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Real love is more than a feeling

March 28, 2016

A Great idea…

“In real life, love is much more than a feeling. It is a long series of decisions to be together and give to one another, a commitment to work together to build a shared life, a day-to-day involvement that changes who we are as people.” (Blaine J. Fowers in his book, Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness p. 10)

In other words…

Love is not just a feeling that takes over our hearts and makes us feel warm and devoted. Feelings will come and go. Love is a choice. We choose to love our partners in many ways. We choose love when we emphasize their good qualities. We choose love when we look for solutions rather than blame. In thousands of ways, we choose to love. When we consistently CHOOSE love, then the feelings come.

How this applies to you…

What are the ways you are already choosing to love your partner? What additional choices can you do to strengthen your relationship further? What can you choose to do today to increase the love in your relationship?

To find out more…

For an excellent program on marriage, see Marriage Garden!

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness by Blaine J. Fowers or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

By Ashley Terry

Family Time: Unplugged, or Plugged In Together?

March 25, 2016

By Brittney Schrick

Here’s a great idea…

In this digital age, it becomes more and more difficult to compete with screens, social networking, and other digital media for the attention of our children. In attempting to ensure quality family time, it is often suggested that we unplug and interact together without the distraction of screens. This sort of time is necessary, and there are lots of ways a family can be together without screens. Setting limits for screen time, especially for younger children, as well as setting rules for how and when screens are used are important and necessary boundaries. However, all screen time is not created equal! Sometimes, a screen can be helpful in bringing family together; it’s all in how you use it.

In other words…

Unplugged, screen-free time together is an absolute must for families, and screen time (meaning all screens, not just TV) should be limited and controlled. Go outside and play, take a walk, play a board game, cook a meal, sing silly songs, or just have a conversation every day! All of these ways of being together make families stronger and happier. But, all quality time does not have to be screen-free!

How this applies to you…

Play games together: Do your kids like to play video games? Play with them! Let them teach you how to play. Is your child constantly telling you about Minecraft? Let her show you too! For older children especially, knowing that their parents care enough about them to try something they enjoy is very meaningful.

Get active indoors: Play active games like Wii sports or Just Dance together! It can be silly, a lot of fun , and many of those games are a great workout.

Have a family movie night: Sit together and watch a film. Maybe even have a living room or bedroom floor picnic. Make the focus on the shared screen, and keep other screens out of the way (no checking your email or texts while watching!).

Use your devices to stay in contact with distant family or friends: Many of us live far away from grandparents, aunts and uncles, or close friends. Use your device to have a family call with someone you love!

To find out more…

Setting limits on screen time:

Smart screen time:

UAEX Family Life Friday Blog:



Giving your way to love

March 23, 2016

Here’s a great idea…

Catherine Thomas, PhD, observed that we often get it all backwards: “Much of
the emotional pain that we have does not come from the love that we were not given in the past, but from the love we ourselves are not giving in the present.”

In other words…

We often think that if others would just give us the love we crave then our emotional needs will be met. Paradoxically, the opposite is true.  If we will forget about ourselves and find ways to serve and show love to others, we will find greater well-being and satisfaction.

 Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

The next time you wish someone would pay you more attention by listening to you or doing something with you, don’t wait for them!  Find a way that you can show them special attention, listen to them, or invite them to do a fun activity with you.

To Find Out More…

about personal well-being, check out The Personal Journey or Managing Stress programs at, like us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You may also enjoy reading Authentic Happiness.

By Ashley Terry

Is Your Child Ready to Stay Home Alone?

March 21, 2016
Drawing of a family in a magic carpet. Link to Navigating Life's Journey

Here’s a great idea…

Over the next couple of weeks, your children will likely be on Spring Break! Unfortunately for us, not every parent gets a week off from work. Because kids are out of school, you will need to make other arrangements for their days, and it may be a good time to assess whether s/he is ready to stay home alone. Because every child is different, there are no hard and fast rules regarding what age is appropriate to leave a child home alone (though some states have laws regarding this issue); however, there are several things to take into account when making the decision to trust your child with this responsibility:

  • Is your child excited about the possibility of staying home alone? (If not, it may be too early.)
  • Can your child read well enough to follow instructions?
  • Can your child open and close windows, lock and unlock doors, and operate small appliances (toaster, microwave)?
  • Can your child reliably use the telephone, and do you have one available for them to use (either landline, cell, or tablet)?
  • Does your child have the maturity to behave calmly in a crisis?
  • Does your child understand plans for emergencies such as fire or storms?
  • Would your child reliably follow house rules such as staying inside or in the yard, not answering the door or divulging to a stranger that s/he is home alone, staying away from dangerous things in the house such as chemicals and firearms?

In other words…

You know your child and her/his capabilities and maturity. It is up to you and your child to decide whether they are ready for such a responsibility, and up to you to train them to handle it! Here are a few ideas about how to test their skill.

How this applies to you…

If you and your child think staying home alone is a good idea, give them a few, short, trial runs where you are not far away and can return quickly if needed. Be sure to leave them with a reliable, means of communication. If you do not have a landline, make sure they have a phone, computer, or tablet that is equipped to make outgoing calls. Some use FaceTime or Skype, and this may work for your family. You may consider getting a phone for your child if they will be staying home frequently (such as after school daily). Typically, a child mature enough to stay home alone will be excited about the freedom, but be sure to set firm rules to help them govern their time.

To find out more…

For more information, visit


By Brittney Schrick

Make your relationship a safe place.

March 21, 2016

Here’s a great idea

Make your relationship a safe place.  When financial deception occurs, it has a negative impact.  Two in five Americans admit to committing financial infidelity against their partner, according to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®),

In other words

Hiding purchases or accounts, lying about debt, or overspending can create problems.  It’s also unfair if one partner is brown-bagging lunch and clipping coupons while the other is eating out every day and going on spending sprees. Money can be an area of power, manipulation and control. Here is the exception to being totally transparent with your partner – Individuals in an abusive relationship may need to hide money.  Financial resources are a critical component of a good safety plan.

How this applies to you

If your partner is reasonable, approach him with kindness, respect, and an open mind.  Set common financial goals and create guidelines for spending and saving. It may take time to re-build trust. Identify the reasons for the problems. Learn how to use good communication skills. Set a regular time to review finances together. If you are in an abusive relationship, it may not be possible to have a reasonable conversation about money.  Watch that your partner does not try to make you pay more than is fair or completely control your financial situation.  Learn to protect yourself financially.

To find out more

Discover good communication skills with The Marriage Garden at

Learn more about financial management at

Suspect abuse? Prepare for a safe future by learning to protect yourself from a controlling partner.  National Coalition against Domestic Violence at


By: Laura Hendrix



Savor the Flavor of Eating Right during National Nutrition Month®

March 16, 2016

Here’s a great idea ...”Food nourishes your body and provides necessary fuel to help you thrive and fight disease,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Kristen Gradney. “Food is also a source of pleasure and enjoyment.  ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right’ by taking time to enjoy healthy foods and all the happiness they bring to your life.”

In other words …National Nutrition Month® is a great time to encourage your family to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.

How, when, why and where we eat are just as important as what we eat. Help your children develop healthy eating habits by making sure they enjoy the sight, sounds, smells, memories and interactions associated with healthy eating.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life …  Sharing food has always been an important part of social interactions. Research shows that family meals promote healthier eating and strengthen family relationships. Make family meals a priority and enjoy the tastes and traditions of favorite family foods.

Be mindful of what you are eating and take time to appreciate every eating experience. Today’s families are busy and all too often grab something quick to eat on the run.  When you do have time to sit down and eat together, encourage all family members to slow down and enjoy the flavor and texture of their food. Talk about how the food tastes and how it makes them feel. Eating slowly can also help prevent overeating because it gives your stomach time to tell your  brain that you are feeling full.

To find out more … about National Nutrition Month® and ways to help your family “Savor the Flavor Eating Right”, go to For more general information on healthy eating contact your county extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent or go to:


Rosemary Rodibaugh










Healing comes first

March 14, 2016

A Great Idea …

“If you hurt your partner when he or she is already hurting, you’ll just throw gasoline on the fire. Before you start to deal with the [issue at hand] . . .you must find a nonverbal way to connect and show that you value each other. (Patricia Love and Steven Stosny in their book, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, p. 108)


In Other Words …

A physical wound should be treated with proper first aid before the injured person tries to resume normal activity.  The same is true for emotional wounds. Those wounds need to be treated with compassion and kindness before issues can be dealt with.

When our partners are hurting, we shouldn’t immediately push them towards solutions. We need to offer listening ears, tender hearts, and loving gestures. Only when our partners feel safe and loved can we return to effective problem solving.


How This Applies to You …

The next time your partner is hurting, don’t try to fix the problem until you deal with your partner’s pain. Just be there and listen. Sit with your partner and offer comfort. After your partner is feeling better, you can work together to find a solution.


To Find Out More…

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas) check out the Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love and Steven Stonsy or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.


By:Ashley Terry

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