Returning His Balls: The UN-neutering of Men (Series Overview)

balls_3The shift in America’s relationship with men has left men displaced in where they belong. The things that men did that were once highly valued have been outsourced. Where is the value of men in our culture?

There was a time while I was living in a developing country when I hated men. Not any man that I knew personally, just the strangers. There was an increase in disdain when testosterone-filled male adolescents congregate in groups, just loitering around: Watching, commenting, pointing. It was creepy, which made me hate them more. I hated how unsafe I felt just walking down the street alone in broad daylight. Being on-guard, constantly vigilant was exhausting. Men were the reason why I felt unsafe. There was only one way to ensure my safety. I had to be dependent on a trusted man to be my escort in public. My options were limited to a small group of males I knew. Their physical presence was the only way to deter constant harassment.

I was a young American female living in a male-dominated developing country. It was the beginning of a new millennium and I was in a time warp from the sexist 1950s. Liberation on my own country’s soil did not transfer over into a culture that limited a woman’s value to domestic chores and producing male-heirs to carry on the family name.  I was an anomaly that warranted stares. I was a modern woman in direct conflict with men upholding a traditional conservative culture.

balls_8What I learned years later while taking “Man-Seminars”, is that I was operating in “Cavewoman”-mode, in constant alertness of danger and potential “tigers.” When I returned to America, there was still a vigilance to be aware of how men can potentially physically dominate over me. I transitioned from Cavewoman into metaphorically neutering men by squishing their power. I believed that if I took his power, then I would finally be “safe” from his potential threat.

This was not a good dating strategy. It wasn’t until I met my future husband that I realized that I needed to change my neutering ways. The dilemma I faced was how to feel safe AND still have a strong man around.

We all benefit when men are appreciated for how they are designed. Our culture loses when we look for other places to outsource what men are already great at providing. I learned that celebrating the value of men brought out their best.  My man-hating eyes went from disgust to a man-adoring twinkle. I have become fascinated with men because I started to appreciate all the ways they try to provide for me. I never saw how amazing men are until I stopped trying to emasculate them. 

The de-programming process started by taking Alison Armstrong’s training, “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women. “Returning His Balls” blog series will extract the best parts I learned while transforming my relationship with men. The first step is to work on myself. I had to stop neutering men’s power.

Thank you for joining me on My Journey to a Fulfilled Life.

Reflect & Share: How have you seen women emasculate men (neuter his power)? What changes can you make to stop yourself from emasculating men?

Resources:

Workshops: Celebrating Men (website)

Free Local Workshops: (website)

Start Small with Free Content (website)

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Happy Wife for Life: Series Review

be_happy_sandI just want to be happy”, is an utterance said by many. Nobody actually teaches us how to be happy. We stumble our way on our life’s path until we bump into someone who can join us in the pursuit of happy.  We then get married and hope for the best.

happy wives club book coverAs a collector of wisdom and a new wife, I really appreciated guidance from people who are further along in the marriage journey. The “Happy Wife for Life” series was based on interviews from happy wives from around the world. Fawn Weaver’s book, Happy Wives Club, is a collection of wisdom that threads amazing marriages together.

I like practical tools that can be applied to daily habits. The following is a review of the secrets from the book, Happy Wives Club, and an overview of what I learned:

ritual_coffee in bedSecret #1: Create a Daily Ritual – I started drinking coffee because my husband wanted me to share in this ritual with him. Having a mindful routine that reconnects on a daily basis brought us closer together.

shave legs bubble bathSecret #2: Date your Spouse – We used to ‘try to impress’ when we were dating, however, once married, we still need to invest the effort to seduce the person who promised us their life. My lifetime courtship begins with the habit of shaving my legs.

Secret #3: Have Outside Interests – Passion is sexy. When I do the hobbies that I love, I get excited about life. My husband isn’t a book reader. He gets to enjoy the passion that radiates from me when I tell him something impactful I learned from a book. When I’m committed to being more of myself through my outside interests, I allow my husband to keep learning about me on a deeper level.

Secret #4: Friendship is Essential – Being best friends doesn’t mean we have to be joined at the hip. Best friends play together, laugh, and share inside jokes. My husband is the only one who seduces my unfiltered goofy side to make an appearance on a frequent basis.

Secret #5: Nurture Marriage – I have seen the repercussions of what happens when marriage isn’t a first priority. Spending my best moments on my highest priority, my husband, helps our connection stay strong.

Secret #6: Choose Friends Wisely – Picking healthy companions to share in our marital journey is vital to feeling supported. I learned that it is important to know where the boundaries are in deciding how much to share and when to protect marital privacy.

motorcycle_3Secret #7: Support your Spouse – My husband needed to go on a motorcycle trip recently. We negotiated an agreement that would work for both of us. I gave my blessing without any complaining afterwards. I got to enjoy my time alone. When I helped my husband grow into more of who he is, I show him I accept the whole package.

In Gay Hendrick’s book, The Big Leap, he writes, “If you can learn to take time off from the relationship consciously…go on solo walks, movie by yourself, open afternoon. Battery-charging alone time gives you the ability to master longer periods of closeness when together [vs. sabotage into arguments or withdraw].”  Taking time to recharge my own batteries allows me to have an abundant supply of energy to give to my husband when we reunite. Supporting my spouse means giving him space to do the things that recharge his battery without it feeling like a threat to me.

Secret #8: Brave to get a Wife Grade – What I think is expected of me as a wife is not the same as what my husband expects. I learned what is on the score card from his perspective when I stopped to ask, “how am I doing as your wife?” His answers have slowly slipped out over time of where I can improve. It is a humbling experience and a necessary process to make sure I’m investing in the right things that are important to my husband. This sometimes means that I need to stop writing my blog at the moment because he has an exciting idea that he wants to share with me before he forgets. I taught him the phrase that will trigger a response in me, “can I have ALL of your attention right now so I can tell you something?” This request pierces my single-focus to get results. It reminds me that I need to give my best moments to my highest priority, my husband.

In Weaver’s Happy Wives Club blog, she writes, “The one thing that will increase happiness in your marriage today is fully grasping this truth: Your marriage is not forever.” This past week I was reminded how fragile life can be. One day someone is alive, then they are not. A recent family death made me want to cling tighter to the person who makes every day a joy because I get to spend it with him. I was reminded to see the bigger picture of what matters. It helped me continue to try to release the small annoyances that create tinges of frustration. The small things that really matter are the daily habits of expressing love and appreciation as we enjoy a lifetime of moments together.

happy listBonus Secret: Commit to Being Happy – Every good man just wants his woman to “be” happy. He wants to provide the things that help her be happy. Knowing what makes me happy, then sharing that information with my husband is like giving him an instruction manual. The key is to then express appreciation when he does “THE thing” I said would make me happy.

I took Alison Armstrong’s life-changing Man-Seminars to enhance my appreciation of men. I got clarity about what I need so my husband can provide it (e.g. alone time for reading). I also got clear what makes me unhappy so he can protect me from it (e.g. messy home). When my husband does “THE thing” that makes me happy, we both understand what it means. I get this surge of appreciation all over my body. My husband gets to see the twinkle in my eyes that tells him he has a Happy Wife for Life.

Thank you for joining me in this series! Sharing what I learn with all of you helps me appreciate My Journey to a Fulfilled Life!

Reflect & Share: What can action can you take that will show your commitment to being happy?

Resources:

Happy Wives Club (book & blog)

The Big Leap by Gay Hedricks (book)

“Happy Wife, Happy Life” Alison Armstrong & Dennis Prager (July 31, 2013, 35 Minutes, podcast).

Alison Armstrong’s Man Seminars (free first step)

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Happy Wife for Life: Brave to get a Wife Grade (Secret #8)

report cardWe tend to give away what we want others to provide for us. It is easy to assume that we know what someone else needs. Getting real feedback about how we are doing as a spouse can be…humbling. As our spouses grow and evolve, so must our roles as their life partners.

The “Happy Wife for Life” series is based on the findings from Fawn Weaver’s book, Happy Wives Club, where she travels around the world to find the threads that weave amazing marriages together. Secret #9 is Brave to get a Wife Grade. This week we will be asking the brave question, “Honey, if you were to grade me as a wife on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, what would I score?”

Once this question is asked, the answer invites a longer conversation about needs. When we set our wife-role on cruise control, we need to periodically check to make sure we are still on course to an amazing marriage.

In preparation for writing this blog, I asked my husband the wife-grade question. I wanted him to identify what it is I do that is working for him, so I can be intentional about continuing those actions. I also wanted to know what needs are being neglected. When I listened to what makes my husband really happy, it made me happy. My list of standards for my wife role included more than 30 things. His list was much smaller.

Top 3 Things That Matter Most:

  1. His needs are on MY radar.
  2. Be consistent with meeting his most important needs.
  3. Provide things he can’t do himself.

It takes bravery to ask, “how am I doing as your wife?” We may not like the answer. We may realize that our standards are absurdly high and our husbands’ standards are pretty basic. We may realize that our husband never asked for a “perfect wife” or even knows what that really means to us.

gold starsIt made me feel secure knowing that I’m doing a great job. It also made me more aware of important areas for him that are not on MY standards list. Knowing my husband’s criteria for being a great wife sets me up for gold stars. It isn’t about being the ideal wife. It is about caring enough to ask what he needs on a regular basis.

When I know how to better serve my husband, I can be a Happy Wife for Life.
Reflect & Share: What would your spouse say are some areas that you could “work on” to be a better spouse?

Resources:

Happy Wives Club (book & blog)

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Happy Wife for Life: Support Your Spouse (Secret #7)

There is an underlying message that women receive when dating, “find a guy who has more resources than you.” If a woman has a financially successful career, then she needs to mate-up with a man who has had MORE financial success. Women who financially support partners can be seen as “dating down.”  The definition of “support” is going to be expanded past the issue of income as we explore this week’s topic.

The “Happy Wife for Life” series is based on the findings from Fawn Weaver’s book, Happy Wives Club, where she travels around the world to find the threads that weave amazing marriages together. This week we are exploring Secret #7: Support Your Spouse. Weaver writes, “[amazing couples] supported one another through school, life changes, career, hobbies, interests, and goals/dreams. They constantly built each other up throughout the years. Sometimes the husband supported the household, and sometimes the wife did. Which spouse brought in more money didn’t matter. The respect and support of one another is what mattered.”

I knew the announcement was coming. The first hint that my husband was motorcycle_3getting antsy was when he started to pay a lot more attention to his motorcycle. He spent the money to make the necessary repairs and “do it right.” I know my hubby doesn’t spend financial resources without a purpose. He finally said, “I need to go on a road trip to San Francisco.”

There is a side to my husband that is not revealed in his everyday life. His motorcycle identity is a part of him and ties to his core value of “freedom.” One of our marriage agreements was that matrimony was not going to prevent us from being ourselves or to stifle our personal growth. When I said yes to marriage, I accepted the WHOLE package, motorcycle boots and all. I understood the deal that I made and I was reminded that the benefits applied to him too.

My dad successfully brainwashed me to believe that motorcycles are dangerous and instructed me to never get on one. The announcement about the impending motorcycle adventure triggered a violation of my “health and safety” core value. I expect us to share a long healthy happy life together. Long periods of time on a motorcycle felt in direct conflict with this expectation.

I needed to know what he was going to do to be safe. I needed to know how he was going to be checking in with me to confirm that he is still safe during his road trip. I did not want my reaction to the announcement to be a mediocre “okay.” I wanted my response to be, “YES! Good for you!”

motorcyle_2How I Support my Husband’s Adventures:

  1. I give my blessing. No complaints. No nagging. No bringing up the topic as a weapon in a future squabble. I release my resistance to keep him at home when he needs to go off and explore alone.
  2. I tell him what I need in order to be fully on board. We made an agreement that would soothe my inflamed security breech alarm going off in my head. This included text messages at his designated check points and the “Find Friends” app.
  3. I’m excited for him. When he shares the interesting aspects of his adventure, I celebrate with him. I share with him the fun things I’m doing in his absence that he would hate (Netflix marathon of documentaries!). This alleviates any possible guilt he may have for leaving me home alone.

This week’s lesson reminded me that “supporting” a spouse is not restricted to a financial component. Supporting my husband means helping him grow into more of who he already is and to accept the whole package. The long motorcycle adventures are a part of the marriage agreement. They don’t happen often, but when they happen I want my response of “YES! Good for you!” to feel natural (and come quicker).

When my husband returns, he has relieved the tension from being antsy. He is appreciative and attentive. By supporting my hubby to do something he loves, I get to enjoy being a Happy Wife for Life.

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Happy Wife for Life: Choose Friends Wisely (Secret #6)

old group of friends

Wanting to grow old together is a proclamation of young couples. In a culture of disposable marriages, I look for examples of how exactly one would stay married over a lifetime in order to be even be to “grow old together.”

The “Happy Wife for Life” series is based on the findings from Fawn Weaver’s book, Happy Wives Club, where she travels around the world to find the threads that weaves amazing marriages together. Secret #6 is Choose Friends Wisely. Weaver writes, “Be selective about the company you keep. Surrounding yourself with others who build up your marriage rather than attempt to tear it down was a must. People who believe in the power of love and the ability of a marriage to last a lifetime, these are the ones who were allowed into the inner circle of these couples.”

The lesson I learned is that an inner circle of friends is necessary in order to make growing older together in marriage “normal.”

I know marriage can be challenging. I want solid friends to hold me to the standards I committed myself to on my wedding day. When times get tough, I want to be comforted and then sent home to work out the conflict with my husband. When we choose friends wisely, we enrich our experience as a Happy Wife for Life.

 

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Happy Wife for Life: Nurture Marriage (Secret #5)

college boundAugust is the season of sending young adults off to college and little kids off to kindergarten. It is also a delicate time when empty-nesters look at each other and wonder, “who the hell are you?” Research has shown that there is a high spike in divorce rates around the 20-25 year mark, which correlates to when the children are done being “actively” raised. Either empty-nesters call it quits because the whole point of marriage was to raise kids OR they relish in the free time to deepen their relationship.

The “Happy Wife for Life” series is based on the findings from Fawn Weaver’s book, Happy Wives Club, where she travels around the world to find the threads that weave amazing marriages together. Secret #5 is “Nurture Marriage.” Sadly, there are many marriages that are on life-support from years of neglect. Some try to hang on until the kids are out of the house so the marriage can get the desperate attention it needs to survive. Other marriages don’t make it that long. Weaver found in her interviews that, “Every couple put their marriage as the number one in their lives. Even those who temporarily made their children and spouse number one at the same time agreed that the elevation was temporary. Once the kids were in high school, they’d want to be left alone anyhow, but the marital relationship would need to continue to grow.”

Spouses manage the heavy responsibility of co-parenting children for years, nurturing their growth and development. The foundation in which families are created is through marriage (typically). Neglect of growth and development in marriage can fracture the stability of the family. Whenever I hear a wife say, “my kids are my number one” it makes me tense up. I wonder, “where is your husband on that priority list?” I’m look in from an outside perspective. I see the fractured results when marriage is not a priority. I was a child of divorce. I know I would have given up gymnastic classes Saturday mornings if that meant my parents could have nurtured their marriage more so they would stay together. Habitual neglect of marriage comes at a high-cost of a child’s family life.  

I’ve been committed to finding couples who have strong families BECAUSE they have strong marriages. I need to have hopeful evidence that it is possible to have a long-lasting thriving marriage while still being good parents. The best answer I have heard is from Alison Armstrong, whose trainings have revolutionized my relationship to men and marriage. The point: Take care of your partner first so the partnership can take care of the kids. This means that when I meet my husband’s needs to make our marriage stronger, he is a better teammate to meet the needs that “we” are responsible for. 

Sending kids off to school (kindergarten to college) can create some breathing room to create deeper connections to our spouses. My hope is that you will relish having more time and energy to deepen your relationship with the person you committed your life to. May nurturing your marriage through all the phases of co-parenting and beyond help you be a “Happy Wife for Life.”

 

Reflect & Share: What can couples do to “nurture” their marriage? What is the biggest challenge in keeping marriage first?

Resources:

Happy Wives Club (book & blog)

Alison Armstrong Training & Free Stuff (website)

“How to celebrate being an empty nester” (website)

“10 Things to Look Forward to as an Empty Nester” (article)

“The 25 year itch: Empty Nesters and the second half of marriage (blog)

“Can empty nesters still have a happy marriage?” (article)

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Happy Wife for Life: Friendship is Essential (Secret #4)

Bff loveI’ve never really had a BFF before. Growing up, I floated in between social groups. I never had one person who I saw ALL the time or depended on for all my friendship needs. I guess I didn’t want to over-invest in just one person. Growing up, my dad kept saying that a strong marriage is based on friendship. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be best friends with a husband if I didn’t want to spend 24/7 with any one person now. The thought of marriage brought a tinge of panic. 

The “Happy Wife for Life” series is based on the findings from Fawn Weaver’s book, Happy Wives Club, where she travels around the world to find the threads that weave amazing marriages together. Secret #4 is “Friendship is Essential.” This week we will be exploring how friendship fits into marriage dynamics. Weaver writes, “Each person’s spouse is his or her number one confidant. They all have friends outside of marriage, but their greatest friendship, the one they’ve spent the most time building over the years is with their spouse.”

I don’t expect my husband to provide the same girly-friendship I get from women. I can’t provide him the same testosterone surge he gets when he is with the guys. Same-sex friendships have an important place in our lives. I’m interested in looking at how we can build our “greatest friendship” with our spouse.

I was recently listening to a new favorite podcast, Married with Luggage. This couple is together ALL the time as they travel and live around the world fulfilling their dreams. They did a podcast about introverts married to extroverts.  I have come to the conclusion that I’m more introverted than I thought. I’m not sure how this happened or if it has secretly been there all along. This made me realize why social invites to big house parties are not appealing. I’m overwhelmed by all the people and dissatisfied with superficial chit-chat. Being around someone constantly can be draining. I figured out that I need alone time…and lots of it. I like to hibernate during the summer and winter months because it gives me distraction-free time to restore my energy, reassess goals for the future, and refresh my outlook. Marriage brought the tension of wanting to spend the rest of my life with my husband with the need to be left “the hell alone” on a regular basis. 

BFF necklaceWhat I learned is that being “best friends” doesn’t have to mean we are inseparable. We are not obligated to be around each other 24/7, even on vacations. I had no experience being a best friend before I met the love of my life. My husband taught me that best-friendship is about laughing together, being silly, and sharing inside jokes to reference in the future. We share an abbreviated language, not like pig-latin, but key words with secret implied meaning. We chat on the phone “just because.” We text each other pictures of something we see throughout our day that made us smile. We play. We share our deepest truths and most vulnerable moments with each other. 

This is the first time in my life that I have a reciprocated best-friendship. I see my hubby frequently, but not 24/7. He respects my introverted need to have alone-time because this is how I recharge my energy. He gets the best of me when he gives me space to meet this need. I remember my dad giving me dating advice years ago. He told me to find a man who I can share a “friendship on fire.” My husband provides me with the joy of marriage and the fun of best-friendship. Thanks for joining me on my exploration of how to be a Happy Wife for Life. 

Reflect & Share: What do you do (or want to do) that will make your marriage a “friendship on fire”?

Resources:

“How to Live as an Introvert in an Extrovert World” –Married with Luggage (Podcast #36 with Beth Buelow)”

“How to Become Your Spouse’s Best Friend” –Michael Hyatt (blog)

“Beyond Loving Your Spouse: 25 Ways to Be a Best Friend” –Adrienne May (blog)

“7 Ways To Be Your Spouse’s Best Friend” –Fancy Little Things (blog)

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Happy Wife for Life: Have Outside Interests (Secret #3)

matching couple shirts

“Two becoming one” is an interesting interpretation for blending lives in marriage. Some believe you need to meld into a single identity. It is a heavy burden to be someone else’s “everything.” There are some aspects of our lives that we don’t need to share with our spouses.

This week we will be looking at Secret #3: Have Outside Interests. The “Happy Wife for Life” series is based on the findings from Fawn Weaver’s book, Happy Wives Club, where she travels around the world to find the threads that weaves amazing marriages together.

Separate hobbies spark passion. The couples in the book who are in amazing marriages have their own thing going on that their spouses are not involved in.  “A separate identity is important and keeps each person from ‘smothering’ the other or becoming bored with the other.” Having an outside interest means there is something that is purely your own.

motorcycleOne of my biggest resistances to the idea of marriage was that I did not want to surrender my identity. I had this perception that marriage would require me to be someone I’m not. I was also concerned that my husband was going to require me to participate in his hobbies, like collecting antique bottles and motorcycle riding. His excitement about going on a motorcycle trip is not the feeling I would have from the same experience.

bookclubMy husband is equally not interested in my hobbies of book clubs and high-maintenance volunteer jobs.  I am reminded that part of what I bring to marriage is my separate identity, my passions. My husband does not need to share every hobby or interest of mine. He loves how passionate I am and supports me in my pursuit of enjoying them. My husband’s annual motorcycle trip connects him to a side of himself that he doesn’t always get to experience. I enjoy the benefits of having a revitalized husband when he returns. 

Giving each other the space to have our own separate identity helps us grow into more of ourselves. The passions we experience alone keeps our marriages sparked with energy. Thanks for joining me on my exploration of how to be a Happy Wife for Life. 

Reflect & Share: What outside interest do you have that is not shared with your spouse?

Resources: Happy Wives Club (book + blog)

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Happy Wife for Life: Date Your Spouse (Secret #2)

shave legs bubble bathAfter being married for a while, it is easy to forget what “getting ready for a date” feels like. This might be the night you make sure you shave your legs while taking a bubble bath, put on your favorite dress, and wear that special perfume. All of this feminine preparation can say, “I’m ready to enjoy you.” The process can help us detach from the masculine mode work (or home life) required of us and to transition into feeling pretty. There is something that happens when we feel confidently beautiful, our sexual energy ignites. This is when we become our husband’s hot date.

This week we will be exploring Secret #2: Date your Spouse.  The “Happy Wife for Life” series is based on the findings from Fawn Weaver’s book, Happy Wives Club, where she travels around the world to find the threads that weaves amazing marriages together.

Regular Dates are a Must.  Men need to be reminded that the “hot woman I dated” is still in you. This was the woman who radiated sexual energy, who was easy to be around, and laughed a lot. Regular dates help to remind us both that “I still like you.” Scheduling regular dates tells each other that your marriage is important. There is sacred space on the calendar that I’m protecting just for us. Regular dates say, “us-time is a priority.”

Taking the Lead. One of my favorite podcasts, One Extraordinary Marriage, is about a real married couple who have real lives and real struggles. They lead by example of how to put date-night on the calendar every month. Tony and Alisa have “first Fridays” with a designated babysitter for their two kids. They alternate each month on who will “take the lead.” This means confirming with the babysitter, making reservations, and communicating the clothing attire expectations. One eventful evening, Tony made all the decisions for Alisa. He picked out her outfit, pre-ordered the food at their favorite restaurant, and took charge. All Alisa had to do was follow. She was relieved that she didn’t have to make any decisions. Alisa graciously received everything her husband had prepared for her without complaint.

First Steps to Date-Night. Having to make decisions on what to do can be one of the biggest barriers. “What do you want to do?” with a response of, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Then nothing gets decided. One recommendation I use is saying, “I would be happy with our favorite Thia place or the new Mexican restaurant. Which one would you like?” By limiting choices, it helps the decision-making process, just pick one because I am with both. Another idea is to take a list of date-ideas and highlight the ones you want. This happiness-guarantee list helps husbands feel confident that whatever they decide, you have already a pre-approved “yes.” You can also write each pre-approved idea on a piece of paper, put it in a jar, and pick that way.

Lifetime of Courtship. I’m the schedule-lover in my marriage. When it is my turn to take the lead, I book our calendars. I also have a reminder on our refrigerator a week in advance so we can build up our excitement. For example, I blocked off this Saturday from 10am-1pm for a couple’s massage and lunch. Knowing there is an enjoyable experience at the end of the week to look forward to makes me happy.

Dinghy rideMy husband’s style is usually contingent on conditions.  The water is clear + the sun is setting = “hey, do you want to go for a dinghy ride with me?” He takes control of where we wander, he prepares the pillows and brings the drinks. My husband “taking the lead” allows me to appreciate what he provides.  He leads in a way that is complimentary to his strengths and his standards of the experience he wants to give me.

It is my responsibility to identify what would make me happy. My husband’s job is to agree to what he is willing to provide. This can make our master list of date-night ideas. The process decreases the trial-and-error of spending money without a favorable outcome. What makes my husband happy is going to the same place to eat because it will be a reliable experience. I go with a happy attitude because I know he will get exactly what he wants. This makes him happy. We both are committed to keeping our marriage a priority by going on regular dates and to never stop courting each other.

Reflect & Share: What is your favorite date night idea?

Resources:

One Extraordinary Marriage: “4 Tips to a special stay at home date night” (blog)

One Extraordinary Marriage: “Let’s Go Out” (blog)

“The Top 50 Date-Night Ideas of All Time” (article)

“Top 10 Cheap Date Night Ideas for Parents of Small Kids” (blog)

“Date Night Ideas For Married Couples” (article)

“No More Excuses: 42 Date Night Ideas for the Date Night Challenged” (blog)

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Happy Wife for Life: Create a Daily Ritual (Secret #1)

ritual_making coffeeI recently listened to a podcast episode, Simple Life Together, that described the differences between routine and ritual. A routine is a series of habits that are systematic (e.g. “getting ready for bed”). A ritual is more of a mindful routine that has benefits and feelings of appreciation. My husband doesn’t just “make” coffee. He “experiences” the coffee by savoring each step in the process. This ritual makes him happy and that is how he begins to wake himself up for the day.

The “Happy Wife for Life” series is based on the findings from Fawn Weaver’s book, Happy Wives Club, where she travels around the world to find the threads that weave amazing marriages together.

Tritual_plug inhis week we are looking at Marriage Secret #1: Create a Daily Ritual. The purpose is to connect. Connection creates the opportunity to find out what is going on with the other person. This connection builds trust in our day to day lives.

My husband’s coffee-making ritual brings him joy…so how can we create that nibble of daily joy into our relationship? What I realized is that creating daily rituals helps us get plugged in to each other so we can energize or relax. I think of it like when my smart phone battery gets too low. Reminders start to pop up that I need to get plugged in. If I go too long, the result is the fictional medical condition known as “Dead Battery Anxiety” or a complete shut-down. When couples go too long without intentionally plugging in, there can be tension from not reconnecting or a complete communication shut-down. Creating daily rituals provides couples a reliable source of energy. Marriages need those nibbles of joy on a regular basis.

When thinking about your daily ritual, ask yourself, “what causes you to have the best conversations?”

photo credit: http://favim.com/image/196450/

Morning Coffee

Author, Fawn Weaver and her husband Keith have the “Weaver Coffee Hour” each morning. My husband lured me into this morning ritual. A hot beverage and a slow morning help us to savor.

 

ritual_hug

Big Squeeze Hug

10-15 seconds are recommended. This is not a quick hug. This is a lingering hug, the type that helps you remember someone is waiting for you to come back home or drains the stress after a long day.

 

 

ritual_dinnerSharing a Meal

Eating breakfast or dinner together allows a couple to stop moving around, sit, and listen.

 

 

http://www.windhamhill.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Romantic-Couple-in-Bath-iStock-3124442-XSmall.jpgHappy Hour

This could be a beverage of choice that needs to be savored. Wine. Beer. Tea.

 

 

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Bath Time

Sharing a warm bath or shower can help a couple focus on being emotionally vulnerable.

 

 

 

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Take a Walk

Move in the same direction. The dog needs to go out so enjoy doing it together.

 

 

 

http://www.womansday.com/cm/womansday/images/2R/10-couple-watching-tv-lgn.jpgFocus on the Same Show

My husband and I need to have “our show” that we only watch together. Currently, we are re-obsessed with the comedy, “How I Met Your Mother” on Netflix. Sharing laughter is good for marriage too. It helps to build inside jokes for later.

 

 

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Go to Bed Early.

When there is too much going on in the day, we go to bed early so we can focus on each other. Eliminating visual distractions and being limited to the bed helps us focus on having deep conversations. My husband has agreed to listen for however long I need to talk as long as I’m rubbing his head.

 

ritual_prayerPray

This ritual can empty our thoughts of any worries. It allows your spouse to know what is weighing on your heart so they can provide emotional comfort. This is a ritual that I need to revisit. Praying for each other is powerful.

These small behaviors help us keep our energy charged for the whole day so we don’t get “Dead Battery Anxiety.” We can even take a routine and turn it into a mindful ritual that helps us connect. You may find that you already have a ritual in place that causes the best conversations. You can be intentional about connecting.

Creating a daily ritual could show up in a variety of ways. Ideally, I want a wake-up ritual of coffee for a slow morning, a big squeeze good-bye before leaving for work, a check-in text or phone call, and an evening ritual of going on a walk or watching “our show.” Having multiple ways to connect with my husband throughout the day makes me a “Happy Wife for Life.”

Creating a daily ritual allows couples to be the source of energy or relaxation. It is comforting to know that before or after we part, there is a reliable ritual that brings us together. My hope is that you will create a daily ritual with your spouse that will bring you the same warm feeling my husband gets when he experiences his coffee making process. A nibble of daily joy to savor.

Reflect & Share: What daily rituals do you do (or want to do) to connect with your spouse?

Resources:

“3 Reasons Why You Should Create a Ritual” HappyWivesClub.com (blog)

“Buying Time and Where Do I Start” Simple Life Together (podcast/blog)

Happy Wives Club (book and e-community)

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work (book)

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