What Your Wife Really Wants For Valentines Day!

Oh, yes! It’s that time again! Time for the red cards, chocolates, and roses. Valentines Day is a special time to tell your loved one that you really care. A time to celebrate love and romance. For some men, this can be a bit frightening. Getting just the right gift is really hard. You may need to have a sixth sense when it comes to women. I think most ladies don’t think much of the traditional gifts. She wants more than a box of chocolates or pretty flowers.

An array of Valentine's Day-connotated candy d...

She wants her boyfriend back!

Somewhere in the midst of building the family and the career, being a Dad and a Husband, and providing a safe and secure environment, the knight in shining armor gets a bit tarnished. Men will slip into the leader role at work and bring it home and miss the tenderness needed to continue to grow in their relationship with their wives. Wives want more than a family leader. They want friendship.  They want closeness.  They want to go deeper. They want your heart.

Remember when you were dating? What were the things that you liked to do together? This is what she wants. This is what she needs. Can’t remember very well? Let me help you a bit.

We Would Talk For Hours…. Remember those conversations? You would share your dreams, your goals, your passions. The time would fly by. You talked about your feelings, your fears, your frustrations, what you loved, what you hated. Fast forward. Now it’s often three word sentences. “Can you pick up some milk?” A quick OK, a nod, a grunt. Is this communicating? Not even close. Guys, she needs this. It’s knit in her being. She has to hear from you. She needs to talk things out. this is how she deals with stress. This is how she will stay glued to you. Stop communicating with her and she will loose the bond. Share your deep stuff with her. She needs it. I promise.

We Did Everything Together… It didn’t matter what you were doing, you loved to do it together. Even doing dishes was fun! Remember? Guys, you need look for opportunities to spend time with your wives. It’s really about getting creative and maybe about doing something you don’t really care to do. Go to the grocery store or head to the mall and go shopping with her! If you are not intentional, it won’t happen!

We Held Hands Everywhere We Went… How long has it been since you held your wife’s hand? Are you struggling getting physical with your wife? This can really vary by the particular woman, but many are starving for physical contact. This may or may not involve “going all the way”. I know some woman would love to get the back rub at night and have it stop at that! You know what she wants. She needs to feel your touch.

We Were Out On Dates Every Weekend… Are you planning date nights with you wife? This is a super important way for you to help her get away from the house and the kids and plug back into your relationship. These date nights don’t have to be spectacular events. The only requirement is that you are alone with her. No double dates. Just the two of you spending time together. Get the babysitter. I can tell you first hand that it will be the best money that you can spend for your relationship. Plan these dates nights! They will not magically happen by themselves.

We Would Laugh For Hours… Do you have fun with your wife or is your marriage based on the family “job”? Raising a family and keeping up with all the expectations is exhausting. Having fun can leave the house along with your energy. Don’t take everything so seriously. I can tell you the exhaustion of life can leave you analyzing every word that comes from your wife. Don’t take everything to heart. Learn to lighten up the situation. Remember how you used to make her laugh? You need to reconnect with this! It may save your marriage. Saying something insensitive is not the end of the world . Truth is, it’s most likely your pride that is the problem!

We Would Take Long Walks On The Beach… We’ll if you don’t live on the ocean, a trip around the block in the evening is a great second option. Steal a few minutes away. Talk about your day. Let her talk and you listen. If she’s been with the kids all day, she’s probably just about ready to explode. She needs some adult talk! Help her out.

We Would Surprise Each Other With Little Gifts… If she likes clothes, bring some home sometimes when it’s not her birthday or other event. She will be shocked and will ask you if you got hit really hard on the head! Plan a weekend and take her away. Send the kids to the in-laws and and do a weekend at home. Do something to surprise her. She needs the change and the romance.

I’m sure there are many more that you can think of. Things that made your relationship special. The stuff that brought you together. The bottom line is this: she still needs you to pursue her. She needs to feel desired. You know the wedding cake joke? Well this is the male version! Yes, she’s yours, but she needs more than safety and security. If not, she could have stayed at home with her Dad! She needs to reconnect with you and it takes time and intentionality. If you spent time on this like you work on your golf swing, your front lawn, or your fantasy football league I’m sure there would be no issues.

Reconnect with you sweetheart! She needs you!

What do you think? Are you being intentional about you relationship with you wife? Wake up call or full of you know what? Let me know by clicking on comments and giving me your view!

Men: 10 Shopping Tips for Christmas!

Ah, the Christmas season has begun!  A time for family, great food and gift giving!  One problem:  The thought of Christmas shopping makes most men cringe.  I would guess that most men would do diaper duty instead of hitting the mall!  Yet, we know we have to do it AND it’s coming up pretty quickly here.  When you think of shopping for your wife or special loved one, you can’t help but think of the scars from past failures.  The dress that was three sizes too big (How big do you think I am?).  The new vacuum cleaner (Oh, I guess the place is a mess, huh?).  The earrings that exactly match the set she already has (You idiot, don’t you notice anything?).   You try every year- yet it always ends in failure.  You want to give up- just go all gift certificates.  You know that this isn’t personal.  Doesn’t show you really care.  No, won’t work.  What can you do? Christmas in the post-War United StatesI am writing this based on wisdom gained from pure failure.  I have made just about every stupid mistake possible.  Yet, I am getting better.  Last year, I probably did about 80% not returned.  Not saying that this year will be as good, but I am gaining confidence.  I know I will get a couple gifts right.  And this is the way it should be.  Because it’s important to her.  You want to see genuine joy on her face on Christmas.  Not- “Oh, thanks Honey…” and then it gets returned.  You want it to be really special for her.

OK- so what do we do?  Here is a list of hints that have been helpful for me through the years.  Understand ALL women are different, so I may not have this exactly right for your loved one so adjust as you see fit.

  1. Planning:  Start thinking about gift giving NOW.  Very often she will give you hints about what she wants.  Some will be subtle and others are not.  Be careful with the non-subtle hints.  This is when she is all but TELLING YOU what she wants.  Write it down!  You will forget- trust me.  Make a list of these hints and ideas.  Start now!
  2. Do the Recon:  Before you hit the mall, a reconnaissance mission is required.  When she is out of the house, go through her closet and dresser and write down the sizes for her clothes.  Be careful here.  Her closet can be full of traps.  There are often things in there that she wishes would fit.  Find the clothes that she always wears.  Look at the tags for the brands.  You may be able to get hints on the stores where she shops.  Write down the sizes and the brands.
  3. Right Style:  Really LOOK at what she wears.  You do not want to be a pioneer here.  Even if you don’t really care for the style she likes, buy what she wears.  She’ll tell you that she loves what you bought her- yet she will never wear it.  My daughter tells my wife that she dresses like a hippy while my daughter dresses conservatively.  Don’t generalize.  Buy what she will wear!
  4. Get the List:  Ask her for a list.  Don’t think that you are so good that you don’t need a list.  Get a few slam dunks in along with some more risky items.  Nothing worse than seeing it all go on the return pile.  Quiz her on her list.  She will likely give you more ideas as she describes what she wants.  Get all of the details- stores, sizes, colors, everything.  These are givens- so go get em!
  5. Shop with Her:  Go Christmas shopping with her.  While she is shopping for others she will spot clothes or items that she wants.  She may tell you to get something specifically or she may just be drawn to something.  Typically she will see something that she wants but thinks it’s too expensive.  Jackpot.  This is good target.  Snap your mental picture and return later and make the buy.  Shopping with her is gold.  You will get great hints here.  So do it!
  6. Danger Zone:  There are certain gifts that are very risky.  Stay away from risk- this isn’t Vegas!  Here are a few:
    1. Practical Gifts:  Household items, TV, blender, toaster, washer, new roof.  May be really needed, but not at Christmas.  Unless it’s a list item- stay away!  This is REAL quick sand here.  Stay with personal gifts.  Practical some other time- not Christmas!
    2. Fitness:  Exercise equipment, gym membership, workout clothes, yoga classes, etc.  Risky, very risky.  Realize the message that you are giving.
    3. Cooking  Items:  Careful here.  Unless she is an avid cook, you may be delivering that same bad message.
    4. Victoria Secret:  Stay away- this is also a trap!  The sizes are about impossible to get right.  There is a fine line to trashy.  And, what is the message- not sexy enough?  Too sexy?  Don’t do it!
    5. Jewelry:  This is a typical “go to” for many guys.  Spend a bunch of money in one spot- and be done.  Easy choice.  However- if she is not a jewelry girl- she’ll take it back.  Trust me on this one.  And then because you chose the “nuclear option”- she’ll have no other gifts that were good.  Now you really stepped in it!  Be careful here.
  7. Go it Alone:  Don’t bring your buddy or your daughter with you.  If you bring your buddy you know where you will end up- Ruby Tuesday’s with a cold beer.  Don’t do it!  You will just have to go out again.  If you bring your daughter and you mess up she will be collateral damage.  Ask her what she thinks, but don’t bring her.  Keep her out of it.  Come on…she’s family!
  8. Use the Mannequins:  The mannequins can be your friend!  See how it looks on them.  They generally put some of the best selling styles on the mannequins.  Look at colors and styles.  Stripes, black, paisley, whatever.  You will know what’s in by looking at the mannequins.  You can also see what it looks like on.  Things look way different on a person than on the clothes rack.
  9. Ask for Help:  Ask the sale people for help.  They will help you find sizes and match things up.  I am not suggesting that you take ALL of their advice.  This is also a trap.  I have wrapped suggested outfits that were a total bomb.  Stay with the look that you are sure she will like.  Don’t experiment with someone else’s taste.
  10. Start Early:  Don’t wait for the last minute.  Start now!  Get a few things bought and stored away.  I will admit that I like getting some last minute items.  Getting out a couple days before Christmas with all the other guys is kind of a tradition.  I do love the last minute excitement- but if you wait too long you will be stuck with what’s left.  All of the common sizes to the cool clothes will be gone.  Many of the good gift ideas will be sold out.  There are great last minute sales but try to be nearly wrapped up.  The internet is a great starting point.  Get a few internet purchases done early and start to look for ideas.  Do your research on-line so your time can be concentrated on hunter/gathering (pick-up and pay!).

These are a few tips that I have learned through the years that I think are most valuable.  Most men would say it’s only Christmas and what does this have to do with leadership?  I can assure you that Christmas gifts are very likely much more important to her, than they are to you!  I also know that being a bonehead and doing a crummy job sends a really poor message to your kids and others about how much you care about her and the importance of completing a task with excellence.  So suck it up and get it done!  It’s not that difficult and when you get it right- it is truly magic!

Merry Christmas!

Can you share some stories of mistakes or victories in Christmas gift selection?

Ladies:  Any ideas to share with the guys?

 Click on comments and tell us your story!     

K-LOVE: Girls Give Up Their Dreams

I listened to a discussion this morning on the radio that was really troubling.  The K-LOVE morning show was discussing a statistic regarding young women.  According to a newpaper article that they referenced, 6 out of 10 girls give up the thing they love to do because of the way they look.  Really, not the way they look, but how they think they look.  Young women don’t feel that they look good enough to accomplish their dream.  They will actually just give it up.  I was really saddened by this statistic.  Honestly, I don’t question the numbers.  In fact, I wonder if they may even be low.  What a tragedy.  This really hurt me.

English: Two young women.

We all want to feel desirable and wanted.  With women it is generally much more important than with men.  A major part of their identity is centered on how they feel about themselves and how they think they look to others.

The world is giving young women impossible expectations.  They see the runway filled with emaciated models.  They are bullied by their peers and called hateful names.  Clothes are getting smaller, tighter, more revealing.  Images of supermodels pasted everywhere you look.  Eating disorders abound.  What can we do?

Men:  Encourage the women around you.  Complement them on the way they dress, their new haircut, or their outfit.  Tell them that they are not fat.  They yearn for this.

Dads and Moms:  Encourage your daughters.  Talk to them about the truth.  They are wonderfully and perfectly made by their Father in heaven.  Tell them that the message that the world delivers is not true.  It’s stinking garbage.  Tell them the real truth:  They are beautiful.  They are special.  They are loved.

I have a friend named Courtenay Bowser who struggled with these issues and she wrote a book that describes her journey to freedom.  The book is called “Beautiful”.  If you click on the title it will take you to her website.  This would be a helpful read for you or someone you know that is struggling with self-image issues or trying to meet the world’s warped expectations for women. 

Don’t let your girls give up their dreams.  Fight for them by encouraging them.  You may think your girl is well adjusted yet- you are probably getting fooled.  Give them what they need.  Tell them.  Do it now!

Do you know of any resources or strategies that can help young women fight this battle?  Let me know by clicking on comments and providing your input!

What your husband wants for Father’s Day!

Tis the season for new barbeque grills, golf balls and fishing poles!  So what do you have planned for Father’s Day?  Some men are kind of tough to buy for, but most guys are pretty open about what they like.  Although this celebration is really about the kids getting their Dad something special, what do you think husbands would like from their wives for Father’s Day?

They want their wife back!

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In the midst of all of the diapers, laundry, and motherly duties, husbands can be neglected and forgotten.  Now I am not making light the duties or the value of being a great Mom, however, the normal day to day activities can leave your man in the dust. 

Women tend to pour themselves completely into motherhood.  They want the very best for their children.  They will literally do anything to be the very best mother.  There is nothing wrong with this in concept.  Husbands would tend to agree- they want their wives to be committed to nurturing and raising the very best children possible.  Somewhere in all the good intentions things get warped out of place.  The current societal expectation of mothering places an extreme amount of pressure on Moms.  They try so hard to keep up.  But how can you?  You have to have your kid’s in multiple activities, buy them all the newest clothes and gadgets, take them to all the new movies and places, keep your house clean, cook customized dinners for each child, be a constant taxi cab driver, have all the answers to the tough questions, be a money tree, and be a cool parent all at the same time.  Is it possible?  Really?

Somewhere in this struggle is your husband.  Now you may be thinking- well, there is the problem– but really is he the problem?  Regardless of his participation in the family duties- you’re still exhausted.  He is probably getting the leftovers- whatever you have left after the kids.  Is that the way it should be?  Maybe it’s time to review things and slow down a bit.  Your kids will be OK if they are not in every activity.  It will be OK if the house is not perfect.  They will be OK staying home bored.  They will not explode.  Really.

Your husband wants you back.  The girl that he married.  I know you are thinking that things are different now- but they aren’t as different as you think.  He still loves you for who you are.  He still loves the things about you that are uniquely you!  Maybe tension and bickering has strained things a bit, however, it’s still there.  You just have to find it.  So what specifically does he want?  Here are some items.  Now this may vary wildly- this is just some common items- so don’t scream too loud if I get your situation entirely wrong:

  1. Have Fun!  Inside every man is a boy.  I’m sure that some of you are thinking right now that you would say that you are still looking for the man!  But truly- men like to have fun and this is often involves activities and getting out of the house.  Think back to your courtship. What did you used to do to have fun back when you were dating?  It may involve doing some outdoor activities that you really don’t like anymore.  Just remember your husband waiting outside the dressing room while you shop!  Get him outside or where you can have fun together.
  2. Initiate!  Don’t wait for him to come up with all the ideas to spend time together.  Surprise him with a weekend away or a night out on the town.  He may be a bit shocked and caught off guard the first time this happens but he won’t be the next time.  Listen to him for things that he wants to do and see.  Write them down and do your planning and make it happen.  Yes, he should be doing this too, however, don’t be afraid to take the lead sometimes.  You should both be seeking time alone together.
  3. Get Intimate!  OK- I know you are tired, but this is important.  By withholding yourself you are asking for trouble.  Men are different than women.  They value things differently.  Don’t withhold yourself as a prize for good behavior.  A healthy physical relationship will strengthen your overall relationship.  You are still very attractive to your husband.  Don’t make excuses.  It’s only a few minutes of your life.  You can do it.
  4. Encourage Him!  Tell him how much you appreciate what he does for you and your family.  Don’t do this once a year on Father’s Day.   Brag on him a bit to your friends.  He needs respect and approval.  He is not an idiot.  Don’t treat him like one of your children.  Yes- he is different- way different than you.  Celebrate what he is good at.  Be specific and tell him what you love about him.  He needs to hear it from you!      

 Another problem with trying to be Super Mom is that your entire identity gets wrapped up in being a Mom.  This is fine until your kids are grown and gone.  What do you do now?  Continue to hover?  If you lose your identity as a wife and woman, this transition back will be extremely difficult.  Your focus will naturally have to shift back to your husband, your activities, and possibly your career.  Will you be ready when your nest is empty?

I am sure that some of you are saying that I am truly full of it and that I don’t know your particular situation.  You are right.  I don’t know your situation but I think there is a nugget or two in here for everyone.      

I do know this.  You have to fight for your marriage.  You have to fight against the dysfunctional societal expectations.  You must fight to make your relationship with your husband a top priority or the two of you will likely fail. 

So, get in your way-back-machine and remember the things that you used to do as a couple that was really special.  Reconnect with the girl that is still in you.  Lighten up and have a little fun.  I guarantee your marriage will be strengthened and your kids will be fine.  Are you ready?  

Tell me what you think!  Don’t be a stealth reader!  Click on comments below!