Want a happy wife?
I have been a married man for over 42 years and after all that time, I still do not pretend that I understand how complex my wife is. While there are several excellent books on the topic, I will mention three that will give guys some tools to help make their wives and girlfriends happier.
At the risk of failing to sounding simplistic, I think we guys do a better job in our relationship if we treat them more like a job. A left brain, task oriented, outcomes based approach.
Here we go.
First-Make Marriage Your Job - Here is the Job Description
If building your marriage is your job, what are the expectations for the company?
To Love, Honor, and Respect Her.
From these core values based in the Word and the vows that most of us shared in our weddings come all things good in a marriage.
To Be Sexually and Emotionally Faithful.
No one issue better defines marriage than the promise of sexual fidelity, and I believe that all men know this.
To Listen Without Being Judgmental.
Since 95 percent of all Nobel prizes go to men, you’ve got to believe that men know how to solve problems. The problem is that your wife may not need you to solve her problems; sometimes she just needs to know that you are there by her side.
To Support and Nurture Her Ambitions in and Outside the Home.
Roles are changing, and that is not a bad thing. More men than women work outside the home, but due, in part to the economy, more and more women are either entering or re-entering the workplace or are starting home-based businesses. As your children grow and, opportunities open up for your wife to pursue her pen dreams, will you be there to support her.
Thank you to Scott Haltzman, M.D., and his excellent ideas from The Secrets of Happily Married Men. This article is adapted from that resource. Another couple of resources I like is For Men Only and For Women Only by Shauti & Jeff Feldhahn
Doesn’t that salad look good?
Last year I had the fortune of traveling to Marseille, France to work with some friends who are connected to a group that helps people who are relocating.
One night they took me to a local restaurant, La Crepe Au Carre', my friend said, “You have to eat this salad, it will change your life.” His comment threw me off a little because, I thought you go to a crepe place to eat crepes. He insisted that I try this salad, and I did.
Take a look at my image of it. It is a toasted brie and almond topped salad made with fresh, local greens, and local cheese. The dressing was reduced balsamic vinegar with a hint of strawberry. As the waiter placed the salad in front of me, a warm, sweet, aromatics of the dressing, the toasted cheese and almonds stimulated both my imagination and my appetite. As one of my old Georgia friends would say, "That looks almost to eat pretty.
Well, I ate it. And I consumed that delicious blend of cheese, nuts, and greens in a slow, deliberate manner. I felt like I had a Mardi Gras in my mouth. My friend's words were true; it did change my life. That wonderful evening of food and fellowship, a time of savoring food, and hearing about the work that God is doing in people's lives never gets old.
To savor something is to taste or smell it. It means to linger over or dwell on.
Having traveled a little bit in Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and France I get a little frustrated at how fast we live our lives in America. Fast food, constant connectivity, speed dating, always rushing. While I would never trade off the blessings of living in this great country, I am reminded, at least when I travel that there are times that we need to slow down. Times when we need to break bread with friends and family. Times when we can intentionally savor our relationship, our blessings, and yes, delicious food.
One of the easiest tools we use as we continue to look at ways to regain our vision and overcome depression is to savor pleasant memories; past answers to prayer; a meaningful Scripture verse; and positive, meaningful words spoken to you. When we purposely reflect and meditate on these types of good, positive things, our brains begin to move toward health.
Take a few moments and think about it.
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“Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done…” are words from a hymn I remember from my childhood while attending the First Baptist Church of Fort Valley. It is an old song with modern psychological and spiritual implications.
G.K Chesterton said, "Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
“Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted–a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner
Gratitude makes your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event. In addition, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them.
An exercise called the Gratitude Visit will help you experience relief from depression.
Close your eyes. Imagine the face of someone still alive who did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Got a face?
Your task is to write a letter (handwritten) to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words; be specific about what they did for you and how it affected your life.
Once you have completed the letter, call the person and let them know that you would like to visit them, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting. This type of exercise is more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet with the individual, take your time reading your letter. Notice their reactions as well as yours. If they interrupt you, gently tell them that you want them to listen until you are done. I promise you that you and the recipient will be much happier and less depressed.
Of course, if you cannot hand deliver the note, mail it, but follow up with a call.
Added Monday morning
My pastor, Todd Cook, Senior Pastor of Sagebrush Church in Albuquerque, shared a message Sunday on Psalm 90. One of the quotes I took away was, "If God leads you to it, he will lead you through it. Here is a link to the message, Boom Box if you want to hear it all. It was timely. Warning: this my be a little "out of the box" for you.
You can find this and more tips in my book Get a Grip on Depression. Obtain a personally autographed copy from me. In Albuquerque, you may pick up a copy at the Sagebrush Church bookstore, or order a copy through Amazon/Kindle.
Marriage and serious relationships are some of the toughest endeavors that any two humans can engage. When a couple begins their journey they are fueled with hopes and dreams, but within the first year those hopes can sometime lead to despair and dreams to nightmares.. Here are six hot tips that can keep you moving forward.
Tip One – Watch out for Anger
Anger, hurt, frustration, and disappointment can stifle a relationship. Here are three things couple can do to lower anger, frustration.
1. Don’t let you negative feeling grow with interest. Express your hurt, fear or frustration as soon as you are aware of it.
2. If you decide to tell your spouse be sure to share in the language style of your partner.If they are brief in their communication (a condenser) in their style, keep it brief.
3. Don’t give ultimatums during your talks. Even if one is to be given, this is not the time of the time or the place, and it reflects control or power struggle. Rarely does it work.
Tip Two – Four Ways to Get Closer to Your Partner
1. Forgive each other for something that you’ve held on to.
2. Give up one habit that drives your partner bonkers.
3 Be generous and grateful.
4. Have Fun Together.
Tip Three – 7 Things Women and Men can do for each other.
1. See each other as allies, not enemies.
2. Appreciate each other’s power without being threatened with it.
3. Value and nurture each other.
4. Stop seeing each other as stereotypes.
5. Celebrate the differences and enjoy the commonalities.
6. Realize everybody had wounds.
7. Be there for each other.
Tip Four – Hints for a fun Special Days
1. Devote 100% of yourself to each other on those special days.
2. Rent a Honeymoon Suite at a local hotel for things like anniversaries, birthdays and Valentine.
3. Take a day off from work and enjoy each other.
4. Buy some cards or postcards and flood your spouse with them.
5. Bake or buy some heart shaped cookies.
Guys, flowers and chocolate can really help.
Girls, when he comes home from work on those special days greet him wearing something red or black like ribbons in your hair.
Tip Five - FOR GUYS – If your marriage seems a little dull, perhaps it’s you! Maybe you’re stuck in your routine. Maybe you’re too predictable. Shock you wife! Be unusually creative and totally unpredictable.
John is a Licensed Professional Counselor, with over thirty-five years of counseling experience. He has also been married to his first wife for 42 years. If you need help getting your relationship back on tract contact him today. John provides traditional counseling in an office setting as well as over the phone, and through SKYPE or FACETIME.
© 2014 John Thurman
Sex Begins in the Kitchen is a fun and informative book that my friend Dr. Kevin Leman wrote several years ago. His second book on marital intimacy is called Sheet Music. Both of which are still in print. I encourage couples to add these books to their reading list. Kevin has an uncanny ability to communicate in a clear and fun way about crucial things. Years ago he and I shared the microphone on national radio show called Parent Talk. It seemed that whenever he and I were on the show the topic of sexuality came up.
I mention that because physical intimacy consistently stays in the “Top 5,” concerns of marital conflict.
As you and I continue to move through Shades of Love, I want to give you some tips that will improve physical intimacy. "Quantity" is the most frequent complaint that counselors hear. Unfortunately, couples often define their physical relationship in terms of "the count." How often do we have it? How many times did one or the other reach orgasm? How much foreplay was there? How long did it last?"
It's sad that we haven taken the beauty of lovemaking and reduced it to numbers. Some couples make it worse by attempting to negotiate the numbers, comparing their numbers with the "average couple," whatever that is, or agreeing to trade physical intimacy for help with cleaning the dishes.
Here are some proven tips to improve your intimacy:
1. Add some variety to your lovemaking. Some of us are too restrictive. Change the locations, times of day, or the lighting. Try some candles, new perfumes, or aftershaves. Put on some different music.
2. Vary your routine. I did a Google™ search on, "how many ways you can cook a potato", and the search came up with thirteen different ways. Amazing! If you can cook a potato that many different ways, you can be equally creative in finding ways to share physical intimacy with your partner. A nice full body massage is nice. And don't forget the shower.
3. Communicate more openly. Don't let intimacy become a guessing game. Two physically different individuals with unique personalities, life histories, backgrounds, preferences, and hangs ups must learn to talk openly about intimacy. Be careful about making assumptions. It is fine to have these conversations because communication will directly impact physical intimacy.
4. Increase the desire for physical intimacy. One of the easiest ways to enhance your passion towards your partner is to let your mind wander over pleasurable thoughts about them throughout the day.
Three tips for guys:
•Sex must become something you give to your wife and not something you take.
•You will improve your physical intimacy dramatically if you learn to give first to your wife emotionally.
•Increase your nonsexual touching. This means hugs, holding hands.
Have fun and be safe as you discover new ways to Cultivate Romance.
Want to read a great article about Marriage from a GenXer? follow this link to Relevant Magazine
You can also listen to a 29 min and 55 sec talk I did on Marriage - here is the link
I would love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas about cultivating the romance. Feel free to post your comments.
Shades of Grey or Shades of Love Part 2
“It is a luxury to be understood.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Building a relationship and being married is a team sport; you either win together or lose together.
One of the keys to building intimacy is communication. Two-way communication that is based on respect, honor, and grace is essential for two people sharing a life together.
Drs. David Olson and Peter Larson have invested their careers studying relationships. They have identified 10 Communication Skills that will enhance your intimacy.
1. Give full attention to your partner when talking. My wife gets very annoyed when I think I am listening, but am distracted. My suggestion turn off the phone, Ipad™, computer, or television and turn towards your partner.
2. Focus on the good qualities and be intentional about catching them doing good. People tend to rise or fall on our expectations, when you are intentional about finding the good in someone they rarely disappoint.
3. Be assertive, not aggressive or passive. Share your thoughts, feeling, and needs. One way to do this is to the old therapist standby of using "I" statements versus "you" statements. (e.g. “I worry when you don’t let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”)
4. Avoid criticism. It is a relationship killer. I think William Arthur Ward hit the nail on the head when he said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you.” You can never share too much encouragement.
5. If you must criticize, sandwich it with a least two positive comments. (e.g. "I appreciate it when you help out by cooking, the food is excellent. It would mean a lot to me if you could straighten up a little after you are done. Thanks again for dinner.)
6. Listen to understand, not to judge. Two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Listening is all about trying to understand.
7. Use active listening. Summarize your partner’s comments before sharing your own reactions of feelings.
8. Avoid blaming each other at all costs. Instead, work together for a solution. There is energy when we accept responsibility and decide to work towards a mutually beneficial solution.
9. Manage your conflict. (I will give you ten steps for resolving conflict in a few weeks.)
10. Seek counseling. If you are not able to have better results with your communication as a couple. Then take action. Enroll in marriage/relationship class, read a book together, see your pastor, priest, or get counseling if you need to.
One of the best ways to increase the frequency of physical intimacy is through reliable communication. When men and women feel heard, they usually are open to more intimacy.
Next week I will be writing about the five levels of intimacy.
To spice up your love life check out my talk on the 5 Phases of Marriage
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."