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The Worst Season

sick


I’m sorry to tell you but It’s fall and that means the start of the “flu season.”

I’m scheduled to get a flu shot this week which is supposed to help but I’ve found it’s not exactly the perfect force field the flu shot marketers would have you think.

No matter the superpowers you think you have, you’ll get sick eventually. Times of sickness come in all marriages, often unexpected and always inconvenient. The “in sickness” part of marriage will inevitably invade your life and put your happy day in the toilet.

I remember the last time I got sick. It was the stomach bug type of sick and it rendered me useless. The fever made summer feel like the arctic even in my warm bed and extreme energy reserves were needed just to shuffle to the bathroom. I’ll spare you the other unattractive details of the “flu like symptoms” but I was totally out of it. Then as soon as I was starting to feel life creep back into my body, the kids got sick, and then my wife. The rolling tide of family sickness is a special type of terrible.

Physical illness is not only a medical problem, it easily becomes a relationship problem if not handled well. Strangely enough the time your spouse is sick can actually provide relational connection if you know what to do.

1. Provide comfort.

Comfort can be provided in a number of ways. You can make chicken noodle soup, provide a cool washcloth, or another blanket. Comfort can also include sympathetic and soothing words. Ask how you can help them feel more comfortable and be extra understanding and polite if they give you a half-awake grumble in response.

2. Give space.

When your spouse is feeling sick, provide them space to rest. This means give them actual physical distance from people and set up their environment for rest. For example: dim the lights, play soft music, avoid cooking deep fried catfish, and entertain the kids as far away as possible. Giving space can also mean giving them a break from intense conversations like talking about the bills or the next holiday with the in-laws.

3. Hold down the fort.

When your spouse is sick, you have to understand they will not be doing their normal routine. Step it up and get things done. It will mean the world to your spouse if you can keep the house reasonably clean and take care of the kids. If this means you need to feed the kids, Chuck-E-Cheese is a good option, besides, it’s likely far enough away to provide your spouse needed space.

The amount of comfort, space, and household tasks you need to provide depends on the personality and desires of your spouse. The important part is to be responsive to what they want. When your spouse is sick it’s a great time to show them your love. The “in sickness” part of your marriage vow is put in there to remind you to love and to cherish, not only because you have to endure their sickness, but because your marriage connection can deepen when their needs are met.

4. Celebrate health.

When you and your spouse are back to full health again, celebrate! It’s amazing how good it feels to feel good again. After feeling sick, even the simple things like eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and keeping it down is worth celebrating. If sickness is a reminder of how fragile health is, returning to health is a great reason to celebrate.

What do you want from your spouse when you are sick? What does your spouse want when they are sick?

She Sheds and a 3-Step Recipe for a Happy Marriage

Recently I came across this short article from Today.com describing a new trend. She sheds.

How my ‘She Shed’ improved my marriage

She sheds are a place, like a shed, designed as a type of hideaway for women. The separate place is intended to serve as a retreat in which they can reduce distractions and relax. The unique private place allows space to feed her soul and help her recharge.

It’s somewhat of a play on the concept of a man cave, a space where a man can enjoy “manly things” typically a big TV with sports or adventure movies playing loudly on surround sound. A man cave provides space for him to retreat into his interests.

I love the idea of a she shed. When my wife gets tired and overwhelmed with the three boys in her life, I’ll just send her to the shed. Oh, that’s right, I don’t have a tool shed. We keep the tools in the garage. Perhaps she would like to spend some relaxing time in the she garage?

She sheds sound about as realistic as living on the moon. Where are the children of these women with she sheds? I’m sure every mother would like (needs) a she shed where she can get away temporarily but is that even possible? Mothers often can’t even use the toilet without young children interrupting. I’m sure no three year old is going to understand and respect the intended privacy of mom’s getaway sanctuary in the back yard.

Kidding aside, this she shed seems awesome. The owner of this she shed, Barbara Techel, is a blogger who uses her she shed to write her blog and her books. Now that is something I could use.

My favorite part of the short article is the quote by the author talking about how her she shed has benefited her marriage. Barbara says about her husband John:

He “gets it” and understands that by honoring and respecting my needs, in turn, it makes for a happy wife. Which in turn makes for a happy husband. And yes, a happy marriage.

Now that’s a great 3-step recipe for a wonderfully happy marriage.

  1. Understand your spouse’s needs.

    Understanding your spouse may feel like an impossible task. Start by asking them. Say “Hey babe, what are your needs.” Perhaps not every spouse will easily articulate their needs. Our deeper emotional needs often feel risky to share. Our wants are often much easier to identify because they don’t have the emotional consequences or the risk of rejection. Communicating your deeper emotional needs is a skill you must intentionally develop. Sharing with your spouse on an emotional level will dramatically improve your connection in marriage. When you ask your spouse what their needs are be prepared to implement the next ingredient in the happy marriage.

  2. Honor and respect their needs.

    It’s critical, once you have discovered and understand your spouse’s needs, to validate them as important. It’s not enough to simply understand, you must take action. For Barbara Techel’s husband, John, it meant building her a she shed to provide for her need to have her own space. You don’t have to convert your tool shed into a retreat center or turn your formal dining room into a sports center man cave. For you, respecting your spouse’s needs could look very different. It could be providing relaxation for your spouse by putting the kids to bed while she enjoys a bath or taking a family vacation to the ocean.

  3. Enjoy a happy spouse and a happy marriage.

    The only part left is to celebrate and enjoy a happy marriage. I’m not sure about Barbara and John but I have a feeling they don’t spend all of their time in their separate spaces. Happy couples know how to connect emotionally and provide appropriate space in their marriage. They are happy because relational needs are met and therefore both their time together and away from each other benefits their connection. Perhaps a she shed will meet your needs and improve your marriage. However you and your spouse are able to meet each others needs, a happy marriage ultimately comes from wonderful connection to each other.


View the original article by Barbara Techel on her blog, Joyful Paws

Watch Barbara Techel being interviewed on Weekend Sunrise, the Australian version of the Today Show.

View pictures of a variety she sheds


Go Deeper.

If you want to learn more about how to communicate for better connection in your marriage you are in luck. I’m putting the finishing touches on my new course

30 Days of Better Communication 

30 Days of Better Communication consists of 30 daily lessons to help you enjoy better connection in your marriage through better communication. Launch date is July 1. Make sure to join my email list to get all the details and be the first to receive it.

The Funny Thing About Humor in Marriage (And 6 principles for more fun in your marriage)

Laughing couple

Humor and fun are critical to a great marriage.

The more humor you have in your marriage the more fun your marriage will become. Having fun together is seriously one of the best things for strengthening your connection in marriage.

See what I did there? Fun is serious. So poetic.

I wish I could say life is always fun and only awesome things happen when you are married. Life has served my wife Hollie and I a dose of serious in the last few months. We’ve struggled at times to find humor in life in the midst of worry and uncertainty. In seasons of stress and chaos humor seems far away. It may take time to trudge through the desert but always be on the lookout for the oasis of humor in your marriage.

oasis

2 benefits of humor in your marriage.

  1. Laughing is healthy. I’m not a doctor but humor is good for your body. I came across a great article on the 7 Health Benefits of Laughter If you clicked on the link you will notice they suggested one of the benefits of laughing is an ab workout. That’s probably a bit of a stretch, I doubt anyone has ever developed a six pack simply from laughing. The other 6 seem legit and having fun is clearly good for your body.
  2. Having fun is well…fun. Having fun is a benefit enough. If you don’t have humor in your marriage you likely think marriage sucks. When you make your marriage fun you will like it more. You don’t have the wrong partner, your marriage is not a doomed, you simply have a fun deficit.

2 common ways couples fail at humor

Just like honesty, you can do humor wrong in marriage.

  1. Refrain from the humor blame game. Saying “It’s your fault we never have any fun” isn’t funny and it kills the mood. Blaming your spouse for the lack of fun in your marriage is damaging to your connection. If your marriage is dull, come together and think of a solution, not an excuse.
  2. Using your spouse as an object of critical humor is the worst. Many comedians specialize in putting people down as their brand of dark humor. This is a terrible idea for marriage. There is nothing worse than using humor to criticize. “I was just kidding” doesn’t even start to undo all the hurt from the cutting remarks you made to others at the expense of your spouse.

2 ways to regain humor in your marriage

  1. Remember the fun times you’ve had together. Recalling time in the past when you laughed is a good way to rekindle fun. Think of inside jokes and crazy stories you share. A while back I got locked in a bathroom at a funeral. The little bathroom was right next to the seating area of the funeral chapel. The door knob was old fashioned, the type that wobble too much. The door knob wouldn’t open the door. I panicked and shook the door knob as vigorously as possible to avoid disturbing the somber funeral gathering only feet away. I ended up knocking on the door while inside. Thankfully my wife rescued me by opening the door from the outside. We looked at each other wide-eyed and shared a silent-as-appropriate-for-a-funeral laugh.door knob
  2. Do something fun with your spouse today. Recently Hollie and I went to see comedian Ken Davis. It was a great way to relax and enjoy good humor together. It’s true, delaying pleasure to meet long term goals is a sign of self control and wisdom, but all work and no play makes a dull and boring marriage. There is deep wisdom in joy. Enjoying time with your spouse is one of the best investments you can make in life. You have permission to have fun with your spouse. Go get ‘em and have some fun. Today.

BONUS tip:

Have fun with other couples. A few years ago Hollie and I went to see the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in person. It was a blast seeing behind the scenes of the show and getting to shake his hand when he walked out on stage. The thing I remember most is how much the audience laughed. I enjoy a good Jay Leno joke but when I was in the audience live, I laughed at everything. Laughing with others is powerful and more fun.


If you are serious about having fun I have a recommendation: Listen to my friend’s podcast “Shop Talk with Ken

ShoptalkheaderMy friend Ken Moore is funny. His podcast “Shop Talk with Ken” is pure random fun. Listening to Ken’s podcast is almost as fun as hanging out with Ken. He’s a natural humorist, umm the word humorist sounds way too formal, simply said he’s a funny guy. I especially enjoy his podcast because it’s clean humor without all the crude of some comedy shows.

From time to time I write a funny blog post about marriage. For more fun check out these other funny posts from MakeSomeWonderful.com

The Miracle Technology Every Marriage Needs

6 Terrible Dating Techniques of Taco Bell Guy and What to Do Instead

A Hot Valentine’s Day

4 Marriage Lessons from Sour Milk

milk


I never feel more apologetic than when I clean the back seat of the car. In those moments I apologize to my car for having children. Last summer our car smelled. Bad. Upon further investigation we discovered a long hidden sippy cup lodged under the seat. It had been filled with milk and given to one of our sons and at some point in the chaos of child transport it was forgotten. Until the smell. The first day the smell arrived it smelled like something had died along the road, like we passed roadkill along the way. The smell was disregarded as we got out of the car. By the second day of the smell it was clear the roadkill was somewhere in the car. We cleaned the car and found the cup. The sour smell was overwhelming and the sick feeling was made worse when we discovered the smell was not only from the cup of sour milk but that the milk had spilled onto the floor of the car. We scrubbed, we removed the seats, we scrubbed and washed and air freshened. Eventually the smell diminished but the smell still lingers in my memory.

The sour milk tragedy reminds me of the interaction cycle of some couples. In life and marriage not everything works out perfectly. Mistakes are made, miscommunication happens and hurtful words get flung around. For healthy couples these difficult times are no fun but they are quickly resolved and connection is restored. Unfortunately, some couples ignore the mess and conflict hoping it will go away. Their conflict continues and their connection suffers until the smell becomes unbearable.

To avoid a sour milk marriage:

  1. Risk making a mess. First of all it’s okay to really engage in your relationship. You must risk vulnerability to connect well in your marriage. We are okay with living in our car. We want to engage with our children in the car which means risking spills and crushed fish crackers in the car seats. Don’t be so scared of making a mistake in your relationship that you suffocate authenticity.
  2. Take care. Although we allow our kids to eat in the car we also teach them not to be careless. We don’t expect them to never spill but we do expect them to learn. Invest in your relationship. Learn how to avoid relationship injuries. Talk to your spouse about ways you can reduce conflict. Get expert help when you are not sure how to connect well without fighting.
  3. Stop criticizing. It would not have helped to yell at our kids for spilling the milk. In your relationship it doesn’t help to shame your spouse. No matter how much you know about your spouse of how careful you are arguments will happen. Criticism destroys the foundation of trust in relationships.
  4. Clean up quickly. The main problem in our car was not that milk was spilled but that we didn’t clean it up soon enough. The warm summer days took our neglect and punished our sense of smell. When fights and arguments result in hurt feelings don’t just let it sit. You can take time to cool off if your argument gets too hot but don’t let it go days without working to resolve the tension. The longer you keep unaddressed conflict in your marriage the nastier it gets. Healthy couples quickly clean up the spills of relationship injuries.

6 Terrible Dating Techniques of Taco Bell Guy and What To Do Instead

guy in white shirt

The other day our family went out to eat at Taco Bell.* We set up camp near a young couple who appeared to be on a date. (Setting up camp is what it’s like to take two young boys out to eat anywhere.) Between directing our kids to eat their food, getting more napkins, and re-explaining the various types of cheese, we casually observed the date at the next table.

We learned a lot from watching the young couple set sail upon the waters of relationship building. Married folk like us may think we are way more advanced in relationships than this young inexperienced couple, but the lessons are for us too.

  1. Be the star of the show. This guy in Taco Bell talked non stop. He didn’t even pause while chewing his food. If your date wanted a show, they would have simply gone to a movie. For a real relationship to grow you must interact. When you spend time with your spouse, let them talk. Shut up enough to have a real conversation. Show your interest in your date by really listening to what they have to say.
  2. Talking and eating go well together. Occasionally we have to remind our three year old to use his manners, your spouse shouldn’t have to remind you. Simple manners like eating with your mouth closed, are important for all relationships. Manners display a level of maturity and respect.
  3. As long as you are funny it’s fine to insult your date. The guy in Taco Bell was not complimentary of his friend. I don’t get that. She was spending her time eating with him, at least he could be nice, it’s not too much for her to expect. The same goes for your spouse, they agreed to marry you, at least use nice words, it’s a reasonable expectation. Humor is awesome but using humor to excuse criticism is a connection killer.
  4. Guard your stuff. The guy in Taco Bell was well past kindergarten; he should have known the concept of sharing. But when she reached for a nibble of his food he told her he was not sharing. Umm, it’s just one or two mexi-fries dude, you will survive without them. Married people can become overly possessive of their stuff too. If your spouse reaches for your phone or drives your car to work, don’t get upset. Healthy couples know how to share, willingly.
  5. Make your point clear by hitting. The guy at Taco Bell swatted her hand away when she jokingly reached for his food. This dating technique is a major problem. Never hit your date. Touching is an important way to communicate closeness, care, and connection in relationships. Hurtful touches, no matter the intention, damage relationship and destroy trust needed for building good relationships.
  6. Be stingy. From what I could tell, the guy in Taco Bell didn’t pay for her food. I know it may be old fashioned for the guy to always buy on a date, but it was Taco Bell, it wouldn’t have broke the bank. Married folk, avoid getting into a lifetime of deciding if it is his or her bill to pay. Combine your finances and live on a budget. Above all else, always be on the lookout for how you can be more generous toward your spouse.

What have you learned by observing other couples?

*This post was developed after observing real interactions while in a Taco Bell. In no way do I intend to disparage Taco Bell or anyone for eating at Taco Bell. Taco Bell is awesome. In this post I refer to the young man on his date as “Taco Bell Guy” because he was a guy in Taco Bell; he was not an employee of Taco Bell. While I observed individuals at Taco Bell I did not talk to them, I do not know them, what they were discussing, or the nature of their relationship. If you believe, through my descriptions of this couple, it was you, then I hope you learned something. You never know when you may be on a date next to a marriage counselor.

Photo credit:Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo