Posted by: mamaamy | March 13, 2008

Ten Things I Love About You

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My husband and I have an awesome relationship! We have been married more than 20 years, and we dated 4 years before that. We enjoy 8 children with ages ranging from 1 to14. With more than half of all marriages ending in divorce, how does a strong marriage happen? Are some women just lucky? Or did they happen to find their soul-mate? As an “older woman” I would like to share some of what it takes to have a great marriage. If you are willing to do these things in your 20’s and 30’s you will continue to enjoy a terrific relationship when you are in your 40’s, 50’s and older.

As I share some practical ways to help you have a husband that says the following things to you, it is important to note that above all else is a heart of unselfishness. The world will continually tell you that you need time for yourself, you need to have outside interests, but I believe that the tighter you hold on to self-centered interests, the less satisfied you become and the more you search outside your home for validation. Selfishness breeds selfishness. And yet, these selfish interests cannot sustain you in the difficult times, or comfort you during crisis, or uplift you when you are insecure, or bring you such joy as you grow older. However, a loving, committed, satisfied husband can do all of these and much more. I know from experience. Because my husband says these things to me, I have considered what makes him say them and purposed in my heart to give him every reason to continue.

“You encourage me to do something fun.”

1. Help your man find an interest outside his job and then wholeheartedly support it.

Sometimes a man needs to go on a “hunt”—get out and be the man—do things that make him feel strong, or useful, or risky. My husband races bikes. I have not always supported it because I thought it took away from our relationship and family. Now I see that it actually contributes to our life. It gives him an opportunity to use his skills and muscles outside of work. It gives him an opportunity to meet people besides fellow workers. In his own mind he sees himself as something other than a laborer. This improves his outlook on life; it inspires him. This may make more work for you and you will need to take up the slack, but it is truly worth it. He becomes a more interesting person, it gives you things to talk about, and it may help you find new friends or bring people into your path that you are to minister to. Whether it is a sport or a hobby, help him be fulfilled in an area of interest.

“You help me to be a better communicator.”

2. Eliminate media during meals and at least an hour before bed.

My husband and I decided to actually get rid of our TV in the early 90’s after watching a show called Thirty-Something. We realized that we started treating each other and relating to each other like the people did in the show. It wasn’t good. Once we got rid of the distraction of television, we found other forms of entertainment: more specifically we started conversing with each other and with friends. We had people over almost every evening. We started reading books that interested us: he studied media and technology and its effects on society and culture; I studied nutrition, natural child rearing, and home-schooling. We began to have discussions relating to these topics, comparing thoughts that came up during our reading, and formulating ideas. These deep discussions led to the development of some of the foundational principles on which we run our home. If your husband won’t go for the idea of getting rid of TV, then try making an appeal to turn it off for a week and then make it worth it for him to give it up. We both agree that getting rid of or limiting the TV is the first thing that we would recommend to struggling couples. It’s especially important to keep all media off during meals. This time is a critical time for discussion. Before you have children this is a good place to make appeals, discuss financial issues, and ask advice on home management. Once you have children this is the best time for kids to spend quality time with Dad. He can sit at the head of the table and have their complete attention for a good hour or so. Answering phone calls during meals or after 8:00 pm should be eliminated or kept to the bare minimum. The point is to eliminate all outside disturbances to the peaceful, restful evening together. This is your home, your family, and your evening: Decide how you want it to be.

“You make time for me.”

3. Put the children to bed.

The only way to keep a relationship strong is to communicate. The only time a husband and wife typically have together is the evening. Time has to be made for growing together in ideas. You must make the time and the setting every evening for communicating. One way to make this happen is to put the kids to bed early. Early means 8:00-8:30.* With the kids in bed, you now have the desired setting that fosters discussion. If the evening consists of dealing with finances, unruly children or a whining wife, the husband will want to zone out in front of the TV. You try to discuss issues when you lie down in bed and it’s too late. Let me share what a common evening is like in our home: My husband comes home to a to a cleaned up house and a nice dinner with everyone in the family sitting around the table and talking by turn about their day, discussing any issues that have come up, teaching lessons or experiences that he has faced, or laughing about the funny happenings over the course of the day. The children quickly clean up the table and dishes while he and I talk about family business. All the children are invited to join us for story time (and they all want to.) My husband holds the baby on his lap and trains her to sit quietly for the entire time that we read. Everyone understands that story time is the time to sit still and anyone who chooses to disturb the evening goes directly to bed. We read books with chapters like the “Little House Series” or books where people have had to survive some difficulty. After reading a chapter or two, we take some time to discuss any life applications and analyze situations, decisions, and motives as this is a key to developing critical thinking skills. It also gives us an opportunity to reiterate our standards. The children are then asked to go to bed. It is 8:00 or soon after and the house is quiet and ready for us to spend our quality time together. My husband has only seen the children for an hour or two but that is fine, because it was all positive attention with no outside interruptions. This has taken some real work on our part to make this happen, but once this kind of routine is established with one or two children it becomes the culture of the home and the subsequent children follow suit. I would also mention here that weekly we have dinner guests and it is so nice to have a lively conversation over dinner that includes everyone, and then after the children are quiet in their rooms, to have a calm environment with just the adults in order to talk, counsel, or whatever.

*In our home, the little children must lie down and stay in bed once they are sent to bed and they must remain quiet enough that they do not disturb our evening. The older children my read or draw, or whatever they choose until 9:00 or so as long as they are respectful of our quiet evening.

“You keep me interested.”

4. Have something to say or do.

It is important to have thought in advance about what the quality time with your husband will look like. Sometimes we decide together what we will do. Sometimes we decide to read separate books, knowing that we can interrupt for discussion at any time. Sometimes we read the same book aloud. Sometimes we talk, troubleshoot about family issues, make plans for home improvements, discuss future vacations, or make needs known. Sometimes we go directly to bed, but not to sleep! The important thing is to have thought in advance of the evening so that there is no temptation to opt to find entertainment somewhere else–not that YOU have to put on a show or be constantly entertaining him but that you have some options in mind for how to spend your quality time. If you do decide to have an evening of discussion, do not go into the detailed drama of the day. He is not interested. If you spend your time with him jabbering on and on about your day or complaining about all that you had to do or how crazy the children were he will learn to tune you out. Once he does this, how will he know to listen for the important stuff or discern your real needs? Instead, sit down together in the same room, sit close or at least look at each other and start asking some interesting questions, bring up a topic that you know he is interested in, or follow through with whatever you have chosen to do that evening.

“You help me be stress-free.”

5. Leave off the stressful topics for the evening.

If you have to talk about finances or some other stress in your lives, try to keep that for earlier in the evening or morning conversation. Unless you decide together to talk about something of heavy weight or pray about some big issue in the household, try, as a rule of thumb, to keep your evening light and pleasant. My husband hates for me to lie down to bed and then tell him about our money situation. He then starts thinking about it and stays awake unnecessarily because there is absolutely nothing he can do about it from bed! Save it for the morning or make an “appointment” to talk to him about that or any other stressful topic at a designated time and then stick to it. Then you can relax about it, knowing that it is going to get worked out, and he won’t have to think about it until he can put his mind to solving the problem.

“You come to bed with me.”

6. Go to bed when your husband does.

This may be the toughest one yet! Many women are night owls and their husbands are ready for bed at 9:00. I haven’t met many couples who have the opposite problem. The issue is that a homemaker and mother has a 24/7 job. If she could she would only sleep a few hours so that she could accomplish all that needs to be done! Believe me, I have eight children—I know that I could get a ton of work done once the house was quiet and there were no more demands or interruptions! At some point, though, the work does have to end and since there will always be plenty to do then you have to decide when it’s going to end for that day. Why not end it when you and your husband go to bed together. One thing that is sure, it is very difficult to satisfy your husband’s needs if you do not lie down with him. It’s just the facts. His needs, especially as he gets older, are not just sex. He wants to lay next to a warm, soft, feminine body—a comforting, loving woman. It makes every difficulty—every stress—every frustration less important. He wants to lie down and feel the comfort that he cannot find in his work or play world. He may see other women or be around them quite a bit during his day, but if he can count on a peaceful evening with a willing wife that he loves and he’s sure is available to snuggle with at the end of the day—temptation is laughed at. It gives an opportunity to get even more intimate in your conversation. It shows where your priorities are. It may even be the healthiest thing to do. I have recently read that every hour of sleep that you get before midnight is like four hours after midnight. It is good for your body and it’s really good for your relationship.

“You wear nice things to bed.”

7. Get some decent looking night wear.

When my husband and I first married, we didn’t wear anything to bed. Since babies began to join us and we established the family bed, we have been wearing jammies. I used to not really care what I threw on to flop into bed, but at some point my husband asked if I had any nice jammies. I said I didn’t and added that to my Christmas wish list. I got several pairs and I can’t tell you how good it feels to go to bed in something nice. I know he likes it, too. He doesn’t need some skimpy lace and net outfit from Fredericks of Hollywood, just some soft, satiny jammies that compliment my figure, look good and are a little accessible. I now stay away from sweats and one of his motocross t-shirts, or full coverage flannels. He wants me to look like a woman. If you can’t be skin to skin, at least get a nice alternative. Also, don’t still be wearing them when he gets home from work. Get dressed every day and then save the jammies for bedtime. This will help your outlook for the day and his outlook on you.

“You are my dream girl.”

8. Be a willing lover.

This is the one you have been waiting for. You know when your husband wants sex. Yes, when you’re younger it is usually more frequently than you do. What are you going to do about it? Hope that he changes? God made him that way. So consider giving your self freely to him whenever he wants you. Also consider what a wonderful thing is to be desired and become grateful that you are desired by the man you love. For the first 20 years of our marriage I did this. It now pays dividends. It is interesting that when I turned 40, things changed in me. He turned 41 and he was like a different man. All of a sudden I had new desires like I never had before and his almost shut off. He realized, by the contrast that many times in those early years I was available to him, not because my desires dictated it, but because my will did. He now has devoted himself to my pleasure since his personal drives are not as intense. The other night he actually said, “I owe you.” The prior season of willingness made a way for this new season.

There is this wonderful hormone God has given us called oxytocin. It is nick-named the love hormone because it is activated in your brain during intimate contact and stimulates your brain to connect with the person you are with. Skin to skin contact, nursing your baby, and having sex all cause the release of this hormone. “In the brain, it acts as a neurotransmitter and is involved in bonding and the formation of trust between people.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin) I know that as I received my husband, our bodies and brains truly connected, and through this hormone we bonded—became almost addicted to each other. In light of this, my advice is to prepare your mind in advance that when you lie down with your husband, he will likely want to spend some intimate time with you. Think of how to make yourself attractive and welcoming. The oxytocin will kick in on those occasions when you don’t feel up for it and you can know that you are growing closer to your husband and making brain connections that will be essential when difficult times arise.

“You go out with me.”

9. Go out on dates with your husband.

As a busy wife, nursing mother, teacher, nutritionist, home-manager, and trainer working on-call day and night, I can tell you that a date out with my husband does wonders for my outlook. We have made going out on a date a weekly (if at all possible) event for us. If you want to date your husband, then help make it easier for him and I’ll bet he would be happy to take you out. It takes some planning: training your children and having them so filled up with love and attention that to leave them for a few hours is a pleasant experience, finding a close friend or family member that is willing to watch your children, and planning your finances and budgeting to pay for the outing and caregiver. Any extra time it takes to work it out is well worth it. It is great for both of you. It rejuvenates you both: this keeps you up for the demands of your jobs and it gives you both something to look forward to. You can dress up more than normal, maybe add a touch of make-up and look good for your man. This is a great reminder for your husband of who he fell in love with. It also gives him an opportunity to “wine and dine” you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just consistent. It’s really fun!

“You believe in me.”

10. Be the one he can trust to help him in life.

Every woman desires a close friend that she can talk to, share with, and care for. To have a good friend you must be one. If you want your husband to be your best friend—and yes it is possible, then you must be someone he can count on. You need to be trustworthy, kind and thoughtful. He needs you to trust in him, believe that he is a good person, a hard worker, and a fun person to be with. If you think the best of him, he will probably rise to your expectations. It is common for wives to think that their husbands have it easier—that going to work would be a vacation compared to dealing with kids all day. It is a valuable exercise to consider that when your husband is away that he is working hard, solving problems and having to deal with all kinds of people that are frustrating him. Think of the worst day he could possibly have and then adjust your greeting and your evening with him accordingly. You can’t go wrong and it will lead to a very pleasant relationship. If you believe the Bible at all, then you must accept it as a whole. So when it says that the wife is created to be the helpmeet of her husband then it is truth. You are created to be his helpmeet. He isn’t created to be yours. (For more understanding on this topic see http://www.nogreaterjoy.org ) This is an important truth that will change your perspective and your expectations that you have for your husband. If you can operate your home knowing that your husband does not exist to help you out, then you will accomplish much more and not begrudge him for not doing more to assist. God made you a capable woman and has given you all that you need to accomplish the work that He has given you. Do your job with cheerfulness and determination and leave your husband freed up to do the work that God has intended for him. Believe that God has a purpose for him and trust the He is accomplishing the good work that He began in your husband.

In conclusion let me say just a few more things. The Lord is my first love and absolute authority. But, I view that my husband is my lord and the physical person that I walk out my devotion and love to the Lord with. Honor and worship to the Lord are given by my honor and devotion to my husband. So whether my husband is acting good, or following Him, or being a good man is beside the point. He is in the position of honor and authority, the Lord will deal with the details of his perfection as a man, husband, father. That is not my job. My husband more readily hears my appeals, listens to my suggestions, and loves my children when he is wholly satisfied by me physically and emotionally. Its not manipulation, it’s the fruit of unselfishness.

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Responses

  1. Thanks Amy, this was excellent. Very personal, thanks for sharing.


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