regular family home evenings where we teach correct principles; have scripture study as the family, engage in family prayer, and participate in wholesome family activities. Create traditions for your family at holiday's and throughout the days of the week. These are the things that pull families closer together.

Fun Tradition: He who can stay in the near freezing Waterton Lake the longest wins.... Bill wins every year. He must not have feeling in his feet! (He's holding Rosena in this picture. She lasted about 3 seconds!) Hyrum lasted almost 30 seconds.

Fun tradition: Trampoline Stargazing. He who stays awake the longest wins! Bill lost!

Fun tradition: Thanksgiving Family Home Evening with the Reeve's. We sang songs, shared talents, and ate amazing food.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Motherhood

The calling of motherhood has been identified as the most ennobling endowment God could give His daughter, "as divinely called, as eternal important in its place as the priesthood itself." (J. Reuben Clark Jr).

President Spencer W. Kimball said, "Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord's spirit children, and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments."

This was a few years ago. From Left to right, 
top row - Mosiah, Kym (that's me, the mom), Liam. 
Bottom row - Hyrum, Obi, Ezra.

My mother Joan, who adopted me at birth has been an angel in my life. A blessing from Heaven. Mom's have it rough, making rules, enforcing rules, and still being someone you can run too when you need help. She has been my shoulder to cry on. She taught me right from wrong. She taught me to pray to God for help, to attend the temple, to love others, to love children, to fight for right.... the list goes on and on. Mom has been there physically for most of my babies as well as spiritually for the ones that came when she wasn't there. She's watched my own kids in times of need and has been an amazing grandmother. I will always be grateful for the love and protection and the spiritual guidance she has given me. I will always look up to her because of her sacrifices as a mother, giving of herself freely to raise five children through adoption as her own and loving and serving as best she could.

This is my mom and I at Jedi's birth. 

I am a pretty lucky girl. As a baby my biological mother gave me up for adoption. Her choice was one made out of love for me, for my parents, and for herself. I will never, ever, be ungrateful for her choice. In fact, I will always be the opposite... extremely grateful for her choice. Because of her choice I have so many more sweet people in my life. From Arlene I have learned that sometimes the hardest choice is the best choice. I cannot imagine having to do what she did as a teenage girl. By the grace of God we have been reunited and I am blessed to call her whole family my own. Their family comes for special occasions such as baptisms, Grandpa/Grandson camp outs, Christmas, and just for fun.

This is Arlene, myself, Liam at around 6 months old, and Mattea, (Arlene's daughter and my littlest sister). This was our first meeting since she gave me to my parents at birth. What an incredible reunion.

Another special mother in my life is my sweet husband Bill's mother. She raised him right. He is tender and loving with our children and with me. He brings the light of the Lord into our home and blesses us with his Priesthood.

Marion is an example of who you should strive to be spiritually. Her testimony of the gospel is strong. Her love for her children is set in stone. She is the best visiting teacher on the planet, blessing the lives of women wherever she goes. Her laugh is so infectious and her excitement rubs off on all. There are certain movies I will only watch if she is watching, because she just makes them funnier.

Marion with her children.

So, with all these great examples I must be the best mother in the world, right? Well, no. Not really. I strive to be. I love my little's with all my heart and try to teach them to love the Lord and do what's right, but we all make mistakes.

As a boost for us mothers I will share some advice from my text book:

"A mothers private religious behaviors were a more significant influence on the quality of her parenting than the family's religious behaviors. Mothers who spent more time in these activities were more likely to feel close to their children and to be effective in providing warmth, love, and support, while setting clear and appropriate boundaries and expectations. They were also less likely to resort to physical coercion, verbal hostility, unreasonable punishing, indulgence, or psychological control - all unhealthy patterns of discipline in parenting. These findings suggest that humbly seeking for the Savior's influence and help enables us to become the kinds of mothers we desire to become" (Behling, 2010. Pg 136). So, fasting, personal prayer, scripture study, study of other religious materials, and thinking about religion are the suggestions here.

This picture includes friends and family at Ezra's baptism and Rosena's baby blessing. My three special mom's were all together and of course a special shout out to my Grandmother who raised an amazing son who is my own father. 

Mom's are awesome!

Parenting with Love, Limits, and Latitude

This is us at the Salt Lake Temple. We were visiting for Bill 
and I's nephew's wedding to his sweet bride.

As I mentioned before, the Lord wants our marriages and family relationships to succeed. In fact, he gives us awesome resources, like the Proclamation to the World as guides for us. He also gives commandments, principles, and examples in our scriptures with the counsel of prophets and apostles today to help as well.

Our challenge as parents is to apply these principles from inspired sources into our family circumstances as we meet our kid's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Parenting is not easy. Some kids are harder to rear than others, maybe due to genetics, maybe inherent personality characteristics, and possibly due to spiritual personality and predispositions. So, even though a child came from the same two parents and are raised like every other child in the home, children may need different parenting techniques because of their natures.

Important Principles reiterate that we are to "rear our children in love and righteousness" first and foremost.

Although each child may need different implementations and approaches, here is a list of crucial elements each child needs (taken from Chapter 10 of my text book):

  • Love, warmth, and support
  • Clear and reasonable expectations fro competent behavior
  • Limits and boundaries with some room for negotiation and compromise
  • Reasoning and developmentally appropriate consequences and punishments for breaching established limits
  • Opportunities to perform competently and make choices
  • Absence of coercive, hostile forms of discipline, such as harsh physical punishment, love withdrawal, shaming, and inflict guilt
  • Models of appropriate behavior consistent with self-control, positive values, and positive attitudes

Three kinds of parenting discussed in my book are coercive parenting, permissive parenting, and authoritative parenting.

Coercive parenting is characterized by parents who coerce, deride, demean, diminish, put down, mock, and/or hold power over their children. Hostility is shown through spanking, yelling, criticizing, name calling, and forcing. This leads to anti-social behavior, withdrawn children, and delinquent behaviors.

Coercive parenting doesn't even have to be that extreme, it's basically just using negative force to get the action you're looking for. Often coercive parenting is used because, well, it works. When you threaten your 6 year old to "knock it off" with a waving hand indicating that he'll get a spanking if he doesn't, he usually knocks it right off. However, this leads to poorer relationships in the future.

Permissive parenting is characterized by parents who overindulge their children, or who just leave them to do their own thing. This is shirking our sacred parental duties and leads to children who don't or can't follow orders. Social science shows "that children raised by permissive parents may have greater difficulty respecting others, coping with frustration, delaying gratification for a great goal, and following through with plans" (pg. 107).

Authoritative parenting provides a positive emotional connects, provides regulation that is fair and consistent, and allows for reasonable decision making for the child's self. Some kids may need more limits, some may need more latitude (or autonomy). This style consists of three well-defined and researched characteristics: connection (love), regulation (limits), and latitude (autonomy).

Love


Daddy and Jedi

President Hinkley said, "Every child is entitled to grow up in  a home where there is warm and secure companionship, where there is love in the family relationship, where appreciation one for another is taught and exemplified, and where God is acknowledged and His peace and blessings invoked before the family altar."

Daddy and Rosie at our mini Moroni's Quest.

Children should be treated with kindness instead of annoyance. Compassion should reign over sarcasm. Be friends with your kids. Listen to them. Talk to them. Laugh and joke. Sing. Play. Cry with them. Hug them. Praise them. Spend one-on-one time with each child.

Limits

Finding ways to help our kids learn and grow with out coercing them is one of the most challenging parts of authoritative parenting. Parents should be clear and firm about rules but should proactively explain why the rules are set. Corrective measures should be promptly applied when children do not abide by the rules.

(Here Jedi is sitting on my lap during a Pow Wow at our park. He knows that if he runs off he will get lost. He was very patient and was rewarded with play time at the new playground.) 
Rules help keep our children safe.

Kids should know the rules and the consequences. Such as, "Do not leave your toys on the floor. If you do Mommy will put them up on the shelf for several days." Or, if a teenager breaks curfew maybe their use of the family vehicle is suspended.

Latitude

Kids really benefit from learning how to make appropriate choices. Giving kids the chance to make their choices that will benefit both the child and parent is a great way to achieve this. For example, letting your child choose whether they will brush their teeth or put their pajama's on first, letting them choose what kind of cereal they want, letting them choose what kind of fruit they want, etc.

Motivating our children to want to do the right thing rather than forcing them to do it is away to build relationships and build responsible people. If we explain patiently why we think something isn't right or is not a good choice we give our children the knowledge to make the right decision if they so choose.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Meeting, Dating, and Choosing an Eternal Companion

Last week we discussed, "should we get married." We decided, hmmm, yup. This week I'/m going to share the ABC's of successful romantic relationship development!

Actually, it's the ABCDE's...

A. Awareness of or Acquaintance with another person
B. Buildup of the relationship
C. Continuation following Commitment to a long-term relationship (which may result in marriage for many couples)
D. Deterioration or Decline in the interdependence of the couple
E. Ending of the relationship

(This list was taken from my text book "Successful Marriages and Families", chapter 2.

Now, not every relationship goes through all five steps. For example, eternal marriage would end (or continue) at C.

When my husband was a school teacher he explained to a class of eighth grade girls, who were distraught over the breakup of the "ultimate couple" in their class, the outcomes of dating. After a big lead in and lots of diagrams and writing on the board he drew the conclusion.... "Jr. High relationships will end up in either A) a breakup or B) marriage!" The girls thought about that hard. Then Bill asked Paige, the girl who just suffered her heart break, "So, did you want to marry David?" She responded with, "Ew, no way!" And then Bill pointed out that because of that their relationship was doomed to break up anyway. The girls all got over the disappointment at that point and were able to move on with their days.

Which brings us to D and E, yes some relationships are going to end. Some relationships don't even make it into the acquaintance phase and some go straight to the E phase. A relationship can end in any phase, and really, most should! Sometimes couples go back a phase to fix a problem.

Now, on to the good stuff....

A -


The awareness and acquaintance phase seems to start off with appraisal of attraction as a first step. There is nothing wrong with being attracted to teh person you want to be with. In fact, Elder Bruce R. McConkie suggested that, "the right person [for you to marry] is someone for whom the natural and wholesome and normal affection that should exist does exist." Now, although it's necessary, it isn't the most important factor.

Once I dated a guy purely for his looks. He was an RM and could sing as well, which were good qualities. He was dreamy to look at, girls literally swooned when he walked by. I dated him for a few months and found that he was a complete jerk. Her treated me and most of his friends like inferior beings. I decided to stick with him because... "Well.... look at him.....". Not a great move on my part. The relationship ended in heartbreak for me when I needed his help and he bailed, leaving me to move a whole apartment full of furniture without his support. It was not a pretty breakup and we did not remain friends. That being said, our break up was the best thing that could have happened. It turns out pretty boys who are jerks are still jerks, and they just aren't worth your time!

So, what else should you look for? Here is a list given by Elder Richard G. Scott:

  • Temple worthiness
  • Someone who loves the Lord
  • A Commandment keeper
  • Someone who is understanding
  • Forgiving
  • Willing to give of self
  • Desire to have a family
  • Wants kids
  • Committed to teaching their family the principles of truth

B -



The First Presidency recommends skipping over the "hanging out phase" that seems to be plaguing young adults today. Instead they recommend dating, which means a planned date, where couples are paired off, and the man pays (Dallin H. Oaks). This is the kind of thing that will lead you to the Buildup phase.

Seeking mutual influence means the desire to have an "equal" relationship in which both partners contribute fully to all aspects of the relationship. These relationships are hard, if not impossible when a relationships starts out as physical.

Developing mature love leads to success in marriage and family life while immature love does not easily lead to these successes. Elder Marvin J. Ashton said, "True love is a process. True love requires personal action. Love must be continuing to be real. Love takes time. Too often expediency, infatuation, stimulation, persuasion, or lust are mistaken for love. How hollow, how empty if our love is no deeper than the arousal of momentary feeling or the expression in words of what is no more lasting than the time it takes o speak them."

C -

These are my sweet friends Stuart and Tina who went through the first 3 stages (ABC) and made it to Eternal Marriage. This is their reception after their temple marriage. I just love these guys!

Moving from the buildup phase to the commitment phase requires questions like, "Do I know enough about my partner? Do I like what I know about them? How well do we communicate?" These questions lead to that mature love I mentioned earlier.

If we are obeying the Lord's commandments and keeping ourselves clean we are entitled to His help in making the decision to commit to someone. When we ask the Lord if we should commit to a person forever it is sometimes hard to discern the answer. It is suggested that you make the decision and then go to the Lord with it for approval. Rather than, "Lord, I want you to tell me if I should marry Bartholemew",..."Lord, I want to marry Bartholemew and I'm going to accept his proposal. Do you approve?" might work better.

The Lord loves us and wants our marriages and family relationships to work even more than we do. We can lean on him for love and support.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Should you get married?

Last week I gave you some awesome foundational information on how to have a rocking marriage. This week I want to share some cool stats and facts with you.

(If you have not seen Kid History #4... it's a must see. )

Married adults are healthier than their non-married counterparts.
Married adults have lower rates of morbidity and mortality.
Married adults health benefits persist regardless of race, income, and health status prior to marriage.
Marital status at age 48 can predict chances of surviving to age 65.
Older married people are significantly healthier and have fewer physical limitations in life than their non-married friends.
Married people recover better from illness and surgery.
Married people are generally happier.
Married people have greater life satisfaction.
Married people have lower risk for depression.
Married people have greater economic stability.
Married people have better mental health.
When young adults married they experience an immediate decrease in depressive symptoms.
Marriage reduces the risk of mental disorders.
Married men have lower risks of depression and panic disorder.
Married women have a lower risk of substance abuse.
Married people have higher levels of social integration and emotional support.
Kids who grow up in a healthy marriage will also grow to be healthy. 

By the way, I am not posting here the reference for all these stats but I have them if you want. Let me know.

So, why did I share all these facts? As I mentioned before Satan is trying to tear down marriage. He wants to chew it up and spit it out. He ruined his chances of every getting married or reproducing and it just makes him so angry that we get to do that. So, he attacks the family. Media makes families look wasteful. Media makes marriages look like GAME OVER. Here's an example of what people find funny and share on their Facebook walls.


Marriage does not have to be this way! Clearly, as stated above, it isn't this way. You can make your marriage whatever you want it to be. Plus, according to Dr. Gottman,

"Comical as it may sound, romance actually grows when a couple are in a supermarket and the wife says, 'are we out of bleach?' and the husband says, 'I don't know. Let me go get some just in case,' instead of shrugging apathetically."

So husbands, take you wives grocery shopping and help out! Make your wives swoon!

(shared from Twitter)

So here's a question: Does marriage in and of itself actually cause these good things mentioned above or do people who are already healthy mentally and physically tend to get married more than others?

Answer: Both. While happier and healthier people are more likely to get and stay married they also increase in their health and happiness after marriage. Those who are married eventually drop addictions and take on healthier behavior to benefit their marriages.

(Here's us on our 14th wedding anniversary at WEM with the kids)

So, for those of you considering whether or not you want to deal with "a ball and chain" or "baggage" or "someone else's problems", the truth is, marriage is only that if you make it. If you go into it with the right attitude and the will to work through the rough stuff your marriage can actually be bliss. Bliss, pure happiness, what's better?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Want an enduring, healthy marriage?

Bill and I have been married for 14 years now, we just had our anniversary on September 16th. We are best friends, we love and respect each other. We love our marriage and we even love other people's marriages. Does that mean our marriage is perfect? No. We have things we need to work on just like anyone else. Just a hint: we have 7 kids with 1 more on the way, she's due January 16th, so we have to make our marriage work with a lot of extra bodies and sometimes divided focus.


When I decided to attend BYU-Idaho I chose the major of Marriage and Family studies because I feel it is an area that needs extra support and attention in today's world where Satan is striving so hard to attack and tear apart the family. Not just "the family", but YOUR family, MY family. It's personal. He's trying to destroy us. He wants to keep you out of your Heavenly Fathers presence. He wants to keep your spouse out as well and he is definitely after your kids.

I just read an awesome chapter of "Successful Marriage and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives" which talks about "Foundational Processes for an Enduring, Healthy Marriage". Doesn't that sound awesome? Someone has laid out foundational processes to help our marriages endure and be healthy. I bet you want to hear some of them. I know I did.

In the Proclamation to the World we are told that "Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other." (1)

President Spencer W. Kimball tell us, "While marriage is difficult, and discordant and frustrated marriages are common, yet real, lasting happiness is possible, and marriage can be more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive. This is within the reach of every couple, every person." (2)

So, how can we get there? How can we make our marriage a "more exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive? These foundational processes that I am about to share  are things that couples can do in  their marriage to help their marriage flourish. Let's jump in!

Foundational Process #1 is Personal Commitment to the Marriage Covenant. 

As we learn from amazing statements in the Proclamation, marriage divinely created by God. He loves your marriage, he wants it to succeed. He is on your side!

In a covenant marriage couples work through their problems together. They marry each other in the temple and commit to help each other grow, to serve their partner, they are bound by covenants to each other and to God. Covenant couples give 100%, not 50% expecting their partner to pull the rest of the weight.

You may remember a previous post where I shared Elder Bednar's "MCovenant Marriage Relationship". If not you can see it here. And here's a little reminder...
In a marriage if each partner strives to get closer to God they will also be pulled closer to their spouse. 

Processes that nurture your covenant marriage:
Here's a great one; intentional personal dedication to your spouse. This means you have to work for it. Hard. Blaine Fowers said "One of the basic ways for a person to have a good marriage is to be a good person." You may have to change bad habits, sacrifice some vices, learn to communicate better (that's what I'm working on), or any other things.

Also, exclusive cleaving and unity. Henry B. Eyring stated plainly "Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be knit together. That union in love is not simply an ideal. It is a necessity." (3)

Practice spiritual patterns. These would include prayer, going to church, serving in a church calling, Family Home Evening, and all the other seminary answers. Studies have shown that "couples who practice their faith together generally have less conflict." (Lambert & Dollahite, 2006).

Foundational Process #2 is Love and Friendship

In D&C 42:22 we are commanded to love our spouses with all of hears. President Benson pointed out that the only other thing in the scriptures we are commanded to love with all of our hearts is God himself! Ways we can strengthen our friendship with our spouses are by figuring out what their love preferences are, talking as friends, responding to bids for connection, and setting regular goals for couple interaction. A summary given of these things comes from my text book:


  1. Respond to bids for attention, affection, humor, or support. An announcement of "I'e had a rotten day" can be met with an acknowledgement of feelings ("I'm sorry to hear that"), a hug, and an invitation to talk more about it.
  2. Make an effort to do everyday activities together, such as reading the mail or making the bed.
  3. Have a stress-reducing conversation at the end of the day. This involves reuniting at the end of a busy day to see how things went, and listening to and validating one another.
  4. Do something special every day to communicate affection and appreciation.
  5. Keep track of how well you are connecting emotionally with each other, and make enhancements when necessary.
Foundational Process #3 is Positive Interaction

One of my favorite quotes comes from Jay Trachman, 

"The formula for a happy marriage? It's the same as the formula for living in California: when you find a fault, don't dwell on it."



Couples in positive marriages have at least five positive interactions to every one negative. On the flip side, couples headed for divorce have a ratio of only 0.8 positive to 1 negative. 

Foundational Process #4 is accepting influence from one's spouse.

Simply put, sharing the decision making process counts as accepting influence. Do this in family affairs. Turn to your spouse for advice, be open to their ideas, listen to and learn from your spouse.

Foundational Process #5 is respectfully handling differences and solving problems.

Disagreements occur even in the best marriages. It is possible however to solve these disagreements without having a full on argument occur. Skills that can smooth over these differences include prevention, getting rid of destructive patterns, staying clam, keeping discussions soft, gentle, and private (Bill and I call this being "tenderly upfront" and it is something I am working on), making and accepting apologies, soothing each other and one's self, and reach a consensus. 

The last Foundational Process which is #6 is continuing courtship through the years. 

Date your spouse! This is where wholesome recreational activities come in to play. The beginning of your marriage should not be the end of your dating, it should be the beginning of your greatest dating!

Also, it is recommended that a couple spends at least five hours a week strengthening their relationship. Four things should be accomplished in those five hours:

  1. Learn one thing that happened in your spouse's life each day.
  2. have a stress-reducing conversation at the end of each day (hmmm, this was mentioned earlier... that must mean that it's pretty important).
  3. Do something special every day to show affection and appreciation (this was mentioned too).
  4. Have a weekly date.
In closing, Elder F. Burton Howard stated,

"If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.
Eternal marriage is just like that. We need to treat it just that way." (4)
References:
(1) https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng
(2) https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/03/oneness-in-marriage?lang=eng
(3) https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1998/04/that-we-may-be-one?lang=eng
(4) https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2003/04/eternal-marriage?lang=eng

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The R.A.M. - Relationship Attachment Model

I am learning about the R.A.M. in my Marriage Prep course this semester. Is it silly that I'm taking a marriage preperation class when I've already been married for almost 14 years? No. It's really helpful for me to identify ways that I can be a better spouse to this amazing guy.
Which in turn will help me be an even better person when it comes to the people I love. 
John Van Epp, Ph. D., describes the R.A.M. like a sound system equalizer with five sliders. The slider on the far left represents the extent that you really know someone. As you get to know them better and the slider goes up your relationship gets richer. The next represents the trust you have for that person. The higher the bar, the deeper the trust. Next is how much you rely on this person. The higher the bar the greater ways you depend on them to meet your significant needs. The fourth is the level of commitment you have established with this person. Lastly, sexual touch. Elevating this slider obviously shows the level of sexual contact with your partner (pgs 22-23).
When all five sliders are at the same level you are in a healthy relationship. When even on is low attachment is weakened.

Here is what Epp labels one of the most important keys to building a healthy relationship:
  "Keep a balance among the five relationship dynamics."

He goes on to say, "...When you keep these five dynamics in balance with each other so that you are not moving further ahead in one area than in any of the others, then you are securely planted in the safe zone" (pg 24).

Thus far the most important paragraph I have read is this one:

"There is one basic rule for guarding the safe zone: never go further in one bonding area than you have gone in the previous. This rule is based on the view that the five bonding dynamics have a specific order and logic to them: what  you know about a person determines the degree you should trust him or her; this trust directs you in choosing what personal needs you can rely on him or her to meet; you should become committed only to the extent that you know, trust, and depend on that person; and finally, any degree of sexual involvement is safest when it matches the context of the overall intimacy reflected in the levels of the other four dynamics.

Slipping out of the safe zone explains the most common mistake people make in relationships" (pg 25). 

In summary, relationships should be established according to these five sliders, and they should go in order from left to right. Know them before you trust them. Trust them before you rely on them. Rely on them and then commit. Have a serious commitment before you have any sexual involvement. 

Everything I quoted today was from my awesome text book, "How To Avoid Falling In Love With A Jerk: The Foolproof Way to Follow Your Heart Without Losing Your Mind" by John Van Epp, Ph.D.