Monday, October 29, 2012

Chocolate Emergency Kit

For years, the therapeutic and medicinal properties of chocolate have been talked about, almost jokingly. It’s as if the idea that something which was enjoyable to eat could actually be healthy was preposterous. After all, everyone knows that anything we like can’t be good for us and anything we don’t like must be.

While the battles still rage between the nutritionists and those with a little more common sense, I must put in a bid for the value of chocolate, especially for women. There have been medical studies done on chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, and how it helps with the production of progesterone. Now, while the medical community talks about the loss of estrogen being what cause emotional problems like PMS and menopause for women, those in the know have realized that it’s the lack of balance between estrogen and progesterone that causes the problem.

Menopause and PMS are actually more about loss of progesterone production, rather than estrogen production. Yes, estrogen goes down, but progesterone goes down even more. I guess that one thing you could call a proof of the problems which lack of progesterone cases is that there are zero cases of women who are on estrogen supplements, who report feeling better.

On the other hand, women who take progesterone supplements (which are applied as a topical cream) do report better emotional equilibrium. So, while that may be a bit anecdotal and not all that scientific, it appears that progesterone is important to a woman’s emotional stability.

That brings us back on track with chocolate. As I already said, chocolate is a precursor to the production of progesterone. That’s why women crave chocolate when they are in PMS and menopause. Yes, there’s something more than calories and flavor behind that craving. So, it would seem that the thing which we should do as husbands is ensure a healthy supply of chocolate for our wives.

One candy company has actually seen the wisdom of this and produced a Chocolate Emergency Kit. Yes, Dove Chocolates actually produced a “Chocolate Emergency Kit.” I have no idea if this item is still on the market, as I bought this one for my wife a few years ago. She would keep it in her desk at work for those emergencies when she needed a chocolate. Now that she’s working out of the house, we keep it stocked for the two of us (I have chocolate emergencies as well).

Even if they’ve stopped making these, that doesn’t mean that you can’t provide your wife with a chocolate emergency kit of her own. Remember when we were kids (for those who are old enough) and we used to cover cigar boxes with paper, making “jewelry boxes” for our mothers? Well, guess what, that idea still works, although it might be a bit difficult to come up with a jewelry box these days. No problem, just swing by your local crafts store and pick up a box to decorate.

That way, your wife can have her own “Chocolate Emergency Kit.” While I would have to say that the science isn’t all in on the value of chocolate, I can say with total security, that chocolate is one of the world’s great comfort foods. If nothing else, you can be assured that eating chocolate will help her feel better, even if it does nothing for her body chemistry.

Besides, everyone knows that quality chocolate is romantic. Hmm, I wonder if anyone has ever done a study to determine the aphrodisiac value of chocolate?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Have You Washed Her Feet Lately?

There’s a part of the communion service which the Lord gave to us, that is rarely practiced in the church today. That is, the practice of foot washing. Scripture shows us that it was an integral part of what He did in that night, taking upon Himself the role of a servant, and washing the feet of his disciples. Actually, he did more than that, for washing the feet was the job of the lowest servant in the house. So, he became the lowest of servants, serving his own disciples.

This was a bit of a shock to the disciples, as he was their rabbi (teacher). Never before had a rabbi washed the feet of his disciples, although at times a disciple would wash the feet of his rabbi in an act of gratitude. Peter was so shocked by Jesus’ actions, that at first he refused to let Him do it.

Jesus went on to explain to his disciples that they should follow in his example, being willing to lower themselves to serving one another, even to the lowest form of service. That was shocking as well, as the disciples were arguing amongst themselves (more than once) about who amongst them would be the greatest when Jesus came into His kingdom.

This concept of servant leadership has gained much credence these days. We find it talked about in business and leadership books, taking on the characteristic of the leader or manager becoming a leader of his team members, making it possible for them to work better. It’s almost a role reversal from traditional management, where the team members were there to serve the manager. Many management experts tout this as the way of getting the team to work more effectively.

One thing is clear about servant leadership, it’s not about lording it over others, or getting them to serve you. More than anything, it’s putting the needs of the whole team before your personal needs. In the family, we could take this to be putting the needs of your wife and kiddies before your own.

There’s another great image of footwashing in the gospels that I want to mention. That’s when Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, drying them with her hair. There was a different connotation to that event, over and above that of service. In that instance, she poured costly perfumed ointment on His feet from an alabaster flask. This was a sign of committing her life to Him.

In those times, an alabaster flask of ointment was given to a girl at her Bat Mitzvah (the female version of the Bar Mitzvah, when she’s 13 years old). She didn’t use that perfume, but rather saved it for one purpose only. That was, when she would accept a proposal of marriage, she would pour out that perfume on the feet of her betrothed, as a sign of committing her life to him.

Washing your wife’s feet is a great way of showing her that you don’t intent to lord it over her, but rather are committed to doing whatever is necessary to make your marriage work the best that it can. It’s not just about the physical washing, although that is part, it’s more about the spiritual connection that you make happen, when you wash her feet. That happens by praying over her, every part of her life, while you are washing her feet. 

It’s a beautiful, intimate expression of love; taking the place of a servant, in order to bless your wife. So, when was the last time you washed your wife’s feet?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When Your Love Tank Runs Dry – part 3

I want to wrap up this mini-series talking about something else that we all tend to do when our love tanks run dry. This isn’t so much something to help us overcome the problem, as it is something we need to watch out for, when we find ourselves in that state.

Everyone, men and women alike, talk to their friends about their problems. While women tend to open up more and faster with other women than men do, once men have a true friend, they’ll open up with them. In fact, we’ll say things to our friends that we try to avoid saying to our wives. Sometimes, those things are things that we really should say to our wives, but we don’t say them to avoid strife or avoid hurting her feelings.

Okay, so what’s the purpose of talking to our friends about our problems? Let’s be more specific than that what’s the purpose of talking to our friends about our marriage problems? Are we doing it as a means to seek out an answer, or are we just complaining?

While we might think that we’re talking in order to find a solution to our problem, in reality there’s more of a complaint aspect to it than anything else. Somehow, we all instinctively think that complaining about it is going to help, and might just help us find an answer as well. But, as I said, the real goal is more to complain, than it is to seek a problem.

Now c’mon, who really thinks that they’re going to find a solution to their marriage problems by talking them over with their buddies who have the same problems? Most of us form friendships with people who are at roughly the same level of life as we are. That means that they probably are dealing with similar issues in their own lives. Oh, there might be something every once in a while where they’re a bit ahead of us, but most of the time they’re not.

If we were truly seeking an answer, we’d talk to somebody who knows about what we’re dealing with, not our friends. We’d go to our mentor, pastor or counselor, rather than to speak with our fishing buddy. Those people are much more likely to have a solution to offer us, having been there before and dealt with the problem.

Let me make it simple. If we want a solution, we seek out somebody who has the experience and knowledge to have that solution. If the only people we talk to about our problems are our friends, then we really aren’t looking for a solution.

There’s another aspect of this that’s very important. Whatever we do, we don’t want to be making our wives look bad before others. Often, our friends are married to our wife’s friends. So, we tell our buddies about our problems with our wives; they tell their wives; and their wives tell our wives. All we’ve accomplished is to damage her reputation. Not cool.

We need to protect our wife’s reputation, not go around damaging it. Regardless of how we feel, we are responsible for protecting her. That means protecting all aspects of her, including her reputation. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When Your Love Tank Runs Dry – Part 2

Yesterday, I was talking about what to do when your love tank runs dry. I focused on the need to get your tank filled up again by going to God. There was something else I mentioned, which I want to go to in a little more depth than I did yesterday. That is, the risk of allowing others to fill our love tanks.

We have to realize that we are emotionally vulnerable when we are in that state. While we normally think of women being emotionally vulnerable and not men, the reality is that men are more emotionally vulnerable than women, especially when their love tanks run dry. I say that because women are much more used to dealing with their emotions and the effects of those emotions than men are. As men, we tend to ignore our emotions.

The other factor here is that women can connect the emotional and logical parts of their brains together much more readily than men can. So, whether a woman is sad or happy, she at least knows what she feels. On the other hand, men don’t always know what they feel, just that they feel something and they don’t like it.

In that state, a man is very open to receiving comfort from wherever he can get it. Watch out! That’s dangerous! A fair percentage of men who fall into adulterous relationships do so because their love tank is empty and some woman other than their wife offers to fill it.

I’m not saying that she sends you a text message that says, “Hi there. I noticed that your love tank is empty. Let’s meet after work today, so that I can fill it up for you.” No, these things are much more subtle than that. In fact, I’d say that the women usually aren’t thinking about filling up the guy’s love tank. If anything, she sees another hurting soul and shares the pain.

That’s step number one in heading down the road to adultery. We need to nip it in the bud, right there, before it can go any farther. All too often, men take that first step, thinking that it’s nothing more than talking with a co-worker or friend, and not recognizing it for what it truly is.

We must recognize that first flirtatious step for the true danger that it holds for our hearts. That’s our only protection. It is imperative to stop ourselves, even before taking that first step. You see, nobody gets up one morning after 20 years of being faithful to their wife and says to themselves, “I think today is a good day to commit adultery.” No, that adulterous relationship sneaks up on us one tiny step at a time. The adultery happens long before any sexual contact does.

Remember, adultery isn’t just about sex. Jesus said that if a man lusts after another woman, he’s already committed adultery with her in his heart. It doesn’t take sex to make it adultery. Fantasizing about her is adultery. Once again, it takes a number of steps to get the man to the point where he’s fantasizing about another woman, especially if he’s always been faithful to his wife.

The less sex there is in a marriage, the more risk there is of the man falling into adultery. It takes the strength of character to say NO, before taking that first step. Too many men wait until they are already well on the road to emotional adultery, before they realize the risk they are in. By then, it’s much harder to stop themselves, and most are hooked on the relationship enough that they don’t want to.

Keeping ourselves faithful to our wives includes much more than not having any sexual contact with other women. More than anything, it’s a thing of the heart and the mind. That’s where unfaithfulness starts, and that’s where it ends as well. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

When Your Love Tank Runs Dry

It happens to all of us sooner or later; everything is going along more or less smoothly, when all of a sudden we find that our love tank has gone dry. It could be because your wife is going through PMS, or because she has been sick for the last couple of weeks, or even because of too much stress on the job. Regardless of what the trigger was, you feel like you’ve given all you have to give, and there’s nothing left.
Okay, so what do you do when you get to that point? If you’re like most people, you just throw in the towel and unconsciously make the decision that you’re not giving any more love out until you get some back. Like I said, it’s an unconscious decision; or maybe it’s just that you don’t make the decision to keep on giving out love. Not that you don’t love her any more, just that you’re not going to go out of your way to show it.

As men, we have a tendency to retreat into our cave when we get to that point. We go there to lick our wounds, waiting to heal and hoping somebody will come along to nurse us back to emotional health.

Is that what we should do? Is licking our wounds going to solve our problem? No, it isn’t. We need to seek out a solution to our problem; but we need to be extremely careful of how we seek out that problem. It’s extremely easy at that point in time to accept help from the wrong place, So, we need to be even more careful than normal at those times, to be sure that we don’t accept love from the wrong places.

Of course, that still leaves us with the problem of what to do, so that we can get our love tank filled back up. We could try hinting or demanding that our wife fill it up, but that probably won’t do any good. If we’re empty, there’s a good chance that our wives are too, so they can’t help.

There is one place that we can go to safely, in order to get our love tanks filled; that’s to go right to God. His love isn’t going to cause us problems, such as the love from others will. Not only that, but it’s limitless; He never runs out of love to give us.

Getting into God’s presence, whether through worship or prayer is a great way to get our love tanks filled back up to overflowing. Then, we have in abundance to give to our wives, once again. We don’t have to wait for her to do it, we can go to the Lord on our own, and get what we need directly from Him.

You see, we are commanded to love our wives, in the same way that Christ loved the church. That’s not a suggestion, that’s a commandment. It doesn’t say “love her when you feel loved” nor does it say “love her when you think that she deserves it.” No, it just says to love her as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25). As husbands, that’s our responsibility, whether she does her part or not.

Let me add one more thing to that. As we all know, men and women define love differently. What I mean by that is that we understand different things as being love. So, you can’t just love her in your way, you have to love her in a way that she understands as love as well. That’s why romance is so important; it’s what she understands as love.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hear Her Out

Two of the biggest complaints that women have about their husbands involve communication. The first of these is that we don’t spend enough time talking to them. The second one is that we don’t listen to what they say. In defense of men, I have to say that women aren’t any better at listening to their husbands than men are in listening to their wives; nevertheless, the complaint persists, and with reason.

Most men take the words “we have to talk” as being some of the most dangerous words their wife can say. That’s because women don’t use that key phrase, unless they have something major to say. “Something major” usually ends up being an attack on their husband in one way or another.

So, how do we, as men, handle that? Most of the time, by avoidance. Yes, we’re pretty good at avoiding any sort of verbal confrontation with our wives; probably because they are more verbally agile than we are, and have the ability to chop us up in little pieces with their tongues. Nevertheless, avoidance really doesn’t solve anything, all it does is prolong the problem, allowing it to grow.

Then, when we finally do sit down with them to let them get whatever it is off their chest, we have a tendency to get angry or frustrated and storm off, ending the conversation before she’s done. Once again, this provides the same results; that of not allowing her to say what she needs to say.

We have to realize that women need to talk for the purpose of getting things off their chest, more than for the purpose of getting resolution to the problem. A woman who is complaining about her marriage isn’t necessarily looking for a solution; the fact of talking about it is therapeutic in itself. However, this doesn’t mean that we should never take what they say seriously. Often, hidden within the great volume of words they use to complain, there are some facts that we really need to pay attention to.

Unfortunately, finding those facts requires really listening to what they say. I say unfortunately, because often times in those serious discussions, they say a lot of destructive things. So, to hear the important stuff, we have to suffer through allowing them to chew us up and spit us out.

Okay, so how do we do this? The biggest secret is to not take it personally. I know that’s almost impossible, but many women reflect problems in their lives onto their husbands. Their boss doesn’t hear them at work, so they say that their husband doesn’t hear them. They think they’re fat or ugly (almost all women think this) so they say that their husband thinks they are fat or ugly. They think that they’re not good lovers, so they say that their husband’s sexual expectations are too high. The list goes on and on.

Remember, the world is constantly telling her that she’s not good enough. Advertising is aimed at making her dissatisfied with herself, so that she’ll buy products which make her “better.” She feels that she has to complete with every Hollywood starlet, Playboy centerfold and supermodel to be considered “adequate.” While that isn’t true to us as husbands, that’s the message she’s receiving. Many times, the message she’s giving us is coming from those other messages she’s receiving.

So, in addition to not taking it personally, or maybe to help in not taking it personally, try to figure out where she’s really coming from. While that can be really challenging, it’s necessary nevertheless. That’s where we find the facts that we need to.

At the same time, we have to realize that none of us is perfect. Some of what she complains about may be legitimate complaints about how we aren’t meeting our obligations as men. If she complains about some part of the house being in disrepair, we should take it seriously; after all, that’s part of our responsibility. No, we don’t have to jump up from the conversation to immediately fix that thing, but we should put it on our to-do list and make sure it gets done.

More than anything, keep your cool and hear her out. She needs that. Taking the time to hear her out does a lot to building up your marriage, even while you feel like it’s tearing you down. You’re bigger than that. You can get over being torn down. But she can’t get over not being heard. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Opposites Attract

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying about how “opposites attract.” Sometimes, it almost seems like God did that just to make us suffer. I mean, it can be really difficult to get along with someone who sees everything different than you do, who reacts to everything different than you do, and who thinks totally different than you do. Yet, if God made us that way, there has to be a good reason for it.

Granted, some differences are really wonderful. How would it seem to you if women looked like men? I sure wouldn’t like that. I’m glad my wife looks different then I do. It’s also great that she’s more naturally nurturing than I am. Since we are both workaholics, if she wasn’t nurturing, our kids would probably have starved to death in dirty diapers. Many of our differences actually have helped us through the years.

That’s the point I want to make here. All those things you battle over; all those things which are different about her; they’re actually for your benefit. You see, none of us has the ability to do everything. We are all limited. Even the most talented amongst us have limitations to what we know and what we can do.

The major reason that opposites attract is that we see something in that other person which we need. They have strengths which are our weaknesses. Their abilities are things where we don’t have a clue.

When God split Adam into two people in the Garden of Eden, He knew what He was doing. He put half of the abilities in one, and the other half of the abilities in the other. Then He told them “Become one flesh once again.” Why did He say that? Yesterday I said that it was to multiply their ability, but today I want to add something to that: it was because He was trying to complete them. He was fulfilling His original plan to make Adam a more complete and capable person than he was at the beginning.

You see, those differences that you fight about are for both your benefits. Your strengths exist not just for yourself, but for her as well. Likewise, her strengths don’t just exist for her; they exist so that she might be able to help you out as well. When we start using our strengths for each other’s benefit, we both receive more, and accomplish more as well.

My wife and I have strived to do this throughout our marriage. Granted, sometimes we’ve done better than others, but we’ve always tried to use our strengths to benefit each other. Let me give you a simple example. One of my strengths is that I’m a super-organized person. Give me two of something and I have to organize it. Not only do I have to organize it, but I have to do so in a way which will be extremely efficient to work with. That’s not one of my wife’s strengths. So, when it’s time to organize something, she asks me the best way to do it.

One of the ways that this has helped us is in organizing the home. Like many families, we’ve moved a number of times through the years. Every time we move, there’s the job of organizing all our stuff so that we can live in the new place. In most couples, that’s the woman’s job. But, to leave that all to my wife would be torture for her. So, I come up with a plan for her.

Please note that I’m not dictating my will to her; I’m finding the best solution for the family and giving that solution to my wife. Take the kitchen for example. I know that many women think of that as their domain. But, my wife always asks me where things should be put in the kitchen. Why? Because what may take hours for her to decide is so clear to me that I don’t even have to hardly think about it. I can tell her the best place to put everything, so that it will be easy for us to work with (yes, I cook too).

The same thing happens in the other direction. I do a lot of writing and a lot of studying; but I’m not all that good at researching. I get bored digging through things, trying to find the one factoid that I need. On the other hand, my wife is a research queen. So, when it’s time to research something, she does it. Not only can she do a better job at it than I can, she enjoys it as well.

God made you and your wife different for a reason. It’s not to cause you problems, but rather to bless you both. That blessing can’t happen until you both quit fighting about your differences and start seeing how you can take advantage of those differences.

Why don’t you be the one to start? You probably already know the things where you are strong and your wife is weak. Okay, don’t just sit on your duff then, offer those strengths to her, for her benefit, to make things easier for her. She might be a bit suspicious at first, but it’ll be a great way to take your relationship to the next level; eliminating some causes of strife and being a blessing to each other. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Ready Hand

If we look at the story of man’s creating in Genesis one and two, we see a story that may seem a bit confusing. First of all, there seems to be two different accountings of God creating man, what appears briefly in chapter one and the more detailed account in chapter two. However, these are actually two different parts of the same story. In the first chapter, God created man’s spirit; and in the second chapter, he created man’s body, “breathing” the spirit he had created in chapter one, into the body he created in chapter two.

That’s not the only confusing thing about this story however. When God first created man, he was one. Then God divided man into two parts, making one male and the other female. Then (and this is the confusing part), He tells them to become one flesh again. If He wanted them to be one, why didn’t he leave them as one?

Okay, we know that God doesn’t make mistakes, so there has to be a purpose for this; and in fact, there is. The purpose is to multiply man’s ability. It says in Deuteronomy 32: 30, “How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight…” Look at that. There’s multiplication of ability when two work together.

One of the great benefits of marriage is our ability to multiply our ability by working together. There’s a word for this, it’s “synergy.” defines synergy as “the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements.”

While there are many reasons for marriage, one root reason is the ability for us to accomplish more, when we work together. Each contributes their part, the part that they are uniquely created to do, and together we all receive more. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

There’s just one little problem with this plan. It’s not God’s problem; nor is it a mistake that He made. The problem is that we tend to get in our own way; preventing ourselves from creating that synergy. Instead of helping each other along, each contributing our unique part to the relationship, we focus on what we can get from the other person. As long as we do that, we aren’t able to reach our full potential as a couple.

Every skill, ability and bit of knowledge you possess is something that your wife needs. It may not be obvious exactly how she needs it, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that she needs it. The trick is to figure out how those abilities can help her. Likewise, every skill, ability and bit of knowledge that she has is something you need; even when you don’t want it.

Ideally, we’d all understand this on an instinctive level and just flow with it. But, as I already mentioned, we get in our own way. More than anything, we get in our own way by our pride and our self-centeredness. As long as we let those two things rear their ugly heads up within us, we can’t be the people that God wants us to be.

Okay, so how do we start to break out of this problem? The first step is to make yourself available to help your wife, when she needs you and how she needs you. That may mean something as simple as taking out the trash or lifting a heavy box. It may mean sitting there and listening to her recount all the disasters of the day. It may mean just holding her when she needs a hug. It may mean solving a problem for her. It really doesn’t matter what it is; what matters is if you’re willing to be the person that she needs in her life.

Is this romantic? Well, maybe not in the traditional sense of the word. But, it’s romantic in the sense of drawing the two of you closer; making you more into one flesh. Isn’t that what romance is for? 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Don’t Let Her Actions Affect Your Romance

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon about men and romance. That is, men are much more likely to be romantic when their wives are sexually intimate with them. Of course, if one truly understands sexual intimacy and the affect it has on men, then that makes lots of sense. The things which are considered by women to be romantic are expressions of our love. When we feel our love tank is full, then we are much more likely to give love to our wives.

But, what about those times when our love tank feels empty, or close to empty? What do we do then? Most of the time, that’s when we forget about being romantic, holding what little love we have for ourselves. Unfortunately, that’s not going to help anything; instead, it’s just going to make her much less likely to be interested or even willing to engage in sex.

Love begets more love. When love is given, more love is created. That’s why we are more likely to express love when we are feeling loved. However, when we don’t give love, the little bit that we do have tends to die.

I heard a little story when I was a kid, which has stuck with me all these years:

There was a village where everyone walked around all day with bags of warm fuzzies. As they greeted each other on the streets, in the markets, and in their homes, they would give a warm fuzzie to each other. Everyone was always giving away their warm fuzzies, and nobody ever ran out of them. There were always plenty of warm fuzzies in their bags to give away.
Of course, this angered the evil wizard, who had a heart as cold as ice. He couldn’t stand seeing all these people giving warm fuzzies to each other all the time. So, to counter this, he made up a big batch of cold pricklies. Going down to the village, he gave everyone bags of cold pricklies; telling them that they needed to guard their warm fuzzies for themselves, or they wouldn’t have enough. Since he was considered a wise man, the people believed what he said.
So, instead of giving each other warm fuzzies on the streets, in their homes and in the marketplace, people began to give each other cold pricklies. It was much easier to give away those cold pricklies and keep their warm fuzzies for themselves. Of course, the warm fuzzies started dying off, because warm fuzzies need to be given away in order to survive.

Have cold pricklies replaced warm fuzzies in your marriage? Many couples face this problem. Sadly, in most cases they are both expecting the other one to be the first to start giving them warm fuzzies first. They are both determined to have their bag of warm fuzzies full, before giving any away.

I started writing this blog when I was receiving many more cold pricklies from my wife than I was receiving warm fuzzies. She was working as a public school teacher and didn’t have time or energy for me. From the time she woke up in the morning, till the time she went to bed at night, she was a teacher. I only got her as a wife in the ten or fifteen minutes that it took for us to eat dinner (which I prepared for her).

I’m not blaming her and I don’t want you to get the idea that my wife was wrong. Teachers work those kinds of hours. Between creating lesson plans and grading papers, the hours they aren’t in the classroom are pretty much filled up.
God challenged me to start this blog to break us out of that cycle. As I gave my wife warm fuzzies, it affected me. I found myself with more warm fuzzies to give; not because she was giving me more, but because I was giving more away. After a while, it began to affect her as well. Eventually, we got back to the point of constantly giving each other warm fuzzies.

Had I waited on her, we would probably still be giving each other cold pricklies. My love for her can’t be dependent upon her love towards me or her actions towards me. If it is, then it is merely human love and not that higher form of love that we are commanded in the Bible to give to our wives. True love, the kind that God gives us, is the kind that loves the unlovely, even when they aren’t acting lovable. You see, our responsibility isn’t to make sure that our bag of warm fuzzies is filled up, it’s to make sure that our wives bags are.

I distinctly remember a number of days when I was feeling the most unloved. On those days, God would say to me, “This is a good day to do something special for your wife.” I never agreed with Him on that, but he always won the argument. You know something? He was right!

When I overcome myself to be loving towards my wife, it is then that I truly show her that I love her. My romantic acts on those days means so much more; if not to her, then to me. My bag of warm fuzzies fills up. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Keep the Challenge Going

Today’s the last day of the CMBA’s (Christian Marriage Blogger’s Association) half marathon. Since the beginning of the month, Christian marriage bloggers have been striving to put up a post a day for the 13 days of the half-marathon. Being the last day, the thought occurred to me, “Why stop now?”

Granted, this is supposed to be a daily blog, and sometimes I actually manage to keep it that way. Although I’ll have to confess, I don’t always succeed. Trying to come up with new ways to be romantic each and every day can be a bit of a challenge; especially with all the other challenges of a busy life, work, and ministry.

However, my thinking didn’t stop with thinking about the blog, but went on to how that same attitude of continuing on needs to be in our marriage as well. Many of us guys are willing to give being romantic a try, at least for a few days or weeks; but that’s not the point. You see, just being romantic for a little while really isn’t going to get you what you want. That’s like the guy who is only romantic when he wants sex, and then once he gets what he wants, goes back to ignoring his wife and her needs.

Being romantic has to be a lifestyle. It’s not about doing something so that you can get what you want, or doing something to satisfy her, or even doing something to get her over being mad or upset. Being romantic has to become a way of life; a constant expression of your love for her, in ways that she will understand as loving. That’s a horse of a whole different color.

One of the things I’ve learned through my personal journey is that emotions follow actions. So, the best way for me to make sure that I stay in love with my wife, is to do loving things towards her. Love breeds more love. As I keep myself doing romantic things, I help myself to keep my mind focused on her, so that it isn’t distracted by other women.

The other important lesson I’ve learned (there have been many of them) is that a loving marriage can only happen when both parties are focused on the other, rather than being focused on themselves. Now, here’s the rub, one of the two has to make the emotional investment to start it.

You see, because I have invested in my wife’s emotional state, she is more interested in investing in mine. But, at the beginning of this adventure, neither of us was doing a whole lot to invest in each other. Yes, as strange as it may seem, we’d gotten to a place in our marriage, where we were both so busy with other things, that we didn’t have the time or energy to invest in each other. Somebody had to break us out of that, and I (with a big push from God) decided it had to be me.

It took a while, but my investment paid off. Funny thing is, it paid off first in me, long before it paid off in her. Like I said, emotions follow actions. So, because I was acting romantic and loving, I started feeling romantic and loving. Eventually, that rubbed off on her as well. Now, we’re both romantic and loving towards one another.

So, whatever you do, don’t give up! The journey of romance is a lifelong journey. You may find a few bumps along the way, but you can overcome them. Challenge yourself to do something romantic towards your wife each and every day, even if it’s just something small. You’ll be glad you did.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Everyone likes to be appreciated; at least, everyone I know likes to be appreciated. I suppose there’s somebody, somewhere, who at least pretends not to like being appreciated, but I’m not sure who they are or where they are. Nor for that matter am I sure why they would pretend to not like being appreciated.

Expressions of appreciation make everyone feel good. It makes them feel like what they’ve done is valued, and by extension that they are valued as well. On the other hand, when we forget to express appreciation, we send a message that they aren’t important, they aren’t valuable, and what they’ve done really doesn’t mean much of anything. That might not be the message we intend to send, but we send it nevertheless.

A few years ago, when we were buying our house, my wife was in a furniture buying mood. I don’t know what put her in that mood; after all the new house was going to be over twice the size of the rented house where we had been living. But, for some reason she decided to buy some furniture. The only thing was, in the area where we live, Craig’s List doesn’t have much good furniture.

No problem for her; she just decided to range her searches a little farther afield. She found what she wanted, all right, but the two places she found it were 250 and 300 miles from our home. So, I’m sure you can guess who got to take a road trip for our furniture. Yep, I think I hold the world record for a husband who’s been sent the farthest distance to the store by his wife.

I started out one morning at seven o’clock in my old van, with a trailer behind it, to get the furniture. I managed to get home the next morning at about three o’clock. The entire time I had been driving, or loading furniture. I was exhausted.

After loading the furniture in the house, so that nobody would steal it, I crashed. I couldn’t crash for long though, as I had to wake my wife up at six, so she could go to work. She got up, all excited to see the furniture, and headed off to work. There was only one detail that got overlooked. She forgot to say “thank you” to me for going to get it.

Now, I’m not blaming my wife for anything here. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m merely illustrating a point. Because she forgot to say “thanks” the devil was beating on my head for two weeks about how she didn’t appreciate me; how she didn’t love me; and how she was using me as a slave.

Okay, here’s my point. How many times have we forgotten to say “thank you” to our wives, and the devil has done the same thing to them? It’s really hard for anyone to feel loved, when they don’t feel appreciated and valued.

We could say that appreciation is an integral part of love. If we want our wives to feel loved, we need to make sure that they feel appreciated too. We need to make a habit of thanking them for all the little things they do. When she cooks a great meal, thank her. When she washes your clothes, thank her. When she takes the kids to their practice, so that you can relax after work, thank her. It doesn’t matter how big or little the act is, it’s important to thank her.

There’s another category of things that we should thank our wives for as well. I’ll call these the general appreciation category. They aren’t so much thanking her for a particular act that she’s done, as thanking her for being who she is. That’s important as well. Things like:
  • “Thank you for loving me”
  • “Thank you for being my wife”
  • “Thank you for being such a good mother to our kids”
  • “Thank you for overlooking my faults”
  • “Thank you for not saying ‘I told you’”
  • “Thank you for being you”

These are the type of thank you messages that can be sprinkled like salt, to flavor every day of your life. Don’t just limit yourself to that list, either. I just gave you those, to give you some ideas to get you started. Think of your own; and when you do, be sure to thank her.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kiss Breaks

The institution of the coffee break has been around ever since labor unions started complaining about working conditions. At least, I think it was them who started it. Nevertheless, it’s an institution now. Everyone gets their morning and afternoon coffee breaks, so that they can get away from their desks, grab a cup of java and talk to their buddies for a few minutes.

That is, everyone gets their coffee break, except for those who are self-employed. They keep on working no matter what. Yes, I’m amongst the ranks of those who have foresworn coffee breaks. Of course, since I’m not allowed to have caffeine, giving up decaf wasn’t much of a sacrifice.

My wife and I both work out of our home office. I write and she teaches language classes; but, we share the same office. I’ve heard all my married life (and before) that a couple shouldn’t work together, because it causes them to spend too much time together. Well, if it wasn’t for the time we spend together in the office, we might not be able to spend enough time together.

Anyway, there’s another distinct advantage of sharing an office with my wife. While I don’t take coffee breaks, I do take kiss breaks. Now, kiss breaks are highly important. Not only do they provide a great break from the workday, but they also help keep us connected. Since we both work a lot, we need to make that extra effort to keep ourselves connected. What better way than to stop a couple of times a day to kiss?

The fact of the matter is, most couples don’t kiss enough. It could be because they’re too busy, or too tired, or that they don’t like kissing in front of the kids. Regardless of the reason, they just don’t kiss enough.

Did you know that kissing is actually more intimate than sexual intercourse? Now, I realize that we’re not used to thinking of it that way, but it’s true. Prostitutes won’t kiss, even though they’ll let men do just about anything they want to their bodies. It’s possible for them to mentally “disconnect” themselves from their bodies, not allowing that to affect them. But, they can’t ignore a kiss; so they don’t allow it.

The lips are the most sensitive part of the body. That’s why babies put everything in their mouths. It’s also why kissing is so arousing sexually. Kissing stimulates us in a way that even sexual intercourse can’t.

When my wife and I were on our honeymoon, we went to Aspen, Colorado to go skiing. While we both enjoy skiing, she was a bit fearful. So, we developed a plan for skiing together. I’d ski down the hill a ways and stop to wait for her. She’d ski down to where I was. Then, we’d stop for a kiss break before continuing on. Whether or not the skiing was fun, the kiss breaks were wonderful.

Kissing also helps prepare her for other intimate activities later on. Women don’t think of sex anywhere near as often as men do. However, they can be encouraged to think about it, by the things that their husbands do outside the bedroom. Kissing is a very important part of that.

So, put some kiss breaks on your schedule. If you don’t share an office with your wife, like I do, you’ll have to find other times. Have a kiss break before you leave for work in the morning. Grab her for another one when you walk in the door in the evening. Schedule one for just after dinner, and another for just after you put the kids to bed. Whatever works for you. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Her Personal French Chef

You know, I’ve always thought it was strange that men don’t cook more. I mean, if you go to a restaurant, the cook’s probably a man. Most of the chefs in the world are men. But, and again I say but, when it comes to the home, men act like there’s no way that they could possibly cook. Something just doesn’t seem kosher about that.

Okay, maybe you’re not the world’s greatest cook. Maybe you’re not ready for your own cooking show. But, don’t tell me you can’t cook at all. I find that a bit hard to believe. If that were the case, then when your wife wasn’t there to cook for you, you’d starve.

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Personally, I don’t believe that one; I think it’s another organ, a little lower down. I’m pretty sure that it was a mother who came up with that saying, so she wouldn’t have to tell her daughter the truth. Other mothers grabbed a hold of the idea and it became common folklore.

Since women tend to expect men to react as women would (men do the same thing towards women) we might be able to grab some useful wisdom out of that saying. The reason I say that is because there’s a possibility that it might apply to women, rather than men.

Think about it. If I’m right and that saying was invented by a mother, than she was trying to project onto men what she thought they should be. Okay, where did she get that idea? She would have had to have gotten it from her own idea of what was romantic. In other words, she was projecting onto men what she thought would be romantic; her man cooking for her.

Okay, there’s a lot of supposition there, and I can’t prove any of it, so don’t go around quoting me. However, I do know from personal experience that women find it romantic when their men cook for them; especially when they cook something different, even exotic, that the women don’t cook themselves.

I used to joke that my wife married me for my cooking. We were both gourmets back then, and I was able to impress her with my prowess in the kitchen. Okay, you may not be at that level, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t impress her anyway. Make something exotic for her like crepes. They’re really not that hard, but since they’re French, they’ve got to be romantic.

If you don’t know what crepes are, they’re something like large, thin pancakes. The batter is fairly easy to whip up (look up the recipe in a cookbook or online). The major differences between that and pancake batter is that its’ runnier and it’s got more eggs. The eggs are what help keep them from falling apart when you cook them. You cook them in a frying pan, with just a touch of oil. Use a pan with sloping sides, instead of one with straight vertical sides. One crepe should fill the bottom of the pan. If you wait long enough to flip it, you can do so without it breaking.

You can fill a crepe with just about anything. What works really well is to take cream cheese, add a little milk and some powdered sugar. Then beat it with the mixer until it’s smooth. You want it to be the consistency of pudding, before it sets in the fridge. Taste it. If it’s not sweet, add more sugar. Then, once it’s sweet enough, add about a teaspoon of orange extract.

Okay, to assemble your crepes, lay one crepe on a plate and spoon a 1-1/2 inch line of cream cheese filling down the center of it. Fold the sides of the crepe over it, like a burrito. Then sprinkle some powdered sugar on top and a squiggly line of chocolate syrup. If you have a strawberry or some blueberries to put on top in the middle add those for a finishing touch.

She’s sure to be impressed by your culinary masterpiece. Who knows, your famous crepes could become a personal aphrodisiac. If not, at least they can become a way of sowing your wife that you love her.

Oh, one last detail. Be sure to clean up your mess. You can kill the romance by leaving it for her to clean up. Then, instead of gaining points, you lose them. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Romantic Homecoming

Okay, my wife came home yesterday, so it's time to wrap up my mini-series on long distance romance. But, like everything else in marriage, we want to wrap it up romantically.

Okay, so when your wife comes home, how do you greet her? Obviously, it should be something romantic. Of course, the details of the romantic act depend a lot on how she traveled and what time of the day she gets home. However, there are a few basics that will work, no matter how she traveled or what time she gets home from her trip.

First of all, this is one of those good times to fall back on one of the old standards and have flowers on hand. If you’ve got to pick her up at the airport, make sure you’ve got a bouquet in your hands. If she’s coming directly to the house, have it waiting in a vase. Either way, seeing a bouquet of flowers when she comes in the door is much nicer than seeing a sink full of dirty dishes.

The second important ingredient is having a nice meal ready for her. I don’t know about you, but when I get in the door from a trip, I’m always hungry. That could have something to do with the crummy airline meals and the high prices in airports. Nevertheless, I’m pretty much always ready for a meal when I get home, regardless of the hour.

If you don’t know how to cook, don’t use that as an excuse. You can always do takeout, grab a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket deli, or grab a pizza. Just make sure it’s ready, reasonably hot and something that she likes. It kind of ruins the romance effect when you give her a meal that she doesn’t like.

Finally, be available to her. She’s going to want to talk about her trip. Make sure you’ve got the time to sit there and listen to her. Let her tell you about what happened; the good, the bad and even the ugly. She wants to share her life with you, and that’s her way of doing so.

One other important detail. She’s probably going to be tired when she gets home. Now, I know you’ve been waiting for her, so that you could jump into bed together. However, there’s a very real chance that she’s going to be too tired for that. As hard as it may seem, let lovemaking be her decision; don’t pressure her. If you give her the time to get some rest, she’ll be much more available to you the next night, and she’ll have the energy to do something besides just lay there. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

While She’s Away – Make the House Ready

Well, my wife is still away, so I’m still talking about how to be romantic while she’s gone. I’m expecting her back soon, so I need to think about preparing for that. It’s important that her homecoming be romantic as well, something where she can unwind from her trip and get back into the groove of being home once again.

Probably the worst thing for a woman to come home to is a messy house. Any projects that were in process (see Saturday’s post) need to be wrapped up, or at least cleaned up, if they can’t be finished. But, there’s more to it than that. Yes, as scary as it may seem, it’s time to put on the maid’s apron and clean up the house.

Most guys aren’t so picky about how the house looks or how clean it is. Unless you’re one of those super-organized types (I am) things lying around don’t bother you. I mean, what’s wrong with the spare tire from the truck leaning up against the sofa? Why not keep the fishing rod on the dining room table? Who cares if the Sunday newspaper sits on the floor until next week’s arrives? Right?

Okay, maybe you and I don’t care all that much about those things, but you can be sure that your wife does. Leaving things lying around like that makes the home look like a garage in her eyes. Since she doesn’t like spending time in the garage, why would she want her home to look that way?

Then there’s the cleaning. Yes, I know, its’ easier to just ignore it. Those dishes which have been stacking up all week need to get washed. The floors need to be swept and vacuumed. The bathroom even needs to get cleaned. While I realize that it sounds like a lot, you can actually get it all done in a couple of hours. All you need is a plan and a little bit of organization.

Remember, your wife does all that stuff every week; so if she’s been gone a week, it needs to be done. Get the kids to help (a reward always helps) and clean the place up. That way, she won’t feel like she’s got to start working as soon as she walks in the door.

If you’ve ever done any traveling, you know that everyone is tired when they get home. The last thing that you want, when you walk in the door, is to have to fix the plugged up kitchen sink or mow the yard. Well, why should it be any different for your wife? Besides, if she’s been gone, I’m sure you’ve got other activities in mind, besides her cleaning. Well, if you want her to be interested, you need to make sure that she’s not going to be exhausted from cleaning the house. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Long-Distance Leadership

As men, we are called to be the spiritual heads of our homes. We occupy the place of being priests; doing the work that the priests did in the Old Testament, but in a New Testament world. Maybe it would be easier for us if we could think of ourselves as pastors, rather than priests. Both essentially have the same calling and the same job, although there is some difference in the manifestation.

As pastors, we have a responsibility towards God for the sheep He has put under our care. What sheep? Our wife and our children. If you have no other ministry, it is to pastor your family; providing them with spiritual leadership through teaching, prayer, and living a godly life before them.

Okay, so how do you do that when they are away? Does your responsibility to minister to them end when they get on an airplane or drive out of town? My wife and my daughters are out of town right now. That doesn’t mean that I’m not married to my wife, nor does it mean that I’m not my daughters’ daddy. So, if I still have that relationship with them, I am responsible to minister to them, no matter where they are.

So, once again, how does one pastor their family by long distance? It’s actually rather simple in concept, although it can be rather difficult in execution.

The short answer is to do the same things via long-distance that you do when they are close. That means continuing to pray for them, teach them the Word, demonstrate Christ-likeness and provide Biblical counsel when they need it.

Whatever you do, don’t take their absence to mean that you’re on vacation from your responsibilities. Those God-given responsibilities exist as long as you are alive. You just need to adapt your methodology. Send a word of encouragement via a text message; e-mail a revelation that the Holy Spirit has given you; let them know that you’re praying for them; and whatever you do, make sure that you are available to them when they need you.

You see, true leadership transcends time and space. Generals in the army have to lead people who are scattered across thousands of miles. Often, the only contact they have with those people is through the radio. If they can do it, we can as well. True leadership isn’t about the authority you exert over someone’s life, but about the influence you have in it. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Quick, She’s Gone, Let’s Get that Project Done!

I’ve been on a theme here about being romantic with your wife while she’s out of town. While distance can cause challenges for romance, that doesn’t mean that we should give up on romance when she’s away. For that matter, why not take advantage of the time to make a super homecoming for her. There’s no such thing as overwhelming her with too much romance, so stack up those romance points while you can.

Women identify with their home. I’ve talked about this before, specifically mentioning that when the home is a mess, she feels like she’s a mess. Conversely, when the home gets a face lift, she feels almost as good as if she’s received it (without the pain).

I’m a bit of a handyman, so I’ve always got some sort of project going on around the house. Sometimes, those projects get started one weekend and don’t get finished for months. It seems like there are always other things that come along, keeping projects from getting wrapped up. Anyway, you can be sure that those unfinished projects bug my wife, just like they bug yours.

If she’s out of town for a few days, it’s a great time to take advantage of the time and get a project done. Having her out of the house means that she’s not going to have to see the mess you make, doing the project. Not only that, but you won’t have her telling you how to do it (an added benefit for you).

When I was a teenager, my mom went out of town for some event over the weekend. My dad took advantage of the opportunity to redo their walk-in closet. He pulled everything out of it and redid the interior, adding shelves, half height clothes rods and shoe racks. When she came home, everything was back in the closet, all organized and in its proper spots.

That really made an impact on my mom. He hadn’t even talked to her about the project, but had decided on his own to do it. So, when she came home, it was a total surprise. She’d been complaining about not having enough room in the closet, and now she had enough.

The idea here is to time it so that the project is finished before she gets home. That way, she won’t be bothered by the mess; instead, she’ll be presented with the finished project. That will be almost like giving her a gift. The gift will have even more impact if the project you do is something that she’s wanted. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

When the Cat's Away...

Okay, anyone who read my blog post this morning might have gotten the idea that my wife is out of town. Well, let me start by confirming that. She left at 0-dark-thirty this morning to go to her mother’s funeral. Fortunately, her mother accepted the Lord two weeks before passing away, so we’re rejoicing that she’s probably happier now than she has ever been in her life.

Anyway, that’s why I’m talking about how to be romantic while your wife is traveling, because that’s what I’m trying to do right now.

So, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.” Before entering the ministry, I had to do a fair amount of business traveling. Unfortunately, some of the times I was traveling, I had to travel with co-workers who seemed to forget that they were married, as soon as they got on the airplane. Other times, their wives had to travel, and they talked like they were free and single once again.
Okay, obviously as Christians we don’t want to act like that. But, I want to go a little farther. Because, you see, it’s not just what we do, but what our wives think we do that matters. You might think that her thoughts are her problem, but I’d have to disagree. Often, her thoughts become our problems.

Of course, many of those thoughts are put there by “friends,” family members, neighbors and co-workers that our wives have to put up with. It’s like everyone wants to convince them that their husband couldn’t be faithful, because there’s no such thing as a faithful man. While I know that many women have reason to think this way, I also know that we, as believers, have to make sure that we aren’t this way.

Once again, we need to go one step further. It’s not enough that we don’t do anything wrong; I firmly believe that we need to be so committed to our wives that they would laugh at the idea that we could be unfaithful. I’m not talking about a blind faith that they might have in us; I’m talking about a faith in us that’s based upon reality.

We have to realize that not only are those “friends” trying to convince our wives that we’re unfaithful, the enemy is actively trying to convince them of it as well. While she needs to “cast down every vain imagination” we need to make it easy for her to do that.

Okay, so how do we do that? I think there are a couple of very important things which we need to demonstrate to our wives. The first one is that she needs to see that we don’t look at other women. Take my word for it; your wife knows if you are looking at other women. She can recognize the hot chicks out there just as well as you can. But she doesn’t stare at them, she looks to see if you are.

The next thing we need to do is keep in communication with her while we are apart. When I was traveling for business, I made it a point to call my wife every day, no matter where I was. Now, most of my travels are out of the country, so it’s much harder to keep in touch with her. Nevertheless, I keep in contact with my wife, whether I’m texting her from Mexico or sending her e-mails from Colombia.

Finally, we need to make sure that our wife knows that she is loved. A woman who feels loved by her husband is much less likely to accept the idea that he’s fooling around. Of course, a man who is acting in love towards his wife is much less likely to fool around as well, so it works well from both sides. When she knows that she is loved, it’s much easier for her to cast down those vain imaginations, because she knows the truth; and she knows that the truth is in her favor.

So, what to do when the cat’s away? Play a game of finding ways to express your love to your wife, just as if you were both at home. 

While She's Away

If you’re like me, you’ve had to do some occasional business traveling through the years. Of course, when one is business traveling, it’s always a good idea to bring home gifts for the wife and kiddies. While that can get a bit expensive at times, it’s something that everyone expects. But, what about when your wife has to travel? Does that mean it’s your turn to receive a gift from her?

While there’s a pretty good chance that she’s going to bring you a gift back, that doesn’t mean that you should be expecting it. Expecting things is a good way to get disappointed. It’s better to not have any expectations, and be pleasantly surprised if she does it.

Of course, if you are expecting a gift and she doesn’t bring you one, you’re going to be disappointed. Since disappointments breed discontentment, that’s something you want to avoid. By the way, that’s not just true with gifts, but in all areas of your marriage.

Anyway, this blog isn’t about her being romantic to you (although I’ve thought about doing something like that a time or two), it’s about you doing romantic things for her. So, how can you use her traveling out of town as an opportunity to be romantic towards her? What can you do, to make her know that you’re thinking of her, and help her think of you at the same time?

There are actually several opportunities that her being out of town offer you, all of which are romantic and will make her feel your love while she’s away. Here are a few:
  • Buy a small gift and hide it in her luggage for her to find when she gets to her destination.
  • Make an “I love you” card and hide it in her luggage for her to find when she gets to her destination.
  • Have flowers delivered to her hotel room. (Be sure to sign the card, so she doesn’t think that a business associate is making a pass at her.)
  • Send her an old fashioned telegram expressing your love.
  • Send a love letter to her hotel. Mail it early so that it will be awaiting her when she arrives.
  • Contact the hotel and arrange for a fruit basket to be awaiting her in her room.
  • Be sure to call her; don’t wait for her to call you. (By the way, hotels charge ridiculous prices for long-distance calls.)

As you can see, most of these ideas are merely a long-distance version of what you would do if she were in town. It might require a bit more planning, but it’s not that hard to be romantic by long-distance. Besides, you want her to be ready to be back together with you, when she gets home.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Notice Her!

When was the last time you tool a good look at your wife? I mean a really good look. Can you close your eyes and see her face? Do you know what color her eyes are? Can you describe her hair style? Do you know her favorite clothing colors and styles?

It’s awfully easy to get to the point where your wife just kind of fades into the background; especially if you’re not focused on her. It’s almost as if she becomes part of the furniture. But, she’s not furniture, she’s the most important person in your life.

Now, if you’re reading this blog, I’m sure that you think of her that way, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re aware of everything that’s going on with her. Many changes in life happen slowly enough that they aren’t easy to notice; especially some of the changes that we most want others to see. Take weight loss, for example. That’s a slow process, but who doesn’t like to hear somebody tell them, “It looks like you’ve lost some weight.”

Women do things to change their looks all the time. They change their hair, change their makeup and change their clothing style. The question is “Do we notice?” Unfortunately, most of the time, our answer is “No.”

Okay, so why is that an issue? First of all, pretty much all women are insecure about their looks. They want to be beautiful, but don’t think they are. Even the world’s most beautiful women look at others and wish that they looked like “that” (whatever that is). How much more for a woman who isn’t a supermodel?

In addition to that, a woman who isn’t complimented by her husband feels unfulfilled. Words of Affirmation are supposed to be one of the Five Love Languages. Personally, I think it’s a love language that all women need to hear. So, when we don’t give them those words, we’re not affirming them. Instead of making them feel good, it’s as if we’re sending the message, “You and what you do, aren’t important.”

Finally, noticing her and how she looks, especially the good parts, is going to help you stay in love with her. Hey, we’re visual. So we need to make sure we’re seeing the right things, especially that we’re seeing the right woman. We don’t need to be looking at the other ones.

When she changes her hair, notice it; say something about it. Likewise when she’s got a new dress on. Don’t ask how much it cost, comment about how she looks, and make sure that the comments are positive. She needs that affirmation. She needs to know that she still catches your eye. She needs to know that when you look at her, you see a beautiful woman, whom you’re glad you married. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Watch What You Say

Do you remember that saying we used to have when we were kids, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me”? I’m sure you do. It was used whenever someone said something mean to another, as a way of showing that it didn’t really bother them. Of course, it actually did bother them, but they tried to pretend that it didn’t.

I’m not really sure where that little ditty came from, but I don’t think there was ever a bigger lie told in the history of mankind. Not even politicians can beat that one, and most of them are really good liars. The thing is, the injuries from sticks and stones may break bones, but bones heal pretty well. On the other hand, names, or other cruel words, can cause wounds that last a lifetime.

Our words are much more powerful weapons than anything else we can use. Unfortunately, they are weapons which are often used without restraint, without forethought and without consideration of their effect. How many times do we say things that later we wish we could take back?

You are probably still carrying wounds from things that people have said to you. You may even be carrying wounds from things that your wife has said to you. Often, in the midst of a heated discussion things are said that shouldn’t be; things that may not even be true, may not be what the person thinks most of the time, but at that moment, they pierce right through the recipient, leaving a festering sore for the rest of their life.

When we were dating our wives, we were careful with our words, at least, most of us were. We didn’t want to say anything to offend her or hurt her. We definitely didn’t want to say anything that would make her leave us, whatever we did. Yet, somewhere along the line, it seems that we lose that concern. Perhaps it’s something that gets lost through the various heated discussions that most couples have. Perhaps it’s something that comes from becoming comfortable around her. Regardless of the reason, it happens, and we’d all be better off if it didn’t.

Think about it. If you love your wife, why in the world would you ever want to say something to hurt her? Nevertheless, we all seem to manage to do so, often without even realizing what we’re saying.

That right there is the key. We need to become more aware of what we are saying and the potential impact of those words. Most marital offense comes from misunderstandings. However, being a misunderstanding doesn’t make the offense any less real. It’s quite real, and quite painful. The trick is to avoid saying those things. How? By paying more attention to what we say. If we engage the brain before opening the mouth, we’re much more likely to avoid saying those sorts of things.

Remember, women are wooed by our words, not by our looks. If you want your wife to love you, you’ve got to use words to capture her heart. Words can be positive or negative and it seems that one negative word can undo the work of 100 positive ones. So, watch out for those negative ones. Put a guard upon your lips and check each thing you are going to say, before saying it.

Whatever you do, don’t say the first thing that comes to your minds. All too often, that’s the worst thing we can say. In fact, that’s where most of the hurtful sarcasm, biting comments and put-downs come from. If we can just take that second to review what we are going to say, before we say it, then we can trap those things which will hurt our wives, even before they leave our mouths.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Who Says You Need a “Boys Night Out?”

All through growing up and as an adult I’ve heard of the infamous “boy’s night out.” It seems that a lot of men think that they need one night a week where they get away from their wives and kiddies to go hang out with their buddies. It doesn’t matter if that night is their bowling league or club or poker game, it’s as regular as clockwork, an important part of their week.

Wait a minute! I don’t know about you, but I didn’t marry my wife so that I could “get away” from her. I married her so that I could be with her. Why should I take one-seventh of my nights and make sure that I’m not with the person that I married to be with? That doesn’t make sense at all.

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have friends; nor am I saying that we should never spend time with those friends. What I’m really talking about here is priorities. It seems to me, with as much trouble as most couples have in trying to find a date night, that having a night out with the guys every week just makes it harder to be with the most important person in my life.

Of course, you could argue that we all need recreation. I agree, I need recreation just as much as anyone, and definitely don’t get enough of it. But, I can choose the types of recreational activities that I choose to do. Specifically, I can choose whether those activities include my wife or not. So, if that choice is mine, then I’d much rather choose activities which include her, rather than choose ones that exclude her.

Before my wife and I got married, I went hunting, fishing and camping like a lot of men. I rode a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle to work whenever I could, rather than drive my car. Those were things that I enjoyed, so I did them. But then I married my wife. She doesn’t enjoy hunting or fishing. The one time we went camping was a disaster, and she was afraid of my motorcycle. I had to make a choice.

A lot of guys would say that I made a great sacrifice in giving those things up. Really, there was nothing about sacrifice in it. What happened was that when I married my wife, my priorities changes. Since she was so important to me, those other things paled by comparison. So, it wasn’t so much that I gave them up for her, as they just sort of fell off my list of priorities. If it came down to being with her or fishing with the guys, I’d rather be with her. Besides, she’s much better looking than my buddies were.

It’s easy to get to the point in life where we have too many priorities. Unfortunately, adding priorities doesn’t add hours to the day. Every time we add a priority to our lives, we have to take something off the list. That’s what happened with me. But, the opposite can happen just as well. I can add priorities to my list, which prevent me from being with my wife and cause me to treat her like she’s not important.

If there’s anything that’s the opposite of being romantic, it’s sending the message that she’s not important. That’s the last message that any of us want to be sending. But, if we’re not careful to make sure that we don’t send that message, it can creep in when we’re not even looking.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Loving Her in Her Car

You know, I’m firmly convinced that it would be impossible to ever tell my wife that I love her too many times. She’s never rolled her eyes when I’ve said that; never plugged her ears, and never told me to quit. If anything, she wants me to tell her that I love her even more than I do.

The trick isn’t finding times to tell her that I love her, but rather in finding new ways to do so. Romance needs variety; even the most romantic act can become routine, if it’s done over and over. So, I feel that even something as simple as telling her I love her needs variety. I need to find new ways of expressing myself, so that those words have the greatest possible impact.

I’m sure you’ve seen cars that were decorated for a wedding. Hopefully, you’ve even had your car decorated by your friends. You know what I mean; writing “Just Married” on the back windshield, tying cans and old shoes to the bumper, maybe a few hearts on the side windows. The typical stuff.

People do the same thing for their favorite high-school football team. At least, they do in the area where I live. Of course, Texans gets little bit more carried away with high-school football than the residents of other states do. It’s such a phenomenon here, that even National Geographic did a piece on it. Anyway, lots of people paint their car windows with slogans and team names, in the team colors of course, especially right before a big game.

Okay, so what’s so romantic about that? Well, we can use the same type of lo-tech approach to send our wives a message that we love them. All you need is a bottle of liquid shoe polish or some tempera paint (tempera paint is water-based, so it won’t damage the car).

Okay, so all you need to do is paint “I Lnve You” on the back windshield of her car. I suppose you could paint “I Lnve My Wife” there instead, if you like that better. To really do it good, paint it backwards, so that she can read it in the mirror.

If possible, make sure that her car is parked in such a way that she approaches it from the front. That way, she might not see your message until she looks in the rear view mirror. While that may not be possible for you, if you can manage it, it will make the surprise even better.

You see, there’s always an imaginative way to tell your wife that you love her, all you need is an active imagination. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just Overlook It

Yesterday, I talked about telling your wife all the things you love about her; today I want to talk about the opposite. No, I’m not talking about telling her everything you don’t like about her. If you’re like most people, you do too much of that already. What I want to talk about is how you deal with those negative things.

If you think about it, there’s something about everyone you know that bugs you. It might be a bad habit they have, it might be the way they do a certain thing, it might even be an attitude that you think they have towards you. Regardless of what it is, you put up with it for that relationship.

Re-read that last sentence. Now, why is it that we are so apt to overlook things that our friends and co-workers do, in order to maintain our relationship with them, but we have trouble doing the same thing with our wife? It would seem to me that love would make it easier to overlook something that doesn’t agree with us; but in most cases, we find more things that bother us in our mates, than we do in our friends. Why is that?

I think a lot of it has to do with proximity. Granted, we spend a fair amount of time with our co-workers; but we don’t live with them. Even in an organization where people are known to “let down their hair” we all live with masks on. So, we don’t usually see those people at their worst, we see the side of them that they have decided to show at work. Not only that, but we don’t see them at their most vulnerable moments either.

On the other hand, we see our wives in the worst of times; when everything has gone to pot. We also see them in those moments when there isn’t any mask; times when they are relaxed and unlikely to bother hiding who they are. Finally, we see them when they are dealing with the things that nobody else sees; all the little irritating things of life, which take away their importance.

There’s another aspect of this which I need to mention. When we were dating, we created a perfect image of her in our minds. That’s the standard that we expect her to live up to each and every day. When my wife and I first started dating, she was living four hours away, up in the mountains. She’d come down to the city every weekend to see me and take care of business. On the way, she’d have rollers in her hair and be putting on her makeup. So, when she arrived, she looked perfect. That’s the image that was formed in my mind.

Now, three kids and over 25 years later, I’ve seen my wife with the rollers in her hair and even the times when she didn’t have time to put the rollers in her hair. So, even though I have that perfect image in my mind, I also have the real image. The two may not always be the same.

Okay, so what do we do when we find that our wives aren’t perfect? How do we deal with that, so that it doesn’t become a destructive force in our marriage? I’d recommend going back to what we did when we were dating. You see, those “defects” were there back then. She really wasn’t perfect; you just thought she was. Think back and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

So, what did you do then? You overlooked those defects. That’s it. You concentrated on the good, and didn’t bother looking at the not-so-good. Well, if you could do that then, why can’t you do that now? What’s changed? Don’t blame it on her, because it’s really not her fault. What has changed is you and your perception of her. That’s what needs to be dealt with.

When you overlook any flaws in your wife, it’s much easier to concentrate on the good. When you focus on the good, it’s much easier to love her. When you love her, it’s much easier to be romantic. And, when you’re romantic, it’s much easier for her to love you.