Category Archives: Happier Husband

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

It’s Not Your Path

Hey all, just a bit of housekeeping. We’ve been experimenting with doing blog posts on Monday and Tuesday, but that doesn’t seem to be the best schedule. Therefore starting next week we will be moving to a Monday and (likely) Friday format. Any comments welcome!

Now on to today’s post!

weightsPhoto By Adrian Clark via StockPholio.com

There is this guy…

I have a friend that I encounter fairly regularly at the gym. His name is irrelevant, but let me tell you, the guy is built like he was chiseled out of marble. It’s pretty crazy. He looks like a male model. In fact he WAS a male model, sent around the world be a well known clothing company to show off their clothing line. Wherever he traveled he was swarmed by all kinds of adoring teenage girls.

We are not in the same league

If you read my blogs much or know me personally then you’ve learned that I run a fair amount and I also work out at the gym. But my friend? He makes me look a 90 pound weakling. Yeah, he’s got it and I SO don’t. It’s just not fair.

The other day…

A few days ago we were chatting, while he was working on his pecs by moving what must have been the equivalent weight of a medium sized Redwood tree. He asked me a question, “So what are you training for?” At the time I was about two weeks out from my upcoming race and I replied, “I’m running a half marathon.” He asked “How far is that?” I responded, “13.1 miles.”

Everything changed

He looked at me and said two sentences that completely changed my point of view. His words? “I could not do that. I would die.” There I stood, completely awed with his hard work and dedication, with his sheer strength and yet he let me know in no uncertain terms that what I was about to do was beyond his ability.

From my perspective running a half marathon was a challenge, but very doable. In fact I had already run the distance in training. So to me it wasn’t incredibly impressive. But to him it was almost inconceivable.

Divergent paths

What I was reminded of that day that I’m not in competition with my friend. I'm not in competition with my friend. Click To Tweet In fact we are on completely different paths. We didn’t have the same goals and beyond wanting to be in shape we had very little in common. But make no mistake, I am in a competition…and so are you.

Just a little more

You are on a unique path. If you are married then you have most things in your life in common with your spouse, but even then you have your own gifts and talents to be shared.  Go grab a mirror. You are your only competition. This isn’t about fitness or health necessarily, but it is about self improvement in life. Every day each of us needs to be a little better than the day before. Every day each of us needs to be a little better than the day before. Click To Tweet We need to find an area and resolve to do what it takes to grow. Look at your life. Is there an area where you’ve been stagnant for a period of time? Then it’s time to take a small step, to begin or restart the process of growth. You don’t want to look back in 5 years and still be exactly where you are today. Take a little action today, then just a little more tomorrow and pretty soon you’ll be amazed where God has led you.

You can do it! Let me know in the comments what small step you are going to take!

-Troy

An Unexpected Benefit

About 9 months ago I published a post titled “22 Years of Failure.” If you haven’t read that post (or don’t remember it well) then I believe your marriage would strongly benefit by giving it a fresh look. Today’s post builds on the theme of praying together as a couple…by pointing out an unexpected benefit.

 

 

The Good News

According to Dr. David Stoop, a psychologist and family counselor with over 35 years of experience and referencing a study by the National Council on Marriage Enhancement, “less than 1% of couples that pray together would end up getting a divorce.” That is GREAT news! It’s gets me excited to know that simply praying together is amazing insurance for your marriage.

The Sobering Numbers

But that’s not the whole story. Dr. Stoop notes that among Christian couples it is estimated that only 4% pray together daily. Even among couples who are pastors the numbers are only around 6%. These are terribly sad statistics. 94% or more of Christian couples are not praying together regularly. I won’t go into this part much more, because we didn’t pray together regularly ourselves, for the first 22 years of our marriage. But we learned the truth about prayer in marriage pray together nearly every night.

94% or more of Christian couples are not praying together regularly. Click To Tweet

Why Pray Together?

Beyond what we see in the statistics why is praying together important? I pray on my own, it draws my closer to God. When I pray alone I pray for my wife. Why should we pray together as well? Let me ask a question. Have you ever been with someone when they prayed for you? How does it make you feel? Humbled for sure, but besides that. Loved, cared for, appreciated, appreciative, thankful and even joyful? When someone prays for you in your presence it is a special moment. When you pray with your spouse daily then you daily give them that special moment. It’s pretty amazing.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
-Matthew 18:20

Getting Closer

Prayer draws us closer to God and allows God to draw closer to us.  In drawing closer to God it allows us to better hear His Spirit and direction. From a practical standpoint praying brings God more into our everyday activities. We become more aware of Him, His purposes and plan.

Getting Closer to Your Spouse

Shared prayer draws us closer together to each other. When we pray together not only do we pray for each other, but we hear each others prayers for others and life events. We learn more about each other when we pray together. Praying together adds another level of intimacy to our marriages.

Praying together adds another level of intimacy to our marriages. Click To Tweet

The Unexpected Benefit

In closing let me give you a very real life change that I’ve seen over the last year plus that we have prayed together regularly. We talk more. After praying we will sometimes stay up for a while longer discussing deeper issues in our hearts. We will open up more about where we feel God leading us, about our hopes and dreams. This has spilled over into the same types of discussions even outside of our prayer times. Since we have been praying together we have spent a lot more time talking about what is in our hearts. It’s wonderful!

So let me encourage you to either start or renew praying with your spouse. It takes relatively little time but leads to many benefits…some of which may surprise you.

Love you all!

-Troy

Girls and Skin

Sometimes my lovely bride jumps in with a post. Today is one of those days that you get to enjoy. Her post is incredibly practical and NOT what you are expecting….but it’s an issue a lot of folks (gals and guys) experience. Enjoy!

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Enter Sally:

This may be a little different than the usual Tuesday topics, but you know, that’s what Tuesday is a wild card, right? This topic may be more for the women, but there are probably some men who have dealt with it too. My father had skin allergies and I known men and women who have suffered from rosacea and other skin conditions.

A Little Background

I (Sally) have had allergies for as long as I can remember. When I was a toddler, my mother would have to buy special soap for me because I would break out in rashes from the typical baby soaps used. There was no allergy testing performed, they just told her to buy a particular soap and use it and it worked.

As I grew older though, I started to want to choose my own soaps and shampoos. I used perfumes and lotions just like everyone else.  I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup and my acne was so bad that as a young teen, I started trying to cover it up with talcum powder I found in the bathroom. My mother found out and finally bought me my first face powder. It helped a little, but was just masking the issues. Eventually she took me to a dermatologist who prescribed some kind of cream to apply to my skin. It burned my face so bad that it actually started coming off in large chunks. I was red like a lobster and totally embarrassed. I remember going to a concert at the Fox Theatre with our teen group when it was at the worst point. The doctor decided it was too strong for me…ya think?

What I Have Discovered

So for years I have tried different products trying to balance out my skin. Eventually as an adult, I went to see a different dermatologist, and he determined that I have rosacea.  Before prescribing a medication for that, he insisted on doing skin allergy testing. I had already had this done several times previously for airborne allergies, but this was new. I found out that I am allergic to something called Balsam of Peru. You would think this would be helpful, but no product that I have ever seen actually says   ‘Balsam of Peru’ in the ingredients list. This is because it comes in many forms and has many chemical names (see https://www.truetest.com/PatientPDF/Balsam-of-Peru-Patient-Info.pdf).

I started reading labels. I tried products that were hypoallergenic or labeled ‘free and clear.’  I was told that Clinique would be perfectly fine for me to use and would help. They have a redness line that I used for years and it seemed to help a little, but my dryness and redness never went away. I tried the extra moisturizing night creams, but there was something in there that make me get small rashes on my face and neck. So I went back to just the basics and have dry skin.  In the last year and a half, I have had random hives appear on my face and have decided it is time to try something new because clearly, this is NOT working.

I Know You Want To Help, But…

Before you start sending me links to the latest skin care miracle, let me say that I have tried several that were supposed to be toxin free and they still seem to irritate my face. Also, if you went to the link above, it warns me to stay away from essential oils.

I have started researching natural remedies and pinning many things to my Pinterest boards. My first step is that I am beginning to wash my face and moisturize with coconut oil. It sounds crazy, but it is very soothing. Some of the benefits of coconut oil are that it is antimicrobial, retains moisture and delays aging. I am all for that! I have not gotten the right balance yet, but I am working on it. I will also be adding some vitamin E oil into the regimen. I have heard so much good things about both.  I hope to be able to make a mixture that is easy to travel with and actually does what I need it to.

In Conclusion

Life is about trial and error. I am hoping that soon I will start to see good results from what I am doing. If you have had this allergy and dealt with it successfully, please share what you have found! If you don’t suffer from allergies and can wear perfumes, scented body lotions and use the latest hair products to make your hair stay where you put it, be sure to thank God above.  😉

Hopefully I will have some good updates in the near future!

Blessings!

Sally

 

Agree on the Ground Rules

I’m a fun person and people tend to appreciate my sense of humor (at least I think they do…but now I’m afraid to ask :-)). But I am NOT a fan of practical jokes.

practicaljoke
Photo By Lenore Edman via StockPholio.com

On April 1st Sally and I were chatting about the fact that it was April Fool’s Day. I said, “I won’t be doing any April Fool’s Jokes today. I don’t do practical jokes because I don’t want to be on the receiving end.” She said, “I love that about you.”

The Ground Rules

One things that all couples need to consider is what are the ground rules? Throughout any marriage you will frequently encounter the same situations, or at least ones of a similar nature. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

With what family will we spend holidays?
How much money will we give, save and spend?
Where will we go to church? Will we go to church?
Do we tease each other? How far is too far in teasing?
How much time do we spend together? How much time do we spend alone?

That’s just the beginning.

Why is This Important?

Sometimes when couples have difficulty it’s often not one large issue. It’s a hundred little things that drive couples apart. It's a hundred little things that drive couples apart. Click To TweetThose hundred little things are the result of differences in expectations. When my wife expects one thing in my behavior and I do something else she experiences disappointment or emotional pain. If I pick on her to where I still think it’s funny but to her it is belittling then we have a disconnect. Why does this happen? Why do we have different expectations? Because in one or more areas we haven’t established ground rules.

Moving Towards a Happier Marriage

Sally has an expectation that I won’t play any practical jokes on her. I know that and I will meet that expectation. I follow the ground rules. Over the years some ground rules have been specifically defined (such as where we spend holidays), some are understood based on our knowledge of each other and many have adjusted. Ground rules may be tweaked as necessary but only as long as both of us are in agreement. A happy marriage includes adherence to the ground rules. A happy marriage includes adherence to the ground rules. Click To Tweet

When you find yourselves in conflict over an issue then it’s time to ask, “What are the ground rules?” If you don’t have them for this situation then it’s time to work them out.

Love you all!

-Troy

Sick Time

Hey all, just wanted to let you know that the Happier Husband household has been going through some sickness issues…and it’s the kind of sick that won’t allow any real concentration.

We hope to be all back to normal next week.

Thanks for understanding!

-Troy

Remember Day 1

I’m going to help you out. Would you like a quick way to decrease stress, increase joy and make difficult day or season more pleasant? No drugs required.

wedding1

What is Day 1?

Remember Day 1? Perhaps I should be more specific (although if you don’t get it from the picture…). Day 1 is your wedding day! It’s Day 1 because if was the first day of your married life together. The day two became one.

Remember the Joy of Day 1

For most of you (I hope) your wedding day was filled with friends and family coming to enjoy the celebration of you and your spouse joining together in marriage. It was likely a day with some stress…I know ours was, we almost had a full on cage match between a couple of relatives, but when you look back it was an incredibly happy day. Remember the gazes of love you shared as you made your vows. Remember the beauty of your mutual commitment. Remember the excitement of the first kiss as a married couple.

Remember the Humor of Day 1

Did you have something funny that happened on your wedding day? We had our fair share of anecdotes. Here are a couple.

We were married in Michigan in May and it was warm. We held the reception in Sally’s old high school gym which lacked the comfort of air conditioning. Our wedding on the cheap so my mom was taking care of serving out the wedding cake. Just behind my mom was an open door for air flow. Do you know what happens in the evening when you have an open door into a lighted room in Michigan in the summer? Yep, my mom didn’t appreciate being swarmed by mosquitoes.

A little later Sally and I were digging through the cards on our way to the hotel after the reception to find enough cash for the first night of our honeymoon. Yeah, that happened…we were poor! But it was an amazing day and we were rich in love. Looking back is such a pleasure!

weddinglaugh

Hey! What About The Decreased Stress Stuff?

Did you know that stress is not part of the world? Did you know that stress is not part of the world? Click To Tweet It’s truly not. The feeling of stress is a psychological (and sometimes physical) reaction to life circumstances, either real or imagined. Stress is not caused by what is happening in our lives. Stress is our reaction. In fact in most circumstances we are stressed about things that either never happen or have already happened. It has been demonstrated that 85% of things we worry about never happen or turn out neutral. I could tell you therefore not to stress out. I don’t know if that would be very helpful. However if stress is caused by worry and worry is psychological then…

A Little Trick

When you hit those difficult moments or days I want you to do a simple exercise. Remember Day 1. Take a few minutes and replay the joy of that day in your mind. See the sight of your spouse ready to give his or her life commitment to you. Smell the flowers and candles. Hear again those amazing words, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” When you Remember Day 1 everything else becomes minor and temporary. God put the two of you together for a purpose. God put the two of you together for a purpose. Click To Tweet Regularly returning to the beginning will bring back the focus AND allow you to relax. One other suggestion, bust out the wedding album and check out the pictures together. Have fun reliving that day. Then remember, no matter what happens you are a team together with the Lord and He is on your side!

Love you all!!

-Troy

One Shot

When our kids were little it seemed like we had all the time in the world with them. but they aren’t little anymore, one is out of the house and the other is in school and about to be married. The time flew by and we didn’t really realize we had just One Shot.

clock Photo By Alice Popkorn via StockPholio.com

Welcome to Life

Welcome to life. You and I are here on this planet for a limited time, then we go into eternity with those that have passed on before. According to my belief system some will go to spend eternity with God and some will not. But everyone has the choice to be with God for eternity. Those who don’t made the choice to not do so, it’s as simple as that.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
-Romans 10:9

Not a Sermon

This post is not a sermon about religion or Christianity, but if you’d like to talk I’ll be happy to communicate with you one on one. Never forget that what you do in this life controls what happens in the next.

One Shot

In your marriage you have One Shot. It doesn’t matter if this is your first marriage, second, third or more. You still only have One Shot. Now, I know that angry words, infidelities and mistreatment can all be forgiven. If you are married to a person who has a heart of grace the relationship can be restored. But there will come a point where it ends.

The End

The ability to be forgiven by your spouse ends with either death or divorce.The ability to be forgiven by your spouse ends with either death or divorce. Click To Tweet As we know divorce should never be an option. In fact the vast majority of marriages don’t end in divorce. But one way or another all marriages end. Just like your children will eventually be grown and out of the house, so will your marriage eventually be over. You only have One Shot.

One Shot for What?

You have One Shot to keep the promises you made at the wedding ceremony, you have One Shot to be the best possible husband or wife to your spouse, you have One Shot to give her or him the life they deserve. Is forgiveness available? Yes, but only until the marriage ends. You and I have no idea when one we will leave this life. Which means you and I have no idea when we have had our Last Chance to make the most of our marriage.

Don’t Wait

Don’t wait until the kids are grown to spend quality time with your spouse. Don’t wait until things slow down at work to take her one a vacation with just the two of you. Don’t wait to start showing her more love and affection. Don’t wait to read the book or listen to the podcast or go to the marriage retreat to make your marriage amazing. Don't wait to do whatever you can to make the most of your marriage for your spouse. Click To Tweet

You only have One Shot…then it’s over.

Don’t Wait.

Love you all!

-Troy