Category Archives: marriage

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!

If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends. If you would like to be notified of future blogs by Gary, please hit the “follow” button at the top of this blog. If you are using a smart phone the “follow” icon is sometimes at the bottom of the blog. You can also follow Gary as “lakeolaguy” on Instagram and Facebook.

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.

To Tarry or Marry…

“If you live to be a hundred, I want
To live to be a hundred minus one day,
So I never have to live without you.”

Winnie the Pooh

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From time to time, I have young men come to me to discuss the dilemma of their relationships with the girls they are dating.  The specific question after dating someone for an extended time is, “how do I know that she is the one?”

I am not a professional marriage counselor but having been married over 28 years, I have learned a thing or two.  Still, it is a question that does not come with an easy answer. I write this blog to mostly an LDS audience and others who generally accept the premise that the option of living together to “try things out” is not really a viable consideration.

Without taking a potential spouse out for a “test drive” then, how can you make such an important decision and be sure that you will be happy with the consequences of that decision. It can be easy to become paralyzed with the whole situation and be afraid to take another step. It is especially frustrated by the new found social media platforms that promise the possibility that something better is waiting just around the corner.

This is a question that needs to be resolved in your mind and heart but don’t think that because it is hard, it is okay to be indecisive. An investment of time is required to know what is right for you but eventually, you do need to take a step…either closer or further away. Staying on the fence for an extended amount of time is not good for you or your potential spouse. Picture the fence as a series of barbed wires or having glass shards sticking out instead of a nice cushy La-z-boy fence where hanging out is sometimes easier and more comfortable than making a move. Make a decision to move forward or get out of the way so everyone can find that special person that is waiting for them to come into their lives.

Allow me to make a few spiritual and practical suggestions with the hope that one of them or maybe parts of several of them may help you take the next step.

Spiritual

There is a spiritual element that needs to play a part in this decision. There are many stories out there that seem to rely on this as the main reason for making a decision. Who am I to argue with that? May I suggest however, that just as there are many different ways people gain their testimony of Christ and develop their faith, there are also many different ways for someone to be spiritually influenced in their decision on whom to marry.

It is not necessary to speak to the burning bush or to get a burning in your bosom in order to light a fire under your rear to get moving forward with your relationship. God speaks to your mind as well as your heart. As you ponder and pray with real intent, there are a variety of ways to get your answer and many of them will come in the simple forms of which you are most likely already familiar. Among other things, you may feel peace, you may just feel right about it, it may just make a lot of sense to your mind, you may just love being in his/her presence, or you may be touched by how your friend treats other people.

You have the right to individual inspiration and revelation and do not need to depend on the other person’s spiritual promptings to help you determine what is right for you.

Practical

There are also practical elements that should play a part in this decision. I understand why people over the ages have said that you can make any marriage work. There is some truth in that because if both parties practice Christ like attributes of forgiveness, love unfeigned, love your enemy and long suffering, you could get along with anyone. However, wouldn’t it be nice if the bedrock of your relationship was actually based on something that made you happy without testing your skills of loving your enemy every day?

Here are four of my favorite practical elements that can help a marriage not only last but be dynamic and awesome:

Respect: Perhaps the biggest one for me is respect. At the end of the day, do you respect your future companion? Do you look at him/her and have an element of dang, this is one special person. They are amazing to you in some regard because of just the way they are. It has nothing to do with looks…it has all to do with character. This will be one of the most sustaining elements in a marriage that survives. How much do you respect them?

Individuality: Are they comfortable with who they are and is that person unique and admirable? It has nothing to do if they are like you at all. It has been said that opposites attract and though sometimes it is like mixing oil and water, people who do not think alike in all things, often create a dynamic that spurs growth for both individuals. It is great to get a few big issues out of the way…to agree on the things that are most important to both of you, but that list can be very short. The other things in life upon which you will differ will provide the fuel in your engine, the butter on your toast, the icing on your cake, the glue in your marriage, the spice in your life and the umph in your triumph.

Hard Worker: The ability to work hard is an attribute that you want your partner to have. Life is hard and someone who can roll up their sleeves without complaining and complete the task at hand will serve your marriage well. How can you tell if they are a hard worker? Pay attention. Do enough things together that require effort so that you begin to get a sense of how they will respond when the real loads of life are placed on their shoulders.

Chemistry: Sure people can love anyone but there is nothing to be ashamed of if you are so attracted to the other person that you can’t think straight. In fact, I would suggest that if it is not there then you may need to move on. Physical attraction is part of the package. I am not sure how much society has impacted what is attractive to each of us…surely it has played a part…but when all is said and done, wanting to be with each other is important. There may be medical reasons that create unhealthy expectations or disinterest but for the most part, proximity, the desire to be close to your spouse, is important.

These spiritual and practical items do not make a very long list. How long is your checklist? Does it include things like: height, weight, teeth, hair color, athleticism, finances, ankle size, education, family situation, pedigree, past history, political persuasion, musical talents, skin tone, religious persuasion, and other things that are yet even more demanding than these?

Marriage is a great adventure and will require all that you are to make it work. It will also require all that you are yet to become and that is brought about by what you will learn from your spouse. Most of the things that you have on your checklist before you get married, will have little to do with the forces that will make you grow together as individuals and as a couple.

For some things that do not line up with what your dreams told you would constitute marriage, you may just have to be the one that carries the weight of that for your spouse just as he/she will have to carry the weight of your short comings. You will be each other’s guardian angel, carrying the weight of the other’s imperfections as you build a marriage that will last forever.

So, is she the one? Well…she is for somebody…whether for you or not, I can’t tell.  Your next step however, is to not tarry. Stop trying to fit somebody into the perfect template that you designed several years ago. If you desire to get married, get serious and make some grown up evaluations and decisions regarding the person you are dating. Keep moving towards or away but keep moving.

Before you know it, you will have been married for 28 years and will represent the next generation of wise married folks whose scars and stripes have earned them the right to offer wisdom and council to those making the greatest decision of their lives. I won’t be there…I gotta keep moving too. Life and marriage are too awesome to tarry for too long…the journey is real…keep moving.

If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends. If you would like to be notified of future blogs by Gary, please hit the “follow” button at the top of this blog. If you are using a smart phone the “follow” icon is sometimes at the bottom of the blog. You can also follow Gary as “lakeolaguy” on Instagram and Facebook.

Valentine’s Day…Flowers or Sod?

“He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.”

 Douglas Adams

 

“My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep an eye on it.”

 Rodney Dangerfield

 

“After 45 years of marriage, when I have an argument with my wife, if we don’t agree, we do what she wants. But, when we agree, we do what I want!”

 Jacques Pepin

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and my wife of 27 28 years is out of town and we will miss Valentine’s Day together. I can do the easy thing and send her some flowers and card or I can do the hard thing and put some sod down in the front yard so that when she returns she is surprised. I asked a few of you and the most common response was that I should do both!

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In order to get this right, one has to know my wife of 27 28 years and how she thinks. She doesn’t really care for a gift of flowers but neither does she want to spend money on things like a front lawn. With limited resources, there are a lot of other things she would rather spend the money on, such as the kids, travel and an annual subscription to Men’s Health for me.

Looking deeper, I would have to admit that it is really me that wants the front lawn and that I am simply doing it while she is gone so that it gets done. The assumption of course is that it would be way too hard for her to ask me to pull it back up, stack it on a pallet and go ask for a refund when she gets home. I hope I am not assuming too much.

And what of the flowers? She loves flowers but not as a gift that somehow pretends to show love and care with no effort on my part other than stopping by the grocery store with every other wannabe good husband picking up flowers on the way home from work. No…for me to get credit, I would have to hand pick them individually from a far-off mountainside (I live in Florida) and hand blow the glass vase myself.

But I know in my heart that flowers are not what she really wants for Valentine’s Day. What she really wants is for me to be healthy.  She wants me to eat correctly and work out and have zest for life and energy to enjoy the day. That sounds like a lot of work and effort on my part…that sounds like…wait a minute…Eureka! I’ve got it! Problem solved. I am so pumped.

img_7015I will forget about the grocery store flowers…I won’t fall for that lazy zestless selfish weak minded substitute for pure love. No…I will get up in the morning, gnaw on a few gluten free acorns and go out and get a wonderful day of exercise… laying sod…all for her. I will work up a sweat just for her. I will put that lawn in which we I have wanted for 20 years. Dang I love my wife. Thank you, sweetheart, for being such an inspiration!

img_7043                                           Yeah…I love Valentine’s Day

HighFive Your Life Principle

None

Okay…for those that think I am a total bum, I am sending a card…

Okay…okay… I may be a bum but she loves me and that makes me the luckiest bum in the whole world!

Okay…Okay…Okay…I’ll plant some flowers too…

My wife does not do social media so let’s keep the sod on the down low and maybe she won’t notice it!…but Joey…if you do catch wind of this, just know that I love you and I am trying to be healthy and miss you very much…and yes, I will mow the new lawn.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

garyjoey

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 Listen When Your Wife Puts a “Bug” in Your Ear…

 “Lady Middleton resigned herself… Contenting herself with merely giving her husband a gentle reprimand on the subject, five or six times every day.”

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Ok…by way of confession, I used this story in my last blog to relate a different life principle. That is one of the great things about the stories of our lives…they have multiple teaching moments if we look for them…now…back to the story.

I really enjoy a nice bowl of cereal for breakfast while reading a good book. Since cereal only requires the use of one hand, it is easy to shovel in luscious energy with your head positioned low and just over the bowl, while using the other hand to turn the pages and to keep anyone out who might have wandered inadvertently into the area where this intense and hallowed awesome morning ritual is taking place.

Recently, I prepared a nice bowl of a cereal with raisins. I added extra raisins and a good banana and settled down for a nice relaxing morning session of reading and eating.

About halfway through, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, an unusually large clump of raisins in my spoon surrounded by white milk. It was staged close to my mouth hopper waiting for the previous spoonful to adequately clear which only took a moment. I didn’t stop reading or even stop to take a look at it and into my system it went. I noticed as I chewed on it that it did not have the same texture that I came to expect when eating those juicy raisins but that sensation was but a footnote to whatever had my attention in the book.

Sometime later while back at my desk computer, I noticed something lingering in my mouth. It was actually hard to get a hold of but once I pulled it out, I was shocked to find the leg of a roach….yes shocked and grossed out and yukked out and holy cowed out. Yep…my nice clump of juicy raisins was just a nice juicy cockroach. Below is a picture of it.

roachHad my wife told me before (perhaps multiple times) to close the bag of cereal with a close pin before returning it to the cupboard?

Well…yes.

Was she right?

Well…yes.

Did I get what I deserved?

Well…no…I mean who deserves a roach in the mouth? Yuk!

One more time…Did I get what I deserved?

Well…yes.

Yes…I should have listened to my wise and loving wife. Instead of a bug in the ear, maybe I just needed a bug in the mouth to change my disobedient and lazy ways. It worked. I will now pay extra close attention when she says there is a “fly in the ointment” or “bug in the batter”.

A HighFive Your Life principle is to give heed to the bug in your ear that your wife places there from time to time. It will most likely make your life just a little easier.

Tell a Story

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Five Tips for Stress Free/Work Free Weed Eating After Age 50

We were all weekend warriors and yard fanatics when we were young and raising a family (free labor) but after you turned 50, priorities and body parts began to shift. It seemed like a good idea 20 years ago to plant all of those shrubs and flowers but now a rock garden and a condo sound pretty good. As with many things, there is a new right way to do things if we really want there to be and so allow me to share five tips for proper weed eating after age 50. Only four things are required to get started:

1. A battery-powered weed eater
2. One battery and charger
3. A wet towel
4. Lazy streak, poor health or poor work ethic..any one of these will suffice but if you have all three it is even better.

Tip One
Purchase a Battery-Powered Weed Eater

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The most important tool to make this work well is to purchase a battery-powered weed eater. A gas weed eater is good in the sense that you can never get them started so little work is done but the danger is that you still burn a lot of calories trying to get it started and maybe even sweat a little which we are trying to avoid. Nor is an electric weed eater with an extension cord a good idea unless there are constant power outages in your area. The miracle of the battery-powered weed eater is that the battery runs out. It is critical to purchase just one battery which should give you about 20 minutes of spinning the string. This time can be spent cutting grass or if out of sight, a pair of vice grips can hold the trigger down and you can talk to your neighbor while it cuts the air.

Tip Two
Secure a Wet Towel

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As you leave the house, ask your wife for a damp towel, presumably to help you cool off in the grueling sun. As soon as you have a safe opportunity (wife not looking), use the wet towel to moisten your shirt in areas usually reserved for sweat. You may have to use your water bottle that you have also asked your wife to provide, presumably to fend off dehydration, to drench areas that the towel could not get.

Tip Three
Work in the Worst Area of Your Yard

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It is important that your wife thinks that you are trying. By choosing the worst part of the yard, there is built-in empathy and sympathy. Progress is slow and hard. It is you and her against the darned old worst part of the yard. If it is near a lake where the danger of snake bite or gator attack can be introduced as a possibility, you will fare even better. Hopefully, that part of the yard is also hidden from her view. Turn on the weed eater while constantly checking to see if your wife is near. The more you run the motor the quicker the battery dies down. If a few blades of grass or weeds get in your way, don’t drop your head and complain…nobody is perfect. Stay in this area of the yard until the battery dies.

Tip Four
Oversee the Charging of the Battery

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Electricity can be deadly. Volunteer (though not verbally to your wife) to make sure that the charging of the “only” battery you own goes well. It is better that your wife not know the sacrifice in the face of danger that you are preparing to make. Choose a comfortable seat as this may take several hours. Take this opportunity to re-hydrate and re-energize your body with staples that you may have around the house. If you can not find any, a quick trip to the closest convenience store will provide you with nutrition and sustenance.

Tip Five
Enjoy Your Work Product

IMG_9951Not everyone has the ability or desire to do what you have done. Take a moment to enjoy the journey. Allow several hours for this part of the work day as it may be the most important.

IMG_9953Upon waking up, check the battery. Stare at it for ten seconds and make a “hmphh!” sound and then plug-in the charger. Make sure that any feelings of guilt are immediately disregarded.

You are done. Another Saturday of weed eating (and a few chips and sodas) are under your belt. You will find that this method only slightly adjusted will work well with other projects that you may have on your honey do list. It is not however, recommended for projects such as getting the house ready for sale or for divorce proceedings.

If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends. If you would like to be notified of future blogs by Gary, please hit the “follow” button at the top of this blog. If you are using a smart phone the “follow” icon is sometimes at the bottom of the blog.