Monthly Archives: September 2011

5 Mistakes Women Make in Marriage

 

My last post was about the mistakes a lot of the guys make in their marriage.  That was easy for me to write about as I am one of those guys.  Writing about mistakes women make in marriage is a little more challenging.  This comes from years of counseling couples and listening to their frustrations and problems.  Just like my post about the guys, I am sure there are other things that could be mentioned, but let’s start with these five for now.  These are similar to the mistakes that men make.

  1. Loving your husband conditionally – This is what I call performance based love.  When the man performs a certain way or does what is expected, the wife tends to show love and respect.  The real test of love is when that is not happening.  When expectations are not met and his behavior is not what you want, do you love him less?  Maybe you wouldn’t say you love him less, but does your response and behavior communicate that to him or does it communicate that when he straightens up then you will show him some love?
  2. Not making sex a priority – Just like the men, women can make the mistake of thinking that men should approach intimacy the same as them.  Men are not as emotional as women and therefore most guys don’t connect emotionally very well.  For most men the thought of intimacy means sex.  Physical intimacy is how most men feel close to their wives.  Without that type of intimacy they can feel unloved.  It may be enough for you to talk, hug and kiss, but for most guys that just gets the engine running.  Talk with your husband about sex and see what happens.  Life can be very busy and hectic, and it can be hard to have time for the two of you to be intimate, but if you don’t it’s a big mistake.
  3. Forgetting how to be your husbands friend – One of the things I have observed in many marriages is that they are no longer best friends.  Most guys desire their wives to be their best friends.  That means doing fun stuff together, hanging out, going out to eat and being able to talk about what is going on in their lives.  Find something you can do together to have fun and relieve stress.  Go back to the days when you were dating.  When you acted like you were interested in sports or cars or his work.  When you did that it made him feel important and that he was sharing his life with you.  He needs you to be his friend, not his mother.
  4.  Not encouraging your husband – Most men crave encouragement.  The way you speak to your husband will say a lot about your relationship.  When you encourage your man, he feels respected, which is even more important to him than love.  Encouragement can come through words either spoken or in writing.  It can also just be simple body language that communicates to him that you are proud of him and think that he is doing a great job.  Being there for him in the important moments of his life whether that is at work or with one of his hobbies.  So when was the last time you encouraged your husband in a positive way?
  5. Not being clear in your communication – Men and women think differently, see things differently, hear things differently and communicate differently.  One of the mistakes some women make is to expect their man to pick up on what is going on in your life.  Most guys are not that observant.  It really helps when you clearly state why you are upset or what you would like us to do.  Hinting about it is very frustrating for most men.  Most men are pretty simple and when communication becomes complicated they tend to shut down.  The more clear you communicate, the fewer misunderstandings tend to happen.  You also need to be aware of your nonverbal communication.  You might be saying something but communicating another because of your tone of voice and facial expressions.  So understand your own communication style and his and make any adjustments necessary.  If communication is a big problem in your marriage, I recommend you get some help.  Go get help from a mentor or counselor.  I recommend you don’t demand he go with you, but let him know you would like him to go if he wants to, but that you want to go to try to improve yourself so you can be a better wife.

I hope some of those thoughts were helpful.  My last thought is this.  Don’t make the mistake of not building spiritual intimacy with your husband.  It may only be you praying for him in the beginning, but that can be very powerful.  Remember you can’t change him, you can only change yourself.

5 Mistakes Men Make In Marriage

 

Healthy relationships take work and a willingness to learn and grow.  For men this can be a very challenging thing.  Most men tend to struggle in relationships because we don’t realize some of the mistakes we are making.  Marriage is the closest relationship we have and as men we need to make some big changes in order to have happy, healthy marriages.  Just a quick word to the guys reading this.  Most guys work hard at improving themselves in their work life.  We study, practice, and learn from more experienced people in order to become better at our jobs.  We do the same thing with our hobbies.  Why should it be any different when it comes to the most important relationship in our lives.

So here are 5 mistakes that I have made along with most men.  Now there are probably a lot more mistakes that the ladies reading this can come up with, but that would feel like nagging and most guys would tune that out quickly.  Here are the top 5 things guys can work on to quickly improve their relationship with their wives:

  1. Loving Our Wives Conditionally – This is hard to admit for most guys, because we like to think that we love our wives unconditionally.  The reality is that most men have conditions for their love.  If she performs in the way we like, we express love to her.  When she cleans the house, takes care of the children, cook the food, and run the household then we are happy and love her.  However when things don’t go like we think it should we tend to get angry, frustrated, disappointed and withhold love.  When she does not show us the respect we think we should have we don’t love her the way we should.
  2. Thinking Her Definition Of Intimacy Is The Same As Ours – When men think about intimacy we usually think sex.  This is not the case for our wives.  It’s about an emotional connection, being able to talk about the important stuff going on in her life.  She see’s intimacy as a deep emotional connection, when we take the time to really focus on her and listen without trying to fix things.  For most women the emotional intimacy and the physical intimacy are very much connected.  For men we tend to keep them separate.
  3. Not Encouraging Our Wives Enough – Many wives do a ton of things that go unnoticed.  Running a household, caring for children, preparing food, planning schedules, paying bills working outside the home, volunteering at school or church.  Most of us husbands take all this for granted and don’t thank and encourage our wives nearly enough.  We can’t say it often enough.  When we take the time to notice all the things she does and thank her specifically for them, it sends a message to her that she is valuable, important and treasured.
  4. Not knowing her Love Language – There are five love languages that express love to the people in our lives.  In marriage this is a vital part of developing a close healthy relationship.  Most of us guys don’t even think about how to express love to our wives let alone understanding what her love language is.  We usually speak our own love language to our wives, which may not be her top love language.  So here are the five areas:  Words of Affirmation/Encouragement, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Acts of Service & Physical Touch.  When we take the time to find out which of those are more meaningful to our wives we send a message that we care and want to love her better.  When we actually do it on a regular basis our marriage will improve dramatically.  Remember actions speak louder than words.  To learn more about the Five Love Languages read the book by that title by author Gary Chapman.
  5. Not Building Spiritual Intimacy With Our Wives – If we want our marriages to go from good to great, then we need to bring the spiritual element into our marriages.  Most of us men don’t ever connect with our wives on a spiritual level.  This adds a whole new dimension of intimacy that is missing in most marriages.  When we as men take the lead on spiritual stuff, it sends a message to our wives that we desire to grow with them.  Being on the same page spiritually brings peace & strength to the relationship.  Couples that are spiritually active together rarely get divorced.  This would include things like church attendance, small group participation, praying together, praying for each other daily, doing devotions together, having spiritual conversations attending seminars or classes together, praying with and for your children.  When we take the initiative to lead our families spiritually amazing transformation starts to happen.  This all starts with us making a commitment to grow spiritually ourselves.  We cannot force this on our wives, but we can start with ourselves.

Well guys, I hope this was a helpful start in making adjustments or changes in your marriage relationship.  My next post will be on 5 Mistakes Women make in marriage.

5 Steps to a Healthy Marriage

This week and gave a speech on healthy marriages at a local business.  I was very impressed that the leader of this organization was investing in his employees by offering helpful information on how to be healthy in all parts of their lives.  They have heard talks about finances, wills and physical health and I was now addressing relational health.

If one area of our lives is out of whack it negatively impacts the other parts of our lives even though we think we can compartmentalize each area of our lives.  When our marriage is hurting, it impacts our emotional state and increases the amount of stress we feel on a daily basis.  That stress impacts our work performance, our parenting skills and our ability to focus and make good decisions.

Marriage is difficult because this is the closest we get to another human being, which brings out all the ugly stuff inside us.  We all bring our picture of marriage to the table.  What we have learned about marriage from our parents, television, movies and friends.  Most of it is not accurate and sets us up for disappointment and failure.  These are the 5 steps I shared with that group that I believe are vital to having a healthy marriage.

  1. Understand & Speak the Right Love Language – We each have a love account, like a bank account that needs to to have regular deposits in it to avoid being overdrawn.  If more is taken out of the account than put in we soon feel empty, hurt and unhappy.  The 5 Love Languages are how we make those deposits.  They are all important, but 1 or 2 are usually more important than others to each person.  We often project our love language on the other person instead of discovering which one is most important to them.  When you understand which language speaks love to your spouse and then work at speaking it through actions the marriage relationship grows stronger and healthier.
  • Words of Affirmation – The way in which we speak to each other either builds up or destroys.  If this is a primary love language words hurt or help even more.
  • Acts Of Service – Actively serving the other person by noticing things that need to be done and doing them before being asked.
  • Receiving Gifts – If this is a primary love language receiving a gift like flowers or even a small token make the person feel like they are valuable and special.
  • Quality Time – Planning time together and where we can focus on just on another.  This communicates to the other person that they are the most important person on the schedule.
  • Physical Touch – Hugs, kisses, holding hands, a touch on the shoulder and sex are some of the ways to speak love to a person with this love language.

The way to identify which ones are most important to you is to ask yourself which ones can I do without and which ones can’t I do without.  If you have not been speaking your spouses love language for a while it will be difficult in the beginning because it will feel somewhat fake.  However the more you do it the better you will become and the more likely your spouse will reciprocate.

2.  Understand & Stop the Fear Dance – The fear dance is the cycle we go through when we have conflict.  I get hurt, I want things to be different or change, I feel my emotions like anger, frustration coming up (Core Fear is touched), I respond usually in an unhealthy way and the same cycle happens with my spouse.  We all have core fears like fear of failure, fear of being inadequate, incompetent, unheard, abandon etc.  When we can understand which core fears we have we can better stop the fear dance and resolve conflict in a healthy way.  To learn more about the fear dance read the book “The DNA Of Relationships” by Gary Smalley.

3.  Understand & Nurture the 3 kinds of Intimacy

  • Emotional Intimacy – This is friendship, we should be best friends with our spouse.  Doing fun things together, sharing what is going on in our lives, being completely open and honest with each other.
  • Spiritual Intimacy – This is connecting on a spiritual level by being in agreement on our beliefs and then doing things together that reinforce those beliefs like going to church together, praying together, reading together, talking about spiritual things together and with others that are like minded.
  • Physical Intimacy – This is when we share our bodies with each other and submit to each other physically.  Knowing how to please the other person.  This is usually where we start in a relationship, but the other two need to come first for this to be healthy.

4.  Understand & Change the Way We Communicate – Communication is vital to a healthy marriage, but communication is not just talking.  Here are a few communication ideas to help improve communication.

  • Really Listen – Most of us don’t really listen.  We make attempts at it, but don’t consistently listen well.  Listening is the most important part of communication, because when we listen well we can avoid misunderstandings and we let the other person know that they are valuable and important to us.  By simply listening, we can improve the health of our marriage instantly.
  • Speaker/Listener technique –  This is a simple way to communicate through conflict.  When someone has an issue they want to talk about they have the floor or the microphone.  Using a pen as the microphone the person explains what the issue is.  The other person can only ask clarifying questions and repeat back what the other person said.  When the person with the floor feels heard they turn over the microphone and the other person can share their side.
  • Be interested, not Interesting – This means that instead of sharing everything about yourself and your day and what you accomplished, you are more interested in what your spouse did and how their day went.  By asking some simple questions and then shutting up and listening you communicate that your spouse is important.
  • Know Your Filter – Men see and hear things much differently than women.  Therefore we always need to make sure that we don’t assume this is what the other person meant.  We also have all had different experiences and circumstances in our lives that cause us to filter things in different ways.  Again, don’t jump to conclusions without asking questions like help me to understand what just happened.

5.  Understand & Practice Forgiveness – No relationship will last very long without practicing forgiveness.  Being quick to admit when we are wrong and humbling ourselves will build a healthy marriage.  Forgiveness is not forgetting, but it is the first step toward forgetting.  When we are healed we tend to forget the previous hurts and don’t keep bringing them back up.  Forgiveness does not mean we don’t have boundaries either.  Sometimes we need boundaries until the other person can show a change in behavior, even though we have forgiven them.

These are some things that have helped my marriage over the last 22 years.  Practice them and I am sure things will begin to improve and become more healthy.  Sometimes we need some help getting started and that is when counseling or mentoring can help.  Meeting with a mentor couple or a counselor or both can help you get on track and start reconciliation.  We offer marriage mentoring at NewPointe Community Church for couples that want to restore and rebuild their marriage.  For more information you can check out this website – Marriage 911.

Eleven Rules For a Healthy Brain and Body

 

I have been reading a book on brain health, by Daniel Amen.  If ind it very interesting.  His overall theme is that most people’s brains are not very healthy because of the poor nutrition, lack of exercise & lack of sleep.  I just finished reading the chapter on nutrition and thought I would share the Eleven rules the author shares for our best nutrition.  By following these rules, we can lose weight, lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol, increase focus and energy and enjoy life much more.  So here they are:

      1. Drink plenty of water, some green tea (2-3 times a day), and limit drinks with calories.
      2. Watch your calories – The bottom-line message about calories is that the fewer you eat, the longer you live. Calorie restriction with optimal nutrition should be our motto.
      3. Increase good fats and decrease bad fats – Bad fat (saturated fats), really bad fat (trans fat), and good fat (unsaturated fats).  Good fat foods:  Anchovies, Avocados, Lean Meats (Chicken/Turkey), low-fat cheeses, Nuts (walnuts are the best), Olive oil, Canola oil, Flaxseed oil, Salmon, Soybeans, Tuna.
      4. Reduce your Sugar intake – Sugar spikes your blood sugar level then sends it crashing down about 30 minutes later, leaving you feeling lackluster and dim-witted.  If you want to cut down on your sugar intake, start by cutting out the soda and limiting the cookies, candy and ice cream.  Hold the bread before meals, bread makes you hungrier and encourages you to eat more.
      5. Dump artificial sweeteners and replace them with small amounts of natural sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners can cause joint pain, headaches, increase sugar cravings.  Natural sweeteners like stevia, Xylitol can be used on a limited basis.
      6. Limit caffeine intake – caffeine restricts blood flow to the brain, dehydrates the brain, interferes with sleep, can be addictive in high amounts, can accelerate the heart rate and raise blood pressure, can give you the jitters, increase muscle tension, upset your stomach, elevate inflammatory markers and interfere with fertility.  Caffeine is in a lot of things besides coffee.  Coffee in moderation has some health benefits.
      7. Eat great brain foods – The author lists the top 50 best brain foods.  Lots of fruits, veggies, fish, beans & lentils, whole wheat, chicken/turkey.  One of the big keys is to eat a balanced diet.  Knowing how many servings of each food group you need each day is vital to being healthy.
      8. Reduce salt intake and increase potassium intake – Most foods already have plenty of salt in them, try to avoid adding any on your own.  Foods high in potassium include:  bananas, spinach, honeydew melon, kiwi, lima beans, oranges, tomatoes and all meats.
      9. Plan snacks – Eating every 3-4 hours throughout the day helps to stabilize your blood sugar.  Here are some good options:  Low-fat yogurt & nuts, 1 ounce string cheese & half a cup of grapes, Turkey with an apple, dried fruit with no sugar added.
      10. Take a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement and fish oil – Ninety-one percent of Americans do not eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the minimum required to get good nutrition.  Therefore most of us need to take a supplement.
      11. Recognize when you or someone you care about has hidden food allergies – Certain foods may cause physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning problems.  The most common culprits are peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, and wheat.  Others include corn, chocolate, tea, coffee, sugar, yeast, citrus fruits, pork, rye, beef, tomatoes and barley.  Many people with ADD can improve dramatically if they find the foods that they are allergic to and eliminate them from their diet.

The more I study nutrition, the more I am convinced that many of our physical and emotional problems come from poor nutrition.  Most of us would prefer to first medicate instead of dramatically changing the way in which we eat.  God designed our bodies in an amazing way and if we put the right things into our bodies they function better and last longer.  I still have a lot to learn and implement into my life, but I am trying I hope you will as well.

Eight Keys to Success

 

In Luke Chapter 12 Jesus is found with a huge crowd of people gathered around him.  Jesus took advantage of this by providing good instruction for His disciples on issues such as integrity, anxiety, convictions, problem solving, greed, jealousy, priorities and trusting God.  He talked about these type of topics because Jesus knew that the people in the crowd needed to understand how to deal with these topics in order to live successful lives.  Here is a summary of the things Jesus shared that can help us live life successfully:

  • Decisions – The degree of success we experience in life is based on the quality of our decisions.  Jesus talked about knowing the truth and being able to recognize lies that can lead us to making bad decisions.  We not only need to know the truth, but we need to accept it and apply it to our lives.  The only way to do that is by growing in our relationship with Christ.  We do that through reading the Bible, listening to Bible based messages and reading books based on Biblical principles.  We also need to seek wise counsel from people that understand the Bible.
  • Servant Mindset – This is a heart issue and a humility issue.  When we have a desire to serve the people around us our level of happiness and success go up.  If we slip into our selfishness it tends to bring on negative emotions and a downward spiral.  Jesus calls us to find a need and fill it.
  • Determination – Our lives are filled with challenges, difficulties and hardships.  Jesus tells us face the challenges that come our way, knowing that God is with us and for us.  When we understand our purpose and meaning in life it helps us to be more determined and focused when challenges come our way.  Being determined doesn’t mean we never give up, sometimes we need to know when to quit something, it means we do what we can to accomplish the task at hand or resolve the situation we find ourselves in.
  • Sacrifice – Jesus was a great example of sacrifice.  He was so passionate about what He was called to do that He was willing to sacrifice His life for it.  When we are willing to sacrifice for something it usually means delaying gratification until something is accomplished.  Understanding that we must give some things up in order to go up or to be successful.  Are we willing to sacrifice living beyond our means in order to save and give more, or do we spend whatever we get?
  • Preparation – Jesus talks about being a faithful servant.  Part of being a faithful servant is to be prepared by developing a plan of action.  We must also be willing to be flexible if things change.  We prepare by continually working on ourselves to develop our character, our faith and our leadership.  Usually the things that we are going through right now are preparing us for what is to come.
  • Action – If we know the truth but never act on it, the truth is of no value.  Once we know God’s will for our lives we need to obey what He calls us to do even when we don’t fully understand it.  Our success in life goes up when we take action and put into practice what we have learned.  If we only focus on learning, we tend to become proud and judgmental.  When we take action and do the things that God teaches in the Bible we tend to become more humble and graceful.
  • Talent – Jesus encourages us to discover our talents and share those with others.  When we are working in our area of strength, everyone benefits.  When we try to do things we are no good at it usually leads to frustration and negative emotions.  God created each one of us uniquely and gave us talents and abilities.  When we tap into those talents we tend to be more successful.
  • Persistence – We need to be tenacious and finish well.  When we understand who we are and what our true identity is it helps us to hang in there through the hardships of life.  Jesus was very persistent and durable.  He focused on the mission that he came for and did not get distracted on things that did not contribute to the ultimate goal of seeking and saving the lost.