Archive | November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving {Book Giveaway}

Since my new book was released last week, I decided to make a printable coupon collection to go along with it. I thought it might be something wives might enjoy slipping into their husband’s Christmas stocking — and something their husbands would be happy to receive.

A free printable collection of coupons for a wife to present to her husband | from

My own husband got a sneak peek at the coupon book I was assembling for him last night, however, and insisted I post it today. “It will be a great little Thanksgiving gift for your readers,” he told me, “and it will put their husbands in a really thankful mood, too.

So, here it is. Click on the image above to download. After printing, you’ll just need to cut the coupons apart, put them in numerical order, and staple the stack together on the edge.

As an added bonus, I am also sponsoring a Rafflecopter giveaway. (Click on the link to enter.) The winner will receive eight copies of 25 Ways to Communicate Respect.

A book to discuss with your married friends -- enter to win 8 copies, and you can easily do just that!

Why eight copies to one winner? Because the book lends itself so well to discussion. The post that inspired the book received over 1000 comments in sixteen weeks. That tells me that communicating respect is a topic women care about. (It’s certainly a topic men care about!)

I would have happily gone on discussing it, too, but my husband asked me to close the comments last December, so I did. But I still had more to say on the topic, which is how that original short post morphed into a full-length book–a book that I hope many wives will read and take to heart.

Offering multiple copies in this giveaway is my way of encouraging the winner to share it with her friends, so that they can discuss what they learn and hold one another accountable in applying it to their lives and marriages.

A Mother’s Job Description

A Mother's Job Description - 4 Habits that Will Help You Raise Happy Children| Loving Life at HomeIt’s really something we all should be doing. But when I came across this verse in my Bible reading a couple of weeks ago, it dawned on me that 1 Thessalonians 5:14 provides a particularly apt job description for mothers:

“We urge you [to] admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

Doesn’t that about sum it up? Aren’t these the very things that God calls and expects a mother to do each and every day?

  1. Admonish the unruly

    Children of all ages can act a little headstrong and ill-behaved from time to time. When they do, a mother should stand ready to admonish them — not out of anger or irritation or exasperation, but out of love, always keeping her children’s best interest at heart. She must correct, counsel, and caution them against continuing in that vein. To do otherwise is to be guilty of negligence.

    “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15)

  2. Encourage the fainthearted

    Growing up is hard work, and children need a lot of motivation and morale-boosting. As a mother, we should be our child’s first and best cheerleader, offering a healthy balance of enthusiasm and empathy. We should view every day as a new opportunity to invest in our children’s inner lives and to inspire them to greatness.

    “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)

  3. Help the weak

    Women are nurturers by nature. Helping the weak is what we do. This is especially evident when it comes to mothering. But we must be mindful to help in a way that doesn’t perpetuate weakness, but builds strength. Our goal is not to raise big children, but mature, responsible adults. We help our kids best when we teach them to help themselves and empower them to help others.

    “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10)

  4. Be patient with everyone

    Be patient. With everyone. Did you notice the exception clause? Neither did I. The Bible doesn’t say we should be patient with everyone except the toddler who’s pitching a fit or the teen who’s copping an attitude or the son who’s begging to play on the computer after you’ve already told him “no” ten times. Neither is impatience excused if we’re dog-tired or running late or stressed out or stuck in traffic. No, our goal — even when admonishing the unruly (see #1) — is to maintain patience at all times, toward all people, in all circumstances. Period.

    “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

While these four principles sound simple enough, it’s a challenge to live by them consistently, isn’t it? Yet the latter part of this passage provides a clue as to how we might do so. It bids us to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17)

This, I believe, is the secret to success in parenting (or any other endeavor): Stay positive and stay on your knees. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. That is key.

So what sort of things would you add to the list on a mother’s job description? Did any of those requirements throw you for a loop when you first became a mother?

Is Your Husband a Problem Solver?

Does your husband like to fix things? Here are 3 things you can do next time he supplies answers when you're looking for sympathy...Are you married to a man who likes to fix things? Do you get perturbed when you look to your husband for sympathy, and he insists on offering answers, instead?

It’s tempting, when you’re upset, to interpret this hasty rush to a solution as evidence that your husband doesn’t really understand the situation, doesn’t fully appreciate the distress it has caused you, can’t adequately feel your pain. You may even think that his no-nonsense approach to the matter is just an attempt to shut you up, because he’s tired of hearing you bellyache.

I’ve entertained such thoughts myself in the past, and still have a hard time believing they aren’t at least partially true.

Yet, according to a growing body of scientific evidence, our husbands respond the way they do simply because that is how their brains are wired. (If you’d like to read all the fascinating details regarding this research, I highly recommend Louann Brizendine’s The Male Brain.)

Studies have now confirmed what we’ve all long suspected: Men and women think very differently.

A man can’t understand why his wife would waste valuable time complaining about something he could easily fix in just a few minutes. And a woman is equally perplexed, because her husband seems incapable of listening without taking on an advisory role.

Often, all we really want is a little sympathy.

We need to realize, however, that this is a husband’s way of sympathizing. Mentally searching for a solution is his way of communicating his concern, of proving that he cares, and of expressing heartfelt empathy in the way that comes most naturally to him.

Even so, it grates on us. So what’s a beleaguered wife to do?

If you want to avoid the conflict that sometimes springs from your spouse’s different method of thinking about and dealing with problems, then you really have only three options:

  1. Stop complaining
  2. Warn him ahead of time if all you want is a hug or a prayer or a shoulder to cry on
  3. Listen to his counsel and accept his advice

The first option — stop complaining — is just a good rule of thumb in general. Nobody likes to be around a whiner or complainer, and the more positive we can remain towards our life and circumstances, the better off we’ll be. Nevertheless, there are times when difficult situations must be addressed and discussed. So what, then?

The second option — letting your spouse know up front that you just want him to listen without offering advice — may (theoretically) help from your point of view, but it will probably feel like torture to your husband.

Consider how you would react if the tables were turned: Imagine your husband comes home complaining of feeling famished. You offer him a snack, try to cook him some dinner, point him to the pantry, propose going out to eat, but your every suggestion is met with fierce resistance. Not only that, but your spouse accuses you of being insensitive for even attempting to come up with a solution.

“Why do you always have to fix things?” he might ask in exasperation. “I haven’t eaten all day! I’m starting to feel faint! Can’t you see how upset I am? I don’t need advice; I need sympathy. I just want to know that you’re on my side — that you understand!”

Wouldn’t it feel a little disingenuous to merely pat your husband on the back in such a situation and tell him that you’re sorry he’s having such a hard time?

Well, that’s exactly how our husbands feel, too, when we put such constraints on them and attempt to dictate their emotional responses.

In the same way that you’d feel compelled to let your hungry husband know there’s hot bread in the oven, your husband feels obligated to share his best answer to whatever problem is troubling you.

And that brings us to the third option — you can listen to your husband’s counsel and accept his advice. Don’t automatically pooh-pooh his suggestions, like the woman in this video:

He’s offering you a fresh perspective, a different vantage point, so hear him out, then do your best to implement his most reasonable recommendations.

Believe me, I know this is easier said than done. I do not like change in general, so my knee-jerk reaction to any suggestion that we do something differently is to argue in favor of the status quo.

This usually backfires.

That’s because, in God’s great providence, I married a man who embraces change with hearty enthusiasm. You might even say he likes change for change’s sake, although life with me has tempered that tendency somewhat. (Isn’t it wonderful how God balances extremes in personalities by uniting them in holy matrimony?)

I’ve learned not to complain about trivial matters, because I know my doing so will trigger my husband’s problem-solving circuits, which will inevitably lead to some sort of change that feels (to me) like more of a hassle than whatever matter I was grousing about to begin with.

Unfortunately, this does not get me completely off the hook in the advice department, because sometimes my spouse will simply see something he thinks is not working as well as it should and will make suggestions based on that observation.

My husband is very smart, extremely attentive to detail, and amazingly adept at “thinking outside the box.” So why wouldn’t I want to immediately adopt whatever measure he’s proposing?

My inborn aversion to change is only part of the problem. If I’m honest, I must admit the rest of it stems from my pride.

The Bible tells us, “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:10, NLT)

Ouch! Isn’t that verse convicting? What makes me resistant to my husband’s advice? What makes me want to argue about the best course of action? The Bible says it’s my pride. “Where there is strife, there is pride,” is how the NIV translates it.

Whenever strife and arguments and contention exist, we can be certain pride is somehow involved.

It boils down to this: I want my way. I’m convinced my way is better. Is it better? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ll never know unless I hear my husband out. It is arrogant and stubborn and foolish for me to cling to my own way without even bothering to consider his ideas about a given matter.

His ideas are almost always reasonable. It would be fair to say that many of his ideas border on brilliant. We both know this, so it’s insulting and hurtful to him when I blithely discount or dismiss his suggestions.

Taking my husband’s advice does not mean I’m incapable of thinking through problems or coming up with solutions on my own. It just means I’m willing to consider his perspective and give his way a try.

Why not do the same at your house?

Don’t fight against the way God wired your husband’s brain to work. Next time you face a problem, ask for his advice. Then take it.

Doing so does not mean you’re weak. It means you’re smart.