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.

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Men and women alike.

October 22, 2009

I have had the pleasure of receiving many comments from people who have pointed out the fact that much of what I say is not advice that is solely applicable to or should it be inferred to be only to men. I agree. Almost across the board, every suggestion I post, and they are only my suggestions and my opinions, though they are based on my own historical evidence and results, could be addressed to all people, men and women alike.

Much of what I write about is how all people should treat all other people. Every one of us should show respect and kindness to others. Each of us would do well in this world to encourage those we love, those we work with, and all those we have relationships with.

The reason I specifically target the audience I do, that being married men, is that I have not had the opportunity to find a great number of people struggling with and seeking answers to how they should treat other people in general. But people in marriages do often struggle, because of the closeness and daily involvement with their spouses, with how to improve their marital relationships.

Having only experienced the struggle as a man myself, and finding that for me, I can identify with the men in this situation, I chose to address that point of view. That being said, it does not in any way invalidate the argument that women would be well served to do the same.

So to all of you reading these posts, please feel free to read them as being less gender specific, though they are not written that way, and apply all of the suggestions to your own relationships, as best you can, to improve whatever relationship you are in.

My intent from the beginning, and remaining to this day, is to offer helpful suggestions to all that might be in need of ideas and applications in better handling their relationships.

Any offense that might be taken, is not intended and it is with the utmost respect to all that I post these thoughts. I appreciate every one of you that comments, equally to those that agree, those that disagree, and all those in between.


Fear of failure

October 13, 2009

I think one of the greatest things standing in the way of successful marriages is the fear of failure. So many of us are afraid of putting forth new effort in our marriages because of the history of failure we have experienced already. We are so focused on what hasn’t worked that we fail to see what can work.

I have heard it said that in order to succeed, your desire for success MUST be greater than your fear of failure. Isn’t that what we all want? Don’t we all desire to have a successful marriages? Isn’t that why we married in the first place? And what is there to fear in working on our marriage? Why would we be afraid that if we put forth the effort we will fail?

What situation is really made worse when we try our best? Yes, sometimes our best efforts will not bring the total result we hoped for but it certainly won’t make it worse. If we make a commitment to be patient with our wives, if we make a commitment to be considerate of our wives, if we make a commitment to encourage our wives and show them love and adoration, will it not yield something good?

I think we are often more afraid that we will not be able to keep our commitment than we are afraid that total commitment won’t produce results. That is the fear that binds us. It is our own failure we fear rather than the fear that our marriage won’t survive.

Don’t be bound by the fear of your own inadequacies. Don’t fail to try. Be the spark that reignites your relationship. Do the things that will change the outcome of your marriage. Desire success. Make that desire your focus. Elevate your desire to a level that exceeds any fear you have and success will be yours.


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.


You take my breath away

October 8, 2009

As many of you know, my wife Janine has changed my life in so many ways that I often have a hard time getting my hands around it all. But what I can clearly see above all else is who she is as a person and all her abilities and accomplishments. She is truly amazing. She is so talented. She is kind to everyone. She is a great mother. She is a great friend.

I was reading a tweet that reminded me that, “Life isn’t about the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.” That is truly how I live today. Janine takes my breath away almost everyday. She does this in myriad ways. I want to share some of them with you in hopes that you will see opportunities to have your breath taken away by your wife and the things she does.

The easiest one for me to recall is that her beauty takes my breath away. Yes, I mean her physical appearance and form. I can honestly say that each day, when I look at her, I am some how more attracted to her. She is more beautiful to me everyday. I don’t know how this can be or how to explain it. But when I look at her each day, I am overwhelmed by how she appears to be more beautiful than the day before. I know that I thought the same thing yesterday, but looking at her, I am certain that I have never seen her look as beautiful as she does today. She takes my breath away.

When I watch her play with the kids, so loving, so compassionate, so selfless, I am amazed by this woman. She loves in a way I cannot understand or comprehend. She loves completely. She loves with her whole body and soul. She takes my breath away.

When I am in a bad mood, she overlooks it and tries to make it better. She does something to make me laugh. Or she does something to change the direction of my thoughts. She changes my mood. She is like no one I have ever known. She takes my breath away.

When things are tough at work, or money is too tight, she tells me how proud of me she is. She tells me how she has faith in me. She tells me how she trusts me. She makes it about our love and our family, not the situation we are in. She takes my breath away.

When she is hurting or is sad, she tells me how she is feeling. She tells me her fears. She doesn’t point the finger or place the blame on me. She just authentically opens her soul and talks to me. She takes my breath away.

I know that it is all these things that she does that makes her more beautiful to me everyday and that takes my breath away all over again. I am so blessed to have a life of moments that take my breath away.

I hope you will take notice of your wife and what she does. It is not that anyone is perfect or is able to do it right every time, but if you will allow yourself to be taken by her acts of kindness, her acts of love, you will be blessed with a life of moments that take your breath away.