Look the other way.

October 25, 2009

Focus is a very powerful thing. What we look at, what we are focused on makes a huge difference on what will be in our future. Both literally and figuratively. When we are in marriages that are troubled, marriages that are filled with strife, it is easy to focus on the problems rather than the solutions. But we have the ability to change that. To change our focus.

There is a Maori Proverb, a native Polynesian population of New Zealand, that says, “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” That directly speaks to how we can begin to change our own situations. If we will just begin to focus on the things that are good in our marriages, the things that really do work, we can use these as a foundation to build upon.

I know that even in my own marriage, I could easily begin to focus on the problems. I could get lost in the things I want Janine to do different. Do better. And sometimes I do. But when that happens, most of the time, I am aware of it, and that doing this has caused me problems in my past, and I don’t want to do that again.

Do your best to focus on the positive. Do your best to identify the things your wife does well. The things she does that helps and supports you and your family. When you are directly focused on those, they will be your sun, and the shadows of the things that are hurtful or detrimental will be behind you away from your constant view.

Don’t give up

October 24, 2009

I would never want to pretend or deceive any of you men who are in marriages that are very difficult by telling you that if you do all the things I have talked about here, then everything will be perfect in your marriage. That is just untrue. Difficult marriages are difficult because of the two people in them together. But the truth is that one is often more culpable for the strife than the other. Although some have said that it takes two to tango, even in dancing there is often one of the two dancers that are better or worse than the other.

That being said, no broken or hurting marriage would not be somehow improved when one of the parties decides to make a positive difference.  When one party makes a commitment to love completely, to appreciate the other for the good they do, to forgive the past errors and move the relationship in a new direction.

When you make a commitment to do these things there will be days that you want to give up. There will be days that you feel completely defeated. There will be days where you can’t help but think that you are wasting your time and it isn’t helping anything. On those days you just have to dig deeper.

I don’t know why I can’t seem to see Ben Stein saying this but I know he did and it so apropos to today’s message. He said, “The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated…it is finished when it surrenders.” That truly is the whole of it.

It is so important to love your wife completely. It is so important to encourage her daily. It is so important to appreciate everything she does for you and your family. But none of those will matter if you don’t make the decision right now to see it through till the end. The most important thing you can do to change the future of your marriage and family is to first decide to never give up.

The difference between men and women

October 14, 2009

I know that it is politically incorrect to say that men and women are different. Just by saying so, a man is deemed to mean that they are unequal and furthermore that men are better. That is not the truth. The truth is we are just different.

I don’t know who said it but I always loved the saying, “When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country.” As much as I often use hyperbole to make my points, and as much as this is hyperbole at it finest, it is nonetheless very poignant and to the point of our differences.

We must always be aware that as men, we react differently to situations than women. When things are difficult at home, we can tend to be more offensive. We even tend to be more aggressive. When things are difficult at work, we often bring that struggle or difficulty home with us and give it to our family in the way of anger or being standoffish.

It is in these situations that we have one of the best opportunities to bring a change to our marriage. We can choose to deal with strife in our relationship by being more considerate. By being more patient. By being more compassionate. In doing so, we will minimize the fallout of these situations. We will limit the effects to just the issue at hand rather than turning a single issue into two or more conflicts that need to be dealt with.

When you face an argument or a disagreement with your wife, deal only with the issue before you. Deal with it calmly and kindly. Don’t bring up past issues. Don’t invade another country, as it were, for the sake of issue dodging or defensiveness. By being a better man, a man who is safe and stable, you will give your wife a sense of security. You will give her an opportunity to be her best as well. You will both be at your best. Still different, but still your best.

The little things

October 11, 2009

It is so easy to overlook all the great things we have in our life. All the great things that we have in our marriage. All the great things we have in our wife. They are often the little things that go unnoticed.

When we fail to see the little things that bring us joy and happiness,  we put ourselves at risk of losing them forever. Robert Brault reminds us, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” How important is that to us in our marriage? How many people have suffered through the pain of divorce to only realize they failed to see and appreciate all the great things they had in their marriage?

We often take so much for granted in our wives that we fail to see what our lives would be like without them. We are so focused on what they do wrong, or what they don’t do for us, that we miss all the things the do right, and all the things they do.

How aware are you of what your wife does for you? Does your wife go to work everyday just like you and help provide for your family? Does your wife buy you clothes? Does your wife do most of the cooking? Does your wife do most of the cleaning? Does your wife do most of the work in taking care of the kids needs everyday?

If you are focused on what you are unhappy with in your wife, you will fail to see the lengthy list of things that she does everyday to support you. To care for you. To meet your needs. Don’t be that guy.

Make a list of all the things your wife does everyday, every week, every month, and every year for you and your family. When you are feeling that she isn’t meeting all your needs, take the list out and look at it. Then go up to her and thank her for everything she does do. You will quickly find yourself being thankful for the little things instead of complaining about the others. And with your thankfulness you will find you will keep your wife, your marriage and all the little things that make them great.

Constructive Criticism

October 10, 2009

Constructive Criticism. I have found that these two words are responsible for more damage between husband and wife than possible any other two words ever spoken. I am sure that there are other examples of what are supposed to be helpful hints, misused, but I can’t think of any that have caused more damage and broken more spirits.

I think it is because it is so easy to be critical. It is so easy to point out in others what we think they are doing wrong. What we think they should do differently. It is so much easier than living by example. Living in the way we think everyone should live but we fail at just as often.

Why do we think that our wives are not trying just as hard as we are? Why do we think that we have all the answers? Why do we think that we do it all right and our wives need us to come along and point out everything they are doing wrong?

I don’t know why we do any of these things but I do know for sure that we would be well served to do it a lot less. As husbands, we have to be as loving as possible with our wives. We have to encourage them with our words. Not break them down. Not make them feel stupid. Not damage their spirits. We have to recognize that whether they admit it or not, they depend on us to build them up. They depend on us to affirm them.

When your wife feels loved, she will respond with love back to you and your family. She will have confidence that she cannot get from herself alone. She will be strengthened to do more as your wife and as a mother to your children.

There will be plenty of opportunities to discuss things you both would want to different and better. Do these when you are alone. Even better, do these things through example before any discussion.

Take the time to encourage your wife everyday in the things she does well. Compliment her rather than critique her. Tell others about the great things your wife does and make sure she  hears your compliments and accolades. Your praise will do more to influence your wife than any “constructive criticism” you might say.

I know they’re broken

October 9, 2009

From some of the comments I have received, it seems that it has been perceived in my writing that I don’t think that women cause as much strife in a marriage as men do, or that I think they are blameless, or are somehow perfect. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am crystal clear that women cause damage in relationships just like men do.

And with the knowledge of my wife’s imperfection, I choose to love her anyway. Just like she does me. One of the best quotes I have ever heard about accepting people with all their faults was coined by Bernard Meltzer. He said, “A true friend is someone who thinks you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”

That is the essence of any good relationship. That is the only way to have a good marriage. Acknowledge that you both are broken. That you both have flaws. That you both are imperfect. Then choose to love your wife even with her imperfections.

Over time, after years of strife and struggles in a marriage, it is easy to only see the problems or cracks as it were. But that is only a result of exhaustion and frustration. That is not all that is left in your marriage. It has just become the focus of the marriage for too many people.

Also, sometimes our perspective has just gotten a little out of focus. Sometimes things that are small and insignificant at first, will somehow become big and monumental. Sometimes the crack on the egg is perceived to be more like a crevice to wide to cross. But if you could remove yourself from the heat of the fire, you might not even think many things are worth all the consternation. I know that for me, it is in some of those less than perfect ways of my wife, that I find her most attractive. It is her idiosyncrasies, that make me laugh and that I can count on.

Make a point of acknowledging the fact that your wife is less than perfect. (Not out loud. Keep that one to yourself.) Than make a decision to look at her for all she is. Not just seeing the cracks in her shell. Once you get your perspective right, you might find that she is a lot closer to having been made over easy, rather than the scrambled you thought you were seeing.

To be desired

October 5, 2009

Although this post will tell you more about what women need and want from us as it closes, it gets there by looking at what men want as well. As much as we men want to be strong, confident, and self-sufficient, the truth is we want to be desired. We want to be needed. We want to be loved. We may not admit it to anyone or even be willing to admit it to ourselves, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is true.

Robert Frost said, “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” It is true for all of us. Not just women as many of us would like to think.

Knowing this is true allows us to make ourselves more desirable. Sure, we already know the things the world tells us we can do to become more desirable. We can lose weight. We can exercise. We can work out. We can buy fancy clothes and drive fancy cars. But these things only make us desirable to those who don’t know us.

It is who we truly and authentically are that can have the most dramatic impact on our desirability to our wives. It is how we love. It is how treat others. It is how we handle our money. It is how we act when few or none can see us.

Our wives are witnesses everyday to the men we are, or unfortunately the men we are not. They see everything about us, or see that we have things we are hiding from the world, or worse, from them.

But there is hope for all of us to become more desirable.  We can change our actions if we know what our wives desire. We can shape ourselves into that which they most crave. Fortunately, most women want many of the same things. They want a man that can listen without having to fix everything. They want a man that will be affectionate. They want a man that will be patient. They want a man that will stand up for his wife. They want a man that will be a great father. They want a man that will forgive easily. They want a man that will admit to a mistake and say he is sorry. They want a man that will be considerate of her thoughts and feelings.

None of the things they want will cost you a dime. They will only cost you your time, your effort, your commitment. And in return, you will gain what it is that you truly desired all along. To be desired.

Chocolate. Now that’s love.

September 30, 2009

I don’t know anyone that would argue the point that love is being loyal. Or that love is being honest. Or that love is being committed and faithful. But sometimes all our wives need is a thoughtful box of chocolates to reaffirm how much they mean to us.

Charles M. Schulz opined a great truth about love saying, “All we need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” I think it might have been better said as, “All we need is love. And a little chocolate now and then proves that we do.”

It seems so easy for me to write about deep and thought provoking ideas when describing ways to love your wife. But I never want to diminish or overlook that there are so many ways to say “I love you” that don’t even require great pondering or planing. It is not in the depth of our thoughts that we show our love but in the fact that we are thinking of our wives in any way.

Love is not complicated. But loving our wives becomes complicated when there are years of hurt, years of pain, years of strife that cover our ability to see clearly. To see that the woman we share our home with today, the woman that we share our bed with today, the woman that we argued with today, is in fact the same woman that we fell in love with and married. Over time, we begin to believe that this woman is not a person at all but more a personification of the problems in our life. A personification of the painful words she might have said or things she might have done.

Starting today, set down the past hurts. Remember what you loved about her when your relationship started and grew. Make a list of all the things that you once admired and adored in your wife. Focus on that list and be thankful for your wife and those qualities in her. Look for those again in her. Then go and buy her a box of chocolates and tell her you love her.

Are you one of the lucky ones?

September 26, 2009

Why do people say that you are lucky if you married a good wife? I don’t think luck has much to do with it. I am not even convinced that you have to marry a great woman to have a great wife. That takes too much of the responsibility off our own shoulders for what we do as husbands.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” I love this quote because it gives me hope. Yes it puts the responsibility on me for the future of my marriage but I would much rather have the option of effecting my marriage in a positive way than have to rely on luck. To believe that luck is my hope, is to believe that I cannot change anything in my future.

Believe me when I tell you, I know that I do not have the ability to control every outcome. As I think I might have said in a previous post, I know there is a God, and I know that I am not Him. I know that God created the amazing world we live in. I know that God created me and the amazing woman that Janine is. But knowing that does not change that everyday I have to choose to be a good man. Everyday I have to do the work to make my marriage great.

Knowing that my actions, my efforts, my commitment to my wife can have the effect of building a great marriage and that encouraging my wife to be great, can change the woman that she is, is enough for me to want to do the work.

Don’t spend another day thinking that you were lucky or unlucky. And definitely don’t look at your friends and think that they were somehow more lucky than you with their wives. Never take your eyes off your own wife and never look at someone’s else wife for comparison. Look at what you do everyday to make your marriage great. Look at what you do to make your wife feel loved. Look at what you do to make your wife see that you are thankful for her and that she chose you.

If you will accept that your actions do have an effect on everyone around you, and that it is your responsibility to effect your marriage positively everyday, than you will see the effects in your wife, your home, your kids and everyone else in your life.

Wait On Her. She’s Worth It.

September 2, 2009

When I was a younger man I used to stress out so much when my wife was running late. As I think I mentioned, I was married once before for almost twenty years. During that time, we were late hundreds of times, to dinner engagements, to weddings, to family events, to just about everything. I was a stress case every time. I began worrying hours before we were to be anywhere together. I began plotting ways to facilitate an on time arrival. I dropped hints. I checked on her progress. I very inconspicuously mentioned the time, which was not so inconspicuous. By twenty minutes before we were supposed to leave anywhere, I had managed to add to my stress by stressing her out as well. It never helped. Not one time. It only proceeded to ruin whatever time we spent at every event we may have been attending.

Today, I really try not to do that. I have the most beautiful, kind, caring, considerate wife. I want more than anything to make her happy. Even more, I want to enjoy all the time I have with her. I can only do that by not adding to the stress and trouble that life already inherently has. I have learned that being late to personal engagements are not that big of a deal. Sure, I would love to be on time wherever we go. And I know that to the people we are meeting, being on time is likely very important. But in my experience, women need more time to get ready. Everything about the way they look is really important. And they do tend run late. But rushing them has never yielded much success. More importantly, there is not one person that we are ever going to see that is more important than the one we are taking with us. None will be in the car as we drive together to the event. A great opportunity to talk, to laugh, to deepen our relationship. A time which is almost assuredly ruined by freaking out while your lady is getting ready. None will lay down next to you in bed at the end of the day. I don’t want to ruin that time with my wife.

I cannot emphasize enough how useless this is. Forget it. Don’t worry if your going to be late. Don’t worry about what anyone else might think of you. Put that energy into working on what your wife or girlfriend thinks of you. Put your efforts in an area that can change your life. Change your relationship. It will yield you great happiness. It won’t likely get you anywhere any earlier. But it will show the woman you love, that you do love her. That she is the most important person in your life. And that will make all things better. If your lucky, showing her that grace might help her to extend some grace to you. And we all know that we have plenty of areas that we might need a little grace as well.

Give her WHAT SHE NEEDS FROM YOU. A man that is greater than all others. A man that adores her. A man that is to committed to her above all others. Her Prince Charming.


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