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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Can You Make Marriage Work?

Two Very Different People

You are two very different people who have decided to run the rest of your lives as a partnership. Wow! You have to decide:

  • whether to have a pet
  • who does what
  • where to live
  • whether to have children and how many
  • what kind and color of car to buy
  • whether and where to go to church
  • how to spend free time
  • what music to listen to
  • what t.v. and movies to see
  • when to go to bed and when to get up
  • where to go on vacation
  • who does what
. . . and much much more.  All of this and still each be who you are!

The dance is between connection and autonomy, love and fear. The hardest part is to listen without defending and to talk without blame. Talk about expectations before you marry. No surprises! Talk about roles. Get to know each other and don't ignore red flags. There is much more to deciding about marriage than "falling in love". Hopefully, you are making a lifetime decision so make it with your head and not just your heart.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Can Love Last? Jacque and Dave Leek

This Is Our Story
I love to think back to our first kiss in that special parking lot, seven blocks from Heald Business College in downtown Sacramento. Dave had been away from school for a few days. I really missed him. I finally asked another student if she knew why he wasn't at school. She was surprised that I didn't know he was in the hospital having surgery. I called the hospital immediately! Amazingly, the timing was perfect, as he was just being prepped for surgery. We spoke only a brief moment, but he later told me that all his fears about the surgery just disappeared.

A few days later, Dave showed up in "our" parking lot, just as I was leaving after school. I was thrilled to see him again. He surprised me with our first kiss when he leaned down through the window of my 1957 Plymouth. Then, he insisted I go home. I wanted to stay, but he said I needed to leave. So I drove away wondering why. When I arrived home, my mother opened the door with a strange look on her face. She stepped aside and I could see a dozen RED ROSES on the table with a card saying: "To the girl I hope to share a lifetime with." I was very surprised as we had not even dated.

We have done exactly that--shared a lifetime together! We were married about eight months later. We have two lovely daughters and their families to continue sharing our lives. We have been extremely blessed to have shared this life with our church family and many treasured family and friends. Most of all we give all the honor and glory to our Lord, Jesus Christ for His grace, love, mercy, and guidance throughout the years. We will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary July 20, 2013.

Our scripture: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends..."1 Corinthians 13:7,8  RSV

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Are Women More Adaptable Than Men?

Interesting Observation About Gender Differences

In an editorial I read this morning David Brooks, New York Times says, "The financial rewards to education have increased over the past few decades, but men failed to get the memo." In 1954, 96 percent of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Now the number is down to 80 percent. The latest jobs report shows male labor participation at an all time low.

Young Women Doing Better Than Young Men

Millions of men are collecting disability. According to Michael Greenstone of the Hamilton Project, annual earnings for median prime age males have dropped 28 percent over the past 40 years. Women in their 20's out earn men in their 20s. Brooks speculates that women are more fluid than men and take school more seriously. He believes women look for new jobs and new opportunities--going back to college and pursuing new careers.

Are Women Embracing the Freedom of Being Single?

Recently I talked to a friend who has been widowed for several years. I congratulated her on her recent engagement. She laughed. "He's a great guy," she said, "but I like being single. I decided not to get married." I wonder how many women, like my friend, are choosing autonomy over connection. What does that mean for the future of marriage?

Monday, September 3, 2012

How Do You Handle Change and Loss?

What You Can Control

You cannot control everything that happens, but you are responsible for your reactions to what happens to you. If you become rigid, defensive, and stuck, you will experience deterioration and disorder. If you stay open to grieving losses and use your energy to grow, you can transform a loss into a gain. Avoid becoming victim and trying to get others to rescue you.

Gains Can Include Losses

Sometimes changes that appear to be gains can also include losses that need to be recognized. The summer I got married, I had planned a trip to Europe with a friend. Giving up the trip was difficult. Eight years later my husband had a job transfer to Germany. We lived there for two and a half years and traveled extensively.

I started my career as a teacher. My husband went to college while I taught school. I became active in teachers' groups and eventually became President of the Sanger Elementary Teachers Association. My husband's graduation and the birth of our first child occurred simultaneously. My husband got a job in Sacramento. The move meant a loss of my career, the loss of friends and of having an important place in the community, the loss of our church, the loss of bringing in income. The new baby, although a joy and very much wanted, brought a loss of freedom to go and come as I pleased. It was very difficult and I went through all the stages of grieving.

Learning from Change

I learned. I found strengths I didn't know I had. I did a lot of introspection. I learned the importance of relationships and how to communicate better. I had always wanted to write. This was the perfect time to explore that interest and see if I could write for publication. I took a class on how to sell what you write. I used my family as models. Eventually I wrote a book, "How to Keep the Family That Prays Together From Falling Apart." That led to doing workshops on parenting and then to an interest in going back to school to get my degree in Counseling Psychology. I have been a psychotherapist for more than 30 years. I have come to realize that every loss in life can be a stepping stone to greater learning and maturity.