Flowers are the quintessential romantic gift. Do you know how to pick the most romantic flowers for your anniversary? For a surprise gesture? For a birthday? In this guest post florist Lisa Bernshaw explains the traditional meaning behind flowers to help you pick the best bunch.
Giving flowers has been one of the most romantic and heartfelt gestures now for thousands of years. Just as you might give flowers to a loved one today so too did the Ancient Romans or Egyptians before you. Of course flowers have stood the test of time and proven so popular mostly because of their beauty – but there is more to it than that. Continue reading How to Pick the Most Romantic Flowers for Anniversaries and More
Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW, is a psychotherapist who specializes in helping couples overcome loss and manifest their potential. She is the author of Transcending Loss, Claim Your Inner Grown-up, and her latest book, Shortcuts to Inner Peace: 70 Simple Paths to Everyday Serenity. She also manages several loss support communities on Facebook. In this guest post for PO2 Ashley shares insight into staying connected as a couple through the grieving process.
In the brilliant 2010 movie, “Rabbit Hole,” Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart play a bereaved couple who are driven apart by their grief after they lose their young son in a tragic accident. While the mother draws inward and wishes to hide from her memories, the father wants to attend grief groups, talk endlessly, and memorialize his son.
The grieving process — with its mixture of pain, sadness, hopelessness, longing, anger, guilt, confusion, and disorientation – is one of our most universal experiences. Thankfully, we won’t all know the searing pain of losing a child, yet we will all know the grief of losing grandparents, parents, pets, friends, and even siblings.
While individuals have different styles of grieving, it is generally considered healthy to be able to tolerate, honor, and express emotions. When you’re grieving with a partner (who may or may not be feeling the same degree of grief), coping with your feelings can be quite a challenge.
How a couple handles their array of grief feelings has the potential to either drive them apart or draw them closer together. The following guidelines offer help for managing the intense, lifelong impact of grief. These are important to remember not only for an individual’s mental health, but also for the sake of the relationship.
1. Speak honestly
Be truthful about your experience and what you’re feeling during your grieving process. It may be that you want time alone to process or write in a journal. Or perhaps you need time to talk with your partner about what’s going on inside. Speak from your heart and be honest about what you need.
2. Listen to your partner’s feelings
Listen with an open heart to whatever it is that your partner is experiencing. Don’t take anything personally and be willing to offer them space when they need it and/or a listening ear when necessary.
3. Support your partner in his/her process
Although you and your partner may have different styles of how you grieve, try to support your partner’s preferences (even if they are quite different from your own). If you like to display photographs of your dearly departed but your partner finds them upsetting, keep pictures visible to you but private (such as on your desk, in your car, or on your bureau).
4. Honor the loss
Talk about the loss and don’t be afraid to reminisce. You may want to light a candle, for example, at special dinners/holidays to commemorate a person who is no longer present.
5. Stay intentionally connected as a couple
Even if you find that you want to experience your grief privately, find ways to stay connected with your loved one. Let them know that you still love them, care about them, and appreciate their presence. Stay connected through the grieving process with hugs, touch, texts, words of encouragement, and tokens of love.
At the end of the film “Rabbit Hole”, the two main characters find their way back to each other in spite of their different grieving styles. This was an intentional choice on their part aided by their desire to embrace life. One of the urgent lessons that loss has to teach is that life is fragile and must be savored. If you can take that lesson to heart and honor each other in the process, you may find that the grieving process – whenever it occurs – has the potential to knit a fabric of intimacy and intensity that you’ve never before experienced.
This is a Power of Two guest post by Lori Lowe, a blogger providing help for marriage at MarriageGems.com and author of FIRST KISS TO LASTING BLISS: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage due out Dec. 8th at http://www.loridlowe.com/firstkissbook.html. This book chronicles the journey of multiple couples as they struggle, find joy, and grow their marriages.
After the death of their infant son, John and Kathy Eubanks were more than devastated. The parents weren’t even comforted with a complete explanation for his condition, which led to multiple organ failure. Because of this lack of information, they weren’t sure if they could or should have other children. The lactating mom, Kathy, was hormonal and extremely emotional. John soon returned to work where he saw little sympathy from coworkers, many of whom didn’t even acknowledge his loss.
Their marriage became strained. Kathy stopped sleeping at night and suffered from depression. John stopped attempting to comfort her. They grieved separately and took turns turning to alcohol to numb their pain. They lacked compassion for the other’s feelings. They ate dinner in silence.
Nine months later, John returned home to Kathy crying again and said, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” He says he meant that it was very hard to see her suffering. However, Kathy interpreted his comment to mean, “If you don’t get happy, I will leave.” She was convinced divorce was imminent because of her assumption.
The Eubanks are one of twelve couples whose stories are featured in my new book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. All the couples face various tests and decisions, and all of them find help for marriage and a happy ending. The Eubanks’ case may be unusual for its level of despair, but the misunderstanding itself is all too common in marriage.
How often do you hear your spouse say something and assume a meaning that wasn’t intended? It happens to my husband and me frequently. As we unravel a dispute, I’ll tell him what my understanding was, and he’ll say, “How did you get that? That’s not what I said.” The truth is that even as married couples who think we know each other enough to read one another’s minds, we cannot.
Power of Two calls this confusion of what-I-think-you-think, and visa versa, “Spaghetti Talk.” To avoid misunderstandings, talk only about yourself. Ask clarifying questions when necessary. For example, “I thought you said x, what did you say?” Each person can clearly state their feelings, and usually this leads to a common understanding. I know it is a helpful process for me.
And it’s exactly how the Eubanks family ended their misunderstanding. One day Kathy confronted her husband and asked, “Are you planning to divorce me?” (Remember that was her assumption due to his earlier statement.) John was taken by surprise and said, “No way.” It led to a breakthrough discussion where they shared their feelings and made a commitment to grieve together and to be unified in their suffering. And eventually it helped them get past their grief together. Their son, J.D., would be 18 years old today, and they know he would not have wanted their marriage to end because of his death.
There is much more to their story, including Kathy’s scary past marriage to an abusive husband, and their happy future with other children. Today, they feel their marriage is “100 times stronger” due to the fact that they weathered that storm together.
How are you misunderstanding your spouse in your communications—both big and small? Are you assuming the best in your spouse? Are you giving him or her the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are positive? Be sure to untangle the “spaghetti talk” and clarify your understanding when you are having a disagreement.
If you’d like to learn more about the Eubanks family’s journey to a great marriage, you can also read about 11 other remarkable couples who overcame many challenges, including infidelity, drug abuse, military separation, stranger rape, infertility, opposing religions, financial crises, depression, cancer, brain injury and much more. Their powerful stories can help you see your marriage with a new perspective and gain lessons and insights through their experiences. Whether you have a strong marriage and would just like to maintain and grow your relationship, or whether you are working through a difficult time, these stories have the power to change your attitudes, and change your marriage for the better.