Monday, April 30, 2012

Midnight Massage

Ever have one of those days? I’m sure you know what I mean; one of those days that just seem to go on forever, with nothing really going right. Oh yeah, they’re called Mondays; that’s right. Seems like they come around once a week to get us; generally right after we’ve enjoyed our weekend. Why is it that Monday’s think that they’ve got the right to steal the joy of our weekends, anyway?

Well, guess what? If Mondays get to you, there’s a pretty good chance that they get to your wife as well. She faces the same problems, the same difficult people and the same shock in switching from weekend mode to work week mode as you do.

We’ve talked about making Friday night our date night and helping her to unwind on Fridays, so that she’s ready for the weekend; but what about Mondays? I think it would be rather difficult to make Mondays into a date night as well. So, that idea’s out; but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything on Mondays to help her get over the shock of staring work once again.

Since Mondays are stressful, it seems to me that we need a stress-busting activity to help her get through it. Of course, it would be even better if it was a stress-busting activity that worked for both of us; but let’s concentrate on her for the moment. Maybe, after her stress is gone, she’ll reciprocate in kind.

So, when was the last time you gave your wife a massage? I mean, a real massage, not just rubbing her shoulders for a minute or so. We’re talking full body massage here, from her neck down to the soles of her feet.

Well, why not give her one tonight. Wait till the kids go to bed and have at it. Dig out the massage oil and the vibratory massager, and help her bleed away all the stress of her Monday. Turn your bedroom into a massage parlor, complete with some soft music, low lighting, and of course, the expert masseuse… you.

Okay, to do this right, she’s going to have to get rid of all those clothes that are in the way. Have her lay on the bed, face down, and turn on the massager. Take your time to run it all over her body, concentrating on her shoulders, spine and lower back. If she spends a lot of time on her feet, make sure you get her calves real well too. Work the knots out of her muscles, going back over those critical areas, to hit them again.

Don’t stop there. Now grab the massage oil and start working on her with your hands. Once again, be sure to get the shoulders, lower back and legs. Take a few minutes to work on the soles of her feet; just don’t tickle them. You should have her purring in no time. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Take the Time to Listen

I remember an episode of the TV program “Doc.” A woman patient had complained about eye problems and the star of the show asked for her mascara (that’s the makeup women use on their eyelashes, for anyone who doesn’t know). He sniffed it and told her to throw it out and buy a new one, it was rancid. She was impressed and asked how he knew that the problem was her mascara. He responded, “I just listened to you.”

The next day, when he arrived at the clinic, he found the waiting room filled with that woman’s friends. They hadn’t come for any medical reason, just that they wanted to see him, like an animal in the zoo. They were all impressed in seeing a man who actually listened.

Women all over the world complain that their husbands never listen to them. While I think that might be slightly exaggerated, I’d have to agree that it’s based on a core truth, men basically don’t take the time to listen to their wives. All too often, we tune them out, making their words part of the background, while we think about something else.

Granted, a lot of what a woman says may seem like unimportant drivel to us guys; but it isn’t to them. Just because we’re not interested in what Suzie said about Megan doesn’t mean that our wives don’t consider it of grave importance; in fact, it might actually be important.

The thing is, right in the middle of talking about the local gossip, her problems dealing with the kids and the delivery man and all the other things that our wives talk about, they do talk about things that are important to both of us. It’s just that we have to filter out the filler, and concentrate on mining out those nuggets.

I can just see it now, a couple are talking over dinner, or should I say that she’s talking over dinner, while he’s staring off into space. Right in the middle of everything else, she drops in a sentence about how she hit a concrete post in the car that day; then she goes on to speak about other things. Because her husband isn’t listening, he misses that detail and writes off the whole conversation to his wife just using up her daily quota of words.

The next day, he gets up and as he’s leaving for work, he sees her car, with the front fender bashed in. Yelling, he storms back into the house and throws open the door to their bedroom, confronting his wife. “Why didn’t you tell me you got in an accident yesterday?” To which she responds, “I told you last night at dinner.” Of course, he doesn’t believe her, even though it’s the truth; because he hadn’t been paying attention to all the other things she said.

Listening is an acquired skill. You really can learn to listen to your wife; filtering out the unnecessary and concentrating on the important. Regardless of what you think, it’s not torture to listen to her; you actually used to like to do it when you were dating.

The key isn’t so much letting her words enter into your ears, it’s in paying attention to the message those words are conveying. It doesn’t count as listening to be sitting there while she’s talking, but you’re thinking about something else. To be listening, you need to take the time to focus your attention on her, paying attention to her words.

Women need their husbands to hear them. This is an actual need, not just a desire. Their emotional stability depends upon the ability to get things off of their hearts. That’s what listening to her does. When she’s sitting there over dinner, talking about everything that went wrong in her day, she’s not looking for solutions, she’s looking to unload her heart, so that she can feel better. Just letting her talk about it does her a world of good.

Do you realize that’s all psychologists do? They get paid the big bucks to sit there and let people talk about their problems. They don’t solve anyone’s problems. They don’t have any magical answers; they just listen.

Your wife doesn’t need some high-priced shrink to hear what she says; she needs you to do so. That will give her the outlet she needs, and you might even find out a few things that you need to know. Listen to her.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Making Your Strengths Available to Her

There’s an old saying about relationships, which says that opposites attract. While that often causes us frustration, it is actually a rather important part of making a couple work well together. Unfortunately, all too often, we let the frustration overcome the benefits, allowing those differences to pit us against one another, instead of using them to benefit one another.

I remember the very first couple who came to my wife and I for marriage counseling. She started off by saying, “every time the Lord shows me something from the Bible and I share it with my husband, he comes back with something totally different.” My response to that was, “What a blessing.” You see, while she was seeing it as disagreement between the two of them, I was seeing it as a way for them to receive more. If she learned one thing from the verse and he learned another; when they shared what they learned, they’d have twice as much.

That short discussion illustrates so well the way that we typically approach our differences. Instead of seeing those differences as strengths that we can use to help our spouse, we all tend to see them as points of contention. As long as we’re busy arguing about our differences, we’ll never gain anything from them.

It takes time and effort to learn to understand those differences and how they can be a help. My wife and I have catalogued a whole list of differences between us. But, instead of me getting frustrated with her, because she’s not as organized as I am, we have come to realize that when it comes time to organize something, I’m the one to do it. I don’t berate her lack of ability, I use my ability for her benefit.

One of the areas in which my wife is much stronger than I am is in research. When I get on the Internet, looking for some data about something, I get lost. Rarely can I find what I want. On the other hand, my wife can find anything on the Web. Not only that, but she enjoys spending hours doing so. Me? I’m bored after five minutes.

Each and every difference, characteristic and ability that we find in ourselves and each other exists for a purpose. When we learn how to use those, differences to the benefit of the couple, then we start to become strong. Then we begin to see a multiplication of our ability. Then we truly start to advance.

When you see that your wife isn’t as good as you are at something, don’t belittle her for it; see it as an area where you can help her. I don’t mean helping her by teaching her how to have your strength, but by using your strength for her benefit. If your wife needs to us the computer for her work, but isn’t all that good at it, help her. Develop aids which will make it easier for her. Find better ways for her. Even do some of the work for her, if that’s what it takes.

You see, marriage isn’t about what you can do as an individual; it’s about what you can do as a couple. If helping her do something makes you more successful as a couple, then it’s worth doing; in fact, it’s probably more worth doing than what you do to make yourself successful as an individual.

Let her benefit from your strengths. Don’t just expect her to be a help to you; become a help to her. Is that romantic? You bet it is. It’s romantic, because it helps you to function as one in your daily life. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Don't Take it Out on Her

All of us are overtaken by bad days once in a while. Let’s face it, life has problems. As long as we’re living on the earth, we’re going to be faced with things which try and ruin our day. We’re going to have to put up with annoying co-workers, demanding bosses, difficult customers and cars which break down at the wrong time. It’s just part of life.

While we can’t control the things that happen to us and around us, we can control how we react to them. If I were to throw a bucket of cold water over you, you might yell back at me, “You’ve made me wet and you’ve made me mad.” But, that wouldn’t be true. All I did was to make you wet; you decided to get mad all on your own. You could have chosen to laugh at it instead.

Most people think that they don’t have any control over their anger or depression, but in fact we do. We can choose not to be angry, offended or depressed; we don’t have to let those things control us. Don’t try and tell me that you’ve never held it inside when your boss or co-worker did something that made you want to yell at them. How could you keep from yelling at them, if you don’t have any control over yourself?

The reality is that we keep ourselves from reacting, when we think that the cost of the reaction will be too high. Yelling at the boss might carry the price tag of ending up on unemployment, so we try and avoid that one. Instead of yelling at those people, we take it home and yell at our families.

Throughout history, wives have had to put up with husbands who took out their problems on them. That’s really not fair, but that hasn’t stopped it from happening. Men who can’t blow up at work, instead wait till they get home and blow up at their wives. Why in the world would anyone ever choose to do that?

Actually, we don’t really choose to blow up at our wives instead of our bosses. What we do is choose not to blow up at our bosses. Then, when we get home, we feel safe. So, what we had bottled up inside all day ends up coming out at those who are closest to us. Something they do irritates us, and instead of reacting rationally and reacting at an appropriate level for the problem, we react irrationally, allowing all the pain and frustration we had bottled up inside to come out at our wives.

This is fundamentally destructive to the marriage relationship. Many women get to a point where they are afraid to talk to their husbands, because of the way that their husband is going to react. Communication begins to break down and the couple grows farther apart.

Okay, so how do we fix the problem? First of all, you need to be honest with yourself and decide whether or not you’ve done this. Then, if you have, go to your wife, repent and ask her forgiveness. Let her know that you’re aware of what you’ve done and that you’re going to work on changing that in the future.

The easiest way to prevent yourself from repeating that poor performance is to find a way of getting rid of the negative attitude, without dumping it on your wife. There are a number of ways in which you can do this, such as:
  • Forgive the person – you’d be amazed what the simple act of saying “I forgive them” can do
  • Spend time in prayer – the more you pray, the less things can bother you
  • Spend time in worship – the presence of the Lord is a great cleanser for the heart
  • Physical activity – while not a very spiritual option, many men find that exercise helps them release the tension

Often, the best thing we can do, until we can deal with the frustration and anger is to keep our mouths shut. That way, we don’t dump on anyone. Then, if you need to get alone, away from your wife and kids, so that you can get rid of the negative feelings, do so. Just let them know that you need some time alone.

Don’t use this as an excuse to ignore your family. You should be able to deal with your problem within a half hour. If it takes longer than that, you’re probably rehearsing the offense in your mind, rather than trying to get rid of it.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the tension and problem and straightened out your attitude, then you’re ready to deal with your family in the way that they deserve. This will protect your marriage, keep your wife from feeling unloved and keep you from destroying any “points” you’ve gained with your wife for being romantic.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Trail of Kisses

Every once in a while, I like to use chocolate in a romantic act. It could have something to do with my wife and I both being chocoholics. Then again, it could have something to do with her really craving chocolate when she was going through menopause. Whatever the reason, chocolate has long been an important part of our marriage.

I imagine that we’re not alone in this; at least the evidence seems to point that way. On Valentine’s Day, chocolate is one of the classic gifts. When a man is looking for a way to make up to his wife for some slight, chocolate is right there at the top of the list. Interestingly enough, the most popular post of all time on this blog is about chocolate as well. So, I’d have to say that there are a lot of couples out there who are as almost as much chocoholics as we are.

There’s something about Hershey’s Kisses which speak romance to me. Now, we really like the high dollar, fancy chocolate truffles; but they just don’t have that same name. C’mon, what could be more romantic than kissing? I think the Hershey family was up to something when they came up with that name. Who knows, maybe they created them to be romantic.

Hershey’s has even gone a step further and come out with a variety of different Kisses now. They’ve even got one called “Hugs.” So, you can have your hugs and kisses both in chocolate. Since my wife and I are partial to dark chocolate, we were really glad to see them come out with Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses. I mean, how much more romantic can you get than that?

Okay, so what are we going to do with these wonderful, romantic candies? How about this; buy a bag of your bride’s favorite variety or more than one, and use them to make a trail. Wait until sometime when she’s out of the house, to make your trail. Start from the door she’ll be coming in, and place Kisses every four to six inches through the house. If you can find a small basket somewhere, like a miniature Easter basket, put it next to the head of the trail, so she’ll have something to put the Kisses in. Somewhere along the way, leave a small wrapped gift for your wife; but don’t let the trail end there. Have it continue to wherever you are.

Then, you can be waiting at the end of the trail, to give your bride another type of kisses. By then, she’ll probably be ready to enjoy both kinds.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cover Her with Your Prayers

As the priests of our homes, one of the important things we need to do is make sure that we keep our wives and children in prayer. Of all the things we do as men, this has to be one of the most important. Yet, it’s hard to get men to pray, much harder than it is to get women to do so.

When we pray for our wives, it gives them a sense of security, knowing that we are seeking the greatest power in the universe, on their behalf. It is one of the most selfless acts there is; one in which we lay down our lives, in the sense of our own desires, for those of the other person.

When you pray for your wife, it’s important that she knows you are doing so. Not just that you tell her “I prayed for you today;” but that she sees and hears you doing so. Not that her hearing it will make the prayer any more effective, because it won’t. But her hearing that prayer will let her know how serious you take your responsibility to be priest over her.

God has given us as men the capacity to be aggressive and violent; not that we might use it against our families, but for them. Prayer, especially prayer to protect our families is a violent act. It’s not just mumbling some petition to God, but rather standing in the gap, rebuking all that might try and come against them. Quite literally, it’s telling the devil, if you want to get to them, you’ve got to go through me first.

Although the women’s libbers will get mad at me for saying so, God never intended for women to be alone. In ancient times, a woman who was unmarried lived at home. A widow would go back to live at home, or live with another family member. This wasn’t because of male chauvinism, but rather so that the woman would have provision and especially protection.

A woman alone is vulnerable to many attacks. Yet, women whose husbands don’t pray for them are just as vulnerable. Without her husband’s prayer covering, it is much too easy for the enemy to come after her; attacking her health, her security and especially her emotions.

Pray for your wife. Let her see you doing so. Let her know that she is so important to you, that you go to the most high on her behalf, each and every day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bring Her Breakfast

Saturdays are a great day to sleep in, aren’t they? Getting to take your time getting up; not having to rush to get to work; having the chance to have a leisurely cup or two of coffee. All this leisure makes Saturdays a great day to get away from the week’s regular grind.

Is Saturday morning relaxing for your wife as well? Does she get to sleep in, have her coffee and take her time starting the day? Or, does she have to get up, feed the kids and get them off to their activities?

You see, that old saying about a woman’s work never being done is the truth. There’s always something which she’s got to do; generally something that deals with taking care of your family. So, while you’re enjoying a relaxing Saturday morning, she might not be. For her, it might be just another day in which she needs to do all her usual things.

Why not make Saturday different for your wife? Why not give her the chance to sleep in, rest and take it easy? It’s really not all that hard to do. All it takes is a quick trip out to come back with breakfast. Save her the trouble of fixing breakfast, by taking a moment to go out to your favorite place and bring it back.

Here in Texas, we have breakfast tacos available at the local convenience stores. It’s easy to run out to the corner and come back with breakfast. While that may not be the same where you are; I’m sure there’s something similar that you can find. All it takes is knowing where things are in your area. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Read Together

As I’ve said more than once, spending time together is a major part of being romantic. Love, without time, tends to wither, like a plant that isn’t given water. I guess that we could say that spending time together is the way that we water the garden of our love.

Of course, spending time together doesn’t mean just sitting in front of the television, vegetating. For that time to be valuable, it has to be spent doing something together, not just being in each other’s presence. My wife and I share an office. I have my desk with my computer to work on and she has hers. But, just because we’re in the office working at the same time, doesn’t mean that we’re spending time together. For it to count as time together, we’ve got to be focused on one another.

Finding activities where we are actually focused on one another, instead of just focused on something else in each other’s presence, adds another layer of complexity to the equation. Other than taking, which a lot of us guys aren’t all that comfortable doing, it can be hard finding things to do together, where we’re really together and not just in the same room.

One activity which we can do together as a couple, where we can be focused on each other is to read together. Now, it’s obvious that to do this, you’ll have to find a book which you’ll both be interested in. I guarantee you that your wife isn’t going to be interested in reading a car repair manual with you; nor can I see her wanting to spend time together reading about how to prepare your own income taxes.

The best books for this are marriage and relationship related ones. There are a lot of good marriage related books out there, which you can actually enjoy together. Who knows, you might even learn something about how to have a better marriage, while you’re at it.

Another benefit to reading these types of books together is that they help you to talk about your relationship. You see, reading together isn’t just reading what’s on the page, but interjecting your own comments, talking about the ideas that the book is presenting and come up with your own ways of integrating those ideas into your marriage.

I’d recommend starting with something that’s not going to be threatening to either of you; like Smalley’s “The Language of Love,” or Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages,” or even Harley’s “His Needs, Her Needs.” These books are more about understanding each other, than telling one or the other of you that you need to do something. That’s what makes them non-threatening. On the other hand, a book which says “you need to do this to be a good husband” or “you need to do this to be a good wife” can come across as an attack.

Remember, you want to be able to talk about what you’re reading. That can only happen when you’re reading something that is non-threatening. If you pick a book that attacks one of you, then the possibility of positive conversation is greatly limited.

Enjoy taking some time to learn something new together. Not only will it be a great way of spending time together, but it will also be a great way of learning to know each other even better. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Love Coupons

Okay, so this idea isn’t all that original; that doesn’t make it any less valid than other ideas which I’ve presented in this blog. In fact, many ideas which last do so simply because they work. Well, this is one of those ideas that work.

Nobody really likes to have to ask their spouse for what they want. That’s especially true for women. They feel that if their husband truly loves them, they’ll know what they want. Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the fact that men and women think differently. Maybe if we all thought the same, we could figure out what our wives want, without having to ask them. So, most of us end up being guilty most of the time, for not being able to read their minds.

Well, love coupons can help you out of that predicament. Not only do they provide your wife with a non-threatening way of asking for the things she wants, but they also provide you with a way of finding out what it is that your wife wants. If you give her a stack of 20 coupons, and she uses only ten of them, then the other ten probably aren’t all that important to her. Even more than that, the ones which she uses first are probably the ones which are the most important to her.

You could just give the coupons as a romantic act, and not pay any attention to how she uses them; but I’d rather learn what I can from the opportunity. That way, I can get that much closer to being the ideal husband that I’m trying to be (I’m not there yet).

Start out by making a list of what you’re going to put on the coupons. You could just make them, but you’ll want to save this list. It’s going to become your checklist of when your wife uses those coupons. You need it, in order to get the most out of this exercise. You can then copy and paste the ideas from this list into your coupons on the computer.

Make the coupons cute, not boring. Use a floral border on them and find some clipart. Maybe you can find an image or two, which will be appropriate to the item on that coupon. If not, hearts and flowers always work out well.

So, what kinds of ideas should you put on your coupons?
  • A free back massage.
  • Take over one chore of her choice for a week.
  • An afternoon off; you take care of the kids.
  • A new dress (or other article of clothing).
  • Shampoo her hair.
  • Give her a pedicure.
  • Go to a chick flick with her, without complaining.
  • A slow dance.
  • Going out for dessert.
  • Going out for dinner.
  • Breakfast in bed.
  • A walk by moonlight.
  • An evening of conversation, without interruptions.
  • 24 hours of no arguments, no matter what.
  • Be her personal servant for one day.
  • Special delivery of one late-night craving.
  • A morning of sleeping in late, with no complaints or interruptions.
  • An activity of her choice.

Remember, if you give her a coupon that says you’ll do something for her, you’ve got to do it. Not only do you have to do it, but you’ve got to do it with a good attitude. Doing something for your wife, while you’re grumbling about it doesn’t win you any points.

Don’t limit yourself to this list of course; you can let your imagination run free. Pretty much anything that I’ve posted on this blog would work as a love coupon. More importantly, make coupons for things that you think she would like, but aren’t sure. That gives you a way to find out if she’d like them or not.

Don’t limit yourself to one copy of a coupon either. Some coupons, like a massage or an activity of her choice are definitely worth creating multiple coupons for. That would help keep her from hording those coupons till a time when she absolutely needs to use them. You want her to use them, because you’ll still receive points for doing what the coupon says, even though she’s asking you to do it. That isn’t normally the case. Usually, if she has to ask you, you don’t get any points.

Don’t forget to keep track of what she uses and when she uses it. That’s what you kept the list for. That information is going to help you know what romantic acts you can do in the future, which will really mean something to her.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tell Her What You Like

In all the years that I’ve been counseling marriages, I have yet to have a couple come in to see me and complement each other. No, what they do is to come in and complain about each other. Granted, going to see a counselor for the purpose of complimenting your spouse is a waste of time; but I bring that up because unfortunately, what I’m seeing in my living room isn’t any different than what is happening in their living rooms.

Generally speaking, we don’t complement each other enough. People are much more likely to talk about what another person did, which they don’t like; than they are to talk about what they do like. You don’t find many people complementing the service they get in a restaurant, but let them have poor service and they’ll have plenty to say.

This carries over into our marriages as well. Most couples don’t take the time to tell each other what they do like about the other one. If they do something wrong, they’ll be quick to say so, but the things that they do like… well, somehow they just don’t seem to get mentioned.

Think about it; when was the last time you complemented your wife on what she does? When was the last time you told her that dinner was great? When was the last time you told her she was a great mother? Or told her that she was a great lover? Have you ever told her some of those things, or do you just take them for granted?

It’s so easy to take the everyday things that our wives do for granted; even when they do an excellent job of them. For some strange reason, our minds skip over that stuff, as if it’s just part of the scenery. But, let her spend too much money on clothes, and we suddenly start complaining about her whole closet full of clothes that she doesn’t wear; as if that’s important.

I’ve mentioned before that women constantly deal with society telling them that they’re not good enough. Well, if you’re not doing the opposite, you could be unwittingly contributing to that problem. Your silence can very easily be interpreted by your wife as agreement with the negativity of the world. Your lack of compliments can be interpreted as you thinking that she never does anything right. Your lack of building her up can actually help to bring her down.

It really doesn’t’ matter if you’ve complimented her on something before, if you like it, tell her so once again. Better yet, tell her over and over again. When she cooks something you like, let her know that you like it. When she does something which pleases you, let her know that you’re pleased. When her accomplishments impress you, let her know you’re impressed.

Not only are you helping to overcome the negative message which the world is sending her, you’re also providing positive reinforcement for the actions which you like. In other words, you’re encouraging her to keep doing them. That’s one sure way to encourage her to do it again.

You’re going to have to force yourself to do this, until it becomes a habit. But, it’s such a good habit to form, that it’ll be worth the effort. As you tell her what she’s doing well, it will help her feel better about herself, which will ultimately help her feel better about your marriage.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

They’re Playing Your Song

Did you and your wife ever have “your song?” You know, a song that was special to you, which portrayed your love for one another; even one that reminded you of one another. When we’re dating, it seems like those things just happen naturally. It could be because you heard it on your first date; or that it was the first song you danced together to. Regardless of where it came from, things like having “your song” are an important part of keeping your love for one another alive.

When was the last time you heard “your song?” Has it been a while? I guess for most of us, it has. While that song was probably popular when you were dating, it’s long since fallen off the charts. You can’t just click on the radio and expect to find it playing any more. But, you can still find it; just by searching online.

Actually, there’s something deeper at play here than just having a song which the two of you identify as yours. It’s the idea of having reminders of your dating years, how you fell in love and the love you have for one another. That’s what having “your song” does for you.

You see, life has a way of trying to steal your love for your wife. There are enough things going on all around us to make us feel as if we are unwanted and unloved. There are also more than enough things going on to try and keep us negatively focused towards our spouses. The combination of daily problems, stress, disagreements, changes that we all go through and the bombardment of sexuality that the media shows us all work together to try and destroy our love.

We need things to help bring up our love level. A song, a place, a particular type of food, are all things which can be associated with positive memories, renewing both the memories and the feelings that go with them. Those types of things can actually serve to help restore the feelings of love which the world is trying to rob from us.

So, have you played “your song” lately? Maybe it’s time to do a little searching online and download it to your computer. Surprise your wife by playing it sometime when the two of you are alone, and see what effect it can have on both of you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Be an Encouragement

It’s very easy to get into a mode of being negative about everything. Many couples suffer from this negativity, where they are putting each other’s ideas, actions and accomplishments down, instead of building each other up. Yet, of anyone in the world, the one person we should each be able to count on for encouragement is our spouse.

Now, before you go off on a tangent, grumbling about how your wife isn’t encouraging you; I’m not talking about her, I’m talking to you. Whether or not your wife encourages you is another issue entirely. What I’m concerned about right now, is whether or not you are encouraging her.

Actually, the best way to get her to encourage you is to start encouraging her more. Women are created to be responders; that means that they will respond to what we do as men. If we are constantly negative, it will make them all that much more negative. However, if we are positive, it will pull them towards the direction of being positive. You may not be able to change her all the way, but you will be able to give her a gentle push in the right direction.

Not only that, but the more positive and encouraging you are, the less likely you are to be bothered by any negativity she displays. The worst thing in the world is two negative people, who feed off of each other, making each other more and more negative.

Once upon a time, you thought that woman you married was the most wonderful woman in the world. There was something there which you liked so much, that you ended up falling in love with her. I’d venture to guess that whatever that was, it’s still there. Maybe it’s been covered up a bit by the busy-ness of life, but that doesn’t mean that she’s changed; it just means that you need to draw that out of her.

The problem most women face is that they are inherently negative. If a man passes a mirror in a department store, he looks at himself and says, “Yeah, I’ve still got it” (whatever “it” is). When a woman looks at it, she sees Medusa. All she can see is that she isn’t as pretty as she wants to be, her hair doesn’t look like she just came from the hairdresser, she’s not as thin as a supermodel and her clothes aren’t designer specials. Society tells her that she has to be pretty and to do so requires all that. So, when she sees herself, she doesn’t see anything that makes her think she’s pretty.

Okay, so she’s not a supermodel. There are only eight of those in the world anyway, and none of them look like their photos. Real life doesn’t come with PhotoShop. Even so, there are a lot of special things about your wife. It has to be true, or you wouldn’t have married her in the first place.

Remind yourself of those things which caused you to fall in love with her. Then, remind her of them as well. Don’t say, “you used to…” instead say, “I love this about you…” That’s what she needs to hear. She also needs to hear that she’s good at what she does. She needs to know that at least one person sees her efforts and thinks they are good. That person is you.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Never Forget those Important Days

One of the things which women complain about is when we forget those important days in our lives. You know what I mean; have you ever forgotten her birthday, or your anniversary? If you did, your wife probably blew a gasket. In all fairness, I’d have to say that when something like that happens, she really do have justifiable grounds to complain.

Forgetting an anniversary is like saying, “My marriage isn’t important.” Now, I know that your marriage is important to you, or you wouldn’t bother reading this blog. However, you don’t have to prove it to me, you’ve got to prove it to your wife; and you’ve got to prove it over and over again.

I’m not really sure where the idea of celebrating anniversaries and birthdays come from. Suffice it to say that both are long-standing customs around the world. So, where it came from and why we celebrate them isn’t anywhere near as important as the reality of their existence. That’s what we have to deal with.

Part of the importance on her part comes from the fact that she’s relationally focused. As men, you and I build our lives around the things which we do. For our wives, it’s built around the relationships which they have. Since birthdays and especially anniversaries deal with relationships, it’s not surprising that those days would be important to them.

In today’s modern world, there’s really no excuse for forgetting. Our cell phones, PDAs, tablets and computers all have the capability of reminding us of those all-important days; all we have to do is program it in. Let me give you a secret here. Don’t just program in the day, program a reminder in a few days ahead of time. In other words, program your anniversary in, then program in a reminder, every day for at least three days beforehand (better yet, a week). That way, you have a bit of time to plan, make reservations and buy her a gift.

It’s always easier to celebrate a special day when you have a little time to plan. Granted, your wife will appreciate the flowers you buy her at the last minute. But, she’d appreciate it a whole lot more if you went out and bought her some diamond earrings. Of course, if you only set an alarm to remind you on your anniversary, you might not have time to go out and buy those earrings.

It’s also much more romantic if you plan where you are going to take her, instead of asking her at the last minute, “Well, where do you want to go?” Even if you want her input on the restaurant choice, you’re much better off getting that a few days ahead of time, instead of at the last minute. Asking her three days ahead of time sends the message that you’re thinking about your upcoming anniversary. Waiting till the day makes it sound like you had forgotten.

Finally, if something happens, like a trip out of town, which would prevent you from being able to go out on your anniversary, always make sure you celebrate ahead of time. Celebrating ahead is okay, but celebrating late sends the message that your work is more important than your marriage. You don’t want to do that.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Your Stuff, Her Stuff

There’s an old statement about marriage, where the guy was bestowing all his worldly possessions on his bride. We don’t use that term much in our day, but in the time it was coined, men owned all the property. The idea was that by marrying, he was sharing what was his with his wife.

In a way, that statement makes sense. Marriage is a covenant; and as such, what belongs to one, belongs to the other. So, when a couple gets married, his car becomes their car. Her sofa becomes their sofa. Marriage isn’t about being your own person; it’s about being one flesh. Integrating your worldly goods is only one of many symbols of that.

Even so, it seems to me that there are many couples, who may have many years of being married, yet still keep certain possessions separate, as if they were still single. Granted, there are a few things which are personal possessions; like clothes. I don’t think God or society has ever intended for a couple to share their clothes. Most guys don’t look good in dresses, anyway, especially if they forget to shave their legs.

There are also things like cars, which although are joint property, one uses more than the other. For many couples, there’s “his car” and “her car.” Not so much in a sense of ownership, but by a sense of who uses which.

The problem comes in when one or the other gets possessive over something that really is better considered community property. Take a stapler for instance. Now, most families don’t need two staplers; one will suffice. If they have an office or a computer desk, it’s normally kept there. But, what if it’s missing? What if one partner uses the stapler in the kitchen and forgets to put it back. Wouldn’t it be a bit ridiculous for the other one to start yelling at them for “taking my stapler”?

Unfortunately, this sort of thing actually happens. I’m a really organized person and I like things to be put back where they came from. But, it would be ridiculous of me to get mad at my wife for taking the stapler and not putting it back on my desk, where she got it from (I say “my desk” because we each have a desk).

Having a petty attitude like this can cause a great amount of stress and bickering that really isn’t necessary. Even being an over-organized person, I recognize the right of other family members to use the things that I have in my part of the office. To be otherwise is to say “that thing is more important than my relationship with you.” Ouch! That’s definitely way too much.

We had a situation arise a number of years ago with my computer. I call it my computer, because when I bought it, my wife didn’t want anything to do with it. That is, she didn’t want anything to do with it until she discovered the Web. That first day she was on the Internet, she literally surfed all night long. When I got up at 6:00 the next morning, she was still there, surfing away. She’d suddenly found something useful for the computer and she wanted to be on it day and night.

The problem came in that I needed to use the computer for my work as well. There were a few times in which I didn’t get things done which I needed to, because she was on it. We suddenly had a problem. It would have been very easy to become possessive about “my computer” and start complaining at her about using it too much. I could have even tried to keep her off of it all together. But, that wouldn’t have been right. Compounding the problem was the fact that she wasn’t just using it to e-mail her friends or play games, she was doing research which was useful to our ministry.

Since my wife was a newcomer to the world of computers, when things didn’t happen as fast as she wanted, she’d just click buttons to see what would happen. For anyone who is computer literate, that can be disastrous. I awoke many a morning to find things moved around, deleted from or added to the desktop. Fortunately, the only time she deleted a bunch of files by accident, they were her old e-mails.

It was clear that we had a problem. We needed two computers. So, that’s what we did; we bought another one. That way, I had my computer and she had hers. No problem.

Watch out for that possessive attitude. It’s okay when you’re dealing with people outside the family, but with your wife? No, there’s no place for it. If you need two, so that there isn’t a problem, like we did with the computers, then get two. On the other hand, if you don’t need two, don’t waste the money, learn how to share; and do it with a good attitude. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Protect Her from Her Fear

Everyone has things they are afraid of; that’s a given. Even the toughest of soldiers, who would stare an armed enemy in the face, have fears. While they may not be afraid of that enemy, they may be afraid of snakes, or spiders or heights. One can never know the fears of another by looking at them on the outside, because those fears are often hidden things of the heart.

What do we typically do when we find out someone else’s fear? Why, we make fun of it. That’s right; one person’s fear is another person’s joke. We think their fear is funny, but we don’t appreciate it if they act the same about ours.

Let me ask you, how many times have you made fun of a fear that your wife has? Maybe she’s afraid of bugs (not an uncommon situation among women) and you laugh at her. Perhaps she has a fear of flying, and you laugh at her every time she has to get on an airplane. It doesn’t matter what it is, it seems that we all laugh at each other’s fears.

Yet, I have to ask, what message are we sending, when we laugh at our wives fears? Aren’t we reducing their concern to nothing? Aren’t we saying “your opinion isn’t worth anything”? Aren’t we reducing their value in our own eyes? Ouch! That’s not something we want to do, to show our love.

In reality, nobody can control their fears. Oh, they can learn to control their reaction to them, but they can’t control their fear. The fear is there, whether they want it to be, or not. They can study about it and try to overcome it, but that won’t make it go away. All fear is irrational, it tries to control us, we can’t control it.

In all fairness, many fears have some basis in fact. Many of the people who survived the Great Depression in the last century, died decades later with a fear of not having enough food. One who has fallen from a great height will naturally have a fear of heights. A child who suffers a painful insect bite can easily develop a fear of bugs. But, not all fears can be explained so easily.

Okay, so what does all this have to do with romance? Good question. First of all, we all need to change how we react to our wife’s fears. While it may still seem funny to us that she’s afraid of escalators, we shouldn’t show our humor. Respecting a person for who they are includes respecting all they are. Secondly, it is important to protect them from those fears. If our wives are afraid of something, then we should do what we can to ensure that those fears don’t have an opportunity to manifest.

Let’s take something simple like bugs. We lived in a house which had a serious cockroach infestation. Had we known about that, before renting the house, we never would have rented it. However, we live in an area where cockroaches are common, so it’s not all that surprising that we had the problem.

The place in our home which the cockroaches liked the most was the kitchen. Every morning, we’d wake up to find 20 or 30 of those pests on the kitchen counter and in the sink. It didn’t matter if everything was spotlessly clean and there was nothing for them to eat, they’d be there looking for it anyway. So, I made it a habit when I woke up to go in the kitchen and deal with the cockroaches. That way, my wife wouldn’t have to.

Of course, that didn’t totally solve the problem and no matter what we tried, we never managed to get rid of them. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I stopped trying. We sealed and sprayed and put out traps and every other trick we could find, just to try and get rid of those pests. Finally, we moved out of the house; they’d won the battle. In our new house, we don’t have that problem.

But, I won my battle as well. Even though I didn’t manage to eliminate the problem, I at least was able to make it easier for my wife. I couldn’t protect her totally from that fear, but I at least did so partially. That was at least a partial victory.

I said that we don’t have a cockroach problem in the new house, and we really don’t, Even so, every once in a while I’ll find a dead one on the floor, when I wake up in the morning. I keep a mini dust-pan and brush in the laundry room, which I call the cockroach brush. When I find them, I get rid of them, before my wife has the opportunity to see them. I’m still trying to protect her.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Careful About those Comments

Most women battle insecurity on a constant basis. Society in general is telling them that they’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, their breasts aren’t big enough, their hair isn’t full enough and they just aren’t sexy enough. Every woman is supposed to look like a supermodel. Of course, even real supermodels don’t look like supermodels you see, since they’re all photo shopped. Nevertheless, every woman is supposed to be that spectacular.

Think about it; with all that negativity being thrown at them, it’s really no wonder that they feel insecure. To add insult to injury, at times we add to this insidious process, without even realizing it. How? You might ask. By the comments we make about other women, without even thinking about it.

A perfectly innocent comment about another woman’s hair, dress or looks in general, can come across as a slam against the way your own wife looks. Suppose that you see a woman with long, wavy blond hair, something that you’d expect to see on one of those supermodels. Of course, she probably just came from the beauty shop, but you don’t know that. You happen to comment, “her hair is beautiful” a fairly simple comment, without any hidden meaning. You’re not saying that you want to jump in the sack with her or that there’s anything wrong with your wife’s hair. But, what your wife hears is “her hair is much more beautiful than yours is.”

Oops, the law of unintended consequences just jumped up to bite you. While you were just making small-talk, your wife wasn’t hearing it that way. To her, it was a whole different thing.

I’m not trying to say that you’re wrong for saying something like that; but she might say that you are. You see, in cases like these, it’s the results that matter, not the intention. While your intention may have been perfectly innocent, the results weren’t. Even worse, the results which you don’t see were probably a whole lot worse that the ones that you do see.

You’re really better off not saying anything about other women than saying something positive about them. Granted, you could say that the problem is your wife’s and not yours, and I’d have to agree with you to a point. But, where does our responsibility to our wife’s health and happiness start and end? If your wife was a recovering alcoholic, wouldn’t you have a responsibility to avoid drinking in front of her? You could say that the alcoholism was her problem, not yours. But, if your drinking was causing her to be tempted, wouldn’t you be guilty?

Actually, there’s more to this than just avoiding positive comments about other women, we also need to avoid making negative comments about our own wives. If you and I start comparing our wives to other women, we’ll quickly find that there are always others out there that appear to be better. Maybe they’ve got prettier hair, bigger breasts or a smaller waist. Regardless of what it is, when we start making those comparisons, we’re setting ourselves up for real trouble.

Comparisons generally tend to show us the bad in our own wives. Rarely do we compare them to women who are uglier or fatter; we generally compare them to those supermodels. Of course, everyone forgets that beauty is a 24/7 job for a supermodel. She doesn’t have to go to some other job, doesn’t have to take care of the kids and doesn’t have to clean the house. All she has to do is work at keeping herself beautiful. That’s more than a full-time job.

One final thing, we need to work at overcoming the negativity which the world is throwing at our wives. Complimenting your wife’s looks is an important part of this. She needs to know that you find her attractive. That’s not just a casual “like to have it” sort of need, but a serious need. With everything around her telling her that she’s not what she should be, she needs someone telling her that she’s more than she should be. If you don’t do it, who will? 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Stroll by the Light of the Moon

As we all know, romance requires time. It’s impossible to be truly romantic if one isn’t willing to spend time with their wife. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on flowers and gifts, if you never get to spend any time together, they aren’t going to make her feel loved.

Finding time to spend together can be a real challenge in our hurry-up, hustle and bustle world. It’s even worse if you’ve got kids. It almost seems like those kids have a conspiracy set up between them, to make sure that their parents can’t get any time alone together. You finally get them all in bed, sit down on the sofa to spend a few minutes together and one or another of them pop out of bed. It doesn’t matter what the reason, they’ll make one up if they have to.

Well, we’re bigger than the kids, we’ve got more experience, more education; so, we ought to be able to come up with a way to outsmart them, and get that few minutes alone. Actually, it’s not all that hard; all we have to do is leave the house. That way, when they try to interrupt us in the living room, they can’t find us.

Now, I realize that you probably aren’t all that comfortable leaving your kids in the house alone; and your wife is even less comfortable. But, I’m not talking about leaving them alone and going away for a few hours; I’m talking about leaving them alone in bed for a few minutes, while you stay in sight of the house.

You see, just getting out of the house, to walk down your street and back can be romantic. That is, it can be romantic if you manage to get the time alone together. That’s really what it’s about, not the walking, but getting to be together, without interruptions.

A nice, slow stroll, hand in hand, up and down your own street may not seem like the most romantic thing you’ve ever done, but it’s still romantic. Romance doesn’t require money; nor does it require elaborate planning. Romance is an expression of love, and one of the ways in which we can express love is by just spending time together.

Remember, this isn’t about making it a race, nor is it about getting exercise, it’s about spending a few minutes alone together. if you can’t make yourself walk slowly, then maybe you’d be better off sitting on the porch. Either way, enjoy the evening, the breeze, the stars, the moon, and most of all, enjoy some time just for the two of you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Scent of Romance

Have you ever wondered why women like perfume so much? Generally speaking, they are much more interested in perfume, than men are in after shave and cologne. If you’re not sure that I’m right, just go into any department store and compare the prices of the perfumes to the after shave. While there are perfumes which are cheap, you really don’t see after shave lotion which is expensive. Not only that, but perfume is given to women as a special gift, whereas after shave is only given to men when someone can’t come up with a better gift idea.

So, back to the original question, why is this so? It’s actually rather simple. Women’s noses, like all their senses, are more sensitive than men’s are. That also explains why women are more offended by foul odors than men are. That fishy smell, which might bother you and I a bit, but we pretty much ignore it, can be a major irritant to our wives.

I don’t really know how far back the idea of perfume goes, or how far back it was considered a romantic gift. However, we do find historic reference to it at least 3,000 years ago, while deodorants didn’t exist until the 9th century. Imagine the dark ages, when people though that bathing was dangerous? If it wasn’t for perfume, I think the human race would have died out; women wouldn’t have been able to stand to get close enough to men for procreation to happen.

Maybe that has something to do with perfume becoming a romantic gift. Then again, it could have something to do with being something that pleases the senses. Regardless of the reason, we can be assured that perfume, as a romantic gift, is here to stay.

What is your wife’s favorite perfume? My wife’s comes from the Lily of the Valley, and is made in France. It’s almost impossible to find, making it that much more precious of a commodity in our home. I’ve tried other perfumes, including a rather expensive one, which is based upon lilies, but it’s just not the same. This taught me that it’s important not only to buy perfume, but to buy her the right perfume.

How do you find out which perfume is the right one? Simple, look at what she’s got. The bottle with the least in it is probably the one she uses the most. That’s the scent she likes. Even if she isn’t ready for a new bottle, all hope is not lost. You can take the name of that perfume, go to the perfume counter in your favorite upscale department store and say, “I’d like something similar to…” The clerk there should be able to show you other perfumes, which are similar to your wife’s favorite. That helps ensure that she’s going to like it.

Be sure to have it gift wrapped too. The extra moments of having to unwrap the package add to the experience of receiving the gift.

Let me mention one other thing here as well. Since we aren’t as interested in the smell of the perfume as our wives are, we tend to forget to use things like after shave and cologne. Don’t forget. You’re not doing it for you; you’re doing it for her. She’ll appreciate it. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Save Her from the Stress

Just in case you haven’t noticed, life contains a surfeit of stress. Yes, it’s true, we all face problems, each and every day. Even the people you might think don’t have problems to worry about; movie stars, athletes and rich people all have problems. In fact, most of them have more problems to deal with than you and I do.

Stress can cause us a number of problems; everything from eating disorders, to high blood pressure, to total emotional breakdowns. It appears that these problems are even worse for women, than they are for men. Of course, none of us need these problems and we need even less for our wives to have them.

As men, we actually need a bit of stress to function. A man without any stress is called a couch potato. He just sits on the sofa, channel surfing, and calling out to his wife to bring him another Coke when his bottle runs dry. Stress is what causes us to get off the sofa and do something with our lives.

Not so for women. There’s a definite difference between how men and women deal with stress. While men can set a problem for which they don’t have an answer aside, women can’t do that. That problem grows and grows before their eyes, becoming bigger and bigger, until it’s all they can see. Instead of being able to deal with it, they often get to a point where all they are doing is worrying about it.

Now, I’m not saying that women aren’t capable of getting things done. We’re not talking the 1850s here, where women were thought of as being incapable of doing anything. Women are just as capable to deal with things as we are, sometimes even more so. What I’m talking about is how dealing with those things can affect them. By and large, women are far more skilled at worrying then men are. So, when faced with a problem, they tend to worry.

By the way, that’s why women nag their husbands; they see the problem, but they don’t see their husbands doing anything about it. The fact that you’re mulling it over in your mind or waiting for something to arrive, which you need to solve the problem, doesn’t count. She can’t see it, so it isn’t happening.

Part of our responsibility as men is to protect our wives. While that clearly means protecting them from physical harm, I’d have to say that it goes much farther than that. One of the areas where I have found it important to protect my wife is in the area of stress. Her mother is a world-class champion worrier, and she taught both her daughters well. So, it is very easy for my wife to fall into that habit. If I don’t protect her from worry and stress, it can destroy her.
One of the biggest areas of worry and stress for most couples is in the area of finances. It bothers me when I see couples in which the woman is the one handling the finances. Not because she’s not capable, but because of the stress which is associated with that job. If you ask these couples why they are doing things that way, they either answer that he’s irresponsible or she’s a better administrator.

Okay, those sounds like good reasons, but are they really? If that’s causing her stress, which ultimately leads to health problems, are they making a good decision? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if he learned how to take care of the finances, so that she wouldn’t have to?

In our home, I do that. Now, I don’t keep my wife totally in the dark about our finances, she knows all of our accounts and about how much the bills are every month. She knows in general how much income we have (it varies from month to month). But, I never burden her with “I don’t know how we’re going to pay for this.” Instead, I figure out how we’re going to do it, and let her know. I take on the responsibility, instead of dumping it on her.

I’m not saying that she has no say in our finances, either; she does. When we sign up for some service or membership or whatever, it’s usually because she wants to. She comes to me, tells me what she wants, and I determine if we can afford it. If not, I tell her. If she still wants it, then we sit down together to decide what we’re going to give up, so that we can afford it.

When we run into a situation where money is a little tight, I just tell my wife that we need to be careful about our spending for the next few weeks. I don’t get into detail; I don’t dump it on her: I just tell her to put off any unnecessary spending for a bit. Likewise, for things like Christmas shopping and going on vacation; I tell her what we can afford to spend, and that’s what we work with.

Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not treating my wife like a child or treating her like she’s irresponsible. What I’m trying to do is protect her from the stress associated with dealing with our finances. Our books are open. She can ask me at any time what we have and what we don’t have. She can ask me if such-and-such a bill has been paid. She can know how much cash I have in my wallet (and there’s no “she money” in there). I’m just protecting her.

How can a woman, who doesn’t feel secure in the family finances, feel secure in her marriage? She can’t. That’s why I’m protecting her. I want her to feel secure, that she doesn’t have to worry and that everything is going to be all right.

Maybe you can’t do it the same way that I am. You have to find what works for you. But, I will tell you this; if you have your wife paying the bills, you’re wrong. You’re dumping your responsibility on her, along with all the stress that goes with it. Learn how to take care of things, so that your wife can relax and feel secure. That will help her feel loved, as well.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is Risen!

I can’t let Resurrection Sunday go by, without talking about the importance of letting the Lord have the central place in your marriage. First of all, it was He who created the marriage relationship, in Genesis 2:24. But, it is also he who sustains the marriage relationship, keeping us together and giving us the love that we need to express one to another.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” If there is anything that should be that threefold cord, is the marriage relationship. Many have tried, and still try, to have a twofold cord of marriage, yet these are often broken, even in Christian relationships.

The Holy Spirit showed me something a few month ago, while I was counseling a Christian couple. He said, “The marriage relationship is the greatest test of Christian character there is.” That floored me. I had always thought that other things would be the test; never had I thought that my marriage would be. Yet, as I looked at that bit of revelation, I came to understand that it was truth.

In marriage, we are much more likely to let the barriers to our inner self down. Oh, we might keep some defensive barriers up, but as far as our words and actions are concerned, it is in marriage that we are most likely to show our true colors. Only, what colors are we showing?

If we want to show Christ’s colors to our spouse, then we need Christ’s help. We can’t do it on our own. Yet, most Christians never bother to ask; instead, trying to make it on their own strength. Sadly, none of us have enough strength within ourselves to make it, without some sort of outside help. We need that help when things are good, let along how much more so we need it when things aren’t all that good.

Jesus came that we might have life, and that more abundantly (Jn 10:10). That “Life more abundantly” isn’t about our life in the sweet by and by, it’s talking about our life in the here and now. It means that when we let Jesus into the middle of our lives, not just in church, but in our everyday living, he becomes that third chord, which binds the other two together, making them stronger.

With His help, marriage can become the greatest experience that exists in this life. Yet, it can only happen if we let it. We can’t have an abundant life with a “church only” Christianity. Nor can we have an abundant marriage that way. We need to stop walking after the flesh in our marriages and let that become part of our spiritual life as well.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the pleasures of marriage. It doesn’t mean that we put on a false piety, where we wouldn’t even think of having sex as part of our relationship. No, it means that we allow Christ’s love and His character to flow through us, towards our spouses, every moment of every day.

This Resurrection Sunday, why not let Christ resurrect your marriage?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Have you ever wondered why so many old romantic movies have the guy singing to the girl somewhere in the movie? Even a few more modern movies have this, although it isn’t as common as it used to be. There’s something special about music, especially when it is directed at a particular person.

Music touches the soul in a way that more simple words do not. That’s why advertisers use it so much. A catchy jingle about a product is much more likely to be remembered than an elaborate explanation or even a well thought out tag line. Music not only touches the emotions of the person, but also burns the memory deeper into our conscience.

Unfortunately, not all of us are given the gift of golden voices. Personally, I have been forbidden by my children from singing in public at any time. I’m not even allowed to sing in the shower, if others are in the house. The only time I can sing is when nobody else knows I’m doing it. Of course, that might have something to do with all of them studying the arts in college, two of them being musicians. They think that my inability to carry a tune banns me from singing forevermore.

Nevertheless, I’m sure that some of you out there have those golden voices of fame; or at least you can pretend that you do, much better than I can. So, why not use it for being romantic? Let me ask you; when was the last time you sang a song to your wife?

You know, it’s amazing how many love songs there are out there. It seems that love songs have been being sung since the beginning of time. Even modern music, with all its unusual expressions, still has a fair number of love songs being produced.

Do the two of you have a favorite song? Maybe there’s something that you used to hear on the radio, when you were dating. Well, why not learn it, and serenade your wife with it? Unless she doesn’t like music, or you have a reputation as a singer like mine, she’s bound to love it. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Guard Your Thoughts

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to be loving towards your wife when you don’t feel loved? Of course, for us guys, the sexual part of our marriage relationship has a lot to do with our feeling loved, so that means that most men struggle with feeling unloved. Yet, believe it or not, our wives are expressing their love towards us, just not in the way that we want.

In the typical marriage, there’s a lot of sex up until the first baby comes along. Then, what had been once a day (or more) suddenly drops down to an average of once every 10 days. Husbands everywhere are baffled by this phenomenon, even realizing that their wives are tired from taking care of the baby. Yet, that realization doesn’t do much to cover up the hurt they feel inside, because their wives are paying so much attention to the baby and so little to them.

Of course, women don’t see the incongruity of this, because their focus is on the baby. They don’t realize the problem their husband faces, and if he ever tries to bring it up, it comes across to her as selfishness. She’s giving her all for the baby, and can’t understand why he can’t understand that she doesn’t have anything left for him.

This becomes a major crossroads for most married couples. They either go forward, learning to overcome the new struggles, or they start falling apart. Sadly, too many start falling apart. Because the husband doesn’t feel loved by his wife, he stops expressing love towards her. She then feels rejected by him and acts even less loving towards him. When he wants sex, she feels as if he is just using her, whereas before she felt it was an expression of love between them.

For most couples, this problem never stops; it just keeps spiraling downwards. Sadly, they never learn to overcome the negative emotions and return to a truly loving relationship. So, instead of being the marriage God intended them to be, they end up being little more than roommates.

The first thing we need to realize in all this is that our enemy, the devil, is the one who is putting those thoughts into our minds, the thoughts that we aren’t loved. It’s not a rational analysis of the situation; it’s not even a message we’re receiving from our wives, it’s a lie that we’re being told. Unfortunately, it’s a lie that’s all too easy to accept.

We are commanded to “cast down vain imaginations and anything that exalts itself against the power of God.” Well, take my word for it; all those thoughts about your wife not loving you are definitely vain imagination. Cast them down. You don’t need them, you don’t want them, and if you let them, they’ll destroy your marriage. Get rid of them, before they get rid of your love.

How do you get rid of them? There are many ways. First of all, think on the good in your wife, those things which you love and appreciate about her, instead of focusing on the negative. Then, take it one step further and find some way to express love towards her, even if you don’t feel like it. Your feelings will end up following you actions. The best way to get over feeling negatively towards your wife is to do something special to express love towards her.

The second thing we need to realize is that our love towards our wives and our expression of that love should not be dependent upon their expression of love towards us. We are commanded to love our wives, in the same manner that Christ loved the church. How is that? By giving Himself for her. We are to give and give and give, whether we feel like we are receiving or not. Even more so, we’re to give with a good attitude.

You see, if we’re just being romantic in the hopes of receiving something back from our wives, we’re not expressing a pure love towards them. Granted, we all hope to have our love reciprocated, but that’s really not the point of expressing love. Anyone can express love when they are feeling loved, it takes a real man to express love when he doesn’t feel loved.

We also need to understand that women don’t understand love in the same manner that men do. Gary Chapman’s book on The Five Love Languages is a great primer on how to express love. Even so, let me give you the simplified version. Women understand romance as expressions of love. That’s it. That’s really what this blog is all about, teaching men to express love in a way that their wives will understand.

So, when’s a good time to be romantic? Really, any time is a good time. But, the best time to be romantic is when you don’t feel loved. Then, it’s a true expression of love “as Christ loved the church.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Special Desert

It’s pretty much impossible to be romantic if we’re not willing to take time out of our schedules to do so. Romance requires planning, preparation, and just plain spending time together. It’s not something instant you get out of a can, nor can you make up for not spending time with your wife by doing other romantic acts. No, time is an essential ingredient for making romance work.

Even better than just spending time together is to create some special times together. These can be special times that have some significance, like your anniversary or the anniversary of your first date, or they can be special times that are just because you are spending time together.

It doesn’t really take a lot to make a special time together. Some couples manage to do it over coffee, meeting at their favorite coffee shop for a mid-morning break or stopping there together before going to work. Others go out to ice cream together, just to have some time away from the kids. Still others have their time together by taking a walk, hand in hand. These aren’t expensive times, nor are they long times, but they are special times.

You can have a special time together, without even leaving your home. All it takes is a little preparation and a stop at your favorite bakery (hopefully, the fanciest one in your town). Stop in there and pick up something that the two of you can share together.

Ideally, you want something that’s a two-person desert, so that you can both eat from the same one. Our local bakery does little cakes, which work out well for a couple, with a bit left over. Some bakeries sell large individual slices of some special cake. Whatever you can find, which will work for the two of you.

When you get home, hide the desert somewhere, so that your wife doesn’t find it before time. Just remember, some pastries can be sensitive to temperature, so you don’t want it in either a freezing cold or blistering hot garage.

Once the kids are in bed and your wife isn’t looking, prepare a pot of coffee, or any other favorite drink, get the desert on a plate with a couple of forks and put on some soft music. Set everything up and invite your wife into the living room for a moment. You can sit there together on the sofa, enjoying your cake and coffee, along with the peace and quiet of just some time for the two of you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Daddy Caddy

Through the years I’ve come to the point where I have a deep appreciation that God has never done anything by accident or “just because.” Every action He has ever done has purpose, often more than one; even those things which don’t seem so obvious have purpose.

Believe it or not, the differences between how men and women are, how they think and how they do things even have purpose. While those differences might be a bit frustrating, or even a bit infuriating to us at some times, they still have a reason. Quite often, once we understand the purpose behind the differences, we can see the wisdom in what God has done.

Have you ever wondered why we, as men, are so much stronger than out wives? No, it’s really not so that we can beat them at a wrestling match; and it’s definitely not so that we can abuse them in any way. The real reason why we are so much stronger is so that we can protect our wives from danger; any kind of danger. Our capacity for aggressiveness and violence exists for the same reason, so that we can protect her.

Can you imagine a pregnant woman trying to protect herself from any sort of violent attack? I don’t know about your wife, buy mine had trouble getting around when she was pregnant, let alone doing anything really physical. No, if there’s any woman in the world who needs protection, it’s a pregnant one.

That natural strength we have is for the benefit of our marriage. Not only in protecting our wives, but in doing those tasks which require strength. Years ago, when our kids were little and we were traveling full time, I used to grumble about having to be the “Daddy Caddy.” When we’d get to a hotel, the whole family would go relax in the room or check out the pool, while daddy (me) was carrying all the suitcases; and yes, to be honest with you, I was usually grumbling about it.

But really, who is best suited for carrying the suitcases? My kids were too small to do it, so expecting them to do so would have been ridiculous. Likewise, expecting my wife to do it was ridiculous. She couldn’t hardly lift some of those suitcases, let alone carry them a couple hundred feet.

Okay, so I’ve changed a bit since then; you get older and hopefully get wiser as well. A couple of months ago, I injured my back. For a few weeks I couldn’t hardly stand up, let alone try and carry anything. For that few weeks, I was more or less worthless to myself, let alone anyone else. So, I’d watch as my wife carried in the groceries, feeling guilty all the while. But, I could hardly get out to the car with my cane in the time it took her to make three trips in with the bags.

I felt guilty watching my wife carry those groceries. While I really didn’t have any choice, it bothered me to see her have to do something, because I was physically incapable of doing it. You see, if I’m committed to my marriage, then that means that I commit all my resources to it, no matter what they are or when it is. All of me has to be given over to our marriage, or I’m just playing games; and as a game, it’s one that I’ll probably lose. One can only win in marriage by giving everything.

Guys, our wives need our physical strength, along with any other strength we have. When there’s something to be done that requires physical exertion, don’t grumble, just do it. Carrying groceries? No problem! Cutting the lawn? No problem! Carrying the bags, when your wife goes shopping? Uh… well… no problem! Whatever it is, let your wife know that you’re there for her.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Don’t Take it Personal

That old saying we learned as kids, of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” has got to be one of the biggest lies ever concocted. At least the wounds created by sticks and stones will heal fairly quickly, but the wounds of words can last a lifetime. Many people’s lives have been ruined, to one degree or another, by the words that others spoke to them.

That’s why it’s important that we are careful about the words we speak, especially those words that come out when we’re angry, irritated or frustrated. All too often in those moments, we say things that later we wish we could take back. Yet, those words never seem to go away. We may say we’re sorry, we may try and make amends, but we can never make erase those words, once spoken.

Part of what makes those words so powerful is the intensity with which they are said. Let’s say that you’re having an argument with your wife, and in the midst of it you blurt out, “I can’t stand you when you’re like that.” Those words are going to go right to the center of your wife’s being, cutting all the way. She won’t hear it as there’s something that she does which bothers you. What she’ll hear is, “I can’t stand you.” That’s the painful, destructive memory which will burn into her heart.

After that, it doesn’t matter how many times you tell her you love her, the overpowering memory will be that you can’t stand her. The intensity of those words, spoken in the passion of a momentary loss of self-control, will be with her forever. No matter how hard you try, they can’t be erased.

I’m not saying that we’re the only ones who say destructive things like that; women do it too. I’d say that men and women are equally skilled at saying destructive things to each other, causing the same types of hurts. However, I think they typically have a greater impact on the women, because they are more emotionally oriented.

There is one important difference between men and women, when it comes to this type of negative communication. That is, women will express generalities in a way that makes it seem like it’s their husband’s fault. They turn the general into something personal. For example, if a woman is feeling unloved, regardless of the reason, she’ll express it as “You don’t love me.” Or, another case might be where she feels frustrated about something, say something at work, and jumps on you for something that you do which is frustrating to her.

Here’s where we can make a difference in this problem. That is, don’t take it personally. Just because your wife is expressing frustration at you or saying that you never take her out anyplace, doesn’t really mean that she thinks that. It means that she is feeling that way at that moment, nothing more.

If you have a business dinner in a fancy restaurant, which your wife has been wanting to go to, there’s a pretty good chance that she’ll say that you never take her out. You might be confused, thinking of the weekly date night which you’ve been doing for the last year. But, she’s not really saying that you never take her out at all, she’s saying that she feels jealous of your opportunity to go to that restaurant, because she wants to go there.

So, how to you deal with this? The first step is to realize that even though she’s directing it at you, she’s not talking about you. Then, forgive her. You don’t have to do that to her face, but you do have to do it. Finally, try and figure out what the true message is behind what she’s saying.

I realize that decoding “woman speak” is an almost impossible challenge. They have meanings for words and ways of putting ideas together that no man can fathom. Nevertheless, we can at least get some clues about what it is that’s motivating them to say what they are saying. When they say something negative, out of frustration, there’s always something behind it. Look beyond the words, to see where she might be hurting. That gives you a clue in how to love your wife better.