Thursday, September 18, 2014

Timeless Principles to Enhance Marriage

I’ve been reading the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie in the 1930s.  Dale Carnegie was an influential man himself who taught businessmen and professionals how to succeed. 

His suggestions and principles, if applied, would also help any marriage thrive.  The recommendations are timeless and simple.  In our fast-paced world, they are easy to forget too.  

The first principle is “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.”  I’m the first to admit, I’ve failed at this one often in my own marriage.  It’s easier to treat strangers with respect and overlook their faults than it is to do in marriage.   Because of our relationship, we often feel we can be blunt.  It would serve us well to use filters for our words.   The scripture is true.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

I can’t get beyond the first chapter of this book because it’s a principle I want to make sure I implement in my own marriage.   I thought blogging might help me think before speaking.  

In any relationship, there will be irritations that occur.   I’m not saying to just bite your tongue and bury things you don't like.  However, I think some examination of your own heart is necessary before pointing the finger at him or her. 

Today I’ve been contemplating how to communicate issues that are not exactly positive to our marriage partners.    

Here are some suggestions when tempted to criticize, condemn or complain:

1.              Don’t confront the issue immediately.  Take some time to cool off and assess the situation.

2.              Write down things you love about your spouse.  Focusing on the positive helps diffuse the negative.

3.              Examine your motives for the confrontation:

a.     Why do you want to discuss this issue?

b.     Will the conversation bring resolve?

c.      Will your suggestions be well received?

d.     Is this confrontation really necessary?
4.              Write down the things you want to confront.

5.              Pray about the right timing or decide if you just need to vent on paper.

6.              Schedule a time when you can have a discussion when other family members are not close enough to hear.    If you meet in public (like a coffee shop, restaurant or park) you will be more apt to stay calm. 

7.              Approach your spouse as if he/she has your best in mind.   Listen to your spouse's side of the story.

8.              Chose your words wisely.  The same thing can be said using words that build up instead of words that tear down.

This list is not final by any means, so feel free to add your own steps in the comment section.  However, as you put these things into practice, instead of criticism, condemnation and complaining, it will become communication, which every marriage needs to succeed.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane

Isaiah 61:3:  
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

I am from North Carolina originally and have been in Arizona for 15 years.  I love September in North Carolina.  It’s the time when the mornings become much cooler, and fall sets in.  

North Carolina is famous for oak trees.  In the fall, acorns are plentiful and have always had a special meaning for our family. 

When my dad and mom were dating, dad picked an acorn from the ground while they were walking and made a ring out of it with his pocket knife.   He put it on my mom and asked her to marry him. 

He gave her an engagement ring later, but the significance of that moment became part of our family heritage. 

Through the years, acorns appeared around our house in various forms.  Whether it was a handful of acorns, a special plaque or a card, acorns became the symbol of love for the Tunstall home.

For me as a child, that spoke of security.  I loved seeing little reminders of their beginning. 

To this day, acorns mean love to me, and Jerry and I have our fair share as well.  If you come to our home in the fall, you will see many of them sitting around.  

If all of us remembered our early years and beginning, our marriages may be better.  It’s so tempting to get caught up in the pressure of today and forget about why we are together in the first place.

Maybe you don’t have a specific symbol for your marriage, but each of us have special memories of those early days. 

Let me challenge you this week to take a little stroll down memory lane and talk about some of those fun times that drew you to each other.  Then tell your kids so they too will know your history.  It will bring smiles to their faces.