What I Learned About Parenting from an Invisible Gorilla

By | Communication, Conflict, Kids, Life Challenges, Parenting, Relationships, Technology and Social Media | 2 Comments
I was watching TV the other night, paying attention to a documentary on a subject that I don’t even really care about, when my wife stepped between me and the big screen.  “Jonathan, Cheyenne’s been trying to get your attention… she’s called you twice.”

It turns out that my daughter had gone to her room, retrieved a craft that she had completed earlier in the day, brought it upstairs where I was watching TV, stood well within my line of site, said “Hey dad…” two times, and the truth is I didn’t hear her.  I didn’t even see her.  I was too absorbed in what I was watching. Read More

When You Can’t Afford a Full-Time Maid – A Better Approach to the Housework Fight

By | Conflict, Kids, Life Challenges, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | No Comments
So your wife suggests to you that you should maybe help with stacking the dishwasher or vacuuming the floor and you tell her you will.

Hours later you’re watching one of your favorite shows, having completely forgotten your promise to contribute to the household chores and you hear the ominous sound of the vacuum cleaner turning on.  You also hear the theme song from Jaws at the same time—but that might just be in your head.

You jump up and head for the dishwasher… at least if you stack that quickly, you will have kept 50% of your promise.  But, alas, she has stacked it already.  Oh yeah; she’s that good.

You know that there will be some tension now because of this.  “You aren’t helping”… whatever that means. Read More

You Might Want to Say That in Person

By | Conflict, Life Challenges, Relationships, Technology and Social Media | No Comments
Part of being a couples’ coach is allowing couples to replay their arguments and fights. This allows them to explain what frustrates them, and how they would like to see things be different in the future. But a new wrinkle has developed for me in my coaching ministry over the last year or two. As of late, I don’t just get the replay, I get the transcript.

As one person is kind of explaining to me the gist of the battle, the other says… “You want to hear exactly what she said? I have it right here in my texts…” Read More


By | Conflict, Life Challenges, Relationships | No Comments
I haven’t had much experience with being invisible, until a few days ago.

I was attending a conference in California, and sat down at a round lunch table between sessions and began a very enjoyable conversation with a couple of other attenders.  Then, two others joined the table.  The gentleman sat directly to my left, the lady, directly to my right.  They were already deeply engaged in a rather intense (and loud) conversation.

I found myself a little closer to both of these individuals than I’d prefer, both sitting so close our elbows were almost touching, both leaning in to express their interest in each other’s thoughts and opinions.  I sat there for a few strange moments, their faces uncomfortably close to mine, weighing my options.  Should I offer to switch seats?  Should I excuse myself and leave?  Should I introduce myself?  “Hi, I’m Jonathan… a person at the table…”

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My Top 10 Favorite Relationships Self-Help Books (for now).

By | Authors and Books, Conflict, Goals, Leadership, Life Challenges, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | No Comments
I’m a very picky reader.  Because my schedule is so full, I don’t have a huge excess of time to spend sifting through the never-ending pile of self-help resources popping up on bookstore shelves.  For me to invest time in a book, it has to come highly recommended by someone I trust, or it has to have a reputation for being an incredible resource.  Either way, I’ll find the time to read books with transformative content.  I’ve been fortunate to run across many books that meet that criteria.  These are my favorites… for now (and it wasn’t easy limiting the list to 10).

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The Boundaries Backlash

By | Conflict, Kids, Leadership, Life Challenges, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | One Comment
A few days ago I posted a book recommendation to my Facebook page.  I said that if you could only read one self-help book in 2015, I’d recommend Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  I didn’t make this recommendation lightly, because let’s face it, there are a lot of great books out there.  There’s something that makes this book uniquely special.  We live in such a permissive world today it can be very difficult to understand how and when to use the word no.  Beyond that, some of us have grown up with a brand of Christianity that presents a picture of love without limits that makes boundaries seem downright un-Christian.  But Drs. Cloud and Townsend do an expert job at explaining the fact that God has built limitations into the universe in which we live, and in you personally.  Being able to set healthy boundaries is one of the most important steps you can take to achieving a healthy and productive life.

This blog post isn’t about the Boundaries book.  I hope you own it, or have access to it and can learn what’s presented there.  This blog post is about the backlash you should expect when you set a boundary with someone.  Whether the person to which you must say no is 2 years old or 80, there is a fairly predictable response that you should expect and know how to handle. Read More

We Need to Talk – How to Handle Difficult Discussions

By | Conflict, Leadership, Life Challenges, Marriage, Parenting, Relationships | No Comments
I hate difficult talks.  I tend to be a pretty soft-hearted individual, so it’s very difficult for me to talk with someone about problems within our relationship.  It’s troubling to think about all the ways in which the other person might misunderstand me or get the wrong impression.  If that weren’t bad enough, I find myself preoccupied with trying to anticipate the objections or arguments they might bring up.  How do I know that I’ll be able to respond to their comments or questions?  I’ll think.  It’s also easy to remember all the difficult conversations that have gone awry over the years and assume this one will be another in that series.

But difficult discussions are a part of life.  Relationships come pre-installed with tension… that’s part of living in a broken world.  As a result, we need to have a strategy for these kinds of conversations.  We need a way of being confident in ourselves so that we can talk about the challenges that threaten relationships.  Not dealing with the tension is not an option.  That’s how relationships fall apart. Read More

Anger Needs a Speed Limit

By | Conflict, Life Challenges, Relationships | No Comments
Under the hood of the car I drive is a V-8 powerhouse engine that is capable of propelling my vehicle to speeds well in excess of the highest speed limit in the state of Kansas.  There are numbers printed on my speedometer that the needle on my gauge will never sweep, Lord willing, as long as I own this vehicle.  But my car is capable of those speeds.

If I’d never taken lessons to learn how to drive as a teenager, if I’d never been given tests requiring me to acknowledge the laws and regulations of our great state, if I’d never seen the posted speed limit signs fully understanding that the violation thereof would result in a ticket, I might drive my car as fast as possible all the time… after all, it would get me there faster. Read More