October 31, 2009
Begrudgingly I admit to you all that having a good marriage does not take work, it takes a lot of work. To become more selfless and more giving, requires us as humans to overcome some of our most basic attitudes and desires. One could do this only if they believed that what they would receive is of greater value than what they will sacrifice. But what value have you established and ascribed to a great marriage in your own mind? Do you really believe that there is a great value and great return in a healthy marriage?
Once you have determined that there is in fact a great value in this, by definition you can understand that there will be great costs to achieve it. Some time ago, J. Allen pointed out, “He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would accomplish much must sacrifice much.” That is true of everything in life. To accomplish anything possessing great worth, there will be a high price to be paid.
In marriage, the price for greatness is overcoming our own selfish nature. But as I wrote about in a previous post, (Be selfish. It can really help.), one of the best ways to get what you really desire, is to give of yourself first. So what I am saying is, you have to overcome your selfishness by being selfish enough to want a great marriage and to receive the value it brings. Thus empowering yourself to put your wife’s needs, desires, wants and so much more, before your own. Which will bring you all that you desire as well. (Did I leave you all more confused than before I began?)
I really want to help you all establish in your 0wn minds the value of a great marriage. I hope to do that in future posts. In doing so, I am confident that you will see the benefits truly outweigh the price that must be paid to attain it.
October 30, 2009
While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that apathy is one of the great obstructions to a good marriage, I would say there is a close relative to apathy that might qualify. Yet, I don’t have a way to wrap it up so snugly in a single word. Apathy is part of it, laziness is there too, and maybe even fear but whatever we call it we must address it.
Unless you are willing to concede that nothing will work, unless you do, you will find yourself waiting for your wife to do something she hasn’t been able to do to this date. Now, of course I am speaking to men in marriages that are not working. I am not saying that all women don’t know what to do. Many husbands and wives work very hard everyday on their marriage and have the results to show for it.
But if your marriage is in trouble, if it is broken, then you have to do be willing to be the one to make a change or be willing to lose your marriage. It cannot be conditioned on whether or not your wife does it too. It is only conditioned on whether you want any hope of restoring your marriage. If you accept the fact that things aren’t working now, and you accept the fact that your wife by herself has not been able to do it, then that leaves you. Unless you do the work, without demands, without conditions, there will be no saving it.
Make a decision to be the man you are capable of being. Make the only decision that gives you hope. Make the decision to do the work. Make the decision to have a great marriage.
October 29, 2009
I have to imagine that from the creation of our world, mankind has always suffered from the illusion that we have plenty of time to do whatever it is that we want to do. I believe that this misconception has resulted in the failure of many great people to have attained many great goals.
A rarely seen quote by Leonard Bernstein says, “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” The very first time I read this quote, I didn’t quite understand the brilliance in it. I knew there was some great truth being conveyed yet I couldn’t put my finger on it. Over time, I began to recall how often I am able to complete a number of tasks, that I had procrastinated in dealing with, in a very short time when a deadline presented itself. Even if it was just my going away for a few days, knowing I would be out of the office, I would complete all the things I had put off prior to my leaving.
This is a luxury we are not afforded in our marriage. There are no deadlines to meet. There isn’t a specific date that requires us to complete a specific task. We have reviewed many tasks here that would surely make the list of things to do but there is no force compelling us to institute these by any deadline. Thus, we often never begin, just because we feel no pressure to do it today.
I assure you, there will come a day, where tomorrow will be too late. Whether it be a divorce or death or some other reason, that day will come. Don’t wait another day. If you have any desire to strengthen and improve your marriage, then do it today. Don’t wait one more day to tell your wife you love her, to show her you are committed to her, to fulfill her dream of you being the prince charming that you led her to believe she was marrying.
October 28, 2009
One of the things that can hinder our efforts more than almost anything else is doubt. When we doubt that we can change our situation, when we doubt whether our wives will do their part, when we doubt that we are capable of staying committed to these efforts, we invalidate the love that gave us the desire to make the changes that will help to facilitate a better marriage.
Kahlil Gibran reminds us that, “Love and doubt have never been on speaking terms.” What that means is where doubt exists, love cannot flourish. Where love is strong, doubt has no power, no ability to wreak havoc.
Although I am absolutely convinced that love is a much more powerful emotion or feeling, doubt appears to be more common and easy to make friends with. When we are tired, when we are beaten down, when we are at our weakest point, it is difficult to love. Love takes an effort on our part. While doubt is made stronger at these times. And it takes no effort at all. It does not even require that we be conscious of it to gain its stronghold. I think it is actually most able to exist when we are weak.
That being said, doubt has not the strength to invade our lives if we choose to stand against it. If we make a conscious decision to ignore the doubts that come to us, if we decide to kill those doubts when they first appear, and replace them with love, commitment to our cause, and a plan to change, doubt will find no place to reside in us.
It is my hope that you will begin to recognize doubt for what it is. That you will see it for the pain and suffering it is responsible for. And that you will stand strong against it. To do this, all you have to do is say no. I will not doubt. I will set my sights and goals on a strong marriage and do the things that will move it towards that end. I will not be deterred by doubting myself and the progress being made. I will focus on the finish line, not the bumps in the road that takes me there.
October 27, 2009
I think one of the things that has the most detrimental effects on men in their desire to be better husbands is the fear of being different. It is so common in our culture to see men talk badly of their wives, to see men demean their wives by the things they say when with other men, and to even see men ignore their commitments and responsibilities to their wives. In light of that, it takes a man of great character to be different. To be a voice for commitment. To be an example of a loving and devoted husband.
Suzanne Gordon pointed out the reality of this when she said, “To be alone is to be different, to be different is to be alone.” We have to realize that just because a road is less traveled, does not make it any less the right road to follow. If we choose to follow the crowd in everything we do, we will only find ourselves often lost along with a large group of people.
There is no doubt that it takes great effort to do what is right when so many are doing something else. It takes a man of courage to stand against the masses. To stand for what is true and good.
When we make the commitment to marry the women we love, we stand-alone, hand-in-hand with our bride to be, and promise to honor, cherish, love, care for, and protect her. The masses don’t stand beside us and join in. We choose this path alone, yes with support from family and friends, but the commitment is not made conditional to that support. Therefore, we must continue to do these things whether anyone else agrees or supports us in our efforts.
Take the time to find your wedding video or any other source that would remind you of exactly what you committed to do for your wife. Write it down and put it somewhere that you will see it and read it everyday. Then direct your actions to fulfilling those commitments regardless of what anyone else says or does. And keep yourself clear from anything or anybody that promotes behavior that contradicts your promises to your bride. In doing so, you will likely be different, but you might also find the greatest difference is your happiness.
October 26, 2009
One of the things that seems to have invaded our society is an overall sense of selfishness. You see it in the things people say and do everyday. One of the worst examples I have seen is the idea that as individuals we can do whatever we want as long as we don’t believe we are hurting anyone.
What happened to the concept of being greater than ourselves. The concept of having a responsibility to those around us. Even to our society as whole. John W. Gardner pointed out that, “Some people strengthen society just by being the kind of people they are.” Don’t you want to be one of those people? Deep down wouldn’t you love to make this world a better place by just having been yourself.
I know that I do. I want to have an impact on this world. I want to be remembered as someone who made a positive contribution to society. I have decided that for now, the best way I can do that is to have a positive impact on the people in my life. I try to do this with my wife, my kids, my extended family, my employees, and even to those I have a more limited relationship with.
I desire to effect change in even small ways by being kind to those I encounter. Encouraging those I interact with. Even if it is nothing more than sharing a smile with an unknown passerby.
If I can do this in my marriage, I will have improved society as well. My wife already does this too. She has a positive influence on the people she comes into contact with. Together, we can influence our kids. Our kids can influence their friends. As they say with just a few degrees of separation we can reach anyone in this world. Thus, our actions truly can improve our society as a whole.
I hope that you too will make a change towards this end. I hope you will see yourself not just as one person who can do whatever you want. But more as one man, one husband, one father, that recognizes that you do in fact matter, but not only to yourself. You can start today to make this world a better place by just loving your wife, loving your kids, being positive in the workplace, just being a great man.
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.