Day 360: Weekly Article: Humor in Marriage

February 13, 2013

I planned on taking the whole family to see Circus Vargas on Saturday, 9/22, for my 360th act of love because groupon was selling cheap tickets. I waited a few hours to buy the tickets because I was busy. By the time I tried to get the tickets, they were sold out. Everyone was bummed.

Instead of taking everyone to the circus, I read this article from Focus on the Family called “Humor in Marriage” (that certainly made up for missing the circus). The central theme is that laughter does a marriage well. I’ve certainly found that to be true. We both enjoy laughing with and even at each other (though if anyone takes things too far, it’s me). And sometimes a tense situation is dispelled when one of us cracks a joke.

One thing I took away from the article was the authors’ advice to not take oneself very seriously. I get so focused on work and achievement that I often forget to have fun or to experience the little pleasures in life. But you always remind me to take time out for that. In college, I studied and did nothing else. When I met you, however, you broke me out of my shell and got me to go out every once in a while. Going out with you (and friends) became such a regular occurrence that it became a habit for me to take a break from my work to have fun. I like how you balance me out.

Another thing that struck me was the observation that different people find different things funny. What’s funny to me (Duck Soup) isn’t always funny to you. And what’s funny to you (What to Expect When You’re Expecting) isn’t always ever funny to me. But, the article said that couples can learn the humor of the other person and learn to enjoy that kind of humor.

I’ll finish with a quote by Henry Ward Beecher that was included in the article: “A marriage without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs — jolted by every pebble in the road.”

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Day 356: Weekly Article: Money Matters

January 24, 2013

I read this article, for my 356th act of love, on how to get along with your spouse when dealing with/discussing money matters. Dave Ramsey has been a favorite money expert of mine for a while. I’m one of the nerds that he talks about in the article: those who enjoy making budgets and have a hard time budging from them once they’re set. You, on the other had, are a free spirit: one who hates budgets and wants to be free with her money rather than put every dollar into its own budget category. Naturally, then, there is some tension between us when we go over money issues.

Ramsey had some good stuff to say, though, about being willing to compromise (which money nerds have a hard time willing) and about making a budget that we both can agree upon and that fits our income and needs. That’s so easy to write and incredibly hard to do. Even I have grown tired lately of sticking to a budget and have ignored financial matters somewhat in an effort to relieve my stress. But, long term, I think we’re on track, even though the road is long and steep! I think in 50 years we’ll be able to say (assuming we continue on our current path) that we did well with our money, even if there were bumps and setbacks (due to our mistakes) along the way.

 


Day 341: Weekly Article: Driscoll on Leadership

November 9, 2012

For my 341st act of love, I read this article by Mark Driscoll on how men can better lead their families. Much of the advice he gave had to do with making sure men read the Bible on their own and with their families, and that they pray with and for their families. Through 365, I’ve definitely made great gains in these areas. Over time, I’m sure this will have a huge impact on the health of our family.

Another aspect of his advice had to do with physical touch. I’m glad to say that I hug and kiss each of our kids each day when I put them to bed and often hold them while sitting on the couch either reading to or talking with them. I’m also glad to say that you and I often snuggle together on the couch after the girls are in bed.

The other day, our pastor said that his wife is his best friend. He said that sometimes, they’ll sit at the dinner table and talk for a couple of hours after they’re done eating, not because they’ve scheduled that time, but because they can’t help but talk with and enjoy each other. I think that we lack in this area. Though I think we spend a lot of time together, we don’t often talk to each other just to talk or because we’re really enjoying each other. I don’t think we should be too hard on ourselves, though, since much of our energy is spent making sure our kids our happy and healthy. Still, I think we should make time for talking.


Day 295: Keeping Romance Alive

August 6, 2012

For act 295, I read an article from Focus on the Family called “Keeping Romance Alive.”

At one point in the article, the author quoted Bill Maier, who was trying to identify some possible reasons why a certain husband wasn’t romancing his wife anymore. One of the possibilities that he identified accurately captures what was going on with me before 365 Acts of Love:

[It] may be that he is feeling fine and thinks your marriage is going great. In other words, he’s pretty clueless and hasn’t noticed anything wrong with the relationship. He loves you and feels warm feelings toward you, but simply doesn’t express them.

I’m so glad that you were able to bring this issue in our marriage to my attention and that I’ve since worked hard to express my feelings for you in ways that you appreciate.


My Guest Post

June 27, 2012

Note for my wife: Unlike my typical posts, this one is not addressed directly to you, though it’s about you. 

I recently wrote an article for a marriage and family website called Power of the Home.  Here‘s a link to the article and you can also read it here:

About nine months ago, I committed to doing an intentional act of love for my wife every day for a year and I’ve been keeping track of my project—which I’ve called 365 Acts of Love—at my blog. In that time, I’ve committed a wide variety of acts: I’ve written my wife numerous love notes, given her tons of massages, taken her on a whale-watching tour by helicopter, filled our living room with balloons (which were themselves filled with candy and love notes), watched the kids on various occasions so she could go shopping or get coffee with a friend, taken her on a sunset cruise, and the list goes on. As it turns out, this year has been one of the more challenging years of my life.

What drove me to make this huge commitment? Whether or not some lesser commitment would’ve sufficed (an act of love a week, maybe?), I took on this project to rekindle my love for my wife. When she and I first started dating, growing in love for each other was easy. But then, life happened: we had kids and we worked hard to pay the bills and to keep me in school. Keeping our romance aflame got put on the back burner.

Still, it seemed to me that things were okay. My wife and I enjoyed each other and lead relatively happy lives. However, she would occasionally tell me that I wasn’t doing much to show her that I love her. That seemed absurd to me. As she said that more and more, my response changed from confusion to utter annoyance.

Then everything came to a head about a year ago. While driving to the beach, we got into a heated discussion. She told me that I don’t do much to show her that I love her and I maintained the opposite. I told her that I show my love by consistently helping out around the house, being there for the family all the time, going grocery shopping with her every week, working really hard to support our family, etc. I got frustrated because I couldn’t understand why that wasn’t enough. “I’ve given everything for you and our family and I’ve loved every minute! What more could you want from me?!” I thought I had her. How could she argue with that? Very well, it turned out. She said she appreciates those things, but she wants more. She said that she wants to be romanced, but that I don’t do that. She was right—I rarely brought her flowers or told her that I love her or wrote her love notes or held her hand or told her she’s beautiful or took her on dates. Somewhere along our journey, I stopped romancing her. In spite of all that I did for her, I took our relationship for granted.

After that conversation, I decided to change. But I knew that unless I did something systematic, the change wouldn’t last. So I came up with the idea for my blog. It required me to be consistent with its built in accountability and seemed like a great opportunity for change. I thus committed to 365 Acts of Love by creating the blog and posting this resolution:

You are my beloved and I am yours. But after several years of marriage, I’ve grown passive about our relationship–no longer do I passionately pursue your love nor express mine. I’m not sure how or why this happened, but I know that I want it to change. I love you, but desire to love you more and want you to feel loved by me. So, starting today, I’m resolving to commit a different, intentional act of love for you every day for a year, so that our relationship may thrive once again . . . By blogging about this journey, I hope to preserve the memory of this year as a gift to you.

Since I started this project, I’ve realized that my problem is more than just a lack of romance. By not putting the effort into our relationship that it required, I was being selfish. I wasn’t romancing my wife, not because the kids or school or work got in the way, but because my thoughts, desires, will, etc. were all turned toward myself. And it ate away at our relationship.

But 365 Acts of Love has changed things for the better. For one, it’s made an astounding difference in our relationship. 42 days into the project, I said this:

I’m happy to say that after 42 days, I don’t just see a need to romance you, I want to romance you. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 343 days.

And 70 days into the project, my wife told me this:

I feel like we’re friends again. Happy friends. Not just roommates . . . It’s clear you’ve been thinking about me during the day. Like how you gave me that coffee card . . .You’ve been so romantic lately. That’s exactly what I’ve wanted from you this entire time. That’s exactly what I’ve been talking about.

Our relationship has really grown and we’re more unified than we’ve ever been. We’re experiencing a joy that’s been absent for a while. We’re happy to serve one another and we’re setting our sights on serving people outside of our family.

365 Acts of Love is also changing us as individuals. I’ve noticed that serving my wife and family comes more naturally than before (though it’s still a struggle). In addition, my desire has strengthened a ton to keep our relationship and our family together, healthy, happy, and centered on God. And I’ve gained a renewed desire to be the kind of man that God designed me to be.

As for my wife, she’s happier—even giddier—and more confident. She’s more willing to try new things, daring things (at least for her), like riding in a helicopter. She’s putting a bunch of effort into centering our home around loving and glorifying God. And she’s opened herself up to me like never before.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve taken away from 365 Acts of Love is that developing a good relationship requires great care. As an analogy, consider the work it takes to grow a garden. No one expects a garden to flourish from a few days of hard work. Instead, it sometimes takes months of daily hard work for it to be fruitful. In other words, gardens don’t self-maintain or self-improve. But neither do relationships. Both require consistent and careful attention and cultivation. Left to themselves, they wither and eventually die.

I put a lot of work into my marriage at the beginning to get it to a certain level (so did my wife!), then expected it to stay there. I thought that after a while my wife and I would be able to just sit back and enjoy our lives together. But when I stopped working hard, our marriage slowly and almost imperceptibly withered. Although things could’ve been worse, they weren’t where they should’ve been. I’m so glad I started 365 Acts of Love when I did.

I would encourage all of you married folks to consistently and carefully attend to and cultivate your marriages. If your relationship is great, don’t expect it to stay that way without effort. If it’s bad or mediocre, work hard to change it. It’s possible that your hard work won’t bring about the change you expect. But your relationship won’t be good unless you try.