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Podcast — Prevent negative energy from turning into trouble

icon for podpress  Standard Podcast [4:59m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

A tiny snowball at the top of a mountain starts to roll down the slopes. As it rolls, it accumulates more and more snow, becoming a gigantic snowy boulder that will crush anything in its path.

Have you ever had that kind of “snowball effect” in your relationship, where many tiny annoyances soon roll into one huge argument? My guess is that you have (or you at least know someone who has). I’m also guessing that you would be happy to have fewer such “snowball” situations from now on.

The good news is that we each have personal warning signs that alert us to relationship “danger ahead.” In this podcast (5 minutes), I share an example of one of my warning signs and how knowing it kept Bruce and me out of a deep dark hole.

How to prevent a negative situation from getting worse

  • Know how you feel when you’re in a negative situation — Perhaps you feel a tightness in your chest, your breathing is more rapid and shallow, or your head starts to ache. Learn what signals your body sends to tell you that something’s not right.
  • Know your personal “warning signs” that danger lurks ahead — You might hear that certain tone in your voice or notice that judgmental thoughts are zooming through your mind. Become adept at recognizing that your fuse is wearing out and you’re getting close to your explosion point.
  • Learn how to diffuse negative situations — You can simply stop talking, take some deep breaths before talking again, or even ask for a time out. Find effective ways to disengage your negative energy so that you can stop a downward-spiraling conversation from gaining any more momentum.

“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”

~ Dale Carnegie

What habits or practices do you use to keep negative situations from spiraling downward into trouble?

Podcast — Ideas for couples thinking of writing their own wedding vows

icon for podpress  Bruce Mulkey & Shonnie Lavender interviewed by Karen Ross [12:18m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

“We believe that each couple has the vows within them. We put together a process to draw those vows out.”

~ Bruce Mulkey

Planning your wedding can be a hectic, challenging time. For many couples, the idea of using their own vows is appealing, yet the thought of having one more thing “to do” can seem overwhelming. We understand this dilemma and wrote The Marriage Vow Workbook to give you a path to follow in writing your own wedding vows.

Picture of a radio In this episode of the I Do! I Do! podcast (12 minutes 18 seconds long), we share part of our interview by radio talk show host, Karen Ross, from 106.3 FM in Greenville, South Carolina. Here are the areas we talk about with Karen.

  • Why we were inspired to write The Marriage Vow Workbook
  • How the book benefits couples entering their first marriage as well as people who are preparing to remarry and those who are renewing their vows
  • Writing your own wedding vows is easier than you might think
  • How reviewing your vows on a regular basis helps to keep your love strong
  • How The Marriage Vow Workbook offers more than simply a process for writing your own wedding vows
  • The advantages of having thoughtful relationship conversations before you get married
  • The value couples receive from taking the opportunity to go deep and explore some areas like values, goals, and their vision for the relationship before they ever say “I do”

“Looking at some of these exercises [in The Marriage Vow Workbook], they’re important in ways other than just writing the vows. I would imagine this opens up some real areas of insight for couples.”

~ Karen Ross

If you have questions about writing the vows for your upcoming wedding, drop us a comment below or send us an email via our Contact Us page. We’re here to help you get your marriage started off right.

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.

Podcast — Commitment: Essential to loving lasting relationships

icon for podpress  Commitment [45:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

This week we had the pleasure of being interviewed by Tom Heck, of We were sharing about the importance of commitment in creating relationships that flourish–whether they are intimate or professional in nature.

You may click on the link at the bottom of this message to listen to the full interview (46 minutes). The primary areas we discussed include:

  • How we define “commitment” and “vows”
  • The power of using your vows on an ongoing basis (I also talk about this in our first podcast)The Commitment Scale
  • The Commitment Scale (see graphic) — and how you can use it to stay connected to your partner and inspired in your relationship. We review the five levels of commitment, how to know which level you are in, and how to move up the scale to a higher level of commitment.
  • The quality of a committed relationship versus a relationship in which commitment is lacking.
  • The power of ritual in creating joy, gratitude and longevity in your marriage.

To access our full set of notes about commitment and The Commitment Scale, join our mailing list. Simply fill in the subscription form on the homepage. Once you’ve verified your subscription, you can download the PDF. You can also download the first 15 pages and a sample exercise (Rating Your Relationship) from I Do! I Do! The Marriage Vow Workbook (PDF files).

If you have practices that help you and your partner stay connected and committed, share them in the comments section. We’d love to benefit from your expertise too!

Podcast — How wedding vows can solve arguments with your spouse

icon for podpress  Standard Podcast [6:36m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Well, actually you and your spouse will have to solve your own arguments, yet your wedding vows can help make it easier. Listen in as I tell you how our wedding vows recently helped us clear the air.

This is our first I Do! I Do! podcast. Our goal is to provide no-nonsense resources YOU can use to create YOUR ideal relationship–yes, we do mean “ideal.” Not just ho hum habitation, so-so spouse-hood, or mediocre marriage. We want your relationship to ROCK! (You do too, right?) To that end we’ll be producing these audio programs that you can listen to on your computer, via iTunes, or as a downloadable MP3 file. When applicable we’ll have accompanying transcripts or notes in the blog post.

So this first episode was unplanned. Bruce and I had a disconnect–our term for a disagreement because even if it’s minor, we sense our disconnection from each other when it happens. I believed he had interrupted me and I responded to him in an annoyed and irritated way. In the podcast I talk about how we got reconnected and the role that my wedding vows played in making that possible.

So, simply turn on your speakers and click the “audio mp3″ graphic or “Play Now” text below to play the podcast file and listen in on what happened.

If you want to know more about how we solve disagreements, manage marital upsets, or fight fair when we do argue, let us know. Also, if you have specific marriage or relationship topics that you want to have us talk about, drop us a comment via the link below.

Thanks for listening!