October 27, 2011 By Chuck AllenIt may be hard to believe but those cute little critters you call pets are actually monsters. Well, they could become monsters – if you let Read More »
October 24, 2011 By Chuck AllenAh, vacation! It sounds so relaxing and fun. Images of lying on the beach or screaming on roller coasters dance in our minds. Packing is no Read More »
October 20, 2011 By Chuck AllenFighting back often means hunting down the monster. Most people assume that hunting begins with gathering the right equipment. Even in horror flicks the main character Read More »
October 17, 2011 By Chuck AllenWhy are all shows about marriage comedies? Whether it’s movies or television, if the main story is about marriage, comedy will abound. Sure, there are married Read More »
September 22, 2011 By Chuck AllenOne of the goals of this blog is to provide advice for men who are considering marriage. Women have strange rituals such as teas and showers Read More »
Tag Archives: Husband Skills
What would you be willing to do to improve your marriage? Attend counseling? Spend less time on a particular hobby? Laugh at your husbands jokes?
At times we have to do things specifically for our marriage. Some people take sabbaticals to focus on their marriage. Some people take the Love Dare. Some people take Vallium. Well, you get the picture. As the Easter holiday approaches there may be opportunities for you to take action for the sake of your marriage.
The action? Eating all the candy.
Husbands, if your wife has ever used one of the following phrases, then your action may be needed:
Does this outfit make me look fat?
I need to lose weight!
How many calories are in that?
I have nothing to wear! I’m going on a diet!
If your wife has used those phrases or similar phrases then it’s time for you to sacrifice yourself for her. By eating more than your share of the Easter candy you are helping to reduce her anxiety regarding caloric intake and scales.
Are you up for the challenge? Would you do anything for love? Even if that means downing the whole bag of pastel M&M’s or several Cadbury Creme Eggs?
I would do anything for love. Excepts Peeps. I won’t do that.
But seriously: Putting the chocolate bunnies and eggs aside, what would you be willing to do for your marriage? There is no magic list of marriage improving actions. You have to find out what your spouse wants and work to meet those needs. It may mean working less hours, going out on dinner dates, shopping together (egad!) or any number of things. Take some time today to ask your spouse what you could do to improve your marriage – and then do it!
Conversation is an art. It is more than just the verbal back and forth between two or more participants. It is a sport. No, not like horse shoes, more like tennis or field hockey. It requires skill and practice and uniforms. Ok, maybe not uniforms, but a good hat never hurt.
Unfortunately, many men approach conversation more like a kidney transplant than a sport. We just sit back and wait for it to be over. That is unfortunate. You don’t get to drink Gatorade with a kidney transplant. It’s for sports! Get in the game! (I apologize for that tirade. ESPN was playing in the background.)
There are hundreds of books that will coach you on how to be better at conversations. They offer great advice such as asking open ended questions or practicing active listening. But let’s be honest. When you have a spare hour to do some reading, which are you going to choose- Be a Better Conversationalist or Sports Illustrated? We all know the nod goes to whichever has the most pictures and/or whichever is sitting on the back of the toilet at the time.
So today’s post aims to provide the most important points for talking with our wives. To begin we have to understand a fundamental difference between the way we tell stories. Men tell stories to get to a point, a finale if you will. We don’t interrupt each other unless it is to interject snarky commentary or jokes. Women tell stories for art and community. Their stories are designed to be interactive with questions and verbal affirmations. Interrupting a story with a seemingly arbitrary question is encouraged and expected.
So in the next few points I will share questions that you can interject that will allow you to participate as your wife tells you about her day or her trip to the mall or her pedicure or…
What was he/she wearing? – Apparently it is important to know what various characters in the story are wearing. The fact that the cashier was wearing a pink shirt with a gaudy red hat may seem off the point, but don’t let that distract you. This is art!
Who are they friends with? – The story is not truly meaningful unless you know how the characters in the story are connected both to you and to others you may or may not know. “…so Jane’s friend Lucy – she is the one who dated Fred for a while – you know, Fred that works with Sherry – she was going to come to the lunch but…” For many men this can be distracting and hard to follow. It helps if you treat it like the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Who do they remind you of? – In addition to knowing what people are wearing and who they are connected to, it is also important to highlight any glaring lookalikes. It is not a problem if you have never even seen the person they look like it still must be called out. So if your wife is talking about her lunch date with her friends be prepared to find out that their waiter looked just like that guy from Days of Our Lives. And if she doesn’t tell you, ask.
But seriously: The real question is this: do you really listen when your spouse is talking? This is critical for both men and women. Truly listening to someone shows respect for that person. Are you listening?
What do you think? Add your comments below. (But please refrain from singing “R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me…”
For the past month I have taken a bit of a hiatus from writing. I’m proud to say that I did it for my marriage. I simply wanted to spend time focusing on my wife and kids.
Do you like how I did that? I totally passed my procrastination off as an admirable achievement. That is one of the perks of marriage- the “for my wife” procrastination and it’s the topic of today’s post.
Truth be told, I didn’t write much over the past month because I was busy, tired, bored, sick and caught up in the Christmas and New Year’s holiday madness. (You can translate that into “watching college football games” if you want.) Since I’m married, though, I can claim it as trying to spend more time with my wife. Having kids increases the effectiveness of the scam, but it’s just as useful – and cheaper in the long run – with just a wife.
The good side of this excuse is that it is next to impossible to disprove. After all, most couples only spend an average of 3 minutes a day with their focus solely on each other. In fact, those moments are so rare that many spouses fail to even notice they happened. All I have to do is remind my wife of one of those instances when we were alone together without distraction and I’ve probably made my point. And your spouse is the only one you have to convince. Outsiders are left wondering how you were able to focus your time on your wife and kids.
So men, if you’ve been looking for the perks of marriage, this is one of them. (Yeah, I realize that may be depressing to some of you but you will come to appreciate it around year 10.) Unmarried men can’t use this excuse. They are stuck having to fake illness or amnesia to explain their procrastination.
But seriously: The three-minutes stat was not exactly scientific, but the idea is unfortunately too true. How much time have you spent with your spouse without distractions this week? Brushing your teeth while she showers is not usually quality time spent together. Sending each other messages on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t count either. Plan some time today to give your wife your full attention. Wives, this can work for you too. Give your spouse what they really want – you.
What about you? How do you ensure that you and your spouse spend quality time together? What constitutes quality time in your opinion?
Have you suddenly found yourself in a silent world? Has your wife suddenly and inexplicably gone quiet? You may have just found yourself the target of the Silent Treatment. You don’t have to be married to experience the silent treatment. It appears to be a tactic used in all types of relationships. And it is not used exclusively by one gender. Both men and women have been known to employ the silent treatment as a form of relationship manipulation.
Since this blog is intended to assist my fellow husbands I will focus strictly on the issue from a husband’s perspective. Besides, we are usually the worst at handling it. We are often clueless as to the cause of the situation, causing confusion and frustration. Some guys don’t even notice they are getting the silent treatment because they have long ago tuned out the sound of their wife’s voice. For those of us who do notice, here are my tips for how to handle it.
1. Be Thankful – Before you get upset about your wife employing the silent treatment on you, take a moment to count your blessings. Realize that at this very moment there are men who would pay large sums for a few hours of not having to listen to their wives. Some men haven’t been able to get a word into conversations with their wives for years. In their eyes you have been given a gift so enjoy it for a few minutes.
2. Don’t Ask – The number one mistake most of us make is asking the question, “What did I do?” Don’t do that. The situation is a set-up. If you admit that you do not even know what you are guilty of then you have just given her additional ammunition. Now you are insensitive in addition to whatever crime you initially committed. It’s kind of like a lineman in football that suddenly jerks his hands back from a block as if to say “I didn’t do anything.” The referee will call holding even if they didn’t see what happened. Don’t help them out by your reaction.
3. Apologize – I realize that some of you may be shaking your heads at this point saying, “I didn’t do anything wrong!” This reaction is normal if you misunderstand what apologies are. Many people assume apologies are admissions of guilt – an admission of the losing side. I disagree. I see apologies similar to a punt in football. You are simply giving the ball to the other team in hopes of ultimately gaining better field position. Apologize to your wife with something like this: “I’m sorry I upset you.” That’s a clean punt. It states the obvious (you somehow upset her) without furthering the argument. And we all know that furthering the argument does nothing for the relationship – nobody wins. If you can punt and put your marriage in better field position, you would be stupid to try a fake.
So what do you think? Do you have any tips for handling the silent treatment? Share them in the comments!
It’s nice to know the answer to a question before you encounter it. Today’s post aims to give you such answers. And today’s answer is “Yes, we need more hangers.”
Every married man will encounter mysteries. One of those mysteries for me has been my wife’s infatuation with clothes hangers. How many clothes hangers does one family need? Apparently, the answer to that question is a number somewhere near infinity.
I knew that two hangers were used in an attempt to unlock the car and retrieve my keys. One hanger was used trying to clean out a drain pipe. I might have broken one or two more, but the math was still not adding up. I became convinced that she must be building some type of fantastic contraption. After all, what else would you do with a gazillion coat hangers? I searched the yard for her hanger-constructed club house, but found nothing. I eventually have come to realize that hangers disintegrate into thin air. I know it defies logic, but most things my wife teaches me defy logic. I like to think of it as real-life science fiction.
The other day I was buying my wife some new jeans. As the clerk was putting them in the bag she asked me casually, “Do you want the hangers?” Only after I responded did I realize the impact that marriage has made on me. Almost without hesitation I responded, “Yes, we need more hangers.”
Every married man will eventually be asked to tell how long they have been married. While the question seems very innocent, everyone knows that the question is a loaded weapon. Miss that question and you obviously are not a caring husband. Miss that question and you might as well crawl away to wherever it is that loser husbands congregate.
On the surface I will admit that it seems odd that men, who can often remember the exact number of runs scored by a player in any given year of the last decade, cannot remember the date of their wedding. But that phenomenon is a distraction to the real issue. As I’ve mentioned before, the answer to this question is not as simple as it appears to be. The answer to that question appears to be a strange calculation based on moon phases, the curvature of space and the wife’s biorhythm. The only certainty that I have been able to deduce in my years is that it will be something other than what the husband claims it to be.
So what is a husband to do? How should we handle this tricky no-win situation? Here are four tactics you can employ:
1. Anticipate the question before it happens – I have already posted advice on trying to avoid the question all together by being vague. This is a critical skill for every husband to learn. Sometimes, though, a more direct approach may be needed. Just as some teams succeed by keeping their offense on the field for long periods of time, you may need an offensive strategy if a situation seems imminent. How do you go offensive in this case? Simply ask first. If you feel the room shifting and the question being set up, simply make some comment about your relationship and then ask your wife if she remembers how long you’ve been married.
This tactic may require some practice in the mirror as the key is to sell the impression that you know the answer and think she does not. I must also urge caution with this tactic. If your wife is quick and knows that you are bluffing she may offer you a wrong date to let you prove your ignorance by agreeing to it. Its a plan, but its not fail-proof.
2. Plan ahead – For any future husbands that may be reading this, let me offer one of the best strategies for dealing with the situation: Pick a wedding date that is easy to remember or unique enough to start conversations.
Easy to remember dates are limited in number for many of us because very few women will agree to get married on Christmas or New Year’s Day. Getting married on Super Bowl Sunday will work against you and is not a fixed date anyway. Try for something a little more subtle. Pick the date that your favorite player reached 400 home runs or first ran for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. The downside to this is that your anniversary will fall during the sports season, but it will be easy to remember. If you were born in a month that does not conflict with your favorite sports season, you can marry on your birthday. That would be easy to remember, but may require you getting married in the middle of the week depending upon the year.
Unique dates can be helpful if you can arrange it. In my case my wife and I married on Leap Day. Usually as soon as I say “We only have an anniversary every four years” the conversation moves away from “how long” to the eccentricity of the date. Dates that qualify as eccentric are limited, though. Leap Day only comes around every four years, obviously, and I already mentioned that the major holidays are probably out of the question. Try minor holidays like Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day. (NOTE: Those are minor in the US. You may need to modify that list to fit your country.)
3. Use humor – One of the best options may be the use of humor. One major caution here: practice this ahead of time!
Humor can be a great way deflect attention away from you and the question, but we need to realize that what we find as humorous is not always humorous to our wives. That is why I do not suggest you practice this tactic extemporaneously. You should carefully craft a few humorous responses and think them over before using them. You will likely need something better than “What? I’m married? So that’s what this ring is for?” to successfully avoid the question. Try responses such as “It couldn’t have been long since my wife is still so young” at your own risk. If it sounds like sarcasm you may be making matters worse.
4. Give only the year – If you didn’t plan ahead and are not comfortable with the risks of using humor, your best bet may be to offer only the year. The premise here is that it is easier to remember four numbers than eight. If you can somehow etch the four digit year into your brain you maybe able to stumble out of the question with a quick response: “We were married in ’91.” It can be surprising, though, how elusive those four digits can be. You may want to consider tattooing them on your wrist for quick reference.
So there you have it. That’s the best advice I can offer based on my experiences. What about you? Do you have some other suggestions for how to handle the “how long” question?
I loathe self proclaimed experts. People who claim to be experts are usually just as lost as the rest of us, but they have figured out a way to sell that to us. If you hear an expert introduced, count to ten and you will probably hear a sales pitch coming your way. I don’t even like self-help books for the same reason, although I will admit to being suckered into one every now and then.
With that said, I am no expert. This blog is not intended to be authoritative (unless you’re a publisher, if so, give me a call and I’ll give you my credentials.) The truth is I love to write and need the practice. I also love being married. Since my wife and I have been married for many years now, I thought it might be fun to pass along the few lessons I have learned to my fellow travelers on this journey of matrimony.
Hidden within the last paragraph is today’s topic – Anniversary Snares. (The fact that spell check just corrected my misspelling of “anniversary” should emphasize how deeply disturbing the topic can be to any husband.) Notice that I mentioned my wife and I have been married for “many years.” I’m not trying to hide anything there, I was being intentionally vague. Rule one is never give specifics about your anniversary unless you are backed into a corner. If the topic of your marriage comes up, have a few vague answers ready. If you can slide some flattery in it will increase the odds that you will not be cornered for specifics.
Here is an example: “Marriage to Kristy is so wonderful that years seem like mere days.” Take note to include your wife’s name in the statement if possible. While you can get by without remembering specifics of your anniversary, it is a requirement that you remember your wife’s name. You might as well make it known that you have met the minimum requirement. Also notice how the sentence deflects the conversation to “days” and not years. You want to make sure that your statement does not end with the word “years” as the next logical question will be “So, how many years has it been?” Phrases such as “time stands still” will help to signal your listener away from specifics about time or date.
It is important that you stick to this rule – even if you think you know the exact date of your marriage!
One thing newlywed husbands sometimes fail to notice is that there is no correct answer to the question “How long have you been married?” The reason for this is that women change the answer. Because men often think in a linear, problem-solving fashion, we tend to believe that the answer to the question should be easily calculated by some difference between the current date and the oft-forgotten date of our marriage. We are wrong. Women apparently track time along an emotional and creative time line which can cause the answer to fluctuate, creating a 99.9% chance that the answer will be something other than what you say it is.
So what do you do when you are finally cornered and asked for specifics? Even your best deflective vagueness will occasionally be challenged by one of your friends wives. I have never witnessed this, but I am certain that wives give each other high-fives when one of them corners a spouse with the “how long” question. I imagine they have a secret pact to do this as often as possible, but I digress. I actually have several strategies that you can employ for this situation, but I think they warrant their own post.
Do you have any deflective and vague sentence suggestions that husbands can use? Or perhaps a horror story of being cornered with the “how long” question?