Monday, December 29, 2008

Dating: 7 Healthy Habits

Here are 7 habits for dating and choosing healthy partners.

1. Go slowly in a new relationship
. There is no reason to rush. Enjoy the experience of really getting to know someone. Put off the “Where are we going with this?” discussion for 6 months.

2. Think about your past relationships and learn from them. What did you do right and what you want to do differently?

3. Have a checklist of qualities that are important to you and stick with them. Dating is more about finding someone healthy for you than someone who likes you.

4. Think of dating as a sport rather than an intense search for THE ONE. Relax and have fun.

5. Meet your date’s friends and let some of your friends meet your date. See how he/she acts around friends and assess what you think about your date’s friends.

6. Consider a rule for yourself about sex and intimacy such as not to sleep with someone new for at least a month.

7. And finally, never mistake infatuation for love.

Do you have ideas as well? We would love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tip of the Week, December 29, 2008

Begin a Gratitude Journal. Every night, write down 3 things that you are grateful for that day. These can be things that have gone well that day or things that you notice about yourself or your life that you appreciate.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Low-Cost, High Affection Holiday Gift Ideas

Make a photo album of one of your favorite trips, holidays or moments. Write captions and a dedication page.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Low-Cost, High Affection Holiday Gift Ideas

Create and write in a journal, with your own handwriting, a list of “25 Ways That I Think You Are Special” or “25 Reasons Why I Love You“.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Low-Cost, High Affection Holiday Gift Ideas

Make a family “communication” box. Find a small box and put trinkets in there that will communicate feelings. A band aid can mean “I am hurting”, a Kleenex can mean “I need a good cry”. A candy heart for “I need love”. A small lifesaver can symbolize “I am feeling overwhelmed.” A place card can mean “I need a favor”. Put the box in a place where all can see it every day. When someone needs any one of these emotional needs met, they just lay out the symbol for others in the family to see.

Tip of the Week, December 22, 2008

As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same. - Donald E. Westlake

Friday, December 19, 2008

And Yet Another Low-Cost, High Affection Holiday Gift Idea

Get a lot of small items from the dollar store … or make/bake some. Wrap each one individually and attach instructions to only open one a day until New Year’s Day

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Low-Cost, High Affection Holiday Gift Idea

Collect and burn a cd, specially made for your friend or family member. Add one song that you chose because it reminds you of him or her … along with a note that explains why.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Low-Cost Holiday Gifts

It is a week until Christmas. We know that many people are worried about how to provide gifts for their family and friends and yet want to give them something. We are going to offer one idea each day until Christmas.

Today's idea: a Family Staycation. Pretend that you are on vacation in your own home. Do things that you would normally do on vacation, stay up late and sleep in, eat different foods, play games, visit interesting sites, watch movies and eat popcorn. Celebrate time together.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Difficult Mother-In-Law

Ever since I first met Cindy’s mother, the going has been rough. She has never approved of me because I do not have a college degree and did not grow up in the “right neighborhood”. She makes no effort to be nice to me, except in front of Cindy. I have been able to hold my temper with her, mainly by avoiding contact with her. This has caused problems between Cindy and I, and especially at the holidays. Cindy and I are in a bad space right now because she wants me to go with her and the children to her mom’s this year and I really don’t want to go. I have been holding my ground thinking that her mother would be nicer, however, she is not willing to budge and just uses the time to talk bad about me to Cindy and now to our boys. Ideas for how to handle this?

This is really a tough question. Many times in-law problems are about both people … neither party open to giving in and making overtures to develop a relationship. That is not always the case; however, and then things get “sticky”. You may not want to hear our advice … but you asked. Unless your mother-in-law is being verbally abusive, we encourage you to be the “bigger” person. Go for Cindy and for the children. Your relationship with them is really the most important thing here.

Be courteous to your mother-in-law and look for any sign that she might be trying to take a step in the right direction for her daughter and grandchildren. If you see any sign … even the slightest one, find a way to acknowledge it with a smile or a positive comment back. Look for opportunities to talk with others in the family so that you do not need to be around her so much of the time.

Talk with Cindy about how much time you want her by your side and ask for a commitment from her. When she is away, visit with the children or others in the family. Talk with Cindy and set a specific time to go home and ask her to agree that you will leave earlier if her mother becomes too disrespectful to you.

When you get home, congratulate yourself for your maturity and willingness to do your part in having a healthy marriage. Hopefully, Cindy will understand that this clearly an important sign of your love and commitment.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tip of the Week, December 15, 2008

For one of your holiday gifts, talk with your partner about your proudest moments. Share with each other what things about yourself and your relationship that make you the most proud.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Rituals Are Gifts

When you think back on your childhood, what do you most remember … the gifts that you received or experiences that you had? For us, and probably for many of you, more emotion is around how your family celebrated holidays.

It is comforting to think about that in these times of financial stress, because rituals cost very little money and are so important in bonding families together and promoting healthy and positive feelings about each other and about this special time of the year.

Some of the rituals we have heard about recently involve family outings to pick out the Christmas tree, special food, drinks and music, baking for neighbors, midnight religious ceremonies, caroling in neighborhoods.

One of our favorites involves “train night”. We invite all of the grandchildren to spend the night, get out John’s childhood train and put it up. One of the grandchildren gets to go with Papa John to pick out a new accessory for the train every year. We have popcorn and hot chocolate while John reads The Polar Express and the next morning we all walk to the candy store to pick out special treats. The children make sure that we maintain the same routine and look forward to it every year.

Please share some of your rituals with us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holidays and Tough Economic Times … One Family’s Story

Andy and Cheryl prepared everyone in their family this year by telling them that they love them very much, would still be sharing presents, but they would all notice a difference. These are tough economic times and money is tight. Then Cheryl and Andy set about thinking of creative ways to celebrate simply. Many of the gifts that they are giving have to do with time and their talent. Hours of babysitting and coupons for casseroles are on the gift list. Cheryl put together gift baskets with baked goods and baking supplies. She was quite creative with jars of soup and cookie mix. Andy offered coupons for yard work and snow shoveling and promised to take the initiative to schedule the work, not wait for the “ask”.

Finding ways to help their children understand the simpler Christmas, they began talking about it weeks in advance. They helped each child find a way to make gifts or coupons for their siblings and gave them each a chance to earn a little money so that they could purchase something very small as well. Getting the children in the mindset of living simpler, they also helped them gather older toys that were still in good condition, cleaned them up and found a way to donate them to others in need. As they worked on this project, Cheryl and Andy talked about the changes happening in our world and in their lives. They also spent a lot of time talking about what have been the gifts in their family and in each one of them.

As we near Christmas, the children are preparing for things to be simpler. There will still be a few special presents under the tree. Cheryl has done quite a bit of research on-line and is quite adept at finding the many different coupon and price comparison websites. She has even found a few things at consignment shops and both parents feel pretty sure that their children will be pleased with what the find under the tree Christmas morning.

Andy and Cheryl feel a little more light-hearted and really good about the life lessons that the children are learning. Christmas will be very special for this family after all.