Give This Gift To Everyone Around You

Time and again we have heard people say: can we use PLEDGE in other settings besides our marriage? And we want to shout YES YOU CAN! We have heard people using it with their children, with their friends, with their parents, in their workplace, and even in politics!

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Because of this – we are rebranding our ministry to help you use the principles of PLEDGE wherever you go. During this project, we have come up with all kinds of names and phrases we might use to describe what we do. One such phrase we considered was this: “Hear me in.” Normally we hear someone say “Please. Just hear me out!” It is often said with frustration, in an attempt to get someone to just listen. So what is meant by “hear me in?”

Recently I was struck again with the thought that everyone has a story inside them. I was saddened and convicted that too often I don’t stop to hear their story. Sometimes, I even forget there is one. Nevertheless, there are deep things going on inside each of us. There is a story about our life growing up. There is story that has been lived out in our relationships as adults.

There is story each day we could tell – if there was someone to listen.

And that’s the catch…

if there is someone to listen.

Hear me in… the pain I feel. The anger I exhibit. The depression I experience. The addiction I cannot overcome. Hear me in those moments when I attempt to open up, as feeble as it may be. Hear me in the confusion that washes over my face when you talk to me. Hear me when I am silent, not knowing what to say. Hear me when I talk non-stop, keeping you at bay.

There is story waiting to be heard at every moment, with every person.

Taking time to listen is a gift we can give day after day, every day.

It is a gift to our spouse, a gift to our children, a gift to a friend, a gift to someone we work with, a gift to our neighbor, and a gift to the stranger on the street or the check-out person in the store.

This week I had the honor and privilege of being the guest author/speaker in my wife’s class with her second graders. It was great fun! I got my little kid fix! My wife is teaching PLEDGE to these children. As I was talking to them about pausing when they are mad, I asked if they had ever heard of the Golden Rule. Most had not. I taught them about treating others just like we would want them to treat us. They didn’t like it when someone said mean things to them. They didn’t want to say mean things to others either. Instead, they just want someone to listen when they are mad or hurt.

Everything we needed to learn for life we learned in – ok, second grade.

We all just want someone to listen.

When we are mad, or hurt, or afraid, or sad, or confused, or discouraged, or excited and happy and encouraged – we want to share our story with someone – if they will just listen.

So today, look around you. Watch for those moments when someone, some where, in some way is saying: “Will you hear me in _______?”

Ask them questions like:

How are you?

What is happening?

How are you feeling about ____?

If they give you a quick, brushed off answer, say: “No I mean it. How are you really?”

And give them the gift of listening to their story!

Share with us how you listened this week!

Here’s A Perfect Valentine’s Day Idea For YOU!

Here is a simple observation: most couples love each other, but don’t know how to show it when they experience difficulties in their relationship. What do we do when we are at odds? How do we respond when hurt by the other? How are we supposed to react when we are angry?

Madly In Love

These and other such questions were the very reason I wrote the book: The PLEDGE of a Lifetime, Her Hope for Connection, His Guide Through Conflict. It has been one year since its publication. I have heard story after story from those who have read it how much they learned and how it has helped their relationships.

One person spoke of how she has read the book, and is now re-reading it because there is so much to grasp.

Many others have purchased multiple copies to give to their grown children to help in their marriages.

What do we do? How do we respond? How should we react? These and similar questions are all clearly answered in my book.

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Beyond Marriage

Using PLEDGE In Your Family

One of the questions we are inevitably asked each time we teach the Madly in Love PLEDGE Conference is: Can we use these principles in other relationships than in our marriage? Can we use them for example with our kids or extended family?

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And we always respond with a resounding: YES!!!

Here is what one of our our recent attendees said when she went home from the conference and began teaching her 4 and 7 year old:

“We started implementing this in our marriage, AND with our four young children, right away. My seven and six-year-olds are already responding positively when they see me do the pause sign during the conflict between them! Thank you for this new tool!

This same person said even further: “Even after such a short time, I’ll hear my seven-year-old son comment to himself, pause and shift, when he gets frustrated with his sister!”

Imagine similar experiences in your home:

A mother stops what she is doing when her angry daughter speaks to her. She turns towards her daughter with the intent of really listening. As the mother seeks to understand her heart, the daughter feels loved and her heart softens. Mom disarms the conflict by validating her daughter’s hurt and angry feelings. Both feel closer, thankful for the connection they experience. As the tension in the room subsides, the daughter expresses more of an openness to hear what mom has to say in response.

That same daughter begins to note the destructive nature of her words towards her mother. Convicted, she learns to pause before she speaks. She considers more carefully her words and how to express her anger, but in a loving way.

In another family, two children are playing when a conflict occurs over who grabbed the new toy first. Mom is about to intervene before either hurts the other, but before she can say anything, the older child uses a hand motion to signal they need to pause. Moments later, the children agree to give each other a turn rather than fight.

As the kids get older, each family member learns to listen well and understand each other when communicating. Each one reflects on what the other is saying, clarifying wherever needed, and valuing what is said. Imagine a family where felt love is more common than not because of the way each member relates to the other.

You say: “Is that really possible?” More than you think.

It will not be easy. It will take work. More specifically it will require that you first put the principles into action in the way you relate to your spouse and your children. After doing so, you then teach and train your children to follow after you.

There is no greater joy or satisfaction or calling than pursuing a life of love!

Learn more of the PLEDGE process and how it can positively affect and deepen your relationships here.

Mark’s Marriage Minute

Will you listen?

In chapter 1 of my book, you catch a glimpse of what many couples experience when it comes to their communication:

Mike took a breath and asked, “Okay, from what you can see in your relationship as it stands now, where do you think you need the most help?”

After a moment, Lisa spoke first, looking hesitantly at her husband, “I’d say communication. It feels like Jake never listens to me or even tries to understand what I’m dealing with. He—”

Jake immediately went on the defensive, “I don’t understand why she keeps saying that! I have heard every word she has ever said— and believe me, that’s a lot of words ’cause she never stops talking!”

Lisa turned to Mike saying, “You see? He just doesn’t get it!” and then turned back to glare at Jake. The hurt and anger between them suddenly sizzled.

Good listening so rarely takes place. Sadly, we are far more intent on being heard, than in hearing. Still, when someone takes the time to listen to us, really listen, we feel loved and truly grateful.

This Week’s Challenge:

Stop and listen—really listen—to your spouse, your child, your friend, your co-worker, and really everyone you come in contact. Observe their reaction. Make a mental note of the difference it made in the conversation, and do it again.

So, will you listen? If so, you will be well on your way to impacting those around you with a greater love!

Mark’s Marriage Minute

Dealing With Conflict...

In the opening chapter of my book you read the following story about Jake and Lisa:

“I can’t believe you’re telling me this!” yelled Jake. He knocked his chair over with a clatter and stomped toward the front door. “What did I do to deserve this?”

“Jake, come back!” cried Lisa, following him out to the driveway.

“I can’t! I have to get away and think,” growled Jake as he tried to contain his rage.

“I’m sorry! Really, I am! WAIT!” Lisa pleaded as Jake drove off, tires squealing, in his ’94 Mustang convertible.

Okay now stop a moment. Imagine this:  you are Lisa…or you are Jake. What do you do next?

Most of us really don’t know. We experience conflict and we hate it – for a number of reasons – one of them being we simply don’t know what to do when it happens!

My heart and passion is to help people find their way through difficult times like the one above. I can only help however, those who are willing to learn.

My challenge for you this week is to do one of the following to further your understanding of how to deal with conflict when it happens:

  • Ask a friend, mentor, pastor, or parent what they have learned over the years to help them deal with conflict well. Start a journal and write down what you discover.
  • Google “conflict resolution strategies” and write down what you learn.
  • Beg, borrow, or – no, don’t steal – buy my book The PLEDGE of a Lifetime and LEARN all you can about how to process conflict well in love!

10 Key Ingredients To Living At Peace With Your Spouse

If you have been reading my blog for very long at all, it would hardly be a surprise to hear that most of my life I have sought to learn principles to get through conflict in a more productive manner rather than just fighting. As an adult I formed those principles into a conflict resolution process we call PLEDGE. I use the process personally and teach it to others on a regular basis so that they might truly learn to love well.

10 KEY INGREDIENTS

More recently I have been thinking that to get the most out of the PLEDGE process, some key ingredients are necessary to put into the mix. This blog post lists those ingredients.

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Having The Same Fight Over and Over? Here’s why:

I’m not sure when it really hit me, but there it was: we were having the same conflict again that we did the week before. And the week before that, and even the one before that! What was going on? Why did we keep fighting over the same thing?

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Being a counselor who is trained to analyze complex situations, I had to figure this one out. What I eventually discovered was transformational to my marriage.

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Small Group Study Guide for The PLEDGE of A Lifetime!

I have received a number of requests from people wanting further help in using our conference material and now our book, The PLEDGE of a Lifetime, for their small group study.

Small Group Study Guide

Hence this post today–a beginning point for those who dare! I say that partially in jest, and partially not, knowing that talking about real life with others can be a bit uncomfortable. At the same time it affords some of the greatest opportunities for learning. Studying the concepts of PLEDGE in a group can be encouraging to all, as we discover the similarity of our challenges. It also provides an environment where we can learn different perspectives as we share and listen to each other.

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Three Men, Three Athletes, and Success in Your Marriage

Do you know any of these three men: David Cutliffe, Patrick Mouratoglou, or Angelo Dundee? What do they have in common with three of the top athletes of the last 60 years in our country? The answer is critical to you accomplishing the greatest desires of your heart.

3 Men

THINK: what is more important than becoming the best possible husband or wife to each other, the greatest parent to your children, and the most love-filled individual to all? Nothing! But how do we get there? To answer that we have to know who the three men are I just mentioned and what their connection is to Peyton Manning, Serena Williams, and Mohammed Ali.

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How to get the most out of The PLEDGE of a Lifetime!

When I wrote The PLEDGE of a Lifetime, I knew I wanted to convey a message that would lead couples and ultimately families down a path of rich and remarkable communication. I know there is more–MUCH MORE–we can experience in our relationships because I see it in the lives of couples I work with, and I regularly enjoy it with my wife and children.

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Zerrin and I just finished up a long weekend with two of our kids home from out of town. Several times we sat for literally hours at a time talking and listening to each other tell about the present story in each of our lives; sharing and teaching each other things we are learning in life and from God; and talking through relational challenges we face at times with each other in order to make our connections as a family even stronger. And this is the norm. I long for others to know the same experience. I believe you can…

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