SEPTEMBER 2010 ‘USELETTER’
Check out this months Video Quick Tip on my You Tube Channel, 'inspiring the world'.
It's time to be inspired again! Before I start I have a request ... if there are any topics or issues you would like me to cover and talk about, please feel free to email me and let me know. After all, the whole object of this 'Useletter' is that you use it and benefit from the information and advice herein.
This month I want to talk about relationships and family. Promise no tear jerker, but instead, some serious advice. My daughters are both doing their gymnastics competitions and once again I am a proud dad with gold medalists. I think back on this last month, the photos I took and the memories I will have for the rest of my life.
My question is, how many parents actually spend time with their children today and savour these times? In fact, how many couples actually spend time talking to each other about their day and really share their feelings with each other, especially the older married couples?
Here's a scenario that puts it into perspective.
A man spends the night drinking with his friends. His wife is mad and tells the children not to open the door when their dad knocks late that night. About 1am the next morning there is a knock on the door and the husband asks the wife to open up.
She shouts at him, "Go away, go back where you came from. You are not putting your feet into this house!"
He replies, " No my darling, I'm not here to come home, I just want to get my credit card. I am having such fun with the guys, I want to go back and party."
The wife rips open the door and grabs him by the arm, "No ways, you're coming into this house right now and getting into bed!"
I had to share that with you, I thought this story was very funny and clever psychology.
On a serious note, how do we communicate as couples and families today? Is the stress of surviving and paying bills taking all your time? Is it making you edgy and stressed out? To the point that you snap at each other and don't appreciate what you have anymore?
Sadly, most people are in such a situation. A rut, for want of a better word. It doesn't matter how stressed your day is, the biggest mistake is bringing your stress home and having it affect your family life. A few months ago I shared a story about a man that stopped at his front door before entering, and hung up an 'invisible' something on the tree in the pot plant next to the door. Eventually when his wife asked what he was doing, he replied, "That's the nonsense and stress of the day that I hang up outside. I don't bring it into the home. Tomorrow morning when I go out again, and look at my stress of the day before, it suddenly doesn't seem so bad anymore."
Now how's that for a great attitude? We as humans tend to worry about things we cannot change, and affect everyone around us with our negativity. Last week I read about a sad bus accident where a number of children were killed. I immediately thought to myself whether the parents had spent time with those children the night before, or whether there had been arguments in the home instead, or even stress and depression about work? Did they miss the last sports game their child played at sport? Makes you think, huh?
You see, none of us know when it's our time. You could come home tonight in a really bad mood and snap at your spouse and the children. Tomorrow something tragic happens and you live the rest of your life with regret. Think about it. Actually sit down and think really hard. Did you spend quality time with your family last night? Did you look your spouse and your children in the eyes and tell them that you love them?
Or did you just breeze past, say "Hi," and just carry on working on your laptop?
When last did you actually play a game with the whole family? In my youth, before internet and satellite TV, we played games. We sat around the kitchen table and we spoke about out day. Fair enough, fuel is more expensive today, but back then we went for a Sunday drive. We stopped for an ice cream. We sat on the beach. We didn't have much money then either. But a picnic basket and a blanket at a picnic spot on the side of the road made for many a memorable occasion. What about doing a picnic on the floor in your living room - there's a novel idea!
A typical scenario today is that if everyone is at home, the children eat their dinner in front of the TV, the mother eats while cleaning the kitchen, and the husband eats in front of his computer while answering some emails. No wonder we have a substantial increase in divorce and domestic violence.
No matter how much we want to blame the society we live in, you cannot do so. The final responsibility rests in your hands. You need to take control and realise that only you can make the difference. Even if the rest of your family thinks you have suddenly gone nuts. You need to bring about the change and make the difference.
Todays lifestyle has also created problems in parents communicating effectively with their children. When something does go wrong, the parents usually say, "I never saw the change in my child!" It's because they don't talk to their children. Did you ever use the 'Talking Stick' as a child? If not, have you ever heard about it? A great concept which works so well, and gives everyone a chance to have their say. You will be amazed at what comes out. Basically, as a family you sit around a table and one person gets to hold the stick. This person is allowed to talk and say what is on their mind. No one else is allowed to comment, or pass remarks. Only the person with the stick is allowed to talk. When they are finished, the next family member gets the stick, until all have had a chance to speak. Often the stick gets passed around and around until the issues have been sorted out. It's a healthy way to communicate without other family members interrupting. I strongly recommend this if you have young children. They see it as a game and you will be amazed at the things thy say.
As far as couples go, when last have the two of you had your 'own' time together? Whether it's a meal together, or just sitting on the bed and talking about how your day has been, while the other person listens?
No matter how unrealistic this sounds, it is something all couples need to do. And, the TV must be off! I find it fascinating at how often I need to speak to companies on 'negotiation skills.' Literally hundreds of staff attend and learn. Yet when it comes to their personal lives, they cannot 'negotiate' with their partner, or find a solution to solve a problem.
One of our human basic instincts is that of love and partnership. But like anything in life it does take work. There is no 'secret' formula - it's a known formula - it's all about honest communication, spending time together and respecting each others opinions. You may not always agree with the way your partner sees an issue, but it doesn't mean they are wrong. There is also nothing wrong with backing down, or giving in once in a while.
Let go of your ego and just be human. In the beginning years of my marriage, my wife and I would argue. I thinks that's all part of getting to know each other. Eventually I gave up arguing and would just say, "I love you," no matter what my wife said.Today we look back at those times and she confesses how it just blew her away. Here we were in a heated debate and I would flaw her with that. It wasn't the time and the place to say "I love you." But guess what, it worked! However, it took one partner to step down and bring balance back into the equation. Surely that's not too difficult to do?
In summary, why not just try spend a few minutes every night communicating with your spouse and your children. Even if you only start with 10 mins per evening. Build it up every week so that by end of the month you are nearly spending an hour of quality time together which you never had before. Don't you think it will make a huge difference to you and your family's life?