The Radical Gratitude Challenge: Week #1

We are six weeks away from our Thanksgiving holiday.  These six weeks could change your life and your marriage forever!  But first a little history…

Every school play reenacts the first harvest celebration in 1621.  More than 200 years later, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a holiday. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set the date by signing a bill in 1941. It declared Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year.

Most major religions encourage a spiritual practice of gratitude.  One of the first verses I learned from the Bible was, “In everything give thanks.” (Ephesians 5:20.)  I confess that there have been times when I’ve asked, “Everything, God?  Really? Everything?”

During a particularly challenging time in my life, I began practicing gratitude as a spiritual commitment.  Being thankful for everything really did transform my attitude, and eventually the circumstances.

When new challenges come, the habit of being thankful (sometimes through gritted teeth!) reminds me that I don’t yet know the end of the story.  Circumstances change.  And they’re more apt to change in my favor if I keep my heart open by practicing gratitude.  Fear and discontent close my heart and my circumstances to happy surprises.

In this post and in the next five weeks, I’m issuing a challenge.  Each week I’ll be challenging you to focus on one area of your life where it may be hard to be grateful.

Are you up for it?  What have you got to lose?

Since I am a relationship coach, my first challenge to you is to be grateful for your partnerDECIDE that you will spend the next week looking for qualities, actions, and gestures for which you can express gratitude…not just in your heart, but face to face!

Examples:  “Thank you for being so consistent about helping out with the kids’ bedtime.”  Or, “I appreciate that you let me know that you might be home late.”  Or, “I love that you are so conscientious about getting our bills paid on time.”

Now these may not fit.  But you get what I mean.  Work this! Dig if you have to!  But find things you appreciate about your spouse!

Because….whatever we focus on, increases.  When you only deliver complaints, pretty soon, all you see are things you want to change.  When you focus on things for which you can genuinely be thankful, the irritations shrink as they are more than balanced out by things that are good.

Are you ready to try Radical Gratitude?  I challenge you to say, “Thank you for…” or “I appreciate….”  or “I’m grateful for…” whenever your mind starts to dwell on a problem or dissatisfaction with your partner.  Each week I invite you to share what this Radical Gratitude Challenge has done for your heart and your relationship.  And I’ll share my experiences with you!  If you are accepting this challenge, leave a comment below.

Go Deeper with Radical Gratitude with this Free Download

Our Dirty, Ugly Secret…

“To others we look good.  We have good jobs.  Our children are reasonably well behaved.  We live in a decent neighborhood.  We even attend church regularly.  We are clean, hair styled, clothes presentable.  We look like–and have even been told–we are one of the lucky ones.

But we have a secret that is eating away at this perfect picture.  We fight.  We sometimes treat each other and our children with painful disrespect.  We feel disconnected, angry and unsure of what the future may hold for us.  We rarely have sex, and when we do, it can’t be called “making love.”

“We are each quietly desperate.  Wanting help but are too embarrassed to ask for it.  We’re dying inside, and don’t know how to treat this cancer that is eroding our lives.”

Could you have written this? Is this what is behind the face of your marriage?

At one time this description was true about my marriage to my late husband, Jim.  We hung on for years, trying to fix the dis-ease that was eroding our marriage and family.

Yet the last seventeen years of our life together was blissfully happy.  We treated each other with affection and respect.  The circumstances weren’t always perfect, but our ability to stay centered in our love for each other was amazingly, consistently fulfilling.

What made the difference? How did we move from our ugly secret to being passionate about sharing our great marriage with hundreds of other couples?

We learned new communication and conflict management skills…and we practiced them!  We practiced until they became as habitual as our old ways of reacting to each other.  We practiced until the air between us was full of our loving for each other.  We practiced until any little upset could be resolved in moments instead of days or weeks.

A great marriage is sometimes an accident of fate.  But most marriages require commitment to learning and then using simple, yet powerful communication skills… skills that are proven to work miracles in unhappy relationships.

We came out of our closet of ugly secrets into the light of a loving marriage! You can, too, by downloading and following:  10 Steps to End Our Dirty, Ugly Secret

 

 

#4: What is Your Marriage Bank Balance?!

If you were to assign a dollar value to your marriage, what would it be?  A Million bucks?  A comfortable, but not great one hundred thousand? Ten thousand, meaning your only a few months away from insolvency?  Or are you in the red…out of energy, out of love, struggling to pull together whatever you need from day to day?

Are you satisfied with just enough love in your account to get by?  Or do you want enough love in the account to draw on when life sends you an unexpected relationship challenge?  Or do you want to experience such richness in your marriage that you know you can resolve any issue and neither of you would do anything to jeopardize this precious relationship?

Whether you’re pulling out of marriage bankruptcy or just wanting more, the Millionaire Marriage Club can be your investment adviser!

The Club consists of three components:

  1. The COURSE is where you’ll learn the powerful skills that have enabled thousands of couples to go from bankruptcy to millionaire status in the value they assign to their marriage. There are eight modules (topics) with a total of nineteen approximately 30 minutes video lessons to watch online.
  2. The GAME is where you’ll track your new habits that earn Marriage Dollars to build up your Millionaire Marriage Bank Account. The Game includes good-natured competition and weekly prizes.
  3. SUPPORT will be lavishly given through our private Facebook Page, open only to members of the Club. You’ll exchange news of wins or setbacks with other couples in the club, as well as frequent personal encouragement from Nancy.

Be sure that I have your best email address so I can personally invite you to the FREE webinar where you’ll learn a skill that can eliminate misunderstandings, learn more about the MMC, and enroll in lifetime membership at a very cost-effective discount. 

Click link below to reserve your space at the FREE WEBINAR where you’ll learn a simple skill that can eliminate misunderstandings and learn about Millionaire Marriage Club!

Save my spot for the FREE WEBINAR: Communication That Works! Eliminating Misunderstandings

 

 

 

#3 in Series: We Just Can’t Communicate!

There is nothing lonelier than feeling emotionally disconnected from your chosen partner in life.  We are hard wired to need emotional connection.

Dr. Brene’ Brown says, “Connection is the energy created when people feel seen, heard and valued.“

So what is it that makes partners who were once in love, feel unseen, unheard and undervalued?

The first few years of my marriage to my late husband, Jim, started out in the typical newlywed euphoria, but soon turned into a black hole of despair as we battled over issues we couldn’t seem to resolve.  After much searching, we finally found a coach who taught us a few basic communication methods (say it this way, not that way) and healthier anger management skills.  We finally found solutions to our issues that delivered to us the peace and renewed loving for which we longed.

We didn’t want other couples to suffer the years of agony we had before finding effective help, so we began teaching classes called, “How to Stay Married & Love It!”  We wanted to stay married, but we wanted to love being married to each other more than we thought our parents had.

I returned to school for my Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology, and then wrote the book, “How to Stay Married & Love It! Solving the Puzzle of a SoulMate Marriage.”  In that book, I listed all the ways Jim and I had communicated (plus others I’d observed in other couples) that created hurt and distance, rather than connection.  That list includes sarcasm, name calling, accusatory “you” statements, interrupting, talking over each other, bringing up a laundry list of complaints, and many more.

Recovering the first love we’d experienced meant exchanging distancing methods of communication with connecting methods of communication.  We learned to deliver our thoughts, feelings, concerns and desires with words and attitude that helped us hear each other’s point of view and conveyed the value in which one held the other.

As a result, the love that had nearly died under the scorching onslaught of our anger returned with even greater depth and power than before.

This transformative process is available to anyone who wants it!  I have been teaching these powerful skills in classes and in private coaching sessions for more than 25 years…all the time wishing I had a way to teach thousands of couples rather than just one or a few at a time.

The Millionaire Marriage Club will start in a few short days!  In the Club COURSE, you’ll find brief, easy video lessons that teach you these powerful skills.  The Club GAME will help you painlessly put those new skills into practice.  The Club offers SUPPORT that most people need while making the transformation real in your marriage.

In my next post you’ll learn more about the Millionaire Marriage Club.  You’ll be offered an invitation to a free introductory webinar where you’ll learn a skill that can significantly reduce the number of misunderstandings between you.

Are you feeling a stirring of hope?  Yay! The answers you’ve been seeking are on the way!  

Click this link to receive a free copy of “Communication Methods that Create Distance” and learn how to communicate in a way that creates connection.

#2 in Series: Let’s Face It!

Our culture is full of marriages that are less than inspiring!  Precious few of us were reared by parents who were obviously in love and stayed in love over time.  When I ask new clients if they know anyone in their circle of friends that has a marriage they admire, so far, all have said, “No.”

And yet K. Daniel O’Leary of Stony Brook University recently published the results of interviews of couples married for ten years and discovered that 40% of them were “very intensely in love,” the highest rating offered.  And 15% of those interviewed chose the next highest rating.  The biggest surprise came when the couples who had been married 30 years or more chose the highest rating of love!

It’s clear that some couples know how to create a happy, loving marriage…or learn how to over time.  What do these couples practice that is missing from many of our parents’ or friends’ marriages?

A few of the qualities isolated by this study are: thinking consistently positive thoughts about your partner, enjoying activities together, spending lots of time together, expressing affection daily, making love regularly.  John Gottman’s studies added other aspects:  being able to resolve conflict while maintaining respect and affection for each other and being willing to be influenced by your partner.

Based on these research results, having a marriage that is, and stays intensely in love IS POSSIBLE!

But how?  The high rates of divorce indicate that a lot of folks think the only way to have an intensely loving marriage is to find a new partner.  One of my friends did just that.  Then five years later admitted that he and his “better” wife were dealing with the same issues he thought he’d left behind when he divorced his first wife!  Meanwhile the daughter from the first marriage had to grow up with the nasty job of learning to navigate between two bitterly enmeshed parents…hardly a skill that would prepare her for a happy, loving marriage of her own!

Many parents, like my friend, believe that the children would be better off without the conflict being experienced between their parents and use that as a valid reason for divorcing.  Children living in an environment of physical violence and/or sexual abuse do need the relief provided by separating the abusive parent/s.  But occasional arguments, drifting apart, the love has gone, possibly the silent treatment still give children the basic level of stability that every child deserves.  The most long-term damage to children occurs when divorce doesn’t seem to make sense to them.

Those relatively low-conflict, not intensely in love marriages are the ones that are the best candidates for learning skills that will up-level their relationship from unhappy, or tolerable to intensely loving!

Does your marriage fall into that category?  Just unhappy? Far from what you hoped for when you married?

We are “in love” or “out of love” based on how we treat each other.  So join the growing ranks of couples who fell in love all over again by practicing new communication and conflict management skills.

The link to a FREE DOWNLOAD is a Marriage Wheel…a simple way for you and your spouse to each evaluate the areas of your marriage that work well and those that need some added attention.  Print two copies. After you each record what is true for you, share the information with each other…not as a way to criticize, but as a simple way to say “Here’s is where we are.”  And, “I’d like us to find ways to improve in these areas.”

The Wheel of Marriage

You won’t want to miss information about a simple and cost-effective program that will teach you transformative skills that will help you both reach a  10 in all areas of your marriage!

 

#1 in Series: It’s Not Your Fault!

Unhappy with your marriage?  Have the same fight over and over again?  Has romance become more of a dry business arrangement?  It’s not your fault!

For centuries whether or not a marriage was “good” for both partners (meaning loving) was largely a matter of luck.  If a marriage became “bad,” or either partner was unhappy, the only solutions were to stick it out or leave…and until no-fault divorce laws were passed, leaving was often impossible.  AND the long-term fall-out from most divorces means that often that solution creates more problems than it solves.

It’s only been the last hundred years or so that our expectations for every marriage have included ongoing romance, sexual fulfillment and emotional connection.

Beginning in the early 1900’s, researchers began to study the difference between marriages that were happy, vs. those that weren’t.  What elements are consistently found in happy marriages that are absent in unhappy ones?  What methods of communicating are found in happy vs. unhappy marriages?  How are problems resolved in each?

GOOD NEWS:  The combined results of multiple research studies have found the same answers.  Great marriages that last have certain consistent patterns of behavior.  Marriages that fail or are unhappy also have consistent patterns of behavior.

And better yet, those who are unhappy with their quality of their marriage can learn to duplicate the behaviors found in great marriages in order to turn an inadequate or struggling marriage into a great one!

From my colleague, Diane Sollee (www.smartmarriages.com) “Marriage is skill-based. Like football.  The way we have it set up now a couple gets married, and we send them out there to win based on love and commitment.  That’s like asking a football team to win on team spirit, but not letting them learn any plays or signals.  The basis for a smart marriage is exciting research that finds that what is different about marriages that make it—that go the distance and stay happy—are behaviors or skills.  And even more exiting, they are simple skills that any fool can learn!”

But how were you to know this?  Research studies are buried in university libraries.  The classes that teach these winning skills, although good, are still not well known.  Most therapists are not trained to teach couples these skills.  There are only a few private coaches, like me, that specialize in training couples in the behaviors that will transform their marriage from mediocre or “bad” to great. 

NO MORE SEARCHING FOR HELP!  Soon you can learn how to duplicate the practices consistently found in great marriages from the privacy of your own home computer!

Watch for my next post… good news is coming!  

Click on this link to accept my gift to you, “What Our Parents Didn’t Know,”  a chapter from my book How to Stay Married & Love It! 

Only One Soul Mate?

There seems to be a popular myth/belief being propagated by movies and other media that there is only one soul mate on the earth per person.  If I were to believe this, I would feel very tentative about developing a relationship with anyone, let alone someone with flaws.

If I “fell in love” and committed to a relationship that later ran into conflicts, rather than knowing this is normal and we’ll work it out, I’d tend to believe that I jumped the gun and married the wrong person.  I’d leave that relationship and go back to hunting for Mr/Mrs Right.

Sometimes it’s true that in our inexperience, or from our own level of dysfunction, we choose a person who is poor commitment material.  Over time addictions or patterns of abuse show up that make a healthy relationship unattainable.  But most problems/conflicts are only a call to personal and couple growth.

In choosing a life-time partner it’s certainly important to find someone who shares one’s values, who exhibits a significant level of responsibility and who demonstrates the capacity to be caring and, at times, selfless in their relationships.  Hopefully you’d attend a marriage prep class or a relationship skills class to be sure you had the communication, conflict management and problem solving skills needed in any lifetime relationship.

With those items checked off the essentials list and assuming there’s a level of chemistry that makes commitment desirable, you can know that your chances of a satisfying marriage and life together are very good.

Are you allowing a cultural fad to create fear around finding a suitable mate?  Are you looking for a way out of a relationship because you have unrealistic expectations that a soul mate relationship wouldn’t have challenges?

How to Stay Married & Love It! Describes how to create the SoulMate marriage of your dreams even if your marriage is currently unhappy! (LINK)  This book is a must read for ideas about how to choose a partner that will go the distance with you: Smart Marriage, Using your Head as Well as Your Heart to Find Wedded Bliss. By Allen Parkman, Ph.D., J.D. eBook on Amazon. (LINK)

Please Change!

It seems to be human nature to believe that if the other person would just change, (come home on time, quit nagging, be more financially responsible, keep the home neater, be more loving) my life would be happy, I would be content.

Yet many times I’ve seen someone make an attempt to change to satisfy a complaint and the partner says, “I don’t believe you’re sincere,” or “It’s not good enough,” or “When this new behavior is consistent, then I’ll express appreciation.” Habit changes come in small bites. 

It’s smart to look at methods that help habit changes succeed. In cooperating in a habit change that you both agree would benefit your relationship, (the first step) it helps to have the person who’s habit needs to change to give you a way to remind them that doesn’t feel like nagging.  It might be a nonsense code word like “peanuts” to remind him that his socks need to go into the hamper or a gentle touch to remind her to stop back-seat driving.  When the one who has agreed to change the habit has control over choosing a reminder, there is less resistance to being reminded.

In addition, the habit-changer needs to choose a kind of reward that is motivating for him/her.  For some it may be a big hug when you notice that the socks are in the hamper.  For another it might be a word of appreciation when a trip has been concluded without back-seat driving.  Choosing the method of reward builds one little success after another until the new habit is more dependable.  Learn more about no-nag habit changing in Module 8 of Millionaire Marriage Club.

In addition, it might be prudent to look at a behavior your partner would like you to change. Do you find it easy?  Would you like to choose a reminder and a reward for making the effort to change an annoying habit?

*Free Download: The No-Nag Habit Change Strategy!

Differences Can Be Scary

My late husband Jim’s father was a gifted mechanic.  All of his life he worked as a machinist.   He could fix anything with a motor or wheels.  Jim inherited his father’s work ethic and values, but was lost when it came to fixing his scooter or knowing what to do with a broken lawn mower.  His dad couldn’t hide his disappointment, and sometimes even anger, over Jim’s lack of instinct about mechanical things.

Jim began his singing career at the age of five by singing to the chickens. It wasn’t until high school, however, that his amazing voice began to be noticed in a big way. He was one of the first in his family to graduate from college, even getting a Masters Degree in Voice and Church Music. His father didn’t come to his Masters Recital, an event that filled the huge college auditorium.  He eventually recorded seven gospel albums featuring his gorgeous baritone voice.

In contrast, a story in the September 2013 Guideposts magazine tells about TV’s Mike Rowe and his relationship with his grandfather.  His grandfather could build anything…anything!  Whenever young Mike tried to help him, he’d muff the job.  Once at the height of discouragement, Mike said, “I can’t do anything right!”

His grandfather said, “God gave me a toolbox, Mike.  He gave you one too.  But he didn’t give us the same one.  You understand?”

Mike didn’t understand that day, but over time gained appreciation for the tools he had: a great voice (he sang professionally for several years) and a natural way of smiling and talking with folks.  He eventually designed and hosted a show called *Somebody’s Gotta Do It”–short profiles of people who do the tough jobs…like his grandfather.  Eventually that led to Discovery Channel’s *Dirty Jobs.

Near the end of Jim’s father’s life, he apologized.  He admitted, “I was wrong. I’m sorry I didn’t support your gifts.”  It meant a lot for Jim to hear that apology, but not as much as it would have meant to get his dad’s interest and pride all the years that went before.

Is there someone near you who’s gifts need encouragement?  Might you possibly be blind to her gifts because they are different than yours?

*Free Download: Giving and Receiving Appreciation