Trouble in paradise?

Just when we all thought we had it all together….  As my friend and co-worker Angie is fond of saying:

“Wedding planning brings out the most in people.” 

(*wink wink*)

tulipsWell, over the last few weeks My Girl and I have certainly seen the *most* in each other– the most cranky, the most conflicted, the most unpredictable, the most outrageous… you get the idea.  Wedding planning can be stressful, even with the best attitude and purely good intentions. 

Try this simple little trick next time you and your sweetie are arguing over plans, big or small:

Sit across from each other knee-to-knee and eye-to-eye.  Hold hands (if you can manage it and neither of you has the propensity to slap the other).  Decide who will be the “Listener” and who will be the “Talker.”  And repeat after me.  Or rather– Listener repeat after the Talker.  It goes like this:

tulips close upThe Talker says what’s on their mind.  Keep it simple, keep it short, and pause often for the Listener to repeat. 

The Listener repeats *verbatim* what they heard and asks:

“Did I get that right?” 

If the Talker answers “yes,” the Listener asks:

“Is there more?” 

(If the Talker answers “no,” the Talker clarifies what was misheard and the Listener repeats and asks again.)

When the Talker has no more to say, the Listener summarizes and then asks:

“Is that a fair summary?” 

Then the Listener ** with compassion and empathy ** says:

(Pay close attention here people!)

angel mom“I can understand how that’s important to you, and why you feel that way.  I love you and I want you to be happy and feel good.”

See how simple that is? 

** Most often when there are conflicts in relationships, it’s because we all get triggered by things we aren’t quite consciously aware of.  And in the end, everyone just wants to be heard and accepted and loved. **

The Grateful Lesbian Bride’s Wedding Planning Tip #3:    Taking 10 minutes to pause, breathe, and “mirror” your sweetheart can go a long way towards happier wedding planning and a healthier future together.

abandon all doubt

For more information on the best tips and tricks for couples communication, see www.gettingtheloveyouwant.com

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the preface to our story…

Don’t you just love when you think you know exactly the way your life is gonna go and then something unexpectedly wonderful happens that changes everything?  Well, that’s today’s theme.  Originally posted on my special needs mama blog over a year ago, here is the story of how My Girl and I began:

For much of my life I had a vision of how things were supposed to be.  Many of my challenges revolved around staying still long enough to allow the inside of me– my ideas and passions– to coordinate with the outside of me– my goals and projects.  It’s not that I wasn’t always open to allowing other people to be who they are, or I thought everyone should fit inside some sort of “box” or category.  It’s not even that I felt I should fit into one particular character or role.  It’s just that it has always been difficult for me to believe anything is possible, to give my genuine attention to my most sincere wishes.  I tend to limit possibilities by letting my logical, rational brain try to determine the “how” of things, instead of letting my heart be happy entertaining bigger dreams.  One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie “The Secret” about the Law of Attraction:

“Grass doesn’t struggle to grow.  It’s effortless, it’s just perfectly designed that way.”

Every time I can let go of preconceived notions about life and acknowledge there are greater forces at work in the universe and that I may be limiting myself by thinking that I actually *know* something about my future, miraculous things occur.  Enter true love, My Girl.

I graduated college, got married, bought a house, gave birth to a son.  I journeyed through special needs diagnosis, early intervention, special education with him.  I gave birth to a daughter and journeyed through the land of the typical and other health issues with her.  I survived, my marriage was steady for a while.  Then the storms came, our home shook, the pressures were too much and it all collapsed.

Everything I thought I had, everything I thought I wanted, lay in a crumbled heap.  Kind of like the way the living room used to look after a long, crazy day– a jumble of toys and couch cushions and snacks and socks and leftover dinner plates and unfinished projects.  Only instead of all that stuff, there were unrealized dreams and changed expectations, puddles of tears shed for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on…  Sure, I knew I was grieving the loss of visions and hopes of what family life would be like for me and my ex, I was grieving for what I would never experience with my son.  I was fine this way, just fine I told myself.

But somewhere in the back of my mind, a different life called to me and I had to redirect my thoughts and translate them into the here-and-now language of special needs mom.

My first marriage finally broke under the weight of that crumbled heap of emotions and anxieties and misunderstandings and betrayals, and I got divorced.  On the road to separation, I had to come to terms with the distinct possibility I would never find love again, that I might indeed remain a single parent for a long time.  I took a deep breath, accepted this possibility, and began to recover my life.  I created a safe space for myself and my children.  I moved some beloved pieces of my mother’s furniture into a new home.  And for the first time in a long time, I set my sights on intentionally creating *my* future and considering key elements that help me feel calm and happy.

I opened my mind to the possibility that my life could include a healthy, loving, cooperative relationship.

My best friend teases me that I have a “magic journal,” and whenever I write from my heart a vision of how I want my life to be, that vision becomes reality.  Such power, right?  Well believe me, if I knew how this magic journal thing actually works, I’d wield that power to do a lot more good in the world.  For now I’m content with marveling at the good luck I’m afforded when I get clarity through written words.

At the suggestion of a relationship book author, I wrote down my ideal day.  Pictures in my head of what happens, what my partner says to me, how the day looks, feels and sounds.  I made it vivid and fun, I wrote words that made me smile, I included basketball for some odd reason (which I don’t play except when it’s goofing around on the basketball court with my son).  Then I read it over and gave myself permission to sink into it and believe for a moment it was real.

I felt the joy of that day and I was thankful.

A couple weeks later, I met My Girl.  I’ve now lived my ideal day many times over.  She is beautiful, intelligent, accomplished in her profession, compassionate and warm.  She was captain of her high school basketball team (thanks, magic journal).

And I am so grateful for this new chance at true love.

autism home rescue 12231101

Do you have an extraordinary, out-of-the-box or just plain special love story?

Please share it with me via comment or email at gratefullesbianbride@gmail.com