Blog Archives

Learn to Fly

plane

Imagine you’re flying a plane. Now imagine you’re trying to land the plane. Regardless of whether or not you’ve ever flown a plane, there are some very basic things you need: direction and a place to land. That’s kind of how Family Strengthening and Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages work together for relationships… they’re directions and a place to land.

The Family Strengthening principles, also known as the lessons put forth by Al Laws Jr. and Advice4Life  help couples navigate through the trials and tribulations of any relationship. Gary Chapman introduced The 5 Love Languages in order to create an environment for couples that both people in the relationship feel safe and supported. When couples use both together, the flight may not be easy, but at least you’ll always know where you’re going.

There are 5 love languages – Touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and receiving gifts. The idea behind these love languages is to understand what yours and your significant other’s love language is and use them to express love to one another. While these constructs are easy to remember, getting to these places take a little more work. That’s where the lessons from Family Strengthening and Advice4Life come into play.

Let’s say your partner’s love language is quality time. However, you’ve been pulled into a million different directions at your job and you can’t help but spend more time at the office. You’re caught in the in between because your spouse feeling neglected and their love tank being on empty and keeping afloat in your professional life, creating a comfortable life for you and your family. The pressure is on, that plane is flying, what do you do?

You know where you want to go, but how do you get there? Family Strengthening will first teach you to identify what you’re feeling and be open and honest about it. The skills give a step by step process on how to communicate and share feelings in a healthy and non-combative way. This map is what will get you to your end goal… the love language. By communicating your thoughts, your position and having an exchange on ways to help alleviate the situation, your partner is now able to understand where you are, where you are coming from and you can work together to get to the solution for spending more time together – the love language.

This is just one example of the various ways you can use Family Strengthening in conjunction with the 5 Love Languages. While using one is a helpful tool in building and maintaining a relationship, the two together are a powerful entity in the preservation of friendships, marriages, and family bonds. So go ahead, learn to fly.

Watch the past #Advice4Life session here.

To learn more about the 5 Love Languages, click here.

 

 

Lovebirds? Or Jailbirds?

love-birds

Would you choose to put someone in jail because they don’t like to do the things you like to do? The answer is probably of course not, but the truth is most of us probably already have – time and time again.

Have you ever refused to go shopping with your partner? Have you ever pouted through a football game? In those moments, we acted the way we wanted to and the way we thought was right. You probably are thinking to yourself, “Well who wouldn’t want to buy nice things?” or “Who wouldn’t be excited about football?” At that very instant, we have condemned and imprisoned the person we love.

There’s a certain way we expect people to act. But to be successful in this world, I’m telling you now… throw that expectation away. When we choose to love someone, there are certain responsibilities that come along with that. One of those is to “meet someone where they’re at”. What this means is that there is a certain level of self-sacrifice that comes with being in a relationship and of those is to meet your partner halfway. 

Without realizing it, there are ways that we impose on the people we love. Before the wave of guilt consumes you, know that we’re all human and that there are ways to fix the damage. We like to have our way or have our points of view seen, but don’t you think our partners do too? Before you become a lawyer and spend hours arguing and explaining why you’re right, just stop. Stop thinking that you’re the only one who is right, and start listening. The things that make us happy, make us feel free, or give us pleasure may be imprisoning to others. So it is our responsibility to start listening to “why”. Then it’s time to listen to “what”. What makes your partner happy, what makes them feel free, what gives them pleasure? When you take the time to digest all of this information, you have already graduated to considering another person besides yourself. And maybe you’ll fine, “Hey, this is another way to do this,” or “Hm, maybe I wasn’t right.”

When you are in a relationship with someone, you can’t try to form them into what you want them to be. As you would like to be loved, you must also love another person whole-heartedly… through their beauty and their flaws. Through their gifts and their shortcomings.  Be willing to “go to jail” for them. This is when the real love can begin.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.

 

Are You Happy?

happiness

What do you do when you’re not happy with something? Let’s say you bought an appliance from the store, took it home and found that it doesn’t quite operate the way you expected it to. You’re not happy with it so what do you do? You probably returned it, right? Let’s say you have a picture frame hanging from the wall and it falls to the floor, its corner broken and unable to hold any more pictures. You’re super unhappy so what did you do? You probably threw it out. These days we are so conditioned to throw out the broken. We so easily give in to our disappointment that we give up without giving things a real shot. We’ve focused so much on thinking “I’m not happy” than figuring out what would make us happy and acting on what will make us happy.

Happiness is paramount in any relationship. And in many relationships, you look to your partner as a source of happiness. But what if I said that happiness can only come from you? What if I said happiness is only aligned with your own mindset. Well it’s true. YOU are responsible for your happiness. YOU choose whether or not to be content in a relationship. That feeling is generated in ourselves and doesn’t come from anyone else.

In this day and time, we have become so addicted to blaming other people. We see other people as the source of our own pain that we often fail to realize that we are responsible for our own selves. Family Strengthening teaches us that we must live up to the power of our own choices, meaning that whatever situation we find ourselves is solely because of us. When things are bad in a relationship, we are so quick to blame the other person (and maybe rightfully so!) but if we can’t accept that some of the blame could be on us then there’s no chance of healing. Instead of being ready to throw your hands in the air and walk away when things look bleak in a relationship, see that as a time of building.

It’s hard to not blame someone else when you’re unhappy, but it’s powerful to find yourself in a place that you’re able to say, “I don’t blame you. I blame my expectations.” Think about it, every time you’ve found yourself disappointed, it’s probably because your partner didn’t meet an expectation that you had. But did you share that expectation with them? Was it a realistic expectation? Comparison often leads to discontent and once we are able to rid ourselves of unrealistic expectations and false comparisons, we’re able to move on a lot quicker. We all need to find ourselves in a position to want to change. If your partner seems abstinent to change, see that as your time to shine.

Listen to the podcast here.

 

Catch Me When I’m Falling

arguing

Infidelity is devastating in any relationship, whoever’s side it’s on. The chances of recovery these days are 0 to none and it’s hard to see a life past the violation in a relationship.

Without pointing any fingers, Advice4Life has followed the journey of two hurting individuals who are currently dealing with infidelity, how to cope, and where to go from here. Kevin and Lisa have been sharing their sides of the story and we’re slowly gaining more insight on how something like this can happen within a marriage.

When you decide to marry someone or even a dating relationship, you enter in a covenant or agreement that both of you expect each other to uphold – to be faithful to each other and never part from one another. As soon as that is broken, it’s like shattered glass – shocking and difficult to save. There’s work to be done on both ends if you are to reach a place of healing. In the case of Lisa and Kevin, a break in the relationship was present way before the cheating happened. As a partner, you are looked at to be a safe haven and best friend for any and all of the deepest parts of your significant other. Partners need validation, assurance, acceptance, love, and safety. Although they expressed this differently, these were needs not being met by either partner. In her seeking validation, safety and assurance in the relationship, Lisa ended up ultimately pushing Kevin away. In Kevin’s quest for safety, assurance and love he found himself violating the sanctity of marriage.  Through the unveiling of both sides, we find out that neither is wrong nor right but that emphasis in communicating needs and wants could have been extremely helpful.

We immediately see the importance of knowing your process. Behaviors can distort your true intentions and anger can overcome every other, more honest, emotion. With both their actions, there was a cry for help. Each individual was falling in the relationship and there was a need for someone to catch them. As one half of a couple, it’s your job to do the catching – no matter how tedious or frustrating the task may be.   When we physically see something falling, it’s second nature to reach out and grab it. That’s how we must be in our relationships with other people. Rather than watching something fall apart, be the one to pull it together. Healing after someone has cheated on you is one of the hardest things to do. You may feel like you can never trust or love again. It’s your decision to do what’s best for you, whether it is to move on and stay to fix it. Whichever you choose, it’s imperative to know that both is extremely hard work. To save something you’d have to want to. If you want to, then you do it.

Listen to the podcast here.

Your True Colors

mirrorOne of the hardest things in life is to hear, is to hear about unlikable things about yourself. When you work so hard to produce an image that you think everyone should love and accept, it’s difficult to hear that well… that image isn’t really working.

It’s like being at a masquerade party, you have that mask on but you’re not really fooling anyone. Everyone knows it’s you under there. It’s no different in real life. When you have a mask on, be prepared for someone to find you out. That is, if they haven’t already.

It’s so important to be authentic.

It’s not unusual to act out in an extreme way if a mask if snatched away from us, torn from our faces and destroyed. We are shocked, upset, angry when all of a sudden we’re exposed in a way we weren’t prepared for. When our masks are on, we are protecting something, hiding something from the rest of the world. Maybe it’s something that we’re not proud of, maybe it’s something we fear. Either way, when it’s staring us right back in the face, it’s unpleasant. We lash out, we act out in anger – all of a sudden we’re not the people we wanted the world to see.

In reality, we find our masks uncomfortable. They can be restricting, they can be suffocating. All we really want is to feel free. This is what calls us into a real relationship, the trust that if this mask comes off, that somebody will still love us – good, bad, beautiful, ugly. They will love every part of us. But the first step in the process of being our true selves is to trust. As difficult as it is, to show up in a relationship is to show up healed and whole. You are saying to your partner, “I trust you completely, until you have shown me that I cannot.” Allow yourself to BE yourself with this person, believing wholeheartedly that they will accept and love you for who you are. If they don’t, it wasn’t meant to be. Because the one you are meant to be with will love you as God loves you, seeking no fault and seeing only good. As someone’s partner, it is also our responsibility to be a mirror, helping someone improve for the better. In this exchange, we learn to trust, to believe and to empower as well as be empowered.

Listen to the podcast here.

Real Love Doesn’t Hurt

abuse

Abuse. Such a hard concept to even wrap our heads around. The most awful part is that there’s so many forms of it. Physical… Verbal… Emotional… It always starts with  one and intertwines with the rest. So how can we even begin to expect someone to be able to “deal” with it?

When someone loves you, they will never intentionally hurt you. They will never go out of their way to prove a point so strongly that they lay hands on you or say something that cuts deeply. The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear”. Your relationship with another person should be your safe place, your haven, your harbor. If you feel you are being abused, never chalk it up to your imagination. There are lines that should never be crossed and actions that you should never allow.

Be weary of individuals who apologize and say they have changed. They may go as far as to put on airs or claim they have found the way of God. You need to know that a person has to WANT to change in order to make a change. You see, people conform themselves to fit into a certain expectation, at a certain time, in a certain place. What happens when they’re taken from that environment? What happens when they’re taken out of the church? Out of the public eye? What do they do? When someone surrenders their heart to the Lord, that is when the real change will occur.

The person abusing you probably knows that you’re feeling guilty, alone and scared. They will take those feelings and use them to their advantage. You, yourself, need a willingness to change. The will to stay strong against what is out to defeat you. This strength will come from within. But how do you access it? Give your heart to the Lord. Your experiences have undoubtedly hardened you. But if you remember to keep your heart open to God, He will surely minister you and lead you in the way of safety and freedom. Renew your mind and your heart and the transformation will occur.

Listen to the podcast here.

Masquerade, Paper Faces on Parade…

mask

If you’re anything like me, than your favorite holiday is Halloween. It’s that one night a year when you can be absolutely anyone you want to be. I’ve been a witch, an ice cream cone, a princess, a teenager succumbed to a fate of fighting to the death with other youths…and a magical nanny. I’m in character for about 24 hours and when that sun comes up, I’m Kristina again. It’s great fun and I can’t be the only one who thinks so. Because then why would masks even exist?

It all boils down to one question, once that masks comes off… do you like who’s behind it? Let’s explore the concept of masks. In the medical field, masks are actually a negative thing. When you mask an issue in the hospital, you’re only treating the symptom but have no clue what the real problem is. It’s the same in our relationships, we’re only looking at something or someone at face-level.

The reason we like masks so much is that we can make ourselves out to be whatever we want to be. We can be really sweet, maybe we can like football, maybe we go to church every day. This is all well and good, but we need to be aware of our own masks. Meaning, we need to realize when we’re putting it on, especially for other people. And that’s why we have mirrors.

We all know what mirrors do in real life. Metaphorically, people can be the exact same way. When we put on a mask, it’s because we don’t want to see who we really are. We don’t want to deal with our blemishes. But that’s why we have family, friends, and significant others. To help us see our real selves.

So imagine yourself looking into a mirror with a mask on. It’s one of those really pretty, masquerade ones with glitter and gold trim You look great! Now imagine yourself taking it off… do you like what you see? Maybe that mask was hiding a small pimple on your cheek. Aren’t you glad you can see it now so you can treat it properly before it becomes a major zit? When we remove our masks for other people, we are indicating a sense of trust to the other person. That person in turn can help us see our true selves. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly… and when it comes to our blemishes, they’re right there to help us figure them out. So let’s look into our mirrors, mask free today. Let’s be our true and authentic selves, the self that God calls us to be. And if you get the chance to be someone else’s mirror, be kind. Everyone needs a safe place when they’re exposed.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast all about masks here.

Time and Time Again

A photo by dan carlson. unsplash.com/photos/FgPGGFlY1gYWell, there we go. We’ve fallen in love and can’t seem to get up. We spent so long chasing love and now it’s here, smack dab in front of your face. Everything’s great! Your love is perfect and there’s nothing else you could ask for. But what’s this? What is this feeling of apprehension buried deep in your heart? Could that be fear? Fear of losing someone? Fear of starting at square one all over again? But of course you don’t want to do that…

So what do you do?

As a human being, when we fear we may lose something, we try our hardest to hold on to it by any means. Even if our actions go far beyond what our heart and head tells us. But it’s SO important to listen to that voice coming from within. It’s our tendency to jump into things simply because it’s what we want to do. We lack the desire to think, to feel, we just DO. But having a successful and healthy relationship takes a certain level of thoughtfulness, skillfulness, and consideration. After all, nothing of value comes easily.

When we are building a relationship, we don’t jump from one stage to another, thinking “Well what could go wrong?” We’re (especially females) are so concerned with letting too much time go by, but have you really taken the time to cover all the bases in each stage of the relationship? The Bible says, “Let patience have its perfect work.” We must stop to think and ask ourselves, are we ready to move to the next level?

When the excitement of a new relationship fades away, what do you have? Did you take the time to build a foundation of commitment and trust? Did you furnish it with love? Did you decorate the walls with memories? Has their heart become your home?

Really taking your time is a difficult thing to do, especially when all you want is to find THE ONE. When you believe you have found that one person, take the time to strengthen your relationship. When you see something valuable, put in the work to get it. Once it’s yours, it’ll be guaranteed to be yours forever.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here.

 

Would You Marry You?

Would you marry you? Are you a you that you want to be? These are questions that we must constantly ask ourselves to keep us in check when we are in relationships with one another.

But why do we need to keep ourselves in check? Because we are in “the keeping”. When you’re in “the hunting”, you can make yourself out to be whoever you want to be, but when you’re working on keeping someone… are you really putting in that work?

When you decide to be in a relationship or a marriage, God has entrusted you with one of his most precious creatures – another human being. There’s a certain way we have to respond to this responsibility and it’s to accept this trust and respond with gratefulness. Why wouldn’t we be thankful for a lifelong companion?

But we have certain responsibilities when it comes to this acceptance. For starters, we have to show up in the relationship. We have to be present, be aware, be conscious of what’s going on, where and when. When we’re working on “keeping” another person, our biggest task is putting in effort. When you’re in the gym, do you not give it your all? Are you not pushing yourself to the limit, expanding your lungs, stretching your muscle to become a stronger person? It’s not different when you are in love with someone. You must constantly be in practice of pushing yourself and encouraging yourself to be better.

How do you make yourself better? Trace the behaviors of your relationship. What are you triggers? What are your feelings? What are you intentions? What are your expectations? Remember to keep all of these realistic and fair. Realistic for yourself and your partner. Fair to yourself and fair to your partner. Another important point to remember is the importance of dialogue. Is something bothering you? Say it. The Bible says, “Through assumption comes nothing but strife,” without dialogue comes nothing but trouble. Be simple, be clear, be succinct, be kind. Be a you that you would want to be with.

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast: http://advice4life.podbean.com/e/the-awareness-wheel-why-do-i-have-to-understand-how-my-feelings/

married

 

The Hunt Vs. The Keep

spark

Look across that breakfast table…

Look at your partner, do you remember the first time they asked, “Want to hang out?” Remember the first time you smiled and said, “I’d like that.”?  That fluttery feeling, you felt, the smile that never seemed to leave your face even when they weren’t around, the constant thoughts of them that kept you distracted from your day to day activities. There was such magic in the air you could almost taste it.

Al and Aisha Laws address a very important topic that many couples have struggled with for decades… how do you keep that spark? The answer is very simple really, be conscious. Be conscious of how you feel, what you’re thinking, and what you’re doing. Be PRESENT in the relationship.

Now think back to that time your relationship was just budding. Ladies, remember the way you would take time to make sure  your makeup was perfect? Fellas, remember the way you made sure you were on your sweetest behavior? It’s important to bring those elements into your relationship regularly, even after years of being together. Being in a relationship is work and most of that work is remembering. Now I’m not just talking about remembering anniversary dates (which is also VERY important), but remembering how you felt in the very beginning. Remembering that this is the person that you prayed for each and every day. Remembering how you felt when you found out they wanted you too.

A great way to keep the spark is having regular date nights. It’s so easy to forget to manifest love when the time you’re spending with your partner is bogged down with talk of bills, what the kids are doing… or even planning a wedding! Setting aside the time to lay down agendas and just sit and be with each other is a powerful way to keep the magic alive. Aisha said it best, “Turn off the mommy and turn on the honey.” 

Now, there’s a common misconception that true love comes solely from the spiritual aspect. While spirituality is the most important component; when you’re in love, it’s a person’s holistic well being that must be your priority. This is why physical attributes also have an effect on the dynamic of the relationship. Take pride in how you look to your partner, but don’t let it overcome you. Every once in a while, take time to adorn yourself… making yourself just as beautiful as your partner believes you are on the inside. And when you see your partner making the effort to dress up or making healthy changes, appreciate it. We all know what hard work is, and saying no to a cheeseburger is the hardest of them all.

The point is, we expend so much energy in the hunt, but our focus and our love should be manifested in the keeping. Once you’re in the love relationship, that’s where the real work starts. Happy keeping!

Listen to the Advice4Life podcast here: http://advice4life.podbean.com/e/the-awareness-wheel-women-on-the-hunt-why-your-appearance-matter-in-your-present-relationship/