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The COVID-19 pandemic has put stress and strain on all facets of our lives, perhaps none as significantly as marriages. Chances are you’re reading this because you’ve felt this rift in your relationship with your wife, and you may be wondering, has she lost that loving feeling? And if so, what do I do?

Hope is not lost, gentlemen. Below, I offer you some ideas on how to think and what to do when you’re asking, “Does my wife love me?

Ask yourself, what do I mean by the word “love?”

Are you wondering if she isn’t committed to your marriage anymore? Or does her not loving you mean she’s acting irritable, disrespectful, or mean toward you? Or does it mean she seems distant and non-engaging? These are all very different iterations of what it may mean to feel unloved. Nail down what it is about “love” that she doesn’t seem to be delivering at the moment as you perceive it. 

Then ask, “What are the observable characteristics I’ve seen that makes me think this way?

When you’re in the same room, does she clam up and avoid talking to you? Does she not seem as interested in sex and continually reject your advances? When you try to talk about anything, does she respond negatively or withdraw? These are all observable behaviors you can see in your spouse. However, one word of caution: as you take note of the things you see, you are not stockpiling ammunition to bring down on your spouse later on. You aren’t building your argument to prove that your wife doesn’t love you. 

Rather, the purpose for noticing these behaviors is two-fold: first, it helps you consider the next bullet point below. And secondly, when it does come time to talk with your wife about your concerns (which is addressed later on), it is easier to explain to your spouse things that you “see” rather than things that you “feel.” 

Consider other factors outside of yourself that may be causing what you observe in your wife.

It’s very easy to think the issue is with you when you feel as though your wife isn’t being as loving toward you as before. But before we jump to conclusions and become defensive, we need to consider whether you see your wife acting the way she does for entirely different reasons. 

If she has been experiencing the stress, strain, and anxiety of everything going on in her world, she may not be withdrawing from you; she may just be withdrawing. 

In the words of Billy Joel, “Tell her about it.”

Bring your concerns up to her. Be sure to pick a time and place where you can focus and the air isn’t thick with tension. Ask her if this is a good time to talk or whether another time would be better. 

Be gentle and kind in your words, and avoid placing blame or assuming motives. Tell her what you observe, and use “I” statements. For example, I am concerned for our relationship. When we are in the same room, I see us not talking as much as we used to, and I feel like you’re avoiding eye contact with me. I just want to be sure I’m not doing anything that you see is a problem, or if the problem may be something else. 

And then… listen. Just listen. Ask questions. Become a passionate detective with the goal to learn and understand. And I can’t stress this enough: avoid coming off defensively. Here’s the thing: the problem may be something you’re doing or not doing. And now you’ve given her the platform to voice her issue. Hear her concern, listen to understand rather than rebut, and make it your goal to come to a resolution with her rather than to defend yourself. 

Memorize these words: How Can I Help?

If your wife indicates that you are indeed doing something (or not doing something) that is contributing to the problem, the next step is to understand what you can do differently to make your relationship stronger. 

However, it might be that those other factors mentioned above are at play. If that is the case, your job is to support. And not for the sake of “gaining her love back,” but so that your wife can be the best version of herself she can. 

Keep in mind the way you can help may simply be to be present and to listen. Guys can be fixers. We like to fix problems. Sometimes, our wives don’t want things fixed as much as they want to be understood. (I know—this seems counterintuitive to most husbands. But if we can learn this one little lesson, it changes the landscape of our marriage so much more for the better.)

Lead the dance.

The thing is, even if the issue isn’t you, and you do listen and help your wife to feel understood about what she’s feeling, there’s a possibility that she’s not going to pop back immediately into full-on love-dovey mode. Things like this take time to process and work through. Take the initiative and show her how much you love her. Speak her love language. Write her love notes, send her flowers, be extra diligent with laundry and cleaning, take the kids away from her for a while so she can rest—anything that helps her to feel loved and supported. When we lead the dance and take initiative without her having to ask, more often than not our spouse will get excited about dancing again. 

Don’t be afraid to seek help.

If you’re still questioning your wife’s love, problems persist or you find difficulty in reaching a resolution, consider seeing a marriage counselor together. And again, you might have to be the one to lead the dance and bring this up to your wife.

Fellow husbands, we are in challenging times. Our marriages are being challenged. And it may seem like your wife just isn’t that into you anymore. But hope is rarely lost. You have within your power the tools to contribute positively to your marriage, even when your spouse doesn’t seem to show the love. 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

Dear Wife, 

Congratulations on the birth of your new bundle of joy. You and your husband have started a great new chapter in your relationship. I’m sure you have fantasized about having the best family and you are probably looking forward to seeing how great a dad your husband will be.

That’s why I decided to sneak away from my wife and 7 kids and write to you. I want to help you help your husband be the great dad that he is. You see, if you’re anything like my wife and countless other wives I’ve talked to, one of the reasons you married him is because you thought he’d be a great dad. So here are a few things that are good to keep in mind as the two of you join together to raise your new little one.

He wants to be a great dad, too. It just may look different.

The definition of being a great parent may be different for the two of you. And that’s a good thing. When he doesn’t do things the same way you do it doesn’t mean he’s not interested in being a great dad. It’s just different. Notice the things that he does and the way that he does them and be grateful. We change diapers differently. As long as it’s on there well, it’s good. We may put the baby to sleep differently. The way he tests the milk to make sure it’s warm enough may be different. Is the final result a warm bottle? That’s what matters. He wants you to know that it’s important to him that the baby properly wears a diaper, sleeps peacefully, and has warm milk to drink. His path to those results may look different.

Often the strength of the connection between dad and baby takes some time to grow.

Jerrold Shapiro, professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif., said that it is not uncommon for fathers to experience a delay in bonding with their children shortly after they are born. The baby has been in your womb for potentially 9 months. Your body has released oxytocin which strengthens your bond with your baby. The baby was a part of you.

Lots of guys are more visual. Some may not be as much of a doter when the baby is born. I was jealous of the bond my wife and our first child had in the first few months. When I didn’t have the same desire to hold the baby for hours like she did, I began to think something was wrong with me as a person. I questioned if I loved my child. But then around the 5 or 6-month mark when the baby’s face got more color, she could make facial expressions and talk (at least that’s what she was doing in my mind), I couldn’t get enough of her. Don’t expect him to be like you in his affection for the baby. 

It may take him some time to figure out his role and when he does, he may take that role very seriously.

When our babies were born, my wife’s attention was wholeheartedly on the baby and recovery. It seemed as though she could hold the baby forever and do nothing. What was I supposed to do? I was unsure of myself at first. I wanted to be like her. And then I finally figured out my role, which may be different for your husband. However, I realized that I had to help my wife get her rest. I had to regulate how many people visited and how long they stayed. I had to make sure that the other parts of life got whatever attention it needed. And I became vigilant. This is new territory for both of you. The adjustment period takes time. Be patient with him and be thankful. 

He can’t relate to you not wanting sex.

My doctor told us we had to wait 6-8 weeks before we had sex after the baby. Not having sex and not wanting to have sex are 2 different things. He probably doesn’t get how you aren’t the least bit interested in having sex. He may ask, get grumpy, or even drop hints. I don’t know what he may do. Your husband may be one of the “great” husbands that simply waits patiently without complaining. (If so, know that you’re the envy of my wife and many other wives.)

My encouragement to everyone else… is just be patient with him. He’ll probably try and be sensitive. He’ll try to understand. He may do good for a couple of days and then his desires may awaken again. He doesn’t—and he can’t—understand. His body didn’t go through what your body did. Never has, never will. Don’t hold that against him. Be patient with him until you’ve recovered enough. Give grace. Consider alternative ways to stay physically intimate during this season. (If this becomes an issue that creates serious tension, talk to a trusted married couple who has children or bring in the professionals.) 

Having a baby did not make him a mind reader.

At some point, you may have some resentment for what he is or isn’t doing. He may not move quickly enough to change a diaper. He may not adjust his work schedule as much as you’d like. It may seem as though he’s making you carry a disproportionate amount of the load. The easy thing to do is to build resentment or begin to look at him with contempt and disdain—and next thing you know your marriage is filled with tension. Your husband wants you to know that he can’t read your mind. And there’s a good chance that he isn’t good at catching a hint either. He needs you to talk to him, be open with him, tell how you’re feeling, tell him what you need. Be specific. (Read this blog from a new mom who expected her husband to be a mind reader.)

He has thoughts on parenting as well.

I have met wives who thought they were just naturally the best parent ever.. And they wanted to make sure their husband knew it. According to Pew Research Center, 53% of Americans in 2016 said that mothers do a better job caring for a new baby. Your husband brings more than just his good looks and sexy body to the family. He may or may not have as many thoughts and opinions as you, but he has the ability to work as an equal parent. He needs the opportunity to contribute his thoughts on parenting the child, and he really wants you to work together. Value him as a parent.

Your new baby is a celebration and representation of the love you share and your togetherness. According to research, many couples cite children and parenthood as a major source of disagreement in their marriage. Let these nuggets help your marriage grow stronger as you raise your precious little one together. The best thing you can give your newborn is a healthy, stable marriage.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Image from Unsplash.com

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! This course includes exclusive access to:

  • 5 downloadable relationship-enhancing PDFs
  • Videos full of easy-to-use communication tools
  • Questions to ask each other to spark a deeper connection
  • Fun activities to guide you through each of the concepts discussed

ADD TO CART

Eric was married with two children. Life at home was good, and he considered his relationship with his wife to be healthy. They frequently spent time together and intimacy between the two of them was good. He never considered having an affair until he faced a potentially compromising situation with a co-worker.

“Contrary to popular belief, most people do not set out to have an affair,” says Dr. Shirley Glass, infidelity expert and author of Not “Just Friends”: Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity. “Eric’s situation is all too common. It is faulty thinking to believe that being attracted to someone else means something is wrong at home. It is possible to be attracted to somebody else, even if you have a good marriage.”

Appropriate Boundaries Are Important

“The single most important protector against an affair is appropriate boundaries,” Glass says. “In a culture where men and women are working so closely, you must make sure you are not creating opportunities for an affair to occur. Especially at a time when you might be vulnerable – like right after a fight with your spouse. One of the most common doorways into an affair is where a man and woman who are ‘just friends’ innocently begin to discuss problems in their primary relationship. They are doing their marriage work with someone who might not be a friend to the marriage.”

According to research, 25 percent of women and 40 percent of men will have an extramarital affair at some point.

Glass says that openness, honesty and self-disclosure defines intimacy in marriage. Anything that interferes with that creates walls of secrecy and should be a signal of looming danger. For example, meeting the same person every morning for breakfast in a public place without telling your spouse creates a wall of secrecy in your marriage. If you’re uncomfortable talking with your spouse about it, that’s a warning sign.

Interestingly, only 10 percent of people who leave a marriage for their affair partner actually end up with them. Many say they wish the affair had never happened and that they had worked on their marriage instead. 

So, how can you guard against an affair?

  • Establish clear boundaries.
  • Stay connected to each other and keep the lines of communication open.
  • Instead of creating walls of secrecy, talk with your spouse. Eric came home to his wife and told her about what happened with his co-worker. They were able to talk openly about strategies for clearer boundaries. This strengthened their relationship.
  • If you feel attracted to someone else, never let them know.
  • Watch out for outside influences that encourage infidelity. For example, avoid an environment where other people are fooling around. Be on guard at business socials where drinking and dancing happen and spouses aren’t present.
  • If you have experienced infidelity in your marriage, it’s possible to survive it and be stronger than before. Unfortunately, it takes time for the wounds of betrayal to heal, and both parties must be willing to work together to move the marriage forward.

If you are working through infidelity, Glass recommends the following:

  • Stop the affair. The betrayed person cannot begin to heal until the affair is over.
  • Replace deception with honesty. The person who had the affair must agree to be accountable and create a safe and open environment by letting their partner know where they are.  
  • Because someone has violated trust, you must tell the story of the affair. The only way to tear down the wall of deception is to have an open window – no secrets. Usually, partners want all of the details. They need to put all of the missing pieces together and ask questions. The partner who had the affair must be patient, understanding and willing to share information. This is one way to rebuild intimacy.
  • Identify vulnerabilities in your relationship and begin to work on them.
  • Discuss what faithfulness and commitment means to you. Just because a relationship is not sexual does not mean you are not having an emotional affair.
  • Understand that this is a very difficult process and you may need professional help to work through your issues.

Eric was able to take a potentially harmful situation and turn it into one that fostered more open communication and trust in his marriage. The window of openness and the sharing of uncomfortable situations actually builds a marriage up instead of tearing it down.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

With the right tools, you and your spouse can have the best communication ever!

This easy-to-use virtual 5-day course guides you and your spouse to have the best communication you’ve ever had! This course includes exclusive access to:

  • 5 downloadable relationship-enhancing PDFs
  • Videos full of easy-to-use communication tools
  • Questions to ask each other to spark a deeper connection
  • Fun activities to guide you through each of the concepts discussed

ADD TO CART

In his song Too Cold at Home, Mark Chesnutt sings, “It’s too hot to fish, too hot for golf and too cold at home.” Even if it’s boiling outside, it can be cold at home when it comes to your marriage.

Over time, many people seem to be willing to let sexual intimacy fly right out the window. Yet experts tell us that healthy intimacy is foundational to long-lasting, loving relationships.

In a letter to Ann Landers, a woman wrote about how her parents could not afford a honeymoon so they made a promise. Every time they made love, they would put a dollar in a box and on their 50th anniversary they would take a honeymoon trip to Hawaii. In spite of hard times, they never took money out of the box. Some nights the husband would come home from work exclaiming he had a dollar in his pocket. His wife would tell him she knew just how to spend it!

When each of their children married, they gave them a box and shared their secret. The couple took their 50th anniversary trip to Hawaii for 10 days and paid for everything from the money they saved in the box. As they were leaving on the plane, the husband turned and said, “Tonight we will start working on a trip to Cancun!”

Many pieces of recent research cite how much humans crave intimacy, but many married couples experience a void in this area due to hectic schedules, children (young and old), jobs, stress, etc. Whether you have been married a few months or many years, sex can be exciting, adventurous, fun and creative. 

You may be asking yourself how that couple made and kept intimacy in their relationship a priority for 50 years…

Well, here are some things relationship experts encourage you to think about:

  • Do you always make love in the same place, at the same time in the same way? If your answer is yes, consider doing something different to spice things up.
  • Describe what a romantic time with your spouse would be like. What would be your spouse’s description of a romantic time together? If you don’t know the answer to this question, do some detective work and find out.
  • Does your spouse do romantic things that you really like? If yes, tell him/her so. If not, help him/her to know what you like.
  • Consider sending love messages to your spouse during the day. Stick-it notes in the wallet, voice mail, e-mail, lipstick messages on the bathroom mirror, a special delivery, flowers with a message, a snail mail letter, or a note on the dashboard are all great ways to communicate “I love you,” “Let’s get together,” or “Looking forward to this afternoon.”
  • People find all kinds of creative ways to flirt when they are dating. Think about some of the ways you used to flirt with your spouse. Consider resurrecting those that worked best. The outcome might pleasantly surprise you!

According to Dr. Paul Pearsall, author of Super Marital Sex, “The marriage comes first. All other people and events come after the marriage. Children, parents, work and play all benefit most by marital priority instead of marital sacrifice, because the marriage is the central unit to all other processes. If it is true that we reap what we sow, then marriages are in big trouble – if we put as much time in our working as we allow for our loving, we would end up unemployed or bankrupt.”

If the temperature on the thermometer outside is not reflective of the passion level in your marriage, get creative. Be adventurous and take it up a notch. Even if the passion in your marriage is nonexistent, it can get good. And if it is good, it can get even better!

 

 

Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

David and Claudia Arp believe that fun in marriage is serious business. They have written several books on marriage together, including the 10 Great Dates series.

“In our 30-plus years of marriage, we have learned important things like, if you don’t say what is on your mind when it is on your mind, it may not be there later,” says Claudia. “We have also learned that it is critical for people to be intentional about having fun in their marriage. Most of us lead such busy, stressful lives that many times there is very little left over for the marriage, especially when it comes to anything fun. When the fun dies in a relationship, it is hard to keep the marriage alive.”

Through the years, the Arps have made it a point to enjoy each other’s company and to have fun. One time when they got lost, instead of getting irritated with each other, they realized they were lost together. The kids weren’t with them, so they decided to make it into a 30-minute get lost date.

“We believe it is important to model a healthy relationship for your children,” says David. “Research has shown that the level of a couple’s friendship is a determining factor in whether their marriage will go the distance. In order to keep a friendship alive, you have to nurture it.”

The Arps have many good ideas to help grow the friendship in marriage, including this fun assignment: Kiss for 10 seconds in the morning before leaving for work with your eyes wide open. When you return home in the evening, do the same thing.

The key is to understand that you can turn any situation into a date, even a frustrating one. For example, you can go on a flu shot date. Or, if you find yourself in an airport with an extended layover, go to a gate where a plane is getting ready to take off. Pretend you are saying goodbye to each other. Once the plane leaves, move on to another gate and start all over again. You can do this for as long as your layover allows.

If your marriage could use some jazzing up with a heaping helping of fun, these great dates can build a stronger friendship into your marriage.

  • Take a trip down memory lane. Remembering your past can energize your relationship for the future.
  • Celebrate your differences. Reclaim that unity and diversity you felt before you married. List ways you are alike and ways you are different. For all the ways you are alike, figure out how to compensate for those areas. For all the ways you are different, determine how you can make sure the differences complement your marriage relationship instead of creating friction.
  • Make a date to talk about “us.” Lots of couples talk over each other. They talk about the kids, work, community service, etc. On this date, the Arps encourage couples to talk about “you.” Talk about positive things, your hopes and dreams, what you want your marriage to look like.
  • Have an encouragement date. Verbalize all those things you keep in your head, like when you think he looks really good, but you forget to tell him or when she cooks a great dinner, you think about how great everything tastes, but you never say anything.

“A number of years ago, we moved our office and David gave in to using an answering machine,” Claudia says. “The past few days had been rough so I decided to leave a message of encouragement for David on the new answering machine telling him I was really looking forward to seeing him at home and suggested some activities we could do.

“What I didn’t know is that David had some friends at the office who ended up helping him install the answering machine. Then they all went out to lunch. When they returned, one of his friends noticed he had a message. David hit play and the whole group proceeded to listen to my message. When it finished, the friends turned to David and wanted to know who that woman was leaving that kind of message on his machine. My red-faced husband tried to convince them it really was his wife. Needless to say, we have had more than a few good laughs over that one!”

Fun in marriage is serious business! To find out more ways to create fun and adventure in your marriage, take look around our website.

Looking for more resources? Watch this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

It was an all-too-familiar conversation. Jody went to see a marriage counselor hoping to receive guidance for getting her marriage back on track.

“After seeing the counselor twice, he told us, ‘You have three choices. You can separate for a period of time, file for divorce or keep on working,’” says Jody. “We were looking for someone to work with us on a specific plan for our marriage. Instead, we got a totally neutral counselor who didn’t seem to care whether or not our marriage survived. We weren’t neutral about wanting to save our marriage. He was.”

According to Dr. Willard Harley, psychologist and author of numerous books including the internationally best-selling book, His Needs, Her Needs, this is not unusual.

During one woman’s first visit with a therapist, she specifically said that divorce was not an option. However, at the end of the 50 minute-session, the therapist told her he thought she really should consider divorce. There was no violence in the marriage – simply love gone cold.

“People who seek help from marriage counselors usually assume that the goal of therapy is saving the marriage,” says Harley. “Unfortunately, most marital therapists are specifically trained to be nondirective or neutral. They see themselves as someone couples can talk to, but not someone who will coach them into changes that will ultimately save their marriage.

“How can a plan possibly achieve its goal when there is no goal?” Harley asks. “It’s no wonder that most marriage counseling is so ineffective.”

This does not mean that couples should not seek help. In fact, Harley encourages troubled couples to find a marriage counselor to help save their marriage.

“Couples need to understand that there are times when even the strongest of marriages needs additional support and motivation. Frequently, only a professional marriage counselor or marriage educator can provide that,” Harley says. “An effective marriage counselor or educator will help you avoid or overcome intense emotional trauma associated with a failing marriage, create a plan that will help your marriage, and motivate you to complete that plan.”

Whether your marriage is in significant distress or just in a tough spot, Harley’s tips can help you pick an effective marriage counselor.

  • Before setting up the first appointment, ask certain questions to make sure the counselor will help you accomplish your goals of making the marriage mutually fulfilling.

  • Ask to schedule a 10-15 minute phone interview. If the counselor is not willing to have an initial phone conversation, eliminate that counselor from consideration.

  • During the interview, ask about the following:

What is your goal for our marriage? (Answer: To help you both achieve marital fulfillment, and save your marriage).

What are your credentials and years of experience in marriage counseling? (Answer: a graduate degree in mental health (Master’s or Doctorate in Psychology or Social Work, with clinical supervision in marriage counseling).

This is our problem (briefly explain). Do you have experience helping couples overcome that problem, and what is your success rate? (Answer: Experience helping couples overcome that particular problem with more than 75% success).

  • After both spouses have a chance to speak to a few potential counselors, Harley suggests choosing the one that answers those questions appropriately. Then set up your first appointment.

Jody and her husband ultimately decided to divorce. Looking back at the whole scenario, they question if divorce should have even been an option. At the time, they both felt hopeless about their marriage. Without a recovery plan, divorce seemed to be the only answer for them.

If the counselor had given them a plan to save their marriage, they might be happily married today. They will always wonder if a more encouraging counselor would have helped change the course of their family’s life.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

“You don’t really listen to me and my opinion doesn’t really matter. I mean, you’re just gonna do what you want to do anyway,” my wife would say, never looking me in the eye.

Of course, every time she said it, I would try to make an adjustment and correct what I thought was the issue. Then one night, the tension overwhelmed us. We sat down and had a serious talk, heart-to-heart.

I’m not gonna lie, this conversation was hard, really hard. But, it made me realize that I had absolutely no clue what the real problem was.

In short, I discovered that my wife did not feel valued by me. She didn’t feel as though I valued her perspective, her intelligence or her input. She didn’t feel like I needed her.

This really bothered me, and I felt like her feelings came completely out of the blue. They didn’t reflect how I really felt about her at all.

I decided to ask other guys if their wives ever said things like that to them. The answer was “YES” time and time again.

I even asked some wives from our circle of friends, “Do you feel valued and needed by your husband?” The response was “NO” almost every single time.

So, I decided to ask my own wife a question that I’d never asked her before,

“What makes you feel valued and needed?”

She told me right away, and I didn’t have to guess, offer my own solutions or inaccurately try to value her in the same way I want to be valued.

Now, the challenge isn’t to understand my wife, but to show her how much I value her in the way that she needs.

Last night, I heard her tell one of her girlfriends on the phone about how great our marriage has been lately. So, I’d say it’s working.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Shaunti Feldhahn is a Harvard-educated analyst who wants to enable men and women to have healthy, long-lasting marriages.

“I travel a lot,” says Feldhahn. “People frequently ask me what I do, and my usual response is: ‘I help women understand men.’ The men usually laugh and say, ‘You know, we really aren’t that complicated.'”

Feldhahn’s research found that in most cases, relationship problems happen when a husband and wife care deeply for each other and are trying really hard, but often in the wrong areas.

“I ended up writing For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men to help open people’s eyes so they start trying hard in the areas that will help them avoid hurting each other unnecessarily,” Feldhahn says. “We asked men and women ages 15-75 to tell us: ‘What are your fears, what are the things that light you up, and what makes you feel really bad?'”

Women wanted to know: Am I lovable? Am I special? Am I worth loving for who I am on the inside? 

Guys wanted to know: Am I adequate? Am I able? Am I any good at what I do on the outside?

“These responses were significant,” Feldhahn says. “‘Am I adequate?’ leads to an entirely different set of primary needs than, ‘Am I lovable?’ A solid three-quarters of the men surveyed said, if they were forced to choose, they would choose giving up feeling loved by their wife if they could just feel respected by her.”

Feldhahn realized that women could tell their husbands they love them and be critical at the same time. It happens by questioning his decision-making skills and constantly telling him what to do and how to do it.

“Trying to gain a greater understanding of this, I was speaking with a friend who made the statement to me, ‘I love my wife, but nothing I do is ever good enough,'” Feldhahn says. “I asked what he meant. He told me that they recently had friends over for dinner. When the friends left, his wife needed to run to a meeting so he cleaned up the kitchen. When she returned home she kissed his cheek and looked over his shoulder into the kitchen and sighed. She then went into the kitchen and started cleaning the countertops. I asked the husband if there was anything his wife could have done differently. He said, ‘Yes, she could have said thanks.'”

Feldhahn contends that many women make men feel that what they do isn’t good enough and that they are idiots. In fact, women often say it is their job to keep their husband humble. In reality, underneath the mask of confidence, most men want to do a good job in whatever role, but they aren’t sure they know what they are doing. And they hope nobody finds out.

“When we as women are thinking about something you know it because we process out loud,” Feldhahn says. “When men are thinking, they almost do an internal chess match before they ever talk about it. Our research showed that in most cases, if you see a decision, instead of asking ‘Why did you do that?’ if you will ask, ‘Help me understand,’ in most cases you will hear a long explanation.”

For example, a wife went out to a birthday party, leaving Dad with the kids. When she returned, she asked her husband why he had given the kids juice for dinner instead of milk. He got mad. She got defensive, and things went downhill from there.

“I asked the husband to help us understand. He said, ‘I went to the fridge to get the milk and realized if I gave them milk for dinner there wouldn’t be enough for breakfast. I was going to go get more milk, but the baby was already asleep, and we’ve been having a terrible time with her sleep cycle, so I didn’t want to wake her up just to go get milk. I decided to give the kids juice, which I diluted by half with water so they wouldn’t have as much sugar.’ The look on his wife’s face said it all. This was a perfect example of assuming there was no thinking behind the behavior.”

Feldhahn believes it’s important to let your husband be the dad he wants to be, not the dad you want him to be. Feldhahn encourages women to stop sending signals or telling your man he is inadequate and doesn’t measure up. Instead of questioning his decisions, assume he has thought about it and seek to understand.

 

Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Marriage has a variety of implications- financial, legal, and… grammatical. Pardon my background as an English teacher, but the grammar of marriage fascinates me. Any marriage counselor will tell you that they pay close attention to the pronouns they hear in the office. The pronouns of marriage have important implications, as well as some lessons, if we are are willing to brush up on our grammar.

When two people are dating, there is a “Me” and a “You.” If all goes well, and both “You” and “Me” are willing to say, “I do,” the new pronoun that matters is “We.” This “We” signals the wonderful reality that two separate individuals have formed something beautiful that never existed before. Two have become one and now words like “We” and “Us” are charged with a significance that takes a lifetime to explore and enjoy.

My wife Monica and I took to calling our We, “Team Daum.” (Feel free to come up with your own, much more creative name.) We would often say to each other, “It’s Team Daum against the world.” It was a reminder that we had a relationship that we both needed to cultivate and protect. It isn’t always easy. “Me” comes much more naturally. Each of us had to commit to do the work to move past our “Me” and get to “We.”

As our children came along, they were added to the team and as parents, we were making decisions on behalf of a “We” that included all seven of us. We would sometimes huddle up like we were about to play a big game and put our hands together and cheer “One, two, three – GO TEAM DAUM!” Now, truth be told, our kids grew out of that real quick, but when they were little, it was a fun way to visualize that the family “We” was bigger than any individual “Me.”

There are times in every marriage when “I” is in direct conflict with “We.” The health of your marriage and your family is going to hinge on which pronoun wins. In any team sport, when an individual player puts their own agenda ahead of what is best for the team, the team will suffer.

What does the grammar of your marriage look like? Is it all “Me,” “My,” and “Mine?” Are there a lot of accusations of “you always” or “you never?” Are you cultivating and protecting the “We” that was created on your wedding day? All the best stuff in my family has happened when there was no “I” in “Team Daum.”

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

It’s the one thing most people never get enough of. Many believe it is the key to happiness. People still argue over it, whether they have a lot of it or not enough of it to make ends meet. What is IT? It’s MONEY, of course.

Less than a month into his marriage, Roger Gibson, author of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money, found himself in a very precarious situation. He bought a truck without telling his wife.

He thought she would love his brand new green truck. But the moment he saw the look on her face as he pulled in the driveway, he knew “love” was not the word to describe her feelings. As he saw his wife speechless for the very first time, he began to realize exactly what he had done.

He thought to himself, “She is probably thinking, ‘How can anyone go out and buy a brand new truck without first talking with his wife?’” Gibson managed to create a financial situation in a few short minutes that put terrible stress on their relationship. In hindsight, he describes this as one of the most painful and embarrassing moments of his life.

Money is the number one reason for stress in many marriages. And according to 2013 survey by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysis, financial issues are also responsible for 22% of all divorces. This makes it the third leading cause of divorce.

“The money marathon in marriage often takes on the character of a race,” says Gibson. “At times, the pressure can become too intense and many couples want to throw in the towel and quit before the finish line. Many young couples break all the rules ‘to get it all’ in the beginning. Instead of experiencing happiness in their marriage, they find themselves arguing about spending habits, credit card debt and unpaid bills. They overload themselves with debt, which can cause the ‘ties that bind’ to snap and knock you off balance.”

Just as in a marathon, you can’t start out full blast or you’ll never make it. Instead, get a map of the route and learn to pace yourself so you can make it to the finish line.

Creating a spending plan is key for couples. Spending money is always more fun than saving. A plan’s purpose, however, is to strike a balance between the two.

Believe it or not, intimacy can be driven by personal finances. Budgeting your money helps you think about your dreams for the future. It’s also a reflection of where you want to go. Instead of fighting because you don’t know where you want to go, the plan provides security and brings you together.

If you want to get a handle on your finances, Gibson suggests that you:

  • Eliminate unnecessary debt.
  • Actively manage your finances.
  • Build an emergency account, a savings fund for short-term needs and a long-term savings plan.
  • Spend less than you make.
  • Stop impulsive spending.

“Prestige, people, possessions and pleasure: these are the things that drive us because that is how our culture drives us,” Gibson says. “Everything we do is a reflection of these four things. People who are fighting about money don’t have a proper perspective of what money is.

“Instead of viewing money as a means to accomplish a goal, they see it as a way to satisfy their immediate desires. Usually the result is that finances control us versus us controlling our finances. The way that you gain control is to make a plan and stick to it.”

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***