Monthly Archives: August 2014

Yes, I would LOVE to watch that reality TV show about dancing with you

couple-watching-tv_725x377-1360355188So, you want to have a closer relationship with your wife huh?  Here’s something that can help.  Find something you can share an interest in.  If you each always pursue what YOU want to do, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to share life together.  Having an activity, sport, TV show, or hobby that you’re both interested in is a GREAT way to spend more time together and connect better.

Couple-ReadingIt’s tough for me to write about this subject because, to be honest, I have a lot of room for improvement in it.  I did read Twilight (ok) and The Host (pretty good), but on the whole I have a hard time choosing to read the types of books she’s interested in reading.  We have a few TV shows that we both enjoy (Amazing Race, Modern Family, Survivor), but on the whole my TV preferences are MUCH different than hers.  Same with movies…I like explosions and adventure.  National Treasure is probably the archetype for my ideal movie…whereas hers is Lars and the Real Girl.

I KNOW that I should suck it up and watch So You Think You Can Dance, or Parenthood, or Celebrity Game Night, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  I know that I should read more books that she reads as a way to understand and connect with her more.  I know that I should sit through watching The Tree of Life as a way to understand more about what she loves, but I just haven’t.

tennisfansHow great would it be if I put aside what I wanted to do and decided to pursue an interest in something she was interested in.  Or if we both decided to get into a new hobby together (dancing, painting, etc).

My advice to you:
Try out some of the things your wife is into.  Even if it is not something you’re interested in, try it out as a way to connect with her more.  And talk with her about finding a new activity that you both could get into and try it together.  Even if you don’t fall in love with the new activity, at least you’re experiencing it together…which can be fun.

Life is good, so why does my marriage feel so distant?!

far_awayOk…this week’s post is a reality check for me.  I LOVE my life.  I feel very blessed and am so thankful for what God has given to me.  But, the last few weeks have been a sobering reminder of just how TOUGH life can be.

Recently, Julia and I signed up to be marriage coaches for small group leaders at our church.  I’m really excited about it.  It’s a way to use my passions to reach other people and encourage them in their marriage.  Also, it’s a great opportunity for us to have a ministry TOGETHER, which we haven’t done in a long time.  But, we knew that as soon as we got in a place to do what we felt God calling us to do, that we would be attacked.  And that’s exactly what happened.

From the moment we agreed to be coaches, Julia and I have felt distant.  Life was busy like it always is.  I had a couple business trips.   Eli started back in school.  But, nothing was that different though.  All of a sudden, Julia and I just felt like roommates.  It was weird.  We still loved each other, but felt like we didn’t know each other anymore.  And we BOTH felt it, but couldn’t figure out anything to do to fix it.  The evenings we did have together resulted in surface conversations and watching mindless TV.

As a result of this, I found myself spending a lot of time in prayer.  Isn’t it a shame, that it often takes desperate situations to give our prayer lives much substance?…but, maybe that’s just me.  I felt God speaking to me about a few things during this time.

  • From a Bible study Julia and I have been doing together, I really felt convicted by Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the tree in Daniel 4.  How he had become so great and self-reliant that God saw fit to take everything away from him.  I realized how I didn’t want it to take devastation in my life to get me to “praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven” the way He deserves.
  • I recently felt convicted/reminded about my role as a father from a conversation I had with a friend.  We both shared how we had a hard time having the energy to be a dad when our kids wanted us.  That it can be so tempting to just “get by” rather than make the effort to really do fun things with them.
  • If we are going to “lead” others, we need to expect to be spiritually attacked.  I realized that if we are going to be able to be effective as coaches, we cannot do it on our own.
  • Lastly, I felt challenged by last week’s message at our church titled “Living for God in a Godless Culture”.  I felt inadequate in my passion for reaching the many people all around me who need help and need the Gospel.

All of these issues stacked up to make me feel overwhelmed and unworthy of the grace and blessings that God has given to me.  It resulted in me crying in the back row of church with Julia as I prayed for God to help me be the husband I need to, the father I need to, the coach I need to be to our new group, and of course to help Julia and I communicate and work through whatever had been derailing our relationship.

As cathartic as that moment was, it wasn’t a magic spell that fixed everything.  I have spent a lot of time in prayer since then, and we’ve been able to have some good conversations in the last several days.  With God’s help, we’re doing MUCH better now and I’m confident that our marriage will continue to grow and become stronger than ever.  Also, I know that HE WILL USE US.  He has called us to this ministry and I believe good things will happen as a result.

My advice to you:

If you and your wife feel distant, there is going to be some underlying cause.  Make it your top priority to work through it.  The work WILL be tough, but is undoubtably worth it.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Are you spending enough quality time together (talking and doing things…not just being physically near each other)
  • Are you too busy?  Maybe you need to cut out some activities.
  • Are you putting your wife’s needs over yours?
  • How is your prayer life?  If your marriage doesn’t have roots in The Word, then you have nothing to keep you grounded.
  • Are there any sins or issues that need to be confessed or discussed?  Nothing will derail a relationship quite like secrets and lies.  Confession is a powerful tool that take away its power over you.

5 secrets to prevent fighting over finances

marriage-money“You know what really makes our marriage amazing…finances!”…said no person ever.  It’s no secret that financial issues are the number one conflict in marriages.  In our society today, practically ALL of our lives center around money…the house we live in, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the activities we’re in, the clothes we wear, how much we tithe, etc.  And the one immutable fact about money is…when it’s gone…it’s gone!  So, in a marriage it is easy to see how a couple, who lives together and shares expenses, could easily have conflict.

I feel PRETTY good (and I use that term loosely) about how Julia and I balance finances.  I think we communicate pretty well and I’m lucky that Julia is so responsible with money.  However, we STILL argue about money from time to time.  I want to share some tips that I’ve found to be helpful in this area.  We haven’t mastered them yet, but I think they are all good things to consider…

1. Treat any income as joint income

If you and your wife both work, nothing promotes selfishness and mistrust quite like keeping your money separate.  Treat any income as FAMILY income.  Combine it and decide together what to do with it.  Separate bank accounts might sound good to the one who earns the higher income, but it creates a hierarchy of importance in the relationship…which is never good.  At work, I’ve heard from several different guys how when annual bonus time comes around, they turn off the automatic deposit for their paycheck…so they can get their bonus money and do whatever they want with it without their wife knowing about it.  Please, for your sake…don’t do this.

2. Don’t hide purchases from your wife

No matter how you keep track of purchases, there is always some way to “get away with” buying something that your wife doesn’t know about.  What I mean is…imagine you have a budget category for electronics, clothes, games, food, etc and you want to buy something but don’t have enough money in the budget for it.  There is often a way to get around this and buy it without your wife knowing that you spent money you weren’t supposed to (especially if you’re the one who takes care of the finances).  DON’T DO IT!  You wouldn’t want her to do it to you, so set the right example and be honest with what you do.

divorce-money-fight3. Budget together

One of my favorite times of the year…budgeting time!!  Julia doesn’t share my enthusiasm for it, but I make sure that she has input into what we do.  Whatever method you use, make sure both you and your wife have a say in the process.

4. Don’t make large financial decisions without being in agreement

Make sure anytime you’re making a decision that involves finances for something larger than your normal expenses that you both are talking about it and are in agreement.  It drives me crazy when I see those commercials about someone buying a new $50,000 car and putting a bow on it for a surprise gift.  Really?…you’re not going to talk about that first?

5. Pray about finances

When you’re budgeting, or deciding about large purchases, don’t rely on your own instincts.  Pray about whether or not it is a good idea.  Ask God to give you wisdom and an unselfish heart.  If you apply this to financial decisions, especially if you pray TOGETHER, it will help make sure you’re on the same page…not just with your wife…but with God.  Remember that God is the one who gave you the money, so keep that in mind when deciding what to do with it.

My advice to you:

No matter where you are, we all need to make sure we’re being healthy in our marriage relationship where finances are concerned.  All of the above advice can be summed up by…don’t be selfish, talk about money, remember that God gave it to you.

Emailing your wife a sex spreadsheet: Good or bad idea?

o-SEX-KILL-MARRIAGE-facebookAs we all know, there are two things God created that hold a special place in life above all other things.  Of course I am speaking about sex and Excel spreadsheets.  Few things in life are better.  Recently the news media picked up a story about a man who, without his wife’s knowledge, kept track of each time he tried to initiate sex.  He noted whether it was successful and what excuses were given if his wife turned him down.  After a few weeks of mostly unsuccessful attempts he emailed his wife a spreadsheet showing the results.  The wife was so upset by it that she posted it on social media and it went viral.

Now, I would be hard pressed to think of a time where I DIDN’T advocate the use of a spreadsheet, but I think this may be one of them.  As I thought about what happened, a few things came to my mind about intimacy and communication that I think we can learn from this.

1. Sex is a big deal, but not always in equal amounts for both people

Most people enjoy sex, but I’d guess it’s pretty rare for a married couple to have identical sex drives.  This means, it’s going to be common for one person to want to have sex more than the other.  This is a situation that is just asking for frustration and hurt feelings.  That’s why it is SO important to communicate.  If you’re not happy with the frequency of sex in your marriage you need to talk with your wife about it.  It may be that she doesn’t realize how important it is to you.  Or, it may be that you’re not doing much to get her in the mood.  Maybe she would respond more if you spent more time finding ways to show her love and for you to be connected during the day.  Whatever the situation, it can only be improved by communicating.

2. Communication about important issues should be done by talking

I’m all about emails…I send around 200 per day, but important issues need to be communicated face to face.  This is true for work situations, friends, wives, anyone!  Dissatisfaction with your sex life definitely qualifies as something that deserves a face to face conversation.  Email is impersonal and doesn’t leave room for expressions and feedback.  Anytime you have an issue with your spouse, take the time to sit down with them, without distractions, and share what you’re feeling.  I guarantee you the result will be much better than sending an email or a text message about it.

3. Shaming doesn’t accomplish anything good

Nobody wins when you shame your spouse.  I talk more about this in a post I wrote a few months ago (click here to see it).  Emailing them a spreadsheet highlighting where you feel they are failing falls into this category.  In this situation, the wife in turn shamed her husband back by sharing it online.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  It makes two hurt people.  If you really care about your wife, put your desire to work things out OVER your desire to have your say.

So what went wrong in the story of this couple?  

  • The husband failed to talk with his wife as soon as he felt there was a problem.
  • The husband’s method of communication (email) was not conducive to conflict resolution.
  • The communication was destructive…shaming and putting her down rather than trying to share feelings and develop a solution together.
  • The wife responded in a destructive way, shaming her husband back.

My advice to you…don’t email a spreadsheet about sex.  And talk with your wife as soon as you feel there is an issue…about intimacy or anything.