Nourishing Zen

Nourishing YOU. Adventures to Healthy, Happy, and a Fulfilling Life! Food is our medicine.


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Save Some $$$ – Make Your Own Pouches for Your Baby/Toddler!


The food pouches you buy at the store can be  so expensive especially when you have a very hungry toddler like we do! These pouches can be anywhere from 1 to 3 dollars each! So, it really helps to be able to make our own! We often buy organic fruits or veggies that are frozen to help cut down on costs as well. We also have reusable (BPA Etc. free) pouches that you can put in the dishwasher to clean! 

For the pouches above I used two medium sized sweet potatoes, one large pear and one large apple. Steamed them, blended, then used the Infantino Squeeze Station to make the pouches! Easy!

And of course our little guy loved them!


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Calling ALL Teachers and Parents!!!! Should We Implement Universal Preschool?


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Currently, I am studying education. I am curious to know what your thoughts are about this topic – especially parents and teachers!
In one of my classes we have been discussing the importance of schooling and various school systems across the world. For example, in Mexico, children attend preschool from 3 to 5 years of age. The third year of preschool at the age of five, is equivalent to our kindergarten. There, students are able to interact socially with others of the same age, and also build a solid foundation for grade school.

In conjunction, we have also been discussing the roles of parents and how this has changed dramatically over the past 50-100 years! Women’s roles have also shifted in being accepted into many powerful positions in their careers. Further, with our economy, The need for two incomes, or two working parents is more of a necessity now. Thus, the need for childcare or, better yet, the cost of childcare is a rising concern!

On the flip side, what would this mean for our taxes? Would it affect smaller day care institutions? Does that mean less flexibility in the type of pre-school a child can attend?

I am interested to know if you are or are not in favor of a universal preschool? I would also like to know your reasons and thoughts! Please and thank you. 🙂


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Happy Chinese New Year!


Gung Hay Faht Choy!

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Here begins the year of the goat.

The years of the goat are 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015.

Personality
People born in the year of the goat have personality traits that are calm, gentle, creative, thoughtful, amicable, persevering, frank and honest.

They have very delicate thought, strong creativity, and perseverance, and acquire the professional skills as well. although they look gentle on the surface, they are tough on the inside, always insisting on their own opinions in their minds. They have strong inner resilience an excellent defense instincts.

Though they preferred to be in groups, they do not want to be the center of attention. They are reserved and quiet, most likely because they like spending much time in their thoughts. Goats like to spend money on fashionable things that give them a first class of periods. Although they enjoy spending money on their finer things in life, they are not snobbish.

Health

Because people born in the year of the goat are very calm, they tend to have your health problems. If you go people are in mental and emotional good spirits this will have a positive effect on their health eating fresh and organic produce, limit eating red meat from their diet, is effective way to keep healthy. Being outdoors also helps to keep goat people healthy.

Careers

Goat people prefer to work in a team. Their best partners are people born in the Year of the Horse. They also aren’t very crazy about status and power. Good career choices for goats are pediatrician, actor, daycare teacher, interior designer, florist, hairstylist, musician, editor, illustrator, and art history teacher.

Relationships with Goat People

Overall, go people are private. It may take more time and effort to get to know these people. They do not often share their private lives. They keep to themselves. Goat people also have a few intimate friends, however, once they become friends their relationship is fulfilling.

What Goat People Should Avoid

Goat People should avoid using and wearing the colors green, blue, and black.

Their unlucky numbers are six and eight.

The unlucky direction for them is Southwest.

Avoid this third, sixth and 10th lunar months.

Reference: http://www.chinahighlights.com

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A Few Chinese New Year Traditional Foods

These are only some of the items my mom always told me that we should eat on this special day!

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Noodles for longevity.

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Buddha’s Delight – many vegetables! The Chinese believe that the first five days of the year should be with a vegetarian diet.

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Fish – preferably a whole fish. Eating fish promoted wealth, abundance and luck!

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Chinese candy box – Symbolizes togetherness!

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Mandarin Oranges – symbols of good fortunes. The orange resembles mounds of gold ushering in good fortune. if the oranges have their stems and leaves on, it’s even better because it represents longevity.

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Long leafy greens such as Chinese broccoli. Serves to wish a long life for parents.

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Dumplings to represent currency.

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Though there are many other foods that we are supposed to eat, I know that it is often not possible. The Chinese always believe to clean your house and to get rid of all old or unused items. A type of spring cleaning. This creates an environment where you start the new year with a clean home, and a fresh start.

Happy New Year! May you have a healthy, prosperous, and abundant year!


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Wedding Politics: The Guest List.


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Reading time: 5 minutes of your day.

The excitement of getting engaged has subsided and you are now faced with dreaded wedding planning. Initially, it is all thrilling and new. The thoughts, options and possibilities are exhilarating to think about! Soon enough, it all hits you like a ton of bricks. Wedding planning has officially begun. When it’s time to get your feet wet, you move into the nitty gritty stuff like the guest list.

When starting to plan your wedding, I swear I had hundreds of thoughts zooming through my brain.  Where? When? How many? How much? Who will be invited?  How can I make most people happy for the most part?  And when you think about it, one part always relies on the other part.

From personal experience, the guest list is a huge part of wedding planning. How big or small will this guest list be? What does my budget or venue allow for? Who do I include? Who do I exclude? How much extended family should be invited? Do my parents get to invite their friends? Will people be insulted if they’re not invited? All relevant questions. Many these are also determined based on the size your venue can accommodate as well as your budget.

*Please note that I am definitely not an expert – but only writing from experience.*

Our Experience

Our wedding was limited to 75 people due to our venue. We went with the smaller venue because we liked the intimacy of a more select group to witness our wedding day. Some say it was too few, some say it was just right. Either way, it is your wedding, and yours only. (Remember that.  You’ll recite it millions of times until that big day.)  In the beginning of the planning fiasco, we wanted to invite everyone we knew (slight exaggeration here). Who wouldn’t? Imagining a huge party with everyone sounded so awesome! Buuuuut then we thought about it a little more. Do we REALLY want a large-scale wedding where we don’t know everyone all that well? After all, this is a very personal experience for the both of us and we had to ask ourselves who we really there.  We didn’t want a wedding where we wouldn’t know a quarter of the people attending.  We also wanted friends and family that supported us on our journey to get to where we are today.  The thought of inviting individuals who did not support us was almost disgusting.  Sounds vile, but could you imagine standing up in front of everyone, thinking, this is one of the biggest days of my life, and I’m staring at ‘Betty Jo’ whom absolutely hates us being together?  I think not.  Point taken?  I hope so.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1.  What is your budget?

2.  Do you want a large party of a wedding or small intimate wedding?

3.  Do you have a venue?  If so, what are the limitations?

4.  How much would it be per person?

5.  Do your parents have anyone that they would like to include?

6.  How much are you willing to stand your ground if there are any opposing opinions?  How stubborn do we want to be about what we want and don’t want?  (This will be the question that helps to answer most all of your future questions.)  Are you sticking to your ideas about what you want in your wedding day?  Or will you let others take the lead in deciding for you?

Here’s what we did:

Before you start, know what your target number is. Ours was 75.

1) Lists.

First…we made two lists (one of mine, one of his) of all family members that we 100%, without a doubt, wanted to come.
Second… we made another list but of all friends that were to be certainly invited.
Third… draw a line at the bottom of each list. Then, add any additional people that are not currently on your lists that you would want there. Extended family, close family friends, acquaintances, friends of the parents etc.

2) Numbers.

After making these lists count them up and see how many you have total. Is this list more or less than your target number?

3) Parents.

Before you make any adjustments and modifications, if your parents are contributing to your budget, it would be proper etiquette to ask them to make a list of who they would like you to invite.  This is merely a crowd-pleaser to some degree.  My parents are divorced so I had to ask them separately.  One parent decided to give a very long list, and the other did not provide any.  We counted the people we absolutely wanted to attend and then made accommodations for the additional spaces from the lists from the parents. If you have a lot of space, then you have so much more flexibility. If your parents are paying for your wedding and you are able to have a large guest list, then make sure the people you want to attend your wedding are invited and to leave some room for your parents’ buddies. If you’re having a smaller wedding, try to keep some spots open for the parents even if it’s a few.  Again, refer to question #6.

4. Wiggle room.

One thing to keep in mind is the inevitable last minute cancellations. We had 80 people invited and 7 people cancelled last minute which is more than we were thinking! It is practically impossible to think that every single person will be attending that you invite. Life happens – sicknesses, travel, family, work schedules etc. Give yourself some wiggle room. Anticipate some cancellations and add a few extra. Feel it out as your RSVP’s come in.

5. Know that you cannot change the inevitable.

It is guaranteed you are NOT going to be able to please everyone.  And it sucks.  This is supposed to be a happy time, and a positive experience but darn it why don’t people realize this isn’t their wedding – it’s yours!  Opinions will be shared, so take it or leave it.  Don’t dwell on it.  Easier said than done – trust me.  Sure, some people will be disappointed they weren’t invited. However, most all people know how timely and expensive weddings can be and understand. For those that do not understand, there is something to be said. Are these people you want at your wedding?

6.  If you don’t meditate, you should start now.

This is half joking and half serious.  Okay, more the serious side.  This is a good thing to practice at any time in your life.  When you’re surrounded by not only the chaos of life, but the chaos of wedding planning, a few minutes of peace is sometimes just what you need.  Whether it’s right when you wake up in bed, in the shower, on your deck, couch or on the floor – it must be a place where your body is balanced and you’re comfortable.  So you found your meditation spot – now what?  There are so many types of meditation and it completely depends on you. I focused on staying positive, showing gratitude, and reaffirming self-worth.  An example of this would be, I am perfect the way that I am. I am worthy.  I am loving and kind.  I am grateful for ____ (fill in the blanks with anything or anyone and visualize).  Everything will happen as they should.  And repeat.  And visualize.  Your thoughts may wander, and that is OK!  This is what practice is for.  I promise you that this will help, but you’ve got to stay committed to it!  I believe in you!

Overall, we were very happy with our wedding and who was there with us.  We felt that we hardly were able to speak with everyone during the reception for more than a few minutes.  But, we were at least able to touch base with everyone there and not feel too rushed.  It was difficult to think about having MORE people there!  For many people, this will be one of the most difficult parts of a wedding.  For others, it may be a breeze.  Either way, every wedding, every person and every situation is different.  Have an open mind and heart, and all will be good.


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Surviving my 20’s (somehow) – 9 Lessons Learned!


Reading time: 8-10 minutes of your life.

Let’s be real here, I constantly wonder how I survived my 20’s.  I had that ‘Oh sh!t I’m turning 31 soon’ moment today.  Reflecting back on my 20’s and all the craziness that took place, made me realize what I learned during that decade of chaos.  I’m not going to get into the details of everything but WOW.  I believe that there is SO much change during that time.  I have asked a number of people for their input and many of the same kept coming up.  Again, this is all relative!

From the early 20’s, you’re in college, or graduating college, or maybe you started working after high school.  You think, there is really life after my high school bubble?!? Yes, yes there is and darn it now I have to kind of grow up.  Kind of.  You live on your own and you learn the tango of living with other people besides your family.  Having to actually share your space with other people, divvying up household responsibilities, and being held accountable for bills – yikes. Surviving your 21st birthday and the crazy bar/club scene is a pure miracle.  Hopefully it wasn’t based from the movie ‘The Hangover’. Bar tabs, eating out whenever and eating whatever were major parts of your spending habits. Random dates, unhealthy relationships, unruly friends, and living life on the edge was a good portion of your syllabus.

Some of you may have continued to graduate school in the mid-20’s, or kept on working but here you see more of a finesse in living on your own.  Your relationships may, or may not have improved. But if it’s any consolation, you sure as heck learned a lot the hard way. OR maybe you played it safe. In any event, there is a lot to be learned during the third decade of your life!

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1.  Start saving.  And leave it be. 

Did I do this? Yes, but I kept taking money out for various expenses.  So what am I left with?  Not too much! If there’s anything that I’ve learned thus far is that there are SO many unexpected items to pay for that you have to dip into your savings for.  In my early 20’s there was no way in hell I had a savings account and an emergency savings account.  Maybe I wasn’t the most educated about how to best save my money at that point, but at least I got there eventually…  In any event, I would say that putting away at least $5 a paycheck to start.  I know college students don’t usually have all the time in the world to work, but every little bit counts.  I wish someone made me do this back then! Remember, leave it be and do not touch your savings!  (Easier said than done).

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2.  Take care of your body and mind.

Yet another piece of advice that was not drilled at me.  And when I have kids, I will drill this into their brains.  Seriously.  Being diabetic and susceptible to just about anything and everything, it is imperative to start exercising regularly and eating healthy.  Most people eat and drink whatever they please, without the worry of gaining weight or any health risks.  Plus not to mention the metabolism is a bit more speedy during those years!  Ahhhh the good ‘ol days.  Burgers and fries with beers, fried yummy-ness, pasta, bread, sugary things from heaven and eating whatever and whenever I wanted… I dream about this, you know? No… I really do dream of this. Everything in moderation is my motto.

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3.  Spend more time with family.

Family first.  This doesn’t take precedence as much as your friends in your early 20’s.  Finding yourself, and your place in your social life seem to be more important.  I mean, come on, there are SO many fun things to do.  Like… your 21st birthday, discovering every bar possible in your area (and other places), going to Vegas, parties, BBQ’s, organized sports, travel, and places to explore with friends.  Yes, everyone does at least some of these and your time gets sucked up by it all.  Oh and school and work, that happens too.  As the years drift by and we find our place outside of the college scene, we start to see our parents and grandparents getting older.  What a concept, I know.  But this is often difficult to truly see

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4.  Get a job… please.

If you haven’t gotten a job yet in your lifetime, please drop what you’re doing and go look for one immediately! This is a subject I could probably rant about for quite a long time. I started working when I was 15 years old and pretty much never stopped except while in high school. I worked during the summers, of course, and throughout college. By your 20’s, it would be not only in your best interest, but everyone else’s, for you to get a job. At this point in your life you should be weaning yourself off of your parents’ payroll. Being able to support yourself, and starting to take responsibility for your finances is an incredibly vital aspect of survival in this world.

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5.  Take every opportunity to travel.

Life gets crazy, and it gets crazy FAST! If there’s one thing that I wish I did when I was in college, it would be to spend time abroad. This is your chance to spend more time than you’ll (probably) ever be able to in the future, in a foreign country. Experience a new culture, meet new people, and explore the world!

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6.  Do things for you.
It is so easy to get caught up in doing things for other people – friends, family, whomever. This is the time to be adventurous! Not to mention, the time you’ll be the most resilient to anything. Friends may come and go, relationships come and go, but take the time to build YOU!

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7. Take risks (to some degree).
Try out a new sport. Join a club. Go on a weekend outdoors trip with the recreation department. Ask questions. Try new foods. Work in an environment you never thought you’d see yourself in. Try out for a team. Take a class because you’re curious. Study abroad. Ditch the car, and ride the bus. Eat by yourself. Live in a town that you’ve never lived in. Take a job out in a new location. Live in a foreign country. This is the time to try new things! Your resources are at your fingertips!

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8.  Relationships are fun.
This is your time to see what’s out there before settling down. We learn more about what we want and don’t want in a partner, and in ourselves as well. Meet as many people as possible, go on dates, put yourself out there, get to know someone, fall in love, and just have fun. I remember this time as a time when I was not only getting to really know who I was, but a time that I was figuring out what kind of partner I want. It was a total trial period and by no means was it glorious. I had my share of unhealthy relationships, ones that I didn’t see going anywhere or ones that I just didn’t fully connect with. I stayed with people that didn’t treat me right, and/or I didn’t treat them right. Learning about confrontation in an honest, graceful manner was difficult – especially in matters that I had never brought to the table. It is always uncomfortable.

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9.  Prioritize.
The easiest thing to do is to do is lose track of yourself and your priorities because there is just SO much going on all the time. That BBQ on the beach with your sounds like so much more fun than great aunt Sally’s birthday. And you’ve got to keep up with the styles – besides, the money in my savings account isn’t going anywhere! Bring it back to your purpose and what you want for your future. Are you doing what it takes to reach your goals and setting yourself up for a good future?

Overall, your 20’s are a time of growth. As people say, you ‘find yourself’. I would have to say that it is 100% true. Have fun, take care of your body and mind, explore the world, and learn from everything!


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Food for Thought…


Someone posted this and I just had to repost it! Think about it, do you love what you do? Are you someone that is passionate about your job or career? We spend so much of our waking lives at work. So make it something that you love.

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Ten Wedding Vows Based on Relationship Science


Ten Wedding Vows Based on Relationship Science

Samantha Joel Headshot  Ph.D. Candidate, University of Toronto

I study romantic relationships. I’m also engaged. So, of course, I’ve given a tremendous amount of thought as to what it really means for my partner and I to marry one another. Researchers have found that weddings are deeply significant life events, but we don’t really know why they’re so meaningful. Marriage may simply be about celebrating a milestone: recognizing the relationship that a couple has built together and the love that they share for each other. But weddings are also very future-oriented, as the couple publicly promises to maintain their relationship for life. I suspect that it’s really these vows — the solemn promises that the newlyweds make to each other in front of their closest friends and family — that are at the crux of why weddings have such an emotional impact.

No pressure. As my partner and I sat down to think about our own vows, clearly we had a lot to consider. If these promises are the essence of what it means to be married, then what exactly do we want to promise each other? We could always go with the traditional marriage vows: for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better for worse… but, these seemed a bit too vague for our tastes. We decided that we wanted to make more specific, behavioural promises: things we can strive to do for each other that would help us to not only remain together, but also happy and fulfilled in our marriage.

Conveniently, I had decades of research at my fingertips to help us figure out what it really means to be a good spouse. Why not harness those resources for our wedding? In other words — and this may sound completely over-the-top nerdy to some — we decided to write some research-based vows.

Below are the ten promises that we’ve decided to make to each other. We believe that each of these promises is going to help us to achieve long-term marital bliss. Here’s why:

1. “I promise to respect, admire, and appreciate you for who you are, as well as for the person you wish to become.”

Research on positive illusions shows that it’s helpful to see romantic partners in a positive light — to appreciate their positive qualities rather than ruminating about their flaws. Not only does this sunny outlook lead to better relationship satisfaction, but positive illusions help partners to feel better about themselves.1 So, in the first part of this vow, we’re promising to always see the best in each other.

In the second part of this vow, my partner and I are promising to support each other’s attempts to grow and improve ourselves over time. This is called theMichelangelo phenomenon, and research shows that supporting your partner’s changes to their self in this way is very beneficial both for the partner and for the relationship.2 Importantly, I’m not promising to help my partner improve in the wayI want him to improve, but in the way he wants to improve himself, and vice versa. It’s all about supporting the partner’s own personal goals.

2. “I promise to support and protect your freedom; because although our lives are intertwined, your choices are still yours alone.”

This vow draws from research on autonomy. Although humans are social creatures who both need and enjoy relationships, it’s also important for us to maintain our individuality. In particular, we need to feel like the decisions we’re making are truly coming from us. When people feel forced or coerced into making choices — like they didn’t have any real choice in the matter — they’re less happy and less fulfilled. And, as you might have guessed, that lack of happiness is problematic for relationships.3 In this vow, my partner and I are promising to avoid pressuring, guilting, or otherwise coercing each other into making decisions, striving instead to always respect each other’s right to make choices for ourselves.

3. “I promise to seek a deep understanding of your wishes, your desires, your fears and your dreams.”

This vow draws from research on responsiveness, which involves sensitively meeting your partner’s needs. Striving to meet each other’s needs is a cornerstone of healthy relationships.4 However, you can’t meet a partner’s needs if you don’t know what they are. Understanding one’s partner is the first step to being responsive, which is why we each promise to seek a deep understanding of one another.

4. “I promise to always strive to meet your needs; not out of obligation, but because it delights me to see you happy.”

Once we figure out what each other’s needs are, my partner and I promise that we will try our best to meet those needs. Of course, this can be easier said than done. Sometimes, giving your partner what they need involves difficult sacrifices on your part.

Research on sacrifice shows that it’s important not to make sacrifices for avoidance-based reasons, such as feeling as though you “should” be giving something to your partner. Both partners are better off when any sacrifices are made out of approach motives, such as genuinely wanting to make your partner happy.5 So, with this vow, my partner and I are promising each other that when we do sacrifice for each other, we’ll do it only with love and care, and not with reluctance or resentment. If and when we can’t make sacrifices for the right reasons, it’s probably better not to make the sacrifice at all.

5. “I promise to be there for you when you need me, whenever you need me.”

This vow is based on what it means to be a good attachment figure: the person in your life who you most strongly rely on for support. With this vow, we’re promising to reliably be there for each other when one of us is distressed: to be each other’s soft place to fall, or what researchers call a “safe haven”.6

6. I promise to nurture your goals and ambitions; to support you through misfortune and celebrate your triumphs.

This vow covers the other side of being a good attachment figure: being there for your partner when they’re not distressed. Basically, my partner and I both want to know that we can take risks, make mistakes, and come home to a supportive partner at the end of the day. Letting your partner go out and conquer their goals, knowing that you’re there in the background cheering them on, is called being a “secure base”.7

7. “I promise to keep our lives exciting, adventurous, and full of passion.”

Here, we draw from research on self-expansion theory, showing that couples are happier when they engage in new, interesting things together.8 Basically, we’re promising each other not to let our relationship fall into a rut.9 We’re going to keep courting each other, keep travelling and exploring together, and keep sharing novel and interesting experiences with each other for the rest of our lives.

8. “I promise to persevere when times get tough, knowing that any challenges we might face, we will conquer them together.”

This is the closest that our vows come to representing the traditional vows about being together “for better, for worse”; in other words, to stay committed to each other. Research shows that by having this committed outlook — where we intend to stay together through thick and thin — we should be better able to deal with any adversity that might come our way. This is because, when a couple sees themselves as a permanent partnership, their perspective on problems tends to shift from being about “me against you” to being about “us against the issue”. Researchers call this “transformation of motivation”: commitment helps people to stop treating conflicts as zero-sum, instead keeping the wellbeing of their partner and their relationship in mind.10 So, by acting like a team, we’ll be in a better position to face challenges together.

9. “I promise to treat you with compassion over fairness, because we are a team, now and for always.”

This vow draws from research on communal orientation. Being communally-oriented means that you contribute to your relationship based on what is needed and based on what you have to give.11 In other words, it’s about being a team player. With this vow, we’re promising not to “track and trade,” keeping careful tabs on each other to ensure that we’re each contributing to the relationship fairly and equally (“I did the dishes yesterday, so you should do them today”). Instead, we’re promising to always strive to contribute what we can, based on the needs of our partner (“You got home very late and had a stressful day — I’ll do the dishes tonight”). We trust that our respective efforts will more or less balance out in the long run. Communal strength, or this willingness to give to the relationship without much concern for what you’re receiving in return, is associated with a whole range of positive relationship outcomes.12

10. “I promise to show you, every day, that I know exactly how lucky I am to have you in my life.”

With this last vow, we draw from research on the emotion of gratitude.13 When people feel appreciative of their partners, they’re happier and more committed to their relationships. And when people express gratitude to their partners, their partners feel appreciated, that makes those partners feel happier, more committed, and more appreciative themselves. It’s all a wonderful cycle of goodness. So in this vow, my partner and I are promising to never take each other for granted, but rather to appreciate what we have and express that appreciation to each other often.

……

After the wedding, we’re planning on getting these engraved and hung up in our hallway, to remind ourselves regularly that we made these promises. Clearly, actually following them is the real challenge. But the effort we put into keeping them will undoubtedly make our relationship stronger.

And by the way, if anyone else likes the idea of having wedding vows that are based on research, feel free to use these. We’re happy to share!

This article was originally written for Science of Relationships: a website about the psychology of relationships that is written by active researchers and professors in the field.

 

See the article – Click HERE!