An Uncommen Blog

Beyond the Benjamins: 3 Qualities of a Provider

 

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Now… What y’all wanna do?

Wanna be ballers? Shot-callers?

Brawlers

 –Puffy Combs, aka Puff Daddy, aka P. Diddy, aka…

I am a Judge’s son.

Growing up, I was the cute little blond haired kid campaigning on your doorstep and stuttering in a high voice, “Hi. P-P-Please vote for my Dad.”

 

I was so proud to be my father’s son. To this day I take full credit for my Dad getting elected all those years.

Regardless of your “Dad” experience growing up, someone along the way worked hard to provide for you. Growing up, I took my Dad for granted. The older I get, the more thankful I am for his diligence and sacrifice.

He was a provider.

As a man of faith, I take the charge to provide for my household pretty seriously. You may be at a different place spiritually, but I think we could all agree that working hard and coming up short is one thing, but being lazy while our family “starves” ain’t cool.

Was P. Diddy right when he so eloquently stated, “all about the Benjamins, baby”?  It should be the duty and joy of every man to  put food on the table, clothes in the closet, and money in the accounts. However, being a provider is so much more than bringing home the bacon. It’s so much more than paying for nice houses, vacations, and private schools. It’s so much more than just being a cog in the wheel of life. The call to provide is much broader than just the monetary.

What if we cared more about filling the hearts of our family than filling the accounts of our bank?

Maybe it’s more about what we leave in our family, than what we leave for our family. After all, one is a larger investment with perpetual returns while the other is a smaller investment with temporary returns.

I don’t know about you, but this broader meaning of a “provider” takes the pressure off to try to “keep up with the Jones’.” I believe the true call of provision is modelled for us in the following: With presence. With perseverance. With prudence.

#1. Presence. The greatest example of a Dad is one that isn’t a distant or a disengaged father who hides behind a busy schedule. While he may be busy, he is never too hurried to be with his family. He realizes the greatest gift he can give his kids is simply His presence. He is the kind of Dad who is fully present and in the moment. He’s not distracted by emails, texts, or the latest news feed.  This dad is slow to speak, quick to listen, and is content to just be with his kids. A “present” provider’s identity isn’t wrapped up in their job, but rather in their family.

#2. He provides perseverance. The greatest example of a Dad isn’t a passive father who remains silent when he needs to speak up or gives up when he needs to step up. When storms come, His humble yet confident perseverance rubs off on his kids, inspiring them to have the same  grit, resolve, and endurance he has for them.

#3. He provides prudence. The greatest example of a Dad isn’t the kind of dad driven by instant gratification and whatever feels good in the moment. While he is fully present, he also leads with prudence and is wise about planning our future. Faced with a decision, a “prudent” provider keeps the end in mind and asks, “Will this grow or slow my relationship with my kids? Will this help or hinder their relationships?”

So may we provide for our family the way we are truly called, with presence, perseverance, and prudence.

And may we stutter our way through life, inspiring others to vote for our “Dad”.

heath

This week’s blog post is written by Heath Krueger. Heath grew up in Ohio but calls Charlotte home.  He is a proud father of 3 kids, a Pastor for 15 years, officiates nearly 25 weddings a year, and is a speaker and aspiring author. Read more from Heath Krueger at (www.heathkrueger.com).[i]

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You are at Risk: The Ashley Madison Con Game

Untitled design-6This week’s post was written by UNCOMMEN Coach, Brian Goins, author of Playing Hurt: A Guy’s Strategy for a Winning Marriage

 

“If we believe crazy things about sex, we do crazy things in our sex life.”

– Dr. Les Parrott

In a book with one of my favorite titles, Crazy Good Sex, Dr. Parrott unmasks some of the most common myths we men are quick to buy.

Myth #1: Sex with the Same Person Gets Boring

In the movie Old School, a guy named Beanie mocks one of his recently married buddies for deciding to have sex with only one person for the rest of his life. And listen, ask any married man, hot sex can go on ice.

Comedian Ray Romano said in Newsweek, ”After kids, everything changes. We’re having sex about every three months. If I have sex, I know my quarterly estimated taxes must be due.”

Maybe that’s why over 80% of the names published in the Ashley Madison list were men. Cue Mr. Obvious: we men are far more susceptible than women to buy the lie that affairs will be satisfying. The FAQ page on Ashley Madison’s site feeds the myth: “… If you still feel that you will seek a person other than your partner to fill your unmet needs, then we truly believe that our service is the best place to start.”

Good con men offer something for nothing and then give nothing for something. In this case, over 32 million people believed they could get away with (or just dabble with the idea of) an affair only to find out it cost their marriage, their families, their reputation, and in the case of a few, their lives (a few men listed the site in suicide notes).

The problem isn’t Ashley Madison or sites promising “no-risk trysts.” It’s our propensity to believe that once you’ve lost that loving feeling, it’s just too hard to get it back.

In his book, Dr. Parrot highlighted the plight of many couples like Chris and Tara. Early in their marriage, they played in the sack almost every night. Then after Tara had a baby…they just hit the sack. They went from DINK’s (dual income, no kids) to DINS (dual income, no sex). Dr. Parrott points out that the fantasy that swinging singles have better sex is that, a fantasy. The stats don’t lie. Married guys get it more often, more regularly, and more enjoyably than the single guy. 48% of husbands say sex with their partners is extremely satisfying, compared to just 37% of cohabiting men. Almost 2/3 of women said the best sex they’ve ever had is within marriage. (Crazy Good Sex, p. 77)

Dr. Parrott gives 10 UNCOMMEN tips in his book  for how to rekindle what’s been lost.

Want to see em?

#10: Change your position…I’ll let you use the imagination

#9: Change your schedule…there’s a reason it’s called “Afternoon Delight”

#8: Think outside the bed…kitchen table, tent, go parking again.

#7: Don’t keep track of stats…it’s not how often, but how good.

#6: Get help…there’s a reason doctors wear the white coat. Trust their advice.

#5: Season your senses…you’ve got five of them, why only use 1?

#4: Spontaneity is overrated…everything else goes on the calendar, why not your sex life?

#3: Lock the bedroom door…no really, the average couple has sex 2.4 times a week, we think your kids have something to do with the .4.

#2: Woo your wife…if you don’t date your wife, someone else will.

#1: Have “the Talk”…with your wife. It’s common to have unspoken expectations about sex. That always leads to frustration. Uncommen have conversations about what you like and what she likes.

You can either choose to love the one you’re with or daydream about the ones you’re not. Some guys think, “Man if I could just score like legendary basketball player, Wilt Chamberlain: not so much on the court (over 31,000 points), but off…(reportedly over 20,000 women).

Later in his life, Wilt admitted he would have traded all 20,000 for the 1 woman he could have loved his whole life. I guess it’s far easier to love the woman you have than long for the women you don’t. The perfect spouse is the present spouse.

Don’t buy the con. Be UNCOMMEN!

Check out Dr. Parrott’s book and other great resources at www.lesandleslie.com.

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My Father, My Future, My Faith

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While Holding My Father’s Hand

I traveled to California

To bury my father

With him rest the memories

Sights and sounds of smiles and laughter

The hope for more opportunities

Our last time together he held my hand

Tighter than I thought he could

Tubing travelled from pouch to vein

Heavily he breathed while he slept

Quietly I stared and prayed

While gathering thoughts

Breathing the heavy air

Suddenly

He opened his eyes

He called me near

The same voice

Though shaky and weak

Spoke my name

I returned the gaze

Then for the second time that I ever recall

I heard my dad pray

While holding my hand

My Father

It’s been a battle to allow myself to feel this. On Sunday morning, August 9, 2015, I received the dreaded call from my Aunt Jackie.  “Lil Donald, your dad passed this morning.”  It was a call I had been expecting for months.  One I knew would come from Jackie.  It was 5 years ago I received a call from Aunt Jackie, my dad’s baby sister, asking me if I was sitting down. I thought it was the call.  The call to confirm that after decades of drinking, my father’s liver had given out. But this was a different kind of call. Shockingly she told me that my father had checked himself into rehab. Admittedly, my first thought was, why now? Why after all of these years did he finally decide to stop? It was later that I realized that one of the reasons why was because of his grandchildren. He wanted to be with them and around for them. The next 5 years gave him an extra lease on life. 5 years that I did not expect. We talked on the phone often, he visited me in Charlotte, I went to see him in Los Angeles. He got to meet all of his grandchildren. His rehabilitation did not extend his life for the many years that we hoped, but it did extend the opportunity for us to reconcile, and connect, and to say I love you.

My Future

Ever since that phone call, I could sense a change in my perspective in life. I have to do everything I can to love and protect my wife and kids. As a father of four, I realize I have a lot at stake. Every day, every decision I make, there are high stakes. I have to consider my health, financial freedom, faithfulness to my wife, connectedness to friends. Everything. Furthermore, I realize that the stats are against me.  

As I near the age of 40, the number 40 stands out strong.

  • I am at risk, simply because I am married. My lovely wife and I are holding on strong, by grace alone, but it’s shocking to know that according to the APA, 40% of first time marriages in America end in divorce.
  • We have been married for 11 years, and according to the CDC, 43% of first marriages in the U.S. end within the first 15 years. We gotta keep holding on.
  • My parents divorced when I was young, and studies state that children of divorced parents are 40% more likely to get a divorce than those that were not.

My Faith

Like I said, the stats are against me, but I rely on a few things for success.  I rely on my faith, extended family support, my friends, and when the going gets rough, my faith some more. When my father held my hand and prayed with me, I was reminded that I need to do this more often with my family.  Only Christ sustains me and my marriage.

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Love Your Wife Well

Josiah Goodrum PicThis week’s post is written by Josiah Goodrum, an aspiring writer from Asheville that made his way to the Queen City to go to UNCC and strike it rich… in life, if not finances.

Love your wife well. This month at UNCOMMEN the focus has been on how men can have the biggest impact on their families and make a lasting impression on their kids. U Can Love is all about starting at the heart and soul of any family, the love between a man and a woman.

I grew up in an uncommon household. Not only did my dad do things that he was supposed to do like Chris Rock says,  but he also took my mom on dates, made her breakfast in bed, planned surprise birthdays and helped out a lot with the four of us kids.

My dad was always heavily involved with things like sports and scouts and being my sister’s hero; he was always there coaching and cheering us on. He taught us to behave and to be the best we could be.

My dad was and is romantic. Not just the over the top stuff that you see on TV–although he did do some of that stuff–but the nitty gritty things like making pancakes on saturday mornings or weed-eating the mountainside or a number of household chores that lesser men would not even considered doing. My dad showed me how to treat a woman and my siblings and I are fortunate enough to be apart of this amazing love story that still continues to this day as both parents prepare for grandparenthood.

One of the more extravagant romantic moments dad pulled off was one of my mom’s birthdays, I don’t remember which one but I do remember the epicness of the occasion. Dad painstakingly planned every detail of a massive treasure hunt around Asheville where my mom found clues that led to friends taking her to her favorite stores, out to lunch until she eventually ended up in a hotel room with scrapbooks and no kids. With his precise and planning nature my father pulled off one of the single greatest birthday surprises ever. It was, as we would put it, UNCOMMEN.

My dad’s kindness and romance towards my mom to this day is the stuff of legend and has led to some over the top proposals from my brother and me. My brother organized a whole event with family and friends and a walk down memory lane. I wrote a song and sang with the rising sun. We learned the importance of romance from dad.

Consistent and creative my dad to this day continues to show me how a man should love his wife. He laughs and jokes around, he opens the car door for her and whisks her out on the dance floor–aka the living room– in front of all us grown up kids who look on with an interesting mix of awkward, awe and ew. I never knew a day when I doubted that my parents loved each other and that is truly UNCOMMEN.

I’m on the cusp of marriage. I’m young and poor and have no idea what I want to do with my life. But I do know that I want to love my bride to be like my dad loves my mom. I don’t need a million dollars in my bank account, and I don’t need to live in a south Charlotte mansion with a pool in the backyard, but I do need to love my wife like there is literally no tomorrow. Thanks to dad I’ve still got a few of his tricks up my sleeve.

My dad isn’t famous, my dad isn’t rich, my dad doesn’t have the most interesting job or the most interesting hobbies, in a lot of ways I’m sure he isn’t that much different from any man reading this blog post. But he loves my mom well in simple everyday things that shows he means those famous three words. I. Love. You. And that is UNCOMMEN.

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Happy Couples, Meaningful Lives

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This week’s contributing author is Nikita Coulombe, a fine artist and writer. Nikita is the co-author along with Dr. Philip Zimbardo of the acclaimed books, Demise of Guys, and Man (Dis)Connected.  She’s also passionate about painting, and focuses on surface pattern design and textile design.

Happy Couples, Meaningful Lives: 10 Ways to Become a More Connected Loving Spouse

Build and maintain trust; stay in touch mentally. During “sliding door moments,” where you have the option to either have a conversation and resolve an issue with your partner, or distract yourself with the TV, a book, or running an errand, make the choice to move towards your partner and engage with their concerns, rather than move away from them. Turning this into a habit will build your partner’s trust and faith in you.[i]

Build and maintain intimacy; stay in touch physically. Relationships often become “touchless” (void of meaningful touch, affection, or physical intimacy) long before they become “sexless” (minimal to no sexual activity). Touch is an incredibly important need for humans beings, yet it is quite common in our society today to get so busy with work, school, kids, and all the running around that we overlook our partners and go whole days without having physical contact with them. To bridge the gap in your relationship if this is happening, start by examining your own expectations around touch. Does touch always have to lead to something sexual or can you just touch your partner because it feels good? Can you receive touch from your partner without it feeling like something must happen sexually because they touched you? Often, couples stop touching because they attach an expectation to the touch, there is an established pattern of touch leading to other behaviors that has become too predictable or limiting, or one person does not like the way the other person touches. Slowing down, checking in with your partner, and re-learning their needs will increase your sense of closeness.[ii]

Support each other’s hopes and dreams: stay in touch spiritually. Do you know what your significant other’s goals are? What have they secretly wanted to do or be since they were young – how do their lives differ from that now? Ask them to share with you what they felt their lives would be like. Ask them what’s most important to them. You want to keep each other grounded and realistic, but if there’s a way to move in the direction of their goals you can also be their biggest backer.

Listen. There’s an old story about a man who for many years would give his wife the heel of the bread. One day his wife asked him why he gave her the worst part of the bread, and he replied “I’ve always given it to you because it’s my favorite part.” Recognize that you are two individuals in one relationship. Just because you have gotten along for a long time and agreed on things, doesn’t mean that you know why the other person agrees. Asking them why they believe what they believe is important, especially so you can have more context for instances where you don’t agree.

Be solution-oriented when you don’t see eye-to-eye. During disagreements, instead of arguing, consider the pros and cons of something together. Try to see what’s happening from a third party perspective, as someone who wants the best for everyone. Some couples suppress their honest feelings in order to avoid conflict but it is possible to be honest, open, and express negative feelings without fighting.[iii]

Don’t say anything you can’t take back. It takes 5 compliments to neutralize a negative comment. We tend to readily remember the hurtful things a person has said. It’s better to use restraint when you’re upset and feel like calling your significant other a name. Happy couples report a higher ratio of positive to negative interactions than unhappy couples.[iv]

Think like you’re an 80-year-old couple. What memories do you think the 80-year-old you will remember or cherish looking back on your life, particularly with regards to the moment you are in now? What would you have wanted to do differently – is it possible for you to do those things now? What’s holding you back?

Say “thank you” often. Think about how good it feels when someone notices or appreciates something you’ve done. Let your partner know what you love about being in a relationship with them, and what they bring to it. Thank them for the day-to-day things they do (i.e. “thank you for taking out the trash,” “thank you for getting the oil changed”). Doing so will let your partner know you notice them and acknowledge their efforts.

Understand and appreciate how your partner wants to connect. Men and women must both become experts in their partner’s way of feeling connected to them – whether through hearing certain words, being touched a certain way, or sharing a common hobby – and embrace it even if they don’t fully “get” it.[v]

Always consider their needs. Remember, ALL of your partner’s needs and ways of feeling loved are worth considering, even if you don’t intend to meet them. When you are listening to our partner’s needs, before you decide if you want to or can accommodate them, try to really get what it is they are wanting and why. How will getting this make them feel? Many needs can be validated with more than one approach, so perhaps you can find another way or compromise if initially their need cannot be met. It’s all about helping your partner feel seen, heard, and understood.

[i] Gottman, J (2011, October). How to Build Trust. Retrieved July 5, 2014, from Greater Good Science Center: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/gg_live/science_meaningful_life_videos/speaker/john_gottman/how_to_build_trust/.

[ii] Rankin, K (2014, December 16). Living Like Roommates: How Did We Get Here? Retrieved July 3, 2015, from BetterSexEd: http://bettersexed.org/2014/12/16/living-like-roommates-how-did-we-get-here/.

[iii] Gray, J (2008). Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

[iv] Poulsen, S (2008). A Fine Balance: The Magic Ratio to a Healthy Relationship. Retrieved July 2, 2015, from Purdue University. Purdue Extension: https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/CFS/CFS-744-W.pdf.

[v] Weiner-Davis, M (2014, April 30). The Sex-Starved Marriage. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from TEDx: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-Sex-Starved-Marriage-Michele.

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The Best Thing a Dad Can Do

UNCOMMEN Aug 3 copy

The Declaration of Independence starts out with these words, We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident…  In other words, everything that comes next doesn’t have to be proven, it’s just fact.  We know these things to be true just from making observations of others and looking within.  We know this to be true.  To argue is to automatically put yourself at odds with common sense and logic.  So it is with the following statement, “The Most Important Thing a Dad Can Do…”

How would you fill in that blank?  You can read the various responses of my Facebook post of this very question here, and even offer your own thoughts.  The responses were great, and most of them typical- “be present, honest, forgiving, loving, etc.”  A few people read my mind though.  Here is what I believe is the most adequate, self-evident answer: The Best Thing a Dad Can Do is Love His Wife Well.  That’s it.  It’s not rocket-science.  Men cannot spend time, listen, forgive, model, say, or display anything if they are not there, and the only way to truly “be there” is to do everything in their power to protect the stability of their family. As a result, kids are direct beneficiaries of the love shown between a husband and wife.

To prove this point even further, simply take mental notes as to how your dad either did or did not love your mom.  How did that model affect you?  I could pull out the sociological facts, we could look at the direct correlation between the stability of the family and the effects on children.  The social sciences prove this concept ten times over, but the true test is, do you believe it based on your own life experience growing up? Remember the old adage, “do what I say, not as I do?”  Doesn’t really work.  Kids do what we do.  If my son has any chance of being a humble servant to his future wife, then he has to see it modelled in me.  If he rarely sees it in me, then the chances of him being that kind of man are terribly low.  If my daughters really want to know what to look for in a man as they get older, they should be able to look to their father as the number one example.  They will likely be attracted to a man that reminds them of the characteristics and traits of their father.  The hard question I have to ask myself is, what kind of man am I modelling before them?

I want my kids to see a man who adores his wife.  I want to constantly serve Stacey out of joy, not out of guilt or begrudgingly.  I love to spend time with her and I know my kids are watching.  We laugh, we cry, we hug, we kiss, we hold one another often- right in front of them.  We tell each other sorry, I love you, and I forgive you.  I want my kids to see that our love for them is an extension of the love we have for one another.  As it pertains to the goal of protecting my kids, I believe the most protective thing I can do, is to love their mom well, and I am fully aware that I need as much practice as possible in doing that well.

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