Articles for Married Couples

Everything listed under: friends

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    Tips for Caregivers During the Holidays

    If you've ever spent the holiday season caring for a sick loved one or friend, you know how stressful it can be when caregiving tasks already fill your day. Heap the expectations of a joy-filled season on top of that, and there is real potential for feelings of guilt, anger, resentment and complete fatigue to take over.

    Many caregivers are constantly exhausted, and sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other seems daunting. It can be tempting to hide away until after the holidays to avoid dealing with the added stress. If you can relate, these suggestions may help you navigate the season with a different mindset.

    • Give yourself permission to put self-care at the top of the list. You probably know that you can’t give what you don’t have to others, but that is just plain easier said than done. Some family and friends may have more flexibility to give you much-needed breaks to exercise, sleep, treat yourself to some time with friends or to just do nothing. 
    • Instead of trying to do it all yourself, let someone help. Driving to doctor visits, picking up prescriptions, changing beds, grocery shopping, fixing meals and keeping the house clean can keep you going 24/7. Friends are usually looking for ways to be helpful, especially during the holidays. It will bless you both if you take them up on their offers or ask for what you need. 
    • Think about what makes your heart happy when it comes to celebrating the holidays. Do those things and eliminate the rest even though you might want to do more. Instead of doing all the decorating, ask a friend if they would do it for you. Send an email instead of cards or have someone help you address envelopes. If hosting the annual holiday gathering feels like too much to handle this year, ask someone else to host. If you still want to host but want less responsibility, let others bring the food.
    • Take control of your mind and guard against negative self-talk. If you typically do everything yourself, this can be a particularly complicated time of year. On one hand, you know you need help, but on the other hand, you hate to seem needy. Healthy people ask for what they need and don’t feel guilty about it.

    Caring for a loved one goes on for a season, and that time period may be months or years. Whatever the time frame, most people understand how hard it is, and there are often many people in your life who are willing to help you shoulder some of the load so that in the end you don’t end up sacrificing yourself in the name of caring for the one you love. 

    Click here to read the entire article, which was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on December 9, 2018.

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    The Most Important New Year's Resolution

    When a new year dawns, people often reminisce about all they have experienced during the past year. Others consider whether or not to make the usual and customary New Year’s resolutions. You know the ones - exercise more, eat healthier, organize better and spend less. 

    Contemplating another year makes me thoughtful. The past year has been a hectic one. In addition to the day-in and day-out routines of life, there have been exciting and scary moments, a few once in a lifetime opportunities and amazing celebrations. One thing stands out though - the unexpected goodbyes I have said to a number of people.

    Most of us probably live life at a pretty fast pace. This year I have come face to face with how easy it is to take tomorrow for granted when it comes to relationships. For example, I recently saw a friend in the grocery store. We’ve mentioned getting together for coffee for months. We laughed about it, but in my heart I asked, “How can I be so busy that I can’t find time for coffee with my friend whom I love?” 

    My husband and I frequently talk at dinner about inviting friends over, but I know that if I don’t grab my calendar and look at dates, we’ll be having the same conversation about the same group of friends six months from now.

    Here’s what I think bothers me the most about this:  Not only is my life’s work all about healthy relationships, but I have also been blessed with many special people in my life. No question about it, I thrive on relationship. As I have come face to face with losing people who are close to me, it has hit me like a ton of bricks that life really is short and there is no promise of tomorrow.

    New Year’s resolutions aren’t necessarily my thing, but on the eve of a new year, I am absolutely resolved to spend more time with the ones I love. 

    I remember reading “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying - A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing,” written by Bronnie Ware, a hospice nurse who interviewed hundreds of her patients. It was interesting to me that all of the regrets really had to do with living life to the fullest with the people in your life. Every male patient (and many women, too) Ware cared for said they wished they hadn’t worked so hard but had spent more time with their loved ones instead. 

    Another regret was not realizing the full blessing of friends until they were facing death. Many said they had gotten so caught up in life that their friendships had been sidelined. Yet in the end when they were getting their affairs in order, the money or status weren’t what was most important to them - but the relationships were.

    I don’t want to look back with regret when it comes to the relationships in my life. I am definitely taking some intentional steps about creating space for the relationships that speak life to me.

    I hope the new year2018 brings you many blessings, including those of love and relationship.

    Happy New Year!

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    Are Opposite-Sex Friends OK?

    As people marry later in life, many are bringing long-term opposite-sex friendships into their marriage relationship. While the friendships were great during singlehood, in marriage, these relationships may prove problematic.

    “I think it is OK for married people to have opposite-sex friends,” says Lisa Stewart. “However, I believe out of respect for your spouse that even if you were close friends before the marriage, there ought to be strong boundaries around that relationship.

    “For example, I would not be comfortable with my husband meeting a woman for coffee on a regular basis to talk about what is going on in his life. That is a conversation he ought to be having with me.”

    “It is possible for married people to have healthy opposite-sex friendships,” says Dr. Todd E. Linaman, founder of Relational Advantage. “However, give special consideration to a number of factors that, if ignored, can potentially threaten your marriage.”

    Wondering whether or not a close friendship with someone of the opposite-sex poses a threat to your marriage? If so, Linaman offers 20 questions for you to answer. Here are a few of them:

    • Is your mate unaware of your opposite-sex friendship?
    • Would you behave differently around your friend if your partner were present?
    • Would you feel uncomfortable if your fiancé or spouse had the same quality of friendship with someone of the opposite sex?
    • Do you have a physical and/or emotional attraction to your friend?
    • Do you ever compare your mate to your friend?
    • Have you ever entertained romantic fantasies about your friend?
    • Do you and your friend ever exchange highly personal details about your lives or complain about your relationships to each other?

    “If you answered 'yes' to one or more of the questions above, your opposite-sex friendship may be a real threat to the quality of your marriage,” Linaman says. “It may even be in the best interest of your marriage to either significantly limit or actually end your close friendship.”

    An informal survey shows that both married men and women were uncomfortable with their spouse having close friendships with the opposite sex. Not all opposite-sex friendships are dangerous, but it is important to err on the side of caution. It is helpful to discuss the nature of your friendship on a regular basis with your spouse. If not kept in check, a totally innocent relationship could end up causing unnecessary harm to your marriage.

    “I think it is OK to have friendships with the opposite sex. But I don’t share with other women what I haven’t shared with my wife,” says Will Honeycutt. “I think sometimes it is healthy to get input from another female. But on a regular basis I should not be sharing intimate issues with a woman who is not my wife.”

    Here are Linaman's tips to help you manage opposite-sex friendships so they don't threaten your marriage relationship:

    • Develop and consistently nurture a “best friend” relationship with your mate.
    • Develop and consistently nurture close same-sex friendships.
    • Make sure your spouse knows your friend. Also, be certain your mate is completely comfortable with the type and level of interaction you have with him/her.
    • Honor your spouse’s wishes concerning your friendship – even if it means ending it.
    • Avoid establishing close friendships with opposite-sex singles.
    • Avoid close opposite-sex friendships if you are struggling in your marriage relationship.
    • Address unmet needs and unresolved anger in your marriage with your spouse in an open, honest and timely fashion.

    While opposite-sex friendships do have the potential to create problems in a marriage, these friendships can enhance your relationship with your spouse if appropriate boundaries are in place. 


    Need some guidance in creating good, strong boundaries for your marriage? 

    Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists


    Inside, you'll find:

    • What a good boundary for your marriage looks like
    • Practical ways to build trust between you and your spouse
    • 4 ways to connect well with your spouse & strengthen your relationship well
    • How to create boundaries with the parents and the in-laws
    • The 4 main thefts of intimacy and how to protect your marriage from them
    • AND MORE!



    Want even more? Check out this JulieB TV video all about opposite-sex friendships!