Tag: marriage

shared interest, marriage, common values,
MarriageUncategorized

5 must-haves for keeping a healthy marriage on the right track

By Marisol Barrios, MSPA

When I got divorced I reflected on what went wrong, what was right, how I could have improved the relationship, and what I would do differently if I was in another one. Reading books and talking to my therapist taught me a few things about marriage and what I should have done to keep it on the right track in a healthy way. I have summed up what I have learned from this failure in the hopes that my current relationship will reap the fruit of my labor.

Be committed to the relationship

Although my ex and I went to therapy for an extended period of time on several occasions, I never was truly committed to the relationship. What do I mean? In the back of my mind, I would hear my mother’s voice telling me to “always be prepared to divorce. You are a professional now and you can leave at any time. You don’t have to put up with anything.”

Rachel Howard, a licensed psychologist who specializes in marriage counseling and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, says for a mother, who perhaps was not happy in her marriage especially “if she was dependent on someone for basic living expenses, that would be the best advice from her life experience she could offer her daughter.”

Now I realize she transferred her experience of marriage and a hidden desire to escape to her daughters. Her voice was my reason to not fully be committed to any relationship, to not change my last name, and to have a backup plan should “things” not work out. I chose to listen to my mother, to see the experiences of couples around me, and to be externally influenced.

“When someone mentions the D word or has it in their thoughts, it changes the perception of marriage and weakens it,” says Tora Massey, a licensed marriage and family therapist, who has counseled many couples in her private practice in Whittier, CA.

Being fully committed to the relationship and making the decision to be in it, loving unconditionally, is a challenging one, yet one that we must work on daily. In today’s relationship, I recognize the strengths and weaknesses we each have. With each partner’s gifts, the flaws demand more attention on days that trigger our feelings from past experiences. Recognizing that we all have negative deficits, we have a choice to make: to support each other through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, embracing our strengths and weaknesses to become resilient together.

Tora says, “Being fully committed to whomever you’re married means you don’t have one foot out that door.” She cautions couples that anything can come through it­– temptation, bitterness, anger, blame–and infiltrate your marriage.

What helps my partner and I stay connected is the commitment we have for each other, for our families, for God—for love. Now I seek for the truth within, with God’s help and guided by grace.

Have common values and interests

When I interviewed a couple about their philanthropic giving, conversation began with how they met. The wife was 50 years old when she enrolled in a matchmaker workshop. I was stunned! I guess it’s not any different than eHarmony or Match.com nowadays. She told me one of the first things the matchmaker told her students was to write a list of what they wanted in a partner.

Well, what do you think I did? I came home and wrote a list of values and interests that I wanted my partner to have: faith, intellectual stimulation, enjoyment in hiking and camping, a fondness for wine, a willingness to dance, to name a few.

Shared values and interests are so important, says Rachel. “You have to be friends or you will drift apart.” In so many ways this is true: the couple that plays together, stays together.

I have found enjoyment with my partner by taking long morning hikes, riding bikes around town, going wine tasting and grape stomping, as well as sitting around the dining table enjoying a homemade meal and talking.

Tora also knows about divorce and not just because she has counseled many stepfamilies. As a therapist who is also divorced, there is so much more wisdom she has about marriage now. “I’ve learned so much through [the divorce] process,” Tora adds. “If I knew back then what I know now, would I want to go back? Absolutely not,” Tora answers. “My life now is so much better. My husband and I now are more compatible. I love my life.”

conflict resolution, therapist, grievance, marriage, empathy, healthy relationshipResolve conflict efficiently

Communication is a key skill we can all agree is critical in marriage. Exercising attentive listening to understand and be empathetic rather than just responding to defend a position or action will go a long way. I’ve learned these tools and can even apply them in any relationship, personal or professional. Recently, I have learned that we must also have the ability to resolve conflicts. According to Tora, the lack of this skill is the biggest predictor of divorce. Communication is not just for getting along or listening, she explains. “When there is conflict, can a couple communicate and resolve it?”

If a couple has the ability to work through their problems, they reduce the chances of being part of the 40 percent who end up in divorce yearly in America.

Rachel agrees. “If you don’t have the ability to air and resolve grievances, you are really in trouble.” So often, Rachel says, they swallow their feelings and don’t say anything and then suddenly there’s an explosion. What’s the takeaway? Create a space to resolve the problems in a safe manner.

“Be efficient, not dramatic. Fight fair and stick to the issue that’s in front of you,” says Rachel. “See your partner’s goodness. This person has a positive motivation.” We must tell ourselves this person loves me and I can come to that person safely with my feelings. I understand that person does not want to hurt me.

Forgive to repair

Having a commitment to listening, taking in the feedback and feelings, and repairing what is the underlying concern will help nurture a healthy relationship, suggests Rachel. Taking these actions, one grievance at a time, will get your relationship further along on the right track. By doing this, we are creating a viewpoint of understanding, compassion, empathy, and sympathy. It creates the space to forgive our partners and repair the hurt.

To forgive means to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake. The act of forgiveness is a change in feelings and attitude toward an offense taken by someone who has hurt you. So how can we look at forgiveness?

Each partner in the relationship is a caretaker of the family and a nurturer to the children and each other. When a partner offends us, we can try to understand what happened by asking why and what was their intention or motivation. We express empathy and sympathy for their experience. Our partner has a need and we’re filling it by being sensitive to his or her feelings and validating and acknowledging them. Looking at the situation or the offense from a perspective of what they are going through or struggling with at that moment can help in understanding what happened so we can forgive them and repair the hurt feelings.

Show and express gratitude

I’ve learned to be grateful for the small things in a relationship: the opening of doors, the kiss upon coming home from work, a tender smile while watching television, a flower picked from a garden. Showing appreciation and expressing gratitude by always believing the best about your partner extends your healthy relationship. In marriage we sometimes fail to appreciate the person we’re with, taking for granted their goodness and generosity.

Using phrases like, “I appreciate you” and “I love you,” Rachel says, makes people feel welcomed and most of us didn’t get that growing up. Valuing the other person and treating them like a treasure connects couples to what it was that brought them together to begin with.

Both Rachel and Tora suggest creating a greeting ritual. Find your partner when you come home from work, give them a kiss, and greet them.

 

We are always evolving and changing. A relationship goes through the same journey; it evolves and changes over time. As we grow older we change because we’re wiser. Our perspective changes—it’s a natural part of a journey. And sometimes we get to a point in our marriage where we want things to be the way they were doing the honeymoon stage.

“I often hear people say ‘We just want to go back to how it was at the beginning.’ You can’t, can you?” says Tora. “Now we have additional years, children, mortgages, and stressors. It’s just not the same as before. Our expectations at 24 years old are outdated. They are not reasonable anymore. Our expectations need to change.”

When you get into a relationship it’s like getting a degree, says Tora. An educational journey is exciting. At first you get a general education, earning an associate’s degree in two years, which is like getting to know a person through all seasons. Then, you move on to your bachelor’s degree, focusing on the details. Thereafter, you pursue a master’s and a doctorate degree, a process that takes years.

You never stop learning and a relationship is the same. Even after my divorce, I learned so much about my marriage. You must stay interested in one another, exploring and learning about each other and from each other. And when times get torrential, choosing to stay committed to the relationship and following a few of these must-have ingredients will help weather the storm.

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Mother of two sons, Marisol Barrios, a communications strategist, grace changer, and content creator, is still on a journey of self-discovery and learns many life lessons, primarily how wine and cupcakes can soothe her soul during challenging times.

Missguidedmom, Marisol Barrios, Caterina Clarke, New Years Resolution, Pearls of Grace, tips
Magazine

Cheers to a New Year

Missguidedmom, Marisol Barrios, Caterina Clarke, New Years Resolution, Pearls of Grace, tips

I’m on the left of Caterina Clarke laughing as we’re savoring my homemade limoncello while filming our first video.

We’re excited to launch our online magazine providing resources to women who are going through transitional stages of life.  We inspire, empower, and celebrate women through their adventurous journeys, featuring articles in marriage, career, family, divorce, and health and wellness.

This new year we’re starting with the basics, introducing you to who we are. We also have articles on getting back to basics. January seems to bring people hope for a better year with setting New Year’s Resolutions, planning a healthier lifestyle, and setting goals for following dreams, maybe even checking a few items off our bucket lists. Whatever the resolutions are for you, we guide you through one woman’s relationship with food, creating a healthier lifestyle for the family, the five must-haves to maintaining a healthier marriage, getting back into the routine of school mornings, and letting go after a divorce and letting God do the work.

If you like what you read, please share with your friends and follow us on these social media networks @MissGuidedMom:

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Let’s make this new year one to cheer for! So with that, let’s pick up our glass of wine and toast to a sweeter and more joyful year ahead!

Sincerely,

Marisol Barrios and Caterina Clarke

Pearls of Grace

The Power of a Praying Ex-Wife

I read a beautiful prayer from the book entitled “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian. I’d like to share it with you.  I reworded it to fit your situation and I hope it helps you see and respond in a new way.  Let me know what type of impact this has.

Dear Lord,

The Power of a Praying Ex-wifeHelp me to be a good ex-wife. I fully realize that I don’t have what it takes to be one without your help. Take my selfishness, impatience, and irritability and turn them into kindness, long-suffering, and willingness to bear all things. Take my old emotional habits, mindsets, automatic reactions, rude assumptions, and self-protective stance and make me patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self- controlled. Take the hardness of my heart and break down the walls with your gentle touch of revelation. Give me a new heart and work in me your love, peace, and joy. I am not able to rise above who I am at this moment. Only you can transform me. 

Show me where I have failed in my heart, especially with regard to my ex-husband. I’m sorry for the times I’ve been unloving, critical, angry, resentful, disrespectful, or unforgiving toward him. Help me to put aside any hurt, anger or disappointment I feel and forgive him the way you do – totally and completely, no looking back. Make me a tool of reconciliation, peace, and healing in this relationship. Enable us to communicate well and rescue us from the threshold of hurtful words and actions and disrespect where the realities of not seeing him as child of God exist. 

Make me my ex-husband’s prayer support. Help me to create a peaceful spirit around us. Teach me how to take care of myself and stay healthy. Grow me into a creative and confident woman who is rich in mind, soul, and spirit. Make me the kind of woman that can rise above and love my ex-husband according to your will. 

I lay all my expectations at your cross. I release my ex-husband from the burdens of any expectations where I should be looking to you. Help me accept him the way he is and not try to change him. I realize that in some way he may never change, but at the same time, I release him to change in ways I never thought he could. I leave all the changing that needs to be done in your hands, fully accepting that neither of us is perfect and never will be. Only you, oh Lord, are perfect and I look to you to perfect both of us. 

Teach me how to pray for my ex-husband and make my prayer a true language of your love. Create new love for him. Show me how to love him and how to communicate it in a way he can clearly perceive it. Bring unity between us so we can be in agreement as parents who love our sons dearly. May the God of patience and comfort grant us to be like-minded as parents according to your holy will. Make us loving parents not pursuing separate, competitive or independent lives but working together, overlooking each other’s faults and weakness for the greater good of our sons. Help us pursue the things which make for peace in our new type of family. May we be joined together in the same because of the love we have for you and our children. 

I pray that our commitment to you and to our sons grows stronger. Show us how to be respectful with each interaction. Help me to understand things from his perspective. Reveal to me what he wants and needs and show me potential problems before they arise. Breathe your life into my ex-husband, our sons, and me. 

Make me a new ex-wife. Give me a fresh perspective, a positive outlook, and a renewed relationship with my ex-husband. Help me see him with new eyes, new appreciation, new compassion, and new acceptance. Give my ex-husband a new ex-wife in me. 

Amen

Marriage

How to Love an Ex

Love is thoughtfulness. Acting thoughtful of your ex can definitely be a stretch. Oftentimes, I want to say the first thing that comes to my mind, but I bite my tongue. I realize it’s best to quiet myself and not engage in behavior that will yield negative effects.

I remember the honeymoon stage of dating and marriage; I am thoughtful of him, wanting to satisfy him in many ways. Thinking first of my partner then me often comes with the territory of a loving relationship. After several years of marriage, I faded in my thoughtfulness and thought of the children. I began to do everything for the boys, settling in my relationship and accepting what I had.

Wishing there had been more, I think about what I could have done. But today, the best thing to be with my ex is thoughtful. Together we are co-parenting our two boys who need our unconditional love and attention. I need to stretch my mind and exercise the act of loving thoughtfulness. To think good thoughts is the beginning and I have a new beginning every day.

Guiding Lesson:

Eve, it is wonderful that you are aware of the impact that your thoughts and words have. And you’re right that they are the beginning of being thoughtful towards another. It’s not always easy, but when practiced every day, the grace of God meets you and strengthens you.

Thoughtfulness, as you have discovered, is a door that opens you up to a world of many blessings and graces. It lures you into a dance and then invites the other person into this dance. Each thoughtful encounter becomes sweeter and expands your mind and heart as well as those around you. One can’t help but join in the dance that sets you free to love in a new way what might be unlovable. And let’s face it, loving an ex can be challenging at times.

I encourage and support you in your desire to responding thoughtfully towards Adam. And even when it appears you efforts are failing, don’t give it up. Like you said, each day is a new beginning to recommit to living and acting thoughtfully. You have the power to transform your family’s world by sprinkling thoughtfulness in all you do.

Love,
Grace