Archive | February 2014

9 Ways to Defuse a Disagreement

"Abandon a quarrel before it breaks out." | 9 Ways to Defuse a Disagreement (http://lovinglifeathome)My father was one of the friendliest, most gregarious men I’ve ever met. He loved people — but he also loved a spirited debate. Mom always said Dad would argue with a fence post.

My mother was decidedly not fond of fiery discussions. She has always detested conflict of any sort. Dad would often tease Mom, trying to get a rise out of her, but she would not be baited. He might as well have been arguing with that famed fencepost, for all the luck he had in drawing his wife into an argument.

By nature, I tend to take after my father, but by conscious effort, I try to follow my mother’s example.

Scripture says it would be better to live in a desert or in the corner of a roof than in a house with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. (Proverbs 21:19; 25:14) My mother’s willingness to “abandon a quarrel before it breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14) made our home a more pleasant and peaceful place to live — for all of us.

Of course, you may not always see eye-to-eye with your husband. When there are areas of disagreement or concerns that need to be discussed, take care to do so in a calm, cool, collected, and consistently respectful way.

Communicating respect to your husband does not necessitate keeping all your thoughts to yourself. It does not mean going along with his every whim, even when serious reservations exist.

Showing respect is not about suppressing your feelings; it’s really more about the tone with which those feelings are expressed.

A disrespectful tone communicates, “Listen, you idiot, let me set you straight on this matter, because it’s obvious you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Of course, we would (hopefully) never actually say such a thing, but our husbands will sometimes hear these words in our tone, even when we don’t utter them outright.

A respectful tone, by contrast, first hears the other person out. It always gives thoughtful consideration to what is being said, even if the speaker isn’t able to articulate his ideas as easily as you yourself might be able to do so. A respectful tone validates the other person by saying, “I see your point,” before continuing, “but have you considered…?”

Many times, our husbands do things in a different way than we would do them, but that doesn’t mean their way is wrong. Go with the flow for as long as possible, then when an issue arises that you really feel strongly about, you will have stored up some goodwill by not having contradicted the two or three dozen choices he’s made prior to the current one. It is easy for our husbands to grow weary and lose patience when we argue and second-guess each and every decision they make.

As for preventing difficult discussions from escalating into angry arguments, follow these guidelines to keep tempers from flaring:

  1. Practice Attentive Listening
  2. Pay attention to what your spouse is trying to say to you. Hear him out. Don’t just pretend to be listening while you mentally rehearse what you plan to say next.

    “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” – Proverbs 18:13

  3. Demonstrate Genuine Love
  4. If you will focus on all the reasons you love this person instead of on the things that irritate you about him, you will be much less likely to say something you later regret.

    “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” – Proverbs 10:12

  5. Maintain Calm Voices
  6. Don’t allow the pitch to creep up in your conversation. Maintain a gracious, soft-spoken demeanor at all times.

    “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

  7. Use Word Pictures
  8. Well thought-out word pictures and analogies are a great way to communicate a concern without being abrasive and accusatory.

    “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11

  9. Keep Sweet Speech
  10. Let your words be filled with kindness and seasoned with grace; do not resort to name calling or exaggerated accusations.

    “Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” – Proverbs 16:21

  11. Exercise Patient Understanding
  12. Try to see the situation from your spouse’s point of view. Be empathetic. Put yourself in his shoes to better appreciate his perspective.

    “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” – Proverbs 14:29

  13. Remain Cool-Headed
  14. Weigh your words carefully, always and only speaking the truth in love. Don’t be rash.

    “A hot-tempered person stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.” – Proverbs 15:18

  15. Show Sincere Humility
  16. Rid your tone (and your heart) of all pride and condescension, neither of which serve any purpose but to stir up strife and discord.

    “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6

  17. Express Earnest Repentance
  18. Show appropriate, unfeigned remorse over any wrongdoing. Apologize for offensive things you have said or done without excusing your actions or casting blame on your spouse.

    “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” – Revelation 3:19

Through her example, my mother taught me that I don’t always have to have the last word; I don’t need to drive home my point; I’m under no obligation to convince others I’m right.

It takes two to argue. Isn’t it liberating to know that? It takes two — and you don’t have to be one of them.


This post is excerpted from my book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband. For more marriage encouragement, connect with me on Facebook.

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Lessons Learned from a Two-Year-Old

In celebration of my son David’s birthday today, I wanted share a couple of my favorite stories from his childhood (and important lessons learned along the way). Enjoy!


Our baby boy!Anybody who has ever given birth knows that a having a baby can turn your life upside-down; however, after experiencing this phenomenon twelve times over, I can testify that some babies turn it upside-downer than others.

Some babies cry and are colicky and sleep just as little as possible throughout those first weeks and months and years of life.

We’ve had several of those (although they eventually grew out of it and were definitely worth the trouble — in fact, we saw one of our crankiest, most inconsolable babies blossom into one of our most caring, compassionate adults).

Other babies are all smiles and sunshine and seldom complain about anything. We’ve been blessed with a couple of those, too (and are glad to report they did not grow out of it, but are still just as pleasant as ever).

Our third born is a prime example. David was as easy a baby as any mother could hope to have. He was quiet, happy, and content all the time. If he got bumped or startled or scared, his eyes would get as big as saucers, but he wouldn’t utter a sound. Even when he woke up hungry, he’d coo rather than cry.

David slept all night from the day he came home from the hospital (which means I got to sleep, too). He slept the better part of most days, as well. He basically slept around-the-clock for twenty-four months solid.

But then he turned two and stopped sleeping altogether.

Suddenly, my incredibly easy baby was wide-awake, insatiably curious, and into everything! He lived in constant motion, but was still extremely quiet (translation: he was sneaky), which meant I had to watch him. Every. Second.
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails... that's what little boys are made of!
A few days after his birthday, I made the mistake of bending over to pull a weed while David was playing with his older siblings in our backyard. By the time I stood back up, he’d clambered over our fence, dashed down the alley, and climbed into our neighbor’s yard to pet their dog. Of course, I was only a few steps behind him, but that is beside the point.

The real question is, what’s a two-year-old doing scaling fences in the first place?

That was a game changer for which I was woefully unprepared.

The following month, David discovered that by climbing onto the workbench, he could reach (and operate) the switch to our automatic garage door opener. One bright Saturday morning,his Daddy heard a cry for help and, upon investigating, found our toddler hanging by his fingertips from the ceiling of the garage! He had apparently caught a ride up on the moving door, but was uncertain how to get back down.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying, sometimes LIFE can feel a little like that. Know what I mean?

Have you ever wondered, like I sometimes do, O what’ve I gotten myself into now? Have you ever felt like you’re barely hanging on by tooth or by nail? Do you desperately cling to an old way of doing things, a way that no longer makes sense, because you’re afraid of what might happen if you let go? Are you hoping against hope that someone will happen along who can help?

Maybe that’s why God allows us to get into such predicaments in the first place — because it makes us so acutely aware of our need for Him, our need for wisdom, our need for balance.

And that’s a good thing, for we must recognize a need before we can ever hope to meet it (or, in twelve-step lingo, we must admit there is a problem before we can find a solution).

My two-year-old’s response to the garage door incident is a reasonable response for adults, as well. Whenever life leaves us hanging by our fingertips, we must remember to:

  • Cry out for help
  • Be willing to let go
  • Learn from past mistakes
  • Avoid the things that throw us off-balance in the future

Our tireless toddler is now six-foot seven, out of the nest, and in his second year of dental school (mothers of energetic two-year-olds, be encouraged: this stage will pass, all too soon). In all those interim years, we never had to rescue that son from the ceiling of the garage again (from other heights, perhaps, but never again from that one). He learned his lesson well.

Here’s a picture of David today (along with his colicky-turned-compassionate sister/classmate Bethany, who is equally amazing):

So proud of these kids...

The Bible teaches that “the beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom,” (Proverbs 1:7) and that if any of us lack wisdom, we should “ask of God, who gives generously to all, without finding fault, and it will be given.” (James 1:5)

Prayer should be our first response to any problem, for God is the ultimate source of every solution.

Isn’t it a comfort to realize that, just as my sweet little David called for his Daddy so many years ago, we can cry out to our Heavenly Father, who stands at the ready to rescue us, to take care of us, to plant our feet back on solid ground?

A Plea for Perseverance

Your Most Telling Declarations of Love Aren't Made on Valentine's | A Plea for Perseverance from Loving Life at HomeWhen I was in high school I dated a boy who would go all-out for Valentine’s Day: balloon bouquets, long-stemmed red roses, boxes of chocolates, candlelight dinners.

Every day for the week, some grand new token of his affection would be delivered to my doorstep.

But then, Valentine’s would be over, and that would be that.

Two years older and away at college, he would go entire semesters without so much as a phone call or a post card. The stark contrast gave me a little bit of a jaded view toward all things cupid.

In my mind, Valentine’s Day is just window dressing. It’s a public display that may or may not accurately represent what is truly stored up in one’s heart.

Our most telling declarations of love aren’t made on February 14th — they are made in the days and weeks and months that follow.

When my husband brings home heart-shaped candy boxes and fancy flowers this time of year, I know that it’s (at least partially) because he knows the nurses at the hospital are going to quiz him about what he got me.

But when he brings me hot tea when I’m sick? Or starts a load of laundry for me when I’m busy? Or runs my bathwater when I’m tired? Or makes a list at work of things he wants to tell me when he gets home? He’s not doing any of that for show. Nobody will ever ask him about it. He does those things purely because he loves me and takes pleasure in demonstrating that fact in practical, everyday ways.

I love that about him.

Wives can be just as guilty as men of pouring so much thought and energy into a single day that little is left over for later.

If you enjoyed an extra-special evening of romance with your husband on the 14th, terrific. But don’t expect that single interlude to carry him over until next Valentine’s Day — or even until next week.

Sometimes when a wife breaks out the candles, perfume, background music, and lacey negligees, she’s tempted afterward to think, Wow! I really outdid myself tonight! That should tide my husband over for at least a week or two!

Meanwhile, her husband is thinking, Wow! That was great! We need to do that more often. How about tomorrow?

Wives want to serve sporadic samplings of gourmet delicacies, when most husbands would be far more satisfied with a steady diet of meat and potatoes.

So… this is a plea for perseverance. Did you kindle some sparks this weekend? Fan them into a flame, then keep it burning all year long.

15 Unexpected Benefits of Big Family Living

The Unexpected Benefits of Big Family Living | Loving Life at HomeI love children and have wanted a bunch of them for as long as I can remember.

Not surprisingly, this fact significantly narrowed the field of potential marriage partners back when I was in college.

“Want to grab a cup of coffee?” an interested classmate might venture.

“That depends,” I’d answer matter-of-factly. “How many kids do you plan to have when you get married?”

Subtlety has never my strong suit.

This line of questioning quickly scared off most would-be suitors, but I didn’t want to risk falling in love with someone who didn’t share my desire for a big family.

So I held out… and my patience eventually paid off. Mr. Right finally showed up a few weeks before graduation.

Not only was he interested (in me!), but he gave the desired response to all of my questions — and didn’t seem intimidated by my asking them.

The rest, as they say, is history: I married him 16 months later, got pregnant two weeks into our honeymoon, and spent the following quarter of a century either pregnant or nursing (or both).

Life as the mother of many has been every bit as blissful as I imagined. Sure, there have been lots of unexpected challenges, but there have also been plenty of unanticipated rewards. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Expanded Options
  2. There are so many beautiful names with wonderful meanings out there, it’s difficult to narrow down the list of favorites and pick only one. Having a big family completely solves that quandary — you can use them all! (Or in our case, almost all — we’re still hoping for a Hannah).

  3. Boredom Busters
  4. There is never a dull moment in a home filled with children, and there is always somebody to play with. Neighbors and schoolmates will come and go, but siblings are friends you can keep for life.

  5. Conversation Starters
  6. Big families invite all sorts of inquiries: “Are all these kids yours?” “Don’t you know what causes that?” “Are you going to have any more?” “Do I need to buy you a TV?” In our experience, most of the people asking such questions aren’t trying to be rude — they’re genuinely curious — so we answer as graciously and amicably as we possibly can. What a great way to meet people!

  7. Group Discounts
  8. A really big family can qualify for discounted group admission rates without even trying. And do we ever get our money’s worth on those annual zoo and museum memberships — especially the ones that offer reciprocal benefits at sister sites!

  9. A Deeper Admiration
  10. The love and affection I felt for my husband as a spouse, great though it was, increased manifold when he became the father of my children. I still enjoy watching him teach and train and interact with our preschoolers, adolescents, teens, and adult children, but there is something so specially endearing about the way he cuddles and cootchy-coos our babies, it makes me glad that for so long we’ve had one in the house to draw that tenderness out of him.

  11. Household Help
  12. A wise man once observed, “Many hands make light labor.” He was right. Of course, many hands make bigger messes to begin with, but when everyone pitches in to help clean up, household chores are knocked out in short order, and kids learn responsibility and other important life skills from an early age.

  13. No PMS
  14. Between pregnancy and breastfeeding, you can literally go for years without having a monthly cycle. I’m not gonna lie — that has really been nice.

  15. Pick Your Sport
  16. Depending on the size of your family, you can field your own basketball team. Or volleyball. Or baseball. Or soccer. The physical exercise does a body good, and the games give ample opportunity to practice good sportsmanship among other players who are held to the same standard.

  17. Social Security
  18. Contrary to what “Zero Population Growth” proponents will tell you, demographic declines are causing deeply troubling problems for societies worldwide, which is why many countries (Germany, Japan, and Austrailia, to name just a few) are now actually paying people to procreate. Big families are simply ahead of the curve.

  19. Youthful Beauty
  20. While pregnancy keeps you looking young (think thick, glossy hair and glowing complexion), the children themselves keep you feeling young. It’s a wonderful thing to see the world through the eyes of a child, so filled with awe and excitement over each new discovery. Their energy, enthusiasm, and laughter are infectious.

  21. One Less Excuse
  22. Being open to pregnancy allows couples to enjoy intimacy as God intended. No frantic search for a misplaced diaphragm. No mad dash to the drugstore when you run out of condoms. No having to compensate for the fact that the Pill completely decimates a woman’s libido. Just blessed spontaneity (although regularly scheduling time for said spontaneity is highly recommended).

  23. No Sour Milk
  24. In a house full of kids (especially teenaged boys), food seldom lasts long enough to go bad. That’s a plus! You can buy in bulk without fear of spoilage. And as an added bonus, dinner conversation never drags with so many different personalities contributing to it.

  25. Built-In Babysitters
  26. Our kids absolutely love babies and are always clamoring to hold our newest addition. As a result, they can all handle infants very comfortably and capably — experience that will come in handy someday when they start having kids of their own. As an added bonus, our big guys have discovered that nothing attracts attention from the opposite sex more effectively than toting around a new baby brother or sister (otherwise known as a “chick magnet”).

  27. Best Foot Forward
  28. Not only do children help refine their parents’ character qualities, but they polish one another, as well. Siblings have a way of knocking off one another’s rough edges, so they’re less likely to make fools of themselves in public. Corny jokes and lame pranks can be tested (then reworked as needed or altogether abandoned) at home, where the stakes are lower and the audience more forgiving.

  29. Empty Nest Postponed
  30. When you are blessed with many children, you don’t have to give up all your favorite things about one stage of life to enjoy all the great things about the next. You’ll still have little ones at home to cuddle even after first ones move away. That’s a happy distraction during what would otherwise be a bittersweet time. Also, studies show that the older a couple is when their last child leaves home, the more likely their marriage will survive the transition.

I could go on (and on and on), but I’ll stop there. What are your favorite things about having children? Do you plan to have any more? Don’t you know what causes that? Do I need to buy you a TV?


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Love and Respect – Subway Art Printables

25 Ways to Communicate Respect | free printable Subway Art from http://lovinglifeathome.comI’ve been pondering what to get my husband this year for Valentine’s Day, as it’s only a week away.

In years past, I’ve written him poems, like this or this. And once I stitched him a silk-embroidered bed pillow, which has been broadcasting the same secret message for more than a decade now.

But just as I was starting to feel stumped for ideas, Doug made it super-easy on me.

“Valentine’s is coming up,” he reminded me earlier this week. “I thought it might be good for you to turn our Love and Respect lists into some sort of graphic we could post for the occasion.”

I told him I thought that was a great idea and got right to work on it. The next day, I presented him with two pieces of subway art: the one pictured here on communicating respect and another (which you can find on his blog) on expressing love.

Incidentally, Doug’s been making good progress on the book version of 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife, which should be available sometime this spring. The parts I’ve read so far are terrific! You can expect more detailed posts from him on related topics as he continues to work on that, so you may want to subscribe to his blog if you don’t already follow it.

Meanwhile, if you’ve not yet registered for our Valentine’s Day Romance and Respect Book Bundle Giveaway, you only have a week left to do so. Sign up here for a chance to win a copy of Heidi St. John’s Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance and my 25 Ways to Communicate Respect.

Great Advice for Busy Wives

Great Advice for Busy Wives | a book review and giveaway from Loving Life at HomeI’ve been seeing advertisements for Heidi St. John’s book, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance, for years now.

From the first time I spotted that adorable picture of Heidi on the cover, I knew it was a book I would enjoy. But being the busy homeschool mom that I am, I didn’t get around to ordering a copy until a couple of weeks ago.

Once it arrived, I blazed through it quickly. It’s a fast read, but chock full of godly wisdom and practical advice for busy wives at every age and stage of life (whether they’re homeschooling moms or not).

In it, I found such jewels as this:

“…the best mothering is borne out of an overflow of a strong, committed marriage. Loving your husband is a choice. Seeing him as God’s gift to you is a powerful thing. Every day that you share with the husband of your youth is a day that you can choose to love him with the kind of passion that God meant for you to enjoy.”

And this (which is applicable not only to homeschooling, but to any other job or extra-curricular involvement, as well):

“Remember, your calendar will reflect your priorities. Most busy homeschool moms don’t choose curriculum with their husbands in mind. But I’m here to tell you that if your curriculum leaves you cold and exhausted at the end of the day, it’s time to find a curriculum that is more suited to helping you put the priority on your marriage.”

And also this:

“To ignore the sexual needs of your husband or to reject his advances is to tear at the fabric of who you are as a couple. Don’t be fooled into thinking sex doesn’t matter. It does. Neglect this part of your marriage and you will suffer devastating results.”

At the same time, Heidi offers hope, even for marriages that seem irreparably lost. I love the analogy she uses of Jesus speaking life back into the dead body of Jarius’s 12-year-old daughter (Matthew 9:18-26). Just as Christ quickened that beloved child and restored her to health, He can breathe life and warmth and beauty back into a desperate, dead, or dying marriage.

Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your HusbandI am so convinced you will be blessed by this book that I’ve decided to give a copy away for Valentine’s Day. And because romance goes hand-in-hand with respect, I’m also including a copy of my new book (25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband) in the giveaway. Enter here for your chance to win:


DISCLOSURE: This is NOT a sponsored post. Although it does contain affiliate links, it was written without Heidi St. John’s knowledge or consent, and the books offered in this giveaway were not donated for that purpose, but have been bought and paid for by me.