--Or "Is There Life After Marriage?"
--By Marabel Morgan
My husband Charlie & I recently talked with a couple who were calling their marriage quits. After we listened a while, I felt frustrated. Neither the man nor the woman could give any real reason for the divorce. They didn't fight, & in fact they said, "We're the best of friends!"
As we were discussing this with a friend, he said that in many cases the problem isn't compatibility at all, but a matter of will. "If neither party wants the marriage to continue," he told us, "all the courts, lawyers & psychiatrists in the World can't keep them together."
I remember how I felt when our marriage was in trouble. Instead of a divorce, I wanted a better marriage, so I embarked on a course of action designed to keep it alive & make it zing. My marriage was more important to me than the few silly things which were causing our arguments.
This book, therefore, is based on the premise that a woman wants her marriage or relationship to succeed. If she isn't interested in saving it, this is not for her. The key is in having the will to make it work & really trying!
Marriage need not be a drag, but before a woman can help revive her husband or children or marriage, I believe she must first find her own identity & release her own personality. Then marriage can be exciting & fun!
WHO AM I?
The story is told of a minister who attempted to settle a quarrel between two women in his parish. One day he called on Marsha & listened patiently for two hours as she vented her hostility toward Betty, her neighbour. During her verbal attack she paused & stared out the window at Betty's laundry blowing on the line. "Look," she demanded, full of wrath, "even her wash is dirty!" The minister looked & admitted to himself that the sheets on the line did indeed look very dirty.
Finally the pastor excused himself & went next door to visit Betty. He was immediately aware of her kind attitude & her sorrow over having a neighbour mad at her.
During their conversation he happened to glance out her window & saw the same sheets flapping on the line. To his surprise, the wash now looked clean & white. What had happened? The minister peered out the window & then he realised that the wash looked bright because her windows were clean.
A person looking through dirty windows sees distorted facts, feels hostility toward others & passes the blame. Anna Russell wrote a song about this type of person who does not take personal responsibility for their own dirty windows:
I went to my psychiatrist
to be psychoanalysed,
To find out why I killed the cat
and blackened my wife's eyes.
He put me on a downy couch
to see what he could find,
And this is what he dredged up
from my subconscious mind:
When I was one, my mommy hid
my dolly in the trunk,
And so it follows naturally,
that I am always drunk.
When I was two, I saw my father
kiss the maid one day,
And that is why I suffer now--
When I was three I suffered from
ambivalence toward my brothers,
So it follows naturally,
I poisoned all my lovers.
I'm so glad that I have learned
the lesson it has taught,
That everything I do that's wrong
is someone else's fault!
If you've been passing the blame for your problems or merely feeling sorry for yourself, how do you crawl out of your mental rut & begin to change?--By an act of your will. I finally told myself, "I'm not going to let my past control me. I'm going to change. I want to do it!" The key is the want to! King Solomon captured the process when he said, "As a man (or woman) thinketh in his heart, so is he."--Pro.23:7.
My attitude at any given moment determines how I will react, regardless of the situation. My husband & kids don't force me to lose my temper. The pressures of life don't compel me to take pills or drink or eat my way to obesity. My problems don't cause my actions; my problems simply reveal what I am inside.
Grouch Times Four. I know that my attitude usually sets the atmosphere in our house. If I'm a grouch at breakfast & sling the cereal bowls at my family, they react in the same way. Suddenly the grouch is multiplied by four. That makes four grouches stewing at the breakfast table.
On the other hand, when I try to set a positive atmosphere early in the morning, things seem to start so much better. Charlie & the girls also respond that way--or at least they do sometimes! And then it tests my patience to keep up a cheery frame of mind throughout the crises of the day.
Before I crawl out of bed, I thank the Lord for another day & ask for strength. The tasks before me aren't the issue; my attitude is. Sometimes I may just choose to pout, & I get a certain sadistic satisfaction from that. But it doesn't compare with the exhilarating joy that comes when I fall into bed at night thinking, "What a day! I did well, I feel good, thank You Lord!"
Potential Unlimited. Your age, your health & your circumstances may or may not be limitations. We are all limited in one way or another, but our job is to work with our potential rather than deplore our limitations. None of us can do more than we can do. But we can probably do more than we think!
Scientists say that your human brain is composed of 10 billion working parts. You are capable of accepting 10 new facts every second. You have the capacity to know & understand 100 trillion different words. Talk about potential! Forget your problems, concentrate on your potential & set your course!
Do you like what you are & what you see? If you do, that's great. But if you don't like some aspects of yourself, what are your alternatives?--Change it if you can, or accept it if you can't. In the familiar words of the poet, "O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what should be changed, & wisdom to know the difference."
Who Nose? There are as many problems as there are people. One problem that pops up occasionally is how to accept an ugly feature or physical impairment. Changing your attitude in these matters is much more effective & far less expensive than surgery.
Paula, for example, felt her nose was too big for her face. She kept apologising to her husband Bob for it, until one day he said, "I love you just the way you are. I love your nose. You're beautiful. Now stop insulting my taste!"
My Body, My House. Every woman knows she will grow old some day & lose the bloom of youth. Yet when it begins to happen, she registers shock. Wrinkles appear, & the law of gravity begins pulling on everything below the chin.
Proverbs Chapter 31 describes God's total woman. One of her chief characteristics is no fear of old age because she follows His plan for her, day by day. He makes life so great there's not much time to fret about the sags & bags, much less time to fear them.
In my case there are many things I can never change about myself, but I'm not going to waste any time wishing I could. I accept them (sometimes over & over) & then I can get on with the important business of giving, loving & bringing joy to myself & others. As Jesus said, there certainly is more to life than the body! Your body is just a shell, a "house" you wear. The real you which is inside your body will someday leave.
Life is so short. Begin today to develop your talents & personality. The ache of inferiority is a tragedy & a waste. As you accept & develop your personality, you'll be more positive, energetic & enthusiastic!
WHERE AM I GOING?
A friend of mine who's a Reverend once said, "If you have no place to go & no plan to get there, you'll stay lost." The Bible says, "Without a vision, the people perish." --Pro.29:18.
Where are you going? Think about it. Evaluate your daily life. Are you expressing your talents & personality the best you can? Do you have goals for the future? If you had one year yet to live, what would you accomplish during those 365 days?
Bypass the Barriers. For most people, the two main barriers to setting realistic goals are the ruts & the roadblocks. Millions of good intentions have gone down the tube because of these two simple but devious culprits.
Barrier 1: The Ruts. Harriet Habit stays in her rut & won't break out for anything or anyone. Years ago, Harriet's groove turned into a rigid rut which cannot or will not be changed. Her favourite excuses against any new ideas are: "I've always done it this way," or, "I'm too busy." She never takes I can for an answer.
How much easier it is to stay in a rut than to try to break out of it. Someone has defined a rut as "nothing more than a grave with both ends missing."
But can you develop your talents or express your potential while trapped in a rut? I can't. For me the only way out is to climb out & blaze a new trail.
When I finally decided to write a book, Harriet quickly reminded me, "You're too busy. You've got meals to cook & diapers to fold & kids to train."
Barrier 2: The Roadblocks. In addition to Harriet Habit, Phoebe Phobia strikes fear into the heart of anyone determined to create & accomplish. She takes true facts & distorts them with fear. Her roadblocks shriek "Danger" when there is none. "I'm too old for that," "I'm too young," "too dumb" etc.
Psychological barriers, if you believe them, appear to be real & enslave you even before you start. Sometimes your best friends may tell you, "You can't do it," & if you listen you'll find they are right. You can't.
When I was trying to write, I ran smack into a roadblock which said, "Stop! You're not a writer." The small print in the corner read "Courtesy of Phoebe Phobia." Finally making it past that one, I came to another which stopped me dead in my tracks. It read, "What if you fail?" Knowing that nothing guarantees failure like fearing it, I hurried away from that one too.
Once you've set your goal, it's important to picture it as done. Without this finished picture in your mind, you'll give up halfway. With it, there's no limit to what you might accomplish.
From Here to Eternity. Once a goal has been set, the next step is planning a strategy to reach it. Map out a specific course. Having a plan gives you the motivation to follow through.
One common trait of every successful person is organisation. Plan ahead before you jump in. A former president of DuPont pointed out, "One minute spent in planning saves three or four minutes spent in execution." Those three or four minutes add up over a day & a year & a lifetime. A Total Woman sets aside time to plan carefully. She makes sure her life is counting not just for time, but for Eternity.
After you have planned your work, then work your plan. My plan consists of prayer & perspiration. Prayer is the most essential ingredient in starting any new project. When I ask for God's direction each morning, I believe that He will answer. He has, He is & He will.
Perspiration is also necessary. Work is the World's easiest escape from boredom & the only surefire road to success. Thomas Edison said, "I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work."
Don't Panic. Phyllis Diller, while talking about her disorganised housekeeping, quipped, "I'm 18 years behind on my ironing. There's no use doing it now--it doesn't fit anyone I know!"
The one problem which seems to hit women the hardest is simply too much work & too little time. What can you do? First of all, acknowledge that there are only 24 hours in a day.
The only real variable is how you choose to use the 24-hour days allotted to you. Time is precious. In the words of William Penn, "Time is what we want most, but alas, we use worst." Benjamin Franklin advised, "Do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of."
A civic-minded friend told me how much she hates to sit through meetings each month. So many women spend so much of their lives doing things they really don't want to do. God's plan for your life is fulfilling, not agitating. I don't know anyone who isn't busy, but busyness may be nothing but spinning wheels or going in circles. A Total Woman is result-oriented, not activity-oriented.
Worst Things First. Probably the best daily organisational plan, in a nutshell, is doing first things first. List all your immediate responsibilities & work on them in their order of importance.
I find that it helps to prepare your list for tomorrow's jobs tonight. This way your subconscious mind is preparing for action even while you sleep.
Defuse the pressure spots by tackling worst things first, early in the day when you're fresh. Delaying action on those worst things only increases your tension & makes the problems loom larger. Sometimes facing a problem squarely makes it diminish in size or even disappear altogether.
Even my girls are learning to make their priority lists the night before, so that the most important things in their young lives are accomplished.
The secret to attaining goals is working a little bit on it every day. You can't move a mountain in a day, even if you work until you're exhausted. Pace yourself. Don't stay on the goal until you're bleary. Break down your big projects into little projects.
Years ago I knew that a ten-minute nap with my feet elevated on a pillow made my eyes sparkle for my date. Years of marriage & babies had blotted that beauty tip from my brain until recently, when I found it still works wonders. You might want to write that nap slot on your personal schedule!
Roll, Baby, Roll. What happens when your best laid plans are suddenly scrapped & you find yourself suddenly facing new circumstances? I hardly ever experience a "Plan A" day anymore. Life & its upsets seem to gain momentum as I grow older. But I am much more able to cope when I have a workable plan. When the bottom drops out & everything is in chaos, I have two choices: Go bananas or be flexible enough to adjust to Plan B or Plan C or T. I'm learning to make things that go wrong part of my plan. Daily crises are another of life's challenges, but my attitude can make the overcoming fun, wherever I am.
The Bible says a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. When I have a merry heart it's easy to speak kindly with others & cope with Plan B, & it helps to melt away the troubles. Remember too, when things go wrong, only your plan has failed; you haven't.
One final helpful tip: Keep a pad & pencil at hand all day & by your bedside. Jot down thoughts as they come to mind. Otherwise you'll probably forget.
THE JOY OF GIVING
Accept. For years I worked on Charlie & tried to change his intense interest in football. I was determined to broaden his horizons. He was a fanatic. So was I, & I nagged him. Finally I realised that in working on my MHO post-marital degree (Making Hubby Over), I was driving a deep wedge between Charlie & myself.
Nagging, according to the Bible, is like "a constant dripping" (Pro.27:15), a Chinese water torture. Charlie was experiencing pure misery while I was trying to be "helpful".
Nick O'teen. Judging from the mail I receive, there must be millions of other sports nuts across America. The complaints come from wives who don't share that same enthusiastic love for any kind of game.
By the way, I've become a sports nut myself since I took an interest. But if your husband is a sports nut of some kind & you don't like ball games, I know your problem. Of course there are scores of other problems that wives complain about, such as a husband's smoking. Whether you happen to be married to Joe Jock or Nick O'teen or one of their fanatical relatives, & you don't like what he's doing, what are your alternatives? Pick one or more:
Opening Statement: Tell him, "I don't like your smoking" (or whatever it is).
Once more with feeling: Tell him again, slowly & deliberately, "I-don't-like-your-smoking."
Screaming Mimi: Scream, "I hate your smoking!"
Your health: Cough & fan smoke, then leave the room gasping.
His health: Send him cancer warnings anonymously.
6) Sugar substitute: Hide his cigarettes & replace with candy ones.
Brute force: Snatch away his cigarette the next time he lights up.
8) Frozen silence: Don't talk to him or grant him any marital favors until he stops.
All of the above.
All of these are attempts to make your husband change his ways. But they don't usually work, do they? Then what are your alternatives?
As I see it, you can either make yourself & your husband miserable for years by trying to force a change against his will, or you can accept whatever he's doing that is bothering you.
The principle of accepting another person is basic to any human relationship. If some habit of your husband or your friend seems to irritate you, that may be a clue you're not really accepting that person.
Free to Be. So what are you going to do about what hubby won't change? If you're not having any success changing your husband's (or your friend's) #1 fault, then just accept him the way he is, with it. That suggestion may cause tremors in your nervous system, but it may be worth a try if all else has failed. Here's why.
First of all, that negative habit of your husband may not be a fault at all, but a love, such as the husband who's a workaholic because he loves his work.
Second, if you suspect your mate won't ever break out of his rut, face that fact & accept it. Most unhappy marriages are created by trying to change what cannot be changed.
Third, when you accept your husband just the way he is, a weight rolls off your shoulders. No longer will you be heading a correctional institution. Once the burden is lifted, your life will improve.
Fourth, acceptance really does work wonders. A woman wrote to me complaining about her husband's drinking. Completely fed up, she finally moved out with the baby & filed for divorce.
After several weeks she reconsidered & went back home again for one last try, but against her better judgement she began to nag again. He said, "If you keep pushing me, I'll only drink more; but if you shut up about it, things will work out." She shut up, & believe it or not, he stopped. When she began encouraging him instead of nagging him, she found a new man. Not another man, but her own husband! Of course, not all husbands may respond favourably, but acceptance frees a man to be himself.
Now that we've considered the perils of nagging, it's only fair to confess that I haven't kicked the habit myself. I do bite my tongue a lot, quite a lot. That isn't to say that I never express myself & my feelings. I do. But after a while, I just try not to bug Charlie any more. If I have an emotional need to nag, I try to take it out on a friend who doesn't take it personally.
Most of us have a crying need for admiration & appreciation. A man tries to fill that need in many ways. But he longs for respect & admiration from his wife more than any other person. You can transform your husband from a "Who's he?" to "Who's Who on Main Street" by a few genuine words of encouragement. You can make him your star tonight.
When Charlie tells me I've done a good job, suddenly I'm motivated again. I have the same power to motivate him. What could be easier than expressing my love with a little verbal sunshine? Many a woman has written to me to tell of her husband's overwhelming response to a compliment she gave at the end of the day. At the beginning of the day, at the end, & all the way through, a man can't have too many!--A man, a woman or any person!
In poetic terms, admiration can put back the skip in a husband's walk, the sparkle in his eyes, & the flutter in his heart. He will dare to dream again & believe in his abilities, because you've told him you do.
If a husband needs admiration, why then is a wife sometimes reluctant to give it? Why is it a threat to admire the man she married? The kindest words about a person are usually spoken after he's dead & not around to appreciate the eulogy.
Pop Goes the Ego. I've observed that at any point in time I'm affecting people around me in either a positive or a negative way. So is everyone else. I've also noticed that it's usually easier to be negative than positive.
We start out the day reading the horror stories on Page 1, & so often it's all downhill from there. Former Chief Justice Earl Warren commented, "I always turn to the sports page first. The sports page records people's accomplishments; the front page has nothing but Man's failures."
The style of today is to tear people down. If words could wound, Mankind would be in a mass intensive-care ward. Well, that's not for me! I prefer to look for the good news & be a positive influence in my sphere.
How to Make Your #1 Be #1. 1. Be sincere in your admiration. True admiration gives reassurance. One lady, who didn't think her husband was particularly good-looking, began to look for things to admire about him. "I've discovered qualities I'd never thought about before. Now since I've been admiring him, he's become the most handsome man on Earth."
2. Admire his body. See your husband as he sees himself. When he looks in the mirror he doesn't see his receding hairline but all his manly qualities.
3. Admire his accomplishments. This principle of admiration works well with children, friends & anyone you meet. When a football coach was fired last year, one of his players remarked, "He was too quick to criticise & too slow to compliment."
Once a wife begins to admire her husband out of a heart of love, the results are far-reaching.
Before marriage, many a woman imagines that her husband-to-be will always agree with everything she says & never challenge any of her ideas. Unfortunately, while she's thinking it's her show, he's thinking the same thing!
After marriage a couple may encounter for the first time the Conflict Monster, who feeds on two opposite opinions. Two different opinions can arise on almost any subject--& usually do.
The challenge in life is to blend these two egos so that the two go down life's road together with a minimum of friction. Adapting is simply a method which solves the problem of two egos battling in marriage. The Scriptures which gave us the principle that a house divided against itself cannot stand also said, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands." (Eph.5:22.)
The very word "adapt" is an explosive word. I find that it almost always brings a sudden & rather violent reaction, depending on the present company, of course, & her degree of hostility. In some cases this is because of a misunderstanding. A woman may compete with men on any level & even be more successful in business than he is. The principle of a wife's adapting to her husband as stated throughout the Bible is limited to her husband, not to all men in general. This principle, more than any other, may be the one that makes or breaks a marriage.
What a Difference a Tree Makes. Before I discovered this principle, years ago, Charlie & I disagreed over whether or not to cut down a scraggly tree in front of the house. There wasn't room for a middle-of-the-road accommodation solution, it was either the tree or no tree. I knew he wanted it, & I hated it.
One day when he left for work, I took his hatchet & cut down the stupid, scrawny tree. With the lyrics ringing in my ears of Frank Sinatra's "I Did It My Way," that night I confessed to Charlie that I had cut down his favourite tree. It was weeks before we were friends again. (I later realised just how stupid this was! Charlie was far more important to me than the tree.)
The consequences of doing things "my way" can be grave. When I cut down the tree, I was only doing what I had been doing for six years--my thing. But my way was lonely.
As I continued to cut down other types of trees in my marriage, I was more & more unhappy & lonely. Demanding my own way every time became obnoxious, even to me. I wasn't happy even after I got what I wanted, & I certainly wasn't happy at the prospect of a divorce. "My way" was a one-way street. What was the alternative? The Bible gives specific instructions to wives: "Submit, & obey your own husbands."
Like women everywhere, I react rather violently at times to the idea of submitting to my husband. I know the principle well, but often I skip over it for two reasons.
First of all, I ignore the principle because I'm a stubborn, opinionated hothead with a mind of my own. Before I was married, I lived alone & supported myself for almost nine years. I loved my independence & being my own boss, & disliked the idea of having another person tell me what to do. I had my "rights" & feared being restricted. Even now, after 12 years of marriage, those feelings still flash through me during times of conflict.
Second, I resist adapting because I feel my way is the best way. Often it really is, & that's what makes it all the more difficult.
But no matter how much I dislike the idea of adapting & submitting, I'm certain that in God's plan my responsibility to God & my husband is to follow his lead. As much as lies within me, I try to do it. Submission, after all, is not subservience. Subservience means an involuntary action against one's will, such as slavery, whereas submission is voluntary.
Fortunately, I rarely have to apply this principle. Charlie & I usually work out most of our conflicts at the compromise level.
I've also found that since I determined in my own mind to adapt (when all attempts at compromise have failed), my husband was not unreasonable. In fact, frequently he will change his mind & do exactly what I wanted to do all along!
Loving the Unlovely. Adapting involves giving. Adapting is not giving for the sake of getting; that's manipulation. Anybody can spot a phoney. Don't you know when you're being manipulated? So does your husband.
Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition. Anyone who has been married knows that at times both mates must give more than 50% to make a successful marriage. Jesus even exhorted us to give 100% with no thought of what you'll receive in return.
One friend of mine said that adapting is simply the Golden Rule: "What ye would have others do unto you, first do ye unto them." He notes, "What a privilege & advantage it is to be the one to initiate a cycle of behaviour. This is for strong & honest women, not for weak, conniving, hostile or defiant ones."
It was Helen Keller who said, "Life is an exciting business, & most exciting when it is lived for others."
There is an attitude which does more to keep you well than any other. It is thanksgiving. Gratitude seems to stimulate the life force & keep it flowing.
Appreciation has no relation whatsoever to your personal evaluation of something; for example whether the meal was especially good or bad. Instead, it is your positive response to a favor another person has done for you, such as an invitation to dinner. If the meal is truly inedible (which isn't usually the case), don't blame your host or hold him responsible for taking you there. Once a person makes a special effort to do a favor for another, it is the height of rudeness & insult to fail to express your appreciation.
When husbands & children observe Mommy being appreciative, they catch that marvellous trait themselves. We try to teach & encourage our little girls to be aware of other people's feelings. Some teaching pointers:
1. Never fail to express appreciation for a favor.
2. An appreciative spirit should be "caught", not taught.
3. Criticism wipes out motivation, but appreciation works wonders.
4. In giving appreciation, be sincere & specific. When Laura made the Honor Roll in the fourth grade, I told her how pleased & proud I was of her achievement. Michelle, standing nearby, looked downcast & asked gloomily, "Aren't you proud of me, Mommy?"
I stooped down & put my arms around her. "Michelle," I told her, "I certainly am proud of you." She looked unimpressed & asked, "For what?"
Appreciation motivates! Husbands learn by example. Whether your husband is a superstar or a little guy, his needs in this area are great. Even a headliner needs praise for motivation, but all the more so the unheralded type who will never make the headlines. His life consists of working hard all day & feeding several hungry kids at night. He's faithful to his wife, he pays his bills, he plays with the kids & loves the Lord. That's news!
Important Words. If he does an odd job well around the house or does well at work, compliment his accomplishment. The five most important words in marital relations are, "You did a good job." Appreciation comes in two flavors: Thanks & compliments.
Sex not only excites, but also comforts a man. This afternoon your husband may have a headache. The pressures of work may have given him indigestion after lunch. Sometimes a man begins to wonder if it's worth it all. How desperately he needs to be comforted, & how marvellously sex comforts. You can help soothe away his frustrations (& your own too), as you begin to satisfy each other sexually.
365 Ways to Fix Hamburger. Dr. David Reuben said, "Most men operate on a 48-hour cycle--that is, they need sex that often to keep them on an even keel."
Your husband's hunger for sex is as gnawing as his hunger for food. But unlike stomaching hamburger every night, a man hardly ever tires of sex. A wife has the potential to turn on her husband time after time for a lifetime, but like hamburger, you may have to prepare yourself in a variety of different ways now & then.
If you want your marriage to work, one of the best ways to do it is to keep your husband babied, pampered, cuddled, loved & interested only in you. When a man's got butter in the refrigerator at home, he won't go out on the streets for margarine.
The Odd Couple. Around the World there are many "Herman hot-to-trot's" & "Nellie Not-tonight's". He wants it & she doesn't. Many, many letters have poured in from men voicing their longing desire. Expressing the ache he felt, one man wrote: "I love my wife, but in all these years she has never responded positively to my sexual advances. I could write a book on her negative excuses: `I've got a headache,' or `We're not kids any more,' or `I'm so tired.'"
Dr. Henrietta Klein, Doctor of Psychology in New York, writes, "A woman is perfectly aware that sex is a man's most vulnerable spot."
Most women respond sexually on the honeymoon & in the early years of marriage. But over the years the fire often dies as multiple kinds of problems begin to surface.
Most husbands aren't sex fiends, believe it or not. But sometimes a husband with a normal sex drive is considered oversexed by a wife whose level is unusually low. Her level may have been diminished because of various reasons ranging from being tired to malnutrition or tension from an erratic schedule.
Occasionally the "want-to" sex ratio is tipped the other way, & the wife is the eager one. Sometimes when a husband has little or no interest in sex, his anxious wife is jumping out of her skin in frustration. I'm not talking about the case of Nympho Nellie, but rather Herman Not-to-trot.
Unless both partners are being satisfied sexually, one partner may be crying out, "Hey, I've got needs! I'm frustrated because I need you to need me." Talking out the problem could begin to put the gears in motion.
Bitterness. Another barrier to a warm sexual relationship is bitterness from one or both partners.
A woman from Indiana says her husband is the neighborhood grouch, "but the minute he touches me, I'm supposed to melt & fall into his arms."
Every woman knows that "touch". Every woman also knows how to regulate sex like a female Santa Claus, depending on whether he's been "naughty or nice." But therein lies a danger. Regardless of who is bitter, using sex as a weapon or reward may backfire.
Bad moods or disagreements do not necessarily mean the end of love. On the contrary, his bad mood itself may be the signal that he needs her sexual love. A woman wants to make up before she makes love. Completely mystified by her indifference or outright hostility, her husband only knows he wants to make love in order to make up.
WIVES & LOVERS!
Waving goodbye to your husband as he leaves in the morning is such a simple act that only takes a few minutes, but the encouragement factor is enormous.
Spicy, "sweet something's" also help liven up the scene. Kathy, a wife of six years, put this poem in her husband's lunchbox:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I feel kind of sexy
Please come home at 2.
Kathy went shopping all morning. Her husband worked 30 miles away, so she thought there was no chance he would come home before 5:00. But when she returned at 2:30, she found this note that he had written stuck in the front door:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue
I was home at 2
Where were you?
"You can be sure," she wrote, "that I never cried `Wolf' again!"
Bed & Bored. I believe a man can stand almost anything except boredom. A group of husbands who had been unfaithful to their wives were interviewed as to why they had wandered. The overwhelming reason was boredom.
Every man needs excitement & high adventure at his own address. After all, the same nightie worn night after night & month after month loses some of its sex appeal with each passing year.
Husbands sometimes tire of nighties anyway, so why not dress up (or undress) in some out of the ordinary costume. Husbands love it, & in dressing up for him, you can't help but feel a little excited & lighthearted too. When you're acting like a kid, your barriers are down & that's good for sex.
Just as important as your costume is the place you choose to share your love. Scenes of costumes & subsequent beautiful times have been reported from the most interesting locations--diving boards, trampolines, bales of hay, sleeping bags--any place as long as it takes normal intercourse out of the category of "boring".
Maybe you can't have a costume party once a week, but how about once a month? How about once a year? Sometime, somewhere when he least expects it.
And what if your husband doesn't respond to your surprise? First of all, check to see if your attitude matches your costume. A friend of mine said, "Your attitude is the most important costume you can wear, & also the least expensive, but sometimes the hardest to change."
First Timers. Orgasm, or the lack of one, rates high among a woman's sex problems. Since the subject of orgasm is so taboo, that makes it difficult for many women to discuss it. Some have even written to ask, "How can my friend get an orgasm?"
Whatever the reason, the only thing that stands between any woman & an orgasm is about 2 pounds of tissue--the brain. Only your brain can tell yourself, "It's OK, just relax & enjoy it!" As you surrender, you will reach the threshold of the climax & one day you will go over the peak into the intense thrill & exquisite relief of the orgasm.
Standing Ovation. Psychologists say that every man has two needs which, if met by his wife, will cause him to absolutely adore her. One is warm sexual love, & the other compliments.
When George came home from work one evening, Ann knew he was drained & worn. He needed a dose of both sex & compliments. Following a delicious dinner, creative Ann retired to the bedroom, determined to satisfy those two important needs. After they made mad, passionate love that night, Ann leaped out of bed & applauded!
Happy Talk. The trouble with most marriages today, according to one marriage counselor, is that Mr. & Mrs. America cannot communicate with each other.
Communication is verbal intercourse using words to exchange messages or opinions. Throughout our first year of marriage, the barriers slowly began to build. I didn't know how to make them go away. Eventually our communication broke down. So did our sex life. Though we tried to make up after a quarrel, I never felt our breach was fully healed.
Before I could speak what was on my heart, I needed a climate of receptivity, & so did Charlie. I didn't know that a man cannot communicate with a nagging wife. I was making Charlie's love for me dry up. I was the one who was cutting off communications. I was ignorant of knowing how to meet his needs. When I discovered how, Charlie began talking again.
In any relationship, when the lines of communication are open with give & take on both sides, there is usually hope for solving any kind of problem. How do you keep these lines open? May I offer a few suggestions which have worked for me & others?:
1. Since I tend to speak before I think, I try to follow a general rule taken from the Bible: "Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely or of good report, think on these things." (Ph.4:8.) When I deliberately "think on the good", I begin to feel kindly toward Charlie--& other people too--& I am not nearly as likely to tear them down. So try to think about the positive qualities in others.
2. Ask questions. Whenever I am stumped for a conversation opener with my husband or anyone else, I find that a question is the answer. However egotistical it may seem, nevertheless each of us is delighted when another person really cares & asks questions about our interests in life. I find that questions designed to draw out the other person also help put him at ease.
3. Stop, look & listen. The Duchess of Windsor once said, "A woman must learn to be a good listener." I agree.--Not because she is a woman, but because listening doesn't come naturally for anyone. We all come into the World wanting the World to listen to us. Children often outshout each other to be heard, & that includes children of all ages.
4. Encourage. Abraham Lincoln once said, "You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong."
Wives are often guilty of "the discouraging word". One Saturday Dave decided to trim some enormous trees that overpowered his backyard. He worked all day & at 4:00 his wife, who had been shopping, came home just as Dave was wiping his face on his sleeve. Well," he said, wearily, "how's it look?"
She dismissed all his backbreaking work with a glance & emphatically stated, "You sure have a long way to go!"
What a master of the subtle put-down! She could have helped soothe Dave's fatigue simply by saying, "Honey, you're doing a great job! I know it's hot out here, but look how much you've cleared out. This yard is going to be beautiful!" In so many homes there seldom is heard an encouraging word, & the clouds are just stormy all day long.
When I Hurt. For me, the most difficult time to communicate is when I hurt. Not the Band-Aid & aspirin hurt, but the hurt hurt. The mad hurt. The disillusioned hurt. When this happens, it's almost impossible for me to keep cool, but I wanted to pass on some simple tips on how to ride through the fire from my own experience:
1. Don't slam the door. Whenever I am mad or under pressure, I have a tendency to react immediately & negatively to any new idea. And when I say "No!", in my mind I slam the door on Charlie & all communication is cut off.
2. Don't clam up. The Bible says if you are angry, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Eph.4:26,32.)
Columnist T.R. VanDellen wrote, "Healthy & vigorous men usually can take ordinary aches & pains in stride, but anger, frustration & gloom sap their strength. For centuries, emotional upsets such as anger have been known to bring chest pains (heart attacks) & sudden death. Hostility elevates the blood pressure, constricts blood vessels, increases stomach acid, churns up the stomach & raises the blood sugar."
3. Don't duck the blame. When your husband knows you have accepted him totally, sometimes he will start telling you what he doesn't like. This too is communication. If he feels free to tell you, respond by listening. Don't interrupt to defend yourself. And if you see that you were wrong, admit it.
4. Don't carry chips. Once the war is over, then forgive him & forget it. The very word "forgive" implies that you've been wronged, & is not conditional on someone else apologising first. Forgiveness may even be a one-way street. For Jesus it was. And keep on forgiving, "even 70 times 7".
Be Loyal, Not a Critic. 1 Corinthians 13 is known as "the Love Chapter" in the Bible. If you love someone, Verse 7 says that you will be loyal no matter what the cost. Loyalty can be expressed in at least three ways:
1. Always believe in him. When you & your husband have a disagreement, you can be for the man even though you may not be for the plan.
2. Always expect the best of him. When your husband suggests a new idea, encourage him. Instead of expecting the worst by nagging him & dragging your heels, be his #1 cheerleader. Tell him you know he can do it, & watch the spirit in your family rise.
3. Always stand your ground in defending him. Many wives are working on a PhD degree in Putting Hubby Down. This favorite course is designed to destroy all confidence & initiative in your man. Putting hubby down is also putting yourself down. After all, he's your husband.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The story is told that once President James Garfield & a friend were crossing the street when suddenly Garfield bowed to the little newsboy on the corner. As they continued on, the President's friend asked him, "Did you know him?"
"No," answered Garfield, "but I bowed because no one knows who is buttoned inside that boy's jacket."
A boy is the only thing that God can use to make a man. In his process of the making of a man, what an important part parents play--especially the mother. Even though a mother may accept the challenge eagerly, at times the weight of this responsibility seems overwhelming.
When one of those "overwhelming days" hits, a mother's first tendency is to blame the little screaming banshee for being incorrigible. The kid is the culprit. Or is he? If parents hardly know how to raise their children, how can you expect a child to learn the way.
After Junior & the baby have fussed & whined all day, it is a mother's natural tendency not only to blame the kids, but also her husband. I used to nag Charlie from the minute he walked in the door, "Please! Play with your kids. They don't even know they have a father. I've had them all day. Here, you take them!" To him, it was like changing of the guards. No wonder he only pulled the newspaper higher.
But when I began to meet Charlie's needs as a person, he became a wonderful husband & father. He acted as if he were seeing the girls for the first time, & began to spend hours playing with them.
I believe that one of the best things a mother can do for her children is to love their daddy.
Affection! A mother once told me she no longer kissed her daughter because she figured a teenager "outgrew that sort of thing." Once she realised the importance of physical contact, she began to kiss her daughter good-bye in the mornings as she left for school.
The mother later reported: "When I kissed her the first morning, she pulled away & said, `Oh Mom!' The second morning she didn't pull away, but she didn't respond much either. The third morning she kissed me!"
Hug & hold. No matter how old your child is, it's never too late to start. Every person is born with a basic human need to be touched by others. Parents who withhold that touch are not meeting this vital need & are depriving their children of the security of feeling loved.
Love unconditionally. Mr. Carlson's son was arrested on a drug charge. The next day Mr. Carlson told the incident to his associate, who remarked, "If he were my son, I'd kick him out!"
"If he were your son, I'd kick him out too!" Carlson shot back. "But he's not; he's mine."
Encourage. A child's feeling of worth is transmitted from his parents in various ways, among them the acts of hugging, accepting, loving & encouraging. Praise especially does wonders for a child in helping to develop his or her special abilities. Studies have shown that children who are praised perform much better on skill tests than do children who are not.
Set boundaries with latitude. "No" can be such an ugly word to anyone, but especially with children. Since I must say it frequently, I try to avoid it whenever possible. Rather than saying "no" too often, I use phrases designed to soften the blow or redirect their actions, such as, "I'd rather you didn't," or, "Let's do something else instead."
Make the mundane fun. Children have a marvellous capacity for seeing wonder in the commonplace. Make-believe & reality fit comfortably together in a child's mind. The parent who can join in make-believe recaptures the miracle of childhood & gains the admiration & trust of the young.
Correct the overstep. Discipline involves two steps. The first is setting reasonable boundaries for children, & the second, correcting them when the boundaries are overstepped. Step #2 isn't pleasant, but it's very necessary. For me the main reason is the Scriptural admonition. We as parents are instructed to correct them, & our children are commanded to obey.
When punishing teens, it sometimes helps to give them a choice, & in these cases they rarely think parents are unfair. For example, contrary to her Dad's instructions, Carol drove the family car to her boyfriend's house after school. In private, her parents discussed the penalty & agreed to take away her car privileges for a week.
Then they asked Carol what she thought they should do. She admitted her wrong & felt that two weeks would be fair. Since it was her first offense, her parents kept the keys for 10 days. Young people seem to often suggest a more severe discipline than parents do, proving over & over again that they do want limits.
Celebrate. To make life exciting, Charlie & I prefer to create & celebrate with our children at least once a week, over anything & everything: For the cleanest room, a happy birthday, if Daddy gets home early, or if Daddy gets home! Or we prepare a special meal together, or have a picnic, or a special meal at home & dress up for "night in Italy" when we serve pasta etc.! The kids love it, & we do too.
Create. An editorial for "Newsweek" suggested: "I propose that for 60 to 90 minutes each evening, right after the early evening news, all television broadcasting in the U.S. be prohibited by law."
Television fixation has become addictive to children of all ages. The side effects are twofold: First of all, creativity is stifled. I don't know of any great work of art or music or literature which was created during a soap opera. Second, the input received is often negative, a red-meat diet of slaughter, mayhem & murder. Studies indicate that children exposed to this diet night after night tend to become disturbed & more prone to violence themselves.
So we prefer to read or talk together, have a little "performance" from the girls as one plays the piano etc.
Feed Spiritually. Just before putting our children to bed, we set aside time for spiritual nourishment. It's not always feasible, but whenever possible we have this time together. A spiritual foundation will give our girls the confidence that nothing else on Earth can give. Knowing that God loves them & has a wonderful place for them gives them stability in the face of temptation.
Time spent reading the Bible each night ranks as top priority because we know the importance of implanting the Word early. Reading the Bible each day may sound boring to some, but our goal is to make it practical, not a ritual. We vary the place where we read, sometimes lying on our bed, or in the living room, or occasionally under the stars with a flashlight. And then after we read the Word, we say our prayers.
Sir William Gladstone once asked his young nephew, "What do you plan to do with your life, John?"
"I want to study law, Uncle William," he replied.
"And then what?" asked Sir William.
"Well, then I hope to be an apprentice & become a reputable lawyer."
"Then what?" queried Gladstone.
"Well, I suppose I shall look for a wife & raise a family."
"Then what?" persisted Gladstone.
Somewhat exasperated, young John sputtered a bit & said, "Well, I'll acquire a fortune & make a good life &..."
"And then what?" came the same question.
Completely unnerved, he blustered, "Well, I guess I'll die!"
Sir William Gladstone gently asked, "And then what?"
What is the purpose of it all? I believe a woman is just spinning her wheels until she is fulfilled by the Ultimate, God Himself. He is the only One who can get it all together & keep it all there. He is the only One Who can make you complete, total! He is the only One Who can give you a good attitude. And best of all, He offers you Eternal Life. His Name: Jesus of Nazareth.
Fickle Fate. When a boyfriend or a husband is "the only key to happiness," it's dangerous to get out of bed in the morning. One researcher estimated that 85% of all American marriages are terminated either in the courts or in the heart. Sooner or later husbands & boyfriends may bring disillusionment. And then what?
Happiness is fickle. Happiness (or lack of it) is contingent on the moment, the boyfriend, the husband. Happiness is unpredictable & elusive. It depends on people & circumstances, but people & circumstances often change unexpectedly. "Poof", & the best-laid plans go up in smoke. But Jesus can bring joy through a relationship with God!
Henpecked Henry. Most of the women I've talked with want to make it. They want a happy marriage. The only variable is how.
One question I'm frequently asked by women who are considering a change from nag to lover is, "What if I do all these things for my husband but he never responds, & I get left holding the bag?"
That's a fair question, & I suggest that it be answered with a question. If your marriage isn't everything you ever hoped it would be, & you want it to be just super, what are your alternatives right now? They are usually two-fold: To nag or to love.
If "to nag" is your bag, the next question is whether your way is working. If Henpecked Henry is happy at home, then keep it up. But if he's not, then what? If all else has failed, how about love as a last resort? Love is an alternative, regardless of whether you have tried it, & if you haven't, you will never know what love might have done.
Phoebe Revisited. On the road to Mend-a-Marriage, you can also count on Phoebe Phobia to strike fear at the most unexpected time. Whenever she sees joy, that defeater loves to intimidate & snatch it away. She asks such questions as, "Love that creep? Are you kidding? Why should you give in to him first? What about your rights?"
Well, why are you doing it anyway?--For what you will get, or for the joy of giving?
The Stalemate. The question in so many marriages is simply who (if anyone) is willing to make the first step towards restoring love. If you are caught in a vicious circle, you can step out of it any time you choose. Phyllis wrote to say, "Thank you so much. Today after eight years of marriage I received my first hello kiss. I would have melted right on the spot but I decided I wanted to be around for more & more."
She & Mike had been in a stalemate for eight years. "That was me," she said, "the Stale Mate. Neither of us was willing to initiate love. Year after year I kept waiting for the romance to come. All the time Mike was waiting too. Had I waited for him to change, it might have been another 10 years. Love is like a wagon wheel. Someone has to start it going."
As we travel on this road of great adventure together, you & I both know that life here is difficult. It's a struggle all the way--a glorious struggle sometimes--a challenge always. Tomorrow the bottom may fall out & all our efforts may seemingly go down the drain. Nevertheless, we can live above the ruts, walking in the light, clicking our heels for joy.
Yesterday is gone, today is here, an unused 24-hour slot of time. Regardless of the past, you & I have a new beginning. Today, right now. Not merely an existence, but the possibility of a new life. No guarantee of perpetual happiness, but total joy!