Husbands, Keep Up the Good Work

Christian Marriage

I was walking through Walmart today and looking at all the Valentines Day paraphernalia on sale for over 50% off and was shocked at the variety to choose from. The entire center row was filled with cute cards, chocolates, gift baskets, balloons, bears, an every other “symbol” of romance. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to contemplating returning later and stocking up for next year.

Walmart, Target, and all the rest are desperately trying to get rid of all their over-stock material. They’ll put things on sale for up to 75% off. Some may say that their hoping for a better profit, but I’m choosing to believe that they’re hoping that some of us men are daring enough to keep the “Valentine spirit” past February 14. Unfortunately, way too many men won’t.

To those of us who look past February 14 and want woo our wives 365 days of the year, I say… just keep up the good work! Don’t limit your gift giving to birthdays and holidays. Don’t fear “spoiling” your wife. She deserves it.

So how are you doing at keeping up the good work? Here’s three things to remember when “wooing your wife”:

Keep speaking her love language!

Most of us know that we each have our very own language in which we speak and hear (feel) love. If you don’t know your spouses love language be sure to check out Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages

Although it’s always great to try new things out and surprise your wife, be sure you’re still speaking HER love language. If you don’t, you can spend a lot of time trying to tell her you love her only to have it fly right past.

Keep meeting her emotional needs!

We’ve heard it said time and time again that “love is a choice”, but what choice do you need to make. Maybe you’re going to need to forgive. Maybe you’re going to need to become more assertive. Whatever your choice is make sure you’re focusing on meeting her emotional needs. Marriages become stale when we focus on our needs and not the needs of our spouse. You’re wife has certain emotional needs. She needs you to connect with her there. (BTW- Wives, husbands have these needs too – they just try not to talk about them) All the wooing in the world will go nowhere if you’re not meeting their emotional needs.

Keep doing the right thing!

Love is splendid thing! Too many times we just get too busy. We allow the craziness of life to take over. We allow our good intentions to be hijacked by…life. Guys, don’t allow it. Keep up the good work. Write notes. Keep your date nights going. Take vacation days. Choose your wife over something else. Keep doing the RIGHT things.

12 Dates for Christmas

Guess what I got for Christmas this year? Here’s my wife explaining one of the coolest gift I’ve ever received – Enjoy!

Christian Marriage

Right before Christmas, I was having my hair done. My sweet hairstylist of 2 years who just recently got married asked me, “So what are you getting Joseph for Christmas. “ Me, “Ummmmmm….so far….warm, thick winter socks and a stainless steel compost bin.” Oh my lands….yes, after 17 years of marriage, the only thing I had gotten him so far, but mind you he asked for them… SOCKS and a COMPOST BIN! I laughed. She laughed. Then I asked her, “So what are you getting yours?”

My hairstylist in cute giddy young married voice, “12 DATES FOR CHRISTMAS!” Me: “Darn it…you are good!”

Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to put a little something more into your marriage. So you know what I did. Spent the next 2 weeks running around getting Joseph “12 DATES FOR CHRISTMAS”. Why Yes I did. This idea was spot on and perfect and exactly what we needed for our marriage this year. I already knew his work schedule has been a little busier than normal lately. As his wife, I knew I needed to have that on my radar and intentionally pour into us.

This was so incredibly fun to do. Yes, it required some creativity and running around on my part, but it actually refreshed me and made me even more excited to go out with him this year!

I picked 12 Dates, bought giftcards, and wrote a little song poem to go with each of them on 12 separate cards. I looked it up on pinterest and there are already premade cards on there for “12 Dates for Christmas”. Who knew! “There is nothing new under the sun!” I made my own starting like this, but if you are not the creative type, you are in luck!

“On the first date of Christmas, your sweet wife gave to you…”

So if you are looking for a fun way to pour into your marriage this year, I encourage you to do this…maybe for Valentine’s Day, a Birthday, or your Anniversary!

Keeping the Center Thing the Center Thing

Christian Parenting

I just heard Daniel Pink (TED speaker and best selling author of the books  “Drive” and “To Sell is Human”) say “I needed to make my side thing my center thing”. It got me thinking. For those who really know me, know that I can’t ever do just one thing. I always have about 100 projects going on. Look at me right now, I’m a pastor. I’m a speaker. I’m a counselor. I run this Marriage and Family site. I go weekly into the prison and encourage the brothers there. I get out of the country every chance I can, because at my very core I bleed missions. Oh yea, and on top of that I’m a husband and a father of 6 kids.

So how does that work? How do you keep all these “side things” in focus. Which one gets the most attention? Which ones are considered work? Which ones are just plain fun? The answer to all of these is simple. Each one gets my undivided attention when it’s needed. Each one of these “side things” are both work and fun. Each one has it’s unique challenges and rewards.

So which one of these side things is my “center thing”? None of them!

You heard me right. None of them.

The center thing is honoring Christ. The center thing is serving him unconditionally. In my family we call it “Living Lives Owned by God”. You see, when Christ is truly your center it effects how you work, play, plan, and lead. As soon as one of my “side things” become more important than unconditionally serving God… it’s time for that side thing to go.

God has called me and gifted me to do all these things above. As long as He continually gives me opportunity to do them, I will. When he feels as though there’s a better guy to go into the jail on Thursday mornings, He’ll let me know and I’ll move on to the next thing.

Where are you called? What “side things” compete for the center position in your life? What does it mean for you to be “Owned by God”?

10 Key Components to a Happy Marriage During this Holiday Season

Christian Marriage

The pressure is on! The in-laws are coming in for Thanksgiving… or maybe you’re heading to their place and you know it’s going to be tough. You’re going to need to be on your best behavior. The tension is slowly rising as the “Big Day” approaches. You want the kids to be obedient. You want to make it through your meal “incident” free. No fighting. No nagging, and please Lord, don’t let (so-and-so) say anything about what we’re wearing or why we haven’t spoken to them since last Christmas.

If this is where you are as you head into the Holiday, I want to encourage you to hang tough. I want to help lower the pressure a little. I want to encourage you to enjoy this season by not taking it out on your spouse, but instead focus on keeping your marriage healthy.

Here’s 10 Components to a Happy Marriage During this Holiday Season.  

Humility

Nobody is perfect. Don’t expect it. Don’t try to attempt it!

Honesty

Allow your spouse the freedom to be honest. If your family is driving your spouse crazy… let them express that to you (privately) without fear of you becoming defensive.

Unconditional Love 

Unconditional means, “there’s nothing you can do to make me love you any less and there’s nothing you can do to make me love you any more”. Choose to love each other during this time! Flaws and all.

Forgiveness

“Love covers a multitude of sins” – don’t forget to say “I’m sorry” when you mess up and be quick to forgive.

Humor

Just remember that in 20 years…everything is much funnier. So do the best you can to just enjoy each moment (even the tense ones).

Sex

Hey… it’s just helps!

Open Communication

Don’t assume anything. The majority of hurt comes from unfulfilled expectations. Never is this truer than during the holiday season. If you’re expecting to arrive at a certain time and leave at a certain time – get that clear. If certain topics are “out of bounds” make sure your spouse is aware of this.

Shared Purpose

When you’re on the same page as to why your there… it’s easier to stay on the same team. (What’s the reason for the season in your family?)

Friendship

Just because you’re busy shopping, cooking, planning, wrapping, eating etc. doesn’t give you and excuse to stop dating. Keep the friendship healthy all winter long.

A Common Enemy

No, the enemy is not your in-laws! The enemy is the propensity to lose sight of what really matters. Keeping this season a season of thanksgiving takes effort. It takes an effort to “count your blessings” every day. When you find yourselves getting frustrated with one another, stop and remember to not lose your focus. Keep “The Grinch” as the common enemy and not each other.

What kinds of things do you “need to remember” as you enter into the Holiday season?

3 Things Every Spouse Can Do to Make Business Trips Easier for the One Left Behind.

Christian Marriage

So you probably figured out by now that I took the week off last week. Last Wednesday I flew to Mexico City on a planning trip with our Missions Pastor. We were planning a High School mission trip scheduled for the summer of 2014. All I can say is that we’re going to have one great trip for High School students and leaders coming up this summer!

So naturally, when I’m gone my wonderful wife has to fly solo for the week…8 days to be exact. (I’m sure she’ll appreciate the mention of the extra day) Although I only do this type of trip a few times a year, it’s tough to fly solo with six kids. Although I’m not always great at it, I do try my best at making her time as easy as possible while I’m gone.

Here’s 3 things every spouse can do to make business trips easier for the one left behind.

Leave Well

No fighting – This can be pretty tough for many of us. You need to be sure that the last couple days before your departure is filled with serving your spouse, making sure they have all their needs met like gas in the car, groceries, ect. and of course, I always recommend a good datenite the night before. Fighting is not an option. It’s just not good to leave upset.

Stay in Communication

Although this is not always possible, be sure to call, Skype, email, or text while your gone. When you stay in contact you remind your spouse that you’re thinking about them and miss them. It helps. If you can’t communicate, try writing little notes ahead of time and place them in special places around the house, in their jacket pocket, or something like that. Again, it just shows that you care and are willing to go the extra mile.

Come Home Ready for Duty

More than likely, you’re coming home to a very tired spouse. They’re probably starved for attention, adult conversation, rest, and peace… and guess what? It’s your job to do your best to provide them. I understand that you’re probably tired from travel and a very busy week, but nonetheless, you need to be sure to do your very best to serve your spouse a little extra on arrival.

Travel can be tough on the relationship. I’ll be honest with you; I don’t know how some of you do it. My challenge to you is this: Whether you travel a couple times a year like me or every other week like any others, be sure to do it well and be sure you remember the one you just left behind. I’m sure they’ll appreciate any help and encouragement you have to offer before, during, and after the trip.

*One more thing I must mention: My wife is amazing! Her ability to function without outside help is second to none! These suggestions are always only my attempt to make her week a little better. I don’t do them because she needs it… I do it because I love her and many times it’s just that thought that counts!