Archive for the ‘ Kids ’ Category

“Life” – The Marriage Killer

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Remember when you first got married, and it was just the two of you? I know, it’s hard to remember the days without most of the distractions that come with kids and raising a family, but try. Remember how you were able to put time into your marriage pretty easily? I mean, you still had to be intentional, but it was easy to set date nights, and have romantic interludes at any time of the day, because it was just the two of you. If you wanted to go somewhere, you went. Wanna do something together? Let’s go do it! Yep, all that went out the door, when the kids came along.

Now some people would say “come on man, that’s just life!”, and to a point, I guess it’s true. But “life” and all the things that come with it – kids, extra jobs, meetings, school outings, dance classes, baseball practice, band camp, you name it – can be just as deadly to your marriage as a full-blown affair.

It might not be as fast an effect as an affair, but let me tell you, if you allow all those “life things” to sneak in and take over, without really even noticing it, it has just as big an impact.

Your marriage goes from “the two of us are the priority”, to “now that we have kids, we can’t be the priority right now”. And you might even convince yourselves that “it’s only for a little while”, or “when the kids are gone, we’ll pick up where we left off!”, but it’s not, and you won’t.

When all that “life stuff” starts taking over the priorities, you and your wife start what I call a “slow drift” apart from each other. Slowly but surely, “life” starts to sit in between you and your wife, and before you know it, you realize that you haven’t had sex in two weeks, and you’re crabby with each other, but you don’t really remember why, and the kids are acting out, because they’ve noticed something’s up with mom and dad, and life just seems miserable. Ever been there? I know we sure have. And you know what the cause is? Life. Plain, simple, boring, LIFE.

We have not made our marriage the priority. We have not put in the energy required, to stay close to each other. At some point we stop caring as much. We start thinking “marriage must just get like this after a while”.  Without even noticing it, we let the “what’s important needle” slowly creep from the “our marriage” mark, to the “life” mark on the gauge (so I’m a car guy, sorry). We’ve bought into the lie the world keeps telling us that says “You won’t be in love with your spouse your entire marriage!” and “After a while the romance goes away.”. We start to believe it. We start to quit trying.

I have four kids that I love DEARLY. I would lay my life down for any one of them. But they are BLACK HOLES when it comes to sucking the energy out of your marriage. They will ALWAYS need something. They will ALWAYS have an issue they need solved. But you know what? It’s OK to GET AWAY every week for a date night, even if it’s for a few hours! It’s OK to sneak away for a weekend when they get older than the “infant stage”. It doesn’t make you bad parents! It actually makes you BETTER parents, because you’ll come back recharged, closer to your spouse, and ready to face “the life stuff” again! Kids are GREAT, and family time is great, but you can’t make them the PRIORITY over your marriage! If your kids always out rank your marriage, you will NEVER have a close, intimate relationship as a married couple. It’s just not going to happen.

So next time you get home from a 10 hour day at work, and as soon as you walk in the door, you start in on the “life list” that need to be done, helping with dinner, the lawn,  washing the cars, playing with the kids – I don’t need to keep going – REMEMBERwhat you put time into, there your priorities lie.

Grab your wife’s hand, look at your ever packed calendar, and find some time – no MAKE some time, to be together. To date. To have sex. To be that life partner/lover/friend that you promised you would be, way before the “troops” showed up. Be the example that they need, to have a good marriage of their own someday. 

Don’t let “LIFE” sit between you and your wife. Kick life out, and get back over there next to your wife again. “LIFE” has been sitting there long enough.

“You’re going to do WHAT, WHERE?!” – (Vasectomy questions answered)

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First, a disclaimer: I know there are a lot of views on the subject of birth control. The point of this post is NOT to argue these views one way or another. The point of this post is to INFORM you on what you might encounter if you have decided to have this procedure done. I don’t want to hear why you feel it’s wrong, or right, or upside down, because frankly, I don’t care. In our case, due to some health issues in my wife, and a few other reasons I’d rather not share, we decided it was the best route for us.

“I can’t believe your going to blog about that” said my wife when I told her what I was writing about today. Well, I’m actually a little surprised myself, but here I am, writing about getting snipped. Maybe I’m drawn to subjects that normally don’t get written about, leaving a huge void of information on how to deal with/what to expect when you go through them. Maybe that’s why I blogged about our miscarriage. I guess I just figure that if I went through it, and had to learn some things the hard way, why not share it with other husbands (even if it is a tough subject to just “bring up”) so you have some information to go into it with? Make sense? Ok, you’re still looking at me like I’m crazy, but whatever. Maybe at this point you want to navigate over to the Newsweek blog. But, if not, buckle up, ‘cus here goes…

In this post, I want to answer some of the hard (and strange) questions I had as a guy, going into this thing. Questions that you can’t really just ask off the cuff. It’s just a little strange to follow-up a “Man, the cowboys lost again huh?” with “So, how bad did you swell up after you got snipped?” Just seems a bit awkward. The following is a little bit of what I experienced/questions I had. Obviously you’re going to be a little different, but it should be at least close to what it’s going to be like for you. Also, if you have any questions (no matter how strange) that you’d like answered, just ask them below in the comments. I’d be glad to answer as honestly as possible.

“Where do you go to get it done?” –  Yeah, that’s what I asked. Is there some sort of “snip doctor”? No. Well, not exactly. You can have your family practitioner do it, but I don’t recommend it. (And neither does my sister, who is a General Practitioner) You want to look up the Urologist in your area. And do your homework on them too. Get reviews online, check with other guys that have had it done. This isn’t something you want botched, or being done by a “newbie” who “thinks he know’s how to do it”. The Doc I went to had done over 300 of them, so he had a VERY good idea of what he was doing.

“Why do they want me to come in for a consult first? – Most docs want to sit down and go over the procedure with you, and make sure you understand what you’re having done, the risks, etc. I was scared that they would try to talk me out of it, but instead I got a really good understanding of what exactly he was going to do, what to expect. It’s worth the extra time.

“How bad does it hurt during the procedure?” – I can honestly say that I didn’t feel ANY pain during the procedure. There were sometimes when I felt a “tightness” in my testicles when he was working down there, but no sharp pain. They will numb you up at the incision site, and then again inside where they are working, so you shouldn’t feel a thing. They also had me take 2 Valium and a Hydrocodone before I came in, so I was feeling pretty “good” (ok, I was higher than a kite) when I got there. Let’s just say that my wife can tell you some stories about how I was acting before/when I got there. The Valium totally relaxes you, and makes you not care about much of everything. Doc could have fired up a chainsaw in the operating room, and I would have been like “cool man, what’s that for?”

“How bad is the aftermath?” – The docs will tell you to go home, keep ice on it, and take pain meds as needed. In my case the after-pain was nonexistent until the meds started to wear off. Then I started to feel the pain. That being said, if I kept an ice pack on it, and kept up on my pain meds, it was very manageable. Another thing I did was wear TWO pairs of boxer brief underwear when I slept, and put the ice pack in between the two pairs. That way the pack wasn’t making direct contact with it, and they kept the ice pack there while I slept.

I took two and a half days off of work, and was back to work for 4 hours on that 3rd day. It really depends on your job though. They don’t want you to lift anything for about 10 days if at all possible. And believe me, you might think “oh come on, it can’t be that bad”, but let me tell you, I started to help my wife move some boxes of stuff into the garage that second day, and let’s just say I stopped as soon as I started. You don’t realize how much you use the muscles down there when you lift, until you have this done.

“How bad was the swelling?” – As long as you keep ice on it every few hours the first couple days, it’s not bad. Are they bigger than normal, yes, but it’s not like having a soccer ball down there. It’s not comfortable to cross your legs for at least a couple of weeks however.

“How long until you can have sex again?” – The doc I went to said “Oh, you’ll know when you’re ready”. I didn’t really know what he meant by that, but was too afraid to ask. There turned out to be a lot of wisdom in it though. Basically, the first 4 or 5 days, the thought of sex just sounds painful. Like kick you in the crotch painful. But at about the 6 or 7 day mark, it sounds a little better, and for most you should be “back in the saddle” (sorry, bad pun) by around the  7-10 day mark. Each procedure is different and some docs will ask you to wait more or less, but for most, it will be about a week before you start to enjoy it again.

“Does sex feel the same as it did before?” – For the most part, yes. Let me explain. At first orgasm felt a little “different” then it did before. Almost as if there was less of a “full release” than pre vasectomy. Most of it was probably just in my head, but it just felt a little different, but not in a “less pleasurable” way. Now, 2 months post-op, I can’t tell a difference in feeling at all. If anything, it feels a little better, not worse.

“Other strange sex related questions” –

“Is there as much ejaculate as before?” Since sperm only makes up about 5% of the ejaculate, the scientific answer to that question would be no. Can you tell just by looking at it? Not in a million years.

“Does the ejaculate look different from before?” No, not at all.

“Will my wife desire me less?” Yes, us guys like to play these silly head games. As a man, there is something about being able to get our wives pregnant that gives us a sense of “manhood”. To our wives however,  it can actually be a stress, not a turn-on, if pregnancy isn’t desired at the time. So, the answer to this question is no. If anything (and I’ve heard this from several guys who have had this done), it let’s the wife enjoy the encounter MORE, since there is no fear of pregnancy sitting in the back of her head.

“Is there any pain after total recovery?” – Like I said, I’m only 2 months post op, but the only pain I have is an occasional “ache” (similar to the “blue balls” feeling) in my testicles, and I do notice that I’m a bit more sensitive to accidental hits/knocks there by random misplaced knee from the kiddos, etc. I’m told that most of this will also go away over time.

“Can you still see the incision after it’s all healed?”  – No, not at all. Even my wife couldn’t find it. My doc used the stitches that dissolve, so other than a small, harder spot where the stitches were, you can’t tell at all.

“How long until you can have unprotected sex after the procedure?” – They want you to wait 6 weeks, or 12 ejaculations, whichever comes first. Then they have you bring in a sperm sample to the office, so they can test for any remaining sperm. If there aren’t any, you’re good to go. If there are, they have you bring in a sample every week, until there are none.

Random things you need to know:

– Take the drugs they give you before you go in for the procedure. Don’t try to be the “manly man”. Just take them. They know what they’re doing.

If you wear boxers normally, go buy some boxer briefs, or regular briefs. You will need at least 6 pairs. 10 would be better. Remember, you will be doubling up for the first few days. The goal is to have underwear that is supportive, without being TOO tight.

Resist the temptation to “see if it still works” too soon after post-op. There was a guy I know about who did that after the first day, and let’s just say it turned all kinds of pretty shades of purple. Yeah, BAD idea.

– Buy some ice packs. You want them to be about 4 inches wide by 5 or 6 inches long, and you want the ones that stay pliable even while frozen/cold. You can find them on Amazon, or any drug store. Have at least 2, so you can keep trading them out.

– DO NOT try to go back to wearing boxers less than one month out from surgery. Don’t ask me how I know this, but while you may think you’re fine, by the end of the day you will NOT be fine. Too much movement = bad.

– Remember the “ice pack between two pairs of underwear” trick that I talked about above. Works GREAT.

– Do NOT try to do ANY lifting before the 10 days are up. And even then, be careful! Like I said, you wouldn’t think it would affect that area, but it does. Anything over 10 lbs, don’t do it.

To sum it up – Was it worth it?

Here’s the deal guys. Was it fun to go through all the “stuff” I described above? The ice packs, the pain meds, the surgery, the awkwardness? No. Is it worth it to be able to have worry free sex with my wife anytime we want, without having to worry about if we have a condom, what time of the month it is,  where her cycle is, if she’s ovulating, etc, etc, etc? Totally.  I have, and will always, hate condoms, and I will never regret the day I got to throw them all away. 🙂

Is it the right thing for your marriage? Sorry, I can’t tell you that. Pray about it, have a long hard talk with your wife, and look at things in a “down the road” kind of way. If you’re 25, have 1 child, and might want more later, probably not a good call. If you’re 32, have 4 kids, and feel like the Lord may want you to adopt later, instead of having any more of your own, it might be a good option for you.

Whatever you decide, my hope is that this post gives you some real answers about what to expect, and how it’s going to affect you physically. Beyond that, is up to you.

How about you? Have any tips/questions to add? 

Wives: Be your Husband’s “Mind Candy”

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I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I think my mom would say I had a whole mouth full of them, when I was growing up. Nerds, Skittles, Gummy Worms, Now and Lateryou name it, I would eat it. We used to go to a small little general store where I grew up as a kid, and they had a little barrel of gummy worms at the register (this was before people cared too much about germs), and you could take the little set of tongs, and pick out as many gummy worms you wanted for 5 cents each. It was the highlight of the whole shopping trip for me.

I guess it’s no surprise I have the same tendency for sweets as an adult. It’s hard to find a gummy bear I don’t like. And I don’t know about you, but there are times when NOTHING sounds good but a something sweet. Ever felt that way? It’s like you get a “sweet craving”, and nothing else quite satisfies at the time.

Ok, so what the heck am I talking about, and what does it have to do with you?  Don’t go back to Pinterest yet, hear me out!

Your husband thinks about sex several times a day. I know it’s hard to imagine, but for most guys it’s up to 20 times a day. Not long drawn out thoughts, but it crosses his mind. Call it a “sweet craving”.

Now if he’s a good, upstanding, Christian husband, who is trying his best to keep his mind  pure from sexual influences besides his wife, most of these thoughts center around you. If not, that’s a whole other post. Either way, what I’m trying to get across, is that YOU can help decide what his mind “eats” to satisfy those little “sweet cravings” during his day.

For example, let’s say he heads to work, but before he walks out the door, you give him a kiss, and say something like “you know those red lace panties you like? That’s what you’ll be taking off me later tonight.” Or “Want to try a new location later?”, you have just given him “mind candy” that will last him the whole day. Now every time his mind thinks “sex” during the day, he’s thinking about those panties, or where you’re going to do it later. Remember, he’s going to think about something sexual, several times a day – why not give him something worth while to think on?

Man Mind Tip: Guys LOVE it when they feel like their wives are OK with their husbands thinking of them sexually. Even better when our wives GIVE US something to think about sexually! It’s like winning the car on The Price is Right.

It’s hard for wives to understand, but most of the time, church, society, etc has made men feel “dirty” or like there “must be something wrong with them” because they “think about sex all the time”, or have been told countless times “is that all you think about!?”. But here’s the deal (and I can hear the collective gasp) – A man’s high sex drive (as long as it is fueled by nothing but his wife, not porn, etc.) IS NOT “un-natural”, or “dirty”, or “need to be toned down” in any way! God DESIGNED it this way! As his wife, DO ALL YOU CAN TO ENCOURAGE your husband in this area. Assure him that you WANT him to be thinking about you, and you LOVE it that he finds you beautiful/sexy. I’m not saying you must have sex anytime he wants it, but he needs to know that you’re his “sure thing” (GREAT post from J at HH&H), and you love the idea of him finding sexual satisfaction in YOU ALONE.

That’s why giving him something to think about all day, means so much to him. He LOVES it that you care enough about HIM (not the kids, dog, PTA, dishes) to think up those little “treats” during the day. “But what if I don’t think “that way” during the day? I have 3 little kids at home, and am lucky if I can find 10 minutes to use the bathroom, let alone send my husband sexy messages.” I understand you have 15 irons in the fire most of the time, but I can’t tell your enough how much something that takes 30 seconds, can mean to your husband.

“A few M&M’s, or a FULL candy bar?” – Ok, so you’ve head the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, I swear it must have been written by a man, because let me tell you, it’s true. Now I’ve heard a lot of marriage bloggers with several different opinions on sending each other sexually “suggestive” photos via text/email, and you do what you think is best here – but I say what good is technology, if you can’t have a little fun with it? (Ok, now I am starting to sound like a classic man again). Let me explain. If you have an Android phone (I think you can get this for the iPhone too), go to the Play Store, and download an app called “Audio Manager (hide)”. This handy little app takes cover as a volume app to anyone that may see it on your phone, but if you hold your finger on a hidden spot on the screen, and put in a pin number, it’s really an encrypted “digital vault” to hide those photos/videos you wouldn’t want your mother in law to stumble upon when she was browsing through the grand kids birthday party photos. My wife and I have used it for a couple of years now, and it works great! All you have to do when you get a photo you want to hide, is simply click on the “share” button on your phone, and “share” it with the Audio Manager application – POOF! It’s not in your photos anymore!

Then the only other things you would need to be careful about, are things like double and triple checking that you’re sending the photo to the right PERSON (Your husband, not a random friend), and then knowing your husband isn’t going to open it in his work email, not knowing what it was, in front of the entire board of directors. Awkward. Basically, my advice is: BE SMART about it, know where you’re sending it, and then – HAVE FUN with it! Oh, and another word of caution: IF you’ve never sent a picture like this to him before, he may think you’ve totally lost it, or have finally opened up the cooking Sherry after a long day with the kids. But don’t worry, after the initial “Wow! Really?!” Response, he’ll have this big goofy grin on his face the rest of the day.

I’m going to end this post with this – we (husbands) realize you’re not wandering around all day every day in some sort of sexual high. Life happens. Kids happen. Schedules happen. We get it. The stuff I’ve mentioned above doesn’t have to be an everyday thing. What I’m asking is that it be a more than once a week, or month, thing. I know it’s not how you think. I know it’s hard to understand that sex goes through his head so often, I know you’re thinking “I’m just not “ready to go” all the time like he is”. It’s ok! You’re not “strange” for not being sexual as much as he is. But what I’m asking – even pleading with you – is to realize that your husband IS dealing with these thoughts day in, and day out. He IS trying to keep his mind on his wife, and not other images/videos/commercials that the world is trying to bombard him with all the time. And he NEEDS you to come along side him and say “baby, I understand it’s a struggle to keep your mind pure, and I want you to know that even though I might not always “feel” like having sex, I am, and will always be, your “sure thing” if you need me. I don’t want you feeling like you need to “supplement” your drive with something else, because you feel like you can’t come to me for it.” At this point, if you’re wondering why your husband isn’t looking at you anymore, it’s probably because he’s trying to hide the tears in his eyes. You have no idea the weight you have just taken off his shoulders, and the stress you have just relieved. If you can somehow get to this point in your relationship with your husband, you will be a complete hero in his eyes.

The moral to this story? Don’t forget the power you have to help your husband’s “sweet tooth” center around you. And to him, you’re WAY better than candy anyway. 😉

Miscarriage: A + B doesn’t always = C

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When you were growing up, dreaming of someday getting married and starting a family, it all seemed so easy in your head. You would find the girl of your dreams, get married, have lots of great sex, and therefore, end up having as many kids as you wanted, whenever you decided to have them. Simple. Easy. Right? Sadly, not at all.

About a week ago, my wife noticed her period was a few days late. Not being too concerned because her cycle isn’t always “exact”, we waited a few days. Still nothing. I brought home a pregnancy test, and we found out we had our own little “Christmas present” – unexpectedly on the way. While it was definitely a surprise, we both soon took to the idea, and were looking forward to having another “little Harris” to love, guide, be part of our little family.

Two days later, she started spotting. The next day there was more bleeding, and after going to the doctor to see what was going on, we found out what we feared the most – we had miscarried again.

I shared our first miscarriage story a in a post called “Miscarriage: The subject that never get’s brought up”. Being newly married at the time, we had no idea how to deal with the emotions we both felt, and felt in different ways. Being married a little longer now, and now having our third miscarriage a few days ago, we understand a little better how each other is going to react, and what we both need from each other for comfort/healing.

I think we fail to understand how many couples struggle with having kids. How many times couples have heard the words from their doctors like “it looks like it was a pregnancy that just didn’t develop”, and finding themselves staring at the exam room wall, lost in thoughts like “how could this happen again?” Or “I don’t understand, it was going so well” or “we wanted this so badly, how could God let this happen?”. The pain in these situations is deep, and for the most part suffered in silence. The couple being too afraid to say anything, because they don’t want people to think there is “something wrong with them”. After all, nobody else has problems like this, right? Why can’t we just be “normal” like everybody else, and have kids whenever we want? But what we don’t realize, is for the most part, it’s not “easy” for any couple.

I don’t know how many friends/coworkers, who after hearing our story, have come up to me and said things like “we have lost 3 also”, or “we tried for 3 years before we got pregnant”. What I think we miss is how COMMON this really is, and how desperate couples are to find support, and understanding from other couples, but it’s the subject nobody brings up. Too many misconceptions, to much of a “downer”, people don’t know what to say, it’s awkward, etc – all reasons we have for NOT talking about it. And every one of them bad reasons. If we would get over ourselves for long enough to admit we needed support, maybe we would be able to heal faster, grow stronger, and recover better, but no – our “go to” answer is usually “I’m fine” – when in reality “fine” is not at all how we feel.

Him vs. Her: The healing process – Husbands, when this happens, we need to be keenly aware, that how YOU will want to deal with the loss, and process it emotionally, is going to be totally different from what you wife is going to need/want. The faster you realize this, and come to grips with it, the better off you are in being able to support your wife during this time, without becoming totally frustrated at her instead.

If you’re like most guys, you are going to be sad for a few days from the loss, and then you’re going to start to get this “ok, we lost this one, but let’s fix this thing and just try it again” attitude. For us, we feel out of control by the whole situation, and as a guy – who usually has a “I can fix anything” outlook, it scares us that we can’t do anything, or control the circumstances. This means after we get through the sad phase, we tend to start looking at how we can make it right again, or “fix” what we lost. We tend to look at it almost like we would if we wrecked out car – yeah, it sucks we lost our car, and have to go through the whole process of getting a new one, but sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, isn’t going to make it any easier. Let’s get to looking at new cars, and replace the one we wrecked! Come on, let’s FIX it!

But to your dear wife, this is the last thing she wants to hear is “we can always try again”. As a woman, she needs time to grieve the loss of this child. To her it’s not just something that didn’t work out, it was a child – HER CHILD – that was LOST.

You can talk to her until you’re blue in the face about how she “just needs to move on and let it go”, and she will not only respond badly, but start to resent you for not being able to grieve this loss with her. She will begin to feel like she is totally alone in her grief/sadness, and even become angry that you’re not showing any emotion about it.

What she needs from you is total LOVE and SUPPORT. She needs you to hold her while she cries, and reassure her (without attempting to fix) that it’s all going to be ok. She needs to hear you talk about your sadness (and yes guys, this is a HARD one for us) in losing your child – what you were planning to do with him/her, thoughts you had about it, etc. This helps her not feel alone in “missing” or grieving the loss of the child. She needs you to ASK her if she’s doing ok, and not getting mad, or rolling your eyes when she brings it up 6 months later, and tells you she’s been thinking about it quite a bit today.
I know it’s not the same for us, and we sometimes don’t understand the time is takes for our wives to heal, but so what? As if this is the first thing we don’t completely understand about how God created our wives. What matters is that we ARE there for them, and regardless of how long it may take, we make sure they know we are ALWAYS there for them if they need to talk about it, or even just cry while we hold them.

Also, make sure she’s not the only one that ever brings it up. Mention to her on a random day, that you were thinking about it today, or how you can’t wait to meet your other children in heaven some day. The smile you’ll get from your wife will be priceless.

Talk it out with your wife also. Help her understand you’re not trying to “bury it”, or pretend it didn’t happen, you just deal with it differently than she does. That way she isn’t expecting you to grieve in the same way she does. If it’s the first time you’ve been though this loss, she’s not going to know what you do, any more than you know how she’s going to handle it.

Remember, the WORST thing you could do it both shut down and build a wall between you. Talk, talk, talk – I don’t care how hard it is for you, you MUST keep those lines of communication open during times like this. Your marriage depends on it. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves, and do whatever it takes to help see your marriage through it. Don’t settle for “oh well, she’ll get over it at some point, I don’t even know what to say to her anymore” – even if you don’t know what to say, tell her that! At least you’re not just giving up.

While the loss of an unborn child is a deeply sad, and horrible thing, there is a closeness and a trust that is built and made stronger between the husband and wife, IF the two sides are allowed to grieve in the way they need, and there is a willingness to ACCEPT the other person’s way as “ok”, not criticized, or downplayed, or made to feel bad that they either haven’t or have “gotten over it” yet, or so fast.

Neither side is “the right way” or the “only way” to get through it, and the sooner the both of you accept that, the better you’ll be at healing together, growing your relationship because of it, and gaining a deeper understanding of the mate God has given you. It will get better. The pain will begin to lessen. You will be able to move on. Just understand it is a process. One that you BOTH need.

The role of DAD; Our kids desperately need us.

The last few days, I’ve had the blessing (ok, so sometimes my face may not have said “blessing”) of taking care of our 3 kiddos (5, 3 and 1) while my wife went to the Woman’s Advance at our church (great thing to send your wife to by the way, to get refreshed and recharged – but that’s another post…). It was really nice to have some “down time” with just the kids and I. And it got me thinking.

Sometimes I think we as men, can view life day-to-day, as one big “task list” that needs to be done, in order to feel like we’ve accomplished and “conquered” the day.

What I’m afraid we also tend to do (most times not even realizing it), is put “quality time with the kids” way down at the bottom of that mental list.

We tell ourselves “I’ll get to that when I get all this more important stuff is done”forgetting that being a DAD to our kids (even if that means just building a Lego castle with your son, or letting your daughter “do your hair” with bows and barettes) is one of the greatest callings God has given us. Spending time with them – not “left over” time, but quality, purposeful, time –  is one of our most important jobs as dads.

Our sons are trying as hard as they can to win our approval, even when they mess up. They’re also trying to figure out what it means to be a “man” in today’s world. And you know what that means, they’re looking to DAD. You remember the feeling – always thinking Dad was about the coolest, strongest, best dressed guy you knew. But are we taking the time to really talk to our sons? To encourage them? To show them how to treat women respectfully and with honor? To show them the value of hard work? What it means to be a man of your word? When they show anger towards us or their siblings, do we show them anger back? Or take that chance to take a deep breath ourselves, and help them understand how to work through it, instead of blow up? If we aren’t training our sons up to be men of God, and what it looks like to be a “real man” in God’s eyes, who will?

Or how about our little daughters? You know, the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever laid eyes on? The one that goes around telling everybody she’s “daddy’s princess”.  Do we even realize what an impact we have on her little sense of self-confidence? How she’s crying out to us “Dad, do you think I’m beautiful? Do you notice me when I spin around in my dress? Do I have value? Do I measure up?”. We forget the impact we have on our daughters. We need to spend that time with them just cuddling on the couch, asking her about things she’s interested in, taking her on “daddy daughter dates”, telling her she’s beautiful. And do you know why these things are so important? Because if we don’t, she’ll end up finding another boy who will.

I don’t know about you, but when my little girl gets into her teen years, I want her confident in her daddy’s love for her, in feeling valued, in knowing that she can come to me anytime for support, or just to hold her through the tough times. The more we seek to fill this God-given role for our daughters, the less likely they will be to try finding it out from another boy, until the appropriate time when God sends her the mate He’s chosen for her – to take over for me.

Don’t view time with your kids as “optional”. It should be just as important as spending time with your wife. I’m pretty sure when we get to Heaven, and God asks what we did with the children He entrusted to us, it’s not going to go over well if we say “Well, I didn’t spend much time with my kids, but you should see how much landscaping I got done, and how many contracts I closed at work!”. God didn’t call us to have an amazing yard. He called us to train up the children he’s given us.

Our kids just want to see that their dad values them. Over work. Over getting the house clean. Over his golf game or ESPN.

Sometimes it seems like we’re not “training them up” by just playing cars, or doll house, but if we could only see the impact we’re having on them, showing them they matter to us, we’d do it so much more often.

They’ll always be more “stuff” to do. Our kids are only in our care for a short time. We don’t have to be perfect, we just need to be “there”. Don’t short your kids what they desperately need from you – being their DAD. 

Kick Your Wife Out of The House!

Not permanently, just for a little while. Here’s the scenario:

You walk in the door after a day at work, and it looks like a tornado by the name of “3 kids” has blown through the house. Your wife looks up from a pile of laundry with a “thank God you’re home” look on her face and gives you a half-smile.

You put your work stuff down, and soon find out that in between the kid that pooped on the floor, the 6 loads of laundry, and the baby that has spit up on 3 sets of clothes, it’s been a doozie of a day for your poor wife, and she is about at the end of her rope.

You have a couple of options at this point. You can either choose to ignore that your wife is about ready to lose it, and turn on SportsCenter, or you can say “hey hon, after dinner, I got the kids – why don’t you head to Starbucks for a while and catch up on that book you’ve been wanting to read”. She will most likely try to put up a weak protest saying something about how she’s ok, and needs to get stuff done here, but if you tell her you’ll finish the laundry, and that she needs to take the time while she can, she will probably be out the door before you finish speaking.

For those of us husbands who are blessed with wives want to stay home and do the amazing job of taking care of the kids, we need to make sure they are still getting some time to themselves. Sometimes we forget as husbands, that just because they “get to stay home all day”, it is nowhere close to “restful” most of the time for our dear wives. You think a rude customer at work is hard to deal with? Try a teething 1-year-old who wants to be held all day. At least with the rude customer, he will finally leave the store after a while, not so with the teething kiddo. He’s there ALL DAY.

“But I just got done working all day, I want to be able to come home and relax, not play babysitter”. That’s great, if you want to watch your wife slowly lose her drive to even try anymore. She needs that couple hours alone every once in a while to help her “refocus” and “regroup” a little. You at least get your lunch hour and breaks at work. I heard one mom say she’d be thrilled just to be able to use the bathroom, without a child knocking on the door needing something.

Contrary to popular belief, stay at home moms do not sit in front of the TV all day long and eat bon-bons. 🙂

So, if your wife stays at home with the kiddos, give her some “HER TIME” often. Even if you have to schedule it and make it a once or twice a week thing, do it! Not only will you have a much happier and composed wife, you’ll get to build your relationship with your kids in the process! The other day Ben (5yrs), my oldest, told his mom that “she needs to go somewhere, because we haven’t gotten much time with dad lately.” Plan a movie night, or take the kids to the baseball field. Make it a fun time that the kids look forward to! Sometimes we get a little too involved in our work and forget the kids need their DAD to PLAY with them too. They’re only kids for a limited amount of time, don’t make the mistake of thinking work needs to come before that game of catch.

Give you wife few hours away from the crazy. Who know kicking your wife out of the house could be such a positive thing! 😉

Being the Spiritual Leader in Your Home; Something We Can’t Continue to Ignore

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a few posts, you’ll start to notice I have a lot of things to work on. Things to get better at. Things to grow in. I write best from personal experience, so most of my posts are about things that I have been through, or am struggling with, or am working on. As a man, I notice that when there is an issue in my life that I need to work on, I don’t always hit it head on right away. Instead, I tend to convince myself that it’s not that big of a deal, or rationalize it by saying “well, I’m doing better than that guy over there”. My Pastor always says  “What you are not willing to confront, you are not willing to change”.  Well, I’m tired of not being willing to change because it’s easier to stay the same old way. It’s time that we as men get off our mental “couch” and start doing some of the work that God has called us as men, as leaders of our households, to do.

Eph 5:25-28 (emphasis addedHusbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

What are we as Men/Dads/Husbands doing to set an example of Godliness in our homes? Not perfection – Godliness. If God has set us as the “head of the home”, to lovingly lead, help guide, and take care of our families, a HUGE part of that is SPIRITUAL leadership. Now I’m not saying we all need to head to Bible school and become pastors (unless that’s what God has called you to do), what I’m talking about here is more PRACTICAL spiritual leadership – leading  by example. You’ve heard the saying “talk is cheap”. If you are telling your kids to do one thing, to behave a certain way, to be honest, etc –  and are not doing these things yourself, correcting your kids for these things comes up pretty hollow.

We need to get our own lives – our own example – in line first, and then correct our kids. No, we’re not perfect (your wife and kids are the first ones to know that), but there has to be a striving from us to be constantly improving! I like what is says in 2nd Timothy –

2 Timothy 3:16 (AMP) Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action

Just because an Olympic runner had a hard time running 1 mile when he first started training, do you think he just said “well, this sucks, I can only run a mile, so I quit!” No! He continued to push himself every day, until he could run 2 miles, then 4, then 10, until he had reached the goal that he wanted to reach. And the funny thing about training is that if you stop training, you start to go backwards. Using the example of our Olympic runner, lets say he got all the way to his goal mileage, and then quit for a couple of months, he would have to start back in the middle somewhere, and get back up to his goal. That’s why it is important that we continue to “train in righteousness” by reading His Word daily! Your wife and kids are looking at you to draw the line on things that are, or are not acceptable in your home – but how are you supposed to know what lines up with His word unless you are reading His Word? Things like –

• TV/Movies – Wondering why your kids have a sassy attitude, or are suddenly talking back to you when you ask them to do something? You might want to take a close look at what “kids shows” they are watching. That title says nothing about how appropriate the content is. Same rule goes for what shows/movies you and your wife watch. Just because you are “adults”, doesn’t make it ok to watch whatever you want. Be the one to speak up and say “I don’t think this is appropriate”, instead of waiting for your wife to mention something. Take the lead!
• Language/Respect – Kids are like sponges. The tone you address your wife with, is the tone that the kids will eventually use to address mom. Same goes with swear words, or inappropriate innuendos that may sneak into your daily vocabulary, sometimes without you really even noticing. There have been a few times now, where my kids have said something inappropriate, and after asking them “where did you hear that?” they replied “from you dad!” I know sometimes it’s hard to not let something slip when you stub your toe, or the kids bust a lamp or something,  but just remember, what you say, they will eventually say also.
• Honesty – This is a huge one where kids learn by example. Like to cut a few corners on the job here and there? Maybe not report exactly all your earnings to the IRS? Maybe you hit a car in the parking lot, but the damage was “barley noticeable”, so you didn’t leave a note? Remember the little eyes that are constantly watching what “dad does”, and are filing that away in their little heads for later in life.
• Devotions/Quiet TimeThis one is so important, I saved it for last. I have struggled with this one even before I had kids, and then after I did, I used them as another excuse as to why I “didn’t have time” for reading the Bible DAILY, or spending time in prayer. I have become better at it over the years, but it is still something I struggle with. Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar to you: You go to bed later than you wanted to because after the kids go to bed is the only time you have to get the stuff done you have to do like bills, spend time with your wife, catch up on all the “to do” items on your list. Since you went to bed late, you end up hitting the snooze button a few times before you get up, so it throws your morning late. Since you’re already running late, you tell God that you’ll have to catch him tonight after you get home from work. Of course when you get home, the kids all need something, your wife wants help with dinner, and your dead tired and end up rolling into bed at 11pm again, telling the Lord that you’ll do better tomorrow. Sound about right? So here’s what my wife and I did: We decided that when we get up in the morning, we can’t even TURN ON our computers until we have our devotions. It’s amazing how much better your morning goes, and how much extra time you seem to end up with, if you put Him first! This is something that HAS to become a PRIORITY in our daily lives. Our marriage, parenting, and closeness with the Lord, depends on it. Does it have to be first thing in the morning? No, but in the morning you are at least half awake. At night I find it hard to concentrate on reading the Bible sometimes, but everybody is different, do what works for you!

Don’t allow “good enough” to be the standard that you set for leading your family spiritually! God put you in that leadership role for a purpose! He’s not asking you to be perfect, He’s just asking you to lead to the best of your ability, and with HIS “ how-to manual” always by your side.