Monthly Archives: April 2015

The marriage trap

New-Members-Only-267x300”Free tablet for new customers!”, “Special 12 month introductory rate!”, “Sign up today and save 20%!”…don’t you love these types of promotions?!  I always get excited when service providers try to woo me with deals that can save money or give me free stuff.  But, you know what stinks about these specials?  The company does so much work to get you signed up with all these promises and special deals, but once you’re locked in, they often do little more than the minimum that is expected of them.  There are no more special deals or free stuff.  They often assume they don’t NEED to put much effort into making you happy or keeping you since you’re already locked in.  After some time with high rates, no more specials, or a few instances of bad customer service I find myself wondering if I need to stay with that company.  Maybe there is another service provider out there that would be better and could give me some special deals to move to them?!

I realize that unfortunately I sometimes treat my wife this way.  When we were dating, I put so much thought and effort into making her feel special.  I was constantly thinking of special things to do for her and cool dates to take her on.  It’s never been my intention, but, now that we’re married, over time it has been easy to fall into the trap of not putting as much energy into PURSUING her as I used to.  I call it the Marriage Trap…and it is lame-o!

Here is what I want to do…I want to pursue my wife…even now.  Sure, she has a ring on her finger.  Sure, we have a life and family together.  But, I never want to take it for granted that she has chosen me.  I want her to choose me over and over again every day!  My hope is to always be thinking about special things I can do to show her I love her.  I want to plan fun dates and experiences for us to go on together.  I want to bring her gifts to show I was thinking of her.

Now, I do believe that marriage is for life.  And I don’t think that a LACK OF pursuit justifies “shopping around for other deals”.  But, I think it is important for a husband to continue to treat his wife as he did when they were dating.  God has brought you together and has a plan for your marriage.  You owe it to your wife, to God, and to yourself to make it the best marriage you can.

My challenge to you:
No matter how long you’ve been married, make sure you continue to pursue your wife and treat her as good (or better) as you did when you were dating.  Don’t give her the opportunity to be disappointed in who you’ve become or the lack of attention you give her.  Keep blowing her away with awesomeness and you will see your relationship continue to grow!

“Daddy, this money is going to change the world”

IMG_1761I know…I’m going off-topic again…my apologies :-)

My son Eli often does things that blow my mind.  Although I’m supposedly the parent and the one who is teaching him about life and how to become an adult, I’m always surprised at the things I learn from him.  God has really put a lot of awesomeness in him.  I can’t wait to see what he’s going to be like when he grows up!

I’m just writing this now, but the event I want to share about occurred about a year ago.  We had started giving him a weekly allowance of $2.  He got to decorate 3 different piggy banks (tithe, save, and spend).  We told him whenever he got allowance, he had to put AT LEAST 10% into tithe ($.20) but he could do more if he wanted.  Then, split the rest between savings and spending.  It seemed like a good plan, but most weeks he just decided to put it all in tithe, which was really cool.

As a parent, I saw the weeks go by and I started to feel badly for him.  As bad as it sounds, I wanted him to be able to spend some money.  I wanted him to be able to buy stuff like toys, or candy, or whatever.  But, if he didn’t start putting money in his spending bank, he never would.  We would be at Target and he’d see something he wanted and I would start to say, “do you want to use your spending money on this?” but then I realized that he didn’t have any because he gave it all away!  Every once in a while he would put some money into spending and would get up to a dollar or two.  But then one day he would say “you know what…I’m just going to put all my spending money to tithe.”

So, the story I wanted to share was this…one time I gave him 2 weeks of allowance at once ($4), and of course he said he was going to put it all towards tithe.  Wanting to teach him the “responsible” side of money management, I asked him, “don’t you want to keep some for spending and saving?”  I will never forget his response.  He looked at me with almost a look of hurt in his eyes.  And he said in the most serious voice a 6 year old can…”Daddy, this money is going to change the world.”

I just about burst into tears in a split second after that.  I managed to hold them back and say I was proud of him.  Then he ran up the steps to put his money away.  I would estimate that since we started, we’ve probably given him around $140 in allowance…and he’s probably given away about $136 of it.

When I hear him say things like that, it really challenges me to re-evaluate my own perspective.  It’s easy to laugh off a $4 gift as being a world changer.  You can barely buy a latte for $4!  But, you know what…he’s right…$4 CAN change the world….when God is behind it.

I can picture Eli if he were alive 2,000 years ago.  He would be the one, in the middle of the crowd listening to Jesus.  And when everyone was hungry he would say, “here take this bread and fish that I have, I know you can do AMAZING things with this!”  And as others laughed at his exuberance, Jesus would take that small amount of food and feed 5,000 people.

My challenge to you (and me):

Don’t sell God short.  He can do amazing things with even the smallest amount of time, money, and energy we can give.  Maybe it’s 2 hours of volunteering with the youth group.  Maybe it’s greeting people at church.  Maybe it’s taking some canned goods to a food shelter.  Or maybe it’s giving $4 for an offering .  You have no idea how your gift can impact other people…but don’t for a second think that it doesn’t matter or won’t make a difference.  If God is behind it…it definitely will.

The number one cause of divorce is…

IMG_2153People don’t generally enter into marriage planning to get divorced.  Things are usually great at first and then…things change.  I desperately DON’T want this to happen, so it begs the question…what’s the number one cause of divorce?  Well, it depends on who you ask.  Some will say money.  Some will say children.  Some will say marital unfaithfulness.  And apparently some think it is sweatpants.  So…who really knows!?

Julia and I try to communicate about finances so we’re on the same page and make decisions together.  We love our little Eli and do our best to parent together.  We try to prevent close relationships with the opposite sex unless it is hanging out all of us together.  We made a point to not be social media “friends” with anyone we’ve ever dated before.  I feel all of these things are good, but none are guarantees.

I can tell you one thing I know.  Here are some things that are NOT the number one cause of divorce:

  • Cooking dinner for your wife
  • Telling her that you love her
  • Giving her flowers
  • Hugs / kisses
  • Writing a note telling her something sweet
  • Spending quality time together doing something you like
  • Going out on a date together
  • Buying a present just for fun
  • Cleaning the house without being asked
  • Taking the kids out as a way to give her some alone time
  • Smiling at her
  • Giving her a compliment
  • Listening to her

By the grace of God, Julia and I continue to have a great marriage.  I’m so thankful for the lessons we’ve learned over the years and the wisdom we’ve gained from others.  My goal is to continue to focus on PREVENTING divorce by avoiding bad things.  But, even more so, I want to focus on PURSUING great things!  If we can fill our relationship with awesomeness, there will be little room for the rest.

My challenge to you:

If you want to avoid divorce in your marriage, it IS important to focus on “defense”…how you can PREVENT it.  However, I think it is just as important to focus on “offense”.  Don’t just try to prevent a bad marriage from happening…actively pursue a GREAT MARRIAGE! 

But wait…I thought that was MY job

  1. What should I do if my wife wants to quit her job to stay home?
  2. What should I do if my wife has a promotion opportunity that would require us to move?
  3. What should I do if my wife has a good job and wants me to stay home with the kids?

To answer these three questions, I want to start by giving some background on what I think marriage roles should be:

IMG_7268Back when God first created people, his design was for the man and wife to work together to take care of their family.  Typically the man “worked the ground” and hunted to provide food, and the woman did more of the cooking and caring for kids.  This wasn’t because of societal expectation, but was because it made sense based on how they were made.  Men were usually physically stronger than women.  Farming and hunting was EXTREMELY physical work, so it made sense for the man to take care of that part.  But, BOTH the man and women WERE taking care of their family…just in different ways…based on their skills.  Fast forward to present day and apply those same concepts to a married couple.  BOTH people should be responsible for taking care of their family…based on their skills.

There are two parts to what taking care of a family means:

  1. Providing resources:  In the past, this meant hunting, gathering, and farming, but today this usually means earning money to BUY the things that are needed.
  2. Providing care:  This consists of cooking, cleaning, teaching, and much more.  How this looks has changed over time, but the basics are still the same.

IMG_6856I don’t feel that men need to be the primary bread winners.  In fact, in the right situations, I don’t think men NEED to even work to earn money.  I believe what IS important is for a husband and wife to work together to meet the needs of their family.  They need to figure out what is the best way to provide resources and care for their family.  Maybe this means the husband works (earning money) and the wife works at home (not earning money).  Maybe it means the wife works (earning money) and husband works at home (not earning money).  Or maybe they both are employed.  If both spouses are employed, this can obviously create some extra challenges in providing care, but many couples do this and do it well.

So, viewing careers from this perspective can help address the questions I posed at the beginning.  The answer to all three of these questions are the same.  You and your wife need to figure out the best way to meet the needs of your family.  What is the best way for you to earn money to provide for your family’s needs?  What is the best way for you to provide care for your family?  Maybe it means she needs to be the primary (or only) income earner.  If you would expect her to follow you to a new city for a promotion opportunity, it would be unfair for you to not consider following her if she has an opportunity.  If one of you needs to stay home, don’t assume it needs to be her.  If she can earn money, I’m sure you can learn to do things at home.  Figure out where each of your skills lie and find the best fit to use them to meet your family’s needs.  Just don’t make an assumption on what that should look like based on what other generations did before you.