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Nothing like the hint of fall in the air to lift your spirits. I mean what could be better for your soul than sipping a pumpkin spice latte in front of a fire pit on a crisp evening? 

What? You don’t like pumpkin spice anything? No problem. There are plenty of other activities you can do with your family to create fun during this fall season. 

Here are 25 suggestions to get the pumpkin (I mean ball) rolling on your fall activities:

  1. Gather pine cones, slather creamy peanut butter on them, roll them in birdseed and hang them outside your window so you can watch the birds. OR give them to older folks in your neighborhood who can’t get out, but would enjoy seeing the birds.
  2. Once the leaves have fallen off the trees, gather the entire family to rake leaves into a huge pile. See how high and wide you can make the pile and then jump in it. An alternative could be that a couple of you make the pile and then hide in it until other family members walk past it. Then you jump out of it. That should make for a great game of chase. 😁
  3. If you’ve got littles, take them outside to gather different color leaves and then press them between two sheets of wax paper or put them underneath paper and let them rub crayon over the leaf to make an etching.
  4. Learn about vegetables that grow well in the fall and plant a fall garden. Let your kids educate you about how to do the planting, how many plants you need, how to care for the garden, and when things are ready to be picked.
  5. Take advantage of the clear nights to throw a blanket on the ground and do some stargazing. You can go old school and use a book or high-tech and use an app to find all the constellations. If you prefer to do something during the day, look at the cloud formations and play I Spy for formations that look like a horse, Barney, a tree, or leaves… you get the picture.
  6. Pack a picnic and head out for a hike to look at the fall colors and picnic at an overlook.
  7. Make a list of all your family’s favorite fall foods like pumpkin spice cookies, caramel apples, popcorn balls, pumpkin bread, apple pie, and apple spice cake. Let the baking be a family affair. Keep some and give some away.
  8. Find an older person who needs help with their yard. Take a day and work together as a family to spruce things up.
  9. Make leaf shapes from paper and have everybody write down things they are thankful for. Put them in a bowl, then open them up and read them at Thanksgiving dinner.
  10. Go old school and teach your kids games you used to play when you were their age—Kick the Can, Freeze Tag, Four Square, Jax, Marbles, Hop Scotch, Duck Duck Goose, Monkey in the Middle, Jump Rope or Double Dutch, Spud, Horse, Red Light Green Light, Freeze Dance, and Wiffle Ball ought to give you enough to keep them engaged for a while.
  11. Go for a walk and gather all kinds of things that are signs of fall like acorns, leaves, sticks, pine cones, seedpods, and nuts. Then make a fall wreath out of what you found.
  12. Create a fall yard display complete with a scarecrow.
  13. Have a contest to see who can come the closest to replicating their favorite fall drink.
  14. Build a fire in the fire pit and roast marshmallows and/or make S’mores.
  15. Since it gets dark earlier, go on a flashlight hike and see what kinds of things you can spot. You never know when you might encounter a raccoon, opossum, or skunk. (Pepé Le Pew!)
  16. For your little ones, trace their hand on a colorful sheet of construction paper and help them make a turkey out of their hand.
  17. Have a watercolor painting night for the family with a fall theme.
  18. Learn how to make bread. There is something about the smell of bread baking when you walk through the door that wakes up those taste buds. The best part though is eating it warm out of the oven. Pure happiness.  
  19. Have an ongoing board game competition with your family during the fall months. Maybe the overall winner gets their favorite meal made and served by everybody else.
  20. Decorate your bikes and go for a bike ride through the neighborhood.
  21. Choose some of the old-fashioned relays like the wheelbarrow race, three-legged race, egg/water balloon toss, egg and spoon relay, and crab race. Gather some of your extended family or framily (friends who are like family) and head to a large field where you have room to spread out and let the games begin.
  22. Visit an apple orchard and sample all the goodies. Take the apples you purchased and bob for apples with your feet.
  23. Create an outdoor obstacle course for the entire family to complete. Think Slip ‘n Slide meets mudder run and you’ve got some serious fun in the making.
  24. Make homemade hot chocolate complete with marshmallows and whipped cream and see who can make the best mustache while drinking it.
  25. Pitch a tent in the backyard. Hang a sheet from a tree and watch a movie OR learn how to make shadow figures.

All of these are pretty simple and fun things you can do with your family.

The best part though is that in the midst of creating all of this fun you are also teaching your children, listening to them, letting them lead, laughing together, modeling how to be a good loser and a humble winner, how to share, what to do when you disagree and how to be a good team player—just to name a few.

It’s been a year, to say the least. We all could use some fun right about now. So, work can wait. Put your phone down—except to take pictures of course and go all-in for some fall family fun and activities. You won’t regret it.

When your relationship has a high level of emotional intimacy, you share your feelings, needs, fears, successes, and failures knowing you will continue to be loved and cared for by your partner.

Building strong intimacy in your marriage can give your marriage the satisfying fulfillment you desire. 

Here are 6 exercises to strengthen emotional intimacy in your marriage:

1. Do something new and engaging together. 

  • Prepare new, exotic meals together from beginning to end. Search recipes for some cuisine the two of you would like to try. Together, buy the groceries, prepare the meal, and of course, eat together. 
  • Learn a new language together. Focus on learning relationship-specific words that will help you express appreciation, be affectionate, and flirt.
  • Create a marriage bucket list and then get started on completing your list.

Research shows that doing new activities can reignite the passion in your relationship. They help the two of you experience challenges, successes, and failures together. You’re able to see each other’s authentic self without the pressure of being perfect. 

2. Show affection. 

  • Each day, give each other a deep, passionate kiss for at least 20 seconds. Your body will release chemicals in your brain helping you to increase the connection between you. (We aren’t responsible for whatever happens next.😉 )
  • Each day, give each other a great big hug for a minimum of 20 seconds. This has a similar effect of increasing the bond and connectedness. Just good, old-fashioned affection.
  • Cuddle. Yes, that simple. Cuddle and rest in each other’s presence.

3. Do marriage enrichment together. 

All are good ways you can invest in your marriage to help you share, grow closer to each other and strengthen emotional intimacy.

4. Make time to talk.

  • Practice focused, uninterrupted talking and listening. Take 15-30 minutes each day to share whatever is on your heart. Your one goal is to make sure that each of you feels heard and understood. Some days the conversation may be a rundown of the day. Other days you may each reveal deeper levels of transparency and vulnerability. 
  • Be curious. Ask each other questions. Be vulnerable and transparent as you share your thoughts. Increase your intimacy with these 200 conversation starters for couples
  • Set aside regular time to connect. Dr. Linda Duncan, a marriage researcher and Professor Emeritus at Tarleton State University, shares that couples can build intimacy by intentionally connecting at four distinct points throughout their day: 1. When you wake up. 2. Before you depart for the day. 3. When you reconnect after work/school. 4. As you go to bed. 

How you connect at each of these four moments can have a tremendous impact on the intimacy within your relationship. “Connecting” can be as simple as getting your spouse a cup of coffee and saying “Good morning,” giving them a kiss goodbye, and saying “I love you,” giving them a hug when they get home, and some pillow talk before saying “goodnight.”

5. Celebrate your togetherness

  • Stroll down memory lane, revisit memorable date nights, or look at pictures and videos while reminiscing on the experiences you’ve shared. 
  • Take 15 minutes to exchange genuine compliments or express appreciation for each other.

6. Make the most of pillow talk

  • Eliminate the tech devices and potential distractions. Invest that time into one another. 
  • Give kids a bedtime or at least a quiet time when they are in their rooms for the night leading up to bedtime.
  • Share with each other how they can make you feel safe, cherished, and valued.
  • Talk about what arouses each of you.

Each of these 6 exercises on their own may not strengthen your emotional intimacy. However, if you do these with a heart of gratitude and appreciation toward your partner and you make them a habit, you’ll begin to feel closer and more connected. You’ll find yourself sharing more of yourself and getting to know your partner more fully. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

Have you ever gotten into bed, rolled over, and said “I miss you,” after sitting next to your spouse on the couch all evening? Or thought it silently to yourself as you question, “What did we even do? I mean we were next to each other—how can I miss them?Just being in the same room with your spouse doesn’t make you present with each other in ways that make your marriage stronger.

I know I’ve felt this when the busyness of life comes crashing in—uninvited and without warning. The circumstances right now in 2020 alone can cause all sorts of unrest, even in the places we’ve felt the most at home. There’s COVID and the adjustments constantly being made because of it, social justice at the forefront of conversations, political division, online schooling, and then there are your personal struggles outside of what’s going on in the world. 

All of these things can cause your relationship to feel robotic, like you are just going through the motions. It is monotonous, it’s boring, it lacks depth and it lacks the intimate connection you both need to enjoy life together—not just go through it together. 

The fix for this? Finding ways to be more present with your spouse. Think of it as the way you spend your time together. Quality over quantity… though if you can make time to have your cake and eat it, too, a high quantity of quality time sounds amazing.

Here are 4 Ways to Be More Present with Your Spouse:

1. Intentional conversation.

When you have time (make time) to catch up, do it intentionally. Turn the phones on silent or put them aside. Let the world take a backseat and really tune in to each other. “How are you feeling?” “What do you think about…?” “What was the best or worst part of your day and why?” “How can I be there for you?” “How can I show you I love you today?” Here are 20 questions you can ask each other besides, “How was your day?”

While you’re having conversations, hold hands, or place your hand on your spouse’s arm. Little moments of touch without distraction go a long way. Speaking of touch…

2. Touch.

Though being present with your spouse goes beyond being physically present, your body language and how you interact can say a lot about how you feel toward one another. If you’re both exhausted after a long day and just want to sit on the couch and watch a movie, do it! It doesn’t take much to communicate, “Hey I’m here with you and I want to be here.” Get close, cuddle up, and kiss a few times (or lots of times!)

A daily 6-second kiss will increase your emotional and physical intimacy. Hey! Research says that physical contact releases oxytocin (the bonding or trust hormone), and dopamine. This can improve your mood (for days at a time), and can help you stay calm. To top it off, something as simple as holding hands, hugging, getting close, and yes, making out, can lessen your stress hormones (cortisol) and enrich your sense of relationship satisfaction.

3. Pay attention to ways you can connect throughout the day…

Dr. Linda Duncan found four powerful ways for couples to connect throughout the day.  Being intentional about connecting at these times on a regular basis can increase the intimacy in your marriage and make your spouse feel like you’re present, not just there.

  • When you wake up, start with an “I love you,” a kiss or cuddling up beside your spouse (whichever is their cup of tea). Unless of course, they aren’t a morning person. Then maybe you just make the coffee and put a cup on the nightstand without saying a word. 😉
  • When you part for the day, even if you’re just sitting at the dining room table and your spouse is in the other room working from home, how you say see ya later sets the tone for how you think about your relationship throughout the day. The symbolic start of your workdays can be coupled with “Thanks for working so hard. I can’t wait to spend time together when you’re done with work.” Think about what you could say that would encourage and recognize your spouse.
  • How you greet each other once you’re done with work. A hug, kiss, or “I’m so glad you’re home!” are great ways to show you care and acknowledge your spouse coming home is important to you.
  • How you say goodnight is the last point of connectedness. Take a few moments between letting your head hit the pillow and falling asleep to talk about your day or your day tomorrow. Asking “Is there anything I can help you with tomorrow?” and ending with another “I love you.” (Because you can’t say it enough!) 

4. Make time for fun!

I know life is busy, but we make time for the things we care about, and being present with your spouse is one of those things for you or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. If you operate on opposite schedules, it may look like compromising some sleep and getting up earlier or going to sleep later. Maybe it’s a date night once a week or every other week. Having fun to look forward to will build anticipation, just be sure to talk about what you both want to do so there aren’t hidden expectations!

Incorporating a date night is essential! The New York Times writes about the importance of reinventing date night: “The theory is based on brain science. New experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the same brain circuits that are ignited in early romantic love…” When you have fond feelings for each other, being present will feel more natural and you’ll crave that kind of quality time. 

Being more present with your spouse doesn’t have to take a lot of time or energy. But it does take being intentional with the time and energy you can offer each other. 

Additional Blogs:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

I value my friend who reminded me that summer doesn’t end just because we start talking about our children going back to school. In fact, we are just one month into summer! Summer means different things for different people. For some, summer is about being footloose and fancy free. For others, summer is composed of trips to see family and friends. To me, summer is a time when my husband and I can do fun things together while our children spend quality time with their grandparents. And that means summer date nights!

However, this year, summer looks totally different from any other. Covid-19 has impacted many of the normal rites of passage for summer. It’s critical that we don’t allow these unusual circumstances to take ALL the fun out of summer. But I’m not going to let it—especially for me and my husband!

Here are some fun dates that every couple must do before summer ends:

Date Nights On the Town:

  1. Dessert Date. (Go get ice cream or cheesecake… and feed each other!) Start off by off by sharing your favorite desserts during this summer date! It can be anything from ice cream, cakes, pies, cupcakes, candy or delicious juicy fresh fruit (peaches, grapes, cherries, etc.). Or take it up a notch—once you have your dessert, use a sight inhibitor (blindfold) and feed each other. You have to guess what you are eating.
  2. Outdoors Date. (Hike, walk in woods, paddleboard, kayak, fishing or tubing!) Whether you like the beach or mountains, a steady lake or flowing river, getting in the great outdoors will bring you closer to nature and to each other. 
  3. Recreate Your First Date. Remember your first date? Think about the ambiance and the food. Try to recreate it at home
  4. Town Tour Date! Learn more about your community and each other by taking part in a walking tour in your hometown or somewhere nearby. Or create your own tour. Are you sure you have explored your town and each other?

At-Home Date Nights with A Meal:

  1. Have A Picnic. (In your backyard or a local park!) It can be a meal out of your kitchen or purchased from a local gourmet shoppe. Grab what you like to eat and drink and put it in a basket. Get a blanket or old comforter, then head out to your backyard, to the beach or a national or state park near you. Find the perfect spot and have your meal together.
  2. Breakfast Date. (Or dinner for breakfast… or breakfast for dinner!) Get together and create the menu for your favorite breakfast meal and have it for dinner. Or your favorite dinner and have it for breakfast. Think about it—breakfast for dinner, after DARK…

At-Home Date Nights without A Meal:

  1. Twinkle Twinkle Date. (You’re not too old for this one..)  Awake that inner child and create a fort in your living room. You know the drill—place a blanket in the middle of the floor. Put chairs around the blanket. Use sheets or blankets to create the top covering. If you have some twinkle lights or a flashlight around, use that to light up your space. (You can play a fun questioning game like Never Have I Ever or 20 Questions to learn more about each other.)
  2. Virtual Summer Date. (Click on some romance! Virtual Date Night or DIY Date!) First Things First is an organization which focuses on helping people to have healthy relationships. They have hosted virtual dates where couples learned to dance Salsa and Merengue and learned to make crêpes together. Additionally, they provide guides for DIY date nights. Check them out at FirstThings.org or on Facebook
  3. Game Night. (You don’t have to ever be board…) It’s time to dust off your favorite board or card game. Agree beforehand what the winner gets…
  4. Home Concert Date! (You don’t have to go to an arena to rock out…) For this date night, create a playlist of your favorite artist or your musical memories on a music streaming platform. It can be in your living room or under the stars in your backyard. Dance the night away in the arms of your honey. (You could even watch a concert on television and pretend that you are in the front row.)

No matter what is going on in the world, couples need to spend quality time having fun with each other. Play and fun builds intimacy and adventure in your relationship. 

Now, go have some FUN!

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COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! Through this course, you will learn:

  • How to establish healthy communication habits
  • The secrets to creating a deep connection through communication
  • Skills to help you (and your spouse) be a better speaker and listener
  • How to celebrate and understand your different communication styles
  • And so much more!

We are four months into the Coronavirus Pandemic. When it first began, we were so shocked by the shelter-in-place rules that we decided to embrace this interruption in our “normal” lives. We were intentional about dinners as a family, spending quality time with each other and we even began family projects. Now, our teens have had enough “togetherness.” They either want to enter the world again or they may be withdrawn. For us, we so enjoyed our time with our teens that we don’t want it to stop. 

How can you deepen your connection with your teen?

1. Let them know their friends are welcome.

I mean, who’s not up for a party? Be up for a friend gathering for s’mores, a cookout, or an outdoor movie. Let your house be the place they want to hang out and don’t let money get in the way. If you can’t afford to supply all the food yourself, have everyone bring something. The key is to set the wheels in motion. As an added bonus, you’ll get to know their friends, too. Make sure that you get the “thumbs-up” from parents and are aware of social distancing and mask recommendations in your community. 

2. Disconnect to connect.

Multi-tasking is a major conversation-killer. For example, if your teen hates it when you talk on the phone when they are in the car, they may have a valid point. Who wants to feel excluded from a conversation? So, try to intentionally avoid talking when you are riding together. You know that little button that lets people know you’re driving? Use it, and make the time together in the car count. You have a captive audience and precious time in the car, so use it wisely. This goes for the dinner table and the living room, too.

3. Respect their space. 

It is key that you respect your teen’s space if you want to deepen your connection with your teen. If you have no reason to question their safety, please allow them some room to have their own thoughts, dreams, and goals. Give them the time and space to be a young adult. The more that you crowd them, the less likely they will be to share with you or even spend time with you.

4. Listen to them, even when it’s difficult to just listen.

When our teens hurt, we hurt. It may be easy to go into “Protective Mode” or “Fix-It Mode.” What they need from you is to listen and help them process—not take over, freak out, ask a million questions, or launch into a lecture. 

5. Find out what they like to do and join (apps like Snapchat, TikTok, read the same book and discuss, re-decorate a room together, etc.)

This may not be second nature to you. You may find that liking a post or trying to keep a Snap Streak alive shows that you care (and if you mess up the streak, they’ll let you know, which shows that they care, too). Allow them to teach you a new popular dance, then dance with them in a crazy TikTok video. 

6. Get into their world, even if you don’t understand it. 

You may not be a big fan of video gaming, sports, or animé. You may even dismiss its usefulness in your teen’s life. However, they have meaning to your teen. Getting involved with things that are important to them demonstrates that you value their interests and so, value them. It may open the door for you to invite them to join you in things you do. They may actually shock you by saying “yes.” 

7. If you bake it, they will come (and maybe even talk).

I have NEVER had my teens turn me down for a little one-on-one time if there is food or dessert involved. You may actually get more than a one-word answer to a question. This may look a little different depending on which child I’m wooing, for sure. It can be as simple as warming a pecan pie for my high schooler or as involved as cooking hamburgers on the grill for my college graduate. Once you find what works, it’s a win. 

These are jus a few ways for parents to increase their quality time with their teens. It’s important to make the most of the time that you have left with them at home. Before you know it, they will be off to college, military, or the work world.  

Here are some other blogs that may help you deepen your connection with your teen:

HOW DO I GET MY TEEN TO TALK TO ME?

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY TEEN IS DEPRESSED?

I THINK COVID-19 HAS MADE MY TEEN HATE ME

HOW DO I STOP FIGHTING WITH MY TEEN?

PARENTING THROUGH FORTNITE

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I just want to feel our love—the love we are spending time, energy, and money on celebrating. I miss the lack of urgency in answering questions and exchanging our ideas to spark conversations instead of polite compromises. When I was in the midst of planning my wedding I didn’t prioritize quality time with my fiancé. When we saw each other it was business. We sat in the tension of wanting romance but not knowing how to be both productive and passionate about each other. Learn from my mistake and get you and yours on a date! 

The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia did a study on how date nights affect couples. According to the study The Date Night Opportunity by W. Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew (University of Virginia, 2012):

In these data sets, husbands’ and wives’ reports of couple time were associated with higher relationship quality. For example, Figure 1 shows that husbands and wives who engaged in couple time with their mates at least once a week were approximately 3.5 times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages, compared to those who enjoyed less quality time with their spouse.

You are preparing for marriage as you prepare for your wedding. You will be someone’s husband or wife. Take what you see from the research and practice this habit so that it becomes muscle memory for your marriage! Don’t let the quantity of time you’re spending together blur with the meaning of quality time with your fiancé. 

How to Spend Quality Time with Your Fiancé While Planning a Wedding:

  1. Go over both of your schedules together. If you are making time to plan, to grocery shop, or to hang out with friends then you can surely make time to be intentional with your future spouse! Re-allocate your time and try to spend time together at least once a week. P.S. Try your best to refrain from talking about the wedding during this time—unless it’s about how excited you are!
  1. Be intentional with your time. Now that you have carved out some precious time together, don’t waste it! Put up the screens and put in the effort. Talk about how you two can love each other well. If you don’t know what your love language is, take the test and find out. Enjoy falling in love with each other over and over again (as well as learning to love each other better and better.)
  1. Cultivate intimacy. To have intimacy you have to spend quality time together. Communicating your desires, thoughts, feelings, and needs effectively and often are a sure-fire way to keep your connection with each other close. In this same vein, pursue each other. There’s nothing like the feeling of being worth someone’s time and effort. When you pursue your spouse-to-be, you are communicating to them they are valuable and deserving of your love. And for goodness’ sake—kiss! “A daily 6-second kiss will increase your emotional and physical intimacy.” According to author Dr. Kory Floyd, physical contact releases oxytocin (the bonding or trust hormone), can improve your mood (for days at a time), and can help you stay calm. To top it off, something as simple as holding hands, hugging, getting close, and yes, making out, can lessen your stress hormones (cortisol) and enrich your sense of relationship satisfaction.

You have your life together ahead of you. Let’s start it out with some healthy habits and making sure your relationship is the priority.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to get the most quality out of your time set aside for each other, here is a link to date nights that perfectly mix together fun, romance, and facilitate natural connection… Pro-Tip: They’re free! (Which I know is a plus since weddings aren’t always cheap.)

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There’s a lot I’m going to miss about quarantine, but let me start off by saying… 

Yes, I’m an introvert.

No, I do not have kids.

Yes, I have been able to work from home.

And yes, I am incredibly grateful for all of the above right now.

But before you roll your eyes and exit out of this blog, hear this: Even if we’re all in a similar situation, remember that everyone faces their own set of challenges. 

Maybe you have young kids that are driving you crazy. 

Maybe you’re single and are feeling extremely lonely. 

Perhaps you and your spouse can’t seem to get on the same page. 

Maybe you’re a medical professional and the responsibility on your shoulders overwhelms you. 

Maybe you’ve lost your job and you fear the future.

Or maybe your environment is great, but you’re struggling to process all of the emotion, fear and transition.

All of us have been going through changes, whether good or bad. And no matter who you are, there have been a whole lot of obstacles in the past two months. I’m not here to ignore that fact! But all of us have also had the opportunity to reflect on our lives, make needed changes, and grow closer to our family and friends. And that’s just one thing I’m going to miss about quarantine.

  • I am going to miss the empty calendar. I love keeping busy, and I used to add unnecessary tasks on my calendar just to have something to fill it. So I’ll be the first to admit, all these slow-paced evenings stressed me out at first. But over time, it’s forced me to use my imagination, be intentional about connecting with others, and learn how to lean into boredom and use it to my advantage.
  • I am going to miss the days of soaking in some sunshine while I work. There’s no rushing from meeting to meeting. There’s not a pile of tasks that I can’t seem to focus on. But there is something about the birds chirping, the neighbors mowing their lawn, and cars driving by that provides a better stress-free soundtrack than I could ever make on Spotify. 
  • I am going to miss connecting with loved ones. The Zoom dinner parties. The family game nights. The quiet evenings to cuddle on the couch with my spouse and a good book… All of these have provided a sense of normalcy in a time of chaos.
  • I am going to miss the forced self-reflection. I am not one to enjoy self-reflection. It can be uncomfortable to feel so vulnerable and open. And don’t get me started about implementing change for self-growth… But over the past two months, I’ve learned to enjoy pushing myself to grow in ways I never would have seen without this time to reflect.
  • I am going to miss the creativity needed to figure out what to do next. Hear me out. Yes, it is stressful in the unknown. That will never change. But coming up with creative solutions to difficult problems is something to be proud of. It’s given me confidence in myself and my family to withstand hard things. I know that we will be okay as long as we’re willing to come together.

Now, you may be thinking, “Okay, but I am NOT going to miss having everyone cooped up day after day; I am NOT going to miss trying to figure out how to work; I’m NOT going to miss only being able to see people digitally; I am NOT going to miss all of these extreme emotions, and I am NOT going to miss having to sit in the unknown.”

And I hear you. It’s so easy to get stuck in this mindset of all the hard things, all the painful things, all the things we wish were different. But my challenge is this: Today, choose to find one thing that you will miss about quarantine and then choose to never let it stop.

None of these things have to end once the quarantine is over. There are 24 hours in every day, and we choose how to spend those hours.

We might have more things on the calendar, but we can say “no” when it’s getting too full.

Work might resume as normal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t spend the evenings off our phones, listening to the birds chirping, enjoying the company of the people around us.

When we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, we can prioritize self-care.

And when we’re facing hard times, we will get through them together. 

Remember: Just because we may get back to some sort of “normal” does not mean that things have to go back to how they used to be.

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Prior to this time in history, I would not have believed that it could be possible for my husband and I to spend too much time together. Life was more like, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder…” because of all the work and social engagements that filled my calendar. We are now living in a new reality. Today, we are living in a world of quarantine over-familiarity, which often breeds contempt

You may be feeling like a good long vacation away from your spouse is just what the doctor ordered and feeling guilty about even entertaining the idea. I mean, can anybody relate? Now, it’s like your spouse can’t do anything right. Just the way they say, “Good morning!” or “What’s on your agenda today?” In your mind, all you are thinking is, “Please, Please, PLEASE, stop TALKING to me. Your voice is IRRITATING.” 

OMG! Why is this happening? We’re not like this! Now I am asking myself…

Did I marry the wrong person?

Did we fall out of love with each other?

Is THIS the “new normal?”

There have been several articles referring to increased divorce filings as a result of COVID-19, specifically in China where there were over 300 divorce filings in three weeks. Other media outlets have sought to provide AWARENESS of the conditions that may create “impulsive divorce requests.”

So, the answer to the question is YES. It is possible for couples to spend too much time together. But, it isn’t necessarily a concern or cause for divorce. If you’re feeling this way,  here are a few things to think about:

You Are Not Alone. I know that sounds cliché. Many of us are going through the same things (too much togetherness, irritating behaviors from our spouse, being overwhelmed with work, home, family). We are ALL stressed or even traumatized by how radically our lives have changed. Be aware that stress has an impact on us physically as well as emotionally. 

Double-Check Your Perspective. Be careful what you look for, because you’ll find it. Fear and stress can make you focus on every little thing that is wrong. And remember the little things are being magnified. The differences that you and your spouse have are being exacerbated. It has been easy for me to take my feelings (anger, guilt, frustration, worry, fear) out on my spouse. 

Pre-COVID-19, we were accustomed to having a balance in our lives between our time together and our alone time. This lack of balance and the fact that it is all time together can make you notice the worst in each other.

Reach Out To Your Tribe. Talk to people in your circle that are for your marriage and who you can trust. Share your struggles. Ask them about what’s happening in their world. Ask, “How are you really doing?” How are other couples you know managing their day-to-day? Be careful—sometimes other people’s problems are contagious and suddenly become our problems.

It’s okay to take time out to have a ZOOM call with your friends or coordinate a FaceTime Tea Time or Google Hangouts Happy Hour. Talk to them about your stress, your concerns, or your fears. Now is when we need our good friends the most. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m struggling.” REMEMBER, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

Change Is Possible And Probable.

Some people may be thinking, once this quarantining is over, I am getting the heck out of this marriage. People harboring those feelings may mistakenly believe that it will be more of the same after quarantine. Proceed with extreme caution when it comes to making BIG, LIFE-ALTERING DECISIONS during or right after this experience. Give yourself and your spouse time to recalibrate your relationship. 

Make sure you are controlling your emotions and not letting your emotions control you. For some, it can be especially helpful, after a trauma such as this, to involve a counselor or therapist to assist you in your efforts to process what has happened and create a plan for moving forward. Here’s a great resource to help you figure out how to find a counselor that works for you and your spouse.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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For the past month, I have felt like it’s all been too much. Too much time in the house and too much money spent. Too much worry about when things will get back to “normal.” And, too much free time with nothing to do. If I am honest, too much time spent with my husband. And too much guilt for wanting some me-time.  

It is not selfish to take time apart for self-care.

I often believed that it was my job/responsibility to do and be everything that the people in my life needed (as a wife, mother, daughter, friend). I was tired, but I didn’t realize that you can’t give what you don’t have. As a result, I was resentful, and I expected everyone to do for me as I did for them. I hadn’t learned that self-care isn’t selfish. I had to find things that fulfilled me like reading, crocheting, and yoga. When my cup was full, it was easier to give freely to the people in my life. Especially, in the midst of COVID-19, we need to participate in activities that build us up physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s ok to do those things by yourself. Give your spouse space and time to do the same.

It is unrealistic to expect your spouse to be everything to you.

When we begin a new relationship, it is easy to focus all of our time, attention, and energy on that new relationship while neglecting established ones. It’s normal to want to spend time with that person. We even go and do things that we don’t like because they like them (i.e. shopping, watching sports, fishing, running, etc.). In the end, we set up this false expectation that we are always going to do everything together. Until it is said, I don’t really like college football. I only watched or went to the game because you liked it. Now, you feel hurt and betrayed. How can you prevent this from happening? Nurture all of your relationships even when starting a new one or an established one. 

Communicate your needs.

It is my responsibility to share with my spouse what I need. It is also my responsibility to recognize and respect the differences that my spouse and I have. I love shopping. I mean I love the hunt for a bargain. My husband’s shopping style is if you like it, buy it. So rather than be frustrated, I talked with my husband about it. He shared that the only reason that he goes shopping is because I like it. We agreed that it’s best if I go shopping with my bargain-hunting friend.

Conversely, he loves college football in the fall. I wasn’t a big fan, and I would feel neglected—like a “Saturday Widow.” He shared that this was a time for him to unwind. I understood his need, so that’s when my shopping trips would take place. We would get together after football and after shopping to recap our day. It was a win-win situation for both of us.

COVID-19 has changed our reality. When the “too-muchness” gets to you, take a few deep breaths. Go outside and feel the sun on your face and the breeze against your skin. Don’t feel guilty for wanting some me-time. Realize that this too shall pass. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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On average, how much time do you spend with your children each week?

How much time do your children think you spend with them?

You’ve probably heard that quality time with your children, not the quantity, is what really matters. A study published in the Youth and Society Journal, however, questions that line of thinking.

The study indicates that bullying behavior increases when children perceive that their dads are not spending enough time with them.

Andre Christie-Mizell is a psychologist and associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University. He studied the behavior and perceptions of 687 children ages 10 to 14 and living in two-parent homes in 2000. Plus, he looked at their parents’ work hours.

He asked:

  • What is the relationship between the number of hours parents work and adolescent bullying behavior? 

  • What is the relationship between bullying behavior and youths’ perceptions of the amount of time their parents spend with them?

Interestingly, he found that the child’s perception of how much time they spent with their fathers most impacted bullying behavior. This is exactly opposite of what expected to find. Since mothers usually spend the most time caring for children, Christie-Mizell thought the mother’s time away would be the determining factor.

“The findings about fathers and mothers are important because it turns what most of us think is conventional wisdom — that mothers have the most influence on children — on its ear. This research shows that while it’s equally important for kids to spend time with both parents, fathers need to make an extra effort,” Christie-Mizell says.

He suggests setting up a schedule for parent-child interaction in order to guide children’s perceptions. For example, you could reserve Saturday mornings for daddy-daughter dates or father-son time.

Christie-Mizell says the interaction has to be purposeful and scheduled. You can’t just rely on those random, last-minute trips with Dad to the grocery store.

“Children need to know they have this scheduled time. And it’s important for fathers to try to keep to the schedule as much as possible. If fathers have to miss, then it’s also important that they explain to the child why they have to miss their scheduled time and how what they are doing instead affects their family,” Christie-Mizell says.

A University of Michigan-Ann Arbor study explored time with Dad, too. It found that American kids in two-parent, intact families spend an average of 2.5 hours a day with their fathers on weekdays and 6.2 on weekends. For about half that time, fathers are directly engaging with the kids – playing, eating, shopping, watching television with them or working together around the house. The rest of the time, dads are nearby and available if their kids need them.

Children tend to do better in every area of life when dad is active in their lives. And believe it or not, dads are better off, too.

For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book “Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal” Download Here