Q: I got married this past spring. My husband and I had a great summer and loved doing things together on weekends. But then the college football season started. I knew my husband was a fan, but I'd rather be spending Saturdays doing things together instead of waiting around while he's watching his alma mater on TV. What can I do?
Jim: Many couples get married thinking the secret to marital bliss is having the exact same interests. What we ALL discover is that we're rarely just like our spouse. The good news is we don't have to be. A successful marriage isn't the result of perfect chemistry. It's built -- in part -- by learning how to bring our "separateness" together.
For example, some friends of mine "go fishing together" nearly every weekend in the summer. Actually, he likes to fish; she loves to read and just be outdoors. So on Saturday mornings they drive into the mountains, and he fly-fishes while she sits on the bank and enjoys a book. They talk. They laugh. They have a picnic together. They enrich their marriage. But their deeper connection doesn't happen by forcing each one's individual interests onto one another. It comes from bringing their "separateness" together.
The most important thing is communication -- talk about your concerns and work out ways to accommodate each other. Maybe you can do a hobby nearby while hubby watches The Game (if you can stand it, try watching a little bit with him). And then he reciprocates by deferring to your preferences for the next three hours!
Putting each other ahead of ourselves takes patience and a willingness to embrace our spouse's unique view of life. If you both will do that, you'll discover a deeper intimacy with one another than you ever thought possible.
Q: I've heard you talk about intentionality as a trait of effective parenting. I try to be intentional in my parenting, but my teens still won't listen. What am I missing?
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: The attitudes and perceptions of our kids -- especially teenagers -- are impacted by so many things. Thoughts and emotions are influenced by past and current experiences and relationships. Teens want to feel a sense of belonging, competence, worth and autonomy.
These thirsts can get them hyperfocused on things that go directly against what you're trying to teach them. But research confirms that parents are the most influential voices in a child's development -- so persevere through this season. Teens process connection with their peers through a lens of survival. In other words, if they don't feel like they belong, they feel they may not survive. It's an intense battle inside their minds.
In that context, take inventory of your relationship to see how well you express your guidance through love, accessibility and sensitivity. Your teen needs your warmth as you bring direction and correction to their life. Your intentional parenting will help them learn to:
-- Prioritize their responsibilities, relationships, time, interests and/or goals effectively.
-- Show genuine interest in others.
-- Plan and organize their time and space.
-- Value clear communication and genuine connectedness.
-- Be consistent and trustworthy in what they do.
Continue to be patient and persistent with love and compassion toward your teen. Kids also learn from failure and mistakes; in fact, some personalities are more about learning things the hard way than listening to others' advice.
What you build in your teen is the best gift you can ever offer them. Your investment in focused one-on-one time and conversations is priceless and must be a priority. Remember that the fruit of that investment might only be seen years later.
For more practical age and stage parenting tools, visit FocusOnTheFamily.com/parenting.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at jimdalyblog.focusonthefamily.com or at Facebook.com/JimDalyFocus.
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