Tag Archive | marriage

Preparing for the Worst

consent-clipart-pen_and_paper_legal_document_with_pen_signing_the_paper_0515-0909-2116-0233_SMUIn the last six weeks we have supported friends who lost their son and a friend whose husband died. Walking with my friend whose husband passed has brought about a renewed focus to make sure we have all our papers in order should anything tragic happen.

*DISCLAIMER – I am not a lawyer and am not offering specific legal advise. I am giving you suggestions of where to start.*

1. Make a Will – Visit a lawyer or buy software and make out a will. Include plans for what will happen with your children, your final expenses, your debt, and your money. You can specify who is presumed to have passed first if you both die within a certain time frame. You can give care instructions for your children. You can set up a trust to provide for your children in the future. You can also bequeath individual items to specific people and record your wishes for your funeral service.

2. Make a  Power of Attorney – Again, with a lawyer or software, make out a Power of Attorney that will allow your spouse to make decisions for you in the event you cannot. This will allow your spouse access to accounts and credit in your name only, as well as allow them to perform business on your behalf.

3. Make a Health Care Power of Attorney – Once again through a lawyer or software, make out a health care directive giving your spouse the right to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. Include your desires for life support and extreme measures, as well as your wishes to be an organ donor, if you so desire.

4. Make a file that includes birth certificates, marriage license, social security cards and other important identifying documents. Make sure you both know where this is and that it can be easily accessed. Include the kids identifying documents here as well.

5. Make sure both spouses know when and how to pay the bills. Even in today’s world, usually one person ends up managing the finances. Make sure you both know they system and how to use it.

6. Have all finance, insurance, and investment papers up-to-date and filled where you both can access them. Including banking records, safe deposit box keys, debt statements, mortgage information, auto loans, car or other vehicle titles,  and property deeds.

7. Have a secure list of your log ins and passwords. These can be kept in separate documents with a number code matching them up if you worried about security. You can also keep them in a hand-written notebook instead of on a computer file. Just make sure your spouse can access your online accounts or shared accounts.

8. Talk to each other. I know it is a subject no one wants to deal with, but the truth is that sometimes you do. Talk to your spouse about your wishes and their wishes. Will she stay in the current house/location or move closer to family if something happens? Will he have to put the kids into school (if you homeschool) or pay for additional child care? Do you want to be buried somewhere specific or do you just want your spouse to do whatever they think is best? Are there extended family issues that could complicate an already difficult time (e.g. Cousin Steve always pops up and asks for money when he knows someone has received something)? Talk about it all and then get it in writing.


Branding Your Family: Family Mission & Vision Statements

Years ago, right after the birth of First Born, we had the opportunity to attend a class at our church for new parents. Most of what was said in that class has long since been forgotten, but one thing really stuck with us, and that was the idea of creating a “brand identity” for our family. This concept centers around creating a mission and vision statement for the family and then building from there. Our family has established mission & vision, a theme song, a family Bible verse, and even a mascot…Football Turtle!

The idea behind these things is that they help you to not only identify what is important to you as a family and filter your activities and life through that, but that they also build a greater sense of unity, much like a sports team. You want your kids to grow-up and still want to be part of your family and creating this unique sense of family identity helps encourage family unity and loyalty.

So, how do you start?

Step #1. Individually make a list of values that are important to you and why. Both parents should do this. Older children may also offer their list of suggestions, but this is you, as parents, making the decision for the direction of your family, so you have the final say. These lists should be compiled separately. Don’t share them yet!

Step #2. Set up a kid-free time to go through your lists. Get a baby-sitter or wait until the kiddos are in bed, but schedule a time with no TV to talk about this, and only this. No discussions about household chores or car repairs. Devote scheduled time and compare lists. Odds are, some will overlap (hopefully). Maybe you didn’t use the same words, but the general value is the same. Narrow down the list to the items that you both agree are the 5-10 most important for your family. Be sure to include why you believe in these things or what you want your family to look like as it relates to a particular value.

Step #3. More kid-free time! Set up a second time to come back to your values and make sure you both still agree that these are the most important. This can be a day or a week later. Don’t wait too long, though, because you want to keep the project moving forward. Here is our family’s vision and values statement: Family Values and Vision Statement

Step #4. From these values, identify the goal or mission of your family.

Step #5. This is where is really gets fun. Do something creative with the information you have just decided on. We have our mission and vision statement hanging in our family room. My husband even printed it on business cards that we each carry with us. We gave one to the grandparents and other people who care for our kids to let everyone know that we make decisions for our family with this information as our goal.

Step #6. Take it further! We have a theme song (Beautiful One by By The Tree). We selected three Bible verses to guide our family that we all memorize…1 Timothy 4:12 (Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for all the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity), 2 Timothy 3: 16 (All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness NIV), and Deuteronomy 6: 6-9 (These commandments that I have given you today are to be put upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames fo your houses and on your gates. NIV). These verses guide our decisions and our parenting.  And as you saw earlier, we even have a family mascot. Football Turtle was born out of our family’s love of football and the beach, specifically sea turtles.  Okay, so I probably spent way too long designing him but the kids love him. They want to make him into a flag to hang outside our front door and on our car! This is the kind of family unity we want to create!

UPDATE: During the summer of 2012 we have added a home school crest to our family branding. You can find instructions on how to do one of your own under Home School!

Have you created a mission, vision, or values statement for your family? Share your experience in the comments!

Love Your Husband His Way, Not Yours

So I don’t have to tell you that men and women are different. We think and process differently, and that includes how we give and receive love. Men receive love through the filter of respect, which is a foreign language to most women. We don’t understand why our care and service isn’t received as love by our man, and why he doesn’t do these things in return. So how can we love our husbands through his filter of respect?

#1. Offer words of respect and affirmation regularly. Tell your husband things that he does that you admire and respect. Include praise for his work and provision for your family (even if you work outside the home and bring home a paycheck too). A man’s identity is tied to his work and provision for his family in ways we wives don’t fully understand. Giving him encouragement and respect in this area can make a man soar, and can turn his going to a job he hates into something he happily does    because he knows you support and respect his work.

#2. Greet him when he comes home. Stop what you are doing, get up, and greet him. Welcome him home, kiss him (so he knows you mean it), and ask about his day. While I really don’t want my husband to stop dealing with the kids or chores when I come into a room, he really does want me to do this and sees it as disrespect when I don’t.

#3. Initiate and enjoy sex. Husbands want a willing partner and one of the best ways to show him love in his language is to initiate and enjoy your sex life. Read books (see Must Reads! for ideas). Spend money on your nighttime wardrobe. You may see it as silly but it is never silly to invest in your marriage. I promise this one will be worth it in more ways that one!A happy husband is more willing to help around the house and do things (like shopping or looking at antiques) that you want to do. But be careful not to use this as a way to get him to do things. That will only breed resentment. Remember, husbands view sex as the method to communicate love, intimacy, and connection. We we don’t regularly come together with our husband we leave him open and vulnerable to all kinds of spiritual and physical attacks. Great sex is a weapon to keep those attacks at bay!

#4. Respect him in front of the kids and expect them to do the same. My husband lights up when I offer respect to him in front of our kids or when I correct their disrespect of him. That let’s him know I am serious about respecting and loving him.

#5. Do not badmouth or gossip about your husband…to anyone! He will find out if you speak ill of him to friends and family. Commit to saying only good things about your man to others and refuse to engage in sessions of “man-bashing”. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything!

How do you offer respect to your husband? Share your ideas in the comments!

10 Things To Do Today to Improve Your Marriage

The most important part of being an organized wife is the fact that you are a wife. Your marriage has to be a priority above your children and house. Titus 2 makes it clear that the order for our relationships should be God, Husband, Children and we must work to keep those things in the right order. So here are some quick things you can do to improve your marriage and show love and respect to your husband:

#1. Write him a letter telling him things you respect and appreciate about him and mail it to his work.

#2. Make sure he knows he is needed by letting him help you. Maybe he doesn’t do the kids’ hair or dust the same way you do it, but if he gets the job done, let him do it. We wives often have a tendency to be able to multitask and do many things and that can leave our man feeling a bit left out and unneeded.

#3. Plan a date doing something you know he would enjoy. Take care of getting the sitter for several hours (or even better – overnight). Switch kids with another family to keep the costs down. Then go do something he likes. Is he into movies? Dinner and a movie. Maybe he likes outdoorsy things so go hiking or canoeing. Head to the shooting range. Whatever is an activity that he enjoys, especially if it is something that you don’t normally get all that excited about.

#4. Praise him to his face and to other people. It will get back to him when you speak highly of him to other people and it will improve their opinion of your husband.

#5 Never gossip or badmouth your husband to girlfriends or family. If you have a problem with him, deal with him. Don’t speak ill of him to others.

#6. Read a book that helps explain man and what they need in marriage. See Must Reads! for ideas.

#7. Initiate sex. Don’t wait for him. Let him know you love him and are interested in him.

#8. Greet him at the door when he comes home. This is so important for husbands. Stop what you are doing, greet him with a kiss, and let him know you are glad he is home.

#9. Kiss him like you mean it. Pecks are for girlfriends and grandmas. When you kiss your husband, do it in a way that tells him he is your husband!

#10. Decided right now to stop fighting with your spouse and fight for your marriage. Make sure that what your say and do is filtered though the idea that he is not the enemy and you are in a war to save and keep your marriage!

For other cool ideas, check out We Are That Family: 100 Ways to Make You Marriage Rock


Easy, Inexpensive Valentine’s Day Ideas

We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at our house other than some heart-shaped cinnamon rolls or sandwiches. We give each other romantic gifts and gestures throughout the year, not limiting the wooing to one day. However, we live on a tight budget. Husband is a teacher and we have 3 kids, so we are always looking for ways to save money. Here are some of my tips for inexpensive Valentine’s Day (or just romantic wooing) gift and date tips:




#1 A Romantic Playlist – This is the “mixed tape” of the digital age. Create a playlist for your spouse called “The Story of Us” and fill it with songs that remind you of your love. Songs from when you dated, got engaged, from your wedding…Songs that speak to how you feel about your spouse. Most of these you probably already own on CD or in your digital music library. Just make the playlist and “sneak” it onto his iPod or other MP3 player. If your car only has a CD player, burn the playlist to a CD and set it so that it is playing the next time he gets in to go someplace. We have a list of songs that span almost 20 years of shared experiences – songs that remind us of important events in our lives or that speak of the kind of love we want to sustain.

#2. Wishes – Decorate a recycled glass jar or aluminum can. On slips of paper, write out “wishes” that your spouse has. Wash his car, cook his favorite dinner, a romantic surprise (use your imagination here and get specific!), a golf day, a chance to purchase a new video game or gadget, a night of TV of his choice. Be creative and include as many “free” items as possible. Put the slips in the jar – enough for one a day or one a week or one a month, depending on the “level” of wishes you include. He can pick a wish at the assigned time.

#3. Notes – Don’t underestimate the power of a note. For a week leading up to Valentine’s day leave romantic or suggestive notes for your spouse to find. Mail a letter to him at work telling him how you respect him and how you appreciate his working to provide for the family. For the actual day, write a letter expressing your love for your husband. Follow the example of Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) and offer appreciation for his physical attributes as well as a discussion your love. If you are really bold, read the letter out loud to him when you are alone. It will be worth your effort!

#4. Text – Send a romantic message or picture to your husband. It is okay! You are married


#1. Don’t Go Out On The Actual Day! – On Feb. 14th restaurants are overbooked, movie theaters are over-crowded, and the special Valentine’s “deals” cost more that actual menu items. Plus it can be hard to find a babysitter on the 14th and some charge a premium price for that day. Skip the 14th and have a family night. Celebrate on the 12th or 16th. Adjusting by a couple of days can get you deals at restaurants (because they know they will be empty on those days so many offer discounts) and at other venues.

#2. Take Out – If you must celebrate on the 14th, try take-out. You save the money for tips and drinks and miss some of the crowds. Call in a take-out order for after the kids are in bed and have a romantic candlelight dinner at home in the quiet.

#3. Babysitting – At this time of year many churches offer drop-in nights as youth or missions fund-raisers. You can leave your kids for a few hours of fun for a donation to the cause. Even less expensive, trade babysitting with another couple. If you are really adventurous, trade kids for a whole overnight sleepover, giving both couples a completely kid-free night.