It can be slow.

November 1, 2009

We live in a world that has taught us that it is okay to demand instant gratification. Whether it be fast food, credit card purchases for things we want but cannot afford, or refinancing our homes for instant cash that would be better saved for our retirement, we want it all now.

Building a great marriage is not conducive to instant gratification. It takes an amazing amount of work and in reality, an even greater portion of patience. In many marriages there have been walls and obstacles built up for many years if not decades that do not come down easily or quickly. Sometimes are efforts don’t even yield any return for some time making it that much harder to continue trying.

One of the remedies to this is to tell your wife that you are desiring to change and that you are committed for the long haul to rebuilding your marriage. Showing all your cards may not be the best course of action in poker, but in relationships you can rarely go wrong with complete and total honesty. There is a great saying though I am unfamiliar with anyone being credited for the quote saying, “It pays to be honest, but it’s slow pay.” Understanding this we can help to curb our unrealistic expectations.

If you have any hope of restoring a broken marriage you have to be willing to do the work and be patient for the results.


It’s you or nobody.

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.

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.

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.

You will be the cause of happiness, one way or another.

October 1, 2009

Each of us has to make a decision. We have to take a stand in our home. Will we stand for peace? Will we stand for harmony? Will we stand for unity? Or will we just stand by and let our marriages and families deteriorate by our own neglect, or harshness, or unkindness.

Oscar Wilde was quoted saying, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” It’s a sad fact but true nonetheless. We all just have to decide as husbands which one we will be. Will we cause happiness in our home through the way we act and live, or will we cause happiness when we leave because we brought heartache and pain to our family.

You don’t have to make a conscious decision on this one. If you don’t make any decision at all, that’s a decision. If you don’t decide that you are going to have a positive effect on the temperament and attitude of your home, than you most certainly will have a negative effect. But if you make the choice to be the cause of happiness in your home, your home and everyone in it will benefit and even start to mimick it.

I hope that each man who reads this truly understands that they are not only responsible but they are in the unique position of being able to bring happiness and joy into their marriage and family. Don’t believe for a minute that you are just an innocent bystander watching what is happening in your family. Make the decision to bring happiness with you wherever you go but especially into the place you live and love. Don’t let there ever be a day that your wife and family are happier when you go then when you stay right there with them.

What does she think

September 17, 2009

One of the things  I cannot understand about our society is why there is so little training for our children and adolescents on building and maintaining a successful marriage. Even in our churches we are lucky to get a few hours of premarital counseling by someone who may or may not be qualified to help us. They typically follow a book with a couple of pat answers that are good and even relevant but surely not exhaustive.

The ironic thing about this is that the same people in your life who offered little or no help in preparing for a good marriage and training on how to better love your wife, are often the same people with all kinds of advice when things start going wrong. And even setting aside the fact that they are a day late and a dollar short, so few really have the answers that you need to strengthen your marriage.

A lucky few of us have family members and close friends who are full of wisdom in the art of love and are additionally willing to take the time to invest in the lives of others. But for many of us, we don’t have a single marriage relationship we can identify that is an example of what we hope for in a great marriage.

That is why I have found it so important to talk to my wife about these things. Fortunately we had discussed prior to getting married what we both wanted in a great marriage. And even though we are nowhere close to having a perfect marriage, we are both working towards the same thing and even more importantly we are doing the same things together to get there. Because we talk about the things that we have to do in our marriage to improve it, we are on the same page. We are both putting forth efforts on the same front. That gives us power, that gives us momentum, that gives us the strength of two.

I remember a quote that went something like, “I cannot give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a surefire formula for failure. Try to please everybody all the time.” I thought of this in context here because I think one of the reasons that Janine and I work so well together is that we are trying to please each other, not everyone else.

I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. If you have the desire to radically change your marriage, and to improve it in a significant way than start today by talking about it with your wife. Share your thoughts and dreams about the future of your relationship. Ask her the same. Find out everything she thinks about as it relates to this. Don’t be judgmental about any of the ideas that either of you have. Just get the thoughts out together. You will have plenty of time to discuss them. To weigh each objective against the others and set priorities. But work on the same ones together.

If you will take the time to find out what your wife thinks about your marriage, where it is, where it is going, and how to get there, you will be able to truly have the great marriage that each of us wanted the day we asked our wives to marry us. We can become so comfortable in our marriage and even more, so lackadaisical, that we don’t even take advantage of the only other person in the whole world who could have a matching desire to our own for a magnificent marriage.