Category Archives: Marriage

Acknowledging Mom by Gregory Bland

mothers-day-gregory-bland

Acknowledging MOM’s value should take place each and every day. However,  Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to highlight the Mom’s in our lives.

Finding ways to show respect, appreciation, and express love for Mom not only impacts her positively, but helps our children and teens develop an attitude of gratitude for their Mom that can last a lifetime.

Communicating love and respect daily, or on Mother’s Day, isn’t simply a matter taking mom out to an expensive restaurant.  That may be nice, but more often than not, that isn’t really what she’s looking for.

Taking time to be mindful of what would be most meaningful for Mom will make the most powerful impact upon her.

As you think about Mother’s Day and honouring the Mom in your life consider what would make ‘her’ day memorable.

Some things to consider . . .
What are her hobbies and interests?
Time carved out to include an activity that involves her interests or hobbies communicates your love while providing an opportunity to disconnect from other activities / or devices and intentionally connect with her.

What is Mom’s personality?  How does her unique personality impact the way you will show appreciation?  Should you encourage a large crowd or would she prefer a more intimate smaller gathering?  Will she enjoy something loud and boisterous or more quiet and reflective?  Let Mom’s personality help you in shaping how you will communicate your love to her.

What’s Mom’s  “love language” and how can you tie your gifts to it?
(If you’re familiar with 5 Love Languages it may be more natural to think in these terms.  If you’re not familiar, the 5 Love Languages  are, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, physical touch)

Practical Ideas for Expressing Love to Mom:
Words of Affirmation: In our family we have taken time to write notes/letters to mom which have proven to be very meaningful for her.  Our letters and notes will revolve around these three topics . . .
a. What do I most appreciate about Mom?
b. What character strengths do I recognize and affirm?
c. This is why I love you . . .

Acts of Service:
Taking the opportunity to give mom a break and take on specific chores or work that Mom normally cares for is a wonderful gift idea.  See Coupon Book idea at end of article for more information.

Receiving Gifts:
If Mom’s love language is receiving gifts, by all means buy a gift, but ensure it is something meaningful for her.

Quality Time:
Quality time cannot be fabricated, however, there are some key ingredients to ensure you have quality time.

  • Quality time often happens within the context of quantity time.  In light of this, I’d encourage scheduling regular times together, without distraction, as a normal part of your week.  You will soon discover that your time together becomes more meaningful and the quality, depth of conversation, and connection improves.
  • Set aside personal desires and preferences in honour of Mom.  It’s does your relationship well to set aside personal desires and honour one another by ‘doing’ something that Mom enjoys.  You will discover over time that this is often reciprocated. In short, resist the temptation to only do what you want to do.
  • Add variety. Sitting in the living room and having a deep conversation is great, once in a while. But don’t expect that every-time.  Add variety and keep the relationship alive and fresh.

Physical Touch:
In our age of electronics and disconnection physical touch is increasingly powerful and seemingly rare.  Encourage your children to give hugs (it’s good for them too), back massages, and if they are brave foot rubs are ok too.

Giving to Mom.
To foster this kind of giving to Mom you could encourage your children to create a coupon book that focuses on the love languages specific to her.

Creating a “coupon” book of things that children and teens can give back to mom has been a great Mother’s Day gift for a reason. It is a creative way kids can ‘give back’ to mom with no expectation of anything in return. Also this gift keeps giving long after Mother’s Day has ended.

They could offer a . . .

“Free Hug. Just Because.”
“Massage. After a long day on your feet.”
“Back rub on a particularly stressful day.”
“Grocery Shop.”
“Various chores.”
“Drive a younger sibling to baseball practice.”
“Clean out and detail Mom’s vehicle.”
“An evening together doing whatever “YOU” desire”
etc . . .

Mom does so much. Let’s show her how much we care, not only today, but each and every day.

Remember. If you don’t live with Mom any more and distance makes it impossible to be present as much as you’d like.  A phone call, or video conversation still goes a long way to keep the relationship alive and thriving.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

 

 

Until Next time let’s treat Mom well
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching
The Legacy Centre

It’s More than a One Night Stand by Gregory Bland

love-respect-gregory-blandValentine’s Day is traditionally an evening of flowers, candy, romantic dinners, carefully chosen words, and concentrated time together. Maybe for some, a secret hope of rekindling a flame that has grown dim, others may desire to kindle a new spark with someone special, or for others, sadly, it’s simply an opportunity to get ‘lucky’. Whatever your motive for celebrating Valentine’s Day, one thing is certain, it is universally understood as a time to show your love for someone special.

As a Dad of two daughters’ and one son there is a strong desire to see relationship and love rise to higher standards than we often see around us. I am not naïve either; I recognize that our children learn more by example than any amount of words I use. For that reason I focus more upon developing my own character which flows out in my words and actions. Our lives, Lynn and mine, are living examples for our three children. They watch, observe, and learn.

Certainly, Valentine’s can and is an opportunity for something different, something special, but it does not replace the ‘every day’ relationship we share. Reflecting on our Valentine’s celebration this year leaves one overarching value lingering in my mind.

Showing love, respect, and value for a lady is a daily commitment we need to make as men.

There are 365 days in the year giving us incredible opportunities and time to show our love, respect, and value for the lady’s in our lives. Make the most of every day!

Until next time,
Make the most of every day to show love, respect, and value for the lady in your life.

Your friend and pro-active parent coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching and
The Legacy Centre

Giving Mom a Much Deserved Break by Gregory Bland

Moms-deserve-a-break-gregory-blandSelflessness.  Commitment. Sacrifice. These three words come quickly to mind when I think of Lynn (my lovely wife and the mother of our three children) and the other moms we know.  Moms work hard and often do not receive the recognition they deserve and/or time for themselves.

I’m reminded of our recent flight to Winnipeg and the stewardess spoke of the unlikely event of an emergency.  “Should the cabin pressure drop,” she continued, “oxygen masks will fall from the overhead compartments.  Parents with small children, ensure you secure your own mask first before helping your children.”  In effect what she was saying was simply, take care of yourself, so that you can take of your children.  You won’t be any help to your child if you pass out yourself.

There is a great truth for parenting found in that simple instruction.  We care best for our children, when we have taken care of ourselves.

Many moms juggle providing care for their children, helping support the household’s finances, preparing meals, ensuring everyone is clothed and groomed, sustaining healthy relationships with other adults, all the while trying to maintain a sense of sanity.  Motherhood can be hectic.

One simple way we can help Mom is by offering her time for herself.  Yes, that might mean that we, the men, have to care for the children ourselves but that experience in itself may help us better understand just what Mommy experiences.

The following are three simple benefits of giving Mom a regular night out and/or time apart.

a.   It gives Mom time to refresh and restore herself.  It’s healthy to take a break.  You can encourage her to do so without guilt.

b.  Mom can cultivate and grow her adult relationships without being interrupted by the constant calls on her attention.  In light of this, resist the temptation to call/text/locate her during this time.

c.   Mom will appreciate your initiative and understanding of her personal needs.  That in itself fosters health within relationship.

Within the next couple of weeks there will be a movie “Mom’s Night Out” released which looks like it will touch on this topic in a fun filled way.  Hmmmm, why not enjoy this as a couple and see what you take away from it.

Enjoy the trailer.  Looks like it will be a good one!


Photo Image:  Dollar Photo Club # 58209038

Keeping Love Alive Part 5 by Gregory Bland

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rQANUdUOJY]

Is love the feeling you feel when you feel like you’re going to have a feeling you’ve never felt before? Or is there something more? What keeps love alive in a marriage relationship? What impact does your relationship have upon your children? Consider these things as Greg shares about one of the commitments he has made and the impact it has had upon his children within this video.

Keeping Love Alive part 4 by Gregory Bland

broken-heart Pain was etched upon her face and her eyes conveyed the familiar sadness that stems from betrayal.   Curiosity pulled my gaze in the direction she was looking.  Sitting nonchalantly across the table from her was a man engaged in giving a visual pat down to a much younger lady at the counter.  At this moment he was oblivious to two things, a, he was being watched, by many, and b, he was breaking her heart one glance at a time.  (This scene unfolded as my son Josh and I were playing checkers together in a local coffee shop.)

Whether or not us guys like to admit it, sneaking a peek, or worse yet, engaging in a visual pat down of another woman, has a profound negative impact upon our wives, their emotional security, and the love we share.  It is like a hammer that is consistently chipping away at the foundation of her confidence, value, and self-worth.

“Greg, I am just admiring God’s handiwork,” some have said to me.  “He makes beautiful art, it’s like eye candy, which should be enjoyed and appreciated.  It’s OK as long as I don’t touch her,” they have responded.  That statement couldn’t be further from the truth, and betrays their lack of understanding or care for the emotional security their wives/significant others truly desire.

Job said it best, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.”  The lingering stare, the glances up and down, the intent focus upon her body’s features, betrays the heart.

As men in relationship we have an incredible influence upon the health and wel-lbeing of our wives.  With that influence comes great responsibility.   If we truly desire to keep love alive, we must ensure that our eyes are set upon our wives alone.  Resist the temptation to fall prey to the fallacy, “That’s just the way guys are.  My wife knows I’m just admiring that young woman, but I love her.”

Step into her shoes for a moment and try to gain understanding from her perspective.  You’re sitting at a table enjoying the company and conversation with the one you love when all of a sudden you notice that he is distracted.  Looking curiously to see what has distracted him, you notice he is staring at a younger woman at the counter.  Taking it all in.  What feelings might that stir up within you?  Don’t misunderstand me.  I am a man and completely understand that we are surrounded, even bombarded by visual stimuli.   But I also realize what our glances can do within the heart of those we have committed to.

Pause just for a moment and ask yourself,

“What might my wife/significant other be thinking when she catches me lingering a little longer upon the beauty of another woman?

  • What thoughts might go through her mind?
  • How might this impact her emotionally?
  • How might this affect her sense of security within our relationship?

Often guys are oblivious to the thoughts of our wives and how our actions are impacting them.  If you are brave enough, and willing to listen so you may understand, I’d challenge you to a step further.  Ask your wife/significant other what she might honestly feel and/or think if she caught you taking in the beauty of another woman.  It might bring perspective and help you to set healthy boundaries for your eyes that will not only protect your heart, but build her sense of security and keep your love alive.

For the brave men among us who are dads.  You can take this thought one step further.  Our actions teach much clearer than our words and will be reflected within the hearts, attitudes, and lives of our children.  If you are a dad with a daughter(s) consider: What do you communicate to your daughters who may see you allowing your eyes to linger long upon the beauty of another woman?  What are you teaching them about women in general by your actions?  If you have a son, what values are you instilling within him when he catches your eyes taking in all there is to see?

As we seek to honor our wives with our eyes.  It will create a wonderful sense of security within our family as a whole, no doubt will keep love alive, and potentially impact generations to come.

Until next time,
Remember the words of an old children’s song, “Be careful little eyes what you see,” it may have a greater impact than you know.
Your friend and pro-active parent coach
Gregory Bland

Keeping Love Alive Part 3 by Gregory Bland

keeping-love-alive-rose-gregory-blandSometimes love dies simply because we get lazy about our pursuit of one another.  Busyness happens.  Responsibilities increase. Family demands attention.  We get tired.  Exhaustion sets in. Soon we neglect our pursuit of one another assuming the other will understand.

“I said, ‘I do,’ when we stood at the altar.  If that changes, I’ll let you know.”  As humorous as that statement may be, it fails to add value or fuel to the fires that keep love alive.

Humor me for a moment.  What do you give your best time, attention, and energy to? Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Have you identified it?  If so, continue on and consider what would happen within your marriage if you gave the same attention, time, and energy to pursuing your spouse.  What would that say to him/her?  What would take place within your relationship?   What are the possibilities?  Drink that in for a moment.

Imagine making a commitment over the next year to pursuing your spouse with that attention, time, and energy.  Now at the end of the year, how would you describe your relationship?  What has taken place between you two?  How has that impacted your family?

I think about that and I get excited at the possibilities.  Do you?

What is it that holds us back?  Often, it is TIME.  Or maybe it’s better said, the lack of time.  Because we don’t have it to give, our pursuit of one another gets shoved to the background, peripheral region somewhere.  We promise though, that in time we will get back to it.

Please, understand, I am not suggesting you add time together to your list of responsibilities. That would be absurd.  You already have enough to do.  We can only do so much.  What I am saying is this; you can only keep love alive to the degree which you discontinue lower value activities.  Your time together should simply replace some of the other things in your life.

For Lynn and I time was also perceived as our greatest challenge.   Like you, we had more day than we had hours.  I’ve heard it said, “If you don’t control your calendar, there are others who are more than happy to do it for you.”  That rang so true and determined to take control of our own calendar Lynn and I sat down, determined what our priorities were, calculated what time we had at our disposal, and set to make our calendar reflect our priorities.

It was a challenge at first to say no.  We were torn.  Stomach knotted.  What would people think? What would the church think?  They might think we don’t ‘love’ them.  We determined our course, and were willing to take the consequences.  It actually turned out to be much better than we had anticipated.

The simple exercise of writing down our time commitments renewed our hope.  We recognized that time together was more than wishful thinking, it was possible.  When we honestly evaluated our time, we found there was a lot wasted.  Often our time was spent on very good things, but that was always at the expense of the best things.keeping-love-alive-gregory-bland

Lynn and I included the image to the right to show you in a practical/tangible way the breakdown of my weeks committed hours.  As you can see, beyond my absolute commitments at work, sleeping, eating, and travel, I still have over 40 hours in my week.  This gives me a significant amount of time to invest in relationship with Lynn, the children, course development, volunteering, recreation, and/or whatever else I consider important.

I know, I know.  It feels forced.  I have had others comment that they feel that there is something unromantic about the idea of strategy in a love relationship.  An exciting relationship with your spouse involves feelings of emotion and spontaneity.  I do understand that really.  Being intentional doesn’t actually take the spice out of your relationship; rather it ensures that your relationship remains spicy for the long haul.  What spice would it add to your relationship if you gave that kind of undivided attention to your spouse?

When I mark “Date Night” in my calendar, it communicates loud and clear to Lynn, “I am a priority in his life.”

Until next time,
Consider how you can recapture time to keep love alive

Your friends and pro-active parent coaches
Gregory & Lynn Bland

Keeping Love Alive part 2 by Gregory Bland

gregory-lynn-bland-love“Greg.  You have more dates with your wife than anyone I know. To be honest, it’s hard for me to fathom.  How in the world do you do it?”

“We’ve actually come to the place where the first thing we put in our calendar is our date nights.  Then we work everything else around that.  But it wasn’t always this way.”

“Really?  I would never have guessed by what I see.  What changed?”

“Well, the short answer would be, “I came to my senses and returned to intentionally pursuing Lynn as I did before we were married.”
laughing, “That is pretty succinct. You can tell me more if you like.”

“Sure if you want to hear it.”

“Of course! I wouldn’t have asked otherwise.”

“Alright.  But you asked for it.  Lynn and I dated for four years prior to marriage.  Some might call it courting, I guess.  When we could, we’d spend a lot of time together.  When we were not together in person, not in studies or working, you could find me huddled in my room,door closed, phone to my ear, fidgetting with a phone cord as I sat listening.  I loved hearing her voice.  Listening to her talk, getting to know who she was, and what she was passionate about.  This was long before the Fav 10 promotions modern cell phone packages offer & let me tell you, some of the monthly bills that came in, were out of this world.”

“No doubt about it, I can remember those days too.”

“Yeah, the expense never bothered me because I loved talking with her. More than anything though, I enjoyed our times together.  We could be canoeing, walking through the zoo, shooting hoops, eating KFC at the park, or riding motorcycle down a twisty back-road.  Just being with her was exhilarating.   After a few years of dating she finally asked me to marry her. Ok, Ok, truth be known, I finally clued in that she would actually say, “yes,” so I mustered up the courage to ask.  Gregs questionWe married between my first and second years of studies and although it was a little tougher balancing part-time work, studies, ministry in a local church, and a new life together we managed to continue our regular dating routine.  4 years into our marriage we had our first child.  What a season of change that was for us.  We moved to a new community, began ministering in a new church, and had a baby all within one month.  Six months later we discovered we were expecting child # 2.  My mind reeled as I plummeted from awe and wonder at the miracle of child birth to panic and fear in a heart beat.  Subtly, almost imperceptibly  something happened within me.     I didn’t recognize it, but I was pouring my life into our two little girls, making sure that they knew their daddy loved them,  (Once I got over the shock and fear that is.) and the ministry that we were working in.   Lynn and I always had a ‘good’ relationship.  People often commented on it.  What couldn’t be seen on the exterior was a cooling that was taking place within our relationship.  The greatest responsibility for that, was not Lynn’s but mine to bear.”

“How so?”

“I had allowed good things to dominate my time and affection.  Good things like, investing in our children, providing for our growing family, pouring my heart into ministry. When you boil it all down, I had placed these good things, in higher priority than Lynn and my shared relationship together.  When this dawned on me, I was amazed at how subtly this took place within my life.”

“What brought about this realization?”

A friend loved me enough to ask, “Greg, what could happen in your marriage if you put as much energy into loving your wife as you obviously do your children?”
“Wow. That is a powerful question!”

“It was for me!  I began reflecting upon my intentionality with our children.  I had been dating the girls regularly, taking time away as a family.  Ensuring that we were cultivating a healthy relational environment, for us as a family.  Lynn, on the other hand, I was now dating sporadically, with a lot less intentionality.  It was more like, ‘Hey, I have some time do you want to grab a sitter and head out tonight?’  What impact could this have upon our marriage?  As I thought about that, I remembered how we pursued one another during our courtship and into the early years of our marriage.  If I could direct the same energy and enthusiasm into my relationship with Lynn, it would probably mean the world to her.  I renewed my commitment to pursue Lynn as I did while getting to know her.  To cultivate our relationship with intentionality.  To go on discovery, seeking new territory within her heart I had not yet discovered.  I returned home and shared with Lynn my renewed commitment to her, pulled out my day planner and together we selected an evening we would call ours.  What I discovered in work and ministry was this, if I didn’t write it in my day planner, it often wouldn’t get done.  On the other hand though, writing the date down ensured Lynn was a priority, and provided a visual for me when others requested my time.  Interestingly enough, what seemed almost awkward and forced in the beginning has become so natural and normal that we don’t even think about it anymore.  Date night is a great night, a highlight of our week.  There is a no doubt it has had a profound impact upon our relationship together, but has also been great for our children to see the priority we place upon one another.  I would not change this for anything.”

“That’s amazing.  Thanks for sharing Greg.  You have given me something to consider today without even knowing it.”

* This conversation gleaned from a phone call last week with an old friend.

As you consider keeping love alive within our marriage relationship.  Let me close this with one final thought and a couple of questions.  It’s very common for men to think that pursuing the girl, trying to capture her heart, goes hand in hand with dating/courtship but not with marriage.  That simply is not the case.  We have discovered, as many others have, that continuing the pursuit of capturing and holding her heart opens up new vistas and lands of discovery.  Doing so will draw you into a deeper, richer, fulfilling relationship with one another.

So the short challenge here is, take up the chase again, pursue and capture her heart.  You can begin asking yourself, “What did I do when I was dating that she loved so much?” and then begin doing it again.

Your relationship will be better because of it
Until Next Time, Keep love alive by resuming your pursuit of her heart
Your friend and Pro-active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

Keeping Love Alive Part 1 by Gregory Bland

valentines dinnerHer soft facial features were accentuated by the flickering shadows of the candlelight.  Butterflies fluttered carelessly in my stomach and my throat tensed slightly as I gazed into into those big beautiful brown eyes.  “Everything is perfect,” I thought to myself, “Alone together at last, no distractions, no schedules, no cell phone, no interuptions.”  A lump formed in my throat as I caught myself simply silent in her presence and admiring her beauty.  For the first time in a long time, I was at a loss for words.

A warm shy smile graces her face.  She looks like she is going to say something, then pauses, and turns her head bashfully away and asks in a uniquely cute little voice, “You have that look that says you’re thinking something.  What is on that mind of yours?”

I pause, just for a moment longer, trying to gather my thoughts.  Like a raging river in spring time the banks of my mind were overflowing with memories.  In an instant I remembered many shared moments together.  Fears of the unknown future. Tears we shed together.  Laughter that has erupted seemingly out of nowhere.  Disagreements. Warm embraces that offered a healing balm to our hurting hearts.  The covenant of love we made together so many years ago.

Although silence ruled in this moment her eyes called out begging an answer.  What could I say that would adequately describe everything that I was feeling in this moment? How could I articulate all that was in my heart and mind for her?  There was so much I wanted to say.  So much I could talk about.  Thank her for.  For all the words that could be said in this moment, three simple yet profound words seemed most fitting, “I love you,” I said softly.

Her eyes sparkle, she tilts her head slightly down, smiling she looks away then looks back into my eyes and responds, “I love you too.”

Love is an incredible thing and very often misunderstood.  Some have felt that love is the feeling you feel when you have a feeling you’ve never felt before.  What we have learned is that you need much more than puppy love to get you through the dog years of life.  Valentines once again stirs up the notion within our culture that love is a feeling to run after, search for, and find.  It’s that one day within the year when all eyes seemingly turn toward relationship.  Hearts are open.  Hours, maybe days or even weeks, are spent in thoughtful planning and preparation, ensuring the setting, mood, flowers, meal, and dessert are just right for this special time together.

I am curious.  What impact would this have within our family relationships if we approached the other 51 weeks of the year with as much intentionality, passion, vision, and desire for relationship that we invest in this one special day in February?  What impact would this have on our spouses?  Our children? Our children’s future spouses and their children?  This could very well leave a legacy of relational health for generations to come.

Can I challenge you today to think beyond Valentines day and consider how you can keep love alive within your relationships for the other 364 days of the year.

After your date tonight, what will you do to keep love alive?

Until next time
Keep love alive
Your friend and pro-active parent coach
Gregory Bland