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TOP 10 TIPS FOR SUMMER VACATION FUN
1. GET AWAY !

2. When traveling on a long trip, wrap inexpensive gifts to
give small children to keep them occupied along the
way.

3. Plan together as a family—it will help with the
expectations

4. Try to do things that are fun for each family member.

5. Leave cell phones and pagers in the room for a day—
you won’t die!

6. HAVE FUN, lighten up and enjoy your life together
while you have the time.

7. Budget and use coupons for dinner and attractions—
usually there are discount books or local magazines
for tourists that will save you a lot of money.

8. Don’t be in a hurry—take your time to do a few things
and enjoy them.

9. Get some books to read about the place(s) you will be
visiting—this creates vision and anticipation.

10. Pray before, during, and after. Give thanks and you
will draw near to each other as you draw near to HIM.

HAVE A GREAT TIME THIS SUMMER!
TIPS FOR REALLY UNDERSTANDING

After this great communication workshop we had, the next day Pauly and I had to use all our skills we had just taught. The enemy never likes us to get to comfortable I guess. Pauly told me sometimes she is talking or asking questions to “reach out” or get “close” to me. I think she keeps asking the same thing or telling me the same thing, and it is irritating cause she just said it.

What I am learning is that I need to feed it back to her. What we call “Closing the Loop”. Don’t judge, don’t give a clever answer, just feed it back. She also tells me these days she does not like “room to room” conversations. We have a loft in our house and it is easy to just yell something over the side. But Pauly may be in the kitchen or there may be some ambient noise that keeps her from hearing me. So I need to make extra sure that I come down to her, or she comes up, before we engage in a conversation.

By the way I would enjoy the same thing from her. How about you, how are you talking to each other lately? Room to room? Or “cheek to cheek”? This tip may save you from going to “the dog house”.

Causes of Unmet Expectations
Causes of unmet expectations:

· Selfishness – Wanting what we want when we want it regardless of the cost to the other person. Or on the receiving end, what happens when you clearly express your expectations, and your partner fails to comply or says no or says yes but doesn’t follow through?

· Withholding information – Attempting to appear unselfish, this spouse doesn’t disclose his or her preferences or desires, then resents or criticizes his or her partner for failing to “meet his or her needs” or not understanding him or her. Isn’t it interesting how often stiflers are married to expressors?

· Miscommunication – Failure to “close the loop” may set the stage for frustrating mixed signals. Once, at Knott’s Berry Farm, Pauly took the boys on a ride, and I said I’d meet them “right here,” then decided to take Jessica on the train ride. Pauly got off her ride, expecting to see me and didn’t know what to do. I got off my ride and she wasn’t there. We wandered the park separately for the next several hours until she finally found Jessi
and me in the parking lot at closing time (which totally ruined Pauly’s enjoyment of the time, by the way).

· Insensitivity – Not understanding each other’s feelings and walking all over them. Biting remarks, sarcasm, thoughtless words, yelling or snapping at your spouse because “I had a bad day” characterize the mate who expects his or her partner to endure, submit, love, honor, and obey no matter how he or she is treated.

· Family of origin patterns – Each of us tends to view our childhood home life, no matter how dysfunctional, as “normal.” Often our idealistic values influence our actions less than the model our parents provided. These patterns affect our perceptions of roles, time management, holidays, humor, childrearing, celebrations, finances, and etiquette, just to name a few.

· Core values – Despite shared love for the Lord, a Christian couple may hold diverse positions based on education, upbringing, and influential people in their lives. Bev comes from a conservative church background that forbade dancing, card playing and movies. Bob, who accepted Christ later in life, grew up without restrictions or the benefit of a Christian upbringing. Combining their views and values presents a continual challenge for them.

· Personality – Jeri always expects the worst, Tom thinks everything works out for the best, Glenn believes he can “fix it” no matter what, while Stuart rages at the injustice in the world. As a new bride, Pauly (the perfectionist) expected me not to make mistakes, while I (the generalist) learn by making mistakes. Our basic personalities are determined by God, so celebrate them. Yet partners with opposite approaches to life’s situations may find themselves in continual conflict based on their expectations.

Different fears affect how we react to situations so that our partner doesn’t always respond in what we assume should be a normal and logical way to behave.
What steps can you take to “flatten the bumps” unmet expectations to make in your relationship work? Here are eight suggestions to smooth out that bumpy road, that leads to a successful marriage:

1) Gain awareness of your own expectations. Many people don’t even think about their expectations; they just act them out. Once you recognize your internal desires and motivations, you’re better equipped to share them with your spouse and to defuse the sometimes-mystifying range of emotions that accompany unfulfilled expectations. Stiflers need to practice getting in touch with and expressing their wants.

2) Develop the “want-to.” You must have the desire and willingness to release your expectations, to not insist on your own way, to compromise, to adjust. Ask the Lord to soften your heart. It’s important for the expressor to ask the stifler about his or her wants before expressing their own desires (after which the stifler may not want to express for fear of appearing cantankerous or selfish then facing possible rejection).

3) Make the Truth your standard. Sometimes it’s easier to apply Scripture to others’ situations than to your own. Prayerful reading of the Bible gives us God’s plumb line for our marriages. Healthy introspection, journaling, prayer and meditation on God’s Word help adjust your expectations to match God’s character rather than your own selfish desires.

4) Get objectivity. Home groups, support groups for your issues, and counselors (whether professional or not) all provide unique settings where we can feel free to share openly. Talking with a trusted confidante may open your eyes to those things about yourself you don’t see on your own.

5) Observe other healthy marriages. Forming a network of couples who meet regularly to socialize, share, and pray for one another provides opportunity to see how others interact. Bring specific discussion questions to learn how both spouses feel about the issues affecting their marriages.

6) Talk to your spouse. Communicate with one another in a peaceful, relaxed setting. Ask for feedback on how you’re coming across (perhaps, demanding or whining). Use open questions, such as, “What do you think I want regarding this issue” or “What am I doing to cause you to respond to me in a defensive way?” If you find talking face to face too threatening, try writing out your questions and responses in letters to each other. If it is to threatening to talk at the moment, take a “time out” and ask for a specific time to talk later. It’s no less selfish to withhold information about your expectations than to express it. Either way, the desires are still there. And to expect your partner to mind read is unrealistic and sets up impossible performance standards.

7) Pray together. The honesty and humility required when you come together before the Lord will put you both on equal ground at the foot of the cross. In that place of spiritual openness and vulnerability, the Holy Spirit can convict you of unrealistic or selfish desires.

8) Have fun. With all our responsibilities, many of us never take time off just to have a good time, especially with their spouse.

Conclusion: Nurture an atmosphere or culture of love.

Dr. Gary Rosberg says in his book The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women:
“In our national survey, a majority of both men and women told us that unconditional love is their number one love need from their marriage partner. No doubt many would expect the number one need for men to be sex and number one need for women to be communication, but that was not what we found. Instead, as different as men and women can be, both agreed on this one truth: We all need to be loved unconditionally by our spouse.”

APPLICATION QUESTIONS:

What is an unrealistic expectation that you have of your partner?

How can you gain a realistic perspective on him or her?

What would you like or do you expect from your partner that is possible for him or her to do?

Pray for each other that God will help you love one another and expect the best.

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Attitude + Skills => Understanding
This equation encircles our CommuniStar diagram like a wedding band. It reminds us that possessing communication skills alone doth not a successful relationship make.

Repeating what your partner has said may be a loving demonstration of your desire to understand his or her viewpoint. On the other hand, merely mouthing back their words while you grind your teeth waiting to demolish their arguments proves only that you have good short-term memory (and possibly TMJ problems).

A desire for payback is a normal human response to emotional pain. But the CommuniStar is not designed to be flung at our partner like an Oriental martial arts weapon. Its usefulness lies in getting us in touch with ourselves so we can give our partner an accurate portrayal of our internal world. Yet even communication "experts" fail to connect with one another when they want to vent their emotions more than to hear their partner's point of view. Alan and I (Pauly) were once told by a friend listening to us argue, "Your skills are great, but your attitudes stink."

And he was right. We both needed to repent of our pride and desire to "win" at the expense of our relationship. The Lord calls us to "regard one another as more important than [ourselves]" (Philippians 2:3). If we truly "have that attitude in us which was also in Christ Jesus," then we are well on our way to an "accurate exchange of information for understanding. (Not winning.)"

When our attitudes are right, we both win.
How to get her to respond
How do I get her to respond?
By Alan and Pauly Heller Walk & Talk Ministries www.walkandtalk.org

Jerry, a sales representative for a textile firm, makes frequent calls on the furniture design studio where Mary works. He finds her attractive, and, hoping that the feeling is mutual, asks her to lunch. She says yes, and they make a date for the following day. Over a double cheeseburger (Jerry) and dieter’s choice salad with the dressing on the side (Mary), they share life stories. Their eyes meet across the table, and Jerry, feeling encouraged by Mary’s smiling response, remarks, “Your diet seems to be working really well.”

Silence. She frowns. The emotional temperature drops 20 degrees. Uh oh, he thinks, suddenly not knowing what to do with his hands. He tries to make a joke, reminding her of something they’d just been laughing about, inwardly pleading for a return of her smile. Mary stares at her plate, hands folded in her lap.

Jerry asks, “Is something wrong?”

“No,” Mary replies, then adds flatly, “I think I am ready to go now. Waiter, separate checks, please.”.

When a woman is offended, she closes her heart and her mouth too. A man wants to know, “How do I get her to open up?” George Barna of the Barna Research Institute tells us that the Baby Boomer generation will have the most divorces ever. And Gen Xers may be even worse. Why is this? Men and women do not know how to relate and really understand or commit to each other.

This kind of statistic is discouraging, but it’s why we feel the need to fight for healthy marriages through the ministry of Walk & Talk—to help people who are married, or thinking of marriage to be strong and proactive in their relationships.

Many men wonder how to get a woman to open up and respond positively after an offense. In our book The Marital Mystery Tour (available at www.walkandtalk.org), we share the importance of a man accepting a woman’s invitation to enter her world, or see life’s situations from her point of view. She wants him to relate to her, not fix her. She wants to know that he is “safe” and that he won’t be angry with her if she tells him something that she thinks he might not want to hear. So, men, ask yourself as you go on that date with her, “Am I fixing her or listening to her?” Not just waiting for your turn silently or giving a grunt for a response.

In our Communication Connections Workshop we teach couples skills to defuse the emotional tension that accompanies misunderstanding and help them learn to actively listen to one another and verbally “close the loop.” Each partner learns to be self-responsible and share his or her perspective using “I-statements” instead of the “you’s” that frequently put the other person on the defensive. Couples learn to “feed back” what’s been said without attacking the other person.

By simply reflecting or restating what one has heard until the message’s sender says “that’s it,” the receiver demonstrates respect and value and, ultimately, love A simple skill but not used in the normal conversations of those trying to get to know one another or for that matter understand each other. But weather you are a couple or single looking for Mr. Right or Miss Right, the principle is the same. This is just a start.

Males tend to want to know the “bottom line” of a story before getting all the small details filled in. They process information linearly, in categories and boxes. But the female mind usually works along a much more complex framework of mental and emotional wiring; she wants to relay the whole picture, including background, colors, smells, and how it all affected her, and eventually she will get to the point of what it is she is saying. Women tend to want to relate; men, on the other hand, want to fix problems, take action and reach a specific goal. They want to know “What do you want?” so they can do it.

So here is a practical tip for getting her to respond. Take time to reflect what she says before giving her the answer. Close the loop with her or him and say, “are you saying…” and then in your own words tell them what you heard. This will lead to a much refreshing conversation. And guys, she will feel a lot more valued in the process, and will respond to you. Give it a try. Let us know how it went as you practice this tip. Contact us at alan@walkandtalk.org.

Talking with Pauly: Limps and Thorns
Jacob's Limp

It was never the same,
His thigh,
After God
Touched him there.
In our weakness
His strength
Carries us.
A thorn in the flesh
Nagged Paul,
A reminder,
You can’t go it alone.
Remember
Your limp.
Embrace
Your thorn.
–Pauly Heller

We all need a limp, a place God has touched in our body or our soul. Not debilitating, but enough weakness to remind us of the strength of His hand. Maybe it's my sore back or my insecurity or my fear of failure. Maybe my disorganization bumping against Alan's punctuality is God’s way of speaking to me: “Don’t forget, you need Me. I've touched you in this place so you won’t forget.”

Remember and thank Him for the thorns and the limp in your life.
 

LISTENING SKILLS
This is a great teaching on listening
not only for cross cultural situations
but for general interaction and communication.
 

How to Make Holidays Work for You
CHRISTMASTIME
“O-o-o Christmastime… We’ll all be fine in a week or two,” is part of the lyric of our daughter-in-law, JJ’s, new song Christmastime. “Wasn’t it just July?” she sings, “I was alone in my room without a cousin in sight.” This is the time of year when families get together only to find out that nobody has changed and that their expectations of a joyful reunion were about as realistic as a second virgin birth.

What can help you make the holidays work? How can you spend time with relatives and not be let down? Every year, my family congregates in Florida for a week with the Heller clan at Thanksgiving. My siblings and I are very diverse in terms of our values, politics, and even where we live… Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and New York.
How do we, the Hellers from Phoenix, spend a week in close quarters with relatives who will argue passionately and articulately for viewpoints nearly the opposite of our own?
First, we recognize that they do not know Jesus as their Lord. We’ve learned to not take personally what feel like attacks on us, even though they’re painful at times. Many of my family members’ opinions are simply an outgrowth of their condition as “natural” men and women (not knowing the Lord).

Second, Pauly and I have committed to stay connected with our families to be examples to them of God’s Truth, even when it is not comfortable, and to love them with the love of the Lord.

Third, we pray a lot before we go. And we get others to pray for us, too.
Fourth, we try to look at what is good about being together and not focus on the differences that could drive us all apart.
How will you deal with your family this holiday season? We suggest asking the Lord to help you make the best of it, and thanking Him that you have family to get together with, even telling them how much you love them (no matter how dysfunctional they may be). You may need to establish boundaries with certain family members. Or you may need to just “hang in there” and look for God’s purpose for you to be with them. Perhaps God has put you where you are to be used by Him in their lives.

May He use you and bless you this year with your family. And may you major on those things you agree on rather than those things you differ on.