A Real Marriage…


I posted a beautiful little expose on marriage the other day and it was well received. It was sort of the ‘real deal’ if you know what I mean. But, despite all the kind words towards me, it was written by someone else! So, ready or not, here’s my version.

Having been married now for over 35 years, I can let you in on a few dirty secrets. Marriage isn’t about feeling happy all the time with your spouse. It’s about figuring out when it’s your turn to add the happiness back in. You can’t always control where your partner is in their mind, but you can sure control where your mind goes. What you want so desperately, you have to give. You can spend a whole lifetime mired in that mud. You wait and wait and wait to receive the kindness, yet refuse to share any of yours first! Marriage is a reciprocal deal, but you always have to go first. How you feel about your spouse is a decision you make and make and make. Choosing not to love someone anymore is also a decision. You don’t feel the love because you aren’t thinking any love. Rehearsing everything you don’t like about someone is a fool’s game. The trick isn’t to struggle to find something good. The trick is to stop thinking evil!

If you’ve been married any significant amount of years you can fall into the “cycle.” The cycle is a perpetual, spinning narrative where no matter what you say or what you do, ties back into some former thing you said and some former thing you did. When couples get to this place, and it doesn’t take long, their communication virtually ends. Instead of listening to each other anymore, the communication quickly dives into the rabbit hole of “I already know where this ends.” In this disastrous scenario, neither party has any opportunity to be anything else. No-one can change. No-one can modify their behavior because you “always” do this and “always” say that, thus I already know where you’re going and am not listening anymore. God I hate that! Each day is a new day! Every moment is new in time. The stupid stuff you did three years ago no longer applies unless you’ve been in a coma for three years! Stop and truly listen to what your spouse is telling you. You don’t have to like it or agree with it, but you do need to hear it. The great marriage killer is the silence that follows a resignation from speaking up!

Speaking of speaking up, if there is one thing I can tell you that almost stands above everything else, it is to keep speaking up. Keep communicating what is bothering you. You serve no-one by keeping silence for your marriage’s sake! Keeping silent runs at cross purposes with your marriage, or at best, delays the inevitable. In marriage, as in life, you have got to be honest with yourself. I don’t mean negative and miserable. I mean honest. You have got to be able to have honest conversations with your spouse. In some areas, you will be tempted to quit speaking up as you perceive nothing is changing, but speak up anyway. Any anger you feel towards your spouse is a sure-fire sign there is something that needs to be resolved. So hey, have the damn fight! Do some yelling, add a little screaming and get it straight once and for all. Simmering within yourself or rehearsing every past injustice is emotional cancer and it is going to kill you! But one caveat, you have to fight fair. Your emotions can help you, but not when they resort to attack mode. The stuff you say in attack mode lasts long after the fight is over. Fight fair…

A common mistake in marriage involves compatibility. People think that in order for the marriage to work well, there must be many common interests. The only required common interest is the other person. Marriage isn’t two people turning into one person (usually the more dominant one). Marriage is two, separate, distinct people figuring out how to head in one direction (while remaining distinct). The more difference between you the better, as long as you come together on the important stuff. (This is why married couples need two TV’s – smile) You also have the joy of figuring out your own arrangement. Don’t copy Mom and Dad because you aren’t married to either one of them. Do individually what you’re good at individually. You already know and you may as well make it work for you!

If I could diagnose one shortfall where people go south today concerning marriage, it would encompass one word – commitment! You have to decide first to remain married, then work out how to make it all work. You don’t remain married because everything feels good, the sex is fantastic and your spouse maintains their ideal weight. You don’t stay married as long as there are no fights, no difficult circumstances or no challenges. (Two people can kick much more ass in a challenge than one can) You don’t remain married with an expectation that your spouse won’t change or grow or evolve. What turned you on at 25 is going to feel ridiculous at 50. Side note – no-one really gives you any insight into the weird stuff that happens as you age, you just sort of have to arrive there together. Okay back to the point! You stay married because, by God, that is the decision you made! You may want a divorce today, but as long as your spouse doesn’t want one on the same day, you will be okay!

In the final analysis, the reason my wife and I have remained married so long is because we both love God and rely on Him to help us get our stuff together when it has fallen apart. We need Him to heal our hearts and make them tender wherever they got hard! We need someone bigger than ourselves to lead the way. Marriage was designed by God for His people. That’s a union you cannot easily dissolve. That is a real marriage…

Just some good thoughts..

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A Beautiful Mess…


beautiful-messI was talking to a family friend not too long ago and he was asking me about relationships. Long story short, he was looking for the secret. The secret is, there is no secret. In fact, instead of spending another moment seeking out the “perfect” person, find someone you like! The highly publicized media version of a true love relationship isn’t true. What’s true is that every relationship is really a hybrid, unique mess; a beautiful mess.

Jason Mraz, musician, singer, performer, explored the subject quite profoundly with his song, from which I named this blog. And, every time I hear it, it touches something deep inside of me that, for the life of me, I cannot put into words. But, it’s worth the attempt.

Every person you meet is a complex combination of a million variables, all meeting together at a certain point in time. All have a degree of strength and all have elements of weakness. Sometimes the weakness is the strength and often the strength is also the weakness. Some love to touch and be touched, others abhor touching except for those times they need to touch. A few are silly in their seriousness and a few are serious in their silliness. Extraverts become introverted and introverts show extraversion. The pure get corrupted and the corrupted find purity. It’s called being a human being. And, the only way that two human beings can come together is by accepting and learning to love the unique combination that “is” the other person. Undesirable characteristics are as much to be expected as having one ear slightly lower than the other, or certain hairs that refuse to move in a uniform direction, or a random assortment of moles. To foolishly assume that your future life partner will hit all 50 of your desired characteristics is to seek after an image that doesn’t exist.

A relationship with another person is really about the other person. Your mistake is making it all about you. You have to take the good with the bad (I guess). That person you’re seeking that represents everything you want in a companion is doing just that, representing (smile). If you stick with them long enough you’ll begin to see stuff you don’t like. So what, love them anyway. Everything about a person that makes them undesirable can also make them desirable. Those million variables we came from are a combination of good and bad. The good should be encouraged and the bad can be overcome. If my wife really knew who I was while I was “representing” she never would have said yes. But, she did say yes and I’m as far from that guy as the east is from the west.

Quit complicating the thing and find someone you like. Find someone whose ways bypass your mind and touch something in your heart. Find a person whose company you enjoy. Don’t go on a date with your evaluation checklist in hand. Don’t look for the qualities you seek in a marriage partner. That’s like trying to turn your old clunker into a Mercedes. It takes time, effort and quite a bit of cash to get the Mercedes and right now you’re still clunking around (haha)! Love always has been and always will be a decision. You don’t fall in love, you just get enamored by some high priority checklist items. To love another person is to accept (not like) all that they are and love them anyway.

When you get older (and you will) you will discover that your A-List items weren’t really your A-List at all. I mean who doesn’t want hot and sexy and gorgeous and handsome? But, and trust me on this one, it’s hard to stay hot and sexy and handsome! 😉 Age finds a way of doing that to you… Instead, what you really want is companionship. You want someone who gets you and whom you get. And, how in the hell do you ever expect someone to “get you” at the beginning? Shoot, I don’t even “get myself” at times and I’ve been around for awhile! A good relationship requires a lot of work, but out of that mess in the beginning, emerges a beautiful mess if you’ll just stick with it. Couples don’t split up because of the things that go wrong, they split up because somewhere along the way one or both “decided” to stop loving and especially forgiving the other person. What’s the ultimate sin to you is not the ultimate sin to me and they’re all the same to God, anyway… Sin means simply missing the bullseye and which of you hasn’t missed the bullseye?

You see my friends, the ultimate goal of a relationship is companionship. Someone who knows that you will become hostile and insecure when you’re afraid and loves you anyway. Someone who sees the love behind your verbal barbs. Someone who feels your sadness when you are sad and rejoices with you when you rejoice. Someone who endures your lengthy discourse about how your day went and someone who expects you to do the same. Someone who not only knows your hot buttons, but even pushes them on occasion, only to promise (again) not to push them anymore. Someone that just loves you for you and could care less about your receding hairline or the size of your butt! Someone whose presence you require, though no words are being spoken. Someone who, with you, took the time to make the mess…beautiful!

You want to enjoy a great relationship? Find someone you like and get to work. Who is to say that your mess won’t one day turn out beautiful as well? Indeed, who is to say???

Just some good thoughts…

How to Get a Man (By… a Man)!


reality-potentialBefore you get suspicious about and endless stream of sexism involving high heels, lipstick and bedroom antics, rest assured I’m not going there. Instead I was pondering what I think are some common mistakes women make in dating. Of course, I’m no expert but I am a man old enough to get past the usual sex-crazed silliness. I got married at the tender age of 22 while my bride was only 18 and while I wouldn’t recommend getting married that early (i.e. starving college kids have no cash), I did learn some valuable insights.

If you had the fortune or misfortune of meeting me when I was 22 you would have immediately discovered that I was a work in progress; in fact, a huge work in progress. I had no job; no ambition and no clear plans about who I wanted to be. (Funny, I look back on that with fondness) I digress… If my wife’s goal was financial stability, she got the wrong dude (then anyway). If she was looking for a guy who had his stuff together and was going places, she would have to wait awhile to do that. Instead she got a bundle of raw potential and of course, stunning good looks (Hey, it’s my blog!). My actual proposal was laughable (read former description). My plans, nonexistent. But doggone it, she married me anyway. She must have seen something that I couldn’t see.That brings me to the point!

It seems like many women nowadays are looking for the perfect guy. You may have seen him on the Bachelor or on a reality show or somewhere else, compliments of the media. But sadly, unless you are actually marrying Jesus, he doesn’t exist. The TV and movies present this mythical creature that is non-existent; he’s smart, funny, brilliant, successful, accomplished, chiseled and hot. He adores you, even worships you and still has time for business acumen, poetry, playing the guitar and romantic pursuits. Sadly, that’s not the reality of us dudes. At least, not in the beginning.

Finding a good man is sort of like making a business investment. Your betting heavily on something you believe in with the grand hope it pays out later. But trust me on this one, if he’s not all the things you want now, try giving him a minute. Womenkind is sometimes neglectful of the impact they have on us dudes. You know, you can actually get him to stop doing behaviors you don’t like. You can gently nudge him into something called ambition by simply expressing your belief in him. Now obviously you can’t change the total loser, but sometimes, oh sometimes you can. I should add that I’m not saying us guys are like some sort of trainable horse that can eventually be made to do anything. What I’m saying is that you have to look for potential. Look for a kind heart. Look for what can be, over what is. Look for, as my daughter aptly says, love!

I’m reminded of a friend I had on the east coast who was part of our Bible fellowships. She was having trouble dating guys and it never seemed to work out. One day she told me about her last date. She said, “He was trying to talk to me and get to know me and so I told him, (loud voice inserted here) I’m all about the Word of God and if you want to be with me you better be about the Word!” Gasp….LOL Can you imagine? When I met my wife I was already about the Word (foolish, but loved God) and she was already my girlfriend before I brought that up. Us dudes are easily freaked out and that statement would have sent me running as well! Again LOL.

My advice to you, though I know it’s not always this simple, is stop looking for the perfect guy. Sometimes manners and respect still need to be learned. Maybe, just maybe that guy you like who, as the saying goes, aint doing sh*t, just hasn’t gotten started yet. Possibly there is something you see there that no-one else could see. You can’t trust your parents or your friends on this one. What you can trust is your heart, so listen to it even when the circumstances strongly disagree. Treasures of gold aren’t found without much digging.

Enough on us bumblers… How about you women? What should you do? Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself. If you don’t like sports, you don’t have to. Who made up the rule that good couples have to have everything in common? How absurd! My wife and I have lots of things in common, but we didn’t always. You couldn’t bribe my wife to watch a football game when we first got married. Now she not only watches them, but even gets it! (She has the t-shirt to prove it) What I’m getting at is that lots of things change as time moves forward and just because he does something today that annoys you doesn’t mean he always will. And here’s the bonus thought ~ even though I have a lot of my sh*t together now, I still have absurdities that would require a saint to look past. Yeah, I think I married a saint!

Do yourselves a favor and don’t make it harder than it really is. Even after you get married and have been married for many years, you’re still going to hate his ass at times! LOL That’s just how life is. Just find yourself someone that floats your boat and has at least, the potential to one day add a motor!

Disclaimer: That one guy who is hell bent on making your life a misery aint the one!

Just some good thoughts…

Clearing the Inversion Air…From Your Relationships!


inversionLiving in Utah, we are often subjected to inversions. The inversions occur because we live in a valley and all of the pollutants get trapped in the air making it difficult to breathe. There’s not enough air flow, absent a storm, to remove the gunk from the atmosphere resulting in a serious health risk! So how does this apply to your relationships? Before we proceed, read the above again…

For a relationship to be healthy, you have to be able to talk; talk about anything. And generally, it’s best to talk about the offending situation the moment it blips across your radar screen. You know exactly when that remark or that attitude or that look sent you a message that didn’t agree with your mental harmony system. You know, right? So why would you put that message on the back burner or worse fear the repercussions of bringing it up? In fact, with people you care about and especially those you love, you owe it to yourself and them to always bring it up. Often young married couples, for fear of offending or worse, losing the object of their affections, choose silence, only to discover later that the initial offending issue not only comes back, it comes back with hair on! Bring it up. If it leads to a big argument, so what. It’s better to have the mother of all arguments than to pretend you are okay when you are not okay. It’s better to have the war and come to an agreement than to avoid the war and live amidst the constant skirmishes. Peace often comes after the war, right?

Like an inversion, allowing pollutants to stay in your mental air risks the health of your relationship. Maybe you need a quick storm or two. Maybe. People often seem to think that harmony in a relationship comes from letting things go. Oh sure, there’s nothing wrong with compromise, as compromise helps maintain a relationship, but letting things go is always bad news. Being married for many years now, I can tell you with complete confidence that every issue you bury under the guise of keeping harmony is going to come back with a vengeance and unreasonably all together in one moment of time. That one fight on that one bad day will turn into a floodgate of unresolved issues seeing the opportunity to finally get out of your heart. And like a pressure boiler that takes on more pressure than it can handle, it’s gonna blow boy and blow at catastrophic levels. So take my advice and speak up often.

None of us want to hear the things we have done wrong or hear extolled to us our faults and our failings. None of us look forward to that conversation ever. But always hidden within that conversation, if we have ears to hear, is some gem of truth that speaks to our hearts. In the middle of all that anger and yelling and accusation sits a little minuscule, almost unnoticed piece of truth that alerts our battered heart of some wrong done; some sensitivity walked over; some selfishness we have engaged in. And when we see it; when we finally see it and feel remorse over the thing we have done, healing takes place; a healing that transcends many, many infractions. That my friends, is the point of the discussion, the fight, the argument, or whatever. In a sense you are kicking up the winds that will eventually blow that inversion out of your way so you once again see clearly. How many relationships have come to an end because we didn’t love enough to say what needed to be said? How many breakups could have been avoided if we had the honesty to say what really was.

Now to those of you who have already loved and lost, I offer the following. There’s a bible verse that tells husbands to love their wives and be not bitter again them. Bitterness comes unannounced from a multitude of unresolved hurts be they ever so slight. Bitterness is born of the small many, not of the large few. But once bitterness takes root, it takes on a life of its own and permanently blinds a heart that once could see and feel and experience. In it’s bitter state it is now poisoned and goes on poisoning everything it comes into contact with until it ruins the person completely. Don’t let that be you. Stop rehearsing the past hurts, the wrongs done to you, the pain. Stop carrying around in your memory those unbearable weights. Instead allow yourself to start again; to start over. Resolve in your heart that you will never allow that to happen to you again. If you can still speak those words you have buried for so long, speak them, though the hearer be long past listening or understanding. If not, speak them to God alone and be now done with it, forever… You are worth that.

Inversion air is hard to breathe and puts your health at risk. Poison cannot exist where there is fresh, clean air. Clear the air between yourself and the people who you care about. Speak up about the things you hold most dear. Forgive where forgiveness is needed and be the person you always wanted to be. You can. You should. You owe it to yourself.

Ah what is that I’m feeling? The feeling that comes from finally breathing a breath of clean, pure, fresh air… And it feels so good!

Just some good thoughts…

Is Less, More?


Theodor_Kittelsen,_Soria_Moria I like to tell the story of when my wife and I were first married.  We got married in college as poor college students (don’t do that!).  Besides the obvious power struggles that accompany new marriage (I lost by the way), we didn’t have any money…  Yet, when we look back on those times, we always view them with fondness.  So that begs the question, is less, more?  Are our lives better when we have less resources than when we have more?  Is it a bad thing to acquire some sheckles and does it actually take away happiness?  Hmm…

Those early days of marriage were tough to say the least.  Midnight moves from apartments (haha sorry bout that Lord).  Crappy cars that rarely worked, often over-heated and represented an adventure every time we had to drive home.  Windshield wipers that we manually moved back and forth with a shoestring because the motor burned out.  LOL, those were the days!  So why on earth would anyone look back at those tough times with any sense of happiness?  Is money evil?  Well, actually no.  The love of money is the root of all evil.  Why, you ask?  Because when money is number one, everything else is secondary.  When everything else is secondary you sell your life (and happiness) to the highest bidder.  But make no mistake, money isn’t evil in itself.  Some of the greatest men in the Bible were rich!  That’s no coincidence my friends.  We all need money and in my humble opinion, generally more than we currently have. That’s not greed, that’s honest.

So, we are left with the question, is less, more?  What is about those early days that make my wife and I smile?  Surely it wasn’t being surrounded by things that don’t work properly (There’s no fun standing by a car that’s overheating).  It couldn’t be not having enough money to go out to eat or buy new clothes.  It wasn’t living in apartments in sketchy neighborhoods, surrounded by sketchy neighbors, doing sketchy things (haha).  So, what was it already?

What made those times a treasure for us and the subject of oft repeated stories?  It was the quest!  It was the challenge to take what we had (nothing) and make it into something.  It was the adventure, the conquest, the opportunity to overcome!  And it was the blessed privilege we had to do it together!  We didn’t have time to argue about why we needed to replace the 47″ TV with a 55″ TV.  We had to focus on deciding whether to pay a bill or buy groceries.  We had important grown up things to do like find jobs, pay bills, have children.  And, we had to do it together…

Flash forward to today.  Those children are all grown up now (and wow they are awesome).  We don’t have car issues anymore and if we do we have the resources to fix them.  We live in a beautiful home and have freedom to do many of the things we want.  So we should just die happy right?  No way!  The same thing that made us happy back in the day is the same thing that makes us happy today.  The quest… We got plans man.  We have dreams that we haven’t realized yet.  We have treasures to find.  We have challenges to overcome.  We have enemies to vanquish.  We’ve got stuff to do!

So how about you?  What are the sources of your happiest times?  Do you have dreams or has someone (something) talked you out of them?  Is there a treasure out there that is waiting for you and do you have the wherewithal and energy to find it?  Or have you acquired some money now and settled into life; a comfortable life with no associated challenges?  Did you believe the lie that once you got some resources, everything would be okay?  Don’t believe it…

Is less, more?  I don’t think so.  You really do have a right to get your needs met and met abundantly (YOLO YOLO).  But your life is so much more than that.  Your life is supposed to be an adventure and you are the star character.  There’s something out there that ONLY you can do and if you don’t do it, it won’t get done!  I believe that when you look back on your life one day, you’ll find that your best days were the ones when you were challenged; when you had obstacles and when you were after something that didn’t come easy to you.  And you too will smile in fond remembrance of how kick-ass you were back then!

Life is a grand adventure my friends.  It’s rarely easy and the best things don’t come without a fight.  But if you decide to fight; to take it on; to figure it out, the rewards are out of this world (literally).  Never allow anyone to put an age limit on your quest.  It’s your quest and whether you conquer at age 30 or at age 60, conquering is kick-ass (haha again)!

Is less, more?  Probably not, but adventures and quests are the substance of life!  Never stop growing, yearning, questing, because that’s what the Good Lord had in mind for you (and me…).

It would be hard to win if there was no opponent.  And there is always an opponent even when, in your complacency,  you no longer see it.  So get in the fight and just win baby!

Just some good thoughts…

Real Relationships Require Real Talk…


395526520_640  As my wife and I approach our 30 year anniversary (Lord, am I that old?), I started thinking about how two people who got married so young, could have made it this far.  Now that’s not to say we didn’t fight like “it was our job” early on or that it has been a fairytale ride without any issues, no not at all!  But I can say one thing with complete honesty (hmm there’s a concept we will get back to later), after all these years, I really would rather not be with anyone else in the world.

So, what did we do that helped us get through those hard times?  What did we figure out, albeit by trial and error, that saved us time and time again?  What did we learn to do when the pressure was on and it seemed like maybe we wouldn’t make it after all?  The short answer?  We talked.  Real talk…

Now, when I say we talked I don’t mean that superficial stuff.  “How was your day?” – something you might say to the grocery checker at Target.  I mean we talked about things that mattered.  Side note – don’t you love it when you find someone who you can talk with about things that matter?  The best conversation is a real one!  Real talk means having the courage to say what you really think about something.  If your partner does something that makes you feel anger (which, by the way, is a secondary emotion that indicates something needs to be resolved) then who in God’s name could you possibly be helping by deciding not to bring it up?  And while I’m on this rant, how could you ever allow yourself to be afraid of your partner to the extent that you decide not to say the things that need to be said?  If you’re honest, you know that the worst that could happen is that your partner would decide to leave you!  Okay, so follow my logic here for a minute.  If your relationship is so precarious that one heated argument could lead to an immediate break-up or divorce, what kind of relationship did you have to begin with?  Thankfully, my wife and I started out with the end in mind.  We decided day one that marriage was forever and that no matter what happened we would work it out.  Did stuff happen?  Of course it did.  Did we work it out?  Yes!

Arguing does not mean that your relationship is in trouble, in fact it’s just the opposite.  People that argue still care enough about themselves and each other to fight for what they think is right.  The trouble comes when that dreaded silence comes. Once you reach the place where you just roll your eyes and say “whatever” on the inside, that’s when you are in trouble.  And even then it’s not too late to say what you really think (which brings me to the most important part of “real talk.”)

You may be thinking at this point, well what exactly should I say?  Another simple answer – exactly what you are thinking!  That’s honest.  Now I don’t mean that hurtful kind of so called – honest.  “Honey you are getting fat!”  That’s not honest, that’s hurtful.  I mean honesty from your heart about how you are feeling in this moment of time.  What if she or he doesn’t like what you have to say?  What if they get mad at you?  What if they go silent on you for the next three days?  Again, follow my logic here, so what?  Don’t you matter as much as your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend matters?  Don’t your feelings count?  Is not your heart as important as their heart?  So, quit being so afraid and work it out.  I could never wrap my mind around those couples that were so afraid of their partner that they felt they could not speak up about something!  That’s not a relationship, that’s a dictatorship…  Naturally these conversations occur in private not in public. but make no mistake they must take place.  If your spouse says something that hurts your feelings or makes you feel stupid, bring it up!  That’s honest.  How can the other person ever modify their behavior if you don’t ever bring it up?  And refusal to modify a behavior that needs to be changed is going to result in a break-up anyway (now or later).  So SPEAK UP!

At the end of the day, you are not going to be happy if you aren’t true to yourself.  Oh you can play the game, assume the role, but like any actor you will soon tire of the role and need to get back to who you really are.  Don’t you want your spouse to know who you really are anyway?  Again I’m very blessed in that my wife knows who I am and I can be myself with her.  I can tell her where I’m weak without dreading that she might somehow know I have some weaknesses (as if she didn’t know anyway..LOL)  She can tell me likewise.  Really if you could look inside other people’s heads you would find that we humans are all very similar.  We have similar fears, similar concerns and similar needs.  Trust that.  Know that and speak up!

My prayer for all of you that read this is that you will have the courage to say the things you have been thinking for days, months and years and repair those breeches between yourself and the people who you love.  A healthy dose of love from your heart will solve a multitude of problems.

Wishing you 30 years of committed marriage and beyond…

(I love you honey)

Just some good thoughts…