An Uncommen Blog

The Honeymoon’s Over, Real Life Has Begun

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Thanks to online streaming services, my wife and I have watched all previous 16 seasons of Law and Order SVU. Now we have to deal with the torture of waiting a week before new episodes air. We’re obviously spoiled. #firstworldproblems.

Think about it, most shows were meant to be watched once a week, drawing over an entire season. Between the other shows and commercials, we’re supposed to hold on to the storyline of a particular character lineup and setting. That’s normal. That’s what’s to be expected.  Now thanks to online services and DVR a new phenomena has occurred- binge-watching. You know the practice of closing the blinds in the morning, barely eating or sleeping, turning off the phone for a weekend just to finish your series. We do this because we have a little time off and an opportunity to indulge.

Kind of reminds me of my honeymoon.

It’s not until the blinds are opened, a shower is taken, clothes are changed, people are spoken to, work demands grow, houses become too small, babies keep us up at night, and our wives don’t want to (or can’t) close the doors to everything else, that we find ourselves in the real world. We long for the days back when she shut everyone and everything else out, and you started on the couch and ended up in the bed. Now the couch is no longer a safe place. If you sit there too long you may find yourself sleeping there, and if you try and go to bed without sleep in mind, you find yourself back on the couch channel surfing instead. Where did the honeymoon days go?

Real life is action packed indeed, it just seems we have forgotten. The beautiful woman needs rescuing from the dangerous abductors that hold her for ransom. The abductors are called children, and the ransom is called feeding them and giving them a bath. She needs you to not only rescue her, but romanticize her. It’s called flowers for no apparent reason, love notes left next to her pillow, coffee made sitting on the night stand at 6 am, a Friday night dessert with friends. You called the sitter and negotiated the terms of her release.

Your son wants you to do the army crawl with him, while holding army men, in the backyard fighting off terrorists. Your daughter wants you to hold her hand, while wearing a tiara, escorting her to her chariot, as you take her on an ice cream date.

Holding this all together, week to week, month to month, year to year, in real-time. You are Jack Bauer. This is your mission- risk it all to protect the ones you love.

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The Masks We Wear

10_15MaskHalloween has been my favorite holiday since I was a kid. The buzz and excitement that comes with decorating your house, carving pumpkins, dressing up, and getting candy; I mean what more could a kid want? As a young boy, I thought it was so cool when my dad and other dads would walk around with their kids, street to street, house to house to help us ask the infamous three word question to each door that opened up to us, “Trick or treat!?”

That same three word question has always stuck in my mind as I got older: Trick or treat?

Halloween is a holiday for pretending we’re someone else, but are we pretending beyond just this one day? In college I went through plenty of pretending to be someone I wasn’t.  Heck, this resonates with me even today, so I bet I’m not alone with the identity struggle.

I think this begs the question – are you the man you thought you’d be? Ask yourself, “Am I the husband I vowed I’d be?” Or maybe ask, “Am I showing up as the father I promised I would be?” I encourage you to ask yourself these set of questions and then asked your loved ones.

In reference to characters, one of my favorite character developments comes from the Mighty Ducks movie trilogy. In every movie, when the main character was out of alignment, the elder, wiser statesman always showed up to help the other have a reality check. Hans and Yans did it for Coach Bombay in D1 & D2 and Bombay returned the favor and sat down with Charlies in D3. Each one of these talks reminded the troubled character of the great man that others saw them as and they always ended it with saying, “So be that man.”

If you are out of alignment with how you wanted to show up as a father, husband, or leader I think Halloween 2015 is your call to action to hit the reset button. It’s your time to be UNCOMMEN and not dress up in who you want to be, but instead BE THAT MAN.

Here’s my “Be That Man” Challenge:

  • Go into the holiday season with a developed action plan to address, “Here is how I am going to show up as a (pick one) father, husband, leader.” Include tangible things you can do (i.e. I will take my wife out on a date once a week, I will spend every Saturday morning removed from my phone and play with my kid) and evaluate how well you did it, etc.
  • Use the weeks in between Halloween and Thanksgiving to Be That Man by implementing your action plan. Ask for regular feedback from loved ones to gauge how you’re doing. Make changes accordingly.
  • The first day of the challenge is Halloween. The last day of the challenge is Thanksgiving Day. (Yes, this gives you something else to be thankful for – your progression throughout this journey).

Use your UNCOMMEN community to keep you accountable. Begin on Halloween Day and take someone to go out and ask, “Trick or treat!?” It’s no trick, you can do this. That version of yourself does exist and I believe doing this challenge will help you reclaim it.  So be that man. Be that man.

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UNCOMMEN Husbands are Thermostats

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UNCOMMEN Husbands are Thermostats not Thermometers.

I have a gift.

I can take my wife’s emotional temperature from across the room. When she is hot (and I don’t mean ready to slip between the sheets with me), I seek a cooler climate, perhaps on the deck with an iced tea. When she’s cold, I look for a warmer personality – like a TV – to keep me company.

To be UNCOMMEN, you should cherish your wife. In other words, you should consider and care for your bride like you warm your own body. Unless you are in Seal training, you instinctively warm your body when cold. If it’s too hot outside, you put on your sandals and crank up the AC. If it’s too cold, you don the merino wool socks and build a fire. So to bring warmth to your wife as we bring warmth to our own bodies is encouragement to consider and care for her emotional needs in the same way we consider and care for our own physical needs.

If she’s chilly, it’s our job to warm her up. If she’s steaming, then we help lower the mercury. Therefore, the call to cherish means we have to engage when we’d rather shrink back.

Whenever I sense a slight irritation with my wife, my tendency is to pull away. But if I get a tiny sliver in my finger, my whole body springs into action. My nerves shoot pain warnings to my brain; like missile lock, my eyes fix on the problem; my legs halt any movement; my other digits dig out the intruder. Proportionally the sliver affects a small surface area, but my whole body responds. I wish that was true in my marriage. When a sliver of bitterness or frustration gets between us, rather than initiate, I let it fester.

In my recent readings I came across this advice- “Do not go to bed angry, because when we let stuff build up, it tends to destroy our relationships in the long run.” This doesn’t mean stay up and fight – but rather to resolve issues quickly.

It’s common to avoid conflict, but UNCOMMEN pursue peace at all costs. Is the temp off a bit in your relationship with your wife? Time to adjust the thermostat.

Be UNCOMMEN.

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Why Do You Love Your Wife

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Don’t think too hard; just answer in one or two phrases. I’m going to wager you picked from a couple of general themes. Maybe you love her because of something she does for you: She’s beautiful. She’s funny. She makes you feel strong. She lifts you up. She’s virtuous. She’s, well, fun in bed.

Or you love her because it’s expected: You know it’s the right thing to do.

Perhaps it’s a mixture of both. The first motivation capitalizes on her performance. The second focuses on your obligation. Both reasons are COMMON. And both reasons eventually run out of steam.

As men, we tend to love shiny gadgets. We crave the latest and greatest. So when the shine wears off a man’s bride, it’s no wonder we are tempted to pine for an upgrade. You may not pursue another woman, but if your primary motivation for loving your wife is her performance, at times, you secretly hope your wife will change. You may even drop some not so subtle hints:

“You working out today?”

“Remember when you wore a bikini?”

“I love the way So and So’s wife talks about him to others.”

When we love someone based on their performance: what they say, how they act, how they look, eventually they will let you down. None of us are perfect, and if you’re honest you long to be respected and loved by your wife because of you who are, not what you do or how you look. Trust me, as you get older, the mirror will become far more revealing than appealing. Performance driven relationships are exhausting.

When we love based on obligation, eventually marriage transforms into a cold union. Duty without a sense of glory always leads to drudgery. And drudgery always leads to death. It may not be the death of a marriage, but many marriages experience the death of intimacy. They married a soulmate, but ended up with a roommate.

Be UNCOMMEN this week.

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Manly Love

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“Back in the day, when I was young, I’m not a kid anymore, but some days I wish I were a kid again.” – from the song Back In The Day, 1994.

One of my favorite quotes goes a little something like this, “When I was a child, I acted like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

You’d think that the dude that wrote this phrase had just been following up an impassioned plea for men to  “act like men”. But he wasn’t. Instead he wrote it after something you’d expect to find ensconced in crochet or festooned on flowery greeting cards:

Love is patient and kind…  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Love” in our culture is like WD-40. We spray it on everything: I love burgers; I love my football team; I love my wife. Hopefully our love for our wives means more than our love for cooked cow or grown men tackling each other. This uncommon guy indicates there came a time in his life when he grew out of an immature, boyish love and embraced a more mature, and dare we say, manly love.

If we’re going to love our wives like we ought, we gotta let the boy die. Check out the comparisons below:

  • Boys retaliate quickly when hurt; manly love is patient and kind.
  • Boys require constant affirmation; manly love is not arrogant or rude.
  • Boys stew, stammer, and hold grudges when they don’t get their way; manly love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.
  • Boys try to win every argument; manly love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
  • Boys have a short fuse; manly love bears all things.
  • Boys write people off when wronged; manly love believes God’s best for the relationship.
  • Boys lose hope after they’re hurt; manly love always hopes for reconciliation regardless of the pain.
  • Boys expect to be served; manly love endures all things.

What’s one way to let the boy die in you this week? Endure a minor offense? Reflect on a criticism rather than retaliate? Serve in a tangible way (i.e. put the toilet seat down, offer to take the kids when you are tired, make the bed with all the throw pillows placed perfectly, etc…)?

Show off some manly love this week. Be UNCOMMEN!

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Family Business. Serious Business

 

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Husbands, we don’t have time to waste!

Over the course of the next few weeks in October you will be reading posts by my good buddy, Brian Goins, on What Does it Really Mean to be an UNCOMMEN Husband? All of these posts are excerpts from his book, Playing Hurt, which you should really check out.

Unfortunately, I sometimes treat my wife like many unread books in my library. I take it for granted that she’s there, and that I can always engage her on a deep level whenever I get around to it. It was just the other day she said to me, “we need to start having our weekly meetings again to plan our goals as a family.” She wasn’t nagging, she was reminding me of the very thing I said that I wanted do. Kinda like reading Brian’s book. I intended to do so, but I let other things take priority. It’s time to set some goals.

Here is how I plan on accomplishing the goal of setting a regular family business meeting with my wife:

  1. Plan Ahead, Then Set the Plan. My wife and I have set Monday evenings as the best time for us to have our meetings. I have also blocked out 15 min of planning before the meeting. Yes, that’s two calendar events, one to plan the meeting, and one for the meeting itself.
  2. Set Goals of Time and Topics. At the end of a work day, my comfort zone is 20-30 min tops.  As for topics, Lanier Inc has taken on what we call our Big 5 as our priorities for weekly discussions: Marriage, Parenting, House, Community, and Finances. 
  3. Shut Up and Listen. I may come into the meeting with an agenda, but once my wife gets involved, it’s all subject to change! That’s the way it should be. First questions after sharing my thoughts are, “What do you think?” and “What am I missing?” 

This is how we run the family business meeting.

As for reading the book, Playing Hurt, I have put it at the top of my list for discussion with my wife about our marriage. My plan is to share an excerpt from good stuff I’m reading as part of our Marriage discussions.  Next week, Wash, rinse, repeat. 

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