THE TOTAL WOMAN!--By Marabel Morgan
Hey, Remember Me?
I had expected my marriage to Charlie to be the World's greatest. It began that way, & we had marvellous communication, but as the months & years passed, we gradually changed.
Have you ever sat across from your husband in a crowded restaurant & wondered, "What on Earth can I say to this man I live with, with whom I am intimate?" It baffled me. At dinner one night, everyone in the place was talking enthusiastically & my brain couldn't come up with one intelligent remark to say to the man I loved.
Each evening, when Charlie walked in the front door after work, a cloud of gloom & tension floated in with him. That cloud was almost tangible. His homecoming was supposed to be the high point of my day. I had been waiting all day to love & care for him, but this tension cloud permeated our home atmosphere. We were at each other for some unknown reason. There was a barrier between us.
Our little girl Laura arrived, & I poured my life & time into her. Still I pondered my communication breakdown with Charlie & I realised that our tender, romantic times had slowly slipped away, too. We had our moments, but they were few, & I longed for romance.
All the marriage articles I read explained how changes occurred throughout marriage. Love moves from a high peak during courtship to a more stable, settled kind of love later on. As I looked at my husband, prone in his television chair night after night, I thought, "That's it--we've got settled love." I didn't like it one bit.
Unglued & Uptight
Laura went to Daily Vacation Bible School when she was four. She came home every day singing a catchy song: "I'm in-right, outright, upright, downright happy all the time." One evening after hearing the song at least nine times, Charlie looked at me in a peculiar way & began to chuckle. "Say," he said, "I have just the song for you. You're `in-right, outright, upright, downright uptight all the time!'"
He laughed & held his sides, but I was crushed. I thought, "Is he kidding or am I uptight all the time?" In spite of my sporadic outbursts, I liked to think I was very calm & serene. I thought of myself as a loving wife & mother, who coped beautifully with difficult situations, & who never raised her voice. Of course, it wasn't a true image, but I was not quite ready for my husband's oblique observation.
The next day I cleaned the house vigorously because some friends from the north were coming by. Among other odd jobs, I polished the dining-room table to a high sheen. Charlie came home just before the company arrived & emptied his briefcase--books, keys, loose change, & other odds & ends--guess where? On the dining-room table with the high sheen.
I must admit that I overreacted a little bit. When the mushroom-shaped cloud settled, Charlie looked at me coldly & said with disgust, "Gee, you sure come unglued easily, don't you?"
I stood there, hurt to the core & stunned by his remark. "Don't I have a right to react violently? Do I come unglued easily?" I asked myself. "Why am I so uptight? What's happening to me--to us?" I was often grouchy. A more accurate description would be "shrewish". When I was, life was no fun. I didn't even enjoy my own company during those times. How could I expect my family to?
Something drastic had to be done! The proverb "As now, so then" became a distinct possibility for us. At the rate we were going, ten years from now, we would hate each other! Being mediocre in any area of life never appealed to me, & least of all, in marriage. I didn't want a marginal marriage; I wanted the best. That night I made a decision to change the collision course I was on.
Reviving the Romance
The change began with my pursuit of knowledge. I bought all the marriage books I could find. I read until I felt cross-eyed at night. I took self-improvement courses. I studied books on psychology. I studied the Bible. Over & over certain principles emerged & I began to apply them to my marriage--with stunning results.
As I learned to live these principles, my attitudes changed from day to day. Almost immediately, Charlie began to change as well. He began to talk to me in his old way. At times he could hardly get his words out fast enough. I felt like we were dating again. Marriage was fun. The barriers were gone.
This brand-new love between us has given us a brand-new life together. The results of applying certain principles to my marriage were so revolutionary that I had to pass them on.
I believe it is possible for almost any wife to have her husband absolutely adore her in just a few weeks' time. She can revive romance, reestablish communication, break down barriers, & put sizzle back into her marriage. It really is up to her. She has the power.
REDEEMING THE TIME
Your $25,000 Plan
When Charles M. Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel he confronted Ivy Lee, a management consultant, with an unusual challenge: "Show me a way to get more things done," he demanded. "If it works, I'll pay anything within reason."
Lee handed Schwab a piece of paper. "Write down the things you have to do tomorrow," he said. Schwab wrote. "Now number these items in the order of their real importance," Lee continued. Schwab did it. "The first thing tomorrow morning," Lee instructed, "start working on number one & stay with it until it is completed. Next take number two & don't go any further until it is completed. Then proceed to number three, & so on. If you can't complete everything on schedule, don't worry. At least you will have taken care of the most important things before getting distracted by items of lesser consequence.
"The secret is to do this daily," continued Lee. "Evaluate the relative importance of the things you have to get done ...establish priorities...record your plan of action...& stick to it. Do this every working day. After you have convinced yourself of the value of this system, have your men try it. Test it as long as you like. Then send me a check for whatever you think the idea is worth."
In a few weeks Charles Schwab sent Ivy Lee a check for twenty-five thousand dollars. Schwab later said that this lesson was the most profitable one he had ever learned in his business career.
If it works for a steel factory, it will work in your "house factory". This plan is yours for the taking. Free! You'll have more time, you'll accomplish much more, & you'll be available for your husband.
1. Take a moment now & write down everything you have to do tomorrow. You'll panic if you wait until morning. The day will already be pressing in on you. Don't worry if the list seems endless! You may have a lot of catching up to do.
Just list on one sheet of paper all those little things you must do tomorrow. Include yourself on this list. Write down a time for yourself each day.
2. Assign a priority to every item on your list. List these as number one, number two, & so on. When your husband asks you to do something, he expects it to be done without reminding you. The next time he delegates a job to you, write it down.
Assign top priority to the unpleasant tasks. I try to face these first things in the morning when I'm fresh, instead of at four o'clock when I've had it.
3. Tomorrow, begin with number one & stick with it until it's accomplished. Then start on number two & stay with that until it's finished. Go on to number three & finish it. And so on down your list. Complete each job. What satisfaction there is in doing one job thoroughly & not having to return to it!
4. Keep your daily schedule in a looseleaf notebook, or use a calendar with spaces large enough to enter your daily activities. This way you keep a running log of your activities. You'll also have a ready record of when you mailed that package, when John's suit went to the cleaners, or when you called the repairman.
At the top of my daily $25,000 plan I put, "Prepare a dinner after breakfast." When I first tried it, I must admit that the thought of it rather nauseated me. I had always tried to get out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. But I found that I could still make this goal & have an edge on dinner besides.
How? First I decide my evening menu the day before & write it at the top of the list. Each morning I make the salad or set out the ingredients for dinner.
I am an incurable optimist, but being married to a lawyer, I have learned to anticipate every possible problem that might arise in a given situation. I sometimes, think, "Whatever can go wrong, probably will!" That brings me back to Earth. Therefore, I'm ready with an alternate plan. If things go well, fine. I am most surprised & pleased. If not, I'll put Plan B into effect.
So often, unexpected events come my way that aren't on my $25,000 plan. Children get sick, friends drop by, & my washing machine breaks down.
Learn to capitalise on disappointment & heartbreak. That's not heartless, that's wise. Make things that go wrong part of your plan. Adversity can make you better instead of bitter.
God allows heartbreak so man will learn to trust Him. King Solomon, the World's wisest man, knew this well. He developed a marvelous habit to prevent heartache. Each day he prayed over his master list, "Commit thy works unto the Lord, & thy thoughts shall be established."--Pro.16:3.
Your husband will be thrilled. Every man appreciates order & he'll be especially glad to find it in his own home. He will be pleased with you, your accomplishments, & your sense of well-being. When you're organised & efficient, his flame of love will begin to flicker & burn.
Tomorrow is a new day. Wake up to your $25,000 plan.
You have the power to lift your family spirit or bring it down to rock bottom. The atmosphere in your home is set by you. If you're cheery tonight, chances are your husband & children will also be cheery. If you're a crab, they probably will be too, since they take their cues for daily living from you.
How is your attitude toward your daily duties? Are you pleasant to live with, even when your husband doesn't appreciate your efforts? Do you know that your personal happiness depends on the attitude you decide you will have? It does.
A great marriage is not so much finding the right person as being the right person. Most of the women I know would like to improve their roles as wife & mother, which are primarily concerned with things they do. Their role as a woman is something they are, & that gets us down to basics.
You can become the sunshine in your home, but first you must learn where the clouds are. Jesus promised, "Ye shall know the truth, & the truth shall make you free."--Jn.8:32. It's easy to say, but how does one go about understanding herself?
The Organisation Woman
1. Make a list of everything you must accomplish tomorrow. Assign each a priority & then tackle that $25,000 plan!
2. Write out your own philosophy of life. Ask yourself, "Who am I, where am I going, & why?"
3. Make a list of all your strengths & a list of all your weaknesses. Be realistic & honest. Then, by an act of your will, accept your weaknesses. Determine to maximise your strengths by taking specific action.
4. Set a goal, one specific goal, to be reached one week from today. List everything you will need to accomplish this goal. Incorporate this list into your master plan for the week to come.
5. Set one long-term goal & determine to make it yours.
Most of us marry a man with every intention of changing him. Then we spend years of married life trying to do just that--round off the edges, suggest what he should do, & how he should act. Why are we such fools? It never works! The poor husband crawls into his shell to protect himself from the onslaught, vowing never to communicate with this relentless woman who was once his bride.
A man needs to be accepted as he is, just exactly as he is. This kind of all-out acceptance convinces him you really love him. His need for total acceptance isn't so strange; I need to feel accepted too. Don't you? Doesn't everyone?
My Husband, My Friend
Unfortunately, I'm a nag by nature. I don't mean to be; it just works out that way. Nagging is my occupational hazard. All day long I direct my kids: "Pick up your clothes, brush your teeth, & don't get out of bed." When my husband walks in the door, I just naturally continue my commands: "Take out the garbage, be kind to my mother, smile at people," & on & on.
For six years I nagged Charlie on the same subjects day after day. Finally, he couldn't take it any longer. He told me firmly one night, "Stop your nagging! I heard you the first time. I'm not your child; I'm your husband."
My nagging wasn't bringing results. I determined that night not to nag Charlie again about the garbage. I wouldn't say a word, even if it piled up for weeks. But to my surprise, gals, he took out the garbage the very first night--completely without my assistance. Remarkable!
A housewife wrote to marriage columnist Ann Landers, asking her to encourage wives to nag their husbands for their health's sake. "The wife," the letter said, "should nag if he eats too much, drinks too much, smokes too much, if he doesn't exercise enough," & so on. She ended the letter with the plea, "Please tell women everywhere who love their husbands to nag them. It could add years to their lives."
Ann's reply was pure genius. "Who wants more years like that? Sorry, I don't agree. Nagging never kept anyone alive. It has however, killed many marriages. A man considers being nagged at worse than being nibbled to death by a duck."
Nagging is the opposite of accepting. You'll find that once you accept your husband, you'll no longer need to nag. Just that thought alone may send him into ecstasy!
Your husband is what he is. Accept him as that. This principle is as old as life itself. God accepts us as we are. Even though we don't deserve it, He still loves us.
The Bible says that wives should love their husbands. If you've lost the love for your husband, why not ask God to restore it? Secondly, if you want your marriage to succeed, you must choose to accept him, knowing that your relationship will probably not improve if you don't. The choice is yours--you can choose to either go on living with resentment or accept your husband.
If you choose the latter course, how do you start? Simply make up your mind to accept him just as he is.
Some women don't nag verbally, but their nonaccepting vibrations communicate loud & clear. With heaving sighs over the kitchen sink, the martyr silently nurses her woes. "I do accept my husband," she thinks. "I've been putting up with his faults for years without saying a word, but he'll never change. I won't say anything. I'll just carry on for the sake of the children."
Tolerance is not acceptance. Your tolerance only makes your husband feel incomplete & unworthy. He can sense when he's not being accepted, & is not able to love you fully.
And remember, he'll never confide in you if he feels that you are being critical or are trying to change him. Life is too short to dwell on another's weaknesses. Concentrate on his strengths.
Once you begin accepting your husband, you can stop worrying about your role as his chief advisor. He doesn't need your advice; he needs your acceptance. Tremendous pressure will be lifted from you, not to mention the pressure lifted from him! He will probably begin to reveal his thoughts to you, & he may even choose to do exactly what you've been wanting!
Psychiatrists tell us that a man's most basic needs, outside of warm sexual love, are approval & admiration. Women need to be loved; men need to be admired. We women would do well to remember this one important difference between us & the other half.
Your man, like so many American males, may seem void of emotions, unable to properly express his real feelings to you. Why is this? Remember that he grew up in a culture that taught him not to cry when he scratched his leg. Instead of hugging Uncle Jack, he shook hands. Grown-ups were generally unavailable to listen, so he learned to keep his feelings to himself.
We girls, on the other hand, were allowed to cry & express ourselves. We were encouraged to kiss baby dolls, Aunt Susie, & the baby-sitter. We grew up full of emotions & knew basically how to express love. Then one day the fun began. Mr. Cool married Miss Passion. Is it any wonder that she felt unfulfilled because he never showed her any emotion?
Have you ever wondered why your husband doesn't just melt when you tell him how much you love him? But try saying, "I admire you," & see what happens. If you want to free him to express his thoughts & emotions, begin by filling up his empty cup with admiration. He must be filled first, for he has nothing to give until this need is met. And when his cup runs over, guess who lives in the overflow? Why, the very one who has been filling up the cup--you!
Love your husband & hold him in reverence, it says in the Bible. That means admire him. Reverence, according to the dictionary, means "To respect, honour, esteem, adore, praise, enjoy, & admire."
It's a great strength, not a weakness, to give for the sheer sake of giving. It is your female nature to give. Calvin Coolidge once said, "No person was ever honoured for what he received. Honour has been the reward for what he gave."
Starting tonight determine that you will admire your husband. Admire him as he talks to you. Concentrate on what he's saying. Let him know you care. Don't interrupt or be preoccupied. A pilot told me, "When my wife is indifferent & doesn't respond to what I'm saying, it shatters me for two or three days. Indifference is the worst pain of all."
Admire him personally. This is what he is yearning for. When he comes home tonight would you rather have him admire your newly waxed floor, or tell you how great you look? In the same way, he'd rather hear how handsome he is than how great his corporation is.
By the way, admiration can also work wonders for your children. For example, one mother always nagged her son to hop out of the car to open the garage door. One afternoon she said, "Tommy, I'll bet a boy with muscles like yours could flip that garage door up in nothing flat." That's all she said, & that's all he needed. She never again had to ask him to open the door.
Your husband won't mind helping you either, if he's approached in the proper way. Instead of struggling with a jar & breaking a fingernail, ask him to loan you his strong hands for a minute. He derives pleasure from showing off his strength, even on a little old jar.
Rebuilding a Partial Man
I am not advocating that you lie to give your husband a superficial ego boost; even a fool will see through flattery. But I am saying he has a deep need for sincere admiration. Look for new parts to compliment as you see him with new eyes.
If you haven't been communicating much lately with your husband, you may have trouble finding something to compliment. If that's your case, think back to those days when you were first convinced that he was the one. What did you love about him then?
An older couple was so estranged that the wife could not see anything to admire about her husband. She forced herself to think back, all the way to the Depression days, when he frugally kept the family together with shrewd business management. Now, nearly forty years later, she shyly mentioned how she had admired his financial leadership during that time. Those were the first appreciative words he had heard in years, & his reaction was pitiful. He looked at her with disbelieving eyes, tears welled up, & though he found no way of verbally expressing his appreciation, he was very tender that evening. The wife was amazed that such a little remark from the distant past could cause this behaviour. It was a turning point in their marriage.
Life is made up of seemingly inconsequential things, but often it's a little thing that can turn the tide. Behind every great man is a great woman, loving him & meeting his needs. There are some exceptions to this, but very few.
Self cries, "Love me, meet my needs." Love says, "Allow me to meet your needs." Dish out some sincere compliments to your man tonight, & watch his cup fill up & overflow. What nagging cannot do, admiration will!
ADAPT TO HIM
What causes most of the problems in your marriage? I find that the conflict between two separate egos is usually the culprit--your viewpoint versus his viewpoint. If they happen to be the same, fine. If not, as so often is the case, conflict results.
For instance, your weary man comes home from the office longing for a quiet evening. You've been cooped up in the house all day & want to get out. There's instant conflict with two egos, each shouting, "Me, me, me."
The Biblical remedy for marital conflict is stated, "You wives must submit to your husbands' leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord".--Eph.5:22. God planned for woman to be under her husband's rule.
Now before you scream & throw this book away, hear me out. First of all, no one says you have to get married. If you do not wish to adapt to a man, the negative implication is to stay single. If you are married but not adapting, you probably already know that marriage isn't the glorious experience you anticipated.
Secondly, you may think, "That's not fair. I have my rights. Why shouldn't he adapt to my way first, & then maybe I'll consider doing something to please him?" I have seen many couples try this new arrangement, unsuccessfully. Unless the wife adapts to his way of life, there's no way to avoid the conflict that is certain to occur.
Thirdly, please note that I did not say a woman is inferior to a man, or even that a woman should be subservient to all men, but that a wife should be under her own husband's leadership.
Man & woman, although equal in status, are different in function. God ordained man to be the head of the family, its president, & his wife to be the executive vice-president. Every organisation has a leader & the family unit is no exception.
Oh, King, Live Forever
I have been asked if this process of adapting places a woman on a slave-master basis with her husband. A Total Woman is not a slave. She graciously chooses to adapt to her husband's way, even though at times she desperately may not want to. He in turn will gratefully respond by trying to make it up to her & grant her desires. He may even want to spoil her with goodies.
Marriage has also been likened to a monarchy, where the husband is king, & his wife is queen. In a royal marriage, the king's decision is the final word, for his country & his queen alike. The queen is certainly not his slave, for she knows where her powers lie. She is queen. She, too, sits on a throne. She has the right, & in fact, the responsibility to express her feelings, but of course, she does so in a regal way. Though the king relies heavily on her judgment, if there is a difference of opinion, it is the king who makes the decision.
On January 15, 1972, Margrethe Alexandrine Thorhildur Ingrid became Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Since childhood she had been groomed for the task of being queen someday. She had the finest education, received military training, & was prepared in every way to be a queen.
Her husband, Prince Hendrik, has no function constitutionally, other than as husband of the queen. But it is no secret that Hendrik wears the trousers at home. "Ever since I was a little girl," Margrethe said on the day of her engagement, "I have believed that even though I must officially take first place, it would be possible for me to take second place in marriage."
If a real live queen who could demand subservience from her husband feels that way, can we queens do less?
Deep Sea Blues
Adapting is not always easy, though, so lest you think I'm unreal, I must share an absolutely stupid personal experience. I'm not proud of it, but nevertheless, I did it.
On a vacation trip, friends invited us deep-sea fishing. I was tired & wanted to sleep in the sun that afternoon, rather than make conversation on a boat. Charlie asked that I go with him, & I cried & pleaded not to. He said, "I'm not going without you. They asked both of us & we'll either do one or the other." Still I didn't budge. Here was my husband pleading for me to accompany him on a date, & I told him no.
I won. We didn't go fishing, but I can tell you it wasn't worth it. Yes, I sat by the pool all afternoon, but I was immersed in guilt because I had ruined the last day of our vacation. Worst of all, we didn't communicate in any sense of the word for the next three days. Later I apologised & he forgave me, but the hurt had to wear off. I believe I felt worse than he did & I hope I learned my lesson once & for all.
Has your husband ever suggested what he thought was an exciting idea, & you responded, "Yes, but...."? It may have been a simple request like, "Let's go bike riding after dinner," but you instinctively countered, "Yes, but..." In doing so, you drenched or drowned his idea with your cold water. It doesn't matter what his idea was or what your excuse was; it had the same dreadful effect of challenging his leadership. He couldn't lead you, & inwardly he resented that fact--& you.
You might not realise how many times you buck your husband on every subject. In fact, he may have clammed up years ago because of this very thing. The next time he makes a suggestion, respond if at all possible with an enthusiastic "Yes, let's!" You may have to pick him up off the floor, but the rewards for this can't be beat.
On vacations, Charlie & I have had more arguments about where to eat than about any other subject. When we didn't eat where I wanted to eat, I've been so upset I've nearly choked on the food. I have seen how my exclusive "right" to select the restaurant only brings us both indigestion.
Life is much easier when I simply tell him my preference, & then let him make the final decision, whether it's where we'll eat or where we'll live. If I can't support the plan, at least I'll support the man.
At a recent football game, I overheard one wife say to another, "I know your husband is crazy about football. Are you a football nut, too?" The other wife smiled & replied, "I love my husband."
Mrs. Albert Einstein was asked, "Do you understand your husband's theory of relativity?" She smiled, "Oh, my, no, I just know how he likes his tea." That's love in a nutshell.
I joined Charlie on a business trip to California some months ago. One evening we met before dinner at a Los Angeles law office. High atop the penthouse office overlooking Beverly Hills, the lawyer told us about his partner who had passed away six years before. "He was the most amazing & unforgettable person I ever knew," he said. "He was only fifty-nine when he died. Just before his heart attack, he shared some personal thoughts about life with me. He told me several times, `As you grow older you'll find that the one thing to treasure most in life is loyalty, & the worst & hardest thing to accept is ingratitude.'"
Husbands, too, feel that deep hurt of ingratitude. One remarked to me, "Maybe it's the age we're living in, but everybody seems so unappreciative. And my wife heads the pack. There's just no joy in giving, mainly because she is so ungrateful." An ungrateful wife is no joy to her husband, yet so many wives are guilty of gross ingratitude. They have forgotten those simple words, "Thank you," & all the actions & emotions those words connote.
Attitude of Gratitude
Stop a moment & check your gratitude meter. Are you guilty of that heinous act of ingratitude? Are you appreciative of the basics your husband knocks himself out to provide? Not just the birthday & Christmas "specials," but money for the groceries, doctor bills, & pillowcases?
Appreciation involves two parts--internal & external. First of all, a wife cannot be grateful if she's grasping for her rights. If she feels she has the right to be taken out to dinner once a week, she will not express sincere gratitude.
Secondly, appreciation from within must be communicated outwardly, by words, attitude, or action, or by all three. This is easy since a heart of gratitude must express itself. A thankful person cannot keep quiet.
Charlie told me about the morning he drove our three-year-old, Michelle, to her grandmother's house. As he dropped her off, Michelle kissed him good-bye & tenderly whispered, "Thank you, Daddy." Charlie felt like a king all day. Childlike appreciation lifts the heart. Daddies need that too!
PAINTING THE HOUSE
Let's begin by going back to that moment when you first saw the man who is now your husband. Specifically, let's consider the first time he saw you. Remember how immaculate you were each time he came to call? Dazzling, you floated out to meet him, knowing he would be pleased just seeing you & being seen with you.
Well, what did you look like last night when he came home? What did you have on this morning when he left for work? Girls, is it any wonder the honeymoon is over, & instead of feeling sought, you both feel caught?
Fizzle to Sizzle
One of your husband's most basic needs is for you to be physically attractive to him. He loves your body; in fact, he literally craves it.
Remember, fellow wives, a man thinks differently than we do. Before a man can care about who a woman is, he must first get past that visual barrier of how a woman looks. So your appearance at 6:00 P.M. should have top priority! Those first four minutes when he arrives home at night set the atmosphere for the entire evening.
Determine to be a charming atmosphere adjuster tonight. Greet him at the door with your hair shining, your beautifully made-up face radiant, your outfit sharp & snappy--even though you're not going anywhere! He'll feel more alive just coming home to you, when your whole countenance & attitude say, "Touch me, I'm yours!"
Have you ever met your husband at the front door in some outrageously sexy outfit? I can hear you howl, "She's got to be kidding. My husband's not the type, & besides, we've been married twenty-one years!"
Nope, I'm not kidding, especially if you've been married twenty-one years. Most women dress to please other women rather than their own husbands. Your husband needs you to fulfill his daydreams.
You don't think you're the type? I didn't either. It took me seven years of marriage to try costumes on him. I only tried them then because my marriage needed some sizzle. But my silly costumes got such fabulous results that now I'm hooked. And so is Charlie.
One gal took my course, which was being held in her Southern Baptist Church. She welcomed her husband home in black mesh stockings, high heels & an apron. That's all. He took one look & shouted, "Praise the Lord!" He was flabbergasted, but extremely pleased. He could hardly eat his dinner!
Make sure you recognise your husband's car door or knock at the door when he arrives. Zealous to surprise her husband, a Fort Lauderdale housewife, dressed a la Gypsy with beads, bangles, & bare skin, greeted the equally surprised water meter reader!
ROCKS IN THE MATTRESS
Columnist Ann Landers wrote recently that years ago, a prominent divorce lawyer told her nine out of ten divorces start in the bedroom. She didn't believe him at the time, but she does now. During her fifteen years of operating a supermarket confessional, she has found that when a marriage goes on the rocks, the rocks are usually in the mattress. In other words, if a couple has a really good sexual relationship, they will try a lot harder to work out their problems & stay married.
Ann Landers received an interesting letter from a thirty-five-year-old wife who had been married fifteen years & had three children. She wrote, "My husband is a nice fellow, & I like him a lot. But I want him as a friend from now on. I would appreciate it very much if he didn't bother me for sex anymore.
"I am not interested in anyone else, in case you are wondering. My husband is home every night & there is nothing wrong with him. He bathes regularly & we don't fight. I need to know if my way of thinking is all right. Please be frank & give me the straight facts."
Ann answered back, "It's all right with ME--but the question is, is it all right with your husband? If it is, you have no problem. The trouble starts when there is a difference of opinion."
I believe many women secretly feel this way. They would like to disregard sex & keep on playing marriage.
Sex is not merely the joining of a man's & woman's sexual organs. It can & should be so much more. The Old English word for sexual intercourse is "to know". A man & wife are to know each other in the depths of their being.
Physically, the climax during intercourse is the greatest pleasure on earth. Medical research reveals that a climax renews & restores the body. Better physical health also results. What marvelous therapy!
Emotionally, a woman's climax, coupled with the joy she receives giving herself to her husband, completes her. She & her husband both feel satisfied & fulfilled.
Spiritually, for sexual intercourse to be the ultimate satisfaction, both partners need a personal relationship with their God. When this is so their union is sacred & beautiful, & mysteriously the two blend perfectly into one. Intercourse becomes the place where man & woman discover each other in a new dimension.
If any of these pieces of the puzzle are missing, this discovery is only partial. The partners may feel empty & lonely. They may feel restless, dissatisfied, & detached. Sex becomes frustrating to the wife, & even destructive. This inward frustration usually appears in other areas of her life. She may become a nagger, a screamer, or a whiner. And she would be fortunate if her problems only stopped there.
To Hold, Not Withhold
Dr. David Reuben, author of Any Woman Can, writes: "Because emotions rule all sexual responses (including orgasm) a woman needs to review carefully her own personal attitudes about sex, her feelings about her husband & their relationship together. In some cases, the inability to have an orgasm is simply the unconscious refusal to have one, in order to get revenge on the husband."
Don't use sex as a weapon or a reward. Or, as the Bible says, "Do not cheat each other of normal sexual intercourse..."--1Cor.7:5. God understood women. He knew they would probably use the prized possession of sex to manipulate men, & He warned against rationing it out. The Bible also states, "...let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; & be thou ravished with her love".--Prov.5:19. A wife is to love her husband constantly & unconditionally. Withholding sex in marriage as a form of punishment can only destroy the relationship.
Good sex is a must for a good marriage. With a sincere, open, & honest effort, you'll begin to enjoy the sexual pleasures you were meant to have.
Fireworks at Breakfast
Exotic sexual techniques are not nearly as important to a man as the knowledge that his wife loves him, cares about him & wants him sexually. The woman who does her best to meet her mate's sexual needs goes a long way toward making him immune to the allure of other women.
The foundation for sexual happiness--or misery--is laid not in the bedroom but at the breakfast table. The words a wife says or doesn't say to her husband as he leaves for work in the morning can determine what will happen that evening.
Your husband wants a warm, comforting, & eager partner. If you're stingy in bed, he'll be stingy with you. If you're available to him, you need not worry about him looking elsewhere. Fulfill him by giving him everything he wants, & he'll want to give back to you.
You may not think of yourself as the last of the red-hot lovers, but your husband wants to. Deep down inside, he's thinking, "How am I doing as a lover?" If you anticipate & enjoy sex, your husband will be confident as a lover. This confidence will carry over to his work. He'll be ready to tackle the World, with his battery charged, & more bounce to the ounce.
Your attitude during your husband's first four waking minutes in the morning sets the tone for his entire day. The atmosphere for love in the evening can be set by you even before breakfast. Give him a kiss first thing tomorrow morning. Rub his back as he's waking up. Whisper in his ear. Slip into the bathroom to clear a few cobwebs before he wakes.
Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote, "`Tis not love's going hurts my days, but that it went in little ways." Marriage is but a basketful of those little things.
Tomorrow morning as your husband leaves for work, stand at the door & wave until he's out of sight. That's his last memory of you, in the open doorway. Make him want to hurry home.
If you pack your husband's lunch in the morning, try tucking in a surprise love note. Mail a beautiful card to his office (marked PERSONAL) that would brighten up his day. Or appear in person. I know of one woman who arrived at her husband's office at lunch hour with a picnic basket. Behind locked doors they spent the longest lunch hour the boss had taken in months. The secretaries are still talking about that one!
I find that after a hard day at the office, most husbands don't usually arrange flowers & light the candles in the bedroom. At least mine doesn't, but he appreciates my efforts. And it's my privilege to do it.
Set an atmosphere of romance tonight. Set your table with cloth, flowers, & silver. Prepare his favourite dinner for him. Eat by candlelight; you'll light his candle!
Don't Just Endure!
For super sex tonight, respond eagerly to your husband's advances. Don't just endure. Indifference hurts him more than anything. He may enjoy making love even when you're a limp dishrag, but if you're eager, & love to make love, watch out! If you seduce him, there will be no words to describe his joy. Loving you will become sheer ecstasy.
Sexual intercourse is an act of love. Express your love by giving him all you can give. A woman's hands should never be still when she is making love. By caressing tenderly, you assure him that he's touchable. Tell him "I love you" with your hands.
The Speed Demon
Tonight, as you make love, remember that your brain is your control center. Keep it tuned to the subject at hand. Think about his body, not Sunday's dinner menu. One of the secrets of life is to concentrate on the moment. Enjoy the present--not yesterday, or tomorrow, but right now! It's a secret to super sex, too.
In the same way you need words for atmosphere, so does he. Don't clam up. The silent movie days are gone. He'll respond to your sounds of love. He does not automatically know what pleases you & what you don't like. The only way he'll know is for you to tell him. His enjoyment will be increased when he knows what is pleasing you. Tell him you want him. Treat him as if he is a great lover & he'll become a great lover.
If your husband is a speed demon in sex & spends only a few minutes with you, your change in attitude will help slow him down. He will want to spend more time loving you. By seeing how you care, he will also want to see that your needs are met.
REOPENING CLOGGED LINES
Silence is Stubborn
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, "Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes." Good communication is so essential for a good marriage, but all too often this ingredient is sadly missing. I am reminded of a cartoon which depicted a primitive caveman & woman looking at each other. Miss Cavewoman said, "Now that we've learned to talk, try to speak the same language!"
We women are so different from that strange but wonderful male species. Often we start from totally different premises when we try to communicate. A man talks to his wife so he can express ideas & information. A woman wants to talk about feelings & emotions. For instance, when was the last time you asked your husband, "Do you love me?" You know he loves you. He's told you so, hasn't he, but you have an emotional need to hear it again & again & again.
A woman expresses her love by words & expects words in return. A man expresses his love by actions--by sexual intercourse, bringing home the paycheck, or buying his wife a house. She wants words & tenderness; he gives her material goods. Is it any wonder we sometimes have trouble communicating?
Happier & Healthier Husbands
Love cannot take distance. A husband & wife must communicate if they hope to understand each other. There is no greater feeling than knowing you are understood. You feel confident, your burden is lifted, & you're ready to tackle the world.
Is your marriage line of communication clogged from underuse? The flow may be just slightly hindered, or it may be shut down to only a few drips. You can be a communication plumber, & your husband's psychotherapist as well, with the end result a happier & healthier husband. I hope you'll find these suggestions as therapeutic for your husband as they have been for mine:
1. Be a good listener. To listen another's soul into a condition of disclosure & discovery may be almost the greatest service any human being ever performs for another. Anyone will talk, but only true friends listen. If you're in doubt about this, observe your friends at the next party you attend.
Communication is sharing, not shoving. It involves two parts--talking & listening, & it involves at least two persons--the speaker & the listener. Both are vital in marriage. You must talk to communicate your thoughts, but you must also listen as your husband expresses his thoughts. When a husband says, "My wife doesn't understand me," he usually means, "She doesn't listen."
2. Don't give him advice. Shakespeare warned, "Those who school others, oft should school themselves." All too often wives give loads of unsolicited advice, such as "Well, Bob...if I were you...it seems to me...just looking at it logically...why don't you go in there tomorrow & fire him!" By advising him, he thinks you're condemning him & holding him responsible for the problem. Even though your intentions are good, you come off sounding like a second mother. He feels like a shamed little boy.
3. Don't criticise or put him down. At a dinner party, I heard a wife tell her husband across the table, "That's not a bad idea considering it's an original from your brain!" In another case, a glum husband told his wife he hadn't gotten the raise he had expected. His wife snapped, "I figured you wouldn't get it; you've always been a loser." With friends like that, who needs enemies! What man would tell his sarcastic wife what's really in his heart? If he knows he'll be gunned down if he opens his mouth, he may either clam up completely or play the same by dishing it back.
4. Understand his frame of reference. Often our best moments are not when we're shooting down contrary opinion, but rather allowing it to be spoken. We can never understand that which we never hear. Mutual understanding is only possible through bilateral communication.
The next time you & your husband are in a verbal deadlock, stop & consider his frame of reference. Once you understand his basic premise, you'll find that his conclusions are logical from his point of view. Every man (or woman) is logical if you simply understand the base from which he operates.
5. Be sensitive to his moods. Ron & Marie had a fight at breakfast as usual. Ron felt discouraged while driving to work, but then pressed it down. When he arrived at the office, he had a run-in with a disgruntled but important customer. Then the boss came in fuming over a technical error Ron had made. As the boss left, he stopped & chatted with that younger man next door, Ron's competitor.
All day long, Ron felt old & threatened. When he came home, he asked Marie to run a few errands. She sighed, "I can't go right now, I've got some other things to do." Ron's bruised ego picked up the signals. He felt worthless. He wanted to crawl into his shell & lock the door.
Your husband may have crawled into his shell. He needs you to look for the good in him. Encourage him.
6. Be interested in his interests. I never read the sports page before we were married, but it wasn't long before I noticed what section my husband grabbed first each morning. So I decided to read it myself, out of curiosity at first; out of love later on.
If your husband is a football nut like mine, learn about his game. If he thrives on prehistoric woodpeckers, make an effort to converse on prehistoric woodpeckers. Care enough to be interested in what interests him. Be that real friend!
Cooling a Hothead
My marriage, like yours, has its problems from time to time. There is no perfect marriage or perfect husband, just in case you were still searching. Problems are normal & no marriage is immune, so cheer up. The variable, however, lies in how you cope or fail to cope with disagreements when they arise. For example, how do you react when you're mad at your husband? Do you explode volcano style, or do you keep your frozen rage inside? Either way can be dangerous & unhealthy.
The price of silence is too high. First of all, it cuts off communication completely, & secondly, your body pays the price. The angry but silent wife tends to relive the problem over & over, each time trying to further justify her position. At night she may share the same bed with her husband, yet feel a million miles apart. Lying there she feels wronged & bitter, especially when he goes to sleep before she does! The Bible says, "...let not the sun go down upon your wrath".--Eph.4:26.
In a healthy marriage, there should be neither deceit nor secrets. Both husband & wife should feel free to express their honest feelings by using tact, not attack. The next time you lock horns with your husband, try these helpful suggestions for cooling a hothead:
1. Control your tears. The first fight after marriage usually leaves the bride in tears. This teaches the new husband, "Don't tell her her faults or she'll cry." Subconsciously he may hold back communication to protect her.
2. Plan the proper time & atmosphere. Before you speak, think the problem through & put it into its proper perspective. An angry outburst can scar your husband's emotions & create barriers between you. Stop & think before you blurt out what you might regret later on. Prepare to express your feelings without becoming emotional. Pray for discretion & love.
I have also found it's easier to resolve a conflict when my husband's blood sugar is high. The best time for me is shortly after dinner when his tummy is full & the children are in bed. But don't wait until after ten o'clock. Late at night problems loom larger & life seems darker. The difference between despair & hope is often a good night's sleep.
3. Gently tell him what is in your heart. The Bible advises us to speak the truth in love (Eph.4:15). Say exactly what's bothering you, but maintain your self-control. It was Shakespeare who wrote:
"Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, & low, an excellent thing in woman."
Concentrate on your feelings, not on his faults. Instead of judging him by saying, "You never..." express your own feelings by saying, "I feel this way..." If you accuse him, he will only attempt to justify his actions, even though he knows he is wrong; that's a law of life. If you raise your voice or become emotional, he will too.
4. Forgive & forget. No matter what his reaction, your final step in dealing with anger is to forgive your husband & forget the incident. Forgiveness is essential for a great marriage.
Forgiving means forgetting. It means wiping the slate clean. The woman who doesn't forgive will probably suffer physical fatigue & mental depression. It takes great physical energy to carry a grudge.
5. Outroof him. Statistics show there are more automobile accidents in the early-morning hours than at any other time of the day. The reason, studies conclude, is that husbands often leave home tense & angry, & take their frustrations out behind the wheel.
Remember, your attitude not only sets the atmosphere in your home, but also determines your husband's attitude for the day. Out of your own resources of love & stability, you can choose to protect him from his own emotions. You can defer your anger by replacing it with understanding. In other words, you can choose to protect your husband!
During Bible days, apartment-type homes were built atop the city walls. Part of the roof extended beyond the walls to protect them from rain & sun. The word describing the overhang is forbear, which means "outroof", the same word used in the command to forbear one another in love.--Eph.4:2. God tells us to outroof one another in love.
BLUEPRINT FOR BLESSINGS
One of the worst mistakes parents can make is to compare one child with another. He'll only hate the child he's being compared with, & resent you for it. He'll want to run away the first chance he has. If he isn't accepted for himself, he will grow up feeling inadequate, inferior & insecure.
Mr. Johnson encouraged his son to play football, but the boy wanted to play the violin. The father never made the football team in college, & he wanted his son to make up for his failure. He continually compared his son with the other boys until finally the humiliated boy decided, "I don't fit in here. I'll leave. Somewhere, someone will accept me just as I am."
At times we force our children to do something because of social pressure or what people will think. Remember that people are to love, & things are to use. Yet it is so easy to reverse these rules. Don't use your child.
Rule number one: Accept your child for what he is.
I Love You
Love is the most important gift any parent can give. Your gifts will not buy your child's love; your child wants you! He wants to hear you say those words, "I love you." He needs constant physical expression of your love.
When he was a baby, remember how he loved to be held? He'll never outgrow that need to be touched. Fulfill that need; tell him you love him. Kiss him, hug him, & touch him every day. Perhaps the whole family needs to become more physically affectionate. You may feel self-conscious at first, but someone has to start.
Rule number two: Express love verbally & physically every day.
Fun & Games
Three-year-old Susanne stayed in the kitchen while her mother cleaned up the breakfast dishes. She kept tugging at her mother's skirt, asking her to play dolls. Carolyn felt that being in the same room with her child was as good as playing. But this particular morning she realised the tugging said, "Love me, Mommy." Carolyn put her towel down, took the phone off the hook, & sat down on the floor. Susanne looked up with wide, starry eyes & exclaimed, "Mommy! Are we playing?" She knew the difference.
As you play with your child & encourage him to take part in the family traditions, you are building his confidence. He'll be much more inclined to follow your way of life if you have been close throughout the years, playing & having fun together.
Your child needs his father, too. Encourage your husband to play with the children, without nagging, of course! The average American father spends only a few minutes a week doing things his son wants him to do. Is it any wonder so many children won't listen to their fathers five or ten years later?
During the Cuban missile crisis in 1961, President Kennedy was in the White House living quarters one evening when presidential aide Dave Powers came to deliver a message. As he entered the dimly lit room, Dave heard the president speaking quietly & assumed that he was talking with a Cabinet member. Peering around the corner, Dave was surprised to see the president sitting with his daughter Caroline on his lap, reading to her from a storybook. Even during a World crisis, this man could spend time with his children. Can we afford to do less?
Rule number three: Play with your child.
A mother of four encouraged her youngest to sing, even though he had the worst voice in the family. The more he sang, the more she praised him. The boy gradually developed confidence in himself, & today is the leading soloist in the ninth grade.
We sometimes tend to criticise to make a child learn & obey. But constant criticism makes a child feel inferior & afraid. He thinks, "Mom doesn't love me. What's the use? If I can't please her, I might as well give up." This is the sentiment of many teenagers today who have sold themselves out so cheaply.
Your child has an image of himself, just as you do. He determines his self-estimate from your words, actions, & attitudes toward him. He tends to become like the image he has of himself. If you keep telling him, "You're so stupid," he'll grow up thinking he is stupid. If you keep asking, "What is the matter with you?" he'll wonder what's the matter with him. but if you encourage him, he'll try harder. Instead of putting him down for what he didn't do, praise him for what he did do.
Rule number four: Encourage your child.
In order to understand your child, the communication gap must first be bridged by you. Often that involves more listening than talking. Your child feels that if you love him, you will be willing to listen to him. I find these suggestions help me in listening to my children.
1. Be available. My Laura needs me to listen when she needs to talk. If I am not available, or if I'm too busy, she may be gone when I'm ready to listen.
2. Be fun to talk to. Every evening at dinner our family shares what Charles Shedd calls a "serendipity time". Serendipity means a pleasant, unexpected experience. Everyone in the family is encouraged to look positively at the day's events & share his one special highlight at dinner time.
Charlie & I also share our life stories with the girls. It helps communication to be honest, so we tell our faults, failures & funny times alike.
3. Be flexible & hear your child's side. At a neighbour's house recently, I heard the father interrupt his son & cut off all communication by saying, "In this house, you'll think my way. That's final & we'll not discuss it any more." Instead of trying to command your child to think your way, keep the lines of communication open so you'll know what he is thinking.
Rule number five: Talk with your child.
As a child, Charles Manson, the convicted murderer, was continually pampered & usually got his own way. Because he was never disciplined, he never learned self-control. Years later the consequences bore fruit. Studies of divergent youth show that a child who grows up without boundaries often cannot control himself in a sensible, consistent manner as an adult. He feels unloved, frustrated & rejected.
Discipline is child training. People sometimes equate "discipline" with spanking, but discipline is positive training--what you do for a child, not just what you do to him. Discipline consists of two basic steps: Setting limits in love, & correcting in love when these limits are broken. A parent who is fearful to limit, afraid to forbid, & unwilling to train, sends his child into the tangle-wood of life without a knowledge of the trails.
1. Set limits in love. True love protects a child from harm by keeping him from playing with fire. It is love that limits--for love's sake. It has been said that if God had wanted parents to be permissive, He would have given us the Ten Suggestions instead of the Ten Commandments! It is a child's nature to try to test his parents' limits, but as long as these limits hold firm, he feels safe.
Be firm & positive; offer your children constructive alternatives. Distraction is not only a great tool for little ones, but it also works wonders for big brother. If you condemn your child's friends, he will be forced to defend them. Offer new friends, new activities, & new interests. It is always easier to take away a cracker when you offer a cookie in its place.
2. Correct him in love. When your child oversteps the limits you have set for him, it is your responsibility to correct him in love. Dr. James Dobson, author of "Dare to Discipline," writes, "When he flops his hairy little toe across the line you've drawn, that's the time to give it to him."
Children are naturally disobedient, starting at about age fifteen months & lasting through adolescence. An obedient child is made, therefore, not born. The Bible, the original "How To Do It" Book, directs parents to discipline their children in love. According to Proverbs, spanking is still in. "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."--Pro.22:15. "Chasten thy son while there is hope, & let not thy soul spare for his crying."--Pro.19:18. "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die."--Pro.23:13. I guess God knew those heartbreaking moans would get to us. And if you think you love your child too much to spank him, the Bible also declares, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him."--Pro.13:24.
Rule number six: Discipline your child in love.
Don't Keep the Faith--Pass It On!
A reporter asked Rose Kennedy if she had but one thing to leave her children, what would it be? She answered, "Certainly it wouldn't be money & estate, or any other material thing, nor even success, could I guarantee it. Faith! It's the most important, the one legacy I would choose to pass on. When we have faith we are happy, because God is directing our lives, our work & our play. We need a sense of direction, a purpose to our life. Faith gives us confidence."
Rule number seven: Encourage spiritual growth in your children.
So far we've taken your old house, the fragmented you, & painted the outside. We've planted some new shrubs & repaired a few loose shutters. Inside, we've done some redecorating. All we need now is the power. Without a power source for heat, for light, for life, your shell is nothing more than a glorified outhouse.
Ten years ago I "plugged in" to the World's greatest power source. I established contact with my Creator, the Source of love--perfect Love. He gave me life, with a capital L. He turned on all the lights, brighter than I had ever seen, & He put all my pieces together again.
Please don't be satisfied with a new paint job & some redecoration. Plug yourself into the only One Who can give you life. Pascal said, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which cannot be satisfied by any created thing, but by God, the Creator..." God is waiting to fill your vacuum, to make you complete. Right now you can become a Total Woman.
I'd like to offer three final suggestions as you start putting some of this into practice:
1. Don't dwell on your past mistakes. If the water is already over the dam, there's no way to change it now. Why worry over something you cannot change or control?
2. Don't be discouraged when you slip back into old bad habits. A close friend told me how she had stood at her kitchen sink one night with a clenched fist, fuming over something her husband had said. She thought to herself, "I don't care what that old course says, I'm really going to let him have it." But then she remembered that her explosion method was usually ineffective anyway, so there over the sink she regained control. She changed her attitude & that worked!
Even if you blow it occasionally, gals, get up & try it again. Don't be too hard on yourself.
3. Concentrate on your own potential. Don't forget that your husband hand picked you from all the other girls. To him, you are something special, & have (or had) something that appeals to him. Develop that unique potential. The sky is the limit in your relationship with him. You have everything to gain & very little to lose by trying!