"Let God Choose Your Friendships" by Barb Rosberg

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Ladies, why is it when we think about good friendships with other women we risk feeling so vulnerable?

There are times, especially during stress, when you feel like you’re living alone through several seasons, waiting for some real friends to be consistent in your life, to grow with you in intimate authenticity, and to reassure you it’s okay to fail and to say the wrong thing—that a caring heart will come beside you and filter out the best in you. Make sense? This is the kind of friendship we need in hard times—and any time! Through the years God may hold back some key relationships in your life, or even remove them from you, but with age and hindsight you will begin to see with clarity that God’s purpose was protecting you from the wrong people. It’s difficult to say but true.

Have you ever thought about letting God choose your friendships?

Our close girlfriends have a wonderfully profound and mysterious way of influencing our outlook on life, love, family, marriage, work, priorities and our values, and can reshape our personhood through their perspective in subtle, but pretty monumental ways.

How? Because we let down our guard and we trust them.

My favorite football coach, Lou Holtz, says our perspective is 90% of our capacity to get through life. And frankly, I agree with him. He also says you can divide people into two categories: builders or bashers.

Another source calls people replenishers or drainers. And for us as women, our choice of friendships during the good times or the absence of those friends during life’s trials can really impact or impede our emotional well-being. Let me add a third type of friend: the neutral friend—she doesn’t commit, is aloof or doesn’t care. But believe me, each of these types of friends are either healing you with a legacy of love or adding to hurt in your heart from disappointments.

Do you think your choice of women friendships is critical? Does your husband ever remark that your girlfriends are either good or bad for you?

With all we have going on, some weeks are tiring, overwhelming, isolating, and we feel discouraged and even defeated at times. Life can be hard and even though we anticipate those times, it doesn’t make it any easier. I am not good without girlfriends in my life, and some weeks I need an ally to remind me how to hunker down and practice the great art of coaching myself UP!

What do I mean? Somehow through the stress and the feeling that we’re going it alone, we forget the importance of being thankful in all situations and praising God no matter what. God doesn’t want us living life without girlfriends. Why? So that we can encourage one another when we are weary. So that we can pray for, support, reach out and nurture one another, and so that we don’t topple over from going it alone. This week I was thinking about those three kinds of friends that we as women naturally have in our lives: those replenishers, drainers and neutral friends. 

God handpicked one girlfriend for me that consistently replenishes my spirit. She listens, I gush like a waterfall. I cry, she cries. And she shares in my joy and good days as well. Sometimes it’s not what a friend like this says in those times; it’s the fact that they care. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I am hugged by this friend and reminded to say “YAY!” when life is at best, confusing—because God is still good. 

When God chooses your friends while you’re in crisis they are generally the replenishers who rally you into a renewed belief to keep on going, cheering you on to keep fighting the battle on your knees, listening to God whisper your name in response to you crying out his name, confident in his strength alone because life’s stress comes in sizable waves of tsunami strength. And the only way through these battles is to maintain a positive, thankful, accepting perspective, latching onto God through them with a friend or two going shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, by keeping our perspective on Christ while forging through together. There is strength in numbers!

Can you think of one friend in your life that is a 100% replenisher? Have you let God choose your friends? 

Date Night Challenge Month Two

So how did month one go? Did you meet the challenge? If you didn't, you've got another chance this month!

Month 2:
This date is for a wife to plan for her husband and helps meet his love need for encouragement and affirmation.

A “Steak” Out
If your husband is like many men, a favorite meal is a big, juicy steak with all the trimmings. And if your household is like most households, steak is a luxury not consumed very often at home.

So, take your husband on a “steak” out. In other words, make reservations at the best steak house around (or maybe your husband would prefer to eat at a restaurant known for its ribs or seafood or Italian food). The point is, you’re going to splurge on him for this special night out and treat him to the best meal ever. You want to encourage him by saying “I want to lavish you with something that you’ll completely enjoy—something that we don’t do very often!”

Prep Steps

  • Decide the type of meal that will please your husband, or ask him where he would most like to go.
  • Make a reservation and put the date on your calendars. If possible, plan this date for a weeknight when the restaurant is likely to be less busy so you can enjoy a quieter atmosphere.
  • Schedule a babysitter, if needed.
  • Plan to turn off your phones when you go on this date to minimize distractions and focus on your husband.

Answer these questions together on your date:

  • In what areas does my encouragement mean the most to you?
  • Does it ever seem that I’m not giving you my full attention when you’re talking to me? When does that happen? What needs to change?
  • When do you judge yourself the most harshly? How should I respond when that happens? Do I ever judge you harshly? If so, in what situations?
  • Tell your husband five things you find worthy of respect and admiration in his life.

Check out our book!
Saying "I do" doesn't mean you're done! Find 40 inspiring ideas for dates with your spouse, geared specifically toward their top love needs as a man or woman. Gary and Barb share insights for husbands and wives on the different love needs and why it’s important to know them, as well as ideas, planning tips, and questions you can ask your spouse while out on your dates. Bring the zing back into your marriage with some unforgettable dates together! This book is currently our featured resource, and we are offering it at a discounted price of $10. http://www.americasfamilycoaches.com/store/40-unforgettable-dates-with-your-mate

 

 

A Great Marriage…Step by Step

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Let’s get practical—the big question is: what can I do today to help us on our way to experiencing a great marriage? Men and women are so different. In general, a man wants respect from his wife and a woman wants to be loved by her husband. So what are some practical things you can begin doing in your marriage right now to make a big impact?

For wives: Here are some simple acts of serving love that can help you show your husband that you honor and respect him, which will communicate that you really appreciate him.

  • Make time alone with him a priority. If your husband’s job and other activities keep him busy, it’s easy for other things to become more important than husband-and-wife time. Learn to sneak in time with him as you can in order to love, honor and cherish your husband above all else.
  • Honor his favorite things. Make a list of his favorites, such as a favorite dinner, dessert, date activity, TV program, etc.—and make sure he gets to enjoy those things occasionally.
  • Celebrate his birthday. Make his birthday a big deal even if he says he doesn’t want you to.
  • Say please and thank you.
  • Tell him what you need. He can’t read your mind—at least not always!
  • Lift a burden. Ask him, “If I could take something off your to-do list today, what could I do for you?”
  • Allow him to be himself. Don’t assume that your husband is going to think, feel, or behave as you do or as “the ideal husband” does. He will make mistakes. Allow him that freedom.
  • Affirm your husband’s maleness by showing interest in his hobbies. Attend a sporting event or watching a ball game with him occasionally. Be there to cheer him on.
  • Be more curious of your husband than critical. What interesting things does he do? Don’t judge him. Investigate and ask questions about why he does the things he does.
  • Appreciate his hard work. Thank him for working hard for you and your family. Let him know that you notice and admire his work.
  • Praise him to your children. Tell the kids how hard he works and what a good man he is. Tell them how much you love him and how important he is to you.
  • Compliment his efforts to be sensitive. If he makes special attempts to understand, listen, or comfort you, let him know how meaningful they are to you. Be specific about what you particularly like.

For husbands: Here are some simple acts of serving love that can help you show your wife that you honor and love her, which will communicate that you really appreciate her.

  • Ask her how you can help her, or dive in and help without being asked. It sounds like this: “Where do you need more of my help?” In a word: initiate!
  • When you disagree, immediately acknowledge her position. You don’t have to understand or agree. Just acknowledge that she has the right to her thoughts and feelings. It may sound like this: “I respect the fact that you feel strongly about this issue, and I always want to listen to your feedback. I need you to listen to my perspective as well.”
  • Never humiliate her. If she does something embarrassing in front of others, don’t make it worse. Regardless of the details or even if she’s at fault, don’t do it.
  • Share with others how important she is to you. Keep pictures of her in your wallet and on your desk. Talk about her to your friends and those you work with. Let her overhear you bragging about her—it does wonders for the relationship!
  • Support her in front of the children. Whether or not you agree with a decision she makes, back her up, then discuss your differences later in private. Tell the kids how much you love their mom and how much you appreciate all her gifts.
  • Never remind her of her mistakes, especially in front of others. Learn to forgive and work through concerns privately with her. This builds confidence in the marriage.
  • Remember special dates! Obviously, her birthday and your anniversary are key. But you should also commemorate dates such as the anniversary of the death of a parent or another loved one. Send her a note and comfort her on those days.
  • Never compare her to other women. This includes your mother, previous girlfriends, or anyone you know. Don’t even compare her to other women in a positive way.
  • Eat together. Don’t start eating the meal until she sits down, and don’t leave the table until she’s finished. And don’t leave her to eat in front of the TV!
  • Talk over decisions with her before they are made. This includes even the minor ones!
  • Set family goals so your wife doesn’t feel as if she is bearing the whole load. Be specific about what each family member must do to get the work done.
  • Share with her what you’re reading. Tell her about the key points you’re getting out of a book. Spark discussion with her on current events.
  • Ask her about her childhood. Work to understand her heritage and why she is the way she is (just steer clear of all mother-in-law jokes!)
  • Compliment her cooking. Make special requests!

Here’s the drill. Choose at least three of the items we listed for you and begin putting them into action this month. Wives, this will show your husband how much you love and respect him. And begin showing him respect even if you feel he hasn’t earned it. Husbands, this will show your wife how much you love her. You’ll both be pleasantly surprised to see your spouse encouraged and marriage refreshed just by taking a few simple steps.

 

Do You Know Your Spouse's Love Needs?

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Human nature is strange. Something in us assumes that if we treat our spouse the way we would like him or her to treat us, we are meeting our partner’s needs. But when it comes to needs, the Golden Rule does not always apply. Why? Because in many cases a husband’s needs are different from a wife’s needs. That is most evident in areas like sexual needs, but it is true in other areas as well.

If I asked you if you are meeting your spouse’s love needs, you would probably answer yes. In reality, what many of us are really doing is just assuming our spouse wants what we want, and so we act on that. Often we really don’t know what our spouse’s needs are. And if we don’t know what the needs are, we can’t possibly meet them effectively.

To help us understand the unique love needs of husbands and wives, Barb and I surveyed more than seven hundred couples. We presented them with a list of twenty needs and asked them to rank, in order of importance, what they needed from their spouse and what they thought their spouse needed from them.

Here are the top five responses:

Husbands’ Top Five Love Needs

1.   Unconditional Love and Acceptance

2.   Sexual Intimacy

3.   Companionship

4.   Encouragement and Affirmation

5.   Spiritual Intimacy

Wives’ Top Five Love Needs

1.   Unconditional Love and Acceptance

2.   Emotional Intimacy and Communication

3.   Spiritual Intimacy

4.   Encouragement and Affirmation

5.   Companionship

How do these love needs align with your own? Do any of these needs surprise you?

Barb and I have a good marriage. In fact we have a really good marriage. There are times when we are convinced that we have the best marriage on the planet. We’ll look each other in the eye and say, “What we have could not get any better.” Then there are other times when we know we haven’t arrived yet. But armed with our love for each other and the necessary information tools, we keep working to make our marriage the best that it can be. We want a great marriage, and that is our desire for you too.

I love watching and interviewing couples who have been married fifty years or longer. When we had a daily radio program, we would try to have a golden-anniversary couple on once a month, and when we did, we just drank up the wisdom. One of the things I asked them was: “What do you have to say to those of us who are not as far along on the journey? What works? How have you done it?” Their answers almost always included the needs our surveyed couples ranked the highest.

“Gary and Barb, we take time every day to listen to each other and learn what the other experienced that day.”

“We love to spend time with each other. We just enjoy being each other’s best friends.”

“It is a little embarrassing to say on radio, but Barney taught me a long time ago that when I meet his sexual needs, he feels valued. When I listen to him and encourage him, he feels respected. When he prays with me, I feel so safe. When I spend time with him, he feels like a million bucks!”

“Mildred taught me a long time ago that my voice of belief in her is the only real voice, next to God’s, that she really needs to hear. So I learned to speak. Yep, we have been married fifty-four years, and I think the marriage is going to take, don’t you, Barb and Gary?” the twinkle in this man’s eyes almost knocked us off our chairs!

Unconditional love. Encouragement. Companionship. Sexual and spiritual intimacy. Sound familiar? Look again at the top five love needs of men and women. They are all there. Not all couples married fifty years or more are living out great marriages, but many of our parents and grandparents really get it and want to pass it on.

TAKE A STEP TOWARD MEETING YOUR SPOUSE’S LOVE NEEDS

So where do you start? Well, first of all…

1.   How committed are you to meeting your spouse’s love needs?

2.   Take some time in the next two days to discuss with your spouse what his or her love needs are. One of the ways you can begin that discussion is to make a list of what you think are your spouse’s top five love needs.

3.   At the same time, make a list of your top five love needs.

4.   Then sit down with your spouse and say, “I want to learn what your love needs are so that I can meet them more fully. I’ve made a list of what I think your top five love needs are, and I want to discuss those with you. But what is more important to me is what you think are the most important love needs that you need me to meet.” Then begin to discuss his or her needs. If your spouse asks what your love needs are, you have your list ready.

This post is an excerpt from our book The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women.

Image by Guian Bolisay

Make Room for Sex

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It’s no secret that sexual intimacy can sometimes take a backseat once you and your mate become parents. Let’s face it: You usually have less time to yourself, less time alone, and if you’re both working you may have even less time together.  But it’s so important to make room for sex in your relationship! So today, we want to share with you some ways to begin making changes in order to make sexual intimacy a higher priority in your marriage.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Evaluate yourself. Some people hide behind activities. Marriage calls us to give everything—to commit completely. It isn’t about the payoff. It isn’t about what we get out of the marriage or what our spouses can do for us. Marriage is a choice to live a God-honoring life. It’s about growing and maturing spiritually. The only way that can happen is when we understand the sacrifice involved in our marriage commitments. If you discover that you are using busyness to avoid intimacy or to hide unresolved conflict, you may need to dig deeper. Don’t be hesitant to get professional help to move back to a place of wholeness in your marriage.
  • Replenish yourself. What activities replenish you? Is it a bubble bath alone at the end of the day? Is it watching a baseball game uninterrupted? Replenishing needs to be a daily routine. We know a woman who uses her commute time to listen to her favorite audiobooks. “I can’t explain it,” she told us, “but losing myself in a good audiobook makes the commute go faster, makes me a nicer person, both on the road and to my family. It helps me unwind so that when I arrive home, I’m ready to focus on my family.”
  • Reprioritize. A couple needs to recognize that they have a mutual problem that requires a mutual solution, and that solution may require mutual sacrifice for mutual benefit. Sit down and tackle the problem together. We hear this statement often: “Sex isn’t high on my priority list.” If you don’t nurture your sex life now, later may be too late. The further apart a couple grows, the longer and more difficult the path back to intimacy becomes. But it isn’t just about sex; it’s about creating the environment of sex and sexual intimacy in marriage. If you want your marriage to be God-honoring, if you want a solid and trustworthy marriage, you need to agree that no matter what, you will carve out time each week just to relax and have fun with each other.
  • Schedule regular times for sex. Scheduling sex is particularly important if you feel overextended. Realize that sex is not going to be as spontaneous as it may have been in your honeymoon years. But your busy schedules mean you need to be intentional and proactive. Put it on your calendars. Get into a pattern; otherwise you aren’t going to do it.
  • Put Sabbath back into your week. God built into His schedule—and ours—a time to rejuvenate. He knew that we would become so caught up with our “important” stuff that we would neglect times of refreshment and joy. We all need to understand that God has provided rest, refreshment, and fun when spouses nurture their sex lives.
  • Plan a getaway. Don’t use a financial crunch as an excuse. Save up for a getaway! Once every month or so, go somewhere. Go to the motel down the street. Go to a campground and rent a cabin. Getting away takes creativity and intentionality.

So, start carving out time for intimacy in your marriage today. In fact, start scheduling regular times for sex tonight! Put it on your both of your calendars. Mark off every Thursday night or Saturday morning—whatever works for you—for a month. The point is to get into a pattern; otherwise you aren’t going to do it. Think of it as a date night. You need to get yourselves back to remembering, “Oh yeah! This is really fun!”

Portions of this post were adapted from The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women, by Gary and Barb Rosberg.