Monthly Archives: January 2014

Dating the Heck Out of Her

Movie Night
Movie Night

Dates are AWESOME!  I love getting to go out with Julia…just the two of us.  Some of our favorite activities are watching a movie, going to dinner, going to a coffee shop, window shopping, going to a bookstore to hang out, or going to a concert.  When we first got married, we would take dates pretty regularly, but after Eli was born our date frequency plummeted!

When you have kids, it can be very difficult to have a healthy dating life.  Sometimes it is hard to find good babysitters.  Assuming you can find them, the cost adds up quickly.  If you have the money to cover dinner and a movie, now you have to add on 5 hours of babysitting on top of it.  It is easy to think…it would be so much easier (and cheaper) just to stay at home.  As a result, many couples just stop taking dates.

Glen Hansard Concert
Glen Hansard Concert

I believe one of the most important aspects to keeping a marriage healthy is to have quality time together.  Everyone is different in what that quality time looks like, but a common trait that is shared is that you have time together…on your own.  When you sit down at a restaurant, you have a chance to talk about things you wouldn’t normally think of talking about.  You’re no longer distracted by TV, or kids, or email, or chores.  As a result, there is the chance for a deeper connection.  You can talk about what’s going on in your lives to a degree that you can’t when you’re sitting around the table at home with kids.

A couple years ago, I realized I had failed at being a leader in this area of our marriage.  Julia and I would occasionally go on dates (once every month or two), but it was only when it was really convenient and when my parents were free to watch Eli.  I decided that I needed to make this a priority.  So I made a few changes…

1.  Increased “Dates” Budget:  
We rearranged our monthly budget to basically triple our “Dates” category.  As a result, we had money to hire a babysitter when we needed it, and my new goal was to go out on a date at least twice per month.  **Sidenote…if you don’t have a Dates category in your budget, that’s a good place to start!***

2.  Started At-Home Dates

At Home Date…Paper Airplane Contest
At Home Date…Paper Airplane Contest

In addition to our out on the town dates, I started scheduling “at-home dates”.  Basically it’s a night you devote to doing something different and special with just you two…but you do it at home.  Sometimes we’ll eat with Eli, or sometimes we’ll wait to eat together after he goes to bed.  Either way, I’ll plan and cook something nice for dinner.  But, then after he’s in bed, I’ll have something planned that is different from the norm.  Game nights, read a book to each other, put together a puzzle, watch a movie, discussion questions, etc.  These are easy to do, they don’t cost anything, and are a lot of fun!

3.  Made it MY Responsibility
I also made it MY responsibility to make sure we scheduled dates.  At any given time, I have 3-4 months worth of dates already scheduled on our family calendar.  If something comes up…sorry that’s date night…my Baby comes first!  Or if it really makes sense to do something else, we’ll make sure to reschedule it to a different night.

 Make sure you make dating your wife a priority.  Date the heck out of her!  If you find you’re in a rut…doing the same thing every time, mix it up by going to new restaurants, events, or activities.  A good marriage cannot stay good without quality time together.  And dating is a great way to help with that.

My Wife Ripped Me Off

home2I stumbled across a lesson a few years ago that apparently had a much bigger impact on my wife than I ever thought it would.  Julia loves books.  She always loved going to the library to get books on a variety of things, biographies and classic novels being her favorites.  I’m so thankful that she’s been able to pass that love along to Eli who reads all the time now too!  At one point, there were a few books that were overdue that started to add up in library fines.  The total got to around $25.  At the time, things were somewhat tight financially.  Don’t get me wrong, we were paying our bills fine and $25 wasn’t going to put us under, but still it was something we didn’t need.  The fine was a huge worry for her.  She was afraid I would be upset with her.  She was afraid I would blame her for being careless with money.  So rather than face the fine and have to pay it, she just stopped going to the library.

A little while later, I was in the library getting a book for myself.  When I went to checkout, they let me know that my wife had a fine on her account, so I asked if I could just pay it then…which I did.  I had one main motivation for doing so.  She LOVES the library and I hated that she had stopped going there because of the stupid fines.  So, I wanted to pay them off so she could be free from them and go back whenever she wanted to.  I’ll be honest though…I wasn’t happy about it.  That $25 could have been spent on plenty of other things.  I knew it wasn’t a huge amount, but when financial issues happen that I feel are wasteful and outside of my control, it bothers me.  I realize that’s an issue I have…especially considering that something like this is so small.

When I got home, part of me wanted to rub it in her face.  Something like, “hey you wanna go out to eat tonight…oh wait…we just spent that money on library fines, nevermind.”  Or, “so…how are you going to earn back that $25 I just spent to cover your fines?”  But, I thought about it and I realized there were two things I cared about in all this.  One was that she would be able to go back to the library…which she loves.  That part had already been solved.  The other was that I wanted her to know that library fines are a waste of money and that I hoped it wouldn’t happen any more.  But, when I thought about that second desire, I realized that had already been solved too.  She had been beating herself up for weeks about those fines.  She knew it was a waste and she knew I wouldn’t like it.  So I realized something…there was no point in me belittling her more or getting onto her about it.  So I simply said, “I paid your library fines, so you can feel free to go back again if you like.”…and that was it.

What I didn’t anticipate was the impact this had on Julia.  It showed her that I wasn’t going to rub her nose into mistakes.  It showed her that $25 was nothing in comparison to her pursuing what she loves.  And from her perspective, it showed her (in a way) what the love of Christ was like for us.  He came to earth to take our sin debt away and pay the price for us.  He didn’t rub our noses in it.  He did it because he loves us, and now, we are free because of it.  Now, I didn’t have the most Christlike attitude when I was paying the fine, but I’m glad it worked out.  And I’m glad that she felt loved through my actions.

So here’s what I learned through this.  Library fines are nothing…and $25 is nothing in comparison to taking care of Julia.  Yes, I was upset at the time, but when I thought about it, I know that Julia is NOT careless with money.  Financially, she is one of the most responsible women I know.  If a tiny $25 charge is the only money issue I have to worry about, then I consider myself a VERY lucky man!  Just the year before that, I made a bad financial decision that cost us over $1,000 and she didn’t get on to me for a second.

I also learned that it does no good to rub someone’s face into something they did.  Julia didn’t need to be chastised by me.  She needed to be LOVED.  She needed to know that no matter how many times she may mess up, no matter how much money she may blow, no matter how much inconvenience or frustration she may cause me…that I will ALWAYS love her NO MATTER WHAT!  I think she felt this to a very small degree, but I could have done so much more to assure her.

Here is my challenge to you:

  • Keep things in perspective.  Before you get upset about something, look at the big picture and ask yourself…is this really worth getting upset over?
  • Don’t rub someone’s nose into an issue, especially if they’ve already learned their lesson.  If a kid sneaks out of the house to go to a party you said he couldn’t go to… you may need to ground him.  But, imagine he snuck out to go to the party, but then felt bad about it and voluntarily grounded himself.  Are you going to ground him AGAIN just to prove your point?
  • Forgive not once, or seven times, but 70 times 7.  No matter what the issue is.  It could be something small like a library fine, or something big (you fill in the blank here).  Forgiveness is one of the most important steps to having a healthy relationship.  And if you can forgive your wife…no matter what…she will feel loved.

My Wife Rocks…(and why you and she are both going to know it)

IMG_0317Something I LOVE to do is brag on Julia.  Maybe it’s to people on Facebook.  Maybe it’s to my friends.  Maybe it’s to Eli (my 5 year old son).  For example, she is an AMAZING mom!  She never tires of showing love to Eli, and has so much wisdom in how to raise a child.  And she is the best cuddler that Eli could ever ask for.

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She also is a beast at weight-lifting.  I never tire of bragging on her when she rocks it out.  Here was a picture proving  she finished first out of all the women in the gym (around 45 that day) in back squats by completing 2 at 190#.  It’s worth noting that just this week she actually did 4 reps at 215# (which is more than I can do)!

 Not only do I love telling people about her awesomeness, but I love it when she hears it, too.  I want everyone to know about how amazing she is.  But, even more than that, I want JULIA to know that I see the amazingness in her.  Women (like men) want to be appreciated. They want to feel special.  They want to know when their husband thinks they are pretty, smart, funny, etc.  I try to tell her these things whenever I can, but I think it takes it to a whole new level when I tell other people…and she can hear.  Sure, she’ll act embarrassed a little and downplay it like I’m just exaggerating, but I think she really likes it deep down.

photoI just got a new favorite shirt.  I asked for it for Christmas, but Julia wouldn’t get it for me, so I had to buy it myself.  It says “My Wife Rocks” on the front.  When I first got it, I wore it 4 days in a row.  I don’t normally wear shirts multiple days in a row, but hey, there are lots of people that hadn’t seen me yet…and they needed to know!

I’m a big fan of bragging on your wife, but I’m NOT a fan of being fake.  If you just start making things up that simply aren’t true or that you don’t really believe, your compliments will start to be less effective.  Don’t tell her she looks great unless you really think so.  Don’t tell her she’s great at something if she’s really not.  Honesty is a big deal in a healthy relationship and as soon as you start deviating from it, everything you say and do comes into question.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

1.  If someone else compliments your wife on her cooking, chime in… “that’s right, she’s an AMAZING cook!”

2.  If someone comes over to your house and compliments you on the design or decor, pass the praise along…”I had nothing to do with it.  It was all Julia.  She is awesome at that stuff.”

3.  If someone compliments you on your parenting skills after seeing your child do something great, pass the praise along…”Thanks, but Julia is pretty much the expert.  I wouldn’t have a clue what I was doing if it weren’t for her.”

4.  If you and your wife enter a room that has several people you know, and you think she’s looking great… “cover your eyes if you don’t want to stumble guys because Julia has entered the building and she is looking hot tonight…oh yeah!”

So, here is my challenge…think about what things you think are great about your wife.  Keep them at the front of your mind.  Then, whenever the opportunity presents itself, be ready to praise her in front of other people.  Maybe you’re having dinner with friends, or hanging out with others, or talking with people at church, or just on social media.  Identify something you think is awesome about your wife, and let everyone (including her) know!

 

 

Let’s Get This Party Started!

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So….how do you start one of these things?!  As you can see I’ve decided to venture into the blogosphere (is that the right terminology?).  I’ve recently gone through a course called The GPS Life Journey: Discovering God’s Plan for Success.  It is a book/study to help identify your personality, gifts, abilities, passions, and interests.  Then, you use that information to develop a mission statement for your life.  I wasn’t sure what would come out of it, but eventually I focused on one topic which I realize is a big passion of mine…helping men to be better husbands.  The mission I’ve adopted is…to mentor men to become more loving and connected husbands who both serve and lead their wives in a Godly manner.

Why write?

Let’s face it…there are a lot of sucky husbands out there (including me at times)!  I hear some of the things men say and see things they do and it makes me mad.  I think, “how does he not realize that what he is saying and doing is crushing the relationship with his wife?”  Maybe they do realize it and don’t care.  Or maybe they’re just acting the way THEIR father did…or the way their friends do.  Either way, I’ve made it my mission to see what kind of a difference I can make.  Maybe Julia (my wife) is the only person who will follow me here.  If that’s the case…as long as she feels more loved as a result of the things I share, then I consider it a win.  But, my ultimate hope is that there are some men out there who are encouraged, reminded, and challenged with some ideas to help them make some changes in their lives.

What makes me an expert?

Nothing!  HA!  I’m far from an expert in this.  I feel like I mess up more times than I succeed as a husband.  Sometimes I don’t know why Julia puts up with me.  One thing I know is this…I love my wife.  My goal is to out-love her.  I never want her to doubt my love and commitment to her.  So I try, every day, to do what I can to reassure her of that.    In the process, I’ve been able to come up with experiences of what worked for me and what didn’t.  I hope that by sharing what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen in my life and in others’ lives, that I can make a different to someone else.