Tag Archives: help

5 Things I’m Doing To Help My Wife More

I’m learning more and more that the key to a happy home is a happy wife. The key to a happy wife is making her feel appreciated and keeping her from feeling overwhelmed. The key to both of those is to  help her. It’s basic I know… but like so many things with relationships, it’s not knowing what to do, it’s buckling down and just doing it.

I’ve always figured that if my wife needed my help that she would ask. But she’s the type that things she should be able to handle it all on her own. She’s not good at asking. So these are things that I’ve just started to do on my own. I just made a list of tasks that seemed to drain her the most and took ownership of them. These aren’t things she’s asked me to do… they’re things I added myself and just let her know. She didn’t complain.

Here are a list of 5 things I’ve added to my Husband Portfolio that are really working wonders in my home.

1. I’ve started putting the kids to bed every night. We used to trade nights… now it’s my responsibility.

2. Bathing the kids… it’s my job now.

3. Cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes after dinner? My job now.

4. I must find and complete 5 tasks that help her around the house every evening after work.

5. I’ve secured a babysitter every other Thursday night so I can take her out to dinner.

She literally told me the other night, “You’re coming as close as you ever have to being the perfect husband”. I still have a bit to go I suppose. 🙂

Husbands, I put it to you. What things could you be doing (or are doing) to keep your wife happy, healthy and appreciated? Share your ideas in the comments so that we may all gain strength from your great wisdom!

Helping Your Wife Through A Bad Day

Have you ever been in a situation where your wife is having a bad day and everything you try to do to help doesn’t help at all? I think every husband who cares about the wellbeing of his wife has.

I’ve found that when my wife is having a bad day it’s typically because of one of the following reasons:

  1. She’s not feeling well.
  2. She’s stressed.
  3. She feels bad about herself.
  4. She’s bored or feeling trapped.

My default response it to try to “fix” her bad mood by offering advice and trying to talk her out of it. This has never worked, but until recently it’s all I knew how to do. Even when I offered a fix that included time away or a nap, I would find that even if she accepted my offers, it didn’t always help the issue.

Lately I’ve found that the best thing I can do for my wife is to get her to talk about what is bothering her. Sometimes it takes a bit of pestering on my part to get her to open up. Especially if she feels silly or stupid about the issue. When she does begin to talk, I sit and listen. I do not offer advice. I have plenty… but I keep it in my mind like a check list for later. I limit my responses to phrases that show my interest and sympathy. Ninety-nine percent of the time just her talking about what is bothering her helps her day turn around.

The advice that I’ve stored up then becomes my mental to-do list. So rather than offering up promises of things that I will do to make life better for her, I instead begin doing them and/or offering to.

Try it out and see if your wife’s day doesn’t turn around.

How To Properly Manipulate Your Husband

Yesterday I talked about the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Mom and Daughter were talking. Mom says, “The Husband may be the head, but the Wife is the neck.” or something to that effect. I love that line… because it’s so true.

Today’s post is for the ladies. I want to give you the inside scoop on how to get we men to do pretty much anything you want… assuming you’re intentions are pure.

1. Be nice.

We married couples tend to forget how to ask for things nicely. We tend to take one another for granted. It’s assumed that we’re supposed to do this or that. Men like to be treated the same way you do… like they’re not expected to do things. Ask and you shall receive.

2. Don’t assume we know anything about what you want.

I used to get into a lot of trouble for not doing things that I never knew needed to be done. If you want your man to do something, you can’t hint around… clearly say what you want.

2. Tell us what you’re thinking AND feeling.

We don’t know what your thinking. Even if we have a clue… we don’t know what that means to you. We think differently… so even if you tell us what’s going on in there, we don’t know how it makes you feel. So when you communicate, you might say something like this, “When you don’t do this… it makes me feel….” Sometimes we don’t do what you want because we don’t see it the same way you do. When a loving husband knows how much something bothers his wife… he will change it, fix it or hit it with a club or something.

3. Let us do it our way in our time.

We’re not going to do it exactly the same way you do. Most of the time we won’t do it exactly when you want… and it’ll probably take longer as well. Be ready to truly delegate whatever it is you need. Give it away. If you’re going to worry and fret over it the whole time, you might as well keep the task for yourself.

4. Ask permission to nag in advance.

Nagging is okay… if it’s done right. Tell us a due date on a project… by the weekend, or maybe a week or so. If you give us a due date, and we don’t do it… that’s permission to nag all you want. We can’t even fight you on it. Reminders work better than nagging. Reminding is gooder.

5. Treat us how you want to be treated.

It’s the old Golden Rule. We want the same treatment you want. So even if we’re dropping the ball a bit, give us the benefit of the doubt. Offer to help. Find out if there’s something you could do to help us get motivated. Some of us don’t like making phone calls… maybe you could help us with that part. Some of us hate shopping. If you’ll take the lead on this attitude thing, assuming we haven’t, most men worth a crap will reciprocate.

6. Brag on every little thing we do. Three times each.

Men are not as simple as the media portrays us… except in this one way. If you brag on is OMG! OMG! We will lift mountains to get you to do it again next time. Sometimes wives take what we do for granted. If you wanted the roof fixed… then we fix it… it’s not a problem anymore so we’re on to the next issue. Take a moment and be grateful. It’s good for us… and it helps you enjoy the good things that are going on around you.

7. Pray for us.

Please, pray for us ladies! We’re a mess. And the better your man is… the more you should pray for him! Being a good man in this world is like running up a down escalator. It’s hard work and we need your support! We’re like computers in that way… if you put good stuff in, you’ll get good stuff out. I guess that’s another way we’re simple.

I know there will be readers who may be angered by this post… that’s fine. Everyone has been hurt by a stupid man, even we men, but that doesn’t give us the right to hate on all of them. There are good men out there… and sometimes they’re ruined because they’re taken for granted and unappreciated. Let’s hear it for the boys. 🙂

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Being Unequally Yoked Stinks!

yoke

Today I got an email requesting some information on how to find happiness in a marriage where one spouse is Christian and the other is not.

I just came upon your site & looked through the marriage topic for anything on being unequally yoked. Do you have any wisdom on this subject? I am Born Again and in full-time ministry but my husband is not a Christian. This is becoming harder and harder. Thanks.

I replied asking for any specific questions or angles she’d like to hear about… but I thought I could address the whole topic in a general way.

I’ll start by saying that this is a difficult topic to address since I have never been in this situation personally. I have, however, seen the effect of being unequally yoked on the people involved in such a union, both spouses and children, in my 10+ years of ministry. It’s never ideal and in ever situation it’s a struggle for everyone involved.

Why Is Being Unequally Yoked A Struggle?

When is the last time you got into an heated discussion about Religion or Politics with a friend or co-worker with opposing views? There is nothing in the world people are more passionate about than those two topics. Now imagine being married to that person… sharing a home and a bed with someone who thinks everything you hold dear and sacred is stupid and a complete waste of time.

My wife and I always joke about how different we are… how there is no way we should be able to get along… but the reason it works is because our differences are on the surface. Just underneath we are in complete unity. Our Faith, politics, theories on child rearing, the trust we have in one another, our love for our family… exactly the same. But imagine a marriage where the only thing you have in common is what you eat for dinner, what you watch on TV and where you watch it.

Why Do Christian People Marry Non-Christians?

Most of the time folks who marry someone who is not of the same faith do so because they simply do not think it matters at the time. They believe that they can change the person… or that love will be enough to carry them through. Then others are not very committed to their faith and so their beliefs, though different than their potential mate, are not really practiced and are therefore mostly irrelevant. In rare cases one of the spouses find Christ afterward and then find themselves unequally yoked by accident.

Usually people with a Christian background will begin to depend on their faith more as they age and experience life. Having children also gets people taking their relationship with Christ more seriously. If they were raised in church, they’re typically going to want their kids raised in church. Though the Christian parent has the best intentions, they typically become the ‘bad guy’ of the family forcing children to get up early for church when Dad gets to stay home, enforcing rules that only they believe in… it can really be a huge hassle.

If you are a Christian and single, do yourself a favor. Realize that the feeling of being in love is not what keeps a marriage together… it is the depth of your commitment to what you believe that makes marriage vows stick. It makes so much sense it’s scary. How can you trust your potential spouse to believe in and live out his commitment to you when he doesn’t even share, much less live out, your commitment to God.

Three Steps To Take Before Getting Angry At A Comment

x-men-origins-wolverine-image1

How many times do arguments in a relationship start with a misunderstanding… um… every stinking time perhaps? Something like that. Here are a few hoops you can jump through before dragging yourself and your mate into a three hour shout-fest over nearly nothing.

1. Ask Them To Repeat And Clarify Their Comment

Before you get all angry over a comment, at least make sure you heard what they said correctly. I can’t tell you the times I’ve blown up over something that was never ever said!

2. Assume That You’re Taking It Worse Than Was Intended

I recall in the movie Wolverine where he says “Bub” but The Blob character hears him say “Blob” because he’s sensitive about his weight. We’re the same way. For some reason our brain loves to trick us into thinking folks are saying the exact thing we need to hear in order to be the most offended and hurt. Just knowing this about ourselves can help.

3. Is The Comment A Reply To Your Misunderstood Comment?

When people who love one another say hurtful things, 9 times out of 10 it’s in an attempt to defend themselves against something hurtful. You can judge how bad something you said hurt them by how much their reply stings you. If you say something that gets that kind of response, rather than fire back something awful, realize they may have misunderstood you and find out what they heard you say. Once they understand that you weren’t trying to rip out their heart… things can deescalate.

Two people who love one another are two people who put the other person’s feelings before their own. That doesn’t happen naturally. If it were, it wouldn’t be an act of love in the first place. Take the time and make a decision about your actions rather than allowing yourself to simply react to a comment and you will have that much more peace in your relationship.

Expected & Rewardable Behavior: When to reward a child’s good behavior and when not to.

Natural Rewards & Consequences

Children, at their core, are simple creatures. They’re not so different from us. Behavior that has benefits to them is repeated. Behavior that has negative consequences are not. Two simple categories right? Yes… but they both apply in two ways. Let me break it down like this:

  • Good behaviors that have naturally occurring benefits will be repeated.
  • Good behaviors that have naturally occurring (seemingly) negative consequences will not be repeated.
  • Bad behaviors that have a naturally occurring benefit will be repeated.
  • Bad behaviors that have a naturally occurring negative consequences will not be repeated.

Basically I’m trying to point out that some good behaviors are their own reward… other good behaviors are not. Some, like cleaning a room, have built-in benefits. Others, like telling the truth, can seem to have consequences rather than rewards for our kids. Our goal as proper disciplinarians is to exaggerate the benefits of good behavior and the consequences of the bad. This becomes especially important when life seems to reward the bad and punish the good. Parents are wise when they provide incentives for children to choose the right over the wrong in spite of naturally occurring consequences.

Rewardable Behavior & Expected Behavior

If you’ve read any of my other articles on Proper Discipline then you know that I believe in setting Minimum Standards for your Child. Minimum standards help you to be consistent when discouraging unwanted behavior. On the other end of the spectrum is what I would call Expectations. Expectations is a fair and achievable set of goals we set for our children’s behavior.

Have a look at the diagram below:

ExpectedRewardableBehavior

Anything between your Minimum Requirements and your Expectations is Expected or Good Behavior. Note that even the color of the background has a purpose. Expected behavior is not Perfect Behavior. Children are still allowed to have moods, bad hair days and etc… as long as they don’t drop below our Minimum Requirements. Anything above our Expectations is Rewardable Behavior… and anything that drops blow our Minimum Requirements is punishable. I keep this diagram as a mental image in my mind when dealing with my children. Placing a mental pin on based on their current behavior helps me know what my reaction should be.

Practical Application Time

Enough theory… let’s put this into practice. There was a time that my daughter got a Skittle every time she went potty. Back in the day going potty was an action that rose above her expected behavior at the time since she was still wearing diapers. Once that behavior became standard and expected, the reward was removed. I’m not going to be giving her Skittles for the rest of her life! That girl goes so much she’d be bigger than me by now!

I also don’t reward her for keeping her room clean. It’s expected behavior and it has it’s own reward. She loves her room once it’s clean. She’s learning to put things away faster so she can enjoy it once she’s done. Currently there are rewards for eating or at least trying certain foods. My girl is a very picky eater… and though we don’t make her eat things she outright doesn’t like… we insist that she tries one bite each time we have it. Our Minimum Requirement is that she eat at least one bite. Our Expectation (or Goal) is that she will develop a taste eventually and eat it all. She is praised verbally when she tries the food, and she has gotten better at it, but we save dessert for when she eats a fair bit or all. Recently she finally decided she liked mashed potatoes (told you she was picky) and she was rewarded.

Conclusion

  • Some behaviors have their own rewards and consequences.
  • Parents need to make sure good behaviors are rewarding and bad behaviors have consequences especially when life rewards bad behavior or punishes good.
  • Expected behavior is appreciated but not rewarded.
  • Rewardable behavior is that which exceeds your expectations at the time.
  • Today’s Rewardable Behavior is tomorrow’s Expected Behavior.

If this made any sense at all… or if you have questions… please post them in the comments. If there are ever any more specific questions I can answer concerning discipline, please email me at geeklovesnerd@gmail.com

What Is Proper Discipline?

Discipline

Discipline used to be a dirty word to me. It still has a sting to it. I had a hardcore ex-military step-father who loved to throw it around while he rampaged around the house demanding perfect order. His demands on us changed moment by moment based on his moods. A good mood meant we could be ourselves, even careless and carefree with our behavior. A bad mood meant we wished we didn’t even exist enough to leave a footprint in the carpet. This wasn’t proper discipline.

When it was time to have my own children, I was outright scared. I was terrified that I wouldn’t know how to bring up my children properly. Don’t we learn from the example? Don’t the statistics say we tend to repeat the bad traits of our own parents? I didn’t want to… but was I doomed to put my children through the same tortures I endured? That was when learning proper discipline became very important to me.

Discipline is more than “getting onto” kids, correcting them, spankings and time-outs. Discipline done right is just another word for Discipling, literally making your child into a follower of your example… a disciple. Therefore…

Proper discipline is achieved when we provide a relationship of love and consistency where children are shown the consequences of sin and the benefits of obedience.

Proper discipline starts with love.

We all love our kids… but love isn’t all hugs and kisses. Love holds a child down while they get their shots… because it’s good for them. Love exposes a child to food they don’t originally like. Love forces a child to focus on things they don’t have much interest in like homework or cleaning their room. Love is also patient and kind. It is not rude, self-centered or easily angered. Proper discipline starts with proper love.

Proper discipline is consistent and predictable.

When children think about crossing the line… they need to know even before they do it what is coming. Your response shouldn’t be based on mood or circumstance. We achieve consistency by having a vision for who we want our child to be, being patient and selfless, and having a set of expectations and basic rules established ahead of time. When children experience the same discomfort when they make mistakes and the same encouragement when they make good choices… they will move away from one and toward the other. This is greatly enhanced when they see the principals you set for them lived out in your own life.

Proper Discipline has consequences for bad choices.

When a child steps over the line, it needs to be uncomfortable for them. The consequences of the transgression need to outweigh the benefits. A child may want to loose their temper because it feels good to get so angry… but if the consequences of the behavior are severe enough, they will choose good behavior because it’s not worth it. What are those consequences? That’s where knowing your own child comes into play. Some parents use time-outs, some spank, some use isolation or loss of benefits. It’s all about what works best with the smallest effort from you… and doing it consistently.

Proper Discipline has benefits and encouragement for good choices.

This is the part most old school disciplinarians don’t get. It’s not enough to discourage bad behavior, you’ve got to encourage good behavior. Focusing only on the bad only teaches a child to not get caught. Focusing only on the good creates a child who believes they are entitled and can do no wrong. It’s only in the balance of both do we see the results we want. I don’t believe you have to reward every bit of good behavior… but encouragement is free and should be given liberally. It’s easy to catch a child being bad… we almost look for badness by default. I try to catch my daughter being good too. If I see her share her snack with her brother… I’m going to brag on her to her mom so she can hear. They like hearing you talk about them a lot more anyway. 🙂

More on consequences and rewards in future posts.

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Why Parents Don’t Discipline

screaming-child

It only takes one trip to Walmart to realize something… folks don’t discipline their children very well anymore. You can hardly find a child you’d want to spend any amount of time around while strolling through the isles. Restaurants are even worse. Kids shouting out, squirming, crying or complaining. It’s not just the young ones either… often times the older the child is the more out of control they are.

I think the lack of discipline in the home is the leading contributor to the degrading quality of our neighborhoods, our schools, escalation of chemical imbalances and rising crime rates, drug use and gang activity. It’s a big deal.

So why aren’t we doing it? Why are kids getting away with so much? Why are we pacifying and distracting rather than directing and correcting?

1. Discipline is a dirty word to most of us.

So many adults today were abused or otherwise mistreated under the banner of “discipline”. Proper discipline is not abuse or an overbearing parent… it is a relationship that allows a parent to direct a child into becoming the man or woman God has for them to be.

2. Complicated family situations.

When a family splits up… things get complicated. When money is tight… the urgent will often push the important to the back burner. We love our children… but proper discipline is hard work and so quick fixes become the order of the day. If the child spends time between two households, the rules are different every other weekend. Parents tend to parent out of guilt or as a competition with the former spouse. Since there is almost no consistency parents switch into survival for the moment mode and situations are handled, but not the behavior.

3. Vices

If a parent has problems with smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling, late nights, dating or any other self-destructive behavior it makes it almost impossible for them to be a good parent. If a parent is a liar how can they correct a lying child? If mom has a boyfriend over for the night and the child acts out in school the next day, the parent is defensive against the teachers because she is to blame. Meanwhile the child is left thinking he can do no wrong and will continue to take out his frustrations on every available adult outside of his home. 99% of parenting is leading by example. They will only do what we say for so long… then they’ll do what we do. We must become the people we want our children to be.

4. Simply don’t know how!

There are a ton of parents who would love to have a well behaved child… but they simply don’t know how to do it. They’re trying… but nothing seems to work. I know of several parents who have 3 or more kids… then the 4th one comes along and nothing that worked with the older ones work with him. They have to learn all over again how to get the behavior they need. If you have never seen a model of proper discipline, it’s difficult to know what to do. My hope is that the articles I’ll be writing over the next few days will be of service to you.

Proper discipline is one of the hardest jobs in parenting… but it’s the most rewarding. It’s an investment in your own future… and because of the fruits of your labor… it’s not only the best thing you can do for your kid, it’s the best thing you can do for your own sanity. Children not only need structure, they crave it. Like grass that grows better when it’s cut regularly, children flourish when they are given proper boundaries. They make better choices and avoid common mistakes. They’ll become a blessing to you rather than a drain on you. Check back for more.

Discipline Children With The Big Picture In Mind

I have noticed that a lot of folks have a different approach to discipline than I do… and I’d like to share mine. I constantly see stressed out or embarrassed parents trying to address misbehavior in a public place trying to get the kid to be good in the moment. When I find a behavior that needs to be corrected or redirected in my children my goal is to change the behavior forever, not just for the moment. I think this makes all the difference.

It’s the difference between dealing with the same issues over and over case by case verses changing the behavior so that the child can mature (and move on to the next major issue). Many parents find themselves correcting behavior for the moment because it’s quick and gets the job done… only to find that the same issue arises again and again.

A great example is how children act on a shopping trip. Let’s say a child sees a toy they want. We tell them they can’t have it… so the child pitches a fit. Our knee-jerk reaction is to correct the behavior. We want the child to stop embarrassing us and shut the heck up! But the crying is a symptom of a deeper issues. Shutting them up can be easy… but does it deal with any of the following issues that caused the scene?

A child who pitches fits may be dealing with any of the following issues:

  • Anger
  • Lack of control over impulses and emotions
  • Lack of gratefulness, thankfulness or contentment
  • Lack of respect for parents and others

Quickly pacifying or conversely threatening a child to shut them up does not correct the behavior in the big picture. We must slow down, move past the embarrassment, back up for a moment and look at the big picture when we properly discipline our children. Our goal isn’t to teach our children to be good… it’s to help them be good children. Good behavior is a natural outcome of having a good child.

Here is a list of steps I find myself using when dealing with behavior issues in my family.

What is behind the outburst or behavior? Why has it happened?

Not every outburst is due to bad behavior. Before I run in with guns blazing I like to look and ask questions. What’s wrong? Why are we crying, screaming, spray painting graffiti or whatever? If they’re hurt or being tormented by a sibling… I don’t want to go off half cocked and end up jumping on the wrong kid for no reason.

What is the expected behavior or response I want in future instances of this event?

It helps for you to have a vision of the kind of person you want your child to become. I find myself constantly comparing my children to that standard and working to encourage behavior that leads them to it, and discouraging behavior that would lead them away. If you know what you want from them… it’s easy to know what to correct the moment you see it.

What tools can I give to help my child to behave or respond that way next time?

Kids need to know what is expected. They need to know the reasons why things are bad. If they understand, they’ll take ownership of the standards. They’ll obey the rules because they believe in them… not just because they’re forced to. This makes the difference between a child who acts good and is good.

My daughter threw trash out of the car the other day. She didn’t realize she was being bad. I wanted to modify her behavior so that next time she wouldn’t do it. I explained to her that throwing trash out was wrong. If everyone did it the world would be super messy. That trash belongs in the garbage can or recycle bin. I told her she would be punished the next time she threw trash out the window. Now she knows. Just today she saw some trash outside and told us how someone was being bad and should have thrown it in the trash. A standard I set has now become one of her own standards.

Sometimes we’ve told them, but they have chosen not to listen. They willfully lie, have a temper outburst, or refuse to do something they’re told to do. Talking is still important… but it only works after a punishment that more than fits the crime… but I think consequences are a topic for a future post.

So it’s not enough to squash out bad behavior… you’ve got to deal with the source. It’s like seeing a roach in the kitchen… you can step on him… but you also need to deal with the infestation behind the walls unless you want him to come back. So next time, take a moment, get past the stress and trauma of the situation, keep that vision in mind and help that child move in the right direction.