Posts tagged marriage
The Key to Solving Most Relationship Issues

A week ago I asked all of you on instagram what things you struggle with most in your marriage/relationships. I had such great feedback from all of you and I started to notice a common theme. You all wanted to know how to overcome certain issues and become more intimate. OBVI. Now, I’m not a marriage counselor or an expert by any means. However, I did study family and relationships in college, and after 7 years of marriage, my husband and I have learned a lot about making our relationship stronger over time. These are principles that have helped us, and I want to help you improve your relationships, too! Let’s get to it!!! Here are some examples of the questions that were sent to me:

  • How can I let go of the everyday annoyances and quirks?

  • How do I stay content when there are disappointments?

  • How do I handle addictions, such as pornography?

  • How to decide how we discipline children?

  • How do we make time for date nights and sexual intimacy?

  • How do we overcome disagreements?

  • How do we decide when to start or stop having children?

And so on…

Now, I want to validate you and let you know that we have asked ourselves questions just like these! Anyone in a relationship has had to overcome annoyances, disagreements, and interferences! No matter how perfect a relationship may seem, we all have bad days. We lose our temper at times, we say things we don’t mean, and we forget to make our relationship a priority. It happens!! You can overcome it and strengthen your relationship by learning a few important skills.

QUICK REMINDER: Abuse of any kind is not okay. Physical, verbal, or sexual. A lot can be overcome, but when it involves your safety and/or the safety of your children, you need to get out.

Okay. Are you ready for the one thing that can help solve all of these issues? I don’t know if you’re ready. Alright, here it is.

- POSITIVE COMMUNICATION -

You probably feel like you’ve been duped, but wait! Let me teach you HOW to have positive communication in your relationships to overcome these issues. As a preface, when Matthew and I were dating we started off on a base of honesty. We both knew a lot about the personal struggles and past of the other person. Those were openly communicated and talked about before we made the commitment to spend our lives, and eternity, together. We knew it would take time, work, and healing to overcome them, and we were ready to take them on together. The continuation of that honesty has played a huge role in our success as a couple. Here are some key skills we’ve acquired that have allowed us to continue to fortify our relationship.

VULNERABILITY

Having a steady state of vulnerability can be the hardest part of any relationship, but if you want to have trust in your relationship it’s something you both need to give. It takes a lot of courage at times, I know. Still, it’s an essential part of positive communication! Open up and be honest with each other! Being vulnerable about your feelings and struggles will allow the other person to feel validated and more safe to share themselves. Plus, this will give you both an opportunity to serve and help one another.

USE “I” STATEMENTS

This is one that we still need to work at, but it’s so important when addressing annoyances, disagreements, and hurt feelings. If you use you statements when working through issues, it sounds like blame and initiates defensiveness in the other person. When you use I statements it allows the other person to understand how their actions made you feel and how they can try to improve. Here’s an example using both statements concerning a small issue. For these examples we’ll say that someone agreed to clean up a certain area of the house, and they didn’t.

  • You Statement: “Seriously? You didn’t clean up that area like I asked! You never follow through with your promises. I have to do everything around here!.” (dramatic I know, but all too familiar.)

  • I Statement: “I feel upset when I come home and see that area is messy because it seems like my ask for help was not a priority to you. I would like it if you could make it a priority to help me when asked in the future.” (feel the difference?)

It may seem like a no brainer, right?

WRONG.

Even starting with an “I feel” can turn into a “you keep forgetting to do the dishes” Or something different altogether, like my personal signature, “Someone hasn’t been doing _______ like they said they would.”

I am the queen of guilt trips and saying things are okay when I really feel otherwise. I’m also really skilled at the silent treatment. Not knowing how to properly structure my feelings to express them is what usually stops me from doing just that. Looking up the I Statement format always helps me remember how to say what I really feel and tell my husband what I’d like him to do. Instead of just getting upset, not telling him what’s wrong, and expecting him to understand why/how to fix it. That’s why I created this “I” statement worksheet for you guys! Print it out, or print 4, and write out something you’d like to communicate positively! It can be used in all relationships, (at work, at school, with your kids, extended family members, etc;) not just the super intimate ones!

TALK TALK TALK

When in doubt, talk it out. Now that we know how to properly express our feelings, it’s time to practice it! If you have something bugging you or a concern on your mind, tell them you need time to talk to them about it. We often say things like, “Remind me to tell you something that’s been on my mind when I get home” or “Can I tell you something personal once the kids go to bed?” Make your time to talk a priority. Both participants need to be willing to make communicating positively a consistent effort. If this is a struggle for you, you may need to actually schedule it into your day. Turn off the TV, put your phones in a box, go to a place where there’s less distractions and talk for at least 15-30 minutes every single day. The more you talk the easier it is to be vulnerable and communicate your feelings in a positive way.

Okay, now let’s give more DIRECT answers to your questions:

Q+A


Q: How can I let go of the everyday annoyances and quirks?

A: Tell them in a positive way how those things make you feel.

  • Example: I feel annoyed when you leave your clothes laying on the floor because it makes it hard for me to focus when the room is a mess in the morning. I would appreciate it if you could put them away in the hamper or closet instead.

Q: How do I stay content when there are disappointments?

A: Make sure to voice your disappointments to your significant other so they know how you feel and can try to improve.

  • Example: I feel disappointed when you break your promises to me because it seems like I’m not very important to you. I would like it if you would keep your promises from now on. (broad example, but hopefully you get the idea!)

Q: How do I handle addictions, such as pornography?

A: This one is so hard because it’s the addiction that causes all of the issues. Talking about the addiction openly and working through it is the only way to overcome it! There are addiction recovery programs and support groups that are great for both partners to attend! Counseling and therapy are also a great way to talk about these issues and get additional help. Pornography specifically is scientifically proven to have damaging effects on intimacy because of the chemical disconnect it causes in the brain. Again, this is a deeper issue that can’t necessarily be solved by communication only. There are feelings of betrayal and broken trust. If not approached in a positive way it can make things worse. Here are a few examples to help move things towards a positive direction.

  • Example as addict: (after opening up about addiction) I feel frustrated when I give in to my addiction because I know it’s wrong and I forget how it might affect those around me. I would hope you can come to forgive me and be patient with me as we start learning how to help me overcome it.

  • Example as partner of addict: I feel deeply hurt when your addiction grabs a hold of you because it makes me feel like I’m not good enough and you’re not happy with our life together. I would like it if the next time you feel the need to turn to your addiction, you’ll come talk to me instead.

Q: How to decide how we discipline children?

A: This is such a personal thing. I feel like most problems occur when disciplinary styles don’t match up. Read more about parenting styles here. What matters most when it comes to discipline is that both parents are on the same page. Talk about your children’s needs and how you want to discipline that when situations arise. This will allow you to handle it as a united front, and that consistency will help them learn to improve their choices and behaviors. “I” statements are a great way to communicate with your kids when disciplining.

  • Example: I feel upset when you use that language while talking to me because it seems like you don’t respect and love me. I would like it if you could think about how it would feel to have someone talk to you that way.

Q; How do we make time for date nights and sexual intimacy?

A: Date Nights: Since taking my marriage class in college, I have learned that continuing to date and get to know each other as you age together is key. We change as we grow into adulthood, once we have kids, we change jobs, move to a new city, or gain new friends. The best way to get to know the person your partner is becoming is to date them! You guessed it, have a conversation!!! Learn about the things they’re interested in, what new things they want to try, what happens in their daily life, etc; Show up for them in their lives and be a part of the process! Find things to enjoy together that will keep you grounded and connected as a couple.

Sexual Intimacy: Same thing as dating. Make it a priority! Try new things together. Experiment together. Tell your partner when your in the mood! If the mood is the problem you may need to have a Sexy Month. If you’ve read, Girl, Wash Your Face then you know what I’m talking about. Rachel Hollis talks about doing a Sexy September (or whatever month you want) and scheduling to have sexy time every day of the month. It seems like a lot, I know. But surprisingly, having lots of sex makes you want it more. Plus, the skills of both parties improve. Practice makes perfect! You just have to make the time for it!

Q: How do we overcome disagreements?

A: TALK ABOUT IT. Say how you feel in a positive way. Beating a dead horse now, I know. Haha!

  • Here’s an example: I feel sad when we disagree over ______ because it’s important to me that we are on the same page. I would like it if we could brainstorm how to overcome this disagreement or come to a compromise.

Q: How do we decide when to start or stop having children?

A: Again this is such a personal decision between you and your spouse/SO. Make sure you voice your feelings using an I statement. If your partner isn’t ready, then it’s out of your control! The more you talk about it in a positive way without blame, the more likely they are to open up and come around to the idea. A lot of deeper fears are involved when it comes to the decision of how many children you want to bring into the world. Be patient with them, and keep the conversation open so they can come to you when they’re ready!

  • Example: I feel frustrated when you tell me you’re not ready to have kids because I want nothing more than to start a family with you. I would like it if you could think about it, let me know any concerns you may have and tell me when you’re ready.


That’s a wrap my friends! I hope you found this helpful and gained some insight as to how to handle the inevitable bumps on the road of your relationships. If you have any other questions you’d like answered, leave them in the comments and my husband and I will do our best to address them! Lots of love from us to all of you!

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I statement Worksheet - Positive communication in Marriage and Relationships
Anniversary Series || Wedding Photos by Claire Marika

Matthew and I decided to do formal wedding photos before our wedding day so we didn't feel rushed. We had the wonderful opportunity to become the first video captured by Claire Marika Photography, click play on the image above to see it.  I still get emotional when I watch this video because I remember how it felt when Matthew saw me in my dress for the first time. You can tell how crazy we are about each other and I love all of the little moments they captured. So much talent went into this film I will cherish forever. To see more of their amazing videos, go here

I just want to take a minute and make everyone aware that my dress was from the DI. I paid $30 for a dress that had long, poofy lace sleeves and ruffles on the cuffs at the wrist. I had my amazing aunt, who is a very talented seamstress, alter the sleeves and line them with fabric so they weren't see through. I went to her house to try it on and I was blown away by her work. She said I didn't need to pay her, but I did anyway. That dress was a STEAL. The total cost for my dress was $80. Not many people can say that. Moral of the story, look at the DI for wedding dresses, especially if you're looking for something vintage. 

My whole wedding was vintage themed. Lace, pearls, a bird cage veil, typewriters for the guest book, mustache photo props, ice cream stand, a vintage mansion, balloon send off and riding away in a vintage T Model Ford. Peacock feathers were what my color scheme was based on, and they were everywhere at my reception. Matthew and I had custom converse made with our colors and embroidered with our wedding date, May 7th, 2011. We still wear them today!

There are a lot of things I'd do differently if I were to do it right now. Have a professional do my make up, wear heals, use different colors, buy a more fitted grey suit for Matthew, but I am SO GLAD we paid for a quality photographer. They captured our wedding and our personalities so well. I'll always have these photos to look back on and remember the happy moments of the beginning of our lives together. Claire even edited some of our photos to give off a vintage vide which was so fitting to our special day. I can't recommend her enough. View her portfolio on her website, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest

It's been such a great opportunity for me to write this Anniversary Series. I'm feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for Matthew and the amazing man that he is. I love him even more now than I did in our bridal video. He makes life the greatest adventure. He has so many strengths and talents that help our family. Not only is he a provider and a protector, he is a loving companion and my very best friend. He is sensitive to the feelings of others and always finding ways to make me happy. I'm so glad I found someone who makes me laugh and smile on a daily basis. I couldn't have imagined a better man to have children with. Turner and I love being around him and spending time with him. He is always setting new goals to help improve our lives, and accomplishing hard things. There are very few people I know who work as hard as he does. He has overcome obstacles and continues to be an example to me of enduring to the end. I love him and will stand by him through everything this life will bring. Together we are an unstoppable force, and I am so glad to call him mine.

Happy Anni, Matthew dearest. 4 years has flown by. I love you, here's to infinity and beyond.

 
#ForeverFamily || What I Believe

A couple weeks ago I received an invitation on Facebook of an event sponsored by Mormon.org called Flooding Facebook with Family using the hashtag #ForeverFamily. I was inspired by this idea and decided to do an entire blog post about it. I posted our family photos from last October by Amy Hirschi Photography because I'm still obsessed with them. They make me so happy every time I look at them! Definitely go check her out. 

I've been touched by others who have openly shared what they believe and I want to have that same courage. I'm a mormon, I believe it, I live it and I love it. I'm not following in blind faith. I have a personal testimony that I have gained through personal study and prayer. I'm not going to suppress those beliefs to have more followers or be more liked. I want to stand up for what I believe and I want others to feel comfortable to do the same. It takes courage to share what you believe and love, whatever it may be. This post is an expression of my beliefs, that I cherish and want to share with you.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I believe in the Articles of Faith. I also believe in an eternal plan, known as the Plan of Salvation. One that began in a premortal life, in which I agreed to come to Earth and experience mortality. It was decided that a Savior, Jesus Christ, would come to atone for our sins allowing us the opportunity to repent and return to our Heavenly Father. 

That plan includes being sealed in the temple as an eternal family. Matthew and I made the choice to be married and were sealed in the Bountiful Temple on May 7th, 2011. We made promises to each other and our Heavenly Father to be faithful and true in all aspects of our lives. By doing so we were promised that our children would be born in that covenant, and sealed to us for eternity. I'm so grateful to be a member of a church that has the priesthood and sealing power. The spirit of peace and comfort I feel in the temple is unlike anything I have ever known. I know that it is the House of the Lord. There are so many blessings that come into our lives because of those promises made in the temple. 

Marriage and family also bring challenges and trials into our lives. These challenges help us progress and become better individuals. I believe that families help us to become the very best versions of ourselves, whether it's through our own parents or by becoming parents. We each have different struggles and hardships that we go through in life. Whether it be doubts, illness, infertility, loneliness, conflicts, or temptations, everyone struggles with something. You never know what someone might be struggling with. That's why families are so special. They help us have the strength to overcome our challenges and make choices we believe will bring us the most happiness in this life. 

I'm so glad God's plan includes families. It's the perfect support system for the journey of life. I'm grateful for my #ForeverFamily because becoming a wife and parent has helped me progress into someone better. It has opened my eyes to some of my strengths, and shown me things about myself I need to improve. Parenthood was difficult for us at first. There were things we didn't see eye to eye on, but we have worked through those disagreements and we are stronger and closer in our relationship because of it. Not to mention, we see our son in complete adoration and wonder. He brings us so much joy, unlike any we have ever felt before. Watching him learn and grow is both exciting and rewarding. I hope we can teach Turner how important family is, and that he will strive to be sealed in the temple with his own family some day. 

I know when we do our best as a family to keep the commandments and the promises we've made with our heavenly father, we are happier. Looking back at our lives together I can see the hand of the Lord blessing us because we are trying our best to do what is right. I testify of these truths, and know through confirmation of the Holy Ghost that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's church on Earth. I know families are central to the Lord's plan and I am blessed to have a faithful and loving family. I'm grateful for my testimony and the strength it gives me during hard times. I'm grateful for trials that help strengthen that testimony and help me gain new understanding. I'm grateful for a supportive husband who stands by me and helps guide me through hard times. I'm grateful for wonderful examples in my life that have helped me to become who I am today. Of these things I testify and share with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 
My Surprising, Energizing Weekend

This weekend was definitely one I'll never forget.

Earlier in the week, Matthew had arranged a surprise date for us on Friday night. He asked his family to watch Turner, decided where to go to dinner, bought discounted tickets to see a movie, and one more surprise that I didn't know about. He told me to have Turner and myself ready by 4 o'clock, and that's exactly what I did.

We dropped off Turner at Grammy and Papa's house and then we were on our way! Driving to Ogden, Matthew told me we were going to dinner at Sonora Grill, a delicious Mexican restaurant at the Junction. We enjoyed a very filling meal and strolled the Junction before going to a later showing of Cinderella. A man asking for change stopped us as we were coming out of the restaurant. I'll admit I find these situations very uncomfortable. Letting the man know we were only carrying cards, Matthew offered him the leftovers from our meal. He took them graciously, and as we walked away I was filled with emotions. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all I have and a husband who is willing to give.

After observing a class at iFly for a generous amount of time, we walked to the theatre to enjoy a movie I had been extremely anxious to see. As the film progressed, Matthew and I found ourselves deeply touched. I started to understand how beautiful kindness can be.  What made Cinderella different is how she treated others, regardless of how she was treated. The most touching moment for me was when she ran outside in her mother's torn and tattered dress, in the rain, and said through her tears, "I'm so sorry, Mother. I promised I would have courage, but I can't anymore." It was in that moment of desperation that her Fairy Godmother reached out to her. 

I found this so relatable in my life. I often find myself in a situation like Cinderella thinking, "I don't know if I can move forward" or "I can't do this on my own." Those moments that I call out to my Heavenly Father in desperation and grief, are often followed with the sweetest of blessings. I hope that I can have courage and be kind my whole life long. I have known since I was young that happy, kind, humble and caring people are the most beautiful of all. Matthew and I talked about how true that principle is. Those who are kind have a light and vibrance inside of them that shines for everyone to see. I've had so many wonderful examples of this beauty in my life, and I hope to follow in their footsteps. 

I assumed after this movie, our uplifting experience and discussion of kindness and beauty, we would be going home to pick up our son. Matthew turned into a parking lot and seemed to be somewhat lost and confused. He knew exactly what he was doing when he got out of the car and grabbed a bag from the trunk. Opening my door for me he said, "Come on, it's time for the last surprise of our date!" Giddy with anticipation, I grabbed his hand and he lead me into a very tall building. It was extremely modern in style and taste. We walked up to the front desk and started to "Check In." At the moment I realized where we were. We were at a hotel! A super nice hotel!

I can only imagine what the concierge was thinking as I stared down Matthew with a look of appreciation and romance. I did NOT see that one coming, but I was so looking forward to a relaxing stay with the one man I could never live without. We brought our things to our room and ran to the store to buy ice cream, because is there anything better than eating ice cream in a bed you don't have to clean? And of course we watched videos of Turner I had on my phone because we absolutely adore him.

We have an uninterrupted nights sleep, aka: heaven. Got up, relaxed for a while, the got ready to go. We checked out and decided to go to brunch together. All you can eat french toast at Kneaders followed by a much needed trip to the grocery store. Finally we returned to Grammy and Papa's to pick up our little boy, and I was so excited to see him. 

It's amazing what one night away can do for you as a wife and mother. In a hotel only miles away from our home, I found energy and a renewed sense of enjoyment in showing love for my husband and my son. It was just what I needed. I am truly lucky to have a husband so wonderful. He's the best at surprises and even better at loving me. He's probably reading this post from his email right now.

I love you, Matthew, with all that I am. This graphic is for you.

Not only was I spoiled by my man, but we had the opportunity to BBQ/party on Saturday night with great friends we met under coincidental circumstances, which I'm starting to think wasn't a coincidence at all. I'm so grateful to know so many genuine and wonderful people!

Spiritual renewal, a walk to the park, Sunday dinner and games with my family was the perfect way to bring the weekend to a close.  Can I relive it all again, please? 

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. How do you find energy and renewal in your life? Share it with me! 

5 Steps to a HAPPY Marriage
5 Steps To A Happy Marriage | A Dash of Salter

With me and my husband's anniversary coming up, I've been thinking a lot about our marriage. We've had ups and downs like every relationship does, but today I want to focus on the five things that I believe lead to a HAPPY marriage. 

I'm not an expert. However, I'm starting to notice the things that have made my marriage happier.  I came up with a little acronym using the word HAPPY to help myself remember them and I thought I'd share it with you guys!

1.  HONESTY

Honest, open, and consistent communication is vital to keeping a marriage happy. Communication is one of the most fundamental building blocks for any healthy relationship.  Always tell your spouse how things make you feel.  It makes me feel so good when my husband opens up to me about something. Try to use lots of "I" statements, such as, "I feel ____ when I hear/see/know you do ____" Don't point fingers, but don't expect them to read your mind  either.  The best way to resolve conflict is by talking things through. If you're like my husband and I you might feel even closer after you've talked things out and can understand what the other person is feeling.

2.  APPRECIATION

This one is HUGE. Matthew thrives on appreciation. If you know anything about the 5 love languages written by Gary Chapman, and Words of Affirmation, you'll know why.  This is his dominant love language. It's not mine, however, I'm starting to realize just how powerful words of appreciation can be. Since becoming a mother, I've yearned for this appreciation.  I want my husband, or anyone at all, to acknowledge all of the hard work I am doing everyday to raise our child. I want him to tell me how important my role as a mother is, even if I already know that in my heart, it's still something I want to hear. Appreciate the little things that your spouse does for you. Say thank you, and say it often. The smallest token of gratitude can go a long way. 

3.  PROGRESSION

It's important to remember that everyone is on a journey of progression, especially in a marriage. Support each other in that progression. Set goals, discuss dreams, and encourage each other to reach them! Work together as a team. Compliment each other in your roles and take turns being strong. 

Always work on improving your relationship in some form. Some days I'll tell myself, "Okay, Cheree. Today try your best to show Matthew your appreciation." or, "Today I'm working on being positive and cheerful so that Matthew feels less stressed when he gets home from work." This is part of my personal progression to help strengthen my marriage. I'm not always good at it, but when I make the conscious effort I feel happier. 

Another thought on progression I have is about starting a family. I believe strongly that a lot of our progress as a couple has come since Turner was born. Starting a family has not only helped us learn new things about ourselves, but has brought us more joy than we had ever imagined was possible.

4.  PLEASURE

Now, before you get uncomfortable, let me explain. I've noticed that my marriage is happiest when I am trying to please, or serve, my husband. When I focus on him instead of myself, our relationship flourishes! Try to fill their needs, emotionally and physically, especially if you know they are having a stressful day.  Sometimes I find myself thinking needful thoughts such as, "Ugh. I wish he would watch the baby so I could go shopping/be with my friends/relax." Not only am I feeling a need, I'm not sharing it with him and still expecting him to do something about it. So stupid! Don't do it, guys. It will only make you more upset and confuse your spouse for having NO idea why you're upset.  Let your spouse know what your needs are and you'll both be happier for it!

Now for the physical part. If your spouse comes to you seeking some intimacy, try your best to fill that need. It takes courage to be an initiator, and rejection only makes them less likely to do it again.  LOVE them, especially when they are asking for LOVE.

5.  YIPPEE

This one was kind of a stretch. There aren't very many descriptive words that start with a Y, but I'm using it anyway!

Marriage should be a constant celebration. Celebrate each other and your time together! Keep dating after you get married. Nourish your relationship just like you did before you were married. Celebrate the big anniversaries and the small victories! We've started to celebrate when we meet a savings goal, or when Matthew passes a class. Use any excuse to celebrate. More than that, be an advocate for your relationship. Focus on the positive. Have an attitude that you can accomplish anything together.  Praise each other. Root for and cheer each other on. Be your partner's biggest fan. Nothing makes me feel more loved than knowing my husband believes in me.

HAPPY Acronym That Might Help Your Marriage

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my personal steps to a HAPPY marriage! What other things have you noticed make your marriage a joyful one?