My wife and I are celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary today. I was hoping to take her to some fancy restaurant after dropping our kids off at our in-laws, but instead we’ll be heading to a restaurant close to my in-laws and hopefully won’t be getting the dreaded, “HURRY UP AND GET HOME” phone call with kids wailing in the background.
In the Bible, the number 8 is associated with new beginnings and resurrection: 7 is the day of completion and rest, so 8 is the first in a new series, and Jews were to be circumcised on the eighth day. As we celebrate 8 years of marriage, it feels like God is giving us a fresh start and it’s hard to keep track of all that’s running through our thoughts and prayers.
And this is why I decided to take up this blog again. Safe to say that blogging got tiring for me because I wanted to be a “good” blogger who not only wrote material but also engaged my readers and other bloggers. Far too many times, I found myself thinking about a clever tweet relating to parenting without actually doing any parenting or thinking “This will make a great post” instead of enjoying the moment with my family. My tendency to get addicted to things didn’t help matters. I checked my iFriend all the time: “Hold on hon, I have to see if anyone tweeted me.” In fact, my relationship with my phone has escalated to the point my wife calls it my ife now (as in wife). She jokingly says that but there’s certainly truth in there that even a husband as dull as I noticed.
I don’t know if this blog will be any “good” but I do want it to be something I can look back on and maybe even my kids can read in the future.
Now back to my wife. The reason I mention the Biblical meaning of the number 8 is because God really is giving us a new beginning and resurrection. Dreams I’ve long forgotten are being restored. Emotional and spiritual wounds and scars I’ve tried to suppress or didn’t even know were affecting my present are being healed. My kids are growing up way too fast – D1 is 5, the age at which I had my first crush – and my wife and I have been praying for wisdom on how to raise them. I used to have a neat 5 and even 10 year plan for life but almost all of that is changing. As much as I’d like life to be formulaic and predictable, it isn’t.
And that’s why as we celebrate our anniversary today, I’m grateful for my wife. The future is uncertain and raising kids can be scary and frustrating at times, but I’m glad we get to take this journey together. She makes me want to be a better man for her, for my kids, and for everyone we meet. She encourages me when I’m down and reminds me of Christ’s example of humility when I’m proud. She lets me eat her last bite of cheesecake. With a woman like that by my side, I think I’ll be ok in trying to be the best dad I can be.
People often ask me what the secret to a successful marriage is. Ok, so maybe no one’s asked me but aren’t you just a bit curious? Ok, so yeah, I’ve only been married for 6 years so saying that I’ve got the secret at this point in the game may cause some to call me the Desean Jackson of marriages
So I guess you could call this The Secret To 6 Years (and counting…) of Successful Marriage post.
Anywho, terribly unprovocative lead paragraph aside, I love my wife and I still firmly believe that the #1 thing I can do to become a better dad is to be a better husband. And with this guiding principle and my secret ingredient, each year of marriage has been better than the last and we still look forward to growing old together. Right, honey? Honey…?
So what’s the secret? It’s not an awesome sex life, though that helps. It’s not regular date nights, which help the likelihood of said sex life and thereby your marriage. It’s not a woman who is submissive as some misguided Christians might say. It’s not a husband who completes his Honey-Do list in a timely fashion, though that also helps. So what is it?
You know the saying: you are what you eat? If you want to be fit and healthy you need to eat
bacon good food. My secret to 6 years (and counting…) of a successful marriage is feeding my soul on positive things about my wife.
Granted, that sounds incredibly hippyish, but it works.
Let’s be honest, it’s a lot more fun to be negative. We love sensational, scandalous stories. Our newscasts are usually filled with 85% bad news, 10% weather & sports, and a feel good story tossed in there as an aside. We love gossip. But other than passing the time and maybe a few laughs at others expense, there isn’t much good that comes out of it. And feed your mind and soul enough bad news and we become fearful, anxious, angry, and crotchety – like this guy.
The same goes for my marriage. There were so many occasions I focused on what my wife wasn’t doing or what she lacked. I often compared her to other women or what I envisioned my ideal wife to be like when I played MASH many, many years ago. And what was the fruit of all of that? It wasn’t my wife changing, I’ll tell you that. The catalyst for change isn’t preaching; it’s usually love.
So rather than focusing on what she lacks, I like to focus on the courage and strength she has to wake up every day and love, support, and care for a
unlovable guy like myself. I remind myself how she makes me laugh and how she laughs at my jokes even when I know they’re not actually funny. I see how much she loves our kids and would be willing to give up her career to provide what we believe will be the best education for them.
Now this might seem somewhat similar to the power of positive thinking but it’s different in that it’s grounded in reality. Most positive thinking things I’ve read encourage you to think and anticipate positive outcomes and in doing so, they’ll come about. That can be delusional. If that were the case, my wife would constantly think, “I believe my husband will stop leaving his dirty underwear on the floor and stop trying to make advances at me when I’m dead tired after a long day.” Guess what? No amount of positive thinking will stop that.
And the fruit of all this hippyishness? I fall more and more in love with my wife every day.
What about you? What’s your secret to a successful marriage?
Saying that our marriage has been 100% awesome is like saying that Taco Bell uses 100% beef – only an idiot would assume that statement is true. While it hasn’t been perfect by any means, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Well, maybe I’d keep my mouth shut more often, especially during conflicts. Today, I celebrate 6 wonderful years of my marriage with the woman of my dreams.
While I’d love to write more, I’m on kid duty and putting on the finishing touches for a surprise tonight – yup! I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve. So if you missed these posts pertaining to my wife, you should check ’em out! Happy Monday!
Also, would you mind clicking over and voting for me for the Top 25 Daddy Blogs list? No information needed; just a click http://www.circleofmoms.com/blogger/go-pop-go-1
If you look over at my categories–go ahead, take a look–you’ll notice that the categories with only 1 post are financial goals, baking, and my wife (well, 2 for Wife after this post). Based on that, you might infer that I have very little to say about those topics.
Financial goals in my home are simple: try to make it through each month without saying, “There’s so much month left at the end of the money.” Ok, that statement is facetious. We do set goals to be good stewards of our finances and resources, but beyond that, there hasn’t been much to say about financial goals.
As I wrote previously, I dislike baking. Recipes are often far too exacting, there’s a ton of dishes to do, and there’s no such thing as portion control when you bake – I mean, who bakes 2 muffins?! Nobody, that’s who. Baking always results in a 9 x 13 cake or 12 muffins. Thankfully, my wife likes baking so I still get to enjoy eating a muffin a day for a week.
Unlike financial goals and baking, I actually have a lot to say about my wife. In fact, being the best dad I can be requires me to be the best husband I can be. If you read mom and dad blogs, the spouse usually has no idea about the blog or they prefer to remain in anonymity and often threaten the blogger, “YOU BETTER NOT BLOG ABOUT THIS!” rarely gets mentioned. While I do see many parents working well as a team, a mom or dad who often feels like they don’t get the support they need from their spouses is not uncommon. For me, nothing could be further from the truth
I wouldn’t be half the dad nor the man I am if not for my wife. While I love my kids, they’ll eventually leave the house and later on put us in a home take care of us. The Bible says,
3 Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate. – Psalm 127
So D1 and D2 (and any future kids God blesses us with) are arrows. Arrows don’t serve their function if they are held in the quiver – they are meant to be let go. The Bible says, “How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them,” not, “How blessed is the man whose quiver continues to be full of them.” In fact, with many families these days, it seems kids are boomerangs: parents send them out at 18, they graduate in 6 years, and then fly back home, usually rent-free, and play PS3 or World of Warcraft, and watch South Park and MMA pay-per-views in their parents’ basement.
I may come to regret these words when D1 is 25, moves back home and is dating some deadbeat “entrepreneur” who’s building an exciting start-up company (listen, future kid/bf, as long as you don’t start-up no illegitimate kids, we should be ok. I also just freaked myself out a bit by imagining D1 as being 25) but my kids are off my payroll when they are 18. Hopefully, we’ll continue to have an amicable relationship and they won’t put us in a home will take care of us when we are older. Heck, I’ve been changing their diapers for years; it’s time they changed mine.
While being a dad is very important, I realize I’m only going to be an active dad who is deeply involved in my kid’s lives until they no longer think I’m cool become adults. My wife, on the other hand, I vowed to “have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” So there’s no one I should be investing in more than my wife. Kids, friends, family, acquaintances, Twitter/Blog friends will come and go; I’m stuck with I have the privilege of being with my wife forever.
So what are some ways I invest in my wife?
First, I spend time/energy/resources on her. They say you can tell what your priorities really are by looking at how you spend your time or reviewing your credit card statements. This means I shouldn’t be spending more time on my blog than my wife, or more time with my iFriend, or all the purchases on our credit card statement shouldn’t be for myself.
Second, I remind myself that I am the head of the household. Now, now, before you get your panties in a bunch, let me explain. The Bible says, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” – Eph 5:23. And often, Christian men will (mis)quote the verse just before that that instructs wives to submit to their husbands. These verses aren’t so much a right as they are a responsibility. I don’t have the right to say, “WOMAN! SUBMIT TO ME!”; I have the responsibility to lead the household. So if my wife is constantly agitated, my kids are on edge and out of control, it’s my fault, not theirs. God holds me responsible for the climate and culture in my home.
Third, I try to have date nights regularly. If you need ideas, Eric over at Better Husbands and Fathers has some great ideas in his series, Date Your Wife. Yes, babysitters are expensive, but once again, this is a woman/man you are going to be with forever. If we can invest $200 in a phone, we can surely invest $20 to have alone time with our spouses.
Fourth, I consult my wife whenever I make any major decisions, especially when it comes to parenting. For example, we often debrief after we discipline D1.
Finally, I dust off the boombox from my childhood, stand outside her window and play “In Your Eyes.”
In conclusion, I love you, wifey. You were, are, and always will be God’s perfect gift for me. You’re my best friend, constant supporter and there’s no one I’d rather grow old with. I pray we’ll be like these couples and celebrate 50, 60, 70 years together. I love you.
What about you? What are some ways you invest in your spouse?
Five seems to be a pretty awesome number. Five lions made up Voltron. There were Five Planeteers. Five main Power Rangers. Five Guys burgers and fries. Five star restaurants and hotels. Five stars on Yelp. Five fingers on each hand; five toes on each foot. Five senses. High fives (up high, down low…too slow!). Five finger discount. Pleading the fifth. Five o’clock is typically quitting time. When you’re a teenage boy, having a five o’clock shadow makes you feel manly, or it means you’ve failed 10th grade twice. $5 footlong. I got five on it. Walking five hundred miles. The Jackson 5. The Temptations. Maroon 5. AC/DC. Jazz and string quintets. Five member boy bands…and don’t fake – you know you liked Backstreet Boys and N’Sync. And now…five years of marriage.
Hard to believe, but my wife and I will be celebrating our five-year anniversary this weekend. Hard to believe b/c I made a terrible first impression on her. Hard to believe b/c I (allegedly) said, “I could never date someone like you” to her…I still maintain that statement may not be true or she took it out of context (not that context would help that much), but women usually don’t forget things like that, so she’s probably right. Hard to believe b/c it seems five years has just flown by.
We haven’t had a storybook or Hollywood romance…speaking of which, why do people say that? Do you really want your love life to start off well, enter a massive conflict through a series of events that increasingly lead you to believe the relationship won’t last/wasn’t meant to be, then through a plot twist, things begin to change, climaxing with a passionate embrace and happily ever after…until the sequel? So yeah, our relationship hasn’t been perfect; we’ve had our ups and downs.
We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We agreed on some issues. On others, we argued. We’ve hugged. We’ve yelled at each other. We went into debt bought a house together. We struggled with handling finances no longer as individuals, but as a couple. We’ve traveled. We’ve stayed home together, watching movies and eating ice cream. We’ve done little things to make the other smile, like writing a note on a napkin that we placed in the other person’s lunch bag. We’ve done little things that we knew would anger the other person. We’ve had wonderful conversations while laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. We’ve had to have talks that start off with, “Hey…can we talk?” We’ve built each other up. We’ve inadvertently attempted to tear the other down. We’ve helped each other love God better. We’ve made the other wonder if God dislikes them so much that He would choose that person as their spouse. We thought we were infertile. We eagerly await our second child. We’ve had the joy of parenthood. We’ve asked each other, “What the heck were we thinking?” We’ve enjoyed spending time with our daughter. We’ve worried about her future.
In short, we’ve spent life together. And since life is full of seemingly opposing things: joy & sorrow; comfort & suffering; hope & despair; courage & fear; WIN & FAIL, our marriage naturally has those things as well. They say nothing that’s worth anything comes easy. This is definitely true when it comes to love. Navigating life’s highs and lows individually is difficult enough; to have to navigate it while taking another individual and their needs into consideration is even more challenging. But I realize I am a better man with her than without her and there’s no one else I’d rather navigate life with.
And this is true of most relationships for me. I love my friends and family, not b/c of the way they make me feel, but b/c I’d rather go through life with them than without.
So we’ve made it to five years – which in this day and age of rampant divorce, it seems like an accomplishment, and here are some things that I’ve learned in that time (in no particular order):
- Don’t start a point in an argument with “You always…” Instead, use a statement in the following form: “When you (something he/she does that bothers you) it makes me feel (negative emotion) b/c (reason for the negative emotion).” Using something like “You always…” typically causes the other person to get defensive.
- Divorce is never an option – my wife and I made it clear that we’d never consider the D word save for infidelity. We promised “till death do us part” not, “till something you do that I don’t think I can possibly live with do us part.”
- Build something together – don’t only pursue your own hopes and dreams, but hope and dream together. There are some things for which it’s best to be a bra: provide support. But make sure there are also things you are working on together. For my wife and I, we’re actively involved in church and we make it a point to work together on certain projects and initiatives.
- Remember that you’re on the same team. When we’ve had fights, it often felt like me vs. her and I would be so intent on winning the argument. If I’d simply stopped, calmed my emotions and remembered that she’s on my team, I would’ve saved myself a ton of grief.
- Resolve issues quickly, but not too quickly. Ephesians 4:26 “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” is often quoted by Christian couples, so if we got into an argument late at night, I’d say something like, “We have to resolve this issue before we go to sleep!” Naivety and the Bible out of context – quite possibly one of the most dangerous combinations around. In my haste, I’ve frequently, against all odds, shoved my foot deeper into my mouth and dug a deeper grave, which resulted in more nights of not being on good terms. This isn’t a hotel – extra nights aren’t a good thing. Typically, one person wants to resolve a conflict quickly while the other person needs time. For those that need to resolve quickly, try to understand that the other person needs time to sort through their emotions/thoughts. And for those that like to take their time, let the other person know you need some time – silence will kill the other person. Oddly, in the first few years of our marriage, I was the one who wanted to resolve conflicts right away, now it’s the other way around.
- Consult one another – common courtesy in the workplace dictates you consult with coworkers before doing drastic things, unless of course you’re a ladder-climbing, brown-nosing, backstabbing jerk. If your boss deserves your consideration, how much more your spouse? And you don’t consult w/ your spouse b/c u have to; you consult with them b/c you’re considering them more important than yourself. Mutually enacted, this makes for incredible harmony in the home and marriage.
- In a similar vein: compromise, compromise, compromise. I have a very hot body. No, seriously, I get really hot, especially when I sleep. So when you attach a 98 degree heater to me, imagine how hot I get. Still, my wife likes to go to sleep cuddling (CURSE YOU ALL YOU COMMERCIALS associated with sleep that show a couple happily cuddling as they sleep! CURSE YOU!), so yeah, sometimes I have to compromise.
- This one’s for the guys: if you say something you thought was funny and your wife responds with, “What did you just say?” That’s not actually an invitation to repeat what you just said b/c she couldn’t hear you.