co-par·ent

The Cowboy teases me all the time, “You know how I knew I had found a good woman? I saw what kind of ex-wife you are.” 

..…………

I’m not sure that my ex would agree with the above statement and I’m not trying to blow smoke up anyone’s #*s. Especially my own. I sincerely have tried, from the moment we realized we were going to become parents – to this day – 8 years post our divorce, to be the best possible co-parent that I can be. Which means doing my best to ensure we are both as involved as possibly in raising a healthy child. To always try and do right – by her.

Over the years that’s meant finding a better way when she struggled with direct transitions. To make sure when she’s with me she has the ability to talk with her dad every single night because, well just because if she wanted to she should be able to. To never talk bad about him in front of her or, ever at all if I can help it. Rethinking our 2-2-5 schedule and was that best for her as she got older. Attending school conferences and doctors appointments together so we would both (hopefully) hear the same challenges and accomplishments. Seeking together – advice from a jointly agreed upon 3rd party when we couldn’t agree on something. To make sure she feels safe to love us both equally. The list, as many of you know because you’re in the same boat, goes on.

I’m not saying I’ve always done it well. Or that he has either. In fact, we’ve struggled. A lot. But we try.

…………..

Picking up where I left off the other night .. I would have thrown all this and the kitchen sink into that post about why co-parenting well through and after divorce is critical but I didn’t want it getting too long and it seemed it was already. And it seems perhaps we need to start with the basics because there appears a sincere lack of knowledge this word even exists in many families let alone the current family court system.

co-par·ent
kōˈpe(ə)rənt,-ˈpar-/
verb
gerund or present participle: coparenting
  1. 1.
    (esp. of a separated or unmarried couple) share the duties of parenting (a child).

Here’s the deal.

Co-parenting was most likely important to you in marriage (or family unit). You both had a role. The kids relied on you both to be there for them. If there is anything still worth doing in a family that’s being torn apart, it’s to let those kids have that same access to both parents, assuming both parents are fit, loving, willing and able. At a time when the two adults involved along with their extended families are most likely hurting the most – that is the most important time to try and make this work. It shouldn’t be a forced, last resort for those wanting to get back at any other party for whatever hurt you may be going through. Far too often, it seems, this is the case with little acknowledgement you’re not the only one somehow hurting in this situation. It’s not all about you.

Sharing as equal time possible as well as the decision making with your soon-to-be or long done and over ex, is collectively what most experts in the field will tell you is in a child’s emotional and physical best interest. Again, this is assuming most parents want to be as much a part of their children’s lives as possible and that you are both fit, loving, willing and able (especially in regard to distance). Sharing this model of parenting is increasingly is shown to trump any concerns about a child ‘living out of a suitcase.’

There are incredible resources out there for families going through divorce or struggling with any issues post divorce. Among them, is this really nice co-parenting how-to-perhaps-do-it-well-despite-wanting-to-poke-the-other-parents-eyes-out-with-a-sharp-stick checklist at helpguide.org

If you get a chance, read and seriously consider why co-parenting through divorce is increasingly what is recommended and just extremely important overall when and where possible. What taking that advice to heart could mean for you and your kids.

Other helpful resources (a mix of just a few that can easily be found online) and if you have any you might recommend, please share. Thanks for stopping in.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce

http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/534

http://ourfamilywizard.com/ofw/

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Stayin’ Alive and Kitchen Table Discussions About Divorce

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, like most nights, with the Cowboy. To set the scene, he’s making fun of me because I’m in my ‘get stuff done mode’ – trying to get this written, have it make sense, not piss anyone off and have an ounce of valuable takeaway. Which I can’t be sure of if I don’t focus on this before I hit publish. It’s not all that p-c to tell you what he’s doing to get me to laugh .. I can tell you however, he’s been laughing at himself as he rocks out again tonight on his guitar to Stayin Alive. We are apparently in a Bee Gees phase.

Playing Guitar

I want to write about co-parenting, what it is and how some experts advise doing it well. Because, it’s a constant struggle to do well in divorce, if parents consider doing it at all. Because it’s an ongoing conversation in our home. Because we have children and we are challenged to always be doing things better for them. And because we see so many of our friends (and quite honestly complete strangers who share way too much with us at times, which is okay, don’t get me wrong) that struggle with it and often want advice. 

Having said that, I feel perhaps it’s important to start this conversation with the following information:

I have done my best over the past 13 years now, to be a good co-parent. My ex may argue with me, but I’ve tried. To me, that journey started well before our child was even born.  

My efforts didn’t stop with our divorce. I have always felt my daughter needed my ex husband as much as she needed me in her life. We both bring different personalities and traits and skill sets to the table. And, she loves us both. 

We have shared equal time – split absolutely down the middle, almost this entire journey post separating. We agreed to this in what’s called a collaborative divorce process where we sat down at the table together, with our attorneys and literally discussed how we would work together on everything – and never say anything negative about the other in her presence, because it was and is in the best interest of our only child. Equal time. Equal say. Equal rights. Equal everything for the most part. 

We’ve worked over the years on a weekly basis (every Monday), to email each other with any and all updates in regard to anything involving our daughter. It was recommended as a good model for contact and communication because we were struggling with our communication otherwise. 

Those emails weren’t perfect – on either side. We’ve had our share of other issues as well. Issues that, no matter how much love was behind the root cause, ultimately became detrimental for our daughter’s overall well being. 

But we’ve tried always to do what is right by her.  What does that mean though….  

Damned if you do ..

The Cowboy is standing at the sink, cleaning up after having just made us both some breakfast. We’ve both got busy days ahead. And we’re both already somewhat exhausted. Neither of us slept much last night, the dogs were out and barking incessantly for some reason until about sun-up this morning.

Further exhausting us, is a situation we both feel passionately about. One that we are confronted with on a daily basis through the eyes of so many others as well as our own situations; the healing of families after divorce and doing what is in the best interest of the children stuck in the middle of what can often be a tough situation.

The Cowboy is heading to a South Dakota Shared Parenting Rally here in just a bit, a group he’s quietly helped lead behind the scenes for a couple of years now. It’s a group he joined and quite honestly, helped to restart out of the pain of his own family’s situation. The mission since, has become far greater. I’m not overstating this – there isn’t a day when at least one person isn’t calling the Cowboy asking for advice, needing someone to understand where they’re at and asking why no one seems to care that their children have been ripped out of their lives other than four days a month for no apparent reason – a standard custody judgement in South Dakota no matter how good or fit both parents may be, no matter how close they may live, no matter that a growing amount of evidence shows it is best for children whenever possible to have as much time with both parents assuming they are both fit, willing, loving and able parents. 

“It’s a no win situation,” the Cowboy says to me, still standing at the sink, looking not at me but thoughtfully out the window. “All I want, all most people want that are in my situation, is more time with their kids. If you don’t fight for it, people say you don’t care. If you do fight for more time, you’re told you’re bitter and angry. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

It’s not always about time, either. The concerns. There are so many other issues that surround children of divorce. And the parents, quite honestly. One parent badmouthing the other in front of the kids, phone calls or even standard visitation denied with no recourse for the offending parent, never any extra time given, important information about child development withheld, medical issues, the list goes on.

I’ve been cautious to post much of anything over the past year around the topic of our families for a number of reasons. These tough discussions permeate our everyday and are often the conversations the Cowboy and I have when we are alone. But I think there is an incredible amount we’ve learned and that we’ve learned through others that is worth sharing ..  discussions worth taking part in.

Information as simple as – does your state offer/promote collaborative divorce? There are so many I know of who look at me like, what are you talking about, when I ask if this is something they’ve considered.

Important questions to ask an attorney before you retain their services.

Important details to work through before you sign off on finalizing your divorce or custody arrangement.

Working out a communication plan in regard to the kids – if you have a tough time communicating in any way with your ex. What is a communication plan and what resources are available? And, do they work?

Divorce impacts over 50% of our society anymore, most often these couples have children. What states do divorce well? What can we learn from them? Where are there helpful resources for these families? How do you work with someone who doesn’t want to work with you but rather hurt you in a divorce/post divorce/through the kids? Is it possible?

What is happening legislatively across the nation when it comes to child custody arrangements, decisions and laws? Shared Parenting conversations and legislation are growing. But what does this mean?

The media, the family court system and our government like to talk about how big a problem fatherlessness is in our society, yet the system often seems stacked against men, especially. Why is this?

The less a non-custodial parent sees their kids, the more they’re required to pay in child support. May seem logical on some fronts and there are parents, countless parents tragically, who want nothing to do with their kids lives and be free of the financial burden. But I’m not sure that’s the norm. SO .. when you have a fit, loving, caring and genuine non-custodial parent asking for more time, not to get out of paying, but to genuinely have more time with their kids because it is what most likely best all around .. what incentive is there for a custodial parent to agree to any change the arrangement?

Deadbeat dads is another topic the media likes to latch on to and promote the heck out of, I know, I’ve worked in newsrooms that have done this. Let’s follow around the cop walking door to door with arrest warrants for those who haven’t paid up. That’s sexy ‘journalism’ to use the term loosely and is easy to promote, I can just hear the male announcer voice now booming 10 seconds of copy over how we have a society of deadbeat dads and how we can’t let them get away with it. While I will never think it is okay to walk away from your kids or the financial responsibility of them – I have now also seen firsthand why it would be easier for some dads, especially, (some moms too for the record) to walk away versus be put in the situation their ex spouses continually put them and their children in. I am amazed to even think I can now understand this. Not as easy a story to tell, but one equally worth sharing. Who’s got the guts (or quite honestly the time in a churn and burn world of media) to do it? Running stories that are deep and meaningful and true to both sides often bring out the Jerry Springer in many families. It’s a risky deal for news outlets and which side do you believe? Why perhaps the flip-side or even the front side often don’t get told. Stick to the facts of who hasn’t paid up and there’s your story.

What happens when two parents, both hurt by a marriage that didn’t work out for some reason, let go of the past and come together sincerely to move forward, work together, get along and operate in all honesty and do what is in the best interest of the child? What happens then? How does the child benefit/react/grow? What does this look like?

Where are there resources to help you learn to let go, get along? What are the warning signs your kids really aren’t handling the mess you’ve created well?

 

The system is broke in so many ways. How do you fix something so intimate as family and interpersonal relations? Can it be fixed? Who can help, if anyone? Who’s doing it well? I am not claiming to have any answers. But there are always others we can learn from.

I’m not saying I’m going to write about this everyday, but in light of some recent issues in our own family (positive and negative) and in a few conversations we’ve had with others in just the past week, I’m done being frustrated over saying nothing and the fear of saying anything. 

These conversations are happening, but they need to be happening on a broader scale than inside our own homes, or in isolated silos to friends who will listen and can empathize because they are in the same situation.

I’ve taken long enough to write this that the Cowboy has since left his perch at the sink where this whole conversation started, and has left for today’s Shared Parenting rally. Unsure if two people or two hundred people will turn out, he plans to be among them…

While others have told the Cowboy he’s an embarrassment for doing what he’s doing, I hope he knows how incredibly proud I am of what a good dad he is, of how much he cares about and for his kids, and that even if he can’t change his own situation, he’s doing what he can to create as positive a situation for other parents and children should they have to go down the same treacherous path.

Just One Upside to a Life ..

.. That Has Not Gone ‘According to Plan’.

When you’re young .. you can’t wait to grow up.  When you ‘grow up’.. we’re taught you go to school.  Find a job.  Find ‘the one’.  Get a dog.  Get married.  Buy a house.  Have children.  Save for retirement/college educations/and the little things.  Grow old together and live happily ever after.

It is a wonderful picture painted .. a great thing to strive for and would probably be a beautiful life.

I know and am close to a number of families who are older, who have had this life and have great stories to tell .. or who are currently living it out well.

On the flip side, I probably know more who are challenged to ‘live the dream.’  To follow, for so many reasons, the path that has long been considered our ‘societal norm.’

What is the norm anymore?  Kind of scary to think sometimes.  While it may not always be what we want or were hoping for .. while we may be disappointed we didn’t do better .. wished we had made better choices .. or done things differently ..

Relishing where we are at, is also one of the best things we can do in the face of adversity and change and disappointment over not being ‘where we are supposed to be’ at any given time in our adult lives.

For instance …

I had a house.  I loved my house.  I loved both my/our houses, actually.  The first one my ex and I lost to toxic mold, which meant we spent two years in and out of temporary residences with a newborn who knew nothing different and could handle it far better than perhaps her parents did.  But we made it through.  And then we bought a second home, far more home than we should have bought, but after a catastrophic loss on the first, insurance dictated what kind of second home we could buy and where it had to be located.  And we did the best we could, given the restrictions.  But it was tough.  And that was before the divorce.  In the divorce, I kept the house because I wanted to do what I could to give our daughter stability through what was another tough time for us all.  But it sank me, financially.

Don’t sell yet.  Don’t sell yet, friends and acquaintances in the real estate industry would tell me.  Let the market recover.  But little did we know, the recession was about to hit.  All I could do was try and work more, work harder, to make ends meet.  I was home less and less.  My gardens became overgrown.  The dogs had to entertain themselves while I was away.  And rarely did I see or have the chance to spend a few minutes chatting over the back fence with a neighbor.

………………..

A year and a half after selling the house, we find ourselves in a tiny two bedroom apartment.  We sold many of our things and I can’t wait yet to give away/sell more.  I’m tired of stuff.  I don’t want things.  I want time.  With my daughter.  With family, friends and others I love.  More savings.  Less debt.  Less house to clean.   Yard work, but only as much as I want.  And time to hang out with the neighbors.

Which for the first time in I would say most of my adult life, most of these things, I’m finding I am able to do either for the first time, or again.

I am loving the upsides of us downsizing.  And the things I’m rediscovering about life or myself or what’s important, I’m not sure I would have learned, not this quickly anyway, had everything just gone along according to society’s ‘master plan.’

Last night after my daughter and the ten year old next door took the dog for a walk, which they do most every night, I got to walk into their apartment to say, it’s time to come home and get ready for bed.  They were totally just hanging out, like I did with neighbors when I was a kid.

The adults spend time chatting out back, over a beer at the end of the day or the garden beds the landlord allowed to be built and who’s growing what.

We were talking about getting a whiffle ball game going some night.  A ‘community yard sale’.  A badmitton net put up.  The hula hoops were out.

The kids were learning some skateboard moves from one of the guys upstairs.  He’s a researcher in genetics.  His girlfriend a nurse.  Their roommate a chef.  Our other neighbor, a professor.  A teacher and nursing assistant live next door.  We’ve met and spent time with some of their families .. last night the woman who’s apartment I moved into, came downstairs from her now 3rd floor apartment and introduced us to her sister, who is deaf.  She may now give my daughter and the boy next door lessons in sign language.

Conversations I was rarely able to find time to have with my neighbors when I would come home each night to my actual home.

“Can we grab the dog,” is the text I find on my phone now almost daily from the neighbors in the apartment next door, knowing I’m still at work.  Then comes another, in jest, I think:  “We just looooooovvvvee her, you might not get her back.  Do not call the police.”

“What are you doing for dinner, we have extra food, come on up!”

“Grab a seat, stay!”

“Can I help you with that?”

“When’s the Cowboy coming back?” 🙂

“Do you want us to put something on the grill for you?  It’s hot ..”

I miss my old neighborhood (and neighbors), which isn’t too far from where I’m at in terms of physical location.  But while .. where I’m at in life isn’t necessarily where I’m supposed to be if you look at ‘the plan’ .. I couldn’t be in a better place.

It all comes back to being a mom ..

It’s been kind of a rough week on the home front for a few reasons.

One, I’m pretty hard on myself when I don’t feel like I’ve been the best mom I can be.

Two, sometimes so are others.  Hard on you, that is.  Certain that – if put in your shoes they could live your life and do the job better.

Three, it’s been an insanely busy week.  One where I’ve had much more on my plate than usual.  And usual is already ridiculous by most people’s standards.  On top of it, I haven’t felt well.  I do believe my nose is bleeding at the moment from blowing it so much, darn this cold/sinus infection/whatever it is.  So I’m sure I’m looking good to boot.

I sincerely don’t mean in any way to complain.

Everyone around me is sick.  Busy and hard on themselves I think at times, knowing if they had more time to do it all, they could do any of it better.  Some, I know are far more sick and challenged than I am at the moment so I try to rise everyday thanking the good Lord for whatever level of health I do have.

Just stating the facts.

But, everything this week:  event-wise, situation-wise, health-wise and otherwise, has come back to the whole issue of parenting for me and what I want for myself and my (and my ex’s) daughter.

Big picture stuff.

And big picture can be tough when you and your spouse or ex or whoever else might be in the picture .. can’t seem to ever get on the same page when it comes to even the little things.

(It sure is interesting, though trying to get it all worked out.  Thoughts to be shared perhaps, later.  For now, the Cowboy and I are off to solve the world’s problems over beer and a fish fry.  Isn’t that where all good problems are solved?)

Name them all?

I was going to write tonight about another topic related to marriage/divorce and some of what lies in-between .. because more good spinoff topics seem to keep coming up via (not even the Cowboy anymore but) friends, the more I write on any of this it seems.

But quite honestly, I just want to change the subject.  At least for now.  I need a breather because I’m relatively depressed after hearing from more friends that weren’t at all a part of the crazy mix last weekend .. Friends who are also struggling either personally or in their marriages.  And for some reason, having never read my blog before, they happened to log on this past week, digest the past couple of posts and reach out to let me know it was in some way helpful.  Which should make me feel good.  But I feel awful knowing any of them are hurting.  So .. I’m going to temporarily change the subject.

Come to think of it .. you know what else I might do?  (I’m always dreaming up new ways to further run myself ragged…)

What about creating some sort of ‘buck-up’ boot camp where we run everyone through a ‘things could always be worse’ series of events .. so whenever we might need a boost that our lives really aren’t that bad .. and we should appreciate even the crap we get from whoever it is when we come home each night .. (For me, that’s literal.  I come home to the dog that I have to walk each night and follow her with a baggie so that she can poop and I get to pick it up .. or the cats.  I hate cleaning out litter boxes.  But I hate the smell of litter boxes that haven’t been cleaned out even worse.  That may be obstacle, hmmm.  #3 I’m thinking) it is there to remind you.  Or, perhaps all it will do is prove to you, things are that bad and you’d rather scoop poop and run through a field of electric shock than go home.

People actually do pay good money to do that these days.  It’s called a mud run.  Look for one near you.  Sign up.  Toughen up and let’s get going on some positive changes in your life.

Sorry.  Tangent.

The whole point of what’s above is to say, I’m skipping relationship topics tonight.

In exchange …

I have a quiz for you.

(Insert cheer!  Or, collective groan.  You, of course get to choose.)

This is how I have spent the past couple nights now, with my daughter.  Studying states and their capitols.  There has been hand ringing, tears shed, some elation when she gets them right but mainly frustration that she gets any of them wrong.  If not what the state is or where, it’s how to spell it.

As she was struggling still with Connecticut and seemingly at wits end, I told her, “Try not to stress so much.  Just do your best and picture in your mind what you’ve written down time and again to practice.  Or, just write it down and then go back and sound it out to be sure you’ve spelled it as correctly as possible.”

She looked at me, I believe, still feeling rather defeated.

“Chances are,” I added .. “You’ll do better than most adults if we gave them the same quiz anyway.”

Her eyes flew wide open.

So there.. my challenge to you.  And, her challenge to me tonight.  Well, hers and ‘the boys’ .. that’s what the neighbor affectionally calls his stepson.  Despite the fact the two go to different schools, they have the same quiz tomorrow.  They were testing each other for a few minutes this evening.

Name them.  Can you?

The 50 states and capitols.

Not just name them, though.  Can you also get them in the right place?

Have fun .. good luck .. and in case a little music might help put you in the right frame of mind:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_HeLofy7IE   I had never heard that before this week. You?

Here’s the deal:

No matter how you do on the test, referring back to the assignment a couple days ago .. if you only talked nicely about your significant other today, you get an A+.

The Best Advice You Were (Never) Given?

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

…………….

I have a colleague who’s last day at work was today ..

At least for now.

We will see him again soon, only with one change.  Well maybe more than that.  He could come back with a tattoo somewhere we’ll never see.  Or have suddenly decided to become a vegetarian.  But one change that we’ll at least know for sure.  He will return to work in about a week and a half with a shiny new ring on his left hand.

He’s a great guy and he’s marrying a wonderful young woman this weekend, the two have been together quite some time, they seem like a great couple and they are excited to be getting married.

I of course, truly and sincerely wish them every blessing a lifetime of love can bring and the best in their marriage.  So do many, many other family and friends of theirs .. and of course all of our colleagues ..

Yet I heard someone say to him today, jokingly .. ‘it’s not too late.’

I might have said that as well a year ago.  But I would have meant it.

Quite honestly, I’m not so sure the relative newlywed that did say it today didn’t mean it. Actually, I know she did because she followed it up by saying just above a whisper but I was close enough to hear, “I actually meant it.”  Which makes me sad.  It wasn’t long ago she was that person rushing off, so excited to get married.  The wear and tear I already hear in her voice is heartbreaking.  (Perhaps I should show her yesterday’s blog.)

Anyway, a year ago for me, I was done.  Done dating.  For a very long time anyway.  That was my plan.  I had NO intention of even thinking about trying to connect with another person in regard to dating again .. and marriage?  Marriage was simply never again going to be a discussion.  The destruction I was witnessing in so many directions around me regarding other couples was enough to make me swear any of it off, I was almost certain, forever.

After focusing on my health and fitness, staying close to girlfriends I knew had my back and me theirs, working with a life coach and being faithful to pray and go to church, I put it all in God’s hands.  I told myself a year ago, ‘Focus on your daughter and your career because it is clearly a much better use of time and energy.’

I had had it.

Then along comes this cowboy.

…………..

My faith has honestly and genuinely (I am somewhat sincerely shocked) been restored that good marriages/relationships, heck even incredible ones do still exist.  That it is possible to connect with someone on a level so deep, that it’s okay to trust in it.  That it is safe to again, give another person (besides your child) .. everything you’ve got.

But I also believed that, the first go round.

A dear old friend of mine, one whom I miss terribly and have always looked up to, who I had no idea ever ventured to read any of these posts, left a comment today on yesterday’s post .. and the challenge I had linked to about being conscious to say only uplifting, positive things to your spouse and about your spouse to others, for 30 days.

She wrote:”I believe in love, family, marriage. I believe it. I know so many people of divorce did too at one point. Including my own parents. But if you really were honest….would those people of divorce have noticed flaws early on, red flags, where perhaps they should not have gotten married? My own mother said just that…..she always had a bit of a red flag moment in her, that said perhaps they shouldn’t. But it was the 60s…she was 22…EVERYONE got married.I feel awful hearing of friends’ marriages in trouble. Makes me so sad, yet its inevitable. Statistically, its going to happen. I will work every day to make sure that it is not me.

We don’t always see red flags as red flags.  We see them as challenges perhaps we can work through.  Troubles for one person, not you both as a couple, that might heal/get fixed in time.  Or with counseling.  Or that some red flags are ‘just stress’.  Or what I feel my ex and I believed, which was – that it was so great we were complete opposites – because somehow then we complimented each other.

In hindsight .. my ex says his family told him we would never work.

Maybe they did.  But we thought we knew better.  And, we loved each other so we tried.

But in trying, failing and throughout the years since, I have learned quite a few lessons.  Lessons I hope guide me well (they better or I’m going to be really peeved .. ) into the future.

Back to my colleague.  Knowing he and his beautiful bride were heading off into the great known, or dare I say, the great unknown that is marriage … I was pondering today, what possible advice would or could I ever give a couple just starting out, to help them succeed in love .. and marriage.

Would they care what I have to say anyway.

Probably not.  Most often we learn best by falling and getting back up on our own.

But for my own daughter’s sake…

I wanted to jot down a few thoughts so that she may look at this, someday, when she is contemplating any relationship of her own.

Love each other.  Speak kindly to each other.  More kind than is necessary where you can.  Date.. always.  Establish a good cache of babysitters.  Surround yourself with good friends and lots of family.  Know that sometimes friends are family.  But also know when it’s time for it to be, just the two of you.  Communicate.  And if you don’t do it well, find someone who can help you figure it out because it is perhaps the most important thing you can work on – for each other.  Laugh, a lot.  Listen every now and then to the tone of your voice and make sure it sounds the way you are hoping to be heard.  Hold hands.  Take walks.  Remember, it’s not always 50/50.  Chances are any slacking in one area by your spouse is being more than made up for by your slacking in another area.  Pray, together.  Don’t put a TV in the bedroom.  Ask each other about your day and mean it.  Spend less time worrying who is right and more time worrying about what is right.  Have one standing meeting each week where you can bring your grievances/frustrations to the table, talk about it and work out a solution together when it’s not in the heat of the battle.  (My ex and I learned this through years of counseling and thousands of dollars billing.  Don’t spend the money to hear the same, just do it.  It was one of the best things we did.)  Continue those standing meetings even if everything is going well and use it instead to celebrate all that is right.  (My ex and I failed on this part here.  Which may be among the reasons we are no longer together.)  ‘Let your love be stronger than your hate or your anger.  Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.’  (- Jane Wills)  Remind yourself each morning of why the person next to you is a blessing in your life.  And perhaps do the same again each night, before you go to bed.

I’m sure I’m missing a few big ones here.  But those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head.  Thoughts that might someday be helpful to you, my beautiful daughter.  Who knows about anyone else.  Anyway, I never had a conversation like this with my own parents, in terms of what strengthens any relationship/marriage.  It’s one, in hindsight, I wish I had been able to have .. and still hope to with my dad, among others I know carry volumes of relationship wisdom from a life well lived.

Given I know a few people at least are reading this .. I am wondering, what advice would you give to newlyweds?  Or, to those even currently in a marriage but struggling.  What does it take to not only make a marriage work anymore, but work well, thrive and last?

You may now kiss the bride.  Or whoever has helped you learn those lessons.  🙂

Cheers.