694

test

Speaking the Language of Love

Speaking the Language of Love

Love and relationships should come naturally. They should not be so much work.

By
Bill Ferrell

“I believed I had found the secret to my wife’s heart.”

For many years on every birthday, every anniversary, every Valentine’s day – I would buy my wife three cards. Sometimes they were cute. Sometimes they were romantic. Sometimes they were funny. But always they communicated, “I love you.”

I would painstakingly take time choosing the right cards. Then I would pour over them, choosing just the right words. This process sometimes took hours. The amount of time didn’t matter to me. I wanted to make sure that I communicated how much I loved her.

Once completed on the night before the particular celebration, I would place them on the kitchen counter so she would see them first thing in the morning. I then imagined the next morning:

She would walk down stairs and, upon entering the kitchen, be surprised to see – not one, not two – but three cards. All addressed to her. A smile would spread across her face. “What has that crazy husband of mine done?” she would muse to herself. She would then carefully open each card, slowly savoring the words I had taken care to write. Suddenly her bottom lip would quiver and a single tear would stream down her cheek. She would then come bounding up the stairs to find me. Choking back tears of unspeakable joy, she would declare her undying love for me. Then pulling me close while gazing into my eyes, her lips would gently touch mine – expressing the passion that was welling up in her heart.

Yeah – In my dreams!

In reality – she would simply smile, say, “thank you,” and go on with her morning.

I did this for years. Bought the cards. Wrote the notes. Placed them on the counter. Imagined the scenario above. And her response was always the same. A smile. Thank you. On with her day.

I was puzzled. No – actually frustrated. Her response was so…so…so…blah. I had just expressed passionate heartfelt undying love and her response was the same as when I take the garbage out.

And so, I decided to do something truly “crazy.” I decided to talk to her about it. I asked her why her response to my expression of love was not met with the same level of passion in which I had given?

What I learned blew me away!

Speaking a Different Language

She told me that the cards did NOT say “I love you” to her. She admitted that yes – the cards were filled with words of love and desire for her. And that meant something to her. To be fair to her, she did express appreciation. She just wasn’t as thrilled to receive as I was to give. What I learned was that they did not mean the same thing to her as they did to me. Words are what say “I love you” to me – not to her.

I learned that I had been projecting my love language on her. I had been assuming that what said “I love you” to me would naturally say “I love you” to her. That makes sense – right?!

She went on to say that she felt most loved by me when I did acts of service for her.

  • When I took care of the car (making sure that she was safe)
  • When I bought her a Diet Coke (I was thinking of her)
  • When I cut the grass and shoveled snow (keeping the house looking nice)
  • When I went shopping with her (submitting to torture)

I realized that I had been speaking to her in my love language. In the way that says “I love you” to me. I might as well have been speaking a foreign language. In fact – I was.

Learn to Speak Their Love Language

Gary Chapman, in his best-selling book, The Five Love Languages, explains that the secret to expressing love to others is to understand their “love language.” Here they are, along with a brief description:

  1. Words of Affirmation – Using words to build up the other person. “Thank you for the cards. That really meant a lot to me.”
  2. Gifts – A gift says, “He was thinking of me, and look what he got me.”
  3. Acts of Service – Doing something that you know they would like. Washing the dishes, making a meal, vacuuming the floors, changing the oil in the car – are all acts of service.
  4. Quality Time – When you give them your undivided attention. Taking a walk together or sitting on the couch with the TV off and no cell phones. Talking and listening.
  5. Physical touch – Holding hands, hugging, kissing, sexual intercourse are all expressions of love.

Chapman goes on to explain that every person has a primary love language which speaks more deeply to them than all the others. Discovering each other’s love language and speaking it on a regular basis is the best way to keep love alive in a relationship.

The Secret to A Most Excellent Way

If you want to be excellent at expressing love to others – learn their love language. Oftentimes you can figure this out by observing how they express love to you or what seems to evoke a strong response from them.

However, the secret to discovering the most excellent way of showing your love to them is…are you ready for this…ask them.

Yes – sit down with them and ask directly what says “I love you” to them. Use the list of the Five Love Languages above as a guide. Ask for examples. Get specific. Be a student of them. Make no assumptions. And then whatever they say – believe them.

I say to believe them because our natural tendency is always our own point of reference. We must resist the temptation to project our own preferences on to others – even when they have told us otherwise. So, believe them and then act accordingly.

Speaking their love language is a critical step in keeping your love alive!

———-

Bill Ferrell has been married for 35 years, has 2 adult children, and 4 precious granddaughters. He teaches individuals and couples how to experience loving and fulfilling relationships. He is also the Community Relations Director for GRIP Outreach for Youth. When he is not helping Chicago urban youth to experience a better life, or inviting others to join him – he is spending time with his family, running, swimming, biking, or reading a book. Or playing practical jokes on his kids.

Follow him on…
Facebook
Twitter: @billferrelljr
Instagram: @popferrell57

For more resources on marriage and relationship building, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

6 Things to Talk About With Your Spouse That’s Not Your Kids, Work or the Weather

6 Things to Talk About With Your Spouse That’s Not Your Kids, Work or the Weather

By
Sarah Pichardo

Do conversations with your spouse revolve around kids, work and the weather? Are those conversations starting to feel a little like this?

Be bored no more. Here are a few conversation starters to make your conversations with your spouse more like this.

6 CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What have you been searching online lately?
  2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Why?
  3. Do you believe in aliens? Why or why not?
  4. If you had the world’s attention for 30 seconds, what would you say?
  5. What’s the difference between a wolf and a dog?
  6. If your pet could talk, what would it say about you?

What are some good conversation starters? Leave ‘em in the comments below. And remember, like abuelita says: “Aprende a escuchar, y sonríe al hablar, si quieres agradar.” In other words, listening is important too! And don’t forget to smile and act like you care.

P.S. For a more in-depth talking to from a real licensed clinical psychologist (you know, someone who knows what she’s talking about), check out this blog.

—–

Sarah Pichardo is the Creative Director at Family Bridges. When she’s not obsessing over pixels, designs and scripts – or brainstorming plans to take over the world – she’s probably reading a book or obsessing over Christmas decorations.

Follow her on…

Twitter: @sarahp726
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahp726/

For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Marriage Makeover: How to Have Meaningful Conversations 

Marriage Makeover: How to Have Meaningful Conversations 

By
Dr. Nadia Persun

Would you be interested to hear what happened today on my way to work?” she asked excitedly, walking into the house. “I’d rather skip to the part where I hear what we are having for dinner. We can talk about the rest later,” he replied passing by, barely looking at her. Conversations missed, moments of connection are rushed. Marriage becomes crushed by the weight of daily responsibility, emotional dullness, and perpetual fatigue. Relationships continue to exist out of habit, as a routine. Work, parenting, helping others — sure. What is left for your spouse is a flat-lined level of energy sprinkled with crumbs of good intentions?

Meaningful dialogues? Forget it. What we have left for each at the end of the day are “useful conversations.” They are made of half-constructed thoughts, lazy listening, and functional orders focused on the execution of responsibility and errands. Sexy lingerie and candlelit dinners are replaced by other secret desires: clean kitchen, a cooked meal, laundry done, kids early to bed, and some TV as a survival reward. Marriage is on a perpetual diet.

What can we do to have a happy, healthy relationship? Easy: just finish reading this blog to learn quick, easy, proven solutions! Just kidding! However, the good news is that there are no secrets. You already know most of the things that you need to do. Just like with exercise and diet: some push-ups and an apple a day. However, skipping push-ups and eating a Hershey bar is easier. People’s nature is to pick the path of least resistance and minimal effort. We are also falsely hopeful, thinking that at some magical “later” time we will be stronger, more motivated, in the mood to do the “right” thing. What happens, in reality, is perpetual hoping and postponing, leaving us stuck in a rut.

How do we tackle this complex issue without feeling like busting through stones? Be proactive and start with small consistent steps. We are wrong thinking that small kind steps are seldom appreciated. How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time. Can’t solve the whole problem, then focus on solving part of the problem.

The next part is actually doing something. Even the best information will not help if you don’t put it into use. You know what they say, “the road to failure is paved with good intentions.” A better life will not come from wishing and hoping. We want to ice the cake without having to make the cake. We need a new positive action. Only actions can bring specific results.Here are examples of the simple proactive steps that can help to improve communication, and heal and restore connection.

  1. Make eye contact, look and act friendly and approachable.You have to become adept at daily communication and staying connected. Put your phone down. Turn off the TV. Just be in the same space, open and present to talk and connect with each other. Come out to greet your family when they arrive home. Stay in the same room together, not looking busy with other things. Make eye contact. Say “Hi. Please. Thank you. This is lovely. How are you doing today?” and so on. Little moments, kind words, fostered as a daily habit. Small talk is not idle chat.
  2. Don’t wait for someone to read your mind, speak up openly.It is quite simple: what you don’t ask for, you won’t get. Be clear on what you want, what you are willing to give, then ask for it. “Could you please sit with me for 10 minutes and hear about my idea for our next vacation?”; “Could you please come out and greet me by the door any time you hear that I return from work?”; “Can we do something fun together this weekend, just us, no kids?”
  3. Pay attention to get attention. Drop the tyranny of expectations, in which your spouse must do something first, so only then you are to respond with a nicety. Who cares who “started it” and “whose turn it is?” You are in the same boat, and it is leaky. Decide to be first to start fixing it. Be curious about your spouse. Ask questions and listen. Give them the spotlight. Do something nice, unexpected, no strings attached. Good energy will be returned to you in abundance.
  4. Respect the rules of good behavior. We all know that it is not good to scream, call names, throw objects, and slam doors. There are rules related to respect and self-control. We tend to forget them when stressed out and when we feel that the other person is not treating us nicely. So, it is fair game to be bad in return! Even when your spouse is seemingly “underserving”, decide to stay kind, polite, and play by the rules.
  5. Seek common ground and build on areas of agreement.You may disagree on types of movies, style of music, what to eat, sleep schedules, and how much and how often to wash and clean. But you are likely in agreement that your children need love and care, that both of you can benefit from having more fun and less stress, that being friendly and polite is better than hostility. Bring up more subjects that you know both of you share and support. Discussing such topics will foster the bond and improve communication skills, gradually allowing you to tackle things that are more sensitive and require negotiation.
  6. Seek help and support, if needed. No man is an island. We are more alike than different. But we also can be very stubborn. If you feel that your marriage resembles a truck with its wheels stuck in thick mud, and no maneuvers or acceleration result in any positive movement, don’t wait long to seek counseling.

To conclude, marital success and personal happiness don’t make cameo appearances in your life. You have to become aware, intentional, and disciplined to implement positive changes, making small but consistent steps. You also need to decide to be a grown up in your relationship, taking ownership of positive intentions, making it unconditional regardless what others do or don’t do. Take care of your partner, and your spouse will take care of you.

—-

Dr. Nadia Persun is a Clinical Psychologist working in Wheaton and Naperville, IL, treating anxiety, depression, weight problems. She also focuses on therapy with adolescents and couples in distress, aimed on conflict reduction and divorce prevention. Dr. Persun is a Medical Directory of “GreenPath Clinic”, which offers services for mental health problems, chiropractic, naturopathy, physical therapy, and nutrition. On her spare time, Dr. Nadia is a gardener, blogger, reader, chef-dilettante, and avid traveler-explorer together with her family.

Read more about her on http://GreenPathClinic.com,

https://facebook.com/greenpathclinic  

 

For more resources on marriage and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Love Must Be Intentional

Love Must Be Intentional

Love and relationships should come naturally. They should not be so much work.

By
Bill Ferrell

This was my best friend’s philosophy in college. He didn’t have many second dates.

Over the years I have talked with hundreds of couples. Some considering marriage, some newly married, some trying to save a marriage. I have heard many of them say the same thing:

“Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” Really? Why?

Would someone who wants to run a marathon say, “It shouldn’t be so hard to run 26 miles?” Or someone who wants to advance in their career say, “It should not require so much effort?” Or someone who wants to be an author say, “It shouldn’t be so hard to write a book.”

Now, you may think, hey – this isn’t about athletics or career or literature. This is different. This is about love. Love should come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul mates. Good point. It is different. It’s far more difficult.

WE ARE NOT COMPATIBLE

No two individuals are naturally compatible. That is not to say we don’t share anything in common with the ones we love. Of course not. We may have similar educational, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds. We may have similar values and goals and belief systems.

However, every individual is just that. An individual. And even though we share the planet with billions of other people – who we are is unique. Our family of origin, our life experiences, our world view is unique to each person. Which is amazing and very cool and one of the reasons people are so fantastic.

However, our individuality is also why it’s a challenge to “get along.”

We are all born self-centered. We all start with only one “point of reference” – ourselves. It’s the only place we can start. Initially, we can’t be faulted on that because there is no other way to begin life. We don’t know any different. But as we grow up, we learn that there are other people in the world. This understanding actually happens early in life.

As we mature, we realize that we are faced with choices. We can choose to consider only ourselves in the decisions we make and how we live our lives – or we can choose to consider others.

We usually choose self-centeredness. Not because we are bad people. But because that has been our life-orientation from the beginning. And so this has an impact on all our relationships – especially when it comes to marriage.

Author Denis de Rougemont has said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love?” That’s why a good marriage is more painfully difficult to achieve that athletic or career or artistic expertise.

WE DON’T KNOW JACK! OR JILL

Duke University ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has said that we never really know the person whom we marry.

Hauerwas goes on to say that we may think we fully know who we are marrying – but we really don’t. In time he or she will change. We are never the same person after entering marriage. As well, time and life experiences change us: having children, job changes, aging parents, acquiring more income or less income, unforeseen physical issues, and all that comes with growing older.

These – and more – are all in the future. And unless your crystal ball is better than mine – you don’t know what lies ahead. Or the kind of person you will become. Or the kind of person your spouse will become.

There are seeds planted within all of us during our “formative years” that help to shape us. But it will take time and life circumstances for the seeds to grow and blossom. So even if we marry with our eyes wide open, there is so much more to come. These life changes are challenging for all marriages. If you have experienced them – you are not alone. If you have not experienced them – just wait. They will come.

WE NEED TO BE INTENTIONAL

Analysis is good. In fact, it is crucial to solve any problem. But we can get trapped in what is called “paralysis of analysis.” Understanding the problem and even knowing what we must do means squat without ACTION.

To love someone else, to full and completely love them – we must be intentional.

That means that we need to think and plan and DO.

Think. Take time to consider the other person. What do they need? What are they feeling? How is their life experience? This means you need to work (that four-letter word) to understand their world. Don’t try to just read their minds – talk to them. Ask them. Care enough to be students of them.

Plan. Make a plan to love them. This requires you put it into your schedule. If you don’t plan your time – someone else will. That is a fact of life. Work. Friends. Obligations. All these have a plan for your life. You must be proactive to plan or someone else will.

Do it. Plans mean nothing without execution. Good intentions mean nothing without action. Good ideas are dead without execution. Resist being passive. Put your plans of love into action. That is intentionality!

LOVE DOES

Here is a list of some suggestions of what you can do to be intentional:

• Send a text telling them that you are thinking of them or that you love them.
• Call them up – just to talk and say you were thinking of them.
• Plan a date that does not include a movie – but mostly conversation.
• Read a book aloud together. This is engaging and creates more opportunities for conversation.
• Read a book on relationships or marriage.

• Go to a coffee shop and talk. This will get you away from the distractions of home.
• Buy them balloons – just for fun.
• Throw them a surprise party.
• Write them a letter about how much they mean to you.
• Write them a poem. You can always “borrow” from Shakespeare (he wrote a ton of love sonnets), or another poet, or better yet, you can learn how to write a poem here.
• Surprise them with a weekend getaway.
• Ask them questions. And then just listen. Seek to get to know them better:

What were some of your highlights from last year?
What were some of your lows from last year?
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
What are some of your goals?
What are you currently working on that you are excited about?
What are some of your dreams?
How can I help support you right now?
What says, “I love you” to you?

The more we are intentional to nurture love in our relationships – the more we will experience the abundant life-giving relationships that we were created for.

———-

Bill Ferrell has been married for 35 years, has 2 adult children, and 4 precious granddaughters. He teaches individuals and couples how to experience loving and fulfilling relationships. He is also the Community Relations Director for GRIP Outreach for Youth. When he is not helping Chicago urban youth to experience a better life, or inviting others to join him – he is spending time with his family, running, swimming, biking, or reading a book. Or playing practical jokes on his kids.

Follow him on…

 

For more resources on marriage and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

How to Love Your Partner at their Worst

How to Love Your Partner at their Worst

Contributed by
Dr. Charlie and Elizabeth Woehr

There is an old Western movie starring Clint Eastwood, titled: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Well, we humans can be like that. In fact, within every person, even you and your partner, there is the potential to at one time or another exhibit actions or attitudes that could be classified as good, bad, and even ugly!

It is easy to love a partner who is showing their good side. It is a bit harder to love a partner who is showing their bad side. It is much, much harder to love a partner who is showing their ugly side—at their worst.

To be able to LOVE your partner when they’re at their worst, you must develop, from the beginning of your relationship, a solid foundation. Here are the four elements you must integrate into that foundation, that will prepare you to LOVE in all kinds of situations:

 

L – Laugh often with your partner. Laughter has been called “the best medicine,” and there is a reason for that. Laughing together means sharing fun times, silly times, creating this way memories that will be the glue for when the tempests of trouble hit your relationship, helping to keep things from collapsing around you.

O – Open your hearts to each other; share your inner thoughts and feelings. Talk about the dreams you each have for your relationship. By opening your hearts to each other you are trusting each other with your deeply valuable thoughts and feelings. Being comfortable with each other is a prerequisite to wanting to support each other in those more difficult moments, when things are not as you would like them to be. If you have learned to open your hearts at times of vulnerability, this will create both a desire and need to get closer to your partner in difficult times, which will counter the natural tendency to move away from each other when things get tough.

V – Value the strengths each of you have and learn to expect those to be brought into play when things are not going so well. Is one of you a forgiving person? That will be brought into play when things are not going well. Is one of you a deep thinker? Value the analysis that will bring to reflection about where things have gone wrong. Your strengths will need to be known and brought to bear in difficult times.

E –  Expect to recover from difficult times you will face. Avoid generalizing by thinking to yourself that this “always” happens, or that this “will last a long time” or that “this will never end.” Rather think of positive outcomes and expect that your partner will react and come around, will ask forgiveness, and seek to restore any painful times caused by their worst moments. Expect that when the years go by these difficult moments will have made your relationship stronger. Expect is really to exercise FAITH: believing in the ultimate healing and restoration that will come, after the valley of pain or misunderstanding.

 

Want to love your partner at their worst? Start loving them at their best and put the L.O.V.E to work for you, as you prepare to weather the most challenging storms that inevitably come on the sea of life as a couple. Down the road of life, as you look back on these difficult times, you’ll be very glad you did!

How have you and your partner gotten through tough times in your relationship? Share with us in the comments area below.

For more tips on life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

What Comes Your Way

What Comes Your Way

By Mike & Debbie Henderson

If you have received bad news or have gone or are going through a difficult experience, you may be wondering how you are going to get through it.

The morning of September 11th 2001 was different for so many people in so many ways, but for my wife and I it was a life changer. The news of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers was dominating the news and our office calls. It is a day we will never forget.

In all of the craziness of the day and for all its meaning, I will never forget the phone call from my wife. It was around 11:00 AM on that somber morning. My wife called and said. “Mike, the doctor just called, I have breast cancer”. As the tears welled up deep inside, all we could do is cry.

There were a lot of things we didn’t know. We didn’t know how bad it was and we didn’t know if it was life threatening, so we just cried. Those moments seemed like eternity for both of us. Inside my world was crashing down.

The news around the world shook me and caused me to wonder what was going on, but the news of my wife’s cancer was more devastating than anything either of us had ever faced before. It was during our conversation on the phone that my wife and I had determined that we both wanted answers.

I sat in my office chair trying to comprehend the news of my wife and cancer. I prayed and I prayed and then I would cry some more. My wife, at home, was doing the same thing. We were stunned. We both struggled inside.

I remember feeling inside that I had to let my wife go…a very difficult thing to do. As I was contemplating releasing her over to the Lord, a sinking feeling overwhelmed me. I remember praying, “Lord I don’t understand and I don’t know why but I give my wife to you. I don’t know what you have in mind but I am going to trust you for this moment.” I opened my bible and this verse jumped off the page at me. It is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message Bible),

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

It was comforting to me to realize that others have had to face this same problem also, and in some cases, so much more, and they came through it okay.

The days and months passed. I was at my wife’s side the whole time as she went through six months of chemotherapy and three months of radiation treatments. Admittedly, some days were harder than others.

I remember one day in particular when my wife had her third chemo treatment. She was lying in bed, hurting and unresponsive. She said, “Mike, I can’t do this anymore.” I could sense her desperation, so I laid down next to her and said, “Honey, let’s look at the clock and let’s try to make it just five minutes.” After we had made that first five minutes, we would do it all over again. We must have looked at the clock some 20 times that day. HE helped us get through a very difficult day

The 1 Corinthians 10:13 verse that jumped out at me hung on our refrigerator door for over a year. It was always there as a constant reminder to us the Lord Jesus was with us. It was so comforting to know that He promised we will never let us be pushed past our limit, even when everything inside says you are.

Today, my wife is cancer free. Praise God! I thank the Lord for her and for what HE has done in our lives and in the lives of my children. What we as a family learned during that difficult time has changed all of us.

About Mike & Debbie Henderson

Mike and Debbie have been married 41 years, have two children and four awesome grandchildren, ages 7,4,3,and 1. Mike, with the full support of Debbie, has been the Senior Pastor for the K-LOVE and Air1 radio networks for 17 years. They are listener supported ministries with 10 associate pastors on staff responding to our listeners’ needs all around the country and the world.

To learn more, visit www.Klove.comwww.air1.com and www.crisisresponse.org

Mike and Debbie Henderson
HopeInYourHands-FrontCover

30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

Books too “last century” for you? This customized app will give you access to resources to manage your own growth or even take the journey with a group of friends. What are you waiting for?

Resolving Conflict

Resolving Conflict

By Bill Ferrell

Where are you in your marriage/significant relationship? How are you at resolving conflict? Do you move towards one another in a healthy way in order to address issues, or do you avoid conflict?

I picked my wife up from the airport as I did every Thursday night. She travels for her job and this was part of our weekly ritual. This reunion was always a highlight for both of us.

As we drove through Chicago to our home, we reconnected. She told me about her day and I told her about mine. I described a conversation I had with the neighbor. It involved a rabbit and a rotten oversized tomato. She laughed. I laughed. We felt connected. Ah – life is good.

Once we got home she went to the pantry to get some Trader Joe’s biscotti. She loves their biscotti. She swung the doors open, looked in and suddenly a perplexed expression crossed her face. She looked at me and asked, “Did you buy the biscotti this week?” “No,” I said.

She looked back into the pantry and stood there for a minute. Silently. As quickly as we had connected earlier – it felt like we were suddenly disconnected. Without saying another word, she walked up the stairs and to our bedroom.

I was confused. What happened? Why the sudden shift? I may be a little slow but I have been married long enough to know that something was not quite right. I traced back the order of events since I had picked her up. We had hugged, talked about our kids, discussed the weekend ahead, I told her the rabbit and tomato story, we came in, she looked into the pantry, and then that’s when it happened.

The sound of silence.

That was my first clue. Actually, it was my only clue. But that was enough. No biscotti. I know she loves her biscotti, but it couldn’t be that. Or could it?

I stood in the kitchen and looked at the clock. It was 10:30 p.m. I had a decision to make. Do I go upstairs and try to work this out with her tonight – whatever “this” is? I know from experience that it will take time and work.Or do I follow her lead, keep quiet, shut off the lights, and go to sleep? I knew the answer before I even seriously contemplated the question.

I went upstairs and waded in. It took a few questions to get to the core issue of her upset. And it wasn’t the lack of biscotti. No real surprise there. That was just a “trigger” for feelings she had experienced in our marriage for years – feeling neglected and unloved.

So I sat on the bed and listened. I worked at not being defensive or critical. The end result was that she felt loved and valued and we re-established the connection we had before. But it was actually even stronger.

Previously, I had spent too many years of our marriage avoiding conflict, which had damaged our relationship. I had been fearful of what might happen if I had addressed difficult issues head on. So I had chosen the path of least resistance. The result was a marriage that lacked true intimacy.

One day while reading the Bible, God spoke to me about how I had been in my marriage from this Scripture passage:

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

God was encouraging Joshua to be the leader He had created him to be – and not to fear. There was no need to be afraid because God was with him.

This is not your typical marriage verse. And yet it was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to be strong and courageous in order to be the husband God had called me to be. I needed to reject passivity and take the initiative to resolve conflict.

In the last six years we have worked hard on our marriage. It has required trusting God through some very honest and difficult discussions. There has been a lot of pain – but it has been pain with a purpose.

Along the way I have constantly been encouraged to be strong and courageous because God is with us. The result is a marriage that is far greater than anything we ever could have imagined.

About Bill and Leslie Ferrell

Bill and Leslie have been married for 31 years, have 2 children and 2 adorable grandchildren: ages 1 and 3. Bill has been in vocational ministry his entire adult career and is currently the Executive Director of Pinnacle Forum – a ministry to marketplace leaders. Leslie is the CEO of Big Idea, Inc., the makers of Veggie Tales. And she does love her biscotti!

Bill and Leslie Ferell
HopeInYourHands-FrontCover

30 Day Devotional

This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!

Family Bridges App

Books too “last century” for you? This customized app will give you access to resources to manage your own growth or even take the journey with a group of friends. What are you waiting for?

Budgeting for a Baby

Budgeting for a Baby

Contributed by
Freddie Beckley

Congratulations – you’re having a baby! Now get to work! … Just kidding. You may only have a few short months to get ready for that bundle of joy, but this time should be fun, pleasant and downright enjoyable. Not just for you and your spouse, but for the baby too. Studies have shown that newborns are heavily affected by their parents’ stress levels. Even when they’re in the womb, a baby can hear what’s happening around them, and you don’t want them to hear you arguing or stressing. So, with the emotional wellbeing of your child in mind, below is a list of easy things you can do to alleviate one of the most stressful parts of being a parent – finances.

1. Wait before Buying in Bulk

When my wife and I were preparing our home for baby, we wanted to have enough of everything. We didn’t want to be without baby Tylenol or a thermometer or a diaper in the middle of the night when we needed it most. As a result, we bought a lot of things up front, and we had to donate or get rid of some of it. A great example of this is the pacifier. We bought about a dozen and were gifted another dozen more. The only problem is, our baby doesn’t use a pacifier. Oh well, at least we have little baby shower gifts for our friends over the next few years…

Bottom line: there are certain staples that will never expire and you can never have enough of, for instance baby wipes or formula, but a lot of items are time sensitive. Diapers and clothes, for example, won’t always fit. Be wary of overbuying every little item just because you want to feel prepared. Buy enough for the first month, and then once you have a better sense of your needs, continue to shop.

 

2.  Bottle it Up

We were concerned that our baby wouldn’t take a bottle unless it was the exact right shape and size, so we bought about 9 different types. This wasn’t a bad idea, but it was a little overkill. We’ve come to find that our daughter doesn’t care what kind of bottle she drinks from, and we actually prefer the cheapest one on the market because it fits with my wife’s breast pump.
Bottom line: grab a few different kinds of bottles to be safe, but wait to see what your child prefers before buying more.

 

3. Learn to Share

I was SO excited to become a dad that I started stocking up on my gear immediately. I bought my own diaper bag and filled it with blankets, a changing pad, baby shampoo, ointments, etc. My wife did the same, and now we have 2 fully-stocked diaper bags. This sounds good in theory but, since we don’t have twins, we only ever take 1 diaper bag out at a time. The other one sits at home.
Bottom line – communicate with your partner to share the essentials. You don’t need 2 of everything.

 

4. Shop Early and Shop Often

My wife is brilliant. Let me tell you why. She started shopping for clothes as soon as we got pregnant, up to 12 months. When our daughter was born, she had all the shirts, pants, onesies, mittens, hats, jackets, sweaters, socks, and swimsuits she would need until her first birthday. Because we spaced it out over 9 months, we only shopped in the clearance sections of baby stores. Did you know winter outfits are 60-90% off in the Spring? Now you do.

Bottom line – Go ahead and buy the clearance clothes 6-12 months early and not only will they be much cheaper, but chances are your baby will be the only one with that cute Christmas outfit since they stopped making it. #win

P.S. Look online for items too. We buy formula and baby wipes in bulk online and end up saving a pretty penny.

 

5. Find the Free

I looked it up, and the number one financial regret of newborn parents is wasting money on toys and presents the baby can’t appreciate. Avoid the same mistake! If you want to give your baby a 6-month birthday present, give them a box. If you want your baby to have an awesome experience, don’t take them to Disneyland. Take them to the park. It’s free.

Bottom line – find all the free things you can and live it up with baby. Many libraries and bookstores have story time. A place in our neighborhood offers a free music class for babies. As your children grow up, they may want more and more expensive things. Enjoy this sweet time when they have no idea what’s going on.

 

6. Baby Swap

Not that you don’t love your baby, but there will come a night when you and your spouse need a night out. When that time comes, don’t waste money on a babysitter. Find a friend or family member you trust to watch your child for a few hours. It’s even better if they have a baby themselves. That’s why I like to set up Baby Swaps. Take turns with other parent couples watching each others’ babies. When you and your spouse are watching your friends’ baby, your baby will get to work on their social skills. When you and your spouse want to go on a date, you’ll be more comfortable leaving your baby with a trusted friend than a hired hand.

Bottom line: babies always seem to come in waves. In the last year, 8 of my close friends have become pregnant. Find those friends with a child about the same age as yours and ask if they want to trade off with you.

What’s been your experience when budgeting for a new baby? Share your experience in the comments section!

For more tips on finances and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

The Credit Card Debt Payoff for Beginners

The Credit Card Debt Payoff for Beginners

Contributed by
Melanie Lockert from brightpeak financial

Want to pay off your credit card debt? Learn more about the six steps you need to take to become financially free.
It might have started off innocently enough: charge a little here, charge a little there — and suddenly you find yourself deep in credit card debt. What seemed small and manageable has become an overwhelming burden. If you’re feeling stuck in credit card debt, you’re not alone. In fact, U.S. citizens owe a total of $747 billion in credit card debt according to a recent Federal Reserve report. 

Luckily, there is a way out. Here’s the credit card payoff plan for beginners.

 Step 1: Know what you owe

Denial is a powerful factor when it comes to debt, but to get out of debt, you have to face the numbers, no matter how gruesome they are. Log into all of your credit card accounts and tally up the total. Write down the final balance on a piece of paper and keep it in your wallet. Post it on your bathroom mirror. Facing the facts can be tough, but you need to see the numbers to create a plan.

Step 2: Check your interest rates

Interest is what makes paying back debt a pain. It’s the extra fee charged for the convenience of borrowing money. Credit card interest rates may vary, but typically they can be fairly high. If you have multiple credit card balances, write down your interest rates next to your total balance for each loan. It’ll come in handy with the next step.

Step 3: Choose a debt repayment strategy

After tallying your total balance and knowing the interest rates on your credit cards, it’s time to choose a debt repayment strategy. There are two tested methods that can help.

The debt avalanche method focuses on paying off the highest interest debt first. During this time, you pay the minimum on your other credit card balances. This strategy saves money on interest, but it may take longer to chip away at the balance.

The debt snowball method pays off your smallest balance first, while paying the minimum on the rest. This method is effective as it offers quick wins and doses of motivation at the start. The downside is you could pay more in interest.

Step 4: Calculate how much you can really put toward debt

The minimum payment on your credit card can be a trap. After all, it’s just the minimum, which makes it hard to climb out of debt. If you’re serious about tackling credit card debt, look at your income and expenses to see if there is any wiggle room to cut back. For example, consider reducing some of the “wants” in your budgets like going out for lunch or overpriced movie dates. If you prioritize paying off credit card debt over everything else, how much can you realistically put toward debt each month, while still paying your bills? You want to create a plan that helps you get out of debt faster, while also managing your day-to-day expenses.

Step 5: Earn more money

Cutting back on your expenses is a great initial strategy, but to overhaul your progress, you also want to focus on earning more money. This can help you become debt-free sooner. Consider getting a job on nights and weekends. Using the sharing economy, there are many ways to quickly earn more money. Let your friends and family know you are willing to help out and that you’re looking for gigs. Ask for a raise at work. Adjust your tax withholding if you typically get a tax refund. There are many ways to earn more — the key is to get started.

Step 6: Put the credit cards away

The solution to your problem isn’t the thing that created the problem. In other words, you don’t want to use credit cards while you are trying to pay off credit card debt. It’s too easy to get back into bad habits rather than focus on paying off balances. Put the credit cards away and start using cash and a debit card. This can help you spend what you have and detox off of credit.

You can do it

Using these six steps, you can eliminate credit card debt. It’s not an easy task, and one with a lot of ups and downs, but it’s totally doable. Once you’re debt-free, your money will be yours and your hard work will pay dividends. Ready to get started? Download our Illuminate app to rock your budget and pay down debt.

This post is originally from brightpeak financial, an organization that helps couples and families get on track financially.  You can read the original post here.

Reasons to Refinance

Reasons to Refinance

Contributed by
Ashley Reed

What kind of debt do you have? Car loans, student loans, mortgage? If you have any of the above, chances are that you can shorten your loan period and decrease your total payment to your lender by refinancing!


Refinancing helps you out by reducing your interest rate and the total amount that you pay towards your loan.


An example: Let’s say that you buy a car for $15,000 with a 7% interest rate, with a loan term of five years. If you don’t refinance, you will end up paying a total of $17,821 towards the vehicle, which is over two thousand dollars more than what you originally paid for it! Let’s say that after one year paying 7% interest, you have put $3,564 towards the principal and interest of your auto loan. You still have $11,436 due, and want to lower the amount that you pay towards interest. So you refinance your  loan and secure a 2% interest rate. With this new interest rate, you will end up paying a total of $11,909 towards your remaining loan.


Let me break it down visually:


Original Loan

7% Interest Rate

$15,000 Loan

5 Year Term


If you stick to the same loan term and interest rate, you will pay $17,281 for your car over the course of five years.


Let’s say that you stick with the loan for one year, paying $3,564 towards the balance and interest. You then decide to refinance the remaining $11,436 that you owe on your car.


Refinanced Loan

2% Interest Rate

$11,436 Refinanced Loan

4 Year Term


If you add what you paid towards your car during the first year to the refinanced loan balance and interest paid over the course of four years, you will have paid a total of $15,473 towards your car! If you didn’t refinance, you would have paid almost two thousand dollars more for your car; that is enough extra cash to take a nice weekend vacation!


If you aren’t sure how your interest adds to your balance over it, check out Credit Karma’s loan calculator.


Have you ever refinanced a loan before? Share your experience in the comments section!

For more tips on finances and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.