Winnie's Blog

February 2012

Loving All Year Long


Happy Valentine?s Day!

Have you ever wondered how Valentine?s Day came about? According to www.history.com there are a number of interpretations on how it began.

No matter what story you choose to believe, the consensus seems to be that St. Valentine was martyred for reasons related to his convictions of love and relationships. He was an ultimate giver. Valentine?s Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate the people we love for just one day of the year. But what happens after Valentine?s Day? How can we continue being selfless givers the rest of the days of the year as well?

Time and time again, in our "I?m doing this for me? society, we forget that one of the principle foundations of lasting, solid relationships is selfless giving. Relationships can be extremely fulfilling, however, they can also become the greatest source of pain when they?re not going well. This is especially true when each partner becomes self-seeking.

In light of Valentine?s Day and our upcoming Family Day, on Feb. 20th, let?s cover some tips for strengthening marriages and relationships.

?Marriages and relationships need to be intentional, including words such as honour, respect, honesty, vulnerability, healthy, open communication and forgiveness.

?When we don?t agree with or understand a statement our spouse or partner makes, be intentionally curious rather than attacking or blaming. Ask them to clarify what you think you heard them say.

?Speak respectfully to one another even when disagreeing. Don?t call each other names, withhold love-making or point out weaknesses when arguing.

?Be honest in your communication even if it may hurt you or your spouse. Honesty, with pain, is far better than brewing distrust through deception. Be honest about your own personal struggles. Everyone has them.

?Don?t try to change your spouse or loved one! You can?t change anyone, so stop trying! Instead, change your own responses.

?You are the only one that can choose to react or respond to a situation. Reactions produce chaos; responses produce thought evoked action. An old wise proverb reads, "A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up anger.?

Honouring and giving to each other, meeting one another?s needs, knowing what each other?s needs are, communicating with honesty and respect and treating one another as cherished gifts are ways to enhance a relationship beyond Valentine?s Day.

May your Valentine?s Day and Family Day be one of celebrating your spouse and loved ones all year around!! Solid marriages make solid families and solid families make solid communities.

By: Winnie Visser in collaboration with Sharon Osvald

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Showing, Telling Love


Looking back and reviewing the topics shared on this blog, I realized the very first post back in October was about being intentional in our relationships.

The following quote from "The Word for You Today? (Canadian edition ? November 1, 2011) reminded me of the importance of this topic. It says, "Often our marriages are damaged not by big things like infidelity, abuse or abandonment ? but little things like criticism, lack of respect and taking each other for granted.?

Most of us can remember a time when we couldn't stop thinking about our loved one. Our long distance phone bills were out of this world! We knew everything about how their day went and what they were feeling.

As new parents we waited with great anticipation to see our children take their first steps and say their first words. But the newness and novelty fade and so often we forget. Instead, as we go about our days, we begin to slide into a pattern of apathy and carelessness. We stop listening ? really listening - not just to the words our spouses or children say, but the feelings and hopes behind those words. It is so easy to stop being mindful of the needs, disappointments and dreams of our spouses and children. It is equally easy to stop sharing our own hearts. As the above quote says, it isn?t the big things that break up families, but the slow and steady erosion of everyday life. How many times have you heard the words "I don?t know, we just grew apart,? by someone describing a break-up?

Sometimes we all need a reminder. Some of us need a wake-up call that happy families don?t just raise themselves. With February being the month of love, I would like to challenge you to really show and tell your love this month. Here is the challenge:

1.Put down the remote, the computer, the laundry or the telephone long enough to really ask your spouse or family how they are doing? Intimacy takes time and attention.

 

2.Don?t let your family members slide through life beside you. Engage them. Invite them to do things together ?even if it is just getting a hot chocolate or going for a drive to the lake. If this doesn?t work right away, be at their games, events and activities. Show them you want them IN your life, not just alongside it.

 

 

3.As parents, part of our role is to correct and discipline. However, it is not to critique, criticize, be-little and nag. If you have fallen into this habit, see it and change it. Discipline always goes hand-in-hand with un-conditional love. You can?t speak into someone?s life if they have tuned you out.

 

4.Ditto for your spouse. Criticizing and nagging your spouse in a manner that makes them feel small or stupid; especially in front of other people is not a great way to build a loving marriage. It is our job to build up and encourage our spouses. That?s what families are for.

 

By: Sharon Osvald in collaboration with Winnie Visser

 

 

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Principles for Real Living:

  1. I am responsible for my own attitude
  2. My attitude affects my actions
  3. I can not change others, but I can influence others
  4. My emotions do not control my actions
  5. Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I'm a failure
  6. Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world

Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman, Northfield Publishing, Chicago 1998, 2008