Married Mondays – Plans

plans letter pressWelcome back to another edition of  Married Mondays.

We all make plans.  Before marriage we plan out our career, our future wedding, our future life, we plan what we think that person we marry will be like and who it will be.  We plan in our heads what they will look like, how the engagement will happen, we plan that she will say yes…  We get married and we plan our lives together, we plan for a house, we plan for family.  We plan to do ______ when we have ______.  We plan for the whens.

But what happens to the IFs.  Many times the IF is the negative part of the process.  We never really look or think about the “what ifs” in life.  When you are working together as a team to “plan” for life, you have to look at the what if scenarios; What if one of us lost our job, what if we can’t have kids, what if we fight, what if a job requires us to move…  These are the plans that you never want to talk about.  These are the plans that will do one of two things when they have to be discussed, they will bring you closer together or pull you apart.

makes you stronger
No one wants to sit around and plan for these what ifs but making sure that you are together is the biggest part of these plans.  Making plans for life and what you want to do, finding the vision of you what you both want out of your marriage and

Working together, communicating, and staying honest are they ways that you will be able to get through anything.  No matter what life throws at you, working together and keeping a strong faith in God, trusting God and trusting each other, you will be able to make it through.

work it out together

Married Mondays – Trust

Happy Monday everyone, and welcome back to another edition of Married Mondays.  This week, I want to talk about trust.  Trusting your spouse is not complacency or naivete.  Trust is not control or guilt.  Trust in a marriage is knowing that you are both looking out for the interest of the team.  You are taking care of your marriage, you are doing the things that you promised to do when you took your marriage vows.

When you begin thinking, “Oh that could never…” or “we don’t have to worry about that…” you run the risk of becoming complacent.  You run the risk of your spouse not knowing that you know they are worth fighting for.  You can more easily loose the spark in your relationship, when you become complacent.

Trust, to be is being open and honest with your spouse.  It comes back to communication.  Even the small things that are going on make sure that your spouse knows.  We all think differently about things.  Take this for example:

“Honey it’s me. I don’t want to alarm you but I was hit by a car as I was leaving the office. Paula brought me to the hospital. They have checked me over and done some tests and some x-rays.

The blow to my head was severe. Fortunately it did not cause any serious internal injury.However I have three broken ribs, a compound fracture in the left leg, and they think they may have to amputate my right foot.

Wife’s Response:    “Who is Paula?

Or this video:

 

But in all seriousness, in thinking about the Christmas story in the Bible and the events that led up to Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, there was some true trust in each other and trust in God.  A firm trust in God and what He has for you and your marriage, will push out any distrust between you.  The more you trust God the more you will trust each other and all of those in your life.

Matthew 1:18-24

18This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
19Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
20As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
21And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
24When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.
Trusting in God and trusting in each other, are the pillars that a marriage and your life should be built upon.  Let me also say that trust is not something to be abused.  If there are trust issues in your relationship, work to resolve them.  Trust issues and fights will break down your marriage, they will break you down as a person.  Not to be corny but, Honesty is the best policy, is truth. You are a team, you are together one person, you should have no secrets from each other.  If you scroll though your spouses camera roll/text messages/emails/(insert social media stream here), you shouldn’t be surprised by what you see.
Work with each other, talk out any issues that you have, with cool heads.  Listen to each other, fight for each other not against each other.  If you need to rebuild that trusting relationship.  Don’t hold past issues in the way of rebuilding that trust.  Yes broken trust is hard to repair but it’s not impossible unless you make it impossible.
This week, talk with your spouse.  Make sure that they know that you feel that your marriage is worth fighting for.

Married Mondays – Old School

Over the past few weeks, I know that I have repeatedly, wrote about shutting off your devices and spending good old fashioned quality time with your spouse and loved ones.  This week I want to step past just talking about things to do with your spouse and hit on things to do as a family.

As we get further into the holiday season, take time to focus on what truly matters most.  Many of us just finished up Thanksgiving, and still have days worth of left overs.  Many of us went out for Black Friday sales on Thursday and through the weekend, and many more of us will be spending time going through all of the Cyber Monday/Cyber Week deals.  These aren’t the things that matter.  What truly matters is looking at what you can do as a family to touch those around you.  Maybe, as a family, you can start a tradition of doing Operation Christmas Child(a little late for this one now,) Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, or working with one of the many other charities out there.  As a family we have made it a point to do something every year.  For less than you would spend on junk that you don’t need, you can use that on someone else.  We tend to fill our lives with stuff, and we retreat to our STUFF to make us Happy, but then we just need the newest thing, or the thing that is better than someone else’s.  And we get stuck in a cycle of want.  Let’s put it in perspective, the phone that many of you are reading this on, will cost you over $600 ($10-30/month at a time.)  If you feel that you can use that same phone for a year longer, what could you do for someone else, for another family, for someone in another county.  As a family take a moment to do something for someone else.  We are now a global community, from your house in the US, you can with a simple click, buy chickens for a family in another country.

This week’s title I took from the book my daughter is reading right now Diary of A Wimpy Kid : Old School.  It has taken her a little while to understand what it is really about.  From what I have seen of it so far is one of the things that I have been touching on over the past few weeks.  Stepping away from technology, actually communicating with words from your mouth, and enjoying what is around you.  Enjoying the outdoors, enjoying company, enjoying each other.

For our marriages and for our families, shutting down the electronics, and spending time playing, using your imagination, talking, and being present changes everything.  The past couple weeks, my wife and I have had the chance to just chill at the house after the munchkin has gone to bed.  It has been awesome to unplug, not watch a show or anything, but spend time together with the Christmas tree on.  We have been able to take this little bit of time to catch up with each other, and put into practice what I’ve been writing these past few weeks.

Also as we get further into the holiday season, I encourage you to make sure that you are taking time out as a couple and as a family, to refocus and rebalance your needs and wants.  Focus on the things that you can do together as a couple and/or as a family, that don’t involve the TV, computer, or game system.  Pull out an old board game, do something that requires imagination, and give them your full attention.  The worries of tomorrow can wait until tomorrow.  Don’t make you family, your spouse, your loved ones, compete for your attention. Go Old School, shut down and have family time.

Married Mondays — Communication is Key

communication

[kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuh n]
noun
1.the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated.
2.the imparting orinterchangeof thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.
3.something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted.

hearing

 [heer-ing]
noun
1.the faculty or sense by which sound is perceived.
2.the act of perceiving sound.

listen

[lisuh n]
verb (used without object)
1.to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear.
2.to pay attention; heed; obey
This week, I wanted to touch on something that I have been hinting out the past couple weeks.  One of the things that I feel give my wife and I a successful marriage is that we communicate with each other.  Communication, true communication is back and forth.  It is listening, and then responding.  You cannot respond properly if you haven’t listened to everything that is being said.
Now let’s be honest, the women in our lives will use words that we don’t understand and will say things in ways that we have to really pay attention.  Listen to her words, watch her actions, listen to her voice.  Does this look ok? and Does this LOOK ok? and How do I look? are not the same question, and an answer with the word fine, does not mean the same either.  It comes down to knowing the question that was asked versus the question you think was asked.  My wife had a co-worker at one time that would always answer that they thought they heard in the most intellectual way possible.  A simple question about the time could turn into a story about Swiss watch makers, and 15 minutes later you still didn’t know what time it was.
It comes down also to sometimes she is just going to need you to listen.  Sometimes you just need your spouse to listen to you.  I have always struggled with trying to find the answer or resolution half way through the story.  I’m planning my response not as a rebuttal to conversation, but as a way to work something out.  Guys STOP do this.  There are going to be things that we can’t fix.  There are going to be things that are going out that you don’t want a certain level of detail on.  When you are there as the ear to listen, the hand to hold, and the shoulder to support, sometimes that is all they need.  They don’t always need you to fix it.  Be there, be present, be a listener.  Some times they do want you to take action, just not always right then.
The other factor into all of this is vocabulary.  I included the definition of the work hear as well as listen, but I’ve been very careful not to use hear in this.  Hearing is only receiving the sounds, we hear the keys of the keyboard, we hear cars outside, we hear someone at the door.  We listen to music, we listen to our children, families, and spouses.  You also know over time what the proper vocabulary is for whatever mood you are both in.  As time goes on you learn when to just shut up and let them vent or stew.  Just make sure that you are there for all parts of the communication process.
Take this week, and again as I have said before, put the phone away, put down the game controller, put the computer away, wrap your arms around your loved one.  Ask them about their day, and be truly interested.

Married Mondays — The Elusive Mythical Date Night

Hey everyone and Happy Monday.  This week I want to talk about the elusive date night.  Let’s face it, life comes along and date nights get few and far between once you get married.  Now I don’t want this to be discouraging so just stay with me through this first part…

  1. The initial dating phaseonline-dating-header2
    1. You are on your best behavior, ALL of the time.
    2. You are still getting to know each other.
    3. You are spending time just the two of you
    4. You are spending time with friends
    5. You fall madly in love.
    6. You talk about everything and nothing for hours
  2. Engagementproposal
    1. You are in love and don’t care who knows it.
    2. You know and learn more about each other
    3. You go on private romantic dates
    4. You talk mainly about the upcoming wedding
    5. You unintentionally alienate your, not as close friends
  3. The Honeymoon Phase (The first year(s) of Marriage)Just Married
    1. You are involved with yourselves
    2. You spend hours upon hours talking about how much you love each other.
    3. You have a few close Friends that you still get together with
    4. You go out as much as possible at least a couple of times per week.
    5. You love each other and those around you are close to sick of hearing about it.
  4. The Career PhaseCouch couple
    1. You are both working hard on your careers trying to get things in line for a family.
    2. You go out when you can.  Usually just on the weekends
    3. You catch up with your friends if you can, but you don’t make as much effort
    4. You still spend as much time as you can with each other, but occasionally work gets in the way.
    5. Long nights of talking turn into binge watching shows while you finish up extra work or browse Facebook, or read some blog.
  5. The Family PhaseA-family-watching-TV-006
    1. Kids are now in the picture or on the way or both
    2. Life has gotten crazy.  Days, weeks, months, move faster
    3. You go out sometimes maybe.
    4. The big outing as a couple is a trip to the grocery store without the kid(s)
    5. You take the few hours that you have of grown up time to catch up on shows, reading, and to catch up with each other.

I could go on with lists but I won’t you all get the picture.

Where do you find yourself in this list?  It doesn’t matter where you find yourself, eventually you will hit one part of these lists or another.  This happened with my wife and I.  We realized one day that we hadn’t really done anything for ourselves for a while.  We started making sure that we at least got a weekend just us every few months.  You have to spend time working on your marriage.  It doesn’t matter how strong of a marriage you believe that you have, if you aren’t continually working on keeping in touch with the person in your bed at night, you’re not on the right track.

I fully understand how busy life can get.  Face it you have 3-4 hours of family time each day, you have 1-3 hours of spouse time, and 16 hours things to do after you’re 8 hour work day.  It seems impossible to make time for it all.  It takes A LOT of effort.  But anything worth anything isn’t easy.  It wasn’t easy at the start of the relationship getting to know each other, but you found time for each other.  Now that you’ve been together 2, 3, 7, 10, 20 years, are you still willing to put in the same time and effort?  I hope so.  Yes, dates are going to become few and far between once you have kids.  Make the effort to go out, by yourselves, start with once a month.  Go to a nice grown folks dinner, go out to a movie with real people as the actors, and DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go grocery shopping.  Any date that ends in the Wal-Mart/Kroger/(Insert Local Store here), is not a date.

And this if for the men reading this, make the effort.  Surprise her, do something you wouldn’t normally do.  She has dropped hints, at some point recently about something she would like to do, make it happen.  We are men, we are doers, even when you fail, if your plan is so jacked up, it will give you something to look back on and laugh about. To the women reading this.  We are men, we are doers, we are literal.  We are not going to pick up on the hints that you are dropping in small doses.  We need direction.  Don’t mention something 4 years ago in the middle of doing dishes after that one meal that we had, and expect us to remember in intimate detail.  We are going to let you down when we plan a date.  Sometimes we will knock it out of the park, but we will try.

Not every date has to be epic.  But you need to ensure that you are taking time for yourselves.  Go out for coffee and just sit and enjoy being with each other again.  Pick one thing that you used to do when you were dating, or engaged, or newly married and go do that. Take time to remember those things that you used to do before life got in the way.  Maybe your favorite date memories were riding around in the car talking with no real place to go, maybe you loved going out for coffee and desserts and reading a book together.  No matter what it was that brought you closer together and built that love that you have that used to drive everyone around you crazy when you were starry-eyed lovers, do the best that you can to go to that point again.

If you don’t know by now, my challenge for you this week – Go on a date.  Spend time together, as just a couple, catch up on each others lives even if it’s only for an extra couple of hours that you get together.

Be above the mix…

This past week, I had one of those moments where the most random thing just sparked an idea that I couldn’t shake.  “You need to be above the mix…”  I heard this in two different episodes of one of our favorite new shows, Empire.  Both times she was listening to a new track, and this was her suggestion, “be above the mix,” “Don’t hide behind the music.”

I just keep thinking of this in real life.  So many times in life we hide behind, what we want others to see and hear.  We are scared to stand out and be different.  To some comparing life to music production and songs, won’t make any sense, to others it’s going to click like it did for me.  When you listen to a number of today’s top songs, you will hear a lot of the same beats, you will hear the beats better than the lyrics, you hear words not lines.  Today songs come out, many sound the same, sale incredibly great, but the meaning is not there.  Songs are made to give people what they want to hear, they give that great beat to move to.

Many of us live our lives this exact same way.  We hide behind what we know others want to see or hear, we spend so much time doing what others want, we forget ourselves.  It’s the people who step up,  go above the mix, those that let their voice be heard, that speak clearly and with meaning and purpose, that are remembered.  These are the people who make a difference.

Are you willing to be above the mix and not hide behind the idea of who you are, but truly be you?  Are you willing to be the parent that says, my kid isn’t going to do that or I’m a parent not a friend?  Are you willing to be that husband that actually listens to his wife, that does the laundry and the dishes to give your wife a break?  Are you willing to be that friend, that slaps your best friend back to reality when they are just being plain stupid?  Are you willing to be that student, that stops the bully, that sets the example for the rest of the team, for the rest of the class?

Take just one day, and put yourself above the mix, put yourself above where others think you should be, and then prove why you should be there.  If you’re stuck in a hole, is up to you to grab the rope.  If your voice is far below the drum machine and the bass, you have to choose to move that fader up.  Others can put the equipment there, others can help only as much as you let them.  It is up to you to make the call to get it moving.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays…

Yeah, I realize I’m a couple of days late on sending out Christmas cards, or maybe I’m really early with my 2015 ones…

This year I hope that you had a great time with friends and family.  I know that for some, this Christmas and the entire holiday season was bittersweet.  Maybe you lost a loved one this year, maybe it’s been a few years without them and this time of year brings back memories, that are hard to deal with.  But now is the time to take comfort in the fact that they are in a better place, they are free from the pain and sicknesses that they were dealing with here.  It sucks for us, and I mean really sucks anytime we lose a loved one.

This is why as much as you can spend real-time with your loved ones.  An I ❤ U, text isn’t the same as taking 5 minutes out of your day to pick up the phone and call somebody to see how their day was and tell them that you are thinking about them.  Take some time also this Holiday season to think about how blessed you are and what you can do for someone else.  Little things that we can change in us, can change things for someone else.  Add an extra $5 or $10 to the tip at the restaurant, pay for the person behind you in the drive thru, buy a gift card for the person behind you in line at the store and just tell the cashier to use it.  It can take 30 seconds to change someones day, don’t do it to make you feel better, think about how you would feel rolling up to the Starbucks window and your order had already been taken care of.  Now pass that feeling along…

Make this a pay it forward Holiday, and see how it feels to give and not receive.  Take time out to spend with your kids, spouse, family, and friends.  Put away the electronics, and spend real-time together.  Your email will be there later, that Facebook post will be readable later, that tweet will be there later, that Pinterest pin will be on 5,000 other boards too.