Tag Archives: love

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.

I want to hold your hand, but I don’t have time right now

_mg_4736I’ve got a problem.  It’s called impatience.  I’ve got another problem.  It’s called really long legs.  If you combine these two issues together you get a recipe for relationship disaster.  Picture Julia and I pulling in to church running about 2 minutes late.  We park the car and start walking in.  I’m about 3 steps in front of her walking quickly as she and Eli struggle to keep up.  I stop and wait every 10 seconds or so to let them catch up before continuing on.  So here is what happens as a result of this…we get where we are going…I am frustrated for being a little late…and Julia is tired from running after me and possibly a little embarrassed.  There is no good that comes from this.

So, what’s the lesson I should learn?  Leave 5 minutes earlier next time?  Sure…that is nice, but it’s not the solution to the heart of the issue.  The issue I have is impatience and the lack of empathy for Julia.

Here’s what I WANT to do.  When I’m walking somewhere, walk WITH her.  It doesn’t make her feel like I’m upset with her or am stressing her out.  Also, something else I want to do…hold hands!  Holding hands is NOT just for when you’re dating or are newlyweds.  I think it is one of the simplest things you can do to show love and develop a connection.  There is something so intimate about the act of holding hands.  But, I don’t do it nearly as much as I’d like to.

My challenge to you:
When you’re walking somewhere with your wife, walk WITH her.  Especially if you have long legs, make an effort to stay by her side so she doesn’t feel rushed.  And to take things to the next level, hold hands!  This will force the walking with her issue and will also develop a better level of intimacy.

My wife is annoying and I love her for it

Some people have stories of love at first sight…how they knew they would be married from the moment they met.  That sounds great, but it was NOT our experience.  I thought Julia was annoying and she thought I was pretentious…it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.  :-)  After a few years of friendship, one day we realized we were kind of into each other…and 12 years later…here we are!Buried in snow with Julia

No matter how well suited a couple may be, there are ALWAYS little things that can be annoying.  It may be the way they leave clothes lying around, or the way they laugh, or the way they don’t listen well, or the way they brush their teeth, or anything!  I know there are plenty of things that I do that I’m sure are annoying to Julia.  Snoring, waking up early, leaving water around the sink, my aversion to being late, and much more.  These are all things that I’m sure are annoying to her.  If I tried, I could probably come up with a few things that are currently annoying about Julia…but I’m not going to do that.  And if you tried, you could probably do the same about your wife…but I’m not going to recommend it.

Houghton 112Here’s the thing…it doesn’t do you any good to focus on things that annoy you about your spouse.  So, here is what I suggest.  Try to view these issues as unique aspects that you are privileged to know about them.  The fact that I get to experience these things with Julia shows that we’re living life together.  I don’t JUST love the good parts of her and put up with the rest.  I love the COMPLETE Julia.  I don’t want to change these things about her, because if I did, then she wouldn’t be the same person.

In the grand scheme of things, these sort of things don’t really matter.  Now, if she had a habit of making fun of me behind my back to jewelry store clerks where she spent elaborate amounts of money we didn’t have and then lied to me about the purchases…THEN I would be pretty upset.  But, if the extent of her foibles center around issues like not liking to eat leftovers…I can just LOL about it.

My advice to you…don’t sweat the little things.  Try to keep things in perspective.  I’m sure there are probably habits that annoy you about your spouse.  But, take it in stride.  Remember what is important in life.  Love them for who they are, not in spite of things they do.

Don’t forget to tell her why she is great

One way people receive love is through words of affirmation.  (See previous post for thoughts on love languages).  What this means is telling someone something good about them through words…either spoken or written.  It’s always nice for someone to hear that they are loved, that they are special, that they are attractive, or that something they did was appreciated.  For someone who responds to and needs words of affirmation, you can never tell them these things too much.

photo 2Julia loves receiving words of affirmation, so I do my best to try to love her in this way.  She pretty much ALWAYS looks great, so it can be easy for me to take it for granted.  I try to remember to tell her so whenever I think of it.  But, as nice as looking good is…it really is minor in importance in comparison to other things.  So, I try to share things I think about her that are positive…affirming how good of a mom she is, telling her how proud I am of how she’s able to help other people, telling her how impressed I am when she has a great day at the gym or tennis, etc.  In addition to telling her with words, I like to send her texts or emails when I think of it.  I also love to leave notes around the house where she’ll find them.

photo 1My favorite was one day when I wrote out 40 different reasons why I loved her on small notes and hid them around the house.  I think there are still a few she hasn’t found yet.  I think it’s funny because when I leave notes around, my intention is just for her to see them that day, but then she ends up leaving them up for 6 months or so, because she doesn’t want to throw them away.  So, she ends up getting to see them a lot!

If words of affirmation are an important way that your wife receives love, make sure you’re doing what you can to fill her up in this way.  Here are some ideas:

  • Tell her when she looks good
  • Tell her when she has done something impressive
  • Thank her when she does something for you that you appreciate
  • Tell her how valuable she is and what a difference she makes in your or someone else’s life
  • Leave a note of something good where she will find it (or 20!)
  • Send her an email or a text message of something positive
  • Write her a handwritten letter and mail it

My challenge to you:
Evaluate how well you’re loving your wife in this area.  Regardless of what you currently do, think of some ways you can improve…and get at it!

How to be fluent in gift giving

iStock_000014778365XSmallGift giving is one way some people receive love.  (See previous post for thoughts on love languages)  It can be something that is purchased or made that shows that you thought of them.  It doesn’t have to be huge or fancy, but should show there was a cost involved.  The cost could be monetary or in time or creativity.  And it should be something that the other person appreciates.

For me, gifts from my wife aren’t a huge deal.  My usual initial reaction is to think, “how are we paying for this?” which can put a damper on my joy unfortunately.  Julia feels love in a big way when she receives gifts though.  It shows her that I was thinking of her and she is THAT important to me to be worth the time, money, and effort it cost.  Because of this I try to give them whenever possible.  Ironically, I usually don’t enjoy giving presents as much on Christmas, her birthday, Valentine’s Day, or our anniversary.  I like to give them on random days just for fun.  That way, she knows I was thinking of her, not just following what “society” told me I needed to do.  A while back, I planned a whole week of presents and gave her one each morning as a surprise.  It was SO much fun.

If your wife receives love in this way, make sure you’re giving her gifts on a regular basis.  Here are some ideas…

  • Flowers (always a good idea)
  • Candy (or some sort of food she likes)
  • Framed picture (of you two or of the family)
  • A DVD she likes
  • Clothes you think she’ll like (with a return receipt just in case)
  • Gift card to a store / restaurant she likes
  • Vacation (my favorite gift to Julia ever was a trip to Italy…I told her 3 days before we left)
  • Household decoration (accent pillow, wall hanging, decorative vase, etc…something you think she’ll like…with a return receipt)
  • Utilitarian item that she has wanted (blender, cooking items, dustbuster, etc…something she has expressed a desire for)
  • A card that you made
  • Starbucks coffee

Any of these, if given in a way that shows you were thinking of her will help her to feel loved.  So, figure out what she likes and do it!

My wife and I don’t speak the same language

1795661_10152247839449328_821025760_nBack in 1995, Gary Chapman authored a book called The 5 Love Languages.  This book and the concepts it talks about quickly became a staple for christian married couples everywhere.  The idea is a simple one…in the same way that people have different personalities, interests, and preferences, people also experience love in different ways.  Just because you feel loved from certain things doesn’t mean your wife will feel the same.  Chapman breaks this down into five different “love languages”: Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

This concept has been one of the most important to me in figuring out how to love Julia.  Personally, I feel loved by acts of service and physical touch.  Because that’s what I love, by default I tend to do the same for her…since that’s what I think about and what I know best.  I didn’t know when we were first married, but ironically, Julia feels love most by gifts, quality time, and words of affirmation…which is the opposite of me.  Now, that doesn’t mean she DISLIKES the things I do, but all things being equal, the time and effort I was putting into trying to show her love were GOOD but not the BEST.  After I learned this, I tried to go out of my way to show love to her the way she likes best.

The way I see it is…if I’m not aware of how Julia receives love best, and if I don’t do my best to meet those needs for her, I am not really loving her.  Guys, this is a no brainer…make sure to learn this about your wife.  And however she receives love best, MAKE SURE to keep it in mind and feed her in that way.  You can’t just fall back on…”women like flowers” and stick with that.  If she doesn’t feel loved by gifts, it may not really be helping her feel loved.  Or, if the main way you try to show her love is telling her she looks nice…but words of affirmation isn’t high on her list, you might be missing out on what she really needs.

My challenge to you:

If you and your wife have not discussed or looked into this concept before, I strongly encourage you to.  Reading the book together is a great way to do it.  If you don’t want to buy it, try borrowing from a friend.  Or, if you’re not the book reading type of guys, try going to their website www.5lovelanguages.com where you can take a easy online  assessment to help you figure out what your love language is.  Once you are your wife have been able to either read the book, or go online…talk about what you discovered.  It is SO important to understand what your wife needs, and this is a great and VERY EASY step to help discover it.

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4 reasons it matters what type of husband you are

As I’ve been blogging each week, I try to keep in mind WHY all of this matters.  Sure, being a good husband is noble and a good goal, but is it really that important?  YES, and here are 4 reasons why.

Wedding_rings1.  You are the only husband your wife has:

Your wife has needs.  A need to be loved, appreciated, and cherished.  She needs to feel secure.  She needs to know who you are and for you to have an emotional connection.  She needs to be fulfilled sexually, and she needs someone to be there for her and listen to her.  Most of these needs can ONLY be met by YOU!  If you’re too busy with work, friends, sports, or tv, then you will not have time to invest in her.  If you don’t help fulfill these needs as her husband, you are undermining her ability to reach her full potential as a woman, a mother, and as a child of God.  And if you don’t step up in your role…there is a good possibility that another man may come in to take your spot.

Ephesians-4-2-5-web-nlt2.  God Tells You To:

– Ephesians 5:25 – “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”
– Colossians 3:9 – “Husbands love your wives, and do not be harsh with them”
– Ephesians 5:28 – “…husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies.  He who loves his wife, loves himself.”

The Bible is very clear about how you should treat your wife.  Love her.  Put her desires above yours.  Don’t be harsh with her.  Be a leader, but not in a demanding way…in a way that is worthy of respect.  If God calls us to this role, then we should do whatever we can to fulfill it.

1923564558_13889341003.  Your Kids are Watching:

Good or bad, our kids will learn from the example we set.  Sure, everyone is different, and it is possible for good people to come from a bad childhood and vice versa, but on the whole, MOST kids will develop a lot of the traits and habits their parents model.  You have the opportunity to not just try to be the best husband YOU can be, but to also help raise your kids to do the same when they grow up.  I laugh at all the silly and crazy traits I see in Eli that I know he gets from me.  I love it, but it’s a sobering reminder that I need to be aware of everything I do and say.

f404ba92b2450140a6500c5320fc35994.  Other People are Watching:

Yes, your kids will learn from the example you set, and so will other men and women.  The more you try to make positive changes in your life, the more others will see and learn from the actions you take too.

A gift that you (and only you) can give to make your wife feel loved

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Women like to be given gifts, and there is something you can give your wife that no one else can.  No, I’m not talking about something you can give her in the bedroom. 😉  I’m talking about something special that will make her feel loved that is unique to you.  I can’t suggest that you take her up in a biplane for a sunset flight because few men can do that.  I can’t suggest that you tap dance your wedding vows in morse code because few men can do that.  So here is what I AM going to suggest…

Use the talents and skills God has given you to love your wive in a unique and memorable way.

I have a couple of talents that I feel are somewhat unique, and I LOVE using them to do things for Julia.  One is music.  I love singing and playing guitar, and every once in a while I’ll get inspired to write something for her, record it, and even make a video out of it.  One of my favorites is the power ballad My Snuggs that I wrote a couple years ago for Valentine’s Day.  Just recently, I recorded Julia is Awesome (based on the Lego Movie theme).  And last year, when Julia was gone at student ministry camp for a week, Eli and I did Mommy, I Love You with him at lead vocals.

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Another thing I like to do is build things (climbing wall, window reading nook, indoor playground, etc).  My craftsmanship isn’t particularly amazing, but I enjoy the creative challenge.  So, for a present, I built some wooden display cases for a rock collection she has.

I believe these things have helped her to know that I love her for a couple reasons.

1.  They took thought, which shows that I really wanted to do something for her, and I had to put some creative effort into coming up with it.
2.  They took time.  It wasn’t something that I just threw together in a couple minutes, which shows that she was WORTH the time and effort to me.

Not everyone can write songs or build things,  BUT everyone has SOME sort of talent…something that sets them apart and makes them unique.  Think about what talents and skills you have and come up with a way to use them to make your wife feel loved and appreciated.  Here are some ideas:

  • Photography – use pictures you’ve taken (either of her and your family or of an artistic nature) and print and frame them to give to her as a present
  • Music – write, sing, or record a song for her
  • Art – draw, paint, or sketch something for her
  • Writing – write a story for her
  • Video – make a video of something that shows that you were thinking about her
  • Construction / Woodwork – build her something that she would like
  • Connections with people – use a connection you have to arrange some sort of creative date that you wouldn’t normally be able to do
  • Sports – find a sport/activity SHE likes (or would like) that you haven’t tried and give it a shot WITH her.  Something like dancing, running, zumba, yoga, tennis, etc.
  • Cooking – take a week and plan, shop, and cook all the meals…maybe trying some new recipes you think she will like
  • Computer skills – Spend some time helping her with the computer (lessons, cleaning up clutter, etc)
  • Encouraging – focus on something difficult your wife is going through and make a point to regularly follow up and encourage her in it

This is just a very small list from tons of possibilities that are out there.  Everyone has things they do well.  So, think about what yours are, and USE THEM to love your wife!