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6 Exciting Reasons to Lie to Your Spouse

excited couple


Do you ever get tired of hearing honesty is the best policy? What about a little white lie or a crumb of dishonesty? The expectation for complete honesty in marriage is so restrictive and closed minded. Just because lying has a negative connotation doesn’t mean you can’t lie to your spouse. Lying can produce exciting results in your marriage. If you’ve been looking for permission to lie, you’re in luck; I’ve compiled a list of 6 exciting reasons to lie to your spouse.

bulldozer

You want to destroy trust.

No worries, trust is only the foundation of any good relationship, houses don’t need foundations. Just bulldoze the foundation, no one in the house will notice.

You hate intimacy.

Lying will make your partner cringe when they see you. This creepy-crawly feeling prevents closeness and good touch. No touching means no sex. Lying to your spouse will end sex forever. What could be better for a relationship than a dry deserted love life?

Arguments and verbal fights are your idea of a good time.

Lying is a great way to turn your marriage into an eternal tennis match of verbal abuse. Nothing is as exciting as knowing you have another emotionally painful argument waiting for you every night.

You’re trying to demolish your family.

A fun close knit family life is easily flushed away by a few lies. Dramatic conflict is a truly effective way to create anxious and angry children. Divorce is a predictable outcome of lying to your spouse.

You have too much money.

Lying is a great way to burn through cash. Lying about money is one of the most common lies people tell their spouse. It takes even more money to cover up the secret money you spent; it’s an exciting game to play and it easily relieves you of all that extra money. If that doesn’t work you can always hire a divorce attorney. They charge hundreds of dollars per hour and are quite skilled at…talking…slowly.

TV dinnerYou want to suffer a cold lonely marriage.

Living disconnected from your spouse is available for only a small investment of dishonesty. Your marriage could feel like eating a lukewarm Salisbury steak TV dinner alone for every meal.

Or you could develop a habit of honesty in your marriage. Your call.

For a less snarky post about honesty and the secret to doing honesty right in marriage read “Honesty is Powerful” <<<Click

Uugghh, You’re So Annoying

annoying couple


Recently I read a fun article from the Today Show. It reminded me of premarital counseling.

Every time I see couples for premarital counseling I have them discuss their expectations for household tasks. The exercise of discussing daily tasks like washing dishes, doing laundry, feeding the pets, and cooking food creates opportunities to discuss tension points. An unbalanced household workload is a MAJOR source of conflict in marriage. Resentment forms quickly when one partner feels they are doing everything around the house and their spouse is a slacker. If you cannot communicate well regarding simple household tasks, deeper, more intimate topics will be impossible to manage.

The article I mentioned from the Today Show is titled ‘Infuriating!’ Here are 5 of the most annoying household habits ever.

The folks at the Today Show did a little survey asking people about their spouse’s most annoying habits. It’s a short article, you should click it quick and read it.

They found the most annoying household habits ever are:

1. Leaving the dirty dishes in the sink

2. Taking other people’s food out of the fridge

3. Putting empty containers back in the fridge

4. Wasting paper towels

5. Not replacing the toilet paper roll

When I read the article I thought ut-oh! I’m guilty. I like paper towels. A lot. I’ll admit to overusing paper towels but in my mind I never waste them. I’m not sure about your house but in our house kids make messes. Ok, I make a lot of messes too but I’d like to think mine are more sophisticated adult messes like exploding spaghetti sauce in the microwave. But I never fear because the paper towel holder is near. I use paper towels for wiping the kitchen counters, cleaning chocolate milk moustaches, gathering smashed banana pieces off the floor, and cleaning out the stray coffee grounds from the coffee maker. Paper towels are clearly superior to a kitchen washrag because the dirty mess goes right into the garbage, not the sink. This saves a few unnecessary steps. My paper towel habit is not saving the trees, but it’s justified because it saves my energy and sanity.

paper towel


After reading the Today Show article I began to wonder if my habit was eroding Hollie’s sanity. Was I unintentionally the most annoying husband ever?

I didn’t know so I texted her “Do you think I use too many paper towels?” with a link to the article.

She responded back “that’s a fun article.”

Kind of left me wondering but at least it wasn’t “YES! It’s super-duper annoying.” So I’m thinking she doesn’t mind much.

If you ever wonder if one of your habits is annoying your spouse,

Think.

Come on now, just think about it for a second. You probably already know you’re annoying in some things because leaving dirty socks next to her pillow is the essence of annoying.

Listen.

You know that sound your spouse makes? It’s called talking. If you listen closely enough you’ll discover they’ve been telling you directly how annoying your habits are. When we grab fast food Hollie and I typically share a large drink. I drink the majority of it and she tells me “hey! You drank it all.” I’m pretty sure that annoys her more than using a bunch of paper towels.

Ask.

If you’re still not sure if your habit is annoying, ask your spouse. Ask them by text, with a silly voice or in a serious moment but ask. If you want to know something, you’ve got to ask. You may not want to know, afraid you’ll need to change. If you ask and your spouse responds “yes, that’s super annoying,” then you’ve put yourself in a position where you’ll either continue making it hard for them to love you or you’ll change your behavior.   

News flash! Changing your annoying habits to make yourself more tolerable and lovable in marriage is a no brainer. Showing you’re willing to do the difficult work of putting your socks in the clothes hamper could work miracles in your marriage.  

All relationships require adjusting. When we were first married I piled up dishes in the sink. As a bachelor my dishes strategy was to conserve effort and wash the dishes only when I had no more clean ones. The pile could build for over a week; I only had to do dishes a few times a month. After we got married I quickly discovered my pile up the dishes strategy wasn’t going to fly anymore. Eventually I learned to adjust and became more diligent about putting the dishes in the dishwasher.

Couples fit into one of two different communication ruts when addressing annoying habits.

Ignore and avoid

The ignore and avoid communication rut looks like couples who try to ignore their partner’s annoying habit. At first this looks like a good strategy, it reduces conflict and prevents sounding like a complainer. The problem is eventually, since the habit is quite annoying, avoidance takes over in everything. The tendency to avoid conflict leads to avoiding contact. Guys who ignore and avoid are silent at home but often have no problem spouting off the annoying habits of their wife when talking to their buddies on the golf course. When spouses avoid contact with each other, love drifts off.

To stop the avoiding communication pattern, be bold. Risk stepping on some toes, you’ll find honest, caring, and direct communication opens doors to really connect with your spouse on a much more intimate level.

Confront and conquer

The confront and conquer communication rut looks like couples who constantly nit pick at each other. Nearly all communication contains a critical tone. When others point out their criticism, they laugh it off and say “we love each other, that’s just how we communicate.” Yikes. Even if they try to shrug it off, the communication pattern is dangerous. Each partner feels attacked and actively defends their actions, usually by a counter attack. “I hate how you’re always coming home late!” “oh yeah? Well if you’d ever make dinner worth eating maybe I’d want to come home.” The attacks continue until one partner is conquered.

To stop the conquer or be conquered communication pattern, chill out. Apologize for your nit picking and give your spouse grace. Putting away your battle weapons will open doors to connect with your spouse in meaningful and intimate ways.

What’s your annoying habit?

How will you communicate with your spouse differently today?

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.

What I Learned about Zombie Movies and How it Can Save Your Marriage

zombies


The popularity of zombie movies is at an all time high. Nearly 50 zombie movies were made in 2015 alone. The Walking Dead, a TV show about zombies, is super successful and in its sixth season. Although zombies are fictional characters, thinking about the best way to react if zombies try taking over the world (the zombie apocalypse) is something many adults actually think about. I never really understood the attraction to zombies, until recently.

All I knew is zombies are disgusting. They’re grossly disfigured creatures who chase people by shuffling around and groaning. Due to my limited understanding of zombies, my co-workers gladly volunteered to educate me in all things zombie. Apparently zombies have their strange appearance and poor motor and verbal skills because they are not alive. But they’re also not dead. They are “undead” which is difficult to explain fully, even by so called zombie experts. A virus of some kind makes zombies animated enough to try to eat people, especially their brains. After this education I was informed but even less interested. Then a co-worker changed my outlook on zombie movies. She said “Zombies aren’t really the point, the stories are really about how the people overcome the problem of zombies.”

Now I get it. Zombie shows and zombie movies have the same story arc as all epic adventures. People face an impossible challenge which promises to destroy them. Through hardship and sacrifice people come together to overcome evil.

You may have little interest in zombie movies but the lessons from them could save your marriage.

Understand your spouse is not the problem.

During the first session of marriage counseling, I often ask couples to describe why they came to counseling. Each couple has their own style but most start by detailing the reasons their partner is a terrible person. “He’s controlling and lazy” to which he replies “she’s a liar and a complainer.” Couples who view their problems as central to their spouse’s identity never last. If you spend your entire marriage mistaking your spouse for a zombie you’ll both end up destroyed.

Identify the real problem.

Zombie movies do this well. The zombies are clearly the enemy, they’re trying to eat people after-all. The people must destroy the zombies before they become zombie dinner. You and your spouse must clearly identify the enemy and work together to destroy it before it ends your marriage. Marriage problems always come from outside and attack the marriage.

Embrace your true identity.

Each spouse is a hero. You’re the heroes in the story of your marriage. The problems you’ll face as a couple are like zombies. You can’t interact with them and try to talk them out of wanting to eat you. Start talking to your spouse like they’re the solution to the problem rather than the problem. People who team up against zombies have a better chance to win. Be the hero your marriage needs.

Team up.

Communicate your identity as a team by changing your words and tone from “they” to “we.” “He’s addicted to methamphetamine” becomes “we are facing the challenge of addiction” “She’s a liar” becomes “we are working on changing the environment of mistrust.” “He always acts so depressed” becomes “we are facing the challenge of mental illness and working to understand how it impacts our marriage.” “She always does her own thing” becomes “we are learning how to rely on each other while remaining individuals.”

Identify the problem in a way you can both attack.

If 37 zombies attacked your spouse at once, you wouldn’t stand around and hope your spouse survives, you’d attack too. Facing problems as a married couple will never work if only one person takes action. Both of you are heroes, neither of you should go alone or wait for the other to attack problems first. Avoiding problems never works in the long term. Defending against zombie attacks is good but doesn’t work as well as aggressively taking the fight to them.

Get some killer weapons.

Zombies are hard to fight off with bare hands. You and your spouse need to use available weapons in your battle against life’s problems. If money causes problems, get a budget and an accountant. If you’re facing communication difficulties get a good relationship book, or my 30 days of better communication course. If you’re facing intimacy issues, find a counselor. Get a weapon and destroy the problems violently.

What would you do to survive a zombie attack?

What’s your zombie apocalypse strategy?


couple with guns

Winter Driving and How to Avoid a Relationship Wreck

Stock photo of 1990 Ford Thunderbird Mine was cooler because of the Awesome Wheels but you get the idea
Stock photo of 1990 Ford Thunderbird
Mine was cooler because of the Awesome Wheels but you get the idea

In high school I drove a 1990 Thunderbird. A two door, rear wheel drive; bright red with matching custom red and silver wheels. Although it wasn’t my dream Mustang, it was a sweet ride, WAY cooler than my parents’ Taurus. The random license plate from the DMV included the letters ALW. I immediately named it Awesome Lindner Wheels. On warm spring days I’d cruise home from school with my left arm out the window temporarily transforming from a shy kid to a rockstar. Driving in the winter was a different story. Once the Awesome Lindner Wheels couldn’t even get out of the driveway trapped by only a few inches of snow. The rear wheels spun beautifully but the car didn’t move. A few years later while in college, I was showing off my driving skills with my girlfriend riding shotgun. The snow covered road took a slight curve to the left, I turned the wheel left but the car slid and continued straight, bumping into the curb with a jerk. I’m sure my face was red but I kept driving hoping the embarrassment was all the damage done. Nope. I broke the passenger side rear wheel.

In that moment, all the lessons my dad taught me about driving safely in the snow came flashing before me.

“If you’re not paying attention, you’ll be in a world of hurt.”

“I know dad, I’ll be careful.”

It may shock you but not every day in marriage is sunny and cheerful. The honeymoon rockstar feeling cools when a winter storm comes rolling in. Financial stress, medical problems, conflict with in-laws, poor communication, lack of intimacy, and parenting challenges can put a chill in your relationship. These times of marital winter weather will lead to serious damage to your marriage if you’re clueless or careless.  

Lesson 1. Slow down.

When you drive in winter conditions the most important adjustment is to slow down. Dad told me “only drive as fast as you would like to drive off the road.” Slowing down gives you the extra stopping distance you need to avoid a wreck.

In marriage it’s important to slow down when facing stressful situations. Most people try to speed up to get through problems faster. Big mistake. If you’re facing financial difficulties, it may be tempting to take on more projects at work and become hypervigilant about the electricity bill without discussing it with your spouse. Increasing your speed like this could result in dangerous resentment and animosity building in your marriage. The extra income you earn will never compensate for the damage to your relationship. Slowing down may look like taking extra time to plan together how to navigate your financial problems. Purposefully slowing down and focusing on each other will keep your marriage safe.

Lesson 2. Turn into the slide.

That day driving the Thunderbird, I failed this lesson. When I started sliding, I turned harder. My dad taught me to turn slightly in the direction of the slide. It will help correct the slide and straighten out your path.

The same for marriage. When your marriage is sliding toward danger lean in. It sounds counter-intuitive but if you ignore the crumbling connection or try to force it back to the way it was, you’ll continue into the ditch. Turning into the slide when you are in conflict about your in-laws may look like talking more about your family than you’re comfortable with. It’s really no fun to dive into the conflict and discuss touchy topics, but when you lean in and address the issue directly it will put you back on track faster.

Lesson 3. Watch out for the other people.

My dad always says “you may be a careful driver but there’s always an idiot out there somewhere, make sure you watch out for them.” Almost every time it snows here in Idaho I see the reckless person my dad warned me about. They’re going 20 miles per hour faster than everyone else, weaving in and out of heavy traffic like they’re NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson.

In marriage it’s critical to watch out for people and situations that’ll destroy your marriage. Some marriages rot from the inside out, conflict between partners burns out their connection. Other marriages are destroyed by outside influences. Beware of your surroundings, guard your marriage against temptations which will destroy your marriage. Even people who are close to you can poison your marriage from the outside with criticism. Steer away from negative people with a poor opinion of marriage. Don’t let their sickness corrode your health.

Lesson 4. Tap the brakes.

Slamming on the breaks in the snow and ice is not an effective way to stop. Especially important before the invention of anti-lock brakes, tapping the brakes effectively reduces sliding when attempting to stop.

When you and your spouse are facing challenges, trying to solve the problem suddenly doesn’t work. Yes, you should face the problem head on (like suggested in Lesson 2) but never letting up is suffocating. Address concerns you have with your spouse but then let up a bit. Come back to it later, especially when discussions become hostile. Tap the breaks and take a breather.

Lesson 5. Keep the tires rolling.

Making a complete stop in the snow makes it difficult to maintain traction. When you try to start again, you’ll spin the wheels and get nowhere.  

Never stop interacting with your spouse. If you are upset giving them “the silent treatment” is not a good idea. Totally withdrawing from your spouse is counterproductive and only leads to disaster. It may feel safer at first because you’re no longer fighting, but disengaging from your spouse wrecks the emotional momentum of relationship. A stalled marriage takes much more effort to regain intimacy than if you stay engaged through tough times.

Lesson 6. Don’t use cruise control.

My dad likes to remind me that using cruise control in the winter is dangerous. Setting cruise control makes it more likely you’ll cruise mindlessly into a slick spot going way too fast for conditions, panic, then slam on the brakes, slide off the road and crash. The technology used to make life easier diverts your attention just enough to forget all the other safety lessons.

Don’t cruise mindlessly through your life. Pay attention to your marriage or you’ll end up with a crashed marriage wondering why you didn’t see the divorce coming. Men tend to do this more than women. I see men in my counseling office who thought things were ok in their marriage until, boom. Their wife wants a divorce. The men quickly react wanting to save their marriage, but it’s often too late, the damage is already done. Cruising along mindlessly is never wise in relationships but it’s especially hazardous when facing times of stress and conflict. Beware of anything that diverts your attention away from your relationship. Don’t let technology designed to make life easier (like your smartphone) distract you from embracing your spouse as the storms of life rage around you.

I’ll always remember Awesome Lindner Wheels and the embarrassment of sliding off the road. After I broke the wheel, all the custom wheels were replaced with regular, much less awesome wheels. I moved on from the red Thunderbird, got a Mustang and then a Honda Prelude and had other driving adventures.

Fortunately, most days I remember the lessons my dad taught me about driving in the snow. I know they’ve helped me prevent serious wrecks and probably even saved my life.

The same lessons can save your marriage.

What’s your winter driving story? How have you survived winter storms in your marriage? Share in comments or send me an email.