Why Gratitude is Crucial for Your Marriage

“Then we sat on the edge of the earth, feet dangling over the side, and marvelled that we’d found each other” – Unknown

The LOVE experience cycles through many different phases. After the butterflies settle down, LOVE is said to be more of a verb than a feeling.  Going into marriage, LOVE needs to be a verb, or action, with each partner accepting 100% responsibility for making the marriage work and thrive. Today, we will discuss the important ingredient in any healthy marriage: a spirit of gratitude.

Count Your Joys

gratitudeWe all lead busy lives and often get caught up in the day to day challenges and negative thinking which can rob us of our joy. Awesome things are happening to you, all the time, every day, even in between all the bad and stressful things that happen. Yet, when explaining your day, you often come home and tell your husband about how someone cut you off in traffic, how terrible your coffee was, or how payroll stuffed up this week’s pay! It’s natural to gravitate towards negative thoughts because, of the 60,000 thoughts a day we have, 80% of them are negative. And what’s worse is that 80% of the thoughts we have each day are thoughts we’ve had before; meaning only 20% of them are new thoughts. So as human beings, we’re hard-wired to have automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and the same problems over and over.

Keeping a Gratitude Diary or Jar

Write down 3 awesome things that happened to you each day in your diary or place them into a glass jar. It may be as simple as: getting all the green lights when driving home from work, really enjoying the lunch you had today, or that your husband cooked you dinner. Be sure to include lots of things about your husband Gratitude makes sense of our pastwhat you’re grateful for because it will begin to cultivate appreciation in your relationship. And as much as we fall in love with Mr Perfect, we sometimes learn of his idiosyncrasies and faults in marriage that we were previously blind too. Rather than amplifying all of his flaws, instead amplify his strengths and attributes by writing these things down in your gratitude diary. Remember, your thoughts become your actions.

Note: Make a tradition at Christmas or New Years to look back on all of the good things that have happened to you by reading your gratitude diary or your gratitude jar. And, when times seem hopeless, these can help you remember WHY you love him. Believe me, you’ll feel loads of warm fuzzies.

Transformation Task

Start a gratitude diary or jar. Even invite your husband to contribute.

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“Falling in love requires a pulse, staying in love requires a plan” – Andy Stanley

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‘In-to-me-see’: The Secret to Creating an Intimate Marriage

In order to create an exciting, active and healthy sex life in marriage, the first key ingredient is intimacy! During the Bridalicious Bootcamp, you’re encouraged to fall in love with yourself which is essential for you to create a true feeling of closeness and affection with your husband-to-be. As part of your marriage preparation, read this blog to learn about the definition of intimacy and how you can build a truly intimate marriage.

What is Intimacy?

intimacyAccording to Dictionary.com intimacy is defined as “showing a close union or combination of particles or elements: an intimate mixture. A close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group”.

A friend once shared with me a memorable phrase that intimacy truly means ‘in-to-me-see’. It’s a marriage of your heart with someone else’s heart so you can see into who they really are and so they can see who you really are.

“Intimacy means in-to-me-see”

Intimacy is so much more than just sex and can also involve connecting with someone in an emotional, intellectual and/or spiritual way. As husband and wife, the sexual part of your relationship is only way one to express intimacy and if you foster these other types of intimacy in your relationship, sex will be a natural expression of that.

Real Intimacy Begins with You

With your wedding day nearing it’s only natural to wonder how you’re going to build a truly intimate relationship with your soon-to-be husband. Real intimacy can only begin once you really know yourself. Your engagement period is the perfect opportunity to learn more about who you are, your fears, dreams, hopes and desires. Once you’ve connected with your own heart, you’ll be able to let your husband in to see who you really are too.

Connecting with someone in anMarital intimacy involves being honest and vulnerable with your spouse. It involves giving yourself fully to your partner, trusting them not to hurt you and sharing your happiness, frustrations, sadness and even anger with one another. The new level of intimacy that’s available to you on the other side of your wedding vows is such a beautiful thing! Foster it and enjoy the special relationship that only you and your husband can enjoy.

Transformation Task

Remember that intimacy means ‘in-to-me-see’ and let your new husband look at and experience the REAL you on your honeymoon and into your marriage.

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The Secret to Creating a Happy Marriage: Unconditional Love!

No man is an island! As humans, our happiness and well-being flourish from loving and being loved. The relationships and support networks that we’re part of hugely impact our health and quality of life! A healthy, happy marriage is built by two individuals with healthy minds, bodies, hearts and spirits. If you’re about to walk down the aisle, you might be thinking about how you’re going to do this whole marriage thing when so many seem to end in divorce. If so, it’s an awesome first step and in this blog I’m going to share with you how giving unconditional love will prepare you for a long-lasting and fulfilling marriage.

happy marriageUnconditional Love

All too often these days, we’re used to the idea of doing something to get something in return. Unconditional giving, without thinking about what’s in it for you, has the power to transform your heart and put more love, kindness and gratitude out into the world! We’re wired to be happier when we have fulfilling relationships and giving without the promise of receiving anything back is key to creating that. Have you ever been SO excited to give a present to someone you’ve carefully picked out? Have you randomly helped a stranger out and had the ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling follow you around for the rest of the day? That is the power of giving!

The relationships that you and your husband have with your friends and family have the power to positively influence your life as a married couple. Taking time to foster these relationships and give to the people you love will keep your mind, heart and spirit healthy, while nurturing a strong, lasting and happy marriage.

Anything that promotes a sense of love and intimacyThe 80:10:10 Rule

You’ve heard of the 80:20 principle, but the 80:10:10 rule is a great way to foster a heart of generosity when it comes to your finances. 80% of your income is used to live off of, 10% is a minimum target to save and the other 10% can be given to those in need or used for you to help others. Not only will you make a significant impact on the causes you support, but it’ll create a feeling of kindness, purpose and love in you.

Transformation Task

Perform one random act of kindness this week and watch this TED talk about how happiness can make you work better.

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“Anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering. Anything that promotes a sense of love and intimacy, connection and community, is healing” – Dr Dean Ornish

3 Ideas to LOVE Your Friends and Family on Your Wedding Day

While your wedding day is all about you and your fiancé, it might be the one and only time that you’ll have ALL the people you love in the same place, at the same time. It’s a great opportunity to turn the typical expectation of a wedding on its head and LOVE on your friends and family instead! Being grateful to the people who have shaped your life on this milestone day will help to remind you why you’re here in the first place and allow you to keep your bridechilla when little things do go wrong. For those of you who don’t feel comfortable in the spotlight, it’s also a great way to take a bit of pressure off yourself while you create a loving and happy wedding atmosphere! Here’s a few ways to make your friends and family feel special and celebrated on your wedding day:

At Your Hens Party

You’ll be the object of your Hens night games, laughter and taunting but a fun way to show your friends how special they are to you is to make a game yourself! Share a fun, special, adventurous or embarrassing memory that you made with each of your best girls. It’s a great way to get everyone chatting and them feel nostalgic.

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed” – Khalil Gibran

On Your Wedding Day

Write a note for each of your bridesmaids, your fiancé and parents telling them why they mean so much to you, what you’re grateful for and how you see your relationship in your married future. Give it to them on the morning of the wedding to create a positive, happy and loving atmosphere.

After The Wedding

wedding dayInstead of writing generic thank you cards for all of your guests, have some fun with your new husband by recording personal video messages to email to everyone! Personalise it, make it fun and use it to set a date to catch up with as a married couple. Make sure you include:

  • Thanking them for sharing your special day;
  • Telling them why you love them and what it meant to have them at your wedding;
  • Sharing a funny or special memory of them at your wedding;
  • Thanking them for their gift; and
  • Telling them that you’re looking forward to seeing them soon!

Try to record the videos or at least make some notes in the few days after your wedding so it’s easier to remember all of the details. You could even film on your honeymoon at the airport, on the plane or while you’re relaxing on the beach.

Write a message to give to your bridesmaids, partner and parents on the morning of the wedding.

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“If I’ve learnt anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, and don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together” – John Katz

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The Dark Side of Weddings and How Forgiveness Can Help

I’m sure you’ll agree, planning your wedding is a huge task! It’s something that’s best done with the help of your friends and family but as the day approaches, emotions often build up and it can be super stressful! Everyone wants to help to create the ‘perfect day’ but when everyone’s got different opinions, expectations and priorities, relationships can be strained at best. As the bride YOU and your husband to be, are at the center of it all and taking the time to foster your closest relationships will make ALL the difference to how much you LOVE your wedding day.

It’s totally normal that with the pressure of a wedding and the huge life change that you’re about to make, emotions do run hot! Sometimes it’s just a result of circumstances, but more often than not, there’s unresolved feelings about past hurt, rejection, jealousy, disapproval or betrayal that are actually causing a problem. These emotions have such a strong effect on the body and can totally steal your bridal joy! To be able to love freely, abundantly and unconditionally you’ll often need to let go and forgive your loved ones for past hurt. Doing so will help you to lighten the load and make your wedding preparation fun and happy again!

Your Two Options – Handcuffs or Forgiveness

forgivenessWhen you’re dealing with bitterness, resentment or anger you’ve only got two options; you can either hold on to it or let it go. By holding on to unhealthy emotions your bodies ‘fight or flight’ response is activated, increasing your stress hormones, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and body temperature. We feel negative emotions 4-10 times stronger than we feel positive ones so it is only natural that it is hard to let go but by holding on, you’re only handcuffing yourself to the person you blame.

The other option you have is to forgive and let go of the experience that’s causing you so much pain so that you can move on without dragging it around with you. It doesn’t make the past ‘right’ or let someone ‘get away’ with having done something hurtful but it lets YOU feel better. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling but a deliberate choice.

How to Let Go

Forgetting a painful event is almost impossible. The best thing that you can do to help you to forgive someone is to ‘re-frame’ it by focusing on the facts from both perspectives. This should help you to understand the situation the person who hurt you was in when it happened and it might even make you realise that you did something wrong too. Holding on to bitterness, resentment or angerNo one’s perfect and looking at the situation from the other person’s perspective allows you to judge them less harshly. If you can rewrite your story of the event without the blame and emotional intensity that it used to have, then you’ll be able to enjoy having the weight lifted off your shoulders. You’ll be able to get on with living the life that you love and planning for a magnificent and happy marriage!

Transformation Task

Choose a painful event that’s responsible for making your relationship with someone strained. Think about how you could re-frame what happened to forgive them and see what happens.

“Our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of the events themselves” – Wilhelm von Humbold

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The 5 Love Languages and Why Every Bride to Be Should Use Them

As a bride-to-be, I’m sure you’ll agree that falling in love is easy! It’s the staying in love that requires a daily, lifelong commitment. As you prepare for your wedding day I want to share with you the 5 love languages and how you can use them to create a fulfilling, healthy and sustainable romantic relationship.

The 5 Love Languages

The 5 languages of love are all ways that we can show and be shown love. They include:

  1. love languagesWords of affirmation
  2. Acts of service
  3. Receiving gifts
  4. Quality time
  5. Physical touch

We naturally try to show our love for others by speaking our own love language but if the person we love doesn’t speak the same language, they may not recognise your action as a sign of your love. Learning to speak your partners love language is a powerful tool to help you to create a strong and lasting marriage where you both feel truly loved.

How to Discover Your Love Language

“Love can be expressed and received in all 5 languages – words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time and receiving gifts. However, if you don’t speak a person’s primary love language, that person will not feel loved, even though you may be speaking the other four” ― Gary Chapman

Finding out what love language you feel the most is the first step to understanding your own behaviour a little better. Most people will identify with more than one love language but these three steps will help you to discover what makes you feel the love:

  1. How do you normally show people that you love them?

  2. What do you often complain about?

    If you find yourself wishing that your fiancé would buy you flowers, then you feel loved when you receive a gift. If you feel like you never spend enough quality time together then time is important to you.

  3. What do you request most often? Are you always asking for a massage?

    If so, physical touch is one of your love languages. If you’re asking for feedback on how if you’ve done a good job then words of affirmation speak strongly to you.

Once you are speaking his or her primary love languageOnce you know the love languages that work for both you and your partner you can use these to express your love in a way that they will readily receive! You may even be able to appreciate something that your partner does more because you can see that they were using their love language to try to do something nice for you.

Transformation Task

Discover your love language is by completing this quiz. Have your partner do the same and then do one thing for them that shows your love in their own language.

Once you are speaking his or her primary love language fluently, then you can sprinkle in the other four and they will be like icing on the cake.” ― Gary Chapman

5. Love Languages Quiz

10 Questions to Ask Your Fiancé BEFORE Your Wedding Day!

The time from your engagement to your wedding day it is a pretty busy and exciting time! With so much to think plan for the big day it is very easy to get swept away and forget exactly why you are planning this huge celebration! The shiny ring, a stunningly perfect dress and making sure that all of your friends and family have a great time are definitely important but don’t forget to prepare for married life AFTER your wedding.

10 questionsYou are making a lifelong commitment and it is essential as part of your marriage preparation to take some time BEFORE your wedding to make sure that you know all the details about your fiancé! Don’t be afraid to talk to him about the big stuff because being clear about both of your expectations and dreams will form the foundation for a happy marriage.

You may have things you want to ask, but these 10 questions will get you started:

  1. Chores –

    Who will be responsible for house cleaning and maintenance? What are your different needs in terms of cleanliness and organisation?

  2. Income –

    How much money do you earn together? Now? In one year? In five years? Ten?

  3. Financial Goals –

    What is your combined ultimate financial goal regarding annual income? When is it reasonable to have achieved it by? How will you achieve it as a couple?

  4. Work Hours –

    How much time do each of you spend at work and during what hours? How much time do you have to spend together outside of work?

  5. Food –

    Who is responsible for cooking? Food shopping? Cleaning up afterwards? Which meal times will you be able to eat together?

  6. Health –

    Are you happy with each other’s approach to health? Does one of you have habits or tendencies that concern the other e.g. smoking, excessive dieting, poor diet?

  7. Family –

    What part do your respective families play in your life as a couple? How often do you visit each family and socialise together?Communication is to a relationship like oxygen

  8. Children –

    Do you want children? If so, when? How many? How important is having kids to each of you? How will having a child change your life individually and as a couple? Will either of you want to take time off from work or work fewer hours to look after kids? For how long? How will having kids change your financial position? Will current roles about housekeeping, cooking, etc. need to change after having kids?

  9. Friendships –

    What are your needs and expectations regarding cultivating and maintaining friends outside of the relationship? Do these individual needs bother either of you?

  10. Religion –

    Do you share a religion or a faith? Do you belong to a church, synagogue, mosque or temple? If your religious beliefs aren’t shared, how does this impact your relationship? How will this impact the raising of your kids?

Transformation Task

Schedule a 1-2 hour coffee date for you and your fiancé to take some time out, work through this list of 10 questions and prepare yourselves for an amazing marriage!

Want more of this juicy love stuff? Join Bridalicious Bootcamp to enjoy a program that not only covers the diet and exercise stuff, but also head and heart stuff.

“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life, without it…it dies” — Tony Gaskins

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Don’t Make The 50:50 Marriage Mistake!

“Marriage is not 50:50. Divorce is 50:50. Marriage has to be 100:100. It isn’t dividing everything in half, but giving everything you’ve got!” — Dave Willis

Whether people realise it or not, marriage is often entered into like it’s a 50:50 thing. Compromises are made and responsibilities are split so that the husband and wife can meet in the middle. On the surface it seems fair, but fair isn’t a word in the adult dictionary and relationships that are built on conditions often lead to unhappiness, regret and resentment. To create a successful long-term, happy marriage it needs to be 100:100!

happy marriageIf you’re working in a team of five people, do you each give just 20% to make up the full team? If you care about doing a good job then hopefully you will give it ALL of what you’ve got! Plus, you’d expect your teammates to each give their 100% so that together you’re unstoppable!

Marriage is the same! You need to put your whole, authentic self into the relationship because doing half of anything is simply subjective. The ‘I’ve done this for him so I’ll just wait until he does this for me’ attitude will always fail and leave you less than satisfied!

50% is always half! Standing beside someone who is also giving half just makes two half people. Whether they are half-full or half-empty doesn’t even matter.

Have a think about these differences as you prepare for your wedding day:

  • In a 50:50 marriage couples get into the habit of keeping score but in a 100:100 marriage they stop counting and know that it’ll never add up perfectly!
  • In a 50:50 marriage we are focused on protecting our own portion whereas in a 100:100 marriage individuals are focused on trying to bless the other
  • In a 50:50 marriage we think that our spouse owns us their half of the bargain but in a 100:100 marriage we can be focused on giving rather than receiving loveLove isn't a currency that should be equally exchanged
  • A 50:50 marriage is restricted by conditions but a 100:100 marriage is filled with unconditional love
  • In 50:50 marriages love is a currency that should be equally exchanged between two people but in a 100:100 marriage love is a gift

When you start loving and giving your spouse 100%, your spouse will be inspired to return your love, creating an upward, growing cycle! If you are authentically giving your all you will be able to recognise when someone else is not and be able to address the inauthenticity in your relationship. Giving and receiving love is the way to nurture an extraordinary, fulfilling and happy marriage!

Transformation Task

Make a commitment to giving 100% love to your fiancé and as part of your marriage preparation, do at least one ‘all-in’ action today!

Complete the 5 Love Languages Quiz to learn what packs the biggest love punch for both you and your fiance.

“Scholars, theologians, and even poets have yet to be able to truly describe and touch upon the beauty, romance, and magic of a relationship built on 100% authenticity” — Steve Marabol

5. Love Languages Quiz

LOVE HIM…Even When it’s Tough

So many dreams of happy marriages get shattered when the realities of life set in. Whether it’s unpaid bills, crying babies, a job loss, or relocation, life throws curve balls that will test your relationship. Many of these struggles can be avoided when couples take the time to prepare for marriage just as they do with study, careers, and parenting.

The First Stage of Love: Lust

Lust is driven by the hormones estrogen and testosterone and is largely related to a physical attraction to your partner. Lust can be fleeting and uses only primal feelings.

The Second Stage of Love:  Romantic Love

Love is patient, love is kindRomantic Love is driven by the hormone serotonin and it both exhilarates and motivates us. In this stage of love, which generally lasts 2 years, you may not be able to relate to comments like “marriage is hard work,” “you really have to work at your marriage,” or even “falling in love requires a pulse, staying in love requires a plan”. You expend energy, effort and finances doing things for your partner, but it’s second nature and you desire to make your spouse happy. However, when a couple comes down off this emotional high, there’s often confusion about the other person and about the relationship in general.

The Third Stage of Love: Bonding Love

Bonding Love is driven by the hormone oxytocin which allows you to feel attachment and commitment to someone, but without the ‘butterflies’. Once the first 2 stages of love have passed, the “work” part of marriage or your relationship begins. It doesn’t mean the marriage or relationship is wrong, doomed, or over.  As with any task, working together to make a marriage last forever can be rewarding—the most rewarding work in which a couple can engage.  When you find yourself in the stage of bonding love, don’t give up if things get hard or you find that things you used to think were cute about your spouse now drive you crazy. It’s normal. I promise. But, making the commitment to continually work on your marriage will help you more than you know.Immature love says

One way to keep the spark and friendship in your marriage is to invest in regular ‘date nights’ or ‘date days’ for that matter. Dedicating time to invest in your relationship amidst the busyness of life, both with wedding planning and once in married, is vitally important. The primary purpose of dating is to get to know each other. Just because you are married now, doesn’t mean that you can stop dating your spouse! Even if you are “in love,” every couple needs to examine the intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and physical characteristics that you share (or don’t share). You started your relationship by dating and having fun together so you need to continue it in your marriage.

Transformation Task

Get a piece of paper and write down 4 date ideas each including the idea, location and cost. Then throw them into a hat and select 1 each week on a Sunday to fulfil that week and all the way up to the wedding day. Do this beyond the wedding too as it keeps marriage FUN.

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You are NOT Broken. You’re Beautiful!

This concept of LOVING YOU requires you to go deep, like real deep. You need a new, deeper level of thinking—a paradigm shift has to happen based on the key principles of a healthy lifestyle. “Inside-out” means to start first with YOU. Even more fundamentally, you start with the most inside parts of YOU—the deepest areas of your character and your motives. There’s an old saying, Your life is a sacred journey“Be the type of person you’d want to be around.” Be patient, kind, generous and loving. These basic qualities will eventually radiate naturally from you. In turn, you will reap the benefits of inner transformation such as a happy marriage, fulfilling friendships, and maybe even more opportunities in your career. If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy. If you want a healthy body, be committed and consistent with healthy eating and fitness. You can only expect to reap what you sew into your own life.

In order to whole-heartedly LOVE YOU it is so important to understand that you don’t have to FIX YOU. You are not broken. You’re beautiful. We are all uniquely beautiful in our imperfectness. Your transformation will come by removing what didn’t belong there in the first place – the shadows that block the authentic YOU from shining through. So often we forget that there’s something perfect already within us and we automatically look outside ourselves for something that will “fix us”. If we simply soften our heart and reconnect with our values and what kind of person we want to be, everything else tends to fade away into the background. As gold purified in a furnaceWhat an amazing feeling it is to be fully at peace with YOU! When you accept that you are amazing and stop trying to “fix” what’s not broken, a self realization happens that is a beautiful thing.
We can remove the shadows from our minds through meditation or prayer. By quieting our minds it forces us to turn inward and find that place of deep knowing and spiritual understanding. There is a calm and clarity that lives inside us; we just have to find it. It’s always been there, but its often ignored in our fast paced Western culture. On a cloudy day the sun is not absent it is just blocked by the clouds. Just like you, your sunshine is not absent and sometimes meditation helps to melt away the clouds to let truth and self LOVE shine through.

Transformation Task

Meditate for 10 minutes this week. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted and just BE. Don’t DO, just BE. Maybe lay out a yoga mat (or soft blanket), close your eyes, and focus on your breath. If you need help check out the FREE guided meditations at www.Headspace.com.

Or if you’d prefer to try Movement Meditation claim my 2 free Yoga Flow videos. Download here.