Tag Archives: love

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!  :-)

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.

What if your wife hates chocolates?

BoxOfChocolateIt sounds simple…loving your wife.  All you have to do is…take her on dates, cook dinner from time to time, dress nicely, keep your breath smelling good, buy her flowers, and buy her chocolates…right?  Unfortunately it’s not that simple.  What if your wife hates chocolates?  What if she doesn’t enjoy it when you cook meals?  You can’t assume that something the majority of the population appreciates applies to your wife too.

Let’s say for example that some of the things your wife loves more than anything are having a clean car and eating out at restaurants.  Those things just make her feel alive!  Instead of sneaking out to buy her some chocolates as a surprise, how about sneaking out to deep clean her car?  And instead of showing her love by cooking a meal at home, surprise her by taking her out to eat.

This seems like a no brainer, but the tricky part is how do you KNOW what those things are that she loves?  I suggest simply talking about it.  Tonight after you put the kids to bed, don’t open up the computer to do some work, don’t turn on the tv…sit down with your wife and answer these questions:

  1. What are things your spouse does that you feel loved from?
  2. What are things you wish your spouse would do that would help you feel loved?

You may be surprised at what comes out of this conversation.  Make sure to take notes and keep them where you see them frequently.  The first step to loving your wife is to know how she receives it.  The second step is to act on it.  And the best way to act on it is to be reminded of what it is.

My advice to you:

Sit down and talk with your wife going through the questions above.  Maybe tonight before bed.  Maybe on the next date you have.  It doesn’t matter when, just do it.  And then, make sure that the effort you put into loving your wife is directed in the right areas.

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.

6 steps to rock Valentine’s Day

valentines-dayOk guys, it’s coming…Valentine’s Day!  Are you ready?  Do you ever have the feeling of, “We just HAD Valentine’s Day!…like 12 month’s ago!”  Do you ever feel pressure like you HAVE to live up to certain expectations?  Expected gifts, dinners, or activities?  That pressure comes from The Man.  I’m not sure who The Man is, but I think he works for Zales.  I admit that at times Valentine’s Day can feel like more of a responsibility than a joy.

Even though sometimes I dread aspects of it, when I get the right perspective, I ALWAYS love it.  You know why?  It’s another special date with my Baby!  Even if I’m being corralled into certain expectations, I always love when we get to spend meaningful time together.  So to help you with this, I have 6 tips to not just survive, but THRIVE during Valentine’s Day!

  1. Do SOMETHING:  This may sound silly, but it’s important to make sure you are doing SOMETHING to celebrate the day.  The last thing you want is to disappoint your wife by not doing ANYTHING!  It doesn’t mean things have to be fancy or expensive, but just make sure you’ve planned something.
  2. 10492391_10153079122079328_2286394721021814369_nIt’s ok to flex what day you celebrate: Have you ever tried to find a babysitter on Valentine’s Day?  Have you ever gone out to a nice restaurant on Valentine’s Day?  These can be more stressful than they’re worth.  A nice way to combat this is to pick a substitute day to celebrate.  For this to work though, you need to really commit to the substitute date.  It may sound silly, but try to ignore the real day completely and treat the other one as if the whole day is actually Valentine’s Day.  Julia and I celebrated last weekend.  We went downtown and stayed at the Ritz for a night!  The restaurant we ate at was nice and relaxing, but they said they had 600 reservations already for the ACTUAL Valentine’s Day!  I’m glad we went early.
  3. Stay at home:  If you don’t want to deal with sitters or crowded restaurants, an At Home Valentine’s Day may be best.  Put the kids to bed early.  Cook something nice or simply order take-out and eat by candlelight.  Watch a romantic movie or plan your own at-home activities.  Check out my post from 2 weeks ago if you want more “at-home” ideas.
  4. Give a gift…IF YOU WANT TO:  Don’t buy chocolates or jewelry or flowers because you think you’re supposed to.  Buy a gift if you WANT to.  This may take knowing your wife and if that’s a big deal for her.  Whatever you do, don’t buy something trite just because you think you have to.  If you get a gift, make it something meaningful that she will like.
  5. Share responsibility:  A couple years into our marriage, Julia and I realized that Valentine’s Day and our Anniversary were creating stress.  I felt like I had to plan something special EVERY TIME and Julia WANTED to plan something special, but we both had trouble doing so not knowing what the other person was planning on.  So we started sharing responsibility.  One year, I will plan what we do for Valentine’s Day and she will plan what we do for our Anniversary.  The next year we switch.  It is such a relief for each of us to know what’s expected and to not feel like either of us ALWAYS has to do it all.
  6. Play offense not defense: Don’t make your goal to NOT disappoint your wife from whatever expectations she may have.  Make your goal to WOW her.

With all this being said, THE most important thing is to put thought into it.  No matter what you do, if you’ve put thought into how you can love your wife, it’s going to be good and she will appreciate it.  So if you haven’t started thinking yet guys…get on it!

…in sickness and in health

Close Up of Football Players Face in HelmetProfessional athletes spend most of their lives preparing for the game. They work in the off-season. They practice in the pre-season and between games. During this time they are conditioning their bodies to be in shape. They are fine tuning their swing, working on their routes, studying the plays, and practicing their shots. They go through scenarios of what the game will be like over and over, and then they rest. There is a purpose for all this training. When it’s game time, they need to be ready. Their bodies have to be at peak performance the whole game. They have to know how to execute all the skills they need during the game flawlessly. And, most importantly, they don’t have time to rest. They have to give it their all and then some. This is what they trained for.

Back when Julia and I got married, there was something that was asked of us at the ceremony, which is very common to most weddings. We were asked if we would love and care for each other in sickness and in health. Of course we said yes and went on our married way (see what I did right there :-) ). It’s easy to agree to that statement, but it’s much tougher to live it out.

stock-footage-sick-woman-in-bed-checking-her-temperature-and-blowing-noseOn a regular day, marriage can be tough. Some days are easy, but many are not. I’ve found that when one of you is sick, the difficulty is amplified significantly. If your wife is sick, and you want to care for her, you are going to step the work you do. You’re going to take care of the meals, and the household chores, and the kid duties. Plus, you’re going to be extra attentive to what her needs are, physically and emotionally.

I’ll be honest…this can be exhausting! When I am at my weakest, I sometimes feel…that I just don’t want to do it! But, then I realize…

My regular day-to-day life has been my practice field. I’ve been conditioning myself to learn how to do the chores. I’ve been practicing how to make meals and take care of Eli. I’ve been honing my skills so that meeting her needs becomes like a second nature. And now…IT’S GAME TIME! She needs me now more than ever. It doesn’t matter how tired I am or how much I want to relax. If I start to feel bad for myself, I just remember that she feels much worse. So, I will not stop. I will not slow down. I will do everything I can to meet her needs and take work off her plate. This is what I’ve trained for!

My challenge to you:
If your wife is sick, you better bring your A game. It will be tiring, but it will make a world of difference to her. Try to anticipate and meet every need she has. And, don’t stop until she’s feeling better.

The only competition I care about winning

To-Do List - Win - Dry Erase BoardSome people are competitive.  You know the ones I’m talking about…those people who have never been beaten by their kids…in ANYTHING.  Where game night with friends is serious business.  When a Chutes & Ladders loss will ruin the rest of the day.  And then there are people like me…who couldn’t care less.  Now, don’t think that means I don’t put effort into what I do.  It just means that if I lose something, it generally doesn’t really affect me.  But, there is one thing that I AM competitive in…loving my wife.

chickencompetitiveI try to out-love Julia.  Here’s how I see it… If I can show her more love than she shows me, I consider it a win.  So, that’s my goal…every day.  If there are clean dishes in the dishwasher, I try to take care of them before she has a chance to.  If we haven’t gotten to spend much quality time together, I’ll try to write her some notes during the day to let her know I was thinking of her.  If she cooks tacos because she knows that I will love it, then I try to one-up her by writing her a love note AND getting her a gift of some sort.  If I ever feel that she is loving me more than I am her, I see it as a sign that I need to step up my game.

congratulations, you succed itThere is another aspect to this competition too.  I ALSO try to compete against all the other men out there.  If I hear of someone who does something cool that shows how much he loves his wife, I see that as a challenge.  When I see that Jimmy Starnes took his wife out on a great date, or that Chris Erickson went on a crazy wilderness adventure with his wife, or I see Patrick Hallman telling his wife how much he loves her on Facebook…I try to take those ideas as a reminder and apply them in my life.  My goal in this is to be the best husband in the world.  Not that anyone can actually receive that title, but that’s what I’m always working towards.

My challenge to you:
Whether you are generally competitive or not, make it a point to compete in loving your wife.  Don’t let her out-do you.  And when you see or hear other guys doing something great, don’t see it as a sign that you’re NOT doing great.  Take that idea and use it!

I wish I knew THAT back when I got married

This weekend I had the joy of seeing one of my oldest friends get married.  It was so great to see how happy he is marrying the woman God prepared just for him.  They’re a perfect fit for each other, and it makes me so excited to see them together!

8eAs I was there, it made me think about weddings in general.  Couples often put SO much effort into planning for “the big day” so that it can be amazing.  All the food, flowers, schedules, music, etc has to be planned out in hopes of the event going perfectly.  In all the work, it can be easy to put so much focus on the wedding itself, that couples can sometimes forget to put the same amount of effort and planning into their marriage.  Many couples, including my friend and his wife, go through some type of premarital counseling and guidance, to help prepare them for their marriage…not just for the wedding.  Without this type of work, a couple might know EXACTLY what they’re doing for the 6 hours of the wedding and reception, but not have a clue of what they’re going to do for the 5 decades to come of their marriage!

Reading this, you may agree, but be already married and past the point to do anything with this idea.  So, here’s the bomb…it is NEVER too late to prepare for your marriage!  You may be married for 20 years now, but you can STILL go through some of these marriage prep ideas.

  • Discuss your desires and expectations for children:  You may already have three of them, but it is good to make sure you and your wife are on the same page no matter where you are in your family size.
  • Discuss role expectations:  One of the best things Julia and I did in preparing for our marriage was discuss our expectations of who would be the “decision maker” in certain areas of life.  We did this in a workbook called Before You Say I Do, but you could do the exercise without it.  Come up with a list of categories (where money is spent, where we live, parenting roles, home decoration, church involvement, vacation decisions, etc) and indicate what percentage of influence each spouse has in that category.    Answer on your own and then compare.  We found it VERY interesting and helpful.  You can do this even if you’ve been married for a long time!
  • Discuss finances:  How do you budget your money?  What do you do with “extra” money that comes in?  Who manages the bills and balancing it all?
  • Discuss things you want to make sure you do or don’t do as a parent.  This is important even if you are halfway through the process.
  • Have another (possibly older) couple that can serve as a mentor couple to you.  Share with them issues that you have and be open to advice.
  • Talk about communication:  How well do you communicate?  Are there lingering issues that need to be discussed that you haven’t addressed?
  • See a marriage counselor:  No, this is NOT just for couples that are “in trouble”.  Seeing a marriage counselor can help anyone.  If your marriage is good, that might be what you need to help make it GREAT!

My challenge to you:
If you are already married, think through the list above and possibly sit down with your spouse and talk about some of them.  Discussing topics like these, even if you’ve been married for a long time, will help you be on the same page and be more purposeful in your marriage.  You have a lot of married time together left in life, so go prepare for it!!

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.