Holiday Stress is coming to Town

Do you find yourself making a list and checking it twice?  Isn’t that Santa’s job?  With so much to do in such a short time it is easy to double book parties, forget the vanilla extract yet again, lose the address of your favorite client, and spend too much money all before noon today.  The Holidays are here and so is the added stress of more stuff, more money, more places to be, more people to see, and more pounds to gain.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Instead of making just another “to do” list, make yourself a different type of list establishing your limitations well in advance.  You can call it your Naughty List (what not to do) and Nice List (what to do).

Naughty List.

  1. Overspending your budget just because…
  2. Being unrealistic about the amount of time an activity will take or a visit with family will last.
  3. Failing to communicate your plans with others so they can plan accordingly.
  4. Trying out a recipe out for the first time to bring to your office party.  The expectation that everything will go perfectly and it will taste fantastic is unrealistic.  Instead bring a dish that you already know works.
  5. Increasing your project load at home when you have less free time to complete it.  If you want to make new decorations, make them after the season for next year rather than now when time is already short.
  6. Overdoing the decorations, enough said.
  7. Overbuying for you.  That red sweater you wore last year is still good and you really don’t need a new one.
  8. Being a Scrooge.  Just because money is short doesn’t mean that you have to announce it to the world and remind everyone about your struggles.
  9. Calories unfortunately do count during the Holidays.  That piece of fudge is still the same amount of calories during the Holidays as it is in the summer.
  10. Feeling guilty.  No one can make you feel guilty unless you let them so except your limitations and set better boundaries.
  11. Minimizing the impact of a major life change over the past year.  Any major life change such as a death, divorce, marriage, birth of a child or move significantly changes the way the Holidays will be spent.  If you have had a change over the past year, acknowledge it and plan for the Holidays to reflect the change.
  12. Setting unreasonable expectations for yourself, your spouse, and your family.

Nice List.

  1. Take time out for yourself and rest during the Holidays.  Plan one day to be free from all commitments and enjoy the season.
  2. Reconnect with an old friend.
  3. Extend the free gift of forgiveness to someone in your life.
  4. Revisit the true meaning of the Holidays instead of the commercial meaning.
  5. Give a plant, some food, some time, or some expertise instead of another useless gift.  These gifts are far more valuable.
  6. Create a new tradition.  Instead of all the running around, plan to spend one day with just immediate family and stay in your P.J.’s all day watching old movies and playing games.
  7. Give the gift of humor and learn to laugh at yourself.  This is a great stress reliever.
  8. Before you go to a party set limits on the amount you will eat and drink.  Be reasonable, realistic, and practical about your temptations.
  9. Technology can be a wonderful thing.  Skype a family member that you can’t visit because of the distance.
  10. The older members of your family are likely to feel lonely during the Holidays so plan on extra time with them and patiently listen to them reliving the past.  This is a free gift that will mean far more than a material gift.
  11. Reach outside of your world and touch the lives of those less fortunate than you by volunteering to deliver meals, giving your lunch to the homeless person on the side of the road, providing a bike for a kid in need, or donating clothing that is unused.
  12. Pray.  Pray for your family, pray for your friends, pray for neighbors, pray for your co-workers, pray for your country, pray for those serving in the military, pray for those being persecuted, pray for those who are starving, pray for those who are dying, and most especially pray for those causing harm to others.  Prayer works.  Prayer lasts a long time.  Prayer creates peace.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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Out of Troubles Comes Wisdom in Handling Money

Bankruptcy Filings...

Bankruptcy Filings… (Photo credit: MyEyeSees)

He was the responsible one, the one everyone depended on because they knew he would come through.  He was determined, focused, ambitious, reliable, detail-oriented and motivated yet here he sits having to make one of the hardest decisions in his life, one that would forever tarnish his reputation.  It is the decision to file for bankruptcy.  There is a part of him that intellectually knows it must be done as the numbers don’t allow for any other alternative yet there is another part of him that is not willing to admit failure.  And that is exactly how he sees it, as failure and a blemish to his name which will never be forgotten.

No amount of mutual bankruptcy filers including various famous or successful people seem to calm his anxiety or set him further at ease.  No amount of verbal encouragement from a variety of friends and family seem to lift his spirits.  And no amount of logical detailed analysis seems to ease the perfectionist standard that will be forever lost when the paperwork is complete.  There is virtually nothing that can be said or done to reduce the intense emotions of the moment; depression, discouragement, and disheartenment have made a home where the bankruptcy left a wound.

This is precisely why God allowed the Israelites the ability to be free from their debts every seven years because He knew the burden of debt unable to be repaid.  In Deuteronomy 15:1, it states, “At the end of every seventh year you must cancel the debts of everyone who owes you money.”  He explains the reason for the cancellation of debt as a desire not to have any of the Israelites classified as poor.  And having excessive debt does result in a poor economic class of people within Israel.  He further states that if the debt is forgiven, the person forgiving the debt will receive a blessing as a result.  The same lesson is then applied to slaves, asking the Hebrew people to release their slaves every six years as a reminder of God freeing the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians.

Debt binds you to the debtor.  If the debtor decides to call the loan, which they can, and you are unable to pay the consequences could be devastating.  Habakkuk 2:7 states, “Suddenly, your debtors will take action.  They will turn on you and take all you have, while you stand trembling and helpless.”  This fear lives deep in the heart of everyone who takes on debt whether or not they acknowledge it is an entirely different story.  This is why God does not want His people to be bound to debt.  He has given us freedom from sin through Jesus Christ and wants us to remain in His freedom, not intentionally binding ourselves up to a new master even if it is the “American dream”.  The wisdom that comes from bankruptcy is the wisdom of the true meaning of freedom.  Once you have tasted it, you are not likely to be satisfied with anything else.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Importance of Win-Win Arguments in Your Marriage

Win, Lose or Draw

Win, Lose or Draw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You are having that same argument about money again.  One person believes the money needs to be spent and the other person believes the money should be saved.  Sometimes the argument is spoken out loud and sometimes the argument is done silently, nonetheless the same argument is replayed over and over.  If the spender gets their way then they are happy to have won this round, if the saver gets their way then they are happy to have won.  In both cases the opposing spouse often feels like the loser of the argument desperately trying to figure out how to win the next round.

Everyone falls into this trap sometime; maybe the issue is manifests differently but the pattern is the same.  The problem is not the issue per say, but rather the outcome.  There are three possible outcomes to any argument: win-lose, lose-lose and win-win.  However, in a marriage only two of the three outcomes are really possible.

Lose-Lose.  In lose-lose outcomes, both spouses walk away feeling as if nothing was resolved and words were unnecessarily spoken.  The argument may have escalated beyond the issue into past behavior, words, and/or feelings or additional unrelated topics may have entered the argument.  Lose-Lose outcomes occur when both sides lose track of the topic and begin the finger-pointing game.  The reality is that both of you are on the same team in a marriage so every lose-lose argument becomes destructive rather than constructive.

Win-Lose.  In win-lose outcomes, if one of you feels like they have lost, then in actuality both of you have lost because a marriage is a team of two people.  One spouse trying to get the upper hand of the other is like pampering your right hand over your left.  Even if one hand does more work than the other, both are equally important while serving separate functions.  So when one spouse walks away from the argument feeling like they have not been heard, there is no real agreement and the win-lose outcome becomes a lose-lose outcome.

Win-Win.  In win-win outcomes, both spouses feel heard, feel safe, feel valued, and feel respected.  This is by far the most time-consuming outcome of the three but it is also the most rewarding and will strengthen your marriage in the process.  As the win-win concept becomes a goal in your arguments, you will find that it takes less and less work to reach the outcome because you have already laid out the ground work for mutual understanding.  Notice that the win-win outcome is not about who is right but rather about each of you feels at the end.  One spouse maybe right all along but how they value the other spouse’s opinion or perspective makes all the difference.

As a side note, submission in a marriage is not about winning or losing in an argument, rather it is a gift of trust given from the heart just as loving unconditionally is a gift given from the heart.  A person demanding submission or love misses out on the true value of the gift just like a child demanding a present misses out on the joy of receiving something unexpected.  Once demanded, it does not satisfy quite like the unexpected gift.

Striving for win-win outcomes in your arguments is a struggle but in the end it is worth the effort.  So the next time you are tempted to end the argument by railroading over your spouse, stop and consider the value of your team.  If your marriage is important to you, then the extra time to make it work is well worth it.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Joining of Your Money in Marriage

One of the hardest areas for most couples to agree is in the area of money and finances.  In fact, most divorces are the result of disagreements over money that date back to the beginning of their marriage.  Failing to plan for your finances to be joined together is a recipe for disaster.  There are many financial courses available to you such as Financial Peace University and Crown Ministries both of which lay a solid financial base and should be considered within the first year of your marriage.  Until then, here are a couple of potential differences in your financial perspective to discuss and compare notes.  By spending time now understanding each other’s perspective, some of the tension involving money can be minimized.

Different socioeconomic backgrounds.  You may not have grown up in the same zip code or come from the same financial background.  Some families tend to be savers and some tend to be spenders, your family’s financial background has already influenced your finances.  And while your family’s perspective on money may be different from you, imagine the tension that can be created if your spouse to be has an entirely different background experience.  The discussion topic to have is what is your family’s experience with money and how has that experience affected your financial decisions.

Different financial goals.  Having financial goals like how much money do you want saved, when and where would you like to retire, and what annual salary are you striving to achieve are just a small sample of goals that you should be discussing.  After all, each of you already has a financial goal which should become a shared goal between the two of you.  Some financial goals may be more defined and specific than others; one of you is likely to be a bit more detailed.  But if your spouse to be says that they don’t have a financial goal then their goal is really to allow others, including the financial markets, to dictate their life.  This is not a healthy goal upon which two people should be joined.

Different spending habits.  More than likely, one of you will be a spender and the other a saver.  Determine now who is which and who is going to be in charge of managing your finances.  The saver is the best choice for managing the money as they are better at long-term planning then the spender.  Both of you should begin now to put together a budget that you can agree on that is consistent with your financial goals.  Discuss and agree now on how money will be spent from each paycheck and how much money will be saved.  There are many guidelines out there for budgeting but the best one is the one that works for you and is easy to stick with every month.

Different checking accounts.  Right now you have different checking accounts and different monthly expenses.  Soon you will need to decide how and if the accounts will be joined together into one account or several different accounts.  Whether or not the accounts are jointly held, both of you needs to have access to the accounts including the balances at all times.  If not, one person may believe that the other is hiding money from them.  This breeds distrust and disunity.  Discuss now what accounts you will keep at which banks and how to give both of you access to the balances on a monthly if not daily basis.

While there are many more issues to address with joining your finances together, this list is a good place to start as you begin the merging process.  It is likely that the above topics will cause some disagreement already but that is precisely what it is designed to do because if you agree on these topics now, it will greatly reduce the tension later.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.