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Archive for the ‘Honour’ Category

In this series (see Part 1 and Part 2 here) we are outlining what qualities women are NOT after in a man. The purpose is to shed some light on your quest to be the best version of yourself for your wife’s sake by showing you which qualities you would do best to emphasize in your interactions with her. When a woman marries, she chooses and hopes for certain qualities. The problem is, it’s not always intuitive to a man what particular qualities his woman married him for and which ones he would do better to keep for use at work, with friends, or in the garage.

This post is about a certain quality that men often find themselves in a rut with. Picture the scenario in which you’ve been stressed at work, you have a friend going through a crisis and you’re overdue on some home projects. You need space and time: time to think, time to find some answers, and, hey, time to spend in your “nothing box” (a.k.a. the area of the male brain where literally nothing happens).

Your wife, however, is trying to connect with you and wants to know if you’re ok. You’re not sure you want to open up right now as this is risky. You want to hold back from sharing too much – you’re in an emotional holding pattern and want to stay there.

If you’re a married man reading this, you already heard the rest of the story. If you’re not familiar with this story… well, let’s just say it rarely has a happy ending. What’s with that? No man is really sure. But in falling into this trap something begins to become clear:

One quality she doesn’t want from you is silence.

You might pride yourself in being a rock. An island. Stoicism is maybe a quality that’s admired where you work. But the tendency to clam up and keep everyone and everything out, while you figure it out, is not something that she needs from you.

Connectivity, however, is. She wants you to speak willingly from where you’re at in thought and in heart. She needs you to need her to listen as you expound on the influencing factors of your life. Not in a surface sort of way, but to share your heart deeply with her.

This is why communication that’s honest and open is so important to her world. Connecting with your deep thoughts and dreams gives her perspective on your needs and how to meet them more effectively. And honestly, we want our wives to know us on increasingly deeper levels.

Of course, opening your heart when it’s not your habit to do so is much more difficult than retreating into yourself. Truly communicating your inner musings requires taking the trouble to find the vocabulary to share them. It’s about trust. It’s about shelving your quest for retreating into yourself long enough to consider how to be able to share your needs with your life’s partner. In her world, when she knows she has access to your heart, and she understands you, she’ll be the greatest defender of your need for time alone.

When it comes to your silence, she’s already had to live with enough of that. What she’s still waiting for your willingness and vulnerability to share your deep side. She needs to know you want her to know. Give her that quality.

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In this series (see Part 1 here) we are outlining what qualities women are NOT after in a man. The purpose is to shed some light on your quest to be the best version of yourself for your wife’s sake by showing you which qualities you would do best to emphasize in your interactions with her. When a woman marries, she chooses and hopes for certain qualities. The problem is, it’s not always intuitive to a man what particular qualities his woman married him for and which ones he would do better to keep for use at work, with friends, or in the garage.

There is a certain quality that most men find irresistible to display, but that most women don’t appreciate. Picture the scenario in which you’ve been confronted by her regarding something she believes you should have done differently. You find yourself justifying your behaviour and explaining the factors of the problem all the while realizing that she’s not agreeing with you. You back track and explain again. Still, she doesn’t change her point of view. You pull out a napkin and begin to illustrate. Still, nothing.

We’re sure you’re aware this yields some frustration on her part. If you’re a married man reading this, you know where this story usually goes. If you’re not familiar with this story… well, let’s just say it rarely has a happy ending. What’s with that? No man is really sure. But in falling into this trap something begins to become clear:

One quality she doesn’t want from you is defensiveness.

You might pride yourself in being able to dodge a bullet, deft at spinning an issue so as to highlight your superior reasoning abilities, and expert in your ability to justify your decisions. They might even pay you a lot for that at work. But you having the ability to provide multiple layers of reasons and explanations is not on her wish list.

Receptivity, however, is. She wants you simply to listen – to resist expounding the reasons that explain yourself – and hear things from her perspective. Not a patronizing acknowledgement, but to actually use the scenario to share in what she’s going through or how she sees the issue.

This is why communication that’s honest and open is so important to her world. She lives and breathes on the level of relational understanding, which requires receptivity to thrive. This goes beyond just hearing her out, or paying lip service to her suggestions (the proverbial, “Yes, dear”). It involves valuing her input and perspective – she needs to know you are hearing her and taking her seriously.

Of course, seeing an issue from her point of view is much more difficult than defending yourself. Truly hearing her requires taking care not to interrupt and justify as you preserve and protect your own pride. It’s about “the Golden Rule” in our conversation. In her world, it’s only after she knows you have considered her insight that she can be open to hearing your “superior reasonings.”

When it comes to your defenses, she actually already knows those – it’s her focus in life to make generous explanations about your behavior. What she doesn’t know is that you are ready to hear and empathize with her side, that you appreciate the lens she sees your world through enough to want to do something about it. Give her that quality.

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When a woman marries, she chooses and hopes for certain qualities. The problem is, it’s not always intuitive to a man what particular qualities his woman married him for and which ones he would do better to keep for use at work, with friends, or in the garage. By outlining what qualities women aren’t after in a man, and showing their alternatives, this series will shed some light on your quest to be the best version of yourself for her sake.

Let’s start with a great quality all men exhibit, particularly when it comes to those they love and care for. Picture the scenario in which a man has listened to his better half vent emotionally about an upsetting problem. After hearing her out for a few minutes he sees the root of the issue and offers an obvious but brilliant and practical solution.

If you’re a married man reading this, you know the rest of the story. If you’re not familiar with this story… well, let’s just say it rarely has a happy ending. What’s with that? No man is really sure. But in falling into this trap something begins to become clear:

One quality she doesn’t want from you is the ability to provide rapid-fire solutions and knee-jerk answers.

You might pride yourself in being right, in being a problem solver, and seeing things logically. They might even pay you a lot for that at work. But this quality is just not on her top three list of qualities she married you for.

Understanding, however, is. She wants you to understand her. And not just intellectually, but to be with her where she is at, deeply and emotionally, and share in what she’s going through.

This is why communication that’s honest and open is so important to her world. She needs to know you understand; and even draw out how she feels. This goes beyond understanding a conversation, or being on the same page about something. It involves understanding her as a person – she needs to know you “get” her, and love her: her weaknesses and strengths, her struggles and triumphs.

Interestingly, understanding is a more difficult than providing solutions. Understanding requires coming side by side to observe something in all its messiness, its insignificance or its magnitude through another’s eyes. It’s about care. This means shelving your quest for a solution long enough to feel what she feels, and to feel it strongly enough to say something meaningful in order to prove to her she’s not alone, and worth your full attention.

When it comes to solutions, she actually knows those. What she doesn’t know is that you care enough to understand, for understanding is what empowers her to make her own decisions. Give her that quality.

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Holding Hopes

A successful marriage involves the joining of hopes of two individuals. A large portion of your hope is built around the what the other person does and becomes, and chances are you will need each other’s help and support to accomplish your goals. As a couple, your hope in life overlaps intricately.

Do you know what the hopes are in the heart of your mate? Ask, probe, listen, observe. Begin with a decision to observe and join your partner in the journey of their hopes. Is it time to rediscover your spouse’s hopes? Life causes some hopes to shift and change over time but others will continue to surface, and will solicit more attention.

After discovering their hopes, decide to join your spouse in their pursuit. Do you remember the time when you said “…to have and to hold …’til death do us part”? At the beginning of your marriage you committed to hold each other’s hopes and dreams. You are your spouse’s greatest asset when it comes to fulfilling their hopes for life. You are the one who can most effectively assuage their fears, most excitedly cheerlead their efforts and most exuberantly celebrate their successes.

Take the time to discover what fears are present that prevent their hopes from materializing. Speak, act or empower so as to encourage their expression; and when hopes are realized, be the most ardent celebrator.

Holding their hopes is one of the deepest and most meaningful ways you can serve your spouse in spite of what life may bring. The spin off is that, as with all things of the heart, it inspires reciprocation. So time after time, make your love pave the way for hope.

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Holding Hearts

Marriage is the arrangement where you give your heart to another person to care for. You’re holding his heart – he’s given it to you. You’re holding her heart – she’s trusted you with it. Hearts are given. This is why the expressions, “She broke my heart,” or, “He poured out his heart to me,” make so much sense to us and we know exactly what is meant by them.

This begs the question: How do you care for a heart?

First, you discover it. Deeply and intricately and without assumptions. Surface knowledge is not enough, it must be individualistic and you can’t read into what you find there. Just know it.

Second, you accept it. Not when it’s nice to you, that’s easy, but when it’s the hardest thing in the world to do – that’s when it has the greatest effect. Just love it.

Third, you put it first in your life. You go out of your way to give it what it desires and to see that it has full expression. You be what it needs and enable where it wants to go. Just serve it.

This begs the question: But what about my heart?

Well, marriage is the arrangement where you give your heart to another to care for. Just give it. Once you’ve made the arrangement to give your heart to another don’t manipulate or be motivated by fear and try to secure its needs. Just leave it. Focus instead on the heart that you’ve been entrusted with. Care for it like it was yours, for the heart you hold is the one that holds yours. Just trust it.

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Habits are a necessary part of life, including living in a long-term relationship. You would do well to break some habits that work against you (see here), and to replace them with some that will work for you. We believe this is the second of the “couple things” that will make your marriage better over time.

When you commit to “increase” (click here to see our last post) in order to become the best version of yourself, you are really committing to develop the following habits for the sake of your mate:

1. Continually think “responsibility” not “excuses.” Adopting a victim mentality has yet to benefit a marriage. If you don’t aim to “own your stuff” (the consequences of your choices and behaviour) you’ll blame your stuff on the person closest to you, to the detriment of the health of your relationship. Therefore it must be owned. After all, your spouse has enough of your imperfections to compensate for as it is, and they’re trying to find reasons to honour, or love and respect you. Help them out!

2. Continually think “behaviour” not “identity.” When you’re making changes to yourself for someone else’s sake, you have to remember you’re aiming to change the way you do things, not who you are. Otherwise you end up resenting the changes and they ultimately don’t stick. You’re trying to become the best version of yourSELF, not someone else. You are trying to establish patterns that make up for, or work around, your personality weaknesses or character flaws for the sake and sanity of the person you married. They married you. Become the best you there could be.

3. Continually think “action” not “intention.” Your plans don’t change how a person feels about you. Your behaviour does. What will give you more results than just about anything else you can do in a relationship is concrete changes in your actions – unasked for and un-nagged about. Know this, your spouse fell in love with who you are, s/he married you because they believe in your plans and intentions, and s/he will fall in love with you over and over when you prove to them they made the right choice.

Habits are powerful. Once they are made they become self-perpetuating. Put the creation of these habits on the front burner of your agenda. These habits will drive your commitment to be the best version of yourself – for your partner’s sake.

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I think I may have overheard some of your thoughts from our last two posts on honour. (Click here to see our last post.) When faced with the challenge of finding new ways to honour your spouse, you’re confronted with the problem that you believe they’re not really worthy of your honour.

This could either be because “familiarity has bred contempt” or because they have done something or acted in a way to let you down or hurt you. You started out promising to put them first, honouring them as you should, but they’ve become in your mind, to whatever degree, unworthy. Or you’ve ended up unmotivated to give them the honour you once did.

But choosing to honour is still the answer. Honour says, “You are more than this. I believe better things about you than what you have shown me. I still believe in who you are.”

Action that communicates this kind of honour gets results. We don’t need people to pat us on the back, congratulate us and honour us when we’ve accomplished something. Where we really need it is on the journey.

To honour someone truly is to look past the irritating behaviours, weaknesses and faults to see the person behind all that, to brush away all the debris of life and really witness his or her journey. To honour is to believe in them, to support them en route, not because they have accomplished or are perfect, but because you’ve chosen to believe that they can, and are becoming someone great.

Once you have chosen this perspective, you begin to see your spouse’s inherent value. They are worthy of honor based on who they are as opposed to what they have or haven’t done.

Turn it around for a second. Wouldn’t you wish your partner to see you and honour you for who you are, and not base their treatment of you on what you’ve done? Refuse the temptation to say, “Yeah, but…” and start there.

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