After the “I Do’s” 2 of 3

By John Thurman, M.Div., M.A., LPCC

Last week we looked at some of the ways Mr. Wonderful had lost his luster. This week it is the ladies’ turn. By the way, be sure to let yourself laugh a little as we review the before and after scenarios.

Before:
It is the first time you have served him a meal at your place. The table is laid out nicely. The food is in nice dishes waiting to be served, and you actually serve it to him with a smile, when he arrives.

After:
Now, he comes home from work and you say, “There are some leftovers in the refrigerator you can heat them up in the microwave, the remote in on the coffee table.”

Before:
You invite him over to your house or apartment and say come in and make yourself comfortable

After:
Now, with a straight face, and a rather condemning look you say, “Hey, put the lid down when you finish, you are not the only one living here.”

Before:
You hear him pulling into the garage, and you think to yourself-“My sweet-hearted man is home.”

After:
Now, you hear him pulling into the garage, and you sigh to yourself – “Oh my Lord, he is home!”

Before:
You see your boyfriend after a long day of work and being a loving, caring person that you are; you massage his shoulders and ask about his day.

After:
As soon as he sits down, you tell him all the things that need to be done in the house and remind him of the list of things that he has not done. He cringes and wonders why he did not hang out with the guys from the office, before coming home.

Before:
You took pride in how you looked and made sure you always had your hair and makeup done nicely. Your girlfriends used to brag on how “put together you were.”

After:
Your wardrobe now consist of jeans, T-shirts, flip flops, and your hair is held up with the morning newspapers rubber band. You get very upset when he does not pay you compliments or if he innocently looks at another woman who is just walking past, but happens to look gorgeous.

Now don’t get upset. We all fall into different types of ruts once we are married.

Next week I will give you six things you can do to boost your communication.

 

After the “I Do’s” – Part 1 of 3

 Marriage is more than a ceremony. Here are some tips to help you along the way to a long-term marriage.

By John Thurman, M.Div., M.A., LPCC

I want you to think back to the first time you met Mr. or Miss Wonderful.Like most people, you probably felt a rush of excitement when you thought about being with this special person. Those loving looks, he opening the door for you, she telling you how handsome you are.  Well, here is a fun look back at what it was like before you said, “I do” and what has happened after you did.

Guys first. (Disclaimer, I am a guy and hopefully I will not be giving away trade secrets.)

Before:
In the workplace you say to your supervisor, “Man, I cannot wait to get to the house tonight and spend some quality time with my bride.”

After:
Now he says, “Hey boss do you have any overtime or extra projects for me to do?’

Before:
You never read the menus from the left to right because price did not matter, after all you were in love.

After:
You gently remind her to read the menu from right to left, because you  are trying to save money, and you forgot your Entertainment™ book. 

Before:
Remember, when you were dating? When you spoke on the phone with each other neither one wanted to be the first to hang up. This playful banter would go back and forth until you both hung up.

After:
Now, you drop a call while she is mid-sentence and explain to her later that your phone must have dropped the call.

Before:
If  she cooked dinner that  was either a little over done or a little under done, you smiled and said something like, “Rachel Rey would  be proud.”

After:
Now, if she cooks and the food is a little over done or a little under done, you look at it and say something like, “I’ll just have a peanut butter sandwich.”

Next week we will look at “After the “I Do’s” from the women’s perspective.

In the third part of this series, I will give you some proven tips to power up your communication.

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

How to Have a Happy Wife Part 2

This is a photo of our friends Michele and Dotie, a couple that we have known for several years, a couple that loves each other and their kids with a deep and  profound love.

In that time we have watched their kids grow into young, emerging adults and have watched Dodie support Michele as she had build her Premier Designs Jewelry business.

Dodie is a great example of a happy man married to a happy wife, but he would be the first to tell you that it is work.

Here are five more ways to have a Happy Wife.

To Support and Nurture Her Ambitions in and Outside the Home.

Roles are changing, and that is not a bad thing. More men than women work outside the home, but due, in part to the economy, more and more women are either entering or re-entering the workplace or are starting home-based businesses. As your children grow and, opportunities open up for your wife to pursue her pen dreams, will you be there to support her.

To Make an Effort to Understand How She is Different Emotionally.

Guys, our job is not to change her to be more like a man, but to acknowledge and respect your differences.

To Be Honest at All Times, and Always Do What Your Say You Will Do.

            To be clear. When I talk about being honest here, I mean there is not room for lies about infidelity, addiction problems, or other important matters that reflect on who you are (such as belief systems or underlying medical problems). You need to hold yourself accountable for what’s important-the core issues, the crucial stuff, your promises.

To Share in Child Care and Domestic Work.

 If you want to mess this up just come home from the office and tell her, you have already worked enough. Instead, come home, catch your breath and help out a little, without any drama. Trust me, this will get you some points.

To Be Attentive, Fun-Loving, and Adoring as You Were During Courtship, or Close to It.

I know you can have rough days, I spend my days with people who are in various states of crisis. I know it can be tough to be upbeat someday, but do what you can. Studies of optimistic people show that they are less affected by bad events and bring about brighter responses in other people.

Lighten Up Your Relationships – Laugh

Benefits of Laughter in Your Relationship
John Thurman, M.Div., M.A., LPCC

Tuesday and Thursdays I will be blogging on things that you can do to improve your relationships. I think you will enjoy this one.

Several years ago my wife and I had come to an impasse in our relationship. I was detached and living in my career; something men often do and my wife was into other things. I wish I could tell you that I suggested some counseling, but no, I was too proud and bone-headed to do that. It was my wife who  strongly encouraged me to make a call. Our counselor was a wise man who helped us learn to re-negotiate our marriage and reconnect. As we wrapped up therapy, he made a comment that surprised and encouraged us. He said, “Angie and John, like many couples that come to see me, you guys were way off track, but even in some of the tougher sessions you both maintained a healthy sense of humor. That let me know that you two are going to make it.”

Those encouraging words were a gift to us nearly 15 years ago and have sustained us through the ebbs and flows of our marriage.

Humor, laughter, and joy have a powerful effect on health and well-being. It alleviates tension and stress, boosts the mood, raises creativity and provides a great, drug-free energy boost. Humor brings people together and helps them manage life better. An occasional shared belly laugh is an essential part of a strong, healthy relationship.

Laughter and joy and playful communication are some of the most effective, free tools that can keep your relationship vital, fresh, and stimulating. Humor and laughter can keep your relationship interesting, light, and producing joy. The by-products are increased intimacy, a sense of well-being as both individuals and as a couple. It is also one of the keys to a lasting relationship.

Here are six things that laughter and humor can do to enhance your relationship.

1.     Links you to others. We are hardwired for relationships. Your happiness and health, to a large degree, depend on the quality of your relationships. And the laughter helps strengthen the relationship’s connect on several levels.

2.     Helps smooth over differences. Using soft humor often helps you deal with sensitive subjects, work through disagreements, and gain a fresh perspective on problems.

3.     Develops resilience. A sense of humor is one of the keys to resilience. The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress–such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

4.     Increases energy and relaxes at the same time. Joy, humor, and laughter relieve fatigue and relax your body while recharging your batteries and helps you get more done.

5.     Renews perspective. Most relationships, life or job situations are not as bad when viewed through the window of joy and laughter.

6.     Increases creativity.  Playfulness and humor release certain brain chemicals that loosen you up energize your thinking, and inspire creative problem-solving.

Have fun lightening up your relationship this week. Want to learn ways to increase the happiness in your marriage – Listen to my talk The Stages of a Marriage. 

Send your questions or comments to John

© 2014 John H. Thurman Jr.

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.

Shades of Grey, Shades of Love: 10 Skills to Build Up Your Marriage

Shades of Grey or 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 building 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 turn 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 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 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 own reactions of 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.


Next week I will be writing about the five levels of intimacy.

To spice up your love life check out my talk on the 5 Phases of Marriage

Shades of Love or Shades of Grey?

By John Thurman

There is a ton of buzz in the media today about Shades of Grey as the movie buzz builds with the release of the movie trailer. The book series took the world by storm, and I am sure the movie will do the same.

But wait a minute.

One of the foundational principles of building and repairing a relationship is to understand the foundations of intimacy. It is not about technique, positions, or power, but about getting to know someone deeply.

Dwight Bain, a long time friend, therapist, and life coach shared some great thoughts in a recent presentation which I would like to pass along. It sets a good starting point for the next few weeks. Dwight was addressing married couples, but the points he makes are key to developing any romantic relationship.

There are so many failed marriage stories in the headlines it can make you wonder, “Is an intimate relationship even possible anymore?” and if so, “How do you get one?” It seems that some couples quickly move from being fired up with romantic passion to wanting to just fire each other like a bully boss does to an exhausted employee.

It’s no wonder people are more cautious about opening up their hearts to another person, because they have likely witnessed the process of intense romantic chemistry quickly eroding into hateful rejection and ugly conflicts. Everybody talks about wanting a meaningful relationship where they are loved and accepted, yet few are willing to take the chance of being vulnerable or hurt again.

Marital intimacy is about seeing into the heart and mind of your mate and learning to connect with them in multiple ways such as feeling close, accepted and loved on the inside, no matter what kind of pressure might be happening on the outside. Listen to the word intimacy slowly spoken… ‘Into-see-me’. Since true intimacy is about complete openness, and coming closer together to connect in the most intense ways.

To experience this kind of intense relationship, you need to understand both sides of an intimate connection to grow to a new level of purpose and passion together. These different levels of connection reflect the differences between a cultural view of relationship where romance is the primary goal; and a long-term view of marriage where learning to connect together through the realities of daily life is joined alongside romance to build intensity, regardless of the circumstances. You need both sides to make your relationship go the distance from short-term infatuation to build long-term success in your marriage.

My friend, Dr. Kevin Leman has a great resource that can help you heat it up at your house.

Next week I will introduce the five levels of intimacy.


John Thurman is a Counselor, Speaker, and Author of Get a Grip on Depression, order your personally autographed copy today.
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