Life, Love, and Family Podcast

RadioYou can find a link to listen to a recent interview I did with Dr. Tim Clinton on Life, Love and Family Radio. We talked about the mother-in-law/daughter-in law dynamic. We also discussed that man in the middle! Take a listen! Deb DeArmond on Life, Life and Family Radio

 

 

Book Update!

Related Cover 1The countdown begins! In just 10 days, my new book, Related By Chance, Family By Choice, will be “officially” released on November 1. But you can find it NOW on Amazon.com – in either Kindle or paperback version.

You can also get a sneak peak at Faith Village, where you will find an excerpt. Click this link: Faith Village

I’d love to hear your thoughts and invite you to post a review on Amazon or comment here!

 

ALL IN THE FAMILY

Tact-is-the-act-ofBy Deb DeArmond

I love this quote. Turns out Isaac Newton was not just a gravity genius. He apparently was a relationship guru as well. Must have come from a big family.

I was raised as an only child; my only sibling was 16 years my senior. By the time I was two, he had gone off to college and never returned to our home state. We grew close only after I grew up. So, as a child, I had my folks all to myself. I never needed to call “shotgun” to ride in the front seat, never had to split the last cookie with a younger sibling and never had the heartbreak that comes with being asked to sacrificially yield the last of the ice cream to another child in the family.

Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? I won’t lie—it was a great life. One I discovered (later in life) my friends envied. But it turns out, there was a dark side.

I never learned to share. Or at least to share graciously.

When required to do so in the midst of a school event or neighborhood pow-wow, I was known to be demanding, bossy and  loud about what I wanted.  Later I learned it was behavior considered immature. Well excuse me! Experience had taught me differently than it had my multi-siblinged comrades.

I eventually developed the ability, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t overnight. And now I wonder how I ever avoided being pushed out, pushed down or simply outcast. Very grateful looking back it hadn’t gone that way.

So now, as a full grown adult, I watch as we all struggle with the urge to “have it our way” even in the relationships that are most important to us in life: in our  marriages, with family members – adult kids, sibling in-laws, aunts, uncles, even grandparents have their preferences. It’s hard not to campaign for the thing you want, even as an adult. It can be tough to set aside your own preference without getting sulky and sullen.

But it’s also not okay to simply let the loudest voice lead. How do you cope? For starters, stop being the loudest, and start being the clearest voice— to bring a sense of peace and order when the conversation begins to give way to self-interest without regard for the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of others.

How do we do it? How do we find a way to have candid open discussion without damaging the people we love the most?

Effective communication skills and using the Word of God as our guideline is a foundation that will stand every time. Here are two Spirit-led reminders, designed to help us walk in love.

  • Prefer one another. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,” Romans 12:10 (NKJV). Putting the interests of another is counter-intuitive to the flesh. Preferring others will always cause people to sit up and take notice, because it’s not how the world does things, so it serves a dual purpose, as it draws attention to our great God.
  • Love does not seek it’s own way. It’s not Burger King, friend. It’s not always going to go as you’d hoped. Set your preference aside and listen, really listen. Be willing to be changed by what you hear. (1 Cor 13)

And remember that the way you say what you say matters. Volume does not equal leadership.

So remember, tact counts. Just ask Isaac. Turns out that apple bonk on the head must have loosed some real Godly insight!

Can You Hear Me Now?

I Told You So!By Deb DeArmond

As a consultant helping others develop and improve communication skills, I am always intrigued by the dynamic between husbands and wives. As a participant in the blessings of matrimony, I’m right there with you.

Have you ever found yourself in a heated exchange with your beloved when suddenly it dawns on you: “We’re not even fighting about the “thing” any more. We’re fighting about the fight.”

“You’re not listening to me!”

“Stop interrupting and let me talk.”

“I just wish you’d stop trying to solve my problems and just hear me out.”

“He thinks he’s helping, but I’d really prefer he just let me vent a little without having to fix it for me.”

Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Does to me, but then I am a woman.

In fairness to my hubby of 38 years, I believe he’s better at this than most men. Ron has often served as a sounding board and he’s quite skilled at asking me the questions that help me arrive at my own solution. And I’m always more committed to the ideas I come up with myself, even if he helped me find my way there.

But it didn’t happen the day I wore the fancy white dress and he wore the tux and bow tie. Nay nay. It’s been a process. We had to learn to express ourselves, to be open about what we need, and to be intentional in staying focused on the thing. You remember the thing, don’t you?

So I thought it might be helpful to share an example of how that might occur. Take a look at this quick mini-movie by clicking on the link below. I think it will all make sense when you see it.

Enjoy!

It’s Not About the Nail

The MIL/DIL Dilemma

Back to BackBy Deb DeArmond

 

I spoke to a young woman recently who told me she was looking forward to my book release in November. Related by Chance, Family by Choice is about transforming the relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. And often, they need transformation. The research for the book indicates the relationship between MILs and DILs is not much better for those of faith than those outside of the church.

“It’s gotten pretty bad,” my young friend told me. “She was the family’s best friend—until the day after she married my brother. Then it was a different story. She makes sure they spend very little time with us. And now that they have a baby, it’s even harder on us.”

It’s not an unusual story. Just last week a colleague shared the story of friends whose son was killed in an auto accident. They were heartbroken. They learned of it when friends living in the same city as the young man and his wife saw it in the local newspaper and called to offer their condolences. His wife, their daughter-in-law, had not bothered to let them know. They attended services, sat in the back of the chapel, and went home as the rest of the family attended a dinner together.

I don’t know the backstory here. Perhaps there had been some bad blood between these family members leading up to this event. But there is no excuse for this behavior – ever – and particularly not for those who follow Christ.

So whose job is it to set things right if they are already bad? What if it’s the other woman who has been the problem all along? As a woman of faith, what does God expect of us in a situation like this one?

Have you experienced it? What’s your take on this? Let us hear from you!

OUR BIG FAMILY VACATION!

big-family-on-vacation1

In less than two weeks, my family, my entire family, three sons, three daughters-in-law, and two grandboys (ages 2 and 5) are headed to the happiest place on earth: Disneyland. And oh, by the way, one of the girls is pregnant.

This will involve a 3-hour plane ride, two rental cars, one rented vacation house—and lots of grace on everyone’s part.

We’ve traveled together before, but the family was much smaller. When I discussed our upcoming plans with a colleague, she looked a bit horrified, and asked, “Why on earth would you do this? Why would you want to do this?”

It’s simple, really. Including my husband, these are my favorite nine people on the planet. But while we are busy creating memories, we want to make certain we are not setting the stage for conflict at the same time. As individuals, we do not lack opinions. Even the little boys who have been looking forward to this for months, have ideas about how we should spend our time. One of our goals is to live together in alignment with our faith in Christ. Even on vacation.

They do call it the Magic Kingdom, the place where dreams can come true. But sometimes fairy Godmothers need a bit of help making that happen. So since we’ve done it before, here are some tips—things we’ve learned on previous trips, about making this work for everyone.

Gather Input. It’s almost natural for the parents to assume they will set the itinerary for the group, and all will come happily along. Remember they are adults and this is their vacation, too. Talk about when, where, and what the group’s interests are. What would we all like to do? What is the meal plan for the days we eat in? Talk about it. Getting everyone to take part in the planning process helps insure there are no unhappy campers later.

Discuss Finances. Since my hubby and I made this trip part of their Christmas present, we are paying for the rental cars and the vacation house. Beyond that, we’ve all agreed each couple is responsible for their own park and attraction admissions and meals out. We will share the cost of items like gas, and stocking the refrigerator. We are willing to “go cheap” and forego fancy restaurants so we can all participate. This allows everyone to budget appropriately in advance, and no one gets caught by surprise.

Establish Expectations. Will your heart be broken if the group doesn’t spend every moment of every day together? Really? Is that much togetherness a good idea? Or is it smart to include some options for each of the couples to spend some alone time? We think so. How will we divide up the responsibility for driving? Is it okay for someone to decide, “I’m going to chill today. You go on without me. I’m going to hang here.” Yes, it’s okay. We’d rather you openly voice your preference than go along and be tired or grumpy all day, asking, “Are we done having fun yet?”

Set Some Ground Rules. Papa and Gigi are not babysitters on demand, but are always happy to plan some time when we get the boys to ourselves. This helps make the couple time possible, too. Everyone helps with making the meals we eat in and cleaning up afterward. A schedule divides the responsibility and it’s clear whose turn it is. There’s no maid service in the house, and this mama is not volunteering. Pick up your towels off the floor and put your dishes in the dishwasher, please. I have a tendency to get overly parental with these issues, and I don’t want to go there. Talking about it openly in advance makes a difference.

Everyone is busy and working, right up until the moment we head out, so email has become our method for communicating this important info, ensuring the vacation gets off to a great start.

So, our plan’s in place. A plan is a good thing, as long as the group is willing to be flexible. We may discover something wonderful we didn’t know was available until we get out there. Don’t adhere so rigidly to the plan that it wrings the joy out of the vacation.

Do I anticipate that all will run like clockwork without a single cross look or moment of annoyance? No, that’s not likely. But, if we are all still on speaking terms at the end of the week, well, that’s proof positive: we are one big well-adjusted happy family!

THE SPEECH HEARD ‘ROUND THE WORLD

AffleckBy Deb DeArmond

“I want to thank you for working on marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good, it is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”

Ben Affleck’s Oscar acceptance speech has been making headlines for three days. Was it seen as sweet? Candid? Authentic?

• “BEN AFFLECK’S OSCAR SPEECH: Can He Recover … At Home??” – TMZ

• “Ben Affleck’s Marriage-Ending Oscar Speech” – College Humor.com

• “Ben Affleck’s Oscar Speech Revealed A Truth About Marriage” – Huffington Post

Really? Being honest is a marriage ender? Ben Affleck “revealed a truth?” Perhaps he voiced it on one of the world’s largest stages to an audience of millions. But I bet Ben’s candor created a lot of head nodding around the globe.

If you have a successful, healthy marriage you already knew that it’s not luck or even love alone.. Affleck was the apostle of what has been obvious to many of us for a very long time. Marriage is hard work

It is naïve to believe that strong marriages (especially Christian marriages) never encounter difficulty or conflict. Creating one life together from two individuals, each with their own ideas, experiences, dreams and goals is not easy. We must find ways to be candid and open in expressing our differences in order to deal with conflict in a way that develops the relationship, rather than destroy it. The work begins.

Many of us don’t like to trouble the water. If we have conflict, we may feel we’ve been “unspiritual” or that God is displeased. It doesn’t have to be so. “I don’t want to argue about it,” sounds good at first blush. But for many, that statement really means, “I am not willing to talk about it,” and the silent treatment is applied. The impact of hurt and anger when avoidance becomes the path to peace is devastating.

Dealing with conflict in a healthy way and learning to express it in a manner that aligns with scripture actually allows the couple to develop a relationship of genuine understanding and intimacy. Hard work.

The Lord is not surprised we disagree or that it sometimes leads to anger. He admonishes us “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,” (Eph. 4:26 NIV). God encourages us to deal with our anger, not ignore it. Yet many marrieds avoid addressing issues head on, hoping things will get better on their own or that the other party will simply give up and give in.

Couples who explore emotionally healthy and spiritually sound methods to deal with conflict and express disagreement are rewarded with openness, engagement and transparency in marriage. The work continues.

Had I been in the audience at the Oscars, I would have jumped to my feet, cheering Ben on. He is one smart man. He’s dodged the Hollywood bullet of the disposable marriage or parading a pretense that life is perfect. He’s also fortunate, to have a partner in the process—his wife Jennifer Garner, who’s willing to work with him. “There’s no one I’d rather work with,” his closing remark.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves. There’s work to be done!

Day 29 – Cliché a Day: Fair Weather Friend

By Deb DeArmond

I have been blessed in life with good friends. Some I’ve known since we were kids. Some were added to my life in the last few years since our move to Texas. But there are some friends that are special indeed. You know the kind – the ones that stick with you through the storms of life.

God joined my heart seven years ago with a fellow former Californian whom I met at church. We are more different than we are alike, aside from the fact that we both love Jesus and both consider our families among our greatest gifts from the Lord. Our children are all grown and we are both grandmothers. Aside from that – soooo very different. And it’s the strength of our relationship.

The Word of God tells us “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend,” Proverbs 27:17 (NLT). What exactly does that mean?

This proverb deals with the character of a man or woman – a very precious thing indeed. Character is by far the most important measure of an individual. The proverb promotes noble friends – they will make you better (Proverbs 27:9). A good friend will make you brighter, sharper, and more useful. But not any friend will do. Only wise friends make you wiser (Proverbs 13:20) Weak and foolish men will dull and corrupt your life (Proverbs 13:20 and 1 Corinthians 15:33).

My sweet friend will pray for me regardless of the time I might call, day or night. We have shared our joys, our disappointments, our failures, and our dreams. We have confessed our faults to one another without the fear of judgment. What a wonderful gift! We have dealt with challenges together, addressing issues of concern. We joke that we must work together as she brings mercy and I bring truth. Mercy alone might make a nice conversation, and truth without mercy tends to ruffle folks’ feathers. Together we are the full package. She has been a great cheerleader for the things God has placed on my plate, and I am her true fan. I am blessed by her friendship and believe she feels the same.

Two are better than one, Solomon taught, because they sharpen and improve each other in at least four ways They can share successes of labor together, help each other up when they fall, combine complementary abilities for greater accomplishments, and defend against mutual enemies. A good friend is a great blessing! (See Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Have you such a friend? Are you such a friend? One that contributes to the life of another? One who stands shoulder to shoulder in every kind of weather?