Monday, May 21, 2012

Make it an Event

I’m sure you’ve noticed how little girls and big girls alike love to play dress-up. It doesn’t matter how old they get, for some unfathomable reason, they love to do their hair, paint their nails, put on their war paint and get all dressed up. They don’t even have to have anyplace to go, just so that they can get dressed up.

Of course, the advantage for us is that we get to see them at their best. I have yet to meet a guy who doesn’t like his wife to be beautiful. Quite a few complain about the cost, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to see the results.

Unfortunately for women, modern society doesn’t provide too many opportunities to get all gussied up like that. Of course, if you’re part of high society, those opportunities still exist; but for the rest of us, they’re sadly lacking.

That doesn’t mean that opportunities don’t exist at all, just that they aren’t all that common. At least, they’re not all that common if you don’t go looking for them. Other than New Year’s Eve, most of middle-class America doesn’t have much going on that requires owning a suit, let alone getting all dressed up to go out.

Once again, that doesn’t mean that events don’t exist. If you live in or near any fairly large cities, there are events. Even though they’re events that you aren’t used to going to. Classical concerts, ballet performances, Off-Broadway shows all provide opportunities to get dressed up and go out. You can add to that list openings (such as government buildings) non-profit fundraisers and political dinners. So you see, there are still events around which are ideal opportunities to get dressed up. All you have to do is look for them.

What’s that you say? Those events really aren’t your cup of tea? Well, I’ll have to say that I’m not surprised you’d say that. In many cases, I’d have to agree with you; they’re not my idea of a good time, either. Some of them are right up there with a visit to the dentist, for a root canal, without Novocain. Nevertheless, it’s not really about the event, it’s about getting to go out with my wife to something fancy.

You see, it’s really a matter of what you focus on. If you focus on the fact that these events are boring, they’ll be boring. On the other hand, if you focus on the idea of taking your wife out to someplace where she can get dressed up fancy (you’ll have to dress up too), then it can be fun. Focus on her, not the event.

Unless she really hates getting dressed up, she’ll love the opportunity. It’ll be like playing “high society” for a change. Make it a fantasy night, and have fun together. That’s what it’s really all about.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bring the Family Together

There’s an old family tradition which seems to be slipping by the wayside. That is, the tradition of sitting down and eating together. When I was growing up, it was a rare thing that the whole family didn’t sit down at the dinner table together. Even when everyone was busy, you could count on us all being together at dinner time.

Nowadays, it seems like it takes an event to bring us all together. Everyone is so busy with the activities of their own lives, that we have trouble finding time to just sit down and eat together. As crazy as it seems, that’s the reality in which I live.

Maybe your family doesn’t have that problem. Maybe you kids are still small, your life is more ordered and you come home from work at the end of the day to sit down as a family around the dining room table. If you do, enjoy it while you can.

Part of the problem for me is that my kids are all grown up and have their own lives. They’re not married yet and two of them still live at home, but they have their own jobs, school, friends and church activities which take up their time. Because of that, we rarely can find time to all be together.

Okay, so what does this have to do with romance? Well, your kids are very important to your wife (yeah, I know, they’re important to you too, but not so much as to her). She misses them and misses being able to spend time with them. She misses being able to sit down for dinner together. Remember, she’s more relationship oriented than you are, so it’s a bigger deal for her than it is for you.

We recently discovered an old family tradition that has never been much a part of our family. That’s the tradition of going out to eat after church on Sunday. Except when we were traveling in ministry, we never really did that. But now we are.

Part of the reason we never did it was financial; paying $100 a week for the family to go out to eat can be a real drain on the budget. For years that was an impossibility for us, even if we had wanted to do so. But even when we could have done so, the financial strain made us hold those times off at arms length. But, as I’ve grown a little bit older, I’ve realized that money was an excuse. We could make it work, all we had to do was decide it was important.

So, we decided that. Guess what? We’re still managing to pay all the bills, keep gas in the cars and eat descent the rest of the week. But now, we’re going out to eat as a family after church, just so that we can spend the time together.

Is this romantic? No, not in the direct sense, but it is in an indirect sense. You see, having the family get together on a regular basis makes my wife feel more complete. It helps her be more at peace. It helps to validate her as an individual. That may not be romantic in the direct sense, but it sure helps her feel better, which helps the rest of the romance go that much better.

So, what are you doing this Sunday after church?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Quit Fussing About the Little Stuff

You know, you can be the most romantic guy in the world, and destroy every romantic act you do in about 10 seconds. Yep, that’s right. All it takes is a momentary lapse, in which you forget to act like a spiritual man and start acting like a fleshly one. That’s it, in that 10 second lapse, all the ugliness of a selfish, childish, carnal man can destroy a lifetime of being a loving husband.

You might think I’m talking about abusive husbands, so what I’m saying really doesn’t apply to you. To that I say “HA!” I’ve come to the conclusion that most marital abuse isn’t physical abuse, but emotional abuse. Emotional abuse always stems out of immaturity and selfishness.

What I’m talking about here are those moments we all tend to have, when we allow our emotions to overcome our reason, and the dark side of our character shows through. Now, don’t try and tell me you don’t have a dark side to your character, we’ve all got one. You may have it well hidden, and you should, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there; it just means that you try and keep it locked up.

Mankind in general is a selfish, greedy, uncaring race. If you don’t believe me, just look at a baby sometime. Have you ever seen anything more self-centered than a baby? They are all convinced that the world revolves around them. Mommy, daddy and everyone else just exist to serve them. All they have to do is cry, and the whole world jumps to do their bidding. Sounds kind of self-centered to me.

Granted, they’re babies and they can’t do much more than cry. Okay, I understand that; I’m really not here to get down on babies. However, I am here to get down on the 40 year-old babies. You know what I mean, those of us who are supposed to be adults, but can act as childish, self-centered and spoiled as a baby. Those who think that whatever they want, their wife should jump. Those who think that their wife exists to serve them. Those that think they can blow up whenever they want, and their wife has to forgive them.

It’s amazing how quickly we can all blow up over the littlest things, if we let our guard down. Yeah, I said littlest things. That thing which you think is worth blowing up about, is probably just as little as the thing that you see others blow up about.

Let me ask you something; where do you plan on being in 100 years? I hope your answer to that is that you expect to be in heaven. If that’s so, then let me ask you another question; will that thing that you’re getting upset about today, be important in 100 years? If not, why are you getting upset about it?

We’ve got to learn how to get things into perspective. We’re supposed to have our eyes fixed on the things above, not the things below. If that’s the case, then the things below really aren’t all that important. So, why do we get so upset about them? Because we want things our way, that’s why. In other words, we’re being self-centered. Ouch!

Here’s the rub. Every time we blow up about some insignificant thing that isn’t going to matter in 100 years, we negate everything that we’ve been doing to be romantic towards our wives. In other words, all those points you’ve been building up, by being romantic, are all blown away by one little blowup.

Putting it that way, it seems to me that those blowups are pretty darn expensive. At that price, it seems like it would be better to save them for things that are worthwhile, not the little stuff. That way, at least we lose those points over something that really matters.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Just Take Care of It

In case you haven’t noticed, life is full of problems. Yes, it’s true, no matter how hard we try and avoid them, those problems seem to find us, seed us out and try to ruin our lives. At times, it might even seem like that’s all life is, just one problem after another.

How do you deal with problems? Are you good at it, or do you moan and complain? Are you able to make a big problem into a small one; or are you known for making every mole hill into a mountain? You know, dealing with problems is a lot of what being a man is all about.

Think about it for a moment. When you come home from work, and your wife starts complaining about her day (yeah, I know, that’s never any fun), how do you react? If you’re like most guys, you suffer through it, making little comments to tell your wife how to fix the problem. You do it without even thinking about it. That’s just part of our makeup as men; we are problem solvers.

Okay, so if you are created to be a problem solver, why do you have to make a big deal about it? Sometimes, we act like the chicken who laid an egg; having to let the whole world know that we’re facing a problem or that we’ve just solved one. Why?

Granted, we all want recognition and appreciation, that’s part of being human. But, that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about is that by our talking about it, we can often make that problem bigger in our wife’s eyes than it really is. That doesn’t help anything. In fact, it hurts things. It gives her more stress. It gives her more to worry about; and it distracts her from things that need her attention (like you).

Why not just fix the problem, without making a big deal out of it? Why not keep the problem under the radar, while you’re fixing it, so that she doesn’t have to worry? Why not do what you do best and fix the problem, without letting her know that there’s anything to worry about?

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not advocating keeping things from her that you should tell her about. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t tell her that you lost your job or that there’s no money to pay the mortgage. That’s not what I mean. Those are important issues that she has every right to know about. No, what I’m talking about is the little stuff. The nuisance stuff that just saps our time and energy. The little stuff that people worry about, even though it’s really not all that important. That stuff.

Nor am I saying that you should treat her like a child, not letting her know about what is happening. Don’t do the macho, “I’m in control here, I’ll take care of it, you go back to the kitchen” routine. All that does is offend her, making her feel like she’s being treated like a child or a slave. That doesn’t help anything either. If she already knows about it, let her in on the solutions too. 

You see, most of that is stuff you can deal with, without bothering your wife about it. That way, she can be stress and worry free, knowing that you’ve got it under control. When you make a big deal out of it, you give her reason to worry; you give her reason for insecurity; you plant fear in her heart. But, when you take care of it, you make her feel protected; that’s a whole lot better.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dinner by Candlelight

You know, it’s amazing how much socializing is one over food. I mean, if you think about it, getting together with family or friends or even going out on a date generally means that somewhere in all that, we’re going to eat together. Sharing food sets the stage for more conversation than just about anything else that I can think of.

One of the classic romantic acts is to go somewhere for a candlelight dinner together. I’m not really sure why candlelight makes it more romantic, but it does. Perhaps it has something to do with the low light, or the fact that candles flicker, bringing movement to whatever their light touches. Regardless of the reason, it is more romantic, even if that’s just because everyone thinks it’s romantic, so it is definitely something to take advantage of.

What could be more romantic than a candlelight dinner for two? How about a candlelight dinner that you prepare for her? That is, one that you cook yourself. Now, before you start freaking out, cooking really isn’t all that hard. All you have to do is follow the recipe in the book.

Actually, instead of following a recipe, just cook something that you know how to cook. It’s not as much about what you cook as it is that you cooked it for her. The idea that you took the time to prepare a special meal to share with her will definitely be something to catch her attention. The candlelight setting will just be the icing on the cake.

Everyone likes it when another person goes out of their way to do something special for them. So, why should we think that our wives are any different? Do you like it when your wife prepares a special meal for you? Well, why wouldn’t she like it if you prepared a special meal for her?

Of course, this will have the most impact if you manage to surprise her with it. If she’s expecting it, that’s one thing, but if she comes home to find that you’ve prepared her a special meal, to be served by candlelight, it’s going to be even that much more special. Oh, and don’t forget to send the kids off somewhere, so that they’re not in the middle of your romantic meal. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Give her a Break

Do you have one of those highly repetitive jobs? I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, even if your job doesn’t fall into that category. There are just some types of jobs, where it seems that the people do the same thing over and over again, all day long, day in and day out. I don’t know about you, but that type of thing would drive me nuts. I need variety in my work.

Being a wife and mother has a lot in common with that sort of job. The same work needs to be done over and over again; the same dishes need to be cleaned, the same floor has to be mopped and the same clothes need to be washed that were washed last week. Not only is it repetitive, but it seems that everything that you do, has to be done over and over again. Sounds just like that repetitive job, or maybe even a little bit worse.

The worse part of any job is when you aren’t appreciated for it. The person who comes up with a way of saving the company a million dollars might get a little appreciation; likewise the sales person who landed the huge contract, but the one who does that repetitive job? No way.

I don’t know about you, but I appreciate what my wife does for me and my family. All those boring daily chores which have to be done make a difference; even if we can’t always see that difference. I’ve had to do all that stuff, so I know what things are like when she doesn’t do them.

Women say that one of the most romantic things that their husbands can do for them is to take over some of that work and give them a break. That’s right, it’s not buying flowers or writing a love letter (although those are always appreciated as well), but washing the dishes, vacuuming the living room or doing the laundry.

How can it be that those things are romantic? It’s really rather simple. Romance is all about telling the other person that they are valuable to you. So, when you take over those jobs, you’re saying to her, “you are important, because what you do is important.” It’s showing that you appreciate what she does in a very tangible way.

So, when was the last time you washed the dishes? When did you vacuum the carpet for her? How about getting down and dirty to clean the bathroom, have you done that recently? Well, I guarantee you; taking the time to do any of those things won’t make you turn in your man card. Instead, you might just manage to make your wife feel that you really do love and appreciate her.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another Mother’s Day

Okay, so you did your duty, right? Yesterday was Mother’s Day, so you bought your wife some flowers, maybe a card and took her out to eat. It’s done, so now things can get back to normal, right? Okay, so they can get back to normal, but that’s not going to help you be romantic towards your life or build up your marriage. You don’t get any points for normal.

There’s an easy way to solve this problem; all you need to do is not let things get back to normal. Who wants normal anyway? It’s boring and it’s usually not all that loving. So, how can we keep things from getting back to normal? Simple, just have another Mother’s Day.

Yep, that’s what I said. Who ever said that we can only celebrate Mother’s Day once a year? Who ever said that you can’t treat your wife special every day? Who ever said that she can’t be treated special more than one day per year?

So, all you have to do is do everything again. Granted, you should mix it up a bit. If you bought her flowers yesterday, don’t buy them again today, buy her something else. Don’t go to the same restaurant, or maybe fix her a special dinner at home, instead. Don’t make it a copy of yesterday; just make it another day to celebrate her.

Get the kids involved too. After all, she’s their mother. They’ll probably get a kick out of surprising mom. That way, it’s more complete. Do the whole bit, starting with breakfast in bed and finishing by washing up the dishes, so that she doesn’t have to.

What? You say that it’s too late? You can’t serve her breakfast in bed, because you’ve already eaten? No problem, you’ve got six more days this week; pick one of them to be your second Mother’s Day. It doesn’t matter which one, just that you have one. After all, she’s special every day, isn’t she?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Don’t Forget Mother’s Day

As I was in Wal-Mart last night, doing a little grocery shopping, I saw swarms of men buying flowers and Mother’s Day balloons. It took me a moment to catch on, as I was thinking they were buying their flowers a bit early. Those flowers wouldn’t last well till the weekend, especially if those men forgot to put them in water.

While we celebrate Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, in Mexico it is celebrated today. Since the population where I live is 87% Hispanic, I should have caught on to that a bit sooner. Once I did, I was glad to see all those flowers going out the door.

Mexico makes a big deal about Mother’s Day. Largely due to the history of the Conquista, mothers play a very big part in the family. While Father’s Day isn’t all that big a deal, Mother’s Day is. In fact, Mexican men often stay very close to their mothers all through their lives; often closer than they ever get to their wives.

While I’m not in agreement with the idea of being closer to one’s mother than their wife, I appreciate how much effort the Mexican people put into celebrating Mother’s Day and the high honor they bestow upon their mothers on this day.

Yet, what about the rest of the year? How much honor to we give to our wives, as the mothers of our children, the rest of the year. How much honor do we expect our children to give them? Do we let them get away with arguing with their mother, or do we step in and put a stop to it?

There is a difference between the authority of a man and the authority of a woman. While she is always mom, she’s still a woman. She isn’t the physical threat to the kids that you and I are. C’mon now, when a woman spanks her kids, does it really hurt? Not with most women. They don’t have the upper body strength or know how to get the leverage to make that spanking mean much of anything. Oh, the kids cry all right, but that’s just to get out of it getting any worse.

Way too many kids argue with their mothers, while their father sits there quietly, letting it happen. That’s out and out rebellion, and when we allow it, we’re undermining our wife’s authority with the children. Remember, a woman’s children are an important part of her life and her world. Whatever happens with them affects every area of her life. So, when they are rebellious and we let them get away with it, we’re helping bring down her world.

God never intended for women to be men. Isn’t that great? Well, then why do we expect them to act like men, when it comes to dealing with rebellious children? Make up your mind. Do you want your wife to be feminine or masculine? If you want her to be feminine, then expect her to be feminine in everything. That means, when she needs strength, such as for dealing with the kids, you have to be her strength.

Make your children treat your wife with respect. In doing so, you’ll show her that you respect her too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Brush Her Hair

Have you ever wondered why women like going to the beauty salon? I mean, I don’t know any guys who really like hanging out at the barber shop; we just go when we need to. Yet, some women go to the beauty salon regularly. Granted, I understand that they all want to look beautiful; but I’m pretty sure that there’s more to it than that. I mean, what’s so special about having someone else paint your nails for you? Every woman I know, knows how to do that themselves.

Actually, I think the real women go to the beauty salon isn’t to beautify themselves, although I’m sure that is a good secondary reason. I think the reason they love going to the salon is to get pampered. Having somebody fuss over them, taking care of them, and making them feel good is really what it’s all about.
I can’t really blame them. Women take care of everyone else, but don’t usually receive that kind of treatment themselves. I guess we could say that this is a backwards application of the golden rule. Women treat everyone else the way that they want to be treated.

Okay, so if that’s what she wants, then why not give it to her? If she wants to be pampered, who is better suited to do so than you? I’ll guarantee you, she’ll definitely feel like you value her if you do.

So, how are you going to pamper your wife? There are a number of things that you could do, anything from giving her a shampoo, to a pedicure to a massage. Let’s start out with something simple though; brush her hair.

The first thing you’ve got to realize about brushing your wife’s hair is that it’s much more complicated than doing your own, especially if she has long hair. Long hair tends to tangle, making it hard to brush out. Pulling her hair in the process definitely isn’t romantic, nor is it going to make her feel pampered. So, you want to avoid pulling at all costs.

Start by brushing out the ends of her hair. If she has long hair, you can grab it higher up in one hand, making a temporary pony tail out of it, while brushing with the other hand. The hand that is holding the hair can act as a strain relief, helping you prevent any pulling.

If you run into a knot in her hair, as you most likely will, then work it out, don’t pull it. You can work it out by letting the brush slide off of it, and repeating several times. That will help work it down towards the end, where it will become untied. If the knot is too bad for that, put the brush down and separate the strands with your finger, being careful not to pull.

Once you finish the ends, you can work your way up towards her scalp, one section at a time. By taking it in smaller segments, you minimize the possibility of pulling and make it easier to work with any knots you find.

Another thing that can help with the knots is conditioner. Your wife probably already uses this on her hair, but it helps brush out her hair as well. Take a little bit of conditioner and mix it with a bottle of water. If you have a spray bottle, you can put this mixture in it, and spray it on her hair. If you don’t have a spray bottle, put it in a glass and dip the brush in it, shaking off excess. This will help the brush glide through her hair more easily, reducing pulling.

So, now you’re an expert. All you have to do is find some time to brush out your wife’s hair for her. If you can do it with her seated in front of a mirror, that’s even better, as she’ll be able to see what you are doing. Give yourself 15 to 20 minutes, as you want to take your time doing this. If you have extra time left over, add a scalp massage. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How do You Talk About Her in Public?

Have you ever been with a group of guys, maybe on a break at work, and one of them starts complaining about their wife? What happens? More often than not, everyone else chimes in, starting to complain about their wives as well. What starts out as one guy venting his frustration over some problem he is currently experiencing, quickly turns into a wife-bashing session, where each one is trying to top the other.

Women do this too. In fact, I’d have to say that women do it much more than men. However, that doesn’t give us the right to do it. I’d have to say that nobody has the right to speak bad about their spouse in public.

Remember, she is a gift from God. When you start talking bad about her, you’re saying that God gave you junk. But God doesn’t give anyone junk. Every gift that God gives is wonderful, even when it may not seem like it is. Often, the beauty of a gift is temporarily marred in our sight, be a momentary flaw. That doesn’t mean that the gift is flawed, but rather that our image of that gift is.

You and I should only speak positively about our wives. In fact, when those other guys are wife-bashing, we should try and make them jealous; not in an overdone way, just a nice subtle one. While they are complaining and saying bad things about their wives, we should counter with good things about ours.

That may be a little tricky at times; especially when they ask a direct question about something that you may consider an issue in your marriage. That doesn’t mean you can’t turn it positive though. If the things that they are asking about is something that you think is a negative, then respond with something else; something that overshadows that negative thing in your mind. That way, not only will your words be positive, but your tone will be so too.

Okay, so why am I telling you to do this? There are two reasons. Number one, we should always be thankful about what God does for us. Since she is a gift from God, we should be thankful for that gift. Maybe at the moment you are struggling to be thankful, but the more you work at being thankful, the more thankful you will find yourself becoming.

The second reason is that what you say in public is going to affect what you think in private. As long as you are talking bad about your wife, you’re going to be thinking bad about your wife. That will end up making you speak even worse about her. It’s a vicious cycle.

On the other hand, when you talk positive about your wife, it will reinforce those positive thought, helping you to focus on them. That will ultimately help you to be happier with your wife and express that happiness towards her.

It’s really hard to be romantic when you’re feeling negative towards her; not impossible, but difficult. Our romance can’t just be something external; it must be something that wells up from inside our hearts. That means that we must constantly be striving to renew the source of that romance, our sense of love towards her. That makes our romance real; as opposed to something that’s just canned.

Positive thoughts create positive actions, which create positive results. Those positive results make our thoughts more positive, starting the cycle over again. If you truly want to help your marriage and truly want to express love towards your wife, then watch what you say about her. Help yourself keep your mind focused on the good, so that you can continue to act in love.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Work Out Together

It’s hard for most couples to find time to spend together or even something that they can do together as a couple. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, just that we have to work at it a little more than we might want to. Yet, it’s through the time that we spend together, in a variety of pursuits, that we are able to draw closer together or maintain our relationship.

Simply put, investing time in your relationship is investing time in your marriage. That makes it worthwhile, in and of itself. Your work isn’t more important than your marriage, yet all too often; it’s treated as if it is.

One of the tricks to spending time together is to find something that you are going to do on a regular basis and put it on your schedule. I’ve talked a number of times about making Friday night your date night. For my wife and I, our date time is Wednesday lunch. It’s the same idea, just a different time. We’ve also added another regular activity to that, that of working out together at the gym.

I’ve got to confess, I’m not real excited about this one. While I go to the gym with my wife, I’ll have to say that I do so reluctantly. Not reluctant to go there with her, just reluctant to go work out at all. However, we were forced into the place of making some decisions about our health, and part of those decisions was that we needed to exercise.

Maybe you haven’t hit that point in your life yet, but for many of us, reaching 50 is the great equalizer. Things start happening to the body at about 50, which we never through would happen to us. When they do, we’re stuck with the problem of what to do about it. We can go on like nothing has happened (which many people do) or we can start making some lifestyle changes; especially in the areas of diet and exercise.

While working out together isn’t the most fun thing that I can think of doing, it is something that we can do together. Having an exercise buddy makes working out a little bit easier, as you can encourage one another; and who better to be an exercise buddy, than your best friend, your wife?

Besides the time you get to spend together and the encouragement you can give to one another, there are some very tangible benefits to going to the gym together. More than anything, it will help keep both of you younger, longer. Which is better, gong to the gym, or becoming an invalid in your old age? You see, my wife and I don’t go to the gym to try and get our bodies buff; we go to try and maintain or even improve our health. That way, we can enjoy our life together all that much longer, instead of one of us having to be a nurse to the other.

There are some gifts in life which are even more important than flowers and chocolate, one of them is health. By getting a gym membership together, then using that membership together, you are giving each other the gift of health. That says that you care about her.

Now, if you’re the sports fanatic type or the bodybuilder type and your wife isn’t, she may not see a membership to the gym as a gift. In fact, she’ll probably see it as a complaint; you complaining that you’re not satisfied with her (especially her body) the way she is. Be careful about that. You want to approach it from a viewpoint of wanting her to stay healthy, so the two of you can enjoy your marriage that much longer, not “you need to work out.” By approaching it correctly and being patient, you can convince her.

If you do work out together, never forget to encourage her. Don’t expect her to be as strong as you, able to lift as much weight as you or to have as much endurance as you. Women aren’t built like men. Their bodies have a different type of strength. Compliment her on what she does and on the progress she makes. A switch from 5 lbs. to 10 lbs. on a particular machine is still a 100% increase, no matter how you look at it. That’s worth celebrating.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We’ve talked more than once about how our busy schedules can hinder our ability to have enough time together as a couple. But today, I want to talk about those busy schedules in another way. You see, it’s not just the lack of time together that can cause us problems in our marriages, but how we treat each other, because of our schedules.

We all have the ability to be self-centered. In fact, if you want to see a perfect example of self-centeredness, just look at a baby. As far as they are concerned, the world revolves around them. All they have to do is cry, and everyone jumps to meet their needs.

Unfortunately, some never seem to grow out of that mode. Even though they grow, they still think that the world revolves around them. They look at those around them as existing to meet their needs and desires, not that they might exist to be a blessing to those others. In marriage, this can be one of the most destructive attitudes that exist.

Everybody tends to see their own schedule as the one that matters, but that really isn’t the whole picture. Yes, your schedule matters, but so does your wife’s. When she has things that she needs to do, those are just as important to her as your things are to you.

Notice that I’m not saying her schedule is more important, nor am I saying that your schedule is more important. What I am saying is that they are both important, albeit in different ways.

It’s very easy to forget your wife’s schedule, especially if she doesn’t have a simple 9 to 5 work day. My wife and I both work out of our home, doing different types of work, but sharing the same office. Trying to find time together, when we’re actually looking at each other, instead of looking at our computers is a challenge. Even more so, trying to organize our work and ministry so that we can each be there for the other, when they need us, is a real challenge.

My schedule is a little more fluid than my wife’s; so, I’ve taken it upon myself to be willing to adjust my schedule to hers, so that we can have time together. But, that’s really not the point of what I want to say. You see, I not only need to be available, but I also need to schedule my work in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with her work.

She has classes in the home during various times of the week. So, I need to make sure that I don’t schedule any meetings during her classes. She has times when she needs my help to complete her preparation for class, so I need to make sure that I am available. She has times when she needs to use the car, so I need to be sure that I’m not out somewhere with it. To do all this, I need to be aware of her schedule, so that I can mesh mine with it.

Our children are grown, so we don’t have the problem of babysitters. However, I can still clearly remember those days when we did have that need. If we were doing what we’re doing now, when our children were small, that would add another layer of complexity to the scheduling. When she had classes to teach, I wouldn’t just need to keep my business from interrupting hers, but to take care of the kids as well.

You see, this thing we call marriage is a partnership. I’m not sure where we lost that idea, but in the pioneer days, everyone understood that. Men and women each took care of their areas of responsibility, cognizant of the other’s needs and schedule, so that together they might accomplish everything that needed to be done.

That’s the idea; working together to get everything done. That doesn’t just mean that she works to fit her schedule with yours, but that you fit yours with hers as well. That way, you can both be a support to one another.

Okay, so this may not seem very romantic to you; but let me ask you a question. When your wife does things to make something easier for you, don’t you appreciate it? So, what makes you think that doing things for her won’t be appreciated? You see, while buying flowers and writing poems is romantic, so is showing that you care about her and that you value her as a person. In fact, I’d have to say that in today’s society, she wants to be valued as a person, more than she wants the flowers.

Romance is about showing her that she’s important to you. There are many ways of doing that; including being considerate of her needs, her schedule and her life. Don’t stop buying the flowers, just make sure that you value her as a person as well.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The All-Important Kiss

Have you ever noticed how young dating couples spend lots of their time together kissing? Now, have you ever noticed how little time married couples spend kissing? Not only that, but what most married couples refer to as a kiss is more correctly defined as a peck, not a real kiss.

Something is definitely backwards here. It seems to me that the dating couples should limit themselves to nothing more than a peck, while the married couples should be the kissing experts. After all, they’ve had more opportunity to practice, so they should be much better at it.

It seems that somewhere along the way, kissing ends up being left aside like old baggage. Even in couples who make love frequently, there may not be a whole lot of kissing going on. Yet, in some ways, kisses are even more intimate than sex. Yes, that’s what I said, kissing can actually be more intimate than sexual intercourse.

From what I understand (not from personal experience) prostitutes will let a man do pretty much anything they want to their bodies, but won’t kiss them. These prostitutes understand that kissing is intimate, and they aren’t interested in being intimate with their clients, just providing a service. So, if they think that kissing is intimate, why don’t we get it?

Granted, there are a lot of things which go together to make intimacy exist in a marriage relationship. True communication is also an indispensible ingredient. But that doesn’t negate the importance of kissing one bit. Kissing isn’t just a part of foreplay; it’s a large part of what keeps us close together as a couple. When we kiss, we are drawing ourselves together as a couple, sharing ourselves one with another and telling each other that we want to be emotionally close.

Leaving in the morning, without stopping to kiss your wife could be considered a crime against your marriage. The same could be said for coming home at night, without kissing her. Those moments we take to share our love through a kiss are a very important part of our overall expression of love.

Don’t leave it at that, though. Last I checked, there’s no kiss limit stated on a marriage license. It doesn’t have a line that says, “Good for a maximum of ten kisses per day.” Make kissing a regular part of your day, stopping every once in a while, just to kiss your wife. Let that expression of love become a regular part of your routine; but don’t let it become just routine. Make sure that you both enjoy every kiss break.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

She’s Not Your Enemy

When was your last fight with your wife? Was it last night? Last week? Perhaps, last month? Whenever it was, there’s a good chance you left it feeling like she was against you. Couples deal with this all the time, feeling like the one person who should really be in their corner is the one who is most against them.

The thing we all need to realize is that she’s not our enemy. You have an enemy, but it’s not your wife. That enemy will probably try and speak through you through the actions and words of your wife, but that still doesn’t make her your enemy. It just means that the enemy is pretty good at manipulating your interpretation of what your wife says and does.

The enemy I’m referring to is the devil. Ephesians, chapter six tells us that we don’t battle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers (okay, I shortened it a bit). She’s the flesh and blood, not the spiritual powers. So, why are you battling against her, instead of battling for her?

Whoa, that came out of left field, didn’t it? Actually no. You see, as men, we’ve been created with a violent aggressive nature, not to use against our families, but to use in order to protect them. So, when we’re fighting against our wives, we’re misusing a gift that has been given to us; the gift of violence. It doesn’t matter if that violence is verbal or physical, it’s still violence.

I’ve come to realize that 95% or more marital fighting is due to misunderstandings and miscommunications. If we could only learn to see, hear and understand things as they are intended to be, rather than as we misinterpret them, then we could get rid of a lot of fighting. But, we’ve got that enemy, who is working overtime to make sure that there is plenty of misunderstanding; just so he can keep a lot of fighting going on.

You see, when you are your wife are in agreement, you can begin to pray in agreement. There’s nothing more powerful on the face of this earth than a married couple, praying in agreement. Of course, when you’re not in agreement, that power is gone. The enemy knows this, and is trying to make sure that you aren’t in agreement.

He is speaking to your mind constantly, giving you and I a running commentary about everything that is going on around us. Of course, that running commentary isn’t true, but it sure sounds true. The other trick he uses is to say it all in the first person, so that it sounds to us like our own thoughts. That way, we think that we’re the ones saying those things, not someone else. Since we accept them as our own thoughts, they must be true; so, we run with them.

So, our wives say something like, “Can you take out the garbage?” and we hear, “She’s always telling me what to do, what does she think she is, my boss?” Or she’ll call us when we’re leaving work to say, “Don’t forget to pick up milk and bread on your way home” and we’ll hear, “What does she think I am, an imbecile that can’t remember anything without being reminded all the time?” When she doesn’t look as “hot” as she did when you got married, it’s easy to hear, “Well, she’s over the hill, time to trade her in for a newer model.”

Hmm, sounds to me like a good formula for offenses, misunderstandings, disagreements and fights. When we accept those thoughts as our own, we are helping fuel the fires of divorce, reacting to our wives as our enemies, rather than our closest friends.

So, what can we do? The first thing is to realize that she’s not your enemy. Since she isn’t begin to throw away all those thoughts when they come. As Paul said, “Casting down vain imaginations…” and “…bringing every thought captive” (2 Cor 10:5). When those thoughts come, you don’t have to accept them, just kick them out. Then, start thinking positive thoughts about your wife. That will help you to act in love towards her, rather than in offense.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Start Your Day with Prayer

One of the standard pieces of marriage advice that many Christian counselors give is to make sure that you take the time to pray together. While that is great advice, many couples struggle to find a time when they can actually take a few minutes to sit down and pray. Our hurry-up-and-wait schedule seems to make it extremely hard to find time to say “Hi” to each other, let alone sit down and pray together.

My wife and I work out of our home. In addition to the ministry, we both have businesses that we run out of our home. You’d think that would make it easy for us to find time together, especially time to pray. Unfortunately, it’s not all that easy. Even though we share an office, share a bedroom, and even occasionally eat together, it’s hard to find time to pray together. Not that we don’t pray, but we have trouble finding a time to pray together. Our schedules just don’t seem to mesh all that well.

We find some great wisdom for this in Genesis, where it says that God “walked with Adam in the cool of the day.” I had always thought of that as the evening; that is, I thought that way until I moved to South Texas. Evenings here aren’t cool, their hot. The cool of the day is the early morning, before the sun has a chance to heat things up.

So, in other words, Adam communed with God before doing anything else. If you think about it, that really makes sense. Why do anything else, before taking time out to talk to God about it? If we don’t take the time to get with God, then we’re setting ourselves up for problems.

Okay, so what does this have to do with marriage? Well, an important part of your prayer every day should be to pray God’s protection over your wife. So, make sure you do that. Before either of you leave the house in the morning, grab her hand and pray for God’s protection and blessing over her.

Even if you only take a minute to pray together, that’s probably better than what you’re doing now. Granted, it would be much better if you could spend some serious prayer time together. But, you know something? If you wait until you can find some serious prayer time that you can have together, you’re probably never going to find time that you can pray together. However, if you start out small, you’ve got the opportunity for growth.

Your wife needs your prayers. The world in which we live is a dangerous one, especially for women. That few minutes of prayer in the morning might be the only thing that keeps your wife safe that day. Would you deny her that? No, not willingly, but you might do so by forgetting to pray.