June 10

Mud Puddles and Tidal Waves

The stress of parenting can lead to some strange side effects.  Twenty-three years ago I started having dreams–nightmares really– about water, large amounts of angry, raging water. The dreams would come, I noticed, at times that I was feeling stressed. Sometimes money troubles would spark them. Other times when my husband was out of town for long periods of time they would resurface, but they only came when I somehow felt that my life was “out of control,” and they ALWAYS included my children…always.

10407917_10204044166646137_1502173758249946360_n

I remember one particularly frightening one. It came when the girls were very young, Steph was only about four, Tammy two and Jenny just an infant. They were about the same ages in my dream. I remember that in my dream we were standing on one of those long rope bridges that you often see strung between mountain passes. Except OUR bridge had only every other board to step on. In between those you could look down at a rapidly rising, angry, churning river. I watched, horrified, as the river splintered huge logs on the rocks below us.

I reached out to steady myself, but the “handles” of the bridge were made of just one thin piece of string on either side. The bridge rocked wildly in the strong wind as a storm whipped around us. We struggled to stay standing. I didn’t want to cross, but we were standing halfway across already. (How did we get here? I wondered.) I looked behind me as waves were beginning to crash across the side of the bridge we had just come from, and they were moving in our direction. We HAD to move forward. We had no choice.

But . . . my girls, …. they were so very little. So fragile. Babies. There was no way I could hold on to them all. I couldn’t take the steps for them. I couldn’t put them on the sides of me and watch and guide as they took each step. The bridge was too narrow and I was afraid they’d fall through the space between the string and the rickety “floor”. I was terrified. What do I do? God?? Help me! Please!

I remember waking up literally gasping for air….grateful to discover that it was just a dream, but still left with a nagging, sickly feeling of helplessness.

A later dream involved the ocean…. my girls a bit older– They were making sand castles and giggling as I drifted off to sleep in the sun. In my dream I woke to Stephanie shaking me and asking me how we were going to get out of the water. I looked around and the tide had come in. We were in the water, and the beach was gone. Behind us was a high brick wall. There was nowhere to go. I looked out at the ocean at huge, 25-foot waves that were now charging straight toward us.

The undertow pulled us toward the rising water. I frantically clawed for the girls and attempted to tread water as the waves began crashing over us…. I remember seeing my kids being sucked under the first wave…little hands reaching toward me…. cries muffled…

I think you get the picture. … bad, bad dreams. Twenty-three very long years of very bad dreams.

Well this morning it happened again, but with a twist. This time, my girls were grown. Steph, 23. Tammy 21. Jenny 19. In my dream I’m babysitting my nieces and nephews who are also grown. (So why am I babysitting? I don’t know!) Most of the kids go upstairs to play, but it’s time for Jen’s nap, so I have her lay in a bed that I can see from my kitchen table. She sleeps peacefully there while I visit with my friends.

Jane and Rosemary are chatting about the kids when Michelle calmly says “Oh my God.” I turned around to find that water is coming up through the floorboards. It was rising rapidly. It had already cut off my path to Jenny in the bed and also to the stairs where I would need to go to get the other kids. I started to panic and scream. As I did so, the water reached Jenny and she began to flail and cough and choke. I froze with terror.

Friends called to me…They pulled on my arms. Michelle yelled at me to “Calm Down, Mama!” But I am wracked with grief and horror. I can’t focus on what they are trying to tell me.

“I can’t!” I plead. “My kids! My kids!!”

“Look!” Michelle told me, pointing toward the stairs.

“LOOK!” Jane said sternly.

“Hol, just looook,” Rosemary encouraged.

So I turned slowly. I looked.

From around the corner of the stairs came Stephanie first. She was arm-in-arm with Tammy and Cory. They were laughing and talking and kicking and splashing in the water. I looked at Jenny on the bed. She was standing now. I caught a glimpse of her just in time to see her dive in. She came up out of the water smiling.

“They can swim, Mama,” Jane told me.

I began to cry.

“It’s life,” a man’s voice said. (Where’d he come from?)

“What…is life?” I asked the old Native man.

“The water. It is life. It always has been,” he explained. “Sometimes the river is peaceful. Other times it is playful as it babbles like a brook. And sometimes it’s raging like in river rapids, but it’s always the same water. Only the circumstances it flows around change. The water is life.”

“What?” . . . I am still dazed, but the realization began to settle in…

“You’ve been afraid of your children navigating life, but, my dear child? Look. Your babies can swim. You taught them well.” He points.

…. chills engulf me.

He goes on…. “You don’t want them to be like your sister, do you? Afraid to enter the river? She stands on the banks watching life flow by… She fools herself into believing that she is safe, but she lives in fear, and so she does not live at all. She sits still like a puddle of putrid mud, drying up in the heat of the sun. Shriveling in her own fear.”

NO! I don’t. I don’t want that. I think to myself. I want them to live…. to be happy… I stand watching through tear-filled eyes as they play…

Is it over? Is it finally over? I don’t have to be afraid anymore? I wondered.

“You never had need to be afraid,” he told me … I heard his voice trail off just as Andy’s alarm clock blared it’s rude awakening, and I awoke…this time gasping a different kind of gasp for air–as if it were my very first….

Like I had just emerged from a watery womb and took my first breath of air….and greeted a brand new life.

A brand new day.

And I wondered, “Where will life take me today?”

June 10

Tragedy and Triumph, Love and Loss.

Tragedy and Triumph. Love and Loss. I’ve seen both this week. Polar opposites of life itself.  I haven’t cried this hard or cheered this loudly in a very long time. Awestruck. That’s what I am. People amaze me. My kids amaze me.  And during a time that most would like to forget, I’m making it a point to remember.

First, hurrying into the hospital that day, I tripped over a 2 x 6 that someone left along the edge of the parking lot. Such creeps!  It’s a hospital! Couldn’t they find someplace else to dump their trash?

Then, later during the week it was raining, and the parking lot was full.  I walked across the lawn and came upon deep tire ruts in the mud along the edge of the parking lot. Someone had parked along the edge of the lot rather than out on the street.  Probably in a hurry to get in, and when they came out later, their car had sunken hopelessly into the mud. But, what luck. Someone who had evidently been through this before was nice enough to have left a nice long 2 x 6 right there along the edge of the pavement for them to place under their tire. They’d found it and used it to back out of the rut. It was still stuck in the mud. I smiled realizing that I had judged someone too quickly, and I was happy to be wrong.

2. The hand-written love letters from her fiancé who laid unconscious and fighting for life. Unabashedly raw demonstrations of private thoughts. Clearly stated, permanent mementos of an absolute adoration and acceptance of my daughter, just as she is. Tiny little packages of pure love. What a beautiful gift to have left behind.  I used to write those for my love too, but it’d been years.  Too many years.

3. Sisterhood at its finest. My babies. My girls. The same girls who nearly tore each other’s hair out just a few years ago.  This week was pure selfless acts of kindness. I’m completely humbled by each one of them.

4. Bravery and Courage.   My brain is unable to comprehend the horror of what she woke up to. Yet she remained calm.  I ask myself if I could do what she did.  Could I do mouth to mouth on a person who is already ashen gray with death?  Who has vomit in their mouth?  Could I love that strongly?   I am in absolute awe of Steph. She is my hero.

5. Some of the most heart-warming lessons came from the fiance’s family. Open. Giving. Loving. There was always a room full. Very young to very old. Men, women and children. And they always arrived at the hospital with a lot of bustle and carrying care packages for ALL who were there–whether they had met you previously or not. Lasagna. Soup. Pizza. Coffee. Money. Blankets. Sweaters. You name it. Oh and real dishes because no self-respecting Italian family would have you eat Italian soup out of paper cups. Yeah. They brought dishes.

IMG_1740

There was no sense of grudgingly-done, duty-driven responsibility to their actions. There was no sense of inconvenience. There was just pure love. And when they left, they hugged and kissed everyone in the room and THANKED each person for being there.

They told me I was beautiful for sitting with them during their difficult time. Me.  I couldn’t help thinking that one of the reasons I was still sitting there was because I couldn’t stop watching and listening to them. They amazed me. I wanted to be part of that family. I wanted to be part of that bond that they have with each other. I found myself selfishly thinking that if Steph’s fiancé got well, I’d see them again at the wedding and at family events. I was happy to know that I would see them again…and that they’d recognize me and hug me again, and that I would actually be family.

6. Bleeps, blips, numbers, and other indicators. Ohh how those test results all began to blur. The numbers on the life support machine became constant indicators of how well or not well that poor,wracked body was doing. I began to curse them. Why? Why do we have to have things in our face like that?  Damn you technology!

Then, as we sat staring into empty space, my middle daughter Tammy casually handed a picture to me.  It was from an ultrasound. I knew immediately that a new life was coming into our family. I felt a different kind of tear fall down my cheek, and I was so grateful for such a clear and palpable piece of evidence of that life that she carries with her now.  Technology is amazing.

7. Then there is my husband Andy. Now I watch him fall asleep each night, and I see that big strong man as somehow just a little bit vulnerable. I try to remind myself that it could be the last time I see him sleeping.  I had forgotten how much I would miss him if he left us. So now I tell him more often. And I write him love letters….like I used to… And I watch him breathe and thank God for that breath–even when it comes out as a loud snore–the same loud snore that used to irritate me.

So  many lessons learned.   And now, as I head off shopping for funeral clothes with Steph. I have a feeling that even this will bring forth its own set of unique memories. And even when they arise out of grief, something good will be among them because that’s the way life works. There can be no polar end without it’s equal and opposite end. They’re always there in equal proportions. Sometimes you just have to search for them.

Take care everyone. Hug your family. Appreciate them. Love them like today is their last day.

(Originally written in 2006) –Holly Connors

June 6

The Real Way to a Man’s Heart.

“The center of a woman’s happiness in marriage is to be loved–but the center of a man’s is to be admired.” –Helen Andelin   The real way to a man’s heart is simple to understand, if we only take a minute to try.

Starting from when they are little boys, men begin to crave admiration.  A man wants you to see and admire what he can do, his ideas, and his accomplishments.   This drive for admiration is even bigger than his drive for love.  If you want to see an instant improvement in your relationship with your husband, father, or sons, pay close attention to this blog post, for it is when you express admiration for a man that you stir his feelings of love of you.

il_340x270.580849021_jqi9 Photo credit: Norman Rockwell

Starting at a young age, the drive for admiration goes deeper than any want.  It becomes a need.  It is an essential element to building a boy’s self-confidence to carry him into manhood.   Later, when he is grown, it is the boost that he needs to survive in the competitive world of men.  When admiration is missing from his life, it is disastrous.  Men who have lacked admiration often become cold and hardened.  They learn to repress the craving for admiration because they’ve given up on receiving it, but it remains under the surface, just as strong as ever.

Therefore, begin to make it a point to notice and acknowledge these traits in all of the males you have in your life.  But be advised however that if you were to compliment a man on the way he was helpful to you when he mopped the floor,  he might appreciate your acknowledgment, but it will do little to stir his feelings for you.  What he craves most is an acknowledgment of his masculine qualities.  Physical qualities to admire would be things like his large build, his strength, his beard, and anything that distinguishes him as male.  His abilities in sports, in lifting heavy objects, chopping wood, perhaps.

Mentally he desires admiration of his achievements, skills, and abilities.  This can be anything from the way provides for your family, how he fixed the broken door, or the way he earned his degree.  Tell him how dependable he is, how you admire his determination.   Tell him you are proud of him.

Why? Because it makes him feel manly and being made to feel like a man is one of the most pleasurable experiences a man can experience, and when a woman gives him that kind of feeling, she becomes indispensable to his happiness.   Don’t forget, as the late Maya Angelou said “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Do this often and your husband will learn to turn to you for comfort and companionship.  You will win his deep love and devotion.

If you aren’t sure what to admire, follow these simple steps:

(1) Spend some time thinking about him each day.  Think about what he is doing.  Think about things he has said.  And,

(2) Watch him closely.  If you keep your eyes on him, you’ll find things to admire.

and most importantly (3) Listen to him.

If he talks about his work and it bores you, resist the urge to look away and pay attention to your own tasks.  Stop what you are doing.  Look at him and listen.  Do you hear and see a man who is devoted to his work?  Do you hear and see a man who is working hard to provide?  What is he excited about? What skills does he have that you never acknowledged?  Is it something to admire? Perhaps he is talking about things you don’t understand.  Don’t be surprised to learn that he may be doing that on purpose.  He wants you to admire his vast knowledge as well.

Lastly, when you express your admiration, be sure to be sincere.  Do not take this lightly.  Superficial flattery will come across as an insult.  Anything you say that is not sincere will be easily detected as a lie.  He will resent it.  Be sure you’ve observed and listened and the things you express are heart-felt.  Doing these things will bring amazing rewards to him and his personal growth.  It will build his self-confidence and give him the fuel to become an even better man.   But more importantly, when you  have accepted him exactly as he is (as we talked about in our post a few days ago), and you sincerely admire your husband’s masculinity, it brings significant rewards to your relationship.

June 5

How to Create Perfect Love

Crazy, sweet, passionate, true love.  The kind of love that makes a man experience a feeling almost like pain deep in his heart.  Where he feels completely captivated by her.  When he feels a tenderness and a desire to protect and shelter her from all danger, harm, and difficulty.   It’s the kind of love we all hope for.   It’s what we dream about as little girls.  It’s old-fashioned, life-long love, and we can all have it right here right now.  How to create perfect love . . .

15546_1274359492286_4808674_n

Perfect, true love is not selfish.  The woman who can bring about this kind of love in her husband helps him find a deep happiness and fulfillment.  The woman who does not robs him of one of life’s greatest sources of joy.  And vice versa.  We owe it to ourselves to learn how to build such a relationship.   And it need not be a difficult task.  All we, as women, need to do is to learn how to understand men.   Yesterday we touched upon one of the steps to understanding men.   Today we talk about the qualities in women that men look for in a potential bride and lifelong soulmate.

Have you ever seen a couple that included a strikingly good-looking man and a somewhat homely woman and wondered what he sees in her?   The ideal woman in a man’s eyes is a very different creature that what you’d imagine.  Studies conducted throughout the last one hundred years have shown that when asked about what is important when looking for a potential mate, female physical beauty was nowhere near the top of the list for men.  Nor were the other qualities that women tend to assume men would seek like talent and intelligence.   Consistently men have shown a strong preference for girlishness, tenderness, sweetness in character, and a deep understanding of men.  Men have a very different interpretation of female beauty.  They place more importance in the “sparkle in her eyes”, how she smiles, how she radiates joy, and her feminine manner.  In other words, we are all able to cultivate the magical aspects that attract men and perfect love regardless of our physical presentation.

In the book Fascinating Womanhood, the author breaks down the attributes of an ideal woman into two parts–The Human side and the Angelic side.  The Angelic side has to do with a woman’s basic good character and her ability to understand men.   It also includes her domestic skills and her sense of inner happiness that she radiates to the world.  The Human side refers to a woman’s appearance and actions and her feminine qualities.  It also speaks to her dependence on a man for care and protection.  And lastly it includes a woman’s good health and her “spunk.”  Together, the two sides create what most men would call the perfect woman, and both sides are essential in winning his perfect, true love.

Each side awaken different feelings in a man.  The angelic side awakens feelings akin to worship.  It brings him peace and happiness. The human side awakens feelings of fascination and enchantment.  It awakens his desire to protect her from all danger.  And when he has the opportunity to feel all of these things for a woman, a man is said to “cherish” her.

That’s our goal.  We all want to be cherished.   To do that we need to find all the pieces of this puzzle and put it together.  Yesterday we talked about the most important step to understanding men.  Acceptance.  Accept your husband as he is.  Do not try to change him.  That step falls into the “Angelic side” of the female character.   No man really wants to be in a relationship with a woman who he does not see as a little bit of an angel.  He might enjoy her very much, but he would not ever fall deeply into love with her because to do so he must admire her to the point of worship.   I know this sounds like a lofty goal, but really the Angelic traits that can create this state of mind are not difficult to achieve.

There are four parts to the Angelic qualities–Understanding men, deep inner happiness, a worthy character, and good domestic skills.   If you read and completed yesterday’s post, you’re already well on your way to understanding men.   The next thing to know is that that men don’t think like women do.  They don’t approach problems like women do.  Nor do they have the same needs that women have or the same sense of values.

For example, love is essential to both.  To be admired is essential to both.   But to be loved is more important to women and to be admired is more important to a man.   One of our biggest problems in our marriages today is that we assume that our husbands will want to feel the same things that we feel, so we supply him with the same.   Unfortunately, that’s not what he needs.   So he doesn’t respond with the same tenderness that we expect and all sorts of hard feelings and misunderstandings result.   Next thing we know, we are snowballing our way to a miserable existence.

To avoid that, we need to be aware of the 6 Characteristics of men.  Here they are:

1.  His need to be accepted just as he is.

2. His need to be admired.

3. His ego/ his pride

4. His need for you to understand him

5. His need to be number one in your life

6. His need to be the guide, protector, and provider for his family

Tomorrow we’ll continue on with our lessons by looking at number 2–His need to be admired.  If you have not yet read and completed yesterday’s lesson, tonight is a good time to do that.   See you back here tomorrow!

June 4

Proven Steps for Improving a Marriage

Is your marriage as happy as it could be? Do you fear your marriage is heading for divorce? Is your husband distant? Does he seem cold and uncaring? Does it feel like your marriage lost its spark?  Read on for some possible insight as to what might be going wrong as well as some proven steps for improving a marriage.

Are you living a typical, modern American marriage where everything is split 50/50? The bills? The chores? Childcare? Do you have separate checking accounts? Do you have and plan separate retirement accounts, if you have one at all?

1918965_1274550897071_2490251_n

On a typical night, is it unknown who will prepare dinner? Are you thinking right now that it won’t matter because it’ll probably be take out? If we are in agreement so far, it’s likely that the kids don’t care who is home because they are on their electronic devices, and it doesn’t matter anyway because they don’t seem to respect mom or dad. Mom and dad are both exhausted and they fight a lot. The house is a mess. The laundry is piling up. The lawn needs to be mowed and there’s no time to do it. Grandma is wasting away in a nursing home and you only get out there once a week, if you’re lucky. Life is a mess.

Is that you? Or something similar?

If so, I’ll bet there is an underlying sense of distrust. Disgust. Anger. Jealousy. And Suspicion. Living separate but equal lives –which is what you’ve been doing until now– breeds those kinds of attitudes. Why? Because you have only “become one” on paper. You’ve left a wall of distrust between the two of you in every other area. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

For thousands of years there was a system for marriages that worked, and it worked because men have certain tendencies and needs and women have some very different tendencies and needs than men, and it just so happens that the two –when honored–fit together like a lock and key. The new modern system of living doesn’t honor any of our natural tendencies or needs. That’s why you are miserable. That’s why your husband is unhappy. If your marriage is suffering, you might benefit greatly by giving the old system a try.

The system works beautifully. Think of how many elderly couples have beautiful marriages that have lasted a lifetime. How did they do that? Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share the answer to that question and more with you. If you want to improve your marriage, you can. It’s not too late. But it will require that you clear your mind and open your heart to the possibility. Are you ready? Here we go. Step one.

Now I know that your opinion of your husband might not be terribly high right now. Hard feelings will deflate anyone’s passion and understanding for another, but I’m going to talk about the single most important step in repairing your marriage right now.

That step is to accept your husband for the man that he is. <GASP!> Yes. I know. How can I say that? And how can you do it? He’s a mess. He doesn’t put out as much effort to your home or to your marriage that you do. He spends money on stupid things. He doesn’t spend as much time with the kids as you’d like. Or any one of thousands of other complaints. Yes. I know.

But the first step to fixing all of the things that ail your marriage is accepting him and his ways of doing things. It means accepting his hopes and dreams. Accept his weaknesses and faults. Accept that he insists on wearing gym socks with sandals or the way he eats one row at at time off of the corn on the cob. Accept his quirks. You do not need to agree with everything he thinks and does. You just need to accept and respect his right to think and do them.

I’m also not asking you to ignore his weaknesses or tolerate them. Acknowledge that he is human. Acknowledge that he has faults, but then turn away from them. Find his positive traits and focus on those instead. You will find that with some practice your own attitude will turn to one of happy acceptance. You will no longer feel the need to change him. Instead you can focus on building a life together with him.

More than likely if you haven’t completely accepted him in the past, you’ve tried to change him. And it’s likely that you are reading this and thinking to yourself that you don’t try to change him. I used to think the same so I’m going to respectfully argue that you do, but perhaps in ways that you are not even aware you are doing it. Maybe you see yourself in this list of ways that women try to change men:

Attempting to change his eating habits and/or table manners

Nagging him about his driving–speed, directions, or choice of vehicle.

Complaining about his cleaning habits or lack thereof.

Advising him regarding swearing, drinking, smoking, belching, or talking too loudly in public.

Telling him where and how he should spend his money.

Nagging about his playing video games or watching t.v.

Nagging about his neglecting household duties or repairs, yard work, and household bills.

Complaining to him about his lack of social graces or courtesies.

Pushing him to spend more time with the kids.

Complaining that he doesn’t attend church or spends too much time on church activities.

Leading him to be more manly or to be more strict with the children.

Pushing him to have more ambition or maybe even less lofty dreams.

Do you see yourself in these? I’ll bet you do, but you have good reasons for doing those things, right? Yes. Women try to change men for lots of reasons. But whether it be to improve life for yourself or your children or for his own good, you still need to stop doing it. Why? Because it is causing problems in your marriage and nothing else is going to get better until you stop doing this first.

When you nag and push and complain and try to change him, you are destroying the love between you. You are creating tension and resentment. You are hurting his ego–a huge no no, and one that we will discuss at length tomorrow. When that happens, the love between you can actually be completely destroyed. Trust me. He is aware of his weaknesses but he expects you to look at his good points just as you expect him to look at yours. How would you feel if he suddenly decided to compare you to other women?

Trying to change him doesn’t work. He will simply dig in and rebel. You will only find yourself in a worse position than when you began. You will find yourself in a place where he can’t bear the sight of you. He will start staying out later and later. Your marriage will crumble.

So how can you help him to improve himself? You can’t. You have to be ready to accept that he is going to stay exactly how he is today. But here’s the thing. He can change himself, and when a man feels that a woman completely accepts him as he is, he is often inspired to become even more. When he believes that you are proud of the man he is, he will want to become a better man.

So where and how do you begin this process? Start by giving him his freedom. Let him do everything exactly as he wants to do it. Don’t coach him on how to dress, what to pack for a trip, what to eat, where to go, how to do anything. Don’t counsel him on religion or politics. Don’t lecture him on health. Let him solve problems for himself. Let him learn as he goes. Let him know his choices and allow him to use his own free will to make those choices. Let his spirit be free. It’s the only way he can develop as a human being. Why is it that we as women have such difficulty with this? Why do we struggle with allowing men to be the kind of men they want to be without interference? Why do we try to control them?

One of the hardest lessons I had to accept was surrounding my own self-righteousness. But it was true. When I pointed out my husband’s faults, I was putting myself in a position to judge. But did I have that right? Was I better than he was in any way? Am I a better person? No. I just didn’t believe I shared that particular fault, so i felt qualified to judge him. But I certainly had my faults. I may be better with cooking than he is, but he’s better with budgeting than I am. I might be better with deciphering legal contracts, but he is a better negotiator than I. He stays naturally lean and fit while I struggle with my weight. And the thing is that he has never once tried to point out his superiority over me with any of those things. Never. He accepts me just as I am. Yes. My greatest lesson was learning that it was I who needed changing. Not him.

I needed to stop demanding, giving ultimatums, criticizing, nagging, pushing, pulling, pressuring, suggesting, hinting, or comparing him to others. I needed to accept him. I needed to look beyond the faults and see the positives. When he was not paying as much attention to the children as I thought he should, and I looked past that, I saw a man who was working 60 hours a week then coming home and trying to fit in household repairs and other domestic chores. That was admirable. To then nag him for not spending time with his daughters was ludicrous. He was already stretched beyond his means as it was. He was doing the best he could.

Likewise when I was tempted to scold him for being difficult at work, I had to look past my worry about him possibly losing his job as a result of his defiance. I had to look into his world where i was shocked to discover that he walked into a literal battle ground every day. In his world there is a constant battle of one man over the other to try to stay on top or risk their jobs and everything else in their lives. He had to fight at work just to maintain his position so that he could care for us–so that he could keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. That was also incredibly admirable (and humbling.) My husband was not careless or inept. He was a warrior. And I’d failed to see it.

And when I did and he saw that I respected him and trusted him to do things on his own, his attitude began to shift to one of a more confident and happy man. From that point on, everything began to improve.

In fact it’s true for most marriage that women marry then try hard to change their husbands, but men marry hoping that the woman never changes. Unfortunately it is the exactly opposite that happens in both cases.

So here’s your assignment for tonight.

Step One: Accept your spouse in every way.

Step two: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Gather your courage. Punch down your ego. Sit him down and tell him that you’ve messed up. Tell him that you are sorry. You’ve judged him in the past. You’ve not been supportive of him. You had not understood him. Tell him that you are very happy with the kind of man he is and that you are happy he didn’t let you push him around. You are glad he’s held to his convictions. And then ask him to forgive you and let you prove to him that you are ready to accept him exactly as he is.

Step three: Make it a point every day to see his better side. What are the qualities that he has that you can admire. Find them. Focus on only them. If something comes up that makes you cringe, turn away from it. Do not criticize. Focus on the positive.

This is the beginning of a major change for your marriage. The moment you begin to focus on his better side, you will see an evolution beginning to occur. You will see hope.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the next key.

Feel free to comment below with his reaction to Step 2. Some will be shocked and relieved that the years of his agonizing self-doubt are over. Some will be pleased. Some will react with sarcasm because your relationship has been so rocky for so long that they won’t trust what you’re saying. No matter how he reacts, just listen. Don’t criticize. Don’t argue. Just listen. Agree. If he says he doesn’t believe you, agree. Tell him you can see why he might think that because you’ve never respected him in the past but you’re ready to change and you want his permission to try.

Tell him you’re reading about how to change, and you’re going to give it everything you have.

And I’ll see you here tomorrow.

PS. Please note that problems with alcoholism, drug addiction, and abuse are specifically excluded from any of the above. Those issues should never be blindly accepted and all require professional assistance for all parties involved. Please do not hesitate to seek assistance in any matter that jeopardizes the safety of you or your children.