You’re busy living – and that means there will be lots of mistakes made!
We have almost 33 years worth of mistakes to add up. But that’s OK – because it makes the blooper reel of our life extra humorous. Most of our flubbs, and muddles, and miscalculations are fodder for laughter.
When you and your spouse want to celebrate mistakes, step back from the bungle (once you’ve processed any pain) and try to see the lighter side of the issue.
Most times, when you seek to celebrate mistakes, you can view them as the inconveniences they are, and move on. However, it’s imperitive to remember these two parts of celebrating mistakes in the middle of marriage…
Two parts about mistakes to remember:
1 – Don’t blame your spouse for the mistakes… just move on.
2 – And, if you need to use those “oops” moments as a reference, then be respectful.
Don’t allow your mistakes to become your identity as a couple.
It’s not possible to solve every mistake. Some will need to be processed, and accepted. Some mistakes hurt – hurt terribly. But you can’t go back to un-make them. In every case – even these challenging ones – it’s important to learn how to apologize so your spouse feels your sincerity.
Dwelling on the oversights, ommissions, blotches, and errors won’t make them any easier to solve. Wallowing in the mistakes won’t un-make them. You have a choice!
Put all your energy into making things better.
Your challenge this week to celebrate mistakes:
Mistakes happen – and if you haven’t found it easy to move on, then we challenge you to remind yourself that mistakes are just fertilizer… How? We’ve created a PDF with some visuals/images (like those above) and a list of 29 quotes about mistakes.
To download these resources, head on over to our Patreon Page!
They’re both professors at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. But more importantly to us is the fact that they’re both in a long-term marriage. Geoff has been married to Maureen for more than 35 years. Kathy has been married to Dave for more than 40 years. They both know what it’s like to be in the middle of marriage, how to be a friend to their spouse, and how build friendships as couples.
They’re not just talking theory on how to make the most from your couple friendships – they’re living it!
Research Concepts from Two Plus Two
What struck me first about their research is how easy it was to understand.
Deal and Geif have interviewed 123 couples together, 122 individuals who are part of a couple, 58 divorced individuals, two couples who have been friends for more than 40 years, and a group of seven couples who have been meeting for years together.
…mutual respect and enjoyment of each other’s company. They tend to know each other intimately – they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams. They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in the big ways but in little ways day in and day out.
And then go on to cite many other researchers’ points on why friendships are a healthy part of life.
I found it interesting and helpful how they dealt with some of the factors that make friendships with other couples both a challenge and a joy:
differences beween women and men
age as a factor in friendships
race as a factor in friendships
socioeconomic class in friendships
how parents modeled friendships (positive & negative)
partnered vs married
extended family connections that (may) impede making outside friendships
how to fit in couple friendships into your life as husband and wife
“love him – hate her” issue in couple friendships
how television/social media has impacted our view of couple friendships
After researching they’ve come to the conclusion that there are two ways of thinking about couple friendships: Style and Interaction. These two concepts are going to help you navigate how make the most from your couple friendships.
“The most outgoing couples we call Seekers. These couples seek other couples for social, intellectual, and emotional stimulation. Both partners enjoy the company of others.
A second, and the largest group of couples, are ones we call Keepers. They tend to see couple friends as an important but not vital part of their lives. They have a significant number of friends, are close with those friends, and are not too interested in making new couple friends.
Nesters. A third group of couples that we see from our research are those that are not particularly interested in couple friendships. Either or both partners do not place a high value on them,and they are content to just spend time with the other partner, with their individual friends, or with one or two close couples. They are not oriented by personality style to a great deal of socializing with other couples. We call them Nesters because, without putting any value on their behavior, they are content to be in their nest with just each other or with a small group of friends. Some Nesters found each other late in life or in a second marriage and are fiercely protective of the time they have.”
Moving forward in the book, from Greif and Deal’s research they show how these three styles of interactors “live out their friendhips and how a couple’s interaction style affects what they do when they get together.”
What we need to know is that each couple might have different friendship styles. For example, I’m a Nester and Robert is a Keeper in couple friendship styles. Or, (to add complexity) an individual in a couple relationship could have an affinity for two of the three styles…
Bottom line? Knowing each other’s friendship style is important when you’re negotiating who you’ll be spending time with, and how often, and how to make the most from your couple friendships.
Interaction in Couple Friendships
Imagine a sliding continuum : Fun Seekers to Emotion Seekers.
In their research, Greif and Deal suggest that more than two-thirds of those they interviewed identified with the fun seeking description in couple friendships. They hung out together, and the emphasis was on “doing something”. Most often the Fun Seekers had children under 18 in their home, in comparison to couples who leaned toward emotion sharing friendships who didn’t have dependents living with them.
Others referred to the best kinds of couple friendships as being able to do both – share emotions, and thoughts along with enjoyment when doing things together.
“We did discover characteristics of emotion sharing couples, however, that distinguish them from fun sharing couples. Emotion sharing couples tend to identify couple friendships as more important to them than do fun sharing couples. They tend to describe a strong emotional investment in the couple friendships that they have. Further, they tend to be more affected by the breakup or divorce of their couple friends than are fun sharing couples. They have invested more in their couple friends and thus lose more when the friendships dissolve. Emotion sharing couples frequently mentioned how important couple friendships were to their lives, at times referring to another couple as “like family.””
Well – there probably won’t be final thoughts on this book.. 😉 There’s so much to ponder and review.
It’s a book heavy on theory, research, notations and citations, etc. What makes it readable for a non-academic is how the authors have woven in the personal stories of the couples they’ve interviewed. Those stories make the theory real and relatable to make the most from your couple friendships. From all the chapters, these are the most practical:
I especially enjoyed Chapter 10 – Building Couple Friendships for the Future because this section answered the questions on how to make the most from your couple friendships.Deal and Greif provide insights from the couples who they interviewed, and their own recommendations.
Appendix B has questions for marriage enrichment groups that I’m looking forward to asking our own couple friends!
Appendix C has a couple’s quiz to explore whether you’re a seeker, keeper or nester.
The whole book is fascinating if you’re someone who likes to gather insights and data. It felt like candy to me…
But I need to be clear with you — this is NOT a self-help book.
There aren’t “x” number of steps to make better friendships… It’s about research on the topic. And from the authors’ view, this might be the only book on this topic.
Why are we talking about this book?
Our discussion started with our first mid-marriage encouragement topic: making new connections in the middle of marriage… and how hard it is!
Take a look at our video— We’re reaching out – kicking it up a notch in 2017- to encourage YOU!
We’ve created resources – 2 PDFs – for you to download on our Patreon page for this video topic. We’ll be sharing a new Mid-Marriage Encouragement Video with you each week, along with resources as a challenge for you and your spouse to lead a meaningful life.
We challenge you to reach out and make new friends!
Don’t let the age or stage or your marriage deprive you of the depth that good friends can provide for your life.
Who could you call today – and make a time for a double-date?
Make new connections in the middle of marriage, and your marriage will grow.
Invite new people into your life – even if it’s only for a moment or so. Reach out and make new friends. You and your spouse still have lots to learn and other people are great resources.
In the middle of marriage, we can get stuck in routines.
Break out – reach out.
Make new connections.
This is the first of (at least) 30 videos for couples in the middle of marriage – to challenge them to lead a life filled with meaning. We’re kicking it up a notch in 2017 – making videos for you! Take a look…
But it’s hard to make new friends in the middle of marriage…
Oh, yes. We understand. Time is at a premium, when you’re stuck in the middle between raising children and helping aging parents. It’s hard to make new connections when you’re tired. Or frustrated. Or challenged.
However, NOW is the best time to reach out to make new couple friends – friends are part of a meaningful life. They’ll support you, and help you cope with the ups and downs in life.
An article from the Mayo Clinic says that friendships will:
Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
Help you cope with traumas
Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits
More on how to make new couple friends in the middle of marriage…
We have begun making these videos to encourage you – but to carry it further in 2017, we also would like to provide a sense of accountability.
What good is a challenge, if you don’t have anyone to share it with?
To this end, we’ve created a private Facebook group, with resources for each weekly video and a chance to interact with Robert and me, and other couples. But how do you access this private Facebook group? Well, we’re challenging you to put some “skin in the game”.
What is Patreon? It’s a platform for creatives to seek patrons for their work – it’s a way for people to support what they believe in… You can learn more about Patreon here.
For this first mid-marriage challenge video, we’ve uploaded the resources for everyone to access on the Patreon Page – http://Patreon.com/encourageyourspouse. The resource for this week includes 2 PDFs: one with questions to discuss about your views as a couple on friends/friendships, and a checklist of 14 ways to reach out to make new friends, and the other is a Challenge Sheet where you’ll record who you’ll be reaching out to, if you already know.
But we’re challenging you to do more… to also kick it up a notch in 2017!
We have 30 weekly, mid-marriage encouragement challenges already planned, (that takes us to September, if you’re counting), with more in the works. Each weekly challenge will have supporting documents to go with the video – and what we are seeking from you is less than a cup of coffee.
You might not be ready to do all four challenges in the month – but that’s the nice part… you have a plan… a place to start.
Start encouraging each other to lead a meaningful life as husband and wife!
These challenges are an answer to your question,
“Is this all there is?”
when you look at your marriage and your life together as husband & wife…
Make New Connections
Go ahead – reach out. Break out of your routine and make your marriage relationship more…
Plan your evening. Then get up and have a remarkable day. Oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful?I’ve been having difficulty with my days – most have been disjointed and unproductive. Can you relate?
Some of my disjointed-ness might be attributed to our nomadic lifestyle. We’re sleeping in different beds two or three times a week, and shlepping our stuff from house-sitting, back to the RV, and then onto taking care of dogs at another house. Don’t misunderstand me – I LOVE our experiences. I’m having such fun with soaking in a hot-tub and looking up at the blue sky at one house-sit, (along with cooking in a real oven, and having a washer/dryer at hand!) and loving on two big dogs at the other house-sit.
I thought all this moving about was messing with my productivity during the day – it’s not!
It occurred to me – it’s not so much what I’m doing during the day that’s the big problem – it’s my evenings!
Rob and I are indulging in multiple episodes of Big Bang Theory on video.
I’m not watching the time – and go to bed much too late – with my head full of computer or TV stuff
Instagram, twitter and other social media are sucking me in and it’s mindless
The evenings are being eaten up by stupid, mindless stuff. Worse yet, none of what I’m doing is preparing me for the day ahead. After an evening of messing-about, I don’t sleep well. And then the next day begins and I’m already at a disadvantage. (sigh) And this doesn’t help Rob or me or anyone else. At all.
I decided to invest in her course. 14 Days. 14 Videos. A 59-page digital workbook. It seemed like a do-able investment for a reasonable investment to plan your evening…
And I’ve been working through it.
Plan Your Evening
At first I believed the course would be like making a list and following that list. But it’s so much more. Crystal started off by encouraging me to think about why I want a change… the prompt included these questions:
What is the most frustrating thing in my life right now?
What is one area that, if changed, would make the biggest impact?
What am I struggling with most right now?
What drew me to consider starting this course in the frst place?
At the end of this course, if I only changed one thing, what one thing would make the biggest difference in my life?
Over the 14 days she had me looking at my calendar, facing my flaws (my greatest is procrastination, if you didn’t already know), deciding how to prep for the day ahead, priortizing what’s really important, and more.
14 Days of doing things differently in the evening has resulted in remarkable days!
(At the end of this post I have some photos of what Rob and I have been working on! It’s a brand new experience!)
What does my planned evening look like?
Your evenings will look different than mine – especially if you have growing children at home! But here’s a little insight into how I’ve changed my evening, despite our nomadic lifestyle:
I no longer join Rob for his nightly Big Bang episode(s) – they weren’t meeting my needs
we pray together before we both are in bed, because he goes to bed after I do.
the computer is shut down by 8PM & I read before bed – things that will help my mind settle for sleep
deciding the priorities for the next day, including making sure we have breakfast planned
and more that makes for a better sleep, and a remarkable day ahead
Is it all working well? No. I still struggle with procrastinating, and the time still gets away with me. But it’s only been a few weeks.
And you know what’s different… ?
I have a PLAN!
I think that’s the biggest benefit for me after going through this course – I have a plan to have a better evening. I really, truly understand the deeper reason why I need a plan for my evenings – and that keeps me focused.
No matter where I’m going to sleep (in our little-house-on-wheels, or in a hotel, or taking care of someone’s dogs/home while they’re away), I have a plan for my evening that will start the next day well – wherever I am. Remarkable.
I need more remarkable days in my life… don’t you?
Yes. I am an affiliate for this course to plan your evening. At no cost to you, I’ll receive a commission if you purchase. I became an affilitate because this product is working for me. It has value – with a 59-page workbook, worksheets included, and videos that are to-the-point. (I’m not a fan of fluff.)
I’ve been sharing what I’m learning with Rob, and it’s one reason we’ve decided to change how we pray in the evening (the timing and intention). Though this course isn’t designed to change your family’s evening – just yours – it’ll have a positive impact on everyone in your family, including your spouse!
What have we been doing since January?
How have our days been remarkable? Well – we’ve been stepping out in faith… even though we’re not pretty TV people… and we’ve been making videos! For you! Mid-marriage Encouragement Videos. To learn more, go to our Patreon page!We will be posting one video every week.
The first part of each video is scripted – and short, usually around 25 seconds. The second half of each video is longer (up to 5 minutes), where we discuss the concept and provide insights and suggestions to challenge you and your spouse to lead a meaningful life! We have 30 videos in the works. We record at YourLocalStudio in front of a green-screen. Then I chose a background (suggestions from Instagram were for us to be in the kitchen!). I’m learning to edit using Premier Pro, including adding in background music and transitions!
your spouse, your children, your parents, your beloved friends and family?
We’re not talking about duties like chauffering the kids to a game or a lesson… or attending the “usual” Sunday-after-church-dinner at your parent’s house. Sure, you might be looking forward to the Super-bowl party on Sunday (so are we), but that event won’t provide a time to open your heart, and listen without an agenda.
But busyness is not providing opportunities to become closer to each other.
If asked, or if loved one comes with a problem or concern,
we might throw out a few words of advice…
Advice = head (not heart)
Do you really want to help?
Do you really want
this hurt, this concern, this dilemna, this fear, this soul-crushing weight
to be lifted from the person you love?
Do your actions truly demonstrate you want your spouse, children or beloved family and friends to feel heard, understood and encouraged?
It might feel odd – or awkward to open your heart.
Maybe listening without an agenda isn’t something you’ve done very often.
Would it feel odd to simply listen – without interjecting or contributing – when your spouse speaks?
Might you feel as though you’re not doing your “job” if you aren’t providing a solution, or an opinion?
Perhaps you could try something new?
Your challenge this weekend:
Arrange a time to be alone together.
(Somewhere without a television and leave your phones elsewhere.)
Hold your spouse’s hand.
Listen to her/him without an agenda,
with full attention, and no words.
Open your heart to understand.
Don’t know where to start a deeper conversation? If you’re at a loss, try concepts from reading these posts from Christian Marriage Bloggers: