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What Donald Trump Taught Me About Marriage


Donald Trump is constantly in the news, and recently I was reading about the new tax plan he is unveiling. The writer said that this was a pyrrhic victory for Trump, using a word I had never seen before, so I looked it up. It gives me great satisfaction to see a word well-used, in the right time and space, and I enjoy learning something new, so this one was doubly pleasing. In fact, I woke up the next two nights with the word at the forefront of my thoughts.
Pyrrhic victory – noun – a victory won at such great cost to the victor that it is tantamount to a defeat. Ouch. I wondered why this term had lodged itself so firmly in my head, to the point that I found myself discussing the term with others. And then it hit me.

Early in our relationship, patterns were established between my guy and me, that we would argue until he finally gave in. He once joked that I could murder someone and convince him he had done it. For years in our marriage, I was guilty of choosing an empty win at all costs; sacrificing rationality, consistency and certainly the feelings of my guy, in the name of winning the day.

It took years for me to really see that in winning the battle I was losing the war. A pyrrhic victory, because in conquering, I was choking our relationship, snuffing out trust and respect as I went. I think we are often short-sighted in our closest relationships; so eager to be heard and understood that we are willing to do anything to win. What I realized over the years is that when I take the time to listen to my guy’s heart, pray for understanding and reception and make it my goal to argue for us, instead of with him, we both win.
Maybe Donald Trump could learn something from my marriage….


If I Were There….


It’s something we started years ago, I’m not sure exactly when or who said it first. But my friend and I lived many states away from each other and when one was really sick or hurting from a large disappointment in life, the other would say, “If I were there, I would make you a pot of your favorite soup” or “If I were there I would clean off your patio and pull out two chairs for us to sit outside, in blankets with coffee”. That last one as one of my favorites spoken over me many years ago.

As my daughters live far away from me now, the tradition has moved on to share with them. Our youngest had strep throat last month and I found myself saying, “If I were there I would play with your hair till you fall asleep” and to our oldest during a very trying time, “If I were there I would fill your fridge with good food and make you pancakes.” Nothing extravagant, no trips to Europe or promises to fight the others’ battles. Just a quick picture of what could be.

The whole point is to simply convey that I love you, I know you and want to help, even though we both know I can’t right now. It’s reserved only for those closest to me, the ones I know best, and whose happiness actually affects my own. I wonder if you have someone far away in your life that you can show love to by simply sharing what you would do if you were there with them? I would encourage you to tell them. It won’t change the circumstance, or fix all their troubles, but it will assure your Love that you see them, and you care.

Behind Every Great Man…


What were you thinking??

Are you serious??

I just don’t trust you.

Three statements that can crush a man. There are many more, but they all share similar characteristics; from the woman they love, these words inflict wounds that do not heal.

I don’t think most women understand how much impact we have on our men. There are so many jokes floating around about selective listening and how men tune out our words, but I think they listen very carefully. At least, early in the relationship I am quite sure of it. Over time they may feel forced to close you out in order to survive.

Your guy is looking for support, encouragement and grace that only you can give. He doesn’t need judgment or doubt, he hears that all day already. When he shares a crazy dream for your future together, instead of telling him all the reasons it won’t work and belittling his ideas, say something like, “I don’t think I understand. I’d like to hear more about that.”

When he asks if he has what it takes, instead of using the opportunity to share your doubts in his abilities, try, “I believe in you.”

And when he messes up and asks for your forgiveness, instead of reminding him of all the past hurts inflicted, respond with, “I forgive you.”

I have talked with so many men over the years who share that they feel paralyzed with doubt in their own abilities, afraid that they do not have what it takes. The difference can be the words that you are speaking into his life, detailing his strengths and potential.Your response to your man is incredibly powerful, that saying, ‘behind a great man is a great woman’ should be, ‘behind every great man is an encouraging woman.’

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. Proverbs 21:9

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Know Your People


I am meeting with my boss in a little while. He doesn’t really seem like a boss, it’s a part-time job that I get to do from home, exactly the kind of work I need to do to keep me busy and fulfilled and I’m working for my best friend’s company. My ‘supervisor’ is the President of the company, who is also a close family friend, but he is still my boss and should be regarded as such on a workday.

Anyway, we haven’t talked in weeks and I have several ideas I want to pitch to him. But I’m not sure how to go about it. I know this guy really well, but I don’t know how he receives ideas and information best. I’m still getting to know him in this arena.

Think about your people, the ones you interact with most and need to communicate well with; what do they need from you in order to understand best? One of our children must read information in order to process it, hearing it does little to no good, while another child must hear it, the written word seems useless. Also, one child needs time to sit with a new idea before making a decision while the others can roll with new information as it comes in. My guy needs facts and figures and if possible, a recommendation from an expert to help him make a decision, while I bank on my feelings and intuition.

I had a professor in grad school who recommended when getting to know a new professor or boss, to ask their preferred mode of communication; some prefer email while others like phone calls or text messages. Communicating with someone in their favorite way can make a big difference in how the information is received. Last week my guy and I were walking in a cold, fierce wind and he started to say, “Hey, I have an idea…” I cut him off immediately and said no idea would seem like a good one right now, could he wait until we were warm?

We need to know how best to get a point across to those we interact with most, and maybe even let others know the best way to communicate with us. If you leave me a voicemail you can be very sure I will probably never hear it, unless you are one of about six people on this earth. But if you text me, there’s a good chance I will respond very quickly. We’re all different, know what your people need from you.

As for my boss, I emailed him my ideas and we are talking in the next hour. We’ll see which way works for him!






Your Move


In the early years of our marriage I had the ability to run a gamut of emotions in the first hour of the day; my guy never knew what to expect because I could show signs of bitterness and frustration and enthusiasm and charm without thinking about it. I believed it was my right to do this, to be able to express all my feelings – and I had a lot of them – whenever and however I pleased.

This left my husband with a decision of how to respond to me; he had the choice of matching my crazy or remaining consistent even though I was not. If he mirrored my level of…ahem….enthusiasm, we could quickly find ourselves in a scary place of accusations and ultimatums. But if my guy remained constant and true to himself, he would often be able to bring me back to reality, helping us to remain civil and kind.

Fast forward a few years and I can see the opposite is true as well; my man tends to worry and can get down sometimes without cause. When this happens, I have a choice to make, I can lay down in the pit next to him and mirror the fear and we can quickly find ourselves in a scary place of darkness and isolation. But if I can remain constant and true to myself, I can often bring him back to reality, helping us to remain steady and calm.

This is the beauty of being so different in a relationship. We each provide consistency for the other, rounding off the edges and filling in the holes. But only if we choose to. When you know your spouse will be coming home from a tough day at work, do you steel yourself with possible reactions and counter arguments, or do you prepare yourself to be what the other needs, no matter what? I am not suggesting becoming a doormat, submitting your needs, but I am suggesting a laying down of your rights to poke the bear and make matters worse. If this seems foreign to you, like it was for me for so many years, I want to encourage you to simply experiment with your response and see what can be.


Are You Listening?

Remember this movie? There was a lot of meat in the message of acceptance of others, but what I remember most was this scene, the way that Carol completely hears and listens to Simon. There is a difference, you know. She pulled the car off the road in order to absorb the words and the emotion, and she didn’t allow any distractions, even when they worked so hard to take over. What a gift to give someone: your undivided attention when they are sharing their story.

I want to continue to be struck by this scene, and show this kind of respect to others. It’s as good as it gets here on earth.

This Is It

signI knew things weren’t great in our marriage; in a lot of ways we were just in survival mode – the kids were 4, 2 and 6 months and we were in shock as to how much time and energy they pulled out of us each day. My guy was in a sales role at this time, with a large drivable territory, leaving me a couple of nights each week to tame the lions alone. We had an unspoken agreement that his work was his domain, I didn’t have much say in how it was done and whatever went down inside the walls of our home was mine.

One Sunday morning we were getting ready for church, it seemed like we had more time than usual and I was enjoying the slower pace. My guy, who likes to be on time, started the ‘we need to get a move on’ thread and I kept pushing back with,’we’ve got plenty of time’ and thwarting all efforts to get out of the house and exercising my control. You know the dance, right? Please tell me you do. Anyway, we finally got into the car and my guy was really upset, the only way I could tell was that he had become silent and his jaw was jutting in and out. I made light of the situation because we were only five minutes late, no big deal.

We got to church, and to the area where we drop off the children and it was like a ghost town. You could hear the others laughing in their classrooms and singing, and someone came out to greet us and laughed about the fact that we were more than an hour late! An hour and five minutes to be exact. I don’t know what happened in my brain, but I had changed the start time for church in my head and my guy never said more than, ‘we need to get a move on.’

I was furious. How dare he let me look so ridiculous? Why didn’t he say anything? And then I knew. My guy couldn’t say a word, not even have a say about the time that we left the house, because I ran the show. He had no voice in our home. Our kids certainly knew this was the case – obeying me and arguing with their Dad, or simply doing what they wanted, against his words. I had to learn to surrender to my guy, to his words and his desires. I didn’t always want to, sometimes it felt good to be the dictator of my own tiny country, but I knew that I had to, or I could lose it all.

I wish I could say that it was a simple switch that needed to be pulled to make the change but the truth is that I had to surrender my need to control and my guy had to start speaking up, even if it meant saying something unpopular. These days we work more as a team. Our children are much older and completely capable, so a lot of the daily stress is gone, but we each have a say in how things are done at home and in his work. We try to listen to what is said, and I have to work really hard sometimes to hear what is not, but it is worth it. Keeping the peace doesn’t mean keeping quiet, and controlling the environment should be left to the thermostat.

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