Yes, I have a New Year’s Resolution!

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Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
Abraham Lincoln

This year I decided to make a New Years resolution. What harm could it do? Well, my mind replied, “It could lead to injured pride.”

I ignored the threat and moved on. So, what resolution? Lose weight, cut back on caffeine, exercise? All of these would be good. Wouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t benefit from having a really healthy body? I certainly would. But, the next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I woke up with a new thought, “You really need to grow up.” It was a little shocking, but true. (Have you ever had a shocking realization about yourself?) I do need to grow up. I don’t mean physically although that would be nice; I mean emotionally. It really is time for me to be more accepting of what is – of things as they are.

Now this wasn’t a new revelation. It’s just that I really wish people made decisions my way – in the world, in our country, at work and at church. (Perhaps you have similar feelings.) Sometimes I find myself having conversations in my head with people from work or from my church explaining how things need to be and they’re listening attentively. But, then another part of me says, “Are you out of your mind? That’s not happening.” That brings me back to reality. Just like me, other people have the power and the right to make their own decisions. My wishing for a different world, and my complaining, changes nothing. I know that, but I still whine and complain.

There are, of course, things that I can do – give to charities, vote, and make suggestions. But, wars will still rage and people will still make what I see as stupid decisions. So, what’s left? Of course, one option is still open – complain to who ever will listen. For example, “I would have done it this way, etc.” But, do I really want to be an armchair critic?

As I reflected I sensed that it was time for me to put focus on a project that I have control of. No more focusing on other people’s work. Man up, focus on my own project and do it as well as I possibly can. No more excuses; get help where it’s needed and do my best. Nothing ventured nothing gained kind of thing. If it’s done poorly or stupidly I’m in control. Change it. Take control. I can get help if I get discouraged. It’s time to stop making excuses for myself.

Of course the down side of taking control is the possibility of failure. I might make a really unfortunate (translate stupid) decision. What would people say about me? Well, most likely, what I’ve said about them. Actually, I’ve gone through a business failure. It was humiliating and depressing and I seriously looked for someone else to blame. But, did I survive? Yes. Did I learn something? Yes. Well then, my mind seemed to tell me, “It’s time to suit up and really get into the game. See what you can do if you single-mindedly focus your energy on it.” I hesitated. Actually, I like control and success; not control and the possibility of failure. But, yes, people do say that failure gives you the experience you sometimes need in order to be successful. That’s fine for others to say; but it’s hard for me to accept. However, it seems to be the truth and I’m working to accept it.

I made my New Years resolution. My 2016 resolution is to focus on writing and photography and see what happens. How successful will I be? I don’t know. But, it does seem like an adventure and it should be more rewarding than complaining. I think my wife will be pleased.

You too may have have made a New Year’s resolution. If not you might consider it. It could be fun. What could you do that might make 2016 an improvement over 2015? You might find the effort rewarding. And, you might find yourself with a grateful partner. It might be worth a thought.

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Forty-eight Years of Commitment – And Still Going

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9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm [alone]? 12 And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4 ASV, The Bible

Commitments are a big deal. I was concerned about commitment right before I married my wife. I really wanted to be with my fiancee. Still a lifelong commitment is a daunting one.

My fiancee and I belonged to the same Christian denomination. Neither of us had close relatives who were divorced. The members of our churches seemed to stay together for life. They all kept their marriage vows – together for better or worse; no other sexual partners; till death do you part. And, they seemed to be okay with their arrangement. That was encouraging.
Our vows were spoken in front of relatives, friends, and church members. We were part of their group; they expected us to keep our vows to each other and to God.

In June, we’ll celebrate 48 years of marriage. We kept our commitment to God and to each other. We stayed with our denomination. We’re still active members of our church. I’m grateful we’ve worked out our differences and accepted each other’s imperfections. We’ve benefited from our arrangement. We have –

1. An agreed upon moral/ethical code. Our moral and ethical code is a time honored one prescribed by our religious group. We have both agreed to abide by it. As a result, we didn’t have to create something new.

2. Emotional security. I don’t have to compete with other men; she doesn’t have to compete with other women. We’re not looking for somebody better.

3. Affection and sex. They’re readily available. We don’t have to hunt for a lover.

4. No worries about sexually transmitted diseases. It’s a closed sexual system.

5. Physical security. Someone’s there if you’re sick, disabled, or just need help with the computer.

6. Good memories. A lifetime of photo’s and memories of being together and being with our children.

7. Secure children. Our children, and grandchildren, are wanted and have security. They don’t have to worry about their family dissolving and their home disappearing. It’s not mom’s place or dad’s place? It’s mom and dad’s place.

8. Energy to put into the community. Security issues, companionship issues, and “where do I belong issues” are resolved. Energy can be directed other places.

9. The support of our church. Our government is less likely to need to take care of us because we have the support of each other and our church.

10. A place to socialize and contribute. The same religion has united us and given us a place, our church community, to socialize and contribute.

I’m glad that I made commitments to my wife, God, and my religious community. My wife and I have benefited and so have our children and the community. Making a clear commitment and keeping the commitment is necessary for the well-being of any venture. Why should building a home and a family be any different? It’s something to think about.

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Think About Coming Home

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Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home. Mother Teresa

I will forever associate home with my wife’s parents and their spirit of hospitality, graciousness, and generosity. It was the epitome of a warm and loving home. Good company, good humor, and delectable food. It was a place where we could relax. They’re gone but their descendants still take gracious interest in each other and support each other. My wife and I have worked to provide the same kind of atmosphere in our home.

So what are the characteristic of a home that will allow us to thrive? Here are some that I think are important –

Safety. I can relax here because I’m physically and emotionally safe. I am safe to be around.

Intimacy. I belong here. I’m listened to; I have influence. My thoughts and feelings matter. I listen to and give my partner and children influence. I can be emotionally close to them and them to me.

Communication. I can hear and be heard with a spirit of honesty, kindness and generosity. I can hear and be heard without fear of ridicule.

Fruitfulness. I can develop my abilities and interests; I can experiment, fail, and learn. I support my partner and children as they develop their interests and abilities.

Ecstasy/joy. My family and I can find joy in people, pets, nature, projects, and privacy.

Neighborliness. My family and I honor the needs of others in the community and we accept the support of others.

I believe the above characteristics can help me have a home like my in-laws. A home that exudes a spirit of hospitality, graciousness, and generosity. That’s very important to me.

Think about these characteristics; talk about them with others. Perhaps you could send the post to a friend and see what he/she thinks. A good home is worth working for.

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We’re Already a Couple. You Really Want to Get Married?

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A wise person decides slowly but abides by these decisions. Arthur Ashe

Are you willing to go from “I” to “we?” I know, it’s a big decision. While most people say they would prefer marriage, the number of singles continues to rise. Being a couple and getting married probably seems risky if you’re single.

This article is about how to decrease your risk and increase your odds of having a loving, stable, marriage, and home. Marriage research is looking at what the risk factors are and have found these risk factors –

1. Many sexual partners.
2. Living with a partner before marriage.
3. Few guests at a marriage.

You might think that sexual experiences and living with someone prepare us for marriage. But, finding someone you can commit to, committing to them in marriage, and doing it in a ceremony before a family and friends seems to build a good foundation for a home.

Now, you may find this discouraging and/or unbelievable. Take time to check the research on this site and on the rest of the internet. Let me know if I’m not looking at things correctly. I’ll be glad to read what you send me.

I advise you, and anyone you partner with, to think through how past decisions may have affected your relationships. Think about it. How has your past changed you and how has your partner’s past changed him/her? The two of you can learn from all of your experiences.

As you review the past and think about the future, do you sense that you’re ready to move from a focus on “me” to a focus on “we.” Even though you feel in love, it’s still important to consciously decide whether you’re willing to allow yourself to be physically and emotionally coupled to another person. Are you willing to share your life with another person when it includes your energy, your time, your money, and your sexual experiences?

Both of you can do what you like when you’re single. Being coupled means your spouse has a legitimate claim on your body, energy, time, and money. Your partner is naturally interested in where you want to live, the hours you work, your rules for child-rearing, and how you spend and save your money.

Keep in mind that walking hand-in-hand with your partner does not mean losing your identity. The two of you can allow a healthy separation that respects your own values, personal interests, and abilities. You can pursue your own interests and your own friends. The way you pursue them does need to be supportive of your relationship with your partner.

The relationships that seem do well are those in which both partners have freely decided that they want to be with their partner. They’ve moved beyond consumer relationships and leaving the door open for a trade later on. They’ve stopped looking for someone better, made a commitment to their partner, and married. They’ve shut the door on other sexual relationships.

Are you ready to commit to a partner and live as a couple? Are you willing to go from “I” to “we”? Are you willing to make the necessary tradeoffs? Commitment provides a strong foundation on which to build a home. Are you willing to make one to your partner and in front of others? Is your partner ready to make this commitment?

Keeping in mind the three risk factors, take the time to learn how to be a great partner, find a great partner, and form a relationship that can evolve into a commitment and a marriage. Learn what you need to learn so that you can have the results you desire.

The next article builds on this one. We’ll begin with commitment and move on to what a delightful home consists of. Stick with me on this one; you’ll be glad you did.

Share the article with your family and friends. Look at the articles and websites on the blog. Establishing a great relationship and marriage and a secure, warm home are important.