Category Archives: Marriage

Treat your wife like you would your golf club

2015area-golf

For anyone who has ever learned to play golf, you know how tough it is to learn how to get your swing down.  When you’re trying to do it, there are a million things you’re trying to remember all at once in order to do it right…keep my arm straight, head down, back straight, bend my knees, wait…not that much, don’t swing too hard, what was the first thing again???  One way that helps to learn is to practice a lot focusing on one area at a time until you get it down.  Once that happens, it becomes second nature, and you no longer have to think about THAT thing and you can add in the next.

Loving your wife well can also be very difficult.  And learning to do it right can be taught the same way.  If you don’t feel you do a good job with loving her now, it can be a little overwhelming trying to think through all the things you need to do

  • tell her you love her regularly
  • buy her gifts to show her you value her
  • compliment how she looks
  • be a spiritual leader for her
  • spend time together (alone) on dates or vacations
  • show physical affection (that’s not sex)
  • surprise her by doing things around the house that she normal would
  • etc.

This list is only a small fraction of what loving your wife can look like.  So, how are you supposed to remember it all??  The answer is…you can’t!  Just like swinging a golf club, there is no way I can remember every thing I need to do in the 2 seconds it takes to swing.  However, with enough practice, I don’t have to think about each of the steps, and I’m able to do it automatically.

My advice to you:

If you have areas where you’re not doing a good job loving your wife, don’t try to do it all at once.  Rather, think about focusing on one thing at a time.  If you keep your focus small it’s much easier to remember and to do it right.  Then, after you have created a habit and are able to do it without thinking, add in something else.  Eventually you’ll be able to remember all the things you want to because they will be habits you don’t even need to think about.  So…the question is what ONE area are you going to focus on first??

It’s good to spoil your wife sometimes

IMG_1308Sometimes Julia and I have different opinions about how we should spend our money.  That doesn’t mean we always do what I want.  And it doesn’t mean we always do what she wants.  We try to make large decisions together, but ultimate we have decided that finances are my area of responsibility…meaning I have to make the final call.  So…when we’re not on the same page about something big, it’s bound to lead to conflict.

So, rewind to last year when Julia discovered the musical Hamilton.  It was new on Broadway and got amazing reviews and a lot of hype.  Julia instantly became obsessed with it…not in an unhealthy way…but simply meaning, she thought it was amazing and wanted to go see it SO much.  So, she made sure I was aware of her desire, but all I could see was large dollar signs.  First off, you can’t buy tickets for any shows in the next year because they’re sold out.  So, you have to buy resale tickets costing several hundreds of dollars a piece.  Plus, we’d have to fly to New York, stay in the city, and eat in the city…all of which are very expensive activities.  Not to mention getting around and all the other sight-seeing we’d end up doing.  This cost added to the fact that we’ve been to New York a couple times before led to me NOT wanting to do it.

After resigning herself to the disappointment that we would not be going, she was able to share her heart with me.  Musicals have always had a special place in her life.  Growing up, her family would go see musicals at The Fox downtown and she had such great memories of listening to the recordings, reading through all the programs, and remembering the fun her family had.  One of her dreams has always been to see a musical on Broadway with the original cast.  So…enter the obsession with Hamilton.

Now, to give perspective…Julia doesn’t ask for much.  She spends hardly any money on herself.  She doesn’t have expensive tastes…a BIG shopping trip means a few things from Target…half of which are eventually returned.  I have it pretty easy…and I am very aware of this.  :-)  So I started to think…it would be a great way to love Julia if we DID go!  Add that to the fact that giving gifts is one of her top love languages, and I started to realize that this could be a great opportunity.

IMG_1360So, we did it!  The tickets weren’t cheap, but I felt a lot better when I found out later (after the Grammy’s and Oscar’s) that they were selling for double what we paid.  Also, we found ways to get great deals on a hotel and most of the places we ate, so the cost wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  And you know what…it was an awesome trip!  We both had the best time…not just going to the show, but also seeing different areas of the city that we’d never been to before.  I was so glad we took the trip…even though I didn’t want to do it at first.

My advice to you:

Spoil your wife every once in a while.  It doesn’t have to be with an expensive trip.  It could be something like making the kid’s lunches for a week, or doing all the laundry sometime when she’s away, or taking her out to eat at a nicer than normal restaurant.  Find something that your wife will not expect but will LOVE…suck it up…and make it happen!  :-)

Four magic words to reach your wife’s heart…

4-wordsI could give you a list of a thousand phrases that would make your wife upset at you.  I often stumble across them by accident. :-)  So, every once in a while, when I say something good, I try to remember it.  I’ve realized one phrase that stands out to me as always reaching my wife’s heart.  Four magic words that I can say to her…”what do you think?

Why is this phrase magic?  For a few reasons…

1: It shows I care about her.  By asking what she thinks, I am letting her know that it matters what she thinks and I WANT to know what it is…so her opinion can be part of the decision making process.

2: I’m acknowledging the fact that what she says has value.  The fact that I’m asking what she thinks means I anticipate substance from her response.  This lets her know that her words have meaning and that our marriage is a partnership rather than a dictatorship.

3: I’m admitting that I need help.  Nothing good comes from thinking I can do everything on my own.  Asking for my wife’s input is a small step toward relying on someone else.

Something I’ve realized after 13 years of marriage is that Julia is very wise.  In many areas she is wiser than I am.  In any given circumstance, I have a tendency to make a quick appraisal of the situation and come to a conclusion about the best way to address it.  Once I’ve decided what to do, everything else seems wrong.  However…I’m not always right.  I’ve found that asking Julia’s opinion often opens me up to new perspectives that I hadn’t considered.

My advice to you:
Don’t make decisions on your own.  Even if it’s something you’ve decided that you are the one “responsible for”, ask what your wife thinks.  Let her know that her opinions have value and you never know when you may be surprised by an idea that’s better than yours.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever received…

IMG_0597I need to be an amazing husband.  Seriously…I do.  I only get one chance to do it right and so much relies on it.  Of course I’m referring to the importance of treating my wife right, leading her in a Godly way, and making her feel loved and supported for who she is.  And also for encouraging her when she needs it and challenging her to be the person God is leading her to be.  But, there is another HUGE reason why my actions are so important.  It’s because future generations are relying on what I do!

Eli, my 8 year old son, sees everything I do.  Every day I see more and more ways that he is JUST like me.  The way I pronounce grapes, grAH-pehys.  The way I make up silly songs about random things.  The way I wake up early in the morning excited to “live life!”  He sees all this and imitates what I do.  His opinion about Julia is the same as well.  When I say, “Eli, did you know your mommy is the greatest mommy in the whole world?!?”, he doesn’t miss a beat and responds with, “YEAH…she is THE BEST!!”  The things I think are cool…he always thinks are cool too.  When we vote for “family member of the day”, Julia ALWAYS wins because we stack the votes.  Of course this does make board games more difficult.  It’s tough to win Sorry when you are ALWAYS the one who gets “sorry’d”.  But, I love it!  :-)  The way I treat Julia is emulated step-for-step by him.

I got one of the best compliments I’ve ever had the other day.  One of my friends has a daughter Eli’s age and they’re great friends.  We like to joke about, “what if they get married some day, wouldn’t that be so cool?”  And of course, no guys want to think about their little girl getting married.  No boy is going to be good enough for them…right??  The comment he made surprised me.  He said, “if Eli treats her the way that Michael treats Julia, then I’d be good with it.”  I teared up a little at that.  Not only did I appreciate the compliment, but it was a sobering reminder to me of the weight that my role as a husband and father has.  How I love Julia will not just impact her, but also whoever Eli marries many  years from now.

And it’s not just a son that will see and learn from you.  Daughters will learn what a man should be like.  How you are will affect what they look for in a guy when they’re old enough to date.  And your friends will learn from the example you set too.  And all of these people will have the ability to affect the next generation in THEIR lives.  So, the impact have grows exponentially…for good or for bad.

My challenge to you:

Take your role as a husband seriously.  Not only is it important in caring for your wife, but other eyes are watching.  Your sons will emulate you.  Your daughters will learn what a man should be like.  Your friends will be subtly influenced as well.  Don’t be a lazy or selfish husband and let that be passed along to the next generation!

What is a Love Tank and how does it affect me?

love-tank-logo-300x297Imagine your wife is holding a large bucket filled to the top with water.  Now imagine that water level is directly correlated to how loved she feels from you…it is her love tank.  That’s awesome because the bucket is totally full!  :-)  She’s happy, you’re happy…everything is awesome!  But, after a bit of time you forget to clean the dishes like you promised and the bucket gets bumped and some of the water splashes out.  That’s ok…there’s still a lot of water in it and she’s still feeling pretty loved.  But, a little later, you let her know that you told the guys you would go out with them…but forgot to make sure she was cool with it.  Uh oh…more water gets knocked out.  Then, you make a comment about an outfit she’s wearing and a bunch of water spills out.  Well…now she’s down to very little water in the bucket.  And remember what the water is correlated with?…how loved she feels!  So, now that her tank is about empty, she’s not feeling the love anymore.  Life’s not so awesome now.

So to fix this, an easy solution is to just tiptoe around life and make sure not to “bump the water bucket”…right????  Just be really careful that you don’t mess anything up and you’ll be good?????  Unfortunately there is one more detail in this love tank.  There are small holes poked in the bottom.  So, even if you don’t knock any water out…it will still slowly disappear.  

Fortunately, you have the ability to replace water in the tank.  You do this by showing your wife love (gifts, service, physical touch, kind words, spending time together…see my previous post for info on 5 love languages if you’re not familiar).  What is it that makes your wife feel loved?  Telling her something you admire about her, going out on a date, cooking dinner for her, buying her a new pair of earrings?  When you do these things, you help put water back in her tank.  

Do you KNOW what fills up your wife’s tank?  Don’t just assume it’s buying her a box of chocolates.  That may not actually mean as much to her as you think.  Sit down and ASK her, “what fills up your love tank?”  It’s an easy question and should be easy for her to answer.  Chances are she will want to know about you also, which is great because…YOU’VE GOT A BUCKET TOO!  The more each of you know about what fills up each other’s love tanks…the better you’ll be able to keep them filled.  

My challenge to you:

Low Bucket Syndrome (or LBS) is a condition that NO ONE wants their wife to have.  Luckily it is 100% preventable by YOU!  In order to prevent, you need to consciously be working on it.  Know what fills her tanks and always be finding ways to fill it up.  Also, it does help if you don’t knock water out.  :-)

A well balanced marriage

Balance

Something I always challenge myself in is finding ways to show Julia I love her.  Often, this results in some method of serving her…doing something so she doesn’t have to: unloading the dishwasher, putting Eli to bed when it’s “her turn”, cleaning the bathrooms, etc.  She does the same for me too.  When I come back from a business trip, she goes out of her way to have a nice home-cooked meal and family time.  She also takes care of me in ways I don’t think about or sometimes even realize (changing sheets & towels, grocery shopping, changing out my toothbrush…I’d probably be using a 4 year old brush if she didn’t do that).

All these things are great, but I think an important aspect of this is to keep balance in it.  I don’t mean being able to stand on one foot.  I mean…sharing the load, helping each other, and never doing too much of any one thing.  I wrote a post a while ago here about the importance of sitting down to discuss who is responsible for which jobs around the house.  I think this is a VERY important step to do.  You don’t want all work to fall on one person.  And you don’t want frustration to grow due to resentment or misunderstood expectations.  So, discussing this is critical.  But, even though you decide your wife is “responsible for” a given job, it is a good idea for you to pitch in every once in a while.

Julia is responsible for planning our meals.  But, every once in a while, I like to surprise her by planning something instead.  Maybe when she’s had a busy day I will suggest, “hey, why don’t we have ___ for dinner tonight?  I can run to the store after work, then will cook it while you relax…is that cool?”  Or when the trash is getting full and I haven’t taken it out yet (my job), she doesn’t hound me about it, she just takes it out herself.  But, she’s not bitter about it, she doesn’t grumble and complain, she just does it as a way to help ME out with my job.

Balance is important in ALL aspects of life.  Physical exercise is great.  But, if you do it every day at the expense of time with your family, it may not be so great.  Spending time with other guys is great, but if you do that more than spending time with your wife…not great.  Eating healthy is great, but I think I’d go crazy if I never had dessert again.  In the same way, you need to have balance at home.  Learn how to cook, do laundry, clean, take care of the kids, iron…even if you decide she’s the one who is responsible for it, if you know how, you can help from time to time.  Or if she’s sick, you can take over everything without missing a beat while she recovers.

My advice to you:

First, make sure you’ve had discussions about who does what in your family.  Then, guys, anything that is your wife’s “responsibility”, learn how to do it.  And pitch in from time to time so she doesn’t get burned out or feel overwhelmed.

Have a tough time following through on ideas for change? Try this…

phases-of-change

Typically I’m pretty good at following through on things.  Julia always says that it amazes her that I can just set my mind to something and then do it.  “I think I’ll build a rock climbing wall in the garage”…done.  “I think I’ll start working out regularly to get in shape”…done.  I’m glad she sees me that way, but there are TONS of things that I want to do but never follow through on.  I always say that when faced with a choice, people will ultimately do what they want to do most.  Picking a movie to watch, you’re going to choose what you want most.  Even if you choose Dirty Dancing…if may not be the movie YOU want to watch, but your desire to please your wife and spend time with her is what outweighs the choice of movie…so ultimately you are still choosing what you want to do most.

So, when I have something I want to change about my life, it is really disappointing to me when I don’t follow through on it.  It tells me that there are other things that I’m choosing instead.  Based on my actions, I can tell you the following about me:

– I prefer keeping my money than giving it to a homeless person on the street.

– I like spending my Saturdays at home as opposed to going out and serving somewhere.

– I would rather NOT spend money on flowers than buy some to give to Julia, even though it makes her feel special.

– I prefer to forget about the idea of teaching my son things and will sit back and let Julia do it.

I am not proud of any of these statements.  But, I have to keep it real and this is what I observe about myself based on what I do.  They are all areas I WANT to make a change in, but have had a tough time figuring out the motivation to do it.

Through the last 2 years of blogging, I have found out something about myself.  I am much more likely to do something after I talk about it.  When I write a post about an area I struggle in or one where I am offering advice on a subject, it brings attention to the issue.  As a result, I think a lot about it.  Also, I’m publicly announcing what I’m working on…or sometimes making statements about what I do or am going to do.  Now…I HAVE to do it!  This is both frustrating and awesome at the same time.  Sometimes I want to be lazy and selfish.  But accountability helps me turn the selfishness into selflessness.

When I wrote about not throwing your wife under the bus or not saying I told you so, it helped remind me to do the same.  When I wrote about the importance of dating your wife and how I need to work on my listening skills, it requires me to get these issues together.  I can’t advise other people on something if I can’t do then myself!  Sometimes the extra motivation and accountability is just what I need to make a change.

However, even then, there are areas I still struggle at.  I wrote about getting your wife flowers, but I still am the worst at this.  I wrote about why it’s so important to be the spiritual leader for your family, but I feel I fall way short at this.  So…it’s all still a work in progress.  But, I will continue to put myself out there even if it means that my failures are more public.  I feel the chance of success is worth the risk of failure.  

My advice to you:

If you have something you want to change in life (the way you treat your wife or kids, the way you spend you time, etc), it can be very helpful to SPEAK it.  I’m not saying you need to start a blog, it can be much simpler than that.  Just talk with your wife or kids or friends about what you want to do differently.  Formulating the idea into words AND telling someone can help immensely.  So if you want to do something…give it a shot!  What is the worst that can happen…you put yourself out there but don’t succeed?  Remember, “failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

How can you love your wife “as Christ loved the church”?

Part of my calling in writing this blog comes from Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it.”  So, what does that mean?  How did Christ love the church and give Himself up for it?  And what does that mean for how I need to love my wife?  Let’s break it down…

For starters, we need to see how Christ loved the church.  What did Jesus do that showed love to others, and how did He give Himself up for them?

  • He served: Washing the disciples’ feet.  Taking time to heal people in need.  (John 13:1-17, Matthew 4:23)
  • He forgave:  The woman caught in adultery deserved to be stoned, but Jesus forgave.  Jesus asked God to forgive the soldiers crucifying Him. (John 4, Luke 23:34)
  • He led:  Everywhere he went, he taught people.  Starting when he was a boy in the temple, and then traveling to villages as an adult and speaking to thousands of people at a time.  He sought other people to come and follow him.  (Luke 2, Matthew 14, Matthew 4:18-22)
  • He took consequences from others: WE deserved death for the sin in our lives, but Jesus DIED in our place.  (John 19)

He gave up time, glory, position, and ultimately even His life to serve and love others.  So, if this is our example, how can you love your wife in the same way?

Serve her:  Ideas are easy to spot for this.  Make dinner, clean the house, do laundry, etc.  Find something that she normally does that is not enjoyable…and do it for her…without her asking.

Forgive her:  Has she ever wronged you?  Has she ever been dishonest about money, or about her time, or maybe said something mean about you to someone else?  These things can really hurt.  The most important thing you can do is to forgive her.  See my earlier post for more thoughts on this.

Lead her:  You may not be a biblical scholar or a genius at family wisdom, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to lead.  Being a leader is not easy and takes a lot of responsibility, but it is worth the effort.  Do what you can to point your relationship with your wife and your family as a whole in the right direction.  See my earlier post for more thoughts on this.

Take consequences:  This was Jesus’s ultimate act of service and love to us.  So, how can you do the same thing for your wife?  What if she broke the side mirror on her car and you swapped cars with her until you could get it fixed?  What if she spilled something in the kitchen and you cleaned it up so she didn’t have to?  What if she accidentally tore her favorite shirt and you used YOUR clothing budget money to go buy her a new one?

My challenge to you:

Are you missing opportunities in any of these 4 areas?  If so, what can you do to change that?  But, don’t just take my thoughts and stop there.  Think through this for yourself.  How did Jesus give Himself up for us?  And in the same way, that is how you need to give yourself up to show love to your wife.

Your actions may impact more than just your wife

10307433_3075307647019_5340757610806274278_nI had a blast getting to see my younger brother get married.  He is 30 years old now and had been anxiously waiting on God to show him the right person to marry.  I was so excited for him to find that person!  He and his fiancée wanted to do a small ceremony with mostly just immediate family members…and it was awesome!  We had it at our neighborhood clubhouse and went out to a local restaurant afterwards.  Then, we all went back to my parents’ house for cake.  While we were doing some toasts, my brother wanted to say a few words to us.

During his toast, he thanked me for the example I’ve been to him in how I treat Julia (my wife).  As he stood next to HIS new wife, he said that he has seen they way I love Julia, listen to her, and always think of her needs and wants ahead of my own.  He felt I did a great job modeling this and said that he hopes to treat his wife the same way.  This was such a meaningful moment to me.  It showed me that all the years that I’ve spent trying to treat Julia well have not only had an impact on her (hopefully), but have also had an impact on him.  I want to wish them a happy marriage and I KNOW he is going to be an amazing husband!

This made me think about how visible my actions can be.  The way we treat our wives, kids, friends, and co-workers aren’t just appreciated (good or bad) by them, they are also seen by the others around us.  This is a sobering reminder for me, but is also very encouraging.  We all want to make a difference in other people’s lives right?  Well, in a way you can get two birds with one stone!  Treat someone right…that’s great for them.  Also…others see the way you act and will learn from your example.  But, don’t make your actions for show.  Be genuine and real in what you do and people will know it.

My advice to you:

Love your wife, love your kids, and everyone you come in contact with.  It will make a difference not just in their lives, but also will be a good example and teaching tool for everyone else.

Sometimes…marriage stinks!

Italy 430If I’m gonna be honest…sometimes marriage stinks.  While I never regret being married or wonder if Julia is “right” for me, I have to admit that sometimes marriage is not fun.  There are times I just want to be selfish and only think of myself.  There are times where Julia and I get in a fight and I just don’t want to take the time to put in the effort it requires to get back on the same page.  But, bearing this in mind, marriage is still great.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Julia is the most amazing person…and my best friend.  I wouldn’t want to spend my life with anyone but her!

What I love about our life together is not the sum total of the best experiences.  It’s not the memories of the best dates we’ve been on, plus the funny memories we share, added to the great vacations we’ve been on.  Our life, our relationship, is all of this…PLUS… the fights we’ve had, the times we’ve cried together, the times we’ve been sick, exhausted, and stressed, and the times we’ve said something hurtful to each other.  These moments (just as much as the good memories) are what make us real.  They are what give us a relationship, which is made up of the good and the bad.

The last fight we had was a good example of this.  I don’t remember exactly what it was about, but it had something to do with kale.  Right off the bat, we were both in a bad place.  The loving relationship we had was suddenly replaced by cold stone facades.  Life seemed to be put on hold.  At the moment, all I wanted was to be able to go back and take back my words from a few minutes earlier!  But, here’s what I found out…I listened to her and heard what she was saying and feeling.  Then she listened to me and understood where I was coming from.  And then the facades we put up seemed to magically fall away.  It was an awesome moment of resolution that we were both really proud of and thankful for.  I feel it helped us in our relationship and we learned a lot about what we CAN do when faced with something like that.

But sometimes things aren’t that tidy.  Sometimes we fight, but don’t have a quick and healthy resolution.  Sometimes we’re grieving something that doesn’t go away.  Sometimes we’re exhausted from life and there is no “win” at the finish line to reward us.  At times like these, I try to remember…that’s life.  We can’t pick and choose moments to make up our relationship.  We have to take it all as a package.  But, we CAN use the difficult times to help us be thankful.  We CAN learn from mistakes we make.  

My challenge to you:

When your marriage is having a rough day, remember that it’s just a day.  Learn what you can from it.  And remember to take the bad AND the good and love it ALL as a package.