Monday, May 18, 2015

Life



My life has been in quite an upheaval for me the past few weeks as my son-in-law and brother are both in the hospital fighting infection in their bodies.  I spent a week in Miami to help my daughter and to be there for the surgery on her husband.  I came home last Monday evening via train, in which my hotspot on my phone refused to work so I didn’t get to my blog last week. 

When I picked up my brother on Tuesday for a urology appointment, I was surprised to see how ill he was.  I then took him home to stay with me, after his appointment, as he had become too much for my eighty-three year old mother to handle. (He’s 6’5”, 250 pounds and handicapped – she’s 5’3” and 130 pounds.)  He has been in the hospital since Friday now, after an ambulance ride to the ER, and will be having surgery this week when a blood infection clears up.

One thought that has jumped out so clearly to me this past week is that the little stuff just doesn’t matter when you have a family member, or two, who is very sick.  Hospitals quickly place priorities in the proper order.

Suddenly, I don’t care that I haven’t cleaned my bathroom in over two weeks.  I don’t care that the washed dishes remain drying in my sink.  I don’t care if I miss the event I had looked forward to attending.  I only care that my loved ones walk out of the hospital in good health.

Why is it that we take the ones we love the most for granted?  We forget to tell them how much we love them.  We take out frustrations and anger on them because we believe they will always be there for us.  They are sometimes the last person on our list of priorities.

We can’t forget to appreciate every day we have and every day we share with our loved ones, especially our spouses.  We can’t assume they will always be there for us.  We can’t wait until tomorrow to spend time with them or tell them how much we love them.

A friend of my daughter lost her husband last year.  She was pregnant with their second child and only 24 years old.  At the age of 31, he laid down to take a nap one afternoon and never woke up again. 

Each moment is a gift.  A gift we should share with those who mean the most to us.  Don’t waste it with negative words or worthless anger or frivolous activities.  Live each day as if there may not be a tomorrow - because there may not.

Proverbs 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

James 4:13-15,  “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Monday, May 4, 2015

Wifi War - What To Do


We live in a crazy time of electronics where many of us spend the entire day in front of a computer screen of some sort.  Although we can now do almost anything at the touch of our IPhone, we are jeopardizing relationships because of the attention we give to those screens.  Hours quickly pass before we know it, and we’ve neglected our spouse and family.  Here are a few suggestions to keep this from happening.

1.  Find a time to rationally discuss the issue.  Don’t do it when you’re mad because your spouse has neglected you for the third night in a row, or when you have had a rough day dealing with the kids or work, or when either of you is tired, hungry or not feeling well.

2.  Agree to set boundaries for computer time and to work on not getting offended when your spouse asks you to turn off the electronics. As for the spouse doing the asking, watch your tone of voice.  You could try putting your hand on their arm and saying, “Honey, when you have a minute, I have something I want to tell you.”

3.  Plan to have at least two evenings a week with no electronic devices.  If your spouse thinks that is unreasonable, then limit the use of electronic devices to one or two hours per evening.  Find a compromise that works for you both.

4.  Make the evening a family affair in taking care of the kids, preparing dinner, and getting the kids to bed.  Be sure to spend at least 15 minutes alone (even more is better) each evening as a couple with no distractions (phones, televisions, and computers).

5. Go on a date together, with no children, at least once a month (again, more is better).   Don’t take your phones out at dinner or any other time in the evening.  Concentrate on your spouse.

6.  Discuss your needs with each other.  Make a list of your top five needs – what makes you feel the closest or most intimate to your spouse when they fill that need for you.   (For example: with many women the top need is conversation and for men, sex.)  This is similar to Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages if you know what they are.  Share your lists with each other.  Realize that our tendency is to believe our spouse’s needs are the same as our own.  Our spouse’s needs are usually totally different than our own, and so we wind up not filling any of their needs.

7.  Realize that time on computers and phones can become addictive.  Seek help if needed.  Marriages are being destroyed by the overuse of electronic devices.  Sitting together on the couch while playing on IPads or IPhones or watching television does not qualify as quality time together.

 
 Please leave a comment if you have any ideas for limiting electronic time that work for you and your spouse!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wifi War

I am deeply concerned about the effects of electronic devices on this generation.  Although even baby boomers have been sucked into the spell of smartphones, tablets, Ipads and laptops, it’s the millennials that seem to have permanently attached themselves to these gadgets - much as they did as babies with their pacifiers.  A temporary separation causes panic and stress.  This epidemic, I’m afraid, is destroying relationships, particularly marriages.

It saddens me to go out to dinner and notice all the people engrossed in their phones while missing out on needed conversation with whoever sits across from them.  Isn't that why we go out to dinner?  To have time to talk without interruption?  Conversation is the key to any successful relationship.  Without it, that relationship will die.  Rick and I went to Red Lobster in the middle of the afternoon last week and noticed that nobody was rudely playing with their phone.  Then we quickly realized that we were probably the youngest people there (Rick is 62 – I am 57).  What will happen in 30 something years when most of the baby boomers and older are gone?  Will we even know how to converse with one another?

As I talk to young wives and mothers, I hear the same complaint over and over.  “My husband comes home and is glued to his phone/Ipad/computer all evening.  He gets angry when I suggest that he turn it off and spend some time with the kids and me.  He does little to help.”

This is a huge bone of contention between couples.  It almost destroyed my marriage when my children were very young, and that was over 25 years ago when we only had computers to deal with.  Rick was in an unsatisfying job and needed an outlet when he got home.  Since he could only focus on one thing at a time, he poured himself either into computer games or television.  An atomic bomb would not have broken his focus.  If I tried to talk to him, it was like pulling the needle out of the arm of a junkie before he got his fix.  He responded with anger.

After a couple years of feeling completely neglected and then the sudden death of my father, I turned to another man for comfort.  God got my attention, though, when I contemplated leaving Rick.  Thanks to the grace of God, we stayed together and worked it out.

Now I have to be honest, there are still times that Rick is seduced by the idea of winning victories over other warriors and gets stuck in a war game on his Ipad.  After all, that’s what he did as a fighter pilot in the Air Force all those years.  I get it.  I have moments that I long to perform on stage again and might resort to neglecting my family for that high.  

The problem is that most men don’t know when to quit.   Because they can usually only focus on one thing at a time, they become lost in whatever they are doing and have difficulty pulling away.   Women, on the other hand, are so busy doing everything with their multi-tasking skills.  We are aware of all that goes on around us.  We have to be, or the kids and animals would destroy the house.

So what do we do?  We women need to learn how to approach our husbands, while they are playing  in cyberspace, and get their attention without stirring the junkie who only wants more.  Men, on the other hand, need to understand how harmful this can be to their marriage relationship and make the effort to implement change.  We all have to learn to compromise.  Stay tuned as I discuss how to do this.