Marriage is Like an Iceberg

Sandra Dillon: May 15, 2018


iceberg


I’ve often heard people say, “I wish I had a marriage like so-and-so’s.” What they really mean is that they want what appears to the marriage of the other couple. They fail to realize that marriage is like an iceberg—only 10-20% of it floats above the surface with 80-90% of it living hidden from view. What a married couple shows to the world about their marriage is usually just a small percentage of the relationship, and it’s usually the “good” stuff.

As a marriage coach I’ve seen both—great marriages that are consistent both inside and outside the home and those which appear ideal to the world and are “hot messes” at home. What are the differences between good marriages and ones that need improvement? What needs to reside beneath the surface for a truly successful marriage? In my practice, I find thriving marriages usually have one or both spouses intentionally adopting more of the “successful” attitudes and behaviors and shedding the “struggling” ones.

Successful Marriages Have… Struggling Marriages Have…
Self-sacrifice Selfishness
Optimism Negativity
Gratitude Ungratefulness
Shared core values Opposing core values
Trust Distrust
Vision and mission Lack of vision and purpose
Meeting spouse’s needs Ignoring spouse’s needs
Vulnerable Closed off
Shared goals Competing goals

If you’re married or engaged, I encourage you to review the list of “marriage haves” and rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 on how well you stand today on the “successful” side. Then take one small step by selecting 2 or 3 of these behaviors and attitudes to work on. Get specific on what this change would look like in action, so you can measure improvement.

I hope you won’t be envious of other marriages and focus only on your own. Refrain from comparing your marriage to others, just get to work on yours. You don’t need one more vacation, a new job, or more money to have a better marriage. You only need you, the right attitude, and the right behaviors.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

My Tribute to Motherhood

Sandra Dillon: May 14, 2018


I’m blessed to be both a daughter and mother, and hopefully, when the time is right a grandmother. Sandwiched between two great women—my mom and daughter—I love these two awesome women who are alike as they are different from me. We are connected by our similarities and at the same time wonderfully unique. Regardless whether we agree or would make the same life choices, I can honestly say that they are both my heroes.

My mom was my first hero, although I didn’t identified her as such until I was myself a young adult. The significance of her sacrifices made during my first 18 years of life where magnified when you consider that my father left our family when I was 6 years old. In 1967, my mom was left to take full responsibility for my brother and me. Although it was only 50 years ago, divorce had a stigma and women were still considered property in some states.

Without practical skills, a college education, and receiving only sporadic child support, my mother did everything possible to keep us safe and off welfare. When most single working moms were Democrats, my mother was a Republican, who believed everyone had a personal responsibility to provide for themselves and their family. She instilled the values which led my brother to become a reputable home builder and myself to be an engineer, business woman, and now leadership coach.

Every day I am in awe of the world my mom had to navigate with two small children. I appreciate every opportunity she gave me and how she supported me even during difficult times. She always believed in me when at times I wasn’t sure of myself. My mom is an incredibly strong woman who gets tough when the tough gets going. She’s a survivor, hard worker, creator, and problem-solver. I may not choose the bold colors and bling that my mother fashionably wears around town, and she may not have my technically sharp mind, but we share a zest for life, an incredibly strong work ethic, and a never give up attitude.

These enduring qualities have been passed down to my daughter, my second hero, although she has created a life that is different and very much her own. She has a love for animals that sometimes rivals her love of people. When I asked her at 6 years old what she wanted to be when she grew up, she unwaveringly replied she wanted to be a seal trainer and have 10 dogs, 10 cats, and 10 kids. At 23 years old, she is a certified vet tech, board member of a dog rescue, cross country pet transporter, has 1 cat and 4 dogs, and fosters at least 3 additional dogs. Kids? I’m not convinced I’ll be a grandmother, but I’m certain she’ll have at least 10 acres of land in Colorado for those 10 dogs, 10 cats, and 10 fosters. And if not, she’ll have you believing you need to with her creative and compelling storytelling.

Her heart is huge for those who can’t do for themselves and has little patience for those who choose otherwise. She’s one of the most self-sacrificing women I know and will go without if it means saving one more homeless pet. Her work ethnic inspires me, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by those she works and serves alongside. I’m proud to call her my daughter.

My mother, daughter, and I are connected by blood, a shared bond of ethics, and the belief that anything worth doing requires our best efforts. We are spread across the country in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Texas, and it seems like forever since we shared time together. Although this Mother’s Day we will celebrate our relationship quietly in our own state, we will have our tribute to motherhood later this year when we spend a week together with no agenda other than to celebrate each other.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

Failure Is a Must for a Good Life Story

Sandra Dillon: May 13, 2018


Story to tell 1We should all have at least one great story to tell, and it is the story of our life. And if we want to make ours worth a read, it must have certain elements.

A good story has a theme that helps the reader learn something about his own life through the penned words of the writer. All memorable stories have a character that struggles with internal feelings or needs or a conflict which may or may not be a result of his own doing. The important part of the plot is the character must win or lose at least partially by his own initiative and choices as opposed to being rescued.

Why am I sharing the structure of a great story? Because we’ve entered a time when failure isn’t a socially acceptable option, and parents will go to great lengths with their time, money, and excuses to ensure their children don’t fail. In my opinion, these parents are robbing their children of a full life—experiences of personal growth and the telling of a good life story.

To ensure we’re talking the same language, let’s define failure. Failure can be driving hard for something never achieved or never working hard enough to achieve anything of personal significance. Failure can be not having the right priorities and living with the outcome. In the worse scenarios, failure can mean choosing selfish behaviors that result in harm to others. You may have other definitions, but these capture some common ones.

Who doesn’t like a good story where somebody struggles and overcomes failure or a series of failures? I don’t know one good story where someone has been rescued when he should have rescued himself. Parents should allow their children to (1) live with the consequences of their choices and (2) live their own life and not the plan parents dream for their children.

My encouragement to parents is to suspend any helicoptering parenting that clears obstacles in the path of their children or rescues them from their poor choices. Instead, pray for your children as you let them fail while they figure out life, and with faith you will likely see them flourish as they learn first-hand from their mistakes. Perhaps their story will be so compelling, it will find its way onto the New York Times best selling non-fiction list.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.