Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Conquering Relationship Challenges

Our Tuesday morning Mops meeting was one that got me thinking a lot about my relationship with my husband.  Since we got married eight years ago, we have had to work hard on our communication.  I realized quickly that when I would ask too much of him, he would shut down.  I attributed this to the way he was raised and figured it had nothing to do with me.   Boy, was I wrong.

My husband is the sweetest man I have ever met.  Because of his size people become hesitant, but after a quick Harvey laugh, it is realized he is hilarious and light-hearted.  Things don’t ruffle his feathers and he has the ability to go with the flow.  Our beginning vacations as a married couple consisted of riding by the seat of our pants.  At times we would find ourselves driving up to Kirkwood in the dead of night or meeting up with friends in a faraway place at the drop of a hat.  It was fun and always an adventure.  His flexibility and sense of adventure is attractive and exciting.   I like reflecting on that time when decisions didn’t feel heavy.

Life progressed to beautiful children and a lot of necessary communication.  First of all, raising kids involves a lot of talking, planning, follow through, revisiting and repeating.  The fun is and will always be in our relationship, but having to talk business is a chore.  I find we get offended easily and in turn we don’t want to talk about it again. And, hay, who wants to deal with the un-fun stuff anyway?  Adulting in general is hard and I was not surprised to hear that the majority of problems in a marriage are not the big ticket items.  In fact, it all relates to how we communicate with each other.  Come to find out it is not all related to the way we have been raised; it has to do about the way we act towards each other.  It should be simple.  Here I am madly in love with my husband trying to be a good partner, friend, lover, and wife.  Aren't we all working towards that goal?  But things get in the way and riffs happen. 

Fixing those small things that bug us about each other have a simple solution.

Number 1: Examine the way we question our partners.  Day in and day out I ask why.  Questioning is part of understanding and it is what I do.  I thought that asking why was helping our communication.  My husband is not one to readily spew out details, so asking why seems like a way to get more information.  Asking why is okay, but the way we ask may change the results of the conversation.  My goal is to try to ask why in a way that does not assume that he has not thought through the situation.  Remembering that he makes choices by considering all options will make my questioning come out prettier.  My hope is he, in turn, will not attribute my asking why to nagging.

Our partners crave respect.  Showing respect can be as easy as a simple thank you. 

Number 2: Say thank you.  It is time to start noticing those small things and thank them for it.  I tried it last night, and it brought out a smile.  I am not just thanking him for the things I ask him to do, but for things he usually does.  My goal is to thank him as much as I hear I love you, which is an awful lot!

Finally, the racy part. 

Number 3: Our partners want to feel close and connected to us.  Women can feel this closeness and connection through many different outlets, like a heartfelt conversation, but men need it in a physical way.  Although it is so hard to want to make love when you are bugged, it may be something that will help the communication.  That physical connection is the antidepressant for him and may make the situation feel lighter. 

In our marriage we have grown and are continuing to learn how to empower each other.  Our pitfalls should not be considered a road block.  Working on communication by speaking kindly to each other, respecting the choices we make and connecting emotionally and physically can help bring both individuals back into alignment.  Being on the same page will make conquering our challenges together easier. 

- Amanda

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's Only a Season

   Has your life ever felt chaotic and out of control? (most days, right?) Then add moving, changing churches, a new job, toddlers, and .....really? A  surprise pregnancy!?!?

Our speaker Summur Braley shared her intimate and personal story of coming face to face with postpartum depression (PPD) & anxiety.

  All Summur ever wanted to do was to be a loving mommy to her children but during her last pregnancy and after the birth of her 4th child, sweet Holiday, she started to not recognize who she was becoming.

  On edge, very angry, anxious, and distant from God. At this time, Summur felt like if something happened to Holiday, it  could possibly be a medical emergency and going to the ER or almost calling 911 full of panic and fear was the "go to answer".

    It was a very sad and stressful time for their whole family. Matt, her dear husband, had to calmly talk her off the ledge she was so clearly on. She decided to call her doctor who told her in a very matter of fact way that she had Postpartum Depression. This was a difficult diagnosis to understand because Summur had always been a very cheery person, an extrovert, so how could this be? The doctor explained that anger is one of the main signs of depression and anxiety. The number one sign for Summur was that was she acting "unlike herself". Her doctor put her on antidepressants and sent her to a psychologist. The antidepressants didn't work but the psychologist was terrific. She gave her breathing techniques, practical daily changes to make along with suggestions of looking out at the horizon, beyond that little square we are locked in when we have a baby.

    Summur also learned that PPD & anxiety is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It's not something you have done, it's not because you think negatively, its not something we bring on ourselves and it's not the Lord punishing us.

   It turned out that talking about it was huge - for her and for many others. This epidemic is nothing  to be taken lightly. One of our own in MOPS lost her best friend to suicide because of postpartum depression. We can not trust our feelings at this time. We must reach out and get help even though it seems like everyone is so far away from us, including God. They are there for us, He is always there for us. Untreated postpartum depression can lead to postpartum psychosis and that is a very scary thing.

  We were given a very helpful handout that explained symptoms of PPD & anxiety, and postpartum psychosis, what to do if you have symptoms of PPD and how to help someone suffering from PPD.

   Finally "spring came" to Summur and her household, she started feeling like herself again, seeing colors and using her creative energy to start a tie dying business. God was so  faithful.

"For everything there is a season"
Ecclesiastics 3:1.

Please remember that PPD is only for a season but you do need to recognize it and treat it.

Have Hope -