Friday, April 29, 2011

A Little Gardening Perhaps?

It’s always great for your marriage to have activities that you enjoy doing together. Uhh, that means that you both have to enjoy it, and that you also have to enjoy doing it together. Granted, there are times when one marriage partner does something just to please the other; I don’t want to belittle that at all. Marriage occasionally requires those kinds of sacrifices.

There can also be things that you enjoy doing, but just don’t work out when you do them together. For many men, golf falls into this category (at least for those who play golf). I’ve talked to men who enjoy golf, but the presence of their wife and putting up with her different way of playing really adds a lot of stress to the game for them. Oh well, I guess they need to learn how to relax a bit. It’s just a game.

Anyway, we all know that women like flowers; at least, I hope we all know that by now. I’m not an expert on the subject, but rumor has it that springtime is the time to plant flowers. So, why not plant some flowers as a together type of project?

I’m sure your local nursery would have everything you need. If you take the initiative to mention the project, then your wife will naturally give you credit for it. I don’t recommend just running down there and buying everything you need, then surprising her with it. You’ll probably do better to take here with you, so she can pick out the flowers she’d like to have.

I guess I’d better warn you right now; there’s a good chance that she’s going to take your initiative and really run with it. What I mean by that is that she might turn your little flower bed idea into some major flower beds. Just be ready for that; don’t get frustrated, and don’t worry about getting done in time for the game. You’re taking time to be with your wife; that’s more important than the game.

The two romantic things you’re doing with this project, which will gain you points with your wife, are buying her flowers and doing a project together. Remember to lock frustration away somewhere, so it can’t show up while you’re working together. That could quickly destroy the points you are trying to make.

I must confess that this is a project I’ve never done with my wife. I have a problem with this type of project, because I have a certified brown thumb. In other words, if it’s supposed to be green, I can turn it brown. Mostly, that happens because I forget to water it. Let me just say that forgetting to water the flowers that you plant together isn’t a good idea. Not only will the flowers die, but you’ll lose whatever points you made by planting them.

So, grab some cold drinks along with your shovel, and make your wife happy by giving her some flower beds to enjoy. Not only will your house look good, but she’ll remember that you did it for her.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Watch Your Eyes

Many men think that they’ve got some sort of license to gawk at women, especially young good-looking ones. Marriage doesn’t seem to take this license away. You’ve probably heard one of your buddies or co-workers say, “Just because I’m married doesn’t mean I can’t look” at one time or another.

I’ve got to disagree with that statement on three points. First of all, while the looking probably isn’t all that bad, what kind of thoughts is he entertaining while he’s looking? I’m sure he’s not thinking about her intellect or her spirituality. No, he’s thinking about her body. Jesus made it very clear in Gospel of Matthew (Matt 5:28) that thinking lustfully about a woman is the same as committing adultery. But even if we leave the Bible out of it, how can anyone honestly say that looking at another woman, and thinking about having sex with her, is staying faithful to their wife?

The second disagreement I have with that statement is in how it will affect your attitude towards your wife. Looking at other women starts you making comparisons between them and your wife. I guarantee you; you can always find other women with bigger breasts, a smaller waist, nicer hair, a prettier face, or whatever than your wife. Hopefully you didn’t just fall in love with her for her looks, but even so, comparing her with others is going to give you a more negative attitude towards her.

Finally, I disagree with that statement because it can hurt your wife. Anything done intentionally, that has the ability to hurt another, can’t be done out of love. How would your wife feel if she was with you, while you were gawking at other women? Would she feel loved and cherished? Would she feel as if she’s important to you? I think not.

Granted, I realize as guys, our eyes are naturally drawn to women, especially women with good figures. That doesn’t mean that we have to keep looking at them though. Nor does it mean that we have to entertain all those sexual thoughts that just seem to pop into our heads.

I must confess, I have an advantage over most of you. When I go to the beach or a swimming pool, all I have to do is take off my glasses. Then, unless they get right in my face, I really can’t see well enough to tell if they have a great figure or not. Oh, I can still tell which ones are skinny and which ones are fat. I can tell which ones have on a two piece bathing suit; but, I really can’t see them as well as some of me would like.

I’ve found another couple of tricks that help me out on this. First of all, I’ve explained to my wife how men are visually stimulated and that the most beautiful thing to a man is a naked woman. Since she understands my struggle (at least to some extent) she is able to help me.

One way that my wife helps me is to make sure I see her. In other words, she dresses in a way to attract my eye, so that my eye isn’t attracted to other women as easily. Many years ago, we had a symbolic nightgown burning, where we got rid of all her long flannel night gowns and sweat suits. Now, maybe you like to see your wife dressed like that, but I don’t. So, she dresses in a way that attracts me, both in the bedroom and out.

The second way my wife helps me is to protect me from those other women. Let me give you an example. Once when we were at a swimming pool with our kids, this woman walked into my field of vision in a hot pink bikini. Where she was standing was about 10 feet behind my wife, so I couldn’t look at my wife, without seeing her. So, we changed places; then my wife had to look at her, instead of me.

Finally, I have found it very helpful to be honest with my wife about these issues. It is a protection to my mind and heart when I let her know if there are other women who are accidentally or intentionally drawing my attention. Back in my engineering days, I had a clerk at the office who seemed like she was really trying to get my attention, so I told my wife. Another time, a woman at work came up behind me at a desk and started rubbing her breasts on my shoulder, not only did I get out of there quickly, but I told my wife.

Just the simple act of letting her know about those things eliminates their destructive power. No longer can those things be used against me, nor will my mind linger on them. I can then focus on my wife that much more.

It’s important to let your wife know that she is the only woman for you. Many women are insecure and will wonder if you are looking at others, thinking about others, or even doing things with others. Letting her know that your eyes and your hands are only on her will help her feel secure in your marriage relationship. Without that security, she can’t feel loved.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Take Care of Her

It seems there’s something that happens to women when they have a baby. All of a sudden, they stop worrying about themselves, and concentrate on the baby’s needs. Money they would have spent on themselves before isn’t spent, or at least isn’t spent for the same things. No, instead of spending that money on themselves, they spend it on things for the baby.

While there can definitely be an upside to this, especially with women who think that the mall is their natural habitat, some women take it to extremes. While most of us guys would agree that women spend too much money on clothing, they do need to spend something. If she’s still wearing the same granny panties that are falling apart, just because she’s trying to spend the money on the baby, that’s going too far.

It can be even worse than that. What if she needs to go to the dentist, but isn’t, because of the baby? While her concern for the needs of the baby is admirable, I’d definitely say that in those cases, she’s going too far.

This phenomenon doesn’t just last a year to two either; it can last until the baby is out of college and married. Granted, not all women go through this, or go through it to such severity. Women who have plenty of money are much less likely to do this than women who barely have enough.

Okay, so what’s the point of all this? Good question. This is where we need to come into the picture. We need to keep an eye on our wives; specifically how well they are taking care of themselves. If we see that they aren’t, we need to start probing for the reason why they are acting the way that they are. There’s a good chance that they’re concerned about money, and are trying to avoid spending money on themselves.

Don’t think that just because your wife still buys clothes or shoes that she’s immune to this condition. Women see things differently than we do. She may be seeing that new pair of shoes as a high priority, because she doesn’t have anything to go with her new dress. At the same time, she may not spend the money on getting a cavity filled.

Don’t try and understand it, just realize that women are wired a little bit differently. If she’s not putting the priority she should on taking care of herself, you need to step in and take care of her. If that means going out and buying her some new panties, do it. If it means buying her medications, because she isn’t, do it. If it means dragging her to the dentist for that tooth that’s been bothering her for the last six months, do it.

Remember, romance is about showing her that she’s important to you. What better way to show her that, than by taking care of her when she won’t take care of herself?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Public Declaration

Have you ever felt like you wanted to shout your love from the mountaintops? You know, just like in some movie, where the crazy young man climbs up on a statue in the park, just so he can shout to the whole world that he loves his girl friend. Or, he rents a billboard, right outside her office window to declare his love. Or, even the guy who grabs the public address system at the game, so he can tell everyone he loves his girl.

Okay, so these may sound a little extreme; but Hollywood is about extremes. Everything they do is “bigger than life.” It has to be; who’d want to watch a movie about some guy doing his humdrum work in a factory and going home to his humdrum dinner, after which he watches television and goes to bed. Nothing to hold the interest for very long in that movie.

There’s nothing that says that an occasional extreme isn’t good for the soul; at least some kinds of extremes. Some people go white water rafting to get their extreme, or skydiving, or bungee jumping. While I’m not into those things, if it works for them, more power to them.

Let’s get back to extreme declarations of love. We look at those guys in the movies and think they’re crazy. We might be a little jealous of them too, but mostly we think they’re crazy. So what? What’s wrong with being a little crazy once in a while, especially if that moment’s craziness lets our wife know of our love?

I don’t know of a woman in the world who wouldn’t be thrilled to have her husband publicly declare his love for her. Oh, she might be a little bit embarrassed too, but that won’t stop her from being thrilled. So, how can you do it?

To start off, you’ve got to pick your place. Where is there a somewhat crowded place that you could take your wife to? It needs to be someplace where she wouldn’t be suspicious, maybe even someplace that you go to regularly. Go there, and sometime during the course of the time you are there, climb up on a chair or something and ask for everyone’s attention. You’ll probably have to yell to get their attention, but that’s okay, just as long as you don’t yell like you’re angry.

Once you have their attention, tell everyone you have an announcement to make. Your announcement is something like this: “I just want everyone to know that I love this wonderful woman that I’m married to. Thank you for your time.”

Climb down from your podium and give your wife a hug and a kiss. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if you got a round of applause for your efforts. You’ll definitely get one in her heart and that’s what it’s all about.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Putting Her First

America, the land of looking out for number one; what a place to live. You know, while there are times when looking out for number one might be valuable, marriage isn’t one of them. If we’re busy looking out for number one in our marriages, it’s assured that we’re not looking out for the best interests of our wives.

Love is always giving, not taking. So, by its very nature it goes strongly against that great American attitude of looking out for number one. In fact, love is the direct opposite of that attitude.

It is easy to think about yourself, grab the best and be the one who wins, but that isn’t what marriage is about. No, in marriage, a true win is when you both win. Anything else is treating her as someone less than she deserves to be treated; someone who is just there for your convenience, a chattel, a piece of property; but not the wife that you love.

How do we do this? Here are a few examples:
  • Grabbing the biggest slice of cake.
  • Going through the door first; instead of holding it open for her.
  • Leaving her to clean up the mess, while we go watch the game or take a nap.
  • Not doing something we don’t want to, so she ends up stuck with it.
  • Having to be “right.”

Being romantic goes beyond buying flowers and saying “I love you” to our wives; it’s an attitude, a way of life. If we are going to put all this effort into being romantic husbands, we need to make sure that we don’t undo our own work. Many men find it easy to be romantic for a moment, and then go back to being self-centered grabbers, just trying to get what they can for themselves. That definitely isn’t romantic.

If you’re going to be romantic for a moment, you need to become romantic for the long haul as well. Buying flowers, but treating your wife roughly isn’t going to work. Nor is grabbing the last chocolate candy, but trying to make up for it by saying “I love you.”

Let’s go back and review our original definition of romance. When I started this blog, I used the definition, “Romance is the little things you do to show your wife that she’s important to you.” That definition hasn’t changed. So, if we grab that last chocolate, are we letting her know that she’s important, or are we saying “I’m more important?”

That’s the problem. We’ve all grown up in a society that teaches us to “look out for number one.” Well, that doesn’t work in marriage, unless you take yourself off of that pedestal, and put her up there. Then, looking out for number one is really looking out for her.

I’ve got one even better than that, though. Since the idea is to build up your marriage, why not put the two of you on that pedestal, together. Whatever you do must build up the marriage. Yes, at times that means sacrificing yourself for the benefit of your wife. Just make sure that the ways you are sacrificing aren’t going to end up making you bitter towards her.

Don’t expect her to sacrifice herself for you. Doing that is just another way of looking out for number one. On the other hand, when you aren’t expecting it, and she does so, you really appreciate what she’s doing for you.

Going back to those little things; things grabbing the last chocolate, going through the door first or getting the bigger piece of cake. Are those things really all that important? No, they’re not. But, the attitude behind them is. When you have an attitude of putting her first in those things, it shows her that you truly value her; not just for the moment of that romantic act, but all the time. That’s truly being romantic.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Be Her Protector

I’m sure you’ve noticed that men and woman are wired differently. Things that seem like no big deal to us can be a really big deal to our wives. At the same time, things that we think are important don’t mean a thing to them.

One of the reasons for the differences in characteristics we see between men and women is so that men can be the protector of their home. Physical strength, aggressiveness and the tendency to respond to danger with violence are all wonderful character traits, when they are focused on protecting family.

Granted, we don’t have too many dragons and saber tooth tigers prowling our backyards today, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing around to protect your wife from. You can still be her hero, battling against the wild creatures that invade your home.

Wild creatures? Yep, I’m sure you’ve confronted them before; all those spiders and mosquitoes and even the occasional cockroach that invade your home. Last I checked most women freak out just about as much from them as they do from dragons and saber tooth tigers. It’s enough to make you wonder if those horrendous beasts are really as dangerous as the ones the cave men battled.

No matter, those dangers are real in your wife’s mind. So, when you take care of those things for your wife, it’s almost the same to her as if you’d just slain a dragon. She can relax, knowing her protector is there, watching over her and the children. Maybe it’s not much to you, but it is to her.

So, slain any dragons lately?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Don’t Forget to Play with the Kids

What? Play with the kids? How is that being romantic? I thought this blog was about my relationship with my wife?

In his book, “His Needs, Her Needs” Willard Harley, Jr. mentions that one of a woman’s emotional needs in the marriage is to know that her husband is committed to the family. Stated more specifically, she needs to know that he will be a good father to her children.

What makes a man a good father? Actually, there are a lot of things that can be included in that answer; everything from being a good provider to being a disciplinarian to being a good example to, yes, playing with the kids. I’d have to say, if a man doesn’t spend more time playing with his children more than he does disciplining them, he’s missing out on a lot of what it takes to be a daddy.

You have to realize that the most important things to your wife are the people around her. Women are relational, so anything that touches someone around them touches them as well. That’s why women react so strongly to anything they perceive as a threat to their children. They “feel” that threat in a much more personal way than we do as men.

They also “feel” the positive things that are done for those around them. If one of your kids wins a trophy for something, your wife will feel as proud as if she had won it herself. If they win a raffle, you’d think from her reaction, that she was the one who won it.

So, when you play with the kiddies, you’re showing your wife that you are committed to them and to the family. You're letting her know that what's important to her is also important to you. That gives her security and makes her feel good. It is as if you’d done something just for her. Besides, it’s fun to play with the kids. So, have a good time, and don’t forget to give your wife a hug and a kiss afterwards.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Diet With Her

I think for most of us guys, dieting is about as popular as visiting the dentist for a root canal without novocain. We listen to our wife talk about her latest diet with half an ear, while thinking about the ball game. And the idea of us actually going on a diet (even though most of us who are over 40 probably need it); well, that’s just ridiculous.

Okay, hold on, I realize I’ll probably be laughed right off my own blog for suggesting this, but the next time she goes on a diet, you go on the diet with her; not necessarily to lose weight, but to give her moral support. Granted, losing a few pounds probably won’t do you any herm either, but that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to make things easier for her. If dieting is so important to her, then shouldn’t you be taking an interest in it too? Isn’t that part of what romance is all about, taking an interest in what interests your wife?

It’s hard to diet when you’re cooking for everyone else in the family. You see and prepare all these tasty things that you’d really like to eat, only to miss out on them, while you munch on a salad. Oh, most women act like it’s no big deal, but you try it sometime, it’s not easy.

Now, I realize that going on a diet with your wife won’t be easy; in fact it may seem like it’s nearly impossible. Your belly is probably going to think that your throat has been cut, and like most bellies, it’s going to complain long and loud about how you’re mistreating it. Suck it up, you can handle it. Your belly shouldn’t be your boss.

I suppose you could cheat on the diet if your belly complains too much; that’s up to you. There are probably ample opportunities for you to eat stuff that’s not part of your official diet, like when you are at work, or on the way home. Just make sure that if you have to cheat on your diet, at least don’t do it in front of your wife. Remember, you’re trying to help her; cheating, when she knows you’re doing it, is counterproductive.

Now, I am normally not an advocate for lying to your wife. In fact, I’m the exact opposite; I think men can only expect their wives to trust them, when they are honest in all things. So, we seem to have a dilemma here. Lie to her about cheating, or tell her the truth?

How about going for a compromise? If you are dieting with your wife, in order to help her, why not tell her you will diet with her at home. That gives you the liberty to eat all the junk your belly is telling you that you have to eat, without having to lie to your wife. You can still be the moral support she needs, but you won’t have to suffer all that much; poor baby.

Actually, I’d rather advocate for going all the way and sticking to the diet. Like I said, most of us need it at least as badly as our wives do. That makes the support all that much stronger too. So, suck it up; be a man; eat that salad with a smile and give your wife a kiss afterwards.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do Something!

You know guys, sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Instead of doing what we know we should, all too often we don’t do anything, for fear of doing the wrong thing. I’m not talking about the biggies here; I’m talking about in our relationships with our wives.

It’s amazing how guys who act like they aren’t afraid of anything can be afraid of their wives. At times, we are so afraid of doing something that will offend her, or just that she won’t like, that we don’t do a thing. Now that really puts us in a place of doing something that she doesn’t like.

When I went through Officer Candidate School in the Army, they taught us, as a principle of leadership, that it’s better to do something, anything, than to do nothing. When you do nothing, it shows you are indecisive. When you do something, even if it ends up being the wrong thing, at least you are moving. It’s much easier to change the direction of something that’s moving than it is to change the direction of something that’s just sitting still.

We used to say, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Well, many men have just gotten out of the way. Okay, now it’s time to kick yourself in the seat of the pants and start becoming the loving leader you’re supposed to be.

So what if you make a wrong decision and find yourself going in the wrong direction; at least you’re moving, so you can change direction. As a leader, you need to set a direction and go with it. At the same time, you need to be open to accepting that you can make a mistake, and be wise enough to recognize it when it happens.

You need to become a leader in keeping your marriage strong as well. Don’t expect your wife to do everything necessary to keep your marriage together; you’re the leader, lead. You need to put whatever effort is necessary into keeping your marriage strong. 

There’s another way that this lack of decisiveness and lack of action really affects our marriages. Would you believe that many guys don’t do something romantic for their wives, because they aren’t sure how she’ll react to it? They don’t buy a dress that they think their wife will look fantastic in, because they aren’t sure of her size. Buy it; she can always exchange it if she has to. Or, they don’t buy some love related decoration for the bedroom, because they aren’t sure she’ll like it. Go ahead and buy it, she’ll like the fact that you bought it for her, even if she doesn’t like the decoration. Or, they won’t write a love note to the one they love, because they’re afraid it won’t sound poetic enough. No problem, even if you are the world’s worst writer, to her it will sound wonderful. Or, they don’t put on an apron and cook a special mean for her, because they aren’t sure they can cook something she’ll like. Go ahead and cook it, even if it turns out a disaster, she’ll appreciate that you made the effort. If it’s not fit to give to the dog, you can always order a pizza.

The point is that in romance, any action is better than no action. Maybe you’re not Cassenova, but don’t worry, she didn’t marry him, she married you. Oh yeah, she might talk like she expects you to be more romantic than that famous movie figure, but what she really wants is for you to be romantic in your own way.

Every man has to develop their own style of romance. Maybe there’s something that really doesn’t work for you. No problem, do something else. For that matter, maybe there’s something romantic that you try and do for your wife, but it doesn’t work for her. Once again, no problem, next time try something different. Each person is a unique individual, trying to apply cookie cutter answers, or cookie cutter romantic acts to everyone just won’t work.

No matter what, at least do something. Even if she doesn’t express it in so many words, she’ll notice it and appreciate it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Surprise Date Night

As I’ve said before, sometimes finding time to be together can get pretty tricky. All the regular hustle and bustle of life seems to soak up time like there’s no tomorrow. It’s almost as if there was a conspiracy to keep couples from having time to be alone.

Then there’s the times when you’ve just got to bite the bullet and decide to grab the bull by the horns. While most of us guys are pretty good at doing that for a lot of things, somehow we tend to skip over it, when it comes to making positive change in our marriages. Instead of providing the bold leadership that is so needed, we pussyfoot around, as if we’re afraid of breaking something.

Well, I’ve got to tell you; it’s time to quit pussyfooting around. If you want a great marriage, you need to take positive action. Don’t expect your wife to do it; don’t expect God to do it; you do it.

I’ve said before that surprise is an important element in romance. Having said that, the trick to a successful surprise is to anticipate anything that can go wrong, and plan for it in advance. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

Your mission is to take your wife out on a date. Now, there’s nothing wrong with taking her out on a date that she knows about, but this time, we’re going to do it, without telling her ahead of time. Since some of you have wives who work outside the home, while others have wives who work at home (a stay-at-home mom still works), I’ll have to give two slightly different versions of this date.

Okay, first step is to figure out when and where. What night would be a good time to take your wife out? Pick a night, then check to make sure there’s nothing that would prevent that night from working. Has she got anything planned? Do the kids need to be taken someplace? Is the cat going to have babies that night? Ask yourself those questions and then move to the second step; come up with the answers to them. You might need to make some special arrangements to make your date night work out. Who’s going to watch the kids? Who’s going to take them to their activities? What are they going to eat? Who’s going to take care of the cat?

Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, it’s time to go out. Now, women don’t like to go out if they’re not dressed and made up. So, you need to make sure your wife is ready, without knowing why. If your wife works in an office, this is easy, just stop by and pick her up from work. She’ll already be dressed nice and ready to go.

If your wife doesn’t work in an office, this one might be a little bit trickier. You’ll need to come up with some reason for her to be dressed and ready, without telling her why. Here’s an idea. Tell her you’ve got a dinner meeting and wives are invited. Stress that this is important, without telling her why it’s important. Give her a time that you need her to be ready, and that you’ll be there to pick her up. If that’s later than you normally get home, come up with a good excuse to be late.

Okay, now your wife is ready, you’ve picked her up and it’s time to go to your important meeting. What’s the important meeting? Simple, it’s the most important meeting you can go to; one with just the two of you. Bon appĂ©tit! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flower Hunt

Every once in a while, I like to get something about flowers in here. After all, they are the classic romantic gift to give a woman, so we may as well make use of them. The trick for me, is coming up with something original to do with the flowers.

Let me mention something here; doing the same romantic act all the time doesn’t work. The first time, it’s romantic; the second time, it’s somewhat romantic, the third time, it’s a touch romantic; and by the fourth time, it’s routine. It’s important to have variety in your romance, to keep things fresh and exciting. That’s not to say that you can’t do the same thing again; I’m just saying that you’re better off waiting a while, before you do it again; that way it can be a fresh idea once again.

So, let’s do something different with the flowers this time. Go ahead and buy a dozen of some sort of flowers for your wife. Remember, they don’t always have to be roses. Roses have a tradition of being romantic; but remember, we want variety in our romantic acts.

Talk nicely to the girl in the flower shop and ask her to wrap each flower individually. If you explain what you’re going to do, she’ll probably be glad to go along. You may have to pay a couple of bucks extra, but it’ll be worth it. Even if she doesn’t charge you extra, be a nice guy and give her a tip.

All right, now that you’ve got the flowers, number them in a fractional format (1/12, 2/12, 3/12…). The first number is the number of the flower, the second number is how many flowers you bought for your wife.

Sometime when your wife isn’t looking, place the flowers around the house; on tables, in the kitchen sink, on your bed, in the bathroom, on the sofa, wherever seems like a good place to leave a flower. You probably don’t want to bother with the garage, the basement or the kids rooms.

It shouldn’t take long for her to start finding the flowers. Don’t tell her what the numbers mean, she should be able to figure that out for herself. Once she does, the hunt will really be on. If she comes to you and asks how many there are, just ask her how many she’s found. Unless she says the number you bought, tell her, “more.”

Not only will she have fun with this special scavenger hunt, but each flower she finds will be another “I love you.” You’ll actually make just about as much headway with this as if you had done it 12 times. So, get going.

Friday, April 15, 2011

12 Hugs a Day

If you’re like half of the rest of the country, you’re busy scrambling today to finish your income tax returns. I wonder… why is it that we can procrastinate so well on these things, when we know we have to get them done? Well, there are some things that should definitely not procrastinate about.

One of those is to make sure we take a break every now and then to get up from wherever we’re working on the taxes; for no other reason than to give our wives a hug.

Hugs are wonderful. Somehow, they seem to have a curative factor for all the crud of the day. It doesn’t matter if your boss has been crabby; customers have been causing you problems; the car broke down; you’re doing your taxes or you just fell and skinned your knee. All of those problems have the same cure, a nice hug from someone you love.

Guess what? Your wife needs those hugs as well. She’s got things going on in her day that can make her feel just as bad as you do. You hold in your arms the medicine she needs to feel better; or rather her being in your arms is that medicine.

I remember reading a little book a number of years ago, which put forth the theory that human beings need 12 hugs a day to remain emotionally healthy. Supposedly, some group of psychologists had done a study to prove this point, and the writer of the book was using their study to back up the point. Actually, I’m not sure there ever was a study, but I have to go on record saying that I agree with the idea. Dr. Rich’s prescription for emotional health: Hug your wife at least 12 times a day.

A hug isn’t a hug unless you spend some time doing it. Don’t go for one of those one second hugs, make it last. In fact, I’d have to day that the longer it lasts, the greater the curative power of that hug. It’s also not really a hug unless your bodies come in contact. In other words, don’t just put one arm around her and give a quick squeeze. Full body contact is the way to go; that probably increases the power of that medicinal dosage as well.

Remember, at least 12 hugs a day. Even if that isn’t required for mental health, I’d have to say it will do wonders for marital health.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eliminate Her Worry

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that women are much better worriers that us guys are. When we’ve got a problem that we can deal with, we deal with it. On the other hand, when we have a problem we can’t deal with, we set it aside; not forgetting it, but not paying it much attention either. While we’ve got it set aside, we kind of think about it once in a while, looking for an answer. When we have the answer, we pick it up and take care of it.

I’ll have to say that women deal with those problems totally different than we do. They don’t seem to have that ability to set things aside like we do. When they have a problem, it’s a problem. That problem stays before their eyes, growing into a monster. If they can’t do something about the problem, it can become overwhelming.

Let me give you an example that happened to me, early in my marriage. I was self-unemployed and independently poor, trying to make a living as a small-time contractor. Due to my lack of raving success as a businessman, we didn’t have a whole lot of money; bills would stack up, disconnect notices would arrive in the mail, and creditors would hound us.

Unfortunately, my wife was the one who saw those pink slips when they came in the mail. She was also the one who had to field those calls from the creditors while I was out working. So, she was constantly confronted with this problem.

When I’d come home from the day’s work, I was often greeted with, “There’s a bill from the electric company that came in today.” What a wonderful way to be greeted. “Okay,” I’d think to myself, “I don’t have to pay that for two more weeks, I can set it aside.” Since I knew about how much the electric bill would be, I didn’t even bother opening the envelope. So went the battle of the bills. We always had a little pile of them sitting in that same spot. When I had money, I’d open them the next one due and pay it. Until then, I’d let the sleeping dogs lie.

Makes sense, right? If you can’t do something about it, do something that you can do. Leave the problem for when you can deal with it. Well, my wife didn’t see it that way. To her, I was being irresponsible, because I didn’t rush to open those bills.

Now, I must confess, I wasn’t the world’s best money manager in those days. My system worked, but didn’t work well. We were constantly just managing to beat the shut off dates on our utilities and we lost the house we were living in. So much for me, the infamous financial manager.

The effect of my inaction was two-fold; first of all, my wife was constantly worried about the bills. That’s not good for her health, her emotions, or her ability to be a loving wife. The second problem was that my wife learned that she couldn’t trust me. Guess what? If you can’t trust someone in one area of life, you can’t trust them in any area of life. Since my wife didn’t trust me with the finances, she couldn’t trust me in the bedroom. Ouch!

For a woman to be able to give herself to her husband, she must be able to trust him. Guess what guys? We’ve all managed to prove to our wives that they can’t trust us. Maybe you didn’t do it the way I did, but you did it somehow. Unless, of course, you’re that mythical perfect man.

Okay, so how do we cure the problem? First of all, repent to your wife for your errors. That’s always a good start. But look, repenting isn’t just saying you’re sorry, it’s doing something about it too. Taken literally, the word “repent” means to change your direction. So, change your direction; whatever you were doing wrong, learn how to do it right.

The second thing that we all need to do is find out what our wife worries about, and do something about it. This can be tricky, because she may not come right out and say it, even if you ask her. You may have to pry this one out of her with questions or pick it up from the little things that she regularly complains about. Her worry could be driving the old car, or the roof that’s starting to leak, it could even be your acrimonious relationship with her mother. Whatever it is, you need to know.

When you find out what she’s worrying about; and don’t assume it’s just one thing; do something about it. Maybe you can’t replace the old car right now, but if she sees that you are taking pains to maintain it well, she won’t worry as much. Or, maybe you don’t have enough money for a new roof, but if you get up there and replace a few missing shingles, she’ll know that you aren’t ignoring the problem.

The point is that she won’t have to worry about it, if she knows that you’ve got it in hand. Her worry begins, when you look like you’re ignoring the problem. Don’t let her get to that point, make sure she realizes that you, her hero, have everything under control.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

I’m not really sure what gets a particular food categorized as being romantic, but there are a number of foods that are commonly considered to be romantic foods. I think that chocolate covered strawberries have got to be one of the top ones that list. I don’t know what makes them romantic, unless it’s the chocolate, but ahhh…

Granted, my wife and I are both chocoholics anyway; so anything chocolate is going to strike a resonating chord within us; especially if it’s dark chocolate. Chocolate is so popular around my house, that I think I’ve received more chocolate as gifts than anything else.

The only problem with chocolate covered strawberries is finding them; they’re not exactly your typical grocery store item, unless somebody in your grocery store’s bakery has a real romantic streak. Fortunately for us, they’re really not all that hard to make. So, if you can’t find any to buy for a romantic interlude with your wife, why not make your own?

You’ll need:
  • Strawberries – the bigger the better
  • A bag of really good chocolate chips, (don’t buy the generic brand) I like Ghirardelli or Hershey’s Special Dark
  • A little bit of cooking oil
  • 1 saucepan and 1 pot
  • Waxed paper on a tray, cookie sheet or plate

Fill the pot about halfway with water and put it on the stove, with medium heat, to warm up the water. Put the saucepan in the water (it should float) and put the chocolate chips inside. Add about a tablespoon of cooking oil. Stir occasionally while it’s melting.

While your water is warming, wash and dry your strawberries. If you don’t get them dry, the chocolate isn’t going to stick to them. Put the waxed paper on a tray, cookie sheet or plate.

When your chocolate is barely melted, grasp each strawberry by the leaves and swish it around in the chocolate, trying to cover the majority of the strawberry, but not the leaves. Place the strawberry on the wax paper covered whatever to cool and harden.

Please note: you don’t want to get your chocolate very hot; the best is just barely melted.

You can put your strawberries in the fridge to harden, but the chocolate has a tendency to get whitish when you do that. So, you’re better off being patient and letting it harden at room temperature.

There you have it, your own chocolate covered strawberries. Surprise your wife with them, and enjoy together.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Is it Really All that Important? – Part 3

Have you ever noticed how destructive anger can be? When we are angry, nothing better get in our way, or it’s likely to get knocked down, run over and trampled underfoot. While that can be useful when the thing we get angry at is a threat to our family, most of the time, it’s something much less sinister, but with just as strong a result.

Why do we get angry? Often, our anger doesn’t really have anything to do with a threat, rather it’s anger caused by pride. In other words, we get angry because something threatens our opinion of ourselves. Someone treats us or speaks of us as less than we think we deserve and the anger takes over.

This happens all the time in marriages. One marriage partner or the other says something, intending it to be helpful, and the other one explodes. Or, one doesn’t treat the other one as they think they deserve to be treated and the explosion comes.

Those explosions are always destructive. They destroy your communication and your relationship; they can even destroy your marriage.

Think back to the last time you were angry with your wife. Was what you were angry about really all that important? How about when you compare it to your marriage; is it still so important? Were you being destructive just because you didn’t get your way?

When we compare the value of that thing we get angry about to the value of our marriage, suddenly it seems like we were angry about something that’s not all that important. In other words, we’re allowing ourselves to damage something important for something that isn’t important. That doesn’t sound like a good tradeoff to me.

It’s important to maintain the right perspective on these things. That perspective includes being sure that we guard those things which are valuable to us, and we dismiss those that aren’t. Sacrificing something of value, in order to attempt to save something unimportant isn’t good business, nor is it good in life.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Is it Really All that Important? – Part 2

Great marriages don’t happen by accident, all great marriages require work on the part of both marriage partners. Any time you bring two people together, whether it be for work, recreation or in a marriage, there has to be shared goals and interests, communication, and agreement. Of course, sharing goals, interests and coming to agreement require the other thing I mentioned, communication.

No two people agree perfectly about everything. While they may find agreement on many things, even most things, there are always going to be some percentage of things that they don’t see eye to eye on. Whether major or minor, those things can be what cause problems between them.

All too often, those few points of disagreement end up taking a larger role in our marriages than they deserve. Instead of focusing on the myriad of things that we are in agreement about, we focus on those areas where we disagree, even though they might not be worth the time.

Any couple, coming together in marriage, needs to realize that they are not the same (if they don’t realize that, they’ve got bigger problems). They’ve come from different backgrounds; with different customs, habits, mannerisms and ways of doing things. Those differences are bound to cause a clash sometime or other. Hopefully, we can keep it to a small clash.

How we deal with those clashes is what can make our marriage wonderful or a nightmare. There are those who always insist that everything has to be done their way. While that might make their marriage wonderful for themselves, it is bound to make it a nightmare for their partner. Then there are those who are the opposite, becoming the martyr and allowing the other to walk all over them. They might make their spouse momentarily happy, at a price of making themselves bitter and miserable.

Solid relationships happen when both partners learn how to compromise. For many of us, this is a strange term; we are used to fighting things out, until one or the other wins. That makes one person a 100% winner and the other a 100% loser. When we compromise, each of us gets to be a 50% winner. That looks to me like a better plan.

Compromise is based upon each partner giving up a little, in order to reach a middle ground that is good for both of them. That middle ground probably won’t be perfect for either party, but it will be something that both can comfortably live with.

One of the keys to making an effective compromise is determining what’s really important to you and what is not. Just like two nations coming to the negotiating table, you don’t want to negotiate away the things that are important. On the other hand, giving away the unimportant things, as a good-faith gesture, helps your partner give away their unimportant things as well.

If something is not important, yet you still try to hang on to it, you’re operating in pride; like the macho guy who says, “I’m king of the castle. I command. We do everything my way.” If you want to be that way, I hope you like being single, because no woman in her right mind will want to stay married to you.

On the other hand, a man who learns how to openly discuss disagreements with his spouse, coming to an agreement that works for both of them, is a man who will have peace and love in his home. The question is, which are you?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is it Really All that Important?

Have you ever noticed how quickly and efficiently women can destroy your plans? It doesn’t matter if it’s your wife, your mother or your daughter, any women seems to have this innate ability to totally abolish whatever plans you have. You know that saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men…” I’ve never heard the end of it but it think it should say, “…were destroyed by a woman.”

Okay, I know we all tend to grumble when our wives mess up our plans, but enough grumbling. Let me ask you, when your wife messes up your plans, is she doing it with malice? Is she really trying to hurt you? Is she really trying to show you that your plans aren’t important? Is she out to get you? For that matter, where those plans really all that important after all?

No, your wife isn’t out to get you. She just has her own ideas about what’s important, and those ideas obviously aren’t the same as yours are. To her, watching the big game, going on that fishing trip, or going out with your buddies for bowling night just aren’t very important; maybe because they have nothing to do with her.

Really, how important are those things? Granted, you enjoy them and you get to relax for a while. Nothing wrong with that, but is it important?

Let me put this in perspective for you. Are those things more important than your relationship with your wife? Ouch! Yeah, that’s the question that really hurts. When we choose bowling night with the guys, over going out to eat with our wives, we’re telling them, “This is more important to me than you are.” Ouch again! If that’s the way you are acting towards your wife, no wonder she’s giving you the cold shoulder.

Granted, there are things that are important enough that we have to say no to our wife’s desires. When the car is broken down, it’s kind of hard to ignore it and go out to eat. Work sometimes steals time that we would ordinarily be with the family, whether we want it to or not. There are things that you might plan, which just plain have to be done.

That’s not the same as what I’m talking about though. What I’m talking about are the times that we grumble because she messes up plans that really aren’t all that critical. So what if you don’t get the garage cleaned out this weekend, because she wants you to go look at antiques with her. You really didn’t want to clean out the garage anyway. Why complain if she keeps you from fixing the back porch? It’s been broken for six months anyway; another week or two won’t hurt anything.

The key here is in deciding what’s more important. If your relationship with her is more important, then you really have no reason to grumble. On the other hand, if it’s one of those situations like the car being broken down, let her know (without grumbling), she’ll probably understand. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Compliment Her

There’s this strange phenomenon that seems to happen with married couples. Before the wedding, they can’t think of a single bad characteristic in their future spouse. They are absolutely convinced that the other person is the most perfect example of their gender on the face of the planet. You couldn’t convince them that there is something wrong with that other person.

If only that attitude would stay with us. Unfortunately, after the honeymoon is over, we start seeing all the errors in that other person. It’s very easy to become so focused on their negative traits, that we wonder how we ever could have loved them in the first place.

Your thoughts will affect your love for and attitude towards your wife. There’s no way you can manage to be romantic while you are thinking negatively about her. Oh, you might manage to do a romantic act or two, but you won’t be able to maintain it. Nor will you be able to do those romantic acts with the right attitude; and a romantic act done with a bad attitude just doesn’t come across the way it should.

I want to share a little habit with you that will help you maintain a positive attitude towards your wife, even while everything else in the world is trying to give you a negative one.

Get yourself a piece of paper, small notebook, or file on your computer. Make sure it’s convenient to use, because you’re going to use it ever day. Every day, write down one positive thing about your wife. It can be a character trait, something endearing about her personality, the way she does something, or something she’s done for you. Whatever it is, write it down and date it.

Now, think about that one thing several times throughout the day. Remind yourself of it, why it is special, maybe some memory of how or when that thing showed forth, and why you are glad that your wife is that way.

In the evening, compliment your wife for that thing which you’ve been thinking about all day. Let her know that you appreciate that characteristic, ability or action that you see in her. You will both be building your love for her and building her up at the same time.

Maybe you could add the anticipation factor in here a little too. If you make a habit of this, your wife will soon realize that you are making a habit of complimenting her. She will begin to look forward to hearing what you are going to say. So, put some variety into the when and where of giving her that compliment. One day it could be at dinner; the next day as soon as you walk in the door from work; the next day it could be right before going to bed. It won’t be long before she starts wondering and anticipating that day’s compliment; which of course, will make it all the more special for her.

Monday, April 4, 2011

When Can We Have a Date Night?

For many of us, finding time for one another can be a real challenge. It seems that there are so many other things we have to do, all of which are important, that having time together all too often slips by the wayside.

There are two requirements to making sure you can have time together as a couple. The first one is commitment. If you both aren’t committed to making time for each other, it just isn’t going to happen. Everything else will put pressure on your schedule and before you know it, you’ve gone through another week hardly saying hello to each other. The crazier your schedule is, the more you’ve got to be committed to the idea of spending time together.

The second thing that’s required to make time for each other is imagination. Whoever said that a date night has to be at night? Why can’t it be a breakfast date, or a lunch date, or even a mid-afternoon date? My wife teaches classes most nights, so trying to find a night that’s free for us is more than a challenge, it’s almost impossible. So, we just find another time; our schedules are more flexible during the day, so we go out for lunch, instead of dinner.

Dates don’t have to be expensive to be dates; you don’t have to impress her with how much money you spend on her. It’s not about money, it’s about time. The two of you need time together, without interruptions from the office, the kids, or your in-laws.

Going to the park to feed the ducks, and grabbing a hamburger on the way is just as valid a date as going out to the most expensive restaurant in town. Granted, it’s nice to go out to that fancy restaurant every once in a while, but it doesn’t have to be every time. Sometimes, the simple pleasures are best. If you’ve got to plan and plot to have a date, you’re not going to have one very often. But, if you’ll use your imagination, and grab at the opportunities that present themselves, you can find all the time you need.

Remember, you need to be committed to having time with your wife. If you don’t, I’ll guarantee you that she’s going to feel like everything else in your life is more important to you than she is. Spending money will never make up for time. Writing fancy words won’t either. Women spell love T – I – M – E. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Share Some Laughter – Part 3

Laughing at yourself and laughing about your circumstances is great, but if you really want a good laugh together, you can start laughing about your past. This is a great cure for those melancholy moments or those days where you’re wife is in an emotional slump.

All of us accumulate humorous things that have happened to us throughout our lives. The old clichĂ© “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” must have first been penned to talk about humans. I mean, if there is anything that is funnier than monkeys, it’s the two legged creatures around us.

Even things that didn’t seem funny at the moment can seem hilarious in retrospect. Events that really put us through our paces suddenly become great stories that get us rockin’ and rollin’ with laughter after the fact. We can look back at ourselves and ask one of life’s great questions, “Why did I do that?” Or, act with shock at ourselves and say, “I can’t believe I did that!”

As I said, this is a great way to overcome those days when she’s feeling a little bit down. It doesn’t matter why she’s down, she might not even know. What matters is that you get her back up again. Well, here’s one way to do it. Find something funny from your past together and share it with her. Have a good laugh together… and if one isn’t enough, I’m sure you’ve got more funny stories to pull from.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Share Some Laughter – Part 2

I remember reading something interesting in a science fiction book a number of years ago. The gist of the story was that a man was returned to the world, who had grown up on another world, amongst aliens. Because of this, he had trouble understanding the most basic human actions and reactions. One of the things he struggled with was understanding laughter.

What I really remember about that story was the way he explained laughter when he finally understood it. He said that people didn’t laugh because things were funny, as everyone had explained to him; people laughed because it hurt, and they were laughing to make it stop hurt.

If you think about it a minute, much of what we laugh at are things that hurt. A comic slips on a banana peel, and we laugh as he falls; a joke that talks about how foolish someone is in a particular situation; a picture of a car that someone has driven off the dock into a boat. They are all painful situations, ether physically or emotionally.

All of us pass trough painful situations, it’s part of life. How we face those situations says a lot about us, and how we help others face them says even more. We can either help them though those situations, lightening their load, or we can become part of the problem, making their load all that much harder to bear.

One of the ways we can help our wives through a difficult situation is to find the humor in that situation and help her see it. Granted, she may not be in the mood to laugh at that exact moment, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need to laugh. In fact, laughter is one of the best stress relievers there is. By helping her laugh in the midst of that difficult situation, we can help her not only get through it, but overcome it.

How do you find humor in a situation? One way is to talk about how you could explain it to another person. Take a situation where your mother-in-law is a world class champion worrier. If you can help your wife see what it would be like to explain that situation, after the fact, to her mother, it could bring some humor into it. Or, how about trying to see the ridiculousness of your comedy of errors, as if you were watching it in a movie. If you can see it that way, you suddenly see the humor of it. More importantly, you can help your wife see it that way.

It’s always easier to make it through a situation if you can find a way to laugh your way through it. Not only will you be free of the stress, but you will be better able to make good decisions. Ultimately, that will help your relationship with your wife, your family and your life.