How to Give a Massage and Why It Will Help Transform Your Relationship

how to give a massage

Touch is one of my love languages.

That’s only one of the reasons I am so excited about today’s post.

First you need to know that this is a sponsored post. My very first. I have been blogging almost 2 years and been approached over and over again about featuring a sponsored post on my blog.

I always say no.

Until Emma and Denis told me about MELT, their video program that teaches couples how to massage each other.

First, who doesn’t love a husband and wife team? They practically had me at hello.

Then I read their site, watched their videos and I knew that what they teach is not only fun, simple and easy, it’s the kind of stuff that keeps relationships fresh.

Date Night? Teamwork? Relaxation? Plus a low cost that anyone can afford and a super-special discount for ModernMarried Readers?

Sold.

Here is the best part, Emma and Dennis are sharing their step by step instructions on how to give a great massage right here.

Once you are done reading, click here to see their 2 minute intro video and how the pottery scene from Ghost inspired this whole project!

How to Give a Massage and Why It Will Help Transform Your Relationship

In any marriage, it’s important to show your spouse love, care, and appreciation and to pamper them every now and then.

It can be as straightforward bringing them a cup of tea in bed in the mornings, or as extravagant as buying them a special gift.

One way my husband and I have found to foster this love and appreciation is by giving each other a decadent massage.

It sounds simple, but the best things in life often are.

By treating your spouse to a massage, you’re igniting a host of different benefits to your relationship:

You’re giving selflessly to your partner.

You’re getting close to them in a very literal sense of the word.

You’re doing something different and new from your usual weeknight routine.

Massage between couples helps to build trust, increase intimacy and bond you to each other.

Doing new things together as a couple helps to re-spark the brain chemistry from when you first fell in love. Spending quality time alone together is so important for your relationship too.

So how do you go about treating your spouse to an incredible massage at home?

Here are a few easy tips to get you started:

Plan Your Night in Advance

Giving a massage will take a little preparation. Pick up some professional-grade massage oil from the drugstore ahead of time. It’s cheap to buy and effective.

You’ll also want to set the scene for the night with some candles, relaxed music and maybe even a little bit of food to nosh on – a fruit platter or some wine is a great mood enhancer.

If you can, keep the massage a secret from your sweetie until the last minute. The element of surprise makes things very special and is a crucial ingredient to a good seduction.

Prepare Your Massage Space

Before you begin your massage, have everything you’ll need ready to go. Once you start, you don’t want to have to break contact to get up and grab a towel or adjust the heat.

Dim the lights, put on your partner’s favourite music, turn up the heat if you need to. Grab your oil and some towels and have them within arm’s reach. Spread out an old sheet or blanket on the floor to stop oil staining your carpet.

We always suggest massaging on the floor, not the bed. The bed is not a stable surface and you can compromise your back by trying to give your partner a massage there.

Instead, seat your spouse cross-legged on the floor in front of you while you kneel behind them. Use a small beanbag footstool or some sturdy cushions to bolster under your butt to take pressure off your knees.

In this position, you have access to your partner’s shoulders, back, neck, head and arms – all prime massage real estate!

How to Give a Massage (That Will Make Your Partner Melt!)

massage for couples

To give a muscle-melting massage, you need to stretch the experience out a little.

The biggest problem we hear from couples about massaging is that they can’t last more than a few minutes without their hands hurting. Other common complaints are that people aren’t really sure what to do, and that they get bored easily.

Instead of trying to go deep and using your thumbs to massage your partner, switch to long, sweeping massage strokes with an open hand. The oil should help you glide over your partner’s skin easily.

Rhythm is an important element of any massage. To help you, try moving your hands in time to the background music.

Once you’ve relaxed your partner with long, rhythmical strokes, you can start to work a little deeper into their tight spots. Think about where you usually hurt on your body; we’re all built the same way.

Seek out inconsistencies in the muscle with your hands and thumbs – you’ll feel crunchy spots, for example, or a tense mass of muscle. When you’ve found them, work them deeper for a few seconds before switching back to lighter strokes.

You don’t need to go in deep for too long; even the most skilled massage therapists aren’t going deep 100% of the time! A few seconds is all you need to create a release in the muscle (keep it short and it won’t hurt your hands).

If you’re still not sure what you should be doing, you can check out our couples massage videos for simple instructions that you can stream right to your TV or smart device. Usually $99, we’re offering lifetime memberships to the program at $39 especially for Modern Married readers, for a limited time.

The Afterglow

When you’ve finished your massage, be sure to sit a little longer in an embrace with your partner to gently let them know you’re done and bask in the close connection you’ve just created.

Have you ever treated your spouse to a massage?

Emma Merkas is a relationship expert and the co-founder, along with her husband Denis, of the beautiful Melt: Massage for Couples online video series, which is receiving rave reviews from all corners of the globe. The pair has been teaching couples the secrets of massage for eight years now, and have just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. 

 Emma and Denis believe every relationship deserves a little bit of massage. Lifetime memberships to Melt: Massage for Couples are available for Modern Married readers at 60% off. Get instant access for just $39. **Super Important! the discount ends August 31st, 2014 Midnight Australia time. Do not mess with the international date line! Check it out now and if you love it, get that discount people!**

 If you have ever experienced the power of a great massage, please share this post. You never know who might be blessed by having access to this super-easy to follow, wonderfully healing training. And for lifetime access to all the massage training videos for just $39 – click here: Melt: Massage for Couples.

 Disclaimer – this post was sponsored by MELT because they want everyone in the world to learn massage. It was published by ModernMarried because two people who love each other learning to touch each other with grace and ease seems like a great idea to me.

 

 

Want a happy marriage? Learn to Recognize and Process Your Negative Emotions.

emotional health and processing negative emotions by life coach maggie reyes

First of all let me start by saying this is the un-sexiest post ever. However, if you read and do the things I am about to write about, you will actually be helping to improve your sex life more than you can currently imagine.

And not only your sex life, but your Life life.

You will not only improve your marriage, but your life overall which will have the side-effect of boosting all the other areas of your life…which makes me a feel a little bit like Estee Lauder’s “free gift with purchase” at Macy’s!

Buy the perfume! Get the lipstick!

I am totally digressing but you get the idea.

Anyway, this post came about because the last couple weeks have been a bit hellish in MaggieLand.

If you have been reading the blog for a while, you know I like to keep it real.

Good things and bad things, happen all together in life. And when we pretend only good things – which happens so much online, we start thinking there is something wrong with us when bad things happen.

So we beat ourselves up EVEN MORE. When in reality life is happening just as it always does, with the good and the bad mixed up all together in a bowl of experiences for us to live through, and learn from. Sometimes we celebrate, sometimes we accept, sometimes we let go. Sometimes we take deep breaths and make it to tomorrow.

All of it is part of life and the number one point I want to get across today is that while we all know that all of what we experience in life isn’t rainbows and Kit Kat bars, we can get into major emotional pain when we think it should be.

Only rainbows.

Always chocolate.

That’s just not the way life works. But you know that already right?

I want you to know that it’s okay to be mad, sad, disappointed.

It’s totally normal for something awesome to happen and something bad to happen and something totally unimportant to happen all at the same time.

I don’t want you to think of life like one big facebook feed. What really matters in life happens IN BETWEEN. In between facebook updates and tweets. In between major milestones – as in, the wedding was awesome, but the marriage is better. In between enrollment and graduation – you get an education. In between ordering dinner and having the best meal of your life – lots of chopping and sautéing and mixing and cooking happens.

Right?

So in between the heightened moments of happy – let’s just acknowledge that there is also crappy. It happens to all of us and it’s NORMAL.

Nothing is wrong with you.

You might be feeling overwhelmed – in which case read this: 5 Things You Should Never Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed.

But otherwise, life is just happening – the good, the bad and the truly annoying all rolled up into one big beautiful experience with tons of highs, lows and in-betweens.

Now for my in-between, here is a little story about the last few weeks…

So for a blogger, the biggest thing that can happen in your blogging career is to have your blogs read by lots people. Just like for singers it’s to be on the radio, for bloggers, it’s to be read, shared, liked, clicked.

(Thank you by the way, for reading, sharing, liking and clicking. Totally rocks. So grateful. I would hug you if I could, but I can’t, so I write for you. LOVE.)

As I was saying – I always get excited when ONE person – yes, like YOU right now, reads anything I wrote.

Sometimes it’s hard to wrap my brain around thousands of people. I get super psyched of course, but I don’t think my brain can truly compute thousands.

Anyway, just wanted you to know how big a deal it was that one of my posts, (this one about what makes husbands happy in marriage) was top 5 on the Brides.com entire website while one of my other posts (The 7 Habits of Highly Happy Marriages) was named top 10 on the #1 marriage blog in the world. You can check out the list of top 10 marriage posts of all time at the Happy Wives Club blog here.

Big Blogging Deal. Waves of Nirvana washing over me….WHILE AT THE SAME TIME –

I sprained my ankle. (Yes I wore a brace for a week and it is fine now).

I got bursitis in my arm. (Lots of Advil and odd sleeping positions later, it’s healed).

I had the worst jet lag ever – waking up at all hours of the day and night while still having to work, sound professional, avoid yawning in the middle of meetings, etc.

And I got a cold. The kind where your nose looks like you belong in the circus because it’s so red.

So while my online life was totally unicorns, rainbows, Kits Kats and maximum clickage, my actual Life life was all runny noses, Kleenex and my biggest goal in life was for my head to meet my pillow.

While all this was happening, someone I deeply trusted did some things that freaked me out.

I got really mad. Like really really mad. Like if my blood could boil it would be a volcano mad.

Due to my natural enthusiasm and zest for life. I do not like getting mad.

That made me madder.

Seriously.

So what does a Life Coach do? I started using all my coaching tools on myself to help myself think more clearly and try to find another way to feel.

The thing is, I wanted to jump from being like –

Volcano levels of Anger to The Sweetest Chocolate of Mental Glee.

If you are wondering how that worked out for me – let’s just say it didn’t.

I went through a mental rollercoaster that was something like –

I don’t want to feel this way.

I want to feel something else.

This sucks.

Yuck.

I am not my circumstances. My circumstances will not define me.

Dammit.

What if this was happening to bless me?

Hmm, every other time I have been this angry in life, I have used that anger as fuel to create something awesome.

Maybe this really is happening to bless me?

In the meantime, let’s beat up a pillow.

So that’s what I did. I went to my bedroom, picked the fluffiest pillow on our very pillow-fied bed. And had a whack at it.

It was the safest way I could find to let it all out.

I realized that as many of us often do, I wanted to jump from point A (A for anger! Haha) to point Z for total bliss and joy, without actually processing how I was feeling.

It was only by pausing and practicing my life coaching tools (breathing, noticing my thoughts, etc) that I realized that I needed to let myself feel the full emotion I was feeling.

Instead of running away from it. Trying to change it. Trying to minimize it. Trying to make lemonade out of it. I just felt it. Fully. For like a minute or two.

And then it went away.

On its own. Just like that.

You know how kids are crying like banshees one minute and then smiling like they won the lottery the next?

We are born knowing how to fully feel our emotions.

Then we are “socialized” we become polite. We learn to pretend. Or stuff down or smile while we are really dying inside because someone we loved did something we think is crappy.

We collectively need to re-learn how to feel our feelings.

So they don’t overtake us. So they don’t overwhelm us. So we can feel the good ones, the bad ones and the really ugly ones and know they are all part of the recipe that makes us us.

I know this is a long post – thanks for sticking with me!

So why did I tell you this super long story?

First, in the interest of keeping it real I want to make it super clear that my life is not perfect.

Yes I do have a very positive mindset and it takes earthquake levels of emotional craptitude to shake me. But I still get shaken. And I still have to actually USE the tools I teach and learn on myself.

I love using these coaching tools with my readers too – if you are curious about coaching – click here.

Second, I want you to learn from my pain.

So when it happens to you, and it will, you are prepared.

The most essential thing to remember when you are feeling anything other than your Super Fabulous Self – is that it’s normal, it’s okay and it will pass.

The second most essential thing to remember is that if you are feeling anxiety, anger or emotional pain – the worst thing you can do is pretend it’s not there and the best thing you can do is beat up a pillow.

Not literally beat up a pillow – but whatever it is that lets you completely feel that feeling – just let it wash over you completely so it can go away on its own – like the rise and tide of the ocean.

Now how does this affect your sex life? Remember five years ago when this post started I mentioned that if you learned to process your negative emotions your sex life would improve?

Well that’s easy – sex is really connecting. It’s being open to give and receive touch and joy and pleasure.

You totally cannot deeply feel all your good, happy, sexy emotions if you are not feeling your ugly, annoying bad ones.

You can’t turn the switch only one way.

So if you are feeling disconnected in any way from your spouse. That person that you truly in your heart want to love the best you can, then search for clues in your life about emotions you are not feeling, pretending aren’t there or unwilling to look at in the mirror and say, “Hey! You! I don’t like you, but I know you are here, and I want to say good bye, so come closer.”

I want to say goodbye, so come closer.

So totally and completely counterintuitive and yet so totally and completely true.

Avoiding how we feel or living in shades of camel-beige-emotion-neutral is just not emotionally healthy.

As usual, don’t believe me. Try it.

First – feel something good fully – the love for your hubby. The passion for that perfect sunset. How much the people you love fill your heart.

Close your eyes and feel that fully, let it wash over you like a wave.

Then see how even a good feeling can totally wash over you.

You don’t have to hold on to it. You can bring it back whenever you want. You can also let it go.

Hopefully this will empower you to realize you can do the same with a negative feeling.

That thing you have been avoiding FOREVER.

Take a minute, close your eyes and just feel it. Loud, ugly, pimply, totally nasty-alien-like.

Just let yourself feel it.

And let it wash over you. You can let it go. Like a wave.

Don’t jump to replace it with something nice and shiny and good.

Just be with the idea that you can experience the good and the bad – fully and completely.

You are capable.

You are strong.

You can do hard things.

You can also do easy things and the harder things get easier with practice.

If you want to go deeper into this idea of fully feeling your feelings, check out this video from one of my mentors and the founder of the Life Coach School I trained at, Brooke Castillo: http://youtu.be/gUDvKciPAYM?list=UUnjI8tPpOfTqdIXFGQI72AQ

This was a super deep dive all the way kind of post. It was partially inspired by my coach and mentor Susan Hyatt’s Deep End Manifesto – she issued a challenge for all of us to not only find our deep end but live there. So this is me. Going Deep. Did it help?

If you were inspired by this post, please Share it. Like it! Pin It! or Tweet it! Our community of love and creativity grows thanks to inspired hearts likes yours. Now go love and be loved. XO

Blogger? Get Your Blog On with Bright Eyed and Blog Hearted

Rachel MacDonald blogging course

If you are already a blogger or want to become one, I want to help you.

I believe creating life you love with the love of your life has two parts –how you show up in your relationship and how you show up in your life.

Part of keeping our relationship strong and learning to deal with overwhelm is learning to embrace our passions.

Blogging has been a life changer for me and has helped me not only feel a sense of accomplishment and boost my confidence, it has also given me an outlet to express my creativity that has been a huge blessing for my marriage.

I am getting ready to celebrate my 2nd Blogiversary in August, I am in awe of the doors that writing this blog has opened for me and the colleagues who have become beloved friends through my journey in the blogosphere.

This is why if you have ever thought of becoming a blogger or have started a blog but aren’t sure quite to do with it, how to grow it, when to write, who to tell about etc., I am supremely excited to introduce you to my own Blog Coach, Rachel MacDonald and the opportunity to learn directly from her not only the nuts and bolts of blogging but the heart and soul of writing online and sharing your gifts.

I consider myself very lucky to have stumbled upon Rachel from a Pin on Pinterest (yes, really!) at a moment when she was about to launch her Blog Coaching business. I was in the first round of clients she worked with one on one before her online blogging course, Bright Eyed and Blog Hearted was created.

blogging e course

Among other things, she helped me understand the mechanics and energy behind guest posting, so I could find an approach to writing for other blogs that worked for me.

She also helped me through mindset hurdles, of “How do I get it all done” and the practical questions of “Where do I start?”

Rachel also guided me through the basics of Twitter, insisting I grab my name there and as a consequence of following her coaching guidance, not a month after I joined Twitter, I was invited to XM Radio to meet one of my childhood idols (Cristina Saralegui, the Latin answer to Oprah).

So Rachel is in that camp of people that when she tells me to do something, I don’t ask a lot of questions, I just do it. And something magical always happens.

When she asked me if I would share the information about her Bright Eyed and Blog Hearted program with my readers, honestly – I could not wait!

Because the blessings blogging has brought to my life are priceless. The connection, inspiration and joy I have felt as a result of becoming a blogger and embarking on this journey fuel me every day – even the hard ones.

And I want to share that blessing with you.

Instead of flailing around trying to figure out how to start (or grow) a blog all by yourself, (like I did, until I found Rach) she provides a step by step plan with checklists, tools and resources for you to create a blog that feels like a home for your soul.

One of the things I totally love about Rachel’s approach is that she mixes the uber-practical with the deliciously soulful. So you get all the answers to “How do I do this” and you also figure out “Do I really want to?” and “How will this impact the rest of my life?”

I am lovingly sharing this blogging course with you because I have worked with Rachel one on one, then took the first round of this course the minute it was offered and will be going through the second round now.

Because Rachel has set up an affiliate program where I get a “thank you” deposit in my bank account if you decide this course is right for you, I am also able to offer you some super special bonuses if you sign up through my link below.

-        Ask Me Anything – 1:1 Pick My Brain Session FREE! This is an hour with me on the phone to talk about anything – your blog, your social media, how to fit your cats into your editorial calendar or whatever else is on your mind that you know you will need help figuring out if you want your blog to grow. (I usually charge $100 for these. And yes, when I said, free, I meant, you don’t have to pay anything else. Your registration into #BlogHearted covers it! Woot!)

-        My Personal Reading List of my favorite books and blogs for the business of blogging. These are the books and resources I personally used to create what you are reading today.

-        Figuring Out Facebook Checklist – Do you really need to be on it? If you do, what should you post? And how? This is my little paint by numbers guide to make it easy-peasy.

-        Pinterest Cheat Sheet and Check list – It’s easy to forget simple things like “Does it have the link back to my site?” and “Is the pin easily readable?”

-        Q&A recording – This is actually something I learned from taking this class. To make it super easy for everyone across time zones and schedules, I will collect all your questions, make a recording and send you the link.

-        Discount – Dream Deeper Session usually $275 – Only $200 if you purchase one anytime during the duration of the live course.

If you felt your soul smiling inside when you read this, I would love for you to join us on this journey!

You can read all the details about Bright Eyed and Blog Hearted here.

Once you sign up, forward the electronic receipt to info [at] modernmarried dot com and I will send you your personal welcome details on how to book your session as well as when the link to download the bonuses will be available.

If you have any questions, please hop over to the contact form and just let me know!

And if you know someone who would love the chance to learn blogging the soulful, yet uberly practical way I have described, please invite them to read this – with my love and thanks!

  blogging course maggie reyes rachel macdonald

Alexandra Franzen: Love Letters for Him, Her + Everyone

 

Alexandra Franzen what I know about love

Over the last few weeks we have been riding the emotional roller coaster of facing Perfect Wife Syndrome and working through feelings of overwhelm.

It’s time for a break. A hug. Some electronic sugar cookies sound good right about now.

I am so honored and delighted to bring you the bright, shining voice of one of my favorite writers, Alexandra Franzen.

Over the years her blog has provided endless inspiration to my writing journey and I was thrilled to be mentioned when she wrote about operating as if the world is already listening.

Alexandra says that, when it comes to being a better writer — and a better human being — she has a ten-word philosophy: Start with love. Keep it simple. You are not confused.

Her two books — 50 Ways To Say You’re Awesome (Sourcebooks) and Our Q+A A Day: A 3-Year Journal For 2 People (Potter Style) have inspired thousands of people to say “thank you” and “I love you,” a lot more often.

“Thank you” and “I love you” just never go out of style.  They are the little black dresses of the heart.

If there is anything that has hit home for me over the last few weeks it’s the importance of loving now. Appreciating now. Giving now. Our spouses and partners and families and friends and co-workers and pets need us now.

Not some day when our to-do list is finished and our bank accounts are balanced and our groceries are done. Now.

It’s time to say I love you now. Because there will never be a good time or a better time or a more convenient time.

Think of this post, “Love letters for him, her + everyone” as an oasis of literary love in the middle our hectic schedules.

It’s time to pause, reconnect, kiss, and savor the love we have in our lives. The feelings and people that make everything worth it.

Now.

If you realized how beautiful you are, you would fall at your own feet. Byron Katie Quote

Love letters for him, her + everyone – By Alexandra Franzen

“If you realized how beautiful you are, you would fall at your own feet.”
– Byron Katie

Men:

When you take command, she melts.

(Plan the date. Handle the details. Make the effort.)

When you write her a handwritten note she will keep it forever. She loves when you’re thinking about her when she is not around. (When that happens, tell her.)

Her internal architecture rearranged the moment that she met you, and again the moment that she realized she loved you.

She is ready to build empires with you.

She loves the way the back of your neck smells, the scruff of your face at five o’ clock, and the way your arms wrap around her, completely.

She wonders, sometimes, if she’s “good enough” to keep you. She’s your biggest fan. She thinks you can be anything. To her, you’re MORE than everything.

To her, you are a king.

Women:

He loves your body. Really, he does.

He thinks you’re soft and you smell so good and something happens in his belly when you snuggle up close — like absolute yearning and total satisfaction, all at once.

He loves when you strut around in heels and he loves when you’re wearing no make-up at all and he secretly wishes you’d quit wearing sticky lipgloss and switch to minty chapstick, forever.

He can’t fathom how you could ever look in the mirror and feel anything less than overwhelmed with amazement.

He wonders, often, if he’s “good enough” for you. He’s your biggest fan. He thinks you can do anything. To him, you are THE everything.

To him, you are a queen.

Everyone:

 

You are more lovable, more kissable, more hug-able, more hold-able, more everything-able than you can possibly know.

If you have found someone to love, keep loving.

If you are seeking someone to love, keep going.

Because …

“Someone you haven’t met yet is already dreaming of adoring you.”
– Danielle LaPorte

It’s true.

And that’s what I know about love.

xo.

Alexandra Franzen

love quote Alexandra Franzen you are lovable

Alexandra Franzen wants to live in a world where emails are short, love letters are brave and every “thank you” note is scribbled by hand.

Her refreshingly simple tips on writing, productivity + creativity (and everyday woes — like inbox-clearing) have been featured on Fast Company, Forbes, The Daily Love, The Huffington Post — and on radio programs from coast to coast.

Get free workbooks + scripts to unlock your inner wordsmith at: AlexandraFranzen.com.

This week’s LOVE WORK – Say I love you now. Write a text, send a note, use lipstick or ink, a laptop or a hug. Do it now.

OUR Q&A a Day – BOOK GIVEAWAY –

create a time capsule for your relationship with one sentence a day.

One Lucky Reader will win a copy of Alexandra’s Amazon Best Seller: Our Q&A a Day: 3-Year Journal for 2 People.

TO ENTER – Complete this sentence and post in the comments: What I know about love is….

Contest is open in the US only and ends on Saturday June 21st at midnight Eastern time. The winner will be notified via email. Positive Vibes and Electronic Hugs will be sent to all who enter. All entries may be featured in a future blog post celebrating what we all know about love and your entry provides permission to repost and quote you. Cool, right?

If you enjoyed this post, please Like it! Pin It! Tweet it! or +1 it!  Our community of love and creativity grows thanks to inspired hearts likes yours. Now go love and be loved. XO

5 Things You Should Never Do When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

feeling overwhelmed read this blog

Feeling overwhelmed seems to be a natural byproduct of trying to juggle our various commitments and priorities in our seemingly endless quest for the perfect life that lives in our imagination.

A few weeks ago I wrote about PWS – Perfect Wife Syndrome and the pressure we put ourselves under to create our versions of perfection.

I definitely hit a chord, not only in my own mind (where I always do, haha!) but with our amazing community of readers.

When we can let go of our illusion of what perfection is and embrace the life we have in front of us, we can find relief, right?

Well, yes and no.

Because we live everyday. New things happen. Good things and bad things and really boring things and totally exciting things.

And guess what?

I have a feeling I am not alone in my general tendency to let things go and then pick them back up again.

Life is a process, not just one moment of clarity. Though those moments help the process get easier.

Life is much more like a novel than a movie. We have page after page of decisions and ideas and reflections before we get to the end.

And I say Thank God because I need every single opportunity I can get to start fresh, re-decide, re-align with my inner core and do it all over again another day.

This week I wasn’t just struggling for perfection. I was just struggling.

You know those times when everything comes to a head? When if you add one more thing to your to do list, you think it might explode on its own and disappear it’s so full?

Those days when all you want to do is head back under the covers, but you can’t because “the world as we know it depends on you” or at least it feels as if it does.

I had a super-sized, maxi, big gulp, whopper of one of those days this week and it wasn’t pretty.

To say I was feeling overwhelmed is an understatement.

There were tears and tissues and thoughts of chucking it all and getting a perfectly delightful job at a grocery store, where the hardest thing I would have to do on any given day is add and subtract to make change.

The Hubs was a prince. He held my hand and my heart while I cried. I love him every day, but on those days when it feels like my entire life is in a vat of quicksand and his hand is keeping me from going under, on those days, I love him a little extra.

So having just gone through “The Mega Overwhelm of 2014” as we are now calling it in my house, I learned a couple of things, well actually 5, which I want to share with you today. So that on that bright and sunny day when it seems like an episode of overwhelm might be imminent you know what NOT to do.

Don’t talk too much. Yes you have stuff on your mind and yes, sometimes it’s good to let it out. But the truth is you aren’t thinking clearly when you are overwhelmed and the stuff you are thinking might not be things you actually want to be saying. So consider talking just enough to share what’s happening to you, but not so much that you give more energy to the various crazy thoughts that might be running through your head. Because when you wake up the next morning, you might not think it was the best idea to dye your hair purple and move to Mexico. See?

Do not make any decisions larger than what to eat for dinner. When you are going through any kind of emotional disturbance the worst thing you can do is make a life altering decision. This includes big things like quitting your job. (By all means quit if you need to, but make that decision when you are calm, cool, collected and have evaluated your next steps, checked the balance in your 401k and updated your Linked In profile.) It also includes seemingly little things like picking a paint color or visiting the car dealer for muffler repair and risking leaving with a new car you had no intention of buying. So seriously, stay home, eat dinner and be quiet about it – see #1.

Do not stifle your tears. Do not pretend everything is okay. Do not post on Facebook as if life is grand – we all post too many of the date nights and not enough of the everyday real life stuff like “refrigerator stopped making ice, let’s unplug it, and have our kitchen look like a disaster area while we figure out where the condenser is.” We all have these moments. I promise. Every single friend you have on Facebook has cried at some point whether they post it or not. Their life is not perfect. So don’t feel like you have to pretend that yours is and don’t hesitate to have a good cry. Let it all out. During my episode this week I used the entire tissue box. And you know what? Letting all that emotion flow over me, felt so much better than trying to pretend it wasn’t happening. It’s one of the things you learn as a life coach, that avoiding a feeling is ultimately way more painful than just letting yourself feel it and then moving on from there.

Do not believe your painful thoughts. Okay this one is going to get totally life coachy on you, so bear with me. When we are in pain we have a flood of thoughts and we totally think they are all true. Things like:

  • This will never work.
  • I can’t handle this.
  • Life is so hard.
  • I can’t do this anymore.

Sound familiar?

These thoughts are lies. They are the product of having a virus in your emotional computer. They are giving your subroutines bad instructions. And the best think you can do with these thoughts is notice they are there and say “thank you but no thank you.”

Do not believe your thoughts when they are not helping you. Acknowledge them, say hello to them, notice which ones come up over and over again, just for the love of chocolate, don’t believe them.

And the final, possibly most important “Do not do this, pretty please….”

Do not, I repeat, do not lash out at your husband (wife, partner, significant other or beloved Chihuahua). It is so easy to do right? When everything is freaking you out, the easy button is to start finding some completely insignificant thing that your hubby did to annoy you and then maximize it to epic proportions. Please, please, please don’t do that. This is when you need his loving support the most, this is when letting him in and letting him love you really matters. And really helps.

Here is your insurance policy, use it for free: the minute you feel the stress factor rising, tell him. “Oh dear, I had a terrible day today and anything that comes out of my mouth might be extreme. If I seem like I am totally off or do something odd, please know it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the day I am having.” Then, say you are sorry in advance. Yes, I really mean it. “I am sorry if I do or say something crazy, just want to give you the heads up.”

You know what that does? That helps the person you love most not freak out too. A great rule of life is to try to avoid freaking out at the same time. Don’t believe me. Try it.

So what should you do when you are feeling stressed and maxed out?

Pause. Breathe. Cry. Hug. Read something inspiring. Go to sleep early. Take a break. Step away. Change the channel.

Don’t try to solve your problems when you aren’t thinking clearly. List them out if you want. Write down the most pressing ones. Or share them with someone you love. But don’t take any action until you have had at least one good night’s sleep and can multiply without a calculator. Or something like that.

(Because seriously I always need a calculator, so my own advice might not work on me for that one, but you know what I mean.)

This week’s LOVEWORK? Look at your schedule and see if you can remove one thing and if you can, do it! Preventing overwhelm before it happens is really a great idea!

feeling overwhelmed quote modernmarried.com

Dearest Sweethearts, Do you know you want to love your life more, but have no idea how to do it? Do you feel pulled in a million directions and feel like you should be grateful for the life you have, but instead your are just exhausted all the time? Exhaustion, irritability and stress are big red flags waving at you to reconnect with your heart. I would love to help you reconnect with your deepest, highest self.  Join me for a super-sonic 90 minute, Dreaming Deeper Coaching Session that will get you clear, help you identify tangible next steps for what to do RIGHT NOW to manage your priorities and fall back in love with your life! Check it out here: http://modernmarried.com/coaching/

If you enjoyed this post, please Like it! Pin It! Tweet it! or +1 it!  Our community of love and creativity grows thanks to inspired hearts likes yours. Now go love and be loved. XO

 

 

Kisses + Bedtime Stories – Reflections on 7 Years of Marriage

lessons from 7 years of marriage

This week is our 7th wedding anniversary and I feel more admiration and love for my husband today than the day I married him. I love that, of course, but it also made me wonder “how did that happen?” and “what have I learned?”

How is it so many people drift apart while others, like us, only grow in love the longer we are together?

I feel like I have learned a lot over the last 7 years (enough to write regularly on what makes marriage work!) so today I am just choosing some highlights. I hope you find them useful.

Kissing matters. The Gottman Institute recommends a 6 second kiss every day. Let it linger. It increases the positive feelings and physical connection between you and it just feels good.

Kissing may not be the only secret to a happy marriage, but it’s definitely one of them.

Reading an article about the power of kissing, one night I programmed into the Hubby’s phone “Kiss Your Wife” as an alarm at 9pm every night.

This has made us laugh (and kiss!) since the day I did it.

Asking for what you want helps you get it. When we first got married and were going to sleep at night, one night as a bit of a joke, I asked my hubby to tell me a bedtime story. Just something short, that he made up on the fly.

I loved it! As a child I never had story time like you see in movies but I always thought it was so sweet.

As an adult, I have found immense value and relief in do-overs. I have found that I can do things differently and just by that act, I can heal pain that I have carried for years by making a different choice.

I have also found, that I love bedtime stories! So I ask for them. And they warm my heart every time.

What are you craving that you could ask for? Ponder that. And ask. It might lead to the thing you want or a deeper conversation about why you want it. Regardless, asking is the key to clarity and to getting closer to what you crave.

One of my mantras is “follow the feel good” but a close sister to that one is “notice the blessings.”

Almost every day, I take a moment to look around my life – my schedule, my friends, my Facebook updates, my husband’s wisdom and humor and I notice and celebrate the blessings.

On Facebook it’s easy because you just click like. Some days I wish there was a like button for life.

Think of it this way – everything you LIKE you can get more of. The more you notice it, appreciate it, savor it and celebrate it.

I think one of the reasons our marriage is strong is that we don’t take a single moment of happiness for granted.

We know how lucky and blessed we are and continually create feelings of gratitude and joy by expressing how much we love and appreciate , each other, our experiences, and the lives we are creating every day.

There is nowhere else we would rather be than with each other.

Some days I fantasize that if we really do have many lifetimes, in my next one, I want to meet my hubby as kids, grow up together, and you know, really maximize every minute on earth.

Yes, I have odd fantasies. So true.

But in this life time, I am often very grateful that we met in our 30’s. We had the chance to experience a lot of things and we know that the grass is not greener.

The only thing that makes grass green is watering it.

That’s what we try to do every day.

Water the grass. Ask the questions. Listen. Hug. Laugh.

Just a little every day.

 

This week’s LoveWork? Celebrate with us! Find one thing to celebrate and say thank you. That’s all.

If you enjoyed this post, please Like it! Pin It! Tweet it! or +1 it!  Our community of love and creativity grows thanks to inspired hearts likes yours. Now go love and be loved. XO

Are You Suffering from Perfect Wife Syndrome? Stop that. Dream Deeper Instead.

wonder woman syndrom stress symptoms women overwhelm

Are you a current or recovering perfectionist? Do you ever mentally beat yourself up for not having the perfect:

• Clutter-free home
• Meal cooked for dinner
• Dress size
• Sexy-ready-to-go-lingerie (and massive amounts of desire to go with it)
• Reaction to your hubby’s request
• Insert yours here: _______________

I am a Life Coach so I am highly self-aware of the myths of perfection. However I am also human so I also fall into the PWS (Perfect Wife Syndrome) from time to time. Especially if my mother in law is visiting.

Now for the record, I have the best mother in law ever. She is super supportive and does not count the number of dust molecules on my dinner table.

She does not need to, because that’s what I do, right before she is about to come over. Which of course, happened last night.

When I had my latest attack of Perfect Wife Syndrome and thought, if this happens to ME and I am constantly finding ways to create a marriage and life that works for me, then what about you, my beautiful readers?

By the way – I cleared the table in record in time and forbid my hubby from opening the door to my dressing room. Draw your own conclusions on that one.

Yes, I have a room we call the dressing room which is really this tiny bedroom in our house that I commandeered to be my personal closet. It is the only space in our home with a massive amount of pink. (in the form of a huge, shaggy carpet on the floor).

As I was saying – I cleared the table, my wonderful mother in law came over. And she had much more important things on her mind than dust. We had a family chat and all was well.

I love my mother in law

Then this morning I realized, there are multiple places in my life where the illusion of perfection creeps up –

• The aforementioned messy kitchen table. If you have one – I love you!

• The fact that I don’t know how to cook and don’t really want to learn. Such a disappointment. To me. The hubby loves cooking. He could care less as long as I am his dedicated Sous Chef and wear the apron that says “will cook for kisses” which always makes him smile.

• The idea that I can never, ever miss a week of writing my blog or “The World, As We Know It, Will End.” Seems so silly to write that – I mean your heart and my heart will go on. Celine Dion says so, so of course it’s true. But I feel like I have failed in my duties if I am not religious about posting. And I have to talk myself out of it and say – this is REAL LIFE. Things happen. And hum some Celine to calm myself down.

• The fact that sometimes, I would much rather cuddle and talk and watch our favorite TV show and laugh together than have super-sonic sex. I mean we can all agree that super-sonic sex is awesome right? So I have to actually give myself permission to say, yes, it’s awesome, but what I would really like right now is just a deep conversation with lots of hand holding.

let's cuddle modernmarried.com

I have decided to label myself a “recovering perfectionist.” Because in my mind, there are countless other things my illusion of a Perfect Wife and Blogger would do.

• Never ever be late to anything for any reason.

• Never gain an extra pound (or 5)

• Always give the perfect gift (never an accidentally lame one).

Have shoes that were both comfortable and look like they are not. (I mean, a perfect wife would be able to and they look it.

• Be ready for anything at all times of the day and night – staff meeting? Yes! my notes are here! Adventure trip to Costa Rica? Yes! my bag is ready!

• Create 72 hour days to do every single thing everyone wishes I could do but really can’t.

You know, stuff like that.

So this morning I woke up and reminded myself of the following:

Perfect is an illusion.

Joy, pleasure, happiness, and satisfaction are only possible for me when I say goodbye to perfect and hello to me.

Hello me!

I can do things with heart.
I can do things I love.
I can love my husband as best as I can. And that is okay.
My table can be messy.
Holding hands can be awesome.
The blog can be late.
The world will still turn.
Hearts will go on.
Celine will still sing.

Whenever I am tempted to dream bigger, I can remember that I have the choice to dream deeper instead and choose what makes my heart sing instead of what makes my body clench with fear or anxiety or both.

brene brown oprah imperfection vulnerability whole hearted quote

It also means I can dream deeper on how I want to define my life as a wife and create something that truly works for me and my hubby – even if it doesn’t look anything like what you see on TV or what the lie of “Perfect Wife Syndrome” would have me believe.

Nothing I own or do or don’t do can take away from who I am inside, which is a person with a heart full of love to give.

And that’s what really matters.

The love we put into the world.

The time we take to dream, to create, to imagine and to forgive.

Not the number of dust molecules on my kitchen table.

how we love lyrics beth nielsen chapman

This week’s LOVE WORK?

Complete this sentence in the comments –

I feel like I have Perfect Wife Syndrome whenever:_______________.
And this is what I am going to do about it: ___________________________.

(Forgive myself, let it go, talk to the hubby about it, do THIS instead, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please Like it! Pin It! Tweet it! or +1 it! Our community of love and creativity grows thanks to inspired hearts likes yours. Now go love and be loved. XO

Retreat Into Self Worth – A Conversation with Barb Churchill

barb burns churchill, interview, retreat in minnesota, spiritual retreat, learning to breathe, marriage, love inspiration

Have you ever met someone and just instantly hit it off? Friendship at first sight? That’s what happened to me when I met my friend Barb.

I am eternally grateful to my podcast co-host CJ Blaquera  (brilliant weight loss coach by the way) for introducing us. The three of us met at a retreat hosted by one of my mentors, Christine Kane.

I mention that we met at a retreat because Barb is really passionate about why it’s important to take time to breathe, step away, and literally go away, to re-connect with your inner self. Sitting down and writing this I realized, I wouldn’t have met her in the first place if I hadn’t done just that!

Today, Barb is taking us on a mental retreat into self worth with a few marriage tips on the side. My favorite? Flexting! Which is a combination of flirting and texting. Love it!

I hope you find our conversation as inspiring as I did.

MM: Tell us about yourself in 5 sentences…

BARB: I am a wife and mother of 3 fabulous kids (I can say that, I’m their mom!) and have always known one of my purposes in life was to get married and raise a family.

I am a Productivity Coach for 4 Keller Williams Real Estate offices and run my own life coaching practice that focuses on helping women realize their worthiness.  I am a yoga enthusiast – so much so I became certified to teach – enjoy communing with nature, love to travel and anything to do with chocolate!

One of my favorite ways to spend time is in my screen porch, reading a good book with a lovely cup of tea.

MM: Why do you do what you do?

BARB: I grew up in a dysfunctional family where alcoholism wreaked havoc during my teenage years and the amount of shame was palpable.  It took me years to discover my self-worth and through my own recovery from addiction, to embrace the fact that I have value just as I am.

No matter how you slice it, it all comes down to “Am I enough?”  Helping my clients learn to love themselves and grasp their inherent worth is more than rewarding – it’s magical.

positive marriage quote, love, marriage tips and advice, relationships

MM: One of my favorite management principles is “Stop, Start, Keep” the idea is that there are things we should stop doing, start doing and keep doing that will make us successful. What should we “stop, start, and keep” to make our relationships stronger

BARB: Stop: Criticizing your spouse.  Whether or not you verbalize it, criticizing keeps you focused on what your spouse isn’t doing or saying, rather than valuing what he/she is contributing to the relationship.

It can really damage the intimacy and trust that is crucial to marriages. We stay tuned in to our favorite radio station, WIMY – Why I Married You. It’s the station of long-term love.

Start: Noticing.  We all seem to be so darn busy all the time so many things can get over looked.  Notice when you spouse does little things like putting the dishes in the dishwasher or taking out the trash.

Notice when he shaves on the weekend (that’s a big one at our house!) or how good she looks when you go out for the night.  Notice when he looks like he could use a hug or she needs some “couch time”.  

Noticing requires us to be truly present with our spouse, and that’s a great place to be.

Keep: Laughing.  Oh my gosh, we laugh all the time! Having a great sense of humor is what attracted us to each other.

My husband makes me laugh and I love that! And he laughs at all my jokes.  All this laughing helps us avoid taking things and ourselves too seriously. We love to have fun and those little inside jokes – the ones that keep you chuckling – are priceless.

MM: How do you stay connected to your hubby?

We talk on the phone at least once a day during the week and “flext” (that’s a combo of texting and flirting – I just made that up!) several times a day.   It’s a way to let each other know we’re thinking about us and make the effort to reach out.  We set aside time just for us – no kids. Even if it’s just ½ hour-we make sure to sit together and talk so we both feel connected.

marriage tips and advice, why flirting is good for your marriage, love, romance

MM: Tell us about your latest project…

BARB: I think it’s so important to schedule time for ourselves -away from all our “shoulds” – to relax, reflect and refresh.  I’m currently creating a retreat for women in early June 2014, which will help them do just that.

MM:  Why are you hosting a retreat?

BARB: I’ve always thought it would be so fun to lead a small group of women on an overnight retreat – so much connection, learning and reflection – what’s not to love!  I’ve also noticed so many of my clients struggling with the same issues – What is enough? What does success really look like? How does it feel inside?  – that I thought it was the perfect time to create a retreat that would shine a light on the struggle we women face with these topics as well as give each woman an opportunity to create her own definition of success. But you can’t take a step back and decide what success is until you pause and breathe. That’s how the Exhale Retreat was born. I can’t wait to dive in!

MM: Why is it called “The Exhale Retreat”?

We are all so busy with work, family, kids, friends – life!  Think about it for a minute. When someone asks you how you’re doing, what’s your first response?  “I’ve been really busy!” and when we’re in our busyness, our breath is shallow and comes from the chest.  Not real calming. The Exhale Retreat is all about slowing down, pausing and exhaling into the experience.  We need to take time and lean in – just be. That’s where we find our answers.

MM: What can we do in our daily lives to grab a little sanity and peace?

You don’t have to wait until the retreat in June to start living a calmer existence.

There are many things you can do right now that don’t take much time at all. One of the easiest and most effective is to learn how to breathe – deep, long belly breath. 

I first learned how powerful the breath is when I started practicing yoga several years ago. I would enter the class all hurried and rushed and an hour later, I looked like a zen master.

It was all about the breath!

So, the next time you’re at your desk or stuck in traffic and you feel yourself starting to hyperventilate, just try taking a deep breath through your nose, expanding your belly out, holding it for a second and them exhaling through your mouth, while your belly contracts.

Do this a few times and notice how your shoulders melt down your back, your heart rate slows and your mind stops racing.  If you’d like more tips on how to avoid being overwhelmed and stay centered, I’ve got a free guide on my website, www.barbchurchillcoaching.com. 

yoga breathing, yogic breathing, breathe, meditate, exhale, love, marriage

A sought-after workshop leader and inspirational speaker, Barb Churchill has been mentoring working women for over twenty years. Having built and run several successful businesses herself, she has learned what it takes to create the kind of work/life balance that is meaningful and sustainable. Barb believes every woman should have permission to be themselves and writes regularly about embracing imperfection, tuning out the noisy world and trusting intuition. She also leads retreats that help women unplug from the frenzy of daily life and reconnect with their worthiness and inner wisdom.  She invites you to take a moment to breathe and meet her at BarbChurchillCoaching.com.

Breathing, retreating, flexting and love! So grateful to Barb for such an inspiring interview! If you are near the Twin Cities or have always wanted to go on a Retreat but weren’t sure how to find one – check out all the details for Barb’s Exhale Retreat here.

This week’s LOVE WORK – Notice 5 things your spouse does that you LOVE. Celebrate them with a thank you! And if you are feeling inspired, share them in the comments on the blog. Also, flext. ;-)

If you enjoyed this post, please Like it! Pin It! Tweet it! or +1 it!  Our community of love and creativity grows thanks to inspired hearts likes yours. Now go love and be loved. XO

 

 

 

The 4 Pillars of Trust – And How They Keep Your Marriage Strong

  trust in marriage, how to regain trust, gottman trust metric

We all know that a marriage without trust is like a car without gas, it just won’t run. Knowing how to regain trust and even better yet, maintain it in the first place is essential to creating a thriving marriage relationship.

But did you ever consider that there are different kinds of trust and we need all 4 of them to make our relationship work?

This great article on Your Tango talks about the different kinds of trust your marriage needs and was the inspiration for this week’s post.

Even though we are all familiar with wedding vows, to love honor and cherish, there are promises that we might never say out loud that are the foundation for a marriage to last and, more importantly, be happy.

Safety, Faithfulness, Commitment and Reliability are 4 pillars of trust every marriage needs.  If any one of these is missing, the roof starts caving in and the relationship starts to deteriorate.

Here is why they are so important:

Safety

Marriages thrive when both partners feel safe and secure.

You have to trust that your partner isn’t going to hurt you, to be able to reach out to them when you need help, to be vulnerable and share your life with them as well as your hopes and dreams.

Whether it’s physical or verbal – any kind of rejection chips away at trust.

One form of rejection that you may not be aware of, is the all too common “nagging.” If you nag, you are saying, “I don’t trust you will do your part.”

A loving reminder is okay. “Nagging” is a sign that there is a trust issue that hasn’t been addressed and a deeper conversation is called for. The next time you hear it or feel tempted to do it – pause and ask, “What is really needed here?”

That goes two ways – we also have to keep our commitments once we make them. More on reliability later in this post.

Faithfulness

Another kind of trust that marriages need is faithfulness. That goes without saying right?

Without sexual fidelity we just can’t develop any of the other types of trust.

Physical fidelity and emotional fidelity go hand in hand, so sharing your secrets with your spouse is actually a way to build emotional faithfulness in your marriage.

Marriage researcher John Gottman says, “Trust is built in very small moments in which one person turns toward their partner when they’re in need. When our partner responds positively, by “being there” for us, that builds trust.”

Once we are “there” for each other over and over again, we can also begin to trust each other in the face of anger or upset.

Going back to that feeling of safety – we all want to know that person will be there even when something is going wrong.

Having a ground rule that says, “its okay to be angry, I am not going anywhere,” is a very important building block to trust and like emotional cement in your relationship.

Commitment

It’s also critical that both partners declare their marriage as a top priority both in spending time together and in carrying out the commitments of daily life.

First, by investing time in your relationship, that shows the other person they matter to you. You are putting them above other things. It also helps build trust because you are creating evidence that you are reliable, that you can be counted on and trusted. The ability to rely on each other as a team is essential to sustain trust over time.

Reliability

As you can see, each pillar builds and supports the other. Reliability is the glue that holds all the pillars together as – trusting you will do what you say you will do is essential for safety, faithfulness and commitment.

Knowing the ingredients of what creates trust can also help you see if there is an area in your marriage where you are not feeling or expressing trust. This way you can re-build that pillar before it breaks down.

The Gottman Institute has a great quiz that helps you calculate “The Trust Metric” in your relationship. You can use this as a tool to determine where you might need to learn how to regain trust in any of the critical areas of your marriage.

This week’s LoveWork? Take the Gottman Trust Metric Quiz by clicking here.

how to regain trust, trust in marriage, building trust in relationships

If you enjoyed this post, please Like it! Pin It! Tweet it! or +1 it!  Our community of love and creativity grows thanks to inspired hearts likes yours. Now go love and be loved. XO

Marriage Vows That Speak from the Heart – An interview with Reverend Hannah Grace

marriage vows, wedding vows, write your own vows  

Dear Modern Married Family,

One of the unexpected blessings of starting this blog has been getting to meet amazing, inspiring people (like you!) and today’s featured guest, Reverend Hannah Grace from GraceCeremonies.com

She has such a deeply heart-felt approach to helping couples celebrate their wedding, I thought she was the perfect guide to teach us what to do if we are writing marriage vows for a wedding, vow renewal or just want to recommit to each other with a sacred ceremony of two.

In this interview, she shares her approach to helping couples discover what their hearts want to say and how our wedding vows can establish the foundation for the choices we make as a couple for years to come.

ENJOY!

 MM:  Tell us about yourself and Grace Ceremonies in 5 sentences.

REV. HANNAH: After 10 years working in retail (specifically handcrafts and fine jewelry) I experienced a very unexpected calling to become a minister.  I listened to the call and decided to attend an Interfaith Seminary, even though I had no idea where this new path would lead!  During my training it became clear that I wanted to minister (literally, to serve) people during major life transitions like birth, death and marriage.  It’s an amazing honor to be with people during these times…every day I’m grateful I heeded the call to do such meaningful and fulfilling work.

 

MM: You perform wedding ceremonies all the time.  What advice do you find yourself giving to couples over and over again?

REV. HANNAH:  I’m consistently reminding couples to be themselves.

For instance, almost every couple I meet with starts by saying they have no idea what kind of wedding ceremony they want.  But, without fail, within an hour of conversation we have the whole ceremony sketched out.

They thank me for figuring it out when all I’ve done is make space for them to tell me who they are…and from that place their desires and preferences, their visions and hopes become clear.

It comes up again and again and again, especially when it comes to writing their wedding vows.  I remind couples, “This is your wedding.  This is your life partner.  Don’t worry about what other people think.  What do you need to say?”

I feel like sometimes people just need permission; to be told that who they are is perfect.

wedding ceremony, spiritual bride, vows, wedding blessing

MM: Why are ceremonies so powerful? 

REV. HANNAH: We’re all here on the journey of a lifetime, passing through various milestones that change and shape our identities.

Ceremonies help define and sanctify the chapters of our life, providing an important opportunity to nurture our connection to each other, our families, communities and ourselves.

Sadly, many people think ceremonies only belong to religions, but that’s not true at all!  I’m consistently amazed to see how ceremonies, even something as customary as a wedding ceremony, create a potent container within which the meaning of life passages can be experienced, witnessed and honored.

MM: Tell us about modern wedding vows.  How are they different?  The same? Are there some popular ones you use over and over again?

REV. HANNAH: As modern weddings have gotten more unique and personal, so have the vows.

Couples no longer feel like they “have” to do it a certain way, or that they must use the same vows.

Many of my couples don’t even share their vows with one another until the actual wedding.  (And then there’s my husband, who spoke his from the heart, on the spot!!)

I’ve had a few couples that initially said they wanted to use traditional wedding vows (“For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health…”) but once I provide them with samples of alternative vows, they all have chosen to either write their own or personalize one of the samples.

I have yet to have two couples use the same vows.

One thing that’s stayed the same, I think, is that the vows are the most intimate part of the wedding.  Looking into your partner’s eyes, pledging yourself to them for life…it doesn’t get much better than that!

MM:  Most of our readers are already married and might want to renew their vows – what is your advice for them?

REV. HANNAH: If a couple had a traditional ceremony, they likely used standard wedding vows.

Renewing your vows is the perfect time to speak from the heart, from knowing each other so deeply, and from staying together through good times and bad.  It’s easier to allow for honesty (Yeah, there were some hard times in there!) and for humor.

Sometimes couples can be challenged by how to encapsulate their feelings about their partner in wedding vows.  I’ve found this simple, 5-minute exercise is a great way to help them get started:

For the first minute of the five, find a spot – preferably outside or somewhere you feel relaxed, undistracted and grounded – and simply breathe.

For the second minute, ask yourself,

 “What 10 things do I appreciate and admire most about this incredible human being I am about to marry/I am married to”? 

 Breathe some more.

For the third minute, write them down, smiling with a full heart.

For the fourth minute, look at that list and see if there’s anything else that comes to mind.  Offer gratitude.  You’re both so lucky!

For the fifth minute, let go of the list and surrender to the moment.  Breathe.

Okay, you’re done!

MM: Why do you think the vows we declare are so important?

REV. HANNAH: The wedding vows are truly the heart of the ceremony.  Sure, everyone the couple loves is there and I get to say important things about marriage and there are beautiful poems and music and great clothes and flowers and hair…  But if you take all that away and leave only the vows, it’s still a wedding.  Even with my formal blessing and their family and friends as witnesses, it’s really about the exchange between those two people.

I tell couples that when they take their wedding vows, they actually marry each other.

It’s where they take ownership of the marriage they will create together.

The vows are the foundation of the choices the couple will make, every day for the rest of their lives, to stay married.

write your own wedding vows, marriage vows, appreciate your spouse
Reverend Hannah Grace received her ordination from the International Seminary for Interfaith Studies in New York, NY.  She is also trained in Psychosynthesis counseling and is a Level II Reiki practitioner as well as a Hospice volunteer. One of her favorite quotes is from Anne Lamott – “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”  

 To learn more about how she helps couples through the journey of life time please visit her online:

 http://www.graceceremonies.com

http://www.facebook.com/GraceCeremonies

http://instagram.com/graceceremonies#

 

Wasn’t that inspiring? A deeply heartfelt thanks to Reverend Hannah for such beautiful insights into how we can make our marriage vows more meaningful no matter how long we have been married.

This week’s LOVE WORK comes from Reverend Hannah. Follow her instructions above and take a moment to name 10 things you respect and admire about your spouse. Feel free to share a few of them in the comments, but most important, tell them to each other!

If you enjoyed this post, please Like it! Pin It! Tweet it! or +1 it!  Our community of love and creativity grows thanks to inspired hearts likes yours. Now go love and be loved. XO