Monthly Archives: May 2015

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.

fear

 

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

Why is Marriage So Hard?

Here at Happier Husband we don’t shy away from the tough topics. But today it’s just a simple question. If marriage is God’s plan then why is marriage so hard?

Broken Heart

You’ve Seen It in Others

In your circle of friends and family I’m sure you know couples who are struggling with communication, finances, different opinions, control, personality conflicts and other areas. You also likely know divorced couples who started out beautifully and you would have bet were perfect candidates for a life-long union.

You May Have Experienced it Yourself

Some things you cannot change. The behavior and actions of others, issues related to weather, mechanical failures, job losses, certain health problems and many other events have the potential to affect a marriage. Beyond what we cannot change our own thoughts, words and actions have either positive or negative impacts on our marital union.

But What is the Big Issue?

Society teaches us that marriage is supposed to be hard.  Society teaches us that marriage is supposed to be hard. Click To Tweet The trail of broken families we know or even possibly coming from one ourselves leads us to believe that all marriages are hard. Even Christian leaders and Christian pop culture seem to make the same case.

What Do We Expect?

One of the truths of life is that in areas where we have any control we don’t get what we want, we get what we expect. In fact marriage isn’t hard by nature. In many cases marriage is hard because we expect it to be hard. In many cases marriage is hard because we expect it to be hard. Click To Tweet If I expect marriage to be easier then there is a great chance that is WILL get easier. There will still be events that occur that are beyond the control of either my lovely wife or me…but by changing my expectations I will also change my behavior. Most of what makes marriage hard is self inflicted. Most of what makes marriage hard is self inflicted. Click To Tweet Removing my own negative input will go a long way to make marriage easier and happier…for both of us.

In Summary

In life we usually don’t get what we want, we get what we expect. If we expect to have a wonderfully happy marriage then it’s very likely that will be the case..even the difficult times will be better. Let’s close this out with words from the apostle Paul:

Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.
-Hebrews 11:1

Love you all!

-Troy

A Lesson for All of Us

OK, deep breath. I knew it might have some ramifications, but didn’t expect THAT!

lessonPhoto By Vladimir Fedotov via StockPholio.com

How It Started

Last week I put together a blog post and had my lovely bride check it out before I scheduled it for publication. She does this often now, looking for obvious errors, confirming it makes sense and giving me feedback on the content. After she finished I asked her what she thought and her response was, “It’s a good post.”

What Happened Next

The post was actually released at 5 am (as is typical) on a Monday but between a combination of Buffer (my go to social media sharing tool) and a bit of manual work it went live in my usual locations just after 8 am Central. I checked the stats a bit later and an odd thing happened, it only showed one visitor but there were WAY too many views to be one person. Then it righted itself and the numbers started climbing for both views and visitors. I mean REALLY climbing. That single post became the most viewed post ever at HappierHusband.com. In fact that one post brought in more traffic than four of the previous five months worth of traffic combined. It was HUGE!

Why All of the Excitement?

In case you missed it the post was titled Why I Won’t Listen to this Song. Feel free to check it out if you like. Why was it such a big deal? I believe there were two reasons. 1)  The title was a strong draw and 2) It was a polarizing topic. I’m not going to go back over the details of the post, that’s why it is linked above.

I had no idea the amount of traffic the post would generate. But even more interesting were the comments. Some on my private Facebook page, others in Facebook groups where the link was posted and some directly on the blog itself. Although a few comments were middle of the road the rest were either very supportive or very against. VERY, VERY against.

What Went Wrong?

I still believe what I wrote in that post and I think comments on both sides have merit. But here is what went wrong. I became too engaged in trying to defend my position. I let myself get sucked into the debate. On what should have been a fantastic day for HappierHusband (due to the amazing traffic spike) I found myself battling other people of faith over a blog post. Far too much emotional energy was spent in trying to convince the detractors.

What are the Lessons?

1) When you declare your opinion (even when backed with Scripture) others will often differ with you. We all have our own thoughts…and that’s OK. If the difference is from strangers and shared via social media then just let it go. You don’t know them and they don’t know you. Save yourself the emotional anguish.

2) Sometimes the people who disagree are close friends. That’s OK too. If all of my friends always agreed with me then I’d lose an important avenue of growth.

3) If this is something you believe in then don’t back down! But in the same way don’t try to push your opinion on those who don’t share it. Everyone has value.

4) Be kind and loving with everyone, who knows, you may turn a detractor into a friend (which happened in one case :-)).

Love you all!

-Troy

 

Why I Won’t Listen to this Song

DISCLAIMER: You may like this song, perhaps it speaks to you. That’s fine. But as far as I’m concerned it has the absolute wrong message about marriage.

MusicalNotesPhoto By MaxiuB via StockPholio.com

I listen to a fair amount of music. Not as much as I used to because now I enjoy great podcasts and audio books. Even so I enjoy music, both Christian and secular. Full confession, in the last couple of months I’ve purchased several songs on my phone via iTunes because I heard them on the local Christian radio station or playing in the gym. I’m sure Apple appreciates that. :-)

I Caught a Snippet

Recently I was listening to the Christian station and caught a short segment of a song. It was just the first few lines as I was about to get out of the car. It was a REAL downer about marriage, but I assumed (like many songs) that it would move into more positive territory. Alas due to time constraints I didn’t get to find out the ending.

A Few Days Later

Not long after that I was in the car and heard the song all the way through. I have to say I had a VERY strong negative reaction to the song. Hey! Don’t forget the disclaimer at the beginning of this post. :-) Moving on…

So You Know

Before I go any further I’ll end the mystery. The song is Broken Together by Casting Crowns. Here is the link for you to check out the lyrics yourself. If you like the video is also available. I would like to say at this point I really enjoy many Casting Crowns songs. Praise You in this Storm, Glorious Day and Voice of Truth all have wonderful messages of God’s love and power and His care for us.

What’s the Problem with the Song?

A few days ago we were out to lunch with some friends and this song came up in the conversation. One person, someone who is very discerning made a clear explanation of what’s wrong with this song. She simply said, “It doesn’t offer any hope.” She’s right. Let me explain.

This song doesn't offer any hope. Click To Tweet

The Hopeless Lyrics

Here is the chorus of the song:

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and Ill bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us?
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together.

Now let me throw in a bit of scripture:

So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:10

It sounds to me like we were meant to be complete. We were meant to be complete! Click To Tweet Now I realize that as Christians we all go through times of brokenness and loss. I know that it takes time to heal after such events. But to declare, “The only way we’ll last forever is broken together” is to deny the ability of God to bring wholeness to us individually and as a couple. In addition it makes it seem like your marriage will ALWAYS be difficult and painful and you’ll never be satisfied and happy together. Is that the story you want for your marriage? Decades of brokenness and pain? If that was what you truly believed you might be looking for a way out.

The Truth

The truth is that no married couple has to expect to be “broken together” in order to “last forever”. Let’s get some words from Jesus:

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

That doesn’t sound like being “broken together” to me. Jesus came to bring us a “rich and satisfying life” or in another translation, for us to have life and to have it “abundantly”. Finally, in Luke 4:18 Jesus quotes from the prophet Isaiah including the line that He was sent, “to heal the brokenhearted“.

So is true that “the only way we’ll last forever is to be broken together“? No, and if people believe that then they very likely won’t last forever.

Do you agree? Disagree? Please let me know in the comments!

Love you all!

-Troy