The First Day

It’s Monday morning, I’m walking in our neighborhood, and it’s the first day of school. School buses are crisscrossing the neighborhood like bees swarming a hive. Parents and children are gathered in groups along the streets. Kids are dressed in new school clothes and toting new book bags. Parents are lining up fidgety kids for those infamous first day of school pictures, while cheerily encouraging them about what a great day it will be and what a great year they’re going to have. It’s the first day of school!

Do you remember your first day of school? What about your first day of high school? Your first day of college? Your first day on the job? Your first day of marriage? Your first day as a parent? Your first day as an empty nester? Your first day of retirement?

Life is full of “first days.” As the cliché goes, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

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How to Put Your Kids and Your Marriage in Their Proper Place

When I stepped into the waiting room, I noticed that Bryan and Christine (not their real names) were sitting in separate chairs and weren’t talking. As they took separate seats in my office, I asked them why they had come to counseling. The question was met with sighs and silence. After some awkward attempts to get Bryan to go first, Christine finally said, “We’re really struggling in our marriage. ” From there, the story began to roll out.

They were once good friends and playful lovers who talked, laughed, and spent time together. But now they were more like room mates who only talked when they needed to. Christine was focused on their 3 active kids and the mounds of laundry and homework that came with them. Bryan was focused on the increasing demands of providing for their family, and the occasional game of golf. Their time together was spent discussing kids, schedules, or money. This seemed to be the only thing holding them together.

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Lessons From Living in a Shack

In twenty years of marriage counseling, I’ve seen couples put more and more emphasis on their house.

I’ve seen engaged couples believe they couldn’t get married until they had purchased a three bedroom, two bath home. I’ve seen couples expecting a child purchase a bigger home for more bedrooms, bigger yard, better neighborhood, a pool, or a playroom.

It’s as if we believe we can’t have a good marriage and family unless we have the “right” house.

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Rearranged

familyStrong marriages and families practice flexibility. Whether it’s with the introduction of the first child or the first grandchild, there’s a willingness to go with the flow and let life get rearranged.

In this guest post, Connie Plummer gives a great picture of a marriage that’s willing to be rearranged. Connie is an educator, a children’s minister, and a wise advocate for marriage and family. I know her words will encourage you as much as they did me.  

As you enter our home there is a little table with some favorite photos of our family, daughter, son, husband, wife, and grandkids. Along with these family photos is

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The Way It Used To Be

Depositphotos_30235739_xsThese are days of rapid and amazing change. Drones in the skies. Microcomputers in our pockets. The private sector in space. Social media in revolutions. There are brand new ways of looking at and living in the world, many of which are very beneficial.

But there can be times when we need to go back to the way it used to be. I was reminded of this not long ago by a request from my daughter.

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How to Better Live With Your In-Law – The Bottom Line

Portrait of happy couple with parentsHave you ever been listening to someone talk about something and thought to yourself, “Come on! Just get to the point! What’s the bottom line?!” Well, for the last 3 posts we’ve been talking about how to better live with your in-laws and now it’s time to get to the point. What’s the bottom line on how to better live with your in-laws?  Believe it or not, it really all boils down to one principle, one practice, and one parting thought.

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How to Better Live with Your In-Laws – 5 Steps

Portrait Of Multi-Generation Chinese Family Walking In Park TogetherIn the last post, we talked about the tug-of-war that comes with learning to live with your in-laws. In this post, we’ll look at 5 steps to improve your relationship with your in-laws. You may be thinking, “It can’t be that easy!” Well, notice that I said 5 steps to improve the relationship, not 5 steps to make the relationship the way you want it to be. So, let’s look at the 5 steps.

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How to Better Live With Your In-Laws: Tug-of-War

Tug of warIn the last post, we began looking at how to better live with your in-laws. When you get married, in-laws are part of the package. There can can be some really good things about your in-laws, and there can be some really difficult things about your in-laws. Unfortunately, you get both. It’s a package deal.

Marriage initiates two new tensions into your life. Each of these tensions is like an internal tug-of-war that you can’t avoid. Let’s look at the two primary areas where you’ll feel this tug-of-war.

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How to Better Live With Your In-Laws

Happy African Family“Meet the Parents” is a movie that looks at learning to accept and be accepted by future in-laws.  The movie is funny at times, awkward at times and down right painful at times.  Hopefully your experience with in-laws has been better.

When my wife and I announced to her parents we were getting married, (yeah, I know…we should have asked rather than announce) they were not overjoyed.

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