Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I can feel... One of my turns coming on

Yes. Pink Floyd. From "The Wall." I completely wore out 2 cassette copies of that album when I was a teenager. Incredibly well made album. Brilliant. Depressing. The last time I heard it, I figured out where a lot of my youthful angst and depression came from. It was a part of me. 

That song and song title has been stuck in my head since yesterday. It seems like the closest description to where my mind went. Thanks to another type of entertainment, I had a magnificent flashback. The movie, "Something's gotta give." Watched it for the first time last night. Ended up being a great story, but the road to getting there had some rough spots. It's the story of two people who end up in love, completely against their better judgement. The man is older, with a past of just using women and living free of any relationships. The woman was divorced after 20 years and has become content with her life. Through a long adventure, they end up wanting to be together and both completely in love. On the way, he drags his feet enough for another man to slip in and take her away. 
What I need to explain here is how my brain works. I was diagnosed with ADD and depression about three years ago. Wait. It's better than that. My doctor told me I was a textbook perfect case of adult ADD. She said I had almost every symptom she knew to look for. It's not an excuse or a joke, but it explains a lot about decisions I have made. My wife can tell which days i have taken my medication and when I don't. One of the things my brain does, is identify with certain characters in movies to the point of empathy. I sometimes almost feel like I have taken on part of the role. Yeah. Really. Some characters make me laugh until it hurts, some rip my heart out. Sometimes it takes a while to get my head on straight for a while. 
So. The movie. When the man finally comes to his senses and rushes after her, he is interrupted by the other man. He just steps in beside her, surprised to see him there. My wife made a comment at that point that got me. "He waited too long." At that point, my emotions just snapped. I was overwhelmed with all the pain I felt during our worst days. I remembered the thoughts that I had waited too long to get my act together. I had vivid thoughts of my family being torn from me and another man taking my place. Very vivid. Horror like something Stephen King would imagine. I had to leave the room to get myself composed. Hard to describe, but utterly traumatic. 
Guys, I want you to feel something. Don't worry about being macho. Forget whatever reaction you think your friends might have. It won't matter in the long run what anyone but you and your wife think. Imagine yourself as that guy. You have this relationship with a woman you already decided to spend your life with. You still aren't fully committed. She wants the relationship more than you do. You hold back from her. You won't give in and completely commit to her. You keep flirting and playing around. You are sure that she is all yours whenever you want. So you leave her to herself. Neglect her. Avoid her, maybe. Start to see her as a spare tire you only take out when you need her. How's the imagination going so far. Do you see it? Are you living it?
Now, imagine this. Out of the blue, you find out everyone else knows she is done with you. She has decided to move on. She has her own options. Maybe she figures she would prefer being alone to being with you. Maybe she just can't take any more of your crap. Maybe someone else is pursuing her. Someone else has figured out what a catch she is. Someone else has decided to give her their full attention. She leaves. She has become casual about you. She doesn't care anymore. You aren't even an option to her. She doesn't want to see you, doesn't care if she ever does. She has gone completely apathetic about you and your feelings. She takes your kids away. She starts a new life without you. You get to see your kids with a new father. You get to see your wife with a new husband. You get to sort out your emotions every year at Christmas because you are just the ex-husband. The life you had is gone, you are left on the outside. You have to start over, but you still have connections to the family you lost. Maybe you find someone else, another victim? Maybe the cycle starts over. Trophy wife becomes the ball and chain becomes the ex-wife. Maybe. Maybe not. 
If you have survived a situation like this, you have my deepest sympathy. If you are in the cycle right now, humble yourself and save your family. We didn't go this far. As hard as it was, I held on and still had hope. Kathy Davisson at bestmarriage.com told me the opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. When they just don't care anymore. Any emotional involvement, even anger, means there is still hope. Somehow, she didn't make it to apathy. She gave me enough time, not sympathy, to get the changes in motion. It took three years before we started to really become a couple again. This whole scenario was where we were headed. Not maybe, this was the track we were on. 
I had to change. Like almost all wives, mine wanted a relationship with her husband. She didn't expect or demand everything be perfect. She just wanted me as committed to her as she was to me. She wanted me. She just got to a point where she was tired of carrying the weight of holding the whole family together and started considering other options. 
She put up with me being distracted, evasive and abusive for almost twenty years. The last ten of that were awful. She put me through three years of absolute torture. It went from wanting to work it out, to I never want to see you again constantly. She wanted it to work. She wanted to save the family, she just didn't want the same jackass of a husband to do it with. So I changed. I figured out how much I wanted my wife and kids. I had done a lot of damage, it was going to take a while to heal. Still healing. There's still damage to get past. There are still issues we aren't totally free from. But, we are together and conscious of it all. I understand what I have to do and am doing it. 
I can't handle the thought of ever going through that again. I hate the though of any of my friends and family going through any of that. Please listen, guys. Please do the right thing. Please save your family. Everyone gets hurt when dad doesn't do what he should. Whether or not you believe it's all your fault or responsibility, treat it like it is. It's the only way back from here. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

One simple thing you need to understand about marriage

My friends at BestMarriage.com told me a great story. It was a turning point in their marriage. Joel was also an abusive husband. They were pastors during the abuse. They went to a conference on living free from abuse, where they came to terms with how bad their marriage actually was.
Joel was confronted about his attitiude. He was told that one of his biggest problems was that he didn't think he needed Kathy. His response? You're right. I don't need her.
He was convinced she was simply an accessory. She was just a part of his life. Someone there to serve him. The assistant. The vice principal.  Second in command. First mate. Like Batman and Robin. Skipper and Gilligan. Pinky and the Brain.  One is critical, the other is just there. A spare tire. Comic relief. Maybe a grunt. Whatever. Someone who could be replaced by anyone.
He didn't see her as absolutely critical to his life. He didn't see how they completed each other. Almost a ying and yang kinda thing. Neither is truly complete without the other. 
There is a word used in the Bible when God made Eve. Helpmeet. He said it was not good for man to be alone. So, I shall make him a helpmeet. Not help mate. Not second in command. Not vice principal. Not comic relief. Helpmeet. Very powerful word. Very complex word. Essentially, someone who completes you and makes you more than you can be alone. The help part is the same as another army called in to help with a battle you can't win alone. The meet part is tricky. Like an interpreter that helps get through something you can't understand. A guide that takes you somewhere you can't get alone. She completes you. She is all that you aren't. She sees things you don't. She hears things you don't. She understands things you don't.

( here's another good article The definition of helpmeet  I am not Mormon, don't agree with a lot of things they believe, but the article is really good )

It's not weakness to need her. It's not whimpy to need her beside you. You are not a henpecked, loser of a wus for needing her. You are a wise man who understands how important she is. Her opinion matters. Her fears should be heeded. Her concerns are legitimate. Everything about her matters.
Just like Joel, I had to come to terms with all this. I had to admit it and tell myself, "I need my wife." The sooner you admit you need her, the better. If you say that you want a stronger marriage, you need to take steps to make it stronger. This is an easy one. Take a few days to think about this. Figure out why you need her. Think about times she encouraged you. Or tried to stop you from doing something stupid, that you did anyway.  Think about times she protected you. Think about ways she is a part of you. Don't even think about anything negative. Just focus on the good stuff for a few days.
Say it out loud, so you can hear yourself say it. "I need my wife." Say her name. Tell her you need her. Tell her why. Do it now. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Deciding to be a hero

One of my big revelations in life was that I don't have to be superman to everyone. There are actually only a few people who really need me to operate at that level. Everyone else falls in line behind them. Sorry. Not giving up every ounce of strength and spare minute for the leeches who suck the life out of me anymore. My wife and kids get the best of me from now on. 
But, there's something inside us guys that craves the recognition of being a hero. Some of us are just naturally heroic types. Determined to do the right thing at all times. Some of us will gladly take credit for someone else's heroism. Jerks. 
I met a career firefighter a while back. Great guy. Bad husband, but working on it. We had a conversation about 9/11 and the firefighters who lost their lives. He was upset about it. They had no business running into those burning buildings. They knew better. Someone should have stopped them. Their training told them that, at some point it was a lost cause. Get away. Save yourself. There's no logical reason to go in there. There's almost no chance you will survive and not much chance you will bring anyone else out. He got emotional about those guys and what they did. But confessed that, if he had been there, he probably would have done the same thing. He couldn't have just stood there and done nothing. He had a hero inside him that would never just sit still when there was a need so great. He couldn't just watch tragedy like that without trying to stop it. Those police officers and firefighters were heroes, no matter how anyone feels or what the training manual said. Tragic day. I will never forget it. 
I have been thinking about that conversation and that man. His instinct was to quickly make a decision that could cost him his life. He was hard wired to consider another life more valuable than his own and do whatever it took to save them. But, this same man was unwilling to treat his own wife like she was that valuable. He was willing to give his life up completely and die for a stranger. He had a problem with giving up a degree of his life to save his wife from a stressful and frustrating life. Why? Why are we willing to just die when we see a great need but can't "die to ourself" for the needs of our family? What is the difference? I have a hard time accepting that we are capable of one but not the other. If there is anyone alive who deserves that kind of sacrifice, it would be our wife and our kids. Why do we have to always get our own way? Why do we have to be so important at home? Why do we make all the critical decisions for the family? Why is her opinion and need less important than ours? Not all guys have this issue, but plenty do. We will lay our life down for a stranger but not lay down the remote for our family. 
Guys, we can do better than this. When Joel and Kathy started counseling me, I was that knucklehead, too. I had given up the best years of my life to all kinds of people. Jobs that didn't pay well, but demanded ridiculous hours. Churches that liked to throw everything on the guy who had a hard time saying no. Friends who always needed something stupid on the weekends. Yeah. I couldn't say no to all that, but I could to my family. It was almost like I was looking for excuses to stay away from them. They felt it, too. My middle daughter made a painful comment once, when she was about four. I was working for a big church. I regularly put in 70-80 a week there. My wife and daughter came to pick me up for lunch one day. Wen they pulled into the parking lot, my daughter said, "oh, we're going to daddy's house." She actually thought I lived there. Bad daddy. That was me. Jerk. 
Just take some time this week and consider your life. How do you want to be remembered? Do you want random people to remember you as a really good guy, even if they forget your name? The selfish guy who always did whatever he wanted even when his family needed him. Or. Do you want you family to remember you as their hero? The guy who saw a little league game or dance recital as more important than a fishing trip. The guy who saw momma tired and stressed out and did something about it. The guy who was fully aware of the needs in his own home. The guy who took responsibility for the condition of his family. The guy who was willing to lay down his life for the ones who matter most. Your choice. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The main lesson I learned from Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is still in my top 5 favorite movies of all time. Classic. If you have never seen it, get it now. The story of two people really, Forrest and Jenny. Forrest is "not a smart man" by his own account. He ends up with a very remarkable life, pretty much by accident. Jenny, however, is determined to have a significant life of fame and fortune. Jenny hates her past, constantly struggles with bad memories and ends up in one bad place after another. Forrest just does what he is told and great things happen. 
Now, don't even think that. I am not suggesting we all be good little robots and do everything we are told. I am suggesting that Forrest Gump was a lot smarter than anyone thought because he understood and lived by a simple principle......
Be where you are. 
That thought has tormented me. Mainly because it's really difficult for me to focus all my energy and attention on any one thing. But, he understood the power and value of being able to be completely involved in whatever he did. He was not driven by ambition. He had no hidden agendas. He didn't pretend to like people. He didn't waste time with people who didn't care about him. He was completely loyal to the people who mattered. Jenny was the only girl for him. 
Throughout the story, Jenny comes and goes constantly. She can never stay still for very long. She feels she has to keep moving. The life she wants is out there, somewhere. If one place isn't perfect, she keep moving. Never satisfied. Never committed. Craving freedom, but trapped in a life she doesn't want. She is always surrounded by losers and leeches. People who have her around for their amusement or benefit, not for her. Nobody is there for her... Except Forrest. He never gives up on her. No matter what she does, where she goes, who she gives herself to; he is still waiting for her. She is always his girl. 
Forrest gets attacked by bullies when he is a kid, Jenny tells him to run. He takes off, breaks loose of the braces on his legs and finds out he can REALLY run. He is fast. But the doctor had crammed him into leg braces to "fix" him. Because Jenny gave him that push to run, he found out he was capable of something even he though he couldn't do. That push to run ends up being a huge part of his life, taking him to college, keeping him and others alive during a war and crossing the country about three times. He just listened to someone who mattered, took their advice and did it. 
He is not afraid to fight. If something is wrong or Jenny is in trouble, he is all in. Not taking a lot of time to consider it or pray about it. Jump to action immediately. He can take criticism and adjust. He doesn't go into depression every time his life takes a turn. He isn't constantly looking for that bigger and better deal. He understands that this is his life. Right now. He is living it. It's not coming tomorrow. It's not about waiting on something to happen before he can be content. He is living every day of his life. He knows who he is he knows how people see him. He knows they talk about him. He knows that he has limitations. He is not spending his life trying to become "somebody" or prove himself. Not bad for someone who is "not a smart man."
This is the lesson I learned from that movie. Be where you are. Be involved in your life. Commit yourself to the life you have and the family you have. Stop waiting for your life to show up. You have your life. If it is bad, adjust where you have to. Don't live in misery, but understand if it's misery you are bringing on yourself. Constantly chasing money or bigger homes or faster cars is not going to make your life good. It just steals precious time you could be spending with people you love and doing good stuff. The number one deathbed regret is working too much, not enjoying life. Seriously. This is your life. Stay connected to family and friends. Spend time with your wife and kids. Quantity time finds quality time. Be involved in your life. Be here today. Stop chasing or waiting for something that doesn't matter. 
Be where you are. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The reason I will never own a Prius

Part of my regular work, is a reconditioner for several car dealerships. I basically take the ugly trade-ins and make them all shiny and pretty again. I work on every kind of car they take on trade. I drive them all. I can tell you, after doing a lot of work between two toyota dealers, the Prius is a pretty cool little car. But, there's no way I will ever own one. 
They are cheap on gas. Not very expensive. Fairly sporty to drive. Not a bad looking car. Pretty comfortable inside. Even enough room for a big guy like me. But, no way. Want to know why? Because they have developed a stigma that I don't want any part of. They have become notorious for having owners who are arrogant, obnoxious, rude and generally think they are better than everyone else. Not all of them, but enough to create a stigma. They feel like they are doing more to save the planet that any one else.... By driving a Prius. By buying a Prius, they have bought into a marketing pitch that convinces them the earth will last longer and they will be the hero for it. Not really guys. So. They begin to get proud of themselves for making an effort that the rest of us don't. Soon, they transform from people with great intentions of doing good, to people who can't understand why it doesn't make sense to everyone. So they become jerks. Not all, but enough. 
I promise I will make a point soon. 
I have always ridden any motorcycle I liked and could afford. Usually older cheap bikes that didn't even need a title. Developed a special love for the Honda CB750 and the Kawasaki KZ1100. Rode a sportster for a while. It was ok. Not enough to get a Harley tattoo, but ok. Years later I didn't like Harley because I met so many guys who had them and thought they were better than the rest of us. Most bikers, like-able ones, do a wave when they pass other riders. It's usually two fingers, index and middle together, pointed down. I always saw it as a salute to another guy with two wheels on the ground. I would get irritated when a Harley rider wouldn't return the wave when I was on my Japanese bikes. Jerks. 
Then, one day, I get a call from a buddy of mine. He found a high end custom motorcycle frame. It was one like I had wanted for years. We worked a deal and I got it. For the next 23 weeks, every spare minute was committed to building my first completely custom rigid frame chopper. It ended up being 9 feet long and a great bike to ride. It was Harley parts from front to back, except the engine. I built it around a vintage Honda CB750. It was beautiful. And, just to be obnoxious, I used metric wrenches as braces and supports for some custom parts I made. The Harley guys didn't know what to think of it. It looked wicked. My wife nicknamed it "the mistress" because of how much time I spent with it. I loved that bike. I was so proud to be out riding something I built. 
Then it happened. I caught myself being a jerk. Some guy was bragging about his Harley and how much he spent on it. I asked him how long it took to build it. The conversation changed after that. I realized that I had become the jerk. I set out to do something I always wanted to do and then got arrogant about it. Sure, my bike wasn't the best one out there, but I built mine. Did you build yours or just borrow some money and buy it? Yeah. That kind of attitude. I became the jerk. Suddenly I felt like I was better than those guys. They didn't get it. 
That kind of arrogance and attitude creeps up on us. Most of us start out with good intentions. We will work to provide for our family. We work hard. Sometimes too hard. Then they don't appreciate us. Then they nag us. Then we just can't take it. It's a progression based on bad priorities. We take the career to support the family then we expect the family to support the career. Dude. The career is a necessary evil. We work because we have to and sometimes because we enjoy it. But, don't make it your priority. Your family is your priority. Do the job, love the family. Don't be a jerk. 
Not just at work, it happens in church all the time. We like the church and want to be involved. We get involved and end up being committed. We are surrounded by other "committed" people who are burning out and dropping out. We eventually end up going from involved to committed to responsible. Then it takes over and we have another job taking us away from the family. I did it several times. Watched dozens of people follow that same pattern. Gradual transition that consumes your life and time. Once we get that deep, we end up stressed and angry. We are trying to do a good thing, but it's straining our family even more. Then they just don't understand how important this is or how much good I am doing. Then.... We are jerks. Lots of people will never be Christians simply because they know Christians. They don't see "life abundantly" or "joy unspeakable." They see boring, mindless, arrogant jerks. Like Prius drivers, the stigma is there. 
This has been a long rabbit trail to make a simple point. Don't be a jerk. We can't be leaders if everyone thinks we are jerks. Our kids don't want to be around us or be like us if we are jerks. Our wives have ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE FOR INTIMACY WITH A JERK. Even the people who hired you or introduced you to whatever world you are in, will back away eventually. Take a serious look at how you react or respond to confrontation. Take a look at how often your sentences or thoughts begin with "I" or "me." Be willing to consider the possibility that you might not be the smartest person alive. Maybe someone else understands something you don't. Maybe a little humility is worth considering. We can be good guys if we make the effort. I am a recovering jerk, I know. 
Good luck with all that. And enjoy your Prius. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The rights of our children

I read something from Dr. James Dobson a while back, it hit me hard. Can't find the exact book to quote it from. Basically, he talked about giving our kids certain freedoms. The one he was focused on was the freedom of interruption. Honestly, don't remember more than the basic idea, but it was enough. He said one sure way to let someone know they are loved, is by your willingness to stop whatever you are doing and give them your attention. I was never like that before. Revelation. We multitask so much these days. We can watch tv, email, text, eat and sometimes even drive at the same time. (Don't) I guess our natural inclination is to just throw the kids in there with everything else, just another task.  Wow.
So, since getting hit with that, I started trying it. Whenever my wife or kids approach me with a question or comment or whatever, I stop and turn to them. Most of the time. Still slip, but it's becoming habit. The change has been pretty dramatic. My wife talks to me more, and I enjoy listening to her talk. Big change from someone who could hardly look at me for almost three years. My kids seem to be more of a part of my life. They didn't change, I did. Over time, it will become a natural response, but it still seems like a challenge. Old habits die hard. Most of me still tries to add them to the multitasking. So there's one, the freedom to interrupt. 
Another one is the freedom to question. My kids still struggle with this because I trained them against it. For a long time, I reacted instead of responding to questions. Didn't even hear the question. Tried that psychic mind reading technique where I figure out what they "really" want. Living defensively makes it hard to have good relationships.  I tell my kids that they have the absolute right to ask questions if they don't understand something. I gave them the freedom to challenge me if I make a decision or demand that they don't understand. (Note here. If I tell them to clean their room, they don't get to challenge that. They know why.) I don't want little drones that can't think for themselves or think like lemmings. I want my kids to be able to figure out things and have the life they want, not one they were told to have. They need that freedom. It's not easy watching them make those decisions some times, but it better than watching the life drain out of them in a life they hate.  Don't freak out when your kids ask questions or have different opinions. Let them ask, have a conversation, hear what they think. It's a different world. I will let you know when I am good at this one. 
Freedom from doubt. Tricky one. My kids were spanked. Not violently, used a plastic spatula or wooden spoon. Tell them what they did, tell them what is going to happen, quick pop on the butt, cool down, talk about it, hug, over. There were really just two things that required a smack on the butt. Hurting someone on purpose and lying. We told them that it is very important we are able to trust you. We have to be able to take your word over everyone else. We still do. It's really hard sometimes, especially when you know that they are human and still try to get away with stuff. Harder when you know their friends are taking advantage of honest kids. I trust my kids. They know I trust them. Yes, there are still times when stuff goes wrong. But, overall, I think it has been a good policy. 
One of my kids had an abusive teacher. She yelled and threatened the kids. She threw things at kids. She called them stupid. She singled her out and embarrassed my girl in class. My daughter said it had been going on all year and she hated it. One day in class, she had enough, got up and walked out. This teacher yelled at her to sit down, but she kept going and got the principal. Somehow, our daughter ended up in a situation where we had to get involved and challenge her or accept what she claimed. We took her word and told the principal she didn't lie and we stood behind her. The principal sorted it out, talked to other kids, verified the stories and fired the teacher. We took the word of a seven year old over an adult. We still trust our kids like that. Takes time and mistakes are made, but it's worth it. 
That's the main three I am working on. Freedom, right, whatever you want to call it. Things they are able to do without "dad the ogre" attacking them. The right to interrupt me, the right to question me and the right to be trusted. They will test all of them. They will interrupt you to the point of madness to see if you really do it. They will ask insane questions and challenge everything for a while to see if you are serious. They will attempt to get away with things and frustrate you intentionally to find out if they really matter. Stick it out. It's all part of loving them. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Three people you need in your life

I learned this from Bishop Sam Drye, or possibly his wife Rheba. They have both heavily invested time and wisdom into my family. Either way, that sets the stage.
They taught me about three kinds of people we need to have in our lives. Friends, mentors and protégés. I guess a lot of us are content with just the friends, not so much with the others. But we need all three. They would qualify as mentors. People who have lived longer, learned more, done things I haven't, made more mistakes, found what works and what doesn't. The most successful people in the world will all, without exception, admit to having a mentor of some type. Coaches, pastors, teachers, parents, supervisors and writers are all types of mentors. Mentors are just people who care enough to offer us advice that can make our life better. Sometime simple stuff, sometimes serious stuff. I have compared some advice from a mentor to being handed a map of a minefield I must cross. Thankful for the map, respectful of what it took to make that map. 
Friends is self explanatory. Those people who post the goofy videos on Facebook for you. The guys who you MUST have a beer with. The girls you MUST take shopping with you. The ones who really know you well enough to pick on you about stupid stuff. The ones honest enough to laugh at you when you dress like an idiot. The ones who will rush to your side when you fall, then laugh out loud and post the video. Good friends. Ones we can totally be ourselves with. We listen to their crap, they listen to ours. Our wives need those friends more than most guys understand. I didn't. Part of my abusiveness was interfering with my wife's friendships. One specifically. One of her closest friends caused the turning point in me. She chewed me out so bad one night, I went speechless. She ripped into me like a shark. She told me how my wife really felt and why I was such a jackass. A light came on. I heard that. She absolutely did not believe me when my only response was, "ok, I get it. Thank you for explaining all that." But she opened my eyes to why my wife wanted out. My wife needs friends like that. Someone who loves her enough to attack a guy 3 times her size. Your does, too. Shut up and leave her friends alone. 
Protégés. That's a big word for a Georgia boy, but it's the only one that seems to work. These are the people we pour our lives into because we care about them. The guy you "coach" from the car window about how he needs driving lessons doesn't count. Your kids count. Sometimes, their friends count. The people who work under you or even with you can count. Anyone who you care about and you treat with respect and compassion can count. Bullies, tyrants, control freaks and general jackasses don't have protégés, they have subjects or victims. People who are just stuck with them. If you, like I was, qualify as one of them.... Your teaching and training are not being received. You are being tolerated. Don't be a jerk to your kid, then get mad when they defied you or ignored you. Seriously. Would you accept coaching from someone like you? Change the attitude. Offer advice. Don't cram it down their throat. Don't beat them up with how smart you are and how stupid they are. ( Humility, old post, read that one ) Do everything with compassion, keeping in mind you want to HELP. 
At the moment, I do have all three in my life. The list changes from year to year, I guess that's pretty normal. Some will always be on it, some serve their time and move on. Go easy on the protégés, you won't know for years whether they listened or if your advice was good. Be humble, consider your advice carefully before dumping it on them. Go easy on the mentors, they are trying to help. They don't know everything. They aren't responsible for your happiness or intelligence for following direction. They are also not responsible for your attitude. They don't owe you. They are friends with more wisdom who want to see you do well. The friends, do what you do. Enjoy them, laugh at them, protect them or whatever you do. Forget the drama, be a friend, have a friend. 
That's all I've got to say about that. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What the heck is she so mad about?

Can I take a few minutes and explain why she gets mad about "nothing?" Very rarely is she mad about whatever you think she is mad about. Usually, we are close. Might even be the same subject, but not the reason. I don't know if I will be able to put this into the best words. I may have to rely on some stories to make this point.
I have some married friends who aren't on board with my hard earned advice, yet. She is a good friend of my wife, almost like sisters when they are together. He is kinda in his own world. Heavily involved with a religious group that makes no sense to me. They notoriously pick and choose which parts of the bible they see as most important. Seems to be the parts that support however they choose to live. Good people for the most part, just hard to communicate with. He regularly uses their teachings to interfere with family issues and things that matter to her. Meanwhile, using different ones to justify whatever he wants to do. ( Don't bother asking which group, not getting into that since most do it to one extreme or another )
They run their own business. They only own one vehicle, a work van. Two seats for a family of four. She has been asking him for over a year to buy a second car for her and the kids. Consistently, almost  every week, asking for a car. A few days ago, another friend called him and wanted to talk. He told him how dangerous it was and how he was endangering his family by putting them in that work van. So. He goes home and informs his wife that he thinks they should buy another car. Stunned silence. Really. Why? Because his friend chewed him out and made him see the problem. She is mad at him. She is going to get the car, but she is insanely angry at him. Guys, tell me why. Before reading any farther, try to figure it out. Ready?
She is mad because he doesn't listen to her. Her opinion doesn't matter. She has been practically begging for a year with no response. A buddy gets on to him for ten minutes and the world comes into focus. Make sense? It makes sense to her. He heard something that a buddy said and ignored the same thing from the most important person in his life. Get it? Here's a better one....
Me. I have already written about my angry past in several. Even got into the details of listening (let it go) and actually hearing. My family has a great history of refusing to forgive and move on. Some of them have defined their whole life by a few tragic things in their past. I ended doing the same thing. Spent ten years growing dark and angry over things in my life that were just wrong. It was always there, I was trained to stay angry. Trained by some of the best. Sarcasm and frustration gradually evolved into hatred and darkness. Bitterness was always in my attitude. I got mean. From the first year of our marriage, my wife told me to just let that stuff go. She told me every time it showed up. Never heard her. In our private counseling session withJoel and Kathy Davisson, Kathy told me that I could just let it go. I did. They didn't believe me at first. I understood. It made sense. I could just let it go. My wife wasn't impressed. She was glad that it finally clicked, but seriously pissed off that I heard it from someone else.
We generally assume that the final, finished product is all that really matters. We rarely consider the issues and details along the way. She does. Everything we say and do confirms her as that very important person, or shows her that she doesn't really matter. Our intentions might be good, but our actions tell her the story. Most guys are ok with taking the same amount of time trying to convince her that he loves her than just spending the same energy to show her.
So, she is mad because your actions, attitude, behavior, decisions or whatever it is, tell her that she isn't as important as you say. There are usually more things than just that, but that seems to be the core of it. You can't fake that stuff. You can't just talk a good game and get away with it. You have to take the time to really know her and what matters to her. Then you have to make the effort to put all that new information into daily practice. It's no different than learning any new skill. You have to put in the time and effort to make your home happy. She's not the thermostat, either. You are. You set the tone by loving her right and listening. Don't put that pressure on her. Step up, be the man, take responsibility for your home and marriage. Just like a busted pipe or a blown fuse, there's a problem. Find the problem, fix the problem, take the steps to prevent it from becoming a problem again.
Take some time to make a list this week. Make a list of the things that make her happy. Things she enjoys. Things that are important to her. Then make another list of things she doesn't like. Be as thorough as possible, everything you can think of. Then let her read the list. See how close you are. Let her correct anything she doesn't agree with. Then thank her and study that list. It's like having a cheat sheet for the relationship. Do this, don't do that. Simple. It's just a good starting point. A guide for ways to make life good for her.
You guys have a great week.