Posts Tagged ‘family’

New Year, Renewed Love

January 5, 2010

The beginning of a new year brings about resolutions and ways to improve the things that didn’t work the year before. It’s a time when people set goals and vow not to continue making the same mistakes from the past. After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, New Year’s offers a feeling of renewal and a chance to start over. Living in this fast paced society, change is a constant and normal part of life. There is always something you will want to change about yourself, and always something you will want to change about others, even the people you love. But rather than focusing on changing your relationships, perhaps it is more important to focus on maintaining them.

With the craziness of holidays and the coming and going of friends and family, it can be easy to move “maintaining the relationship” to the bottom of your list of things to do. However, this time of year often produces unwanted stress and it is important to support, and have the support of, your partner during these times. It’s easy to get caught up in life, but remember to take time to slow down and enjoy the relationships in your life. As the new year begins, take time to renew the love between you and your partner.

Here are a few tips from The National Healthy Marriage Resource center on how to maintain a healthy relationship:

1. Spend time with each other. It is important to spend time with your partner to ensure there is room for the relationship to grow. It is always a good idea to have a date night for you and your partner to have intimate quality time together. Another idea is to take advantage of the holidays and vacation time and plan for a quick getaway. Relationships require work and time, and spending time together is a good way to learn about each other while connecting with your partner.

2. Show respect for each other at all times. Research shows that nothing can damage a relationship quicker than put-downs and criticism. Once a lack of respect occurs, it is easy for a couple to fall into a pattern of negative habits. During time with family and friends, it is especially important to show support for each other. Cutting your partner down in front of others, even if in a joking manner, can cause a lot of harm.

3. Explore Intimacy. It is important to know the difference between sexual and emotional intimacy. Emotional intimacy is an important aspect of the relationship and allows you and your partner to express your true emotions without feeling judged or unappreciated.

4. Improve your communication skills. Learning to really listen to your partner is a skill that takes time to develop, but one that is of the utmost importance in relationships. Learn when to listen to your partner and when to offer advice versus comfort. Never assume that the other person know what you are thinking and feeling… They don’t! Being open and honest is key in maintaining a relationship.

5. Forgive each other. At some point in the relationship, your partner is going to do something that hurts your feelings, frustrates you, or makes you really angry. The key here is to learn and practice forgiveness. Don’t dwell on arguments or hold grudges for the rest of your relationship. It is important to learn to apologize, forgive, and move on.

So as 2010 begins to move forward, remember it’s not all about the new. Focus on the relationships already present in your life, and look forward to a renewed love and support in the new year.

Money Management & The Holiday Season

December 26, 2009

The holiday season brings forth so many wonderful things: good food, family gatherings, presents, and the list just goes on and on. Personally, the holidays,especially Christmas, is just a magical time for me and I look forward to it every year. One of my family’s traditions is to draw names for Christmas at Thanksgiving dinner. The goal of this tradition is to ensure that every person receives a gift and that everyone is able to save some money. This was especially important this year considering the economic state our country is in. So this year like every other year everyone agreed that we would stick to buying a present for the person whose name we pulled. However, this year like every other year for as long as I can remember, the rule was thrown out the window, and my mother and I spent hours and hours in shopping centers and department stores and hundreds and hundreds of dollars buying Christmas gifts for everyone in our family. After the shopping was over and our retail therapy “high” began to fade, the realization of how much money we had spent began to sink in as it does year after year.

I am sure that my family is not the first and definitely not the last to go a little overboard with the Christmas shopping and for those people who are nodding their heads in agreement you know all too well the consequences of overspending during the holidays and the stress that it can bring, especially with your spouse or signficant other. Although it is too late at this point to give you any money-saving shopping tips or advice for the holidays use this time and opportunity to discuss money management with your spouse or significant other. The Alabama Marriage Handbook provides us with several tips to help you effectively manage your money with your partner.

  1. Set aside a regular time each month to discuss money issues (i.e. your budget, planned expenses, debt-reduction plan).
  2. Talk regularly about ways to better manage your money.
  3. Use a team approach (respect each other’s differences, and work toward decisions both of you agree with).
  4. Keep each other up to date on all personal assets and debts.
  5. Discuss and come to agreements about how to use any extra money.
  6. Write short and long-range financial goals together.
  7. As you get financial goals, remember to be realistic, specific, and flexible.
  8. Remember to use positive communication skills when discussing money.

I hope that these tips help you start or improve on you and your partner’s money management skills and who knows maybe when next years’ holiday season rolls around you will be able to apply some of those tips and advice to your holiday shopping.  Happy Holidays!

Jaleesa Albadani

Graduate Research Assistant

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative


December 2, 2009

In the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof, humble Jewish farmer Tevye describes his family’s recipe for unity and stability: “How do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition! Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!” While tradition brings the family together, one of the themes of Fiddler is also that over-rigid adherence to tradition can sometimes drive family members apart; flexibility is paramount.

This is especially true during the holiday season. Annual traditions can provide something for family members to look forward to, create memories that are cherished for a lifetime, and fortify familial bonds. However, if compromises can’t be made to adapt to maturing children, family members living apart, scheduling conflicts with in-laws, or the realignment of family boundaries due to divorce or marriage, then conflict and resentment may occur. As with most things in life, a healthy balance is key.

What holiday traditions do you share with your spouse, children, family, or other loved ones? If you don’t have many (or any), what would you like to do? Perhaps I could be so bold as to offer a few suggestions:

– Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays are often a lonely time for many who are estranged from their families or who live alone. Perhaps you are one of those people. One of the best ways to enjoy this time, I’ve found, is to reach out to those who may be struggling and invite them to any activities you may be participating in, even and especially if you feel isolated or alone yourself.

– Visit holiday light displays, such as the enormous one at Calloway Gardens.

– Read (or even better, recreate) the stories behind your holiday. Christians can re-enact The Nativity. Jews can act out the story of Hanukkah. Involving children as actors (even if a narrator provides the dialogue) is both fun (who doesn’t love to dress up?) and a great way to teach them about their heritage.

– If shopping is a pain, have each family member draw another member’s name out of a hat; everyone is only to buy a gift for the person they drew, with a budget cap set on how much can be spent (e.g. $50 max). This simplifies the gifting process, allowing for less stress and more family time.

– Have a family dinner (if your kids are grown up, a potluck can help simplify things).

– Have a family game night to enjoy one another’s company. Get-together games, like Scattegories and Balderdash, are excellent ways to lighten the mood, bring out a competitive spirit and teamwork, and make fun memories.

Happy Holidays, and enjoy!

Jono Decker


From Bah Humbug to Happy Holidays

December 4, 2008

Most of my friends would not describe me as the person who eagerly awaits the holiday season. On the contrary, they know that in the past, I have really dreaded the holidays due to the many transitions that my family has endured over the past several years. My family, like so many others, has experienced multiple divorces, deaths, and other family transitions that dull the cheerful glow of the holiday season. I know I am not the only one who has wished to sleep through Thanksgiving and Christmas and then, when we wake up, it’s January.

However, we all know this is not possible.

Thanksgiving this past week was the official kick off of the holiday season. Much to my surprise, I found myself looking forward to Thanksgiving and seeing my family. Now that Thanksgiving has passed and time is on the super speedway towards Christmas, I have found that I am anticipating this holiday as well. Inquiring minds may want to know what has accounted for this change in perspective regarding my “bah humbug” attitude towards Christmas.

I used to spend my time mourning over times passed and wishing for things to go back to how they used to be. I can imagine that there are millions of people who are currently struggling with this same problem. However, I recently realized that I will never be satisfied if I continue to long for times that have passed because it is simply not possible to go back and relive the “good ole days.” I have learned to appreciate the people who are in my life who really love me. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved and appreciated them but I have developed a new sense of gratefulness for my family in realizing that I must appreciate them now.

Therefore, I encourage you to be appreciative of the family that you have right now instead of focusing on the one that once was. We only get one family, so let’s enjoy them (with all of their craziness and flaws) to the fullest. Happy Holidays!

Ashley Anders, M.S., Graduate Research Assistant

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative