Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Make the Time to Love Her

Many a time on this blog I’ve talked about the difficulty many of us have in finding enough time for our wives. Modern society puts a lot of strain on our schedules, making it hard to have time for anything but work and sleep. If anything, the current prolonged financial crisis that the country has been facing has made it worse. Employers are demanding more of their workforce, taking advantage of the fact that people can’t afford to leave their jobs.

I feel the pinch just as much as any of you do. I’m running a business and a ministry as well. That’s about like holding down two jobs, and still I try and make sure that I have time for my wife and kids. It’s a challenge, but I’ve never heard a man lament on his deathbed that he didn’t spend enough time at work. No, they all lament that they didn’t spend enough time with the people that mattered to them.

Finding time for your wife requires two things: creativity and determination. That’s it. If you have those two ingredients, you can surely find ways of spending time with your wife. Creativity is necessary because you might have to come up with some unusual ways to spend time together, something more original that Saturday night date night. Determination is important to make you put other things aside, in favor of the more important act of spending time with your wife. Without determination, there are a million things which will come along to steal that time.

What brought this subject to mind for me once again is thinking about preparations for another trip. When I travel for the ministry, the week before is one of hectic preparations. Not only do I have to try and work ahead in my business, so that I take care of my clients before leaving town, but I need to make books, CDs and DVDs to take with me. So, once again it’s like working two jobs, but instead of working normal hours, working overtime in both.

In the midst of all that activity it can be easy to ignore my wife and kids. But, they need me just as much before I leave on a trip as they do when I’m home. Actually, if anything, they need me more. So, I have to make a special effort to be there for them.

If you were to leave on a business trip and something happened to you while you were gone, what type of memories would you want to leave in the minds of your wife and kids? Would you want them to remember that at that last minute, you didn’t have time for them? Or, would you want to leave them with one last happy memory of the time you spent together? Okay, the answer to that is obvious.

Well, what about the trip you take to work every day? Isn’t there just as much a chance of an accident on that trip as there is traveling across the country? Couldn’t you die of a massive heart attack any day of your life? So, what type of memory are you leaving in their minds when you head off for work every day? What was the last time you spent together like? Will it create a lifetime of happiness for them, or will it leave a bitter taste in their mouths?

I can’t forget the testimony of a woman who told her husband she wanted a divorce over the breakfast table one morning. Her husband never made it home from work that day. The last memory she has of him, was telling him that she wanted a divorce. What a sad memory to have the rest of her life.

If there’s one memory which we should leave in the hearts and minds of our wives and of our kids, it’s the strong memory that we love them. Every time we head out the door, we need to make sure that’s the memory we leave them with. That way, we will have nothing to regret.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Me, Write a Love Letter?

Women love words. In case you hadn’t noticed, they tend to use more of them than we do. Whereas we get turned on by looking at their bodies, they get turned on by the words that we speak. So, it would seem to me that it would be in our benefit to learn how to use words well.

Most guys freak out at the idea of writing a love letter, or expressing their love in any verbal manner whatsoever. But, you know, it’s really not all that hard. You don’t have to be a Shakespeare to write a love letter, all you have to do is put words on paper. The words you choose have to be words that express  your love in a positive way, so that your wife will receive a message of love from them.

I remember back in school, when I had to write papers. I used to hate it. I’d write what I thought was an interesting paper, with lots of facts presented in a logical manner. Then the teachers would ignore my content, downgrading me for misplaced commas, spelling errors and wrong verb forms. It didn’t matter what I had written; all they cared about was whether I remembered to dot my I’s and cross my t’s. Definitely have me a bad taste for writing (and now I’m a writer, how ironic).

Then, my wife and I were working on some projects together, and the same thing happened all over again. I’d write something, and instead of saying something like “Wow, that’s a really great explanation,” my wife would point out the same sorts of errors that the teacher’s did. Not cool.

Nevertheless, you and I can relax, because that doesn’t happen with love letters. Love letters are about content, not about grammar and spelling. Your wife isn’t going to give you a D- in the love letter department, just because your grammar isn’t up to snuff. However, she might give you that D- if you never writer her one.

Love letters are about expressing feelings; specifically the feeling of love. So, that’s what you need to do. How? Actually it’s rather simple. Pick something that you love about your wife and tell her. Say, “I love you because…” or “I love the way you…” anything like that will work. You can embellish it with a few strategically placed “I love you” statements and maybe a few other phrases like “you’re so special” and “I’m so glad I married you.” Actually, the more embellishments like that you can come up with, the better.

Don’t worry if it’s not about to make it to the top ten on the New York Times Best Seller’s List. It will make it to her top ten list and that’s all that matters. The fact that you wrote her a love letter is the key. So, grab a pen or your computer keyboard and get writing. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Love in Spite of Yourself

There’s been a teaching going around the Body of Christ for the last 20 years or so, which says that “love isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision.” I’ve heard that so many times, that I’ve gotten sick of it. Can you imaging some guy saying to his wife, “I love you dear. I don’t feel anything for you, but I’ve still decided that I love you anyway.” How far do you think that would get him?

To only say that love is a choice is to remove the joy from a loving relationship. It makes that relationship sound like something we put up with, as a responsibility, because we have to. I don’t know about you, but I don’t love my wife only because it’s a responsibility; and I don’t want her to love me just because she has to either. I want to share a deep, abiding love, that transcends difficulties, problems and disagreements. A love that we can always come back to, having confidence that the other one will always be there for us.

If the only love I have for my wife is a forced love, based upon a decision I have made, then I may as well be a robot. One cannot have the type of love that brings two hearts close together, when it’s just something that’s forced.

Having said that, I will say that the act of expressing love is something that we must make a decision to do on a continuing, ongoing basis. That’s where we get in trouble. We allow our emotions to control our actions; acting with love when we feel that she “deserves it” and acting otherwise when we don’t. That’s a problem.

Here is where the decision part has to come in. We are commanded to love our wives, as Christ loved the Church (Eph 5:25). So, we must make a decision to follow that commandment, and act in love towards our wives, no matter what is going on around us or in us.

All too often our wives suffer from lack of love, not because of anything they’ve done wrong, but because of what others have done to us, or because of the circumstances we find ourselves in. We inadvertently take out the problems of life on our wives, denying them the love they so desperately need, because something else has us feeling bad. What foolishness!

I don’t know how your wedding vows read, but mine said that I promised to love my wife no matter what. Implied in that was the commitment to express love to her in a way that would meet her emotional needs, regardless of what I was going through.

Now, let me say right here, that’s not always easy. There are many times when I feel more like I need to be loved, instead of feeling like I can give love. It can be very hard to express love to another, when one isn’t feeling loved themselves. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, just that it’s hard.

Let me ask you something… how do we normally define someone as being “manly?” Isn’t it because they do the hard things? We look at a Navy Seal and see him as very manly, because of what he does. We look at pro football players the same way. We look at some guy that scales the world’s tallest mountain and think, What a man!” Everything that impresses us about manliness is the toughness of character to do the hard things.

Okay, let’s apply that to our marriages. Wouldn’t it show that someone is a real man if they acting loving towards their wife, even though it was hard to do so? Isn’t that the same character trait as the one who climbs that mountain? It sure is in my book.

Your wife needs your love. It isn’t just some fairy tale desire she has. It’s not that she is asking for anything unreasonable. She has a need and you’re the only one who can satisfy it. So, what have you done to show your wife that you love her today?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sunrise, Sunset

Every couple I’ve ever met struggles with finding enough time to be together. Yet, while many fail in that struggle, there are a few I’ve known who succeed in finding ways to make time for each other. Some of those ways are rather imaginative, as they have had to work around jobs, kids and every other interruption that life throws our way.

You see, those who have time for each other aren’t a special category of people. They aren’t people who don’t have to work for a living or who never have their car break down. Their children aren’t any better behaved than anybody else’s and their bosses aren’t particularly understanding about their personal live. The one and only thing that make these people stand out from all the other couples I know is that they make a special effort to make time for one another.

Yes, making time to be together as a couple is an effort. It doesn’t happen automatically, it only happens when we make it happen. So, the real question isn’t whether or not we have time to spend together, it’s whether or not we make time to spend together.

That may require setting something aside that was taking time better spent on your marriage. It may require coming up with some new ideas. It may require using a bit of imagination. There’s always a way to make time to be together, if both parties are willing to make some adjustments in their lives.

My wife and I are on very different schedules. I’m an early riser and she’s a night owl. So, the idea of spending time together early in the morning is totally out of the question. We have trouble spending any time together in the evening as well, because she teaches classes then. So, it’s rather hard to have a weekly date night. We have to do something different.

Our date time is going out to lunch together. That’s the time that works best for both our schedules. It’s not ideal, but it’s a whole lot better than not spending any time together at all.

I remember the years that we were living in the motorhome, traveling in the ministry. That motorhome was our vehicle, house, office and school for our kids. There was no such thing as privacy during those years. Even the door to our “bedroom” was an iffy thing, not closing all the way. So, if we wanted time together, we’d have to find a way to get away from the kids.

Many a time, our time alone was walking through a Wal-Mart; not buying, just walking. Granted, that’s not the most romantic of date settings, but at least we were together, without anyone else bothering us. We’d wait until the kids went to bed, then we’d take our walk together. Those few minutes alone together were very precious to us.

Okay, here’s another idea; one that’s so easy, that we should all be able to do it. Take the time to watch the sunrise or sunset together. Fix yourselves a cup of coffee or tea, find a nice quiet place, snuggle up together and watch the birth of a new day. What’s that? You don’t like getting up early? No problem, get up to watch the sunrise, and then go back to bed. Or, the other thing you can do is to watch the sunset together, instead of the sunrise.

There’s something special about watching a sunrise or sunset together. I don’t know what it is, but just sitting there quietly; watching the changing colors as the light from the sun hits the clouds and upper atmosphere is awesome. To me, it reminds me of how great God is and how insignificant we are.

There’s a stillness at those times of day as well, especially for the sunrise. Nothing to disturb you and nothing to distract you; just the two of you alone with nature. You should try it sometime.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Aroma of Flowers

What does your wife do with the flowers that you give her? I’m assuming that you give her flowers every once in a while. I’m also assuming that she puts them in a vase to enjoy them. That’s not the question, the question is, what does she do with them when they start dying and drying out? Is that the end of them? Do they end up in the trash? Or does she do something more creative?

Well, if she doesn’t do anything creative with them, that doesn’t mean that you can’t. Old, dead flowers are still useful, especially if they are aromatic flowers, like roses. These flowers smell good, even after they die and dry out. So, why not take advantage of that?

If you catch the flowers just before they wilt, this’ll work best. You can do it afterwards, but they won’t look as good. Take them out of the vase, bunch them together with a rubber band, and hang them upside down to dry. We usually hang them from a curtain rod in the kitchen, but you can do it anywhere. That’s just a convenient place which is out of the way and not easily forgotten.

Once the flowers are dried, there are a number of things you can do with them. They can go back in a vase, as dried flowers. My wife has a couple of vases like that, where she’s saved dried out flowers that I’ve given her. Since she doesn’t save the greenery, those dried bequests are actually a few dozed stems together. So, they make a really nice looking bouquet.

Another thing that you can do with them is to take the flowers off the stems, or take the petals off the flowers and put them in a bowl as potpourri. Now, I know you’re probably not all that interested in potpourri. That’s really not a guy thing; it’s more of a girl thing. But, you’re not doing it for you; you’re doing it for her.

Potpourri can go anywhere in the house. You can add to it, as new batches of flowers dry out and stir it up every once in a while to make the aroma come out stronger. It’s great in the bathroom or any other part of the house where you might need to cover up some unpleasant odors.

Remember, your wife’s nose is more sensitive than yours. So, even if you don’t smell the flowers, she might. Besides, it becomes an ongoing reminder of the times you’ve bought her flowers. Of course, if you stop buying her flowers, it could become a reminder that you aren’t doing it any more. So, I guess you’ll just have to keep the florist shop happy, so that you can keep your wife happy as well.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chivalry is Not Dead!

The recent tragedy in Aurora, Colorado once more brought home the thought of how dangerous life is and how fleeting it is as well. I doubt that any of those people who went to see the Batman movie had any idea that they were living the last day of their lives, or even that they wouldn’t get to see the end of the movie. Yet, in a moment, everything went from good to bad, from enjoying the movie to running in horror and for some, from life to death.

Even though it was a tragedy, several wonderful stories have come out of that event. There was a Christian woman who used her on-camera interview to share her faith. There were others who were astounded that they survived, while others were gunned down. But the one I like the best is about the three men who gave their lives to save their girlfriends.

Yes, three of the victims that died in that theatre gave up their lives to save that of someone dear to them. They used their bodies as human shields, covering up their girlfriends, and by doing so, paid the ultimate price to show their love. While it is sad that they died for their efforts, it gives me great joy to know that there are still men in the world who understand what it means to be a man, in the sense of protecting those who they love.

None of us knows what we’ll do in a situation like that. Oh, we can think about it and tell ourselves that we’d be heroes, but we really don’t know. Until the bullets start flying, we have no idea how we would act, all we have is hope that we’ll comport ourselves well.

Those three men fulfilled what Jesus said, when He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). They freely took that risk, knowing the potential cost, but willingly paying it, if it meant that their love would be able to live.

As men, we think we’d act the same. We’ve been raised on stories of protecting the lives of our loved ones. Yet, there’s another aspect of laying down our lives that gives us great trouble. That’s the aspect of laying down our lives on a daily basis, in order to do the things we need to do to bring happiness to the lives of our wives.

There’s more to laying down one’s life than being willing to die. The harder part is being willing to die to self; being willing to give up our likes and desires, in order to serve our wives in love. As we say that we’re willing to die for them, we demonstrate that we’re not, by not leaving behind things that we want, in order to be with them.

Before I married my wife, I used to go hunting and fishing. I loved the great outdoors; and I lived in Colorado, so there was plenty of opportunity to enjoy it. I had a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle, which I loved; using it for going to work and especially for drives in the mountains. There’s nothing like a drive in the mountains on a motorcycle, with no car body impeding your view of nature.

Even so, my wife is a city girl. She was afraid of my motorcycle, didn’t like hunting or fishing, or even camping. She basically couldn’t stand anything that might get her dirty. Her idea of camping was a hotel room with a swimming pool.

So, I stopped hunting and fishing and even sold my motorcycle. Yes, I did. Now, before you start thinking that I made such a big sacrifice, let me stop you right there. I willingly gave those things up. You see, she was more important to me than any of them. So, it was easy to give them up. If my wife wasn’t going to hunt and fish with me, why would I want to go? If she was afraid to ride the Gold Wing with me, why would I want to ride her? Being with her was more important than those things.

Okay, let’s get a bit more basic. What about when I’m sitting comfortably on the sofa, watching a movie and she wants me to do something? How do I react to that? If my reaction is grumbling and complaining, I’m sending her the message that the movie is more important than she is. Ouch!

You see, it’s great to lay down your life in protecting your wife. I think that there are times that chivalry demands it of us as men, as it did with those three men in Aurora. However, it’s also great to lay down your life on a daily basis, setting aside what you want, in order to do what she wants. 

C’mon now; don’t you want her to do that for you at time? Well then, show her the example. You can’t expect her to do things for you, which you aren’t willing to do for her. Do more than boast that you’d lay down your life for her; live it. Let her see through your actions that she is more important than anything else in your life, except your relationship with God. That will do more to prove that you’re romantic than anything else you can do.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I once heard it said that dance was a vertical expression of a horizontal idea. Now, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know that dance, in and of itself, is a great idea. It doesn’t need to express anything else, because it expresses its own idea; that of moving and working together in a beautiful way.

My wife and I met dancing; not in a night club or anything like that, but doing international folk dancing. We were part of a recreational group that got together every Saturday night to dance the old dances from much of Europe and around the world. It was good clean, wholesome fun that people of all ages could do, and it was a great way to get to know each other in a non-threatening environment.

Dancing together as a couple is a great lesson in working together. For two people to move as one, one needs to lead and the other follow. In dance, the man is supposed to lead, while the woman follows. However, it’s amazing how many couples have that mixed up. The woman leads, while the man follows. Whenever I see that, I have to wonder what that says about the rest of their marriage. If she can’t follow him on the dance floor, how can she follow him through the perils of life? If he can’t lead her on the dance floor, how can he lead her through a crisis?

Dance is also great social intercourse. It’s a way of joining together in an activity that is intimate and invigorating, physical while building trust in one another. A couple who can dance well together can move through many other things in life together as well.

One great thing about dance is that it can be done anywhere. You don’t have to go out to dance; you can do it in the living room, your bedroom, even the back yard. Just put on some music, grab your wife and dance. Why not?

It’s interesting to note that dance has been a major part of social intercourse throughout history. While there are many different styles of dance, it has always been a part of how people related to each other, especially between the sexes. In fact, in times past, when dating didn’t exist, one of the few socially acceptable ways of meeting available members of the opposite sex was through dance.

There’s probably a fairly good chance that you and your wife danced when you were dating. Now, I’ll have to say that what passes itself off as dancing today doesn’t have the grace and style of times past. Nor is much of it very intimate. Nevertheless, what we refer to today as slow dancing provides much of the same time together that older styles of dance did.

Many communities offer dance lessons of one sort or another, so don’t try and use your lack of ability as an excuse. Sign up to take some lessons together, get out and learn how to dance with your wife.
Even more important than the lessons though is taking the opportunity to just do it. Put on some music and dance with her. Don’t worry about your two left feet or the kids making fun of you, enjoy yourselves together. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Don’t Make Her Ask You

Every family has a certain division of duties. It can vary from family to family, but within each family there are things that he does and things that she does. In some cases, the division is brought about by abilities, in others by what you had learned as children and in still others because that thing is more important to one than the other. Regardless, it’s a reality that exists.

Let’s take something simple, like taking out the trash. That seems to be a typical “male” chore in most home. It could be that it’s worked out that way because the trash tends to get heavy, or it could just be that women don’t like to handle dirty stuff.

Okay, so let’s say that you’re the one who takes out the trash. Let me ask you a question, do you take out the trash when you see it’s getting full, or when your wife asks you to? It’s funny, but in most cases, guys don’t take out the trash till their wives ask them to. Now, I’m going to give us all the benefit of the doubt and assume that we’re mature adults; so if that’s the case, why does she need to ask?

Mature adults take responsibility for doing what needs to be done. They don’t have to be told, because they’re adults. That’s part of what being an adult is. So, it would stand to reason that we are all capable of taking out the trash, without our wives asking us to.

Yet, most of us wait until she asks. Even worse than that, we then complain that she’s nagging us and telling us what to do. You see? We’re creating our own problem. Instead of doing what we know we need to do, we put ourselves in the position where our wife has to treat us as if we can’t do things on our own; then, we complain when she does.

You know, by and large, women don’t like asking their husbands to do things. That’s because they don’t want to receive any sort of negative reaction from us. They’d rather keep that need bottled up inside them, then risk having a confrontation or an angry reaction.

When that’s happening, it’s not building up anyone’s marriage. If anything, it’s tearing down the marriage. Maybe it’s not intentionally down the marriage; but it’s not intentionally avoiding tearing it down either.

Okay, so what should you do? Simple, make an effort to take care of things, before your wife notices that they need to be taken care of. She may not notice that you’ve done it, but she won’t be noticing that you haven’t either. That will remove one more concern, one more worry and helping her to be more relaxed and enjoy life.

I’m sure you realize that I’m not just talking about the trash here, I’m talking about anything and everything that falls into your area of the home. Don’t assume that just because it’s your responsibility, that she won’t worry about it; she probably will. The only way to keep her from worrying is to be sure that you take care of it, before she notices it.

I’d say that more than anything, that requires an awareness of what needs to be done. Our wives tend to notice that stuff a whole lot better than we do, so we’ve got to develop an awareness. Learn to look at things and see what kind of shape they’re in. Learn to see that the lawn needs mowing, the car needs washing and the garbage needs to be taken out. That way, she won’t be having to look at it so much.

Is this romantic? In a sense it is. It’s helping to keep peace in the home by taking care of things that are important to her. That’s an act of service, one of the five love languages. It shows your wife that you care about what she cares about and are committed to the family. That’s important to her. So, while taking the trash out may not invoke any feelings of passion in her, it does set the stage for those feelings to be awakened.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Start Her a Collection

Buying little gifts for your wife can be a bit of a challenge. At times, it can be extremely hard to figure out what women like (or what anyone likes for that matter). Even if you know your wife well enough to know what sorts of things she likes, thinking of that and then finding something in that category can be a challenge.

Fortunately for us guys, almost all women like some sort of trinket, decorative items. That helps quite a bit in the “find her a gift” department. When all else fails, you can always buy some sort of cute decorative item and know that it will be appreciated.

I’d like to stack the deck in our favor though. I mean, if we’re going to buy gifts for our wives (which we should), isn’t it better to have some sort of a plan to make sure that it’s going to work.

Okay, so how do we stack the deck in our favor? Simple, start her a collection. That way, when you need to buy her a gift, you can always buy something that adds to that collection. Not only does the collection grow and become more special, but you’ve created an instant win for every time that you buy something to add to it.

Now, not all women are natural collectors. I’ve known some that seem like they’ve been collecting the same thing for 30 years or more; and then there are others who are grandmas and have never collected anything. That doesn’t mean that your wife won’t appreciate you starting her a collection; especially if you can find something to help her collect that she can really identify with.

That’s the real key; actually it’s the real key for just about anything with women. A woman needs to be able to make an emotional connection with things. She’ll buy a car, because she’s able to connect with it. Same thing with a sofa or lamp or even clothing. So, you’ve got to pick out something that she can identify with; some category of thing to collect, which touches her heart strings.

You can get a lot of hints about this from things that your wife likes to do and things that she already has. For example, when my wife and I got married, she had a piano. Now, I’ll have to say that although my wife plays the piano rather well, she never has done so very often in our 25 years of marriage. Nevertheless, that piano is part of her identity. She minored in music (piano) in college and has a fairly extensive collection of music for it. There are classical pieces (she loves classical music) that she learned over 30 years ago, and can still play from memory.

So, a number of years ago, I had needed a gift idea for her and happened into a Hallmark shop. Lo and behold, they had a number of piano music boxes there on a shelf. Bingo! That became the instant start of a collection. Through the years, I’ve bought my wife a number of piano music boxes, adding to the collection bit by bit. It’s still not very large, but she has several there on the shelf with her music.

My youngest daughter is a ballerina. For a few years, she danced in the local production of the Nutcracker performance at Christmastime. Instead of bringing her flowers to her first performance, we bought her a nutcracker (that was almost a no-brainer). She now has nine different nutcrackers sitting on a shelf above her desk.

We have a friend named Cathy, who happens to love cats. Lo and behold, another collection opportunity. There’s a company which makes fine glassware and also makes glass cat collectibles as part of their product line. She started a collection of glass cats, which has grown to over 300 thanks to her husband, her family and friends. She is actually known by the name “Cat” and when she went to visit that company’s factory a few years ago, was received there like visiting royalty.

Another lady we know has a teddy bear collection with a couple of hundred “members.” Her collection isn’t as fragile as the glass cats, so she has seated groups of teddy bears all over her house. My mother has a Hummel figuring collection that my dad built for her. Another lady we know collects precious moments figurines.

You see, once you find something that your wife can connect with, you’ve got it. From then on, it’s just a matter of building the collection, bit by bit. That doesn’t mean that you only by those collectibles for her (please don’t do that), but that you have something you can use as a surprise gift or an additional gift at Christmas time, birthdays and when you’re desperate for an idea.

So, build her a collection, it’ll help decorate the house and every time she sees it, she’ll be able to remember that you did it for her. 

I feel it's appropriate to mention that the picture for today's blog post was painted by Janet Kruskamp. To see this painting and other artwork by her, please click on the image.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Keep Your Eyes Open

One of the things that work great with romance is spontaneity. Now, you may not be the spontaneous sort of guy; you might be the type that plans everything out to the T. I mean, your vacations are even run by the clock. Okay, buy that’s not saying that you can’t still be spontaneous.

More than anything, being spontaneous means keeping your eyes open for opportunities to be romantic. You never know when you’ll see something or hear something that gives you an opportunity to do or say something to show your wife that you love her. Let me give you a few examples.
  • You’re walking in the park and encounter someone selling roses; buy her one.
  • You’re wife is bemoaning the bad things that people are saying about her at work; tell her a list of things that you think are great about her.
  • You’re on your way home from somewhere; stop and eat, get an ice cream, or a latte along the way.
  • You’re in a store and see some little doodad that you think she’d like; buy it for her.
  • You’re in another store and pass by the greeting cards; buy an “I love you” card and mail it to her.

See? It’s really not hard to be spontaneous. More than anything, it takes an awareness of the opportunities that present themselves. Actually, it’s about thinking about your wife all that time, so that you see those opportunities that present themselves.

Once upon a time, you fell in love with your wife. In that time, you were thinking about her day and night. Well, what happened? Why did you stop thinking about her all the time? Probably because you started thinking about the negative things you see in her, instead of focusing on the positive ones. Since that’s nowhere near as enjoyable, you stopped thinking about her as much.

That’s easy to remedy. All you have to do is begin thinking positively about her again. Think of all the things you love about her. Think about how much you love to make love to her. Think about the things which caused you to fall in love with her in the first place. Think about the feel of her skin when you touch her. Think about how much of a blessing it is that God decided “it’s not good for man to be alone.”

Thinking this way about her will help you to put things into a positive perspective. You’ll start feeling more positive about her and react as if you do. You’ll also become more aware of those romantic opportunities that present themselves.

One other little detail. When you do those spontaneous romantic acts, present them as romantic acts. If you stop for a latte with your wife, don’t say “I want a cup of coffee” tell her, “I thought you’d like a latte.” See the difference? One is self-centered, while the other is her centered. She’s not going to see anything as romantic, as long as it is self-centered. It has to be about her, or it isn’t going to work.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Those Little Irritations – Part 2

Yesterday, I talked about giving grace to your wife and overlooking the things that she does which irritate you. I’m sure that in the ensuing 24 hours you have become an expert on that and don’t need for me to elaborate further. But, what about the flip side of the coin? Are you doing things which irritate her?

Yeah, I know, she should overlook those, just like you should overlook hers. Actually, you’ve probably been saying that to yourself for years. After all, you’re the man of the house, why should you have to submit to her desires?

Hold on a minute, this isn’t about submission, nor is it about bowing to her desires; it’s about maintaining peace and tranquility in the home, so that there is an atmosphere in which romance can blossom. If you’ve got the wrong attitude, it doesn’t matter what romantic acts you do, they’re not going to be perceived as romantic.

As I said yesterday, all of us do things which are irritating to our mates. Our wives do it to us and we do it to them as well. Actually, if we were to do a poll, I’d say that men do more things to irritate their wives than wives do to irritate their husbands. Maybe that’s because women are more relationally oriented. So, they have a more accurate image of the man they want us to be.

Anyway, what are those things which you do, that irritate your wife? Whatever they are, they’re probably pretty small. Nevertheless, they are causing friction in your relationship, so they are a problem.

Let me ask you this, how important are those things to you? Would it be a real problem to change them? How about this one, how important are they, when you compare them to your marriage? If they don’t stack up as being all that important, then why are you continuing to do them?

Okay, I know, that one hurt. But, let’s be real. The reality is that many of the things we hold onto aren’t all that important, once we see them in the light of an honest comparison to something that’s really important to us. We inflate those things, making them bigger in our eyes than they really are; then we wonder why they end up being a bone of contention between us and our wives. That’s not real smart.

When I got married, I had to make a number of changes in my life. I changed everything from what time of day I took a shower, to getting rid of my motorcycle. Now, I really liked that motorcycle; it was a Honda Gold Wing. But, you know something? I loved my wife even more; and since she was afraid to get on it, there wasn’t a whole lot of reason for me to keep it. So, I decided to let it go. It was more important to me to have my wife riding with me, than what ride I was riding.

Most of the things which we do, which irritate our wives, aren’t anywhere near as big as that. They’re little things, more on the order of throwing our dirty clothes on the floor, instead of putting them in the hamper. Now, I know you and I are both old enough to pick up your own dirty clothes, so what do we have trouble doing it?

Remember, your wife isn’t your servant, or your slave. You want her to be your lover more than anything else. Well, how can she feel like a lover, when you treat her like a servant?

You see, the changes I’ve made were to make our life together better. That was enough reason, in and of itself, to motivate me to make those changes. I didn’t need my wife to cajole me or nag me. All I needed was to see that it was something that bothered her. That was enough. I want to make my wife happy, not miserable.

So, what are you doing that irritates your wife? Is there a bad habit that you need to break? Are you doing something that treats her like a servant, rather than a lover? Is there something that you do, which puts her and your relationship with her on the back burner? If your answer to any of those is “yes” I think you know what you need to do.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Those Little Irritations

Having just come back from vacation, I was reminded of how useful it can be to be nearly blind. Of course, I’m not talking about being physically blind, because there is nothing useful about that. I am amazed by blind people who can still do things and wouldn’t want to join their ranks for anything.

No, what I’m talking about is being blind to things that are better off not seen. In the book “Shogun” there is a statement made by an older woman, where she says something to the effect that she’s glad that she can’t see well, because she’d rather not see many of the things that are going on around her. Although she was referring to her physical loss of sight in the first part of that statement, in the second part, she was talking about sight in the metaphorical sense.

There’s some great wisdom in that. Often, there are things that we’re better off not seeing. A person who is physically blind can overlook many things, because they can’t see them. On the other hand, those of us who are sighted tend to focus on things that are best ignored.

Let’s be real here. It’s impossible to live with others, without finding things about them that irritate us. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about kids, co-workers, neighbors or spouses; they all have something irritating about them. You know something? We do too.

Why is it that we spend so much time and energy focusing on those unimportant little irritants in our spouses? Wouldn’t we all be much better off if we learned how to overlook them? Why focus on the way that she does things differently than your mother did them, if what she is doing works for her? Isn’t that ultimately the proof of the pudding, that it works?

Any marriage counselor can tell you that when a couple comes in for help on their marriage, the things that they complain about first aren’t the real issues; they’re the minor irritations. They’ll talk about how he throws his dirty clothes on the floor and how she leaves her lingerie hanging in the shower. Other major issues, such as how a toothpaste tube should be squeezed and which way the toilet paper roll should go on the holder are also popular complaints.

I just have one thing to say about all that… so what? Are those things really all that important? Are they worth fussing over? Are they worth even paying attention to? NO!

In my office, my son is in the habit of leaving the chair for the computer he uses sticking out in the aisle when he leaves. That means that I have to push that chair in, so that I can get to my desk. Now, if I was into majoring on the minors, I could very easily get irritated about that. I could even work myself up into being angry over it. After all, it costs me a whole two seconds to move that chair and I have to do it two or three times a day. If he cared about my time, he’d be more considerate and not leave that chair in my way!

Sound ridiculous? It is. Yet, that’s how ridiculous we all sound when we make a big deal over the little things that our wives and other family members do. So what? Let it go. Quit using a magnifying glass to look at your wife, so that you can find her flaws. Focus on the good, not the bad.

A great word here is the word “overlook.” It expresses the idea of looking over something, so that you can see another. That’s what we need to learn how to do. We need to learn how to look over the minor things our wives do, so that we can see the great people that they are. What a great way to do things. That helps us to keep a positive attitude towards them, maintaining our love, instead of building our anger and hatred.

Love cannot continue to exist without grace. When we first met our wives, we extended them lots of grace. Everything that was wrong with them and everything that they did wrong was overlooked. We need to go back to that. Why bother being upset about things that don’t really matter. Appreciate the wonderful woman that she is, and love her for it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Importance of Non-Sexual Touch – Part 2

Yesterday, I was talking about non-sexual touch and how important it is that we have it, so that our wives don’t think that every time we touch them, we expect it to end in sex. I also mentioned that it is one of the five love languages which Gary Chapman talked about in his book. I’d like to back that up today, with a little bit of science.

Our bodies are incredibly complex machines. As part of their normal function, they produce a wide variety of chemicals which are necessary for proper function, both physically and emotionally. Yes, our emotions are affected by our bodies, most specifically by the chemicals that our bodies produce.

In addition to our body’s chemicals affecting our emotions, our emotions affect our body’s chemistry. Actually, it’s the thoughts associated with those feelings that affect our body’s chemistry, but who’s being picky? The hypothalamus in the back of the brain is directly wired into our thoughts, and controls our body’s production of many hormones and other chemicals. These in turn affect our body and our thoughts.

Anyone who has ever been around a woman during her PMS time realizes that hormones definitely have an emotional impact on us. That isn’t just true for women, it’s also true for men as well (although not as obvious).

One of the hormones which the hypothalamus produces is oxytocin.  In recent medical studies, oxytocin has been found to be an important part of the process of marital bonding. For this reason, some people call it the monogamy hormone. The emotional effect of oxytocin, which plays such an essential part of this bonding is that it causes us to feel in love with the other person. That in turn causes bonding.

Oxytocin is released in our systems in various degrees through thinking positively about someone, sexual activity and physical touch. So, in a literal sense, physical touch is a language of love, because it causes us to feel in love with the other person. However, if the person is thinking negatively, during the touch, no oxytocin is released. That means for women who have a negative attitude about sex and that think that every time their husband touches them, he expects sex, there is no benefit.

A couple which has lots of non-sexual touch will feel more love towards one another. That makes it very important. The whole idea of being romantic is to stimulate feelings of love. That’s what oxytocin does. As long as your wife is enjoying the touch, her feelings of love are increasing towards you. Of course, the converse is true as well. As long as you are enjoying touching her, your feelings of love are increasing as well.

Look at dating teens for example. They touch each other so much, its’ as if they can’t survive five minutes without touching. All that touch makes them fall in love with each other. They see that other person as the most perfect example of their gender on the face of the planet. It doesn’t matter that their friends think they’re nuts, they know that they’ve found the love of their life.

Okay guys, all this means that we need to learn how to enjoy that non-sexual touch too. I don’t know about you, but I love the feeling of my wife’s soft, smooth skin. I enjoy touching her, even when there’s nothing sexual about it. She enjoys it as well, because she doesn’t feel threatened by it.

So, how often should you touch your wife, non-sexually? How about every chance you get? That should be almost enough. As you do, both of you will feel closer together, more romantic and more in love.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Importance of Non-Sexual Touch

According to Gary Chapman’s best-selling book, “The Five Love Languages” physical touch is one of the ways in which we express love to one another. To us, as guys, this sounds great. We all tend to think that sexual intimacy not only fulfills this role of expressing love, but is something to enjoy as well.

Unfortunately, our wives don’t see it that way. To them, sexual expressions of love are pretty-much one way; that is, them expressing love to us, but not receiving it from us. Part of that is because we’re the ones with the strong sexual desire. So, to our wives, our sexual encounters aren’t about us expressing our love towards them, as much as they are about us having our needs be satisfied by them.

Another part of this problem can be that most women don’t receive enough sexual orgasms to really believe that when they have sex, they’ll have an orgasm. There are a number of reasons for this, both emotional and physical. Some common ones are:
  • Lack of sexual frequency – The less frequent, the harder it is for her to have an orgasm
  • Lack of sufficient stimulation – When it’s over quick, she doesn’t get enough stimulation to have an orgasm
  • Emotional hurts – Whether we realize it or not, we’re pretty good at unintentionally hurting our wives
  • No emotional connection – For a woman to have an orgasm, she needs to have a solid emotional connection with her husband outside of the bed
  • Not feeling loved – Yes, for her, it’s not the sex that makes her feel loved, sex comes out of feeling loved
  • Tiredness – By bedtime, most women are exhausted. They don’t have the emotional or physical energy to invest in lovemaking
  • Lack of romance – This ties in with “not feeling loved.” When romance is lacking in the marriage, she feels like sex is a chore, not a joy
  • Poor self-esteem – A woman’s self-esteem affects her ability to enjoy sex. If she’s self-conscious about being overweight, she won’t want to be seen, even though you want to see her. If she’s feeling bad about herself, she’ll feel as if she can’t be loved.

This list is by no means complete, nor is it intended to be. These are just some of the more common reasons why a woman won’t receive a sexual orgasm. Okay, so what does that have to do with touch?

Since men have such a strong sexual desire, when we touch our wives, there are pretty much always some sexual thoughts running around someplace in our minds. Our original intention may not have been sexual, but the act of touching her often brings about those thoughts. We typically follow them, to see where they might lead.

The result of that is that our wives think that every time we touch them, we’re just after sex. While I’d have to say that there is some element of truth to that supposition, it’s actually blocking non-sexual intimacy in the marriage.

There is nothing wrong with sex playing a major role in the marriage; it should. But, sex shouldn’t be something that puts our wives on guard, it should be something that we enjoy together as a couple. If touch leads to sex, that’s not a problem; but if it doesn’t lead to sex, that shouldn’t be a problem either. Physical touch, whether sexual or non-sexual is an important part of maintaining emotional intimacy in the marriage.

Our wives need to learn that just because we touch them, that doesn’t mean that we’re expecting to jump in bed (or the sofa, or the kitchen table). They need to realize that touch, in and of itself, is an important expression of love.

Okay, so we beat on our wives for their wrong attitudes, right? Wrong! The only way that our wives are going to be able to accept touch as an expression of non-sexual love is when they can experientially see that our touch doesn’t mean “sex.” In other words, we’re going to have to show them. We’re going to have to start touching them, in ways that aren’t sexual and without sexual goals. That’s the only thing that is going to make it so that they don’t think every touch is about sex.

It’s only when our wives can accept our touch as being about something other than sex that they can begin to accept it as being an expression of love. So, give her lots of non-sexual touch, so that she can begin to receive that type of expression of love as well.
  • Hugs
  • Backrubs
  • Foot rubs
  • Lightly touching her back or the back of her neck
  • Cuddling in bed
  • Cuddling on the sofa

You get the idea. Of course, those things can and sometimes do lead to sex. But, the point is that they don’t have to. That’s the point that you need to get across to her. But first, you need to get it across to yourself.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Keeping Your Heart Open

Yesterday, I was talking about the importance to letting your wife talk, specifically talking about her problems. We discussed how that was therapeutic for her and helped her to get things off her chest and out of her heart. Today, I want to touch on something that I mentioned yesterday, but didn’t talk about to any great depth; the problem of men keeping their hearts closed off to their wives.

During the dating years, guys are basically open with their girl friends. They talk about their dreams and aspirations, sharing things which are hidden from everyone else. We even go as far as to share our weaknesses, something that we don’t do with anyone else.

Why are men so reluctant to share weaknesses? There’s actually a valid reason for it. God has created men with a violent, aggressive nature, so that we can use that character trait to protect our families. Regardless of whether we’re talking about protecting them from Internet predators, saber-toothed tigers, or attacks from the Devil, it’s the same characteristic. We need the capacity for violence, so that we can react as needed to protect those who are closest to us.

One thing that anyone who has ever fought knows instinctively is that you don’t let your enemy know about your weakness. If they know, they can use it against you. There’s no reason to give them that advantage.

Well, in marriage, she starts out as your closest friend and lover. Then one day, you have your first fight. During that fight, she dredges up everything wrong you’ve ever done and throws it in your face. While this may or may not help her win the fight, it does have one very important, but unwanted result. That is that it teaches you that it’s dangerous to let her know your weaknesses. Where before she had been allowed into your heart, now she has to be kept out. Door closed and locked.

This door closing action happens automatically, without our even realizing it. But, that doesn’t make it any less real. From then on, every time she tries to knock on the door of your heart, you pretend you didn’t hear it. That makes her feel as if you don’t’ love her.

Like I said, this is automatic. It’s not that you want to keep her out, it’s that you do so out of self-defense, without even realizing it. Okay, so what do you do about it?

It’s actually possible to reopen the door to your heart and let her back in; but only you can do that. She can’t open your heart, nor can a $100 per hour head shrinker. So, how do you do it?

First of all, you need to forgive her. That may not open the door, but it will sure get rid of the barricade you put in front of it. Without forgiveness, you may never be able to find the door, let alone open it. (see my post on “Be quick to forgive”)

The second thing you need to do is explain to her what happened; or at least share this post with her, so that she can understand. That will help her to know how to avoid a repeat performance.

The third and final step is to reform the habit of openness. What I mean by that is to start talking about your dreams and aspirations once again. This might be best performed as a team effort. Get your wife to ask you questions that are associated with that area, and answer them honestly. Don’t hold back.

One thing we need to understand, which plays into this, is that our conversation style changes by marriage. Before the wedding, we talk a lot about those dreams. But, once the honeymoon is over, we start talking about reality. Reality is never as interesting as dreams, especially when that reality is a constant series of problems and struggles.

That just increases the need for openness of heart. If all your conversation with your wife is about problems with the kids, the idiot at work and how you’re going to pay the bills, you’re not going to enjoy talking to one another. You both need some positive conversation; the type you were practicing before you got married. That will do wonders to being you closer together. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

One of the major complaints that women make about their husbands is that there isn’t enough communication in the marriage. Of course, this is always the man’s fault, regardless of any other consideration. But, what do they really mean by that?

In actuality, that complaint is multi-faceted. One part of it is that us guys don’t talk much about our feelings, about what’s going on in our hearts. That’s a big deal for women, and how they validate their relationships. When we don’t talk about those things, it seems to them like we are blocking them out of our lives.

In defense of men, I have to say that most of us don’t really think about those things all that much, so its’ no wonder we don’t share those feelings with our wives. While we do have feelings, we just don’t think about them all that much. So, I guess from a woman’s point of view, we’re blocking ourselves out of this part of our lives as well (not that I necessarily agree with them).

The second part of this complaint is the difference between pre-marital and post-marital communications. Before the wedding, everything is dreams; how wonderful our married life is going to be. After the wedding, conversation switches to reality; all the problems we face in life. Obviously, that talk about dreams is much more fun than dealing with reality. But, it has another aspect as well, that of showing what’s in the person’s heart. Women need that open window.

Nevertheless, it’s the third aspect of this that I want to talk about right now. That is that we all reach a point where we stop listening to their complaints. You know how it is, you walk in the door, after a rough day at work, and your wife gives you a litany of everything that went wrong during the day. That’s the last thing you want to hear, more problems; so, you tune her out.

Hey, I’ve been there, done that and burned the T-shirt (it wasn’t worth keeping). So, I fully understand how hard it is to sit there and listen to a list of problems, after spending the whole day dealing with problems. It always seemed to me (and I’m sure it seems the same to you) like she was dumping a whole new load of problems on my back, that I had to spend the whole evening dealing with; and all I wanted to do was relax!

Let me tell you a secret. For 99% of the things that she complains about in that laundry list of problems, she doesn’t expect you to do anything. That’s right. Even though it seems like she’s dumping all her problems on you, so that you’ll do something about them, she really isn’t. She doesn’t need you to do anything.

You see, as men, we’re fixers. When there’s something broken, we need to fix it. It doesn’t matter if we know how to fix it or not, there’s something in us that says “Fix it now!” So, when she complains about her job, we tell her to quit and find another job. When she complains about the neighbor’s dog pooping in her flower bed, we mentally look for our shotgun, so that we can shoot the dog. When she says that Johnny’s teacher sent a note home with him, we think about beating Johnny (or the teacher). For every complaint, we automatically come up with a solution, whether or not it’s practical.

Now, there are a few exceptions. If little Johnny is being rebellious and not obeying mommy, you need to back her up and deal with Johnny. If the washing machine has broken down, you’d better come up with a repair or a repair man, one or the other. But, except for those “important” things, you can blow off the rest of it. She isn’t expecting you to do a thing.

You see, that time of relating all her woes to you is therapeutic for her. It gives her the chance to get it off her chest and out of her heart. She needs that. If she doesn’t get it, she ends up holding all that junk in her heart, where it eats away at her like a cancer. You don’t want that to happen.

When she doesn’t get the opportunity to unload her heart, and stores all those things up, you’ve got to realize that they’re going to come out sometime. When you least expect it, you’ll walk through the door and say, “Hi Honey, I’m home” and she’ll explode. Instead of being greeted by your sweet loving wife, you’ll be met by an angry monster that looks like she’s going to serve you for dinner, instead of serve you dinner.

Of course, if you don’t want to invest the time to listen to her tale of woe, there is an option. You can pay a shrink $100.00 per hour (or more) to do it for you. That saves you having to hear about all those problems. Of course, paying for that privilege may cause a few more problems, but hey, it’s worth it, right? Uh, I’m not so sure about that.

Let your wife talk. Be that attentive ear that she needs. Let her get it off her chest; just don’t hold it in yours. Instead of accepting everything she says as something that you need to deal with, let it be like rainwater on a duck’s back, rolling right off of you. That way, neither of you are carrying the problem. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Be There for Her

One of the things that they regularly teach in parenting classes is the importance of being there for your kids, especially when they are “performing” in one way or another. They want their parents to be interested in their lives and even more so want the approval that comes with a job well done. Whether it’s winning the football game or putting on a school play, having mom and dad there applauding makes the victory all that much sweeter.

Okay, but what about your wife? What about her victories? Aren’t those important to be there for as well? Of course they are. Whether she has a victory at work or in her quilting circle, we need to be there for them.

I just recently saw a cop show in which one of the main character’s wife was having a baby. The cop was a member of a SWAT team and had gotten shot in the arm on a call. Yet, when he was taken to the hospital, he refused treatment, wanting to be with his wife. Although he was hurting, that hurt wasn’t as great in his mind as the hurt of not having been there for the birth of their first child. There was no way he was going to miss out on being there for the second one, just because of a flesh wound.

Granted, that was scripted and in real life, he’d probably be a bit more concerned about his own hurt. Nevertheless, it shows a wonderful attitude. That man was showing what “real men don’t cry” is really all about. It’s not about men not feeling pain, as many try to make it; it’s about doing what needs to be done, even in the midst of the pain. a real man thinks of others pain, even when they're hurting. 

It can be difficult to sit through your wife’s club event or office dinner party. Yet, when that moment happens where she is recognized for outstanding performance, it’s well worth all the time you “wasted” sitting through the rest. You got to see her in her moment of glory; but even more importantly, she got to experience it with you there. That made it something that you experienced together.

How many times have we all blown off our wives accomplishments, not realizing the importance of them? Maybe we’ve compared those to our own accomplishments and not thought of them as much. But in their eyes, those accomplishments are just as important as our being named “Salesman of the year.” It’s an accomplishment, that’s what matters, not what type it is.

Then there’s the other side of this proverbial coin. What about those times when she’s being hurled down into the emotional pit, instead of being lifted up on a pedestal? If anything, she needs you then, more than she does when she’s riding on top of the world.

The greatest need that anyone has when they are going through a struggle is to know that they’re not alone. When Job went through his crisis, his friends came to visit him. While their great debate with him over his sin wasn’t the highpoint of the history of friendship, their actions before that were. Before Job started that debate, by complaining about his suffering, those same friends had sat there in the ashes with Job for seven days. They shared in his suffering, letting him know that he wasn’t alone.

Our wives need us, no matter what they are going through. Whether they are on top of the world or stuck in the dungeon of dejection, they shouldn’t be there alone. Emotional support in both extremes is an important part of maintaining a strong relationship. It’s also an important part of making sure that there’s nobody else that’s providing that emotional support to her.

Be there for her.