Monthly Archives: December 2014

What Can I Do?

This post is going live on December 28, 2014. Late December has a reputation for being the time of year when people make their New Years’ resolutions. Some folks plan to lose weight and get in shape, to stop smoking, to write a book, start a business, draw closer to God or any of several other great changes. I’m a fan of the fact that a new year brings to mind the idea that new things are possible, that what hasn’t worked can be discarded and change is on everyone’s mind.

Recently I began listening to the Confessions of A Terrible Husband podcast, hosted by my friend Nick Pavlidis. I strongly recommend checking out his podcast, great stuff! In Episode 3 Nick interviews John G. Miller, author of several books including QBQ: The Question Behind the Question. During the interview John emphasized the idea of personal accountability in all things, including marriage. One important question John posed stood out to me.

 What Can I Do?

-John G. Miller

 

What Can I Do? A simple question. When my wife and I are on opposite sides of an issue the question should not be, “Why doesn’t she get it?” the question should be, “What can I do to make this better?” When finances are an issue ask the questions, “What can I do to make things easier? What expenses are uniquely mine that I can decrease or eliminate? How can I help in the budgeting process? What can I do to bring in more money? What can I do?”  Don’t ask, “Why won’t the other person or situation change?” instead ask yourself, “What can I do to improve the situation?”

I’m going to quickly bring this back around so that you can get back to your New Years’ festivities.  Let me pose my own question based on John’s.  Ask this question of yourself.

What can I do to show my wife more love?

This question assumes you know what she needs to feel loved. If you don’t know her primary love language then that may not be the case.  Take a quick look back at The Book That Started It All. Of course you could simply ask HER the question, “What can I do that will make you feel more loved?”

If you are looking for a resolution that’s a great one to use for 2015. Find out what makes her feel more loved and resolve to do it every single day. In case you need a regular reminder just put an alarm in your smartphone.  :-)

Now go do what YOU can do to make 2015 the most loving year ever in your marriage!

-Troy

Like a Child?

Adults are boring.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m technically an adult and know there are many things that must be done in life that require the maturity level of an adult.

The Problem With Childishness

Have you ever know a couple of adults who just were not getting along due to some petty issue?  One person said or did something, often without thinking or even realizing they had offended the other.  As a result there is anger, miscommunication and lack of forgiveness.  People will ignore each other, try to avoid spending time together or when required to spend time together it will be terribly uncomfortable. This is childishness and it is hurtful and without merit. Childishness is rooted in selfishness. If you are a Christian then selfishness needs to be rooted out by spending time in the Presence of God. In this Christmas season don’t let time with family that you see infrequently be a time of hurt and discomfort, let it be fill with love and joy!

The Beauty of Childlikeness

I’m not sure that is is a word.  Childlikeness I mean. But I’m using it. It’s a powerful image. Childlikeness means living in wonder and awe and silliness like a child. Enjoying the discovery of new things, having fun and just being playful.  I love my wife at all times and for many things but I get a special pleasure when she is childlike. In every woman there is a 12 year old girl. She is silly, cute and a little mischevious. Being around that little girl is just fun. So. Much Fun! Inside every man is an 8 year old boy. Goofy, funny and ready to try anything…as long as he has a cape!

The Balance

In 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul writes:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (emphasis added).

Childishness holds us back in relationships. Childishness is immature and always selfish.

In Matthew 18:3-5 we see the words of Jesus:

“And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

We are called to be childlike! Being childlike means we have implicit trust that God will take care of us. We believe He is in control and know He has our best interests at heart. Being childlike means we treat others as a child treats them (“whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me“). NOT as a hurtful and clique obsessed teen, but as a child who accepts everyone. Let the people who are different and unlike you into your circle. Be goofy and silly with your friends. Have fun and expect the best. Be childlike and not childish.

Wrapping It Up

If you are a wife your husband most likely loves it when the little girl in you appears! If you are a husband sometimes you need to be a little boy. Let your adulthood fall away and just have fun together. Show love and acceptance, sweetness and joy, and just be open to new experiences and events.

Most of us love a silly, funny and caring child.  There are few things more precious than the sincere hug of a child.  Avoid childishness in all forms, but be childlike in how you enjoy, love and trust others.

Love you all!

Merry Christmas!

-Troy

 

 

 

 

The 1 Reason Marriages Fail or Succeed

How about that for a bold title? In 1000 words or less I’m going to let you in on the only reason marriages fail. Then you can use that knowledge to help your marriage succeed. Is your marriage strong? Is it weak? Happy? Stressed? You’re about to find out why.

The Problem with the World

Most of us, in fact nearly all of us, make a grave mistake in our lives. We give away our power. We assume that we have no control. In the world we are taught that life is about jobs, cars, school, church and other external circumstances. But the truth is that 90% of life is lived within our minds and is under our control. Once you truly get this your life will never be the same.

The Truth about Life

Life is a mental game. It’s an exercise of how our minds interpret the world. A few years ago I was taught a principle that made this very clear. What you believe determines your actions and your actions determine your results. The progression is 1) beliefs 2) actions 3) results. Every aspect of life follows this series of steps.

How We Got Into Trouble

Look around you. Think of your friends and family members. I’ll bet that some of them had a life plan, at least for a time. Do you want to know where it ended? Just after graduation. If their education stopped at high school the plan was, “Get a job that pay the bills and that won’t drive me insane or suck all of the life out of me.”  Most of them failed because they hate their job. If someone went to college the life plan may have a longer term. “Graduate, get a job in my field (or go to graduate school then get a job in my field), and follow that path through life.” Some of them succeeded, but many failed. Why do I say they failed? Because they only had a plan for a career…and even that was lost. They never planned their life.

Drifters

Your life is within your control.  What you do and have can be changed. But if you don’t have what you want in your life, career and marriage what is the reason? You are drifting. You’ve set your autopilot to react to circumstances rather than consciously taking control. You are going through the motions. That wasn’t God’s intention for your life. The words of Jesus in John 10:10 show God’s heart for your life.

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The Solution

There is a simple solution to the drifter issue. You have to change your results in life. But going back to what we have already learned, beliefs determine actions and actions determine results. So to change your results you must first change your beliefs. Whole books have been written on this topic and we won’t get into any more detail here than necessary but let’s make it very clear. When you allow your circumstances to shape your beliefs about what is possible then you will always drift through life. When you decide what your beliefs will be then you control your destiny.

How this Relates to Marriage

If you came out of a home where your parents were happily in love then you likely believe a happy marriage is possible.  If you came from a broken or highly dysfunctional home then your beliefs may have been shaped toward the idea that a happy marriage is either incredibly difficult or impossible.  But how does a simple belief about marriage make a couple happy or unhappy?  Follow the progression.

Actions and Results

If you believe a happy marriage is normal and to be expected then you will take actions consistent with that belief.  You will be kind to your spouse, think the best of them and do what you can to make their life more fulfilled and enjoyable.  If both partners are taking these kinds of actions then wonderful things will happen.  However if you believe marriage is hard or unlikely to last for a lifetime then you’ll take actions consistent with those beliefs.  When your spouse says an unintentionally hurtful word you’ll assume it was meant as an attack rather than an error.  You’ll look for inconsistencies in their behavior and be constantly suspicious. When challenges come you’ll look for a way out rather than a way to repair the relationship.  What you believe about marriage affects whether or not you have a happy and loving union.

In Closing

Beliefs are formed from experiences and learning.  Beliefs can be intentionally changed.  It takes time and a firm commitment.  But you will notice that as you change your beliefs your actions will begin to change, almost without effort. Results will be better than ever before. But it all starts with changing your beliefs.

Challenge

Think over what you believe about marriage or your spouse. Make a list. See if all of your beliefs are healthy. If any are not then pick one each week to change. Repeat to yourself several times a day the healthy equivalent of that belief.  Perhaps your parents often fought and then divorced. You may have a belief that “marriage is hard work and most marriages fail.”  But to change that belief say to yourself at least 10 times per day, every day for the next week, “our marriage is filled with joy and we love each other more every day.”

Give it a shot!

Love you all!

-Troy

One of My Favorites – Repost

Every once in a while here at HappierHusband we bring back one of my favorite posts from the past.  We do this so that 1) New readers can enjoy the content they may have missed and 2) To remind all of us that truth remains even though we may have forgotten that we learned it.

The following post first appeared nearly 6 months ago, on June 27, 2014.  It was one of my first few blog posts.  It is short and to the point, but very heartfelt.  Since then we have had several friends and family members lose their spouses.  At this Christmas season I think this is very appropriate.  Please don’t overlook the importance of Before She is Gone.

Before She is Gone

I don’t want to write this post…but I will. Recently I caught a snippet of Focus on the Family on our local Christian radio station (http://wcicfm.org).  Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage, was speaking and he made the following statement to women about how to value their husbands, “Ask the Lord to give you a widow’s heart, before your husband is gone.”

Of course my mind turned it around to, “Lord, give me a widower’s heart before she is gone.”  Gut punch!  I don’t even want to think about it.  The tears start to flow.  Considering how I would miss everything she brings to my heart and life. It’s almost unthinkable.  But in truth it will almost certainly happen that there will be a day when one of us is gone and the other will be left behind.

On that day will you be telling yourself, “I wish I had let her know how much I loved her.  I wish I could bring her back, even for a minute, to let her know that after the Lord she is everything to me.”?  Or will you be able to say with confidence, ” I told her EVERY DAY that I loved her, several times a day and I KNOW she knew it was true by my words and actions.  I treated her as a precious blessing, more than I ever deserved and I believe her life was better because the Lord brought us together.  I did everything I could to love her and when see sees Jesus I hope she notices even the smallest reflection of our love as a couple in His countenance.”

My friends, we treat this time on Earth as if it will last for ever.  It. Will. Not.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:14

Your life is short and as you age you’ll notice it more and more.  Her life is short.  She is yours for a time and a brief time at that.  Love her while you can so that when she is no longer by your side you will not regret the time you wasted while she was yet here.

Now go and love your wife!

-Troy

 

I Don’t Always Get It Right

I have known since early in our marriage that Sally’s primary love languages are Quality Time and Physical Touch.  (Side note, if the concept of Love Languages is unfamiliar to you then check out The Book That Started It All.)  Recently a series of events and circumstances have crept in and started affecting our time together.  Now, my primary love language is Words of Affirmation (feel free to throw in any compliments :-)) but quality time is on the list as well.  I had noticed that I wasn’t quite as chipper as usual I chalked it up to fatigue because I wasn’t sleeping as well as usual.

A few days ago Sally and I were together just sitting and cuddling and she said “I need more of this.”  I was quick to agree and planned to make a point of being more aware of our physical time together.  Note this isn’t necessarily about physical intimacy, although that is important, but rather just about holding hands, embracing and being in physical contact.

As those of you who have been reading the blog a lot recently and or are connected to me on Facebook know, we are going through some transitions in life that have to do with non-work type business stuff.  As I was putting together a plan to work in these areas I knew I needed to set aside some scheduled committed time or it just wasn’t going to happen.  Sally and I were talking and I mentioned that I wanted to dedicated an hour every evening five days a week.  She simply said, “I can’t give up another hour with you every night.” 

Light bulb!  Now she had clearly hit, within a short span of time, the fact that I wasn’t keeping her love tank full with physical touch or quality time.  Let me tell you what I did.  I adjusted another period of time in my schedule (you’d be surprised what you can do during your lunch hour) AND committed that in the evenings we would be together more.  You know why?  Because I can cut almost anything out of my life to make sure that God is first and Sally is next.  They are The Only 2 Things that are lifelong commitments.

There are two lessons to be gained from this experience.

  1. If you are not getting what you need to feel love then ask for it!  Sally stepped out of her comfort zone and presented her needs.  Don’t assume your obtuse husband is aware of the fact that he missed the hints.  Oh, if you are the husband then you need to share and let her know, kindly and gently, what you are missing.  It’s also important to know your spouse’s love languages and work to learn them.  Go back to the post about the book that started it all as a great reference.
  2. Change what needs to be changed in any other area outside of your relationship with God in order to meet your spouse’s needs.  This is critical.

Oh one more lesson.  Never assume you have arrived.

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But let me encourage you to keep striving to improve.  God will always support you in your relationship growth with Him and your spouse!

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I believe in you!

Love you all!

-Troy

 

The Truth About Divorce

I’m going to lift your spirits…by talking about divorce.  Oh yes I am!

Let me ask you a question.  What percentage of marriages in the United States end in divorce?

I heard what most of you were thinking.  The commonly quoted statistic is 50%.  Based on that number anyone who gets married has a 50/50 chance of making it.  Flip a coin, heads or tails, half of you who are currently married are going to split up.  Based on the 50% statistic.

But is it true?

In a word, no.  Multiple studies have shown that the divorce rate in the United States has never hit the 50% mark.  In fact the highest rate ever actually calculated from raw numbers is 41% based on a New York Times article…and the rate has been declining since 1980.  But even that number isn’t truly accurate.  In fact according to initial research conducted in 2006 on first time marriages, “probably 20 to 25 percent have ended in divorce on average”.  This is from Shaunti Feldhahn and her husband Jeff who have written a book called The Good News About Marriage.  They spent several years pouring through the data related to marriage and divorce.  Apparently the 50% value came from projections based on how the divorce rate was increasing through the 60s and 70s but the 50% never happened.  It’s a myth.

In fact among all marriages for those who regularly attend church the rate is much lower, likely in the teens or single digits.  For couples who pray together frequently the rate is less than 1 in 10,000.

The problem isn’t just that there is a false statistic believed by many, perhaps most married people.  The problem is that believing a 50% divorce statistic leads to a sense of hopelessness.  The idea that no matter what we do then we still only have a 50/50 shot of making it.  But it is simply NOT TRUE.

If you are married or thinking about marriage then your chances of staying married, whether or not you are a Christian, are almost certainly above 60%.  If you are a Christian and so is your spouse then your odds are likely above 80%.  If you pray together regularly your odds are at LEAST 99.99%.  This is the truth!!!

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If together you make a commitment to a life-long marriage, you center your relationship on God, you take advantage of resources to grow and nurture your relationship then you WILL have a lifelong marriage.  Furthermore if you know what love really is you can have an incredibly happy marriage.  If you want to improve martial happiness, just click through the HappierHusband archives on the right side of this page and enjoy!

Love you all!

-Troy

What I Do

Over the years I have spent a lot of time studying various principles of success in life. One of those principles is “To have what someone has you have to do what they did.” This applies in careers, running a business, personal growth, spiritual maturity and physical development. It’s a truism for almost any aspect of advancement.

In case you are interested in my daily habits of being the happiest and most fulfilled husband I know then this is your chance to peek behind the curtain. Thanks be to God for putting me on this path.

Before I start listing things out let me refer to a few posts that are foundational to where Sally and I are today. The first is The Book That Started It All. We didn’t have a bad marriage before reading and applying the principles from this book, but afterwards our marriage went from good to amazing! Another post and one you may be surprised to see in this list is Three Words. This one makes a huge difference in your attitude. Finally there is First Place. If we don’t get that one right then everything else falls apart. There are many others I could recommend but hopefully these three will get you set for what is to follow.

I am no super spiritual person. My life contains imperfections and flaws that God is merciful to forgive and He is working with me to remove them as I grow in Him. Don’t think as you go through this list that it is beyond your capability. I started out slowly in each of these areas and grew into it.

I’m just going to go through a typical day. I hope this helps. I’m not listing specific times of day for all activities because your schedule may not match mine.

  • Wake up and do morning devotional, Bible reading, prayer and mission affirmation.  HEY!  Don’t freak out.  Total time for this is anywhere from 5-15 minutes.
    • The devotional is usually a one page reading which connects some type of spiritual growth principle with a Bible verse and practical application.  This year I have been going through the Power Thoughts Devotional by Joyce Meyer.  I usually have either a 30/40 or 365 day devotional book.
    • Bible reading – sometimes it an entire chapter and other times it’s a single verse.  Right now I am reading my way through the New Testament but not on any schedule.  Sometimes God stops me and keeps me in a section or verse for a while.  For example there are some upcoming things in our life that have not yet come to fruition and people we are praying for and the Lord has held me on Hebrews 11:1 for several days.Hebrews111
    • Prayer – Don’t over think this.  Some days it is literally a minute or two.  Other days longer.  Sometimes I am led to just offer thanks to the Lord.  Usually I offer praise, thanksgiving, petitions for others and myself AND favor.  Don’t hesitate to ask the Lord for favor in situations and with people you will encounter.  It’s quite biblical.
    • Mission affirmation – Earlier this year Sally and I went to a Personal Focus Retreat with a group from our church.  During that weekend the Lord gave me a mission for the next season of my life.  I read that mission statement at least once a day as a prayer of surrender and confirmation.  FYI I mention the retreat in a few blog posts, but Why Me? Captures some of the mission statement.
    • Throughout the day as the Lord leads me I pray for people and situations.
    • Oh, Sally and I each usually listen to some type of Christian speaker while showering.  Mark Batterson, Andy Stanley and Joyce Meyer have recently been playing.
  • Exercise & Health
    • As you may know from several blog posts, including The 1 Most Common Marriage Killing Habit, I push hard on good health.  If you read Quality Time in an Unusual Manner you’ll see about the joy to be had by working out with your spouse.
    • I work out six days a week.  SIX DAYS.  Yes, that may make me a freak, but if you get some exercise 3-4 times per week it will help immensely.
    • Depending on the day my workouts involve running, lifting, abdominal exercises, and other areas.  If you want a detailed list let me know.
    • You don’t have to do what I do for workouts, but you should do something.
    • I eat reasonably healthily.  Not obsessively.  Again, if you want details let me know as we recently made a significant change in this area to help with preventing chronic diseases.
  • Go to work.
    • I have a day job.
  • Prayer and Bible reading.
    • Before bed I spend a few more minutes reading the Bible as in the morning and praying alone.
    • Just before Sally and I get ready to turn in for the night we read a short devotional.  Right now we are reading The One Year Love Talk Devotional by Les and Leslie Parrott.
    • We pray together.  Just about every night.  The only exceptions are if one of us is travelling or is just too sick or sleepy (again, not perfect).  But in the past several months we have missed VERY few nights.  Why is this important?  Check out the powerful post Why Christian Couples Get Divorced.
  • Final notes.
    • I tell my wife several times every day that I love her.  Not once, but several times.
    • I treat her with gentleness and kindness.  She likes that. :-) Take a look at Stop Fighting! to see my heart on this issue.
    • I read a lot.  Books on personal growth, books about growing in the Lord, books on business and relating to others.  If I fill my mind with things that will help me draw closer to God and others then it will spill over in a positive way in my marriage.

To be honest there are more things I could put in this post, but this seems like a good stopping place. I hope this helps you.  Remember it is not about being impressed or jealous or envious or bragging. This is just how I live my life thanks to the Lord. If you want to be a happier husband or wife then you might consider asking God how to add some of these habits into your daily life.

Love you all!

-Troy