Posted in Children, Relationships

Children ~ Future Heirs of Imperfection

A black and white illustration of a mother and...
A black and white illustration of a mother and son reading a book on a chair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good Afternoon All,

A quick recap on life before I delve into the subject of my post.  Since my last post much has changed–as is inevitable in life.  Circumstances beyond our control mix  and mingle with those that we can exercise control over.  As one of those American‘s beginning furlough yesterday, I chose to spend it on the operating table & recovery.  Yes, finally, I was able to have the operation to repair my tendon which suffered a vertical tear on my right ankle back in January when I slipped on black ice.  One of my challenges is to determine what to do with my furlough days (one day off per week for the next 11 weeks!)  besides recovering.

Journaling, blogging, gardening and quilting are on the menu for my enjoyment/entertainment, as well as, as the subject infers spending more time with the family.  I’m writing this post today because of a great article I read from an individual I follow on LinkedIn named Michael Lazerow.  His post was titled “Entrepreneur’s Choice:  Is Your Kid Worth $100 Million?”

I found his article well thought out and extremely thorough in navigating through the thought world of priorities one faces as a parent.  The challenges he addresses are especially important for the entrepreneurial sort of parent(s).  If you are married and one of you has or is planning to operate your own business–be “the boss” then there’s a lot at steak and many choices to weigh.  Here’s an excerpt from his post:  “For me, at least, the hardest part of being a working parent is not the long road trips or long hours or frustrated clients. It’s the internal struggle I fight between two equal and opposing forces – the time I invest creating shareholder value and the time I invest building family values.”

Considering now the thoughts you might have about the circumstance/situation, what are “WE” doing about the circumstances, the questions, and what choices are we making to bring these thoughts into social debate; and useful assistance to those faced with the challenges?  Michael ends his post with the following:  “Ultimately, the best present you can give your kids is your presence. Your full and undivided presence. And, just like earning $100 million, that’s not always easy.  What decisions would you make differently if you truly valued your children more than $100 million?”

As believers in a faith, we “attend” church to congregate with others who practice their faith in similar ways to us.  As writers; we join reading a writing groups; as collectors, we join stamp clubs, auto clubs, quilting guilds, and others who share similar interests…..but where oh where is the group for Parents in our day-to-day rhythms?  Online seems to be the only place where this topic gets the attention it deserves, but its too often a one-to-one relationship (the individual reading the article or post–and the author)  Child Care facilities are hardly the place to meet the need, however, a modification to the model would be ideal if psychologists and other family care professionals were to facilitate.

For those that do work for others, parenting issues are water cooler and lunch room discussions if at all.  Besides your co-parent, who do you talk to, ask questions of, and share these experiences/challenges?  It can only be that much more of a challenge to those who are single parents.

This topic is what I believe a LOT of men could really use.  Parenting isn’t traditionally attributed positively in association with men…. unfortunately our society places topics/activities into gender categories.   A movie with a great plot, relationship intense dialogue, and focused on an individual struggling with a major life issue is put into the category of chic flick.   Ask a group of married men their druthers whether to spend a Friday or Saturday evening watching a chic flick or watching/attending a sporting event or online gaming…most will NOT choose the chic flick–especially if asked in front of a group of guys.

For years I have hoped for/wanted a men’s group that meets to help each other be better men, fathers, and husbands.  I have felt in order to even get attendance, it would have to be a covert operation whereby I started a monthly night our for guys with our home schooling or back in the day when our daughters were younger, at the Twins Club.  I’m going to give it a try with our current home schooling group when I’m back on my feet–but, I just wonder if anyone else out there sees the same thing that I do?  There is power in numbers!  Parents (both men & women) should be able to join a group “FOR PARENTS” without having to pay a “family counselor”…to discuss and share things that work, things that didn’t work so well, and just be able to provide general support for each other.    Most groups that exist are for individual aspects of parenting (La Leche League–for breastfeeding; special needs, troubled youth, etc.)  Support groups need to exist for those without a chronic medical or mental issue, where parents can encourage each other to make better choices!

My wife has done an excellent job as a home schooling mother at creating some family traditions.  Reading aloud to the children during meals has helped to distract the kids from normal “Mom, he’s looking at me!” spats that normally arise from close proximity.  It has worked well and she’s continued the habit–the twins are now almost 18 and our son will turn 14.  It has helped them develop a voracious appetite for reading on their own.  Each Thursday, the kids go to the library and check out new books–they get through and read almost everyone they check out!  They all enjoy the reading time!  So, being able to share something as simple as that little coping mechanism a mom has during lunch times adds to the quality time spent together and teaches many important lessons.

These are the types of exchanges and ideas that can be helpful to new or struggling parents.  Fitting time into life’s schedules to create new/better habits and develop deeper relationships with our children beyond the logistical or parallel entertainment (TV watching) is what parents crave/need.  You don’t know it until you experience a pocket of it here and there…but when you have those moments, its like a “I could’ve had a V-8!” moment.  But we must consciously chose  to reprioritize HOW we spend our time and then develop consistent habits.

Children need and find structure comforting, even if they don’t seem to be appreciative, boundaries are what gives children a sense of stability and trust for their environment and caretakers.  If we don’t provide it for them, they will seek it out, even if it comes with great risk.  I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about choices you’re making to improve your quality time with children/grand children; or even with establishing a group for the purpose of becoming a better parent.

The practices we put in place (or don’t), the traditions we build (or don’t), the value we create (or don’t), the choices we make (or don’t) all end up being the legacy we leave behind.  Whatever you do (or don’t) are behaviors your children witness and observe (learn) internally as a way to do life–most proudly pass on to their children these behaviors and choices (both good and bad). What example are you setting?  Whether you like it or not, parenting is teaching, and what is taught, is learned and carried on to the next generation!

Cheers All!  Again thanks to Michael Lazerow’s post about parenting to help trigger this post!

 

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Posted in Relationships

Part 2 – What Does it Mean to “Be a Family?”

Part 2

Well, the results are in.  I printed out these three questions from previous “Part 1” of this blog post for each of my children to answer.  Their responses have been included with minor editing:

  • What does it mean “being family?”
    • Response 1:  “Having a loving connection of understanding and compassion for another human being. Having a spiritual connection with another person(s) that helps you learn to better yourself and just plain learn.”
    • Response 2:  “Being connected to each other, caring for each other. Being a group of related people who share in each others interests and passions, and supports each other in them.”
    • Response 3:  “Its more than being related to individuals by blood.  Friends may care for you, but they don’t nurture you like family does (unless you live with friends because of a bad family).  Family teaches you about home, how to live & work with others, and dealing with the world around you.”
  • How should people in a family behave toward one another?
    • Response 1:  “Trustingly, compassionately, lovingly, and understandingly.  Not like your families are strangers because they share something special that you wouldn’t with someone else you don’t interact with.”
    • Response 2:  “They should be responsive and attentive to one another.  Not to mention respectful and open.  When they’re involved in things that family does that the person doesn’t like doing, they should do it with their best attitude.”
    • Response 3:  “Kindly.  If there’s a problem, everyone must cooperate on how to fix it instead of setting it aside and telling people to “get over it.”  They should consider the feelings of others in all situations.  They shouldn’t discount someone because “that’s just the way he/she is.”  Every member of the family needs to know that he/she is loved.  A family member’s dreams and aspirations should be explored, not put down.  Everyone should feel like they belong and if they don’t, they should be brave enough to talk about it.  Everyone should be open to discussion and debate because in a family, everyone’s ideas should be heard and considered (even if they aren’t always accepted.)  But most of all, each member should treat each other well so that when kids head off into the big world, they have people to comfort them and a place where they’re always welcome.”
  • What can/should you expect by being a member of a family?
    • Response 1:  “Being able to communicate with another on the deepest personal and spiritual level that you wouldn’t be able to with any other person.  To be able to express yourself without being ridiculed.”
    • Response 2:  “I expect to be heard when I’m speaking without interruptions and with full acknowledgement.”
    • Response 3:  “Being considerate to others, having good common sense. More importantly, getting a good start in the world, because when you grow up with people who love you and treat you well, they give you almost all of the lessons of life you’ll ever need to know:  kindness, patience, helpfulness, confidence, tolerance, love and a bunch of other good things.

I was very touched to read their responses.  As a parent, one of the best things you can do is get into the habit of asking questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” response.  You’ll never understand how they are connecting the dots about relationships, much less the world around them, unless you involve them in discussions/thoughts you want them personally exploring.  Another reason why, as much as parents need a break…its time to banish “the kids table!”  Inter-generational conversation is necessary to gain healthy perspectives in the world.

To conclude from my last post what I could have stated before returning to work: “Okay, we know that mom has just recovered from being sick…she’s still not 100%!  Please be aware of her needs, and look out for her.  One of you take care of the dishes, all of you work together to make lunch and prep supper, everyone pay attention and be responsive to your mother so that if she needs you to do something, she doesn’t have to go looking for you or try hollering to find you with her sore throat.”  Instead, I assumed that three teenager’s focus would be to automatically be in that frame of mind.  If you read “Positive Discipline for Teenagers” you’ll know that’s just “not normal.”

I realized that all too often, just because our spouse/partner is a colleague in that aspect of life,  they are competent, and independent enough to take care of things—but if there are two parents, neither should feel alone (Cinderella Syndrome).  Being a family is truly a team activity!  Like football, chess, or any other game of strategy, you must be vigilant and remain aware of all activities at all times.  The individual parts of the team can fail if not supported and integrated with the others.  Communication is critical to success!

Due to generations of societal/gender behavior “norms” women tend to take care of too much (of the load) for the family, and men tend to “stay out of the way” (and help out only when asked/told/nagged)  This paradigm suggests that the woman is always the strategist (planning, preparing, predicting, investing, etc….)  This key aspect of the core relationship for keeping the family a “true family” must be shared.  Men, don’t forget your ideas can be helpful, your strengths are different but just as useful.  If you’ve made mistakes with your “involvement” in the past, talk with your partner acknowledging that you may not always get it right, but that you want to share, you want to help, you want to participate.  But if you are serious about being a better husband, father, friend….you’ve got to get your head in the game–this game…the family.

Family can be and is fun…but not if you’re fighting it.  Yes, family means giving up “me time!”  You can’t just continue all of your normal pre-children habits (unless you want a relationship that suffers fracturing).  If you chose to have children, that choice isn’t the end of your obligation/necessity–it is the beginning.  If your perspective on what it means to be family is all twisted around, look for other real life quality examples–they are around! Husbands, you are necessary, especially as fathers and the example you set for your children about what it means to be a man….to be family.

This post was just as much for me as it was for anyone reading who feels convicted.  Seriously, we have to get our heads in the game–think about your partner and ask how you can help.

Cheers to all, and thanks for reading!

Posted in Relationships

What Does it Mean to “Be a Family?”

Part 1

This is the question I posed to my children tonight.  It was an interaction with my wife today that made me realize that in some ways, I’ve been negligent and haven’t done the greatest job at being a nurturing partner.

My wife was sick last week!  Remember, she’s the stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of our three children!  In her usual way, she said she’d be fine, she knew that I have a lot on my plate with my full-time job and pursuit of my degree in Business!  I said “That’s why I accrue sick leave…to take care of family; nonsense, I’m staying home!”  Last week was the week she had chosen to begin the kids school year (we homeschool year round to be able to accommodate for times when either she or the kids are ill, if a crisis arises in the family or we want to take a short family vacation.)  Anyway, I ended up taking two days off…one was definitely not enough!  She still wasn’t completely recovered, but feeling better than two days before.

She, like many stay-at-home moms, has a passion for our children and tries her best to ensure she’s providing the best education for them. Due to my past military career, she learned to “go-it-alone” for so long that she doesn’t often ask for help for anything, and she always puts the needs of everyone else ahead of her own.  Where I failed on the nurturing end is, she still wasn’t at the top of her game, and I didn’t leave any instructions for the children….several things I could have stated (like most men, I assume too much!)

I won’t reveal the things I could’ve/should’ve said because I want to wait until we have our family meeting and hear what the children have to say about my question….but the experience and a few other interactions with my wife recently has caused me to think about what being a family means.

My mind raced quite a bit this afternoon pondering this question–weaving together bits and pieces from books I’ve read about relationships, parenting, family, love, and loss.  So, I’ll just leave you with these questions and look forward to your responses.  Stay tuned!  Later this weekend I’ll share with you the answers my children shared and the conclusions I’ve come to that I plan to share with my family during our family meeting later this week.  Here are the questions I’ll answer in Part 2!

  • What does it mean “being family?”
  • How should people in a family behave toward one another?
  • What can/should you expect by being a member of a family?
  • In your own family, do you feel that you’re doing everything you can to help your family be at its best?
Posted in Writing

Life – A Mixed Bag

Donald Hall
Image via Wikipedia - Donald Hall

Good Evening All,

Lying here in bed…the glow of my laptop screen providing a sleepy ambience, the smell of Vicks rub for both me and my wife who occasionally pulls out a kleenex for her leaky, dripping nose!  Sigh, yes its that time of year again.  The kids got hit with the cold first, one at a time finally visiting us!  The tickle in the throat, the wheezy flitters in the nose, it all seems to accompany this time of year when the night temps drop into the 50’s and the daytime temps make you wish you didn’t have to go to work.

We’ve settled into a new rhythm, sort of…now that we’re back in the burbs. Life is more convenient than the 40 minute one-way commute I had daily to and from work.  The kids are closer to friends and my wife doesn’t feel so isolated.  I have made designs and schemes for the future of our yard and already begun work to frame the future.   Somehow, it doesn’t seem that we’ve only been here two months!  The first couple of weeks I had no problems getting out of bed early in the morning…plenty of time to putz around the house doing odd jobs, etc…but that has worn off.  I’m lucky to get up and go through the motions in time to arrive on time!

I almost can’t watch television or look at news much without getting depressed.  Doesn’t anybody report anything good anymore?  Isn’t there anybody doing anything commendable, worthwhile, rewarding, inspiring?  Why does journalism have to take the low road as the norm and the uplifting as the exception? I would love for just one day all news, radio, paper, etc to report nothing but useful, positive, good news….perhaps we could have one day a week where that was all that was reported? You’re right…that’s fantasy, but I can dream.

To kick off a bit of good news reporting myself, I have to share that my son has begun soccer practice and all three kids are rehearsing weekly for a local homeschool production of Broadway Dreams.  Many homeschooled kids auditioned and were selected to sing several solos, duets, and ensembles.  They will have four performances in November consisting of selections from musicals, movies, and television shows.  We’ve been making use of a bigger kitchen and cooking a lot of homemade meals and treats.  This time of year is perfect for culinary curiosity and exploration.  Right now, my family is my bright spot in these uncertain times.

They say that “its all about perspective!”  One personal coping technique I use to deal with a less than optimal reality is to read real life stories of people who’ve had far worse stories to tell than me.  The book I’m reading now to give me a different perspective is “The best Day the Worst Day” (Life with Jane Kenyon) by Donald Hall.  The story is about two authors who marry in spite of their huge age gap.  They are passionate about poetry and writing.  Jane gets Leukemia and the story is his detailed account of his daily routines, his thoughts, and observations.  I’m more than halfway through the book and read a bit each night before going to sleep.  His writing style is thorough and contemplative.  It will definitely drive me to read more of his works.

How do you cope with the daily grind and mullygrubs?

Posted in Relationships

A Gender Betrayed

Women may agree with an assessment I’ve come to conclude–men just aren’t ready for marriage or committed relationships until they’re at least 30 years old or so.

The seed of these thoughts emerged while I was showering this afternoon after my treadmill workout.  And please forgive me, there may be exceptions to what I speak, however, I’ve yet to meet one:  A man, who is a true asset, a compliment to his wife, mature enough to journey in lock-step with his bride–without causing grief, sadness or disappointment – regularly.  Maybe its circumstance, maybe a combination of a lack of instruction, poor communication skills, or that we’re really as fragile as the fairer sex are accused of being?

When I reflect on my own relationship with my wife, I can honestly say that I wasn’t fully prepared for the reality of dealing with young children.  I knew that I wanted a family, and was in love with the idea of being a dad, but man is there a lot of work, repetition, and challenge with caring for our young.  NOTHING in life, except experience prepares you for the reality of being one hundred percent responsible for the care and health of another human being!

labrador puppy at age 2 months
Image via Wikipedia

During the child-rearing years of family, both husband and wife, dad and mom need to be a team–on the same page!  Too often because of the tolerated and accepted stereotypes of testosterone carriers, we’re let off the hook, excused from particular parenting chores and responsibilities because we’re ‘not used to it’ or ‘not as good as it.’  The new world of parenting and navigating the emotional landmines of decisions often lands squarely on the woman.  Late nights with sick children, taxi service and household management when the husband is away on business trips; more on her plate.  The laundry service, the menu planning, cooking, baking, doctors appointments, clothes shopping, parent/teacher conferences, enrollment in clubs and athletic teams…it never ends.  Parenting is the boot camp of independence for many women who learn in the school of unfair and hard knocks that they can stand on their own two feet and don’ t need a man to be a success.  Frustration is the bitter wine shared between the lonely stay at home mom and the dad who all too often puts self before the family.

In many respects, we’re like a young Labrador pup!  You know how they are?  Running through the house, playful, cute….and destructive!  Lordy, the trash isn’t even safe in a home with one of these best friends!  One morning, you’ll awaken to find your favorite slippers torn and soggy; or groggily walk down the stairs to get your morning coffee and step into a pile of puke on the last stair step.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun, look adorable in pictures, even more serene and attractive when asleep.  The commitment level associated with the care of a young pup is a long-term endeavor.  Notice any parallels ladies?

While finishing up my shower with these thoughts racing through my head I felt great compassion for my wife and this same story that is being played out on life’s stage throughout the world every day.  It DOESN’T have to be this way, but it won’t change until our theories and instruction for future generations are shown that gender is not an excuse for poor communication skills, respecting boundaries, being consistent or holding true to our commitments.  I really think the whole marriage vows practice should be re-examined and revised, that interpersonal relationship skills should be a course taught in school and required for any couple who find out they’re expecting!

I have four older sisters, have been married for almost 19 years, and have two daughters and one son–been surrounded by estrogen my whole life–and think I have the inside scoop!   I believe that civil society would be better off worldwide if both genders were on equal footing.  Guys, we have so much to learn and much work to do within ourselves.  It’s not all about toys, fun, fame, power or control!  There’s a deeper purpose and meaning to our existence, its time we explore together and help each other be better men.  Our wives and women worldwide deserve it.

Posted in Relationships

Married and Wondering “Do You Love Me?”

Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio
Image via Wikipedia

The point of this post is to unravel the mystery of how time and circumstance impact your relationship with that person you agreed to spend the rest of your life with.  There are bound to be variances of this tale (some more positive, some more negative) depending upon the support systems and quality of commitment to the communication aspect of the marriage.

My wife and I have celebrated 19 years of marriage on June 20th.  We’ve had three children and moved across the country five times to find a new home and start again–the military is a great way to broaden your horizons ya know!  Our twin daughters came after 3 years of marriage, four years later, our son was born.  My wife and I are very cerebral people–always thinking, contemplating, strategizing–we enjoyed the spontaneity of our pre-child years.  It hasn’t always been the romantic image of wedded bliss one dreams of during the engagement.

Having children begins the truest test of your marriage relationship.  Its easy to have a discussion or debate about differences between two people when there are no distractions or competing deadlines/priorities.   This discussion/discovery phase is natural and necessary to blend two lives together.  But, all of that gets put on hold once children enter the picture.  The real challenge is continuing that blending process with two people who have at least eighteen years of baggage (different backgrounds) while discovering how to share the parenting responsibilities.

No matter how prepared you think you are, or how many discussions you have with your wife prior to the arrival of your children, you will not explore every possible parenting scenario.  The result is unmet expectations and some Children Change Your Lifedisappointments.  This is true for both husband and wife, but especially true for the male in the equation.  Maternal instincts are very real and hormone changes in a woman post-delivery helps them to be very protective and confident about what needs to and must be done.  As a man, you may feel like you’ve taken the back seat and your once “I have all the time in the world for you” sweetheart has been replaced with M. O. M.  and you may be struggling with feelings of abandonment or maybe a sense of having lost your purpose/mojo.  Now there are exceptions and variations to the dynamics I’m telling you about from couple to couple.  No two marriages are the same.

So….fast forward to the point your eldest children are in middle school or high school.  If you take stock/inventory of your relationship and are honest, you’re probably not as happy as you could be or thought you would be when you said “I do” all those years ago.  Some days, life is like “Ground Hog Day” or “Oatmeal…again?” (those references are related to how you view your emotional status from day to day) Some days its hard to feel like life is about anything other than work!  Other days, you’re surprised with amazement at how great or proud you feel.

My wife explained it best using an analogy.  If you’ve ever visited the deserts of Nevada, you’ll see a lot of interesting shaped rocks and boulders.  They didn’t obtain those shapes and textures overnight.  It took years of sandblasting winds and rushing torrents of water to sculpt these beautiful creations.  So, when she says “I look in the mirror and don’t even recognize the person I am!” she’s right–she isn’t the same person!  Time, situations/environments, events, gains and loses have changed the person she was.  The same has also happened to you.

I was reminded during our conversation about the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” and the song Tevye and Golde sang to each other “Do You Love Me?’  Here’s an excerpt…

“(Golde)
Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”

“Copied from lyricsondmand.com”

In addition to time and circumstance she has truly become someone else.  A code developer who loses his job and gains employment as a cab or delivery driver after a couple of years will notice diminished capacity at developing code for applications.  You know the expression, if you don’t use it, you lose it!  Same transformation holds true for people on a personal/relationship level.   After so many years, she becomes a logistics, navigator and event planner expert.  Her conscious day to day skills are honed around being the person who schedules the babysitter, and juggles the events schedule for figuring out how much time between grocery shopping and getting the oldest child to the soccer field.

Life is often more challenging for women than it is for men because they have to cope with our lack of interpersonal skills.  We generally aren’t taught or encouraged to communicate on all levels well enough to share the workload of house and family in a way that a woman would consider equal.  We’re not taught how to BE a person of encouragement and support–considerate, gentle, thoughtful–enough to slow down and think of someone beyond ourselves.  Another way its challenging for them is there are many families where both parents work…so stop and think a minute about how many hats she’s wearing!  It’s sometimes hard for a woman to “feel” anything other than tired.

Too often we men think in the “ME” context.  Now, being objective about myself, I do a lot more than most husbands today–laundry, cooking, schoolwork grading, cleaning, full-time job outside of the home, dates with the kids.  But I haven’t always been where I am today.  I went through too many years where the job was #1…and my marriage suffered for it.  So, I guess I’m spilling my life story to you all (especially the men!)  to spare you some grief.  Talk to your wife–on second thought, don’t…LISTEN to your wife.  Hear what she has to say (often she just needs to vent) and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.  Most importantly, in whatever way you can be supportive, be CONSISTENT!  Find ways to SHOW you appreciate her. Share the household schedule/chores to allow her a chance for a break without interruptions or demands.

I close this post with something for you to think about:  “LOVE IS A VERB!”  Words mean nothing without action. Do your best to exercise your communication muscles daily–don’t give up and don’t lose hope!  Kahlil Gibran said, “Let there be space in your togetherness”  Don’t forget to allow yourself to be vulnerable to other people outside of your marriage who you feel safe with.  Sometimes you too need to vent.  Another person’s perspective on your situation can sometimes slap you out of your own pity party and put your mind on a better path!

Peace–let me know your thoughts, and if you’re further down the road (years of marriage) than me, and can offer another perspective–please share.  I would love to be prepared for the next 10 years of marriage.

Posted in Relationships

From Passion to Parent – We Men Can do Better

Gentlemen,

I’m writing because there’s something that must be said.  I speak from personal experience, both as an observer from childhood and as a husband/father.  We can do better!  Just ask your mother or your wife!  On the average, regardless of origin, age or class, women bear the brunt in the familial relationship.

I know there are exceptions and some men are great examples of how to be a true teammate in the marriage relationship.  Most women however could, can or have thought the following:

How is it that even though we both work, I still end up doing most of the:

Grocery shopping/menu planning
Cooking/cleaning
Arranging for babysitters
Picking up the kids from school when one gets sick in middle of the day
Staying up with sick kids in the night
Handling the more emotionally sensitive discussions

Now I realize that some of you may bristle at reading this post.  If the truth fits though, perhaps there’s some chance/hope of change.  Most fathers begin their parental journey lacking necessary skills to embrace the responsibility in a fashion that allows women to feel they are “on the same page!”  Many of us are too absorbed in the feelings of loss created by displacement in what seems relationship priority.  You may feel as though this bundle of joy has ousted you in #1 position with your bride because you’re not able to spend the kind of time you used to spend with her.  You may also feel like no matter what you do, it doesn’t seem to be good enough.

This relationship evolution (from the passionate/blissfully spontaneous intimacy of just the two of you, to a now exhausted, frazzled, lets  just stay at home)  will never remain static.  Get used to constant change and many surprises.  If you find yourself in a rough patch, relax–its normal and it won’t always be like this.  The parenting years are some of the most stressful and create a great deal of introspection and comparison between how you remember being parented (what was and wasn’t okay) and how you want to parent.

The real key to harmony once you split yourselves up by creating more mini-miis is to mentally condition yourself to always approach every situation with a questioning mental posture.  If you attack the situation with suggestions and assumptions, you might as well take off your size 10 shoe and begin inserting into mouth!  Seriously, plan your time–print out a blank calendar each month and put the important things to accomplish on it and post it on the fridge.  If you don’t know what she’s planned, your spontaneous after work drinks with the guys just might have hijacked her schedule to have her one and only ladies night out event.  Guys, let me tell you, there’s no greater stress that having to juggle everything on that list above , maintain a house and full-time job!  Take inventory and see where you can help out.

Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, homework help…as much as you can anticipate and take care of  is greatly appreciated.  Where you begin to sense distance and coldness in your relationship is when she feels abandoned and saddled with the responsibility for everything.  She’ll be gritting her teeth, cleaning puke off the floor from one of your sick kids remembering “for better or for worse!” while you’re snoring away.  Its times like those that begin to create the irritable exchanges, the brief looks that once were longing, and the quick peck on the cheek instead of the passionate embrace.  Don’t let the little things in life, forgetfulness, procrastination, and obliviousness our gender is notorious for ruin the adventure of sharing your life with another.

Women, can I hear an amen?