All posts by Kathy

Kathy Burrus is a marriage coach who offers an authentic, caring environment to help you and your spouse find your next step toward hope- green, life-giving hope!.

You would think by now!!!

Last week, I had one of those AHA moments.  Actually it was more like “DUH!” with a big smack on the forehead to go with it!  Ren & I have been married 33 years now.  We dated 5 years before that!  You would think by now,we would have figured out our relationship to the point that nothing ‘new’ would jump out at us.  But there it was, and I almost had to laugh!

I’m a life and relationship coach, right?  I ask a lot of questions by trade, but that’s been a part of who I am for most of my life. If you know me, you know that.  You can only imagine what it’s like to be married to me!  Ren is most often gracious when it comes to the barrage of questions that come flying at him at the end of a day.  He doesn’t always think to tell me things that I would be interested in knowing, so I’ve learned to ask.   And he’s learned to stop and think about the day so he can share it, rather than just blasting through it and on to the next.

The problem comes when my questions seem to hit a nerve.  I can’t help it if sometimes my questions are used by the Holy Spirit to prompt him to think about what God might be saying to him in the moment. (Yeah, I know, Ren didn’t fall for that either.)

Well, Ren’s really good at being a student of me.  He works hard to know who I am, what my love languages are and trying to think of me during the day.  He can tell when I answer the phone if I’m feeling strong or not.  No, he’s not perfect at it- but he does work hard.  He often asks me what I need from him!  I don’t always know, so I have to think about it.

The past couple of weeks have been very busy!  Ren’s been dealing with some changes at work and I’ve been focused on the LEISHA’S HOPE event.  So this past weekend, we were both feeling the need to reconnect with each other.  We both know that a good time of physical intimacy would take care of Rennie’s need, but…!  I was really struggling!

‘So what do you need from me? ”

“I…    I need…  I need you to…  I need you to ask me questions!”  That’s it!  That’s what you would think I would know by now!

I’m asking Rennie questions, because I love questions.   I’m loving Rennie like I need to be loved, but not in the way he needs to be loved.  I need Rennie to love me like I try to love him- by asking questions.  I need him to care about me enough to want to know not just what happened in my day, (which he often asks about) but, more importantly, how it affected me.   One of my love languages is quality time- but to be more specific, it’s quality conversations, which includes quality questions.  Of course, all that is assuming that quality listening is connected to that.

I often hear people say, “I never know what to ask!”  I understand. Some of us are just think that way.  But I didn’t start out being good at them.  I loved them, but I didn’t always know what to ask, and still don’t.  Often we just need a couple of things to get the conversation going, whether it is with our spouse, family member or even a complete stranger.  So I created a question prompter.  Click here for your own copy. I practice my questions ahead of time, so when the opportunity presents itself, I have some ready.  You can too!  Pick out a couple that you know will get things rolling.

So what was your favorite…?
(book, part of the movie, genre to listen to) That’s a great place to start.


How did you feel about … ?
Ren doesn’t like that one too much, but I love it!  You know your spouse- you’ll figure it out soon enough.

My favorite is:
What are you hearing God saying to you today?

So it may not seem like a huge deal to you!   But would your spouse love for you to ask them questions?  It seems we get so caught up with ‘just the facts’, and we never take the time to seek to understand what those facts are doing to us or to them!

How often do we try to love someone, only to feel like that love is rejected or at least not appreciated.  When in reality, we are loving as we long to be loved.  If they did to us what we are doing to them, we would be thrilled.  But they are not!

We’ll talk more about LOVE LANGUAGES in the future (cause I’m reading the book right now).  But in the mean time, how about planning some time each day to sit with your spouse and ask a question.  See what happens!  You might be surprised!

Ren was!Wink


What will they say about me when I dead?

How did you do with that last post?  Was it intimidating? It was for me too the first time I did this!  It actually was in high school, then again in college and several times in life since. Each time I’m challenged to consider who am I really investing in – and who do I really WANT to be investing in?

Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers and NY TIMES best selling author, says “This is an incredibly powerful question.  To answer it, you have to  ‘fast forward’ to the end of your life and look back.  The exercise forces you to think about the things and people that matter most.”

Mr. Hyatt selected 6 key audiences that mattered most to him:  God, spouse, children, parents, colleagues and friends.  You may have others.  He then simply answerd the question,

“How do I want them to remember me?”

For example, under “My spouse’ he said this:

By Gail:
I want Gail to remember how I loved her, understood her, and helped her accomplish her dreams.  I want her to remember specific times that we shared together-times we laughed, times we cried, times we spent discussing things that were important to both of us, and times we just held one another and watched the sunset.

When I wrote mine for Rennie, it was “I want Rennie to say that I truly KNOW him, deeply LOVE him and honestly Respect who he is!”  

But I also included “I want to be known, loved and cherished by him!  Why did I include that part?  Because he is always asking what I need from him, and instead of saying, ‘I don’t know!” I could tell him!  Now I sometimes have to work at identifying what he can do to show that to me- but that’s another post.

Other relationships that are important to me are:

  • God
  • spouse-Rennie,
  • children-Caitlin, Brielle & Leisha (she may be in heaven, but she still impacts my life)
  • Parents- they live far away, so that is especially important to me.
  • Family & Close Friends
  • GHC Community

One way to consider who yours are is to identify the roles you play and what relationships you care about most in each role. You might have different groups, but it’s important to realize that you will really only be effective if you have less than 7.  Any more than that and you probably aren’t being effective anywhere!

Who will the people be that care about you enough to come to your funeral?
What will they say about you when you are dead?

It’s worth considering now!

So…you got a plan?

Most couples, well actually, most people are ‘passive spectators’ of life. They may even be very busy people, urgently trying to get things done. They may plan for their careers, or the new house, or that great vacation. Yet they never even think of spending that kind of time and energy to plan their life. So naturally, they probably aren’t doing the planning work on their marriage either.

I know! I’ve been there! We’ve been there! Somehow we get so busy planning pieces of our life that we don’t take time to look at the whole of life. And where we want to be in the long haul.

But I have had the opportunity to stop and look at the big picture of my life during the past few weeks. I’m not ‘done’ with it- but already we are both seeing some significant outcomes in some major areas. The changes haven’t been easy, but I think Ren and I both would say, it is ‘transformational’!

For instance, one thought that has really challenged me came from Linda Dillow, in her book, What’s It Like to Be Married to Me?

In your mind’s eye, visualize yourself going to a funeral of a loved one.  Picture yourself driving to the church, parking the car, and getting out.  As you enter the sanctuary, you hear your favorite song being played, you see the faces of friends and family and feel the sorrow of loss and the joy of having known that is so evident on their faces.  As you walk to the front of the church, you come face-to-face with—you!  With disbelief, you realize that this is your funeral- 30 years from today.  The people gathered together are here to express their love and appreciation for your life.  

Numb with shock, you are led to a seat and handed a program. You open it up and see that there are to be 3 speakers.  

Now think long and hard!

  • Who would those 3 speakers be in your life?
  • What would you like them to say about you?
  • What character qualities would you like them to have seen in you?
  • What kind of relationship would you want him/her to describe?
If one of those speakers is your spouse,
  • what do you want your husband/wife to say about you after many years of marriage?
  • What kind of love relationship would you want him to describe?
  • What kind of love would you have wanted him to have received from you during all these years?

If you really take time to think about this, you will discover who and what is really important to you; and what your deepest values are.   To begin with the end in view helps you align your values with your choices- and that begins transformation.  You begin living in the context of what is most important to you!

So…what is it?  What do you want to be about?  What do you want to be true of you?

You got a plan?

(We’ll talk more about that in the next post!  I’m sure you’ve had so much fun doing this exercise, you’ll want to know more!  Ok!  So I know it’s work!  But you are worth it!  And so is your marriage! See you soon!)


Does this look familiar

I’ve recently ran across this commercial that is being aired on ME TV (Memorable Entertainment) featuring Jackie Gleason and his wife on The HoneyMooners! I got tickled seeing it again, thought maybe you would too!

So if your relationship had a song for it, what would your song sound like?

Why don’t you give us the title for it below?  Or perhaps you need help writing a new song?  Then sign up for your complimentary 30 min strategy session.  Let’s see what your song as a couple could sound like!  It has the potential for greatness!

Don’t forget to let me know the title of your song as a couple.

Remember, Your great marriage starts with YOU!

“Whatever you do in bed, we support it!”

It started some interesting conversation at our house. No, it wasn’t the first time we had seen the Sealy© commercials (in case you haven’t seen them two of our favorites are AfterGlow Commercial  or Mattress Apartment commercial ) But this particular evening, we were both in rare form.

You see, Sealy’s tagline is ‘whatever you do in bed, we support it’!

I bet you can begin to imagine some of the places we went with that. But it got me thinking. The commercials make things look so … positive! But I know for a fact that it isn’t always.

For one thing, so often our bedrooms serve multi-purposes. They become part office with books and computer finding space to land, or laundry room where folding needs to be done, or the catch all room for those things that need to be put away but haven’t yet. Hmmm?

For another thing, just because two people marry doesn’t mean their bodies are on the same clock as far as when they need to go to bed, or how long they need to sleep. That often brings up issues having to do with ‘the bed.’

And that’s not even mentioning all the other things that can distract us –

  • One mate likes a little light on in the room- the other likes it dark
  • One prefers to fall asleep with the tv on- the other likes quiet– and dark
  • One has BRILLIANT ideas as she lays down in bed that she really must write down before she forgets
  • The other is asleep almost before he closes his eyes.
  • One wants to cuddle up as they fall asleep, the other just wants some space to spread out

All that brings up the issues that get discussed such as:

  • Tomorrow’s schedules
  • Today’s finances
  • The kids and their concerns
  • The in-laws and their concerns
  • The fact that he doesn’t take out the trash
  • The fact that she didn’t even act interested when he came home from working all day
  • The way that he tries to ‘get playful’ all of the sudden
  • The way she avoids his obvious intentions for sex

…You get what I mean!

What we do in bed isn’t always the romantic version Sealy supports. One quote I read the other day said, “For I’ve been born and I’ve been wed. All of man’s peril comes of bed.” Isn’t that the truth? We have a little spat that turns into a bigger deal at bed time. We have a bad day and take it out on the spouse and it is especially evident at bed time.

Sometimes it’s two people on opposite sides of the bed with their backs to each other and their hearts hardened to one another. They aren’t talking, but honey let me tell you- their silence is speaking volumes.

Sometimes it’s two people completely worn out and not connecting at all- all day- not to mention all night.

Sometimes it lasts for more than a night- or a week- or months.

Hmmm? So here’s my question?
Do you support everything that goes on in your bed?
…or even in your bedroom?

Think about that for a while!

  • If you answer yes- check with your spouse and see if they feel the same way.
    Are you willing to really listen to what they might have to share with you.
  • If you answer no- what are you willing to do about it?

Either way, check back here- cause I’m hear to tell you there is hope! But we’ll talk about that next time.

Always remember- Your great marriage starts with YOU!

Getting out of ‘the way’!

So in my last post I asked you to consider the question, “What can I do to have a great marriage?”

In essence, how can you  BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE?

Before we look at some specifics about what you can do, it is important to consider the response you may get from your spouse.  You see, it’s entirely possible that the more you work to make your marriage great, the more resistance you may encounter from your spouse!

Why?  Well think about it?  You came into this discussion with your own list of reasons why you have a ‘not so great’ marriage.  You also, as we discussed in the last post, likely came into it with the question, “What can I do to get my spouse to change?”  Your spouse probably has their own list and is asking the question- about you!  Or it’s entirely possible that they have emotionally ‘checked-out’ of the marriage and they don’t care that you are working to make the marriage better.  They are not interested in making any effort to that end themselves.

So what can you do about it?

Well for one thing, realize that you are both probably grieving the dreams you had for this relationship?  Even if it is a ‘good’ marriage, it hasn’t been as wonderful you had envisioned on your wedding day.  It is more work that you had anticipated.  Now you are looking at this marriage and wondering if it can ever be more than it is right now.  And if it can become more- what will have to CHANGE!

Ah, there it is! There is that word…CHANGE. You know, most of us are hard wired to be resistant to  change. Change can be a kind of loss. We want to be sure that any changes that are made will really make something better and be worth the effort. We have to have clear definitions and structures to give some certainty to making a change? Why mess up a perfectly ‘not working, but currently comfortable’ thing in the hopes of getting something just a little better?   How do we even know if it will be a GREAT thing?

Someone once said, “Until the pain of remaining the same hurts more than the pain of change, people will choose to remain the same.”  What makes change (even good change) so scary? What can we do to combat our fear of change and break free from unhealthy but comfortable patterns in our circumstances and relationships?

You obviously are at a point of willingness to face the pain of change required to make things different for your marriage. You are still reading this post.  But is your spouse there?  What is worse than having to face scary change that you choose to face?  It’s having to face change that is IMPOSED on you.

Think about it. It is hard enough to deal with change that WE INITIATE. But when we feel forced or manipulated to change, then we resist with all our might. You’ve probably already learned that the more you nudge them, urge them, push them, ask, beg or scream at them to do something, the less likely they are to do it.  Your spouse may not be willing to change for the sake of your marriage right now, but that’s not because your spouse doesn’t want a great marriage. We all want a great marriage. It’s because if they’re going to change, they want the changes they make to be THEIR CHOICE!

Sure it is hard to do that! But what happens when you make a change because you have felt pressured to do it? You might make the change for a while, but eventually you go back to the old ways of doing things.  Why?  Because you  tried to do something to make someone else happy.  But you didn’t make the decision to change for yourself. Making changes because you feel manipulated seldom works.

If you want to see change that is truly empowering in your marriage, you have to do what you can do on your end, and give them the freedom to make their own choice toward change.

Now another thing to be aware of is that it is possible that you will NOT be the person to inspire your mate to make that change. You know it’s true.  A complete stranger is more likely to get through to your spouse than you are. A chance experience or encounter is more likely to shake up your spouse than anything YOU could say.

Remember that time when you had finally given up trying to get your spouse to do that “thing” that you thought was so important. And then, one evening they come home and share with you a conversation they had with their lunch buddy or a coworker that lead them to do the exact thing that you had been harping on them about before. It happens so often.  You have done it to them as well.

So, I hear you asking, is there anything I can do then?

Absolutely! How about making the changes you can that help to create a more positive energy in your relationship? That will probably include

  • ‘backing off’ of the issues that have caused such dissention and giving your mate the space to make his/her own choice.
  •  recognizing that you may be ‘getting in the way’ of the very change you long for.  Step back, create space for your spouse to CHOOSE to change! That’s the only way it will happen.
  • letting your spouse see by your example how the choices you are making impact how you feel about yourself and your marriage.

Don’t think for a minute that your marriage won’t get better until your spouse ‘gets with the program.” The choices YOU are making speak volumes about what is important to you.  When you make choices that communicate how important your spouse is to you, maybe they will begin to believe you.  But more importantly, you will begin to feel your love grow for your spouse.  Your choice to let your mate choose  has great potential and power- even for you.

So, bottom line, “You must be the change you wish to see.” It’s YOU changing that will have the greatest influence on YOUR EXPERIENCE of your marriage AND it’s YOU changing that will be  the single most important thing you can do to motivate your spouse to change.

Remember, YOUR GREAT MARRIAGE Starts with YOU!

Your Great Marriage Starts with You!

So many times, I get asked the question, “I want a better marriage, so what should I do…

… to get him to engage with me?”
…to get her to be interested in things I’m interested in?”

It’s a great question — to a point.   I’m guessing that the majority of us would agree that we, too, want a better marriage.  The rest of us are either in a really good place in our relationship,  in denial, or have already checked out and don’t care.

We all long to have a good marriage.  Why would we go through courtship and plan a wedding and move in together combining lives and direction, if  we didn’t think it would be good- and good for us?  So that’s a given.

The problem with the question isn’t “I want a better marriage”.  The problem comes in the rest of it.  So often we want something to change and our first thought is “what I can do to get him/her to do it?”  That’s a problem!  You see, we have very little control over what our spouse does or doesn’t do.  Oh sure, we can speak into that or we can make requests, or even nag and make it really miserable if they don’t do what we want.  But we can’t MAKE them do anything with a heart that says love to you.  That is something only they can do, only they can work on.

The question really is ‘I want a better marriage, so what can I do?”

OUCH!  I hear you say, “That’s not what I wanted to hear.”  But isn’t that really all you can control.  You have the power to make some significant changes in your marriage  by looking at your own motives, behaviors and responses.  No, it doesn’t mean that if you do all this, it will guarantee your marriage will be GREAT.  It does take two to make it great.


The questions then become:

  • What can I do to make my marriage better?
  • What role do I play in whether it’s good or not?
  • What am I doing, or not doing that could make him/her want to respond to me in a great way?

I didn’t say it was easy.  I didn’t say it was a quick fix.  But I promise, you will be amazed at what you see happen when you quit focusing on what ‘they’ are doing and start focusing on yourself.  The outcome can blow you away.

That’s what GREEN HOPE COACHING wants to help you do-  Be amazed at your GREAT MARRIAGE!


  • we can give you information.  That can be really helpful, but do little to change anything in your marriage,  Unless you are willing to take that information and translate it into your way of living it out.
  • we can ask you questions.  That can be really insightful, but only if you answer honestly and listen to & learn from your own answers.
  • we can build you platforms to practice.  That can be really empowering, but only if you do the work of continuing to apply what you learn.

I know you have a lot of issues with your spouse.  Some of that just comes with being two different individuals trying to make one marriage work.  Some of it is because having lived together, you know how to set each other off. And sometimes we do that on purpose to protect ourselves.  Not to mention, lot’s of other issues  that come up.   Many of those things will probably need to be addressed sooner than later.  So you probably feel like I’m picking on you a little bit.

But what if YOU can be sure YOU have done all YOU can do on YOUR end?  Hey, you are the one that has listened to the end of this message. ( read to the bottom of this newsletter.)  You are the one that sees the problem.  I always told my kids, “If God gives you the eyes to see something that needs done, it’s probably because He has given you the potential to do something about it.”

You see it!   YOU have a lot of potential. You have the power to influence  your marriage to be GREAT!

So …how about it?  Are you in?

Good deal!  I’ll be seeing more of you then!  Over the next year GHC will be focusing on “What can I do to make my marriage great?”  You will want to get in on some of the great training and coaching opportunities, as well as, the events planned just for you and your sweetheart to enjoy and be inspired together.


It merely gives you the right to try!

I recently ran across a letter that Ann Landers received from a reader that went like this:

Dear Ann Landers:

Why would any husband adore a lazy, messy, addlebrained wife? Her house looks as if they’d moved in yesterday. She never cooks a meal. Everything is in cans or frozen. Her kids eat sent-in food. Yet this slob’s husband treats her like a Dresden doll. He calls her “Poopsie” and “Pet,” and covers the telephone with a blanket when he goes to work so she can get her rest. On weekends he does the laundry and the marketing.

I get up at 6 a.m. and fix my husband’s breakfast. I make his shirts because the ones in the stores “don’t fit right.” If my husband ever emptied a wastebasket, I’d faint. Once when I phoned him at work and asked him to pick up a loaf of bread on his way home, he swore at me for five minutes. The more you do for a man, the less he appreciates you. I feel like an unpaid housekeeper, not a wife. What goes on anyway?

—The Moose (That’s what he calls me.)

Ann’s response is classic. She responded:

A marriage license is not a guarantee that the marriage is going to work, any more than a fishing license assures that you’ll catch fish. It merely gives you the legal right to try.

She’s got a point!  So how are you doing?  Add a comment below to let me know what you think.