May 30, 2008

Marriage And Family Advice From Will Smith

"Divorce just can't be an option. It's really that simple – if you just remove the option. Because if you have the option, one day that person's going to make you want a divorce. You absolutely get to the point that you're done, and the only thing that keeps you continuing is that there's no other option."

Will Smith during his recent appearance on Ellen


It really isn't very often you hear so much wisdom come from a man in Hollywood. I continue to be impressed with Will Smith's career, but lately I have been much more fascinated by his personal life. In addition to his appearance on Ellen, I read an interview from Reader's Digest shortly before his film The Pursuit of Happyness was released:

RD: You and Jada have been married nine years and, by all accounts, are very happy. What's the key?
Smith: Communication. And divorce cannot be an option.

RD: Your first marriage ended in divorce.
Smith: That is probably the most painful loss of my life. I quit. I could have fixed it. It really was not that bad.

RD: Some would say there's no reason to stay if a marriage isn't good.
Smith: Once you say that, you've lost. With Jada, I stood up in front of God and my family and friends and said, "Till death do us part." So there are two possible outcomes: We are going to be together till death, or I am dead.

To read more of the Reader's Digest interview, click here. If you're up to watching some of the Ellen interview, definitely watch the video below. It's a two-parter, and I've posted the second part because he's got some very grounded insights on many different areas of life. There is a moment around the 4:35 mark that has a lot to do with the subject of this previous post.




May 29, 2008

Bad Marriages Aren't Funny

One of the things I hated to hear as a newlywed was, "One year, huh? So you guys still like each other!" Still like each other? Is marriage supposed to be one big practical joke on the unsuspecting couple? For sure my marriage has changed over the years, but I most definitely still "like" my wife.

This thought comes to me today because I saw a post over at the blog Husband Clothes that is nothing but funny quotes about Marriage, Sex, Men, and Women. Though I always enjoy humor that points out the unique differences between men and women, hearing negative jokes on marriage never really hits me the way it's supposed to. For example:

  • "My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met." Rodney Dangerfield

  • "I don’t think I’ll get married again. I think I’ll just find a woman I don’t like and give her a house." Lewis Grizzard

  • "The poor wish to be rich, the rich wish to be happy. The happy wish to be married, the married wish to be dead." Ann Landers


None of this is at all supposed to insult the writer over at Husband Clothes, it's just the fact that we have these jokes that really gets to me. Is marriage really that awful? Goodness I hope your answer isn't yes. And if it is, have you really ever mulled it over and asked yourself how to change it? I mean, wouldn't life be a lot more enjoyable if you could work on making it like it used to be instead of just complaining to your buddies about how it is now?

And coming back to those bright-eyed newlyweds: Why in the world do we even want to joke about how bad it will be? We may only be joking, but the power of suggestion is very real. Our joke today could be someone else's marriage five years from now.

And bad marriages just aren't funny.


More on this topic:

May 28, 2008

Funny Comments And A Few Links

I was following some of the referring links to this site a few days ago and came across a pretty humorous, um, "assessment" of iamhusband.com. Twisted Sister said, "I hope it isn’t really a woman writing as a man, I will be extremely let down if I find out that is the case." Then in the comments another lady wrote, "So I tried to get my husband to check it out. He decided it was definitely a woman writing it. It was a good try though..."

My wife thought that was funny.

Also, I had planned on posting the follow-up to the Date Ideas For The Clueless Husband this week, but unfortunately I haven't gotten too many ideas sent in (thanks to those who did, by the way). Please, if you've got any great date ideas or romantic gestures that have gone over big in the past, please send me an e-mail and let me know. Let's help each other be the husbands we all want to be.

And finally, I thought I would share with you a few of the man/husband-type blogs I've stumbled across over the last month or so that I've really enjoy reading.

Art Of Manliness: From the About Page: "Generation X and Y is a generation of Lost Boys. We live in a Never-Never-Land where boys stay boys and never become men. More and more males today are putting off college, family, and adult responsibilities in order to play video games and do keg stands. Welcome to The Art of Manliness- a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man."

The Simple Marriage Project: This is a site with great articles (I've used some of their information for a post here.) From the About Page: "Learning to take care of yourself more allows for more passion and adventure in marriage. When this is done by both members of the relationship, you experience the best in both of you." Their latest post: How To Have Curl-Your-Toes Sex.

The Art Of Intimacy: Okay, not really a manly site, but there are some good articles worth reading. For example, How To End An Affair, Depression And Marriage Problems, and When Women Don't Want Sex. (P.S. You know it's not a man's site when it's got that pixie dust flying off the mouse pointer like that!)

That's it for today, we'll see you guys again tomorrow!

May 25, 2008

How To Deflect Unexpected Sexual Tension

Contrary to what we might have thought about the subject before we got married, married men are still attracted to beautiful women. Usually these are manageable feelings of attraction, as we only see these women in passing and can help starve our eyes for our wives by simply glancing away. The moment of sexual tension is short; whether you won or lost, the battle is over.

But sometimes it's not so easy. Sometimes we're put in a one-on-one situation with a gorgeous woman and we can't do anything but think about the sexual tension. This may be at a dinner party, at the office, or with a random waitress at a restaurant. Sometimes it can even happen in the presence of our own wives.

And I call it sexual tension because feeling attracted to a woman other than your wife causes a bunch of crazy feelings inside. Yes, you are attracted, but no, you can't pursue those feelings. Yes, she is beautiful, but no, she is not yours to look at. Sometimes we can be tempted to be a little flirty, and sometimes it's awkward because you don't want to be flirty but you can't think of anything else to say that would ease the building tension.

I once heard a fantastic piece of advice to help during these times. Whenever you find yourself in these awkward situations with attractive women, talk about your wife. In a positive way, bring her up as often as you can. Look for ways to compliment her and share how much you love her. This obviously needs to be done tactfully, but by positively bringing up your wife during conversations with a woman you're attracted to, you will remind both yourself and the other woman that you have a wife, and that you love her very much.

And by doing this, the tension inside should start to ease.


More from iamhusband.com

May 23, 2008

A Better Marriage Through Books

In general men do not like reading (hence the usual 300-words-per-post on this site), but reading can be an amazing way to breathe new life into any project, as we learn from the wisdom of those who have gone before us. This is especially true with marriage.

I found an interesting link to iamhusband.com on the blog reallybigfingerprints.com written by Brent Cole. He wrote, "I've spent a lot of time reading about every topic concerning any job I've ever held, but I've spent very little time reading about parenting or marriage...If the saying 'Show me your wallet and your calendar and I'll show you what's important to you' holds any truth, certainly my reading list would also reflect to some degree what I value."

What an excellent point. We'll read what we have to at our jobs for training. We'll read the instruction manual of a gadget if we run into a problem. In life, we read what we have to read to get the job done, whether we want to or not. But for some reason we don't do that in marriage; we stay confused and stuck in our misunderstandings. And too often confusion and misunderstandings lead to anger and distance.

I challenge the husbands out there to pick up a book on marriage, not because it will solve all your problems, but because it will help you start thinking about how you can solve your problems. There are many great books out there, but I do highly recommend For Men Only (as I have done before) if you're just getting started. It's short – a very easy read – and really helps husbands better understand their wives.

You may not like reading, but your marriage will love it.

Photo by Norby

May 21, 2008

When She's Having A Bad Day

How do you handle your wife when it's just "one of those days"? If you've been married long, you know the kind of day I'm talking about — the kind where there's something about her mood that just isn't normal. Her reactions to things (and often, to you) are unusually negative, her energy level is unusually low, and her outlook on life is a bit gloomy. The immature part of you wants to just write her off and ignore her on those days, and the selfish part of you wants to let her know how hard she's making things for you.

Is it possible to really handle a day like this well in your wife's life? Recently (it was the morning after One Of Those Days) I got out of bed to find that my wife, who had already been up a little while, had written out a little reflection of how I had treated her the previous day. Trust me, it doesn't always go this well, but in the interest of sharing ideas, I thought I'd let you see what she wrote (with her permission, of course). The lessons to be learned are self-evident and won't need any explanation:

"Yesterday, I had a terrible day. Nothing seemed right to me, and I got upset over everything. Nothing was truly wrong, except that our dog wasn’t feeling well. It was one of those days that you don’t even want to be around yourself. And, if others are being selfish, they will just shut you out or tell you how terrible you are being — or worse.

"But my husband always assumes the best about me. He knows I don’t want to be grumpy. He knows that I want to have patience and make the day pleasant for him and the kids — not to mention for myself. He never told me how difficult I was being. He just tried to help me by doing things for me, answering me gently, and most of all, just having patience. By last night, I felt better. I don’t know what was wrong. It could have been anything. But, because my husband assumed the best about me, it turned into a bonding experience. He affirms his love for me, not just when I’m pleasant, but when I’m not. And, that makes my love for him grow. We are both blessed in the end, and our marriage is better in spite of my bad day, and because of his good day — a day of assuming the best."

May 19, 2008

Satisfy Your Hungry Eyes

One of my favorite things about being a man is Woman. God did something amazing with Human Being 2.0 and I will never get over it. He designed men to like to look, and he designed women to like being looked at. That design fits perfectly into marriage and can create wonderful intimacy and closeness if we work it right.

Most husbands are not married to the twenty-two-year-old Photoshopped cover models and the nineteen-year-old college girls at the beach. And for the husbands who are, they won't be for long – age catches up to us all. (That and those who want real commitment don't go looking for the girls who advertise.) Too many married men get caught up looking and lusting after these kinds of girls and they begin to take their own wives' beauty for granted. I am married to an absolutely gorgeous woman, but the more I start noticing the other women around me, the less I am affected by her beauty. And I want to be affected by her beauty.

Televesion, magazines, the internet and summer serve up an entire buffet of beautiful women daily. By starving your eyes from outside sexual stimulation, you can train your brain to define beauty based on the woman you sleep next to every night, and that is a pretty awesome trick.

The more we can keep our eyes away from Maxim and MTV, the harder it will be for us to find flaws in our wives' figures. When we can learn to starve our eyes of the sexual stimulation we get from all women – and only let our eyes go wild for one woman – we will remember how beautiful she is, and she will feel the difference.

So keep your eyes hungry.




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May 16, 2008

Date Ideas For The Clueless Husband

I NEED YOUR HELP!

One of the dreams I had when starting this site was creating a resource place for romantic gestures and different date ideas. Often times we husbands want to be more of a Romeo for our wives, we just can't seem to think of anything — or we can't think of anything we haven't done before. Nothing kills excitement more than predictability, and I thought we could all chip in and help each other out in this area.

If you are a wife, what romantic ideas has your husband come up with that have impressed you? What was the best date he ever took you on?

And for the husbands, what ideas have you come up with that have gone over well? What date night swept her off her feet? What surprise did you come up with that left all her friends talking?

I ask that you not leave your ideas in the comments section here, but submit them using the "Kontactr Me" button below (please subject your suggestion as "Romance Idea"). Next week, I'll share the ideas that have been sent in, and then we'll figure out a good way to keep a running list going.

I look forward to hearing your ideas!



Photo by Thewmatt

May 14, 2008

The D Word

Let's throw an idea out there that is probably one of the simplest things you can do to really strengthen your marriage.

In his last post, A Husband made brief mention of something that I want to address on its own. It's a matter of steering clear of one word, making up your mind never to bring it up when referring to your relationship with your wife: Divorce.

Make up your mind that in your interactions with your wife, you absolutely will not bring up the possibility of your marriage ending in divorce. Not during arguments, not in passing comments, not even while joking (even if she is laughing along).

I don't say this because of anything that has to do with the word itself; it's just the whole concept and possibility it represents. You may not even realize it, but when you introduce and acknowledge the possibility of divorce into your marriage relationship, it isn't easily forgotten and doesn't easily vanish, especially when the going gets tough.

The lifelong commitment you made when you married her was way too awesome, courageous, and manly a thing to slowly chip away at through careless and unnecessary comments about divorce.

May 13, 2008

Ten Simple Secrets To Keeping Her Happy

I stumbled across an article posted by a Peter Myers here, which was actually taken from a story that is officially posted at MensHealth.com here, which they say is actually taken from a site called BestLifeOnline.com. (I did a quick search for it there, but couldn't find the original.)

Pointless things aside, thanks to Peter I came across Confessions of a Perfect Husband: 10 Simple Secrets To Keeping Her Happy, a very well-written article by Hugh O'Neil. The article is definitely worth a read, but I thought I would sum up the author's main points here.

Kill 'Never' and 'Always' – "They're-gas-on-the-fire-words."

Work the reunions – "She gets only a sliver of your attention [when you come home]. Not good enough."

Laugh at her – "What's that you say? Your wife isn't funny? So what? Neither is your dolt of a boss, but you laugh at his lame attempts. Why? Because you're trying to prove you respect him. Bingo!"

Make the lions roar – "...be prepared to bark in unambiguous defense of your family. Don't shrink from this obligation. Your wife's regard for you will shrink if you do."

Be a little lamb-like, too – "A good husband relies on his wife, values her counsel, trusts her to love him even though he's not in command."

She needs closeness to feel sexual, you need sex to feel close – "I have no idea what to do about this. But great husbands have this reality in mind at all times."

Be touchy – "Nonsexual touch is a potent, underused endorsement of another soul."

See the coffee cup – "We don't help enough around the house. We're guilty. But here's the fix: Do more. Not a lot more--just a little more. One of the best things about women is that they really appreciate the smallest sign that you're trying. They're effort oriented."

She ain't broke, so don't fix her – "People rarely change unless they feel accepted as they are. Once folks feel they're not required to change, growth happens."

Play to win – "Set yourself free to play bravely by taking the big risk, divorce, off the table. Decide that you meant what you said at the wedding, that this woman, come what may, is your partner for life."

Mr. O'neil seriously nailed it with this one. Look at that list again. Which ones do you struggle with? What can you do about that today?

May 9, 2008

Marriage Is Not 50/50

I hate it when I hear married couples say things to each other like, "It's your turn," or "I did it last time." Even before I was married, hearing exchanges like this made me feel really uncomfortable. They reminded me of how my sister and I would argue over chores, and I most certainly didn't want to marry my sister. Hearing people say, "Marriage is a 50/50 relationship" didn't sit well with me either. Then one day the thought hit me:

Marriage isn't 50/50, it's 100/100.

The 50/50 mindset is self-seeking. It's when we say things like, "I did the dishes last time, so I don't to have do them this time." And whenever you are asked to do more than your share, you are tempted to be put out. 100/100, however, carries a whole different perspective. Instead of being focused on what you give with your half and what you get from hers, you are solely seeking to satisfy her needs. You'll still both take turns, but not because it's your right, but because you're submitting to each other's love. And 100/100 keeps no record of who did what last. This is yet another way of answering the question, How have I shown my wife that I love her today?

There are many times when it is my turn to do the dishes, but because I have something else I need to do (like this very post, for example), my wife goes ahead and does them. We don't keep track, we just keep working at 100%.

When we are focused on each doing only our own half we are centered on where my job ends and hers begins. But marriage is about teamwork, and what team ever got anywhere with the players only giving fifty percent? If we want to succeed in marriage, both sides have to give it their all, all the time.




Read more from iamhusband.com...

Feeding Your Hungry Eyes
Being Naked
"Fine" Is Not Fine
Get Involved! Date Ideas For The Clueless Husband

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May 7, 2008

A Romantic Comedy You Both Will Love


My wife and I were hopelessly searching the video store one night when we decided to take a chance on a movie neither of us had heard about before. It was called Little Manhattan, and it is hilarious.

Most guys steer clear of romantic comedies and all of their predictable plot lines, much to the disappointment of our female counter parts, so I thought I'd give you all a heads up on a romantic comedy that you both will enjoy — guaranteed.* Every single couple we've recommended this movie to has loved it, even though almost every single time, the man has been pretty hestitant to believe me.

The story's about an eleven-year old boy's first love. The gold in this movie is that it is narrated by the thoughts of this boy as he is dealing with the change of going from hating girls to liking them, and they nail every thought every guy has ever had during these formative years. The women like it because it's cute, and the men like it because they can relate.

So, surprise your wife with a romantic comedy this week. She'll appreciate the thoughtfulness, and you will both enjoy the movie.

*Okay, so I really can't guarantee it, but I thought it just made the point sound stronger.

May 5, 2008

How To Have A Conversation With Your Wife

I found a great blog called The Simple Marriage Project that's got a lot of great stuff on it. One article that really stood out to me was "The Art Of Marital Conversations." This article connected with me right away because I have long since understood that having a real, productive conversation with someone is very much an art.

We cannot talk to our wives in the same ways we talked to our brothers and sisters when we were young; that accomplishes nothing, and we can't call mom when we hit an impasse. (Maybe I need to say, You had better not call mom when you hit an impasse. More on that in a later post.)

I encourage you to read his whole article, but below are his main pointers when having a conversation with your wife. (I've highlighted the parts that I really liked.)

Talk face to face. Anytime you are in a discussion with your spouse that is beyond the scheduling or surface level, do it face to face. If this is not possible, the phone will work, although this can limit the connection and increase the possibility of misunderstandings. Never try to cover deeper issues via email or text messages.

Turn off other distractions during the conversation. If you’re working on the computer, minimize the work or better yet, shut the whole thing off. If you’re watching TV, turn it off. If you are afraid of missing something in the game, get Tivo.

Don’t answer the phone. If it rings in the middle of the conversation, you have voicemail for a reason. Let it do it’s job.

Take the time to listen to her point of view. You are only one part of the relationship. Consider her side of things and ask for clarity if you don’t get what she’s saying. You don’t have to agree with everything she says to still love her. But it will help to understand her if you listen.

Forget about being right or wrong. As soon as the discussion turns to who’s right and who’s wrong, you’ve both lost. If you have an insatiable need to always be right when it comes to your spouse, riddle me this: what’s it like to be married to a loser? If you have to always be right, that makes your spouse always wrong. It’s not about right or wrong most of the time.

I can relate to all of these on some level. From personal experience, being intentional about these five things can improve your marriage exponentially in a very short time. Just wondering: which of these points really hit home for you?

May 2, 2008

The Next Generation

When my wife and I were expecting our first child, I was struck by how often older guys who were already dads would make negative remarks about it. It wasn't that they were trying to discourage me. It was just that, given the opportunity to speak to a "new guy" from their experience as dads, they almost couldn't resist letting me know what a drag it could be or warning me about all the stuff I was soon going to be missing out on.

If we're not careful, we can be the same way when it comes to getting married. You've been married for several years, or maybe even just a few months, but in that time your marriage has had its ups and downs. Then along comes some starry-eyed young guy who is in love and looking forward to his wedding day and the blissful life that he'll have with his new bride. Do you sometimes find yourself wanting to deflate his bubble just a little bit? Maybe wanting to make sure he's clued in to the disappointments he's sure to face?

Catch yourself in these times. We husbands have a responsibility to mentor, encourage, and equip the next generation of guys that follows us. Instead, we sometimes can't seem to resist squelching the enthusiasm (or feeding the uncertainty) of these younger grooms.

There is a time and place for having a down-to-earth conversation with a groom-to-be about the realities of marriage, but casual, off-handed comments are not the place for it. These guys have a chance to start their marriages on the right foot and be the best husbands they can be. Let's make sure that what they're hearing from us is only furthering their desire to do that.


— Another Husband