Tag Archives: better husband

Is your spouse different from the person you married?

wedding ring moreguefileYou’ve seen it in the movies, and maybe even felt it in real life. “S/he is not the person I married,” which is supposed to excuse you from your wedding vows and cause you to go in search of some one more “in sync” with you. I think that is why my blog post “We all married the wrong person” is still the most popular post to date with many thousands of readers. It’s because at some point, most married people wonder if they chose the right partner.

But unless you married a goldfish, the person you married is a distant reflection of the individual who is living and breathing and changing before you each day. Hopefully you are both growing and changing together, rather than living stagnant lives. It should keep things more interesting knowing you are not coming home to the same person year after year, but a person who is developing new interests, changing roles through various life stages, and adapting to changing circumstances. Even if you are not doing it purposefully, you are both indeed changing, and are different from those younger versions of yourselves that expressed your wedding vows.

Matt Walsh captured these thoughts beautifully in his recent blog post My wife is not the same woman that I married.

We’re still young and we’re still growing, and our experiences might very well pale in comparison to yours, but I have learned at least one thing from all of this: that guy was right — my wife isn’t the same person that I married. When I met her she was a 22-year-old college student. Now she’s a 27-year-old mother of two. Sure she still has the same DNA, the same biological identity, and she’s still the kind of girl who can appreciate a good beer and a fart joke. But she’s not the same. That’s because I married a human being, not a mannequin. I said my vows to a person, not a computer program.

Check out the rest of Matt’s poignant post, and reflect on how your marriage has changed over the years, whether it’s been only a few years or decades down the line. When I think of the naive young lady I was when I married my college sweetheart, I shake my head a little. However, I’m confident that I did make the right choice nearly 20 years ago. The other thing I’m confident about is that we will be quite different in 10 or 20 more years, as our children grow into young adults and leave the nest. Rather than dreaming about a better life with someone different, we dream about our future life together.

Are you sharing your hopes and dreams, reminiscing about your past, and laughing together about the mistakes you made along the way? What is something you were surprised to learn about your spouse?

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for more than 18 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Why does your spouse think about sex so much more/less than you do?

candles by Christ Sharp at freedigitalphotos.netMany couples blame vastly different libidos for a variety of marriage problems. Some who have higher levels of desire use it to excuse the use of pornography or straying from their marriage vows. Others have an underlying current of conflict due to this difference. It is more than possible to live happily in marriage with a difference in levels of desire.

In The Passion Principles, author Shannon Ethridge shared some helpful insights and suggestions on the issue. Often, it is the man with the higher desire, but sometimes it is the wife, so she is careful not to stereotype. The mismatched sex drive is the issue, not which spouse is higher or lower.

First, related to why this difference in libido frequently occurs, both spouses may find their libido goes up and down depending on stage of life, level of health, hormones, focus on work or kids, and many other factors.

They key to surviving the fluctuating seasons and pendulum swings from one extreme to the other, says Ethridge is NOT to take it personally. “If you are the one feeling the sting of rejection, it is most likely not about you at all. And if you are the one experiencing a temporary lull in your libido, it is not a sign that your relationship is sinking like the Titanic. Most likely, these difference in sexual thought patterns have more to do with hormone production than anything else, and hormone production is not always something we are able to control,” she says.

Ethridge cites brain research by Dr. Louann Brizendine to explain some biological reasons men generally have higher levels of desire. These include:
1. The sex-related centers of the male brain are twice as large as those of the female brain (explaining why men think about sex more frequently).
2. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for fueling sexual thoughts, and men produce between 10 times and 100 times more of it than do females.
3. Men’s response to stress leads them to think about sex more often. Women’s response to stress is to produce more cortisol, which shuts down their desire for sex and physical touch.

This third point should be very important to both men who want their wives to desire sex more, and to women who wish their libido was higher. The woman needs to have the house, the kids, and the work stress under control to be able to relax and have the cortisol levels come down. That is likely why women frequently say they could enjoy sex more if their husbands helped more in the home. It’s not just a quid pro quo sort of comment, it’s an explanation of how she functions. If the husband can’t or won’t help out in the areas causing too much stress, it may be worthwhile to hire some help if it is financially feasible. It may be a good investment in your love life.

In addition to these differences, our hormone levels change after we have been together for a while. During the passion phase (lasting maybe 6 months or as long as two years), we have high levels of bonding hormones dopamine and oxytocin. Eventually those fall to lower levels as our relationship matures. We simply can’t expect the passionate feelings to be as high as during the honeymoon phase, but that doesn’t mean sex isn’t an important part of the marriage.

Ethridge shares advice from her personal experience that couples don’t need to only have sex when they both have high levels of desire. Instead, she says it’s great to use sex as a way to de-stress from a difficult workday, to use it to recharge your batteries when feeling lethargic, to help celebrate all good news (from a promotion to answered prayer), to provide sexual intimacy when one spouse or both are feeling blue, to bring one another comfort, and of course as a release from sexual desire.

“Thinking of sex has become a way of bonding ourselves together in a very intimate, powerful way—through both the good times and bad,” says Ethridge.

Many people who comment here on the blog say have great difficulty understanding their spouse’s way of thinking about sex. Do you feel that understanding the biological difference helps you understand your partner’s viewpoint? Has differing sexual desire been a frequent conversation or conflict in your marriage? Marriage therapists can help couples understand one another’s needs and feelings about the issue if it is causing considerable trouble for you. Do you have similar levels of desire? Do you find that is unusual? Whatever your situation, don’t give up hope in finding common ground on this issue.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.
Photo courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

What It Means to be a Supportive Husband

Today we have a guest post from Jordan Mendys, who wanted to talk about the challenges of being a supportive husband in today’s modern world. Thanks to Jordan for sharing his personal experience with us!

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I am a young man, so when I say that I was raised in a traditional home, it’s not necessarily referring to a home with 1920 ethics and values, but it’s still a system that I have had trouble adhering to. It’s not that I reject traditional values, but as I have grown and matured, I have seen flaws in the roles that I am supposed to play as son, brother, man, (now) husband, and (to be) father. I was brought up thinking that being a supportive husband relied on something largely rooted in economics. I was to be a breadwinner, which I suppose left my wife as breadmaker.

I rejected this ideal from an early age, and this rejection was cemented when I met my wife. Melanie was smart, individual, motivated, and had goals that I admired. As we dated, we spoke on these topics, and I knew that this was someone I wanted to be with. The longer I was with her I knew that in many ways, her professional potential was greater than mine. That never bothered me, but it once again brought up this idea of what my role as a man was in a marriage.

Recently, we celebrated our first year of marriage, and the lessons that I learned about being a supportive husband were turned on their head more than I thought. My wife started her first year of law school, putting me in a position to finish my grad degree remotely from school. It was tough. I drove 10 hours once a week to get to my school and back home. Money was tight, and that doubt crept in, “Why am I not supporting my wife better?” I was back again on the track of viewing money as the fix, losing sight of what was important.

I learned that being a supportive husband transcends your income. What it means is making tough decisions for you and your spouse. What was important was reassuring my wife that we made the right decision to go back to school. It was something that I always thought, but she would doubt when time–and funds–got tight. But I knew that was something that both of would take care of and be responsible for, and right now allowing her to achieve lifelong goals trumped any other immediate need. What my wife needed wasn’t nicer things or more money, but the reassurance that she was doing the right thing. It was my duty to provide that reassurance, and make sure she felt fulfilled and capable of great things. As I learned from her and her law classmates, this can be daunting task.

At times being supportive is allowing yourself to be supported. I was raised to think that men are stoic creatures that should never need emotional tending to. At times I do fall into this category, pushing away people close to me to deal with my issues alone. This first year was tough for me. I did feel a duty to be an economic staple for my wife and I, and being largely unemployed for half the year took its toll on me. Pushing her away to protect myself and feelings was not fair to her. I had to open up about my doubts and fears. This didn’t fix the immediate problem, but it got us talking, and on a road to healing our doubts.

I learned that the first year of marriage isn’t always glamorous, but the takeaway for both of us was remarkable. I always had an idea of what it meant to truly be a supportive husband, but when those lessons are put to practice it can be difficult. In the end, love trumps all if you let it. If you instead allow for your fears to take over, they certainly will as well. Being a supportive man and husband doesn’t have a set definition, and at times seems to be fluid based on the situation, but you have to be patient, full of love and understanding, and ready to take on obstacles together.

Jordan Mendys lives with his wife in North Carolina. He is still finishing his M.A., but has found a job as a media professional, and helps blog for DX3. He and Melanie celebrated one year of marriage on July 23rd.

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Thanks again, Jordan. These are great lessons to learn early in marriage. This got me thinking about ways I feel supported by my husband. So, I’ll write about  this topic soon. I welcome your suggestions to me about ways you feel supported by your husband, or ways you as a husband feel you best support your spouse and family. Feel free to email me or leave a note in the comments.

Lori Lowe is the founder of Marriage Gems and author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Photostock courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

3 Tips to Warm Up Your Marriage This Winter

Women’s Health Magazine had some good suggestions in its September 2011 issue that I thought I’d share. These cold winter months are the perfect time for giving your spouse some extra attention.

  1. Pretend you just met. Author and psychologist Terri Orbuch, PhD, says couples often stop asking “get to know you” questions, because they think they already know each other. However, since we all change and develop, we need to be constantly checking in to keep the daily connection growing. So, instead of chatting about your daily agenda, spend some time pretending like you just started dating. Ask what he would do if he won the lottery or what her favorite book is. Or, ask about positive family memories or what the best ball game was he ever watched. Anything that would spark a good conversation. Don’t assume you know all your partner’s responses even if you’ve been married a long time.
  2. Tweet responsibly. Avid tweeters tend to have shorter relationships—10 percent shorter, on average. If you’re big into social media, learn how to disconnect from technology and truly connect with your spouse. (Based on a survey of 100,000 people from OKCupid.com) Be sure the time you tweet isn’t time taken away from being one-on-one with your spouse.
  3. Be intimate at least weekly. Frequency of sex is a marker for successful relationships. The average American couple gets busy two or three times a month. But increasing this to once a week generates as much bliss as earning an additional $50,000 in annual income, according to researchers from Dartmouth College and the University of Warwick in England. They even explain the reasoning behind the statistic. “Couples who like each other end up in bed more often, says the study author. “And it’s the liking-each-other part that increases joy.

If one of your goals for 2012 is to give your relationship a shot of inspiration, read my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage , which tells the stories of a dozen amazing couples who used adversity to improve their marriage. Go here for links to Amazon print version or e-books for Kindle, iTunes, Sony, Nook or PDF. If you already have the book, don’t forget to email me for your 7 free marriage improvement gifts, including everything from an e-book to improve your sex life to date night suggestions, an iPhone app with daily marriage tips, a marriage refresher workbook, a video to hone your communication skills, and tips for how to connect on a daily basis with your spouse in just 15 minutes a day.

Photo by Ambro courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Best Posts of 2011

I encourage you to read Best Marriage Quotes of 2011 from Sheila Wray Gregoire of To Love, Honor & Vaccuum. She pulls insightful quotes and 50 of the best links on the topics of perspective, sex, commitment, acceptance, and marriage tips.  While you are there, you may want to check out her other articles. This site is very helpful, particularly for women who want to improve the intimacy and sexual quality in their marriage.

One of the quotes Sheila mentioned also struck me as very important: “What you do EVERY DAY matters much more than what do ONCE IN A WHILE.” This is from an interesting post at Simple Marriage offering The Secrets of Marriage.

For those of you inclined to set goals, make changes or resolutions for 2012, it’s great to keep this point in mind that it is daily actions that matter most to our marital happiness and our overall happiness. While it’s great to plan an annual family vacation or a monthly chat with a friend, these may not be enough of a stress reliever to deal with the everyday problems we face. On the other hand, if we can adopt (or increase in frequency) some behaviors that help us on a daily basis, we may have a happier year. Think of SMALL, DOABLE actions you can do daily to benefit your marriage this year.

Many of us don’t need to revamp our lives or change our entire lifestyle. But by finding small ways to improve our day, to encourage each other, to reduce stress and to show gratitude and joy, we can make a big difference in an entire year. For example, maybe you can discuss an ideal greeting for each other when you meet at the end of each day–making time for a real hug and kiss. Or perhaps you can share a cup of coffee in the morning or carve out a few minutes daily to connect.

The most popular blog post from Marriage Gems for 2011 was: Why are women less happy then men in marriage? This was an interesting discussion, and you can still add your opinion.

I want to wish you and your family a fabulous year ahead full of love and good health.

If one of your goals for 2012 is to give your relationship a shot of inspiration, I hope you will consider purchasing my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage , which tells the stories of a dozen amazing couples who used adversity to improve their marriage. Go here for links to Amazon print version or e-books for Kindle, iTunes, Sony, Nook or PDF. If you’ve already bought the book, don’t forget to email me for your 7 free marriage improvement gifts, including everything from an e-book to improve your sex life to date night suggestions, an iPhone app with daily marriage tips, a marriage refresher workbook, a video to hone your communication skills, and tips for how to connect on a daily basis with your spouse in just 15 minutes a day.

Photo by Salvatore Vuono courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Happy Couples Give Spouses Their Attention

“Happily married couples respond to one another’s bids for attention 86 percent of the time,” says Dr. Michele Gannon in an article for Hitched Magazine. She continues, “They ask one another questions, communicate understanding and respond positively when their spouse asks them to. They say ‘Yes’ to one another as often as possible. However, research has found that in unhappy marriages, couples respond to one another only 30 percent of the time.”

This finding intrigued me, and made me pause ask myself when my husband and I interrupt one another, how often we offer our full attention. I don’t think I’m nearly up to 86 percent, and frequently ask for a minute to finish what I’m doing. Whether it’s for something fun or something important, I’m going to work on providing my attention when asked. Ask yourself if you might improve in this area with your spouse, and even with your children.

Some other interesting research-proven habits for happy marriages Dr. Gannon shared in the article include showing admiration and fondness for one another, prioritizing affection and sex, making time for one another, helping one another grow, and cultivating forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of the keys to a happy marriage in my opinion, and an area in which we can all make improvements. So I read with interest Dr. Fred Luskin’s forgiveness steps. In part, he advises:  “Successful forgiveness requires that we allow ourselves to feel deeply our hurt, disappointment and anger. We need to ask ourselves whether the betrayal or disappointment is a deal breaker or not. If we stay in the relationship, we need to allow ourselves to feel our pain, soothe ourselves, and then be willing to widen our hearts, surrender and risk pain and disappointment again. All of this can happen even if our partner is not willing to take responsibility and change.”

The research findings are from the web site Greater Good Science. I found it to be a truly interesting resource with lots of research-based advice on living a more fulfilling life. For instance, “How well do you know your partner?” shares that knowing your partner’s long-term life goals will make your relationship more satisfying in the future.

Another interesting article I read recently is “The line between no expectations and doormat” by Patty Newbold at Assume Love. It’s about how our expectations can get in the way of our love. Here’s an excerpt:

“You are not a doormat if you take out the trash when your husband fails to. If you were not married, there would be trash to deal with. If you take out trash AND have a husband to love you, you are well ahead of the game. Where you shoot yourself in the foot is when you let yourself expect that if your husband loved you, he would do more around the house or be as prompt as you are with chores. Now, you have trash to take out and what looks like an unloving husband, even though it’s the same husband and the same bag of trash. And while you’re stewing over the garbage, you may very well miss out on some great loving. He might have walked in the door ready to kiss you, but turned right around when he sensed your mood. He might have wanted to tell you he sucked it up at work today and did not quit on the spot because of his commitment to your wellbeing.”

In sum, she says, “When I let go of my expectations, I was completely shocked by how much love I could see in my marriage.” I’ll be interterviewing Patty Newbold soon and sharing her incredible story with you.

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Happy Memorial Day and many thanks to our veterans and to their families.

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Can You Show Love with a Sticky Note?

I apologize if you received this post twice. The e-book was unavailable last week, but was just improved and re-released. If you add a comment, you will be qualified for a free e-book giveaway!

I recently read an e-book called Sticky-Note Love by Matthew French-Holt. In it, Matthew shares advice about how to please women, after realizing he needed to be regularly reminded about simple ways to please his wife. (I don’t know if any guys out there can relate, or if you have us women figured out.) Because Matthew says he tends to forget how to keep the romantic streak alive in his own marriage, he  created a simple system to help. He believes other men have similar tendencies and can benefit from the same model. (You can find Matthew encouraging all kinds of adventure at Adventure-Some.com.)

The gist of his advice is to write your wife a love note every single day. While that can seem daunting, Matthew gives tons of simple suggestions, and even says a one-sentence love message on a sticky note will surely do the trick. The key is to write from your heart and to be consistent. As in every single day. I was surprised how easy and doable Matthew’s idea is; the hard part is in keeping it up.

The e-book isn’t quite as simple as that one piece of advice, as he gives you some of the reasonings behind why it works, as well as many tips and suggestions so you don’t have to sit holding that piece of paper wondering what to say each day. The three pages of ideas for your love notes is one good reason guys should consider getting the e-book! Of course, you want to be honest with your feelings, but it’s a great start.

In essence, the goal is to create a virtuous cycle rather than a vicious cycle. In the vicious cycle, your wife may be seeking acknowledgement that she is loved. When she doesn’t receive affirmation and hear what you love in her, she may question that love and be slow to give affection. This cycle can slowly make you feel out of touch. The virtuous cycle means that as you regularly express love, she becomes more secure and confident in your love. She then becomes increasingly affectionate toward you, which causes you to share your affection and feelings of love even more. In this cycle, you feel ever more bonded to one another.

One of my blogging pals, marital therapist Dr. Michelle Gannon, shares a story in an article for Hitched Media that seems to support Matthew’s theory.  She explains how to have more gratitude and positivity in your life and marriage. Then, she shared this story:

My husband and I were presenting at a conference, and I met a lovely 70-year-old gentleman who told me that he had been happily married for 50 years. I asked him what was his secret to success? He immediately answered that when he was married for one week, his new wife came to him and asked, “What are three things that you love about me?” He answered, “You are beautiful, smart and a great cook.” The next week, she asked the same question. He gave the same answer, and she responded, “You already told me those three things. Tell me three new things.” So he did–week after week, year after year. He claimed that every week for 50 years he has given her three new compliments or expressions of appreciation and gratitude.

So whether you want to be put on the spot by your wife, or whether you want to think in advance and make one grateful comment or write something you love about her every day, it seems clear that this kind of activity makes a wife feel more loved and appreciated. Interestingly, the act of sharing your love and gratitude will also help you as a husband. (See my past post about the benefits of gratitude.)

The e-book is available for $19.99 at: http://snl.adventure-some.com/.

Decide how you plan to express your love and gratitude today. Then figure out a way to be consistent. Whether it’s a sticky note on the mirror, a daily verbal expression, a text sent every day at the same time, or a love note under the pillow each night, you’ll find these expressions go a long way to strengthening a marriage bond.  What are you waiting for?

Photo credit: ©Chad McDermott/PhotoXpress.com