Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From Essence: The Obamas’ Relationship Stimulus Plan: Their 7 Secrets for a Rock-Solid Partnership

I LOVE to hear of positive relationships, so I thought I'd share...

"I find President and Mrs. Obama to be so much more relatable than any previous White House occupants. And it's not just their brown skin. Two kids. Two careers. PB&J in the pantry and playthings in the yard. They seem a lot like my husband and me. And as they approach 17 years of marriage, they always appear so loving toward each other. When I see reports of them having date night at the theater or in an intimate bistro, I'm frequently reminded that it's the little things, done consistently, that make love last. Barack and Michelle demonstrate that brand of authentic commitment we see often in our communities but so rarely in the media. As I look forward to celebrating seven years with my sweetie next month, I thought I'd share (and remember to take to heart) seven keys to Love, Obama Style.

1. Insist on couple time. For parents, that means not letting the time and energy you spend nourishing your kids result in you starving your marriage. The First Couple's weekend in Paris this spring is a great example of getting the balance just right. While sightseeing on the river Seine and at Notre Dame was a family affair, mom and dad enjoyed an intimate dinner alone at a cozy restaurant later.

2. Keep your promises, no matter what. "I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished," the President told reporters at the airport on the way to another much-publicized night on the town. By the time he was able to make good on the promise, pulling it off was no longer as simple as ordering a couple of tickets. Two helicopters, a small Air Force jet, barricades to keep the paparazzi at bay and security screenings at both the restaurant and the theater were required to make the evening a success. Given all the fuss, he could have easily begged off. But he decided to stay true to his boo.

3. Praise each other in public, share constructive feedback in private. Playful quips about dirty socks aside, Mrs. Obama has frequently shared that she fell in love with her husband's authenticity, truth and principles. The President speaks adoringly of his better half, calling her "the love of my life" in his victory speech, "good looking" at the Inaugural and even "a better dancer" on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

4. Touch each other, often. She holds his hand. He places one on the small of her back while walking. These little wordless ways of saying "you matter to me" can create a bond stronger than that Mighty Mendit Super Glue sold on infomercials.

5. Share and support your spouse's dreams without losing sight of your own. You say you want to be the first Black man in the White House? How many wives would have said "Um, good luck with that!" Our partners face the world with a "Yes we can" attitude when we show them our unflinching belief in their goals and abilities. But don't look to Mrs. Obama to support the status quo as a cookie-cutter consort. She's redefining the role of First Lady in a way that stays true to her own ideals and passions.

6. Read and respect one another's signals. When things are tense, you may not feel like talking. Picking up on nonverbal cues is key. During the campaign, a Ladies Home Journal reporter asked Michelle "How can you tell when your husband is really stressed?" "When he is writing small notes late at night. When he's really brooding," Mrs. O. said. "That's when I know [to ask], ‘What happened? What's going on?'"

7) Laugh—and pray!—together often. The Obamas share giggles and gaffaws on a regular basis. They also share God. I'm glad to know that after months of church shopping in their new city, they've found, in a chapel at Camp David, a new place to call their spiritual home."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekly Savings Tip: July 20, 2009

Get a Jump on Your Holiday Budget

While it is still summer outside, the end of the year holiday season isn’t far away for your budget. Planning now will help you manage your spending in a few more months.

• Set aside $10 a week now and you will have saved $200 by early December. That’s a small amount to pull from your wallet each week but can equal gifts for many friends and family members down the road. You will also avoid interest charges by
saving and using cash.

• Look for sales now for items you think your friends and family might like. Winter clothing, or other gifts that will still be appropriate in a few months, might be on sale this time of year. Get a jump on all the other holiday shoppers who won’t be thinking about gifts for months.

• Consider homemade gifts. Starting now will give you plenty of time to finish well before the holidays. Knit sweaters, make candles, create stationery out of photographs you take or make jam out of fresh, summer fruit. Homemade gifts are always appreciated and there are many ideas and suggestions online that are far more upscale than the macaroni necklace you made for your mother in preschool.

Remember: budgeting and planning ahead for your holiday gift giving can save you money. Decide how much you are able to spend and how many gifts you need to buy before doing your shopping. And, as always, make sure you are buying a sale item that is actually worth the listed price and not just because it is on sale.

Visit www.FeedthePig.org for more money-saving tips.