Making Marriage Work Tip #4a

Sorry I skipped a day! Lovebug and I ended up spending the entire day yesterday at a friend’s house swimming, grilling dinner, watching the kids play, and having great conversation.  We stayed so late we had to turn on the pool light to see anything! Good times!  So, I didn’t get to post this until now. 

Tip #4a – His Needs vs. Her Needs (yes, another 2 part tip!)

We all know that men and women speak different languages, and it can be hard to understand each other at times.  To make it even more complicated, we don’t even both need the same things!  Men and women are wired differently.  God created us differently to serve different purposes.  Instead of letting that drive us crazy, we have to figure out how to embrace our differences and appreciate them. 

A few years back, a mentor friend of Hubby’s gave him 2 pieces of paper.  On one of them was a list of the “7 Basic Needs of a Woman”, and on the other were the “5 Basic Needs of a Man”.  

Notice anything?

Anyone surprised that women have more needs than men do?  This is no surprise in my marriage either.  I’m much more emotionally needy than Hubby is.  He’s actually quite logical and straight to the point about most things.  That’s one of the reasons I love him so – he provides the balance that I need.

Today, I’m going to list out the “5 Basic Needs of a Man”, and tomorrow, I’ll list the one for the women.

 

A wife makes herself irresistible to her husband by learning to meet his five basic needs:

   1. His need for admiration and respect.  She understands and appreciates his value and achievements more than anything else. She reminds him of his capabilities and helps him maintain his walk with God and also his self-confidence. She is proud of her husband, not out of duty, but as an expression of sincere admiration for the man she loves and with whom she has chosen to share her life. (Ephesians  22:23,33)

This means ladies, that you need to TELL your husband that you are proud of him.  Even better if you do it in public in front of his friends and co-workers.  He wants to know that you think he’s “all that”.

  

2.  His need for sexual fulfillment.  She becomes an excellent sexual partner to him.  She studies her own response to recognize and understand what brings out the best in her, then she communicates this information to her husband, and together they learn to have a sexual relationship that both find repeatedly satisfying and enjoyable. (Proverbs 5:15-29, Song of Solomon 4:9-5:1, I Cor 7:1-5, Hebrews 13:4)

I know many of you are surprised that this is #2 and not #1, but it makes sense.  Most guys (at least ones past puberty) care about knowing they are admired & respected by their wife even more than they care about sex.   However, the sex IS important!  It’s not just sex though.  Did you see the word “communicate” in there?  That goes back to Tip #2.  We have to communicate with our spouse about our preferences.  Trust me when I tell you that your husband WANTS it to be enjoyable for you, not just for him.  (If he doesn’t – seek a counselor ASAP.  Seriously.  Sex should not be a power trip.)  He wants to know that he’s pleasing you.  That’s a huge part of the turn-on for him.  So, speak up and tell him what you like so you can both have fun!

On a side note – if you want an incredible, awesome, life changing seminar on marital sex, I highly recommend the LoveLife conference by Mark Driscoll.  Hubby and I attended this at our home church back in Texas a couple years ago and it was unforgettable.  You can attend a conference in person if he comes to your town (there is one in GA in Oct 2011), or you can buy the entire series on DVD.  If those don’t work for your schedule or budget, then you can also buy a digital copy for $15.99 per session (9 sessions), or RENT each session for $4.99 and have access to it for 30 days.  This company that I am linking to is dear to my heart.  Hubby worked for them for a while doing some computer work, and the people behind the scenes have a great love for Jesus and for getting these teachings out there accessible for everyone.  I hope you’ll check them out.

 

3.  His need for home support.  She creates a home that offers him an atmosphere of peace and quiet and refuge.  She manages the home and care of the children.  The home is a place of rest and rejuvenation. Remember: the wife/mother is the emotional hub of the family (Proverbs 9:13, 19:13, 21:9, 19, 25:24)

Think back to Tip #2b, and the “Top 3” that I talked about.  Husbands want to know that the home is a safe, loving place to come home to.  I’ve heard men say “I wish I had stayed at the office so I didn’t have to come home”.  That is not where you want your marriage to be.  Do your “Top 3” so that your husband can feel welcomed when he walks in the door.  Get up and greet your husband at the door when he comes home. Hand him a glass of cold water if it’s hot out, or offer to make him some hot cocoa in the winter. 

Ladies – If you also work outside of the home, then give yourself some grace and get some help.  Consider paying a maid service to take care of the big things so that you and your husband can focus less on the dusting and more on each other. 

 

   4.  His need for her attractiveness.  She is possessed of inner and outer beauty. She cultivates a Christ-like spirit in her inner self. She keeps herself physically fit with diet and exercise, and she wears her hair, makeup, and clothes in a way that her husband finds attractive and tasteful.  Her husband is pleased and proud of her in public, and also in private. (Song of Solomon 1:8-10, 2:2, 6:13, 7:9, I Peter 3:1-5)

Before you get too excited, let’s note a couple things that this does NOT say.  This does NOT say that you have to be super skinny in a size 0 for your husband to find you attractive.  He wants you to be fit, to eat right, to be active and to care about those things. He wants you to have enough energy to do an activity with him, to feel good enough about yourself that you enjoy sex, and to feel have confidence in yourself.  He does not expect you to be perfect!  It also does NOT say that you have to be dressed up with makeup on and your hair curled every minute of the day.  It says to wear your hair, makeup and clothes in a way that HE finds attractive.  I know several husbands, my own included, that love the look of shorts, a sweatshirt and a ponytail with no makeup!  If that’s the case, then be thankful he appreciates you that way and enjoy it!  It’s always nice to dress up on occasion and go out, but it doesn’t mean you have to have makeup on 24 hours a day.  Taking 5 minutes to run a brush through your hair, and to squirt a bit of body spray on before he walks in the door doesn’t hurt though.

  

5.  His need for a life companion.  She develops mutual interests with her husband. She discovers those activities her husband enjoys the most and seeks to become proficient in them.  If she learns to enjoy them, she joins him in them.  If she does not enjoy them, she encourages him to consider others that they can enjoy together. She becomes her husband’s best friend so that he repeatedly associates her with the activities he enjoys most.    Song of Solomon 8:1-2,6)

She becomes his best friend” – This is so important!  Your husband wants to do things with you! He wants you to watch a hockey game with him, go see a movie with him, or take interest in how football is played so you can talk about the game.  Marriage is a 2-way street, so you have to give and take.  If he loves football, then watch the game with him and really learn about it. Ask him questions so that he can teach you how to enjoy it.  Just don’t ask questions DURING the game!  If he loves golf, then take some lessons so that you can go play together once a week.  Whatever it is, take an interest in it.  You might not be truly interested in it at first, but you ARE interested in spending time with your husband, so give it a shot and you might find out you like it too.  If not, try another one until you find one you can do together.  It’s so important for your bonding, intimacy and communication that you spend time together doing something you both enjoy.  Then if golf isn’t your thing, and he isn’t interested in your scrapbooking you can get a sitter and each spend a Saturday doing your own thing.  Then come back together for a late night date of take-out and a movie when the kids are in bed.  Take turns picking the movies! Even if you don’t like the movie, enjoy the cuddling!

Making Marriage Work Tip #3

Tip #3 – Learn your spouse’s Love Language

If you haven’t read the book, The 5 Love Languages, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Buy a copy, get it from the library, or you can even take a quick, fun quiz online to determine your language.

We all have a primary love language.  What that means is that we all have a certain way that we like to be shown love.   The 5 languages discussed in the book are:

 

1. Quality Time – do you feel loved when your spouse just spends time with you?

2. Acts of Service – do you feel loved when your spouse does favors, errands, chores for you?

3. Physical Touch – do you feel loved when your spouse touches you?

4. Words of Affirmation – do you feel loved when your spouse tells you that you are beautiful, or that he appreciates you?

5. Gifts – do you feel loved with your spouse gives you presents?

 

Chances are, you and your spouse have different primary love languages – I know Hubby and I do.  Our primary language can even change depending on your season of life.   So how does this language affect your marriage?    Well, most people love others the way they want to be loved.  That sounds good, but it can cause some needs in our marriage to go unmet if I only love my spouse through MY love language, but not his own.

For example…

My primary love language is Quality Time.  Hubby’s is a tie between Physical Touch & Words of Affirmation.   Say we’ve been spending a lot of time together watching movies, running errands, playing games with our daughter and other activities.  My primary needs are being met.  I am one happy wife because I’m getting all this time with my husband.  But if I’m not also physically touching him – hugging him, kissing him (and more of course!), and I’m not speaking words of affirmation to him, then his needs are being neglected.

Let’s look at another one…

Let’s say Hubby’s primary language is Gifts, and mine is Physical Touch.  Hubby is working late every day working on a big project.  He’s coming home after I’m in bed, and leaving before I get up.  I never see him, but everyday he leaves me a little present on the table.  A candy bar, some flowers, a candle.  If his language is gifts then he thinks he’s showing me love, but if I don’t care about gifts and what I really want is physical attention then I’m just building up resentment day after day after day. 

What we have to do is learn how to balance our love languages.  We can only do this if we identify what they are.  Learn your language and your spouses and then work together to love each other the way they want to be loved. 

If my language is Acts of Service, and Hubby’s is Physical Touch, then we can work together and he knows that if he helps me do the dishes after dinner and helps brush our daughter’s teeth before bed, then I will be much more in the mood for physical touch later and will want to show him love in that way.

If Hubby’s language is Quality Time, and mine is Acts of Service, then maybe he helps me clean the house and then I sit down with him to watch a movie or a game.

See how this works? It’s amazing! It really helps you see your spouse in a different way. 

Once you get this figured out with your spouse, take a look at some of the other people in your life – your best friend, your parents, your in-laws, and even your kids if they are old enough.  See if you can identify their love language, or ask them.  Doing this has helped me in some of those relationships a great deal too.

Sometimes we do have to make adjustments of course.  Right now, Hubby is deployed so neither one of our primary love languages are being fulfilled.  Mine is Quality Time, and his is Physical Touch.  However, we both have Word of Affirmation in the top 3, and that is something we can do long distance.  We can encourage each other, praise each other, tell each other they look hot, etc.   So, if you are in a challenging season of your life, then take another look at your lists and see how you can make adjustments.  If you are a husband working a lot of overtime, or deployed, then maybe you send each other gifts and flowers (Gifts), or maybe you budget a maid service a couple times a month for your spouse (Acts of Service) since you can’t be there to help out. 

Be flexible.  Be willing to show love the way your spouse needs to receive it, and be able to receive it the way they need to show it.

Making Marriage Work Tip #2b

Ok, this is really a continuation of Marriage Tip #2 which was “Communication”.   I promised I would share with you my communication secret that changed our marriage, so here I am!  Yesterday,  I talked a little bit about unmet expectations and how they can be a downfall.  In my opinion, they are the root of most marital problems, and they can cause so much unnecessary stress in a relationship.  Your spouse can’t read your mind, no matter how great they are.  You have to talk to them and tell them what you want them to know.   Don’t assume they know, no matter how obvious it seems.

So, ready for our secret? 

It’s amazing.  It’s actually far from a secret.  Seriously.  I try to tell everyone about this.  In fact, if you’ve known me very long, you’ve already heard me talk about it.  I wrote about it last year, so it might look familiar to some, but I’m going to repost it here because I figure once a year it should make it’s way to the front!

Here it is, “How to revolutionize your marriage and your life!”

A few years ago when I was a first time mom with a budding toddler, I remember feeling overwhelmed as I tried to manage the house and our daughter at the same time.  It felt like I was constantly picking up after her in one area, only to have another area get messed up.  She was still too young to pick up her own toys and just felt like a vicious cycle of frustration.

During this time, one of my dearest friends talked to me about the “Top 3”.  It completely changed my life and my marriage for the better!!  Seriously.  It’s like the best kept secret in town.  I continue to use it to this day.

Want to get in on this awesomeness?  Just follow these steps.

1. Set aside a few minutes for a meeting with your spouse.

2. Ask him to tell you the top 3 things he wants/needs/expects when he comes home from work each day.  If he doesn’t work outside the home, then ask for the top 3 things he wants done every day.  These things are family/household related….not bedroom related…we already know about those. ;)

3. LISTEN! Just listen.

4. Make a deal with him.  You will do your absolute best to make sure those 3 things are done each and every day.  He agrees not to complain about the things that are *not* done.

(If you both work outside the home, then I encourage each of you to do this.  You both have needs and expectations about what is going to happen when each of you get home.  Prioritize the top 3 on each side.)

How this helped us…

Before we made this deal, I was spending so much time picking up toys and straightening up the living room before Hubby would come home.  I wanted him to walk in without seeing toys spread out all over the floor, because I thought he would want that.

Turns out, he didn’t care about the toys.  He said that if he saw toys on the floor that meant I had been playing with our daughter and entertaining her.

Before this deal, I never made our bed.  We were going to get right back into it anyway, right?

Turns out, he LOVES to have the bed made.  He said that walking into the bedroom with the bed made (even if there was other clutter in the room) just made the whole room look and feel cleaner and more relaxing.  I’ve since learned that he’s right and I now LOVE to have my bed made.

Before this deal, I would wait until he got home and ask him what he wanted for dinner.  I wanted to make something he liked, and wanted him to feel like he had input without me making his choices for him.

Turns out, he doesn’t care one bit what we have for dinner, but he cares a lot about having to think about it.  He wanted to be able to ask “What’s for dinner?” and get a definite answer.  He had been thinking and making decisions all day and didn’t want to make that one.  He didn’t care if the answer was frozen pizza, take-out, or even if I told him he was grilling burgers for dinner.  He didn’t even insist that it be ready when he got home, although soon after was preferred because he was hungy.  He just didn’t want to make the decision.

Can you see how this can work?  I was trying so hard to do what I thought he wanted, but once I stopped to ASK what he wanted, I was able to actually please him without all the extra stress.

So, my husbands Top 3 things are:

1. Making the bed

2. Having an answer to the question, “What are we having for dinner?”

3. Not having dirty dishes in the sink

All of that is with the understanding that taking care of the kids comes above all else!  If a child has a fever, gets sick, or is just having one of those days that requires extra work and attention, the Top 3 are forsaken.

Give it a try, and I guarantee you will be amazed at the results!  I’ll let you in on a little secret.  For the first several weeks of trying this, the bed would often get made right after he called to tell me he was on the way home.  I was doing it for HIM, not for me.  Now, I do it for me too!  At least, *most* of the time :)

It could work the other way too, where the stay-at-home-mom tells the husband her “Top 3” that she needs when he gets home.  We just haven’t had the need to do that here.  I tell Hubby when I need him to take over for a little bit, or if I need a break.  I’m so blessed to have a husband that willingly and joyfully participates in the kids’ bathtime & bedtime routines, so I haven’t felt the need to give him a Top 3.  However, if you don’t get this type of help from your husband, then I highly encourage you to make this Top 3 thing a 2 way street.

Making Marriage Work Tip #2a

Tip #2a – Communication 

How do you start most relationships?  By talking!  As the relationship grows, so do the conversations.  You go past idle chit-chat and you really talk about things that are important to you.  Marriage is no different.  Good communication is absolutely key to the relationship.  Being completely open and honest about everything is critical. 

When you are married, you are a team.  You are in this together.  You need to be able to not only communicate your needs and opinions to your spouse, but you also need to be able to accept and respect your spouse’s needs and opinions. 

Communicate your expectations.  Unmet expectations can be the downfall of a marriage.  If your spouse doesn’t do something that you wanted him/her to do, stop and ask yourself – was it because they were spiteful? Or was it maybe because they aren’t a mind reader and didn’t know you wanted it in the first place?  Take the time to communicate *nicely* that you need help around the house.  Don’t just get mad because they didn’t do the dishes tonight when you’ve been doing them every other day. 

Use “I” instead of “You”.  “You don’t ever help me around the house!” puts the spouse on the defensive immediately.  Instead try, “I have been feeling overwhelmed lately.  Could you please do the dishes for me tonight?”.  Almost all of the time, they will answer positively when you ask like that.

Avoid using “always” and “never”.  Again, those put the other person on the defensive and they shut down right away.  “You are always watching sports!” is just going to make them say “Really? ALWAYS?”.  Instead try, “I would really like to watch a movie with you.  Could we do that on Tuesday, and I’ll make snacks and watch the game with you on Monday?”.

Keep the flow of information wide open. There are no secrets in our marriage.  None.  We share bank accounts, passwords, bills, cell phones, mail, etc.  He doesn’t go through my text messages at the end of the day, and I don’t check his internet history on his computer.  But we know we could if we wanted to.  We know who each other’s friends are.  We don’t get jealous because we trust each other.  We trust each other because we are open and honest and know what is going on.  I don’t hide purchases from him (unless it’s his birthday!), and he doesn’t hide emails from me.  What’s his is mine, and what’s mine is his.  We share every single thing.   (Well, not everything…he doesn’t like my scented bath soap!)  Seriously, there is no reason to hide that stuff from your spouse.  You are married. You should not be talking to anyone that you wouldn’t want your spouse to know about, or having any conversations that you wouldn’t want them to know about.

Some of you might be asking, “but what if I want to talk ABOUT my spouse?”.  I think you have to be VERY careful with this because it’s a slippery slope when you start talking to someone else about your frustrations in your marriage.  It’s so easy for that to turn into a gripe session rather than something productive.  Other people join in on the complaining and before you know it you are upset about things you hadn’t even started with.  I’ll tell you what we do.  Hubby and I discussed it in great length, and we each agreed on a couple people that we trust to talk to about our marriage.  If either of us were to have some serious concerns or frustrations, we could talk to one of these agreed upon people.  We chose these people because we know that if we went to them and told them that our marriage was in trouble, or even that we had a small concern about how to handle something – they would try to help us rather than turn it into a gripe session.  These people are close friends, strong in their faith, and have marriages that we respect. They are people that would pray with us, listen to us, and encourage us to do all we could to work out whatever issue we were having.  These are people that would NEVER tell us to just walk away, or encourage us to do anything harmful to our marriage.  Thankfully, these friends are not just here for the bad.  They are here for the good.  They are involved in our lives and are there to encourage us to constantly make our marriage better and stronger.

Talk about money. We talk about finances and make a budget together.  We agree on large purchases before we make them because it affects our family’s goals.  Sit down together and look at your income and your expenses.  Decide together how much you are going to save & spend and stick to it!  We do this monthly when Hubby is in town.  When he’s gone, we’ve agreed ahead of time how I will handle it.  We also set a dollar amount and agreed that any purchase above that amount would only be done after we’ve had a chance to talk about it (except a medical or vehicle emergency).  If you are sharing a joint bank account, and you work on a budget together, then there will be no surprises.  I hear too many stories about one spouse spending all the money and the other one not having money to pay the bills.  This is unacceptable! Plan your splurges so that you know there will be money left over.

Tomorrow, I’ll share with you the communication secret that changed our marriage forever!

Making Marriage Work Tip #1

Lately it seems that I have several people in my life that are really struggling in their marriage.  I know there are many more that I don’t know personally because I’ve seen prayer requests, or heard the pleas for help. It just breaks my heart!  No matter how much in love you are with your spouse, marriage can be challenging, and it definitely takes a lot of work to make it thrive.  Juggling jobs, kids, extended families, housework, finances – it can cause a lot of stress.  The military lifestyle doesn’t make it any easier either!  Many couples in this environment got married just months, weeks, or days before one of them left for a deployment.  Many of them had not dated for very long either, so they are left trying to make a marriage work long distance without ever having a chance to get to know each other, to build trust.  I can’t imagine how hard that must be.

I know that our situation is very different from many in the military.  Hubby and I had already been married for 8 years before joining the Army.  We also got married older than most (I was 27, he was 30), so we had more life experience to build on.  Even before we got married, we spent hours and hours talking and getting to know each other before getting married.  We had both had failed relationships and did not want to go down that road again.  We would stay up all hours of the night asking each other all sorts of questions and figuring out if our hopes, our dreams, our goals, our priorities – were on the same page (or at least in the same book!)  As a married couple, we have been through many trials and tribulations over the years, so we’ve had chances to build our relationship and to learn how to handle rough times together as a team.

We have been very blessed with a strong marriage, and for that I am very thankful.  It’s not always easy though, and it does take deliberate effort to put the marriage before our own personal desires.

So, what makes our marriage work?

Well, I’m glad you asked because I want to share that with you.   I can’t do it all in one post though, or it would become a book!  So instead, for the next 10 days, I’m going to share with you 10 tips for making a marriage thrive.

Today, I’ll start with #1.

 

1) Put God first, and surrender your marriage to Him

First and foremost, our marriage would not be what it is without the grace of God.  I know that because I know who I was without Christ.  I know who I am apart from Christ.  I know that I’m not strong enough to do it on my own. It is only by God’s grace and strength that Hubby and I are able to cling tightly together, never letting go, even in the darkest storms.  When we remember that we are not perfect, it makes it easier to accept our spouse’s quirks. When each of us seek to grow closer to the Lord individually through reading His Word, we also grow closer to each other.  It is truly letting Him be the 3rd strand of our marriage that holds Hubby and I together like a 3rd strand of a rope holds it together.  If we are committed to making it last, and we both invite God into our marriage to hold us together, then we can get through anything life throws at us.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecc 4:12)

 

Beach Date with my Hubby

These pictures are from April, but we’ve been so preoccupied with the pre-deployment and deployment stuff that I haven’t had a chance to post much over the past month and a half.  So, indulge me while I share with you several posts of the things we’ve been up to!  I won’t hit you with them all at once though, I’ll try to spread them out a bit 🙂

Hubby & I had a Beach Date!

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While Granny was here in April, we left Lovebug with her one day and headed to the beach! It’s only 2 hours away from where we live, so completely doable for a day-trip! One of our favorite things so far about living here!  We checked out a SCUBA diving shop and it just felt good to walk in and smell the neoprene!

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It’s been too long!  We plan to visit them again when Hubby returns home.  They have a few boat trips that we could do where we could take Lovebug snorkeling and then Hubby and I could take turns SCUBA diving.  For those of you new to the blog, Hubby and I met each other through SCUBA diving, and it’s a serious passion of ours. 

We also rode the ferry, and at least that I can remember, it was the first time I’ve ridden on a ferry WITH my car.  It was fun!

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We also had dinner at a restaurant we will never return to again, but that provided a beautiful view while we ate the not-so-great food. Live and learn!

On the way home we saw this sign…I’m sure it’s great for your garden!

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Our favorite wedding anniversary tradition

9 years ago today I married my best friend, and we are more in love today than we were then.  We’ve been through some crazy trials over the years.  Things that would break a lot of marriages.  We came out of each one stronger, but only by the grace of God! Relying on Him through each and every one of those times, and allowing Christ to be the center of our marriage has allowed us to press on, hand in hand through it all.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” ~ Ecc 4:12

9 years ago, after our wedding and reception, we went back to the hotel to hang out with out-of-town friends and family for a couple days before heading out on our honeymoon.  Once we were there, we realized we forgot our swimsuits, so we left our friends & family, jumped in the truck and drove home to get them.  Along the way we realized how hungry we were, so we stopped at Sonic.

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We were still in our wedding attire – he in a tux, and me in my dress.

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With the truck still decorated.

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The teenager that brought our food out to us said NOTHING.  Not a word. I had to wonder, is this something he sees often?

So it started a tradition for us – every year on our anniversary we eat at Sonic.

I love it.  It’s silly, it’s fun, it’s unique, it’s cheap, and most of all it reminds me of that day that I became his Bride.

This year, we couldn’t be together because he’s still finishing up his Army training, but that didn’t keep each of us from celebrating with our annual tradition…together…500 miles apart.  Except tonight I had to share my tator tots with my daughter.

I love you, Hubby! More and more every day! Come. Home. Soon.

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Wow, we look young!

A prayer for our husbands

During my quiet time this morning, I was reading Ephesians 1:15-19, and I just felt led to stop and pray this Scripture over my husband.  I wanted to share it with you and encourage you to pray this over your husbands as well.

“That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!” (Eph 1:15-19  from the Message)

Our husbands need discernment so that they can make decisions every day at work, and in their personal walk.  As a wife, I support and follow my husband because I know that he is seeking the Lord’s will.  I want him to have focus and clarity to see which path God wants him to pursue.

I love the phrase “endless energy, boundless strength!”  I want that for my husband as he performs his daily tasks as a soldier.  I want that for him as he performs his duties as a husband and father.  However, we are human and our Father is the only one that has endless energy and boundless strength.  So I pray that God would give my husband what he needs each day to do the work he is called to do.

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)

Revolutionize your marriage & your life!

A few years ago when I was a first time mom with a budding toddler, I remember feeling overwhelmed as I tried to manage the house and our daughter at the same time.  It felt like I was constantly picking up after her in one area, only to have another area get messed up.  She was still too young to pick up her own toys and just felt like a vicious cycle of frustration.

During this time, one of my dearest friends talked to me about the “Top 3”.  It completely changed my life and my marriage for the better!!  Seriously.  It’s like the best kept secret in town.  I continue to use it to this day.

Want to get in on this awesomeness?  Just follow these steps.

1. Set aside a few minutes for a meeting with your spouse.

2. Ask him to tell you the top 3 things he wants/needs/expects when he comes home from work each day.  If he doesn’t work outside the home, then ask for the top 3 things he wants done every day.  These things are family/household related….not bedroom related…we already know about those. 😉

3. LISTEN! Just listen.

4. Make a deal with him.  You will do your absolute best to make sure those 3 things are done each and every day.  He agrees not to complain about the things that are *not* done.

(If you both work outside the home, then I encourage each of you to do this.  You both have needs and expectations about what is going to happen when each of you get home.  Prioritize the top 3 on each side.)

How this helped us!

Before we made this deal, I was spending so much time picking up toys and straightening up the living room before Hubby would come home.  I wanted him to walk in without seeing toys spread out all over the floor, because I thought he would want that.

Turns out, he didn’t care about the toys.  He said that if he saw toys on the floor that meant I had been playing with our daughter and entertaining her.

Before this deal, I never made our bed.  We were going to get right back into it anyway, right?

Turns out, he LOVES to have the bed made.  He said that walking into the bedroom with the bed made (even if there was other clutter in the room) just made the whole room look and feel cleaner and more relaxing.  I’ve sense learned that he’s right and I now LOVE to have my bed made.

Before this deal, I would wait until he got home and ask him what he wanted for dinner.  I wanted to make something he liked, and wanted him to feel like he had input without me making his choices for him.

Turns out, he doesn’t care one bit what we have for dinner, but he cares a lot about having to think about it.  He wanted to be able to ask “What’s for dinner?” and get a definite answer.  He had been thinking and making decisions all day and didn’t want to make that one.  He didn’t care if the answer was frozen pizza, take-out, or even if I told him he was grilling burgers for dinner.  He didn’t even insist that it be ready when he got home, although soon after was preferred.  He just didn’t want to make the decision.

Can you see how this can work?  I was trying so hard to do what I thought he wanted, but once I stopped to ASK what he wanted, I was able to actually please him without all the extra stress.

So, my husbands Top 3 things are:

1. Making the bed

2. Having an answer to the question, “What are we having for dinner?”

3. Not having dirty dishes in the sink

All of that is with the understanding that taking care of the kids comes above all else!  If a child has a fever, gets sick, or is just having one of those days that requires extra work and attention, the Top 3 are forsaken.

Give it a try, and I guarantee you will be amazed at the results!  I’ll let you in on a little secret.  For the first several weeks of trying this, the bed would often get made right after he called to tell me he was on the way home.  I was doing it for HIM, not for me.  Now, I do it for me too!  At least, *most* of the time 🙂

It could work the other way too, where the stay-at-home-mom tells the husband her “Top 3” that she needs when he gets home.  We just haven’t had the need to do that here.  I tell Hubby when I need him to take over for a little bit, or if I need a break.  I’m so blessed to have a husband that willingly and joyfully participates in the kids’ bathtime & bedtime routines, so I haven’t felt the need to give him a Top 3.  However, if you don’t get this type of help from your husband, then I highly encourage you to make this Top 3 thing a 2 way street.

Gringos hunt for tacos

A couple years ago, Hubby was fortunate to have a job that required him to live in the Yucatan area of Mexico for about 4 months.  During that time, he became a big fan of “tacos al pastor”.   Take corn tortillas, and fill them with wonderfully seasoned pork roasted on a spit, and sliced fresh when you order.  Top with onions, cilantro, some diced pineapple and salsa.  YUM!  He said he ate them almost daily while he was living there.

Since returning to the states, he has been hoping to find a local version of these, but so far all attempts have fallen short.  He was looking for the true, authentic version.  Cooked on the spit, not just chopped chunks of pork.   We knew we weren’t going to find them at any of the large chain Mexican restaurants in town.  This was something you would find at a corner taco hut made by people who had likely grown up eating these.  A few months back, we had a conversation with someone that pointed us in the direction of where we might find such a delicacy, but we just hadn’t made the time to go search it out.

Today was the day!  My parents had the kids for the weekend, and we had some free time on our hands, so off we went for “The Great Gringo Taco Hunt”!  We had 2 places in mind that we wanted to try, and try them both we did!  We ended up with (very) full tummies, only a small dent in the wallet, and great satisfaction as Hubby was able to reminisce about his days in Mexico.

We started with Stop #1 — Taqueria El Si Hay.  It’s a little building on a street corner with a couple benches on the outside as the only seating available.  No need for more, as the cars were piling up at this place even though we were there a good hour after the “lunch rush”.   Hubby got 3 tacos al pastor (pork), and I tried the barbacoa (shredded beef).  I liked his better, but mine were great too.  They were all served with chopped onion (which I omitted on mine), fresh cilantro, lime, and a side of salsa.

It was about 105 degrees F outside, so we took our tacos and ate them in our air-conditioned vehicle.  We were very impressed with our food, however, we doubted whether the meat was actually cooked on the spit as it appeared to be chunks of meat, rather than sliced off.  Since we didn’t bother to ask, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.  Either way, it was delicious.

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After stop #1, we still had some time to kill, so we decided to tackle #2 on our list. After fighting with some traffic and construction congestion, we arrived at El Tizoncito.  The first notable difference is that this one was more of an actual restaurant.  Plenty of inside seating, air conditioning, and table service immediately took this place to a different level than our last stop.

We noticed as we were walking in, that this joint shared a drive through with a bank! A little funny, I thought.  Deposit your paycheck, & grab a couple tacos!

We went on in, and took 2 seats at the counter right in front of a huge hunk of pork cooking on a spit! There it was…the stuff Hubby has been craving for months.  We had awesome seats and were able to enjoy quite the show as the guys sliced, chopped, flipped, stacked and served from the large circular griddle in front of us.

We were immediately served a (free!) appetizer of hot black beans while we waited.   Once again, Hubby ordered tacos al pastor, but this time he chose the “gringas” which means they add cheese.  I copied his order this time, and was glad I did!  We were also served a relish tray of sorts with toppings for our tacos. Onions, cilantro, pineapple, 2 kids of salsa, and a side of limes were ready to add an array of flavors to our meal.

I enjoyed a horchada beverage, while Hubby enjoyed a “baby beer” as I called it.  It was a tiny bottle of Corona, called a Coronita.  We were also each served a sampling that included each of 3 flavors of frozen margaritas – Regular, Hibiscus, and Tumeric.  They were each delightfully tasty, and quite potent! Who doesn’t like a place that gives you free samples of margaritas?

In the end, both places held their own.  The food was delicious at either location.  If I wanted to sit down in the air conditioning,  get a little entertainment and be waited on, I would definitely choose El Tizoncito.  However, if I didn’t need a place to sit, or wanted to experience the culture more up close then El Si Hay is definitely your choice.

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All in all, it was a fun adventure with my hubby! I love doing things like this with him.  I am so blessed that Hubby and I enjoy doing anything together, even running errands.  This was a special day though because it was just us in the car, so we were able to sit in silence if we wanted, or carry on our own conversations without interruption.  A rare treat during this season of our lives.