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Emotion

5 Strategies for a Wonderful Marriage Even When You’re Tired

Copyright: ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo


I don’t know about you but I get tired. I’ve felt weary, dreary, dog-tired, bone-tired, wiped out, and tuckered out. Perhaps you’ve felt the “I could use a nap” kind of tired or the “don’t talk to me, I’m totally drained” kind of exhausted. Different activities produce different kinds of tired. You’ve probably felt tired after mowing the lawn, attending a funeral, or arguing with your spouse.

No matter why you’re tired or what type of tired you feel, I guarantee it impacts your marriage dramatically. When you’re tired you misinterpret your spouse’s intentions, react harshly or withdraw completely. It’s no coincidence you argue with your spouse most at night. You’re both so tired you can’t think straight. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be fully energized to be a reasonable spouse. You can experience a wonderful marriage even when you’re tired.   

Admit you’re tired

Stop pretending you’re fine. You’re not fine, you’re exhausted. No matter what kind of tired you’re experiencing it affects you and how you relate to your spouse. Feeling tired makes you grumpy, impulsive, short-tempered, and defensive. Your communication sucks when you’re tired.

Action Point: Admit you’re tired. Tell your spouse what kind of tired you feel today. The more words you can use to describe it the better.

Give yourself permission to rest

Complaining about being tired won’t help you feel rested. The best thing to do when you’re tired is rest. Grouchy communication is always a bad idea. Give yourself permission to rest, sleep, and decompress.

Action Point: Tell yourself “It’s ok for me to rest” or tell your spouse out loud “go ahead and take a personal time out.” Then do it. Actually rest.

Bonus Point: Give your spouse permission to rest. It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to know when your spouse is tired. Give your spouse the gift of needed rest. Nothing will say “I love you” more than “I see you’re tired, go take a nap while I corral the kids for a while.” A well rested spouse is a well loved spouse.

Communicate beyond logistics

Logistics are simply talking to each other about what, when, and where. It’s reporting the observable facts of the day. Couples discuss logistics when they coordinate child care, decide what to cook for dinner, and identify how much money is in the checking account. The part of communication that goes unnoticed is the emotional content. Talking about why you feel a certain way tends to access more emotional content. Communicating on an emotional level with your spouse is the only path to intimacy.  

Action Point: Get the logistics taken care of in conversation with yours spouse but don’t stop there. Go deeper, connect on an emotional level. To level up your connection identify and validate your spouse’s emotions. If this seems impossible click here to get a wonderful resource I compiled for you; 19 questions to ask your spouse for deeper connection.

Adjust your schedule

Your schedule may be the reason you’re tired. The sheer pace of your life contributes to your weariness. Just because you’re tired doesn’t mean you get a free pass on your responsibilities but you can always make adjustments. If you find yourself chronically exhausted you need to adjust your schedule.

Action Point: Take a look at your calendar. Identify the time you’ll have together in the next week. Adjust your schedule by skipping some planned activities or work to add more quality time to your week. If you’re extra tired schedule a “mental health day” to rest.

Stay engaged with your spouse

You can’t solve complete exhaustion with a 30 minute nap. The fog of grief can drain energy for weeks and weeks. Parents of newborns experience chronic sleeplessness for many months. Luckily chronic exhaustion doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your marriage. No matter how tired you get you can stay emotionally engaged with your spouse.

Action Point: Thankfully you don’t have to wait until you feel energized and energetic to connect with your spouse. Sit close to each other even when you’re dog-tired. Tell each other “I understand why we’re tired, it’s pretty reasonable given what we’ve been through lately.” Connect well when you’re tired and it will come even easier when you both feel rested again.   

What makes you tired today? How does it impact your marriage?


 

Tired bear

8 Signs You’re a Lazy Communicator (and 8 Ways to Redeem Yourself)

Lazy couch potato


You’ve got to communicate great to be a good mate. Just because you’re talking doesn’t mean you’re communicating well. Some communication stinks like last month’s meatloaf or sour milk lost under the car seat. Couch potato communicators think they communicate fine but they miss the magic of great communication. What about you? Are you a lazy communicator?

You’re a lazy communicator if:

You communicate via technology only.

Texting is a brilliant way to miscommunicate. Texting makes the other person guess the tone and emotion of your message. If communication with your spouse consists primarily of texts and emojis you’re in trouble.

Stop hiding behind your phone and talk with your spouse face to face. Stop using technology as a crutch and seek real in person connection.

You communicate about logistics only.

“When is my dentist appointment?” “did you feed the dog?” “don’t forget to buy a birthday card.” Logistics are the basic tasks of daily life. Talking about logistics is important but shallow. Only lazy communicators stay stuck in surface level talk in marriage.

Ask more meaningful questions to boost your communication and connection. Check out the FREE resource I created for you. >>> 19 Questions to Ask Your Spouse for Deeper Connection.

You’re careless with tone.

Words matter but the tone you use to say them communicates over 90% of their meaning. For example lazy communicators say things like “Sure those smelly sweatpants look great on you, I love that poor hygiene look.” Sarcasm when arguing with your spouse is a super lazy way to communicate.

It’s fine to be silly and sarcastic with your spouse but don’t be lazy with your tone. If you’re always sarcastic and then you tell your wife “I love you” she’s not going to take you seriously and that’s a problem for your marriage. The same goes for an angry tone. If you spouse asks you “are you mad at me?” fairly often, you probably have an angry tone habit. Adjust your tone to communicate love.

You talk over others.

Talking without listening is just noise. Your ears can’t work while your mouth is moving. It’s obvious you’re too lazy to listen when you interrupt and talk over others.

Quiet down, slow down and really listen to your spouse for once.

You criticize.

No one likes internet trolls who boldly criticize anything simply for the sick pleasure of it. Criticism is cowardly way to communicate. Only the laziest take a hammer to dirty dishes to avoid the work of washing them.

You may need to ask your spouse to clarify if you’re unknowingly critical of them. Exchange criticism in your communication for affirmation. Check out these posts for practical ways to affirm your love for your spouse: The 5 Affirmations Every Wife Should Hear from Their Husband Every Day and 6 Affirmations Every Guy Wants to Hear from Their Wife.

You lie.

Lying for any reason is deadly for relationships. Some people justify lying by saying they’re reducing conflict. Skipping a shower for a month will reduce water usage but your spouse will lose respect for you. Avoiding conflict by lying never works in the long run. See my post 6 Exciting Reasons to Lie to Your Spouse.

The solution to lying sounds simple, always be honest. But we all know couples who are brutally honest with each other and it’s just brutal. You must pair honesty with love for relationships to thrive. 

You call people names.

Name calling shows contempt. It may work for presidential campaigns but it never works in marriage. We’re not talking about cute pet names couples use for each other. Calling your wife “babe” or “sweetheart” is not usually a problem if they like it. Calling your spouse curse words or even “stupid” or “ugly crier” is lazy and hurtful. 

Your words are powerful and names contain elements of identity. Rather than identifying your spouse with a derogatory term use empowering words to speak to their identity. Tell your husband “you are an amazing husband” often and he’ll believe it’s true about him. Behavior is a reflection of identity.

You yell to make your point.

When I traveled overseas I attempted to communicate with people who didn’t fully understand English. I found myself talking louder and louder. It didn’t help. I didn’t need to communicate louder; I needed to communicate in a way they could understand. Increasing your volume never makes you sound smarter.

Notice your volume when you talk to your spouse. Rate your volume on a scale of 1-10. One being a whisper, and ten being yelling at a Seahawks game loud. If all of your communication is above a 6 you’re a lazy communicator. Take down the volume and you’ll find your spouse (and children) respond much better to you.

What’s your lazy communication habit? How will you change it this week to connect better with your spouse?

Don’t forget you can get 19 Questions to Ask Your Spouse for Deeper Connection right now.

10 Things Only the Happiest Couples Know

18939654 - middle-aged couple wearing eyeglasses


Happy couples aren’t unicorns. Not that unicorns couldn’t make a happy couple it’s just that well, they don’t exist. The way some people talk you’d think happily married couples aren’t real either. Yes, the divorce rate is awful and many couples who manage to stay married are miserable, but happy couples are real. It’s like the M&M’s commercial where an animated M&M bumps into Santa Claus and in surprise they both mutter “He does exist.” Happy couples do exist and they’re actually not that rare. Happy couples are everywhere, a bunch of them probably even live in your neighborhood. Perhaps you and your spouse have even cracked the code and consider yourselves happily married. Two types of couples exist. Those who are already happy and those who used to be happy and want a happy marriage again. You have what it takes to live happily ever after with your spouse, you just need to know the secrets of the happiest couples.

Marriage doesn’t have to be hard work.

Walking on the beach in Hawaii is fun. Sure it takes more work than lying on the couch but walking in the surf and watching the sunset is so awesome it hardly feels like work.

Fighting is not required.

Fighting is so normal in marriage some people think it’s a sign of a good relationship. The happiest couples negotiate their disagreements without fighting.

You won’t be happy all the time.

Even at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, you get tired and grumpy. Emotions are important but temporary. The happiest couples know happiness is temporary but so is sadness, discouragement, and loneliness.  

Good communication is a skill.

The happiest couples don’t give up when they miscommunicate. They keep getting back on the bicycle after every crash. They know the thrill of deep connection comes by developing communication skill over time.

Thanksgiving is not just a day in November.

The happiest couples are thankful for their spouse. This perspective of thankfulness protects against selfishness.

Circumstances don’t determine your happiness.

Life is not all rainbows and sunshine. But it doesn’t matter what storms come your way when your marriage is a safe place. Even rainy days can bring a smile when you’re close to your spouse.

Touch is touching.

Affectionate touching link hearts. The happiest couples are comfortable touching each other. Physical touch sparks their romantic connection.

Contentment and striving for better are two sides of the same coin.

The happiest couples are perfectly content with their relationship the way it is AND they constantly strive to improve their connection.

Technology is simply a tool.

Tools are only helpful if used skillfully. A hammer can either build or destroy a house. The happiest couples use technology to connect with each other and are careful not to let technology distract them from face to face interaction.

Intimacy has many forms. 

Marital intimacy includes sex and much more. Emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy, physical intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and intellectual intimacy all support each other. The happiest couples invest heavily in all forms of intimacy.

What would you add? What is the secret to happiness in your marriage?

Facing Life and Death Moments in Marriage

couple on beach


This post is deeply personal. It’s somber and serious, joyful and hopeful, this is our story today.

Life is going to throw you hard stuff. I wish it wasn’t true but sometime in your marriage, probably without notice, you’ll face a crisis. Financial crisis. Medical crisis. Employment crisis. Parenting crisis. Emotional crisis. It feels like every day we learn about another couple facing desperate situations.

My mother-in-law passed away last week, September 1, 2016. She was an amazing lady who endured so much suffering in her life and still she remained full of faith and hope. The last eight months of her illness launched us out of our comfort zone and her passing leaves us extra emotional. We’re leaning heavily on God’s unfailing love as we fell the full impact of loss. 

When you find yourself facing life and death moments in your marriage:

Commit to what’s most important.

Crisis has a way of re-prioritizing life. Focus on relationships in the midst of crisis. Other goals and activities dim in importance when you are faced with a life or death situation. It’s not enough to identify your priorities, you must then commit to them.

Build a firm foundation.

No matter what season you’re in right now, invest in your marriage heavily. There’s no telling when you’ll face an impossible situation forcing you to rely on the foundation you’ve built. A feeble foundation won’t last when storms blow into your life. The foundation of trust and love Hollie and I have built over the years has provided us a solid marriage foundation from which we’ve launched into the scary unknown.

Communicate love.

Everyday, and especially when facing crisis, you must communicate love with your spouse. I believe every form of communication in marriage adds to or takes away from connection. Focus on providing affirming words to your spouse. The details about the dishwasher and the soccer schedule can wait. Use every opportunity when hearts are broken to pour love into your spouse.  

Allow for emotion.

Speaking of broken hearts and emotion, when you’re facing desperate times, expect a variety of emotions. Anger, sadness, joy, disgust, and fear are all invited to this party. Although it can feel like uncontrolled chaos it’s important to express your emotion. Properly expressed and validated emotion begins the process of regulating emotions.

Look for bright spots.

Crisis is certainly a stormy season but if you look closely you’ll find a silver lining or a ray of sunshine eventually. Hollie and I have enjoyed times of celebration when we’ve witnessed a medical miracle or remember the humor in her mom’s voice.

Let distance grow fondness.

You may have heard the saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” It’s been true for us while we’ve lived 500 miles apart. But distance only grows fondness if you commit to connecting and build anticipation for your return.  

Recognize exhaustion.

Exhaustion, especially emotional exhaustion, is a brutal bugger. It will drain you of your ability to think and respond rationally. That’s ok. You’re allowed exhaustion when facing difficult circumstances day after day. The important part is to recognize exhaustion as an understandable response rather than a personality flaw.

Appreciate facing big deeply profound moments together.

Hollie and I experience amazing times of connection simply by noticing how profound these moments are in our life. Facing life and death moments will either divide and destroy your marriage or strengthen your connection. Hold each other close and resolve to face the storms together. Reflecting on the enormity of the moments we’ve shared provides remarkable perspective on the privilege of being married to my best friend.

Rely on God.

Facing the scary unknown has drawn us closer to the one who holds the future and loves us more than we can grasp. We have found strength in weakness as we desperately ask God for continual direction and healing. The most intimate activity spouses can experience is praying together fully relying on God.  

What would you add to this list?

Share what helped you face life and death moments in your marriage.

Holidays & Grief

holiday grief peanuts


I can’t believe it’s been one year already.

Last November our family lost two loved ones. My uncle died unexpectedly on November 13 after a brief illness and my Grammy passed away on November 27, Thanksgiving Day 2014.

For our family the holiday season starts with remembering the pain of loss.

Not exactly holiday cheer.

We feel the loss renewed at the anniversary of their passing providing dramatic contrast against the backdrop of the holiday season when we are expected to be merry, lighthearted, and happy.

This holiday season we will miss family members who have been a part of the celebrations all my life. The warm feelings of comfort, joy, and peace of the holidays pair with reminders of profound loss and longing.

Our family is not the only one experiencing loss this season. I often think of a counseling client who lost his wife this year. He’s struggling to consider how he and his children will face Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time without their wife and mother. We are certainly not alone in our grief and neither are you.

Words are inadequate to completely heal grief but I pray the following words direct you and I to better journey this season of celebration and grief.

1. Remember.

Memory is a powerful tool intimately intertwined with emotion. In grief memory contains pain and sorrow but our memories also help provide healing. Now I’ll always remember Thanksgiving Day as the day we lost Grammy. It colors the day differently than before. As hard as it was to lose her on a holiday, seems appropriate to think of her that day because I’ll always be thankful for her influence on my life. Ignoring your grief may seem easier but it’s not a healthy option.

2. Cry.

Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion you’re experiencing today. In grief emotion seems to come in waves. Each of our emotions play an important part in life and in grief. Acknowledge grief and the accompanying emotion rather than trying to hide or stuff your real emotion.

3. Celebrate.

It’s ok to celebrate the holidays even as you grieve. Your traditions will never feel the same but finding your way to celebrate will help heal the raw pain of loss. In his classic book on grief, A Decembered Grief, Harold Ivan Smith writes: “Be guided by the reality that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays after a loved one has died.”

4. Gather.

As impossible as it may sound, do not give in to isolation in your grief. Surround yourself with others. You are designed for community. At Christmas we celebrate the reality that we are not alone. God is with us. Jesus also experienced grief following the death of his friend and met with others in his grief.

What has helped you the most in the past when you’ve faced grief during the holidays?


Other posts on grief and loss from Make Some Wonderful:

What your spouse really needs in times of loss

4 Steps to Overcome Loaded Loss

Minor Loss Matters in Marriage

Related– The Secret to Delighting Your Spouse This Christmas: A Life Lesson From My Grammy