Thursday, December 31

End of 2009

Wow, 2009 is almost over! Did the year fly by quickly or what? Can anyone believe that all the hype about entering the new millennium was actually TEN years ago? Soon it will be 2010 and another decade will begin. Time flies, they say, and it seems like it is spinning even faster nowadays.

This time last year I was looking forward to the year 2009 with hope and expectations. I had a long list of hopes , dreams and ambitions. I had a list of prayer requests and petitions that I placed before God to help me achieve by the end of the year. Now it's the last day of the year, and I am really grateful to God. Nope, I didn't get everything on my wish-list. But I have gained so many wonderful things in this past year, and I have received so many blessings from God, that I cannot but be grateful.

I'm thankful to God for my blessings. I have been overwhelmed many times when I think about how good God has been to me. I can't list them all but I can mention a few:

I'm thankful for my family: mum, dad, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, etc. Sure, once in a while somebody gets on my nerves but I know I love them, and I cannot do without them.

I'm thankful for the simple joys of peaceful sleep. I have slept and woken up everyday in the last 365 days.

I'm thankful to God for meeting all my needs. I never had to go hungry or beg for anything in 2009.

I'm thankful for the good times that I enjoyed, and the not-so-good times where God was my strength and hope.

I'm thankful for laughter and fun in my life. There are too many sad and lonely people in the world today.

I'm thankful to God for adding another year to my life. I celebrated a birthday in perfect health, surrounded by good friends and family.

I'm thankful to God for the many wonderful new friends I made this year. Especially my fellow bloggers who have become my friends and sisters. Aloted, Believer, Writefreak, Nolimit, Diamond Hawk, GoodNaijaGirl and more. And to my writing mentors: Abidemi Sanusi and Dr Tade.

I'm thankful for another peaceful, happy and fulfilling year of marriage. I know I am so blessed and privileged to share my life with a man that makes me happy, believes in me, loves me, supports me and wants the best for me.

I'm thankful because I'm older and wiser now, than I was a year ago.

I'm thankful for protection and safety. I went through 2009 without any accidents - amazing.

I'm thankful for the trips around Europe I enjoyed during the year.

I'm thankful for the progress I made with my work this year. And the opportunities I have to explore further in the coming months.

I'm thankful to my co-writers on our blog series: Latifa, Jaycee, Icepick, Flourishing Florida, Diamond Hawk, Ayodele, Writefreak and Rayo. Thanks for believing in my idea and working with me.

I'm thankful because I've moved closer to God this year.

I'm also thankful for the many lessons I've learnt this year:

I've learnt to depend on God more than ever

I've learnt that respecting my husband is the key to a peaceful marriage

I've learnt to be more patient

I've learnt to appreciate the important things in life

I've learnt not to compare myself with anybody

I've learnt that I should choose carefully whose opinions I take on board

I've learnt to receive criticism graciously

I've learnt that a positive attitude wins in the end, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

I've learnt that pride and sacrificial love are not compatible.

I've learnt to be humble and content with what, who and where I am at the moment.

In 2010:

I want to be completely in tune with where God wants me to be, what God wants me to do and at His perfect timing.

I want to be more and more like Jesus everyday.

I want to achieve my potential with my writing.

I want to become a better wife, sister, daughter and friend.

So help me God.

Now I'm counting down to 2010........................!!!

Happy New Year to everyone! May 2010 be the best year ever in all aspects of our lives!

Wednesday, November 11

Understand Me

Relationships are based on love, trust, communication and understanding. This is more so important in marriage, where two people (who are NOT mind readers) try to know and understand each other better everyday. I’m going to talk about how listening and learning can really help couples to understand each other better.

First, what is understanding? Here’s what I think: understanding is the act of seeking to know somebody, accepting who they are, putting yourself in their shoes, listening without jumping to conclusions, keeping an open mind and asking, instead of assuming.

I think, like most things in a relationship, listening to understand someone begins spontaneously, but as time goes on, it has to be nurtured. When we first start dating, we actively seek to know more and more about the other person: who they are now, where they are coming from, and where they are going in future. We spend time to piece lots of information together, to form a picture in our minds about the person. But this picture is never complete. As much as we think we know someone, there is always something more to be discovered, and no matter how predictable somebody is, they can still reveal something about themselves that can surprise you.

So how can you understand another person better? It’s a learning process and one of the first things you need to adopt is: the right attitude. I’m sure you would have heard couples say in frustration: “I just don’t understand him!” or “She’s impossible, how can anyone ever understand her?”

I say the right attitude, because that determines whether you are open and receptive, or you
have already made up your mind that understanding that person is impossible. If you say or think the words “I can’t” , you are already admitting defeat. You are literally saying, “I’m not going to understand this person, so I’ll just give up and stop trying”. However, if you decide to put in the effort into really knowing the other person, you’ll find that with time, it becomes easier everyday. So that even when you are having a conflict, you can still seek to understand where the other person is coming from – what they are saying, what they are not saying, how they are feeling and what they need.

Here are some tips on understanding that I’ve picked up form reading:

Create an atmosphere of acceptance: Don’t jump in and criticise what your partner is saying. It is easy to counter someone every time they try to open up, such that they stop trying to reveal their innermost thoughts. Don’t jump into conclusions either, if they are still expressing something. If what they are saying doesn’t quite add up to you at first, you may need to hear it again before it begins to make sense. Women often have no problems opening up to their partners, but they often try to censor what they want their partners to open up to them about. For example, we don’t often want to hear our partners telling us that they struggle with temptation in the workplace, that they are scared of death, that they have self-confidence problems, etc. So if the man tries to open up once and we dismiss those topics, he is not likely to bring them up again. Which is sad, because a man really needs his wife to support him in his areas of weakness. But if she doesn’t listen, she can’t understand, and she can’t help him.

Listen without interrupting: When you are having a conversation, allow your partner to finish their train of thought, and their sentences. Resist the temptation to jump in and finish their sentences or hijack the floor. You may miss something crucial if you are not paying attention. Your body language also speaks volumes. It will be obvious if you are more interested in the TV, than in the conversation. Don’t try to hurry the speaker up by nodding and butting in when they are mid-sentence.
It is said that most women are quicker with forming words and sentences than men. So in a conversation between them, a woman is usually two or three sentences ahead in her mind, while the guy is still trying to answer the first question. That’s why when you ask a little girl a question, she replies immediately, and if you ask a boy the same age, he is slightly slower to answer, and sometimes his mother or his sister jumps in and answers for him. That’s also why women tend to win verbal arguments.
It can easily become a bad habit when a wife assumes she already knows what her husband is going to say, so she jumps in and speaks for him, even when they are in public. I find myself guilty of it sometimes, speaking for hubby even when he’s on the phone! I have to remind myself to hush as he is perfectly able to have his own conversations.

Keep an Open Mind: Don’t say things like “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard” or “What did you expect?” when you partner tells you something about themselves. Comments like that, even though they may mean nothing to the speaker, may sound judgemental to the hearer. Negative comments put them on their guard. If they express their hurt over something you said, don’t brush it off by saying things like “You’re just too sensitive”, they have a right to be upset if you have genuinely hurt them.

Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes: The other person, no matter how much you know and love them, is still different from you in many regards. That means you may find yourself sitting at two opposite ends of an argument once in a while, and neither party wants to budge. If they express something, don’t just dismiss it, listen and try to imagine where they are coming from. A common example of this is when a husband hears the following words from his wife: “You spend too much time at work!” and he immediately becomes defensive, saying “But I have to work to meet our needs….”. If he is really putting himself in his wife’s shoes, he will see that she is not saying she doesn’t want him to work. She just misses having him around and is asking for a bit more of his time.

If You Are Unsure, Ask. Never Assume: Verify that you have heard and understood something. Instead of guessing, ask again, until you are sure. Repeat what they have said back to them and say, “If I understand you correctly, you are saying….?” Or “Let me see if I’ve got this right, do you mean…?” This way, you are checking that what you heard is the same thing as what they meant to say. So many arguments can be avoided if we stop to double check that we’ve got the information right, before we proceed with our actions.

Don’t Dismiss an Opinion: Because it is different from one you hold, doesn’t mean it is any less valid. Our opinions are made up of our experiences, which make up who we are. Dismissing someone’s opinion without giving it a thought is like throwing away their thoughts and their mind. Instead, validate their perceptions, thoughts and feelings. They are as valid as yours.

Observe: This is something you will always have to do if you want to understand somebody more and more. Watch, listen and learn: what things makes them happy, what things make them sad? What things are they really passionate about? How do they react when they are frustrated? How do they spend their money? What are their hobbies and interests? Etc, etc. Just as you are never 100% predictable, and you learn something new about yourself everyday, it’s the same thing with your partner. Even after you think you’ve got somebody sussed out, they can still surprise you, so you keep learning something new about them! It makes married life fun and interesting, it would be boring otherwise! I remember someone saying to me that her parents who have been married for 35 years, still discover new things about each other. Hmmm….

By nature, we human beings are incredibly complex, and we can always keep learning and changing. So even if you think you won’t change, most likely your partner will! So the quest to continue to understand each other should not stop at any stage. Understanding deepens our knowledge of each other, and knowledge deepens our love for each other.

As always, stay blessed and favoured!

Tuesday, September 8

Respect Experiment

As I said in my previous post, I had been reading the Love and Respect book and I had learnt a few truths about the importance of showing my husband respect. The book is based on the premise of this scripture in Ephesians 5 v 33 where Paul said: "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." The writer of the book practically promised that the best way to get my husband to love me was to show him respect. A good promise right? So I decided to conduct a little experiment of my own to see if the principle worked..... yep I decided to be the guinea pig!

In the book, it is called "The Respect Test" and there are a lot of tips for wives on how to start showing your husband respect. Most of the tips can be personalised, so after a quick glance through the tips, I came up with my own list:

  • Look out for the accusatory or nagging tone when you are asking him to do something
  • Appreciate his dislikes, don't force him to do or eat stuff he doesn't like
  • Don't argue over the TV programmes he wants to watch. If you want to watch something else, ask nicely
  • Appreciate everything good about him. Tell him often how much you appreciate who he is and what he does
  • Have his meals ready when he gets home
  • Listen and consider his ideas and opinions, even if you don't always agree

Okay, so I had my list and my watchword which goes something like this: Is what I'm about to say or do going to come across as disrespectful to my husband? and I was good to go. I was still a bit cynical about the whole thing and at some point I wondered if I was being a bit hypocritical, like I was putting up a false pretense. I didn't say anything to hubby about my experiment (obviously), but I prayed about it and asked God to help me. As I started to work through my list, it wasn't actually as hard as I had imagined! Most of it was a change in attitude: doing the right thing at the right time, knowing when to speak and when to be quiet, showing him positivity and letting go of my desire to "control" him. And I found out that once I took the first step and made the right move, the feelings caught up with me soon.

Okay, now to the results:

After one week, hubby must have noticed something was different, cos he suddenly asked me one day: "Babe, you've been very nice to me lately, what's going on?"
I smiled and said nothing, but in my mind, I was like "Oh my goodness, it must be working!"
That was very encouraging, so I decided to step it up a notch. By week two, there was a noticeable change about him. He was much happier, he was a lot more relaxed, he smiled a lot more. More importantly, he wanted to spend more and more time with me! Previously hubby had never kept me company in the kitchen while I was cooking, but that week, he actually came to gist with me while I was doing my chores! This was something I had been trying to get him to do forever!
By the third week, he was positively glowing. He was so sweet, he couldn't do enough for me. We had a short break to Germany and throughout the trip, he didn't say no to whatever I asked for! When we got back, he commented on how happy he was and he actually thanked me for making him so happy!

I was totally amazed at this. I felt like a huge burden had been lifted up. So all along, I didn't need to nag to get my views heard. I didn't need any of those power struggles. I realised that indeed as a woman, my strength is not in trying to control or manipulate my husband or try to bend him to fit my ideals. All I have to do is to let go of my pride and respect him and then he would do anything to please me! (Talk about several lightbulb moments in those three weeks, lol). Honestly, I can say that those three weeks were the best weeks of our marriage up to that point.

But of course, I had to go and ruin it, lol. After we got back from our trip to Germany, I did something that hubby said I shouldn't do. I knew he was annoyed, but more than that, because I now understood him a lot more, I could sense that he felt upset because I had disrespected him. I could feel him withdrawing and I knew that if I didn't make amends, we would lose the lovely rapport we had been enjoying in the past few weeks.

So as soon as I had the opportunity, I apologised to him and I made sure I used the words "I'm sorry I disrespected you" when I was speaking. As soon I said it, I could literally see the tension between us evaporate! I knew then, that the word "respect" truly resonates with a man in the way it doesn't resonate with a woman. That was all he needed to hear and I promise you, now that I know I will never let go of that precious knowledge!

Okay, so my experiment went very well, praise the Lord! Of course I have only talked about half of the book. Apart from respect, it also focuses on what husbands have to do to show love to their wives. So I'm going to recommend that hubby reads the book too, hopefully we can read it together and discuss the ideas in it so that we get the full benefits of the topics discussed. And I would recommend it to everyone reading my blog as well. Respect and Submission are not politically correct topics nowadays and I would not have believed it for myself if I hadn't seen that it works! So I would encourage you ladies, to try it out for yourself and see how such a simple thing can transform your relationship. I am not perfect at it yet, because I am only human, but I will continue to practice respect and by God's grace, continue to reap the rewards!

Helpful Links:

Stay blessed and favoured


Wednesday, August 19


It's been a while! Sorry if it seems like I abandoned this blog for so long. I'm just constantly juggling many things on my plate.

Hubby and I recently celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary! I thank God for my journey beyond the aisle, I've grown so much, learnt a lot, matured a lot and gained wisdom in the past four years. And I'm still learning something everyday. I'm so full of joy and I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my life with hubby cos it's shaping up to be a great adventure! (The beauty of walking with God is that He is present in every area of your life, so you can be sure He will guide you in every step of the way).

Okay, on to the topic of today: RESPECT. For our anniversary present, my sister gave us this book: Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs and told us it was highly recommended reading for married couples. So a few days later, I thought I should glance through it to see if it was any good. And wow! Before I knew it I had read the whole book from cover to cover. And I can definitely say that it opened my eyes in a way that I hadn't imagined before.

Basically the book is based on the premise of this scripture in Ephesians 5 v 22 - 33 where Paul was talking to married couples in the church. The main focus is on verse 33 where Paul said: "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." The author talks about why Paul had to ask husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. Shouldn't love and respect come naturally to us? The answer is: not really. Let's face it, it's quite easy to take someone for granted and stop appreciating them when they are no longer new to you. Soon, a crazy cycle develops in the relationship where wives don't feel loved, so they stop respecting their husbands, and husbands don't feel respected so they stop showing their wives love! This vicious cycle goes on and on until someone consciously breaks the cycle by stepping up and deciding to sow what the other person really needs.

The major eye-opener for me in the book was how much men desire respect from their wives. I remember during our marriage prep classes, I was told over and over again, the importance of respect and submission. Even on our wedding day, the preacher mentioned it again that respect way the way to get my husband to love me more. But somehow it didn't really click to me how and why respect was such a big deal to men. I used to wonder why, how come when the guy was toasting me back in the day, respect was not an issue, but once we get married it becomes an important ingredient. Now I know it's much more important to men than it is to women.

According to the book, men derive their sense of value from how much people (especially their spouse) shows them respect. Showing a man respect conveys the message that you cherish him, value him, honour him and esteem him above everything else. Paul gave that command to the church because women need love from their husbands just as much as men need respect from their wives. When a woman receives love from her husband, she is happy and she will do anything to please him. In the same way, when a man receives respect from his wife, he is happy and he will do anything to please her. And it flows in a circle, if a woman respects her husband unconditionally, her husband will love her too unconditionally. Note that Paul did not command women to love their husbands. He knew that it is easy for a woman to love a man, but it is a lot harder to show him respect. In fact, a woman can be so loving to her husband, that she does not realise she is being disrespectful to him!

That's all well and good, in theory. In reality, things can be a bit more complicated. I think there is a basic fear in me (and most wives) that men might take advantage of this principle of submission and respect. We worry: if I submit and respect this man unconditionally, will he not abuse that power? If he knows that I will not argue with him, will he not see that as an opportunity to bully me? Will he not start looking down on me? Can I completely trust him to make wise decisions if I allow him to always have the final say? Will I not lose some of my personality and turn into a weakling who doesn't have a mind of her own? And by the way nowadays is there not a notion of 50-50 and we are both equal before God? The bible and some chapters of the book provided my answers. In a Christian marriage wives are called to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, trusting God to guide the man to lead wisely. And men are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Men have a far greater responsibility to provide, protect and even die for their wives if need be. Wives just have to submit to their headship and respect them in return. If wives can take the first step of submitting, we can win over our husbands without a struggle. You can get what you want (love) by giving him what he wants (respect).

As I read, I thought to myself a few times: have I been unknowingly disrespectful to hubby? I would have rated myself as quite a respectful wife because I don't think I'm rude to anybody, talk less of my husband. I recognise him as the head of our home, even though we don't always agree on everything. So how can I be even more respectful? Perhaps I just wasn't showing it enough? Thankfully there were illustrations in the book that I could relate to and adapt. For example, I could be unaware that my facial expressions and tone of voice when I'm talking to him is disrespectful, even when I don't mean to be. I can be dismissive of his requests and opinions sometimes, and if he doesn't complain, I don't take them seriously. I can choose to ignore his advice and do things my own way, but expect him to bail me out when I get into trouble. Perhaps I'm too quick to judge when he does something I feel is out of line. Or I can be well-meaning in my quest to correct him when we disagree, but it comes across as harsh criticism, etc etc. (There are many more subtle or subconscious ways women disrespect their husbands but these are some I recognised in myself).

By the time I finished reading the book, I thought it was very eye-opening and I was inclined to try out some of the advice in it, but I was still not too sure if it was true how men felt about respect. So I decided to ask a friend of mine some questions. He is the most laid-back guy I know, who would never try to bully his partner. So I figured that if the respect thing works for him, then it could work for every guy. I told him about the book I had just read and asked him if it was true that men desired respect a lot more than love. Surprisingly he said yes! He explained that most men feel that they he can get love from almost any woman if they say and do the right things she wants. But a man knows that not every woman can respect him, so he is particularly drawn to the woman who shows him the most respect. (I was quite shocked at this, to be honest!). I also asked him if a man had to choose between love and respect, which one would he go for: and he said he would definitely choose respect all the way. It doesn't mean love is not important to a man, but men tend to take a woman's love for granted once they are married (cos after all, she must have loved him to agree to marry him), but he cannot take respect for granted.

After that interesting conversation, I decided to take the plunge and go the extra mile to show my husband respect. I figured, I didn't have anything to lose - if it works, great and if it doesn't, I will discard the book, no harm done. So I took on one of the recommended steps for wives in the book, which is - ask yourself before you take any action: is what I'm about to say or do going to come across as disrespectful to my husband?

I tried this for three weeks and I was thrilled at the results! Will continue this gist in my next post.

PS: I would like to ask any guys reading this post to please add their views and comments. Is respect really at the top of the list of what men want?

Sunday, June 7

Mr and Mrs Imperfect

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with GNG some weeks ago. We were talking about relationships and accepting imperfections in your partner and she suggested I should do a post about that. So here goes:

When we are single and thinking about the attributes we would like in our future partner, most of us think about the desirable things we would like. For example, we could say we want a man that is God-fearing, caring, patient, hardworking, honest, family-oriented, intelligent, etc. This is great and there is nothing wrong with setting a high standard for one's choice of future spouse. After all you are going to spend the rest of your life with this person, and you have to love them, and be proud to show them off to family and friends.

However, many of us forget that no matter how great a guy is, he will definitely come with his faults, weaknesses and imperfections. Just as in the same way, no woman is perfect and the guy too would have to deal with an imperfect wife. We don't often think about these things until we are confronted with them. I am often amused when I come across wedding websites and I read about the couple's glowing remarks about each other. Of course they both talk about the great characteristics of the other person and present them in the best possible light. Still, I know that even the happiest couples have to deal with each other's "shortcomings".

Now, please note that I am not talking about obvious major deal-breakers here. If a man totally compromises your principles on major stuff like pre-marital sex, religion, honesty, physical violence, integrity, fidelity, alcohol and substance abuse, etc, then that is a completely different issue and it is best if you try to spot those issues VERY early on, before you get into a serious relationship with him. It would certainly not be worth the heartache to start dealing with the consequences when things go wrong as a result of things that you are totally not comfortable with.

What I'm talking about are those "little" things that we would like to change in our partner but it's not really up to us if they can change. It could be things like: he doesn't know how to share his deepest feelings with you, or he doesn't like to be the first to say sorry after an argument, or perhaps he's a complete introvert and your friends think he is anti social. Maybe it's the opposite and he's so friendly and social that you feel his life is too crowded. Perhaps you like to receive gifts often and he's just not the gift-giving type. Or maybe it's something as silly as: he totally abhors any kind of physical contact when you are in public. (I know a friend of mine that said she would like to hold her fiance's hand when they are out together but he doesn't like it! But apart from that, she's totally fine with him).

These are things that don't mean he is a bad guy, and they could stem from many things, either the way he has been brought up, his experiences in his previous relationships, things he observed in other people's relationships and many other things that could have shaped his views. The same thing goes for you as the lady. You are a great person no doubt, but you have also been shaped by many factors that make up the totality of who you are.

I read somewhere that the 80:20 principle comes into play here. Since nobody is perfect, you are never going to find somebody that is 100 percent good 100 percent of the time. (Only God is good all the time!) So the rule is that you are most likely to meet someone that ticks 80 percent of the criteria on your list. If you fall in love with that person, you then have to deal with the remaining 20 percent that is missing. It could also mean that you two are perfect for each other, 80 percent of the time.

Now imagine that you have found the man of your dreams and he is everything a girl could ever wish for. He is God-fearing, generous, intelligent, well educated, considerate, an excellent cook, got a great sense of humour and good looking to boot. But he has a few minor flaws, he's a bit of a workaholic and he chews his food really noisily, so how do you deal with it? Especially once you get married and you are confronted with these issues over and over again? (I would like to hear your answers please!)

Let me give you a personal example. Hubby is the best man in the world (yep!) but he doesn't usually compliment me on how I look. It used to annoy me a lot before, especially when I make an extra effort to look fab and he says nothing. But when we are out, I get compliments from everyone else and I wonder if he just doesn't notice. I brought it up one day in conversation and he said he would try to give me compliments more often. I can't say he does it a lot now, but oh well *shrugs*. I've learnt to ignore it and compliment myself when I look in the mirror. I've also had to learn how to receive compliments from other people without holding it against hubby. Hopefully one day he'll change, if I'm patient enough but what if he doesn't? I can't do anything about it, that's something I've come to accept. In the meantime, I know for sure that he's having to cope with my own flaws too. I'm not the most organised person in the world, and he has to work around that. I'm not likely to change into Martha Stewart anytime soon!

L - Listen
O - Overlook
V - Value
E - Encourage

(I'm guessing overlooking imperfections is a major part of love!)

Have a great week!

Friday, April 10

Date Ideas for Couples

It's the long Easter weekend! While we remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should also remember the message of sacrifice and love behind it. And remember to integrate them into our daily lives.

Last week, hubby and I were having a discussion on how we spend our "quality time" together. He had been very busy lately with his work, and as a result we were spending less time together as a couple. Also, even when we had some time together, we had more or less gotten into a rut, doing the same things over and over again. Not good, I thought. So I went to look for some more ideas to give us a breath of fresh air. I found a few on the internet and I'm happy to share them with you guys!
So on that note, if you are blessed to have the whole Easter break to spend with your significant other, and you are struggling to think of what to do, here are some inexpensive date ideas for you.


Cook a low budget meal together. If you choose dishes and ingredients wisely, it costs a lot less than going out to dinner. In addition, the act of cooking together will add romance and creativity to the night.

Have a board game night at your home. Monopoly is always a favourite, or you can try a new one. The winner gets a "prize" that you predetermine.

Have a sensual evening. Soak in the bathtub, and take turns giving each other massages afterwards.

Put on a CD of your favourite music and dance in your living room. Or you can make your own compilations, choose a nice mix so that you can have a funky dance and well as a slow, romantic one.

Set up a scavenger hunt for your love around your house. Give them clues to where you have hidden a small gift for them.

Bake a huge chocolate chip cookie and put a romantic message on it with icing, like "I'm sweet on you" or "You're my sweetie." Then have fun eating your treat!

Have a dinner at home where all the food and decorations are the same color. That should get your creative and digestive juices going.

Read the Guinness Book of World Records together, and find something the two of you could potentially achieve as a couple.

Have a movie night in, challenging each other to bring a flick within the allotted theme of the night – such as worst movie of all time or the best classic you’ve never heard of. You could even go so far as to make a weekend out of it and create your own personal Oscars screening or private themed film festival.

Write a poem or compose a song together.

Gather some information on a skill you always wanted to learn and spend a day practicing it together. It could be a day of learning card tricks or learning how to juggle. Any skill you have always wanted to try can make a fun and interesting date.

Make life lists together. This activity is fun in and of itself but it lets you brainstorm ideas for future low-cost dates. You’ll get to know yourselves and each other better and you’ll get new ideas for things to do together in the months to come.


Take dancing lessons together. It could be salsa, swing dancing or any other, and it is a lot of fun. Frequently you can get a discount for couples. In addition, you learn something new together and have a new skill you can employ on future date nights!

The park is a great place for good dates. Alternatively, spend some time playing around on the playground for a nostalgic good time.

Go to an amusement park together or with a group of friends. It is exciting and you’ll really feel the rush of adrenaline.

Concerts are expensive but there are many small venues that have live music for free. Find the places in your area that offer this because it makes for a great low-cost date.

Spend a day together at the beach. It is a low-cost date and a good way to find out about the other person. You can snorkel and explore sea life, collect sea shells and driftwood, go for a swim, or have a rock skipping contest.

Coffee shops and bars around the nation host weekly open mic poetry nights that are fun to attend. Be a good date and write a love poem to read to the person that you’re taking to this event.

Get active. Exercise is good for your body and it gives you those good feelings. Go for activities like swimming, jogging, hiking, and cycling together.

Skip the big dinner out and just get dessert, coffee or ice cream and happy hour dates.

Go to the theatre and see a play. You can always get better seats if you ring up in advance and tell them it's a first date, or even better, tell them you are on your honey moon.

Go ice-skating together. This is a great date idea, especially if you are both beginners.

If you both are avid readers, go to a book signing, attend a poetry or book reading together. Most of these events are free, and you’ll learn something new to discuss over coffee later.

Take a class together of any kind. E.g. cooking, painting, crafts, music, ceramics etc.

Take your camera and pretend you are professional photographers. Make a day out of taking photos together. Make a theme for the day if you want or just take any crazy photo that comes to mind. Once finished create a memory album together for the day that will live on forever.

Go bowling together. You don't have to be good at bowling (or any sport) to have fun with your sweetheart doing it.

Go on a tour of a local industry. There are plenty of great tours to suit just about anyone, from wine and cheese tasting to chocolate making and of course, eating!

Go to a roof top or revolving restaurant. Eating outdoors always makes things more memorable, just remember to make a booking first.

If you know how to ride a motorbike, take your date for a ride somewhere scenic or at night time in the city.

Go to your local jazz club and relax. Everyone loves jazz.

Go to the zoo. Most zoo's have nigh time exhibits or exhibits out of the norm for people to see.

Go canoeing and have a picnic lunch somewhere, by the waterfront or park. Find out what your date likes to eat and bring all their favourite foods.

Go window shopping in a trendy part of town, just don't buy anything expensive!

Go for a bike ride (get a bike built for two for something special).

Go on a "progressive dinner" date (Starters at one place, dinner at another, and dessert at still another place.)

Go to Starbucks, grab a latte and have a conversation. Take a pack of cards with you for added fun. One of the best date ideas there is.

Dress up all fancy and go to a play, opera, symphony or just a nice place for dinner. Alternatively, you could go to a photo studio to have your pictures taken. Then you can choose the best prints.

Hope these ideas would get us excited about holidays and times that we spend together with our spouse. It's important to remember to create time for each other to reconnect often, after the busyness and routines of our daily lives.
Have a wonderful Easter, try not to overdose on the hot cross buns and chocolate eggs!


Saturday, March 21

Resolving Conflicts - Understanding Differences

The beginning of a new relationship is often fun and exciting. When you are just getting to know someone, everything is fresh and exciting. You tolerate each other and you may even enjoy hearing another point of view. You often notice how much you and the person have in common. You both seem so compatible, it's unreal.

However, as you settle into a long-term relationship, it's often surprising how quickly differences in our personalities seem to appear from nowhere. Or the very things that attracted us to the other person suddenly become annoying. Sometimes this can lead to conflict and resentment builds up in the relationship and we wonder how we were attracted to the person in the first place.

This was certainly true for my relationship with hubby. In the beginning, I was amazed at how much we had in common, how we would often agree on opinions and personal convictions, how our life goals seemed to match perfectly and so on. It was much later that I noticed that we are actually very different people in some areas, and the way we see things can also be very different too.

Fortunately, the differences in our personalities can be a good thing. I've realised that in marriage, we don't need a clone of ourselves, we need two different sides of the coin. Our relationships will become boring if the other person just agreed with everything we say and do all the time. Furthermore, since I am not perfect and I have flaws, it means I need someone who complements me so that he can help me with the areas I struggle with. That's why people say opposites attract - we instinctively get drawn to somebody who has the strengths where we have the weaknesses and vice-versa.

In order to deal with the differences between us, we first need to realise that we cannot change someone else, no matter what we do. We can nag, grumble, shout or complain all the time, but ultimately we can only change ourselves. In trying to get someone else to take your point of view, we risk missing the point. I have had to remind myself many times that hubby is not me, he will never be me and I cannot get him to change unless he really wants to.

I read this quote somewhere:

"A relationship will not work if we try to force someone into our way of thinking. Making a marriage work is not about resenting or tolerating your partner's differences. It's about treasuring them"

There are many areas where couples find that they have different personalities and views. For example: Spending vs Saving, Introvert vs Extrovert, Early Bird vs Night Owl, Prefer Going Out vs Prefer Staying In, Neat vs Messy, Logical vs Intuitive etc. This is by no means an exhaustive list since every one is different, so every relationship is unique.

I'll talk about three issues that I have realised the differences between hubby and I, but there are lots more. It's up to every couple to figure out what their differences are, and work out how to resolve them. As usual, communication is key, and it goes a long way in resolving many issues.

Money: I've heard so often that money is usually one of the main areas of conflict in marriages. This could stem from the different ways we approach money - do we spend it or save it? If one person is naturally a spender, it means they are better at buying things and allocating money to match their needs. If one person is naturally a saver, it means they are better at budgeting and saving for the future and they hesitate to spend money unless they really need to. Now in most marriages, each person will be one or the other. Conflicts can arise when one person assumes that their approach is better than the other's, when in truth, we need both approaches to get a better, and more balanced view of our money.
I'm more of a spender and hubby is a saver, and we used to have arguments about money, but after a while, we realised that both skills are equally useful. I'm better at shopping for groceries and things we need around the house, buying gifts for friends and family and planning our leisure times. Hubby is better at making an budget and balancing our spending versus savings. Utilising both skills means that we can embrace our strengths and work better together.

Structure: Naturally, I'm laid back while hubby is a planner. For example, he plans everything ahead of time, he knows what he will be doing everyday for the next few days, weeks and even months! I'm a go-with-the-flow person so I often don't have my exact days planned out according to a schedule. We used to have disagreements on this matter a lot, for example when we are planning a holiday. Because neither approach is perfect, we have had to adjust to each other. I used to resent it before, but now I realise he is helping me to be better organised, while I help him to be more flexible and adaptable if things don't go according to plan.

Leisure Time: When we are not working and want to take some time out of our routines, have a date, or chill out, we have to decide on what to do. I like going out while hubby prefers staying in. I might suggest we should see a movie, have dinner out, go for a walk, a concert or anything - as long as we get out of the house. Hubby might suggest that we should rent a movie instead, play a board game or have a romantic meal for two at home. Sometimes I find that I practically have to drag him out, but he ended up enjoying the outing. Or sometimes he convinces me that we should stay in and we ended up having a cosy evening at home. We both have to make allowances for each other's preferences so that we enjoy trying something new that we may never have considered doing.

As with most things in relationships, understanding each other requires tons of communication, patience and a willingness to coompromise. But the benefits are great: we complement each other instead of fighting, and we develop greater intimacy. That's well worth it!

As always, stay blessed and favoured!

~ Tolerance and celebration of individual differences is the fire that fuels lasting love ~ Tom Hannah


Saturday, February 28

Resolving Conflicts - How to Fight Fair

Here's a quote I read in a book once:

"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret"

No matter how wonderful a relationship is, and in marriage especially, there will inevitably be conflicts. Arguments, disagreements, miscommunication and unmet expectations are inevitable, because marriage brings two totally different people together. We have different backgrounds, different personalities, desires, views, priorities and different opinions. We do need to keep in mind though, that conflicts are not necessarily destructive, in fact they are potentially beneficial, because understanding and intimacy can grow if we resolve conflicts fairly. Hubby and I rarely have major battles on our hands, but once in a while, minor conflicts arise and I'm learning how to deal with them.

Hubby and I have had situations where a simple case of miscommunication leads to an argument. Then I am upset or angry and I feel I have to confront the issue otherwise there will be tension between us for ages. I've learnt that I can either attack the issue, ignore it and hope it will go away or try to discuss and negotiate. Of course the first two options are not ideal. Attacking the other person usually becomes counter-productive because they become defensive and unwilling to give up their position especially if they feel they are equally right too. On the other hand, if I choose to ignore it, resentment builds up and I'll probably explode at some point over a minor issue totally unrelated to the first one. So the best way to resolve a conflict is to bring it out into the open, be willing to express myself without judging or accusing hubby and making an effort to listen to his point of view. It helps too, if we talk without raising our voices because that helps us to really put thought into the words we speak. I've realised that yelling in anger does nothing except to further inflame an argument.

Then there's the issue of timing. There is no "perfect" time to air a grievance or start a difficult conversation. But if I really need to talk to hubby about something that has upset me, I should think about the ideal time to bring it up. Usually that is when both of us are calm and quite rational, not in a hurry, not too tired to listen or getting ready to go out. Sometimes it's better to let the issue rest for a day or so and talk about it after we've both had time to reflect on what went wrong. That helps us to understand where the other person is coming from.

Here's another quote:

In marriage, there are two phrases you must avoid at all costs: "you always" and "you never"

Why is that? Because once you start a discussion with either of those two phrases, you are automatically accusing the other party of some failure on their part. And it means we have stopped attacking the issue, instead we are now attacking the person. Imagine hearing stuff like this all the time:

"You never help me around the house"
"You are always grumbling about your job"
"You never spend quality time with me"
"You always come home late"

It doesn't mean there is no truth in these statements, but it has been distorted and exaggerated. It's better to express those feelings in a more productive and less accusatory way for example:

"I would really appreciate it if you helped me around the house a bit more"
"It upsets me to know that you are very unhappy about your job"
"I miss spending quality time with you, let's set aside some time to reconnect"
"I feel frustrated when you arrive home late. Would you please call me to let me know if you are going to be held up?"

This way, you are not attacking them, just honestly expressing your feelings about something. Also without the accusatory tone, the second set of statements make it easier for the other person to respond positively and try to find a solution. And ultimately that's what resolving conflicts should be about: working together to find solutions to issues we have to deal with.

That sums up the topic I want to discuss in this post and my next one. I won't claim that I have fully grasped the concept of resolving conflicts amicably all the time. What I will say is that I've noticed that when hubby and I have misunderstandings, I am calmer and more able to resolve things peacefully after I have prayed and asked God for wisdom. Sometimes God makes me realise that I can't hold grudges against hubby indefinitely. Sometimes God helps me to see things from a different perspective, so that I understand that things can't always go my way. And sometimes God gives me the courage to admit that I'm wrong and I need to change a particular flaw in my character. More about this topic in my next post!

As always, stay blessed and favoured.


Saturday, February 14

A Valentine's Day Poem


Last night I fell in love with you
All over again,
More deeply in love,
Than ever before.
No one has ever expressed their love for me
With such beautiful and kind words.

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again,
With such stronger faith
Than ever before.
Knowing that you will always be there for me
When dark shadows enter my life.

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again
With a stronger friendship
Than ever before
When ever I need a tender shoulder to cry on
I know you will wipe away the tears

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again
With more respect
Than ever before
I look up to you and admire your strength
In turn you have strengthen me

Last I fell in love with you
All over again
With such care
Than ever before
Now I truly believe how much you care for me
You have given me life.

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again
With more happiness
Than ever before
You have brought back to me smiles and laughter
Through your loving eyes.

Last night I fell in love with you
All over again
With more love
Than ever before
For the first time in a long time
I have really felt love.

Author: Cheryl Hornbeck

Saturday, February 7

Lessons From Time Apart

I was in Lagos this past Christmas break for three weeks. I went with my sisters and it was one big, happy family reunion. It was so much fun - an escape from the freezing weather in the UK , time spent with family and friends, weddings and parties to attend, reunions and get-togethers and lots of other cool activities. The only thing missing was that I wanted Mr to come with me, but he couldn't make it due to work commitments. We did try to stay in touch by phone everyday though.

Spending time apart wasn't bad though. I learnt a thing or two about my relationship with hubby while we were apart. I had a few hilarious reactions and experiences with people I met in Nigeria. Family and friends who knew I was married would ask: "Where is Mr?", "Why is he not here?", "How could you leave your husband alone in the cold to enjoy yourself in Lagos?" etc etc. But the funniest reactions I got were from people I was meeting for the first time.

The day after I arrived, I went to a party with my very good friend. Her friend was hosting a get-together and she didn't want to go alone so I tagged along with her. I didn't know anyone there, so I left her to make all the introductions. After some time, a guy came to talk to me. He seemed interesting and he was quite good looking and we were having a good conversation. When I told him I was married, and he did a double take and looked at my left hand. Then the started asking me questions like: "What, you're married?", "Are you sure?" ,"Where is your husband?", "How long have you been married?", "How come your husband let you travel on your own?". Then he also made comments like: "If I had a wife like you, I won't let her out of my sight". And my personal favourite: "You don't look married". I found these comments hilarious. I often don't know how to react when people say I don't look married. I wonder, how do married people look? Is there supposed to be a sign on my forehead to show that I am married?

Anyway we continued talking and then I suddenly realised something. I was enjoying the gist because it was a "getting to know you" conversation. You know the kind of conversation you have with someone you have just recently met, when you are keen to know how this person thinks, what they like and dislike, what they do, where they are coming from, etc. When it was time for us to leave the party, the guy was very reluctant to let me go, he kept asking for my number and arranging another meeting. I had no intention of calling or seeing him again in the future so I mumbled some stories and scampered off!

But later on I reflected on that meeting. I hadn't realised I was missing something in my relationship with hubby and that was the "newness". We have been together for almost seven years - that's including our dating years. I realised it had become easy for us to take each other for granted. So I determined that when I got back, I would put an effort into really getting to know him again - take him on a date or a holiday and "toast" him all over again. I don't think we can fully capture the freshness of a new meeting but we can take a step back and appreciate each other through new eyes.

About a week later, I went to another party with my friend again and when we got there, she introduced me a group of guys and one of them promptly attached himself to me. He was really nice, friendly and welcoming, offering to get me something to eat and drink. At first I thought he was being nice and hospitable so I didn't think much of it. As time went on, we got talking and I found out he was married too, but his wife was not at the party. I whispered to my friend that he's a bit of a flirt and she said he was only joking so I played along, chatting with him and allowing him to call me "his new girlfriend". He was funny and interesting to talk to at first. Things started taking a different turn when he started paying me suspicious compliments, saying he wishes he had met me before my husband, my name rhymes much better with his own surname and would I consider leaving Mr and marrying him instead. I asked him about his wife, and he was rather dismissive so I thought to myself, I think I better stop talking to this guy so he doesn't get the wrong message (I had heard enough stories about guys in Nigeria preferring to sleep with married girls nowadays because apparently they would not be bugging them for a serious commitment!). But the attention he was paying me was rather flattering on some level so I didn't say anything.

However I knew I was in trouble when we were dancing and he started getting too close for my comfort. Then he started asking for my UK mobile number! I snapped out of my daydream at once. What was he thinking? Like I would really give him my number and start carrying out a long-distance affair or something? Besides he is married too, so what about his own wife? I was so glad when my friend decided it was time to leave the party and I could escape. Imagine people present there thinking I was some kind of husband snatcher or worse!
Thinking about it later, I felt I didn't do anything wrong but perhaps I should have made it clear to him from the start instead of encouraging his advances. I learnt that I shouldn't let my guard down when I'm not with hubby. It may seem a bit extreme but it can prevent a whole lot of heart ache later.

On a funny note though, I reflected on how easy it would have been for someone in my shoes to have an affair in Lagos within such a short trip. And this is just a tip of the iceberg. Once I was accosted by a Lebanese guy in Shoprite.....

May God help all of us to keep our promises to Him and to our spouse.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 1

Happy 2009!

Happy New Year folks! I pray that 2009 will be a wonderful year for everyone. I pray you achieve your dreams and goals for the year, I pray that you will be in wonderful health throughout the year, I pray for success, peace and above all, I pray that each of us draws closer to God and His purpose for our lives this year. Amen!

Thanks for being wonderful readers of my blog in 2008. I know I didn't update as often as I should have, naughty me. Thanks for your lovely comments and to my silent readers, I still appreciate you!

I've been away from this blog for a while and for that I apologise. I have been in Nigeria for the last three weeks. I didn't get a chance to come online often so I didn't update any of my blogs in that time. I just returned yesterday so I'll get round to sorting myself out and back on my regular routines. In the meantime, I wish you a blessed month of January 2009!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...