10 Questions to ask yourself before placing blame


By Robin May

It’s easy when you are frustrated with someone, especially your spouse,  to immediately blame them for your frustration. However one of the tenants of a healthy relationship is the ability to self reflect! Use these 10 questions to do a SELF-CHECK before casting blame on your partner!

1. Am I Self Aware? It is very difficult to be in a relationship with someone who cannot see their own shortcomings.  Everyone contributes to the chaos in the relationship (even if the “contribution” is that of apathy or passiveness.).   Our natural tendency is to minimize our issue while magnifying our spouses.  Make it a point to take an honest assessment on your role in any issue you and your spouse may be facing.

2. Am I being Reasonable? Have you ever dealt with someone that did not fight fair? Or maybe you have dealt with someone who has expectations that just seem way too high?  Either of those characteristics can be described as being unreasonable and that can create challenges in your marriage.  Instead, do your part to think and operate fairly and check to make sure your expectations aren’t unattainable.

3. Am I Remorseful? Did you do something that you KNOW hurt your spouse, even if you don’t agree that they should actually be hurt? If your spouse expresses to you that they are hurt (or angry) at something you did, don’t dismiss it.  Being remorseful doesn’t mean that your intention was to hurt them, but simply that you love them and you don’t want them to feel bad because of you!

4. Am I being Intentional? This may seem like an odd fit, but many couples suffer from ‘unintentional neglect’. In other words, couples get so consumed with their day to day lives (work, the children, family obligations, etc) that their marriage ends up on the backburner.  Make sure you do your part to be intentional with your spouse by being available and engaged in their life!

5. Am I being flexible? A healthy marriage consists of two people willing to be flexible and not rigid. Things will not always go your way…situations won’t always work out picture perfect…sometimes (well, often) you will have to put someone else’s needs above your own.  If you and your spouse are facing a tough situation make sure you are willing to adjust your perspective and be willing to compromise.

6. Am I being vulnerable? Has your spouse ever said to you “I just don’t know what you are feeling?”  We all want to know that our spouse trusts us enough with the things that matter most to them, including feelings they would not ordinarily share.  If you are keeping a wall up, your spouse may be responding defensively towards you, simply because they can’t feel that you care! Being willing to be vulnerable with your spouse creates intimacy and it will help them understand why you respond the way you do! Let down your emotional wall and trust your spouse with your heart.

7. Am I Inquisitive? When was the last time you came home and asked your spouse what they need the most from you? Have you asked them what their prayer request is in this season? Do you know the pressures they are facing at work? What is keeping them up at night?  The two of you may be having conflict simply because you aren’t intimately engaged in one another’s lives! Start asking questions…not as an interrogation but simply because you care about what they care about!

8. Am I Committed? Listen, while fidelity is important, this goes beyond being faithful.  Every partner wants to know that when they need their spouse to be there, they will be there.  Every partner wants to know that tough times won’t send their spouse running! Every partner wants to know that when the rubber hits the road, they can still count on their spouse.  Every partner wants to know that they don’t have to carry the weight of the relationship alone!  Do you reiterate, often, that you are in it for the long-haul or do you leave room for doubt either by what you say or more importantly what you do?

9. Am I Forgiving? Anybody that has been married longer than a week (and that’s being generous) has made a mistake…and will continue to do so.  This is not a license for you (or your spouse) to be blatantly disrespectful and then demand forgiveness. However, over the course of your relationship, learning the art (and yes, it is a skill!) of forgiveness will help you build a loving union.  If you are holding on to an issue, it’s like holding on to a snake and wondering why you got bit!

10. Am I being Protective?  This is another one that may seem odd, but consider this…one of the highest areas of conflict for couples is the impact of outside influences.  Are you allowing someone or something to impact your relationship in a negative way? While we aren’t meant to live on isolation island, we also should not leave our marriages open to anyone and anything. Be careful about exposing your relationship to people and situations that can be a virus for your romance.


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4 Ways People Maintain their Cars More than Their Marriage

4 Ways People Maintain their Cars more than they maintain their Marriage!

The popular R&B singer, R Kelly sang the lyrics “…you remind me of my jeep…” back in the 90’s. And while the lyrics to the song are a bit risqué, Kelly may have been on to something.
After reading an article about a man’s unhealthy obsession with cars, I immediately wondered how many of us (male and female) spend more time on the maintenance of our cars than we do the maintenance of our marriage?

Flow with me on this one. Let’s consider the things we do consistently for our cars and compare it to our marriages and then we can decide for ourselves if our car gets more maintenance than our marriage.

Now let me warn you. I am no car expert and honestly I probably neglect my car more than the average person. But there are a few things that even I do (Okay, okay…things my husband does) consistently:

Consistent Oil Changes: Remember when I said I am not a car expert? Well, one thing I KNOW you must do is change the oil in your car at least every few months (or after a certain number of miles). When we get our oil changed, we remove the old oil and put in new oil. The oil in the car ensures that the parts stay lubricated, that the engine doesn’t overheat and all other parts keep running smoothly (did I get that right?). If you do not change the oil in your car, eventually the filter will stop getting rid of all the junk that has built up over time, the engine will no longer be lubricated and the car will be ruined. Of course this doesn’t happen immediately, but overtime, it is inevitable.

MARRIAGE MOMENT: How often do you “change the oil” in your relationship? Do you and your spouse sit down every few months to look over your marriage? Do you talk about the things that you need to get rid of, issues that you need to resolve, mistakes you need to forgive? Do you talk about the issues that are keeping your marriage from running smoothly? Do you talk about what you should start doing to improve the functioning of your marriage? Have you considered the fact that your marriage may have some build up (wear & tear) that is causing your marriage to have some trouble? Are you aware that if you do not do these things, your marriage may not fail immediately, but overtime it could cause irreparable damage?

• Tire Rotation: Most of the time when you take your car to get the oil changed, the mechanic will ask if you want your tires rotated as well. Tire rotation is important because over time, tires wear unevenly. The front may get too much pressure, the back may hit too many curbs and the wear & tear of the tires needs to be distributed evenly. I remember my father telling me all of that a long time ago! But I wanted to make sure I was on point so I looked up the importance of tire rotation and this line stood out to me: Rotating tires “ensures that your car handles in a steady and predictable manner when you need to make a sudden turn or stop…”. Hmmm…that’s interesting!

MARRIAGE MOMENT: One of the most common areas of conflict for couples is the issue of Roles & Responsibilities. One person often feels they are handling more of the responsibilities than their spouse. He or she then feels burdened by the pressure, they feel as if they take the most hits and they may become frustrated because the duties aren’t distributed evenly. How often do you and your spouse discuss the roles & responsibilities of your lives? Do you take time to evaluate what it takes to make your household run smoothly (chores, children, work, etc)? Do you check in to make sure that neither of you feels overworked or slighted? Do you talk about the current dynamics of your marriage (i.e. “Right now I am in school so you are handling a lot of the household duties, but when I graduate we can revisit household duties.”) and when the dynamics may change? This is critical because when you face the sudden, unexpected issues of life as a couple, both of you should be able to face the situation without feeling already weighed down with additional pressure!

• Car Washed & Cleaned (inside & out): Confession! I must do better. It drives my husband crazy, but I am convinced that the 3 children I chauffer around makes it impossible to keep the inside of my car clean. I am so busy trying to get to my destination, I have been guilty of overlooking the inside of my car. But, while I simply can not admit it to him, my husband is right. It’s important to stay on top of the mess.  Because if not, when someone gets in my car, I immediately start apologizing for all the mess, I start throwing stuff in the back seat, I stuff the banana peel in my makeshift trashcan, I try to hide the yogurt stain the kids left…whew (oops! Is that just me?)! In all seriousness, I know how my vehicle looks can be a reflection of me, so I try to do what I can to keep it on point! Whether you are washing your car by hand, having someone else do it, or running it through a car wash, most of us make sure the outside (and the inside) of our cars are taken care of — because after awhile too much dirt starts to impact how you and others look at your ride! We want to feel proud of our vehicle and it doesn’t hurt when someone else notices it too!

MARRIAGE MOMENT: Do you and your spouse make sure you are doing things simply to make the other person feel good AND look good? Are you so busy with “life” that you forget to flirt, kiss, and caress one another? What do you do to make sure your spouse laughs, smiles and enjoys being married to you? Does marriage look good on your spouse? Are you intentional about telling your spouse how you feel about them? Do you make sure others know how important and special your spouse is to you? Do the two of you take time away from the busyness of life, to simply take care of one another? Do you find yourself neglecting your spouse because you are so busy trying to get to your next destination in life? Are you aware that the health of your marriage is often a reflection of you?

• Gas: This is a simple one but probably the most important. There is no point in having a car if you don’t keep gas in the car! In order for your car to function it has to have gas (or electricity for the fancy hybrid folk!). Regardless of how excellent your mileage is, eventually you will need to pull into a gas station to put some fuel in your car if you want to keep it moving! And many of us have learned the hard way that the gas gauge isn’t always accurate. While it may show that we can go a bit longer without gas, we soon find out that we’ve gone as far as we can go! So what do we do? We make sure we make a pit stop at the gas station so that we can get to our destination!

MARRIAGE MOMENT: Do you know what it takes to really keep your marriage going? Have you and your spouse identified what BOTH of you need in order to keep moving? What do you and your spouse do to add “fuel” to your marriage? Are you trying to use your own feelings to gauge the status of your marriage, while not taking into consideration how your spouse is feeling? When was the last time you and your spouse allowed someone else to share strategies and tips to help you both on your journey? Where is your “pit stop” that you pull into when you need gas for where you and your spouse are headed to next?

As a recap, it is important for the maintenance of our marriages that we:

• Filter out the old “stuff” (issues, disappointments, etc) & pour in new experiences, ideas, and resources so that we can make sure our marriage continues to run smoothly!
• Ensure that we are each distributing the “weight” of the relationship so that one person doesn’t feel used or overworked.
• Keep our marriage fresh by doing and saying the things that makes our spouse feel good and connected!
• Take time to identify what we both need to keep our marriage moving forward. Participate in activities (classes, reading books, counseling, videos, etc) to give you fuel for your journey.

There you have it! As I said, I wonder how many of us (maybe unintentionally) give our vehicles more attention than we do our romance? Maybe you are doing pretty well at the maintenance of your marriage. If so, keep up the good work! If you noticed some areas you can improve, don’t beat yourself up – – – simply commit to doing better starting today!

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