Kids, Come To The Gratitude Table

I didn't learn too much about gratitude when I was a kid. I do remember my parents telling me to be grateful (usually during some of my especially bratty moments) but that didn't sink in like I'm sure they wanted it to. That may be because gratitude was spoken of only when there was a situation in which to criticize me for NOT being grateful for something.

I do want to say at this point that my parents are amazing and that they have taught me some profound life lessons... It's just that gratitude wasn't something that was focused on in a consistent manner when I was growing up.  

As I've grown older, the realization of how important gratitude is has come to my awareness, and boy, am I grateful for that. I have been actively practicing gratitude in my life for about a year now...meaning that I have a gratitude journal which I write in at least 5 times a week before I go to bed, and whenever I am smack dab in the middle of a situation that I could feel really crappy about if I so chose to, I instead flip it around to look at the bright side.

Although I have been personally practicing gratitude and learning incredible life lessons from doing so, it dawned on me that I wasn't letting my kids in on that lesson. I was doing to them what was done with me when I was a kid - waiting until they were being particularly bratty or selfish before I mentioned gratitude to them. Which means that bringing up gratitude to them always stemmed from a place of negativity and criticism. Things like this were said by me often: "You don't want to eat your dinner?? Do you realize how grateful you should be for even having food on your plate?" or "That phone isn't the one you want? Do you realize how grateful you should be to even have a phone??" etc. When it struck me that this is I was shaping gratitude in a completely negatively light to my kids, I realized I had to make a change. I wanted them to have a good feeling surrounding gratitude and not have to wait until they acting like entitled brats before I brought up the G-word. Here is one thing that we have implemented in my home since my realization that our gratitude conversations had to change:

After we say Grace at the dinner table, we then go around the table and each family member says one thing we're grateful for. It's interesting to see what my kids say and whatever they say always opens up a conversation at the dinner table about it. I can get clues into my teenage daughter's day (her gratitude statement is usually tied to her school day), and my 4 year old daughter has said she's grateful for all sorts of things - from her preschool friends to yummy dessert. She completely lights up when it's her turn to talk. My 3 year old son says he's grateful for his race cars every. single. time. Which makes us all laugh. It'll be a funny story to tell later on. Also, I get to know a little bit about my husband's day as well from what his gratitude statement is since it's always relevant to what he's going through. 

We've had great success with this in helping my kids to remember all the things in their life that they are blessed to have. Now my kids even ask me randomly throughout the week what I am grateful for. This makes me certain that this lesson is taking hold with them.  It warms my heart to know that they are being shaped, early on, to think about gratitude in positive terms. Of all the thousands and thousands of things I am grateful for, this is one of the biggest ones one on my list. 

In Love and Health,

Want a Good Marriage? Don't Nag Your Husband.

I have a really great marriage. It's full of respect, admiration and I'll even say awe. On both parts. But my great marriage has not come easily. It's been a TON of work. When I was newly married at the tender age of 23, I still had a lot to learn. My husband had his share of learning to do as well. I remember having arguments with my husband about the most juvenile things - whose turn it was to do whatever it was that the other one was pissed about having to do last, how often we should to go out without each other, who should get to pick the show we would watch, etc. You know, stupid stuff. We also argued about important things like trust and money. We also had some child-rearing differences of opinion. Arguing started to become the norm in my household. 

Just a few short years into my marriage I felt like a haggard wife. Like my marriage was so old and tired which made me feel old and tired. I remembered the faded memory of when I was my husband's girlfriend and how different, happy and fun that felt. I definitely wasn't having fun anymore, and I knew my husband wasn't, either. 

One day a very urgent thought came to me. I don't want to have a bad marriage. I don't even want an average marriage. I want to have the sort of marriage that people admire (and not because of some fake Facebook pictures that paint a pretty picture of a good relationship when it's really pretty crappy - but one that is genuinely loving and trusting not matter who is looking). I wanted to be truly happy with my husband. So on that day I resolved to do what I needed to do to make that happen.

The one thing that has made a HUGE impact on my relationship with my husband is understanding that I am pretty much the rudder of the ship when it comes to the quality of my marriage.  I control where the ship goes. If I'm in a good mood, all is pretty much well. If I'm in a bad mood...well the saying "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" exists for a reason. Women are the powerhouses of a household. I don't think women give themselves enough credit for how much persuasion they have over their whole family experience.

So how the heck do you start to become that powerhouse wife when all this time you thought you were the victim?

Start by understanding that men are very moldable. If my husband is in a bad mood, it doesn't take much to snap him out of it. *There is a caveat to this, though - this will be true only if your husband is a decent man. He needs to be a man who is not an adulterer, abusive, addicted to anything, or narcissistic.

To start taking advantage of your husband's pliability, take these 2 concrete steps in your marriage today: 

1. Don't be reactive: If your man is feeling grouchy after a bad day, don't mirror his attitude and come back at him as a snapping, grouchy wife. Instead show him you love him by showing affection. This usually diffuses any bad mood my husband is in in a snap. 

2. No nagging: If your man is not doing things you've asked him to do, for heaven's sake don't nag him about it! How much did you want to do something for your mom when she nagged you to do it? I'm guessing probably zip. Zilch. So don't nag your husband either, He will just take longer to get it done and resent you in the process. Instead, be loving about the ask. Pour some honey on it. He will jump to your bidding when you approach him this way instead of using the screeching banshee approach. 

These are 2 things that I started off with. It may feel foreign to you but once you master them you will go one to conquer even bigger feats. There are other things that I make sure to do for the sake of my marriage - I let my husband know that I respect him and that I appreciate him. I do this very often. I give him his space. I never raise my voice to him. I don't turn him away if he desires attention and affection. I am his perpetual girlfriend. 

Be your husband's girlfriend too and you'll have the sort of marriage that never gets old. <3


In Love and Health,