I recently looked up the phrase “Guys’ Night Out” in the popular online Urban Dictionary. According to the Urban Dictionary, “Guys night out is a harmless activity that male friends participate in for the purpose of reinforcing friendship or simply getting together to do something positive. Such activities include but are not limited to beer drinking, discussing business and finances, watching or playing sports, playing videogames or card games, occasionally talking about women or watching a movie that doesn’t suck.” I followed this search with the Urban Dictionary definition of Girls’ Night Out. Clearly the editors of the Urban Dictionary are men. I found the definition disturbing, so I am not going to share the definition here, but in today’s post I want to talk about the role of guys’ and girls’ night out in healthy marriages. Is it appropriate for your husband to go out every Tuesday night with the guys? Is is alright for your wife to play bunko every Friday night with the neighborhood girls? How often is too much? What are the danger signs? Having a sense of individuality can be healthy for the marriage relationship. The research is conclusive that having same sex friends improves health, makes us more attractive to our spouse and improves the overall quality of our lives. Having same sex friends to hang out with occasionally can be extremely healthy and beneficial to the marriage. There are two main challenges with the concept of guys’ night out and girls’ night out. The first challenge is that many couples have never had conversations about what behavioral guidelines are acceptable for the marriage. The problem with this is that when boundaries are crossed it creates conflict and a relational disconnect. When this happens the night out with friends becomes a constant source of conflict and chaos in the marriage. Take some time this week to talk about healthy boundaries in regards to this issue in your marriage. Make sure you have conversations about frequency, types of activities that are acceptable, and mechanisms to have conversations when it is not working for either one of you. The second challenge with girls’ night out or guys’ night out is the reality that we only have a limited amount of time. Our marriage needs to be our highest priority. If you want to know what your true priorities are look at your check book and look at your calendar. Some people are more intentional about their night out with their friends then they are the weekly date night with their spouse. If you are having regular guys’ night out or girls’ night out but are not having regular date nights your marriage is in trouble. Make a decision to fix this immediately. Make spending time with your spouse your highest priority. I have some of the best guy friends in the world. I truly am blessed with wonderful relationships and friends. But my very best friend is my wife, Cathy. There is no one that I love spending time with more than her. We have always gone on at least one date a week. I get with my friends and Cathy gets with her friends monthly or every other month. This works for us. Figure out what works best for you and your marriage, just make sure your spouse gets the number one place in your priorities.
The children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbi, illustrates two keys to having a phenomenal marriage. This book was written in 1922 by Margery Williams. The book tells the story of a stuffed rabbit and his desire to become real, through the love of his owner. It speaks powerfully to unconditional love and being real. I want to share a brief conversation between the rabbit and the toy horse that illustrates this point:
Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?” “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
When you have authentic honesty and unconditional love, you will have a phenomenal marriage. These two relationship skills work in tandem. Let me illustrate. My wife recently came home from a trip where she had been gone several nights. When she arrived home we went out to dinner. At the restaurant, she cuddled close to me and said, “Dave, I really missed you.” The waitress commented about us as a couple, and my wife smiled and said, “I like him a lot!” One of the most fabulous things about my marriage, is that the women who knows me better than anyone else still genuinely likes me. She knows the good, the bad, and the ugly. I never have to worry, “Well if she found this thing out about me, she would no longer love me”. She knows everything. She does not necessarily like everything about me. But she loves me. The truth is I really like my wife as well. I know her good, bad and ugly. Every secret. Her unconditional love makes it easy to be real. My being real helps her love me. These two skills work in tandem. The ability to be real and the ability to love unconditionally. Phenomenal marriages have figured this out. Do you love unconditionally? Are you real or do you pretend and keep secrets from your spouse? Work on these two areas of your marriage this week. As the horse, illustrates in the children’s book, it takes time, but it is definitely worth it. If I can ever be of any assistance to you on your marital journey or if you would like more information about my non-traditional approach to marriage counseling, please check out my website at www.stlouismarriagecoaching.com or call me at 314-606-4272. Until next time, keep falling more in love.
Happy New Year! I want to start this year, by sharing a story about honor and value that could truly transform your marriage, regardless of your current marital situation. The story is a Polynesian legend, that no doubt is rooted in truth. There was a Polynesian island tradition that when a man wanted to marry a woman, he would have to offer the brides father a payment that he believed to be of equal value to what she was worth. Most men would give a pig, chicken, parrot, or some similar small animal. For a woman who was exceptionally beautiful, the suitor might be willing to offer his goat. One day, there was a woman in the village whose name was Isabel. Isabel had just reached the age to be married but she was considered to be more plain and ordinary than most. She did not have many suitors. One potential suitor offered Isabel’s father a goose. Another potential suitor offered Isabel’s father a rabbit. One suitor came along, however, and offered her father ten of his finest cows. Everyone was shocked. No one had ever paid so much for a bride. All the other young men walked away saying, “No woman is worth that much!”. Everyone thought that the suitor was foolish and extravagant. But this suitor knew exactly what he was doing. Knowing the value her suitor had placed on her, Isabel began to hold her head higher as she strolled through the village. She, after all, was now the famous “ten-cow woman”. She paid more attention to her speech, her dress, and her way of conducting herself. She became confident and elegant. Her facial expressions became kind and gentle. Her body movements were graceful and elegant. Her voice was soft and caring. She became what she believed her worth to be and developed into the most stunning, beautiful and graceful woman on the entire string of islands. Everyone marveled at the young woman’s transformation and all thought the lucky man had received full value for his bride price. The truth is he had, and so can you. Begin to view your spouse and your marriage, through this “Ten-Cow” lens that says and believes that your marriage and your spouse are the most precious and valuable things in your life. Begin to treat your spouse like they are the most valuable asset in your life, and you will quickly begin to see a transformation in your marriage and your spouse. Start today! If you know of anybody who might benefit from this post, please share it. If I can ever of any assistance to you and your spouse, please know that my passion is helping good marriages become great, and healing broken marriages. If you would like more information about my non traditional approach to marriage counseling, go to stlouismarriagecoaching.com or call me at 314-606-4272. Until next time, keep falling more in love.
Cathy and I have several Christmas Tradition’s that we absolutely love. One of our traditions revolves around getting our Christmas Tree and putting it up with friends. The job of putting the star on the top of the tree always falls to me. We have traditions as they relate to gifts, our children, date nights and our church. Some of these traditions were started by our families and some of them have been created by us and they are just for us. These traditions are fun and help make the season special. Our traditions also help us keep connected, our love growing and our marriage strong. The power of the tradition is that we do them together and they have meaning and purpose. These traditions have become “our thing”. This Christmas Season, what is your “thing”? What are the traditions that you and your spouse engage in that help make the Christmas Season even more special? If you have a difficult time identifying any traditions, consider starting some this year. Here are a few possibilities:
For date night, drive around looking at Christmas lights. Stop and enjoy the lights, talking about what is great about this Christmas and what is great about your marriage.
Watch Christmas Movies together. Consider picking one that becomes “your movie”. For Cathy and I the movie we love to watch is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. (We watched it again this week!) It is the only time of the year I can watch movies that I have already seen.
Adopt a needy family and commit to making Christmas special for them. Consider getting involved in helping others.
Buy a special ornament that sums up the year. It could be an ornament that symbolizes a special milestone or event that happened for the both of you in the past year.
Bake cookies for your neighbors. After you have baked the cookies consider delivering them together as a sign of friendship and love to your neighbors.
Create a Christmas Eve Box. The box could include a bottle of wine, a board game, pajamas or lingerie, and snacks. Pull the box out after the kids have gone to bed on Christmas Eve.
Write a letter to each other. Exchange the letters on Christmas Eve and consider reading them to one another. The letter could share the highlights of the year, hopes and dreams for the upcoming year and express continued love.
Go to church. One of the most rewarding things that Cathy and I do every Christmas Eve is attend church together. It tunes us into one of the realities that drives our lives, and that is that Christmas is about a God that loves us so much that he sent a baby to be born in a manger 2000 years ago.
Pick a few of these traditions and commit to doing them the next couple of days and on Christmas Eve. You will find that these Christmas traditions are a lot of fun and strengthen your marriage. Also, if you know of someone who might benefit from these traditions, please share this post. Speaking of strengthening your marriage, if I can ever be of any assistance to you and your spouse, please know that my passion is helping good marriages become great, and healing broken marriages. If you would like more information about my non traditional approach to marriage counseling, go to stlouismarriagecoaching.com or call me at 314-606-4272. Until next time, keep falling more in love. Merry Christmas Everyone!
Ludwig Van Beethoven was the most famous and influential composers that ever lived. By his late 20’s his hearing began to deteriorate and by the end of his life he was completely deaf. Many of Beethoven’s most admired works were written, composed and performed after he had lost his hearing. Although he was stricken with ears that could not hear, he continued to compose songs on his harpsichord. Because Beethoven could not hear, he had not had his harpsichord tuned for years and it was sorely out of tune. In fact, several of the strings were so out of tune that when he played them they would sound terrible. He would write a composition, script it on his score and then he would play the notes. One story is told that as he played the notes, tears would be streaming down his face even though it sounded discordant and dissonant. But it did not sound this way to Beethoven, because he heard the sound that the instrument should make and not the sound that the instrument did make. For Beethoven, the music was beautiful. Our marriages can benefit from this lesson. Ralf Waldo Emerson said, “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be and he will become what he should be.” We can begin to train our eyes to see our spouse the way they could be and our marriage the way it could be instead of always focusing on what is wrong. As we begin to focus on future potential as opposed to current problems, our marital situation will begin to change. Take the Beethoven Challenge this week. For the next seven days, focus only on what your spouse does right and what is beautiful about your marriage. If you can’t identify anything, focus on what could be right and could be beautiful. It is easy to focus on what is not right, what is not working and what you don’t want. The challenge is that when we focus on these things, they continue to persist. This week focus positively on your spouse and your marriage. You will be amazed that as you listen for the finished symphony, a refined masterpiece will emerge. Be certain to take the Beethoven Challenge this week and share this post with anyone who may need the encouragement.
This coming Saturday November 19th, I have been invited to be a special guest on one of the number one talk radio stations in the St. Louis Market, 590 The Fan. I will be a guest on the She Said, He Said Show. Kelley Lamm and Gordon Montgomery are a lot of fun and they have a great show. Plan on joining us Saturday morning at 9:00am on 590, The Fan. If I can ever be of any assistance to you as you strive to create a phenomenal marriage or if you would like more information about my alternative to marriage counseling, please contact me at 314-606-4272 or check out the stlouismarriagecoaching.com website. I work with individuals and couples. My passion is helping people save their broken marriages and turn good marriages into great marriages. Until next week keep falling more in love.
In the classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie tells the story of a young man who worried himself into a nervous breakdown. He worried about everything: his weight, his hair, his money, losing the girl he wanted to marry and what others thought about him. He worried that he had ulcers. Eventually, his worry made it impossible for him to work. Something had to give, and that was when he had his breakdown. The young man avoided everyone and cried a lot. He decided to go to Florida to see if a change in scenery would help him. When he got on the train, his father handed him a letter and told him not to open it until he reached his destination. He was even more miserable in Florida than he had been at home. Finally, he opened the letter from his father: “Son, you are 1,500 miles from home, and you don’t feel any different, do you? I knew you wouldn’t, because you took with you the one thing that is the cause of all your trouble, that is yourself. There is nothing wrong with either your body or your mind. It is not situations you have met that have thrown you; it is what you think of these situations. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” When you realize that, son, come home, for you will be cured.” After some reflection he realized that his father was right. It was not the world that needed to change; it was merely the lens of his mind that needed adjustment. He came home and found his father was right. I wish Fathers every where would give their sons and daughters similar letters, when their children believe that happiness is found by moving to another marriage. On a regular basis I work with men and women who find themselves in the same place that this young man found himself in. People who believe that happiness is one relationship away, or one move away. These are people who are in a crisis and are making a mess out of their marriages and their lives. All of them ask me, “Don’t I have a right to be happy”. I say, “Absolutely you have the right to be happy, but if you think leaving your marriage, your children, your current situation is the key to happiness you are mistaken.” Sometimes they don’t listen and end up in “Florida” miserable leaving a trail of broken promises and people. But sometimes they figure it out, begin to work on themselves, discover happiness and end up having phenomenal marriages. Today, if you find yourself heading to “Florida”, come home. Fight for your marriage, your family and you will discover happiness. If your spouse is heading toward “Florida”, be encouraged, they can and do come home. Please share this post with anyone whose marriage might be encouraged by this post. If I can ever be of service to you in your marriage, my passion is helping save broken marriages and making good marriages great. To learn more about my non traditional approach to marriage counseling or to schedule an appointment, call 314-606-4272 or check out the St. Louis Marriage coaching website at stlouismarriagecoaching.com. Until next week, keep falling more in love.
“The grass is not greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it!” One of the most unfortunate realities in marriage is the phenomena of extramarital affairs. According to a recent study conducted by Rafael Wlodarski and his team of researchers at Oxford University, 60 percent of men and over 45 percent of women will cheat at some point in their marriages. Affairs affect 1 out of every 2.7 couples, which is almost one third of all marriages. These same studies suggest that only 1 to 3 affairs out of 100 end up in marriage, and of these 75% will end in divorce. The end result of affairs is devastating. For the spouse who has been betrayed, the effects are incredibly damaging. If the stats are so overwhelming and the end result is so painful, why do affairs occur so frequently? It is the “grass is greener” syndrome. The belief that life over their is going to be better than it is here. In my coaching business I frequently have the opportunity to work with people who are having affairs. They almost always say things like, “Dave, you don’t understand this person is my soul mate” or “We are just so happy together” or “This relationship is different”. The truth is these individuals are always living in a fantasy world. They are leaving their children, their spouses, their responsibilities at home and entering a fantasy world where they play, have fun, and are the center of their affair partners’ attention. These people usually ask me, “How can something that feels so right, be so wrong?” or “I never feel this way when I am with my spouse”. The reason they don’t feel this way with their spouse is that they are not doing the things that they do with their affair partner with their spouse. The grass is not greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it. I have found that when these individuals begin to lean back into their marriages, they discover that feelings do come back. Affairs never happen in a vacuum. There are always underlying reasons why a person strays. The good news is that when these issues are dealt with, when the affair ends (and they almost always do), marriage reconciliation becomes a possibility. There are some people who say, if my spouse cheats, “I am done”. There are others who have weathered the storm of infidelity and report that they are glad they did because today they have phenomenal marriages. If you are reading this and are having an affair, realize that statistically speaking the odds are stacked against you. Put the energy you are putting into your affair partner towards your marriage. You will be amazed to learn that the grass is greener where you water it. If your spouse is having an affair and you are inclined to save your marriage, don’t give up on them. Work on you, love them unconditionally and fight for your marriage.
As a marriage coach, I help people end affairs, recover from affairs, and begin to piece their relationships back together again. To learn more about my non- traditional approach to marriage counseling or to schedule an appointment call 314-606-4272 or check out the St. Louis Marriage Coaching website at stlouismarriagecoaching.com. Until next week, keep falling more in love.
True of False? “Happy Wife, Happy Life!” Not surprisingly, the correct answer to this ditty is true. But not for the reasons often implied. Usually when we use this phrase, the implication is that if a spouse wants to be happy it is their duty to make their spouse happy. If the husband does the right combination of acts of service, avoids doing things that upset or anger her and is generally subservient to his wife’s wishes and demands, then everything will go smoothly and everyone will be happy. While I am a huge proponent of putting love first, avoiding fighting and arguing, and for the most part meeting the needs and wishes of your spouse, the fact is it is not your responsibility to make your spouse happy. I repeat, it is not your responsibility to make your spouse happy. Nor is it their responsibility to make you happy. There has been a great deal of research conducted lately in the field of positive phycology. It used to be assumed that a happy wife, led to a happy marriage. The thought was that if “momma is not happy, nobody’s happy”. But the research is showing a different reality. Individuals who are looking for happiness inside of their marriage, end up not having happy marriages. Happy people who bring their happiness to the marriage, have happy marriages. In other words, it is not the marriage that creates the happy person, the happy person creates a happy marriage. When individuals begin to understand that happiness in “inside” work and not the result of “outside” circumstances falling into place, their own happiness level begins to soar. Positive phycology is teaching that there are pathways that lead to happiness. When individuals learn these pathways they generally increase their own happiness. Some of these pathways include learning to become a more positive person, understanding the power of gratitude, learning positive self talk and developing a healthier life style. In my work with couples I frequently hear people who are experiencing mid-life crisis say, “I am just not happy”. They say this as an excuse to leave the marriage. Frequently they believe that by changing spouses they will be happier. They fall into the trap of believing that the source of their unhappiness is their spouse. For this reason, at every day long intensive that I conduct I have both of the spouses watch the documentary, “Happy”. (I highly recommend this documentary). The truth is if you are not happy, leaving your marriage is not going to make you happy. You are going to end up more miserable. Happiness is inside work not out side work. If you want to increase the happiness ratio of your marriage, work on becoming a happier person. When happy people, bring their happiness to the marriage, they have happy marriages. There is nothing wrong with focusing on your happiness, just be certain that you are not looking at your spouse as the source of that happiness. Happy wife, happy husband, happy marriage.
Thank you for reading today’s post. If you have a friend who might benefit from this information, please share it. Also, know if there is ever any way that I can be of any assistance to helping your marriage, or if you would like to learn more about my non traditional approach to marriage counseling, you can call me at 314-606-4272 or check out www.stlouismarriagecoaching.com. I do phone sessions, in office sessions and day long intensive retreats. My mission is to help save a million marriages, and I am doing this one marriage at a time, one day at a time. Until next week, keep falling more in love!
When you have something of great value, your natural inclination is to protect it. For most of us our most expensive assets are our homes and cars. For this reason, most of us have home owner’s insurance and car insurance. Our most precious asset is our marriage. Unlike our cars and homes, our spouse is not replaceable. (Or at least they shouldn’t be.) In the same way we protect our financial assets, we must have a plan to protect our marriage. One of the elements in creating a phenomenal marriage is to have a plan in place to protect the marriage from forces that have the potential to lessen or destroy the marriage. Imagine that your marriage is a beautiful castle that is located in hostile territory. If you owned a castle in hostile territory you would most certainly build a mote around it. The mote would serve as an advance warning system and defense against invading enemies. In the same way you can build a mote around your marriage. There are many ways to build this mote and protect your marriage, but for today I want to share my top two ways.
The first way to insure your marriage against outside forces that seek to weaken your relationship is to make your marriage your number one priority. Make your spouse more important than other family members, your friends, your jobs, where you live, your home, hobbies or money. When many of us were married we included the phrase, “Forsaking all others” in our wedding vows. When we made that promise we were saying to our spouses, you are going to be my number one, forever. What about children? Shouldn’t they be our number one priority? Your children are your number one priority, next to your commitment to each other. The best gift you can give your children is put your spouse number one. It is the way to ensure sparing them having to be parented by another man or another woman in the future. Parents who make their marriage their number one priority, stay married and have extremely healthy children.
The second way to insure your marriage against outside forces that seek to weaken the relationship is to speak life over your spouse. I tell people to imagine that their marriage has ears. Everything that you say about your marriage has tremendous power over the quality of the marriage. When you talk about your spouse or your marriage to others never talk negatively. Several years ago, I met one of my wife’s co workers. It was a person that I had never met with but who works closely with her on a daily basis. I will never forget her opening line to me. She said, “David, I can’t believe I am finally having the opportunity to meet you. I have heard so many amazing things about you. Your wife adores you, you must be quite a husband.” I graciously thanked her, and it reinforced two things that I already knew about my wife. One, she really does adore me. And two, she speaks life over our relationship. Imagine if she had spent days on end complaining about the dishes that I leave in the sink, my working too many hours and my habit of clicking my toes. Imagine if she had gone to work and regularly complained about the ball and chain at home. Imagine if she had only referred to me as her “old man”. Instead she clearly had spoken life over me and our marriage. She has a picture of our family on her desk that her colleagues regularly ask about. In this way, people know what her number 1 priority is outside of work and she has the opportunity to speak life over the relationship. These two insurance policies to have a phenomenal marriage are free, but if you neglect them they will cost you much more than money.
If I can ever be of any assistance to you as you strive to create a phenomenal marriage or if you would like more information about my alternative to marriage counseling, please contact me at 314-606-4272 or check out the stlouismarriagecoaching.com website. Until next week keep falling more in love.
“There is no hope for my marriage. It can’t be fixed!” I hear this sentence several times a week. These are words spoken by really wonderful people, who really believe that the statement is true. They have been deeply hurt by their spouses and they believe that the level of pain is so great, that there is no way the marriage can recover. They have lost hope. When I begin to explore and go deeper with these individuals, sometimes I hear in their stories a hint of their wanting it to be different. Sometimes even though they are saying, “There is no hope” they are secretly praying that there is hope and that their marriage could be fixed. Sometimes they are saying it, and they really want to end the relationship. Regardless of where they are when they are talking to me, here are some guidelines and principles that I have used to help the individuals lean back into their marriage and rediscover hope.
I am a big believer that there is always hope. Having had the opportunity to work with hundreds of couples who have rediscovered hope and restored their marriages fuels my passion to help couples create phenomenal marriages even after hope has been lost. If you are beginning to lose hope, or would just like to have more information about my non-traditional approach to saving marriages, check out my website at stlouismarriagecoaching.com or call me at 314-606-4272. Until next week, keep falling more in love!
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