Personal- For Valentine’s Day-an Excerpt from the Articles Book


By  Jo Ann Wentzel

If you try to figure out why some people have successful marriages and others do not, you may come up with a lot of possibilities, but few sure -fired answers. The reason, however, is usually less complicated then most people suspect.

Good marriages have many things in common. Most are made up of two people who are not afraid to be individuals, but realize their strength lies in being a couple. Everyone is a better person when they can put other’s needs before their own. If they look at the thing that is best for the couple or family first, they will become much better partners.

Lots of people already know that mutual respect is an important element of a good relationship. Knowing is not enough if you cannot put that practice into reality. Respect is giving deference to another. Consideration for your partner’s feelings, ideas, beliefs, preferences, schedule etc. make for a much more sharing arrangement. It is vital to avoid making any important decisions by yourself when it effects the home, the family, or both members of the relationship.

An important trait of a good relationship is to keep a sense of humor surrounding most things. Do not take yourself too seriously. Make light of all matters that are not a life and death matter. See the funny side of all events and life in general.

Recognizing that we are all human, subject to error, and have personality frailties makes each person seem acceptable. When your husband snores, or you constantly burn supper, there needs to be an element of forgiving by the spouse. It is easy to be happy with those people who do nothing to annoy you. It is much harder to overlook the imperfections in your beloved. Most couples could name at least half a dozen traits in their mates that they wish they could change. If you have an irritating co-worker it is fairly easy to ignore their bad habits, why can we not do that with spouses? We often treat our marriage partners with less consideration than those people we barely know.

Being good friends is an immediate key to success in marriage. Before you love someone, it helps to like him or her. Marriage partners that are also friends give stability to the relationship. When you are also friends, it adds another level to your relationship. You will spend countless hours together so you should have some similar interests and enjoy each other’s company.

A spiritual base is helpful for strengthening marriages. It gives people the faith they need to work hard on such an important relationship. The answers as to how to make their married life better can be found in scripture.

It is never too early or late to put a bit of life in a marriage. Planning things together can bring a new- found excitement to your relationship whether it is the first baby’s nursery or where you will spend your retirement. Talking about upcoming trips or events adds a fun element to a sometimes, otherwise boring existence. What? You have no upcoming events or trips? First thing you need is to create some. A stagnant existence is not healthy for anyone. It breeds displeasure and bitterness. Even older folks need to have a life. Add excitement to any marriage by making an opportunity to celebrate something. You can even invent a holiday just for you two. Take advantage of all the holidays and events out there to participate in, decorate the house for them, and generally celebrate.

Don’t forget friends. At any stage of life, friends can be an added bonus. Forget the idea that they are his friends or your friends; attempt to make any friend one of both of yours. Friends can be a vital barometer of how well the rest of your life is going. If you navigate towards the wrong type of friends when things are bad, it may be an indication that you cannot talk to your mate like you wish. When your life is filled with supportive friends and you are active, usually the happy state you feel signifies a healthy point in your marriage.

Learn something new together; a hobby, a sport, or join ranks to fight for a cause. These moments of combined efforts will remind you why you loved each other to begin with.

Forget past harms that have been done to you. The idea of forgiveness is probably most important in families and with couples. If you cannot see anything but revenge upon your mate, you need to get counseling.

Don’t forget romance and sex in your marriage. This should be part of married life at any age. You may lose interest in some aspects, but when it is goes altogether so will the relationship. ‘Brides’ appreciate candlelight dinners at any age. Moonlight can still quicken the heart and roses or candy brought for special occasions, or even better for no reason at all. are among the best ways to say I love you.

Good marriages are made up of couples who have the ability to stick together, iron out differences, and negotiate. The couple can be empathic and see things from “their mate’s’ viewpoint.” Before any couple should ever consider ending their marriage, they should look at all the reasons to STAY TOGETHER. Only relationships where violence, degradation, lack of love, or serious addictions is present should be dissolved. Only after several sessions of counseling can any determination be made as to the nature of all the problems surrounding this union. Marriage and divorce are very serious propositions and should be considered with the utmost severity.

It is simple to have a good marriage if you just treat the person you swore to love with the respect and care you wish to receive yourself. Marriage must be between two people who love each other so much they cannot bear to be apart. Good marriages follow the Golden Rule. If you are ready to give unselfishly, love unconditionally, and put another’s need before your own; you are ready to succeed at marriage.


Personal-In Memory of a Foster Kid




 Not long ago, we began trying to find the many kids we fostered and worked with decades ago. The search is hard, we are in a different state than the one we fostered in most often. Kids have changed their names, married, been incarcerated, had a bankruptcy or been divorced a couple times. Some kids just do not wish to be found and for other unknown reasons they do not want to stay in touch with us or even speak with us. The challenge is to find them and get them to talk.

Recently, we found one of our more bizarre kids. He was a character with a unique personality. He did unexpected things. He said strange things. He dressed in a manner that was not what most would consider normal. He was his own person even then. He would never conform.

When we called, we were uncertain what kind of greeting we would get. We were foster parents and we had not always made decisions about the kid’s life that they liked. But, he seemed anxious to connect with us which made us happy. He wanted to speak with us and he wanted to share things with us, but he was a very ill young man. We found him in the hospital and he explained, the best he could, his condition. He could barely talk so we had trouble understanding him. We called him a few times including on his birthday. The staff made him a cake and came to celebrate with him. He was pretty much alone except for a friend he made of a Vietnam Veteran, seemed like a strange combination of personalities, but maybe we did not know the older man he had become.

It soon became apparent how sick he was when we found out the kidneys and liver were not functioning. He talked about a tremendous amount of weight from the water he held. He let us know they would soon try dialysis. He was not a candidate for a transplant, I assume because of his alcohol usage. It appeared he had abused it for years. When we had him in foster care and lived with us; he had other problems, more of a psychological nature.

Next time we called, he let us know that the dialysis did not work. It was then we saw how truly sick this young man was and knew what to expect. It was a couple weeks later when he passed away at the age of 42.

Even when you expect it, it is still a shock when someone so young passes away. This man had a rough life and his parents never cared about him. His Vietnam Veteran friend notified us. He said we were on the very short list to be notified at his death. His parents were not. His friend did of course notify them eventually.

You expect foster kids to leave and change homes, being out of your life for a long time. I did not see this kid since we fostered him over 25 years ago, but my husband did.

This young man was a lost soul but, he was a warm human being with a good heart. His life was not good any of the years we knew about. We tried to keep him safe in a loving environment. We tried to give him a sense of belonging I hope he felt. Relationships were hard for him, but he gave what he had to others to the best of his ability. We were terribly busy and never had enough time, according to our wishes, to devote solely to each kid.

Yes, we were just foster parents, we had him for a short time in the scheme of things, but for a while he belonged to our family. He was part of it and was treated fairly and as well as our natural kids. It somehow wasn’t enough. Not enough time. Not enough love. Not enough belief in himself to make a difference. But we cared. I will grieve for him for some time to come. I am sorry you had such a tough life. I’m sorry it ended too soon. You touched people and you had friends even when you thought you were alone. We cared.

I am so glad we found him before it was too late!