Before You Plan The Wedding: 8 pre-marital essentials for long-term marriage

~Marriage Is A Partnership That Requires~

 Negotiation
Compromise
Selflessness

~Statistics Do Not Lie
According to the American Psychological Association 40-50% of married couples in the US divorce.
The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.

8 Topics To Discuss With Your Partner

1. Finances/Budget:  According to studies, the top predictor of divorce is arguing about money early in relationships. As a marriage counselor, I witness this in my practice daily. Be sure to negotiate regarding joint accounts, separate accounts. How will you define needs vs. wants? As a couple, you both should have knowledge of all accounts and develop a budget ON PAPER together.

2.  Navigating In-Law Relationships:  It will be important to recognize that in-laws are a great gift to our marriages as a support network.  Sometimes good meaning in-laws want to offer advice from how to keep house to how you should raise your children.  Issues with in-laws can put a great strain on a marriage.  Be sure to set clear boundaries with in-laws regarding their role in your marriage.  Marriage is a dance and you will move together fluidly one day then step on each others feet the next.  Part of marriage is learning to navigate the dance floor as a couple.

3.  Religious Views:  What are your expectations regarding religion and practicing spirituality as a family?  Do you expect that your spouse will attend church with you?  How will the children be raised regarding religion?  If you don’t know your partners religious views be sure to have that discussion now!

4.  Readiness For Children:  The “”when to have a baby” discussion can lead to stress and anxiety in a marriage.  Be sure to talk with one another regarding having children.  When would be a good time?  How will we balance work, play and family?  Again, never make assumptions that you know what the other one may be thinking.

5.  Sexual Views: An issue that comes up in my marriage counseling work is pornography.  This can feel like a taboo issue but the reality is that social media is full of pornographic images and content.  Do you both share the same moral values regarding viewing or not viewing pornography?  Sometimes spouses are shocked to find out that their partner views pornography and feels, “what’s the big deal?”  It is a big deal if your spouse has different values.  Discuss this tough subject now to avoid issues later in the marriage and more importantly….in the bedroom

6.  Fighting Fair: Fighting is ok.  However, there are important rules in fighting.  First of all, keep it private and never fight in front of the kids.  Children should never be exposed to adult themes.  Do not assassinate your partners character with name calling.  Your goal is to be heard and not to harm.  Ask yourself am I, “I have to be right fighter?”  Am I only interested in being right?  It is important to teach each other what your needs are.  Most importantly, ask yourself, “What is my part in this fight?  Do I need to do something differently?  Take your own moral inventory….not your partners.

7.  Keeping House:  This is a big one.  So many couples fight over housework.  Who should do it or should we get a cleaning service.  How are you going to compromise and negotiate around this area?  Wives, be careful not to become your husband’s Mom keeping up after him to clean up.  This is a major intimacy killer.  Husbands, be sure to check-in to see how you can be helpful.  If your wife is a stay-at-home Mom be sure to support her and not belittle her efforts.  Staying at home with kids is a tough and dirty job that goes 24/7.

8.  Individuation:  What I mean by this is the importance of keeping your individuality after you are married.  Just because your married does not mean you cannot enjoy some of the things you did before you were married like play softball, having a girls shopping or dinner night.  It is very healthy to separate sometimes and have some space from one another.  Make sure you talk about this area.  This issues comes up repeatedly in my office.  I hear, “He’s never around, he’s out with his buddies.” or “She goes out with her girlfriends to the club and I don’t like that.”  Discuss expectations and also social deal breakers.  Remember you are married now and some of the social rules will need to change.

As a marriage therapist I highly recommend that every couple take a few weeks of pre-marital counseling to negotiate these areas.  I see many couples in my office before they hit their one year anniversary because they were so focused on flowers and wedding dresses that the most important areas got put on the back burner.  Don’t get me wrong, the celebration is important but have a balance and address the heart issues of marriage as well.

If you are getting married many blessings to you and your finance’.

His Daughter,

Melanie

Soul Wounds -A Healing Balm for the broken places of our past

Jeremiah 8:22 says, “Is there no balm in Gilead?  Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?”     

What is a soul wound?  I define a soul wound as:

-Painful hurts from your childhood or past that were covered with a Band-Aid without any medicine or loving care administered.  The wound underneath the Band-Aid continues to bleed or is infected and continues to cause great emotional and spiritual pain in your life leading to destructive behaviors or habits that cause us great harm.

to lead them into destructive behaviors. 

Unfortunately, Israel did not see the need to heal their soul wounds.  They turned to idol worship and sinful living as God looked on with great grief.  They chose brokenness as a way of life.

Their soul wounds enslaved their hearts! 

Jeremiah 8:21 says, “For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded; I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.”

As God’s sons and daughters, the cry of God’s heart is to restore us and heal the broken places of our hearts.

Today, here this good news!!!  There is balm in Gilead!  God wants us to come as His adopted children to receive restoration.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare, not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

What a glorious promise!  Despite our brokenness and poor choices from our past, God longs to restore us.  Ask God to come and reveal the wounds of your soul so that you begin allowing God to heal those hidden places of your heart that remain wounded and weeping.  Don’t be stubborn like Israel, don’t fall into destructive behaviors that will only cause you pain and suffering.  Seek The Great Physician!

There is a balm in Gilead for your wounds!!

His Daughter,

Melanie

                           

Soul Care: 5 warning signs that you may be soul weary

soul care deanna pic

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  -Proverbs 17:22

As a woman, we can be easily pulled under by the under-toe of life’s to-do list.  Before we know it, life’s current has pulled us out to sea without a life jacket and we’re left on our own trying to keep our nose above water.  Eventually, the waves of life pushes us into shore, laying face down in the sand like a ship-wrecked survivor.  We are left weak and dehydrated in our souls, crying out for nourishment.

Does this sound like you?  Then you may be “soul weary.”

Here are 5 warning signs that you may be soul weary.

1.  Fatigue or inability to sleep:

When I am overwhelmed and I can’t shut off my mind, sleep then eludes me.  I then gradually become irritated and tired spending so much time entertaining my anxious thoughts all the while forgetting that I have a Father who loves me.

1 Peter 5:7 says,  “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

2.  Feelings associated with anxiety and or depression:

Pro-longed fatigue is then followed up with feelings of depression and anxiety.  The feelings associated with depression/anxiety are very deceitful because they send us messages about ourselves that are false.

Without soul care, the voice of truth (God’s voice)  becomes faded as the cares of the world close in on us.

3.  A sense of apathy toward life:

We find ourselves going through the motions of our day.  The small things in our day that we once found joy we are now numb towards.  Waking up and sipping our coffee, taking time to look at God’s creation around us, delighting  in the laughter of a child.  By staying connected in our spirits to God,  His presence pointing  us to  the joyful moments of the day.  God gently whispers to us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.

4.  Feeling out of control and relying on your own strength:

When I am soul weary I have to ask myself a question.  Am I relying on my own strength to get through the ups and downs of my life?  Am I seeking God for His nurturance?  Am I seeking the fellowship of my Christian friends by sharing my burdens or am I “white-knuckling” it on my own?  If I have learned one thing in life it’s that I cannot walk this journey alone.  I need God as my ever present help and I need His people to uphold me and to nurture me.  I need to share my weaknesses and my short comings so I know that I am not alone on this sometimes soul-weary journey.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

5. Your relationship with God is distant or even non-existent:

Early in this soul-care series I talked about a “healthy God image.”  You need to ask yourself, “How do I feel God views me?”  If you see Him as a distant father or mean task-master you are not going to seek Him to care for your soul.

If you haven’t read the blog regarding ä “healthy God image” I encourage you to do so. John 15:1-27 says,  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. …

You are so very loved by God, it doesn’t matter how your past life story reads.  If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you are forgiven and redeemed!  Praise His name!  I saw a quote once that said, “When satan tries to remind you of your past you can remind him of his future.”  Amen?  Your soul care depends on your relationship with God.

In the next installation regarding “soul care” I will share with you practical steps to starting and maintaining your soul care.  Until then, know that you are a precious child of God loved to the fullest!

His Daughter,

Melanie

Soul Care: Practical steps to start practicing soul care

soul care deanna pic Up to this point, we have discussed how being “Soul Weary” will manifest itself in our lives and 5 possible warning signs.

We have talked about how to be a, “Mary in a Martha World” and the importance of seeking God in a chaotic world and taking that time to sit at Jesus’ feet.

We also explored how we see God in relationship to our lives, “Do You Have a Healthy God Image?”  Do you see Him as a loving Father or a mean task-master?

Before taking practical steps toward soul care I would encourage you to scroll ahead and read the previous posts mentioned above I believe they will inspire and encourage you in your pursuit of peace and serenity!

PRACTICAL STEPS TO SOUL CARE

~Choose a special place in your house that you can be your special retreat spot.  It can be a quiet place with a chair, it can be your bedroom, it can be your front porch or back porch.  Whatever spot you

choose be sure it’s quiet and secluded away from distractions.

~Don’t get caught up in what time of day to have your quiet time.  If you not a morning person that’s ok.  Maybe the best time for you to de-compress from the day is at night.  We are all

in seasons of our lives with babies to high-schoolers, empty-nesters or maybe we are single or care-taking an elderly parent.  It’s ok, God loves you no matter what time of day you seek Him for your soul

care.

~Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out and then repeat.  Imagine you are breathing in God’s love while exhaling the worries and concerns of the day or even day before.  Sit quietly for a few

moments just breathing.  I don’t know about you but sometimes I forget to breathe or I find myself holding my breath.  Breathe in the love of God deeply.

~Choose one of your favorite devotional books to read.  I love “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young or choose a bible verse to meditate upon.  Read it then read it again.  Ask God to speak to you through

the words.  Is there anything He would like to teach you through the reading or scripture?

~ DON’T COMPLICATE IT!  Keep it simple, quiet, meditative.  Ask God to renew your soul and breathe new life into you.

~The last step is to just enjoy.  Have a cup of tea or coffee with you, light a candle.  Sit at the feet of Jesus and let Him renew your weary soul.  Make this a daily habit and I promise that you will

experience a peace that passes all understanding.

 

His Daughter,

Melanie