Keeping the Spark Alive

Hey all, welcome back! Today we are blessed to have a guest post from my favorite girl, the love of my life, Sally! I love how she looks back and then forward to show us all how to keep the spark of love alive!

-Troy

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Enter Sally:

What made you want to marry your spouse? Was it because you loved spending time with them? For me, I enjoyed every minute we were together. We talked and laughed and really connected. He was always trying to make me happy and vice versa.

When we first got married, we liked to play ping-pong, board games and watch movies.  As time went by, work and babies got in the way and we spent less and less time together. It was difficult going from all quality time to almost none. If you have read the Five Love Languages, you probably already have yours figured out. I had not yet read the book yet, but one of my main love languages was quality time. Most likely one person in every relationship has this as one of their languages. During the period of time when Troy was working 40 hours per week plus some evenings and I was home alone with a baby, we did not have much time together. Our quality time was down and our relationship suffered. We just weren’t feeling the love that we once had, even though we still loved each other. It was a difficult period. Once we read the book, The Five Love Languages, we realized what our issue was. Troy found a different job where he was able to be home every evening, and our quality time went up again.

Quality time doesn’t mean that you have to spend every minute together. It does mean though that the time you spend together should be more meaningful. We have learned over the years to try new things. Troy learned he could ride roller coasters if he took something for his motion sickness. I learned to get into the superhero movies. In fact, just this week we saw one that I would LOVE to see again.

When Troy started getting into running, I decided I better give it a try. Do I like it? No!  What I do like is the time I get to spend with him training. Being together is fun! I like the accomplishment of having finished a race. I like that we get to share more experiences together.  If he took up golf, I would try it too. I may be terrible at it, but I would do it just so I could spend more quality time with him. The point is, whatever your spouse enjoys doing, either find a way to join in or find a way to encourage them in their pursuits.  Whatever your spouse enjoys doing, find a way to join in or to encourage them in their pursuits. Click To TweetI have various crafty/artsy things I like to do. Troy isn’t really an artsy person, but he does like to go with me when I am hunting for specific supplies. He encourages my creativity and he also helps me when I need it.

It could be that your spouse has aspirations of owning their own business. There are many different types of them and some take more money to start than others. We spent three years building a business together. It was very successful for a while, but then it started to change and we felt God pulling us in a different direction. The best thing during the period when we were building our business was the time we spent together traveling in the car or on planes. We would visit new places and meet new people, together. It was wonderful! If I had decided that it was his job to take care of the business and stay home, I might have resented all the time he was away, even though he was doing it to try to help take care of our family and pay for college. Instead, I joined in and went with him. We had some of the best times of our lives and we grew together as a couple! Our kids were old enough to be home alone and did not need us at every event. If they hadn’t been, we would have found a way to take them with us or have them stay with some responsible family or friends. We actually did take our youngest with us on a trip to California and we all had fun.

Speaking of children, these days there are so many extra-curricular activities for kids to be involved in, from scouting or clubs to multiple sports. Over the years, our boys were involved in different things like a youth service club, music lessons, martial arts, soccer and baseball. I have had friends who made a ‘one sport per year, per kid’ rule, which I think is wise. I also have had friends whose children were involved in every sport, year round, some of which overlapped. Not only is this stressful on the kids to be constantly running from practices to games multiple nights per week, all year (even though they love the sports), it is also stressful for the parents. Working all day and then running all night is exhausting for anyone and it also prevents people from having quality time together, not to mention the financial strain of multiple sports.

I am not saying that letting your children be involved in sports is bad, but making that the center of your existence is not going to help your marriage or your child. One day your kids will grow up and move out, and it will happen faster than you think. Trust me on this… my youngest child is already married.  When this happens, you will wish you spent more time growing your relationship with your spouse than you spent sitting in the stands at every sporting event known to man.

When our kids moved out we missed them, but we were fine because we hadn’t put our relationship on hold for 20 years so that we could let our kids have every little experience that they wanted. They had plenty to do growing up, but we did not run from event to event wondering when we would finally have time for ourselves.

If you have already found yourself in the situation where you and your spouse are constantly going different directions and seem to have no connection, it isn’t too late. Schedule a time to sit down together and discuss ways you can change your routines to have more time together. My parents were not at all of my softball, volleyball or soccer games. They dropped me off and picked me up and went home to relax together. It did not make a lick of difference to me as I was just enjoying my time with friends. Your kids will not be crushed for life if you choose to have a date night while they are at one of their games.

Your kids will not be crushed for life if you have a date night and miss one of their games. Click To Tweet

Make time for your spouse. Find ways that you can join them in their passions even if you don’t really understand. You married them for better or for worse, to have and to hold from this day forward. This does not go on pause when you have children, you must find a way to stay connected!

Find a way to help your spouse enjoy today!

-Sally

Notes from the Father of the Groom

If you’ve been following the blog here you know that our youngest son was about to get married. Well, the blessed day arrived this past Saturday and it was a FANTASTIC occasion of love, family and friends. We could not be more happy for our wonderful son and beautiful daughter-in-law!! God was truly in this relationship from the beginning and He will remain faithful to them and all of us.

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As the Father of the Groom I didn’t have a lot of responsibilities, mostly jumping in where needed. But I do have a few thoughts…and they are applicable to all marriages.

Enjoy the Day…and the Rest of the Days

Some couples plan for their weddings in a few months and others plan for a year, two years or more. It’s an important event. It’s one of the most important events in a married couple’s lives. But it’s one day. Marriages don't succeed or fail based on whether or not they have a perfect wedding. Click To Tweet Marriages don’t succeed or fail based on whether or not they have a perfect wedding. Marriages depend on what happens every day. If you love your wife every day then your wedding day will be the first special day of your marriage, but it won’t necessarily be the most special. Build on the past and move forward together into the future.

Keep Your Vows

During the ceremony you made promises to your spouse. Perhaps your vows included to love, honor and cherish. This may be the most simple advice I can give. Keep your vows. When you learn she doesn’t like something that is important to you, keep your vows. When he STILL has that annoying habit five years later, keep your vows. When all you want to do is scream into your pillow because you just don’t understand what is going on, keep your vows. I promise you, I PROMISE you, if you’ll commit to keeping your vows every day that marriage gets easier over time. It gets better. You may think that the love you felt on your wedding day was incredible, but it’s nothing compared to the love of two people who keep their commitment no matter the circumstances.

Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!
Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose—
    don’t ever quit taking delight in her body.
    Never take her love for granted!

-Proverbs 5:18b-19 (MSG)

Embrace Change

As your marriage grows there will be change. Each of you will grow intellectually (assuming you continue to read), you will change physically, there may be children who come into your lives, you will develop passions in new areas and so will your spouse. These are beautiful things. You don’t want to have a stagnant life and marriage. As the changes come don’t just accept them, embrace them! Get excited to learn new things from and about each other. Lean in to the curves that show up in your marriage. Draw closer to each other as you plunge into your future together.

Trust God

If you remember nothing else from this post remember this. God is for your marriage. Click To Tweet God IS for your marriage! He wants it to be a shining example of His love flowing through the two of you. He know what He is doing and it’s all for your good. You will see challenges and difficulties. Being married doesn’t shield you from hardship, but it does give you someone with whom to share your tears. If your spouse loves you enough to commit to you for life, then how much more must God love you…He created you to live with Him for eternity. In the fun and excitement, stay close to God. In the times of trial, stay close to God. In all times stay close to God.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.

-Isaiah 12:2 (NIV)

So remember:

  • Enjoy the Day…and the Rest of the Days
  • Keep Your Vows
  • Embrace Change
  • Trust God

Love you all!

-Troy

All You Need for a Life Long Marriage

In less than a week our youngest son will marry the girl of his dreams. This post isn’t specifically for them but for all of us who desire a life-long marriage.

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I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a true story and one that’s not so common anymore. The story started one evening, more than a quarter of a century ago. An evening of both the mundane and the divine.  The players were a girl, a guy and another girl. Lest I lead you astray from the beginning, the first two were not a pair, but rather friends who had know each other for just a few months. They did not date, there wasn’t any romantic interest, as the girl had her eyes on yet another guy.

As the evening progressed the first girl casually introduced the guy for which she had only feelings of friendship to the second girl. In truth the second girl also had her eyes on another guy…in fact the same as her female friend, but that’s a story for perhaps another time. The new girl and the guy whom she had just met enjoyed the rest of the evening chatting and playing games. To anyone nearby it likely seemed an encounter of little consequence.

But no so to our friend. The guy who met the girl for the very first time. To him this was perhaps the most important human encounter of his relatively young life. That very same night before he went to sleep he recorded the name of the girl and the date of their meeting. He knew this was a date of great significance. In fact it was not much later that he decided he would marry that girl. They were married exactly 603 days later. As of today that marriage has been a wonderfully happy union of 8,816 days.

The Point of Our Story

There are two reasons the man and woman have been married so long when many have fallen to challenges and temptations and have ended their unions in the sadness of divorce. Only two things stand between a life long marriage of beauty and joy in the midst of any and all circumstances. Two simple factors.

A Critical Aside

There is a requirement to these factors. They can not function as one time events. Like food and air they must be repeated many times. In fact many times every day. Not once and finished forever, but with careful consistency. A couple which applies these factors for a week, a year, a decade or even longer and then stops will soon see the end of their marriage. A life long marriage requires a life long daily commitment to both of these factors.

In Our Story

In our story the factors were applied soon after the couple met. You see, the young man decided to marry the young woman, then he took action to win her heart. The young woman decided to say yes to his proposal, then took action to be married. They made a decision to commit to each other on that day so many years ago and they have taken action every day to keep that commitment. There are only two factors required for a life long marriage. There are only two factors required for a life long marriage. Click To TweetThose factors are to decide and to take action. To decide every day and throughout the day to stay happily married to each other. To take action every day and throughout the day to show love to one another. To decide every day and throughout the day to stay close to God so He can mold your hearts closer to His and to each other’s. To take action every day to read His word and pray for His guidance.

There is Nothing Else

Marriage is simple. At times it may not be easy, but it is incredibly simple. At times marriage may not be easy, but it is incredibly simple. Click To TweetThe simplicity of always deciding that no matter what that the the marriage will endure and the taking of actions that will make it so. If you will both, individually and together, consistently decide and take action then nothing in this world can pull you apart from each other. But never forget, it is the consistency of decisions and actions that makes your life long marriage possible.

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
-Matthew 19:4-6

Love you all!

-Troy

This is What You are Supposed to Do

Are you doing what you are supposed to do? Let’s talk about that.

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Our Poor Children

When our boys were little we signed them up for soccer with a local league. We purchased the shirts and special colored socks and took them to practices and games. They had some fun, I think. When they were a little older we signed them up for baseball. One of them did NOT enjoy that. We pretty much required him to finish the season. It wasn’t fun for him and I’m fairly sure it was worse for us. But we did the sports thing for a time with them. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

No Bob Vila Here

I am perhaps the most unhandy man you’ll ever meet. When there is a leak in a pipe I can quickly turn it into a flood. I’m not great with a lot of DIY and frankly it’s not my favorite thing. But I do it when necessary. But the day after Sally and my 10th wedding anniversary we closed on buying our house. This made me the resident handy man. Not good. Why did we buy a house? Because it’s the American Dream. It’s what you are supposed to do.

Other Things

You’re supposed to go to college, you’re supposed to get a good job, you’re supposed to work 40 or more hours a week whether you like your job or not, you’re supposed to get car payments. There are a lot of things we are supposed to do.

What Happened Recently

For the past several months I’ve been working and planning for a particular goal. When I first set the goal I thought it was a good thing. I was pretty sure it was what I was supposed to do. When Sally expressed concern that she didn’t see how it would work I came up with reasons why it would be fine. Reasons that I believed, mostly. But it’s become apparent to me lately that it’s not something I really want to do. Or at least not the thing I want to really make my focus. So it’s become a burden. The thing I thought at first I wanted to do, then came to the point where I believed it was what I was supposed to do was dragging me down. Emotionally, spiritually and in our relationship. It became a burden.

A Few Days Ago

Sally and I were talking about where we are and where we are going. I expressed how I was feeling about the issue. She said something very clear and piercing. “Why didn’t you tell me about this a long time ago?” Of course the answer was that I was afraid. I assumed that she also thought it was something I was supposed to do. But I found out that the truth is she wants me to do what I want to do. What I feel is right for how I am wired. For where God has me at this moment. She was so very understanding and gracious. As for me? I felt a HUGE release. The burden was gone. It’s been amazing! I feel reinvigorated. I sent an email to a trusted friend who has direct experience on both paths to get her input. She was all for the change and even suggested a method to make it go more smoothly. She showed Sally and me a non-public option that would soon be opening up, giving us an early chance to jump in if we liked. Here is a truth. When you take action to follow your passion God starts opening doors. When you take action to follow your passion God starts opening doors. Click To Tweet

The Moral of this Story

Here is what I have learned…again. God has uniquely created each of us with gifts, talents, passions and desires. He doesn’t want us to just survive, He wants us to live out our best life. But if we do what our peers, parents, or society expect us to do or even what we feel we are supposed to do then we are not living out the amazing life God has for us. Please let me clarify. The ability to do something well doesn’t mean you are required to do that thing. The ability to do something well doesn't mean you are required to do that thing. Click To Tweet When you align your gifts, talents, and passions with following after God then you will not only enjoy what you are doing you can be sure that God will make it help others in ways you could never have imagined.

Have I Missed My Chance?

Before I close out I do want to cover this point. You may feel as if you are too old to make a change. That too much of life has passed. But it’s not true. As long as you still have breath God has a great purpose for you!

It is quite common and healthy to at any point in life, to draw a line in the sand and take a fresh look at who you are, what you are doing and where you want to go.
-Dan Miller in 48 Days to the Work You Love

It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 88, God has you here for a reason…and it’s not to just survive. You are meant to thrive! So don’t do what you think you are “supposed to do.” Search your heart for what you know God has created you to do. One last note. Most of us believe that God has “called” us to do one specific job for our entire lives. While that may be true for a small percentage of people it’s generally not the case. As you learn and grow God may change the direction of your life several times…and that’s ok. Don’t confuse your passions and gifts with your job. Your passions and gifts are applicable to many different jobs, or to other models such as freelancing, contracting or entrepreneurship. So don’t do what you are supposed to do, do instead what you were created to do.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
-Ephesians 2:10

Love you all!

-Troy

One Way to Stop All Arguments

In case our post Stop Fighting isn’t where you are at right now then let’s talk about how to stop all arguments.

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How Many?

It takes exactly one person to start an argument. Just one. How many does it take to maintain an argument? Two. It takes two.  Just like keeping a fire going requires both fuel and oxygen keeping an argument alive requires at least two participants.

I Have a Friend

I know a person, let’s call her Angela (not her real name). She came from a family where the father liked to argue. Loudly. So Angela, being raised in such an environment, assumed that was normal in relationships. She mastered the art of defending her point at all costs and extreme volume. Eventually Angela met and married a man that we will call Bill (still not a real name, stay with me). The first time there was a disagreement Angela went straight to default mode of shouting. But Bill? He wasn’t a shouter. After a few times of this Angela finally found why. Bill refused to engage. He didn’t believe in solving problems in that way. Angela learned fairly quickly that arguments with Bill were pointless. Guess what? Angela and Bill still disagree at times. But they don’t fight. Oh, they’ve been married a LONG time and are quite happy.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
-Proverbs 15:1

Did You See It?

What did Bill do? Bill knew the secret of stopping any argument. It’s very simple. You don’t engage. That’s it. When your spouse moves into “shout mode” then just don’t shout back. I’m going to get some push back on that most likely. But I’m ok with it. The only person who can make me shout at my spouse is ME. Let me say that one more time: The only person who can make me shout at my spouse is me. Click To Tweet

The Wrap Up

Will this be easy? Not if in the past both of you are used to loud arguments. If one person refuses to engage then the first person may get even angrier…but only briefly. Will it be comfortable? Not the first time. But it will be a little more the second. Each time it gets a bit easier. If you keep up the habit of not engaging in an anger level “discussion” then eventually your spouse will as well.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
-Luke 6:38

Love you all!

-Troy

Happily Flexible

What you may be expecting is a post about yoga. What you are getting is a post about Tennessee.

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A couple of weeks ago Sally and I spent a few days in the Volunteer State, Tennessee. The original purpose was to attend Dan Miller’s Coaching with Excellence event. (Side note, Dan is the author of 48 Days to the Work You Love an several other books and resources. To get more details on Dan’s great content or live events check out my affiliate link.) It worked out that we would be in Tennessee over our anniversary so we decided to stay an extra couple of days to celebrate!

What We Planned

After the coaching event in Franklin, TN (which we attended in order to learn more about launching our marriage coaching practice…details coming soon) we drove 3 hours to Pigeon Forge, TN. Pigeon Forge is located near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and is also home to Dollywood, a Dolly Parton owned amusement park with a Smokey Mountains theme. All of our married life Sally has been telling me about Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and how she had loved visiting them as a child. She talked about going to Dollywood which her family had not done, but she wanted to check it out. So our plan was go to Dollywood and then possibly to Gatlinburg the next day.

The Warning

The morning of our first full day in Pigeon Forge we woke up, went for a bit of a run and then visited the trolley office to buy wristbands so we could have unlimited rides on the Pigeon Forge trolley system all day. It would save us a lot of frustration in traffic and at least $10 to park at Dollywood. We chatted with the wonderfully sweet southern woman at the office for quite some time. She let us know that we could expect VERY long lines at Dollywood (it was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend) and would likely be disappointed due to not riding many rides.

What We Did

In our hotel and the trolley office they had many brochures for local attractions. One of them was a place called Ober Gatlinburg, a ski area and amusement park above Gatlinburg, TN. On the wise advice of the local woman Sally decided... Click To Tweet On the wise advice of the local woman Sally decided to skip Dollywood and the long lines and opt to check out Gatlinburg and Ober Gatlinburg. Note that she had been talking about Dollywood for TWO DECADES! But she determined (and I readily agreed) that we didn’t want to spend our anniversary standing in long lines all day. She was completely flexible and happy about it.

The Result

We spent a few hours enjoying downtown Gatlinburg (we got to see a celebrity, Rick Hurst who played Cletus on the Dukes of Hazzard TV show). We enjoyed a VERY tasty lunch at No Way Jose’s, checked out some great local shopping (I purchased flavorful Mountain Q Chipotle Barbeque Sauce at Pepper Palace) and just had fun checking out the area. Then we went to the Ober Gatlinburg tram and rode it several miles up the mountain (not our video :-)). Once at the Ober Gatlinburg park we rode the Ski Mountain Coaster, took the ski lift all the way to the top of Mt. Harrison and had a FANTASTIC time! We stayed up until well after sunset and rode the tram back down in the dark. So beautiful! Overall changing our plans from Dollywood to Gatlinburg and Ober Gatlinburg worked out very well!

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What’s the Point?

Although I wrote a fair amount about a portion of our trip, that’s not really the point of this post. The point is that Sally was happy to be flexible and change plans on the fly. She looked at the options and made a change without any problem. I asked more than once if she would rather go to Dollywood…but she was all in for Gatlinburg instead.

The Questions

I’ll finish this up with a couple of questions for you my friends. When circumstances change around you what is your response? When circumstances change around you what is your response? Click To Tweet Are you rigid and demand that everything still go with your original plan, even though it may no longer be practical? Or perhaps are you ok with changing when necessary? Not begrudgingly, but with happiness! I don’t mean compromising principles, but just in everyday life how do you respond to change. Change is inevitable and those who accept it with joy and anticipation will have a much happier marriage than those who don’t.

Love you all!

-Troy

Insert Words Here

Yes the title has something to do with the post. No it’s not a “choose your own adventure” post.

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How We Communicate

When we communicate with other people there are really two areas, verbal and non-verbal. The verbal part is all about words (in case you weren’t sure ;-)) and non-verbal means body language, actions and the like. Today’s topic is words. Yay!

The Simplest and Hardest Thing

Speaking to another person is simple, we’ve been doing it for decades. Putting words together in sentences, attempting to express ourselves, making requests, offering assistance, ordering pizza, etc. Words are simple. Words are hard. I’m not sure how you were raised, but there is a lot in my background that was focused on negative words. In fact an article in WebMD.com notes that toddlers hear the word “No” 400 times per day! But let’s not focus on “no”, let’s broaden this out a bit.

The Words I Use

The words I use impact me. If I refer to a person or situation negatively, for example “I hate the commute to work” then I’m simply making it worse. Declaring hatred for anything makes the emotion even stronger. My words affect my attitude. But a simple change in words can make it better. Please read this next part carefully. Everything you experience goes through the filter of your mind. Your mind is the interpreter for whatever happens in your day. Most of what you encounter is not inherently good or bad…but the mind can make it one or the other.

I’m Talking To Me Here

Before we get all “positive mental attitude” here I want to make a statement. Most of us think that how we see the world is the only way it should be seen. Most of us think that how we see the world is the only way it should be seen. Click To Tweet In other words our way is the only right way. Now, there are certain absolutes. Good and evil do exist and no amount of interpretation will make one become the other. But the idea that I’m ALWAYS right and any other opinion is NEVER right is dangerously arrogant. This is an area where I have struggled many times.

The Trick

Ok, back to the topic at hand. One aspect of maturity is the ability to stand back from our emotions and react rationally. If you are a Christian you recognize this as an act of the Holy Spirit in you. I don’t want the words that I say to come from feelings in the heat of the moment. I want the words that I say to come from the core of my value system. For that to happen I need to make sure of two things: I spend a lot of time working on my value system and I do everything I can to not let my emotions affect my words. Working on my value system means putting valuable and positive information into my mind. Reading the Bible, listening to great podcasts, going to growth focused events, learning from books deigned to foster those values and spending time with people who share those values. (For more on this check out the post What I Do).

Pause

Several years ago a group of us went through a Bible study from Andy Stanley titled Pause. The premise was that at every point of decision or action there is a moment when we have the opportunity to pause. When we pause we allow our value system to catch up and take control of our next words or actions (for Christians we again recognize the Holy Spirit here). It’s an extension of the adage, “Think before you speak.” We’ve all been there. In the middle of a highly charged emotional situation we are acting on our feelings it feels like another person is controlling our words and actions. Just before that was our “pause” moment. As we spend more time working on our value system we will be more aware of each “pause” moment…and more inclined to take that better path.

Bringing this Back To Marriage

The person with whom I spend the most time is the the person I could hurt the most. My actions and especially my words can make or break our relationship. If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know how I speak to my wife. You know I almost never use her name when speaking to her. I love her name and the sound of it. It’s a beautiful name. But much more often I refer to her as “my love”, “pretty girl” and sometimes, “my lovely bride”. There are several reasons for this but here is a big one for any marriage. Using terms of endearment will endear you to her. Your words matter to both of you. Using terms of endearment will endear you to her. Click To Tweet

The Wrap Up

There is one simple action step here. I follow it every day. Spend time putting more into your mind that supports your value system. Your words will change as your mind is changed.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
-Luke 6:45

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
-Romans 12:2

Love you all!

-Troy

The Married Man’s Unspoken Fear

It’s time to talk about fear. Not fear in general, but one specific fear held by almost every married man.

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It’s All About Timing

I have a fear as a married man. What’s interesting is this fear appears like clockwork, well more like calendarwork. (Is that even a word? The spellchecker underlined it but I’m just going to forge ahead.) It grips me in February, May (twice), October (although that one is a fake) and in December (again twice)*. Can you guess my fear? It’s Gift Dread.

Wait, What?

You read that right. Gift Dread. At every event that requires a gift I get Gift Dread. What is Gift Dread? The fear that I will buy a bad gift. One that won’t make her smile. A gift that says, “Yeah, I had no idea the appropriate gift on International Left Hander’s Day…especially since you are right-handed.” If you’re a guy married to a girl then you have likely felt Gift Dread. Oh, unless you are one of those annoying dudes whose primary love language is Receiving Gifts. You people get on my nerves. It’s as if you just have the perfect gifts stashed everywhere you go, like some kind of birthday themed geo-cache. Freaks.

What I Used to Do

I used to frequently buy my wife DVDs. Then we stopped watching a lot of movies. So I switched to books. At least one book for every occasion. Did I mention she doesn’t really like to read? She does read, she reads great stuff, but it’s not her go-to thing when she finds 10 uninterrupted minutes. So the books started piling up. A lot. Now we both have enough books to fill my hometown library. Although maybe that’s not too impressive. My hometown library is just two rooms with less square footage than your average garage.

What I’ve Learned To Do

So I have the secret to defeating Gift Dread. I still don’t always hit a home run, but I’m (hopefully) getting better. Ready for the secret? Don’t tell my wife, I don’t want her to catch on. Don't tell my wife, I don't want her to catch on. Click To Tweet Here it is. I listen. I do my best to listen to things she talks about in the weeks (ok let’s be honest…in the 24 hours) before the said gift-beholden event. Then I try to find something that matches her words. It takes two things to pull this off. 1) Paying attention to your wife and 2) Not breaking the bank. (The first is so you don’t end up buying her a pizza cutter for your anniversary. The second is so you can afford the pizza for the pizza cutter you bought anyway because you didn’t do the first.)

How’s That Going for You?

Lately Sally’s been talking off and on about planting some flowers by the back fence in our yard. Now, I could have made the rookie mistake of picking up a gas station rose on the way home from work and hoping it would take root, but I’ve learned. So what I did was pick up a gift card to a local greenhouse. That way she can pick out whatever she likes. Plus we get the added bonus of (forced) time together to plant these crazy things. Did I do well? Hopefully. I guess I’ll find out after she reads this post. I guess I'll find out after she reads this post. Click To Tweet

Love you all!

-Troy

* In case you wondered about the specificity of the months:
February – Valentine’s Day
May – Mother’s Day and our anniversary
October – Sweetest Day (the most ridiculous made up holiday ever)
December – my lovely bride’s birthday and Christmas.

A Hairy Situation

How about another fantastic guest blog post from my lovely wife Sally? Here you go, enjoy!

hairdryer

Enter Sally:

Tell Me Why

OK guys. Why did you marry your spouse? What attracted you to her? Was it her outward appearance? Was it her fun-loving personality? Was she just the sweetest, most beautiful person you had ever met?

Every couple has different things that brought them together. Every couple has different things that brought them together. Click To Tweet It may have been a spark or a smile. Whatever it was, you started dating. Hopefully you got to know each other and you both just brought out the best in each other. Think back to what it was that made you decide, this is the woman I am going to spend the rest of my life with.

It’s Not Just About the Hair…

Most wedding vows include “for better, for worse…in sickness and in health…love, honor and cherish…” Did you really think about the things you vowed as you were saying them? What if she changes physically? Will you still stick by her and love her? What if life changes and becomes increasingly difficult due to a sickness or financial situation? What if…she cuts her hair and the style is one that you can’t stand???

You may think I am crazy, but recently someone I know got a new haircut. It had been a long time and she cut off almost an entire foot of her hair! It wasn’t short, still below her chin in length. It had more bounce and body to it and looked healthy. She LOVED her new hair style!

Then one morning as she was getting ready for work, her husband told her he hated her hair and that it made her ugly. Can you imagine how that made her feel? Maybe not. Maybe you are a straight up, honest, no-nonsense kind of guy and think that you have a right to state your opinion no matter who it may hurt in the process. Wow! Just wow!

Hopefully Not a News Flash

If this is you, then I have something to tell you. This is your wife. She is the one you pledged to love until you died. She is the one who has dedicated her life to you. If you married her for her hair, you definitely have some issues of your own that you need to take care of. Hairstyles can come and go. It can grow back. Self-esteem? Trust? Those things are more difficult to get back once someone has really hurt you.

Here’s a piece of advice. If your wife gets a new hairstyle, find something nice to say. If your wife gets a new hairstyle, find something nice to say. Click To Tweet If it is hideous on her, you better find something nice to say. If you want her old hair back, telling her the new hair ‘makes her ugly’ is NOT the way to go. That will drive a wedge between you and she will be angry and hurt and that anger and hurt will last way longer than it takes for her hair to grow back. You could tell her, much later, in a loving way that you love her no matter what, but your favorite hairstyle is when it is long. By no means should you ever insult her.

Love Her for Who She Is

If you married her for the way she looked, you need to start finding things in her to love that are lasting. Like her spirit, her personality, the way she does what she does. If you can’t think of anything like that, think back to why you chose her in the beginning and go from there. When you base a relationship on the outward appearance or you think that you can just say mean things to her because you want things your way, your relationship is doomed to crumble.

Encourage your spouse! Love your spouse! If you don’t know how to do that, read Gary Chapman’s, ‘The Five Love Languages,’ and learn.

-Sally

Do This One Thing to be Happier

This may be one of our least ground breaking blog posts ever but one of the most important. The catch is…you have to take action.

couplewalking

I’m Not the Best Student

Over the course of our marriage I have learned many things. A small percentage of those things I acted on the first time and did consistently well. A very small percentage. Tiny actually. Maybe only one or two. Probably just one…in about 24 years. The rest of the things I learned I had to see, hear, read or observe multiple times before I managed to put them into practice. Some I still have to consciously struggle to remember. The topic of this blog post is one of the latter. I’m still working on it, but I’m growing better through practice and repetition.

It’s Ridiculously Simple

I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned and show you several ways to implement it. It’s one of the simplest things, but for me (and perhaps other husbands) it’s not easy, especially not the first several times. It won’t be new knowledge to you. None of you will read this and say, “Wow! I never thought of that before!” But the reward isn’t in the knowledge, it’s in the action. That’s where most of us fail (myself included many times). But if you take the action you will be MUCH happier for having taken that step.

Here It Is

Talk to your wife. That’s it. Just talk to your wife. I don’t mean have a regular time where you sit down to discuss your day, although that is important. I mean about all the things you may be afraid to share. Or things you feel silly or embarrassed talking about. Talk to your wife. Let me give you some examples.

When you have a feeling God is calling you in a new direction: Talk to your wife.

When you are having any kind of physical problem, even one you’d rather keep to yourself: Talk to your wife.

When you are afraid and don’t know the next step: Talk to your wife. When you are afraid and don't know the next step: Talk to your wife. Click To Tweet

When you’ve done something wrong in the past and know you need to make amends: Talk to your wife.

When the daily grind of go to work, come home, go to bed and start it all over the next day is driving you slowly mad and you don’t know how much longer you can take it: Talk to your wife.

When you have hopes and dreams and know that you were made for something greater: Talk to your wife.

When you don’t even know where to begin with all of the things filling your mind: Talk to your wife.

This is not some random list. These are things Sally and I have talked about just in the last couple of years. Every one is real life and every time talking to her made all the difference and joy increased. But I had to step out of my comfort zone and talk to her. It gets easier, I promise.

Your Wife Is…

Your wife is your biggest cheerleader, your confidant, your lover, your counselor, your partner and your best friend. Talk to your wife. She wants to do whatever she can to help and support you. But she can’t help if she doesn’t know. Take action. Do it right now. Don’t wait.

“Tell her about it
Tell her all your crazy dreams
Let her know you need her
Let her know how much she means”
-Billy Joel

Love you all!

-Troy