A smiling Heart! A tingly tummy! I know that glorious glowing feeling! You have a deep inner knowing that your love will last
forever and ever more. Whether high school sweethearts or years spent searching, you found your life’s companion, a partner to embrace
you through all life’s highs, lows, and in betweens as you merrily row, row, row your boat through this crazy upside down world. You
believe that you have the love of all loves, surpassing any Shakespearean play as you wistfully follow your own kaleidoscopic brick road
to the magical land of Happily Ever After.
Of course you’re ecstatic! But, sometimes, even with chemistry fiery enough to split an atom and promises sealed with a kiss, love just
isn’t enough. Outside factors have a way of seeping into your lives, playing nasty tricks of illusion and negatively influencing your
marriage. Then, just as the steady trickle of a stream erodes the mighty rock into a tiny pebble, your love is in jeopardy, yet you can’t
identify any particular day or defining moment. It just happens.
Regretfully, I speak from personal experience as I went from being one-half of a couple who was madly, no, scratch that, to say that I was
“madly” in love doesn’t do my love justice. I was passionately in love. Yes, passionately is more like it---with a bold capital P. I was
positive that we would grow old together and finish each other’s sentences. But reality stepped in after 23 years, and, faster than you can
say “I DO,” I found myself checking single on my tax return. By the time we sought counseling, the relationship was far too fractured to be
repaired. Divorce the only option.
Why would a divorced woman have the audacity to write a book that offers advice about love relationships? After my marriage ended, I
felt like a complete and total failure. For the longest time, I questioned, “What did I do wrong? Why would he have an affair?” I honestly
thought that I was a good wife. I foolishly thought that we were happy.
What lesson was I to learn?
While no one in a failed relationship is totally absolved of fault, I read how-to articles, books on marriage and searched the Internet for
quality advice seeking absolution for any role I may have played. I craved to know why and when the erosion began. How could I have
missed such an important moment that defined my future?
As I read university research, books, articles and listened to experts for marriage advise, I recognized a consistent message in what they
were saying. Before long, I found myself buying legal pads and cross referencing the most common threads of information. I then took my
notes and rewrote the findings, keeping it informative yet concise.
Forewarned is forearmed became my adopted saying as Mindfully Ever After slowly took shape. It naturally developed as a guide for
couples to identify problems before they manifest. My hope is that you will take the time to read and reread these pages full of rich tips
until you are able to mindfully recognize those sneaky outside factors. Prevention is key, like when you eliminate the nest of bumble bees
burrowed under your roof’s shingles before they come swarming into your home.
As you read Mindfully Ever After, I encourage you to take time to examine your actions of the past and your thoughts of today. Crossing
over the marriage threshold, it’s only natural to bring along a bevy of expectations, beliefs, and perceptions from your past ---after all,
that’s what made you who you are. To successfully nurture your love union through the days and years of togetherness takes mindful
awareness of the combination of today and yesterdays.
There are many mindfully ever after marriages and yours is most likely one of them. You have the free-will consciousness to make that
choice. By becoming aware of the snags and snares ahead of time, you gain sure footed confidence to keep the sanctity of your vows.
Think of your marriage as a garden that needs to be tendered, carefully and lovingly. Regardless of how much mulch is spread, constant
vigilance is still necessary. If not, weeds will still find a way to wiggle through, bugs will feast on lush leaves and delicate petals, and
before the day’s end, your garden is overgrown and infested.
While there is no one-size-fits-all for anyone, by being aware of the suggestions in Mindfully Ever After, along with your unyielding
vigilance, you stand a better chance of preventing problems or gain know-how to quickly resolve them. As your marriage garden is
nourished, your lives are enriched with love and light to flourish and thrive for all your days.
Understand that life is unpredictable. There are no guarantees. As in any relationship, arguments are certain to happen and all kinds of
problems will arise. With trust and deep faith within your heart and inner spirit, journeying hand-in-hand on this wondrous adventure
called love, you are not alone. You have each other.
Living in the zone of mindfulness is a pathway to a loving, calm and caring tomorrow. Thank you for accompanying Mindfully Ever After
on your journey. Godspeed.
CREATING A WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE
Pre-planning along with posting activities and appointments
keeps everyone informed and reduces stress.
Music, flowers, laughter and living in Grace all contribute to an inviting
atmosphere of living in peace and harmony.
The atmosphere of your home is an invisible energy field that affects every sense of your being. It’s like when you get goose bumps when love
is in the air or feel the heaviness after an argument. Music, laughter and living in Grace are ways to raise the vibrational level of any home.
Jackie belongs to a group where there is one miserable member who I’ll call Olga.* At every meeting, Olga constantly complains about her
job, her family, her house; her health, etc. You name it, Olga vigorously finds something to complain about. At their last meeting, one of the
members had had enough and bluntly blurted, “You know, Olga, research shows that people who are grateful are happier with their lives…and
so are the people around them.” Silence followed as the other members sat in ‘grateful’ shock. Turns out, Olga didn’t realize how uncomfortable
she was making everyone with her negativity. She lasted a few months keeping her judgmental attitude in check, but gradually returned to her
native tongue of complaint.
When cynicism and intolerance are constant companions, pay attention to the people around you and notice how the negative comments affect
the entire energy field of the room. Be aware of how often you complain---Don’t behave like ‘Olga.’
How do you speak to your partner? Do you greet him or her with a hug or criticism? Are your words filled with care and concern or coldness
and indifference? Even if you’re on a swinging door schedule, a quick kiss and “I’ll see you later to hear about your day!” does wonders to
elevate a feel-good atmosphere.
Want to go that extra step to create an inviting environment? Music has the ability to calm the anxious mind, electrify the energy of the room
and enhance the mood for passionate love making.
The sense of smell plays a powerful role in creating a welcoming atmosphere. A bouquet of flowers brings beauty to the table while its sweet
fragrance pleases the senses. The aroma of freshly baked goodies adds to a warm, homey atmosphere.
Laughter is another sure fire way to increase the lightness of energy. Watching comedies, healthy joking around, humorous stories or even
telling silly knock-knock jokes all adds to an uplifting atmosphere.
Kind words of encouragement, patience and compassion are all ways to live in Grace, along with the unspoken message, ‘I care about what’s
happening in your life.’ If your family has a hectic schedule, as most couples do in today’s world, arrange at least one leisurely mealtime
together per week.
To feel less like ships passing in the night and more like ships following the beam of light to a safe harbor, one technique that’s helpful is to
make it a priority to review the upcoming week’s calendar of events, appointments, etc. When it’s written on a calendar, there’s no need for “I
already told you!” or “I forgot!” A hanging erasable calendar is inexpensive and easy to find. Weekly updates helps with keeping everyone
No one is suggesting that you walk around with a goofy grin pasted on your face or that the neighbor’s kid feels free to raid your refrigerator.
Nor does it have anything to do with being white glove clean. Rather, a home filled with love and joy, along with thoughtful and kind
consideration for one another provides an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and at ease to be themselves.
* As a kid, we had a neighbor named Olga who was equally as miserable. There is no disrespect implied to the name itself, which means “holy,” “sacred,” or “blessed.”
HOW APPRECIATION CAN RAISE YOUR DOPAMINE
Set aside Appreciation Time to tell your partner something that
was done for you and why you appreciate it.
Keep it fresh by not repeating the same thing for a week.
Morning routines are hectic! Come to think of it, so are afternoons and evenings. With everything going on in your life, how are you
expected to make time to show appreciation when you barely have time to whiten your teeth!
Every time you show appreciation, you’re creating positive neural pathways in the brain. These pathways become embedded memories in
the subconscious. As a result, each time you offer appreciation and gratitude, you’re automatically reinforcing positive patterns and creating a
chain reaction of particular chemicals being released in the brain.
Although the chemicals aren’t sold over the counter at the local drug store, they are conveniently located in the brain of every human being.
These are natural feel-good chemical compounds named Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins. An easy way to remember them is
by using the anagram D.O.S.E. These particular chemicals are found in the neurotransmitters of the brain that work with receptors to produce
positive thoughts, feelings, and actions. Although they are all considered to be Happy Chemicals, Dopamine is the one member of the feel-
good chemical group that is often given credit for providing you with a rush of high while increasing your self-confidence.
In other words, Dopamine is an innate feel-good messenger of the brain that keeps increasing every time you perform any act of kindness. It
can’t help itself! As the Dopamine level increases, motivation to do more is also stimulated.
Want to raise your Dopamine level even more? To amplify that feel good feeling, start by eating certain foods, like bananas, almonds, and
dark chocolate. Another way is to have an orgasm. But since it isn’t likely, or practical, that you go throughout your day eating bananas and
having orgasms, a much simpler way of boosting your happy chemicals is by showing appreciation.
Yep, through Appreciation Time, whenever you offer praise and say why you feel grateful, your Dopamine level receives an upbeat
message, improving the chances of increased kindnesses in order for the brain’s neurotransmitters to release more natural chemical bliss. All
you have to do is say something nice!
Remember to include all household members to make everyone feel appreciated. Before you know it, kids won’t need to be reminded to
take out the garbage once you start noticing and appreciating when they do along with why you’re grateful.
Get a zing from Dopamine!
EMBRACE EVERY ACCOMPLISHMENT
Offer sincere praise for your partner’s accomplishments.
Big or small, celebrate and be proud of your partner!
As a new bride, I wasn’t much of a cook. Oh, I conquered the basics well enough, but the challenge of making lump-free mashed potatoes
and gravy escaped my kitchen prowess. They were too thick, too thin, or too lumpy. I used too much flour, too little broth, too much salt, not
enough butter. Until… one Thanksgiving, I made the absolute best mashed potatoes and gravy ever made on that thankful day! Everything I
cooked was perfect. It was like the fairy godmother of lump-free food waved her magic wand and I could do no wrong.
When my husband told me how delicious everything was and how proud he was of me, I was like a little kid! “Watch me swim!” “Watch
me swing!” “Watch me make gravy!” It’s embarrassing to admit, but I remember telling him every single step of the mashed potato and gravy
process and how I did it! As adults, no one expects you to gush with every pass of the gravy boat and it’s not like I wasn’t going to write a
cookbook, but I was grateful to be acknowledged.
While some skills come easily to one person, these same skills may be a challenge to another. Beware of letting your ego get caught up in
how wonderfully clever you are with the mastery of expertise in your tool belt. Whether it’s creamy gravy, a long-awaited promotion or earning
a certificate of achievement---the level of accomplishment is your own perception as to the degree of difficulty. It’s the sincere encouragement
and support that go a long way in your partner’s eyes.
Sometimes, though, an accomplishment by one partner can be a two edged sword. When the kids became school age, and I wanted to return
to the classroom, teaching jobs were scarce. My husband and I decided that I would open a wallpaper and paint store. Coming from a teaching
background, building a successful business was a huge deal to me. I had to learn a lot about record keeping, ordering, and so much more. After
a few years, when the business was secure and taking root in the community, my husband, who had a business degree, decided to sell his beer
distributor business and join me, which was our long term goal.
At first, I was thrilled to have a mom and pop store! But once he arrived, it was clear that we weren’t great at being co-owners. No matter
what I did, it was wrong. After a year, the Universe must have decided enough was enough when a school district called me out of nowhere,
offering me a position as a long term substitute. I gratefully accepted and left the business entirely in his hands. To say he was not happy is
putting it mildly. But I was a teacher. He was a businessman. Never the twain should meet in a wallpaper and paint store.
Human nature is a funny thing when egos come into play. Of course egos are necessary to have anything accomplished in this world. But
when it comes to accomplishments of your partner, egos need to be set aside. It’s time to remember that it isn’t about you, so don’t bother to
offer a string of empty praises. It’s about having the genuine satisfaction that you confirmed confidence in the person you love.
Meanwhile, if you’re on the other side of the coin, don’t let your accomplishment go to your head, or, as my mom would say, “Don’t get too
big for your britches, Missy!” or “Mister” if she was talking to my brothers. It seems that anyone approaching the big britches status wasn’t
worthy to be called by name. Be proud of your accomplishments, but also remember to keep it real.
In the movies, who do you root for? Is it the obnoxious blowhard or the guy who is humble and supportive? Besides, acknowledging your
partner’s accomplishments is sexy.
Accept your partner with all his or her small quirks, habits and little annoyances.
Uncle Mike picked his teeth with a toothpick. Aunt Jane repeatedly blew her nose then tucked her hankie up her sleeve for easy access.
Annoyances to be sure, but since they were two of the kindest people ever known, these habits were accepted by the family without comment.
Everyone has little quirks or annoyances adopted at an early age, some more annoying than others, like wiping your hands on your shirt
sleeve. When you first began dating, everything is rosy! Each of you are putting your best foot forward focusing all of your attention on getting
to know each other’s basic interests. At this level, you don’t know if he leaves sweaty socks on the living room floor, the toilet seat up, or
cleans his facial hairs out of the bathroom sink. You don’t know if her clothes are strewn all over the bedroom, if she’ll use your razor on her
legs or forget to put the lid on the toothpaste. These are things you learn after making a commitment.
After living with your partner a while, the habits that you either didn’t notice or that didn’t bother you at the beginning stages may become
maddening! You’ve nagged, begged and pleaded for change and it still hasn’t worked. So what do you do? Some habits are easy fixes, like
using silent reminder post-a-notes on the bathroom mirror, “remember to clean out the sink” or the car steering wheel, “remember to get gas.”
You need to be able to communicate how irritating it can be finding hairs in the sink or getting into a car on empty.
Make certain to share with your partner how much you’re bothered by whatever it is. Use your “I” statements. “Honey, I feel uncomfortable
when I get into bed and it’s covered with potato chip crumbs. Could you please not eat in bed?”
Instead of nit-picking, focus on his positive traits and have gratitude for the richness he adds to your life. Check your anxiety level to see if
there is something else that is troubling you. There’s the saying, “crap slides downhill.” In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, when the easy
going character George Bailey can’t find the missing money and the bank examiner is breathing down his neck, he starts spiraling downward.
When his son Pete tells him about the neighbor’s car, he says, “What’s the matter with our car? Isn’t it good enough for ya!’” He complains
about the house being a “drafty old barn” He tells Zuzu’s teacher she’s a “silly, stupid teacher” He screams at Janie’s piano playing telling her to
“Stop it!” While this is an exaggerated scene and hopefully your day isn’t as bad as George’s, but if you have stress piling up on you every day,
you could be acting out your personal stress by complaining about your partner’s habits. Think, what are you really upset about and why?
It’s important to note that there are definite behaviors that can ruin any relationship. These go beyond the annoyances of finding potato chips
in bed and often have to do with bodily functions or cleanliness, putting the job or other people first, not spending enough time together,
excessive nagging or being overly critical. If any of these behaviors sound familiar, there could be underlying currents of bigger problems that
need to be addressed.
When you accept each other’s minor quirks and habits, you remain one solid unit. Change what you can and accept what you can’t. In other
words, don’t sweat the small stuff.
You don’t need someone to complete you.
You only need someone to accept you completely.