Posts tagged ‘chicago’

April 4, 2014

How to Balance Technology in the Home

Contributed by Eva Fleming

kids and technologyEach generation of parents has their own unique challenges and ours is clearly the excess of technology our children are being bombarded with. The problem is so new that the wisdom of the past generation has little to add when this highly addictive behavior is exhibited in their presence. What can we do with this monster that swallows our children’s time, creativity and energy? Instead of falling into despair or admitting defeat, let’s try to find solutions to improve our possibilities of raising healthy children that live in this reality without having to rely on cyber space to find happiness or peace.

To curve our children’s insatiable appetite for technology consumption the first thing we should do is clarify our purpose for their future. What type of people do we want our children to be as adults? My desire is that my children learn how to live a balanced life. I would like them to actively seek to develop all aspects of life: that they would have friends, that their bodies would be well taken cared of, that they would be outstanding students, that they would develop love and empathy for those around them. But a child that doesn’t know his or her world because he/she lives in an alternate reality, cannot achieve these goals. If this your problem, I suggest you become more involved in your children’s daily activities.

It’s important in our technologically driven society that children get opportunities for exercise. This can be achieved through organized sports, spontaneous play between siblings, or activities deliberately planned by a parent. A child’s body needs physical movement, no matter what season of the year it is. In my house I keep a BOSU ball so the children can jump while they watch TV. This ball comes in especially handy those days we can’t get to the park due to bad weather or difficulty in the day’s schedule. During those days, you can also help a child exercise by making them a list of items they can bring from one side of the house to the other. You can say, for example, run and get your laundry basket and bring it to the laundry room in less than two minutes.

In addition to physical activity, children should spend time doing school work and chores. During homework time, don’t allow your children to get distracted with TV or radio. Of course this is easier to achieve if they are younger in age because once they are teens, their habits have been formed and they are difficult to challenge. But while they are still young and you have control of their electronic devices, you can easily put them away during homework time. During the long summer months, or any other special vacation days when they don’t have homework, insist that they spend time reading or practicing an instrument so they don’t neglect the habit of feeding their mind. Chores should have the same importance. There’s a variety of things children can do to help them in their growth, like setting the table, picking up clothes from the floor, putting toys away, helping with gardening, etc.  I give my seven-year old a couple dollars every time he fills up a bag of weeds during the summer months. So I’m not only introducing him to gardening but also I’m teaching him the connection between work and money.

After children have gotten exercise and you know their homework and chores have been completed, then you can allow them to use their electronic devices using your judgment.

Don’t forget to include social activities in your children’s week.  Social activities can be limited to a family dinner where everyone has the opportunity to interact, table games like Monopoly, building LEGOS or playing dolls with friends, as long as the games are supervised. Social interaction is important to teach social-emotional skills. They create an emotional connection that bring personal satisfaction.

In regards to electronic games it is important that you don’t buy your children all the video games they want. You can, for example, buy them an electronic game in the summer, one during spring break, and maybe one during winter break. Limiting them to three games per year will ensure that once they have finished the cycle of each game, they are left with free time to develop other interest. The logic is to do everything with moderation; since excess is never healthy.

As parents, we should always keep in mind that we are raising adults. What kind of adults would we be raising if we allow our children to live only in a cyber world? Begin to train your children in the way they should go so when they are old they don’t depart from it. Begin to take control of the technology your children consume so they don’t become slaves of it. Think that one day they will be somebody’s husbands and wives and that a balanced life is the best gift that you can give his or her future family.

March 3, 2014

10 Love Challenges

Contributed by Sarah Pichardo

lovechallengeI’m from a family of six girls. As you can imagine, getting a word in can be a little difficult, especially since all six of us are pretty opinionated. If there’s one thing, however, that all six of us have in common, aside from being stubborn, is that we are all do-ers. Our parents taught us, mostly by example, that in order to make a difference in the world, you have to show love not just simply speak about it.

What we do speaks volumes about who we are. What do your actions say about you?

Put your love into action this month and take the Love Challenge. Do all 10 of these challenges and you’ll see that it will not only make a difference in the life of another person, but will also make a difference in your own life.

Love Challenge 1: Do something nice

You’ve heard the saying a million times, “actions speak louder than words.” Do something out of the ordinary today for someone you love. Wash their car, bring them a cup of coffee, clean the kitchen, buy their favorite dessert, fold the laundry, cook them their favorite dinner – whatever it is, do it with love.

Love Challenge 2: Say something nice

How much do you appreciate your spouse, parent, child, friend? How often do you tell them? Take time today to say a simple “thank you for…” or “you make me happy because…” and make their day.

Love Challenge 3: Spend time with someone

Make a simple sacrifice to spend time with someone. Take a chunk of your free time, and devote it to a friend or family. Don’t just physically be there but be there emotionally and mentally. Pay attention to that person. Really be there, in that moment. Because that’s a moment you’ll never get back. And life is all about moments.

Love Challenge 4: Buy a thoughtful gift

I don’t know one single person that doesn’t like to receive a gift every now and then. An unexpected gift can light up someone’s day very quickly. Pick up a book you think they’ll like, their favorite flowers, a gift card to a restaurant, etc. You don’t have to get them something big – just something thoughtful.

Love Challenge 5: Give ‘em a hug

Have you hugged someone recently? A hug is a great way to let someone know you care about them and brighten their day. Plus, did you know research shows that hugs lower pressure, improves your immune system and relieves stress? Who doesn’t want that?

Love Challenge 6: Help someone

Life is hard sometimes and we can all use a helping hand. Is someone moving? Have they just welcomed a baby into the world? Are they having a financial difficulty? What can you do to help them out during this time? Again, it doesn’t have to be huge – just the smallest action can make a big difference.

Love Challenge 7: Decide to forgive

This one can be a doozy. Forgiving is hard but worth it. Forgiveness is a process and not an immediate, one-time act and may take time for the heart and mind to follow along. Start with making the decision to forgive. Doing so will release a burden and release more of your inner beauty.

For more in depth information on how to forgive, download the gloo mobile app and check out our “FORGIVE” program.

Love Challenge 8: Volunteer

Find ways to assist those living in your neighborhood or community. Practice conscious acts of kindness and giving. It’s good for you and good for others. Just do it.

Love Challenge 9: Listen

Listening is underrated. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who just listened to you vent – no interruptions, no judgments? Wasn’t it wonderful? Make an effort to give someone your undivided, fully concentrated attention. Showing understanding of the other person’s feelings and thoughts is all that’s needed to ease their burden and do them a world of good.

Love Challenge 10: Be kind to yourself

So you have shortcomings – we all do. Learn to accept yourself. Focus on your many positive traits, on your strengths and your abilities. Let go of harsh judgments, comparisons to others, and self-hatred. See yourself as the divinely inspired person you are. Love yourself.

January 29, 2014

The War on Poverty

Contributed by Alicia E. La Hoz, Psy.D.

IStock_HispanicFamily22When I grow up, I will meet a girl I want, get married and have three children.”  Our four-year old child has a clear picture of what marriage is and already envisions that he too will be married.  Unfortunately this is not the case for many other Hispanic children born today. According to Child Trends, among women under 30, 53% of births occur outside of marriage, of which 65% are born to Hispanic mothers.  Thus, many of the children born today will not have a schema or internal framework of what marriage is. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, much attention has been drawn to marriage as one of the social indicators that holds promise for addressing poverty. Social science studies have clearly demonstrated that two-parent family homes lead to more economic stability and mobility while single parent family homes are more at risk for poverty.

Since the 1970s, the Hispanic community has grown 300%, now comprising 21% of the U.S. population under the age of 25. The impact of this expansion is reflected in the marketplace as Hispanics controlled $978 billion in spending power during 2009[1] and are expected to account for 74 percent of the increase in the nation’s labor force from 2010 to 2020.[2]   Nevertheless, this exponential growth is not without challenges to the family, education, poverty, mental health and immigration. For example, of the 6.1 million U.S. children living in poverty in 2010, 37.3 percent were Hispanic, as compared to 30.5 percent  white, and 26.6 black. [3] While the percentage of births outside of marriage increased for all ethnic groups, there is variability by race and ethnicity. Latinos and Whites account for the highest proportion of births outside of marriage, 65% Latinos and 61% Whites in comparison to 30% Blacks. In 1990, according to Child Trends, 37% of births to Latino women were non-marital in comparison to 53% in 2009.[4] Thus, the out-of-wedlock birth rate among Hispanics remains among the highest of all population groups.

 The trend is troubling since Hispanics have historically held a positive outlook on marriage and family life, emphasizing values within the traditional family. Economic strains, social isolation, immigration stress, barriers to marriage, and shifts to cultural norms have challenged the traditional family structure held closely by Hispanics. Hispanics have overcome the challenges faced through a strong work ethic, dependence on faith, and reliance on strong family values. The strong family values leading to the formation and sustenance of intact families that would otherwise protect children and their families from the ills of poverty are eroding.

 It is essential for the economic wellbeing of the country that anti-poverty policies be promoted not only by government-led initiatives but they encompass a community based approach that leverages the private sector, collaborates with the faith-based leaders, and is embraced by the community.  The problem is multi-faceted and the answers also need to be comprehensive in nature.  Promoting healthy marriage and fatherhood education programs, along with other social service programs such as job readiness and asset development, holds some promise as an effective intervention in reversing the current trends.  The Supporting Healthy Marriage Program Evaluation study of the Healthy Marriage Programs criticized by opponents of marriage and fatherhood programs had stronger effects for Hispanic and for more distressed couples.  These findings align with the local outcome studies of comprehensive programs implemented across the nation.  For example, Family Bridges, one of the largest federally-sponsored programs in the Midwest serving approximately 10,000 low-income (<100% of the federal poverty level) individuals, couples and families annually, of which 68% are Hispanics, has found in follow-up studies of low-income couples who engaged in the marriage education workshops large gains in parenting skills and a dramatic reduction in stress. In addition, follow-up outcomes conducted of those participants indicated that one-third of those relying on public aid when they took the workshops no longer needed that help two years after they completed the program.

Why have these programs worked for the Hispanic participants served by Family Bridges? Qualitative studies of interviews conducted with graduates of healthy marriage programs suggest at least three dynamics that influence change: (1) self-awareness brought about in the context of a trusting relationship; (2) a decision to change; (3) available resources that provide the needed guidance for the change process to occur. Participants served by Family Bridges either are dealing with generational or situational poverty. Generational poverty defined as having been in poverty for two generations or more is perpetuated by a cycle of hopelessness due to educational, parental and spiritual poverty. Without the hope and belief that life can be better, the motivation and energy to break the cycle is very low.  Couples and participants attending our programs gain a sense of hope as they witness others in similar distressful circumstances pull out and move forward. A renewed sense of hope, coupled with social and community supports and the needed resources, propels couples and individuals towards entering the change process.

Unless the marriage trend changes, our four-year-old will most likely enter into the school system with other Hispanic children who will not be raised with the benefits of a two-parent household. Other Hispanic children he befriends will most likely be at risk to be high school dropouts, to be teen parents, or to enter the juvenile system. These are the trajectories leading to poverty. Indeed, the marriage agenda is one of many interventions that, when implemented within a comprehensive community model, provides needed wrap-around and supportive services such as job skill development and is a promising practice for minorities as it draws on inherent cultural values that are appreciated and endorsed by many Hispanics.


[1] Selig Center for Economic Growth, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, July 2009.

[2] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[3] Pew Hispanic Center, Childhood Poverty Among Hispanics Sets Record, September 2011.

[4] CDC/National Center for Health Statistics.
January 20, 2014

Woodpecker Syndrome: How Not To Talk To Your Spouse

by Nadia Persun, Ph.D.

urlRemember the saying “Don’t go to bed angry”? Well, yesterday I did just that. While he did not come to bed at all. Falling asleep was an effort. My body was charged by adrenaline and my brain busily counted reasons why during our argument I was right. I was determined to regroup overnight and progress our wicked discussion until his proclamation of defeat. Letting go felt like a sign of neglect.

In the morning I woke up hollow eyed and drained. My anger was no longer intense but wobbly. But it did not go away completely, making it tempting to give him another run on the ways he had wronged me the day before. Just one more time, with greater resolve and firmness. But then again, he had a different take on things, was not ready to listen, shutting down and tuning me out. Charged with frustration, we did not speak for a few more hours. Lots of steam and fire and no resolve. Should I just try again? Maybe to make my point well requires just a tad more tenacity.

One partner keeps lecturing and persevering on his or her point, while the other one feels increasingly wary and disconnected. It is a toxic cycle that I see in many couples I counsel. So common that I named it: “Woodpecker Syndrome”. One partner is just not willing to give up, continuing toxic conversations and repeating rash lectures. It does not lead to any constructive dialogue, but a partner affected by the woodpecker syndrome perseveres, as if seeing some invisible “keep going” sign. She becomes a diligent and insensitive lecturer, making forceful monologues that drown in defensive silence. Nothing gets resolved, relationship deteriorates further. Both partners get exhausted and wary. This is a communication pattern of ever diminishing returns. Soon just the mentioning of “lets talk” makes one want to run or hide. A pattern of talking at someone, not to someone. It breeds disconnect and widens the relational rift. It does not matter how well intended the comments are, once they are delivered as a bullet point list of suggestions, as a stern monotone monologue with no intermissions. Such a way is doomed to just sink in silence and can’t serve any good purpose.

Loving well means telling it all and being persistent, if necessary, right? Not always. Sometimes you are wrong. And being wrong, angry, and stubborn is an annoying combination that never lets you to get through to anyone. A scavenger hunt of accusations will never lead to dialogue or connecting. Or sometimes it may be good advice delivered with bad timing. Person is not ready or capable of change at the moment. They need more support and empathy and less instructions. As said by Theodore Roosevelt, “Nobody knows how much you know, until they know how much you care.” For a change to take place, it has to be a good advice, delivered in an appropriate time, in a sensible manner.

A mixture of warped good intentions and self righteousness, charged by anger and repetition will never produce a way to communicate in a connecting way. Woodpeckers are persistent, critical and insistent on their point of view. Woodpeckers are prone to blame, don’t listen, keenly repeating things over, because someone’s reality dared to disagree with theirs. Their goal is not to communicate but to win at all costs, leading to compromised trust and loss of any hope of connecting and really hearing each other.

Once you turn into a woodpecker, you obsessively peck into someone’s skull, driving a pathway to their brain, insensibly ignoring the agony you may inflict. The other person gets pained, frustrated and defensive, trying to insulate themselves with silence. In turn, you feel like a tired driver wanting to get home but caught in thick traffic. You say more things, repeat them over, hoping for at least something to stick. But it feels like pressing the “scan” button on the car radio, trying to find some nice tunes but catching only static. With stress cells fully activated in both people, the situation only feels increasingly hopeless and agonizing.

Just stop talking. Take a hike, have a date with your TV friends, or take a bath and go to bed early. Rest, regroup, and then strategize. Try to seek a different approach, but please don’t quadruple your effort when something is not working. May be you are not going to get your way. Maybe not this time, or may be not ever on this specific matter. But then, perhaps you can love each other anyway? Or you may get through at some point, but not by pursuing things in such a destructive manner. If you recognize some patterns described here, just stop prodding and pecking. Or your heads will hurt and your relationship will get hollow.

January 13, 2014

You can do it: Just look into my eyes

Contributed by Dr. Charles Woehr

I-believe-you-can-do-itTwo civilian maintenance men working at an air force base were backstage peering through an opening in a curtain as a hypnotist entertained an audience of airmen and their families. Three volunteers from the audience were being hypnotized and made to believe they were fighter pilots. To begin and end the hypnotic state, two key words would be used: “Attention” and “Roger.” As the three volunteers began to fly their imaginary airplanes, the two maintenance men, accidentally hypnotized along with them, left the building, walked over to a fighter plane and flew off into the sky. In the ensuing conversations, both between each other and with the control tower, each time a “key word” came up they became either smooth talking fighter pilots or desperate maintenance men begging for help. When all was said and done, they landed safely and disaster was averted… it was only a movie, after all.

What is interesting about hypnosis is that people are suddenly able to believe they are capable of doing things they previously did not think possible for them. The prevalent type of hypnosis, in entertainment venues, shows a hypnotist using a watch swinging back and forth on a chain or some other mesmerizing gadget, often ending with the hypnotist uttering the proverbial words: look into my eyes. Have you ever asked yourself, what do those people see in the hypnotist’s eyes? While there are many possibilities – from the power of convincing to the willingness of the subject to be convinced – the end result is the same: the hypnotized person is convinced to believe something and then acts with confidence on that belief.

What is it that you would like to achieve in life, but lack the belief to accomplish? Have you really reached the limit of your abilities, strength, or creativity? Or are there untapped resources within you that you are not yet aware of?

Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston recorded a faith stirring duet entitled: When You Believe. In spite of personal fears and a sense of hopelessness, the chorus proclaims with a growing sense of conviction: “There can be miracles when you believe; though hope is frail it’s hard to kill. Who knows what miracle you can achieve when you believe, somehow you will. You will when you believe.”

Just look into the eyes of someone you trust — a parent, spouse, teacher, or friend — who also knows you and your potential: they believe in what you can accomplish. Then look into your own self, and start to believe in what more you can do, if you will believe. You can and will become a better friend, spouse, parent, or whatever you set your heart to do. It will take work, and there are those who are interesting in helping you get there. Check out the Family Bridges website for more ways to reach your full potential.

January 9, 2014

Attitude: It can make a world of difference

Contributed by Eva Fleming

positive-attitudeHave you ever had a day like the young boy had in the book by Judith Viorst - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?  Alexander’s day was not going well so his attitude started losing altitude early that morning: “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

Our attitudes can be compared to a microphone hooked up to a sound system that announces to the world the state of our soul. If deep within, we fear failure, dread discouragement and criticism, are poorly prepared to handle problems, and have no control over our thought patterns, our attitude is the megaphone that will announce it to the world. Often times we have little to no awareness of how we are reacting so our bad attitudes continue. It is not until we become aware of our attitudes that we understand that the ‘sound system’ is on and everyone can hear what’s deep within us. Think about it, who would like a loud microphone constantly announcing everyone’s inner thoughts for the world to hear? If all we hear is shrills, screams, and flat notes, I think we will get annoyed. Becoming aware of our attitude allows us to mute the ‘speakers’ so we can adopt a different view that can transform our thoughts, which in turn will improve our unfavorable reactions or ‘sounds’ to much more pleasant ones.

Some negative attitudes are helpful. It is appropriate to make those irritating noises for the whole world to hear once in a while. Since it is impossible to choose to have a good attitude every hour of every day, this allowance for the occasional bad attitude ends up being a good tool that can be stored and used when needed. An example of this would be when you find yourself rolling your eyes at a smoker and in so doing you make him feel compelled to stop his destructive behavior around you and your loved ones. In this case, having a bad attitude towards smoke and cigarettes is good for your health and your children’s lungs. But like I said, this type of bad attitude must be used sparingly.

Many of us had parents who instilled in us the right attitudes during our formative years. Yet we are surprised to see that even though we were once positive and perseverant, now we are negative and isolated. During the course of our lives we discovered that in order to belong we had to adapt. One of the most common ways to adapt to our new negative environment is emulating our peer’s attitudes; in other words, we learned how to be negative in order to fit in. But as we grow up emotionally, we come to realize that it might be time to unlearn those attitudes and relearn new ways to react to the world; or make the sounds that come from deep within us much more ‘melodious’.

Every morning when the sun rises, is a new opportunity to start fresh with a new attitude. Since attitude is something that I struggle with daily, adjusting my attitude every day is something I count as a privilege. As a parent I can show my children every day that the past doesn’t have absolute control on my attitude; I am not held hostage to the failures of yesterday. Today I can come to understand anew that I don’t have to be so hard on myself or others because no one is perfect; that “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”.   I can show them how to be brave as I daily learn to change my attitude one flat note at a time. So when the microphone is turned on, people don’t hear the sounds of a defeated, pathetic attitude but the pleasant sounds of a good attitude even when I’m having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

January 6, 2014

The Promises I WILL Keep This Year

Contributed by Jane June, PsyD

Resolutions-411x306I’ve always had mixed feelings around making New Year’s resolutions. Oftentimes, I set myself up by making resolutions that are impossible to sustain so they end up discarded by February or I let the busyness of life drown out my good intentions and forget about them along the way. Either way, I end up feeling badly about not keeping them. Can anyone relate?

So, as 2014 is quickly approaching I am faced with a dilemma. Do I make new promises or do I forgo them altogether? I have yet to decide, but I do have some thoughts on what I’d like to hold onto in the new year.

As a working mom of two little ones, I find myself hurried and overwhelmed by all the things that need to get done. Whether it’s cooking a meal, doing laundry, or shooting out a work email in between naps, playdates and preschool, I feel like the demands of life don’t slow down and neither do I! When you find yourself going grocery shopping between 11pm-midnight, there is no slowing down.

But, it’s when I step back and look at what is most precious to me, I realize that being efficient and productive is not what’s most important. It’s my children, my husband, and the people around me that I value the most and if I focus all of my energy in trying to get things done, I will miss out on what’s most important.

So, in 2014, I promise to hold onto relationships and people, and I can only hold onto this if I make myself available emotionally, mentally, and physically. This means making space in my life for people to enter and for relationships to grow. It means doing less and saying no to extra commitments, not because they aren’t worthy, but because I know it will keep me from holding onto what is most precious: my family, my friends, and a healthy me.

November 11, 2013

Dads: Walk the walk. Your kids are watching and they will follow!

Contributed by Veronica Cruz  

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It’s no news that child obesity has become a growing problem in the US.  Kids more than ever are consumed by the use of technology: tablets, phones, video games – you name it! It seems like they’re less inclined to get involved in physical activities. But listen up Dads! Even when technology can be a major influence, you ARE their biggest influence!

According to the CDC, in 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were obese.  Additionally, children and teens who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults and have more health problems.

I’m not a dad, but I do have a friend who chose to change his lifestyle and who has seen positive outcomes in his life as a father and a husband. If he can do it, so can you!

Armando Salazar has been happily married to his wife Adriana for 12 years and has three children, an 11yr old girl and two boys, ages 10 and 4. This H.S. weight lifter who, as he says, “lifted weights to help his self-esteem issues” had lost interest in exercising and lived a passive lifestyle for years, which changed his body and health for the worse. But that changed 15 months ago when, through Facebook (yes, technology!), he was introduced to running through a friend who started a small running group called the Running Peeps. Armando says his life “has drastically changed in a fulfilled and positive way”, since he began running. Even more exciting was the domino effect his new passion had on his family. His wife joined him a week later running in the same group and shortly after decided to make an impact on school-age girls. So she became a coach for their daughter’s running school program called (GOTR) Girls on the Run. Armando says she’s been instrumental and a huge support in his new running passion. She has also changed their family’s cooking habits for the better. Today, he feels lucky to have all-around positive influence & passion in their family & their new (running group) friends. His kids find both mom and dad impressive: “It’s cool and overwhelming when your kids think highly of you & tell you that they want racing medals like mommy and daddy!” He says they’re looking forward to competing when they are able to. Meanwhile, they cheer mom and dad on during their races. But, you see, running has also brought the family together: “This past summer we enjoyed more outdoor activities than in the last 10yrs. We shared more bike rides, family runs, and hiking than ever before. Running has brought our family closer & we have a closer bond because of it.”

Armando just ran his first Chicago Marathon and hopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon some day. “I want to show my kids that a goal is always attainable as long as YOU believe and not let life circumstances get in the way of reaching them.” And since sharing is caring, Armando invites dads and moms who want to live a healthier lifestyle to join their awesome running group “Running Peeps,” which have grown from 20 to 350+ runners. Check them out on Facebook.

Dads, we encourage you: Walk the walk. They’re watching, and they will follow.

February 9, 2012

You shall date your spouse!

Contributed by Family Bridges Staff

Small talk. That smile. You are special. How sweet. Be mine. Love you. I am yours. Only you. Soul mate. True love. Marry me. Live happily ever after.

You got together with your partner in life for many reasons: shared perspectives and outlooks, physical attraction, shared spirituality, shared professional lives, etc. But you also enjoyed one another’s company because it’s fun! In the beginning, you did not have much but each other, but it was enough. There were sweet words, long phone talks, walks and candlelit dinners. You had meaningful conversations, sharing your dreams and goals, planning your future together. What is your relationship like today? Does it still include fun times together, romancing each other or have you resorted to talking about and handling chores and responsibilities related to children, career and other duties of adult life?

When fun leaves a relationship, it can be a sign that the relationship is heading toward the rocks. Fun is a part of life and it’s definitely a part of any healthy relationship. It’s something that brought you together, made you want to stay with each other. It is something that helps you stay together, survive life’s hardships and forgive each other in bitter moments. When life gets difficult, it puts a heavy weight on your scale of marital balance, dragging it down. Good times together is the weight that you put on the other side of the scale, to give you a much needed internal lift. It helps you put things in perspective, balance it out and feel good about yourself, your partner, and your life together.

The way you and your significant other define fun is up to you, but it’s important to keep doing it even as your relationship matures. Love to dance but haven’t been in years? It’s time to make a new dance date. Liked watching movies together, but haven’t made time to do it in months (or years)? Pick a night and head to a theater or rent a movie. Have dinner in a restaurant or cook a meal together at home.

Remember that in our most bitter moments, what we crave most is some sweetness. In the midst of busyness and stress, we desperately desire lighthearted fun and relaxing moments. You don’t have to wait till things get tough to consider bringing fun back into your life. Nor do you have to wait for a special day, like a birthday or Valentine’s to become romantic and create special memories for the two of you. Do these things for you, for your spouse, for both of you as a family everyday, starting now. If you’ve noticed that your family bank of fun is depleted, begin depositing happy tokens today.

The Chicago Date Challenge can help you with some fun ideas and locate some couple friendly events in your neighborhood: www.datenightchallenge.com/chicago

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