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Strategies for Avoiding a Fight with Your Wife (A series…)

Strategy Two

Don’t Try and Win the Toilet Seat Debate

 “Men who consistently leave the toilet seat up secretly want women to get up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night and fall in.”

Rita Rudner

Okay…this is a disgusting topic but it must be covered. For some reason, society, which in this country normally pushes the individual to make decisions and solve problems for themselves, has determined that the default position for any toilet seat is down. I am not sure if it was determined by vote…by committee…or whether I have just been brainwashed into thinking it is an unspoken law but for whatever reason, civil society dictates that the correct position for the toilet seat when there are women in the house is down.

If there are just men in the house, a position of up seems to be okay as that is the position of most use. Also, most men are able to make the proper adjustment in the middle of the night and put the seat in the down position if that is the service that is required. It is miraculous, but somehow when guys find the toilet seat up, they recognize it, put it down and do not shout to the other guys, “who left the toilet seat up?”

Many years ago, before it was taboo to speak of such things, one of my friends changed the signs on our corporate bathrooms to “Pointers” and ‘Setters”, referring to types of bird dogs used for hunting. It was humorous for the guys, but in retrospect, I can’t remember many of the ladies enjoying the potty humor.

When I visited China over a decade ago, in many places there was just a hole in the floor. We thought of it as behind the times to say the least but maybe their society is so old that they once had a hinged seat and this very same up or down debate drove them to just a hole in the floor.

One strong manly friend of ours confessed while hunting with a group of us that he stopped fighting it. He lived with his wife and several daughters and he just gave in and became a “setter”. It was almost a religious moment hearing him tell the story in the hunting lodge surrounded by empathetic whiskered men. We all wondered if that was what our future held.

Many people attribute Isaac Newton’s famous quote, “what goes up must come down”, to him watching an apple fall nearby. For us men however, it just confirms that he was probably married and maybe lived in a house full of daughters. He knew the law of the toilet seat long before gravitational formulas entered his mind.

Regardless, it is a losing battle for men to debate…if there are women in the house, return the seat to its rightful place. Yes, it requires .0000013 calories and as many seconds to put it back down but you will spend exponentially more energy and time trying to win this fight to no avail.

HighFive YourLife Principle

What goes up must come down. Don’t fight it…put the seat back down!

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Strategies for Avoiding a Fight with Your Wife (A series…)

Strategy One

Never  Pack a Car Together

 “If I’d known how much packing I’d have to do, I’d have run again.”

Harry S Truman

It is a fool’s errand to try to pack your car for an extended trip with your wife. I am not talking about throwing in a bag with some fruit and water for a picnic. I am talking about suitcases, gifts, pillows, tools, various odd shaped objects such as skies, TVs, computers, campfire accessories, small children and pets. There are simply too many “right” ways to do it. If you envision the “right” way to do it and halfway through, your wife begins to pack following her “right” way to pack, you invariably end up in an argument and a frustrated packing experience. Two rights definitely make a wrong.

Possible solutions:

Decide first what is going in the car and then divide up the duties such that only one of you is doing the thinking part of the packing. Sure, the other can help provide labor but should be restricted to mindless loading without thought for the genius that goes in to where the item should be placed.

You could also have an agreement to take turns packing so that one packs on the way out and the other packs on return trip.

It is also possible to pack in the middle of the night while your wife is sleeping. This strategy has inherent risks as you are sure to get additional items in the morning that need to be packed but may not fit into the puzzle that you have so carefully and diligently assembled.

You can purchase or rent an RV with so much storage space underneath that there is no genius required for packing. Both of you can simply stuff everything that you can possibly think you will need for your travel survival and you will still have room. You won’t remember where it is but at least you will have it with you on the trip.

Fly in a plane with luggage restrictions. Arguing about whether to place your socks or underwear inside your shoes before packing them is a much more reasonable debate to get through.

If all of this fails and you find that you are already in the middle of packing together with none of the precautionary strategies in place, you have two choices… fight or give in. Unless you are in the middle of a good book and don’t mind not talking to your wife until you have crossed several state lines, I recommend the give in choice

Just acquiesce and allow her the role of packing dominator. Kick the tires, lift the hood and move your head from side to side as if you understand what you are looking at…make a few suggestions on travel time and directions that allow you to barely keep your masculinity intact but let go of “your seat of the pants figure it out as you go” packing plan that as men, we consider genius. Just start thinking about how much enjoyment you are going get eating those french fries at all of the fast foods you will be stopping at on your trip…ooops…she doesn’t let you eat fries…okay that will be the subject of strategy number two in this series.

HighFive Your Life Principle

With proper planning and anticipation, you can turn a war… into a disagreement… into an understanding.

Husbands…Consider These Four Crucial Items that Should be on Your Honey “Don’t” List

“I learned a great many years ago that in a fight between husband and wife, a third party should never get between the woman’s skillet and the man’s ax-helve.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”  Martin Luther


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 There are many reminders, provided weekly by my wife, that require some action on my part…take out the garbage, put a battery in the smoke detector, tell the neighbor to hush the barking dogs or we will call the police…you know the standard sort of stuff. I hear them and I do my manly best to take care of my wife’s “honey do” list. My list is long but in no way compares to her list of things that she requires herself to do daily.

Perhaps the most important list to any married man, however, is the “honey don’t list. It is the wise and savvy man that learns this early on in his marriage. It is much shorter than his honey do list but oh so much more volatile…sort of…marriage meets nitroglycerin. When you enter into this honey don’t venue, sweat beads form on your forehead like old dynamite. You realize too late that you are in a marital minefield and you strive to navigate your way through the situation without any permanent loss of wife, life or limbs.

It is great to enjoy in depth and personal conversations with your wife but try to avoid venturing into the land of don’t and especially into the land of don’t  ever. A good honey do man does not necessarily make a good honey don’t man. Husbands…listen to reason and consider why you should stay clear of the following four crucial items that should be on your honey don’t list. (Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive.)

Don’t Tell Her How She Should Feel

 After listening to your wife carry on about something for what seems like forever, don’t make the mistake of dismissing all of her emotions by  casually saying something like, “Don’t be so uptight about it, just ignore it and it will go away…can you pass the potatoes? Hey kids what do you want to do after dinner?”

Her emotions matter. Her problem solving technique is different than yours and what may seem matter of fact to you, may require more detailed analysis for her. That analysis takes into account things that generally don’t even cross a man’s shallow mind. Telling her how she should think or feel shows a gross misunderstanding and lack of appreciation for her own thought process and will in most cases, be seen as an insult.

Don’t Ignore the Listening Time

 Whether you know it or not, there is a time allotted in your day when the most important thing you can do is listen to your wife. Many men make the mistake of thinking that a casual chat while continuing to do their work, play or TV watching counts as that time…it doesn’t. You are required by the laws of nature to listen and it is so much easier to listen to her quiet concerned voice than her ranting about your insensitivity voice. So… divest yourself of all of your surrounding distractions and listen.

The net side effect is that you actually learn things. You learn names of family friends and your children. You learn things that are happening with your kids and neighbors and extended family. Granted, because you are trying to get the TV on to watch the football game, your manly brain tries to condense all that she is telling you into the few words that you hope she is really trying to communicate such as, “I had a good day I hope you did too. I’m going to go clean up the kitchen”. But that is when you have to allow your manly survival instincts to kick in and remove your quivering thumb from the remote and sit back and just listen. You might even consider getting off your comfortable rear and  listening while you wash the dishes.

Don’t Ask Her that Question About Her Past

 Some couples may choose to share things of their past in the spirit of full disclosure. However, this may not always be the best option, especially the second time around or if it inserts itself into the conversation year after year. After you get by the basic, “have you ever killed or maimed somebody” and “are you a child molester or porn addict”, you need to proceed cautiously.

Don’t ask unless you are big enough, mature enough, and forgiving enough to handle the answer. It is not your prerogative to demand answers because of your curiosity.

Many mistakes are private and many experiences are personal. It is not requisite that some things are ever brought up again. A pushy partner that needs to know everything and dwells in that knowledge, misses the whole point of your present life together and seriously impedes the potential for true joy in their marriage.

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Don’t Ever…Compare Her to Your Mom

Even though you may love both of these women, your wife is not your mother. On some occasion you might be tempted to say, “Hun my mom said that one day I could be President of the United States…tell me again why you disagree.” If you somehow think there should be a correlation between your mom’s assessment of your skill set and your wife’s assessment, you are mistaken.

They both love you but in a different way. The mother that you remember had a life that was devoted entirely to making you feel better, safe and loved. Your wife will do the same for your children but this same drive is not innate in your relationship with her. Her love for you will grow as she sees you sacrifice for your common goal (which is generally your children). Her task is not to raise you again though she will help you remember things that your mom taught you (Like don’t leave your clothes on the floor).

This is so clear to see when you go to a family dinner with your parents. Even though your mother may be in her eighties, she is still up and down at the dinner table serving you like you were a king. You hardly even notice because that’s just the way your mom has been to you since you were born. Your wife, however, observes and thinks, you lazy bum, get up and serve yourself and your mother.

Your wife will see the good things your mother does and pick and choose the qualities if any, that she would like to emulate. Remember that though your mother and your wife are different, they are both women and both recognize the limitations of the man species. This creates a very tight natural bond that you would want to exist between them. Any comparison you make will only hurt that bond.

Your mother changed your diaper out of love and one day your wife may too but it is not the same…the difference will be that one is done with hope and the other is done with pity.

and so Life Goes on.

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We’re just men. We came with a set of selfish genes. One day this journey through life will be complete. Part of the purpose of this journey is to overcome our selfish tendencies. You will be a better man as you work hard to keep up with your honey do list. But the reward for navigating your life away from the honey don’t list will be far greater. You will find peace and respect and a desire to serve your wife in a way that every Queen deserves.

We’re just men but we can learn. To the woman in each of our lives we say, thank you for giving us a second chance…again and again. That’s a trait that my mom was always really good at…whoops.

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Why You Should Take Your Kids Fishing!

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”

Henry David Thoreau

I recently came across an old picture of a bass that one of my kids caught. Check out the expressions on my boy’s faces. I loved taking them fishing. My dad took me fishing. His dad took him fishing. I am sure that for generations along our family line, the dads have been taking their kids and grandkids fishing.

catch a fish

family fishing
Taking your kids fishing is awesome. It is an experience or sum of many experiences that sometimes have little to do with actually catching fish. There are boat trailers that lose an axle or have a flat tire. There is always the pressure of backing a trailer down a busy boat ramp with multiple “experts” and old timers watching and judging. There are plugs that are sometimes remembered only when the boat is quickly filling up with water.

There is bait to buy and keep alive. There are licenses and boat regulations to consider. There is bad weather, hot sun and early morning departures which impact your whole day.

There are boat batteries that run down and motors that won’t start. There are snacks, gas, and ice to buy. There are fishing lines that break and hooks that end up in fingers and ears. There are rods and reels that fall into the water and stringers of fish that drift away because nobody tied them to the boat. There are anchors that have the same fate…a well meaning toss over board with no rope attached to the boat. There are tangles and knots. There are long hot hours that go by without any bites except from mosquitoes. There are snakes and gators that keep you on your toes.

There is all of this and finally a nibble…and if the fish gods are smiling on you, your child lands a fish. Life is good again…or so it seems to the younger ones. For those older and more mature anglers, they know that life has been good all along.

hf70 As with fishing, life is much less about the end result than it is about the journey. Going fishing is all about teaching your children how to solve problems without them even realizing they are growing…it’s about them learning that having fun does not always mean things won’t go wrong. Going fishing is about spending time talking with your kids while you are waiting for the fish to bite or for someone to tow you in. Going fishing is about introducing your children to the wonders of nature. Going fishing is how you make a miserable outing into something that your kids will treasure forever.

Don’t rob your kids of these experiences. Even in the bible it tells us while raising kids we are not to spare the rod…and,  I might add, nor the reel and a box full of tackle. Do all that it takes to make a fishing trip possible. You may or may not catch a fish but there is no question that your misery will pay you back to the positive down the road.

 HighFive Your Life Principle: Go fishing with your kids. Enjoy what others may call misery and make memories that will last through the generations.

Tell a Story

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I Am Glad My Mom Was Not A Paramecium

“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”
Pablo Picasso
 paramecium mom

 

I am glad that my mom was not a paramecium because…well…I would have been one too. Since they mostly just split to make more, I wouldn’t have had a father either. And on those heartbreaking days when I just needed a hug, her numerous little cilia just wouldn’t be long enough to really reach around me.

I am glad my mom was not a flea. I love dogs but not that fond of drinking blood. I love to jump but would rather drive a jeep. I don’t think mom and I would have had that much of a relationship. I mean, if I got on a rabbit and she stayed on the dog, when would we have ever met again?

I am glad that mom was not a sparrow. I would have loved to fly but I never really got into sunflower seeds…and even though the Lord notices a sparrow when he falls, I wouldn’t really have had any knees to bend down on to learn to say my prayers.

I am glad my mom was not a salmon. I like the water but not really the ocean that much…too many predators. At least, I would have had a dad but then both of them would have died at about the time I would have been born…and so many brothers and sisters…I never would have known them all.

I am glad that mom was not an elephant. She would have protected me for sure but I am not sure that I would have liked the gentle nudge of her huge feet…and she would not have been happy with her big ears and teeth in the family photo. I would have never been picked up to cry on her shoulder or felt the gentle pat on my back that all would be okay.

My mom carefully selected the right mate and honored him his whole life. She has nurtured and protected me and my siblings since birth. She has provided shade from the constant and sometimes brutal challenges of the world. She has cried with us and laughed with us and encouraged us. She alone has been the stake in the ground that has prevented the vicious storms and whirlwinds of life from scattering us abroad. She has been the home to come home to. She has been mom.

I am glad that mom was not a paramecium but if she had been, I would have gladly swum the swampy waters with her. She makes any world she lives in a better place…a piece of heaven…a home.

Happy Mothers Day Mom!

Old Letters…Forever Thoughts

Doc - Apr 4, 2015, 7-006
My father has been gone for almost ten years. As I was cleaning my desk this morning, I found an old letter he wrote to me when I was home from college, almost 40 years ago. The salutation, “Dear Gary Son”, struck an emotional chord. The first line, “It is nice to have you here”, further melted my emotions. It would be nice to have him here with me today.

This Easter season, I am reminded that the possibility exists that we may see each other again and that he may once again tell me that it is nice to have me with him. Mine is a hope and a faith that calms my soul and enriches my life with purpose. I do not have hope and faith because I seek to be calmed or to have my life enriched with purpose. Instead, those feelings are a direct consequence of the quiet testimony that is in my heart that Jesus did live and that his mission was divine.

I believe that one day I will be able to say, “It is nice to be with you too Dad.”

Old letters…forever thoughts…

Happy Easter!

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Just say Know!

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”
William Shakespeare

There has been a great debate among parents regarding the use of the word “No”. Some have said that it has such a negative connotation that the word should be avoided at all costs when dealing with small children. Others simply say that it is absurd that you shouldn’t use that word when your child is getting ready to touch a hot stove or shove another child to the ground.

As our children grow into their teenage years, their questions and actions become more significant (though granted, touching a hot stove is pretty significant). May I stay out late? May I have the car? May I go out with that guy that looks like a loser and is ten years older than me but really has a sweet personality?

Our first and often times correct response is “No” or the more thoughtful response, “When pigs grow wings”. We have learned through extensive media campaigns that when it comes to drugs, we should just say no. However, as they grow older, what worked when they were children, no longer seems to suffice. A much better choice is to just say “Know”.

Explaining the “why” of things gives you as a parent not only more credibility but also helps you (forces you) to ponder more deeply the “why” yourself. Why is it bad to do drugs or advisable to not have premarital sex? Why is it a bad idea to ask the thirty year old bar tender who tends bar at a local hotel to your senior prom? Why is a good idea to be home by midnight. Why does pornography take you down a lonely and desolate path? Why should you get good grades. Why should you learn how to work and earn your own money. Why should you be respectful? Why should you develop good grooming standards?

Our teenagers have so many good questions and are arriving at so many crossroads where a crucial decision must be made, that just saying no is a weak and debilitating answer. We certainly do not empower them to make the right decisions and may even push them towards the wrong choices.

Our choice is simple. Learn of the issues and prepare your answers. Live in the “Know” zone and not the “No” zone. I have always been amazed that my wife knew everything there was to know about my kid’s lives and even the lives of their friends. It was not uncommon for me to reintroduce myself to one of the their friends whom I had already met several times before but had forgotten. In contrast, my wife knew who was taking which subject in school and the name of that teacher and who was dating whom. She knew this not just for my kids but for their friends as well. She would cut up fruit and veggies and get them to hang out in the kitchen and chat with them like she was a coed.

Being in the “Know” zone makes all the difference in the world if we as parents want to help our teenagers maneuver their way through the hot stoves of adulthood. We empower ourselves to empower our children when we are current with a good working knowledge of the ills of society and the environment in which our kids live. Ignorance is not bliss…it is just a lazy way to say “yes…its okay… I don’t care”.

I am the only one that my wife says “no” to without any explanation required and I am old enough to “know” what that means…no pizza, no french toast, no nap…but I digress…our children need us to be in the “Know” zone so get there and get there before they have to learn all of the reasons why not to touch the hot stove by trial and error.

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