09 Agustus 2008

What's the Secret to a Happy Marriage?

Marriage Partnership readers tell all!
By Dianne Barker

Earlier this year we asked, "What's your secret to a happy marriage?" We were overwhelmed by your creative responses. Peri Simmons of Tennessee wrote: "When my husband, David, and I were still single, a common whine we used to hear from 'old married couples' was, 'He's (or she's) not the same person I married.' When we got married, we agreed to remind ourselves, This is the same person I married; I just learned something more about him/her." Bill Stonebraker of Montana shared, "If we can't agree on an important issue, both of us pray, 'God, if I'm wrong, change my heart.' Usually God ends up changing both our hearts." Keep reading for more insightful responses.

The ability to laugh at ourselves or our situation has allowed us to keep things in perspective over the years. Sure we argue from time to time, but the overall theme of our marriage is joy and laughter.

—Darci and John Engle, Tennessee, married 10 years

Spiritual Discipline
We read one verse and give our thoughts on it and how we'll apply it in our lives. It's interesting what we've learned about each other this way. Occasionally we even pick the same verse, which is amazing.

—Steve and Helen Newton, North Carolina, married 12 years

We've always seen ourselves as a team. There isn't a "your side" and a "my side"—it always needs to be "our side." This attitude keeps our entire family strong.

—Cynthia and Jeff Jobe, California, married 25 years

Breathing Room
We allow each other our own space and way of doing things as much as possible. I let him be him and he lets me be me.

—Richard and Ruth Ann Danielson, Washington, married 38 years

I know this is cliché, but our secret really is communication. Lack of communication at best says, We don't need to talk, we already know everything about each other. How arrogant! A lifetime isn't enough to fully understand each other. At worst it says, I don't think my spouse is worth the effort of trying to understand; I've given up. It's only a short step from there to, We have nothing in common; we might as well end it. So we really make a point of keeping up the talking!

—Jai and Faith-Anne Reid, Ontario, Canada, married 12 years

We pray a lot together, for God's protection and blessings in our lives. We've adopted the motto: "I can't change my spouse, but through prayer, God can work on us both."

—Christopher and Carol Tucker, North Carolina, married 19 years

Knowing we're in it until death do us part means we're committed to our marriage and know we'll always work to resolve our differences. We made a vow before God, and we know that God's plan is for us to remain together forever.

—Erin and Mark Horaski, Washington, married 14 years

Are we arguing to resolve the conflict or win the fight? When we give an honest answer to that question, it helps us put the disagreement in perspective.

—Phyllis and Bob Schlageter, Indiana, married 29 years

From the beginning we viewed our marriage like a business partnership where each spouse brings a certain expertise. As in any good business, communication is a must. We also have to allow for growth, more in some areas than others depending on the season. We must be flexible to change—after all, life is a movement in the market of time, and changes will occur. So we have to expect the unexpected. These points aren't always easy to follow, but they work for us.

—David and Renée Steedly, Georgia, married 17 years

We're emotionally naked with each other. That kind of connection is built on trust, honesty, love, and effort—lots and lots of effort on both our parts. We don't believe in 50/50. We believe in 100/100.

—David and Ashley Hanson, Texas, married less than 1 year

Discover your spouse. Figure out what lights up his or her eyes and try to do something small every day to make that happen.

—Teresa and Mike Eastwood, Washington, married 3 years

We've learned to joyfully do the things the other doesn't enjoy doing. She makes dinner; I do the full clean up. I take care of car maintenance; she cleans the house. We share most things without needing to keep a tally of who did what.

—Bill and Carolyn Norris, British Columbia, Canada, married 30 years

Make your mate's needs your complete focus. Since this is a two-way street, your mate will be meeting your needs as you are meeting his or hers. It takes dedication, but the rewards are overwhelming.

—Michael and Jeanne Berry, Washington, married 30 years

Code Words
We have a few code phrases for when things start to get tense. They never fail to make us laugh at ourselves and remember we're in this by choice. Things such as, "Making diamonds, honey?" which means, You're being really uptight! Or "Be like a duck, honey"—let it roll off your back.

—Joe and Jaylene Lynch, Washington, married 5 years

Make your spouse your number one priority—even before yourself!

—Carm and Michelle Fenech, Malta, married 28 years

Bonding Time
When we had kids, we realized we weren't spending as much time together because we couldn't afford to get out as much. We established Thursday nights as on-the-couch date nights. After we put our three kids to bed, we eye each other and break into a huge grin. We put on our comfies, make popcorn, and cozy up on the couch to watch our favorite tv shows.

Our friends and family know about our sacred Thursdays and have stopped calling (we don't pick up) or trying to make plans with us for that night. It's a great bonding time, and you'd be amazed at how much talking can take place during commercials. It forces us to get straight to the point!

—Debbie Kroeker and Kevin Kilbrei, Manitoba, Canada, married 10 years

Four Phrases
We always try to live by four three-word phrases my wife's grand-father told us when he performed our wedding ceremony. He told us to say them every day and with a tender heart:

(1) I love you.

(2) I'm sorry.

(3) Please forgive me.

(4) Let's try again.

—Jerry and Janelle Banks, North Carolina, married 11 years

"The List"
Each month we write a list of things we'd like our spouse to do for us. It's always something we'd enjoy, usually one item per week. We print our lists and hang them on the bathroom mirror as a daily reminder.

—Angie and Keith Alford, Georgia, married 2 years

Don't Take for Granted
I'm an Army officer and have been in life-threatening situations many times. Afterward, I'm always struck by the overwhelming relief that my last words to my wife were not harsh. Each dangerous event serves as a constant reminder to avoid conflict with my wife and constantly show her how much I love her. The bottom line is that most things just aren't important enough to fight over.

—Rick and Angie Graham, Indiana, married 19 years

Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today International/Marriage Partnership magazine.

The Romance Factor

Use all five senses to connect with your spouse

By Twanda R. Smith

emember when you and your spouse were dating? When dinner was consumed to the strains of soft music instead of to Sponge Bob? In the day to day busyness of married life, romance is often the first thing to go. Yet the "Romance Factor" can have a high impact on the success of your marriage.

The Romance Factor encompasses much more than just sex. It invokes the five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. It's the emotional, spiritual, and physical connection between a husband and wife.

In my work as a romantic events planner and consultant, I discuss romantic preferences with a lot of husbands and wives. You might be surprised to hear that many men enjoy romance just as much as women!

Yet, many marriages neglect the Romance Factor. We're so busy with our children, houses, jobs, and church obligations, that we forget to reserve time just for our spouse. After a long day, we collapse into bed, exhausted. No time—or energy—for romance.

But with a little effort, romance can become second nature. While planning ahead is great, so is a spontaneous romantic evening. Try the following techniques, and see if you don't find yourself spending an unforgettable evening with the one you love.

The Sight of Romance
Start by making your bedroom a romantic sanctuary, where you can shut out the world and enter a paradise created for two. Sight plays a significant part in everyday life, so just imagine how important it is to romance. Many are attracted by the sight of their intended before they actually speak to them. So make your sanctuary a sight to behold.

You can do this by making just a few minor adjustments to the room. First, clear the clutter. If your bedroom is like most, it may have become a catchall for clothes, papers, books, and toys. Once you've achieved a clean room, change the lighting by adding candles—the more, the better. Choosing lower wattage light bulbs will give you a similar effect. The soft glow of candlelight will enhance the appearance of even the most ordinary room.

Next, spruce up the room with flowers and rose petals. Don't worry about creating a mess; concentrate on creating an oasis. Be careful not to overdo the flowers, though, since their fragrance can be overpowering. You may opt for artificial or silk flowers as a resourceful substitute.

You may even consider a few decorating tricks to enhance the bed. Drape sheer, richly colored fabrics across your headboard, over your window treatments, or hang them from the ceiling (with hooks from your local hardware store). You're going for exotic here, so the sky's the limit. Imagination plays a large part in how appealing your romantic oasis will be.

The Smell of Romance
Scent is an important component in the art of romance. Smell can be an excellent inlet to passion; it stimulates areas in the brain that affect the way we feel and react. Just think of the way you respond when you smell fresh bread baking. The aroma causes your taste buds to swell, your mouth to water, and your mind to wonder. Scent is a powerful instrument.

Aromatherapy is making quite an impact these days. Experiment with different fragrances to find which ones work best with you and your mate.

Some I've found to be particularly effective are vanilla, coconut, chocolate, lavender, and jasmine. Scented candles are excellent for stimulating two senses instead of one: sight and smell. Check out some of the aromatherapy stores in your area.

The Sound of Romance
Sound can mean music playing softly or the way you whisper your spouse's name. Speaking in low sexy tones is a definite turn-on for many men. The soft sound of a woman's voice in its natural God-given state can melt the strongest man's heart.

The music you choose is just as important. Whether it's soothing jazz or your favorite oldies but goodies, make it something you both enjoy. Music melts away the day's stresses and struggles. And music can also be the catalyst to another technique, touch. Music sets the stage for dancing, if your sanctuary is large enough. If not, just listening with your love can be stimulating.

The Taste of Romance
My grandmother used to say the best way to a man's heart was through his stomach. Boy, is that true. Sometimes nothing inspires a man more than a mouthwatering meal and sweet treats. Prepare a simple yet elegant meal for two or a tray of delectable mini desserts. Experiment with tropical, exotic tastes and don't forget the dark chocolate, which is said to be an effective aphrodisiac.

You don't have to be Betty Crocker in the kitchen. Many grocery stores have freshly prepared meals in the deli section. Even those chocolate-covered strawberries are readily available in the produce section. Your favorite restaurant is also a good place to provide meals on the go.

The Touch of Romance
This is the last and definitely the most powerful element in the Romance Factor. The bond of physical contact is one of God's most enduring senses. In the beginning of life, the touch of a mother to her newborn begins the human need for touch. We're created to crave this on a daily basis. A hug, a caress, or a kiss arouse the tiny blood vessels located just beneath the skin in our bodies. In a marriage, touch forms a connection between husband and wife. One way to use touch is through the art of massage. Try taking a massage class together or get a book on proper massage techniques. This will teach you about pressure points and areas of concentration for a romantic, relaxing evening.

There's one important prerequisite to using the Romance Factor techniques: communication. Communicate honestly with your spouse to learn his or her wants and needs. Just ask. Sometimes, too, a little experimentation will reveal what each of you likes or dislikes. Then let the Romance Factor take your breath away.

Twanda R. Smith, owner of Romantic Moments, a romantic event-planning business, lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

08 Agustus 2008

To Beloved Husband and Son

Dalam kurun 2 tahun terakhir ini aku telah menjadi wanita, istri dan ibu yang paling bahagia di dunia. Meski kadang aku masih sering mengeluh, tidak percaya diri dan mudah panik tapi aku sadar tidak semua wanita bisa merasakan hal-hal indah yang kurasakan, saat-saat ajaib kehamilan, menjalani saat-saat menegangkan kelahiran, saat-saat melelahkan menjadi ibu, juga saat-saat penting menjadi istri.

Aku sadar dan bersyukur kepada Tuhan yang telah begitu menyayangiku dengan memberiku malaikat-malaikat Nya, menemani jalan panjang kehidupanku hingga nanti. Buat Suami dan anak laki-laki terkasihku, yang begitu sabar menyayangiku, mencintai dengan segenap hati, mengingatkan tanpa lelah akan besar cintanya padaku, membuatku begitu berharga di dunia ini. Kalian semua telah membuatku kuat hari demi hari, terus belajar, semangat dan menjadi diriku sendiri.

First Twinkle Tooth

Akhirnya, gigi itu tumbuh juga. Sempet bingung kenapa kok sampai usia Bintang 9 bulan belum juga tumbuh gigi. Awalnya kupikir apa karena tidak terbiasa memakan bubur bertekstur lebih kasar yang harusnya sudah mulai kuberikan. Gimana tega membuat dia muntah setiap kali makanan tekstur kasar sedikit saja.

Bayi rata-rata mulai tumbuh gigi pada usia 6 bulan. Tanda-tanda bakal tumbuh gigi sejak dia berusia 3 bulan nggak punya pengaruh berarti, ya artinya memang saat tumbuh gigi pada tiap anak berbeda. Bukan berarti cepat tumbuh lebih baik dari yang tidak atau sebaliknya.