Happy Anniversary! Five Steps to a Happy Marriage

Happy Anniversary! Five Steps to a Happy Marriage

Wedding RingsFirst a disclaimer: I’m not sure there are ANY five steps that guarantee happiness in any area of life, let alone something as long-term and complicated as marriage. But I DO know that there are some things that can make or break the union of two people.

Four years ago today (as I write this) I married Al Tanksley, and I’m more in love now than on the day I said, “I do!” I know four years doesn’t seem like a long time to those who have been married fifty years or more, but I certainly treasure every moment. Yes, we have had challenges, but we have met them together. And I look forward to many more good years together.

Here are some steps to a happy marriage in our experience, and I hope will do the same in yours:

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Doctor, Doctor: Your Family of Origin

Three GenerationsYou can’t choose your parents. Or your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If your family of origin was reasonably healthy you probably don’t think much about how you choose to relate to them. You look forward to family gatherings, and keep in touch between times together.

There is always some tension as young people grow up and leave home, but healthy families celebrate such transitions. While still connected, junior develops a life of his or her own. And you’re at least somewhat proud of your parents and the legacy they left you.

But not all families are so healthy. It seems some significant measure of dysfunction is the norm in most families. Volumes have been written on the topic, and the mental health field has provided numerous careers devoted to helping those from unhealthy families learn to function better now.

Growing up in a home with alcohol, drug use, rage, criminal behavior, or violence leaves permanent marks on your soul.

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5 Tips For Growing Up

5 Tips For Growing Up

Growing up is a process. Have you ever grown up in some significant way when everything was easy?

Probably not.

There’s the cliché that says, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” I don’t believe that’s always true. Sometimes trauma can stunt our growth: child abuse, rape, severe poverty, and others. There are probably many variables that determine how one responds: genetics, time, age, support, personality, and much more.

I DO know that the times when I’ve grown the most have definitely been some of the most difficult. That doesn’t mean to say I’ve grown from every problem! But if I hadn’t had real almost-overwhelming challenges at times I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Sometimes I feel like Einstein when a fire destroyed much of his work. Far from feeling devastated, he is reported to have said, “Now we can start over!”

So what can we do to turn a problem, a tragedy, a loss, a trauma into a growth experience? These tips can help make the difference in growing up.

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Dealing with Desire: Sex and Spirituality Part 2

Holding Hands“It” has been the vehicle for some of the best experiences human beings can have, and also some of the most traumatic and painful.

You’d think with all the downsides sex has brought, all the trauma, shame, guilt that so often have accompanied sex, that we’d shy away from it. But for the most part we keep going back for more. The desires are strong, and they’re rooted in the way we are made. Our need and desire for personal relationship – close, intimate personal relationship – will not be satisfied easily.

In Part 1, I talked about how big this sexual hunger is, and the ways it can often get us in trouble. And now we need to address what to do about it all.

If our desires are built in and divinely created, then it’s what we make the object of those desires and how we try to go about trying to get them met that can be at fault.

So what do we do with our desires? I offer these thoughts:

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Doctor, Doctor: Ignoring the Symptoms

Sick womanI’ll call her Mary.

I could probably use her real name: she’s been dead over 20 years. I met her one night in the emergency room during my residency training. She had been bleeding for months, and finally became so weak that she allowed her family to bring her to the hospital. She hadn’t seen a doctor in years.

The diagnosis was easy to make once I examined her: late stage cervical cancer. We went through the steps: blood transfusion, biopsy, various X-rays, radiation treatment. We kept her as comfortable as we could. But Mary never went home again. She died less than three weeks later.

The real tragedy is that Mary didn’t have to die. At least not then. Not that way. She could have probably lived several more decades enjoying her life, her family – if only ….

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