Q: After 20-some years of marriage, my wife and I know each other pretty well -- and I think we have a good relationship. We also each have our respective friends and hobbies to help us maintain our individuality. But we still sense that maybe we're missing something. How can we strengthen our connection?
Jim: When a lot of couples think of building marital intimacy, they imagine candlelit dinners and deep conversation. It's all about opening your hearts to one another and sharing your innermost feelings. Those moments can be powerful and even a necessary connection point for a husband and wife. But there's another kind of intimacy that can be just as beneficial to a couple: social intimacy.
That term is really as simple as it sounds. Social intimacy means you share activities together. Maybe you both enjoy riding bikes, exercising or gardening together. The two of you probably already share a lot of common interests.
But there's another angle to social intimacy that's a bit trickier to navigate. More than likely you'll both have to go beyond your individual comfort zones and agree to do activities that don't matter to you but are important to your spouse.
Maybe your spouse loves going to the symphony, but you don't care for it. Go to the symphony anyway. In some marriages, the wife likes to watch cooking shows and the husband enjoys football. Watch a little of both together. Make a concerted effort to engage in each other's interests, and your intimacy has a good chance of deepening.
That's the heart and soul of social intimacy. It's about more than just "doing stuff together." It's about showing your spouse how much you value them by entering into their world and honoring what's important to them.
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Q: How do I get my kids to listen to me?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: That's a simple expression of a complex question that almost every parent asks regularly. It might even seem like your kids need a hearing test; it appears that they heard you, but there's not much evidence. Things you've asked them to do go undone, their clothes pile up everywhere, they're still yelling and arguing or sneaking their phone when you've told them not to.
What impacts a child's ability to listen? Sometimes a child may not be developmentally ready to process complex commands or questions. Typically, though, when kids don't listen they're usually:
Wanting something -- or their own way -- badly
Thinking of other priorities and interests
Unclear of what is being asked or expected
So how can you get your kids to listen?
1. Make sure you have their attention and that they understand what you're talking about. Sometimes we forget to use words that can be understood. We can also tend to give directions while walking away, or while a child is in the middle of doing something else. We need to make sure what we're trying to communicate is being received.
2. Be consistent with boundaries, limits, consequences and communication. If you say, "We're leaving in five minutes" but consistently aren't ready yourself for half an hour, your kids learn to ignore your five-minute warning. If you tell your child to stop doing something or say "no" to something he or she has asked but there's never a consequence for disobedience, your child will learn that your boundary fence is just there for decoration.
3. Model respect, grace and forgiveness. Respect begins with listening. Do your children feel valued, heard and understood?
4. Intentionally celebrate along the way. Find ways to celebrate the loving self-discipline of listening in your home.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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