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Grateful, My Love

My friend Nneka invited the world to contribute a post about gratitude this month as those of us in the US are celebrating Thanksgiving. Gratitude is a large part of Bruce and my life — at each evening meal we give thanks for at least one thing from our day AND we take time to verbally acknowledge each other and ourselves too. This ritual is deeply satisfying.

When I sat down to consider sharing gratitude on this blog, I thought that offering my thanks for Bruce would be most fitting. . .and most natural. Grateful, My Love describes some of what I’m grateful for in my phenomenal husband, Bruce Ross Mulkey.

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to take time out to tell your beloved why you’re grateful for her/his presence in your life. Trust me, the right moment is NOW!

Grateful, My Love

I am grateful for your smile, my love. Whether you are delighted with something in me or simply joyful about life, your smile is sunshine that warms my heart and helps me feel at peace. Your smile rouses my smile and I feel the joy of that act changing my whole day.

Bruce Mulkey and Shonnie Lavender on the trail to Shining Rock Wilderness I am grateful for your hands, my love. I feel comforted by your embrace and excited by your passionate touch. Your hands offer help, assurance, love–they are reminders that I have ample support in my life.

I am grateful for your voice, my love. You speak words of consolation when I ache, you tell truths when I forget who I am, you laugh and incite my laughter when I’m caught in the seriousness of life.

I am grateful for your eyes, my love. You see beauty, possibility and truth when I am blind to life’s light. You alert me to opportunities and obstacles so I can more easily navigate my way. You open a window to your soul where I can come look in.

I am grateful for your heart, my love. Beating with constancy and strength, the music of your love always accompanies me. You are tender and open, willingly receiving my love. You show me that vulnerability and power can peacefully reside in one place equally without loss.

Bruce Mulkey and Shonnie Lavender resting at Max Patch, North CarolinaI am grateful for your mind, my love. You share imagination, insights, and inquisitiveness, keeping us from stalling in complacency. Your ideas call mine to dance with you as we dream and envision, rejoice and remember, consecrate and connect.

I am grateful for you, my love. Grateful for all the ways you love me; grateful for how easily you allow me to love you; grateful for how you complement me and how you open yourself to the gifts that I offer; grateful for the exuberance, joy and pleasure you bring to the high times of our lives; grateful for your depth of feeling and your steadfast partnership when our lives travel the low paths; grateful for your precious presence, in memories past and this present moment. For you my love, I am much more than grateful. I am blessed by you. My love.

The high price of poor listening. What is it costing you?

distractions and miscommunicationsAre you missing opportunities because you’re not listening?

“My wife says I never listen to her. At least I think that’s what she said.”


“Conversation: a vocal competition in which the one who is catching his breath is called the listener.”


Do you ever have disagreements or fights with your partner because someone isn’t listening? Have you ever known that your wife/husband told you something important but you can’t remember what it was? Do you sometimes get distracted, bored, or annoyed in a conversation about a “difficult” issue?

If these quotes or scenarios ring a bell, you NEED this free complimentary class to improve one of your most important relationship skills — listening. Join us for a one hour introduction to effective listening. Below are the basic facts about this class. Click the title of the class to learn more or register.

Listening for Love: Effective Listening for Couples
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
7-8 p.m. Eastern
Via telephone conference call
(i.e., If you have a phone you can be in the class.)

Our three primary objectives for this communications class are to learn:

  • Why effective listening is vital to a healthy relationship
  • The crucial differences between “hearing” and “listening”
  • Some of the barriers that prevent you from hearing what’s really being said

We look forward to hearing you on the call. Participate solo or invite your partner to join you. Learn more about Listening for Love or register now.

Podcast — Meet Shonnie Lavender & Bruce Mulkey

icon for podpress  Meet Shonnie Lavender & Bruce Mulkey [18:37m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Marriage vow experts, Shonnie Lavender & Bruce MulkeyWhether you’re new to the I Do! I Do! blog or you’ve been visiting for awhile, you may be wondering about how we came to be “relationship experts.” Well, actually, we believe our true expertise is solely within OUR relationship. That being said, we have years of experience with dating, un-dating, finding one’s “ideal” partner, commitment, and marriage. We even know plenty about divorce from personal experience (Bruce as someone who has divorced and remarried. Shonnie as a person whose parents divorced and remarried.) So, that means our experience also covers a wide range of topics that affect most couples, including, yet definitely not limited to:

  • couples and money issues
  • sexuality and intimacy
  • communication
  • joint decision making
  • making up and forgiveness
  • sharing household and other duties
  • extended family issues
  • family transitions

Because our intention is to build a community at I Do! I Do! (Maybe we call that “We Do! We Do!”), we want to get to know one another. So, we’ll start the conversation with this podcast (Simply turn on your speakers and click the “audio mp3″ graphic or “Play Now” text to play the podcast file – 18 minutes.), where we tell you about:

  • our backgrounds — can you say May-December?
  • how we met — involves mildly crazy ideas, sweat, and lots of runners
  • our wedding — it landed us in a Christian Science Monitor story titled, “Nutty Nuptials”
  • our history writing marriage/wedding vows — we are one committed couple
  • how we came to write I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook — a winding path led us to this destination
  • our intention with the book — can we change the world one relationship at a time?

Now it’s your turn. We want to meet you. So, leave a comment telling us a bit about yourself(selves), what you’re going for in your relationship, and any questions you’d like us to answer about love, marriage, wedding vows or anything else that would support you in creating and maintaining your ideal relationship.

Tips for writing your own marriage vows

In our post, “the benefits of writing your own wedding vows,” we outlined five ways you strengthen your relationship by choosing to write your own vows instead of relying on traditional vows or some “fill in the blanks” formula. While we certainly hope that most of you reading our posts and listening to our podcasts, will buy The Marriage Vow Workbook to guide you through the process of writing your vows, we want to offer all of you some specific tips (no charge, of course).

If you’re not yet sure why you should write your own vows, read our post, “Why should I write my own wedding vows?

  1. Create a supportive environment. Set aside time that will be uninterrupted and quiet so you can devote your full attention to writing your vows.
  2. Put an agreement in place to be fully present, to really hear one another, and to be supportive of one another while writing your vows.
  3. Open your mind and your heart. Your vows are already within you. Give yourself permission to simply pour out your thoughts and feelings onto paper. You can edit and rewrite later.
  4. Use language that feels natural to you and the way you communicate.
  5. Consider vows that speak the truth about who each of you really are, how you want to be with one another, and what you want to create during your life together.
  6. Create vows that call forth your personal best yet leave room for your humanity when you sometimes fall short.
  7. Notice the feelings that arise as you write your vows. If you feel joy, excitement, love, gratitude, and other positive emotions, you’re on the right track.
  8. Enjoy yourself and have fun. If your mind starts to wander or you find yourself resisting this endeavor, stop for a while. Take a break. Return to the creative process later.
  9. Be completely honest with yourself and your partner. Honesty is a vital component of all enduring relationships, and the process of writing your vows may prompt meaningful conversations with your partner or some deep reflection of your own.
  10. Remember that this process is more about drawing forth your intuitive and emotional wisdom than it is about crafting some grammatically perfect, smooth-sounding sentences. If the vows uplift your spirit, move you to say “yes, yes, yes,” and draw forth a broad smile, you have vows that matter to you and add strength to your life as a couple.

We would love to get your feedback about these tips. Did they support you to successfully write your vows? Did you hit a stumbling block with any of them? Do you have your own tips to add? This is an open conversation, so click the “comments” link to add your voice to the mix.