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Checklist for Healthy Families

It’s easy to get caught up in the blame-game. It’s easy to focus on what our partner does wrong, the things that frustrate us, the things that make us angry. But if we all spent a little time and energy focusing on what our partner does right, what makes us feel good and loved, we’d all be a lot happier. This checklist for healthy families is designed to help couples and families work on the positive aspects of their relationships so that the good will so outweigh the bad that the bad won’t even be noticeable. Print this list and tape it to your bathroom mirror, or your closet door, or your dashboard – somewhere you will see it and read it on a daily basis. Make it a priority to try and work on one item a day. If you do, you will be surprised at the difference you will see in your day to day life.

1. Work on positives; eliminate negatives. Successful adults are people who grew up in homes that kept positive focus.

2. “Act as if…” Decide that your day will be a good one and act accordingly. Act as if you want to get out of bed. Act as if things will go well. This exercise sometimes brings astounding results.

3. Live in the NOW. Focusing on the past or future is an unhealthy practice. Successful families live in the present.

4. Learn to process anger. When the feeling comes, say, “I feel furious! What you have done enrages me!” This is much more effective than calling the offender names, and it still allows for the release of powerful emotions that must be expressed.

5. Make a list of at least eighteen things that especially please you. Spouses who make and share such lists with each other often find real surprises – and find new ways to enjoy each other.

6. Know where you are going. Families need to meet and talk together to establish agreed-upon goals for themselves.

7. Take the initiative. Make plans for the family. Think of things to do and places to go.

8. Practice good communication. Make plans as a family. Share the planning activities regularly. Sit down for full-fledged conversations. Practice writing out things you want to say to each other. Remember that listening is nine-tenths of good communication.

9. Avoid accusation, blaming, and name-calling. The hallmark of emotional maturity is the ability to accept responsibility for oneself, eliminating the need for a scapegoat.

10. Don’t be afraid to seek help in formal or informal settings. In my own effort to grow as a person, I have found that professional help from time to time expedites the maturing process. I know I need help: from God, from trusted friends, and from competent therapists.

Tips for Preventing Divorce

Someone sent this wise bit of advice to me via email recently, but I can’t recall who it was. If it was you, please let me know! — RMS

Tips for Preventing Divorce

One in two marriages ends in divorce. Given those odds, it’s easy to think of marriage as a gamble. However, by taking a few basic steps, you can raise your odds considerably. Here are four ways to make sure your marriage can weather any storm.

1.  Have fun together
The number one difference between couples that stay together and split up is how much fun they have together. It may sound obvious, but as responsibilities mount, it can be easy to view your spouse as more of a business partner than a life partner. Find fun things to do together as often as possible. If your marriage is missing the fun ingredient, start small. Check out a new restaurant together, spend a day at the beach, or go to a baseball game. Keep your expectations low and concentrate on just enjoying each other.

2.  Learn your spouse’s language
Everyone has a slightly different definition of love. Some people see gifts as the ultimate expression of love, while others see quality time as the key ingredient. Renowned marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman describes these different preferences as “love languages.” Learn the language that resonates most with your spouse and you will experience less tension and a tighter connection. To find out what love language resonates most with your spouse, ask them to take this test.

3.  Schedule your arguments
It’s natural, even healthy to argue with your spouse. However, fighting in the wrong way can tear your marriage apart. Fighting without boundaries or without a clear goal of what needs to be worked out can make a bad situation worse. Make a rule in your marriage that whenever tempers flare, either person can call a timeout and schedule an official fight. For instance, you can say, “I can see that this is not getting solved tonight. Let’s collect our thoughts and discuss this tomorrow night.” When you show up to the “official” fight, come prepared. Write down exactly what bothers you, and more importantly, what you are prepared to concede. Then, agree on some ground rules for the discussion. For instance, you might decide not to interrupt each other and not to issue personal attacks.

4.  Surprise your spouse once in a while
A successful marriage is usually based on solid routines. And, over time, you may feel that you know everything there is to know about your spouse. However, as the old saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.” Make an effort to maintain the mystery in your marriage by surprising your spouse every once in a while. Learn a new skill, plan a spontaneous vacation, or do something positive that is completely out of character every once in a while. Keeping your spouse slightly off balance will give them a chance to rediscover their love for you over and over again.

The caring family law attorneys at The Law Collaborative have been responsible for saving numerous marriages from divorce by providing insights like these.  I encourage you to consider taking our Pre-Divorce Survey if you have any doubt about going forward with a divorce.

Money Talks = Happy Marriage

Ron Lieber, writer of Your Money for The New York Times wrote, “Divorce tends to be emotionally gut-wrenching for the people who go through it (not to mention those around them). But most couples don’t realize that divorce can also be among the most ruinous financial moves anyone can make.

So how do we avoid divorce?  According to Lieber, you can lower your chances of divorce by talking about money before you get married.  He shares four specific topics he believes should be at the top of your discussion list and I’m sharing them here because I think they should be at the top of your discussion list whether you’re engaged, happily married, thinking about divorce, in the middle of a divorce, or somewhere in between.  Click here to read on.