4 Areas You and Your Wife Need to Be on the Same Page

Every marriage has understood rules that are followed that can either make or break a relationship.

In looking back on the past 15 years of our marriage, there are some simple things we’ve done that I think can be credited to our marital success.  These are things that have been seemingly unspoken rules that we follow in our relationship.

However, although we’ve never verbally established these practices, I believe that they are well worth every couple taking the time to discuss together and establish if they’re lacking in their relationship.

Here are four areas you and your wife should be on the same page:

1. Touching throughout the day

I suppose it started when we first got married, that every time we drove together in the car, prayed together at the dinner table, or walked together through a store, we would hold hands.  Since that time, we continue to make it a regular practice that when we’re together, we make physical touch a frequent and familiar part of our daily routine.

2. Spending money wisely

Although one of us is naturally the “spender” and the other the “saver”, we’ve had very few fights over the years about money.

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5 Things Your Wife Needs Most

When my wife and I first got married, I was convinced that I knew how to be a great husband.  However, it didn’t take long to see that I still had a lot to learn about caring for this beautiful lady I had chosen to be my wife.

Now that we’ve been married for over 15 years, I can honestly say that a good amount of our growth can be credited to the fact that we’ve learned that the other spouse’s needs are quite often different than our own. We’ve found that when we fail to realize what our spouse needs most, it can lead to unnecessary friction, frustration, and even resentment in our hearts towards one another.

As men, we are wired with different needs than your wife.  While there could be many things included in this list of what women need, here are five of the top things I’ve learned that my wife needs most.

1. Sleep.

While the average person needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night to function at peak performance, women are naturally drawn towards needing more sleep than men. Many days, my wife will go to sleep before me, and also wake up after me the next morning, and guess what… it’s okay.

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Why I Recently Had to Apologize to My 14 Year Old Son

When a parent should apologize to their child

Have you ever had one of those moments in your marriage where a fuse burns out, and you’re left with an unexpected situation on your hands of two people who just simply don’t see eye to eye?

Thankfully, this kind of occurrence is rare in our marriage, but nonetheless, on this day recently, it still occurred.

You see, there had been a meltdown in communication about a small detail of our family’s day, and that one small miscommunication snowballed into many other problems and emotions that followed.  And when it was all said and done, my wife and I found ourselves in the living room of our house, throwing insults at each other in an uncommon explosion of built up emotions.

In the course of that conversation, my wife told me something that I completely disagreed with, and I responded by forcefully saying, “Go away, I don’t even want to see you or talk to you right now. Just go away.”

While I knew that I was in no right frame of mind to keep talking at that moment, I also knew that the way that I had just handled myself was very foolish, selfish, and even disrespectful towards my wife.

To compound the problem, here are a couple of other details of the situation that day to consider:

  1. While this was happening in our living room, we currently had invited company over for lunch, and they were in the kitchen sitting at our table eating without us. (and sadly, probably overhearing us at the same time… Have you ever tried to yell at someone with a strong whisper? It doesn’t work out too well.)
  2. My wife was in a wheelchair do to a recent foot surgery she had, and so had very limited mobility to ‘go away’, even if she wanted to.
  3. As soon as I said those words, I turned around to see my 14 year old son sitting on the living room recliner behind me as I was having this heated conversation with my wife.

While all three of those things complicated our problem that day, the one that bothered me most was the fact that I had just disrespected my wife, and my son’s mother, right in front of his eyes and ears.

I’m sure you can understand my situation… For the last 14 years I have been intentionally teaching and training this boy of the importance of respecting girls and women in every circumstance, and had even recently corrected him for disrespecting his sister.  And in the heat of that moment, I had just undercut everything I had ever taught him… by my own bad example.

Needless to say, my heart immediately sank. I knew that I had blown it, and I had blown it bad.

In the hours that followed, I wrestled with what to do, both in response to my wife and to my son (not to mention our company still sitting in the other room).  I really felt like even though my reaction was wrong, I was still in the right.  But I quickly realized that none of that really mattered.

I knew that there was only one right thing to do – man up, swallow my pride, and ask for forgiveness.  And that’s exactly what I did. After calling my son into the kitchen later that day, I apologized to him in front of his mother for the disrespectful way that I had handled myself and treated her.  I explained to him that I was wrong. I was ashamed. I was sorry.  And that there was no excuse for my actions.

While I don’t know if my son will ever forget that day and what happened, what I do hope and pray that he never forgets is that a real man is able to admit when he’s wrong, make things right, and ask for forgiveness.

I’m the one who set the wrong example, and hopefully, I’m also the one who set it right.

Do you ever find yourself hesitant to apologize when you know you’re in the wrong?  Remember, your kids are watching you, and counting on you to get this right.

So… when should a parent apologize to their child?…

“When you’re in the wrong, and your child knows you’re in the wrong, you can’t afford to make the wrong decision.  Apologize.”

Who do you need to apologize to in your family?

Mom & Dad, You Need A Break!

Ideas for how to implement down time into your schedule

Parenting is one the most rigorous jobs on the planet… just ask any mom with young kids.

It can flat wear you out.

In order to be at our best for our little angels, sometimes it simply means getting some time away from them and their golden halos.

We all need some time to recharge, refresh, and then get back into the game revitalized for the mission. But how do we do it? 

Well, it doesn’t happen by accident, so here are some intentional ideas that you can put to work in your family to make sure you get a needed break every now and then:

  1. Schedule It… It’s often true that what gets scheduled gets done.  So put time away on your weekly calendar, even if its just for a few hours.  If you’d like to see how my wife and I have incorporated time away on a weekly basis, I’d encourage you to check out my Free Intentional Family Game Plan.
  2. Do a ‘Kid Swap’… This is as simple as finding another family with kids of similar ages who would agree to watching your kids on a night while you go out, and you returning the favor for them on a different night while they go out.  Your kids will love the time with their friends, and you’ll save yourself the cost of a babysitter. Chances are, there are other couples out there with kids just like you who are needing to have some down time as well.  
  3. Hire a babysitter… I’d guess that there are some responsible and charactered teens or college students in your church that would love to make a few extra buck on a regular basis, while at the same time having a positive influence on your kids.  Years ago, we set up an ongoing scheduled night with a teenager when they would plan to watch our kids so we could go out, and it worked out great for both us and them.  
  4. Put the kids to bed early… (or maybe just ‘on time’) With school back in full swing, your kids need to be getting to bed earlier anyway.  So set aside some quality time at the end of the day for you and your spouse to connect.  I’m not referring to time spent side by side on the couch scrolling through your phones, but enjoyable time intentionally spent together.
  5. ‘Mom’s Only’… Dad’s, let’s admit it, mom usually needs the time away from the kids more than we do, especially if she stays at home with them all day.  Take initiative and give her permission to go out by herself or with her friends ‘kid-free’ from time to time.  Maybe even give her a few bucks to make her time away even more enjoyable.  Happy wife, happy life, right? Lol.
  6. Quit making excuses… Let’s face it, if we don’t make it happen, it won’t, and we’ll continue living day to day on the last thread that’s about to snap.  So stop coming up with excuses for why you can never get away to spend time alone.  Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed to take some time for yourself.

Parenting by nature is one of the most selfless jobs in the world that can simply drain your tank to empty fast.  So you need to spend some time refueling yourself every now and then.

Also, don’t hesitate to offer to take someone else’s kids when you see that they need a break.  We’ve had friends do that for us, and it’s been a huge blessing.  You could be someone else’s blessing by doing the same, whether it be for your pastor, a friend, or anyone else.

Feel free to share these ideas. What are some ideas that you’ve found successful to finding time to get away and take a break from your little angels?  I’d love to hear yours! 

My Wife Corrected Me… And She Was Right

The importance of an "open-heart" policy in your marriage

Since the day we were married, my wife and I have had an “open heart” policy – a mutual understanding that we are each allowed to speak honestly and openly into the heart and life of the other when we have a concern or an issue.

Wife Corrected Me

Sometimes it may be some sort of constructive criticism. Other times it could be to clear up misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or to address family conflict.

These conversations are not always enjoyable, but, like any couple, we have found that in order to maintain growth and continued improvement in our marriage, they are often necessary.

Recently my wife lovingly corrected me, and while I cringed to hear what she had to say, I couldn’t help but agree with her after she shared her heart, because she was completely right.

Her concern?… That it always seemed that I was “working” on my day off.

No, I wasn’t going in to the office, and I wasn’t even doing work-related stuff, but I was filling up my day off with my own tasks and to-do’s.  Unfortunately to the point that to my family, I might as well have been at work.

She felt that it was my day off for me, but not my day off for my family… Ouch!

SO… WHAT WAS HAPPENING?

My wife graciously expressed her desire for my day off to be more about prioritizing time spent with her and the kids by doing things that mattered to them, more than prioritizing getting my to-do list done. And I have to admit, I was guilty as charged.

I’m a to-do list kind of guy every day of the week, and so without even fully realizing it, I had slipped into the bad habit of getting tunnel-visioned and doing the same thing on my day off – focusing on myself and the list of things I needed to get done.

Sadly, my day off wasn’t feeling like a day off for my family.

“Remember, your day off doesn’t just belong to you, it belongs to your family as well.”

I needed to be reminded of some things:

  • Playing together in the yard is more important than making sure the yard gets mowed.
  • Making “small adventure” memories as a family will be far more lasting than making sure all my small errands get run.
  • Taking time to prioritize what my family wants to do before prioritizing what I need to get done is something I’ll not one day regret.

I often have to be reminded of this valuable principle… “Don’t sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent.”

There will always be “urgent” things that seem to demand our attention – the grass will always need mowed, the errands will always need ran, and the to-do list will always be full.  So we can’t let those things steal from us the most important things in life before they’re gone.

While all of those “urgent” things will still need to be done, it’s important that our family always knows that they come first.  And if anything has to go undone, let’s make sure that it’s the urgent things, and not the most important things.

Make sure to put the big rocks in your life jar first, then fill it up with all the small ones.   Your family deserves to be one of your most important priorities.

SO… MY WIFE CORRECTED ME… AND SHE WAS RIGHT, I WAS WRONG (yes, I just said those three dreaded words).

I’m sure thankful for a godly spouse who cares for me enough to lovingly tell me how it is when I need to hear it, and to help me see my blind spots. Our family will be the better for it.

Do you have an “open heart” policy in your marriage? If not, why not establish one, for the sake of your marriage and your family?

Remember, the next time your spouse comes to you with a concern, be open-minded, be teachable.

Because let’s face it, if you were willing to commit your entire life to this person who cares about you more than any other human alive, don’t you think that what they have to speak into your life is probably worth hearing?

Believe it or not, whatever it is they have to say… they might just be right.

If you agree, please share!  I’d also love to hear your thoughts.

Do Your Kids Know That You’re TOGETHER FOREVER?

Why Your Kids Need To Know You’re In It For The Long Haul

Chew on this thought for a moment… If your child was asked this question, how do you think they’d respond?

Together Forever

“Do you think that your mom and dad will stay together forever, no matter what?”

Sadly, in today’s culture, many kids are being raised without the confidence of knowing that mom and dad are in it for the long haul.  In fact, many of them can only hope and pray from day to day that their parents relationship will stay solid.

Amidst the loud voices of fighting, threats, and put downs, it’s often hard for them to know what the future holds in their family.  As we know, this is not God’s intended plan for any child or any family.

What every kid wants, needs, and deserves is a family, and specifically parents, that stay together through thick and thin.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and divorce happens, even in Christian homes.  And if it’s happened in yours, don’t allow that to keep your current marriage from being all that God intends it to be.  What’s in the past is in the past, and it’s just as important now that you strive to make the marriage you’re in successful for the long haul.

In our family growing up, there were some definite rough patches when mom and dad could have given up on each other or on the family, but I’m thankful that they never did, no matter how hard things got.  I can honestly look back and say, that in my mind as a child, even when I knew things were bad, I never even considered the possibility that one of my parents would quit on each other, and even now, I’m very thankful for that.

“Of all the things in life that are uncertain for a child, family should never be one of them.”

Parents are the cornerstone of the home.  And home is to be the safe place for every child – the one place in life that they know they can count on to be solid no matter what.  Every child in the world deserves the right to know that mom and dad are together forever.  (Yes, I know that’s “perfect world” thinking, but it’s true.)

When kids have the reassurance that mom and dad are together forever, it provides these things:

1.  STABILITY IN THE HOME

Very simply, a child who is raised with stability in the home has an easier time growing up with stability in their life.

According to statistics from Child Trends – The number and type of parents in the household, as well as the relationship between the parents, are consistently linked to a child’s well-being.  Among young children, those living with no biological parents, or in single parent households are less likely than children with two biological parents to exhibit behavioral self-control, and more likely to be exposed to high levels of aggravated parenting, than are children living with two biological parents.  Children living with two married adults (biological or adoptive parents) have, in general,  better health… and fewer emotional or behavioral problems than children living in other types of families.

Among children in two-parent families, those living with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage tend to do better on a host of outcomes than those living in step parent families.  Outcomes for children in step parents families are in many cases similar to those for children growing up in single parent families.  Children whose parents are divorced have lower academic performance, social achievement, and psychological adjustment than children with married parents.

Bottom line – committed marriage relationships produce stability on all levels in children’s lives.

When kids know mom and dad are together forever, it also provides…

2.  AN EXAMPLE OF BIBLICAL MARRIAGE

God created marriage for keeps – one man, one woman, for one lifetime.  And not just for the benefit of the husband and wife, but for the benefit of the children as well.  Kids need to know that regardless of what happens, good or bad, mom and dad are committed to each other for life.

Kids also need to see and understand that their parents are committed to doing things God’s way, because when they don’t, the consequences can be devastating.

It’s no secret that children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced, says Christina Steinorth, author of “Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships.”  According to Steinorth, studies indicate that daughters of divorced parents have a 60% higher divorce rate in marriages than children of non-divorced parents, and sons have a 35% higher divorce rate.  “Part of the reason is that when parents are divorced, it seems to send a message in a non-direct way that divorce is acceptable”, she says.

What our kids need to see is an example of biblical marriage done God’s way.

3.  A PATTERN WORTH FOLLOWING

The benefits of children being raised in a home with parents in a committed marital relationship are many, but one of the greatest benefits is that they are more likely to follow the pattern set for them by their parents and have a successful marriage themselves.

Consider these statistics…

Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, and are less likely to be physically or sexually abused.  They are also less likely to use drugs or alcohol and to commit delinquent behaviors, and they have a decreased risk of divorcing when they get married. (foryourmarriage.org)

No doubt, many of these benefits are the natural result of kids having a positive pattern worth following as the grow up, including a pattern for a committed marriage relationship.

Parents, whether or not you stay together both while your kids are in your home as well as after they leave impacts your children immensely.

If you can’t remember the last time you’ve verbally reassured your kids of your life-long love for and commitment to one another, maybe it’s about time.

Your kids need to know that you are TOGETHER FOREVER.

Do they?

The #1 Way to Guarantee Your Kids Will Have a Successful Marriage

More than ever before, we have a generation of kids who desperately need to see a mom and dad who are fully committed and genuinely in love with each other.

And even more than just seeing it somewhere, they need to be able to experience seeing it displayed in their own home on a regular ongoing basis.

As parents, one of our God-given jobs is to make marriage look good in front of our kids by exemplifying something in our relationship that is desirable.

Let me ask you today…

                Is your marriage something to be desired by your kids?  

Do they look at what you and your spouse have and anticipate marriage in their future, or drudge it?  If your kids were asked to describe your relationship, how would they answer?  Because they are watching and paying attention, you know.

To this day, I can remember both the times growing up when Mom and Dad were obviously in love and also the times when I wasn’t so sure.  But thankfully, the first set of times far outweighed the latter.  However, what I can’t help but realize is that although  inadvertently at the time, I was taking mental notes on how marriage and family life operates.

This has caused me to be even more conscious of how my wife and I interact with each other in front of our kids.  I want for my children to have grown up in a home where it was just normal to see their parents getting along, holding hands, kissing each other, and working together as the best two-person team in the world.

Note these few ways that you can pave the way for success in your children’s future marriages by how you conduct your own in front of them.

1.  NEVER FIGHT in front of your kids.

This is a tough one to live by, and I can’t say that we’ve always followed it, but we try.  On the few occasions that I can remember us fighting in front of our kids, it’s been obvious that it caused tension not only for us, but in our children as well.  It puts an unnecessary strain upon our family that our children especially should never have to experience.

It doesn’t matter what the issue at hand is, for the sake of our kids, mom and dad can wait to discuss certain things when the little ones aren’t around.  Nothing can replace giving your kids the gift of living in a peaceful home.

2.  GET PHYSICAL in front of your kids.

Yes, you heard me right!  Obviously, there have got to be some limits here, but your kids need to see mom and dad touching, hugging, and kissing each other on a regular basis.

If we teach our kids for years that they can’t do all this long list of stuff until they’re married, then let’s paint marriage in the positive light that it is for how wonderful it can be when when it’s done right.  Marriage is meant to be fun, and our kids should be able to see that!

Sadly, most kids today see more inappropriate physical affection out in the world than they do appropriate, God-honoring physical affection in the home between mom and dad.  As parents, we have the opportunity to set the stage and paint the right perspective for our kids.

In addition to giving your spouse physical affection, make sure you’re giving your kids their needed regular doses as well.  Chances are, they need more of it than you’re giving.  Don’t make is something that they have to work for.

3.  SERVE GOD in front of your kids.

While the first two are vital, this point is critically important, and can make the difference between raising good kids or godly kids.

Someone once said it this way, “Kids are great imitators.  So give them something great to imitate.”

Our children will learn how to serve God by watching us serve God.  Based on that, are they going to learn how to serve through the lens of legalism or grace… a service done out of duty or a service done out of desire?  Will they see that we have a separate spiritual life and normal daily life, or will the two be inseparable?

It’s a wonderful thing when your kids catch you reading your Bible or walk in on you while your down on your knees praying.  It’s a wonderful thing when they see your walk with God in action. It’s an even better thing when they get to be a part of serving God together with you.

Marriage is hard work and sometimes a bit messy, but that should never keep us from being able to provide our children with the greatest example that we possibly can of what a Biblical marriage looks like!

While there’s no 100% money back guarantee that your kids will have a successful marriage someday, I think that these three things can certainly help steer you in the right direction.

So, what is the #1 best way to guarantee that your children will have a successful marriage someday?  Simply put…  Model One For Them!

Make Marriage Look Good by visualizing for your kids the type of marriage they’ll want to have someday for themselves – two people committed to and enjoying one life together… forever.

Now, that’s something desirable!