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Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.


1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule. 

The world is opening, and it is time to celebrate! One of the first things people are doing as they exercise their recaptured freedom is heading out of town to new destinations. I thought a few refresher tips on travel might be good for all of us.

Walking into the room, my husband pauses in front of the TV. Turning to me with a spoiler alert about my favorite Hallmark movie he says, “Hey Lisa…they get married.” And you know what? He’s right! The girl found her prince charming, and the couple has a happy ending, every time.

How many mornings have we left home in a state of utter chaos? Breakfast was late, children were crying, and we hurriedly throw on clothes from the night before only to realize how wrinkled we look. This mad dash makes for an unpleasant parting from our family and it is usually caused by a disorganized approach to our routine. So much of the bedlam we experience at the beginning of the day can be avoided if we are willing to implement a few tasks the night before.

The mamor (mother-in-law) and damor (daughter-in-law) relationship is meant to be beautiful and strong. In parts 1 and 2 of our series we learned why women in these roles might have certain feelings in their new family dynamics. Once we learned the “why” we then explored practical steps we can take to strengthen these special bonds. As we bring our series to a close, I want to impart some words of wisdom we all need to hear, and be reminded of, to ensure we create a healthy, life-long bond between the mamor/damor.

In part one of our series on the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship we learned why the women who find themselves in these roles often experience emotions ranging from pure joy to hurt and sadness. Once we discovered the answers, our understanding of this special relationship came into focus. We had an “aha” moment which makes our path forward easier to navigate.

Do you remember the movie Monster-in-Law? It starred Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda in a romantic comedy centered around the tumultuous relationship between a bride and her future mother-in-law. If you have not seen it, you should. It will keep you laughing but, sadly, may hit closer to home than you would like to admit.

As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

  • Patti Hatton

Couples Counseling Benefits

Q: What are the benefits of therapy and counseling, and how do I remove the negative image my spouse has around couple’s counseling? When do you know it is time to seek therapy as opposed to just asking advice?

A: Such good questions! Mental health experts have been tirelessly working to demystify the shameful stigma associated with the mental health community. Elderly patients with terminal illnesses have been known to refuse to take an antidepressant because they feel shame admitting they are experiencing low moods and irritability. Go figure! Seems somewhat normal to struggle with low moods and irritability when confronted with a terminal illness and wise to use resources to overcome emotional physical pain. Scripture tells us that the Apostle Paul “learned” to be content in all circumstances. “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”-Philippians 4:11-13.

Just like Paul, we have many things to learn about navigating life’s twists and turns. Statistics tell us that persons seeking psychotherapy have higher levels of education than ever before. Consulting an expert when facing trials or for encouragement and inspiration is a smart thing to do. Successful people run towards resources to help with life’s struggles, not away from them. A licensed professional counselor’s role is not to tell you what to do, but instead to listen reflectively to create self-awareness and to aid in establishing and achieving goals. We cannot change what we will not acknowledge, and goals are accomplished in a series of defined steps.

If someone were to ask your children how their parents resolve conflict, what would they say? Chances are, they would not have an answer. Just like there are specific steps to learn to dance a waltz and specific steps to learn to dance a tango, there are specific steps to learn to resolve conflict and specific steps to learn to connect on a deep, emotional level. Do you know these steps? Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute says, “Couples do not divorce necessarily because they fall out of love, couples divorce because they never ‘learned’ how to resolve their problems.”

Couple’s counseling offers a platform to learn vital skills needed for a healthy and intimate marriage relationship, namely healthy communication, and conflict resolution. It also teaches things like common differences between men and women, ways to strengthen a relationship, ways to prevent erosion in a relationship, how to take responsibility for “your side of the street,” how to appreciate personality differences and so much more! We all bring baggage into our marriages from childhood experiences, and counseling offers a venue for resolving issues that hamper our emotional wellbeing. Another option is to find a church that offers marriage counseling, through on-staff counselors, or by way of a married Bible study class. A marriage class is extremely beneficial. You receive the tools needed to have a successful marriage, while at the same time developing friendships with others in your same stage of life and who are also like-minded. A good marriage surrounds itself with other healthy relationships.

Do not let pride stand in the way of taking necessary steps to grow and learn to create a fulfilling relationship with your spouse. God warns us in only four words what happens to those who hang onto pride. “Pride goes before destruction…” -Proverbs 16:18. Successful people do not run away from learning the skills needed to be in a healthy relationship, they run towards them. Good marriages do not “just happen,” rather, they evolve from learning how to resolve problems and connect in meaningful ways.

Patti Hatton, MA, LPC

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