Know your place when you are “The in-law”! Tips & Advice on staying neutral in your Spouse’s family feuds!

As the daughter-in-law of a phenomenal mother-in-law and the sister-in-law to 5 wonderful sister-in- laws, I can’t say I can relate to this blog on a whole, but I have had to remember my place in my husband’s family dynamic on a few occasions over our 23 year marriage.

I’ve had the pleasure… or maybe not so pleasurable moments of having this conversation with not only a few of my friends, but also with my own mother who didn’t have the greatest relationship with her mother-in-law, and one thing I know for sure its’ never a pretty picture.

Yes, we’d all like to think that once we say “I do” that, we are all “family” and all is well in the world, …but unfortunately sometimes that day does come…the day when a family feud arises and your spouse decides get you involved,... Or the day when one of your In-laws decides to cross the line and chastise one of your children and your spouse doesn’t do anything about it. How do you handle this? What do you say? Do you give your spouse a reply?... Do you say something to your In-law?... Oh the stickiness of the whole situation.!....

Well there is no quick answer to situations like this. In certain instances maybe you should say something to your In-law and in others maybe you should just bite the bullet and let things go for the sake of peace in the family.

Listed below are 5 tips that may not keep the most toxic, volatile, or unstable families from going to blows with you or with each other, but if you put these tips into practice before any drama ensues, you just may keep your relationship with your In-laws stable, or neutral, if nothing else!

Tips for staying neutral in your spouse’s family feuds.

1.     Never forget that your spouse will always be blood to his/her family and for them to forgive your spouse for something that was said or done will always be easier than forgiving you. There’s a reason for the saying “Blood is thicker than water.”

2.     Always see how your spouse is feeling about an argument, disagreement or decision made by their family. It may not affect them the same way it affects you. Even if you think your spouse should be hurt by something that was said or done by one of their family members, always check their feelings before you go blindly into a response in their defense. They may not be as upset about the situation as you.

3.     Always take into account your spouse’s family culture and dynamics. This means just because you did things in a certain way in your family when you grew up, doesn’t mean your spouse and their family did things the same way. For example you may have grown up in a house that never poked fun at each, but maybe your spouse grew up in a family that did this kind of joking all the time… making jokes about each other’s character or physical flaws (etc), but in your family this would have been considered tasteless and insensitive! OR maybe your father made all the decision in the family but in your spouse’s family, momma was the head and daddy just listened and did what he was told. These variants in family dynamics can make a big difference in a family’s structure, and understanding them can definitely play a part in how you and your spouse handle family feuds with each other and with each other’s family.

4.     Always remember that your children are your spouse’s children, your spouse’s mother’s grandchildren and even your spouse’s sibling’s nieces and nephews. They will always be family, even if death or divorce takes you out of the picture. So always keep their relationships in mind when responding to family feuds.

5.     Remember there are consequences to your actions. Saying something that’s on your mind or doing something about something you feel was an injustice to your immediate family may seem like the right thing to do at the time of the incident, but always remember that after you say or do something in retaliation that there are consequences to be made and paid. They could include you being ostracized from family gatherings, you could be shunned by family members or worst you could cause a rift between your spouse and their family. This is not to say that you shouldn’t say or do something about an injustice done to your immediate family, it’s just saying be ready for the consequences of your speech or actions.

Understand that not all family’s have issues such as this! The Brady Bunch (The perfect looking family) can be a real thing, even if you’ve never seen them… but if you find yourself in the midst of in-law issues or on the receiving end of one of your spouse’s family feuds, just keep in mind that not every issue in life needs to be address and that there are ways to defuse disagreements and rifts in family feuds;… because you never want a rift to get out of hand and cause a tidal wave between you and your in-laws.

Always Remember

Relationships Do Matter!

Toinette Neube

5 Things single women should REALLY be looking for in “A Man”

Yes, we've all heard it before, 3 things to look for in a "good" man, 4 things to look for in a marrying man, etc, etc, and etc and they all seem like good advice, but 9 times out of 10 most of the items in these lists are superficial and very rarely ever about a man’s character.  

Of course it's great to find a 6 foot tall, dark eyed, olive completion Adonis of a man, but,… and here is the BIG BUT,…does his outside beauty really match with his inside?

I've been a matchmaker for a few of my friends and some have even lead to marriages (one unfortunately to a divorce… hey nothing’s fail-proof.) But one thing I've always believed is that most women today tend to ask for surface or superficial characteristics in a man when they really should be looking for deeper qualities and inner characteristics.

I’ve been married for going on 23 years now and even though I do believe my husband is the finest thing that walks this earth, I’ve grown to realize that his outside beauty is NOT the thing that has kept me with him and …here it is… that has kept me HAPPILY IN LOVE with him.

The things that have kept me in love with him are his deep rooted personality and character traits, like how he really cares that he is a man of his word and how he will work hard to take care of his family and how he makes me laugh every single day. These personality traits about him have not only kept me with him but have kept both of us happy and still in love to this day.  

So listed below are 5 characteristics I believe every women looking for a "Good man" (possibly Husband) should be looking for when they are considering a long term relationship; and remember no list is ever all-inclusive, but this is a great place to start. 

1.     He is equally loyal to everyone in his life (family, friends, co-workers)! If he’s loyal to others, he will be loyal to you! (This one is simple and to the point) 

2.     Respects the sanctity of marriage! If you are tired of playing games and really looking for someone to settle down with then you need to make sure he takes the sanctity of marriage seriously. 9 times out of 10 if he takes marriage seriously he will take the vows seriously. 

3.     He is a handshake-promise type of guy! In previous generations your word was all you had to prove to someone that you were an honest person. If you said something you meant it and you stuck to it. This is the type of guy you can trust. He cares about how he is viewed in life thus meaning he will care about how he looks to you as well.   

4.     Makes you laugh! Whoever said “laughter is medicine to the soul,” couldn’t have said truer words. Laughing is not only mentally therapeutic but it improves your over all health and lively-hood. If you can find a man that makes you laugh or at least laughs with you then you have found someone who doesn’t take life too seriously. He understands the adventure in life and doesn’t mind taking the journey, mistakes and all with you. 

5.     He is Philanthropic! If you find a man that cares about humanity as a whole he will always care about you at heart!

So ladies remember no man is perfect, but the main goal in meeting a man who is worth your time and effort is to look for inner characteristics and qualities that last a lifetime. Physical features are relevant to your desires but never let the physical be your deciding factor. Pound for pound a heart of gold is worth more than a six foot tall six pack! 

As Always,

Remember, Relationships Do Matter!

Toinette Neube 

5 Dos & Don'ts to Build and Maintain Healthy Female Relationships!! It’s not Impossible!

I think most people know by now that I study and research (as a relationship counselor) and one might go as far as to say “Love” (as a friend) Relationships! I love meeting new people & building relationships (yes even in my own Introvert kinda way)!

Throughout the years, I’ve found that building new friendships take time & patience but here are a few do's & don'ts in building & maintaining them with one of the hardest populations I know; FEMALES!!

Building friendships with females can be a hard nut to crack. They can be exclusive when you are trying to get in and too inclusive when it comes to sharing each other’s secrets and matters of the heart!

But they are not impossible to build; and once you do build them, they can be more loyal than a dog to its owner!

List below are 5 Do’s and Don’ts for building and maintaining healthy Female Relationships!

1. If you want the friendship, Do stay connected even in the midst of your busy life! We all have busy lives, but we make time for ANYTHING we really want!

2. Don't discipline, correct or treat your friends like they're your kids or your husband, no one wants to be harshly spoken to, corrected & or chastised in any relationship. Watch your tone, language & delivery when you talking to people!

3. If your friend has voiced that you've hurt them Do say I'm sorry even if you feel you have done nothing wrong.

4. Don't be a Drama Queen! Everyone gets drained of drama every now & then! Life is NOT always about you! Learn to share the Glimmer, Sparkle & Shine in the relationship! AND

5. Do show your friends that you love & appreciate their presence in your life! It's okay to give a random gift or card every now & then or treat them to dinner every once in awhile!

You see in order to have friends you've got to show yourself NOT ONLY friendly, but accommodating sometimes, inconvenienced sometimes, vulnerable sometimes & transparent at ALL THE TIME!

I've been BLESSED with numerous AWESOME Girlfriends & those relationships didn't develop because we were selfish or self-absorbing! It rattles my heart when I hear women say, "I don't have female friends. I don’t get along with women, that's why I'm by myself or only have guy friends!" Well I hate to say it, but that's when you need to do some self checking! You should have at least 1 or 2 Girlfriends you can count on; and if you have a clan (like Moi) Well that's AWESOME!! I'm not saying you need a clan, but its healthy to have 1 or 2 you can count on to have your back & front when needed & vice versa!

Now husbands, male friends, boyfriends & significant others are GREAT to have in your life, of course; but my mother always said, "No one can NURTURE a women like another women!!!

So No, Ladies, it’s not impossible to have great female friendships and it’s even GREATER if you have a Girl squad like Taylor Swift or a Girl Clan or Gang! It’s not only healthy but it’s one of the best feelings in the world to have a group of like-minded women who support you in your endeavors in life… There is no better feeling!!!

So Ladies… Here's to GIRL POWER!!  Females UNITE!!! 

As Always,

Remember, Relationships Do Matter!

Toinette Neube 

“5 Tips on raising Teens & Young adults who enjoy "Family Time"!

If you have children there are two points in life I’m sure you have been at or will eventually get to; that point when you are trying to figure out "where the time went, and that point where you are trying to get your kid(s) to spend more time with the family!

I have raised 3 boys into young men & to this day at 18, 19 & 22 years old they ALL still love "Family Time"! Proud Mommy moment! :-)

When I speak of family time, I don’t mean just dinner, it could be an event, a movie, or just hanging around the family having fun. Each and every one of my boys love staying regularly connected to our family, even as they get older; and THAT is an accomplishment all in itself!

Because of popular opinion, my husband and I awaited the day that so many people talked about; that moment when the boys would not want to hang around us or have family time any longer!” So we openingly accepted our fate… but to our surprise the day has yet to come.

Now we do understand that it is healthy for them to venture off and find their own way in life. That’s not what this blog is about; it’s about teaching or showing your children how important family time and togetherness is in their lives and praying they will take that lesson on into their own family value; because we all know, friends come and go, but family is forever!  

So how did we do it you ask? Well as with anything in life, nothing is fail proof, but I can say I believe my husband and I found a few rules and practices that worked for us while they were small and we just made them habits throughout the years and they still seem to be working 22 years and counting later.

Listed below are 5 rules and practices that have worked for us and we feel confident will work for you with time, practice and some stick-to-it-ness!

  1. Start when they are small! Catch them while they still need & even want your time & attention. Start incorporating family time into your family’s weekly routine once you are able to begin a regular routine after having the baby. This can even start once the baby starts to use a highchair; pull that highchair up to the table so he/she can be included in dinner time. Starting earlier is key, because we all know if it’s not ingrained in them, IT WILL NOT last long.
  2. Make it a habit! Keeping family time as a weekly routine is another key to getting the kids use to it. They say it takes doing something 28 to 30 days over and over again before it becomes a habit, so keep it up!!!
  3. Make it interesting! Make sure it's something they have an interest in. It could be a movie, a game, a TV show, an event, etc. The family time event, outing or “thing” doesn’t always have to be something everyone agrees on; for example sometimes mom may have to suffer through a football game if she has a house full or boys, (I know this one oh too well!) or dad may have to sit through watching "Princess Diaries 2 for the 3rd time, just for his own little princess....Sometimes you have to suck it up and “Just sit through it!”
  4. Don’t be so serious about it! Don't always use “family time” as a time for direct lessons. As they grow up there are always lessons in life they can learn, and you may be tempted to use this time to make an example of those lesson or talk about certain topics, but trust me when I say you don’t want to always use “family time” as a serious moment. Mix it up from fun and light topics to serious ones with fun and light being the prominent one. As a teen or young adult you don't always want to feel like you are in school. So even if your motive is to use this particular family time as a lesson, "feel" the kid(s) out. If you feel you can discuss the topic at hand right then, then go for it, but if not, then go to the event or watch the movie and save the “life lesson talk” for another time.
  5. Be Flexible! As they grow up continue to have scheduled family time but be flexible with them. Yes as they get older & make their own schedules they may miss a day or two of “family time”, but keep the tradition up and eventually they will realize what they are missing and come back into the fold. 

As I mentioned earlier nothing is fail proof and you really have to cater life to your own family’s culture and values, but one thing I do believe is if you have a heart to keep “family time” alive in the lives of your teens and young adults then just by having the desire to do it is a start and just by starting you are on the RIGHT TRACK to raising teens & young adults who will always enjoy & love Family Time!

Remember, Relationships Do Matter!

Toinette Neube

How to have Effective Communication in your marriage! “Did you hear what I said?”

Guilty, guilty, guilt, I am so guilty of asking my husband this question thousands (okay maybe just hundreds) of times over the course of our 22-year marriage; but what I’ve found over the years is that even though every wife may not ask the question the way I do, many of them feel the same way… UNHEARD!

Now when I use the word “unheard”, I don’t mean you don’t think your spouse really didn’t hear you, but the question is, did they really understand what was being said? It’s like someone speaking a foreign language to you, but you really aren’t understanding them.Well sometimes, the same goes for communicating with your spouse;they may hear you, but did they really understand you; and of course,that’s the goal with all relationships and communication, to be understood.

Not only is listening a goal of effective communication, but so are many other… here is it… “teachable” characteristics. The loveable word here is “Teachable”! Effective Communication does not have to be unattainable or frustrating.Per Everette Worthington author of the book, Hope-Focused Marriage Counseling there are several interventions you could use to improve the communication between you and your spouse. But what I’ve found is that even though the book gives several tips on effective communication, if you just start implementing a few of the interventions, you’ve paved the way to effective communication in your marriage and your life.

Listed below are 5 ways you can make the communication between you and your spouse achievable and effective!

1.       Communicate by loving them the way they need to be loved! In my last blog, I wrote aboutThe 5 Love Languages; find out your spouse’s love language and put it into action.

2.       Communicate by loving them positively!Focus on the positive attributes of your spouse. Yes, we all know no one is perfect, but one of my mottos in life is “Whatever you focus on will grow”, if you focus on the negative that’s what you will always see in your spouse; but if you focus on what’s good and loving and honorable about your spouse that’s what will grow in your lives together. Compliment them on what they do well and not nag them on what they don’t do at all!

3.       Communicate by listening more! This brings me back to my introduction, “Did you hear what I said?” One thing I’ve learned in life that everyone in life,(regardless whether they admit it or not), just want to be loved, accepted and heard! No one likes to be ignored, so this makes listening, one of the most important characteristics in communication to develop. Listening is a Blog all in itself, so stay tuned for my blog on “Effective Listening Skills”.

4.       Communicate by sharing your values! Sharing your values, in opinion is one very important but overlooked communication technique most couples omit in their relationships. Sharing values such as religious, family and even financial values are a big component of effectively communicating with your spouse. 

5.       Communicate by creating time to communicate!We all have heard the saying, “We create time for everything we want to create time for!” Well the saying is true in all aspects of life. There is no better way to make someone feel special than to create time for them in your life. Whether it’s inviting them to an event, scheduling them in your calendar or making a date to just hang out and chit chat; and a spouse or significant other is no different! Creating time can be one of the biggest barriers in the lives of couples or relationships especially where children are involved. So, protecting the boundaries of communication and creating time to communicate is vital to creating an effective communication life between you and your spouse!

As I mentioned earlier, there are several other interventions you could use to help move you and your spouse toward effectively communicating with one another, but the ones listed above, if put to practice in a habit-forming manner, are a great start!

Remember, being married, in a relationship or being coupled is work! There are no perfect marriages and no perfect couples! According to the American Psychological Association, almost 50% of marriages end in divorce and one of the main reasons beside finances those marriages fail is because of a lack of communication.

So, I admonish you, study, yes, I said “study” your partner, learn how they desire to be loved,love them positively, listen to them more, share your values with them, and create time to communicate with them EFFECTIVELY!!

Love, Kisses and Teacups!

Always in His Grace!

Toinette Neube