Monday, October 1, 2012
All through growing up and as an adult I’ve heard of the infamous “boy’s night out.” It seems that a lot of men think that they need one night a week where they get away from their wives and kiddies to go hang out with their buddies. It doesn’t matter if that night is their bowling league or club or poker game, it’s as regular as clockwork, an important part of their week.
Wait a minute! I don’t know about you, but I didn’t marry my wife so that I could “get away” from her. I married her so that I could be with her. Why should I take one-seventh of my nights and make sure that I’m not with the person that I married to be with? That doesn’t make sense at all.
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have friends; nor am I saying that we should never spend time with those friends. What I’m really talking about here is priorities. It seems to me, with as much trouble as most couples have in trying to find a date night, that having a night out with the guys every week just makes it harder to be with the most important person in my life.
Of course, you could argue that we all need recreation. I agree, I need recreation just as much as anyone, and definitely don’t get enough of it. But, I can choose the types of recreational activities that I choose to do. Specifically, I can choose whether those activities include my wife or not. So, if that choice is mine, then I’d much rather choose activities which include her, rather than choose ones that exclude her.
Before my wife and I got married, I went hunting, fishing and camping like a lot of men. I rode a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle to work whenever I could, rather than drive my car. Those were things that I enjoyed, so I did them. But then I married my wife. She doesn’t enjoy hunting or fishing. The one time we went camping was a disaster, and she was afraid of my motorcycle. I had to make a choice.
A lot of guys would say that I made a great sacrifice in giving those things up. Really, there was nothing about sacrifice in it. What happened was that when I married my wife, my priorities changes. Since she was so important to me, those other things paled by comparison. So, it wasn’t so much that I gave them up for her, as they just sort of fell off my list of priorities. If it came down to being with her or fishing with the guys, I’d rather be with her. Besides, she’s much better looking than my buddies were.
It’s easy to get to the point in life where we have too many priorities. Unfortunately, adding priorities doesn’t add hours to the day. Every time we add a priority to our lives, we have to take something off the list. That’s what happened with me. But, the opposite can happen just as well. I can add priorities to my list, which prevent me from being with my wife and cause me to treat her like she’s not important.
If there’s anything that’s the opposite of being romantic, it’s sending the message that she’s not important. That’s the last message that any of us want to be sending. But, if we’re not careful to make sure that we don’t send that message, it can creep in when we’re not even looking.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
One of the hardest things for a mom, especially one who has small kids, is having time to herself. Kids demand attention and they often make their demands known at the most inconvenient times. You think it’s bad when they interrupt you trying to give her a kiss; well, that’s nothing compared to having them interrupt you when you’re trying to go to the bathroom.
Thank God for women. I really don’t think most of the men that I know could put up with taking care of small kids all day. But God has put something in the mothering nature that gives them patience for all those interruptions, skinned knees, sticky hands, dirty diapers and all that rest that goes with little kids.
I know it may not seem to you like your wife has the patience of a saint, but believe me, she does. You see her after she’s put up with that all day long. What you don’t see is how well she deals with it when you’re not there. No wonder she’s pretty much at the end of her rope when you get home from work. Who wouldn’t be?
Okay, so here’s the cure for your wife’s nerves; give her some time to herself. Sounds simple, right? Everybody needs time that they can just spend on themselves, with no interruptions, no sticky hands, no fighting kids and no tripping over toys. So give her that. Take the kids out somewhere, so that your wife can have some time alone.
Better yet, stop and get her some bubble bath, give it to her, and then take the kids out. Women love to pamper themselves and love to be pampered. So, give her a hint by buying the bubble bath. Before you leave, tell her that your purpose in taking the kids out is so that she can have some time for herself, not so she can clean the house, and then give her the bubble bath. I’m sure she’ll get the hint.
You don’t have to go anywhere fancy with the kids and spend a lot of money. Take them to the park; that’s enough of an outing for them. Have some quality time with them, pushing them on the swing, catching them coming off the slide and helping them climb the monkey bars. Who knows, maybe you can get on their with them.
While this may not seem all that romantic to you, it’s really three romantic things, wrapped up in one. First of all, you’re showing your wife that’s she’s special, by giving her some time for herself. On top of that, you’re giving her a romantic gift. I’m not exactly sure why bubble bath is considered a romantic gift, but take my word for it, it is. Finally, you’re showing your wife that you’re committed to being a good daddy; that’s important to her as well. So, you’re getting a three-fer by doing this one.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
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.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
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.
Monday, July 2, 2012
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.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Have you ever done something that you thought was supremely romantic for your wife, only to have your great romantic act ignored or even refused? It’s probably happened to all of us at least once or twice.
There might be a number of different reasons why that happened; anything from it being the wrong time of the month to you having done that particular act too many times in the last month. Regardless of the reason, it always bothers us; the rejection of our act of love makes us feel as if we’ve been rejected.
Don’t let yourself get caught up in that feeling of being rejected; it’s dangerous! It will kill your desire to continue being romantic faster than anything. When it happens, just realize that there’s probably something else which is causing her to act that way, something that has nothing to do with you.
However, if your wife regularly overlooks a particular type of romantic act, that should be a clue to you, telling you that you’re not speaking her language. It’s about as if you were writing her love poems, but she couldn’t read. That wouldn’t work out all that well. In the same way, speaking romance in a different language than she understands doesn’t work out all that well.
You see, each of us has our own romance language. It’s both the way that we express love and the way that we understand it. When others speak our romance language, it’s like the words have been underlined, made bold and highlighted in yellow. Finding out what her romance language is will give you a great boost up in being able to get the most impact out of your romantic acts.
When I’m talking about romance languages, what I’m really talking about is love languages. After all, isn’t romance all about expressing love? Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages” does a great job of explaining those five languages and showing us how to use them. In case you haven’t read the book yet (you should), here are the five languages:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Quality time
Now, if your love language is acts of service, you’ve probably been trying to be romantic to your wife by doing things for her. That’s great, acts of service is a great way to be romantic. But, if your wife’s love language is words of affirmation, you may not be reaching her as well as you want to. She probably appreciates your acts of service, but it doesn’t have the impact on her that words of affirmation will.
That doesn’t mean that you should stop doing acts of service. By all means, continue doing them. But, at the same time, add words of affirmation to your vocabulary of romance. Find ways to tell her that you love her. Even more, find ways to tell her what a great woman, wife, mother and all around person you think she is. That’s what she’s craving and that’s what’s going to do her the most good.
After all, being romantic towards your wife is all about her anyway, so you might as well make sure that you’re really focusing on her and on what works for her. You can still use the other ways of being romantic, but use them to round out the basic expression of love, which is done in her love language.
Doing this will make every romantic act you do have all that much more impact? Why? Because you’re satisfying her most basic need for love. That makes everything else look that much better in her eyes.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
We all know how the hustle and bustle of everyday life can wear us down. It seems that all we do is work, take care of things at home, run around taking care of things and get ourselves ready to do it all over again. Finding time to really rest and relax is a luxury that few can afford; and when we do, it’s usually taking time to bee with friends that we haven’t seen for a while.
For most of us, just dealing with how tired, stressed and overworked we are is so much that we don’t think much about how all that work and stress affects others. Like our wives for example. Stress actually causes more health problems for women than it does for men. Sadly, most of us have no idea of how much stress our wives are under.
You’ve heard the old saw about how “a woman’s work is never done.” Well, with modern appliances and such, it probably is better than it used to be, but there’s still a lot of work that women have to do. It’s even worse for those who work outside the home, then come home to work at all the “traditional” woman’s work in the home. The house and clothes get just as dirty when she’s out working, as they do when she’s at home. Meals still have to be prepared, even though she has less time to cook them. Kids still need to be taken to activities and need help with their homework.
Fatigue and time pressures are the number two cause of depression in women. That makes it a pretty serious problem. With so many women today in the workforce, instead of being in the home force, it’s no wonder they’re battling with time pressures and fatigue. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Whether or not your wife is a good manager of her time, she may need some help from you. For her, managing her time well might be limited to making sure she’s got enough time to do everything she needs to do. That’s not all there is to it. There are a few details which you need to take charge of, just to make sure that they don’t fall off her priority list. Details like recreation and relaxation. Even though she might complain about it, she needs you to make sure she has enough R&R time in her week.
Part of making sure that she has enough time might just be you taking over some of the household responsibilities from her. Don’t cringe; vacuuming the carpet or washing the dishes won’t cause you to lose your man card. Neither will cooking for that matter. I’ve never been able to figure out why men feel they can’t cook at home, but most of the commercial cooks and chefs in the world are men. Tis’ a mystery to me. Of course, the corresponding mystery is why women can’t use a barbecue grill.
Anyway, cooking is a great way to take some of the burden off of her; it’s even fun. Maybe it’s not as fun as watching the ball game, but its’ a great chance to be creative. At the same time, you can relieve your wife’s time constraints, especially if you clean up the dishes afterwards, as well.
Another way that you can help her with her workload is to farm it out for her. Maybe it’s time to hire a part-time housekeeper to come in and clean once a week. It’s amazing what four hours of help, cleaning the house once a week, can do for your wife’s schedule and peace of mind.
Remember, you’ve got great motivation to help her out with this; it will help keep her from being depressed. I don’t think anyone enjoys it when their wife is depressed, and I’m sure that the women don’t enjoy it either. So, do what you can to help make sure that she has enough time, so that she doesn’t have to have all that pressure.
Monday, June 11, 2012
No, women don’t like the same sports we do; that’s why we don’t often see their love affair with their sport as meaning anything. I say sport intentionally, because there’s really only one sport that women love, not an assortment of them, like men.
So, I suppose you want to know what sport I’m talking about… it’s shopping. Yep, shopping is the woman’s sport. Every women I’ve ever met plays that sport; some better than others; but they all play. Although I’ve never seen a shopping pool in an office, instead of a football pool, that doesn’t make it any less a sport. Nor does the fact that the Sports section in the paper ignores their sport; after all, that’s written by men. For that matter, the fact that there are no professional shopping teams doesn’t limit it as a sport, because every woman considers herself a pro-shopper.
Of course, the epitome of the women’s sport is clothes shopping. Have you ever noticed how department stores put the women’s clothing section, which is huge, right in the front of the store? By comparison, the men’s clothing section is tiny and usually hidden in the back corner. You see, those stores recognize women’s sport and are all supporters of it.
Okay, now comes the hard part. Since we’re all looking for ways to spend time with our wives (at least I hope we are), here’s a great way (in her mind) for us to do so. That’s to go shopping with them. Yes, I’m serious; I’m also glad that I’m doing this through the Internet, so that nobody can throw rocks at me.
As much as we all hate shopping, the Bible tells us to “Love our wives as Christ loved the church and laid down his life for her.” I know of no way that a man can lay down his life any more effectively than to go shopping with his wife. Yes, it’s hard, but that’s how it qualifies as laying down your life.
Now, if you are actually brave enough or foolish enough to try this, let me give you a few hints to make the process a little less painful.
- Take a good book to read. That way, you’ve got something to do, while you’re wasting… err, investing all that time in your marriage.
- Make good use of Starbucks, the Food Court, Annie’s Pretzels, Baskin & Robins and other cultural attractions. Believe it, or not, she even enjoys those half-time breaks from shopping.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Women are the only one who think that uncomfortable shoes are a fashion statement. Hey, you’re going to be spending hours on your feet, you may as well be comfortable.
- Speaking of hours on your feet, most stores don’t put chairs for husbands. Personally, I think this is prejudiced against men, but that’s the way it is. So, if you are going to need to sit down, and don’t want to sit on the floor, you might want to consider bringing along a folding camp stool.
- Find things for her to try on, that you’d like to see her in. Hey, part of shopping is playing “dress up,” so you may as well help her along. Who knows, you might actually find something that you both like.
- Be prepared to carry. I think this is the biggest reason why women like their husbands going shopping with them. That way, they don’t have to carry all that stuff. After all, why should they, when there’s a man to do it?
- Sneak out to the sporting goods or hardware department. This trick doesn’t always work, but if you’re in a department store that has a “man department” you can get a break by telling your wife that there’s something you want to look at. She doesn’t have to know that it’s a new fishing pole.
- Whatever you do, don’t schedule something else afterwards. If you are planning on going shopping for three hours with your wife, then watching the game afterwards, forget it. Women can’t tell time when they are involved in their sport.
It would probably be best for your blood pressure if you don’t pay any attention to how much she is spending. Actually, most women go shopping without spending a whole lot of money. Their enjoyment doesn’t come from spending, but from the looking and trying on. So, don’t let the money get to you. If you do, you’ll ruin the whole thing. A moment’s explosive outburst can make a whole day of sacrifice go up in smoke.
Finally, always remember that to be a successful cheerleader for the women’s sport, you need lots of patience. This is a very time-consuming sport; one in which the true pros carefully examine every option, before putting off making a decision. The goal really isn’t about spending money, but rather about spending time involved in the sport. So, you may as well relax and do what you can to enjoy it.
On the positive side, your wife will think that you’ve spent lots of quality time together, while you’ve mostly ignored what she’s doing. Don’t totally ignore it though. To gain romance points, you need to make the occasional comment, preferably positive ones. “When are we going to leave?” doesn’t qualify as a positive comment. Nor does, “That makes you look like a cow.” This is a good time to engage the brain, before the mouth.
Take the time to go shopping with your wife, and maybe she’ll be more willing to take the time to do something that you want to do.
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, April 20, 2012
As I’ve said more than once, spending time together is a major part of being romantic. Love, without time, tends to wither, like a plant that isn’t given water. I guess that we could say that spending time together is the way that we water the garden of our love.
Of course, spending time together doesn’t mean just sitting in front of the television, vegetating. For that time to be valuable, it has to be spent doing something together, not just being in each other’s presence. My wife and I share an office. I have my desk with my computer to work on and she has hers. But, just because we’re in the office working at the same time, doesn’t mean that we’re spending time together. For it to count as time together, we’ve got to be focused on one another.
Finding activities where we are actually focused on one another, instead of just focused on something else in each other’s presence, adds another layer of complexity to the equation. Other than taking, which a lot of us guys aren’t all that comfortable doing, it can be hard finding things to do together, where we’re really together and not just in the same room.
One activity which we can do together as a couple, where we can be focused on each other is to read together. Now, it’s obvious that to do this, you’ll have to find a book which you’ll both be interested in. I guarantee you that your wife isn’t going to be interested in reading a car repair manual with you; nor can I see her wanting to spend time together reading about how to prepare your own income taxes.
The best books for this are marriage and relationship related ones. There are a lot of good marriage related books out there, which you can actually enjoy together. Who knows, you might even learn something about how to have a better marriage, while you’re at it.
Another benefit to reading these types of books together is that they help you to talk about your relationship. You see, reading together isn’t just reading what’s on the page, but interjecting your own comments, talking about the ideas that the book is presenting and come up with your own ways of integrating those ideas into your marriage.
I’d recommend starting with something that’s not going to be threatening to either of you; like Smalley’s “The Language of Love,” or Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages,” or even Harley’s “His Needs, Her Needs.” These books are more about understanding each other, than telling one or the other of you that you need to do something. That’s what makes them non-threatening. On the other hand, a book which says “you need to do this to be a good husband” or “you need to do this to be a good wife” can come across as an attack.
Remember, you want to be able to talk about what you’re reading. That can only happen when you’re reading something that is non-threatening. If you pick a book that attacks one of you, then the possibility of positive conversation is greatly limited.
Enjoy taking some time to learn something new together. Not only will it be a great way of spending time together, but it will also be a great way of learning to know each other even better.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Finding time to spend together can be a real challenge in our hurry-up, hustle and bustle world. It’s even worse if you’ve got kids. It almost seems like those kids have a conspiracy set up between them, to make sure that their parents can’t get any time alone together. You finally get them all in bed, sit down on the sofa to spend a few minutes together and one or another of them pop out of bed. It doesn’t matter what the reason, they’ll make one up if they have to.
Well, we’re bigger than the kids, we’ve got more experience, more education; so, we ought to be able to come up with a way to outsmart them, and get that few minutes alone. Actually, it’s not all that hard; all we have to do is leave the house. That way, when they try to interrupt us in the living room, they can’t find us.
Now, I realize that you probably aren’t all that comfortable leaving your kids in the house alone; and your wife is even less comfortable. But, I’m not talking about leaving them alone and going away for a few hours; I’m talking about leaving them alone in bed for a few minutes, while you stay in sight of the house.
You see, just getting out of the house, to walk down your street and back can be romantic. That is, it can be romantic if you manage to get the time alone together. That’s really what it’s about, not the walking, but getting to be together, without interruptions.
A nice, slow stroll, hand in hand, up and down your own street may not seem like the most romantic thing you’ve ever done, but it’s still romantic. Romance doesn’t require money; nor does it require elaborate planning. Romance is an expression of love, and one of the ways in which we can express love is by just spending time together.
Remember, this isn’t about making it a race, nor is it about getting exercise, it’s about spending a few minutes alone together. if you can’t make yourself walk slowly, then maybe you’d be better off sitting on the porch. Either way, enjoy the evening, the breeze, the stars, the moon, and most of all, enjoy some time just for the two of you.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
It’s pretty much impossible to be romantic if we’re not willing to take time out of our schedules to do so. Romance requires planning, preparation, and just plain spending time together. It’s not something instant you get out of a can, nor can you make up for not spending time with your wife by doing other romantic acts. No, time is an essential ingredient for making romance work.
Even better than just spending time together is to create some special times together. These can be special times that have some significance, like your anniversary or the anniversary of your first date, or they can be special times that are just because you are spending time together.
It doesn’t really take a lot to make a special time together. Some couples manage to do it over coffee, meeting at their favorite coffee shop for a mid-morning break or stopping there together before going to work. Others go out to ice cream together, just to have some time away from the kids. Still others have their time together by taking a walk, hand in hand. These aren’t expensive times, nor are they long times, but they are special times.
You can have a special time together, without even leaving your home. All it takes is a little preparation and a stop at your favorite bakery (hopefully, the fanciest one in your town). Stop in there and pick up something that the two of you can share together.
Ideally, you want something that’s a two-person desert, so that you can both eat from the same one. Our local bakery does little cakes, which work out well for a couple, with a bit left over. Some bakeries sell large individual slices of some special cake. Whatever you can find, which will work for the two of you.
When you get home, hide the desert somewhere, so that your wife doesn’t find it before time. Just remember, some pastries can be sensitive to temperature, so you don’t want it in either a freezing cold or blistering hot garage.
Once the kids are in bed and your wife isn’t looking, prepare a pot of coffee, or any other favorite drink, get the desert on a plate with a couple of forks and put on some soft music. Set everything up and invite your wife into the living room for a moment. You can sit there together on the sofa, enjoying your cake and coffee, along with the peace and quiet of just some time for the two of you.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
You know, everyone needs something they can do to relax. Even… no especially workaholics need to relax sometime; take their mind off their work, think about something not so important and just unwind and recharge the batteries. It’s much easier to face Monday when we’ve had a good time over the weekend, gotten our minds off our work and thought about simpler things.
The only thing is, a lot of the things we pick as hobbies are things we do with the guys not with the gal who’s the most important person in our lives. Think about it. How many guys’ hobbies are all about sports? Right? Now, how many women do you know who are really sports fans? I mean, when you sit down to watch the game or go out to shoot some hoops, is your wife there at your side? Or, do you have to leave her aside, in order to enjoy your hobby?
Now, I’m not against any of the things that guys do as hobbies, I’m really not. But, I am against things that take away time that I could better spend with my wife. Before I married her, I used to love going hunting, fishing and camping. I had a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle; back when they only had 1000 cc engines. I had things I enjoyed doing. I had hobbies.
But you know what? My wife didn’t enjoy any of my hobbies. She’s a city girl, so the idea of hunting, fishing or camping just doesn’t work for her. The first time we went camping, it was a disaster. Not only did we have bad weather, but there was dirt, and sticks and… and… bugs. She really didn’t enjoy herself.
Even after nine years of living in a motor home, traveling and ministering, my wife never did get used to the great outdoors. Oh, she likes to see the beauty of God’s creation, but only through the windshield, thank you very much. When it comes to getting out and walking in that nature, she’d much rather do her walking in a shopping mall.
My Gold Wing was even more of a problem; she was afraid of it. The one time that she got on the back, she froze. I mean really froze. I thought I was going to have to use a crowbar to get her off of it. Not that she didn’t want to get off, but that she was so afraid. She was obviously not born to adorn the back of a bike.
So, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. I could either go hunting, fishing, camping and ride my motorcycle, or I could spend time with my wife. Quite a dilemma, right? Actually, for me, it wasn’t much of a dilemma. You see, even though I enjoyed those other things, my wife was much more important to me. If I couldn’t spend time with her doing those things, then it took a lot of the fun out of doing them; especially knowing that if I wasn’t doing them, I could be with her.
I’m sure you can guess what happened. I let those things go. No, it wasn’t that I made a huge sacrifice for my wife (said with great drama, in a deep voice, with orchestration in the background), it was that I decided what was more important to me. She won. Since she was more important, I found that I didn’t have time for those other things.
Now, one might think that that was enough, but it isn’t. You see, it’s one thing to get rid of something that is damaging to your relationship, but it’s another thing to do something that’s constructive for your relationship. Many would look at that “sacrifice” and think, “She should appreciate what I’ve done for her.” But, in reality, she doesn’t see it that way; not because she’s insensitive, but because she was never part of that part of my life.
I needed to replace those activities with activities which I could do with my wife. I needed things which we could do together, not because we had to, but because we wanted to. It doesn’t matter so much what they are, just that they are. Just as the time shooting hoops with your buddies helps build that relationship, spending time doing fun things with your wife will help build your marriage relationship.
If you’re going to have hobbies in life (and I think you should) then they should be hobbies which the two of you can do together. Not only will those hobbies end up being more fun, because you’re doing them with your best friend, but they’ll build up your marriage as well.
So, hubby, what’s your hobby?
Sunday, March 4, 2012
It’s Sunday again, no work and guess what? No football either. Isn’t that great? The Super Bowl is well past, so you no longer have to sit glued to the television set on Sunday afternoons. You’ve been set free of that responsibility. Whatever will you do with all that extra time?
You know, before television, before radio, before sports became such a big deal here in the good old U.S.A. people spent their Sunday afternoon’s differently than we do today. Whereas we tend to spend it glued to one television or another, they couldn’t do that. So, what did they do? They spent Sunday afternoon together as a family.
What a novel idea, instead of giving your Sunday afternoon over to the worship of sports, give it over to spending some time together with your wife and kiddies. A lot of what I’ve talked about on this blog has been finding ways of spending time with your wife, but I don’t talk about the kids all that much.
You know what? Your wife needs to see that you’re interested and involved in your kids’ lives. That’s a need of hers, to know that you love her. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but you have to remember that the kids are very important to your wife. Besides, God and you, they’re the most important thing in her world. So, she needs to know that you are committed to the kids too. By showing that, you’re also showing her that you’re committed to her as well.
I realize that might sound a bit illogical to you, but we’re not talking about your logic, we’re talking about her logic. If you haven’t figured it out yet, hers is a whole lot different than yours. Trying to show you that you love her, by using your logic, doesn’t work all that good. However, when you show her that you love her, by using her logic, she understands exactly what you’re saying.
So, why not reinstate an old time tradition in your family. Instead of spending your afternoon worshipping that ball and those who move it, spend it with your family. Develop some activities that you can do together as a family. Where you can all have some quality time together. Here’s a few ideas:
- Have a snowball fight
- Have a water fight
- Watch a movie together that everyone would like
- Go someplace that you’ve all wanted to go to
- Play a board game
- Play Charades
- Go to the park together
- Do a crafts project together
- Paint the living room together
Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a lot of fun. Some of the best times a family can have together, or for that matter a couple can have together, are those that don’t cost a cent. All they cost is time.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
According to Willard Harley’s book, “His Needs Her Needs,” one of the woman’s top five emotional needs is for her husband to be committed to the family. Now, I’m going to take it for granted that you’re committed to your family, otherwise I don’t think you’d be reading this blog. But, the question remains, how do you express that commitment?
My father grew up in a generation when the men were expected to the breadwinners in the home. That was it; nothing was said to them about helping in the kitchen, cleaning the house, playing with the kids or even hugging their family. All the man had to do was be the breadwinner. Granted, most did more than that, like mowing the lawn and taking out the garbage. But, the idea of a man being actively involved in the lives of his children was a bit foreign. That was the woman’s work.
Well, society has changed since then and it is widely recognized that men have to be more involved in the home and family than what was considered acceptable in my father’s day. Nowadays, men are expected to help with the housework, take the kids to the little league game and be romantic towards their wives.
There’s only one problem, while society has changed, men haven’t changed all that much. Most men still see their main role as being a breadwinner. Anything that gets in the way of that tends to get pushed to the side. Unfortunately, that means that the family gets pushed to the side at times.
God gave me a wake-up-call on this many years ago, while my children were still small. I came home from work one day to be greeted by my wife, who said, “Talk to me in big words, I’m tired of being trapped in this house all day with little children who speak in little words.” I knew I needed some wisdom for my wife, and I needed it right away. Time for a quick prayer, seeking that wisdom.
I responded to my wife, “You don’t understand. Everything I am working on, there in the factory will be destroyed before the end of my life. What you are working on will outlast us.” Wow, what wisdom; God really came through for me that time. Little did I know how much of an impact those words would have on me, even more so than my wife. It served to remind me of what was important in life. I didn’t have a family to support my work; I worked to support my family.
My family needed me and I was spending too much time working, instead of being with them. Are you making the same mistake? As men, we can be very driven in our work, driven to succeed. But ask any man on his deathbed, and he’ll tell you that the time he spent working was a waste, the only time that mattered was the time he spent with his family.
Is spending time with your family romantic? You bet it is. As I said earlier, your wife needs to know that you are committed to the family. Telling her that you are won’t convince her, only showing her that you are will.
So, take some time this Sunday to be with your family. That ball game really isn’t all that important. In a couple of months, nobody will care who won. Nor is your nap really all that important, although you might feel that you really need it. If you do, go to bed early for a change. Let your priorities be your priorities for a change.
Your wife will appreciate it, your kids will appreciate it, and in the long run, you’ll appreciate it too. You won’t have to be one of those men who lament “why didn’t I spend more time with my family?”
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Every couple struggles with having enough time to be together. Oh, they might both be in the same house or even in the same room, but that’s not the same as being together. To truly be together means that you are paying attention to each other, not that you are paying attention to everything else around you. It means that you are either talking to each other or doing something together which requires communication with each other. Watching television doesn’t count.
I’m sure you’ve heard about “quality time.” Well, what makes one time more “quality” than another? It has to be the focus of the time; in other words, it’s only quality time when your focus is each other. Anything else is just time passing.
So, surprise your wife today and give her time, quality time that is. Drop whatever it is you’re doing, grab your wife, get in the car, start driving and ask her, “Okay, now that we’re going, where do you want to go so that we can spend some quality time together?” Wait till you’re going, before you ask though, as you don’t want to give her the opportunity to come up with excuses about what she has to do, etc. etc. etc.
Just in case she can’t come up with something off the top of her head, here’s a few ideas:
- Go to your favorite coffee shop and sit there staring soulfully into each other’s eyes while talking.
- Go get ice cream… along with the staring soulfully, etc.
- Take her to the mall and just look at stuff.
- Go to some cute little boutique that the two of you had seen, but never managed to stop in at.
- Take a walk in the park.
The thing isn’t so much where you go as it is that you go there together and do something together. It doesn’t even matter if you spend a lot of money, it isn’t about the money, it’s about the two of you. You both need that time, although she is probably much more aware of her need than you are. Just take some time to enjoy each other’s presence, without having to be someplace or get something done.
Okay, so maybe there’s a few practical details that need to be worked out, like someone to watch the kids; well, work them out. Do it without her knowing. That just helps add to the surprise. You’re trying to make her feel like she’s the most important person in your world. That isn’t going to happen if you make her call the babysitter and work out all the other details.
Enjoy the time. That’s what it’s about. If there’s something that absolutely has to get done, then that’s okay. You can arrange to get back in time for that. But don’t let it get in the way of the time you are together. Forget about it for that time, don’t sit there thinking about it. Focus on her.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
There are a number of things in our modern culture, which can trace their roots back to the pioneering days, when the country was expanding and most people were farmers. Take our school schedule, for example. Families would have to work together to plow the land, plant the seed and bring in the harvest. So, summer vacations were about working with the family, not lazing around the swimming pool. Even though we’ve long since left being an agricultural society, we still have that same school schedule.
Another thing that went along with that society was that wintertime was a time for staying indoors, mending harnesses, sewing a quilt and reading stories around the fire. Many families read the Bible from cover to cover on those cold nights. Oh sure, they had to go out to the barn to care for the livestock; but the outdoor work was left to only true necessities in those months.
Well, as we all know, life has changed and changed a lot. Even so, other than those who go skiing and ice skating, most of us spend our winters indoors, trying to escape the cold and the snow. The only time we go outside is when we need to; either to go somewhere, to work or to shovel the snow.
There’s something to be said about those long evenings around the fire. Whether spent as family time or as couple time, there’s something about sitting in front of the fire, with a nice warm drink, just enjoying each other’s company. I’d say that’s even more important for us today, when life has us running around in circles so much that we normally only see each other in passing.
Why not take advantage of those long winter evenings? Go back to the old tradition, put a fire in the fireplace (or just pretend, if you don’t have one) and spend some time together on the sofa. Make some hot cocoa, read a book to each other, talk about some off the wall topic (not problems) and whatever you do, don’t turn on the television. Just enjoy each other.
The gift your wife wants more than anything is you. It’s not your money she’s after or someone to change the oil in her car. She wants some quality time, where you’re paying attention to each other… you know… like you did when you were dating.