Vida Brown

Vida Brown

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It's All About The Possibilities

By: Davida Brown  

So today is my husband’s birthday. I love celebrating him and the fact that he’s seen another year on this earth. I love celebrating all the milestones he’s achieved. I love hearing about all the things he’s looking forward to in the next year. I love hearing about his dreams for himself. I love hearing and talking about all the possibilities for him.

As I reflect on our conversations, I can’t help but think about the possibilities for our marriage. When we were dating and early in our marriage, we spent hours talking about our future and our dreams. We talked about what we wanted for ourselves, what we wanted for us. I loved those conversations, because they reflected such an optimistic view of our future. They made me feel like no dream for us was too big. They made me feel like we could get through anything together because we believed in us and that there would always be an us. I suspect most of you reading this post once felt the same. Oh those possibilities.

But, alas, time moves on and those possibilities seem to vanish into thin air. All the stuff you have to do every day takes front and center. All the baggage from stuff you’ve been through with your spouse and have not let go stay in the mix. Possibilities? Many of you are trying to survive marriage, to get through the here and now. Possibilities? They’re off the table.

But what if you had the capacity to hold on to the possibilities? What if the possibilities that somehow seemed within reach when you dreamt them, wished them, believed them are in fact possible. What if you grabbed your spouse by the hand, looked him or her in the eye, and said, “Remember when we said we wanted [X], we’d do [Y], we’d be [Z]. We can do it.” What if?

The thing is, you control the destiny of your marriage. You can be the couple you always dreamed you’d be. You can do all the things you want to do as a couple. The right mindset, identification of the goal, a plan of action to implement it, team work, accountability – isn’t that all that’s required to attain those possibilities? No? What if you added in forgiveness, meaning you made a decision to forgive your spouse and open your heart again to your spouse? What if you worked on releasing any hurt, anger or bitterness you hold against him or her? Still no? What if you made the decision to trust your spouse, to give him or her the benefit of the doubt, to believe in your spouse again? What if?

All those possibilities for you and your spouse are still there. All those possibilities you want for your marriage are attainable. The question is, do you and your spouse still want them? Because if you do, you can attain them. So, what are you waiting for? Every day is a new opportunity to move your marriage forward. Need help? Get it. Then, go after those possibilities, together.

Work. Kids. Housework. There’s Just No Time for Us

By Davida Brown 

There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.  Yes there are 1440 minutes in every day, but I swear they’re all taken with things that HAVE to get done.  We’re not rich. We can’t hire help.  My husband and I are doing every thing we can to stay above water and get the basic needs of our family met.  We want a “date night” and all the “quality time” other couples talk about, but there’s just no time. 

Is this you?  Are you struggling with fitting in quality, one-on-one time with your spouse because of everything else you have going on?  Don’t fret. You are not alone.  I certainly get it.  I too have lots on my plate.  I’m a wife, I’m a practicing, full-time attorney, I have 2 kids under five, I’m a marriage coach, I have daily house chores and I’m writing my fourth book.  With everything going on, it’s a challenge to find time every day, and I mean “quality” time every day for my husband.  Here’s what I did.

  1. A Practical Daily Routine –You’ve probably heard a million times that creating a daily routine with your spouse will ensure you have quality time together and remain connected.  That’s all well and good when you have time, but what if you don’t have any?  I was in that boat.  So instead of carving out time, I incorporated our quality time into activities that I already have to do.  Every day, my husband and I spend roughly 20 minutes on the phone during my commute to work.  We use this time to really connect mentally.  We joke around, catch up on what’s going on in each others, lives, etc.  The key focus of these discussions is us.  I can’t express enough how much this daily routine has positively impacted our marriage.  So, if time is limited, find a way to incorporate your spouse into activities you already have to do, killing two birds with one stone.  Maybe shower together or get dressed together in the mornings.  Be creative.
  2.  Plan. Plan. Plan – If you’re like me with lots on your plate, your daily calendar is your “bible.” You live by it and frankly couldn’t function without it.  Schedule time with your spouse on your calendar.  A few years ago (before I thought of the practical daily routine), I used to have a standing weekly lunch date with my husband.  I would not take any other appointments during that time, period.  It wasn’t daily time together, but we really looked forward to it.  I know my husband really appreciated it because it showed him that he was a priority and our relationship mattered.  Even if you can only schedule 30 minutes or so, do it and stick to it.  Trust me, it will make a huge difference in your marriage. 
  3. Have Date Night at home.  If you have young kids, you may not feel comfortable having any one else watch them, including family.  This is often the case with new parents.  So a night out on the town just isn’t in the cards.  I say forget about going out, stay in.  Have a family member (or hire a babysitter) to come to your house and watch your kids while you’re there.  Believe it or not you can have just as much fun at home as going out.  Remember, the objective is just being alone, together, so you can deepen your connection.  Once the kids and sitter are set up, go to another room in the house and have dinner together, play games, watch a movie, cuddle, whatever floats your boat.  If you’re still nervous about having someone else watch the kids, bring the baby monitor with you so you can periodically check in.  Remember, Date Night doesn’t have to be an all night affair.  A couple hours of alone time will rejuvenate you and your marriage.

Any other tips for the busy couple? We’d love to hear from you.

Ready to Jump Start Your Marriage?

By: Davida Brown

If you answered yes, you are R E A D Y to jump start your marriage in 2015, then how about showing some gratitude? We all know that gratitude is great, but could it really improve or even save your marriage? Experts seem to think so. The act of being grateful changes the way you see the world, and also how others see you. A grateful heart isn’t as easy to cultivate. Yes, it is easy to appreciate what you have when things are going well, but as we all know, life is full of bumps and those good times are often followed by some real struggles. To be truly grateful, we must cultivate feelings of appreciation at all times, when things are easy and when things are hard.

Are you ready to give gratitude a try in your marriage? Start today and see what changes you can create. To give you some ideas for getting started, we’ve found a few areas to focus your gratitude. Start with one and add in the others as you get in the habit.

Fostering Gratitude for Your Spouse

Think back to the early days of your relationship with your spouse. What did you admire about them? In the early stages of a relationship we tend to focus on the good and overlook the bad in a person. As time moves on, this focus shifts. The person you are with remains the same, but it becomes easier to see what your spouse is doing wrong and more difficult to notice the little things that they do right.

Let’s reverse the trend. Each day look for things to appreciate in your spouse. Do they get up and start the coffee before they head to work? Do they faithfully take out the trash so you don’t have to? Are they loving and kind to others, even when it is inconvenient? Make a list of the things you appreciate in your spouse.

Don’t just notice the good in your spouse. Make sure you thank them as well. Appreciation has cyclic effects. Spouses that feel appreciated report feeling more appreciative in the coming days. As you show your spouse that you appreciate what they do, they tend to return the appreciation, further increasing your marital happiness.

This principle can work even when things are difficult in your marriage. If you’re going through hard times it can be difficult to see the good in your spouse. Look, it’s there. Finding the good won’t make the bad disappear, but it might be the spark you need to keep trying to make things work.

Finding Gratitude in Your Marriage

Why do you enjoy being married? The stresses of life can make it easy to overlook the benefits that marriage brings to your life. Find the good in your marriage and build upon it. Make your marriage a priority. When you focus on the good in your marriage, you’re more willing to work hard to save it when the hard times strike.  

Appreciating the Ups and Downs in Life

Life can feel like a roller coaster filled with highs, lows, twists, turns, and surprises. While we don’t need to love every difficult situation, we do need to find the good. Often it is easier to see the benefits of a particular hard situation when looking back over your life.

To find the good in bad times, try asking yourself these questions:

  • What Can I Learn From This Situation?- During a hard time it often feels like only a struggle, with no potential good. However, as we struggle through the difficulties of life the person we are changes. We become stronger, more compassionate, and more understanding. We find ourselves better able to deal with future difficulties. It may be hard to see what we’ll learn from a particular struggle while we are in the midst of it, but often looking ahead at the person we might become can bring hope. While you might end up gaining different benefits from a hard struggle than you expect, the promise of a stronger you might be what you need to pull through.
  • How Have I Grown During Similar Hard Times?- Life is difficult and the struggle you are currently facing certainly isn’t the only one you’ve faced. Look back at the other difficulties you’ve had and see how you’ve grown. Knowing that can and have come through similar problems in the past will help you persevere.
  • How Can I Improve My Situation?- In moments of struggle it can feel that nothing will make life better, but there is always a way to improve your situation. Whether it’s cutting down on spending to fix a time of financial struggle or whether you just need to get up and keep trying each day, there is always something you can do. Often the little things like exercise, a conversation with your spouse, and healthy meals can make a big difference.
  • What Other Good Do I Have in My Life?- When a hard situation seems bleak, look for the other good in your life. Do you have great friends? A wonderful family? Beautiful children? You may not have every blessing you desire, but if you look deeply you’ll find that you have many. Appreciate what you have instead of mourning what you don’t.
  • What Was the Best Thing That Happened Today?- It can be hard to see the big picture when things are rough. If you can’t seem to find the good in your life, look for the good in each day. Commit to finding the one best thing about each day.  

Keep Track of What You Have

One of the best tips we can share for your journey of gratitude is to write things down. A small notebook and a pen can help you to stay focused. Writing things down will also help you to look back at where you’ve been and what you have the next time things get difficult.

Jump start your marriage with gratitude. Once you start to look, it’s amazing how much good there is to find.

 

 

***Davida ("Vida") Brown is a marriage enthusiast. An ambassador for marriage, Davida launched this website, www.yesmarriagerocks.com, an online platform that showcases happily married couples from around the world, and gives couples practical, proven tips and strategies for a marriage that will work, thrive and last a lifetime.  A practicing attorney, writer, author, and certified marriage coach, Davida uses her skills to help couples identify issues or areas of concern in their marriage, implement a plan of action to address those issues, and measure the success of that plan through accountability metrics.

 

 

I Chose To Stay For What He Did Right

By: Davida Brown  

 

Romantic Comedy is my favorite genre.  Romance films make me feel  warm and tingly, as they pull on all my heart strings:  love, commitment, faith and unity.

I happened to watch “the Vow” a few days ago, and there was a scene in that movie that made my heart stop, a line that captured the essence of what I say day in and day out to my clients. If you’re not familiar with this movie, it’s about a young married couple, Leo and Paige, who are in a  car accident, resulting in Paige losing a chunk of her memory.  To Leo’s chagrin, she has no memory of him, their relationship or marriage.  The movie chronicles their journey back to each other.

During the movie, we learn that Paige and her parents were estranged for a number of years.  Paige can’t remember why and no one in her family will tell her what caused the fallout.  Eventually, Paige discovers that her father had an affair with one of her friends.  Paige is distraught and angry.  She confronts her mother, spewing contempt.  She doesn’t understand how she could stay after what he did.  Her mother responds, "I couldn’t leave. I made a choice. I chose to stay with him for all the things he’s done right; not leave for the one thing he did wrong. I chose to forgive him."

Her words hit me like a mack truck.  YEEEESSSSSS, I screamed inwardly.  Marriage is a choice.  Choosing to stay married when your spouse violates your trust is a choice.  Choosing to acknowledge and appreciate all the things your spouse does right, despite the breach in trust, is a choice.  Forgiveness is a choice.

When the movie ended, I reflected on this scene for quite some time.  Years ago, I too made the choice to stay after the love of my life cheated on me.  I chose not to end our relationship because of his mistake.  I chose to forgive and trust again. 

It wasn’t easy folks.  NOT AT ALL.  I was angry, hurt, disappointed, embarrassed and on and on.  How dare he step out on me?   We had a great relationship, or so I thought.  Why would he do this to me, to us?  I eventually had to come to grips with the fact that I would never understand why he cheated. We often think that if we know why he or she did it, it’ll help us get over it.  It doesn’t and in my opinion is a waste of time and energy.  Did I ask why he cheated? Of course.  But at the end of the day none of the reasons made any difference in how I felt. Cheating is a choice and my husband made that choice. It was inexcusable and no explanation would change that. So instead of trying to "understand" why he made that choice, I directed my energy to figuring out what I wanted.  Did I want my relationship? Yes or No?  I grappled with this question for months. I thought about all the good things about him, about us.  Was his mistake bigger than us?

Ultimately I decided that I wanted my relationship.  Making that decision was the biggest hurdle. Once I did, my actions from that day forward were in alignment with that choice. That meant I had to forgive and had to figure out a way to trust him again.  It didn’t happen overnight, but with a lot of effort, together, we found a way to rebuild the trust. While I certainly wish the infidelity never happened, I can honestly say that we are now in a great place, and I am so glad that I made the choice to give him another chance.

There are many of you reading this article that believe that infidelity is unforgivable, that once the trust is broken it simply can't be restored, that if you choose to save your marriage you are weak or insecure.  If that's you, you certainly are entitled to feel that way. Only you know what's best for you and only you are equipped to make that decision.  But, if you are committed to trying to save your marriage, if your spouse is committed to trying to save your marriage, I want you to know that moving past the infidelity can be done.  We did it and so have many couples we coach. I want you to know that choosing to give your spouse and marriage another chance does not mean you are weak, insecure or lacking in self-respect.  Only you know the value of your marriage.  Only you know if your marriage is worth fighting for.  Take the time to consider everything before making a choice.  I did.  Take the time to pray for discernment and to listen for that voice inside you. And if you decide that you want your marriage (spouse must want it too), take the necessary steps together to implement that choice.

If you want to save your marriage, but don't know where to start, we can help. Our self-help workbook, The Trust Is Gone. Help!, will give you the tools you need to begin rebuilding the trust. Click HERE for details.

 

 

 

 

 

2015. Your Best Year Ever

By: Davida Brown  

It's 2015!!!! I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed, excited about all the possibilities of the new year. In many respects, a new year represents an opportunity for a fresh start, a new beginning. As I think about all the things I want to accomplish, all the changes or adjustments I want to make in my life, my marriage and continued success thereof is front and center. 2014 was an awesome year for the Browns and hopefully for you too. If you're happily married, you know that a happy marriage doesn't just happen. Focus, attention, and yes effort are required to make it successful and thrive. So as you map out your goals for 2015, consider these tips to enhance, improve, and move your marriage forward.

Prioritize your marriage - Your marriage should be a top priority. There are 1440 minutes in every day. No matter how busy you are, you can carve out 5, 10, 15 minutes for your spouse. Think of it this way, you make time every day to eat, even on your busiest day. Why? Eating is a priority. It's something you aren't willing to go a single day without. Treat your marriage the same way. Refuse to go a single day without doing something to feed your marriage. This may require that you evaluate your daily routine and cut out non-essential activities. Trust me, the end result is worth it.

Have an open mind - In 2014, you and your spouse probably didn't see eye-to-eye on everything, and that's okay. It's a new year, so why not give the issue(s) a fresh look. Set some time aside for you and your spouse to re-evaluate the issue. I recommend that you each take turns sharing your view. I know I know, you've heard it all before. You know what your spouse is going to say. Do it any way. This time, put yourself in your spouse's shoes. Endeavor to understand your spouse's view and ask him or her to do the same. Then on your own, come up with two ways to resolve it, taking into account your spouse's views. Your spouse should do the same. Then share your recommendations with each other and really discuss the viability of the proposed solutions. This exercise will open the door to more engaging and productive discussions on the issue, all of which will move you one step closer to resolving the issue.

Status check - It's important that every so often you check in with your spouse to see if he or she is happy with the state of your marriage. The new year is a great time to do so. No marriage is perfect. There is always room for improvement. Make the time to share what you like about your marriage and the areas where you'd like to see improvement. Review each critical area in your marriage (e.g. intimacy, finances, communication). Often, a tweak here or there can make a significant difference in your marriage. These discussions aren't always fun, but they are healthy and will help maximize the potential in your marriage.

Marriage enrichment - I highly recommend participating in some form of marriage enrichment during the year. Perhaps a marriage retreat, a workshop, a night out with other happily married couples. These activities will give you the tools and support you'll need to weather the storms in your marriage. If you're having specific issues, seek help. Remember, you and your spouse can get through any issue if you want your marriage. A marriage counselor or coach may be extremely helpful in enabling you to crystallize the issue and implement steps to resolve or manage the issue.

Happy New Year! I wish you the very best in making 2015 a phenomenal year for your marriage.

 

 

***Davida ("Vida") Brown is a marriage enthusiast. An ambassador for marriage, Davida launched this website, www.yesmarriagerocks.com, an online platform that showcases happily married couples from around the world, and gives couples practical, proven tips and strategies for a marriage that will work, thrive and last a lifetime.  A practicing attorney, writer, author, and certified marriage coach, Davida uses her skills to help couples identify issues or areas of concern in their marriage, implement a plan of action to address those issues, and measure the success of that plan through accountability metrics.

Your Perception Isn't Necessarily Reality

 

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d never get married.”  Ouch.  I hate hearing these words.  Unfortunately, so many wives and husbands feel this way.

I’m a champion for marriage, a true ambassador.  My marriage isn’t perfect --nowhere close-- but I love my marriage and I love being married.  My husband and I are great as individuals, but together we are a force.  We have each other’s back, want the best for each other, and at the end of the day are willing to do WHATEVER it takes to get through our problems, together. And we’ve had some whoopers.  Would I do it over again? Heck yeah, in a heartbeat.

When my clients say things like, “I’d never get married again,” I feel compelled to find out why.  Every marriage is different, but I tend to see patterns.  Here’s a very common one.  One spouse believes that he or she is in the marriage alone, that his or her spouse doesn’t care, or that his or her spouse isn’t willing to put in the work.  Most often, that’s not the case.  The other spouse wants the marriage just as much.  This is a classic case of where one’s perceived reality is not the true reality.

The fact is, most husbands and wives want their marriage to work.  They want to have a thriving marriage.  How to do so is where they differ.  When a couple is ill-equipped to handle conflict in their marriage, one or both may feel that the other isn’t doing their part, doesn’t care, doesn’t want the marriage and on and on  -- all of which leads to both parties being unhappily married.

The good news is this reality can change.   The key word here is “change”.  You have to accept that what you’ve been doing thus far – and this applies to both of you – isn’t working for your marriage.  Seems easy, right?  Uh no.  So many wives and husbands believe to their very core that “their way” is right and best for their marriage.  They don’t need to “change,” their spouse does. I too once shared this affliction.  But that’s not marriage.  That’s an “I”, not “we”, philosophy.  Accept and embrace that. 

Second, actively take steps to identify what needs to change in your marriage. Identify the issue or issues that make you want to “run” from your marriage, are a constant source of conflict in your marriage, and/or make you wish you weren’t married.  Figure out where you differ and why.  Figure out what you each want in these areas and then find a way to achieve it.  If you’re on opposite sides of the spectrum, find middle ground.  Middle ground means you don’t get everything you want or expect and neither does your spouse.  If you can’t do it alone, get help. 

Most of us are quick to seek help in other areas.  For example, if we need financial assistance, we go to family, friends or financial institutions.  If we need help with the kids, we turn to family, friends or nanny/babysitting services.  If we need help with work or perhaps improving our work performance, we turn to mentors or colleagues.  The same should hold true for your marriage – the most important relationship in your life with the exception of God.  Understand, there is no new issue under the sun.  Thousands of couples around the world are going through precisely the same issue.  And with help, many of them make the necessary changes in their marriage so that they can have happy, thriving marriages.  So can you.  The hardest step is admitting you need the help and choosing, as a couple, to get it.

Not sure where to get help?  That’s the easy part.  Reach out to other couples in your life who’ve faced and overcome the issue.  Learn from them.  Don’t know anyone? Go online or to a bookstore and read personal testimonies from couples who’ve overcome the issue.  Not your style?  Hire a marriage coach (I am available) who can help you crystallize the issue in your marriage and devise specific steps to enable you to resolve or, at a minimum, manage the issues facing your marriage. 

You want to be happily married?  Trust me, so does your spouse.  Remember, he or she chose to be with you for a lifetime.  That speaks volumes.  So instead of writing them off or resigning yourself to a so-so, lackluster marriage, take a step towards maximizing the potential in your marriage.  Positive change in your marriage won’t magically happen.  Change starts with you.  

 

***Davida ("Vida") Brown is a marriage enthusiast. An ambassador for marriage, Davida launched this website, www.yesmarriagerocks.com, an online platform that showcases happily married couples from around the world, and gives couples practical, proven tips and strategies for a marriage that will work, thrive and last a lifetime.  A practicing attorney, writer, author, and certified marriage coach, Davida uses her skills to help couples identify issues or areas of concern in their marriage, implement a plan of action to address those issues, and measure the success of that plan through accountability metrics.

Is The Problem Bigger Than Your Marriage?

 

“For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health….”  We all said these words or some version thereof in our marriage vows.  Many couples don’t really get what these words mean and how instructive they are.  Having problems in your marriage?  Of course you are.  For better or for worse means that there will be good times and bad times in marriage, i.e. problems.  Richer or poorer means that you may have financial issues in your marriage, i.e. problems.  Sickness and in health means you or your spouse may become seriously ill during the marriage, i.e. problems.  Here’s a little tough love.  Problems are part of marriage.  It's what you signed up for. 

Here’s the good news.  No problem is bigger than your marriage.  I know we all hope for the itty bitty ones, but at some point, we all experience the big Kahuna.  The problem of all problems.  The one you can’t imagine getting through.  Well, you can.  “You don’t know my circumstances,” you may be thinking. “You don’t know how much he hurt me,” you may be screaming.  True.  My response to both is, “Is that problem bigger than your marriage?”

My husband and I have had some HURRICANES during our relationship and marriage: cheating, lying, death of parents, baby momma drama, and the near death of our daughter.  Some of these issues were happening at the same time and, putting it nicely, we were ill-prepared.  Honestly, there was a point in time when we hit rock bottom.  Our communication was disastrous. But we found a way through.  Here’s how we did it.

First, we decided to choose our relationship.  By that I mean, we made a conscious decision together that we were going to make our relationship work.  Folks, this is half the battle.  This mindset shift will change everything.  All the hurt, anger, guilt, trust issues, etc. that we were dealing with as a byproduct of our “problems” became secondary.  By choosing our marriage, we chose to give it priority over all the “bad” stuff we did to each other. 

Second, we got help.  It’s okay to ask for help.  We turned to God first and asked for discernment to help figure things out.  This required that we immerse ourselves in the Word, so we did.  The Bible addresses every issue under the sun.  EVERY SINGLE ONE. If you think you’re the only one enduring your issue, you’re not.  We also had counseling on certain issues, and turned to our support system.  Thankfully, we had surrounded ourselves with other married couples that were in a position to give us helpful guidance and insight.

Third, we used our prior triumphs as encouragement.  When you overcome an obstacle in your marriage, you discover that you can weather a storm.  I firmly believe each obstacle you overcome together gives you what you need to battle the next one.  And there’s always a next one.  I certainly can admit that there were times in our relationship when I didn’t know how we’d get through an issue. Then I’d think about the last issue we battled through and those memories would embolden me.  I was able to trust and have faith that we’d make it through the issue at hand because we were able to do it before.  And guess what, we made it through.  So can you.

Marriage can be a bumpy ride.  And that’s okay.  Just fasten your seat belt.  Smoother road is up ahead.

 

**Davida ("Vida") Brown is a marriage enthusiast. An ambassador for marriage, Davida launched this website, www.yesmarriagerocks.com, an online platform that showcases happily married couples from around the world, and gives couples practical, proven tips and strategies for a marriage that will work, thrive and last a lifetime.  A practicing attorney, writer, author, and certified marriage coach, Davida uses her skills to help couples identify issues or areas of concern in their marriage, implement a plan of action to address those issues, and measure the success of that plan through accountability metrics. certified marriage coach.