Friday, September 14, 2012

Dr. Gary Chapman: Top 10 Marriage/Relationship Lessons Learned

Last weekend, I had the fun experience of driving 5 hours to see one of my favorite authors, Gary Chapman (the author of the Five Love Languages). If you have read anything of his, then you know what a relationship and love guru he is.  As a 17-and 18-year-old working in a bookstore, I would sit in the aisle and pour over Dr. Chapman's words, take his quiz to find out what my love language was (Words of Affirmation), and take lessons to heart that I knew I would pull out again when I found a true, lasting relationship.

So, when I saw on his Facebook page that he would be in Mississippi, I knew I just had to be there. Who cares I only had 3 days to plan the trip, who cares that it was a 10 hour round-trip drive. I had to be there. This was my chance to see the author that I recommended to everyone, and taught me all the things He Wished He'd Known Before He Got Married. I was NOT going to miss this conference!

Unfortunately, Shane could not join me on my expedition, so I called my friend, Jill, who is also a Dr. Chapman super-fan. Bought the tickets, booked a hotel for Friday night, and we were set!

The conference was based on one of his books, The Marriage You've Always Wanted. Although Shane and Jill's fiance were not with us, we were thankful to get lots of great knowledge to take home and share with our significant others. (Hey, the price of a conference to get pre-pre-marital counseling? Yes, please!)

I learned so much at this conference, I could talk for days- but to save you from having to read all that, I've summed up the top things I learned from Dr. Chapman's conference. After reading them, I'm sure you will not resist the urge to go buy one or all of his books!

1. Invest in your partner's interest. Shane loves football- It's not really my thing. I still will watch a game with him, ask questions (during commercials), and find really great tailgating recipes to whip up!

2. Read a book together. When I suggested Shane and I do this on Monday night, he said, "But Dr. Chapman said that you should invest in my interests! Monday Night Football is on!" Touche... We read on Tuesday night instead :)

3. People argue for the sake of winning. Well, if you win the argument, then your spouse loses. Who wants to be married to a loser?

4. The most important sentence for any man to learn is, "Honey, What you're saying makes a lot of sense." It will make you automatically go from enemy to friend. Every woman wants to know that her feelings are validated.

5. When you get home in the evening, ask your spouse three things that happened to them and how they felt about each one. By doing this, you will automatically talk more than 50% of married couples!

6. This is very unlikely, but let's say your spouse really is 95% of the problem in your marriage. That would still mean you take 5% of the blame... so go ahead and work on what you have power over, fix your 5% and your marriage will automatically get 5% better!

7.Wisdom always seeks help. Mature people are the ones who are always trying to learn. Dr. Chapman even went so far as to say the people at the conference weren't the ones in their peer groups who needed to be there the most. The people who need marital help the most are usually not so willing to seek it out.

8. When you are in public, BRAG ON YOUR MATE! If your wife isn't a good cook, around your friends you should be saying, "Sally is the best hot dog chef I've ever met!" Not, "Ooh, Sally, she can't even reheat leftovers! The people at McDonanald's know us by name now!" She may laugh in the moment, but what she really needs is for everyone to know how much she is adored by you.

9. If you have grown to be a particularly nagging spouse (or couple), schedule a time for criticism. Each couple gets to give 1 criticism a week, but it must be preceded with 3 compliments. For example, "Honey, I really love that you always hang up your towel after you shower, you always smell so good, and you never leave the house without kissing me and telling me you love me. However, do you think you could work on cleaning out your hairs in the sink?" An overdose of criticism will kill their motivation to change.

10. Love is a way of thinking, "I am married to you... How can I help you? How can I be a better wife? How can I enhance your life?

Do any of these stick out to you? Do you have your own favorite lessons learned from Dr. Chapman (or elsewhere)?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Down With a Case of the Hobby-Less Blues

I came to a sad realization yesterday. I have no hobbies.

I guess I should have prefaced that thought with the fact that it came to me after a very long day of doing complete nothingness on the couch in front of the television. It was me, Simon the Papillion, and Dance Moms. For hour after hour.

During commercials, I did some crunches and bicycles (yes, that was the extent of my exertion yesterday), but with the day off from work, Shane coaching football, and I already spent (cough cough more than cough cough) my shopping budget earlier in the weekend (hello, sale rack and Gap and the Limited!), I wasn't left with too many choices. I thought about riding my bike... but it was hot out and I didn't want to go solo in the event the nasty dog down the road decided to chase after me again (at notable speed, I might add). I read some of my book, cooked lunch, and cleaned up my house a bit. But there was an impressive amount of Lifetime and TLC constantly on in the background.

By the time 3 and 4 o'clock rolled around, I felt pretty crappy! I had done literally zilch all day, and although I was thankful for a relaxing day- this was not how I imagined to feel about my day off.

In the early evening, I drove to CVS with Shane to pick up a couple things. I felt drained from my day off, slightly melancholy, and didn't have much to talk about because, well- you already know how exciting the previous hours of my day were.

This was when I realized I have no hobbies.

Sure, I like to read, I have my favorite shows, I enjoy a good walk. But there are not many productive things I enjoy doing and can do often. I'm sure shopping doesn't count, I tried needlepoint one time... it didn't last long, and I like to cook and bake when a good recipe tickles my fancy that doesn't call for ridiculous items.

I told Shane I want a sewing machine (yes, he is aware he is dating someone stuck in the 50's), but I will need to figure out how to use one, first. My grandmother was a seamstress by trade, and a great one at that. My mother however, seemed to skip over those dining room lessons. Ask her if she knows how to thread her sewing machine... just ask her. Decorating, throwing parties, puffy painting my name on each and every one of my elementary school supplies... now, those are my mother's strengths. Domestic life? She is much too sassy for all that jazz! (Suffice it to say, I won't be learning these sewing lessons from her!)

Do you think a sewing machine would solve my no-hobby woes, or put me in more of a frustrated quandary? I like to hand-stitch things, I enjoy doing crafts when I know how to make them great, I would LOVE to brag about the great skirt I will wear. "Oh, this thing? It's mine... as in, I made it." 

I'm sure my grandmother would be proud. My mom always says I take after her a whole lot, especially for never having known her.

What do you enjoy doing that takes you away from the mundane?