The last post was pretty heavy. This should be better. I hope.
During the course of our marriage intensive, I discovered that I was no fun. Worse than that, I had gotten to the point where I couldn't even smile at my wife. I had become a tyrant at home, constantly angry or distracted. I was no fun. Meanwhile, my wife is affectionately known as Miss Sunshine. She is still the most pleasant, happy, positive, outgoing, fun loving lady you would ever meet. I was a butthead.
We started out like most couples. Dates, parties, random comical adventures. Fun stuff. I spent countless hours with her. Just getting to know her. Trying to understand her. Enjoying every minute with her. Gradually, I got weighed down with daily life, bills, work, church, etc. Add to that ambition and a short attention span, along with the standard dysfunctional excuses most of the guys from my generation have. Getting stupider every day. My attitude went gradually downhill for years. "After all, I was out there busting my hump to support my family, that's a lot of pressure. They didn't appreciate all that I did. They didn't respect me. I deserved to be treated better. I went to work every day for more unappreciative, aggravating liars and promise breakers. They didn't do right for me."
Seriously. That was the kind of monologue running through my head like a news feed. Why do we, men, need every thought in our head to contain "me, my, mine, I, etc.?" Really? If you can go through your mind and poke out your "I" it will change your world. Selfishness and self centeredness is not a fun attitude. Remember your childhood days on the playground? Who wants to play with the kid who always has to be first, or hog the ball, or make the rules or constantly talk about everyone else? Or, maybe the right question is, were you that kid? Are you that kid now?
I was that kid with the short fuse. The one who didn't really fit in with any one group. I had some really good friends over those years, but very few hung out with my other friends. Still like that with friends, weird. Anyway, I always felt like I had to prove myself, always on the defensive, always had that heart on my sleeve and a chip on my shoulder. Dang. Still kinda like that, too. Working on it.
All that crap seemed to just go away when we started dating. She satisfied me, completed me. She became the focus of my energy and attention. I was free to have fun with her. Well, that lasted until we cleared the parking lot after the wedding. Then I started back on being that pissed off kid. Didn't happen all at once. But, according to her, by the end of our first year. So she had about 20 years of misery with a jerk who quit being fun.
So, have I fixed it all? Am I Mr. Fun and Games all the time. Heck no. I have a long way to go. I dug a deep hole and it take a while to get out, but I am in motion. It's almost like training an old dog. Those habits are virtually permanent, but they can change. ( Old dogs require more treats and training to change... It moves faster that way.... In case any wives are reading.... Hint, hint )
It feels very unnatural at first, like acting. I felt like a liar at first, making myself smile and doing things that I didn't really want to do. But men change from the outside in. We make new habits and repeat them until it becomes the new normal. ( Seriously, read Joel and Kathy's books to really understand this. I can only take you so far, they are the real experts on saving marriages. Click here ASAP to go there. You can order books and schedule a marriage retreat right there. And... They don't pay me for this, but I owe my family to their work. )
It was May of 2011 when I talked to Joel the first time. Since then, we have come a long way. Saw the divorce papers in November of 2011. She gave me a card for my birthday in November of 2012 that said I was "all that she wants and more than she deserves." That's a long way. It started with a smile. She needed me to have fun with her again.
I am still learning and it still doesn't feel completely natural yet. The effect is undeniable, she needed to laugh and play. She wanted me to be a part of her world and the fun she has. Why did I resist it? How stupid could I be? The perfect woman wanted to play and laugh with me, what idiot resists that?
Figure out what your wife enjoys and do that. Find ways to make her smile. You don't always have to be the big hero or her champion, sometimes a smile or corny joke is what she needs. Try it.