Real Lovers Appreciate Their Differences

“Opposites may not always attract, but differences sustain a relationship.”

John Thurman – Get a Grip on Your Relationship Workshop

Take a moment and reflect on the early days of your relationship. How did you meet? Who made the first move? What were some of the things that attracted you to each other early on?

I would guess that at least one piece of the puzzle was some of the ways that your spouse was different from you.

The difference is one of the things that initially draws us to our partners. Have you ever noticed how a talkative, engaging extrovert could be attracted to a quiet, reflective introvert? How about someone cautious being drawn to someone who is filled with confidence.[1]

And while this is the case in so many relationships, many times, these differences can become distractions down the road, those cute nuances can move from appealing to appalling. As time passes, many of these differences can cause conflict, misunderstanding, and even alienation.

You and your spouse are two different people. You have diverse families of origin, varied family experiences. You may come from an intact family or a family that was impacted by divorce, death, or trauma.

You have different tastes and a sense of style, and I am sure you may even have a different set of expectations. Based on forty-seven years of marriage and countless hours in the chair as a therapist, I know that you have different personality styles and love languages.

Let’s look at a few examples. While you review these examples, be sure to check and see if any of these sound familiar. (I am grateful to my friends Steve and Cindy Wright at Marriage Missions for their colorful insights)

Planners vs. Flexers:

Planners are the individuals who love organization and structure. If you were to look into their cupboard, things would be organized, because everything has a place. They generally prefer that life be neat and tidy. They use planners, keep lists, and can usually tell you what they will be doing a month from now.

Flexers, on the other hand, tend to be more malleable, able to adjust to the ebbs and flows of life quickly. They can sometimes see planners as being inflexible and being control freaks. Flexers tend to be more “in the moment,” flexible, and laid back. They take life as it comes. Loose ends are not deal breakers because they believe that things find a way of working themselves out. Planners may sometimes see this type of behavior as lazy and irresponsible.

This can prove to be testy, particularly when a planner and a fixer are married.

Big Picture vs. In the Weeds:

Big picture people have a general focus on the prize. They tend to think in terms of moving in a direction that accomplishes the mission. They are doers. People who are “in the weeds” are the detailers of life, and Lord knows Big Picture people need folks who love the attention to details.

Big-picture people tend to be abstract thinkers who are likely to see the entire situation. People who are more attentive to details tend to see the nuances of a given scenario. Big picture people paint a great image of what they want to accomplish. However,  without the perspective of the detailers, they will miss the rich nuances of the details of the journey. It is essential to understand that if a couple is matched like this, both perspectives are crucial.

Risk Takers vs. Risk Averse:

One author cleverly divides these two styles into leapers and lookers. Leapers get an emotional boost when they observe an opportunity. They want to grab the opportunity while it is hot. As a general rule of thumb, they come across as fearless and maybe even somewhat reckless as they seem impervious to danger. Those who are more risk-averse tend to be more observant, careful, and are risk-averse. They like to check out the facts, gather the data, analyze the data and take their time to look at multiple options before making a decision.

As a couple, the risk-taker can get bored and may seek new and unique experiences. Those who are more reserved and less likely to take risks will find much comfort in the familiar, routine, and predictable. In marriage, the leaper would be advised to seek the counsel, insight, and plans of the looker. Likewise, the looker needs to be stretched by the leaper. Which would tend to keep the relationship exciting.

Extrovert vs. Introverts:

Extroverts love the excitement and connectivity of the crowd. They are expressive and responsive and frequently are energized when they are around others. Introverts, on the opposite end of the spectrum, would rather have a quiet time either by themselves or with a few close friends. Extroverts tend to be in the moment, whereas introverts tend to be reserved, thinking through options before talking.

Authors Shaunti & Jeff Feldhanm’s books For Men Only and For Women Only are two books that I ask all of the couples that I work with to read. These two books provide the reader with dynamic truths about the differences between men and women. Here are just a few of their insights.

How different areas of insecurity can lead to variable emotional needs. 

Men always question how others view them, so they are filled up by knowing that their wife notices what they do. Saying things like “thank you” or good job” to your man in the little things of life is almost the same as you receive a dozen roses and chocolate. When you verbally express gratitude to your husband, you are making him feel competent, needed, and respected, which are his core needs.

Now to flip the coin. Women need to be reassured of their spouse’s love every day. Many times guys are stunned to learn that 82 percent of women are deeply pleased by simple things like holding her hand, shooting her a text to let her know that you love her, or that you are thinking about her.

Another huge difference is that our brains and, therefore, our communications stages are different.

Neuroscience is blazing many new trails into the understanding of how unique, different, and complex and that men and women’s brains are entirely different. One of the interesting findings is that women’s brains are wired to think things externally. That could be the main reason women like to talk. It seems, in sitting with each other and sharing, they can process solutions. Men’s brains are more structured to problem solve through internal processing, that could be one reason most men are challenged to find a “talking solution.”

How does this work itself out practically? Most of us guys need to pull away from emotional situations to figure out what we are rethinking and feeling to talk about it later.

Women generally tend to process emotions by talking. What a woman doesn’t is a quick, uninvited response or solution because that would short circuit her processing. For our wives, these intense feelings need to be processed by talking, and we as men would do well to learn how to sit with her and draw out those feelings.

Another big difference that we need to appreciate is how different men and women express themselves sexually.

Learning to appreciate different styles when it comes to intimacy in the bedroom and other places can significantly enhance a unique sense of closeness. Special Note: There is probably no other area in a marriage that can present as many opportunities for misunderstanding as those intimate moments.

Ladies, contrary to popular opinion, sex is not just a physical need that we guys have; it’s primarily an emotional one. Think about that; the idea of intimacy for men as an emotional one, an idea that has almost been erased from the map. A husband needs to know that his wife deeply desires him. This type of affirmation gives men a deep sense of well-being that gently flows into every other area of our lives.  

However, many times a husband can avoid these painful feelings by engaging his wife in ways that she needs instead of expecting a response that he thinks she should have if she desires him. Testosterone gives most men the “microwave response,” the ability to be ready in a short time. Women are designed to be more of a “crockpot.” Ladies, please don’t be offended by the term. 

To use a foodie illustration. Would you rather have microwaved soup or a slow-cooked pot roast with vegetables that have simmered all day?

Men, she needs to feel close to us outside of the bedroom, so letting her know ahead of time could help get her in the right frame of mind.

In all fairness, these are generalizations, the key is to appreciate the difference and adjust accordingly and intentionally

Learning to value and work with your differences will provide you an extreme advantage in your relationship as you choose to grow as a couple, experiencing intimacy in multiple areas.

I hope this post will help you be open to understanding the differences and celebrate them as a couple.

Want to learn a little more about personality styles as you learn to appreciate the differences

Hey, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave me a comment. I will respond.

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[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201508/6-reasons-appreciate-differences-your-partner

10 Ways to Boost Communication in Your Marriage

10 ways to boost communication in your marriage

“It is a luxury to be understood.”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

February is traditionally a month that focuses on love and relationships. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be featuring some of my most read articles on relationships.

Building a relationship and being married is a team sport; you either win together or lose together.

One of the keys to building intimacy is communication. Two-way communication based on respect, honor, and grace is essential for two people sharing a life.

Drs. David Olson and Peter Larson have invested their careers studying relationships. They have identified 10 Communication Skills that will enhance your intimacy.

1.     Give full attention to your partner when talking.  My wife gets very annoyed when I think I am listening, but am distracted. My suggestion, turn off the phone, Ipad™, computer, or television and turn towards your partner.

2.    Please focus on the good qualities and be intentional about catching them doing good.  People tend to rise or fall on our expectations when you are intentional about finding the good in someone they rarely disappoint.

3.     Be assertive, not aggressive or passive. Share your thoughts, feeling, and needs.  One way to do this is to the old therapist standby of using “I” statements versus “you” statements. (e.g., “I worry when you don’t let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”)

4.     Avoid criticism. It is a relationship killer.  I think William Arthur Ward hit the nail on the head when he said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you.”You can never share too much encouragement.

5.     If you must criticize, sandwich it with a least two positive comments. (e.g., “I appreciate it when you help out by cooking, the food is excellent. It would mean a lot to me if you could straighten up a little after. Thanks again for dinner.) 

6.     Listen to understand, not to judge.  Two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Listening is all about trying to understand.

7.     Use active listening. Summarize your partner’s comments before sharing your reactions to feelings.

8.     Avoid blaming each other at all costs. Instead, work together for a solution.  There is energy when we accept responsibility and decide to work towards a mutually beneficial solution.

9.     Manage your conflict.  (I will give you ten steps for resolving conflict in a few weeks.)

10.  Seek counseling.  If you are not able to have better results with your communication as a couple. Then take action.  Enroll in marriage/relationship class, read a book together, see your pastor, priest, or get counseling if you need to.

One of the best ways to increase the frequency of physical intimacy is through reliable communication. When men and women feel heard, they usually are open to more intimacy.

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5 Practices of Successful, Resilient Couples

five principles of successful couples, communicate

For the next four weeks, as my wife and I approach our 47th anniversary, I will be posting some articles about ways to build and maintain a long-term, resilient marriage.

What would you think if I told you I’d discovered 5 practices of successful, resilient couples, all starting with the letter C, that you could use to give your marriage a jump start?

Recently I was speaking to a group of about 140 folks at Cannon AFB in Clovis, New Mexico. While my presentation was on Resilience and Stress Management, a couple of the participants and I get into a brief discussion about marriage and what makes some marriages work. I mentioned a few things like communication, compromise, being honest, you know the usual stuff and pretty much forgot about it and went back to the session.

Then, the other night we had several friends over for a dinner party, and while a couple of us were visiting we discovered that they had just celebrated their 46th anniversary, another was going to be celebrating 24, and we are preparing to celebrate our 47th next month. That is 117 years of marriage! While we didn’t get into the subject, I have known these folks for a while, and I could safely say, they demonstrate the 5 practices of successful, resilient couples.

So here are the 5 practices of successful, resilient couples or practices you can develop in your marriage.

Ready? Let’s jump in.

Compromise – One of the things you learn about marriage, usually within the first few days or weeks is that a marriage is all about giving. Compromise is a vital part of any successful, enduring marriage. For two individuals to develop and work as a married team, you must learn to give and take. 

5 principles of successful couples, Clear the Air

Communicate – Your marriage will shrivel or thrive based on the number of meaningful discussions that you have. Communication in your marriage is like a life-giving river. When you fail to communicate you dam the lifeblood of your marriage. Do what you can, read what you need, spend the money necessary to guard your communication. Many potentially significant marriages crumble simply because of poor or no communication. 

Clear the Air, don’t hide your hurts. WARNING: I am not talking about downloading on someone. One of the components of a long-term marriage is that you allow your spouse to encourage, nurture, comfort, and support you. As couples learn to mutually do this, several positive things can happen. A few benefits include feeling accepted, which leads to more emotional connection, lower stress, and increased intimacy.

By the way, laughter can help clear the air!

Choose your Battles Carefully. When you have two people sharing the same space, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually, the conflict will ensue. So, don’t be blindsided by this. The critical thing here is to be careful to choose what you will be investing your energy in. Here is a helpful acronym from my friends dealing with addiction, the word HALT is one of the tools they use to avoid “falling of the wagon.” I believe it can also be a powerful way to lower the risks and level of conflict in your home.

H – Hunger is a physical and emotional need. Hungry people can be grumpy people, and cranky people tend to be more combative. 

A – Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that we all experience from time to time. Slow down and take some time to try and understand what is causing the anger and know how to express it appropriately. 

L – Loneliness – If you are feeling lonely and. or misunderstood, do you best not to isolate,but to find meaningful and safe ways to connect with your spouse. 

T – Tiredness impacts us across the board, body, soul, mind, and spirit. Realize that if you or your spouse are experiencing tiredness and fatigue, you are more at risk to fight.

You might want to check out my 10 Rules for Fighting Fair.

Hopefully, this acronym will help you in choosing your battles carefully.

Last, but certainly not least is what I believe is the most important one.

Want to receive my Free Ebook 21 Ways to Improve Your Marriage? Text the word Marriage to 33777.

Capitalize on trust, truth, and honesty. Dishonestly in a marriage is an almost sure-fire way to screw things up. Why?  It destroys trust. It sets a horrible example. It undermines your goals as a couple. 

Being married is at the same time, one of the best and toughest things you will ever do. My hope is that you will be able to use these 5 principles of successful, resilient couples to enhance your marriage.

Ancient Relationship Wisdom

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT 

So, which of these do you need to work on? Which one could you prayerfully consider doing this week? I’d love to hear from you.

Full Disclosure, this article was inspired by 5 Secret to a Successful Long-Term Relationship or Marriage by Dr. John M. Grohol. It was hard to beat his outline, though I have addressed the different areas a little bit differently.

Hey, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this, maybe even begin a conversation.

Blessings,

John Thurman

10 Tips for Having a Happy Husband

This is the first part of a four-part series to help you have a meaningful Valentine’s Day. In a couple of days I will publish How to Have a Happy Wife.

With all the static about the Gillette commercial and the APA’s discussion about toxic masculinity, I thought this would be a great time to do a few posts about marriage. Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, I thought it would be fun. After all, I have been married to the same woman for 46 years. In those forty-six years, we have had our ups and downs, great times and times that were pretty bad. We have had beautiful seasons of growth as well as seasons when things were pretty sucky and we could hardly wait until Springtime. Two key ingredients to building a resilient relationship are extending grace to one another and having an appreciation for the differences between men and women.

What Men Need

Ever wondered if there were any way to tell if your husband is a happily married man?

While every relationship goes through its seasons, here are some proven indicators that your man is happy in your relationship.
Shaunti Feldhahn, a bestselling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, author of For Women Only, shares some critical insight into men. Her book and its recent revision surveyed thousands of men across multiple socio-economic levels and cultural backgrounds. Here are seven revelations her research revealed. This is taken directly from her book.

10 Signs of a Happy Husband

Our Surface Understanding      What That Means in Practice

Men need respect. Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected
Men are insecure. Despite their “in control” exterior men often feel like imposters and are insecure that their inadequacies will be discovered.
Men want more sex. Your sexual desire for your husband profoundly affects his sense of well-being and confidence in all areas of his life.
Men avoid issues by “checking out.” Men address issues by first pulling away to process and think-so they can better talk about them later.
Men are visual. Even happily married men struggle with being pulled toward live and recollected images of other women.
Men are “unromantic clods.” Actually, most men enjoy romance (sometimes in different ways) and want to be romantic-but hesitate because they doubt they will succeed.
Men care about appearance. You don’t need to be a size 3, but your man does need to see you making efforts to take care of yourself, and he will take on significant costs or inconvenience to support you.

Remember, these insights are from a well-respected author and columnist. She and her husband have also written a companion book For Men Only.

Here are some proven ways to help your man experience a more meaningful life and relationship.

  1. He knows that he can be himself without being judged or criticized. You see, there is nothing that can kill a relationship faster than criticism. Just to be sure, this goes both ways. Guys, being critical towards your wife is a guaranteed way to shut her down.
  2. He smiles a lot. He feels that you notice him and appreciate all that he does for you and that you do not take him for granted.
  3. He realizes that you love and accept him for who he is, but he also knows that you will not put up with any bad behavior. He knows that your love is the “real deal” and respects it because he sees that it is not based on submissive compliance, but a loving choice.
  4. He likes that you care about looking attractive in your own personal way. He doesn’t expect you to look like someone you aren’t, but seeing that you care about your appearance makes him feel you value yourself and your relationship with him.
  5. He understands that you desire him and express it through physical intimacy. Every man wants a wife who loves physical intimacy. What do most wives want? A man who provides the intimacy that her soul longs for. You see men only need a place, but a woman needs a reason.
  6. He is around the house more, partially because he feels respected and admired by you. There is no love outside of respect. Feeling the admiration and respect of the one you love boosts self-esteem, increases intimacy, and promotes communication and passion.
  7. He speaks highly of you primarily because he rarely or never feels belittled, berated, or humiliated by you.
  8. He sees that you do not hold on to grudges, keep score or consistently feel victimized by life. The helps your relationship develop flexibility and adaptability, and keeps the possibility of a rewarding future intact.
  9. He is faithful to the vows he made with you.
  10. He seeks you for comfort and consolation. When your husband makes a choice to share his problems with you, it is an excellent indicator that he is happy with you even when he is feeling dejected and vulnerable.
    Take a moment to reflect on your feelings about these 10 indicators.

Are you happy with where you are? If so, outstanding! If you feel you need a little work, then pick one or two and try them out as a pilot project with your honey.

Need a great laugh? Check Mark Gungor’s In Two Minds Video


Seven Ways to Have a Happy Husband

Ever wondered if there are any ways to tell if your husband is a happily married man?

While every relationship goes through its seasons, here are some proven indicators that your man is happy in your relationship.

1. He knows that he can be himself without being judged or criticized. You see, there is nothing that can kill a relationship faster than criticism.

2. He feels that you notice him and appreciate all that he does for you and that you do not take him for granted.

3. He realizes that you love and accept him for who he is, but he also knows that you will not put up with any bad behavior. He knows that your love is the “real deal” and respects it because he sees that it is not based on submissive compliance, but a loving choice.

4. He likes that you care about looking attractive in your own personal way. He doesn’t expect you to look like someone you aren’t, but seeing that you care about your appearance makes him feel you value yourself and your relationship with him.

5. He sees that you desire him and express it through physical intimacy. Every man wants a wife who loves physical intimacy. What do most wives want? A man who provides the intimacy that her soul longs for. You see men only need a place, but a woman needs a reason.

6. He feels respected and admired by you. There is no love outside of respect. Feeling the admiration and respect of the one you love boosts self-esteem, increases intimacy, and promotes communication and passion.

7. He sees that you do not hold on to grudges, keep score or consistently feel victimized by life. The helps your relationship develop flexibility and adaptability, and keeps the possibility of a rewarding future intact.

Action Plan:

Take a moment to reflect on your feelings about these seven indicators. Are you happy with where you are? If so, outstanding! If you feel you need a little work, then pick one or two and try them out as a pilot project with your honey. After all, it is a budget-friendly, powerful tool that you can use to enhance your marriage!

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

 

A Man’s Guide To Valentine’s Day Shopping

 

Want to build a happy, resilient relationship? If you answer is yes, then continue to read.

We are into February, and we all know that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

So guys, for heaven’s sake, get your shopping done before Feb. 14. If you wait too late, the roses will be wilted, and the selection of cards and chocolates will be pretty much picked over. It seems simple enough, but how many times have we men suffered from procrastinitis (my word), a condition related to waiting until the last minute to shop for your wife or girlfriend. Good news: There is a cure – buy early!

Waiting to purchase her a last-minute gift is not a good thing for your health or maybe even your life! It sends a message that you don’t see her as a high priority. It lets her know that you don’t know who she is and what she likes.

Here are five guy tips that will help you in your Valentine gift selection:

  1. If you buy chocolate, make sure you don’t get it at the grocery store or the pharmacy. Buying high-quality chocolate shows her how special she is. You need to know if she likes milk chocolate, dark chocolate, soft centers, assorted nuts or just plain chocolate. Hint: One of my favorite Chocolatiers in Albuquerque is Theobroma Chocolatier.
  2. I spent part of my young life helping my mom out at her florist shop. It was always interesting to see stressed-out men coming into the shop on the 13th or 14th of February hoping Mom could work a miracle. She usually did.

Don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to pick up flowers at a florist shop or grocery store. A quick way to earn extra points, spend a few extra dollars and have them delivered to her work site or home.

Women have this incredible quality: While the other women at her workplace will ooh and ah over the flowers you sent your spouse, they will walk away with envy, wishing their man had done the same.

  1. When looking for a card, try to avoid the “I know I don’t say it enough…but I do love your card.” I promise she will not be impressed. Instead, you might ask one of the women at the store to help you pick the right card. Make your card purchase based on words she would like to hear. For an additional bonus, write a short hand-written note of love and appreciation.
  2. Help your kids select a card or gift for their mom.
  3. You do have permission to get your wife some cute, flattering pajamas. Just don’t buy anything too revealing, flamboyant or trashy. If you decide to get something on the naughtier side, just make sure she has pre-approved it. Or better yet, ask her to go with you. Remember the gift is for her.

I enjoy feedback, so leave me a coment and let me know your thoughts, or even better if you have a good story feel free to share it.

Get a Free Chapter of my new book, The No Fear Entrepreneur by signing up for my email list by going to www.johnthurman.net

 

Shades of Grey – Shades of Love Part 2

Picture

(C) 2012 John Thurman
Shades of Grey-Shades of Love Part 2

John Thurman

 

“It is a luxury to be understood.”      Ralph Waldo Emerson

Building a relationship and being married is a team sport; you either win together or lose together.

One of the keys to developing intimacy is communication. Two-way communication that is based on respect, honor, and grace is essential for two people sharing a life together.

Drs. David Olson and Peter Larson have invested their careers studying relationships. They have identified 10 Communication Skills that will enhance your intimacy.

1.     Give full attention to your partner when talking.  My wife gets very annoyed when I think I am listening, but am distracted. My suggestion turns off the phone, Ipad™, computer, or television and turn towards your partner.

2.     Focus on the good qualities and be intentional about catching them doing good.  People tend to rise or fall to our expectations, when you are intentional about finding the good in someone they rarely disappoint.

3.     Be assertive, not aggressive or passive. Share your thoughts, feeling, and needs.  One way to do this is to the old therapist standby of using “I” statements versus “you” statements. (e.g. “I worry when you do not let me know you’ll be late” rather than “You are always late.”)

4.     Avoid criticism. It is a relationship killer.  I think William Arthur Ward hit the nail on the head when he said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you.”  You can never share too much encouragement.

5.     If you must criticize, sandwich it with a least two positive comments. (e.g. “I appreciate it when you help out with cooking, the food is great. It would mean a lot to me if you could straighten up a little after you are done. Thanks again for dinner.)

6.     Listen to understand, not to judge.  Two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Listening is all about trying to understand.

7.     Use active listening. Summarize your partner’s comments before sharing your reactions or feelings.

8.     Avoid blaming each other at all costs. Instead, work together for a solution.  There is energy when we accept responsibility and decide to work towards a mutually beneficial solution.

9.     Manage your conflict.  (I will give you ten steps for resolving conflict in a few weeks.)

10.  Seek counseling.  If you are not able to have better results with your communication as a couple. Then take action.  Enroll in marriage/relationship class, read a book together, see your pastor, priest, or get counseling if you need to.

One of the best ways to increase the frequency of physical intimacy is through reliable communication. When men and women feel heard they usually are open to more intimacy.


My next article will be about the five levels of intimacy.

 

How to Have a Happy Wife # 3

Be More Affectionate
 
Before we talk about how to express affection to your wife, I want to review the job description of being a good husband.

  • Love, honor, and respect her
  • Be sexually and emotionally faithful to her.
  • Listen without being judgmental
  • Support and nurture her ambitions outside the home
  • Make good faith efforts to understand how differently she is emotionally
  • Be honest at all times and always do what you say you will do
  • Share child care and domestic work


Be Affectionate
 
To your wife, affection means more than cuddling or holding her hands, and it definitely means more than wham-bam-thank-you maam. She desires a sense of closeness from you because knowing you are close to her is paramount for her being able to stay in a relationship with you. For those of you that might need this simplified; if your wife does not feel connected to you, she will leave you at some level.

No matter where you have been in your marriage, you can show up for work today. You can begin, right now to protect your career as a husband by treating this day as if it were your first day on a new job called marriage.

Action Plan

  • Forget Hollywood stereotypes, and dont try to be a hero in some romance novel. Instead,  apply some of your natural strengths to your job as a married man and see immediate improvement.
  • Focus on the benefits of marriage, not the day to day frustrations.
  • Show your wife the same traits that make you valuable as an employee: focus, discipline, reliability, devotion, loyalty, stability, intelligence, and flexibility.
  • Be determined to get better at this job of being a husband.
  • Learn from your mistakes and dont get your eyes stuck in the rear view mirror of regrets.
  • Commit yourself to the duties and responsibilities of your marital job description and reassess your progress as you go along.


Thank you to Scott Haltzman, M.D., and his excellent ideas from The Secrets of Happily Married Men. This article is adapted from that resource. Another couple of resources I like is For Men Only and For Women Only by Shauti & Jeff Feldhahn

Check out my Stages and Phases of Marriage talk

5 Hot Tips for Your Relationships

Marriage and serious relationships are some of the toughest endeavors that any two humans can engage.  When a couple begins their journey they are fueled with hopes and dreams, but within the first year those hopes can sometime lead to despair and dreams to nightmares..  Here are six hot tips that can keep you moving forward.

Tip One – Watch out for Anger
Anger, hurt, frustration, and disappointment can stifle a relationship. Here are three things couple can do to lower anger, frustration.
1. Don’t let you negative feeling grow with interest.  Express your hurt, fear or frustration as soon as you are aware of it.
2. If you decide to tell your spouse be sure to share in the language style of your partner.If they are brief in their communication (a condenser) in their style, keep it brief.
3. Don’t give ultimatums during your talks.  Even if one is to be given, this is not the time of the time or the place, and it reflects control or power struggle. Rarely does it work.

Tip Two – Four Ways to Get Closer to Your Partner
1. Forgive each other for something that you’ve held on to.
2. Give up one habit that drives your partner bonkers.
3 Be generous and grateful.
4. Have Fun Together.

Tip Three – 7 Things Women and Men can do for each other.
1. See each other as allies, not enemies.
2. Appreciate each other’s power without being threatened with it.
3. Value and nurture each other.
4. Stop seeing each other as stereotypes.
5. Celebrate the differences and enjoy the commonalities.
6. Realize everybody had wounds.
7. Be there for each other.

Tip Four – Hints for a fun Special Days

1. Devote 100% of yourself to each other on those special days.
2. Rent a Honeymoon Suite at a local hotel for things like anniversaries, birthdays and Valentine.
3. Take a day off from work and enjoy each other.
4. Buy some cards or postcards and flood your spouse with them.
5. Bake or buy some heart shaped cookies.
Guys, flowers and chocolate can really help.
Girls, when he comes home from work on those special days greet him wearing something red or black like ribbons in your hair.

Tip Five – FOR GUYS – If your marriage seems a little dull, perhaps it’s you! Maybe you’re stuck in your routine.  Maybe you’re too predictable.  Shock you wife! Be unusually creative and totally unpredictable.

John is a Licensed Professional Counselor, with over thirty-five years of counseling experience. He has also been married to his first wife for 42 years. If you need help getting your relationship back on tract contact him today. John provides traditional counseling in an office setting as well as over the phone, and through SKYPE or FACETIME.

© 2014 John Thurman

Shades of Grey, Shades of Love: 4 Ways to Cultivate Romance

Sex Begins in the Kitchen is a fun and informative book that my friend Dr. Kevin Leman wrote several years ago. His second book on marital intimacy is called Sheet Music. Both of which are still in print. I encourage couples to add these books to their reading list. Kevin has an uncanny ability to communicate in a clear and fun way about crucial things. Years ago he and I shared the microphone on national radio show called Parent Talk. It seemed that whenever he and I were on the show the topic of sexuality came up.

I mention that because physical intimacy consistently stays in the “Top 5,” concerns of marital conflict.

As you and I continue to move through Shades of Love, I want to give you some tips that will improve physical intimacy. “Quantity” is the most frequent complaint that counselors hear. Unfortunately, couples often define their physical relationship in terms of “the count.” How often do we have it? How many times did one or the other reach orgasm? How much foreplay was there? How long did it last?”

It’s sad that we haven taken the beauty of lovemaking and reduced it to numbers. Some couples make it worse by attempting to negotiate the numbers, comparing their numbers with the “average couple,” whatever that is, or agreeing to trade physical intimacy for help with cleaning the dishes.

Here are some proven tips to improve your intimacy:

1.    Add some variety to your lovemaking. Some of us are too restrictive. Change the locations, times of day, or the lighting. Try some candles, new perfumes, or aftershaves. Put on some different music.

2.    Vary your routine. I did a Google™ search on, “how many ways you can cook a potato”, and the search came up with thirteen different ways. Amazing! If you can cook a potato that many different ways, you can be equally creative in finding ways  to share physical intimacy with your partner. A nice full body massage is nice. And don’t forget the shower.

3.    Communicate more openly. Don’t let intimacy become a guessing game. Two physically different individuals with unique personalities, life histories, backgrounds, preferences, and hangs ups must learn to talk openly about intimacy. Be careful about making assumptions. It is fine to have these conversations because communication will directly impact physical intimacy.

4.    Increase the desire for physical intimacy. One of the easiest ways to enhance your passion towards your partner is to let your mind wander over pleasurable thoughts about them throughout the day.

Three tips for guys:

•Sex must become something you give to your wife and not something you take.

•You will improve your physical intimacy dramatically if you learn to give first to   your wife emotionally.

•Increase your nonsexual touching. This means hugs, holding hands.

Have fun and be safe as you discover new ways to Cultivate Romance.

Want to read a great article about Marriage from a GenXer? follow this link to Relevant Magazine

You can also listen to a 29 min and 55 sec talk I did on Marriage here is the link 
I would love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas about cultivating the romance. Feel free to post your comments.