Monthly Archives: June 2015

“Talk…now? Doesn’t she realize I’m busy?”

stock-footage-man-hands-typing-on-a-keyboardSo, the other day I was working…and Julia came in the office and started talking with me about something that was bothering her.  I was in the middle of finishing something up, so my thoughts were…”doesn’t she realize I’m working?  How does she expect me to have a meaningful conversation now?”  In order to balance to two, I slightly cheat my head toward her (never taking my eyes off the computer or fingers off the keyboard) and engage in deep conversation along the lines of… “yeah….uh huh…yeah…hmmm”.  After a bit, it’s obvious to her that I’m not really paying attention or communicating with her.  So then she feels hurt and leaves.

This was NOT an isolated incident unfortunately.  It happens all the time.  Sometimes it’s while I’m working.  Sometimes it’s while I’m watching something on tv.  Sometimes it’s doing something on the computer.  But, it’s always the same…I’m doing something…Julia comes up to try to talk with me…I don’t care enough to stop what I’m doing and give her my attention…she feels unimportant and hurt.

As a result…I usually don’t remember anything about what she’s said, and she feels like I don’t care about what she has to say.  Both of these are bad.  The good news is, this is an easy problem to avoid using my handy two-step process.

Step 1 – Stop what I’m doing:  Seriously…just stop.  There is very little I could be doing that is SO important that I can’t stop for one minute.

Step 2 – Give her my attention:  Make eye contact, listen, and contribute to the conversation.

That’s it!  BOOM!  Welcome to the awesome.  :-)

Now, it’s possible that I may actually be in the middle of something important and time sensitive.  Ignoring her and hoping she catches the hint is NOT the best way to communicate this though.  A much better way to communicate it is…WORDS (imagine that)!  It’s actually pretty easy to say, “Hey, I really want to hear what you have to share, could we talk in a few minutes instead?  I really need to finish something up first.”  I’ve found this approach goes over much better.

This is a problem that I’ve had a tough time with for quite a while, but I’m working on it.  I find that the more I think about it, the more likely I am to apply it.  And when I have a win, it helps reinforce what I want to do.

My advice to you:

If your wife has something to tell you, it’s for a reason.  She’s not just exercising her vocal cords.  Take a moment to stop what you’re doing and listen.  Maybe that means pausing the tv, turning to look at her, or closing the laptop.  Remember she is your wife and ask yourself, “is what I’m currently doing more important than my wife and her feelings?”

Ice ice no baby…literally

87611732A few weeks ago I participated in a man’s rite of passage.  The passage from being a man one day…to being a man who won’t be creating any more kids the next.  That’s right…it starts with a “V” and rhymes with schlasectomy.  Overall, it wasn’t too bad.  The worst was the interminable drive home when I felt like I was going to die.  But, once I got home, I did a lot of resting and felt much better.  For the next couple days, it was actually nice to have no responsibilities…and lots of drugs (prescribed by the doctor).

Julia was amazing.  Whenever I needed something, she was there.  Books, remote controls, ice, food, pillows, movies, water…more ice…she was ready with it all!   I got taco pie, guacamole, frosted lemonade…whatever I wanted.  After all (in the words on Phil Dunphy), “is it a vasecta-you or a vasecta-me?”  I felt so loved how she took care of me.  I felt free to rest and to allow myself to be taken care of.

It was a difficult weekend for Julia though.  She was waiting on me hand and foot, plus taking care of Eli, plus visiting with out of town company and baking things.  She was stressed and I could feel it.

It was tough for me to be passive, especially as I started to feel a little better.  I wanted to stop and clean up the kitchen.  I wanted to tell her to sit down and relax while I made a nice dinner.  But, she wouldn’t let me.  She knew that the most important thing was for me to rest so my body can heal.  She was determined to take care of me and wouldn’t have it any other way.  So, I had to resist the urge to exert myself.  Julia was right.  It was the right move, and the rest I got helped me to recover quickly.

Looking back on it, it was actually a really awesome weekend.  I felt special and very much loved.  I learned first-hand from Julia’s example how much taking care of your spouse means to the person being taken care of.

My advice to you:

Sometimes you will be the person that needs the help, and sometimes you will be the person who needs to be helping.  In either case, do your job well!  I know that I will be there for Julia the next time she’s in the spot I was.  Make sure you see when your wife needs it and help her out too.

Just get her flowers for crying out loud!

Seattle 081Julia loves getting flowers…this is something I know.  She tells me frequently, and it is very clear.  She doesn’t tell me in a nagging pestering way making me feel like a louse for not getting them.  But, sometimes we talk about things we can do to show each other love and things we really appreciate, and flowers is one that seems to always come up.

You would think this clarity would be great right?  I’ve been granted access to this secret knowledge of a way to Julia’s heart…score!  So, what could go wrong??!!  I’ll tell you what goes wrong…I don’t get them.  It’s as simple as that.  “But Michael, that doesn’t make any sense!” you say…”if she tells you that she feels loved when you get her flowers, and you are always trying to find ways to show her you love her, then why don’t you just get her some flowers?!”  That’s a very good question, to which I don’t have a good answer.

Now to be fair, I DO get her flowers sometimes.  Sometimes it’s for no reason at all.  Sometimes it’s when she’s having a rough day.  But, my issue is the frequency.  To give context for comparison, let’s says her ideal desire is flowers once a month (I’m just throwing that out there as a basis to compare to, not that it is accurate).  If that is her desire, my frequency is around once every 3 months probably.

So, here is the issue…there is a big opportunity for me to show her that I love her, that I was thinking about her, that she is more important to me than the small cost of getting something pretty even if they only last a short time.  Even though I do it some, this bothers me that I’m missing out on an opportunity to knock her love-socks off.

IMG_1061I don’t have a magic answer to master situations like this.  Obviously…because I am far from figuring it out.  But, my hope is to continue to think about her and think about how I can show her I love her.  I’ve recently been thinking that I wished I would get Julia flowers more.  Then, yesterday, I was at the store getting some groceries, and when I passed the flowers section, it wasn’t even a question of whether or not I wanted to get some.  I picked out some flowers I thought she would like and put them in a vase at home.  When she saw them, she came up with a big smile and gave me a hug and a kiss and told me thank you.  Score!  :-)

My challenge to you:

Is there an area that your wife could feel loved in that you’re not doing all you can?  Maybe it’s getting her jewelry, you cooking dinner, cleaning the house, taking her on dates, helping out more with the kids.  Think about what your wife has expressed about ways you can show her love, and think about if there are some of those areas you’re NOT taking advantage of.  Then…make a plan to make it happen.  Keeping it at the front of your mind is going to be the best way to help make it a reality.