To be honest, it takes a lot of work.

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.

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Thanks Dad (Part one of a two day post.)

October 17, 2009

My dad is one of those men that always has an encouraging word for you when you are feeling down or confused about anything. It usually comes in the form of a quoted saying or euphemism. One of his favorites is, “What one can conceive and believe, one can achieve.” I don’t know who first coined that one but I believe it might have been Zig Ziglar.

Anyways, I really don’t know how it happened, but over the years, I came to believe these nuggets of wisdom and they have kept me in good stead. I have found that I have very little fear of any situation I face or opportunity that presents itself because of my Dad’s encouragement. I am willing to try just about anything without much thought or concern of failure. This has really been a blessing to me.

In marriage, like all other areas of 0ur lives, we have to have a positive outlook if we want to make a real difference. Who could come home everyday in a bad mood, yell at everyone, push everyone away and hope to have a great marriage? No one. You have to believe there is hope and act in the possibility of that hope.

Jamie Paolinetti made it so clear when she said, “Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become endless.” That is where you have to start to change your marriage. In your own mind. You have to believe in the possibility of a great marriage. You have to believe that you can make a difference.

Starting today, make a conscious effort to change the way you think about your marriage. First focus on the good and positive things no matter how few you might be able to come up with. Then, start to concentrate on the fact that you have the ability to make changes in your marriage. You can be the instrument of change that your marriage so desperately needed. Believe in yourself, believe in the possibility, and believe that you have the God of all creation on your side. He hates divorce and wants nothing more than for each of us to have a great marriage.


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.


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.


Know when to be quiet

October 7, 2009

There is an amazing phenomenon that seems to be universal with men, that is , we seem to miraculously have an opinion on everything, be convinced we are right about it all and have an unending need to let everyone else know. While I am not one to buy into the image of men being stupid, unneeded, or inept, that is so often portrayed on TV and in the movies, I do know that we at least occasionally give some good ammunition to build these stereotypes from.

When it comes to having to say something about everything your wife says or does, or in helping her correct her opinion that you are sure is somehow incorrect, I think it is best that we remember the old proverb, “Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.”

It is not that we need to keep our mouths shut in every situation. That is ridiculous. We need to be a wise counselor, a trusted adviser and a valued part of our marriage and family but it doesn’t have to be on every comment made or heard in our home. Our wives are very adept at handling most situations with our family, friends and neighbors and don’t need to be second guessed at every turn.

I know there has been many times my wife will recount some of the things that have happened throughout her day and I have quickly told her how she should have done it different or better. Often times, she wasn’t asking for my opinion or my analysis of her dealings but rather was just talking with me to share her life and be a part of mine. On many occasions, nothing I said would change what she did or more to the point, did it really need any changing. I was just sticking my opinion where it served no purpose. Unless making her feel stupid or inept was my purpose.

As I am trying to do, I hope that each of you will take the time to listen to your wives. Be a friend that she can talk to and tell things to. If she doesn’t ask for your opinion or for your advice on how to deal with something, keep it to yourself. You are not the hall monitor or the relationship police. If you are a trusted ear that she can talk to, she will tell you everything you need to know about her. And if you are trusted, she will listen to you when you have something to say to help her in any way.


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.