Archive | October 2013

Give Him a Gift More Precious than Gold

"Your reputation is in the hands of others.... You can't control that. The only thing you can control is your character."I am something of a legend at the hospital where my husband serves as Chief of Staff. Whenever he introduces me to anybody from work, I always hear the same thing:

“It’s so nice to finally meet you, Mrs. Flanders. Your husband talks about you all the time. I feel like I’ve known you for years!”

But the me they think they know is not the one who wakes up with morning breath or burns dinner to a crisp or leaves clothes in the washer so long they sour or has to hire a repairman to tell her that the reason the icemaker isn’t working is because somebody turned it off.

Not even close.

My husband’s colleagues are only familiar with the Wonder Woman version of me — the one who runs marathons and writes books and tutors calculus and sings like an angel and never sleeps.

Keep in mind, very few of these people know me except through what my spouse has told them. If he were inclined to focus on the negative instead of on the positive, their perception of me might be radically skewed (and their esteem for him would probably plummet, as well).

So my question is this: How does your husband’s reputation fare among your friends? When you are out with the girls or gabbing with coworkers, do you build him up or run him down?

What you say reflects on you as much as it does him.

The Bible tells us, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4)

Your husband is at your mercy. You know him more intimately than anybody else on the planet. How will you use that knowledge? Will you choose to be a crown or a curse to him?

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” Scripture warns us. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:21-22)

Fitting, the juxtaposition of those two verses, don’t you think? Part of what makes a woman a good wife and a crown to her husband is her ability to measure her words, to guard her tongue, to let it be governed by the law of kindness, and to use it to speak words of life:

  • “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” (Proverbs 21:23)
  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
  • “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)
  • “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3)

Whether or not you appreciate the fact, your husband’s reputation is of paramount importance to him. Guys would rather feel unloved than disrespected. For ages, men even fought duels for the sake of their honor. They would sooner suffer death than have their name besmirched.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)

Your husband’s good name is your good name, as well (and vice versa), so guard it carefully.Honor him in the way you speak of him to family and friends. Protect his reputation. Don’t let minor irritations or disagreements at home tempt you to badmouth him in public.

Conduct yourself in such a way that others will have no trouble understanding why your husband married you in the first place.

What Shall I Wear?

Keeping Him Captivated | http://lovinglifeathome.comWhen I first published 25 Ways to Communicate Respect over a year ago, I was astounded to see how many women took offense at my suggestion that a wife should dress in a way her husband finds attractive.

In my mind, there were points on the list that were far more controversial than this one — I expected those might draw some criticism — but I never imagined #17 would provoke the ire of so many readers.

No, I’m not trying to reduce women to the sum of their physical attributes, as some falsely accuse. I concede that a woman’s worth is based on infinitely more than what she looks like.

But to say that our appearance does not matter most is not to imply that it does not matter at all.

Men are visual creatures. Putting a wedding ring on their finger does not negate that fact.

Many of us went to great lengths to look good before we got married. We combed and curled and coiffed our hair. We slicked on lip-gloss and crimped our eyelashes and primped in front of the mirror for hours on end.

Why? Because we wanted to look our best. We were trying to attract our guy’s attention. We were willing to do whatever it took to snag a husband and make him our own.

Is it fair, then, for us to pull a bait-and-switch after the wedding? Promising an attractive, put-together wife, but delivering curlers and cold cream? Why do we seem to think that once we marry, we can stop trying?

There may be little chance that I’ll ever be mistaken for a trophy wife, but do I really want to present myself in a way that removes all doubt? After all, the Bible does say that a virtuous wife is a crown to her husband. (Proverbs 12:4) Isn’t a crown a little bit like a trophy?

I want my man to be proud to show me off in public. Don’t you? Don’t you want to keep your husband captivated?

Then dress the part.

I’m not saying you have to wear things that you detest or find uncomfortable, nor do you need to clean your house in a cocktail dress and stiletto heels or shop for groceries in revealing negligees, but I do think you should take care of your appearance and dress in a way that pleases the man you married.

Women in the work force often adhere to very strict standards of dress, whether written or unwritten. You don’t see many female executives showing up at the office in their bathrobes and slippers, do you? Lots of women — including waitresses, nurses, police officers, surgeons, and even Supreme Court justices — must wear prescribed uniforms to work every day.

So why all the resistance about looking good on the home front? There is nothing demeaning about a woman wearing clothes her husband finds flattering and pretty. This is not oppressive. It’s not objectification.

It is simply something a wife chooses to do because she loves her man and values his opinions. It’s the same reason she pays attention to her health and hygiene and tries to get adequate rest and exercise — not only because she respects husband, but because she respects herself and wants to look and feel her best.

  • She wants to look her best in public

    because she understands that when she goes out into the community, she is not only representing herself, but her husband and family, as well.

  • She wants to look her best at home

    because she knows that looking good and feeling comfortable does not have to be an either-or proposition. (And she can really rock an apron).

  • She wants to look her best in private

    because that’s when it’s especially easy to please her guy. (Just because an outfit is not modest enough to wear in public or in front of the kids does not mean you can never wear it at all. Lock the bedroom door and slip into something just for your husband. Do this regularly enough, and he won’t care what you wear to clean out the garage.)

Of course, looking your best encompasses much more than what clothes you put on your body.
Our appearance is more than our apparel.

Scripture tells us our “adornment must not be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but it [should] be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

So our carriage also comes into play. Our attitudes and behavior speak volumes, revealing not only what we think of ourselves, but also how we regard everyone around us.

Including our husbands.

“What attracts men to women is their femininity,” writes Dr. Laura Schlessinger in The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, “and femininity isn’t only about appearance, it’s also about behaviors. Looking womanly and behaving sweetly and flirtatiously are gifts wives give to their husbands. This gift communicates that the husband is seen as a man, not just a fix-it guy, the bread-winner, or the sperm donor.”

That’s a good reminder.

Sprucing up for your husband and treating him like a man is not only good for him and good for your marriage — it’s good for you, as well. Doesn’t it make you feel strong and confident and desirable when you flash your husband a knowing smile and his heart gives a little flutter in response?

You captivated his attention before marriage. Why not make the effort to turn his head again?

No Complaining Allowed

Do Everything Without ComplainingThe Bible says we should “do everything without complaining or arguing.” (Philippians 2:14)

That’s not a suggestion. It’s a command.

Nobody wants to be around a whiner or complainer. It is wearisome, both mentally and emotionally, to listen to the constant grumblings of a perpetually unhappy person. It grates on the nerves.

Wise parents understand this fact and train their children to communicate without whining. Our Heavenly Father expects no less from us, as is repeatedly made clear in Scripture:

  • “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do not grumble among yourselves.’” (John 6:43)
  • “Do not complain, brethren, against one another so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” (James 5:9)
  • “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.” (Numbers 14:27)

While it is true that God encourages us to make all our requests known unto Him, He clearly desires that we do so with a spirit of gratitude, humility, and respect—rather than with an attitude of pride, bitterness, or entitlement. The following verses bear this out:

  • “…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
  • “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)
  • “Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)

It all boils down to focus. Are you going to center your thoughts on what is wrong with the world, wrong with your husband, wrong with your home? Or will you choose to look at things with eyes of gratitude, love, and understanding?

There are countless things in life over which we have no control, but we can control our thoughts and attitudes and responses. So let’s begin there.

Fostering Friendship with your Husband

"Life is better with your best friend. That's why I married mine." - unknown
The day I first met my husband, we spent three hours so totally absorbed in conversation that we were oblivious to all else. A casual observer might have assumed we were just talking, but Doug was actually and actively sweeping me off my feet at the time.

“So… I heard you don’t date,” he said to me on our second meeting.

He’d heard right, although this was more a statement of fact than a matter of principle. At our small Christian college, everyone who knew me knew that I wanted to get married, have a lot of children, and homeschool them all — and there wasn’t exactly a glut of guys vying for the chance to make that dream come true. The few who had ventured to ask me out had been summarily turned down (or scared off) once it became apparent that we didn’t share the same vision or values.

But this guy was different. My life goals neither deterred nor intimidated him, but seemed rather to pique his interest.

“I don’t date either,” he continued. (By this he meant that he’d given up dating the minute he met me.) “So… how will we spend time together?”

He then proceeded to offer a slew of suggestions: Could we eat together in the cafeteria? Yes. Could we study together at the library? Yes. Could we go to church together on Sundays? Yes. Could we attend concerts, banquets, and other campus events together? Yes. Yes. And yes, again.

We’ve been virtually inseparable ever since. While we never did call it dating, we spent as many of our waking hours together as possible, then married a year later, so we could spend our resting hours together, as well.

Whether a couple is just starting out or has been married for years, togetherness is of vital importance for the nurture and health of their friendship. How can you truly know another person unless you spend time in his presence?

Written letters, phone calls, texts, Skype, Twitter, Facebook — these are all great ways to stay connected when separation is unavoidable, but they can’t hold a candle to communicating face to face with your beloved in the living, breathing flesh.

Some couples assume togetherness will be the status quo after marriage. They expect that if two people live under the same roof, they’ll no longer have to work at coordinating schedules and carving out time for one another. That sort of thing just happens automatically, doesn’t it?

Or does it?

That might be true for the time a couple is on their honeymoon trip, but as soon as they get back home and return to school or work, life’s other obligations and responsibilities will begin conspiring to distract their attention, steal their time, and dampen their intimacy. Unless husband and wife are both careful to protect, preserve, and cherish their time together, it will slowly be eroded away and their friendship will suffer as a result.

To keep that from happening, you must be intentional about the time you spend with your spouse. Don’t let outside activities infringe upon your time together as a couple. You may have no choice but to be apart during working hours, but limit extra-curricular activities that segregate you from one another too frequently.

Need some practical ways to foster friendship with your beloved?

  • Set time aside daily to connect with your husband.

    This might be over coffee in the morning before children are up and work duties call, or maybe over a warm bath before you turn in at night. Either way, use the time as an opportunity to discuss the day’s events and your thoughts concerning them, to relate funny or interesting things that happened while your were apart, to summarize the day’s accomplishments, to share any concerns, needs, or prayer requests, and to pray about them together.

  • Jealously guard your family time in the evenings.

    As much as possible, say no to evening activities that take you and your husband in separate directions. An occasional board meeting or girls night out may be fine, but if your family if fragmented every night of the week for months on end, it will completely undermine all sense of togetherness.

  • Make the master bedroom a private retreat.

    If you haven’t installed a pick-proof lock on your bedroom door, please do not wait another day to do so. This will afford you and your husband instant privacy whenever you want or need it, which is especially important once children join the family.

  • Take an active interest in your husband’s hobbies.

    Learn what you can about his favorite sports and pastimes, then join him as a fan and cheerleader or an active participant.

Life really is better when you’re married to your best friend, but any friendship flounders when you fail to invest adequate time and energy in it. What are your favorite ways to foster friendship with your husband?

50 Life Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way

50 Life Lessons I've Learned the Hard WayKnowledge gained through trial and error may be the hardest earned, but it’s usually the longest remembered.

Last year I posted 7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from My Husband, so now I’d like to share a few life lessons I’ve learned on my own. Some of these truths were acquired by accident, some due to ignorance, some because of stubbornness, but each and every lesson was learned the hard way.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the mistakes I’ve ever made. These are just the ones that immediately sprang to mind when I sat down to write this post. I’m normally a quick study — once was enough to convince me I didn’t want to make most of these mistakes a second time — but I confess it took a few repetitions before I got the message on a handful of the following maxims.

So I offer you fifty gems of practical wisdom, all gained through firsthand experience. It’s less painful to learn from someone else’s mistakes instead of making your own, so if you want to spare yourself unnecessary anguish, take note:

  1. Don’t say anything in front of a five-year-old that doesn’t bear repeating.
  2. In the eyes of a police officer, a “rolling stop” does not count as a stop at all.
  3. Never use your teeth to pry the cap off a coke bottle.
  4. Listen to your mother. She’s lived longer than you, and she’s not just talking to hear herself speak.
  5. Don’t sit down in a cow pasture without first checking the ground for fresh patties.
  6. Never play Twister with a full bladder.
  7. Pack an extra change of clothes for slumber parties (especially if you’ll be playing Twister while you’re there).
  8. Don’t ignore the engine light. If it comes on while you’re driving, pull over immediately and call your dad.
  9. Don’t circle your answers if the teacher told you to underline them.
  10. It may not seem fair, but you can actually fail a test for not following instructions, even if you get all the answers correct.
  11. If a baked potato has been sitting at room temperature for more than three hours, don’t eat it.
  12. When biking down steep hills, don’t apply the front brakes without simultaneously applying the back. And wear a helmet.
  13. If you’re no good at gymnastics, pick something else to do for the fifth grade talent show.
  14. Fair-skinned redheads should wear sunscreen at the beach. Or a turtleneck. Or both.
  15. When you jump off the high dive, check to make sure your swimsuit is still covering everything it’s supposed to cover before you climb out of the pool.
  16. If all the boys in your sixth grade class are at the deep end watching, stay away from the high dive altogether.
  17. Confirm that your ice maker is plugged in and turned on before calling a repairman.
  18. Don’t take an antihistamine when you’re nursing, if you want to keep nursing.
  19. Don’t teach a three-year-old how to operate the paper shredder.
  20. If your spouse teaches your three-year-old how to operate the paper shredder, lock up all important papers or irreplaceable files immediately and hide the key.
  21. Make sure your three-year-old doesn’t see where you hide it.
  22. Lift with your legs, not with your back.
  23. Never tell a lie, even if you know the truth will get you in trouble.
  24. Going eighteen months without getting pregnant does not mean it’s time to cancel your maternity coverage.
  25. Never store your maxi pads where your toddler can reach them.
  26. Always double-check the bathroom before letting a guest use it (especially if your toddler knows where you store your maxi-pads).
  27. If you find yourself in a turn-only lane, turn.
  28. Don’t hang all the ornaments on the same side of the Christmas tree.
  29. The longer your hair, the more important that you put it up while preparing food. Especially if a gas grill is involved.
  30. Anytime you go anywhere with children, call roll and count heads. Twice.
  31. When pulling forward out of a parking space, don’t turn too early. Let your front tires clear the car parked next to you first.
  32. If your pediatrician’s nurse tells you to leave your baby undressed until the doctor comes in to examine him, go ahead and put his diaper back on while you wait.
  33. Be careful what you pray for.
  34. Don’t assume a person who works at a beauty salon has any haircutting experience. She may normally just shampoo, so check.
  35. Those adorable shoes on the clearance rack are no bargain if they’re two sizes too small. If you don’t want blisters, leave them for someone with smaller feet.
  36. Chain-link fences are no match for a two-year-old determined to get on the other side of it.
  37. Always read the fine print.
  38. Butter toffee peanuts are not your friend, even if they do come packaged in sturdy, square, reusable containers that fit perfectly in the rack on your pantry door. The extra pounds will remain on your thighs much, much longer than the makeshift canisters will stay in your kitchen.
  39. Turn off the electricity before replacing a light switch.
  40. Never feed fried mozzarella to a two-year-old. Or cake donuts.
  41. Don’t jump in the deep end unless you know how to swim.
  42. Before leaving home for church, restaurants, or extended vacations, check your children’s feet for shoes and socks. Just because they’ve piled into the van and claim to be ready to go does not mean they’re not barefoot.
  43. Make sure the dishes in the dishwasher are clean before you put them away.
  44. It is physically impossible to separate two dogs in the act of mating, so don’t bother trying. Your children (and husband) will be much more traumatized by watching your failed attempts to get that stray mutt out of your yard than by observing nature take its course.
  45. After eating anything with poppy seeds or peppercorns, check your teeth before smiling at your date to the drama banquet. Or at his ex-girlfriend who’s seated across the table from you.
  46. Never wash a load of laundry without first checking all pockets for gum. Or Sharpie markers. Or advance purchase movie tickets. Or cell phones.
  47. Don’t let your three-year-old play with your iPhone if your Twitter account isn’t password protected (or if she’s wearing jeans with deep pockets).
  48. Don’t make your husband wait until you’re in the mood. For many women, the mood rarely hits until we’re in the middle of the act, and we’d miss out completely if we made that a prerequisite.
  49. Never use a ballpoint pen to write 38 pages of notes in the dark on the legal pad you keep beside your bed for brainstorms that come in the night. The pen could run out of ink halfway through, and you wouldn’t know it until daybreak. Use a pencil, instead.
  50. Preferably one with a lead.

I could go on… but considering my pencil lead was broken and I didn’t know it, I think I’ll stop there.

What are some lessons you’ve learned the hard way? Please share. I’m in the mood to learn from somebody else’s mistakes, instead of my own.