Tag Archive for family bank of honor

Marriage in a Box: Nasty, Neutral, or Nice?

Every marital interaction falls into a box according to Dr. John Gottman. One box is the nasty box. Even happy couples find themselves in the nasty box sometimes. We’ve all been there—frustrated, critical, defensive, blaming, and even contemptuous. But unhappy couples get stuck in the nasty box. They live and die in the nasty box. Couples who get stuck in the nasty box have about 4 positive interactions for every 5 negative interactions. Read that sentence again. They have more negative than positive interactions. This ratio contributes to a lack of emotional connection. (For more on how to use this ratio to strengthen your marriage and family read Family Bank of Honor and Making Deposits in a Topsy-Turvy Bank.) Couples in the nasty box are not only emotionally disconnected, but they are also afraid of to express the vulnerability needed to “open up” emotionally. And they lack the skills needed to resolve conflict. No one wants to live in the nasty box. It’s…well, nasty and miserable. We all want to live in the nice box.

The nice box is filled with mutual respect, affection, cherishing, and trust. Unfortunately, no one lives in the nice box 100% of the time. But healthy couples offer expressions of repair when they step out of the nice box into the nasty box. These expressions of repair help decrease the tension during conflict and confirm their affection for one another. Repairs are made possible because each spouse is aware of the other spouse’s inner world. They respect their spouse’s inner world and respond to it in a loving way. Expressions of repair can include a smile, an open-ended question, an inside joke, a touch, a gesture…anything that communicates love and commitment.

Still, happy couples only spend part of their time in the nice box. Surprisingly, happy couples spend most of their time in the neutral box, even when having a disagreement. In fact, Dr. Gottman’s research suggests that happy couples spend 65% to 70% of their time in the neutral box. Unhappy couples spend only 47% of their time in the neutral box, leaving much more time for the nasty box. The ability of a married couple to sit with one another in the neutral box reveals a trust nurtured by engagement and responsiveness. It is the byproduct of work done in the past to proactively grow a healthy relationship.

In which box does your marriage reside? You can learn to live in neutral and nice box by learning about one another’s lives, expressing adoration toward one another on a daily basis, turning toward one another to overcome life’s obstacles and celebrate life’s joys, and planning a future of celebration together.

A New Year…A New Opportunity

It is a new year and a new opportunity to fill your family with honor, grace, and celebration.

We honor what we value so honor your family. Fill your home with honor by sharing words and actions that express value and love to each family member. Honor fills our homes when our actions reveal how much we value and appreciation each family member. Acts of kindness and service honor by communicating the “full extent of our love.”  Words that acknowledge strengths and effort, words that express gratitude, and words that communicate admiration express honor to all who hear them. These words of honor pour a sense of value and worth into our family members.

A home filled with grace becomes a safe haven, a place where each person knows they will find acceptance with no strings attached. Grace apologizes for wrongs committed and forgives generously. Grace disciplines in love, teaching us to live a healthy life emotionally, physically, and mentally.  Grace reveals love in the sacrifice of “my” desires to meet the needs of my family. Grace keeps us available, attentive, and emotionally connected to one another.

A home filled with celebration flows out of a home filled with honor and grace. When honor and grace undergird our interactions, we can “let our hair down,” reveal ourselves fully, and know one another intimately. We can laugh freely and play with abandon. Overall, celebration fosters an abundant life, refreshes our perspective of others, and restores intimacy. Filling our family with celebration intimacy and culminates in a renewed vitality for life.

Take the opportunity provided by a new year to fill your home with honor, grace, and celebration. You can find many ideas for sharing honor, grace, & celebration under the Family Bank of Honor. You will love it and your family will love it…for years to come.

Making Deposits in a Topsy-Turvy Bank

I spoke with a couple about making deposits into the Family Bank of Honor several weeks ago. They went home and put the discussion into practice. They made loving deposits of honor and grace into their Family Bank of Honor. Much to their surprise, these deposits resulted in a major improvement in their relationship. As we talked about their experience, they realized another important aspect of the Family Bank of Honor. When we think of making deposits, we often try to make big deposits…the bigger the better. However, in the Family Bank of Honor even small deposits carry tremendous value. Small deposits are of great value. In the economy of the Family Bank of Honor, even a deposit of one cent is worth a million bucks! Consider a few examples.

  • Greeting one another with a smile seems like a minor thing. But it communicates the joy you feel in the presence of your spouse. It reveals the affection and admiration you have for your spouse. It tells your spouse how much you desire their presence in your life. That’s worth a million bucks.
  • Holding the door for your spouse seems like another penny deposit. But, by arriving at the door first we have established the right to enter first. By holding the door for our spouse, we give up our right and allow them to enter ahead of us. We have placed them ahead of us; we have made them “as more important than ourselves.” That is worth a million bucks.
  • Offering to get your spouse a drink as you get your own drink seems like a minor penny deposit. But that penny deposit informs your spouse that they are on your mind. You are concerned about their needs and their desires. By offering to get them a drink, you have proclaimed that their needs and desires are important to you. You have voiced a willingness to meet those needs and desires. And that is worth a million bucks!
  • Letting your spouse pick the activity or the movie for a night seems like a slightly bigger deposit than those listed above, but still only a nickel deposit. However, this nickel deposit represents a personal sacrifice, a giving up of your desires so you can satisfy the desires of your spouse. It communicates that you value your spouse’s interests as much as (and at times more than) your own. You care so much about your spouse that you are willing to give up your own interests and desires to satisfy your spouse’s interests and desires. That is definitely worth a million bucks.

You get the idea. A simple, inexpensive, penny deposit in the Family Bank of Honor is actually worth a million bucks to your relationship. The more you make these deposits, the richer your marriage will grow in intimacy and health. Now that’s worth a million bucks!

Deposits to Your Child’s Bank of Honor

Strong families make multiple, daily deposits into the Family Bank of Honor (Read Family Bank of Honor for more ideas on making investments in the Family Bank of Honor). We not only expect children to make deposits into the overall Family Bank of Honor, but we need to make deposits into their honor accounts as well. But, certain phrases cheapen our deposits.  These phrases take the value away from an attempted deposit and make it empty. Instead of using phrases that cheapen our deposits, the whole family will benefit when we use phrases that enrich our deposits. Let me give you a few examples.

  • “No problem” tends to cheapen the deposit. It raises an implicit question, a subtle doubt so to speak. Did we do “it” simply because it was “no problem”? Would we have valued our child enough to do it if it was difficult or problematic? A better phrase, one that will enrich the deposit might be “I am glad to do it for you,” “I enjoyed doing it for you,” or even the infamous, “My pleasure.” These statements enrich the deposit by noting you did it because you valued the person and enjoy doing things with and for them.
  • “That’s a good boy/girl” is another phrase that cheapens a deposit. Saying “good boy/girl” implies that your child is good only because of whatever they did or are doing that prompted the statement. It suggests their “goodness” is based on performance, not inherent worth. Rather than applying the label of “good” to your child, make note of their effort. Or note one aspect of their work that you admire. For instance, “You worked hard on that project.” “I like the colors you chose.” Noting effort enriches the deposit and encourages a “growth mindset” and persistence (Growing Your Child’s Mind for Success), both important for success.
  • “Stop crying. It’s OK.” This phrase is often said in an attempt to comfort our children. But it cheapens the deposit into their honor bank by disregarding and minimizing their emotions. You can accomplish the same goal (providing comfort and nurturance) while enriching the deposit by saying things like “That really hurts” or “Can I do something to help you feel better.” Sometimes you will not even need to say anything to make an enriching deposit. Simply give your child a comforting hug. You can further enrich a “hug deposit” by saying “I love you” while you hug them.
  • “You’re so lazy/smart (you pick the label).” Anytime we apply a global label to our child, whether a positive or a negative label, we have, at best, cheapened the deposit into their honor account. Avoid negative labels because they actually make withdrawals from your child’s honor accounts. Positive labels lead to a “fixed mindset” (Read Build Your Child’s Success Mindset for more) that will hinder growth and success. Instead, enrich the deposit by acknowledging specific behaviors you like or behaviors you would like to see changed.  For instance, “You studied hard and learned a lot for that test” or “Your practice really paid off.” On the negative side, “You chose to watch TV all day, so now your project is going to be late.” Addressing specific behaviors and their consequences enriches deposits into the Bank of Honor.
  • “Wait until your father/mother gets home.” On first glance, this statement may not appear to influence the bank of honor. However, it cheapens deposits into your child’s bank of honor by giving your power away to the other parent. Without power all your deposits become weaker, less valuable. Only powerful people can make priceless deposits. Rather than “wait ’til your father gets home” to address a behavior, address it in the moment. You can still address it when your partner arrives home, but address it in the moment as well. By doing so you enrich all your deposits into your child’s bank of honor.

I think you get the idea. Some statements cheapen deposits into the bank of honor. Others will enrich the deposit. Fill your children’s banks of honor with enriching statements that pay rich dividends of joy and maturity.

A Fall Frenzy of Family Fun

Fall has arrived…and with it the fall frenzy of family fun activities. In case you’re stumped on ideas for fall family fun, try one of these 10 ideas.

  1. Have a campfire. Nothing warms a cool fall night like sitting around a bonfire. Invite another family or enjoy s’mores with just your spouse and kids. You can even limit it to your spouse and make it a romantic evening. Either way, gather round and enjoy the fire for family fun. (Read S’More Family Fun for more)
  2. Go for a family hike. Enjoy the crisp fresh air, the colorful fall leaves, and time with family on a hike through your local park or a regional trail. (I enjoy Frick Park or the Laurel Highlands in our area. Where are the great hiking trails in your area?)
  3. Enjoy a high school or college football game. Put on your favorite team colors, buy some nachos, and cheer for your favorite team. You may even invite another family who supports the opposing team and give one another a little friendly ribbing at the game.
  4. Carve a few pumpkins. Sit down with your family and carve some decorative pumpkins. See who can come up with the most original carving. While you’re at it, roast some of the pumpkin seeds. Delicious family fun.
  5. Go on a hayride. You can even enjoy some hot cider while you’re on the ride. After the ride, why not find your way through a local corn maze? Laugh and have fun as you explore and discover your way through the maze.
  6. Enjoy some hot drinks. You can go someplace for the drinks or make them at home. Try hot cider, gourmet hot cocoa, pumpkin spice latte, or maple cinnamon coffee. Get a different drink for each family member and share. Drink up…cheers. (Read about the extra benefits of this hot drink for your family in A Family Fun Night with Amazing Health Benefits)
  7. Bake a pie together. While you’re at it, bake two and take one to your neighbor or a shut-in you know. (Celebrate your family with pie for a year!!)
  8. Attend a band festival. It is great entertainment to watch a variety of school band put on their marching musical shows. Enjoy some hot cocoa while you’re there.
  9. Rake the leaves in your yard into a pile and jump into the pile.
  10. Host a fall harvest party. Invite other families. Make it potluck and enjoy everyone’s favorite dish. Build a bonfire and enjoy the warm fire, delicious food, and great company. (Just so you know, going on a double date builds greater intimacy and a stronger marriage for both couples! Plug in for Family Hapiness )

Fall can become a frenzy of family fun with these ideas. Or, you can modify each one to have a romantic getaway with your spouse. Either way, enjoy your fall and the opportunities it brings to build a stronger marriage and family!

Family Lessons in an Expensive Cup of Joe

What can the price of a cup of joe teach us about family? Last year (2016), CUPS Coffee & Tea in Roanoke, VA, taught a great lesson that applies to families and the Family Bank of Honor. (Read about the coffee shop here).  The owner “felt the need to help solve all the injustices of the world” and decided to start close to home by encouraging polite manners and connection. So, he put up a sign outside his coffee shop, a menu with prices associated with how a person orders their coffee. If someone simply ordered “one small coffee” the charges was $5.  However, if they politely placed their order with a “one small coffee, please” the cost was reduced to $3.  But, you could get the same cup of coffee for a mere $ 1.75 if you connected before placing a polite order: “Hello, I’d like one small coffee please.”  His sign went viral in a matter of days.

I think he had a great idea. “Solving the injustices of the world” begins at home.  We can contribute by encouraging polite manners and connection within the family and with those our family meets.  Each time we make a connection with a family member, we invest in the Family Bank of Honor.  Each time with make a polite statement, we invest in the Family Bank of Honor (Learn more about the Family Bank of Honor).  The more we invest in the Family Bank on Honor, the stronger and more intimate our family bond. And the stronger our family bond, the greater the potential impact on the world (Hot Sauce Vs. the Power of Relationship).

Just like that coffee shop owner, encourage your family to practice polite manners and a little connection…and change the world!

Simple, Every Day Marriage Boosters

Marital intimacy is built upon simple everyday activities. Here are a few of those simple every day activities you can use to strengthen your marriage.

  • Hold hands every day. Hold hands while you take a walk. Hold hands while you watch TV. Hold hands while you sit together. Hold hands every chance you get.
  • Give one another a 10 second hug when you get home at the end of the day… or when you leave at the start of the day… or both!
  • Kiss one another every day. Give a kiss good-bye, a kiss hello, a kiss just to kiss. Give a simple peck on the cheek or give a 10-second kiss…or just sit down and kiss as long as you want.
  • Say kind words to one another. “Good morning.” “Good night.” “I love you.” “Have a good day.” Offer a compliment. Say “Thank you.”  Don’t forget to say “You’re welcome,” too.
  • Do a project together. For instance, make dinner together. Do yardwork together. You might even do a little home remodeling.
  • Do kind things for one another. Hold the door open and let your spouse go first. Do an extra chore around the house. Make the bed. Give your spouse a simple gift. Let your spouse have the last piece of pie.
  • Text your spouse to see how he or she is doing. Or, text them to ask about some special appointment in their life. Text them to say how much you love them. You get the idea. Text them to spread a little love.
  • Tell your spouse one thing you appreciate about them every day.
  • Bring home a small gift for your spouse. It doesn’t need to be a big gift. If your spouse likes a certain candy bar, bring one home. If they like a particular kind of gum, bring home a pack. Buy a card and write a note of appreciation in it before giving it your spouse. Of course, there are always flowers too.
  • Resolve disagreements and arguments as they occur and as quickly as possible.

You can carry out these simple activities on a daily basis and each one will strengthen your marriage and increase intimacy with your spouse.

What Your Kids (and You) Really Want!

Walt Mueller of CPYU (see CPYU blogs here) recently posted this 2-minute-42 second video from IKEA. It communicates such an important message for families that I wanted to post it as well. As the holiday season approaches, this video serves as a crucial reminder of what our children really desire. As one comment notes, parents really desire the same thing, especially as their children grow up. So, enjoy the video and think about how you can give this gift to your whole family this holiday season. Doing so will bring in a very special new year!

Strengthening Family Intimacy

Have you ever wondered how to build intimacy in the family? Or asked yourself how to reconnect and restore relationship after an argument? How do families grow closer to one another? What can I do to increase the love and trust in my family? Good questions…I’m glad you asked. Family intimacy grows when individuals make daily deposits into the Family Bank of Honor. That’s right; with our actions and words, we make deposits (large and small) into the Family Bank of Honor. The more deposits we make, the deeper our intimacy becomes; and, the deeper our intimacy, the greater the returns on our investment. Realize though, that we also make withdrawals from the Family Bank of Honor. Sometimes we make those withdrawals unintentionally, sometimes as a result of anger, poor choices, mistakes, or misunderstandings. Either way, withdrawals happen. And, one withdrawal can wipe out several deposits. In fact, John Gottman notes that in a “good marriage,” spouses make five deposits for every one withdrawal. In “master marriages,” the spouses make twenty deposits for every one withdrawal. I believe the same is true for families. So, if you want to live in an intimacy-rich family, or have a family that has millions in terms of love, start making multiple daily deposits into the Family Bank of Honor. Here are several deposits you can make into the Family Bank of Honor today and every day.
·         Say “Thank you,” “please,” and “you’re welcome.”
·         Smile at one another.
·         Hold the door open for one another.
·         Fix a meal or snack for your family.
·         Help wash and fold the clothes.
·         Clean the kitchen…or simply clean your room.
·         Help mow the lawn.
·         Offer to get a drink or a snack for another family member.
·         Watch what another family member wants to watch on TV.
·         Pray for your family.
·         Give compliments to one another. 
·         Give one another a hug.
·         Seek the advice of a family member.
·         Listen closely one another.
·         Do what your family member asks you to do.
·         Do favors for one another.
·         Complete a chore for another family member.
·         Play a game.
·         Write a note of appreciation.
·         Tell each family member something you admire about them.
·         Practice daily acts of kindness.
·         Bring home something special for one another–flowers, candy, gum, a card…whatever small gift a family member would enjoy.
What are some of your favorite ways to make deposits into your Family Bank of Honor? 

The Chick-fil-A Family Interaction Model

Don’t you love Chick-fil-A? I like the spicy chicken sandwich…and the original chicken sandwich…and the grilled chicken sandwich…and the breakfast burrito (sausage—my apologies to the cow)…and….Well, you get the point. But, you know what I like best about Chick-fil-A? It doesn’t matter how complicated the order, how many times I change my order, or how crowded the restaurant, when I pay the cashier she politely says “Thank you.” Then, when I thank the cashier for my food she smiles and replies, “My pleasure.” She even says it with conviction, like she really means it. I think she does mean it! She says, with all sincerity, that it was her “pleasure” to serve me, to take the time to prepare my food and hand it to me at the counter, my table, or my car, wherever I happen to be. I love to eat there just to hear them say it… “Thank you” and “My pleasure.” 
Perhaps families could benefit from taking more than supper home from Chick-fil-A. Perhaps we could learn a lesson on customer service and practice it within our families. What would happen if “Thank you” and “My pleasure” became as common in our homes as they are in Chick-fil-A? Imagine if every act of kindness received a “thank you” and every thank you received a “my pleasure.” Take a moment and imagine how the atmosphere of a home might change if family members truly served one another out of “pleasure” rather than obligation. I cheerfully get my daughter a drink and when she says “thank you” I reply with a sincere, “My pleasure.” Or, when I finish mowing the grass on a hot day, my wife hands me an ice-cold drink while telling me, “Thank you for cutting the grass.” I reply with “My pleasure; and thank you for the drink.” “My pleasure,” she replies. Husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, children and siblings quoting the honoring words of the Chick-fil-A employee, “Thank you” and “My pleasure.” We might become known as the “My-pleasure-family-group.” We might also find that family members actually do take more pleasure in serving because they know their service is recognized and appreciated. Then, when thanked for our service we can sincerely reply with “my pleasure.”
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