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Posts Tagged ‘advice from men’

Continuing with Eric’s list…

Background:
A Christian man that I work with, Eric, knows that I blog here and wanted to share with you, as a married man, the 5 things he thinks a couple should talk about before they get married.

Some of these you might talk about in pre-marriage counseling.  Some of these you might just naturally talk about (or experience) in your dating days as you get to know one another.  There isn’t an option to not talk about or experience these things.  You will have to eventually.  The question is one of timing: do you want to deal with them before marriage or after marriage, where the risk of hurt and pain is much greater?

These aren’t theological issues – which are important, but these are the practical, day-in-day-out issues that really affect a marriage.  Since his list is so great and each item is worthy of discussions, I’ve separated them into 5 different posts.  For the most part, I’ve left them exactly as he wrote them.

Eric’s advice:
“How are we going to protect our marriage?” How do we shield, protect, and preserve our marriage from the offenses that *WE* bring to the table, not to mention the external ones? What’s our policy on secrets? (My wife and I have a no-secrets rule within our marriage, which means that anything shared with her is open for discussion with her husband – though things are still managed with discretion, of course.)

How do I let you know my temptation level and when I am on the edge ready to fall over? Should we have a code word or symbol for when it’s time to leave, when I’m uncomfortable, when I think you need to stop, to pause a conflict, etc.?

One thing you learn in marriage is that it’s not a magical formula that removes all sin and temptation, it’s still between 2 sinful people, and none of us are exempt from sin, temptation, and mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend your marriage in reactionary mode, you can decide to be pro-active and put things in place to protect and advance your marriage (computer filters, finance committee meetings, white space on your [social] calendar, etc.)

Jayme’s Thoughts:
Jeff and I have set up some rules on this, but nothing too formal.  Our rule of thumb is that we don’t spend time with non-family members of the opposite sex, as much as possible and really only when you’ve informed the other person.  Meaning, I can go to lunch with a group of 5 co-workers, but I won’t go to lunch alone with Co-worker Carl.  And we never discuss our marriage with others – family or not.  Some situations might be unavoidable – if I had a male boss or if he had a female boss, but we aren’t in that scenario.  There was one time that I wanted to meet with a man as he wanted career advice from me.  I let Jeff know what was being asked, told him the situation and we didn’t have any issues.  This other man and I drove separately to and from the lunch and it hasn’t happened since.

I, too, believe that anyone is capable of anything.  Now, there are things that I’m more likely to do (aka: overeat) than some other things (aka: have an affair).  But I’ve heard too many marriages that have fallen apart because they didn’t think “it could happen to them”.  But it can.

The good news is that you never have an affair accidentally.  It starts with a conversation in a cube, then a lunch or twenty, then after work events.  Was the first conversation in a cube wrong?  Maybe or maybe not.  But the series of lunches certainly wasn’t wise.

How will you protect your marriage?

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Continuing with Eric’s list…

Background:
A Christian man that I work with, Eric, knows that I blog here and wanted to share with you, as a married man, the 5 things he thinks a couple should talk about before they get married.

Some of these you might talk about in pre-marriage counseling.  Some of these you might just naturally talk about (or experience) in your dating days as you get to know one another.  There isn’t an option to not talk about or experience these things.  You will have to eventually.  The question is one of timing: do you want to deal with them before marriage or after marriage, where the risk of hurt and pain is much greater?

These aren’t theological issues – which are important, but these are the practical, day-in-day-out issues that really affect a marriage.  Since his list is so great and each item is worthy of discussions, I’ve separated them into 5 different posts.  For the most part, I’ve left them exactly as he wrote them.

Eric’s advice:
WARNING: I recommend having this conversation in a remote, secure, safe place. This is actually the biggest one, and I had it at number 5 but bumped it to 4 because you need to have this conversation before the next one.

*insert deep breath here* The question is “Is there anything about you that I don’t know?” This is the conversation about undercurrents – the time to bring out the stuff that nobody else knows. This is when to discuss drugs, alcohol, abuse, pornography, crippling insecurities, big fears, addictions, the “sticky pages”, etc. 

My wife had no idea that she was marrying a porn addict, and because she didn’t know the world of porn, she didn’t recognize the clues. Fortunately God dealt with that in me before we had a major issue with it (I know a guy who lost his marriage and landed on the sex offender registry because of it), but it still pops up from time-to-time. Think about gambling, wouldn’t it be nice to know your significant other has a problem with gambling BEFORE you suggest Dave & Busters for date night?

An interesting sidebar to this is “What are your comforts (as in, what do you do or turn to when you get out-of-whack)?” I would like to say that mine is the Lord and Him alone, but in reality, its food and sex. Others might have a drink or a smoke, some people cut, others quilt, etc., you get the picture. This is good to know – you need to know what your partner will turn to. In our marriage, emotional eating is sometimes the only visible clue that something’s going on.

Jayme’s Thoughts:
This is a conversation (Anything that I should know?) that we’ve had often. Just in case the other person thinks of something new that they haven’t told before or just in case the other person needs an opening to bring up a topic.  It’s amazingly tough to have this conversation.  It’s amazingly worth it to have this conversation.  I wasn’t excited about telling Jeff my history of overeating or working too much to avoid pain, but it was necessary.

When you do have this conversation, my one piece of advice is: take your time processing the topics.  Meaning, if he tells you about his past debt, ask questions, but don’t jump to conclusions.  Give yourself some time to absorb what he’s said.  Give yourself time to research what he’s told you. Especially when it comes to sexual past stuff – be careful about which details you ask for.  Once you’ve learned something, it’s too hard to unlearn it.  And for the most part, you don’t need too many details.  Be open to having this conversation more than once – especially after you’ve had time to process and absorb the topics.

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Continuing with Eric’s list…

Background:
A Christian man that I work with, Eric, knows that I blog here and wanted to share with you, as a married man, the 5 things he thinks a couple should talk about before they get married.

Some of these you might talk about in pre-marriage counseling.  Some of these you might just naturally talk about (or experience) in your dating days as you get to know one another.  There isn’t an option to not talk about or experience these things.  You will have to eventually.  The question is one of timing: do you want to deal with them before marriage or after marriage, where the risk of hurt and pain is much greater?

These aren’t theological issues – which are important, but these are the practical, day-in-day-out issues that really affect a marriage.  Since his list is so great and each item is worthy of discussions, I’ve separated them into 5 different posts.  For the most part, I’ve left them exactly as he wrote them.

Eric’s advice:
Money matters. A lot. The mechanics of money is easy – it’s a 2-second discussion to decide who is going to write the checks and physically pay the bills. But money philosophy, budgeting, lifestyle choices, long-term/short-term, rent vs. buy, those can be long and painful discussions.

That said, most people are either spenders or savers, and it’s important to know who is what. My wife and I are both spenders. She’s quicker to spend than I am (see point 1), and I have ZERO concept of saving money. That shows up in the overall big picture, and while a balance here is nice, it can also be extremely frustrating for both parties.

(As a side note – 2 financial keys for your marriage are discipline and openness. Lack of financial discipline [aka the leaky wallet] will stress your marriage like nothing else, and secrets about money [hidden credit cards, misdirection] may seem small, but ALWAYS blow up, and by the time they hit the surface are bigger than you could ever imagine.)

Jayme’s advice:
I think a lot of couples keep separate money accounts because it’s easier.  She has her money.  He has his money.  Rarely the two shall meet. And it is easier to do that.  But easier doesn’t mean good.  In that case, the couple is taking an opportunity to not communicate, to not share, to not become one.  Yeah, having budget conversations isn’t the most fun that you’ll have, but it will very quickly show you characteristics and qualities that exist in you.  Money shows you your priorities and tendencies.

We’ve, thus far, been pretty blessed not to have major, major conflicts over money, but we definitely disagree sometimes.  My husband is more aggressive in his investing strategies than I am sometimes comfortable with.  He isn’t wrong.  I’m not wrong.  Our individual thoughts on money highlights the fact that I really like security more than potential fast growth.  (Pretty typical of women!)  He looks at the long-term more often (like retirement) where I’m more concerned with the immediate future (getting that mortgage paid off!) For us, money discussions is the things that highlight our differeces.  Rather than sweeping them under the rug, we address them.  I imagine though that this will become more a struggle for us as we’re expecting a baby, which means our income will change, our housing needs will change, our savings needs will change.  It’ll bring up a whole new set of things to discuss.

Are you a saver?  Spender?

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Continuing with Eric’s list…

Background:
A Christian man that I work with, Eric, knows that I blog here and wanted to share with you, as a married man, the 5 things he thinks a couple should talk about before they get married.

Some of these you might talk about in pre-marriage counseling.  Some of these you might just naturally talk about (or experience) in your dating days as you get to know one another.  There isn’t an option to not talk about or experience these things.  You will have to eventually.  The question is one of timing: do you want to deal with them before marriage or after marriage, where the risk of hurt and pain is much greater?

These aren’t theological issues – which are important, but these are the practical, day-in-day-out issues that really affect a marriage.  Since his list is so great and each item is worthy of discussions, I’ve separated them into 5 different posts.  For the most part, I’ve left them exactly as he wrote them.

Eric’s advice:
This is kind of related to the first one, but deserves its own question: How do you argue, and how does your family argue? I know of some pastors who are a good example here. She grew up in a house where the winner of an argument was the last man standing – longer and louder was the path to victory at her house.

He grew up in a house where conflict became an academic discussion, almost a debate – calm, solid reasoning, and group consensus. I’m sure you can imagine (his shock) the first disagreement they had (which was likely over which direction the toilet roll should face). This is good to know, because when conflict happens, you need to know how to expect the other person to play until as a couple you define the rules of your own game.

Jayme’s advice:
We seem to “argue” well.  Well, we don’t argue much. We disagree occasionally, but there’s only been one time that we’d say that we “fought”.  And in looking back, we both had misunderstandings and it was mostly my fault because I became too impatient!  But no matter what my experience is, you should expect to disagree with your spouse.

The good news is that you can change how you disagree.  No one is born knowing how to disagree and communicate through differences.  The way you express disagreement today is a learned behavior.  Through time and practice, you can learn a different way of disagreement.

Also, toilet paper always hangs so that the roll hangs towards you, not the wall.  That’s the proper way!

How do you disagree?  Is longer-and-louder the way that’s been modeled for you?

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A Christian man that I work with, Eric, knows that I blog here and wanted to share with you, as a married man, the 5 things he thinks a couple should talk about before they get married.  These aren’t theological issues – which are important, but these are the practical, day-in-day-out issues that really affect a marriage. Since his list is so great and each item is worthy of discussions, I’ve seperated them into 5 different posts. For the most part, I’ve left them exactly as he wrote them.

Some of these you might talk about in pre-marriage counseling.  Some of these you might just naturally talk about (or experience) in your dating days as you get to know one another.  There isn’t an option to not talk about or experience these things.  You will have to eventually.  The question is one of timing: do you want to deal with them before marriage or after marriage, where the risk of hurt and pain is much greater?

Eric’s advice:
Who is passive and who is aggressive? This issue comes up a lot. I am passive, and my wife is aggressive. That means that generally, I want her to slow down/back off, and she wants me to speed up/turn it on. I am slow when it comes to making decisions, she usually has a decision made before the question is done being asked. 

She generally has a strong opinion, and I generally have no opinion (or at least I don’t express it) and/or defer to her opinion (think “What would you like to eat?”). In conflict, she gets wound up, I tend to calm down, which further winds her up and further calms me down, etc. Which meant that in the beginning, she needed to back down and I needed to get a backbone.

Hopefully that helps illustrate the picture for you. You can imagine that having 2 passives or 2 aggressives also creates some unique circumstances as well…

Jayme’s words:
My marriage sounds like Eric’s!  For the most part, Jeff’s more go-with-the-flow especially when he doesn’t have a solution in mind.  Me?  Not so much.  If I’m the one bringing up an idea, I have a solution in mind – most of the time, anyway.  So, I get impatient just waiting for Jeff to agree with me, when he’s had 5 seconds to think about it and I’ve had a couple of days.  I gotta slow down.  Sometimes, he agrees with my assessment.  Sometimes, he comes up with a better plan.  But either way, I want US to make a decision, not just ME.

How have you seen this play out in different relationships?  Are you passive?  Are you aggressive?  How do you plan to manage that in future relationships?

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Continuing the “What Do Men Say?” series where Christian men share their advice to women, here’s part 6, which answers the questions: “Once in a relationship, what have women you’ve dated done well in the past?”  and “Once in a relationship, what have women you’ve dated in the past that you haven’t appreciated?

And the men said…

(All of these are pretty much exact quotes. Spelling and small details have been changed to protect the generous men willing to answer.  Emphasis has been added by me.)

Once in a relationship, what have women you’ve dated done well in the past?

Encouragement, listening.

They allow me open doors for them (car door, restaurant door, etc.).  She would not rush right in to the restaurant, but would pause allowing me to open the door for her.  This shows me that she will allow me to serve her.  And being grateful would make me want to serve her even more.

We kept God at the center.  She would ask me about passages in the Bible about what they meant (gave me homework), and then I looked up the passages, consulted some commentaries and then I was able to teach her what I learned.  Good way to see if we were both on the same level spiritually.

One girl made me lunch for the two of us.  She had the day off and I went to her house for lunch.  I felt really special that she would go through all the effort for me.  The total meal probably did not cost more than $15, but it was the time she put into it that made it special.

Being honest if I do something that irritates her and disclosing to me one on one; respecting me in the area of not going too far physically; being hospitable; helping in some practical ways, being honest and up front very early on about some difficult issues, taking great pains to ensure I didn’t risk reputation too much with ministry leadership matters; trusting me.

She was good at making me feel good about myself.  For example:
• Telling me I was cute/good-looking/etc.
• Reminding me of the words God has spoken about/over me.

Also, she was good about listening to my crazy plans and talking them over with me.

There were a few different times that she would see me gimping around after a long day of working on my feet and she would offer to rub my feet.  Sometimes I didn’t even realize I was gimping around.

She was good about forcing me to discuss issues.  Typically this isn’t a strength of mine and I leave stuff to fester.
Once in a relationship, what have women you’ve dated in the past that you haven’t appreciated?

Running all over town going to non-dating social functions every non-dating minute open – too stressful that way!

Focusing on negative things and rarely noticing the positives.

One woman came right out and said “no” to an activity that I thought would be fun.  I thought going to hear Warren Buffet speak would be fun.  I never saw or heard him in person before and I had tickets.  I wanted go only for a couple of hours followed by dinner.  She was like “snoozeville”.  I was really trying to find fun dates to go on and I felt hurt and that my efforts were not good enough.

Not taking care of their body/health.

Sometimes I wish I could meet their family early on.

I’ve had to confront on manipulation but things have been better after that.

I’d probably describe her as sometimes being ruled by her emotions.  This was very frustrating for me as I’m primarily logical first and emotional second.  I’m also aware that she isn’t me and her emotions played a big roll in who she was, which aside from the emotional highs and lows, was pretty amazing.

It looked like she has a fear of commitment.  Not sure exactly why.  I speculate that she was afraid she would have to re-live the rough times she witnessed in her parents marriage.

Also, I think she had an unrealistic view of what a relationship would look like – aka, fairy tale.

Jayme’s reaction

I do wonder what impact our parents’ relationships have had on us – especially for those that grew up seeing an unhappy marriage or whose parents divorced.  I don’t have any insight into that!  It would be a hard thing to have the fear of an unhappy marriage and not be able to move past that.

Fairy tales — Disney and Hollywood Chick Flicks have done us (women especially) lots of harm.  Relationships aren’t full of flowers and dancing and music – even good relationships.  Those things happen in good relationships, but it’s in between times of normal life – eating dinner at home, taking care of yard work, just hanging out.  If your expectation is that every moment of a relationship should be flowers and dancing and music and sweet words, then I can see where you’d be disappointed and think that something is wrong with the relationship.  Nothing is wrong with the relationship, but something is wrong with your expectations!

Men out there, anything to add?

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Continuing the “What Do Men Say?” series where Christian men share their advice to women, here’s part 7 (the last one!), which answers the question: “If engaged, what do you expect to change from dating to engagement in a relationship?

And the men said…

(All of these are pretty much exact quotes. Spelling and small details have been changed to protect the generous men willing to answer.  Emphasis has been added by me.)

Full commitment to relationship. This is the beginning of the rest of your lives together.

The engagement cycle is much more of a getting ready to spend the rest of your life together, vs. the hang out mostly together.  So there should be much more communication on things that we haven’t talked about.   Things that are “mundane” but make up the majority of our lives.

If I got engaged?  I have little knowledge of this area. If marrying was a bad decision, would anyone tell me?  If someone told me it was a bad idea, should I believe them? Would I find out lots of things about marriage or about the other person that would change the decision to marry after the decision has been made? Hopefully we’d be 1) making decisions and plans to execute related to prenuptials and weddings, and 2) working through decision-making on how to structure the marriage, roles, figuring things financially, where to live, what holidays are important, how to raise kids, etc.

I wouldn’t expect too much to change.  I don’t want her to become a bride-zilla!  I guess we’ll plan the wedding and such together.  We’ll probably go to pre-marriage counseling, which will be good.  We’ll be able to talk about more intimate and long-term topics, but if we got engaged, I wouldn’t want her to change majorly!  Plus we aren’t married yet, so not too much can change!

Jayme’s reaction

Confession time: I didn’t particularly like being engaged!  Being engaged brought 2 things:

  1. Knowledge that I was going to marry my husband.
  2. Planning a wedding.

I loved the first part (knowing I was marrying him), but I disliked the second part (planning the wedding).  It wasn’t hard to do; I just wasn’t interested in it.  It wasn’t important to me.  I wanted to elope and Jeff wanted the ceremony/dinner/dance thing.  Those of you who saw us get married, you know which direction we went!

Engagement did also bring pre-marriage counseling, which was kind of intense.  For us, it was a lot of reading and homework and watching videos.  It left us very prepared for marriage, but it did take some significant time.  We did talk about things we hadn’t previously, which is normal.  But we had a pretty good handle on most of the topics already.  Before I was engaged, I wouldn’t talk to Jeff about “If we got married”.  But once I knew we were getting married, there were some more things to work through.

So, I would say: engagement does change your relationship and brings it to a new level, but it hopefully isn’t a radical change.  If it does bring about radical changes, then engagement is a better time than marriage to deal with them!

Men out there, anything to add?

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