Monday, April 29, 2013

The art of telling great lies

Yeah, I am gonna go there. I have gotten to spend some time with a young BS artist recently. He says whatever he thinks will get him the results he wants. Like most amateur con men, he's the only one who thinks he is getting away with it. We have all come to the point where we just assume he is lying about everything. Makes it easier to deal with him.
I have had to explain some of this to my kids recently, and to our aspiring politician. I grew up looking for ways to con people. I got really good at it. At 16 years old, I had convinced most of the local liquor stores in my hometown that I was 23. Never showed an ID, just talked a good game. Apparently I also have ogre in my blood, it helps when you can grow a solid mustache at 14. I went merrily along, pretty smug because I thought I was outsmarting everyone all the time. I fudged my way through school like that, too. Mostly. Until it kinda ran out and I gave up. Just walked out and quit high school at 16. Still blows my mind that at 16, I was even allowed to make a choice like that. My smooth talk just took me as far as it could, there were no results. My elaborate tree had no fruit.
There's this classic joke, has to go in here. Sorry about the language.
A turkey and a bull are standing in a pasture, next to a very tall tree. The turkey is sad, the bull asks why. Seems that all the turkey wants out of life, is to be able to fly to the top of that tree, but he can't do it. The bull informs him that his poop has magic powers that will lift him to the top. So, the turkey eats some bull poop and tried it. Goes way higher than ever before, but not high enough. So, the bull says he needs more and whips up a fresh batch. The turkey, uh, gobbles it up. Turns to the tree and flies straight up to the highest branch. He then turns to flap his wings and wave at the bull when a hunter blasts him out of the tree. The moral of the story? Bullshit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.
I figured out, early on how to mix in enough truth that most people would never be able to pick out the lie. Kinda like mixing a small dog turd into a batch of brownies. Who would really know? Might suspect something wasn't right, but couldn't really pick it out. The other magical thing I learned was how to convince myself first. See. If I believed my own garbage, it was much easier to convince someone else. So, to tell the great lies, I had to manipulate the truth into it to disguise it. Then I went over it in my mind until it wasn't just a possibility, it became real to me. Even I believed it.
It's hard watching people do this when I see the process. Right now, I am watching a very amazing young lady, get suckered in by this for at least the third time. Young guys, who probably have good intentions, have convinced her that they know what love is and that she should give herself to them. Always some guy she has known for a while. Always someone who knows her and enough about her to be trusted. Always someone who talks a good game. They are all going to get shot out of the tree. That BS cannot keep someone "in love" when there's no substance. Telling someone over and over that you loves them doesn't mean crap. Talking big on Facebook and telling the world you love them doesn't mean crap. Making big promises and playing someone's emotions like you have the intention of making their dreams come true.... Again.... Just crap. 
Ladies, may I offer a challenge. (Since I already figured out it's mostly ladies who read this anyway) put on some X-ray glasses and take a look through the poop.  I want you to compare yourself to a newborn baby for a minute. That baby is loved regardless of what it does. The parents have absolutely no benefit from this tiny, stinky wrecking machine than the joy of being part of it's life. The baby pukes on them, they just clean it up. The kid knocks Cheerios into the far reaches of the galaxy, parents clean it up. The kid blows out a diaper on the front walkway of the house, one that almost requires intervention from the EPA..... The parents clean it up. Still love that child. Still happy to hold it an care for it. Probably some sarcastic jokes about the messes, but never enough to consider letting it go. That's a pretty solid example of love. The parents, for the joy of having that child in their world, care for it with no real thought of how it benefits them. Really. The kid has no job, lays around all day, cries for everything, pouts when it doesn't get it's way, eats but never cooks or cleans, makes messes without ever touching a vacuum or washer.... We are still talking about the baby. Not your man. I hope. That's all fair from a baby, not an adult male. 
To the ladies, I say, don't put up with a guy like that, expect more. Don't put out for him either. The liars and mooches will move on to an easier target if the relationship has no benefit for them. To the guys, I say, don't be a jackass. Stop convicting yourself that it's ok to be a toddler. Love your wife without the immaturity of expecting her to respond or for everything to benefit you. 
And. To the single ladies out there. For cryin' out loud, stop letting every amateur con artist have your heart or your body. If they don't see you playing a little defense, they will go for the end zone every time. Don't just hear what they say, watch what they do. Skeptically. Protect yourself a little. Like I said, the best lies involve convincing yourself first. Just because a guy truly believes he is in love, doesn't mean he has any idea what that really is. 
One more time. Visit <a href="">Joel and Kathy</a> and read a little. Join their forums and find out what kind of junk people allow into their lives. See how much work it takes to put yourself back together after you allow some loser free reign to ruin your life. You deserve better. My wife and daughters deserve better than they have had. I am still learning and growing. Not hiding behind the BS anymore. Not waiting to see how any of these relationships benefit me. I love them because I love them. And just for the record, I have ZERO tolerance for any more losers interfering with any of my girls. Yes. That is a legitimate threat. Have a nice day. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I am going to pick a fight!

Might be crossing a line with this one. But, in the words of Mel Gibson pretending to be William Wallace.... "I'm going to pick a fight!"
There are three young ladies who mean the world to me. Oddly enough, they all look a lot like my bride. Wonderful girls with hearts of gold. Each one wonderful and unique, but enough alike that they become one single happy personality when you put them all together. Easy to love or fall in love with ladies like that.
They saw me at my worst. They saw my attitude become dark and caustic. They saw me transform into a monster. They know how our marriage started, how in love we were and what we have been through. They know what kind of butthead I became. Two of them have been through the crap with a guy like me. They started off like the perfect guy but changed after the wedding. (Go read my last few posts about all the reasons) They started off seeing these girls as who they wanted them to be. Beautiful, funny and potentially perfect trophy wives. The dating game didn't work out. It should have been a time to learn each other, but it wasn't. The guys didn't learn the girls, didn't take the time to understand them and their needs. The marriages were doomed by nice guys who talk good but don't listen. Pretty common problem. Like I told my girls, the big difference between you and me... At one time, I WAS a teenage boy. Yep. I know what goes on inside a guy's head. I was that guy who talked a good game but never really delivered. I was that jerk who told the girls whatever they wanted to hear. The guy who made promises he never intended to keep. (Sorry to the poor girls who expected more out of me back then) I am a recovering jackass.  Trust me, I am practically an expert on how guys operate. So, here's my challenge....
Not just to these three perfect ladies, but to any single ladies out there (Especially the ones who seem to be loser magnets.) I want you to test these guys. Size them up before you make any commitment to them. Think about it like an investment. You are about to commit to something that will affect the rest of your life. You don't buy a house or a car or even a cheeseburger without giving it some thought. Why would you jump into a relationship with someone who just gives you information without letting you negotiate the deal? Don't you shop around before buying a car? Don't you visit several houses before signing a contract? Don't you consider health ratings and the condition of the bathroom before deciding to eat that cheeseburger? One great piece of advice I got about investments. "The high majority of decisions are purely emotional. Emotional decisions are rarely good ones." Used car salesmen know about the "walk away." That customer who doesn't need to argue, or haggle or complain. They put an offer out there, state their case and shut up. If their offer isn't good enough, they just walk away and find someone who will meet their conditions. Don't be afraid to walk away. Don't sell yourself short and get stuck with a potential abuser. Filter out the losers. Being alone is probably better than neglected or abused.
So, test them. Here's the trick, don't EVER tell them it's a test. Ask for something and see if it happens. Mention what your favorite candy or flower is, casually. Give it a few days or a week and mention that you would love some candy or flowers. Do not tell them what kind, tell them to just pick something. Do not make excuses for them later. When you mention that you love payday bars because you love peanuts and hate chocolate, there's no excuse for getting a three musketeers handed to you. If you mention that you love daisys because they are simple with no thorns, there's no excuse for getting a rose. Seriously. It's not petty stuff, it's the details that add up to perfection. If you tell a guy you are a vegan and can't even be around meat, don't even look back when he takes you to Burger King. You might have a friend to hang out with, but not a great match for lifelong companionship.
Honestly, when a guy just blathers on about how much he loves you, without ANY REAL EVIDENCE, he doesn't or doesn't understand love at all. Most guys use love to get sex and girls use sex to get love. When most guys say "I love you" to a pretty young thing it means they want in their pants. But, most guys honestly think they understand love and that's just part of it. It's not. Give yourself to the guy who loves you completely. Who knows you. The guy who does good things for you and has a track record for being honest and dependable. If he's divorced, don't be afraid to do a "credit check" with the ex-wife. She can probably tell you stuff you are going to learn the hard way. You don't have to sneak around either. Does he have something to hide?
I am not about bashing other guys. Seriously. I just can't take watching my favorite people treated like doormats or abused. I desperately want them to meet that guy who loves them as much as their family. The guy who understands how valuable and precious they are. And, as parents. Look at it like this. At the wedding, you are handing off a family treasure to someone who promises to take care of it. How are you going to feel when you visit and see it damaged and neglected? I know how I felt.
We can't all make perfect decisions. We, as men, are not perfect and will make mistakes. We just can't keep making the same ones over and over. Men can change, if they see a legitimate need and decide to do it. Ladies, don't commit to an idiot thinking you can change him. You won't. Just think about it. Decide your own value before you let someone else tell you.
Sorry about the rabbit trail here. Just needed to run awhile.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Where it all began

So there I was, minding my own business.....
I was 15 years old, freshman in high school, in a weight lifting class in the the gym. Just finding my way around. Meeting new people. Getting used to high school. Then she walked in.
The first time I saw her, I was completely stunned. She was beautiful. She was completely different from every other girl at school. She had my full attention. Really. I don't remember anything else that day. Just her. No. I didn't talk to her. The thought almost made me throw up. Actually, I don't think I ever spoke a word to her in school. She was out of my league. I was the goofy pothead kid. The clown, the grease monkey, the long haired freak. It was 1986 and I was a weird kid even during that era. She was perfect. At least in my mind, where she spent a lot of time.
The first time I remember speaking to her was a strange day. My dad, who had never done anything like this....ever, came home and made me get in the car. "You have to see this girl." That's all I got out him for the 10 minute ride. He had stopped at a little drug store where she was working. He was blown away by her whole presence. So he made me go in and buy something just to meet her. We talked for a few seconds, nothing earth shattering. That was it. He was a little disappointed that we weren't planning the wedding while I was in there. I told him, she went to my school and I know who she is. That was the end of it.
A year or so later, her brother became one of my best friends. Hadn't really thought about her much by then, she was still way out of my league. We got a job together at a nursery and landscape company. One day, the owners mother threw a fit at us for no good reason and fired us. We were stranded because we had been dropped off. He called his mom, then his sister, left messages but nobody answered. So we began the eight or nine mile walk back to town. Less than a mile from work, his parents pulled up. Seconds later, so did his sister. His parents were in a single cab truck that we weren't both going to fit into, so he told me to just ride with her. Dang. They drove off and I got into her little car. I was considering throwing up again. She was so polite, and friendly and hot. I was stressing out so bad I made her let me out three miles from home. I had to get out of that car. I couldn't handle sitting that close to the most beautiful girl I had ever spoken to. Seriously. Panic. She thought there was something wrong with me, and there was. That was a long slow walk home.
Maybe another year went by, I was now 18 and had just ended a fairly serious relationship that I just didn't know what to do with. Me and her brother just ran wild for a while. We did the standard list of stupid stuff and just hung out. One day, he suggests we go see his sister, who had her own place. That was pretty much the last time it was just me and him.
She was a blast to hang out with. I loved every minute with her. She was fun and tough and quickly became my absolute best friend. I wanted to be with her every day. When I finally got the nerve to ask her out for a real date, she said yes and I panicked again. Didn't go back for a week or so. Once I did, her weird friends started making up stories to get rid of me. But, I finally got that date, kinda. Me and her brother went to see her one night and she was leaving to go to a party with her weird friends. I offered to drive her, since I had a van. We pulled into this yard full of weirdos and got out. She started talking to everyone and just wandered off from us. I tried talking to some folks, but the freakometer was up pretty high. I didn't want to be there, I wanted to be with here. So I stole her purse from inside and threw it in the back of the van. When she walked back out, we climbed in and cranked it up. I yelled to her and said we were leaving. When she got close, I asked if she wanted her purse. "Yes, where is it?" I told her it was in the back. When she climbed in to get it, I dropped the clutch and took off. Yep. Our first date was a kidnapping.
A few weeks later, we were having a going away party for a friend at my house. I got frustrated and left. Walked up the street to a park and sat down. I prayed for the first time in years. "God, if there is a person who is right for me, you need to put them in front of me because I don't know what to do." What I didn't know was that she was at my house right then looking for me. Not 10 seconds after that little prayer, I saw her walking across the park. The rest is history.
Actually, the rest is the subject of this blog. Somewhere along the way, I forgot how precious she was. I forgot how miraculous our relationship was. I forgot how amazing and wonderful she was. She became just a wife to me. I neglected and abused her. But, 20 years later, we got back on track. After almost losing her, we are better than ever now. Thank God.
I am a blessed man. We have four amazing kids. We are in a good place. Life is becoming almost surreal some days. Not perfect yet, but amazing. I am writing this log to encourage men to become better. To stop neglecting and abusing that amazing woman you committed your life to. Take some time this week to remember how you met. Write it out. Think about it. If you make the effort to show her that she is still as precious today as she was then, it can all start to change. She needs it and so do you.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dog Farts

Yes. Seriously. Let's have a deep meaningful post about dog farts. Here we go.
I have an 85 pound chubalub German shepherd that is getting up there in the dog years. I also have kids. It has been a running joke in the house, whenever someone farts, we blame the dog. Usually it's with a surprised outburst of her name, followed by relentless complaining. The dog has been trained to get up and leave the room whenever she hears a sound that even resembles a fart. ( nothing but the classy material here. ) She's old and fat now. So her getting up and leaving includes grunts and moaning that sounds like complaining. Funny stuff. Well, now the joke is on us. Now it really is her. She does it constantly. Nasty ones. Creepy sounding ones. Everyone get up and leave when she gets up for no apparent reason. It's awful. Sounds like a wet balloon deflating the last of the air.
My point? She got trained to respond to our reactions. Even though we were just playing around, she got trained to get up and leave whenever the air got thick. She somehow understood we were picking on her and now it's a regular reaction. We do the same thing. We have been trained our whole lives to respond certain ways to certain scenarios. We have developed a lot of pointless, maybe harmful, habits because of how people around us have responded. We have trained ourselves to do stuff that we honestly can't explain. .
During our marriage counseling, I learned that a high percentage of men can't hear anything corrective from a female. We have trained ourselves to cut her off, ignore her, imagine she is saying something else or just blocking her out completely. I did it. I had no idea I was doing it. I was guilty of letting my brain click over to autopilot whenever my wife tried to talk to me. I had developed a habit with no logical explanation.
There's other stuff, too. Arguing. I had developed a talent for arguing about everything. Even stuff that didn't matter. Just arguing for the sake of it. Stalling. She asked me to do things and I would intentionally put it off. At least for a few minutes. Maybe it was a control issue. Even stuff that I could have done right then with no extra effort. It was always, "give me a minute" or "sure" or "as soon as I get done with this." Most of the time I ended up not even doing it. Jerk. Stepping over things. Stuff on the floor, step over it and leave it for her. Spill something, leave it for her. Things that obviously need to be done, act like I didn't see it. Light bulbs burned out, clothes on the floor, trash can full, newspapers all over the driveway, empty milk jug in the fridge, dishes piled up in the sink, etc. etc. etc. Like every minute of my life was more important that hers. Like the extra 3 seconds it took to grab the clothes off the floor was a waste of my life. Sure, I can cram the trash down an inch and make it the next person's problem. No, I didn't notice any of that. Yeah. Jerk. Don't even mention that empty toilet paper roll. Most guys refuse to pull that empty tube off and put the new roll on. Why? Why do we train ourselves to avoid doing things when it takes almost the same effort to do it? We apparently don't understand the benefits of having our wives know that they are loved and respected by every little action. Most guys couldn't care less if they are using the toilet paper roll off the back of the toilet or off the holder. Doesn't matter to us. Most of us would be perfectly content to live out of the dryer and never hang or fold anything. We will gladly stand in front of an open refrigerator and eat dinner without using dishes. We are fine with just pulling dishes out of the dishwasher as we need them. All that stuff honestly makes sense to us. But not our wives. Why? They generally like order and structure. They like having things in their place. ( yes, there are always exceptions. ) They like for their home to be a sanctuary where there is peace. We see it as a place to drink beer and watch tv when we aren't working. Yep.
Guys, we need to change some of these habits. We need to put a little effort into seeing things from their perspective and figuring out what makes their world a happy place. Neglecting them and the things that matter to them creates these bad habits. Just like 85 pound chubalub dog farts, it's stuff we are better off without. Step up. Do right.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Responsibilities and benefits

Going to attempt to make this short and simple. Most of us guys have pretty short attention spans anyway.
Here's the scenario. I have grass in my yard. It look better short, the neighbors appreciate it being short and the little man from the city who gives out fines likes it short. So what the heck did I do? I bought a lawn mower. I felt that to have a need meant I should go find the solution. Grass need cutting. I need a mower. Simple enough. But, there's stuff that mower needs if I intend to get more than one season out of it. Gas. The stupid thing needs gas. Even though I just put gas in it, it needs more. And oil. If that dipstick isn't showing clean oil at the right level, I don't have a mower very long. Blades. It had blades. They need to be sharpened. They have to be tight. They have to be the right size and type for my mower. If I mow lots of rocks and pine cones and random trash, they need to be checked. Wheels. Let one fall off and see how much fun mowing is. Gotta take care of the wheels. What else? Fuel lines and filters, oil changes, maybe a battery, muffler and a few dozen random bolts that shake loose. Yes, there's a point. And yes, I am about to compare our wives to mowers.
We searched for a bride because we had needs. We wanted to be with someone. We wanted a companion, lover, baby maker, friend and someone to grow old with. Most women are very willing to step into those roles for the right guy. The guy who is willing to meet their needs as well. But very often, like my last post covered, we don't. We assume the whole marriage purpose was to meet our needs. Once her needs show up, there's a problem.
Like the story I heard of the old farmer sitting on the porch while his phone kept ringing. When his neighbor finally walked over and asked him why he wouldn't answer, he said... "I put that thing in for my convenience. I'll get up and use it when I need something." Pure stubborn selfishness.
Well guys, guess what happens when you go too long ignoring the needs of your lawn mower? It has to be replaced or starts costing you time and money to fix it. Just like ignoring the needs of your wife. Eventually you don't have one or you have a lot of serious issues to fix. Counseling, books, therapy, prescriptions, etc. all get expensive once someone is pushed too far. Yeah, I would have probably assumed this was for someone else, too. If I had found this before the hammer fell in my house.
I heard another great story that relates. As it was told to me...
A man went to a railroad auction, thinking a railroad freight car would make a good workshop in his property. They were auctioning off sealed cars that has lost the shipping records. Didn't know what was inside. The man finally got one, went for less than $1500, as I was told. After he paid for it they cut the locks. Inside were two 1955 Chevy Belair two door hard tops. Neither had more than 10 miles on it. All his. Perfectly preserved, all original. Virtually priceless.
Cool story. So what? Well. Anyone with enough time, money, persustence can pull any car out of a junkyard and restore it to perfection. Or. You can start with a good thing and preserve it by caring for it and treating it right. Take care of your marriage by caring for your wife.
I am that guy that drove the wheels off. Not really maintaining anything. Trying to fix only the big problems and ignoring the small daily needs. Almost destroyed my family. I was a jackass. Still recovering. Long way left to go. But I found the road home. On the way. Following people who have already made the trip and love it. ( Joel and Kathy )
So. Before someone tells me that mowers and cars are different because they come with manuals, let me add something. That bride of your has a manual. She teaches from it daily. Every minute you spend listening to her gives you a daily lesson from that manual. She is telling you what she likes. What she needs and wants. What makes her happy and sad. What she wants out of life. What she wants you to do more, and less. Listen. Read the manual.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Do you think you married your mother?

If you will hang in there and read this whole post, I will explain the root of most of our marriage problems. Really.
I will cover as much of this issue as I can. For the real message and all the deep details, you need to visit Joel and Kathy's website. They have free counseling calls and an open forum for getting to the marriage you dreamed of. Now, on with the show.
According to the counseling I have received, every man has within him the full capacity to completely take care of one adult woman. We are fully equipped to meet the needs of only one. Get that? We can care for our daughters, or our mother, or others who need our help. But, we don't have the emotional capacity to focus the best part of us on more than the one. It should be our wife. With me so far?
The problem arises when we are children. Since very few men are willing to put that much effort into focusing on the needs of their wife, the kids get to do it. Momma needs someone to hang out with her. She needs someone out in the garden while she makes it pretty. She needs someone to sit down at the end of the day and have a conversation with her. She needs someone to take action when the trash is full, or the dishes are piled up, or the cat pukes on the rug, or that stupid light in the fridge needs to be replaced, or whatever. She needs someone to show her, by action, that she is important. If dad won't do that stuff, she ends up leaning on the kids. She needs the oxytocin to flow in her brain. The stuff that makes her feel at peace. The stuff that helps her relax and rest. It helps her body heal itself and gives her insulation against stress. She gets it from hugs, smiles, kisses and compliments. She gets it from any form of sincere affection. She can even get it from her cat if nobody else will do it. But, she wants it from her husband and children. If she doesn't get it, she gets cortisol. That's the poison her body produces from stress, anxiety, misery, frustration, loneliness, etc. It drags her down. It damages her physically and emotionally. It makes her dark and angry. Seriously.
So what's the problem? Wen daddy doesn't create mummy's oxytocin she gets it from the kids. Not a big problem, for her, as long as she gets it. The problem is for the kids. Specifically the boys. The boys grow up as mommy's little man. They gradually assume more and more of the things daddy should be doing with and for mommy. It creates a strong bond between them. But, it's probably not the healthiest bond. The boys often end up carrying entirely too much responsibility for mommy's emotional needs. The often become the only sympathetic ear when mommy has had a bad day. So, these little men grow up and eventually get married. There's usually some separation issues, right? They normally find that great girl who probably even reminds them of momma in some ways. Not really a bad thing most of the time. But.....
Once they slip that wedding ring on their wife's hand, something changes. She is no longer the girlfriend, or fiancé or even just a friend. She's a married adult woman. Wow. Do you see where this is going? Suddenly he is married to an adult woman who has needs. Eventually, those needs are going to look a lot like momma. Something inside us begins to resist. Something inside us starts to feel like momma is here and we are smothered by someone who needs us. We will often back away, or get aggravated or even run when those needs start to show up. Mostly because we never felt like it was right when momma was all in our business and now someone else is doing it. We want our space. We want momma to find somewhere else to be until we need her for something. It's not something we do on purpose or plan, it just kinda happens.
So, how do we fix it? First by understanding what has happened. Then by deciding that this is our wife and we love her. We want to be with her. We want to be involved in everything that matters to her. We want to meet her needs. We chose her. We had no choice in what momma we got, but we chose this person to spend our life with. We have to take action.
Jump on and sign up for the forum. Send them an email or even call them. Read the good stuff about how to make your marriage amazing. Whatever you do with this new understanding, just move towards her instead of away. She needs you.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Plan B

Ever heard that? They use it in movies. Everything is falling apart, plans are failing, things are going wrong. Someone says, "go to plan B!" That means we messed something up or someone didn't follow the plan or something interfered with our main plan. So, abandon the original plan and go to the backup. Brilliant.
My problem with this, is that for there to be a plan B, someone had to assume that plan A might not work out. In marriage, plan b would sound like this....
If I don't feel the love....
If they don't respect me....
If I am not happy.....
If this just doesn't work out....
If they ever cheat on me....
I am outta here! I will find someone else. I will just move on a start over.
Happens all the time. The big problem with that is this. We just take our same personality, immaturity, selfishness and unrealistic expectations and throw it all on the next person.
I am not telling those abused and neglected wives to sit back and take it. No way. Do not just allow someone to abuse you and think it's ok. You deserve better than that. I am also not telling those rare men with good hearts and attitudes to sit back while a mean or vengeful wife runs you ragged. However, honestly, it's probably one in a thousand failed marriages that can be blamed on the wife. Men don't usually plan to be bad husbands. We don't plan to become abusive. We don't plan to neglect or berate our wives. But, sometimes we just get so far off track that we become monsters. I did. I honestly thought I was the perfect husband. Even until the moment I found out how sick of me she was, I thought I was doing great. Why? Because I knew how bad her past was. I knew how many losers had been in her life before me. I knew her dad left when she was little. I knew she had abusive step fathers and boyfriends. But, in my mind, I was better than them. So, obviously, I was a good man. Compared to them. But we can't compare ourselves to other people and become who we are supposed to be. We compare ourselves to what we want or need to be and try to obtain that. As Christians, we have to compare ourselves to Christ. Compared to a perfect man like him, I didn't look good at all. Compared to someone who taught love, compassion and absolute self sacrifice for the ones you love.... I was a total jackass. I was the problem. I was the one who damaged the marriage. My wife had done so much more than was even reasonable to maintain that crappy marriage. I need to get her a medal. She was a hero. She held the family together in spite of me. So....
Knowing all that. I had to change. To make plan A come back to life, I had to move. Fortunately, we did save plan A. Pure grace. Not because I suddenly became a perfect guy. But because she gave me time to get my crap together. It took almost three years for her to finally trust me and accept that I was serious. Still not fair. I got three years of hell compared to the 20 years she was drug around behind me and neglected.
So what does plan A look like? Plan A is we make it work. We do whatever it takes to make our family and marriage work. Not kinda work, but thrive. I have to become the man of her dreams if I ever hope to have her become the woman of mine. She has to trust me and believe that I love her more than anyone or anything else. Women don't give themselves wholeheartedly to you unless they believe you are doing the same. They have to trust us. It's our job to step up and become the men they need. So we do it. No matter how they respond or react or love us or don't love us. We just keep doing the right thing and really love them. That's plan A.
Plan B sucks. Once you start considering plan B, you take energy away from plan A. Don't do it. Fantasizing, daydreaming, flirting and cheating are all part of plan B. just stop it. Confucius said that the man who chases two butterflies catches neither. The fact that you consider plan B hints at character flaws that you will just carry into the next relationship. Fix it now. Give plan A all your focus. Seriously. She is worth it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Did you hear that?

Most guys are going to go from reading, to scanning, to closing the page within 4 seconds. Bet on it.
Why? We don't care. We don't listen, we don't try to listen, we don't want to be told we don't listen, we assume we did listen even though any rational person could prove we didn't. It's a fact.
I came home once, after spending a day with my dad, and told her all the great stuff I learned from him. He had pointed out how I was letting things get to me, how I was creating stress, how to get past stuff, etc. etc. My wife just stared at me. For about 15 seconds after I finished. Awkward silence. "I have been telling you the exact same thing for years. Why could you hear it from him, but not me?" No good answer. I honestly couldn't remember her ever saying anything like that. Obviously.... She was completely crazy. Either that, or I never actually listened to her.
At our marriage intensive with Joel and Kathy Davisson, they listened to my whining and griping during our private session. I told them how crappy my life had been, how used and ripped off I had been, how hurt I had been, how everything was everyone else's fault and other useful information. Kathy leaned over and told me to let it go. (See the post "Let it go" for the rest of that) I did. Life changed immediately. No joke. I was actually able to just let it go, detach my emotions from my past and move on. Wow. My wife, again, just stared at me. I had done it again. Kathy told me to let it go, I heard what she said, and did it. How could I hear it from one person but not my wife? I honestly didn't remember ever hearing her say that.
But, then something weird happened. As she was telling me how she had told me to let it go, I saw something. As she said "let it go," my brain flashed an image, it kinda covered up what my eyes saw. I promise, this sounds weirder than it actually was. In front of me, my beautiful wife simply said to let it go. My mind translated that into a mean woman, glaring at me with a finger in my face, telling me what to do. Crap. I think that had happened before. I think part of our marriage issues came from me blocking out what she was saying, either on purpose or just as a reaction. My mom is a tough lady with a short fuse, I guess my mind was trying to make them the same person. Yeah, weird. ( I will get into the whole mother/son thing later )
After that, things really changed for me. I can hear her now. When she says she is thirsty, I want to get her a drink. When she mentions her feet hurt, I want to get the lotion and rub her feet. When she says she doesn't like something, I make a note to not let that happen again. When she asks for something, it's a priority. Not henpecked, just listening and proving to her that I am. You are not more of a man that me because you brush her off and laugh about her with your buddies. Making her the most important person in my world and proving it daily makes me all the man she needs. She needs me to prove it to her. She needs her knight to rescue her from everything that traps her. She is not a nag. You just don't listen so she has to repeat it. Can you do it? Can you step up to do what has to be done? Do you love her enough to stop everything, turn yourself towards her and listen to what she says? It does not feel natural at first, trust me on that, but it will. Honestly, who do you really want to impress? The one person in your life who you have vowed to love, honor and cherish? Or the other guys? Seriously. What kind of man is more concerned with what other men think than what his wife thinks?  Make her first. Listen. Love her the way she wants to be loved. She will tell you. She has been trying to tell you. You can have the strongest marriage to your best friend if you will just listen.
Try it.